Germany: Wind farms produce almost as much as nuclear power plants

November 7th 2007: It was a windy day and a black out day for nuclear power plants in Germany. Five of the 17 nuclear power plants in Germany had problems and had to be shut down. That day wind farms almost generated as much energy as the 12 remaining nuclear power plants did. According to ISET wind farms produced 275 million kwh and the nuclear power plants generated 340 million kwh and 840 kg of fuel assembly waste. I hope we will have more windy days — but not as windy as currently.

sonnenseite.de: Offenbar ein neuer Allzeitrekord! Da von den 17 deutschen Atomkraftwerken vier wegen ungeplanter Störungen (Biblis A, Biblis B, Brunsbüttel, Krümmel) und eines wegen geplanter Inspektion (Gundremmingen C) insgesamt fünf still stehen, haben die restlichen 12 AKW etwa 340 Millionen Kilowattstunden Atomstrom produziert und dabei rund 840 Kilo Brennelementmüll erzeugt, der erst in einer Million Jahren wieder auf eine nicht mehr tödliche Radioaktivitätsstärke abgeklungen sein wird.

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IEA: Global-warming gases set to rise by 57 percent by 2030

The International Energy Agency as published a study which explains that emissions of greenhouse gases will rise by 57 percent by 2030 compared to current levels (oh, and by the way, we are finally settled in Australia!)

AFP via yahoo!: The IPCC said that in order to limit the average increase in global temperatures to 2.4 C (4.3 F) — the most optimistic of any scenario — the concentration of greenhouse gases would have to stabilise at 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

To achieve this goal, CO2 emissions would have to peak by 2015 at the latest, then fall by between 50 and 85 percent by 2050, the panel.

But the IEA’s World Energy Outlook report saw no peak in emissions before 2020.

To achieve the 450ppm target would mean that CO2 from energy sources would have to peak by 2012, which in turn would require a massive drive in energy efficiency and a switch to non-fossil fuels, the report said.

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Australia – here we come

I am currently in transition to Australia. So there is lots to do and I won’t have much time to blog. However I will keep on posting – only at a lower frequency.
Thank you,
Reiner

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China: already CO2 champion? (21.06.2007)

China tops the US in greenhouse gas emissions, reports the New York Times.

New York Times: China has overtaken the United States as the top emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, because of surging energy use in its economic boom, a Dutch environmental agency said. Other experts have estimated that China will not surpass the United States until as late as next year. “But whether it is 2006 or 2007 is not the key issue,” said Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency. “What is key is that China is becoming the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter.”

And here is another news on China: As glaciers melt and rivers dry up, coal-fired power stations multiply, the Guardian reports.

Guardian Unlimited: In the last six years, the Chinese coal industry, with reserves put at more than 1 trillion tonnes, has doubled production to more than 1.2bn tonnes a year. The country is now building 550 coal-fired power stations – opening at the equivalent of two a week – and in the five years to 2005, electricity generation rose 150%.

But while the Chinese economy has tripled in size in a decade, it has been at the expense of carbon dioxide emissions, which were yesterday put at more than 6.2bn tonnes in 2006, compared to nearly 5.8bn tonnes for the US.

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And the World Energy Award goes to… (20.06.2007)

For the first time the Swiss transatlantic21 association awarded innovative energy concepts and products in several categories. Read on in the Environmental Leader who has snapped up the awards.

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The race to develop cheap, efficient solar panels (15.06.2007)

Dow Jones reports on the race to develop cheap, efficient solar panels (thanks, Nicole!).

Dow Jones: Hampered by its high cost, solar power accounts for less than 1% of world-wide electricity generation. It costs 35 to 45 cents to produce a kilowatt hour of electricity from solar panels, compared with about three to five cents burning coal, according to the International Energy Agency. A different approach, known as concentrating solar power, uses huge arrays of mirrors or solar dishes to track the sun and collect its heat to make electricity. Yet even that costs nine to 12 cents to generate one kilowatt hour.

The European Photovoltaic Technology Platform even predicts in a new study, that solar power will be competitive with fossil power generation in Southern Europe by 2015 and in Europe by 2020.

>> Strategic Research Agenda (PDF)

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The weight of evidence (12.06.2007)

Good q&a piece by the New York Times. The question: “How do they weigh greenhouse gas emissions?”. The answer: follow the link.

New York Times: While it is possible to weigh a quantity of gas, by comparing the weight of an evacuated container to one filled at a known pressure, climate scientists do not rely on direct measurements. Instead, they use estimates based on the molecular weight of carbon dioxide; the weights of other greenhouse gases are converted to their greenhouse impact as compared with that of a ton of carbon dioxide.

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Top CEOs release “energy blueprint” (10.06.2007)

According to Environmental Leader, the association Business Roundtable has released an energy plan. The Roundtable consists of of 160 CEOs of leading U.S. companies.

Environmental leader: The recommendations, available in the plan entitled “More Diverse, More Domestic, More Efficient: A Vision for America’s Energy Future” (PDF), were developed through a consensus-driven process led by Business Roundtable’s CEO members representing multiple sectors of the economy, and call for a mix of sound government policies, technological innovation, and proactive, voluntary efforts.

>> More Diverse, More Domestic, More Efficient (PDF)

Also, in Germany 450 large companies have issued their own environmental initiative. Their goal is to avoid the emission of 356 million tons of CO2 anually. (google translation of the article below – as always: if you need help with German sources, please contact me!):

Solar-New Aktuell: Die mit 450 Mitgliedsunternehmen größte überparteiliche Umweltinitiative der Wirtschaft in Europa, B.A.U.M. (Bundesdeutscher Arbeitskreis für Umweltbewusstes Management e.V.) hat anlässlich des G8-Gipfels eine eigene Klima-Offensive präsentiert. Das 15-Punkte-Programm zur Senkung der CO2-Emissionen wurde im Rahmen eines Empfangs für die B.A.U.M.-Umweltpreisträger 2007 von Bundespräsident Horst Köhler entgegengenommen. Es stellt eine Selbstverpflichtung der Wirtschaft zur umweltbewussten Unternehmensführung dar, die allerdings nur wirksam werde, wenn die Politik die dazu notwendigen Rahmenbedingungen setze, heißt des in der B.A.U.M.-Pressemitteilung.

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Did you know…oil quiz time! (09.06.2007)

As I´ve written before, it´s important to know more than about renewable energies and eco tech but to understand as much as possible about fossil fuels. Here´s an interesting oil quiz, written by The Oil Drum. Highly educational.

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Which US presidential candidate is the greenest? (08.06.2007)

The heat is on: There is a “who is who list of climate change position” online- The list has been compiled by the League of conservative voters. I am not sure if this will eventually decide the election but it´s good to know who´s on the “right” (which in this context means: eco-friendly) side.

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EU commission: Let´s relocate coastal cities (07.06.2007)

The EU commisssion is preparing a new report — called “green book” — on the impacts of climate change on coastal cities. The report proposes massive safety measures and considers even the relocation of cities close to the coast. The source below is in German. To get a rough idea try the Google translation attempt.

Sonnenseite: Eine Anpassung an den Klimawandel sei unvermeidbar, selbst wenn sich der Temperaturanstieg durch C02-Reduktionen bremsen lasse. Erstmals listet die EU-Kommission auf, was die Mitgliedsstaaten in den nächsten Jahrzehnten leisten müssten. „Relativ einfach und billig“ sei die bessere Isolierung von Wohnungen gegen Hitze und Veränderungen in der Landwirtschaft wie der Einsatz von Pflanzen, die Dürre aushalten.

„Hart und teuer“ wird dagegen der Schutz gegen Überflutung durch den Anstieg des Meeresspiegels. Nötig seien höhere Dämme und womöglich die Verlagerung von Häfen, Fabriken und ganzen Städten. 50 Prozent der deutschen und 85 Prozent der belgischen und niederländischen Küste lägen relativ niedrig.

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Cyclone Gonu´s possible impacts in Oman (06.06.2007)

There is a really insightful thread in The Oil Drum on predictions on the impact of the cyclone Gonu. The thread has been updated several times. The Oil Drum and Chuck Watson of KAC/UCF are forecasting, based on their damage models, that the Qalhat (Sur) LNG terminal will be out for 20-30 days and the Mina al Fahal oil terminal will be down for 10-20 days–all of this assuming they are built to US standards. Read the entire thread for more information.

The Oil Drum: Why might Cyclone Gonu matter? Well, that answer begins with the fact that the world production of petroleum plateauing around 85 mbbl/day, so any slight blip in supply or exporting could be quite noticeable on the world markets–as a sizeable portion of the world’s petroleum exports go through the Gulf of Oman.

Particularly, Oman also matters in this because it produces 743,000 bbl/day; Oman is also a net exporter, non-OPEC, whose production peaked earlier in the decade.

Of course, this storm also has the potential to affect petroleum exports from Iran and the UAE for that matter–mainly because of shipping disruptions in the Straits of Hormuz, but there could also be some real effects on infrastructure and assets depending on storm surge, track and landfall. There are also refining and other production assets in Southern Iran that could be affected depending on the strength of Gonu.

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Nanotech and environment: beauty or beast? (05.06.2007)

Nanotechnology has been applied mostly in the health industry. What could Nanotechnology do for the environment? There is an interesting background article in nanoweek.

Nanoweek News: But scientists working in the comparatively unknown field of environmental nanotechnology argue that working at the nanoscale does not have to be to the detriment of the environment. Studies have shown that nanotechnologies can be used to not only monitor and prevent pollution, but to clean up pollutants once they have already made their way into the environment.

Given policy makers’ increased focus on how emissions can be cut, and the environment protected, the lack of discussion on how nanotechnologies could help is a surprising oversight.

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Coal mining – deeper digging (05.06.2007)

I know, this is a blog about the “Cleantech revolution” that I am fully supporting. At the same time I think it´s important to also report about developments in the oil, gas and coal area. The reason: You need to be informed about both sides clean and rather dirty and you need to understand “the other side”. Many blogs are just too one sided, it´s important to give a full pöicture. As a journalist I am trained to offermore than one angle of a story.

In reality clean alternatives will replace the “dirty” energies — eventually, it will take time. Oil will be increasingly expensive to get, Uranium resources will last maybe another 50 years, only coal resources will be there the next 250 years or so. So it´s important to follow developments over there. That´s the reason I am blogging also about “clean coal” developments. For starters, have a look at this note in the oil drum about the coal mining industry.

The Oil Drum: Coal seams can be mined as deep as 4,500 ft, but the methane and other problems (including keeping the roof from falling in) have made these difficult conditions to work in, so that while there is still coal in the ground, it is becoming increasingly uneconomic, under present conditions, to extract it.

So one of the first problems that the mining engineer has in determining whether to count coal as a reserve is whether or not it is either practical or economic to mine it. This means that, in general, it must be machine mineable, since the productivity of a human miner is no longer sufficient, in many countries, to cover the costs of labor and support.

The second problem is to ensure that there is enough of it. And so before deciding to mine the company will drill cores down to the coal seam over the planned area that will be mined. These don’t, at first sight, need to be that close, since the initial intent is just to see what is there and that it goes out far enough to make it worth while to sink the mining shaft (which costs several million dollars).

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CSIRO: Global Warming three times worse than expected (04.06.2007)

In this study Michael Raupach of the Global Carbon Project at CSIRO and a team of international scientists concluded that carbon dioxide emissions “have been accelerating at a very fast rate”. (via treehugger)


Study abstract
: The emissions growth rate since 2000 was greater than for the most fossil-fuel intensive of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions scenarios developed in the late 1990s. Global emissions growth since 2000 was driven by a cessation or reversal of earlier declining trends in the energy intensity of gross domestic product (GDP) (energy/GDP) and the carbon intensity of energy (emissions/energy), coupled with continuing increases in population and per-capita GDP.

>> Global and regional drivers of accelerating CO2 emissions (PDF)

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Is water the next oil? (03.06.2007)

Will wars about water follow the “wars for oil”? There is an insightful article in an Indian publication about future water challenges.

Outlook India: The oil crisis confronting the world today is much like the looming crisis in water, with depleting supplies, unequal distribution and access, and the inevitable specter of rising costs and increasing conflict around the sharing of this vital natural resource. As with oil, water exploitation raises an inter-generational debt that will be hard to repay. The uncontrolled and rapacious exploitation of oil has led to unintended consequences, and if we continue on a similar trajectory with water, the oil crisis will seem like the trailer of some horrible disaster movie.
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In addition, the move to replace oil with biomass-based fuels will intensify water use, not so much for sustaining our life and this planet as to sustain our lifestyles.

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Africa´s Oil Dreams (02.06.2007)

It´s a no brainer: Just follow the news about civil wars in Congo, Nigeria and other countries in Africa. Interestingly enough, these countries are (potential) oil producing countries and that´s the reason they are in the news all the time. If Northern Korea had oil patches, nobody would let them build their nuclear bomb, that´s for sure. There is an eye opening article in TIME about Africa´s oily dreams; quite a long article but insightful. And then: Always follow The Economist´s Africa section to get more local information on what´s going on there. West Africa: More wars, more oil.

TIME: Indeed, says Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, West Africa is “only going to get hotter. It has the location and the resources; the technology is now there to develop them; and companies from all over the world want to be in on the action.” Rising demand from India and China and worries over instability in the Middle East have fueled higher oil prices, and those in turn have precipitated a new scramble for energy — oil rigs worldwide now have to be rented a year in advance. There are several reasons why the Gulf of Guinea is a key focus of this rush. African oil is high quality, with a low sulfur content that requires little refining to get it to the pump.

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Will Global Warming bring more Rain? (02.06.2007)

What will a climate change bring: rain or humidity? Scientists at Remote Sensing Systems in California looked at looked at satellite records from between 1986 and 2005 to see if the climate models’ predictions of a correlation between increased temperatures and reduced rainfall could actually happen in reality. Their assumption: hotter air can retain more humity.

NewScientist: “The satellite data for the last 20 years shows an increase in rainfall that is three times what the models predicted,” says Wentz. “This represents one of the first tests of the models used for the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The results show a significant discrepancy between model and observations.”

Wentz and his colleagues admit that the reasons for the discrepancy are not clear. One possible explanation is that two decades is too short a time to detect a real trend, a criticism that has already been levelled at the study by several climatologists.

The increase in precipitation between 1986 and 2005 could have been greater than it will be when averaged over longer time scales.

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Study: 10 more years CO2 emissions as usual makes avoiding climate change impossible (01.06.2007)

The NASA study explains why we need to act now and can´t wait more years to avoid climate change. More background info at Green Car Congress.

NASA / GISS: From a combination of climate models, satellite data, and paleoclimate records the scientists conclude that the West Antarctic ice sheet, Arctic ice cover, and regions providing fresh water sources and species habitat are under threat from continued global warming. The research appears in the current issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

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Snapshot on China´s car market (31.05.2007)

China has a serious problem reducing CO2. Chinese are obviously catching up to western lifestyle — shall we really not allow them to have big fridges, air conditioner and cars? I think that´s impossible. So here´s a current snapshot of China´s automobile situation. With a population of 1.1 million there are many more cars to be sold — hopefully soon the “China car” — as the fuell cell industry hopes that China will jump to fuell cell based cars and thus make the production of fuel cells even over here financially viable right away.

Green Car Congress: In 2006, China’s vehicle output and sales volume reached 7.28 million and 7.215 million units, respectively, up by 27.3% and 25.1% year-on-year. This made China the world’s third country to pass the 7-million unit threshold, the others being the US and Japan.

Passenger vehicle sales reached 5.176 million units, up by 30% year-on-year. Total sales included 3.829 million standard passenger vehicles (cars), up by 36.9% year-on-year; 238,000 SUVs, up by 21.2% year-on-year; and 191,000 MPVs were sold, up by 22.6% year-on-year.

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