Climate clippings 74

The weekend was a bit ordinary for me, but as supercoach Wayne Bennett says, if you can’t say anything nice say nothing. That’s how he addressed his troops after the thrashing they got in the previous week. This week they creamed the opposition!

This CC concentrates on climate mitigation, the practical stuff, rather than science, observations and future predictions. What I’m stepping around at the moment is politics, policy, opinion etc.

1. Renewables in surprising places

This image at Clean Technica indicates the potential of renewable energy. Please note that the amounts for coal etc are total reserves, whereas the renewables are annual.


I’m not sure the natural gas is accurate as there is a lot of unconventional gas around.

2. Countries with over 60% renewable energy

Karl-Friedrich Lenz, a German law professor in Tokyo, has compiled a list of countries with over 60% renewable energy. There is a lot of hydro in the 45 countries listed. Iceland with 26.27 geothermal and Portugal with 27% wind are notable.

Wikipedia has a list of all countries, somewhat out of date. It’s hard to get a ranking excluding hydro and lists of wind and solar are a bit hard to come by. Perhaps readers have seen some.

I extracted this list from the US Department of Energy 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report (pdf):


The top 10 countries are European, then India.

This link gives the top solar countries mixed with US states in terms of watts per capita. Again the European countries take the top ten except for Australia in 9th spot.

It’s interesting that Professor Lenz gave up advocacy for nuclear because of the “intolerable opposition to renewable energy of most of the pro-nuclear bloggers.”

3. Cheap solar panels coming our way

China hardly rates on the per capita graph, but nevertheless its solar production and use is large in absolute terms.

Tristan Edis tells of the huge subsidies imposed by the US and Europe on Chinese imports solar panels. This pie chart shows the global PV demand in 2013:

Global PV demand 2013_1_68

I believe we do have one solar panel manufacturer, but tariffs are not our style.

As expected China is not amused, so who knows what will happen!

4. China invests in our grid

They are here, and in the long run may have much to contribute. China has bought into Australian utilities through the purchase of part of the electricity and gas distribution interests from Singapore Power. The Chinese outfit is State Grid Corporation, the largest utility company in the world.

They will be a passive investor, but State Grid is regarded as a world leader in ultra high-voltage technology and smart grids. So in the long run their technology may help us to modernise. A sign of how the future will unfold.

5. Milan’s vertical forest

Architect Stefano Boeri plans to bring the forest to the city by planting 480 big and medium-size trees, 250 small trees, and roughly 11,000 groundcover plants on two new buildings in Milan. It’s the equivalent of a hectare (10,000 sqm) of forest.


6. European cities adapt

Last year the European Environment Agency (EEA) produced a report Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe downloadable here. Green spaces on roof tops are eye-catching and valuable, but the report is far more extensive in it’s coverage, containing numerous maps of the projected impacts of climate change. Together with the European Climate Adaptation Platform Climate-ADAPT reports from the EEA make a valuable resource for policy makers and practitioners.

7. New technology

New technology appears at a bewildering rate. Here are some that have crossed my path in the past few days.

A new solar cell printer installed at CSIRO’s Melbourne labs is allowing scientists to produce Australia’s largest thin film solar cells, at 10 times their previous size.

Purchased over the last three months, the $200,000 printer has allowed researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) – a collaboration between CSIRO, the University of Melbourne, Monash University and industry partners – to print organic photovoltaic cells the size of an A3 sheet of paper.

Australia is [now] definitely up there with the best in the world – and vastly increases the range applications the solar cells can be used for. “We can set them into advertising signage, powering lights and other interactive elements,” says Dr Watkins. “We can even embed them into laptop cases to provide backup power for the machine inside.”

Local company Dyesol has announced a ‘game changing’ technical breakthrough’: the achievement of a solid-state Dye Solar Cell (DSC) efficiency of 11.3 per cent at full sun – up from 5 per cent in 2010.

Dyesol says it is also confident of achieving industrial efficiencies greater than 10 per cent because of the added simplicity of working with solid-state systems. This would make the technology grid competitive, says the company – “the ‘holy grail’ for renewable energy technologies.” The achievement is particularly important in solar markets where light conditions are sub-optimal, such as Europe, North America and North-East Asia, where Dyesol technology has a considerable advantage over 1st and 2nd generation photovoltaic technologies.

The University at Buffalo in New York is working on a new affordable solar paint.

Then scientists at Yale have improved the ability of a promising type of solar cell to absorb light and convert it into electrical power by adding a fluorescent organic dye to the cell.

Meanwhile new electricity in California is to be nearly 100% solar.

Utility scale PV plants are now cost-effective in Oregon.

The Australian Government has released a clean energy map showing activity around the country.

I think there is a fair chance that an Abbott government would find the whole direct action, or most of it, unaffordable in the context of the presumed ‘budget crisis’. If so the world will simply pass them by.

10 thoughts on “Climate clippings 74”

  1. Brian, you say “I think there is a fair chance that an Abbott government would find the whole direct action, or most of it, unaffordable in the context of the presumed ‘budget crisis’. If so the world will simply pass them by.”
    My take is that as the rest of the world is doing more and more they will start to make things difficult for developed countries with high per capita footprints.

  2. That could be so, John D, if the world gets truly serious. My suspicion is that countries will be free to choose their own targets for some time, simply because the US and China don’t want to conform to any externally imposed standard.

    The selection above shows that the Europeans are relatively serious about climate change, but the US, China and other countries are also on the move. The Labor Government has put us in the picture. Whether we have enough momentum to carry us forward in spite of a slack government is what I suspect we are going to find out.

  3. I have a new column on Around the traps called Enviroment and I suspect it will involve mostly your work.

    I might call it Brian Banisch’s spot!

  4. Brian @ 3 on electric vehicle charging. Some planning is being done in Australia. For example the 160km F3 between Sydney and Newcastle has had the energy assessors measuring. It had been thought that E vehicles could do the trip but terrain and vehicle weight suggested the need for a charge stop at 94km.
    Looking at that US map you would not be able currently to cross the nation in your Leaf given the sparseness of charge points in the mid west. But I guess exponentially speaking all that could quickly change.

  5. I read all of Brian’s posts avidly but rarely comment. Much of the info I have read previously but there is great value in the summation and revision. Very often there is also new information. I just wanted to emphasise that the small number of comments doesn’t reflect a lack of interest. Thanks Brian.

  6. Ditto Brian. I also wonder if there is among those ‘forward’ thinkers on climate change/AGW (ie anyone who takes an interest) an element of ‘climate fatigue’ in absorbing the latest evidence. We all know the subject and response is so vast and on such a time scale that action on an individual, even national level is fraught with doubt. I think there ought to be some national leadership on crisis management in facing a potential weather/climate event. The example of petrol rationing in the face of panic buying with a ‘fuel threat’ comes to mind as an urban phenomena in an area not to do with climate change. Emptying supermarket shelves could be another ‘trigger’ event that governments should be putting on par with a run on banks in a financial crisis which we know they fear.
    But you can see it currently in agriculture as state and federal governments try to come to grips with something to replace ‘exceptional circumstances’ (or dealing with drought) . The failure of the last big wet in northern Australia cattle country is another ‘real time’ sector example which could have profound future impacts for those involved.
    Both could be seen to be climate change issues even though they are under-whelming for most of us in an urban sense.
    Are there mass psychologists out there ready to lead the charge?

  7. Pablo, looks like the Chines know something about mass psychology!

    “China emissions cap proposal hailed as climate breakthrough …… China’s emissions super tanker is starting to turn. So is Australia’s, but the reason China will continue to be successful is because that they can give investors confidence that they are serious about driving low carbon development. The lessons for developed countries like Australia is that we risk being left in its wake, and washed up against the rocks if we are not careful.”

  8. “Engineers Design, Test Taller, High-Strength Concrete Towers for Wind Turbines”

    There’s mention of concrete increasing “steel’s 20-year tower life”.
    Damned if I can see why a steel tower can’t last 50 or 100 years with proper maintenance.
    Aside from that, taller towers could increase energy production by 15%.

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