Google will hit 100% renewable energy milestone in 2017
It was back in 2007 when Google first announced their intention to pursue a 100% renewable energy program, and since then the firm has driven with steely-eyed determination towards its clean energy targets.
It’s especially gratifying to understand this when you consider Google’s global operations use as much electricity as the entire city of San Francisco. Some 2.6 GigaWatts of electrical demand are required by Google Inc. worldwide — all of it produced by wind and solar.
Google also has plenty of experimental renewable energy projects on the go, including a promising ocean wave energy programme that is light-years ahead of similar projects — and their version of this hopeful technology seems to be an economically viable method of collecting clean energy from the ocean — which it does without harming the local sea life. Which makes ocean wave energy much more valuable than tidal energy which mounts huge propellers on the seafloor.
The company continues to dramatically increase the level of energy efficiency in it’s office buildings and data centres concomitant with it’s decade-long drive towards 100% renewable energy.
Not only has it pioneered the way that corporations incorporate renewable energy into their operations, it has changed the entire utility industry model with novel Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) terms.
Alphabet (Google’s parent company) has helped millions of energy consumers to become aware of their personal carbon footprint and lower their energy bills by 18% on average via the Nest Thermostat which has saved more than (as of December 31, 2016) some 10 billion kWh combined — enough energy to power all of San Francisco for more than 21 months.
Google has recently created Earth Outreach, a realtime planetary dashboard to predict and analyze solutions for farmers, to help us understand geological events as they occur, to enhance political borders and study biological boundaries from space, and so much more. This amazing resource hasn’t begun to reach it’s full potential.
Like email a generation ago, which people thought of as a simple form of text communication to be used by academics and speechwriters — yet look at what has happened to email since the first message was sent via the ‘information superhighway’. Kinda takes you back in time, doesn’t it? Anyway, Earth Outreach will follow a similar growth curve to the explosive growth of email, and in a few years Google Moon Outreach and Google Mars Outreach will become the biggest thing in the world since, well, email.
Whatever you’re doing right now isn’t as important as reading Google’s brilliant and viewer-friendly report, click here to read some truly inspiring news.
An increasingly protectionist United States has suddenly announced a 219% tariff on Bombardier passenger aircraft.
Bombardier Aerospace, headquartered in Montreal, Canada, also employs some 4000 people in Northern Ireland who produce a significant percentage of the components used in the C-Series passenger jets (CS 100 and CS 300) that have recently entered production.
Switzerland has already taken delivery of some of their C-Series jets, with others to be delivered in the coming months. Airlines from Germany, Finland and other European nations have indicated huge interest in these modern and fuel-efficient airliners, and China has told the company they will take as many planes as Bombardier can produce.
There isn’t a better commercial aircraft in the 100-150 seat market in the world today.
And if that sounds like advertising copy, it’s because the aircraft the C-Series competes against were originally designed in the 1970’s (Boeing 737) and 1990’s (Airbus) and early 2000’s (Embraer) and although those aircraft lines have received numerous upgrades over the decades, from an engineering point-of-view nothing beats starting with a clean sheet.
This allows designers a free hand to use the latest composite materials, fully digital electronics instead of digital-over-analog, and 100% CAD/CAM design and manufacturing instead of only part of the process being CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing) all of which means there are no engineering compromises.
When you have the best plane on the market in that particular segment, one that boasts the quietest takeoffs and landings (significantly quieter) and the best fuel mileage, and the lowest maintenance cost per mile — high tariffs in one country means you simply sell the same number of aircraft per year — but you sell them to different countries.
China can’t get enough commuter aircraft from all sources it seems, and its own fledgling passenger aircraft manufacturer is geared towards truly excellent jumbo jet airliners. The country needs almost 7000 new aircraft over the next 20-years.
Boeing Forecasts Demand in China for 6,810 Airplanes, Valued at $1 Trillion (Boeing)
All good news for Bombardier there! The company should easily score 1/3 of all single aisle passenger jet sales in China over the next 20-years. And if they can’t, the entire executive staff of Bombardier should be exiled to Antarctica for life. Yes folks, opportunities like this don’t come along once-per-decade, nor even once-per-century.
Just in case you’re counting along at home; If Bombardier receives 1/3 of all single passenger jet sales in China over the next 20-years, it would need to deliver 6-jets per day to China.
(That’s China alone! India, the Middle East, Indonesia, and other nations all have rapidly growing markets for world-class single aisle passenger jets featuring low noise and exceptional fuel efficiency)
The future couldn’t be brighter for Bombardier and its clients. A missed deal with the United States might in retrospect turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the company. Instead of thinking ‘regional’ — it’s now time to think ‘global’ — thanks to the U.S. Commerce Department.
Trade war, schmwade war! In the 21st-century, the name of the game isn’t getting into fights with your competitors, it’s about out-succeeding them.
Remember your pilot’s etiquette now; Always dip your wings ever-so-slightly (in respectful salute) every time you pass your competition! 😉
U.S. Department of Commerce Issues Affirmative Preliminary Countervailing Duty Determination on Imports of 100- to 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft From Canada (Commerce.Gov)
Britain’s Theresa May issues warning to Boeing over Bombardier trade dispute (The Globe and Mail)
UK government threatens retaliation against Boeing in Bombardier tariff row (The Guardian)
Boeing Super Hornet jet purchase likely to become 1st casualty in possible trade war (CBC)
Bombardier flying high after handing over first C-Series jet to SWISS (Financial Post)
Due to high levels of harassment, intimidation and conflict deaths in Myanmar (also called Burma) that is openly carried out by hostile Buddhists and (purportedly) by Burmese government troops, some 400,000 Rohingya muslims have fled in recent days to neighbouring Bangladesh.
The refugees are arriving tired, afraid, hungry and disoriented as they flee their burning villages. Sixty per cent of those fleeing, are women and children.
It’s not that Burma hasn’t any Muslims. On the contrary, 4.3 per cent of the country are Muslim (about 2.6 million in total) while 88 per cent (46 million) are Buddhist and 6 per cent are Christian.
What’s different for the Muslims in Burma is that due to arcane Burmese law, they aren’t allowed to own real estate (land or buildings) because they aren’t recognized as citizens due to the fact they can’t prove their ancestors lived there prior to 1823. The Rohingya are… human beings without a country.
In recent years over 100,000 have fled to nearby countries to work or to ask for refugee status. Most of them didn’t qualify for Burmese citizenship in the first place — and therefore arrived in a totally new country with no birth certificate, passport, other reliable identification, or even a family address. Intolerable, doesn’t begin to describe it.
Which is why hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have landed across the border in Bangladesh since August 25th. Up to 2.3 million more may arrive in the coming months if all Burmese muslims flee the country. If the present situation is any indication, it looks like all of them will leave Burma.
Why Not Just Go Back?
Burmese Rohingyas have nothing to return to, only burned out villages and increasingly hostile citizens. And once having crossed over into Bangladesh, they can’t cross back into the country in which they were born because they have no legal identification to show to Burmese border guards other than a long-distance telephone calling card (if they’re lucky) and no family address that is recognized by the Burmese authorities.
Myanmar laying landmines on Bangladesh border(so that Rohingyas can’t return) (Al Jazeera)
Bangladesh: The Promised Land for the Rohingya
For decades, the Rohingya have been leaving Burma for Bangladesh and other southeast Asian nations, seeking employment and a chance at a new life.
In those places, if they can find employment they can eventually apply for citizenship and become an actual citizen, with an actual street address, and be a person with an actual job and a real life. If you’re a factory owner that hires a Rohingya, you know they are highly motivated to succeed and that they will be the least problematic of all your workers.
However, even a successful economy like Bangladesh can’t accept millions of refugees in a matter of weeks. The country is doing relatively well for a developing nation and continues to improve its infrastructure and the lives of its citizens every year.
Bangladesh is ranked surprisingly highly by development agencies, and is often referred to ‘one of the next-11’ countries after the G20 countries.
An interesting note about Bangladesh is that they are the largest contributor in the world to UN peacekeeping missions — providing tough, fully trained troops for many UN operations. (The UN pays the wages of the Bangladesh soldiers under its command and supplies many of the tanks and APC’s that Bangla soldiers use while on UN missions, which is standard practice for the United Nations)
What Will it Take to Help the Rohingya?
Plenty of international aid money
Acceptance by Bangladesh citizens
In the southern region of Bangladesh, 409,000 Rohingya are being held in camps stretching along the border with Burma. While 60 per cent of the refugees are women and children, Bangladeshis worry about young Rohingya males who may have been exposed to extremist thought and could conceivably at least, act against Bangladesh citizens in the future. So far, nothing like that has been reported.
However, keeping hundreds of thousands of refugees in miserable and makeshift camps in hot and humid weather isn’t going to help anyone’s mood.
Even if the Rohingyas arrived there never having imagined a terrorist thought in their life, a year of living under those conditions won’t help to keep violent acts out of the minds of young men, who, like young men everywhere, are prone to acting on a perceived problem without properly thinking it through.
Rohingya refugees: ‘No words’ to describe Bangladesh camps, Red Cross says (abc.au)
If Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina can convince UN donors to generously fund the effort, her country has a very good chance of accommodating the sudden flood of refugees; Assisting them to find jobs, homes, and helping to build the strong sort of communities that are an asset to any country — but if it doesn’t happen in this manner, that region of Bangladesh is on the same path as the extremely hurtful (to all sides) Israeli/Palestinian conflict was at its very beginning. Nobody wants that.
Or do they? We’ll see what the response is when the UN General Assembly meets this week in New York.
What Jobs Can the Rohingya Do?
If Bangladesh elects to help the Rohingya fleeing persecution in Burma, the best way forward is to employ them as farm labourers in the southern part of the country. Many of these people have lived in rustic conditions and it will take some time before they will be getting jobs as CEO’s, airline pilots, or automobile designers. But that’s not to say they can’t make a valuable contribution to the Bangladesh economy — they can!
Starting the Rohningyas working in the fields will allow them to acclimatize to the new country and cement their place as valuable workers in Bangla society.
The most important thing for the Bangladeshi authorities to remember after taking care of food, shelter and medicine for the new refugees is to provide a sense of community.
Just dumping these people on a hunk of land and feeding them every day isn’t going to solve anything other than saving their lives, but the eventual result will be a social crisis on the scale of what we’re witnessing in the Philippines today.
What Kind of Housing for Working Rohingya Families?
Refugees that want to work should have access to temporary living quarters. You simply can’t get any sleep in a refugee camp (you know this if you’ve ever visited one!) and therefore, you won’t keep your job very long. Therefore, it’s important to relocate Rohingya workers to suitable accommodations for workers and their families until they can save up enough to purchase their own dwelling.
There are thousands of used portable offices and portable crew quarters in the world available at any time. Not only that, but the UN could purchase thousands of new ATCO-type portable trailers to house Rohingya workers and ship them to southern Bangladesh.
In that way, those Rohingyas that are able and willing to work, will have appropriate accommodation. The benefit of these portable buildings is that they are prewired for electricity, and stoves and heat are provided by natural gas tanks located on the exterior of the unit.
One point to remember about this kind of living quarters is that they can be lifted via crane and placed on top of solid stilts — this is important in Bangladesh as many areas of the country are prone to flooding. Many typical Bangla homes are placed on stilts to prevent flooding during the monsoon season.
It seems Shaikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh sincerely wants to assist the Rohingya refugees and that’s admirable.
However, it’s going to take a few billion dollars just to meet the needs of these desperate people until the end of the year. After that, rather than allowing the miserable conditions of the refugee camps to become the fuel for conflict, the Rohingya must be proactively urged to find local work on the many farms in the region. It’s really the only option in this case.
Getting refugees employed is almost as important as sheltering and feeding them as they stream across the Bangladesh border.
Aung San Suu Kyi invites international help for Rakhine crisis
A sea-change is upon the United Kingdom whether some have come to that full realization or not
The relationship between the UK and the rest of the world is beginning to change as the UK exits the European Union. Not only that, but the relationship between the UK and the other Commonwealth countries is changing. And while all of that is occurring, it is also a time of change in the postwar international order.
These changes are coming and we have no ability to stop them. What we do have though, is the ability to choose whether these changes are ultimately negative or positive for Britain.
The days of ‘Win-Lose’ politics are over
When every second country (seemingly) has WMD weapons, suddenly Win-Lose doesn’t work anymore. Do we really want to solve every issue between nations with nuclear weapons? Because eventually, that’s what it will come to.
It’s great if you ‘Win’. But then you ‘Lose’ because the fallout from large nuclear explosions travel around the Earth a few times per season and nuclear particles continue to exist in the environment for decades (some isotopes linger for 20,000 years) and as everyone needs to breathe the air, eventually you will inhale and, well, (do I really have to tell you this?) your lungs will filter the radioactive isotopes out of the air.
The ‘Winners’ of a WMD conflict will also become ‘Losers’ of that conflict within months. It’s nonsensical to consider nuclear war in the 21st-century.
All of which means, that in the final analysis, international hot points must henceforth be solved by the cool hand of diplomacy.
The days of fighting for Market Share are over
More than any other country, fighting for market share no longer makes economic sense for the UK, because every other country/corporation is likewise fighting for market share.
Larger countries with serious export expertise and fully developed and long-term foreign client relationships have a distinct advantage over a born-again United Kingdom re-entering the exporting world. Fighting for market share against far superior marketing superpowers like Germany and China is like paddling upriver in a hurricane, and good luck with that.
Rather than fighting for Britain’s slice of the pie, the UK should be the one country in the world that works to make the pie bigger for everyone! wherever free markets exist.
In that way, whatever global growth occurs will benefit all exporters equally — including Britain’s born-again export economy, because the UK will have as good a chance as any to capture some of that growing pie — as opposed to fighting companies well entrenched in foreign markets and trying to steal tiny percentages of their total market share. See the difference?
“Don’t fight a battle if you don’t gain anything by winning.” — Erwin Rommel
Rommel was right. And to adapt his truth to Britain’s new place in the world, fighting for market share in countries that are already well-served by European and Chinese exporters will gain British exporters very little and could create trade frictions between Britain and the European Union which is still the UK’s largest trading partner in the 21st-century. We don’t want that.
‘Win-Win and Growing the Market vs. ‘Win-Lose’ and fighting for Market Share
Win-Win political thinking and growing the global market is the best prescription for Britain’s economic future.
Countries with rapidly growing economies like the BRICS countries and many Commonwealth nations are the best places for Britain to concentrate its export efforts. By helping those countries to succeed more than they would have without the UK’s assistance, Britain can grow its export base by selling to people in rapidly growing developing nations enjoying their newfound discretionary income.
It’s all about rising Disposable Income in Developing Nations
The example of India is most poignant, because in that country the average discretionary income of citizens is doubling every five years; All Britain’s leaders must do now, is to work respectfully with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers to the end that British exports to India are welcome and that Indian exports to the UK are just as welcome. (It helps if both countries aren’t manufacturing and selling the same items, of course) If India sells toasters in both countries then Britain should sell kettles in both countries, if you take my meaning. The less overlap, the better.
A few years from now, when a larger percentage of India’s 1.5 billion population can afford to buy a new car, perhaps Indian companies will offer tuk-tuks, small cars and farm trucks for sale in India and the UK, while the UK sells family sedans and Landrovers in India and the UK.
Any other method of working to each country’s strengths — without stepping on each other’s toes — would also be profitable for companies of both countries. What matters is that whatever method is chosen works for companies in both countries.
With the right approach to rapidly growing countries and some standardized and respectful trade rules, the UK could help to grow the global pie, dramatically increase its own exports, keep good relations with exporting superpowers in Europe, China, and America, and be seen as a ‘White Knight’ to developing nations by playing a pivotal and ongoing role in helping them to build their economies.
That future is so much better than bickering over fractions of market share with other (and economically superior) exporting nations — the very countries that Britain depends upon in many ways.
Here’s to ‘Win-Win’ paradigms and growing the global economic pie; A plan that will work for the United Kingdom more than almost any other country — while preventing harm to Britain’s present and important trade relationships.
Merit Order is a ranking system used by electric utilities to choose the most cost-effective electricity to add to the grid at any given moment.
Thanks to the magic of computerization, microprocessors make thousands of decisions per day based on parameters set by the utility company to help the utility to make the highest profits — based on ‘the spread’ — the difference between what they pay energy producers (the wholesale price) and the price they charge their customers (the retail price).
The cheapest electricity on a per kilowatt per hours basis(kW/h) is always solar and wind power which has a merit order ranking of 0 (Merit Order 0) which makes wind and solar the automatic default for utility companies that take every bit of it they can get — and only then do they add power to the grid from the number 1 ranked energy source (Merit Order 1) which in the United States, is coal.
Coal would still be the default energy producer as it was for decades, but because coal has a fuel cost attached to it while solar and wind power don’t, coal ranks lower on the merit order ranking scale. Other electricity generators hold different positions on the merit order ranking scale, with natural gas ‘peaking power plants’ the absolute last choice for utility companies because the per kW/h cost of electricity generated by natural gas gas peaking power plants is so high compared to other energy producers.
The German Merit Order ranking system offers an easy explanation
In the German example, electricity rates are determined hourly and customers are charged the corresponding hourly rate.
For our purposes to explain merit order ranking, this works well. In Germany electricity rates drop by up to 40% during the hours in which solar or wind are active, and this is what Merit Order ranking is all about; Using the cheapest available electricity FIRST — and then filling the gaps with more expensive electrical power generators after all the solar and wind capacity is brought online.
Solar and wind electricity in Germany are rated at Merit Order 0 making them the default for utility companies as they meet their daily demand.
Once all of the available solar and wind capacity is online, only then are, (1) nuclear, (2) coal, and (3) natural gas, ramped up to meet the daily German demand curve.
NOTE: In the U.S. the normal Merit Order rankings are; default (0) for solar and wind, (1) coal, (2) nuclear, (3) hydropower, and (4) natural gas, although this order can change in some parts of the United States, depending which types of energy are produced in a given region.
Still using the German example; The Fraunhofer Institute found – as far back as 2007 – that as a result of the Merit Order ranking system – solar power had reduced the price of electricity on the EPEX exchange by 10 percent on the average, with reductions peaking at up to 40 percent in the early afternoon when the most solar power is generated.
Here’s how the Merit Order works
All available sources of electrical generation are ranked by their marginal costs, from cheapest to most expensive, with the cheapest having the most merit.
The marginal cost is the cost of producing one additional unit of electricity. Electricity sources with a higher fuel cost have a higher marginal cost. If one unit of fuel costs $X, 2 units will cost $X times 2. This ranking is called the order of merit of each source, or the Merit Order.
Using Merit Order to decide means the source with the lowest marginal cost must be used first when there is a need to add more power to the grid – like during sunny afternoon peak hours.
Using the lowest marginal costs first was designed so that cheaper fuels were used first to save consumers money. In the German market, this was nuclear, then coal, then natural gas.
But 2 hours of sunshine cost no more than 1 of sunshine: therefore it has a lower marginal cost than coal – or any source with any fuel cost whatsoever.
So, under the Merit Order ranking of relative marginal costs, devised before there was this much fuel-free energy available on the grid, solar always has the lowest marginal cost during these peaks because two units of solar is no more expensive than one. — Susan Kraemer
It’s as simple as this; With no fuel costs, solar and wind cost less.
Although solar and wind are expensive to construct initially (but not as expensive as large nuclear power plants, large coal power plants, or large hydro-electric dams) there is no fuel price to pay, no weather-related price spikes, fuel transportation costs, fuel supply disruptions, or lack of rainfall to factor into the final electricity price.
As solar panel and wind turbine prices continue to drop thereby encouraging more solar and wind installations, we’ll hear more about Merit Order ranking.
Only solar, wind, hydro-electric and nuclear power have a predictable kW/h price every day of the year. Coal, home heating fuel and natural gas, do not. And that’s everything to energy producers and their customers, the utility companies.
Although energy companies and utilities were slower than consumers to embrace renewable energy, some are now seeing benefit for their business model and henceforth, things will change.
Buckle up, because big changes are coming to the existing utility business model, changes that will benefit energy producers, energy consumers and the environment.