Friday, August 17, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Developing Economies At Highest Risk of Climate Change Disasters

Posted: 16 Aug 2012 10:50 AM PDT

 
Several of the world's fastest-growing economies face the largest financial threats from natural disasters fueled by climate change, according to the new Natural Hazards Risk Atlas.

The study, released by risk analysis company Maplecroft, evaluated the risks posed to 197 countries across 29 risk indices and physical exposure to 12 different natural hazards. Maplecroft found 30 countries in extreme risk.

Water, Water Everywhere

India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam are among the ten countries with the greatest proportion of their economic output threatened by natural disasters. Risk in these countries is focused on one factor: most of their major cities and commercial hubs are located along coastlines or low-lying areas prone to flooding as sea levels rise and at risk of stronger storms fueled by warmer water and air temperatures.
 

 
Beyond simple economic risks caused by supply chain breaks, infrastructure damage, and market disruptions, Maplecroft found these countries at risk of political disruption. Large-scale natural disasters exacerbate the risk of societal unrest, food security, corruption, and rule of law.

"High exposure to natural hazards in these countries are compounded by a lack of resilience," said Helen Hodge, Maplecroft's Head of Maps and Indices. "The occurrence of a major event would be very likely to have significant impacts on total economic output of these countries as well as foreign business."

Resilience Outranks Risk

While developing economies have the greatest proportion of their economies at risk, they're not alone. Maplecroft found major economies like Taiwan, Japan, China, Brazil, and Mexico have the largest total economic exposure to natural disaster in absolute terms. However, these countries have a far greater capacity to recover from disaster due to resilience factors like economic strength, strong governments, disaster preparedness, and building regulations.

These factors are largely absent in developing economies, meaning they take much longer to bounce back, if at all. While the highest-risk countries have booming economies, they are fueled by poor populations who live on marginal lands like flood plains in insecure housing, without adequate resources to re-establish their lives after a major event.

Cases In Point

The "bounce-back" capability differences between developed and developing countries in Asia is evident in the cases of Japan and Thailand. One year after the fourth-largest earthquake and resulting tsunami, Japan's economy has largely returned to pre-disaster economic output levels and growth forecasts. 2011 floods in Thailand, however, wiped away nine percent of the country's gross domestic product and heavily damaged infrastructure, which remains largely unrepaired.

Maplecroft's report follows several other reports detailing the climbing costs of climate change to create a chorus of warnings for anyone who cares to listen. The Asian Development Bank recently estimated the Asia-Pacific region needs to spend $40 billion per year to "climate proof" its economies against global warming impacts, and at $110 billion, 2011 was the costliest year ever for insurers.


Ridejoy to Launch Ride-Sharing App

Posted: 16 Aug 2012 06:00 AM PDT

It’s common knowledge that the amount of fun on road trips is directly correlated to the number of passengers in the car playing DJ, telling tall tales, and splitting costs. Enter Ridejoy, a ride-share site where users can post offers to drive, or passengers can look for drivers headed where they need to get.

Ridejoy has about 3,000 rides posted at any given time in different cities for people looking to hit the road. Now, the community-driven site has just launched an Phone/iPad/iPod touch app. Next time wanderlust strikes, maybe you can make a new friend and reduce the cost of fuel by sharing a ride.

Source: Ridejoy
Image: Stephen Finn via Shutterstock 


Developer Plans 450MW Scottish Offshore Wind Farm

Posted: 16 Aug 2012 01:13 AM PDT

 
Global renewable energy developer Mainstream Renewable Power announced late July the submission of plans for a 450MW offshore wind project in Scottish territorial waters. The wind power project is named Neart na Gaoithe ("NnG").

The application is now open to consultation until Monday, September 10, and is a big step towards possible construction in 2015 and complete operation by 2016.

"This is a major milestone in the delivery of this offshore wind farm. With over 7,500MW of offshore wind farms in development in the UK and Germany, this demonstrates Mainstream's ability in selecting the best sites, developing to a high standard and delivering to challenging milestones,” said Chief Executive of Mainstream Renewable Power's Offshore Business, Andy Kinsella.

"This project is of strategic importance to Scotland; not only will it supply a significant percentage of the country's electricity demand it will also help to deliver Scotland's and the UK's renewable energy targets in advance of 2020."
 

 
The plan is to install 64-125 wind turbines across an area of approximately 105 square kilometres on a site that, at it’s closest to land, lies 15 kilometres off the Fife coast in waters 45 to 55 metres deep. The region is one of only six sites that the Scottish Government's Strategic Environmental Assessment has earmarked as suitable for development.

Neart na Gaoithe would total 450 MW of power, which is enough to power 325,000 homes in a city the size of Edinburgh or up to 3.7% of Scotland's electricity demand when fully operational.

Source: Mainstream Renewable Power


2018 Global Biofuels Consumption to Reach 135 Billion Gallons, Report Finds

Posted: 16 Aug 2012 12:52 AM PDT

 
Environmental concerns, high oil prices, and limited resources are just some of the factors that will help push biofuel consumption to 135 billion gallons by 2018, according to a new report.

The report, from Global Industry Analysts Inc., points to lingering doubts over the use of fossil fuels, due to the environmental problems they create, rising oil prices, dependency on foreign oil, and market volatility, among other factors.

The rise of emerging market countries, including China, also provided an increased opportunity for the biofuels market, as well as supporting energy security and the need for a cleaner-burning fuel.

The value of the global biofuels market in 2011 was $83 billion, according to Clean Edge, author of the report.
 

 
Global government support in research and development (R&D), production, public policy, and the push to use it in transportation industries is also providing some important underlying support for biofuels growth, the statement said

The report also gave some encouraging news for the US, the world’s largest consumer of biofuels, in terms of exports. It’s expected the USA will be the world’s #1 exporter of biofuels, thanks to short supply and higher sugar prices in Brazil.

All the factors mentioned above have increased interest in advanced biofuels, including algae, palm oil, and jatropha seeds, according to the report. These advanced biofuels are catching the eye of various stakeholders, including policymakers and investors. That is resulting in increased government backing and manufacturer investments, which is helping to create more innovation and boost the growth of the biofuels market,.

However, while advanced biofuels have caught the eye of many, next-generation biofuels will face some hurdles, as mentioned below:

Next-generation biofuels, including second and the third generation biofuels, which are currently under development, are predicted to offer more benefits when compared to first generation biofuels. These include cellulosic ethanol, BTL from solid biowaste, and renewable diesel, to name a few. However, with the process of conversion of cellulose into sugars for fermentation being quite difficult, research is underway for developing microbes, enzymes, and fungi that could breakdown different types of cellulose into sugars. Nevertheless, despite significant investments in research and development, commercialization of next-generation biofuels is not expected to happen anywhere in the next 8-10 years, owing to the several technical barriers on the way.

The report acknowledged the US and Brazil will have an advantage in overall global supply in the medium term. However, in the long term, cheaper raw materials in the developing countries in Asia will help to advance their production, while taking some market share away from other top-producing countries.

Asia is expected to show some real growth potential, increasing by a compound annual growth rate of 28.8% during the reporting period.

Despite the positive opportunities for biofuels, challenges will face this industry. Issues like environmental side-effects, prices, food vs. fuel concerns, and fuel efficiency of biofuels, may create some problems.

In fact, the current drought in the US has raised further concerns over the industry, as a spike in global food prices will already occur simply from this.

Only time will tell if biofuels can overcome some of these challenges and supplant fossil fuels as a firm transportation fuel solution.

Sources: PR Web, Clean Edge
Image: Biofuel Gas Pump via Shutterstock


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