Energy savings work!
It had passed me by, but an outfit called the Breakthrough Institute (BTI) has been suggesting that energy savings don’t work, according to a guest post at Climate Progress. They say there is a “rebound effect” which causes 60 to 100% or more of energy savings to be lost. For example, if you save on your power bill you will spend that money on a thing or activity that uses energy. The contention has been amplified in the MSM in the US.
A thorough examination of this theory has found that the rebound effect exists, but it’s 10 to 30%. So 70 to 90% of savings are permanent. This is important because, they say, 25-40% of GHG abatement could be achieved through energy savings.
US energy-efficiency programs hit the mark
The figures for energy savings aren’t out for 2011. But the IEE [Institute for Electric Efficiency] report explains that efficiency efforts saved 112 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2010, which is about the same amount of energy used to power more than 9.7 million homes in the U.S. By comparison, the entire German solar-PV fleet generated 18.6 terawatt-hours in 2011 — roughly six fold less than American energy savings programs.
Those savings were achieved at an average cost of 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, making it one of the most competitive resources on the market.
Read this post and follow the links.
German solar PV impressive
On solar PV as such the laurels go to Germany by a country mile. They installed 3 Gw of solar PV in December alone, compared with 1.7 Gw in the US for the whole of 2011 – and at roughly half the price.
Phase change materials to save energy
This one had a run in a recent comments thread, but I’m putting it up front because of its importance. The New Scientist has an article on new building at the University of Washington where:
encapsulated within the walls and ceiling panels is a gel that solidifies at night and melts with the warmth of the day. Known as a phase change material (PCM), the gel will help reduce the amount of energy needed to cool office space in the building … by a whopping 98 per cent.
It points out that the energy to change water from solid to liquid form (melting the ice) is the same as heating water 82C. A panel 1.25 cm thick of this gel has the thermal mass of 25 cm of concrete.
You could pick up the discussion on the earlier thread by John D, Huggybunny, Chris, Ootz etc from here. You need a material that has a melting point at the temperature at which you want to stabilise. John D has been looking and there are various materials on the market.
Carbon removal by cheap polymers
Existing methods of CO2 removal can be energy intensive and expensive. Now a group of scientists has found a way of removing CO2 from sources such as smokestack effluent, tailpipe emissions, or even directly out of the open atmosphere using a filter containing polyethylenimine, a cheap and common polymer.
Younger Dryas may not have affected Oz
You’ve probably seen graphs like this one of the temperature over Greenland:
I don’t have a link for the graph, but it came from a report on security and was sourced to NASA.
Research now available has found “no conclusive evidence for cooling, or indeed any distinctive climate patterning, during the Younger Dryas Chronozone in Australia.”
In a post a couple of years ago I used this graph from Tamino at Open Mind (the link I had is broken):
That may have been about right. It conforms with the notion (I posted an item last year) that you can have quite significant variations on a hemisphere level while the other hemisphere stays the same or goes in the opposite direction. Both hemispheres warming, as now, is unusual.
That item was from a new weekly feature at Skeptical Science, New research from last week. I’ll keep an eye out for interesting items.
Retreating alpine meadows
A new study of changing mountain vegetation has suggested that some alpine meadows could disappear within the next few decades as a result of climate change.
The first ever pan-European study carried out by an international group of researchers revealed that climate change is having a more profound effect on alpine vegetation than expected.
Led by researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna, biologists from 13 different countries in Europe analysed 867 vegetation samples from 60 different summits sited in all major European mountain systems, first in 2001 and then again just seven years later in 2008.
They found strong indications that, at a continental scale, cold-loving plants traditionally found in alpine regions are being pushed out of many habitats by warm-loving plants.
Also at Treehugger.
Finally, to please at least one of our readers, two new wave power devices are being developed.
They are aiming to undercut coal and everything else, for that matter.