Join us for Webinar on Enhanced Geothermal Energy Produced by 350 Colorado & 350 Chicago
The US Department of Energy will speak about this important new technology in a webinar this week. Join us to learn about how this tech might revolutionize the energy transition! 9/25/20
In this issue:
A Report from the March on the United Nations
A Primer Article on the Basics of Enhanced Geothermal Energy
A Report on Some Success in Preserving the Amazon Rain Forest
350 Monthly Speaker Series Presents Enhanced Geptherma Eergy Webinar This Week
Lauren Boyd from the United States Department of Energy will speak on the immense promise of Enhanced Geothermal Systems and the challenges that remain. EGS tech would allow for geothermal energy to heat and provide electricity to homes and businesses across the country, not just in a handful of places. The energy provided would be endless, clean, and constant. See the article in this issue for more details on the EGS. The webinar will be held Th 9/28 at 1:00pm central. If that time doesn’t work for you, still register and you will receive a video of the presentation. Please spread the word and register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xQ1HGq_OTx-6CNdEPJoiOg
China Expanding Geothermal Energy
China has plans to significantly expand its use of geothermal energy, Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing said at a conference on September 15. This change will bring China closer to its goal of having 160 million square meters of geothermal heating area by 2025. As the world's largest energy consumer, the country will use this source for electricity and heating and cooling and systems, among other uses. In 2020, China's National Energy Administration made a goal to double the geothermal power generation capacity over the following five years. And among other renewable energy sources, geothermal use has meant improved air quality for the northern part of the country. While geothermal energy has high potential to bring China closer to its renewable energy goals, it will require substantial additional investments and technological developments. To read more about geothermal energy, China's plans for it, and its complexities, visit this article and this update.
California Launches Major Lawsuit Against Big Oil for 10s or 100s of Billions of Dollars
The State of California, long a stout leader in aggressively pushing to solve the climate crisis has taken one of its boldest actions yet: suing Exxon-Mobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, as well as the API for “ CA Attorney General Rob Bonta said, “The people of California don’t deserve to be lied to and have the costs of climate change shifted to them while these big oil companies profit to the tune of billions and billions of dollars every year.” Because of their lies and deception going back to at least 1968, the oil companies bear the responsibility of the destruction our fossil fuel warmed world has wrought. They should be made to pay for the aftermath. California Gov. Newsome drew an overwhelming response at the UN Climate Crisis meetings recently when he called climate change a “fossil-fuel crisis” and called them out the fossil fuel companies out this decades long deceit.
The Promise of Enhanced Geothermal Energy
by Rich Foss
Geothermal energy has been used for at least 10,000 years as a human energy source, going all the way back to the paleolithic era. Now, it might just be the game-changer needed to save us from catastrophic climate change. There are many different types of geothermal energy and many different ways it can be harnessed. Geothermal electricity generation comes from locating reservoirs of hot water generated by porous rocks heated by the earth’s core. A well is drilled and steam rises to the surface and turns a turbine which creates electricity. This kind of geothermal energy production is only possible where the tectonic plates are shifting, mostly in the western US and Alaska and Hawaii. The US currently has 60 Geo-thermal plants, which leads the world in electricity production, yet this accounts for only 0.5% of the energy we use.
However, a newer method called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) is creating the promise that geothermal energy can be developed in numerous places across the United States. Using the technology first developed for fracking shale to produce first gas and oil, EGS method creates its own reservoir by injecting water into the ground. The pressurized water is shot down to create more holes in the rocks to allow more heat to escape. And this water is returned to the surface where it turns a turbine to create electricity (and/or heat to heat homes & businesses, and then the water is then recycled back underground to repeat the process. Geothermal energy is poised for a breakout - Vox
Not only can geothermal energy for the creation of electricity, but they can also provide direct heat as well, that, if EGS fulfills its promise, can heat every home and business in the United States for 8,500 years, according to the US Department of Energy. Enhanced Geothermal Systems | Department of Energy
Geothermal energy is not only renewable, but it also provides a steady supply of heat or electricity, unlike wind or solar which are intermittent sources. Therefore, there is no need for storage.
In addition, since the Enhanced Geothermal Systems method uses much of the same technology used in the oil and gas industry, workers from these industries could be re-trained and employed by the new industry, mitigating the job losses of that sector.
How much electricity can be produced from Enhanced Geothermal Energy in the United States? The Dept of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office estimates that EGS holds the potential to power more than 65 million American homes and businesses and is the next frontier for renewable energy deployment. And others believe that number is closer to 100 million homes. Many other researchers believe that geothermal holds a much greater promise. According to Daniel Oberhaus and Caleb Watney in their paper “Geothermal Everywhere: A New Path for American Renewable Energy Leadership,” (2021) EGS will begin in the Western US, but as they learn more and develop better technological methods, with less and less local environmental impacts, the process will become more economic benefits to producers. EGS, therefore, could create “effectively limitless electrical energy making geothermal well-suited to the energy and climate challenges of the 21st century. But it also points to a future where Americans have access to effectively limitless energy.” https://innovationfrontier.org/geothermal-everywhere-a-new-path-for-american-renewable-energy-leadership/
The Department of Energy currently has begun the EGS process at four different sites in the US as a way to demonstrate to companies and investors that Enhanced Geothermal Systems can not only create clean, renewable, constant energy, but can turn a profit as well. This technology provides some much-needed hope to a world already on fire. [Join us for a webinar with Lauren Boyd, Senior Advisor to the USDOE Geothermal Technologies Office 9/28 1:00pm central. Contact us at email@example.com with questions. See registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xQ1HGq_OTx-6CNdEPJoiOg
NYC March to End Fossil Fuels, September 17th and 18th
by Larry Coble
The March to End Fossil Fuels and the barricade of the New York Federal Reserve by activists in NYC were two amazing events during Climate Week in New York City! The amount of energy and effort expended by the organizers, marchers and protesters in fair and foul weather was truly inspiring.
Sunday, September 17th's March to End Fossil Fuels was a motivating event. I met so many people from the 350 Network Council who came from all over the country to attend. Having worked with them over Zoom during the People vs. Fossil Fuels Campaign over the past year, I now had the opportunity to shake their hands, hug them and get to know them on a personal level through face-to-face contact, conversations, and acting together. Seeing people in the flesh rather than in Brady Bunch boxes on my computer provided a deeper connection and commitment while working together for the next two days.
During the march, I walked with those 350 Network Council members throughout the canyonesque route of the city’s tall buildings. During the 1.5 mile march, we talked about our mutual experiences and efforts to end the climate crisis. We marveled at the turnout, street theater, diversity, and an overall sense of fierce determination exhibited by people in the face of crisis. For over 3 hours, approximately 75,000 souls flowed through the streets, shouting, chanting and cheering. All demanded that President Biden end the fossil fuel era, stop approving fossil fuel projects and start phasing out the industry without delay. The march started at 55th and Broadway and emptied into 51st and 1st avenue near the United Nations to listen to musical performances and hear speeches from Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Eve Ensler and many, others. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s speech was a barnburner, summing up the climate crisis and the movement to fight it by saying, “This is the biggest issue of our time and because of that, we must be too big and too radical to ignore.”
Federal Reserve Protests 9/18
During a persistent downpour on September 18th, I stood outside the New York Federal Reserve Bank and live streamed an act of civil disobedience on Instagram (see above), acting as a witness. Many of my compatriots from the 350 Network Council blocked doorways and walkways to the Fed in defiance of police orders while boldly ignoring commands to disperse. Meanwhile, protesters observing the arrests chanted slogans such as, “We need clean air, not another billionaire!” or “Biden get off it, our planets not for profit!” Altogether, 114 protesters were arrested within two hours. With zip tie handcuffs binding their hands behind their back, the arrestees maintained attitudes of cheerful or stoic or outraged rebellion while the police led them off to vans and buses. Many chanted, “arrest the real criminals,” while the rest of us watched and applauded their courage from the sidewalk. Collectively, during the nearly 3 hour action, we voiced our outrage at the inertia and the folly of an economic system still largely committed to burning fossil fuels.
When the arrestees were released from the 1st precinct in lower Manhattan three hours later, they were greeted by a couple of climate activists and escorted to the Luna Pizza restaurant up the block. As they approached the outdoor dining patio, a large group of us cheered and applauded the arrestees while we stood in the chilly drizzle. Once inside the restaurant, we offered them a New York slice or two and a beverage while pro bono lawyers provided legal support. The appreciation, joy, and energy each arrestee exhibited was truly inspiring. I had the sense of witnessing people having undergone a life vivifying event, leaving them with an indelible memory and an emotional high, a type of peak experience.
I consider the dignity and actions of the protesters, non-violently rebelling against the government and the financial systems propping up the fossil fuel industry as a cleansing tonic to climate despair. The cheerfulness, determination, courage amidst fear and intimidation, outrage, and righteous anger seem so necessary right now… and it will be for the climate fights of the future.
Climate Crisis Wins in the Amazon Rain forest
by Madeline Puffenbarger
The Amazon is the largest rain forest in the world, and plays a crucial role in the ongoing climate crisis. The Amazon provides a massive carbon sink, which means it absorbs more carbon dioxide than it releases; however when the rain forest is destroyed, it results in a two-fold issue for fighting the climate crisis: 1) with fewer trees, there is less carbon absorption; and 2) the carbon dioxide that has been stored within trees is released back into the air. The Amazon is roughly similar in size to the contiguous United States and spans eight different countries in South America, making the governance of the rain forest extremely difficult. This has led to approximately 18% of the Amazon that has been wholly lost, with an additional 17% of the forest degraded (according to the WWF).
This rapid deterioration of the rain forest led the eight countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, Brazil) that are home to the Amazon River Basin to an agreement this summer, with the aim of conserving the rain forest, which ultimately led to the Belém Declaration. The declaration was a key first step in cooperation among the South American countries and should help with forest destruction (as well as stop illegal mining and logging), but fell short of a regional agreement to stop deforestation by 2030. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been pushing for a region wide deforestation agreement, with Brazil already reducing deforestation rates by 42% during President Silva’s tenure, according to the New York Times. Currently, six out of the eight countries that are home to the Amazon have already committed to ending deforestation by 2030, while Bolivia and Venezuela remain uncommitted to this target. Additionally, the Belém Declaration established an Amazon scientific panel that will meet annually going forward.
The citizens of Ecuador made another important climate stride in August, voting against a measure that would enable oil drilling in a protected region of the Amazon. This referendum, which was concurrent with the presidential election, will require a state run oil company to cease drilling operations in Yasuni National Park, which is home to two isolated tribes and is a dense area of biodiversity. This referendum was the product of over 10 years of grassroots activism and represents an important win for environmentalist groups. You can read more about the referendum from AP News.
The Amazon and other large rain forests such as the Congo are crucial tools for battling the climate crisis. These large rain forests provide a carbon sink to the world, but if rapid rates of deforestation continue, they could end up being a net emitter. At that point, the rain forests would be releasing more emissions into the atmosphere than what they absorb. As we begin to face some of the consequences from the climate crisis, it is important to redefine our relationships with the precious natural resources on our planet. As Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stated at the Belém Declaration meeting, “The Amazon is our passport to a new relationship with the world, a more symmetrical relationship in which our resources will not be exploited for the benefit of a few, but valued and placed at the service of all.”
*** 350 Chicago continues to look for volunteers to help us grow our organization so we might have a bigger impact on Chicago, Illininois and beyond. For years I shook my fist at the reports of the continuing climate crisis, at the corporations and leaders who refused to addresss this existential crisis. EXISTENTIAL. That’s what this is. We don’t succeed now, it’s going to be the end or nearly the end of life on this planet. The government and the corporations are not going to save us. It is up to all of us. We all have to be climate activists now. Look at your kid, your grand-kid playing in the yard. Imagine the nature of her life in a degraded, dying ecosystem in the years ahead if we do NOT succeed? What more motivation could any of us need? Come on. Let’s go. Contact us and let’s change the world. Go to our website 350Chicago.org and fill out the volunteer form or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or dial me up directly: Rich Foss, email@example.com. I stopped sitting on my couch and shaking my first at the politicians and the oil companies and 350 Chicago has given me power, and influence and a chance to help end this climate crisis. Do the same. ***