Wednesday, 30 December 2009

China amendment to boost renewable energy

China adopted an amendment to its renewable energy law Saturday that requires utilities to buy all the power produced by generators of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Power enterprises that refuse to do so will face fines up to an amount double that of the economic loss of the renewable energy company, state-run news agency Xinhua reports.

The amendment also requires the Chinese government to set up a special fund for renewable energy scientific research, finance rural clean energy projects, build independent power systems in remote areas and islands, and build information networks to exploit renewable energy.

The fund would be managed by finance, energy and pricing sectors of the state council.

China's renewable energy law, which took effect in January 2006, covered subsidies, pricing management and supervision measures and was aimed at "optimizing the country's energy structure and safeguarding energy security."

China, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, last year relied on coal for nearly 70 percent of its total energy use. But its goal is to increase use of renewable-energy sources to 15 percent of its total by 2020, from 9 percent last year.

Last month Chinese president Hu Jintao announced a separate target ahead of the Copenhagen climate-change summit to reduce the country's carbon emissions relative to economic output by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

Yet China's emissions will continue to grow as its economy expands.

The amendment "strengthens the confidence of achieving the target" and "contributes to the global fight on climate change," said Wang Zhongying, director of the renewable energy development center of the Energy Research Institute under China's National Development and Reform Commission, Xinhua reports.

According to Xinhua, renewable resources supplied 9 percent of China's total energy consumption last year, equal to reducing carbon dioxide by 600 million tons. It said China used more hydro and solar power than any other country and ranked fourth worldwide for its use of wind power.

But industry experts estimate that one-third of China's wind-generated electricity could not be well transmitted to the grid. The new legislation requires grid companies to improve transmitting technologies and enhance grid capability to absorb more power produced by renewable energy generators.

Xiao Liye, director of the Institute of Electrical Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, suggested using "smart grids" to enhance grid capability. He said "smart grids" and renewable energy should be developed in tandem like "twin brothers."

Source - Solar Daily

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

World's largest solar energy project planned for Africa desert

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) group claims a network of solar plants in north Africa harnessing the sun's rays will be the biggest in the world, dwarfing the current largest installation already running at Andasol in southern Spain.

Planners hope the project will eventually provide 15 per cent of Europe's electricity by 2050, together with similar amounts of electricity for countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

It is thought the energy demands of the world could be met by covering as little as one per cent of the world's deserts.

Dr Gerry Wolff, coordinator of DESERTEC-UK, a group of British investors in the project, said: "Within five years people in the UK could start to use desert electricity that has been produced in the Sahara.

"Householders will be able to say they are making a cup of tea with energy collected from the African sun.

"The consortium of businesses needs to talk to the relevant governments and there will be a need to make changes to laws and regulations to smooth the path for these developments.

"An important point that must be stressed is that the electricity will be for people throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. If everyone is benefiting, this will help the project to run smoothly.

"Much of the project depends on the good will of the people living in the countries where we will collect the sunshine."

The DII group hopes to begin building the huge solar plants within three years and delivering energy by 2015.

Instead of using photovoltaic solar panels that absorb the sun's blistering rays, hundreds of giant mirrors would instead reflect the light and concentrate it – firing the sunbeams at a focal point, such as a tower next to the field of mirrors.

Such technology is already at work at the PS10 and PS20 CSP plants near Seville in Spain.

Dr Wolff added: "Because it is relatively cheap and easy to store solar heat, a CSP plant can carry on generating electricity at night – something that is not so easy to do with photovoltaic solar panels."

The full list of businesses who have joined the consortium are ABB, Cevital, Deutsche Bank, E. ON, HSH Nordbank, MAN Solar Millennium, Munich RE, M&W Zander, RWE, SCHOTT Solar, and Siemens.

Source - Telegraph

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Large, Solar-Powered, Sustainably Built Affordable Housing

When it opens later this year, Ironhorse will offer 99 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that will be affordable to families with annual incomes ranging from $18,000 to $50,000. Designed by architect David Baker + Partners, Ironhorse includes many sustainable building and landscaping measures, including:

+ Vegetated "green roofs" that last longer than standard roofs and provide excellent insulation from both heat and sound.

+ Solar hot water panels to pre-heat domestic hot water.

+ Solar panels that supply nearly all of the electricity to power the common areas.

+ Certified CRI Green Label Plus carpets.

+ 100% of outdoor furniture, benches and seat walls made of composite lumber created from recycled materials.

+ A landscape irrigation controller that receives weather data via a satellite connection and a high-efficiency drip irrigation system.

+ Two vegetated swales, which naturally filter and percolate rainwater captured from the roofs into the water table.

GreenPoint Rated, a widely recognized program of Build It Green, grades homes in five categories: energy efficiency, resource conservation, indoor air quality, water conservation and community. Currently, new multifamily developments score an average of 85 points under the rating system; Ironhorse has a pending GreenPoint Rating of 116 points.

"We are committed to creating energy- and resource-efficient homes that are cost-effective, good for the environment and healthier places to live," said Lydia Tan, Interim President and CEO of BRIDGE. "Visitors to Ironhorse will see how it's possible to incorporate significant green measures into affordable multifamily homes."

Ironhorse stands at the center of a major reintegration of some 29 acres of abandoned former industrial land into the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Ironhorse forms part of Central Station, a new master-planned undertaking by several developers including BUILD, a BRIDGE affiliate. A total of more than 1,200 new homes will be constructed, along with new neighborhood-serving retail and the anticipated restoration of the historic 16th Street Station.

Source - Solardaily

Solar panels – A new way to invest in your future

Solar panels are about to become more affordable. Over the past decade, solar panels – called photovoltaic or PV panels and solar heating have become increasingly visible.

They power street lamps and road signs in some counties, and are increasingly seen on homes up and down the UK. The key change the government are bringing in April next year is the feed in tariff and that means you and I can earn money from generating our own electricity.

So if there are doubts about how effective solar panels are, and overcast skies, the financial argument is about to get much better.

Especially as electricity costs have doubled in the last three years, says Stuart Lovatt from Heat my Home.

“If you put solar panels on your roof the government will pay you 36p – or 36.5p is the number out for consultation and what we expect it to be,” he said.

“The pay-back time on your investment could still be nearer to 10 years.”

“Even on a cloudy day, it can generate over 50%.”

“We do have doldrums. When we have heavy clouds, they cease to produce anything to let you run the washing machine and so on.”

Most days, on an average kind of day, there’s enough juice to keep our HDTV, surround sound stereo and other creature comforts running. No problem.

Ironically most solar panels manufactured in Wales are exported to mainland Europe, especially Germany. With more generous grants for householders to invest in lowering their energy bills there, solar panels are more common than here.

Possibly – if homeowners prefer to invest £8-£20,000 in solar panels rather than keep their cash in a bank – the feed-in-tariff system next April could see far more panels on houses all over Wales, utilising the power of the sun.

Source - BBC

Sunday, 6 December 2009

China solar panel makers see boost from कोपेन्हागें

In Trina Solar's brilliant white factory in eastern China, masked workers in lab coats turn silicon wafers into solar power cells capable of harnessing the sun's clean and limitless energy.

China is now the world's top producer of the cells -- the tile-like engines of solar panels -- and firms like Trina see next week's climate talks as a potential key moment in the wider adoption of renewable energies like solar.

"The Copenhagen talks, from our point of view, are going to be positive," Terry Wang, Trina's chief financial officer, told AFP in an interview.

"A global target for emissions cuts would have a positive impact across all 20 countries we sell to."

As the world seeks to curb the carbon emissions blamed for global warming, companies such as Trina illustrate how central China will be to that effort.

Thanks to a surging Chinese solar cell industry, there may have never been a better time for the world to go solar.

Chinese production capacity surged more than fourfold in the past year to 8 gigawatts -- more than the total global 2010 demand of 7.5 gigawatts in solar panels, according to Yuanta Securities.

Meanwhile, a collapse in financing for large solar projects in Europe -- linked to the world financial crisis -- has pushed solar cell prices to near historic lows.

As a result, the prices for solar modules -- the grid-like panels typically comprising 60 cells -- are half what they were at the beginning of 2008, said Min Li, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Yuanta Securities.

Global solar power demand last year roughly equalled 10 medium-sized coal-fired electricity plants, said Rory Macpherson, investor relations director at China's New York Stock Exchange-listed SunTech, the world's largest solar panel maker.

"For solar to be effective in decreasing carbon emissions, we really need to increase the scale and adoption many times over," he said.

As the world's leading source of carbon emissions, China has launched ambitious plans to increase use of renewable energies like wind but has yet to harness the sun. Yet that is changing.

China did not figure in Trina's sales charts last year, but will account for two to three percent of the New York-listed company's sales this year, Wang said, adding he expected China sales to double in 2010.

Domestic customers will represent about five percent of SunTech's sales this year, Macpherson said.

"In the next three or four years it could be one of the world's largest markets," he said.

Beijing kick-started a solar drive this year with its "Golden Sun" stimulus plan to subsidise half the cost of solar power generation and transmission facilities, rising to 70 percent in remote, off-grid areas.

The government last week announced the first batch of 294 projects, which are expected to come on line within three years and generate 642 megawatts at a cost of 20 billion yuan (2.9 billion dollars).

It did not specify how much it would pay in "Golden Sun" grants, adding it wanted to gradually reduce Chinese producers' reliance on overseas sales and build infrastructure so the national grid can tap solar power.

China announced last week it planned to curb 2020 emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels.

It had already set a target of generating 15 percent of its power through renewable sources, including solar power, by 2020.

Renewables are expected to account for 10 percent of China's energy by 2010, according to officials.

That means it will have to add 1.8 megawatts of solar generation per year from 2011 to 2020, Yuanta's Li said.

"Starting from 2011, China's domestic market will be on a par with some of the leading European countries," he said.

The sector remains dependent on subsidies, especially European producers.

Still, Trina, which boasts the lowest prices in the market, expects strong growth in Italy, France and the United States next year.

European producers accuse Chinese producers of selling panels at unsustainably low prices to grab market share.

Wang rejects the allegation, saying Trina's gross profit margin in the third quarter of this year rose to 29 percent from 22 percent a year earlier due to falling costs.

"Government incentives will not last forever," he said. "We should continue to reduce the price of solar systems so we can be more competitive with traditional power generation. That's healthy for the solar sector."

Source - Solar Daily

Brown attacks flat-earth global warming scepticism

Gordon Brown tonight led a chorus of condemnation against “flat-earth” climate change sceptics who have tried to derail the Copenhagen summit by casting doubt on the evidence for global warming.

Sceptics in the UK and the US have moved to capitalise on a series of hacked emails from climate change scientists at the University of East Anglia, claiming they show attempts to hide information that does not support the case for human activity causing rising temperatures.

On the eve of the Copenhagen summit, Saudi Arabia and Republican members of the US Congress have used the emails to claim the need for urgent action to cut carbon emissions has been undermined.

But tonight the prime minister, his environment secretary, Ed Miliband, and Ed Markey, the man who co-authored the US climate change bill, joined forces to condemn the sceptics.

“With only days to go before Copenhagen we mustn’t be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics,” Brown told the Guardian. “We know the science. We know what we must do. We must now act and close the 5bn-tonne gap. That will seal the deal.”

According to the government adviser Sir Nicholas Stern, 10bn tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions must be taken out of the atmosphere by 2020. So far agreement is in place for only half of that amount.

Ed Miliband gave his most damning assessment of the sceptics yet, describing them as “dangerous and deceitful”.

He said: “The approach of the climate saboteurs is to misuse data and mislead people. The sceptics are playing politics with science in a dangerous and deceitful manner. There is no easy way out of tackling climate change despite what they would have us believe. The evidence is clear and the time we have to act is short. To abandon this process now would lead to misery and catastrophe for millions.”

Markey warned against allowing America’s political agenda to be hijacked by the email affair. “We can no longer allow our climate and energy policy to be hijacked by the government of Saudi Arabia, ExxonMobil, and the defenders of the fossil fuel status quo,” he said.

Even if an investigation into the university emails were to show evidence of wrongdoing, scientists and politicians say there is an overwhelming body of evidence that humans are causing climate change. However, the hacking affair is putting new obstacles in the way of getting a bill past Congress – seen as a crucial precondition for a binding climate change treaty.

The summit, which begins on Monday, aims to seal a global deal to control greenhouse gas emissions, but all of the significant issues remain to be resolved. There is still no agreement between developing nations and the richer countries over the carbon cuts required and the funding which must be given to poorer countries to help them cope with global warming.

China and India, whose economies are growing rapidly, must still agree a deal on curbing their emissions while being able to lift billions of people out of poverty.

The concern for some of those attempting to drive through a global deal is that the sceptics will delay critical decisions by casting doubt over the science at a time when momentum has been gathering towards a historic agreement. “The sceptics have clearly seized upon this as an incident that they can use to their own ends in trying to disrupt the Copenhagen agreements,” said Bob Watson, Defra chief scientist and former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “If this slows down an international agreement to significantly reduce greenhouse gases, it will mean we’re committed to an even larger temperature change … with adverse consequences on agriculture, water, human security, human health and biodiversity.”

Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, said it would be disastrous for the planet if sceptics were able to undermine support for a climate change deal. “Ideological dinosaurs, whether in Saudi Arabia or in the Conservative party, who deny climate change must not be allowed to hide behind some leaked correspondence to support their outdated theories,” Clegg said.

A number of prominent Conservatives, including former chancellor Lord Lawson and former Cameron frontbencher David Davis, have pounced on the email furore. But tonight the shadow climate change secretary, Greg Clark, made clear the party line remains that climate change is a serious man-made threat. “Research into climate change has involved thousands of different scientists, pursuing many separate lines of independent inquiry over many years. The case for a global deal is still strong and in many aspects, such as the daily destruction of the Earth’s rainforests, desperately urgent,” he said.

Source - The Guardian

Solar panels grants closed due to unprecedented demand

Solar panels manufacturers have warned of their frustration after the government’s flagship grant scheme for solar panels ran out of money less than halfway through the financial year.

The UK PV Association, which represents companies making and installing solar panels, warned that they were “in limbo” after the Low Carbon Building Programme Phase 2 was closed to solar applications this week.

The £50m scheme had included up to £18m for hospitals, schools and other public sector buildings to install pv solar panels on their roofs. But it has been closed down due to unprecedented demand.

Meanwhile, an announcement has been delayed on a clean energy cashback scheme – called “feed-in tariffs” – which will let people sell renewable power back to the grid. The industry had expected the decision this month but now believes it has been delayed amid wrangling between the energy department and the Treasury.

“This leaves installation companies in limbo land, unable to plan their businesses and unsure of what advice to give customers,” said the association.

Andrew Lee from Sharp UK, which employs 600 staff making solar panels in Wrexham, said the industry would have to endure another “unnecessary hiatus in support”.

The news is awkward for the government, coming just days before international climate change talks open in Copenhagen. Britain gets less energy from renewables than almost any other EU country.

Green campaigners have complained about the way ministers have launched a succession of “piecemeal” renewable energy grants.

“Our members face ongoing uncertainties and yet another round of stop-start support,” said Ray Noble from the Renewable Energy Association.

This week the energy department announced it was closing the scheme to companies and public sector applicants – although Phase 1, which applies to households, is still open. The energy department is also still offering grants for large-scale wind, hydro and biomass projects but has introduced a waiting list.

Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council, said the removal of the grants would put green jobs in jeopardy and undermine Britain’s credibility ahead of Copenhagen.

A spokeswoman for DECC said feed-in tariffs were on track to begin next April. “It’s very encouraging that there’s been an unprecedented demand for this technology but we have to be fair to all renewable technologies,” she said.

Source - The Financial Times

Climate change sceptics and lobbyists put world at risk

Climate skeptics and fossil fuel companies that have lobbied against action on greenhouse gas emissions have squandered the world’s chance to avoid dangerous global warming, a key adviser to the government has said.

Professor Bob Watson, chief scientist at the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, said a decade of inaction on climate change meant it was now virtually impossible to limit global temperature rise to 2C. He said the delay meant the world would now do well to stabilise warming between 3C and 4C.

His comments come ahead of key UN negotiations on a new global climate treaty in Copenhagen next month that the UK government insists should still aim for a 2C goal, despite doubts over whether a meaningful deal can be sealed.

In an interview with the Guardian, Watson said: “Those that have opposed a deal on climate, which would include elements of the fossil fuel industry, have clearly made making a 2C target much, much harder, if not impossible. They’ve clearly put the world at risk of far more adverse effects of climate change.”

The decision of former US president George W Bush to walk away from the Kyoto protocol, the existing global treaty on carbon emissions, sent a message to other countries not to act, he said. “The last decade was a lost opportunity. Elements within the fossil fuel industry clearly had major implications for the Bush administration.”

He added: “I think they’ve clearly been partly to blame, without any question at all. But you have to say it is not just the fossil lobby. Within the US, there is not strong support for the Kyoto protocol in both parties. Even Obama now will have to persuade a still somewhat sceptical Senate that we should be doing this.”

The Copenhagen talks are not expected to deliver a legally binding treaty as originally hoped, but could still make progress on issues such as emissions cuts for rich countries and financial assistance for the developing world. A strong agreement rests on how far Obama is willing to push towards strong carbon cuts in the US.

European officials fear the agreement could eventually do no better than return emissions in 2020 to 1990 levels; scientists say they must fall by 25-40% to have a good chance of staying within the 2C limit.

Watson, a former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said: “I think we will do well to stabilise between 3 and 4C. Even that is going to take strong political action to decarbonise the energy system and to require us peaking greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 or more years,” he said. “We have to make sure we understand what it would mean to see 3-4C. How would we adapt our agriculture, our water resources, coastal protection and human health systems.”

A Guardian poll this year showed that almost nine out of 10 climate scientists thought the 2C target would be missed.

The British government last month published a map that laid out the stark details of a world warmer by 4C. It showed that the rise would not be evenly spread across the globe, with temperature rises much larger than 4C in high latitudes such as the Arctic. Because the sea warms more slowly, average land temperature will increase by 5.5C, which scientists said would shrink yields for all major cereal crops on all regions of production. A 4C rise would also have a major impact on water availability, with supplies limited to an extra billion people by 2080.

Source - The Guardian