plan on it
How does China’s 12th Five-Year Plan address energy and the environment? 2
Cross-posted from the World Resources Institute. The post was written by Deborah Seligsohn, WRI's principal advisor on climate and energy in Beijing, and Angel Hsu, doctoral student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
The draft of China's much-anticipated 12th Five-Year Plan was released this Saturday, March 5 at the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC). The plan will actually be brought to a vote at the close of the session later this week. While there may be some changes to the plan, in past years these have not been large.
The 118-page draft of the 12th Five-Year Plan is not yet available online, but we were able to acquire a hard copy to review. In the meantime, Xinhua provided a summary of the major targets included in the 12th Five-Year Plan. In addition, a number of the key reports delivered at the first day of the NPC are also online in both Chinese and English, and these reports include the Work Report issued by Premier Wen Jiabao. Premier Wen's Work Report includes both an assessment of the previous five years and a summary of highlights of the next Five-Year Plan. Our analysis below is derived from both the initial draft of the 12th Five-Year Plan and the Work Report.
What's notable in the plan and the work rwoeport is the prominent position of both climate change and environmental issues, in addition to energy. Indeed, not only is this the first Five-Year Plan that mentions climate change, but it is mentioned at the top of the environmental section. There is also a full paragraph detailing China's commitment to international cooperation and the U.N.-led climate negotiation process, including concerns of climate finance and technology transfer. The plan also discusses the need to implement more climate adaptation-related policies, such as greater preparedness for extreme weather events.
Energy and climate targets: As expected, there are separate targets for energy intensity (16 percent reduction by 2015) and CO2 emissions per unit GDP (17 percent reduction by 2015). These are within the expected range and congruent with the 40 to 45 percent reduction in carbon intensity from 2005 levels that was first announced in the Copenhagen talks and reaffirmed in Cancun this past November. Clearly defined and distinct energy and CO2 emissions targets will help ensure provinces implement energy policies with carbon goals clearly in mind. Somewhat surprisingly, there was no mention of a total energy consumption target, which was recently announced by China's former minister in charge of the National Energy Administration, Zhang Guobao. It will be interesting to see whether this emerges in the specific energy-sector plan that will come later this spring.
The draft plan and work reports also include noteworthy policies in:
Forests: China has been steadily increasing forest cover since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. This next five-year plan goes a significant distance toward meeting China's Copenhagen commitment on forests. In the plan itself the Chinese government set a goal to increase the area of forest cover by 31 million acres by 2015, while in Premier Wen's Work Report, he announced a forest stock volume goal of 785 million cubic yards. While the forest cover area goal seems more or less in line with the already stated 2020 goal to increase forest cover by 98 million acres over 2005 levels, the volume stock target seems more ambitious because it seeks to achieve almost half of the 15-year target of 1.7 billion cubic yards by year 2020.
Tracking implementation: To achieve these climate and energy targets, the level of detail and specificity, covering a full range of resource and environmental issues, provided in the plan and the work reports are impressive. Premier Wen stated that China would put in place "well-equipped statistical and monitoring systems for greenhouse-gas emissions, energy conservation and emissions reductions" to ensure these policies are tracked and properly implemented.
Efficiency: China has had a particularly successful track record on industrial energy efficiency in the previous five years. In the new plan, there are both new policies to promote greater industrial efficiency, and a major push to include all other sectors of the economy, including both new and existing buildings. For example, the plan introduces a 10,000 Enterprises Program. While we don't have details as to what this program will be, it appears to be a ramp up of the successful Top 1,000 Enterprises Program. We'll certainly be following this development closely in the coming months. Following the endorsement of new types of mechanisms in the October Party Plenum Document, the plan specifically endorses market approaches like energy service companies that help to finance energy efficiency.
Transport: While China certainly has plans for additional air and road transport, what is striking is the commitment to rail, both long distance and in urban mass transit. The plan includes proposals for the construction of 21,750 miles of high-speed rail and a goal to connect every city with a population greater than 500,000. There are also plans to improve subway and light rail in cities that already have urban transit systems, building new systems in at least nine other cities, and making plans for six or more cities. We expect to see more detail and perhaps more cities as the sector-specific plan becomes available.
Non-fossil energy: The plan incorporates the goal of 11.4 percent non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption by 2015 announced by Zhang Guobao last month. China continues to exceed earlier targets in non-fossil development. For example, the five-year target for wind is 70 gigawatts of additional installation, which exceeds the 2020 target of just a few years ago. For nuclear, the plan is to install 40 additional gigawatts of capacity by 2015. China currently has around 10 gigawatts of installed nuclear capacity now, which means that if this five-year target is achieved, China is likely to exceed even the expectation of 70 gigawatts by 2020 discussed a year ago. If China achieves these numbers, it will have the world's highest installed capacity of nuclear energy by 2020.
Environment: The plan itself does not make clear the specific targets for major environmental pollutants. However, they were all announced at an official NPC-connected press conference. On March 6, Zhang Ping, director of the National Development and Reform Commission, stated that the reduction targets for Chemical Oxygen Demand and Sulfur Dioxide are 8 percent, while ammonia nitrogen and nitrogen oxides are 10 percent. Director Zhang also said that these targets would be made binding for the first time in the 12th Five-Year Plan, as well as an "index evaluation system" implemented to allocate targets to provinces and ensure they are on track to meet reductions. We are not clear on exactly how these targets will be made binding, whether there will be additional documents at this NPC, or whether they will be binding in a later sector-specific plan.
While the plan itself is general on targets, it is much more specific on policies. It assigns specific targets for cities required to reach new motor vehicle emission standards and sets goals for a wide variety of environmental infrastructure, including wastewater and solid waste treatment. There is also a strong emphasis on reuse and recycling, or what the Chinese call "circular economy."
China is a middle-income, developing country and the next five years is when it needs to put in place the infrastructure that will enable it to develop successfully into a high-income developing country and beyond. There's a clear recognition in these plans of the importance of environmental sustainability in being able to reach not just higher levels of income and but also increased welfare of the Chinese people. The plan itself is highly specific in some areas but also in others somewhat unclear (for instance, target pollutants). Much of the clarity in implementation comes through sectoral plans and later regulations and guidance. We will continue to track policy implementation as it unfolds.
The World Resources Institute is a think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve lives.
China wants to give thrust to Energy and Environment in its 12th Plan.
China’s Ten Major Challenges
The goal of the Chinese regulators is for China to become a moderately prosperous country by 2020. The current five year period will be critical in meeting that goal. China has recently reached a level where its per capita GDP equals $US4,000. Its goal is to achieve a $US10,000 per capita GDP by the year 2020. This is a critical transition. It is generally believed to be relatively easy for a country to achieve the $4,000 number. It is common, however, for countries to stall out in GDP growth and never achieve the $10,000 goal.
The goal of the 12th Five Year plan is to prevent China’s growth from stalling. In the Opinion, the CPC identifies 10 factors that threaten the continued development of the Chinese economy:
- Resource constraints: energy and raw materials.
- Mismatch in investment and imbalance in consumption.
- Income disparity.
- Weakness in capacity for domestic innovation.
- Production structure is not rational: too much heavy industry, not enough service.
- Agriculture foundation is thin and weak.
- Urban/rural development is not coordinated.
- Employment system is imbalanced.
- Social contradictions are progressively more apparent.
- Obstacles to scientific development continue to exist and are difficult to remove.
Promote energy saving and environmental protection.
Currently, for every 1% increase in GDP, China’s energy use increases by 1% or more. If this rate continues, China will need to increase its energy consumption by 2.5 times to achieve its 2020 economic goal. To put this into perspective, this would mean increasing the current consumption of coal from the current 3.6 billion tons per year to an astronomical 7.9 billion tons a year. No one in China thinks this can be done. One major way to reduce the amount of energy required for the Chinese economy is to implement energy saving practices throughout the economy. A second way to reduce is to shift from hydrocarbon based energy to alternative energy sources. The new plan advocates an all out program in this area.
6. Create an innovation driven society by encouraging education and training of the workforce.
The plan seeks to shift China from its role as the factory of the world to a new role as a technological innovator for the world. There are two components to this approach:
- China will need to become a domestic innovator in all areas of current modern technology, with an emphasis on practical industrial applications.
- Where China is not capable of domestic innovation, China will continue to import technology from advanced economies. However, China will seek to actively domesticate that technology through a program of “assimilate and re-invent.” The recent program for production in engines for high speed rail is offered as an example of the “assimilate and re-invent” approach.( Source:China's 12th Five Year Plan: A Priliminary Look,China Law Blog CHINA LAW FOR BUSINESS,Dan March 3,2011).
Algal Fuel: VG Energy Study Shows Price Parity Possible with Conventional Oil
By Mitchell Anderson on March 7, 2011
The study was authored by John Sheehan, former project manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and currently the Biofuels Coordinator in the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. Sheehan also serves on the technical advisory board of VG Energy, a majority owned subsidiary of biotech start-up Viral Genetics (VRAL).
His projections are based on existing industrial processes and early lab results from VG Energy that indicate algae-derived diesel and jet fuel substitutes could be produced at prices competitive with conventional oil at $94 per barrel. This potential price breakthrough comes as world oil prices are spiking well beyond $100 and conventional producers are intimating that world supplies will be squeezed for the foreseeable future.
According to the study:
The introduction of VG Energy’s additives offers the ability to knock down the cost of algal oil production by almost a factor of ten as a result of productivity improvements. If oil secretion currently observed in the lab can be fully demonstrated in larger scale growth systems, there is a potential for further decreasing costs by another factor of roughly two. These represent dramatic changes in the economics of algae technology, and are truly game-changing. A lot of work remains to be done to establish the robustness of the VG Energy’s lab results, but these preliminary economic analyses show that the promise of the technology warrants further investment and investigation.
The long sought after technique to boost algae oil production has an unlikely origin. Viral Genetics researcher Dr. Karen Newell has been developing novel techniques to disrupt tumor metabolism to prevent them from burning fat reserves, making them more susceptible to chemotherapy and radiation.
This same metabolic switch appears to be the elusive lipid trigger that algal biofuel researchers have been seeking since the 1990’s that forces algae to store energy as fat rather than carbohydrates or protein.
When these trace chemical amendments developed by Viral Genetics to fight cancer were added to algae cultures in the lab, they were found to increase extractable lipid production by more than 300%.
“What they have stumbled on indirectly through a fairly unrelated field of research is the possibility that you really can turn on lipid production in algae,” said Sheehan. “For the last five years of the research at the National Renewable Energy Lab, we were entirely focused on exactly this question.”
Algae is attractive for biofuels due to their ability to grow much more quickly than terrestrial crops because they are very simple organisms. The problem is that algae tend to only want to produce the oil when they are stressed or believe they are in a scarce environment.
According to Sheehan, “algal biofuel researchers have been looking for the so-called ‘lipid trigger’ for over a decade. Our goal was to find a way to promote storing of organic carbon in algae in the form of oil, and that is what Karen Newell has appeared to have stumbled on.”
VG Energy’s techniques also cause algae to release fats outside of their tough cell walls creating the potential to recycle algal biomass without destructively extracting the oil. Sheehan feels that a 75% biomass recycle rate is possible, contributing to greatly reduced production cost projections.
Along with the enormous potential market to create economic biofuels, VG Energy’s technique could also create high value nutritional oils such as omega 3 fats at approximately one quarter the price of conventional sources. This market, while far smaller than transportation fuels, is still worth about $1.4 billion annually and growing at 10% per year.
Sheehan, who has been a leading expert in this algal biofuel research for more than fifteen years says that he is “cautiously excited” about the potential price breakthrough, but stresses that much must happen before you can economically fill up your tank with fuel refined from algae.
“VG Energy has made a really interesting discovery but a lot of work remains to turn this into a viable commercial process.”
Alagal fuel has great potential
Submitted by anumakonda on Mon, 2011-03-07
Very good study. Yes. Algal fuel has great potential.
Algal fuel or algae-based biofuel holds “great promise,” due to its energy potential,” algae contains up to 30 times more fuel than equivalent amounts of other biofuel sources and can be grown almost anywhere.
Nor any drop to drink
New wind and solar sectors won’t solve China’s water scarcity 2
JIUQUAN, China -- Business for wind and solar energy components has been so brisk in Gansu Province -- a bone-bleaching sweep of gusty desert and sun-washed mountains in China's northern region -- that the New Energy Equipment Manufacturing Industry base, which employs 20,000 people, is a 24/7 operation.
Just two years old, the expansive industrial manufacturing zone -- located outside this ancient Silk Road city of 1 million -- turns out turbines, blades, towers, controllers, software, and dozens of other components for a provincial wind industry already producing more than 5,000 megawatts per year.
Photo © Toby Smith/Reportage by Getty Images for Circle of Blue
Over 5,000 wind turbines have been installed in northern Gansu Province. Already boasting an online capacity of 5,500 MW, the region's wind-generating capacity will grow to 12,000 MW by 2015.
Chen Xiao Yan, a 25-year-old assistant in the New Energy Industry office, said Sinovel, Goldwind, Dongfang, Sinomatech, and 21 other clean energy manufacturers have established plants at the base. Two of those developers also produce equipment for Gansu's expanding solar photovoltaic industry, which at the end of this year will generate 120 megawatts of electricity.
Within three years, 10 additional manufacturers will build plants in the base, increasing the workforce to 50,000 employees, Chen said in an interview with Circle of Blue.
"It's what we do here," she said with a shrug. "We produce energy."
Graphic © Ball State University for Circle of Blue
Click through the interactive infographic above to learn more about China's wind energy production. If you are having troubling viewing, click here.
Northern Gansu is doing that and considerably more. This region of dust and industrial innovation -- about as far west from Beijing as Montana is from New York -- has very quickly become a booster stage for China's rocket ride to the top of the global water-sipping clean energy heap. Prompted by a national decision in 2005 to diversify the nation's energy production portfolio, and to do so with the goal of reducing water consumption and climate-changing carbon emissions, Gansu and its desert neighbors are pursuing clean energy development with a ferocity unrivaled now in the world.
Along with northern Gansu, there are six other wind energy bases and eight other solar power bases being built in China -- most of them in the desert regions of northern and western China. China also has a burst of seawater-cooled nuclear power plants under construction along its eastern coast.
China's National Energy Administration projects that, over the next decade, generating capacity from wind, solar, and nuclear power will more than quadruple, from 53 gigawatts in 2010 to 230 gigawatts in 2020. The other big non-carbon electrical producer is hydropower, which is expected by the government to grow to 400 GW of capacity by 2020, up from 213.4 GW last year. (For reference, one gigawatt, or GW, is equal to 1,000 megawatts, or the generating capacity of a big nuclear- or coal-fired power plant.)
Wind energy now accounts for 42GW, or 16 percent of the nation's non-carbon electrical generating capacity. China's energy officials projected last year that wind energy generating capacity will rise to 150 GW by 2020, though many wind industry executives predict the number will reach more than 200 GW.
Solar generating capacity is expected to jump from less than one GW in 2010 to 20 GW by 2020. Nuclear power is projected to increase from 11 GW to 60 GW in the next decade.
Yet China's demand for electricity is rising so quickly that the massive investment in new generating technologies will not make nearly as large of a dent in production -- or in freshwater conservation -- as many people might expect. Simply put: wind, solar, and nuclear power will climb to around 13 percent of the 1,900 GW of generating capacity expected by 2020, according to government data. That's up from the nearly six percent of the 940 GW of generating capacity today.
The new wind, solar, and seawater-cooled nuclear plants will replace roughly 100 big coal-fired generating stations, which equates to a savings of 3.5 billion cubic meters (nearly one trillion gallons) of water annually, according to academic and government estimates. The clean energy stations also will eliminate around 750 million metric tons of climate-changing emissions annually.
But China's national water use -- 591 billion cubic meters in 2010 -- is anticipated to grow by 40 billion cubic meters a year by the end of the decade. And the increase in water consumption, a good portion of which is spurred by new coal production, is occurring in a nation that is steadily getting drier.
Put another way, the $US 738 billion that government authorities promised last year to spend on non-fossil fuel power generation over the next decade will jump start China's clean energy economic transition. The enormous solar and wind-related manufacturing plants across China already employ tens of thousands of people. They are irrefutable evidence of the capacity of clean energy to spur job growth. They also are a signal to the United States and other nations that China is prepared to dominate wind, solar, nuclear, and other cleaner sources of power that global energy economists predict will eventually generate trillions of dollars in revenue each year.
But clean energy development will not solve the commanding threat to China's modernization -- the confrontation between rising energy demand and declining reserves of fresh water. Over the next decade, and likely well beyond that, the water savings from solar, wind, and seawater-cooled nuclear power will not be nearly enough to loosen the noose that water scarcity is steadily tightening around China's coal production and combustion sector, and its national economy.
"There may be an ultimate day of reckoning approaching," said Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow and China specialist at the Peterson Institute in Washington D.C. "But there are a lot of intermediate steps China is prepared to take and already is taking to hold it off as long as possible."
No Turning Back
Chinese development officials insist they have no intention of backing away from the country's rapid modernization or from using every available energy-producing option to fuel that growth. A powerful transition is occurring in China, much of it focused on attracting new pioneers to the dry northern and western provinces. The strategy appears to be working.
Photo © Toby Smith/Reportage by Getty Images for Circle of Blue
The New Energy Equipment Manufacturing Industry base, a collection of state-of-the-art manufacturing plants, is the largest non-carbon energy manufacturing center in the world, say Chinese energy officials. Click image to enlarge.
The modern cities under construction in Gansu Province, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Ningxia, and Jilin are supported by new factories turning out steel, aluminum, vehicles, appliances, wind turbines, mining equipment, and hundreds of other products intended to supply China's rapidly expanding domestic markets. High-rise apartments are under construction in clumps of 30-story concrete towers in every major city. Streets and highways are jammed with late-model and expensive cars. Restaurants are full day and night. Long lines form at checkout counters in Western-style grocery superstores.
The provincial economies of northern and western China are growing at a faster rate than the national gross domestic product, which reached 10.3 percent in 2010, according to the latest government figures. The new regional growth has been spurred, in part, by clean energy production and manufacturing, which China recognized was a good fit for the windy, sunny, and dry geography.
A province with 25 million residents and about the same geographical size as Sweden, Gansu has managed energy production and water scarcity for decades.
Oil was discovered around Yumen in the 1930s, and a sizable production and refining industry thrived for over half a century. One of the historical highlights of Gansu's energy industry is that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, a trained geologist and China's second most powerful political figure, spent the early part of his technical and government career from 1968 to 1982 managing Gansu's mineral and water resources.
Photo © Toby Smith/Reportage by Getty Images for Circle of Blue
China is developing massive solar resources in the Gobi Desert of northern Gansu Province. 20 MW is already online. Generating capacity is expected to grow to 12,000 MW by 2025. Click image to enlarge.
In 1996, provincial officials began to experiment with replacing northern Gansu's oil sector with wind. They installed four 300-kilowatt wind turbines at the Yumen Jieyuan Wind Power Plant. Cities in Xinjiang, to the west of Gansu, and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, east of Gansu, also joined Gansu as the first provinces to experiment with utility-scale clean energy generation.
The sector grew steadily -- albeit slowly -- for nearly a decade, said executives here in Jiuquan. But, in the earliest years of the new century, wind power began to spin with economic authority.
Prompted by internal concern for the conflict between water scarcity and rising energy demand and the goal of developing new industries that could employ millions, China enacted the world's most aggressive renewable energy law in 2005. China's National Development and Reform Commission declared that, by 2020, 15 percent of the country's energy would be produced by wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower -- up from 7 percent at the time.
Since then -- and mindful of the external diplomatic pressure surrounding China's soaring climate-changing emissions -- a host of other new policies and publicly financed incentives have been enacted to promote clean power that uses less water.
In 2007, China established a new "water intensity" requirement that calls for industry and agriculture to cut the amount of water they use per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent. In 2009, that target was increased to 60 percent.
The government also mandated that taxpayers share in the cost of developing renewable power with a small fee on their utility bills. Electric utilities are required to buy power from renewable energy producers, which were provided with low-interest loans from the government. China also protected its manufacturers, requiring that at least 70 percent of all wind turbine components must be manufactured in the country. Five of the 15 largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world, as a result, are now Chinese.
Similar incentives were enacted for the solar industry.
The public incentives, combined with China's determination to both diversify its power sector and develop new job-producing industries, have pushed the country to the front of the global renewable energy industry.
Energy and Water Vectors Cross in Gansu
One of the places that has served as a testing site for the new era of water-sipping clean-energy production is the northern deserts of Gansu, where evidence of China's big play in clean energy development is in plain view. The New Energy Equipment Manufacturing Industry base -- a collection of state-of-the-art clean-tech manufacturing plants -- is the largest noncarbon-energy manufacturing center in the world, said Chinese energy officials in Jiuquan.
The base sits at the southern end of a region of wind farms that stretch for miles and encompass more than 5,000 wind turbines. There are also two solar photovoltaic power plants, which are the first in a 25-square-kilometer sun power zone outside Dunhuang that will have the generating capacity of 12 GW by 2025.
Gansu, in other words, hosts one of the largest clean energy zones on Earth. The investment in wind power alone will soon reach nearly $US 18 billion, according to provincial figures. The goal is to install enough capacity to generate 20 GW of wind-powered electricity by 2020, according to Wu Shengxue, deputy head of the Jiuquan Municipal Development and Reform Commission.
In Dunhuang, an art and tourist center near the border with Xinjiang, Ren Tao -- a 42-year-old engineer who's an expert in water supply and energy production and is the general manager of SDIC's 10-MW solar photovoltaic demonstration plant -- described the new solar installation. The year-old, $US 18 million plant is the first utility-scale solar plant connected to China's transmission grid. It sits at the center of the sunniest region in China and operates more than 3,000 hours a year.
Across the road, a second 10-MW solar photovoltaic plant -- built by CGNPC Solar Energy Development Company -- began operations late in 2010.
"My challenge," said Ren, "is to prove that we can produce a lot of energy from the sun at low cost. Green energy is the only option we have to develop this country in a way that reduces pollution, reduces water use, and develops Chinese society."
Huang Xiao, another of the young professionals managing Gansu's clean energy industry, is similarly committed. The 25-year-old woman is the executive of general affairs at Sinomatech Wind Power Blade Company, which operates a 40,000-square-meter (430,000-square-feet) plant, employs 1,000 people in Jiuquan, and last year turned out 2,400 wind blades.
Outside her office window, more than a hundred 40-meter white blades, marked by bright red slashes at the tips, are neatly lined up in a staging area, ready to be shipped. There are two other companies in the New Energy Equipment Manufacturing Industry base that produce comparable numbers of blades for Gansu's wind sector. With three blades installed for every turbine, Gansu's three wind blade companies are producing 7,200 blades annually, which are enough to install 2,400 industrial-scale turbines per year.
Even in frosty December, the highway leading from the manufacturing base to some of largest wind farms on the planet is a steady trail of diesel trucks carrying blades, turbines, and white-painted steel towers. The newly constructed four-lane expressway runs right through the wind power zone, where thousands of white, Chinese-made turbines stand in some of the country's strongest and steadiest mainland winds.
Roughly 5,500 turbines have been installed in Gansu Province and thousands more are planned. Energy developers have built new dormitories in the desert for the 15 to 20 workers required to manage and maintain individual wind farms, which typically have 500 turbines.
By 2015, the miles of turbines and wind farms concentrated around Yumen, a small desert city in northern Gansu, will produce 10 GW to 12 GW of generating capacity, said Shi Pengfei, vice president of the China Wind Energy Association. China's other big wind regions -- Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Hebei, and offshore in Jiangsu -- also are developing rapidly.
"This all makes a lot of sense for China," said Qiao Yu, a 30-year-old senior engineer who oversees the China National Offshore Oil Company's wind farm near Yemen. "We can not always rely on oil and gas and coal. The climate here is changing and our water supply is going down. Nothing can last forever. We must get involved in new energy. Chinese people and the government realize how important this is."
Photo © Toby Smith/Reportage by Getty Images for Circle of Blue
Sinomatech Wind Power Blade Company, which operates a 40,000-square-meter (430,000-square-feet) plant that employs 1,000 people in Jiuquan turned out 2,400 turbine blades last year.
2 Mar 2011 9:25am
Energy and water are separate issues. Equating Solar and Wind Energy to Water Scarcity is meaningless. There is a possibility of using wind/solar to tap water if there are aquifers.
During winter season water can be pumped out from the aquifers using solar/wind turbines. This way there will be space for water charge during the rainy season which can be utilised during water scarcity.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
Charts explain our current situation and how to improve it 1
by Lester Brown
The hundreds of data sets that accompany Lester Brown’s latest book, World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, illustrate the world’s current predicament and give a sense of where we might go from here. Here are some highlights from the collection.
Veering toward the edge:
As the world economy has expanded nearly 10-fold since 1950, consumption has begun to outstrip natural assets on a global scale. The same values that have allowed ecological deficits to grow are contributing to ballooning fiscal deficits around the world, threatening to undermine economic progress.
Some of the planet’s natural capital, like fossil fuels or water in non-replenishable aquifers, is finite and exhaustible. And some is regenerative; it can be thought of like an interest-earning bank account, where if the principal is maintained, one can live off of the interest indefinitely. In nature, we can harvest plants from the same land as long as soils are maintained; we can continue to catch fish from the sea as long as the catch remains below each fishery’s sustainable yield; we can get water from underground as long as pumping does not exceed rates of recharge; and carbon can regularly cycle through the atmosphere, land, and oceans without major consequence.
Yet as our human family has grown and the global economy has expanded, demand has surpassed the Earth’s regenerative capacity. We are overharvesting forests, overplowing fields, overgrazing grasslands, overdrawing aquifers, overfishing oceans, and pumping far more carbon into the atmosphere than nature can absorb.
Many of these negative trends intersect at our global food supply. While for many years the world was making gains in reducing the number of hungry people, this progress was reversed in the late 1990s. Today close to 1 billion people in the world are undernourished.
As food prices rise, the ranks of the hungry are likely to grow even larger. Following the punishing heat wave that devastated Russia’s wheat harvest in summer 2010, staple grain prices have soared to near-record highs in early 2011. Rising food prices hit people on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder -- many of whom spend over half their income feeding their families -- the hardest.
Governments that are unable to ensure adequate and affordable food risk political instability and social unrest. If they cannot provide basic security, they may descend into state failure. Many of the world’s failing states are hampered by high population growth rates and a deteriorating resource base, and depend heavily on international food aid.
A new direction:
Time is running short, but we can pull back from the edge. While security is a major concern for the world’s governments, we have inherited a definition of security from the last century, one dominated by two world wars and the Cold War. Rather than armed aggression, today we are at risk from the fallout of climate change, population growth, water shortages, poverty, rising food prices, and failing states. Military spending worldwide exceeds $1.5 trillion annually; yet traditional defense outlays do little to address these true threats to our future. Diverting just 12 percent of global military spending can meet the goals of eradicating poverty, ensuring basic health care, stabilizing population, and restoring the Earth’s natural systems.
Stabilizing climate will mean rapidly cutting carbon emissions by dramatically scaling up renewable energy, harnessing energy efficiency, restructuring transportation systems, curbing deforestation, and planting trees. That the fastest growth in the global energy industry over the last decade is in solar and wind is an early sign of hope.
Politicians talk about cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, but more ambitious cuts are likely needed to prevent climate catastrophe. Together the climate stabilization measures described in World on the Edge would drop net carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020.
Additional figures and tables are posted by chapter and by topic, along with full downloads of the text of World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse.
Lester R. Brown is founder and president of Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
23 Feb 2011 10:31pm
Philips wants to reward some innovative urban ideas 1
Smarter Cities" program, Cisco has its "Smart+Connected Communities," and the giant electronics corporation Philips has been promoting the concept of "Livable Cities" lately. (This webcast they put together with participants including urbanism guru Richard Florida and former London mayor Ken Livingstone gives a good overview of what they mean by that.)The ideal of smart cities -- technologically advanced, forward-thinking, and green -- is big in corporate circles these days. IBM has its "
Philips is currently sponsoring a "Livable Cities Award" ("designed to generate practical, achievable ideas for improving the health and well-being of people living in cities") that is going to mean a €75,000 grant for the lucky winner. Concepts in the running include solar- and wind-powered lighting for playing fields (from New York City), a rooftop water collection system (from Sana'a, Yemen), a community-designed parks initiative (from Binghamton, N.Y.), and the current top vote-getter -- a network coordinating services for the elderly in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Take a look at them all and vote for your favorite.
Anything you'd like to see implemented where you live?
23 Feb 2011 3:16am 1298459789 1298488589
I am happy Corporate Companies are encouraging Innovations to serve society.
Despite advancements in various fields, there is still poverty around the world.
Let us examine it.
What does it mean to be poor? How is poverty measured? Third World countries are often described as “developing” while the First World, industrialized nations are often “developed”. What does it mean to describe a nation as “developing”? A lack of material wealth does not necessarily mean that one is deprived. A strong economy in a developed nation doesn’t mean much when a significant percentage (even a majority) of the population is struggling to survive.
Successful development can imply many things, such as (though not limited to):
- An improvement in living standards and access to all basic needs such that a person has enough food, water, shelter, clothing, health, education, etc;
- A stable political, social and economic environment, with associated political, social and economic freedoms, such as (though not limited to) equitable ownership of land and property;
- The ability to make free and informed choices that are not coerced;
- Be able to participate in a democratic environment with the ability to have a say in one’s own future;
- To have the full potential for what the United Nations calls Human Development:
Human development is about much more than the rise or fall of national incomes. It is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests. People are the real wealth of nations. Development is thus about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value. And it is thus about much more than economic growth, which is only a means—if a very important one—of enlarging people’s choices.
— What is Human Development?, Human Development Reports, United Nations Development Program
At household, community, societal, national and international levels, various aspects of the above need to be provided, as well as commitment to various democratic institutions that do not become corrupted by special interests and agendas.
Yet, for a variety of reasons, these “full rights” are not available in many segments of various societies from the richest to the poorest. When political agendas deprive these possibilities in some nations, how can a nation develop? Is this progress?
Politics have led to dire conditions in many poorer nations. In many cases, international political interests have led to a diversion of available resources from domestic needs to western markets. (See the structural adjustment section to find out more about this.) This has resulted in a lack of basic access to food, water, health, education and other important social services. This is a major obstacle to equitable development.
World Bank’s Poverty Estimates Revised
“In August 2008, the World Bank presented a major overhaul to their estimates of global poverty, incorporating what they described as better and new data.
The World Bank’s long-held estimate of the number of people living on the equivalent of $1 a day has now been changed to $1.25 a day.
The World Bank also adds that the previous $1 a day estimate for the international poverty line would have been $1.45 a day at 2005 prices if only inflation was accounted for.
The revised estimates include a lot more recalculations and the $1 a day measure used in some of the charts below are therefore not to be confused with the old $1 a day measure, and where available, a $1.45 measure is also provided as well as a more current $1 a day measure. (Because some developing countries also have poverty lines at $2 and $2.50 a day, those are also shown, where available.)
At a poverty line of $1.25 a day, the revised estimates find
- 1.4 billion people live at this poverty line or below
- This is more than the previous estimate of 984 million with the older measure of a $1 a day in 2004
- In 1981, the estimated number of poor was also revised upward, from 1.5 billion to 1.9 billion
The World Bank notes that “the incidence of poverty in the world is higher than past estimates have suggested. The main reason is that [previous data] had implicitly underestimated the cost of living in most developing countries.”
The data also does not reflect the recent global food crisis and rising cost of energy, which is feared will bring another 100 million into poverty.
Accounting for the increased population between 1981 and 2005, the poverty rate has, however, fallen by about 25%.”
Can’t Scientists, Technologists, Innovators, Philonthropists, Corporate Giants do something to solve the problems pressing society in the fields of water,energy,environment,health etc.,
Often identifying the problem is a major issue. When once we identify the right problem, solution can be found sooner or later.
I suggest a Global fund can be created to promote Innovative projects to solve problems in rural societies by Global Funding organizations,Industral and Corporate Giants and Governments etc.,.
A secretariat can be formed to seek problems from people around the world (that need solutions through the application of Science & Technology). These can be screened and certain number,( say 5o can be identified). The problems can be advertised through world press and Electronic Media to send solutions. Large number of solutions will come. In them a lot of trash also will be there. The best solutions can be selected by a committee of experts, corporate specialists, social scientists and technologists. Awards can be given to the best solutions. The awards should be large enough to attract people to send best solutions. “TO CATCH A FISH, THE BAIT SHOULD BE ATTRACTIVE ENOUGH”.
This way there will be a thought process in the world. In India KAUN BANEGA CARORE PATI a TV programme conducted by a great film actor was a roaring success. This programme attracted many book publishers to publish General Knowledge Information. Millions used to watch the Rxciting programme including our Former Prime Minister A.B.Vajpayee.
Developing countries can adopt the best solutions to the problems selected..
This is the best way to bring Science and Technology to the doors of those who needed it most.
Science to Serve Society – Society to support Science.
We of ten talk of AT (Appropriate Technology).
It should be:
As noted International renowned Scientist late Prof.Y.Nayudamma advocated,” Modernise the Traditional – Traditionalise the Modern”.
Our Centre has more than 30 Innovations in Energy, Environment, Forestry,, Health etc., and will be happy to share them freely to serve the society.
Our Contact Address:
Nayudamma Centre for Development Alternatives
2/210 First Floor
NELLORE 524 002
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Mobile: ++ 91 9490125950
Ph: ++ 91 861 2317776.
Chicago to build electric car charging network 1
Photo: Todd MecklemFirst Chicago gets Rahm Emanuel, now electric cars.
Well, at least an electric car infrastructure. In a move that indicates electric cars won't just be a phenomenon of Greater Portlandia, utility Exelon and the city will roll out 280 charging stations across Chicagoland by year's end. Two stations will even be solar-powered.
It's part of a smart grid demonstration project, partially funded by the federal government, to get a jump-start on the potential impact on the electric system if Chicagoans start buying battery-powered vehicles in big numbers.
Windy, snow-swept Chicago doesn't exactly pop to the top of the list as an EV epicenter. But former Mayor Richard M. Daley made greening the second city a priority, and according to a spokesperson for Exelon -- which owns Chicago utility ComEd -- Illinois ranks in the top 10 when it comes to hybrid car ownership.
"ComEd is preparing now for what may be a large influx of PHEVs in the market and managing its impact on the grid," Kerry Kelly-Guiliano, the Exelon spokesperson, said in an email, referring to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. "And they are putting in place the charging infrastructure to demonstrate that Chicago is plug-in ready."
The locations for the charging stations have yet to be determined, but Kelly-Guiliano said they would most likely be deployed at places like shopping malls, Chicago's two airports, and rest stops along the Illinois Tollway in the city.
Chicago follows another unlikely hot spot for electric cars, the petro capital of Houston. Late last year, utility NRG Energy announced plans to build a $10 million electric charging network in a 25-mile radius surrounding downtown Houston.
Initially, Chicago's electric charging network will be used by a fleet of electric and hybrid cars maintained by ComEd.
Now we just want to see Mayor Emanuel behind the wheel of a Chevy Volt.
25 Feb 2011 9:32pm 1298698341 1298716341
Electric Cars will soon pervade and as such charging stations have to be planned.
Super (gross) bugs
Flies and cockroaches carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria from factory farms, study finds 2
Well, we know that in total, factory-farm animals consume a jaw-dropping four times as many antibiotics as do people in the United States, thanks to diligent reporting by Maryn McKenna and Ralph Loglisci and work by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).
And we know that a kind of antibiotic-resistant staph infection called MRSA now kills more people than AIDS -- and infects people who never set foot in a hospital, which is the site where MRSA is thought to have originated. We also know, due to the stellar work of Iowa State University researcher Tara Smith, that pigs in confined animal feedlot operations, and the workers who tend them, routinely carry MRSA strains (her paper can be found here).
We also know that, by the FDA's own reckoning, meat on grocery store shelves is routinely infected by pathogens resistant to multiple antibiotics (again, McKenna's work brought the FDA's perhaps intentionally obscure report to light).
And now we know of yet another means by which antibiotic-resistant nasties can make their way from meat factories into the broader community: through the cockroaches and flies drawn to the titanic amounts of manure produced on factory farms. For a paper published last month in the journal Microbiology, researchers from North Carolina State and Kansas State universities took one for the team -- i.e., the public. They did something few of us would want to do: rounded up common flies and roaches hanging around factory hog farms, and tested them to see what kinds of bacteria they were harboring.
Their finding? More than 90 percent of the insects sampled carried forms of the bacteria Enterococci that are resistant to at least one common antibiotic, and often more than one. Here's how the authors summed up their findings in the paper's abstract:
This study shows that house flies and German [common] cockroaches in the confined swine production environment likely serve as vectors and/or reservoirs of antibiotic resistant and potentially virulent enterococci and consequently may play an important role in animal and public health.
In a press release, study coauthor Coby Schal, entomology professor at NC State, broke it down in simpler terms:
The big concern is not that humans will acquire drug-resistant bacteria from their properly cooked bacon or sausage, but rather that the bacteria will be transferred to humans from the common pests that live with pigs and then move in with us.
Meanwhile, evidence is mounting that factory-scale animal farms exact a high toll from the people who live around them in other ways, too. A study by University of North Carolina professor Steve Wing and others shows that people with the bad luck to live near giant hog farms suffer demonstrably worse health when the factories are getting up to malodorous stuff like spraying untreated (and thus antibiotic-resistant-bacteria-laden) manure on fields. Among the many hidden costs of cheap pork is that people who live near factory farms are doomed either to be sick or shut in at certain times of the year. (McKenna has an excellent discussion of the Wing study on her Wired blog.)
To answer the questions I posed in the opening paragraph, it seems we're brewing up some pretty nasty pathogens in our meat factories, along with all the pork chops and chicken wings. And they're coming our way, carried out on the meat itself, by factory-farm workers, and by common creepy-crawly and flying insects.
Seems like there should be a law banning the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics on farms. In 2009, Rep. Louise Slaughter introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA). So far, the meat industry has managed to, well, slaughter it. But she plans to introduce PAMTA again this year.
25 Feb 2011 9:42pm 1298698931 1298716931
Google-backed startup claims energy efficiency breakthrough 6
Photo: Marcin WicharyOn Wednesday I joined a cadre of other reporters who had been summoned to the Googleplex in Silicon Valley for what was billed as the launch of a clean tech startup that has developed a revolutionary new technology.
The big reveal came as we sat around a conference table at Google Ventures, the search giant's investment arm: super-efficient power conversion modules. What? You were expecting orbiting solar power plants or something?
But if the Southern California startup, called Transphorm, makes good on its claims, it could have a dramatic impact on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production. That's because power conversion modules are embedded in anything that has a motor -- from heavy-duty industrial equipment to hybrid cars -- as well as those ubiquitous laptop and cellphone chargers. In short, any gadget that needs to convert alternating current that comes out of a power outlet into direct current or vice versa.
That means your electric car could travel farther on a single charge by making batteries more efficient or by eliminating weight from the vehicle. Those bulky gadget chargers could disappear as power conversion modules get built into the devices themselves. And solar panels could generate more electricity if the inverters that convert DC to AC become more efficient.
Transphorm chief executive Umesh Mishra, a professor of electric and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, claims the startup's gallium nitride technology eliminates 90 percent of the energy waste when current is converted from AC to DC and back. Given that 10 percent of the United States' electricity production is lost when converted to different currents, Transphorm's technology could save terawatts of energy if widely adopted.
"Imagine taking the West Coast off the grid," he said, noting that Transphorm could save as much electricity as California and the Pacific Northwest consume. "Transphorm's impact on the planet and the business is real money. The opportunity to save this kind of money is a huge business opportunity."
Current power conversion modules are based on silicon. Transphorm developed a process to grow gallium nitride crystals to create a material that Mishra says holds high voltage charges while minimizing the generation of waste heat.
So is this another case of Silicon Valley hype? Google Ventures and marquee venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers apparently don't think so. They and other investors have put $38 million into the 4-year-old startup, which has operated under the radar while it developed its technology.
"Google Ventures has had a healthy dose of skepticism around clean tech investing," said Bill Maris, Google Ventures' managing director. "It's a capital-intensive business with unclear exits and markets. But we understand at Google and Google Ventures the problem they're addressing. It's a real problem with a real solution. The ultimate impact of this technology is inarguable."
Google, of course, operates a global network of electricity-hogging data centers. If Transphorm's modules can slash energy consumption by computer servers, Google's greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention its utility bill, would fall.
While Google in the past has tried out promising new technology -- such as the Bloom Energy fuel cell -- there hasn't been a Transphorm power module to test drive yet, Maris acknowledged.
The startup will unveil its first products in March at a trade show in Texas and says it has signed up customers like Japan's Yaskawa Electric Corporation, which makes industrial motors and robots.
This transformation, however, is not going to take place overnight. Mishra said industrial manufacturers have long design cycles for new products. And gallium nitride-based power conversion modules will be more expensive until they can be produced at volume, though Mishra said higher costs would be balanced by other savings as manufacturers could make lighter, more efficient products.
"This is not a just a better, faster cheaper enterprise, " said Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins. "It's a brave new world enterprise."
25 Feb 2011 9:49pm 1298699373 1298717373Excellent.
The energy [r]evolution has begun 1
Access to energy is vital for our economies, but energy is one of the main sources of the greenhouse gas emissions putting our climate at risk. It follows that we need to transition to a low-carbon, renewable energy mix. That aspiration is frequently debated -- at times encouraged, often mocked -- but it bears emphasizing: the energy revolution is already underway.
Greenpeace, the German Space Agency (DLR), and the European Renewable Energy Council -- representing over 400,000 renewable energy workers -- joined forces back in 2007 and have since published more than 40 global, regional, and national Energy [R]evolution scenarios. Each dives deep into a country's current energy demand and supply structure and develops a renewable energy strategy, unfolding in 10 year steps up to 2050.
The most recently published version of the global energy [r]evolution (June 2010, which included 14 brand new national and regional scenarios and identified investment needs as well as employment impacts) shows that saving the climate is still within our reach. But politicians need to stop talking and start leading, so engineers and workers can finally get building.
Despite scary looking articles about the "gobsmackingly gargantuan" challenge facing the renewable energy industry, the good news is that they are already tackling it. The European Photovoltaic Industry Association issued a report at the beginning of this month stating that global solar PV capacity could grow from over 36 GW at the end of 2010 to close to 180 GW by 2015, and has potential to reach up to 350 GW by 2020.
A similar report from the Global Wind Energy Council last year showed how wind could meet 12 percent of global power demand by 2020, and up to 22 percent by 2030. In fact, 2010 saw the global wind industry install two wind turbines an hour -- a total of 36,000 MW. The photovoltaic industry installed at the same time slightly more photovoltaic modules -- close to 37,000 MW.
In order to achieve 95 percent renewable power generation by 2050, projected wind installations need to be five times higher than today, solar PV six times higher. Seem a lot? Maybe, but in light of the double digit expansion in both industries in the past five years, the Energy [R]evolution projections seem if anything too conservative.
Renewable energy is likely to be a key industry in 2050, like the IT or car industries today. Millions of people will work to save the climate, avoid nuclear waste, and to build up a sustainable energy supply. Not a bad outlook at all.
Need more proof? Governments are already heavily investing in the energy revolution. In 2009, China overtook the U.S. to become the largest investor in clean energy. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, China invested $34.6 billion in 2009, compared to $18.6 billion invested by the U.S.
If this growth is sustained -- and there is no reason it shouldn't be -- our seemingly "gobsmackingly gargantuan" energy challenge becomes much more reasonable than putting a man on the moon in the sixties.
If we also get smart about the way we use energy and stop wasting it, we will be half way to ensuring our green supplies cover our needs. Exploitation of all technical potential for electrical efficiency (home insulation, consumer good efficiency standards), structural changes in the way energy is produced (moving away from large centralized power stations towards a decentralized energy system), and energy efficient transport modes (mass update of public transport systems, higher efficiency cars and trucks) are all needed.
If you add global renewable energy potential and smart energy use, there is no need to increase use of dirty and dangerous nuclear reactors. In the year of the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl, it seems archaic to look to an energy production system that still has no safe or permanent way of disposing of its highly radioactive waste as a solution.
Even in developed countries with an established nuclear infrastructure, it takes at least a decade from the decision to build a reactor to the delivery of its first electricity, and often much longer. Even if the world's governments decided to implement strong nuclear expansion now, only a few reactors, if any, would generate electricity before 2020.
The so-called "3rd generation" nuclear reactors being built in Finland and France right now are several years behind schedule and far over budget. A better bet is to go high tech, which means truly green power like wind, solar PV, geothermal, CSP, and hydro coupled with smart grid systems.
Even the International Energy Agency, normally a friend of nuclear power, finds that the combined potential of efficiency savings and renewable energy can cut emissions over 10 times more by 2050.
The kind of radical change we need in our energy system to tackle climate change might be a gargantuan challenge, but it's nothing the renewable energy industry can't deliver. We can do it. The question is whether our politicians and policymakers will.
Want to find out more? Read Greenpeace's Energy [R]evolution scenario, which gives more details on how all the above can be implemented. (The 260 page report is great for energy geeks; others might prefer the short version.) This scenario is increasingly recognized by international institutions like the IEA as one of the most feasible energy scenarios to avoid climate change.
In the report, three scenarios up to the year 2050 are outlined: a reference scenario, an Energy [R]evolution scenario with a target to reduce energy related CO2 emissions by 50 percent from 1990 levels, and an advanced Energy [R]evolution which envisages a drop of more than 80 percent by 2050.
20 Feb 2011 9:03am 1298221392 1298250192
Excellent report. Yes. Clean Energy (R)evolution has begun. A gradual transition from conventional energy to Renewable Energy (to some extent globally) is imminent.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
The price ain't right
What is coal’s true cost? 9
Photo: Andrea AbbottPaul Epstein, associate director of the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, will publish a study entitled, "Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal," later this month. The study has 10 coauthors, including public health and environment experts. A news release explains some of the key findings:
In a groundbreaking article to be released this month in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, details the economic, health and environmental costs associated with each stage in the life cycle of coal -- extraction, transportation, processing, and combustion. These costs, between a third to over half a trillion dollars annually, are directly passed on to the public.
In terms of human health, the report estimates $74.6 billion a year in public health burdens in Appalachian communities, with a majority of the impact resulting from increased healthcare costs, injury and death. Emissions of air pollutants account for $187.5 billion, mercury impacts as high as $29.3 billion, and climate contributions from combustion between $61.7 and $205.8 billion. Heavy metal toxins and carcinogens released during processing pollute water and food sources and are linked to long-term health problems. Mining, transportation, and combustion of coal contribute to poor air quality and respiratory disease, while the risky nature of mining coal results in death and injury for workers.
We've known for a long time that coal is a costly and deadly energy source. In "The Toll from Coal," The American Lung Association found that coal-powered electricity alone caused "over 13,000 premature deaths in 2010, as well as almost 10,000 hospitalizations and more than 20,000 heart attacks per year."
The National Research Council found in 2009 that burning fossil fuels costs the U.S. $120 billion a year -- not counting mercury or climate impacts! That relatively narrow analysis found that "in 2005 the total annual external damages from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter" from burning coal for power "were about $62 billion," and averaged "about 3.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy produced."
But we know that the harm from coal is much vaster, from global warming to local harm in Appalachia.
This new study attempts to quantify the full cost. It concluded:
The electricity derived from coal is an integral part of our daily lives. However, coal carries a heavy burden. The yearly and cumulative costs stemming from the aerosolized, solid, and water pollutants associated with the mining, processing, transport, and combustion of coal affect individuals, families, communities, ecological integrity, and the global climate. The economic implications go far beyond the prices we pay for electricity.
Our comprehensive review finds that the best estimate for the total economically quantifiable costs, based on a conservative weighting of many of the study findings, amount to some $345.3 billion, adding close to 17.8¢/kWh of electricity generated from coal. The low estimate is $175 billion, or over 9¢/kWh, while the true monetizable costs could be as much as the upper bounds of $523.3 billion, adding close to 26.89¢/kWh. These and the more difficult to quantify externalities are borne by the general public.
The average residential price of electricity is 12 cents per kWh.
The study notes that even these numbers are certainly underestimates of the full cost of coal:
Still these figures do not represent the full societal and environmental burden of coal. In quantifying the damages, we have omitted the impacts of toxic chemicals and heavy metals on ecological systems and diverse plants and animals; some ill-health endpoints (morbidity) aside from mortality related to air pollutants released through coal combustion that are still not captured; the direct risks and hazards posed by sludge, slurry, and CCW impoundments; the full contributions of nitrogen deposition to eutrophication of fresh and coastal sea water; the prolonged impacts of acid rain and acid mine drainage; many of the long-term impacts on the physical and mental health of those living in coal-field regions and nearby MTR sites; some of the health impacts and climate forcing due to increased tropospheric ozone formation; and the full assessment of impacts due to an increasingly unstable climate.
The true ecological and health costs of coal are thus far greater than the numbers suggest. Accounting for the many external costs over the life cycle for coal-derived electricity conservatively doubles to triples the price of coal per kWh of electricity generated.
The report also finds that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a far less attractive strategy than many realize:
Our analysis also suggests that the proposed measure to address one of the emissions-CO2, via CCS-is costly and carries numerous health and environmental risks, which would be multiplied if CCS were deployed on a wide scale. The combination of new technologies and the "energy penalty" will, conservatively, almost double the costs to operate the utility plants. In addition, questions about the reserves of economically recoverable coal in the United States carry implications for future investments into coal-related infrastructure.
Public policies, including the Clean Air Act and NewSourcePerformanceReview, are inplace to help control these externalities; however, the actual impacts and damages remain substantial. These costs must be accounted for in formulating public policies and for guiding private sector practices, including project financing and insurance underwriting of coal-fired plants with and without CCS. [Emphasis mine.]
This is consistent with other recent research:
- Harvard: "Realistic" first-generation CCS costs a whopping $150 per ton of CO2 -- 20 cents per kWh!
- Studyfind leaks from CO2 stored deep underground could contaminate drinking water
- Is coal with carbon capture and storage a core climate solution?
The public is unfairly paying for the impacts of coal use. Accounting for these ‘hidden costs' doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh, making wind, solar, and other renewable very economically competitive. Policymakers need to evaluate current energy options with these types of impacts in mind. Our reliance on fossil fuels is proving costly for society, negatively impacting our wallets and our quality of life.
Finally, the new study offers these recommendations:
- Comprehensive comparative analyses of life cycle costs of all electricity generation technologies and practices are needed to guide the development of future energy policies.
- Begin phasing out coal and phasing in cleanly powered smart grids, using place-appropriate alternative energy sources.
- A healthy energy future can include electric vehicles, plugged into cleanly powered smart grids; and healthy cities initiatives, including green buildings, roof-top gardens, public transport, and smart growth.
- Alternative industrial and farming policies are needed for coal-field regions, to support the manufacture and installation of solar, wind, small-scale hydro, and smart grid technologies. Rural electric co-ops can help in meeting consumer demands.
- We must end mountaintop-removal mining, reclaim all MTR sites and abandoned mine lands, and ensure that local water sources are safe for consumption.
- Funds are needed for clean enterprises, reclamation, and water treatment.
- Fund-generating methods include: maintaining revenues from the workers' compensation coal tax;
b. increasing coal severance tax rates;
c. increasing fees on coal haul trucks and trains;
d. reforming the structure of credits and taxes to remove misaligned incentives;
e. reforming federal and state subsidies to incentivize clean technology infrastructure.
- To transform our energy infrastructure, we must realign federal and state rules, regulations, and rewards to stimulate manufacturing of and markets for clean and efficient energy systems. Such a transformation would be beneficial for our health, for the environment, for sustained economic health, and would contribute to stabilizing the global climate.
Joseph Romm is the editor of Climate Progress and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
17 Feb 2011 7:35am 1297956943 1297985743
Good Study and useful results to support wider usage of Renewable Energy.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
no rain, no grain
The world is one poor harvest away from chaos 4
by Lester Brown
15 Feb 2011 11:33 AM
An Indian woman sifts grain from a previous harvest. Water shortages could drastically affect this year's harvest.Photo: World BankIn early January, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that its Food Price Index had reached an all-time high in December, exceeding the previous record set during the 2007-08 price surge. Even more alarming, on Feb. 3, the FAO announced that the December record had been broken in January as prices climbed an additional 3 percent.
Will this rise in food prices continue in the months ahead? In all likelihood, we will see further rises that will take the world into uncharted territory in the relationship between food prices and political stability.
Everything now depends on this year's harvest. Lowering food prices to a more comfortable level will require a bumper grain harvest, one much larger than the record harvest of 2008 that combined with the economic recession to end the 2007-08 grain price climb.
If the world has a poor harvest this year, food prices will rise to previously unimaginable levels. Food riots will multiply, political unrest will spread and governments will fall. The world is now one poor harvest away from chaos in world grain markets.
Over the longer term, expanding food production rapidly is becoming more difficult as food bubbles based on the overpumping of underground water burst, shrinking grain harvests in many countries. Meanwhile, increasing climate volatility, including more frequent, more extreme weather events, will make the expansion of production more erratic.
Some 18 countries [Excel] have inflated their food production in recent decades by overpumping aquifers to irrigate their crops. Among these are China, India, and the United States, the big three grain producers.
When water-based food bubbles burst in some countries, they will dramatically reduce production. In others, they may only slow production growth. In Saudi Arabia, which was wheat self-sufficient for more than 20 years, the wheat harvest is collapsing and will likely disappear entirely within a year or so as the country's fossil (non-replenishable) aquifer, is depleted.
In Syria and Iraq, grain harvests are slowly shrinking as irrigation wells dry up. Yemen is a hydrological basket case, where water tables are falling throughout the country and wells are going dry. These bursting food bubbles make the Arab Middle East the first geographic region where aquifer depletion is shrinking the grain harvest.
While these Middle East declines are dramatic, the largest water-based food bubbles are in India and China. A World Bank study [PDF] indicates that 175 million people in India are being fed with grain produced by overpumping. In China, overpumping is feeding 130 million people. Spreading water shortages in both of these population giants are making it more difficult to expand their food supplies.
Beyond irrigation wells going dry, farmers must contend with climate change. Crop ecologists have a rule of thumb that for each one-degree-Celsius (1.8-degrees-F) rise in temperature during the growing season, grain yields drop 10 percent. Thus it was no surprise that searing temperatures in western Russia last summer shrank the grain harvest by 40 percent.
On the demand side of the food equation, there are now three sources of growth. First is population growth. There will be 219,000 people at the dinner table tonight who were not there last night, many of them with empty plates. Second is rising affluence. Some 3 billion people are now trying to move up the food chain, consuming more grain-intensive meat, milk, and eggs. And third, massive amounts of grain are being converted into oil, i.e. ethanol, to fuel cars. Roughly 120 million tons of the 400-million-ton 2010 U.S. grain harvest are going to ethanol distilleries.
Encouragingly, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France vowed to use his term as president of the G20 in 2011 to stabilize world food prices. Thus far the talk has been about such measures as regulating export restrictions and speculation, but if the G20 ends up treating the symptoms and not the causes of rising food prices, the effort will be of little avail.
What is needed now is a worldwide effort to raise water productivity, similar to the one launched by the international community a half century ago to raise cropland productivity. This earlier effort tripled the world grain yield per acre between 1950 and 2010.
On the climate front, the goal of cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 -- the widely accepted goal by governments -- is not sufficient. The challenge now is to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020 with a World War II-type mobilization to raise energy efficiency and to shift from fossil fuels to wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
On the demand side, we need to accelerate the shift to smaller families. There are 215 million women in the world who want to plan their families, but who lack access to family planning services. They and their families represent over a billion of the world's poorest people. While filling the family planning gap, we need to simultaneously launch an all-out effort to eradicate poverty. Once under way, these two trends reinforce each other.
And in an increasingly hungry world, converting grain into fuel for cars is not the way to go. It is time to remove subsidies for converting grain and other crops into automotive fuel. If President Sarkozy can get the G20 to focus on the causes of rising food prices, and not just the symptoms, then food prices can be stabilized at a more comfortable level.
Lester R. Brown is founder and president of Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
16 Feb 2011 6:12am 1297865562 1297894362
I agree with most of your views Lester Brown. The climate change, exploitation of ground water beyond limits, judicious planning of crop rotation etc., all add to reduced production of food grains.Rainwater harvesting methods adopted in ancient times especially in developing countries need to be revived.
Here is an optimistic note on Food prices:
Food prices won't rise despite poor harvest, says China
(WORLDBAKERS, Supporting the baking and biscuit industry):
“China said Tuesday that it has enough wheat reserves to weather a crippling drought and sought to allay concerns that a poor harvest will further push up global food prices, reported The Canadian Press.
China is the world's largest wheat-growing nation, but its wheat belt has gotten virtually no precipitation since late October.
Global wheat prices have spiked in recent days, with some analysts blaming China's drought and concerns that Beijing would be forced to import wheat to meet domestic demand.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters at a regular news conference that China has plentiful reserves following seven years of bumper harvests and that recent drought conditions in the wheat belt "will not affect international food prices."
Ma said the government was taking active measures to minimize the drought's impact.
The government said last week it will spend $1 billion to alleviate the drought, which as of Sunday had affected 18 million acres (7 million hectares) of crops in northern and eastern China and left nearly 3 million people short of drinking water.”
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
Go big or go homeless
The gobsmackingly gargantuan challenge of shifting to clean energy 41
If I were king, I'd make everyone in America set aside time to watch the first hour of this video. It will change the way you think. Since I'm just a blogger, I expect most people won't, so beneath, I've extracted some of the key slides from Saul Griffith's extraordinary presentation, to give a clear sense of just what an enormous task lies ahead of us this century.
Say we decide we want to prevent the climate from entering irreversible feedback loops that spin us into biophysical circumstances our species has never experienced. Seems reasonable, no?
To avoid those feedbacks, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends keeping carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere beneath 450 parts per million. That is, it cannot be said enough, an extremely conservative estimate of what might be necessary. James Hansen and others have argued persuasively that 350 ppm is the better target. But Griffith works with 450ppm, and as you'll see, that's plenty daunting.
It turns out, to get on a trajectory to hit 450 ppm, we're going to need to turn off most of our fossil fuel energy, end deforestation, and build about 11.5 new terawatts of clean energy capacity by 2033 (30 years out from the 2003 baseline). Woo!
There is zero chance you can imagine a terawatt of energy. The brain does not grok numbers that big. So it will help to break things down a bit.
This is what the global energy mix needs to look like in 2033 (obviously there are plenty of assumptions about the viability of various sources embedded herein):
So what do we have to work with in the way of raw materials? Here's the total potential for different renewable energy sources (this is my favorite graphic of all time):
As you can see, surface solar is by far the biggest source of clean energy in absolute terms. Here's how much PV we will have to build:
And of course we'll need plenty of solar thermal:
Here's the wind we'll need:
We'll have to build the hell out of some nuclear plants:
Lotta geothermal too:
Griffith, appropriately in my view, doesn't look for much in biofuels. He sticks to the clean stuff, algae:
That's a lot of sh*t to build! As I said, it's "the equivalent of America's massive industrial build-up for WWII, only across the entire globe, for 40 years straight (at least), against a faceless enemy."
Of course we have no idea what the actual mix will end up being. There's no predicting innovation, much less politics. But the one thing we do know is that the task ahead is enormous, so gobsmackingly big that the smart money is almost certainly on failure. If we want a chance at success we're going to have to rethink a lot of our assumptions about consumption, economic analysis, policy design, and political strategy.
In a situation where doing too little is so likely and doing too much is virtually impossible, we're going to have to be climate hawks. That means leaning forward, biased ever toward action, choosing opportunism over optimization and the resilient over the efficient. Every second we dither, the climb gets steeper.
11 Feb 2011 9:25pm 1297488329 1297517129
Excellent. I entirely agree with you.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
The Biggest Loser
Are we in a ‘clean energy race’ with China? 7
A popular line among climate hawks these days goes something like this: If the U.S. doesn't support domestic clean energy, China will beat us in the clean energy race. The message has become quite popular lately, and indeed Obama said something very like it in his State of the Union, what with the "Sputnik Moment" (which, because I'm a bad person, I can't help thinking sounds like the title of a porn movie). There's been a wide-ranging debate about the merits of this approach on the interwebs over the last few months.
I think it helps to separate the claim into two parts: first, whether the U.S. should support domestic clean energy, and second, whether competition with China is a good rationale for doing so. The first is a knotty topic that I'll get into later, but for today, let's noodle over the second bit -- the "race."
Is it politically useful to say we are in a contest with China?
As I said in The New York Times' Room for Debate a couple weeks ago, the primary barrier to progress on clean energy is not a policy disagreement about the best way to move forward on clean energy. Rather, it's a disagreement about whether to move forward on clean energy. Republicans simply don't want to. Unlike the voting public -- even the conservative voting public -- they like fossil fuels just fine.
So, can they be persuaded to change their position by the specter of competition with China? Can fear of Chinese dominance produce bipartisan support for clean energy?
Conventional wisdom these days seems to be: yes, where appeals based on climate change failed, appeals based on competitiveness have a chance of succeeding. Surely no politician, no matter how skeptical about climate change, would want to let China ... beat America? Hell no! We're No. 1!
The question is, if it does motivate policymakers, what will it motivate them to do exactly? Michael Levi says it's not likely to end well:
Fears of China lead quickly to calls for protectionism, through steep barriers to clean energy imports or to Chinese investment in U.S. clean energy projects and firms; investment and imports are currently relatively small, but have great potential to grow. Such moves hurt support for Washington's efforts to open up foreign markets (including Chinese ones) to U.S. firms. They slow the flow of clean energy technology across borders, stifling innovation and delaying much-needed cuts in the cost of green technology. They starve capital-hungry U.S. firms of investment, while depriving U.S. consumers of access to cheaper sources of pollution-free power. At the same time, the Sputnik rhetoric is bound to sap lawmakers' enthusiasm for the sort of clean energy cooperation with China that President Barack Obama will push for during Hu's visit. This will hobble the development of cheaper sources of clean energy, delaying the much-needed expansion of clean energy markets and increasing costs for U.S. consumers.
That sounds bad! (Ryan Avent has similar thoughts.)
Levi is right to warn against crude protectionism (though, as he notes in a follow-up, China does have some legitimately objectionable trade and currency policies worth pushing back on). And he may be right to predict that America's reliably depressing political system will react that way. But I think it's too early to say so confidently. It will take a while to see if this narrative can shake anything loose, and given the abject failure of all previous narratives, I'm not too eager to shut it down before it has a fair shot at gaining momentum. However much I may think it's hooey (see below), if it yields more spending on infrastructure and RD&D, I say China boogabooga!
After all, no matter what message pandering congresscritters use to sell them, when it comes to negotiations with Hu, the Obama administration's hand will only be strengthened by having domestic clean energy policies in place.
Of course everyone should try to talk about competition with China appropriately and to tamp down xenophobia, but there's only so finicky one can afford to be in a political system with such overwhelming status quo bias.
But anyway, on the political side, I'm scoring it: too early to tell.
Are we in fact in a clean energy contest with China?
It depends what you mean by "contest." It's not a contest like Survivor, but it is a contest like The Biggest Loser.
Survivor is a zero-sum game. To the extent one participant succeeds, the others fail -- they're "voted off the island."
The Biggest Loser is different: every participant benefits just by participating. It's a competition, but it's a friendly competition wherein "winning" is mostly symbolic. The point is to lose weight.
The "clean energy race" is, or ought to be, like The Biggest Loser. Both countries can grow their clean energy industries without either getting voted off the island or "losing."
All the world's people will benefit from cheaper clean energy and lower carbon emissions. China and the U.S. will both benefit from the expansion of the global market for clean energy. They will both benefit from joint research initiatives, intellectual property and technology sharing, and the reduction of distorting trade barriers. America happens to be particularly strong in research and tech development; China happens to be particularly strong in economies of scale. Those are complementary strengths that, in a sane world, would produce mutual benefit.
The question, then, is this: What should the U.S. do to support domestic clean energy innovation and industry that will not have the unwelcome effect of suppressing Chinese clean energy innovation and industry? That, you'll be relieved to hear, won't get hashed out here. I'll tackle that in a future post
10 Feb 2011 10:03pm 1297404231 1297433031
Yes. The way China is advancing in Clean Energy, Every Nation is trying to catch up including US. President Obama is committed to promote Clean Energy in US.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
an incoherent joke
Climate deniers look out, see catastrophic storms, attack Al Gore 16
After a year of climate devastation in 2010, this year has begun with more extreme weather across the globe. In the southern hemisphere and along the equator, it is a summer of floods and storms -- in Australia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Tonga, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, as well as Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar.
The northern hemisphere's winter is similarly extreme, with normal patterns of air flow destabilized by a warmed Arctic Ocean. Extreme heat shattered records in California and Canada, while Arctic air and warm oceans combined to produce storm after storm of intense snow throughout Europe and the United States. The Arctic air flooding south brought chaos to the Southwest, leaving Arizonans without gas or electricity and causing rolling blackouts in Texas. Other areas of the world, including Argentina, Chile, and China, are suffering from crippling droughts.
The world has suffered billions of dollars of damage to infrastructure, homes, and crops, with transportation networks and national economies depressed by the extreme weather. Thousands of people have died, and millions more cast into suffering, little more than a month into the year. Global commodity prices have skyrocketed as production of wheat, sugar, rice, corn, and coal have been struck by climate disasters, feeding unrest across the Middle East and elsewhere.
The monster Groundhog Day blizzard stretching from New Mexico to Maine "paralyzed the nation's heartland with ice and snow, shuttering airports and schools and leaving normally bustling downtowns deserted." Satellite imagery shows the continent-wide storm's massive extent:
In response, conservative pundits have little to offer but puerile attacks on Al Gore, with jokes about eating Twinkies, snipes about bank accounts, and flat-out denial of global warming. It's a "snow-job," carped conservative meteorologist Dr. Ryan Maue, without challenging the fact that global warming pollution is influencing the climate and encouraging extreme weather. Dr. Roy Spencer strangely made the baseless claim that "the annual amount of precipitation that falls on the Earth stays remarkably constant from year to year," despite significant annual anomalies. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) went so far to attack Gore's "personal life."
9 Feb 2011 12:08am 1297238938 1297267738
I agree with the views of Nobel Laurate Al Gore on Global Warming and its effects and the need to initiate action to avert it.
“Effects of global warming and climate change. The effects, or impacts, of climate change may be physical, ecological, social or economic. Evidence of observed climate change includes the instrumental temperature record, rising sea levels, and decreased snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere. According to IPCC (2007a:10), "[most] of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in [human greenhouse gas] concentrations". It is predicted that future climate changes will include further global warming (i.e., an upward trend in global mean temperature), sea level rise, and a probable increase in the frequency of some extreme weather events. Signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have agreed to implement policies designed to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases”(Source: Wikipedia).
The scientists are concerned because there were several extreme events around the world this year, some happening at the same time — the extraordinary heatwave and wildfires in Russia, monsoons and flooding in Pakistan, landslides caused by heavy rain in China,floods in queensland and Brazil and the separation of a large iceberg from the Greenland ice sheet. Add to these the droughts and fires in Australia, and a record number of hot days on the East coast of the U.S.
Writes the World Meterological Organization:
Climate extremes have always existed, but all the events cited above compare with, or exceed in intensity, duration or geographical extent, the previous largest historical events. According to Roshydromet, studies of the past climate show no record of similar high temperatures since the tenth and eleventh centuries in Ancient Russia.
The occurrence of all these events at almost the same time raises questions about their possible linkages to the predicted increase in intensity and frequency of extreme events, for example, as stipulated in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007. The Report stated that “…the type, frequency and intensity of extreme events are expected to change as Earth’s climate changes, and these changes could occur even with relatively small mean climate changes. Changes in some types of extreme events have already been observed, for example, increases in the frequency and intensity of heat waves and heavy precipitation events” (Summary for Policy Makers, WG I, FAQ 10.1, p. 122).
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, meanwhile, has updated its analysis of global temperature changes on the Earth’s surface and finds that they’ve risen as fast in the last decade as they have in the previous two decades. This year the mean temperature (as measured by instrumental data) over 12 consecutive months set a record high.
NASA scientists submitted a paper describing the changes to Reviews of Geophysics that describes human-made climate change as “an issue of surpassing importance to humanity, and global warming (as) the first order manifestation of increasing greenhouse gases that are predicted to drive climate change.”(Source: Links between global warming and extreme weather get stronger By Deborah Gage | Sep 13, 2010 | ).
Blowing coal away
Wind power now competitive with coal in some regions 2
Photo: Vlasta JuricekMore good news on the renewable energy front Monday: The cost of onshore wind power has dropped to record lows, and in some regions is competitive with electricity generated by coal-fired plants, according to a survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm.
"The latest edition of our Wind Turbine Price Index shows wind continuing to become a competitive source of large-scale power," Michael Liebreich, Bloomberg New Energy Finance's chief executive, said in a statement.
"For the past few years, wind turbine costs went up due to rising demand around the world and the increasing price of steel," he added. "Behind the scenes, wind manufacturers were reducing their costs, and now we are seeing just how cheap wind energy can be when overcapacity in the supply chain works its way through to developers."
Driving the trend are falling prices for wind turbines, which have dropped to their lowest level since 2005, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Bloomberg said it based its analysis on a review of wind turbine contracts provided by 28 turbine buyers in 28 markets across the world. Those contacts represent nearly 7,000 megawatts' worth of turbines.
Of course, that's not necessarily good news for turbine manufacturers in the short term. But it makes wind energy more competitive over the long run. Over the past year the industry in the United States, for instance, has seen the wind taken out of its sails as demand has fallen due to the economy and natural gas prices have plummeted.
According to Bloomberg, contracts signed in late 2010 for turbines to be delivered in the first half of this year this year fell 7 percent from 2009 to an average of $1.33 million a megawatt. That's a 19 percent decline since 2007.
In some regions of Brazil, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States, the cost of electricity generated by wind farms is on par with coal-fired power, the report said. In those areas, the cost of wind-generated electricity is $68 per megawatt-hour compared to $67 a megawatt-hour for coal power and $56 per megawatt-hour for natural gas.
Meanwhile on Monday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the federal government would grant $50.5 million over five years to spur offshore wind farm developments on the East Coast.
The money will go toward developing offshore wind technology and removing market barrier to building coastal wind farms.
8 Feb 2011 3:51am 1297165886 1297194686
Yes. Wind is competitive with coal in many countries when the hidden cost of subsidies are taken into consideration. Moreover with ever advancing technology in Wind Turbines wind is going to play a major role in the energy mix in many countries.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
A BEACON IN THE SMOG
How to get to 100 percent renewables globally by 2050 30
There are many reasons to move to a sustainable energy system: fossil fuel supplies getting tighter, easy oil increasingly having to be replaced by uneasy oil, accelerating climate change. And most indications are that we'll have to go there as soon as possible.
But is it possible? And when? At Ecofys, we've been working for 25 years on our mission: "a sustainable energy supply for everyone." Two years ago, we figured it was about time to bring all our experts together to find out whether that really makes sense. Excited by our first findings, we found WWF willing to commission an in-depth study. And since today, the word is out! Or actually, 250 pages of it, in what's now called "The Energy Report." And the good news is: it's possible indeed, by 2050.
We started out by charting expected developments (population, economy) in 10 world regions. Global tempering of consumption is an easy way out for a scenario builder, but not very acceptable in the real world. And trying to keep up with the present growth in energy demand makes catching up with renewables practically impossible. So we went for maximum materials and energy efficiency, and looked for all available ways to provide the rising demand for services and goods with as little input of energy as possible. And there's a huge potential out there, given the fact that 95 percent of present energy consumption is waste, if one really looks at the end service provided (such as useful light).
Applying all those measures in industrial processes, buildings, and transport, and taking into account feasible implementation rates, leads to global energy demand stabilizing around 2020, and then slowly going down to just below 2000 levels, in spite of economic activity tripling by 2050.
When going over the renewable options available to supply that energy, one finds that the real bottleneck is in the fuels part of demand. Unless we can move to new fuels (like hydrogen) on a massive scale, which we did not consider likely for this period, much of that will have to come from biofuels. And for biofuels, we have to be very strict on avoiding competition with food production, dependence on irrigation (aggravating water supply problems), and destruction of forests.
So it makes a lot of sense to focus on electrification first: urban transport can be moved from fuel to electricity, and so can a lot of domestic heat demand. After stringent insulation of the home, and a solar heater for domestic hot water, an electric heatpump can be an efficient source for the remaining heat demand. These measures, combined with a strong growth in (energy efficient) appliances, lead to a growing fraction of electricity, for which a host of renewable options is available, like wind, solar, and geothermal power. Of course we'll need smart grids to accommodate a growing fraction of supply-driven sources; 25 percent is no problem in present grids, but we'll need to go to 60 percent by 2050.
After that, bio-energy comes into play, especially for fuels in shipping and aviation. Here we start with maximizing the use of residues from the forest and field, the food industry, and household waste. Then we introduce a limited amount of bio-crops, applying strict sustainability criteria. In the meantime, we phase out traditional biomass that is now used for cooking, often unsustainable. And from 2030, biomass from algae enters the scene: technology is available now, but needs to go a long way to become cost-competitive.
The resulting development looks like this:
If you watch the graph closely, you will see that we've actually found 95 percent of the solution. The remaining part is in processes for which we found no suitable renewable technologies available now. But hey, it's only 2011! Continued strong technological development can be expected in the decades to come.
Economically, following this road means that the world needs to divert up to 3 percent of GDP to investments in materials and energy efficiency, renewable energy, and necessary infrastructure. But savings on fossil fuels grow larger year by year, and the net cash needed peaks at 2 percent of GDP, before turning around into net savings by 2035. In 2050, we'll leave behind a system with immensely lower operating cost than the "business-as-usual" fossil-based system.
In the meantime, the effort will bring energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions down by 80 percent compared to their 1990 levels, providing a reasonable chance to limit average global warming to below 2 degrees C (3.6 F), as generally deemed necessary. This will obviously have big advantages in avoided climate change damage and adaptation costs.
And it will have a host of other benefits, like reduction of environmental pollution.
So yes, it can be done! What's necessary is strong leadership from both governments and companies. And hard work by all of us.
5 Feb 2011 2:19am 1296901144 1296929944
Interesting article with lot of optimism.
Renewables can only supplement conventional energy sources but cannot replace them totally. The main reason being their intermittent nature. Even after 60 years of emergence of simple Box Type Solar Cookers, they have to find wider adaptation in developing countries. Renewable Energy gadgets like Solar Water Heaters, Solar Driers,Solar Cookers,Solar PV,Solar Thermal; Wind Turbines,biomass units,microhydel systems can find wide use in favorable conditions. Especially the sunbelt countries can harness solar energy to their advantage.
More than energy generation, energy conservation through efficient devices and methods makes sense. Enormous energy can be saved by efficient lighting systems, by replacing old and efficient irrigation pump sets(Electrical),energy efficient buildings etc.,
Electricity is a high grade energy which must be used judiciously. Using Geysers for water heating is meaningless and one can use solar water heaters for this purpose. Even using gas to produce hot water is worthwhile. When countries like Germany, Denmark etc., where the ambient temperature even in summer hardly crosses 30 degrees Celsius use solar water heaters effectively, why not sunbelt countries? Our Centre designed Vertical and Cylindrical Solar Water Heater, Simple Drier, Hand operated Battery Charger, Pedal operated washing machine, Energy conservation in Electric Irrigation pumpsets,Air cum Water Cooler, Passive cooling of houses by Clay Covers,Microhydro Device for low heads, Multiple uses of Gas Stove ,Solar Disinfection to produce potable water etc., We have not taken any patents.
Our Gadgets can be found in Blog: drjagadeeshncda.blogspot.com
Nayudamma Centre for Development Alternatives
2/210 First Floor
NELLORE 524 002
Community wind projects still require financing acrobatics 1
Photo: Chris GawThis is part of a series on distributed renewable energy posted to Grist. It originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's New Rules Project.
Community wind projects deliver larger economic returns and encounter less local resistance, but a new report released last week shows that developing community wind still requires a daunting effort.
The report, by Lawrence Berkeley Labs wind guru Mark Bolinger, illustrates the new heights of financial acrobatics required to finance community wind projects. The history of community wind was already rich with terms like the "Minnesota Flip" and "tax equity partner," but a quick scan of the terminology alone illustrates the enormous effort required of local wind developers to get project financing:
- a 4.5 megawatt (MW) project in Maine that combines low-cost government debt with local tax equity
- a 25.3 MW project in Minnesota using a sale/leaseback structure
- a 10.5 MW project in South Dakota financed by an intrastate offering of both debt and
- a 6 MW project in Washington state that taps into New Markets Tax Credits using an
"inverted" or "pass-through" lease structure, and
- a 9 MW project in Oregon that combines a variety of state and federal incentives and loans
with unconventional equity from high-net-worth individuals.
The financial terms are more reminiscent of circus performers than power plant development, and they highlight the significant barriers to community wind:
For all their advantages -- local construction and contracting jobs, dividends for local shareholders, loans from local banks, reinvestment of profits in local communities -- these projects account for only 2 percent of the wind power capacity in the United States, or 4 percent, if projects owned by public utilities are included. (Wind power of all varieties contributes 2 percent of all the electricity used in the U.S.)
In particular, community wind investors often lack the tax liability required to fully cash in on the federal Production Tax Credit that provides 2.1 cents per kilowatt-hour over 10 years. (Note: for more on this see our 2008 report on Broadening Wind Energy Ownership.)
The last two years have been the exception, because the federal stimulus package allowed wind projects to get a cash grant in lieu of the tax credit. But even with the grant, community wind projects have needed these new high-flying moves to attract sufficient capital and get their projects off the mat. It's worth considering what makes the U.S. such a hostile market for community wind:
Community wind may sound quaint, but as of 2000, it made up roughly 80 percent of all wind power capacity in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom combined.
It's also an issue for the U.S. wind industry's future. While U.S. wind projects generally are encountering increasing hostility and political fights, community wind projects typically find a warmer welcome:
"In local communities, there’s been little to no opposition to wind projects," said Eric Lantz, a wind policy analyst at the Renewable Energy Laboratory and a co-author of the study. "There’s more pride taken when you’re able to participate with an ownership stake."
It would be well worth the effort for U.S. lawmakers to consider how to make community wind easier. Community wind projects tend to be of a size that's more cost-effective than large wind projects, making wind power more affordable. Community wind projects generate more local economic benefits, increasing the returns to host communities and states with supportive wind policies. And most of all, community wind projects generate minimal local opposition, a key to expanding wind energy production.
What can the U.S. do better? The U.S. state with the most community wind -- Minnesota -- used a cash incentive production payment (rather than tax credits), and most European countries use standard, long-term contract offers with an attractive price (also known as CLEAN contracts or feed-in tariffs). It wouldn't take much to make a big difference.
6 Feb 2011 1:02am 1296982943 1297011743
Yes. Community Wind Projects will be a success
Community wind projects are locally owned by farmers, investors, businesses, schools, utilities, or other public or private entities who utilize wind energy to support and reduce energy costs to the local community. The key feature is that local community members have a significant, direct financial stake in the project beyond land lease payments and tax revenue. Projects may be used for on-site power or to generate wholesale power for sale, usually on a commercial-scale greater than 100 kW.
Financially, community-based wind projects are structured much differently than traditional wind farms. In the traditional model, the company that builds and manages a wind farm retains sole ownership of the development. The owners of the land on which the wind turbines were built usually have no stake in development, and are instead compensated through lease payments or by royalty-based contracts.
The more people that become involved through community wind power, the more democratic the energy supply system becomes. Energy sellers make a profit, landowners receive leasing fees, communities get improved infrastructure, local people get jobs, governments receive taxes, and consumers receive electricity at competitive prices.
Currently, companies following a community model comprise only a small portion of the overall wind energy industry. In comparison to traditional wind companies, community wind businesses tend to develop smaller-scale projects, often less than 50 megawatts (MW).
The Dane’s emphasis on non-polluting individual and public transportation is not the only reason for cleaner air in their major city. After the first oil crisis in 1973, the Danes began a grassroots movement that shifted their national energy priorities. At the time, Denmark was almost completely dependent on foreign oil for heating, transportation and electricity generation. Like many countries, they faced a fork in the road, and with characteristic intelligence and pragmatism, they chose conservation and renewable energy, and left the nuclear option behind..
“In April 1985, bowing to public pressure, the Danish Parliament (the Folketing) made the decision to not build nuclear reactors. This was one year before the core meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine.”
One of the legacies of Denmark’s grassroots feminist movement, is a landscape dotted with 5,300 wind turbines. Everywhere you travel in Denmark, there are wind turbines on the horizon. On the Folk centre’s island, with a mostly rural population of 12,000, there are 142 wind turbines.
Wind Managing Stock exchanges
There are stock exchanges, which sell wind securities, but you can also put an ad in the newspaper or online with offers of buying and selling of securities.
People who buy shares in a turbine co-op have a basic deduction of 3.000kr and all income in addition is added to the personal income tax and therefore can reach up to 60%.
If you for example earn 10.000kr on your shares, you pay: 10,000 - 3,000 = 7,000 - 60% = 4.200kr in tax and may keep 5.800kr for your self.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India