Tag Archives: water security

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

 

Comments Off on Climate Expert James Hansen: The Planet May Become Ungovernable

Filed under climate change, energy security

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/

 

 

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

Filed under sustainability

Energy Efficiency Simply Makes Sense

What simple tool offers the entire world an extended energy supply, increased energy security, lower carbon emissions, cleaner air and extra time to mitigate climate change? Energy efficiency. What’s more, higher efficiency can avoid infrastructure investment, cut energy bills, improve health, increase competitiveness and enhance consumer welfare — all while more than paying for itself.

Maria van der Hoeven - IEA

The challenge is getting governments, industry and citizens to take the first steps towards making these savings in energy and money.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has long spearheaded a global move toward improved energy efficiency policy and technology in buildings, appliances, transport and industry, as well as end-use applications such as lighting. That’s because the core of our mandate is energy security — the uninterrupted availability of energy at an affordable price. Greater efficiency is a principal way to strengthen that security: it reduces reliance on energy supply, especially imports, for economic growth; mitigates threats to energy security from climate change; and lessens the global economy’s exposure to disruptions in fossil fuel supply.

In short, energy efficiency makes sense.

In 2006, the IEA presented to the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations its 25 energy efficiency recommendations, which identify best practice and policy approaches to realize the full potential of energy efficiency for our member countries. Every two years, the Agency reports on the gains made by member countries, and today we are working with a growing number of international organizations, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank and the German sustainable development cooperation services provider GIZ.

The opportunities of this “invisible fuel” are many and rich. More than half of the potential savings in industry and a whopping 80 percent of opportunities in the buildings sector worldwide remain untouched. The 25 recommendations, if adopted fully by all 28 IEA members, would save $1 trillion in annual energy costs as well as deliver incalculable security benefits in terms of energy supply and environmental protection.

Achieving even a small fraction of those gains does not require new technological breakthroughs or ruinous capital outlays: the know-how exists, and the investments generate positive returns in fuel savings and increased economic growth. What is required is foresight, patience, changed habits and the removal of the barriers to implementation of measures that are economically viable. For instance, as the World Energy Outlook 2012 demonstrates, investing less than $12 trillion in more energy-efficient technologies would not only quickly pay for itself through reduced energy costs, it would also increase cumulative economic output to 2035 by $18 trillion worldwide.

While current efforts come nowhere close to realizing the full benefits that efficiency offers, some countries are taking big steps forward. Members of the European Union have pledged to cut energy demand by 20 percent by 2020, while Japan plans to trim its electricity consumption 10 percent by 2030. China is committed to reducing the amount of energy needed for each unit of gross domestic product by 16 percent in the next two years. The United States has leaped to the forefront in transportation efficiency standards with new fuel economy rules that could more than double vehicle fuel consumption.

Such transitions entail challenges for policy, and experience shows that government and the private sector must work together to achieve the sustainability goals that societies demand, learning what works and what does not, and following the right path to optimal deployment of technology. Looking forward, energy efficiency will play a vital role in the transition to the secure and sustainable energy future that we all seek. The most secure energy is the barrel or megawatt we never have to use.

Maria van der Hoeven is the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, an autonomous organization which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. This commentary appeared first this month in IEA Energy, the Agency’s journal.

 

Comments Off on Energy Efficiency Simply Makes Sense

Filed under energy

Renewable Sources Provide Over 20% Of Global Power Production

Global renewable electricity energy capacity rose to a new record level last year — more than 1,560 gigawatts (GW), up 8% from 2012. More than 22 % of the world’s power production now comes from renewable sources. Renewables currently meet almost one-fifth of world final energy consumption.

That is one of the conclusion of the new Renewables Global Status Report published by REN21, “the global renewable energy policy multi-stakeholder network.”

The Renewables Global Status Report relies on up-to-date renewable energy data , provided by an international network of more than 500 contributors, researchers, and authors.

With developing world’spolicy support, global renewable energy generation capacity jumped to a record level; 95 emerging economies now nurture renewable energy growth through supportive policies, up six-fold from just 15 countries in 2005.

These 95 developing nations make up the vast majority of the 144 countries with renewable energy support policies and targets in place. The rise of developing world support contrasts with declining support and renewables policy uncertainty and even retroactive support reductions in some European countries and the United States.

In 2013, an estimated 6.5 million people worldwide worked directly or indirectly in the renewable energy sector. O ther important developments include:

• Renewable energy provided 19% of global final energy consumption in 2012, and continued to grow in 2013. Of this total share in 2012, modern renewables accounted for 10% with the remaining 9% coming from traditional biomass the share of which is declining.

• Heating and cooling from modern biomass, solar, and geothermal sources account for a small but gradually rising share of final global heat demand, amounting to an estimated 10%.

• Liquid biofuels provide about 2.3% of global transport fuel demand.

• Hydropower rose by 4% to approximately 1,000 GW in 2013, accounting for about one-third of renewable power capacity added during the year. Other renewables collectively grew nearly 17% to an estimated 560 GW.

• The solar PV market had a record year, adding about 39 GW in 2013 for a total of approximately 139 GW. For the first time, more solar PV than wind power capacity was added worldwide, accounting for about one-third of renewable power capacity added during the year. Even as global investment in solar PV declined nearly 22% relative to 2012, new capacity installations increased by more than 32%. China saw spectacular growth, accounting for nearly one third of global capacity added, followed by Japan and the United States.

• More than 35 GW of wind power capacity was added in 2013, totalling just more than 318 GW. However, despite several record years, the market was down nearly 10 GW compared to 2012, reflecting primarily a steep drop in the U.S. market. Offshore wind had a record year, with 1.6 GW added, almost all of it in the EU.

• China, the United States, Brazil, Canada, and Germany remained the top countries for total installed renewable power capacity. China’s new renewable power capacity surpassed new fossil fuel and nuclear capacity for the first time.

• Growing numbers of cities, states, and regions seek to transition to 100% renewable energy in either individual sectors or economy-wide. For example, Djibouti, Scotland, and the small-island state of Tuvalu aim to derive 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

• Uruguay, Mauritius, and Costa Rica were among the top countries for investment in new renewable power and fuels relative to annual GDP.

• Global new investment in renewable power and fuels was at least USD 249.4 billion in 2013 down from its record level in 2011. More

 

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative, energy, energy security, otec, solar, wind

Solar Powered Reverse Osmosis in the Caribbean

Special Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change (SPACC) Implementation of Adaptation Measures in Coastal Zones

TECHNICAL NOTE 5C/SPACC-12-05-01 (15 May, 2012)

Implementation of adaptation measures to address the absence of fresh water and coastal vulnerabilities in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The Special Program for Adaptation to Climate Change (SPACC) pilot project “Implementation of adaptation measures to address the absence of fresh water and coastal vulnerabilities in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines”, was implemented in Bequia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by the World Bank, acting as the implementing agency for the Global Environment Fund (GEF), and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), acting as the executing agency.

Background Bequia is the largest of the Grenadines islands, approximately 7 square miles in size, with a population of 4,874 (1991 census). Due to its size and geology, the island has no surface water and no known underground source. Approximately 30% of the island is covered with scrub vegetation of no market significance. The livelihood of the people of Bequia is tied to the surrounding coastal sea. Most natives are fisher folks or sailors. Given the absence of surface water and the calciferous nature of the soil, fresh water resource is a major issue for Bequia. Bequia’s need for water Bequia’s very limited water resources are being threatened by climate change. For people living in Bequia it is clear that dry spells are becoming unusually long, or that the pattern of the rainy season has changed. Water availability to key critical ecosystems is at greater risk as the limited water available is tapped or harvested by households due to the rain water supply systems that no longer meet their water needs. At present, there is no water distribution system in the island of Bequia. Each household has traditionally solved its water supply needs by building individual rain collection systems. It is indicated that up to 30% of the construction cost of a house in Bequia is allocated to the rain harvesting system.

The community and climate change

Of particular concern is the Paget Farms community (Figure 1) where the least wealthy population of the island lives. The entire community relies exclusively on rain water harvesting as the source of potable domestic water. In fact, many of the households in the Paget Farms community, the population targeted by this pilot, are equipped with underground storage that fill during the rainy season. The others utilize one or more glass reinforced plastic tanks that do not always satisfy their needs throughout the season and water supplies have sometimes had to be supplemented by purchase of water transported by barge from Kingstown. Current trends in precipitation confirm what Global Circulation Models predict: there are longer periods of drought, followed by shorter, more intense precipitation events. Moreover, sea level rise is threatening coastal aquifers through saline intrusion. Both factors are already threatening water supply stability for already stressed populations, which in turn Figure 1 : Paget Farm community in Bequia, with Fisheries Complex in the foreground leads to over-exploitation of aquifers and natural resources, endangering the fragile ecosystems and associated biodiversity.

The project: building a carbon neutral reverse osmosis desalination plant

The pilot project in Bequia was aimed at exploring an integrated, sustainable solution to face these challenges: the combination of a renewable, carbon-free energy generation source (photovoltaic system), with a reverse osmosis desalination plant whose input is inexhaustible sea water. The low-maintenance renewable energy source offsets the high energy demand of the plant by providing all the energy required plus some excess energy for the island, with the additional revenue generated covering operation and maintenance costs. This combination has been proven to be both technically and economically viable, and showcases a robust, sustainable approach to the issue, with a very strong replication potential elsewhere in the Caribbean, where similar zones are suffering similar stress. Download PDF

As the report above states that 'Current trends in precipitation confirm what Global Circulation Models predict: there are longer periods of drought, followed by shorter, more intense precipitation events. Moreover, sea level rise is threatening coastal aquifers through saline intrusion.', all Small Island Developing States (SIDS) should be implementing Plan B. A Plan B is necessary from the perspective of energy security. Should the geo-political situation in the Persian Gulf deteriorate the price of petroleum (oil) could rise dramatically making water unaffordable to residents of islands wholly dependant on fossil fuel produced electricity for their water production. The Cayman Islands has no Plan B. The response from the Water Authority, when questioned what their options were if the was a spike in the cost of diesel stated that they would have to raise their cost to the consumer. Editor

 

Leave a comment

Filed under energy security, solar

Asia Pacific Clean Energy / Islands & Isolated Communities Congress

The 2013 Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo will be held jointly with the 2013 Islands & Isolated Communities Congress at the Hawai‘i Convention Center starting tomorrow September 9th, and through September 11.

The event is the preeminent meeting place for international leaders and energy experts at the forefront of the clean energy movement. Securing energy independence and developing a clean energy industry that promotes the vitality of our planet are two reasons why it is critical to reaffirm already established partnerships and build new ones throughout the Asia-Pacific region and the world. The Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo and the Islands & Isolated Communities Congress provide a forum for the high-level global networking necessary to advance this emerging clean energy culture.

Islands and Isolated Communities are the planet’s vanguard societies facing imported energy dependencies, constrained resources, and vulnerability to climate change. Join global leaders developing solutions and projects; from island nations worldwide, to land-locked greening cities, to isolated military installations.

The sustainability and resiliency of island communities depends on best practices developed in energy, water, agriculture, security, resource and disaster risk management and societal actions. As island communities are facing these complex and interdependent challenges across the planet, the Islands and Isolated Communities Congress is focused on building a global movement to champion these solutions. The solutions developed on islands will lay the foundation for best practices world-wide.

Auyuittuq - The Land that Never Melts is Melting

Many Strong Voices (MSV) will be represented here by Nick Robson, D-G of the Cayman Institute who sits on MSV's Advisory Committee.

The goal of Many Strong Voices is to promote the well-being, security, and sustainability of coastal communities in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by bringing these regions together to take action on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to tell their stories to the world.

Coastal Erosion - Seychelles

The Arctic and SIDS are barometers of global environmental change. As they are on the frontlines of climate change, they are also critical testing grounds for the ideas and programmes that will strengthen the adaptive capacities of human societies confronting climate change.

Lessons learned through MSV support policy development at local, regional, and international levels. They provide decision-makers in the two regions with the knowledge to safeguard and strengthen vulnerable social, economic, and natural systems. More

 

The good news this week is that a new Pacific regional pact, the Majuro Declaration, calling for aggressive action to combat climate change has achieved a “major accomplishment” by gaining U.S. support, officials said Sunday.

The Majuro Declaration, endorsed by the 15-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) at their summit last week, contains specific pledges on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Majuro, Marshall Islands

The PIF nations, some of which are barely a meter above sea level and risk being swamped by rising waters, have since received wide support led by the United States after presenting the document to more than two dozen countries at a post-forum dialogue.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced during the session a new climate change fund for Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels.

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time,” she said in launching the Pacific-American fund.

Separately, the U.S. was offering US$24 million over five years for projects in “vulnerable coastal communities” in the Pacific, she said. More

 

Comments Off on Asia Pacific Clean Energy / Islands & Isolated Communities Congress

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