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

  • In 2020, due to the pandemic, US energy emissions fell to the lowest level since 1983. 
  • Belfast, Maine, sees 7 megawatts of community solar launch for Central Maine Power customers.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

2020 US energy emissions drop

In 2020, due to the pandemic, US energy emissions from fossil fuels fell to the lowest level since 1983. The 4.6 billion metric tons (Bmt) of carbon dioxide emitted in 2020 was an 11% decrease from 2019, the largest annual decrease on record, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA says, broken down by source:

US petroleum consumption accounted for 2.0 Bmt of energy-related CO2 emissions, or about 45% of the US total, in 2020. About 77% of petroleum CO2 emissions occurred in the transportation sector in 2020.

In 2020, US natural gas consumption accounted for 1.7 Bmt of CO2 emissions, or about 36% of the total — its largest share on record. In 2020, about 38% of CO2 emissions from natural gas occurred in the electric power sector, and 32% were in the industrial sector.

In 2020, coal consumption accounted for 0.9 Bmt of CO2 emissions, or about 19% of total CO2 emissions, both its lowest total amount and share in [the EIA’s] annual data series that begins in 1973. In 2020, about 90% of CO2 emissions from coal occurred in the electric power sector. Coal consumption in the electric power sector has declined over the past decade, displaced by natural gas and renewable energy.

The EIA expects emissions to grow by 0.3 Bmt, or 7%, in 2021, due to the US no longer being in lockdown.

Community solar in Maine

Every little bit counts. Monson, Maine-based PowerMarket, an employee-owned community solar management company, and SunRaise, a New Hampshire-headquartered solar energy developer, owner, and operator, have launched a 7 megawatt community solar farm in Belfast, Maine. The town itself has a population of just under 7,000. It’s 35 miles southwest of Bangor.

Central Maine Power (CMP) customers who take part in the community solar program receive 10% savings on the community solar credits. A further community solar program, Route 32, is now open for enrollment and will be online in the fall.

Patrick Jackson, cofounder of SunRaise Investments, said:

Community solar is a way to provide people from all walks of life – homeowners, renters, business owners, and more – access to renewable energy. Through community solar projects like this one in Belfast, we have been able to accomplish that goal and we are proud to see our work come to life and benefit Mainers.

Maine’s electricity runs on around 80% renewables, but only a tiny percentage of that is solar. According to the US Energy Information Administration:

In 2019, about four-fifths of Maine’s electricity net generation came from renewable sources. About three-tenths of the state’s total net generation came from hydroelectric dams, one-fourth was fueled by biomass, and nearly one-fourth was provided by wind turbines.

Natural gas-fired power plants fueled less than one-sixth of state generation in 2019, its smallest share in at least two decades. A small amount of Maine’s net generation, a total of about 2%, came from solar power, petroleum-fueled, and coal-fired power plants. 

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Gwyneth Paltrow wins high-profile civil court case against man who claimed she crashed into him while skiing

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Gwyneth Paltrow wins high-profile civil court case against man who claimed she crashed into him while skiing

Gwyneth Paltrow has won a high-profile civil court case against a man who claimed she crashed into him while skiing.

She was awarded $1 in damages after the jury found retired optometrist Terry Sanderson was “100%” at fault for the skiing accident.

The jurors deliberated for two hours on Thursday after hearing eight days of evidence.

Paltrow, dressed in a navy blazer jacket and striped shirt, did not react when the verdict was announced.

In a statement released after the verdict, she said she was “pleased” with the outcome.

“I felt that acquiescing to a false claim comprised my integrity,” she said.

“I am pleased with the outcome and I appreciate all of the hard work of Judge Holmberg and the jury, and thank them for their thoughtfulness in handling this case.”

Mr Sanderson, 76, sued the Hollywood actress for $300,000 (£242,000), saying the 2016 collision on the slopes of Utah left him with several broken ribs and severe brain injuries.

Paltrow, who is also a lifestyle influencer, denied the claims, alleging Mr Sanderson crashed into her at the Deer Valley resort, and caused her to lose “half a day of skiing”.

Terry Sanderson testifies in Park City, Utah
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Terry Sanderson testifies in Park City, Utah

She counter-sued him for the awarded amount of $1 and her legal fees.

During the court case in Park City, jurors heard evidence from a variety of medical experts, ski instructors, and members of both Mr Sanderson and Paltrow’s family, including the actress’ children Apple and Moses Martin.

Mr Sanderson said he had become a “self-imposed recluse” after the incident and had been advised never to ski again in case of further injury.

But Paltrow’s lawyers showed photos of him enjoying multiple holidays after the accident.

Paltrow's legal team played an animation of how they say the crash happened. Paltrow is seen on top of Terry Sanderson
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Paltrow’s legal team played an animation of how they say the crash happened. Paltrow is seen on top of Mr Sanderson

Oscar-winning actress Paltrow, 50, said she felt “very sorry” for Mr Sanderson but reiterated that she was not “at fault” for the crash.

Mr Sanderson said he had been told by medical experts that travelling would be “healing” for him and that he had struggled during his trips.

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Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen was effectively ‘gaslit’ by Daily Mail, court told – as Harry makes appearance

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Stephen Lawrence's mother Doreen was effectively 'gaslit' by Daily Mail, court told - as Harry makes appearance

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence was effectively “gaslit” by the Daily Mail, the High Court has been told – as Prince Harry made a brief appearance for the end of the privacy hearing.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence is one of a number of high-profile individuals, including the Duke of Sussex, accusing the newspaper’s publishers Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) of concealing “wrongdoing” over the alleged unlawful gathering of their private information.

ANL vehemently denies the claims and has argued for the case to be dismissed. A four-day preliminary hearing has now concluded, with the judge to deliver a decision on whether the case should go to trial in writing at a later date.

The Duke of Sussex leaving the Royal Courts Of Justice, central London, following a hearing over allegations of unlawful information gathering brought against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) by seven people - the Duke of Sussex, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Sir Elton John, David Furnish, Liz Hurley, Sadie Frost and Sir Simon Hughes. Picture date: Thursday March 30, 2023.
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Prince Harry made a brief appearance on Thursday

During Thursday’s session, barrister David Sherborne, representing the claimant group – which also includes Sir Elton John, Liz Hurley, Sadie Frost and former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Simon Hughes – said they had a “compelling case”.

It is alleged ANL commissioned 19 different private investigators to carry out a series of unlawful acts from 1993 to 2011 and beyond, which in some instances informed articles, Mr Sherborne said.

The group was “thrown off the scent by the way in which the articles were written”, the court heard.

Mr Sherborne later read out extracts from Baroness Lawrence’s witness statement, in which she said she felt “played for a fool” by the Daily Mail, believing the newspaper “really cared” about the injustice of the murder of her son Stephen.

“They were supposed to be our allies and friends, the good people, not the bad,” she said. Baroness Lawrence said she had believed information in articles about her had come from the police.

Mr Sherborne told the court: “That is nothing short of gaslighting Baroness Lawrence, that’s the form of concealment we are talking about.”

Read more:
Five things we learned from Harry’s court submission
Eyewitness: What was it like in court for Harry’s surprise appearance?

David Furnish leaves the Royal Courts Of Justice, central London, following a hearing claim over allegations of unlawful information gathering brought against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) by seven people - the Duke of Sussex, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Sir Elton John, David Furnish, Liz Hurley, Sadie Frost and Sir Simon Hughes. Picture date: Thursday March 30, 2023.
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Sir Elton John’s husband David Furnish was in court for the final day

The term gaslighting means to manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity or powers of reasoning.

Known as a campaigner and reformer, Baroness Lawrence has devoted herself to seeking justice for her 18-year-old son, an aspiring architect who was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack in southeast London in 1993.

The Daily Mail, under then editor Paul Dacre, campaigned to bring Mr Lawrence’s killers to justice, running a front page in 1997 that saw the newspaper brand five suspects “Murderers” – challenging them to sue if the headline was incorrect.

Baroness Lawrence was present in court for part of Thursday’s session, as were Harry and Sir Elton’s husband David Furnish, following appearances earlier in the week from Sir Elton and Frost.

Trial could be ‘substantial’ if it does go ahead

Adrian Beltrami KC, representing the publisher, previously told the court that all the claims “are rejected by the defendant in their entirety as are the unfounded allegations that are repeatedly made that the defendant either misled the Leveson Inquiry or concealed evidence from the Leveson Inquiry”.

The lawyer said the legal action against ANL has “no real prospects of succeeding” and is “barred” under a legal period of limitation.

After hearing the final arguments in the preliminary hearing, Mr Justice Nicklin told the court he would hand down his judgment on whether the case should go to trial as soon as he can.

He indicated earlier in the session that if the case does go to trial, it could be one that lasts for a “substantial period of time”.

Read more:
Prince Harry v Associated Newspapers: All you need to know
Harry’s children officially recognised as prince and princess

After hearing Baroness Lawrence’s claims during the first day of the preliminary hearing, an ANL spokesperson said: “While the Mail’s admiration for Baroness Lawrence remains undimmed, we are profoundly saddened that she has been persuaded to bring this case.

“The Mail remains hugely proud of its pivotal role in campaigning for justice for Stephen Lawrence. Its famous “Murderers” front page triggered the Macpherson report [an inquiry into Mr Lawrence’s death].

“Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, vigorously denies all the claims against it.”

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Paul O’Grady: Royal Vauxhall Tavern cabaret club where Lily Savage rose to fame pays raucous tribute to star

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Paul O'Grady: Royal Vauxhall Tavern cabaret club where Lily Savage rose to fame pays raucous tribute to star

Paul O’Grady has been remembered as “one of the greatest drag artists the UK has ever seen” at the LGBTQ+ cabaret club that helped him rise to fame as Lily Savage.

Instead of the typical minute’s silence, there was a minute of raucous applause from the audience at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) in south London on Wednesday evening – a moment to cheer in memory of the “trailblazer and legend”.

O’Grady died unexpectedly but peacefully” at the age of 67 on Tuesday evening.

Paul O'Grady alias Lily Savage at her 'Council flat' in south London.

His close friend Linda Thorson, an actress known for starring in The Avengers and Emmerdale, said in an interview with Good Morning Britain that he died in bed with his husband, Andre Portasio, beside him.

Stars and royalty including Sir Elton John and the Queen Consort led the thousands of tributes following his death.

The TV presenter and comedian rose to fame on the nightclub circuit in the 1980s as the acerbic, platinum wig-wearing Lily Savage – a name believed to have been inspired by his late mother.

After touring the north of England, he settled into a solo residency at the RVT before the character went on to become a household name.

‘Silence is polite – but this is a moment to applaud’

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Producer reveals how O’Grady was day before death

On Wednesday evening, RVT host Michael Twaits described O’Grady as “an absolute legend of the community” to a full-house audience paying tribute.

“Today we lost one of the greatest drag artists the UK has ever seen, and it is this building, this building was where it happened,” he said.

“Eight years of doing solo shows… and also doing shows like tonight, introducing new talent to the LGBT+ scene. Paul O’Grady was an absolute legend of the community.”

Read more on Paul O’Grady:
Lily Savage to Battersea: A life in pictures
A rubber gloves raid and a plane crash

Twaits said O’Grady had always stayed true to his roots, despite his rise to TV fame.

“It was around raising up the community, and when you move from a stage like this into the mainstream, when you move into breakfast f****** television… and still stay true to yourself, stay true to your queer self, and stay true to your working class roots.”

Telling the audience that “a trailblazer and a legend has left us”, he then led the crowd in a round of applause.

“Obviously a moment of silence is polite… but I don’t think a moment of silence is right. I think this is a moment to applaud, a moment to love, a moment to cheer,” he said.

Deputy PM invited to cabaret club

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Paul O’Grady – and Lily Savage – remembered by MPs

MPs also highlighted O’Grady’s time at the RVT in the House of Commons earlier on Wednesday.

Addressing Dominic Raab, Sir Chris Bryant said: “I don’t know whether the deputy prime minister ever met Lily Savage or has ever spent a night out at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, but… I can take him some time if he wants to go?”

As laughter broke out, the Labour MP added: “Her alter ego, Paul O’Grady, campaigned acerbically and hilariously for elderly people, for care workers, against oppression of every kind.

“Isn’t it time we in this country celebrated our naughty, hilarious drag queens and comics of every kind who inspire us to be a better and more generous nation?”

Mr Raab, who was filling in for Rishi Sunak during Prime Minister’s Questions, accidently referred to O’Grady as “Paul Grayson”, before correcting himself and describing the star as an “incredible comic”.

‘A true animal lover in every bone in his body’

Flowers are left at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home in south London, where TV presenter and comedian Paul O'Grady worked as the charity's ambassador
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Flowers have been left at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home in south London

Among the many paying tribute to O’Grady was the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the charity for which the star had been an ambassador since 2012.

He filmed 11 series of his beloved show For The Love Of Dogs at the centre, and during the first series he rehomed Eddie, a Chihuahua Jack Russell-cross puppy.

Eddie was followed by shih-tzu Boycie in 2014, Conchita, a Maltese, in 2015, Arfur, a mongrel puppy, in 2017, Nancy, another mongrel puppy, in 2020, and Sausage, a wire-haired dachshund, in 2021.

The Queen Consort and Paul O'Grady, pictured together at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Battersea chief executive Peter Laurie said O’Grady would have taken all of the charity’s dogs home “if he had his way”.

Mr Laurie said: “It’s hard to overstate Paul’s impact at Battersea over the last decade. He really helped put Battersea on the map.”

O’Grady’s “real legacy” is how he showed both the British public and an international audience how “lovable and incredible” rescue dogs are, Mr Laurie added.

“He could walk into a kennel with a dog he had never met before, sit on the floor and play with that dog and bond with that dog within minutes.

“He would fall in love with that dog and the dog would fall in love with him too and you can’t pretend, that was so authentic, that really was Paul – a true animal lover in every bone in his body.”

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