Other than our dozens and dozens of stories and our other news roundups, here are some more noteworthy cleantech and dirty energy stories from the past week or so:
Clean Energy (In General)
Aruba has enlisted Sir Richard Branson in a 100% green energy push. “The Caribbean island of Aruba could become the ‘world’s first sustainable energy economy’, under plans devised in conjunction with Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room (CWR) initiative.”
Are we wildly underestimating solar and wind power? “Right now, renewable energy sources like solar and wind still provide just a small fraction of the world’s electricity. But they’re growing fast. Very fast. Three new pieces of evidence suggest that many policymakers may be drastically underestimating just how quickly wind and solar are expanding.”
Energy obtained from renewable sources is estimated to have contributed to 12.4% of the European Union’s (EU) overall energy consumption in 2010, up from 11.7% in 2009, according to latest figures published this week.
Sweden had the highest share of renewable energy in total consumption at 47.9% in 2010. Latvia, Finland and Austria all recorded results of over 30%. Malta, Luxembourg, the UK and the Netherlands lagged behind with the lowest shares in 2010.
Former president Bill Clinton will give the keynote address at the “National Clean Energy Summit 5.0: The Power of Choice” on Tuesday, August 7, at the Bellagio Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas. “The annual conference is hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), MGM Resorts International, the Clean Energy Project, Center for American Progress and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Visionaries like Tesla CEO Elon Musk come together with policy experts like Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to discuss how smart clean energy choices made by individuals, governments, and businesses can save consumers money, grow the economy, and improve our overall quality of life.”
New report by GlobalData shows that “Europe expects to decommission almost 150 of its nuclear power plants by 2030, while the US has granted life extensions to 71 and chosen to close only five.”
As of January 2012, France, the UK and Russia have the highest decommissioning market values in Europe, with market values of $21,494m, $18,717m, and $13,446m, respectively.
The Asia-Pacific region represents the second highest market value at $20,317m, while North America offers the smallest amount at a relatively small $8,175m.
Ocean Power Technologies, a wave energy technology company, has successfully completed testing of its power take-off (PTO) units for its utility-scale PowerBuoy®, the PB150. “The PTO has now been shipped from OPT’s facility in Pennington, New Jersey to Oregon Iron Works, where it is in the process of being integrated into the spar of the buoy in preparation for deployment off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon.”
Greenhouse Gas Reductions
Mayors of the world’s largest cities have demonstrated progress in greenhouse gas reductions and launched two new initiatives. “New data released [yesterday] indicates that C40 Cities have the potential to reduce their annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by over a billion tonnes by 2030, from business as usual. This is equivalent to the annual GHG emissions of Mexico and Canada combined. Just with the measures they have already undertaken or committed to, C40 Cities are on track to reduce their collective annual emissions by 248 million tonnes by 2020. C40 Cities have undertaken nearly 5,000 climate-related actions since the network first formed in 2005. In many cases, these actions were taken without national government support.”
Australia has cut the number of firms that must pay a carbon tax. “Australia will levy a controversial carbon tax on about half the number of companies originally expected, a government list released on Friday shows, which may limit the economic and political impact of the tax which starts on July 1.”
Greenpeace aims to shut off the flow of capital to environmentally destructive businesses following two years of intense research into understanding the finance sector
Kumi Naidoo, the global head of Greenpeace, is losing patience with the ability of companies and financial institutions to move away from their destructive behaviour.
While he recognises that there are a few progressive business leaders who share his concerns, Naidoo says he is planning to step up his campaign to hold them to account.
The sector most clearly in his sights is finance, given its power to support the transition to a green economy or continue to fund the destructive fossil-fuel industry.
He accepts that the NGO community made a mistake by not targeting the sector earlier and this was because it shied away from the complexity of the financial markets. But no more.
For the past two years Greenpeace has been working to understand not only how the financial markets really work, but also the leverage points where it can be most effective in seeking change.
53 U.S. Senators stood up and protected public health today. “Today the Senate rejected another attempt to block vitally important public health safeguards. Forty-eight Democratic Senators and 5 Republican colleagues voted against Senator Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) Congressional Review Act resolution, S.J. Res 37, which would have blocked the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard. Forty-one Republicans and 5 Democrats voted for it to stop the mercury protections.”
NRDC Analysis: ‘Gang of Eight’ Utilities Spent Millions Lobbying and Litigating Against EPA Action While Pollution Contributes to Over 10,000 Deaths. “As eight leading U.S. utilities spent millions of dollars lobbying and litigating to block, weaken or delay major Clean Air Act safeguards, their coal-fired power plants emitted enough pollution to contribute to nearly 10,400 deaths and as much as $78 billion in health care costs, according to a new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council.”
Report: Fossil Fuel Subsidies Hurting Global Economic Growth. “Ending fossil fuel subsidies would save governments nearly $1 trillion while also improving environment and economic conditions worldwide, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental and social advocacy groups.”
Report: Most Anti-Environment House Of Representatives In History Voted 109 Times To Enrich Big Oil. “The House of Representatives holds the title of the most anti-environment House in congressional history. Led by Republicans, the House has voted against the environment 247 times in the last 18 months, averaging one anti-environmental vote for every day the House has been in session.”
US coal use is falling fast. “The fuel that powered the U.S. from the industrial revolution into the iPhone era is being pushed aside as utilities switch to cleaner and cheaper alternatives,” FOX News(!) reports. “The share of U.S. electricity that comes from coal is forecast to fall below 40 percent for the year — the lowest level since the government began collecting this data in 1949. Four years ago, it was 50 percent. By the end of this decade, it is likely to be near 30 percent.”
Image Credit: Aruba via Shutterstock