Renew On Line (UK) 59
Extracts from NATTA's journal
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12. World News
The New Climate Pact
Last years surprise announcement by the USA, China, India, South Korea, Japan and Australia of a new ‘Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate’ aimed to “develop, deploy and transfer existing and emerging clean technology”, (see Renew 157) has produced some interesting reactions- and rationalisations. Some saw it as valuable in that at least the US and Australia, who had refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol, were now doing something. It was also seen as good to have China and India on board. After all, the US and Australia had claimed that it was unfair that Kyoto did not apply to major developing countries like India and China, whose emissions were increasing rapidly. But more worryingly, all parties to the new Pact have made clear that they would not sign up to emission reduction schemes which reduced their economic growth- and the new pact is voluntary and does not have any emission reduction targets. So what is it really going to offer? Alexander Downer, Australian foreign minister commented: “Our concern is that in the end Kyoto is simply not going to do the job as it’s currently structured. Our view is you really need to focus on technological change to solve the climate change problem... and you do have to involve the major developing countries, which are very substantial emitters. So having India and China involved in this process- at this stage it’s just the beginning- I think it’s very prospective.”
Japan highlighted the pacts focus on the transfer of clean energy technology to less developed nations, while China called the pact a “win-win solution” for developing countries.
The UK government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, said he doubted the new deal could work without setting caps on emissions, but said it should be seen as a sign of progress in the climate change debate, particularly on the part of the US.
However environmental campaigners have criticised the new voluntary pact as likely to be ineffectual and serving the interests of industrialised nations. The leader of Australia’s opposition Green party, Bob Brown, dismissed the agreement as a “coal pact” involving four of the world’s largest coal producers- China, the US, India and Australia. He added “This is all about taxpayers’ money being diverted from developing clean, renewable technologies to try to make burning coal less dirty”. Certainly Carbon sequestration from coal plants is likely to be one of the technologies likely to be emphasised. The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) said developing cleaner technology was no substitute for signing up to Kyoto: “A deal on climate change that doesn’t limit pollution is the same as a peace plan that allows guns to be fired”. And certainly the inclusion of nuclear as an eligible technology is unlikely to endear the scheme to many environmentalists.
Australia hosted a ministerial meeting of Pact members in Nov, aiming to put more flesh on the idea. In their initial vision statement the partners had promised to “explore ways to reduce the greenhouse intensity of our economies; build human and institutional capacity to strengthen cooperative efforts; and seek ways to engage the private sector”.
Areas for collaboration may include energy efficiency, clean coal, integrated gasification combined cycle, liquefied natural gas, carbon capture & storage, combined heat and power, methane capture and use, civilian nuclear power, geothermal, rural/village energy systems, advanced transportation, building and home construction & operation, bioenergy, agriculture & forestry, hydropower, wind power, solar power, and other renewables. But no budgets have been agreed- it’s a voluntary scheme based on collaboration and partnerships. And U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said it was “a complement, not an alternative”, to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
US 'already doing it’
Commenting on the new Asian-Pacific pact- see above- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick claimed that USA was already showing what could be done: “to give you a sense of our own commitment to this overall process, the United States under the Bush administration has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 0.3 % during the first three years. And just to give you a set of contrasts, carbon dioxide emissions in all the other G8 countries increased during this period, for example the EU 15 by 3.6 % and the EU 25 by 3.4%”.
He evidently chose his reference years carefully. US CO2 emissions have been rising continually but fell in 2001/02- no doubt due to 9/11 and economic retrenchment. Since then however emissions have begun to rise again- and were up by 1.8% in 2004/5. Mind you, so have the UK’s- see earlier. Whether the new tech-led pact will help to improve things in the US- and elsewhere- is unclear. It may depend on which technologies are transferred. Interestingly, Raoul Inderjit Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, said, that he was “particularly pleased that new technologies such as nano technologies, advanced biotechnology, next generation nuclear fusion and fusion technology have been included for collaboration between the partners”.
In the run up to the Conference of Parties to the UN Climate Change accord, held in Canada in Dec., to discuss post-2012 Kyoto II ideas, Tony Blair indicated that he was still keen on binding targets, but the USA pushed its ‘technology rather than mandatory emissions caps’ approach- stressing clean coal/carbon capture & storage, and said it would not back mandatory targets .
..or should it be in?
The major US company General Electric has launched a $1.5bn Ecomagination programme to explore environmentally sound technology and has a called on governments ‘to set meaningful common standards’, in terms of emissions around the world, so as to provide a stable regulatory environment in which innovation can be promoted.
In the event, at the Montreal meeting, the US dragged its feet, but at the last minute agreed on a loose commitment to further discussions, but not to negotiations on targets.
Climate change insurance costs
The Association of British Insurers has concluded that, on the basis of international scientific research, the worldwide costs of major storms is likely to increase by as much as two-thirds taking the total cost in an average year to £15billion ($ 27bn). It noted that by 2040, the average annual cost of hurricanes in the US will rise from $9.5bn (£5.2bn) to $11.4bn. In a bad year, hurricanes in the US will cost $71bn in 2040 and $104bn in 2080 in insured costs.
* Siberia thaws: for the first time since the ice age, frozen peat bogs have been melting in
Siberia-releasing trapped methane- a powerful greenhouse gas.
Exxon still in denial…
Solar and wind energy are ‘inconsequential’, according to the chairman of ExxonMobil. Even if renewables had double-digit growth rates, they would supply only 1% of the world’s energy needs in 25 years, says Lee Raymond in the company’s internal magazine, the Lamp. “There are many alternative forms of energy that people talk about that may be interesting, but they are not consequential on the scale that will be needed and they may never have a significant impact on the energy balance.”
…while BP Saves In 2002, BP pledged to cut CO2 emissions by 10% below 1990 levels by 2012, and claimed it could be done at no net cost. But, BP’s CO2 reduction strategy has saved it about $650m so far- mostly via efficiency gains.
12% from wind by 2020
Wind turbines could generate 12% of the world’s power, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. It says that wind has the maturity, clout and global muscle to deliver deep cuts in CO2, while providing a hedge against fluctuating fossil fuel prices and reduced energy import dependence. GWEC and Greenpeace have launched ‘Windforce 12’, a global industry blueprint that describes how wind can supply 1,250 GW of electricity by 2020 and save a cumulative 10,771 million tonnes of CO2.
Installed wind capacity in Europe already saves 50 MT of CO2 each year and the industry expects to deliver one-third of the EU’s Kyoto reduction commitment by 2010- and it says the global value of the turbine market will grow from Euro 8 billion now to Euro 80 billion a year by 2020.
The report says that 13 countries can “play a leadership role to help unlock the major market deployment envisaged by this industry blueprint,” including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey, the UK and the US. It notes that “these markets are at an early but developing stage, and provide an insight into where major wind growth may be achieved”.
By 2020, ‘Wind Force 12’ estimates that 1,254,030 MW of wind capacity will be installed, with an annual installation of 158,728 MW, with total output of 3,054 TWh. Installation costs in 2020 will be Euro 512 per kW capacity, the industry will create 2.3 million job years, and generation costs will be 2.45cents/kWh.
However, with wind capacity globally having now gone beyond 50GW, it’s not surprising that there have been some problems emerging in some areas, such as northern Europe, with matching the output to local grid systems. It’s really a problem of success- too much power at times from the wind systems- and it highlights what Windpower Monthly (WPM July 2005) called ‘The poor functioning of electricity markets on mainland Europe’ which it says are not adapting to the new technologies well. WPM note that ‘transmission system operators in the north decided to blame wind power for overloading the networks’, but argue that in fact, some operators are talking up the wind problems, as a way to ensure that they do not have to meet the cost of any grid strengthening or new grids required, some of which are needed anyway for other reasons. The solution, it says, is to change the market rules. Otherwise the handful of powerful energy operators who are trying to dominate the market may be able to squeeze wind out.
WPM’s July Editorial puts it like this: ‘Scare stories about wind power have a convenient habit of popping up whenever the energy incumbents are feeling particularly threatened by its success. No sooner had the German energy agency published a huge and highly significant report detailing how little it actually takes to run a reliable power system with large volumes of wind generation, than we are hit by nightmare stories indicating the opposite. Wind is running wild in the far north of the European mainland, we are told, flooding networks with unwanted electricity, pushing the high voltage lines in Germany’s neighbouring countries to their limits, and threatening blackouts in the Netherlands.’
It went on ‘Like most nightmares, expose this one to daylight and it dissipates fast. There has been no sudden and unexpected surge in German wind power generation in the past six months, and network capacity in northern Europe is just as robust as it has always been. The problem lies not in too much wind power, but in too little attention paid to re-shaping power trading arrangements for its efficient dispatch.’
* 150GW of wind in California?
California has the potential to double its installed wind capacity to 4GW within five years, according to the California Energy Commission. And longer term, the wind potential could be as much as 150 GW- assuming the development of improved technology which can use lower wind speeds, and 100m hub heights.
Green power rivals nuclear
Amory Lovins from the US Rocky Mountain Institute has produced a damning critique of nuclear power, arguing that, far from being insignificant rivals, renewable energy and decentralised energy were outpacing it. He estimates that at present globally there is about 266 gigawatts of mostly gas-fired decentralized cogeneration in place (emitting ~30–80% less CO2, depending on fuel), plus 47 GW of wind, 47 GW of small hydro, 37 GW biomass/waste, 10 GW of geothermal, and 4GW peak of solar PV.
And he says the overall rate of growth is huge: ‘In 2004, decentralized cogeneration and renewables, excluding big hydro dams (any over 10 MW), added 5.9 times as much world-wide net capacity as nuclear power added, and raised annual electricity production 2.9 times as much as nuclear power did. By the end of 2004, these decentralized, non-nuclear competitors’ global installed capacity totaled ~411 GW- 12% more capacity than global nuclear plants’ 366 GW- and produced ~92% as much electricity. Thus the “minor” alternative sources actually overtook nuclear’s global capacity in 2003, rivaled its 2004 and will match its 2005 output, and should exceed its 2010 output by 43%.’
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