Energy and Global Warming News for May 27th — GE plans $1.5 billion in cleantech R and D by 2010

GE eyes $1.5 billion in cleantech research by 2010

General Electric Co aims to boost its investment in clean-tech research and development to $1.5 billion a year by 2010, the largest U.S. conglomerate said on Wednesday in its annual “Ecomagination” report.

The maker of products ranging from electricity-producing wind turbines to energy-efficient compact-fluorescent lights, wants to grow green-business revenues to what it called a “stretch” target of $25 billion next year, up from $17 billion in 2008 and $6 billion in 2004….

GE said it expects stimulus spending in the United States, China and elsewhere around the globe to create about $400 billion of new demand for green technologies and clean-energy products, including wind turbines and solar panels.

The company earlier this month said it was building a plant near Albany, New York to build a new generation of high-capacity batteries that would power its upcoming hybrid railroad locomotive. Last month, it said it was working with Florida utility company FPL Group on the roll out of a “smart grid” system intended to encourage homeowners to lower their electricity consumption during peak demand times.

Global CEOs back greenhouse gas cuts, carbon caps

Global business leaders added momentum to prospects for a new U.N. climate treaty by agreeing Tuesday that the world must cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by mid-century by setting specific limits on carbon.

Government officials reported little progress in setting such limits, however, showing how distant a new treaty remains.

Some 500 CEOs and other top business experts said at the conclusion of the three-day World Business Summit on Climate Change in Denmark that “immediate and substantial” emissions cuts were needed by 2020, followed by cuts of at least 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. They said governments should use the marketplace to set a global price on carbon instead of taxing it, according to a statement from conference organizers.

Carbon allowances — the glue in House energy package

A massive climate bill has taken its first step forward in the House, its path paved by the giveaway of allowances — free greenhouse gas emission permits designed to mute the economic impact of a carbon cap-and-trade program.

Free allowances — each conveying the right to pump a ton of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — were the glue that held the sprawling bill together for Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and fellow Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee last week.

The “cap” of cap and trade would impose steadily tightening limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Companies covered by the bill whose emissions exceeded their caps would have to purchase emission allowances, or buy offsets — for example, by investing in rainforest preservation. Some allowances could be banked or borrowed to ease transitions. But the decisions would affect firms’ choices of fuels, introduction of new technologies, and decisions to hire, fire, expand, shrink or move operations overseas.

State Energy News Round-up

With the legislative season winding down in some states, lawmakers have been getting busy on the energy front. Here is a roundup of state news in the past week”¦

Oil Sands Project Moves Forward

Imperial Oil, Exxon’s Canadian subsidiary, has broken the oil sands investment slump with an announcement on Monday that the company will proceed with a $7.1 billion project to mine bitumen from the Kearl Lake project, located about 44 miles northeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Imperial says the Kearl project, which is expected to operate for half a century, will eventually yield a daily average of 300,000 barrels of bitumen “” a thick, sticky substance that can be processed into fuel oil. Site preparation actually began last year, and the mining operation will commence in 2012.

Big Oil Warms to Ethanol

For decades, the big oil companies and the farm lobby have been fighting about ethanol, with the farmers pushing to produce more of it and the refiners arguing it was a boondoggle that would do little to solve the country’s energy problems.

So why are technicians for BP, the giant oil company, now working at an experimental ethanol plant in this old Louisiana oil town, helping to make it more efficient?

The erstwhile enemies, it turns out, are gradually learning to get along, as refiners increasingly see a need to get involved in ethanol production. Ethanol, made chiefly from corn, now represents about 9 percent of the country’s market for liquid fuels. And the percentage is growing year after year because of federal mandates. With the nation’s thirst for gasoline, and the ethanol that is blended into it, expected to revive when the economy does, the oil companies want to be in a position to take full advantage.

Australia Faces Further Carbon-Scheme Delay

Plans for the world’s most comprehensive carbon-trading scheme face defeat or parliamentary delay after Australia’s opposition said on Tuesday it will try to postpone a vote on the laws this year.

The decision by the Liberal-National coalition during a party meeting adds uncertainty over the final shape and start date of the scheme. It also adds to the confusion on investment decisions for some big polluters trying to figure out future carbon costs.

Emissions trading is central to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s promise to fight global warming, but his government has been unable to find seven extra votes it needs in the Senate, where conservative opponents hold the largest bloc.

Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten

6 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for May 27th — GE plans $1.5 billion in cleantech R and D by 2010

  1. Jim Eager says:

    Oil sands?!?!

    Joe, you’re slipping.

    Please, take back the language and make it reflect reality, not the PR campaign.

  2. ecostew says:

    2009-10 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 27, 2009

    Melting Greenland Ice Sheets May Threaten Northeast United States, Canada


    David Hosansky, NCAR/UCAR Media Relations

    Rachael Drummond, NCAR/UCAR Media Relations

    For scientific contacts, see below.

    Note to editors:
    To download a map showing sea level rise for northeastern North America:

    BOULDER–Melting of the Greenland ice sheet this century may drive more
    water than previously thought toward the already threatened coastlines
    of New York, Boston, Halifax, and other cities in the northeastern
    United States and in Canada, according to new research led by the
    National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

    The study, which will be published Friday in Geophysical Research
    Letters, finds that if Greenland’s ice melts at moderate to high rates,
    ocean circulation by 2100 may shift and cause sea levels off the
    northeast coast of North America to rise by about 12 to 20 inches (about
    30 to 50 centimeters) more than in other coastal areas. The research
    builds on recent reports that have found that sea level rise associated
    with global warming could adversely affect North America, and its
    findings suggest that the situation is more threatening than previously

    “If the Greenland melt continues to accelerate, we could see significant
    impacts this century on the northeast U.S. coast from the resulting sea
    level rise,” says NCAR scientist Aixue Hu, the lead author. “Major
    northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest rise.”

    A study in Nature Geoscience in March warned that warmer water
    temperatures could shift ocean currents in a way that would raise sea
    levels off the Northeast by about 8 inches (20 cm) more than the average
    global sea level rise. But it did not include the additional impact of
    Greenland’s ice, which at moderate to high melt rates would further
    accelerate changes in ocean circulation and drive an additional 4 to 12
    inches (about 10 to 30 cm) of water toward heavily populated areas in
    northeastern North America on top of average global sea level rise. More
    remote areas in extreme northeastern Canada and Greenland could see even
    higher sea level rise.

    Scientists have been cautious about estimating average sea level rise
    this century in part because of complex processes within ice sheets. The
    2007 assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    projected that sea levels worldwide could rise by an average of 7 to 23
    inches (18 to 59 cm) this century, but many researchers believe the rise
    will be greater because of dynamic factors in ice sheets that appear to
    have accelerated the melting rate in recent years.

    The new research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and by
    NCAR’s sponsor, the National Science Foundation. It was conducted by
    scientists at NCAR, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Florida
    State University.

    —–How much meltwater?—–

    To assess the impact of Greenland ice melt on ocean circulation, Hu and
    his coauthors used the Community Climate System Model, an NCAR-based
    computer model that simulates global climate. They considered three
    scenarios: the melt rate continuing to increase by 7 percent per year,
    as has been the case in recent years, or the melt rate slowing down to
    an increase of either 1 or 3 percent per year.

    If Greenland’s melt rate slows down to a 3 percent annual increase, the
    study team’s computer simulations indicate that the runoff from its ice
    sheet could alter ocean circulation in a way that would direct about a
    foot of water toward the northeast coast of North America by 2100. This
    would be on top of the average global sea level rise expected as a
    result of global warming. Although the study team did not try to
    estimate that mean global sea level rise, their simulations indicated
    that melt from Greenland alone under the 3 percent scenario could raise
    worldwide sea levels by an average of 21 inches (54 cm).

    If the annual increase in the melt rate dropped to 1 percent, the runoff
    would not raise northeastern sea levels by more than the 8 inches (20
    cm) found in the earlier study in Nature Geoscience. But if the melt
    rate continued at its present 7 percent increase per year through 2050
    and then leveled off, the study suggests that the northeast coast could
    see as much as 20 inches (50 cm) of sea level rise above a global
    average that could be several feet. However, Hu cautioned that other
    modeling studies have indicated that the 7 percent scenario is unlikely.

    In addition to sea level rise, Hu and his co-authors found that if the
    Greenland melt rate were to defy expectations and continue its 7 percent
    increase, this would drain enough fresh water into the North Atlantic to
    weaken the oceanic circulation that pumps warm water to the Arctic.
    Ironically, this weakening of the meridional overturning circulation
    would help the Arctic avoid some of the impacts of global warming and
    lead to at least the temporary recovery of Arctic sea ice by the end of
    the century.

    —–Why the Northeast?—–

    The northeast coast of North America is especially vulnerable to the
    effects of Greenland ice melt because of the way the meridional
    overturning circulation acts like a conveyer belt transporting water
    through the Atlantic Ocean. The circulation carries warm Atlantic water
    from the tropics to the north, where it cools and descends to create a
    dense layer of cold water. As a result, sea level is currently about 28
    inches (71 cm) lower in the North Atlantic than the North Pacific, which
    lacks such a dense layer.

    If the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet were to increase by 3 percent
    or 7 percent yearly, the additional fresh water could partially disrupt
    the northward conveyor belt. This would reduce the accumulation of deep,
    dense water. Instead, the deep water would be slightly warmer, expanding
    and elevating the surface across portions of the North Atlantic.

    Unlike water in a bathtub, water in the oceans does not spread out
    evenly. Sea level can vary by several feet from one region to another,
    depending on such factors as ocean circulation and the extent to which
    water at lower depths is compressed.

    “The oceans will not rise uniformly as the world warms,” says NCAR
    scientist Gerald Meehl, a co-author of the paper. “Ocean dynamics will
    push water in certain directions, so some locations will experience sea
    level rise that is larger than the global average.”

    The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National
    Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National
    Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or
    recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s)
    and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science

    -The End-

    Scientific contacts:

    Aixue Hu, NCAR Scientist

    Gerald Meehl, NCAR Scientist

  3. paulm says:

    Long post seem to be in ….

    China has no other choice than to pursue sustainable development

    China is making huge efforts to combat climate change despite the fact that it remains a low-income developing country, writes Zhenhua Xie, the country’s special representative on climate change

    China attaches great importance to tackling climate change. In 2007, it established the national leading group on climate change (NLGCC), headed by Premier Wen Jiabao.

    That same year, China issued its national climate change programme, the first ever by a developing country, which set an objective to lower its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20% by 2010 against 2005 levels.

    In its mid- and long-term plan for the development of renewable energy, China also set an objective of increasing the proportion of renewables in the primary energy mix to 10% by 2010, and to 15% by 2020.

    To achieve such objectives, China has adopted a series of effective policies and measures, achieving remarkable progress. First, China succeeded in lowering its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 1.79%, 4.04% and 4.59% respectively for 2006, 2007, and 2008, which strongly suggests it will meet the 20% objective by 2010.

    Second, between 2006 and 2008, China shut down small thermal power generation units with a total installed capacity of 34.21GW, phased out 60.59m tonnes of backward steel-making capacity, 43.47m tonnes of iron-smelting capacity and 140m tonnes of cement-production capacity. All of these steps reduced pollution markedly.

    Third, between 2000 and 2008, China increased its wind power generating capacity from 340MW to 10GW, hydropower from 79.35GW to 163GW, and nuclear power from 2.1GW to 9.1GW. It has also made great efforts to reduce agricultural and rural greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, by the end of 2007, more than 26.5m rural households were using household biogas digesters, cutting 44m tonnes of CO2 emissions.

    Fourthly, China has increased its carbon sinks by promoting reforestation. China’s forest coverage rate increased from 12% in the early 1980s to 18.21% today.

    For this year, China will complete formulating provincial climate change programmes throughout the country, and promote effective implementation of the national scheme.

    In China’s economy stimulus package, 210bn yuan (£19bn) is allocated for energy conservation, pollutants reduction, and ecosystem protection projects, 370bn yuan for economic structural adjustment and technology renovation, and 400bn yuan for new energy-efficient housing that will use environmentally friendly materials. Some 370bn yuan will be used to improve rural living standards in an environmentally sound and sustainable way.

    China is making huge efforts to combat climate change despite the fact that it remains a low-income developing country with a per-capita GDP of around $3,000 (£1,876). By United Nations standards, China still has 150 million people living in poverty. China has no other choice but to pursue sustainable development in order to meet the basic needs of its people and to eradicate poverty. In this process, the world is assured that China will make every effort to address climate change.

    The international community has great expectations for reaching a positive outcome in Copenhagen. In China’s view, the key to the success in Copenhagen lies in the realisation of the full, effective and sustained implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and its Kyoto protocol. Developed country parties to the protocol, collectively, must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25-40% below their 1990 level by 2020.

    Non-protocol developed countries should undertake comparable commitments with quantified emission reduction targets. Developed countries should also fulfill their obligations under the Convention to provide financial support and technology transfer to enable developing countries to effectively tackle climate change.

    In addition, appropriate mechanisms and institutional arrangements should be established for adaptation, financial support and technology transfer. Developing countries will, in the context of sustainable development and with measurable, reportable, and verifiable support in terms of financing, technology, and capacity-building, take nationally appropriate mitigation actions.

    The global financial crisis has undoubtedly exacerbated the challenge of climate change. But since climate change is a more far-reaching and serious challenge, the world must not waver in its determination and commitment to addressing it. Indeed, the international financial crisis, if handled properly, may also be turned into an opportunity to reach a win-win solution for both climate protection and economic development.

    With a deep sense of responsibility for its own people and the entire human race, China will continue to implement proactive policies and measures to address climate change and make unremitting efforts to protectEarth.

    • Xie Zhenhua is President Hu Jintao’s special representative on climate change and the vice-chairman of the national development and reform commission of China

  4. Zeez says:

    If you haven’t read Tar Sands by Andrew Nikiforuk, I’d highly suggest it. It’s a great read, an incredible indictment on the Alberta and Canadian governments. The governments have routinely ignored the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the tar sands and are allowing the oil companies to rape the land and it’s people.

  5. Tom says:

    That´s great numbers, we at noticed that a big share is going to the US and Europe for Clean Energy and energy efficiency.