Here’s more proof that “The only way for the U.S. to win the clean energy race is to pass the clean energy bill“:
Europe will this week launch a campaign to triple funding for energy research to 8 billion euros ($11.7 billion) a year in a technology race with Japan and the United States, a draft document shows.
Solar power should get 16 billion euros over the next decade and up to 30 energy-sipping “Smart Cities” should be built with the backing of around 11 billion euros, added the report by the European Union’s executive, the European Commission.
In total, at least 50 billion euros of additional funding is seen over the next 10 years to ensure a wide range of technology emerges to help the EU meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050.
“We need to stimulate our best brains to push back the frontiers of science in materials, in chemistry and physics, in nanotechnology and biotechnology, to find new and better ways of producing and consuming energy,” says the draft obtained by Reuters ahead of the launch on Wednesday.
“We can not sit back and wait for such potentially game changing breakthroughs to emerge from laboratories and make the often long and arduous journey to market,” it adds.
The report looks at how much funding is needed, rather than how businesses and the EU’s 27 member countries would find the money as they emerge from the biggest downturn since the second world war.
But earlier Commission proposals for funding energy projects, such as the 4 billion euros “European Economic Recovery Plan” have made swift progress this year and are now in the later stages of debate by EU ambassadors.
Companies ranging from Germany’s E.ON to Spain’s Gamesa look set to benefit.
Wind energy research should get 6 billion euros over the next decade, nuclear research should get 7 billion euros and energy from biomass and other waste 9 billion.
There should also be 13 billion euros for innovative “carbon capture and storage” technology to trap carbon dioxide from power stations and bury it underground.
President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies on Monday to set a goal within 90 days for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, the White House said, aiming to “lead by example” in fighting climate change.
The new executive order, signed by the president, mandates agencies across the federal government to “measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions toward agency-defined targets,” the White House said in a statement.
Other environmental measures such as reducing petroleum use in vehicle fleets by 30 percent by 2020, improving efficiency f water usage by 2020, and increasing rates of recycling by 2015 were also included in the order.
“The federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies,” Obama said in a statement.
The global economic crisis has made it easier to halt the increase in greenhouse gases released by power plants, factories and cars through 2020, the International Energy Agency said in a revision of its forecasts from November.
Annual emissions from energy use may peak at 30.9 billion tons “just before” 2020, assuming nations adopt climate- protection measures, the Paris-based agency said today in a report presented to United Nations climate negotiators in Bangkok. That’s 4.9 percent less than the previous estimate of a 32.5 billion-ton peak in 2020 for the same scenario.
Slowing the accumulation of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide, which scientists blame for climate change, is central to climate-protection talks this week in Thailand. Global CO2 discharges may drop at a record pace of as much as 3 percent this year as the recession cuts demand for power, the energy adviser to 28 countries said. That compared with an historical average of 3 percent annual growth.
“Governments should see that if we don’t make use of this very unique window of opportunity, it could cost them much more in the future,” Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, said in an interview in Bangkok today. “The later we start, the more costly it will be and the less achievable it will be from an economic and political point of view.”
Two years of climate talks have stalled as developed nations wrangle over 2020 emission limits. Developing nations said they are waiting for richer countries, which are responsible for most of the gases put into the atmosphere over the last century, to cut their output first.
The emerging cellulosic biofuel industry, stung by frozen credit markets, ineffective federal loan programs and lagging federal policies, will fall far short of mandated production volumes over the next few years.
U.S. EPA is now pushing to implement a new renewable fuels standard (RFS) that will ramp up to 21 billion gallons of mandated cellulosic and advanced biofuels use by 2022, provided that fuels meet specified greenhouse gas reduction thresholds — and that enough gallons can reach the market.
“The current economic climate almost makes the RFS a moot point for the time being,” said Matt Carr, policy director for the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
His organization estimated last month that 2010 volumes will, optimistically, reach 12 million gallons, far short of the 100-million-gallon mandate that year. Those shortages will also ripple into later years, such that even by 2013, meeting the 1 billion gallons required will be a stretch.
EPA, meanwhile, is working to finalize the mandate by the end of this year to take effect in 2010, but says it is also considering delaying the rules by as much as a year, as the petroleum refining and blending industry is urging. The comment period on its proposal closed in September.
These are the harsh realities faced by producers that have yet to open a commercial-scale facility — even as controversy continues to swirl around the RFS, which in addition allows for 15 billion gallons of conventional corn-based ethanol.
In the House-passed climate bill, farm state lawmakers succeeded in inserting a provision temporarily stripping EPA’s authority to calculate the increases in greenhouse gas emissions caused by land-clearing abroad, as fuel based on food replaces U.S.-grown food grains.