Climate change influencing on twitter

According to K CORE analytics, I am @annemariayritys the top #18 climate change influencer on Twitter, after UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres and UN FCCC on the top of the list of climate change influencers. You can follow me on Twitter @annemariayritys and @GCCthinkacttank

Thank you to @HansLak #Mission2030 and K CORE Analytics for the mention.

Keep up the important work!

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Photo credit: Paul VanDerWerf

What is The Worldwide Geothermal Energy Potential?

Geothermal energy is heat generated and stored in the Earth. It is a fossil-free, environmentally friendly, renewable energy source that is as of today yet a rather untapped potential. The U.S. Department of Energy and the United States Geological Survey USGS estimate that if developed and utilized to its full potential, geothermal energy in the United States alone could provide the whole country with 10% of its required power. According to IRENA, some of the many benefits of geothermal energy also include the facts that geothermal energy can be found all around the world, and that it is available around the year, with less variations than for instance the generation of solar and wind energy. 

Not only is geothermal energy very low in greenhouse gas emissions, making it a valuable source of renewable energy, but with advanced technologies this yet rather untapped source of energy can also contribute to efficient wastewater treatment and management. According to IHA (2018), geothermal energy production has the third lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions after wind onshore and hydropower, with only 38 gCO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour. As a comparison, coal has 820 gCO2 equivalent/kWh. Thus, the development of geothermal energy sector can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

BP Global states that as a mature and well-established source of renewable energy, the overall potential of geothermal power in terms of electricity generation is higher than that of wind and solar energy. Despite its currently tiny share (one percent) of the total global energy mix, the role of geothermal energy is significant in a number of countries. Its power generation grew by 3.6% in 2016, and according to Renewable Energy World, geothermal energy is trending upwards. Orkustofnun, the National Energy Authority of Iceland, states that Iceland is a pioneer when it comes to the use of geothermal energy. Geothermal sources provide Iceland with 66% of the country’s primary energy usage. 

Moreover, for instance in Chile, financial institutions are investing in geothermal energy in order to support the country in reducing its emissions with a target to meet the demands of the Paris Agreement, but also to expand the country ́s energy portfolio. Between 2005 and 2015, the annual growth of geothermal power capacity worldwide averaged at 3.3%. Leading countries in terms of geothermal power capacity in 2016 were the United States, followed by the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, Italy, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, Iceland, and Japan. (BP 2017; Renewable Energy World 2017).

In its publication “World Energy Resources – Geothermal 2016”, the World Energy Council reveals that El Salvador plans for four tenths of the country’s energy coming from geothermal by 2020. India, on the other hand, has an ambitious goal for geothermal development by 2030. Outright, the total worldwide capacity of geothermal power is forecast to double. The World Energy Council sees that geothermal power development has been slowed down by conservative legislation and a lack of government incentives which, however, could see changes now that countries work towards decarbonizing the energy sector in order to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, but also as an effort to diversify energy production and move towards clean(er) sources of power generation. Worthwhile to note, geothermal energy production releases very small amounts of greenhouse gases, and has few impacts upon the environment, allowing for renewable energy agencies to classify it as a renewable energy source. 

Furthermore, the World Energy Council estimates that in order to survive in the 21st century, the geothermal energy sector is obliged to innovate. Despite its many advantages and many countries worldwide having access to geothermal power production, geothermal power production has historically primarily been used by countries that have lacked fossil fuel resources but have a high amount of geothermal energy resources, but also as a means to secure national energy resources as a part of a country’s energy infrastructure, and/or to diversify a country’s energy portfolio. While forecast that developing countries such as Kenya and Indonesia will tap into their abundant geothermal heat resources, advanced clean technologies and growing electrification of markets for instance in Europe will allow the geothermal energy sector to grow its capacity on developed markets as well. 

Geothermal power resources worldwide are estimated to contain 50.000 times more energy than all available oil and gas resources combined, speaking for the immense potential within the geothermal energy sector. The geothermal energy sector could theoretically provide all the energy needed worldwide. In addition to being an environmentally friendly, renewable source of energy worldwide, unlike fossil-fuels such as coal, gas, and oil, advanced geothermal technologies are becoming cost-efficient. Geothermal energy is nor dependent on weather conditions or low in capacity – on the contrary. As of today, depending upon country and region, both access to funding and legislation are potential obstacles in terms of the geothermal energy sector to reach its full potential. (IRENA 2017).

Learn more about the commercial production of geothermal energy by watching U.S. Department of Energy ́s video “Energy 101: Geothermal Energy”:

You may also want to read one of my previous articles: Why Is The Worldwide Marine Energy Market In Its Infancy?  

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe toYritys Executive Services to receive my latest articles delivered personally to you.

Why Is The Worldwide Marine Energy Market In Its Infancy?

Our world’s oceans, covering more than 70% of the Earth’s total surface, are an immense source of energy. Despite the fact that the marine ecosystem and environment today are hardly utilized for energy creation, Mørk et al. (2010) evaluated in their study for the IPCC that our oceans and waves alone could theoretically provide double the amount of worldwide electricity supply. Nonetheless, marine hydrokinetic energy (MHK), also called ocean/tidal energy/power, in 2016 provided only about 536 MW of operating energy capacity worldwide. (EMEC Orkney 2017; REN21 2017; World Energy Council 2016).

In its infancy in terms of commercial energy production, marine energy resources are infinite, yet costs are still high and the financial environment and investments into marine energy have been challenging. Nevertheless, significant amounts of research and development projects are now taking place in many countries, with fresh implementations of marine energy devices recently. Majority of these R&D projects target tidal streams and waves, and a smaller proportion on thermal and salinity gradients. According to REN21, Canada, Chile, the Republic of Korea, the United States and a number of countries in Europe now lead projects related to marine energy. 

Along with other renewable energy sources, marine energy could contribute to the diversification of the global energy mix while supporting countries in climate change mitigation and being one option for meeting the world ́s continuously growing energy demand. Moreover, marine energy could have socio-economic benefits in terms of new job creation. The World Energy Council forecasts that if the energy production within the marine energy sector grows to 748 GW by 2050, this would create around 160.000 new jobs by 2030.

The European Commission ́s Maritime Forum, the Ocean Energy Forum, states that ocean energy is the next generation of renewables with the capability of creating a completely new industrial manufacturing sector and a notable export market. The Ocean Energy Forum also forecasts that by 2050, ocean energy could meet 10% of Europe’s electricity demand with a deployment of 100 GW ocean energy on the continent. Government incentives and policies have a significant role in supporting ocean energy projects. Public opinion in Europe has been in favor of ocean energy research and development, and implementation. 

An important socio-economic consideration with ocean energy, similar to wind energy, is energy security since variability is high on an annual and seasonal level, or in some cases, even on an hourly level. Forecasting is currently possible to about one week ahead. According to The World Energy Council, under certain circumstances, ocean energy grids could face enormous pressure and coincide with alternative renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, with a possibility of leading to electricity blackouts if not resolved through energy storage systems. 

Moreover, possible environmental impacts of ocean energy include marine species colliding/interacting with ocean energy devices such as turbines and OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion). Furthermore, taking into consideration that underwater species communicate through sound, noise disturbance from ocean energy devices could have an impact on the behavior of marine species. Another potential risk on the marine environment could be the impact of ocean energy devices on the natural movement of water. Feasible advantages from ocean energy devices could include improved ecological and environmental water quality, reduced air and water pollution, or even attracting marine species as a safe haven and an artificial habitat. 

According to IRENA, cyclical constellations and natural phenomena allow for a high proportion of predictability for tidal range technologies, since marine energy production does not rely upon weather conditions. Despite current challenges, such as high upfront costs and possible impacts upon the environment, many countries worldwide are currently developing technologies aiming at commercializing tidal energy prototypes and sites. One of the benefits of tidal energy is its minimal impact on landscapes, as opposed to for instance wind turbines that despite their low greenhouse gas emission impact on the environment seem to create some opposition amongst population when it comes to their visual impact. A real breakthrough in marine or tidal energy commercialization is currently still facing many challenges, including the fact that costs would have to come down quite significantly in order to make this kind of energy production competitive in comparison with other (renewable) energy sources. Taking into consideration the rapid development within for instance the solar PV energy sector within less than two decades, it is not impossible at all that the marine energy market may experience a breakthrough in the upcoming decade(s). What do you think?  

Learn more by watching U.S. Department of Energy ́s video “Energy 101: Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy”:

Access one of my previous articles here: What is The Current State of The Worldwide Solar Energy Market?

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Yritys Executive Services to receive my latest articles delivered personally to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Idaho National Laboratory

What is The Current State of The Worldwide Solar Energy Market?

Have you ever considered why, in 2019, around 13% of the world population lacks access to electricity? With today’s global population of approximately 7,6 billion this signifies that almost one billion human beings currently live without access to electricity. Majority of these people live in Sub-Saharan Africa, and several hundred million people for instance in India still lack access to electricity. This in a world that could theoretically be completely powered through renewable sources of energy, such as solar power. Regardless of the high amount of world population that currently lacks access to electricity, significant progress has been made within the past few years alone. 

Perhaps it is not only a coincidence that population with no access to electricity live in warm, tropical climates. In colder climates, life and survival without access to energy, electricity, heat and power would make life much more challenging. However, if we go back in recent history, it has not been very long that our own ancestors and relatives lived without electricity and heating, even in cold climates. For instance my father, who was born in 1946, spent his childhood living in a home in Finnish Lapland (north of the Arctic Circle) without electricity. Less than a century ago – to be precise, soon 74 years. Since I am writing this article near father ́s day, which is always being celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in November in Finland, I would like to take the opportunity to wish my father and all other fathers a happy father’s day! 

Today, it is hard to imagine a life in Finland without electricity and heating. Perhaps the harsh life conditions have shaped our ancestors and older generations and given them the resilience that many people seem to lack today. Many people today are really spoiled. The thought about survival without electricity and heating in an Arctic country like Finland appears quite distant, or even impossible. Post World War II, Finland was a poor country, recovering and building a modern welfare society which today is one of the leading countries worldwide in terms of democracy, education, healthcare, equality, human rights, and freedom of speech – a welfare nation. Modernization of a society, including providing people access to electricity is a transformation that can take place rapidly, especially with renewable options such as solar energy that has become the cheapest source of energy in many countries. 

Of all energy sources, solar PV has the fourth lowest amount of greenhouse gas emissions according to the IPCC and IHA: 48 gCO2 equivalent per kWh. That is more than 10 times less than the equivalent from natural gas, and more than 17 times less than the equivalent from coal as a source of energy. According to the World Energy Council, government policies (and legislation) have had an impact on the world ́s most mature solar energy markets Australia, Europe, and the United States. However, costs for solar power are falling rapidly. The REN21 forecasts in its Renewables Global Futures Report that by 2050, the whole world could be 100% powered through renewable sources of energy, including solar power. Global installed capacity for solar-powered electricity has grown rapidly from basically zero GW in 2005 to more than 480 GW of installed capacity today, with a market increase of almost 50% in 2016 alone. Currently, solar PV provides the Earth with around four per cent (4%) of total electricity, with a capacity of more than 480 GW by the end of 2018 (one gigawatt equals one billion (1,000,000,000,000) watts). 

With most renewable energy being installed in developing countries, primarily in China, the whole renewable energy sector today employs at least 9.8 million people. The vast majority, 62%, of these jobs are in the biofuels and solar sectors, and mainly in Asia. In 2018, all renewable energy sources combined provided an estimated 29% of total global electricity. According to the IEA and IRENA, by 2023 renewables combined (renewables refer to hydropower, solar, wind, biomass, marine and geothermal energy, EXCLUDING nuclear energy!), are expected to supply 12.4% of overall worldwide energy demand. 

The leading countries in terms of total solar PV capacity in 2016 were China, Japan, Germany, United States, and Italy. Policy makers in almost all countries worldwide now support renewable energy development, with COP22 leaders from 48 developing countries dedicated to achieving 100% renewable energy in their nations. In terms of solar PV capacity additions in 2016, China led the world market with a 46% share, followed by the United States (20%), Japan (11.5%), India (5.5%), United Kingdom (2.7%), Germany (2.0%), Republic of Korea (1.1%), Australia (1.1%), Philippines (1.0%), Chile (1.0%), and the rest of the world combined (8%). Reasons for deployment of solar power in countries worldwide vary from lack of fossil fuel resources, energy policies targeting to diversify a country’s energy portfolio, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. (REN21 2017).

Although oil and gas prices have been in decline, investments from a number of stakeholders, including corporations and financial institutions along with fossil fuel producers and oil exporting countries within the renewable and solar power sector continue to grow. Solar power is even being utilized for oil production. According to the World Energy Council and the IEA, in 2015, total investment in the energy sector worldwide was USD 1.8 trillion, USD 161 billion of which was invested in solar power alone. 

Today, consumers in many countries have the opportunity to participate in their own solar energy production by buying or renting solar panels. Personally, I have rented a solar panel at the rooftop of the Helsinki Expo and Convention Center, with my name on it. The solar energy produced with this one solar panel will be reduced from my upcoming electricity invoices. As a matter of fact, my personal household energy consumption is now covered 100% through renewable sources: hydropower, solar energy, and wind energy. It is expected that a legislative renewal within the energy market sector in Finland will see renewable energy prices fall in the near future. Until then, I am even willing to pay a bit extra for my energy consumption, as long as it has a positive impact on the environment through causing less pollution. I can save the same amount of money through smarter consumption choices.   

Learn more about the topic by watching Bloomberg ́s video “The Way We Get Power Is About to Change Forever”:

What are your thoughts about the rapid developments within the local/worldwide energy market? How about solar energy? I would be pleased to read your comments/thoughts and learn about your experiences. 

You may want to read one of my previous articles: What Makes Wind Energy The Fastest Growing Renewable Source of Electricity Worldwide?

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Yritys Executive Services to receive my latest posts.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Paulo Valdivieso

What Makes Wind Energy The Fastest Growing Renewable Source of Electricity Worldwide?

Similar to hydropower, which is energy derived from water, wind energy has been utilized for thousands of years, merely with less advanced technologies than the modern inventions we have today. From the Nile River to China, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe, wind as a source of energy was seized until oil and energy prices dropped. It was not until the 1970’s oil crisis that alternative sources of energy, such as wind, started to awaken new interest worldwide. 

Today, according to Wind Energy Foundation, wind energy is the fastest growing source of electricity worldwide, and it is a fossil-free, renewable source of energy. According to the IPCC and IHA, onshore wind energy has the lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of all energy sources, with only 11 gCO2/kWh. To understand the difference, coal has 820 gCO2/kWh. In terms of climate change mitigation, it is essential to drastically reduce the amount of coal energy and seek less polluting alternatives, including wind energy. 

In 2018, 51.3 GW of new wind was installed worldwide, as stated in GWEC ́s Global Wind Report 2018. Since 2014, more than 50 GW of new wind energy has been installed per annum. Worldwide, current onshore wind power capacity with a total of 591 GW (one gigawatt equals one billion watts) covers seven per cent (7%) of total power generation capacity, while its actual total global power generation covered four per cent (4%) in 2015. The leading wind power producing country worldwide today is China with over 200 GW installed capacity, followed by the USA, Germany, India, and Brazil. The top five countries combined have a 75% share of the total worldwide wind energy market. Total installed capacity onshore by world region is largest in the Asia-Pacific, followed by Europe, the Americas, and Africa/The Middle East. Offshore capacity is currently highest in Europe. 

According to the World Energy Council, current policy plans could allow for wind power capacity to grow from roughly 487 GW in 2016 to 977 GW by 2030. In China alone, wind power could provide 26% of all electricity by 2030. With the vast majority of wind power turbines onshore, worldwide investments in the sector are booming and hit USD 109.6 billion already in 2015. In many countries today, onshore wind is the most inexpensive source of renewable energy, with costs falling rapidly and significantly. 

With a fast and credible growth track record, the wind power industry is regarded as a low-risk investment, with financial institutions increasingly much competing about the funding of wind projects. Possible risks to wind project investments include policy uncertainty and long operational lifetimes. In terms of rapidly growing power demand and distribution challenges, wind is a cost-effective option according to GWEC. The market outlook up to 2023 projects an average annual increase of 2,7 per cent in the wind energy market.  

Both IRENA, GWEC, and the World Energy Council admit that there are multiple benefits from a growing renewable energy, including wind power, sector. Not only do renewable energy sources support socio-economic growth through the generation of new jobs that accelerates economic growth, but also supports the decarbonization of the global energy sector, thus leading to less pollution and improved environmental and human well-being. Investments and growth in the renewable energy sector overall are estimated to create millions of new jobs worldwide. 

As defined by the World Energy Council and the Global Wind Energy Council, wind power is leading the energy market in its transition away from fossil fuels on both performance, reliability and costs. Despite some of its harms on the environment and ecological impacts, such as wildlife colliding with wind turbines and possible public health concerns through noise and visual impacts on people, wind power is known to be an environmentally friendly source of renewable energy, with a small land footprint, low water requirements and low greenhouse gas emissions. Denmark remains the world’s leading country in terms of integration, production, and R&D of wind energy. In 2018 alone, Danish wind turbines generated 40.7% of the Danish electricity consumption. Quite impressive, or what do you think? 

Your comments/thoughts are welcome! 

Learn more by watching U.S. Department of Energy ́s video “Energy 101: Wind Turbines”:

You may also want to read one of my previous articles: What is the Outlook for the Global Hydropower Sector?  

 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Yritys Executive Services to receive my latest articles, delivered personally to you.

 

 

 

Hydropower by Josh Simmons on Flickr

What is The Outlook For The Global Hydropower Sector?

Hydropower, the currently largest single source of renewable energy worldwide, was first commercialized for the production of electricity in Niagara Falls in 1879, although human beings have been utilizing more primitive versions of hydropower for centuries or even thousands of years. The earliest hydropower usage can be traced back to the ancient Greeks who used simple water wheels in agricultural processes. Today, 15,9% of all renewable electricity is generated through hydropower production, (IHA 2019). 

For instance in Finland, the role of hydropower is still today quite remarkable in terms of electricity production. According to Finnish Energy, at its peak in the 1960 ́s, hydropower accounted for 90% of all electricity generation in the country. Today, hydropower contributes to four per cent (4%) of Finland ́s total energy mix, and annually between 10-15% of all electricity production, down from its impressive numbers in the middle of the 20th century. (Finnish Energy 2019).

Despite being a renewable source of energy, energy authorities and companies admit to the environmental problems caused by dams and hydropower plants. Not only do dams and hydropower plants change natural water systems, but also prevent (fish) species in these water bodies from wandering. The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, FANC, supports consumers and the industry in improving the sustainability of energy and electricity consumption. It has launched the EKOenergy label, which has now become the international ecolabel for energy. (Fortum 2019; FANC 2019).

What comes to the benefits of hydropower, the IHA identifies the following key components: hydropower is an affordable and reliable source of energy which enables and supports other renewables, it offers protection from floods and drought, provides responsible management of freshwater, is socioeconomically important, helps avoid emissions and pollutants, improves infrastructure and waterways, increases cooperation between countries, leads to community investments in rural areas, and enhances both recreational activities and tourism. Of all energy sources, hydropower has the second lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions per kilowatt hour. 

In terms of hydropower costs, the International Renewable Energy Agency states that on average, electricity generated through the use of hydropower is inexpensive, with significant technical potential remaining untapped as of today. One of the obstacles in terms of fully utilizing the potential of hydropower worldwide, according to IRENA, is the absence of data in terms of these technologies. Despite currently being the most widely used renewable source of energy worldwide with a total market share of almost 16% in the global energy mix, IRENA estimates that the usage of hydropower is far from having reached its full potential on a global scale, although for instance Norway gets more than 99% of its electricity from hydropower. 

The World Energy Council reveals that Asia as a continent has the most significant untapped potential in terms of hydropower, while currently much of the new development is focused in China (26% of the worldwide installed capacity in 2015), Latin America and the African continent. According to the World Energy Council, the average annual growth rate of hydropower worldwide between 2005 and 2015 was almost four per cent (4%). With the share of other renewable energy sources increasing, hydropower now accounts for 71% of all renewable electricity worldwide, a share that has fallen by at least 10% within a few years time only. The countries with the fastest growing new installed hydropower capacity worldwide are currently China, Brazil, Pakistan, Turkey and Angola. One major benefit of hydropower is its flexibility and the capacity to store energy even up to several months. 

In the 2019 Hydropower Status Report the International Hydropower Association insists that hydropower, when correctly and sustainably managed, provides a number of benefits in a world faced with complex problems such as expeditious population growth in addition to energy and water challenges. The IHA identifies following developments and key trends in the worldwide hydropower sector:

  1. Risk management initiatives established in terms of hydropower
  2. Co-operative projects within the renewable sector to secure grid stability
  3. Pump storage serves global requirements for energy storage
  4. Hydropower interconnected to global markets
  5. Modernisation of available assets within the hydropower sector
  6. Advanced reporting mechanisms are now at hand
  7. Sustainability performance reporting (The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol) is being implemented worldwide
  8. Climate resilience acknowledged and emphasized by financing institutions

Furthermore, the IHA recognizes climate change mitigation, including the Paris Agreement and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, being at the center for strategic sustainable development. In terms of environmental protection, both the World Energy Council and the International Hydropower Association acknowledge the availability and deployment of modern technologies that have been designed to minimize the potential harms caused to both water sources and its inhabitants through the hydropower sector. For instance in Uruguay alone, almost 100% of the country’s electricity is produced from hydropower and other renewable resources of energy.

What are your thoughts and/or experiences about hydropower? You are more than welcome to share your thoughts by commenting on this article. You may also want to read one of my previous articles: How Safe is The Production of Nuclear Energy?

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environmental posts alone @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to my newsletter at Yritys Executive Services to receive my latest articles/news delivered personally to you. 

 

How Safe is The Production of Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear energy is being classified as a renewable energy source which is regarded as an option to replace fossil fuels: coal, gas, and oil. According to the World Nuclear Association there are currently 450 nuclear power reactors commercially operating in 31 countries worldwide, providing an estimated 10% of our world ́s electricity. Despite being classified as a fossil-free source of energy, the World Nuclear Association states that there is a need to replace some of the oldest nuclear reactors worldwide, especially those that are coal-fired and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions by releasing carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere. (World Nuclear Association 2017).

In IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2017, the International Energy Agency has a Sustainable Development Scenario for 2040 with forecasts where power generation has not been decarbonized despite the increase of low-carbon sources accounting for 40% of the total energy mix in 2040, and the worldwide usage of nuclear energy growing to 15% of the worldwide energy market. (International Energy Agency 2017). OPEC, in its World Oil Outlook 2040, estimates an annual growth rate of 2.3% for nuclear energy between 2015-2040. For more detailed information, see the table “World primary energy demand by fuel type” below.

World Primary Energy Demand by Fuel Type growth p.a. 2015-2040

With currently 12 countries getting around 25% of their electricity from nuclear power, France leads the statistics with 75% of its electricity coming from nuclear power. Beyond nuclear-friendly France, these countries are Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine (more than 50% nuclear energy), Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland (⅓ or more from nuclear power), Romania, Russia, Spain, UK, USA (around 20% from nuclear power), and Japan with around 25% of its electricity currently from nuclear power. Even some countries with no nuclear power plants, for instance Denmark and Italy, today depend to some extent upon nuclear energy. (World Nuclear Association 2019).

While the IEA forecasts that the share of nuclear energy on the worldwide market will grow to 15% of the total energy mix by 2040, OPEC estimates that nuclear energy will account for 6.4% of total world primary energy demand in 2040.  See table “World Primary Energy Demand by Fuel Type” below.

World Primary Energy Demand by Fuel Type OPEC

The International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA, an autonomous organization under the UN established in 1957, works towards the strengthening of nuclear security worldwide, including the prevention of nuclear weapons and supporting countries in maintaining a peaceful, safe and secure usage of nuclear technology and science. Director General of IAEA, Yukiya Amano, states that nuclear energy, as one of the lowest-carbon technologies, helps countries in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. While at first requiring large capital investments, nuclear power plants are known to be cost efficient. Moreover, as expressed by the IAEA, the new generation of nuclear reactors are constructed with improved performance, reliability and safety.

Learn more by watching WhatTheWhy ́s video “Nuclear Energy Explained: Risk or Opportunity”:

Nuclear Energy Explained: Risk or Opportunity?

How safe are nuclear power plants and nuclear power? Despite being classified as a renewable source of energy, nuclear power plants and nuclear waste pose a number of risks both to human beings, animals and our environment. In the case of an emergency and a nuclear plant accident (see for instance Tchernobyl or Fukushima), nuclear reactors can cause chemical explosions and release dangerous radioactive material. Even when normally functioning, nuclear power plants cause radioactive waste that has to be gotten rid of in some way. The solution for this has traditionally been to bury nuclear waste in deep geological repositories. (Harvard University 2016. Reconsidering the Risks of Nuclear Power). 

While some countries (Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, and Switzerland) have completely abandoned or are about to completely abandon nuclear power plants and the usage of nuclear power, other countries continue to rely quite heavily on nuclear energy. 

What are your thoughts about nuclear energy, the risks and safety of nuclear power (plants)? 

You may also be interested in reading one of my previous articles: What Is  The Future of The Worldwide Natural Gas Market?

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Anne-Maria Yritys to receive my latest articles delivered personally to you.

 

 

 

GCC Think Act Tank cover 2019

What Is The Future of The Worldwide Natural Gas Market?

The natural gas industry, together with the oil industry, together account for an estimated 24% of all anthropogenic methane emissions. According to for instance the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas is a fossil energy source consisting mainly of methane, which is a chemical compound with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. The chemical formula for methane is CH4. 

The United States of America currently leads the production of natural gas hydrocarbons, followed by Russia, Iran, Qatar, Canada, China, The European Union, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan. In World Oil Outlook 2040, OPEC estimates that the largest upcoming energy demand will come from natural gas, with an average annual growth of 0.4 % from 2015 to 2040. (Global Methane Initiative 2018; Central Intelligence Agency 2017; U.S. Energy Information Administration 2017; OPEC 2017).

In OPEC ́s forecast for the world primary energy demand by fuel type from 2015 to 2040, the demand for gas will increase by a rate of 1.8% p.a., with the majority of the increase coming from non-OECD countries and the most rapid economic growth in the developing world. OPEC projects the global economy in 2040 being 226% in comparison to 2016, with 3/4 of growth coming from developing countries. China and India alone are projected to account for almost 40% of the global GDP in 2040. (OPEC 2017. World Oil Outlook 2040).

The OPEC acknowledges the relation between population growth and energy demand, however, considering a number of variables for instance in consumer trends. It also states how energy markets are affected by government policies and recognizes the need to monitor these on a regular basis, taking into consideration for instance the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, with energy efficiency and clean energy now trending development. The OPEC is closely monitoring worldwide energy market and policy developments, mentioning the USA, the European Union, China, and India at the forefront.

Furthermore, OPEC estimates that total world primary energy demand by fuel type from 2015 to 2040 will see an increase of 3.6% for gas, 1,5% for nuclear energy, 0.3% for hydro energy, and 4% for other renewables, while the demand for oil would decrease by 4.2%, coal demand decreasing by 5.1%, and biomass demand decreasing by 0.1% during the time frame. The OPEC identifies energy efficiency as a critical uncertainty for the energy market with policies concentrating on reducing emissions through a number of measures related to financial and fiscal instruments. (OPEC 2017. World Oil Outlook 2040).

Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020
Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020

The U.S. Energy Information Administration presents natural gas as a proportionately clean burning fossil fuel, although exploration, drilling and production have direct impacts on the environment, in addition to the fact that natural gas consists mainly of methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas. Leaks from natural gas-related activities such as pipelines are causing toxic anthropogenic methane emissions. Despite the many environmental and health risks related to fossil fuels such as natural gas, the global energy market will continue to depend on these. 

The OPEC projects that oil and gas combined will supply for more than 50% of global energy needs between 2015-2040. Gas alone is estimated to have a share of 29% in OECD, 20.8% in developing countries, and 45.4% in Eurasia in 2040. In China, gas is forecast to account for 10.6% of energy demand in 2040, while coal is expected to drop down to 48.6% from 64.3% in 2015. 

The OPEC estimates that the highest growth in gas demand in the OECD region will be in OECD America, recognizing key influences related to the overall demand of natural gas and its dependency on multiple critical factors including gas supplies, competition,  regulations, and pricing.

For instance in Finland, the national Energy Authority reports that “The Finnish natural gas market has been under sector-specific regulatory supervision since the assertion of the Natural Gas Market Act in August 2000”. The natural gas market in Finland has currently no competition, with 100% of the natural gas is being imported through one pipeline from Russia and traded on the Finnish market by one single company. In Finland, the demand for natural gas has been in decline for several reasons, with natural gas accounting for six (6%) of total generation fuel mix in 2018, with the baseline for energy demand being market-based. 

In its World Gas Perspectives report (2017), the World Energy Council identifies four key findings concerning the development of the world gas market: 1) gas is expected to be the only source of fossil fuel with a growing share of the world energy market until 2050, although the long-term future for gas is insecure; 2) the global gas market will shift to Asia, with demand in Europe and North America stagnating or even decreasing; 3) by 2060, worldwide electricity demand will double, posing a possibility for the natural gas market to further grow, unless governments and regulators decide differently; 4) the natural gas sector must innovate and become a cleaner source of energy – policies and societal change will have an impact on the future of the worldwide gas market. Despite having lower emissions than both coal and oil, gas is a fossil fuel which emits greenhouse gases. 

Read one of my previous articles here: Why  Is Our World In A Freshwater Crisis?

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Anne-Maria Yritys to receive my latest articles delivered personally to you.

 

 

 

Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020

Why Is Our World In A Freshwater Crisis?

Without water, there would be no life on our planet. A human being can survive without food or nutrition for months, but without clean, fresh water for only a couple of days. Lack of clean, fresh water is a worldwide disaster that already affects billions of people. Wastewater, on a global level, accounts for seven percent (7%) of all anthropogenic methane emissions. Not only is wastewater emitting large amounts of methane, but does contain many kinds of contaminants, bacteria and chemicals such as phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients, harmful for both our environment and for human beings. (Global Methane Initiative 2019; HSY 2019).

The European Union ́s water frame directive defines the minimum level of wastewater treatment in the European Union member states, including Finland. Finland, however, has its own stricter wastewater treatment regulation based upon Finnish legislation. In fact, Finland as a country ranks as having some of the cleanest waters worldwide: tap water is clean and safe to drink, since wastewater treatment uses advanced technologies allowing for wastewater treatment plants in Finland to process wastewater removing up to 95% of chemicals throughout the treatment process. For instance in Finland, dirt is being transformed into biogas and soil. (Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant 2019).

Why then, does wastewater treatment matter? Why is it important to purify both household and industrial water? If wastewater is not being treated, i.e. purified, it causes horrible odors. However, this is probably the smallest of all problems involved with dirty water, which unless treated, contains bacteria, chemicals and (other) toxins harmful both to our environment and to human health. Despite having some of the cleanest water and best water treatment facilities worldwide, Finland also experienced a water contamination crisis in Nokia in 2007. Through a single human mistake, hundreds of thousands of liters of wastewater at Nokia´s water treatment plant ended up mixed with purified water. Since the mistake was not immediately noticed, and communication failed, thousands of Nokia inhabitants ended up drinking the contaminated water and got sick – some for months, others still today have to deal with health problems that can be traced back to them having drunk contaminated water. The Nokia case led to improvements not only in crisis communication throughout Finland ́s municipalities, but also to all wastewater treatment plants in Finland being checked for any possible leakages and other risks. A decade after the Nokia contaminated water crisis the case was brought up again by media in Finland and acts as a reference case. 

Wastewater treatment is important both for the environment and for human health. The FAO states that wastewater treatment is necessary in order to avoid both environmental and health risks, and identifies the need for some degree of wastewater treatment before considering the usage of raw municipal wastewater to aquaculture, agriculture or landscape irrigation. In other words, dirty water should not be used directly anywhere. (FAO Corporate Document Repository – 3. Wastewater treatment). The Global Methane Initiative states that anaerobic decomposition of organic material during the treatment of wastewater leads to methane emissions. Moreover, in countries with less advanced technologies for wastewater treatment, methane emissions from wastewater are higher. (Global Methane Initiative. Municipal Wastewater Methane: Reducing Emissions, Advancing Recovery and Use Opportunities).

The United Nations identifies that the majority of human activity involving water also produces wastewater, followed by the fact that most wastewater worldwide is being released into our environment without any kind of treatment, with an exception to most highly developed countries. In its World Water Development Report 2017, the UN presents wastewater as an untapped resource, whereby wastewater treatment worldwide is necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In the World Water Development Report, the UN discusses the various aspects directly related to wastewater and its treatment, including general governance, technical aspects of wastewater, wastewater in municipalities and urban areas, wastewater from industry, agriculture and in various ecosystems, followed by wastewater by geographical region. As a conclusion, the UN suggests several response options in terms of wastewater management.

In a world with continuously growing demands for freshwater, it is simultaneously becoming an increasingly much scarce resource. Billions of people worldwide also lack access to clean water. Unless resolved, it is a vicious circle leading to both environmental and health problems. The UN sees the potential for both business and sustainable development through wastewater management/treatment. (The United Nations World Water Development Report 2017).

The OECD (2015), Environment at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264235199-en highlights countries that have managed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, improved waste and water management processes, and have a higher usage of renewable energy sources. In this report, the OECD states how significant freshwater resources are both on social and economic levels, and for the environment. It also identifies that overall water quality is impacted by water abstraction, anthropogenic pollution loads, climate, and weather.

With majority of wastewater worldwide neither being collected, nor treated, the vast majority of the world population is exposed to wastewater. Moreover, at least 2/3 of world population live in areas where they are faced with water scarcity for at least one month each year. When wastewater is being directly dumped into the environment without any treatment, this only worsens the water scarcity that already affects much of the world ‘s population. 

If and when we know how harmful it is to both animals, the environment, and human beings to use contaminated water, then why do we allow this to continue on a global scale? 

According to the Finnish Red Cross, every single hour 33 children worldwide die due to lack of fresh, clean water. That makes 792 dead children every day. 289.080 unnecessary deaths every year, only due to the lack of clean and fresh water. If we managed our freshwater resources better, this could all be avoided. For instance, the Red Cross distributes 500.000 litres of clean water  every day at the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria, a country that has suffered severely from a war that has been going on for more than eight (8) years by now. Some sources claim that the origin of the Syrian war can be traced back to climate change issues, and environmental problems. 

Freshwater is also a basic human right, which should not be privatized or seen as a luxury product available only for the privileged. Why then, is for instance India facing its worst freshwater crisis ever? Where people living in slums hardly get any clean water and if they do, it is a constant battle. In countries like Tadzhikistan, where people depend on freshwater from the mountain glaciers, the battle for access to clean water is equally hard. These people can spend the vast majority of their days just to find clean water since they lack the resources to build even the simplest engineered systems to bring them some of the clean freshwater melting from the glaciers. The 21st century will be significant in the history of homo sapiens in terms of (the lack of) clean freshwater. In the Middle East, an effort to tackle the lack of freshwater is to import an entire iceberg from Antarctica. Can we afford to experiment with the environment and nature this way? Time will tell, and until then let us find out intelligent ways to solve the freshwater crisis, starting with (improved) wastewater management practices. 

Please share your thoughts and ideas concerning this article. If you found this helpful and/or interesting, do also share it with your social media networks. Access one of my previous articles here: Why Are Landfills Significant Sources Of Global Methane Emissions?

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts delivered personally to you.

 

 

 

Estimated Global Methane Emissions 2020

Why Are Landfills Significant Sources of Global Methane Emissions?

Landfills around the world contribute to an estimated eleven percent (11%) of all global methane emissions, with methane being a climate amplifier and up to 25 times stronger than CO2 (carbon dioxide) as a greenhouse gas on a longer term. In the first decades of being emitted into Earth’s atmosphere, methane is more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, causing it to actually warm Earth’s climate more than carbon dioxide. 

The fact that landfills are such a large source of anthropogenic methane emissions on a global scale suggests that there is a need and potential to a) reduce the amount of overall waste b) improved waste management practices, including recycling and transforming waste into energy. Recycling and energy production from waste of course have to be in line with national policies, whereby communities and governments are responsible for creating and maintaining sustainable waste management policies and procedures, allowing for completely new kinds of businesses to emerge and to thrive in a world where waste can today be regarded as a currency.

While some countries have decided to completely ban plastic bags in order to reduce plastic waste and it ending up especially in our oceans, for instance in Finland plastic recycling was not set up until 2016. Today, around one fifth (20%) of all plastic waste in Finland is being recycled, with a target of increasing the amount of recycled plastic within the upcoming few years. 

I first ran into Plastic Bank on Twitter a few years ago. Plastic Bank is an organization dedicated to stopping ocean plastic ending up in our oceans by turning waste into currency, killing two birds with one stone by contributing both to ending poverty and preventing harmful plastic waste ending up in our oceans. 

Of course, plastic is not the only kind of waste on our planet, but it is one of the worst: it can take up to one thousand (1.000) years for plastic bottles to biodegrade, with the average time being 450 years. Think about that before throwing plastic garbage (or, any garbage at all) into the nature!

The average decomposition rates of debris/garbage varies largely: glass bottles thrown into water sources or nature in general is undefined, or can take up to one million (1.000.000) years to decompose, followed by fishing lines (600 years), plastic beverage bottles (450 years), disposable diapers (450 years), aluminium cans (up to 200 years), foamed plastic buoys (80 years), foamed plastic cups (50 years), rubber-boot soles (up to 80 years), tin cans (50 years), leather (50 years), nylon fabric (up to 40 years), plastic bags (up to 20 years), cigarette butts (up to five years), wool socks (up to five years), and plywood (up to three years). (NOAA Marine Debris Program 2019; U.S. National Park Service 2019). It is estimated that more than eight million tons of plastic end up in our oceans alone each year, and cleaning all the waste from our oceans is not as simple as from elsewhere in our environment. 

Nevertheless, The Ocean CleanUp is an ambitious project determined to clean up our world’s oceans from all the waste through advanced technologies. It will definitely be exciting to see how this demanding project turns out.

The World Bank estimates that urban solid waste will increase by 70% by 2025, from some 1.3 billion tonnes currently to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025, increasing the global costs of waste (management) significantly. This huge increase in overall waste worldwide does include a number of risks, both for health and the environment, but it also gives us the opportunity to create and develop improved waste management practices, recycling, and an effort to create better solutions for instance in terms of packaging materials and overall design.

The complete report published by The World Bank in March 2012, “What a Waste – A Global Review of Solid Waste Management” can be downloaded here. In brief, the report highlights key issues such as municipal solid waste management being the most important service any city provides, with poorly managed waste having immense impacts on health, the environment overall, and the economy. It identifies non-sustainable development including water and wastewater (treatment), greenhouse gas emissions, poverty and slums, social unrest, air pollution, and solid waste. Landfilling in low-income countries/low-technology sites, according to the report, is usually open dumping of wastes, leading to high pollution in nearby aquifers and water bodies, waste regularly being burned, with significant health consequences for local residents and staff. 

High-income OECD countries alone account for almost half (44-46%) of total worldwide waste generation, with high-income OECD countries also having the highest waste collection rates. What ends up in landfills worldwide has large impacts on our environment, as a result of which advanced recycling and waste management are significant factors for minimizing both environmental and health concerns.

Learn more by watching “Landfill Methane Emissions and Oxidation”, published by Illinois Sustainable Technology Center:

What conclusions can we draw from this? 

  • Your consumption habits matter and have an impact! Demand better products, and reduce your amount of waste. 
  • Packaging materials make a significant difference. Businesses/producers/retailers and consumers can influence what kinds of packaging materials are being used. 
  • With a constantly growing world population, it is essential to start limiting the amount of waste produced per capita in different countries. Otherwise, one option would be to charge for any additional waste through either waste collection costs per household/business or higher taxation on non-environmentally friendly packaging materials/products.
  • Improved recycling and overall waste management practices around the world. 

What else can you think of? Please share your ideas and thoughts by commenting on this article! You may also want to read my previous article “How Environmentally Friendly Is Biomass Production?” to find out more about how waste is being managed in for instance a country like Sweden. Today, we do have similar waste management practices in Finland as well. 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.