Scotland blows away the competition – joins select club of nations hitting interval with peak renewables at/over 100%

On Sunday, Scotland produced 106% of its electricity needs -over a 24 hour period – via wind farms. Scotland joins a select group of countries that have had peak moments (or days/months/forever) when their electricity needs comes from non-polluting renewable energy. Iceland runs completely on hydroelectric and geothermal, Costa Rica ran for 75 straight days in 2015, Portugal ran for four days, Denmark generated 140% of their demand, Germany broke 95% for a few moments and there are many other countries with wonderful clean energy achievements. With places like Hawaii aiming for 100%, Rhode Island building its first off shore wind farm and the US Department of energy readying the mainland’s grid to be able to handle 100% – we will see reports like this proliferate in the future.

…Turbines spread across the land and in the ocean surrounding Scotland provided 39,545 megawatt-hours of electricity to the National Grid on Sunday while the country’s total power consumption for homes, business and industry was 37,202 MWh. Scotland’s goal of generating 50% of their annual electricity from renewables is on pace to happen a full year early. Scotland also has a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2020, but it might only get to 87% per some reports. Still – 87% over the course of a year is a powerful value and will probably mean 100% will arrive before 2025.

Full credit to folks like Brian Wilson who led the political side of the fight for renewable energy, especially wind power… when he was energy minister. He’s officially retired, now. Other folks get the headline battles – nowadays. Doesn’t lessen the credit he deserves.

China’s “One Belt, One Road” project will profit most of Asia – and probably Europe


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China’s ambition to revive an ancient trading route stretching from Asia to Europe could leave an economic legacy bigger than the Marshall Plan or the European Union’s enlargement, according to a new analysis.

Dubbed ‘One Belt, One Road,’ the plan to build rail, highways and ports will embolden China’s soft power status by spreading economic prosperity during a time of heightened political uncertainty in both the U.S. and EU, according to Stephen L. Jen, the chief executive officer at Eurizon SLJ Capital Ltd., who estimates a value of $1.4 trillion for the project.

It will also boost trading links and help internationalize the yuan as banks open branches along the route…

“This is a quintessential example of a geopolitical event that will likely be consequential for the global economy and the balance of political power in the long run,” said Jen, a former International Monetary Fund economist.

Reaching from east to west, the Silk Road Economic Belt will extend to Europe through Central Asia and the Maritime Silk Road will link sea lanes to Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa [and, eventually, to The Netherlands].

While China’s authorities aren’t calling their Silk Road a new Marshall Plan, that’s not stopping comparisons with the U.S. effort to rebuild Western Europe after World War II.

With the potential to touch on 64 countries, 4.4 billion people and around 40 percent of the global economy, Jen estimates that the One Belt One Road project will be 12 times bigger in absolute dollar terms than the Marshall Plan. China may spend as much as 9 percent of gross domestic product — about double the U.S.’s boost to post-war Europe in those terms.

…There’s no guarantee that potential recipient nations will put their hand up for the aid…Still, at least China has a plan.

“The fact that this is a 30-40 year plan is remarkable as China is the only country with any long-term development plan, and this underscores the policy long-termism in China, in contrast to the dominance of policy short-termism in much of the West,” said Jen.

Sitting in a state – in a country – politically incapable of repairing crumbling infrastructure much less building new, I can only sit and wonder what it might feel like to watch any level of government demonstrate sufficient care and willingness to plan decades ahead.

We used up a year’s worth of Earth’s resources — by August 8th


Andrey N Bannov/Shutterstock

As of Monday August 8, humans will have officially used up all the resources Earth can regenerate in a year.

The day is known as ‘overshoot day’, and this year it’s happening five days earlier than in 2015 – which means we just burnt through a sustainable amount of resources in less time than ever before…

Overshoot day is calculated by the Global Footprint Network each year, using United Nations data on thousands of economic sectors, such as fisheries, forestry, transport, and energy production.

When we talk about resources, it’s not just water, land, and food – it also refers to things like carbon storage, so we’ve now reached a point where we’re pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere than can be reabsorbed by forests and oceans…

The network has calculated Earth’s overshoot day dating back to the 1960s, and has shown that, up until 1970, we were only using as many resources as the planet could sustainably reproduce. In fact, in 1961, we were only using three-quarters of our annual resources.

But in 1970, we burnt through our annual resources by 23 December, and every year since then it’s become earlier and earlier.

The good news is that society is finally weaning itself off of fossil fuels. Last year, Costa Rica managed to power the entire country with 100 percent renewables for 75 days in a row.

Germany was powered by 95 percent renewable electricity last year, and Portugal was able to run for four straight days without any fossil fuels. In many countries, renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels.

It’s not just CO2 emissions that are on the decline. China has also committed to reducing its citizens’ zealous meat consumption by 50 percent by 2030, which is estimated to stop the equivalent of 1 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. And many cities are making big steps towards getting rid of single-use plastic waste.

Maybe next year will become the first year in more than four decades that we push that overshoot date back a few days.

Think so?