Monday, April 28, 2008

ADB Funds Wind Farm in India

The Asian Development Bank will lend US$113 million to a Hong Kong company to develop two windfarms in India.
ADB will extend the rupee-denominated loan to an Indian subsidiary of CLP Holdings to fund development of wind facilities in the states of Gujarat and Karnataka. The windfarms will cost $250 million (Rs9.9 billion) and private sponsors will use internal funds and long-term debt from other sources to cover the balance.

“This project will help India’s economic growth and energy diversification in an environmentally sustainable manner,” explains Shantanu Chakraborty of ADB. “It will also help enhance private sector participation in energy generation by demonstrating the successful implementation of large-scale wind power projects.”

By 2030, energy demand around the world is expected to increase by 53% from current levels, and developing countries in Asia represent a large portion of this increased demand. The pattern of energy investment in developing Asia is strongly carbon-intensive and India is the third-largest electricity consumer on the continent, behind the People’s Republic of China and Japan.

Coal-fired and other thermal power plants provide two-thirds of the installed capacity, with hydropower generating 26% of capacity. India is ranked #4 in the world for installed wind generation, behind Germany, the US and Spain. As of September 2007, it had 7,200 MW of installed wind turbines against its potential for 45,000 MW.Gujarat and Karnataka are two of the leading states for wind but they suffer from significant power shortages. Both states are rated as high potential for wind due to long coastlines and suitable inland areas, and the new projects will add 183 MW in capacity.

These two wind projects are part of a recent series of projects in which ADB, partnering with India’s private sector, is helping the government to meet a goal of power to all residents by 2012.

ADB is dedicated to poverty reduction in Asia and the Pacific, and was established in 1966 by 67 member countries. It contributes low-interest loans and grants to build infrastructure for the 1.9 billion people in the region who live on less than $2 a day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

James Hansen's new vision of Climate Change

James Hansen and his NASA climate science team has been exploring a compelling but daunting new vision of climate change: because of human produced greenhouse gases (GHG) the Earth's climate is now over a tipping point that with expected latent positive feedbacks is potentially leading to warming beyond human control and a future climate fiercely inhospitable to humanity and those species with which we now share creation on this small blue planet.

The tipping point is the melting of the polar ice caps. The rapid and unpredicted melting of the Arctic ice cap is the wake up call. In order to go from warming getting hotter to cooling getting cooler before the ice caps melt Dr. Hansen and his team argue that we must immediately reduce our GHG output and stabilize CO2e in the atmosphere below 350 ppm.

Because present emission mitigation efforts are not expected to even keep atmospheric CO2e below the previously thought ceiling of 450 ppm in order to prevent this dangerous climate change, Dr. Hansen's new vision has been dismissed to a not worth reporting limbo by the mainstream media and so there has been little enlightening criticism of both the big melt science nor of possibly effective mitigation solutions - the scale and urgency of necessary mitigation is just too daunting.
As Joseph Romm eloquently describes our predicament faced with Hansen's new vision of climate change:
1. Staying below 450 ppm is technologically doable, but would be the greatest achievement in the history of the human race, by far. It would require a global effort sustained for decades comparable to what the U.S. did for just the few years of World War II (the biggest obstacle is not technological, but political ­ conservatives currently would never let progressives and moderates pursue such a strategy).

2. If 350 ppm is needed (and I’m not at all sure it is) then the deniers and delayers have won, since such a target is hopeless.

But hopeless is not an option if Hansen is right. If the climate change diagnosis is now akin to a possible terminal illness then we must get out of denial and make the drastic, radical, unthinkable, impossible life style changes necessary or were toast.

In their report Climate Code Red Sutton and Spratt look unflinchingly at the necessity of getting to below 350 ppm urgently and conclude 350 would be possible IF we could get out of political and economic business as usual through a wartime equivalent mobilization. Climate change is an emergency and in our past, in World War II with mobilization, we have disciplined ourselves to meet the challenge.

"There is an urgent need to reconceive the issue we face as a sustainability emergency, that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. The feasibility of rapid transitions is well established historically. We now need to “think the unthinkable”, because the sustainability emergency is now not so much a radical idea as simply an indispensable course of action if we are to return to a safe-climate planet."

Mobilization nationally and globally. And practically such mobilization governance innovation must begin and be led by the US, the world's foremost economic and political power. This essay will explore this possible solution: this radical but compelling vision of all of our futures, our immediate futures. Mobilization first and foremost to get us below 350 ppm before the polar ice melts completely, but also mobilization to stabilize our civilization in order for surgery to head off each of the burgeoning global-scale problems predicted by E.O Wilson in his Bottleneck metaphor for our 21st century.

Mobilization doesn't have to mean Big Gov't, socialism or ecofascism. The reconfiguration of our economies doesn't have to mean a return to farming feudalism, doesn't have to be a loss of wondrous complexity - from vinyl to IPod could prove the best metaphor - although, in all probability, getting below 350 will mean powering down and relocalization. Government action doesn't preclude all of the individual lifestyle changes that most enviros are focused upon; we need both top down and bottom up evolution, with each supporting and facilitating change. Mobilization is first and foremost the needed tool to escape BAU, business as usual: our present expanding growth economy within which systemic change is difficult if not impossible.
Mobilization promises a supporting framework for change. Necessary reconfiguration of our economy requires support for those that are negatively effected in the transition. The mobilization effort during WW2 is a practical example of how our economy can be reconfigured without going off the rails, without great harm to many. Mobilization doesn't throw out the baby with the bath water - there is hopefully a prosperous normality after the transition. Mobilization will also enable Manhattan Project style development of alternative energies and carbon capture and sequestoring (CCS) for fossil fuels, especially coal.

Stephen Pacala estimates that 500 million people, less than 7% of the world's population, contributes more than 50% of GHG - 7% living a lifestyle that threatens humanity. Getting below 350 isn't hopeless, just impossible without governance innovation so that we can effectively manage ourselves recognizing that without such discipline there is no future. Manage ourselves because we are the 500 million with the obese carbon footprint. As George Monbiot points out in HEAT: we need government to make us stop polluting, make us curtail our wasteful use of fossil fuels. We will continue to drive and fly if others do, if there are not reasonable shared restrictions.

In a recent op-ed David Suzuki made the point that FORESIGHT is the human genius that has allowed humanity to survive over millennia and prosper. We need to build our foresight capacity big time to meet the Bottleneck challenges now, this century. Mobilization is a way of turning the corner from a socio-economy predicated upon material growth leading to overshoot, collapse and die-off, to a future society much more careful and self-disciplined in order to protect the ecological basis for our social and economic systems.

Lester Brown has been examining and arguing for mobilization as a solution to the building global-scale problems in three iterations of his book Plan B. Plan B 3.0 (available free on the Net) begins with a stark catalogue of impending problems for our global society: climate change, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, peak everything beginning with shortages of oil and food, market failure, warfare and failed states: intractable building problems caused by burgeoning human population equipped with powerful technologies using fossil fuel energy. Brown confronts these problems with a plan of hope: for example, we have the ability to cut GHG emissions by 80% by 2020 - a hopeful solution to climate change as an emergency. Mobilization is the key:"The challenge is to build a new economy and to do it atwartime speed before we miss so many of nature’s deadlinesthat the economic system begins to unravel." Brown insists that we have the wealth and technology; we have the policy options, the financial tools and expertize, abundant fat to cut and efficiencies to achieve, progressive ethical frameworks and potential rich quality lifestyles to aim for. What is needed is a mechanism to get out of business as usual so that systemic change is possible.

"The choice is ours­yours and mine. We can stay with businessas usual and preside over an economy that continues todestroy its natural support systems until it destroys itself, or wecan adopt Plan B and be the generation that changes direction,moving the world onto a path of sustained progress. The choicewill be made by our generation, but it will affect life on earthfor all generations to come."

Lester Brown has done the preliminary spadework in Plan-B 3.0. Having digested the Arctic melt science, Sutton and Spratt advocate mobilization in Churchillian tones because climate change is an emergency and political and economic business as usual is too slow and path dependent. But James Hansen instead has been focusing upon keeping coal in the ground.
To his great credit Dr. Hansen has not restricted his role to just that of scientist advancing his new climate change hypothesis, but because mobilization is heretically impossible today in the US, like most ENGO's involved in climate change mitigation, he focuses on what is considered doable, even if practically the only way of keeping coal in the ground is mobilization.

Hansen and ENGOs realize that invoking mobilization as a possible solution today is counterproductive. Choose your favorite reason:
Because, insidiously, climate change is an enemy that will only strike in a discounted, uncertain future; because climate change does not have a human face like Hitler or the Japanese that attacked Pearl Harbor; because President Bush and the only sometime conservative right wingers control the political agenda; because leveraging and indebtedness reinforcing path dependence; because the denial industry has introduced many effective blockades to climate change education in a population preoccupied with garbage like the tits and troubles of silly starlets and baseball players: because today's Americans are too selfish and pre-occupied to unite for change.

The biggest hurdle to achieving mobilization is getting mobilization on the mitigation menu in the US. Mobilization will only be possible if there is a robust consensus amongst Americans (first) that climate change is an emergency requiring drastic action. Almost all Americans would need to be on the same page about climate change danger or at least informed adequately so that this degree of danger is publicly undeniable. Then mobilization will become an option, the option.

Dr. Hansen and his team have articulated a very serious climate change hypothesis. Science works by rigorously testing hypothesis. The science community must innovate so that the Hansen et el hypothesis is tested rigorously as quickly as possible.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rapid Growth for Wind Energy in 2007

(Ref: World Watch Institute)
Global wind power capacity reached 94,100 megawatts by the end of 2007, up 27 percent from the previous year, and then topped 100,000 megawatts by April 2008. The roughly 20,000 megawatts installed in 2007 was 31 percent above the 2006 record for capacity additions. New wind installa­tions were second only to natural gas in the United States as an additional source of power capacity and were the leading source of new capacity in the European Union (EU).

The United States led the world in new installations for the third year in a row with a record-shattering 5,244 megawatts of wind capacity added, increasing cumulative installed capacity by 45 percent. Wind power represented 30 percent of new U.S. capacity additions last year, compared with 1 percent of the total just five years earlier. The nation's wind capacity now totals 16,818 mega­watts, second only to Germany, and is enough to power 4.5 million U.S. homes. The surge in 2007 was driven by the federal production tax credit and by renewable energy mandates in 25 states and the District of Columbia. The federal credit is due to expire at the end of 2008, though an extension is widely expected. Texas is the nation's top wind power generator, with 30 percent of total U.S. wind production last year, but six states now each have more than 1,000 megawatts of installed capacity.

Wind capacity in the European Union rose 18 percent in 2007, with new records in several countries. Wind power accounted for about 40 percent of new power installations across Europe. Additions of 8,554 mega­watts-an increase of 12 percent over 2006 installations-brought the EU's total to 56,535 megawatts. Total wind capacity installed in Europe by the end of 2007 was enough to meet nearly 4 percent of the region's electricity demand in an average wind year and will avoid about 90 million tons of carbon dioxide emis­sions annually. For the first time in several years, Europe's wind market dropped below half of the global total as the EU accounted for only 43 percent of new additions worldwide; but Europe still has 60 percent of total global capacity.

Germany remains the world leader in wind power capacity, with a total of 22,247 mega­watts, almost 24 percent of the global total. However, Germany's wind market experienced a signifi­cant slowdown in 2007. Rising turbine prices in conjunction with falling payments to wind-generated electricity have temporarily made the German market less attractive to developers than the U.S. and British markets are; Germany has also experienced an increasing scarcity of good onshore sites. Only 1,667 megawatts of new capacity were installed in 2007, 25 percent less than added during the previous year. Despite this, the share of electricity that Ger­many obtained from renewable sources-half of which comes from wind power-continues its rapid rise. Wind power generated the equivalent of 7.2 percent of Germany's electricity consump­tion in 2007. Windy northern Schleswig-Holstein now aims for the wind to generate all of that state's power by 2020, up from 30 percent today.

Spain led Europe in new installations in 2007, now ranking third worldwide in total wind capacity. An estimated 3,522 megawatts were added last year, bringing the nation's total to 15,145 megawatts, enough to meet 10 percent of Spain's electricity needs.

Other countries in Europe that experienced significant growth in 2007 include France (888 megawatts added), Italy (603), Portugal (434), and the United Kingdom (427), and each of these countries now has total capacity of well over 2,000 megawatts. The United Kingdom and Portugal, however, both experienced slower growth than in 2006.

Although Europe (mostly Germany and Spain) and the United States now account for 78 per­cent of the world's installed wind power capacity, more than 70 nations-from Australia to Zimbabwe-now tap the wind to produce electricity.

The biggest surprise is China, which was barely in the wind business three years ago but which in 2007 trailed only the United States and Spain in wind installations and was fifth in total installed capacity. An estimated 3,449 mega­watts of wind turbines were added in 2007, bringing China's provisional total to 6,050 megawatts and already exceeding the govern­ment's target for 2010. (An estimated one fourth of this capacity is still not connected to the grid, however, due to planning problems.) Another 4,000 megawatts are expected to be added in 2008 and, based on current growth rates, the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association predicts that China's wind capacity could reach 50,000 megawatts by 2015.

Elsewhere in Asia, India added 1,730 megawatts of new capacity and continues to rank fourth overall for total installations, with an estimated 8,000 megawatts. Other regions and countries experiencing significant growth include Canada (added 386 megawatts), New Zealand (151), Latin America, where Brazil added 161 mega­watts and Chile installed about 18 megawatts, and northern Africa, where Egypt added 80 mega­watts.

These dramatic increases in capacity took place against a backdrop of serious turbine shortages. Wind turbines require some 8,000 components, and suppliers of many of these parts need years to ramp up production. Parts shortages have affected the United States in particular, where numerous projects have been put on hold.s a result, several Euro­pean companies that had the funds and fore­sight to lock in orders of new machines have taken this opportunity to buy up smaller companies and utilities to gain a foothold in the United States, where wide open spaces promise an enormous future market.

Manufacturers are now positioning them­selves to increase production of gearboxes, rotors, and other components, and it is expected that this will eliminate the turbine shortage by sometime in 2009. For the short term, how­ever, the turbine shortage could dictate how quickly the industry will grow.

These growing pains have affected the economics of wind power. Over the past 15 years, the costs of wind-generated electricity have dropped by 50 percent, while efficiency, reliability, and power rating have all experi­enced significant improvements. But costs have increased in recent years due to the tur­bine shortage, rising material costs, and increased manufacturing profitability. (In the United States, costs have also risen thanks to the falling value of the dollar relative to the euro.) Despite the higher costs, wind power remains competitive with new natural gas plants, and all conventional plants have seen similar construction cost increases. Wind power will become increas­ingly competitive with coal as more countries put a price on carbon.
The global wind market was estimated to be worth about $36 billion in 2007, accounting for nearly half of all investments in new renewable power and heating capacity last year. As many as 200,000 people around the world are currently employed by the wind industry. These numbers will only rise in coming years.

The EU is now committed to generating 20 percent of its primary energy with renewables by 2020, which means that these sources will need to provide about 35 percent of the region's electricity in 12 years, up from 15 percent in 2007. Wind power is expected to account for most of that increase. And the potential for the United States, China, and many other countries is enormous.

The wind industry has consistently blown by past projections. For example, forecast in 2002 that global capacity would reach 83,000 megawatts by the end of 2007, far short of the 94,100 megawatts that it actually did achieve-and it could continue to do so for years to come.

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