Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

15.12.06

Mileage from Megawatts: Enough Grid Capacity to Charge Plug-In Vehicles


Mileage from Megawatts: Enough Grid Capacity to Charge Plug-In Vehicles

GreenBiz.com, 12 December 2006 - If all the cars and light trucks in the nation switched from oil to electrons, idle capacity in the existing electric power system could generate most of the electricity consumed by plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

A new study for the Department of Energy finds that "off-peak" electricity production and transmission capacity could fuel 84 percent of the country's 220 million vehicles if they were plug-in hybrid electrics.

Researchers at DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory also evaluated the impact of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, on foreign oil imports, the environment, electric utilities and the consumer.

"This is the first review of what the impacts would be of very high market penetrations of PHEVs, said Eric Lightner, of DOE's Office of Electric Delivery and Energy Reliability. "It's important to have this baseline knowledge as consumers are looking for more efficient vehicles, automakers are evaluating the market for PHEVs and battery manufacturers are working to improve battery life and performance."

Current batteries for these cars can easily store the energy for driving the national average commute - about 33 miles round trip a day, so the study presumes that drivers would charge up overnight when demand for electricity is much lower.

Researchers found, in the Midwest and East, there is sufficient off-peak generation, transmission and distribution capacity to provide for all of today's vehicles if they ran on batteries. However, in the West, and specifically the Pacific Northwest, there is limited extra electricity because of the large amount of hydroelectric generation that is already heavily utilized. Since more rain and snow can't be ordered, it's difficult to increase electricity production from the hydroelectric plants.

“We were very conservative in looking at the idle capacity of power generation assets," said PNNL scientist Michael Kintner-Meyer. “The estimates didn't include hydro, renewables or nuclear plants. It also didn't include plants designed to meet peak demand because they don't operate continuously. We still found that across the country 84 percent of the additional electricity demand created by PHEVs could be met by idle generation capacity."

“Since gasoline consumption accounts for 73 percent of imported oil, it is intriguing to think of the trade and national security benefits if our vehicles switched from oil to electrons,” added PNNL energy researcher Rob Pratt. “Plus, since the utilities would be selling more electricity without having to build more plants or power lines, electricity prices could go down for everyone.”

Lightner noted that “the study suggests the idle capacity of the electric power grid is an underutilized national asset that could be tapped to vastly reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The study also looked at the impact on the environment of an all-out move to PHEVs. The added electricity would come from a combination of coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants. Even with today's power plants emitting greenhouse gases, the overall levels would be reduced because the entire process of moving a car one mile is more efficient using electricity than producing gasoline and burning it in a car's engine.

Total sulfur dioxide emissions would increase in the near term due to sulfur content in coal. However, urban air quality would actually improve since the pollutants are emitted from power plants that are generally located outside cities. In the long run, according to the report, the steady demand for electricity is likely to result in investments in much cleaner power plants, even if coal remains the dominant fuel for our electricity production.

“With cars charging overnight, the utilities would get a new market for their product. PHEVs would increase residential consumption of electricity by about 30 - 40 percent. The increased generation could lead to replacing aging coal-fired plants sooner with newer, more environmentally friendly versions,” said Kintner-Meyer.

“The potential for lowering greenhouse gases further is quite substantial because it is far less expensive to capture emissions at the smokestack than the tailpipe. Vehicles are one of the most intractable problems facing policymakers seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Pratt.

Finally, the study looked at the economic impact on consumers. Since, PHEVs are expected to cost about $6,000 to $10,000 more than existing vehicles - mostly due to the cost of batteries -- researchers evaluated how long it might take owners to break even on fuel costs. Depending on the price of gas and the cost of electricity, estimates range from five to eight years - about the current lifespan of a battery. Pratt notes that utilities could offer a lower price per kilowatt hour on off-peak power, making PHEVs even more attractive to consumers.

Adding “smart grid” communications technology to ensure the vehicles only charge during off-peak periods and to provide immediate, remote disconnect of chargers in event of problems in the power grid would make them attractive to utilities.

Clean-groundwater law sails through Parliament


Clean-groundwater law sails through Parliament

EurActiv.com, 13 December 2006 - Measures to come into effect in 2009 will require EU countries to prevent hazardous substances from entering underground water used for human consumption.

On 12 December 2006 the European Parliament gave its formal green light to an agreement reached in a last-resort conciliation with the Council in October on the groundwater-protection directive.

"More than half of the freshwater bodies in the EU are polluted and can never be cleaned up again," said Christa Klass MEP (EPP-ED, Germany) who was steering the dossier in Parliament. "This is why we must protect them better".

In a key amendment, MEPs succeeded in broadening the scope of the directive to protection of groundwater "against pollution and deterioration" and not just "against pollution" as the Council had originally requested.

Substances regulated under the new measures are listed in an annex to the water- framework directive adopted in 2000. They include cyanide, arsenic, biocides and phytopharmaceutical substances.

In a concession to member states, Parliament agreed to take nitrate pollution from farming out of the text. The limit value of 50mg/l for nitrate pollution, laid down in the 1991 directive on nitrates, will therefore continue to apply.

After the 2009 deadline to transpose the directive into national law, member states will be required to take "all measures necessary to prevent inputs into groundwater of any hazardous substances". The Council had previously backed less specific wording, requiring that all measures necessary be taken to "aim to prevent" groundwater pollution.

Pesticide manufacturers at the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) welcomed the agreement as "pragmatic" but advised maintaining coherence with existing strict EU laws on authorisation of substances used in plant-protection products. Substances that have already been assessed and authorised, said ECPA, "should not be considered hazardous in the context of member state implementation measures under the new groundwater directive".

The conciliation agreement was welcomed by environmental groups. "Members of the European Parliament have successfully fought off attempts by governments to re-nationalise groundwater protection," said the EEB's EU Policy Director Stefan Scheuer. "They ensured that preventing pollution and achieving quality standards is robust and legally binding."

Links

EU official documents

EU actors positions

Carbon Dioxide Finds a Market in the North Sea


Thanks to Norbert for this one

Carbon Dioxide Finds a Market in the North Sea by Peter Fairley
New technologies make concentrated CO2 for enhancing oil extraction. The problem: a lack of carbon dioxide.

http://www.technologyreview.com/BizTech/17892/

Sargas's high-pressure equipment is compact enough for use offshore; it supplies power and CO2 directly to aging oil fields.
Credit: Sargas



Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Carbon Dioxide Finds a Market in the North Sea
New technologies make concentrated CO2 for enhancing oil extraction. The problem: a lack of carbon dioxide.
By Peter Fairley
The North Sea is emerging as a center of development of carbon capture and storage technology, and it's not just because of the region's tightening regulation of greenhouse gases. The main attraction is the North Sea's rapidly-maturing offshore oil reservoirs, which offer both a place to store carbon dioxide from fossil-fueled power plants and an opportunity to use it to increase oil extraction. Oil production is slowing as many of the North Sea wells mature, and carbon dioxide pumped down the hole can loosen up and release the remaining oil.

Several oil giants, including BP, Shell and Norway's Statoil, recently announced plans to build new power plants designed to convert North Sea natural gas into hydrogen, burn the hydrogen to produce electricity, and ship the resulting carbon dioxide to offshore oil wells. BP expects to produce an extra 40 million barrels of oil as a result of its plant between 2010 when the plant starts and 2030.

Meanwhile, an Oslo-based startup, Sargas SA, has secured industrial backers to build a coal-fired power plant in Norway using a new technology called pressurized combustion that co-produces power and carbon dioxide; it plans to sell its CO2 to offshore drilling sites. Before that, Sargas hopes to begin building a smaller plant early in 2007 that could be the prototype for offshore platforms producing power and CO2 where they're needed most: out in the North Sea oil fields.

"There is a real economic driver for the use of the CO2 for enhance oil recovery," says MIT process design expert Gregory McRae, who is tracking developments in carbon capture. "Its an incredibly exciting time."

Using industrial CO2 to enhance oil recovery could squeeze an extra 7.3 billion barrels of oil from the North Sea and simultaneously stow away 10 billion metric tons ofcarbon dioxide, according to a December 2005 study by the European Commission's Institute for Energy. The latter is the equivalent of stopping Europe's greenhouse gases releases for two and a half years.

What is holding up full development of the use of carbon dioxide for enhancing oil recovery is, ironically, a dearth of CO2. Dozens of natural gas and coal-fired power plants ringing the North Sea produce plenty, but capturing it is expensive because the CO2 in the flu gas is at very low pressure and concentration (most of the exhaust from a conventional planet is actually nitrogen gas carried through from the air used to fire the fuel). Carbon capture is estimated to add a 30 percent to 50 percent premium to the cost of producing electricity.

BP, Shell and Statoil's solution to the problem is a new plant design. Instead of just burning natural gas, the plants will use a chemical process called reforming to convert the fuel into concentrated streams of pure hydrogen and CO2. The hydrogen will be burned to produce electricity, while the CO2 would be pressurized and sent by pipeline to offshore oil platforms to be pumped into the hydrocarbon reservoirs below.


Sargas seeks instead to make the capture of carbon dioxide more efficient by cranking up the pressure. Its plants would burn gas or coal at high pressures, thus yielding a high-pressure exhaust in which the CO2 pressure is about 20 times higher than in a conventional coal plant. That pressure makes separating the CO2 from nitrogen and left-over oxygen in the exhaust far less costly.

Last week a consortium of companies in Norway including aluminum giant Alcan (a major power consumer) and Norwegian energy firm Norsk Hydro announced plans to build a 400-megawatt coal-fired power plant using Sargas' design; startup is targeted for 2011. Dale Simbeck, vice president of technology for Mountain View, CA-based energy consultancy SFA Pacific, calls it a "clever scheme" because coal is relatively cheap, while the high pressure system will help contain the cost of capturing the CO2. "What they're doing can make sense," says Simbeck.

Tor Christensen of Sargas says the company is working with a major United States-based oil and gas producer to exploit another feature of high-pressure combustion: the system's compact design. For a given power output Sargas' generators handle a volume of gas 40-50 times smaller than would a conventional plant. As a result the equipment is more compact—compact enough to put a 100-megawatt natural gas-fired plant on an offshore platform. "It's not much for an offshore platform," says Christensen of the 5,000 metric ton design. "A single crane can lift the whole thing."

McRae says the idea should be attractive for oil and gas producers. For one thing, Sargas' plants will capture CO2 on-site, eliminating the need to ship CO2 from shore. For another, they will serve the platform's power needs better than the diesel generators and relatively small gas turbines used today. "One of the big problems with offshore oil platforms is the power supply that you need to pump the oil and process the gas that comes out the ground. Sargas will allow you to get much larger power in a smaller space," says McRae.

Christensen says Sargas' goal is to deliver CO2 to oil platforms at roughly $20 per metric ton and, as a rule of thumb, each metric ton of CO2 should yield two or three extra barrels of oil. If oil prices stay high, says Christensen, "there's a tremendous amount of money to be made."

Copyright Technology Review 2006.

EU lawmakers adopt controversial REACH chemical bill


EU lawmakers adopt controversial REACH chemical bill

AFP, 13 December 2006 - European lawmakers definitively adopted Wednesday tough new rules on the use of hazardous chemicals, passing one of the EU's most ambitious and hotly disputed legislative packages in years.

The bill, derided by ecologists and industry but praised by consumer groups, aims to ensure that 30,000 chemicals -- in products ranging from cleaners to toys to plastics -- no longer present risks to human health or the environment.

The parliamentarians overwhelmingly approved the legislation on its second reading by a majority of 529 votes for and 98 against, ending more than three years of lobbying and political wrangling.

The main groups in the Strasbourg assembly -- the conservatives, socialists and liberal democrats all voted in favour, while the greens opposed the measures for being too favourable to industry.

After the vote, a beaming parliamentary rapporteur, Italian MEP Guido Sacconi, was handed a bouquet of flowers amid warm applause.

The so-called REACH regulation (registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals) will oblige companies to register all chemicals they use and provide information about them as well as any potential hazards.

It means that companies will now shoulder the burden of proving that their chemicals are safe. The current 40-year-old system has obliged public authorities to prove that such products are dangerous.

Of the estimated 100,000 substances on the European market, only those introduced since 1981 -- a mere 3,000 or so -- have been studied for their nocive effects.

The European Union's Finnish presidency applauded the yes vote. "This is a historic day," said Finnish Trade and Industry Minister Mauri Pekkarinen.

"The chemicals regulation will reform the entire EU chemicals legislation and will turn Europe into a global forerunner and trailblazer," he said.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said REACH "will increase our knowledge about chemicals, enhance safety, and spur innovation while encouraging substitution of highly dangerous substances by safer ones."

But an alliance of environmental and women's groups said the final package was only a modest step in the direction of what was needed, and still contained loopholes that the chemicals industry could jump through.

"Major loopholes in REACH will still allow many chemicals that can cause serious health problems -- including cancer, birth defects and reproductive illnesses -- to continue being used in manufacturing and consumer goods." they said in a statement.

Greens MEP Caroline Lucas said: "This deal is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry, rewarding it for its intense and underhand lobbying campaign."

"While the legislative text has been agreed, the devil will be in the detail of the implementation of these rules," she said.

Indeed the industry, led by German giant BASF, did push hard. But non-governmental organisations also lobbied in spectacular fashion, at one stage taking blood tests of parliamentarians to show the presence of toxic substances even after they had been banned.

"We regret the unnecessary requirements added to the authorisation element of REACH," said Alain Perroy, head of the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), in a statement.

"The European chemical industry will see REACH as an opportunity to demonstrate that companies have a solid knowledge of chemicals and strong product management practices to ensure chemical safety," he said.

Europe's main consumer group BEUC generally welcomed the text itself but worried about how it would be implemented.

"The adoption of REACH is not the end of the story: what has been agreed must now be implemented properly and we will actively monitor the situation," warned director Jim Murray.

Newly rich Asians to treble greenhouse gas emissions in 25 years: study


Newly rich Asians to treble greenhouse gas emissions in 25 years: study

AFP, 14 December 2006 - Fast-rising family incomes and brisk demand for cars will treble Asia's greenhouse gas emissions over the next 25 years, according to a study backed by the Asian Development Bank and released Thursday.

The report, "Energy Efficiency and Climate Change: Considerations for On-Road Transport in Asia," presents one of the first comprehensive analyses of the relationships between transport and climate change in Asia, Philippines-based ADB said in a statement.

Even under the most optimistic current scenarios for road traffic expansion management, emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the Asian transport sector will treble over the next 25 years, the study said.

At the same time, local air pollution and congestion from transport will rise to levels that seriously hamper the ability to move people and goods in an effective manner, it added.

Emerging Asia currently has rather low levels of personal motorized transport, in many cases comprising mainly motorcycles, the bank said. But these levels are likely to increase drastically as incomes in these countries grow and the urban population expands, it added.

It cited fast-growing China, already the world's fourth largest economy, where the number of cars and sport utility vehicles could grow by as much as 15 times the present level over the next 30 years to more than 190 million vehicles.

In India, the growth could be as much as 13 times, it added.

Correspondingly, carbon dioxide emissions from these vehicles could be expected to rise by 3.4 times for China and 5.8 times for India over the same period, the study said.

"Progress toward reducing the growth of greenhouse gases from the transport sector will require partnerships and involvement of a wide range of stakeholders," Bindu Lohani, director-general of ADB's sustainable development department, wrote in its foreword.

Addressing these problems effectively would mean "changing existing travel behavior patterns and modifying urban development patterns to minimize the type, length, and frequency of trips that people need to take," he added.

The book was prepared under the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities with support from ADB.

GENI-us Letter - December 2006


Thanks to Brian for this one. You can go ahead and subscribe to this newsletter using the link below...

GENI INVITES YOUR PARTNERSHIP
GLOBAL ENERGY GRID

 
D e c e m b e r — 2 0 0 6
The GENI-us Letter


Russia linking energy grids to China and the Koreas
and
The Renewable Energy Potential of India

Dear GENI Friend,

What seemed impossible a decade ago is rapidly becoming the norm. For years, GENI has been prodding the energy providers of the Far East to integrate their electric grids for mutual benefit. Given the nations involved, this seemed like a great idea — with no one listening.

Cooperation between these nations is now usurping the old competitive, militaristic model. Electricity underpins our modern society, and the interconnection of grids across borders builds a 24/7 trade relationship that is mutually beneficial. As you can see in the attached reports, Russia is pursuing electrical exchanges with both China and the two Koreas. For over a decade, GENI has worked with engineers Lev Belyaev and Nikolai Voropai at the Irkutsk Siberian Energy Institute to drive these projects from plans to actual projects. The credit goes to the engineers, plus energy and foreign ministries on all sides.

The second most populated world region is the Indian subcontinent, which is experiencing tremendous economic growth amid widespread poverty. To meet both these challenges, GENI's goal is to encourage all nations to accelerate their renewable energy sectors. India is the only nation to have a dedicated Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. With research by Eleonore Queneudec, GENI published an Overview of the Renewable Energy Potential of India (1.3MB .pdf download). The key finding: India has sufficient renewable energy resource potential to meet all domestic electrical needs.

The daily news we read and see can often mask these positive trends. We are encouraged with this progress. Cooperative behavior is a solution to so many of the world's ills — in our homes, communities and between nations.

Happy Holidays

Peter Meisen

President

p.s. Please view and share the GENI video on-line at: www.youtube.com/group/geni (rank the video by clicking on the right–hand star)

p.p.s. Please consider renewing your GENI pledge. It will make a real difference in our work.

If you received this letter from a friend and would prefer getting GENI's monthly electronic newsletter directly, click on "Subscribe to GENI Newsletter"


The Global Energy Network Institute focuses on the interconnection of electric power networks between nations and continents, with an emphasis on tapping abundant renewable energy resources. This strategy is the highest priority of the World Game simulation developed by Dr. Buckminster Fuller three decades ago.

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Environmental harm hurts GDP: World Bank


Environmental harm hurts GDP: World Bank

GLOBE-Net, 7 December 2006 - Poor governance and policies are leading to environmental degradation that is costing many developing countries 4 to 8 percent of their annual GDP, says the World Bank in its annual publication on sustainable development. Strengthening management of water, forests, fisheries, and other natural resources is vital to enhancing overall wealth, says the report.

Environment Matters is an annual review of the Bank's environmental activities. The 2006 edition focuses on the challenges of accountability and transparency in promoting environmental management. Without these features to ensure that good institutions, policies, and governance are in place to achieve results, development efforts will be hindered by reduced water and soil quality, depleted forests and fisheries, and other problems that threaten the health and livelihoods of millions of people, says the report.

The Bank estimates that in poorer countries, natural resources make up 25 percent of total wealth, compared to 16 percent for produced goods and services. Poor governance and oversight of these resources threatens the economic well being of many countries. Corrupt and illegal practices related to logging, fisheries, and biodiversity are estimated to cause losses of $30 billion per year.

The report includes an overview of forest governance challenges and illegal logging. The Bank estimates the market value of global annual losses from illegal cutting of forests in public lands at over $10 billion, and that a further $5 billion per year is lost due to uncollected taxes and royalties on legally sanctioned timber harvests due to corruption.

Illegal fishing is also a major issue in many countries, with illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing totalling roughly $9.5 billion worldwide. Such activities increase over fishing and deplete wild fish stocks, threatening the livelihood of many of the world's poor that depend on the ocean as a source of food and income.

The report also looks at the promotion of good water governance, an essential ingredient for development. Water resource management faces specific challenges in water-scarce areas, where there is intense competition among users and among different types of use (agriculture versus tourist development, for example, or agriculture versus in-stream flows to protect the environment). This results in over extraction of aquifers and overuse of surface waters. Scarcity also concentrates pollution loads.

The report confirms that a healthy, diverse natural environment is necessity for creating growth and prosperity, particularly in developing countries. Even in emerging economic superpowers such as China, environmental degradation threatens growth, costing an astounding US $2 billion per year according to the State Environmental Protection Agency, representing roughly 10 percent of gross domestic product.

It is no doubt a challenge for developing countries to place a high priority on environmental protection when also faced with the problems of severe poverty.

The United Nations, the World Bank, and other organizations have long endorsed a development strategy that unites social, environmental, and economic concerns. Industrialised countries can contribute to positive development by ensuring that third-world resources are not over-exploited at the expense of the environment. Choosing a proper style of development will benefit the entire world in the long run by creating a strong foundation for economic welfare in all countries, says the Bank's report.

Mileage from Megawatts: Enough Grid Capacity to Charge Plug-In Vehicles


Mileage from Megawatts: Enough Grid Capacity to Charge Plug-In Vehicles

GreenBiz.com, 12 December 2006 - If all the cars and light trucks in the nation switched from oil to electrons, idle capacity in the existing electric power system could generate most of the electricity consumed by plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

A new study for the Department of Energy finds that "off-peak" electricity production and transmission capacity could fuel 84 percent of the country's 220 million vehicles if they were plug-in hybrid electrics.

Researchers at DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory also evaluated the impact of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, on foreign oil imports, the environment, electric utilities and the consumer.

"This is the first review of what the impacts would be of very high market penetrations of PHEVs, said Eric Lightner, of DOE's Office of Electric Delivery and Energy Reliability. "It's important to have this baseline knowledge as consumers are looking for more efficient vehicles, automakers are evaluating the market for PHEVs and battery manufacturers are working to improve battery life and performance."

Current batteries for these cars can easily store the energy for driving the national average commute - about 33 miles round trip a day, so the study presumes that drivers would charge up overnight when demand for electricity is much lower.

Researchers found, in the Midwest and East, there is sufficient off-peak generation, transmission and distribution capacity to provide for all of today's vehicles if they ran on batteries. However, in the West, and specifically the Pacific Northwest, there is limited extra electricity because of the large amount of hydroelectric generation that is already heavily utilized. Since more rain and snow can't be ordered, it's difficult to increase electricity production from the hydroelectric plants.

“We were very conservative in looking at the idle capacity of power generation assets," said PNNL scientist Michael Kintner-Meyer. “The estimates didn't include hydro, renewables or nuclear plants. It also didn't include plants designed to meet peak demand because they don't operate continuously. We still found that across the country 84 percent of the additional electricity demand created by PHEVs could be met by idle generation capacity."

“Since gasoline consumption accounts for 73 percent of imported oil, it is intriguing to think of the trade and national security benefits if our vehicles switched from oil to electrons,” added PNNL energy researcher Rob Pratt. “Plus, since the utilities would be selling more electricity without having to build more plants or power lines, electricity prices could go down for everyone.”

Lightner noted that “the study suggests the idle capacity of the electric power grid is an underutilized national asset that could be tapped to vastly reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The study also looked at the impact on the environment of an all-out move to PHEVs. The added electricity would come from a combination of coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants. Even with today's power plants emitting greenhouse gases, the overall levels would be reduced because the entire process of moving a car one mile is more efficient using electricity than producing gasoline and burning it in a car's engine.

Total sulfur dioxide emissions would increase in the near term due to sulfur content in coal. However, urban air quality would actually improve since the pollutants are emitted from power plants that are generally located outside cities. In the long run, according to the report, the steady demand for electricity is likely to result in investments in much cleaner power plants, even if coal remains the dominant fuel for our electricity production.

“With cars charging overnight, the utilities would get a new market for their product. PHEVs would increase residential consumption of electricity by about 30 - 40 percent. The increased generation could lead to replacing aging coal-fired plants sooner with newer, more environmentally friendly versions,” said Kintner-Meyer.

“The potential for lowering greenhouse gases further is quite substantial because it is far less expensive to capture emissions at the smokestack than the tailpipe. Vehicles are one of the most intractable problems facing policymakers seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Pratt.

Finally, the study looked at the economic impact on consumers. Since, PHEVs are expected to cost about $6,000 to $10,000 more than existing vehicles - mostly due to the cost of batteries -- researchers evaluated how long it might take owners to break even on fuel costs. Depending on the price of gas and the cost of electricity, estimates range from five to eight years - about the current lifespan of a battery. Pratt notes that utilities could offer a lower price per kilowatt hour on off-peak power, making PHEVs even more attractive to consumers.

Adding “smart grid” communications technology to ensure the vehicles only charge during off-peak periods and to provide immediate, remote disconnect of chargers in event of problems in the power grid would make them attractive to utilities.

14.12.06

Study Forecasts Explosive Growth in Voluntary Carbon Offsets Market


Study Forecasts Explosive Growth in Voluntary Carbon Offsets Market
Source:
GreenBiz.com

LONDON, Dec. 5, 2006 - Voluntary carbon markets are growing at breakneck pace, but could be stymied by a lack of credibility and other factors, according to a new report.

However, according to Voluntary Carbon Offsets Market: Outlook 2007, published by
ICF International, the voluntary carbon offsets market is still quite small compared to the market for project offsets that companies can use for compliance purposes under the Kyoto Protocol.

The World Bank estimates that in 2005 the market for voluntary carbon offsets made up less than 10 million metric tons (Mt) of CO2e, or less than 1 percent of global carbon market transactions and less than 1 percent of the total market value of US$11 million. The International Emissions Trading Association and World Bank estimate that the market for carbon credits has increased to US$ 2.3 billion in the first nine months of 2006 and that the overall carbon market is now worth more than US$21.5 billion.

The market is experiencing significant growth as companies not subject to caps on carbon emissions decide voluntarily to offset some or all of their emissions from a variety of sources directly or indirectly related to their business activities. A variety of obstacles could, however, impede the market's future growth.

"To continue its recent explosive growth, the voluntary carbon market must decisively address the significant persistent challenges of credibility, fragmentation, and overlap with the mandatory carbon emissions market," said Eric Lounsbury, carbon market analyst in ICF's London Office. "The emerging standards for project development and verification are a positive sign that the voluntary market is ready to take the next step in its maturation and development. The market will, however, need to adapt to meet increased stakeholder expectations on environmental integrity and to maintain its niche alongside the market for Kyoto-compliant carbon credits."

"Our analysis examines several scenarios for the evolution of the market for voluntary carbon offsets, and our base case forecasts global demand of around 400 Mt of CO2e per year by 2010," said Abyd Karmali, managing director for ICF's European operations. “Market drivers among the different categories of buyers are diverse and include reputation, experience, and principle. Some companies not subject to caps are low emitters and face inherently high costs of reducing emissions, but nevertheless wish to build a reputation for environmental stewardship and are choosing offsetting as one of the components in their climate strategy. Others recognize that participating in voluntary carbon markets is excellent preparation for future life under a mandatory cap-and-trade scheme. Some companies that have begun to use offsets are doing so based on the principle that it is a means of sharing the responsibility for managing emissions between producers and consumers. We see rapid growth in each segment.”

13.12.06

Cooled By Sun And Salt


Thanks to Norbert for this one

Content:

http://www.time.com/time/globalbusiness/article/0,9171,1565559,00.html




DAVID HAMP



Per Olofsson, CEO of Climatewell
From the Magazine | Time Bonus Section January 2007: Global Business

Cooled By Sun And Salt

PER OLOFSSON
By
ADAM SMITH

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2006
If ever there was an innovation unlikely to come out of Sweden, it's this one.

Aiming to squeeze the amount--and cost--of energy used to cool homes and businesses in warm-weather areas, ClimateWell, based in balmy Hägersten, south of Stockholm, is marketing a novel solution: solar-powered air conditioning.

Unlike conventional cooling or heating systems fueled by such nonrenewable energy sources as oil and gas, ClimateWell's CW10 system--which can also warm your home in winter--slashes energy use by effectively running off water heated by the sun. And don't worry if it isn't always sunny: the clever system stores energy for conversion later into cooling or heating.

So how does it work? Air conditioning relies on some form of heat exchange. In this case, it's a thermochemical one between water and salt that takes place in a vacuum. Water evaporating from a tank inside ClimateWell's refrigerator-size unit is absorbed by salt housed in a connected tank the water molecules can't resist sticking to the salt, turning it into a slurry. As water evaporates, it gives up energy, which is then released inside the salt tank. The result of the energy transfer: the water becomes colder as the salt heats up. Pipe water through the slurry into radiators, and the system can heat the home; circulating the cold water will cool it.

Solar panels provide the energy needed to ensure continual cooling. The idea has been agonized over since the mid-'90s by Ray Olsson, ClimateWell's head of innovation, and as engineered by chief technology officer Goran Bölin, heat from water connected to the solar panels dries and crystallizes the salt, evaporating the water absorbed in it and storing energy inside the salt for as long as it is needed. As soon as water is remixed with the salt, that energy is released, again cooling the water tank.

The technology isn't cheap: installing the ClimateWell system costs roughly $25,000 in Spain, $10,000 more than standard combined heating and cooling systems. But going solar would slice $130 off the monthly energy bill of a standard home, says Per Olofsson, CEO of ClimateWell. And with electricity and gas prices rocketing, users would be "much less vulnerable to fluctuations in the future." Moreover, without leaning heavily on traditional sources of fuel (the pumps forcing the salt and water around the machine are electric but use only 100 watts), the average home could reduce carbon dioxide output by 13 tons a year.

But will home and building owners make the trade-off? The firm has launched its product in Spain, targeting the developers of some 200,000 single-family homes it says are being built in the country each year. Olofsson expects the first ClimateWell systems to be running in 2008-09, and says homes and businesses in warmer climates from Indonesia to South America offer great potential for the company. "Our core value is to find solutions that enable people to live lives they live today, but in a sustainable way," he says. "Changing behavior is more difficult than changing technology."

From the Dec. 11, 2006 issue of TIME magazine