A groundbreaking peer reviewed study from researchers at Harvard University and Greenpeace International has revealed that around 50,000 lives a year could saved by 2030 if no new coal-fired power plants are built in Southeast Asia, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
Air pollutant emissions from coal-fired power plants in these regions currently cause an estimated 20,000 excess deaths per year, increasing to 70,000 by 2030 if coal-fired power plants presently planned or under construction go ahead. The majority of these mortalities (55,000 by 2030) will be in Southeast Asia.
“While air pollution in China and India has received a lot of scientific attention, the impacts of planned coal power expansion in the rest of the Southeast and East Asian region have been understudied,” said Shannon Koplitz, lead researcher in the project from Harvard University.
We estimate that tens of thousands of premature deaths could be avoided through cleaner energy choices
“Reliance on coal in emerging Southeast Asian countries will have substantial and long-lasting impacts on air quality and public health. We estimate that tens of thousands of premature deaths could be avoided through cleaner energy choices. These significant human health costs should be considered when making choices about Southeast Asia’s energy future”.
Authors from Harvard University Atmospheric Sciences modeling group, Harvard School of Public Health and Greenpeace mapped out current emissions from all coal-fired power plants in the region, and used a sophisticated atmospheric model to assess how much of current air pollution levels are due to coal emissions in different locations across Asia.
If proposed coal-fired power plant projects go ahead, emissions from coal in Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan will triple by 2030 and could exceed total coal emissions in the U.S. and Europe, with the largest increases in Indonesia and Vietnam. Coal-fired power plants could be responsible for 70,000 premature deaths in the region every year, rivaling the 100,000 deaths from Indonesia’s 2015 smog. Indonesia will suffer the highest number of premature deaths, followed by Vietnam, with Myanmar experiencing the fourth highest mortality in 2030.
“Planned coal expansion in Southeast Asia is a particular concern because of these countries’ extremely weak emission standards for power plants. All countries in the region allow many times more pollution from new coal-fired power plants than China and India,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, Senior Global Coal Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.
“Countries in Southeast Asia have the chance now to leapfrog dirty, outdated technology like coal and move to renewable energy. Vietnam already took the first step by cancelling 17 large coal-fired power plants, reducing the projected health impacts from the country’s massive coal expansion by more than one fourth. Governments across the region have the chance to urgently shift their energy policies and save the lives of tens of thousands of their citizens.”
Southeast Asia is one of the fastest developing regions in the world; electricity demand in 2035 is projected to increase by 83% from 2011 levels, more than twice the global average. Many countries in the region are still pursuing new coal-fired power plants, while lagging behind China and India in scaling up renewable energy.
Among developed countries, only Japan and South Korea continue stand out as the only ones to pursue new coal-fired power plants, in spite of their in contrast with climate commitments and concerns about public health.
China, the world’s largest emitter, has seen an overall decrease in coal consumption and associated pollutant emissions since 2013 and this trend will continue, despite recent jump in pollution. While China’s pollution frequently spills over to neighboring countries, China could also start feeling the impacts of growing emissions outside of its borders. Some of the reductions in China’s air pollution could be offset by increases in Southeast Asia, as mainland China will see about 9,000 premature deaths in 2030 due to pollution from rising coal emissions from neighbouring countries.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!