Renew On Line (UK) 65

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 165 Jan-Feb 2007
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Energy Review-RO changes

2. Stern report

3. Policy developments

4. Around the UK

5. World Developments

6. EU Developments

7. World roundup

8. Nuclear Developments

5. World Developments

Climate Denial

Peter Doran, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois-Chicago, recently wrote an article in the New York Times expressing dismay that climate change skeptics had been citing his work to back their contrarian arguments. His team had reported localized cooling in one region of the Antarctic Continent over four years from 1996-2000, but he says ‘our results have been misused as ‘evidence’ against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel ‘State of Fear’ and by Ann Coulter in her latest book, ‘Godless: The Church of Liberalism’. Search my name on the Web, and you will find pages of links to everything from climate discussion groups to Senate policy committee documents- all citing my 2002 study as reason to doubt that the earth is warming. One recent Web column even put words in my mouth. I have never said that ‘the unexpected colder climate in Antarctica may possibly be signaling a lessening of the current global warming cycle’. I have never thought such a thing either.’

Meanwhile, the California based Anti-Global Warming Petition Project has issued the following pronouncement: ‘Human use of coal, oil, & natural gas has not measurably warmed the atmosphere, and the extrapolation of current trends shows that it will not significantly do so in the foreseeable future. It does, however, release CO2, which accelerates the growth rates of plants and also permits plants to grow in drier regions. Animal life, which depends upon plants, also flourishes. As coal, oil, and natural gas are used to feed and lift from poverty vast numbers of people across the globe, more CO2 will be released into the atmosphere. This will help to maintain and improve the health, longevity, prosperity, and productivity of all people. Human activities are believed to be responsible for the rise in CO2 level of the atmosphere. Mankind is moving the carbon in coal, oil, and natural gas from below ground to the atmosphere and surface, where it is available for conversion into living things. We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of the CO2 increase. Our children will enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life as that with which we now are blessed. This is a wonderful and unexpected gift from the Industrial Revolution.’ Source: New West Bozeman

Climate fix: use big guns?

Last year Paul Crutzen, winner of the 1995 prize for chemistry, published an essay in the journal Climatic Change in which he suggested we use either giant guns or balloons to inject large amounts (5m tonnes p.a.) of sulphur into the stratosphere, 10km or more above earths surface, at which height it turns into sulphate aerosols which would reflect sunlight back into space, counteracting the man-made warming. This massive and vastly expensive technical fix has attracted some critical comment, not least concerning the ‘collateral’ environmental damage that might result.

Far better, most felt, to reduce carbon dioxide production. And if you really wanted a technical fix, then how about Stephen Salters idea of using wind powered devices on floating derricks to vapourise sea water to create a mist which would increase atmospheric reflection of sunlight. As a correspondent on the Guardian web site noted ‘By evaporating 50 kilograms of sea water per second, enough cloud cover can be provided to offset a year’s worth of carbon increase’.

Adaptation could be ‘a diversion’

Former US Vice President Al Gore, who has been touring the world with his campaign for action on climate change (see Groups, Renew 164), said in Helsinki that he was worried that adaptation to climate change could serve as an excuse for not reducing emissions. ‘We have to solve it, and there are some people who urge adaptation instead of prevention, and that formulation must be rejected’. But he added that it was only morally responsible to have an appropriate amount of attention paid to helping poor nations to cope with the changes already taking place. Reuters 6/9/2006

However the President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Frances Cairncross, took a somewhat different line at the 2006 BA Festival of Science: ‘Climate change is inevitable, and policies to help societies adapt to a warmer future are badly needed. Even maximal deployment of the best technology cannot stop climate change.’

COP12 Sadly, the UNFCCC Climate meeting in Kenya in Nov. didn’t achieve much on Kyoto II.

More in Renew 166

Global progress: REN21 -2006 update

The REN21 Renewable Energy Global Status Report’s 2006 Update is, like the first version last year (see Renew 161), very upbeat on progress. It notes that 2005 was another record year for investment in the renewable energy sector, up from USD 30 billion in 2004 to USD 38 billion last year. It says that ‘there are clear signs of a broadening and deepening of global renewable energy development. In the case of wind power, for example, ten countries added over 300 MW, up from five countries that had done so in 2004. This good record from the investors’ and developers’ side, though, is no reason for the people at the policy front to become overly relaxed and twiddle thumbs.’

On the international policy process, it reports that the St. Petersburg G8 Summit produced the Action Plan on Energy Security, and that renewable energy was given high attention in a special heading in the document. ‘The world leaders have recognised the important role of renewable energy in combating climate change and in enhancing energy security’.

Well yes and no- there were no targets agreed and nuclear got an edge back in (see Renew 164), but at least things are moving ahead a bit. REN21 says that ‘participation in the follow-up of the International Action Programme implementation has further increased. The REN21 Secretariat has now received 125 reports out of the total of 197 actions. The response ratio is at 64% and still rising. The implementation analysis shows that such action-oriented but non-binding commitments do work and are taken seriously.’

The 2006 REN21 report is at:

PV to rule the world

Japan’s Sharp Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of solar photovoltaic cells, expects the cost of generating solar power to halve by 2010 and to be comparable with that of nuclear power by 2030. Sharp’s president, Katsuhiko Machida, told Reuters ‘By the year 2010 we’ll be able to halve generation costs. By 2020 we expect a further reduction- half of 2010- and by 2030 we expect half the 2020 level. By 2030 the cost will be comparable to electricity produced by a nuclear power plant.’ Asked how the costs were likely to compare with those for producing electricity from fossil fuels such as coal, Machida replied: ‘Fossil fuel resources will be totally out by then’. Source: Reuters 1/9/06

...or will it be wave power?

Wave energy will become commercially competitive between 2010 and 2015, in unit sizes of 500-1,000kW and project scale of 15-50MW, according to ‘Emerging Supply-Side Energy Technologies’ prepared for the New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development by PB Power Quality System. The report looks at likely costs and availability of 13 emerging energy supply technologies. It says tidal will be commercial by 2015, in unit sizes of 300-1,100 kW and project scale of 5-30 MW, Geothermal by 2010 at 5-25MW scale, ethanol from waste by 2010-2015 & ethanol from woody biomass by 2015-2020, but PV not before 2020. Source: ReFocus Weekly.

*The World Bank invested over US$705m in 2005-6 in renewables and efficiency projects, ‘substantially greater’ than in previous years.

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