"Top energy and climate stories for April 9"
[Note to readers: Many of you helpfully post links to stories you think other readers (and I) should see. I’d like you to try to post them in the comments section of this post, which should appear every weekday. That way, readers will know where to look for the key stories of the day. You might also want to post a one or two line summary.]
E&E Daily (Subs. Req’d)
SunPower, Xcel Energy mull massive Colo. plant
Despite the recession the solar industry continues to grow. In southern Colorado, SunPower Corp. has started the ball rolling for the construction of a 17-megawatt solar PV plant, second-largest of its kind in North America:
SunPower Corp. is planning to build a 17-megawatt solar photovoltaic array in southern Colorado…. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. would buy all of its output over 10 years….
[Colorado’s] newly augmented power portfolio standard requires Xcel and other large utilities to derive 20 percent of their sales from renewable resources by 2020; 4 percent of the electricity sold must come from solar PV or concentrated solar power projects.
Xcel’s current solar portfolio consists of about 32 megawatts…. Xcel has bids out for at about 200 megawatts of concentrated solar power generation…. SunPower aims to complete construction of a 25-megawatt PV array in DeSoto County, Fla., by the end of the year.
Grid spies planted software to disrupt transmission system
(also reported by BBC: Spies ‘infiltrate US power grid’)
“Chinese and Russian cyberspies have been tampering with the U.S. electric grid and have left behind software programs capable of disrupting the entire system, according to current and former national security officials.”
In an effort to position a potentially crippling payload without the dangers of an international incident, both China and Russia have placed malicious programs in the United States electrical grid. The purposes of these programs are the disruption and collapse of the electrical grid. While the grid is currently divided and regionalized, the plans to construct a national smart grid raise questions of national security.
Legislation and Policy
E&E Daily (Subs. Req’d)
Treasury sees itself shaping emission-auction scheme
“The Treasury Department’s new energy and environment office will play a critical role in designing the auction scheme for federal greenhouse gas emission allowances in any climate regulation, according to the office’s chief.”
The Treasury Department’s announcement raises questions of agency competition for emission-auction schemes after yesterday’s declaration by Steven Chu that the DOE would play a “deep role” in crafting formulating the same emission-auction policy.
Science Chief Discusses Climate Strategy
“The Obama administration might agree to auction only a portion of the emissions allowances granted at first under a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gas pollution, White House science adviser John P. Holdren said yesterday, a move that would please electric utilities and manufacturers but could anger environmentalists.”
New York Times
Renewables Fever Sweeps State Legislatures
“A number of states have seen a spurt of legislative activity on renewable energy “” and many seem poised to take maximum advantage of the clean-energy provisions of the federal stimulus package.”
“From the wheat fields of the north-central region to Kansas City’s necklace of industrial parks to the brick street fronts of St. Louis, Missouri’s reliance on cheap electricity is deeply ingrained.
But few pay attention to the origin of their little-noticed savings: 21 coal-fired power plants that emit more than 75 million tons of carbon dioxide annually and generate 80 percent of Missouri’s electricity. Even residents who endorse wind and solar energy have grown accustomed to the benefits of state policies that favor coal by putting a premium on low-cost electricity. So the idea of federal climate legislation that could increase electricity bills by putting a price on emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide is unsettling.”
“On Wednesday, [Todd] Stern’s team offered the first broad hints of a new international climate policy for the United States, noting that more details would be submitted in a proposal to the United Nations later this month. But even in its broadest brush strokes, the American proposal differs significantly from other plans to curb carbon dioxide emissions enacted by the United Nations and the European Union.
The Obama administration’s plan would require all countries, including developing nations like China and India, to curb greenhouse gas emissions, said Jonathan Pershing, the deputy special envoy for climate change, at a news conference. The plan’s main focus is on long-range goals “” as distant as 2050 “” for greenhouse gas reduction.”
“Marvin Odum, the president of Shell Oil, appeared on [C-Span’s Washington Journal yesterday] morning, where he discussed a variety of topics “” including the carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade question.”
E&E Daily (Subs. Req’d)
EPRI picked to write ‘smart grid’ road map
“The nonprofit research group funded by the electric utility industry has been picked by a Commerce Department agency to write plans for standardizing components of the ‘smart grid.'”
The California based research group has received a $1.3 million contract from the Commerce Department to “identify priorities for streamlining the nation’s electric grid system.” Creating a smart grid is an essential step to lessening the United State’s dependence on foreign oil.
New York Times
Turning Up the Heat on Outdoor Heaters
Patio heaters, which critics say use unnecessary energy and emit gratuitous carbon dioxide, have become a hot issue among some European politicians and promoters of conservation. Several members of the European Parliament have called for measures that could lead to a possible ban on the devices.
A $6 cardboard box that uses solar power to cook food, sterilize water and could help 3 billion poor people cut greenhouse gases, has won a $75,000 prize for ideas to fight global warming.
The ‘Kyoto Box,’ named after the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol that seeks to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, is aimed at billions of people who use firewood to cook.
Sin aqua non
Local water shortages are multiplying. Australia has suffered a decade-long drought. Brazil and South Africa, which depend on hydroelectric power, have suffered repeated brownouts because there is not enough water to drive the turbines properly. So much has been pumped out of the rivers that feed the Aral Sea in Central Asia that it collapsed in the 1980s and has barely begun to recover.
Yet local shortages, caused by individual acts of mismanagement or regional problems, are one thing. A global water crisis, which impinges on supplies of food and other goods, or affects rivers and lakes everywhere, is quite another.
Climate scientists say Australia — beset by prolonged drought and deadly bush fires in the south, monsoon flooding and mosquito-borne fevers in the north, widespread wildlife decline, economic collapse in agriculture and killer heat waves — epitomizes the ‘accelerated climate crisis’ that global warming models have forecast.
Though greenhouse gases are invariably at the center of discussions about global climate change, new NASA research suggests that much of the atmospheric warming observed in the Arctic since 1976 may be due to changes in tiny airborne particles called aerosols.
Bolivia accounts for a tiny fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions. But it will soon be paying a disproportionately high price for a major consequence of global warming: the rapid loss of glaciers and a subsequent decline in vital water supplies.
Complied by Carlin Rosengarten and Max Luken