Energy and Global Warming News for July 6th: “The incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation”; seasonal shifts starving millions of the world’s poorest

“A standard incandescent bulb, left, and a more efficient one using Deposition Sciences technology.”

Incandescent Bulbs Return to the Cutting Edge

When Congress passed a new energy law two years ago, obituaries were written for the incandescent light bulb. The law set tough efficiency standards, due to take effect in 2012, that no traditional incandescent bulb on the market could meet, and a century-old technology that helped create the modern world seemed to be doomed.

But as it turns out, the obituaries were premature.

Researchers across the country have been racing to breathe new life into Thomas Edison’s light bulb, a pursuit that accelerated with the new legislation. Amid that footrace, one company is already marketing limited quantities of incandescent bulbs that meet the 2012 standard, and researchers are promising a wave of innovative products in the next few years.

Indeed, the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation.

Millions hungry as warming shifts seasons: Oxfam

“¦In a new report, global aid agency Oxfam says impoverished communities like Nassapir [in Uganda] are already being hit hard by the effects of global warming, including increased drought.

Without international funding to help them cope and tough targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the food, water, health and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people will be put at even greater risk.

Oxfam says interviews it carried out with farmers in 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America show that seasons are shrinking in number and variety.

Oxfam Details Economic Impact of Warming

Cities like New Delhi in India could see as much as a 30 percent drop in worker productivity because rising temperatures will make it impossible for people to work at the same rate on hot summer days without serious health impacts, Oxfam, the international aid group, warned on Monday.

Oxfam laid out warnings about the effects of climate change on poorer regions of the world as global leaders prepare to meet at the G8 summit later this week. Oxfam said it was seeking to rally leaders to agree to help developing nations adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. Those effects, groups like Oxfam say, are likely to happen even if a global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions is reached later this year.

New York inches closer to offshore wind farm

Government agencies and power companies said on Wednesday they are gauging interest from developers and manufacturers about building a wind farm about 13 miles off the New York city coast that could end up being the largest such project in the United States.

The Long Island Power Authority, the New York Power Authority, other agencies and Consolidated Edison Inc hope to build the 350 megawatt wind farm off the Rockaway Peninsula in the Atlantic.

Potentially, the project could be expanded to 700 MW, giving it a shot of being the biggest U.S. offshore wind farm. One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes in New York, but wind does not blow all of the time.

NYC hails new eco landmark, mulls sweeping code changes

Manhattan’s newest landmark building, the Bank of America Tower, has become a symbol of both the city’s hope for a recovery from last year’s financial crash and its push to become the United States’ greenest city.

Though the building is not finished, Bank of America and the Durst Organization, which controls half the property, say 98 percent of its space has been leased. And while the project had stalled after five years of work as cash dried up, a consortium of banks last week extended $1.3 billion in financing to complete construction by next year.

“¦The 55-story tower — said to be New York’s second tallest, after the Empire State Building — has its own on-site 5-megawatt cogeneration power plant, windows that allow in maximum daylight while shielding heat, waterless toilets and a graywater recycling system. The building will qualify for a “platinum” rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the highest possible.

New DOE loan guarantees aid turbine maker, energy storage plant

The Energy Department today announced two conditional loan guarantees totaling $59 million to help a wind turbine company expand its Idaho assembly site and to support construction of an energy storage plant in upstate New York.

The guarantees are the second and third that DOE has announced under the closely watched program to fund low-emissions energy projects, following a much larger conditional guarantee issued in March for a California-based solar company (E&ENews PM, March 20).

G8 leaders to set emissions goals

The G8 leaders are set this week to deliver their strongest statement so far on global warming.

They are likely to agree that the world ought to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050 — with rich nations reducing them by 80%.

The group will probably also say that any human-induced temperature rise should be held to 2C — a level considered to be a danger threshold.

The US has previously objected to such a clause.

Britain Could Be Wind and Wave Titan

Britain could become the largest producer of electricity from offshore wind by the end of the next decade, according to the Carbon Trust, a group funded by the British government.

With carefully targeted subsidies and regulations, Britain could build 29 gigawatts of capacity compared to a global total of 66 gigawatts by 2020, giving it 45 percent of the offshore power market, said the Carbon Trust. By comparison, Germany would have 12 gigawatts by 2020, the group said.

The group also noted that a quarter of all wave power technologies are being developed in Britain and that the country “could be the ‘natural owner’ of the global wave power market” this century.

Environment Agency preps carbon police force (UK)

The Environment Agency is to launch a dedicated unit of around 50 auditors and inspectors tasked with ensuring that the government’s imminent Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) legislation is properly enforced.

According to reports in The Sunday Times, the new unit will be given wide ranging powers, including the right to search company premises, view energy meters and seize records.

Funding Boost for Waste Methane Processor

Landfills, coal beds and cattle feedlots all produce methane, which is often either flared “” that is, burned off “” or released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.

Prometheus Energy, a five-year-old company based in Redmond, Wash., has developed a technology to turn that waste methane into liquid natural gas. And the company this week raised $20 million from the Shell Technology Ventures Fund, a fund related to the petroleum company Royal Dutch Shell and Black River Asset Management, a subsidiary of the agriculture giant Cargill.

The deal represents a vote of confidence from a fund connected to the world’s largest nongovernmental producer of liquid natural gas, and industry insiders say it’s a victory for a technology that has remained small until now.

Small Heat-Shielded Habitats Could Help Threatened Species Survive Climate Change

Intelligent countryside management could improve the survival chances of animal and plant species threatened by climate change. The creation of small heat-shielded habitats and better links between habitats would counteract a moderate temperature increase and give threatened species more time to adapt better and/or to migrate to cooler regions.

This is the conclusion drawn by scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) from a British study on saving the Large Blue butterfly (Maculinea arion). This butterfly became extinct in Britain in 1979 and was reintroduced there 25 years ago. Since then, the butterfly’s reintroduction is seen as a model for the conservation of endangered insects.

Shell Disputes Amnesty Report on Nigeria

As violence in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta escalates, Amnesty International released a new report this week condemning oil companies for wide-scale environmental damages and abuse of impoverished communities along the delta.

But Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant that created the Nigerian oil industry, has reacted testily to the new campaign by the human rights group, saying the report failed to provide a proper picture of what caused violence and degradation in the delta.

The report, “Petroleum, pollution and poverty in the Niger Delta,” highlights some well-known and undisputed complaints, particularly among villagers and local activists.