Energy and Global Warming News for September 13: 13,200 deaths from coal pollutants this year — study; Carbon nanotubes could boost PV efficiency

Study Predicts 13,200 Deaths From Coal Pollutants This Year

A new report by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit environmental group, finds that pollution from coal-fired power plants will result in the premature death of more than 13,000 people this year. The report, which is an update from similar studies conducted in 2000 and 2004, says that emissions from coal plants, like sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), “continue to take a significant toll on the health and longevity of millions of Americans,” even though many of the emissions have decreased in recent years….

According to the report:

[F]ine particle pollution from existing coal plants is expected to cause nearly 13,200 deaths in 2010.Additional impacts include an estimated 9,700 hospitalizations and morethan 20,000 heart attacks per year. The total monetized value of theseadverse health impacts adds up to more than $100 billion per year. Thisburden is not distributed evenly across the population. Adverse impacts areespecially severe for the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease.In addition, the poor, minority groups, and people who live in areasdownwind of multiple power plants are likely to be disproportionatelyexposed to the health risks and costs of fine particle pollution.

Funneling Solar Energy: Antenna Made of Carbon Nanotubes Could Make Photovoltaic Cells More Efficient

Using carbon nanotubes (hollow tubes of carbon atoms), MIT chemical engineers have found a way to concentrate solar energy 100 times more than a regular photovoltaic cell. Such nanotubes could form antennas that capture and focus light energy, potentially allowing much smaller and more powerful solar arrays.

“Instead of having your whole roof be a photovoltaic cell, you could have little spots that were tiny photovoltaic cells, with antennas that would drive photons into them,” says Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and leader of the research team.

Strano and his students describe their new carbon nanotube antenna, or “solar funnel,” in the Sept. 12 online edition of the journal Nature Materials. Lead authors of the paper are postdoctoral associate Jae-Hee Han and graduate student Geraldine Paulus.

Their new antennas might also be useful for any other application that requires light to be concentrated, such as night-vision goggles or telescopes.

Solar panels generate electricity by converting photons (packets of light energy) into an electric current. Strano’s nanotube antenna boosts the number of photons that can be captured and transforms the light into energy that can be funneled into a solar cell.

Grid Net Partners with Sprint For Utility Market

Grid Net’s software will open up the platform and tap into Sprint’s 4G network. Enter Grid Net’s real-time, all IP Smart Grid and Smart Home software platform. Two of the big WiMax proponents have decided to team up.

Grid Net will partner with Sprint for communication and grid services for utilities. Grid Net has been promoting WiMax and other other broadband technologies for the grid for some time. General Electric licenses its software and hardware reference designs while Landis + Gyr inked a pact with Grid Net recently. So far, most of Grid Net’s deals have been for Australian grids.

The Australians are Grid Net’s early customers “” Grid Net’s software is being used in 2.7 million meters deployed in Australia and New Zealand. Also, the Australian government chose Grid Net as the software platform to be used in the devices in the Smart Grid, Smart City community in New South Wales.

“We are like Microsoft because we license our software to people,” said Andres Carvallo, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer of Grid Net.

Sprint, meanwhile, has been building up a smart grid practice to compete against AT&T, Verizon and other carriers. Even before it announced its push for WiMax in the smart grid, it had more than 100 utility customers tapping its iDEN and CDMA networks for a way to hook up their smart grid devices.

A crucial moment for clean energy

We are the leaders of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group representing citizens across the nation. We convened to address some of America’s most pressing needs “” job creation, secure energy supplies and cost-effective carbon emissions reductions.

Governors from California and Oregon to Minnesota and Maine agree that among the best ways to address these issues is to harness the economic and environmental benefits of domestic renewable electricity production. The way to do that is by passing a strong Renewable Electricity Standard “” to ensure rapid growth of the nation’s wind and other renewable electricity sources.

We are today sending a letter to Senate leadership, urging the prompt adoption of a strong national RES.  A strong RES must be the cornerstone of our nation’s new clean energy economy. It won’t mean just wind farms in Iowa or off the coast of Rhode Island “” though it would expand job opportunities in both our states. The RES remains the most economically efficient way to create opportunity all over the country and throughout the supply-chain in energy manufacturing; new project construction and associated transmission, and continuing operation and maintenance of these facilities.

We all agree that creating jobs must be a national priority. We have reached a crucial moment in the renewable energy race. We are not likely to realize the job-creating potential of these technologies unless Congress passes legislation setting a robust minimum standard for the use of renewable electricity.

Some Carbon Dioxide Emissions Permits Don’t Sell in U.S. Northeast Auction

Carbon dioxide permits in the U.S. Northeast’s cap-and-trade program for power plants drew a record low price at auction this week amid a surplus of the pollution rights. Some went unsold.

Permits from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s first “control period” from 2009 to 2011 fell 2 cents from the last auction held in June to $1.86 each, the minimum allowable bid, according to the cap-and-trade program’s website. Each permit represents one ton of carbon dioxide.

Of the 45.6 million permits offered from the first control period, 34.4 million were sold. This week’s auction, held Sept. 8 with the results released today, also offered 2.14 million permits from the 2012-to-2014 control period. Of those, 1.31 million sold for the $1.86 minimum allowable bid, the same price they fetched in June.

The failure to sell a quarter of the permits offered in this week’s auction has “definitively shown that the market is oversupplied,” Paul Tesoriero, director of environmental trading at Evolution Markets LLC in White Plains, New York, said in a telephone interview. “People are not going to buy something they don’t need.”

Siemens Launches Renewable Energy Business in India

Siemens has launched its renewable energy business arm in India to get a sizable share in one of the fastest growing markets in the world. The German engineering giant has opened its business in India at just the right time given the abundant economic and policy incentives offered by the government to the project developers as well as manufactures in the renewable energy sector.

Siemens has launched its renewable energy business arm with 30 employees and intends to add 70 more over the next one year. The company would reap tremendous benefits due to its presence in the Indian renewable energy sector. India is one of the fastest growing renewable energy markets with the wind energy sector expanding at a healthy double-digit growth rate. The country is also blessed with significant solar energy resources and the solar manufacturing is on the brink of a boom.

The Indian government has initiated the first phase of its ambitious National Solar Mission which aims at installing 20,000 MW of solar energy systems by 2022. The government has already approved projects for the first 1000 MW of solar power plants which are to be installed till 2013. Out of the 1000 MW, 500 MW would be concentrating solar power systems.

Cogenra Unstealths: Khosla’s Photovoltaic and Solar Hot Water Startup

Producing electricity as well as hot water reduces payback time, improves GHG impact.

Cogenra (formerly known as Skywatch Energy), a Khosla Ventures-funded solar startup is slowly coming out of stealth — urged on by their recent win of a $1.5 million California Solar Initiative (CSI) RD&D grant.   RD&D, oddly, stands for Research, Development, Deployment and Demonstration.

Here is some of the text of the Cogenra grant:

Cogenra Solar has developed, prototyped and validated the technical performance of an innovative concentrating photovoltaic/thermal co-generation technology and will conduct an 80-kW demonstration at the Sonoma Wine Company. For this project, the field performance of the system will be measured and used to refine economic and financing models and optimization over multiple tariff structures. This project will also look at modifying the co-generation system so that it can support tri-generation of electricity, heating and cooling, expanding the market to include commercial sites that require cooling and lower amounts of hot water. Additionally, Cogenra Solar will modify the system to provide energy storage for use during peak demand and coordination with Pacific Gas and Electric on grid integration.

The startup has received $10.5 million from Khosla Ventures.

China says rich-poor divide still dogs climate pact talks

The prospects of a new global climate change pact still hinge on resolving the divisions between rich nations and the developing world, a top Chinese climate negotiator said in remarks published on Monday.

“Right now there are still huge differences between developed and developing countries in the negotiations on climate change problems,” said Su Wei, the head of the climate change office at the National Development and Reform Commission.

Negotiators from nearly 200 nations continue to haggle over the small print of a sprawling 34-page draft agreement to combat global warming, and an additional round of talks at the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin will begin on October 4. The deadline for a new binding global climate pact was originally set for the end of 2009, but a final round of negotiations in Copenhagen ended in failure. Few now expect a binding deal to emerge before the new deadline of December 2010, when talks move to the Mexican resort of Cancun.

In remarks carried by the China Today magazine, Su said the crucial divide still centered on the core Kyoto Protocol principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” which committed richer nations to take the lead in cutting greenhouse gases. He said industrialized nations were still seeking to “water down” the principle by asking large developing countries such as China and India to commit to quantifiable cuts in emissions. The two sides were still unable to agree on how the burden of cutting emissions is distributed, and also on the provision of funds and the transfer of key technologies.

6 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for September 13: 13,200 deaths from coal pollutants this year — study; Carbon nanotubes could boost PV efficiency

  1. Paulm says:

    2010 is going to go down as the inflection year…

    Is this the end of cheap clothes era? Price of cotton has rocketed because of floods, Primark warns

  2. J A Turner says:

    Re: 13,200 deaths per year from coal pollution: We have to stand up and demand that businesses make their money honestly–through innovation, investment and effort. We’ve allowed the practice of industrial alchemy–turning human suffering into gold–for far too long. We’re so afraid of having to change jobs that we’ve let the polluters keep on creating misery. Career changes are a normal, ordinary part of life. The economy is always changing. Clinging to obsolete jobs in polluting industries is self-defeating. The recession has unfortunately made it easier for the fearmongers to get their way.

  3. David B. Benson says:

    Ban dirty coal.

    Well, at least tax it.

    Be fair, a tax on all fossil carbon.

  4. paulm says:

    How efficient will we be in our last minute….what would you do in our last minute?
    (brilliant web design!)

    The Test Tube with David Suzuki – The Test Tube

  5. It’s not a surprise that our children are more susceptible to respiratory problems – asthma, allergies, etc. This is not the same world that we were born into. We need to put a stop to burning fossil fuels at the expense of our children and our grandchildren.