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domingo, setembro 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

The EU’s bid for leadership in green technologies will focus on developing a network of “smart cities” to demonstrate renewable and other low-carbon energies in Europe, according to draft European Commission proposals. The recommendations are featured in a draft communication setting out funding for the EU’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan).
The EU executive is concerned that Europe is investing four times less in energy research and technology development than it did in the 1980s when faced with the oil crisis. It hopes that long-awaited funding proposals for the SET Plan will speed up the market uptake of low-carbon technologies that already exist, but are still too expensive to compete with fossil fuels.
The Commission argues that billions will need to be invested in basic research over the next decade to get the Union back up to speed with the US, which has dedicated around €555 million to energy research for the next five years.  “Without a similar effort, Europe will eventually fall behind as new discoveries overtake current technologies,” the communication says.
One of the biggest investments that the Commission wants to make is to select 25 to 30 European cities to pioneer green technologies by 2020.
“These ‘Smart Cities’ will be the nuclei from which smart networks, a new generation of buildings and alternative transport means, will develop into Europe-wide realities that will transform our energy system,” the document states.
The cities would become champions of energy efficiency and renewable energy, where electric cars are fuelled with renewables produced in the buildings for their electricity needs. The Commission hopes to start with “low-carbon zones” and move onto low-carbon cities and regions.
Moreover, the proposal foresees large-scale development of other low-carbon technologies.
The EU should build 5-10 new testing facilities for new wind turbine components and up to 10 demonstration projects of next generation turbines, the draft states. This would aid the necessary move to offshore wind energy production, helping the bloc to produce up to a fifth of its electricity needs from wind in 2020, it says.
To tap into unlimited solar energy resources, the Commission foresees five pilot photovoltaic plants and 10 “first-of-a-kind” concentrated solar power plants to bring down costs and improve efficiencies.
Moreover, the plan foresees large-scale demonstration of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, up to 30 bioenergy plants and deployment of new generation of nuclear reactors in Europe.
The publication of the funding plan has been postponed several times (EurActiv 09/07/09), but sources expect it to be unveiled around the SET Plan summit organised by the Swedish EU Presidency on 21-22 October in Stockholm.

Source of funding

Officials in the Commission’s transport and energy DG are still discussing exact figures, but the draft estimates that additional money needed to pay for the programme would be above €50 billion over the next decade. This would require almost tripling annual investment from the current €3 billion.
The Commission foresees splitting the costs between the public and private sectors. Action at EU level could be particularly relevant for long-term programmes where risks and costs are high.
The draft communication presents an array of existing Community funding instruments for research that could be beefed up to provide additional funding.
Member states could tap into the revenues from the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS; see EurActiv LinksDossier) to re-invest them in clean technology development, the Commission says. It adds that 300 million EU allowances have been set aside to support CCS and innovative renewables.
Moreover, the Commission proposes to use any unspent funds from the money allocated to energy projects under the recovery programme to pay for the initial costs of the Smart Cities initiative in 2011-2013 and to support other renewable energy technologies.
The European Parliament lobbied hard to have these included in a list of recovery projects funded last spring. It eventually received the concession that money left from priority CCS and grid connection projects would be directed to renewables and urban energy-efficiency schemes.

EurActiv

domingo, setembro 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

China could achieve ’safe’ levels of carbon emissions by 2050 but only by funding a massive clean technology effort, according to a new assessment.
China estimates will need to invest an extra 1–1.5 trillion Chinese yuan (US$220 billion) a year to build a low-carbon economy and keep carbon emissions similar to those in 2005.
The report ‘China’s Low-Carbon Development Pathways by 2050′ was recently published by the Energy Research Institute in China, which is affiliated to the country’s National Development and Reform Commission.
The report warns that if no strong measures are adopted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ‘the total demand for energy and carbon emissions by 2050 will grow and multiply as China fulfils the existing goals set for the development of the economy’.
It sets out three scenarios of low-carbon development: energy-saving, low-carbon and enhanced low-carbon. The study compares the energy demand and carbon emission figures of the three scenarios with baseline figures from 2005.
Under energy-saving, China would continue with current commitments to cut air and water pollution but would take no further action. Total carbon dioxide emissions would increase from 5.2 billion tonnes to 12.2 billion per year by 2050.
In the low-carbon scenario, China would optimise its energy structure and introduce effective low-carbon technologies. Carbon dioxide emissions would increase to 8.7 billion tonnes per year.
The enhanced low-carbon scenario relies on using technologies such as clean coal and carbon capture and storage to slash emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions would be cut to 5.1 billion tonnes — lower than 2005’s 5.2 billion.
Technology development is a top priority. The researchers identify 22 major low-carbon technologies covering construction, transport, industry and energy supply that could help China achieve the low- and enhanced low-carbon scenarios.
They recommend that, by 2050, China should shift its energy structure to a balanced mix of one-third renewable energy, one-third petroleum and natural gas, and one-third conventional coal.
But they admit there are obstacles to overcome.
‘There are uncertainties in China’s development of a low-carbon economy,’ says Hu Xiulian, co-author of the report. ‘For example, carbon capture and storage must be applied if China is to turn to the enhanced low carbon scenario around 2035, but it is both expensive and immature at the moment.’
Funding is also uncertain. ‘We hope that the government will spare no efforts in developing core technologies, as it is usually very hard for them to be transferred from developed countries,’ adds Xiulian.

SciDev.net, Yidong Gong

domingo, setembro 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

The recession has had little impact on humanity’s over-consumption of resources, says a report.

The New Economics Foundation (Nef) calculates the day each year when the world goes into “ecological debt.”  This is the date by which humanity has used the quantity of natural resources that ought to last an entire year if used at a sustainable rate. This year, “ecological debt day” has been 25 September - just one day later than in 2008.
According to Nef, this means that the biggest recession for nearly a century has made very little difference to global consumption.
The report, entitled The Consumption Explosion: the Third UK Interpendence Day Report, asserts that the overall trend of our collective ecological footprint is deeply negative, with humanity still environmentally over-extending itself to a dangerous degree.

Debt-fuelled

Andrew Simms, Nef policy director and co-author of the report, said: “Debt-fuelled over-consumption not only brought the financial system to the edge of collapse, it is pushing many of our natural life support systems toward a precipice.
“Politicians tell us to get back to business as usual; but if we bankrupt critical ecosystems, no amount of government spending will bring them back. We need a radically different approach to rich world consumption.”
Calling for an end to the consumption explosion, he said that while billions in poorer countries subsist, “we (in the rich West) consume vastly more, and yet with little or nothing to show for it in terms of greater life satisfaction.”
The report calls for an end in particular to what it calls “boomerang trade”, where countries simultaneously import and export similar goods. For example, the report says the UK imports 22,000 tonnes of potatoes from Egypt and exports 27,000 tonnes back the other way.
While 5,000 tonnes of toilet paper heads to Germany from the UK, more than 4,000 tonnes is imported back.
The report calls for us to pay the full environmental cost of transport, and calls for more investment in renewable energy.
It also rejects suggestions that reducing the size of the Earth’s human population would help the environment, claiming this focus is a critical distraction from tackling over-consumption in wealthy countries.
It points out that one person in the US will, by 4am on the morning of 2 January, already have been responsible for emitting as much carbon as someone living in Tanzania would generate in an entire year. It says that a UK citizen would reach the same position by 7pm on 4 January.

Nef used figures from the Global Footprint Network to make its calculations.

BBC News, Judith Burns, Science and environment reporter

domingo, setembro 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

European energy giant Dong Energy has officially opened the world’s largest offshore wind farm, a 20MW facility with 91 turbines, situated 30km off the Danish coast.
The Danish energy company predicted the new Horns Rev 2 wind farm would generate 800GWh of power each year, providing enough zero-carbon electricity for 200,000 homes.
The development, which covers an area of 35 square kilometres to the west of the Jutland coast in the Danish part of the North Sea, consists of 2.5MW wind turbines from Siemens, each of which stands 114m tall and is positioned in water that is up to 17m deep.
Speaking at an inauguration ceremony on the accommodation platform that has been built adjacent to the wind farm, Dong Energy chairman Fritz H Schur said that the opening of the new €470m (£419m) facility marked a milestone in the company’s strategy to reposition itself as a provider of renewable energy.

domingo, setembro 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

The UK government has formally launched its Marine Renewables Proving Fund, inviting wave and tidal energy developers to bid for £22 million in new grants designed to accelerate the commercial development of marine energy technologies.

The fund, which was announced in July as part of the government’s renewable energy strategy and will be managed by the Carbon Trust, aims to help marine energy developers get their technologies to a stage where they can be installed, at which point they can apply for further financial assistance from the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund.

The government faced criticism last month from Conservative shadow energy and climate change secretary Greg Clark, after it emerged that none of the £50 million Deployment Fund had yet been distributed. Clark said that the government was guilty of providing over 20 times more subsidies to the coal industry than it has delivered to the marine energy sector.

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domingo, setembro 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

President Barack Obama is drawing up a ‘Plan B’ to regulate greenhouse gases if the US Senate fails to pass legislation needed to mandate the new administration to negotiate an international climate treaty at crunch talks in December, a senior official said.
Stopping in Brussels on a European speaking tour, Dennis Leaf, a senior adviser at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sought to ease European fears that the US will not be ready to sign up to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol if the Senate does not pass domestic climate legislation, including a cap-and-trade scheme, ahead of Copenhagen.
The climate bill got through the House of Representatives in June, but only by a very narrow margin. Indeed, a repeat of the majority achieved in the lower chamber would not see the law through the Senate, where 60 out of 100 votes are required for approval.
“The president wants comprehensive legislation, but at the same time there’s a back-up plan,” Leaf said.
The US official noted that overarching legislation is the best way to reduce emissions considering the wide range of interests involved, from agriculture to energy and the environment. But he added that as a plan B, the president is setting up a regulatory system that will allow the US to regulate greenhouse gases under the existing Clean Air Act.
The US Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases are air pollutants and should therefore be covered by the Clean Air Act. It invited the EPA to investigate whether these endanger public health or welfare.
At the time, the EPA decided to leave the final decision to the next administration, as then-President George W. Bush had declared that CO2 is not an air pollutant, Leaf said. But the prospects for successfully regulating global warming gases under existing legislation improved significantly when Obama took office, he added.
Consequently, the EPA proposed in April to classify six key greenhouse gases, including CO2 and methane, as a threat to public health and welfare. If the final EPA decision, which will possibly be taken before the end of the year, confirms the proposal, this would open the door for the agency to set binding limits on these gases.
If legislation is not passed in the Senate, then the public has the right to petition the EPA to regulate things like electric power plants and industrial sources, Leaf pointed out.
The official argued that this option could be used as leverage over the Senate to push the members into passing the climate bill. Effectively, it would open a new channel for different interest groups to turn to the EPA to demand measures on climate protection.
“If for some reason we said ‘no’, they could then take us to court,” he said. “But I suspect under this administration we would not say ‘no’.”

Filling the gaps after Copenhagen

Europeans have steadily grown disillusioned with the new US administration, as Obama, hailed as the greenest American leader yet, has not signed up to emission cuts on a European scale.
The EU has made a binding commitment to reducing its CO2 emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, and is willing to increase this to 30% should other industrialised countries follow suit. But the draft US climate bill only promises a return to 1990 levels.
Moreover, differences have been reported regarding the institutional arrangements of the new treaty. While Europe wants to retain the architecture set up under the Kyoto Protocol, the Obama administration has told European colleagues that it intends to replace the protocol’s structures with its own.
Leaf argued that the US found that the Kyoto Protocol’s enforcement mechanisms were blatantly lacking.
“I think when we come in, there’ll be much more emphasis on enforcement and repercussions if you don’t meet your target,” he said.
“We will push for many things that the Japanese and the Europeans probably won’t like,” the official said. Some of these things would come in Copenhagen and the rest could be filled in afterwards, he concluded.

EurActiv

domingo, setembro 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

The US Treasury gave another $550 million in stimulus funds for renewable energy this week. This brings the total to over $1 billion.

The announcement about the new disbursements came earlier this week. The money comes from the Department of Energy (DOE). The funds were given to 25 projects as part of the government’s 1603 program. Under this program, “renewable energy projects can apply for direct cash assistance towards up to 30 per cent of the cost of a project in the understanding that they will not then receive existing renewable energy tax credits.”
Some of the top renewable energy developers who received awards (up to $102 million in this group) were First Wind, Horizon Wind and Sun Edison.
The announcement regarding the new funding awards was made on the same day that Obama addressed the United Nations (UN) and said that the US was “fully committed to tackling climate change.”
Leaders from Tony Blair of the UK to major think tanks from nine leading countries are telling us all that a green economy (in environmental terms) equals a green economy (in economic terms). This landmark in renewable energy funding is a sign of hope and leadership in both environmental and economic ways.

domingo, setembro 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

Chevron announced that it will invest in sugar-based renewable diesel developer LS9.
In a press release, LS9 announced it successfully completed a $25 million round of funding.
Also, LS9’s CEO recently said that it meets the clean diesel requirements in Brazil and the United States.

With an investment from Chevron, LS9 joins the small club of biofuel startups getting support from big oil. It hopes to prove its case in two years. In biofuels, the contestants for the next round are being picked as we speak. LS9 – which says it will be able to prove it can make diesel from designer microbes and sugar economically by 2011 – has raised $25 million to help further test and scale up its technology.
The round included alumni like Khosla Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners but also a new one: Chevron Technology Ventures.
Chevron’s investment comes amid an uptick among large oil companies in biofuels. In August, BP signed a $10 million deal with algae specialist Market Biosciences to study how to grow algae through fermentation and last year put $90 million into ethanol specialist Verenium. In July, ExxonMobil announced a $300 million deal with Synthetic Genomics which could expand to $600 million.
Earlier, Chevron invested in Codexis, another biofuel maker with a designer bug, and formed a joint venture with lumber giant Weyerhauser in February 2008 called Catchlight Energy for biofuels. Chevron also has a R&D deal with Solazyme, which signed a contract to deliver 20,000 gallons of biodiesel to the U.S. Navy for testing.
Big oil has been dabbling in biofuels for some time. Shell has over 70 research alliances in biofuels, according to one oil exec-turned-prominent biofuel CEO. The influx of money, though, indicates that the oil companies are winnowing down the startups with which they will work. Granted, cellulosic ethanol pumps blossom likely won’t sprout at your nearby gas station tomorrow, but the activity represents forward momentum. It’s more than a nice ad campaign, after all.
Biofuel companies simply don’t have the personnel, the money or the time to move from the lab to industrial production on their own.   Thus, an alliance or investment from big oil represents an opportunity to go commercial.
Chevron’s investment is a standard equity investment, said LS9 CEO Bill Haywood. Chevron is not committed to using LS9’s fuel. Still, “it’s a nice validation,” he said and Chevron will test its fuel.
LS9’s goal is to be able to show that it could produce synthetic diesel for $45 to $50 a barrel by mid-2011. That’s capable of being produced. The fuel won’t come out commercially, barring unforeseen difficulties or a lack of financing, until 2013. The company now has a fermenter with a 1,000 liter capacity and will open a much larger demo plant next year.
LS9 combines traditional microbiology with synthetic biology, says Haywood. The company’s scientists have engineered a strain of e coli with a genome that can convert sugars into a fatty acid methyl ester which is chemically equivalent to California Clean diesel.
The traditional part of the equation is to convert sugar into other materials via fermentation; the synthetic part is having a designer strain of E. coli that commits unnatural acts. Added bonus: LS9 does not have to kill its microbes to get the oil. They secrete it naturally and then can live to feed, digest and excrete more dollops of oil. It’s not out of guilt: re-using a microbe instead of cultivating a new generation cuts time and costs.
The basic science, says Haywood, is done. “We are now working on the yield and scaling factors,” he said.
The company also has a similar microbe that can make fatty alcohols. In May, the company announced an alliance with Proctor and Gamble to try to turn these byproducts into green versions of the surfactants P&G consumes now. “The core [genetic] pathway is 90 percent common,” Haywood said. “We can make a rich tapestry of products.”

sugarcaneblog

terça-feira, setembro 22nd, 2009 | Author: admin

O presidente da China, Hu Jintao, afirmou nesta terça-feira na reunião das Nações Unidas sobre mudanças climáticas em Nova York que o país pretende reduzir as suas emissões de CO2 em uma “margem notável” até 2020. Hu não esclareceu qual será a meta, mas afirmou que, para isso, a China vai redobrar os investimentos em eficiência energética.
Cerca de cem governantes participam do encontro, que busca desemperrar as negociações por um acordo global de combate às mudanças climáticas, substituto do Protocolo de Kyoto, previsto para o encontro de dezembro, em Copenhague.

Falta de acordo seria imperdoável

O secretário-geral da ONU, Ban Ki-moon, que convocou a reunião em Nova York para facilitar um acordo, afirmou que um fracasso no encontro de dezembro seria “moralmente imperdoável”.
Segundo o secretário-geral da Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU), Ban Ki-moon, a falta de um acordo sobre o aquecimento global em um encontro sobre o tema em Copenhague, em dezembro, seria “moralmente imperdoável”.
Diante de cerca de cem líderes mundiais, Ban pediu uma ação urgente para conter as mudanças climáticas e disse que as negociações para a redução das emissões de gás carbônico estão avançando muito lentamente.
“Suas decisões terão consequências”, afirmou. “O destino das futuras gerações, e as esperanças e o sustento de bilhões de pessoas hoje em dia estão, literalmente, nas mãos dos senhores.”
A expectativa é de que, na reunião em Copenhague, os países cheguem a um consenso sobre um novo tratado que irá substituir o protocolo de Kyoto, que estabelece as atuais metas de redução de gases do efeito estufa e que expira em 2012.

China promete corte nas emissões de CO2
O presidente chinês disse que os cortes de emissões em seu país poderão ser mensurados a partir de parâmetros atrelados ao Produto Interno Bruto (PIB). Ele também prometeu “desenvolver vigorosamente” energias renováveis e nuclear, além reafirmar a opinião da China de que os países desenvolvidos precisam ser mais ativos do que os em desenvolvimento no combate ao aquecimento global, porque historicamente são responsáveis pelo problema.
“Os países desenvolvidos devem cumprir a tarefa de redução de emissões prevista no Protocolo de Kyoto e continuar a adotar metas quantificadas de redução substantivas, além de apoiar o combate à mudança climática nos países em desenvolvimento”, disse.

Planeta mais limpo
A China obtém 70% da energia que usa com a queima de carvão em usinas termelétricas e, embora tenha avançado tanto em eficiência energética como no desenvolvimento de fontes de energia mais limpas, o país é hoje, em números absolutos, o maior poluidor do mundo.  Mas também já ultrapassou os Estados Unidos como o maior mercado de energia eólica – gerada a partir de vento – e é uma potência crescente em energia solar.
O presidente chinês, Hu Jintao, disse durante a cúpula em Nova York que os países desenvolvidos precisam levar em conta as necessidades dos países em desenvolvimento e ajudá-los a usar mais tecnologias de produção de energia mais limpas.
Hu prometeu que a China iria ampliar seus esforços para uso eficiente de energia - para que seja emitido menos carbono por unidade de energia gerada - e reduzir as emissões de gases poluentes.

Negociações emperradas
As discussões para Copenhague continuam emperradas porque os países ricos evitam se comprometer a cortar emissões em um nível considerado satisfatório para evitar o perigo do aquecimento global. Os países pobres se recusam a aceitar limites de emissões alegando que isso prejudicaria seu desenvolvimento econômico.
Os Estados Unidos continuam como os maiores poluidores per capita do planeta. China e EUA respondem, cada um, por cerca de 20% das emissões de dióxido de carbono provenientes da queima de carvão, gás natural e petróleo.
A União Europeia é responsável por 14% das emissões, seguida pela Rússia e Índia, com 5% cada.
Demonstrações de vontade política tanto da China como dos Estados Unidos são consideradas fundamentais para o avanço das negociações rumo a um pacto global sobre o clima.

EUA assumem responsabilidades
O presidente dos Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, disse durante a conferência especial da ONU, em Nova York, que os Estados Unidos estão “determinados” a agir para conter o aquecimento global e irão assumir suas “responsabilidades” em relação ao tema.
Obama afirmou que o povo americano compreende a gravidade da ameaça climática e está determinado a agir, mas que ainda é preciso trabalhar muito. “Se formos flexíveis e pragmáticos, se conseguirmos trabalhar incansavelmente em um esforço comum, então atingiremos o objetivo comum: um mundo mais seguro, limpo e saudável do que o que herdamos. E um futuro que faça jus aos nossos filhos”, disse o líder americano.
“Nós compreendemos a gravidade da ameaça climática. Estamos determinados a agir e assumiremos as nossas responsabilidades com as gerações futuras”, afirmou o líder dos Estados Unidos.
Obama acrescentou que o fato de diferentes países estarem adotando medidas para se recuperar da crise econômica mundial torna mais difícil alcançar um consenso sobre as medidas necessárias para combater o aquecimento global até a realização da Conferência de Copenhague sobre este tema, em dezembro.

Mudanças profundas
“Nós buscamos mudanças profundas, mas necessárias em meio a uma recessão global, onde a prioridade imediata de cada país é reavivar a sua economia e fazer com que sua população retorne ao trabalho. Por isso, enfrentaremos dúvidas e dificuldades em nossas próprias capitais ao tentarmos encontrar soluções duradouras para o desafio climático. Mas dificuldade não é desculpa para a complacência.”
O líder americano acrescentou ainda que cabe aos países ricos comandar o processo de combate ao aquecimento global, mas que os emergentes também precisam assumir um papel expressivo no processo.
“Não podemos permitir que as velhas divisões que caracterizaram o debate climático por tantos anos continuem a impedir o progresso. Sim, as nações desenvolvidas causaram muito do estrago no clima ao longo do século passado. E ainda temos a responsabilidade de liderar. E continuaremos a fazê-lo.”
O presidente dos EUA acrescentou que os países emergentes vão produzir quase a metade de todas as emissões de gases poluentes nas próximas décadas e que, por isso, “precisam também fazer a sua parte”.
Obama afirmou que durante a reunião do G20, em Pittsburgh, que será realizada no final desta semana, ele irá negociar com os líderes do bloco um prazo para pôr fim a subsídios oferecidos a combustíveis fósseis, de modo a contribuir para o combate ao aquecimento global.

BBC Brasil

terça-feira, setembro 22nd, 2009 | Author: admin

O Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (MAPA) começará, no dia 25 de setembro, a selecionar adidos agrícolas para trabalhar em missões diplomáticas em regiões estratégicas do mundo. O objetivo é ter profissionais especialistas em agropecuária trabalhando permanentemente em outros países para facilitar as negociações comerciais e as quebras de barreiras impostas ao agronegócio brasileiro, o maior exportador de alimentos do mundo.
A criação do cargo de adido agrícola era uma das prioridades definidas pelo ministro da Agricultura, Reinhold Stephanes, principalmente depois que a carne bovina brasileira sofreu embargo da União Européia no início do ano passado. O país teve que reestruturar seu modelo de rastreabilidade (que identifica a origem dos animais) e recebeu várias missões estrangeiras, muitas delas por duvidar que o gado nacional era criado solto em pastos, dos quais se alimenta.
“A necessidade de entendimento com os países importadores, como Rússia, China e os da União Européia, é permanente. Então, é importante termos um servidor qualificado em questões de sanidade animal e vegetal e em questões de produção, por exemplo, nesses países. Isso facilita o entendimento e o nosso trabalho”, afirmou Stephanes.
O edital da seleção foi publicado na edição do dia 18 de setembro do Diário Oficial da União. Os selecionados atuarão nas capitais da Argentina, Bélgica, Rússia, China, África do Sul, do Japão, dos Estados Unidos e em Genebra, na Suíça. Poderão se candidatar ao posto servidores do ministério, empregados de empresas públicas ou que estejam cedidos a outros órgãos públicos há pelo menos quatro anos.

Agência Brasil

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