Archive for the ‘Express 108’ Category

US Aims to Reduce Emissions: 17% by 2020 & 80% by 2050

Posted by admin on May 14, 2010
Posted under Express 108

US Aims to Reduce Emissions: 17% by 2020 & 80% by 2050

President Barack Obama, endorsing the Kerry-Lieberman proposed Climate Change Bill, introduced this week, urged action in Congress. “Now is the time for America to take control of our energy future and jump-start American innovation in clean energy technology that will allow us to create jobs, compete, and win in the global economy.”

By Katie Brandenburg for Houston Chronicle (12 May 2010):

WASHINGTON—Senators Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and John Kerry, D-Mass., unveiled their long-delayed climate change bill this week and immediately encountered liberal and conservative critics who said the measure was either an energy bailout or a danger to the American economy.

The core of the proposal aimed at global warming would require 7,500 domestic factories and power plants to meet reduced emission targets. The sponsors said their aim was to reduce 2005 levels of carbon pollution by 17 percent in 2020 and by more than 80 percent in 2050.

Kerry hopes it will pass in this congressional session.

“Those who’ve spent years stalling need to understand something: Killing a Senate bill is not the measure of success or victory, because if Congress can’t legislate a solution, the EPA will regulate one,” Kerry said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “And it will come without the help to America’s businesses and consumers that is in this bill.”

President Barack Obama, endorsing the Kerry-Lieberman proposal, urged action in Congress. “Now is the time for America to take control of our energy future and jump-start American innovation in clean energy technology that will allow us to create jobs, compete, and win in the global economy,” he said.

The senators’ bill differs dramatically from House-approved climate-change legislation that would impose an economy-wide “cap-and-trade” program forcing manufacturers, utilities and other polluters to purchase emission allowances in order to comply with tighter limits on carbon dioxide.

The bill would also:

• • Encourage states to allow offshore oil drilling with plans for revenue sharing that would allocate 37.5 percent of revenues from drilling going to states and 12.5 percent going to state and federal programs under the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It would also allow a state to bar drilling within 75 miles of its coastline.

• • Prevent states from implementing or enforcing their own “cap-and-trade” programs.

• • Create a program to help low-income families pay higher energy costs brought on by the bill.

• • Invest more than $6 billion a year to improve transportation and highways on the theory that it will increase the travel efficiency and decrease emissions.

Marvin Fertel, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute said drafting of the bill was a “very collaborative, very open, very involved process.”

Some energy companies, including Shell and ConocoPhillips, issued statements supporting the bill, while representatives from the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Wildlife Federation attended the bill rollout to support the legislation.

But the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association criticized the measure and contended that it would lead to steep increases in energy bills for families and businesses.

Phil Radford, the executive director of Greenpeace, criticized the measure for encouraging offshore drilling and called it “largely a dirty energy bailout bill.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., had originally signed on with Kerry and Lieberman to write a Senate bill but quit the effort last week. He said he was irked that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, wanted to place immigration reform ahead of climate change on the Senate calendar.

In a statement Wednesday, Graham signaled cautious approval of the measure.


Go Ahead for Algae/Aviation Fuel Research & New National Carbon Neutral Program

Posted by admin on May 14, 2010
Posted under Express 108

Go Ahead for Algae/Aviation Fuel Research & New National Carbon Neutral Program

A University of Queensland-led global consortium which aims to produce environmentally friendly aviation fuel from algae is one of four research projects awarded a total A$6.48 million in State Government funding this week. And we clarify the new Federal Government policy with its National Carbon Offset Carbon Neutral Program.

In reference to last week’s article on voluntary offsetting, here’s the latest word from Government:

“It is still the Australian Government’s policy that Greenhouse Friendly will finish on 1 July 2010. The National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) will come into effect on 1 July 2010.   

“The NCOS Carbon Neutral Program, due to commence on 1 July 2010, will enable organisations or products to be certified as carbon neutral under the conditions set out in the NCOS. Upon certification as carbon neutral, organisations will enter into an agreement with the Program Administrator allowing them to use the NCOS Carbon Neutral logo, similar to the current Greenhouse Friendly logo.

“The NCOS Q&A for business page on our website may also be of assistance:

This from Julian Henschke, Acting Assistant Director | Offsets and Voluntary Action Policy,Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Canberra.

UQ Reports:

UQ wins $6.5 million for groundbreaking research projects

A UNIVERSITY of Queensland-led global consortium that aims to produce environmentally friendly aviation fuel from algae is one of four UQ research projects awarded a total $6.48 million in State Government funding this week.

The grant means UQ’s St Lucia campus will become the base for world-first avgas research, which has Boeing,National and International Research Alliances Program. Funding is going to two of UQ’s algae-sourced biofuel projects, and two medical projects – one on dengue fever, and one on repairing spinal cord damage.

The UQ projects receiving funding are:

• $2 million for Professor Lars Nielsen’s Queensland Sustainable Aviation Fuel Initiative, which aims to create avgas from algae, in work being done at UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

• $1.48 million for Associate Professor Ben Hankamer’s research into high-efficiency microalgal biofuel systems that aims to produce a range of biofuels through “photo-bioreactors”.

Premier Anna Bligh said the avgas project offered huge environmental benefits and funding meant the consortium would locate its globally significant research in Brisbane.

“Queensland is set to become the home for cleaner, greener, renewable jet fuel,” she said.

Aviation accounted for two per cent of global greenhouse emissions and this could grow to three per cent without further action.

“We’re leading the way on aviation biofuels research,” Ms Bligh said. “With a growing focus on making our skies greener, this is big business and good for jobs and the environment.”

Professor Nielsen said biofuel that was safe to use and could be produced sustainably in quantities that could feed jets’ enormous appetites was the holy grail of the global aviation industry.

It also needed to be cheap — if not cheaper to produce — than fossil fuels.

Professor Nielsen said 18,000 aircraft were in operation globally, and another 25,000 were due to enter service within 20 years.

Local partners in the avgas project include Mackay Sugar, Brisbane-based IOR Energy, James Cook University and Queensland’s Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

Dr Hankamer said the $1.48 million NIRAP funding to the Institute for Molecular Bioscience would help develop biodiesel, methane and hydrogen from low-cost, high productivity microalgal photo-bioreactors.

“A photo-bioreactor is basically a sealed aquaculture system that brings in sunlight to provide the energy that algae need to grow,” he said.

Earlier research by the same team successfully increased green algae’s solar energy conversion efficiency and made production more efficient by refining growth conditions and photo-bioreactor design. It also studied how each strain of algae works best.

Dr Hankamer said the new funding would attract a further $2 million in industry and UQ support, enabling the researchers to launch a $3.5 million project to test the economic feasibility of scaled-up new-generation algal energy systems.

The consortium backing the project includes global engineering and construction company Kellogg Brown & Root Pty Ltd, Neste Oil Corp, Cement Australia Pty Ltd, North Queensland and Pacific Biodiesel Pty Ltd, the University of Karlsruhe, the University of Bielefeld and UQ.

Dr Hankamer said algae captured CO2 as it grew, which offered the potential for offsetting CO2 emissions.

“Algal bioreactors have the potential to assist Queensland in meeting its renewable energy and CO2 emissions reduction targets,” he said.

The deployment of algae-based systems also eliminated competition with agricultural crops.

“One of the big concerns about traditional biofuel crops is that arable land and fresh water are limited and are needed for food crops,” he said.

“In contrast, algal bioreactors can be located on non-arable land, essentially eliminating competition with food production. The fact that many strains of energy-producing algae can be grown in saline or waste water is an added benefit.”

The high capital costs and less-than-optimal yields of current bioreactors was a problem.

“This project will improve bioreactor design and improve the breeding of high-performance algae to minimise system costs and increase yields,” Dr Hankamer said.

“These improvements will assist the rapidly expanding ‘green jobs’ sector and contribute to the production of clean fuels, on a likely five to 10-year timescale.

“With its abundance of sunshine and land, Queensland is an ideal location to develop a biofuel and bio-commodity industry based on algae.”


Lucky Last: Climate change is the true crisis

Posted by admin on May 14, 2010
Posted under Express 108

Lucky Last: Climate change is the true crisis

Editorial in LA Times (10 May 2010):

West Virginia’s mining disaster and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were disastrous and investigations are justified, but the real threat is much worse.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: One deadly explosion while extracting fossil fuels may be regarded as a misfortune, but two within a month looks like carelessness. That’s the problem lawmakers are wrestling with amid hearings and federal investigations of the Upper Big Branch mine blast in West Virginia and the BP oil rig collapse in the Gulf of Mexico. We’re pleased to see that the reactive machinery is functioning, and confident that it will result in regulations to better protect miners and oil workers. But we can’t help thinking that our representatives are missing the signs of a far more destructive crisis in the making.

Coal and oil have more in common than a tendency to produce explosions when mistakes are made in the extraction process. Together, they account for the main reason the Earth’s climate is gradually changing. The deaths of 29 mine workers and 11 oil workers were tragic, and the economic consequences of the oil spill to the gulf’s fishing and tourism industries could be devastating, but they’re dwarfed by the deaths and financial losses that will come with global warming.

Climate change is a little like weight loss: When you’re on a diet, it’s hard to see the fat melting away day to day, but compare photos of yourself before and after losing 20 pounds and the difference is dramatic. Our political system functions well when it’s reacting to a discrete disaster such as a mine explosion, but a slow-motion catastrophe such as climate change doesn’t spur the same outrage because most people don’t see it happening until long after the damage is done.

Thus, we’re a little bemused by the conversion of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a former advocate of offshore oil drilling who has now changed his mind. Unmentioned by Crist or other Sunshine State politicians is that, even as Floridians fret about tar balls from the gulf spill showing up on their pristine white-sand beaches, those same beaches are going to vanish within half a century (along with much of Miami) under the worst-case scenarios presented by climate modelers. But voters can see tar balls; erosion is tougher to spot.

Congress and the Obama administration are wasting no time investigating the mining and drilling disasters. Meanwhile, a comprehensive climate bill is hopelessly stalled in the Senate, and its prospects of approval in an election year are dim. It’s no more likely to progress in 2011 either, because the Democratic majority is expected to shrink.

Lawmakers today aren’t seeing the forest for the trees; that will change when the forest has burned or been destroyed by bark beetles, but by then it will be too late.