Today's climate and energy headlines:
- The Trump administration just disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change
- Charge electric car but don’t boil kettle, says National Grid
- Eclipse spectacle set to grip US public
- Macquarie to back ‘pioneering’ energy breakthroughs through Green Investment Bank
- Norway embarks on mission improbable
- Should You Trust Climate Science? Maybe the Eclipse Is a Clue
- Greenland: how rapid climate change on world's largest island will affect us all
- The hidden costs of renewable power
- CloudSat and CALIPSO within the A-Train: Ten years of actively observing the Earth system
- The road to achieving the long-term Paris targets: energy transition and the role of direct air capture
- Estimation of greenhouse gas emissions in China 1990–2013
The Trump administration has disbanded the federal advisory panel for the US National Climate Assessment, reports the Washington Post. The group aimed to help policymakers and the private sector incorporate government climate analysis into long-term planning. Its charter, which expired on Sunday, has not been renewed. The next National Climate Assessment is due out in 2018. A draft of the scientific background report – leaked to the New York Times – is under review with the administration.
If home owners install 11 kilowatt (kW) fast chargers for their electric cars, they may not be able to run other appliances at the same time without tripping their home’s main fuse, writes the Financial Times, based on a “thought piece” from the National Grid. Today, car chargers clock in at just 3.5kW, the paper notes.
The total solar eclipse that will sweep across the US later today continues to garner headlines, with the BBC noting it is the first to make landfall exclusively in the country since it gained independence in 1776. In the New York Times, Brad Plumer looks at the impact of the eclipse on solar power, in particular in California, where the eclipse will cast a shadow over more than 5,600 megawatts of solar panels. “For months, the nation’s grid overseers have been preparing for any disruptions in solar power that the eclipse might cause, by running models and training operators in simulators for worst cases. Because solar still provides less than 1 percent of electricity nationwide, regulators are confident that the lights will stay on, other energy sources will compensate and the costs will be minimal,” Plumer writes. The eclipse will temporarily send temperatures tumbling, notes Bloomberg, with a chill in the air peaking around 5-20 minutes after the shadow passes.
Macquarie, the new owner of the privatised UK Green Investment Bank has pledged to put more money into emerging technologies such as electric vehicle charging, batteries and low-carbon heating, reports the Telegraph. It will also continue the bank’s previous investments in offshore wind and energy from waste, the group’s new boss tells the paper.
“For years Norway has charged British cities to take their waste while creating a valuable source of heat and energy on the side. Now it has plans to create a third source of income from UK rubbish.” So starts a feature piece by Jillian Ambrose, business reporter at the Telegraph, about just one part of a “radical national programme to turn carbon capture into a new pan-European industry, with Norway in the driving seat.” Under the scheme, CO2 from factories all across Europe would be piped on to ships and brought to Norway and then injected deep into salt caverns under the seabed. “Norway’s plans are audacious,” writes Ambrose. “Its government believes that within the next five years it will be able to develop a system to rid the whole of Europe of its unwanted carbon emissions.”
“Eclipse mania will peak on Monday, when millions of Americans will upend their lives in response to a scientific prediction,” writes Justin Gillis in the New York Times. He goes on to set out the many scientific predictions made by climate scientists that have since been proven correct. As you watch the eclipse today, Gillis writes: “Think about the centuries of patient effort that followed to work out the precise motions of the solar system, now understood so thoroughly that we can use them to predict eclipses centuries in advance. If you respect and honor the scientists who did this work, then spare another moment to think about the scientists whose work is under attack today, and why.”
A recent large wildfire in Greenland is “yet another signpost of deep environmental change in the Arctic”, writes Kathryn Adamson, a climate scientist from Manchester Metropolitan University, in the Conversation. The region is particularly vulnerable to climate change, she writes. The fire is just one of a range of recent extraordinary events, Adamson says, from melting ice sheets to thawing permafrost and species shifts.
Renewables benefit from “hidden extra transfers of wealth from the consumer”, writes Financial Times city editor Jonathan Ford in the Inside Business column. This involves an “underlying build-up of costs in the system as a whole”, he says, pointing to the costs of balancing wind and solar output. As Ford notes, a recent UK Energy Research Centre report – covered in detail by Carbon Brief – puts these costs at £10 per megawatt hour. He then cites much higher estimates from Gordon Hughes, a “former professor of economics” and, as Ford does not mention, a contributor to the climate sceptic lobby group the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
A new paper looks backs at more than 10 years of observations jointly collected by CloudSat and CALIPSO satellites, launched together in April 2006. The data has resulted in new ways of looking at aerosol, clouds, and rainfall and new discoveries about processes that connect them. It is now clear that monitoring the vertical structure of clouds and aerosols is essential, the researchers say, and a climate data record is now being constructed. These pioneering efforts are to be continued with the EarthCARE mission planned for launch in 2019, they note.
Limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels will only be possible with the help of direct air capture (DAC) technology, a new modelling study suggests. The research quantifies the energy transition and economic consequences of the long-term targets (1.5C and 2C) of the Paris Agreement. DAC – a technology that removes emissions directly from the atmosphere – can play an important role in realising deep decarbonisation goals, the researchers say, and in the reduction of regional and global mitigation costs with stringent targets.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in China increased from almost 3.5bn tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 1990 to 12.5bn in 2013, a new study says. Researchers produced a GHG inventory based on the latest released official statistical data in China from 1990 to 2013. The largest source of emissions is energy production, the study says, which increased its share of emissions from 78% to 82% during the period. In terms of gas type, CO2 emissions accounted for 86% of the total in 2013, followed by methane (8%) and then nitrous oxide (3%).
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