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U.S. pledges billions; China says climate pact is doubtful – washingtonpost.com

In Energy, Environment, investment on December 17, 2009 at 9:50 am

By Juliet Eilperin and Anthony Faiola Washington Post Staff WriterThursday, December 17, 2009; 7:01 AMCOPENHAGEN — The United States on Thursday announced it would help build a $100 billion annual fund by 2020 to help poor countries cope with climate change, but said its commitment depended on whether the nations gathered here could reach a substantive pact that includes “transparency” on tracking emissions cuts.

In the absence of a comprehensive pact, Clinton said, the United States would take its long-term financial pledge off the table. She did not specify how much the U.S. would contribute to the fund if a substantive agreement was reached. The European Union has also committed to building a longterm, $100 billion fund, while Japan has committed $15 billion in short-term funding to poor countries over the next three years if an agreement is reached.

Clinton’s announcement could help break a logjam that has stymied the talks for days, since developing countries have insisted they need to know how the industrialized world will help them adapt to climate change and curb their own emissions before signing off on a deal.

The $100 billion annual fund endorsed by Clinton would help poorer countries switch to less environmentally harmful forms of energy production and prepare for the impacts of rising seas and warmer global temperatures. Clinton did not detail how much the U.S. would contribute to that fund. She said there were a number of financing options under consideration, but would not provide details.

“$100 billion is a lot,” Clinton said. “It can have tangible effects.”

Clinton, however, warned that a failure to reach agreement in Copenhagen — a deal has been anticipated Friday when leaders including President Obama enter the final stage of talks — would put that pledge in jeopardy. Officials from the United States and other developed countries have consistently said they cannot accept an agreement that does not include pledged emission reductions from major developing countries, as well as a method of verifying those cuts. Such language is essential to U.S. senators, who have yet to pass climate legislation and would have to ratify any future climate treaty.

via U.S. pledges billions; China says climate pact is doubtful – washingtonpost.com.

Solar power from Sahara step closer | Business | guardian.co.uk

In cleantech, Energy, Power Grid, Solar, Sustainable on November 1, 2009 at 11:31 am

by Ashley Seager for guardian.co.uk, Sunday 1 November 2009 14.20 GMT

The German-led Desertec initiative believes it can deliver power to Europe as early as 2015

The technology is not new – it is the scale of the Desertec initiative which is a first…

A $400bn (£240bn) plan to provide Europe with solar power from the Sahara moved a step closer to reality today with the formation of a consortium of 12 companies to carry out the work.

The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) aims to provide 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050 or earlier via power lines stretching across the desert and Mediterranean sea.

The German-led consortium was brought together by Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer, and consists of some of country’s biggest engineering and power companies, including Siemens, E.ON, ABB and Deutsche Bank.

It now believes the DII can deliver solar power to Europe as early as 2015.

“We have now passed a real milestone as the company has been founded and there is definitely a profitable business there,” said Professor Peter Höppe, Munich Re’s head of climate change.

“We see this as a big step towards solving the two main problems facing the world in the coming years – climate change and energy security,” said Höppe.

The solar technology involved is known as concentrated solar power (CSP) which uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays on a fluid container. The super-heated liquid then drives turbines to generate electricity. The advantage over solar photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight directly to electricity, is that if sufficient hot fluid is stored in containers, the generators can run all night.

The technology is not new – there have been CSP plants running in the deserts of California and Nevada for two decades. But it is the scale of the Desertec initiative which is a first, along with plans to connect North Africa to Europe with new high voltage direct current cables which transport electricity over great distances with little loss.

via Solar power from Sahara step closer | Business | guardian.co.uk.