California may use 50 percent renewable electricity by 2020, a decade ahead of schedule.

Nov 17, 2017 by

Briefly     GRIST.ORG

Stuff that matters

Clean sweep

While Trump tries to push the United States back toward fossil fuels, California, the seventh largest economy in the world, is embracing clean energy with better economic results.

More than a quarter of California’s electricity already comes from renewables, according to a report from the state’s Public Utilities Commission. That’s particularly impressive because California doesn’t count large hydropower dams or nuclear power in its definition of “renewable.” Add those, and the state is currently running on 45 percent clean energy.


The state’s three biggest investor-owned utilities are forecast to reach the 50 percent renewable goal in just three years.

So how did California do it? After the state told utilities they had to get more electricity from renewables — beginning in 2002 and ratcheting up with new laws in 2006, 2011, and 2015 — it triggered a building spree of wind and solar plants.

A boom in renewable-electricity generation. California Public Utilities Commission

Perhaps the only downside from the report is that, because the big utilities are on track to meet their goals, they’ve stopped investing as much in renewables. But it looks like California is getting ready to set higher goals again.

Raising Medicane

You can blame a “medicane” for this week’s deadly flooding in Greece.

Nope, a “medicane” is not a new type of health insurance. It’s a Mediterranean hurricane — such as the one currently developing in the Mediterranean Sea, where warming waters have produced a weather system with the characteristics of a subtropical cyclone.

Flash floods linked to moisture from the storm hit parts of Greece on Wednesday, killing 16 people and injuring dozens more. The storm is projected to skirt Sicily and head toward Greece this weekend, potentially inflicting more damage.

Medicanes are so uncommon that scientists have yet to establish a clear set of criteria for them. Weather systems like these are more typically found in the Caribbean, where warmer water temperatures feed tropical storms.

A Mediterranean cyclone generally counts as a medicane if it forms the characteristic hurricane-like “eye,” according to Emmanouil Flaounas, a meteorologist at the National Observatory of Athens who conducts research on medicanes through a European Commission-funded project.

His research suggests that Mediterranean cyclones will occur less frequently, but with more intensity, in the coming years. “Several future climate scenarios show a clear increase of the sea temperature, and this will be certainly related to an intensification of future cyclones,” he wrote in an email to Grist.

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