8 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for July 7th: Power plant sulfur emissions plummet 24% ahead of 2010 regulations; Coral reefs face imminent destruction from climate change
Yet another reason why cap-and-trade is likely to achieve the emissions reductions deeper and faster than people project.
U.S. power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide dropped sharply in the first half of the year as the electricity industry prepared for tighter regulation in 2010, Genscape said Monday.
Sulfur dioxide emissions were down 24 percent compared to the first half of 2008, much more than would be expected due to the recession and lower electricity demand, the power industry data provider said in its quarterly review of energy trends.
“The industry is clearly going through a dress rehearsal for the implementation of the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) in 2010, and judging by allowance prices as well as the fundamental data, it is a stellar performance,” Genscape said.
Coral reef survival is balancing on a knife edge as the combined effects of ocean acidification and ocean warming events threaten to push reefs to the brink of extinction this century, warned a meeting of leading scientists.
“¦At anticipated rates of emission increase, it is expected that 450 ppm CO2 will be reached before 2050. At that point, corals may be on a path to extinction within a matter of decades.
By 2050, the remaining coral reefs could fall victim to ocean acidification. Such a catastrophe would not be confined to reefs, but could start of a domino-like sequence of the fall of other marine ecosystems.
To fairly divide the climate change fight between rich and poor, a new study suggests basing targets for emission cuts on the number of wealthy people, who are also the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, in a country.
Since about half the planet’s climate-warming emissions come from less than a billion of its people, it makes sense to follow these rich folks when setting national targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions, the authors wrote on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
As it stands now, under the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol, rich countries shoulder most of the burden for cutting the emissions that spur global warming, while developing countries — including fast-growing economies China and India — are not required to curb greenhouse pollution.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will examine the proliferation implications of a civil nuclear agreement between the United States and the United Arab Emirates in a hearing tomorrow.
The agreement would allow U.S. companies to sell advanced nuclear information and technology, such as reactors, to the UAE and could be worth billions of dollars. The UAE said it plans to build up to 10 nuclear reactors over the next 20 years to fill its growing need for electricity and power for desalination facilities. It is preparing to award a contract for its first reactor as early as this fall.
The UAE deal was among a string of civilian nuclear deals the Bush administration brokered, including agreements with India, Russia and Turkey. Congress approved the India deal with some additional protocols last fall, but the Russia deal was derailed by armed conflict in Georgia last summer. Turkey’s agreement took effect last June.0
Duke Energy Corp. announced plans today to build a 51-megawatt wind farm in Kit Carson County, Colo.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based utility (NYSE: DUK) said it has also acquired a 70-megawatt wind farm in central Pennsylvania from Gamesa Energy USA. Financial terms of the projects were not disclosed.
Duke plans to complete construction of the Kit Carson project, located about 150 miles southeast of Denver, by the end of next year and sell electricity to the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Duke plans to bring two more wind farms online later this year in neighboring Wyoming, boosting the utility’s wind power portfolio to more than 700 megawatts (Greenwire, April 1).
As the race to create clean, renewable power heats up, the solar industry is focusing on a technology in hopes of producing utility-scale energy.
Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power — which marries traditional solar photovoltaic technology to large-scale concentrated solar power plants — could ramp up utility-scale solar production, advocates say, especially in niche markets. But as with all developing technologies, the effort faces significant hurdles.
A $3.3 billion program that pays California residents with solar panels on their roofs the retail rate for extra electricity fed into the grid is nearing the legal limit for how much power utilities can buy from consumers.
Eager to keep the program growing, the solar industry is pushing for the approval of a bill that would quadruple the cap. Currently, utilities are limited to buying 2.5 percent of their power capacity from consumers; the bill would raise this limit to 10 percent.
The state’s three for-profit utilities oppose the bill, saying they fear the incentives come at the expense of customers who can’t afford costly solar panels, according to Jennifer Briscoe, a spokeswoman for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.
Increasingly unpopular Spanish Prime Minister Jos© Luis Rodrguez Zapatero sought a Solomonic solution last week when he ordered the shutdown of the country’s oldest nuclear power plant for 2013, but few are pleased.
Mr. Zapatero had pledged to decommission nuclear plants once their 40-year lifespan expired, which in the case of the Santa Mara de Garo±a station would have been in 2011. But then politics and the economy got in the way.
“It’s not an easy decision,” he said Thursday, acknowledging that he would be “criticized by both sides.”
And indeed he was. Parties to the left – vital to Zapatero’s governing coalition in Parliament – attacked the decision to postpone the closure of Garo±a and questioned the prime minister’s credibility and integrity.
The conservative Popular Party, already in pre-campaign mode, said it would overturn the government’s decision if it wins the 2012 general elections and that it would extend Garo±a’s lifespan until 2019, which is the date approved by Spain’s nuclear watchdog agency in a non-binding report.
The recession is contributing to higher levels of air pollution in the Washington area as new car sales plummet and older, dirtier vehicles remain on the road longer, according to a recent study by regional planners.
The trend is expected to show up across the country as transportation planners use vehicle registration data collected after the economy soured to adjust local air quality forecasts required by federal law. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is believed to be the first planning agency to analyze that data.