MORE NEWS, 8-31: POLL SHOWS U.S. BACKS PRES ON NEW ENERGY/CLIMATE; CALIF TO STORE WIND; TYPES OF SUN - PV V. CSP; EU LAW NAILS EMISS’NS TRADE SCAMS
POLL SHOWS U.S. BACKS PRES ON NEW ENERGY/CLIMATE
Poll: Energy Policy has Support But Jobs and Cost are Crucial; ABC News-Washington Post Poll: 57 Percent Support Energy Reform
Peyton M. Craighill and Gary Langer, August 28, 2009 (ABC News)
"Support for fossil fuel plants is down, support for nuclear power is up (though with a strong not-in-my-back-yard component) and hopes are reasonably high that a new U.S. energy policy will create jobs and help address global warming - albeit at some cost.
"A substantial 41 percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll think proposed changes being developed by Congress and the Obama administration will raise their energy costs. Yet enough of them back those changes nonetheless to give the effort 57 percent support among all Americans - well higher than support for health care reform, 45 percent…President Obama, likewise, has a 55 percent approval for handling energy policy, compared with his 46 percent approval rating on health care."
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"This may be, in part, because energy policy hasn't (yet) withstood the withering debate that's raked health care reform. But there are other reasons: Fifty-two percent of Americans think it'll help address global warming. And by 36 percent to 15 percent they're more apt to think it'll create rather than take away jobs in their state…A cap-and-trade system to control emissions gets a somewhat tepid 52 percent support. That rises to 58 percent if it works, and costs households $10 a month - but falls to 39 percent support, a new low in ABC/Post polling in the past year, at $25 a month.
"Price sensitivity is important, and therefore likely to be central to the debate. Among Americans who think an energy policy overhaul will raise their energy costs, 54 percent oppose it - although a perhaps surprising 36 percent are in favor nonetheless. Support rises to 74 percent among those who think it won't impact costs and 88 percent of those who think it'll reduce them."
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"Support also is far lower among those who see energy reform as costing jobs, and higher among those who think it'll create them; and higher among those who think it'll help address global warming…[A]lternative energy and conservation continue to be particularly popular, while building power plants and increasing the use of coal are far less so [among both Democrats and Republicans]…[From 2001, there was] an 11-point drop in support for building more fossil-fuel plants…and a smaller 6-point rise in support for more nuclear plants…[and] support for nuclear power drops [among Democrats and Republicans] to 35 percent if the plant would be closer than 50 miles away.
"…[S]upport [is overwhelming] for developing more solar and wind power (91 percent) and fuel-efficiency standards (85 percent); for electric car technology (82 percent support); and for requiring more energy conservation [far moreso among Democrats] in the commercial sector (78 percent) and by consumers (73 percent)… A vast 79 percent strongly favor solar and wind power, compared with 48 percent for oil and gas drilling, 36 percent for nuclear plants and 33 percent for building more fossil-fuel power stations…"
CALIFORNIA TO STORE WIND
PG&E to build plant to store wind energy
Tracy Seipel, August 27, 2009 (San Jose Mercury News)
"Already an aggressive investor in renewable energy projects such as solar power, PG&E…is seeking to build its first-ever facility that would pump compressed air into an underground cavern, using mainly wind energy produced during nonpeak hours, and release it to generate electricity during periods of peak demand.
"The 300-megawatt facility, to be built in Kern County, is projected to cost $356 million and take five years to design and build…[PG&E has] filed for $25 million in federal funding to be used for initial analysis and design costs…"
Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) has been long contemplated and pilot projects have been tried but it has never been economically accomplished. (click to enlarge)
"…[T]he facility would use mainly off-peak wind energy to power an air compressor and inject compressed air into the ground, then release it to generate electricity during periods of peak demand…Not everyone is convinced it's the optimum investment.
"The American Wind Energy Association recently released a report on wind power and energy storage that concluded the U.S. was able to add more than 8,500 megawatts of wind power to the grid in 2008 without adding any commercial-scale energy storage…A smart investment for power companies, [the report’s author] said, would be to build more transmission lines and to change the way the power system operates across the U.S. to enable power to flow more easily from region to region…"
Wind professionals say linking wind installations eliminates the need for storage but advocates say CAES has benefits. (click to enlarge)
"…PG&E disagrees…because the utility doesn't believe that so much energy transmission can be built quickly…[T]he state's Independent System Operator, which manages the state's energy grid, supports the Kern County project to help California's grid.
"California requires the state's investor-owned utilities to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2010. PG&E said it currently has renewable energy contracts that represent more than 20 percent of their customers' future needs."
TYPES OF SUN - PV V. CSP
CSP and photovoltaic solar power
Tom Pfeiffer and Sara Ledwith, August 23, 2009 (Reuters)
"Desertec, a 400 billion euro plan to [build solar power plants in North Africa and a trans-Mediterranean transmission system to] power Europe with sunlight from the Sahara, is the world's most ambitious solar power project and would be a major example of concentrated solar power (CSP) technology.
"CSP, which uses mirrors rather than solar cells to generate electricity, has been used in California since the 1980s. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems, which have been developed particularly in Germany, are more established and faster growing…Grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) is the fastest growing power generation technology, with a 70 percent increase in existing capacity in 2008…At end-2008 there was 13 GW of generating capacity in PV systems connected to grids, compared with just 0.5 GW for CSP overall worldwide."
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"…Efficiency gains and improving technology have encouraged companies such as Spain's Abengoa Solar to push CSP as a credible rival to solar PV…According to the German Aerospace Center, CSP is likely to become competitive with world market prices of most fossil fuels by 2015. Until then, utilities are likely to need feed-in tariffs offering them a guaranteed price above market rates.
"…New CSP projects are under contract in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico in the United States and under development in Abu Dhabi, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. A growing number of these future CSP plants will include thermal storage to allow operation into the evening hours."
Types of CSP plants. (click to enlarge)
"…The cost of CSP-generated electricity at 12 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour will halve by 2015 to a level similar to gas and coal power today, excluding carbon penalties on those hydrocarbon fuels, according to…Desertec-Australia…CSP's backers predict it will become the cheapest power source for energy-hungry desalination plants that remove the salt from sea water for drinking and growing crops…
"…The Desertec Industrial Initiative [includes]…Swiss engineering group ABB, a specialist in high-voltage, direct-current transmission grids…German engineering conglomerate Siemens…Spanish engineering firm Abengoa, whose solar power arm is building CSP installations in Spain, Morocco and Algeria…Algerian food group Cevital…Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest bank…German [utilities] E.ON…[and] RWE…German state-owned bank HSH Nordbank…[Germany’s] MAN Solar Millenniun, a joint [engineering and CSP] venture…German reinsurance company Munich Re…[Germany’s] M&W Zander…German solar panel maker Schott Solar..."
EU LAW NAILS EMISSIONS TRADE SCAMMERS, Part 2
Climate change campaign creates carbon crimes; Fraudulent Permit Trading Surfaces In Europe
Arthur Max, August 23, 2009 (AP via San Diego North County Times)
(For Part 1, see yesterday’s SUNDAY WORLD)
"Customs agents…arrested nine people in the London area suspected of a multimillion dollar fraud in trading carbon permits, bringing attention to a rich new field for crime sprung from the fight against climate change…[and confirming] fears among law enforcement officers that swindlers ---- operating from the trading floors of Europe to the tropical forests of the Pacific ---- are being attracted to a market that has grown to more than $100 billion.
"…[Familiar scams are being used in the emissions permit trade]…A different set of problems threaten the trade in credits derived from halting deforestation…Forests store vast amounts of carbon, and release it when trees are cut or burned. Scientists say deforestation contributes about 20 percent of all the carbon leeching into the atmosphere."
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"By measuring the amount of carbon held in a forested area, a value can be placed on that carbon and owners can be compensated for preserving them. Carbon offsets, purchased by airline passengers or concert-goers who voluntarily want to cut their carbon footprint or big corporations that need to meet emissions targets, buy the credits from the forest owner…But shady brokers…persuade landowners, especially forest dwellers with little understanding of modern commerce, to sell a share of the rights to the carbon stored in their trees, counting on a hefty profits later…
"In July, the head of Papua New Guinea's Office of Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability, Theo Yasause, was suspended pending an investigation for allegedly issuing some 40 tons of carbon credits for preventing deforestation. Such credits do not yet exist for governments to sell since there is no mechanism in place to measure and verify that forests are being preserved."
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"U.N. talks aimed at a new global warming agreement in Copenhagen are seeking ways to scale up efforts to avoid deforestation to make it worthwhile for governments like Brazil or Papua New Guinea to save their rapidly depleting rain forests…Negotiators are working on ways to verify that logging trends have been reversed, largely through satellite imagery, and on raising billions of dollars to compensate rain forest countries -- with the carbon market as one possibility…[C]limate negotiators are trying to build safeguards into the Copenhagen climate agreement to limit the opportunity for criminals. Chief among them is postponing any payment for avoiding deforestation until inspectors verify that tree-cutting trends had been reversed.
"Peter Younger, the Interpol officer who deals with environmental crime and wildlife smuggling, says illegal logging and tax fraud is bound to grow as the market expands…"