To mark World Water Day (22 March), we profile a Dutchman who is winning awards for treating water in an energy efficient way, as well as an invention to clean up water for millions in developing countries. It seems every day is World Waste Day as we learn that up to half the world’s food goes to waste. And waste of a nuclear kind is the biggest bugbear for this former “clean” energy. More on waste management, water saving and energy efficiency, including Singapore’s sustainable lighting festival which shows energy in a good light. Australia’s Bob Carr is showing a refreshing touch as the country’s foreign minister by talking straight on climate change. The same cannot be said about the US Republican presidential contenders. One American who has it all together for the planet is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, winning his city a world prize. The Asian Development Bank has bad news on climate refugees – there’s many more to come. There’s some good news on the clean energy front – with a new wave energy device from Japan, solar powered skyscrapers and New Zealand’s largest farm in the wind. We learn that Carbon Systems has something Microsoft wants and there’s an Apple app for climate change. WWF has a different way of adding up Singapore’s per capita carbon emissions, but we’ll all be joining hands to participate in Earth Hour 8.30pm on Saturday 31 March. Where-ever you are, turn off the lights! – Ken Hickson
Archive for March, 2012
Winner of the 2012 international Lee Kuan Water Prize for breakthrough contributions to a new energy efficient wastewater treatment technology, Professor Mark van Loosdrecht says that with continued innovation, the wastewater industry could be sustainable and even a source of energy production.
By Jenny Marusiak in eco-business.com (8 March 2012):
Dutch water technology expert Mark van Loosdrecht has become the fifth winner of Singapore’s prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize.
PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong, who announced the award selection at a media briefing hosted by the Singapore water agency, said that Professor van Loosdrecht was chosen for his “breakthrough contributions” to a new wastewater treatment technology called Anammox.
The new technology, which uses less energy, produces fewer carbon emissions and requires less space than existing technologies, has been in trials at Singapore’s Changi Water Reclamation facility for the past two years.
“PUB is always on the lookout for technology that can improve the efficiency of wastewater treatment…We will continue to trial the technology and hopefully adopt it,” said Mr Chew.
Tan Gee Paw, chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize nominating committee said in a statement that the technology would create a “paradigm shift” in the industry.
“The adoption of such energy-saving technology is essential for used water treatment plants seeking complete energy self-sufficiency and will be the future for the industry,” he added.
Professor van Loosdrecht, an environmental biotechnologist at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, said that Anammox, which is short for Anaerobic Ammonium Oxidation, was a “completely different way of removing nitrogen from water”.
Nitrogen, in the form of ammonia, is a major source of pollution in wastewater, and removing it is a priority for treatment plants. Most plants today use bacteria to break down the substance in an energy and resource-intensive process. The process needs electricity to pump in oxygen and is fuelled with organic carbon that could otherwise be used for energy production.
His innovation simplifies the process, and requires far less oxygen and no organic carbon. The result is that carbon emissions can be reduced by up to 90 per cent and energy for pumping in oxygen can be reduced by up to 60 per cent.
“Effectively, it is a short-cut,” he said.
The bacteria used in Professor van Loosdrecht’s short-cut is neither new nor rare. Water treatment engineers have known since the 1960’s that something was causing nitrogen levels at their facilities to drop unexpectedly; but it was not until the 1990’s that researchers at TU Delft identified the bacteria.
The bacteria’s slow growth rate is both the reason it was unidentified for so long, and the biggest barrier in developing the technology, noted Professor van Loosdrecht.
Developed first in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, which chose the technology as a space-saving alternative to expanding its existing wastewater systems, Anammox has been implemented in 16 plants around the world by Paques, the Dutch environmental technology firm that owns the license for the technology.
More than 30 similar plants have been developed by other companies in various countries, including Japan, the United States, China and Austria.
The majority of the plants have been industrial wastewater facilities, including one in China – the largest to date – that treats wastewater from a monosodium glutamate factory owned by China’s Meihua Group. Meihua’s website notes that the treatment facility, which was built in 2009 to treat 11,000 kilogrammes of ammonia per day, has allowed the company to far exceed national standards for water treatment.
China’s water shortages and tightening environmental regulations make it a key market for the technology, said Professor van Loosdrecht. It is likely to see a faster uptake there than in countries such as the United States, which already have advanced wastewater technologies in place, he added.
He attributed his innovation’s success thus far to his early partnerships with water agencies and engineering firms. Developing a new technology can take 10 to 15 years, he said, and working as a team with customers leads to faster and more successful commercialisation compared to working solely within a university.
Professor van Loosdrecht, who was chosen from among 61 nominees from 25 different countries, will receive his award at the Lee Kuan Yew award ceremony on 2 July at Marina Bay Sands as part of Singapore International Water Week.
Singapore International Water Week – to be held from 1 to 5 July this year – celebrates achievements in the water world and showcases new technologies in addition to exploring best practises.
The highlight of this is the presentation of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, a high-profile international award to recognise outstanding contributions in solving global water issues.
The winner of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize delivers the annual Singapore Water Lecture and receives a cash prize of S$300,000 provided by the Singapore Millennium Foundation, a philanthropic body supported by Temasek Holdings.
Commenting on the award, Professor van Loosdrecht said that he was pleased and surprised to be chosen for the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize. However, the best recognition would be to have his ideas implemented within the industry, he added.
Compared to other water technology sectors, such as the treatment of drinking water, Professor van Loosdrecht said that the wastewater industry is facing much more pressure for change due to society’s shift in focus on reusing water.
He noted that with continued innovation, the wastewater industry could be sustainable and even a source of energy production.
“Wastewater technology is roughly 100 years old, but there is still much room for improvement,” he said.
Australia’s new Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr has focused on climate change in his first speech to the Senate, saying he has believed that human activity is changing the climate since the 1980s and is concerned that it is also altering the oceans. “But what if this shock, this chemical experiment with the Earth’s atmosphere is only the first of a series of shocks we might sustain?” he said. Pity the US Republican Presidential contenders couldn’t see it that way.
By David Henry for Bloomberg (15 Mar 2012):
As Republicans head toward a showdown in the presidential primary race, the two main protagonists have something in common: They both reject anthropogenic climate change.
Mitt Romney did a policy about-face in October last year when he said: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.” This was after he had told a New Hampshire audience four months earlier that global warming was man-made and that reducing greenhouse gases was important.
Rick Santorum, for his part, has been consistently unapologetic about his climate skepticism. “The apostles of this pseudo-religion believe that America and its people are the source of the Earth’s temperature. I do not,” he wrote last week. He claimed to be the only Republican candidate not to have bowed to “this liberal orthodoxy.”
So as March temperatures are forecast to reach more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the U.S. next week, well above average for this season, it’s timely to consider a government study from a nation that has the most to lose from rising global temperatures. Australia — the world’s driest inhabited continent, whose two-decade economic expansion can be largely attributed to the mining of fossil fuels — has just released its review of greenhouse gases. The results leave little wiggle room for climate skeptics.
Greenhouse gases have risen to their highest level since modern humans evolved and emissions from human activity were increasingly affecting the country’s temperatures. “Multiple lines of evidence show that global warming continues and that human activities are mainly responsible,” said the State of the Climate 2012 report from the CSIRO, the national science agency, and the Bureau of Meteorology. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was measured at 390 parts per million last year, it said, the highest level in 800,000 years.
This is a grim warning from the CSIRO, which was accused in the Australian press of having compromising ties to the coal industry as recently as two years ago. If those claims were true, the agency has just done an about-face as impressive as the former Massachusetts governor’s.
When Romney or Santorum turns to the climate debate during the general election campaign against President Barack Obama this year, he will be thinking about the next four years. Maybe that’s the main reason voters shouldn’t believe a word they’re saying.
(David Henry is an editor for Bloomberg View.)
ABC News (22 March 2012):
Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr has focused on climate change in his first speech to the Senate.
Senator Carr was sworn in as a senator and a minister earlier this month.
He has described it as an honour that has come years after he thought he had ended his parliamentary service.
“Norman Mailer, the American novelist who I counted as a friend, said on one occasion he had an adolescent crush on the profession of writer, and I could say that as an adolescent I had a crush on the profession of being a Labor member of Parliament,” he said.
Senator Carr says he has believed that human activity is changing the climate since the 1980s and is concerned that it is also altering the oceans.
“But what if this shock, this chemical experiment with the Earth’s atmosphere is only the first of a series of shocks we might sustain?” he said.
“What about the change in the chemical composition of the oceans as they absorb more and more of the carbon our civilisations have been emitting?”
Senator Carr also used his speech to outline his vision for the way Australia can help promote tolerance between cultures and religions.
“Running foreign policy is about protecting our national interest… but it is also about being an exemplary global citizen when it comes to protecting human rights and protecting the world’s oceans,” he said.
“To this I would like to add that in foreign policy we may also promote and defend cultural diversity – the idea of a planet of seven billion that celebrates and does not deny its contradictions.”
He says Australia can do more to encourage dialogue between faiths in the region and work with Indonesia, which is the largest Islamic nation in the world.
“We can make sure that our multicultural society continues to tick over,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s a need to fetishise multiculturalism or to give it a capital M, but simply to relax into our easy-going ethnic and cultural diversity based on tolerance and respect.”
Later, Mr Carr told 7.30′s Chris Uhlmann that Australia has struck the right balance between China and the United States.
He said it is something that both side of politics can take credit for.
But he said there are challenges to be dealt with in the nation’s relationship with China.
“For the first time in our history the nation with which we have the major economic relationship is a nation with different values and a different form of government from our own,” he said.
“One can’t say there aren’t challenges in this relationship, but ultimately, we don’t have to choose America or China.”
Mr Carr says the United States’ rotating troop deployment in the Top End, announced earlier this year by US president Barack Obama, should not be seen as an anti-Chinese gesture.
“It’s no revelation to Beijing that a rock-solid cornerstone of Australian security is that relationship we enjoy with the United States. This is in the Australian DNA,” he said.
New York City has won the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize this year for its urban rejuvenation since the devastating September 11 terrorist attacks more than a decade ago. Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged just last month that newly-adopted green building codes are putting the City on track to meet its planned (PlaNYC) goal to lower carbon emissions, energy consumption and waste. “We’re well on our way to making New York the greenest City in America.”
By Robin Chan in Straits Times (22 March 2012):
New York City has won the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize this year for its urban rejuvenation since the devastating Sept 11 terrorist attacks more than a decade ago.
The award will be given to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Departments of Transportation, City Planning and Parks and Recreation in July, during the World Cities Summit 2012 in Singapore.
Chairman of the prize nominating committee Kishore Mahbubani said: ‘The city of New York is an inspiring story of urban rejuvenation. With bold vision, strong leadership, sheer determination, and excellent partnership between government and citizens, there is now a new sense of direction in the city.’
He was speaking at the Raffles Hotel on Wednesday.
Under Mr Bloomberg, the city has brought down its crime rate, with ambulance response times also shorter, but it was also the investment in and transformation of its public infrastructure which caught the committee’s eye, said Mr Mahbubani.
Mr Bloomberg highlighted three of these projects – the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the transformation of a disused railway line into an aerial park, and redesigning the roadways to be more bicycle-friendly.
Mr Bloomberg said: ‘Such long-term planning is really vital in New York City, and in other cities.
‘Because with more than half the world’s population now living in cities and with three-quarters of the people on earth expected to be city dwellers by mid-century, cities around the globe, including New York, must confront all the effects of rapid urban growth: in transportation, housing, public health, public safety, education, and in so many other areas.
Six other cities also received special mention including Brisbane in Australia, Copenhagen in Denmark and Vancouver in Canada.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn last month (February 2012) announced that newly-adopted green building codes are putting the City on track to meet PlaNYC’s goal to lower carbon emissions, energy consumption and waste. In a report released today, the Urban Green Council celebrated the City’s progress in quickly codifying the recommendations on building construction and renovation, which were first proposed two years ago this month.
Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn convened a task force to outline steps the City should take to mitigate the impact buildings have on a sustainable future. Buildings account for 75 percent of the City’s total greenhouse gas emissions and 95 percent of total electrical consumption. According to the report, the adoption of 29 recommendations will divert 100,000 tons of asphalt from landfills each year; reduce greenhouse gas emissions citywide by 5 percent; lower the costs of lighting energy by 10 percent; and provide $400 million in savings by 2030.
“When we launched PlaNYC five years ago, we put forward a bold vision to make our City more sustainable, and meeting those goals is now a part of how our city develops,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The forward-thinking proposals enacted in the last two years will benefit buildings that make up this City, and the people who inhabit them. I look forward to working with the Speaker’s Office and the Urban Green Council to continue our work to build a greener, greater New York.”
“We’re well on our way to making New York the greenest City in America. The legislation passed in the Council over the past two years to green our City’s codes will help us achieve the vision laid out in PlaNYC for a more sustainable New York,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The plan will move us closer to our goal of greenhouse emission reduction, and it addresses the growing concern New Yorkers face about environmental impact in the five boroughs. The Council looks forward to continue to partner with the Bloomberg administration and Urban Green Council on future initiatives.”
“The extraordinary story here is one of alignment – between the Mayor and Speaker, and between government, industry and nonprofits – and small steps adding up to big ones,” said Russell Unger, Executive Director of Urban Green Council. “The code changes help maintain a healthy business environment by lowering energy costs, in addition to saving money and resources for all New Yorkers. They enforce the city’s position as a thought leader and keep it at the forefront of major growth industries: energy efficiency and green building.”
“Greening the Big Apple will improve our quality of life for generations to come, but all of us must do our part to make sure that happens – including government,” said Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri. “Today’s report shows that the City’s hard work is paying off. We have been working closely with Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn’s Office and the Urban Green Council to implement the goals set forth by PlaNYC and amend the construction codes to encourage innovative ideas such as using daylight to illuminate public spaces and allowing water to be reused in building operations. These simple changes are just the beginning of making our buildings more environmentally friendly and making New York one of the world’s greenest cities.”
World Cities Summit, Singapore 1-4 July 2012
Urbanisation is occurring on an unprecedented scale. By 2050, it is estimated that 70% of people will live in cities. Cities also face challenges ranging from environmental management to social cohesion. Under the theme “Liveable and Sustainable Cities – Integrated Urban Solutions”, the World Cities
Summit 2012 will explore how cities can build resilience and improve their quality of life and environment by adopting integrated solutions to increasingly complex challenges.
The World Cities Summit is the global platform for government leaders and industry experts to address liveable and sustainable city challenges, share innovative urban projects and forge partnerships. Held in conjunction with the 5th Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) and the inaugural CleanEnviro Summit Singapore (CESS), the World Cities Summit 2012 will enable delegates to network with an even wider group of public and private sector players and discover synergies between urban planning, water and environmental solutions.
Strategically sited in the Asia Pacific region where many cities are experiencing unprecedented growth, Singapore is the ideal host for this Summit. After the success of the first two Summits, World Cities Summit 2012 is expected to attract more than 3,000 government leaders, policy makers and industry experts from around the world.
Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival continues to draw thousands of enlightened visitors to Singapore’s Marina Bay to see 31 spectacular lighting installations (continues to 1 April), but what they don’t see how little energy is used as the artists have incorporate smart LED lighting, alternative energy and recycled materials. In addition, 47 prominent properties have come on board an associated energy efficiency campaign to save an estimated 200,000 kWh over the three weeks. There’s also a contest to get the best energy saving tips from the public. All this in addition to what we can all do for Earth Hour on 31 March.
9 to 27 March 2012
Have an innovative energy efficiency tip to share? Submit your entry and the 5 brightest tips stand to win attractive prizes! First 100 entries receive a mystery gift!
Top Prize: Premium Sky Dining for two on the Singapore Flyer
2 Merit Prizes: A pair of tickets for the Singapore Sling Flight on the Singapore Flyer
2 Consolation Prizes: Chocolate Buffet for 2 at The Landing Point @ The Fullerton Bay Hotel
I Light Marina Bay & Energy Efficiency
By Ken Hickson, CEO of Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA)
Come 31 March 2012, all 31 featured artworks will be switched off for an hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm. The public are invited to participate in a Mass Light Catcher Creation workshop at The Lawn commencing from 6.00pm and a commemorative light-up. This will be followed by a free movie screening at the NESCAFE® PAssion Movie Night later that evening.
Besides participating in Earth Hour, the “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign – an energy efficiency effort initiated by the festival to encourage properties in and around Marina Bay to switch off non-essential lights and turn up air-conditioning temperatures – is projected to achieve energy savings of at least 200,000 kWh (kilowatt hours), more than four times the energy saved during the inaugural edition in 2010. This equates to saving 100 tonnes of carbon (CO2 equivalent), which is enough to generate electricity for 762 4-room HDB flats for the same period.
The “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign, with the support of Sustainability Sponsor PowerSeraya, has received the commitment of 47 properties to drive energy efficiency, which is close to a three-fold increase from the 16 buildings that took part two years ago.
Participating partners include Marina Bay Sands – a prime sponsor of the festival – The Esplanade, The Fullerton, along with 16 properties under the CDL group.
Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival continues to draw thousands of enlightened visitors to Singapore’s Marina Bay to see 31 spectacular lighting installations (continues to 1 April), but what they don’t see how little energy is used as the artists have incorporate smart LED lighting, alternative energy and recycled materials.
The energy efficiency campaign is designed to more than offset all the energy used by the 31 art light installations and associated power use in Asia’s first and only sustainable art light festival which runs from 9 March to 1 April.
As SASA is the sustainability consultant for the festival, we have called on the services of Adrian Bukmanis of Power Save Solutions to meter the art installations to see how much energy each one was using.
Calculations done by Adrian and backed up by information provided by the artists, indicates that total estimated energy use by all the 31 installations for the three week festival period (24 days/nights) is expected to amount to no more than a total of 10,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) . This is expected to be offset 20 times over by the energy saved by the 47 buildings participating in the “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign.
The campaign has also successfully extended its reach well beyond the Marina Bay precinct, with buildings across the island pledging their support. In addition, some buildings, which took part last time, have agreed to undertake additional energy efficiency measures and would encourage their tenants to do likewise.
For the 2010 lighting festival, City Developments Limited (CDL) involved four of its properties. It has taken the initiative this year to step up its commitment to introduce a total of 16 of its Singapore buildings into the “Switch Off, Turn Up” Campaign. Already a sustainability leader at home, CDL has made it for the third successive year onto the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations Listing, ranking at 62nd for 2012.
Here’s three good clean energy news items: 1. A NZ$1.6 billion wind farm– New Zealand’s largest – is to be built in Wairarapa with 286 turbines, enough to provide power for up to 370,000 homes; 2. Hitachi Zosen Corporation will bring to the market its floating wave-activated power generation plant in 2015, ideal for wherever there constant waves of 1.5 meters or more; 3. Skyscrapers could one day generate enough power to offset much of their energy consumption, thanks to a breakthrough by Australian researchers who have moved a step closer to creating solar-cell windows.
From Dominion Post, New Zealand (20 March 2012):
A $1.6 billion wind farm – the country’s largest – has been given the likely go-ahead to be built in Wairarapa.
Genesis Energy’s Castle Hill Wind Farm will dot hillsides throughout northern Wairarapa with up to 286 turbines and provide power for up to 370,000 homes.
As presently planned, the turbines would stand up to 155 metres high. But while consent is to be granted for the project, details of that consent have yet to be announced, and the company may decide not to go ahead.
A preliminary decision will be issued on March 30, with a final decision due two to four weeks after a closing statement from Genesis.
The height and number of turbines is likely to come down.
Resource hearing chairman Philip Milne said in a minute that Genesis had not properly assessed the effects on amenity values, and ”further mitigation is practicable and required”.
That will include restrictions to the scale and density of turbines, the details of which are yet to be announced.
A Genesis spokesman acknowledged the company had received the statement.
Last month, Genesis chief executive Albert Brantley said irrespective of the resource consent process the company was unlikely to build any new generation projects for years, and when it did there was no guarantee the next project would be Castle Hill.
The wind farm site is located in a remote, sparsely populated area, which includes the settlements of Tinui, Pongaroa, Alfredton, Makuri, Tiraumea and Bideford.
By Denki Shimbun (16 March 2012):
Hitachi Zosen Corporation will bring to the market its floating wave-activated power generation plant in fiscal 2015. The company plans to further pursue its research and development to explore ways to reduce the power generating cost and release the product onto the market by early fiscal 2015. The plant will be sold mainly in a set of five units joined together, with each unit having an output of 100 kW for sale in the domestic market and 200 kW for overseas markets. The company aims to sell about 400 units by the end of fiscal 2020.
The wave-activated power plant of Hitachi Zosen has been designed based on the gyroscopic wave-activated power generating system developed by Kobe University’s emeritus professor Hiroshi Kanki and other researchers. The system uses a physical law known as gyroscopic precession, where a force applied to tilt a disk rapidly rotating in the horizontal direction causes the rotational axis to become vertical while the horizontal rotation is maintained.
Many wave-activated power generators developed by other companies are designed to rotate turbines by using the vertical movements of the waves to create airflow. However, a drawback to this type of systems is that they require large equipment. On the other hand, the gyroscopic system offers an advantage by allowing the use of more lightweight and compact equipment.
Hitachi Zosen intends to expand its plant sales from within Japan to overseas markets in regions where constant waves of 1.5 meters or more can be expected all year round, including Southeast Asian island nations as well as Europe and Australia.
By Justin Norrie on 21 March 2012
Skyscrapers could one day generate enough power to offset much of their energy consumption, thanks to a breakthrough by Australian researchers who have moved a step closer to creating solar-cell windows.
For his recently completed PhD, Mark Bissett, from Flinders University’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, has developed a solar cell using transparent carbon nanotubes that can be sprayed onto windows.
Carbon nanotubes are cheaper and more efficient than their energy-sapping, silicon-based solar cells, Dr Bissett said. The nanotubes can be applied to windows without blocking light, and are also flexible enough to be weaved into a range of materials.
But the technology was 10 years away from becoming a commercial reality, Dr Bissett said.
While the amount of power generated by solar windows would not be enough to completely offset the energy consumption of a standard office building, Dr Bissett said they still had many financial and environmental advantages.
“In a new building, or one where the windows are being replaced anyway, adding transparent solar cells to the glass would be a relatively small cost since the cost of the glass, frames and installation would be the same with or without the solar component,” Dr Bissett said.
A solar cell is created by taking two sheets of electrically conductive glass and sandwiching a layer of functionalised single-walled carbon nanotubes between the glass sheets, he said.
“When light shines on the cell, electrons are generated within the carbon nanotubes and these can be used to power electrical devices.”
At present, solar power is the most expensive type of renewable energy, Dr Bissett said. “The silicon solar cells we see on peoples’ roofs are very expensive to produce and they also use a lot of electricity to purify.”
But Andrew Blakers, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems at Australian National University, said most commercial cells were now “16-18% [efficient]. The record is 25%, SunPower makes 23% cells in large volume.”
Silicon cells typically took two to three years to repay their energy investment, and the time frame was falling as the cells became thinner, he said.
The cost of solar cells had “declined by a factor of three since 2007,” Dr Blakers said. “[Solar-generated] electricity is now in the 10-15 cents per kilowatt-hour range for large systems and about 20 cents per kilowatt-hour for small systems – highly competitive with retail tariffs … and knocking on the door to competitiveness with wholesale electricity from new gas fired power stations, with gas at world parity prices.”
Justin Norrie is an editor at The Conversation.
A United Nations report warns that water problems in many parts of the world are chronic and will worsen as demand for food soars and climate change intensifies. It called for an immediate crackdown on water waste, pointing to Singapore’s water pricing strategy and practice of recycling waste water as examples of how the problem could be tackled. In Australia, the SkyJuice Foundation together with The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull launched on World Water Day the first compact water filtration unit “SKYBOX”, dubbed as today’s modern answer to providing the developing world with access to clean and inexpensive water, developed with Siemens technology.
Himaya Quasem Straits Times (13 March 2012):
A MAJOR United Nations report on global water supplies has called for more realistic pricing to discourage waste, a strategy for which it singles out Singapore for praise.
The report, released yesterday, warned that water problems in many parts of the world are chronic and will worsen as demand for food soars and climate change intensifies.
It called for an immediate crackdown on water waste, pointing to Singapore’s water pricing strategy and practice of recycling waste water as examples of how the problem could be tackled.
‘While most cities would refrain from using treated waste water as a source of drinking water, this avenue is also available and has been implemented, for example, in water-scarce Singapore and the International Space Station, without ill effects.
‘Consequently, it is recommended that municipalities affected by water scarcity should move aggressively towards the use of reclaimed water,’ the report said.
The report’s lead author Richard Connor, of the UN’s World Water Assessment Programme, also said researchers were impressed by Singapore’s ‘flexible’ approach.
Singapore’s public awareness campaigns urging people to save water, combined with tariffs that charge households based on the amount of water used and taxes that penalise those who waste water, had been effective, he said.
‘There is no magic bullet to deal with this complex problem. What is often needed is a flexible approach that suits each municipality,’ Mr Connor told The Straits Times. ‘But Singapore’s approach should definitely be considered by other countries facing similar challenges.’
Pricing, conservation and recycling are three key elements of Singapore’s strategy.
The national water agency PUB has a tiered tariff that charges heavy users of water a higher rate. It also imposes a water conservation tax which is calculated as a percentage of total water consumption.
In addition, the PUB charges a sanitary appliance fee and waterborne fee every month. Both are used to offset the cost of treating used water and for the operation and maintenance of the public sewer system.
Through its water conservation programme, PUB has managed to cut Singapore’s per capita domestic water consumption from 165 litres a day in 2003 to 154 litres a day last year. The aim is to lower this to 147 litres a day by 2020 and 140 litres a day by 2030.
The Republic is also on track to achieve water self-sufficiency by 2061. By then, Newater and desalinated water will contribute 80 per cent of Singapore’s water needs, up from 40 per cent now. The remaining 20 per cent will come from local catchment areas.
Last year, work started in Tuas on the country’s second desalination plant. The $890 million plant, which will begin operations next year, will triple the Republic’s water desalination capacity.
Currently, up to 60 per cent of Singapore’s water is provided for by local catchment areas and imports from Malaysia, with 10 per cent coming from sea water and 30 per cent from Newater.
The report, the UN’s fourth edition of the World Water Development Report, demanded an overhaul in the use of water, especially by curbing waste. Smarter irrigation, growing less thirsty crops and the use of ‘grey’, or used water, to flush toilets are among the options.
Dr Seetharam Kallidaikurichi Easwaran, visiting don and director of the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Water Policy, was listed among the contributors to the report.
Around the world, more than 2.5 billion people still need decent sanitation and nearly one in 10 has yet to gain access to ‘improved’ drinking water, as defined under the UN’s 2015 development goals.
The massive 866-page report, issued every three years, was launched in Marseille, France yesterday, at the start of a six-day World Water Forum. It listed daunting challenges ahead.
Demand for food will increase by some 70 per cent by 2050, which will lead to a nearly 20 per cent increase in water usage for farming, it said
At the same time, water supply in many regions is likely to shrink because of changing rainfall patterns, more severe droughts, melting glaciers and altered river flows, it said.
‘Climate change will drastically affect food production in South Asia and Southern Africa between now and 2030,’ the report said. ‘By 2070, water stress will also be felt in central and southern Europe.’
Asia is home to 60 per cent of the world’s population but only around a third of water resources, it pointed out.
Without new policies to manage water use, more than 40 per cent of the world’s population will live in areas with high water stress by 2050, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which also published a report ahead of the Marseille conference.’We need to give water a price,’ Mr Xavier Leflaive, the report’s author, said. ‘Water tariffs are policy instruments that encourage more intelligent use.’
He added that governments have to act and in ‘a strong way’.
The World Water Forum gathers policymakers, big corporations and non-governmental organisations.
As many as 20,000 participants from 140 countries are expected for the six-day event, including scores of ministers for the environment and water, and a scattering of heads of state from West Africa.
Ministers attending the forum will issue a non-binding statement today affirming their awareness of the problems and intent to fix them.
The water forum is shunned by some environmentalists or development activists, who deride it as a trade fair lacking democracy and transparency.
An alternative forum is being staged elsewhere in Marseille by 2,000 members of civil society from Europe, the United States, Latin America and Africa.
From Sydney (22 March 2012)
SKYBOX and Siemens water technology bring clean water to the developing world
World Water Day, Parliament House, Canberra, Australia
The SkyJuice Foundation together with The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull launched on World Water Day the first compact water filtration unit “SKYBOX” dubbed as today’s modern answer to providing the developing world with access to clean and inexpensive water.
Developed with Siemens technology and featuring similar micro-filtration technology that exists in large scale desalination plants, the SKYBOX is priced at just A$365 – just $1 per day – and can provide clean drinking water to as many as 100 people.
Heading up the launch on World Water Day, Mr Rhett Butler, AM Chairman of the SkyJuice Foundation said;
“The SKYBOXES can produce approximately 300-500 litres of safe potable water per day which is enough to support 50-100 people everyday for three years, this realistically translates to less than a cent per person over the life of the SKYBOX” said Butler.
According to the World Health Organisation and the United Nations World Water Day over 800 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and over 2.5 million people die every year of water related diseases. Providing a solution to these worldwide problems could not come at a more opportune time than on the day that recognises the importance of water innovation – World Water Day.
“SkyJuice is sending these compact units to needy communities in east Africa. These communities will benefit incredibly by having access to a clean, secure and reliable water supply and most importantly the unit is sustainable using no chemicals, power or moving parts,”
“The sad reality is that 4000 children die every day as a direct result of water borne disease related to unsafe drinking water. Safe affordable drinking water is an ongoing global issue” added Butler.
Mr Turnbull will join SkyJuice today to officially launch the unit along with representatives of the SkyJuice Foundation Inc, a non profit organisation and the developers of the portable water unit. The SkyJuice Foundation of Australia have a long established history of water technology innovation and to date have installed over 1200 community based water units in 50 countries across the world.
The SKYBOX launch coincides with the Siemens Intelligent Water Networks event in Melbourne which brings together some of the country’s leading water innovators to help solve some of our greatest water challenges.
About the SkyJuice Foundation
The foundation is a recognised world leader in the provision of sustainable water solutions.
The SkyJuice™ Foundation’s undertaking is to advance the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation through stakeholder partnerships, delivering water and sanitation solutions that are sustainable, affordable and appropriate to communities in developing nations and for emergency and disaster relief.
The Foundation has a basic philosophy that developed economies and citizens can afford to assist citizens of the developing world. There is no defensible excuse to further delay the deployment of affordable, sustainable solutions. The SkyJuice™ Foundation has patented and jointly developed a range of technology based solutions that use low cost, low pressure membrane technology to produce large volumes of affordable water. SkyJuice™ solutions are reliable and validated to produce compliant potable water without chemicals.
What is unique about the Skybox and SkyJuice technology?
The unique simple device address some fundamental issues relating to potable water
a) It is proven technology and patented available only for humanitarian outcomes
b) It uses no energy, chemicals or contributes directly to green house gases
c) It is a sensible low cost and appropriate technology for Africa and developing nations
d) It is already adapted for community plants
e) This will target extended families and small villages.
f) The unit is light weight and portable and therefore has the potential for local production and local enterprise development (water vendors)
Microsoft has selected CarbonSystems Environmental Sustainability Platform software to meet its sustainability and environmental reporting needs, as its new global standard for carbon emission tracking and management for its 600 facilities in 110 countries. Meanwhile, Red Hill Studios, in collaboration with World View of Global Warming, announces the release a Climate Change iPad App that lets you explore how the world around you changes.
Paul Baier, GreenBiz.com (13 March 2012):
After an undoubtedly extensive evaluation, Microsoft has selected CarbonSystems software to meet its sustainability and environmental reporting needs.
This is an important win for CarbonSystems and illustrates that vendor leadership for sustainability software remains very much up for grabs. The deal also definitely puts to bed the notion that spreadsheets are sufficient to track sustainability data for large, global companies.
Microsoft selected CarbonSystems’ Environmental Sustainability Platform as its new global standard for carbon emission tracking and management for its 600 facilities in 110 countries. “Microsoft is committed to measuring, transparently reporting, and minimizing the carbon footprint of our operations.
“We view CarbonSystems as a key part of our effort to achieve Microsoft’s business and environmental sustainability goals,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft in a press release.
The choice of CarbonSystems over other, well-known sustainability software leaders such as CA Technologies, Credit360, Ecova, Enablon, Hara and PE International, SAP and others is impressive.
When we did our sustainability software analysis in the spring of 2011 (which GreenBiz resells), we named 10 early leaders, and CarbonSystems wasn’t among them.
This win catapults CarbonSystems forward: Selection by Microsoft means that many global companies will likely now consider CarbonSystem for their future sustainability tracking and managing needs.
Based in Australia, CarbonSystems has leveraged its Australian success to enter the market in the United States in the last several years. Other customers include AzkoNobel, Canon, Deloitte and FujiXerox.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s decision to invest in supported, enterprise software instead of using spreadsheets dramatically and decisively ends the debate about whether spreadsheets are sufficient for tracking sustainability data for large companies.
In an article back in July, I argued that it was time to give up spreadsheets for tracking carbon emissions at large companies. Technical purists disagreed, writing emails and posts that hailed the merits of spreadsheets and newer capabilities of Microsoft’s Sharepoint.
If the world-leading developer of spreadsheets and portal software decides that spreadsheets don’t make sense for tracking and reporting sustainability data, then the argument is over.
Since Microsoft has stopped using spreadsheets to track and report emissions, so should all other large companies.
Congratulations to CarbonSystems.
Paul Baier is vice president of sustainability consulting at Groom Energy and a senior contributor at GreenBiz.com.
SAN FRANCISCO, (15 March 2012):
Red Hill Studios, in collaboration with World View of Global Warming, announces the release of Painting with Time: Climate Change, the second in a series of remarkable time painting iPad Apps, that lets you explore how the world around you changes over time.
Brought to you by the creators of the Painting with Time app and Exploring Time international documentary series (www.exploringtime.org), the Painting with Time: Climate Change App (PWT Climate in the App store) lets your fingers reveal how global warming is rapidly changing our world.
Explore how glaciers have drastically retreated in numerous places around the world.
Discover where rising temperatures are contributing to floods and droughts.
Examine the ways that climate change is disrupting the timing of natural events such as flower buds opening.
“It’s very hard for people to really appreciate long term events – our brains are not wired that way,” notes Red Hill Studios Creative Director Bob Hone. “This ‘temporal myopia’ has helped us ignore our impacts on the planet. Fortunately, with digital imagery and high tech satellites, we can extend our time perception to visualize the long term effects of climate change.”
Programmed and co-designed by Red Hill Senior Engineer Charlie Brown, PWT Climate provides a range of time brushes and special time slicers that let you manipulate photographic sequences in powerful new ways.
- 17 time sequences showing striking visual impacts of climate change
- Painting Time and Slicing Time manipulation modes
- Eight preset brushes and slicing patterns
- Capturing Change step-by-step tutorial
Distinguished climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University served as content consultant on the App. Dr. Hayhoe shared in the Nobel Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. Dr. Todd Sanford, climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, also served as a scientific consultant on the project.
Gary Braasch, creator and photographer of the World View of Global Warming web site (www.worldviewofglobalwarming.org), led the image research that scoured the global for striking visual examples of how climate change is altering the planet. “From grade school assemblies to political conferences, I’ve seen how time-series photos of changes to glaciers, coastlines and habitats really can show the effects of rapid climate change. Now people can experience the transformation of our planet much more directly and tactilely.”
“With today’s digital cameras, everyone can help chronicle the transformations underway due to climate change,” Hone comments. “This visual evidence may help people understand their impact and begin to change the way they live and use energy. Together with new advances in alternative energy production and conservation, these combined efforts may help stem the rising tide. Rapid climate change is upon us. How we rise to this challenge will define our place in history … and the history of our planet.”
Red Hill Studios is an award-winning transmedia design company that creates online science games and Apps, interactive games for health, and immersive museum exhibitions. It also conducts research into new educational and health gaming paradigms. Red Hill Studios is based in San Rafael, CA.
Gary Braasch is a leading environmental photojournalist who creates images and reports about nature, environment, biodiversity and climate change around the world. His documentary and educational project World View of Global Warming is in its 12th year.
Painting with Time: Climate Change is an extension of the Exploring Time documentary series and web site, which was supported by a generous grant from the Informal Science Education program at the National Science Foundation.
WWF counts emissions from goods that a country imports as attributed to that country. But in the United Nations’ methodology, adopted by Singapore, those emissions are attributed to the country producing those goods. There’s the rub. What’s more, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Asian Green City Index last year assessed Singapore as Asia’s greenest metropolis which ranked “well above average” for its policies on energy and carbon emissions.
TODAY newspaper on (14 March 2012):
Singapore – The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) has responded to environmental group World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) findings that the Republic has the largest carbon footprint per capita in the Asia-Pacific.
The NCCS issued its response to “provide a better understanding of the facts” and took issue with the WWF citing Singapore as “a society that may be one of the best examples of what we should not do” – a statement which “seriously misrepresents the situation”, said the NCCS.
The secretariat cited how the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Asian Green City Index last year had assessed Singapore as Asia’s greenest metropolis and said Singapore ranked “well above average” for its policies on energy and carbon emissions.
The EIU study found that Singapore used three megajoules of energy to generate US$1 (S$1.30) of gross domestic product (GDP) – half the Index’s average of six megajoules. The Index had examined the environmental performance of 22 Asian cities in eight categories including environmental governance, air quality, energy and carbon dioxide emissions.
The NCCS also noted that the methodology used by the WWF in its upcoming Asia Footprint Report differs from that of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The latter attributes emissions from goods to the country where they are produced, while WWF attributes carbon emissions from the goods to the importing country.
Based on the UNFCCC’s method, Singapore ranked below countries such as Brunei, Australia and South Korea in terms of per capita emissions, said the NCCS.
Even so, the NCCS noted “inherent limitations” in the use of per capita indicators to measure carbon emissions. “Carbon emissions per capita as a measure disadvantages countries with small populations,” it said.
This is so for Singapore due to its small land area, with no readily available alternative energy sources.
Singapore ranks favourably when it comes to energy intensity, the NCCS also pointed out.
Its carbon-dioxide emissions per dollar or GDP is among “the lowest internationally” – or 123 out of 137 countries, based on data from the International Energy Agency.
“Singapore will strive to be an even more environmentally green city, even given our inherent limitations as an island state,” the NCCS said.
Last Monday, the WWF had revealed that Singapore topped the list of carbon emitters per capita in the Asia-Pacific, saying its high GDP per capita fuelled consumption habits and citing the corporate sector and construction industry as a significant contributor.
Exact carbon emission levels of various countries will be revealed when its Asia Footprint Report is out in June.
By Grace Chua, The Straits Times ( 18 March 2012):.
Your carbon emissions are still too high but, hey, Singapore is doing a great job when it comes to energy efficiency and others can learn from you.
That seems to be the ‘yes, but…’ response from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), in the wake of a rebuttal by Singapore’s National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) to scathing remarks about the Republic’s greening efforts.
Earlier this month, media reports said that the WWF’s Living Planet Report (2010) had named Singapore as having the highest per capita carbon footprint in the Asia-Pacific region.
WWF President Yolada Kakabadse had called Singapore ‘…maybe one of the best examples of what we should not do’.
Last week, the NCCS – which comes under the Prime Minister’s Office – responded sharply, saying the comment ‘seriously misrepresents the situation’.
The key bone of contention is the methodology. The WWF counts emissions from goods that a country imports as attributed to that country.
But in the United Nations’ methodology, adopted by Singapore, those emissions are attributed to the country producing those goods.
The NCCS also pointed out that ranking countries by per capita carbon emissions disadvantages countries with small populations, and does not reflect Singapore’s lack of alternative energy sources.
In the WWF statement put out on Friday, its Singapore chief executive Elaine Tan said: ‘Singapore deserves recognition for the many achievements it has made in reducing its carbon footprint, particularly in energy efficiency.
‘But in terms of carbon emissions per capita, the country can do more. So WWF welcomes the opportunity to work with the people, private and public sectors, to reduce the burden our current lifestyles are placing on the planet.’
On WWF’s methodology, she said: ‘Consumption activities are the primary drivers of environmental pressure but production activities are easier to regulate. Therefore both are important.
‘However, if you want to understand the environmental impact a high-consumption lifestyle has on a particular place, then you need to look at the final destination.’
National University of Singapore geography associate professor Victor Savage, who studies sustainable development, agreed with the NCCS’ point about ‘per capita’ distortions.
He said using per capita emissions ratings lets large carbon emitters like China, Germany and Australia off the hook. They may not have high per capita emissions, but they are large overall emitters.
But he added that a high per capita emissions ranking can help governments broach the issue with its citizens. ‘You can say, ‘Your per capita usage of energy is so high; we need to do something.”
Singapore’s performance in environmental rankings has varied sharply by the methods and measures used.
In February, a University of British Columbia study ranked the Republic bottom of 150 countries in its ‘ecological deficits’, meaning it used far more of the earth’s resources than it could supply.
In response to that study, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said Singapore should be compared with other city-states, not larger nations with more natural resources.
The Asian Green City Index by technology firm Siemens last year rated Singapore tops in its management of waste and water resources, and gave it high marks in sanitation and environmental governance.
Climate-related disasters have displaced more than 42 million people in Asia over the past two years, the Asian Development Bank said in a report, calling for swift action to avert future crises. Asia and the Pacific is the global area most prone to natural disasters, both in terms of the absolute number of disasters and of populations affected.
Channel News Asia (13 March 2012):
BANGKOK: Climate-related disasters have displaced more than 42 million people in Asia over the past two years, the Asian Development Bank in a report calling for swift action to avert future crises.
“Asia and the Pacific is the global area most prone to natural disasters, both in terms of the absolute number of disasters and of populations affected,” said the report launched in Bangkok, which was itself affected by flooding last year.
About 31.8 million people in the region were displaced by climate-related disasters and extreme weather in 2010 — a particularly bad year — including more than 10 million in Pakistan owing to massive flooding.
A further 10.7 million were forced to flee their homes last year, it said, warning that such events will become more frequent with climate change.
“While many of those displaced returned to their homes as conditions improved, others were less fortunate, struggling to build new lives elsewhere after incurring substantial personal losses,” ADB vice president Bindu Lohani said in a foreword to the report, released at an Asian climate forum.
The bank says Asia has six of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change, with Bangladesh and India in the top two places on a list that also includes Nepal, the Philippines, Afghanistan and Myanmar.
“The environment is becoming a significant driver of migration in Asia and the Pacific as the population grows in vulnerable areas, such as low-lying coastal zones and eroding river banks,” Lohani said in a separate statement.
“Governments should not wait to act. By taking steps now, they can reduce vulnerability, strengthen resiliency, and use migration as an adaptation tool rather than let it become an act of desperation.”
The report, titled Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific, said governments in disaster-prone Asia-Pacific countries must enact a range of measures to stave off future crises.
Among other things, it recommended greater investment in urban infrastructure and basic services to accommodate the anticipated increase in migrant flows to the region’s megacities.
“By taking actions today, governments can reduce the likelihood of future humanitarian crises and maximise the possibilities that people can remain in their communities or — should deteriorating environmental conditions make that impractical — that they have the real option to relocate to a more secure place with livelihood options,” it said.
The ADB says the Asia-Pacific region needs to spend about $40 billion a year through 2050 to “climate proof” against the impact of global warming.