Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Smart energy could save £8bn a year, say advisers
- Greenland's ice melt accelerating as surface darkens, raising sea levels
- Reports that February was warmest month are premature
- Oil and gas industry has pumped millions into Republican campaigns
- U.S. hi-tech energy agency chief aims to outperform Tesla
- University of East Anglia abandons ambitious biomass scheme
- New 'Coalition for Higher Ambition' calls on EU to step up efforts to honour Paris Agreement
- Sun goes down on solar thermal subsidies
- It's not 'doom and gloom' to point out what's really happening to coral reefs
- Why we need to stop fake claims that global warming paused
- Is Worry Worthwhile in Confronting Climate Change?
- Energy sector water use implications of a 2 °C climate policy
- Global climate change impacts on forests and markets
The UK could save up to £8bn a year by 2030 with a smarter, more flexible electricity system, says the National Infrastructure Commission. In its first report, due out later today, the body set up by chancellor George Osborne says the government needs to support demand flexibility to realise the savings. Commission chair Lord Adonis says fairer regulation and a better managed power network will allow “exciting new technologies” such as interconnectors, flexibility and storage to compete without the need for new subsidies and without “significant” public spending, reports the Financial Times. In a comment piece for Business Green, Kersti Berge from energy regulator Ofgem explains how the watchdog plans to manage the emergence of a more flexible electricity market. Meanwhile, the government could hand Ofgem the role of independent electricity system operator, according to the Guardian. It reports that current operator National Grid thinks the move would be of little benefit to consumers.
Measurements may ultimately show that February was warmer than any previous month on record, but we don’t really know yet, says Tom Yulsman for Discover Magazine. Meanwhile the Guardian asks if El Niño or climate change is behind records temperatures “as February breaks another global record”.
Fossil fuel millionaires have spent more than $100m on the race to elect a Republican presidential candidate, says the Guardian. It says about one in three dollars donated by wealthy individuals came from those that owe their fortune to fossil fuels. The story is based on analysis by Greenpeace, set out in two separate articles at EnergyDesk.
The US Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has made “huge strides” in next-generation battery research, reports Reuters. The agency hopes to give billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk a run for its money, according to its director. The work has reached some “holy grails” of battery storage and could transform the electric grid within five to 10 years, reports the Guardian.
A £10.5m plant intended to burn woodchip to power the University of East Anglia has never worked properly and is to be abandoned, reports the Guardian, citing “a source inside the university”. The scheme was supposed to cut the university’s carbon emissions by a third. TheTimes also has the story, under the headline “University blows £10m on green flops”.
A coalition of business and civil society groups is calling for more ambitious climate action from the EU, reports Business Green. The group is urging the EU to implement policies in line with keeping temperatures to “well below 2C”, as agreed in the Paris climate deal in December.
The government plans to end support for solar thermal heating systems, the Times reports. It wants to change the Renewable Heat Incentive subsidy scheme because solar thermal “represents poor value for money”. Around 230,000 homes have solar thermal systems in the UK. Per capita capacity is 20 times higher in Germany.
Recent articles in the Australian and the Times seem to suggest concerns about ocean warming and acidification “are all a big beat-up”, writes ocean scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg at the Conversation. The idea that risks from warming and acidification are based on distorted scientific literature “couldn’t be further from the truth”, he writes. In a column for the Times, the journalist Melanie Phillips writes: “overplaying the threat to coral reefs is just the latest example of ideology distorting research”.
Climate change deniers are nothing if not predictable, writes Mike Mann in New Scientist. After a recent paper he authored said there was a temporary slowdown of warming during the first decade of this century, conservative news outlets “claimed [there was] a fundamental schism within the scientific community”. He says there is in fact a “broad consensus among all the researchers involved on key points”.
Is it helpful to worry about a challenge as complex as climate change, muses Andy Revkin in a self-reflective blog at Dot Earth. Describing his recent experience of stroke, Revkin explains that some problems are so “grand and momentous that anxiety seems, at best, a waste of time and energy in confronting them”. Dealing with his stroke, he says, “parallels, in a strange way” his approach to the threat of climate change with a combination of urgency and patience.
The amount of freshwater used in generating electricity could increase by 600% globally by 2100, a new study says. Researchers assessed the impact on water use and thermal water pollution of expanding worldwide electricity demand in scenarios where global temperature rise is held below 2C. Reducing energy demand is one of key ways to limit this extra water use, the researchers say, as is focusing on wind and solar power, which require less water for cooling than traditional thermal power stations.
Warmer conditions in a future climate could see an increase in timber production of around 30% over this century, a new study suggests. Researchers undertook an economic analysis of climate change impacts in the global forest sector. They project an increase in global aboveground forest carbon storage by approximately 26bn tonnes by 2115, potentially offsetting emissions from other sectors.
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