Climate Change Challenges Australia’s Ski Industry

As the warming climate is significantly reducing the cover, depth and duration of snow, ski resorts in Australia are facing the prospect of downhill run as a result. Australia may not be renowned for its winter season but the country does have big snow industry, and not to mention, a unique mountainous environment that is now facing big risk due to climate change.

According to the CSIRO – Bureau of Meteorology report;

The snow retreat is being observed for almost half a century, with frequent rising temperatures instead of reducing precipitation as a factor to blame.

 

Snow is considered as a threshold variable

With this climate change, even the slightest rise in temperature is likely to turn snowflakes into severe rain conditions that, would rather wash away than adding to the snow cover, and which is why all other climate projections too, points in only one direction – says Researcher Tom Remenyi at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre.

He also said that such a condition can be termed as both terrifying and encouraging for Australia as the observations match models and making researchers more confident about their bleak and timely predictions.

 

The step change for Australia’s ski industry

The major concern for the ski industry in Australia is that, at some point, there will not be that much snow anymore and that will be a step change for the industry. As per the model, this paradigm shift is likely to happen in the next 20 years.

The big dumps will continue happening but follow up rains and warmer air means that the snow ‘probably won’t stick around’. The projected trends are for south-eastern Australia in terms of declining rainfall with a rise in extreme events – says Sonya Fiddes, researcher at Australian German Climate and Energy College – Melbourne

By the end of century, the models actually point to almost 20% drop in precipitation. While the other seasons may see a decline, Alpine summers are likely to experience more rainfall and in some fewer yet larger events. The Victorian government, however, is preparing a detailed report considering the alpine communalities’ future and also the ski industry in Australia, later this year.

 

The future of Ski industry in Australia

The $1.5 billion ski industry of Australia has been recognized for long but if there is no snow, the industry will have no business. Already adapting to climate change to run business, the popular ‘Mt Buller’ resort in Victoria has now managed to increase operational days to 106 in the typical year from 100 in the year 1970, even in the situation of less snow.

This diversification has also affected the snow tourist and many of them are now heading to Australian mountains just to witness the snow-capped mountains rather than snowboard or skiing. The effects of climate change are being faced by many industries all over the world, resort industries consider these climate change as one of the most faced challenges by almost every country, every person and every business now. Nevertheless, climate change aims at zero environmental footprints by the year 2030.

Disappearing Glaciers – Mt Kenya Face Violence over Dried-Up River

There are many people in Mt Kenya who solely rely on the water that comes to the river from mountains. But with the problem of climate change and its drastic results, glaciers are gradually disappearing faster than previously observed, causing the rivers to dry up and resulting in violence over water.

A lot of people at Mt Kenya rely on these streams to irrigate their land and feed their animals. The glaciers that are located near the summit give out many streams, big and small, that further feed into rivers and supporting the lives of those residing around the mountain.

Now, the scenario is different and causing people to turn against each other. As per the Isaac Kalua – Chairman and Environmentalist of Kenya’s Water Tower Management Authority;

“The ice is melting away. The rivers flowing from the glaciers are not as full as they used to be. Some have dried up. And this is causing conflict downhill. When the melting starts, rivers first experience high flows because of the melting ice. But this subsequently reduces because the glaciers never really recover like they did before climate change became a reality. Because of this, there is less and less water in the rivers in the years that follow.”

 

Some statistics about melting glaciers in Mt Kenya

According to an estimate by the United Nations Environment Programme, there were a total of 18 glaciers which covered the summit till the last century, but out of these 18 only 10 remain.

Moreover, since 1934, the largest glacier – Lewis Glacier on Mt Kenya, has drastically decreased by almost 90% in its volume. This also makes it the highest rate of loss of ice volume that occurred around the century’s turn.

Like many other countries, Kenya too, is highly defenseless to the drastic consequences of climate change. The main reason for this is its exposure to rising temperatures, variability of rainfall and its dependence on farming.

 

 

Prevalent violence among the people

Since people and their animals do not have anything to eat, people are becoming hostile. Even in early March, some herders killed Tristan Voorspuy, an ex-British army officer as he was engaged in the inspection of a  lodge that was burnt in a 24000-acre expensive ranch.

Similarly, a diverse herder group shot conservationist and renowned author Kuki Gallmann in a ranch.

Due to disappearing glaciers and a shortage of water and agriculture, the region has been facing massive invasions, vandalism by herders and violent behavior that not only drove away many tourists, but also makes investors steer clear of the region causing another problem of unemployment and the loss of jobs.

The future of those further downhill looks bleak,” says Francis Karin, expert of food security and climate change.

This increasing violence and melting glaciers are only making things worse for the communities living around the mountains and we can only hope for the better.

Tunisian Desert Solar Project – Tapping the Sahara Sunshine to Power Europe

With a little done in past years, there have been several attempts to tap Sahara desert sunshine to effectively power Europe. After the high profile yet flopped Desertec initiative, that was not only funded by 19 shareholders but also had a budget of €400 billion, another massive project is now coming up in Tunisia.

Tunisia Desert Solar Project

This Tunisian solar project, on its successful completion, will be the first project to export solar power and making a dream come to reality. TuNur is basically a project that aims at exporting solar power from Tunisia to Europe.

With the filed request by the developers to the energy ministry operating in Tunisia, the project will build as well as operate with almost 4.5GW i.e. 9000GWh/annum, solar power plant in the country’s southwest, near Rjim Maatoug.

The power plant is expected to be spread over 10000 hectares in Tunisia (southern). And this will consist of molten salt storage with circa 18 x 125MW CSP Towers. The generated electricity, with the help of this power plant, will then be transmitted to Europe using cables that will be laid under the ocean to Italy, Malta and France.

Considering the smooth execution of the project, the first 250MW phase of the project, with connection to Malta, is likely to be running by the year 2020 with an estimated investment of €1.6 billion – says Kevin Sara, TuNur chief executive.

She further adds that on completion of the project, the development will cover nearly 3 x the area of Manhattan i.e. 25000 hectares. The area has so much marginal land which is not appropriate for agriculture purpose, the land is just sitting there idle and there is so much appreciation and excitement amongst the local people as we are going to do something about that land.

 
 

The Challenges Faced by the Tunisia Desert Solar Project

In the year 2014, Tunisia ranked as the 3rd country in the entire world to ink into their constitution – climate protection. This was then followed by the renewable energy law, in the year 2015.

While the Tunisian ministry has not yet responded to the request, Sara remains optimistic about the execution of the project and claims that the opening up of the renewable export industry was also the will of the parliament.

On the other hand, a few North Africans are already wary of the entire enterprise. In 2015, Algerian activist – Hamza Hamouchene literally accused its proponents, calling it as neo-colonialism. He said that Sahara is a vast idle land, which is also sparsely populated and that constitute a great opportunity for providing Europe with power, so that it can add more to it extravagant consumerist lifestyle, also profligate consumption of energy.

He also claimed that the same tactics were actually used by colonial powers in order to justify their civilizing missions. Hamza takes Tunisian project as a well intended and suspicious project whereas Sara believes in the results of the project and the development of the solar export sector, hoping the timely and successful completion of the project in the coming years.

No Action on Climate Change is Turning Cities into Sweltering Hotspots

West Harlem in Manhattan is a mix of aging infrastructure, poverty and lack of services which has made the area and its inhabitants vulnerable. Now, disruptive climate change is putting even more stress on the almost 110000 people who call the area home.

The biggest threat of climate change is extreme temperatures. We know that carbon emissions aggravate planetary heat, and we can clearly see the impact manifesting itself in the form of extremely hot days which are becoming increasingly common.

 
 
 
 
 

Some intriguing facts of climate analysis report

If we look at different cities in the United States, over the past 20 years, New York faced on average three days with the temperature above 95 degrees F. However, if carbon pollution continues to disrupt climate, this number is expected to rise up to 31 by the end of 2075 – as per the new climate central analysis.

A far worse off effect would be for Myriad cities all across the country. Boise and Atlanta are expected to see 80 and 69 days above the temperature of 95 F, whereas Dallas is expected to have almost 140 days of temperatures above 95 degrees F.

Phoenix, on the other hand, is taking the lead and their residents may need to make necessary arrangements to deal with over half year above the temperature of 95 degrees F – 163 days of extreme temperature.

Similarly, if we look at the temperature of the cities of other countries, Wellington is likely to become much hotter than the Northland. It is expected that the climate will reach close to that of Sydney’s especially in the absence of any adequate action towards climate change, the latest prediction of Niwa suggests.

Wairarapa region is expected to be hit badly, with increased droughts and agriculture being scorched by extreme temperatures. For now, there are at least 24 days per year in which the temperature is higher than 25 degrees Celsius, however, the number is expected to skyrocket to at least 94 days each year.

With that, the extreme moisture held by warmer atmosphere will result in intense rainfall. Petone – the coastal area of Wellington – is likely to observe a rise in sea level along with storms, inundation and coastal erosion.

With the facts before us, it is fair to say that extreme climate will become a prominent issue in the 2100s. Climate change has already started affecting people in several ways and the worse is yet to come.

Despite of the diversification and technological advancements, there seems to be hardly any way out of the problem. It will take a lot more than cutting out carbon pollution and low usage of air conditioning to expect a safe, surviving and habitable climate around the world in the future.

Several countries are not executing climate programs yet as they focus on majorly affected cities and hope to mitigate the heat stress. Countries are still required to devise a massive plan to in order to protect lives in the face of climate change, and improve the services and infrastructure which communities are relying on for now.

Water Scarcity has Hit Farmers in India’s Cauvery Delta

Deeper wells being dug by farmers to fight the unending drought

Rice farmer, Dakshinamoorthy, who used to grow crops over three acres of fields in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has to dig deeper and deeper for his tub-well to tap into the groundwater in the soil. According to him, the underground water table has dropped below 300 feet, which is nearly double a few years ago.

The water situation in the Cauvery delta region is challenging the area’s economic base which revolves around rice crop.

 

Cauvery Delta feeling the heat of changing Monsoon patterns

As western Rajasthan and the state of Gujarat are experiencing heavy rains and floods in July, inhabitants of Cauvery delta are wishing and praying for a Monsoon with enough rainfall to get sufficient water for their crops.

However, rain patterns in June and July were not very reassuring because the state of Tamil Nadu has received 31% less rain than normal. People are fearful that the drought will extend if the same situation persists in the coming days.

Like Dakshinamoorthy, 85% of the farmers of the state own less than 2 hectares of land. In the previous year, due to the shortage of water, crops of many farmers failed to grow optimally. Cattle-keeping is another important source for farmers to make their ends meet. But with the shortage of even drinking water for humans, keeping cattle has become an uphill battle.

Due to the piling up of issues, Dakshinamoorthy and many others like him are contemplating moving out of the state. Many have already migrated.

 

Water Crisis: Driving farmers over the edge

From November 2016 to May 2017, more than 200 farmers have either died of sudden heart attack or ended their lives. Every death has a distressing story behind it.

For instance, there is a village named Anaikudy along the river Kollidam that has become devoid of water.

There, a small-time farmer committed suicide due to his mounting debts. His attempts to dig well ended in futility and pushed him to end his life.

 

Anthropogenic and climatic factors have hit the Cauvery River badly

S Ranganathan, a farmer and general secretary of the Cauvery Delta Farmers says, “The crisis goes beyond the drought. The backbone of delta prosperity is under threat, and it’s scary.”

The cauvery River supplies water to five main tributaries and hundreds of canals and channels and many of them have run dry because of water scarcity. V Deivasihamani, a retired irrigation engineer with 40 years of experience working in the delta region thinks that climate and anthropogenic factors have led to this situation.

According to the study conducted by Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), 20% of farming land in the Cauvery delta has become uncultivable in 40 years due to climate changes and anthropogenic reasons.

A recent example of climate change adversity can be seen in the previous year when farmers of Tamil Nadu couldn’t even grow one crop because of the rain shortfall of more than 60% that year. 3.5 million hectares of land suffered from the resulting draught.

Apple Expands into Australia’s Energy Market

The giant of global technology Apple stated that it is planning to expand into the energy market of Australia, including a stake in wind and solar projects.

The technology giant is already renewable by 100 percent in Australia i.e. purchasing power from many renewable energy sources of existing retailers. While Apple is striving to purchase solar farms from all around the world, to achieve its target in becoming 100 percent renewable, the company is also looking at all other options in order to reduce the carbon footprint in Australia.

The Senior Vice President of environment, Lisa Jackson said that the company was actually looking to come closer to the electricity supply in Australia. This was, however, to be done as a direct stake in terms of an energy project instead of investing in a totally new power project, on its own.

“So we’re scouting, so we’re looking for more opportunities. I think there’s always a way to change the way we lower our carbon footprint in Australia, whether it be solar or wind” said Ms. Jackson in an interview conducted at Apple’s headquarters in California.

She further adds that the company does not really wish to own their personal generation facility however it feels nice to always inform your customers the source from where the energy comes including which field.

 

Apple take measures to exploit renewable sources wisely

As part of the environmental initiatives taken by Ms. Lisa Jackson to deal with climate change, Apple is asking its many suppliers including the ones in China to become renewable – 100% in order to keep business with the global tech giant. About 75% of the company’s carbon footprint indeed comes from their wider supply chain.

To aid its requirements of renewability, Apple has also set up a platform in the form of a website to assist suppliers in becoming ‘green’ with the tech giant i.e. helping suppliers in securing affordable deals of power purchasing with many potential retailers all around the world.

Apple is also attempting and searching for further ways to source its product components, including the parts of iPhone (almost 20000 parts), from renewable and reusable products. Moreover, Apple which holds a market capitalization of almost $976 billion, is about to complete its new headquarters in North America which is also going to be the largest LEED Platinum-certified building.

At the newly built corporate campus, built on the Hewlett-Packard site (old) and constituting on 80% land which is occupied mostly by concrete and buildings, only 20% is used for buildings and the remaining 80% is used as open spaces, including drought-resistant trees i.e. almost 9000 in quantity

In addition to that, Apple Park will likely to cost up to $6 billion for the 12000 company employees. This park will also be renewable – 100 percent whereas the energy needs of up to 75% will be generated at the building’s roof and car park with solar panels.

With such an extensive planned measures, to be taken by Apple in the near future, the tech giant is successfully adapting its operations and environment in accordance with the troubling challenge of climate change.

Tesla Completes its First Solar Roof Installation

Along with its popular electric car – the Model 3, Tesla is now focused on ramping up the solar roof as the conventional solar business of the company shrinks.

Tesla at first showed off their solar roof in last October and literally wowed the crowd with its textured solar tiles, giving the look of high-class shingles. While the company unveiled the cost and started taking orders with regards to solar tiles in May, currently during second-quarter earnings report of Tesla, Musk stated that they have recently finished the installation of their first solar roof.

Their first solar roof customers are however their own employees. Tesla decided to conduct the installation on the roof of their employees so that they can effectively work out the possible kinks in the installation process and sales before the product is finally offered to a large public.

Referring to the Chief Technology Officer – J.B. Straubel, Musk said; “I have them on my house, JB has them on his house. This is version one. I think this roof is going to look really knock-out as we just keep iterating”

In May, Tesla opened its online store and took $1000 deposits for textured glass and smooth black roof tiles. These roof tiles are virtually indistinguishable from high-class roofing. From almost all angles, these modern slick shingles feels like standard materials but in actual they allow the light to get through onto a wide solar cell which is embedded under a tempered surface. While Tesla didn’t inform when the installation took place, the first installation was likely to initiate in June.

 

Tesla adopting solar power strategy of Apple Store

Since the acquisition of SolarCity Corp, for $2 billion last year, the company is working on to the idea of cutting down the high cost associated with identifying new customers and rather passively attracts them through their upscale auto stores in high-traffic locations and other shopping malls. Analyzing the results of initial trials, it was evident that the new approach is almost 100 percent more effective than at the best, selling Solar City products at non-Tesla locations.

The production of solar tiles began at solar plant – Tesla Fremont in California, however, it will be shifted to Buffalo, New York later this year and to its new factory. Tesla will also receive additional investment from its tech partner – Panasonic. Considering the initial limitations on sales, Musk said that sales will be in accordance with the manufacturing capacity.

As per the previous reports of the company, production ramps up in the year 2018 and with that, sales will start in Australia, UK and elsewhere. This will also include the introduction of sculpted terra cotta additionally and also solar roof’s slate versions.

With all these endeavours, Tesla is looking ahead to make solar ownership a lot more affordable and attractive by clearly eliminating the need of installing both the solar panels and roof. Tesla is planning to manage the whole process of the installation of solar roof, including existing roof removal, permits, design, maintenance and installation. As per the company estimation, the installation is likely to take about one week to be effectively carried out.

Africa Takes Lead in the Largest PV Hybrid Thermal-Solar Power Plant

Creating Africa’s largest PV hybrid thermal-solar power plant, the Finnish technology group – Wartsila is all set to deliver a PV solar plant – 15MW in Burkina Faso. While the plant is likely to be operational next year, the PV solar development is planned to be integrated with the existing Wartsila 55-MW thermal plant (which runs on heavy fuel oil), in order to power IAMGOLD’s Essakane Mine – situated northeast 220km of the Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou.

“The project has been motivated by an appetite to lower operating costs via reducing fuel usage, but also by a desire to reduce CO2 emissions” manager of business development – Jerome Jouaville (Wartsila Energy Solutions).

Jouaville further adds “it’s not an uncommon situation. In fact, we see many potential customers interested in this kind of hybrid solution, particularly over the African continent”

As per Wartsila estimation, the addition of solar PV will significantly enable a fuel consumption reduction up to 6 million litres per annum, including the reduction in CO2 annual emissions up to 18,500 tons.

As Jouaville believes; successful interface between solar PV plants and thermal is the key to such hybrid project and this is something that is achieved by means of control systems.

“ In order to successfully introduce solar PV, and offset some thermal generation capacity, we need to design and ensure that any time we push solar PV, we still have enough spinning reserve in the system to meet the mine’s base demand, of roughly 40MW, even in the event of cloud-cover, or engine shutdown” – says Jouaville

Alternatively, Director of business development, renewables, Karim Wazni told Renewable Energy World that “Hybrid generation is about achieving the best of both worlds. Combining thermal power plants with solar or wind power, helps us bring the reliability, availability and flexibility of thermal power plants together with the low cost of electricity derived from renewable energy sources”

He also added that the additional benefit is actually to reduce customer’s exposure towards fluctuating fuel prices.

Until now, Wartsila is adapting to its operating system of diesel engine to fully accommodate the PV solar generation.

“The system will manage outputs and loads, and control engines according to solar PV output to ensure we meet demand whilst keeping enough spinning reserve in the system. The priority for us is to deliver something that avoids jeopardising mining operations” says Jouaville

However, the perennial concern for all the energy-intensive industries, and the basic cause for showing reluctance to switching towards renewables, despite potential economic benefits, is the reliable, sustained power supply.

Nevertheless, Wartsila and Jouaville is confident and truly believes that hopefully they will be able to emphasize the need of hybrid technology with the success of this project.

While for sure it is a stepping stone to renewable industry, but it comes with the timeline of making conventional thermal plants offline, also stretching out for years to come, making hybridization a promising interim solution.

Also considering these circumstances, the notion of including battery storage seems pretty logical in terms of lessening reliance and enhancing plant resilience on engines.

China has achieved a new Milestone of Producing Renewable Energy

Country has added 7.21 GW of solar capacity in the first quarter of the year 2017

Maintaining and matching the pace of the previous year of adding renewable energy into the national grid, China has added another 7.21 GW of new solar energy in the first quarter of 2017. 4.78 GW of the total energy is being generated from the large-scale setups, while the remaining watts of energy are coming from the distributed solar panels across the country.

The addition of 7.21 GW of energy has increased the collective solar PV capacity to around 85 GW. This development suggests that the electric output of photovoltaic plants has risen to 80% from the first quarter of 2016. All these stats are provided by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA).

 

Renewable energy is spreading all across the country

To make solar energy options more prevalent, China is trying to replicate the PV market scenario of the Northern Interior and Western Region in the rest of the country, especially the Central and Eastern Coast. Therefore 89% of the total newly added solar capacity is located in the central and eastern parts of the country.

More than 25% of the newly added solar capacity is concentrated in four eastern provinces of Shandong, Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

 

The Issue of Curtailment

However, all operations of renewable energy are not going smooth during the first quarter of the year. Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Qinghai all witnessed time outs due to the increase in curtailment of 11 %, 8 %and 9 % respectively. The most affected renewable power project due to curtailment is the one located in Xinjiang. Wind plants in the province remained dormant for nearly 40% of the time in the first quarter of this year.

 

Forecast for the remaining Year

With the help of data collected from the important industry players, the extensive analysis from the China National Renewable Energy Center has predicted some interesting figures for the year 2017.

  • By the end of the first half of the year, the newly added solar capacity of the country will touch the 24 GW mark.
  • Around 17 GW of this energy would be generated from large-scale solar installations and the reaming 7 GW will come from distributed solar voltaic cells. These figures are three times more than what was being produced in the first half of the previous year.
  • In the second half of the year, the distributed solar Photovoltaic cells will continue to maintain growth due to government’s lenient policies for the development of the sector.
  • The forecast for the full year indicates that at the end of the year, there are strong chances that the newly added solar capacity will cross the figure of 40 GW.

Adopting renewable energy as the main power source is still a long shot. Decreased economic activity and the recession of energy oriented industries have begotten the issue of overcapacity. However, country’s solar PV sector is expected to experience stability in the coming years.

Carbon Pollution – Government Data Observes Soar in Australia’s CO2 Emissions

Carbon pollution is the primary underlying source of increased planetary heat. Speaking of increased temperature, Australia has also been facing soaring CO2 emissions in the past few years.

The greenhouse emissions of Australia are continuously increasing, making it more difficult for Australia to meet international commitments. This is something that is also observed in the presented government data.

As per the analysis of the National Greenhouse Inventory, the CO2 emission in the March quarter rose up to 1.6 percent. These statistics were further confirmed by the Environment Department which claimed the quarterly increase as the largest increase in the last nine years.

138.3 million tonnes of emission is a huge number for a quarter. However, if we also consider land clearing, then the total is even more than it was in September 2005. As per the annual analysis, the emission of CO2 in Australia has reached 550.4 million tonnes, excluding used land changes such as the land clearing.

“This is simply a disgrace and a complete failure of policy, a failure the government has no plan to fix,” says spokesman of Labor’s environment – Mark Butler

He further emphasized that Australia observed almost a 10% drop in pollution during the period of 2007 – 2013 labor governments. However, considering the prevailing coalition government, the emissions have drastically risen almost 6% since 2013.

 

The Source behind Soaring Emissions

Surprisingly, the emission increase is not associated with the electricity sector. Even though it is one of the largest sources of pollution, the sector has received a 1.9% down from the past year.

Instead, the rise in emission – 5.8 percent– came from the sector of stationary energy, excluding electricity and that, too, is due to the ramping up of the LNG industry. As per the presented data of the March quarter, the pollution emission from agriculture was reported 2.5 percent and 2.8 percent from the industrial processes in comparison to last year’s stats.

Energy and Environment Minister – Josh Frydenberg is proud of the power sector emission drop. He says; “Importantly emissions in the electricity sector have continued to fall, including 0.6 per cent (trend) in the March quarter and 1.1 per cent (trend) in the December quarter”.

On the other hand, Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council’s Chief Executive points at the jump in overall emissions;

“There is one test of a climate policy: is pollution down? Under the government’s policy framework, pollution keeps going up and up. This data is just another alarm bell ringing that the federal government is choosing to ignore – all while Australia’s pollution levels soar, driving worsening climate change.”

In the bottom line, Australia is committed to reducing 2000-level emissions by almost 5% by the year 2020. This is a target that is expected to be reached because of the earned credits during the period of Kyoto Protocol.

Moreover, the Turnbull government is also signing the Paris Climate Accord, pledging that the country will achieve the target of reducing the emissions by 28 percent by the year 2030.