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Energy - Sept 12

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Wind could meet many times world's total power demand by 2030, Stanford researchers say

Andrew Myers, Standford University News
If the world is to shift to clean energy, electricty generated by the wind will play a major role – and there is more than enough wind for that, according to new research from Stanford and the University of Delaware.

Researchers at Stanford University's School of Engineering and the University of Delaware developed the most sophisticated weather model available to show that not only is there plenty of wind over land and near to shore to provide half the world's power, but there is enough to exceed the total demand by several times, even after accounting for reductions in wind speed caused by turbines.

'The careful siting of wind farms will minimize costs and the overall impacts of a global wind infrastructure on the environment,' said Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. 'But, as these results suggest, the saturation of wind power availability will not limit a clean-energy economy.'
The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, and Cristina Archer, an associate professor of geography and physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware...
(10 September 2012)
Link to the report

EU proposal would limit use of crop-based biofuels

The European Union plans to impose a limit on the use of crop-based biofuels over fears they are less climate-friendly than initially thought and compete with food production, according to draft EU legislation.
The new rules, which will need the approval of EU governments and lawmakers, represent a major shift in Europe's much-criticised biofuel policy and a tacit admission by policymakers that the EU's 2020 biofuel target was flawed from the outset.

The plans also include a promise to end all public subsidies for crop-based biofuels after the current legislation expires in 2020, effectively ensuring the decline of a European sector now estimated to be worth €17 billion a year.

"The [European] Commission is of the view that in the period after 2020, biofuels should only be subsidised if they lead to substantial greenhouse gas savings ... and are not produced from crops used for food and feed," the draft said.

The policy u-turn comes after EU scientific studies cast doubt on the emissions savings from crop-based fuels, and following a poor harvest in key grain growing regions that pushed up prices and revived fears of food shortages.

Under the proposals, the use of biofuels made from crops such as rapeseed and wheat would be limited to 5% of total energy consumption in the EU transport sector in 2020.

Crop-based fuel consumption currently accounts for about 4.5% of total EU transport fuel demand, according to the latest national figures for 2011, ensuring that there will be little room to increase current production volumes...
(11 September 2012)

Indian blackout held no fear for small hamlet where the power stayed on

Helen Pidd, The Guardian
At the end of July, India experienced the worst blackout in modern history. At least 20 states lost power in three huge grid failures covering an area home to more than 700 million people.

In one tiny village in very rural Rajasthan, the lights stayed on. Buttermilk machines churned, televisions blared and fans whirred, providing respite from the drenching humidity of the post-monsoon heat.

"We were sitting in the dark in our head office in Jaipur waiting for the power to come back on and yet in Khareda, where very recently they had no power at all, there was an unbroken supply of electricity," said Yashraj Khaitan, one of two 22-year-olds who made it happen.

Khaitan, who is Indian, with Jacob Dickinson, who was born in San Diego, has a big plan: to bring cheap, sustainable electricity to at least one million Indians within five years through their start-up, Gram Power.

Three months ago the engineering graduates from the University of California, Berkeley, chose the hamlet of Khareda Lakshmipura to test a simple solar-power microgrid which has the potential to change the lives of many of the 400 million or so Indians who are not connected to the national grid – not to mention the hundreds of millions of others in the world's biggest democracy whose electricity supply is erratic at best...
(10 September 2012)

Asia Risks Water Scarcity Amid Coal-Fired Power Embrace

Natalie Obiko Pearson, Bloomberg
Inner Mongolia’s rivers are feeding China’s coal industry, turning grasslands into desert. In India, thousands of farmers have protested diverting water to coal- fired power plants, some committing suicide.
The struggle to control the world’s water is intensifying around energy supply. China and India alone plan to build $720 billion of coal-burning plants in two decades, more than twice today’s total power capacity in the U.S., International Energy Agency data show. Water will be boiled away in the new steam turbines to make electricity and flush coal residue at utilities from China Shenhua Energy Co. (1088) to India’s Tata Power Co. (TPWR) that are favoring coal over nuclear because it’s cheaper.

With China set to vaporize water equal to what flows over Niagara Falls each year, and India’s industrial water demand growing at twice the pace of agricultural or municipal use, Asia’s most populous nations will have to reconsider energy projects to avoid conflict between cities, farmers and industry.

With China set to vaporize water equal to what flows over Niagara Falls each year, and India’s industrial water demand growing at twice the pace of agricultural or municipal use, Asia’s most populous nations will have to reconsider energy projects to avoid conflict between cities, farmers and industry...
(11 September 2012)

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