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What it takes to be carbon neutral — for a family, a city, a country

New Washington Post series on Climate Solutions (Read more here)

  • The deliberate choice to “live small,” Purup Nohr said, is one way people can be kinder to the planet than their parents might have been.

Copenhagen is trying to become the first carbon-neutral capital by 2025 — a full 25 years before Washington and other major world cities expect they might have a shot at canceling their emissions.

Denmark’s newly elected center-left leaders are trying to turn the whole country into a showcase for how to go green without going bankrupt….

Nearly half of Danes — 47 percent — consider climate change to be the most serious problem facing the world, according to European Union polling. That’s more than double the E.U. average of 23 percent.

And yet researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology pegged the annual carbon emissions of the average Dane at 14.5 tons, above the E.U. average and reflective of the country’s wealth.

Many scientists say a two-tons-per-person annual limit will be needed to meet the 2050 goals of the Paris climate accords….

…Another major focus of the city’s efforts is how people get around. Copenhagen officials estimate that at least 75 percent of all trips must be done by foot, bike or public transportation to meet the 2025 goals…

 

Europe stores electricity in gas pipes

by Peter Fairley, Scientific American

Last month Denmark’s biggest energy firm, Ørsted, said wind farms it is proposing for the North Sea will convert some of their excess power into gas. Electricity flowing in from offshore will feed on-shore electrolysis plants that split water to produce clean-burning hydrogen, with oxygen as a by-product. That would supply a new set of customers who need energy, but not as electricity. And it would take some strain off of Europe’s power grid as it grapples with an ever-increasing share of hard-to-handle renewable power.

Turning clean electricity into energetic gases such as hydrogen or methane is an old idea that is making a comeback as renewable power generation surges. That is because gases can be stockpiled within the natural gas distribution system to cover times of weak winds and sunlight. They can also provide concentrated energy to replace fossil fuels for vehicles and industries. Although many U.S. energy experts argue that this “power-to-gas” vision may be prohibitively expensive, some of Europe’s biggest industrial firms are buying in to the idea.

European power equipment manufacturers, anticipating a wave of renewable hydrogen projects such as Ørsted’s, vowed in January that all of their gas-fired turbines will be certified by next year to run on up to 20 percent hydrogen, which burns faster than methane-rich natural gas. The natural gas distributors, meanwhile, have said they will use hydrogen to help them fully de-carbonize Europe’s gas supplies by 2050.

Read more: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/europe-stores-electricity-in-gas-pipes/