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Biden’s Latest Executive Orders Are The Most Aggressive Moves On Climate Change Of Any President

The executive orders will take aim at fossil fuels and set the US up to be an international leader in tackling the climate crisis.
Zahra Hirji, BuzzFeed News Reporter
Source: Buzz Feed News
Last updated on January 27, 2021, at 4:23 p.m. ET
Posted on January 27, 2021, at 9:27 a.m. ET

Source: Buzz Feed News
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed sweeping executive orders to force the federal government to plan for and respond to the urgent threat of a warming planet, laying out his historic vision for how the United States can once again become a global climate leader.

The moves will stop new fossil fuel leases on public lands, boost renewable energy development and conservation, as well as create new government offices and interagency groups to prioritize job creation, cleaning up pollution, and environmental justice.

Since taking office last week, Biden and his Cabinet nominees have repeatedly said that tackling the climate crisis is among their top priorities. With these new actions, Biden is detailing how he plans to make that happen by making the federal government central to the response.

“The United States and the world face a profound climate crisis,” the main executive order Biden signed said. “We have a narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of that crisis and to seize the opportunity that tackling climate change presents.”

Biden’s early climate moves stand in stark contrast to former president Donald Trump’s actions, which included immediately deleting climate change from the White House website, thwarting climate action, and using his executive power to boost oil, gas, and coal development.

Biden’s day-one climate actions were a direct response to Trump, including directing his staff to review more than 100 anti-environmental rules enacted by Trump and to start the process for the country to rejoin the Paris climate agreement. But these new actions go far beyond reversing Trump’s actions or even reinstating climate initiatives first championed by former president Barack Obama.

“Today makes clear that President Biden hears our generation’s demands loud and clear, understands the power of our movement, and is serious about using executive power to deliver on his campaign promises,” said Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, in a statement.

As part of a broad new executive order, Biden is directing the Department of the Interior to indefinitely pause new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters “to the extent possible.” The order does not specifically ban new coal leases and leaves fossil fuel leases on tribal lands up to their discretion.

Moreover, Biden is directing a review of existing fossil fuel leases and development projects, and asked the Interior Department to find ways to boost renewable energy projects, especially offshore wind, on federally owned water and land.

The American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas trade association, balked at the new restrictions. “Restricting natural gas and oil leasing and development on federal lands and waters could threaten U.S. energy security, economic growth and good-paying American jobs,” API tweeted.

While the order would not impact the majority of the nation’s oil and gas drilling and coal mining, which takes place on private land, it could still have a major climate impact. The extraction of fossil fuels on public lands between 2005 and 2014 accounted for roughly 25% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions during that time, according to a United States Geological Survey report.

A key part of the executive orders is creating new offices and committees focused on addressing specific climate problems and goals. Besides formally creating a new White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, led by Gina McCarthy, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Biden on Wednesday established a National Climate Task Force that directs members across agencies and departments “to enable a whole-of-government approach to combating the climate crisis,” according to a White House memo.

Biden is also creating a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative designed to create new jobs in conservation, an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization to take on projects that cut the pollution from existing and abandoned fossil fuel infrastructure, as well as a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to boost environmental justice monitoring and enforcement.

Few details were provided on exactly who will be spearheading the many new efforts, how much funding they will receive, or timelines for delivering on these bold goals.

In most cases, Biden’s actions follow through on his climate campaign promises, such as promising to set aside 30% of public lands and waters to conservation by 2030 and having an international climate summit in his first 100 days — one will be held on Earth Day, April 22, 2021.

“The last four years have been a feeding frenzy on our public lands and waters, and this moratorium is the right way to start our overdue transition to a more sustainable economy,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona and chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Grijalva last year co-sponsored the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020 that similarly supports the 30% conservation goal. He said now Congress will move forward with the bill.

“The stakes on climate change just simply couldn’t be any higher than they are right now,” John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, said at a press briefing Wednesday.

January 27, 2021, at 10:48 a.m.

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‘Netflix for solar’: Virginia finalizing rules for solar subscription program

Solar Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth McGowan
December 17, 2020
Source: Energy News

State regulators are expected to release final rules soon for a new shared solar program expected to launch in 2023.

During a summer 2019 visit to his vacation house in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, Scott Surovell clicked on an ad for community solar. He signed up in five minutes. Soon after, he learned that tapping into an off-property array would about cover his entire electric bill.

“We need this in Virginia yesterday,” the Democratic state senator who represents a district near Washington, D.C. noted in a social media post that autumn. Then, he set about deploying his legislative chops to create a bill heavy on accessibility and equity.

Fast forward to today. Virginia utility regulators are on the verge of releasing their final version of a shared solar program outlined in a bill Surovell shepherded through the General Assembly earlier this year. 

The State Corporation Commission published its proposed regulations on Sept. 21. The deadline for the release of the final rules is Jan. 1.

In a nutshell, Senate Bill 629 calls for establishing a program allowing customers in Dominion Energy territory to buy solar power via subscription from a shared power facility owned by a third-party entity. It’s identical to HB 1634.

Initially, the program will be capped at 150 megawatts. Both solar and environmental justice advocates are lauding a measure requiring that at least 30% of the enrolled customers qualify as low-income. If that subscriber bar is met, the program could add 50 more megawatts.

No single project can be larger than 5 MW. That is likely a model for a series of small-scale distributed generation projects starting at roughly 1 MW and rolled out in increments.

Rachel Smucker said the new regulation — set to debut in 2023 — opens an opportunity for Virginia to lead on delivering solar to low-income communities.

She is the Virginia policy and development manager for the solar trade association that also serves Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Her group recently changed its name to the Chesapeake Solar & Storage Association.

“I think there’s a lot of interest from the industry to dig into this program,” Smucker said. “They have even said the 150-megawatt cap is too small. Solar developers are interested in taking the shackles off of the program on the capacity side. The onus is on all of us to make sure we get this set up right.”

Surovell, in his second Senate term serving Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties, discussed SB 629 as a panelist at Solar Focus, the association’s virtual conference in mid-November.

The idea of growing solar gardens in his home state had intrigued him since 2010 when, as a newly elected House delegate, he learned about such endeavors in Colorado. In a July letter to the State Corporation Commission, he said his legislation would enable people and businesses to purchase solar power and net the energy against their home meters.

Access to non-rooftop solar, he wrote, was especially crucial to people in neighborhoods with heavy tree cover, those subject to homeowner association restrictions and residents in apartments or condominiums.

In that same letter, he emphasized ensuring that shared solar didn’t solely benefit the wealthy.

“Creating a program that is easy for low and moderate income consumers to participate [in] will be essential to the success of this initial phase,” he wrote. “The legislation was intended to provide equal and equitable access to renewable energy and critical cost savings to Virginia consumers who have faced barriers to accessing the green economy.”

Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, sat on the same Solar Focus digital panel with Surovell. Last year, she spearheaded separate legislation (HB2741) designed to expand solar access to those with fewer resources. It called for the creation of a Clean Energy Advisory Board, tasked with setting up a solar financing platform for households with low to moderate incomes.

“Ultimately, this is about people,” Aird said about the crux of Surovell’s legislation. “What’s critical to me is pushing regulators to get this right.”

Advocates: ‘Like Netflix for solar’

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam revised SB 629 to define low-income customers as households whose income is no more than 80% of the median income in that particular locality. Some advocates have suggested that figure be adjusted to take into account Virginia’s broad economic differences as well as differences in housing types.

Setting income limits matters, Smucker said, but it’s equally crucial that regulators figure out how to connect poorer households to solar gardens. That requires linking with existing affordable housing programs and having continued conversations with community leaders via a stakeholder working group.

“This should be like Netflix for solar,” she said about ease of enrollment. “We want to maximize its reach to communities that could really benefit.”

Ideally, she explained, that means that households would have multiple pathways to verify their income, would be able to register online and wouldn’t be penalized for unsubscribing.

Advocates also want the State Corporation Commission to revisit two other parts of the regulation commissioners rolled out in draft form. One is the annual reset of the minimum charge solar customers would be required to pay and the other is how customers will be credited on their monthly bills for the solar energy they use. 

During the legislative session, some lawmakers threatened to withdraw support from Surovell’s measure unless he included a minimum bill charge to cover the cost of serving customers and administering the program.

“The minimum bill was a sore point,” Surovell told Solar Focus attendees about claims that solar customers are unfairly exempt from basic utility infrastructure and upkeep costs.

“They claim there’s a cost shift that happens and non-solar customers bear more of that burden than solar customers,” Smucker said. “But we haven’t seen any data for that claim, so we don’t subscribe to that notion.”

However, because the requirement is built into the legislation, she said a charge of $8 to $10 would be reasonable.

“The [State Corporation Commission] makes the final ruling,” she said. “But if it’s $40, that’s restrictive and you won’t find subscribers. Investor interest won’t be there if it’s astronomically high and that will quickly erode the potential of the program.”

The state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy didn’t counter that argument. It classified as “inappropriate” any infrastructure fee because “there will be no change in the infrastructure required to service the customer’s location.”

The department “recommends that the operational reality of the shared solar program is reflected in the regulations to prevent inappropriate costs from being included in the minimum bill,” the agency wrote in Nov. 2 testimony submitted to the commission. “The lack of detail on the content of the minimum bill combined with the intention to hold an annual proceeding wherein the amount of the minimum bill could be altered could create uncertainty for developers and consumers.”

In addition, the department joined solar advocates in prodding utility regulators to remove restrictions on bill credits for shared solar customers.

Appalachian Voices and the Southern Environmental Law Center called for customers to be permitted to roll over their bill credit, month to month, as long as the bill credits don’t exceed a customer’s average annual bill.

All backers of the shared solar program are hopeful that preliminary groundwork can begin next year so the program is ready to launch by 2023.

“Interconnection can take up to a year in Virginia and permitting can also take a long time,” Smucker said. “That’s why we’ve been pushing for projects to be allowed to attract customers to the program in 2021.” 

Other community solar program fizzled out earlier 

Industry veteran Myles Burnsed of Charlottesville said in an interview that his company, EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions, is interested in the prospect of developing, owning and operating the third-party projects envisioned in Surovell’s law. EDF would likely connect with a separate company to manage and subscribe customers. 

Burnsed, vice president of strategic development, said he’s watched similar solar programs launch in other states with varied levels of success. Like others in the industry, he noted that it can take years to smooth the kinks and unexpected challenges that arise.  

“It will be challenging, but it will attract people,” he said, adding that eventually quadrupling the size of the Virginia program to 600 MW would generate “a lot more interest and competition.”

EDF, an international company with a three-decade presence in North America, is already partnering with a Virginia rural electric cooperative to develop a 3.1 MW community solar project in Shenandoah County. That’s enough energy to power 570 homes annually.

Plans call for breaking ground for the array on 32 acres of farmland early next year and signing up customers by year’s end.

“We’re still super early on in the process,” said Morgan Messer, spokesperson for Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, a distributor for Old Dominion Electric Cooperative. “This is still a pilot, so what the subscription process looks like we don’t know yet. We haven’t yet outlined any of the qualifications.”

Other co-ops in the state also have succeeded with community solar projects — unlike Virginia’s investor-owned utilities. A program the legislature rolled out several years ago geared for customers at Dominion and Appalachian Power never gained a foothold. It required utilities, not third parties, to own the solar projects.

“On that first go-round, there weren’t any projects,” Burnsed said. “It seems to have fizzled out.”

Senior attorney Will Cleveland, who specializes in utility issues for the Southern Environmental Law Center, wants to avoid a repeat of that debacle. 

“Presumably, [shared solar] will work better than the thing that never happened at all,” Cleveland said. “Before, neither utility ever rolled out a program. By that measure, it was a complete failure.”

<a href="https://energynews.us/author/emcgowan/">ELIZABETH MCGOWAN</a>
ELIZABETH MCGOWAN

Elizabeth is a longtime energy and environment reporter who has worked for InsideClimate News, Energy Intelligence and Crain Communications. Her groundbreaking dispatches for InsideClimate News from Kalamazoo, Michigan, “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You Never Heard Of” won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2013. Elizabeth covers the state of Virginia. Her book, “Outpedaling ‘The Big C’: My Healing Cycle Across America” will be published by Bancroft Press in September 2020.

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Climate crisis: 2020 was joint hottest year ever recorded

Global heating continued unabated despite Covid lockdowns, with record Arctic wildfires and Atlantic tropical storms

Damian Carrington Environment editor @dpcarrington
Source: The Guardian
Fri 8 Jan 2021 02.00 ESTLast modified on Sun 10 Jan 2021 04.42 EST

Map showing land surface temperature anomalies from 19 March to 20 June 2020
 The Arctic and northern Siberia saw particularly extreme average temperatures in 2020, with a large region 3C higher than the long-term average. Photograph: Nasa/EPA
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

The climate crisis continued unabated in 2020, with the joint highest global temperatures on record, alarming heat and record wildfires in the Arctic, and a record 29 tropical storms in the Atlantic.

Despite a 7% fall in fossil fuel burning due to coronavirus lockdowns, heat-trapping carbon dioxide continued to build up in the atmosphere, also setting a new record. The average surface temperature across the planet in 2020 was 1.25C higher than in the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900, dangerously close to the 1.5C target set by the world’s nations to avoid the worst impacts.

Only 2016 matched the heat in 2020, but that year saw a natural El Niño climate event which boosts temperatures. Without that it is likely 2020 would have been the outright hottest year. Scientists have warned that without urgent action the future for many millions of people “looks black”.

The temperature data released by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) showed that the past six years have been the hottest six on record. They also showed that Europe saw its hottest year on record, 1.6C above the long-term average, with a searing heatwave hitting western Europe in late July and early August.

The Arctic and northern Siberia saw particularly extreme average temperatures in 2020, with a large region 3C higher than the long-term average and some locations more than 6C higher. This resulted in extensive wildfires, with a record 244m tonnes of CO2 released within the Arctic Circle. Arctic sea ice was also significantly lower, with July and October seeing the smallest extent on record for those months.

“[The year] 2020 stands out for its exceptional warmth in the Arctic,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of C3S. “It is no surprise that the last decade was the warmest on record, and is yet another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emissions reductions to prevent adverse climate impacts.”

“The extraordinary climate events of 2020 show us we have no time to lose,” said Matthias Petschke, at the European commission. “It will be difficult, but the cost of inaction is too great.”

Satellite view of tropical storms in the Atlantic
 A record 29 tropical storms formed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2020. Photograph: AP
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

“Despite the absence of the cyclical boost of El Niño to global temperatures [we are] getting dangerously close to the 1.5C limit,” said Prof Dave Reay, at the University of Edinburgh. “Covid lockdowns around the world may have caused a slight dip in emissions, but the CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere is still going up fast. Unless the global economic recovery from the nightmares of 2020 is a green one, the future of many millions of people around the world looks black indeed.”

The level of CO2 in the atmosphere reached a new record in 2020, with the cut in emissions due to Covid lockdowns described as a “tiny blip” by the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation. Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said: “Until the net global emissions reduce to zero, CO2 will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and drive further climate change.”

The UK Met Office issued a forecast on Friday that CO2 levels will pass a new milestone in 2021 – being 50% higher than before the Industrial Revolution. Its scientists said CO2 will exceed 417 parts per million (ppm) for several weeks from April to June, which is 50% higher than the 278 ppm in the late 18th century when industrial activity began.

This is despite the expectation that weather conditions brought by the counterpart of El Niño, La Niña, will see higher natural growth in tropical forests that will soak up some of humanity’s emissions.

“The human-caused buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere is accelerating,” said Prof Richard Betts at the Met Office. “It took over 200 years for levels to increase by 25%, but now just over 30 years later we are approaching a 50% increase. Global emissions will need to be brought down to net zero within about the next 30 years if global warming is to be limited to 1.5C.”

Do you recycle? Do you bike? How can you help the environment where you are and in the Hampton Road, Virginia area – – click above?

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Scientists turn CO2 into jet fuel

It could lead to net zero emissions for air travel.

Jon Fingas@jonfingas
December 27, 2020
Source: Engadget

A Rolls-Royce engine is seen on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner owned by ANA Holdings Inc. in Everett, Washington, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Alwyn Scott/File Photo
REUTERS/Alwyn Scott/File Photo
Source: Engadget
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Researchers may have found a way to reduce the environmental impact of air travel in situations when electric aircraft and alternative fuels aren’t practical. Wired reports that Oxford University scientists have successfully turned CO2 into jet fuel, raising the possibility of conventionally-powered aircraft with net zero emissions.

The technique effectively reverses the process of burning fuel by relying on the organic combustion method. The team heated a mix of citric acid, hydrogen and an iron-manganese-potassium catalyst to turn CO2 into a liquid fuel capable of powering jet aircraft.

The approach is inexpensive, uncomplicated and uses commonplace materials. It’s cheaper than processes used to turn hydrogen and water into fuel.

There are numerous challenges to bringing this to aircraft. The lab method only produced a few grams of fuel — you’d clearly need much more to support even a single flight, let alone an entire fleet. You’d need much more widespread use of carbon capture. And if you want effectively zero emissions, the capture and conversion systems would have to run on clean energy.

The researches are talking with industrial partners, though, and don’t see any major scientific hurdles. It might also be one of the most viable options for fleets. Many of them would have to replace their aircraft to go electric or switch fuel types. This conversion process would let airlines keep their existing aircraft and go carbon neutral until they’re truly ready for eco-friendly propulsion.

From cars to jets, are we ready for eco-friendly travel? Why? Why not?

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Snow Harvesting

Snow Water Harvesting On Our Urban Site

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Does it snow where you live? Have you considered harvesting snow? Why? Why not?

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Seeing the COVID-19 Pandemic from Space

By Abigail Seadler,
NASA’s Earth Science Division

Source: NASA
Photos Source: NASA

Economic and social shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to noticeable changes in Earth’s environment, at least for the short term. NASA researchers are using satellite and ground-based observations to track these impacts on our airlandwater, and climate. These datasets have been collected in a free and openly available online dashboard.

Average NO2 levels over San Francisco for the past 5 years
Source: NASA
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
NO2 levels over San Francisco in March 2020
Source: NASA
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Nitrogen Dioxide Levels Over San Francisco, California

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an air pollutant, decreased significantly over urban areas during the pandemic. The left image above shows average NO2 levels over San Francisco for the past 5 years, and the right image shows NO2 levels over San Francisco in March 2020. These data are from NASA’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI). Credit: NASA COVID-19 Dashboard

The NASA COVID-19 Dashboard features data collected by Earth-observing satellites, instruments aboard the International Space Station, and sensitive ground-based networks. The global maps are searchable by several categories of observable change, including economic indicators, such as shipping and construction activity, and environmental factors, such as water quality and climate variations. Investigate the data layers yourself or take a guided tour of how NASA Earth scientists are studying – and learning about – the pandemic’s effects on the Earth system.

NASA scientists use many different tools, datasets, and methods to investigate COVID-related changes in the Earth system. Comparing complementary datasets on the dashboard helps reveal a deeper story of how the environment is changing due to COVID-related shutdowns.

satellite data of air pollution over California airport

Thermal data from the joint NASA-U.S. Geological Survey Landsat satellite show decreases in the urban heat island effect, a phenomenon where urban areas are significantly warmer than adjacent rural areas, during the pandemic. The left image shows temperatures over San Francisco in April 2018, while the right image shows temperatures over San Francisco in April 2020. Scientists found that large parking lots, highway corridors, and commercial rooftops were on average 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit (5-8 degrees Celsius) cooler from March to May 2020, compared to previous years. Credit: NASA COVID-19 Dashboard.
Source: NASA
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

For example, scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center discovered that emptier parking lots near closed, non-essential businesses, in combination with cleaner air from less surface transportation, meant that heat from the sun radiating off dark asphalt and cement surfaces did not stay trapped near the ground as long. Instead, heat dissipated quickly, cooling the urban environment. Comparing the data to pre-pandemic years, scientists found that large parking lots, highway corridors, and commercial rooftops were, on average, 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit (about 5-8 degrees Celsius) cooler from March to May 2020.

The NASA COVID-19 Dashboard will be updated with more data and discoveries throughout the pandemic and beyond.

What does this information from NASA tell us about the impact of human activity on global warming? How can you help improve the environment? Do you ride a bike or recycle? Are you a Community Champion…read more about the environment below.

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

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Environmental Impacts of Solar Power

PHOTO: PIOTR ZAJDA/SHUTTERSTOCK
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Source: Union of Concerned Scientist

The sun provides a tremendous resource for generating clean and sustainable electricity without toxic pollution or global warming emissions.

The potential environmental impacts associated with solar power—land use and habitat loss, water use, and the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing—can vary greatly depending on the technology, which includes two broad categories: photovoltaic (PV) solar cells or concentrating solar thermal plants (CSP).

The scale of the system—ranging from small, distributed rooftop PV arrays to large utility-scale PV and CSP projects—also plays a significant role in the level of environmental impact.

Land use

Depending on their location, larger utility-scale solar facilities can raise concerns about land degradation and habitat loss. Total land area requirements varies depending on the technology, the topography of the site, and the intensity of the solar resource. Estimates for utility-scale PV systems range from 3.5 to 10 acres per megawatt, while estimates for CSP facilities are between 4 and 16.5 acres per megawatt.

Unlike wind facilities, there is less opportunity for solar projects to share land with agricultural uses. However, land impacts from utility-scale solar systems can be minimized by siting them at lower-quality locations such as brownfields, abandoned mining land, or existing transportation and transmission corridors [12]. Smaller scale solar PV arrays, which can be built on homes or commercial buildings, also have minimal land use impact.

Water use

Solar PV cells do not use water for generating electricity. However, as in all manufacturing processes, some water is used to manufacture solar PV components.

Concentrating solar thermal plants (CSP), like all thermal electric plants, require water for cooling. Water use depends on the plant design, plant location, and the type of cooling system.

CSP plants that use wet-recirculating technology with cooling towers withdraw between 600 and 650 gallons of water per megawatt-hour of electricity produced. CSP plants with once-through cooling technology have higher levels of water withdrawal, but lower total water consumption (because water is not lost as steam). Dry-cooling technology can reduce water use at CSP plants by approximately 90 percent [3]. However, the tradeoffs to these water savings are higher costs and lower efficiencies. In addition, dry-cooling technology is significantly less effective at temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Many of the regions in the United States that have the highest potential for solar energy also tend to be those with the driest climates, so careful consideration of these water tradeoffs is essential. (For more information, see How it Works: Water for Power Plant Cooling.)

Hazardous materials

The PV cell manufacturing process includes a number of hazardous materials, most of which are used to clean and purify the semiconductor surface. These chemicals, similar to those used in the general semiconductor industry, include hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and acetone. The amount and type of chemicals used depends on the type of cell, the amount of cleaning that is needed, and the size of silicon wafer [4].  Workers also face risks associated with inhaling silicon dust. Thus, PV manufactures must follow U.S. laws to ensure that workers are not harmed by exposure to these chemicals and that manufacturing waste products are disposed of properly.

Thin-film PV cells contain a number of more toxic materials than those used in traditional silicon photovoltaic cells, including gallium arsenide, copper-indium-gallium-diselenide, and cadmium-telluride[5]. If not handled and disposed of properly, these materials could pose serious environmental or public health threats. However, manufacturers have a strong financial incentive to ensure that these highly valuable and often rare materials are recycled rather than thrown away.

Life-cycle global warming emissions

While there are no global warming emissions associated with generating electricity from solar energy, there are emissions associated with other stages of the solar life-cycle, including manufacturing, materials transportation, installation, maintenance, and decommissioning and dismantlement. Most estimates of life-cycle emissions for photovoltaic systems are between 0.07 and 0.18 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour.

Most estimates for concentrating solar power range from 0.08 to 0.2 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour. In both cases, this is far less than the lifecycle emission rates for natural gas (0.6-2 lbs of CO2E/kWh) and coal (1.4-3.6 lbs of CO2E/kWh) [6]. 

References:

[1] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Renewable Energy at Mining Sites

[2, 3, 4] National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). 2012. Renewable Electricity Futures Study. Hand, M.M.; Baldwin, S.; DeMeo, E.; Reilly, J.M.; Mai, T.; Arent, D.; Porro, G.; Meshek, M.; Sandor, D. eds. 4 vols. NREL/TP-6A20-52409. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

[5] National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Best Research-Cell Efficiencies.

[6] IPCC, 2011: IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. Prepared by Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1075 pp. (Chapter 7 & 9).

What are the commercial implications of the solar panel industry? Why? Why not?

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Is Aluminum better than Plastic?

Is aluminum better than plastic? It’s complicated.

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Source: The Verege
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Which do you think is better: plastic or aluminum for recycling? Why? How can you use what you learned to reduce global warming?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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With holidays, know what you can, cannot recycle

122018-recycle-001
Source: Quad City Times
These holiday items do NOT belong in your recycling cart: wrapping paper (even if it has the recycling symbol, which means it was made from recycled materials), ribbons, bows, and artificial Christmas trees. Christmas lights can be recycled, but only at the Electronics Recovery Center, 5650 Carey Ave., Davenport. QUAD-CITY TIMES
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Household waste in the United States increases by more than 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

Scott County residents may recycle many holiday items through curbside and drop-off recycling programs, including:

• Boxes, such as those from electronics, toys, shoes and shirts;

• Wrapping paper tubes;

• Gift/shopping bags made of paper;

• Tissue paper;

• Greeting cards and envelopes (even photo cards);

• Newspapers, advertisements, magazines and catalogs;

• Plastic bottles and jugs;

• Glass bottles and jars;

• Aluminum and steel cans.

• Aluminum pie plates, clean foil and cookie/popcorn tins also go into the recycling cart or drop off recycling programs.

Holiday lights: Strands of holiday lights also may be recycled, but don’t place them in curbside recycling carts.

Holiday lights — along with computers, monitors, televisions, printers, digital cameras and video game systems — are considered electronic waste, or e-waste.

These items may be dropped off 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon the first Saturday of the month at the Electronics Recovery Center, 5650 Carey Ave., Davenport. There is no charge to residents of Scott and Rock Island counties.

The cities of Bettendorf and Davenport collect large e-waste items at the curb from residents on their bulky waste/recycling days and deliver them to the Electronics Recovery Center. Data containing electronics can be dropped off at the secure Electronics Recovery Center during business hours.

What CAN’T be recycled: Not all holiday items may be recycled. This includes plastic bags and films, Styrofoam, wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, and artificial Christmas trees. These are considered contaminants to the recycling process and should not be placed in curbside or drop-off recycling containers.

Follow the guidelines: Residents are reminded that all recyclables must be contained within their cart, with the lid closed, for collection. Cardboard placed outside the cart cannot be collected. Cardboard pieces that do not fit inside the cart may either be broken down to fit, or may be recycled at any of the drop-off locations around the county. A list of locations may be found online at www.wastecom.com.

For more information about holiday recycling, call 563-386-9575 or visit www.wastecom.com.

Now that Christmas is over, what will you do with all that wrapping and packing? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Is recycling one of them?

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US to hold world climate summit early next year and seek to rejoin Paris accord

Source: The Guardian
Action points for first 100 days of Joe Biden presidency seen as boost to international action currently falling behind

Joe Biden said he would immediately start working with counterparts on climate change mitigation.
Joe Biden said he would immediately start working with counterparts on climate change mitigation. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

The US will hold a climate summit of the world’s major economies early next year, within 100 days of Joe Biden taking office, and seek to rejoin the Paris agreement on the first day of his presidency, in a boost to international climate action.

Leaders from 75 countries met without the US in a virtual Climate Ambition Summit co-hosted by the UN, the UK and France at the weekend, marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris accord. The absence of the US underlined the need for more countries, including other major economies such as Brazil, Russia and Indonesia, to make fresh commitments on tackling the climate crisis.

Biden said in a statement: “I’ll immediately start working with my counterparts around the world to do all that we possibly can, including by convening the leaders of major economies for a climate summit within my first 100 days in office … We’ll elevate the incredible work cities, states and businesses have been doing to help reduce emissions and build a cleaner future. We’ll listen to and engage closely with the activists, including young people, who have continued to sound the alarm and demand change from those in power.”

He reiterated his pledge to put the US on a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and said the move would be good for the US economy and workers. “We’ll do all of this knowing that we have before us an enormous economic opportunity to create jobs and prosperity at home and export clean American-made products around the world.”

How can rejoining the Paris Accord improve the air you and your loved ones breath? What are the benefits of rejoining the Paris Accord? Why? Why not?

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