jeudi 19 janvier 2017

How 2016 Became Earth’s hottest Year on Record

By JUGAL K. PATEL JAN. 18, 2017

Global temperatures have continued to rise, making 2016 the hottest year on the historical record and the third consecutive record-breaking year, scientists say. Of the 17 hottest years ever recorded, 16 have now occurred since 2000.

In the historical record, months early in the year, like February and March, have moved further away from the norm than the rest of the year. Scientists expect that the early months of 2017 will continue to show levels of warming beyond the norm, but likely not at the level of 2016 because a strong El Niño weather pattern is now subsiding.

Human-induced climate change has made it at least 160 times more likely that three consecutive years after 2000 would be record-setting, according to Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University.

His findings show that if human-induced climate change was not part of the equation, the amount of warming in 2016 would have less than one-in-a-million odds of occurring.

“One could argue that about 75 percent of the warmth was due to human impact,” Dr. Mann said.

The later months of 2015 and the first half of 2016 experienced faster warming partly due to the El Niño climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which sent a surge of heat into the atmosphere.

The El Niño pattern occurs irregularly, in intervals of about two to seven years, and scientists say that the most recent El Niño was among the largest in a century. The peak of the most recent El Niño occurred during winter of 2015, and temperatures were dramatically higher than normal. It began to subside over the course of 2016.

Scientists are working to understand whether climate change is also making El Niño phenomena stronger.

Historical records of global temperature are compiled by two American government agencies: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Meteorological agencies in Britain and Japan also compile reliable datasets of global temperature.

The analyses by the agencies are based on thousands of measurements from weather stations, ships and ocean buoys around the world. Each group tracking global temperature uses different methods to take account of problems in the data, but usually reach similar conclusions about the significant long-term trend of global warming.

For 2016, the records from NASA were likely the most accurate, because of data collection in Antarctica and a more sophisticated statistical analysis in the Arctic. The combination allows NASA to have more reliable coverage in the polar regions of the world, which have been highly affected by rising temperatures. Global sea ice extent reached near record low levels late in 2016.

“We expect records to continue to be broken as global warming proceeds,” Dr. Mann said.

Global oil, gas discoveries drop to 70-year low: Rystad Energy

By Ron Bousso | LONDON

Oil and gas discoveries around the world dropped last year to their lowest since the 1940s after companies sharply cut back in their search for new resources amid falling oil prices.

The decline in discoveries means companies such as Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell will struggle to offset the natural depletion of existing fields, reinforcing forecasts of a supply shortage by the end of the decade.

Total oil and gas resources found in 2016 reached just more than 6 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), said Sona Mlada, senior analyst at Oslo-based consultancy Rystad Energy.

The numbers do not include North American shale resources which have been a key driver in supply growth in recent years.

Offshore liquid discoveries, where most major new fields have been found in recent decades, reached 2.3 billion boe last year, 90 percent below 2010 levels.

As a result, companies were able on average to replace only 10 percent of their oil and liquid gas reserves last year, compared with a reserve replacement ratio of 30 percent in 2013.

"The lack of discovered volumes in 2016 will not have an immediate impact on the global oil supply in the short-term, given the lead time it takes from the discovery to start-up of a field's production," Mlada said.

"However, these 'missing' discovered volumes in the current years could have an impact on the global supply some 10 years down the line – depending on the investment decisions of the exploration companies."

Several significant discoveries were announced in recent weeks including Exxon's find of 100-150 million boe offshore Guyana and Statoil's 80 million boe discovery off Norway.

Global exploration spending dropped in 2016 to $40 billion and could drop further this year, consultancy WoodMackenzie said last month.

Barack Obama transfers $500m to Green Climate Fund in attempt to protect Paris deal

New instalment leaves $2bn owing, with Donald Trump expected to cease any further payments Barack Obama has heeded calls to help secure the future of the historic Paris agreement by transferring a second $500m instalment to the Green Climate Fund, just three days before he leaves office.

The fund was a key aspect of the Paris agreement signed in 2015, which aims to keep global warming “well below” 2C and aspires to keep warming to 1.5C.

Established in 2010, it is financed by wealthy countries and used to assist developing countries with adaptation and mitigation. It was widely seen as a key measure to bring both rich and poor countries to the negotiating table.

The US committed to transferring $3bn to the fund. The new instalment leaves $2bn owing, with the incoming president, Donald Trump, expected to cease any further payments.

The move followed a large campaign, with more than 100 organisations and nearly 100,000 people calling for Obama to transfer the full $2.5bn owed to the fund.

“The Obama administration is refusing to let president-elect Trump’s posse of oil barons and climate deniers dictate how the world responds to the climate crisis,” said Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, of Corporate Accountability International, which led the campaign.

“Tens of thousands of people around the world called on President Obama to step up before Trump takes the keys of our government and tries to reverse decades of climate progress,” she said. “This victory is the climate justice movement’s opening salvo to the Trump presidency. And we’re not going away.”

The money is being drawn from the state department, the same way that the first transfer was, allowing it to be done using executive powers without congressional support.

samedi 14 janvier 2017

Dutch electric trains become 100% powered by wind energy

The national railway company, NS, said that its renewables target had been met a year earlier than planned.

All Dutch electric trains are now powered by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said “Since 1 January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” said NS spokesman, Ton Boon.

Dutch electricity company Eneco won a tender offered by NS two years ago and the two companies signed a 10-year deal setting January 2018 as the date by which all NS trains should run on wind energy.

“So we in fact reached our goal a year earlier than planned,” said Boon, adding that an increase in the number of wind farms across the country and off the coast of the Netherlands had helped NS achieve its aim.

Eneco and NS said on a joint website that around 600,000 passengers daily are “the first in the world” to travel thanks to wind energy. NS operates about 5,500 train trips a day.

One windmill running for an hour can power a train for 120 miles, the companies said. They hope to reduce the energy used per passenger by a further 35% by 2020 compared with 2005.

One windmill running for an hour can power a train for 120 miles, the companies said. They hope to reduce the energy used per passenger by a further 35% by 2020 compared with 2005.

Obama in Science: The Renewable Revolution Will Outlast Trump

The president makes the case for his energy legacy in one of the nation’s preeminent scientific journals.

For the past five years, solar and wind energy have exploded in popularity in the United States. Since the election of Donald Trump, energy analysts have been trying to figure out if that trend will continue.

Some analysts argue that the trend is irreversible. The cost of solar and wind power are falling so fast that they will soon beat fossil fuels on price alone, regardless of what the federal government does. Since 2008, the price per watt of utility-scale solar energy has fallen by 64 percent. Even Walmart puts solar panels on its roofs now.

Others argue that the Obama administration has stoked this sense of technological inevitability—and that if the Trump White House were to heavily subsidize coal or natural gas, or permanently disrupt the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, the rise of renewables might falter.

Now the man whose administration shaped that energy policy has weighed in on the debate. In a policy paper published Monday in the major academic journal Science, President Barack Obama argues that—no matter what his successor does—the growth of solar and wind energy is irreversible.

“Putting near-term politics aside, the mounting economic and scientific evidence leave me confident that trends toward a clean-energy economy that have emerged during my presidency will continue,” he writes. “The economic opportunity for our country to harness that trend will only grow.”

Why is the president so sanguine about clean energy? He lays out four reasons.

First, he says that the United States has proven that an advanced economy can grow without greenhouse gas emissions growing too—a phenomenon that in energy jargon is called decoupling.

“CO2 emissions from the energy sector fell by 9.5 percent from 2008 to 2015, while the economy grew by more than 10 percent,” he writes. (This decline has been due in some part to the replacement of coal-generated electricity with natural-gas burning, but more on that in a bit.)

Second, many businesses will continue to make energy-efficiency investments, he says—though he adds that some of these investments were only possible thanks to federal energy-efficiency standards. Third, the power sector is already switching electricity plants from coal to natural gas and is unlikely to migrate back to coal. Finally, the entire world is moving toward clean energy and investing in renewable development, he says. If nothing else, it will tug the United States along with it. (Just last week, China committed to spending at least $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020.)Obama makes two references to “near-term federal policy.” This is how to talk about Trump without ever saying “Trump.”

It’s the third time in a week that Obama has taken to a preeminent journal to defend his legacy. On Thursday, he wrote a commentary for the Harvard Law Review on the chief executive’s role in criminal-justice reform. The next day, he warned in The New England Journal of Medicine against repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.

You could understand this publishing streak as the wonk president taking a final, well-credentialed bow—or as Obama, the great establishmentarian, making one last appeal to the institutions that made him and bolstered his presidency.

To my eye, the most interesting part of the president’s paper is his point about natural gas and power generation. In 2016, natural gas surpassed coal and became the largest generator of electricity in the United States. Obama argues, basically, that the fuels won’t switch back. In this argument he makes two different references to “near-term federal policy.” It seems he is talking about Trump without ever actually saying “Trump”:

Because the cost of new electricity generation using natural gas is projected to remain low relative to coal, it is unlikely that utilities will change course and choose to build coal-fired power plants, which would be more expensive than natural gas plants, regardless of any near-term changes in federal policy. Although methane emissions from natural gas production are a serious concern, firms have an economic incentive over the long term to put in place waste-reducing measures consistent with standards my Administration has put in place, and states will continue making important progress toward addressing this issue, irrespective of near-term federal policy.

The president is making two arguments by allusion here. First, he is warning that even if the Trump administration soon subsidizes coal mining, those subsidies will not last long enough to justify new coal power plants. Second, he is asserting that the EPA’s recent restrictions on natural-gas leaks—a regulation that Republicans in Congress have sworn to repeal— are in the best interest of the entire energy industry.

Natural gas is primarily composed of methane, a greenhouse gas. It can trap more than 25 times as much heat as carbon dioxide, though it only remains in the atmosphere for about a decade on average. (CO2 can hang around in the atmosphere for 10 centuries.) The Obama administration’s methane rule mostly aims to prevent natural gas from escaping into the atmosphere during the fracking process.

Rob Barnett, a senior analyst for energy policy at Bloomberg Intelligence, agreed with most of the president’s trend-spotting.

“Even if Trump’s administration is able to provide regulatory relief to the coal industry, there isn’t likely to be much interest in building new coal-fired power plants in the U.S.,” he told me in an email. Natural gas edges out coal both from a fuel-price and a long-term investment perspective.

But he warned that fossil-fuel emissions haven’t gone down in every sector. Nationally, gasoline demand is slightly up since Obama’s presidency began.

“Even in California, where regulators have thrown the kitchen sink at carbon emissions, gasoline consumption and emissions have risen six percent since 2012,” Barnett said. “Reversing the current trend may require greater regulatory focus.”

It makes sense that Obama would now argue for his legacy’s irreversibility—arguing from inevitability has always been a great aspect of his politics, in energy and otherwise.

Obama’s energy policy has been in great part about pushing private investment into the renewable-energy industry. Domestically, he has tried to communicate, using every available lever of the federal government, that a clean-energy transition was coming. Globally, his administration has seen climate treaties as one more crucial investment signal. Even as he was negotiating the Paris Agreement, Secretary of State John Kerry described it as principally a sign to the world’s companies that renewable energy (and climate mitigation generally) was a growth market.

“We are sending literally a critical message to the global marketplace,” Kerry said on December 12, 2015, from the Paris talks. “One-hundred-eighty-six nations [are] saying to global business in one loud voice: We need to move in this direction. And that will move investment.”

As Obama leaves office, he is communicating his message about the inevitability of clean energy again. Millions of Americans—including the more than 700,000 employed in the renewable-energy industry—are hoping he is right.

Rooftop solar power can replace diesel gensets in residential societies

 JAIPUR: A new analysis done by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) suggests that residential societies which use diesel generator sets for power back-up can easily replace them with rooftop solar power systems and save substantially on costs.

"In all the residential societies that CSE studied and analysed, the cost of power from solar rooftop with battery back-up was found to be about half the cost of power generated by DG sets. This alone should make residential societies move away from the extremely polluting diesel generator and adopt solar rooftop to meet their power back-up needs," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.

The CSE study examined the feasibility of solar rooftops in residential societies across Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. CSE's research was aimed at understanding the economic considerations including financing and generation cost; architectural and roof space preferences; building by-laws; and constraints experienced by various stakeholders including customers, government agencies and distribution companies (discoms).

The study found that the cost of power generation from a DG set, including the capital cost, is Rs 27 to Rs 33 per unit compared to rooftop solar tariff of less than Rs 10 per unit.

The CSE study finds that as power outage from the grid reduces, the cost of power generation from DG sets increases and that from solar rooftops with battery storage becomes more financially attractive. "DG back-up has become increasingly redundant because of reducing power outages in cities. On an average, many cities now have less than an hour of power cut in a day. We must realise that 'full back-up' was considered a basic need by upscale societies when the outages often lasted several hours a day," said Priyavrat Bhati, programme director, energy.

Latest Comment

I have roof top solar 1 KV panels with battery backup. It works fine. but in winter i get 1/4 th of power than summer.I turn it on in the morning and evening go back to grid.same time battery is full... Read MoreSatish Arora

The study concludes that for most societies, solar rooftop would be able to meet the basic load for individual flats ('partial load' in industry parlance which covers lighting, fans and some communication and entertainment appliances) along with essential area loads. "Moving away from the DG set to solar rooftop requires a change in mindset. If power outage is less than a hour a day then the very definition of "full back-up" needs to be changed. For tens of minutes of outage, even for the high end societies "partial load back-up" should be sufficient," adds Bhushan.

CSE researchers have estimated that up to 3 giga-watt (GW) of solar rooftop can be installed on new residential societies over the next five-seven years. This segment can, therefore, be a key to reaching the government's ambitious target of 40 GW solar rooftop to be achieved by 2022.

German power battery storage to grow three-fold this year: study

Germany's power grid industry will expand big electricity battery capacity more than three-fold this year to 200 megawatts (MW) from 60 MW, German advisory group Team Consult said in a study of the new business area.
Battery storage is a significant new development in the transformation of the power sector as it will eventually allow harnessing of fluctuating wind and solar power for use by transport grids, solar-producing householders, and the car industry.
Germany is on a course to derive 80 percent of its power supply from renewables by 2050, having achieved a share of 30 percent in 2016, while the expansion of networks to transport the weather-driven production lags far behind targets.
This is where batteries come in, to supply super fast balancing services, in order to ensure that the system runs efficiently.
"We observe a rising trend for storage batteries to be used to stabilize grids," said author Christoph Hankeln.

Through the batteries, grids will receive short-term boosts to cope with varying green power output.
The allocation of volumes is set via weekly auctions in the primary balancing market, which is organized by grid operators.
In this market, would-be providers compete to supply or absorb power within seconds, in return for service fees.
Team Consult estimates that this market has a 800 MW capacity, meaning batteries could account for 25 percent by the end of this year, displacing some of the currently active thermal energy plants.
An example is coal-to-power group Steag, which in a 100 million euros ($106.32 million) project is due to complete the installation of six 15 MW batteries at German coal plant sites this year.