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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Europe looks to China for new renewables markets

Financial constraints set by European governments recently have meant that companies are increasingly looking at developing countries for market growth in renewable energy.

Fifteen new jobs created as Welsh renewable energy firm increases turnover

The potential for increased job opportunities in the renewable energy industry was demonstrated very clearly recently when a renewable energy company based in St Asaph in Wales quadrupled its turnover creating fifteen new jobs.

Builders hit by 2500% tax rise
The government has raised the tax level on waste going to landfill sites from £2.50 to £64 per tonne creating fears of an increase in fly tipping. 

DECC will change to lower rate from August

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced that it will reduce the Feed-in Tariff rate for solar PV again in August from the current rate of 21p to 16p per kWh

Saturday, 12 May 2012

'Zero Carbon' houses can still emit carbon

ALEC conspires to kill renewable energy in the US

Today, behind closed doors in Charlotte, North Carolina, legislators from 15 states will meet with the oil and gas industry to discuss so-called “model legislation” as part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The result could be laws that handicap renewable energy targets — while creating loopholes for fossil fuels, written directly by the oil and gas industry itself.
ALEC has faced backlash recently for its role in crafting Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. Now the organization is taking the same secretive approach to kill renewable energy development across the country.
Oil and gas corporations have a very strong role in politics through groups like Americans For Prosperity, American Petroleum Institute, and, of course, ALEC. Four of the largest oil and gas corporations and two of the most profitable U.S. corporations overall, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and BP, sit on ALEC’s task forces. And so today, according to documents posted by Common Cause, representatives from these and other energy groups will discuss potential legislation that would undermine clean energy standards and limit regulations of polluting industries.
The agenda items illustrate ALEC’s objectives. An economist from the oil lobby American Petroleum Institute leads a discussion on oil and gas prices, and a few of the panels include, “The Dirty Truth Behind Reusable Bags” and “Resolution Supporting a Reasonable Compliance Timeline and Economywide Impact Study of EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Rule.” Peabody Energy — one of the largest coal companies in the world — will give the presentation on “Regulation Through Litigation Of Greenhouse Gases Is Unsound Public Policy.”
ALEC already benefits from special exemption from some state laws: For example, South Carolina, Indiana, and Colorado have specifically exempted ALEC from lobbying status.
The oil industry’s astroturfing does not end with ALEC. Heartland Institute, part of the consortium of ultra-conservative think tanks leading a broad attack on clean energy, will also speak at ALEC’s meeting. Americans For Prosperity, funded by money from the Koch brothers, is also involved in Big Oil’s PR campaign against clean energy.
We have already seen oil dominating election ad spending this year, with well over $24 million spent by groups like Americans for Prosperity and American Energy Alliance since January. More than 80 percent of election year attack ads have focused on energy — all of them thoroughly debunked.

Study finds Arctic methane source

The fragile and rapidly changing Arctic is home to large reservoirs of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. As Earth’s climate warms, that methane is vulnerable to possible release into the atmosphere, where it can add to global warming.
Researchers have known for years that large amounts of methane are frozen in Arctic tundra soils and in marine sediments (including gas hydrates). But now a multi-institutional study led by Eric Kort of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has uncovered a surprising and potentially important new source of methane: the Arctic Ocean itself.
The photograph above was taken by Kort, and it shows leads and cracks in the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. During five research flights in 2009–10, Kort and colleagues measured increased methane levels while flying at low altitudes north of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in a National Science Foundation/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Gulfstream V aircraft as part of the HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) airborne campaign.
The methane level detected during the flights was about one-half percent higher than normal background levels.
 But where was the methane coming from? The team detected no carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, which would have been a signature of methane coming from the human combustion of fuels. And based on the time of year, the location, and the nature of the emissions, it was unlikely that the methane was coming from high-latitude wetlands or geologic reservoirs.
By comparing the locations of the enhanced methane levels with airborne measurements of carbon monoxide, water vapor, and ozone, the researchers from six institutions pinpointed a source: the ocean surface, in places where there were cracks and openings in the sea ice cover. The cracks were allowing methane in the top layers of the sea to escape into the atmosphere. The team did not detect enhanced methane levels over areas of solid ice.
Kort noted that previous studies had detected high concentrations of methane in Arctic surface waters, but no one had predicted that this dissolved methane would find its way into the overlying atmosphere. Scientists are not yet sure how the methane is produced, but Kort suspects biological productivity in Arctic surface waters may be the culprit.
It’s possible that as large areas of sea ice melt and expose more ocean water, methane production may increase, leading to larger methane emissions,” he said. “While the methane levels we detected weren’t particularly large, the potential source region, the Arctic Ocean, is vast. So our finding could represent a noticeable new global source of methane.”
Kort, E.A., et al (2012) Atmospheric observations of Arctic Ocean methane emissions up to 82° north.Nature Geoscience 5, 318–321.
– Alan Buis, NASA JPL

Climate Change Impacting European Fish Stocks

Rising ocean temperatures are driving major changes in fisheries throughout western Europe, bringing warm water species typically seen in the Mediterranean to the coast of the United Kingdom.

A new report card issued by European marine researchers details the ecological and economic impact that climate change is having on fisheries in the UK and Scotland — concluding that there are “clear indications that climate change is affecting fish stocks” in the region.
The report card features a map of changes currently underway. In southwest England, there are increases in blue fin tuna, triggerfish, thresher sharks, stingrays, and ocean sunfish; In the North Sea, fisherman are catching far more squid, shifting from a traditional focus on haddock and cod; and on the coast of eastern England, fisherman are seeing major declines in cod due to overfishing and changing temperatures.

A rise in ocean temperatures could have mixed results in Europe, wiping out some fish stocks and making others more abundant. But the net impact would be unquestionably bad, warn the researchers:
Projected global redistributions of fish will affect different parts of the world unequally. By 2050, tropical regions could experience significant declines in landings with gains in some high latitudes. The overall cost of adaptation of the fisheries sector worldwide in response to climate change is predicted to be large and could lead to losses in gross fisheries revenues of $10–31 billion by 2050.
If ocean temperatures rise by 1 degree Celsius, the report predicts that mussel harvests could fall by half, while increasing storms could damage salmon farms — potentially introducing new predators or causing farmed salmon to escape in the wild and hybridize wild stocks.
The report card was put together by Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, a group of scientists from government agencies and NGOs. While some of the long-term predictions for fisheries are sketchy, the impacts today are already being seen: “There are clear changes in the depth, distribution, migration and spawning behaviours of fish – many of which can be related to warming sea temperatures.”

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Air Traffic Control and emissions savings

Microsoft Carbon neutral?

CPRE concerns about impact of wind energy misplaced

Climate Change - An economic opportunity?

Friday, 4 May 2012

Biomass: Good idea or not?

The government has published a biomass strategy which it says could create 50,000 jobs as well as protecting the UK from future energy shocks. Although the document has been welcomed by some organisations, such as the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), others including the Combined Heat and Power Association believes that it is not supported by government policies, which need to be strengthened.

Elsewhere, concern about biomass continues to be an issue. Beverley Law of Oregon State University for example says: "The main objective of bioenergy production from forest harvest is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the strategy is likely to miss the mark."

Major concerns include shorter tree rotations, younger forests, depleted soil nutrients, increased risk of erosion, loss of forest biodiversity and function, higher costs for bioenergy than are now being anticipated, and increased use of fertilizers – also a source of greenhouse emissions.

Useful links:


Energy Live News

Western Farm Press

Energy & Environment Dates 2012