Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We can have safe, sustainable energy

With renewables we can contain consumption – and climate warming at 2C – if the big users act now.

The world's energy system is being pushed to breaking point, and our addiction to fossil fuels grows stronger each year. Many clean energy technologies are available, but they are not being deployed quickly enough to avert potentially disastrous consequences.

This is the message the International Energy Agency will deliver on Wednesday in London at the Clean Energy Ministerial, a meeting of ministers and representatives of nations that together account for four-fifths of world energy demand. In a new report we find that achieving a more secure, sustainable energy system, in line with the goal of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2C, is still possible but requires urgent action by the world's major governments.

The present state of affairs is unacceptable precisely because we have a responsibility and a golden opportunity to act. Energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs; under current policies we estimate energy use and CO2 emissions will increase by a third by 2020, and almost double by 2050. This would probably send global temperatures at least 6C higher within this century.

It doesn't have to be this way. One need only look at the recent progress made by a portfolio of renewable technologies to see that rapid technological change is possible. In particular, the output from onshore wind power has grown by 27% annually over the past decade. Solar panels easily installed by households and businesses (known as solar PV) have grown 42% annually, albeit from a small base.

But other technologies with great potential for energy and emissions savings are making much less progress. Vehicle fuel-efficiency improvement is slow in many countries, and manufacturers' sales projections for electric vehicles after 2014 are a fraction of government targets. Carbon capture and storage is not seeing the rate of investment needed to develop full-scale demonstration projects. In addition, half of new electricity demand has been met by coal; and to make things more challenging, 50% of those new coal-fired power plants are still being built with inefficient technology. All these trends are going in the wrong direction. More


Monday, April 23, 2012

Scholarships for new MSc in Energy Policy for Sustainability at the University of Sussex, UK

Dear colleagues,

Just a quick reminder that we still accept applications for two partial scholarships for our new MSc programme in ‘Energy Policy for Sustainability’ for the 2012 entry. The programme is led by the Sussex Energy Group (SEG), one of the largest independent social science energy policy research groups in the world and a core partner in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the UK Energy Research Centre.

For more information on the programme please see:

For more information on how to apply for the scholarships, please see:

Please forward this information to potentially interested students

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fusion Dawn - EarthRise

The dream of cheap,safe fusion power takes a step closer to become reality Broadcast 13/04/2012

Physicists have long joked that nuclear fusion is the power of the future - and always will be! But a new international collaboration is under way to make nuclear fusion a reality. Reporter Gelareh Darabi visits the site of ITER, a fusion reactor currently being constructed in France, and the JET reactor in the UK - both attempting to bring the power of the sun to earth.
A fusion reaction happens when two variants, or isotopes, of hydrogen - deuterium and tritium - fuse to form a helium atom and a high-speed neutron. This is the same reaction that powers the sun. In a commercial fusion power station the high-speed neutrons would be slowed down by a denser material surrounding the reaction. This slowly releases heat which can be used to produce steam and drive electric turbines.
However, sadly in reality it is not as easy as this. The challenge is to create a self-sustaining fusion reaction - one that gives out more energy than is required to start it. Just one of the problems is that the two types of hydrogen must be combined at a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius inside a powerful magnetic field. Both require huge amounts of energy. The ITER reactor will not be turned on for at least another 10 years, and further research is needed to ensure that it is viable. Perry Beaumont
But the dream of free, safe and virtually limitless energy is worth pursuing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bill Gates Never Ran an Energy Company

Last year, Bill Gates noted in an interview with Alan Murray of the Wall Street Journal that technologies like solar photovoltaics and LED lights were "cute" but could never deal with the bigger issue of climate change and powering the developing world.

And, this week, writer Marc Gunther wrote in his postthat "Germany, once the world's leading market for solar power, is pulling back its subsidies. Q Cells, once the world's largest solar company, just went bankrupt.' This isn't happy news."

So, I am writing to point out three things:

1. The solar industry is growing and is significant, but is not going to solve all the ills of carbon;

2. Mistakes are a blessing; and
3. Theory is theory, not a solution

1. Solar Growth: First, let me make note that I, and others, have just spent the last decade in solar creating the solar services industry which, according to the 2011 National Solar Jobs Census published by the Solar Foundation, grew 6.8 percent between 2010 and 2011.

Plus, the solar industry installed $90 billion of equipment last year. That's double the amount of equipment that was installed for the new coal industry.

And, GTM research and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), issued a report that the showed that U.S. installed 1,855 MW (or 1.86 GW) of solar in 2011 and is expected to install a full gigawatt more than that in 2012: 2.8 GW.

GTM Research and SEIA estimate the U.S. solar market's total value surpassed $8.4 billion in 2011.

So, solar is winning and growing. But, no one is saying it is the only solution -- just a compelling piece of the puzzle.

In fact, there is no silver bullet. We must find efficiencies and new solutions in solving the carbon issue in several areas: transport, agriculture, energy, forestry, industry, buildings and waste.

However, when we think about carbon, most of us tend to think of two areas: transportation and electricity. While Bill Gates might label solar and LED lighting as "cute," the numbers seem to suggest otherwise. Both are billion-dollar industries and together with hundreds of other solutions will help reach the $5+ trillion in new investments necessary to make an impact by 2020.

Remember, we did not get to this point with one major offender, and we will not solve our ills with one major solution. More


Barbados to build first waste to energy plant at major landfill

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, April 12, 2012 - A waste-to-energy facility expected to process approximately 350 tonnes of solid waste a day, and provide between 10 to 14 megawatts of electricity is on the cards for Barbados.

This was announced by the island’s Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr Denis Lowe, as he disclosed that Cabinet had recently approved BDS$377 million for the creation of a Mangrove Pond Green Energy Complex.

Along with the waste-to-energy facility, this complex will include a solar power facility, a wind energy facility, the Mangrove Pond Beautification Programme, the construction of a new mechanical maintenance facility, and the Landfill Gas Management System.
Dr Lowe said the complex formed part of Government's efforts to develop a comprehensive programme to manage solid waste disposal and create energy options for the country.
"What we are also going to be doing in that package of services is to decommission cells one, two and three [at the Landfill], and commission the new cell four towards the end of June," he said.
The projects listed under the programme are expected to assist with the development of the infrastructure that is necessary for achieving sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness in the execution of solid waste management in Barbados. More

The Cayman Islands should, no matter where the new land-fill is placed, seriously consider a major recycling program. Editor




The Pursuit of Low Gas Prices is Bad for the U.S.

It's a fallacy that we can drill our way to low gas prices, and trying to do so not only threatens our health, but also wastes our money and misdirects innovation. If we stop focusing on the problem of high gas prices and who’s to blame and start pursuing solutions to the true problem—our oil dependence—we might find we agree more than we think.

Oil price volatility carries a huge economic cost. High oil prices have preceded every recession since 1973, and have put mobility industries especially at risk. Savvy companies get this. FedEx (which burns 1.5 billion gallons of petroleum-based fuels) is now betting on electric or hybrid vehicles, and adding biofuels and natural gas to the mix for its delivery van, truck, and jet fleets.

The relentless pursuit of low gas prices forces us to spend trillions and risk young Americans' lives. The Pentagon gets this, and has made “more fight, less fuel” a central part of its sweeping strategy to not only reduce through efficiency the amount of oil the military uses, but also to replace it with alternative sources.

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s fleet efficiency survey shows that once the leaders in trucking started adopting efficiency measures, they continued doing so even when diesel prices dropped. Now that fuel prices are rising again, that investment is rewarding them even more.

Many have pointed to the Obama Administration and its energy strategy, in spite of the fact that gas prices and volatility are tied to the world market (which pays little regard to who is president).

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is in hot water for having said in 2008—before he was energy secretary—that, “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Politically inconvenient given Chu’s position now, but did he have a point? More




Start the shift to a better future for transportation

FedEx Chairman, President and CEO, Fred Smith has said [1] of our nation's dependence on oil, "What is needed now is an urgent, national commitment to action." As oil prices once again top $100 a barrel, we're unveiling a video that we hope will help bring more attention to doing just that. Seventy [2] percent of oil used in the United States is for transportation fuel. In his testimony [3] to Congress, Fred Smith outlined the incredible costs and burdens this dependence creates on families, businesses and our national security. There are better alternatives. And while we're used to delivering overnight at FedEx, we know this shift is something that's going to take a little longer [4]. Check out this short piece about the current challenge and go here [5] to find out what other steps you can take right now. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Friday, April 6, 2012

Who Put Tim DeChristopher in Isolation? Tim DeChristopher for Man of the Year

In late 2008 the Bush administration rushed to do one last favor for their friends in the oil and gas industry so the Bureau of Land Management held an auction in December of 2008 to sell oil and gas drilling rights on thousands of acres of federal land. Environmentalists weren't pleased and activist Tim DeChristopher ended up behind bars for trying stop to this sketchy auction. He was charged with two felony counts and last July he was given a two year sentence and a $10000 fine by a federal judge. Rolling Stone reported last week because of an email he sent to the person who manages his finances, using the word "threat", DeChristopher was put in isolation. But the Bureau of Prisons did this reportedly at the request of an anonymous Congressman. So we're asking you to get in touch with your member of Congress office and politely ask the staff to state on the record whether or not they contacted the Bureau of Prisons about DeChristopher's letter. If so, did they ask for the bureau to implement retaliatory measures such as isolation? Twitter: Facebook:

It could be argued that giving the oil companies massive subsidies and allowing them to pillage the United States wild natural heritage is not adding to the countries national security. Nor obviously, is imprisoning a campaigner like DeChristopher whose motivation is to mitigate global warming and climate change. Climate change is going to cause Small Island Developing States (SIDS) (and Arctic Communities) to be submerged and evacuated before the end of the century.

Where will these climate refugees go? Will America, the greatest consumer of fossil fuel (ok China has just passed the USA building your high-tech toys) allow them to come and live with you? If I were a climate refugee I would not go to live in any country that persecutes people for trying in their small way to save our world from the ravages of climate destruction. Editor

Advanced Power-Grid Research Finds Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Future in Western U.S.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 3, 2012) — The least expensive way for the Western U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to help prevent the worst consequences of global warming is to replace coal with renewable and other sources of energy that may include nuclear power, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.

The experts reached this conclusion using SWITCH, a highly detailed computer model of the electric power grid, to study generation, transmission and storage options for the states west of the Kansas/Colorado border. The model will be an important tool for utilities and government planners.

"Decarbonization of the electric power sector is critical to achieving greenhouse gas reductions that are needed for a sustainable future," said Daniel Kammen, Distinguished Professor of Energy in UC Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group. "To meet these carbon goals, coal has to go away from the region."

To achieve this level of decarbonization, policy changes are needed to cap or tax carbon emissions to provide an incentive to move toward low-carbon electricity sources, Kammen and the other study authors said.

While some previous studies have emphasized the high cost of carbon taxes or caps, the new study shows that replacing coal with more gas generation, as well as renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal energy, would result in only a moderate increase to consumers in the cost of electric power -- at most, 20 percent. They estimate a lower ratepayer cost, Kammen said, because the evolution of the electrical grid over the next 20 years -- with coordinated construction of new power plants and transmission lines -- would substantially reduce the actual consumer cost of meeting carbon emission targets. More


Monday, April 2, 2012

Ecocide is a crime.

For almost twenty years, Garth's photography of threatened wilderness regions, devastation, and the impacts on indigenous peoples, has appeared in the world's leading publications. His recent images from the boreal region of Canada have helped lead to significant victories and large new protected areas in the Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Ontario. Garth's major touring exhibit on the Tar Sands premiered on Los Angeles in 2011 and recently appeared in New York. Garth is a Fellow of the International League Of Conservation Photographers

For those interested to know more about our profile cover picture of before and after please watch this excellent TEDx talk by Garth Lenz about the destruction of the Athabasca wetlands and forest in Canada through extraction of the tar sands for oil.

What does environmental devastation actually look like? At TEDxVictoria, photographer Garth Lenz shares shocking photos of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project -- and the beautiful (and vital) ecosystems under threat.