Thursday, January 6, 2011

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Geothermal Heat Pump Systems’ Contributions Towards Emissions Reductions

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 04:04 PM PST

On Thursday, December 16, 2010, the California Air Resource Board approved a plan that would place a cap in 2012 on the amount of carbon emissions from 600 major industrial plants in the state. This is a huge step towards California's legislative goal set by the Global Warming Solutions Act to reduce green house gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. This is a 15% reduction in today's levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

It would be fair to say, as the cap and trade policy is implemented, building owners will be obligated to find ways to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions. It can also be noted that although climate legislation on Capitol Hill has taken a halt, California's bold efforts will produce response by other states that are sure to follow California's lead. When this occurs the expense to emit tonnage of greenhouse gases will become very costly to building owners.

Facts about Carbon Emissions in the U.S.:

Major greenhouse gases consist of the following: COx, NOx, SOx, and O3,. All of which are mostly formed directly or indirectly through combustion processes, and whose emissions can be correlated with CO2 emissions:

  • The U.S. produces 1000 tonnes of CO2 every 5.3 seconds
  • Per capita carbon emissions in the U.S. are approximately 19.5 tonnes per year
  • Fossil fuels account for 85% of the primary energy use in the U.S. and are responsible for 98% of CO2 emissions
  • The transportation sector only accounts for 25% of all CO2 emissions

Buildings represent approximately 40% of all energy use and an equivalent 40% of all CO2 emissions in the United States. 65% of a building's energy is consumed by heating and cooling, and therefore an approximate 26% of all CO2 emissions in the U.S. are a result of heating and cooling of buildings. This means HVAC systems account for a little over 1/4 of all CO2 emissions in the U.S., and the majority of a building's carbon emissions.

Geothermal Heat Pump Systems (GHPS) could potentially reduce the amount of energy used for heating and cooling by up to 70% according to the EPA, resulting in an equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. With elimination of heating equipment such as boilers and furnaces which use the combustion of oils and gases to heat buildings, and the elimination of cooling towers which utilize large amounts of energy, installation and use of GHPS result in zero on-site emissions and significant reductions in peak demand, which reduces emissions from power plants.

If all heating and cooling units in the U.S. were to be converted to GHPS a conservative total estimated reduction in energy used for heating and cooling of 50% could be obtained. This would result in an overall estimated 15% reduction in total carbon emissions for the U.S. For California, this would mean reaching the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act goal of 1990 level green house gas emissions.

Restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions for the major industrial plants are sure to be followed by policy restricting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions allotted to buildings. When this occurs building owners are going to be looking for the most cost effective way to reduce their carbon footprint. GHPS are a sensible solution for the situation. The new cap and trade policy in California is sure to have a profound impact on the GHPS market. As building owners feel the financial burden of excess carbon emissions, the implementation of GHPS is sure to increase.

Albert Escobedo is an associate of EnLink Geoenergy Services, a full service geothermal heat pump system contractor, based in Los Angeles County.

Photo Credit: CSLP

EU Exceeds Target for 20% Renewable Energy by 2020

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 03:20 PM PST

Finland, which already gets 30% of its energy from renewable sources, has a new 2020 target to make that 38%. Sweden, which already gets 42%, now has a target of 50% by 2020.

National Renewable Energy Action Plans published at Renewable Energy Focus show that averaged across the EU, 34% of EU electricity demand could be supplied from renewable sources by 2020, with 14% coming from wind alone. Overall, most of the member states are on target to either meet or exceed the original 20% by 2020 targets.

For the more advanced countries in the EU, that already get a higher percentage of renewable energy, higher targets for renewables are now being set. As each goal is being met earlier and easier, higher ones are being set in place.

The advanced nations there are like the US blue states here, in terms of energy policy, except they are years ahead of our blue states. Only Maine, which has already exceeded its goal of 30%, and is currently getting 40% from renewable energy, (and if you count hydro: 55%) is comparable with Sweden or Finland. Maine set its goal for 2000.

Europe signed Kyoto in 1997, and like Maine, began early. In the US, there has been no Federal policy, but starting during the Bush years, out of despair at the lack of climate change action, the blue states started passing state policy that required utilities to buy more renewable energy. The most ambitious of these are California which plans 33% by 2020 and Colorado which has  just set a 30% goal.

As Maine’s example shows, the earlier you start, the sooner you get some real results. Starting from a mere handful of states in 2000, by 2009 30 states had passed an RES. What’s left is the red states, most of them oil and coal dependent, and five of which are more than 90% powered by coal.

But Europe has its own backward nations too, just as we have red states that send Senators to congress to prevent action on renewable energy. For example, nearly 100% oil-powered Malta is dragging its feet in meeting just 10% by 2020 and may not make it. According to the EU tally, Luxembourg is lagging its goal of just 11%. Former soviet satellite states the Czech Republic and Hungary are only being asked to try for 13% by 2020, and the former is struggling to meet it.

But some other former Soviet puppet states are doing surprisingly well. Latvia, which shares the Baltic Sea with Sweden and Finland, is on target to make 40%. Even Romania and Slovenia are on target to get 24% and 25%.

Image: Frogdog

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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