Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Great Transition, Part II: Building a Wind-Centered Economy

In the race to transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy and avoid runaway climate change, wind has opened a wide lead on both solar and geothermal energy.

Solar panels, with a capacity totaling 70,000 megawatts, and geothermal power plants, with a capacity of some 11,000 megawatts, are generating electricity around the world. The total capacity for the world’s wind farms, now generating power in about 80 countries, is near 240,000 megawatts. China and the United States are in the lead.

Over the past decade, world wind electric generating capacity grew at nearly 30 percent per year, its increase driven by its many attractive features and by public policies supporting its expansion. Wind is abundant, carbon-free and nondepletable. It uses no water, no fuel, and little land. Wind is also locally available, scales up easily, and can be brought online quickly. No other energy source can match this combination of features.

One reason wind power is so popular is that it has a small footprint. Although a wind farm can cover many square miles, turbines occupy only 1 percent of that area. Compared with other renewable sources of energy, wind energy yield per acre is off the charts. For example, a farmer in northern Iowa could plant an acre in corn that yields enough grain to produce roughly $1,000 worth of fuel-grade ethanol per year, or he could use that same acre to site a turbine producing $300,000 worth of electricity each year.

Because turbines take up only 1 percent of the land covered by a wind farm, ranchers and farmers can, in effect, double-crop their land, simultaneously harvesting electricity while producing cattle, wheat or corn. With no investment on their part, farmers and ranchers can receive $3,000 to $10,000 a year in royalties for each wind turbine on their land. For thousands of ranchers on the U.S. Great Plains, wind royalties will one day dwarf their earnings from cattle sales.

Wind is also abundant. In the United States, three wind-rich states—North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas—have enough harnessable wind energy to easily satisfy national electricity needs. Another attraction of wind energy is that it is not depletable. The amount of wind energy used today has no effect on the amount available tomorrow.

Unlike coal, gas, and nuclear power plants, wind farms do not require water for cooling. As wind backs out coal and natural gas in power generation, water will be freed up for irrigation and other needs.

Perhaps wind’s strongest attraction is that there is no fuel cost. After the wind farm is completed, the electricity flows with no monthly fuel bill. And while it may take a decade to build a nuclear power plant, the construction time for the typical wind farm is one year.

Future wind complexes in the Great Plains, in the North Sea, off the coast of China or the eastern coast of the United States may have generating capacity measured in the tens of thousands of megawatts. Planning and investment in wind projects is occurring on a scale not previously seen in the traditional energy sector.

One of the obvious downsides of wind is its variability. But as wind farms multiply, this becomes less of an issue. Because no two farms have identical wind profiles, each farm added to a grid reduces variability. A Stanford University research team has pointed out that with thousands of wind farms and a national grid in a country such as the United States, wind becomes a remarkably stable source of electricity.

In more densely populated areas, there is often local opposition to wind power— the NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) response. But in the vast ranching and farming regions of the United States, wind is immensely popular for economic reasons. For ranchers in the Great Plains, farmers in the Midwest or dairy farmers in upstate New York, there is a PIMBY (“put it in my backyard”) response.

Farmers and ranchers welcome the additional income from having wind turbines on their land. Rural communities compete for wind farm investments and the additional tax revenue to support their schools and roads.

One of the keys to developing wind resources is building the transmission lines to link wind-rich regions with population centers. Perhaps the most exciting grid project under development is the so-called Tres Amigas electricity hub, a grid interconnection center to be built in eastern New Mexico. It will link the three U.S. electricity grids — the Eastern, Western, and Texas grids. Tres Amigas is a landmark in the evolution of the new energy economy. With high-voltage lines linking the three grids where they are close to each other, electricity can be moved from one part of the United States to another as conditions warrant. By matching surpluses with deficits over a broader area, electricity wastage and consumer rates can both be reduced. Other long distance transmission lines are under construction or in the planning stages. More

 

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‘Bermuda should be the model for clean energy for the world’

Leading US conservationist Larry Schweiger, president of Virginia-based National Wildlife Federation visited Bermuda as a special guest speaker at the Bermuda Environmental Alliance’s ‘Latin Night for Planet Earth’ gala last Friday.

Mr Schweiger spoke about climate change and the impact it is likely to have on low-lying land and islands, such as Bermuda, and pointed to ways that the Island can be a ‘clean energy’ model for the world.

Here is a shortened version of Mr Schweiger’s speech:

We need to look north to see our future.

The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on earth. It has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average in the past fifty years. The Arctic has lost 20 percent more summer ice in 2012 than it did in the record-setting year 2007. We could see the complete loss of summer ice by the end of this decade. Dark open water or barren ice-free Arctic lands increase the amount of solar radiation absorbed and further speed the melting process.

Nearly the size of continental United States, Arctic ice is vital for temperature regulation in the Arctic region as it bounces about 90 percent of the sun’s energy as albedo. Open water absorbs 80 percent of the energy thus changing a giant reflector into a massive energy absorbing system. As the Arctic region warms, it thaws the nearby tundra and releases carbon dioxide and methane.

Open water is an important threat because it will heat deep Arctic waters that release methane and spawn the decay of nearby Arctic tundra that has the potential to triple the carbon in the sky through rapid decomposition of the organic matter. As permafrost soils decompose they release massive amounts CO2. Warm Arctic waters and warming thermokarst lakes and ponds also releases large quantities of extremely potent greenhouse-gas methane that further accelerate climate change, as methane is a potent greenhouse gas.

As the Arctic warms, Greenland warms and becomes the source of enormous amounts of runoff. It is an island covered by two-mile thick ice that is being impacted by Arctic warming. During 2011, Greenland dumped 100 billion tons of ice and water into the ocean. In 2007 the worst year on record, about 40 percent of the Greenland surface was experiencing melt. This past summer about 97 percent of the island was experiencing melt. The total volume of water released in 2012 is not yet available but it’s increasingly clear that the Greenland ice sheet may soon pass a point of no return as the Arctic ice disappears.

What happens in Greenland will not stay in Greenland. Added to the expansion-driven sea-level rise caused by warming waters, sea level rise from melting glaciers and Greenland is a rapidly approaching reality for islands, coastal communities and mega-delta regions of the world. Worldwide, a one-metre rise in sea level will displace 100 million people.

Warming ocean waters also produce more atmospheric moisture and breed fewer but bigger hurricanes. Powerful climatological shifts caused by an overheated Arctic will have unpredictable but certainly far-reaching consequences to Bermuda and other low-lying regions of the world.

We are already experiencing strong signals that climate change is happening now. Forest fires happen four times as often in the US and burn six times more acres. Massive droughts have been affecting critically important agricultural lands. Mega storms worldwide are increasing damages by about one percent per year. All these climate-driven trends added together signal a challenging future for us all.

Since the island of Bermuda is experiencing sea-level rise three times the world average rates and since it is in the path of hurricanes that are expected to become stronger and stronger, Bermuda should be the model for clean energy for the world. Working together we can decarbonise our energy supplies and avoid the worst.

This is doable. Since electric energy production in Bermuda is primarily produced by expensive imported oil, I believe Bermuda can create an efficient, clean energy path at equal or less cost than consumers are currently paying for electricity. Solar panel prices for example, have declined by 50 percent last year and LED lights and other efficiency measures can dramatically cut energy demand and save money.

We need to have unprecedented international cooperation to move away from carbon emitting fossil fuels to advanced efficiency measures and spawn serious investments in clean energy sources such as solar, wind, wave and current energy. More

 

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$138 Million Maldives Renewable Energy Project Backed by World Bank Launched

The Energy Authority of Maldives has announced the inception of $138 million renewable energy project which would generate 26 MW of electricity in Maldives.

Abdul Matheen, State Minister for Energy revealed that the project is expected to be completed within five years. Out of a total 26 MW of generated electricity, 16 MW will be supplied to the Male region, which constitutes 30% of the total population of the country.


This project is a part of a renewable energy investment plan of the government which has been developed under the Sustainable Renewable Energy Project (SREP) of the Climate Investment Fund. The project would be funded by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and German and Japanese Banks.

According to the Energy Authority of the Maldives, the project will be extended to 50 islands to promote the use of renewable energy.


“We are making preparations to commence the project during next month. Under the project, ten islands would run solely on renewable energy. In addition, 30 percent of electricity in 30 islands will be converted to renewable energy,” Matheen detailed. More


 

 

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Richard Branson Addresses US Navy on Advanced Renewable Fuels

Richard Branson Addresses US Navy on Advanced Renewable Fuels

Published onOct 18, 2012byCarbonWarRoom

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The Carbon War Room's Aviation & Renewable Jet Fuel Operation's mission is to reduce the aviation industry's greenhouse gas emissions by accelerating the scale-up of a sustainable renewable jet fuel industry. Unlike road transport, air travel still doesn't offer the consumer a green travel option. It is our goal to try to bring about greener flights for all by getting non-petroleum fuels from demonstration stage to commercial use on the runway tarmac around the world. We will accomplish this by solving the information barrier, encouraging sustainable technologies and business models, and helping the industry cross the financial “valley of death”. In its current, nascent stage, getting the growth capital needed for commercial-scale production build-out is a major challenge. We are working with partners in the financial community, leading fuel purchasers, insurers, governments, and producers to help launch the industry, using the data and analysis contained in Elsevier Biofuel TechSelect and RenewableJetFuels.org. The Carbon War Room is working to achieve its mission by tackling the market barriers that currently face the renewable jet fuel industry.

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Saudi Arabia Unveils Plan to be Powered Entirely by Renewable Energy

Saudi Arabia recently revealed that it is planning to be powered 100% by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy.

One of the state’s main spokesmen, Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, said that he was hoping that Saudi Arabia would be powered completely by low-carbon energy within his lifetime. He made the groundbreaking statement during the Global Economic Symposium in Brazil. He did acknowledge, though, that it was likely to take longer, as he is already 67.


Realistically, the process would take at least a few decades, and that’s if the country is serious about it. There have been some observers expressing skepticism about the purpose of the announcement, suggesting it may just be greenwashing.

The Saudi prince expressed that the country was most definitely moving forward with investment renewables, nuclear power, and other undefined alternatives to fossil fuels. Noting that their vast oil reserves would still be in demand for their use as plastics and polymers.


“Oil is more precious for us underground than as a fuel source,” he said. “If we can get to the point where we can replace fossil fuels and use oil to produce other products that are useful, that would be very good for the world. I wish that may be in my lifetime, but I don’t think it will be.”

Joss Garman, political director of Greenpeace, said: “It speaks volumes that a Saudi prince can see the benefits of switching to clean energy sources when [UK chancellor] George Osborne seemingly cannot, but Saudi Arabia will only truly be a green economy when it leaves its fossil fuels in the ground.”

Currently, Saudi Arabia’s energy is provided nearly completely by burning fossil fuels, nearly two-thirds from oil and the rest from natural gas. It produces around 12 million barrels of oil every day. That’s more than 12% of the entire world’s production, and the country has at least 1/5 of the world’s proven oil reserves, according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration. And because of how artificially-low oil prices are kept within the kingdom, the per capita energy use there is quite high. More




 

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Many Strong Voices: What we do

Global engagement in climate negotiations & IPCC

Many Strong Voices uses the Unted Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations to spread the word on climate change and its effects on SIDS and the Arctic while raising awareness about the rapid changes happening in these regions.

A storm off the Seychelles

Lobbying and awareness raising

Over the years, MSV and its partners have organized side events, lobbied and developed language for official documents and draft texts, held exhibitions of works by student photographers as part of the Portraits of Resilience project. Highlights include:

  • Getting human rights language into the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA)
  • Holding successful side events, including one on Food Security and Human Rights in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States, which was reported in the MSV blog. Speakers included Patricia Cochran (head of the Alaska Native Science Commission), Ronny Jumeau (Seychelles Ambassador to the United Nations), Kirt Ejesaik (Vice-president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council – Canada), and Margreet Wewerinke (a member of the Climate Change Human Rights Working Group).
  • Portraits of Resilience exhibitions have been held at negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009 and Durban in 2011. The project has been featured by UNEP and on numerous web sites, including Google Earth.
  • Outreach and communications are important parts of MSV activities at UNFCCC events. Besides the activities mentioned above, these include displays, posters, participation in activities such as Development and Climate Days, and media interviews. Social media play a major role in MSV communications at the COP with information circulating on MSV blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Observer at IPCC

MSV has recently become an observer at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and will use this position to support efforts by partners in the Arctic, SIDS and other regions to support science and research from some of the most vulnerable regions being included in the next Assessment Report in 2015.

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Philippine Wind Turbines

Bangui Windmills are considered to be the biggest in Southeast Asia. It’s fascinating that Philippines has this kind of renewable energy resources.

Bangui Windmills are considered to be the biggest in Southeast Asia. It’s fascinating that Philippines has this kind of renewable energy resources.

Each windmill has 236 meters apart on shore. These beautiful structures has 41 meters blade and the its height is roughly equivalent to a 23-storey building. I hope our government should provide more renewable energy in different parts of the country and reduce the frightening greenhouse effect which causes global warming. More

 

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Secretary-General Assures CARICOM of Better Cooperation, Requests Engagement on SDGs and Post-2015 Agenda

27 September 2012: During a meeting on the sidelines of the opening of the UN General Assembly session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon assured leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) of improved cooperation between the UN and CARICOM regarding trade, debt, climate change and transnational organized crime, among other issues.

He also pledged to continue to raise the issue of the vulnerability of Caribbean island nations to the international financial crisis with the Group of Eight (G8) and Group of 20 (G20) countries.

Ban made the remarks during a meeting with CARICOM Chair Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, as well as President Donald Romotar of Guyana, Prime Minister Simpson Miller of Jamaica, and other CARICOM leaders, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 27 September 2012.

Ban said he is committed to ensuring that both the CARICOM Secretariat and CARICOM Member States receive UN assistance that is “more targeted and more responsive to the needs of the region.” He mentioned, for example, current talks with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to implement a regional strategy and to return a small permanent office to the Caribbean.

The Secretary-General thanked CARICOM for its leadership in the lead-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), and asked the Community to “continue that dynamic engagement” during the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the construction of a post-2015 development agenda. [Statement of UN Secretary-General] More

 

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Better protection for persons displaced by natural disasters

Better protection for persons displaced by natural disasters

Bern, 02.10.2012 – Norway and Switzerland intend to set up an international agenda for the protection of persons forced to leave their country as a consequence of natural disasters. The Nansen Initiative was launched in Geneva on 2 October 2012 in the presence of Steffen Kongstad, Norway's Ambassador to the UN, and Manuel Bessler, the Federal Council delegate for humanitarian aid. The initiative aims to address the need for normative and institutional measures to protect those affected.

The ceremony in the Palais des Nations to launch the Nansen Initiative, which is named after the polar explorer and first High Commissioner for Refugees Fridtjof Nansen, was attended by numerous representatives of states, NGOs and the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Manuel Bessler, the Federal Council delegate for humanitarian aid, representing Switzerland, said in his address: “During my deployments in affected regions such as the Horn of Africa I found that cross-border movements caused by natural disasters are a real problem that has increased in importance in recent years.

It has been proven that there is a need for measures to protect persons displaced by natural disasters. Every year millions of people have to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere because of floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts and other natural disasters. Many of these find shelter in their own country but others have to cross national borders. Movements such as these are likely to increase as a result of global warming. National and international measures to protect the persons affected are either non-existent or inadequate.

While displaced persons are protected in their own country by the UN guidelines on internal displacement and by regional instruments, there is a gap in legislation governing cross-border movements caused by natural disasters. Usually such persons are not victims of persecution and are therefore not protected under the UN Convention on Refugees. Moreover, the Human Rights Conventions do not govern key aspects such as the right to enter a country, settlement and the basic rights of those affected. There is also a lack of criteria to distinguish between cross-border movements caused by natural disasters and voluntary migration.

An inter-state process is required in order to close these gaps. At the UNHCR Ministerial Meeting held in Geneva in December 2011, Norway and Switzerland pledged to cooperate with interested countries to formulate solutions to protect persons displaced externally due to natural disasters. This pledge was welcomed by various other States and provides the basis for the Nansen Initiative. The initiative of Norway and Switzerland aims to formulate a protection agenda to serve as the basis for concrete activities in the fields of prevention, protection and assistance during cross-border displacement, return and other permanent solutions for the period following a natural disaster.

Over the next three years the initiative will carry out a series of consultations with governments and representatives of civil society in regions which are particularly affected, on the basis of which a global dialogue will then be organised with a view to formulating a protection agenda. The Nansen Initiative will be headed by a steering group consisting of between six and eight States of the South and North under the chairmanship of Norway and Switzerland. Professor Walter Kälin, a well-known Swiss expert in human rights, has been proposed as envoy of the chairmanship. A consultative committee consisting of representatives of civil society and international organisations will assist the process. The Nansen Initiative is supported by a small secretariat based in Geneva. More

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