Archive for the ‘Express 76’ Category

One Fine Day: 100% Clean Energy

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

One Fine Day: 100% Clean Energy

There is a proven way to rapidly boost the adoption of renewable energy – give companies or individuals who want to generate green energy access to the grid and promise to pay them extra for the electricity they “feed in” over the next 20 years or so. The New Scientist says so!

By Ben Crystall in the New Scientist(15 September 2009):

Paying people who generate green energy and feed it back to the grid is the best way to boost uptake of renewable energy.

ONE day, 100 per cent of our energy will have to come from renewable sources. But how do we make it happen?

There is a proven way to rapidly boost the adoption of renewable energy – give companies or individuals who want to generate green energy access to the grid and promise to pay them extra for the electricity they “feed in” over the next 20 years or so.

This approach is known as a feed-in tariff, and since Germany introduced feed-in tariffs in 1990, the proportion of electricity it generates from renewable sources has grown from less than 3 per cent to about 15 per cent in 2008. By comparison, the UK, which tried to boost renewable energy through an alternative “green certificate” scheme, generated just 5 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2008.

Other countries are now trying to emulate Germany’s success. To date, 21 European countries have introduced some form of feed-in tariff, and this year the UK, South Africa and the Canadian province of Ontario announced plans to implement similar schemes.

The catch with feed-in tariffs is that consumers or taxpayers have to foot the bill for the higher price paid for renewable energy. Partly for this reason, they generally favour or are limited to smaller generators. While this is not ideal, small power generators can make a big difference if there are enough of them. According to some estimates, microgeneration could provide up to 40 per cent of the UK’s electricity by 2050.

Even with guaranteed prices, though, the initial investment in the generating equipment – a photovoltaic panel, say, or a small wind generator – puts the technology beyond the budget of most households. Fortunately there are other ways for people to take advantage of feed-in tariffs.

More than 350,000 households in Germany hold shares in wind turbines, and almost all wind farms in Denmark are community owned. By providing people living close to the generators with extra income, community-owned renewable power schemes can also help overcome local opposition to what people might otherwise see as intrusive wind turbines.

Read more: Blueprint for a better world

Source: www.newscientist.com

Voluntary Climate Action Must Count

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

Voluntary Climate Action Must Count

Growing uncertainty around key policy decisions here in Australia are fuelling confusion and doubt about how best to combat climate change. The government needs to clearly account for voluntary action separately – like buying Green Power –  thereby recognising the additional environmental benefits and preventing free kicks to polluters. A hard hitting exclusive article by Freddy Sharpe, CEO, Climate Friendly.

Article by Freddy Sharpe, CEO, Climate Friendly

Fixing climate change – if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well

Headline-grabbing behaviour by carbon companies in Papua New Guinea and the growing uncertainty around key policy decisions here in Australia are fuelling confusion and doubt about how best to combat climate change.

In particular, concerned individuals and businesses who want to do the right thing and voluntarily take action now are at risk of being discouraged from doing anything at all.  Quite rightly, we want to be absolutely certain that our actions are having a direct and meaningful impact on reducing emissions. And recent events do not inspire such certainty.

If you believe the economists, none of us should be acting voluntarily anyway.  Economic theory tells us that public benefit and private cost are not natural bed-fellows.  Strange creatures that we humans are, we would rather wallow in our communal mess than risk giving our fellow citizens a free ride at our expense by paying for the cleanup.  That’s why we have tax and welfare systems, to socialise the costs of what we euphemistically call externalities (minor things like ensuring clean air, healthy people and not cooking the planet).

However, many of us are taking voluntary action on climate change.  Reducing energy consumption, installing renewable technologies like solar hot water and solar electricity, buying green power and purchasing carbon offsets can all make a significant difference to our national emissions. 

As a result voluntary markets are growing rapidly and, in Australia, we are more than doing our fair share.  Last year, the global volume of voluntary carbon trades doubled and, after the US and Europe, we have the largest number of companies taking voluntary action. 

We need to encourage this trend, not undermine it.  There is one particularly bewildering paradox we need to resolve.  As a result of Australia having committed to a binding national target for its emissions by ratifying the Kyoto protocol in January last year, no voluntary activity now undertaken within Australia has any additional impact on our emissions.  In fact, the more that voluntary actions cut emissions, the more room big polluters have to pollute. 

To explain this absurdity, let’s consider an unrelated topic with which we are all familiar – the education system.  The government’s policy on education commits them to providing a certain level of funding for schools.   Imagine if the policy went on to say that, for every dollar of additional funds raised voluntarily by parents (through sausage sizzles and the like), the government would withdraw one dollar.  Overall, the funding target would be met but the incentive for any parent to act voluntarily would be totally removed.

So it is with emission reductions.  The overall Kyoto target will be met, but anyone acting voluntarily is giving a free kick to a big polluter who would otherwise be forced to reduce their emissions. 

A particularly good example of this confusion involves Australian Green Power.  When first introduced, this world-leading scheme allowed concerned electricity consumers to buy power, at a premium, from renewable generators such as wind farms.  Because we had no national emissions target, these purchases were guaranteed both to provide additional funding to the development of clean energy and to make genuinely additional reductions in our overall emissions.  Unfortunately, that second point no longer holds true.  While the context has changed, the scheme has not.

Happily, however, this whole issue can be quickly and easily resolved with a simple policy change.  The government needs to clearly account for voluntary action separately, thereby recognising the additional environmental benefits and preventing free kicks to polluters.

The current state of confusion is compounded by other unanswered questions, such as what (if anything) will replace the Greenhouse Friendly scheme.  This government programme, designed to support Australian voluntary carbon offset projects and which touches many businesses and consumers, is being phased out from July next year.  A key framework for future offset activities, the proposed National Carbon Offset Standard, has yet to be released.  Uncertainty abounds.

As important as policy certainty is the need to ensure trust in corporate behaviour.  The Global Financial Crisis has highlighted the universal truth that ignoring long-term risk for short-term gain will eventually prove our undoing. It’s only ever a matter of time.  It’s certainly true of climate change risk, as the science increasingly informs us.  By the same logic, short term actions that damage trust in the integrity of legitimate carbon markets must be avoided. 

The recent events involving carbon firms in Papua New Guinea highlight the critical importance of robust policy and legal frameworks that protect the interests of all parties.   These need to be supported by rigorous third-party validation and verification of emission reduction activities.  In this way, confidence can be maintained.

If acting on climate change is worth doing, and it certainly is, it’s worth doing well.  Eliminating confusion and ensuring transparent behaviour will provide the certainty and confidence that we need in order to act.

Source: www.climatefriendly.com

All at Sea: Toxic Oil Slick is a Killer

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

All at Sea: Toxic Oil Slick is a Killer

Four weeks after the Montaro Field oil leak began, the well head remains uncapped and the toxic slick continues to spread, covering an area north of Australia at least 100 times the size of Sydney Harbour. “It is unfortunate that this unfolding wildlife crisis is not being given the urgency and attention it deserves. Out of sight should not mean out of mind,” said WWF’s Dr Gilly Llewellyn.

Toxic oil spill likely to affect thousands

Up to fifteen species of whale and dolphin, over thirty seabird species and five turtle species are the potential victims of the Montaro Field oil leak, which continues to pour out an estimated 400 barrels of oil each day.

New estimates show up to 30,000 individual sea snakes and 16,000 turtles may be found in the area affected by the oil leak’s slick.

Four weeks after the leak began, the well head remains uncapped and the toxic slick from this chronic oil leak continues to spread, with estimates of between 6,500 and 15,000 km2 being covered – an area at least 100 times the size of Sydney Harbour.

These figures are contained in a new report by Australian ecologist Simon Mustoe (CenvP) for WWF-Australia, titled Montara Field Oil Leak and Biodiversity Values, which, released today examines the likely impacts of the toxic oil slick on the region’s wildlife.

“We need to shatter the myth that oil an spill only affects marine wildlife when it washes up on our beaches,” said Dr Gilly Llewellyn, WWF-Australia’s Conservation Director.

Marine wildlife communities, habitats and species, their location, conservation status, significance under the EPBC Act and vulnerability to the Montara Field oil leak are analysed in the report, painting a picture of an unseen marine community under continuing threat from the leak. 

“This area has a huge amount of marine life, including some of the most iconic wildlife in the oceans. Species such as Fraser’s dolphin, green and flatback turtles and red-footed booby migrate through this area and may come into contact with the slick.

“We should not be lulled into thinking that spraying dispersants on the surface solves the problem. These dispersants may end up actually raising the level of toxicity in the water column while sinking some of the oil currently on the surface into deeper water,” said Dr Llewellyn.

As seabirds spend a large amount of time on the surface of the water, the report highlights that they are particularly vulnerable to the oil slick on the surface.

The report also shows the duration of the leak and slick to be a major concern, with risks to large numbers of individual species and possibly longer-term effects on both individuals and populations.

WWF will next week launch a research trip from Darwin to the affected area to assess first hand the marine life and the potential impacts of the slick.

“It is unfortunate that this unfolding wildlife crisis is not being given the urgency and attention it deserves. Out of sight should not mean out of mind,” said Dr Llewellyn.

“The only way to really know what marine life is at risk from this toxic slick is to actually go to the affected region and do the research.

“We will be happy to share our findings with companies and government organisations tasked with cleaning up after this disaster.

“But more importantly, as the threat of more oil and gas infrastructure in this fragile marine region grows, we must make sure that the very real risk of more leaks is taken into account.”

A copy of the report – Montaro Field Oil Leak and Biodiversity Values is available from WWF.

Source: www.wwf.org.au

Tasty Blend of Science & Stormwater

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

Tasty Blend of Science & Stormwater

This is an exciting demonstration of the value of stormwater and the drinking water that can be produced from it by using a combination of natural treatment processes and engineered methods, says the CSIRO.

This is your chance to taste what science can do for you.

17 September 2009

CSIRO scientists have bottled ‘Recharge’ , pure drinking water that was once stormwater.

“This is an exciting demonstration of the value of stormwater and the drinking water that can be produced from it by using a combination of natural treatment processes and engineered methods,” CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship Urban Water Stream Leader Dr Peter Dillon said.

The water was captured in the City of Salisbury, on the Northern Adelaide Plains in South Australia. It was stored under Salisbury in a porous limestone aquifer 160m below ground.

“ This is an exciting demonstration of the value of stormwater and the drinking water that can be produced from it by using a combination of natural treatment processes and engineered methods,”CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship Urban Water Stream Leader Dr Peter Dillon said.

When recovered it was found to meet drinking water health standards.

 

“The stormwater was first treated by passing it through a reed bed or wetland,” Dr Dillon said.

“This allows particles to settle. It was then injected via wells into a limestone aquifer for storage and months of natural slow filtration through the aquifer.”

After recovery the water was rigorously tested in National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratories.

For extra safeguard and aesthetic quality the water was aerated, filtered through an activated carbon filter and it underwent microfiltration and ultraviolet disinfection.

‘Recharge’ complies with the same health standards as tap and bottled water.

Dr Dillon said the water demonstrates that drinking water can be produced from stormwater, and that the concept can be part of a suite of diversified water supply options.

“Compared to other common alternative supplies stormwater harvesting is cheaper, energy efficient and has a small carbon footprint.”

“It also avoids the economic, social and environmental costs of building new dams for water storage and shows the value of urban aquifers.”

CSIRO scientists are continuing to test the robustness of the concept to ensure water can be produced that consistently meets drinking water health standards.

Recharge’ was produced by CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Flagship and the City of Salisbury.

The water will be available for public tastings at: The CSIRO stand at the Reuse 09 conference and exhibition at the Brisbane Conference and Exhibition Centre from Monday 21 September to Thursday 24 September.

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The 10 Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.

Source: www.csiro.au

20% Europe’s Energy from Wind

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

20% Europe’s Energy from Wind

A European Union project envisages 25 to 30 “smart cities” — highly insulated cities that glean energy from their waste, the sun and wind overhead, channelling it down to the electric cars, trams and buses in the streets below, says the long-awaited Strategic Energy Technology Plan.

Pete Harrison for Reuters World Environment News (17 September 2009):

BRUSSELS – Europe will select 30 cities to pioneer “smart” electricity grids and space-proven insulation as it seeks to lead the global race for green technology, a draft European Union document shows.

The windpower sector must shift offshore and strive to provide a fifth of EU electricity by 2020 — ahead of industry goals — said a draft of the European Commission’s long-awaited Strategic Energy Technology Plan.

The so-called SET-Plan lays out the EU’s strategy for promoting hi-tech solutions to climate change to give European businesses a head start as the world switches to low-carbon energy.

Billions of euros will have to be poured into research to avoid falling behind the United States, which is pouring $777 million into energy research, the draft, obtained by Reuters ahead of the plan’s release next month, said.

“Basic research is chronically underfunded in the EU,” the report said. “We need to stimulate and incentivize our best brains to push back the frontiers of science.”

The project envisages 25 to 30 “smart cities” — highly insulated cities that glean energy from their waste and the sun and wind overhead and channel it down to the electric cars, trams and buses in the streets below.

“These Smart Cities will be the nuclei from which smart networks, a new generation of buildings and alternative transport means will develop into European wide realities,” it added.

EU officials are still calculating the exact needs for funding and how it will be split between industry and the public purse.

Environmentalists gave the plan a mixed reception, saying it should have completely ditched coal power and nuclear.

The geothermal industry, which generates steady “baseload” power by tapping into the earth’s natural heat, said it provided the perfect complement to fluctuating wind and solar and expressed dismay it had been ignored altogether.

“A renewable energy mix can not be reached in the future without geothermal energy,” the European Geothermal Energy Council said.

Boosting energy efficiency will top the agenda, an area where the European Space Agency is expected to contribute.

“This could be achieved by transferring advanced insulation materials and ultra-efficient energy systems to the terrestrial energy sector,” the report said.

Coal-fired power stations will be pushed to trap and bury their carbon dioxide emissions and the nuclear industry will be urged to move toward a new generation of reactors — the so-called Generation-IV reactor.

“Such reactors will be able to exploit the full energetic potential of uranium, thus greatly extending resource availability by factors up to 100 over current technologies,” said the report.

Greenpeace campaigner Frauke Thies said the overall message was inconsistent, as money poured into coal and nuclear would only prolong Europe’s unhealthy dependence on an inflexible, centralized energy network.

“We must focus on building a decentralized and flexible energy system that can handle fluctuations in renewable energy and balance supply and demand,” she added.

Source: www. planetark.org

Carbon Trading Grows Amid Uncertainty

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

Carbon Trading Grows Amid Uncertainty

British carbon emissions exchange operator Climate Exchange – which owns and operates emissions trading marketplaces in the US, Europe and Asia -  swung to a first-half profit as trading volumes almost doubled, but said it expected growth rates to moderate in the second half.

 

Victoria Bryan and Michael Szabo for Reuters World Environment News (17 September 2009):

LONDON – British carbon emissions exchange operator Climate Exchange swung to a first-half profit as trading volumes almost doubled, but said it expected growth rates to moderate in the second half.

“Whilst we are delighted with the growth achieved in the first half of 2009, political and regulatory uncertainty may moderate our rates of growth during the second half of the financial year and we have observed lower volumes in August,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The firm posted a pretax profit of 1.5 million pounds ($2.5 million), compared with a loss of 0.3 million in the first half of 2008.

AIM-listed Climate Exchange owns and operates emissions trading marketplaces in the U.S., Europe and Asia, including the European Climate Exchange (ECX).

Group trading volumes in the first half increased 96 percent year on year, while the ECX traded 2.685 billion contracts, nearly equaling the amount traded for 2008 as a whole.

But ECX volumes have nearly halved to 283.4 million tonnes traded in August from its record volume of 539 million in March.

Fox Pitt Kelton estimates full-year group pre-tax profits at 6.5 million pounds including share-based payments, CEO Neil Eckert told Reuters.

Andrew Shepherd-Barron of KBC Peel Hunt reiterated his sell rating and 812 pence price target, saying the shares already account for rapid volume growth in Europe and the U.S.

At 1102 GMT (7:02 a.m. EDT), Climate Exchange shares were up 17.0 pence or 1.97 percent at 880 pence on Wednesday.

Prices for voluntary carbon credits trading on Climate Exchange’s Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) have plummeted as a result of regulatory uncertainty, more supply and less demand due to the economic slowdown, Eckert said.

CCX trades credits in the voluntary, un-regulated market where companies can offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

CCX credit prices have tumbled from a high of over $7 in May 2008 to $0.25 on Tuesday, and volumes have fallen by 44 percent in the first half of 2009.

“The voluntary market is just a stepping stone on the way toward a mandatory market, so we expect the business to transform from CCX to our Chicago Climate Futures Exchange,” Eckert said.

CCFE volumes have more than tripled and Eckert said the exchange now has a 99 percent market share of futures trading in the U.S. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a mandatory scheme for polluters in 10 eastern U.S. states.

A new climate bill which would see the inception of a mandatory, national emissions market is currently incubating in the U.S. Senate while the United Nations is meeting in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a new global climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Source: www.planetark.org

Green for Go & Zero for Emissions

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

Green for Go & Zero for Emissions

Renault and German electric utility RWE signed a cooperation agreement to create a large-scale zero-emissions individual transport and travel system in Germany, as the car industry celebrated the end of the recession with a double shot of super-luxury cars at the opening of the Frankfurt motor show, was washed down with lashings of sober green fuel sippers and commitments to lower emissions.

Phil King in Frankfurt for The Australian (16 September 2009):

THE car industry celebrated the end of the recession with a double shot of super-luxury cars at the opening of the Frankfurt motor show yesterday.

An unprecedented rollout of models by the elite brands, which included a €1.1 million ($1.9m) Lamborghini convertible and a new $700,000 Rolls-Royce, was washed down with lashings of sober green fuel sippers and commitments to lower emissions.

Confidence is quickly returning to the industry, which believes it has turned the corner on the sales downturn.

“This show is being held at exactly the right time,” Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn said on the eve of the event. “The crisis isn’t over yet but there are increasing signs we’ve seen the bottom and we can look forward with optimism.”

The recovery could not be better timed for the big European makers, which have kept their research on alternative fuels at full throttle through the downturn and at last it is bearing fruit.

Most brands – including the two German luxury leaders, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – will soon have petrol-electric versions of their cars on sale, starting with their large sedans and four-wheel-drives. The research focus is now shifting to battery-powered cars, which are a quicker solution because they are simpler to engineer.

Volkswagen was just one of many brands signing up for battery power when it revealed it would offer an electric version of its new mass-market runabout by 2013, called E-Up.

BMW has a head start with an electric Mini undergoing the largest trial of the technology so far, with hundreds on the roads of European cities.

But European carmakers believe alternative solutions will be part of a broad spectrum of offerings that will still include greener versions of their luxury and performance cars. Volkswagen expects battery cars to claim just 2 per cent of the total market by 2020 and believes that luxury buyers will still demand Bentleys and Lamborghinis, as long as they have a green tinge.

The future would belong to low-emission vehicles because green concerns were not transitory trends, Mr Winterkorn said. “But premium vehicles with a sense of responsibility have a future.”

Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini are all part of Volkswagen’s stable and all have emerged from hibernation during the downturn with new elite models.

The Bentley Mulsanne is a full-strength flagship limousine that will compete against the new Rolls-Royce Ghost in the sub-$1m bracket. But the new Bugatti four-door and the Lamborghini Reventon Roadster are hunting for buyers with millions to spend.

Bentley and Bugatti boss Franz-Josef Paefgen said the elite brands could afford to spend more time perfecting their vehicles during a crisis and the super-luxury segment would rebound, with long-term forecasts showing it was a growth area.

A focus on having your car and flooring it was also central at BMW and Mercedes, which both unveiled show-stoppers. Mercedes’s resurrection of its famous Gullwing sportscar from the 1950s will sell for about $500,000 and expects to find 5000 buyers a year, starting in 2010.

BMW brought some razzamatazz back to motor shows with a lavish new hall that includes an indoor oval track. Its Vision EfficientDynamics sportscar is a showcase for fuel-saving techniques and delivers racy performance from a tiny three-cylinder diesel engine combined with electric motors. “Our task is to find a balance between green demands, driving pleasure and individual mobility,” said BMW boss Norbert Reithofer.

Source: www.theaustralian.news.com.au

Frankfurt, September 15, 2009 – Today, Renault and German electric utility RWE signed a cooperation agreement to create a large-scale zero-emissions individual transport and travel system in Germany.

The objective is to establish electric cars as a viable and attractive transport solution for German consumers.

The partnership was officially launched today by Mr. Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO of Renault and Nissan, and Mr. Dr. Jürgen Grobmann, CEO of RWE.

The Renault Nissan Alliance aims to become the world’s leading manufacturer of zero-emission vehicles. Germany will be one of the major markets for all-electric models.

RWE, is one of the leading european utility companies. RWE is currently setting up a powerful charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in major German cities and will subsequently roll-out this infrastructure across Germany.

Through the agreement announced today, the Renault Nissan Alliance and RWE aim to provide consumers with access to zero emission mobility. The partners want the joint market launch to start in June 2011. The Renault-Nissan Alliance and RWE intend to develop the market for EVs and create strong interest for e-mobility.

A joint pilot phase, starting second quarter 2009 and lasting until June 30, 2011, will first take place in Berlin, followed by other major German cities. Starting at the end of 2010, 100 electric Renault pre serial vehicles will use the RWE charging infrastructure. .

Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO of Renault and Nissan, said, “The signature of the cooperation agreement with RWE is a major step forward for Renault and the Alliance in Germany. The Renault- Nissan Alliance is committed to become the global leader in zero emission vehicles. Thanks to this partnership with RWE, we will be able to provide German customers with electric vehicles at an affordable price, with performance, roominess, comfort, quality and safety.”

Dr. Jürgen Grobmann, CEO of RWE, said, “We are entering together into new territory with this innovative partnership. Together with Renault, we want to help electric cars make their breakthrough in Germany, with an attractive offering consisting of an electric car, eco-energy and fast charging stations.

The Renault Nissan Alliance, founded in 1999, sold 6,090,304 vehicles in 2008. The objective of the Alliance is to rank among the world’s top three vehicle manufacturers in terms of quality, technology and profitability. Marking its tenth anniversary this year, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is leading a collaborative approach with both business and governments and has signed nearly 30 agreements worldwide with partners to launch its first electric vehicle starting in 2010 and to mass market a full range of electrical vehicles in 2012.

RWE is one of Europe’s five leading electricity and gas companies. RWE is active in the generation, trading, transmission and supply of electricity and gas. Through RWE’s fully consolidated investments, 66,000 employees supply over 14 million customers with electricity and 6 million customers with gas. In fiscal 2008, RWE recorded €49 billion in revenue.

Source: www.media.renault.com

Solar Panel Industries Go Global

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

Solar Panel Industries Go Global

China has decided that clean-tech is going to be the next great global industry and is now creating a massive domestic market for solar and wind, which will give it a great export platform, while US company Applied Materials maintains a real-time global interaction with all 14 solar panel factories it’s built around the world in the last two years. 

By THOMAS FRIEDMAN, Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times (15 September 2009):

Applied Materials is one of the most important U.S. companies you’ve probably never heard of.  It makes the machines that make the microchips that go inside your computer. 

The chip business, though, is volatile, so in 2004 Mike Splinter, Applied Materials’ C.E.O., decided to add a new business line to take advantage of the company’s nanotechnology capabilities — making the machines that make solar panels. 

The other day, Splinter gave me a tour of the company’s Silicon Valley facility, culminating with a visit to its “war room,” where Applied maintains a real-time global interaction with all 14 solar panel factories it’s built around the world in the last two years.  I could only laugh because crying would have been too embarrassing.

Not a single one is in America. Let’s see: five are in Germany, four are in China, one is in Spain, one is in India, one is in Italy, one is in Taiwan and one is even in Abu Dhabi.  I suggested a new company motto for Applied Materials’ solar business: “Invented here, sold there.”

The reason that all these other countries are building solar-panel industries today is because most of their governments have put in place the three prerequisites for growing a renewable energy industry: 1) any business or homeowner can generate solar energy; 2) if they decide to do so, the power utility has to connect them to the grid; and 3) the utility has to buy the power for a predictable period at a price that is a no-brainer good deal for the family or business putting the solar panels on their rooftop.

Regulatory, price and connectivity certainty, that is what Germany put in place, and that explains why Germany now generates almost half the solar power in the world today and, as a byproduct, is making itself the world-centre for solar research, engineering, manufacturing and installation.  With more than 50,000 new jobs, the renewable energy industry in Germany is now second only to its auto industry.  One thing that has never existed in America — with our fragmented, stop-start solar subsidies — is certainty of price, connectivity and regulation on a national basis.

That is why, although consumer demand for solar power has incrementally increased here, it has not been enough for anyone to have Applied Materials — the world’s biggest solar equipment manufacturer — build them a new factory in America yet.  So, right now, our federal and state subsidies for installing solar systems are largely paying for the cost of importing solar panels made in China, by Chinese workers, using hi-tech manufacturing equipment invented in America.

“About 95 percent of our solar business is outside the U.S.,” said Splinter.  “Our biggest U.S. customer is a German-owned company in Oregon.  We sell them pieces of equipment.”

If you read some of the anti-green commentary today, you’ll often see sneering references to “green jobs.”  The phrase is usually in quotation marks as if it is some kind of liberal fantasy or closet welfareprogram (and as if coal, oil and nuclear don’t get all kinds of subsidies).  Nonsense.  In 2008, more silicon was consumed globally making solar panels than microchips, said Splinter.

“We are seeing the industrialization of the solar business,” he added. “In the last 12 months, it has brought us $1.3 billion in revenues.  It is hard to build a billion-dollar business.”

Applied sells its solar-panel factories for $200 million each.  Solar panels can be made from many different semiconductors, including thin film coated onto glass with nanotechnology and from crystalline silicon.  At Applied, making these complex machines requires America’s best, high-paid talent — people who can work at the intersection of chemistry, physics and nanotechnology.

If we want to launch a solar industry here, big-time, we need to offer the kind of long-term certainty that Germany does or impose the national requirement on our utilities to generate solar power as China does or have the government build giant solar farms, the way it built the Hoover Dam, and sell the electricity.

O.K., so you don’t believe global warming is real.  I do, but let’s assume it’s not.  Here is what is indisputable: The world is on track to add another 2.5 billion people by 2050, and many will be aspiring to live American-like, high-energy lifestyles.  In such a world, renewable energy — where the variable cost of your fuel, sun or wind, is zero — will be in huge demand.

China now understands that.  It no longer believes it can pollute its way to prosperity because it would choke to death.  That is the most important shift in the world in the last 18 months.  China has decided that clean-tech is going to be the next great global industry and is now creating a massive domestic market for solar and wind, which will give it a great export platform.

In October, Applied will be opening the world’s largest solar research centre — in Xian, China. Gotta go where the customers are.  So, if you like importing oil from Saudi Arabia, you’re going to love importing solar panels from China.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Health Warning: Operate on Climate Change

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

Health Warning: Operate on Climate Change

Failure to tackle climate change could be catastrophic for health, the heads of 18 doctors’ associations warned in a joint appeal published in the British Medical Journal and The Lancet, urging governments to act decisively to roll back the threat from global warming. Representatives of the world’s 17 biggest carbon polluters have kicked off a week of high-stakes talks on climate change with a discussion at the US State Department.

Failure to tackle climate change at a key United Nations conference in Copenhagen could be catastrophic for health, the heads of 18 doctors’ associations warned yesterday.

In a joint appeal published in the British Medical Journal and The Lancet, they urged governments to act decisively to roll back the threat from global warming.

Scientists have repeatedly warned climate change could affect health in many ways, ranging from malnutrition caused by drought to the risk of cholera from flooding and the spread of mosquito-borne diseases to temperate zones.

”Doctors must take a lead in speaking out. There is a real danger that politicians will be indecisive, especially in such turbulent economic times as these. Should their response be weak, the results for international health could be catastrophic,” the doctors’ letter said.

The December 7 to 18 meeting under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to set down action for tackling heat-trapping carbon emissions beyond 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The letter was signed by the presidents of 18 colleges of physicians or academies of medicine from Australia, the United States, Britain, Canada, Ireland, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Ireland, South Africa and Scotland.

Meanwhile, in a challenge to US President Barack Obama before a key international summit in Pittsburgh, the European Union presidency in Brussels said the US must do more to tackle climate change.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said, ”I hope to speed up the talks all over the climate issue.”

He acknowledged a promise by Japan’s incoming prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, to target 25 per cent cuts in greenhouse emissions, but said he was less impressed by US efforts so far.

The EU prides itself on taking the lead in the battle against climate change, with member states agreeing to make 20 per cent cuts in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels. EU leaders are seeking a more ambitious global goal at the Copenhagen talks and are ready to commit to 30 per cent cuts if the rest of the world does likewise to attain the overall goal of restricting global warming to 2 degrees.

”We are worried because the sum of the initiatives taken so far is not enough to meet the 2-degree target,” Mr Reinfeldt said.

He also stressed the need for the financial commitments to support those efforts and to adapt to the climate change which was already inevitable.

In a draft communique drawn up for an EU summit today, European leaders say ”each country that has not yet done so should make urgently ambitious commitments to mid-term reductions and quantifiable actions” on emissions.

Money set aside for the climate fight ”will need to be scaled up urgently and substantially”. Richer nations should also contribute to financing the fight against climate change in developing nations.

The European Commission estimates the cost of fighting global warming for developing countries will reach 100 billion euros ($A170billion) a year by 2020.

Pressure is mounting for a breakthrough in what has been dubbed Climate Week, which also opens in Washington today with a ministerial-level gathering of the world’s largest 17 carbon polluters.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon will host a climate summit in New York next week, to be followed by a two-day G20 summit in Pittsburgh. AFP

Source: www.canberratimes.com.au

From AFP correspondents in Washington (18 September 2009):  

REPRESENTATIVES of the world’s 17 biggest carbon polluters have kicked off a week of high-stakes talks on climate change with a discussion at the US State Department.

The main aim of the week of meetings is to bridge differences ahead of the UN December 7-18 climate change conference in Copenhagen, where a pact for curbing global warming beyond 2012 – when Kyoto Protocol obligations on cutting emissions expire – is to be crafted.

Negotiators will meet for two days at the State Department in Washington, then move to New York next week and then on to Pittsburgh.

The meetings come as Washington tries to resume a leadership role on climate change, and follow a warning from UN chief Ban Ki-moon that world leaders need to “get moving” on climate change.

Representatives from the European Union, France, Italy, Germany and Britain were at the State Department talks on Thursday, along with officials representing Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and host, the United States.

The participants belong to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, an initiative US President Barack Obama launched in March – a sharp change from the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush, who rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the previous UN framework on climate change.

Together the countries are responsible for 80 per cent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The talks today and Saturday “will focus primarily on key areas of mitigation, adaptation and technology”, the official said.

Source: www.dailytelegraph.com.au

Build It Back Green

Posted by admin on September 19, 2009
Posted under Express 76

Build It Back Green

A new global movement recognises that scientific predictions of more intense severe weather are becoming a reality. Green Cross Australia, Australian Conservation Foundation and Alternative Technology Association are supporting bushfire affected residents in Victoria with a suite of community engagement programs and on-the-ground tools to help households make practical choices that maximise eco-resilience.

 Each major fire, cyclone and storm surge event offers the opportunity to rebuild encouraging eco-resilience in our communities. Widespread sustainable rebuilding efforts are now underway in New Orleans led by Green Cross Australia’s US affiliate, Global Green USA.

Flowerdale is an inspiring example of a Victorian community pulling together to rebuild their lives, homes, community centres and schools in a more sustainable way in the aftermath of the horrors of Black Saturday.

Flowerdale community leader Pete Williams says, “The tragedy of Black Saturday has also provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild in a sustainable way.” Flowerdale will be the hub for a region-wide effort.

 Green Cross Australia, Australian Conservation Foundation and Alternative Technology Association will support bushfire affected residents with a suite of community engagement programs and on-the-ground tools to help households make practical choices that maximise eco-resilience.

 A dedicated green building resource centre in Flowerdale will be available to thousands of impacted residents. Community planning support will be provided to assist with integrated sustainable water, waste and energy solutions.A widespread community talks program will regularly bring information to the neighborhood level.

 Monica Richter from the Australian Conservation Foundation says, “Our collaboration aims to support a lasting shift toward sustainable community adaption and resilience well into the future”.

 BIBG will deliver a green building guide and a “Build it back green” website that provides practical multi-media based post-disaster rebuilding information and tools including trade videos that address the nitty-gritty building challenges these communities are confronting.

Habitat for Humanity Australia will work with an army of volunteers to build ninety affordable sustainable homes to support low income residents using a sweat equity model.

 Green Building Council of Australia will encourage the large staff pool of its 700 national corporate members from the property development and building sector to volunteer on the ground, building new homes and sustainable community infrastructure. GBCA will also assist small businesses who wish to reduce their environmental footprint as they rebuild.

Romilly Madew CEO of the Green Building Council of Australia says: “GBCA will target all its members and affiliated industries to assist in the volunteer program. The aim of this program is to provide individuals and companies the opportunity to assist on the ground, within the bushfire regions.”

Importantly our research team from the CSIRO Climate Change Adaptation Flagship will assist residents to make material and product choices that are resilient to bushfire risk but also have strong environmental performance.

Through this project we introduce a new term which will be vital for Australia as we address the challenge of adapting to climate change while mitigating its risks. “ECO-RESILIENCE,” says CSIRO Flagship Director Andrew Ash, “is all about smart climate change adaptation, and will create exciting 21st century intellectual property.”

 BIBG partners hope to be a source of advice, leadership, practical tools and capacity to assist Victorian communities to transition and emerge as the cohesive, healthy, thriving and, now resilient, communities they once were.

Green Cross Australia CEO Mara Bun says “it is our aim that a minimum of 400 households will be supported to increase their eco-resilience with innovative hazard reducing materials, technologies and practices, while reducing their greenhouse emissions by 10 tonnes per annum.”

Source: www.greencrossaustralia.org