German Solar Experience Offers Critical ‘Lessons Learned’

Germany has been through a long history of coal, nuclear and renewables. And there are lessons to be learnt, for sure.

A report prepared by Financial Advisory AG (Finadvice) for the Edison Electric Institute highlights a number of points:

significant increases in energy prices to most users, as well as value destruction for all stakeholders: consumers, renewable companies,electric utilities, financial institutions and investors.

I believe it is doubtful that increases in energy can be attributed to renewables – or at least not only. Prices increase in general and so does the cost for fossil fuels.
However:

Without a doubt, renewables have helped achieve the CO2 goals, thereby taking some of the burden from other emission sources and keeping the CO2 certificate prices lower than they would have otherwise been.

This statement was in relation to general and global CO2 emissions. When we get to the energy sector CO2 emissions, we can notice an increase in CO2 emissions. So overall Germany has decreased emissions but the energ7 sector has increased emissions? So where do the reductions come from then?

Despite recent difficulties in the solar market, it is expected that new renewable energy jobs will reach 500,000 in 2020.

We have hear previously that the energy prices have increased. I guess this would not factor the creation of the currently 400,000 new jobs in. What would be the employment opportunity for those skilled people and what would the cost be if they were not employed? I assume one could employ them for drilling and fracking, however at some stage in the future there probably won’t be much left to be fracked and drilled. So fossil fuels are not that future-proof as compared to renewables.

The report claims that there have been enormous subsidies for renewables, in particular for solar:

Germany’s FIT program has cost more than $412 billion to date

I call this a rather clever “investment” and not cost. They have invested in future clean technologies and job creation. They are now a world leader in renewables (despite the fact the Sweden has actually a higher renewable rate).

Who would have paid for the building of new nuclear reactors and who would bear the cost of any potential accidents with this technology? Who asks what the cost of Chernobyl or Fukushima was and still is and will be including building, disposal of waste, deaths directly and indirectly?
Not surprisingly, there’s no mention of the enormous societal costs and knockon effects of the damaging pollution which is caused by burning fossil fuels.

For First Time, California Gets Ready For Mandatory Water Restrictions

California has some water issues for some time but now it’s official. That does however not come as a surprise.

I suggest you watch “Last Call at the Oasis”, a documentary from 2011. It was already quite clear back then that Lake Mead had issues and would not be able to deliver enough water in the foreseeable future.

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Harvard Fossil Fuel (un-)Divestment Statement

Fossil fuel divestment  has been a big subject lately. Several large institutions and companies have moved away from any fossil fuel investment (divested).

And yet Harvard is happily investing into it or accepting money from such industries, even despite of petitions from staff and students and own Harvard articles. Why? Money rules, at any price for the advancement of education.

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Wreck the environment – drive an electric car – REALLY?

Some time ago I was pointed to an article that outlined the environmental issues and hazards of electric cars. You read the headline above.
Some of the content (please feel free to read the original article):

But while electric cars hold such promise, they are also environmental vandals, especially when the electricity that feeds them comes as it does more often than not from coal-fired and gas-fired power plants, which are themselves global warming bandits.

So says one new study, which concludes that in the current coal and gas reliant electricity landscape, the world is better off simply improving the conventional engine than it is shifting to EVs.

Initial reaction: What a misleading silly title.
If you carry on reading, then it’s getting a bit clearer. They can be bad (of maybe not as good as the could be) to the environment, but that’s not necessarily the case.
At the end of the day, it all depends on your electricity generation. Which we have to change anyway. Many countries are already on a good way, Denmark exceeded their targets already. Not all countries are as bad regarding their energy mix compared to the US.
So my suggestion would be: Clean up your act. Just because power companies are polluting the environment does not mean that cars can continue to do so too. We have to break to chain somewhere.
If you get a EV, make sure you buy power from renewables too. You have the choice. Simple.

Toxic batteries: The battery in my hybrid car is 11 years old. It can be refurbished. Individual cells can be replaced. It drives as well as on day one.
It’s petrol consumption is about 5l/100km or 20km/l. It’s odo is at 250,000km. It saved 12,500 l of petrol over it’s lifetime (based on usually 10l/100km for an “ordinary” car of that size and age).
Does anybody really think that the production of this battery had more impact than those burned 12,500l or petrol? Please get real.
Once the battery will really be at it’s end, it can be recycled. The material is not gone, the 12,500l of petrol are.

via Wreck the environment – drive an electric car – SmartPlanet.

Nicaragua’s National Development Plan Aims To Be 94% Powered By Renewable Sources By 2017

The Central American country of Nicaragua has never been as fortunate as its neighbors when it comes to energy reserves. In fact, most commercial electricity is generated by imported petroleum while a small portion of domestic energy is generated through hydropower and geothermal power. However that’s set to change with the country’s National Development Plan, which calls for 94% of the country’s electricity needs to be sourced from renewables by 2017.

via Nicaragua’s National Development Plan Aims To Be 94% Powered By Renewable Sources By 2017 | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

World Council of Churches Endorses Fossil Fuel Divestment

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), a fellowship of over 300 churches which represent some 590 million people in 150 countries, endorsed fossil fuel divestment this week, agreeing to phase out its own holdings and encourage its members to do the same. The WCC Central Committee is made up of dozens of influential religious leaders from around the world, meaning the decision could resonate far and wide.

via 350.org – World Council of Churches Endorses Fossil Fuel Divestment.

A businessman tries to break through a line of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had blocked access to the New York Stock Exchange

The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1%

I have been used to the term “open source” so far rather in relation to software projects (sourceforge, Linux, MySQL, Apache, …) come to mind. Sometimes non-software related variations of open-source pop up, for example for construction or housing.

I found this great article in The Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed. This is about security and policy making and also mentions the “precautionary principle” and sustainability. Is says that we are on the verge of a revolution, a revolution from secrecy to open-source and transparency.

It makes sense, open-source software has been showcasing it for decades. Most of the worlds intranet and servers including its security, architecture etc is based on open-source.

Read the original article, it’s well worth it.

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US Conservatives Are Purposely Making Their Cars Spew Black Smoke To Protest Obama And Environmentalists

This is one of the most insane things I have seen and heard in a long time. While I can see that this a rather obvious sign of protest, it lacks any sense for health and safety even if we leave the environment totally aside – after all those people are not interested in environmental matters in the first place.

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* a term combined from the word "Environment" and the greek "logos" (word, reason, plan)