Sunday, March 26, 2006

Warnings rise over rising seas (Nature, UK)

The polar ice caps may melt far faster under the pressure of global warming than experts previously thought. New predictions suggest that, without efforts to curb the rise of greenhouse gases, the world's ice sheets could retreat farther by the year 2100 than they have in the past 130,000 years, leading to a huge rise in sea level.

Researchers led by Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona in Tucson and Bette Otto-Bliesner of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, have looked at a period known as the Last Interglaciation (LIG). At this time, 130,000 years ago, shifts in Earth's orbit caused the Arctic to warm by 3-5 ºC and the sea level to rise by some 5 metres.

The team has worked out how Earth responded to that temperature rise in the past, and asked when a similar shift might happen in the future. The answer, it seems, is surprisingly soon.

Will the sea rise by the same amount as it did before?

"We're not saying it is going to happen exactly the same" as during the LIG, says Overpeck. "If anything this is a conservative estimate of what could happen in the future."

The warming that occurred during the LIG was due to Earth shifting in its orbit and tilting the Arctic region towards the Sun. This time, warming is being caused by greenhouse gases. This means the effect will be seen at both poles, rather than being chiefly limited to the Northern Hemisphere. "This time we're hitting it harder. It will be year-round and global," says Overpeck.

So, what can we expect?

In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that sea levels would rise by a maximum of 88 centimetres by 2100. It added that further warming could trigger polar ice-cap melting, which might result in sea-level rises of more than 5 metres by the year 3000.

But Overpeck and colleagues' work, published in this week's Science1,2, indicates that metres of rise could happen much more quickly, potentially within the next 100 years.

Are the ice caps already melting?

Yes. Global warming is bringing an increase in polar snow that is making parts of both Greenland and the Antarctic bulk up, but recent research has shown that this is outweighed by melting (see 'Glacial pace picks up').

Is melting ice the greatest climate threat we face?

Many say that it is. "Changes are happening at a rate that nobody appreciated," says Robert Bindschadler, an Antarctic researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Half of the sea-level rise predicted by the IPCC to occur this century has already taken place in the past decade, he says.

The atmosphere is heating up faster than the seas, which have only warmed by a fraction of a degree since preindustrial times. But changes to ocean circulation will bring warmer waters closer to the surface in polar regions, allowing them to attack the underside of the ice.

What will this do to the world map?

The edges of the ice sheets themselves would retract by hundreds of kilometres; low-lying islands such as Tuvalu and the Maldives look set to disappear; and coastal cities will be forced to beef up their defences or else think about relocating. The financial districts of London, New York and Hong Kong, to name but three, lie barely above sea level.

"I think sea-level rise is a huge threat," says Colin Prentice, who studies ecosystem responses to climate change at the University of Bristol, UK. "As humans, everything we've done is set up for a stable climate. We've built huge cities within a metre of sea level and never thought they would be swamped."

Can disaster be averted?

The kind of sea-level rises predicted by Overpeck and his colleagues seem set to be triggered by atmospheric carbon dioxide levels above about 560 parts per million, double the preindustrial level.

Today, levels stand at roughly 375 parts per million. Staying below the trigger point will be hard but not impossible, says Overpeck. "The problem should be soluble when you look at the amount of money people put into wars and putting people on the Moon."

And there is still quite a lot of doubt about how the future climate will respond. "The climate system is loaded with sensitivity and surprises," says Overpeck. "But it is better we know something about it now and can do something about it."

Friday, March 24, 2006

Glacial Earthquakes Point to Rising Temperatures in Greenland

Glacial Earthquakes Point to Rising Temperatures in Greenland
Rise of seismic activity linked to the movement of glaciers may be a response to global warming
Map of seismic events in Greenland

Ekstrom, Nettles, and Tsai found that the locations of 136 seismic events recorded in Greenland between 1993 and 2005 corresponded with the locations of major outlet glaciers leading from the Greenland Ice Sheet to the sea. Abbreviations denote the following glaciers (number of events in parentheses): DJG, Daugaard Jensen Glacier (5); KG, Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier (61); HG, Helheim Glacier (26); SG, southeast Greenland glaciers (6); JI, Jakobshavn Isbrae (11); RI, Rinks Isbrae (10); NG, northwest Greenland Glaciers (17).

Seismologists at Columbia University and Harvard University have found a new indicator that the Earth is warming: "glacial earthquakes" caused when the rivers of ice lurch unexpectedly and produce temblors as strong as magnitude 5.1 on the moment-magnitude scale, which is similar to the Richter scale. Glacial earthquakes in Greenland, the researchers found, are most common in July and August, and have more than doubled in number since 2002.

Seismologists Göran Ekström and Victor C. Tsai at Harvard and Meredith Nettles at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a member of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, will publish a report on Greenland’s glacial earthquakes this week in the journal Science. Ekström, Nettles and colleagues first described glacial earthquakes in 2003, but that report did not recognize the seasonality or increasing frequency of the phenomenon.

"People often think of glaciers as inert and slow-moving, but in fact they can also move rather quickly," says Ekström, professor of geology and geophysics at Harvard who will be moving to Lamont-Doherty in the spring.
"Some of Greenland’s glaciers, as large as Manhattan and as tall as the Empire State Building, can move 10 meters in less than a minute, a jolt that is sufficient to generate moderate seismic waves."
As glaciers and the snow atop them gradually melt, water seeps downward. When enough water accumulates at a glacier’s base, it can serve as a lubricant, causing blocks of ice 10 cubic kilometers in size to lurch down valleys known as "outlet glaciers," which funnel all of Greenland’s glacial runoff toward the surrounding seas.

"Our results suggest that these major outlet glaciers can respond to changes in climate conditions much more quickly than we had thought,"
says Nettles, a postdoctoral researcher at Lamont-Doherty. "Greenland’s glaciers deliver large quantities of fresh water to the oceans, so the implications for climate change are serious. We believe that further warming of the climate is likely to accelerate the behavior we’ve documented."
Graphs of seismic activity

Seismic activity related to the movement of glaciers in Greenland between 1993 and 2004 (green bars) shows a strong seasonal relationship, unlike regular earthquakes of similar magnitude that occurred north of 45º N over the same period (gray bars). 2b: The number of glacial earthquakes in Greenland has been steadily rising since at least 2002.

Although Greenland is not known as a hotbed of traditional seismic activity caused by the grinding of the Earth’s tectonic plates, seismometers worldwide detected 182 earthquakes there between January 1993 and October 2005. Ekström, Nettles and Tsai examined the 136 best-documented of these seismic events, ranging in magnitude from 4.6 to 5.1. All were found to have originated at major valleys draining the Greenland Ice Sheet, implicating glacial activity in the seismic disturbances.

Moreover, of the earthquakes they analyzed, the researchers found more than one-third occurred during the months of July (22 earthquakes) and August (24). By comparison, January and February each saw a total of only such four glacial earthquakes between 1993 and 2005. In contrast, non-glacial earthquakes in northern latitudes show no such seasonal variability.

In addition, the number of glacial earthquakes in Greenland increased markedly between 1993 and 2005. Annual totals hovered between 6 and 15 through 2002, which was followed by sharp increases to 20 earthquakes in 2003, 24 in 2004 and 32 in the first ten months of 2005. A single area of northwestern Greenland, where only one seismic event was observed between 1993 and 1999, experienced more than two dozen glacial quakes between 2000 and 2005.

Although glacial earthquakes appear to be most common in Greenland, Ekström, Nettles and Tsai have also found evidence of glacial earthquakes originating from mountain glaciers in Alaska and at glaciers located in ice streams among the edges of Antarctica.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Companies join forces on carbon capture and storage

Environmental Finance, 16 March 2006 - Thirteen companies have come to together to form an association to promote carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology with a call for a clearer steer from government.

"We need a clear regulatory and fiscal framework going forward to justify CCS to shareholders,"
said Lord Ron Oxburgh, former chairman of Shell Transport and Trading and the president of the Carbon Capture & Storage Association (CCSA), at the organisation's launch in London on Monday

The CCSA aims to promote technology for permanently storing carbon dioxide (CO2) underground. Its members will work with the UK government to resolve regulatory issues that might delay the deployment of technology and to help develop the fiscal and legislative conditions to allow for early demonstration CCS projects.

"Fossil fuels are going to continue to be the major source of power for the foreseeable future,"
said Gardiner Hill, CCSA chairman and BP's manager for environmental technology.
"This technology has the additional advantage of providing a 'win-win' for the environment and energy security, when the circumstances are right for the CO2 to be used for enhanced oil and gas recovery,"
he added.

CCS involves collecting CO2 from large industrial and energy-related sources, and storing it – usually in geological formations such as oil or gas fields – so that it cannot escape to the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

The founding members of the association are: Air Products, Alstom, AMEC, BP, ConocoPhillips, E.ON UK, Mitsui Babcock, Progressive Energy, Schlumberger, Scottish & Southern Energy and Shell.

They were joined at the official launch by energy companies RWE and Chevron, according to Jeff Chapman, CCSA chief executive-designate.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Call for action on EU-transport related energy usage

Environment DAILY, 6 March 2006 -The European commission should make a specific strategy for reducing energy use in transport, a group of EU experts has told the European commission's environment and transport advisory body.

In a report, the group argues that until now EU energy policy in the transport sector has focused almost solely on energy efficiency. Other policies such as the trans-European transport network (TEN) might provide lower energy use by reducing congestion. But this would likely be offset by increases in long-distance journeys in the long term, the experts say.

The report calls for more demand-control policies, including increasing the cost of both motorised and freight transport. Such policies have "impressive" potential for energy reductions, it says.

Without giving a specific deadline, the report argues that car traffic in Europe could be reduced by 10% by implementing a series of measures ranging from eco-driving programmes to setting non-binding targets for energy consumption by 2020. Other impacts expected include a 10% shift from road haulage to rail and inland waterways.

However, one member of the expert group told Environment Daily that some proposals, especially those regarding modal shift, would be impossible to achieve. "This means that rail traffic would have to double, which is not realistic", said Karl-Heinz Zierock from the German environment agency.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Europe Tests Carbon Capture at Coal-Fired Power Plant

The world’s largest pilot plant for the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from a conventional power station was opened in Denmark today. It is the first installation in the world to capture the CO2 in the flue gases of a coal-fired power station.

The pilot project at the Elsam power station near Esbjerg, will demonstrate new technology for capturing carbon dioxide emissions as they are produced by power stations and then storing the CO2 emissions underground, so they cannot enter the atmosphere and produce the greenhouse effect responsible for global warming.

Elsam coal-fired power plant at Esbjerg, Denmark is the site of the CASTOR pilot project.
CASTOR, which stands for CO2 from Capture to Storage, is an European initiative grouping 30 partner industries, research institutes and universities from 11 European countries.
“The European Commission is committed to a low-carbon future, said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik, commenting on the inauguration of the new pilot plant at the 420 megawatt Elsam power station.

"By signing the Kyoto Protocol, the EU has committed itself to reducing CO2 emissions," the commissioner said. "However, with projections showing that fossil fuels will continue to provide about 85 percent of our energy for the foreseeable future, it will be difficult to achieve these reductions through switching to other forms of energy, such as renewable solar, wind, wave, biomass or nuclear."

Carbon capture and storage technology is viewed as a bridge from the current fossil fuel-based energy system to one that has near-zero carbon emissions.

"By developing technologies for carbon capture and storage, we can reduce emissions in the medium-term as we move to large scale use of renewable, carbon-free energy source,"
Potocnik said. The pilot CO2 capture unit, coordinated by the Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP), will be operated for two years to demonstrate a new technology on a scale large enough to ensure reliable industrial application. The pilot unit captures most of the CO2 in the flue gases emitted by the coal-fired power station. The flue gases to be treated are directed to an absorber, where they are mixed with a solvent. Having more affinity with the CO2 molecules than with the other components of the flue gases, the solvent captures nearly 90 percent of the CO2 in the flue gases. The CO2-rich solvent is then fed to a regenerator. The device is heated to 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit) in order to break the bonds between the CO2 and the solvent. The CO2 is then isolated and transported to its storage place. The solvent, restored to its initial form as CO2-poor solvent, is reinjected into the absorber with more flue gases to be treated. The other components of the flue gas are discharged from the absorber with the 10 percent of the CO2 that was not absorbed by the solvent. The pilot facility will use a system that can be regenerated with a limited quantity of energy, reducing the generation of secondary CO2. Diagram of the technology used to capture the carbon dioxide in the CASTOR pilot project

The pilot installation is intended to capture one metric ton of CO2 per hour. The cost of conventional processes for CO2 capture in the flue gases of large industrial facilities, already operational in Japan, is estimated at between €50 and €60 per metric ton of CO2.
The Elsam industrial pilot is expected to halve the cost per ton of CO2 avoided, to between €20 and €30. The total pilot project cost of €16 million is about half funded by the European Commission, with the remainder being funded by private partners.
The CASTOR strategic objective is to enable the capture and geological storage of 10 percent of the CO2 emissions Europe, which corresponds to about 30 percent of the CO2 emitted by European power and industrial plants. While the plant at Elsam will be the first such pilot, the field of carbon capture and storage is a long-term priority for the European Commission and the sector as a whole. This pilot plant is an important part of research that will help develop better processes for carbon capture, increase public acceptance of the technology and achieve a major reduction in its costs.

Once captured, the CO2 has to be stored in deep geological formations over long periods that may last several centuries, while ensuring safety.

The main options available for geological storage are in deep aquifers, in depleted oil and gas reservoirs or in coal seams in deposits that have not yet been worked.
The objective is to develop and apply a methodology for the selection and the secure management of storage sites by improving assessment methods, defining acceptance criteria, and developing a strategy for safety-focused, cost-effective site monitoring.
Work on capture technology will absorb 70 percent of the project's budget, and the remaining 30 percent will be spent on the storage of the captured CO2 gas.

The work on storage will provide the European industrial community with four new storage facility case studies representative of the geological variety of existing sites across Europe.
Storage will take place in an abandoned reservoir in the Mediterranean, the Casablanca field, operated by Repsol, Spain. Storage in a deep saline aquifer will be demonstrated by Snohvit, North Sea, operated by Statoil, Norway.

Storage also will take place in two depleted gas reservoirs - one deep, 2,500 meters down in the North Sea, Netherlands, operated by Gaz de France; and the other closer to the surface and on land, 500 meters down in Austria, operated by Rohoel. Risk and environmental impact studies will be conducted and methodologies for predicting the future of these sites and for monitoring them will be developed. Potocnik said the European Commission hopes the Elsam demonstration project will allow scientists to improve the technological processes involved in carbon capture, provide a means for better understanding of the process among the public and consolidate Europe’s position as a leader in this scientific field.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Councils to take lead on climate change

Local authorities will be placed under a duty to consider the effects of climate change in exercising their functions under changes disclosed by the Government today.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks acted to amend the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill after Opposition pressure.

The backbench Bill, introduced by Labour's Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh N and Leith), will require the Government to produce an annual report on steps taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy efficiency.

In report stage debate today, Mr Wicks said the Secretary of State should also produce a report on ways in which councils can improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and alleviate fuel poverty.

Local authorities would "have to have regard to the report in exercising their functions" but would also have the flexibility to adopt the best local solutions.

He promised that the obligation would place no "new unfunded burdens" on councils.

For the Tories, Gregory Barker welcomed the move to make the issue a "duty to consider" for local authorities.

"It's pretty timid stuff," he acknowledged. "But it is about putting these things on the agenda, re-asserting political leadership and making sure they are a priority ... for local authorities."

Tory former minister Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst) said there was a risk that the "well-meaning Bill" was no more than a "gesture".

He said: "Our job should be to pass necessary legislation, practical legislation, legislation which will add value to the statute book and indeed to the body politic not endlessly to overload the statute book with more and more good thoughts and clever ideas."

Mr Forth questioned whether parish councils and community councils would be equipped or resourced to be able to consider the effects of climate change as outlined in the Bill compared with larger authorities.

He suggested council officials could spend their time better than going over energy reports.

Mr Forth also said he wanted to see the term fuel poverty removed from the Bill.

Portugal powers ahead as wind champion

Giles Tremlett
Thursday March 2, 2006

Portugal signalled the launch of one of Europe's biggest wind power projects yesterday - a move that will supply enough electricity for 750,000 homes.
The contract is the equivalent to a quarter of all the wind power installed in the European Union last year. It will help cement the growing reputation of Portugal - a country importing 86% of its energy needs - as a renewable energy champion. This year, it has already approved the building of the world's largest solar plant.

The new wind project will rank Portugal alongside Denmark and Spain as the European countries with the highest proportion of wind energy in the national grid. It will more than double wind power capacity in Portugal.

The winning consortium will be asked to erect about 500 turbines at various locations. "This is definitely one of the biggest tenders we've seen [in Europe]," Christian Kjaer, policy director at the Brussels-based European Wind Energy Association, told Reuters news agency. "We've seen those [auctions] more in the United States and Canada."

Half a dozen consortiums featuring some of Europe's biggest power companies were expected to have lodged their bids for the two-phase 1,500-megawatt project by last night's deadline. The winner is expected to be announced during the summer.

Portugal's Socialist government also aims to create 1,600 jobs by allocating €900m (£613m) for turbine equipment manufacturing.

With a 520-mile coastline, often battered by Atlantic gales, Portugal is well-placed to take advantage of wind power.

Last year, the country increased its wind power target for 2010 from 3,750 to 4,400MW. Lisbon is looking to wind to help meet its goals under the Kyoto protocol on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The country's emissions surged almost 37% from 1990 to 2003 - the third-highest increase in the world. One of the EU's poorer countries has, however, already shown signs of leading Europe in renewable energy.

Its energy plans range from the world's first commercial wave farm to putting a hydroelectric dam on its last big undammed river, the Sabor. The government set aside a €2.5bn renewable energy war chest last year.

It recently granted a licence for the world's biggest solar energy plant, which will be able to produce enough electricity to power 21,000 homes for the southern town of Moura.

The 62MW plant will use 350,000 solar panels spread over an area the size of 150 football pitches. It will be 12 times the size of the biggest solar power plant currently in operation near Leipzig, Germany.

A wave power plant is also being established near the northern town of Povoa de Varzim. Using sausage-shaped floating generators made by a Scottish company to lap up energy from the Atlantic, it is due to generate sufficient power by the end of this year to supply 1,200 homes.

Some energy experts predict that Portugal could eventually produce 20% of its needs from the sea.

Gathering force

The global wind power market increased by 43% last year. The total capacity now stands at 59,322MW. This is a fraction of the total electricity supply, but the figure is rapidly growing. The countries with the highest total installed capaci

Carbon storage is now under the EU spotlight.

Liberal MEP Diana Wallis:

On Tuesday I am hosting a hearing on the issue of carbon capture and storage (CCS), also known as carbon sequestration.

This hearing is an opportunity for me and others in the European parliament to hear first hand from academics, industry specialists, environmentalists and others about an issue which has gained an increasing profile over the past months.

Despite being in the spotlight, many questions surround the process of capturing carbon dioxide and burying it in the ground and it is for this reason I have along with Norwegian environmental group, Bellona,invited experts to the parliament to talk about it.

At its simplest carbon capture and storage is capturing CO2, putting it into the earth’s crust and keeping it there.

Doing this will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help in mitigating climate change. It is a key element in the transition to a sustainable energy supply.

How does it work in practice? The majority of CO2 emissions, around 60 per cent, come from what might be termed stationary sources such as power plants and refineries. In most cases, the exhaust flue gas from these sources can contain up to 15 per cent CO2.

After capture, CO2 can be stored in geological formations, including depleted oil and gas reservoirs, deep saline aquifers and unmineable coal seams.

It is estimated that the worldwide capacity of potential CO2 storage in depleted oil and gas reservoirs alone stands at around 37 years.

The Norwegians have a great deal of experience of this process with their Sleipner project, the first commercial injection CO2 project in the world.

In this development about one million tonnes of CO2 are injected annually into an aquifer under the North Sea so demonstrating that CO2 can be effectively stored in large quantities.

This Norwegian expertise is something that the UK Chancellor, Gordon Brown, recognised in his prebudget speech last December.

In the speech he announced a new partnership with the Norwegian government saying that “together we will consider the right level of incentives to speed up the adoption of this new technology.”

It is for this reason that I am working with Bellona which has its headquarters in Oslo and which has shown a great deal of interest in CCS for some time now.

My own region in the North East of England may have a role to play in terms of storage both inland and off the coast in the North Sea which is why I am following developments closely.

Aside from setting the scene, there are two important issues which the hearing this week intends to address. The first is cost.

To what extent are we willing to use public money or is this essentially a commercial function?

Capture costs are high at the moment and although ongoing research will reduce some of these, it puts the issue of cost into context when one considers the biggest project underway is the $1bn Future Gen project which is looking to combine near zero emission coal fuelled power with hydrogen production and CO2 capture and storage.

Of course we should not overlook the bonus of offsetting the real costs in avoided CO2 emissions.

As a former chair of a publicly owned waste company, I have a certain sense of unease about burying unwanted substances in the ground.

This raises the second issue, one of safety. What are the risks of carbon capture and storage? Certainly this is something we have set aside some time in the hearing to discuss.

By way of an answer, in the US, natural gas is stored underground in 470 sites. There have been only nine known significant leakage incidents from these sites, all of which were quickly contained.

Storing CO2 rather than natural gas should pose even fewer problems, as there would be none of the cyclical changes in the pressure and stress on the surrounding rock that occur when natural gas is pumped in for storage and then removed for consumption.

Some in the environmental lobby are concerned that CCS will prove such an attractive proposition that governments may go down this route to the exclusion of reducing carbon emission and fossil fuel usage.

To some extent I share that view. However, we have choices to make in our carbon burning lifestyle now and even then some commentators would have us believe that is too late.

In my opinion capturing and storing carbon dioxide is something that can be done now as part of a range of measures both to reduce our CO2 emissions and in securing our effective energy supply over the longer term.

Making jobs that make clean energy work

Making jobs that make clean energy work

UPI Correspondent

BOSTON, March 9 (UPI) -- Alternative energy sources, including wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels, are being talked up in Congress, but clean energy isn't yet seen as a job-producing industry.

A movement is emerging, however, to present alternative energies as having the potential to create jobs in the production of major component parts of wind turbines and large-scale retrofitting projects to increase energy efficiency in residential areas.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has compared the drive for use of alternative energy to other national movements in America's history.

"There's a reason that some have compared the quest for energy independence to the Manhattan Project or the Apollo moon landing," he said in a Feb 28 speech in Washington. "Like those historic efforts, moving away from an oil economy is a major challenge that will require a sustained national commitment."

Obama is not alone. The Apollo Alliance, a nonprofit group that works to build jobs from the emerging market, derives its name from President Kennedy's call for action in the space race, and has the motto: "Good jobs, clean energy." The coalition brings together labor, business and environmental interests to work at state and municipal levels to craft long-term policies that support renewable energy.

Richard Eidlin, business outreach coordinator for Apollo Alliance, believes good jobs and investment in renewable energy don't have to be mutually exclusive; in fact, he sees thousands of jobs.

"We can do both," he said at the annual Northeast Sustainable Energy Association conference in Boston Wednesday. "We can have a strong economy and a healthy environment."

Apollo has been focused on introducing policy at the state and local levels, allowing for more control in implementing smaller, more direct, alternative fuel projects such as wind turbines at already existing facilities. Implementation of Apollo in Wisconsin has committed Milwaukee to reducing total energy usage by 15 percent by 2012, which has led to implementation of efficiency performance standards and to plans to buy alternative fuel vehicles for the city fleet.

The goal of the Apollo Alliance to create an energy-independent America and create jobs across sectors is greatly aided by the fact it is endorsed by 23 national labor unions, including the ALF-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Martin Aikens, a business agent for IBEW Local 103 in Dorchester, Mass., led the design team at the IBEW's facilities in the installation of a 100k/W wind turbine. The chapter received a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for the work done on the turbine. It has also embraced solar technology, training members in installation of solar panels by incorporating photovoltaics into their training facility.

"I am proud of the role of IBEW has played in creating jobs," Aikens said. "We look at jobs in all areas, on the land, maintenance of the technology and renewable energy production."

Mark Dyer, of the Conservation Services Group, had another idea for creating jobs and promoting clean energy. In a sweeping project that he compared to Boston's "Big Dig," a infrastructure construction project that provided an estimated 43,000 new jobs related to construction and development, he proposed the mass retrofitting of the Northeast's residential areas to increase energy efficiency.

"We could systematically go to homes and retrofit them at the local level," he said. "People spending $4 billion a year would create 12,000 jobs in direct construction work and work that feeds into it, like sales, marketing, design, deconstruction and manufacturing. That's 30,000 jobs a year for 10 years."

Dyer proposed funding the project with a surcharge on electric bills and convincing homeowners they stand to benefit from energy saving improvements through savings on their utility bills. He said people already spend money on improvements to their homes, and this project would just be a matter of convincing people to make energy efficient improvements like improved insulation and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

"The technology is there, the financing mechanism is there," he said.

But just how the technology is viewed as a source of jobs is where Greg Sterzinger, director of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, comes in.

Sternzinger's Washington-based nonprofit group has analyzed alternative energy sources for job potential and broke each source down and examined the job potential of component parts and examined the jobs to be had in those industries as well.

"Our methodology was that we would identify the components that are made or could be made, where the parts or renewable technology is, take them apart and break them down into their major component parts," Sternzinger said. "Then we identified each of those and break them down in a highly specific way.

"For example, take a wind turbine apart and find out where the transformer, the blade and the generator are made."

Then the group sought to identify areas of job growth in each of the individual manufacturing sectors for the components.

The analysis proved to be good for the state of Ohio, which does not have tremendous resources for renewable energy. But the Renewable Energy Policy Project study projected an estimated 11,688 jobs in wind energy development for the state, because it has a strong manufacturing base.

The Apollo Alliance's Richard Eidlin said there has to be political support for job development in renewable energy to flourish, however.

"The policy regime has to be well suited in development," he said. "If there is financial support and collaboration between business and labor, literally thousands of jobs that can be created in a short period of time if we have the political leadership and will to get it done."

UK government brings sustainability closer to home with new mandatory code

10 Mar 2006
London, UK – The UK government has announced that the Code for Sustainable homes is to become mandatory for all new homes and possibly all existing homes, setting new energy and water efficiency standards beyond building regulations.

“For four years WWF has been campaigning for a single national standard for sustainable homes," said Paul King, Campaign Director of WWF’s One Million Sustainable Homes Campaign.

"We are very pleased that the government has listened and responded in the way it has today with a commitment to introduce a mandatory Code, applicable to all new homes. The Code will set out the trajectory and timescale of regulatory change over the coming years. It must go far enough and fast enough to deliver homes fit for the 21st Century.”

Sustainable homes are essential if CO2 emissions are to be cut in the UK and if increasingly scarce resources such as water are to be used more efficiently. According to WWF, homes currently produce about 30 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions that are contributing to climate change.

"Sustainable homes will also save people money, and with rapidly rising energy prices, people everywhere will need their homes to be as efficient as possible in the future," King added.

"The new Code for Sustainable Homes will set out a direct path to mandatory zero carbon housing development, in a way that meets the needs of industry, people, and the environment.”

For further information:
David Cowdrey, Press Office

Dramatic growth in carbon market in 2005 – report

Environmental Finance, 2 March 2006 - Some €9.4 billion ($11.3 billion) worth of carbon was traded on the international market last year, up from an estimated €377 million in 2004, according to a new report.

Carbon 2006, from Norwegian consultancy and analysis company Point Carbon, found that around 362 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) were traded in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme last year, and contracts were signed for reductions of 397 Mt of CO2e from Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. The figures for 2004 were 17 Mt and 188 Mt respectively.

"Carbon is becoming like a real commodity market," said Kristian Tangen of Point Carbon, addressing a conference in Copenhagen on Tuesday. "We expect continued growth, as the EU ETS is gaining momentum.

"We also see massive growth in the CDM and [Joint Implementation, JI]," he added, referring to the Kyoto Protocol's two project-based mechanisms, which allow investors in projects in, respectively, developing countries and industrialised ones to earn carbon credits.

The figures were based on Point Carbon's transaction and projects database. The company also conducted a web-based survey, which attracted 800 respondents, and interviews with 67 selected market participants.

Tangen said that the company was surprised that the CDM still accounted for a larger volume of carbon than the EU ETS. "We were taken by surprise – we would have assumed a slower growth," he said.

The EU ETS, meanwhile, began operating in January 2005, and sets carbon dioxide emissions caps on around 12,000 installations across Europe, in the electricity generation, oil refining, building materials, pulp and paper and ferrous metals sectors. It is designed to help move the EU towards meeting its Kyoto targets, and has helped drive demand for credits from CDM and JI projects.

"It's role as a market driver cannot be exaggerated," Tangen said. "Through kick-starting CDM and JI, it has started a process that will lead to massive reductions in the long-term."

Within the EU ETS, some 79% of the volume was conducted bilaterally, via the broker market, with the remainder traded on exchanges, of which the European Climate Exchange is the largest.

The report did not provide hard figures on Point Carbon's expectations for growth in the carbon market in 2006, although it noted that more than 91Mt had traded in the EU ETS by 10 February.

It also featured the results of a survey of price expectations, with 51% of respondents expecting allowance prices to be higher in a year's time than in December (when the survey was conducted), when they traded just above €20/tonne. One in five expected them to be lower.

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