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In the headlines: record-breaking clean energy patents in the US and EV sales set to rise in 2013

Date
07 January 2013
In the headlines: record-breaking clean energy patents in the US and EV sales set to rise in 2013

Here's a global snapshot of some of the biggest clean technology, economy and policy headlines, from the week commencing January 7, 2013.

Global

Jordan is to receive about $300m in funding from regional economic body the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to boost renewable energy via a series of wind and solar projects. The money – part of a $5bn GCC grant – will help fund 75-100MW of wind and 50-75MW of solar capacity in the Maan and Aqaba governorates in southern Jordan. The funding is the latest in a string of international aid agreements for clean-energy projects in Jordan, including a $112m loan from the World Bank in July to support the establishment of a 100MW concentrating solar power plant. Recharge, January 3.

Australia

Prime Minister Julia Gillard underscored the dangers facing Australia this summer from climate change as she saw Tasmanian bushfire ruins, and warned people to expect more. Ms Gillard said New South Wales faced potentially catastrophic conditions on Tuesday, and the crisis was not over in Tasmania. "And while you would not put any one event down to climate change ... we do know that over time as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events," she said. Brisbane Times, January 7.

Vital public infrastructure in Victoria including hospitals, schools and police stations is under increased threat of damage as climate change intensifies. A consultancy report has warned that billions of dollars worth of infrastructure covered by the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority is exposed to the impacts of natural disasters such as bushfires and floods. The intensity and frequency of such disasters are forecast to increase as the planet warms. The report says this will threaten infrastructure insured by the authority, potentially exposing the agency - and ultimately taxpayers - to higher recovery and insurance costs. Sydney Morning Herald, January 7.

Read The Climate Group's latest views on combating the effects of climate change. 

China

China will pay out 8.6 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) in subsidies for power generated from renewable energy sources in 2012, according to the Ministry of Finance. The funding, co-issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Board, will be allotted by provincial financial authorities to grid companies that buy renewable power from generators at above-market tariffs. Of the funds, 5.85 billion yuan will be spent in wind power, 723 million yuan in solar power and 2.02 billion yuan in subsidizing electricity produced from biomass, said the Ministry. Ecoseed, December 20.

The Head of China’s Climate Commission says technology transfer cooperation is the key to curbing its spiralling carbon emissions. Speaking to RTCC, Li Junfeng said tech transfer and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues needed to be addressed. “Without that it is very difficult for the developing country to have new technologies,” he said. “We need to work together for the cooperation, co-research on low carbon technologies. IP issues and tech transfer should be combined together.” RTCC, January 4.

Europe

The EU has agreed measures to aid the extension and building of the cross-border electricity networks – including a North Sea grid – that it says are vital for renewables development. A political agreement on draft legislation has been reached between the European Parliament and the EU Council. “This is really a breakthrough and will give a big push to much-needed infrastructure,” says Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger. Recharge, December 28.

India

Tulsi Tanti, chairman of The Climate Group member Suzlon, writes about the future of wind power in India; Wind energy will play a major part in shaping India's future. The Economic Times, January 4.

To study the potential of harnessing wind power, four wind monitoring stations (WMS) will be set up in Pilibhit, Sitapur, Shahjahanpur and Lakhimpur districts of Uttar Pradesh by the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET). After a year of analysis by C-WET, power plants based on wind energy will be developed in these areas on public-private partnership (PPP) model. This is the first time efforts are being made to tap wind power energy in northern India. The Indian Express, January 1.

North America

A record 798 clean energy patents were lodged in the US in the third quarter of 2012, of which auto giant Toyota was responsible for almost 10 per cent, new figures have revealed. The Japanese manufacturer's 71 patents, up 25 from the previous quarter, saw it garner the most clean tech patents of any company for the third quarter running, according to statistics compiled by Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti (HRF&M). BusinessGreen, January 7.

New York state agencies have been ordered to increase the energy efficiency of their buildings by 20 per cent over the next seven years. Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a state order in the last week of 2012, accompanied by a new implementation programme called "Build Smart NY", which he branded "a financial and environmental win-win for New Yorkers". The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has committed $450m in low-cost financing to support the initiative, and the governor's office said most of the projects covered by the programme would not result in any upfront cost to government agencies as they will be able to repay the loans through the resulting energy savings. BusinessGreen, January 4.

UK

Plans to allow renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels and heat pumps, to integrate seamlessly into the grid are to take a step forward with the trial of a new electricity storage system. Three electricity storage units, manufactured by S&C Electric, have been installed as part of a "zero carbon homes" project in Slough. The 10 zero carbon homes, developed by energy giant SSE and funded by Ofgem's multi- million pound Low Carbon Network's Fund, already contain a range of green technologies, including solar photovoltaic panels, water recycling systems, and enhanced insulation. BusinessGreen, January 7.

Electric Vehicles

Electric car sales are set to rise dramatically as more models come onto the market during 2013 and charging infrastructure expands, according to new research. Analyst firm Mintel estimated last month that sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars in the US will exceed 535,000 units in 2013, a sizable increase on the 440,000 sold last year. Sales of hybrids and electric cars rose 73 per cent in 2012, making it the fastest growing segment in the US auto market. BusinessGreen, January 4.

LED Lighting

Transport chiefs have completed a new scheme to replace bus shelter lighting in Rotherham with more efficient LED lights in a bid to save energy. The move by the organisation running the county’s buses, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, has seen lights replaced in over 2,000 shelters county-wide, saving around £150,000 a year. Rotherham Advertiser, December 25.

Notts County Council is set to trial LED street lights as it seeks to cut down its energy bills. The trial will see the lights in four residential streets converted to LED with the authority saying the new lights would be more energy-efficient. If successful, the system could be introduced county-wide by the end of the year. Following the trials, the county will look at each of the four companies – Philips, Urbis, Advanced LED and LED Roadway Lighting – to decide which will be used in the county. This decision is expected to be made in April. West Bridgford Wire, January 4.

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