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Wind Farms can Offset Their Emissions Within Two Years

By Isabella Pimentel Pincelli, Jim Hinkley, and Alan Brent - Royal Society of New Zealand, May 14, 2024

In recognition of deeper insights into the implications of wind farm deployments, this paper addresses the need for an updated Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for onshore wind generation systems, using 4.3 MW wind turbines and direct drive permanent magnet synchronous generators. The environmental and energy performances were estimated through an LCA for an onshore wind plant under construction in Aotearoa New Zealand with a total nameplate capacity of 176 MW. This study used real construction data showing literature data overestimates civil works and underestimates transportation contributions in the wind farm footprint. Further, different end-of-life management alternatives for turbine blades are analysed: landfill, mechanical recycling, and chemical recycling. The results indicate a carbon footprint of 10.8–9.7 gCO2eq/kWh, a greenhouse gas payback time of 1.5–1.7 years for avoided combined cycle gas turbines, and an energy payback time of 0.4–0.5 years, in which the chemical recycling of the blades is the lower emission solution overall. The outcomes underscore the environmental efficiency of onshore wind farms and their important role in the energy transition. Notably, the manufacturing of wind turbines is the primary contributor to the carbon and energy footprints, highlighting a critical area for targeted environmental mitigation strategies.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Responding to Green Colonialism Voices from Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East

Renewable Energy is (Mostly) Green and Not Inherently Capitalist, Volume 1: Wind Power (REVISED)

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Eco Union Caucus, Revised January 16, 2024

Is renewable energy actually green? Are wind, solar, and storage infrastructure projects a climate and/or envi­ronmental solution or are they just feel-good, greenwashing, false "solutions" that either perpetuate the deep­ening climate and environmental crisis or just represent further extractivism by the capitalist class and the privileged Global North at the expense of front-line communities and the Global South? 

This document argues that, while there is no guarantee that renewable energy projects will ultimately be truly "green", there is nothing inherent in the technology itself that precludes them from being so. Ultimately the "green"-ness of the project depends on the level of rank-and-file, democratic, front-line community and working-class grassroots power with the orga­nized leverage to counter the forces that would use renewable energy to perpetuate the capitalist, colonialist, extractivist system that created the cli­mate and environmental crisis in which we find ourselves.

In‌ order to do that, we mustn't fall prey to the misconceptions and inaccuracies that paint renewable energy infrastructure projects as inherently anti-green. This series attempts to do just that. This first Volume, on utility scale wind power addresses several arguments made against it, including (but not limited to) the following misconceptions:

  • Humanity must abandon electricity completely;
  • Degrowth is the only solution;
  • New wind developments only expand overall consumption;
  • Wind power is unreliable and intermittent;
  • Wind power is just another form of "green" capitalism;
  • The extraction of resources necessary to build wind power negates any of their alleged green benefits;
  • Wind power is an extinction-level event threat to birds, bats, whales, and other wildlife (and possibly humans);
  • Only locally distributed renewable energy arrayed in microgrids should be built without any--even a small percentage--of utility scale wind developments;
  • Only nationalized and/or state-owned utility scale renewable energy developments should be built;
  • No wind power developments will be green unless we first organize a socialist revolution, because eve­rything else represents misplaced faith in capitalist market forces.

In fact, none of the above arguments are automatically true (and the majority are almost completely untrue). However, they're often repeated, sometimes ignorantly, but not too infrequently in bad faith. This document is offered as an inoculation and antidote to these misconceptions and misinformation.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Remining for the Energy Transition

By Ann S. Maest - Earthworks, January 9, 2024

In this report, Earthworks, Transport and Environment, and Earthjustice highlight the potential of remining to help meet the increasing demand for transition minerals. However, further study and stronger regulations are necessary before this new innovation can support a safe, just, and sustainable clean energy transition.

Developed to assist policy makers and technical experts in initiating discussions with environmental and human rights leaders, as well as representatives of impacted communities, “Remining for the Energy Transition” dissects what is known and unknown about remining today: how renewable energy minerals can be recovered from mine waste deposits, its possible benefits and dangers, and practices that best reinforce gains and mitigate risks.

Remining mine waste is touted as an alternative to virgin extraction for its promise to deliver better community, conservation, and climate outcomes.

But is remining the silver bullet many deem it to be? 

This report highlights its potential to meet some of the demand for transition minerals. Remined cobalt, for example, could power more than 185,000 electric vehicles. However, more work is still needed to ensure remining is safe and sustainable for people, communities, and our planet.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Factcheck: 21 misleading myths about electric vehicles

By Simon Evans - Carbon Brief, October 24, 2023

Electric vehicles (EVs) significantly cut lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions in almost all circumstances and are the key technology for decarbonising road transport.

While not having a car has even larger climate benefits, many peoples’ ability to go car-free is limited by their circumstances and the availability of alternatives.

This means EVs are “likely crucial” for tackling transport emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

EV sales are growing fast, accounting for one in every seven cars sold globally in 2022 – up from one-in-70 just five years earlier.

Yet EVs are also being subjected to relentless hostile reporting across mainstream media in many major economies, including the UK.

Here, Carbon Brief factchecks 21 of the most common – and persistent – myths about EVs.

How the Rural New Deal Could Shake up National Politics & Support Strong Rural Communities

Blue Hydrogen Webinar

Progressive Groups Unveil 'Rural New Deal' to 'Reverse Decades of Economic Decline'

By Jessica Corbett - Common Dreams, September 13, 2023

"A Rural New Deal is urgently needed to build and rebuild local economies across rural America, reverse 40 years of wealth and corporate concentration, restore degraded lands, reclaim land and ownership opportunities for those whose land was taken by force or deceit, and ensure that communities and the nation can and do meet the basic needs of its people."

That's the opening line of a report released Tuesday by Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and the Rural Urban Bridge Initiative (RUBI), which recognizes that "for too long, we've neglected, dismissed and underinvested" in rural U.S. communities, and offers "a broad policy blueprint to help steer progressive priorities" in such regions.

"Addressing the problems and concerns of rural America, isn't just the right thing to do, it is essential for the health of our nation. Progressives have ignored rural for too long," said PDA executive director Alan Minsky in a statement. "The Rural New Deal will change that."

Blue hydrogen: Not Clean, Not Low Carbon, Not a Solution

By David Schlissel and Anika Juhn - Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, September 12, 2023

Blue hydrogen hype has spread across the U.S., spurred by the billions of dollars of government funding and incentives included in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The fossil fuel industry promises that blue hydrogen, produced from methane or coal, can be manufactured cleanly and contribute to climate change mitigation measures. As we demonstrate in this report, the reality is that blue hydrogen is neither clean nor low-carbon. In addition, pursuing it will waste substantial time that is in short supply and money that could be more wisely spent on other, more effective investments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the immediate future.

In short, fossil fuel-based “blue” hydrogen is a bad idea.

Blue hydrogen’s environmental benefits rest largely on the assumptions baked into a Department of Energy (DOE) model named GREET (Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation) that is the congressionally mandated evaluation tool for U.S. hydrogen projects. Due to a set of unrealistic and flawed assumptions, the model significantly understates the likely greenhouse gas intensity associated with blue hydrogen production.

Among the key shortcomings:

  • It assumes an upstream methane emission rate of just 1%. This is far less than recent peer-reviewed scientific analyses have found and what has been demonstrated by numerous airplane and satellite surveys.
  • It uses a 100-year Global Warming Potential (GWP). This significantly understates methane’s environmental impact in the short term, since its 20-year GWP is more than 80 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • It does not include any estimate (either over 20 or 100 years) for the global warming impact of hydrogen, which works to extend the lifetime of methane and increase its atmospheric abundance. Hydrogen also has a 20-year GWP more than 30 times that of CO2.
  • It does not include a full life cycle analysis (LCA) of all the emissions from the blue hydrogen production process. In particular, downstream emissions from the produced hydrogen and the generation of the electricity needed to compress, store and transport the hydrogen to the ultimate user(s) are excluded.
  • It includes overly optimistic assumptions about the effectiveness of carbon capture processes.

Using more realistic numbers shows blue hydrogen to be a dirty alternative. For example, if we change just two variables—using methane’s 20-year GWP and a more realistic 2.5% methane emission rate—the carbon intensity of blue hydrogen calculated by GREET jumps to between 10.5 and 11.4 kilograms of CO2e/kgH2 (kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents emitted per kilogram of hydrogen). This is between two and three times the 4.0 kg CO2e/kg hydrogen Clean Hydrogen Production Standard (CHPS) established by Congress and the DOE. Note that these already very high carbon intensity figures still reflect DOE’s overly optimistic assumption that hydrogen production facilities will capture at least 94.5% of the CO2 they produce. They also exclude the impact of downstream hydrogen emissions.

If more conservative assumptions are used, reflecting: 1) more realistic carbon capture rates; 2) downstream leakage of the hydrogen produced; and 3) downstream CO2e emissions from the production of the electricity needed to fully compress, store and transport the hydrogen to the site where it will be used, then blue hydrogen gets even dirtier, with a carbon intensity more than three times as much as the DOE’s clean hydrogen standard.

Given these results, IEEFA is extremely concerned that the current blue hydrogen hype is going to result in the funding of projects that exacerbate climate change and lock in our reliance on fossil fuels for decades. For this reason, we have undertaken a series of analyses into the emissions from blue hydrogen production based on current scientific knowledge of methane emissions and hydrogen leakage rates and the existing status of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. This report focuses on the production of blue hydrogen from methane; a subsequent report will examine hydrogen from coal gasification.

Download a copy of this publication here (Link).

A Rural New Deal

By Anthony Flaccavento, Alan Minsky, and Dave Alba - Progressive Democrats of AMerica and Rural Urban Bridge Institute, September 12, 2023

A Rural New Deal is urgently needed to build and rebuild local economies across rural America, reverse forty years of wealth and corporate concentration, restore degraded lands, reclaim land and ownership opportunities for those whose land was taken by force or deceit, and ensure that communities and the nation can and do meet the basic needs of its people. This document proposes ten pillars essential to a Rural New Deal, each with a modest amount of detail about specific policies in order to understand what implementation of the pillar might look like.

At the heart of a RND is the recognition that rural places are fundamentally different from urban and suburban areas, not only culturally and politically, but physically. They are “rural” because they are expansive and land-based. This does not mean that all efforts to rebuild rural economies and communities should revolve around farming or other land-based sectors. However, it does mean that land-based (also including rivers, lakes and oceans) enterprises must still play a central role in rural development, even as internet access, virtual work and the tech sector grow in importance.

While rural and urban places are fundamentally different, they are also deeply intertwined. Many farmers, fishers, foresters and other rural businesses have come to rely on urban markets and in some cases, capital to sustain them. On the other hand, towns and cities need healthy, functioning rural communities for their food, fiber, energy and clean water, indeed for their very survival. Yet for too long, we’ve neglected, dismissed and underinvested in the people that provide these essential goods along with critical ecological services. This has caused great harm to rural communities and it has undermined our collective health and resilience as a nation. Rebuilding and renewing supportive social and economic connections across rural and urban lines, empowering rural people and communities, moving away from extractive relationships of the past, is the course we must chart together.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

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