A startling report from The Lancet says that over 9 million people die annually from pollution. It further suggests that with more study this initial number may, in fact, be much higher. The Lancet researchers also say it costs the global economy over $5 trillion annually.
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To read the report, download it as a PDF file, or to find other relevant information about the report, please click here.
“Air Pollution Kills 9 Million, Costs $5 Trillion Per Year” — EcoWatch
“The world’s ‘Number One killer’ a new study says, causing more premature deaths than war, terrorism, natural disasters, cigarettes and disease.” — Voice of America
“In 2015, nearly one in six deaths, an estimated nine million worldwide, was related to pollution in some form — air, water, soil, chemical or occupational pollution, according to a new report published Thursday in The Lancet.” — CNN
“Landmark study finds toxic air, water, soils and workplaces kill at least 9m people and cost trillions of dollars every year. The deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.” — The Guardian
“Genon K. Jensen, the executive director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), welcomed the report and said it “shows we have the necessary data to address this problem and more importantly, that we can win”. — Euractive
“My colleagues and I knew that pollution killed a lot of people. But we certainly did not have any idea of the total magnitude.” Philip Landrigan, dean of global health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and co-chair of the commission — National Post
“Pollution is linked to about 9 million deaths each year — three times as many deaths as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined — according to a new large report published in The Lancet. It says pollution played a role in one in six of all deaths across the globe in 2015.” — CBS News
Google will hit 100% renewable energy milestone in 2017
It was back in 2007 when Google first announced their intention to pursue a 100% renewable energy program, and since then the firm has driven with steely-eyed determination towards its clean energy targets.
It’s especially gratifying to understand this when you consider Google’s global operations use as much electricity as the entire city of San Francisco. Some 2.6 GigaWatts of electrical demand are required by Google Inc. worldwide — all of it produced by wind and solar.
Google also has plenty of experimental renewable energy projects on the go, including a promising ocean wave energy programme that is light-years ahead of similar projects — and their version of this hopeful technology seems to be an economically viable method of collecting clean energy from the ocean — which it does without harming the local sea life. Which makes ocean wave energy much more valuable than tidal energy which mounts huge propellers on the seafloor.
The company continues to dramatically increase the level of energy efficiency in it’s office buildings and data centres concomitant with it’s decade-long drive towards 100% renewable energy.
Not only has it pioneered the way that corporations incorporate renewable energy into their operations, it has changed the entire utility industry model with novel Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) terms.
Alphabet (Google’s parent company) has helped millions of energy consumers to become aware of their personal carbon footprint and lower their energy bills by 18% on average via the Nest Thermostat which has saved more than (as of December 31, 2016) some 10 billion kWh combined — enough energy to power all of San Francisco for more than 21 months.
Google has recently created Earth Outreach, a realtime planetary dashboard to predict and analyze solutions for farmers, to help us understand geological events as they occur, to enhance political borders and study biological boundaries from space, and so much more. This amazing resource hasn’t begun to reach it’s full potential.
Like email a generation ago, which people thought of as a simple form of text communication to be used by academics and speechwriters — yet look at what has happened to email since the first message was sent via the ‘information superhighway’. Kinda takes you back in time, doesn’t it? Anyway, Earth Outreach will follow a similar growth curve to the explosive growth of email, and in a few years Google Moon Outreach and Google Mars Outreach will become the biggest thing in the world since, well, email.
Whatever you’re doing right now isn’t as important as reading Google’s brilliant and viewer-friendly report, click here to read some truly inspiring news.
What is Merit Order ranking?
Merit Order is a ranking system used by electric utilities to choose the most cost-effective electricity to add to the grid at any given moment.
Thanks to the magic of computerization, microprocessors make thousands of decisions per day based on parameters set by the utility company to help the utility to make the highest profits — based on ‘the spread’ — the difference between what they pay energy producers (the wholesale price) and the price they charge their customers (the retail price).
The cheapest electricity on a per kilowatt per hours basis (kW/h) is always solar and wind power which has a merit order ranking of 0 (Merit Order 0) which makes wind and solar the automatic default for utility companies that take every bit of it they can get — and only then do they add power to the grid from the number 1 ranked energy source (Merit Order 1) which in the United States, is coal.
Coal would still be the default energy producer as it was for decades, but because coal has a fuel cost attached to it while solar and wind power don’t, coal ranks lower on the merit order ranking scale. Other electricity generators hold different positions on the merit order ranking scale, with natural gas ‘peaking power plants’ the absolute last choice for utility companies because the per kW/h cost of electricity generated by natural gas gas peaking power plants is so high compared to other energy producers.
The German Merit Order ranking system offers an easy explanation
In the German example, electricity rates are determined hourly and customers are charged the corresponding hourly rate.
For our purposes to explain merit order ranking, this works well. In Germany electricity rates drop by up to 40% during the hours in which solar or wind are active, and this is what Merit Order ranking is all about; Using the cheapest available electricity FIRST — and then filling the gaps with more expensive electrical power generators after all the solar and wind capacity is brought online.
Solar and wind electricity in Germany are rated at Merit Order 0 making them the default for utility companies as they meet their daily demand.
Once all of the available solar and wind capacity is online, only then are, (1) nuclear, (2) coal, and (3) natural gas, ramped up to meet the daily German demand curve.
NOTE: In the U.S. the normal Merit Order rankings are; default (0) for solar and wind, (1) coal, (2) nuclear, (3) hydropower, and (4) natural gas, although this order can change in some parts of the United States, depending which types of energy are produced in a given region.
Still using the German example; The Fraunhofer Institute found – as far back as 2007 – that as a result of the Merit Order ranking system – solar power had reduced the price of electricity on the EPEX exchange by 10 percent on the average, with reductions peaking at up to 40 percent in the early afternoon when the most solar power is generated.
Here’s how the Merit Order works
All available sources of electrical generation are ranked by their marginal costs, from cheapest to most expensive, with the cheapest having the most merit.
The marginal cost is the cost of producing one additional unit of electricity. Electricity sources with a higher fuel cost have a higher marginal cost. If one unit of fuel costs $X, 2 units will cost $X times 2. This ranking is called the order of merit of each source, or the Merit Order.
Using Merit Order to decide means the source with the lowest marginal cost must be used first when there is a need to add more power to the grid – like during sunny afternoon peak hours.
Using the lowest marginal costs first was designed so that cheaper fuels were used first to save consumers money. In the German market, this was nuclear, then coal, then natural gas.
But 2 hours of sunshine cost no more than 1 of sunshine: therefore it has a lower marginal cost than coal – or any source with any fuel cost whatsoever.
So, under the Merit Order ranking of relative marginal costs, devised before there was this much fuel-free energy available on the grid, solar always has the lowest marginal cost during these peaks because two units of solar is no more expensive than one. — Susan Kraemer
It’s as simple as this; With no fuel costs, solar and wind cost less.
Although solar and wind are expensive to construct initially (but not as expensive as large nuclear power plants, large coal power plants, or large hydro-electric dams) there is no fuel price to pay, no weather-related price spikes, fuel transportation costs, fuel supply disruptions, or lack of rainfall to factor into the final electricity price.
As solar panel and wind turbine prices continue to drop thereby encouraging more solar and wind installations, we’ll hear more about Merit Order ranking.
Only solar, wind, hydro-electric and nuclear power have a predictable kW/h price every day of the year. Coal, home heating fuel and natural gas, do not. And that’s everything to energy producers and their customers, the utility companies.
Although energy companies and utilities were slower than consumers to embrace renewable energy, some are now seeing benefit for their business model and henceforth, things will change.
Buckle up, because big changes are coming to the existing utility business model, changes that will benefit energy producers, energy consumers and the environment.
- The Variability of Renewable and Non-renewable energy (JBS News)