Scientists studying climate change did not manipulate data, new report says

» By | Published 09 Jul 2010 |

Climate change skeptics whose efforts to stop international policy makers from fighting global warming were dealt another blow Wednesday with the release of an exhaustive study that endorsed scientists from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia.

Chaired by Sir Muir Russell, the Independent Climate Change E-mails Review investigated the behaviour of CRU scientists following the unauthorized public release of approximately 1,000 e-mails in November, 2009.

Russell’s report noted that the e-mails fuelled challenges to the work of CRU, to the reliability of climate science generally, and to the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The report added the release of the e-mails occurred shortly before the United Nations annual climate change conference in Copenhagen which was to have resulted in a post-Kyoto treaty on limiting global greenhouse gas emissions caused mostly by burning fossil fuels.

“Climate science is a matter of such global importance, that the highest standards of honesty, rigour and openness are needed in its conduct,” the Russell report noted.

“On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.

“In addition, we do not find that their behaviour has prejudiced the balance of advice given to policy makers. In particular, we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.”

The report did add, however, that both CRU scientists and the university failed to recognize statutory requirements regarding the prompt release of requested public information.

Russell’s report was the third review of the hacked or leaked e-mails, which spurred on climate change skeptics intent on de-railing efforts to reduce greenhouse gases by substituting destructive fossil fuels with emissions-free wind power and other renewables.

The European Wind Energy Association would like to point out that each of the three reviews has concluded no climate change data coming from the CRU was falsified.

Eight months after the e-mails were improperly released, it is time for politicians to redouble their efforts against global warming. Embracing wind power would be a good first step.


Power-hungry New York City opens the door for offshore wind power

» By | Published 07 Jul 2010 |

Offshore wind energy could soon be helping to power the Big Apple following a decision by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to apply for a 25-year lease from the US government to develop a wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean east of Long Island.

The NYPA said last week that it and partners Consolidated Edison Company, the Long Island Power Authority and the City of New York are evaluating the development of between 350 megawatts and 700 MW of offshore wind by 2016.

“By taking this step, New York moves closer to the clean energy economy which combines the benefits of emission-free generation for a better environment with the economic development opportunities of the jobs and industries that will aim to make New York a leader in the growth of offshore wind,” NYPA Chief Executive Officer Richard Kessel said in a press release.

Equally upbeat, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said renewable sources of electricity must be used to improve air quality, increase energy reliability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Beginning the process of leasing the land beneath the ocean will get us closer to developing power from [the] Long Island-New York City offshore wind farm, which when built, will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and promote economic development,” Bloomberg was quoted as saying.

The NYPA — which is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility — says the wind project site includes an area of approximately 64,500 acres of underwater land and is approximately 20 to 24 kilometres offshore of Long Island in the Atlantic Ocean’s Outer Continental Shelf, an area under the jurisdiction of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

The press release adds the concept for the offshore wind project supports the New York State Master Energy Plan including Governor David Paterson’s “45 by 15” program, which establishes the goal for the State to meet 45% of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and renewable sources by the year 2015. The offshore wind project is also aligned with Bloomberg’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York City 30% by 2030.


EU research shows strong growth in renewables

» By | Published 06 Jul 2010 |

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has just released their annual ‘renewable energy snapshots’, confirming the strong growth of renewable energy in 2009. Their analysis chimes with ours: renewable energy sources accounted for 62% of new electricity generation capacity installed in the EU last year with wind power leading the way accounting for 38% of the total.

Positive news for our planet, and all the more so since the Commission predicts that if we maintain current growth rates, by 2020 renewables could account for 35-40% of overall electricity consumption.

“This would contribute significantly to the fulfilment of the 20% target for energy generation from renewables,” the Commission said in a press release.

On wind power in particular, the JRC paper says, “with more than 74 GW of total installed capacity in 2009, it has already exceeded the 2010 white paper target of 40GW by more than 80%.”

But, there is a note of caution attached to the good news: “Some issues need to be resolved if the targets are to be met,” the Commission said. This includes:
–    Ensuring fair access to grids
–    Substantial public R&D support
–    The adaptation of current electricity systems to accommodate renewable electricity

While we at EWEA look forward to a continued strong growth in the renewables sector, we strongly encourage the Commission to listen to the advice of its research centre, putting the policies in place that will ensure that these issues are solved.


Offshore wind farms protect fish from trawlers, study finds

» By | Published 02 Jul 2010 |

As the stories previously reported on this blog will tell you, the world is beginning to make changes towards a low carbon economy, and, the potential of offshore wind power in driving this change in the energy sector is now being realised.

Offshore wind, key in fighting climate change, does have an impact on marine environments  – something which researchers and offshore wind developers are aware of and are developing their knowledge.

A new study, ‘Greening Blue Energy’, published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and written in collaboration with E.ON and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, discusses offshore wind farms and their effects on marine biodiversity.

In the long term, offshore wind farms can be beneficial to the local ecosystems, the study finds. One of the biggest ways wind farms achieve this is in protecting marine species from trawling – among the most severe threat to the marine environment.

Environmentalists criticise trawling for its lack of selectivity – sweeping up both desired and non-desired fish of legal and illegal size. Tons of unwanted fish are discarded each year, dying needlessly.

“Long term trawling exclusion enhances abundance of several species of fish within the whole wind farm area and the effects can be considered large,” states the study.

Boulders that are used to protect the foundations of wind turbines can also offer shelter to marine species by acting as a kind of artificial reef. “It is certain that the wind turbines and scour protections will function as artificial reefs for several species of fish,” the study says.

However, during the construction phase in particular, an offshore wind farm can disturb the marine environment by the noise created, electromagnetic fields and changed water conditions.

“Moving away from oil, gas and coal is vital to avoid the worse impacts of climate change, in this context on marine ecosystems,” says Dan Wilhelmsson, Scientific Coordinator at IUCN and co-author of the report. “At the same time, we need to make sure that what we call blue energy, which includes the offshore renewable sources, is also green and doesn’t exacerbate existing stresses on the marine environment.”

The IUCN urges more research and thorough maritime spatial planning to minimise the risks: “Continued careful monitoring of offshore wind energy developments and their actual impacts on marine wildlife will be vital to generate reliable data and help ensure that offshore wind energy fulfils its sustainable potential,” said Nadine McCormick from the IUCN.

Offshore wind energy development in the European Union is accelerating and could potentially supply 12-16% of the EU’s electricity by 2030, the equivalent of 25,000 wind turbines, the IUCN says.

Read the report and have your say by commenting below.


Wind power allows Americans to demand clean energy now

» By | Published 01 Jul 2010 |

Pressure continues to mount on US lawmakers to use wind power and other renewables as a way of increasing the nation’s energy security, lessening its dependence on expensive, imported and polluting foreign oil, and creating a sustainable clean energy future.

A petition in the form of a 40-metre-long wind turbine blade arrived in Washington just before President Barack Obama and congressional leaders met on Tuesday at the White House to discuss energy policy.

A GE Energy press release said more than 6,000 people had signed the petition, which was delivered by the company and the American Wind Energy Association, as it made its way across 10 states to Washington.

“Manufactured in South Dakota, the wind turbine blade symbolizes how clean energy creates new U.S. manufacturing jobs in addition to providing clean power for America’s homes and factories,” said Vic Abate, vice president for renewables at GE Energy.

Destined to be part of a 1.5-MW wind turbine, the blade traveled more than 6,440 kilometres and was parked in front of the Nationals Park. It carried the message: “I’m helping to build America’s energy future,” issuing a call to Congress: Create More American Jobs by Enacting Clean Energy Policies This Year.

The press release also noted that one 1.5-MW wind turbine produces enough energy to power approximately 400 households. To generate the same amount of electricity as a single 1.5-MW wind turbine operating for 20 years would require burning 43,500 tons of coal or 138,000 barrels of oil.