Archive for October 26th, 2009

Logged Forests Support Biodiversity After 15 Years of Rehabilitation, but Not If Turned Into Plantations
Active tree planting in logged tropical forests not only provides carbon-sequestering benefits, but also benefits to biodiversity, reports Mongabay.com:

(A)a new study in Conservation Biology shows that within 15 years logged forests—considered by many to be ‘degraded’—can be managed in order to successfully fight both climate change and extinction.

Studying regenerating forests in northeast Borneo, Dr. David Edwards from the University of Leeds, surveyed bird species in three different forests: a protected forest that had never been logged; a forest that had been logged and then actively rehabilitated over the last 15 years; and finally a forest undergoing natural regeneration after logging.

Through bird surveys, Edwards found that when a regenerating forest is supported by managed rehabilitation efforts, such as active tree-planting, it only requires 15 years for biodiversity to return to levels near those of unlogged areas. Naturally regenerating forest showed less diversity in the same time frame.

But in Southeast Asia many logged forests are quickly turned into plantations, such as palm oil and eucalyptus, which support little biodiversity when compared to forests.

Edwards says, “this [study] could act as a strong incentive to protect logged forests under threat of deforestation for oil palm and other such crops. Selectively logged rainforests are often vulnerable because they’re seen as degraded, but we’ve shown they can support similar levels of biodiversity to unlogged forests.”

Edwards further argues that his study proves carbon trading projects within rainforests, like REDD, should be linked directly to preserving biodiversity.

“Our research shows that it is possible to have both carbon sequestration and biodiversity benefits within the same scheme,” Edwards says. “There are now suggestions that carbon crediting and ‘biodiversity banking’ should be combined, enabling extra credits for projects that offer a biodiversity benefit. We believe this should be introduced as soon as possible, to ensure maximum support for rehabilitation schemes in the tropical rainforest.” 

These are intriguing findings that provide the kind of data we need to evaluate the effects of conservation and restoration actions on ecosystem services beyond carbon sequestration — which is the one “service” that payments for ecosystem services schemes such as REDD currently compensate landowners and countries for.

I’d be curious to know more about the impacts of these same restoration activities on the forest’s water provision and filtration services…

Read more>> 

Read about WWF’s efforts to promote responsible forest-based climate protection finance>>





Visit the original post at: Conservation Value Notes

New Twist In Biofuels Drive: Cellulosic Ethanol Notso Good After All
Progress on eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels is sometimes both fascinating and dizzying.  Reuters reports that according to a new study in Science, cellulosic ethanol might not help us reduce emissions after all — due to unintended consequences:

A new generation of biofuels, meant to be a low-carbon alternative, will on average emit more carbon dioxide than burning gasoline over the next few decades, a study published in Science found on Thursday.


Governments and companies are pouring billions of research dollars into advanced fuels made from wood and grass, meant to cut carbon emissions compared with gasoline, and not compete with food as corn-based biofuels do now.

But such advanced, “cellulosic” biofuels will actually lead to higher carbon emissions than gasoline per unit of energy, averaged over the 2000-2030 time period, the study found.

That is because the land required to plant fast-growing poplar trees and tropical grasses would displace food crops, and so drive deforestation to create more farmland, a powerful source of carbon emissions.

Biofuel crops also require nitrogen fertilizers, a source of two greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2) and the more powerful nitrous oxide.

“In the near-term I think, irrespective of how you go about the cellulosic biofuels program, you’re going to have greenhouse gas emissions exacerbating the climate change problem,” said lead author, Jerry Melillo, from the U.S. Marine Biological Laboratory.

Without steps to protect forests and cut fertilizer use, gasoline out-performs biofuels from 2000-2050 as well.

How far we have fallen from the biofuel craze of just a couple of years ago.

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Visit the original post at: Conservation Value Notes

Environmental Reporter from UK Sunday Times on CFLs: RUN!
flintoff.jpg

John-Paul Flintoff is the Environment writer for the Sunday Times, a UK Murdoch paper. On Sunday he wrote an article Poisoning ourselves to save the planet about the dangers of mercury from compact fluorescents. He starts off with a description of mercury poisoning from a nameless “informant” who worked for years in heavy industry.

“Their teeth fell out first, then they got the shakes and malaria-type symptoms.”

There is no question that mercury poisoning is a serious problem, but this describes Minimata disease, or Mad Hatter syndrome,… Read the full story on TreeHugger
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Environmental Reporter from UK Sunday Times on CFLs: RUN!
flintoff.jpg

John-Paul Flintoff is the Environment writer for the Sunday Times, a UK Murdoch paper. On Sunday he wrote an article Poisoning ourselves to save the planet about the dangers of mercury from compact fluorescents. He starts off with a description of mercury poisoning from a nameless “informant” who worked for years in heavy industry.

“Their teeth fell out first, then they got the shakes and malaria-type symptoms.”

There is no question that mercury poisoning is a serious problem, but this describes Minimata disease, or Mad Hatter syndrome,… Read the full story on TreeHugger
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Tesla Rear-Ended by Prius in Denmark, Pushed Under SUV
tesla electric car prius accident SUV photo

Yeah, It’s Totalled (Maybe the Prius was Jealous)
Seems like all those crash-tests (more about that below) that Tesla did paid off. The pics (1 above, 2 below) are from a pretty bad crash that took place in Denmark a few days ago. From what we know, the brand new Tesla Roadster (with about 400 miles on it) was sto… Read the full story on TreeHugger
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Tesla Rear-Ended by Prius in Denmark, Pushed Under SUV
tesla electric car prius accident SUV photo

Yeah, It’s Totalled (Maybe the Prius was Jealous)
Seems like all those crash-tests (more about that below) that Tesla did paid off. The pics (1 above, 2 below) are from a pretty bad crash that took place in Denmark a few days ago. From what we know, the brand new Tesla Roadster (with about 400 miles on it) was sto… Read the full story on TreeHugger
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Weekly intelligence brief: October 19-26

This week’s news round-up features Siemens, EDF Energy Renewables, Longpark, Scottish Power Renewables, Dong Energy, Garrad Hassan, Vestas and QinetiQ.

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Visit the original post at: Wind Power News

The Hydrogen Infrastructure You May Not Know

Last Friday I talked about how plug-in vehicles lack a recharging infrastructure. Critics of hydrogen cars typically say that there is absolutely no hydrogen infrastructure whatsoever inside the U. S. But, that is not true. While hydrogen cars do lack an adequate refueling infrastructure, there is already some production and distribution going on of which you may not be aware.

For instance, I’ve come across three maps recently by the Department of Energy that may be of interest. The first map shows the hydrogen pipeline system that already exists throughout Texas and Louisiana. These hydrogen pipelines cover roughly 900 miles along the Gulf Coast.

The next map shows hydrogen production centers scattered across the U. S. At least 24 states have some sort of refining centers that produces hydrogen. The third map from 2003 shows the U. S. hydrogen refining centers by volume.

Now, most of the hydrogen presently produced in this country goes towards de-sulfuring crude oil to produce gasoline and diesel fuel. As vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel start to decline because of the rise in alternative fuel vehicles, the hydrogen produced for refineries can then be transitioned over to be used for hydrogen cars.

Critics should also note two recent announcements about world-scale hydrogen production facilities that have been or are in the process of being built. Last month Air Liquide opened up a hydrogen production facility in the San Francisco, California area. This facility is able to pump out 120 million standard cubic feet per day of hydrogen.

Meanwhile, Air Products has announced that it is building a hydrogen production facility in Luling, Louisiana that will go online in 2012 with a capacity of 100 million standard cubic feet per day. As far as hydrogen fueling pumps either operational or planned, a search of the National Hydrogen Association website shows there are 112 of these H2 refueling stations across 25 U. S. states.

This little exercise is not to convince critics that there is now an adequate hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure in the U. S., since this is not so. But, what is also not so is that no hydrogen infrastructure currently exists. The truth is somewhere in-between.

Yes, an adequate hydrogen infrastructure needs to be built for hydrogen cars to succeed. But, no in order for hydrogen cars to succeed this hydrogen infrastructure does not need to model after the gasoline station on every corner model. With a little creativity and practicality we can come up with a hydrogen infrastructure that is unique to hydrogen cars. So, let’s get brainstorming.


Visit the original post at: Fuel Cell News

Opsun looks to grow in N. America with China Sunergy
Canadian firm looks to improve its concentrated photovoltaic systems as its partner, a Nanjing based solar cell maker, wins an injunction extension.


Visit the original post at: Energy News

Study Finds Solution for Methane-Producing Cow Burps

Earlier this year, it has almost been said that cow burps are the root of all evil regarding global warming, the emissions of methane gases and, overall, an enemy of our humble existence on this planet. Well, recent “discoveries” reveal the fact that a well-managed cow could actually help reduce methane emissions.


Visit the original post at: Energy News

German solar industry, EU not happy with Ontario local content rules

Ontario’s decision to require local labour and gear for 40 to 5o per cent of a solar project’s content has ruffled some feathers in Europe.  The province’s government created the Made-in-Ontario rules in parallel with the design of its feed-in tariff program for renewables, which for solar PV pays up to 80.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s a hefty premium, so to justify it to Ontario ratepayers (who will ultimately be picking up the tab) the government created the local content rules as a way to tout the economic benefits that would come from increased investment and green-job creation.

Germany’s solar industries association, BSW-Solar, doesn’t like that very much. It has issued a position statement to its members, including some of the biggest solar PV module manufacturers in the world, urging them to raise their concern with Canadian and Ontario authorities. A European Union trade delegation also raised the issue during trade talks in Ottawa last week. Technically, however, I’m not so sure Ontario’s rules violate World Trade Organization agreements, as BSW-Solar claims. For one, the rules only apply to a portion of a project — not 100 per cent — so this doesn’t preclude any specific product made in Europe. Second, Ontario has not signed onto any WTO agreement regarding product procurement, and it’s doubtful whether this issue falls under a procurement scenario.

And let’s face it, even though Germany didn’t have specified local content targets, this is a cultural given. And because Germany was a first mover in Europe, and to a large extent globally, it really didn’t have to compete with many jurisdictions. It’s likely that BSW-Solar is worried that the German government’s plans to start lowering subsidies for solar will draw attention away from Germany and toward jurisdictions such as Ontario. It will, however, be interesting to see if this issue gets elevated to being a formal complaint filed with the WTO.

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Visit the original post at: Energy News

Sharp Reaches Solar Cell Energy Conversion Efficiency of 35.8%

Sharp Corporation has recently announced a breakthrough technology with which it has achieved the world’s highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 35.8%.The best feature of this triple-junction compound solar cell is that it uses photo-absorption layers made from compounds consisting of two or more elements such as indium and gallium.


Visit the original post at: Energy News

“ARPA-E! ARPA-E!”

“ARPA-E! ARPA-E!”

Okay, so maybe I jokingly tried to start an “ARPA-E” chant at Obama’s MIT speech on Friday, simply because I thought it might be the only crowd ever wonky enough to get it.

But acronymical joking aside, it’s a potentially valuable DOE program that could end up helping one of the major capital gaps that’s emerging in cleantech venture capital: Seed stage and early stage development of ideas that are promising but will take too long to commercialize than most VCs can handle.

So it’s great to see the news release today with $151M of grants to 37 efforts. Including:

  • Sadoway’s liquid-metal batteries
  • Low-cost LED crystals
  • 1366′s “mono-equivalent silicon” wafers
  • FloDesign’s smaller-format wind turbines
  • Foro Energy’s drilling technology
  • And several direct sunlight-to-fuels efforts

On a completely different note, I recently re-read an old 2000 article (I can’t find a direct link, but you can access it through this site) from Environmental Finance back in April 2000, where the authors (Byron Swift and Aldyen Donnelly) argued that there’s enough inefficient coal-fired generation out there in the U.S. that under a cap-and-trade system there will be a natural limit on CO2 credit prices at around $5-7/ton. I’m interested in reader reactions, critiques, corrections, etc., please email or use the comments to share with alll…

Swift and Donnelly simply look at the implied financial worth of the generating assets of companies like AEP, Southern Company, and Cinergy (remember, this was from 2000), and then divide that by their CO2 emissions in terms of earnings per ton of CO2. And therefore, they argue, if you’re AEP and you can make more money by shutting down an inefficient plant and selling the avoided emissions, you would do so, and that would be triggered at around the $5-7/ton level. They also looked at it from another perspective — market capitalization for each of the companies, estimating how much of that was attributable to the fossil fuel generation fleet, and then dividing by emissions to get a value for perpetual stream of carbon allowances (discounted). Both methods came out with about the same value.

Now, what they don’t account for, as far as I can tell, are three crucial additional factors: 1) the shut-down costs associated with mothballing a generation facility to sell off the avoided emissions; b) the incremental cost of replacing that generation capacity with something else with much lower carbon impact, such as gas-fired generation (although they acknowledge this as an open question); and c) short-term volatility as separate from long-term average prices — it’s tougher to shutter a generation plant because of temporarily-high carbon prices, so there could certainly be significant price spikes above the limits Swift and Donnelly indicate.

But I find it a fascinating analysis, given the policy discussions going on right now (which include possible hard caps on carbon credit prices under a cap-and-trade plan), in that it suggests there may be a lower natural price limit than many expect. There’s definitely precedent from elsewhere in the electricity business for electricity customers to curtail their demand and sell the capacity back to the utility — see EnerNOC, or in an early example, Kaiser Aluminum (note: pdf). Why couldn’t some power plants shut down and re-sell their credits for greater profit? Whether you love or hate the idea as an electricity consumer, it does open up a new business dimension for anyone in the powergen industry to consider…

Curious to get readers’ thoughts.


Visit the original post at: Energy News

Copenhagen Is Supposed to Fail. DIY!

Copenhagen Is Supposed to Fail. DIY!

Much passionate concern is flying around regarding the United Nations meeting on climate this December in Copenhagen. We hear it from honest activists and from politicians who sound trustworthy on this most crucial matter. An example is Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Great Britain, who deserves a prize for eloquence in warning us of climate change.

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Visit the original post at: Energy News

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