China number two economy in world, number one wind power market

» By | Published 20 Aug 2010 |

Chris RoseChina’s growing significance as a global powerhouse was further highlighted earlier this week with news that the nation is now the number two economy in the world, after bumping Japan off its almost four-decade-long perch behind the US.
With more than 1.3 billion people, the world’s most populated nation crept past Japan in the second quarter with an economy valued at $1.33 trillion.

“The milestone, though anticipated for some time, is the most striking evidence yet that China’s ascendance is for real and that the rest of the world will have to reckon with a new economic superpower,” said a Sunday story in The New York Times.Japan’s economy for the same quarter was valued at approximately $1.28 trillion, the story said, adding China’s economy will likely race past Japan’s for the full year.

“Experts say unseating Japan — and in recent years passing Germany, France and Great Britain — underscores China’s growing clout and bolsters forecasts that China will pass the United States as the world’s biggest economy as early as 2030,” the story added.

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Wind farms are not the only power plants in need of support

» By | Published 19 Aug 2010 |

By guest blogger, Tuuliki Kasonen-Lins
Estonian Wind Power Association

Recently there have been several articles in the Estonian media concerning the excessive price of renewable energy that consumers have to pay, and giving the cause as the highly expensive investments in wind energy. It has been forgotten though that every new power plant needs subsidising and wind farms have been the only power plants built in our country in recent years. Indeed, the investments in oil shale plants constructed during Soviet times do not appear on the energy bills of today’s consumers.

The Estonian Parliament recently validated the subsidies for two new oil shale plants (600MW), which proves that every new power plant needs financial support from the Government for the period of repaying long-term loans. Otherwise such huge investments would not be made and power plants would not be built. Subsidies are also given to cogeneration (CHP) and biomass plants. Newcomers just cannot compete with the existing competitors in the free electricity market. Therefore the discussion cannot be only about subsidising wind farms but also every other new power plant.

However, we should bear in mind the fact that subsidising wind energy is temporary – only during the first 12 years- and after that it will be the cheapest production method of energy in the market. The subsidising period of new oil shale plants planned in Estonia lasts for 20 years and unlike with wind farms it has to be paid even during the time when the plant is not generating electricity. For example, if the high taxation of CO2 emissions drives up the price of oil shale and new oil shale plants cannot sell electricity on the market, they will still be subsidised.

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Wind power picks up steam in Australia as nation turns to renewables

» By | Published 17 Aug 2010 |

Slow off the mark to harness its significant wind energy potential, recent news reports suggest Australia appears to finally be getting serious about tapping into the many benefits of emissions-free wind power.

Just last Thursday, AGL Energy Limited (AGL) and Meridian Energy (Meridian) announced they have entered binding contracts to construct a 420 MW wind farm at Macarthur in the southwest of the state of Victoria at a total capital cost of AUS$1 billion.

According to a AGL press release, the Macarthur wind farm will, upon completion in early 2013, be the largest in the southern hemisphere, and one of the largest in the world.

Formally launched by Victoria Premier John Brumby, the wind farm near Hamilton, 260 kilometres west of Melbourne, will feature 140 Vestas V112-3.0 MW wind turbine generators.

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Breath of Fresh Air: interview with Ricardo Vidal

» By | Published 12 Aug 2010 |

Ricardo Vidal, a wind energy fan from Portugal, is currently topping the voting league in EWEA’s campaign to get every turbine in Europe adopted. His turbine in Altdorf, northern Germany has received an impressive 346 votes putting him in good stead to win the competition to visit a wind farm. We caught up with him…

EWEA: Why do you support wind energy?

Vidal: I support wind energy because in my opinion all of us should give our own, even if small, contribution to a better world. A cleaner world where the environment has an important place in our society, and this way we can ensure that the world is a green and prosperous place to live in.

EWEA: What motivated you to adopt a turbine?

Vidal: First of all I wanted to be part of an interesting campaign with a common aim, and then I was attracted to the possibility to show and alert all my friends to the necessity of the place of wind energy in the world agenda.

EWEA: Where are you from and is there any wind energy in your area?

Vidal: I’m original from Portugal, a country where nearly 45% of electricity in the grid will come from renewable sources this year. Portugal has the third biggest ratio of wind energy produced per inhabitant in Europe, as well as being the fifth country in Europe for installed wind power capacity.

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It is time to wake up and recognise the dangers of global warming

» By | Published 10 Aug 2010 |

Even without absolute scientific certainty, there comes a time when reasonable people can agree if something looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is . . . well . . . a duck.

Such a clear realisation was presented to the world in the past week with news that Russia is experiencing its hottest weather in 130 years, a chunk of a Greenland ice sheet described as being more than four times the size on Manhattan has broken free, and climate change negotiators are still struggling to reach a new international consensus on how to mitigate global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.

And yet, despite scientific evidence suggesting global warming is already playing havoc with the planet, policy makers remain reluctant to fully embrace renewable energies, such as emissions-free wind power, which have already proven they can mitigate climate change.

As temperatures spiked across Russia, wildfires roared through tinder-dry forests and vast plumes of smoke reduced visibility while creating breathing problems, a New York Times blogger wondered if the nation could become “the poster child for the perils of global warming this summer.”

Last Thursday was the hottest day on record in Moscow since at least 1880, and the fourth day in a week that the city set a temperature record, the blogger noted, adding Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev blamed the crisis on climate change.

“What’s happening with the planet’s climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organisations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate,” Time magazine quoted Medvedev as saying.

Also last Thursday, scientists with the Canadian Ice Service discovered the largest ice island since 1962 had broken away from Petermann Glacier in northwest Greenland.

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