February 8 News: AEP Executive Says Eliminating Coal is “Just Not Going to Happen”

Other stories below: Global warming could kill off snails; South Korean lawmakers vote for limits on greenhouse gas emissions

AEP chief: Coal’s elimination ‘just not going to happen’

Although the amount of energy produced by coal will decrease in the nation — from 45 percent today to 39 percent by 2020 — a top electric utility company CEO said there is definitely a future for coal.

“Coal is naturally going to come down, natural gas will be the choice, but they’re really marginal,” said Nick Akins, president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power. “Once technology is proven, you’ll start to see coal come back. We still need coal . . .  . If someone is trying to eliminate that, it’s just not going to happen.”

… “We provide the basic necessity of life as we know it….  What’s counterproductive is not to have an energy policy.”

Global warming could kill off snails

Climate change models must be reworked in a bid to save some of the world’s smallest and slimiest creatures from extinction, a Flinders University PhD candidate warns.

Biological Sciences postgraduate student Coraline Chapperon says any future policies for global warming must consider mobile organisms on rocky beaches – such as snails – and their capacity to survive the predicted rise in extreme conditions such as heatwaves.

She said the majority of current global warming research is mistakenly driven by air temperature which does not reflect the body temperature of most animals.

“A lot of current global warming research uses air temperature as a proxy for animal body temperature – so if it’s 31 degrees at the beach they’d say all the animals at the beach are 31 degrees but that’s not the case,” Ms Chapperon said.

South Korean Lawmakers Vote for Limits on Greenhouse-Gas Emissions

Lawmakers in South Korea voted to impose greenhouse-gas limits on the nation’s largest companies, overruling industry opposition and laying groundwork for the third emissions-trading program in the Asia-Pacific region.

A special committee of the National Assembly on climate change passed legislation today to establish a so-called cap-and-trade system in 2015. The bill now goes to the nation’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee, and then to the assembly’s plenary session on Feb. 16, the last step for the law.

South Korea, the world’s eighth-largest carbon emitter based on 2009 figures from the International Energy Agency, approved limits after disagreements between opposition and the ruling Grand National Party postponed the effort last year. The nation said in November 2009 its target for 2020 is to cut emissions by 30 percent from forecast levels, following similar programs in Australia and New Zealand.

“The legislation is the first step toward becoming an advanced country,” Kim Jae Yun, an opposition party member, said at thecommittee meeting today. “We can resolve what companies are concerned with.”

Glasgow Solar Study: We could put oil back in Ground

The sun gives its energy away for free. We can harvest it with solar cells and wind turbines to make electricity. That’s the good news.

The bad? It’s electricity. It’s difficult stuff to store and sometimes, just when you need some, it’s dark or the wind’s stopped blowing.

That’s why Glasgow University’s Solar Fuels Group want us to make the leap from solar power to solar fuel. It’s a multidisciplinary, multi-million pound effort which aims to convert renewable energy into fuel that’s simple to store.

It might look a lot like diesel – and we could use it in much the same way we use fossil fuels now.

Professor Richard Cogdell is a botanist whose inspiration for converting solar power into fuel comes from plants.

Judge OKs sale of Beacon Power to equity firm Rockland Capital

A Delaware bankruptcy judge on Tuesday approved a private equity firm’s $30 million offer for an alternative energy company that failed despite a $39 million government loan.

Rockland Capital was the winning bidder at an auction last week for assets of Beacon Power Corp., which makes flywheel energy storage systems that keep power frequency steady on electrical grids.

Rockland’s offer for Beacon’s assets, including a 20-megawatt flywheel energy storage plant in New York, combined $5.5 million in cash with a promissory note of $25 million payable to the Department of Energy.

The Energy Department also is slated to receive about $1 million in cash from the sale, along with about $2 million in unused cash collateral that will revert from Beacon to DOE, Beacon attorney William Baldiga said after Tuesday’s court hearing.

Greenpeace puts Google, Cisco, Fujitsu at Top of Green IT Ranking

Greenpeace today released the latest version of its Cool IT Leaderboard, tracking progress among 21 IT companies in embracing green energy for their own operations as well as advocating for policies that promote clean energy use worldwide.

Google came out on top of the rankings this year, scoring 53 points out of a total 100. Cisco moved from first to second with a score of 49, and Ericsson and Fujitsu tied for third place with 48 points earned.

Overall, the latest rankings show a steep decline from the fourth round of scores, which were published in December 2010, during the Cancun climate talks. Cisco led the prior round’s pack with a score of 70, while Google held down fourth place with a score of 47.

The decline in overall scores reflects what Greenpeace calls a lack of steady progress in the greening of IT, even as demand for IT services, particularly in cloud computing, is rapidly increasing.

Nearly all in Colorado Delegation back Push to Extend wind-energy Tax Credit

A bipartisan group from Colorado’s congressional delegation is calling for the extension of the wind-energy-production tax credit to be added to the bill extending the payroll-tax cuts.

“New wind-energy-development projects and the thousands of jobs associated with those projects are predicted to drop off precipitously after 2012” if the wind-energy tax credit isn’t renewed, the group said in a letter. “This dire situation will be especially pronounced in Colorado, where we manufacture many of the components for wind turbines.”

The letter was delivered Tuesday to the chairmen of the conference committee negotiating the extension of the payroll-tax cuts.

More than a decade ago, solar electricity changed the lives of several mountain communities in Cuba. Now this and other renewable power sources are emerging as the best options available to develop sustainable energy across the island.”If the world’s clean energy potential exceeds our consumption needs, why do we insist on using the polluting kind?” asked Luis Bérriz, head of the Cuban Society for the Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources and Respect for the Environment (CUBASOLAR), a non- governmental organisation that promotes the use of alternative and environmentally-friendly power sources.

According to his calculations, the amount of solar radiation Cuba receives is equivalent to 50 million tonnes of oil a day.

“If we covered the 1,000-kilometre-long national highway with solar panels we would generate all the power currently used, without using fossil fuels or occupying a single square metre of agricultural land,” Bérriz said to IPS in an interview.

Moreover, “nobody can block the sun; it belongs to all of us,” he added.

5 Responses to February 8 News: AEP Executive Says Eliminating Coal is “Just Not Going to Happen”

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Nick Akins’ statement that “we still need coal”, and that eliminating it is “not going to happen” are self referential, and not grounded in reality.

    Utility CEO’s are similar to those of many corporate sectors in that they are marionettes for stockholders, who in turn want good returns in the next few years. All of their decisions derive from this fact.

    Utility execs either lack expertise about ongoing damage from coal, or choose to ignore it. Quoting them as if they know something makes no sense.

    “Public” utility is now an oxymoron. They are never going to be reformed from within.

  2. Paul Magnus says:

    Fossil fuel use is not going to be curtailed as required in time by the free market. And will direct intervention work globally? Looks like mother nature is going to do it herself.

    I think the Venus syndrome is a higher possibility than we think. Will we make the right choice? Help.

  3. NSIDC released their January 2012 report on Arctic Sea Ice conditions:

    Arctic ice extent low overall, high in the Bering Sea

    Overall, Arctic sea ice extent remained lower than average in January. However, in the Bering Sea, ice extent was much greater than normal. The heavy ice cover caused problems for fishermen and made for an arduous late-season resupply mission to Nome, Alaska. The Arctic Oscillation, which had been in its positive phase most of the winter so far, switched to a negative mode, bringing cold weather to Europe and changing the direction of sea ice movement.

    January 2012 compared to past years

    Arctic sea ice extent for January 2012 was the fourth lowest in the satellite record. Including the year 2012, the linear rate of decline for January ice extent over the satellite record is 3.2% per decade.
    Based on the satellite record, before 2005 average January ice extent had never been lower than 14 million square kilometers (5.41 million square miles). January ice extent has now fallen below that mark six out of the last seven years.

  4. Paul Magnus says:

    Will we have the courage and guts (and leadership) to switch away from fossil fuels?

  5. J4zonian says:

    Referring to the Glasgow project to convert solar energy to fuel to burn:

    Didn’t the Earth already do that? I remember, back in the good old days–the Carboniferous–when we had real climate troubles–rampant growth of enormous trees, flooded continents… and hoo boy, the heat!–and Gaia came through with a program to sequester all that carbon in the ground, creating the climate and dry land masses we’ve come to depend on. Isn’t our problem that we’ve taken too much of that carbon and re-released it into the atmosphere? And isn’t converting new solar energy into, in short order, atmospheric carbon, going to make that problem worse? I’d be very interested to hear from Joe on this.