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Energy and Global Warming News for July 30th, 2009: China shuts 7500 small coal-fired plants; NZ apples shipped to EU generate own weight in CO2

Beijing closing coal plants in environmental move

China has taken advantage of a drop in electricity demand due to the global financial crisis to speed up a campaign to close small coal-fired power plants and improve its battered environment, an official said Thursday.

Authorities have closed power plants with a total of 7,467 generating units, meeting a previously announced goal 18 months ahead of schedule, said Sun Qin, deputy administrator of the Cabinet’s National Energy Administration….

Beijing is trying to improve its energy efficiency and reduce surging demand for imported oil and gas by closing smaller, less efficient power plants and encouraging use of wind, solar and other clean sources.

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The latest closures will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions that cause acid rain by an estimated 1.1 million tons and carbon dioxide output by 124 million tons per year, Sun said. He said the closures involved moving 400,000 workers to new jobs.

China and the United States are the world’s biggest emitters of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” that scientists say trap the sun’s heat and are altering the climate. China produced 6.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2006, according to a study by the Netherlands’ Environmental Assessment Agency.

NZ apples sent to UK generate own weight in C02

New measurements of the “carbon footprint” of New Zealand apples sent to Europe show that 1 kg of braeburn or royal gala apples will generate nearly their own weight in greenhouse gases.

Over half of the global warming potential comes from the shipping used to take them to Europe.

When the pipfruit’s carbon footprint from being grown on the orchard to being delivered to the supermarket shelf is measured by the British national standard, PAS 2050, 1kg of apples produces the equivalent of 900g of carbon dioxide.

Ad blitz targets lawmakers on climate change bill

Targeted and sustained is the mantra of a new ad campaign aimed at pressuring lawmakers to support passage of a final climate change bill.

Just three House members “” Reps. Tim Holden (D-Pa.), Mark Souder (R-Ind.) and Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio) “” are targeted by the ads being launched Wednesday by the Environmental Defense Fund.

But what the ads lack in scope, organizers hope they will make up in endurance. They are scheduled to air for two months, which will likely coincide with the critical final congressional vote on the climate change bill.

“We want to send a signal that we are engaging at a different level,” said Tony Kreindler, a spokesman for the fund.

Climate debate has some industries spending at record pace

Industries trying to shape landmark climate legislation spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying this spring, with a few doling out dollars at speeds likely to smash records set last year.

The 10 biggest industries with stakes in the energy bill passed by the House and under way in the Senate spent a total of $122 million on lobbying in April, May and June. That compares with $112 million in the same period a year ago. The biggest jumps came from oil and gas, electric utilities and alternative energy companies.

Global poll finds 73% want higher priority for climate change

A majority of peoples around the world want their governments to put action on climate change at the top of the political agenda, a new global public opinion poll suggests.

Unfortunately for Barack Obama though, who has put energy reform at the top of his White House to-do list, Americans are not necessarily among them.

China wants climate deal this year: U.N.’s Ban

China’s leaders told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Beijing wants to reach a new agreement on combating climate change in Copenhagen in December, Ban said on Wednesday.

“I was pleased that President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao assured me that China wants to seal a deal in Copenhagen in December and that China will play an active and constructive role in the negotiations,” Ban told a monthly news conference.

Who will survive the solar energy shakeout?

Until the big chill, the solar energy was red-hot, tearing along with a decade-long growth rate that averaged 50 percent a year.

Then the global recession hit — and the fizzling of subsidies in Spain and a credit crunch — which squeezed financing for many solar projects. Production slowed at plants making panels that turned sun into electricity. Prices fell sharply.

So now, despite climate-change legislation in the United States and a push for cleaner energy worldwide, a global industry shakeout looms, many analysts predict. And not a small shudder. They anticipate an earthquake of consolidation likely to leave only strong competitors standing.

Solar Lantern: Students Design More Efficient, Affordable Lighting For Sub-Saharan Africans

A Kansas State University student is combining engineering and nature to design a more affordable and more sustainable lighting source for those living without electricity.

Tai-Wen Ko, K-State senior in electrical engineering, is mentoring Justin Curry, K-State freshman in electrical engineering. The pair is designing a solar lantern with a more affordable initial cost. Ko is focusing his efforts for people living in Sub-Saharan Africa, which he said is the least electrified region in the world.

Ko said kerosene lamps are the most affordable option for people without electricity, but the lamps can be expensive to maintain and they produce carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. He said solar lanterns are a popular alternative to kerosene lamps because they run on renewable energy and aren’t at risk of starting a fire.

Floating Docks Designed To Harness Clean Energy For NYC

An NJIT architecture professor with an architecture student has designed a network of modular floating docks to harness clean energy for New York City.

According to Richard Garber, a professor of architecture at the College of Architecture and Design at NJIT and his student Brian Novello, the tidal action of New York City rivers would be strong enough to run the system.

Harnessing Wave Power With New ‘Oyster’ Machine

A giant new machine called’ Oyster’ designed to harness the power of ocean waves and turn it into ‘green’ electricity is being installed on the seabed off the Atlantic shores of the Orkney Islands. In autumn 2009 it will undergo demonstration trials to prove whether its innovative technology could lead to a commercial source of renewable energy for use in seashores around the world.

In contrast to many other wave power devices, Oyster uses hydraulic technology to transfer wave power to shore, where it is then converted into electricity. ‘A key design feature is a 18m wide oscillator based on fundamental research at Queen’s University Belfast led by Professor Trevor Whittaker using their wave tanks’, explains Dr Ronan Doherty, Chief Technical Officer of Aquamarine Power the Edinburgh based company which has developed the first ‘Oyster’. The oscillator is fitted with pistons and, when activated by wave action, pumps high-pressure water through a sub sea pipeline to the shore. Onshore, conventional hydroelectric generators convert this high-pressure water into electrical energy.

When It Comes To Going Green, People Want Smaller Gains Now, Not Bigger Gains Later

People make environmental choices the same way they manage money, preferring smaller gains right away to bigger gains later, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

This behavior reflects “delay discounting,” a mental filter used to make decisions about current versus future gains and losses, David Hardisty, M.Phil., and Elke Weber, Ph.D., of Columbia University, report in the August Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Just how much people downplay what would happen in the future is called the discount rate.