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In the headlines: China increases its solar-power installations and offshore wind in Europe rose by a third

Date
04 February 2013
In the headlines: China increases its solar-power installations and offshore wind in Europe rose by a third

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Global

One of the world's biggest insurance companies has been raising premiums for three years because weather patterns across the country have become more severe, said Jay Fishman, The Travelers Cos. chairman and CEO. "We've embraced the notion that weather is different. I don't know why. I'm not a scientist," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday. "If you're not impressed with what the weather has been doing over the last few years, you're not keeping your eyes open." CNBC, February 1.

Australia

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a general election for 14 September. Ms Gillard said that she would ask Governor-General Quentin Bryce to order that parliament be dissolved on 12 August. She said the announcement, eight months in advance, was "not to start the nation's longest election campaign" but to give "shape and order" to the year. The prime minister said the rare long run-up to the election would allow individuals, businesses and investors to plan ahead. BBC News, January 30.

Australia had its hottest month on record in January. The average mean temperature of 29.68C and the average mean maximum temperature of 36.92C were the hottest in 81 years, passing previous records set in January 1932. Queensland had 30.75C, its hottest mean temperature on record. The Northern Territory also clocked up a record with 31.93C. Weather bureau figures show the January heatwave was exceptional in extent and duration. The national average maximum on January 7 was the highest on record. The Courier Mail, February 3.

China

China plans to increase its goal for solar-power installations in 2015 by 67 percent to reduce reliance on fossil fuels blamed for greenhouse gases and as smog in Beijing reached record hazardous levels. The world’s biggest emitter of carbon-dioxide plans to raise the solar target to 35 gigawatts by 2015 from 21 gigawatts set last year, boosting demand for manufactures that suffer from slowing sales in Europe, Shi Dinghuan, the counselor of China’s State Council and the president of Chinese Renewable Energy Society, said by phone. Bloomberg, January 30.

The anticipated government action to clean up the air quality in cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, has triggered a rush for shares in companies that specialize in pollution-control equipment and technology. Chen Fangming, a Shanghai-based private equity fund manager, said shares in the environmental protection sub-index of China's A-share market have risen more than 8 percent in the past two weeks, as investors anticipate government investment in the green sector to be "very large indeed". In recent days, he said investors have been targeting companies across the environmental sector, particularly vendors of products that can help reduce air pollution and hazardous emissions, and enhance air quality. China Daily, January 24.

Europe

The European Commission President has suggested the Union may need to consider a 40% carbon reduction target from 2020. The EU is currently committed to reducing emissions 20% by 2020, but speaking in Vienna, Jose Manual Barroso admitted this would be insufficient to avert dangerous levels of global warming. Some countries in the EU wish to increase their 2020 target to 30%, and Barroso said discussions on how the bloc can increase its ambition are ongoing. RTCC.org, February 1.

Offshore wind power installations in Europe rose by a third in 2012 and may increase by another 20% this year as developers build bigger farms in deeper waters, the European Wind Energy Association said. Siemens AG had the biggest share of the market, with the Munich-based conglomerate taking 74% of installations. “The trend towards larger projects is expected to continue over the coming years,” EWEA said. “Both average water depth and distance to shore are expected to increase.” EWEA forecasts grid connections to total 1,400 megawatts this year, and 1,900 megawatts in 2014. Grid connection delays in Germany, political in-fighting over electricity market reform in the U.K. and environmental constraints in Belgium have held projects back. Bloomberg, January 28.

India

A government scientist said on Friday that air quality in New Delhi has worsened this week and is now "very poor," although it should not be compared to China's capital. Gurfan Baig of the state-run Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said that levels of tiny particulate known as PM 2.5, which can penetrate deep into the lungs, had reached 250 micrograms per cubic meter in various neighborhoods in and around the Indian capital. The amount is more than 10 times higher than World Health Organization safety levels over a 24-hour period. Although the level is threatening to the health, it is still much better than Beijing recently, where levels of PM 2.5 have been hovering around 500. The Times of India, February 1.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the fiscal consolidation roadmap announced by India will help in getting back to high economic growth rate of 8-9 per cent in the coming years. "The government is, I think, taking quite appropriate fiscal consolidation efforts and measures. Indian economy is likely to recover in 2013 fiscal year," ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda told reporters. The Economic Times, February 1.

North America

A US pension fund with nearly $2bn in assets is considering selling its holdings in some of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies because of the threat posed by climate change. In what investor advocacy groups say would be the first divestment of its kind, the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System is to discuss on Thursday a request from Mike McGinn, the city’s mayor, to sell out of companies including ExxonMobil and Chevron. The move is one of the most visible results so far of a campaign spearheaded by Bill McKibben, the US environmental activist, modelled on the 1980s disinvestment movement that pressed South Africa to dismantle its apartheid system of racial segregation. Financial Times, January 30.

The US is missing out on its share of the $1 trillion dollars total cumulative global solar photovoltaic revenue predicted for 2012-2018 because of its policies and political atmosphere, according to a new report from the Pew Charitable Trust lobbying group. The report notes that the US is falling behind other countries such as Germany, Italy, and China. And it calls upon President Obama and Congress to introduce new measures in order to not fall further behind in the growing renewable energy revolution. Clean Technica, January 30.

Electric Vehicles

Nissan plans to install "at least" 500 fast-charge points for electric cars across the US to help boost take-up of the vehicles. The Japanese car maker along with partner NRG Energy said that the chargers would be fitted in major cities over the next 18 months and capable of recharging its LEAF model to 80 per cent capacity in less than half an hour. Currently, there are about 160 public fast chargers in place in the US, and the industry and government hopes to increase take-up by improving the infrastructure. BusinessGreen, February 1.

It has been confirmed that BMW and Toyota have signed an MOU to secure a long-term partnership that focuses on developing and using low carbon technologies. This collaboration will focus on four areas including; joint development of a fuel cell system, joint development of architecture and components for a new sports vehicle, collaboration on the development of electric car drivetrains and joint research and development of new fuel-saving, lightweight technologies. The Green Car Website, January 29.

Three major automakers are banding together to get fuel cell vehicles on the road faster. Ford, Nissan and Daimler said Monday they have signed a three-way agreement for joint development of a common fuel cell system to put affordable fuel cell electric vehicles on the road as early as 2017. Each company will invest equally but the total investment was not disclosed. Detroit Free Press, January 29.

LED Lighting

LED sales at Philips have grown by 43 per cent in quarter four of 2012, compared to the previous year’s quarter. According to the company’s latest financial results, sales in its lighting portfolio have risen by 4 per cent in 2012’s quarter four to €2.26 billion (£1.9 billion), when compared to the same period the previous year. The company’s lighting sales rose in Europe, China, India and Brazil but decreased in the US. The group said its LED sales now represent 25 per cent of its total lighting sales. Lighting, January 30.

The University of Strathclyde in the UK has created a research center aimed at turning the constant flicker of LED lights into a way to transmit internet communications using visible light, as opposed to radio waves (Wi-Fi, cellular) or via cables. Dubbed, the Intelligent Lighting Centre (ILC), the consortium is made up of researchers from several UK universities, and is backed with £4.6 million (US $7.28M) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Together the consortium aims to conduct research on a smaller LED than other groups around the world that are also investigating this technology. Gigaom, January 31.

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