Sunday, July 31, 2011

Iran - Pakistan Gas Pipeline: China likely tone awarded construction contract

As Russia and China vie with each other to win the construction contract for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, Pakistan is expected to finalise an engineering and procurement deal with Beijing, which may also provide financing in line with the growing energy cooperation between the two sides.

Domestic gas utilities – Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) – are also lobbying to grab the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the pipeline, which will bring in much-needed gas from Iran’s South Pars gas field.

Germany-based consultancy firm ILF is conducting a route survey for the $1.25 billion Pakistani portion of the pipeline and will soon be completing its work, after which the engineering contract will be awarded. SSGC and SNGPL had also wanted a share in the consultancy contract with ILF, which resulted in a delay in completing the survey, sources said.
ILF, which got the contract for $55 million, is working in collaboration with National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak).

“A major part of the survey for laying the pipeline from Iranian border to Nawabshah has been completed and the remaining part will be finished by August 2,” an official said. More >>>

Location: Islamabad

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Scholarships and Bursaries Call for Caribbean Nationals in Graduate Studies in Climate Change

Scholarships and Bursaries Call for Caribbean Nationals in Graduate Studies in Climate Change

Study areas related to Climate Change that can be considered for these Scholarships and Bursaries are:
Climatology; Environmental Sciences; Coastal Management; Water Resources; Sustainable Tourism; Gender Studies

The CARIBSAVE Partnership, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Waterloo (UW), Canada, announce a joint research project entitled:

Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adaptation (ParCA)*

Students’ scholarships and bursaries will focus on ParCA; a project that will conduct comparative case study research in Tobago, Jamaica and two Atlantic Canadian provinces. The project will use a community-based vulnerability assessment (CBVA) framework in collaboration with coastal communities and local partners to identify vulnerabilities and exposures, and develop strategies for adaptation to climate change. Under this program, funding is available for Caribbean Nationals to study at the University of the West Indies or the University of Waterloo at Masters and PhD levels.

ELIGIBILITY for Scholarships and Bursaries

Must be a Caribbean National
Must have successfully completed an undergraduate or graduate degree at a high level in an area relevant to Climate Change including Climatology, Environmental Sciences, Coastal Management, Water Resources, Sustainable Tourism, Gender Studies.
Must have been accepted and registered in a Masters or PhD Programme at UWI or UW.
Evidence of professional experience in any of the fields indicated above will be an asset.
Applicants for Scholarships and Bursaries will be assessed by a Selection Committee established by the University of the West Indies, the University of Waterloo and The CARIBSAVE Partnership.

Applications should be sent via email to The Office of Research, The University of the West Indies: and must be copied to The CARIBSAVE Partnership: When applying please include ‘ParCA’ as Subject in the email.

The following should be included in your Application: an up to date Curriculum Vitae; a covering letter indicating qualifications; professional experience; preferred study location (UWI Campus or Waterloo); your area of interest for graduate studies and full contact details for three Referees. Closing date for this round of applications is 31 August 2011.

* Funding for this project and its student scholarships and bursaries is kindly provided by the Canadian IDRC and the Tri Council and disseminated through The CARIBSAVE Partnership, The University of Waterloo and The Unversity of the West Indies. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An effective response to climate change

Foreign Secretary William Hague has delivered a speech titled 'The Diplomacy of Climate Change' to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Thank you Governor Whitman. I am most grateful for your generous introduction.

I am delighted to be here at the Council on Foreign Relations. In the modern networked world, diplomacy is no longer the sole preserve of diplomats. Instead, we all have a stake in global affairs. That is why the work of renowned bodies such as this is more valuable than ever.

Today I want to talk about why I believe we, as foreign policy practitioners, need to up our game in building a credible and effective response to climate change. Climate change is perhaps the twenty-first century’s biggest foreign policy challenge along with such challenges as preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. A world which is failing to respond to climate change is one in which the values embodied in the UN will not be met. It is a world in which competition and conflict will win over collaboration.

We are at a crucial point in the global debate on climate change. Many are questioning, in the wake of Copenhagen, whether we should continue to seek a response to climate change through the UN and whether we can ever hope to deal with this enormous challenge.

I will first argue that an effective response to climate change underpins our security and prosperity. Second, our response should be to strive for a binding global deal, whatever the setbacks. And third, I will set out why effective deployment of foreign policy assets is crucial to mobilising the political will needed if we are to shape an effective response. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, July 25, 2011

The scourge of 'peak oil'

Energy derived from oil reaches, quite literally, every aspect of our lives.

From the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to how we move ourselves around, without oil, our lives would look very differently.

Yet oil is a finite resource. While there is no argument that it won't last forever, there is debate about how much oil is left and how long it might last.

Tom Whipple, an energy scholar, was a CIA analyst for 30 years - and believes we are likely at, or very near, a point in history when the maximum production capacity for oil is reached, a phenomenon often referred to as "peak oil".

"Peak oil is the time when the world's production reaches the highest point, then starts back down again," Whipple told Al Jazeera. "Oil is a finite resource, and [it] someday will go down, and that is what the peak oil discussion is all about."

There are signs that peak oil may have already arrived.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently increased its forecast for average global oil consumption in 2011 to 89.5 million barrels per day (bpd), an increase of 1.2 million bpd over last year.

For 2012, the IEA is expecting another increase of 1.5 million bpd for a total global oil consumption of 91million bpd, leaving analysts such as Whipple to question how production will be able to keep up with increasing consumption. Whipple's analysis matches IEA data which shows world oil production levels have been relatively flat for six years.

"This is getting very close to the figure that some observers believe is the highest the world will ever produce," Whipple wrote of the IEA estimate in the July 14 issue of Peak Oil Review. He told Al Jazeera that peak oil could be reached at some point in the next month, or at the latest, within "a few years". More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A world in hunger: east Africa and beyond

The severe drought across much of east Africa is a human emergency that requires urgent attention. It also signals a global crisis: the convergence of inequality, food insecurity and climate change.

A drought across much of east Africa in mid-2011 is causing intense distress among vulnerable populations, many of them already pressed by poverty and insecurity. The range of the affected areas is extensive: the two districts in Somalia that are now designated as famine-zones are but the most extreme parts of a much wider disaster that stretches from Somalia across Ethiopia into northern Kenya, and as far west as Sudan and even the Karamoja district in northeast Uganda.

The numbers put at risk in this, the worst drought in the region since the 1950s, are enormous. At least 11 million people are touched by the disaster. In the Turkana district of northern Kenya, 385,000 children (among a total population of about 850,000) are suffering from acute malnutrition (see Miriam Gathigah, “East Africa: Millions Stare Death in the Face Amidst Ravaging Drought”, TerraViva / IPS, 18 July 2011). In Somalia, the conflict between the Islamist Shabaab movement and the nominal government makes conditions even more perilous for those affected.

The world's largest refugee camp, at Dadaab in northern Kenya, offers a stark illustration of the consequences of the drought. The population of Dadaab, which was designed to cope with 90,000 people, has increased in recent months to 380,000 - and 1,300 more are arriving daily (see Denis Foynes, “Eleven Million at Risk in Horn of Africa”, TerraViva / IPS, 19 July 2011).

The lessons of crisis

But just as striking is that this is part of a recurring phenomenon. Major warning-signs of malnutrition and famine were already visible in April 2008; among them were climatic factors, steep oil-price increases, increased demand for meat diets by richer communities, and the diversion of land to grow biofuel crops (see “The world’s food insecurity”, 24 April 2008).
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Peak Oil Crisis: Reality On Hold

As much of America bakes in some of the highest temperatures ever recorded and while Washington argues interminably over taxes, budget cuts and debt caps, one is struck by the unreality of it all.  
When the House of Representatives votes to preserve the incandescent light bulb for a while as a symbol of personal freedom, it is as if we have entered a wonderland where black is white, up is down and as a nation we have lost touch with reality.

Our media, the cornerstone of our democracy, clearly has failed to communicate something of great import to us. Perhaps it is the information overload of the electronic age. There is so much news that the big picture is lost in mountains of trivia - there are only so many minutes in day. Another possibility is that there is so much bad news out there, that nobody really wants to hear or think about it. Denial is overwhelming us.

At last count there were at least a dozen mega dangers looming on the horizon all of which have the potential to change the nature of global civilization in profound ways. Yet the body politic seems to take little or no notice and concerns itself largely with issues that will soon be swept away by change. These dangers range from the depletion of our fossil fuel and mineral resources, to shrinking food and water supplies, to rising oceans, to political upheavals. More >>>

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dan Nocera - Personalized Energy

Dan Nocera: Personalized Energy from PopTech on Vimeo.

Enhancing Pakistan’s Energy Security Enhancing Pakistan’s Energy Security News Articles (4) Publications (43)

With an economy highly dependent on energy imports, Pakistan’s energy security challenges are a liability that is exacerbating the country’s already poor governance record. However, mounting domestic pressures and the global economic rebalancing led by China and India could provide the impetus for Pakistan to emerge as a more responsible energy stakeholder

Pakistan has historically faced repeated energy crises, suffering from a fragmented planning system, wasteful consumption, and weak production capacity. As of 2005, only half of the population actually had access to electricity, while those that do experience frequent blackouts and shortages.
Pakistan’s growing urbanization (3.1 percent) and industrial production (4.9 percent) – both key motors of economic growth – demand more energy every day, but production capacity remains weak and distribution systems inflexible. As the country’s population (already the sixth largest in the world) continues to grow, the deficiencies in Pakistan’s energy infrastructure are set to challenge the incumbent regime and the long-standing influence of the military – raising speculation about its internal stability and long-term economic future.

Pakistan depends heavily on energy imports and is projected to see a seven-fold increase in its energy demand by 2030. Much of this increase would have to come from expanded gas imports and domestic production. Pakistan’s economy is one of the world’s most gas-dependent, drawing on reserves in the restive Baluchistan province. In 2006, this province, home to 68 percent of the country's estimated 28 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas reserves, accounted for 36-45 percent of domestic production. Balochi insurgents, however, often target the country’s energy infrastructure, undermining Pakistan’s energy security and any prospect of regional energy schemes. More >>>


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Solar is ready to launch

This fall SunPower will break ground on the first central station solar power plant in the United States, a 250 megawatt utility-scale facility in San Luis Obispo, California.

The plant will cost the local grid operator, Pacific Gas & Electric, less to build than a natural gas plant of the same capacity – grid parity anyone?

In January the company signed a deal with Southern California Edison to build two utility-scale solar power plants in Southern California with a combined generating capacity of 711 megawatts. “We’ve come an enormous way in the past five years”, says Blunden, “something on the order of 2,000 megawatts to almost 20,000 megawatts installed globally across the industry. 20,000 megawatts is equivalent to 20 nuclear reactors in scale.” More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Florida Power & Light Saves $22 Million with Nation's Largest Photovoltaic System

In the "Sunshine State," the choice to go solar seems virtually pre-ordained – and SunPower is helping Florida Power & Light fulfill that destiny.

The utility completed construction on what was America’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant in DeSoto County, and a second at NASA’s Kennedy Center. SunPower designed and built both facilities, which will produce a total of 35 megawatts of solar energy. With an estimated 360 days of sunlight in Florida annually, FPL's future as a leading producer of clean, renewable energy will be sunny indeed.

20 BY 2020
Aiming to trim Florida's greenhouse gas emissions, in 2007 Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced a mandate for all of his state’s utilities to generate at least 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020. Fortunately, for nearly three decades the FPL Group – one of the nation’s largest providers of electricity-related services – had been exploring innovative energy technologies such as wind and solar power. "We're a national leader in renewables," notes Kathy Salvador, manger of project development at Florida Power & Light (FPL), one of the FPL Group’s main subsidiaries. "So going to solar powered-electricity for our 4.4 million customers complements that strategy."

As a state-regulated utility, FPL was required to have appropriate legislation in place to produce solar power. Explains Salvador, “We needed a specific policy that would allow us to recover the costs from our customers.” By 2008 Florida lawmakers approved such legislation, authorizing the production of 110 megawatts of solar power statewide. In anticipation of the bill’s passage FPL began evaluating solar providers, sending out a Request for Information to approximately 50 vendors, and then asking for bids from a short list of finalists. “Given the efficiency and cost of SunPower® solar panels, their experience with utility-scale projects, and the fact that they could commit to delivering within our timeframe, SunPower was the obvious choice,” Salvador says. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dramatic Climate Swings Likely as World Warms: Ancient El Niño Clue to Future Floods

ScienceDaily (July 15, 2011) — Dramatic climate swings behind both last year's Pakistan flooding and this year's Queensland floods in Australia are likely to continue as the world gets warmer, scientists predict.

Researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Leeds have discovered that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the sloshing of the warmest waters on the planet from the West Pacific towards the East Pacific every 2-7 years, continued during Earth's last great warm period, the Pliocene.

Their results suggest that swings between the two climatic extremes, known as El Niño and La Niña, may even have occurred more frequently in the warmer past and may increase in frequency in the future. Extreme ENSO events cause droughts, forest fires and floods across much of the world as well as affecting fishery production.

Reporting in the journal Paleoceanography, the team of geochemists and climate modellers use the Pliocene as a past analogue and predictor of the workings of Earth's future climate. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Will North America Be the New Middle East?

The climate problem has moved from the abstract to the very real in the last 18 months.

Instead of charts and graphs about what will happen someday, we’ve got real-time video: first Russia burning, then Texas and Arizona on fire. First Pakistan suffered a deluge, then Queensland, Australia, went underwater, and this spring and summer, it’s the Midwest that’s flooding at historic levels.

The year 2010 saw the lowest volume of Arctic ice since scientists started to measure, more rainfall on land than any year in recorded history, and the lowest barometric pressure ever registered in the continental United States. Measured on a planetary scale, 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest year in history. Jeff Masters, probably the world’s most widely read meteorologist, calculated that the year featured the most extreme weather since at least 1816, when a giant volcano blew its top.

Since we’re the volcano now, and likely to keep blowing, here’s his prognosis: “The ever-increasing amounts of heat-trapping gases humans are emitting into the air put tremendous pressure on the climate system to shift to a new, radically different, warmer state, and the extreme weather of 2010-2011 suggests that the transition is already well underway.”

If you could burn all the oil in those tar sands, you’d run the atmosphere’s concentration of carbon dioxide from its current 390 parts per million (enough to cause the climate havoc we’re currently seeing) to nearly 600 parts per million, which would mean if not hell, then at least a world with a similar temperature. It won’t happen overnight, thank God, but according to the planet’s most important climatologist, James Hansen, burning even a substantial portion of that oil would mean it was “essentially game over” for the climate of this planet. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Goldman Sachs: Saudi Arabia Will Fail To Meet Oil Demand By 2012

It's all speculation over the future of the commodities market. But Goldman Sachs is predicting a significant upturn.

And they're particularly bullish when it comes to crude oil. According to Goldman Sachs, Brent crude oil prices could be as high as $120 at the end of 2011 and $140 at the end of 2012. The global economy, they believe, is on the rise, despite the Japanese earthquake and the high oil prices. A rise in demand will push up commodity prices. And Goldman Sachs believes this will be fueled by the fact that Saudi Arabia won't be able to meet oil demand.

Despite claims by analysts and even OPEC that Saudi Arabia will be able to increase output to meet growing market demand, Goldman believes that the Saudis have reached their peak oil output. This stems from 2008 when oil surpassed $100 a barrel. This was plenty of reason to boost market supply, but Saudi Arabia hit its peak at 9.5 million barrels a day. Now, despite claims that Saudi Arabia has the potential for a 12 million barrel-a-day capacity, Goldman estimates a supply shortage. US natural gas, gold futures and copper prices (due to China demand) could also see a significant increase. The solution? Go long on commodities - crude oil, copper, zinc, gold - or even soybeans.

- Over time, it is increasingly getting obvious that Saudi Arabia is going through the process of peak oil production and eventual decline. And as peak oil author Matt Simmons had said, "as Saudia Arabia goes, so goes the world". The first alarm bells started ringing as early as 2005 when it was first discovered that apparently the Saudi's could be having problems keeping up production of light sweet crude oil which is the more desired grade of oil. In the years after that, the peakoiler community watched as Saudi's answer to keeping up their oil production was done instead with heavy, sour crude oil. We knew that was it, back then, and waited for the time when even the heavy, sour stuff would start to peter out, and then it would actually be Global Peak Oil, for all intents and purposes. More >>>

Location: Cayman islands

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What is the best way to respond to major electricity shortfalls?

IEA report draws on recent cases to show how countries can save electricity in a hurry

05 July 2011 Johannesburg --- Countries can minimise the economic, social and environmental impacts of electricity shortages by developing emergency strategies to save energy well in advance of crises, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The report says it is crucial for governments and utilities to plan measures that encourage swift electricity savings because prolonged shortfalls may reduce economic competitiveness by creating uncertainty in supply and increasing costs of electricity. In addition, extended shortfalls may also have a negative environmental impact: Consumers faced with blackouts or mandatory rationing of electricity often turn to on-site diesel generators, which can lead to greater air pollution.

The 2011 report, Saving Electricity in a Hurry, is an update of the 2005 IEA report of the same title. It draws on examples of countries where electricity shortfalls have occurred since the 2005 book was published. As well as pulling together lessons learned from these countries, the report draws on fresh analysis from the World Bank and others to highlight proven practices for implementing emergency programmes.

In addition to examining the Japanese government’s plan for mitigating the electricity shortage caused by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, the report presents recent shortfalls in the U.S., New Zealand, South Africa and Chile to highlight options for officials from governments, academic institutions, the private sector and civil society organisations to consider when developing electricity policy and emergency energy-savings programmes.

Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the IEA, noted that electricity shortfalls are likely to continue as political, regulatory and financial hurdles make it difficult for governments and energy utilities to invest the estimated USD 16.6 trillion needed to meet annual growth in global electricity demand of 2% over the next 25 years. “Moreover, natural events such as droughts, earthquakes and plant repairs will continue to occur and pose reliability issues for existing supply,” said Mr Tanaka, who presented the report at a workshop in Johannesburg that took place at the initiative of South Africa’s Department of Energy. “As a result, developing emergency demand-side energy-saving programmes as insurance against delays and disruptions in supply may be an effective strategy for many governments to consider.”

The report reaffirms three well-established steps which officials can take to ensure they are prepared for shortfalls, which occur when demand outpaces electricity available to customers.
Step one: Identify possible shortfall scenarios and project their anticipated cause and duration

Step two: Identify the main opportunities for saving energy with minimum negative impact on society and the economy

Step three: Implement a comprehensive package of energy-saving tools, including rationing, pricing, information campaigns and technology replacement. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Cook Islands: 100% Renewable Energy by 2020

5 July 2011, Rarotonga Cook Islands – The Cook Islands has an electricity target of 50% renewable energy by 2015 and 100% by 2020. While this may seem like an extreme target, according to the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Hon. Henry Puna – “it is ambitious but it is not impossible

Plans are already underway to bring this to fruition.

The Cook Islands will be launching their Renewable Energy Chart this year – Te Atamoa O Te Uira Natura, the plan that outlines how they will achieve their renewable energy targets. This chart has undergone consultation with relevant stakeholders and has taken into account input from numerous supporting partners. It is now in the process of being finalised for endorsement.

“It is flexible to take into account possible changes which may happen, as well as addressed the long term concerns – for example the outer island of Aitutaki now has a peak demand for electricity of 900 kilowatts,” said Repeta Puna, the Policy Adviser from the Office of the Prime Minister.

“In Te Atamoa O Te Uira Natura we have planned for a two megawatt solar plant for Aitutaki to take into account the future demand for electricity.”
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

World on the Edge by the Numbers – Shining a Light on Energy Efficiency

Our inefficient, carbon-based energy economy threatens to irreversibly disrupt the Earth’s climate.

Averting dangerous climate change and the resultant crop-shrinking heat waves, more-destructive storms, accelerated sea level rise, and waves of climate refugees means cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020.

The first key component of the Earth Policy Institute’s climate stabilization plan is to systematically raise the efficiency of the world energy economy. One of the quickest ways to increase efficiency, cut carbon emissions, and save money is simply to change light bulbs.

Some 19 percent of world electricity demand goes to lighting. The carbon emissions generated by this sector equal roughly 70 percent of those produced by the global automobile fleet.

Of the 3,400 terawatt-hours of electricity consumed annually by the world’s light fixtures, more than 40 percent is used by commercial buildings, including offices, retail businesses, schools, and hospitals. Close to one third is used in the home; 18 percent in industrial buildings; and the remaining 8 percent in outdoor applications, such as lights at traffic stops and in parking lots. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fukushima: Nuclear power's VHS relic?

The most obvious cause of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station was the massive wall of tsunami water that swept the site clean of back-up electricity generation on 11 March, removing cooling capacity from reactor cores and resulting in serial meltdown.

Would a newer reactor have fared better? Was the relationship between industry and regulators too close? Perhaps.

A question less often discussed, but equally intriguing, is whether decisions made half a century ago for reasons of commercial and geopolitical advantage have left the world with basic designs of nuclear reactor that are inherently less safe than others that have fallen by the wayside.

Alvin Weinberg, a physicist who worked on many of the early US reactors and directed research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), said

during an interview in the 1980s that the scaling-up of PWRs for commercial use rendered them fundamentally flawed.

"As long as the reactor was as small as the submarine intermediate reactor, which was only 60 megawatt (MW), then the containment shell was absolute, it was safe," he said.

"But when you went to 600MW reactors and 1,000MW reactors, you could not guarantee this, because you could in some very remote situations conceive of the containment being breached by this molten mass; and that change came about, I would assert, because of the enormous economic pressure to make the reactors as large as possible." More >>>

This goes to reinforce my argument that safety standards must be regulated at a much higher standard than is presently the case. Perhaps this should be handled by the IAEA. Editor

Location:Cayman Islands

Political Sustainability and Human Security

Economic Revival Requires a Revival of our National Community

New York - As the nation's debt deadline approaches, and the political and media gamesmanship in our nation's capital increases in intensity, I find myself thinking more and more about community. The value with which we hold each other, and our relationship to those with whom we share our living space. The political parties blame each other for the stubborn persistence of unemployment, now over 9% officially and over 16% when we count those who have given up on the job market or are underemployed.

The Republicans blame the declining economy on over-taxation. The Democrats blame job loss on Republican resistance to additional stimulus. Twice this year the Republicans have been willing to "play chicken" with the President and the nation's well being: first over the budget by threatening a government shutdown, and now by holding the entire economy hostage while threatening to default on our debt. Ideology is dominating debates that should be settled by data, not wishful thinking. People in America need work. Our community has work that needs to be done. It's time to close that loop.

The creation of a global economy and communication network has placed the American economy and our society in uncharted territory. We do not really understand the complex economic, political, ecological, social and cultural forces that drive the world economy. We don't really know the answers to the problems we face. Like FDR during the New Deal we need to pragmatically experiment. We need to learn what works and what doesn't. What collective community responses are needed? What private entrepreneurial forces need to be unleashed? In March of 1933, as FDR assumed the Presidency in the depths of the Great Depression, some of his speeches and articles were collected in a book entitled Looking Forward. At the dawn of the New Deal, Roosevelt wrote:
"The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." Franklin D. Roosevelt, Looking Forward, chapter 2, p. 51 (1933). More >>>

Going forward into this century all states need to have all political parties work together for the benefit of their country and people. To deal with the perfect storm that we are faced with, climate change, sea level rise, energy shortages, and a rapidly rising population it is imperative that political stalemate becomes a thing of the past. Editor

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, July 9, 2011

French Nuclear Power Plant Explosion Heightens Safety Fears

Blast at EDF's Tricastin power station in Drôme comes days after nuclear authorities found 32 safety concerns at plant

An explosion sparked a fire at a French nuclear power station on Saturday, just two days after the authorities found 32 safety concerns at the plant.

The blaze at the Tricastin plant in Drôme in the Rhône valley sent a thick cloud of black smoke into the sky. A mistral wind sent it south over a nearby motorway on one of the busiest travel days of the year as the French left for their summer holidays.

EDF, which runs the power station, said the incident took place in an electric transformer situated in the non-nuclear part of the plant and had not resulted in any radiation leak or any other contamination. A statement issued by the energy giant raised further concerns as it omitted to mention the explosion – only a fire – and did not give the cause of the blaze.

"This event happened in the non-nuclear part of the installation and had no radiological consequence on the environment and the population. The fire brigade was immediately called and the fire was rapidly brought under control. Nobody was hurt," it said.

EDF added that the plant's number one reactor was not in operation at the time of the fire, having been "closed for its annual maintenance". Police confirmed there was no environmental contamination.

On Thursday France's nuclear safety authority, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), demanded 32 safety measures at the Tricastin number one reactor, a 900MW water pressurised reactor built in 1974 and put into operation in 1980. More >>>

All such incidents strengthen my arguments that the industry must be regulated by governments to ensure adequate human security. Editor

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, July 8, 2011

'The Days of Cheap Energy Are Over

As British Gas announces it will raise its prices, Ann Robinson of, tells Sky News why the energy hike is a warning to British consumers.

Today’s announcement that British Gas will be hiking its prices by 18% or £121 for gas, and 16% or £71 for electricity from August 18th, is a real blow as it now looks like households are facing a second round of price hikes in a year.
Consumers last saw a year of double price hikes in 2008 when energy bills rocketed by £334 or 41% as a result of consecutive rounds of price increases.
For most of us though, today’s news tells us something really important – the days of cheap energy are over and it’s time that we all started to understand what this means for our bills and how we use energy.
Once these hikes kick in the average household energy bill will be an eye-watering £1,193 a year.
This is an all-time high and makes it imperative for customers to start thinking about how they can bring this cost down. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Pakistan to boost renewable energy to meet power shortfall

KARACHI, Pakistan (AlertNet) – Pakistan is planning to boost exploitation of alternative and renewable energy sources in an attempt to tackle a chronic power shortage and address the challenges of climate change.

A new long-term energy policy aims to provide at least five percent of the country’s total commercial energy supplies from clean renewable sources such as wind, solar and bio-waste by 2030.

At present, just 10 megawatts of the country’s daily commercial energy requirement of 11,000 MW, or less than 0.1 percent, is generated from wind and solar sources, according to Faiz Mohammad Bhutta, an executive member of the Renewable and Alternative Energy Association of Pakistan, a non-governmental organization.

Demand for energy is increasing with Pakistan’s rapidly growing population. The country currently produces fewer than 14,000 MW domestically, a shortfall of 5,000 MW compared to overall domestic and commercial needs.

The persistent power crisis has slowed economic activity and led to increased unemployment and poverty, as well as growing unrest in some cases as families suffer through hot summer temperatures without fans and air conditioners.

The government estimates that daily energy requirements in 2030 will be more than 160,000 MW, of which 110,000 MW will be needed for the commercial sector. The new policy calls for alternative and renewable sources to provide at least 5,500 MW.

Much of the rise in demand will come from population growth, with the country’s population of 177 million is expected to soar to 262 million by 2030, according to the Population Census Organisation. Growing demand for power as incomes rise, and from industrial growth, also are expected to play a role. Full Article >>>

Location: Islamabad

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Peak Oil Crisis: At Mid-Year

The last six months have been a wild ride.

The Arab awakening, the Japanese tsunami, the EU's continuing economic crises, rising temperatures, drought, floods, and another major surge in oil prices have combined to darken the outlook for the months ahead. Political stagnation continues in Washington, where nearly everybody knows we have a problem, but few have yet comprehended just what kind of a problem, much less what are sensible solutions.

As we enter July, the insurrection in Libya which removed 1.3 million barrels a day (b/d) of oil from the export markets is still going on. As a cartel, OPEC is refusing to make up for this loss, but the Saudis and their Gulf friends say they are stepping up production over the next few months to make up for the loss of Libyan crude and increasing demand. Oil prices which are currently around $95 a barrel in NY and $114 in London are down about $15 dollars a barrel from their highs in April, but are substantially above where they were last year.

What is forgotten in all this is that during the great 2008 oil price spike prices ran up quickly in the first half of the year and then collapsed by over $100 a barrel in the summer, thereby saving the global economy from much worse than it would have been had prices stayed higher. US average gasoline and diesel prices are still running about a dollar a gallon above where they have been for the last few years, creating a great strain on the U.S. and global economy. Keep in mind that comes out to about $540 million additional dollars U.S. consumers must pay out each day to keep our transportation running at the same pace it did last year. It doesn't take much to figure out just where that $540 million is coming from. Full Article >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rising Hydrocarbon Costs: A Quick Summary for Policy Makers

During the past century, world economic growth has depended largely on ever-expanding use of hydrocarbon energy sources: oil for transportation, coal and natural gas for electricity generation, oil and gas for agricultural production. It is no exaggeration to say that the health of the global economy currently hinges on increasing rates of production of these fuels.

However, oil, gas, and coal are non-renewable resources that are typically extracted using the “low-hanging fruit” principle. That is, large concentrations of high-quality and easily accessed fuels tend to be depleted first. Thus, while the world is in no danger of running out of hydrocarbon energy sources anytime soon, oil, gas, and coal extraction efforts are increasingly directed toward low-quality, hard-to-produce fuels that require higher up-front investment and entail increasing environmental costs and risks.

These trends are easily demonstrated in the case of oil.

Dependency: The dependence of the world economy on oil is illustrated by the close correlation between oil price spikes and US economic recessions that has been noted by several analysts.[1]

Declining resource quality: The pace of world oil discoveries has been declining since 1964. Oilfields found during the past decade have tended to be smaller, on average, than those located decades earlier, and tend to require expensive new technologies (including horizontal drilling, deepwater drilling, and hydrofracturing) for their development. As Jeremy Gilbert, former chief petroleum engineer for BP, has put it, “The current fields we are chasing we’ve known about for a long time in many cases, but they were too complex, too fractured, too difficult to chase. Now our technology and understanding [are] better, which is a good thing, because these difficult fields are all that we have left.”[2] Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Japan plans new round of 'stress tests' on reactors

The "stress tests" are designed to show whether plants can stand up to extreme disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami that began the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in March.

All of Japan's reactors were shut down after the March 11 crisis. Only nineteen of the country's 54 reactors are operating because of delays in restarting plants where regular maintenance tests are being carried out.

The new safety tests will be similar to those currently being done on the 143 reactors in the European Union.

"There is no change in our view that [nuclear power] is safe," said Japan's economy, trade and industry minister, Banri Kaieda. "We are planning the stress tests to gain the understanding of local residents. We will get further confidence from the people and will restart operations at some plants."

Japan's government has said that if more reactors are not restarted, the country could see power shortages later in the summer, but officials are hesitant to reopen plants before the safety checks. Major power users have already been told to cut their peak usage by 15 percent in July to avoid blackouts (Justin McCurry, London Guardian, July 6). -- AP Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

UNEP-Risoe Launches Technology Transfer Publication Series

29 June 2011: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-Risoe Centre has announced the launch of a new publication series titled "Technology Transfer Perspectives," which aims to stimulate debate and information sharing on technology transfer among academics, experts, policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders, and will include mitigation and adaptation-side approaches.

The first edition of the series, titled "Diffusion of renewable energy technologies: case studies of enabling frameworks in developing countries," will be complete in time for the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, at the end of 2011.

The first four articles of this first edition are available: FIT for use everywhere? Assessing experiences with renewable energy feed-in tariffs, by James Haselip, UNEP Risoe Centre, Denmark; Bioenergy in India: Barriers and Policy Options, by Darshini Ravindranath and Srinivas Shroff Nagesha Rao, UN Development Programme (UNDP) India; Enabling Environment and Policy Principles for Replicable Technology Transfer: Lessons from Wind Energy in India, by Emi Mizuno, Climate Strategies, UK; and An enabling framework for wind power in Colombia: What are the lessons from Latin America? by Isaac Dyner, Yris Olaya and Carlos Franco, Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

According to the articles, an effective enabling environment for technology diffusion requires consideration of the market, as opposed to projects specifically. [Publication: Technology Transfer Perspectives Series]

Location:Cayman Islands

Monday, July 4, 2011

Energy security will be an imperative that underpins all of China's ambitions

THERE can be no doubt China sees the rapid development of a clean-energy economy as the way of the future.

It remains the world's leading investor in low-carbon, clean-energy technology, having invested $54.4 billion last year -- up 40 per cent on the previous year.

But while it is conscious of the political desirability of cutting carbon emissions, China's main imperative remains rapid economic development and the maintenance of social stability. It is also very conscious of the need for economic security, which will involve building indigenous industries and reducing reliance on foreign, and often politically unstable, sources of energy imports.

Although some governments like to equate carbon emissions with pollution, the Chinese are under no such illusions. Clean air and clean water are preconditions for good health and a longer life -- the average Chinese citizen does not lie awake at night worrying about what economic advantages they can forego to reduce carbon levels, but they certainly do worry about the ubiquitous smog and industrial haze blanketing places like Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta. Policymakers, and the local media, share these concerns and are very much alive to the need to tackle the source of real toxins that poison their citizens. Full Article >>>

Location:Cayman Islands