Renew On Line (UK) number 71
|Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 171 Jan/Feb 2008
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
8. Worldwide developments
Though the US is not a party to the Kyoto protocol, last May President Bush pledged to ‘convene a series of meetings of nations that produce most greenhouse gas emissions’ and by the end of 2008 to ‘set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases’.
The first meeting was in Washington last Sept., with 15 countries, including Russia, China, India, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, along with the EU. The aim is now to reach agreement on voluntary approaches by the summer. With the US view being that ‘while all countries must do their part to reduce emissions, we should not seek to impose on any countries measures or frameworks that thwart their efforts to meet the legitimate aspirations of their people for better and more prosperous lives’, the outcome is likely to be limited. Meanwhile the US has lost an ally, with a Labor government now in Australia- who say they will now ratify Kyoto.
Fuel scarcity may avoid climate change
While horror stories continue to emerge about the likely scale and impacts of climate change (e.g. see the Big Melt www.carbonequity.info/PDFs/Arctic.pdf), some say that fossil fuel reserves are not as large as thought, so, although that will lead to a major energy crisis, at least the climate/emission problems may be lessened.
In a presentation on ‘Hubbert’s Peak, The Question of Coal, and Climate Change’, Dave Rutledge, from California Institute of Technology, argues that ‘currently there is a vigorous debate about fossil-fuel production, and whether it will be sufficient in the future. At the same time, there is an intense effort to predict the contribution to future climate change that will result from consuming this fuel. There has been surprisingly little effort to connect these two. Do we have a fossil-fuel supply problem? Do we have a climate-change problem? Do we have both? Which comes first?’
In his presentation he suggests that ‘trends for future fossil-fuel production are less than any of the 40 UN scenarios considered in climate-change assessments. The implication is that producer limitations could provide useful constraints in climate modelling.’
He also shows that ‘the time constants for fossil-fuel exhaustion are about an order of magnitude smaller than the time constant for temperature change. This means that to lessen the effects of climate change associated with future fossil-fuel use, reducing ultimate production is more important than slowing it down.’
Well yes, in the end its the total amount of emissions that matter, although the rate is also important. See http://rutledge.caltech.edu/ for the full presentation
A blast from the past The University of Alberta website reports that a recent DNA study of ancient materials in ice samples from Greenland by amongst others geologist Dr Martin Sharp ‘suggests temperatures in the southern Greenland boreal forests 450,000 to 900,000 years ago ranged between 10 C in summer and -17 C in winter, much warmer than current temperatures. Also, the reduced glacier cover in that region means the global ocean was probably between one and two metres higher during that time than it is today.’ It adds ‘Sharp, who has supported the idea that current global warming is the result of human activity, believes the new research offers evidence that climate warming on the current scale is possible through natural conditions. However, he cautions that this research does not prove that ongoing global warming is not human induced.’ It quotes Sharp as saying ‘It could mean that our current warming is the result of both natural processes and human influences, and we may be heading for even bigger temperature increases than we previously thought’.
A renewable electricity future will be less expensive than a fossil-fuelled one, concludes a joint report from EREC, the European Renewable Energy Council and Greenpeace.
The investments will be earned back ten times by fuel cost savings. Renewables could save US$180 bn a year by 2030 and reduce CO2 emissions by half, according to ‘Future Investment? A sustainable investment plan for the power sector to save the climate.’ The alternative programme would require an annual investment of $22 bn in green power plants above the current global expenditure, but the savings in fuel costs would be $202 bn per year. Converting the annual subsidies of $250 bn from fossil fuels to renewables would cover all costs.
The report argues that some of the technologies are already competitive and ‘their economics will further improve as they develop technically, as the price of fossil fuels continues to rise and as their saving of carbon dioxide emissions is given a monetary value globally’. In parallel ‘Exploitation of the large energy efficiency potential will slow down the rapidly growing electricity demand from the current 13,675 TWh/a to 26,000 TWh/a by 2050’. It adds ‘the reserves of renewable energy that are technically accessible globally are large enough to provide about six times more energy than the world currently consumes forever’
Wave & Tidal round the World
Korean ‘Seaturtle’ tidal project Voith Siemens Hydro and Renetec, a Korean renewables development company, have agreed a joint venture for tidal current technology located in the South Korean province of Wando where they are to build a 600 MW tidal current power plant. It will be set up with turbines mounted on a bridge-like construction. According the Modern Power Systems (23/7/07) ‘each bridge can support up to three turbines with a rated capacity of 1 MW each and the crossbeam can be rotated to allow the turbines to follow the flow direction of high and low tides. The crossbeam can also be lifted from the water for maintenance purposes.’ It added that ‘the so-called ‘Seaturtle’ project envisages a park of tidal current power plants consisting of a series of these bridges that are due to be commissioned from 2010-2015’.
Spanish Wavegen project WaveGen’s Oscillating Water Column (OWC) technology is to form the basis of the world’s first commercial breakwater wave energy plant, to be built on the Spanish Atlantic coast. The Basque Energy Board, Ente Vasco de Energia, is behind the 300kW development which will see 16 Wells turbines integrated into a new breakwater being constructed by the local government in Mutriku, in Northern Spain. It should be commissioned in the winter of 2008/2009. Wavegen, based in Scotland, is a subsidary of Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation. Last year, it announced a deal with RWE’s UK arm npower renewables that was expected to lead to the development of a 3 MW wave energy plant on the Hebridean island of Lewis. Wavegens ‘Limpet’ OWC technology has been operating commercially on the Isle of Islay since 2000.
More US Tidal projects While the proposed Nantucket Sound offshore wind farm continues to be contested, two tidal current turbine projects that flank either side of Martha’s Vineyard are quietly progressing, though they are at early development stages. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted a preliminary permit for one off the north shore of the Island in Vineyard Sound, and has also formally accepted a new application from Natural Currents Energy Services, which is based in New York, for a tidal energy project in Muskeget Channel between Chappaquiddick and Nantucket. Source: The Vineyard Gazette. Meanwhile, Pacific Gas & Electric Company has signed an agreement with the City and the County of San Francisco, as well as Golden Gate Energy Company, to assess possibilities for harnessing the tides in San Francisco Bay.
For more marine projects see the Technology section in Renew 171 and NATTA's new compilation of reports on marine energy from back issues of Renew.
74GW of wind
Global wind power capacity rose almost 26% in 2006, to over 74,200 megawatts, according to Worldwatch. 15,200 MW of new turbine capacity was installed globally in 2006, which Worldwatch caim will generate enough electricity annually to offset the CO2 emissions of 23 average-sized U.S. coal plants. Worldwatch’s Vital Signs Update claims the 43 million tons of CO2 displaced in 2006 is equivalent to the emissions of 7,200 MW of coal-fired power plants.
3GW US wind
Shell WindEnergy Inc. and Luminant, a subsidiary of TXU Corp., have announced a joint development agreement for a 3 gigawatt wind project in the Texas Panhandle and to work together on other renewable energy developments in Texas. They’ll also explore the use of compressed air storage, in which excess power could be used to pump air underground for later use in generating electricity.
Saudis go green
A research centre for renewable energy has been set up in Saudi Arabia, based at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals. The centre has set up divisions for research on hydrogen, methanol and fuel cells, solar and wind energy, advanced energy storage systems, electrical infrastructure and control systems, and the economics of renewables.
Dutch go to earth The Hague will use geothermal to heat 4,000 homes & several industrial buildings, in the largest use of earth energy in the Netherlands. It will rely on 75°C water from a depth of 2,200m southwest of the city, and will be transported to a district heating network through heat exchangers. Cost of the project is Euro 46m, and three housing corporations, 2 energy companies and the city would split the costs and risks equally. The project will reduce carbon emissions by 4,000 tonnes a year. The Hague wants to be carbon-neutral by 2050. The first houses will be connected by the winter of 2008.
REEP- 35 projects
The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) is to fund thirty-five new projects, in its sixth funding round- the largest in its four year history. ‘The REEEP portfolio is moving beyond a collection of good projects to being more strategic. We have started the replication and scale-up of successful projects in the past and have also started commissioning specific projects,’ said Morgan Bazilian, REEEP Programme Board Chair. ‘We are also pleased to be working closely with the governments of Argentina, Ecuador and Uganda as they formulate national renewable energy policy and legislation.’
The increased funding was driven by new REEEP donor contributions in March last year when the Norwegian government announced a three-year pledge of EUR 3.7m. Norway joined the UK, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand as a project donor government. Norwegian funding is focused on supporting several projects in Brazil, China and India. One is developing a financial mechanism to stimulate energy efficiency in buildings, and another will develop a national action plan for rural biomass. Norwegian funding will also establish a renewable energy fund in West Africa and promote biomass gasifiers in India. ‘We need to do what we can to ensure that developing countries make a technological leap forward, bypassing polluting technologies and increasing the share of renewable and clean energy sources’, said Norwegian Minister of International Development Eric Solheim.
In Africa, solar water heating is rising up the agenda as a demand side management strategy. Three projects are supporting the development of solar water heating markets- in Morocco, S. Africa, Tunisia and Uganda. In Uganda one study has shown that 41MW could be saved by installing 65,000 solar water heaters in urban areas. REEEP & the World Bank will also hold a Development Marketplace competition for LED lighting across Sub-Saharan Africa to replace fossil-fuel lighting.
Energy efficiency remains a REEEP priority with 44% of the total projects funded covering energy efficiency. A successful street lighting ESCO project financed previously will be replicated in other Indian states. Credit risk guarantees will be developed for the Mexican ESCO market and a feasibility study will look at the role of ESCO’s in financing biogas plants at livestock farms in China.
REEP backs the Kyoto mechanisms and the Clean Development Mechanism. The ‘Gold Standard’ will receive funding to train CDM experts in Brazil, India, China and South Africa. And the London Olympic Committee will work with REEEP on a CDM project to source emission reductions from renewable energy projects in China to green the 2012 London Olympics.
For the first time REEEP is directly commissioning projects in addition to selecting projects via public tender. Two projects include plans to develop a global status report on energy efficiency and development and establishment of a risk mitigation mechanism for renewables energy efficiency investments in India.
* REEEP is a global public-private partnership that structures policy, regulatory initiatives and facilitates financing for clean energy projects, backed by national governments, businesses, banks and NGO’s.
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