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Energy policy - July 26

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Industry Can Substantially Save Energy And Reduce CO2 Emissions

Claude Mandil, Middle East Economic Survey
Substantial industrial energy efficiency potentials remain; government and industry should co-operate to advance indicators analysis.
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Have you noticed odd changes in the behaviour of your friends and family, such as shunning car purchases in lieu of public transportation and taking action to move to a smaller residence? Probably not. Generally, rising incomes translate into demand for bigger homes and more powerful and larger cars. This poses a problem, since it produces direct emissions from consumer use as well as indirect CO2 emissions.

Indirect CO2 emissions stem from making the products that you buy since the materials incorporated in the products require energy which generates CO2 emissions. These emissions are very significant. Globally about 36% of all CO2 emissions are from the manufacturing industry, 40% from buildings and appliances and 24% from transport. About half of the transport sector emissions are from freight haulage.

Economic growth worldwide is still very dependent on manufacturing. The acceleration of global demand for materials is reflected in today's record prices for commodities such as copper, nickel, steel, aluminium and plastics.

...CO2 emissions from industrial energy use have been rising as a consequence of increasing product demand and look to be on a growing pathway. However, this trend can be mitigated through energy efficiency measures. Contrary to common belief, industry is not always efficient in its energy use. A new study of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Tracking Industrial Energy Efficiency and CO2 Emissions suggests a technical efficiency improvement potential of 18 to 26% for the manufacturing industry worldwide if best available technology were applied. These savings would equal 5 to 7% of total energy use and reduce CO2 emissions by 8 to 12% worldwide. These are conservative estimates based on proven technology. ...

Speech by Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) at the launch of Tracking Industrial Energy Efficiency and CO2 Emissions, IEA/OECD, Paris, June 2007 (www.iea.org).
(23 July 2007)


Nigeria: Rich in Oil, Dependent On Firewood

Toye Olori, Inter Press via allafrica.com
Lagos - It is a paradox of note: the fact that while Nigerians live in the world's sixth-largest oil producer, most of them still rely on wood for their fuel.

Of the country's population of over 140 million, about 70 percent live in rural areas and are directly or indirectly dependent on forest resources -- especially wood -- to meet their domestic energy needs, says Musa Amiebinomo of the national Department of Forestry.

This is leading to destruction of forest cover, a situation aggravated by illegal commercial logging.

Figures from the 2005 ' State of the World's Forests' report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) indicate that between 1990 and 2005, Nigeria lost 35.7 percent of its forest cover.

Boniface Egboka, an environmentalist and dean of the School of Postgraduate Studies at Anambra State University in south-eastern Nigeria, blames the continued use of firewood on corruption.

"Nigeria is still dependent of firewood when we have abundant oil and gas because our so-called leaders are fraudulent and corrupt. They care less about the welfare of the citizens and so they allow the forests to be mowed down," he told IPS.
(23 July 2007)


Renewable energy projects will devour huge amounts of land, warns researcher

Ian Sample, The Guardian
Large-scale renewable energy projects will cause widespread environmental damage by industrialising vast swaths of countryside, a leading scientist claims today. The warning follows an analysis of the amount of land that renewable energy resources, including wind farms, biofuel crops and photovoltaic solar cells, require to produce substantial amounts of power.

Jesse Ausubel, a professor of environmental science and director of the Human Environment programme at Rockefeller University in New York, found that enormous stretches of countryside would have to be converted into intensive farmland or developed with buildings and access roads for renewable energy plants to make a significant contribution to global energy demands.

Prof Ausubel reached his conclusions by ranking renewable energies according to the amount of power they produce for each square metre of land. The assessment allows direct comparison between the different approaches, based on the impact they will have on the surrounding landscape.

...The report breaks what Prof Ausubel calls the "taboo of talking about the strong negative aspects of renewables", by focusing on examples that highlight their limitations. "When most people think of renewables and their impact, they're mistaking pleasant landscaping with what would be a massive industrial transformation of the landscape," he said.

"A fundamental credo of being green is that you cause minimal interference with the landscape. We should be farming less land, logging less forest and trawling less ocean - disturbing the landscape less and sparing land for nature. But all of these renewable sources of energy are incredibly invasive and aggressive with regard to nature. Renewables may be renewable, but they are not green," he added.

The report, which appears in the International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology today, also criticises plans for widespread farming of biofuels. With current technology, Prof Ausubel estimates that one to two hectares of land would be needed to produce fuel for each of the world's 700m cars and other motor vehicles. "From an environmental point of view the biofuels business is a madness," he said.

Prof Ausubel said that despite technical and political concerns, nuclear power plants still ranked as the most environmentally-friendly for large conurbations. "The good news about nuclear is that over the past 50 years all of the forms of waste storage seem to have worked."
(25 July 2007)
The truth in Prof. Ausubel's report is that all energy sources have environmental impacts, including renewables. His touting of nuclear energy is perhaps less well founded. -BA

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