We live in terrifying times, my friends. There’s a lot of bad going on right now, both in the world, and in many of our personal lives. There’s real reason to be worried about the future, but as ever, it’s not all bad. Mexie is here with her much-needed positive news roundup for those who want a better future for humans around the globe, and the rest of the life with which we share our planet (sources on Youtube):
Honestly a lot of this stuff is encouraging or downright inspiring. It’s especially nice to see the Dakota Access pipeline being ordered to shut down. The fight against that has been long, and bloody, with Democratic and Republican “leaders” united in their willingness to brutalize Native Americans and their allies in service of the oil industry. I often say that many of the advances humanity has made in the last couple centuries have come from fighting against capitalism, rather than because of capitalism (as many in the U.S. like to pretend), and it’s nice to see people who put their bodies on the line win a victory for all of humanity. We owe the Water Protectors a great deal.
I’d like to add a couple other positive news stories relating to climate change and energy in particular:
First up, offshore wind energy continues to get cheaper. While more needs to be done to limit the environmental damage done by wind farms and the manufacturing of wind turbines, they’re certainly an upgrade from fossil fuels, and it’s good to see wind power increasing, even in a world where capitalist profit is valued over the habitability of the planet.
One reason the price of offshore wind has fallen so rapidly is technology development, in particular the ability to build larger wind turbines further out at sea. Larger turbines can harness more wind energy and have access to more consistent wind speeds at higher altitudes.
The biggest wind turbines under construction have rotor diameters of 220 metres — twice the diameter of the London Eye. At the same time, wind farms are getting larger; the newest wind farm at Dogger Bank has the same installed capacity as Hinkley Point C and is expected to produce about two-thirds of its annual electricity.
The success of UK offshore windfarms, which are now primarily built in the Dogger Bank region of the North Sea, also means the UK has considerable skills and expertise than can be exported around the world.
The researchers also say this success means even more ambitious projects may now be attempted at offshore wind farms, such as producing hydrogen fuels using the wind power on site, out at sea. Hydrogen fuels could be another key technology in helping decarbonise the UK, by replacing petrol used in transportation and natural gas used for heating homes.
On my move out here last summer, it was a delight to see so many wind turbines in Germany, The Netherlands, England, and Scotland. I’m glad to hear that trend is continuing.
Next up, a new study indicates that as we continue researching and implementing photovoltaic solar panels, we’re able to make them last longer.
After correcting for variations in weather and curtailment, the group found, on average, the first-year performance of these systems was largely as expected, and that newer projects have degraded at a slower rate than older ones. This suggests photovoltaics technology has improved over time. Interestingly, they also confirmed that projects in hotter climates tend to degrade faster than those in cooler climates.
Longer-lasting solar panels, and a better understanding of what we can expect from each panel over its lifetime, both contribute to photovoltaics as a reliable source of power. A longer lifespan also reduces the amount of silicon extraction and processing needed for a given amount of energy over time.
I want to express my gratitude to my patrons, whose support continues to encourage me to write, and to help make ends meet in these turbulent times. None of us expected the current pandemic to upend everything like it has, and my patrons are the only reason I’ve been able to make ends meet in recent months. That said, I’m still not breaking even. If you would like to support my work, earn my undying gratitude, and feel able to contribute a dollar or two per month, you can do so at patreon.com/oceanoxia. Every bit helps!