Tag Archives: climate change

This Caribbean Island Just Went 100% Renewable – Via Winston Connolly

Bonaire (pop. 14,500), a small island off the coast of Venezuela, is famous for its beautiful marine reefs, which are visited by 70,000 tourists every year.

Bonaire

What many of the tourists don't realize is that the majority of the electricity powering their needs comes from renewable energy. Yet for the residents of Bonaire, the switch from fossil-fueled to renewable energy systems has made a world of difference.

Like many Caribbean islands, Bonaire originally relied on diesel fuel to generate electricity for residents, with a peak demand of 11 megawatts (MW). This fuel had to be shipped in from other nations, resulting in high electricity prices for Bonaire residents, along with uncertainty about when and how much prices might increase with changing fuel costs.

In 2004, everything changed when a fire destroyed the existing diesel power plant. Although tragic, the situation provided an opportunity for Bonaire to consider what kind of new electricity system to build. Temporary diesel generators were rented to provide power for the short term. Meanwhile, the government and local utility began working together to create a plan that would allow Bonaire to reach a goal of generating 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

Bonaire's Electricity System Transformation

The result is a transformed electricity system on Bonaire. The island is now home to 12 wind turbines with a total of 11 MW of wind power capacity, which contribute up to 90 percent of the island's electricity at times of peak wind, and 40-45 percent of its annual electricity on average.

Battery storage (6 MWh) is included in order to take advantage of available power in times of excess wind, and provide that stored electricity in times of low wind. The battery also boosts the reliability of the overall system—it is capable of providing 3 MW for over two minutes, allowing time for additional generation to be started when there is a sudden drop in wind.

The Bonaire system also includes 14 MW of diesel generation, five total generators, which provide the necessary power to meet the load when there is not enough wind power available. The generators are equipped to run on both traditional diesel as well as biodiesel. The next steps in the island's energy transformation involve using local algae resources, grown in the large salt flats on the island, to create biofuel, which can then be used in the existing generators. This will allow Bonaire to operate a 100 percent renewable electricity system—with on average 40–45 percent from wind and 55-60 percent from biodiesel.

The new electricity system led to more reliable electricity, more employment opportunities, reduced dependence on oil (and its fluctuating prices), and a reduction in electricity bills. Bonaire residents currently pay $0.22/kWh for electricity, much lower than prices on other nearby Caribbean islands, which are often $0.36/kWh or above.

When oil prices spiked in 2008, while Bonaire was still using temporary diesel generators before making its transition to renewables, electricity prices on the island reached $0.50/kWh. The new electricity system also created jobs for the construction and ongoing operation of the wind farm, and for research and development of algae production capabilities and conversion to biofuel. Additional employment opportunities will be created for continuing algae production and operation of the biodiesel plant.

The success of the updated electricity system on Bonaire provides an important example to other nearby islands of the opportunity to achieve high levels of renewable energy penetration.

http://www.businessinsider.com/bonaire-goes-renewable-energy-2015-1

 

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Climate Expert James Hansen: The Planet May Become Ungovernable

The repercussions of climate disruption are still not being acknowledged fully, warned climatologist Dr. James Hansen, addressing an audience of Baby Boomer and Greatest Generation climate activists on September 9.

Dr. Jim Hansen

“We’ve now got an emergency,” he told about 150 “elder activists” at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC, who were participating in Grandparents Climate Action Day.

Hansen — formerly NASA’s head climate scientist, now adjunct professor at Columbia University — is probably best known for bringing definitive evidence of global warming to Congress in testimony in 1988. In July of this year, he released a report with sixteen co-authors studying glacier melt in Greenland and Antarctica. Unlike previous models, the new report takes into account some feedback loops which may be hastening the loss of ice sheet mass far faster than anticipated.

Time is running out to transition to renewable energy, Hansen said, yet the most “relevant” people in power aren’t aware of the situation’s gravity. “Even people who go around saying, ‘We have a planet in peril,’ don’t get it. Until we’re aware of our future, we can’t deal with it.”

Mass species extinction, extreme weather events, dry spells and fires are climate change impacts which are happening now. A warmer atmosphere and warmer oceans can lead to stronger storms, he explained. Superstorm Sandy, for example, remained a hurricane all the way up the Eastern seaboard to New York because Atlantic waters were abnormally warm.

“Amplifying impacts” and feedback loops will accelerate the changes, according to Hansen. “It will happen faster than you think,” he said. If major coastal cities become “dysfunctional” because of sea level rise, as he believes is possible, the global economy could be in peril of collapse.

It is therefore imperative to stop using coal, oil and gas as energy sources now. “We’ve already burned as much as we can afford,” he said. Fossil fuels already burned will continue to have impacts, because the climate system “has inertia.” “We’ve only felt the warming for half of the gases that are up there,” he said.

The use of fossil fuels is still on the rise in spite of the dangers, he said, because governments subsidize them and don’t make companies bear the real costs to society. The only viable way to make the price of fossil fuels “honest,” in his opinion, is to implement a “fee and dividend” system.

While Hansen denounced “unfettered capitalism”and “scary” trade agreements in the works, he believes government regulation can steer captains of industry onto the right path. “We’ve got to make the system work for us,” he said. “If you properly harness the market, it will work for you.”

He gave an example of incentives and tax breaks for solar panels, which he has on his own home, and how he contributes electricity to the grid. Yet one audience member took issue with a corruption-free scenario. “Come to Virginia, I dare you!” he said. (In Virginia, where Dominion Virginia Power has a stranglehold on state politics, “standby” fees and other barriers stifle solar panel installation by individuals.)

Hansen, a grandparent himself, was the keynote speaker at Grandparents Climate Action Day, an event to mobilize elder activists and promote a policy agenda aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Hansen believes elders possess resources and wisdom which, combined with the zeal of youth, can help find solutions to climate change. “Older people have a lot of clout, a lot of votes, and time,” he said. With more older people getting involved, there will be more pressure to make needed changes.

Fellow speaker John Sorensen, co-founder of the Conscious Elders Network, echoed this point. The 80 million elders in the U.S. — 25 percent of the population — are living longer and healthier lives with more time and resources to devote to activism.

Hansen is supporting a lawsuit in which 21 young people are suing the U.S. government. (One of the plaintiffs is his granddaughter Sophie.) The lawsuit alleges that the federal government knew decades ago that burning fossil fuels and climate were linked, but continued on the same course anyway.

In his testimony for Youth v. Obama, Hansen said, “In my opinion, this lawsuit is made necessary by the at-best schizophrenic, if not suicidal, nature of U.S. climate and energy policy.”

The judiciary, he believes, is the only viable recourse left for the younger generation, “because the courts will be less under the thumb of the fossil fuel industry.”

“Young people have all these rights that are guaranteed by the constitution, and that’s what we’re asking the courts to look at, and I think this may be our best chance to force the government to do its job,” he said.

Most of the elders participating in Grandparents Climate Action Day probably won’t live to see the worst effects of climate change, yet they were eager to learn about the earth future generations will inherit. One participant explained her reason for being there. After working with children for her whole career, she realized that “all of it mean[s] nothing if we don’t have a livable planet.”

“Young people have all these rights that are guaranteed by the constitution, and that’s what we’re asking the courts to look at, and I think this may be our best chance to force the government to do its job,” he said.

Most of the elders participating in Grandparents Climate Action Day probably won’t live to see the worst effects of climate change, yet they were eager to learn about the earth future generations will inherit. One participant explained her reason for being there. After working with children for her whole career, she realized that “all of it mean[s] nothing if we don’t have a livable planet.” More

 

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Caribbean States ‘lighting path’ towards sustainable future, says UN chief in Barbados

“I want to salute Caribbean countries for taking on ambitious renewable energy targets. By 2020, for example, Barbados will be one of the world’s top five leading users of solar energy on a per capita basis. You are lighting the path to the future,


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon My main message to you is to remain fully engaged and keep working with us to strengthen our partnership during this vital year for humanity. Together, we can build a better, more sustainable world, for all.said during a high-level symposium focused on sustainable development in the Caribbean.

This meeting was among the UN chief’s first stops in Barbados, where later on Thursdayhe is expected to make opening remarks to the 2015 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit, and where tomorrow, he will, among others, hold an interactive dialogue at the University of the West Indies.


“Twenty years ago, this very building was the site of the First Global Conference on Small Island Developing States that adopted the Barbados Programme of Action – the first compact between this group and the international community,” he noticed


For small island developing States, Ban added, this space is “hallowed ground.”

Encouraged by the presence of so many leaders of governments, regional and international organizations, the private sector, academia, and civil society, the Secretary-General highlighted the “continuing Caribbean commitment to put our world on a safer, more sustainable and equitable pathway,” a few days from theThird International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“As leaders of some of the most vulnerable countries in the world, you don’t need to be told that our planet is at grave risk. You are on the climate frontlines. You see it every day,” he continued.

Convinced that sustainable development and climate change are “two sides of the same coin,” the UN top official went on to say that this generation could be the first to end global poverty, and the last to prevent the worst impacts of global warming “before it is too late.”


To get there, he underlined, the international community must make sure that the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) are “focused, financed and followed up – with real targets, real money and a real determination to achieve them.”


Considering these goals as a sort of a “to-do list for people and the planet”, Ban emphasized that it will take partnerships to make that happen. In that regard, he said, the Third International Conference on Small Islands Developing States in Samoa last year laid a pathway for collective action and success within the post-2015 development agenda.


But, as the world prepares for a new sustainability framework and the sustainable development goals, a number of critical partnership areas must be strengthened, in particular the need for capacity building; financing; access to technology; and improved data collection and statistics.

Member States also must continue working together to link the global agenda to regional agendas and to deepen regional integration and to address the “unique needs and vulnerabilities” of small island developing states and middle-income countries, such as the debt challenge.

“And we need to keep forging the way forward towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathway that will benefit both people and the planet,” the Secretary-General underlined.

He gave the assurance that, through the Green Climate Fund, and in working with world leaders, he will continue to insist that small islands and least developed countries are top funding priorities.


“My main message to you is to remain fully engaged and keep working with us to strengthen our partnership during this vital year for humanity. Together, we can build a better, more sustainable world, for all.”

Later, in an address to an event on ending violence against women, the Secretary-General said the Caribbean has among the highest rates of sexual assault in the world. Three Caribbean countries are in the global top ten for recorded rapes. Moreover, he noted that in the eastern Caribbean, UNICEF estimates that child sexual abuse rates are between 20 and 45 per cent – meaning at least one in five precious children are affected. Most are girls who have no choice but to live close to their attacker.

“They desperately need our help. Too many women are afraid to seek help. One study showed that up to two thirds of all victims suffer without ever reporting the crime. I am outraged by this. Shame belongs to the perpetrators – not the victiWe have to change mindsets – especially among men,” declared the UN chief.

In that light, he said he was proud to be the first man to sign onto the UN’s HeForShecampaign, and he invited more men to take the HeForShe pledge.

“I encourage you to join UNICEF’s End Violence global campaign. And every day, I count on all of you to work for true equality.”


In the margins of the 36th meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Barbados, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Maxine McClean, of Barbados, a country he congratulated for its upcoming leadership of CARICOM. More

 

 

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5 Radical Takeaways from the Pope’s Letter on Climate

Pope Francis recognizes that there’s no way to stop climate change without confronting the way the world does business. That’s huge.

Pope Francis just released an “encyclical,” a letter meant to serve as a guide to understanding our personal relationship to some of the most complex issues of the day through religious doctrine. This particular encyclical is on climate change and is addressed not just to the globe’s 1.2 billion Catholics, but to everyone of any — or no — faith. In it, Pope Francis boldly challenges us all to take an honest look inside our hearts and question the foundations of a society that’s created wealth for some at the expense of others and “our common home”— the planet earth.

Here are five key quotes from the encyclical that will shake up the global climate debate.

1. Climate change and inequality are inextricably linked.

“We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” It’s not hard to see how climate change hits people living in poverty first and worst, and inevitably widens the gulf between rich and poor. After extreme weather washes away their homes or drought kills their crops, those living in poverty have a harder time bouncing back than those with savings accounts and sturdier houses. But what’s really radical is how the Pope names inequality itself as an impediment to solving a looming planetary and human rights crisis. The encyclical calls out “masters of power and money” to stop masking the symptoms and address climate change in service of the common good.

Pope Francis boldly challenges us all to take an honest look inside our hearts and question the foundations of a society that’s created wealth for some at the expense of others and “our common home”— the planet earth.

2. The global economy must protect the Earth, our common home.

“The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings.” Today’s global economy profits at the environment’s expense. And the pursuit of growth is fueling environmental degradation, natural disasters, and financial crises. Pope Francis envisions a people-and-planet-first economy more in harmony with the environment that would prevent imbalances of wealth and power and foster peace among nations.

3. Everyone must divest from fossil fuels and invest in the future.

“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels… needs to be progressively replaced without delay.” Pope Francis is crystal clear that the current development model based on the intensive use of coal, oil, and even natural gas has to go. In its place we need renewable energy options and new modes of production and consumption that combat global warming. This is precisely what a growing movement of students, faith communities, socially responsible investors and everyday citizens are calling on individuals and private and public institutions to do: Divest their money from fossil fuels and invest it in climate solutions like wind, solar, and energy efficiency.

4. It’s time for powerful nations to pay their fair share.

“A true ‘ecological debt’ exists, particularly between the global north and south. … In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future.” Countries in the global North have benefitted from fossil fuel-driven industrialization, while developing countries bear the brunt of the related greenhouse gas emissions. So while everyone must act to avoid climate disruption, rich countries have a greater responsibility. For starters, they must make rapid, deep cuts in carbon emissions. And they have to keep their promise to finance the cost for poorer countries to build climate resilience and transition to renewable energy through the Green Climate Fund.

5. There’s no easy way out of this.

“Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation, or blind confidence in technical solutions.” There’s only one way to meet the climate challenge: Extinguish the “dig, burn, dump economy.” And markets and technology can’t be relied on to do the job. Gimmicks like trading carbon credits as a financial commodity or burning coal in “cleaner” power plants are distractions from the only real solution: Stop digging up and drilling — then burning — oil, gas, and coal.

Pope Francis is calling for solutions to climate change that is rooted in our “deepest convictions about love, justice, and peace.” His letter to the world illuminates a radical, compassionate path that shows what it truly means to have faith in humanity. More

 

 

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IRENA Report Examines Renewables’ Potential to Solve Water, Food and Energy Challenges

January 2015: A report titled 'Renewable Energy in the Water, Energy and Food Nexus,' which was released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), finds that renewable energy has the potential to generate significant water savings, increase long-term food sustainability and bolster energy security.

The report highlights how renewables help ease the trade-offs among the water, agricultural and energy sectors through heightened water conservation, availability, accessibility and quality.

As one of many example cases from around the world presented in the report, the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) renewable energy plans are highlighted as having the potential to reduce the power sector's water withdrawals by 20%. In agricultural supply chains, the report argues renewables can lower cost volatility, and in the energy sector the authors note that renewable processes and technologies are less resource-intensive.

The report also records renewables' added benefits of cutting pollution, fossil-fuel dependency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In addition to explaining the role of solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower and related technologies in solving these interconnected challenges, the authors dedicate a section to bioenergy. They find that sustainably and efficiently managed bioenergy production and use can also advance water, energy and food security.

The report was released on the margins of the World Future Energy Summit and International Water Summit, held in January 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). [IRENA Press Release] [IRENA Publication Webpage] [Publication: Renewable Energy in the Water, Energy and Food Nexus]

read more: http://energy-l.iisd.org/news/irena-report-examines-renewables-potential-to-solve-water-food-and-energy-challenges/

 

 

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Caribbean Energy Security Summit Commits to Energy Transition

January 2015: Twenty-six countries, together with seven regional and international organizations, have released a joint statement in support of the transformation of the energy systems of Caribbean countries.

The signatories of the statement, signed during the Caribbean Energy Security Summit, commit to pursuing comprehensive approaches to an energy transition toward “clean sustainable energy for all” and reforms that support the creation of favorable policy and regulatory environments for sustainable energy.

The Summit, which was co-hosted by the US Department of State, the Council of the Americas and the Atlantic Council, brought together finance and private sector leaders from the US and the Caribbean, and representatives of the international community. The event showcased the initiatives under the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI) in the areas of improved governance, access to finance and donor coordination, and featured discussions by partner countries on comprehensive energy diversification strategies.

During the event, the US Government announced enhanced support for technical assistance and capacity-building programs in the Caribbean, through the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) initiative, among others, with the aim of promoting a cleaner and more secure energy future in the region. Caribbean leaders agreed to pursue comprehensive energy diversification programs and facilitate the deployment of clean energy.

Furthermore, presentations and updates were provided by, inter alia: Caribbean leaders on energy sector goals; the World Bank on a proposed Caribbean Energy Investment Network for improved coordination and communication among partners; and the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) on a new focus on clean energy project development in the Caribbean, which includes US$43 million in financing for a 34 MW wind energy project in Jamaica.

Highlighting the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) in supporting the transition to sustainable energy in the Caribbean, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza said the past five years had seen an “unprecedented push” in the Caribbean toward the development of the region's renewable energy sources, noting this was “doubly impressive” “in a time of low oil prices.”

The Summit, which took place on 26 January 2015, in Washington, DC, US, is part of CESI, launched by US Vice President Joseph Biden in June 2014. The regional and international organizations signing the statement were the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, the Caribbean Development Bank, the EU, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the OAS and the World Bank.

The joint statement was also signed by the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Colombia, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, and the United States.

read more: http://sids-l.iisd.org/news/caribbean-energy-security-summit-commits-to-energy-transition/

 

 

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Is India’s 100 GW solar road map feasible?

Ever since the new government was sworn in, India has been making all the right noises about its ambitions for solar power. Both Prime Minister Modi, and the Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Mr. Goyal, seem determined to achieve an ambitious target of 100 GW by 2020.

After the headline items have been absorbed and expectations have risen, it is now time for delivery. They have their work cut out for them. It cannot be a straightforward process as the goal is so ambitious, the market environment is complex and the technologies changing. However, it needs to be much more thought through than it is at present

Last week, in a run-up to the RE Invest India conference to be held in Delhi in February, a tweet from the official RE-Invest 2015 handle for the first time published a year-by-year road map on how the government intends to ramp up solar capacity.

This plan shows a very quick initial ramp up from the current 1 GW per year market size. In the upcoming financial year, the government wants to install 7 GW, of which 3 GW is to be of rooftop solar. That is a 100-fold increase from the current total rooftop capacity. In the year after that, India is to be a 18 GW solar market. No country has ever added 18 GW of solar in a year.

According to the BRIDGE TO INDIA analysis, an un-incentivized rooftop solar market would add 1.5 GW by 2018. In the road map, the government is planning to add around 20 GW by the same time. Achieving this will need a substantial policy push. As of now, we have little idea about what that might be. The only substantial announcement so far has been a plan to provide an interest rate subsidy by using around EUR 1 bn of funds from the German KfW. However, even this has not yet been formalised and it would take at least a year to become operational. The government has also been tinkering with the subsidy mechanism (refer) but that too doesn't seem to be adding up to any larger plan.

The most active market segment at present is utility scale capacity addition through the solar parks model. Yet this, too, is not without roadblocks. There is still some confusion on what parks are ready for the first 3,000 MW of allocations to be auctioned by March 2015. The guidelines for allocations have been changed multiple times in the past weeks, as the situation changed on the ground due to land, infrastructure and funding challenges (refer). International developmental banks have been asked to finance these parks, but there is still not enough clarity on the business models and on how this could work from a lender’s (and investor’s) perspective. Under the current conditions, many investors might just decide to give this opportunity a pass.

BRIDGE TO INDIA continues to believe that India can achieve its ambitious solar targets, but it will need to rapidly step up its policy planning and implementation. What India actually wants to do, is to significantly shift its future energy mix towards renewables. That is strategically sound, but definitely not business as usual. It requires an expanded and improved institutional infrastructure to support a complex, new policy process: an excellently staffed “Central New Energy Command”. That should be the starting point.

Even with this in place, a build-up as rapid as anticipated will be a stretch. It just takes time to fine-tune the details of a successful policy. Long delays have plagued Indian policy making in solar and other areas in the past. Given the strong economic fundamentals behind solar market growth in India, the goal could more easily be reached with a slower initial ramp up and larger additions towards 2020.

In the current policy environment, and given the time pressures created by this road map, we see the danger of a knee-jerk reaction: if the market is not quick enough to react, then the government will simply push large projects through directly, using a select group of public and private companies, whose decision-making calculus includes factors not related to the solar opportunity at hand. This will undermine competition and slow down the fall of solar costs. It might lead to a faster capacity addition in the short term, but carries the risk of the market stalling. For solar to be the big success in India that it can, it needs a wide spectrum of innovative players (including start-ups and international companies), a predictable policy framework and a large range of financing options. More

 

 

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