All You Think You Know About Coal in China is Wrong

Reposted from the Center for American Progress

Melanie Hart is a Senior Fellow and Director of China Policy at the Center for American Progress. Luke H. Bassett is the Associate Director of Domestic Energy and Environment Policy at the Center. Blaine Johnson is a China and Asia Policy Analyst at the Center.

In December 2016, the Center for American Progress brought a group of energy experts to China to find out what is really happening.

We visited multiple coal facilities—including a coal-to-liquids plant—and went nearly 200 meters down one of China’s largest mines to interview engineers, plant managers, and local government officials working at the front lines of coal in China.

We found that the nation’s coal sector is undergoing a massive transformation that extends from the mines to the power plants, from Ordos to Shanghai.

The nation is on track to overdeliver on the emissions reduction commitments it put forward under the Paris climate agreement, and making coal cleaner is an integral part of the process.

From a climate perspective, the ideal scenario would be for China to shut down all of its coal-fired power plants and switch over to clean energy full stop. In reality, China’s energy economy is a massive ship that cannot turn on a dime.

The shift toward renewables is happening: China’s Paris commitment includes a promise to install 800 gigawatts to 1,000 gigawatts of new renewable capacity by 2030, an amount equivalent to the capacity of the entire U.S. electricity system.

While China and the United States have roughly the same land mass, however, China has 1.3 billion people to the United States’ 325 million.

It needs an electricity system that is much larger, so adding the renewable equivalent of one entire U.S. electricity system is not enough to replace coal in the near to medium term.

To bridge the gap, China is rolling out new technologies to drastically reduce local air pollution and climate emissions from the nation’s remaining coal power plants.

Read More…

(Seriously, it’s a must-read for all energy observers!)

38,000 Die Prematurely from Diesel Emissions

Reposted from Letter to Britain by John Brian Shannon

According to research recently published in the scientific journal Nature, “The consequences of excess diesel NOx emissions for public health are striking,” and responsible for 38,000 annual, premature deaths (globally) due to heart and lung disease and strokes.

But wait! It gets worse. By 2040 that number might increase to 174,000 — and that’s if every diesel vehicle conforms to 2017 emissions standards.

Most of the deaths occur in Europe, where diesel cars are popular and extant as the primary source of particulate matter (soot) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

In China and India, the proportion of diesel cars and trucks differs and emission standards are lower, consequently, diesel trucks are the largest contributors to particulate and NOx emissions.

“This rigorous study highlights the serious consequences which have resulted directly from the irresponsible actions of the motor manufacturers. [But] …it may well underestimate the full consequences for public health [and the] premature deaths from NOx could be 10 times higher than those from exhaust emissions of particles.” — Professor Roy Harrison, environmental health expert at University of Birmingham

Due to strict emission standards that were enacted since 1999, diesel engines built in 2017 (and the various grades of diesel fuel) are orders of magnitude cleaner than in the pre-2017 timeframe.

Yet, in the absence of incredibly strict diesel vehicle emissions standards for the future, it’s estimated that up to 10-times more people could die prematurely from diesel-fueled vehicle exhaust, due to a number of related factors. The huge baby boom demographic in Western nations show an increasing trend to higher rates of respiratory illness as they age, for one example.

Read the report: Impacts and mitigation of excess diesel-related NOx emissions in 11 major vehicle markets (Nature)

There are really only three choices on this file — four choices, if you include ‘Doing Nothing’ which really isn’t an option for a responsible government.

  1. Ban all diesel fuel sales by 2020. Yes, this could cause a paradigm shift in vehicle engine choices — and result in mass sales of used diesel cars and trucks before diesel fuel is banned.
  2. Ban the use of diesel fuel for motive power within all cities. But not the carrying diesel fuel because some vehicles are diesel/electric and can be switched manually between diesel and electric mode.
  3. Ban the use of diesel fuel for motive power within cities with more than 1 million residents. Pollution levels are noticeably higher in major centres, smaller cities may notice a daytime spike, followed by a relatively rapid evening clearing of the noxious emissions.
  4. Do nothing. At this point, even considering such a plan is beyond irresponsible, now that the facts are coming out and each new factoid turns out to be worse than the one that preceded it.

Certainly it will take some effort by governments. But in this case, there simply isn’t any alternative. Something must be done to save thousands of lives annually.

Past 2020, even more people will be dying prematurely from air pollution if new regulations aren’t quickly legislated.

The payoff is that national healthcare systems will begin saving billions — even in the first year — and every subsequent year will improve those stats. And citizens can expect to live healthier, happier, and more productive lives.

Electrovaya’s New Battery Technology Adds Thermal Stability

Originally posted at JBSNews by John Brian Shannon

Electrovaya’s new battery technology increases the ability of Li-Ion batteries to withstand the higher temperatures of today’s powerful batteries

Electrovaya and it’s new German acquisition own the patent on a new battery technology that will make all Lithium-Ion batteries better and safer by increasing the ability of Li-Ion batteries to withstand the higher temperatures of today’s more powerful and energy dense batteries.

Thermal stability is everything when it comes to creating batteries that are more powerful and more densely packed — as in the large battery packs found in electric vehicles, for one example.

Electrovaya’s fully embedded ceramic material withstands significantly more heat than conventional materials used to electrically isolate battery components and are lighter, safer and cheaper than present-day industry standards.

The Lithium-Ion battery business — already a global industry, will be a $70 billion business within 10-years and it looks like Electrovaya intends to dramatically improve the performance and safety of all Li-Ion batteries, as excess heat and how to contain it, has always been the nemesis of the battery industry. Not to mention incrementally lowering the weight of each Li-Ion cell — an important factor in large batteries such as those found in electric vehicles.

Note that the TESLA P100 battery (which is actually a 100kW battery pack consisting of 8,256 individual rechargeable Lithium-Ion cells in the Panasonic 18650 format, for a total output of 102.4kW) weighs well over 1,200 pounds. A weight savings of 10% (for example) adds up to lower total battery pack weight and longer range for such vehicles.

Watch the CBC video by Reg Sherren on the little company that promises to be a game-changer in the surging battery technology market.

Electrovaya charging ahead with clean energy

“The Ontario company is poised to be a global player in the growing lithium-ion battery market, and it already has its sights on Europe’s industrial powerhouse.” — CBC

TESLA Semi Truck arriving in September 2017

by John Brian Shannon

TESLA CEO Elon Musk announced at the TEDx forum in Vancouver (April 28th) that the TESLA Semi Truck will arrive in September 2017.

That’s great news from a vehicle emissions perspective as more than half of all road-based transportation emissions are caused by transport trucks and their diesel engines.

In major cities — where stop and go driving demands frequent acceleration, diesel trucks contribute significantly to the smoky, particulate-laden smog layer that is a common sight.

From a human health perspective, the unburned hydrocarbons (a.k.a. particulate matter) caused by diesel truck engines are the single worst pollutant for human health and contribute significantly to the high rates of respiratory disease and healthcare costs extant in the world’s major population centres.

It’s a different story out on the highway. Once they get up to speed, diesel trucks compare favourably to newer cars with the latest emission control equipment installed — on the per pound of cargo transported emissions metric.

If cities with populations of 1 million or more created a law that vehicles over 10,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) must be zero emission vehicles (C40 Cities Initiative, I’m talking to you!) respiratory healthcare spending would drop by half, thereby saving governments billions of dollars per year.

Even if one-tenth of the savings were spent on subsidies for TESLA Supercharger installations, hundreds of billions of dollars would be saved annually in every country.

And national productivity would increase due to fewer sick days for workers in cities that presently experience high pollution levels.

It’s already a done deal!

The mainstream media haven’t realized it yet, but big — very big — changes are coming to road-based transportation systems, and it’s not only TESLA in North America, but Daimler in Europe (part of the Mercedes Benz group) also has big plans for electric semi trucks to hit the roads in 2020.

Cleaner air in cities, much quieter semi trucks, and lower healthcare spending; What’s not to like?

What’s the Role of Civil Society in the Race to the Zero Carbon Economy?

Originally posted at The Beam

Richard Heinberg interview by Anne-Sophie Garrigou

“Since government and the economics profession are largely abdicating leadership, civil society must step forward to lead.” — Richard Heinberg

Climate Change - Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, Richard Heinberg

A Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, Richard Heinberg is an American journalist and educator specialized in energy, economic, and ecological issues. Heinberg also serves on the advisory board of The Climate Mobilization, a grassroots advocacy group calling for a national economic mobilization against climate change with the goal of 100% clean energy and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Richard Heinberg on Climate Change

What do you think is the role of the civil society in this race to a zero carbon economy?

Since government and the economics profession are largely abdicating leadership, civil society must step forward to lead. We see this, for example, with the Transition Towns movement.

As populism in spreading all over Europe, and more and more candidates being openly skeptical about climate change, how do we convince the people who vote for them that climate change is actually the most important topic today?

Public rejection of climate science is not driving the success of right-wing populism. Instead, the far-right populists are riding a wave of public anxiety about slowing economic growth, globalization (job competition from overseas), and immigration (job competition at home). The incumbent centrist politicians have opened the door to this kind of challenge by refusing to acknowledge the end of growth and by not suggesting sensible policies for adapting to it. The far-right populists promise to return nations to the good old days — the days of greater job security, easy economic growth, and more cultural homogeneity — and they understand that fossil fuels were key to economic expansion during the growth era. Therefore they tend to deny climate science so that they can promote more fossil fuel use and promise more growth. But it’s all a cynical ruse that is bound to fail spectacularly. The days of easy conventional fossil fuels and rapid economic growth are over, regardless of government policies.

Here in the U.S., most people still believe the climate scientists, even if those same people voted for Donald Trump. The problem is that people are increasingly desperate and they sense that the centrist politicians have lied to them. They want a significant change of direction, and the far-right populists at least promise to shake things up.

What will your next book about?

My next book will be a very short overview of what every thinking person needs to understand in order to survive and navigate the remainder of the twenty-first century.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t despair! We need thinking, caring people to work together as never before! But it is important that everyone understand that our common enemy is actually the fossil fuel-centered, growthist, consumerist way of life that we created in the twentieth century.

If we agree on that, then there are lots of things we can begin to do to change the situation for the better. But without that core understanding, a lot of otherwise well-intended effort can be spent in ways that actually just make us worse off in the long run.

Read the entire interview here.

Subscribe to The Beam here.