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EGEB: Worst global sulfur dioxide offenders, minewater as geothermal energy, more

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Greenpeace names the worst global sulfur dioxide air pollutant hotspots.
  • The UK is exploring using minewater as a source of geothermal energy.
  • A gas plant in Fife, Scotland, sparks safety fears due to technical failures.
  • Six green energy ideas that flopped.

EGEB: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Greenpeace India today published a report that names the worst global anthropogenic sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission hotspots tracked by NASA satellites. “SO2 is one of the main contributors to human death and disease from air pollution across the planet.”

Power plants and industries burning coal and oil are responsible for two-thirds… and oil refineries and metals smelters are the other major sources worldwide.

Twelve coal-fired power stations in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province make it the largest SO2 emission power generation hotspot in the world. Overall, India is the worst for SO2 emissions globally, “having recently overtaken Russia and China.”

You can access the report here.

Minewater as alternative energy

The Financial Times (FT) reports on using minewater in the UK as a source of energy. Two billion cubic meters of water run beneath abandoned coal mines that are heated by surrounding rocks. Minewater is high in pollutants, but it could be put to good use as a source of geothermal energy.

The publicly funded Coal Authority estimates that there is enough geothermal energy in coal mines to heat 180 million homes. It could also be used in horticulture and leisure schemes. A quarter of all UK homes and businesses sit on former coalfields.

Research on how to scale up minewater heat’s adoption is being carried out on former industrial land in Glasgow by the British Geological Survey (BGS), a publicly funded institute.

Mike Stephenson, the BGS’s chief scientist, said the Glasgow studies were focusing on “de-risking” minewater heat use, and that the research should be sufficiently advanced to enable investment decisions in two years.

“The wonderful irony here is we used coal to carbonize the economy,” he said. “Now we are going to use the coal mines that exist to decarbonize.”

The UK’s goal is to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Check out the FT‘s article to see how using minewater to create geothermal heat works.

Scottish gas plant safety concern

The Mossmoran gas plant in Fife, Scotland, has had technical failures that have led to prolonged, unscheduled burning activity, according to the Scotsman. The community is concerned about air quality and negative effects on the environment. The latest incident is the fourth in 2019. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) “issued final warning letters to both companies in April 2018 for breaching operating permit conditions.”

Combined, the two plants at Mossmorran are the second biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in Scotland – after the Ineos petrochemical complex at Grangemouth – between them belching out more than 1.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.

Scottish Green member of Scottish Parliament Mark Ruskell, the party’s environment, climate, and energy spokesman, has asked Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham to “meet with local residents, strengthen environmental regulations, launch an independent review, and protect jobs by beginning preparations to decommission the site.”

Six great energy ideas that didn’t take off

Bloomberg lists six innovative energy ideas that just haven’t caught on yet. Or as the article puts it, “they were simply the wrong thing at the wrong time.” Here’s their list, and check out the article for more details:

  1. CIGS solar cells — A thin film of copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) on glass or plastic
  2. Flywheel energy storage — Rotating carbon-fiber cylinders floating on magnetic fields that convert to electricity
  3. Cellulosic biofuels — ethanol made from cellulose, which is indigestible plant or tree fiber
  4. Solar Power Tower — a huge tower with solar panels
  5. Small wind turbines — rooftop wind power
  6. Marine energy — harnessing the energy of waves

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.