Energy and global warming news for February 15: Global solar power growth doubled to 16 GW in 2010; Europe’s cap and trade suspended

Global Solar Power Growth Doubled in 2010

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.

Europe’s Cap and Trade Suspended

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 to Seek EU Funds for Building Carbon Capture Plant in Poland

PGE SA, Poland‘s biggest electricity company, said it’s seeking funds for a carbon capture plant from the European Union’s 4.5-billion-euro ($6 billion) program of pollution permits.

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.

Ecuadorian court rules Chevron must pay $9 billion for oil pollution

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.

Texas town known for refinery pollution does solar

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.

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

  1. Dickensian American says:

    Still reading the article myself, so can’t vouch yet for it’s quality but bounced over here to throw a link up:

    From the NYT Science Section:

    Squeezing Bills to Zero

    It’s just another day in what was designed to be the largest net-zero energy office building in America.

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    Cap and Trade is not the Solution, Carbon Tax is.

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    “Ecuadorian court rules Chevron must pay $9 billion for oil pollution”

    That is very cheap. And any implications with the current plans of exploration , after they asked the world to pay for NOT exploit more fossil? And is this a sign for countries like Nigeria to make Shell pay for the devastating Environment pollution they commit there? Which btw ended up in the ocean too, where we all feed from.

  4. KeenOn350 says:

    Cap and trade is not a solution – for a good quick overview of cap and trade, that tells it the way it really is – check Annie Leonard’s The Story of Cap and Trade

  5. Ted Ko says:

    One of the reasons we’re losing the policy debates on climate change is that we promote terrible messages like Annie Leonard’s The Story of Cap and Trade. For climate hawks, with friends like that, who needs enemies?

    Here’s a Grist takedown that actually doesn’t go far enough in debunking that video:

    For all the good she did with Story of Stuff, her reputation will be forever tainted by that video. It showed that although she can talk in simplistic terms about supply chains and waste, she’s horribly clueless about policy. And she commits all sorts of mistakes, fallacies and fearmongering that CP regularly blasts climate deniers for.

    Anyone who wants to be taken seriously on climate policy should distance themselves from that video as much as possible.

  6. paulm says:

    Ted Ko, we are all entitled to our own options.
    Whats your effort to right the current situation of modern day non-sustainable living?

  7. Colorado Bob says:

    Today 8:54 AM Global Warming Skeptics Hold Summit In Michigan

    The latest manifestation of the anti-regulation fervor sweeping the country: Activists are convening on two college campuses in Michigan today to attack the scientific consensus that climate change is accelerated by man-made emissions.

  8. Colorado Bob says:

    San Ramon – An Ecuadorian court has fined the US oil giant Chevron Corp 8.6 billion US dollars for leaking oil into its part of the Amazon rainforest, news reports said late Monday.

    If Chevron does not also publish an apology in US and Ecuadorian newspapers within two weeks, the judge said he would double the fine.,record-fine-polluting-rainforest.html

  9. Chris Winter says:

    Ted, I don’t understand your objection to the Annie Leonard video. All she is saying is that cap&trade can be co-opted by/for BAU. The same is true of almost any regulatory scheme, including taxes — as witness all the loopholes such as the ones David Cay Johnston wrote about in Perfectly Legal.

    Given the political will, it seems clear that an effective cap&trade system could be enacted. Finding that will is the crux of the matter; as Gwynne Dyer notes, it is a rare commodity these days.

  10. dbmetzger says:

    a little windy nugget from Australia public broadcasting
    Wind-Powered Car Travels Across Australia
    A team of two explorers has successfully driven a wind-powered electric car from Perth to Sydney, a distance of 5,000 kilometer.

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    It warns that, if carbon dioxide emissions continue at their current rate through the end of this century, atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas will reach levels that existed about 30 million to 100 million years ago. Global temperatures then averaged about 29 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels.

    The study also indicates that the planet’s climate system, over long periods of times, may be at least twice as sensitive to carbon dioxide as currently projected by computer models, which have generally focused on shorter-term warming trends.

  12. paulm says:

    13 Bob,

    Yes. Only a miracle is going to save our species and the biosphere. We are in a ME6 event. Triggered by us.
    The way I see it though, we still have to address this and move towards the ‘Right Way’.

    Its a moral issue that each of us should confront.

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    The World has Changed!

    Factbox: Demands of Bahrain’s protesters

    ‘World is changing,’ Obama warns Mideast rulers
    They must be ‘responsive to this hunger for change,’ he says

  14. paulm says:

    I am not sure if we will reach 1000ppm levels as civilization collapse is already starting and that will quickly ramp back CO2 emissions.

    However, it all depends on the natural methane part of the equation and whether become a significant contribution in the future.

  15. Prokaryotes says:

    Just look at the Sweden Success Story once they introduced the Carbon tax, in 1990.

    Between 1990 and 2006, Sweden’s economy grew by 44 percent
    It increased the use of bioenergy,” said University of Lund Professor Thomas Johansson, former director of energy and climate at the UN Development Programme. “It had a major impact in particular on heating. Every city in Sweden uses district heating. Before, coal or oil were used for district heating. Now biomass is used, usually waste from forests and forest industries.”

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war.

  17. paulm says:

    100 percent renewable energy is possible by 2050. A world without oil spills. A world without tailing ponds. A world without humans altering the chemistry and livelihood of the oceans from climate change. What are we waiting for?

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    Three large energy companies have been carrying out covert intelligence-gathering operations on environmental activists, the Guardian can reveal.

    The energy giant E.ON, Britain’s second-biggest coal producer Scottish Resources Group and Scottish Power, one of the UK’s largest electricity-generators, have been paying for the services of a private security firm that has been secretly monitoring activists.

  19. Colorado Bob says:

    If you live at a high northern or southern latitude, watch for some spectacular lights in the sky Tuesday night.

    The sun unleashed its strongest solar flare of the year Sunday, and the cloud of radiation it spewed will hit Earth’s magnetic field Tuesday, NASA said.

  20. Colorado Bob says:

    (Reuters) – World Bank chief Robert Zoellick Tuesday said global food prices have reached dangerous levels that could complicate fragile political and social conditions in the Middle East, and warned that their impact also bears watching across Central Asia.

  21. Colorado Bob says:

    This week, Reps. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Sandy Adams (R-Fla.) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah) called for a budget that would “reprioritize NASA” by axing the funding for climate change research. The original cuts to the budget outlined yesterday would have cut $379 million from NASA’s budget. These members want climate out of NASA’s purview entirely, however. Funding climate research, said Adams in a statement, “undercuts one of NASA’s primary and most important objectives of human spaceflight.”

  22. Colorado Bob says:

    Global food supplies will face “massive disruptions” from climate change, Olam International Ltd. predicted, as Agrocorp International Pte. said corn will gain to a record, stoking food inflation and increasing hunger.

    “The fact is that climate around the world is changing and that will cause massive disruptions,” Sunny Verghese, chief executive officer at Olam, among the world’s three biggest suppliers of rice and cotton, said in a Bloomberg Television interview today.

  23. Colorado Bob says:

    Flash floods have caused millions of rand in damage after infrastructure, homes and businesses were destroyed in several areas in the Karoo over the past week.

    Residents say the rains started on Wednesday and escalated with more than 100mm falling at the weekend.

    In some places, 75mm fell in just 30 minutes, causing farm dams to burst.

  24. paulm says:
    unlike during the 2007-2008 food crisis, higher prices have not yet affected all regions of the world.

  25. Colorado Bob says:

    Sen. Mark Udall –

    Help stop anti-environment legislation

    Sign our petition to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee urging them to vote no on anti-environment legislation that seeks to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority and allow big polluters and their lobbyists to write their own rules.

    We’ll be delivering the petition to committee Chair Barbara Boxer later this month, so sign now by entering your information in the form on the right!

  26. Michael T. says:

    NOAA reports on January 2011 global temperature and climate:

    NOAA: January 2011 Ranked 17th Warmest on Record

    State of the Climate Global Analysis – January 2011

  27. paulm says:

    More rain in Auz…

    “Some of the biggest, meanest blackest clouds I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.

    He says part of his hotel had now flooded three times since December.

    Barossa grape growers are now checking whether the storms caused any serious damage to their crops.

    Ebenezer grower Adrian Hoffmann had 79 millimetres of rain in just under an hour.

  28. Michael T. says:

    Scientist Jim Hansen Talks Climate Change (2009.05.26)

    “Jim Hansen has been at the center of the climate change debate since the early Eighties as both a prominent scientist and spokesman alerting the public to the threats and uncertainties of global climate change. The head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Hansen studies radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres related to global change on Earth. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.”

  29. Ziyu says:

    There is a complete attitude problem in the US. I just went to the Hill and you would not believe the comments in there. They call for a complete abolishment of the EPA and call anyone who supports it a left wing loony out to destroy the economy. They have unabashed support for fossil fuels, calling them bastions of freedom and that clean energy is a liberal utopia out to increase government.

  30. Prokaryotes says:

    There is a lot of talk around about why science isn’t being done on blogs. It can happen though, and sometimes blog posts can even end up as (part of) a real Science paper. However, the process is non-trivial and the relatively small number of examples of such a transition demonstrate clearly why blog science is not going to replace the peer-reviewed literature any time soon.

    From Blog to Science

  31. James Newberry says:

    paulm, #20

    Dito for Denmark. A 2010 study says they can be a 100% renewable, clean energy economy by 2050 with essentially no cost to GDP, if the policy is set in place starting now. To minimize cost, worn out equipment and infrastructure is changed at time of replacement with efficiency and renewable upgrade.

    In actuality, it will be a benefit if externalities are included, like security and health.

  32. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Is it substantial?

    Here is growth of Wind Power:

    At the end of 2009, worldwide nameplate capacity of wind-powered generators was 159.2 gigawatts (GW). (By June 2010 the capacity had risen to 175 GW). Energy production was 340 TWh, which is about 2% of worldwide electricity usage; and has doubled in the past three years.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  33. Paulm says:

    37 James, such a pity we did not start 10yrs previous.

  34. Mike says:

    In the tropics of the Western Hemisphere, ecologists had the impression that native vines were choking the daylights out of the trees. Now they know the vines are indeed taking control. …..

    Schnitzer explains that there are several possible explanations for why the vines are turning the forests into jungles. Vines have a high tolerance for droughts; they recover quickly from natural disturbances, such as hurricanes and El Niño events, and are among the first to return to the scene after logging, agriculture and road construction tears into the environment.

    Increased carbon dioxide levels may also be giving vines growth spurts that they can use more advantageously than the trees. But whatever the reason for the vine take-over, the outcome is looking dim for trees.

  35. Prokaryotes says:

    Investors need to apply climate-change factors — Mercer report
    Institutional investors around the world should build climate-change risks into their asset allocation and risk management processes and urge policymakers to act quickly to curb emissions, according to a new report by Mercer.

    Investors should broaden their approaches to include an awareness of risk factors and include climate-sensitive investments such as those in infrastructure and sustainable equities in their asset allocations, Danyelle Guyatt, principal and global head of research, responsible investment at Mercer, said at a client conference on the report Tuesday in London.

    “There is an increased source of risk from climate change, and it could be material,” Ms. Guyatt said.

    Read more:

    Or how affords by Koch’s and Exxon threaten the essential Economy – The Way of Life.

  36. Michael T. says:

    Pricing Carbon Conference – James Hansen Dinner Talk

  37. Ted Ko says:

    paulm #8

    I agree we are all entitled to our options. My objection is to people trying to influence the public opinion to go against an option when they have no idea what they’re talking about.

    My effort towards a sustainable future is a full-time job advocating for better clean energy policies in the US. What’s yours?

  38. Ted Ko says:

    Chris Winter #11

    Actually, what Annie Leonard is saying is not that cap&trade “can” have these issues, she’s telling people that cap&trade “will” and “does” have these issues.

    She was fine with Story of Stuff where she could state how things operate today and everything she was saying could be backed up by evidence.

    But with Story of Cap&Trade, using the same matter-of-fact tone, she makes claims that can’t be backed up because the system isn’t operating yet. She wants you to convince you that any cap&trade system will inherently go bad.

    So, she’s saying “I can’t prove any of this, but be afraid of this policy”. This is fundamentally poor behavior in policy discussions, and something that CP readers should be used to calling out and debunking.

  39. Prokaryotes says:

    Heavy storms cause deadly floods in Ecuador
    Huge rainfall has caused lethal mudslides and floods in Ecuador, destroying homes and killing at least two people.