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Happy Friday, everyone!
In this week's edition, we have pieces on new energy sources and how can they be used in different ways. This includes using geothermal energy to power apartment complexes and the pros and cons of using “renewable gas”. In both cases, one key question is whether they are economically feasible for broader adoption. Talking of prices, we also have an article on shipping through the Arctic as it warms and a data visualization that explores recent inflation dynamics and what is driving them.
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WA Transportation Budget to include $1.3 billion for State Ferries Washington State, home to the nation’s largest ferry system, needs new, reliable ferries. Many of the 21 vessels still in service are now 50-60 years old. With last week’s M/V Walla Walla running aground, this vessel is not likely to be in service for several weeks. Fortunately, help may be on the horizon. Washington Lawmakers set aside $1.3 billion for the ferries in order to maintain the boats in service and commission the construction of five more hybrid-electric, Olympic class vessels. However, the state has not been able to find a shipyard to build the new boats and it takes 2-3 years to build a new ferry. Seattle Times; Komo News
Fog Putting a Damper on Trans-Arctic Shipping There has been a significant increase in commercial shipping through the Arctic in the last few decades. As the Arctic warms, shipping routes following the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route have been more commonly used as they can be much faster than the typical routes that involve the Panama and Suez Canals. The Northern Sea Route from east Asia to northwestern Europe is almost twice as fast as the route via the Suez Canal; it can take 11 days instead of 20. With operating costs of large ships around $100,000 day, saving a few days makes a big difference. Recent research is finding that with the loss of sea ice comes more fog, potentially cutting into the time savings of the Arctic routes as ships need to slow down to safely navigate in the fog. Read more at AGU.org.
Two-Thirds of Total Elephant Habitats Lost Across Asia A new study shows that, due to hundreds of years of deforestation and increasing human land use, elephants in Asia have lost more than two-thirds of their natural habitats. Most of this habitat loss occurred in the 1700s, coinciding with colonial-era land usages and the ramping up of construction and natural resource usage coming from forests. The most significant decline in habitat size was in China, where almost 95% of the suitable land for endangered Asian elephants has been consumed. Other countries that saw over half of elephant habitats being lost include Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Read the full study here.
A Massive Geothermal Apartment Complex is Going Up in Brooklyn, the First of its Kind An apartment complex on the East River in Brooklyn is under construction and to be finished by 2025. This complex will be the largest residential building in the U.S. to be heated by geothermal energy. Generally, geothermal heating and cooling is used on single houses and small buildings, but Lendlease, an Australia-based developer, is testing geothermal on larger scaled buildings in Brooklyn. The use of geothermal will reduce this building’s greenhouse gas emissions by 53%, but will cost about 6% more to build. Over 20-year span this will more than make up for the increase building costs. Read More.
Explainer: What is “Renewable Gas” and should we be Using it?
The “renewable” gas, according to AGIG, will be a mixture of two different gases: hydrogen, and biomethane. Hydrogen gas (H2) can be a zero-emissions fuel, and depending on the intensity of those emissions will be termed “green” or “blue”. This blended fuel may provide a way to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas, but questions remain about how it would work with existing infrastructure and appliances. Read the story, here.
Data Visualization of the Week
What is Driving Inflation?
The inflation numbers released today are expected to show continued moderating of inflation. A visual from NY Times shows that changing nature of inflation in recent years, driven initially by energy and goods price increase, but increasingly services are accounting for the bulk of recent inflation. See more here.