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In the headlines: Australia has more than 2m small-scale renewable energy systems and China plans to double its number of wind turbines

Date
13 January 2014
In the headlines: Australia has more than 2m small-scale renewable energy systems and China plans to double its number of wind turbines

Clean Revolution news stories you may have missed:

Global

The consequences of climate change stretch beyond deep freezes. In South Korea, warmer temperatures have already begun to lengthen tick and mosquito season, causing the number of infectious diseases to rise by more than 20,000 cases from 2012 to 2013, according to a report from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in The Korea Herald. This finding reinforces a belief long held by epidemiologists and climatologists — that climate change will dramatically increase the prevalence of vector-borne disease across the globe. The Weather Channel, January 10.

Asia – Pacific

Australia now has more than 2m small-scale renewable energy systems, according to the Clean Energy Regulator, the falling cost of solar panel systems and the renewable energy target credited for the milestone. The Clean Energy Regulator, a government agency that oversees Australia’s renewable energy targets, said the 2m systems could generate 6,882 gigawatt hours of electricity a year. The Guardian, January 9.

Australia's standing as the home among the gumtrees could be challenged, with increased climate stress causing extensive change to Australia's eucalypt ecosystems. A study by the National Environmental Research Program's Environmental Decisions Hub has found that climate stress on eucalypts will mean many of Australia's 750 species will struggle to cope with climate change. Sydney Morning Herald, January 13.

China

China has embarked on the greatest push for renewable energy the world has ever seen. A key element involves more than doubling the number of wind turbines in the next six years. Already the world's largest producer of wind power, China plans further massive increases. From a current installed capacity of 75 gigawatts (GW), the aim is to achieve a staggering 200GW by 2020. BBC News, January 8.

Europe

Spain generated the largest chunk of its energy from wind in 2013 – the first country to hit this renewables milestone – according to figures from the country’s national wind association. Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE) is set to confirm that wind produced 21.1% of a total 246,166 gigawatt hours of electricity consumed in Spain last year, just edging ahead of nuclear’s 21.0% of the total. This is a 12% increase on the 2012 figure, when wind produced 18.1% of the country’s power. Responding to Climate Change, January 6.

India

India plans an agency to oversee the development of offshore wind farms as the country’s best sites on land fill up, prompting it to promote projects at sea. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy will seek cabinet approval soon to set up the agency, the government said today in a statement, citing Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, January 9.

India’s Supreme Court has ordered the government to open a new institution based on the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency, aimed at addressing rising levels of pollution across the country. The National Environmental Appraisal and Monitoring Authority will decide where power stations, dams, mining operations and industrial units can be built. The new autonomous body could play an important role in protecting India’s fast-disappearing forests, reduce the spread of coal-fired power plants and force businesses to engage better with local communities. Responding to Climate Change, January 9.

North America

President Barack Obama has ordered a review of US energy legislation in response to the challenges posed by climate change and an aging power infrastructure. He issued a Memorandum yesterday, directing federal agencies to set up a Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) task force, which would initially review the government’s strategies relating to how energy is transported, transmitted and delivered. Responding to Climate Change, January 10.

Consumer attitudes toward clean energy technologies in America rebounded strongly in 2013 to reach their highest levels since 2010, countering several years of declines in favorability ratings between 2009-2012. This good news comes from Navigant Research’s 2013 Energy and Environment Consumer Survey, and indicates clean tech may finally be established as a preferred option for consumers despite high-profile conservative attacks. Clean Technica, January 6.

UK

David Cameron has sought to quell unrest in Conservative heartlands about the impact of fracking by promising a business rates windfall to councils that approve shale gas projects. The pledge, made on Monday, coincides with an announcement by France’s Total that it will spend about $50m on exploring for shale gas in the East Midlands, making it the first oil major to invest in the UK’s fledgling sector. The prime minister said that local authorities will be able to keep 100 per cent of rates they collect from shale sites – up from the usual 50 per cent – amounting to an estimated £1.7m for a 12-well site. Financial Times, January 13.

Britain will decide whether to alter or stick with an ambitious goal to curb emissions from 2023 to 2027 by the end of the first quarter this year, a government spokeswoman said on Wednesday. The so-called fourth carbon budget has been a subject of debate among some politicians who argue for a weaker emissions cut target to prevent damage to the economy and government advisors who say altering the goals will undermine investor confidence in low-carbon technology. Reuters, January 8.

Innovation

Scientists in the US think they may be on the track of a new kind of battery technology that could store huge reserves of energy. One of the great problems of renewable energy generators such as photovoltaic cells and wind turbines is that they can’t respond to demand. When the sun is out, nobody needs so much heating and lighting, so the electricity goes to waste. In theory, surplus energy could be saved for hours of darkness or when the winds drop, but at a prohibitive cost. But Michael Aziz of Harvard University in Boston and colleagues report in Nature that they have tested what is, quite literally, a solution to the problem. Responding to Climate Change, January 10.

Today, Baroness Kramer, the UK's Minister of State for Transport, officially launched an all-electric bus route that will test whether electric buses can perform on a par with their diesel counterparts in a real-world operational environment. The buses will run for five years in a carefully monitored demonstration programme, which will objectively assess their technical and commercial viability. The trial has been planned and will be managed by Mitsui-Arup joint venture MBK Arup Sustainable Projects (MASP). Arup, January 9.

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