Volume 4, Issue 2
September 24, 2017 – September 30, 2017
Jason Mulderrig '18 | Will Atkinson '18 | Anushka Dasgupta '19

Major Companies Set Carbon-Slashing Goals
September 18, 2017 | ClimateWire/Scientific American | Benjamin Hulac
A UN-backed initiative called Science Based Targets, which includes companies from Nike and Gap to Adobe and HP, has announced its intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Like the Paris agreement, the initiative lets businesses pledge their own targets, hoping to inspire action through positive peer pressure. Forty-one targets were approved this year, and more than 300 businesses are committed, including 50 from the US. -WA

Paris Climate Aim ‘Still Achievable’
September 19, 2017 | BBC | Paul Rincon
According to a recent study in Nature Geoscience, the Paris agreement’s ideal of limiting warming to 1.5 oC is still feasible, although it will take a rapid and dramatic effort in the coming decades. The paper was one of the first to comprehensively model pathways to 1.5 oC. Countries would have to boost their original Paris commitments (although the US currently hopes to pull out of the agreement), so that emissions could decline to below current levels by 2030. The earlier we begin, the less we have to catch up in the future. -WA

Wind Energy:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  First Evidence That Offshore Wind Farms Are Changing the Oceans                                                                                                          September 22, 2017 | MIT Technology Review | Emerging Technology from the arXiv                                                                                                          Offshore wind turbines, with their huge concrete and steel bases, provide new habitats for marine life. For example, turbines in the North Sea have become home to colonies of blue mussels, which are important players in the marine food web. This is interesting because blue mussels typically live close to the coast, not far offshore. A recent study, which examined the complex implications of this effect for the first time, found that offshore wind turbines will soon become hubs of biodiversity. That sounds positive, but these hubs are springing up in new places and could also invite alien species native to other areas of the world; their long-term effect on marine ecosystems is yet to be understood. -AD

Grid:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As operators update grid planning for renewables, transmission remains key constraint                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 September 18, 2017 | UtilityDive | Robert Walton                                                                                                                        Domestic power utilities and regional operators are constantly planning for the most effective methods of integrating the current rise in renewables that are being brought on the grid, and the renewables that are expected to be installed in the near future. Such methods include using electric cars as on-demand power storage, updating transmission lines to deliver electricity produced in renewable rich regions to densely populated regions, improved wind and solar power forecasting techniques, and implementing new pricing schemes to reduce negative pricing and steep load ramps. The regional operators of Texas and California are featured in this piece. -JPM

Solar Energy:
ITC: Imported PV Cells Hurting U.S. Solar Industry
September 22, 2017 | Power Magazine | Abby Harvey                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously ruled on September 22 that photovoltaic solar cells imported in the U.S. are causing serious injury or the threat of serious injury to the domestic solar energy industry. This case was originally filed by Suniva, a bankrupt solar panel manufacturer, and SolarWorld. Both companies claimed that imported PV units have made it impossible for them to compete in the market. The claim proposed a placement of a tariff on imported solar modules. The remainder of the domestic solar energy industry has overwhelmingly disagreed with the claims of Suniva and SolarWorld and remain fearful about the outcome of such an imposed tariff. The case now goes to a remedy hearing on October 3, after which a recommendation is made to President Trump by November 13, and then President Trump has until January 12 to accept the recommendation in part or in whole, or make a new recommendation himself. -JPM

The Rare, Potent Fuel Powering North Korea's Weapons
September 17, 2017 | New York Times | William J. Broad and David E. Sanger
Embargos on North Korea have focused on limiting its access to oil and gas. In retrospect, however, the U.S. government literally missed the memo on a less mundane fuel: unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH), which powers all of North Korea’s long-range missiles. It appears that North Korea originally obtained the volatile and toxic fuel, which the U.S. stopped manufacturing in the sixties, from Russian and Chinese sources. Alarmingly, intelligence officials say North Korea may soon be able to produce the fuel domestically. -AD