Even though ecology is a key economic and social theme, it was most definitely side-lined during the Polish parliamentary elections of 15 October 2023. The campaign was dominated by other issues: the surveillance of opposition politicians by special services, the role of state-run media, migration policy and the unprecedented enrichment of politicians from the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party through state assets. These subjects stirred a lot more emotion than the future of a coal-based economy or the need to unfreeze the stunted development of wind energy. Michał Olszewski reports. Read More
The international response to Russia’s brutal February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has altered and transformed the energy transition, in some ways accelerating the move towards wind and solar generation but also forcing countries dependent on Russian fossil fuels, particularly European nations and the European Union as a whole, to search for and secure alternative supplies.
With war raging in Ukraine, Europe simultaneously scrambled to cut ties with Russia, its biggest fossil gas supplier, while also dealing with the lowest levels of hydro and nuclear generation in at least two decades. Though many feared a swing back to coal, a new analysis by the climate think tank, Ember reveals that wind and solar energy largely filled the gap, generating a record fifth of all the EU electricity and overtaking fossil gas for the first time in the process. Additionally, as shown in their newly published European Electricity Review, increased renewable deployment saved consumers billions in higher bills while staving off a larger return to climate-damaging coal. Proving itself to be a potent solution to the triple crisis of energy availability, affordability and sustainability, Ember sees Europe’s response as accelerating the energy transition going forward. Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews the new data.
South Africa’s energy transition passed significant milestones at the last two COPs (Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC). Over the last two years, a framework for a just transition was developed and adopted by government, considering the inclusion of groups left behind by the energy industry. Women in particular face numerous challenges in the energy sector: while they fail to profit from energy production, they are also deeply afflicted by the existential issues linked to coal-based energy production. Tunicia Phillips and Leona Schmitt take a closer look at South Africa’s just transition plans and how they seek to include women in the process. Read More
There is a fairly broad consensus in the climate movement that hydrogen has to play an important role within the international energy transition (especially for the decarbonisation of energy-/feedstock-intensive industry sectors). And while there’s an understanding that only hydrogen produced 100% from renewables will match the requirements of being “clean” and therefore “climate-friendly”, few speak of possible shadow sides of this green dream (especially with regard to the Global North-South dependency resulting from green hydrogen production). In a two parts blog series, Andy Gheorghiu touches upon some of the aspects that promoters of green hydrogen should not forget.
While much of Europe suffers from escalating fossil fuel prices and fears of winter power cuts, Iceland – which has taken advantage of its natural resources by tapping into the geothermal heat lying deep underneath its soil and harnessing the power of vast amounts of snowmelt cascading from its interior to the ocean, has enjoyed more stable energy prices. Essentially 100% powered by renewable energy, in recent years its attracted a variety of industries, such as aluminum producers and, more recently, data centers. But changing rainfall patterns, rising populations and heavier personal consumption is pushing hot water production to its limits. Nevertheless, the nation is proud of its dependence on geothermal energy, a knowledge-base its long “exported.” Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum has the story.
Since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, European Union member states have been feverishly reworking their energy policies to reduce their reliance on Russian gas, coal, and oil. To help accelerate the shift, energy developers are rapidly increasing investments in solar and wind power. This summer, solar, helping the EU tackle not only its energy problem but also soaring inflation. According to a new report by climate think tank Ember, about a quarter of the EU’s electricity now comes from just wind and solar. Combined, Lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews how clean domestic energy is saving EU ratepayers money while helping slow global climate change.
Zimbabwe citizens currently experience power cuts of up to 18 hours on a daily basis despite the country’s largely untapped renewable energy potential that for years could be a panacea to the enduring power crises. According to its national clean power plan, the country would have enough green energy to satisfy local demand through sources including solar, hydro, biomass, geothermal and wind. However, a lack of investment and political will has prevented most of the Southern African country’s renewable projects from taking off. Kennedy Nyavaya has the story.
There has been no shortage of news about Mohamad Bin Salman, more commonly known as MBS, the 35-year crown prince of Saudi Arabia. A controversial figure, he has been hailed as a reformer, but also criticized for corruption and human rights abuses. He came to power at a time when Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical prowess as an energy giant may be threatened by the energy transition. This year, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a massive diplomatic effort to set itself up for success in a world inching towards clean energy, but still grappling with energy security, independence and resilience issues brought on by recent conflicts like the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Among many of the many topics on MBS’s desk are: how will Saudi Arabia fare in a post-oil world? MBS’s diplomatic moves of the past few months may signal the future direction of MBS’s energy diplomacy. Joelle Thomas reports.
Heralded as a “courageous step for climate protection,” Germany’s government has in 2022 reached a compromise with RWE, Europe’s most polluting energy firm, to stop mining and burning its filthy brown coal by 2030 – a full eight years ahead of previous plans. But the deal, negotiated by several Green-Party led ministries, also authorizes RWE to keep several units at one of the world’s most toxic power plants to stay longer on the grid, at least through 2025, instead of closing at year’s end. And despite cheers that the new agreement will keep 280 million tonnes of carbon in the ground, scientists fear the heaps of lignite now set to be burned will prevent Germany from meeting emissions limits set under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews the controversial decision.