There is a widespread view that nuclear energy is necessary for decarbonizing the electricity sector in the United States. It is expressed not only by the nuclear industry, but also by scholars and policy-makers like former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who recently said that the choices we have “…when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine” are “fossil fuel or nuclear.” I disagree. Wind and solar are much cheaper than new nuclear plants even when storage is added. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated the cost of unsubsidized utility-scale solar plus battery storage in 2021 was $77 per megawatt-hour — about half the cost of new nuclear as estimated by the Wall Street firm Lazard. (An average New York State household uses a megawatt-hour in about seven weeks.)
When William Ruto was sworn in as Kenya’s fifth president in September 2022, he used his inauguration speech to demand an end to humanity’s “addiction to fossil fuels” and reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to reach 100% clean energy by 2030. Kenya is not far off this target today. In 2021, 81% of Kenya’s electricity generation came from the low carbon sources of geothermal, hydro, wind, and solar power. Over half of this low carbon electricity came from geothermal energy, which Kenya has in abundance. So much in fact, that excess geothermal energy is released during the night when electricity demand is low. Installed geothermal capacity in Kenya could be increased by at least eightfold, which could open opportunities for scaling up green manufacturing capacity or exporting excess electricity to neighbouring countries.
Detroit, Michigan - You may find yourself driving on an EV charging road in the near future. In Detroit, inductive charging technology is being added to two short roads, a project that will be the first wireless electric road system (ERS) in the U.S. The roads will be capable of charging electric vehicles that install a special receiver while they drive. The roadway will be fully functional by 2023. For the project, roads are embedded with coils that transfer magnetic energy to receivers mounted under EVs. That energy is then used to charge the vehicle battery, whether it is stationary or on the go. “We’re the auto capital. We continue to push technology advancements,” said Michele Mueller, a senior project manager at Michigan Department of Transportation, as reported by Fast Company.
A new report from International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 27, reviews energy targets set around the world and how they are progressing. The findings show that countries are falling short on their energy transition targets. The report also notes that only 12 of the 194 parties in the Paris Agreement have a commitment for a specific percentage of renewables in their total energy mixes. In Renewable Energy Targets in 2022: A guide to design, the research shows that globally, countries’ energy transition ambitions are not enough to limit global warming to 1.5°C. By 2030, countries are currently targeting to meet 5.4 terawatts (TW) of renewable energy capacity, but the world needs to meet 10.8 TW of installed renewable energy capacity by the end of the decade to keep warming within the 1.5°C target.
Ahead of the COP27 UN climate summit, hundreds of scientists are calling on the PR firm in charge of the event’s communications, Hill+Knowlton, to cut ties with its fossil fuel industry clients, which include major oil companies Aramco, ExxonMobil, and Shell as well as an industry coalition called the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. “These clients have not taken the fundamental steps necessary to address the climate emergency and sharply rein in fossil fuels,” states an open letter to Hill+Knowlton signed by over 420 scientists. “Instead, they have used Hill+Knowlton and other PR agencies to spin, delay, and mislead, in order to continue expanding fossil fuel production and thereby increasing heat-trapping emissions.”
Menifee, California - About one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from fossil fuel residential energy use, like natural gas, oil and coal, which contributes to more frequent and severe weather events. According to the most recent U.S. Energy Information Administration data, from 2013 to 2020, the duration of blackouts caused by extreme weather and other events related to the climate crisis has tripled, reported PR Newswire. This makes the transition to renewable energy all the more important. In a collaboration between the University of California, Irvine, SunPower Corp., Southern California Edison, Schneider Electric and KB Home, a new collection of Energy-Smart Connected Communities — more than 200 homes powered entirely by solar energy — are being built in Menifee, California, and are the first of their kind in the Golden State.
A group seeking to place an initiative on the November 2023 ballot to replace Maine’s unpopular investor-owned utilities, Central Maine Power and Versant, with a nonprofit power company submitted over 80,000 signatures Monday, far exceeding the total needed to trigger a referendum. Our Power, the group spearheading the campaign, announced its haul at a press conference at the State House before handing its petitions into the Secretary of State’s Office. That office now has a month to verify the signatures, but with a wide margin over the slightly more than 63,000 signatures needed for a ballot initiative, Our Power’s referendum is very likely to be on the ballot in November 2023. “We have news for you, CMP and Versant, and for your greedy corporate and foreign-government owners. Today, over 80,000 Maine voters are ready to revoke your monopoly privilege,” Andrew Blunt, executive director of Our Power, said at Monday’s press conference.
Newspapers and social media are awash with top tips for cost cutting, but there’s another way of looking at it. What if, instead of putting the pressure on each person, we explored what communities can do together to get through this and be stronger in future crises? After all, the cost of living crisis has complex and systemic causes – it should not be left to individuals to solve it for themselves. Governments need to act, and many are calling for measures from policy-makers to ensure no one goes cold and hungry in one of the wealthiest countries on earth, and to address the root causes of the crises we face, so we are more resilient to future shocks. Warmer this Winter, End Fuel Poverty Coalition, Energy for All and Enough is Enough are among those which have recently sprung up. Meanwhile, we don’t have to sit passively by and wait for solutions to come from above.
The West’s economic prosperity following the end of the first cold war in 1991 was built on a neoliberal capitalist economic model that was only made possible due to the extraction of wealth from China and Russia, the European Union’s top foreign-policy official, Josep Borrell, has confessed. “Our prosperity was based on China and Russia – energy and market,” Borrell said. China provided the US and EU with a massive market, low-paid labor, and cheap consumer goods. And after the Soviet Union was overthrown, mass privatizations in Russia and steps at integrating it into the West helped Europe secure huge amounts of inexpensive energy. But the significant rise in workers’ living standards in China, as well as the proxy war in Ukraine and the EU’s corresponding pledge to boycott Russian gas and oil, have greatly increased the cost of living and doing business in Europe, making its products uncompetitive in global markets.
The massive demonstration, organized by the USB (Unione Sindacale di Base) union, saw people burning energy bills in protest against skyrocketing costs of living, which are taking a huge toll on ordinary people in the southern European country. The demonstrators called on the government in Rome to leave the NATO military alliance and demanded an end to the Russian war in Ukraine, now in its eighth month. The simmering war in Ukraine has resulted in a severe energy crisis across the continent, fueling strong anti-NATO sentiments among people. Italy has been rocked by several such anti-government and anti-NATO demonstrations in recent months. In June, a demonstration was held in the center of the Italian capital for the withdrawal of Italy from NATO, against the supply of weapons to Ukraine and the spread of misinformation about Russia and the Ukrainian war.
Puerto Rico is in dire need of fuel for generators as they deal with the devastation of Hurricane Fiona. But a ship carrying fuel has been idling offshore, unable to enter a port, because it’s Puerto Rico, where the Jones Act—requiring that all goods be brought in on a US-built ship, owned and crewed by US citizens, and flying the US flag—makes critical goods more expensive, or in this case, out of reach. (The White House has just announced it will temporarily waive the Jones Act.) Investment firms in mainland states can’t act as advisors to the government in the issue of bonds while at the same time marketing those bonds to investors—but they can in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, you can get tax breaks, including zero income tax on capital gains—unless, that is, you were born on the island. Only non–Puerto Ricans qualify. Puerto Ricans themselves are ineligible for Supplemental Security Income, even though they pay payroll taxes.
As humanity hurtles inexorably toward a steady-state, no-growth economy, whether by choice or the imperatives of climate collapse, the idea of sharing electricity on a global scale is becoming more relevant than ever. Such an infrastructure would deliver huge benefits. It would spur adoption of renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions while making the world's power systems more flexible and resilient. The systems thinker and maverick architect Buckminster Fuller first proposed the World Grid idea in the 1970s. While the idea was daringly futuristic then, it garnered some serious attention. When the World Grid concept was presented by Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau to then-USSR premier Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet technical experts concluded that the concept was "feasible" and "desireable."
For decades the U.S. opposed European projects to receive energy from Russia. It wants Europe to buy more expensive U.S. oil and gas. Europe's, and especially Germany's industry, depends on cheap energy from Russia. Without it Europe will be de-industrialized and go broke. The U.S. had threatened to disable the pipelines connecting Europe to Russia. Currently the U.S. is winning its war on Europe's, mainly Germany's, industries and people. Yesterday's sabotage attack on the Nord Stream I and II pipelines, which are supposed to bring Russian natural gas to Germany, mean that the the war on Germany has entered its hot phase. A question remains: Whodunnit? Russia has no motive to destroy the pipelines it owns. These are valuable, long term assets and the gas that escaped from them yesterday was on its own worth some $600 to $800 million.
“We were wondering if Mayor Paine is available?” I asked. My words were muffled by the dog mascot costume I was wearing. Next to me was a canvasser and the two camera operators filming us. We were at City Hall in Superior, Wisconsin on April 25 to spread the word about Husky Friends — the name we’d given to a so-called community outreach initiative from Husky Energy, owner of the local refinery that exploded in 2018 and triggered an evacuation of much of the city. With the refinery possibly reopening, Husky Friends was there to “assuage residents’ concerns.” “Oh sure! Let me see if he has a moment,” the receptionist responded. Wait, what!? This wasn’t supposed to be happening. We thought it’d be interesting to get footage of a dog mascot trying to meet the mayor, but we never thought he’d actually come out and talk with us.
Detroit, Michigan - Recurring power outages have become a fact of life in Detroit and Southeast Michigan. The most recent mass outage left hundreds of thousands in Metro Detroit without power following a brief windstorm on August 29th. Four days on, tens of thousands were still unable to run their medical devices and prevent their food from spoiling. With outages becoming more severe and more frequent as the climate crisis worsens, profit-driven utilities want to take more out of the pockets of working people struggling to afford their unreliable energy service. Even before the most recent outages, the frustration in Detroit and surrounding areas was palpable. On Monday, August 22, hundreds demonstrated and turned out to a public hearing held by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to denounce DTE’s latest exorbitant electricity rate hike amid soaring inflation and perennial outages.