The planning and approval processes of energy transition projects are obstructing the massive rollout of renewables. Germany’s ungainly bureaucracy has the reputation of being an Olympic sport – and in the case of renewable energy development this rap is, unfortunately, right on the mark. For years now, investment capital for clean tech in Germany has been itching to enter the market. The path there, however, is so thick with legal impediments and other hurdles that many interested parties—start-ups, small businesses, prosumers, and established manufacturers alike—simply judge it not worth the risk and hassle. One task of Germany’s incoming government, regardless which party heads it, has to be to gut the blizzard of red tape. Paul Hockenos explains.
The circular economy constitutes an energy-efficient economic model for a European economy of the 21st century. Paul Hockenos has the details.
Across Europe, information and communication technologies are optimizing clean-energy systems by making them more connected, intelligent, efficient, reliable, and cheaper. Germany and France lead the pack.
The implications of weather-attribution methodology, which pins individual extreme weather events to human-induced global warming, are vast.
Europe is doubling down on efforts to curtail plastics production and waste. There’s much other continents can replicate – and plenty of room for improvement.
Circumventing landfills by turning garbage into energy sounds like a win-win proposition. But the incineration of garbage has high carbon emissions and produces other dangerous toxins. Waste-to-energy (WtE) plants may be necessary for the very last of unrecyclable waste, but we do not need more of them to accomplish this. Already recycling has cut into their feed supply – and should, hopefully, put them out of business.
Poles tend to see the ancient forest of Białowieża as home to extraordinary wildlife. For the climate conscious, the old-growth wilderness that straddles the Polish-Belarus border is a vast carbon sink. Both camps are incensed that the Polish government wants, again, to log the UNESCO World Heritage site. Forests elsewhere in Europe are under threat, too. Paul Hockenos conducted interviews with locals from Białowieża Forest in Poland.
As coal-fired and nuclear power plants go dark, Germany needs to find ways to balance the grid when weather-dependent renewables cannot get the job done. German and European experts are considering three options. The most promising is the rapid rollout of renewables combined with demand management, diversified storage, and regional smart grids.
Toronto’s former mayor shines light on best practices in cities from San Francisco to Tokyo in his new book “Solved: How the World’s Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis”. He argues that innovative transitions to low-emission cities are not just possible, or planned, but are already success stories.
Small-scale energy collectives want to play a prominent role in transitioning Europe’s energy supply to renewables. But the epic size of this challenge requires large companies with deep pockets and technology that can balance the grid. But do we really have to choose?