California just reached ~95% renewable energy!

Something remarkable happened over the weekend: California hit nearly 95% renewable energy.

I’ll say it again: 95% renewables. For all the time we spend talking about how to reach 100% clean power, it sometimes seems like a faraway proposition, whether the timeframe is California’s 2045 target or President Biden’s more aggressive 2035 goal. But on Saturday just before 2:30 p.m., one of the world’s largest economies came within a stone’s throw of getting there…

The 94.5% record may have been fleeting, but it wasn’t some isolated spike. Most of Saturday afternoon, the renewables number topped 90%, with solar and wind farms doing the bulk of the work and geothermal, biomass and hydropower facilities making smaller contributions. Add in the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant — which isn’t counted toward California’s renewables mandate — and there was enough climate-friendly power at times Saturday to account for more than 100% of the state’s electricity needs…

There are now 14 electric grid operators participating in the imbalance market, from Arizona Public Service in the Southwest to Idaho Power in the Northwest to Warren Buffett-owned Rocky Mountain Power in the Intermountain West. Several utilities joined this month, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which has long zealously guarded its independence. Several more are preparing to join, as far from California as NorthWestern Energy in Montana and El Paso Electric in Texas.

By 2023, the market will cover 83% of electricity demand in the West.

That’s one of the sound, realistic, productive ways to manage climate change and turn energy production into a healthier industry for human beings. Not that conservative denialists care a rat’s ass about any of this. Truth is … we can continue on with this level of progressive change with no participation from rightwingers. They can continue to sit on their hands … while the rest of this nation moves forward.

Electric Cars Will Cost Less Than Gasoline-Burners by 2025


I could be tempted

❝ Battery powered cars will soon be cheaper to buy than conventional gasoline ones, offering immediate savings to drivers, new research shows.

Automakers from Renault SA to Tesla Inc. have long touted the cheaper fuel and running costs of electric cars that helps to displace the higher upfront prices that drivers pay when they buy the zero-emission vehicles.

❝ Now research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates that falling battery costs will mean electric vehicles will also be cheaper to buy in the U.S. and Europe as soon as 2025. Batteries currently account for about half the cost of EVs, and their prices will fall by about 77 percent between 2016 and 2030, the London-based researcher said…

❝ Renault, maker of the Zoe electric car, predicts total ownership costs of EVs will by the early 2020s equal conventional internal combustion engine vehicles…according to Gilles Normand, the French company’s senior vice president for electric vehicles.

If I could justify buying a new vehicle to replace my 24-year-old pickup truck it probably would be from whomever offers me a smallish EV pickup, say, a quarter-ton AWD.

Still, I just don’t drive enough to justify a second new or newish vehicle in our family. My wife’s 4-year-old Fiesta is still very low accumulated miles – our go to town shopping-mobile – averages 40+ mpg.

Germany calls for Europe-wide ban on gas-powered cars by 2030


Click to enlarge

❝ After coming to the realization that they would need a mandate for all cars to be zero-emission by 2030 if they want to comply with the goals set by the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions, Germany’s upper house of parliament gained approval for pushing a Europe-wide mandate to stop gas-powered car sales by 2030…

While nothing is made into law yet, the movement to stop new sales of cars equipped with internal combustion engines by no later than 2030 is starting to pick up steam.

❝ India recently confirmed that it is evaluating a scheme for all its fleet to be electric by 2030 and both the Dutch government and the Norwegian government are discussing the possibility to ban gas-powered car sales and only allow electric vehicle sales starting in 2025.

❝ Some governments are discussing actual bans on new gas-powered car sales that would virtually only allow all-electric vehicles to be registered, or potentially other zero-emission cars at the tailpipe like fuel cell vehicles, but most are discussing regulations that would gradually tax internal combustion engines and favor electric vehicles…

❝ The new push for a 2030 mandate comes as several German automakers announced important plans to accelerate their electric vehicle programs, including Volkswagen’s plan to build 2 to 3 million all-electric cars a year and unveil 30 new models by 2025 and Mercedes’ new all-electric brand: ‘EQ’.

VW has indicated recently that they’d probably start off their production of EVs exclusively in their United States facilities. Obviously, that will have to expand globally as this qualitative change takes hold.

Coal-fired electricity being killed in the US — the war on coal is being won


This photo is from Sweden – from a worldwide series on coal

The war on coal is not just political rhetoric, or a paranoid fantasy concocted by rapacious polluters. It’s real and it’s relentless. Over the past five years, it has killed a coal-fired power plant every 10 days. It has quietly transformed the US electric grid and the global climate debate.

The industry and its supporters use “war on coal” as shorthand for a ferocious assault by a hostile White House, but the real war on coal is not primarily an Obama war, or even a Washington war. It’s a guerrilla war. The front lines are not at the Environmental Protection Agency or the Supreme Court. If you want to see how the fossil fuel that once powered most of the country is being battered by enemy forces, you have to watch state and local hearings where utility commissions and other obscure governing bodies debate individual coal plants. You probably won’t find much drama. You’ll definitely find lawyers from the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the boots on the ground in the war on coal.

Beyond Coal is the most extensive, expensive and effective campaign in the Club’s 123-year history, and maybe the history of the environmental movement. It’s gone largely unnoticed amid the furor over the Keystone pipeline and President Barack Obama’s efforts to regulate carbon, but it’s helped retire more than one third of America’s coal plants since its launch in 2010, one dull hearing at a time. With a vast war chest donated by Michael Bloomberg, unlikely allies from the business world, and a strategy that relies more on economics than ecology, its team of nearly 200 litigators and organizers has won battles in the Midwestern and Appalachian coal belts, in the reddest of red states, in almost every state that burns coal…

Coal still helps keep our lights on, generating nearly 40 percent of US power. But it generated more than 50 percent just over a decade ago, and the big question now is how rapidly its decline will continue. Almost every watt of new generating capacity is coming from natural gas, wind or solar; the coal industry now employs fewer workers than the solar industry, which barely existed in 2010. Utilities no longer even bother to propose new coal plants to replace the old ones they retire. Coal industry stocks are tanking, and analysts are predicting a new wave of coal bankruptcies…

This is a big deal, because coal is America’s top source of greenhouse gases, and coal retirements are the main reason US carbon emissions have declined 10 percent in a decade. Coal is also America’s top source of mercury, sulfur dioxide and other toxic air pollutants, so fewer coal plants also means less asthma and lung disease — not to mention fewer coal-ash spills and coal-mining disasters. The shift toward cleaner-burning gas and zero-emissions renewables is the most important change in our electricity mix in decades, and while Obama has been an ally in the war on coal — not always as aggressive an ally as the industry claims — the Sierra Club is in the trenches. The US had 523 coal-fired power plants when Beyond Coal began targeting them; just last week, it celebrated the 190th retirement of its campaign in Asheville, N.C., culminating a three-year fight that had been featured in the climate documentary “Years of Living Dangerously.”

RTFA. Long, detailed, about as close to neutral as Politico ever gets. You won’t find any greedy, corporate Republicans; but, they shy away from defining the Sierra Club as the radical organization the Koch Bros think it is.

Recognition of success [and continuing] you’ll rarely see inside the Beltway.

Removable tattoo doubles as a battery — Huh? Wha?

Scientists continue to unveil impressive innovations at the American Chemical Society’s annual conference, currently being held in San Francisco. The latest is a removable tattoo that doubles as a miniature battery — turning human sweat into storable electricity.

The device is meant to be worn during a trip to the gym. It can monitor a person’s progress during exercise routines while simultaneously powering a small electronic device, like an iPod.

The mini tattoo tracks athletic performance by measuring levels of lactate in sweat secreted by the exerciser…

Currently, lactate testing is done via blood samples. But by installing a lactate sensor in a temporary tattoo, researchers found a way to track performance in a much less evasive way. They also found a way to produce electricity. As the sensor processes the lactate in the sweat, it strips the lactate of electrons.

Engineers designed the sensor so it could pass the stripped electrons from an anode to a cathode, just like a battery.

UC nanoengineering professor Dr. Joseph Wang said the device is “the first example of a biofuel cell that harvests energy from body fluid.”

There must be some way to make money from sex – using this discovery.

Software design leaves trains unable to operate in snow and ice


Steam locomotive, number 45212, built in 1934

Rail companies have admitted that a fault in the the computer software on their modern electric trains leaves them unable to operate in snowy and icy conditions.

When the temperature plummets and the snows start to fall which do you turn to – a traditional steam train or its multi-million pound modern replacement?

Yesterday the steam locomotive, No: 45212, built in 1934, barrelled through the North Yorkshire countryside between Grosmont and Pickering, while hundreds of services on the country’s modern electric network fell victim to the weather.

Some train operating companies last night admitted that the computer software on their modern electric trains was not able to cope with the snowy and icy conditions…

The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that a safety feature found in some modern computerised trains causes them to shut down in freezing conditions.

Network Rail has admitted that the software contributed to the chaos which left thousands stranded in freezing conditions last week.

Experts said the problem affects a number of trains, including the Bombardier Electrostar, which operates on the “third rail” electric railway lines common in the south east.

The Electrostar, which comprises the bulk of southern and Southeastern’s rolling stock, includes a safety system which can shut down the train when there is ice on the third rail to protect the train against surges.

Last week, hundreds of commuters had to sleep on trains overnight as drivers made several attempts to reboot the trains’ systems…

Roger Ford, the technology editor of Modern Railways magazine, said: “Some people will find it a little ironic that over the past week older trains seem to have coped better with the extreme conditions.

“The fact that older trains are less clever and complicated than these modern sophisticated trains has definitely worked in their favour as it makes them less sensitive.”

Garbage in = garbage out.