Monday, November 30, 2009

India and China plan for a major offensive against rich nations at Copenhagen


In an unprecedented move, India on Saturday joined China and two other developing countries to prepare for a major offensive on rich nations at the Copenhage conference on Climate Change next month.

The four countries, which include Brazil and South Africa, agreed to a strategy that involves jointly walking out of the conference if the developed nations try to force their own terms on the developing world, Jairam Ramesh, the Indian minister for environment and forests (independent charge), said.

“We will not exit in isolation. We will co-ordinate our exit if any of our non-negotiable terms is violated. Our entry and exit will be collective,” Ramesh told reporters in Beijing.

The move comes after reports suggested that rich nations led by Denmark are trying to set the agenda of the conference by presenting a draft containing a set of specific proposals.

The BASIC countries-Brazil, South Africa, India and China- decided to throw the gauntlet at rich nations by coming up with a counter-draft that will be presented at the conference. They agreed to let China, which initiated the exercise, to present the draft of the developing nations at Copenhagen.

“This BASIC draft fully meets India’s goals and aspirations. We hope it is made the basis of discussions at the conference,” Ramesh said.

The draft, which was originally prepared by China, was finalized after some changes during a 7-hour long meeting of BASIC countries-Brazil, South Africa, India and China besides Sudan as the chair of G-77.

This joint front forged on Saturday is a major political initiative -- the first major India-China accord on international affairs--that is likely to impact not just the dimension of the talks on climate change but international diplomacy as a whole. The move comes after recent discussions on climate change held with Indian and Chinese leaders by US president Barack Obama, who appears to have made little impact on them.

Denmark is expected to unveil its draft to a group of select countries that includes the United States, several European nations, India and China on December 1. It will be later presented at the conference. Around the same time, the BASIC nations plan to circulate their own counter-draft in order to influence the course of negotiations.

The four nations issued a joint press release, which made it clear the developed nations should be ready to contribute funds and share green technology if they expected the developing and poor nations to take major actions on environmental protection.

The four countries and the chair of G-77 said they were keen to make a “contribution towards a consensus in Copenhagen”.

The release said: “We are in agreement on major issues including those relating to the establishment of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, as well as shared vision for long term cooperative action on climate change, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to the impact of climate change, and the provision of finance and technology to support and enable these actions, taking into account the special needs of the least developed countries, the small island developing states and African countries.”

The United States, which refused to endorse the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, might find it difficult to handle the new onslaught mounted by four developing nations including India and China. They are demanding an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.
Ref: Times of India

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Scientists see the possibilitty of 6 degree rise at the end of the century


The world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6C by the end of the century, leading scientists said yesterday. Such a rise – which would be much higher nearer the poles – would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for the Earth, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable and threatening the basis of human civilisation.

We are headed for it, the scientists said, because the carbon dioxide emissions from industry, transport and deforestation which are responsible for warming the atmosphere have increased dramatically since 2002, in a way which no one anticipated, and are now running at treble the annual rate of the 1990s.

This means that the most extreme scenario envisaged in the last report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2007, is now the one for which society is set, according to the 31 researchers from seven countries involved in the Global Carbon Project.

Although the 6C rise and its potential disastrous effects have been speculated upon before, this is the first time that scientists have said that society is now on a path to meet it.

Their chilling and remarkable prediction throws into sharp relief the importance of next month's UN climate conference in Copenhagen, where the world community will come together to try to construct a new agreement to bring the warming under control.

For the past month there has been a lowering of expectations about the conference, not least because the US may not be ready to commit itself to cuts in its emissions. But yesterday President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China issued a joint communiqué after a meeting in Beijing, which reignited hopes that a serious deal might be possible after all.

It cannot come too soon, to judge by the results of the Global Carbon Project study, led by Professor Corinne Le Quéré, of the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey, which found that there has been a 29 per cent increase in global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel between 2000 and 2008, the last year for which figures are available.

On average, the researchers found, there was an annual increase in emissions of just over 3 per cent during the period, compared with an annual increase of 1 per cent between 1990 and 2000. Almost all of the increase this decade occurred after 2000 and resulted from the boom in the Chinese economy. The researchers predict a small decrease this year due to the recession, but further increases from 2010.

In total, CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have increased by 41 per cent between 1990 and 2008, yet global emissions in 1990 are the reference level set by the Kyoto Protocol, which countries are trying to fall below in terms of their own emissions.

The 6C rise now being anticipated is in stark contrast to the C rise at which all international climate policy, including that of Britain and the EU, hopes to stabilise the warming – two degrees being seen as the threshold of climate change which is dangerous for society and the natural world.

The study by Professor Le Quéré and her team, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, envisages a far higher figure. "We're at the top end of the IPCC scenario," she said.

Professor Le Quéré said that Copenhagen was the last chance of coming to a global agreement that would curb carbon-dioxide emissions on a time-course that would hopefully stabilise temperature rises to within the danger threshold. "The Copenhagen conference next month is in my opinion the last chance to stabilise climate at C above pre-industrial levels in a smooth and organised way," she said.

"If the agreement is too weak, or the commitments not respected, it is not 2.5C or 3C we will get: it's 5C or 6C – that is the path we're on. The timescales here are extremely tight for what is needed to stabilise the climate at C," she said.

Meanwhile, the scientists have for the first time detected a failure of the Earth's natural ability to absorb man-made carbon dioxide released into the air.

They found significant evidence that more man-made CO2 is staying in the atmosphere to exacerbate the greenhouse effect because the natural "carbon sinks" that have absorbed it over previous decades on land and sea are beginning to fail, possibly as a result of rising global temperatures.

The amount of CO2 that has remained in the atmosphere as a result has increased from about 40 per cent in 1990 to 45 per cent in 2008. This suggests that the sinks are beginning to fail, they said.

Professor Le Quéré emphasised that there are still many uncertainties over carbon sinks, such as the ability of the oceans to absorb dissolved CO2, but all the evidence suggests that there is now a cycle of "positive feedbacks", whereby rising carbon dioxide emissions are leading to rising temperatures and a corresponding rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

"Our understanding at the moment in the computer models we have used – and they are state of the art – suggests that carbon-cycle climate feedback has already kicked in," she said.

"These models, if you project them on into the century, show quite large feedbacks, with climate amplifying global warming by between 5 per cent and 30 per cent. There are still large uncertainties, but this is carbon-cycle climate feedback that has already started," she said.

The study also found that, for the first time since the 1960s, the burning of coal has overtaken the burning of oil as the major source of carbon-dioxide emissions produced by fossil fuels.

Much of this coal was burned by China in producing goods sold to the West – the scientists estimate that 45 per cent of Chinese emissions resulted from making products traded overseas.

It is clear that China, having overtaken the US as the world's biggest carbon emitter, must be central to any new climate deal, and so the communiqué from the Chinese and US leaders issued yesterday was widely seized on as a sign that progress may be possible in the Danish capital next month.

Presidents Hu and Obama specifically said an accord should include emission-reduction targets for rich nations, and a declaration of action plans to ease greenhouse-gas emissions in developing countries – key elements in any deal.

6C rise: The consequences

If two degrees is generally accepted as the threshold of dangerous climate change, it is clear that a rise of six degrees in global average temperatures must be very dangerous indeed, writes Michael McCarthy. Just how dangerous was signalled in 2007 by the science writer Mark Lynas, who combed all the available scientific research to construct a picture of a world with temperatures three times higher than the danger limit.

His verdict was that a rise in temperatures of this magnitude "would catapult the planet into an extreme greenhouse state not seen for nearly 100 million years, when dinosaurs grazed on polar rainforests and deserts reached into the heart of Europe".

He said: "It would cause a mass extinction of almost all life and probably reduce humanity to a few struggling groups of embattled survivors clinging to life near the poles."

Very few species could adapt in time to the abruptness of the transition, he suggested. "With the tropics too hot to grow crops, and the sub-tropics too dry, billions of people would find themselves in areas of the planet which are essentially uninhabitable. This would probably even include southern Europe, as the Sahara desert crosses the Mediterranean.

"As the ice-caps melt, hundreds of millions will also be forced to move inland due to rapidly-rising seas. As world food supplies crash, the higher mid-latitude and sub-polar regions would become fiercely-contested refuges.

"The British Isles, indeed, might become one of the most desirable pieces of real estate on the planet. But, with a couple of billion people knocking on our door, things might quickly turn rather ugly."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Renewable must be key ingredient in future energy supply, according to IEA


Investment in renewable energy technologies could decline by 20% this year, but renewables are expected to make large contributions in the latest forecast from the International Energy Agency.

“The past 12 months have seen enormous upheavals in energy markets around the world, yet the challenges of transforming the global energy system remain urgent and daunting,” the IEA notes in its World Energy Outlook 2009. Demand for energy has already plunged with the economic contraction, and countries have responded with fiscal and monetary stimuli on an unprecedented scale which, in many cases, have included measures to promote clean energy in an effort to avoid the “even bigger, and just as real, longterm threat of disastrous climate change.”

Energy is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and the recession has made the task of “transforming the energy sector easier by giving us an unprecedented, yet relatively narrow, window of opportunity to take action to concentrate investment on low-carbon technology,” it says. The annual outlook examines low-carbon options through a reference scenario (no changes to existing policies and measures) and a 450 scenario (collective policy action to limit the long-term concentration of GHG in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million of CO2-equivalent).

Global energy use will fall in 2009 for the first time since 1981 but current policies will allow it to increase once the economy recovers by 1.5% per year until 2030, or 40% over the period, the report forecasts. Fossil fuels would remain the dominant sources of primary energy around the world, accounting for three-quarters of overall increase in energy use, with coal receiving the largest increase in demand, followed by gas and oil.

The use of non-hydro emerging renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, wave, bio-energy) sees the fastest rate of increase in the reference scenario, with most of the increase in power generation. The share of non-hydro renewables in total power output rises from 2.5% in 2007 to 8.6% in 2030, with wind power grabbing the largest absolute increase.

Falling energy investment has had and will continue to have far-reaching consequences and, in late 2008 and early 2009, investment in renewables fell proportionately more than in other types of generating capacity. In 2009, as a whole, investment could drop by close to one-fifth and, without the stimulus provided by government fiscal packages, investment in renewable energies would have fallen by 30%.

Under the 450 scenario, energy efficiency is the largest contributor to abatement of GHG emissions by 2030, accounting for half of total savings compared with the reference scenario. Decarbonisation of the power sector also plays a central role in reducing emissions, with a big shift in the mix of fuels and technologies such as a 50% reduction in coal-based generation while renewables and nuclear make much bigger contributions.

“The upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen will provide important pointers to the kind of energy future that awaits us,” concludes the WEO. “The IEA has already called on all countries to take action on a large scale - a Clean Energy New Deal - to exploit the opportunity the financial and economic crisis presents to effect the permanent shift in investment to low-carbon technologies that will be required to curb the growth of energy-related GHG emissions.”

“Saving the planet cannot wait,” it states. Every year, the costs of transforming the energy sector add US$500 billion to the global incremental investment cost of US$10.5 trillion for the period 2010 to 2030, and the IEA says “the time has come to make the hard choices needed to turn promises into action.”

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sharp achieves world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency


Sharp Corporation has announced that its triple-junction compound solar cell has broken the efficiency record for non-concentrator solar cells at the research level. The conversion efficiency record of 35.8% was confirmed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST, one of the organisations around the world that officially certifies energy conversion efficiency measurements in solar cells) in September 2009.

Sharp was able to boost efficiency of the 1 square centimetre solar cell by improving the crystallinity (the regularity of the atomic arrangement) in each of the three photo-absorption layers.

Conventionally, Ge (germanium) is used as the bottom layer due to its ease of manufacturing. However, in terms of performance, although Ge generates a large amount of current, the majority of the current is wasted, without being used effectively for electrical energy. The key to solving this problem was to form the bottom layer from InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide), a material with high light utilization efficiency. However, the process to make high-quality InGaAs with high crystallinity was difficult.

Nevertheless, Sharp succeeded in forming an InGaAs layer with high crystallinity by using its proprietary technology for forming layers. As a result, the amount of wasted current has been minimized, and the conversion efficiency, which had been 31.5% in Sharp’s previous cells, has been successfully increased to 35.8%.


















Sharp achieved this breakthrough as part of a research and development initiative promoted by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) on the theme of “R&D on Innovative Solar Cells”.

In light of these results, Sharp plans to “continue its efforts towaBased on these results, Sharp will continue its efforts toward even greater improvements in solar cell conversion efficiency.

History of Sharp Compound Solar Cell Development

1967 Development begins of solar cells for space applications using single-crystal silicon.

1976 Launch of operational Japanese satellite, "Ume," equipped with Sharp solar cells for space applications (single-crystal silicon solar cell).


2000 Research and development begin on triple-junction compound solar cell to further improve efficiency, reduce weight, and increase durability of solar cells for space applications.

2001 Participation in research and development on NEDO's photovoltaic power generation themes.


2002 Triple-junction compound solar cell gains certification from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).


2003 Conversion efficiency of 31.5% is achieved (at the research level) for triple-junction compound solar cell.


2004 Launch of small scientific satellite, "Reimei," equipped with Sharp triple-junction compound solar cells.


2007 Conversion efficiency of 40.0% achieved (at the research level) for a triple-junction compound solar cell (concentrator type, at 1,100 times concentrated sunlight).


2009 Launch of Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT), "Ibuki", equipped with Sharp triple-junction compound solar cells.


2009 Conversion efficiency of 35.8% is achieved (at the research level) for a triplejunction compound solar cell based on research and development efforts that are part of NEDO's "R&D on Innovative Solar Cells" program.

(1) As of October 22, 2009, for non-concentrator solar cells at the research level (based on Sharp survey).


(2) Conversion efficiency confirmed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST; one of the organizations around the world that officially certifies energy conversion efficiency measurements in solar cells) in September 2009. (Cell surface: approx. 1 cm2)


(3) The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) is Japan's public management organization for promoting research and development as well as for disseminating industrial, energy, and environmental technologies.

About Sharp

Sharp Corporation (TSE: 6753) is a worldwide developer of innovative products and core technologies that play a key role in shaping the future of electronics. As a leader in liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and digital technologies, Sharp offers one of the broadest and most advanced lines of consumer electronics, information products and electronic components, while also creating new network businesses. For more information, please visit www.sharp.co.jp .










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