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In the headlines: India's first solar city and Saudi Arabia plans to go green

Date
25 February 2013
In the headlines: India's first solar city and Saudi Arabia plans to go green

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Global

Green businesses have welcomed the official launch of Saudi Arabia's massive renewable energy procurement programme, which could see 54GW of new capacity added to the grid by 2032. The government-backed K.A. CARE (King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy) unveiled a white paper detailing the tender processes for new solar PV and solar thermal power plants, wind farms, geothermal facilities and waste-to-energy plants. The first three rounds of contracts are now expected to be awarded before 2015, with a view to creating more than 7GW of new capacity, the majority of which will come from solar power. BusinessGreen, February 22.

A global temperature rise of 1.5C would be enough to start the melting of permafrost in Siberia, scientists warned. Any widespread thaw in Siberia's permanently frozen ground could have severe consequences for climate change. Permafrost covers about 24% of the land surface of the northern hemisphere, and widespread melting could eventually trigger the release of hundreds of gigatonnes of carbon dioxide and methane, which would have a massive warming effect. However, any such melting would be likely to take many decades, so the initial release of greenhouse gas would probably be on a much smaller scale. The Guardian, February 21.

Australia

Australia must immediately invest in alternative energy technologies in order to pull off its emissions reduction targets and provide a sustainable energy system for the country by 2035, suggests a new study by the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland. Apart from coal-fired power plants, a combination of large-scale renewable energy facilities, including solar and wind, is needed to secure Australia’s energy future, said Professor John Foster, researcher and study co-author. “We are heavily dependent on coal and for good reason; 20 to 30 years ago it was a sensible strategy and we have enjoyed cheap power up until about five years ago. Now, the sensible strategy is to diversify our sources of generation as much as possible to improve resilience,” said Professor Foster. EcoSeed, February 22.

China

China will proactively introduce a set of new taxation policies designed to preserve the environment, including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Finance (MOF). The government will collect the environmental protection tax instead of pollutant discharge fees, as well as levy a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, Jia Chen, head of the ministry's tax policy division, wrote in an article published on the MOF's website. It will be the local taxation authority, rather than the environmental protection department, that will collect the taxes. The government is also looking into the possibility of taxing energy-intensive products such as batteries, as well as luxury goods such as aircraft that are not used for public transportation, according to Jia. Xinhua, February 19. Click here to read The Climate Group's response to this news story.

Wind has overtaken nuclear as an electricity source in China. In 2012, wind farms generated 2 percent more electricity than nuclear power plants did, a gap that will likely widen dramatically over the next few years as wind surges ahead. Since 2007, nuclear power generation has risen by 10 percent annually, compared with wind’s explosive growth of 80 percent per year. Earth Techling, February 22.

Europe

Norwegian taxpayers could end up subsidising the construction of renewable power generation in neighbouring Sweden because investment under a joint subsidy scheme is cheaper on the other side of the border. Norway, with a lengthy coastline exposed to Atlantic gales, is ideal for wind turbines. But taxes and financial rules still make it cheaper to take Norwegian subsidies and carry them across the border to Sweden. Reuters, February 21.

Germany is getting more power than ever before from sources dependent on wind and sunshine, pushing short-term price swings to the biggest in five years and boosting volume as utilities increase trading. The gap between the highest and lowest price over two months for electricity deliverable the next day widened to the most since December 2007 through yesterday, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. German wind output peaked at a record 23,331 megawatts on Jan. 31, enough to supply 46 million homes. That compares with an average of 5,079 megawatts during 2012, data from European Energy Exchange AG on Bloomberg show. Bloomberg, February 19.

India

There is going to be a major shift in crop pattern across the state and the yields of different agriculture and horticulture crops will be reduced owing to climate change over the years, according to agriculture scientists. Scientists in the field of climate change met at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, (UAS-B) to discuss adaptive strategies to meet challenges of climate change. According to Prof M B Rajegowda, Agro-meteorologist at UAS-B, temperatures are likely to rise gradually by 2.5-4 degrees Celsius from the current levels over the Indian subcontinent by 2035. As a result, yield of some of important crops in Karnataka may fall by 10-20 per cent. New Indian Express, February 23.

The state government on Friday announced that the Taj city would be the first ‘solar city’ of the country. Minister of state for alternative energy (independent charge) Vijay Mishra said that a Detailed Project Report(DPR) has been sent by the Agra authorities for making the city as the first solar city of the country. “The work on the project in Agra would start once the Centre approves the DPR. The solar system in Agra would save more than 10% of the power energy,” the minister said to a question of BSP member Dharampal Singh. Hindustan Times, February 23.

North America

The historic U.S. drought of 2012 could spread this spring to more of California and southern Florida, balancing improvement expected in the upper Midwest and parts of the South, government climate and agriculture experts said. They also projected a warmer-than-normal summer over almost the entire United States, except for the extreme northern Plains and Rocky Mountain states and along the Pacific Coast. Even northern Alaska is expected to see above-normal temperatures. These forecasts were part of the National Drought Early Warning Outlook produced by groups that included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service, USDA and other agencies. Climate Spectator, February 22.

SolarCity Corp., the solar-power provider led by billionaire Elon Musk, is partnering with Honda Motor Co. to finance $65 million worth of rooftop projects for car buyers and dealers. Japan’s third-largest automaker will begin offering Honda or Acura buyers living in SolarCity’s 14-state coverage area, including California and New Jersey, a $400 discount toward a residential system, Steven Center, a vice president at American Honda Motor Co., said in an interview today. The partnership also will deploy systems on as many as 20 dealerships. “We’re trying to create the liquidity that will build the solar market,” Center said. “We’ll probably run the course of the program this year.” As many as 3,000 customers will qualify for the discount, he said. Bloomberg, February 20.

UK

British Gas has announced plans to do its bit to help tackle the UK's youth unemployment crisis by creating 1,000 new green jobs for its nationwide home insulation programme. The energy giant announced the new programme will see it partner with environmental charity Global Action Plan and consultancy Accenture, which announced its own goal of equipping 500,000 people with new skills by 2015. Under the partnership, which is also backed by Jobcentre Plus, Global Action Plan will aim to train 1,400 young people aged between 17 and 25 who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) with a wide range if sustainability skills. BusinessGreen, February 25.

Electric Vehicles

The UK government has unveiled a £37m funding package to help install thousands of electric car chargers at homes, stations, and along roads throughout the country. The money will provide three quarters of the cost of fitting the new charge points and comes from the £400m pot the government intends to spend by 2015 to increase the uptake of low carbon cars. The full package includes up to £13.5m for homeowners looking to install a domestic charge point, £11m for local authorities to cover on-street charging for residents and rapid charge points on the road network, and £9m for train operators to fund chargers at railway stations. BusinessGreen, February 19.

Tesla is using its Apple-style stores to draw in customers across Europe and Asia, and in particular jump into a new market, China. Already a quarter of Tesla’s reservations are outside of the U.S. so the bet on international growth, seems like a good one. In Tesla’s earnings call, Tesla’s VP of Worldwide Experience George Blankenship reiterated that Tesla plans to open its first store in China — in a shopping area in Beijing — this spring, and the company is planning stores in Hong Kong and more in Japan in the later part of 2013. Tesla already has at least eight stores in the works in big cities across Europe, and will shortly be delivering Model S cars to those European stores. Gigaom, February 22.

LED Lighting

LEDs that are completely free of heavy metals have been successfully created by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto. The highly efficient and heavy-metal-free LEDs were made by utilizing silicon nanocrystals that are only a few nanometers across. The silicon-based light-emitting diodes (SiLEDs) should eventually be able to take the place of any currently used LEDs, but without having the same environmental impact and at far cheaper costs. Clean Technica, February 23.

Thought leadership

Coal's hidden costs make solar a bargain: “Coal is the cheapest source of energy” is the oft repeated mantra not only of industry but of ministers. It is only cheap under accounting that ignores full costs. With full cost accounting of externalities it is likely to be the most expensive fuel and the acceptance of this simple concept would pave the way for the renewable revolution. Climate Spectator, February 20.

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