Renew On Line (UK) 56

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 156 July-Aug 2005

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1.   Breaking News

2. Wind moves ahead...despite everything

3. Wave and tidal power

4. Solar Power ups and downs

5. Carbon storage ‘within a decade’

6. UK Funding for Sustainable energy

7. UK Policy Developments

8. Around the World - China, Germany, USA

9. World Developments- after Kyoto

10. Nuclear News- UK, China, France

9. World Developments

Wind  grows around the world

EU cumulative wind power capacity had increased by 20% to 34,205MW by the end of 2004, up from 28,568 MW at the end of 2003.  5,703 MW of wind power capacity was installed last year, a wind turbine manufacturing turnover of Euro 5.7 bn., according to the EWEA  By the end of 2004, Germany had a total of 16,629MW installed and Spain 8,263MW.

In  the USA things have slowed a little, only adding 389 MW of capacity last year, due to uncertainty about the renewal of the Federal production Tax Credit. But with that issue now resolved, the US may return to the earlier boom pattern- 1,696 MW of capacity was installed in 2001 and 1,687 MW in 2003. By the end of 2004 the AWEA say that the US total was 6,740 MW of utility-scale turbines.

Globally, by the end of 2004, the total  wind capacity in place was  42GW.

·        Denmarks Social Democratic opposition party has launched a plan for increasing the country’s  renewable contribution to 40% of electricity consumption by 2015, chiefly by expanding offshore wind capacity by 3GW.

IPPR wants a transitional strategy

The UK’s Institute of Public Policy Research has proposed that the US and Australia should adopt domestic mandatory emission cap-and-trade systems compatible with the EU or a future Kyoto trading scheme, as an interim transitional ‘parallel track’ to the Kyoto Protocol which would integrate them into a new global climate plan after 2012.

The report ‘Climate Change Policy Beyond Kyoto: A new global plan’ argues that developing countries should take on different levels of commitment according to national circumstances. Initially they would aim to decouple economic growth from growth in emissions, subsequently adopt targets to reduce the emission intensity of their economies and ultimately take on binding emission reduction targets.

G8: 25%green by 2025

'If we put forward, as a solution to climate change, something which involves drastic cuts in growth or standards of living, it matters not how justified it is, it simply won’t be agreed to.’  So said Tony Blair at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January. But he added, fortunately science and technology could ‘provide the means to ensure that we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions without damaging our economy. Indeed over time they provide the prospect of significant business and economic opportunities’.

He pointed to the European Emission trading scheme as an example and also talked of developing ‘a package of practical measures, largely focused on technology, to cut emissions’,  particularly for Asia & Latin America. Adopting a much more radical stance,  and with the Gleneagles G8 summit in July in mind, a report by the UK’s Institute or Public Policy Research, produced for the International Climate Change Taskforce (which also includes the Centre for American Progress and the Australia Institute.) called on the major industrialised nations to pledge to use renewable energy to meet 25% of their electricity needs by 2025.  It calls on the G8 and other large economies, including from the developing world, to pursue agreements on technologies and policies that will lead to major reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, include shifting agricultural subsidies from food crops to biofuels and the promotion of more efficient cars.  R&D for low-carbon energy supplies should be doubled by 2010, subsidies for fossil fuel should be phased out and all industrialised nations should introduce mandatory “cap-and-trade” schemes for carbon emissions similar to the EU-ETS. In the US, the report says, this could be done through the Lieberman-McCain climate stewardship act. Although this failed to win enough support in the US senate last year, the report argues that the bill could provide the USA with a route into a climate change agreement when the first phase of Kyoto ends.

After Kyoto

With the Kyoto climate change protocol now in force, thoughts have turned to what happens next. It didn’t help that the UK fell foul of the EU by trying to raise the level of emissions in is National Allocation Plan for the EU-Emission Trading System (the EU said no way), but the UK, as the current G8 chair, has nevertheless tried to lead the pack in shaping the next phase of Kyoto- post 2012. One possibility is that a new grouping will emerge of the major non-Kyoto signatory- the USA- plus some of the key countries for whom cuts are not mandatory under the protocol- China, India and Brazil. They might develop a new approach for the next phase more along US lines- stressing the development and transfer (from the US) of new technologies.  The US is investing $5.8 bn in climate change related programmes and has adopted a technology-led approach: see later. 

Richard Boucher, from the US State Dept., said: “While the US and countries with binding emissions restrictions under the Kyoto Protocol are taking different paths, our destination is the same, and compatible with other efforts”.

But critics point out that the US wants to use new technology just to reduce its carbon intensity (carbon emissions/GNP) not its total energy use- which will grow- and although this approach may appeal to countries with rapidly growing economies like China, it won’t be enough to stop climate change.

Global Dimming

2005 looks like being the year in which climate change really started to be taken seriously, which has led to a redoubling of  effort by those who claim the science is either not yet proved or actually wrong, including science fiction writer Michael Crichton! (see the Reviews section of Renew 156). However the science is gradually coming together- and may help to explain some of the anomalies that contrarians have pointed to.  For example, the fact that in some areas temperatures have been falling.  It is now believed that the pollution haze that we create from various activities reduces the amount of sunlight that reaches the earths surface so that in some areas average temperatures are reduced and overall global temperatures are lower than they might otherwise be. In some locations the sunlight reductions have been quite large- 10% or more. Indeed in some cases, much more. According to a recent Horizon Documentary, ‘this may explain why the world has not already warmed more strongly- the cooling effect of particle pollution has been offsetting the warming from carbon dioxide’.   It added ‘If so, then we are in for far faster warming in the future as particle emissions are brought under control while greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise’.  The release of dust and sulphate aerosols from volcanoes is already known to disguise global warming. But this is an extra man made effect- which we will want to repair since it reduces agricultural productivity. However then we expose ourselves to the full in impact of global warming.


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