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Europe Could Power The Entire World With Onshore Wind Farms Alone

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Europe Could Power The Entire World With Onshore Wind Farms Alone
Photo Credit: West Wind Energy

When it comes to harnessing renewable wind energy, the European Union is not even close to reaching its full potential, according to a new study.

If a wind turbine was placed on every suitable spot of land, research shows it could provide more than 100 times the wind energy currently produced on shore. Calculated at more than 11 million additional turbines, that would be enough to power the entire world between now and 2050.

“Obviously, we are not saying that we should install turbines in all the identified sites,” says Benjamin Sovacool, an expert in energy policy at the University of Sussex.

“But the study does show the huge wind power potential right across Europe which needs to be harnessed if we’re to avert a climate catastrophe.”

Today, the EU is a leader in wind energy output, and together its onshore and offshore turbines make up nearly a third of the world’s total wind capacity. The European Commission has promised that by 2050, at least 100,000 more wind turbines will be either updated or added.

But the new findings push the potential ceiling much higher, even when excluding offshore wind farms.

Going nation by nation, and using an advanced system of wind atlases, researchers sought to answer one critical question: How much wind power potential does Europe have?

A map showing the power density potential for each European country (University of Sussex / Aarhus University)

Taking into account infrastructure, built up areas, and protected areas, the authors found suitable lands with favourable wind speeds in 46% of Europe’s territory. That’s almost 5 million square kilometres, and nearly 500 exajoules of power – about 70 more exajoules than the world will need in 2050.

To be clear, this estimate is wide-ranging. The research did not look at site-specific limitations, public acceptance, or whether the land was privately owned; it only highlighted the areas suitable for current wind technology. As such, the authors say it’s just a guide for policy, not a blueprint for development.

Nevertheless, compared to previous estimates, this is one of the most detailed insights yet into Europe’s future wind potential. Using advanced GIS data at national and sub-national levels, the authors have blown other estimates out of the water. In 2009, for instance, the European Environment Agency calculated an onshore wind potential three times smaller.

Apart from improved resolution, such a huge discrepancy may have to do with different definitions of ‘suitable land’ or new technology. In the ten years since the earlier report was published, wind power capacity has tripled across the US as prices drop and wind turbine efficiency improves.

A different study, published just last month by German researchers, estimates that wind farms can only be built on roughly a quarter of Europe’s land. This is more similar to past estimates, but by taking new turbine technology into account, researchers have calculated a much greater wind energy output.

In the end, these studies are all hypothetical and they each come with their limitations. Yet despite the European Union’s recent interest in wind power, it is clear that there is plenty more room for growth.

“Critics will no doubt argue that the naturally intermittent supply of wind makes onshore wind energy unsuitable to meet the global demand,” says Peter Enevoldsen who researchers wind energy at Aarhus University.

“But even without accounting for developments in wind turbine technology in the upcoming decades, onshore wind power is the cheapest mature source of renewable energy.”

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The findings have been published in Energy Policy.

This article was written by Carly Cassella for Science Alert where it was originally published and has been republished under Creative Commons.

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Norway Becomes First Country To Ban Palm Oil-Based Biofuel

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Photo Credit: Getty

Norway made history this month when the nation’s parliament announced plans to ban Palm oil-based biofuels. The decision was made as an effort to protect Indonesian rainforests, which are being destructed and destroyed to plant more plantations for palm. 

As a result of the ban, biofuel industries in Norway will have until 2020 to phase out the use of palm oil. According to the non-profit Rainforest Rescue — which acts to preserve rainforests, protect its inhabitants, and further social reforms worldwide — 61% of the 7.7 million tons of palm oil consumed in Europe last year was used on energy (biofuel, power, and heat), while the remaining 39% was used on food, animal feed, and chemical products. 

Despite the biofuel ruling, palm oil will still be permitted in food and cosmetic (and other non-energy) items; however, the European Union is hopefully working towards a 2030 deadline that will phase out other palm oil products, with hopes that other countries will institute their own bans again palm oil-based biofuels, like Norway has. 

As Nils Hermann Ranum of the Rainforest Foundation Norway said in a statement, “The Norwegian Parliament’s decision sets an important example to other countries and demonstrates the need for a serious reform of the world’s palm oil industry.”

Though the latest ruling is an important one, it was not necessarily an easy one; the majority vote by Parliament came after many years of discussion, and a vote last year to stop the government from purchasing palm oil for biofuel. 

As Rainforest Rescue has explained, the demand for palm oil plantations has had catastrophic consequences for animals and humans alike; the destruction of the rainforest in Southeast Asia in order to make room for the plantations has released vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere (so much so that in 2015, Indonesia — the largest producer of palm oil — temporarily surpassed the United States in terms of greenhouse gas emissions). The clearing of the rainforest has been problematic for the animals that have lost their habitats as well, with species such as orangutans, Borneo elephant, and Sumatran tigers are being pushed closer to extinction. 

And, as Rainforest Foundation Norway put it, this is more than just a win for Norway; the group said in a statement, “This is a victory in the fight for the rainforest and the climate.”

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Mainstream Media Finally Admits Legal Hemp Is The Answer To Dependency On Big Oil

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Photo Credit: TFTP

Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project

Because government is the antithesis to freedom, industrial hemp has been banned nationwide since 1937 ostensibly due to the plant’s similarities to marijuana. Many have speculated that this move was also due to the fact that cannabis is in direct competition with the pharmaceutical industry by providing far safer alternative treatments as well as directly competing with the petrochemical industry. However, all this changed in December after President Donald Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement act of 2018, legalizing industrial hemp on a national scale.

Despite this move, law enforcement across the country continues to go after entirely legal businesses for selling this THC-free version of the cannabis plant. However, they are quickly being exposed for the tyrants that they are. Even the mainstream media—that have long suppressed and ignored the benefits of the hemp plant—are now forced to cover its benefits.

In an article out of Forbes this week, titled, “Industrial Hemp Is The Answer To Petrochemical Dependency,” the case is made for an environmentally friendly solution to the monopoly the petrochemical industry has had over fuel and plastics.

As Forbes reports, “our dependency on petrochemicals has proven hard to overcome, largely because these materials are as versatile as they are volatile. From fuel to plastics to textiles to paper to packaging to construction materials to cleaning supplies, petroleum-based products are critical to our industrial infrastructure and way of life.”

But all this is now changing. Thanks to the many states that chose to disobey hemp prohibition, the federal government was forced to legalize it nationally.

As Forbes points out:

“The crop can be used to make everything from biodegradable plastic to construction materials like flooring, siding, drywall and insulation to paper to clothing to soap to biofuels made from hemp seeds and stalks. Porsche is even using hemp-based material in the body of its 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport track car to reduce the weight while maintaining rigidity and safety.”

The shift from petrochemical dependency to a sustainable model of hemp production is not only going to help remove the world’s dependency on big oil, but it is a necessity if we are going to maintain a healthy planet.

Right now, one garbage truck of plastic is being dumped into the ocean every minute.

This disturbing reality is underscored by the recent discovery of another giant patch of plastic—bigger than Mexico—floating in the South Pacific Sea. It was discovered by Captain Charles Moore, who found the North Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997.

One million seabirds die each year from ingesting plastic, and up to 90 percent have plastic in their guts. Microplastic (resulting from the breakdown of larger pieces by sunlight and waves) and microbeads (used in body washes and facial cleansers) are the ocean’s smog. They absorb toxins in the water and enter the food chain, from the smallest plankton to the largest whales, as well as humans.

Lawmakers unable to see past the act of scribbling on legal paper to solve problems have been suppressing the ability of humankind to free themselves from this problem with free market solutions like hemp. Instead of pushing to legalize hemp and help to cultivate infrastructure that would boost its production, states like California moved to make straws illegal. Nice work Cali.

Plastic in the ocean is a very real danger to the environment and all life on the planet. But, are waiters and straws responsible? Should they be thrown in jail for offering a customer a straw with their iced tea?

No, and anyone who supports such tyranny does more to hinder the progress of humanity than any waiter giving a customer a staw ever would. In fact, government created the plastics problem in the first place by banning hemp.

There are solutions—outside of the police state.

Hemp, one of the most useful plants on the planet, has thousands of applications, including making plastic that is biodegradable and non-toxic.

Fuel is an option as well. In fact, the first cars were initially built to run on ethanol, or alcohol, which could also be derived from hemp. Henry Ford even famously designed a car model that ran on hemp fuel and was partially built with hemp as well.

Because of government however, alcohol and cannabis prohibition made it impossible for these types of engines to be on the market, so the industry turned to gas and oil, which has had devastating consequences for the environment in just the last century.

Now, it appears that this paradigm is shifting. It will, however, take some time.

As Forbes notes, because prohibition has been in place for so long, the infrastructure needed to make a revolutionary change to the market is simply not there yet.

“This infrastructural vacuum has created challenges around everything from seed genetics to planting to irrigation to harvesting to processing to pricing to distribution.

***

While the trends favour hemp, they are unlikely to allow industrial hemp to out produce or outcompete petrochemical products any time soon. Nevertheless, the growing understanding of, interest in and infrastructure for hemp will certainly allow it to have a permanent place in our economy, one that will contribute to a greener, healthier world.”

And just like that, we see how fewer laws—not more—pave the way for sustainable innovation and environmental efficiency.

About the Author

Matt Agorist is an honourably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds.

This article (Mainstream Media Finally Admits Legal Hemp is the Answer to Dependency on Big Oil) was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is re-posted under Creative Commons.

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Here Comes Hemp: Congress Votes To Unleash A Billion-Dollar Industry

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Photo Credit: Getty

Phillip Smith, Drug Reporter

The Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday gave final approval to the massive 2018 Farm Bill, including a provision that will end an eight-decade ban on industrial hemp, that non-psychoactive but extremely useful member of the cannabis family. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

Even though you could smoke a hemp joint the size of a telephone pole and get nothing more than a cough and a headache, for decades the DEA has refused to recognize any distinction between hemp and marijuana that gets you high. That meant that American farmers could not legally produce hemp for a hemp products industry worth $820 million last year and expected to break the billion-dollar mark this year.

That’s right: Thanks to a federal court case brought against the DEA more than a decade ago, farmers in countries where hemp is legal can export it to the U.S., and companies in the U.S. can turn that hemp into a variety of products ranging from foods to clothing to auto body parts to building materials and beyond, but U.S. farmers can’t grow it. That’s about to change.

For too long, the outrageous and outdated ban on growing hemp has hamstrung farmers in Oregon and across the country,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). “Hemp products are made in America, sold in America, and consumed in America. Now, hemp will be able to be legally grown in America, to the economic benefit of consumers and farmers in Oregon and nationwide.”

Wyden and fellow Oregonian Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) teamed up with Kentucky Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell to sponsor the bill and guide it through Congress. McConnell’s role as Senate Majority Leader certainly didn’t hurt the bill’s prospects.

As well as guiding the bill forward, McConnell took to the Senate floor on various occasions to support it. In his statement on the passage of the farm bill, he touted “the new opportunities available with the full legalization of industrial hemp.”

Finally we are recognizing industrial hemp for the agricultural product it is,” Merkley said. “This is a cash crop that hasn’t been allowed to meet its full economic potential because of outdated restrictions. When I visited a hemp farm mid-harvest, I saw first-hand the enormous potential of this diverse crop under the limited 2014 farm bill. This full legalization provides economic opportunity for farmers across rural Oregon and rural America—good for jobs, good for our communities, and just good common sense.”

The bill defines hemp as cannabis with 0.3 percent THC or less by dry weight and removes it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Regulatory authority over hemp moves from the DEA to the Agriculture Department. The definition of hemp in the bill includes all parts of the plant and specifically lists cannabinoids, including CBD, that are removed from control of the CSA. The bill also includes funding and authorization for research and authorizes crop insurance for hemp farmers.

The inclusion of CBD has the potential of greatly expanding the size of the legal hemp industry. Hemp-based CBD wellness products—a category that didn’t exist five years ago—already account for nearly a quarter of the domestic hemp market, and the Hemp Business Journal predicts they will account for nearly $650 million worth of sales by 2022, becoming the single largest sector of the hemp market.

It’s been more than 40 years since Jack Herer ignited the marijuana movement’s interest in hemp with The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy. Herer is long gone—he died at age 70 in 2010—but the movement he launched has now reached the promised land. The single most ridiculously unjustifiable aspect of federal marijuana prohibition has been killed; now it’s time to finish the job by ending federal marijuana prohibition.

About the Author

Phillip Smith writes for Drug Reporter, a project of the Independent Media Institute, and where this article was originally featured.

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Heineken Replaces Plastic Rings And Shrink Wrap With Cardboard

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Heineken
West Wind Heineken

Plastic pack rings, also known as hi-cones or yokes, are a standard packaging device used around the globe for more than 50 years already. These rings are used to hold together multipacks of canned drinks, particularly beer. They have profoundly contributed to the growing amount of plastic pollution in the oceans and are a significant threat to marine life.

Thankfully, Heineken is closing its doors to single-use plastic rings and shrink wrap from billions of multipack cans. Now, the company is replacing all of the plastic with eco-friendly cardboard!

A spokeswoman from the Marine Conservation Society said:

“This is an interesting development (from Heineken) and will help cut down the amount of plastic on our beaches and in our seas. These kinds of can yokes are regularly found on our beach cleans.”

Eliminating Plastic Packaging
The packaging has a finger hole to make it easier to carry the multipack. Photo credit: Heineken
The packaging has a finger hole to make it easier to carry the multipack. Photo credit: Heineken

These new can holders are made of recycled cardboard and are strong enough to take on the weight of a multipack. Heineken’s adoption of this cardboard alternative will lead to over 517 tones of plastic eliminated from the packaging of its brands.

The Dutch company has already invested £22m in new technology and production facilities at their sites in the UK. By April 2020, these sites should be ready to start rolling out the changes across the company’s most popular brands, including Heineken, Foster’s, and Kronenbourg 1664. Following after, all its other brands in multipack cans will change to the new material as well, such as Strongbow, Bulmer’s, Red Stripe, and John Smith’s. The company aims to accomplish this all by the end of 2021.

Out of the brewer’s 190 world markets, the UK is the first to introduce this new packaging. This change is a big step towards a less polluted future. The UK produces 530 million cans per year across all its brands; among these, Foster’s accounts for 150 million and Heineken 39.5 million.

The Demand For An Eco Alternative
Photo credit: Heineken
Photo Credit: Heineken

After BBC One’s Blue Planet II series highlighted marine litter, the majority of the public has backlashed over plastic packaging. The public’s reaction has prompted manufacturers and supermarkets to take action and convert to eco-friendly products.

The head of marketing at Heineken, Cindy Tervoort, said:

“It’s what our customers want and expect, and we have been working on and testing this innovation for three years.”

Additionally, Heineken claims that with the introduction of their new eco-friendly materials, carbon emissions associated with producing multipack cans will be cut by one third.

Other Brewers Finding Alternatives

In 2018, Carlsberg announced plans about replacing their rings with recyclable glue. Diegeo started to phase out plastic packaging from multipacks of its Guinness, Harp, Rockshore, and Smithwick’s beers and replaced it with cardboard packs.

In September 2019, Budweiser said that by the end of 2020, it would remove all single-use plastic pack rings from its entire selection of UK produced beer. This selection includes Budweiser’s bestselling brands such as Stella Artois, Budweiser, and Bud Light.

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