Saturday, November 22, 2008

IEA's advice to Governments to accelerate the exploitation of Renewable Energy


The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that nearly 50% of global electricity supplies will have to come from renewable energy sources if we want to halve CO2 emissions by 2050 in order to minimise significant and irreversible climate change impacts. This is a huge challenge and part of the entire energy revolution we need to achieve. Meeting these very ambitious objectives will require unprecedented political commitment and effective policy design and implementation.
“Only a limited set of countries have implemented effective support policies for renewables and there is a large potential for improvement”, said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the IEA today in Berlin at the launch of the new study, Deploying Renewables: Principles for Effective Policies. “Several countries have made important progress in recent years in fostering renewables, with renewable energy markets expanding considerably as a result. However, much more can and should be done at the global level - in OECD member countries, large emerging economies and other countries - to address the urgent need of transforming our unsustainable energy present into a clean and secure energy future.”
In this publication, the IEA has for the first time carried out a comparative analysis of the performance of the various renewables promotion policies around the world. The study encompasses 35 countries, including - all OECD members and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), and addresses the three relevant sectors electricity production, heating and transport. In 2005, these 35 countries accounted for 80% of total global commercial renewable electricity generation, 77% of commercial renewable heating/cooling (excluding the use of traditional biomass) and 98% of renewable transport fuel production.
The report shows that there are still significant barriers which hamper a swift expansion and increase the costs of accelerating renewables’ transition into the mainstream. If these were removed, it “could allow the great potential of renewables to be exploited much more rapidly and to a much larger extent”, Mr. Tanaka emphasised.
“Governments need to do more”, Mr. Tanaka continued. “Setting a carbon price is not enough. To foster a smooth and efficient transition of renewables towards mass market integration, renewable energy policies should be designed around a set of fundamental principles, inserted into predictable, transparent and stable policy frameworks and implemented in an integrated approach.”
Renewable policy design should reflect five key principles:

The removal of non-economic barriers, such as administrative hurdles, obstacles to grid access, poor electricity market design, lack of information and training, and the tackling of social acceptance issues with a view to overcome them - in order to improve market and policy functioning;

The need for a predictable and transparent support framework to attract investments;

The introduction of transitional incentives, decreasing over time, to foster and monitor technological innovation and move technologies quickly towards market competitiveness;

The development and implementation of appropriate incentives guaranteeing a specific level of support to different technologies based on their degree of technology maturity, in order to exploit the significant potential of the large basket of renewable energy technologies over time;
and

The due consideration of the impact of large-scale penetration of renewable energy technologies on the overall energy system, especially in liberalised energy markets, with regard to overall cost efficiency and system reliability.
“Governments need to take urgent action”, Mr. Tanaka concluded. “We encourage them to develop carefully designed policy frameworks, customised to support technologies at differing stages of maturity, and eventually to apply appropriate incentives such as a carbon price for more mature renewables. Moving a strong portfolio of renewable energy technologies towards full market integration is one of the main elements needed to make the energy technology revolution happen.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Invention of a High Efficient 3D Solar Cell that works for visible and UV light by a 12 year old boy from Oregon


A new invention could revolutionize solar energy – and it was made by a 12-year-old in Beaverton, Oregon, United States.

Despite his age, William Yuan has already studied nuclear fusion and nanotechnology, and he is on his way to solving the energy crisis.

It all started with Legos - after he learned nanotechnology to make robots take off. The seventh grader then got an idea inspired by the sun. Encouraged by his Meadow Park Middle School science teacher, the 12-year-old developed a 3D solar cell.

"Regular solar cells are only 2D and only allow light interaction once," William said.
And his cell can absorb both visible and UV light.

In his project, “A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UVLight,” William invented a novel solar panel that enables light absorption from visible toultraviolet light. He designed carbon nanotubes to overcome the barriers of electronmovement, doubling the light-electricity conversion efficiency. William also developed amodel for solar towers and a computer program to simulate and optimize the towerparameters. His optimized design provides 500 times more light absorption thancommercially-available solar cells and nine times more than the cutting-edge, threedimensionalsolar cell.

About William

Since 2005, William has been involved in the First Lego League (FLL), which led him toresearch renewable energy and nanotechnology. During his research and communityoutreach, William realized the importance of renewable energy for future generationsand began to focus his research on solar cells. William regularly visited Portland StateUniversity (PSU) as part of this research.William graduated from Jacob Wismer Elementary School in 2007 and enrolled in Meadow Park Middle School’s Summa program. Always ranked within the top 1 percenton state standardized tests, William has taken advanced classes in mechanicalengineering, biology, computer programming and media design outside school.William has many interests and is involved in FLL, MESA (Math, Engineering, andScience Achievement), Science Bowl, Mathcounts, American MathematicsCompetitions (AMC), Chess, Signal to Noise, Geo-Bee, and the Discovery EducationYoung Scientist Challenge. William enjoys learning about science and technologybecause he believes these areas hold the keys to the future.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Big Corporations becoming environment friendly


Intel Corp has long strived to reduce its carbon footprint. Now, by buying renewable energy credits -- purchases that guarantee the generation of wind, solar and geothermal electricity -- it is stepping up the pace. It's all part of corporate world's attempt to neutralize their carbon emissions.

Many companies are being proactive, reasoning that it is healthy for both the environment and business. Indeed, the pressure to address global warming has influenced the public and private sectors to come up with solutions — not just feel-good ideas but ones that cut emissions using the latest technologies and market-based strategies.

"This is one milestone in our long-term strategy to help create a business environment where renewable energy is more economically feasible and therefore, the choice alternative for individuals and businesses," says Marty Sedler, director of global utilities for Intel in Arizona. In the case of Intel, it has made the largest single voluntary purchase of renewable energy credits ever, representing 1.3 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity. This transaction is like taking 185,000 passenger vehicles per year off the road. Or, stated differently, the company has purchased enough electricity to power more than 130,000 average American homes annually, all according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A study by EcoSecurities and ClimateBiz surveyed 65 multinational corporations and found that 43 percent of them had already implemented an existing carbon management strategy, with another 34 percent of those organizations saying that they are in the process of developing one. When asked what types of carbon offsets they preferred, nearly all of them said such energy efficiency measures as insulation and changing light bulbs are the easiest to implement. They also referenced the buying of renewable energy and the capping of landfill projects.

Taking steps to become more energy efficient is one way to reduce carbon footprints. Buying carbon offsets and renewable energy credits is another. The goal is to make drastic cuts in heat-trapping emissions. Businesses could choose, for instance, to place a tent over their landfills and then funnel their methane emissions to a central outlet.

Companies such as New York-based Hess Corp. are then selling credits to those commercial and industrial companies that want to participate.

Voluntary Segment

But a challenge that Hess and others now face is verifying the authenticity of the credits that they sell. In other words, buyers must not only be able to accurately measure and value their carbon emissions but they also need to know that their credits are being dedicated solely to their operations — and not recycled back into the marketplace.

To this end, the businesses that buy and sell emissions credits can have their enterprises given the stamp of approval by outside auditors. Consider Hess, which calculates its customers' carbon emissions and then purchases the necessary offsets: Its offering has met the standards set by the Center for Resource Solution's Green-e program that vouches for the credits it offers.

According to the center, the growth in the voluntary credits market is a strong indication that electricity consumers want more of their power to be generated by renewable energy and that they are willing to pay a small premium for such guarantees. The purchase of certified credits and offsets further stimulates this market, it adds, ensuring that more green energy projects get built.

The center estimates that compliance markets account for two-thirds of the credits sold while voluntary ones make up the rest. Of that voluntary segment, it says that it validates about 60 percent of the credits sold. Altogether, it says that roughly 260,000 residential customers and 10,000 commercial customers across the United States and Canada purchased Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy.

While Intel topped the list this year, PepsiCo was the biggest patron of renewable energy certificates in 2007, the EPA says. It had a total purchase of over 1.1 million MWh, representing 100 percent of its total electricity use.

"Our mantra is transparency," says Jeff Swenerton, communications director for the Center for Resource Solutions in San Francisco. "We make sure utilities as well as carbon offset providers and the independent renewable energy credit sellers open up their books to independent auditors. We monitor the chain of custody for these offsets and certificates until they get to customers. They are then retired. Customers rely on us to ensure they are getting what they have paid for."

With pressure mounting to do something, other companies such as Cisco, DuPont, Honda, Johnson & Johnson, Kodak and Wells Fargo are keeping tabs on their emissions and are promising to make significant cuts in them. All are part of EPA's effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions. To succeed, the agency says that they are using a combination of renewable energy certificates, on-site generation and utility green power products.

U.S.-based businesses are leading the charge in the effort to curb heat-trapping emissions. Through the use of offsets and credits, many of them are facilitating the use of green energy and thereby reducing the nation's carbon footprint. In the process, they are endearing themselves to the broader public and perhaps to state and federal agencies that may soon mandate cuts in greenhouse gases.
(Ref: RenewableEnergyworld.com)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Creating an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)


What has been within reach is now ready to be settled: 51 states from different continents agreed on the Statute (Treaty) of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at the Final Preparatory Conference held on 23-24 October, 2008 in Madrid (Spain).

The final stage in the foundation process - the Founding Conference – is scheduled for 26 January 2009, in Bonn (Germany). At the Founding Conference, the Statute will be signed and IRENA will be established.

Considering the magnitude and urgency of the tasks IRENA faces, many states agreed that the Agency commences operating and establishing effective working structures right after its foundation.


Accelerating the adoption and sustainable use of renewable energy’s vast potential

Renewable energy is one of the key solutions to the current challenges facing the world’s energy future. Germany has been pursuing an ambitious renewable energy policy over the last decade, successfully promoting renewable energies on the national level and within the European Union. Many states already foster the production and use of renewable energy through different approaches on a political and economic level as they recognize the urgent need to change the current energy path. The current use of renewable energy, however, is still limited in spite of its vast potential - the obstacles are manifold.

This is where IRENA - the International Renewable Energy Agency – comes in. Mandated by governments worldwide, IRENA aims at becoming the main driving force in promoting a rapid transition towards the widespread and sustainable use of renewable energy on a global scale.

Acting as the global voice for renewable energies, IRENA will provide practical advice and support for both industrialised and developing countries, help them improve their regulatory frameworks and build capacity. The Agency will facilitate access to all relevant information including reliable data on the potential of renewable energy, best practices, effective financial mechanisms and state-of-the-art technological expertise.

Discussions conducted with governments spanning the world’s regions have shown that numerous countries welcome the German initiative and would like to be involved in setting up the agency.

The German Parliament supports this endeavour as seen from the decision on 19 June 2008, where a large majority voted in favour of establishing IRENA.


Progress report

On 10 and 11 April, 2008, representatives of 60 countries met in Berlin at the invitation of the German Federal Government to attend the Preparatory Conference for the Foundation of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). At the Preparatory Conference, representatives expressed their overall support for the foundation of IRENA. Discussions centered on the future objectives, activities, organisational structure and financing of IRENA. In particular, participants drew attention to the importance of effective coordination with other international organisations and networks. It was agreed that IRENA should constitute an independent driving force behind renewable energy and help to create a level playing field for the development of renewable energy.

Since then, the German Federal Government has hosted two workshops dedicated to IRENA. Held in parallel on 30 June and 1 July, 2008 the workshops addressed IRENA's initial work programme as well as its statutes and finances. Together, these workshops formed another crucial step on the road towards the foundation of IRENA.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Obama and Renewable Energy


More than being a reflection of any one American story, President-elect Obama represents whole-hearted transition to a new economy—one where renewable energy will drive growth. Eager industry watchers are expecting a full $150 billion in alternative energy commitments from the Obama administration. That will be spread out over the next decade, and measures to put money in the right hands are already underway as part of the transition process.

Yet for all the hope Obama's candidacy and win engendered throughout the world, there are plenty of veterans of clean energy who have gotten burned before by unfulfilled political promises.


Notice how energy funding ballooned in the Carter administration, only to deflate when Reagan pulled the solar panels off the White House and oil prices plummeted. Nothing is certain, but the next commander-in-chief seems to be off to a flying start when it comes to energy strategy.
As of November 6, Politico.com reports that Obama is considering the creation of a new Energy Security Council at the executive level.


John Podesta, Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff who now heads Obama's transition team, recently published "Green Recovery: A New Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy." Podesta heads the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, and his report may serve as a road map for Obama.

A Greener White House

The Bush administration has balked at any real progress on limiting greenhouse gas output, as fossil-fuel industries prophesied economic disaster.

Retooling coal-fired power plants and spending money on rooftop solar at big factories would cause major job losses and reduce shareholder value, they argued.

Well, look at what has happened in the past several months:
The stock market has tanked.
Unemployment is on the rise.
Technical recession is already upon US.
That's nearly all attributable to speculation in housing and deceptively clever financial innovations.

So can anyone honestly say that mitigating climate change and investing in a new economy driven by renewable energy is still the riskiest thing US can do?

There is also the competitiveness argument. In its 2007 Environmental Policy Outlook report, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, called the framing of a global climate change regime a "classic chicken-and-egg problem."

The AEI report continues to say that the U.S. "does not wish to enter into a regime of economically costly emission caps or taxes that would have the effect of driving industry and jobs to nations such as China and India that do not participate in such caps."

As a result of that mentality, inaction has been the rule in the White House, and the competitive balance now favors other countries like Germany and Denmark, where renewables have become a national priority and point of pride.

After Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed his country onto the Kyoto Protocol earlier this year, the United States is now the only industrialized country not party to the agreement.
There are exceptions in the United States, namely California, that defy federal intransigence. Under the leadership of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and one of the most progressive state governments in the country, California passed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
California's country-sized economy has become one of the most attractive markets for renewable energy companies from around the world, both because of that law and its abundant sunshine.

Solar energy is more cost-effective in high radiation regions like California and the Mediterranean, but geographical variation is no reason to stall national goals in the U.S. Arnold Schwarzenegger had been cast as a likely pick for John McCain's would-be cabinet, but knowing Barack Obama's penchant for surrounding himself with experienced bipartisan leaders, the Governator may just find himself in a Democratic government as Secretary of Energy.

And the Golden State's industrial gem, Silicon Valley, will probably see its own leaders rise to prominence in Washington.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Energy Issues and the US Presidential Candidates

The most important concern in the latest presidential election campaign in the U.S. is the energy policy issue. Both the Republicans and Democrats are addressing this issue and both are keen on cutting down expenditure on foreign oil and also the large scale reliance of U.S economy on the foreign oil.

You may find out what each candidate is saying by taking a look at the following. Democratic candidate Barack Obama as well as Republican candidate John McCain are paying serious attention to energy issues. Analysts have commented on their policies and it is explained for you in lucid terms below.

OFFSHORE DRILLING

Initially Obama was against lifting the congressional moratorium on drilling in federal lands off U.S. coasts. Recently however he has switched to supporting limited expanded offshore drilling as a part of broader legislation to help solve America’s energy problems.

McCain defends expanding the offshore drilling program to tap the projected 18 billion barrels of oil that is present on the outer continental shelf of U.S. He has said that this will be done without harming the environment in any way.

STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE

McCain is against opening up the reserved stock pile of oil unless he feels, what he calls, a serious shortage far outreaching the demand or disorder in the supply machinery.

Initially, Obama too opposed releasing oil from the reserve unless there was a critical disruption of supply, but he has recently changed his stance and now supports releasing 70 million barrels of light sweet crude, later to be compensated by heavier crude.

WINDFALL PROFITS TAX

Obama supports a tax cut for middle and lower middle classes. He wants to do this via a five-year windfall tax on profits of large scale oil companies. The burden of high energy prices will thus be compensated by the tax from large oil companies themselves. The middle and lower middle classes therefore can enjoy the benefits of a $1,000 tax rebate under the Obama presidency.

McCain is against burdening the oil companies with new taxes.

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Obama wants to give an impetus to alternative fuel usage by means of a $7,000 tax credit for people who buy “advanced” automobiles. He wants over a million plug-in hybrid cars on the go by 2015. Obama also wishes to raise the Renewable Fuel Standard to at least 60 billion gallons of highly developed biofuels like cellulosic ethanol by 2030; create a proper ethanol distribution infrastructure, direct that all new vehicles be “flexfuel” by the time his first term in office ends. He wishes to ensure the production of 2 billion gallons of “cellulosic” ethanol from non-corn sources like switchgrass by 2013.

McCain however is against ethanol inducements and has said that he would abolish the import tariff on sugar cane-based ethanol. Basically, he is against subsidies and tariffs that disrupt market practices; he wants a $5,000 tax credit for buying zero carbon emission cars; He wants a tiered structure that gives highest tax credit to the least carbon emitting car. McCain too, backs the usage of “flexfuel” automobiles.

SPECULATION ON FUTURES MARKETS

Obama has advised government control on trading and regulated exchange. He wants proper information on markets especially on index funds and other similar ventures. He supports legalized sanction and directives issued to the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission to look up proposals which suggest increasing margin requirements in the market; He backs closing up the Enron Loophole.

McCain on the other hand is worried about the speculative nature of the market. He too backs closing the Enron Loophole, looking into probable market exploitation and manipulation and making new laws and regulations regularizing the oil futures market to make them more clear and successful.

NUCLEAR POWER

McCain wishes to create 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030, and finally wants 100 new nuclear plants built in U.S. He backs the storing of nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada desert.

Obama too backs the usage of nuclear power, but feels that nuclear waste disposition and proliferation is an important concern too. He is against the Yucca Mountain plan.

GASOLINE TAX HOLIDAY

McCain has given a proposal of the gasoline tax holiday. In it he would deflect funds from general government revenues compensating for transportation projects funded by the tax.
Obama is against temporarily removing the federal tax on gasoline. He thinks that temporary tax benefit is not the real answer to the problem.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Obama wants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050; that is take it to the 1990 level by 2020.He wants the reduction of carbon content by 10 percent by 2020.

McCain wants a CO2reduction too, he wants to lower emissions by 30 percent by 2050.

OIL USE

McCain wants U.S to be self reliant by 2025 in its oil usage. Obama wishes to lower down oil usage by at least 35 per cent or 10 million barrels per day by 2030, to reduce the reliance on OPEC nations.

ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Obama is against Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling. McCain wishes to have more offshore oil drilling, does not back ANWR drilling at the moment.

ENERGY RESEARCH

Obama wishes to spend $150 billion over 10 years on low-carbon energy sources, double R&D expenditure on biomass, solar and wind resources; speed up commercialization of plug-in hybrids, encourage low-emissions coal plants.

McCain has proposed giving $300 million to the auto company that invents a car battery that will ensure that U.S is free from oil usage. He wants to spend $2 billion every year to encourage clean coal technology.

VEHICLE FUEL ECONOMY

Obama wants to double fuel economy standards in 18 years; encourage auto makers by giving them tax incentives for making new engines and lightweight materials.

McCain does not have specific Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) targets. He backs increasing fines for auto companies that violate CAFE standards and wants to give tax benefits founded on carbon emissions of automobiles.

ELECTRICITY

Obama wishes to ensure that renewable energy is used by U.S utilities for at least 25 percent of their work by 2025.

McCain wants the government to ensure increased investment to improve and advance the national grid; he wishes to make sure that the grid has the capability to charge electricity run automobiles on a large scale and backs the use of SmartMeter technologies. This SmartMeter technology will ensure that consumers get an accurate estimate of their energy usage and promote cost effective usage of power.

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