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Weekly Highlights | From the Germany’s carbon challenge to the Cryptocurrency’s dirty secret
Weekly Highlights | From the Germany’s carbon challenge to the Cryptocurrency’s dirty secret
illuminem
By illuminem
May 14 2022 · 6 min read

Illuminem Voices
Energy · Environmental Sustainability · Mining & Metals

1. Industrial strength amplifies Germany’s carbon challenge

By Financial Times

  • Germany is both the EU’s largest economy and its largest emitter of greenhouse gases. So realising the bloc’s ambition to reach net zero GHG emissions by 2050 will depend greatly on its progress
  • The Federation of German Industries, the BDI, is clear about the challenge that lies ahead. In its 2021 Climate Paths 2.0 report, it says meeting GHG targets will require Germany to “undertake the greatest transformation in its postwar history
  • But getting enough renewable energy to power Europe’s largest exporter sustainably and catch up with targets is a “mammoth task” that “will take years to see its success”, warns Robert Habeck, Germany’s minister for economic affairs and climate action

2. Transparent solar panels could replace windows in the future. Here's how

By Interesting Engineering

  • Transparent solar - also called photovoltaic glass - is a cutting-edge technology that gathers and uses light energy through windows or any glass surface, regardless of the angle
  • Copenhagen International School's design utilizes 12,000 hued but clear solar panels all over the building, producing 200 MWh of energy annually - apparently more than half of the energy the building consumes
  • Before the technology can be scaled up, scientists need to up its efficiency, as there is an efficiency/transparency tradeoff - the more transparent the panel is, the less efficient it is

3. Businesses are contributing to the Paris Agreement for nature. Here’s how.

By World Economic Forum

  • It has been a tough start to 2022. The war in Ukraine has shaken global geopolitical order and brought immense grief while disrupting supply chains and global economic stability. At the same time, the IPCC has issued dire warnings outlining the devasting consequences of climate change - including on business - if we don’t take urgent action and that the window for action is fast closing
  • As the world struggles with political upheaval, we must also hold the long-term view in mind: that peace, a stable climate, and healthy ecosystems are the foundations of thriving and resilient societies and economies
  • Worldwide leading businesses are starting to bring transformative proposals into the discussions. More than 1,100 companies with revenues of more than $5 trillion have signed the Nature Is Everyone’s Business Call to Action, urging governments to adopt policies now to reverse nature loss by 2030 – recognition of the growing risks climate action failure, extreme weather events and biodiversity loss pose to business

4. Playing my part

By IEA

  • This new report explains how each of us can save money, reduce reliance on Russian energy and help Ukraine and the planet. 9 main points stand out: 1) turn down heating and use less air-conditioning 2) adjust your boiler’s settings
  • 3) Work from home 4) use your car more economically 5) Reduce speed on highways 6) leave your car at home on Sundays in big cities 7) walk or bike short journey instead of driving 8) use public transport 9) skip the plane, take the train
  • There are more ways to upgrade your home and make it less reliant on fossil fuels, for ex. installing smart controls, install solar panels and new isolation (often with  governmental support)

5. What will an EU embargo on Russian oil mean?

By Energy Monitor

  • After weeks of painful deliberations, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has finally unveiled her proposal for an EU ban on Russian oil
  • The proposal was only made possible after Germany reversed its opposition, with ministers saying they are prepared to accept the economic pain but that the ban must be phased in between now and the end of the year
  • Other previously wary countries had also dropped their opposition – except two. Hungary and Slovakia say it will take several years to replace Russian oil without major damage to their economies because they are landlocked and cannot import oil by sea into ports, and are almost entirely reliant on Russian pipeline gas

6. Everyone Wants to Build Green Energy Projects. What's the Holdup?

By Wired 

  • While it’s great that there are enough wind, solar, and battery storage projects planned to meet the United States’ climate goals, a growing bottleneck in the nation’s electric grid is keeping most of these projects grounded
  • The problem stems from a combination of factors: aging infrastructure, a discombobulated electrical grid that makes it difficult to get renewable energy from where it is produced to where it is needed, and the overwhelmed regulators responsible for approving the projects
  • 1,300 gigawatts of wind, solar, and energy storage projects had been proposed as of the end of 2021, enough to meet 80% of the White House’s goal of carbon-free electricity generation by 2030. But fewer than a quarter of the projects will ever get going, according to the experts, even those that have the necessary financing, permit approvals from local jurisdictions, and contracts with utilities to sell the power

7. Why Climate Change Makes It Harder to Fight Fire With Fire

By The New York Times

  • With wildfires already raging in May, one of the firefighters’ strategies is to set small,  controlled fires. This strategy has been used for a long time, and aims to clear away small vegetation that can spread real fires
  • However, climate change is jeopardizing the use of this technique; dry seasons are longer, and rain and wind patterns are shifting making planning difficult.
  • The US approach has long been to put fires out; however, fires are now so big this approach is sometimes impossible. Though sometimes risky, prescribed fires will thus be key to fighting wildfires

8. Green hydrogen is the final piece to solving the decarbonization puzzle

By GreenBiz

  • Unlike batteries used for electric vehicles and stationary power that are unable to store large quantities of electricity for extended periods of time, hydrogen can be produced from excess renewable energy and stored in tanks in large amounts for a long time
  • Walmart is using green hydrogen to power its forklifts at distribution and fulfillment centers, and Edison Motors is using green hydrogen fuel cells for its city bus fleets
  • A recent McKinsey study estimated that by 2030, the U.S. hydrogen economy could generate $140 billion and support 700,000 jobs, while a report by the Hydrogen Council estimates that 18% of the world energy market will consist of hydrogen by 2050

9. This is the world’s first hydrogen powered bike

By World Economic Forum

  • The world’s first hydrogen powered bike was created by Dutch firm Studio MOM, and it’s powered by a hybrid hydrogen battery
  • Hydrogen has a higher energy-to-weight ratio than lithium cells, meaning that a larger quantity of power can be obtained from a lighter fuel source - a hydrogen battery weighs 1.2 kg and its equivalent lithium-ion battery weighs 6 kg
  • The batteries are made and filled by Australian firm LAVO, which has designed a long term capture system for producing hydrogen using only renewable energy

10. Cryptocurrency's dirty secret: Energy consumption

By Tech Xplore

  • Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency, currently consumes an estimated 150 TWh of electricity annually - more than the entire country of Argentina - emitting some 65 Mton of carbon dioxide annually
  • The Texas grid operator ERCOT estimates that crypto miners may increase energy demand by up to 6GW by mid-2023, roughly the equivalent of adding another Houston to the grid.", says Joshua D. Rhodes of the Center on Global Energy Policy
  • After China's crackdown, the share of natural gas used in Bitcoin's electricity mix doubled to 31%, and Kazakhstan - now the world's second largest Bitcoin hub - gets about 50% of its energy from high-emissions coal-powered plants
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