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Demise of King Coal causes turmoil in Germany

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Coal-Powerplant-in-Lunen-Germany
A coal power plant in Lünen, Germany (image credit: Daniel Grothe, CC BY 2.0 license).

The planned timeline for ending coal power generation in Germany could cause the country significant challenges as it battles to meet future electricity demand.

That’s a key conclusion from a new white paper on Germany’s coal phase-out plans by energy market data analyst EnAppSys.

Under current plans, the deadline for the complete phase-out of coal in Germany is the end of 2038, with the aim of bringing this forward to 2035. However, the study claims that coal is currently so strongly entrenched in German energy systems that a total withdrawal of it by this date will need to clear some hurdles.

Such a fundamental change in the power supply will have consequences in the wholesale and balancing markets and requires smart allocation of resources – otherwise there may be greater electricity price volatility as well as potential threats to security of supply and grid stability.

Another challenge outlined in the white paper is the feasibility of planned renewable developments, which would be needed to fill the demand gap left by declining coal generation and the ongoing decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

In the white paper, EnAppSys explores current and potential issues arising from the coal phase-out, including the distortion of the Energy-only-Market principle, the controversial compensations for lignite giants, the coal late-comer Datteln 4, the feasibility of the renewable development plan, the security-of-supply, German slacklining between the centripetal forces of Russian and US gas, grid stability and electricity prices.

Jean-Paul Harreman, director of EnAppSys BV, said: “Germany has a long history of coal which drove the growth of one of the most powerful industries of the world for decades. Although in recent years the industry has seen significant decline, coal and lignite still make up a significant proportion of Germany’s fuel mix today.

“Now, however, German power and balancing markets are undergoing fundamental changes with the parallel decommissioning of coal and nuclear power plants. This provides critical challenges for Germany, both politically and economically.

“Significant growth in renewable capacity will be required to replace planned closures of coal, lignite and nuclear capacity. Current subsidy arrangements for a significant tranche of existing renewable capacity will expire shortly and the continued operation of those units may no longer be economically viable without further subsidy

“The Federal Audit Centre (Bundesrechnungshof) has accused the government of failing to run an economically feasible Energiewende (transition to a low-carbon economy), stating that the associated phase-out plans are endangering the competitive edge of the German industry and security of supply. Indeed, there are widespread concerns that the plan to increase renewables’ share of the fuel mix to 65% will not be met.

“By current estimations, there will be a need for around 18GW of additional gas capacity to fill the gap after the phase-outs and enable the planned renewable integration by 2030. Germany currently imports 93% of its gas supplies, mainly from Russia, The Netherlands and Norway, but Dutch gas will be seriously reduced, if not completely, due to the termination of the activities in the Groningen field by 2022. This will increase the need to diversify power supplies, otherwise security of supply could be seriously affected.

“Security of supply was tight last winter – plants that had been closed down had to be brought back into service to meet demand – and this pattern could be repeated more regularly in future, triggering potentially steep price rises.”

The blame for extreme system prices usually rests on the shoulders of renewables rather than on market design. Currently there is so much concern about meeting demand in power markets after the phase-outs that not much attention has been paid to narrowing spinning reserves and qualified volumes for aFRR and mFRR, two key components of Germany’s balancing market.

Mr Harreman continued: “According to September 2020 data, hard coal, lignite and nuclear make up a large portion of the qualified capacity to deliver FCR (23%), aFRR (12%) and mFRR (28%). Following the coal and nuclear phase-out, this capacity will have to be delivered by other assets. It’s expected that gas will need to step into the aFRR and mFRR markets and batteries will deliver more FCR, but at the speed things are going to change, this may come with temporary scarcity of capacity and associated higher availability prices.”

German balancing markets are very dynamic and the proposed changes will place further pressures on these markets. EnAppSys will be following these changes closely and supporting market participants to optimise their activity guided by the comprehensive data available on the EnAppSys pan-European platform. For further information visit www.enappsys.com

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Source: https://envirotecmagazine.com/2021/06/07/demise-of-king-coal-causes-turmoil-in-germany/

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Ice Shelf Holding Back Antarctic Glacier Breaking Up

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The ice shelf that holds Antarctica’s massive Pine Island Glacier from collapsing into the Southern Ocean is breaking up faster than before as climate change weakens the natural barriers to glacial melting, a new study finds. The research raises alarms over the potential for further accelerated sea level rise. The Pine Island Glacier holds about 160 trillion tons of ice — enough to raise global sea levels by more than 19 inches. Scientists’ analysis of satellite images, published Friday in Science Advances, revealed the glacier’s speed as it flows to the ocean increased 12% over just three years from late 2017 to 2020. Over that time, the glacier’s ice shelf lost one-fifth of its area, thereby reducing its ability to act as a proverbial cork holding the glacier in its on-land ‘bottle.’

The findings dramatically move forward the time window in which a wholesale collapse of the ice shelf is possible and increase concerns over the nearby Thwaites Glacier. “I’m not really a catastrophist,” Claciologist and report co-author Ian Joughin told the Washington Post. “But the integrity of the ice shelf is definitely in question.”

Ice-shelf retreat drives recent Pine Island Glacier speedup. Image courtesy of Science Advances  11 Jun 2021: Vol. 7, no. 24, eabg3080 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg3080

Sources: APWashington Post $, AxiosInsideClimate NewsBusiness Insider, Science Advances

Originally published by Nexus Media (images added by editor).

Featured image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory. Image by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/14/ice-shelf-holding-back-antarctic-glacier-breaking-up/

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G7 Countries Reach Agreements On Goals, But Not Details

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Leaders of the world’s seven largest national economies made — sometimes halting and vague — commitments to address climate change at their summit in Cornwall, England, over the weekend. Amid a “festival” of protests on both land and sea, the G7 countries agreed to end international funding for coal projects without carbon capture by the end of next year and to achieve an “overwhelmingly decarbonized” electricity sector by the end of the decade. But they also failed to agree on a date by which they would stop burning coal. While Germany and Canada pledged new money for developing countries to fight climate change, critics pointed out big countries are still well short of hitting an overdue target of providing $100 billion by 2020.

On the final day of the summit, G7 leaders launched the Build Back Better for the World initiative to counter China’s Belt and Road, but they did not agree on what the “B3W” initiative would entail, nor on how it should be funded. They also pledged to speed the transition to electric vehicles but backed off from plans to set firm target dates.

Sources: Climate & coal: (New York Times $, PoliticoMother JonesPolitico EUAPWashington Post $, Politico EU; Transition funding: ReutersThe Guardian; B3W: (FT $, Politico Pro $; Cars: Bloomberg $, Axios; Protests New York Times $, The GuardianPoliticoNew York Times $; G7 overview: Reuters, factboxNPRNew York Times $

Originally published by Nexus Media.

Post Script: Greta Thunberg weighs in ..


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/14/g7-countries-reach-agreements-on-goals-but-not-details/

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NSW Sees Diminishing Role For Coal As Canada Plans To Phase Out Thermal Coal By 2030

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5 years ago, the New South Wales treasury released an intergenerational report that projected the demand for coal would increase at about 1.6% a year pretty much forever. This year, the Treasury’s intergenerational report is completely different.

In a technical paper prepared for this year’s report, the NSW treasury says “global demand for coal is expected to weaken considerably. Declining global demand for coal will reduce New South Wales’ economic growth over the projection period and will have impacts both on employment and the fiscal outlook.”

“This does not necessarily mean that no coal will be used in the future — new coal generators continue to be built and net zero policies allow for offsets. Nonetheless, future coal production is now expected to be considerably weaker than was forecast for the 2016 intergenerational report”, the NSW treasury says.

drying up rapidly. Demand in those countries is down 80% since 2015. “We believe this is set to accelerate as the capital subsidies from export credit agency underwritings of new coal proposals have now largely been withdrawn,” the IEEFA says.

It adds the accelerating pace of the energy technology transition calls into question  the wisdom of adding more coal supply by opening new mines or extending existing ones because new mining capacity steals market share from existing operations, which puts existing mining jobs at risk.

The price of Australian coal is up, but even that may not be good news. High coal prices will kill long term demand because they will make electricity from coal-fired generating stations more expensive compared to renewable energy, which is getting cheaper all the time.

Canada To End Thermal Coal By 2030

The government of Canada has reiterated its pledge to end the mining and use of thermal coal by 2030, a policy first announced in 2018. Environment minister Jonathan Wilkinson said last week that Canada will not approve new thermal coal mining projects or plans to expand existing mines because of the potential for environmental damage, according to a report by Reuters.

“The government considers that these projects are likely to cause unacceptable environmental effects within federal jurisdiction and are not aligned with Canada’s domestic and international climate change commitments,” Wilkinson said. “The continued mining and use of thermal coal for energy production in the world runs counter to what is needed to effectively combat climate change.”

The new policy will apply to the plans by Coalspur, a privately owned coal mining company, to expand an existing thermal coal mine in the western province of Alberta, a province that has staked its entire financial future on destroying the planet with emission from its tar sands oil, the dirtiest oil found anywhere on Earth.

In a press release, the Canadian government said, “The evidence is clear: the continued mining and use of thermal coal for energy production in the world runs counter to what is needed to effectively combat climate change and seize the economic opportunities that it presents. It is in this context that the Government has announced this policy today and will continue to work with Canadians to deliver strong climate action.”

“New thermal coal mining projects or expansions are not in line with the ambition Canadians want to see on climate, or with Canada’s domestic and international climate commitments. Eliminating coal-fired power and replacing it with cleaner sources is an essential part of the transition to a low carbon economy, and as a result, building new thermal coal mines for energy production is not sustainable,” Wilkinson added.

G7 Backs Away From Coal Statement

Meanwhile, at this year’s G7 economic summit in  Brussels, the United States backed down from a pledge to push the world’s nations to end the use of thermal coal within the next decade, a commitment many nations were prepared to make before the conference began.

The softening of the US stance appears to be an attempt to appease Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a state where coal had played a dominant role in politics for generations. Manchin is one of those “all of the above” people who sees a role for all fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, the climate crisis be damned.

“It’s very disappointing,” Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, told the New York Times. “This was a moment when the G7 could have shown historic leadership, and instead they left a massive void.” The final conmuniqué from Brussels only mentioned a call to “rapidly scale up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away” from coal without the resort to carbon capture technology, which has failed to perform adequately at any coal fired generating station anywhere in the world as of yet.

“The G7 announcement on climate finance is really peanuts in the face of an existential catastrophe,” said Malik Amin Aslam, Pakistan’s climate minister. He called it a “huge disappointment” for his country and others that have been burdened with the cost of coping with extreme weather, displacement and other impacts of global warming attributable to economic policies of the world’s industrialized nations. “At the least, countries responsible for this inescapable crisis need to live up to their stated commitments, otherwise the climate negotiations could well end in futility,” he warned.

The Takeaway

Talk about the tail wagging the dog. One US senator has used his influence to favor his campaign contributors among the fossil fuel industry and the whole world has to suffer as a result. It may be that the world somehow avoids making the Earth uninhabitable for humans but the foot dragging and platitudes from fossil fuel apologists are making that outcome less and less likely.

The only saving grace is that renewables become so cheap they drive all other sources of energy out of the marketplace. The question is whether that will happen in time to avert disaster. Will humanity save itself from its own destructive tendencies? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/14/nsw-sees-diminishing-role-for-coal-as-canada-plans-to-phase-out-thermal-coal-by-2030/

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Radio Flyer Is Growing Up With Its First Line Of Products Aimed At Adults

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The Radio Flyer Little Red Wagon was a huge part of millions of American childhoods over the last 104 years, and it continues to be, today. That doesn’t mean the company is a one-trick pony, though — in recent years, folding cargo haulers, strollers, trikes, and kid-friendly kick-scooters have become a growing part of the company’s product line. Now, as the Gen Z kids who grew up riding Little Red Trikes enter adulthood, Chicago-based Radio Flyer is taking the next logical step with a line of e-bikes and electrified kick scooters aimed specifically at adult riders.

“We’ve inspired creative play for generations of families, so launching a line that offers adults a fun way to explore their world is a natural fit,” said Robert Pasin, Chief Wagon Officer at Radio Flyer. “This is a huge milestone for us, and truly demonstrates our determination to never stop innovating, even at a legacy brand like Radio Flyer.”

Radio Flyer e-Bikes

Radio Flyer e-Bikes

Image courtesy Radio Flyer.

The new, fat-tired Radio Flyer e-bikes are available in two lengths — a standard “mid-frame” length, and a long-tail “cargo length” that’s suitable for carrying a pair of child seats. The bikes launch with a series of “thoughtfully designed accessories” ranging from child carriers to storage solutions.

Radio Flyer’s e-bikes feature a 500-watt rear hub motor and Flight Speed™ Lithium-Ion Battery with five levels of pedal assist, as well as a “throttle-only” (read: no-pedal) option. Not bad for a bike with a relatively low $1699 starting price tag!

Radio Flyer e-Scooters

Radio Flyer e-Scooters

Image courtesy Radio Flyer.

The electric kick-scooters, or e-scooters, from Radio Flyer offer a similar sort of value. The scooters start at “just” $599, and have a “slim” design available in 3 colors — one of which is the classic Little Red, which is the one you want (obviously). The scooters’ batteries are good for over 15 miles per charge and a top speed of 16 MPH.

So, they’ve got an iconic name, a loyal fanbase, and a strong feature-per-dollar value proposition. What else could Radio Flyer possibly throw at this launch? How about a little Chicago star power? Radio Flyer teamed up with actress, producer, and mom, Tia Mowry. Mowry, best known for her role in Sister Sister, is active, playful, and a genuine fan of the brand. “There are very few products from my own childhood that my kids still enjoy today,” said Mowry, a mom of two. “Flyer is the perfect alternative to piling my family into the car, and I can’t wait to expand our own fleet of Radio Flyer products with new e-bikes.”

Tia Mowry on the Radio Flyer e-Bike

Photo courtesy Radio Flyer.

What do you guys think? Is this a great step forward for Radio Flyer, or should it be building electrified wheelbarrows or something to stay closer to the whole “wagon” thing? And, more importantly, are you a soulless, joyless monster if you don’t buy one of these in red?  Scroll on down to the comments section and let us know!

Source | Images: Radio Flyer.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/14/radio-flyer-is-growing-up-with-its-first-line-of-products-aimed-at-adults/

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