2,000 renewable energy projects shown to have negative biodiversity impact

2,000 renewable energy projects shown to have negative biodiversity impact

SOURCE: Engineering & Technology DATE: March 26, 2020 SNIP: Researchers have claimed that more than 2,000 renewable energy facilities are built in areas of environmental significance and could be negatively impacting local biodiversity. The team from the University of Queensland in Australia have mapped the location of solar, wind and hydropower facilities in wilderness, protected areas and key biodiversity areas. Lead author José Rehbein said he was alarmed by the findings: “Aside from the more than 2,200 renewable energy facilities already operating inside important biodiversity areas, another 900 are currently being built. “Energy facilities and the infrastructure around them, such as roads and increased human activity, can be incredibly damaging to the natural environment. These developments are not compatible with biodiversity conservation efforts.” The majority of renewable energy facilities in western Europe and developed nations are located in biodiverse areas. Rehbein said there is still time for developers to reconsider facilities under construction in Asia and Africa. University of Amsterdam senior author Dr James Allan said effective conservation efforts and a rapid transition to renewable energy was essential to prevent species extinctions and avoid catastrophic climate...
Who’s greener? Mine fight pits electric cars against flower

Who’s greener? Mine fight pits electric cars against flower

SOURCE: The Bellingham Herald DATE: March 7, 2020 SNIP: The rare Tiehm’s buckwheat stands less than a foot tall (30 centimeters) in Nevada’s rocky high desert, its thin, leafless stems adorned with tiny yellow flowers in spring. To the Australian company that wants to mine lithium beneath the federal land where it grows, the perennial herb is a potential roadblock to a metal badly needed for electric vehicles and the global push to reduce greenhouse gases. To environmentalists determined to halt the open pit mine, it’s a precious species that exists nowhere else in the world. The competing interests appeared to find some common ground earlier this year at the remote site about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Reno. Ioneer Ltd. has spent millions exploring the site, which it says is one of the world’s biggest undeveloped lithium-boron deposits. But the Center for Biological Diversity withdrew its lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in January after Ioneer ended its exploration activities and agreed to provide the group notice before resuming any work at Rhyolite Ridge in rural Esmeralda County. Still, Ioneer remains committed to the mine it says is expected to produce 22,000 tons (19,958 metric tonnes) of lithium carbonate needed for electric car batteries like the ones Tesla makes east of Reno, create 400 to 500 construction jobs and 300 to 400 operational jobs. And environmentalists insist the legal battle is just beginning. “The storm is brewing on the horizon,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “If you look at a map of the lithium deposits and a map of...
Feds reject removal of 4 Lower Snake River dams in key report

Feds reject removal of 4 Lower Snake River dams in key report

SOURCE: Seattle Times DATE: February 27, 2020 SNIP: Years and millions of dollars in the making, a draft federal report on hydroelectric dam operations in the Columbia Basin will not settle the decades long fight over saving imperiled salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers. Federal agencies found that taking out the dams would “provide a long-term benefit to species that spawn or rear in the mainstem Snake River habitats,” but also would have adverse impacts, including increased power costs, a rise in greenhouse gases and reduced reliability of the electric grid. The report rejects the idea of removing the dams to save endangered or threatened salmon. The removal of the dams has been a rallying cry for advocates of salmon and the endangered southern resident orcas, which rely on Columbia and Snake chinook to survive. But supporters of the dams praised the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) as an important affirmation of their value in a region increasingly placing a premium on renewable electricity. Once the report becomes final, it could face scrutiny in U.S. District Court from salmon advocates who say that the removal of the four Lower Snake dams is a key step in reviving salmon populations and boosting the survival prospects for the endangered southern resident orcas that feed on chinook. A warming climate has made both ocean conditions and the freshwater river environment tougher for the 13 species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. The four Lower Snake River dams have long been obstacles to salmon that return to spawn in streams and rivers — and to their offspring, which seek to make...
Tesla gets green light from German court to chop down trees for its new Gigafactory

Tesla gets green light from German court to chop down trees for its new Gigafactory

SOURCE: CNBC DATE: February 21, 2020 SNIP: Tesla has been given the go-ahead from a German court to cut down trees [trees that are part of a forest] for its new European factory. Though it doesn’t yet have planning permission to build the so-called Gigafactory in Brandenburg, the local government agency overseeing its intended site gave it permission to clear 91 hectares of forest land. Environmental campaigners opposed to the chopping down of trees had managed to get the higher administrative court of Berlin and Brandenburg to issue an injunction to temporarily halt the preparatory work. But the court, which oversees the region in which Tesla plans on building its new plant, on Thursday decided to throw out the injunction. The decision is “final,” the court said in a statement, paving the way for the U.S. electric car giant to resume the forest clearance. The Green League activist group in Brandenburg, which is situated south-east of Berlin, had expressed anger over the environmental impact of Tesla’s European Gigafactory. But the company said it had addressed such concerns and would replant trees to cover an area “three times the factory plot.” [Common mistake: trees do not equal a...
Wind Turbine Blades Can’t Be Recycled, So They’re Piling Up in Landfills

Wind Turbine Blades Can’t Be Recycled, So They’re Piling Up in Landfills

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: February 5, 2020 SNIP: A wind turbine’s blades can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing, so at the end of their lifespan they can’t just be hauled away. First, you need to saw through the lissome fiberglass using a diamond-encrusted industrial saw to create three pieces small enough to be strapped to a tractor-trailer. The municipal landfill in Casper, Wyoming, is the final resting place of 870 blades whose days making renewable energy have come to end. The severed fragments look like bleached whale bones nestled against one another. “That’s the end of it for this winter,” said waste technician Michael Bratvold, watching a bulldozer bury them forever in sand. “We’ll get the rest when the weather breaks this spring.” Tens of thousands of aging blades are coming down from steel towers around the world and most have nowhere to go but landfills. In the U.S. alone, about 8,000 will be removed in each of the next four years. Europe, which has been dealing with the problem longer, has about 3,800 coming down annually through at least 2022, according to BloombergNEF. It’s going to get worse: Most were built more than a decade ago, when installations were less than a fifth of what they are now. Built to withstand hurricane-force winds, the blades can’t easily be crushed, recycled or repurposed. That’s created an urgent search for alternatives in places that lack wide-open prairies. In the U.S., they go to the handful of landfills that accept them, in Lake Mills, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Casper, where they will be interred in stacks that reach...