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Ever volatile fuel prices, security of supply, renewable energy cost reductions and environmental-climate concerns are dramatically accelerating the demand for greener alternatives.

It has become a global imperative that we break our addiction to fossil fuels. Providing for the ever increasing energy and transportation needs of the planet is going to take a wide range of alternative energy sources, cleaner fuels, the smart grid and advanced storage solutions.

These technologies are finally establishing themselves in the energy mix and becoming mainstream .....an emerging multi trillion dollar market rapidly becoming one of the most significant industrial sectors this century. The future is bright for renewable energy sources and a greener sustainable world.

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What to look for at Copenhagen

12 12 09 - 22:20 By Peter Spotts



Copenhagen - Delegates left the Bali climate change talks in December 2007 with high hopes that a grand bargain on reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be secured by now.

But today, as the latest round of climate change talks begin with representatives from more than 190 countries gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, expectations are far more modest. The biggest decision - a binding international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions - is likely to be pushed off until next December, when another round of climate talks are scheduled for Mexico City. Nevertheless, two weeks in Copenhagen will yield insights into global efforts to control industrial emissions and the warming of the planet.

Below are some key questions:

What might success in Copenhagen look like?

Low expectations at the start of the conference may not be a bad thing.

"I think there was a sense all along that we were not going to be able to reach an international binding legal agreement in Copenhagen," says Eileen Claussen, who heads the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Arlington, Va. But only in the last week did leaders acknowledge this. The results may disappoint some, she said, but added that it's a more realistic track.

Three areas will be the keys to "success" in Copenhagen.

Emissions reductions. What target will wealthy countries and major developing countries like China, India and Brazil set for reducing emissions between now and 2050? An interim target for 2020 will also be set.

Immediate action. What actions will countries take immediately after the meeting to reduce emissions, move new green technologies into the marketplace, and help developing countries adopt cleaner power sources?

Money. How much cash will rich country's pony to help poorer ones pay for green technologies they will need to spur economic growth in a climate-friendly way?

If the meeting yields progress on those three objectives "it will be a resounding success," says Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Observers say the meeting will have failed if it ends without a clear mandate to wrap up binding legal language on reducing emissions no later than December 2010. Otherwise, the process is likely to unravel into prolonged haggling over a new pact's rules of the road, much as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol did.

Money also looms large. Many in the developing world say their richer counterparts need to pay to help them adjust to a changing climate and to reducing their own emissions. A clear, quick-start financing package for these poorer nations might offset developing country anger over what they view as limited emissions reductions promises by major industrial nations.

Industrial countries want a transparent way to verify that developing countries are following through on promises, but several developing countries say such oversight would be a threat to national sovereignty.

What are countries offering on greenhouse-gas reductions?

On Sunday, South Africa said it would slow the growth of its emissions to 34 percent below the current annual growth rate by 2020 and to 42 percent by 2025, as long as international aid is forthcoming.

India has offered to improve its energy efficiency to 20 or 25 percent better than 2005 levels, provided it gets international money.

China has offered up a 40 to 45 percent efficiency improvement on 2005.

Brazil has put up actual emissions reductions of 36 to 39 percent below 1994 levels by 2020, if it gets financial help.

Mexico has promised actions through 2012 that put it on track to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2050, but anything after 2012 is contingent on international aid.

What is the combined effect of those emissions offers?

Political leaders have agreed to try to hold warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre industrial levels. If that is to be met, scientists say that developed countries will need to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020 and by 80-95 percent by 2050. Developed countries must substantially reduce the growth rate in their emissions.

But current promises on emissions reductions fall well short of meeting those targets. Rich-countries have currently offered an 8 to 14 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020, according to climateactiontracker.org.

Russia's numbers are interesting: Emissions have been so low following the collapse of the old Soviet Union that the country's emissions could rise from now and still meet the country's 2020 target, some analysts say.

For developing countries, China and India are the heavy hitters. China's target is widely seen as "business as usual," although that interpretation varies. India's numbers also are seen as falling into a business-as-usual category.

In fact, India's number is so "conservative" that India could offer up more-ambitious goals and still fall within business as usual, explains David Pumphrey, an international energy analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

What are the likely sticking points?

As many in the developing world – the countries whose populations are likely to suffer from the effects of climate change the most - see it, rich country targets are not ambitious enough.

And much needs to be done on the financial front for both short-term aid and long term aid. The aid would be used for adaptation efforts, the purchase of green technologies, and efforts to help developing countries build in-house technical expertise. In the short term, countries are talking about $10 billion a year over the next three years. Beyond that, the number rises to $100 billion a year through 2020. But if developed countries are going to put up that much money, they want verification that developing countries are actually reducing the growth of emissions.

How much impact might 'Climategate' have?

This remains to be seen. In the US, Republican members of Congress are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to forestall any effort to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act until a full, transparent investigation has taken place on allegations that fudged data played a role in establishing the link between industrial CO2 emissions and global warming. Internationally, the Saudi Arabian's are using the hacked letters from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit to argue that there's no need for any new climate treaty. The BBC quoted the country's chief negotiator as saying it will have a huge impact on the talks.

The UN negotiating process requires unanimous consent to reach decisions. So the Saudis alone could hold things up. But the Saudis often threaten to block movement as a negotiating position. The oil rich Kingdom's long-time pitch is this: Any new agreement should contain payments to Saudi Arabia to make up for oil revenues it would lose as the world weans itself from oil. Used tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Raging wildfires: Climate changes to blame for record season?

Saturday 16 July 2011 at 06:07 am Raging wildfires: Climate changes to blame for record season?


By Pete Spotts


The images are stark: soot-grimed firefighters steering bulldozers or wielding shovels to clear underbrush; curtains of orange flame tracing the contours of summits; aircraft dumping chemicals to slow a fire's progress.

Between Jan. 1 and early July of 2011, slightly more than 38,000 wildfires charred the landscape in the United States at a record pace. So far this year, wildfires have consumed just under 4.9 million acres of forest and grassland, a cumulative expanse the size of New Jersey.

That's 1 million more acres than fires consumed during the same period in 2006, which saw a record 9.9 million acres burned for the entire year.

Beyond the numbers, this year's fires may provide the first large-scale tests of the effectiveness of projects undertaken over the past decade to help forests survive wildfires, several specialists say.

The West's forests are adapted to deal with certain types of wildfires, researchers note. But since the mid-1980s, they add, some of these forests have experienced an increasing number of fires to which they are not well adapted.

Many researchers trace this shift in part to climate change. more

Hybrid Moves Into Housing

Sunday 22 May 2011 at 01:14 am Hybrid Moves Into Housing


By Brenda Krueger Huffman

(Chicago) – Recycling - Check. Conserving energy - Check. Hybrid car - Next car, check. Hybrid home system - What? Yes, it’s here. Hybrid has seamlessly, successfully moved into housing.

Safety Power, Inc. was initially started to provide homes with back up power. The company quickly grew to include renewable energy options and advising commercial and industrial clients with electrical conservation. Recently the company has come full circle and began marketing a new more capable type of renewable energy system for homes.

The award winning firm was voted one of the “Top 5 Sustainable Product Companies in Illinois” and continues to grow its residential client base in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Safety Power also serves larger firms on the national level.

Robert Brazzale, President of Safety Power, a master electrician turned entrepreneur, began Safety Power in 2007. An avid member of Local First Chicago, Rob believes in assisting sustaining local economies with green collar jobs and belongs to many green orientated groups in Chicago and around the country. more

Are electric car makers missing the trick?

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 11:12 am Are electric car makers missing the trick?


by Martin Ott

I believe that electric car makers may be driving us all down the road that may result in the same sort of technology failures that we have seen in the past.
I'm not referring to the Sinclair scooter here but cast your mind back to the débâcle of Betamax v VHS home recording systems. The eventual winner was the technically inferior VHS but the battle was not resolved until innumerable consumers had paid out for worthless Betamax systems. Back in the 70's a similar conflict occurred over audio systems when America fell in love with the 8 track tape system that moved magnetic tape in a loop over the player head at a high speed resulting in a better sound. The world market finally dictated that the audio cassette was the way to go but not until millions of consumers had been lumbered with home and in-car systems that went down the technological cul de sac. more

Wind Turbine Manufacturer Acknowledges SGS´s Contribution towards Successful Project Completion

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 10:57 am by Suresh Varma

The Theni Wind Farm project was developed by CLP India Pvt. Ltd., one of the major wind farm project developers in India. Located in the south western part of Tamilnadu, a southern state of the country, the facility consists of 60 Vestas V82 geared wind turbines. As recognition of its contribution towards the successful execution of this wind power project SGS received Vestas award.

Each turbine at the wind farm has a capacity of 1.65 MW IEC Class IIB machine with a blade diameter of 82 m. After a six-month long completion period, the Theni Wind Farm was officially opened in May, 2010.

Acting as contract engineer during project execution, SGS was responsible for ensuring that all activities were carried out at the site by the contractor in line with the final agreement. In doing so, SGS supervised the quality of construction works, the fulfillment of the technical parameters and kept the project within the scheduled time and contracted price. more

E.ON uses PPC's Broadband Powerline technology in smart grid project

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 10:37 am E.ON uses PPC's Broadband Powerline technology in smart grid project

by Power Plus Communications

Mannheim - Power Plus Communications AG (PPC), the leading provider of Broadband Powerline Communication systems (BPL) for smart grids has taken on a key role within an E.ON smart grid project to facilitate an extension of Cisco's Connected Grid Solution.

E.ON Westfalen Weser AG is currently trialing smart grid technology within its network of 1.3 million inhabitants and PPC's proven medium voltage BPL solution has connected substations in the project using the existing power grid.

Using BPL technology, standard compliant and IP-based data transfer rates of 5-30 Mbit/s can easily be achieved via the medium voltage cable itself. Within E.ON’s smart grid project, PPC's medium voltage technology facilitated the extension of Cisco's Connected Grid Solution. The Cisco smart grid Router and Switches used in the project are highly compatible with BPL networks, providing a real cost advantage over fiber optic networks – which can be much more expensive where cables are not pre-existing.

By combining their technology at Westfalen Weser, PPC and Cisco have ensured the evolution of fast and efficient smart grids which are controlled on an IP basis. This increases the reliability of the power grid, fulfills regulations and drives down costs. At the same time this modern smart grids communications technology makes it possible to effectively integrate renewable energy into the grid. more

MIT Infrastructure "Life Cycle" Study is Progress Both Left & Right Can Embrace - Part 2, Fiscal Responsibility

Saturday 19 February 2011 at 09:02 am By Brenda Krueger Huffman


Chicago – Perhaps moving to the center is where we all need to be politically on the environment and effective spending compatibility. Not all green technology is crazy, and not all business profit or government expenditure is evil.

Even if you do not believe in man caused climate change, we can all agree leaving a cleaner planet and a more fiscally responsible government for the next generation is preferable to not doing so.

Perhaps green technology can be cost effective, and government fiscal responsibility may realistically include affordable green initiatives. Honest “life cycle analysis” and “life cycle cost analysis” study considerations should be a political compromise starting point both the left and the right can embrace. more

Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

Thursday 27 January 2011 at 11:05 am Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

By Pete Spotts


Washington - A long-term retreat in snow and ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere is weakening the ability of these seasonal cloaks of white to reflect sunlight back into space and cool global climate, according to a study published this week.

Indeed, over the past 30 years, the cooling effect from this so-called cryosphere – essentially areas covered by snow and ice at least part of the year – appears to have weakened at more than twice the pace projected by global climate models, the research team conducting the work estimates.

The study, which appeared online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, represents a first cut at trying to calculate from direct measurements the impact of climate change on the Northern Hemisphere's cryosphere. The study was conducted by a team of federal and university scientists who examined data gathered between 1979 and 2008. more

EPA presents plan on greenhouse gases

Wednesday 05 January 2011 at 10:38 pm By Mark Clayton


Washington - Setting the stage for a New Year battle royal between Congress and the White House over greenhouse gas emissions, the US Environmental Protection Agency Thursday laid out a timetable for the nation's largest carbon emitters – power plants and refineries – to begin curbing those pollutants.

Republicans have said all year that they plan to pull out all the stops to keep the EPA from phasing in greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations beginning in 2011, saying they would damage the energy industry, raise prices, and cost jobs.

Rep. Fred Upton (R) of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has said he opposes the regulations on greenhouse gases and indicated he would lead efforts to revoke EPA regulations in the next Congress. The new regulations, he says, will likely lead to the shut down of coal-fired power plants.

"To protect jobs and fortify our energy security, we should be working to bring more power online, not shutting plants down," Mr. Upton said in a statement. "We are woefully unprepared to meet our nation's growing energy demands, yet this administration's 'none of the above' energy policy will do nothing but cost jobs, make energy more expensive, and increase our dependence on foreign sources of energy."

Environmentalists lauded the EPA's move. more

Supreme Court takes global warming case that targets power companies

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:21 am By Warren Richey,


Washington - The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a major environmental lawsuit that seeks to force six electric power companies to cap and reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions to fight global warming.

The lawsuit - filed in 2004 by eight states, the City of New York, and three land trusts - targets what it claims are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States and among the largest in the world.

It seeks a judicial order declaring that the fossil-fueled power plants are a "public nuisance." It also seeks a judicial order capping the plants' greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the plants to adopt a schedule of reduced emissions in future years. more

Outside Cancun climate conference, Caribbean Sea testifies to global warming

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:09 am By Ezra Fieser,


Bayahibe, Dominican Republic - This summer's extreme heat may seem like a distant memory as winter approaches the United States.

But the summer that broke heat records across the Northern Hemisphere is still being felt below the surface of the Caribbean Sea: 2010 will likely be one of the most deadly years on record for coral reefs.

If diplomats attending the two-week global climate change talks that opened Monday in Cancun, Mexico, want more evidence of the negative and potentially devastating affects of warming temperatures, they need look no further than the blue sea outside their hotels. Researchers say that throughout the Caribbean coral reefs are "bleaching," a condition that occurs when they are under extreme stress due to warmer-than-normal sea temperatures. more