Tuesday 19 January 2010

Ocean Energy Could Reach up to 200 Gigawatts of Power Generation Capacity by 2025, According to Pike Research


BOULDER, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The world's oceans represent a vast untapped resource for renewable energy generation, and a host of technology companies are emerging to pursue the great frontier of hydrokinetic power. According to a recent report from Pike Research, if ocean energy trial projects are successful in the next few years, this new industry could represent a significant new source of electricity, reaching up to 200 gigawatts (GW) of installed generation capacity by 2025.

"The ocean energy business is right on the cusp," says managing director Clint Wheelock. "The industry is still in a proof-of-concept phase for several key technologies, and the outcome of early pilot projects will determine whether wave energy, tidal energy, and other technologies are ready for prime time." Wheelock adds that more than 300 hydrokinetic projects are already in the works around the world.

According to Pike Research's scenario-based forecasting model for the ocean energy industry, technological success and the right regulatory environment could yield global power generation capacity of up to 200 GW by 2025. On the other hand, if early projects have limited success, are too costly, or do not enjoy a favorable public policy regime, the marine renewable sector could be relegated to niche status, reaching no more than 25 GW in global capacity by 2025.

Pike Research's study, "Hydrokinetic and Ocean Energy", assesses the market opportunity for five main types of marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies: ocean wave, tidal stream, river hydrokinetic, ocean current, and ocean thermal. The report includes an examination of business drivers, regulatory issues, implementation challenges, and the competitive landscape, along with detailed market forecasts for each technology through 2025. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm's website.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Carbon Trading Markets. Capture vs Emissions Trading

The connection between carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and the carbon emissions trading market is growing, as carbon credits accrued from CCS plants will be traded at carbon exchanges, generating more revenue for CCS project developers, according to a new report from ABI Research.
ABI’s study, “Carbon Capture, Sequestration and Emissions Trading: The Outlook for Global Carbon Markets,” evaluates two leading market mechanisms — CCS and carbon emissions trading — for reducing carbon emissions.
ABI Research says CCS allows heavy industries responsible for the greatest amount of carbon emissions to use new technologies to capture the CO2 they generate and store it safely for long periods. The market research firm projects that $14.6 billion will be invested in 73 new CCS projects that will prevent 146 million tons of CO2 from 2009 to 2014.
A recent audit of the world’s CCS projects, conducted by Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, indicates that carbon capture and storage could lower CO2 emissions by about 19 percent.
In carbon emissions trading, governmental or regulatory bodies issue a limited number of allowances or offsets that allow companies to legally release carbon dioxide, but if the emissions exceed a company’s number of allowances, it must buy or trade for more, or face stiff penalties, says ABI.
The market researcher forecasts that the global carbon emissions trading market will reach $395 billion in 2014, more than three times the $118 billion in allowances traded in 2008
Atakan Ozbek, the study’s author, says in a press release that carbon emission credits need to reach the price of at least $40 per ton of CO2-equivalent for CCS projects to reach commercial status, together with effective policies and regulations and advances in both carbon capture and storage technologies.
A similar study shows that the financial impact of regulating coal-fired power plants that produce carbon dioxide emissions under a cap-and-trade system is much less than previously projected, and a CCS option could keep the price of carbon credits low. This report finds that for coal-fired plants the break-even price for the adoption of CCS technology is just $25 to $30 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions.

Forestation Projects

While nearly $150 million has been spent to date on carbon offsets from planting trees and preserving forests, the market is in a precipitous position.
Passage of a U.S. climate bill or a meaningful global climate deal would push the market to new heights. Without such government help, the market is likely to languish, perhaps even wither, according to the State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2009 report (PDF) from EcoSystem Marketplace.
At the Copenhagen talks, nations promised a $3.5 billion international scheme to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), with the U.S. alone pledging $1 billion, reports Reuters.
In 2008, the market for carbon offsets was $37.1 million, down 8 percent from the $40.5 million in 2007. Still, in 2006 the market was worth $7.6 million.
Prices for forest carbon offsets have ranged from $0.65/ tCO2 to more than $50/ tCO2, with a volume-weighted average price of $7.88/ tCO2.
The highest prices have come from the compliance markets, where the volume-weighted price average is $10.24/ tCO2 over time. The voluntary OTC market averaged $8.44/ tCO2 and the CCX was $3.03/ tCO2.

Monday 11 January 2010

The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa


The idea that China is only involved in Africa to seek raw materials - oil in particular - is just one of the many common myths circulating in the West which are shattered in The Dragon's Gift, a fascinating and comprehensive guide by Deborah Brautigam to China's growing influence in Africa. 

As a Nigerian diplomat told the author: "The Chinese are trying to get involved in every sector of our economy. If you look at the West, it's oil, oil, oil and nothing else." 

And, as Brautigam points out, Chinese investment in African manufacturing industry has outstripped investment in mining for the past five years. 

Whereas the West - both via private investment and aid projects - has been pulling out of African manufacturing over recent decades, China believes that developing industrial capacity is crucial to overcoming the poverty trap resulting from reliance on the import of expensive industrial goods and export of cheaper raw materials. 

China's own experience since 1979 would seem to confirm this point, but China has always been reluctant to push its own development model onto other countries. 

Indeed, part of the Chinese experience of poverty reduction has been the need to adapt plans and models to the local situation. For this reason, Chinese aid to Africa has always been based on the principle that the needs are identified by the host country, not by China, whose role is then to negotiate with the host how exactly those needs can be met. 

Not that China's involvement in Africa is solely altruistic, of course. Indeed, ever since Zhou Enlai's groundbreaking trip to the continent in 1964, "mutual benefit" has been explicitly outlined as one of the key principles of Chinese aid. As a developing country, whose per capita income was still barely higher than that of Mozambique some 20 years later, there seems little reason this should be otherwise. "We are poor brothers helping one another," as one Chinese diplomat put it. 

Mutual benefit today means that, in exchange for building African industrial and social infrastructure, China is gaining markets for heavy machinery and pharmaceutical products - amongst others - and contracts for its construction companies. 

Frequently, Chinese building firms stay on in Africa after completion of a Chinese-funded aid project and win other private contracts. These are often contracts for projects funded by other aid donors as well. 

Another myth that frequently abounds about China's role in Africa is that its no-strings attached policy, in contrast to the West's conditional aid, facilitates corruption and human rights abuses. 

But, as Brautigam points out, the way China actually delivers aid or commercial investment projects actually helps to limit corruption because unlike the World Bank and other donors, Chinese grants and loans rarely get into the hands of recipient governments. 

A project is negotiated and agreed and the money then usually gets paid directly from the Chinese bank to the Chinese construction company in charge of delivering the project, thus limiting the opportunities for government officials to take cuts along the line. 

In this way, says Brautigam, Africa's resources might actually begin to pay for infrastructure and development, rather than simply being used as cash cows for the private enrichment of people like Congo's Mobutu or Nigeria's Abacha. 

The £4 billion loan recently made to the Congo, for example, will not be paid in cash, but in the form of power plants, a repaired water supply, 32 hospitals, 145 health centres, two hydroelectric dams, two large universities, two vocational training centres, thousands of cheap houses and thousands of kilometres of railway. It will be paid back in copper and cobalt way down the line. 

Yet reading some Western press reports, one would imagine it was the other way round, with an angelic West busy trying to bring human rights and transparent governance to Africa while a recalcitrant China has been just as busily undermining all its hallowed efforts. 

Beijing's no-strings-attached policy does mean that they will do business with pretty much anyone, but they are hardly the first to have done business with dictators. 

Despite all the uproar over China's engagement with Sudan and Zimbabwe, Brautigam points out that the biggest customer of Sudanese oil in 2006 was Japan, not China, and that Western companies such as Barclays and Anglo-American have continued to operate in Zimbabwe throughout its difficulties. 

And the no-strings policy has been crucial in providing African governments with a source of finance which does not insist on neoliberal policies with a proven track record of failure. 

The IMF and World Bank's insistence on slashing social spending and opening markets has been disastrous for Africa, and any alternative is surely welcome. 

Brautigam is no naively gung-ho Sinophile and she does point out possible dangers that lie ahead in China's relationship with Africa, especially in areas such as agriculture. 

For this reason and by employing meticulous research - the footnotes stretch to 65 pages - she is already legions ahead of most Western commentators on the subject. 

You are unlikely to find a more thorough, comprehensive and open-minded account of the subject.

(source: MorningStarOnline.co.uk)

Friday 8 January 2010

Mozambique: First Stone Laid for Solar Panel Factory


Mozambique and India are investing 10 million US dollars in building a factory to manufacture solar panels in the Belulune Industrial Park, on the outskirts of Maputo.

Energy Minister Salvador Namburete laid the first stone for the new factory on Thursday. Construction is expected to take a year. When it is operating, the factory will employ 70 people, include 15 engineers trained in India.

Namburete said that initially the raw materials for assembling the solar panels will be imported from India, but he hoped that later Mozambican companies can be identified who can manufacture some of the components.

Currently Mozambique imports the solar panels used to provide electricity for schools, health posts and other public institutions that are not linked to the national electricity grid.

Namburete said that the initiative to build the factory arises as part of the government’s strategy to use all available energy resources, including solar power and other renewable energies, for the country’s development.

This was only the first factory, he added, since it could not possibly serve the entire country. “We want this initiative to be repeated in other parts of Mozambique,” Namburete stressed.

(source: AIM NEW)

Thursday 7 January 2010

CO2 to Biodiesel via Algae

Algae Cultivation Near Power Plant

Algae live on a high concentration of carbon dioxide-the Green house gas (GHG), nitrogen dioxide (NO2)-a pollutant of power plants and diesel exhaust. These pollutants in the atmosphere from the automobiles, cement plants, breweries, fertilizer plants, steel plants are nutrients for the algae. Algae production facilities can thus be fed with the exhaust gases from fossil fuels of these plants to significantly increase productivity and clean up the air.

Algae thrive on a high concentration of carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a pollutant of power plants, is a nutrient for the algae. Algae production facilities can thus be fed exhaust gases from fossil fuel power plants to significantly increase productivity and clean up the air.

Inventure Chemical and Seambiotic have announced that they have formed a joint venture to construct a pilot commercial biofuel plant with algae created from CO2 emissions as a feedstock. The plant will use algae strains that Seambiotic has developed coupled with conversion processes developed by Inventure to created ethanol, biodiesel and other chemicals.

Flow Diagram for Microalgae Production with Introduction of CO2 from Fossil Fuel Fired Power Plants.

Zero Carbon Homes

Bill Dunster an innovative British Architect has devised a coherent system build approach to zero carbon, ultra-low energy homes.

In fact they will produce surplus power from their Solar Thermal hot water system, the Solar PV roof system, the passive zero energy air 'conditioning' system and the vertical axis low profile wind turbines just for starters.

Combined with very high levels of thermal insulation these homes can be built in the hottest or coldest climates. With a system approach these Zero Carbon homes could be built 'conveyor belt' style anywhere in the world with the right supply chain. A true 'House Factory'.

They can also be established with communication systems to allow small business and enterprise to flourish in basement or 'office' zones. Designed with communities in mind, Bill has created the human scale answer to effcient home building.

Talk to us about this type of approach. Its clean and its highly efficient.

SEE Ethos

Sun Earth Energy utilises several interconnected strategies for a cleaner, leaner and greener environment.

  • Power and Heat Generation
  • Energy Conservation and Efficiencies
  • Education and Understanding
  • Collaboration

Power and Heat Generation:

Generation of Electricity is vital for the development of all types of economy from emerging to mature. However electrical generation normally is accompanyed by "waste" heat from the process.

By re-directing that heat we can provide, heating for domestic hot water, process heat for industry and even chilled water for air conditioning. 

This makes the production of ENERGY our primary goal. In the form of electricity, heat, cooling or even mechanical work (pumps and compressors). Most utilities are only concerned with the production of electricity, leaving some 60%-80% of the energy go to waste.

By generating energy from wind, solar-thermal, wave, geo-thermal, bio-mass etc, and combining this with a variety of energy storage solutions, such as compressed air, batteries, stored heat, and directly to end users we are able to provide dependable energy solutions mostly with a ZERO CARBON footprint.

Energy Conservation and Efficiencies
But our solutions are not limited to renewable energy. Indeed it is a practical issue that needs to be considered. Oil and Gas are here for a long time yet. Refinery Products such as petrol are 'hard-wired' into every aspect of every economy on the planet. We cannot change that overnight.

However we feel that alternatives are still viable until our stock of motor vehicles are all electric (maybe 50+ years?). LPG or Liquified Petrolem Gas, is a propane/butane mix that can replace petrol in vehicles. Its very much more environmenatly friendly. The EU want 10% of all vehicles to be running on LPG by 2020 (only 1.7% use it at present).

LPG is also a better product for emerging economies, for transport and cooking fuels (rather than cooking with charcol and suchlike). Therefore we support the LPG market as a substitute for petrol and inefficient cooking fuels, as a cleaner alternative.

These are only an introduction to our strategic take on energy. We can help emerging nations to formulate coherent policies on energy and the environment. We are active in Africa and are keen to build commercial scale generation capacity for the next 10 years.

Contact us with your support and to hear more about our strategy.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Better sewage treatment is the latest thing in clean energy


WHERE there's muck, there's brass—or so the old saying has it. The cynical may suggest this refers to the question of who gets what, but thoughtful readers may be forgiven for wondering, while they are recovering from the excesses of Christmas in the smallest room in the house, what exactly happens when they flush the toilet.

The answer is encouraging. Less and less waste, these days, is actually allowed to go to waste. Instead, it is used to generate biogas, a methane-rich mixture that can be employed for heating and for the generation of electricity. Moreover, in an age concerned with the efficient use of energy, technological improvements are squeezing human fecal matter to release every last drop of the stuff. Making biogas means doing artificially to faeces what would happen to them naturally if they were simply dumped into the environment or allowed to degrade in the open air at a traditional sewage farm—namely, arranging for them to be chewed up by bacteria. Capturing the resulting methane has a double benefit. As well as yielding energy, it also prevents what is a potent greenhouse gas from being released into the atmosphere.

Several groups are testing ways of making the process by which faeces are digested into methane more efficient. GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water, a British utility company, uses heat. Instead of running at body temperature, the firm's process first stews the excrement at 40°C for several days. It then transfers the fermenting liquid to a tank that is five degrees cooler.

This two-tank system produces more methane than conventional methods because different strains of bacteria, which chew up different components of faeces, work better at different temperatures. The result of giving diverse groups of bugs a chance to operate in their ideal environments is, according to Mohammed Saddiq, GENeco's boss, about 30% more methane from a given amount of excrement.

In Germany a team at the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart, led by Walter Trösch, is using a different approach. Dr Trösch has reduced the amount of time it takes to digest sewage from two weeks to one, by employing a pumped mixing system. This works faster than traditional methods for two reasons. The first is that stirring the sludge causes methane to bubble to the surface faster. From the bacterial point of view, methane is just as much of a waste product as faeces are from the human viewpoint. Encouraging this poison to escape allows the bacteria to survive longer and thus produce yet more methane.

The second reason is that mixing the sludge moves bacteria away from chunks that they have been digesting and on to "fresher" material that has not had as much bacterial contact. The result is a quicker digestion of the whole. The Fraunhofer pump system, which has already been deployed in 20 sewage plants in Brazil, Germany and Portugal, needs to operate for only a few hours a day, so does not require a large amount of energy.

Sadly, that is not true of the approach used by researchers at the Tema Institute in Linkoping University, Sweden. They are developing a technique that employs ultrasound, rather than pumps, to break up the sludge. This increases methane yields by 13% but, at the moment, the process of generating the ultrasound consumes more energy than it yields.

The consequence of techniques such as these is that an ever-larger proportion of sewage is being used as a raw material for energy generation. Germans already process about 60% of their faeces this way, and the Czechs, Britons and Dutch are close behind (see chart). GENeco reckons the figure in Britain by the end of 2010 will have leapt to 75%—enough, when converted into electricity, to power 350,000 homes. And the latest thinking is to improve yields still further by cutting out the middle man. Faeces are food that has been processed by the human digestive system to extract as much useful energy as possible. An awful lot of waste food, though, never enters anyone's mouth in the first place, and this is an even more promising source of biogas.

In America in particular numerous sewage plants have begun processing undigested food in large quantities over the course of 2009. This is the result of a collaborative policy by the country's Environmental Protection Agency and its Department of Energy, to encourage the recycling of waste food in this way. In Britain, alas, public policy actually discourages such activity. Waste-water facilities there must pasteurise food scraps before they are processed, according to Michael Chesshire, the head of technology at BiogenGreenfinch, a company that modifies sewage digesters to use food scraps. That is a serious waste of brass.

December 31, 2009

US report on stimulus investments in clean energy and the jobs they create


On Tuesday, the Vice President’s office will send Obama a progress report on “The Transformation to A Clean Energy Economy” (PDF). It’s a wide-angle assessment of the stimulus spending that has gone to clean energy projects, the private capital that has been leveraged by those investments, and the jobs that will be saved or created as a result.  The document is fairly short and worth reading; it’s impressive stuff. I want to make a general point or two about it, but first, here are the top line results:

  • Recovery Act investments in renewable generation and advanced energy manufacturing of $23 billion   will likely create 253,000 jobs and leverage over $43 billion in additional investment that could support   up to 469,000 more jobs, putting us on track to meet the goal of doubling our renewable energy   generation, including solar, wind and geothermal, in just 3 years.
  • The Federal Government, partnering with industry, has already committed to invest up to $16 billion in   projects that will transform the transportation sector, including plug-in hybrids, all-electric vehicles and   the infrastructure needed to power them, as well as new clean fuels.
  • The $4 billion in Recovery Act smart grid investments will likely result in 43,000 new jobs, and be matched more than one-to-one by private sector funding that could support up to 61,000 additional jobs on smart grid projects that will reduce cost, increase reliability and give consumers more choice and control over their energy use. An analysis by EPRI estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity usage by more than 4% by 2030.  That would mean annual utility bill savings of $20.4 billion for businesses and consumers around the country.
  • We are on track to weatherize the homes of half a million low income Americans through retrofits by the end of next year. Over the next several years, federal investments will help millions of American families cut their utility bills by making their homes and appliances more energy efficient.
  • We are also setting long overdue standards for everyday appliances like refrigerators, microwaves and washer/dryers.  About two dozen standards will be finalized over the next few years.
  • With Recovery Act funding and existing loan guarantee authority, we are investing over $10 billion in CCS projects, which will secure at least an additional $4 billion in private funds to produce $14 billion of public-private investment in clean coal technology.
  • By the end of our first two years in office, we will have provided conditional commitments for loan guarantees for two nuclear power operators to add three to four new nuclear reactors.
  • In 2010, our budget includes $12.6 billion in funding for key science agencies to support advanced research and development at our national labs and universities. In addition, using $400 million in Recovery Act funds we have started the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) that invests in targeted projects to accelerate the pace of innovation to make advanced energy technologies like energy storage and biofuels dramatically more effective and affordable.

Two general points to make about this stuff:

1. Why not a few victory laps? I worry that in all the anguish about climate legislation and Copenhagen, green activists aren’t doing enough to publicize and build on what the administration is doing. They seem to suffer from the weird impression that celebrating anything that doesn’t completely solve the problem will “let the administration off the hook” by distracting or demotivating people. But social psychology tells us the opposite: people are subject to peer pressure and herding instincts; they like to do what other people are doing. When they hear that other people are investing in energy and efficiency, it will make them moreinclined to do the same, not less. It would be better to create the (self-fulfilling) impression that this kind of thing is mainstream than to keep insisting that nothing worthwhile is being done.

2. Investments and regulatory standards create tangible change in the short-term. Everyone is obsessively focused on the exact mechanism for putting a price on carbon, as if it’s the end-all be-all of climate policy. But no politically realistic price on carbon will bite in any substantial way for the next 5-10 years. In the interim, it’s these kinds of investments and standards that will drive immediate private capital deployment and job creation.

Greens should learn the lesson: fight for stronger complementary policies in climate legislation! Larger investments, tighter efficiency standards, higher renewable energy standards. This is the kind of stuff the spurs short-term action; short-term action is what builds political support; political support is what will allow greens to come back later and improve the carbon pricing system. You need a carbon pricing system as the long term engine, but the policies funded by the stimulus bill are spark plugs.

Carbon Trading May Reach $395B in 2014


The connection between carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and the carbon emissions trading market is growing, as carbon credits accrued from CCS plants will be traded at carbon exchanges, generating more revenue for CCS project developers, according to a new report from ABI Research.

Tuesday 5 January 2010

On The Road To Copenhagen and A World Food Crisis


Does the following analysis sound familiar?

“A weakening U.S. dollar is putting upward pressure on oil prices. The shock produced chaos in the West. In the United States, the retail price of a gallon of gasoline rose 50%, consumption dropped by 6.1% from September to February. Underscoring the interdependence of the world societies and economies, oil-importing nations in the noncommunist industrial world saw sudden inflation and economic recession. The energy crisis led to greater interest in renewable energy and spurred research in solar power and wind power as well as increased interest in mass transit.”

If you said it sounds like 2008, when it took $5.00/gallon gasoline to get Americans to agree to offshore drilling and give up their last Arctic Wilderness, you would be wrong.

It was 1973, when the Arab oil embargo and long gas lines got Americans to authorize the 800 mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline through some of the most pristine country in Alaska.

What would our economy and climate change look like today if we had not chosen to build, build, build the Alaska Pipe Line?

Denmark was also badly hammered by the 1973 Arab oil embargo. But unlike America, it responded to the crisis in such a sustained, focused and systematic way, that today Denmark is energy independent. And it didn’t happen by Danish politicians didn’t make their people stupid by telling them the solution was simply more offshore drilling.

Did Danes suffer from their government shaping the market with energy taxes to stimulate innovations in clean power? In one word, said Connie Hedegaard, Denmark’s minister of climate and energy: “No.” Denmark’s exports of energy efficiency products have tripled.

“It is one of our fastest-growing export areas and the reason that unemployment in Denmark today is 1.6 percent”, said Hedegaard.

And of course Denmark’s solutions addressed climate change 31 years ago.

Read more - http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/18595

Do the impossible - Bertrand Piccard's solar-powered adventure


For the dawn of a new decade, adventurer Bertrand Piccard offers us a challenge: Find motivation in what seems impossible. He shares his own plans to do what many say can't be done -- to fly around the world, nonstop, in a solar-powered aircraft.

Monday 4 January 2010

Market Directions: 2010

Read more under - http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2009/12/market-directions-2010

After a "messy" 2009, the new year may see a steadily growing role for utilities as developers and a continued reliance on federal dollars.

Renewable energy consultant Nadav Enbar may have offered the understatement of the year when he described 2009 as “pretty messy.”

Messy, indeed. Projects were scaled back, postponed or cancelled altogether; sources of finance dried up almost overnight; demand for electricity fell; and natural gas prices remained remarkably low through much of the year playing havoc with project development economic forecasts.

“Development was slow going, particularly for large projects that required upfront capital,” said Enbar, Boulder, Colo.-based research manager for IDC Energy Insight.

Despite the mess — or perhaps because of it — two trends emerged that seem likely to drive renewable energy markets well into 2010.