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Electromagnetic Disaster Could Cost Trillions and Affect Millions. We Need to Be Prepared

      

Roasted by a pulse. Credit: arbyreed, CC BY-NC-SA

homelandsecuritynewswire.com - by Anders Sandberg - August 12, 2014

In 1962, a high-altitude Pacific nuclear test caused electrical damage 1,400 km away in Hawaii. A powerful electromagnetic pulse (EMP) – created either by a solar storm or a high-altitude nuclear explosion — poses a threat to regions dependent on electricity, as such pulses could cause outages lasting from two weeks to two years. The main problem is the availability of spare transformers. Superstorm Sandy’s worst effects were in a single location. In the case of a big EMP surge, replacement transformers would be needed in hundreds of locations at the same time. The cost of an EMP pulse to the U.S. economy would likely be in the range of $500 million to $2.6 trillion. A report by the U.S. National Academies was even more pessimistic, guessing at a higher range and a multi-year recovery. Besides disrupting electricity such storms can also destroy satellites, disrupt GPS navigation, and make other parts of the infrastructure fail.

China plans to ban coal use in Beijing by 2020

Chinese workers level coal to be used for generating electricity on a freight train at a railway station in Jiujiang city on June 16, 2014. Imaginechina via AP Images

Image: Chinese workers level coal to be used for generating electricity on a freight train at a railway station in Jiujiang city on June 16, 2014. Imaginechina via AP Images

america.aljazeera.com - August 5th, 2014

China has announced plans to ban the use of coal in its smog-plagued capital by the end of 2020, as the country fights deadly levels of pollution, especially in major cities.

Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau posted the plan on its website on Monday, saying the city would instead prioritize electricity and natural gas for heating.

The Chinese central government recently listed environmental protection as one of the top criteria by which leaders will be judged.

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The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard

      

aceee.org

The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard ranks the world's largest economies on their energy efficiency policies and programs. The rankings include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

Thirty-one different energy efficiency indicators have been analyzed for each economy ranked in the report. The rankings are determined by scoring out of 100 possible points. Points can be earned in four different categories, including buildings, industry, transportation, and national effort, which measures overall or cross-cutting indicators of energy use at the national level.

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Clean Power, Off the Grid

Image: Eleni Kalorkoti

nytimes.com - by David J. Hayes - July 17, 2014

STANFORD, Calif. — AFTER years of hype, renewable energy has gone mainstream in much of the United States and, increasingly, around the world. . .

. . . But many communities that need small-scale renewable energy remain out in the cold — literally and figuratively.

In Alaska, for instance, the vast majority of the more than 200 small, isolated communities populated primarily by native Alaskans rely on dirty, expensive diesel fuel to generate their electricity and heat.

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China’s Solar Panel Production to Double by 2017

                             

earth-policy.org - by J. Matthew Roney - July 8, 2014

China installed a world record amount of solar photovoltaics (PV) capacity in 2013. While this was the first time the country was the number one installer, China has led all countries in making PV for the better part of a decade. China now accounts for 64 percent of global solar panel production—churning out 25,600 megawatts of the nearly 40,000 megawatts of PV made worldwide in 2013—according to data from GTM Research. . .

. . . As demand for increasingly affordable solar power continues to climb around the world, GTM Research projects that China’s annual solar panel output will double to 51,000 megawatts by 2017, representing close to 70 percent of global production at that time.

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Puerto Rico’s Indebted Power Utility Adds to Island’s Problems

       

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority must repay $146 million over the next two months for a credit line used to buy oil to generate electricity.  Credit Dennis M. Rivera-Pichardo for The New York Times

dealbook.nytimes.com - by Michael Corkery - July 1, 2014

Puerto Rico’s electrical utility is running out of money and time to negotiate a deal with its lenders, part of a broad reckoning for an island that relies on Wall Street to finance some of its most basic functions.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority must repay $146 million to Citigroup over the next two months for a credit line used to buy oil to generate electricity. It is also uncertain whether the authority will be able to renew a $550 million credit line from Scotiabank for fuel purchases, people briefed on the matter said.

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China Leads World to Solar Power Record in 2013

earth-policy.org - by J. Matthew Roney - June 18,2014

In the last two years, countries around the world have added almost as much new solar photovoltaics (PV) capacity as had been added since the invention of the solar cell. . .

. . . China—the leading manufacturer of PV—had until recently installed very little solar power at home. Those days are over.

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Strawberry Trees Offer Free Public Solar Charging for Gadgets

submittted by Margery Schab   

      

Strawberry Energy

treehugger.com - by Derek Markham - March 14, 2014

In a bid to bring more renewable energy choices to the public, while educating people on the benefits of solar power, one Serbian startup is building public solar charging stations that will energize mobile gadgets and serve as a social hub.

The vision of Strawberry Energy is to make renewable energy sources more accessible for all people, and to show that solar power and other clean energy solutions aren't just abstract concepts, but are instead practical and desirable. The way they're helping to get that message across is through their public solar charging stations, dubbed Strawberry Trees, which offer free charging for mobile devices, and in some cases, free WiFi.

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Gazprom Cuts Russia’s Natural Gas Supply to Ukraine

      

Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia, center, meeting on Monday with Gazprom’s chief executive, Alexei Miller, left, and Russia’s energy minister, Alexander Novak. Credit Pool photo by Dmitry Astakhov

nytimes.com - by Neil MacFarquhar - June 16, 2014

MOSCOW — Further aggravating already tense relations between Russia and Ukraine, the Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off natural gas supplies to its neighbor on Monday, warning that the reduction could diminish the amount of gas flowing to Europe.

The cutoff came after Ukraine missed a Russian-imposed deadline Monday to pay a nearly $2 billion installment for past gas deliveries, with senior officials on both sides exchanging heated remarks blaming the other.

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Oil Industry in Iraq Faces Setback to Revival

submitted by Margery Schab

      

Standing guard at Iraq’s Al-Basra Oil Terminal. Iraq has re-emerged as a critical source of oil in recent years.
Credit Nabil Al-Jurani/Associated Press

nytimes.com - by Clifford Krauss - June 13, 2014

After a long history of wars and sanctions, Iraq re-emerged as a critical source of oil in recent years. Mounting Iraqi production helped to ease world oil prices despite the tightening restrictions on Iran and tanking exports from Libya. And Western and Chinese oil companies rushed back, revitalizing long-neglected oil fields in the north and south.

Now suddenly all that progress has been put in jeopardy with the intense military offensive by extremist insurgents.

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