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100 ... 100 percent.  Such a 'round' and definitive figure provides the basis for a very clear, simple target to think about.

With all the delays toward action related to climate mitigation and the mounting impacts of climate disruption around the globe, the concept of 80 by 50 (80 percent reduction carbon emissions by 2050 -- from 1990 levels) is increasingly absurd as a standard for planning to foster a prosperous and secure climate-friendly future.  While seemingly absurd in a situation where 'business as usual' shows increased emissions in 2050 (and driving car into the wall at 60 miles per hour (or 100 kilometers per hour) by the end of the century), compared to today, targeting a carbon-neutral future economic system seems a sensible objective (to get our speed 'down' to 20 miles per hour).  100 ...

On the "100" front, a number of recent items:

  • U.S. electricity market:  In September 2012,100 percent of the additional capacity added to the electrical system was in renewable energy systems according to a report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (pdf) (FERC)  300 megawatts of wind projects and 133 megawatts of solar projects.  (Note that there is also a biomass project listed as having come on line, but this has "0" listed for megawatts ...)
  • Ikea: This Swedish global powerhouse announced a doubling of its renewable energy investments, "to resist the ongoing volatility of conventional fuel prices."  Ikea targets meeting 70 percent of its electricity needs with renewable energy by 2015 and 100 percent by 2020.  And, in other 100%, Ikea plans to that 100% of the light bulbs it sells will be long-lasting, efficient LEDs; 100% of the oils used in candles and foods will come from sustainable sources, and that 100% of its cotton supplies from sources certified by the Better Cotton Initiative.
  • Saudia Arabia: Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud,l announced that Saudi Arabia has determined to move the country to 100% low carbon (renewable energy plus nuclear power) electricity sources.  Right now, Saudi Arabia's electricity market is dominated by oil generation facilities.  An important point: the Saudi decision certainly cannot be seen outside the context of climate change but it is truly driven by hard-headed economic reasons. For (not just) SSaudi Arabia and Solar Energyaudi Arabia, the rich complexity of hydrocarbon molecules just have too much value to see them go up in smoke.  The Saudis intend to capture that value:
    use its vast oil reserves for other goods, such as plastics and polymers. "Oil is more precious for us underground than as a fuel source," [Prince Turki] said. "If we can get to the point where we can replace fossil fuels and use oil to produce other products that are useful, that would be very good for the world."

These are not isolated developments.

  • Month after month, the U.S. electrical system is heading toward a lower-carbon output system. This is being driven due to very low natural gas prices, increased nuclear power efficiencies, and ever-increasing capacity of renewable electricity generation (hydropower, biomass, wind, and solar).  In the first nine months of 2012, the capacity of commercialscale solar systems jumped by more than one-third (with the addition of 936 megawatts to give a total operating capacity of 3.37 gigawatts).  The United States is far from alone in seeing such changes in its electrical grid.
  • Ikea is not the only company accelerating renewable energy investmentsGlyndebourne wind turbine with near-term targets of 100 percent renewable energy. Zotos International has installed wind turbines that meet 50 percent of its electricity needs, buys 'clean energy' for the other 50 percent, and is working on plans for self-generating 100 percent of their requirements. Even some utilities have such targets. For example, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) is rapidly adding renewable energy systems with a goal of 100 percent renewable energy (to exceed the state's target of 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030). (Of relevance, the EPA's list of 100% Green Power users.)
  • Saudi Arabia is not alone.  Oil-producing Denmark plans to eliminate fossil fuels from its domestic energy use (electricity, heating, and transportation) by 2050, with significant near-term targets for reducing fossil fuels in its electricity and heating markets.

100 ...

100 percent clean energy and 100 percent reduction in the economy's carbon footprint might seem like tall leaps but these are necessary, achievable, and even profitable paths to take for individuals, companies, communities, nations, and the global economy.  This 'hot renewable energy news' comes as we learn that September 2012 was tied for the hottest global September ever.  It is well past time, as a society, to take serious measures to reduce climate disruption risks.  As part of that path forward, we should celebrate these recent "100" announcement and redouble our efforts to add more to the list.

Originally posted to Kosowatt on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 07:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, Climate Change SOS, and Climate Hawks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Love Prince Turki's quote (7+ / 0-)

    I have thought of that for years. We will rue the day that plastic is not a free soda bottle a teen throws in the trash, but a precious commodity that costs money to purchase.

    Good also to see Hawaii moving toward clean energy (finally). Most people have no idea that they, like the Saudi's, for years have gotten MOST of their electricity from oil, of all things.

    And remember: if we fail on climate change, nothing else matters. - WarrenS

    by LaughingPlanet on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 08:49:21 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the positive news on the energy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    front.   I cringe, however,  every time I see nuclear mentioned in this future path to a sane energy policy.  I applaud Germany's decision of eliminating this source in their energy future and fully support the people of Japan in their efforts to turn away from it.  Nuclear is not a sane way to generate power and without subsidy it does not make economic sense.

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

    by John Crapper on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 09:05:17 AM PDT

    •  Sigh ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Do you support, for example, Japan ramping up (seriously) fossil-fuel use for its electricity?  You might want to spend some time reading Cravens Power to Save the World with an open mind.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 09:55:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Uranium is 'fossil fuel' as its supply is finite (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        John Crapper

        plus big waste issues. We cannot use it to replace the other fossil fuels.

        •  Many issues ... (0+ / 0-)

          the waste issues with nuclear power are, however, terrifying less than what we have with coal.  The supply/etc issues are different from those of fossil fuels.  

          Note, however, that I am not advocating nuclear power as 'the' silver bullet or even a primary element to address climate change and economic and other energy-related issues. On the other hand, considering where we are with climate change, throwing it off the table while we still have massive amounts of coal-fired electricity (and shutting down plants to then rev up fossil foolish electricity) doesn't seem sane.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:44:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Surely you're joking. (0+ / 0-)

            1GWeyear from uranium produces 100000 tons of uranium mine tailings which contain uranium, radium and radon.
            1GWeyear from coal(450000 tons) produces less than 45000 tons of coal ash some of which goes into concrete.
            A kilogram of uranium tailings contains +2500 times the radioactivity in a kg of coal fly ash--probably no surprise).

            You can reduce the CO2 from coal burning by 85%, sequester it underground in saline aquifers. It is expensive but we have lots of coal and the technology works.

            •  Where to start... (0+ / 0-)

              According to the International Atomic Energy Agency here  1000 MW(e) nuclear power station produces 30 tonnes of high level solid packed waste per year.  They go on to note typical a 1000 MW(e) coal plant produces some 300,000 tonnes of ash alone per year, containing among other things radioactive material and heavy metals which end up in landfill sites and in the atmosphere.  You also forgot to mention the 4,000,000 tons of coal that has to be mined (source) and the approx. 10,000,000 tons of CO2 that also has to be disposed of.  

              So, lets sum up:

              Coal: 4,000,000 tons to be mined, 300,000 tons of ash and 10,000,000 tons of CO2 to be dumped.

              Nuclear: 30 tons.

              Mining of Uranium is commonly done via in-situ leaching.  Some high grade ores, such as in Canada, contain up to 21% uranium oxide (source).  So, the cost in terms of ore mined to get a few tons of fuel is NOWHERE NEAR 100,000 tons.  That's ludicrous. Since your numbers are crap, I won't take your opinion on the viability of carbon capture and storage.  

              Now, if we got serious about sustainable nuclear with a closed fuel cycle (full actinide recycle), fuel efficiency would go up by a factor of at least 30 times - that 30 tons would be reduced to just ONE TON and all the several thousands of tons of spent-fuel inventories around the country would become NEW FUEL, enough for a few centuries.

              It is a no-brainer that nuclear done right literally has the power to save the world.  Quite ironic since most people tend to instinctively think first of the opposite upon hearing the word "nuclear".

              The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

              by mojo workin on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 01:01:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Data entry error, 4,500,000 tons is about right. (0+ / 0-)

                Uranium tailing piles of 100000 tons obviously contain far more radioactivity than coal ash piles of 450000 tons.
                Canada has the highest grade ore in the world and running out, I used lower grade Australian ore. Leaching contaminates aquifers in a number of countries which is even more dangerous.

      •  You can rest assured that my 30 year long (0+ / 0-)

        opposition to nuclear generated power is not due to my own ignorance.  This is one area where scientific hubris has dug us into a deeper hole than we otherwise would be in.  We have unfortunately been put in a situation where we must use our existing nuclear generating capacity while  we pivot to truly nonpolluting renewable sources of power generation.  The harder we pivot the faster we can shut down all nuclear plants.  The sooner the better.  And a sane energy policy calls for a complete moratorium on building any new ones.  We need to take the nuclear shovel away.    

        P.s. I've been following events unfolding regarding Fukushima very closely.  They are currently between a rock and a hard place but I come down on keeping their plants in mothballs- yes seriously.   I'll read Cravens Power to Save the World but the open mind ship regarding nuclear has sailed away many years ago for me.  

        If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

        by John Crapper on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 02:17:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  take away nuclear and then what? (0+ / 0-)

          Germany is building new coal plants.  Insanity.

          Fukushima death toll from radiation = 0, and this is the worst accident in a generation, with over hundreds and hundreds of combined reactor-years of operation around the world.  Put this against the thousands of deaths per year caused by fossil fuels, with the risk of making the biosphere uninhabitable.    

          Evacuation zone limits are lower than the radiation level received naturally and without any observable pathology in many parts of the world.  The biggest dimension of the crisis is the fear of additional low level radiation that in fact has no scientific basis for harm!  That unsupported fear has resulted in evac zone limits of 20mSv/year, which is based on arbitrary international limits that ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE.  More political forces made that choice than science.  For 100 mSv/year and less, there is no observable increase in risk so WTF is up with this evac "limit" that has unnecessarily added to the suffering to those lives decimated by the mag. 9 quake and tsunami.  (see Radiation and Reason).  More harm likely done by breathing the air in downtown Tokyo.

          So, ignorance of true radiation risk IS an issue in our collective fear of things nuclear, which leads to outcomes like in Germany and Japan... shut down low risk plants and burn millions and millions of tons of more fossil fuels.  Insanity.  

          The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

          by mojo workin on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 01:43:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Germany... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mojo workin building brand spanking new lignite power plants to replace nuclear and balance intermittent unreliable wind and solar. Good job anti-nukes!

  •  There was a science fiction story years ago, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, xaxnar, Calamity Jean

    in Analog, I think.   It was about miners working dump sites for plastics to use as base stock for medicines, new platics.   They were happy that their ancestors were foresighted enough to put all this petrocarbon based material where they could get at it so easily...

    Wish i could remember the author or something about the title.....

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 09:09:22 AM PDT

  •  Transmission lines from Canada to Chile (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    For more inspiration, please see the recent speech by Secretary of State Clinton on Energy and Foreign Policy. I wish someone could diary that.

  •  If renewable energy was really this great... (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel
    Hidden by:
    wilderness voice

    ...50 years of cheering for it would have made it a significant source of energy.

    Don't even talk about the Danish fraud, by the way.   They are still offering new oil and gas leases off the coast.

    If they were serious, they wouldn't have an oil and gas page on their Energy Agency website.

    I am sick to death of this insipid "by 2050" talk.   Do you plan to be alive in 2050, and how old will you be?

    This kind of talk - Amory Lovins did really, really, really delusional "by 2000" talk in his awful high school term paper (worthy maybe of a C, since it contained almost no references) that was published in Foreign Affairs in 1976 - has been going on for decade after decade.     Have you read that Lovins paper recently to see how many of the "by 2000" predictions actually came true?

    I have.

    I am one of the future generations who is suffering for his blitheringly stupid soothsaying in 1976.

    Is this something we should repeat for the next generation?

    They, and not the "by 2050" people will live with the responsibility for this denialist approach.

    So called "renewable energy" is an expensive failure.   It took money out of a lot more worthy programs.    With the 100s of billions of Euros, dollars, yen, and yuan spent on the renewable energy chimera, we could have built 10 to 20 nuclear plants and easily have outstripped, by a factor of probably at least one order of magnitude, the energy output of the entire planetary energy output of solar, wind, geothermal, blah, blah, blah...

    The real reason that climate change is a catastrophe is that no one - and I mean the left as well as the right - ever took it seriously.

    •  Sigh ... (5+ / 0-)

      1.  Do note that "oil producing", with links to a serious discussion of their oil/natural gas production, is the modifier of "Denmark". Yes ... serious hypocrisy challenge.

      2.  Nuclear is there on Saudi Arabia.  I don't here -- or elsewhere - take an advocacy position against nuclear power. Not sure that the advocacy against renewables is the best path forward for nuclear power advocates.

      3.  Several of these timelines are far from 2050 ...

      4.  At what point does renewable electricity generation get to count as a meaningful number to you?  

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 09:53:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The planet uses 520 exajoules of energy. (0+ / 0-)

        That's the latest figure.

        The production called "renewable energy" - this after 50 years of cheering - is given for 2010 by the Energy Information Agency for the entire planet.

        Here are the figures for renewable electricity, the stuff that wind and solar are supposed to produce to "save us" from climate change, again, after 100's of billions of dollars, euros, yen, yuan , pesos and whatever:

        "Renewable electricity (total):   All "renewable" electricity generation: 4,154.344 billion kwh

        That converts to 15.0 exajoules.   Impressive?   Maybe, until you look a little deeper and see where all this grand so called "renewable" energy is coming from.

        Let's look at the EIA figures for solar energy, that money pit that takes money out of poverty programs, health care, education and a whole bunch of other stuff, that money pit that sucked 80 billion euros out of, for just one instance, the Spanish banks and government:   Solar:  31.221 billion kwh.

        This translates to 0.122 exajoules.   Put in even more graphic and readily comprehensible terms given that there are 31,557,600 seconds in a sideral year, this translates to average continuous power of 3,156 MW at 100% capacity utilization, the capacity utilization figure being one that solar energy can not even theoretically reach, given the existence of something called "night."   The actual figures for solar capacity utilization are more like 10% - and they're all backed up, 100% by gas, the waste of which is dumped in the atmosphere.

        Now, is your contention that Spain couldn't have built three more reactors for 80 billion Euros, reactors that would not, by the way, require gas back up to operate?   Mind you, these figures are for the total output of all the world's solar installations, not just those of Spain.

        So many the "wind miracle" is better, no?   I mean something has to justify that huge environmental disaster in the Batou lanthanide mines, no?

        Let's look:  

         Wind:  341.532 billion kwh.

        That's 1.22 exajoules, again after 50 years of cheering.

        So where's the rest of the renewable energy coming from?

        Well, as has been the case for many decades, the world's largest source of so called "renewable energy" is none other than hydroelectricity, that wonderful form of energy that killed 200,000 people in a single night at Banqiao, not that this fact has served to dissuade one anti-nuke from obsessing over the possibility that someday, someone might actually die from radiation from a 9.0 earthquake and 15 meter tsunami from striking and destroying three nuclear plants.

        Here's the figures:  Hydro:  3,402.30 billion kwh.

        That's 12.2 exajoules or 81% of all renewable energy.

        Excuse me for raining on your wild eyed optimism, but I don't think there are very many more free rivers in the world that we can destroy with dams.    I also am not sanguine about the survival of the glaciers that power these things.

        Are you here to tell me that the glaciers on the Himalayan plateau are safe, and we don't have to worry a whit about the sustainability of the wonderful Three Gorges dam?

        Get real.

        Now, I don't think that climate change will be addressed, as I've made clear many times.   There's too much denial right and left.    The denial on the left is involved in the insipid cheering for so called "renewable energy."

        It.  Doesn't.  Work.   On scale at least.

        All the little shits in the world who want to fling troll rates and insipid taunts on a backwater website like this one will not make one bit of difference about the outcome.    Neither will dumb anti-nukes carrying on stupidly about a subject he knows nothing about, "breeder reactors."

        I'm used to this crap of course, but only because I'm used to telling the truth as I see it, and the world is full of people who hate the truth, and not all of said haters are Jim Inhofe types.   We have the "renewables will save us" types as well.

        Neither did - note the use of the past tense - all the rhetoric about whirlygigs and glass sheets coated with toxic metals make any difference.

        Like I said - and let's be clear that for some 30 years maybe I was guilty of cheering for this stuff until its failure became too obvious to escape - all it did was to suck money

        This year will certainly come in as one of the tenth worst - maybe even one of the five worst - years recorded at Mauna Loa for carbon dioxide concentration increases.   The first nine months of this year averaged a 2.20 ppm increase year to year, the period from April 2011 to April 2012 represented the second worst increase in recorded history.

        I know you hate that, but it's a fact.

        So we're fifty years into the "renewables will save us" experiment.    I hope I answered your question, but when do you answer mine?   How many more hundreds of billions of euros, dollars, yen and yuan must be thrown down this rabbit hole before you give up?

        Never mind, it doesn't matter.   We're cooked.    You have happy face talk about 2050.   I'm not convinced entirely that there will be a world in 2050, or if there is, that it will be one we'd recognize.

        Experiments often do not have the outcome that we wished they'd had.   Unfortunately what was bet on the grand "renewable energy" experiment, was the planetary atmosphere.

        We lost.

        Enjoy the weekend.

    •  Breeder reactors are a failure...everywhere. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, Calamity Jean
    •  HR for being a dick and a liar (0+ / 0-)
      So called "renewable energy" is an expensive failure.  
       The above diary shows this statement to be a lie.
      •  Well ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        NNadir brings a strong passion to the table that can upset many.  But he brings to the discussion knowledge and thinking that has serious value -- even if angered, frustrated, annoyed, etc.

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 10:42:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I applaud your tolerance and even temper (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Calamity Jean

          That said, let us consider the fact the nation of Germany has for the first half of this year supplied 26% of their electric needs with  renewables, and the southernmost point of Germany lies a bit north of Fargo, ND.  Consider also that an area equal to two Nellis Air Force bases. if devoted to solar power, would have a generating capacity equal to the entire existing US nameplate capacity (not that we would want to put it all in one place).  So renewable generation is clearly not a failure; what is lacking is the political will.

          Why are we lacking in political will? Because the voting public has been relentlessly propagandized by the ReThugs and their enablers.  Viewed in this light Nadir's lies are part of the problem. If he provided accurate information that would be one thing, but that is not the case.  And c'mon: Amory Lovins' high school term paper?? Talk about a straw man....

  •  Biggest problem is financial, not technological (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, A Siegel

    The way costs and benefits are allocated in the ongoing tango/wrestling match between government and industry (including the financiers) is stacked in favor of the rich getting richer, to the extent that they can tilt the playing field.

    That Rolling Stone article from several months back pointed out that fossil fuel companies are sitting on at least (IIRC) four times the amount of carbon fuels that can be burned without serious consequences. That counts as assets on their books - if they get it out of the ground and burn it. The only way to keep them from doing so is to change the rules of the game to eliminate the profit - or reduce the margin to a point where better alternatives offer more profit.

    The Saudis make an important point - why burn irreplaceable petroleum for power when they live in a freakin' desert with vast amounts of sunshine? This new battery technology means they can store enough during the day to keep things running through the night as well.

    The problem with energy is a problem with power - who has it, who gets more, who pays the ultimate bill. We could, for example, launch a crash Apollo type program to put solar power satellites in orbit and use those to supply all our electrical needs. The sun shines 24/7 in space.

    I'm really concerned a Romney administration, sequestration, or a Grand Bargain could eliminate funding for this just at a time when it looks like progress is finally being made. This might solve our energy problems for the indefinite future... IF we will just make the trivial investment in the research to get there.

    I look at the Presidential race to date and the other contests and I am not sanguine. To paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, "I sense a great disturbance in the Stupid."

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 04:18:58 PM PDT

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