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Energy Department Recognizes 11 Manufacturers for Energy Efficiency Achievements

October 2, 2014 in Climate Change, Environment, EV News, Greentech, Politics, Pollution

Dr. Ernest Moniz Photo courtesy of Energy Department

Dr. Ernest Moniz
Photo courtesy of Energy Department

Washington, D.C. – Building on the Administration’s efforts to double energy productivity and help American businesses save money by saving energy, the Energy Department today recognized 11 companies that have met ambitious energy-efficiency goals through the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program. Across the country, manufacturers spend more than $200 billion each year to power their plants. Through the Energy Department’s Better Plants Program, American manufacturers commit to improve their energy intensity by 25 percent over ten years, or an equally ambitious level for their sector.

“Through cost-effective energy efficiency improvements in their factories, American manufacturers are boosting their energy productivity, saving money and protecting the environment by reducing carbon emissions,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As a result, Better Plants Partners have avoided 18.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions to date, which is about the same as the annual emissions from close to five coal-fired power plants. These companies are demonstrating that significant energy savings can be achieved through smart investments that create jobs and strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector.”

The Department also announced today that over the last four years, Better Plants Partners have improved the energy intensity of their operations – a measure of a facility’s energy use per unit of output – by about 2.4 percent annually, far exceeding projected business-as-usual rates for U.S. manufacturers as a whole. Demonstrating leadership and showcasing initiatives and strategies that have proven successful, 11 Better Plants Partners recently met their goal to improve energy intensity:

  1. BPM, Inc.
  2. Celanese International Corp.
  3. Holcim (US) Inc.
  4. Legrand North America
  5. Lennox International Inc.
  6. Patriot Foundry & Castings
  7. Procter & Gamble
  8. Texas Instruments
  9. ThyssenKrupp Elevator
  10. Toyota
  11. Verso Paper Corp.

More than 140 companies currently participate in the Better Plants Program, representing more than 2,300 manufacturing facilities and close to 11 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing energy footprint. Cumulatively, these companies have saved approximately 320 trillion British Thermal Units of energy – equivalent to saving nearly $1.7 billion in energy costs. Earlier this month, the Department welcomed 23 new manufacturers to the Better Plants Program, representing a range of manufacturing sectors.

The Better Buildings, Better Plants Program is part of President Obama’s broader Better Buildings Initiative to help American commercial and industrial buildings become at least 20 percent more energy efficient over the next 10 years. The Initiative also includes the Better Buildings Challenge through which U.S. companies, universities, school districts, multifamily housing owners, and state and local governments have committed to reducing energy use across their building portfolios by 20 percent or more.

The accomplishments announced today are summarized in the Energy Department’s Fall 2014 Better Plants Progress Update, released today and available HERE.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: DOE.

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Expansion of Morocco’s Largest Solar Complex to Provide 1.1 Million Moroccans with Clean Energy

October 1, 2014 in Environment, EV News, Greentech, Solar

Image courtesy of CIA

Image courtesy of CIA

WASHINGTON – The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved today (9-30-14) a US$519 million project to support Morocco’s ongoing efforts to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels by developing its renewable energy resources. The project will back the government’s strategy of harnessing power from the sun through the use of concentrated solar power technology.

Morocco is the Middle East’s largest energy importer, and depends on fossil fuel imports to generate over 97 percent of its energy. The Noor-Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Project will support the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy to finance the expansion of Morocco’s first utility-scale solar energy complex, helping increase its capacity and output, especially during peak hours.

Morocco stands at the forefront of climate-friendly policies in the region,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa. “The country is well-positioned to benefit from its head-start at a time when other regional powers are beginning to think more seriously about their own renewable energy programs.

An initial 160 megawatt phase of the project, approved by the Bank in 2011, is currently under construction. The new project will finance the second 350 megawatt phase, and include the installation of solar parabolic troughs and a solar energy tower. This project will be funded through US$400 million from the Bank and US$119 million from the Bank administered Clean Technology Fund.

Morocco - Spain (Strait of Gibraltar) Image courtesy of CIA

Morocco – Spain (Strait of Gibraltar)
Image courtesy of CIA

With its bold investment in green energy, Morocco is also setting a global example for the kinds of actions called for at this year’s United Nations Climate Summit. The expanded solar plant is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tons per year. While delivering these environmental benefits,  this project will also contribute to energy security, job creation, and energy exports.

“Apart from creating jobs, the construction of the plant and the development of Morocco’s Solar Plan will establish a future source of reliable green energy,” said Simon Gray, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb.  “The Noor-Ouarzazate Solar Complex alone will supply power to 1.1 million Moroccans by 2018.”

Other contributors toward the project are the African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, l’Agence Française de Développement, Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau, and the European Commission.

The World Bank currently has a portfolio of 22 projects in Morocco, amounting to a committed financing of US$2.44 billion, providing a diverse range of support in areas such as private sector, financial sector and governance reform, green growth and promotion of renewable energy, access to basic services such as rural roads, water, sanitation, the reduction of vulnerability and social exclusion, and improvements in agriculture and solid waste management. Since 2011, the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, has stepped up its engagement in Morocco and has invested US$590 million to support private sector development in the country.

This article (9-30-14) is an EV News Report repost, credit: World Bank.

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Scottish householders rights to object to fracking to be removed. UK announces decision to drill under homes without consent.

September 26, 2014 in Climate Change, EV News, Oil, Politics, Pollution

Scottish householders rights to object to fracking to be removed. UK announces decision to drill under homes without consent. Photo courtesy of Scottish Government

Scottish householders rights to object to fracking to be removed. UK announces decision to drill under homes without consent.
Photo courtesy of Scottish Government

UK Government have announced that they are to remove the rights of householders to object to oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing beneath their homes. This will include householders in Scotland, and comes despite 99 per cent of respondents to the UK Government consultation on the proposals objecting to them.

It will mean that companies will be allowed to drill below people’s land without first negotiating a right of access.

Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing officially objected to the proposals and has condemned the decision, and has called for the key powers relating to this issue to be devolved to Scotland as part of the current devolution process. This would allow unconventional oil and gas exploration in Scotland to be considered in a cautious, considered and evidence-based way, as opposed to the “gung-ho” approach of the UK Government.

Commenting Mr Ewing said:

“The UK Government failure to listen to our concerns is of great worry. That they have also failed to listen to 99 per cent of respondents to their own consultation just emphasises their “gung-ho” approach to the whole issue of fracking. We strongly believe that decisions on oil and gas drilling should be made by the people who live in Scotland, through the Parliament and Government they elected.

“UK Government proposals to remove the right of Scottish householders to object to drilling under their homes, without so much as debate in the Scottish Parliament, flies in the face of Scotland’s cautious, considered and evidence based approach on this issue. It is also fundamentally an issue affecting land ownership rights.

“Whatever your view on the issue of unconventional oil and gas – and it is clear that there are both opportunities and concerns – there is only one way that the people of Scotland can determine the approach in Scotland – including beneath their homes and land. That is with the devolution of the necessary powers to Scotland and the current devolution process for the “extensive new powers” promised in the vow should include these powers.

“Unconventional oil & gas developments should only ever happen under a robust regulatory regime, and the Scottish Government takes this issue particularly seriously.

“We are still to see precisely how DECC plan to implement the proposals in their consultation document and will review further when we see the clauses for inclusion in the Infrastructure Bill.”

The UK Government decision is here:

This article is a repost, credit: SG Communications.

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NASA, Partners Target Megacities Carbon Emissions

September 23, 2014 in Climate Change, Environment, EV News, Politics, Pollution

Artist's concept of the LA Megacities Carbon Project observing system. Ground sensors atop towers and buildings measure carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide. An instrument atop Mt. Wilson scans the basin multiple times daily. Aircraft, mobile laboratories and satellites round out the network. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Courtesy of NASA

Artist’s concept of the LA Megacities Carbon Project observing system. Ground sensors atop towers and buildings measure carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide. An instrument atop Mt. Wilson scans the basin multiple times daily. Aircraft, mobile laboratories and satellites round out the network.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Courtesy of NASA

By Alan Buis, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Driving down busy Interstate 5 in Los Angeles in a nondescript blue Toyota Prius, Riley Duren of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is a man on a mission as he surveys the vast urban jungle sprawled around him.

In his trunk, a luggage-sized air-sampling instrument sniffs the outside air through a small tube to measure the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. While not a very efficient way to study urban emissions, the ground data being collected are helping Duren and his team build confidence in greenhouse gas measurements taken from aircraft and satellites, which can cover large areas more effectively.

At the next exit, Duren pulls over to admire a scene most Angelenos would try to ignore: a large landfill stretched alongside the freeway. The instrument in the trunk quickly detects a large plume of methane emanating from the landfill. A NASA aircraft soon appears overhead, carrying a prototype satellite instrument that records high-resolution images of methane that scientists can use to identify gas plumes. The pilot buzzes the landfill several times to capture images of the invisible gas, then the plane departs and Duren heads off to his next study area.

The instruments in the Prius and airplane are just two of many elements of the Megacities Carbon Project, an international, multi-agency pilot initiative to develop and test ways to monitor greenhouse gas emissions in megacities: metropolitan areas of at least 10 million people. Cities and their power plants are the largest sources of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions and are the largest human contributors to climate change.

Duren is principal investigator for the LA component of the Megacities Carbon Project. He hopes to work with international partners to deploy a global urban carbon monitoring system that will eventually allow local policymakers to fully account for the many sources and sinks, or storage sites, of carbon and how they change over time. Los Angeles and Paris are pilot cities in the initiative. Efforts are underway to add other cities around the world.

When fully established in late 2014, the LA network will consist of 15 monitoring stations around the LA basin. Most will use commercially available high-precision greenhouse gas analyzers to continuously sample local air. The LA network encompasses the portions of the South Coast Air Basin that produce the most intense greenhouse gas emissions in California. Megacities scientists will also periodically take to the road and to the skies to collect mobile measurements of the local atmosphere to better define individual emissions sources and environmental conditions.

“LA is a giant laboratory for climate studies and measurement tests,” said Duren. “The LA megacity sprawls across five counties, 150 municipalities, many freeways, landfills, oil wells, gas pipelines, America’s largest seaport, mountains, and even dairies, all within an area measuring about 80 miles [130 kilometers] on a side. In theory, you could drive across the whole thing in an hour and a half, or three if it’s rush hour.”

Urbanization has concentrated more than half of Earth’s population, at least 70 percent of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions and a significant amount of methane emissions into a tiny fraction of Earth’s land surface. The world’s 40 largest cities combined rank as the world’s third largest emitter of fossil-fuel carbon dioxide — larger than the total emissions of Japan. That trend is expected to grow.

There’s an urgent need to get a handle on explosive growth in carbon emissions from fossil-fuel use by cities and to establish baseline measurements that currently don’t exist. The lack of measurements makes it hard to assess emission trends.

Most countries and some states produce annual inventories of their greenhouse gas emissions based on energy statistics and other data, but the same information is typically not available for individual cities.

“In many cases, we know very little about the carbon emissions of individual cities,” said LA Megacities Carbon Project Co-principal Investigator Charles Miller of JPL. “Best estimates often disagree with atmospheric measurements by a factor of two or more, and attributing emissions to specific sources is problematic.”

Cities around the world are expected to undergo rapid change in the next 20 years. Many, particularly in the developing world, are undergoing unconstrained growth, with emissions growing by more than 10 percent a year. The United Nations predicts that Earth’s urban population will double by 2050, dramatically increasing the number and size of megacities, and their carbon footprints.

Cities are serving as bellwethers of society’s carbon emission trends. While many are experiencing growth in emissions, others are leading the charge to reduce them. For example, major mitigation efforts are already underway in megacities such as LA; Paris; New York and Sao Paulo, Brazil through the policies of individual mayors, regional councils and organizations like the Climate 40 group, a partnership among the world’s largest cities. “These rapid changes in the carbon emissions from megacities represent both a mega-problem and an opportunity,” said Duren. “Better data could provide critical support for decision making.”

The Megacities project combines direct surface measurements of urban greenhouse gases from instruments located in air sampling stations atop radio towers and buildings, with broader, denser remote-sensing observations from aircraft, mountaintops and satellites. Other instruments track winds and vertical motion of the atmosphere — both of which are key to interpreting the greenhouse gas measurements.

NASA’s recently launched Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite is capable of detecting the enhanced levels of carbon dioxide over the world’s largest cities and is beginning to study LA in coordination with the Megacities team.

The team is compiling high-resolution emission data derived from information provided by local governments to compare with Megacities project measurement data. The goal is to help improve emission estimates. The result will be independent, accurate assessments of carbon emissions and a better understanding of the factors that affect them. Sustained monitoring over several years will enable assessment of trends.

Toward an Urban Carbon Monitoring System, With Some Challenging Twists

Ultimately, the concept of a global carbon-monitoring system focused on the largest carbon emitters hinges on the ability to extend pilot efforts like those in LA and Paris to other megacities, smaller cities and large power plants. This involves establishing surface measurement networks in representative areas while taking advantage of the broader coverage of satellite observations. The atmospheric measurements will be linked with other information used by decision-makers, such as traffic data. Transparent sharing of satellite observations could prove vital in cities in the developing world, where ground data on emissions are not available.

“The idea is to measure and track emissions for individual cities and selected major industrial sectors and understand how and why they’re changing,” Duren said. “Ultimately, the goal is to link observed atmospheric changes to specific human actions.”

That’s no easy task. So far, scientists have not been able to directly attribute observed trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide to the actions of any nation, state or city. That’s because it’s hard to make enough measurements to get regionally specific data.

Another wrinkle for scientists is being able to distinguish between emissions generated from fossil fuel use and those resulting from biological influences such as urban green spaces and adjacent forest and croplands, which both release and absorb carbon. Doing so requires more frequent and dense measurements and the ability to sense multiple species of greenhouse gases from Earth’s surface and from space. Another important method involves measuring radiocarbon isotopes. That’s something scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will begin contributing to the LA Megacities effort in the coming months.

Because cities concentrate emissions into small areas, they produce intense changes in the atmosphere. This makes them a better target for measurement than countries or states. “Directly monitoring the carbon emissions of entire countries probably won’t be feasible for at least another decade, but with cities, we’re on the verge of addressing the largest emitters within the next few years,” Miller said. “It’s more efficient to focus our finite resources on cities.”

“Measuring greenhouse gas emissions from cities is a significant challenge,” said James Whetstone, special assistant to the director for greenhouse gas measurements at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland. NIST is addressing the need to develop and demonstrate the performance of advanced greenhouse gas measurement methods that can be applied to cities and metropolitan areas.

The LA project is the second research effort where NIST support and participation are aimed at addressing this measurement challenge. The initial research effort, centered in Indiana, is known as the Indianapolis Flux Experiment (INFLUX). It seeks to develop measurement methods that have the potential to locate sources of emissions and test their performance by quantifying their flow to the atmosphere to an accuracy of 10 percent or less. “These are ambitious goals that have not been previously achieved, but that are needed to independently quantify progress toward greenhouse gas emission targets,” Whetstone added.

The pilot effort in LA and companion efforts in Paris build upon existing research infrastructure and collaborations with smaller cities. The project team is also working with scientists in Sao Paulo to establish a companion effort there, to study another unique urban carbon system. By establishing representative urban greenhouse gas profiles in these and other cities, the Megacities measurement methods can be extended for use around the world.

‘Sniffing’ Out the City of Angels

Among the 15 monitoring stations around the LA basin are two “super-sites” at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and atop nearby Mt. Wilson. In addition to hosting the gas analyzers, these super-sites also use natural sunlight to track carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and other gases in columns of the atmosphere over LA. These super-sites will provide a link between measurements from the surface instrumentation network and from satellites overhead. Satellites such as NASA’s OCO-2 and Japan’s Greenhouse Gases Satellite (GOSAT) periodically sample the air over Los Angeles and a subset of other cities around the world. A follow-on version of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 that may ultimately fly on the International Space Station is being designed with a “city mode” that will provide frequent maps of the carbon dioxide emissions of many of the world’s largest emitters.

The Mt. Wilson super-site is JPL’s California Laboratory for Atmospheric Remote Sensing (CLARS), located 5,700 feet (1,737 meters) above the Los Angeles basin. The brainchild of JPL Principal Investigator Stan Sander, CLARS is a prototype for the next generation of satellite instrument. It may someday serve as part of an international constellation of carbon monitoring satellites, providing frequent comprehensive mapping of greenhouse gases across entire cities and broader regions. In operation since 2010, the remotely operated CLARS measures carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and other atmospheric pollutants across a large section of the LA basin every 90 minutes during daylight hours.

“While weather satellites tell us about winds, storms and atmospheric moisture, future satellites will also use ‘chemical cameras’ to map the distributions of greenhouse gases and pollutants over whole continents,” said Sander. “CLARS provides a way to test this by mapping chemicals in the air over Los Angeles.”

“The methods we’re testing today can ultimately fill a critical need for decision makers to determine whether urban climate policies are working as intended and, if not, why, and how they should be changed,” Duren said. “With today’s technology, we’re on the verge of a new era of measurement science, capable of producing the type of data society needs to make decisions to avoid an ever-warming world.”

Megacities is a consortium funded by federal, state and private sources. The LA pilot project is funded by NASA; NIST; NOAA; the Keck Institute for Space Studies, Pasadena, California; and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Sacramento, California. Additional CLARS support was provided by NASA, NOAA and CARB. LA project implementing partners include JPL; Caltech; Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California; Arizona State University, Tempe; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of Colorado, Boulder; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California; CARB; Earth Networks Inc., Germantown, Maryland; and NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. Other collaborators include Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, Gif-sur-Yvette, France; University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Sigma Space Corporation, Lanham, Maryland; Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.; and the INFLUX team.

This article is a repost, credit: NASA.

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Fossil Fuel Divestment Hits $50 Billion Mark

September 22, 2014 in Climate Change, EV News, Oil, Pollution

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with bicameral leadership of Congress regarding foreign policy, in the Oval Office, Sept. 9, 2014. Participants include: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with bicameral leadership of Congress regarding foreign policy, in the Oval Office, Sept. 9, 2014. Participants include: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

NEW YORK CITY – The growing movement to divest from the fossil fuels causing climate change and invest instead in clean, sustainable energy reached an historic milestone today: $50B.

Over 800 global investors have now committed to divest their holdings in fossil fuels. New signatories encompass a broad diversity of sectors and regions— including foundations, individuals, faith groups, health care organizations, cities and universities around the world. Their pledge was revealed at a news conference in New York today, and will be presented tomorrow at the United Nations Climate Summit where over 120 world leaders will gather.

A leading advocate of the movement, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, called on institutions and people of conscience to divest in a video recorded for the announcement: “Climate change is the human rights challenge of our time. We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow, for there will be no tomorrow.” He called for a freeze on all new fossil fuel exploration as the companies cannot safely burn 75% of known reserves.

The fossil free Divest-Invest movement has grown explosively since its launch three years ago. Today’s announcement includes over 650 individuals and 180 institutions, including 50 new foundations added to the 17 who pledged in January. Together these institutions hold over $50 billion in total assets. Signers pledge to divest from fossil fuels over five years, taking a variety of approaches.

The foundations announced today include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, whose original endowment comes from wealth generated in the Standard Oil Company. The Fund will be divested first from coal and tar sands by the end of this year, with more to come thereafter.

“John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, moved America out of whale oil and into petroleum,” explained Stephen Heintz, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

This article is a repost, credit: Divest-Invest.