As this wacky, wild, overheated March draws to a close, here are the numbers that mattered in sustainability this month:
This is the number of record high temperatures recorded in the United States this month as of March 29. In Scotland, meanwhile, the record for hottest March temperature ever recorded was broken on three consecutive days, and Toronto saw its hottest March day ever as well. Climate scientists, though reticent to link any particular weather event to global warming, issued some of their most emphatic statements ever linking crazy weather to greenhouse gas emissions.
This is the amount of Denmark’s energy that will be drawn from renewable sources by 2050, according to a recent set of targets issued by the Danish government. By 2020, at least half of the country’s electricity will be drawn from wind turbines, but the Danes will also harness biofuels, biomass-powered cogeneration plants and geothermal energy to meet their goals. As Climate Progress’ Stephen Lacey noted, this is what a true “all of the above” strategy for the 21st century looks like.
This is the cost of Germany’s extraordinary investment in offshore wind energy, which is intended to replace 17 nuclear power plants on the German grid in the next 10 years. Even as I continued to hear far too many half-informed voices claim Germany was “giving up” on its renewable energy program because it was scaling back its commitment to solar power, the country’s conservative government made this clean energy investment – on a scale so extraordinary that Businessweek characterized it as “a reconstruction of its energy market” not seen “since the allies leveled Germany in World War II.”
This is the cost, in euros, to bring a megawatt of nuclear energy onto the French grid at the new Flamanville power plant, scheduled to open in 2016. The cost is more than 50 percent more than initial estimates and more then three times the cost of a megawatt of nuclear power in 1978. Small wonder, then, that two of Germany’s largest energy companies announced they were abandoning new nuclear plant projects in the U.K. And surely no coincidence that both companies are heavily invested in Germany’s booming offshore wind market.
This was the portion of new grid capacity in the Canadian province of Ontario set aside for renewable energy projects developed by communities or aboriginal groups – this as just one piece of the larger review of the province’s Green Energy Act, a feed-in tariff passed in 2009 and remains North America’s most ambitious renewable energy policy. I’ve long felt that the single biggest error in Ontario’s feed-in plan was insufficient weight given to decentralized, community-scale development, which was key to green energy’s broad popularity in Denmark and Germany.
So this, in a month of mixed reports, might be the best piece of sustainability news of all.
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