Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Climate Code Red

Climate Code Red was the most important single document published on climate change in 2008. Because climate change is now understood to be of humanity threatening seriousness and a crisis that needs emergency action immediately. Climate Code Red has to be considered as the most important document on any subject published this year.

But Climate Code Red received less than minimal coverage from all of the TV and newspaper conglomerates that make up the mainstream media and the vast majority of the public - except the very few who cover climate change closely - have never even heard of it.

2008 was a watershed year: the global economic meltdown and the end of the sorry Bush years with the election of the hopefully progressive Barrack Obama. But the serious and immediate danger of runaway climate change is still not appreciated, the science and policy literature and the possible planning for massive systemic reconfiguration needed to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still not even on the menu of mainstream understanding and debate.

Climate Code Red was a paper on the emerging science investigating the unprecedented and unpredicted rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap and the policy consequences necessary. It was written by Aussies David Spratt and Philip Sutton as input to Australia's Garnaut Inquiry on climate change. First put up on the net in February and now a book, it is well researched, well written, thought provoking on as important a subject as exists, and yet it was almost completely ignored by the mainstream media.

Sutton and Spratt's first chapter description of the melting Arctic emerging science - especially the work of Dr. James Hansen and his NASA team - remains the single best public presentation of this climate change tipping point danger. Their closing chapters on the need for governments everywhere to initiate emergency-legislated mobilization for immediate action to reduce emissions - because political and economic business as usual is too slow and path dependent to allow for necessary change - has been cited as Churchillian by those who recognize the sinister danger.

But the very idea of government with emergency powers leading a systemic reconfiguration of our socio-economy is heresy and that is why the mainstream media refused to even mention Climate Code Red. You will find nothing on climate change as a possible emergency requiring such action in the mainstream media. Nor will you see opinion pieces on editorial pages by climate scientists or activists even postulating this possible danger and possible mitigation strategies.

Media owners have earned their right to an editorial voice, but rights carry responsibilities and no media owner should use this voice to misinform and all are accountable to the community. To suppress or withhold knowledge about a danger to the community is wrong. To not lead in informing about the possibility that climate change is an emergency is irresponsible. To not cover at all the emerging science and policy literature trying to educate about this humanity threatening danger could be part of a crime that dwarfs the Holocaust.

2009 has to be the year we turn the corner on climate change. It must be the year where we escape business as usual and the politics of failure to initiate emergency action to not only halt the rise of GHG emissions but agree to a plan for systemic reconfiguration of our socio-economies globally in order to get to a post carbon economy quickly in order to return to below the precautionary 350 ppm ceiling before the Arctic ice cap is irretrievably gone. Relocalization instead of globalization; powering down instead of ever increasing use of energy; the end of the car-sprawl, consumer economy in favor of a way of quality, meaningful living with a future.

Climate Code Red is available in book form and as a pdf at http://www.civicus.org/new/media/climatecodered_1.pdf

Monday, December 29, 2008

United States passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation

The national trade association of America's wind industry says in 2008 the industry had another record growth year - the third record year in a row and generated more than $18 billion in revenues.

This year, the United States passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation, said the American Wind Energy Association in its year-end report.

AWEA says that this summer, the U.S. wind industry reached the 20,000-megawatt installed capacity milestone, doubling installed wind power generating capacity since 2006.

By the end of September, the U.S. had over 21,000 megawatts of wind capacity up and running. Germany had 22,300 megawatts, but U.S. windpower developers sprinted to the end of the year while German wind development slowed.

"With additional projects coming on line every week since, the wind industry is on its way to charting another record-shattering year of growth," AWEA said in its repAWEA calculates the 60 billion kilowatt hours of electricity generated by wind power next year will displace 91 million barrels of oil, or 560 billion cubic feet of natural gas - about nine percent of the natural gas used for electricity generation in the United States.

In October, as part of the $700 billion financial bailout law, the production and investment tax credits that benefit the wind industry and other renewable energy industries were approved by Congress and signed into law. The tax credit package will extend the renewable energy production tax credit for one year and the investment tax credit for eight years.

In May, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that wind power could provide 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030, supporting 500,000 jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as taking 140 million vehicles off the road, and saving four trillion gallons of water.

"Wind energy installations are well ahead of the curve for contributing 20 percent of the U.S. electric power supply by 2030 as envisioned by the U.S. Department of Energy," said outgoing AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher, who has held the post for the past 19 years.

That 21,000 megawatts of capacity are expected to generate over 60 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2009, enough to serve over 5.5 million American homes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Asia-Pacific Green Trust launched by Conergy and GE

EPURON Pte. Ltd. Singapore, a regional subsidiary of the Conergy Group in Asia-Pacific, and GE unit GE Energy Financial Services have launched Asia-Pacific's first renewable energy private trust to spur their growth and investments in wind, solar, small hydroelectric, biogas and biomass power generation throughout the region. The Renewable Energy Trust Asia (“RETA”) is an investment vehicle focused on the US$7 billion annual renewable energy markets of India, the ASEAN countries and South Korea.

It plans to build a portfolio of some 200 megawatts through potential investments totalling US$250 million (S$380 million) within the next five years.

With an 80 percent stake, GE Energy Financial Services will serve as RETA’s anchor investor. In addition to maintaining its core expertise in greenfield development, EPURON will hold a 20 percent stake in RETA and act as its Trustee-Manager. EPURON will be responsible for sourcing third party projects as well as performing its own project development, debt financing and hardware acquisition of renewable energy projects. After projects have been completed, EPURON will manage them. RETA will acquire and operate projects from both EPURON and third parties and expects to make its first investment within a year.

Both parties will share the Trust expenses and decide on each proposed investment when presented. Financial details were not disclosed.

“This sophisticated investment vehicle offers great opportunities to develop in future even more commercial-scale renewable power projects in Asia-Pacific. These projects secure predictable cash flow and long-term capital growth and are therefore a particularly interesting asset class for investors, despite the volatile financial markets. Our close partnership with GE ensures that our project developers in Asia-Pacific know right from the start what criteria projects must meet to fit the trust. Thus we can use our resources in a much more specific and efficient way,” said Joachim Mueller, Managing Director EPURON.

Conergy CEO Dieter Ammer added: “We are building long-term relationships between highly specialised partners with a strong track record in their respective business areas. This is one of the answers to the challenges that we have to manage in times of financial turbulence. With the Renewable Energy Trust Asia, we will combine EPURON’s renewable energy project development and financial expertise with GE Energy Financial Services’ world-class origination and underwriting capabilities, as well as its access to technology.”

GE Energy Financial Services, which has already invested more than US$4 billion in renewable energy, sees the trust with EPURON as a new platform for its growth.

“This innovative trust is an efficient way for us to partner with an experienced developer and aggregate a diversified portfolio of smaller renewable energy investments in Asia,” said James Berner, the Singapore-based head of Asia at GE Energy Financial Services. “The renewable energy trust is also a way for us to contribute to GE’s ecomagination program, its initiative of helping its customers meet their environmental challenges while expanding its own portfolio of cleaner energy products.”

Once a sufficient investment volume has been achieved, RETA may be listed on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited (“SGX-ST”) stock exchange, becoming the first pure-play renewable energy business trust to be listed in Asia-Pacific.

This first “green” trust in Asia-Pacific and the collaboration with GE serve as a potential model for realising commercial-scale renewable energy projects with the Conergy Group in other regions.

(Ref: Solarbuzz.com)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Conergy to develop 2 MW Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant for Saudi Arabia

Conergy Asia-Pacific has been awarded a contract for a 2-megawatt (MW) solar power plant for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Conergy Asia-Pacific was awarded the project under a consortium agreement with Saudi-based National Solar Systems.

Under the agreement, Conergy will manage the design and components supply, while installation and operational management are implemented by National Solar Systems. The project consists of two rooftop solar plants with an output of 1 MW each, to be installed on the North and South Laboratories of the University.

The photovoltaic plant, valued at €11.3 million [US $15.33 million], is also the first large-scale solar project of its kind in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It will occupy 11,577 square meters of roof space and produce 3,332 megawatt-hours of clean energy annually.

“With its arid climate and vast desert landmass, Saudi Arabia is geographically optimal for harnessing solar power,” said Florent Abadie, director of development and technology for the Asia-Pacific region at Conergy. “We commend the Saudi authority’s remarkable support for cleantech development and inspiring commitment to renewable energy, which we are witnessing in the Kingdom’s leading policymakers and decision-makers”

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New International Standard for Energy Management

Energy and sustainability experts at the Georgia Institute of Technology have taken a leadership role in the U.S. contribution to a 36-nation effort aimed at developing an international standard that would bring consistency to energy management systems worldwide.

The effort has implications for the public and private sectors alike, providing a process for managing energy use and implementing sustainable practices that would help hold down costs and minimize environmental impacts. This first-ever international energy management system standard — to be known as ISO 50001 — would also level the playing field for companies competing in the global marketplace. It is estimated that the standard could ultimately affect as much as 60 percent of the energy used in the world.

"Effective implementation of an energy management system standard often yields resource and cost savings, as well as risk avoidance," explained Bill Meffert, manager of energy and sustainability services at Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute. "Reduction in the use of non-renewable fuels provides environmental benefits to the nation, improves security and leads to use of more sustainable sources of energy. Process and behavioral changes from targeted energy management projects frequently result in reduced raw materials usage, less waste generation and disposal and lower air emissions."

Beyond the direct benefits, adoption of ISO 50001 could also lead to long-term cultural changes that benefit organizations in other ways. "An energy management system standard establishes a culture of continual improvement to sustain the gains made, placing the organization in a position to realize even greater energy efficiencies and further savings," Meffert added.

The U.S. Department of Energy is supporting the effort through a combination of active participation in the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and through financial support for the administration of the U.S. TAG. The U.S. TAG is responsible for developing the U.S. consensus position on the proposed standard.

Rising energy prices have made managing energy a higher priority for industrial, commercial and governmental organizations worldwide. Beyond helping manage costs and controlling environmental impacts, large energy users may be driven to adopt the voluntary standards as evidence of their good corporate citizenship.

"Many countries around the world will use the standard as the basis for national programs that encourage large energy users to demonstrate their environmental stewardship," Meffert said. "It is expected that national incentives — taxes, credits and similar vehicles — will be used to promote its use and adoption."

Companies that adopt the new standard may also gain a public relations and marketing advantage.

"Companies that conform to an international energy management system standard will be publicly stating that they have adopted best practices for managing their energy supply and use, which helps make them competitive," Meffert added. "They are also showing that they are managing their natural resources wisely. Many companies will also want to ensure that their suppliers and partners are environmentally responsible.

In general, Meffert noted, standards are useful to helping organizations establish the order and consistency to manage key business components, whether they address quality, environmental protection or energy issues.

"By applying this standard, the organization uses the ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act' steps of the continual improvement framework to manage energy resources, incorporating energy management into everyday business operations and strategies," he said. "This framework encompasses both the management and the technical elements of energy management. The effective management of energy requires both to be present and integrated."

While industry has driven development of the new standard, it could be used by any energy-consuming organization. The standard will define a management system for all energy sources - including electricity, liquid and solid fuels, renewable sources, steam, compressed air and chilled water.

The new ISO 50001 is being developed through a consensus process of the International Standards Organization (ISO) that involves representatives from national standards organizations in more than 36 countries who develop proposals, discuss issues, build consensus - and adopt the final standard.

The United States and Brazil are leading the overall effort under ISO's framework. In addition to member nation representatives, two liaison members — the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the World Energy Council — are also contributing to the effort.

The ISO/PC 242 committee that was established to develop the standard held its first meeting in Washington in early September and will hold additional meetings on a regular basis. The goal is to have ISO 50001 ready for publication by the end of 2010, said Deann Desai, project manager with the Enterprise Innovation Institute who serves as secretary to the U.S. TAG.

"Excellent progress was made during the first meeting, and a working draft has already been developed," she noted. "Among the issues discussed was the need to ensure compatibility between the new ISO 50001 and existing ISO management standards."

Georgia Tech was heavily involved in developing the existing American National Standards Institute (ANSI) MSE 2000:2008 standard for energy management systems. That standard has seen limited adoption in the United States, but Meffert said globalization of commerce now requires an international standard that will be widely adopted.

"Many businesses today are multinationals that have facilities and/or trading partners overseas," he explained. "When conducting business on a multinational basis, it is important that the competitive playing field be as even as possible — which is what standardization attempts to accomplish."

Georgia Tech worked closely with the Department of Energy in activities leading up to the formal launch of the ISO 50001 development effort.Members of Georgia Tech's energy and sustainability staff helped develop a comparison document that was used to facilitate initial international meetings, and they participated with ANSI in the process of producing an application to ISO explaining the need for the new standard.

Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute is administering the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for ANSI. The group is composed of many energy management experts and helps shape the U.S. position for the international standard.

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