Friday, 24 August 2007

UK Likely to Miss CO2 Targets

The Independent reports that the UK Government will probably miss its greenhouse gas emissions target "by a wide margin".

Britain has pledged to not only meet its Kyoto climate treaty target of reducing emissions 12.5 percent by 2010, but to cut emissions at least 20 percent by 2020. More recently, the draft Climate Change Bill proposed a 60 percent reduction by 2050, with an interim target of 26-32% by 2020.

However, according to the latest semi-annual analysis by the think tank Cambridge Econometrics, few of these targets are likely to be met. The reports findings include the following points:

  • "...the government will miss its renewables electricity target for 2010 and 2015 by wide margins, but will nearly meet its target for 2020"
  • "The projected fall in carbon emissions over 2005-10 will not be enough to achieve the government’s 20% domestic carbon-reduction goal"
  • "Carbon emissions are expected to stabilise over 2010-15, but will resume their decline thereafter to 2020"
  • "The UK is expected to meet the Kyoto target for greenhouse gases, despite the rise in CO2 emissions in 2004-06"
  • "The government’s updated GHG projections for 2020, accompanying the 2007 Energy White Paper, may be optimistic."

(Carbon Clear Homepage)

Good Intentions

The old nursery rhyme begins, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."

And if good intentions were enough, climate change wouldn't be a problem. The fact is, though, that caring about the environment isn't enough - we have to back up these fine sentiments with action.

A recent survey showed that ninety percent of Americans say they are concerned about saving energy in their homes. However, few people are willing to spend more on energy efficiency improvements. To quote the article:

In fact, the survey found that if homeowners had the money to spend on their backyard, almost one in five would get a new deck, spa or hot tub - items that don't promote energy efficiency or sustainability.

A big part of our job here at Carbon Clear is helping people and companies bridge the gap between their good intentions and tangible actions that will help tackle climate change. Customers come to us for practical advice for cost effective reductions through both in-house reductions and high quality carbon offsets.

Let us know how we can help you.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Buy One Get One Tree with Innocent and Carbon Clear

innocent and Starbucks have got together with Carbon Clear to grow lots of trees in India to help fight climate change and provide income to local communities. The trees also provide food and medicine as well as supporting other crops by reducing soil erosion and providing shade.

From 16 July until 15 August, every innocent smoothie sold in Starbucks will have a unique code. Once this code is entered on the dedicated innocent site, it will be converted to investment in a tree in one of Carbon Clear’s dedicated reforestation projects.

For more information visit the innocent website and for your own tree get yourself down to Starbucks! You can find more information on all our carbon reducing projects here.

Friday, 3 August 2007

The Grid Is the Battery

Wind turbines are a great low-carbon power source because once you build the turbine, the "fuel" - the wind - is free. But the wind doesn't always blow when demand for power is high. For wind power to catch on, you need a way to store that power.

Last year I was contacted by a pair of MBA students at London Business School seeking technical help for a project. They were evaluating the prospects for an American company that's developed an innovative power storage system for large-scale wind turbines. That system, which uses compressed air to store energy, may offer some cost and environmental advantages over traditional banks of batteries.

"But there's another option," I told the students. If you occasionally have more power than you need, why not just sell it to someone else over the electricity grid? And when you have a shortfall because the wind isn't blowing, you can buy some back."

In other words, use the electricity grid as your battery. Even if you have to pay a premium for the electricity you buy back, this is often more cost-effective than investing in an expensive onsite power storage system.

On a household level this is called "reverse metering" (I blogged about this a few months ago), and it has helped solar power take off in California and elsewhere.

Now The Economist magazine has caught on. Last week they published a great article calling for an interconnected electricity grid covering all of Europe. A project like this could lead to a huge surge in windpower, big enough to provide 30% of Europe's electricity and displace some of the continent's coal and nuclear power stations. As the authors rightly point out, the wind is usually blowing somewhere, so if your local wind turbines aren't spinning, someone else's will be. And with a big enough pool of electricity users, your excess wind power can be used by someone else, without the need for batteries.

Decentralised windpower with batteries or compressed air storage is a great idea for remote installations that can't be reached by power lines.

But if you want to see wind power really take off, remember: the grid is the battery.

(Carbon Clear homepage)