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California went big on rooftop solar. Now that’s a problem for landfills

California went big on rooftop solar. Now that’s a problem for landfills

Illustration of solar panels discarded into large piles with the sky behind them.
Solar panels purchased for home use under incentive programs many years ago are nearing the end of their life cycle. Many are already winding up in landfills. (Jim Cooke / Los Angeles Times)

California has been a pioneer in pushing for rooftop solar power, building up the largest solar market in the U.S. More than 20 years and 1.3 million rooftops later, the bill is coming due.

Beginning in 2006, the state, focused on how to incentivize people to take up solar power, showered subsidies on homeowners who installed photovoltaic panels but had no comprehensive plan to dispose of them. Now, panels purchased under those programs are nearing the end of their typical 25-to-30-year life cycle.

Many are already winding up in landfills, where in some cases, they could potentially contaminate groundwater with toxic heavy metals such as lead, selenium and cadmium.

Sam Vanderhoof, a solar industry expert and chief executive of Recycle PV Solar, says that only 1 in 10 panels are actually recycled, according to estimates drawn from International Renewable Energy Agency data on decommissioned panels and from industry leaders.

The looming challenge over how to handle truckloads of waste, some of it contaminated, illustrates how cutting-edge environmental policy can create unforeseen problems down the road.

“The industry is supposed to be green,” Vanderhoof said. “But in reality, it’s all about the money.”

California came early to solar power. Small governmental rebates did little to bring down the price of solar panels or to encourage their adoption until 2006, when the California Public Utilities Commission formed the California Solar Initiative. That granted $3.3 billion in subsidies for installing solar panels on rooftops.

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Oil turbulence could last five years, ExxonMobil boss warns

Oil turbulence could last five years, ExxonMobil boss warns

Consumers must be prepared to endure up to five years of turbulent oil markets, the head of ExxonMobil said Tuesday, citing under-investment and the coronavirus pandemic.

Energy markets have been roiled by the Ukraine war as Russia has reduced some exports and faced sanctions while Europe has announced plans to wean itself off dependency on Russian fossil fuels in coming years.

Speaking ahead of ExxonMobil’s unveiling as the fourth international partner for Qatar’s natural gas expansion, chairman and chief executive Darren Woods said major uncertainty lies ahead.

“You are probably looking at three to five years of continued fairly tight markets,” Woods told the Qatar Economic Forum. “How that manifests itself in price will obviously be a big function of demand, which is difficult to predict.”

On top of under-investment in finding new oil sources in 2014-2015, Woods said the pandemic “really sucked a lot of revenues out of the industry”.

Woods said companies and governments needed to think long-term. “We are going to see a lot of volatility and discontinuity in the market place if we don’t get to more thoughtful policies,” he predicted.

Representatives from the Middle East energy industry also renewed calls for better planning in consumer countries.

Sheikh Nawaf Saud al-Sabah, chief executive of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, said the company was supplying all customers, but that multinational oil firms were not matching the investment of national oil enterprises.

– ‘Tremendous disruption’ –

As part of the Gulf state’s response, Kuwait was starting its first offshore oil exploration and building the world’s biggest oil refinery.

“We have never touched the offshore in Kuwait. The first offshore drill rig arrived in Kuwait a week ago and will start soon,” he said.

The new refinery would come online by the end of 2022, Sabah added.

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U.S. Midwest may have summer power shortages for years

U.S. Midwest may have summer power shortages for years

June 10 (Reuters) – The power grid operator in the Central United States warned on Friday that problems it may experience keeping the lights on this summer could also occur during the summers of 2023, 2024 and beyond.

The region’s grid operator, Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), has already warned of potential capacity shortfalls and other reliability concerns in parts of its territory this summer.

The northern and central regions are at “increased risk of temporary, controlled outages to preserve the integrity of the bulk electric system,” MISO has said.

MISO operates the grid for some 42 million people in 15 U.S. central states from Minnesota to Louisiana and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

On Friday, MISO released a survey showing it could have a potential capacity deficit of 2.6 gigawatts (GW) during the summer of 2023 depending on market responses over the next year.

One gigawatt can power about a million U.S. homes on average, but as little as 200,000 on a hot summer day.

MISO’s biggest problem is that demand was rising at the same time generation resources have declined due mostly to the retirement of coal and nuclear plants for economic or environmental reasons.

MISO said it may only have 119 GW of power resources available this summer to meet a projected peak demand of 124 GW.

For 2024 and beyond, MISO said “the capacity deficits are projected to widen … due to declining committed capacity and modestly growing demand.”

MISO officials were not immediately available to say what the grid would do to fix this problem.

Sarah Freeman, president of the Organization of MISO States and commissioner with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, said in a statement: “States stand ready to work with MISO … to maintain reliability and resilience throughout this significant resource transformation.”

Truckers warn skyrocketing diesel prices are making US supply-chain and trucking industry unsustainable

Truckers warn skyrocketing diesel prices are making US supply-chain and trucking industry unsustainable

Truck passes  sign at Flying J Truck Stop in Pearl, Miss., Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
Truck passes sign at Flying J Truck Stop in Pearl, Miss., in April. The trucking industry offsets diesel prices through a fuel surcharge, which is calculated through a base rate that is usually added to a shipper’s freight bill.AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
  • Truckers are sounding the alarm on skyrocketing diesel prices.
  • A trucking company owner went viral after warning prices could cause major supply-chain issues.
  • Truckers told Insider they’ve had to take loads at a loss and are considering leaving the industry.

A Facebook post from the owner of a Texas trucking company went viral last week after he warned that skyrocketing diesel prices could have longterm consequences for the US supply-chain.

Austin Smith, owner of Iron River Express, said it has cost him over $20,000 a week to keep his three trucks running.

“If something drastic doesn’t change in the next few weeks/months, I promise you, you’ll see empty shelves everywhere you look,” Smith wrote in a post that was shared nearly 290,000 times. “You’ll see chaos as people fight for the basic necessities of everyday life.”

Smith did not respond to a request for comment from Insider in time for publication.

Insider spoke with five truckers who warned that the industry could be at a breaking point. The drivers say they’ve had to get creative in recent months as they work to turn a profit while spending thousands at the pump.

Richard Resek, a trucker based out of ports in New York and New Jersey, told Insider he’s turning off his truck and rolling down his window instead of using air conditioning during long summer nights. He also plots out gas stations with the cheapest fuel prices.

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Pioneer CEO Sheffield Warns U.S. Shale Is Unable to Grow Much More

(Bloomberg) — U.S. shale lacks the capacity to come to the rescue of consumers battling sky-high energy prices with much more crude production, says the boss of the Permian Basin’s biggest oil explorer.

Only OPEC countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have the ability to meaningfully increase production fast in the wake of supply shortages, Pioneer Chief Executive Officer Scott Sheffield said on Bloomberg TV. U.S. shale, the world’s oil growth engine for the past decade, is constrained by labor shortages and demands by shareholders to return cash, he said.

“Several other producers are having trouble getting frack crews, they’re having trouble getting labor and they’re having trouble getting sand; that’s going to keep anybody from growing,” Sheffield said. “If the president wants us to grow, I just don’t think the industry can grow anyway.”

Surging oil prices that many on Wall Street now expect to reach $100 a barrel have been a major cause of concern for governments confronting voter discontent over a higher cost of living. Most notably, U.S. President Joe Biden, has criticized American drillers for not producing more and has released crude from strategic reserves in a bid to ease gasoline prices at the pump.

Also See: Permian Roughneck Shortage Clouds Outlook for Oil Output Growth

Crude prices have surged 40% since early December to more than $90 a barrel as rising global demand and geopolitical concerns increase due to tensions between Russia and Ukraine. But don’t expect U.S. shale to increase production to ease shortages, Sheffield said.

“If Russian oil is sanctioned, or if Russia decides to stop exporting, then it’s going to be up to the Saudis and UAE to decide whether to break the pact and increase production,” he said.

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Exclusive: Sea Shepherd founder warns destruction of planet ‘out of control’

Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson has warned human destruction of ecosystems is “out of control” and impacting us as a species.

“This is not about saving planet Earth,” he said in an exclusive interview with Yahoo News Australia.

“This is about saving ourselves from ourselves.”

Describing the world as “completely out of balance”, the veteran environmental campaigner argues that humans need to realise they are dependent on other species for survival.

A screenshot of Paul Watson on Zoom. His office can be seen in the background.
Captain Paul Watson spoke to Yahoo News Australia via Zoom from his base in New York City. Source: Michael Dahlstrom

Covid-19 a sign of worse to come warns Sea Shepherd founder

On Captain Watson’s mind right now is the survival of the tiny phytoplankton which live in our oceans – organisms most people have never heard of.

The diverse group of microorganisms play a role as significant as forests in transforming the planet’s carbon dioxide into oxygen and are the basis of ocean food webs.

Life on Earth depends on their existence, and a small drop in number could have devastating consequences.

Scientists fear they are under threat from rising ocean temperatures.

A Japanese whaling vessel and a Sea Shepherd boat crashing into one another.
Sea Shepherd’s aggressive tactics were critical in driving Japanese whalers out of the Southern Ocean. Source: Sea Shepherd

While the decline of the oceans’ phytoplankton may be hard to see from our busy lives on land, Captain Watson points to Covid-19 as a more obvious example of human impact on the planet.

Speaking from his base in the United States, where half a million people have died from the virus, he has seen its impact first-hand.

He predicts the zoonotic coronavirus is a harbinger of worse things to come.

As the permafrost melts and forests are destroyed, he is concerned new viruses that were once locked away under ice or in the blood of animal hosts risk coming into contact with humans.

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Forget Peak Oil Demand, Supply Crisis Could be Hitting First

Forget Peak Oil Demand, Supply Crisis Could be Hitting First

In today’s IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook 2020 report, the OECD energy watchdog states that it doesn’t see a peak oil demand before 2040, only a possible oil demand flattening. The energy agency repeats that oil demand is effected by COVID, but all scenarios show that oil demand has not peaked yet. The energy agency contradicts here the views currently being proponed by BP and others that oil demand has peaked already. The report bluntly states that after recovering from the “exceptional ferocity” of the COVID-19 crisis, world oil demand will rise from 97.9 million bpd in 2019 to 104.1 million bpd in 2040.

Even that the agency acknowledges that demand has been hit and is lagging behind 2019 levels, overall demand will increase, only the increase will be slightly slower than expected. The Paris-based agency, financed by the OECD governments, and lately known as a main proponent of energy transition and renewables, expects that a slower increase of oil demand the coming years will be caused by clean transport policies and surging renewable energy. At the same time the IEA also reiterates that demand for petrochemicals and global growth of long-distance transport will be leading to a net increase of oil demand until 2040.

It needs to be reiterated that several major factors are very unsure that could have a major impact on global oil demand growth. The current assessments are all taking into account a wide range of proposed and/or signed energy transition and net-zero emission government policies.

These will have an impact if fully implemented by all. Looking at the current situation, especially due to COVID-related economic issues, renewable and emission reduction policies could however become sidelined, delayed or put on ice. The need for a revamp of the global economies is clear, but choices will be made by respective constituencies without full focus on climate change and renewables.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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