Energy and Global Warming News for August 13th: 60% of species recovery plans identify global warming as extinction threat; Global CO2 emissions down in 2009; Scotland installing world’s largest tidal turbine
"Energy and Global Warming News for August 13th: 60% of species recovery plans identify global warming as extinction threat; Global CO2 emissions down in 2009; Scotland installing world’s largest tidal turbine"
A scientific review of federal endangered species recovery plans finds that scientists are increasingly identifying global warming as an extinction threat but government agencies have yet to respond with any national strategy. The lack of recovery plan guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has led to inconsistent efforts to save species that scientists say are most threatened by global warming.
The recently published study was co-authored by Dr. Tony Povilitis, president of Life Net Nature, and Kier¡n Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. It appeared in the peer-reviewed science journal Conservation Biology. The study examined all 1,209 federal endangered species recovery plans issued between 1975 and 2008 to determine how well they address the threat of climate change.
“Global warming is the greatest overarching threat to endangered species, but until very recently, it was rarely addressed in federal recovery plans,” Povilitis said. “Scientists are rapidly closing the gap, but are sorely lacking in guidance from the federal government.”
The study concludes that urgent action is needed before it’s too late for recovery efforts to be successful. “Levels of atmospheric heat-trapping gases must be reduced soon to avoid substantially higher risk of species extinction,” the authors wrote.
The review found that fewer than 5 percent of recovery plans written prior to 2005 mentioned global warming. Since then (from 2005 to 2008), the threat has been included in 60 percent of recovery plans.
Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2009 fell 1.3 percent to 31.3 billion tonnes in the first year-on-year decline in this decade, German renewable energy institute IWR said on Friday.
The Muenster-based institute, which advises German ministries, cited the global economic crisis and rising investments in renewable energies for the fall in emissions.
Global investment in renewable installations for power, heat and fuels last year rose to 125 billion euros ($161 billion) from 120 billion in 2008, IWR said.
But IWR director Norbert Allnoch said given the force of the crisis, the reductions in CO2 output could have been greater, had stronger output in Asian and Middle Eastern countries not overcompensated the savings obtained from declines in Europe, Russia, Japan and the U.S.
“The energy-induced CO2 output in China in 2009 due to its economic growth has grown to a level now that is as high as that of the U.S. and Russia combined,” he said.
China in 2009 was in top position with 7.43 billion tonnes after 6.81 billion in 2008, followed by the U.S. with 5.95 billion (6.37 billion 2008). Russia was in third position, just before India, and followed by Japan.
Atlantis Resources Corporation has unveiled the most powerful and largest tidal turbine ever built, at Invergordon in Scotland. Dubbed AK1000, the new turbine will be installed at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland, later this summer.
AK1000 is able to generate 1MW electricity, being enough to power more then 1000 homes. It also has a cutting edge technology from suppliers across the globe, weighs 130 tons (stands at a height of 22.5 meters) and is equipped with an 18-meter in diameter rotor.
According to company officials, the giant turbine will have zero impact on the surrounding environment due to a low rotation speed whilst in operation (six to eight revolutions per minute).
With great fanfare, an Arizona-based energy company signed a preliminary agreement with China last fall to build the world’s largest solar-power plant in the Mongolian desert.
The deal was hailed as the first major example of the United States and China cooperating on a big-ticket energy project, and the largest foray by a U.S. company into Asia’s fast-growing alternative- energy market. The agreement became a centerpiece achievement of President Obama’s visit to China last November.
Nearly a year later, the deal has not been completed and there is growing skepticism as to whether it will happen.
Chinese competitors in the solar business have complained openly about the U.S. company, First Solar, getting such a lucrative contract. A planned June 1 date to break ground has been missed. Government officials from the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, where the plant would be built, say they plan to open the project to competitive bidding.
Our cities play a vital role in the quest to achieve global ecological sustainability. They are the largest contributors to greenhouse gases and climate change. However, if we can achieve sustainable construction and use of urban infrastructure, our cities could become a critical leverage point in global efforts to drastically reduce emissions and avoid the social and economic costs associated with climate change, as well as enhance energy security and resilience in the face of high fossil energy prices.
The world’s urban centers already account for close to 80 percent of CO2 emissions. In the next three decades, the global population will continue to grow and become ever more urban. Booz & Company analysis conducted for this report shows that under business-as-usual (BAU) assumptions, $350 trillion will be spent on urban infrastructure and usage during this period. This huge expenditure either can cause the ecological impact of our cities to become even more pronounced or can be a tremendous opportunity to reduce that impact.
The BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico awakened many Americans to the dangers of our addiction to oil. Most Americans want to find cleaner and safer ways to power their cars and heat their homes. The good news is that a shift to more fuel-efficient cars and trucks can create new jobs, improve the environment and boost our economy at the same time.
The move to cleaner cars provides an opportunity for new manufacturing jobs and product lines in Iowa, as automakers develop more efficient technologies and better pollution controls. Part of the federal economic stimulus package is spurring rapid growth of the electric vehicle industry.
On July 26, EnVision Motor Company announced its plan to produce electric vehicles at a new assembly plant in Webster City. The EnVision model will use foreign-produced car bodies and American-made electrical parts. The new Webster City plant is expected to employ 300 people.
Iowa’s pool of highly skilled workers should be building our cleaner cars and components. These good manufacturing jobs are the “green jobs” for our future.
Norwegian company EnSol AS in collaboration with researchers at the University of Leicester are working to develop a new type of solar cell material that can be coated as a thin film onto window glass, so that windows in buildings can generate electricity on a large scale.
“The material has been designed by EnSol AS and is based on nano-particles that can be synthesised in Leicester. The work is important since the solar cells are based on a new operating principle. Obviously some light has to be absorbed in order to generate power but the windows would just have a slight tinting.” said Prof Binns, of Leicester University.
Unlike other conventional devices, the new thin film could become cheaper due to its property of being able to be coated onto large areas. According to the company, it can also be used on the roofs of vehicles to charge batteries. Researchers claim the new transparent solar cell technology could be available within five years.
The basic cell concept has been demonstrated, and it will be the objective of this research and development project to systematically refine this PV cell technology to achieve a cell efficiency of 20% or greater,” said a spokesperson for EnSol AS.
Among the islands in the Eastern Caribbean, St. Lucia’s economy is performing comparatively well. The island, which is less than half the size of Los Angeles proper and is home to about 170,000, is diversifying its agricultural sector, has decent infrastructure, and has attracted investment in its manufacturing and banking sectors.
Now this tiny nation northwest of Barbados is making a move on the renewable energy front. St. Lucia’s government has signed an agreement with US-based Qualibou Energy for the development of a geothermal plant. If all goes as planned, the plant will generate 12 megawatts of electricity by 2012, and another 108 MW of capacity will be in operation by 2015.
Delving into the gritty details of how offshore drilling is regulated, a National Academy of Engineering inquiry into the Deepwater Horizon well blowout found a big hole in oversight during a hearing on Thursday.
In its first public hearing on the disaster, the 15-member panel took testimony from three officials of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the agency formed within the Interior Department after the BP accident to replace the much-criticized Minerals Management Service. Committee members were asking about the divided responsibility for regulation, with certification of the rig carried out by the American Bureau of Shipping, an industry group.
Well, not quite, said David Dykes, the chief of the office of safety management for the agency’s Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf office. He told the committee that the accident had revealed a “misunderstanding” about just what the Bureau of Shipping was inspecting.