Here at the Asia Clean Energy Forum in the Philippines, President Obama’s speech on climate change has been greeted with enthusiasm. In particular, his decision to redirect U.S. financing of coal fired power plants to expanding the use of clean energy in developing countries is seen as a signal that the U.S. understands that coal is risky and expensive—at a time when the costs of biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind power are declining rapidly.
The positive reaction to Obama’s initiative is hardly surprising: many Asian countries share the U.S. President’s concern about climate change: recent fires, droughts, and typhoons have devastated large areas, stirred public concern, and spurred governments to act.
The growing Asian commitment to new energy technologies reflects the fact that renewable resources are indigenous, while for many countries, coal must be imported. For most Asian countries, investment in renewable energy is an investment in their economic future, and will provide the energy needed to increase prosperity and eradicate poverty.
President Obama’s new approach to coal and clean energy is fully consistent both with his commitment to job creation and his “pivot to Asia” in foreign policy. U.S. leadership on new energy technology is a signal that the country is committed to the future of energy rather than its past—and to providing energy for people rather than subsidies for fossil fuels.
Alexander Ochs, Eric Anderson, and Reese Rogers | Aug 21, 2012
A recent projection places the total value of conventional global fossil fuel subsidies between $775 billion and more than $1 trillion in 2012, depending on which supports are included in the calculation.1 In contrast, total subsidies for renewable energy stood at $66 billion in 2010, although that was a 10 percent increase from the previous year.2 Two thirds of these subsidies went to renewable electricity resources and the remaining third to biofuels.3
Although the total subsidies for renewable energy are significantly lower than those for fossil fuels, they are higher per kilowatt-hour if externalities are not included in the calculations. Estimates based on 2009 energy production numbers placed renewable energy subsidies between 1.7¢ and 15¢ per kilowatt-hour while subsidies for fossil fuels were estimated at around 0.1–0.7¢ per kWh.4 Unit subsidy costs for renewables are expected to decrease as technologies become more efficient and the prices of wholesale electricity and transport fuels rise.5
Globally negotiated efforts to reduce fossil fuel subsidies have been hindered by competing definitions of subsidies. Calculation methods also vary. The common price gap approach to calculating consumption subsidies uses the difference between the observed domestic prices of energy and the world market prices as an estimate of the impacts of a country’s policies on market prices.6 Some oil exporters, however, argue that production cost rather than market price should be used as the baseline.7 The difficulties in accurately measuring data are compounded by the lack of transparency among countries with regard to energy subsidies.8
[For full access to the complete trend and its associated charts, log in to Vital Signs]
WASHINGTON, May 30 (IPS) – If a series of “golden rules” can be followed, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests, global natural gas usage could grow by more than 50 percent by 2035.The report, released on Tuesday, came under sharp criticism from environmental groups for charting a route to a “golden age” in the extraction and use of natural gas.
“We have an opportunity for natural gas to address the intermittency problems of renewable energy sources – it could become an ally of renewables,” Alexander Ochs, the director of the climate and energy programme at the Worldwatch Institute here in Washington, told IPS. Ochs also reviewed a draft of the IEA report.
Ochs says that there are a number of actors within the gas sector that will welcome the new IEA recommendations as a way of cutting down on the potential of a future environmental catastrophe that could lead to industry-damaging policy restrictions.
“The problem isn’t with this report. The problem is that if you don’t have good regulations in place, there go your opportunities,” he says. “And if you don’t have smart technologies in place, you lose this ally.”
Ochs does warn that the report underplays the potential use of renewables in the upcoming decades, however, by suggesting that green technologies other than hydro will only make up five percent of total energy demand in the next quarter century.
“I think the IEA could well be wrong in the numbers it’s using. Technically and economically, more than half of our electricity could come from renewables as early as 2030,” he says.
“But if gas sees a golden age and becomes cheap globally, it could get in the way of renewables. Then, rather than being an enabler, it becomes a deal breaker.”
The Emergency Email & Wireless Network, http://www.emergencyemail.org/newsemergency/anmviewer.asp?a=1686&z=34
Scientists, climatologists and energy experts share a growing concern: the need for water in the production of energy, especially in regions that are experiencing serious drought. Generating power – whether it be from fossil fuels or renewable energy sources – requires large amounts of water. How are the nation’s energy producers are facing this challenge?
Water is also used to cool fuel rods at nuclear plants and to generate steam to power turbines. The biofuel industry needs water for irrigation, fermentation and the production of ethanol and biodiesel fuels.
Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute, says that adds up to a lot of water. “Per megawatt hour, coal uses 500 to 1000 gallons of water for the production of just one megawatt hour of electricity,” said Ochs. “If we look at all the plants combined in the U.S., all the thermo-electric plants [powered by steam] in the US in 2008 alone, they drew 60 billion to 170 billion gallons of water, per year.”
Without water, most types of energy could not be produced. Even renewable energy, like geothermal and solar, use water to cool equipment and to clean the collector panels. Those requirements have led California, Massachusetts and several Midwestern states to halt the operations of some power plants.
“Places like the Midwest where water is a very scarce resource already today, a number of power plants have actually been halted, and this is actually true for across the United States,” said Ochs. (…)
[Please find the full article HERE]
Zulima Palacio, Voice of America, January 08, 2012 7:00 PM
Scientists, climatologists and energy experts share a growing concern: the need for water in the production of energy, especially in regions that are experiencing serious drought. Generating power – whether it be from fossil fuels or renewable energy sources – requires large amounts of water.
Nearly all forms of energy production use large amounts of water. Coal, which generates nearly 50 percent of the electricity in the U.S., needs water for mining and transport, and to cool and lubricate equipment. Water is also used to cool fuel rods at nuclear plants and to generate steam to power turbines. The biofuel industry needs water for irrigation, fermentation and the production of ethanol and biodiesel fuels.
Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute, says that adds up to a lot of water. “Per megawatt hour, coal uses 500 to 1000 gallons of water for the production of just one megawatt hour of electricity,” said Ochs. “If we look at all the plants combined in the U.S., all the thermo-electric plants [powered by steam] in the U.S. in 2008 alone, they drew 60 billion to 170 billion gallons of water, per year.”
[please find the full article HERE]
Contribution to Euronews CommentVisions
In 2007, renewable energy already provided 18% of the world’s total final energy supply, greatly exceeding earlier predictions. While global GDP increased by 156% between 1990 and 2007, energy demand “only” rose by 39%. A recent Worldwatch study has outlined a new, technologically and economically viable 2030 global low-carbon scenario. It demonstrates that energy demand can be reduced by another one third compared to the business-as-usual scenario produced by the International Energy Agency which is used by many as the “reference scenario”. In our scenario 50% – half! – of the remaining energy demand in 2030 can be provided by renewables decreasing energy-related CO2 emissions by 52%.
Natural gas will play a major role in covering the other 48%. Natural gas is widely available and produces less greenhouse gas emissions and less local air and water pollution than coal and gas. It also does not create the security, economic, and health burdens of nuclear energy. What is more, natural gas can serve as an important ally of renewables. Since gas power plants can be switched on and off relatively easily, we can make sure that the maximum amount of renewables are used despite their fluctuations on a given day. Environmentally such a major transition of the global energy system is a necessity if want to avoid catastrophic climate disruptions. Technologically and economically, our scenario is feasible. What is still lacking, is the political will to make it reality.
Lange Zeit sah es so aus, als ob die Klima-Karawane aus Regierungsdelegationen, Interessenvertretern und Umweltschützern nur auf der Stelle tritt. Beim letzten großen Zusammenkommen auf höchster Ebene im vergangenen Dezember wie auch bei den unzähligen Vorbereitungstreffen ging es so zaghaft voran, dass viele den UN-Klimagipfel schon abgeschrieben hatten.
Doch dann überschlugen sich in den vergangenen Wochen die Ereignisse: Die USA, China, Brasilien, Indonesien und Südafrika legten nationale Ziele vor, die teilweise deutlich über dem lagen, was man noch vor kurzem für möglich hielt. Am vergangenen Wochenende dann der nächste Hoffnungsschimmer, der Kopenhagen doch noch zum “Hope’nhagen” machen könnte: US-Präsident Barack Obama kündigte an, dass er am letzten Verhandlungstag, dem 18. Dezember, in die dänische Hauptstadt kommen will, um dem Treffen womöglich zum Durchbruch zu verhelfen. Obama zeigt damit klar, wie hoch die Klimapolitik inzwischen auch auf der amerikanischen politischen Agenda steht.
Hier geht’s weiter zu meinem Op-Ed in der Wiener Zeitung.