A letter unveiled in Japan’s capital Tokyo today includes eighty organisations urging Japan to change the way they use fossil fuels. The organisations have asked Japan to announce that they will commit to ending all fossil fuel financing by next year at the G7 summit. The latest climate change research shows that to avoid the worst effects of climate change we should not build any more fossil fuel power plants after 2017.
This letter builds on international protests in March and April when activists rallied to demand that Japan stop financing dirty energy projects like the Batang coal-fired power plant, which has been plagued by human rights abuses. These protests will continue this month to call out Japan’s out-of-touch plans to build 49 new coal plants domestically and finance many others abroad.
Japan’s government has continued to isolate itself by supporting both fossil fuel projects at home and across the globe. This is despite Japan’s wealth of renewable resources. Japan’s financing has included liquefied natural gas projects throughout the world, including the United States and Indonesia. In addition, Japan provided over US$20 billion in coal financing abroad between 2007 and 2014, making it the world’s number one financier of overseas coal.
Yuki Tanabe, Program Coordinator at Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES) said: “It is a time to make G7’s public finance flows consistent with the goal of 1.5-2 degree Celsius agreed in Paris. As a chair of the G7 Summit, the Prime Minister Abe should take a strong leadership towards the dramatical change.”
Kate DeAngelis, International Policy Analyst at Friends of the Earth U.S. said: “Japan’s own government research shows that the country is rich in clean, renewable resources. Instead of taking advantage of these resources and encouraging the rest of the world to transition to renewables, Japan has doubled down on dirty coal and gas. Hosting the G7 provides Japan with an opportunity to change course and commit to replacing its dangerous fossil fuel financing with resources for renewables.”
Nur Hidayati, National Executive Director of WALHI – Friends of the Earth Indonesia said: “Indonesian people have severely suffered from climate change. We do not need any more coal fired power plant that will not only exacerbate the climate but will also take livelihoods of the small farmers and fishers that depend on their land and sea to continue their lives. We urge Japan government to stop making profits out of the suffering of Indonesian people, withdraw its financing from Batang coal plant, and shift their investment to renewable energy.”
Maura Cowley, Associate Director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy campaign said: “It’s undeniable that the momentum toward a 100 percent clean energy economy has continued to accelerate in the months since the Paris Agreement was adopted, and 175 nations, including Japan, joining together on Earth Day 2016 to sign the agreement reaffirms that the world is ready to tackle the climate crisis.
“There’s no excuse for Japan or any other developed country to continue to push for the world’s dirtiest energy source when cheaper, safer, and more modern energy sources — like wind and solar — are literally all around us.”
Shin Furuno, Divestment Campaigner at 350.org Japan said: “Among G7 countries and around the world, divestment from fossil fuels is gaining momentum. To avoid dangerous climate change, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Continuing to invest in coal and fossil fuels is risky business. Japanese financial institutions should divest from fossil fuels and re-invest in a sustainable future.”
Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?
The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?
The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.
Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.
The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.
Introducing New Technology
The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.
- To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
- Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
- Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.
How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy
Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.
The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.
The Internet of Things
Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.
Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.
It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)
The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.
4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy
Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.
However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?
A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.
1. Boulder Nissan
When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:
- Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
- They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
- Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.
This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.
2. Valley Electric Association
In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.
“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”
The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.
This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.
3. Las Vegas Casinos
A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.
“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”
There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.
4. Boston College
Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.
Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.
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