Simple changes like installing better building insulation could cut the world’s energy demands by three-quarters, according to a new study.
Discussions about reducing greenhouse gas emissions usually concentrate on cleaner ways of generating energy: that’s because they promise that we can lower emissions without having to change our energy-hungry ways. But whereas new generation techniques take years to come on stream, efficiency can be improved today, with existing technologies and know-how.
To calculate how much energy could be saved through such improvements, Julian Allwood and colleagues at the University of Cambridge analysed the buildings, vehicles and industry around us and applied “best practice” efficiency changes to them.
Changes to homes and buildings included triple-glazing windows and installing 300-millimetre-thick cavity wall insulation, using saucepan lids when cooking on the stove top, eliminating hot-water tanks and reducing the set temperature of washing machines and dishwashers. In transportation, the weight of cars was limited to 300 kilograms.
They found that 73 per cent of global energy use could be saved by introducing such changes.
While the RAND Corporation says the US military won’t directly benefit from switching to renewable fuels–that is, it’s own operations won’t benefit, even if the nation will–another just released study says otherwise. The Office of Naval Research, in partnership with the Marine Corps, says it has solid evidence of the benefits of switching to renewable energy at forward operating bases.
The argument in favor of using more renewable energy is one that has been made several times before, in the words of Rear Admiral Nevin Carr, chief of naval research,
By doing so there is the potential for the Marine Corps to cut back the number of resupply convoys to these remote locations and save lives by keeping Marines clear of IED attacks. (Science Daily)
Examples from Afghanistan include using solar panels to charge batteries (in the military’s alphabet soup, SPACES or Solar Portable Alternative Energy Systems) the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines have been able to conduct extended patrols without the need for resupply. Using GREENS (Ground Renewable Energy Networks, a photovoltaic battery system) fuel for generators at Marine Corps forward operating bases testing the system was reduced by 90%.
Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, plans to raise spending on research and development to 4.5 billion euros ($6.2 billion) in 2011 as it pours more money into its range of energy-saving equipment.
This year’s budget represents a record when adjusted for disposals, and is a 17 percent increase over last year’s 3.85 billion euros, spokesman Ulrich Eberl said in a Jan. 26 phone interview. The budget for wind-energy products has tripled in the past two years, Rene Umlauft, head of Siemens’s renewable energy division, said in an interview.
Siemens has invested “hundreds of millions” of euros in wind energy since entering the industry with an acquisition in 2004, Umlauft said. The division plans to add at least 2,000 employees to its current 7,000-strong force to help work through a 10 billion-euro backlog.
“We are going to spend a lot of money,” Umlauft said.
The German company, based in Munich, is going head to head with General Electric Co. in the market for turbines, products for the renewable energy industry, and scanners and equipment used in healthcare.
General Electric Co., ConocoPhilips and NRG Energy Inc. have committed $300 million in capital to a joint venture that will invest in emerging energy technology companies.
The investment company, Energy Technology Ventures, will back about 30 startups over the next four years, they said in a joint statement today.
Collaborating with other major energy companies “enables us to pool our financial resources and technological expertise – - along with our extensive relationships — to provide more than money to emerging energy technology companies,” Kevin Skillern, managing director and leader of venture capital at GE Energy Financial Services, said in the statement.
The joint venture will focus on companies that are developing technology for renewable energy, smart grid, energy efficiency, oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, emission controls, water and biofuels.
Energy Technology Ventures’ first investments are in Santa Clara, California-based solar photovoltaic cell maker Alta Devices; Centennial, Colorado-based coal-to-methane technology company Ciris Energy Inc. and CoolPlanetBiofuels, a Camarillo, California-based non-food biofuels developer, according to the statement. It did not say how much money it has provided to them.
Climate negotiators from almost 200 nations will hold an extra session in Bangkok in April to try to unblock work on a successor to the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol for slowing global warming, officials said on Friday.
They said that 2011 is likely to mark a slowdown in the overall number of U.N. meetings about climate change after a rush of talks since 2007 failed to come up with a treaty.
“The session…will be held in Bangkok from April 3 to 8,” according to an official who took part in a video conference meeting this week. The Bangkok talks will gather senior government negotiators.
The meeting adds to an existing schedule of a June session in Bonn, Germany and annual talks among environment ministers in Durban, South Africa, at the end of 2011. Another session is likely to be added between Bonn and Durban.
In Mexico last month, ministers agreed steps including a deal to set up a new fund to channel aid to developing nations as well as a goal of limiting any rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times.
Officials say talks in 2011 will try to fill in the details of many of those plans, including greenhouse gas cuts meant to help avert ever more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels predicted by the U.N. panel of climate experts.
Presidents Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Jacob Zuma of South Africa, hosts of global climate change summits, on Thursday urged the United States to take stronger action on the issue.
In a debate before business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the leaders regretted that their US counterpart Barack Obama had not once mentioned climate change in his State of the Union address this week.
“The world needs action from the United States,” said Calderon, who last month hosted a climate change summit in Cancun at which countries agreed to deep cuts in carbon emissions in order to slow climate change.
Zuma, who has been working with Calderon and will host the next UN-backed climate summit in Durban before the end of the year, agreed, saying: “We need action in the context of what the world has agreed to do.”
Both men agreed Obama faces domestic political opposition to his taking the lead on the emissions cutting agenda, and said they thought him serious about the issue. But both called for faster action from Washington.
U.S. businesses must do more to pressure Congress to act on climate change and realize that China is “winning the green race,” world leaders and climate change experts said Thursday at the World Economic Forum.
In a panel discussion at Davos, where some 2,500 business leaders and politicans are gathered, U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres said China “is going to leave us all in the dust” in the transition toward a more energy-efficient global economy.
The Chinese, she said, “are not doing it just because they want to save the planet. They are doing it because it’s good for the economy.”
European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said it’s time that American businesses realize that “it’s bad business to not be among the front-runners” in that race.
There is serious concern about how to keep the global economy moving forward while, at the same time, ensuring that people in the developing world are not denied a chance to better their lives without contributing to factors that have caused global warming.
Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming plans to introduce legislation Monday to preempt the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan to regulate carbon emissions, The Daily Caller has learned. It is the latest move by congressional Republicans who view the agency’s rules as a backdoor attempt to implement a cap and trade system.
“Barrasso’s bill stops this backdoor attempt to enact Obama’s cap-and-trade agenda through EPA and the rest of the federal bureaucracy,” said Barrasso spokesperson Emily Lawrimore. “The Barrasso bill restates and reaffirms the will of Congress as the sole authority over federal climate change policy.”
The bill, however, will go beyond just blocking the EPA. It will stop all federal agencies from implementing new energy taxes that could have a negative effect on employment and energy costs.
Barrasso’s bill builds off an amendment introduced last spring by then-Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich that would have blocked the EPA and individual U.S. states from regulating greenhouse gases.
While Voinovich’s amendment and the climate bill it was attached to never passed, Barrasso has used the Voinovich amendment as a template for his standalone bill. According to Lawrimore, the specifics of the bill are still being worked out.
The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that new Tea Party Governor Susana Martinez violated the state constitution when she prevented New Mexico’s democratically-approved rule reducing carbon pollution from being published as codified state law.
Essentially their supreme court said “no one is above the law.”
The lawsuit was filed by the environmental nonprofit New Energy Economy, and reflects growing claims that Gov. Martinez tried to suppress the rule in an attempt to appease major carbon polluters who contributed heavily to her gubernatorial campaign, and that her suppression was arbitrary and illegal. Preventing its publication was not discretionary, the court ruled. According to eyewitnesses, it seemed as if this New Mexico Supreme Court ruling took just 30 minutes to decide.
Since Governor Martinez is actually a former assistant state attorney, the illegality of her action brought up a question in my mind. I asked Mariel Nanasi, the Executive Director of NEE, wouldn’t she know that was illegal? Nanasi laughed as if this was obvious, saying; “pretty much any attorney in that position would know that this suppression was illegal.”
The Senate committee with primary jurisdiction for U.S. energy policy added Joe Manchin, the former West Virginia governor who won office after using climate-change legislation for target practice in a 2010 ad.
Manchin will join the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to an e-mail yesterday from Bill Wicker, a committee spokesman. The panel, led by Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, plans to draft legislation that sets guidelines for how much electricity comes from sources such as coal, natural gas, wind and sun.
West Virginia is the second-biggest coal-producing state after Wyoming, according to Energy Department data. In his commercial, Manchin loads a rifle and fires a single bullet into a copy of the cap-and-trade bill backed by President Barack Obama that would penalize utilities for using coal.
“Manchin getting a seat on the energy committee is just an indication of the role that coal will play in the energy debate in the coming months,” said Tyson Slocum, energy director of the Washington-based advocacy group Public Citizen. “Coal is going to have its say in all of this.”
The new makeup of the Senate Energy Committee – including a diverse handful of Tea Party and potentially centrist Republicans – raises major questions about whether it’s possible to reach common ground on a key “clean energy” production mandate and other energy initiatives President Barack Obama has called for.
Five freshmen GOP senators have joined the panel, led by members of the Tea Party movement: Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Utah’s Mike Lee. A Democratic freshman, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, is another new member and potential wild card on a panel that in the previous Congress proved more effective than most committees in hammering out deals across party lines.
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) – who worked closely with Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) in 2009 to include a renewable power mandate in a broader energy package passed by the committee – left the Senate to become governor. Also gone from the panel is Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) – one of four Republicans that gave backing to the energy measure.
It is unclear whether Paul and Lee will veer farther to the right than the men they succeeded both on the panel and in the full Senate – Sens. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah).
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is launching fresh attacks against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its recent decision to block a large mountaintop-removal mining project in West Virginia.
Lawmakers from West Virginia and Ohio introduced a measure Wednesday that would prevent EPA from vetoing Clean Water Act permits that have already been approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) sponsored the bill, and co-sponsors include Reps. Nick Rahall (W.Va.), the top Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.); and Ohio Republicans Bill Johnson and Bob Gibbs.
Coal-industry allies are furious with EPA over its decision this month to veto the Clean Water Act permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia after the large project won approval from the Corps in 2007. The new bill would apply retroactively to the beginning of this year, thus blocking EPA’s veto of the mine, McKinley’s office said.
“For years, the EPA has been bullying coal companies and the workers they employ,” the freshman Republican said in a statement. He alleges that if EPA is able to overturn Corps’s permits, “dozens of heavily regulated industries and hundreds of thousands of American jobs hang in the balance.”
A West Virginia Republican filed a bipartisan House bill yesterday that would prevent U.S. EPA from retroactively vetoing water permits as it did earlier this month, blocking the largest-ever proposed mountaintop coal mine in Appalachia.
Rep. David McKinley’s legislation (H.R. 457 (pdf)) also aims to reverse EPA’s permit veto by setting an effective date of Jan. 1.
At issue is EPA’s Jan. 13 veto of a Clean Water Act permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers to the proposed 2,200-acre Spruce No. 1 mountaintop mine, citing damage the project would do to the environment and nearby West Virginia communities (Greenwire, Jan. 13).
West Virginia’s congressional delegation bristled in the aftermath of EPA’s veto. The coal-mining industry directly employs 31,000 in Appalachian states and produces about 11 percent of the nation’s coal.
Business groups have targeted the Environmental Protection Agency along with workplace-safety laws in response to requests from congressional Republicans to describe regulations they believe are curbing growth.
The new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), wrote to dozens of trade associations and businesses last month asking them to identify “regulations that negatively impact the economy and jobs.”
Since then, President Barack Obama announced a review of all regulations, and said in the State of the Union address that “when we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them.”
Responding to Mr. Issa’s call, groups representing the petroleum, manufacturing, construction, paper, chemical and farming industries, as well as small and minority businesses, all criticized the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases.
Republicans have said that they will make all of the responses public by mid-February, along with their assessment of regulations that should be jettison or changed.
U.S. EPA’s air division has made headlines under President Obama for its push to limit greenhouse gases and toxic pollution, but the busy office is running late with new limits on asthma-inducing soot, close observers of the rulemaking process say.
The Obama administration is nearing a decision point on particulate matter (PM), a pollution cocktail that includes run-of-the-mill dust and the chemical-laden soot that is released when fossil fuels are burned. When the current limits were put in place under President Clinton, the changes prompted an intense backlash from lobbyists and Republicans on Capitol Hill — a debate that will likely be reprised should the Obama administration decide to act.
EPA has said it will decide by next month whether health concerns justify any changes to the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for particulates.
The soot standards apply from coast to coast, setting a cap on the acceptable amount of dust and soot in the air that Americans breathe. State and local agencies are required to take action when the air in their neck of the woods isn’t clean enough.
The second-largest petroleum refinery in the United States agreed to pay millions of dollars in damages for Clean Air Act violations, U.S. regulators said.
Hovensa LLC, which owns the second-largest petroleum refinery in the United States, agreed to pay $5.3 million in civil penalties and invest more than $700 million in pollution control equipment to settle Clean Air Act violations at its facility in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S Justice Department announced.
“This is another major step in our efforts, alongside EPA, to bring the petroleum refining sector into compliance with our nation’s environmental laws,” Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources division of the Department of Justice, said in a statement.
The federal complaint accused Hovensa of making modifications to its refinery that led to increased emissions without getting the approval from the government as required by the Clean Air Act.
The investments made by Hovensa under the deal will result in the removal of more than 8,000 tons of harmful chemicals that lead to acid rain and smog.
The settlement is the 105th for the EPA, which the regulatory agency said indicates that more than 90 percent of the refining capacity in the United States is under agreements with the government to reduce their emissions.
The St. Croix facility is one of the largest in the world, refining more than 525,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
OPEC will have to raise oil prices in coming years to maximize revenue even as it acts to quell crude’s rally toward $100 a barrel in the short term, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Indications that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are raising output unilaterally are the first signs of a response to rising prices, said analysts at the second-largest U.S. bank by assets. Crude fell to a five-week low Jan. 24 after Ali al-Naimi, the oil minister of OPEC’s biggest member, Saudi Arabia, said the 12-member group will boost supply this year.
“The producer group does not want oil prices to rise too high, too quickly,” JPMorgan analysts, led by New York-based Lawrence Eagles, said in a monthly report dated yesterday. “But we believe the group has little option but to incrementally raise prices over the coming years to maximize the revenue from each barrel of oil produced.”
There will be 400 million more cars on the world’s roads 20 years from now, yet gasoline consumption will decline, according to a projection from Exxon Mobil Corp. in its long-term energy outlook released Thursday.
The world’s biggest investor-owned oil and gas company expects energy use overall will grow 35 percent by 2030, But that growth would be three times higher if people used as much energy per capita as they do now.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in projections of gasoline demand. People in developing countries, especially China, will drive millions of more cars and gas demand will grow, but the cars will be more efficient than those of the past.
Meanwhile, improvements in fuel efficiency in the U.S. and Europe will create a drop in demand that more than matches Asia’s growth. Demand for fuel for passenger vehicles will decline by 20 percent in the U.S. and by one third in Europe by 2030.
Meanwhile, improvements in fuel efficiency in the U.S. and Europe will create a drop in demand that more than matches Asia’s growth. Demand for fuel for passenger vehicles will decline by 20 percent in the U.S. and by one third in Europe by 2030.
Exxon’s long-term energy analysis, updated and released to the public every year, paints a picture of what Bill Colton, vice president, Corporate Strategic Planning called a “tale of two worlds.”
In developed countries like the U.S., Japan, and the nations of Europe, demand for energy will stay flat even as economic activity increases by 60 percent. In developing countries like China, India and Brazil, demand for energy will rise more than 70 percent as more and more people gain access to electricity and transportation
* Net coal imports to continue growing after record purchases
* Power use to grow at a slower pace of 9 pct this yr
* Starts building 20 GW hydropower this yr, 10 pct of total
* Adding one-third of wind power capacity in 2011
BEIJING, Jan 28 (Reuters) – China will ramp up conventional fuel imports and production to power its economy in 2011 despite accelerating efforts to develop clean, renewable and alternative energy.
The National Energy Administration (NEA) estimated on Friday that energy demand in the world’s second largest economy will increase steadily but the growth could moderate from last year.
It did not provide an estimate of overall energy demand this year or energy used last year.
“China’s net coal imports hit 146 million tonnes in 2010. It could keep increasing in 2011,” Wang Siqiang, deputy head of general affairs department under the NEA, said in a quarterly press conference.
“Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Columbia and Russia will continue increasing their percentages of exports to China along with their rising coal output in 2011.”
IN RICH countries, where people worry about air quality and debate ways of pricing carbon emissions, coal is deeply unfashionable. Elsewhere demand for the dirty rocks has never been stronger. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reckons world consumption will increase by a fifth over the next 25 years, assuming governments stick to their current climate-change policies. A new age of coal is upon us.
The IEA estimates that China, which generates more than 70% of its electricity with coal, will build 600 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power capacity in the next quarter-century””as much as is currently generated with coal in America, Japan and the European Union put together. Nomura, a Japanese bank, thinks that may be an underestimate. It reckons China will add some 500GW of coal-fired power by as early as 2015, and will more than double its current generating capacity by 2020. It expects Indian coal-fired power generation to grow too””though more slowly.
Even developing countries with vast quantities of coal under home soil will find themselves unable to dig it out quickly enough to meet demand. China, the world’s biggest coal producer by some distance, has turned to foreign suppliers over the past couple of years and is likely to rely on them even more in future. Its voracious appetite for energy and steel means it will need at least 5-7% more coal each year. Citigroup reckons China will import 233m tonnes in 2011. As Daniel Brebner of Deutsche Bank points out, that is considerably more than the annual capacity of Richards Bay in South Africa or Newcastle in Australia, the world’s biggest coal ports.
President Barack Obama’s proposed clean energy mandate has more appeal to Iowa industries and electric utilities than do caps on greenhouse gases, but they’ll still be wary of any new policy that could increase power costs.
Obama is calling for the nation to get 80 percent of its power from clean sources by 2035, about double the current level, according to the White House. Nuclear energy and natural gas would count toward the target, as well as wind, solar and clean-coal technology.
The proposal is an alternative to the plan Obama pushed unsuccessfully in the last Congress to cap greenhouse gases and require emitters to buy pollution permits, a provision that Iowa utilities said would force large rate increases. But any kind of power mandate still faces stiff Republican resistance in Congress.
It probably won’t help sell the proposal that it’s coming on top of new environmental regulations that affect utilities.
The first generation of any innovation””be it a new mobile phone or computer system””always comes with glitches and flaws. But still it’s tough not to feel frustrated this week by news that Europe’s carbon trading market–the first of its kind, and designed as a model for cap-and-trade schemes around the world–has been closed following a digital heist that saw an estimated $38 million of carbon credits stolen.
Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was set up in 2005 to help modernize the continent’s greenhouse-gas emitting industries, and therefore reduce Europe’s carbon footprint. From the outset, companies were either allocated free carbon credits or bought them””if they exceeded their emissions quotas they were forced to buy certificates from companies that managed to reduce their carbon output through efficiency measures. On paper, the scheme has been a success: ETS now covers some 12,000 installations in a $100 billion-a-year market.