zondag 29 maart 2009

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament to switch off the lights for Earth Hour

Saturday night, lights went out all over the world to mark “Earth Hour”. Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). People were asked to turn off their non-essential lights and other electric appliances for one hour. The intention of this event is to raise the awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

Almost all the big cities around the world participated in this event. The Eiffel Tower, Shanghai’s Hong Kong New World Tower, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and Sydney’s Opera House are a few examples of monuments that took part in the action. The most striking monuments in central London switched off their lights too, namely the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It is clear that this action saved a lot of energy, but campaigners have not calculated the exact amount of energy that might be saved. Earth Hour is more symbolic than a direct action to save energy and to decrease carbon emissions.

I think this is a great event organized by the WWF. I would even say that they have to do it more often, like 4 times in a year. It’s great that there is saved a lot of energy and a decrease of the carbon emissions for one hour, but the main point is still to keep people aware of the problems in the environment and the climate change. People have to remind that the climate change is a very big danger in the near future. It’s great that governments all over the world participate in this event and give an example with the participation of the world famous monuments.

Robby Lampens

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/27/earth-hour-climate-change-wwf

Obama pledges billions for renewable energy projects

Barack Obama declared that he is planning to spend billions of dollars on renewable energy projects over the next few weeks. The president said the $129bn allocated for encouraging the use of solar power, hybrid cars and renewable energy projects would not be subject to start a political war between the White House and Congress.

His pledge on clean energy came as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) was telling the White House that global warming was endangering public health. It comes after years of resistance by George Bush. The move by the EPA could lead to nationwide measures to limit carbon emissions in the US.

Defending his plans to spend on renewable energy, Obama said that they can remain the world’s leader of exporting foreign oil or become the leading exporter of renewable energy. It’s very important for the coming generations he said too. Obama had a meeting with some clean energy entrepreneurs and he told them he hoped they could help the US out of recession by creating 300,000 jobs.

Republican and Democratic congressional members are growing increasingly sceptical about the scale of Obama's budget. He is also creating a fight to prevent the Congress to cut back the plans. The White House said his budget would provide $75bn over the next 10 years to make permanent existing tax cuts for clean energy. His $787bn economic stimulus package aimed to help the US out of recession, included $39bn for clean energy projects and $20bn in tax incentives. Jared Bernstein, a White House economics adviser, said Obama was prepared to negotiate details with clean energy entrepreneurs but not with Congress.

Obama is facing opposition to his budget from conservatively fiscal Democrats who are worried about the size of his spending plans. Also the Republicans opposed to plans to penalise high pollution companies.

For me it’s clear Obama wants to improve the living climate. Improving this climate means there are a lot of measures that has to be taken. Obama is willing to spend an enormous budget to execute his plans, and maybe it’s really necessary. As he said, it’s important for every one in the world that they are one of the biggest exporters of oil in the whole world. But if we proceed, just like we are living today, it will be necessary too that the US becomes the biggest exporter of clean energy all over the world. When they are able to reach this target, they will be able to help a lot of countries.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/23/barack-obama-environmental-spending-budget

Posted by Joachim De Zutter

'Spy plane' to find energy waste

A spy plane has been flying over Brit homes and businesses to know how much energy they waste.

A Council, in Norfolk, spended £30,000 to hire an aircraft for five days which is fitted with a thermal imaging camera. With these images the council knows the locations of the houses and businesses where the most heat is being lost.

With this project the council hoped to identify the firms who were losing the most heat and to advise these firms on the grants they could be receiving.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance said that people are sick and tired of being heckled and spied on by local government and they have slammed the latest spy scheme as just another example of the local authorities poking their noses into the lives of Brits. They also said that in a period of recession the council had better ways to spend the £30,000. In their eyes the project was just a waste of money.

According to me this spy plane is a good initiative took by the government. Because the plane helps to find houses and businesses were a lot of energy is waste by losing heat. If they know that they are losing heat, they can do something about it.

I can follow the opinion of the TaxPayers’ Alliance. It could be that the government is poking its noses into the lives of the Brits, but I think that this project can help the Brits to reduce their energy bill. If they know that they are losing energy, they can take measures to do something about it.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/norfolk/7960201.stm

Dominique Van Huffel

vrijdag 27 maart 2009

Device Provides Household Energy Savings of 12%

There is a new device -called 100% Off- designed that disconnects electronic appliances in stand-by mode and which reduces their power consumption to zero. This device works with all the existing appliances and can easily be adapted to other appliances that will be designed in the future. This interesting device is developed by a team of researchers from the UPC center for technological innovation.

A study has revealed that during the period of one year the relative cost of running an appliance is higher in standby mode than when it is switched on.

With this device the households will save 12% of energy. In Spain, an average household spends €367 per year on electricity. If the households in Spain eliminate the standby mode, this would result in a save of €44/year.
This device also protects against power surges and extends the useful life of the appliances. The households reach an energy efficiency by controlling the power consumption of individual appliances. It is a microprocessor that measures when an appliance is in standby mode, and it is automatically switched off.

The 100% Off device is a power strip for connecting multiple appliances, some of which can be switched off while others are left in stand-by mode. The device has a green button for switching appliances back on when required.
The system can be integrated into new household appliances, and in the future, 100% Off technology will be compatible with a range of devices, such as laser printers which need to switch between stand-by and off modes.

I think this device is very interesting. All the households are having appliances which are often on standby mode. With this development there could be a lot of energy and money saved. As there is said in this article, there is a lot of useless energy waste on appliances on standby mode.
When I take a look at my bedroom, I have 4 appliances that are daily on the standby mode, a television, a playstation 3, a clock radio and a hi-fi equipment. This device could be very useful in my room!

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090318090348.htm

Made by Kevin De Pauw

zondag 22 maart 2009

Gales set wind power record for Spain

Wind Turbines in the north west of Spain set a new record for power generation where gales blew across the country, with more than 40% of the country's energy needs being generated by wind turbines. The new record stands at a peak of 11,180 megawatts of electricity supply.

Wind power has so far covered 11.5% of demand this year, 30% more than last year. Renewable energies provided 31% of total electricity supply in Spain in February, partly thanks to generous rains that boosted hydroelectric production.

The World Wildlife Fund praised Spain’s rapid move into renewable energies. Spain has also earned praises from WWF for its overall effort in developing renewable energy during the past 12 years. By the next year Spain aims to meet 30% of its annual electricity demand from renewable sources.Spain has now a 38% reduction in CO² emissions compared with 2008.

I think this is incredible news. Because that's a lot of energy that's produced. But I think It doesn’t have to be 40% all the time to be a huge victory for the viability of wind power. When there is wind, there is energy! This is why I am a great fan of these wind turbines.

So I think that these wind farms are very positive for Spain because they produce a lot of energy and this i why I think that many other countries should follow Spain to build these wind farms.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/06/spain-wind-power

Dominique Van Huffel

Scandal sullies Spain's clean energy

Spain has to deal with a new phenomenon. They call it “eco-corruption”. 19 people have been accused of corruption and have been arrested. The arrest of the mayor of the town ‘La Muela’ is notable.

Ten years ago, La Muela was just an ordinary town in Spain, but today it has become one of Spain’s richest towns. This happened because of what is called the new gold for rural communities, also known as renewable energy. The small town counts 500 giant windmills. The windmills generate € 1 million a year in rent and local taxes to the town hall. Private landowners share a further €0.5 million a year. These money amounts are paid by energy companies.

There isn’t only a boom in wind energy but also in solar farms. People started asking questions about all of this and experts believe that energy is attracting dirty money. Luis Gomez, a journalist of El Paiz, commented: “Who got the licences? That is where the shadow of doubt appears. There have been no public tenders and no transparent decision-making.”

According to me this is a very delicate case. It is good that there are that many projects for renewable energy in Spain, but it isn’t right that people (who are high placed) are trying to take some personal advantages of it. I believe that the building of 500 windmills in La Muela brought a lot of benefits for the town, but of course it is possible that there was some corruption. It is possible that energy companies bribed the mayor, to may build that much windmills or to get the order to build the project. There can be corruption in every business, so I think there is a big chance that corruption is present in this strongly growing business. In my opinion, it will never be easy to banish corruption and many resources will be needed to try it.

Robby Lampens

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/22/la-muela-renewables-spain-corruption

Energy plant is backed by county

The community Northamptonshire had plans to build a renewable energy fuel plant. From now on, they will get the support of the local councillors. The plant is an idea of “Shore Energy” and the plans have been approved on Tuesday.

Building this plant means the creation of 24 full-time jobs and 100 construction posts. The plant would process rubbish to separate materials for recycling and produce a renewable fuel from the remaining biomass, which would be used to produce electricity. Yearly, the plant has to produce about 50,000 tonnes of fuel. This is enough to produce between five and eight megawatts of electricity.

Next to the support of the local government, a private finance initiative will help to build the plant.

The main target of the whole project is reducing waste. Ben Smith, a councilor, says that they are constantly under pressure to reduce the amount of waste, which is going to landfill. If this facility goes ahead, it will help enormously to ensure they meet their targets. Not only will waste be diverted from landfill and recycled while in the meantime the non-recyclable waste can be used to generate electricity from a renewable source.

Next to the environmental benefits, there is another benefit! In this time of recession, the creation of extra jobs means an extra for the county’s economy.

For me it’s clear that building this plant has a lot of advantages for Northamptonshire. Using useless rubbish to create a sort of energy… What can we ask more than that? So, in order to reach their target concerning energy waste, it’s a good thing and secondly because of economic development. Maybe more of these initiatives should be taken to reduce energy waste all over the world.

 Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/northamptonshire/7953445.stm

 Posted by Joachim De Zutter

Europe's energy chiefs aim for carbon-neutral electricity by 2050

The leaders of 61 power groups in the EU have made an agreement to achieve carbon-neutral electricity within an integrated power market by 2050.

There is said that Europe has lowered its ambitions to fight the climate change, and that they are reneging on efforts to help the poorest developing countries adapt to a low-carbon economy.

For the first time ever the chief executives made energy efficiency the most important item of the climate change policy.
According to the president of Eurelectric, Lars Josefsson, there is needed an investment of €1.8 in the period starting from now till 2030 to replace the ageing plants, develop smart grids, meet surging demand and to deliver on environmental targets.

The president of Eurelectric said that their belief has been reiterated that a competitive functioning market is the best way to deliver on the goal in a cost-effective manner.

Another chief executive stated that nuclear power is also a very important component of carbon-free supply.

The governments of the EU are thinking about a €5bn plan to spend unused EU budget lines on predominantly carbon-free energy, including CCS, offshore power grids.
Eurelectric urged the leaders to work for a global approach to the challenge of mitigating greenhouse gases, increase support for R&D and CCS and buttress market-based electricity prices. Consumers have already been warned that "green" energy will require price rises of up to 20%.

I think that this article shows that it isn’t easy to deal with the climate change. It takes a lot of work, and large investments are needed. Not everyone is happy with this. The consumer will be the victim of all this because of the price rises.
If we want to save our planet, all the people need to do an effort.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/19/europe-energy-power-climate

Kevin De Pauw

zondag 15 maart 2009

Maldives first to go carbon neutral

Mohamed Nasheed, the president of the Maldives, announced that he wants his country to be carbon-neutral within a decade. The president said that he has a plan to realize his wish and hopes that many countries will follow. It’s very important that everybody will realize that the global warming can be a big danger for many people. Scientists expect rising seas caused by climate change and this could endanger the Maldives and other low-lying nations.

A new renewable electricity generation and transmission infrastructure with 155 large wind turbines, half a square kilometre of rooftop solar panels, and a biomass plant burning coconut husks are all part of the plan. The plan includes a back-up system too, for when neither wind nor solar energy is available. President Nasheed wants a carbon-neutral nation so he also has to tackle the polluting cars and boats. The plan includes that cars and boats with polluting engines will be replaced gradually by electric versions.

I think that this is a very good and progressive plan. It’s a good idea of Mohamed Nasheed, but maybe it could be difficult to realize. I hope that it will succeed and that a lot of leading people will consider the plan too, to take it over on their own country. It will be harder to succeed for bigger countries of course, but every effort to reduce the carbon emissions and to use green, durable energy is worth a try.

Robby Lampens

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/15/maldives-president-nasheed-carbon-neutral

Energy efficiency impact queried

I already published a blog in which the UK government wants to tackle the problem of energy efficiency in the British households. A lot of measures are taken, a lot of plans are made. But MP’s are warning! The plans of the UK government are failing, unless builders are forced to comply with new regulations.

Energy consumption by UK households had fallen, but the efficiency levels lagged behind some EU countries. The MP also added the minsters have to set up clear plans. The government wants the energy use of the households to fall by 11% in 2010, another 2% in 2016, all compared with levels between 2001 and 2005.

More than 80% of efficiency savings by 2020 have to come from changes to building regulations. Till now, the work of builders and suppliers wasn’t under the direct control of Whitehall departments.
Households are still using 8% more energy than in 1990. It’s quite evident that the usage of energy will rise as more homes are getting built. Another problem is that most of the people are using more electric appliances than in the past.

The government wants to put more control on the building control officers. So they want them to be trained, so they could use their power more effectively to enforce the energy savings in the building regulations. The government established that little is known from the current building regulations in order to save energy. The consequence of this all: effectiveness of the regulations on energy performance in practice is uncertain.

It’s a good thing that the government really is concerned about the problem of energy waste. They want to introduce new measures, they want to be more strict. But I have the feeling that there is no cohesion between all the new introductions. The government should set up a clear plan, a plan for more than just a couple of months. A well-organised and structured plan for a couple of years should be a greathfull help for everyone. So the building control officers will know better what the government really is expecting…

SOURCE: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7919352.stm

Posted by Joachim De Zutter

Energy rule effectiveness 'unclear'

Government plans to make homes more energy efficient may fail unless builders are forced to comply with new regulations, MPs have warned.

More than 80% of the expected efficiency savings by 2020 would have to come from changes to building regulations, the committee said.

The Commons public accounts committee also said households faced a "confusingly wide range of advice".

Houses were still using 8% more energy than in 1990 and usage would rise as more homes were built and people used more electrical appliances, the MPs said.

Energy consumption by UK homes had fallen encouragingly but efficiency levels lagged behind some EU countries. The government says household energy use must fall by 11% by 2010 and a further 2% by 2016, compared with 2001-05 levels.

The committee called on DCLG to check that all building control officers are fully trained and are using their powers effectively to enforce the energy savings requirements in the building regulations.

It added: "Little is known about the extent of compliance with the energy-saving parts of current building regulations, so the adequacy and effectiveness of the regulations on energy performance in practice is uncertain.

The Department for Communities and Local Government should set out a clear plan for testing energy performance routinely on a sample basis to check on compliance, the effectiveness of the buildings control regime and, ultimately, the effectiveness of building regulations in delivering reduced energy consumption.

Personally I think that the plans to make homes more energy efficient are a very good initiative of the government, because energy efficient buildings could reduce the needs of energy in the world, and these buildings can also help to control the global emissions of greenhouse gases, which is positive for the environment. Also the energy bills will be reduced because people are going to use less energy in the future because of these energy efficient buildings.

Source: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23656447-details/Energy+rule+effectiveness+'unclear'/article.do

Dominique Van Huffel

zaterdag 14 maart 2009

£50bn of European investment needed to kick-start Saharan solar plan

At a global warming conference in Copenhagen an expert has told that the European countries could transform their electricity from a giant network of solar panels in the Sahara desert. This project could be reached within a decade.

The only problem that there could be is the price tag, there is £50bn of government investment needed to make this project succeed.

If this project could be combined with the windfarms on the coast of North-Africa, there will be enough energy to supply energy

The reason why this scheme is so interesting, is that the sun can be used almost every day of the year. Even in the winter it's sunny in the desert. The sun is also very strong on that location, much stronger than in Spain for instance, with wich there can be created more engery than on another location with these solar panels.

Another advantage is that the cost of moving the energy (electricity) from one location to another one is not as high anymore than it was in the past. Even when there is a long distance from the Sahara to Europe.

Some experts are affraid that some people will not be very happy with this project, for instance because of the cables that will have to be installed near the homes of households.

Personaly I think this is one of the most interesting energy projects. First of all it's a renewable energy source wich is good for our planet.

Secondly this project will create some jobs wich is also good for the economy in Africa!

I'm a little bit affraid that a beautiful place in the world (the desert) will be polluted.

I also think that sandstorms could result in troubles for transporting the energy to Europe.

It's also dangerous to be 100% reliable of another country to have energy and electricity, when there is war for instance between these 2 continents, Europe won't have energy.

My conclusion is that this is a very interesting project, and is also good for our planet in one way, but I think it's very important that Europe isn't 100% reliable of anoher continent, that's to dangerous!!

Kevin De Pauw

zondag 8 maart 2009

New green strategy could create 400,000 jobs

The British government has announced that new jobs will be created in low-carbon industries for 400,000 people. In an interview with the Guardian, Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, said that all over the world countries are working to create a low-carbon economy and that Britain must not get left behind. The government will try to work on items such as a better energy efficiency and a smart electricity grid.

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, wants to find out how the UK can boost jobs and investment in areas as cleaner vehicles and green energy. He will launch the summit for this, which will be hosted by Miliband.

Miliband has mentioned a few items to work on. First, they need to encourage business to achieve greater energy efficiency (especially buildings). Secondly, Britain needs long-term investments in a smart electricity grid to reduce the overall need for generating capacity. Thirdly, renewable energy is a very important issue. The climate change secretary thinks that nuclear and coal-fired power plants are the way to success.

I think that it’s a very good initiative of the British government. It’s an example for all the industrialized countries. It would be great if all the western countries would invest in low-carbon industries to reduce the air pollution. CO2 emissions would be cut on a large scale and that would be very good for the environment all over the world. Another advantage is the creation of employment, but I’m not sure that this plan will create 400,000 jobs as planned.

Robby Lampens

Dark days for green energy

The last years, wind and solar power have been growing at an incredible pace. People believed that the green-minded Obama administration would accelerate the growth, but because of the credit crisis, the opposite is happening.

Factories buildings parts for these industries are feeling a wave of layoffs. Trade groups are unlikely to install this new equipment, to get more subsidies and help from the government. This during a period that the prices for wind turbines and solar panels are falling.

People believed these new industries were bulletproof, but recent research made us believe that it isn’t the case. Even the best places in the world in case of wind farms, are announcing a cut of 20% because of falling sales.

The energy crisis caused big troubles for the Wall Street banks. 18 of these banks promised to finance projects, but because of energy crisis only 4 banks are left! So, the wind and solar developers have been left starved for capital. Now, they hope that the new president Obama will help to stimulate these markets again. A lot of producers of these “new” energies had to layoff workers. Others have cut back or delayed heir wind farm plans. Also renewable energy sources, like making electricity from wood chips are suffering the financial crisis. The construction of some new projects means that companies needs a lot of money. So, the banks are very important to get some funds. Because of the crisis, banks aren’t likely to give them the funds they need. So companies have to search for other sources for investing capital.

Just as all the companies believe that Obama will create a new wind, I also believe it. I’m sure that the credit crisis will be solved and companies will be able to get money from banks. After every crisis, there is a growing-up which lead to a period of boom. I also believe that the government has to do an extra effort to stimulate the green energy. This in order to create a better climate to live in. What will it be in 2050 when every factory and every household can say that they use energy on an ecologic friendly way? I think it’s a big dream of ecologists, but if everyone does what’s possible, maybe we can all realise their dreams!

Posted by Joachim De Zutter