Energy and global warming news for January 18, 2011: How to move to 100% renewables by 2030; Shell CEO advocates for climate change action; Energy key to U.S.-China cooperation

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"Energy and global warming news for January 18, 2011: How to move to 100% renewables by 2030; Shell CEO advocates for climate change action; Energy key to U.S.-China cooperation"

How to Move to 100 percent Renewables by 2030

What would it take to switch the country’s [world’s] entire energy infrastructure to renewables like wind and solar by 2030?

According to National Geographic, about 4 million massive wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants and a four-fold increase in production of a rare earth metal that is a major component of key renewable energy technologies.

The magazine outlined the findings of new research on the question of transitioning to an all-renewable energy economy by 2030 as part of its energy policy series.

Mark Delucchi and Mark Jacobson, professors at the University of California-Davis and Stanford University, have developed a roadmap of sorts for moving away from coal and oil.

The roadmap is largely theoretical; lawmakers are struggling to pass legislation that would require 20 percent of the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources, and efforts to pass a broad climate bill have collapsed. But the team’s research has provided one of the first pictures of exactly what it might take to rely fully on renewable energy. Despite the hurdles, they say it’s possible. “Technically you can do it. It really depends on will power,” Jacobson told National Geographic.

Shell Chief Executive Says ‘Clock is Ticking to Mitigate Climate Change

Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s chief said the implementation of climate change agreements made at Cancun last month “won’t happen overnight”, and policymakers must take action now “because the clock is ticking.”

“In the short term, we should focus on areas where we can get the cheapest and quickest carbon dioxide reductions,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said at a renewable energy conference in Abu Dhabi today. “It will take a while for international standards to be implemented, but we are of the opinion that we have to move now.”

Voser offered four ways for policymakers to begin reducing CO2 emissions: energy efficiency, increased use of natural gas, carbon capture and storage projects, and biofuels.

Energy efficiency, such as fuel-efficient vehicles and insulation of buildings, will need government mandates and regulation, he said.

Increased use of natural gas, which would cut emissions by 60-70 percent if it was used in place of coal, will also require government policy to support the switch in fuel type. China has already pledged to obtain 8 percent of its energy consumption from gas by 2020, compared with 4 percent now, he said.

Energy Could Be a Key Area of Cooperation for the U.S. and China

Going into the U.N. global-warming summit in Cancºn last month, U.S. negotiators had one big reason to be worried: China. At the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, an obstinate Beijing repeatedly blocked progress on an agreement, with Chinese negotiators even snubbing President Barack Obama when he arrived for last-minute talks. China signed onto the limited agreement Copenhagen did produce only reluctantly, and during much of 2010 seemed to back away from any climate commitments “” although U.S. failure to pass climate legislation during the same period didn’t help. When they arrived in Cancºn, American diplomats were worried that they would face a Chinese wall again “” and this time they said they were all but willing to abandon the U.N. climate process if Beijing didn’t play ball.

Maybe it was the sunny clime, but Chinese negotiators went to Mexico ready to compromise. The result was the Cancºn Agreements “” not a legal treaty, but a diplomatic pact that for the first time committed both developed and developing nations (including China) to act on greenhouse-gas emissions. That agreement bolstered the faltering international climate process, but it also provided hope that the U.S. and China “” increasingly at odds over the global economy and geopolitics “” might be able to come together on climate and energy. “Our cooperation at the U.N. climate conference in Mexico was critical to the conclusion of the Cancºn Agreements,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a speech on Jan. 14. “Now we must build on that progress by implementing the agreements on transparency, funding and clean-energy technology.”


This week, there will be a splendid opportunity to do just that, when Chinese President Hu Jintao makes a state visit to Washington to meet with President Obama. Though the agenda will be packed with knotty global issues “” trade and currency policy, North Korea and human rights “” climate and energy will be a focus of the meetings as well, and could provide a welcome area of accord and agreement. If so, the benefits will flow well beyond merely China and the U.S. “This is not just a matter of the two countries,” says Zou Ji, China country program director for the World Resources Institute. “It’s a matter for the entire world.”

GE to Announce Chinese Projects Yielding $2.1 Billion in Sales

General Electric Co. plans to announce Chinese rail, aviation and energy projects yielding at least $2.1 billion in sales during President Hu Jintao’s visit to the U.S. this week.

The joint ventures and orders include high-speed rail, locomotives, power turbines, clean coal technology and avionics. They may support about 5,000 jobs including from U.S. suppliers, the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company said.
GE’s China sales are rising at about 20 percent annually and should grow in the “high double-digits” in 2011 as the company builds partnerships and seeks orders, Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said last month. The company got about $33 billion of its $157 billion in 2009 revenue from emerging markets, with more than $5.3 billion in China.

Immelt, who has said GE intends to be one of the top five U.S. exporters “at all times,” will attend a meeting with Hu, President Barack Obama and U.S. and Chinese executives during Hu’s state visit. Some of the projects were disclosed when Immelt traveled to Beijing in November.

GE’s rail division, based in Erie, Pennsylvania, will sign letters of intent tomorrow for ventures that may bring in $1.4 billion and add or preserve 2,000 U.S. jobs, including an order for 500 exported locomotive kits and related services valued at $350 million, GE Transportation CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said in an interview.

Solar-Powered Marines See Gains In Afghanistan

U.S. Marines may be on the verge of turning a long-time enemy into an ally. In this case, that enemy is the desert sun. Thanks to flexible solar panels, the sun can help run military equipment “” and it may even cut down on casualties.

By using solar power and placing an emphasis on energy conservation, Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment say they cut diesel consumption in their generators from 20 gallons a day to 2.5 gallons a day, according to a Marine report.

The regiment tested the equipment in Afghanistan at the end of last year, in what may be the first large-scale military test of solar power there.

8 firms vie to put wind turbines off Md. coast

Eight companies, including one with Maryland ties, have indicated their interest in developing wind energy projects off the state’s coast, federal officials disclosed Friday.

State and industry officials hailed what they called a “robust” response to the federal government’s call for developers to indicate whether they want to try generating electricity from wind turbines placed in the Atlantic 12 miles or more from Ocean City.

Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement had invited potential wind developers in November to express their interest in leasing sites in a 207 nautical-square-mile area off the state’s 31-mile coastline. The deadline for responding was Monday.

The federal process has confirmed that there is robust, competitive private sector interest in developing Maryland’s outstanding offshore wind resources,” Maryland Energy Director Malcolm D. Woolf said in a statement. “We are confident that the competitive leasing process will result in one or more Maryland offshore wind farms, which will create thousands of jobs and generate much-needed clean electricity for our region.

A green loss here is a win for China

The total eclipse of 800 Massachusetts jobs by Evergreen Solar, as the firm shifts those jobs to China despite $58 million in state aid, shows just how fast the so-called green jobs manufacturing revolution is dimming. It belies any feel-good rhetoric such as President Obama’s assertion, “I don’t want solar panels and wind turbines built in Asia or Europe. I want them made right here in the US of A.” It should spur Governor Patrick and other governors to huddle with Obama on the viability of state funds for individual firms without a true national strategy on clean energy.

Even if well spent, state aid and current federal tax incentives for solar manufacturing are dwarfed by manufacturing subsidies and cheap labor abroad. American investment in clean energy in 2009 was only about half that of China, according to a Pew report. The United States only ranks 11th among the G-20 nations in clean energy investment as a percentage of gross domestic product. Spain leads the way on that score, followed by the United Kingdom, China, and Brazil.

Evergreen’s announcement this week that it will close its Devens plant came a day after Massachusetts Senator John Kerry lamented how China leapfrogged us to be the world’s largest solar manufacturer. “We invented the technology but China is reaping the rewards,” he said in a speech. Energy analyst Sam Dubinsky says that Evergreen’s struggles signal a “shake-out year for the industry, favoring low-cost producers in China.”

In a telephone interview, analyst Christine Hersey of Wedbush Securities said that while Evergreen may have had unique, self-inflicted problems, the job cuts represent a universal dilemma. Any solutions must go far beyond protectionist tinkering, such as the federal “Buy American” provision enacted last week for military solar panel procurement, effectively banning Chinese-made panels. The measure’s sponsor, Representative Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat, said, “This is a common-sense approach to ensuring that American manufacturing jobs are supported.”

Panel blames industry and government for BP oil spill

The presidential commission examining the causes of the BP oil spill Wednesday laid blame for the disaster on corporate mismanagement, inadequate government regulation and ultimately a lack of political will to ensure proper oversight of the oil industry as it pushed drilling rigs into ever deeper waters.

Releasing a key chapter of its final report on the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the commission recounted what is by now the well-known string of missteps that led to one of the world’s largest offshore oil spills.

But it went on to issue a broader indictment, calling for both the industry and the government to reform their practices or risk a repeat of the BP disaster, which killed 11 men and tainted the gulf with 205 million gallons of crude.

“The blowout was not the product of a series of aberrational decisions made by rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again,” the chapter said. “Rather, the root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur.”

The commission, established in May by President Obama to examine the causes of the blowout and make recommendations to prevent future spills, will issue its full report next week.

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47 Responses to Energy and global warming news for January 18, 2011: How to move to 100% renewables by 2030; Shell CEO advocates for climate change action; Energy key to U.S.-China cooperation

  1. fj3 says:

    @nefclimate Four degrees and beyond: climate change and irrational minds http://bit.ly/fJOApm

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    Sudden oak death now threatens more of Britain’s trees

    After destroying millions of oaks in California, the infection spread to Britain – then suddenly jumped species

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/16/sudden-oak-death-forests-tree-species

  3. Anderlan says:

    Is there a URL for the solar marines excerpt?

    [JR: My apologies. Now fixed. Thanks for pointing this out.]

  4. Griggsford says:

    I read the link to the Bloomberg article about the Shell Oil VP.

    What a dumbass: advocating natural gas. Has he not seen the movie “Gasland”? Let HIS water at HIS home be poisoned by all those chemicals. Dumbfuck. And biofuels (which of course, means, biofuels from WASTE cellulosic and grease, and NEVER ethanol from virgin corn) will always be a trivial market.

    The ONLY solution is wind, solar, and geothermal, while making use of pre-existing hydroelectric and while continuing research into making hydrogen.

  5. Robert says:

    Interesting article in the LA TIMES about managed coastal retreat:

    http://latimes.com/news/local/la-me-surfers-point-20110116,0,85102.story

  6. fj3 says:

    re: How to Move to 100 percent Renewables by 2030; “The roadmap is largely theoretical”

    Is probably a wrong choice of words?

    Perhaps more accurately: “Requires dramatic mobilization the way the United States mobilized for World War II after Pearl Harbor.”

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    Since they’re running out of oil anyway, Shell wants to segue into the natural gas business. This won’t cause a 60-70% emissions reduction; more like 50%, and that doesn’t count population growth and increased demand.

    Don’t trust any oil company. Even if the CEO got religion, he answers to wealthy stockholders, who need to pay for the help at their place in the Hamptons and want a private jet upgrade.

  8. dp says:

    what an incredible goof up by the hill.

    from the article:

    Delucchi and Jacobson estimate that … the world would need nearly 4 million wind turbines … the world would need 90,000 large-scale solar plants … [and] one rooftop PV system for every four people on the planet.

    from the idiot blog:

    What would it take to switch the country’s entire energy infrastructure to renewables like wind and solar by 2030?

    According to National Geographic, about 4 million massive wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants and a four-fold increase in production of a rare earth metal that is a major component of key renewable energy technologies.

    dimwits.

  9. paulm says:

    200yr event….

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/01/19/3115999.htm
    Many of Kerang’s 3,800 residents are fleeing across the border into New South Wales after one of the levees protecting the town sprung a leak.

    Walls of water kilometres wide are flowing across the north and west of Victoria in the wake of record rainfall last week.

    Authorities say Kerang’s levees are being severely tested because the water in the Loddon River has risen higher than the level the system was designed to cope with.

  10. paulm says:

    Auz in the grip of climate chaos….

    Storms cause more chaos for Queensland
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/01/18/3115793.htm

    Severe thunderstorms have caused more damage for residents trying to rebuild after major flooding in south-east Queensland.

    A line of storms from the south-west brought down powerlines, damaged roofs and sent trees crashing into homes and cars from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast.

    The cells generated wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres an hour near Ipswich and there was small sized hail in the Lockyer Valley and on Brisbane’s northside.

  11. paulm says:

    rain and hail pelting Maadi, Egypt, where it hasn’t rained since October 2009.
    http://cnn.com/video/?/video/ireports/2011/01/18/irpt.egypt.hail.rain.ireport

  12. fj3 says:

    Great talk by Enrique Penalosa.

    Politics,Power,Cities” by @EnriquePenalosa at London School of Economics here http://ow.ly/3G2yI

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    Va. Lawmakers Vow to Thwart Cuccinelli

    A University of Virginia researcher has gained two defenders in the Richmond state house.

    Dr. Michael Mann, a former professor at the UVA who studied climate change, is being investigated by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The prosecutor’s office suspects Mann of knowingly using “manipulated or deceitful data” in order to win public funding for his research projects.

    State Sens. Chap Petereson of Fairfax County and Donald McEachin of Henrico are pushing forward legislation to limit the powers of the attorney general and curb his investigation.

    Mann’s research on climate change has been the subject of much scrutiny over the years. In 2001, one of his reports was presented before the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicating a sharp spike in the Earth’s temperature in the latter half of the 20th century. The presentation drew some skepticism, but a 2006 investigation by the National Research Council found Mann’s research methods to be sound.

    Cuccinelli’s investigation into Mann’s work began in the spring of 2010. At the time, the attorney general was quoted in the Washington Post saying, “That subpoena is directed at the expenditure of dollars. Whether he does a good job, bad job or I don’t like the outcome – and I think everybody already knows his position on some of this is one that I question. But that is not what that’s about.”

    Cuccinelli has demanded copies of correspondence the climatologist sent while working at UVA. Mann has called the investigation a “witch hunt.” http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local-beat/DCVa-Lawmakers-Vow-to-Thwart-Cuccinelli-114153359.html

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    Florida must act on climate change

    As economists, we are deeply aware of the role that climate change will have on the economic development in Florida’s future. And although Congress failed to pass climate legislation last year, the climate issue is not going away.

    We recently evaluated the potential impact on Florida of draft legislation (specifically, the American Power Act) intended to curtail emissions of the pollutants that cause climate change. Our analysis concludes that such legislation would have negligible short-term impact on Florida’s economy and would place Florida — and the rest of the nation — on the long-term path toward energy independence and sustainable economic prosperity.

    Florida is especially vulnerable to climate change because of its 1,200 miles of coastline, 4,500 square miles of estuaries and bays, its relatively low elevation and its densely populated coastal communities. The tourism industry, moreover, is an important pillar of the state’s economy and is itself highly dependent on Florida’s coastal and marine ecosystems.

    While there have not been many studies on the potential economic effects in Florida of inaction on climate change, and more work needs to be done in this area, one recent study by Tufts University provides a sobering assessment of the potential economic costs to Florida from failing to act on climate change risks. These include an average loss of $27 billion per year to Florida’s economy, nearly 300,000 jobs lost as early as 2025, and annual economic losses to Florida projected to grow to $93 billion and 700,000 jobs by 2050.

    Reasonable estimates suggest the typical Florida household would pay on average an additional $19 per year from 2011 to 2030. (Importantly, that figure that assumes that energy costs wouldn’t increase from inaction on climate, even though climate-related impacts on power systems from more severe storms and heat stresses on transmission and water systems could be significant.)

    It’s worth noting that the market-based approach taken in the American Power Act was originally championed by the first President George Bush to address acid rain — and has proved highly successful in doing so. Such an approach achieves the necessary pollution reductions while maximizing flexibility to business but minimizing costs and bureaucracy. http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/florida-must-act-on-climate-change/1146120

  15. Prokaryotes says:

    Top 10 Climate Change Apps
    Climate Science? There’s an App For That

    Whether you’re interested in keeping tabs on Arctic sea ice, finding a renewable fuel source close to your home, or monitoring corporations’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, there’s an app for that. We’ve scoured the Web and found ten applications for the iPhone and iPad that can help satisfy your climate science, and other atmospheric science-related, cravings. In a follow up piece we’ll also discuss apps for the expanding Android market. http://www.greenchipstocks.com/articles/top-10-climate-change-apps/1222

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    Extreme weather and climate change: How long must we sing this song?

    Extreme weather events will be more frequent in a warming world.

    Anyone reading the news about recent extreme weather events may understandably be confused by the varied statements regarding the attribution of these events to climate change. This debate seems to intensify each year but there is a danger that it is simply going round in circles — pondering the same short-term questions at each occurrence without paying attention to the ultimate warning signs.

    Australia’s floods in particular have inspired a range of media coverage including claims about the link between La Niña and climate change. La Niña is the name given to the extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. In Australia (particularly eastern Australia), La Niña events are associated with wetter conditions. And scientists have attributed the Queensland floods to this year’s La Niña, which is the strongest such episode since 1974.

    What we’re not certain about yet is the strength of any link between the intensity of La Niña events and climate change. Similarly, direct links between individual extreme weather events have yet to be found. But this doesn’t mean we should wait around to make decisions on climate action until we can identify and fully characterise such links. Direct cause and effect will remain hard to establish in any one case, but the overall pattern of extreme weather events we’re witnessing year after year is completely consistent with the widely accepted predictions of climate change impacts. If we wait for more proof of the link with climate change, it won’t be long before we are past the point of no return – if in fact we have not passed it already. It’s best to assume that, since climate change is with us here and now, the impacts will only get more severe, more costly and more damaging to society. And it makes sense to act in ways which have a chance of reducing the frequency of such catastrophic events, even if we don’t know for sure. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/climate/extreme-weather-and-climate-change-how-long-m/blog/32361

  17. Prokaryotes says:

    ‘Green’ Asphalt to Delay Global Climate Change

    PHOENIX, Jan. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Emerald Cities™ USA Ltd. (div. of Emerald Cities™ International Ltd.) has just resurfaced the world’s first solar reflective “Green” asphalt parking lot to demonstrate the importance of “Cool Pavement” addressing Urban Heat Island in the cities (see photos at http://www.emeraldcoolpavements.com/pressrelease/Installation.pdf). This 24,000 sq.ft. parking lot was donated to Mayor Gordon’s Phoenix Recovery Zone at the Duffy Charter School where asphalt temperatures soared to 200 degrees (F) last summer in Arizona. The importance of “Cool Pavement” in a school setting cannot be overstated. Heat radiated from asphalt remains between 1-4 feet and is a “danger zone” where children play during recess because of the risk of heat stroke. This is an Emerald Cities “Cool Schools” project.

    “Zero Carbon” Asphalt

    Black asphalt covers 60% of city surfaces as a silent contributor to heat, smog and C02 from parking lots, airports, amusement parks, shopping malls and roadways. Green building can never be “zero carbon” until the asphalt portion of the project is addressed. EC “Cool Pavement” reduces surface heat by 30-50 degrees (F) on summer days, reducing smog and C02. It is a nano-engineered ultra high performance thin concrete proven roadworthy at 1/6″ thickness. It is 4300+ psi, 100+ skid resistant, impervious to UV, non-delaminating, comes in beautiful colors, extends the service life of existing asphalt, and is easy to apply with no milling required.

    “Green Filling Stations”

    Emerald Cities™ International Ltd. seeks JV partners in global regions to establish inventory warehousing to serve as “hubs” for further distribution to EC “Green Filling Stations”. The first “Green Filling Station” prototype has been opened in Scottsdale, Arizona. These “Franchises” are available at $100K and include a showroom, equipment and supplies for a drive-in dispensing port where contractors can fill-up and pick up fresh materials daily for projects.

    100 Cities by 2012

    Solar reflective color now plays a significant role in protecting the environment. According to Steven Chu (Obama’s Secretary of Energy), “Changing surface colors in 100 of the world’s largest cities could save as much as 44 billion tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to the rise in global carbon emissions anticipated by 2020.” With 2010 now the hottest year on record, NASA predicts a 2- 6 degree rise in the next few years will result in altered rainfall, storms, coastal floods, melting glaciers, and droughts contributing to the increase in infectious diseases. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/green-asphalt-to-delay-global-climate-change-114020114.html

  18. On how to get to 100% renewable energy supply (not only electricity) worldwide, WWF and Ecofys will release a report on 3 February: http://bit.ly/WWFTER. To manage expectations: that’s about 2050.

  19. Prokaryotes says:

    Water crisis in Andes is challenge for U.S. security establishment, Peru

    The Medill School of Journalism graduate student team yesterday released its latest story in its series on the national security implications of climate change. Heather Somerville of Medill National Security Reporting Project reports from the Andes in Peru, where mountain glaciers are rapidly melting. Facing a dramatic shortage in the country’s water supply, Peru has turned to Washington for help.

    Meanwhile, U.S. officials worry Peru could quickly become a case study in how climate change could destabilize a strategically important region, and emerge as a national security threat to Americans thousands of miles away.

    Among the story’s findings:

    • Entire glaciers are expected to disappear in 10 years, quicker than many scientists predicted.
    • Glacier melt in Peru has already caused water shortages, leading to conflict, displacing communities and threatening agriculture.
    • The U.S. is unprepared to address climate change in South America within five years – the window of opportunity Peru has before glacier melt becomes a security crisis.
    • Peru’s water crisis will test how the U.S. will deal with climate change using diplomacy and foreign aid in allied nations. http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-crisis-andes-peru.html

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    US-China: Global Warming Work Ahead on Heels of Presidential Summit

    Chinese President Hu Jintao is in D.C. for a State Dinner with President Obama and for a series of meetings over the next three days. They have a lot on their plate (both literally and figuratively), so climate change won’t be the only thing that they discuss. But you can sure bet that it will come up. There are also many parallel energy/climate events occurring in DC while he is here. Significant progress was made in Cancun on key issues that both countries outlined as critical components of their vision of success for that meeting. The meetings between the two countries over the next three days are an important opportunity to continue to detail five key components of the international response to global warming. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jschmidt/us-china_global_warming_work_a.html

  21. Anne van der Bom says:

    Joe,

    There is an error your article. The 4 million wind turbines/90,000 solar farms figure is for the whole world, not the the US.

    [JR: Yes, looks like “The Hill” got this wrong.]

  22. Prokaryotes says:

    Monks’ Diaries Offer Clues About Climate Change
    …researchers analyzed harvest records and weather station archives from the 17th through 19th centuries.

    “The climate models seem to be working quite well for the past, so we should expect that — at least when it comes to temperature — they will do well for the future,” Hegerl said. http://www.ecoworld.com/global-warming/monks-diaries-offer-clues-about-climate-change.html

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    GE won’t wait for Congress

    The US is considered unlikely to contemplate any serious climate change policy for at least a couple of years, courtesy of the Republican-dominated Congress and the refusal by virtually all of its newly elected members to accept that increased emissions might be having an impact on the earth’s temperature.

    Despite this, most major US companies are still betting on a major shift towards low-carbon energy sources, energy efficient technologies such as smart grids and smart meters, and electric vehicles.

    We saw this with the purchases reported earlier this week by Duke Energy of its rival Progress Energy, DuPont of a Danish company called Danisco, and we might have also thrown in GE’s purchase of power conversion technology group Lineage Power for $US520 million – an investment that will enable it to boost investments into cleantech-related technologies such as batteries, cooling, datacentres, and electric vehicles. Last week GE also bought UK smart metering firm Remote Energy Monitoring. The question is not so much if there is a transition to low-carbon technologies, but how quickly it will occur.

    Jim Suciu, the president of sales for GE Energy, a $US40 billion a year business, says there is a strong chance that Congress will pass an energy bill this year that will aim for improved efficiency and tighter standards, and might even give companies the opportunity to produce credits if they shut down old, heavy-emitting installations and replace them with cleaner power stations. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/CLIMATE-SPECTATOR-Ahead-of-the-low-carbon-curve-pd20110119-D8SVX?OpenDocument&src=rot

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    Population Growth, Climate Change Degrade African Soil, Threaten Millions With Starvation: Worldwatch

    Can We Produce Enough Food Without Destroying Biodiversity?

    Nearly half a century after the Green Revolution, a major share of the human family is still chronically hungry. In addition, much of that revolution’s gains have been achieved through highly intensive agriculture that depends heavily on fossil fuels for inputs and energy–and the question of whether the world’s croplands can yield more food is being trumped by the question of whether they can do so without compromise to the soils, fresh water, and crop diversity the world depends on. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/01/population-growth-degrade-african-soil-threatens-starvation.php

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    Proposed climate change Bill

    Madam, – Frank McDonald’s analysis of the proposed climate change legislation in Ireland makes for depressing reading (Opinion, January 17th). The legislative proposal is itself of limited ambition, with huge concessions already having been made to placate the various lobby groups, but it seems the usual suspects are crying bloody murder (and wolf) in attempt to strip the Bill of any meaning.

    As a former Ibec press officer, it never ceases to amaze me how the Irish media gleefully regurgitates Ibec’s evidence-less arguments that are offered up every time a Government tries to introduce progressive legislation with which Ibec does not agree. Ibec (and its subsidiary trade organisations) is at it again, claiming that the proposed climate legislation will cost jobs, without providing any evidence to back this up as usual. The truth is the opposite: this legislation should spur innovation and create jobs in the growing global green economy.

    Ireland is well positioned to gain from this global shift but not if the disingenuous spin of Ibec and the IFA wins out and holds our country back. – Yours, etc,

    RICHARD MORE O’FERRALL,

    Rue des Boers,

    Brussels, Belgium. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2011/0118/1224287759507.html

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Report: Issa ‘passionate’ about climate probe

    The New Yorker magazine’s big new profile of Issa published Monday includes this tidbit:

    “Issa seems unconvinced about the science behind climate change, and the investigation that he seemed most passionate about when we spoke involved U.S. government funding for the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. This is the organization behind the so-called Climategate controversy, in which a batch of e-mails were published, showing, Issa claimed, that there had been fraud involving ‘the base numbers’ underlying our understanding of climate change.”

    But Issa, speaking to The Hill and other outlets in mid-November, had downplayed the prospect of a probe without quite ruling it out, telling reporters, “I will have limited resources and limited time.” http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/138249-report-issa-passionate-about-climate-probe

    Indeed, the human race have a short time left to react. So, no time to fuck around.

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    Erratic weather patterns traced to climate change – weather bureau

    DAGUPAN CITY, Jan. 18 (PIA) – The flooding in some parts of the country particularly in the eastern sections of the Bicol area as well as in Visayas and Mindanao is the effect of changing weather patterns brought about by climate change, a weather forecaster based in this city said.

    “Iba na talaga ang panahon ngayon,” said Gregorio de Vera, chief meteorological officer at the Dagupan station of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, during the Pantongtongan Tayo radio program of the Philippine Information Agency Tuesday when asked if heavy rains during this time of the year are normal.

    He explained that the tailend of the cold front, a weather disturbance, is bringing huge downpour in the eastern corridor resulting in floods in the Bicol area, Samar, and eastern Mindanao.

    North Luzon is spared of the effect of the cold front because of the northeast monsoon (hanging amihan). Only light rainshowers are noted in the area, which however is experiencing cold weather. The coldest recorded by the Dagupan station was at 18.5 degrees Celsius last January 4, De Vera said. Baguio City recorded the coldest today at 9.8 degrees Celsius.

    Meanwhile, Hilario Esperanza, engineer, of the Agno Flood Forecasting and Warning System, said new rainfall and water level gauging stations have been installed in various sections of the Agno river and its tributaries. The project was funded by a grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

    “We hope na mas mabilis ang processing ngayon ng mga data at mas effective and forecasting and warning system natin.”

    Security measures have been adopted by PAGASA and the Pangasinan police to deter vandalism or theft at the gauging stations, he said.

    It was discovered in December last year that four stations had missing grounding rod and cable. The missing parts apparently landed at junk shops. “Maliit nga yong halaga pero malaki ang impact non pag napabayaan,” he noted, adding that the equipment were immediately replaced. (PIA Pangasinan) http://pia.gov.ph/?m=1&t=1&id=11932

  28. Leif says:

    “4 million wind turbines/90,000 solar farm…” And PEOPLE got to build them! Looks do-able to me considering all the unemployed out there.

    And guess what Rich People, in 50 years we have a world of renewable energy. Doing it your way is a whole different outcome. Invest vigorously or be vilified…

    The Awakening Economy takes flight…

  29. fj3 says:

    In the future net-zero cities may assemble themselves.

    @physorg_com Nanoscale rope & materials assemble themselves http://bit.ly/hDHJQD Futuristic self-building super strong infrastructures

  30. Prokaryotes says:

    Report Calls for Temporary Ban on UK Shale Gas Development
    Energy Intelligence (subscription) – ‎5 minutes ago‎ http://www.energyintel.com/DocumentDetail.asp?Try=Yes&document_id=702904&publication_id=31

  31. Prokaryotes says:

    EPA, Calif. Defend Waiver for State’s Tailpipe Standards

    Though the Obama administration has moved ahead with nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks, the legal fight over California’s authority to set still-tougher standards has continued in court.

    Arguing today before a panel of federal judges, attorneys for California and the U.S. Department of Justice said U.S. EPA made no mistake when it gave California permission to issue its own tailpipe standards for new automobiles. They urged the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reject a challenge from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups, which claim that the Clean Air Act does not allow California to tackle the issue of climate change on its own. http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/01/18/18greenwire-epa-calif-defend-waiver-for-states-tailpipe-st-36026.html

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    University of Calgary plans carbon capture research centre

    CALGARY — Making sure CO2 injected deep underground stays there will be one of the main aims of a University of Calgary research facility slated for a donated patch of land just southwest of the city.

    The university is eyeing a parcel outside Priddis, Alta., about 40 kilometres southwest of Calgary, for the home of what geophysics professor Don Lawton says would be the country’s first facility dedicated to carbon capture and storage (CCS) monitoring and training.

    “There are some other projects that are similar, but this is quite unique in its goals,” said Lawton, who specializes in the geological storage of CO2 and will be heading up the facility.

    The Alberta government has pledged $2 billion towards four commercial-scale CCS projects scheduled to start trapping industrial greenhouse gases by 2015. http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/University+Calgary+plans+carbon+capture+research+centre/4121921/story.html

  33. David B. Benson says:

    I have serious doubts that a 100% renewables electric grid is the least expen$ive solution. Despite the problems with nuclear fission, it is likely that most of the coal burners will neeed to be replaced with nuclear power plants (NPPs). Estimates costs are

    onshore wind: 61 mills/kWh + cost of backup
    offshore wind: twice that?
    NPPs: 65–95 mills/kWh
    solar PV: 75 mills/kWh
    solar thermal: 125 mills/kWh

    Only a few regions have hydro capable of backing up significant portions of wind; otherwise coal or gas thermal is used. For a zero fossil carbon scenario, relatively little wind appears possible [I would be quite happy to be shown wrong.]

    Since minimum night load is ~80% of maximum afternoon load, I suggest building about 80% NPPs and 20% solar (although I don’t know how to adequately store enough energy to get through cloudy days).

    Poor Man’s Guide to Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) for Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs)
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/12/24/open-thread-8/#comment-110827

    NREL’s “Simple Levelized Cost of Energy Calculator”,
    http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html

  34. Prokaryotes says:

    David B. Benson said “… although I don’t know how to adequately store enough energy to get through cloudy days”

    1 example for load balancing, via EU/Africa grid http://www.desertec.org/

  35. Michael T. says:

    Learning about future climate from Earth’s deep past
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeOmFqpGm9w

    The magnitude of climate change during Earth’s deep past suggests that future temperatures may eventually rise far more than projected if society continues its pace of emitting greenhouse gases. NCAR scientist Jeffrey Kiehl says that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere may reach levels that last existed about 30 million to 100 million years ago, when global temperatures averaged about 29 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels.

  36. David B. Benson says:

    Prokaryotes @38 — If there is a haboob then no solar generation in the Sahara, although clouds are rather rare there.

    The current method to backup wind power in Germany is to use thermal with 4–7 hour start up times; coal burners. No certainly both wind and solar can be backed up that way. The goal is to use no fossil carbon whatsoever; I don’t see a cost effective way to do that at large scale.

  37. Prokaryotes says:

    Plus you have the “Liquid salt” energy storage mechanism, to handle the baseload. Actually Germany could use more renewables, if they would shut down some of their old nuclear plants.

    European Dream of Desert Energy Takes Shape
    Heat derived through solar thermal energy can be stored for up to 24 hours with little loss, using a medium such as hot liquid salt. This energy can then be released during the night or when the skies are overcast. This is why a solar thermal power plant, like a nuclear power plant, can cover the so-called baseload (the minimum amount of power that needs to be produced to meet consumers’ expected demands), explains process engineer Franz Trieb of the German Aerospace Center. According to Trieb, this makes it more valuable than wind energy.

    Trieb, who was skeptical at first, was determined to come up with scientific reasons to discount Knies’ vision. “But I was unsuccessful,” he says today.

    At first, critics warned that shifting sand dunes would bury the solar mirrors and sand storms would scratch their surfaces, rendering them unusable. But these concerns were unfounded, says Trieb. He points out that 80 percent of the deserts are free of dunes, and that the migration routes of nomads would, of course, be avoided. The optimal sites for solar collectors are plateaus far from the coasts, where the sun delivers 20 percent more energy per hectare than in Spain. “The closer to God, the better the rays,” says Desertec’s chief operating officer, Rainer Aringhoff. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,695908-4,00.html

  38. Prokaryotes says:

    The salt storage devices are particularly remarkable. Giant silver tanks, with a diameter of up to 36 meters (118 feet), contain liquid potassium and sodium nitrate, cheap mineral salts that are normally used in synthetic fertilizer. The engineers in the Andasol control room can decide whether to conduct heat from the solar collectors directly to the turbine or into the salt tank. Once the salt tanks have been heated, the power plant can run at full capacity for seven hours using the stored heat from the tanks alone.

    In addition to such storage tanks, the Desertec project would require cables to bring the electricity to European population centers. The cables would be high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines, which can transmit electricity over a distance of 1,000 kilometers with losses of less than 3 percent.

    The longest of these underwater HVDC lines went into operation in late 2008. It transmits power from the Netherlands to Norway, or the other way around, depending on where the electricity happens to be cheaper at any given time. The Norned cable already recouped more than 10 percent of the initial investment within its first three months of operation.
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,695908-4,00.html

  39. Prokaryotes says:

    the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy calculated the projected revenues for German solar companies by the year 2050 under a best-case scenario, it came up with an astronomical figure: €2 trillion.

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    Greenwash

    The Hidden Pitfalls of Increasing U.S. Dependence On Canadian Oil Sands

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/hidden-pitfalls-of-increasing-us-dependence-on-canadian-oil-sands-2011-1

  41. Prokaryotes says:

    More Stupid Greenwash

    Climate change could boost crops in US, China http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i8BQHmJMnGKJIS1BntqvphdEjDpQ?docId=CNG.5e990f15315b01b62a102f8e3ce05846.351

    This study is not representative because it does not factor in weather/climate weirding/disruption and stuff like biodiversity lose. The so called “Universal Ecological Fund” has not even a wiki page.

  42. OregonStream says:

    If that were to come true, Prokaryotes, despite more wide swings from flood to drought, pest problems etc., I guess that’d mean wheat would be yet another export market that China would have a leg up in. There was another study from Ortiz et al., though, that suggested American wheat production could drop by 2050, while temperatures at least (soil conditions etc. aside) become more suitable in Canada. Like this:
    http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42380000/gif/_42380678_america_wheat_416x350.gif

  43. Edward says:

    “increased use of natural gas” BAD idea. It just gives the fossil fuel industry a “new lease on life.”