article placeholder

How many lightbulbs does it take to change global warming?

Well, many. But, according to the S-G, it can make a big difference:

Recently, I visited an ambitious project to promote energy-saving lighting in China. By phasing out old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs and introducing a new generation of lighting, China expects to cut national energy consumption by 8 per cent.

This can have a profound global impact. Consider this: lighting accounts for 19 per cent of world energy consumption. Scientists say we can reduce that by a third or more merely by changing lightbulbs.

Sure, it's one thing to use the nifty-looking CFL bulbs in your own house, but one house times...China...makes for a lot of energy saved.

(image from flickr user TheRogue under a Creative Commons license)

article placeholder

What to burn in the developing world?

As I was cleaning out my feeds this morning, I stumbled across this brilliant article on Black Carbon, part of a series on "stopgap measures that could limit global warming."  

Black Carbon, aka "soot," produced by primitive cooking stoves in the developing world, accounts for up to 20 percent of global warming according to some scientists and represents "low-hanging fruit" -- the most possible bang for the buck (in regard to both cost and effort) in confronting climate change.

Not two minutes later, this report popped up on BBC tv (BBC, why no embed?) about researchers at Nottingham University who have discovered a way to make fuel out of banana peels (abundant in many parts of the developing world) and sawdust using no specialized equiptment.  Aside from dramtically reducing the occurrence of comic accidents, burning banana peels could also reduce the use of firewood as fuel, limiting deforestation and, therefore, addressing climate change. 

Count me skeptical that, if this is as cheap and easy as the researchers suggest, savvy entrepreneurs in the developing world wouldn't have already figured it out.  Nonetheless, I like this coverage because it focuses on access to cheap, renewable, and environmentally friendly sources of energy in the developing world, an issue that doesn't get enough air time and dramatically affects both climate change and the MDGs.  The real answer? I like solar cookers, but that may just be because I'm loathe to disagree with the Boonstra.

article placeholder

NPR loves the grid

NPR is sure doing its due diligence on the "smart grid."  This week they're running a 10-part series -- every day both on Morning Edition and All Things Considered...now that's dedication. 

This morning, while moving my car to a legal spot, I caught Part 5: Getting Constant Current From Fickle Winds, which explores the chicken and egg problem that potential wind farmers face in South Dakota. They are slow to build wind farms because there are no power lines to take the energy to market, and they won't build power lines because there is no power generation yet. Seems like a deal could be worked out...

My favorite so far? Part 1: An Aged Grid Looks to a Brighter Future. Also love the cool interactive map they've built so you can better envision the grid.

 

article placeholder

GE’s Smart Grid Super Bowl Ad

In case you missed it while sprinting to the bathroom during last night's nail-biter, this is the GE ad touting the smart grid that aired during the Super Bowl last night. It's savvy marketing on their part, attaching their name in such a public venue to a technology that (hopefully) will get a lot of media play this year. UN Dispatch will be closely following the issue. Need to get caught up?
article placeholder

Avoiding a “Cheap and Dirty” Fix for the Economy

Factory.jpg
As the global financial crisis deepens, one question being debated is how the world will deal with urgent environmental issues.On the one hand, we can seek a "green transformation" through public investment:
In the face of economic catastrophe, yesterday's controversial assertion has become today's conventional economic wisdom. That lack of regulation is one root of the current depression is not only the view of liberals and moderates, but also of sensible conservatives. And the need for public investment to fight the depression is no longer in doubt either. There are really only two tools in the conventional economic toolbox to fight a depression: lower interest rates, and public investment. Given that real interest rates are close to zero, that doesn't leave a whole lot of alternatives. ...The bottom line is that we have about $275 billion a year we could productively invest in a green transformation, rising over the course of 20 years to $475 billion, and then dropping down to $265 billion for a decade after the transformation was complete, to pay off the last of the "green debt." Those subsidies would make up for any difference in cost between green energy and dirty energy.
On the other hand, governments can resort to short-term economic fixes over long-term environmental solutions:
The world must avoid a "cheap and dirty" fix for the economy that could undermine the fight against global warming, the U.N.'s top climate official said on Sunday.Yvo de Boer said the world risked a second financial crisis if governments reacted to economic slowdown by building cheap, high-polluting coal-fired power plants that might then have to be scrapped as climate impacts hit."What concerns me most is that the financial crisis will lead to a second set of bad investment decisions," he told a news conference before Dec. 1-12 talks involving 186 nations working on a new climate treaty."I hope that the second financial crisis is not going to have its origins in bad energy loans," he said.
Let's hope we have the foresight to heed De Boer's warning.
article placeholder

Is it Time for “A Green New Deal”?

by Jana Gastellum, Associate Director, Energy Future CoalitionAmong churning financial markets, two international organizations, the United Nations and the International Energy Agency, recently called for green growth as a solution to the current economic crisis.Last week, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon promoted the UN Environment Programme's call for a Green New Deal. Coupling solutions to poverty, energy security, and the environment, Secretary Ban says,
A solution to poverty is also a solution for climate change: green growth. For the world's poor, it is a key to development. For the rich, it is the way of the future... At a time when the global economy is sputtering, we need growth. At a time when unemployment in many nations is rising, we need new jobs. At a time when poverty threatens to overtake hundreds of millions of people, especially in the least developed parts of the world, we need the promise of prosperity. This possibility is at our fingertips.We have experienced great economic transformations throughout history: the industrial revolution, the technology revolution, and the era of globalization. We are now on the threshold of another -- the age of green economics.
article placeholder

$5 billion worth of wind

cgi.gif
Suzlon Green Power, one of the top five producers of wind turbines worldwide, just announced the biggest commitment (dollar-wise) of CGI. Suzlon has committed to bring 3,500 megawatts of electricity to nearly 10 million people, primarily in India and China, over five years. The projected cost of the project is $5 billion, and Suzlon will contribute $1.5 billion in equity. The increase in capacity represents roughly a third of the current capacity of GE, the current world leader.Suzlon estimates that the these projects will cut 7 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, roughly the equivalent of what 350,000 Americans consume -- nothing to sneeze at.