July 14 News: Clean Energy Remains Strong, Investment Surges; Germany to Fund New Coal Plants with Climate Change Cash!

A round-up of climate and energy news. Please post other stories below.Green energy bullish despite weak economy

Germany led the world in solar energy development last year as the renewable energy sector expands despite economic troubles, a U.N.-backed panel said.

“The global performance of renewable energy despite headwinds has been a positive constant in turbulent times,” Mohamed el-Ashry, chairman of Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, said in a statement.

Germany in 2010 installed more solar power than the entire world added to its grid in 2009. Solar power in the United States and Japan, meanwhile, is double 2009 levels, Ashry’s panel said in a report.


Europe for the first time last year added more solar power to its grid than wind energy, though across the board, wind power experienced the most expansion.

At least 119 countries in 2010 had adopted some form of renewable energy policy, nearly twice the levels from 2005.

Clean Energy Investment Rises 22% on Solar Boom, New Energy Says

New investment in clean energy rose 22 percent from a year ago to $41.7 billion in the second quarter following a jump in funding for solar thermal power plants, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

The figure was 27 percent higher than in the first quarter and the third-highest on record, the London-based researcher said. BrightSource Energy Inc. raised $2.2 billion for its 392- megawatt project in the U.S. while funds also flowed to Nextera Energy Resources LLC and Eskom Holdings Ltd.

The findings contrast with a 13 percent slump during the quarter for the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, which tracks 93 clean energy companies. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index of leading U.S. shares was little changed in the period.

“The explanation is partly to do with ongoing investor worries, perhaps overdone, about future policy support, and partly to do with the fact that this is a highly competitive sector, in which costs are falling and high manufacturer margins are hard to sustain,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of New Energy Finance, said in a statement released today.

Private equity and venture capital investment rose 74 percent to $3.1 billion last quarter, the highest for any quarter since 2008.

Germany to fund new coal plants with climate change cash

The plan has come under stiff criticism, but the Ministry of Economics and Technology defended the idea. A spokeswoman said it was necessary as the government switches from nuclear to other renewable energy sources and added that the money would promote the most efficient plants possible.

Funding for the initiative is limited to five percent of the energy and climate change fund’s annual expenditure between 2013 and 2016.

Annual funding for the new plants could total more than €160 million per year between 2013 and 2014 alone, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The fund was first established to encourage nuclear plant operators to develop new, renewable forms of energy production. Now that nuclear power is to be phased out by 2022, the fund will pay for research into reducing carbon dioxide emissions from buildings, developing renewable energy sources and storage technologies for them.

Economists Find Flaws in Federal Estimate of Climate Damage

A report concludes that each ton of CO2 emitted inflicts almost 45 times more “social cost” than the federal government estimates

Uncle Sam’s estimate of the damage caused by each ton of carbon dioxide is fundamentally flawed and “grossly understates” the potential impacts of climate change, according to an analysis released July 12 by a group of economists.

The study found the true cost of those emissions to be far beyond the $21 per ton derived by the federal government.

The figure, commonly known as the “social cost of carbon,” is used by federal agencies when weighing the costs and benefits of emissions-cutting regulations, such as air conditioner efficiency standards and greenhouse gas emissions limits for light trucks.

A truer value, according the Economics for Equity and the Environment Network, an umbrella organization of economists who advocate for environmental protection, could be as high as $900 per ton — equivalent to adding $9 to each gallon of gas. Viewed another way, with the U.S. emitting the equivalent of close to 6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, the higher figure suggests that avoiding those emissions could savethe nation $5.3 trillion annually, one-third of the nation’s economic output.