When it comes to energy in Australia your first thoughts are likely to be about coal and exporting coal. Despite the amble sun hitting the country, Australia has been slow on adopting renewable energy. Except for the island of Tasmania.
The rather large island has completed the push for energy self reliance by completing a wind farm. Now people on the island have limitless power thanks to a mixture of renewable resources. With luck the conversation about energy in the country will change following the success of Tasmania.
“We have reached 100 per cent thanks to our commitment to realising Tasmania’s renewable energy potential through our nation-leading energy policies and making Tasmania attractive for industry investment, which in turn is creating jobs across the State, particularly in our regions,” Barnett said.
Tasmania has long had one of the greenest supplies of electricity in Australia, with the state’s significant hydroelectricity resources supplying the bulk of the state’s power. Tasmania’s history with hydroelectricity dates back to 1895, with the Duck Reach power plant in Launceston becoming the first publicly owned hydroelectric power station in the southern hemisphere.
The largest oil producer in the European Union has banned all new oil and gas exploration in their territory. Denmark follows France and New Zealand in the banning of new exploration for destructive and climate-altering fossil fuels (who will be next?). The end of oil as a burnable resource is inevitable, and with so many developed nations banning fossil fuel cars and resource extraction the fate of oil is secured. Let’s hope we end the use of non-renewable resources even faster than planned!
Helene Hagel from Greenpeace Denmark described the parliamentary vote as “a watershed moment” that will allow the country to “assert itself asa green frontrunnerand inspire other countries to end our dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels”.
She said: “This is a huge victory for the climate movement and all the people who have pushed for many years to make it happen.”
Dealing with “fake news” is a challenge for all of us due to the last four years of people in power blatantly telling untruths. Sadly, in regions like Ontario and others, the response to COVID-19 has equally been marred by people in power denying reality. This information environment makes it challenging for journalists to disseminate well-researched and variable information. Today at Web Summit a panel addressed these issues and argued that all of us need to expand our exposure to varied news sources while increasing our critical thinking skills.
This year, news has stepped into the light as a global force for good, communicating the message on how we can stop spreading Covid-19. The fight against fake news has taken on fresh significance in these trying times, but are we winning it?
Another noteworthy presentation looked into the use of hydrogen in the aviation industry. A somewhat secretive startup, Universal Hydrogen, plans to provide the fuel and more to the future of air travel. Of course, the problem with hydrogen is scalability – let’s hope they solve that! They argue that due to the energy requirements for flight that hydrogen is the best solution for decarbonizing the aviation industry (to be clear, they are focussing on large planes not smaller planes which can be fully electric). With the reduction in costs of renewable energy it means that hydrogen production can now happen in a carbon neutral way.
The province of Alberta is likely best known internationally for its world-destroying tar sands, but in the province there’s a push by citizens to create a sustainable economy. On the north end of the tar sands exists a new solar installation owned by local indigenous groups. The installation functions first and foremost as a source of power for a small town, but it serves as a symbol of a clean future that leaves the destruction of the fossil fuel industries behind. The independence and cost savings that the installation brings are nice too!
The project is owned by Three Nations Energy, a joint venture of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Fort Chipewyan Métis Association, all located in the hamlet of Fort Chipewyan.
The 5,760 solar panels will supply the remote northeast Alberta community with around 25 per cent of its energy needs, the company says.
Before the solar farm, Fort Chipewyan’s roughly 1,000 residents got their energy from the ATCO-owned diesel power station, which every year burns three million litres of fuel trucked in on ice roads or delivered by river barge.
Gas stoves have reputation for being good to cook with, but they are really quite bad for everything else that happens in the kitchen – like inhaling air. Indoor fas stoves can actually make your kitchen air quality worse than a highway’s. Thankfully, electric stove technology has improved to the point that the cooking benefits of gas are negligible compared to a quality stove.
So if you’re in need of a new stove, go electric.
On the air-quality front, at least, the evidence against gas stoves is damning. Although cooking food on any stove produces particulate pollutants, burning gas produces nitrogen dioxide, or NO2,, and sometimes also carbon monoxide, according to Brett Singer, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who studies indoor air quality. Brief exposures to air with high concentrations of NO2 can lead to coughing and wheezing for people with asthma or other respiratory issues, and prolonged exposure to the gas can contribute to the development of those conditions, according to the EPA. Homes with gas stoves can contain approximately 50 to 400 percent higher concentrations of NO2 than homes with electric stoves, often resulting in levels of indoor air pollution that would be illegal outdoors, according to a recent report by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a sustainability think tank. “NO2 is invisible and odorless, which is one of the reasons it’s gone so unnoticed,” Brady Seals, a lead author on the report, says.