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In the headlines: £24m grant to make Glasgow a smart city and Senator John Kerry addresses climate change

Date
28 January 2013
In the headlines: £24m grant to make Glasgow a smart city and Senator John Kerry addresses climate change

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The UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon says his top hopes for 2013 are to reach a new agreement on climate change and to urgently end the increasingly deadly and divisive war in Syria. "Climate change is fast happening – much, much faster than one would have expected," he said. "Climate and ecosystems are under growing strain...I will do my best to mobilise the political will and resources so that the member states can agree to a new legally binding global agreement on climate change," Ban said. The Guardian, January 22.

Australia

Hot weather in Melbourne is set to cost the city on average $46.5 million a year to the middle of the century, unreleased economic research has found. The study commissioned by Melbourne City Council, undertaken by consultancy AECOM, found projected total costs for 2011-2051 for the Melbourne municipality due to hot weather - heatwaves, the urban heat island effect, and single hot days - will be $1.86 billion. ''Modelling indicates that the City of Melbourne will be increasingly subjected to extreme weather events in the form of flooding and intense storms, hot days and heatwaves, [and] droughts due to the impacts of climate change,'' the council's submission says. Sydney Morning Herald, January 25.

The forecast expansion of Australian coal mining and exports would be the world's second largest contributor of new carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels if fully realised, research by Greenpeace International has found. An analysis of the planet's 14 largest proposed, coal, oil and gas developments finds if Australian coal production expands as projected, the mining, production and burning of the extra resource would, by 2020, result in 759 million tonnes of new global carbon dioxide emissions a year over 2011 levels. Sydney Morning Herald, January 23.

China

Investments in smart-grid technologies that boost efficiency and curb energy waste rose 7 percent last year to $13.9 billion, driven by spending in China, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. China raised investments by 14 percent to $3.2 billion, largely because of a smart-metering program, according to the London-based research company. It forecasts Chinese spending on smart grids will outstrip the U.S. this year, where it fell 16 percent to $4.3 billion. Bloomberg, January 24.

According to new research from the NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report, the Chinese end-market received 33% of global solar photovoltaic (PV) shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012.“Just two years ago, the Chinese end-market was less than 10% of global PV demand,” stated Michael Barker, Senior Analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “However, during Q4’12, a third of all global PV panel shipments ended up in China. This is the start of a new chapter for the solar industry, with China potentially taking center stage in both the upstream and downstream channels.” Clean Technica, January 23.

Europe

Norway could store 100 times its annual emissions of carbon dioxide under the Norwegian Sea to help fight climate change, adding to its even bigger potential under the North Sea, an official report showed on Friday. The findings are most relevant for natural gas finds such as the Sleipner field in the North Sea, where the gas contains high levels of carbon dioxide. An atlas by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) showed that geological formations could store 5.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide beneath the Norwegian Sea, against current annual Norwegian emissions of about 50 million tonnes. Reuters, January 25.

India

Three green technology start-ups from the UK will take their businesses to India in February with Government support to explore trading opportunities in this fast-growing economy. Buffalo Grid, Sunde, and Trusted Renewables are to travel to Bangalore, India in mid-February as a part of Web Mission 2013, an entrepreneur-led project supported by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), and other private sponsors. Green Wise, January 23.

North America

Senator John Kerry has indicated climate change will be a priority as Secretary of State, calling for American leadership on what he termed a ‘life threatening issue’. Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his nomination hearing, Kerry said USA foreign policy would be defined by its approach to global warming, together with political unrest in Africa and victims of human trafficking. Taking issue with many at the top of US politics who refuse to accept climate change is taking place, and recalling both Hurricane Sandy and the ongoing US drought, Kerry said this was not an issue he planned to back down on. “I will be a passionate advocate based not on ideology, but on facts and science,” he said, adding: “This is a six trillion dollar clean energy market – and we better go after it.” RTCC.org, January 25.

Volkswagen has officially opened its solar park - which it claims to be the largest facility in the world – which will provide power to its US factory. Built on Volkswagen’s compound in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the 9.5MW solar park includes 33,600 solar panels and occupies 13 hectares of land. It is believed to have the capacity of producing more than 13GWh of electricity per year, equivalent to the amount of energy used by 1,200 households. The park is also expected to meet around 12.5% of the plant’s electricity needs during full production. The project is part of the carmaker’s ‘Think Blue. Factory’ initiative, which aims to make more efficient use of energy, materials and water as well as reduce waste and emissions. The company has set a target of cutting environmental impacts at every plant by 25% by 2018. Energy Live News, January 25.

UK

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), Britain’s biggest government-owned lender, may channel as much as 400 million pounds ($631 million) into clean energy this year with a focus on biomass. The bank is working on about five deals to support plants that will use organic matter such as wood chips to generate electricity, said Andrew Buglass, head of energy in RBS’s structured finance division. The facilities, to be built from scratch, will each have a capacity of 50 to 150 megawatts, he said. Projects of that size may cost as much as 300 million pounds and RBS expects other banks to invest as well. Britain’s biomass industry has gained momentum following clarification of government support levels in July. The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates bioenergy plants using wood chips and organic waste to produce heat and power may meet 8 percent to 11 percent of the nation’s primary energy demand in eight years. Bloomberg, January 24.

Glasgow has won a £24m UK government grant intended to make it one of the UK's first smart cities. It will use the money on projects to demonstrate how a city of the future might work. It will use analytical software and security cameras to help identify and prevent crime in the city and monitor energy levels to find new ways of providing gas and electricity to poorer areas where fuel poverty is a big issue. Glasgow will not be the UK's only smart city. Others including Birmingham, Sunderland and London are beginning to roll out technologies to make services work more smartly. The grant was offered by the Technology Strategy Board. BBC News, January 25.

Electric Vehicles

Switching to electric and plug-in hybrid cars could reduce companies' fleet fuel costs by three quarters, according to the results of a new survey. The Energy Saving Trust-backed study explores the potential savings available to 20 organisations, including Boots, Network Rail and Morrisons, each of which have now been issued with a strategic plan to help them introduce electric vehicles into their fleets. While the report finds pure electric vehicles very attractive for regular and predictable journeys under 100 miles a day, installing charging points on premises significantly boosts the range these cars can travel, "proving the business case for a pure EV beyond doubt". BusinessGreen, January 24.

UK electric car drivers could have 122,000 public charge points to choose from by the end of the decade, under new EU plans to accelerate the rollout of infrastructure to support alternative fuel vehicles. The European Commission published a proposal to mandate a minimum number of standardised public recharging points that each member state should have in place by 31 December 2020. The commission has put forward the idea, alongside plans to promote hydrogen and natural gas powered vehicles, with a view to accelerating the distribution of low-carbon vehicles across the EU. BusinessGreen, January 24.

LED Lighting

Sainsbury's has announced that its new store in Leek, Staffordshire will feature an LED lighting system that promises to slash energy use by almost 60 per cent. The company said that it has become the first supermarket in the world to install GE's new Lumination Linear Suspended lighting system, which not only takes advantage of highly efficient LEDs but also includes daylight sensors to optimise the use of natural daylight. According to Sainsbury's, the new lighting will cut energy use by 59 per cent compared to conventional in-store lighting, delivering annual energy savings equivalent to that required to make 10 million cups of tea. BusinessGreen, January 25.

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