Monthly Archives: April 2013

Thin Ice Film

 

ORIGINS

Thin Ice is a joint initiative between Oxford University, United Kingdom, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (VUW), and London-based DOX Productions. Both Universities have active programmes with world-wide networks of collaborators in climate change and related research. For Oxford see www.climateprediction.net andwww.eci.ox.ac.uk, and for VUW see www.victoria.ac.nz/antarctic and www.victoria.ac.nz/climate-change.

The project began over a cup of coffee at a Climate Change and Governance conference in Wellington in March 2006. Peter Barrett (VUW) suggested to Simon Lamb (Oxford) that he make a film about it with his friend David Sington (DOX Productions)

The aim from the outset was to give people from all walks of the life the chance to see the astonishing range of human activity as well as scientific endeavour that is required to help us understand our changing climate. Our idea was then we would all be better able to decide both individually and collectively how we might deal with it.

What we have done

We have visited researchers on 4 continents and the ocean as they studied the changes in the atmosphere, oceans and ice sheets through measurements (from instruments, satellites, ice and rock) and computer modelling. We have to think not only in human time scales (hundreds of years), but also Ice Age time scales (tens of thousands of years), and even beyond (before 2-3 million years ago) when Earth was naturally warmer.

FILM CREDITS

A David Sington/Simon Lamb Film

Directors: David Sington and Simon Lamb

Co-producer: Catherine Fitzgerald

Executive Producers: Peter Barrett and Philip England

Editor: David Fairhead

Music: Phillip Sheppard

Photographer: Simon Lamb

Additional photography: Tony Burrows, Christoph Lerch and Chris Terpstra

Sound: Sarah Kinsella, Michael Kerslake, Tony Williams,

Rudolf Schwarz, Steve Cochran and James Rae


WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO:

Oxford University Department of Earth Sciences

Victoria University of Wellington:

– Research Office (Professor Neil Quigley)

– Victoria University Foundation (Tricia Walbridge)

– Faculty of Science, Architecture & Design (David Bibby)

– Teaching Aids (Steve Cochran and staff)

Antarctica New Zealand:

– Lou Sanson and staff in Christchurch

– Staff at Scott Base for logistical support during the 2007/8 Antarctic field season

United States National Science Foundation:

– Office of Polar Programs

– Staff at McMurdo Station for logistical support during the 2007/8 Antarctic field season

National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA):

– The captains and crews of the of the RV Tangaroa and RV Kaharoa

University Museum of Natural History, Oxford University:

– Prof. Jim Kennedy

British High Commission, New Zealand:

Chris Harrington, Philippa Norton and Ric Nye

Glassworks, Wellington, New Zealand:

– Grant Franklin

British Embassy, Copenhagen, Denmark:

– Mogens Olsen

ALSO THANKS FOR:

Satellite imagery courtesy of Geoeye and NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Visualization Studio (www.geoeye.com and http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/)

Ocean current animation courtesy of CSIRO, Australia, kindly animated at 1080p by Graeme Whittle.

One year computer weather simulation courtesy of the UK – Japan Climate Collaboration (www.earthsimulator.org.uk)animated by R. Stockli & P.L. Vidale.

Global temperature data courtesy of Goddard Institute of Space Studies – GISTEMP Project (Dr James Hansen and Robert Schmunk) http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/.

Ice core record courtesy of NOAA Ice Core Gateway, Etheridge et al. 1996, Jouzel et al. 2007, Luthi et al. 2008, www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore/antarctica .

CO2 historical emissions data courtesy of Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre (CDIAC), www.cdiac.ornl.gov .

 

Comments Off on Thin Ice Film

Filed under SIDS

Speed-dating, solar panels and the importance of process

The sun has set on the Pacific Energy Summitbut will the heat generated be channelled into sustainable development? This is the 635 million New Zealand dollar question.

Co-hosted by New Zealand and the European Union, the Summit brought together donor agencies, Pacific Island leaders and renewable energy companies. The goal was to help Pacific Island countries and territories move towards a target of generating 50% of their electricity from renewables. If, like us, you weren’t at the summit in person, you can watch the sessions online here. In effect, the Summit was speed-dating of sorts, bringing together:

  • Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) in need of renewable energy but without the financial resources, or technical and policy know-how;
  • donors with the resources (in the form of concessional loans and grants) and the ability to offer policy advice; and
  • renewable energy companies with the technical expertise to create and build the infrastructure.

This was speed dating with a cause though. Aimed at tackling a very real problem. As the UNDP’s Helen Clark emphasised in her talk at the summit, “the Pacific has the highest petroleum fuel dependency of any region or sub-region in the world … This heavy reliance on fuel imports exposes the islands to a high degree of price volatility, and takes away resources from important development priorities.” What the Summit did was respond to PICTs’ need for capital and technology. PICTs brought along a total of 79 renewable energy project proposals, and then it was up to donors and companies to make a date, matching themselves to projects. By the close of the Summit, over half of these projects had been committed to. This is impressive.

The focus on investment was deliberate. NZ’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, opened the Summit with a reference to his impatience arguing that we have the resources, we understand what is needed, but we are taking too long to deliver solutions. This is fair enough and we share his desire for results on the ground. But impatience brings the risk of failure. In the complex contexts of developing countries hasty aid is often wasted aid.

Already the Pacific is littered with malfunctioning renewable energy projects: solar panels that don’t work in Kiribati health clinics; broken generators damaging solar batteries in Tuvalu. There is a lot to learn about how to ensure that investments in renewable energy are sustainable. Yet, the Summit’s emphasis on selling renewable energy technology meant that, although there were many policy and technical specialists in the room, public discussion of the most important questions was scant.

Questions like: What are the exact pathways from renewable energy to human development? What else is needed to make sure the former leads to the latter? What level of investment in renewable technologies is warranted in each country? Who needs power most, and will large-scale, grid-connected infrastructure really meet their needs? What are the best ways to deal with the maintenance issues that sustainability relies upon? And do PICT governments have the capacity to negotiate with private providers or to manage large scale technical infrastructure? The answers to these questions are important and the summit missed an opportunity in not affording them more prominence. It was encouraging to hear Dominican Ambassador Vince Henderson speak eloquently on his country’s experiences of some of these challenges, but there needed to be a lot more of this.

The Summit was also problematic in that its focus on the goal of achieving renewable energy targets meant it overlooked an issue inherent in such targets. The easiest way for a country to meet a target of having a high proportion of its electricity come from renewable sources is often to devote most of its resources towards replacing non-renewable with renewable technology on the already existing electricity grid. Such an agenda ignores the need to widen access to electricity through expansion of the grid or smaller-scale off-grid rural electrification. For many PICTs, this means neglecting people that live in rural and remote areas – the very people who are more likely to be poor and to whom aid should be directed.

The focus on renewable funding projects and meeting energy targets also distracts from other important issues. One is the need for sound regulatory arrangements that determine pricing, and which consider affordability for poor households. Success in this area requires the navigation of complex institutional challenges.

Also, focusing on enhanced renewable electricity sources via big infrastructure projects may well mean neglecting the need for more action on energy efficiency – often a far cheaper way to reduce dependence on fossil fuel consumption. More

 

Comments Off on Speed-dating, solar panels and the importance of process

Filed under SIDS

Lockheed, Reignwood to Build Ocean Thermal Power Plant for China

The 10-megawatt facility powered by ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC, may spur use of a technology that has the potential for billions of dollars of projects, Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed said on its website. The plant will produce power for a Chinese resort being built by Reignwood.

“Benefits to generating power with OTEC are immense,” Dan Heller, vice president of new ventures for Lockheed Martin mission systems and training, said in yesterday’s statement. “Constructing a sea-based, multimegawatt pilot OTEC power plant for Reignwood is the final step in making it an economic option to meet growing needs for clean, reliable energy.”

While OTEC systems are able to produce round-the-clock power, clean drinking water and hydrogen for use in electric vehicles, there are no commercial-scale plants in operation.

The agreement with Reignwood may be the foundation to develop OTEC power plants from 10 megawatts to 100 megawatts, Lockheed said in the statement. A commercial-scale plant would have the capability to power a small city, it said.

Lockheed already has tested an OTEC plant that ran for three months and produced 50 kilowatts of electricity. It got $12.5 million from the U.S. Navy to develop a pilot facility. More

 

 

Comments Off on Lockheed, Reignwood to Build Ocean Thermal Power Plant for China

Filed under SIDS

Pacific nations urged to call for global shift to renewable energy

Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change called upon the Pacific Island Small Island Developing States to use their voice to call for a faster transfer to renewable energy use across the globe.

Christiana Figueres

“Traditionally the Small Island Developing States have used their voice to flesh out all the details of adaptation and loss and damage at the climate negotiations. Do not let up on this. In addition use your voice to bring a transformation to renewable energy”.

The two day summit in New Zealand has brought together Pacific island countries and territories with donors and partners to help foster faster renewable energy investments in the Pacific.

79 projects and activities with an indicative project value of NZD 1.6 billion have been identified by Pacific island countries; half of these projects with a value close to NZD 800 million are not yet fully funded. The Pacific Energy Summit hopes to close this funding gap.

Pacific Islands spend, on average, 10 percent of their gross domestic product importing petroleum products. While the increase of renewable energy will help address the economic issues in the Pacific, it also helps to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.

“Small Island Developing States alone cannot bend the curve of global emissions. It is in other regions that major transformation to renewable energy needs to take place. There is hardly a group of countries in the world like the SIDS that are more vulnerable to the present increase of global emissions,” said Figueres at the meeting today.

Pacific island countries have banded together under the Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy project (PIGGAREP) to collectively to reduce Pacific greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2015 through helping 11 Pacific island countries to overcome barriers to renewable energy.

Implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), this project is funded by the Global Environment Facility and co-financing partners. The UNDP Multi-country Office in Samoa is the Principal Project Representative.

“What I have learned from all of you is there is no magical solution, no quick fix, no one size fits all,” said Figueres. More

 

Comments Off on Pacific nations urged to call for global shift to renewable energy

Filed under Uncategorized