Energy and Global Warming News for April 27: CSP, politics of Waxman-Markey

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A Potential Breakthrough In Harnessing the Sun’s Energy

In the United States, some 3,100 megawatts of solar thermal power are planned by 2012, and capacity worldwide is expected to reach 6,400 megawatts within 3 years “” roughly 14 times the current amount.

David Biello describes the remarkable benefits of concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) n this piece for Yale’s e360, illustrating exactly why CSP is a core climate solution. Regular readers of this blog know that CSP has the most potential of any zero-carbon electricity in large part because thermal storage is cheap and efficient (see World’s largest solar power plants with thermal storage to be built in Arizona). Biello documents existing and proposed CSP plants in Spain””where a trio of projects will provide 150,000 homes with nearly round-the-clock power””and in the American Southwest. The article supplies some very good statistics beyond the sentence above:


Roughly 612,000 megawatt-hours of electricity from the sun were produced in 2007, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and solar thermal collectors sufficient to cover more than 15 million square feet were shipped and ready for installation that year “” more than double the amount in 1998.

And he quotes solar industry execs. stating some clear truths: “We’re not going to solve the [climate change] problem without putting large-scale concentrated solar facilities in the American Southwest.”


Cap and trade hits speed bumps

Supporters of legislation to address climate change expected last week’s rollout of a cap-and-trade energy plan “” complete with Earth Day events and an Al Gore appearance on Capitol Hill “” would boost their efforts.

Instead, what they got was an earful from a group of moderate Democratic lawmakers, many of whom represent competitive seats, who said the policy would set their already-economically hard-hit districts even further back.

“What I’ve seen so far is nowhere near where it needs to be for me to support it,” Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) told POLITICO. “Any way you do it, it hurts Pennsylvania, especially western Pennsylvania.”

Altmire and like-minded Democratic members, including John Boccieri of Ohio, Baron Hill of Indiana and Mark Schauer of Michigan, say they worry that the draft bill will have the adverse effect of sending manufacturing jobs overseas and increasing energy costs for consumers in coal-dependent regions of the country.

What Altmire, Boccieri, Hill and Schauer have in common is that they reside in highly competitive seats in industrial states and all are likely to be targeted in 2010.

I would say this article is fairly one-sided, ignoring the clean energy opportunity and the many proponents of action. But it is typical of what the establishment media — which sadly includes mostly Internet-based Politico.

Utilities amp up lobbying over climate debate

Fifty of the nation’s largest electric utilities amped up spending on lobbyists by 30% late last year to influence the debate in Congress just underway on one of the biggest issues facing lawmakers: climate change.

From Duke Energy, with 4 million customers, to American Electric Power (AEP), which sells energy in 11 states, the companies spent a total $51 million in the last six months of 2008, $12 million more than the same period in 2007, a USA TODAY review of lobbying reports shows.

Building Industry Sees Potential in Green

Proponents of green buildings say new rules and government subsidies for energy efficient construction are urgent because buildings, like power stations, usually stay in operation for several decades. And, they point out, buildings alone account for 40 percent of global energy use.

Those are among the messages from a report released on Monday by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a group that represents many of the world’s biggest companies “” many of which stand to profit from a surge in new orders for construction materials and technologies branded efficient.

Composting Dirty Diapers? Yes, in Toronto

Toronto collects diapers and other organic items and sends them to a processing facility. The resultant compost gets distributed to farmland and parks. That’s right: Canada’s babies and toddlers, for all their messes, are helping Canadian crops to grow.

The program, called “Green Bin,” also accepts animal waste, kitty litter and sanitary products.

Study Says Warming Poses Peril to Asia

With diminished rice harvests, seawater seeping into aquifers and islands vanishing into rising oceans, Southeast Asia will be among the regions worst affected by global warming, according to a report scheduled for release on Monday by the Asian Development Bank.

The Season Of Ticks: Could Climate Change Worsen Lyme Disease?

In a finding that suggests how global warming could impact infectious disease, scientists from Yale University, in collaboration with other institutions, have determined that climate impacts the severity of Lyme Disease by influencing the feeding patterns of deer ticks that carry and transmit it.

Mother Jones

Gone: Mass Extinction and the Hazards of Earth’s Vanishing Biodiversity

By the end of the century, half of all species on Earth may be extinct due to global warming and other causes. Who will survive the world’s dwindling biodiversity, and why?

Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten