Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.
Addressing the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres discussed the importance of businesses in delivering on the world’s climate objectives, mentioning “The best allies of all those that want to make sure that the Paris Agreement is implemented, the best allies today in the world are probably in the business sector and it is very important to fully mobilise them”. This message was received by many around the world to be a message of unity, and one that can only bring about even more positive change.
One thing that all businesses have in common is a need for finance. Whether this is as a source of funds or for transactional reasons, finance or commerce is an essential component of doing business. Our next set of articles examines the growth in green finance and how this is being led by developing nations. Wireless transactions using mobile phones supplemented by a willingness of financial institutions to lend, provide credit and make business payments is transforming developing economies.
This is very evident in places like Kenya, where 82% of the adult population own a mobile phone. In 2015, the Kenyan M-Pesa application platform was responsible for $28 billion in transactions, representing 44% of Kenya’s GDP. It is also evident in China, where the Ant Financial platform (equivalent of PayPal) has around 450 million active users handling 58% of all e-commerce payments.
In August 2016 the Ant platform released a carbon emissions calculation and offset feature within its Alipay application. The application calculates the amount of emissions prevented through making online transactions or other sustainable activity such as taking public transport. Once a user has accumulated sufficient reductions, Ant’s partner organisations plant a real tree in Inner Mongolia. In only three months the 72 million users have obligated Ant to plant 1.5 million trees, with 520,000 trees actually planted so far.
In many ways, China is leading the world with progressive ideas and the development of renewable generation, for example, ensuring that the G20 started to address sustainability as part of its global financial architecture. Other examples include the construction of the world’s largest PV solar park, accelerating the use of electric vehicles and exhibiting global leadership for addressing climate change.
As the Chinese Premier Xi recently stated “Our response to climate change bears on the future of our people and the wellbeing of mankind”. He also said “I don’t care what Mr Trump says – I don’t understand it and I don’t care about it. I think what he says is nonsense”. So apparently do a group of conservation scientists, who have launched a humorous competition to submit photos of an egg frying on the sidewalk in order to ‘eggsplain’ to President Trump that climate change is a real and dangerous problem.
The market shifts towards disruptive technologies around the world is becoming more and more evident as time goes on. The growth in these sustainable industries are having profound consequences on the fossil fuel industry. A report published earlier this year suggests that these disruptive technologies have the potential to halt worldwide growth in fossil fuels by 2020. The report mentions the possibility of polluting fuels giving up a 10% market share to solar and EVs. This kind of movement is not showing any signs of slowing, and reports like this reinforce that.
With the rise in interest in renewable energy globally and the rise in EVs on the roads, grid instability is a serious concern. Germany is leading the way with solutions based on large grid-scale battery storage. A recent report suggests that Germany is expected to increase their storage threefold, from 60 MW to over 200MW in 2017, and increase eleven-fold by 2021. Perhaps 2017 will become the year of the battery.
“Life in post flying Australia and why it might be okay”. This article is a look at the way we are currently doing things, and some alternative ideas on how nations may have to consider ideas out of left field, in order to kerb current emission outputs which are a direct threat to how we live day to day.
Interestingly enough, this article was a topic of hot debate. Possibly it is because we are used to business as usual or living life in the same vain. Unfortunately change is inevitable and sometimes necessary, so articles like this help present a ‘different’ point of view. Some of the ideas seem perfectly acceptable whilst others may seem difficult to justify. It makes you think about the way we currently live and how things may ‘have’ to change in order to have a future!
We finish up with a look at Earth. While most water is thought to have arrived from water rich comets, meteorites and asteroids, Earth itself is capable of making water, many kilometres below the earth’s crust. A simple reaction takes place at about 1400°C and pressures 20,000 times higher than atmospheric pressure as silica, or silicon dioxide, reacts with liquid hydrogen to form liquid water and silicon hydride. It is believed that through this water making process the extreme release of high pressure may act as a trigger of earthquakes.
Although this is an incredible discovery, it is still believed that most of Earth’s water did come from ice rich comets.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and we look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.