A round-up of recent international climate and energy news. Please post other stories below.UK sails ahead in offshore wind power generation
The UK has sailed ahead in offshore wind power generation in the past six months, building more offshore windfarms than any other country in the world, and accounting for almost all of the turbines erected in European waters this year.
Of only 108 offshore turbines built around Europe’s coastline from January to June, a whopping 101 were built around the UK, with only six built in Germany, and a single one in Norway, according to estimates published on Wednesday by the trade body European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
Chris Huhne, energy and climate change secretary, told the Guardian the figures showed how fast the UK was moving in renewable power. “The UK is the undisputed home of offshore wind energy. Our natural resource and competitive advantage mean we have the biggest market in the world. We’re blowing away the competition,” he said. “It’s part of the low-carbon revolution that’s under way in the UK, bringing jobs and growth in new industries and building us a future less exposed to volatile global energy prices.”Wind energy is now one of the most important construction sectors in Europe, as most of the rest of the construction industry suffered badly during the recession. Offshore wind is seen as particularly important as the turbines can be bigger and wind speeds tend to be higher so energy can be generated more efficiently, and because in many countries the best onshore wind spots have already been taken or wind developers face opposition in erecting turbines….
But the scale of the UK’s ambitions is also apparent from EWEA’s research: the turbines built this year represent only a fraction of the numbers planned for windfarms that have already begun, and the UK’s plans far outstrip those of other countries. When the windfarms begun or added to this year are completed, they will be able to provide about 2,240MW of generating capacity in the UK. By contrast, when the German farms are complete their capacity will be only about one-fifth of the size as much, at 450MW.
These numbers also do not capture windfarms that are planned but are still not under construction, of which there are many more in the UK. Across Europe, as of 30 June 2011, there were 1,247 offshore wind turbines fully grid connected with a total capacity of 3,294 MW in 49 windfarms spread over nine countries. Although seven more turbines were erected in the first six months of 2010 than in the same period this year, the turbines tended to be bigger and more powerful.
The German government agreed to increase investment in clean-energy technology research by about 75 percent as Europe’s largest power market prepares to exit nuclear generation by 2022.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet will pump 3.4 billion euros ($4.9 billion) into renewables, energy efficiency, energy storage and grid-technology research in the next three years, the Environment Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement.
“We need innovative and efficient energy technologies to make the path into the age of renewable-energy sources safe and affordable,” Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said in the statement.
Merkel said in June she will replace Germany’s 17 reactors with a combination of renewable sources and fossil-fuel-based power plants, after explosions at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex stoked safety concerns in Europe’s largest economy.
Germany’s atomic power stations accounted for 23 percent of the nation’s generating capacity last year. The country met 16.8 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources, and aims to boost that to at least 35 percent in 2020.
Some Indian companies are taking the lead in providing access to sustainable, low-cost energy that also seems to be linked to poverty reduction. Two of those companies, Abellon Clean Energy and SELCO, have seized the entrepreneurial reins in providing viable models hat can combat poverty.
Abellon is developing a palette of clean energy solutions via bio energy, biomass sourcing, waste management, solar energy, and agrisciences. The company describes its business model as the Poornakumbha — “a social development platform with holistic approach to sustainable development at grass roots levels.”
According to Abellon, “Poornakumbha not only looks at waste as an income and employment generating opportunity but goes much beyond the wealth from waste paradigm to help rural communities make gainful utilization of agri-residue and other resources, increase agricultural productivity and yields and strengthen market linkages, enable improvement in agricultural systems and processes through education and training of farmers, and specially focus on development of backward tribal areas.”
As population growth and climate change increase competition for water around the world, India and Pakistan may find water a growing source of conflict, analysts say.The two South Asian countries have a long history of tensions over issues as diverse as terrorist attacks and rights to Kashmir. Diplomatic initiatives have helped reduced these tensions in recent years.
But given that India and Pakistan share numerous rivers, some experts think that the issue of water supplies could lead to renewed conflict, making water conservation an even more urgent priority.
Water is clearly in increasingly short supply in India and Pakistan. Per capita water availability in Pakistan has fallen by nearly 75 percent over the last 60 years, in part because of rapid population growth. The country is seen as having too few dams and reservoirs to hold water supplies, and agricultural production is threatened by a lack of water.
China, the largest producer and consumer of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which not only harm the ozone layer but also the climate due to their high global-warming potential, has been granted US $265 million to cut its use of these gases by 2015.The funding approved by the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol will support China’s commitment to make a real change to the global environment as well as a contribution to the Green Economy. China and its HCFC-consuming industries have made a significant step towards achieving the first reductions in HCFCs mandated by the Montreal Protocol, the world’s most successful environmental agreement.
The projects agreed between China and the Multilateral Fund’s Executive Committee represent the first stage of China’s HCFC phase-out management plan (HPMP). Once implemented, the HPMP will not only eliminate 3,320 tonnes of HCFC consumption in China, but the new technologies adopted will also significantly contribute to global efforts to combat climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases as compared to the technologies currently in use in China.
The race by U.N. and aid agencies to respond to worsening drought and hunger in the Horn of Africa suggests how far the world still has to go to put in place effective measures to prevent droughts turning into disasters.Finding solutions is particularly urgent as climate change brings more extreme and unpredictable weather, including more “slow-onset” disasters like droughts, warns Luc Gnacadja, executive director of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, a sister convention to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The United Nations’ anti-desertification chief, born in Benin, spoke to AlertNet as his agency prepared for a key U.N. General Assembly meeting on addressing desertification and drought on Sept. 20 in New York.