The government seized control of key levers in the energy sector today in an attempt to kickstart a stalling “green energy” revolution and head off the threats of global warming and a rundown in North Sea oil.
Ministers plan to take over the allocation of electricity grid connections in order to favour renewable schemes, force the industry regulator, Ofgem, to tackle carbon pollution and pass laws to compel power companies to help poorer families meet rising energy bills.
The moves came as Ed Miliband, energy and climate change secretary, set out an ambitious road map for the UK to meet its legally binding target of a 34% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Measures range across homes, cars, business and farming, but clean electricity generation will deliver half the reduction.
Miliband said Britain would meet 40% of its electricity needs from wind, tidal and nuclear by the end of the next decade. The government’s overall plans believe 1.2m new green jobs will be created….
Miliband said domestic energy saving initiatives should mean there would be no related hikes in utility bills until 2015 and by 2020 should mean on average 6% – £75 – a year on domestic bills.
Two years after the installation of a solar power project funded by international aid groups, villagers in northern Ethiopia say the sun’s energy has turned their lives around.
Rema, 150 miles north of the capital Addis Ababa, is home to Ethiopia’s largest solar project.
Here, every house in the village has electricity powered by solar lighting systems.
This is unique in Ethiopia – 80% of the population live in rural areas where only 1% of the population have access to electricity.
Looking to put some spark in the green car market, Ontario today announced that it would be offering consumers subsidies of 4,000 to 10,000 Canadian dollars ($3,600 to $8,900) against the purchase of plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicles, starting next July.
In a statement, Premier Dalton McGuinty said the plan “helps get more people behind the wheel of a green vehicle to create jobs, reduce smog and equip Ontario for the 21st century.”
A Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is coming on line later this year, but the Ontario government owns 3.9 percent of General Motors, so the subsidy is certainly meant to help boost sales of the new Chevrolet Volt, which goes on sale in 2010.
The top American energy and commerce officials called in speeches here on Wednesday for China to do more to address global warming, contending that the country was particularly vulnerable to a changing climate.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu warned in a speech at Tsinghua University, China’s top science university, that if humans did not reverse the rising pace of their emissions of greenhouse gases, more people would be displaced by rising sea levels in China than in any other country, even Bangladesh.
The United States and China are launching a joint Clean Energy Research Center aimed at bolstering research and development of technologies to improve energy efficiency, carbon sequestration and low-emissions vehicles.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who is in China with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for energy discussions, announced the effort in Beijing with Chinese Minister of Science Wan Gang and Administrator of National Energy Administration Zhang Guo Bao, according to the Energy Department.
The nations are initially pledging a combined $15 million to the effort and hope to launch operations by the end of the year. The centers would “facilitate” joint research and development by teams of scientists and engineers from both nations and also “serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country,” DOE said. Locations in each nation have not been determined.
Green jobs coming to U.S. from afar (audio w/ transcript)
A growing number of U.S. jobs in the wind and solar business are here thanks to companies outside the country. Sarah Gardner reports on why overseas companies are moving in.
Long-delayed efforts to build an experimental coal-fired plant in Illinois have passed a crucial milestone with President Barack Obama’s administration formally signing off on the proposed site as environmentally fit.
Saying it’ll decide early next year whether to go ahead with the project known as FutureGen, the Energy Department issued its “record of decision” Tuesday giving its stamp of approval to Mattoon, the eastern Illinois city tapped in late 2007 as the place for the next-generation plant.
The department now can negotiate with FutureGen developers including a consortium of big energy and utility companies, moving toward construction of the plant that would burn coal for power but store “” or sequester “” emissions of carbon dioxide underground.
President Obama has often described his push to fund “clean” energy technology as key to America’s drive for international competitiveness as well as a way to combat climate change.
“There’s no longer a question about whether the jobs and the industries of the 21st century will be centered around clean, renewable energy,” he said on June 25. “The only question is: Which country will create these jobs and these industries? And I want that answer to be the United States of America.”
But the leaders of India, South Korea, China and Japan may have different answers. Those Asian nations are pouring money into renewable energy industries, funding research and development and setting ambitious targets for renewable energy use. These plans could outpace the programs in Obama’s economic stimulus package or in the House climate bill sponsored by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).
A type of fuel once used in Japanese aircraft during World War II is slowly making its way again toward the market, and its backers say that it will work better in automobiles than ethanol.
DuPont and BP hope to produce the fuel, called biobutanol, on a commercial scale starting in 2013. They are currently testing it in Britain, where a demonstration-scale plant should start operations at the end of next year, according to Nick Fanandakis of DuPont’s applied biociences division.
A BP-DuPont takeover of an American biobutanol maker received regulatory approval from the European Commission last week.
A decade ago, only 500 rooftops in California boasted solar panels that harvest the sun’s energy. Today, there are nearly 50,000 solar-panel installations in the state, according to a report to be issued Thursday by the research and lobbying group Environment California.
As a result, California, the longtime national leader in solar energy, has a capacity of more than 500 megawatts of solar power at peak periods in the early afternoon “” the same as a major power plant.
Progress on improving the efficiency of solar cells for aircraft might allow the Air Force to start using solar-powered drones.
A scientific team led by the University of Washington is developing solar cells that use a flexible film and thin glass coating mounted on aircraft wings. These dye-sensitized solar cells power sensors and actuators in the wings to eliminate electric wires and lighten the drone’s load.
“These kinds of solar cells have more specific power convergence efficiency, very clean energy and easy scalability to a larger skin area of the craft, as well as low-temperature processing, which leads to lower costs overall,” said Minoru Taya, a mechanical engineer who is leading the research.
The accidental discovery of a bowl-shaped molecule that pulls carbon dioxide out of the air suggests exciting new possibilities for dealing with global warming, including genetically engineering microbes to manufacture those CO2 “catchers,” a scientist from Maryland reports.
J. A. Tossell notes in the new study that another scientist discovered the molecule while doing research unrelated to global climate change. Carbon dioxide was collecting in the molecule, and the scientist realized that it was coming from air in the lab. Tossell recognized that these qualities might make it useful as an industrial absorbent for removing carbon dioxide.
Malaysian plantations that have made the switch to producing palm oil through environmentally sustainable methods are lamenting that, while European firms asked for the oil, now they aren’t buying it.
Since shipments to Europe of the eco-friendly oil — which is a key feedstock for biofuels — began last November, the price premium companies are willing to pay has plummeted, producers say. It highlights the double standards of multinational firms that hectored plantations for certified sustainable oil but continue to buy cheaper, uncertified oil.