Mixed news for wind power emerges from G20

» By | Published 30 Jun 2010 |

The final text of the G20 summit of world leaders in Toronto which ended on Sunday contained mixed messages for wind energy. Here, we report on how the news travelled around the green community.

In a positive move, picked up by Business Green, the G20 reiterated a previous pledge to phase out expensive and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies – which are worth around $550 billion a year. The text said fossil fuel subsidies “encourage wasteful consumption”, adding that they will be phased out “over the medium term”. It also pledged to review progress on the phase out – which could cut global carbon emissions by around 7% according to the International Energy Agency – at upcoming summits, something which we too will be watching closely.

But the bad news for wind energy, reported by the Earth Times, came as the leaders of the G20 agreed to drop an earlier pledge to commit to investments in clean energy. In the final text, this was watered down to a “commitment to a green recovery and to sustainable global growth.”

According to the WWF blog, this is a substantial change from the Pittsburgh G20 summit in 2009 which contained eight references to ‘clean energy’. “They want through this document with a vacuum cleaner to remove any reference to clean energy,” Kim Carstensen, WWF climate expert, said.

References to investment in the fight against climate change were also weak – while the EU and Japan remained strong over their commitments to cut carbon, other countries wrangled over who should do how much, says WWF. Moreover, no initiatives were agreed on financial transaction taxes that could help fund the cost of climate change action in the world’s poorest countries. At the most, the final version of the text pledged to continue to support international climate change talks ahead of the upcoming UN summit in Mexico.

“The greenest thing about the G20 is its ability to reuse and recycle earlier commitments. This summit could have been the beginning of real action towards a clean, efficient and resilient economy but all we got is some nice words about green economy and a recycled statement on fossil fuel subsidies,” Carstensen said.


Military works with proposed North American wind farm projects

» By | Published 23 Apr 2010 |

Wind power supporters in the United States were told this week that the military understands the importance of the emissions-free technology.

General Victor E. Renuart, Jr., who is in charge of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, said the military is dedicated to both homeland defense and clean energy.

“We feel strongly that alternate [energy] sources are vital to our nation’s future,” Renault said in his commander’s blog. “I also know that the defense of our homelands is an equally vital responsibility. I honestly believe that both can be achieved together.”

Norad is charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. The Norad website says aerospace warning includes the monitoring of man-made objects in space, and the detection, validation, and warning of attack whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles. Aerospace control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States.

According to Associated Press, construction of a 338-turbine wind farm in Oregon has been put on hold while experts study whether it will interfere with a nearby radar station. AP said the Federal Aviation Administration, with Air Force backing, issued a notice in March that effectively bars construction. The Defense Department asked the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory to investigate.

In his blog, Renault, who also directs the US Northern Command, said the military appreciates “the importance of projects that enable the energy independence of both the US and Canada, and we fully support their development.”

The general said planners regularly evaluate proposed development projects such as wind farms, hotels, or other structures to assess whether they could hinder the military’s ability to detect and provide the warning and defense necessary to keeping North America safe.

Renault also said military planners suggest potential solutions to possible problems discovered in such development proposals.

“These situations really don’t happen all that frequently,” he said.