- Community Power: Renewing Communities Through Renewable Energy
- Energy Efficiency Saves New England $260 Million In Transmission Costs
- On Dancer, Prancer, Rudolf, And Other Reindeer Resting On Wind Turbines
- “Cycle To Work” Scheme Improves Participants’ Health & Reduces Pollution
- Biggest Community-Owned Solar Array In US Now Online
- Chinese Hydro Developer Invests in 40MW PV Farm
- RoboSmart Bluetooth Smart Wireless LED Light Bulb
- ChargePoint Unveils New EV Charging Smartphone App With “All” US Charging Stations
- Wind Turbine Syndrome… Not!
- Stanford Solar Car Updates
- 10 Top EV Stories From 2012
- Biggest Solar Power Company in U.S. Could More than Double in Size
- California Sets Second Cap-And-Trade Emissions Auction
- West Antarctica Warming Twice As Fast As Previously Thought, Research Finds, May Speed Up Sea Level Rise
Posted: 28 Dec 2012 12:00 AM PST
Who would have a better understanding of a community’s needs than community members themselves? And who can come up with better solutions to those needs but the community itself?
Whether the need is economic, financial, environmental, or a combination of the three, local communities can respond to such needs through community-based renewable energy projects — or as we call them, Community Power projects.
There is much meaning behind the name Community Power. It does not only refer to electrical power generated by a community; it also implies individual and community empowerment.
Community Power enables individuals to take steps towards the betterment of the environment, their communities, and also their personal finances. It also enables these individuals to gather for a common purpose and achieve something extraordinary, as a community. This is where true economic, environmental and social sustainability lies. Through igniting individual behaviour change and community solidarity, Community Power starts an empowering process that enables communities to provide local solutions to their local needs for the long term.
Local Ownership Pays Off — For Everyone!
Whether the locally generated electricity is sold to the grid or used to offset electricity costs through net metering or behind-the-meter usage, project owners receive a direct financial benefit from community power projects. A recent study from Germany revealed that half of all economic activity generated through a project returns directly to the pocket of project owners, or in other words, community members.
Community-based energy projects not only benefit their owners economically, but they lift up the entire local economy through additional employment and business opportunities as well as the creation of surplus dollars.
A National Renewable Energy Laboratory study found that the impact of community-owned projects on jobs creation during construction period is 1.1 to 1.3 times higher than corporate ones, and 1.1 to 2.8 times higher during operations period.
The employment and investment impact of community-owned projects can also go beyond a local community. Community ownership played a pivotal role in Germany and Denmark becoming global leaders not only in renewable energy generation but also in energy research & development and systems manufacturing. Currently, more than 50% of Germany’s renewable power is generated by community-based projects, and 80% of Denmark’s world-renowned windmills are cooperatively owned.
Going back to the local level, it has been shown that the surplus dollars generated by community-owned projects through ownership, employment and other business activities have a high chance of being spent within the community. A study by Iowa Policy Project shows that financial resources that remain in the community are more than five-fold for small wind projects owned by local community members compared to large wind projects owned by out-of-state companies.
Community Power projects are versatile, because their strength lies in a local community's strength. Communities may be urban or rural; have a large tax base or not; may have a strong potential for whether solar, wind, biomass or hydro power. There is something that Community Power can do for all of them.
Community Power Leads Us Towards 'Negawatts'
While some may think the environmental benefits of community power projects go without saying, they actually go much deeper than one may initially think! Yes, generating our electricity from clean sources is important, but in order to combat climate change in a comprehensive and sustainable manner, conservation is indispensable. It is even widely recognized that conservation before any energy generation takes place is much more cost and time effective than combating the negative effects of climate change after the fact.
As underlined by Patrick Devine-Wright, the current scheme of centralized global electricity production from traditional sources creates a significant 'spatial and psychological distance' between energy generation and energy use. In simpler words, we just flick on and off without knowing where and how out electricity is generated, and without even a basic understanding of the economic, social, environmental, and personal impacts of electricity generation and use.
Local ownership provides community members a direct stake in clean energy generation, and thereby reduces that ‘spatial and psychological distance’ and encourages a culture and behaviour change regarding electricity use. Community members, who are now more aware of how and where their electricity is generated, are also much more likely to consume it wisely.
In shorter words, Community Power helps individuals become more connected to themselves, the environment, their community, and to the world.
Securing Our Energy Future
Besides generating clean energy, community-owned projects also provide a more comprehensive and sustainable solution to our energy issues.
Generating electricity close to where it is consumed reduces efficiency losses during transmission. This can speed up the transition towards distributed power generation from centralized sources, protect the environment, and generate economic benefits at the micro and macro levels.
Distributed generation also increases a local grid's reliability towards reducing its dependence on outside sources. It is safe to say that Community Power paves the way towards a safer and more reliable energy future.
Community power projects are not only gaining momentum because of the economic and environmental advantages they provide, but also because of the immense social benefits they offer. Community-owned power projects encourage community-building and social cohesion as a group of ordinary citizens is presented with the opportunity to come together and achieve something extraordinary.
An essential part of ensuring community power projects keep thriving lies in communicating the benefits of renewable energy and community ownership. Educating the public about the significant impact and tangible benefits that community power projects offer can also help convince higher-level policy makers that they can take actions that significantly improve the quality of life in their neighbourhoods and districts. And where better to start the chain of education than with our future leaders?
Today, most of us just flick switches on and off without knowing where the electricity that powers our many gadgets comes from. Patrick Devine-Wright attributed this 'psychological distance' between energy generation and energy use to the current scheme of centralized global electricity production from traditional sources. One significant way in which we can bridge this mental gap is to educate our younger generation about where their electricity comes from. When kids are taught about energy production, it allows them to feel more connected to themselves, the environment, their community, and the world.
Take SolSolution for example. They are a Boston-based green startup that provides solar energy solutions for K-12 schools and are dedicated to educating our next generation about renewable energy and community power. It has a clear yet powerful dual mission that seamlessly fuses community power and education.
The solar panels on the roofs serve as a catalyst for engaged, hands-on learning, and the students play an integral role in assessing their own school's solar capacity. The panels drive students' curiosity and interest in renewable energy projects and green entrepreneurship opportunities. By experiencing a solar installation firsthand, students are motivated to take their experience another step further. Whether it be talking with a skeptical parent or teacher about the benefits of green energy or being inspired to pursue their very own community power project, students' newfound knowledge moves them to take action. This, in turn, inspires parents, teachers, and neighbors to get involved after they witness how excited their kids are about green energy initiatives. By educating our future leaders and the general public about the importance and value of community power projects, many people will be motivated to make a difference in their own communities, fueling new, lasting and effective community power initiatives. When students are provided with the chance to see the concrete benefits of clean energy solutions, it allows them to connect what they are learning inside their science and math classrooms with possibilities outside the classroom in the present and future to make a difference for the world.
Community power projects are capable of producing great economic benefits both at the micro and macro levels and building a strong foundation for a safer and more reliable energy future. But the social benefits that they bring are where the real magic lies. These locally-owned projects have the capacity to bring entire neighbourhoods together by strengthening their core identity as a green community. From there, this joint, concerted effort can demonstrate the measurable and significant impact individual choices and actions have on our environment. That sense of ownership leads to a sense of pride in a community, improving the natural and social environment overall. Isn't that the type of neighborhood you want to live in?
Students are not the only community members who can benefit from learning about and starting their own community power projects. Anyone has the power to start a community power project, and by teaching people to embrace the positive change that comes along with community-based renewable energy projects, we can light up the path to a better, brighter future for us all.
What do you think about Community Power? What can it do for your community? Please feel free to contribute to our conversation by leaving us a comment below. Or you can tweet us with your thoughts and questions @thecpreport with hashtag #PowerUp.
Community Power: Renewing Communities Through Renewable Energy was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 01:04 PM PST
State and private programs designed to reduce consumer energy demand have recently cut the need for $260 million in planned transmission system upgrades across the six states within the ISO-New England (ISO-NE) region. The announcement was made during ISO-NE's energy-efficiency forecast, the first multi-state outlook in the U.S.
Big Investments = Big Energy Savings
ISO-NE is one of the nation's largest grid operators, managing electricity supply and demand for 14 million people in 6.5 million households and businesses across 8,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 350 generators. The system has more than 32,000 MW of capacity, including more than 2,000 MW of demand response resources.
Roughly $1.2 billion was spent across the ISO-NE region from 2008-2011, resulting in a total reduction of 3,502 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in electricity use. The average state reduced electricity consumption 876 GWh annually, with total summer peak demand savings of 514 megawatts (MW).
The overall effects of these savings are hard to ignore. Regional peak demand is only forecast to grow .9 percent from 2012–2021 (roughly 2/3 the previous estimate), with a flat annual growth in energy consumption over the same period, and winter peak demand actually projected to decline nearly .5 percent.
Lower Demand Leads To Lower Infrastructure Costs
In the long term, this consumption decline will have a major impact. From 2015–2012, ISO-NE estimates annual savings of 1,343 GWh from energy efficiency — roughly the same amount of electricity used by 2 million average homes in the region. New England will spend an estimated $5.7 billion on energy efficiency program over the same time period, according to the report.
As a result, ISO-NE was able to lower long-term planning needs for the system's grid beyond 2020. "Revised analysis shows that the region can actually defer 10 transmission upgrades that earlier studies showed were needed to ensure system reliability," said Stephen Rourke, vice president for system planning. "By deferring these upgrades, the region will save an estimated $260 million."
Energy efficiency programs across the region were comprised of relatively simple steps, like encouraging consumers to swap out incandescent light bulbs for efficient lighting like CFLs or LEDs, upgrade HVAC systems and building insulation, purchase Energy Star appliances, or integrate more efficient industrial processes and motors.
Diverse Funding Streams Foot the Bill
Funding for the 125 different individual programs has come from four main sources: state-designated funding, revenue from the system's Forward Capacity Market (long-term capacity sales), a designated "systems benefits charge" on ratepayer bills, and revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
Energy efficiency programs have been the largest recipients of RGGI investments by far, garnering 66 percent of all carbon auction revenue to date, according to the RGGI 2011 Investment Report.
Given all this, it's no surprise New England leads the U.S. in the energy efficiency economy, with Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island all listed in the annual ranking of the top ten most energy efficient states.
Energy Efficiency Saves New England $260 Million In Transmission Costs was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 12:47 PM PST
How enchanting to refresh oneself with views of the sweet children from Wellington, New Zealand and to hear the voices of wind turbine technicians as they share with us images from the resting spot of Rudolf and friends… as the reindeer rejuvenate themselves and plan their journeys onward. Love form the folks and reindeer of Wellington, New Zealand, a land known for winds and coffee with the froth blown off the top.
On Dancer, Prancer, Rudolf, And Other Reindeer Resting On Wind Turbines was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 12:23 PM PST
Under this scheme, prospective cyclists can end up paying up to 40% less than the original price of the bike they want to purchase, but this funding is capped at £1,000 ($1,600) per bike.
The employer actually pays the full price of the bike at first, but the employee repays this loan over a 12-month period via pre-tax payroll deductions.
This scheme was actually started in 1999, and it has been highly successful in encouraging bike ridership. It has helped people to over 400,000 individuals to get bikes.
The carbon dioxide emissions output reduction caused by it is “equivalent to the output of a city of 60,000 people.”
Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is only one of the major benefits of this program.
It eliminates air pollution caused by automobiles, as well. Typical gasoline and diesel-powered automobiles emit the toxic carbon monoxide, pollutants that cause lung and heart cancer, and sulfur dioxide — and not just in industrial/commercial locations like power plants, but everywhere, even in residential areas.
There is another, even more important group of health benefits that come with the exercise gained by cycling, benefits simply from the physical exercise.
For example, one person who participated, Toby Field, said that he has lost 119 pounds. A huge step from 294 pounds (21 stone), to a more normal 175 pounds. He was partially encouraged to participate due to the fact his father died from obesity-related health problems at the age of 55.
Cycling is also good for the pocketbook. Cycling provides regular exercise, which you don’t have to pay regularly for as you do at the gym. And to top it off, it enables you to save a tremendous amount of money on transportation. Cars are very costly compared to bicycles.
“Cycle To Work” Scheme Improves Participants’ Health & Reduces Pollution was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 12:01 PM PST
According to Paul Spencer, the CEO and the founder of the Clean Energy Collective (CEC), this project shows that the ease and affordability of the community-owned but utility-scale model is going to have a large effect on future development.
"We are leveraging scalability to the benefit of individual panel owners," he says. "You don't even need a roof to adopt clean energy today, and the paybacks are higher than ever – both for the environment and financially."
Individuals who are interested can participate by purchasing panels at the facility for $705 each, getting as many as they like, offsetting all or part of their electricty needs, with the credit for the power produced showing up directly on their monthly bills.
The $705 includes all of the tax credits and electricity discounts that customers would receive if the solar panels were installed on their actual homes. And the panels will be maintained for at least 50 years by the CEC, leaving the customers with no maintenance or repair costs.
“In addition to the SMPA Community Solar Array, CEC has partnered with six other utilities and has 14 shared solar projects operating or under construction, representing more than 5,300 kW of community-sited solar PV. By the end of 2013, Spencer estimates CEC's community-owned arrays will be providing upwards of 10 MW of energy capacity, with that number eclipsing 100 MW nationally by 2015.”
Source: Energy Digital
Biggest Community-Owned Solar Array In US Now Online was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 11:32 AM PST
Located in the northwest of the country, the Gansu province lies between the Tibuetan and Huangtu plateaus. It borders Mongolia.
Sinohydro’s board of directors has approved an investment of RMB443 million ($71.1 million) in the 40MW PV plant, which is part of a larger renewable energy plan that will also see two wind farms built in the area.
Sinohydro is set to end up investing a total of RMB1.36 billion in the three projects.
On top of that, Sinohydro has let it be known that it is considering investing a further RMB1.2 billion in an attempt to stabilise the company’s capital management and broaden its financing channels.
For a country such as China, developing into a massive world-power (both financially and industrially), many would argue that clean energy has been underdeveloped, forcing the country into being one of the planet’s biggest emitters of pollutant gasses.
One can hope that a move such as this by Sinohydro is a step in the right direction for the whole country.
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 11:29 AM PST
Another lightbulb to be searching for funding underneath the Indiegogo platform, the RoboSmart is an energy-efficient Bluetooth Smart enabled LED lightbulb which allows anyone the ability to customise their lighting from anywhere thanks to apps for both iOS and Android, allowing users to use either a tablet or a smart phone.
Additional features and capabilities include:
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 10:37 AM PST
The new application has an all-new user experience and look and now features ‘all’ EV charging stations installed in the United States, not just those on the ChargePoint network.
On top of that, the free application now lets users easily identify which station is closest to their current location and the prices available.
"ChargePoint is the world's largest electric vehicle global charging network," said Pat Romano, president and CEO of ChargePoint.
"One feature EV drivers have requested is the ability to navigate, access and charge at any electric vehicle charging station, not just those on the ChargePoint network. With more than ten thousand EV charging spots on the ChargePoint network and thousands more out of the network it is the easiest way to find any EV charging station anywhere in North America."
The ChargePoint EV charging station mobile app allows EV drivers to:
(*) Some features require a free ChargePoint driver account. Visit http://www.chargepoint.com to create your account and sign up for a ChargePoint card.
ChargePoint Unveils New EV Charging Smartphone App With “All” US Charging Stations was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 07:31 AM PST
Before we get into this recent study, a few quick notes:
1) I intend to keep this page updated with any news I find regarding wind turbine noise studies. Bookmark the page for future reference if this is an important topic to you.
2) To date, there is no scientific evidence that anything such as “Wind Turbine Syndrome” actually exists (as those two articles to which I just linked will tell you). In other words, there’s no scientific evidence that wind turbine noise has any noticeable effect on human health.
3) Since most of you probably haven’t been near a wind turbine, take a look at this graphic below, which indicates how the sound of wind turbines compares to other, more familiar machines at various distances:
Evaluating “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health”
“Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health” is the name of the study noted at the top of the page. The study was authored by Jeffery Aramini, Michael Nissenbaum, and Christopher Hanning.
Before getting into a longer evaluation of the study itself, BigCityLib makes some points about the authors that are probably worth a bit of consideration:
“Firstly, all three authors, Jeffery Aramini, Michael Nissenbaum and Christopher Hanning, are long-time anti-wind activists. Furthermore, the three reviewers mentioned in the paper are all paid anti-wind ‘experts’ who have a long history of directly testifying against wind energy in various court cases. One of them, Carl Phillips, lost his position at the University of Alberta several years ago for taking money from the tobacco industry.”
Yikes, but there’s always room for redemption, right?
I also got this note from Chris Varrone of:
Now, to get into the study in more detail, here’s a lengthy response to the paper from Mike Barnard on Quora:
Summary: Its reliability is very low. This is a flawed and misleadingly titled study by long-time anti-wind lobbyists.
Full disclosure. This assessment was developed with the assistance of:
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 07:00 AM PST
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 04:30 AM PST
10. Recording-breaking year: Well, let’s start with the point above. Over 47,500 EVs have been sold in the US this year, the most ever in a single year. Furthermore, November sales were the highest for any month to date, yet another sign of where we’re headed. Also, globally, alternative fuel vehicles had a record year: “sales are up an astounding 73%, with nearly 440,000 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electrics sold thus far this year.” There were a number of more fanciful records set as well:
9. Nissan: struggling, under pressure, but still ambitious. Nissan is far off its Leaf sales targets and is facing a lot of criticism (not to mention financial struggles) from it, but the pure-electric (for the masses) pioneer still opened an EV battery manufacturing plant in Tennessee, and it’s hopeful that it will have a bright EV future despite a less than ideal 2012.
8. Electric Motorcycles — Represent! Does anyone still use that line? Anyway, some top electric motorcycle companies had some things to celebrate this year. Zero Motorcycles (an electric motorcycle company) sold more electric motorcycles in January than in all of 2011! It also announced a new model, the FX. Additionally, Brammo delivered its first electric Empulse motorcycle.
7. Chevy Volt: Winning! For the second year in a row, a higher percentage of Chevy Volt owners said they’d buy the car again than owners of any other car on the market (US). 92% of them said so. Meanwhile, the Volt dominated EV/hybrid sales throughout the year. It sold 20,828 vehicles January through November, 239.1% more than the same period last year. That’s a lot more than the 8,330 Nissan Leafs sold through November and the 11,389 Prius PHEVs. This is all after a concerning start in which conservative Bob Lutz had to fight back the anti-EV conservative crowd on FOX News.
6. Tesla: Winning! Tesla’s new Model S won Motor Trend‘s “Car of the Year” award. In other words, some of the top car journalists in the world consider the Model S the top car around (of any type). The EV maker, which has almost rockstar status, also announced it is taking aim at the European market, with a new factory in the Netherlands and its European pricing plan announced. The pioneering EV company also happened to win a lawsuit regarding its unique, Apple-like dealership approach.
5. The Ford C-Max Hybrid starts strong. The hybrid electric vehicle broke the hybrid launch sales record this year. "For October and November, the all-new Ford C-Max sold 8,030 units, making it the highest-selling hybrid vehicle ever in the first two months. The sales significantly surpassed the 7,300 Camry Hybrids that Toyota sold in that car's first two months on the market, back in May and June of 2006. Ford also calculates that C-Max sales are moving three times faster than combined results from the first hybrids on the US market – the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight – which were launched in 2000."
4. Wireless charging really becoming something. Raleigh, NC announced that it would become the first US city to join the Apollo Program, a wireless EV charging trial program, and Sacramento announced it was joining the program around the same time. We’ve also seen a wireless electric bus developed by Utah State University, and the UK city of Milton Keynes is going the wireless route. Additionally, after some trialling with Google, the LA Dept of Water & Power, and Hertz, Plugless Power now offers consumers wireless EV charging for the Leaf and Volt (and probably other cars), while Momentum Dynamics is also looking to get into the game. Plus, there’s continuous news of folks trying to bring us roads that wirelessly power our cars (and even much more).
3b. Batteries, batteries, batteries. It’s no secret, everyone is hoping for batteries to improve a lot in order for EVs to really take off, and there are a ton of scientists working to make it happen. Here are some of the bigger EV battery headlines from the past year:
2. EVs can now save you big money. The price of EVs is at such a level now that many of you can save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of an EV if you purchase one instead of a comparable ICE vehicle. In some cases, you could be saving money after just 1 or 2 years. Seriously, just do the math.
1. Tons of new EVs. Perhaps most importantly, there have been many entries into the EV market this year, and many announced EVs that will soon be hitting the market. This includes the following (and probably more):
Any other stories to add?
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 02:12 AM PST
If it does make the grade, the significance of the McCoy solar project goes far beyond bragging rights for just NextEra Energy. Assuming that it hits the ground on schedule in 2013, it will help push President Obama’s ambitious renewable energy initiative for public lands far beyond its original goal of 10,000 megawatts, zooming from zero to 10,400 megawatts since 2009.
The McCoy Solar Project
Though not the biggest solar project planned for pubic land in California, the NextEra project (through McCoy Solar LLC) is massive by any measure. If approved, its 750 megawatts are enough to provide electricity for 225,000 homes. Including a 14-mile line and a two-acre switch yard, the installation will be developed on about 4,400 acres.
Most of the land is managed by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, located in Riverside County, California.
One key to approval of the project will be the company’s plans for mitigating impacts on the habitat of the Desert Tortoise. The original project boundaries were changed in order to avoid some impacts. Additional mitigation measures include an equivalent tradeoff in protections for habitat outside of the project.
For the record, as of this writing the largest planned solar project planned for California is Solar Millenium’s 1,000-megawatt Blythe project in the Mohave desert.
More and Bigger Solar Power Projects
To give you an idea of how rapidly the solar power field is advancing, back in 2009 the President’s goal was to authorize 10,000 megawatts of utility-scale renewable energy projects on public land covering solar power along with wind and other renewable sources, by 2013.
This past October, the Administration laid out an ambitious blueprint for another 23,7000 megawatts in solar power alone on public land.
That dovetails with a Memorandum of Understanding that Interior and the Department of Defense signed a few months back, which streamlines the process for siting utility-scale renewable energy projects at military facilities.
Standalone, utility-scale renewable energy projects at public facilities also got a boost last year, when the Army launched the Energy Initiatives Task Force. This special office was set up to relieve individual base commanders from having to reinvent the wheel for each power project.
Meanwhile, utility scale renewable power is just one sustainable avenue toward energy security that the Obama Administration has been pursuing. The initiatives also include a heavy dose of individual-oriented energy conservation, building retrofits and energy data management strategies through the Better Buildings and Green Button initiatives.
Perhaps the best example of this distributed, democratic side of the renewable power scene is the Administration’s new Plug and Play solar power initiative, which aims to make solar power as affordable and universally accessible as any other major appliance.
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey
Biggest Solar Power Company in U.S. Could More than Double in Size was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 02:09 AM PST
California's February auction will offer nearly 13 million 2013 vintage allowances and 9.5 million 2016 future vintage allowances for sale, and is the next step toward maturity for the world's second-largest carbon market, which will eventually cover 85 percent of all state emissions.
Allowance Prices Set to Rise
The system's first auction, declared "a success" by state regulators, resulted in a complete sell out of all 23.1 million available 2013 vintage allowances at $10.09 per allowance, just over the set floor price of $10. While the clearing price was relatively low, analysts have forecast allowances will sell for just over $14 in 2013.
California's cap-and-trade system is an attempt to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, roughly a 17 percent reduction. The state emits roughly 447 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, and while the largest percentage comes from transportation, just over a third come from electricity generation and industrial sources.
These large-volume emitters (more than 25,000 annual metric tons of CO2) must now abide by a "cap" on emissions that declines every year. Additional emitters will enter the system in 2015. If companies cannot reduce their emissions to meet the cap through offsets or efficiency measures, they must turn in allowances equal to their excess emissions.
Allowances are purchased through quarterly auctions, and authorize the holder to emit one ton of carbon. During the first auction, these large-scale emitters, known as "compliance entities," purchased 97 percent of all sold allowances.
A Climate Dividend for Consumers
To alleviate concerns the system could lead to higher prices for electricity and fuel, state regulators have directed roughly 85 percent of all allowance revenue to return directly to households in the form of a climate dividend.
Twice per year, each household will be given a credit on their utility bills, with the total amount depending on auction revenue. State regulators estimate the system will return up to $22.6 billion to utility ratepayers by 2020.
First California, Then America?
Stakes are high for California's cap-and-trade system. Beyond reducing emissions in America's largest state and the sixth-largest economy in the world, success in the Sunshine State could have a regional ripple effect, strengthening other carbon markets.
Under the Western Climate Initiative, California plans to link its carbon market with Quebec's provincial system, set to launch in 2013. The two systems could hold their first joint auction in August 2013, increasing the overall market 20 percent and creating the first international carbon market in North America.
Regulators have also considered linking to RGGI, and success in California's system could help quell skepticism among other Western U.S. states that reducing emissions will harm their economies.
Los Angeles skyline smog image via Shutterstock
California Sets Second Cap-And-Trade Emissions Auction was originally published on: CleanTechnica
Posted: 27 Dec 2012 01:50 AM PST
The average annual temperatures in West Antarctica, at the Byrd research station, have increased an incredible 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) in the years since the 1950s. This is one of the quickest increases in temperature in the world — it’s currently 3 times the global average increase.
This finding adds strong support to the theory that the ice sheet is much more vulnerable to melting than was previously thought. If West Antarctica was to melt, it would raise global sea levels by at least 3.3 meters (11 feet). It’s currently thought that it would take a few centuries for it to melt completely.
“The western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought,” Ohio State University said in a recent statement by its geography professor David Bromwich.
The higher than thought warming “raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise,” it said. “Higher summer temperatures raised risks of a surface melt of ice and snow even though most of Antarctica is in a year-round deep freeze.”
Very low-lying countries, such as Bangladesh and many pacific islands, are very vulnerable to near-future levels of sea rise. As are many globally important cities, such as London, New York City, and Buenos Aires. So far, sea levels have increased by about 8 inches in the past hundred or so years.
“The United Nations panel of climate experts projects that sea levels will rise by between 18 and 59 cms (7-24 inches) this century, and by more if a thaw of Greenland and Antarctica accelerates, due to global warming caused by human activities,” Reuters reports.
“The rise in temperatures in the remote region was comparable to that on the Antarctic Peninsula to the north, which snakes up towards South America, according to the U.S.-based experts writing in the journal Nature Geoscience.”
Some glaciated areas of the northern hemisphere have been warming at very significant rates also.
There have been numerous significant collapses of Antarctic ice shelves in the past few years. As these ice shelves collapse and disintegrate, the glaciers that they had previously held in place in the inlands speed up their slide faster into the ocean, which then contributes to sea level rise.
“The stakes would be much higher if a similar event occurred to an ice shelf restraining one of the enormous West Antarctic ice sheet glaciers,” said Andrew Monaghan, a co-author at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.
The researchers note that there has already been one instance of a very large surface melt of West Antarctica that occurred in 2005. “A continued rise in summer temperatures could lead to more frequent and extensive episodes of surface melting,” they wrote.
“West Antarctica now contributes about 0.3 mm a year to sea level rise, less than Greenland’s 0.7 mm, Ohio State University said. The bigger East Antarctic ice sheet is less vulnerable to a thaw.
“Helped by computer simulations, the scientists reconstructed a record of temperatures stretching back to 1958 at Byrd, where about a third of the measurements were missing, sometimes because of power failures in the long Antarctic winters.”
West Antarctica Warming Twice As Fast As Previously Thought, Research Finds, May Speed Up Sea Level Rise was originally published on: CleanTechnica
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