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May, 2016:

Germany to exit coal power “well before 2050”

Reuters reported at the beginning of May 2016 that “according to a draft environment ministry document”, coal-fired power production in Germany should come to an end “well before 2050”.

The draft document:

• says that CO₂ emissions from the energy sector will need to be halved by 2030 compared to 2014 levels;
• proposes setting up a committee to come up with recommendations on how to phase out coal while averting economic hardship for those working in coal-producing regions;
• calls for a faster expansion of renewables than currently envisaged and says support for solar power needs to be increased;
• says the amount of energy produced by green sources should increase by around 75 percent by 2030;
• says that support for research into energy-storage technologies should be doubled over the next 10 years;
• says that the government will also push for a stricter European emissions trading system and is considering whether an additional levy on petrol, heating oil and gas would increase demand for green technologies.

Source and link:

Methane levels increase rapidly in the Arctic

“We see an alarming development,” says senior researcher Cathrine Lund Myhre at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU).

Levels of methane increased sharply from 2013 to 2015 and are the highest ever measured.

Director of the Norwegian Environment Directorate, Ellen Hambro, said that the development gives reason for concern. “If the reason is release of methane from thawing permafrost and from the Arctic Ocean, then it is alarming. It will give climate change a self-reinforcing effect,” Hambro said.

The main sources of methane include boreal and tropical wetlands, rice paddies, emission from ruminant animals, biomass burning, and extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. Further, methane is the principal component of natural gas, and leaks from sources such as pipelines and offshore and onshore installations are a known source of atmospheric methane. The distribution between natural and anthropogenic sources is approximately 40/60 respectively. Of natural sources there is a large unknown potential methane source under the ocean floor, known as methane hydrates and seeps. Further, a large unknown amount of carbon is bound up in the permafrost layer in Siberia and North America, and this could be released as methane if the permafrost layer melts in response to climate change.

Reference: compiled from press release

World’s largest solar farm

Photo credit: Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park

Photo credit: Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park

China is helping Pakistan build the largest solar farm in the world. When complete in 2017, the solar farm could have 5.2 million photovoltaic cells, producing as much as 1,000 MW of electricity, enough to power about 320,000 households.