8 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for June 2: A bullish view for wind power; first Obama climate report to UN projects 4 per cent emissions rise by 2012
Wind energy has plenty going for it: it is clean, unlimited in supply and the most economical source of renewable power. Its clearest drawback is unreliability: sometimes the wind just does not blow.
But that intermittency – long considered a major shortcoming – may have little impact on the potential for wind to power much of the electric grid in the western United States, according to a new study by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab.
The study, released in late May, found that the power grid for five western states – Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming – could operate on as much as 30 percent wind and 5 percent solar without the construction of extensive new infrastructure….
…. the outlook for wind power is far from grim. The industry installed 9.8 gigawatts of capacity in 2009, a record, and is on pace to install at least 6 gigawatts in 2010. And a recent industry study has projected $330 billion in new wind investment between 2010 and 2025.
In its first major climate report to the United Nations in four years, the United States projected Tuesday that its climate-warming greenhouse gases will grow by 4 per cent through 2020.
The first such report submitted under the Obama administration includes a 1.5 per cent rise in carbon dioxide emissions, the main gas from fossil fuel burning blamed for global warming. And CO2 from fossil fuel burning still accounts for about four-fifths of all U.S. global warming gases.
Indonesia’s annual oil palm expansion may halve to 50,000 hectares from 2009 levels once a $1 billion climate change deal with Norway comes into effect next year, a top industry official said on Monday.
Following a financing deal signed with Norway last week, the Southeast Asian country plans to revoke existing forestry licenses held by palm oil and timber firms to save its vast rainforests and peat lands that are seen as a carbon sink.
The government has promised land swaps for cancelling some forest concessions, a process that may take years to fine tune and also prevent the world’s No. 1 palm oil producer from achieving its 40 million output target by 2020.
“That target would be achievable if oil palm estates expanded at a rate of 200,000-300,000 hectares a year but not with this. We will need to boost productivity,” Derom Bangun, vice-chairman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Board (IPOB) told Reuters in an interview.
Expansion in Indonesia hit 300,000 to 400,000 hectares at the height of the commodity boom in 2007 and 2008 but has fallen back due to pressure from green groups and the financial crisis that had stymied investment into the sector.
The US government has now confirmed that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the United States’ largest oil spill and perhaps the nation’s worst environmental disaster. While poor government oversight and negligence by oil giant BP certainly contributed to the disaster, the fact that the US is drilling over a mile below the surface in one of its most important marine ecosystems is directly related to US consumption of oil: the highest in the world.
The federal government says that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has currently released approximately 504,000 to 798,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf based on forty one days of leaking: about 2-4 percent of the United States’ one day consumption.
As climate changes, Minnesota’s fish feel heat (Video inside)
This spring’s summerlike weather may be embraced by Minnesotans, but it spells trouble for ciscoes, a cold-water fish that serves as food for gamefish such as walleyes, northerns, muskies and lake trout.
Large ciscoe dieoffs — likely caused by higher water temperatures and surface runoff that robs lakes of oxygen — have become more common in recent years, and their populations have declined sharply in some lakes, including popular Gull Lake near Brainerd.
Researcher Andy Carlson calls ciscoes the “canary in the coal mine,” an indicator that Minnesota lakes are changing. Ciscoes — also known as tullibees — will be among the first fish to feel the impact if Minnesota’s summer climate becomes more like that of present-day Kansas over the next 85 years, as some studies have predicted.
That smell of “cow” we’ve whiffed along Interstate 10 for decades will soon — technically speaking — be digested and piped to an electric utility.
It’s another positive step in producing alternative fuels; we should be a leader in that endeavor. It’s a $74 million “digestor” plant on a dairy farm. And it will turn cow manure into methane. The 11-acre plant will provide 80 to 90 full-time jobs in next-door Do±a Ana County, N.M.
This area has always had the sun as a renewable energy source, although only baby steps have been taken to turn that into an economy booster.
It has also long had that string of dairy farms with between 40,000 and 50,000 cows.
This summer, R-Qubed Energy, operated by a group of El Paso businesspersons, expects to break ground on profiting from when cows break wind. As company spokeswoman Lori Hughes said, … “You’ve got the waste stream here 24-7, it just doesn’t stop.”
Last Wednesday, five weeks into the worst oil spill in U.S. history, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward locked himself in a room on the third floor of the British oil giant’s U.S. headquarters in Houston.
For the next five hours, Hayward, BP executives, senior engineers and the U.S. Energy Secretary and Nobel Physicist Steven Chu, who had flown in two days earlier, grappled with the latest plan to stem the thousands of barrels of oil a day gushing from a broken well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
The scheme was called “top kill” and involved pumping heavy drilling fluids, known as drilling mud, into the blown-out well to stifle the flow of oil and allow the top of the well to be sealed with concrete. The technique had worked to seal other wells, but never one out of control in 5000 feet of water. There was a risk that the extra pressure caused by pumping in mud could rupture the top of the well, and increase the amount of oil gushing into the sea.
The practice of retrofitting buildings with simple, environmentally friendly technology like more-efficient boilers and better-quality windows has been around for years, but there is little research on how much energy these changes actually save “” and by extension, how much money they can save landlords and lenders.
In an effort to supply that information, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the German bank, is financing the creation of a public database of several hundred retrofitted buildings in New York City and a companion report to determine the savings from such moves.
“Retrofitting buildings is considered the low-hanging fruit in carbon reduction, but despite its simplicity, it is still not mainstream,” said Gary Hattem, president of the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation. “The largest obstacle to making these practices go mainstream is data that will convince building owners to retrofittheir properties and at the same time increase underwriters’ willingness to finance the projects.”