Green Time

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet - Times Online

From The Times October 27, 2009

Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet
Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas
Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor

People will need to consider turning vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change, according to a leading authority on global warming.
In an interview with The Times, Lord Stern of Brentford said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”
Direct emissions of methane from cows and pigs is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas.
Lord Stern, the author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases.
He predicted that people’s attitudes would evolve until meat eating became unacceptable. “I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating,” he said. “I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student. People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food.”
Lord Stern, a former chief economist of the World Bank and now I. G. Patel Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, warned that British taxpayers would need to contribute about £3 billion a year by 2015 to help poor countries to cope with the inevitable impact of climate change.
He also issued a clear message to President Obama that he must attend the meeting in Copenhagen in person in order for an effective deal to be reached. US leadership, he said, was “desperately needed” to secure a deal.
He said that he was deeply concerned that popular opinion had so far failed to grasp the scale of the changes needed to address climate change, or of the importance of the UN meeting in Copenhagen from December 7 to December 18. “I am not sure that people fully understand what we are talking about or the kind of changes that will be necessary,” he added.
Up to 20,000 delegates from 192 countries are due to attend the UN conference in the Danish capital. Its aim is to forge a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to prevent an increase in global temperatures of more than 2 degrees centigrade. Any increase above this level is expected to trigger runaway climate change, threatening the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
Lord Stern said that Copenhagen presented a unique opportunity for the world to break free from its catastrophic current trajectory. He said that the world needed to agree to halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 25 gigatonnes a year from the current level of 50 gigatonnes.
UN figures suggest that meat production is responsible for about 18 per cent of global carbon emissions, including the destruction of forest land for cattle ranching and the production of animal feeds such as soy.
Lord Stern, who said that he was not a strict vegetarian himself, was speaking on the eve of an all-parliamentary debate on climate change. His remarks provoked anger from the meat industry.
Jonathan Scurlock, of the National Farmers Union, said: “Going vegetarian is not a worldwide solution. It’s not a view shared by the NFU. Farmers in this country are interested in evidence-based policymaking. We don’t have a methane-free cow or pig available to us.”
On average, a British person eats 50g of protein derived from meat each day — the equivalent of a chicken breast or a lamb chop. This is a relatively low level for a wealthy country but between 25 per cent and 50 per cent higher than the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Su Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Vegetarian Society, welcomed Lord Stern’s remarks. “What we choose to eat is one of the biggest factors in our personal impact on the environment,” she said. “Meat uses up a lot of resources and a vegetarian diet consumes a lot less land and water. One of the best things you can do about climate change is reduce the amount of meat in your diet.”
The UN has warned that meat consumption is on course to double by the middle of the century.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

German Solar Power Decathalon

German Solar Power won the victory in the fourth Solar Decathlon as expected.  It is a contest of net metering : the house's ability to generate electrical power, support the house's requirements, and send the power back to the grid. Germany earned 150 points ( first 100 points came from producing enough power for the house. The next 50 points was based on the amount of surplus energy the houses sent back to the grid, where the German house was ahead significantly.

This PV-based victory reflects the realities of the different nations' foci on renewable energy. Germany has a very strong Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program to encourage solar installations. FIT provides a guaranteed price for a power source for a defined period of time. A FIT enables certainty for financing capital intensive efforts, like solar power, where there can be quite high confidence about future production.

The German FIT is based on the concept of providing strong financial incentives for early adopters, to foster faster adoption and penetration into the market place to build up capacity and lower costs. Thus,starting in 2010, there will be a gradual reduction in the FIT rate for new solar installations every. Within the current structure, solar put on a home can earn up to 45 Euro Cents ( 70 cents US) for the next 20 years for every kilowatt hour produced, with the possibility for another 20% or so for solar on larger buildings.

Even with Germany's relatively poor solar conditions (think northern United States, with clouds), the actual cost of production (amortized over years) is less than half that 45 Euro Cents in most circumstances, so the average homeowner can make be earning money via solar production off their home. And that profit can be even higher as the homeowner can send 100% of the solar electricity to the grid for those 45 Euro cents while paying the far lower general power rates that their utility charges. ( this payment is not for electricity above home needs, but for every kilowatt hour generated by solar power systems.)

Americans some areas where "net metering" enables turning back the electricity meter to zero out the billing costs but there are basically none who, currently, have the ability to earn a direct profit. Thus, having a home that sends power excess to the requirements to the grid at the high cost of US solar electricity would clearly not provide "a good value" in financial terms.

How much solar PV is appropriate for the contest?  Among competitors, the disparities in solar pv investment is a serious item of discussion.  Team Germany, as per above, maximized their solar earning points both in marketability and net metering via plastering their home with solar pv systems.  There is discussion as to potentially limiting the homes for the 2011 competition, perhaps to no more than 7 kilowatts of pv.

There are real world market conditions, such as discussed for Germany's FIT, that foster much greater PV use. Technology and costs are rapidly shifting when it comes to solar PV. If it becomes as cheap as paint to plaster a building with solar PV, why artificially limit the number. Or, if far more effective PV panels come on the market.

Team Germany won out two ways: in market viability and power production. To "level the playing field" might make sense, but an artificial limit on total power production does not make sense for reasons including those above.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

IEA says $10 trillion needed to fund clean energy technologies:

BANGKOK—The International Energy Agency said Tuesday that a $10 trillion investment in renewable energy, biofuels and nuclear power over the next 20 years is necessary to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions.

The Paris-based agency serves as a policy adviser on energy issues to 28 industrialized countries - so pay attention!

Governments need to commit to remake the energy sector or face unacceptable greenhouse gas emissions more than double safe levels in the "longer term".

The IEA recommends that most of the spending until 2020 go into increasing energy efficiency, renewable energy and biofuels... 33 percent of energy to come from renewables, including nuclear power, by 2030.

AMBITIOUS? It means constructing 18 nuclear reactors and 17,000 windmills every year and about 60 percent of vehicles worldwide would have to be either hybrid or electric.

The CORE of the PROBLEM is the energy sector which includes the oil, gas and coal used to power industry and fuel vehicles.  It represents 85 percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions thus, energy reforms are the solution but negotiators from industrialized countries have yet to commit to any budget to finance clean technology and the other measures needed to move to a low-carbon economy... nor have they agreed to the deep emissions cuts that the IEA plan endorses. Binding international climate agreement is desperately needed and the longer action is delayed, the more expensive it will be.

China needs to get on board because they are the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases.

source: U.S. News

Monday, October 5, 2009

Evander Holyfield To Build 40-Acre Solar Energy Farm

Evander Holyfield is about to join the Enviromental Movement to fight the failing state of the planet.

The 47-year-old, who is still looking to retire as a heavyweight champion, is putting his sights on climate change — and turning his Atlanta estate into a renewable energy playground. “I guess I’m lean and green,” Holyfield told the AP. “I’m pretty much going to do all I can to fight against global warming. I’ll see what I can do to help and try to help other people who want to do the same thing.”

The four-time heavyweight champion is partnering with Global NES-Georgia to create a 40-acre solar farm, as well as a one-acre community organic garden. The total power produced with the new solar plant is expected to amount to produce approximately 645,000,000 (KWh) of solar power annually.
This is a pretty incredible commitment — and I don’t think there’s another athlete out there (or celebrity for that matter) that’s been so generous in giving up their land for such a project. It’s little surprises like this that give me hope for the growth of renewables in this country. We wish Holyfield the best in making his vision a reality.