Renew On Line (UK) 63
|Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 163 Sept-Oct 2006
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
11. World developments
The Earth’s temperature could rise far higher than previously predicted, according to a draft of the next report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It says that it is proving hard to place a reliable upper limit on how quickly the atmosphere will warm as CO2 levels increase. The three previous reports assumed that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would increase average global temperature by between 1.5 and 4.5C. by 2100. However, some computer models have now foreseen increases as high as 11C. But the real issue is what it the chance of this happening. If it’s a low probability, then do we still adopt a precautionary approach and act as if it was definitely going to happen?
G8 and the GNEP
The July gathering of the Group of Eight industrialised nations (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US) in St. Petersburg was presented with a strong case for both renewables- see below- and the expansion of nuclear power, based on a draft initially produced for a meeting of energy ministers March in Moscow. As current G8 chair, Russia hosted the meeting, and was clearly keen press ahead with nuclear. The draft action plan, was leaked earlier this year. It claimed that ‘the development of nuclear energy would promote global energy security,’ and ‘would allow realising the potential of nuclear energy as a virtually inexhaustible energy source, optimising economic conditions of nuclear performance and alleviating problems related to non-proliferation and nuclear wastes’.
The latter point seems a little odd, given the current battle over Iran's nuclear programme, which Russia is supporting. But the draft action plan called for the ‘development and introduction of innovative nuclear power systems with natural safety barriers’, which it said could prevent nuclear material from being used to create weapons. It went on ‘provided that the countries comply with their obligations and adhere to non-proliferation standards, we intend to make additional joint efforts to ensure non-discriminatory access to this energy source’.
However, a German government spokesman told the FT (16/3/06) that the paper, which appears to have been drafted by the Russians, ‘does not represent Germany’s position at all’ and the proposals on nuclear power were ‘not acceptable to Germany’. The FT added ‘Although all G8 countries have a nuclear industry, opinion is divided over whether resurgent nuclear power can address concerns about energy security and climate change associated with the burning of fossil fuels’.
Certainly there are major worries about proliferation. Tom Burke, visiting professor at Imperial College, told the FT: ‘There is no way that you can deliver atoms for peace without making them available for war. That is the reality. What matters is the knowledge and skills, and once that is spread, the nuclear weapons genie is out of the bottle- as the Iranians keep demonstrating.’
But that’s where the US-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership comes in. As reported in Renew 162, this aims to offer small to medium scaled nuclear plants to developing countries with the spent fuel being returned to the US for reprocessing, so that the plutonium could be extracted for the US to use in a new generation of fast neutron reactors.
US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman commented ‘We have the choice of a game of catch up or to initiate a more secure approach to the world. The program is at a very early stage but the initial consultations with France, Russia, China are encouraging.’
He said the partnership would be overseen by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. ‘We envision the GNEP as an international collaboration that seeks to increase the availability of clean emissions-free power for the world, reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation, and decrease the volume and radio toxicity of nuclear waste’.
On the distribution side, Bodman said, Washington proposed working ‘with our international partners to develop a fuel services programme to supply developing nations with reliable access to nuclear fuel in exchange for a commitment to forego the development of enrichment and recycling technology’. Bush has recently proposed spending $250m next year on such a programme.
G8: Innovative Energy Technology
‘An important factor in ensuring energy security is an accelerated market entry of innovative energy generation and utilization technologies reducing negative environmental impact. We recognize that governments, in partnership with the private sector, play an important role in that process by supporting market-led approaches in policy of encouraging accelerating investments in new cleaner energy technologies. Since hydrocarbons are estimated to cover over 80% of total energy consumption in the next 30 years, it is there that we have to focus our efforts to promote an effective advanced hydrocarbon economy based on innovative technologies. These include technologies for deep-sea oil and gas production, oil production from bitumen sands, clean coal burning, CO2 capture and storage, extraction of gas from gas-hydrate accumulations and production of synthetic fuel. In parallel we encourage active measures to develop broader mix of ecologically safe and reliable energy supplies. Other promising technologies capable, under certain conditions, to significantly expand energy supply and make it more sustainable and environmentally safe, include construction of advanced electricity networks, superconductivity, development of nanotechnology, as well as thermonuclear energy. We welcome the signing of the Agreement on Construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. The earliest market entry of these technologies, taking into account the level of maturity reached by the several projects, will be facilitated by closer relations between fundamental and applied research. Securing reliable supply of renewable clean energy for future generations justifies, as a first step, elaboration of a concept of transition to hydrogen economy including in the framework of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy. We also express our support for elaborating common international standards and regulations aimed at national rules harmonization in the field of commercial development of hydrogen power and security requirements’.
From the draft discussed at the March G8 Energy Ministers meeting in Moscow
G8 ‘must back solar’
Ex-USSR President Gorbachev’s Green Cross International has urged the G8 to create a $50bn Global Solar Fund over 10 years to improve energy security. He claimed that ‘Nuclear power is neither the answer to modern energy problems nor a panacea for climate change challenges’.
He noted that direct subsidies to nuclear energy were $115 bn in the USA between 1947 and1999 with a further $145 bn in indirect subsidies- while total subsidies to wind and solar were in this period were only $5.5 bn.
While visiting New Zealand earlier this year Tony Blair seemed to signal that, given the need for a new international goal of stabilising temperatures and carbon emissions at present levels when the existing Kyoto agreement expires in 2012, it might be prudent to focus on investment in cleaner energy technologies, rather than mandatory emission caps and targets. That was a way of bringing China, India and the USA on board. Although equally you could say it would represent a capitulation to the line adopted by the US-led Asian Pacific Climate pact. Mike Childs, of Friends of the Earth, told the Times On Line: ‘In attempting to try to bring Bush on board he’s moving so far that we might end up without a coherent framework. The trouble with saying we need new technology without having targets is that the business community won’t invest. It will keep its money in coal, oil and gas.’ Blair did however sing the praises of the EU Emission Trading System, which relies on caps, although he added ‘there is an issue as to whether that system continues after 2012’.
Global Renewables x 4
Markets for biofuels, photovoltaics, wind energy, and fuel cells are poised to expand four-fold globally in the next decade, according to an Annual Trends Report from research firm Clean Edge. The report says that global clean energy revenues rose to $40 billion in 2005, but coud reach $167 bn by 2015. Markets for solar PV are expected to grow from $11.2 bn in 2005 to $51.1 bn by 2015; wind power installations will expand from $11.8 bn last year to $48.5 bn in 2015; and fuel cells and distributed hydrogen will grow from $1.2 bn in 2005 to $15.1 bn by 2015, the report finds.
REFIT for Ontario
The Ontario government has adopted a Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (‘REFIT’) approach to supporting a significant expansion of renewable based on long-term Standard Offer Contracts. It’s essentially the same policy that’s worked so well in Germany and many other EU countries. Paul Gipe, the Canadian wind energy Consultant commented ‘This is the most progressive renewable energy policy in North America in over two decades’.
Ontario’s Standard Offer programme will provide C$0.11/kWh to producers of wind, biomass and small hydro energy and C$0.42/kWh for solar photovoltaic energy. The term of the contracts will be 20 years, and there will be an inflation adjustment. The residential retail price for electricity in Ontario is under C$0.06/kWh.
There is no limit to the number of projects that can apply for a contract, but the size of each project is capped at 10 MW. The contracts are available to anyone, including homeowners, businesses and commercial energy producers. The electricity produced would be fed into the electricity grid. Gipe said the incentives for solar were roughly half what the German incentives pay but are still more than California’s new long-term rebate plan and the U.S. federal government’s tax credit combined. And, he added, the solar resources in Ontario are in fact better than they are in Germany.
Source: RenewabEnergyAccess.com & Gipe
*The Three Gorges Project in China has signed agreements with Cixi City, Linhai City and Daishan County in eastern Zhejiang Province for offshore windfarms. It also got approval from the National Development & Reform Commission for a 200MW windfarm in Yancheng, in E. China’s Jiangsu Province.
* The Bahrain World Trade Center on the Manama seafront is near completion, with the 50-storey twin towers using three wind turbines to generate 15% of the power for the building. The turbines are supported by bridges spanning the space between the two towers.
* Ocean Power Delivery is on track to secure a £20m contract for a 10MW Pelamis wave plant in South Africa following breakdown of a nuclear power station which led to blackouts. It could lead to 30 MW wave farm in Mossel Bay. OPD is also looking at other sites in South Africa capable of producing up to 700MW. The US energy giant GE has now bought into OPD.
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