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World at tipping point for renewable energy

World at tipping point for renewable energy
Adnan Z. Amin is director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Fatih Birol is executive director of the International Energy Agency. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the authors.

The world has reached a tipping point: Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies are now the solutions of choice, with other options taking second place.

At least 164 countries have set renewable energy targets. And countries representing more than 90% of the global economy have taken the remarkable step of submitting pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the COP21 climate summit in Paris next week.

Since the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009, renewable electricity generation has increased more than 40%. Renewables contributed almost half of the world's new power generation capacity in 2014 and have already become the second-largest source of electricity.

Deployment also continues to shift toward energy-hungry emerging markets. China and India have upped their renewable ambitions significantly.

Much of this has to do with cost...


NYT: Presidential Contenders Differ Sharply on Climate

Coal and Nuclear

After running as a champion of coal in 2008, Clinton now calls for protecting health benefits for coal miners and their families and helping retrain them for new jobs. She would use a combination of tax incentives and government grants to help coal-dependent communities repurpose old mine sites and attract new economic investment.

Republicans all support coal production and enthusiastically back nuclear energy; Clinton offers cautious support for nuclear power. Sanders has called for a moratorium on nuclear-plant license renewals and cheered the closure of the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Sanders' record wins plaudits from environmental organizations, but the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund has endorsed Clinton, the group's earliest endorsement since 1984.

"When it comes to fighting the climate crisis, the stakes couldn't be higher, and we are confident that Hillary Clinton is the right person for the job," LCV president Gene Karpinski said.

Snipped from comprehensive NYT piece at: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/11/27/us/politics/ap-us-campaign-2016-energy.html

Solar Prices Could Be 10% Less Than Coal In India By 2020

Solar Prices Could Be 10% Less Than Coal In India By 2020
November 17th, 2015 by Jake Richardson

KPMG has released a report stating that by 2020 solar power in India could cost about 10% less than coal power, saying “Solar power price declines have beaten the expectations of most analysts since the beginning of 2015. In the ongoing NTPC solar park tender, solar prices have breached the INR 5/kwh and this is a landmark for the energy sector. Today, in India, solar prices are within 15% of power prices on a levelized basis. Our forecast is that by 2020, solar power prices could be up to 10% lower than coal power prices.” You can read the full report, titled ‘The Rising Sun – Disruption on the Horizon‘ here.

2020 is not that far away, and if it does come to pass that solar power is cheaper than electricity generated by coal in just a handful of years in such a huge country that consumes tremendous quantities of the stuff, it certainly would be quite a milestone.

“We need to re-engineer our process to create energy efficiency and conservation to give India an affordable energy access. A holistic vision is the need of the hour in order to reach 200 million people at a faster rate. I am personally convinced that any amount of investment in this sector will have a quick pay back,” explained energy minister Piyush Goyal.

We’ve already seen that solar power in Chile can be cheaper than electricity produced by coal. Who is paying attention to these developments though? Critics and cynics could say that Chile is a nation of only 17 million with exceptional solar power potential, and therefore is not indicative of a larger solar power trend.

However, India’s population is 1.25 billion...

KPMG study: https://www.kpmg.com/IN/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/ENRich2015.pdf

Germany proposes new renewable energy goals

Proposals made for German renewable tender volumes

27 November 2015 16:41 Source:ICIS

The German economic affairs ministry has published updated proposals about the country’s future renewable energy subsidy system.

The new system will shift the majority of Germany’s renewable energy subsidies from feed-in tariffs and market price-based premiums to tenders, where new plants compete for financial support.

Experts have said Germany is likely to miss its renewable energy targets with the tender designs the ministry proposed in the summer (see EDEM 17 September 2015).

In updated proposals, the ministry outlined on Wednesday how future tender volumes will be determined to achieve the renewable energy targets the state has set – to increase solar and onshore wind capacity each 2.4-2.6GW annually, have 6.5GW of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 15GW by 2030 and to meet 40-45% of Germany’s power consumption with renewables in 2025. The ministry added a consultation on the proposals is likely to appear in January....

A Welcome Endorsement for Nuclear Power

Friday, 27 November 2015
A Welcome Endorsement for Nuclear Power
Written by John F. McManus*

Joshua S. Goldstein is emeritus professor of international relations at American University and a research scholar at the University of Massachusetts. Steven Pinker is professor of psychology at Harvard University. These two recently teamed up to pen a lengthy column in the Boston Globe entitled “Inconvenient Truths for the Environmental Movement.”

The two men do believe climate change is caused by human action. They contend that burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity by humans — resulting in carbon dioxide being sent into the atmosphere — causes a rise in the earth’s temperature. There are growing numbers of scientists who disagree. But, unlike most of the would-be banners of fossil fuel, Goldstein and Pinker’s solution doesn’t target its use in generating electricity. They thereby separate themselves from environmental extremists who insist that the carbon dioxide byproduct of burning coal and oil to produce electricity is a hazard serious enough to ban the practice. Then they present a strong case for nuclear power.

Here’s how these two educators addressed this topic: “Nuclear power is the world’s most abundant and scalable carbon-free energy source. In today’s world, every nuclear power plant that is not built is a fossil-fuel plant that does get built…. Yet the use of nuclear power has been stagnant or even contracting.” Their point, of course, is that by not relying on nuclear power, the need for burning coal and oil cannot be avoided if electricity is needed — which it surely is. They then make the point that solar and wind power amounts to a mere one percent of the need and cannot be counted on to meet the needs for electric power.

Aware of the fears surrounding nuclear power, Goldstein and Pinker point out that the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan killed no one. But, they note in sadness, it unnecessarily led Germany to shut down some of its nuclear plants. In France where nuclear power produces three-quarters of the nation’s electricity, environmentalists are forcing a shutdown. And the anti-nukes in America also wrongly claim that Japan’s nuclear accident is reason to abandon nuclear power here....

*John F. McManusis president of The John Birch Society and publisher of The New American. This column appeared originally at the insideJBS blog and is reprinted here with permission.

SPLC on JBS https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2013/bringing-back-birch

And now for something rather different

February 2007 // Volume 45 // Number 1 // Research in Brief // 1RIB5
Randall E. James
Ohio State University Extension
Burton, Ohio

Horse and Human Labor Estimates for Amish Farms
Amish farms are one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. farm community. A 2003 study estimated horse and human labor requirements for Amish farms. A typical Amish crop rotation of 15 acres small grains, 20 acres alfalfa hay, and 15 acres corn was found to have a total labor requirement of only 920 hours/year. Using information from this study and earlier research, a series of crop enterprise budgets for Amish farms was developed. These budgets provide a tool that Extension educators can use with the rapidly growing number of Amish farms across the country.

Extension workers are increasingly being called on to assist Amish farm families. The Amish population more than doubles every 20 years, and farming has always been one of the foremost occupations. There are over 1,400 congregations, or church districts, in at least 33 states and one Canadian province. These church districts are clustered together into more than 250 settlements (Kraybill & Hostetter, 2001; Kraybill, 1989). New settlements are constantly being established in areas where Amish have never lived before, which means an ever-increasing number of Extension educators need relevant materials to assist these new communities.

The economic efficiencies of large farms and the cost-size relationships of farms have long been important areas of research for agricultural economists (Castle, 1989). Extension educators have sometimes advocated that farms need to both get bigger and specialize in order to survive. Against this backdrop, it is easy to view Amish farms as an anachronism--a part of our rural past. However, Extension educators need to view Amish farms as important, valid clientele. Small, diversified Amish farms, using traditional farming methods and draft horses, or mules, as a major power source, are surprisingly successful, sustainable, and profitable (James, 2005; Bender, 2001; Stinner, Moore, & Stinner, 1999; Stinner, Paoletti & Stinner, 1989).

The proceedings of...


Prescription (Valeant Pharmaceuticals) skin drug costs skyrocket

Prescription skin drug costs skyrocket
Thursday - Nov. 26, 2015
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The cost of prescription skin treatments has skyrocketed since 2009 as the burden of escalating drug prices weighs more on family budgets.

Retail prices have surged 401 percent since 2009 for brand-name drugs for skin conditions, according to research published in JAMA Dermatology, a medical journal. That compares to an overall inflation rate of just 11 percent during the same period.

Of the 19 brand-name drugs analyzed in the study published this week, price hikes have been most extreme for two drugs made by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., which has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors for documents tied to its pricing and practices. It is under investigation by several members of Congress. The Canada-based company has acquired smaller drug developers and then raised prices of their medicines.

Costs for Valeant's Targretin gel skin cancer treatment have shot up 18-fold during the past six years to $30,320 per 60-gram tube. Prices for a separate Valeant skin cancer cream, Carac cream, also surged 18 times to $2,865 for a 30-gram tube.

But the study found that...

U.S. working to keep up with surging weapons demand: Pentagon

U.S. working to keep up with surging weapons demand: Pentagon
By Reuters Media on Nov 25, 2015 at 3:00 p.m.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is working hard to ensure quicker processing of U.S. foreign arms sales, which surged 36 percent to $46.6 billion in fiscal 2015 and look set to remain strong in coming years, a top Pentagon official said.

"Projections are still strong," Vice Admiral Joe Rixey, who heads the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), told Reuters in an interview late on Monday.

He said the agency was trying to sort out the impact of a much stronger-than-expected fourth quarter as it finalized its forecast for arms sales in fiscal 2016, which began Oct. 1.

The fight against Islamic State militants and other armed conflicts around the globe were fueling demand for U.S. missile defense equipment, helicopters and munitions, Rixey said, a shift from 10 years ago when the focus was on fighter jets.

"It's worldwide. The demand signal is coming in Europe, in the Pacific and in Centcom," he said, referring to the U.S. Central Command region, which includes the Middle East and Afghanistan.

U.S. companies ...

This is what the move away from carbon looks like...

Leapfrogging to Solar: Emerging Markets Outspend Rich Countries for the First Time
By Tom Randall, Bloomberg

We all know the story of how mobile phones took off in emerging markets. Suddenly small cocoa farmers in Africa who never had a landline or a computer were checking commodity prices on their smartphones.
Today something similarly profound is starting to happen with renewable energy.

For the first time, more than half of the world's annual investment in clean energy is coming from emerging markets instead of wealthier nations, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The handoff occurred last year, and it's just the beginning.

The chart below shows quarterly clean-energy investment in OECD countries versus non-OECD countries. The trajectory is clear: If you’re a power plant salesperson, you’re probably going to be working with renewables in poor countries from now until the foreseeable future.

The world recently passed a turning point and is adding more capacity for clean energy each year than for coal, natural gas, and oil combined. For that trend to continue, rapidly developing economies are critical.

Last year, emerging markets invested a record $126 billion in clean energy, up 39 percent from the prior year, according to BNEF's new report, called Climatescope. China dominated, adding 35 GW of clean energy, or more than the U.S., U.K., and France combined. India may soon be a contender, with a plan announced this year to add 175 GW by 2022.

The report...


Republicans’ Flip-Flop on Wind Energy Could Hurt Them in 2016

Republicans’ Flip-Flop on Wind Energy Could Hurt Them in 2016
July 20, 2015

Which way is the wind blowing on alternative energy? Look no further than Iowa, where turbines have shot up across the flat, open landscape in recent years. Nationally, wind energy is still a nascent industry, accounting for just 4.4 percent of overall electricity production last year. But Iowa made an early bet on wind, and it's proving that alternate forms of energy can take on coal—if the conditions are right. And this has put the Republican candidates for president in an awkward position as they campaign in the swing state.

Iowa has come a long way since 2007, when the region received less than six percent of its electricity from wind and 75 percent from coal. By 2013, however, wind accounted for 28 percent of its electrical grid, with coal dropping to 59 percent. And coal’s dominance will continue to diminish. Last week, the public utility Iowa Interstate Power and Light said it would shut down or stop burning coal at five of its power plants in the next few years.

All this is music to the ears of liberal environmentalists, of course, who have long championed alternate sources of energy. It's hardly surprising that, in the 2014 election cycle, Democratic candidates reaped 70 percent of federal contributions from the American Wind Energy Association.

But Republicans were actually among wind energy's early proponents. In the early 1990s, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley was the lawmaker who authored the original legislation creating the wind production tax credit, the federal policy that’s been key to making wind competitive. President George H.W. Bush signed the tax credit into law in 1992, and George W. Bush renewed it. “I’m glad to defend the wind production tax credit and wind energy,” Grassley said in May. Among wind energy’s advantages, Grassley noted that it displaces “more expensive and more polluting sources of energy, lowering electricity prices for consumers.” Critics, he said, “disregard the many incentives and subsidies that exist for other sources of energy, and are permanent law.”

Today, though, GOP support for wind investment is scarce. ...

Republican legislators' hatred for renewable energy is increasing in direct proportion to the threat posed to their precious coal and nuclear plants.
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