Archive for the ‘Express 99’ Category

Energy efficiency, emissions & electric cars

Posted by admin on March 16, 2010
Posted under Express 99

Energy efficiency, emissions & electric cars

Energy efficiency gets a welcome boost this week with a study showing that this measure alone, if adopted by major businesses in Australia, could on its own account for a 5% national reduction in emissions. Can we put up our hand and say we told you so? Ecosave gets in the picture, as do clean energy electric vehicles in California and Japan. Glaciers are melting more than ever. That’s a fact. And reports by international scientists also confirm that climate change is happening faster than IPCC predictions, while the New Scientist gives us some more reasons to seriously accept the role we humble humans have played in all this. Emissions are a global tradable commodity but not in quite the way we expected, while US Energy Secretary tells us all to get our green technology and clean energy working harder and faster. Can we believe that coal power is going carbon neutral or that geothermal is praying for saintly blessings from above? We do know that the Pacific has become a plastic dumping ground and a clean up is overdue. Lucky last, the Sustainability Showcase gets underway in Queensland.
Ken Hickson

Profile: Steven Chu

Posted by admin on March 11, 2010
Posted under Express 99

Profile: Steven Chu
US Energy Secretary Steven Chu calls for sweeping action across both public and private sectors to revolutionise, diversify, and propagate green technology – at a pace commensurate with the severity of the impact that human energy consumption has already made on the global ecosystem.
Waving the banner of energy revolution: U.S. Secretary of Energy speaks on green technology and climate change
U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate and professor emeritus of Physics at Stanford, returned to campus Monday to speak about the role of clean energy in combating global climate change. A sustainable energy revolution, he said, is not only vital in mitigating climate change, but is a critical step in ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness.
BY AIMEE MILES for Stanford Report (8 March 2010):
Addressing an audience of students and faculty on Monday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu cited a few words of wisdom from legendary hockey player Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
To that versatile epigram added Chu: “We have to get people in the United States to skate where the world is going to be.” He was referring to the challenges facing the United States in mobilizing large-scale clean-energy initiatives in the face of not one, but two behemoths – profound and potentially irreversible climate change, and an increasingly competitive global economy.
Central to Chu’s discussion was the need for sweeping action across both public and private sectors to revolutionize, diversify, and propagate green technology – at a pace commensurate with the severity of the impact that human energy consumption has already made on the global ecosystem.
The United States has the opportunity to lead the world in a clean-energy industrial revolution, Steven Chu told the Stanford audience.
There are great uncertainties as to the outcome awaiting us if we continue business as usual by relying on a fossil-fuel-guzzling energy infrastructure to meet everyday needs, said Chu.
Much of the outcome will depend on the Earth’s response to an anticipated temperature increase of five or six degrees centigrade, an effect that won’t take hold for another 100 to 150 years, he said. That’s when the oceans, a vast storage sink for carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, are expected to reach capacity and begin expelling gases back into the air.
Chu tempered his prediction with a message that veered from the apocalyptic implications of the data looming on the projection screen behind him: There is reason for hope.
“America has the opportunity to lead the world in a new industrial revolution,” he said. “It’s a new industrial revolution that is to give us the energy we like and desire but in a much cleaner form.”
This new legacy of sustainable energy will include generating clean energy through solar and wind power, as China has done, said Chu. No less important is the need to reduce energy consumption through regulation of the commercial sector — by improving the efficiency of electric appliances, raising mileage standards for vehicles, and improving the efficiency of both residential and commercial buildings.
The implications of this energy overhaul are vast, and not just for mitigating climate change, Chu emphasized. He identified clean-energy development as an essential step in decreasing U.S. dependency on foreign oil, jump-starting job growth, and ensuring American economic competitiveness in the future.
Chu cited the Recovery Act, signed into law in February 2009, as a step in the right direction. The measure provides for an $80 billion down payment on developing a clean-energy economy, with $8 billion earmarked for energy-innovation research.
But with China investing $8 billion a month on renewable energy, said Chu, there is more to be done in both the public and private sectors. “If we hold off for another 10 years, we’ll fall behind the other countries,” he warned.
One thing is certain: “We have to get moving.”
Paving the way to a clean-energy future
If the path to a clean-energy future is paved with good intentions, where does the rubber hit the road?
Chu believes the idea will find its bayonets in the commercial sector, where sustainable energy development will prove to be a lucrative and fast-growing industry.
“The U.S. innovation machine is the greatest in the world,” said Chu. “When given the right incentives, [it] will respond.”
A large part of this response is resting on the legislative velocity of a divided Congress. Chu spoke of the need to pass a comprehensive energy bill that will require the energy sector to revamp its old infrastructure in order to meet more stringent regulations. Such a bill would “liberate financial markets” to loan the money required to make those expensive adjustments, setting a complex process of energy revolution into motion.
Chu highlighted Stanford’s role in pioneering research and commercial innovation that led to revolutionary new technologies in the second half of the 20th century. “Stanford University was … highly instrumental in the silicon semiconductor revolution, it was a major player in the biotech revolution, and I think it’s poised to be a major player in this green-energy revolution,” he said.
To an audience comprised mostly of Stanford students, Chu emphasized the importance of civic engagement and social action in mobilizing the clean-energy revolution.
“Humans are altering the destiny of the planet,” he concluded. “It’s not too late; we can minimize the alteration, or we can just plow on as usual … and if we plow on as usual … it could be very, very bad.”
Chu was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997 for cooling and trapping atoms with laser light. He is the Theodore and Frances Geballe professor of physics and applied physics, emeritus, at Stanford and directed the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory before being appointed by President Obama as the 12th Secretary of Energy.
His lecture was hosted by Stanford’s Green Alliance for Innovative Action, a student organization, and co-sponsored by the Woods Institute for the Environment.

Scientists Say The Situation Is Getting Worse

Posted by admin on March 11, 2010
Posted under Express 99

Scientists Say The Situation Is Getting Worse

As scepticism about climate change seems to be gaining traction around the world, a group of international scientists is hitting back. A new study shores up the facts and figures behind global warming. It not only updates the information of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but shows the situation is much worse. David Karoly speaks for the scientists.

Presenter: Di Bain for Radio Australia (8 March 2010):

Speaker: Professor David Karoly, Melbourne University

DAVID KAROLY: We started the analysis about 12 months ago but it’s, it’s a review of a range of different lines of evidence. So, all of the authors have been involved in research on understanding the causes of climate change, not just due to human activity but other factors, including land use change and the effects of changes in sunlight from the sun or volcanoes, and looking at all those possible influence in causes at global and regional climate change.

So, in some ways it’s an attempt to review the different lines of evidence and update the understanding of the causes of climate change from the IPCC assessment which concluded its, if you like, evaluation in 2007.

DI BAIN: What does this report do to debunk the growing scepticism about climate change?

DAVID KAROLY: Well, what this paper does is show that the evidence of human caused climate change is even stronger than it was in the IPCC assessment and it was already very strong in the IPCC assessment because the IPCC concluded that most of the warming in global average temperatures over the last 50 years, essentially the 50 years leading up to 2007 was very likely more than 90 per cent certain due to human activity.

And what our study has found is it is even more confident in terms of a human influence on global mean temperatures and we can also see a significant human influence from increases in greenhouse gases in warming in temperatures in all continents, at a regional scale in many different regions, in warming in the oceans, in reductions in arctic sea ice and in changes in rainfall patterns.

DI BAIN: How does the person who isn’t adept in the science know what figures to trust, especially after the recent IPCC errors and the climate change email scandal last year?

DAVID KAROLY: As far as I’m aware, there is only one error of substance in the IPCC assessments which was a mistake and has been admitted to in terms of the timing for the Asian glaciers, or Himalayan glaciers to disappear.

That’s been acknowledged as a mistake but that was not a key conclusion of the IPCC and there is still conclusive evidence that glaciers are retreating and have retreated over the last 100 years all around the world and there is clear evidence that human caused increases in temperatures regionally have contributed to that decline in glacier extent, or retreat of glaciers, all around the world.

So, I think there is still, well, no, I think, I know there is still convincing evidence that human activity is causing both global and regional warming in most parts of the world over the last 100 years.

DI BAIN: The climate change debate doesn’t appear to be the number one priority for Kevin Rudd anymore, are the sceptics winning the public debate in Australia?

DAVID KAROLY: Well, I think that there has been a range of misinformation being spread by media outlets because the climate change sceptics are spreading that misinformation.

I think that a range of scientific studies, such as this one, on the relationship between observed climate change and its causes, reaffirm the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


Outsourcing and Offsetting Emissions Through Global Trade

Posted by admin on March 11, 2010
Posted under Express 99

Outsourcing and Offsetting Emissions Through Global Trade
Scientists at the Carnegie Institution of Washington synthesized carbon emissions and trade patterns, finding that more than one-third of CO2 emissions related to the consumption of goods and services in developed countries are actually emitted outside their national borders. And rich nations are essentially outsourcing emissions to developing nations through global trade — by importing goods and services from abroad. Time Magazine has the story.
When Goods Get Traded, Who Pays for the CO2?
By Bryan Walsh in Time Magazine (9 March 2010):
Popularly, China is a villain in climate change. Many people who attended last year’s chaotic U.N. climate-change talks in Copenhagen — especially those who belonged to the U.S. delegation — singled out China as the main reason the summit nearly collapsed.
Chinese diplomats fought hard against any form of emissions regulation, even though their country is now the world’s No. 1 national carbon emitter, and will emit far more carbon in the future than any other.
In Washington, opponents of carbon cap-and-trade also point to China, which is unlikely to take on a carbon cap of its own, and wonder why the U.S. should have to restrain its emissions.
But a new study published in the March 8 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that the carbon equation isn’t as straightforward as we might think.
Scientists at the Carnegie Institution of Washington at Stanford University synthesized carbon emissions and trade patterns and found that more than one-third of CO2 emissions related to the consumption of goods and services in developed countries are actually emitted outside their national borders.
Rich nations are essentially outsourcing some of their carbon emissions to developing nations through global trade — by importing goods and services from abroad — thereby shrinking their carbon footprints while inflating those of major exporting nations like China.
“It’s surprising just how much this effect is driven by the U.S. and China,” says Steven Davis, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institution and the lead author of the PNAS paper. “It is significant.”
How significant? Davis and his co-author Ken Caldeira estimate that 23% of global CO2 emissions — about 6.2 billion metric tons — are traded internationally, usually going from carbon-intensive developing nations like China to the comparatively less carbon intensive West. In a few rich nations, such as France, Sweden and Britain, more than 30% of consumption-based emissions could be traced to origins abroad; if those emissions were tallied on the other side of the balance sheet, it would add more than four tons of CO2 per person in several European nations.
The effect in the U.S. is less extreme because the country exports more than Western Europe and because the U.S. economy has a higher carbon intensity — but it made a difference. Imports accounted for 10.8% of U.S. carbon emissions, enough to add an additional 2.4 metric tons of CO2 per person. China, of course, fell into the opposite camp: 22.5% of the carbon emitted in China is actually exported to other countries, reducing its per capita carbon footprint from 3.9 tons to 3 tons. (See pictures of the world’s most polluted places.)
Climate-change critics like Republican Senator James Inhofe may rail against China, but the PNAS paper shows that while Beijing may be leading the world in carbon emissions, that output is in large part due to the fact that it is using energy to make clothes, cars and toys for the rest of us. It also demonstrates that Europe — whose per capita carbon footprint is less than half that of the U.S. — essentially imports some of its green virtue from abroad by outsourcing its carbon emissions. “It does shrink the gap somewhat between the U.S. and Europe,” says Davis. (Comment on this story.)
But the real implications of the new paper could come in international climate policy. The U.N. system is built around the idea of capping carbon emissions from individual nations. But which country is responsible for the carbon emitted in global trade? The buyer or the seller? The study demonstrates that carbon leakage — emissions moving from relatively green countries like France or Germany to more carbon-intensive ones like Russia or China — is already occurring. The question is whether the leakage will accelerate if, for instance, developed nations institute tough carbon caps and drive out carbon-intensive industries, which will set up in uncapped developing nations — as cap-and-trade opponents allege. Or has any leakage that will occur already occurred? If industry hasn’t already been outsourced from developed nations due to their higher labor costs and other disadvantages, a carbon cap may not make a difference. “The study definitely cuts both ways,” says Davis. (See TIME’s special report on the environment.)
What’s clear is that for all the blame being put on major developing countries for failing to take on carbon regulations, climate change is still chiefly the responsibility of rich nations. We emitted most of the man-made CO2 currently warming the planet, and even today, thanks to trade, we are still responsible for the majority of new carbon emissions. As Davis and Caldeira write, “Consumption-based accounting of emissions provides grounding for ethical arguments that the most developed countries — as the primary beneficiaries of emissions and with greater ability to pay — should lead the global mitigation effort.” That’s hard to argue with.

The Evidence For Rapid Glacial Melting Is Overwhelming

Posted by admin on March 11, 2010
Posted under Express 99

The Evidence For Rapid Glacial Melting Is Overwhelming
The world has become far too hot for the aptly named Exit Glacier in Alaska. Like many low-altitude glaciers, it’s steadily melting, shrinking two miles over the past 200 years as it tries to strike a new balance with rising temperatures. Park managers have learned to follow the glaciers, moving signs and paths to accommodate the ephemeral rivers of blue and white ice as they retreat up deeply carved valleys.
By David Fogarty and Yereth Rosen for Reuters World Environment News:
The world has become far too hot for the aptly named Exit Glacier in Alaska.
Like many low-altitude glaciers, it’s steadily melting, shrinking two miles over the past 200 years as it tries to strike a new balance with rising temperatures.
At the Kenai Fjords National Park south of Anchorage, managers have learned to follow the Exit and other glaciers, moving signs and paths to accommodate the ephemeral rivers of blue and white ice as they retreat up deeply carved valleys.
“Some of the stuff is changing fast enough that we now have signs on moving pedestals,” said Fritz Klasner, natural resource specialist at Kenai Fjords.
The vast amounts of water stored in glaciers play crucial roles in river flows, hydropower generation and agricultural production, contributing to steady run-off for Ganges, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus rivers in Asia and elsewhere.
But many are melting rapidly, with the pace picking up over the past decade, giving glaciers a central role in the debate over causes and impacts of climate change.
That role has come even more sharply into focus after recent attacks on the U.N.’s climate panel, which included a wrong estimate for the pace of melting for Himalayan glaciers in a major 2007 report.
The report said Himalayan glaciers could all melt by 2035, an apparent typographical error that stemmed from using literature not published in a scientific journal. Climate skeptics seized on the error and used it to question the panel’s findings on climate change.
The evidence for rapid glacial melting, though, is overwhelming.
The problem is no one knows exactly what’s occurring in the more remote Himalayas and parts of the Andes. Far better measurements are crucial to really understand the threat to millions of people downstream.
“There is no serious information on the state of the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayan-Tibetan complex,” Kurt Lambeck, President of the Australian Academy of Science, told a climate science media briefing in late February.
The high altitude and remoteness of many glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes is the main reason.
To try to fill the gap, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last month the government would establish a National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology in Dehra Dun in the north.
In Europe and North America, glaciers are generally more accessible and there are more trained people to study them.
Switzerland’s Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps, has been retreating for about 150 years.
But the glacier, which feeds the River Rhone, still stores an estimated 27 billion tonnes of ice, according to That’s about 12 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
In 2008, a total of 79 Swiss glaciers were in retreat, while 5 were advancing, the Swiss Glacier Monitoring network says.
“There are a very small number of glaciers that are monitored,” said veteran glaciologist Ian Allison, pointing to less than 100 globally for which there are regular “mass-balance” measurements that reflect how much a glacier grows or shrinks from one year to the next.
Such measurements are the benchmark and several decades of data is regarded as the best way to build up an accurate picture of what’s happening to a glacier.
Glaciers originate on land and represent a sizeable accumulation of snow and ice over the years. They tend to carve their way through valleys as more and more ice accumulates until the point where more is lost through melting than is gained.
“We probably know less about the total volume of glaciers than we do about how much ice there is in the big ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic because a lot of it is in small mass areas and a lot of it is inaccessible,” said Allison, leader of the Australian Antarctic Division’s ice, ocean, atmosphere and climate program.
The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Switzerland analyses mass balance data for just over 90 glaciers and says their average mass balance continues to decrease.
Since 1980, cumulative thickness loss of the reference glacier group is about 12 meters of water equivalent, it says in its latest 2007/08 report.
Estimates vary but glaciers and mountain caps could contribute about 70 cm (2.3 feet) to global sea levels, a 2009 report authored by Allison and other leading scientists says.
The “Copenhagen Diagnosis” report from the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales says there is widespread evidence of more rapid melting of glaciers and ice-caps since the mid-1990s.
That means run-off from melting glaciers and ice-caps is raising sea levels by 1.2 millimeters a year, translating to up to 55 cm (1.8 feet) by 2100 if global warming accelerates.
In Nepal, the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development says “mass-balance” measurements would provide direct and immediate evidence of glacier volume increase or decrease.
“But there are still no systematic measurements of glacial mass balance in the region although there are promising signs that this is changing,” the center said in a recent notice.
It said that based on studies, the majority of glaciers in the region are in a general condition of retreat.
“Small glaciers below 5,000 meters (16,500 feet) above sea level will probably disappear by the end of the century, whereas larger glaciers well above this level will still exist but be smaller,” it said.
Glaciers have almost vanished from New Guinea island and in Africa and many on Greenland, the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica are also melting quickly, dumping large amounts of ice into the sea.
Part of the problem is that glaciers are fickle things to measure, said Allison, and requires legwork and lots of bamboo stakes. These are placed in holes top to bottom, a potentially dangerous job, although satellites and lasers fitted to aircraft are changing this.
After a year or so, stakes placed up high will have had snow build up on them, so you can estimate how much snow fell there.
Those down low will have lost mass due to melt and evaporation, so there would be more of the canes sticking out.
“So you can measure how much height is lowered down below, how much it’s gained up top. You’ll need to know the density of the snow and ice as well,” Allison said.
But he said glaciers in one region can all apparently behave differently in response to the same climate signal. “Because the fluctuations that occur in the front depend on how long it takes to transfer the mass from the top of the glacier to the bottom.”
“You might have an area where all the small glaciers are all rapidly retreating but big glaciers still coming forward because they are still integrating changes that happened maybe 50 years ago,” he added.
For the millions that live downstream, it is the impacts that are of most concern and among them is the threat of sudden bursting of lakes created as glaciers retreat.
About 14 of the estimated 3,200 glaciers in Nepal are at risk of bursting their dams.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, from Khumjung village in the shadows of Mount Everest, said the Imja glacial lake could burst its dam anytime and wash away villages.
“When I was a child I used to take our yaks and mountain goats for grazing on grassy flat land overlooking Everest,” Sherpa said.
“What was a grazing ground for yaks in 1960 has now turned into the Imja due to melting of snow,” Sherpa, now a trekking and climbing entrepreneur, said in Kathmandu.
A glacial lake broke its dam 25 years ago destroying trekking trails, bridges and a hydroelectric plant in the region. Neighbouring Bhutan also faces the threat of bursting dams.
Just how much water melting glaciers contribute to major rivers such as the Ganges and Brahmaputra, though, remains unknown.
Richard Armstrong, a senior scientist of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, said it was nonsense to think that if glaciers melted there would be no water in the Ganges, a lifeline for millions in northern India.
“Even if the glaciers disappeared tomorrow it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the water supply. The rest of the river flow comes from rain and melting seasonal snow.”
He said the center has put in a proposal to NASA to use satellite data to build a better picture of the area and altitude of glaciers in the Himalayas.
“What we want to look at is what’s the contribution of melting glacier ice to the downstream hydrology,” Armstrong said. “It’s really what’s of primary importance to the socio-economic impacts of retreating glaciers.”
Allison and Armstrong and many other scientists have dismissed the row over the U.N. climate panel error as overblown but said it served as a useful reminder of the gaps in global glacier monitoring and the need for a far better picture.
“It certainly brought attention to the problem,” said Armstrong.

Which Climate Changes Can Be Blamed On Humans?

Posted by admin on March 11, 2010
Posted under Express 99

Which Climate Changes Can Be Blamed On Humans?
A new comprehensive study by the UK Met Office finds that there are definite human influences on a host of aspects of the climate, all of them driven by the rising temperatures. To find a human “fingerprint” on the climate, they focussed on data that has been collected over the last century. They calculate the relative influence that different factors – including natural variations like changes in the Earth’s orbit, and human-made influences like carbon dioxide emissions – have on the changing climate. The New Scientist reports.
Which climate changes can be blamed on humans? Michael Marshall asks the question and gives some answers in New Scientist (5 March 2010):
The conclusions of the last IPCC report were unequivocal: it said, with 90% certainty, that greenhouse gases released by human activity were warming the planet. That was then and this is now, and since the IPCC’s report came out in 2007 climate science has come under some criticism – rather a lot of it in fact. So it’s no surprise that when new papers confirm the IPCC’s conclusions, climate scientists are not shy about advertising them.
The latest example of such a paper, in press in WIREs Climate Change, reviews a number of studies that have been done since 2007. It finds that there are definite human influences on a host of aspects of the climate, all of them driven by the rising temperatures.
All the papers that Peter Stott of the UK Met Office and colleagues reviewed attempted to find a human “fingerprint” on the climate. They focus on data that has been collected over the last century. They calculate the relative influence that different factors – including natural variations like changes in the Earth’s orbit, and human-made influences like carbon dioxide emissions – have on the changing climate.
According to Stott’s overview of published research papers, there is now a confirmed human fingerprint (links go to the original papers) on:
• The rise in global surface air temperature;
• The rise in surface air temperature over every continent, including Antarctica;
• The rise in atmospheric humidity (caused by the higher air temperatures);
• The rise in precipitation (rain, snow, etc) around the world, as a result of the higher humidities;
• Shifts in precipitation: dry tropical regions are getting drier while wet regions closer to the poles are getting wetter;
• The huge losses of Arctic summer sea ice;
• The rise in surface ocean temperature;
• Increasing salinity in the Atlantic Ocean
The researchers say that a fingerprint study of this kind has not yet been performed for sea level rise, and that we still cannot be sure whether humans have had an effect on the number, or intensity, of hurricanes.
It’s hard to take the promotion that Stott’s review received – it was press released and presented at a press conference – as anything other than a response to the unremitting onslaught of climategate-related accusations being hurled at climate scientists at the moment.
Will it make much of a difference to the controversy? Hard to say. But it’s worth pointing out that very little of the fallout from climategate has had to do with the evidence for human-driven climate change. Rightly or wrongly, journalists seem more interested in flaws in climatologists’s characters than the strength of their data.

Energy Efficiency Alone Could Cut National Emissions by 5%

Posted by admin on March 11, 2010
Posted under Express 99

Energy Efficiency Alone Could Cut National Emissions by 5%
Industry group the Energy Efficiency Council says a 15% efficiency gain by the biggest companies would cut national emissions by nearly 5% and save business billions in energy costs. And there’s one company – Ecosave – already working with some of the countries’ largest commercial, retail and industrial businesses (and government departments) to do just that – save money and reduce energy use.
Adam Morton in The Age (8 March 2010):
Claims that even small greenhouse gas targets will hurt big industry have been undermined by a government report that found basic efficiency improvements could cut national emissions while saving businesses more than $700 million.
An assessment of 199 large energy users found boosting efficiency could save at least 6.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to a 1.1 per cent cut in the annual national carbon footprint.
The energy savings could run 1.4 million homes for a year and give the companies an extra $736 million.
Industry group the Energy Efficiency Council said it suggested a 15 per cent efficiency gain by the biggest companies would cut national emissions by nearly 5 per cent and save billions in energy costs.
”Economic purists have been telling us that if there were $100 notes lying around, industry would have already picked them up,” council chief executive Rob Murray-Leach said.
”This report shows that companies have blind spots – sometimes you have to help them find the $100 notes.”
Though often overlooked in the policy debate, energy efficiency is widely understood to be the easiest and cheapest way to make quick emissions cuts.
The Paris-based International Energy Agency estimates 65 per cent of the global emissions cut achieved by 2020 will be through efficiency upgrades.
Mr Murray-Leach, a former adviser to climate economist Ross Garnaut, said energy efficiency should be viewed in the same way as other business investments: you need to spend up-front to generate a return.
”Some people say that tackling climate change is too expensive, we should wait to see what the world does first,” he said. ”This report shows that there is a huge amount we could do right now to cut our emissions and grow our economy.”
The government’s First Opportunities report is the result of a 2006 program introduced by the Howard government that requires companies that use more than 0.5 petajoules of energy a year to find, but not necessarily implement, potential savings. The report said businesses had shown they were willing to implement the savings because of the commercial benefits.
It is an initial insight only: the report looks at 57 per cent of operations where energy savings may be possible. The biggest savings were found to be possible in large energy-using industries – metals, manufacturing and mining.
Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the report showed Australia’s largest energy users had already made changes that would save them more than $500 million a year.
The report found existing commitments by businesses would cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 4 million tonnes. As companies were still assessing their energy use, more savings would be identified.
5 March, 2010
Big buildings, big savings, small footprint
Ecosave work with commercial, retail and industrial businesses and government departments to save money, by reducing energy and water consumption in commercial and industrial buildings through a range of simple measures.
Ecosave offer free site assessments to potential customers and an obligation free proposal detailing the energy and water conservation projects that meet the client’s financial criteria and the expected savings and costs.
Once a proposal is approved, Ecosave manage all aspects of the installation process to provide the client with energy and/or water savings with no interruption to the client’s operations.
Established in 2002, Ecosave has expanded to become the fastest growing energy and water conservation company in Australia, by helping building managers in metropolitan and regional areas to achieve tangible energy efficiency one branch at a time.
With a focus on building controls, lighting and air conditioning energy conservation, as well as all aspects of water conservation, Ecosave recognise that many small building improvements can result in substantial savings.
Today, Ecosave is active in metropolitan and rural areas of Australia and New Zealand. They have already provided energy and water conservation solutions to over 250 organisations in commercial, retail and industrial companies, as well as every level of government.
Some of these include:
o National Australia Bank
o Origin Energy
o Charles Sturt University
o Amcor
o Telstra
o Stockland
o Westpac
o Area Health Services
o Many local government areas
Unlike many of their competitors, who have suffered losses of up to 50 per cent, Ecosave’s end of financial year growth figures showed a 36 per cent increase in revenue.
In the last five months alone Ecosave have opened offices in Melbourne and Brisbane and are preparing to establish a presence in the United States.Ecosave continue to assist the National Australia Bank, to improve the Carbon Neutrality of hundreds of their sites across Australia.
The recently established partnership with Origin Energy will see Ecosave undertake energy efficiency projects for Origin’s commercial and industrial clients.
These projects will be financed through an additional monthly payment, which will be applied to the customer’s electricity bill for a fixed period of between 36 to 60 months. Ecosave secured substantial Federal Government funding for projects undertaken for Stockland and AMP, with 50 per cent of the project costs covered by grants.
Most recently, Ecosave secured funding through the NSW State Government’s Public Facilities Fund for an energy and water efficiency project that will be conducted at Charles Sturt University.
Ecosave are a sponsor of the 2010 CFO Summit, a meeting of Australia and New Zealand’s top financial executives across all major industry sectors.
o Ecosave leads industry in sustainable business practices, among other things;
‐ Our premises are run by 100% green energy
‐ Our vehicles are in the Green‐fleet programme
‐ Waste removed from our installations is recycled and/or re‐used whenever possible
‐ We select the most environmentally friendly products available to include in our installations
‐ All our stationary is printed on recycled paper and both sides of pages used
‐ All our office paper waste is recycled.
o Ecosave donates a tree for every tonne of green house gas emission or 100 kilolitres of water saved through the project. It is our contribution to helping the environment.
o Additionally, Ecosave donates 5% of its profits to environmental and humanitarian charities.

Imagine a Fleet of Electric Cars Driving the Grid!

Posted by admin on March 11, 2010
Posted under Express 99

Imagine a Fleet of Electric Cars Driving the Grid!
There’s a three year old electric car in California called the eBox. It has a 35 kilowatt hour battery and it goes 95 miles an hour. It not only uses clean energy, but its stores it and feeds it into the grid. Robin Williams, reporting on ABC’s The Science Show, met the designer.
Robyn Williams: This is The Science Show on ABC Radio National coming from San Diego and the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. I’m in the press conference room which, as you can hear, there’s a tiny bit of buzz going on behind. But weirdly there’s a very large motorcar here in the corner. It’s big and white and boxy. It’s got something that’s almost like an ABC logo on the side, and it says AC Propulsion Electric. It looks shiny-new and fairly heavy. Tom Gage, you’re based here in California, are you not?
Thomas Gage: That’s right, we’re based in Los Angeles.
Robyn Williams: Doing what?
Thomas Gage: We build electric vehicle drive systems.
Robyn Williams: Of which this is…what? The latest model?
Thomas Gage: This is actually a three-year-old car we built. It has our drive system in it, it’s a conversion made from a Toyota model sold here in the US. We call it the eBox and if you could see it you would understand why. And it has a 35 kilowatt hour battery and it goes 95 miles an hour. I drove it down here from Los Angeles, it was 120 miles.
Robyn Williams: That was powered just on electricity?
Thomas Gage: That’s right. I plugged it in the night before and the battery was full when I left, and when I got down here I still had about 25% left.
Robyn Williams: Well, looking inside…I’m just opening the door, and it looks like a normal car, there’s nothing particularly different except there’s a bit of a screen in front of you saying…what?
Thomas Gage: We have a driver information display that lets the diver know how much battery power is left, what their efficiency is while operating, it’s really no different from some of the info screens on other cars. This one just has different info.
Robyn Williams: We’re going to come around to what is different about this car. Inside, as you can look at the controls, it seems friendly, natural, but obviously if you’re got a three-year-old car with a press conference there’s something different about it; what is it?
Thomas Gage: It’s different because it’s electric but it’s even more different than that because it has what we call our reductive charger, and that’s a trademark name for our charger which allows current to flow from the vehicle into the grid as well as the normal direction from the grid into the vehicle. The charger can respond to commands either from the vehicle operator in the vehicle or from a remote source transmitted to the car over the internet and that’s what we’re showing here at this science conference, is that this car is going to respond to commands from the grid operator out on the east coast of the United States and it will respond accordingly. So when the grid operator asks for more power, this vehicle will actually put power into the grid. When they ask for less this vehicle will draw power from the grid as it would normally.
Robyn Williams: Of course the big problem with alternative sources of power such as wind and solar is that they might be variable, but if you can store in batteries that solves the problem or helps the problem. If you’ve got thousands of cars, all with their batteries, all full, and then can feed back into the grid, there’s your answer.
Thomas Gage: That’s the general idea, and even though one car makes very little difference, we can feed about ten kilowatts into the grid. By the time you have 100 or 150 cars you’re talking about a megawatt of power. And the good thing about it compared to other sources of backup power is it is extremely efficient, extremely clean in the sense of electromagnetic clean, it’s very close to the frequency and waveform that they’re looking for. And the response time is measured in fractions of a second, so it’s extremely responsive. That’s a new feature that a big generating plant can’t match. So a fleet of cars, and it doesn’t even have to be that big of a fleet, can be a big help in operating the grid and keeping it balanced.
Robyn Williams: It worries me slightly that the internet connection might take it out of my hands. How do I know that you haven’t depleted the car by the time I get in tomorrow morning?
Thomas Gage: The driver has the ultimate say and we’re still working out the best interface between the driver and the grid operator and the other parties involved, but basically the driver will be able to say, ‘I never want my car to be below this amount of energy in the battery,’ and he’ll also be able to say, ‘I want it to be at this level at this time of day,’ so that when you leave work you can be sure you have 50% or 70% or 100% if that’s what you want.
Robyn Williams: There’s no question that in California you’ve got some pioneers in this field. You’re actually based in Silicon Valley, are you?
Thomas Gage: I live in Silicon Valley and I work in Los Angeles, and…
Robyn Williams: So, San Francisco to LA?
Thomas Gage: That’s right, it’s all one big happy family. We helped Tesla get started, they have a big presence both in Silicon Valley and some down here in Los Angeles.
Robyn Williams: Tesla is the electric car that goes very, very fast very quickly.
Thomas Gage: That’s right, it’s a two-seater, all-electric sports car. They’ve been doing quite well, selling cars in California and all over the world actually.
Robyn Williams: Of course Arnie, the Governator, has taken a great interest in this, not least the Tesla, which he’s driven. Has he been introduced to your car and your system?
Thomas Gage: Yes, we’ve met with the governor and he’s very interested in promoting this industry here in California where it’s a natural because there’s a market here and there’s also a great deal of government interest here.
Robyn Williams: Imagine the future when most people are driving electric cars, what kind of extra input could those cars give to the grid to keep the system working off renewables?
Thomas Gage: A very big part. One of the problems with renewables is you can’t depend on them, so even though you may have a large capacity for generating renewable energy, you have to be prepared for the event that that energy hits a cloud or a lull in the wind. But with a battery storage, and the bigger the battery the more you can depend on it, you can get a much greater utilisation of that intermittent renewable electricity, and that’s the key to really benefiting the grid and the environment by using as much of that energy as you possibly can. So if you store it in the cars’ batteries and then are able to recall it when you need it, you go much further into reducing the reliance on other fossil fuels or other sources of electrical energy generation.
Robyn Williams: Okay, I’m a fairly cynical person, I’m not particularly green, why should I bother to be part of this scheme and offer you my battery’s electricity?
Thomas Gage: There are two parts to that question. Actually first is, Why would you buy an electric car? And my company’s goal is to design and build a car that you want to buy because you like the way it drives and you like the features it has, and that’s what we’re working on. But once you have the electric car, why would you plug it into the grid and allow them to sap your batteries at their will, and the reason is that they will pay you for it, they’ll pay you fairly handsomely. You can effectively cover certainly the cost of your batteries and the cost of your electricity and thereby just drive the car as if it were a normal car with free fuel.
Robyn Williams: That convinces me!
Thomas Gage: It convinces a lot of people and we’re very close…one of the reasons here is we’re presenting with some researchers at the University of Delaware, Professor Willett Kempton who is doing the leading-edge research on this, and it’s our goal and we’re very confident that we can show that these economics are real. And once they are real, there will be a tipping point and people will say, ‘Give me one of those cars.’
Robyn Williams: Apart from, finally, the logo, you’ve got lots of orange leaves floating around on the design. What do they represent?
Thomas Gage: You know, there is sort of the tree-hugger aspect to the electric vehicles and these are our equivalent of racing stripes except they’re in the form of leaves, and they’re not green they’re orange, so we also want them to be a little bit eye-catching.
Robyn Williams: Thanks Tom.
Thomas Gage: Thank you very much.
Robyn Williams: Tom Gage with his electric car from Los Angeles. More on the practicalities of all that in a future Science Show.

Power Plant to Cut Coal By 20% & Go For Biomass

Posted by admin on March 11, 2010
Posted under Express 99

Power Plant to Cut Coal By 20% & Go For Biomass
The operator of a large power station in NSW has begun planting trees in a scheme to create carbon-neutral fuel and cut its use of coal. More than 200,000 Mallee eucalypt trees will be grown on 10 farms around Forbes, in the state’s central west for the $1.3 million trial, launched by Delta Electricity this week.
AAP reports (9 March 2010):
The operator of a large power station in NSW has begun planting trees in a scheme to create carbon-neutral fuel and cut its use of coal.
More than 200,000 Mallee eucalypt trees will be grown on 10 farms around Forbes, in the state’s central west for the $1.3 million trial, launched by Delta Electricity on Tuesday.
If it succeeds, the company will start a $250 million project, which it says could slash its use of coal by 20 per cent at the Wallerawang power station west of Sydney.
Carbon-neutral plant material, or `biomass’, would be used in its place.
The trees, which take five years to mature, will be harvested every three years and processed into renewable fuel pallets.
“We believe biomass has huge potential to diversify Australia’s reliance on coal-based power,” Delta Electricity’s chief executive Jim Henness said in a statement.
“The uptake of this technology will grow as other coal generators recognise the benefit of this innovation.
“At the same time it supports the rural sector with a drought resistant and guaranteed cash crop.”
Achieving the 20 per cent biomass target would reduce carbon dioxide emissions at Wallerawang by one million tonnes a year, Delta says.
This would require about 1.2 million tonnes of plant material, from 70 million mallee trees on 300 farms in the central-west.
NSW Regional Development Minister Ian Macdonald says the trial will create up to 20 jobs in Forbes and eight jobs in Lithgow.
“If the trial is successful and the co-firing project proceeds, biomass planting and burning will help to create over 70 jobs in Forbes and secure 150 jobs in Lithgow,” Mr Macdonald said in a statement.
“Mallee plantings will then provide farmers in the region with long-term contracts for a drought-proof, alternative income stream and establish a new industry in the central west.”

Geothermal Industry Steamed up for More Saintly Stimulus

Posted by admin on March 11, 2010
Posted under Express 99

Geothermal Industry Steamed up for More Saintly Stimulus
The geothermal industry is citing a report by consultancy firm Activated Logic that predicts $1.5bn in direct funding assistance from Government over the next few years could trigger a further $16bn in geothermal investments from the private sector. Green Chip Giles Parkinson reports.
GREENCHIP: Giles Parkinson in The Australian (8 March 2010):
IT’S not often that “Our Saint” Mary MacKillop and Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson are mentioned in the same breath, but Panax Geothermal chief executive Bertus de Graaf managed it in a press release on Friday.
The occasion was the official opening of the company’s geothermal project at Penola on South Australia’s Limestone Coast, where Panax hopes to bring Australia’s first commercial geothermal energy project into production, and where the soon-to-be-canonised MacKillop founded the Australian Sisters of St Joseph.
The Rudd government would like to think that it has taken a saintly approach to the geothermal industry, awarding $153 million to help in the development of two “hot rock” energy plants, and some $50m in drilling assistance, including $7m to Panax.
But the geothermal industry has been at pains to point out that this is not nearly enough.
Indeed, geothermal wonders why it has been treated as a poor cousin to other technologies. The renewable energy target clearly favours wind and will trigger a predicted $20 billion in wind investment, and a total of $4bn in government grants has been promised to carbon capture and storage and large-scale solar.
Even though geothermal is clearly better in terms of proven technology, low emissions, costs and available resources — a fact that Ferguson himself implicitly recognised during his visit to Penola — there is no further funding on the horizon for geothermal, and none at all for the more conventional and shallower aquifer resources.
This has had a debilitating impact on investor confidence and financing options. Geodynamics and Petratherm, the major beneficiaries of the Renewable Energy Demonstration Program (REDP) grants, have both fallen around 25 per cent since those November announcements and Geodynamics is now at its lowest level since 2003. And many smaller geothermal companies have gone cap in hand to the likes of Geodynamics and Origin Energy in recent months, hoping to negotiate either a buyout or a partnership.
Call it the MacKillop effect, but Ferguson on Friday recognised the need to ensure that geothermal plays a prominent part in the nation’s future energy mix. This will please the geothermal industry, which has been doubling its representations to Canberra, concerned by delays in the creation of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy and the distribution of remaining monies in the REDP.
The industry has been citing a report by Activated Logic, a consultancy firm founded by former Macquarie Infrastructure types, that predicts $1.5bn in direct funding assistance to geothermal over the next few years could trigger a further $16bn in geothermal investments.
“We’ve got no carbon signal, there are ongoing concerns about the RET, and no clear capital source from the government,” says Susan Jeanes, the head of the Australian Geothermal Association. “We think we can be on our own by 2014 but, in the meantime, investors are saying, let’s see the government cover up on risk. It’s a vital technology and the government recognises that.”
Some in the industry would prefer the sort of loan guarantees that the Obama administration is using to reignite the nuclear energy industry and kick-start the development of large-scale solar. Banks are prepared to underwrite construction and development risk, but they cannot yet get their minds around some technical risks, such as sub-surface technology in the case of geothermal. This is where the government could step in. It might be a tempting prospect in an election year.
IPO for New World
NEW World Energy is dusting off its plans for an IPO after securing geothermal permits for the mining-intensive Pilbara region in WA.
CEO John Libby says geothermal could be expected to fill some of the anticipated 3000MW of energy demand for the region as new large-scale mine and gas developments come into production.
New World, however, is expected to focus initial work on permits in the Perth Basin and the IPO — possibly around $10m — will be timed to deliver funds for that drilling program.
Over at Petratherm, the company last week released data that confirmed the temperature levels at its Paralana development at about 190C at 4km, above requirements. The next stage will be a fracture stimulation next month, before a second well is drilled to provide the proof of concept required to access the REDP funding for the planned 30MW demonstration plant.
Petratherm has also signed a deal with Italian energy giant Enel to develop geothermal projects in Portugal and Spain. Enel, the second largest utility in Europe, already has 800MW of geothermal capacity in its portfolio. Geodynamics, meanwhile, has suffered further frustration in the Cooper Basin, this time in the form of one-in-50-year rains that could force the delay of drilling at the Jolokia well.