46 Responses to Energy and global warming news for February 15: Global solar power growth doubled to 16 GW in 2010; Europe’s cap and trade suspended
The world added about 16 gigawatts of new solar photovoltaic (PV) power in 2010, double the growth seen a year earlier, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association told Reuters on Monday.
Uncertainty about Italian figures made a precise figure difficult, after an end-of-year rush to qualify for a higher solar power price premium, called a feed-in tariff.
The global increase compared with 7.2 GW of new capacity in 2009, confounding a financial crisis and reflecting sharp falls in solar panel prices and generous subsidies, especially in Germany and Italy.
“Solar PV is continuing to develop in countries that put a feed-in tariff in place,” said EPIA economist Gaetan Masson.
The added capacity in 2010 brought cumulative, global solar PV power to nearly 40 GW, up 70 percent from nearly 23 GW in 2009.
Europe dominated new solar power installations last year, at about 13 gigawatts (GW), Masson estimated, with Germany and Italy accounting for nearly 7 GW and about 3 GW respectively….
Outside Europe, the biggest markets were Japan (about 1 GW), United States (0.8 GW) and China (0.4 GW).
Solar panel prices have halved since 2007, say analysts, at about $1.8 per watt at the end of 2010 compared with $3.7 three years earlier.
The fortunes of the solar market contrasted with wind, which last year shrank for the first time in two decades as a result of a difficult market for project finance as well as uncertain regulatory support.
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.
But there was a problem””the system did not set up a central clearing house for the scheme in Brussels (one will become operational in 2013). Instead, it was up to individual countries to track ETS transactions on electronic registries. That opened the system up to fraud and theft. As Gabriele Steinhauser of The Associated Press explained in a recent article, “the fragmented nature of the market means there is nobody to track stolen or missing certificates, no catch-all number to ring up when an account has been raided.” What’s more, Steinhauser writes, carbon certificates can be traded quickly across borders, and “national registries don’t have the ability to verify the identity, and therefore the legality, of carbon credits prior to moving them into an account.”
PGE submitted its Belchatow carbon capture and storage demonstration project in central Poland to the European Commission funding initiative known as the New Entrants Reserve 300, Sylwia Filimon, a spokeswoman for PGE, said today.
Under the program, revenue from the sale of 300 million allowances to emit carbon dioxide under Europe’s cap-and-trade program will be used to aid CO2 capture and renewable energy projects. The European Investment Bank will sell the permits and disburse revenue via national governments.
The project would install carbon capture and storage technology at a new 858-megawatt power plant in Belchatow. The system would siphon off fossil fuel emissions blamed for climate change and store them permanently underground.
A judge in a small jungle town in Ecuador on Monday ordered Chevron to pay more than $9 billion in damages, finding the energy giant responsible for the oil pollution that has fouled a stretch of land along Ecuador’s northern border.
The case, which began in a New York court in 1993, has been closely monitored by the oil industry for precedents that might be set for future lawsuits.
The amount in the ruling – $8.6 billion plus a legally required 10 percent reparations fee – was issued by Judge Nicolas Zambrano in the town of Lago Agrio. The amount dwarfs the $3.9 billion that Exxon Mobil was ordered to pay for the 1989 spill in Alaska. But Chevron said it would appeal, accusing the plaintiff’s attorneys of conspiring with witnesses to present tainted testimony.
“The Ecuadorian court’s judgment is illegitimate and unenforceable,” a Chevron statement said. “It is the product of fraud.”
Indeed, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York last week issued an order that temporarily bars efforts to collect money from Chevron, which has assets the world over but not in Ecuador.
In a phone interview from Ecuador, Pablo Fajardo, an attorney for the plaintiffs, acknowledged that the case is far from over. “This is an important step. It sets a precedent, but the battle does not end here,” Fajardo said.
A Houston-area town nicknamed “Stinkadena” because of refinery pollution has installed $2 million solar “labs” on the roofs of two local high schools.
Sam Rayburn High School science specialist Grace Blasingame says Pasadena students will use the labs to study solar energy, with their data being incorporated fully into the schools’ curriculum. For example, computer teachers will use it to teach students Excel and PowerPoint and social studies teachers will use the lab to teach the history of energy.