Catching Up With the New E.U. Emissions Targets Will Cost Germany a Trillion Euros

Trouble Keeping Up

It was only last week that we reported on the European Union’s decision to raise its renewable energy targets from 27 percent to 35 percent. The adjusted targets will impact several member states, including Germany, which elected to backtrack on plans to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2020. However, the country reportedly still intends to meet the goal of cutting 55 percent of emissions by 2030.

As reported by Reuters, the draft study — which was commissioned by the BDI German industry group and assembled by Boston Consulting and Prognos — states that Germany will have to spend more than 1 trillion euros ($ 1.2 trillion) to meet the low end of the EU’s target of reducing emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050.

While nothing to scoff at, as Sören Amelang at Clean Energy Wire wrote, several energy-intensive industry representatives are wary of the study’s information, as it essentially assumes these plans will go off without a hitch.

“The results assume that politicians only make right decisions from today,” said Kurt Bock, president of chemical industry association VCI and CEO of chemical giant BASF.

Despite the study’s optimism, it does question Germany’s ability to reach the higher end goals, which would push the already high price to around 2.3 trillion euros ($ 2.8 trillion) even with the expected price drop of renewable energy.

According to Clean Energy Wire, BDI President Kempf explained that reaching an 80 percent emissions reduction would already be a momentous task. 95 percent, then, would be all the more difficult to achieve.

“The political aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 is ambitious,” said Kempf. “The aim of reducing them by 95 percent is overambitious.”

Positive Outlook

It may sound like Germany has done very little to curb gas emissions, but in 2017 the country set renewable energy records and built the world’s largest wind turbine. By 2021, it will have multiple hydrogen-powered trains in operation.

Not all the reactions to the study were negative: Germanwatch Policy Director Christoph Bals credited it as a realization that Germany’s energy industry is without “ambitious climate policy as a driver for innovation and modernization.” Bock also pointed out that the need for additional climate protection and goals presented a “huge business opportunity.”

Sabine Nallinger, head of Foundation 2° (a company that represents German CEOs who support measures to combat climate change) said BDI’s report reveals the 95 percent gas emissions goal would still be feasible without harming the economy — provided that other countries continue to stand by the Paris Climate Agreement.

“From the BDI study, we must not draw the conclusion that Germany only pursues the 80 percent target,” said Nallinger. “This would be a disservice to the German economy: German companies would not be tomorrow’s technology leaders.”

It’ll certainly be an uphill battle for Germany, but with global temperatures continuing to increase, its become more apparent that every country needs to do their part to offset the effects of global warming. We’re already due for extreme river floods by 2040 thanks to the emissions we’ve already generated. Now’s our chance to prevent further disasters.

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A Power Plant Joining the Grid in 2018 Burns Natural Gas with No Emissions

Trending Renewable

A welcome new energy trend has emerged in recent years: traditional fossil fuels appear to be on the way out, while renewable sources of energy are on the rise.

Popular opinion has shifted toward energy sources with a smaller carbon footprint, and renewable energy is becoming cheaper, more efficient, and more widespread. However, the transition away from fossil fuels is still far from complete. To help ease this transition period, one company has developed a way to burn a fossil fuel — natural gas — to generate electricity without producing any carbon emissions.

The company is NET Power, and their product is the Allam cycle.

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In a typical power plant, a fossil fuel such as coal is combusted with ambient air to create heat to boil water. The steam from that water then turns a turbine to produce electricity.

According to NET Power, this process is inefficient, with 30 to 40 percent of the system’s energy lost during the process. It’s also damaging to the environment, producing harmful nitrous oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and, in some cases, spewing sulfur dioxides, mercury, and fine particulate matter into the air as well.

NET Power’s plant is a bit different. It combusts natural gas with oxygen instead of ambient air, which is nearly 80 percent nitrogen. This allows the system to avoid the NOx emissions of traditional plants. The result of the combustion is nearly pure CO2.

This CO2 is heated until it reaches supercritical status, at which point it flows like a liquid but expands like a gas. This supercritical CO2 is then used to drive a turbine to produce electricity. After that, it’s cooled and de-pressurized back to a normal gas and returned to the front of the loop to keep the cycle going.

NET Power
NET Power’s prototype plant, under construction in Houston, Texas. Image Credit: NET Power

Using supercritical CO2 to run the turbine allows NET Power to avoid the energy loss that comes with converting water to steam. Any excess CO2 created by burning the natural gas can be stored underground or sold to the market. Others can use this CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), a process that involves blasting CO2 underground to free up oil reserves.

“Anybody who says keep [fossil fuels] in the ground is asking the wrong question,” NET Power CEO Bill Brown told NPR. “The question is, are we putting CO2 into the atmosphere? And if the answer is no, then that should be sufficient.”

NET Power has already built a smokestack-free prototype power plant in a small lot in the oil hub and carbon-dioxide-emitting hotspot of Houston. The plant is expected to begin running in 2018 and produce 50 MW of electricity, enough to power more than 40,000 homes. It will produce this emission-free electricity at a cost of 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is comparable to the cost of electricity from natural gas plants today.

If the prototype plant works the way NET Power thinks it will, the company plans to open a 300-megawatt power plant by 2021. That plant could produce emissions-free power for over 200,000 homes.

Carbon Capture, 2.0

Those who say we cannot solve climate change by a swap to renewables alone have long hoped for an alternative like NET Power’s. Rodney Allam, the engineer who pioneered the cycle, is himself a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“I’m not knocking renewables, but they can’t meet future power demands by themselves,” Allam told Science.

As the oft-repeated adage goes, wind and solar only work when the Sun is shining and the wind is blowing. That problem will be alleviated by better energy storage technology, but until that storage is available, natural gas could be a solid interim solution. It produces much less CO2 than coal and can be ramped up or down as renewable contributions fluctuate.

NET Power’s plant takes it one step further by cleaning up the carbon at no added cost. Still, with the cost of renewable energy rapidly falling, some may be hesitant to invest in a technology that relies on fossil fuels and is currently more expensive than the renewables themselves.

However, if NET Power’s prototype plant works as hoped when it fires up in 2018, its success could be enough to motivate the world to give the Allam cycle a shot.

The post A Power Plant Joining the Grid in 2018 Burns Natural Gas with No Emissions appeared first on Futurism.

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Volkswagen exec gets seven years in prison over emissions scandal

Volkswagen official Oliver Schmidt has been sentenced to seven years in prison and handed down a $ 400,000 fine. In August, the former Volkswagen manager in Michigan pleaded guilty for his role in the automaker's emission-cheating scheme. If you'll re…
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Scientists Warn That Fossil Fuel Emissions Will See Record Highs in 2017

Emissions are Increasing

Some sobering news was announced this week, preceding international climate negotiations in Germany. After three years of flat growth, global emissions are increasing again. This was discovered thanks to a series of reports from the Global Carbon Project, an organization, chaired by Stanford scientist Rob Jackson, that works to quantify emissions.

Despite this less-than-stellar news, Jackson stated in a press release, “This year’s result is discouraging, but I remain hopeful.” He continued, “In the U.S., cities, states, and companies have seized leadership on energy efficiency and low-carbon renewables that the federal government has abdicated.”

Jackson is correct. While U.S. national decisions on emissions and efforts to combat climate change are falling far short, with the country pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, states and cities are beginning to act independently. But, while many are hopeful that these grassroots efforts might keep the U.S. on track for now, this report details rising emissions on a global scale.

“Time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2º Celsius let alone 1.5º Celsius.”

This report is published in Nature Climate Change, Environmental Research Letters, and Earth System Science Data Discussions. The report shows that, in 2017, global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 trillion kg (41 billion metric tons), after a 2 percent (withing a range of 0.8 to 3 percent) rise in fossil fuel use.

“This is very disappointing,” said lead researcher Corinne Le Quéré, “time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2 ºC let alone 1.5 ºC.”

Curbing CO2

Many hoped that these three years of little-to-no growth in emissions represented a peak — a positive sign that a decline would follow as a result of the efforts being made. But this is unfortunately not the case, as the Global Carbon Project has shown.

This disturbing message has reached policymakers and delegates who are attending the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn this week. So, while it is upsetting news, it is ideal that all of these great minds are together and can start formulating a plan-of-action immediately. The Global Carbon Project report broke 2017’s cumulative global emissions down by country, which will be essential to policymakers looking to enact change.

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In 2017, U.S. emissions are actually projected to decline 0.4 percent (-2.7 to +1.9 percent). However, this decrease is significantly smaller than the 1.2 percent per year decline that the country has averaged over the last decade. There are a variety of factors that could explain why emissions are increasing, including an unexpected jump in coal consumption. This may make sense in light of U.S. economic growth — in 2017 alone, the GDP was up about 2.2 percent.

It is clear that we are moving in the wrong direction as a planet. This wake-up call has shown that, while we’ve made some progress in curbing global emissions for three last years, the efforts we are making are simply not enough. Hopefully, policymakers, corporations, and individuals will all work to get on the same page and make a concerted effort to stop the increasing emissions.

The post Scientists Warn That Fossil Fuel Emissions Will See Record Highs in 2017 appeared first on Futurism.

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