Land needed for solar farms, UM's climate goals

CO2 2022/2021 ppm / 418.1 ppm


Real estate: DTE Energy is looking for 20,000 to 35,000 acres of land for solar arrays over the next 10 to 15 years, while Consumers Energy wants to acquire 40,000 to 56,000 acres by 2040. The search highlights the need for significant amounts of real estate to put solar panels on, potentially transitioning some land from agriculture to energy production. "My expectation is at some point — we haven't hit it yet here in Michigan — land use is going to be an issue," said DTE Energy CEO Jerry Norcia. However, environmental advocates say that the acreage being considered is relatively small compared to the large quantities of land currently in agricultural production. And wind and solar can coexist with certain agricultural uses like grazing animals. Energy companies are also considering former mines and formerly industrial areas for solar arrays. (Crain’s)

Climate goals: The University of Michigan announced it would move towards acquiring 100% of its power from renewable sources as well as installing geothermal heating and cooling and $10 million worth of LED lighting across 100 buildings. The university plans to fund these projects with $300 million in green bonds, typically low-interest loans used to finance sustainability initiatives. However, in an open letter, U of M students pushed the university to move faster on their climate goals and incorporate climate into hiring practices for prominent administrative positions. “When we’re reading through these goals and targets set by the University, we were pretty disappointed to find that it was this late,” said sophomore Lexi Crilley. “Plans set by the city of Ann Arbor set a much more rapid transition away from fossil fuels and towards greater carbon neutrality and sustainability efforts, which are just going to be completely impossible if the University isn’t on board.” (Michigan Daily)

Hot in here: The Great Lakes are experiencing hotter and longer-lasting heatwaves, according to new research. Warmer water fuels algal blooms that can deplete oxygen, threatening native fish while making the lakes more hospitable for invasive species. "We know that the native species in the Great Lakes adapted to a lake ecosystem that is typically more stable, and we have already seen challenges for native species with the disruptions in the lakes over the last few decades," said Randall Claramunt, the Lake Huron basin coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "Wide fluctuations in temperatures can promote invasive species invasions, disrupt nutrient flow, and increase natural mortality rates of fish." If we fail to eliminate emissions, researchers predict lake heatwaves could become as much as 25 times more frequent by the end of the century. (Freep)

Ball of confusion: Last fall, protesters shut down an Enbridge Energy Line 5 valve station, leaving authorities and the company in a state of confusion. Activists called 911 and Enbridge to alert them to their planned action, but the company and law enforcement were unable to locate the site of the protest for several hours, raising concerns about their ability to respond to pipeline emergencies. Enbridge shut down several pipelines in response to the call, although the action only targeted Line 5. The company continues to operate this pipeline despite an order from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to shut it down. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is working with police to track down those who were present at the protest. "I’m not sitting here worrying about what the police are going to do next," said Peatmoss Ellis, a protester who took part in the action. "What I’m worried about is global climate change.” (Detroit News, Bridge)

Last ice: Detroit photographer Amy Sacka’s new exhibition uses the backdrop of Lake St. Clair to present her work exploring ice fishing and the climate crisis’ impact on Michigan’s winter traditions. “I started going out on the ice with my dad because I wanted to learn more about him,” Sacka said. “And as I was on the ice, taking these photos of beautiful Michigan landscapes and amazing winter activity out there, I started hearing people talking a lot about how they couldn’t get out on the ice as much anymore. And I would hear this over and over, including from my dad, who has fished on Lake St. Clair for 50 years.” Gary Whelan, program manager for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ fisheries division, says climate change is drastically reducing the number of days Michiganders can safely ice fish and creating winters without any ice at all. (Freep)

Paying for work: State officials have approved $189 million in incentives to expand an LG electric vehicle battery factory in Holland. The company is seeking additional incentives totalling $525 million. The project is expected to cost $1.7 million and create 1,200 jobs, although these sorts of jobs have failed to materialize in past deals and some have challenged the wisdom of paying companies to create them. (Bridge, Guardian)

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