Energy and Global Warming News for August 25th: India unveils domestic cap and trade system; Chinese legislature takes up climate change for first time

Indian Government unveils cap and trade market worth $15 bln

India has approved in principle new trading plans centred on energy efficiency as part of efforts to shift to a greener economy to fight climate change, opening up a potential market worth more than $15 billion by 2015.

Energy efficiency is a key focus in India’s national climate change policy, unveiled last year and which lays out a roadmap to a green economy but doesn’t fix a target for carbon emissions.

Officials said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday approved in principle the national energy efficiency plan, which puts in place new financial architecture chiefly centring around trading of efficiency certificates and the carbon market….


A government statement said the efficiency mission would ensure an annual saving of 5 percent of India’s total energy consumption and a cut of about 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year from its annual emissions of about 3 [1.5] billion tonnes now.

Not certain how Reuters got India’s CO2 emissions wrong by a factor of 2!

“It’s a fairly ambitious beginning,” said K. Srinivas, former climate campaigner of Greenpeace India. “We have reached the stage where we are willing to cap and trade. Now they have to ensure sustained implementation.”

Climate change on the agenda of China’s NPC

China’s top legislature, for the first time in its history, is specifically addressing climate change with the review of a draft resolution, after hearing a report on the growing environmental problem Monday.

Ni Yuefeng, a vice-chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) environmental and resources protection committee, said the resolution shows the NPC is taking the issue seriously. The details of the resolution are expected to be on the agenda today.

“The involvement of the legislative body in climate change issues will help facilitate government actions to combat global warming,” he said.

China is determined to be a country that is a leader in the global growing emphasis on environmentalism, top climate official Xie Zhenhua said Monday.

But China has recognized fighting global warming as its internal drive for sustainable development, and will include the climate change strategy in its economic and social development plans, top climate official Xie Zhenhua said Monday

The country will make great efforts toward developing a “green economy,” building low-carbon projects and assessing economic performance by how much less carbon was emitted per unit of GDP growth, according to Xie.

China Racing Ahead of America in the Drive to Go Solar

President Obama wants to make the United States “the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy,” but in his seven months in office, it is China that has stepped on the gas in an effort to become the dominant player in green energy “” especially in solar power, and even in the United States.

Chinese companies have already played a leading role in pushing down the price of solar panels by almost half over the last year. Shi Zhengrong, the chief executive and founder of China’s biggest solar panel manufacturer, Suntech Power Holdings, said in an interview here that Suntech, to build market share, is selling solar panels on the American market for less than the cost of the materials, assembly and shipping.

The Obama administration is determined to help the American industry. The energy and Treasury departments announced this month that they would give $2.3 billion in tax credits to clean energy equipment manufacturers.

Lower-cost Solar Cells To Be Printed Like Newspaper, Painted On Rooftops

Solar cells could soon be produced more cheaply using nanoparticle “inks” that allow them to be printed like newspaper or painted onto the sides of buildings or rooftops to absorb electricity-producing sunlight.

Brian Korgel, a University of Texas at Austin chemical engineer, is hoping to cut costs to one-tenth of their current price by replacing the standard manufacturing process for solar cells — gas-phase deposition in a vacuum chamber, which requires high temperatures and is relatively expensive.His team has developed solar-cell prototypes with efficiencies at one percent; however, they need to be about 10 percent.“If we get to 10 percent, then there’s real potential for commercialization,” Korgel said. “If it works, I think you could see it being used in three to five years.”

Groups target GOP on cap-and-trade

Four independent groups are launching more than $1 million in attack ads Tuesday targeting five House Republicans who voted against energy legislation in June, spokespeople for the groups said.

The ads from the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, MoveOn and Americans United for Change, will target Reps. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), Denny Rehberg (R- Mont.), Roy Blunt (R- Mo.) and two Virginia Republicans, Frank Wolf and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor.

The ad casts the members as siding with “big oil and energy interests” and against “the jobs we really need” because they voted against the legislation that would set up a system of trading carbon permits known as “cap-and-trade” and impose a series of other measures aimed at reducing emissions.

Clean energy loan picks up steam

A proposed revolving loan fund of $30 million for clean energy technology is gaining support from 150 clean energy manufacturers, marking a growing fault line in the struggling industry.

The companies represent a hodgepodge of small- and medium-sized businesses, largely specializing in clean energy sectors like solar and wind technology. They also stand to benefit the most from the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology Act sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

South could maintain current demand levels through efficiency (subscription required)

The South could largely offset its growth in energy demand through 2020 if it fully utilized “cost-effective” energy efficiency measures, according to a report released today.

“Our research points to a reservoir of cost-effective energy savings that offsets the need to build any new coal-fired power plants in the South over the next decade,” Marilyn Brown of the Georgia Institute of Technology, the report’s co-author, said in a statement.

“Too often, debates on new plant construction focus on cost-effectiveness and health impacts while ignoring the benefits that could occur by rethinking policies on the demand side of the equation. This study informs that discussion,” she said.

Federal Carbon Storage Grants Awarded

The Department of Energy announced $27.6 million in research grants on Monday, for projects intended to simulate the underground storage of carbon dioxide.The 19 awards, to be distributed over four years, will be supplemented by $8.2 million paid by the recipients, which are predominantly universities.Carbon capture and storage technology “” or C.C.S. “” is especially important for coal-fired power plants, which account for close to half of the country’s electricity use and a substantial portion of its carbon emissions.

After national park tour, Udall, McCain agree global warming a problem but stay quiet on fixes

Global warming is threatening America’s national parks. But there is no consensus about how to prevent the harm.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado toured Rocky Mountain National Park Monday then heard testimony from parks officials and scientists about how global warming is harming the park system.

Glacier National Park, for example, is losing its glaciers, while low-lying coastal parkland is in danger of going underwater.

Both senators said confronting climate change is paramount.

“A common misperception is that this is a crisis that is down the road,” McCain said. “Climate change is real. It’s happening now.”

However, there was no discussion at the hearing on what should be done to address climate change.