looking forward to our renewable future
TWO WHEELS GOOD
An e-bike buyer’s guide (of sorts) SUSTAINABLE ENERGY: Using our cars as generators. Why not? SOLAR BARRIERS UNDONE: An insider’s perspective CARBON MARKETS: Are they really bad to the bone? THE CLEAN REVOLUTION: Creating a catalyst for change
Inside This Issue
Climate Group Launches ‘The Clean Revolution’
‘Where There’s Muck, There’s Brass’ – Americans Throwing Billions Of Dollars Worth Of Recyclable Waste Into page - In The News page 17 6 - Crowdfunding Landfill A selection of Sites the more interstingfinance renewable energy As traditional sources of investment continue to stories fromscarce, the last remain willfew theweeks movement towards crowd-funding prove to be the perfect solution for clean technology projects?
Flat-pack Wind Turbines For Urban Locations
What Did The Environmentalist Say To The Porsche 911 Driver?
New biofuel process dramatically improves energy recovery 2
UK Sales Of Sustainable Fish Leap 200% As Media-Led People Power Prevails
A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SUPPLY FOR EVERYONE
Our cars, our generators. It makes perfect sense when you think about it.
page - In The News page 17 6 - Crowdfunding A selection of the more interstingfinance renewable energy As traditional sources of investment continue to stories fromscarce, the last remain willfew theweeks movement towards crowd-funding prove to be the perfect solution for clean technology projects?
BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS TO SOLAR
An insider’s perspective on the state of the solar market
TWO WHEELS GOOD An e-bike buyer’s guide
“PSSST...WANNA BUY SOME CARBON?” Are carbon trading markets really bad to the bone?
To Infinity and Beyond With Nasa having successfully landed another unmanned vehicle on Mars, there has been plenty of talk in web-world this month about the whole business of life, the universe and everything.
I used to get when my mother and father would ring to say that they had decided to cut short their holiday by a couple of days, and that they would be home in about half an hour. Two days work to remove all evidence of teenage All of which always leads us hedonism, but only 30 to wonder: Will we one day minutes in which to do it. find ourselves being visited from afar? And if so, will I mean really, what if we they look like us? Will they did get visited by superior be more advanced than us? beings and had to explain Will they have ray guns? ourselves?
and oven chips. Milestones all of them. But what I don’t get, is all that grubbing around in the ground for fuel? None of the other planets has done that yet. It looks awfully messy.”
A train of thought which always leaves me with a sense of foreboding. The sort of foreboding feeling
Zib: “Your drilling skills are indeed admirable, but I’m afraid some of the people back at HQ have been
Zib: “So, you seem to have got things going quite nicely here. You’ve got the wheel, penicillin, nanotechnology,
Earth President (In a James Mason voice): “Ah, yes, sorry about that. We’ve been meaning to switch over to solar and wind and things for ages. It’s just that we’ve got an awful lot of drills now you know.”
Will we one day find ourselves being visited from afar? And if so, will they look like us? Will they be more advanced than us? Will they have ray guns?
talking about how nice it would be to have another sun in the Delta quadrant and seeing as how you lot don’t seem to be using yours much, other than as a light...? We’d pay you handsomely of course and we can always shine a space torch over this way if you like?
we know how to stop grubbing around in the ground, even if we haven’t quite got round to it yet. People like Professor Ad van Wijk at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
Who, among many visionary suggestions, would be able to point Earth President: “A space out that one day, rather torch you say, and we’d than driving around in get to keep all our oil and 99% inefficient internal coal. Um. Well, we do have combustion engines our shareholders’ profits to wrapped up in 1,000kg think about…” or so of precious metals, we’ll be hopping into our Zob: “Time to go Zib – clean-burning, hydrogen they’ve found another fuel cell-powered mobile planet in the very next electricity generators universe, populated by instead. Clean, mobile highly advanced hedgehogs generators that double up who have mastered the art as cars? How brilliant is of telepathic gliding! See that? you in another few million years Earth people, if As it stands, in 2013 you’re still around that is.” approximately 60 million new, mainly petrolFortunately for us though, powered cars will be sold if Zib and Zob really did around the world, each pop in, there are people with a generative capacity among us who could at of 80 kW. Each of which least convince them that will spend 93% of its life
parked outside either its owner’s home or place of work. Idle. Not generating any power with that 80 kW engine, and not feeding any of that power into the houses and buildings they are so nearly connected to. If professor van Wijk is right, it really wouldn’t take too much to change all that. We’re buying cars anyway. Why not buy really useful ones? I would really recommend you read the Professor’s article on page 25. It’s full to the brim with ideas and challenges about energy - the way we procure it and the way we use it. You never know, if Zib and Zob do come knocking, it might just save us from a future dependent on the batteries in Zib and Zob’s rusty old space torch. Joe Swain Editor
In The News
Climate Group Launches ‘The Clean Revolution’ UK non-profit organisation, The Climate Group, launches its latest initiative calling for a swift, massive scale-up of clean energy, infrastructure, smart technologies and design. 2050 Magazine wholeheartedly supports their initiative and is proud to present this summary from their website: www.climategroup.com. “The Clean Revolution is a partnership of international statesmen and governments, business leaders and corporations, thinkers and opinion formers. It is coordinated by The Climate Group. It calls for a swift, massive scale-up of clean energy and infrastructure, and of smart technologies and design. We believe this is the only feasible path to a smarter, better, more prosperous future. The initiative aims to create a tipping point for change by inspiring government and business leaders. It presents them with the evidence of the economic opportunities of the Clean Revolution, and profiles how innovative leadership is already transforming policies and markets around the world. Our shared vision is of a world of clean and accessible energy, sustainable mobility, smart buildings and closed loop systems: a low carbon world with a thriving economy, quality employment, energy security, and where the quality of life of communities everywhere is enhanced.
THE CHALLENGE By 2050, there will be nine billion people sharing our planet. And in the next 20 years, the world’s middle class will grow from less than 2 billion to over 4 billion. This growth will be coupled with enormous demand for resources.
technologies will improve the efficiency and use of our natural resources; it will create jobs and it will boost economic growth.
clean energy, increase energy efficiency and cut emissions.
And we will highlight the opportunities for the To drive this change we Clean Revolution leaders need bold, transformational of tomorrow by connecting leadership. The world’s them at events and decision makers have the introducing them to key power to create the tipping projects. Even now, despite a weak point towards a Clean international economy, Revolution. But to do this, After introducing world energy consumption they must understand The Clean Revolution is soaring. the necessity and the Campaign in September opportunity of the low 2011 at Climate Week At the same time, by carbon economy. NYC, we officially launched mid–century, we also The Campaign during the need to reduce emissions The Climate Group’s Clean Rio+20 Earth Summit in by around 80% of today’s Revolution Campaign aims Brazil, in June 2012. levels to avoid the social, to do just that. environmental and The Campaign received economic impacts of THE CAMPAIGN the immediate backing of climate change. Over a period of three years leaders from the world of we will show the world’s government and business. To achieve real emissions most influential people Tony Blair, the former UK reductions we need a that the Clean Revolution Prime Minister, delivered massive change in the way is vital to raising living a passionate speech for we produce and consume standards, creating Rio delegates in which he energy, so we can provide lasting employment and warned that those who for more people - that are improving productivity. failed to seize the moment better off than ever before would be left behind in the – in a way that makes We will do this by new global economy. financial sense. showcasing successful examples of low carbon The message that these THE OPPORTUNITY transformation from the leading supporters of The A Clean Revolution will city, state, region and Campaign are sending, is accelerate progress towards business leaders around that the Clean Revolution the change we need. A the world who are already is happening. Around the massive up-scale of clean working to scale up world. Right now.
“THE CLEAN REVOLUTION IS THE CATALYST FOR A SMARTER, BETTER, MORE PROSPEROUS WORLD. FOR ALL.”
In The News
“Call Me A Converted Sceptic,” Says Former Climate Change Sceptic In Surprise U-Turn Results of the Berkeley Earth Project, which has been using new data sources and new methods of data analysis to establish whether global warming is real or not, have caused its lead author and previously renowned sceptic, Prof Richard Muller of the University of California, Berkeley, to change his mind. In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Prof Muller says that having studied and re-studied the data, he now believes that human activity is indeed causing the Earth to warm.
being calculated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Berkley Earth Project study, the results of which were released on 30th July 2012, concludes that the average temperature of the Earth has risen 1.5C (2.7F) over the last 250 years. Of which, 0.9C has occurred in the last 50 years.
“Call me a converted sceptic,” he said after his report, sponsored by organisations who generally lobby against the concept of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming, concluded that Earth temperatures are not “Three years ago I identified problems in only climbing as a result of human activity previous climate studies that, in my mind, but at a faster rate than that currently threw doubt on the very existence of global warming,” said Professor Muller. “Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.” His project set out to test the conclusions of previously published scientific studies which have almost all concluded that global warming exists. For that purpose he gathered together a team of 10 scientists, mostly physicists, including the likes of Saul Perlmutter, winner of this year’s Nobel Physics Prize. image credit: http://muller.lbl.gov Graphic credit: berkleyearth.org
Land average temperature, with 95% confidence interval Simple fit based on CO2 concentration and volcanic activity
9.5 9 8.5 8 7.5
Global Land Surface Temperature 12âˆ’Month Moving Average ( Â°C )
7 Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature
SO WHAT? While most scientists believe in the existence of man-made global warming and most scientific studies support that view, sceptics still exist. Their main argument against global warming seems to be that they believe the weather stations used to take temperature measurements are often located too close to cities and are unreliable. Some sceptics refute that there is any warming going on at all (more accurately perhaps known as â€˜global warming deniers), while some believe that it is happening, but at a far lower rate than that being calculated by the IPCC. Others believe that global warming may indeed exist but that it is part of a long-term cycle rather than a result of human activity, and therefore there is no point taking any action to try to stop it (such as reducing the emission of greenhouse gases). Professor Muller is an eminent scientist however and his u-turn will be seen as a blow to the credibility of the denial/sceptic argument relating to the existence and rate of global warming. (2050 editorial team)
In The News
‘Where There’s Muck, There’s Brass’ – Americans Throwing Billions Of Dollars Worth Of Recyclable Waste Into Landfill Sites A report compiled by US non-profit ‘You Sow’ has concluded that Americans throw away 11.4 billion dollars worth of recyclable materials every year. The waste includes materials such as steel, plastics, glass and paper. The report’s authors, whose mission statement is to promote ‘environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies’, also concluded that the only way the current system would change is through the adoption of ‘extended
producer responsibility’ (EPR). This they argue would “shift the responsibility for post-consumer waste waste from taxpayers and municipal governments to the companies that produce the packaging, creating incentives for producers to reduce the
amount of packaging they create, increasing recycling rates, providing revenue to improve recycling systems, and reducing carbon and energy use.”
“While a lot of money can be saved now by stopping this waste of useful materials, it should pay even more as time goes on.”
SO WHAT? Michael Graham Richard (Editor of the Science and Technolgy section of the Discovery Channels’s website, Treehugger.com): “We have met the enemy, and he is waste...It does sound very good when put like that, though let’s not kid ourselves: Companies make stuff, but we buy it, and the cost of this system would move from ‘taxpayers’ to ‘consumers’, so it would still be the same people bearing it. The good news would be that the incentives would be much better for effective recycling programs and reductions in packaging. “Still, a lot of money could be saved and less environmental damage would be done. This is even more true now that billions of people around the world are getting out of abject poverty and starting to use more of everything (materials & energy). That’s a very good thing from a humanitarian point of view, but this change must be done in a way that protects the ecosystems, which support all life on Earth. “So this report only looked at the U.S., but it’s no doubt much the same all around the world, with some places doing better and some places doing worse. But this is an opportunity: While a lot of money can be saved now by stopping this waste of useful materials, it should pay even more as time goes on. It’s likely that we are in the early stages of a commodities trend that will only lead to higher prices over the next decades as large parts of Asia, South-America and Africa develop economically quickly and supply of many commodities will have trouble keeping up, in good part because commodity prices were pretty low during the 1980s and 1990s and very little investment was made in exploration. “So to come back to recycling, these higher prices should provide one more incentive for not throwing out perfectly good steel or paper to the landfill. Cutting this waste doesn’t just make environmental sense, it also makes economic sense if only we can properly align incentives for optimal recycling.”
In The News
Flat-pack Wind Turbines For Urban Locations Keele University in the UK, an institution with a reputation for its desire to not only teach the principles of sustainability but implement them at the campus, has become the host for a brand new vertical axis wind turbine that the manufacturer claims will work in wind speeds as low as 2-3 meters per second.
The prototype, currently undergoing tests prior to seeking a microgeneration certificate, has been installed at the University’s Science and Business Park by pioneering renewables company, McCamley UK Ltd. McCamley is confident that the unique design of its vertical axis turbine will address many of the issues associated with its horizontal axis cousins (those big, white whooshers that crest rocky crags in the countryside). While the whooshers require a fairly steady wind speed to function properly, McCamley’s compact 1kw capacity model thrives on the sort of turbulent, variable wind flows typical of urban environments. The McCamley turbine can still operate even if the 12
wind drops as low as 2-3 metres per second, the point at which its brutish country cousins tend to stall and
require an electrical boost from the Grid to restart. The McCamley turbine, its manufacturer claims, requires no such CPR and is effectively a self-starting turbine. While the anti-wind lobby will no doubt be able to find some aspect of the turbine’s appearance to despise, the tilt of it blades perhaps or the constancy of its purring,
it still promises to become a very viable source of urban power. Particularly as it can be ‘easily assembled from ‘flat-pack’ storable parts and retrofitted onto a roof without a supporting mast’. Who knows, one day they may even be stocked at your local branch of Ikea. The turbine also works efficiently in high gusting winds thanks to its self-regulating capacity, resulting in a steady flow of power generation. A spokesman for Keele University also pointed out that the absence of down-force from sweeping blades significantly reduces noise and ground vibration and thereby any potential detrimental impact on wildlife. If all the tests go according to plan, McCamley plans to release its Mach 2, 12kw capacity version.
“Wind energy has huge potential in the UK, but the traditional wind farm models are just not effective and are certainly not suitable for urban environments. This leaves a huge gap in the market where businesses, residential blocks and other organisations could be benefiting from clean energy. We believe that this design has the potential to be the new face of wind energy and is completely scalable, from 12kW designs to larger megawatt designs.” (Dr Scott Elliott, CEO of McCamley UK Ltd.) Image credit: www.kusbp.co.uk “Sustainability is at the heart of everything the University does, so it’s a significant opportunity for the institution to assist a business on the science park in the development of this new technology. Not only will the turbine support our aim to continue reducing our environmental impact as a university, but will also provide a tool for students to engage with and learn more about the future of renewable energy.” (Jonathon Porritt, Chancellor at Keele University.) Image credit: Keele Postgraduate Association.
“Of all the forces of nature, I should think the wind contains the largest amount of motive power—that is, power to move things. Take any given space of the earth’s surface— for instance, Illinois; and all the power exerted by all the men, and beasts, and running-water, and steam, over and upon it, shall not equal the one hundredth part of what is exerted by the blowing of the wind over and upon the same space. And yet it has not, so far in the world’s history, become proportionably valuable as a motive power. It is applied extensively, and advantageously, to sail-vessels in navigation. Add to this a few windmills, and pumps, and you have about all. ... As yet, the wind is an untamed, and unharnessed force; and quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made, will be the taming, and harnessing of it.” (Abraham Lincoln 1915)
In The News
What Did The Environmentalist Say To The Porsche 911 Driver? If we are ever going to get enough of the general public engaged with the whole business of climate change, renewable energy, sustainability, the future of the human race as we know it, that sort of thing, it seems we may have to change the way we talk to them. So says Cultural Dynamics expert Chris Rose, who along with brand research company KSBR, has developed a theory to help us understand where our peers are coming from and, a tad sneakily perhaps, use this knowledge in determining how best to get them more involved in environmental issues.
who need safety, security and belonging and to whom tradition and family structure are important. They prefer things to be “normal” and are very wary of crime, violence and terrorism. They are comfortable with regular and routine situations and generally concerned about what the future holds.’
They argue that people essentially split into 3 main groups: The Settlers. ‘People
The Prospectors. ‘People in this group need the esteem of others. They are success-oriented and always
want to “be the best” and make things bigger and better. They like to show their abilities and take pleasure from recognition and reward, they are trend and fashion conscious and like new things and new ways of being successful.’ The Pioneers. They are more interested in ideas than things, are attracted to ‘issues’ and are interested in the big picture. They like to make ethical choices and tend to be the people who
dominate most campaigns about the environment and world poverty. The Pioneers are self-assured with a sense of agency. They have a strong internal sense of right and wrong and desire fairness, justice and equality.’
instead on how a switch to electric cars would play out in terms of energy security and a huge reduction in their country’s reliance on foreign fuel imports. This, says Rose, is what floats the Settler’s boats.
It would seem that So, armed with this most of our current knowledge, how should we environmentalists come (the media) best appeal to from the third of those each group. Now that the groups, the Pioneers. So it clock is ticking ‘n all. falls to them, if they are to persuade members of For example, if you’re trying the other two groups to to persuade a Prospector to become more involved in consider buying an electric sustainability (including car, they’re probably going sustainable wealth creation to glaze over if you wobble and sustainable energy on too much about its supplies) to vary their zero emissions or its low strategies. running costs. All very true, but not the thing In the UK for example, that’s going to tickle their 39% of people are Pioneers, fancy. It’s far better, says while the other 2 groups Rose, to engage them in contain about 30% of the conversation about the pure population each. Pioneers, sexiness of the batterytalking Pioneer language powered Testler Roadster to other Pioneers, probably with its sub 4 second 0 to isn’t going to change those 60 mph pulling power and numbers much. Preaching how it is quite simply one to the converted even. But of the quickest roads cars knowing how to appeal to ever made. other people’s core values and how to press their In advocating the same to buttons when it matters, Settlers, forget all that talk might just reap the rewards about how taking personal we need to really get things action will help prevent going. the next generation of people from places like the Maldives, Bangladesh and Holland being forced to start swimming to school every day. Concentrate
EXPERT OPINION: “Having spent 30 years as a campaigner and among other things seeking to change behavior, I am very clear as to where I think we are most likely to get positive change, and it is in this type of approach, whereby campaigns are designed to work with the grain of the fundamental psychological needs that people have, rather than trying to persuade people who are not environmentalists to adopt the values that would cause them to become so.” (Tony Juniper, a contributor to The Independent UK, a Special Adviser to the Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit and a Senior Associate with the Cambridge University Programme for Sustainability Leadership.)
In The News
New biofuel process dramatically improves energy recovery A new biofuel production process created by Michigan State University researchers produces 20 times more energy than existing methods. The results, published in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology, showcase a novel way to use microbes to produce biofuel and hydrogen, all while consuming agricultural wastes. MSU microbiologist, Gemma Reguera has developed bioelectrochemical systems known as microbial electrolysis cells, or MECs, using bacteria to breakdown and ferment agricultural waste into ethanol. Reguera’s platform is unique because it employs a second bacterium, which, when added to the mix, removes all the waste fermentation byproducts or nonethanol materials while generating electricity. Similar microbial fuel cells have been investigated before. However, maximum energy recoveries from corn stover, a common feedstock for biofuels, hover around 3.5 percent. Reguera’s platform, despite the energy invested in chemical pretreatment of the corn stover, averaged 16
35 to 40 percent energy recovery just from the fermentation process, said Reguera, an AgBioResearch scientist who co-authored the paper with Allison Spears, MSU graduate student. “This is because the fermentative bacterium was carefully selected to degrade and ferment agricultural wastes into ethanol efficiently and to produce byproducts that could be metabolized by the electricity-producing bacterium,” Reguera said. “By removing the waste products of fermentation, the growth and metabolism of the fermentative bacterium also was stimulated. Basically, each step we take is customdesigned to be optimal.” The second bacterium, Geobacter sulfurreducens, generates electricity. The electricity, however, isn’t harvested as an output. It is used to generate hydrogen in the MEC to increase the energy recovery process even more, Reguera said. “When the MEC generates hydrogen, it actually
doubles the energy recoveries,” she said. “We increased energy recovery to 73 percent. So the potential is definitely there to make this platform attractive for processing agricultural wastes.”
Regueraâ€™s goal is to develop decentralized systems that can help process agricultural wastes. Decentralized systems could be customized at small to medium scales (scales such as compost bins and small silages, for example) to provide an attractive method to recycle the wastes while generating fuel for farms.
SO WHAT? â€œThis technology has the potential to develop waste to energy projects at farms at a much more economic level than current project types. Typically, these use methane as an output which is then used to drive a small electricity generating engine, or are expensive fermentation processes. The described
conversion process has the potential to be cheaper and more elegant. I always like elegant solutions.â€? (Jan Willem Bode, Planet B Ventures)
In The News
Zinc-Air Battery Prices Starting To Fall - $11,000 Electric Vehicle Batteries Imminent According to a recent consumer survey, the two most significant factors holding back sales of electric cars are cost and range. Both of which might be alleviated to a large degree by recent developments in zinc-air battery technology. American firm Eos Energy has released details of a new type of battery, which they believe will be a gamechanger for both domestic/ industrial power storage and for electric vehicles. Eos believes it can bring a $160 kWh zinc-air battery to market as soon as 2013. This could translate into a $12,000, 340-mile range electric vehicle battery, which, due to its unique design, has managed an impressive 2,000 recharge cycles in testing without any signs of degradation. The batteries could feasibly be ‘refilled’ in much the same way as we refill petrol
and diesel vehicles right now. This would obviously drastically reduce ‘charging’ time and its lower priced zinc components would mean a 70 kWh battery could cost just over $11,000.
have plans to develop the EV battery concurrently.
If everything goes according to plan there is no reason why this technology shouldn’t bring about truly cost comparable electric Great news for EV vehicles with a ‘recharging’ manufacturers and fanciers, time of just a few minutes, the latter of whom are often a range of up to 340 miles put off by the relatively high and a very long battery life cost of current equivalents. expectancy. Tesla Motors for example have to pass on a $30,000 EXPERT OPINION: additional cost when buyers want to upgrade from a 40 Jon Vandervelde of kWh battery to an 85 kWh greencarreports.com: version. “Zinc-air batteries need Eos currently envisage their only Zinc, air and water to new batteries being used in produce electricity via a grid storage situations such simple oxidation reaction. as solar power systems but The existing technology is quite mature; in hearingaids for instance, Zinc-air batteries currently control a large share of the market. They are cheap to produce, high energy-density, and actually biodegradable. Moreover, Zinc is among the most abundant and inexpensive metals on earth and therefore Zinc-air batteries are not susceptible to materials shortages or production bottlenecks.”
UK Sales Of Sustainable Fish Leap 200% As Media-Led People Power Prevails A year-long media campaign in the UK to persuade supermarket shoppers to switch to more sustainable sources of fish has revealed some very impressive results. Major supermarket chains like Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have been backing an initiative started by Guardian journalist Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall called The Fish Fight Campaign.
have been enjoying their newly-found popularity: sea bass (+57%); tilapia (+117%); pouting (+273%); dab (+120%); gurnard (+100%). To name but a few
barriers remaining to an even greater take up in the future, is the lack of recipe knowledge. Everyone it seems knows how to put some batter on a piece of cod, but struggle when it comes to knocking up the sort of sauces deserving of the exotic newcomers.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has lent his support to the The campaign aims to show campaign, himself having consumers the wide variety been a long-time advocate of of excellent fish available the effect people power can Still, chances are there’ll to them as alternatives have on fishing practices. be a some handy fish to traditional favourites sauce cookery books on like cod and tuna, whose “Why not try one of these supermarket shelves before numbers have been suffering little chaps, they’re loverly you can say ‘Jack Spratt, from over-fishing. jubberly,” he probably said at where’s my hat’, if that’s Many lesser-known varieties, some point. your thing. The tuna and cod most from more plentiful families will no doubt enjoy stocks and many from A spokesman for Sainsbury’s the breather though. Let’s wholly sustainable sources, added that one of the main just hope it’s a long one.
In The News
US Geo-Engineers To Test Effects Of Spraying SolarReflective Chemicals From High Altitude Balloons Engineers from Harvard University are planning to conduct tests to measure the effects and consequences of spraying solar-reflecting sulphates into the upper atmosphere from a balloon flying 24,000 metres above New Mexico. The geo-engineering experiment’s ultimate aim is to replicate the ‘volcano effect’ whereby sulphates are ‘naturally’ sprayed into the upper atmosphere during an eruption, thereby bouncing sunlight back into space and helping to reduce the Earth’s surface temperature. While some scientists argue that geo-engineering projects such as these could eventually prove to be relatively inexpensive ways of addressing the problem of global warming, others are concerned that the advantages will be
outweighed by negative effects on weather systems and food supplies, while also undermining ‘on the ground’ efforts to reduce carbon emissions at source. The latter view is thought to be the reason for the abandonment of a similar experiment in the UK last year (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering, or SPICE for short) although to be fair that project would have involved spraying cloud-inducing water droplets into the air rather than chemicals. (http://
www.2050publications.com/ fixing-the-climate-problemfrom-the-outside-in) The New Mexico project, which is expected to take place within the year, will be led by climate investigators David Keith and James Anderson. Funding is thought to be coming from a geo-engineering research fund set up my Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
SO WHAT? “The first problem with solar-reflecting geo-engineering ideas like these, is that they always end up sounding like the plot of a James Bond Film. The bit where the cat-stroking evil genius casts a shadow over the entire planet with his giant rocket-powered space umbrella, and then threatens to leave it on (or turn it off?) unless the governments of the world post their entire gold reserves to his secret holiday volcano in the South Pacific. “The second problem is that it risks creating an attitude of complacency. A license to carry on pumping out carbon as usual, safe in the knowledge that when the planet starts getting too hot, all we’ll have to do is put the shutters up for a while. Which, if humanity’s track record is anything to go by, means we’ll end up living with the shutters up most of the time.” (2050 editorial team) “Since it is impossible to simulate the complexity of the stratosphere in a laboratory, the experiment will provide an opportunity to improve models of how the ozone layer could be altered by much larger-scale sulphate spraying. The objective is not to alter the climate, but simply to probe the processes at a micro scale. The direct risk is very small.” (David Keith, Project Leader) “Impacts include the potential for further damage to the ozone layer, and disruption of rainfall, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions – potentially threatening the food supplies of billions of people. It will do nothing to decrease levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or halt ocean acidification. And solar geo-engineering is likely to increase the risk of climate-related international conflict – given that the modelling to date shows it poses greater risks to the global south.” (Pat Mooney, executive director of the Canadianbased technology watchdog ETC Group)
A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SU
Prof. dr. Ad J.M. van Wijk’s inaugural speech delivered on the 7th of December 2011 Systems at the Faculty of Applied Sciences of the Delft University of Technology. (Pa
In this month’s issue of 2050, Prof. dr. Ad J.M. van Wijk outlines his plans for a Green differently, about our energy supplies.
UPPLY FOR EVERYONE
at the occasion of his acceptance of the position of Professor Future Energy art 2.)
n Campus, to demonstrate the benefits of learning to look differently, and think
The professorâ€™s university campus in Delft is now a living, breathing energy project.
Green Campus I started here at TU Delft on January 1st, 2011. The idea was to use this other way of thinking, with a system perspective, to look into ways of designing future sustainable energy systems, to decide which technology we need to develop and how in turn it should be implemented.
More than 700 scientists are working on energyrelated research projects, many of them focusing on the technological side of energy conversion, or storage technology. But the development of new energy systems from the perspective of the energy service has been somewhat neglected. Who here is exploring the energy efficiency of producing steel or boiling an egg?
A lot of fantastic research into the field of energy is With my background in already being carried out here at the Delft University business, I could not help but notice that the level of Technology (TU Delft).
of collaboration with external companies was somewhat disappointing. Obviously, a lot of research here at TU Delft is conducted in partnership with companies, but many of these are major corporations, which already have their own research departments. Much could be gained from collaborating with small and medium-sized businesses. One of the obstacles to forging good relations and partnerships with companies is the
“A sustainable or green campus is not just a place where the energy supply is renewably produced.”
physical environment, the TU Delft Campus. But where might you take your guests for a representative meeting, a lunch or dinner? Not here in the Aula Congress Center or the Aula canteen, is it? Where can guests spend a night here on the campus, and where can you organize a good conference, meeting or event? The TU Delft campus is hardly the place for stimulating interaction with the business sector.
environment where people like to come, and in which collaboration between the university and businesses will grow and flourish (www.the-green-campus. com).
Vision ‘’Creating a sustainable, lively and entrepreneurial campus, where we discover, learn and show how to solve society’s urgent challenges.”
A sustainable or green And although a lot of campus is not just a place the research carried out where the energy supply on the TU Delft campus is renewably produced. is about sustainability A green campus is more and renewable energy, than that; we don’t want we must conclude that any more waste or at the very little is actually very least, should recycle happening. These are not this waste, we want clean the inspiring conditions water, clean air, smart in which we can educate DC grids, clean lighting, our students to become electric transport, cradlecreative, entrepreneurial to-cradle products and people, ready to roll up green buildings. In short, a their sleeves and find campus that is sustainable solutions to the challenges on many fronts. This is of the future. why we have defined 12 dynamic missions for This gave me the idea the green campus. Not of not only designing, missions to be realized by analysing and researching a certain point in time, but sustainable energy missions that evolve and systems for the future, but develop as time goes by. also realising them. And in such a way that allows Missions: us to demonstrate a range of sustainable innovative 1. Sustainable energy products, technologies producer and systems. That enables 2. Green buildings us to create an inspiring 3. Electric transport
Energy 4. Clean lighting systems 5. Energy efficient 6. Energy/materials from waste 7. Smart heat grids 8. Smart DC electricity grids 9. No Waste 10. Clean water producer 11. Sustainable products 12. Clean air producer But the green campus must not only be realised, it must be operated and exploited in a feasible cost effective and profitable way. The green campus must be doubly sustainable, both economically and ecologically, which is why
the first step towards designing the green campus is to take a long, hard look at ways of generating income on the projects and activities. First of all, we need a good business plan. The most important aspect is looking at the green campus as one integrated entity and working out how we can make it profitable. This is known as a dynamic portfolio strategy. You spend 80% of your time and money on products, technologies or activities that are definitely profitable, 18% of your time and money on
matters that may or may not be profitable, and 2% on real innovations that are not yet profitable. But if the overall operation is affordable and profitable, it will still allow us to realize new, innovative products, technologies or systems. ďżźďżź
The Green Campus location
What do we want to do? We want our campus to be situated on and around the Kruithuisweg in Delft. Arriving on the A13 motorway, the iconic Harp will mark the entrance to
“The Harp is a modern wind turbine and solar energy installation.”
the campus. We will build an energy wall along the Kruithuisweg right up to Delft Zuid train station. And along this energy wall, we will realise a green hotel, floating green restaurants, conference facilities, green sports facilities and a green car park, all set in watery, green surroundings, which we will also create. ￼￼
￼￼￼ The Harp is a modern wind turbine and solar energy installation. The net between the legs of the wind turbine contains solar cells, which can be directed at the sun via the net cables. (The product was developed by two TU Delft students who as a result have now started up a small business.)
a large square, lined by shops, the green campus store, exhibition rooms, restaurants and cafés, and a disco with a dance floor that generates energy. The undersurface of the solar cell net will be fitted with LED lighting, and form a huge cinema screen. And of course there will also be LED lighting on the outside of the Harp, allowing you to show advertisements. This is a way to generate income and allow a project like this to operate costeffectively and profitably.
The Energy Wall
￼￼￼ We intend to build a kilometer-long energy wall along Kruithuisweg, between the A13 and Delft Zuid train station. The energy wall will be fitted But the Harp is also a with solar cells and small building, which will wind turbines, which can house meeting rooms, generate electricity. The a visitors’ center, a café Kruithuisweg is a prime and a cockpit. The cockpit location as it runs from will provide an overview east to west and enables of the green campus; the us to position solar energy consumption and panels pointing south. production, the air quality, Electrostatic wires will be the activities taking place, built into the wall, so that the performance of various we can trap and filter out installations, et cetera. But the fine dust in the air. you will also be able to pilot an unmanned electric This technology was helicopter with a camera developed here at the and fly around the Harp. university. Obviously, the wall will also reduce At the foot of the Harp is
Energy the noise level. It will be fitted with LED lighting to light up the road, but also to show you all kinds of information. And finally, the wall will include a personal rapid transit system, also designed here at TU Delft, above a covered bike path, thereby allowing people to quickly move around the green campus. The energy wall is a spacesaving, multifunctional
structure, which enables you to combine a number of functions (including mobility) in an urban area. It even means that buildings can be built closer to the wall, as both the noise and the fine dust have been reduced. ďżźďżź
LED lighting applications
One of the technologies we intend to implement at various locations
throughout the green campus is LED lighting. But LED lighting is more than just another energyefficient type of lamp. LED lighting is set to start a revolution in the way we use lighting. The lifespan of a LED lamp is much longer than that of an oldfashioned light bulb; 40 times longer. LEDs are also much smaller, produce far less heat and are easy to regulate and control at a distance. So LED lighting
“LED lighting is suitable for more functions than simply lighting; you can use it for signposting or creating an atmosphere, you can fit it with sensors and even use it as a monitor or cinema.”
is suitable for more functions than simply lighting; you can use it for signposting or creating an atmosphere, you can fit it with sensors and even use it as a monitor or cinema. In addition, LEDs can be integrated into products, clothing, furniture, walls, windows, pavements and roads. This does not only generate savings by dispensing with the need for light fittings, it also saves energy. A lot of energy is currently wasted because we have a light source high above our head, while we actually need the light at eye level. The distance between the light source and our eyes represents a huge waste of energy. Integrating LED into products will generate substantial savings, simply by shortening this distance. ￼￼
The Mobility Centre Next to the green hotel, there will be a car park annex mobility center. The aim of the mobility center is to allow people to change onto all kinds of electric transport. You can leave your electric car and get onto the people mover on the energy wall,
which will transport you to Delft Zuid train station. Or take an (electric) bike or the Segway to reach your place of work. The hotel will also provide various forms of transport to get into town or the local area, including an electric taxi to take you to the airport. So the car park will actually be a new type of station with all the facilities you would expect to find in a station. Electric mobility is the way forward. Not just electric bikes and scooters, but also electric cars. The electricity needed will initially be provided by a battery built into our car, which will need regular charging. This is a fairly simple procedure if the car is parked, i.e. in the car park. We will fit regular electric charging points throughout the car park. In addition also quick charging stations and induction charging stations will be present. This allows us to charge our car batteries and even use them as a storage system which will supply us with electricity at other times. ￼￼
￼ We will generate renewable energy at various locations on the green campus from the
Energy sun, wind and movement. Sometimes on a micro scale, like with the piezoelectric elements using movement from the revolving doors, fitness equipment or the dance floor. On a small scale via solar cells and small wind turbines, and on a larger scale via the large wind turbines. The electricity will be used in numerous devices, for LED lighting and for charging the batteries of our electric transport. Between these two stages, there will be a
grid system, an electricity infrastructure. But thereâ€™s a problem. All electricity produced is direct current (DC); all our equipment, LEDs and batteries work on direct current (DC). But the present grid is alternating current (AC). The AC electricity infrastructure is actually a historical development. 150 years ago, there was a battle between a Mr. Tesla (AC) and a Mr. Edison (DC). Tesla eventually won because he had
the backing of a major company, Westinghouse. But an AC grid is not the best option for the future. If we construct an AC grid, we will have to convert the electricity we generate in our solar cell system from DC to AC. Then when we want to store it in our car battery, we will have to convert it back from AC to DC. If we then want to use some of the electricity in the battery for something else, it will have to be converted again from DC to AC. And then for the
“Fuel cells would actually give us a very efficient electricity power station in our car. When parked, which is approximately 93% of the time, we would be able to use them to generate electricity.”
LED lighting, it will be converted yet again from AC to DC.
A lot of hard work and research is going into fuel cells. By means of a chemical process, This example comprises 4 fuel cells can convert conversion steps, resulting fuel into electricity at in an energy loss of a higher efficiency, of around 10-20%. But that approximately 50%. This is not all; we will also is higher than the average need expensive inverters efficiency of our current to realize all these electricity-generating conversions. These are park, which is roughly costs that we can avoid. 40%. In a DC environment, we will obviously need So fuel cells would to vary the voltage on actually give us a very occasion, but we can do efficient electricity this by using simple and power station in our car. inexpensive step-up and When parked, which step-down transformers. is approximately 93% And DC has more benefits: of the time, we would no reactive power, no be able to use them to higher harmonics, et generate electricity. The cetera. For sure we are car is normally idle in going to explore how we the car park. So if we can realize a smart DC were to connect not only electricity grid on the an electric cable to the green campus. car, but also a fuel pipe, ￼￼ we would be able to use Our car as an the fuel cell in the car electric cash to generate electricity. cow In addition to electricity, ￼￼￼￼￼￼ we also produce a ‘waste’ Finally, what will the product, namely clean future of electric cars water: just under half a bring us? There are liter of clean water per currently two major kWh. bottlenecks regarding electric driving on So let’s make a batteries alone: the range calculation. An average and the long charging engine has a capacity of time. This is why we are around 80 kW. If there seeing so many hybrid are 500 cars in the car electric cars, which also park, we will have an have an engine that electricity power station produces electricity from of 40 MW, 10 times as fuel, albeit inefficiently. powerful as the new
Energy cogenerating (CHP) power station currently being built here at the university. A power station of this size could easily generate all the electricity TU Delft needs. And we would be producing barrels of clean water as a by-product.
electricity power station of the future would give us a huge power station. Every year, the Dutch buy 500,000 new cars. In total, this would result in an electricity production park generating 40,000 MW per year, twice as much as the electricity This would give us a highly production capacity of the efficient, flexible, easy to current Dutch set-up. In regulate electricity power fact, we would be creating station. A power station a tremendous surplus of like this is also easy to local, small-scale, flexible combine with electricity production capacity. from renewable and Would this make our fluctuating sources, such present electricity power as solar and wind. And do stations redundant? And you know what the best how would this affect our part is? Parking would infrastructure? not cost a penny; in fact it would generate income. In the future, how would Could this be our very own our electricity supply electric cash cow? be organized and look like? We generate local Using our cars as an electricity using the sun,
wind and movement. We produce biogas from our organic waste and biomass. And our cars give us local, highly flexible and small-scale power capacity. Together, we will be producing our own electricity and will own a huge capacity of flexible, efficient electricity power stations. Car manufacturers will produce and supply these electricity power stations. Telecom companies make sure that everything is properly organized, coordinated and paid for. What would be left for the electricity companies to do? Could this view of the future become a reality? In terms of the technology,
“Using our cars as an electricity power station of the future would give us a huge power station. Every year, the Dutch buy 500,000 new cars. In total, this would result in an electricity production park generating 40,000 MW per year, twice as much as the electricity production capacity of the current Dutch set-up.”
there is still a lot to do; better fuel cells with a longer lifespan, proper and efficient production of hydrogen, safe hydrogen storage facilities and infrastructure, et cetera. But we will also need an awful lot more innovation and research, a reorganization of energy supplies, new business models, new legislation, and new control and management systems. And then there are the safety aspects, the environmental and social implications. In short, we still have a long way to go. Here in Delft, we want to take the first step by building a car park that functions as an electricity power station. ￼￼
A dream for all to share
We are going to develop this green campus together with our scientists, commercial partners and students. It will be a living lab, an inspirational place
where businesses and university interact, and a place where everyone can get an idea of the energy systems of the future. I see this as the next, important step in realising my dream; a sustainable energy supply for everyone. A dream that I hope to see fulfilled during my lifetime. One in which I have been inspired by my parents, Wim and Anny, who brought me up on a small farm and let me experience the enormous power and infinity of nature. A dream that I can, and only want to, realise together with my wife Sonja. A dream in which many people have inspired me and which I am happy to share with others. A dream for all of us; one that we not only want to fulfill, but which we must fulfill, for our children, our children’s children and all the generations that follow and are lucky enough to spend their lives on this wonderful planet.
BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS TO SOLAR Sungevity is a US-based solar design and installation provider formed in 2008. Despite (or possibly because of) the dramatic fall in solar component prices during that time, it has thrived by focusing on making its customers’ experiences not only hassle-free, but positively enjoyable.
The following article is based on an extract from ‘Rooftop Revolution, How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy – and Our Planet – from Dirty Energy’, written by Sungevity’s founder Danny Kennedy.
When Sungevity was formed in 2008, the first thing we did was create a plan to break down what we saw as the three remaining barriers to the mass adoption of solar: cost, hassle, and mistrust.
What we’ve been doing to add to that overall downward trend, is increasing the efficiency of the design and installation process, and facilitating the concept of third-party financing to help customers jump that all-important ‘initial cost’ barrier.
on their home at no cost, and then charging them on a monthly basis for the electricity they receive from the system.
When their solar panels produce more electricity than they can use, that Cost electricity goes back into the In recent years grid to be used elsewhere, we’ve certainly seen Indeed, solar leasing has earning them a credit commoditization pushing probably been the real against electricity they may down the cost of solar game-changer in our use later, such as at night. hardware components (when industry and we’re still In itself this has proven to we started 4 years ago we looking at ever more creative be a substantial moneywere paying $4 per watt to financial mechanisms. saving proposition for most suppliers; now it’s closer to customers in the states we $1 per watt) but this hasn’t Solar leasing works by serve. been the only factor in play. allowing customers to have a solar system installed The comprehensive financial 34
structure underpinning this deal is the most important innovation in the residential solar industry in the past decade. In short, an investor seeking tax credits and depreciation values can monetize these by paying for the system to be installed. This covers most of the cost to install, and the remainder is paid off through lease payments over the life of the system. This model has been so successful that it has gone from no market share
just four years ago to facilitating the majority of the residential solar installations in the United States today. By the end of 2011, third-party-financed systems were 60 percent of the home solar market. When you think about it, it makes sense that a solar-power system should be financed in the same way as all other energy systems. After all, when you purchase power from a traditional utility, part of your monthly payment
is used to offset the capital and finance costs recent the energyofAbuilding power efficient retrofit the plant that generatesofthe Empire State Building electricity. So it is now with in New York has solar. significantly reduced first year energy costs Hassle and is well on track Many an for acustomers completehave payback within four years. expectation of hassle when they first consider the idea of a solar option for their homes. To address this, Sungevity came up with a unique precontract pricing mechanism called ‘iQuote’, a different
“Solar leasing works by allowing customers to have a solar system installed on their home at no cost, and then charging them on a monthly basis for the electricity they receive from the system.”
Industry Voices kind of game changer but one which also makes the transition to a cost-saving solar system so much easier. With it we can effectively calculate the electricityproducing potential of the home wherever sufficient aerial or satellite photographs exist, which is now much of the world. As solar panels become more widely accepted and their production increases, they’ll be integrated into buildings’ facades - the windows as well as the roof. With our software tool, we can determine what a building’s output would be if it were covered with solar panels, which is an important step in marketing and financing that solar-system installation. We look forward to a bright future because our market will grow from thousands of units to millions of units in a few short years using this tool. And there are many more tools in the toolkit that our New Greatest Generation
can build to ensure the Solar Ascent. This is where many hot jobs will originate from in the years to come. Software solutions to help solar scale will have a big business impact with a lot less resource requirement than some parts of the advanced-energy economy we’ve discussed. Trust At Sungevity we’re also focusing on some of the tools needed to break down the barrier of mistrust. Most specifically perhaps, tools that are able to incorporate the directness and transparency of social networking and what we refer to as ‘peer pride’. For example, we have a social iQuote, which helps feed the viral nature of the solar experience so that it can spread through neighborhoods quickly. Shortly after starting Sungevity, we realized the power of word of mouth in spreading the benefits of solar, and now with our
social Sunshine Network software, we’re trying to feed it. We’re building web products such as an online referral center to help our Rooftop Revolution customers get others to sign on to the Solar Ascent. We’ve made it a bit like a game, and you get financial as well as social rewards for persuading your friends to go solar and spreading news of the savings and the sunshine of the Sungevity solar lease. I don’t want to dwell too long on our model lest I bore you, but most of our business comes from this sort of online word of mouth. And with thirdparty partners like the home improvement giant Lowe’s and the environmental group The Sierra Club recommending us to people who know and trust them, we’re trying to make solar something that everyone not only feels confident in but also believes is cool to have.
“As solar panels become more widely accepted and their production increases, they’ll be integrated into buildings’ facades - the windows as well as the roof.”
The Sungevity Story (so far): Of course it all sounds so easy when I say it now, but creating an entirely new process for selling solar and harnessing the value of leasing for our customers didn’t just fall into place without some problems along the way, and even today managing the cash flow, and the operational processes of our phenomenal growth and keeping our customers satisfied, are all still challenges. We actually launched our business at the start of 2008, at the beginning of the Great Recession. I laugh now thinking about it how insane we were to do something entirely new and different just as the world’s financial system started to fall apart. However, I think that in
some ways beginning a business at the time of the Great Recession made our company stronger, and surviving as we have until now suggests that our model works and will really succeed as the economy recovers. Our CEO Andrew Birch pushes us to keep dreaming big, and we broke down the conventional solar sales cycle into 16 steps—quoting, selling, permitting, installing, inspecting, interconnecting, and so on - which we sought to standardize and digitize in our business platform. With the couple of million dollars we raised from investors, we set out to hire the software developers required to build our dream business. We put a request for proposals
on Internet job boards for software engineers and dot-com survivors around the world. We received bids from everywhere—from Bulgaria to Bangalore to the Bay Area- but the best bid actually came from a company called Extro down the road from where I used to work in Sydney. There were a couple of tough choices at the end of a $0.5 million tender process between Extro and another developer, but Andrew Birch’s wife, Lulu - who was living with all of this day in and day out - made the final call. She was right! In a few short months, this twenty-something, Adam Pryor, and his team of a half dozen code writers made history. They created the tool for remote solar
design, which allows us to calculate the electricitygenerating potential of any building, and integrate it into a complete customer relationship management database for all of the stages of the solar sale.
we showed some of the algorithms and code to a Microsoft worker who wanted to understand how we were using the aerial image feeds his company had licensed to us to build a three-dimensional model of a home. Once he got the The avoided truck rolls alone complex math and clever save a lot of carbon pollution design of the software, he as we sell millions of whistled and said that out of systems, but more important Microsoft’s 300 developers is how this platform makes working with these photo going solar so easy. datasets, none of them had been able to do what we’d Extro blew our minds by done. being on time and under budget; and with the product We have now refined that they created, we launched tool and built it out in many Sungevity in 2008. ways, and the reason for this story is not to brag about We then went on to win our intellectual property but numerous awards for our rather to show what some software ingenuity, including creative thinking and great the Public Broadcasting talent can do to advance the Service Innovator of the Solar Ascent. Year award for moving the planet forward in 2011, in a We have broken the mold for field that included Serious how solar is sold, making it Materials and other great much less likely that you’ll companies. have a guy come knocking on your door to take But perhaps the greatest measurements and draw up accolade came when plans. This has significant
cost-saving implications for the entire industry, and it just makes for a better customer experience. This model is now also proven to be successful in the Netherlands, where Zonline (“Zon” = “sun” and “online” = in three mouseclicks solar on your roof). Zonline has introduced Remote Solar Design and our relentless focus on customer experience in the Netherlands. Within 2 months of going live in early April this year, Zonline received over 3,000 requests for iQuotes and over 150 systems are currently (being) installed: a very short period to prove that the Sungevity approach has universal appeal.
We have a million solar roofs alive today. Houses that have put in solar systems and power their lives with sunshine. That means cold beers, warm showers, fridges, TV, entertainment, all that good stuff powered by the sun. But the question I ask is, why are there not more people doing this? (Sungevity CEO Andrew Birch)
TWO WHEELS GOOD As they perhaps would have said when electric bikes were first invented back in the late 19th century, “They’re all the rage in Paris darling, oh please let’s get one. But (putting top hat and cane on chaise longue) which one darling, which one?” 2050 editor Joe Swain decides to stop banging on about how good electric bikes are and how they have the potential to take millions of cars off our roads, and actually get one. But first, as is the way these days, the research phase.
When the forerunner to the modern bicycle, the ‘velocipede’, was first invented by Scotsman Kirkpatrick MacMillan in 1839, nobody really took it that seriously. Indeed, polite society sniggered at the sight from behind their top hats and parasols and dismissed it as a passing phase. A phase that its small band of enthusiast riders would surely tire of, particularly when they ventured from the parks to the roads. Rough, stone-cobbled roads being the norm in the days
of the horse-drawn carriage.
factories all over the world.
But, necessity being the mother of invention, another Scotsman, by the name of John Boyd Dunlop, rose to the challenge like an Ayrshire salmon and invented the first pneumatic tyre. Which, to use the modern parlance of technological invention, turned out to be something of a game-changer.
Since then, the only real challenge to their popularity has been the introduction of the safety helmet. That strange, grooved plastic semi-circle that makes you feel as if you’re wearing half a grapefruit on your head? A half grapefruit which in turn always looks as if it would really rather be doing something else with its life, something far more important than just protecting your head.
By the early 1900s, bicycles had become so popular, both as a means of transport and as a pastime, they were being mass-produced in
Not enough of a disincentive though to stop the world’s
electric transport population of bikes rising to more than a billion.
U.S. Patent 552,271 for a battery-powered bicycle with “6-pole brush-andA billion bikes, which, commutator direct current despite minor variations in (DC) hub motor mounted in design and materials, haven’t the rear wheel.”) But then really changed that much again anyone can have a since MacMillan’s original. bright idea, it’s putting it With the exception of course, into practice that makes of the new kid on the block, the difference. A phase in the electric bike. Similar its development that would to look at, but in terms of wait the best part of another function and performance, so century before kicking in. very different. Indeed it was an 1897 Having said that, you might patent for a ‘double electric be surprised to learn that motor’ bicycle filed by the first designs for an one Hosey W. Libbey of electric bike are almost as Boston that the modern old as MacMillan’s (on 31 manufacturer, Giant Lafree December 1895, Ogden Electric Bicycles, used as the Bolton Jr. was granted basis of its own re-designs in
the late 1990s. The big gap between the conception of the idea behind electric bicycles and their production, can almost certainly be attributed to the development in the meantime of the internal combustion engine. More specifically perhaps, the small motorbike. That apart though, electric bikes are definitely going through something of a renaissance right now. So much so that I recently decided to join their ranks. Motivated I like to think by the prospect of being able to leave my car at home,
EVERYTHING (USEFUL) I NOW KNOW ABOUT ELECTRIC BIKES: Electric bikes are more expensive than most people realize. It is not (apparently) a case of just adding the cost of a toaster to the cost of a pushbike. The main thing that makes an electric bike expensive is the battery. There are 2 types of batteries for electric bikes, lead and lithium. On the plus side lead batteries are half the price of lithiums, but on the downside they are heavier, have less range, and are (potentially) ‘dirtier’ to dispose of. Most cheap purpose-built electric bikes look as if they’ve been designed by an octogenarian grandmother. Most good-looking purpose-built electric bikes cost a fortune. There is currently very little in between. A viable alternative to the purpose built e-bike is to electrify your existing bike or a new bike of your choice using a ‘conversion kit’. Your choice of battery size (particularly if you opt for a lead battery) should take into account the average length of your journey. There’s no point carrying heavy and expensive battery power around with you if you’re never likely to use it. Electric bikes are not, strictly speaking, emissions-free. Unless you live in Denmark or Iceland, it’s likely that the mains power you use to recharge your electric bike battery is coming from a fossil-fuel burning power station. However, if you’re using an electric bike instead of a car, you are significantly reducing your emissions.
electric transport drag the kids to school in some sort of eco-trailer made of recycled pigeons, and generally walk the talk in terms of my carbon footprint. Like most people on the other side of that decision, I reached straight for my computer and began what I naively thought would be a quick search on Google followed by a plastic exchange of money and a lifetime full of exhilarating trips to the country. That I am still sitting here today, some 8 weeks later, without an electric bike to my name, is testament perhaps to the surprising complexity of the choices available. The first thing I discovered, rather shockingly it has to be said, was that they’re a little bit more expensive than I had imagined. I suppose I was expecting
them to cost the same as a bulk standard new bike (150 euros?) plus, say, a hedge trimmer. Or a food processor. 50 or 60 euros more at most. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that the majority of electric bikes on the market today cost something between 500 and 1,000 euros. That’s one heck of a hedge trimmer.
frames. Definitely the work of Mrs Breadpudding. A design which has probably done about as much good for the image of electric bikes as the Sinclair C5 (bless it) did for electric cars. Was I really sure I wanted to look like Mrs Breadpudding’s grandson?
It got me to thinking about The second important thing why I wanted an electric I discovered, is that most bike in the first place. Other purpose-made electric than as a cure for my bikes are being designed by inherent laziness. Indeed, my old secondary school electric bikes apart for a Domestic Science teacher, moment, what motivates Mrs Breadpudding, now anyone to ride a bike these well into her 80s. Or so days? it would seem. Things may have improved a lot There are obviously those in terms of styling in the who dream of becoming last few years, but the first Olympic champions in wave of modern electric the velodrome like Chris bikes to hit our streets in Boardman (the man I the 1990s and early 2000s blame for the silly hats); the were essentially elongated mad urbanites who like to Raleigh Shopper 20s with combine commuting with biscuit tins welded to their fitness; the environmentally
“The second important thing I discovered, is that most purposemade electric bikes are being designed by my old secondary school Domestic Science teacher, Mrs Breadpudding, now well into her 80s.” 44
electric transport conscious fathers who try to give their cars a rest at weekends in favour of terrorising their kids with ‘cycling trips to the country’; and those who simply like to explore? I have occupied a few of those categories myself
over the years. My most memorable session being a five-year period in London during which I learned the true meaning of the terms ‘testosterone’ and ‘near-death experience’. Like goosing the grim reaper on a daily basis and getting away with it, it
tended to lend you a false sense of invincibility. With sometimes embarrassing results. Like the time I popped into Marks and Spencers to steal some food and water. Obviously I didn’t want to get caught, so
I wore my invisibility cloak, the same one I had been wearing moments earlier when I narrowly avoided being turned into pavement pizza by a kerbcrawling juggernaut. You can probably imagine my embarrassment when I found out that the cloak
only works when I’m riding my bike. Many was the time I felt compelled to inform motorists, often through their unsuspecting open windows, exactly what I thought of their driving skills. A mask does that for a man. These days though, I would definitely put myself in the ‘curious’ category. I like to explore and would explore far more than I do, if it weren’t for all those pesky hills. Hills are fun to come down, period. It is this, I have realised, which is my greatest incentive to getting an electric bike. Or an e-bike as most people seem to call them. To cut out the hills. But how much would this hill cutting exercise cost me and how silly would I
have to look in the process? The cost part I discovered, is mainly related to the battery. Of which there are more than one type. The cheapest are the sealed lead acid batteries, not dissimilar to those used in cars, if a little smaller. The main disadvantages of S.L.As is that they are heavy and that they have to be disposed of carefully when they are spent to avoid leakage and contamination. Better batteries, in the sense of their power to weight ratios and environmental impact, are the lithium-ion variety. But they cost at least twice that of their lead-based cousins. Which makes quite a difference to the overall price of an e-bike. As a rule of thumb always assume that if the battery type isn’t advertised as being a lithium, it will be the cheaper lead version. So the first question you
“My most memorable session being a five-year period in London during which I learned the true meaning of the terms ‘testosterone’ and ‘near-death experience’. “
electric transport really have to answer if you’re serious about buying an electric bike is whether or not to go lithium. (see ‘Battery Basics’). The second question is, ‘Do I want to look like Mrs Breadpudding?’ If the answers to those questions are lead over lithium (I don’t have to carry my bike up 5 flights of stairs and I can always upgrade later) and “How you doing Mrs Breadpudding?” (Joey Tribbiani style), then you’re basically good to go. There are plenty of decent options to consider, the cheapest of which seem to start at about 350 euros (those looking in Europe might want to investigate
Norauto’s Wayscral, it was the cheapest of this type that I found.)
being stuck with that elongated Shopper 20.
These conversion kits The way I’m thinking right start at about 300 euros now though is that while I each plus shipping with could probably live with the the cheapest versions all lead over lithium decision, emanating from China. I really don’t want to look Essentially what they send like Mrs Breadpudding. you is a new front wheel with an electric motor built So recently I’ve started into its hub, a battery (lead looking at the possibility of or lithium), an on/off switch building my own electric to put on your handlebars bike. Which sounds far and the wires you need more adventurous than to link them all together. it actually is, thanks to Plus a charger. As far as I the proliferation in recent can tell by watching the years of manufacturing various ‘how to’ videos on company’s who will provide the internet and reading all you with all the bits you the customer reviews, you need to ‘electrify’ your don’t have to be a closet existing bike rather than mechanic to take on a
conversion job. Far from it in fact. The obvious advantage of the conversion route is that you get to ride a bike of your choice rather than one of Mrs BP’s designs. They work on most types of mountain bikes and road bikes. Plus, as one reviewer in London pointed out, you can even fit the kit to an old wreck of a commuter bike to reduce its chances of being stolen (a more serious issue in some parts of the world than others). If you are a bit of a closet mechanic you can go a little further down the DIY route by re-using your old front wheel and maybe even sourcing your own battery. Top tip: If the typical journey you will be making on your electric bike is considerably less than the range offered by the bike’s battery, why not consider a smaller battery? There really isn’t much point carrying unused batteries around with you all day and the smaller the battery, the cheaper it is.
It is important to remember, particularly if you’re the sort to expound your own virtues, that electric bikes are not, strictly speaking, ‘emission free’. In the sense that the batteries are usually recharged from mains electricity which more than likely came from a fossil fuel power station. They are however emission free ‘on the road’ and if you’re using it instead of your car, it represents an easily calculable emission reduction overall. (Which doesn’t mean you can’t envisage one day building your own solar-powered bike shed!) I have to admit, now that I’ve concluded my unexpectedly long research period, I’m still in 2 minds. But at least it’s only 2 minds.
want to steal it?” Another part of me is saying, “Come on, you’re the editor of a magazine about sustainability, how can you possibly be considering the lead acid battery over the lithium. So what if it’s going to cost you an extra 400 euros – how can you put a price on these things?” Between me and you, I’ve made my decision and I fully intend to let you know what it is, in our very next issue. Complete with pictures. (Exit stage left to the tune of ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’ from ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, quite possibly the greatest advert for cycling ever made).
Part of me is saying, “Oh go on, just buy a cheap lead acid ‘Shopper 20’ style bike from Mrs Breadpudding’s catalogue and be done with it. The emissions you’ll be saving from not using your car instead, more than offset the dirty battery issue. And besides, who’d
“The way I’m thinking right now though is that while I could probably live with the lead over lithium decision, I really don’t want to look like Mrs Breadpudding.”
Battery Basics (By Edwin Thomas, ehow.com)
A battery is an electrochemical device, meaning it creates electricity through controlled chemical reactions between different substances. Most batteries, including lithium ion and lead acid batteries, include an anode, a cathode and a substance between them serves as an electrolyte. The anode is usually the
positive terminal, and electric current flows into it when the battery is in use. The cathode is usually the negative terminal, and when in use electric current flows out of it. The chemistry between them is what provides the electric current with its charge, but they require a third substance in the form of an electrolyte to serve as a medium. If the anode and
cathode came into contact, the result would be a short circuit. Lead Acid Electrochemistry The anode and cathode in a typical lead acid battery are made from lead and lead dioxide, and they are bridged by an electrolyte of a solution that is roughly one-third sulfuric acid.
As the battery discharges electricity, the chemical reaction gradually converts the two electrodes into lead sulfate. Recharging the battery partially reverses that conversion.
of power they can put out. What they do have going for them is that they have a very high surgeto-weight ratio, meaning they can deliver a big jolt of electricity all at once. This makes them perfect Lithium Ion for applications that need Electrochemistry a big, sudden surge of power, such as car starters. Lithium ion batteries use a Lead acid batteries are also variety of substances, with cheap to produce. However, the common element being they arenâ€™t very good in the migration of lithium roles that require a steady, between the electrodes low or middling supply during the electricityof electricity over a long producing reaction. period of time. They also Graphite is typically used have long recharging times. to make the anode, while cathodes can be made Lithium Ion Features from lithium cobalt oxide, lithium iron phosphate or Especially when compared lithium manganese oxide, with a lead acid battery, and other lithium-based lithium ion designs have substances besides. The a high power-to-weight electrolyte is typically a and power-to-volume solution of lithium salt ratio. It would be hard to in an organic solvent. imagine modern laptop Recharging a lithium computers, cell phones ion battery reverses the and other power-thirsty migration of lithium in the electronic devices without batteryâ€™s chemistry. these batteries, because to meet those power demands Lead Acid Features with other battery designs would mean clunkier Lead acid batteries are batteries with shorter one of the oldest practical, lifetimes. There are even rechargeable battery lithium ion batteries with designs, dating back to the a big surge capability, like mid-19th century. They that of a lead acid battery. have one of the lowest However, they have two big energy-to-weight and drawbacks. First, they are energy-to-volume battery very expensive to make. designs in existence, Second, their ability to hold making them very big and a charge decays even when heavy for the total amount the battery isnâ€™t in use. A
lead acid battery can go on working with good capacity for several years. Anyone who has kept the same cell phone or laptop battery for a year or two knows the same cannot be said of the typical lithium ion battery.
Carbon markets, bad to the bone? Why carbon markets have failed us so far but still have a vital role to play in our global low carbon ambitions By Max Horstink
“A carbon tax is an alternative but gives less flexibility and probably will not stimulate ambition and innovation in the way an emissions trading scheme could.”
Carbon markets are at a crossroads. At scale they have been around for almost a decade. During that time they have seen bad press, scandals, fraud, carbon prices dropping to €0, and they have never been less than controversial. Many concerns are justified. However, most people, including the press that reports about it, perhaps don’t really know how carbon credits are created, or what is meant by the term carbon market. To judge, one needs to understand the topic. And that’s not easy. There are different systems that cover varying segments of the economy and may or may not be linked or related to each other. As such, certain concerns deal with specific markets and are not an issue in other markets, etcetera. Let’s discuss some background and some of the criticism, and then you can judge for yourself. While there are others, media attention and criticism has been directed mostly at three distinct systems: Emissions trading schemes and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in the regulated market; The Voluntary Carbon Market in the unregulated market; Emissions Trading Schemes (also called cap-and-trade schemes, are designed for energy-intensive business sectors and governments, under the Kyoto Protocol). The basic principle is setting a limit, be it at installation-, sector-level, or economy-wide, on the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (such as CO2 or popularly called carbon) a company, sector, or country can emit. Companies participating in a cap-and-trade scheme such as the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) will have distinct options to comply with their installation specific targets. For instance Company A may have an emissions allowance quota for one of its refineries it operates in Rotterdam, and Company B for its CHP plant in Frankfurt. Company A may choose to clean up the refinery by investing in energy efficiency or renewable energy measures thus emitting less than its “business as usual” case. This may result in a surplus of emission allowances or carbon credits which it can sell on the market to Company B.
Carbon Company B may have chosen not to invest in low carbon technology and in addition could have increased its production emitting more than its target allowed for. The result is that both companies comply with their targets, which means that on the whole, emissions have been reduced as intended. So you can buy allowances (carbon credits) on the
market or you can reduce inhouse. In theory both options will be utilised providing flexibility for the participants and stimulating innovation (depending on and heavily influenced by market dynamics i.e. ambition of reduction targets, carbon credit prices, and industrial output). Some people would argue, why does Company A need to be rewarded for cleaning
up its refinery? A carbon tax is an alternative but gives less flexibility and probably will not stimulate ambition and innovation in the way an emissions trading scheme could. Unfortunately this ambition and innovation are usually only triggered by the promise of lucrative benefits, i.e. a high carbon price, but the market so far has been weak due to the financial crisis and perhaps unambitious targets.
“Some people would argue, why does Company A need to be rewarded for cleaning up its refinery?”
The CDM is a project-based system where the investor obtains carbon credits from a project that reduces GHG emissions in developing countries that do not have binding targets under the Kyoto Protocol. A project could be energy efficiency improvements in a factory, putting up wind turbines or solar panels, utilising biogas, etc. The CDM is an offset mechanism that effectively does not reduce global emissions but rather offers a cheaper alternative to compliance parties to reducing GHG missions domestically. The carbon credits obtained may be used in compliance systems such as the EU ETS which allows participants to emit a bit more (as there is a limit to the amount of CDM credits you can import). Lastly, the Voluntary Carbon Market is a projectbased offset mechanism similar to the CDM but individuals or organisations retire the resulting carbon credits voluntarily. The resulting carbon credits may not be used in compliance systems such as the EU ETS. Now what do people say is wrong with these systems? Let’s discuss some of the criticism. Carbon markets are based on “hot air” This is partly true. Initially when the countries that signed up to the Kyoto Protocol negotiated targets, it resulted in many Eastern European countries (namely Russia) receiving billions of tons of free allowances which they could sell on the market. This was because 1990 was chosen as reference year for the reduction target, and most of these countries had experienced an economic collapse shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and before the negotiations of targets (1997), drastically reducing industrial and energy output. Most Western European countries however declined to buy this “hot air” from Russia and rather focused on carbon credits from the CDM besides engaging with domestic abatement efforts. Russia has now bailed out of the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, where they may not have received these free allowances.
Carbon Politicians cannot afford to make this mistake again. This can be avoided in any future agreement (possibly by 2015) by choosing sensible base years not only for Russia, Ukraine and Poland, but also countries such as the USA, China, India and Brazil that are likely to join in this time. Any surplus allowance from previous commitment periods should really be cancelled out if we want to
seriously achieve climate goals. More hot air In the European Emissions Trading Scheme, a cap-andtrade scheme for Europeâ€™s largest carbon emitters, the first phase (2005-2007) saw carbon prices drop to zero when the market turned out to be oversupplied with allowances to emit. The phase ended up
over allocated because allocations were not based on real data but estimated historic emissions and growth figures. The European Commission had to rectify this in Phase II (2008-2012) by setting a tighter cap. However, phase II saw the power sector short on allowances (meaning they had to reduce emissions or buy carbon credits) while industry on average received more than they needed (hot air).
This figure shows the history of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations as directly measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. This curve is known as the Keeling curve, and is an essential piece of evidence of the man-made increases in greenhouse gases that some believe to be the cause of global warming. The longest such record exists at Mauna Loa, but these measurements have been independently confirmed at many other sites around the world. (Source of image and citation: Wikipedia.org) 56
The EU ETS, as a first of its kind, has mostly learned by doing. Hopefully the succeeding domestic schemes, and there are many active or planned around the world including the state of California, Australia, China, and South Korea, will take note and do it right from the start.
This effect was partially caused by a decrease in production following the economic crisis, and probably partly to protect the competitiveness of Europeâ€™s industry. Meanwhile the power sector destined to make the real cuts was able to pass on the cost of carbon to consumers. The Commission has again set a stricter overall cap for phase III, which starts next year, although the economic crisis might still have an influence. Most governments that implement cap-and-trade schemes, like the European Commission, will gradually increase the stringency phase by phase to protect participants from competitive disadvantages with respect to international trade. The EU ETS, as a first of its kind, has mostly learned by doing. Hopefully the succeeding domestic schemes, and there are many active or planned around the world including the state of California, Australia, China, and South Korea, will take note and do it right from the start. Even more hot air The Clean Development Mechanism and the Voluntary Carbon Market have had a rough ride over the last decade as well. Cases have been cited where projects were non-existent or projects not additional, i.e. would have happened anyway without the revenues of the carbon credits. Additionality is a requirement under the UNFCCC as well as for most established voluntary carbon standards. The former citings stem from the early days of the voluntary market when there were no project registries, third-party certifications nor Standards. We can safely say that such reportings are confined to history as the voluntary market has evolved. Additionality of projects however has been a problem and is an arbitrary exercise as it is. It is for instance rather difficult to prove that a project of wind turbines would not have been economic without the revenues of carbon credits, considering the rather small share of income from carbon credits compared to the electricity revenues, compared to other technologies. The UNFCCC has made amendments to, and is still reforming the CDM rules and requirements to deal with
Carbon these concerns. Media attention focusing on malicious practises has increased scrutiny on projects. Several thirdparty verifiers have been suspended for not adhering to the rules. However, ensuring additionality is subject to a slow bureaucratic process, which in turn receives much criticism because of the associated costs and limited turnover of emissions
reductions (as a project will not receive start-up capital and thus create emissions reductions until it is approved). Companies make millions from these systems The steel and cement sectors participating in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) have seen the biggest
surpluses of allowances in Phase II. Between 2008 and 2010, ArcelorMittal, one of the most energy-intensive companies in the world, may have made over â‚Ź1.4 billion as a result of its obligations under the EU ETS. This is equivalent to over 16% of its net income over these three years. In 2010, the value of the
Space-filling model of the part of the crystal structure of solid carbon dioxide (dry ice), CO2. Crystal structure data from AMCSD. Author: Ben Mills. 58
However, the downside of this allocation system was the issue of windfall profits for some sectors that could pass on the cost of carbon to their customers.
surplus was equal to 19% of Lafarge’s (cement), 21% of ArcelorMittal’s (steel), and almost 30% of Heidelberg Cement’s net income (using the 2010 weighted-average EUA carbon price of €14.64/tCO2). Companies in these sectors relate their surplus to the decreased production during the economic crisis. Other companies however were short, i.e. had to buy allowances on the market, or reduce in-house. So yes, there are companies who have financially benefitted from carbon markets possibly without even having invested a penny in low-carbon technologies. That means that they either did not have stringent enough targets, or that they reduced production (which has abundantly happened during the financial crisis), or a combination of both. Another important characteristic of the first phases was that most of the allowances (the amount they were allowed to emit without having to reduce or buy extra) were handed out to operators for free. This was initially done to protect companies from competitive disadvantages with respect to international trade. However, the downside of this allocation system was the issue of windfall profits for some sectors that could pass on the cost of carbon to their customers. In Phase III the European Commission addresses this issue by auctioning allowances. Power companies will have to purchase 100% of their allowances. For the industry and heating sectors a benchmarking system has been introduced that rewards the most efficient installations by receiving all the allowances they need for free, while the others will need to purchase additional allowances to cover their needs. Sounds fair, but the European Commission unfortunately made exceptions for sectors they think might relocate because of these rules. To protect these sectors from unequal competition from outside the EU they will get 100% of their allowances for free up until 2020, based on the same benchmarks. 164 sectors and subsectors were identified to be at risk of relocation, effectively including all industry sectors, apart from brick production. The EU has been generally leading the way by
Carbon implementing an on-paper ambitious system, but they can be criticised for failing to follow through here. After two phases spanning eight years they still surrendered to the lobbying efforts of their industry. Handing out allowances for free decreases the incentive to reduce emissions and hampers innovation.
issues, but they will be better off in the medium to long term through reduced energy costs, green product opportunities, and being more competitive than all their peers that are not yet carbon regulated but will be.
actually lobby for more stringent targets. Carbon markets are an excuse to emit more
From the point of view of compliance markets, as In addition climate change explained in the beginning, poses a significant threat to the principle of a cap-andcompanies as well in terms trade scheme is that on of disrupted supply chains, the whole emissions are Companies complain a lot potential damage to physical reduced down to a certain about the costs of emissions assets, etc. Some leading target. It does not matter trading and competitiveness companies realise this and how that target is achieved,
Diagram of the carbon cycle. The black numbers indicate how much carbon is stored in various reservoirs, in billions tonnes (â€œGtCâ€? stands for gigatonnes of carbon; figures are circa 2004). The purple numbers indicate how much carbon moves between reservoirs each year. The sediments, as defined in this diagram, do not include the ~70 million GtC of carbonate rock and kerogen. Author: Kevin Staff. 60
The EU has been generally leading the way by implementing an on-paper ambitious system, but they can be criticised for failing to follow through here.
i.e. companies are free to buy allowances either from their peers, or from cheaper emissions reductions from developing countries (CDM). However, in order to achieve the target in theory there should always be companies that invest in- and implement abatement measures in-house (if the targets are adequate). And the less companies would reduce emissions in-house, the higher the carbon price would become making in-house abatement more economic than buying on the market. So yes, there could be companies who increase production and choose to keep using dirty technologies, but if the targets are stringent enough that does not matter from an environmental point of view. And it will not make sense to do so from an economic point of view if prices go up to â‚Ź100 per tonne CO2 in 2050, which could happen even though it seems a long way off now at current prices of â‚Ź3-6/ tCO2. The Voluntary Carbon Market is also blamed to be an excuse to emit more by some people; I will however discuss that in a separate article. Fraud and theft In addition there have been cases of fraud and theft in the EU ETS and fraud in the CDM. Here I can be short, there has been fraud and theft in any private and public sector throughout history so why would that not happen in the carbon markets? It is inherent to mankind, not carbon markets specifically. This is plainly a matter of increasing enforcement measures, which has happened. Dirty technologies earn carbon credits In principle all approved technologies under the CDM should reduce (or perhaps rather offset) carbon emissions, unless fraud is committed. However there are controversial technologies that are claimed to have detrimental socio-environmental effects. I will name two distinct examples (there are some more of course). Large- scale hydro projects damage ecosystems and sometimes displace people. Industrial waste gas projects such as HFC-23 and N20 are so profitable (because of the relatively low abatement
Carbon cost and the high global warming potential of the gases) that the fear arose among critics that new plants would be built purely for the lucrative promise of carbon credits. Yes, these controversial projects exist.
hydro projects have to follow the World Commission on Dams guidelines, addressing the socio- environmental aspects and consulting stakeholders, if they are to be accepted into the EU ETS (it is not required by the UNFCCC), the largest offtaker of CDM credits.
Regarding the waste gas projects the UNFCCC has responded to the criticism by disallowing new industrial facilities to be credited. Issue solved. Large-scale
Whether this will really prevent detrimental effects is doubtful as large-scale hydro is probably simply too large-scale and there are no adequate solutions for some
of the environmental issues. It is replacing one bad for another. The UNFCCC has so far been receptive to criticism and has made reforms and amendments to the rules, phasing out controversial technologies or applying strict rules to prevent detrimental effects. Certain technologies have so far not been approved by the UNFCCC because of these kinds of doubts. Biofuel production potentially
â€œThe Voluntary Carbon Market does reduce emissions but currently only on a small (yet growing) scale compared to the overall size of the carbon markets.â€?
conflicts with food crops and has sparked controversy especially regarding the (continuous) cutting of rainforest for palm oil exploitation in Malaysia and Indonesia. It has been a hot topic for years and no methodology (except for one limited to biofuel derived from waste biomass) has convinced the regulator so far. These types of projects make carbon markets controversial, especially when they receive media attention. However, they are only a fragment of the technologies that are being used, and they should not blur the fact that the CDM is mostly about clean technology and renewable energy. Emissions are not being reduced To discuss this, we need to run through the various carbon market systems at different political levels. The hot air issues discussed before are a clear example that emissions are not being reduced at a national level in countries such as Russia, the Ukraine and Poland. On a sectoral level, the EU ETS, the largest carbon market in financial terms, is not doing much better apart from the power sector. Decreased production due to the financial crisis may however have played a role here. The Voluntary Carbon Market does reduce emissions but currently only on a small (yet growing) scale compared to the overall size of the carbon markets. The CDM is seen as a zero-sum game, i.e. is meant as an offsetting mechanism. Because of additionality issues discussed previously some argue that the CDM thus rather increases emissions, as those projects would have happened anyway yet deliver carbon credits to companies and governments that in turn can emit more. The same can happen when baselines for CDM projects (i.e. the emissions that would occur without the project) are overstated. That is one gloomy picture wouldnâ€™t you say? So how bad are they? All new markets have start-up problems. The issue is, will the designated authorities deal with these problems adequately? I will argue that in the current world we live in, the basic concept of carbon markets is not the problem, it just needs to be gradually perfected. Whether we like it or not, we are living in a capitalist world, and carbon markets are a part of that. The capitalist
Carbon system has come under fire over the last few years, especially through banks that also have an important part to play in carbon markets. But as long as we do not desire or set about a global revolution, we need to be pragmatic about ethical issues. Even if we wanted to, we do not have the time for radical political changes; we have to act now. So if some companies make money
off carbon markets but the end goal of stopping global warming is achieved then why should we complain? We need to stimulate companies in doing the right thing, and that means giving them potential financial or strategic incentives, as they need to answer to their shareholders. Carbon markets are the better option within the current political system as it is your best bet to engage
corporates in the climate change battle. Most of the problems associated with carbon markets that have been discussed in this article are issues of implementation that can be improved. A major condition is political will. In general it is difficult for people to think long-term, even more so for politicians who have perverse incentives to think short-term.
“A new international climate change agreement for 2020, after two Kyoto commitment periods, will need to show ambition, and not hot air.”
A new international climate change agreement for 2020, after two Kyoto commitment periods, will need to show ambition, and not hot air. However, all major emitters, including the USA, China, the EU, Russia and India, have indicated they are willing to take on targets from 2020, a major step. Before 2015 we will know how serious they are about this. It is however always a game of compromise, this is why Russia and the eastern European countries got their hot air, and next in line may be the developing countries that have not had the chance to “grow”. I am moderately positive that if we would have time, eventually we would get there. But we don’t have the time. In cascading targets down to the economic sectors, governments will need to get tougher on their industries if we want to save the planet in time. We may be too late already. On the whole the EU is taking a leadership role, even if the pace is too slow and eight years of EU ETS have not been enough to properly engage industry. And the US and China still have to follow suit. Additionality in the CDM is an issue, but cap-and-trade schemes are limiting the amount of CDM credits that can be imported, and the UNFCCC is putting significant efforts in to ensure integrity. If anything, the CDM is preparing developing countries to take on targets of their own. Carbon markets are merely a non-exclusive tool on our way to a low carbon world. More solutions are needed, but it’s a matter of “and”, rather than “or”. Ideally, from a save our planet point of view, a global carbon market would be created with sectoral targets for all countries thus eliminating competitiveness issues, providing clarity, continuity and a global carbon price for private investment, and enabling governments to be ambitious. However the definition of the word ideal is of course that it does not exist. There are probably too many political and economical discrepancies for that scenario. If however we establish a global climate treaty involving all countries such as is planned for 2015, and we keep on expanding, strengthening and linking up the patchwork of local and regional carbon markets out there, we may
Carbon sufficiently boost low carbon development and domestic action. One more crucial issue
around the globe by simply switching off machines. Long live the financial crisis.
In the climate debate and negotiations, developing Carbon markets are currently countries demand to designed to allow for growth. be allowed to grow The concept of growth is economically, which seems debatable and controversial, fair enough as they have to yet inherent to the capitalist deal with poverty alleviation system. The financial crisis and have not had the same has been good for the chances as the industrial climate change battle, as we countries. However growth established contraction and is still a holy word for the we have reduced emissions developed world as well,
and the buzz words now are “green growth” or sustainable growth”. We seriously have to ask ourselves however if continuous growth is compatible with the goal of a low carbon society? Probably not. Before we find the answer to that question let ‘s continue to criticise and to optimise the carbon markets. It’s either that or sustaining the financial crisis.