March 15 news: Non-nuclear clean energy to double by 2020; Clean-energy companies jump for second day after Japan nuke disaster

Report: Non-nuclear clean energy to double by 2020

As concerns mount over nuclear power safety in the aftermath of Japan’s massive earthquake, a new report says other energy sources not derived from fossil fuels are expanding and will likely double market share within a decade.

Global revenue for solar photovoltaics (PV), wind power and biofuels jumped 35% last year, compared with 2009, growing from $139.1 billion to $188.1 billion, according to the 10th annual report Monday by Clean Edge Inc., a U.S.-based research and advisory firm. Most of this growth was due to a doubling in solar PV installations and steady growth in the biofuels sector. For the first time in a decade, however, the wind market showed a slight decline.

The global market for solar PV skyrocketed from $2.5 billion in 2000 to $71.2 billion in 2010 and that for wind power surged from $4.5 billion in 2000 to more than $60.5 billion today, the report says.

“As witnessed over the past decade, clean tech has proven to be a significant business opportunity, and its growth rates now rival that of earlier technology revolutions like telephony, computers, and the Internet,” said Ron Pernick, Clean Edge co-founder and managing director.

Clean-Energy Companies Jump for Second Day After Japanese Atomic Situation

Equipment makers for solar and wind energy climbed as much as 32 percent, rallying for a second day on speculation that clean energy will benefit in the aftermath of Japan‘s nuclear-reactor accident.

In Germany, the world’s largest solar-panel market, photovoltaic panel producer Solarworld AG (SWV) jumped 22 percent as of 3:59 local time after trading 32 percent higher. Rival Q- Cells AG gained 13 percent. Among wind turbine companies, Nordex SE (NDX1) rose 18 percent and in the U.S. Broadwind Energy Inc. (BWEN) jumped 20 percent.

Germany will halt nuclear reactors accounting for 25 percent of its atomic energy capacity as part of a safety review after explosions at reactors in Japan, Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin today. The government will use the three-month moratorium on the extension of the life of German nuclear plants announced yesterday to review whether the country can speed up installations of renewable energy.

“The nuclear catastrophe in Japan has changed the value of nuclear for good — and inversely that of all alternatives, the best of which being hydro,” Ing Becker, an analyst at Kepler in Frankfurt, wrote in a note to customers yesterday.

Solaria Energia y Medio Ambiente SA (SLR), a Madrid-based developer of solar farms and maker of photovoltaic panels, jumped 14 percent.

In Austria, Verbund AG (VER) rose the most since May 2009 in intraday trading, up 9.5 percent in Vienna. Austria’s biggest utility gets about 90 percent of its domestic output from hydropower. It had the biggest increase in the 29-member Bloomberg European Utilities Index, which fell 2 percent.

California May Start Carbon Trade Without Allies, Chief Says

California, which is seeking to build a regional carbon market for the U.S. West and parts of Canada, may start its cap-and-trade program next year even if other jurisdictions aren’t ready, a state official said.

“We could do the program on our own, but we’d rather not,” California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols told reporters today after speaking at an International Emissions Trading Association conference in Washington.

The air resources board last year identified New Mexico and Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia in Canada as governments that may be ready to join a regional carbon market in 2012. California approved its cap-and-trade regulations in December.

California’s planned carbon market is similar to the cap- and-trade program that President Barack Obama failed to push through Congress last year. Power plants, oil refineries and factories would buy and sell pollution allowances that each represent one metric ton of carbon dioxide. The supply of allowances would be trimmed over time to enforce a 15 percent cut in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases linked to global warming by 2020.

A lawsuit by an environmental group won’t stop the program from starting next year, Nichols said. The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment is among advocacy organizations that are suing the Air Resources Board to force reconsideration of its greenhouse-gas regulations. The board’s climate-change rules don’t satisfy a requirement in the state’s 2006 global-warming law to clean up poor, polluted neighborhoods, the groups said.

EPA to Release Long-Awaited Rules on Toxic Power Plant Emissions This Week

An ongoing fight in Congress to limit EPA’s role in regulating greenhouse gases is obscuring the importance of these long-overdue rules to public health

This week the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release new standards for coal- and oil-fired power plants that will limit the emissions of 84 different “air toxics,” including mercury, benzene, hydrogen chloride and radioactive material.

According to EPA, American coal plants produce 386,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants per year. The toxins they release “” hazardous chemicals that can lead to disease, brain damage and premature death “” affect every part of the human body. Arsenic, chromium and nickel cause cancer; lead damages the nervous system; acid gases irritate the nose and throat; dioxins affect the reproductive endocrine and immune systems; and volatile organic compounds weaken lungs and eyes.

Congress amended the Clean Air Act in 1990 to control industrial emissions of hazardous air pollutants, but coal-fired power plants were exempt until 2000. More than ten years later, the standards will finally be released for public comment and finalized in November.

EU May Need Tighter Supply to Avoid CO2 Slump, Adviser Says

The European Union may need to tighten the supply of permits in its emissions-trading system to avoid a price slump if planned energy-efficiency measures curb demand for pollution rights.

“If we are serious about our energy-efficiency targets, then this would almost take the value of emissions allowances down to zero,” Pierre Dechamps, adviser for energy, climate change and environment at the EU regulator, said today at a conference in London. “Unless we introduce more stringent measures or tighten the market, we are in a situation where there will be a drastic decline in prices,” Dechamps said.

The EU’s emissions trading system, known as the ETS, is the cornerstone of Europe’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for climate change. It imposes pollution limits on more than 11,000 utilities and manufacturing companies and sets a 2020 cap on discharges that would be 20 percent below 1990 levels.

The European Commission, the EU regulator, said last week it planned to oblige governments and businesses to make energy efficiency a higher priority to help the bloc exceed its 20 percent reduction goal and boost the security of supplies. The commission proposed slashing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

19 Responses to March 15 news: Non-nuclear clean energy to double by 2020; Clean-energy companies jump for second day after Japan nuke disaster

  1. Tim Maher says:

    Hi Joe,

    I’m just curious on your professional opinion of the current nuclear situation and possible exposure for US West Coast. The Oregonian did a piece on it this morning, but my main question was definitely not answered: If the meltdown lasts for several months, as the engineers predict, will the material be able to retain a harmful concentration upon landfall? Or is the distance from Japan to US large enough so that the material will be disbursed globally (in the upper atmosphere) before it has a chance to hit US land?


    [JR: I think the risk, for now, is small. The spent fuel pools are the biggest problem, I think.]

  2. phil says:

    If sea water were pooled, salt could be lifted from a mine and added to the water, raising the boiling temperature. IDK about volatile gases or corrosion.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Doubling is fine, but quadrupling is closer to what is needed, and is perfectly feasible.

  4. Mike says:

    Arctic on the Verge of Record Ozone Loss

    ScienceDaily (Mar. 14, 2011) — Unusually low temperatures in the Arctic ozone layer have recently initiated massive ozone depletion. The Arctic appears to be heading for a record loss of this trace gas that protects Earth’s surface against ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

    For several years now scientists have pointed to a connection between ozone loss and climate change, and particularly to the fact that in the Arctic stratosphere at about 20km altitude, where the ozone layer is, the coldest winters seem to have been getting colder and leading to larger ozone losses. “The current winter is a continuation of this development, which may indeed be connected to global warming,” atmosphere researcher Rex explains the connection that appears paradoxical only at first glance. “To put it in a simplified manner, increasing greenhouse gas concentrations retain Earth’s thermal radiation at lower layers of the atmosphere, thus heating up these layers. Less of the heat radiation reaches the stratosphere, intensifying the cooling effect there.” This cooling takes place in the ozone layer and can contribute to larger ozone depletion.

    “However, the complicated details of the interactions between the ozone layer and climate change haven’t been completely understood yet and are the subject of current research projects,” states Rex.

  5. Steve says:

    New Mexico can be ruled out in joining the California carbon trading scheme now that a climate change denying governor was elected there in October.

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    “has a chance to hit US land?”


    If there is a major explosion with hot gases that shoots radioactivity several kilometers high, that would increase the chances for long range transport, since now the ground is farther away, and the particles that start settling out will stay in the air longer before encountering the ground. Additionally, winds are stronger away from ground, due to reduced friction and presence of the jet stream aloft. These stronger winds will transport radioactivity greater distances.

    Yesterday without the “pool aspect”.

    Radiation from Japan not likely to harm North America

  7. Prokaryotes says:

    EU to Apply Stress Tests on Its Nuclear Plants

    BRUSSELS — Shocked into action by Japan’s atomic crisis, European energy officials agreed Tuesday to apply stress tests on nuclear power plants and Germany moved to switch off seven aging reactors – one of them permanently.

    The European Union’s energy chief called for a reassessment of the 27-nation bloc’s energy policy, and questioned what role nuclear power should have in the future.

    “We have to ask ourselves: Can we in Europe, within time, secure our energy needs without nuclear power plants?” EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told German ARD television.

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    “After Chernobyl, all the force of the nuclear industry was directed to hide this event, for not creating damage to their reputation,” Andreyev, who was part of the Chernobyl emergency response effort, said of what he saw as a knee-jerk impulse within the industry to cover up problems.
    more by Andreyev – 1 hour ago – Los Angeles Times,0,2551162.story

  9. Prokaryotes says:

    Has the GOP Become a Threat to America?
    The current leadership of the GOP is the most dangerous threat to America in the history of this country.

  10. Solar Jim says:

    “Non-Nuclear Clean Energy” in your title is an oxymoron.

    Clean energy has no place for atomic fission. Unless, that is, you subscribe to the rhetoric of atomic corporate-fascists and their political stooges.

    You should leave off the adjective from now on. Furthermore, nuclear power is a euphemism for atomic fission. The sun releases nuclear power, and it is good.

  11. Prokaryotes says:

    Off Topic

    “Don’t work too hard, don’t stress,” doesn’t work as advice for good health and long life. Terman subjects who were the most involved and committed to their jobs did the best. Continually productive men and women lived much longer than their more laid-back comrades.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Mike #6, you old ‘alarmist’, you. I know, because I read ‘The Fundament’, that the ozone scam was invented by watermelons like you to frighten our children, undermine capitalism, introduce communism by surreptitious means and replace our Forefather’s Christian faith with Gaia worship. So I’m alert to your deceptions, thank Rupert! And thanks Prokaryotes #11, the article was quite mind-boggling. Fascism is arriving in the USA and not the ‘friendly fascism’ variant any more. Your loyal toadies in Austraya will not be far behind, particularly when Tony Abbott becomes PM, leading a ‘Crusade’ of Alzheimic geriatric Dunning Krugerites out for revenge against those who will be alive when they are dead. I always knew that the Right would meet the failure of its worldview with increased violence, intimidation and force, but the new wave Republicans are impressive specimens of viciousness and imbecility combined. Time for a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ over there, although, of course, they have been preparing for just such an eventuality for some time. It illustrates the true meaning of ‘The Road to Serfdom’, ie under capitalism, not socialism, as the deranged von Hayek asserted, with stark clarity.

  13. Michael T. says:

    Arctic Oscillation Index and U.S., Europe, and Japan Mean Temperature Change for Dec-Feb (Winter) and Jun-Aug (Summer) 1950-present:

    More of these interesting graphs are found on James Hansen and Makiko Sato’s website:

  14. Michael T. says:

    February Ranked 17th Warmest on Record

    March 15, 2011

    This year, the globe experienced the 17th warmest February since record keeping began in 1880, as the climate phenomenon La Niña continued to be a significant factor. Last month’s average Arctic sea ice extent tied with 2005 as the smallest extent for February in its 32-year period of record.

    State of the Climate Global report – February 2011

  15. Prokaryotes says:

    Michael, there are reports of freak weather before and after the earthquake.

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    Pepsi bottles: no more plastic
    Pepsi bottles introduced Tuesday are made from 100 percent plant material. Company plans to market test plant-based Pepsi bottles next year