Energy and Global Warming News for September 3rd: Amazon at lowest levels in 40 years; Water footprint calculator; 3,000 MW offshore wind for France by 2015
"Energy and Global Warming News for September 3rd: Amazon at lowest levels in 40 years; Water footprint calculator; 3,000 MW offshore wind for France by 2015"
.The drop has been caused by a lack of rain and high temperatures.
Officials in the Peruvian city of Iquitos said the river level had fallen to 14.4ft, a point not seen in more than four decades, and was predicted to drop further.
Low levels have brought economic havoc in areas of Peru that depend on the Amazon for shipping, by denying boats a navigable river as well as usable ports and harbors.
At least six boats are stranded because of the lack of river flow over the past three weeks and several shipping companies have been forced to suspend service, leading to economic hardship in areas of Peru that depend on the Amazon for shipping. The drop has been caused by a lack of rain and high temperatures.
The Amazon is the second-longest river in the world, after the Nile, but discharges far more water at its mouth than any other.
It also drains more territory than any other, from Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay and Venezuela before running across Brazil and into the Atlantic.
Norway has continued to live up to its clean energy reputation by publishing its first annual report on the Clean Energy for Development Initiative. This details nearly $130m worth of funds spent by the Norwegian Government on clean energy projects across the developing world in 2008-9, double the amount budgeted by USAID for a variety of issues including clean energy aid.
Key to the initiative’s approach has been the electrification of small villages in remote areas and over 44% of the money has been spent on building transmission and distribution infrastructure. The largest type of generation deployed has been hydroelectric, with 15% of expenditure going on these projects, some of which have been large scale but many of which have been small and localised.
Other forms of generation considered include wind, geothermal and biomass, each depending upon the particular needs of the country and neighbourhood within which the initiative is operating. Rather pointedly, the report states that it spent 0% of its money on power generation from non-renewable sources.
Every Drop Counts!
We live in a watery world, with the average American lifestyle fueled by nearly 2,000 gallons of H2O a day.
What may come as a surprise is that very little of that””only five percent””runs through toilets, taps, and garden hoses at home. Nearly 95 percent of your water footprint is hidden in the food you eat, energy you use, products you buy, and services you rely on.
Find out your water footprint, then pledge to dry it out, joining other nationalgeographic.com users who have already committed to saving thousands of gallons.
The more we save, the more water we leave for healthy ecosystems and a sustainable future.
According to Agence France Presse (AFP), the French government will launch next month a tender for contracts of 10 billion euros ($12.6 billion) to build 3,000 MW of offshore wind capacity.
600 wind turbines will be implemented within five to ten sites in Normandy, Brittany and the regions of Pays de la Loire and Languedoc. They are scheduled to start producing electricity by 2015.
This may be only the beginning as the government wants to produce up to 6,000 MW via offshore wind by 2020.
By then the technology may enable us to build floating wind turbines with 10 MW of capacity each. This would allow this renewable energy source to generate more electricity without nobody even noticing.
It seems that France is more and more willing to play catch up with Denmark, the European pioneer in this renewable energy source. The United Kingdom also set aggressive wind energy targets earlier this year. To date France has absolutely no offshore wind turbines.
Three gigawatts of capacity is enough to power the cities of Lyon and Marseille combined (around 1.3 million people).
This is as much capacity as two nuclear EPR reactors. However, wind is an intermittent energy source compared with nuclear (a nuclear reactor produces electricity 80 percent of the time while wind turbines are about 35 percent)
U.S. government officials urged residents of a Wyoming farming community near natural gas drilling sites not to use private well water for drinking or cooking because of chemical contamination.
“Sample results indicate that the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons and other chemical compounds in groundwater represents a drinking water concern,” the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement about tests of 19 water wells around the town of Pavillion.
The Wyoming investigation precedes a national study by the EPA into the safety of the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”, in response to concern in Congress and in some communities near gas rigs in many states that human health is threatened by the process.
The tests in Pavillion found that 17 of the 19 wells tested contained petroleum hydrocarbons as well as napthalene, phenols and benzene, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a report issued late on Tuesday.
The tests are part of the agency’s first investigation into claims that toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing are contaminating ground water.
But officials expressed no views about the source of the contamination.
“EPA has not reached any conclusions about how constituents of concern are occurring in domestic wells,” the report said.
After Pacific Gas & Electric, the giant California utility, began installing smart meters in the state’s Central Valley, the company was swamped with complaints from residents that their utility bills had increased.
But an independent review of the smart meters released Thursday found that the devices were functioning properly and attributed the high charges to a heat wave last year that coincided with their installation as well as poor customer service by P.G.&.E.
“They are accurately recording usage and throughout our evaluation we found no systemic issues,” Stacey Wood, an executive with the Structure Group, a Houston consulting company, said on Thursday at a meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission. “We did identify there were weakness in the focus on customer service.”
The utilities commission hired the Structure Group to test P.G.&.E’s smart meters and conduct a technical review.
The digital devices wirelessly transmit data on a home’s electricity and natural gas usage to utilities while allowing residents to monitor their electricity consumption in real time. Smart meters are considered a linchpin for the development of a smart power grid and tens of millions of the gadgets are set to be installed nationwide in coming years.
But the rollout has been anything but smooth in California, where nearly 10 million smart meters will be deployed.
“By the fall of 2009, the C.P.U.C. had received over 600 smart meter consumer complaints about ‘unexpectedly high’ bills and allegations that the new electric smart meters were not accurately recording electric usage, almost all of which were from P.G.&E.’s service area,” according to the Structure report.
The consulting firm said it then tested more than 750 smart meters in the laboratory and in the field and reviewed utility account records for 1,378 customers, including those that had complained of abnormally high bills.
Like generations of Tibetan nomads before him, Phuntsok Dorje makes a living raising yaks and other livestock on the vast alpine grasslands that provide a thatch on the roof of the world.
But in recent years the vegetation around his home, the Tibetan plateau, has been destroyed by rising temperatures, excess livestock and plagues of insects and rodents.
The high-altitude meadows are rarely mentioned in discussions of global warming, but the changes to this ground have a profound impact on Tibetan politics and the world’s ecological security.
For Phuntsok Dorje, the issue is more down to earth. He is used to dramatically shifting cloudscapes above his head, but it is the changes below his feet that make him uneasy.
“The grass used to be up to here,” Phuntsok says, indicating a point on his leg a little below the knee. “Twenty years ago, we had to scythe it down. But now, well, you can see for yourself. It’s so short it looks like moss.”
The green prairie that used to surround his tent has become a brown desert. All that is left of the grasslands here are yellowing blotches on a stony surface riddled with rodent holes.
It is the same across much of this plateau, which encompasses an area a third of the size of the US.