Renew On Line (UK) 60

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue160 March-April2006

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Intermittency- not a big issue?

2. Marine renewables- tidal and wave progress

3. Wind power- problems and successes

4. The Energy Review- UK split on nuclear power

5. NFFO fund raided – Treasury helps itself

6. Microgen for all – micro CHP in action

7. LCBP gets £30m  - Skills gap? 

8. UK roundup – local wind and solar projects

9. Global Developments - Clinton Global Initiative

10. Europe - France, Spain, Portugal, Germany

11. Around the World - USA, Canada, China

12. Nuclear News- Chernobyl revisited, US Safety

9. Global Developments

50GW of wind

The wind industry has reached a 50 GW milestone of global installed capacity, which, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, will generate approx. 100TWh of electricity. The industry currently employs 100,000 people. The cost of generating electricity from wind has dropped 50% in the past 15 years and, based on current trends in major markets, it will be cost-competitive with conventional fuels within a decade.

Climate Battles

The polar ice pack has shrunk by 30% since 1978 and melting is speeding up according to NASA satellite studies, and Climate Change may have almost doubled the storm threat according to Prof. Kerry Emanuel, of the atmospheric, oceans & climate research dept. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a paper in Nature (Vol. 436, 4 Aug 2005). Although climate change is not likely to influence the frequency of such storms, he says it can effect their intensity. He found that tropical storms have almost doubled in destructive potential in the past 30 years since ocean surfaces have become warmer. Sadly, the residents of New Orleans and environs found that out. But US reactions to the Katrina disaster indicate that responses to climate change might be mixed. With oil refineries hit, one of  the initial reactions was to suspend some environmental emission controls to allow for the use of high sulphur fuels. And there has been renewed talk of lifting the ban on oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And a return to nuclear...

Things were not too much better at the UN Climate Change negotiations in Montreal in Dec. US climate negotiator Harlan Watsons’ starting position was ‘there is more than one way to address climate change. I reject the premise that the Kyoto-like agreement is necessary to address the issue. There are many approaches. We are on a different one from the Kyoto parties. We’re all coming forward at the end- the main objective is to lower emissions in the long run. The United States is actively pursuing our climate change strategy. We are in the implementation phase & we are spending approximately $5bn annually- more than any other country- on science and technology.’

But Margaret Beckett claimed that ‘without mechanisms in the form of compulsory action, such as targets to cut emissions, existing and new technologies will never be rolled out on the scale we need. To be absolutely clear: the U.K. believes voluntary measures can be helpful, but compulsory action is a surer way of delivering results. This is why the U.K. is a strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol.’

In the end an agreement was reached to continue discussions, but with no commitment to negotiations on emissions targets: full ‘COP 11’ report in Renew 161.

Clinton Global Initiative

Former US president Bill Clinton, has launched a Global Initiative aimed at improving the lot of the developing nations. Speaking at an Initiative event in New York last Sept, Margaret Beckett said a UK-funded study on Africa showed that existing climate variability already hampered development efforts, adding that it would get worse: ‘Climate variability and climate change put some $10-20bn of net overseas development assistance in developing countries at risk each year’

In something of a U-turn, Tony Blair seemed keen on a ‘post-Kyoto’ technology-led approach to dealing with climate change, as backed by Bush and the new Asian Pacific pact (see Renew 158). But there were disagreements about technological priorities. Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said: ‘How are we going to satisfy the extraordinary need for energy in really rapidly developing countries? I don’t think solar and wind are going to do it. We are going to have to find a way to harness all energy supplies- that includes civilian nuclear power.’ 

 But Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, warned of the dangers of proliferation- giving terrorists opportunities to steal nuclear products they could use to make “dirty” bombs. Bill Clinton agreed: ‘The push to bring back nuclear power as an antidote to global warming is a big problem. If you build more nuclear power plants we have toxic waste at least, bomb-making at worse.’

Global Energy Imbalance

Developed countries consumed 6,112,050 thousand metric tonnes of oil equivalent from all sources in 2001, developing nations only consumed 2,789,194 t-mtoe, says the World Resources Institute in ‘The Wealth of the Poor: Managing Ecosystems to Fight Poverty.’ Per capita consumption in developed countries was 4,600 kg versus 828 kg of oil equivalent in undeveloped, per capita of electricity was 7,578 kWh, and 896 kWh respectively. Fossil fuels dominated: 84% in developed countries. 74% in developing nations, while solid biomass was 2% & 22% of energy respectively, nuclear was 10% & 1%; hydro  2% in both areas. The other renewables- 0.7% of total energy in both areas. Source: ReFocus weekly

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