Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Energy Watchdog Urges Deal on Climate

The International Energy Agency used its annual World Energy Outlook as a platform to argue the case for a major international agreement on stemming global warming, saying it is needed to avoid sharply higher oil and gas importing costs as well as climate change.
The IEA suggested a strong agreement at a summit in Copenhagen next month could help make the difference between the Earth's temperatures rising as much as six degrees Celsius -- a figure at the high end of most experts' estimates -- and as little as two degrees. A deal on emissions could reduce world oil demand by 16 million barrels a day by 2030, the agency projects.
Failure to reach such a deal could raise the U.S.'s cost to import oil and gas from 1% to 2% of its gross domestic product, it said.
The IEA's energy-related forecasts generally carry weight with industrialized nations. But a grand agreement to slash global greenhouse-gas emissions to the extent the IEA is calling for appears unlikely. Countries from the U.S. to China are fighting over who should foot what share of the cleanup bill.
In the report, the IEA also scaled back its near-term forecast for global oil consumption, predicting it would grow to just 88 million barrels a day over the next five years instead of the 94 million barrels it was forecasting a year ago. That partly reflects increased energy-efficiency measures as well as the effects of the global recession.

IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said the agency expects oil prices to climb to more than $100 a barrel by 2015 and to $190 a barrel by 2030 because of the challenges the oil industry faces in finding new resources to meet rising demand.
The energy industry, responsible for two-thirds of all emissions, is divided over a climate-change pact. Some companies want to remove regulatory uncertainty that has slowed the shift to low-carbon technologies, while others say new mandates would prove too expensive.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass), said Tuesday that Democrats are planning to send a climate-legislation framework to Copenhagen to assure negotiators of Washington's commitment to a treaty.
The IEA's forecast on the effect of a deal depends on it limiting the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million of CO2 equivalent -- the "450 scenario." A number of climate-change activists say even that figure is too high -- because it is higher than the current level of about 380 parts per million. Countries including the U.S. back the 450 scenario on paper, but few analysts expect an agreement in Copenhagen to be that strict -- if agreement is reached at all.
To achieve that standard, demand for fossil fuels would have to peak by 2020, and a "revolution" occur in electricity generation, with a shift away from coal to natural gas and renewables, the IEA said. It said the price of carbon in Western countries would also have to rise -- to $50 for the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide by 2020 and to $110 a ton by 2030, compared to less than $20 in the current European cap-and-trade market.
Big change would also be needed in transportation: The number of electric or hybrid cars would have to rise to 60 of every 100 sold by 2030, from just one in 100 currently, the IEA said.—Jeffrey Ball and Ian Talley contributed to this article.
Write to Guy Chazan at and Spencer Swartz at

IEA calls for global push to end energy poverty

Energy watchdog says that without action at Copenhagen one in six people will still be without electricity by 2030
Tim Webb, Tuesday 10 November 2009 20.59 GMT
Rich countries are being urged to sign up to a Make Poverty History-style pledge at the climate change summit at Copenhagen next month to bring electricity to the 1.5 billion people in the world without it.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is working with the United Nations and the World Bank on a project to electrify millions of homes and villages in Africa and south Asia.
The energy watchdog's chief economist, Fatih Birol, told the Guardian the west was ignoring the issue of energy poverty in developing countries. The IEA also predicted that without international action by governments, there would still be 1.3 billion people – or 16% of the world's population – with no access to electricity in their homes or villages by 2030.
Energy firms have no incentive to build power plants or connect remote areas to the grid if people are too poor to pay the bills. "It's not likely to happen unless there's a major international concerted effort by rich countries," Birol said. "We will start to push it on to the main agenda at Copenhagen."
Birol will appeal for international support on the issue ahead of the Copenhagen summit when he delivers a speech at the UN in New York on 23 November.
today, the IEA outlined its annual World Energy Outlook, which forecasts that global oil supplies could increase by more than a fifth from just under 85m barrels a day last year to 105m by 2030.
The Guardian revealed on the eve of the report's publication that senior figures within the organisation disagreed with its forecast, believing that it would be impossible for the world to maintain oil supplies even at 90m-95m barrels. They claim that the IEA, under pressure from the US and to prevent panic on global stock markets, is deliberately exaggerating the level of accessible new supplies of oil.
The IEA responded today by publishing on its website a key chapter from last year's outlook report detailing how it estimates the decline in the rate of production from the world's largest oilfields. The information is normally only available to those who buy the entire report for €150 (£134). The agency, which dismissed the Guardian's report as "groundless", said it wanted to show the public that its research was independent. Birol said: "We are very proud of our analysis and independence. We have a lot of critics. It's not possible to make everyone happy."
The IEA's forecast of global oil supplies hitting 105m barrels in 2030 represents its "doomsday" scenario, which, it said, would result in catastrophic global warming and energy supplies becoming increasingly vulnerable to terrorists or accidents. This is based on Copenhagen failing to reach a deal that ensures a higher carbon price, which would make the consumption of fossil fuels such as oil and coal more expensive and encourage the use of low-carbon forms of energy such as renewables and nuclear instead.
This business-as-usual scenario would leave the west even more dependent on oil from the Middle East, it said. Emissions would soar by more than a third from 2007 levels and global temperatures rise by up to 6C over the next two decades.
Birol said: "The reason why we showed it is to say this is the way that we are going and we should not go there otherwise there will be an accident in terms of climate change and energy security. We do not want it to happen."
The IEA, set up to advise its 28 member countries, said that the alternative scenario would see oil consumption only increase slightly between now and 2030. This is based on countries agreeing at Copenhagen to stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million. This would give the world a 50% chance of limiting temperature increases to 2C, it said.
Birol admitted that there was "lots of resistance" to such a "450 scenario", particularly among Opec nations which stand to lose trillions of dollars in revenue from lower consumption of oil and gas. But he said the global economic downturn provided a "window of opportunity" for the world to take tough action. Many companies and countries had shelved investment in power plants because of the fall in energy demand. "But in the absence of a signal from Copenhagen, in 2010, or 2011, they will be built," he warned. "If a coal plant is built, it will emit for 50 years."
He added that last summer's record $147 a barrel oil price had "traumatised" many developing countries into looking for less volatile and costly forms of energy. Birol said oil prices, which had since fallen back to about $80, would continue to be volatile and would rise over the long term.

Copenhagen climate talks: Time to change, no time to waste

Next month, 192 countries will meet to set targets on carbon emissions. The summit will pit the developed world against the developing world in a last-ditch bid to limit warming to 2C
David Adam, environment correspondent, Tuesday 10 November 2009 23.10 GMT
The world's first global treaty to combat climate change, the Kyoto Protocol, was agreed in December 1997 after exhausting, all-night negotiations in Japan that saw arguments, desperate phone calls back to leaders in capital cities and inspired diplomacy.
The Guardian reported: "A more bizarre way of reaching agreement to tackle global warming cannot be imagined. Half of those involved were asleep on the floor, unaware that history was being made."
The final text of the agreement was still in the form of the conference chairman's scribbled notes as the politicians flew home.
Fast-forward a dozen years and the world is once again grappling with the need to find a way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that scientists are now confident drive climate change, and could raise the Earth's temperature to catastrophic levels within our lifetimes.
The stakes are higher than ever. Reports and studies over the intervening years have spelt out the likely cost of failure: floods, droughts, famines and refugees.
Nothing is certain, but – and this is a fact conveniently overlooked by climate sceptics – although climate change may not turn out to be as bad as everyone says, it could be an awful lot worse. The only way to know for sure is to wait and see, by which time it will be too late.
Voluntary action, by people or countries, is unlikely to be enough. Energy companies may brand their gigantic sales of oil and gas with greenwashing images of windmills, but they continue to sell oil and gas. Airlines see the shrinking world largely through dollar signs.
Fast developing countries such as China and India sit on vast stocks of coal that are already driving a second industrial revolution and forcing their emissions above those of the older polluters in the west. Forests offer a financial lifeline to millions who live in squalor in Indonesia, Brazil and elsewhere, but only if they can be chopped down and shipped away, releasing huge clouds of carbon dioxide.
And at the top of the carbon food chain sits the western consumer, with his/her weekends in Prague, all year-round asparagus, plasma televisions and reluctance to pay more for the energy our lifestyles rely on.
The magnitude of the task involved in throwing a noose around that lot was what convinced world leaders they needed agreements like Kyoto. Firm targets to reduce greenhouse gases would surely force governments to introduce policies to steer their people away from their extravagantly polluting lifestyles and livelihoods.
How they did it would be up to them, as long as the numbers added up.
As many people in Kyoto suspected at the time, the reality has been very different. At the demand of the United States, the Kyoto rules were tweaked to allow rich countries to buy their way out of their targets, a move that gave birth to the multi-billion carbon trading industry.
Then, having smuggled this slow-puncture into the world's efforts to reduce emissions, President Bush walked away from Kyoto altogether, in protest at it only setting targets for rich countries.
From that moment, Kyoto was destined for the dustbin as a serious means to tackle climate change, and the world began to focus on bringing the US back on board.
The December meeting that spawned Kyoto was one of a series of annual UN climate conferences. The circus has since passed through Buenos Aires, Bonn, The Hague, Marrakech, New Delhi, Milan, Montreal, Nairobi, Bali and Poznan. And the pressure to produce a meaningful successor agreement has grown.
The first phase of Kyoto expires in 2012 and two years ago the world set itself a deadline to agree something to follow. That deadline expires in six weeks.
Next month Copenhagen will host the highest profile, best attended, most widely publicised, eagerly awaited and closely scrutinised UN climate talks so far. Could this be the moment the world finally gets to grips with climate change? With President Barack Obama having pledged to engage the US properly, hopes have been high that Copenhagen will unite the world.
Like Kyoto, any deal agreed at Copenhagen would not decide policy. It would not ban flights, or push nuclear power, or force people to go back to living in mud huts. A Copenhagen treaty would set new targets for overall pollution levels, and again rely on governments to meet them. Britain has already set some of the strictest carbon targets in the world. Whatever happens next month, British politicians have already decided they must spend the next few decades promoting renewable energy, electric vehicles and central heating based on methane from rotting food waste.
But, in the words of one online sceptic: what's the point of Britain doing anything while China is building a new coal power station every week? (It's actually two a week). This is where Copenhagen is critical. The world has changed since Kyoto and climate change threatens rich and poor countries alike. To reduce global emissions China, the US and their kin must take action: global climate change needs global attention. Copenhagen offers a chance to forge a new agreement with all the major players.
Then there is the science. Few insiders still believe it is possible, but in theory a Copenhagen treaty could offer the world its last chance to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels, which the EU defines as dangerous.
For this to happen, the world's scientists think global carbon emissions must start to fall rapidly during the next decade. This demands severe and legally-binding targets for all developed countries and significant voluntary cuts by the rest. Those are two of the goals that the British government has set for Copenhagen.
The third is to find a way of chanelling billions of pounds from rich to poor countries, both as a moral acknowledgement that climate change is still largely the fault of the developed world, and to offer pragmatic assistance to those who will be most directly affected by changing weather patterns.
Many senior figures have already played down expectations. They say President Obama needs more time to soften opposition at home. China will not move without the US, and so the whole process will be bogged down by the tension that wrecked Kyoto. Copenhagen can only produce a political agreement, a framework. The real work will have to follow next year.
Others point out that Kyoto took several years to finalise, so there is no need to worry, no real need to squeeze everything into the pivotal last days of the talks.
Lord Smith, the chairman of the Environment Agency, this week labelled the Copenhagen talks only as a "crucial start" in the fight against climate change. In fact, it may not even be at the end of the beginning.
Green campaigners insist anything is still possible. Kyoto, they point out, was saved from collapse at the eleventh hour, while the Bali talks in 2007 were rescued when US opposition wilted in the pressure cooker of the conference chamber.
Perhaps President Obama could yet save the day. What truly matters is that at the end of Copenhagen a global deal, if not signed, sealed and delivered, remains on the table. As the Guardian noted in 1997: "Kyoto has kept the climate change [fight] alive. The only way targets can go from here is up."

Yangtze delta warned to prepare for effects of climate change

Delta has been warming faster than global average for a decade, and the impact is already being felt, according to WWF China
Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent, Tuesday 10 November 2009 16.57 GMT
China's most populous river needs massive investment and careful planning to ease the impact of climate change, which is causing floods, droughts and storms to intensify, a new report (pdf) said today.
The Yangtze delta, which is home to about 400 million people, has been warming far faster than the global average for more than a decade and the implications for food security and biodiversity will worsen without remedial action, according to the study led by WWF China.
The report found that in the first five years of this decade, temperatures along China's biggest river have increased by 0.71C, after a rise of a third of a degree in the 1990s.
The consequences are already apparent, from the source to the estuary. The report's authors – which includes many of China's leading scientists – calculated that climate change was responsible for 81% of grassland degradation near the headwaters of the Yangtze on the Tibetan plateau. By the estuary near Shanghai, the sea level had risen by 11.5cm in the past 30 years.
As well as having a dire impact on wildlife, particularly in wetlands, the report warned that people living on the delta would have to adapt or suffer from falling harvests, lengthening droughts and fiercer storms.
If current trends continue, it predicted rice production in the Yantgtze basin would decrease by between 9% and 41% by the end of the 21st century, while harvest of corn and winter wheat would decline even more precipitously.
Large areas of southern China are already experiencing a crippling drought. Chinese climatologists say rainstorms are growing more frequent and intense, raising the risks of floods.
"Extreme climate events such as storms and drought disasters will increase as climate change continues to alter our planet," said Xu Ming, the lead researcher on the report, which included contributions from the China Academy of Sciences, the China Meteorological Administration and other academic bodies.
The study – one of the most comprehensive ever undertaken of a major river basin – was cautious about the rate of glacier shrinkage.
Despite the rising temperatures, it predicted the icefields near the headwaters would only shrink by 11.6% between 1970 and 2060. This is a slower rate of decline than previous studies.
The authors urged the authorities to ease the impact on people and the environment by developing hardier crop strains, shifting from corn to rice, improving the management of the river and dams, and by reinforcing dykes and power supply systems.
"Adaptation is a must for large developing nations such as China, which is particularly vulnerable to climate change because of its large population and relatively low economic development," said James Leape, director general of WWF International. "The report is a reminder that while the whole world rises to meet the challenge of climate change, we must prepare for impacts that are already inevitable," he said.

Environment Agency calls for flood defences to protect 900,000 properties

The number of homes and businesses at highest risk could rise by 60% by 2035, warns the agency in its five-year strategy
Press Association, Tuesday 10 November 2009 13.19 GMT
More than 900,000 homes and businesses in England and Wales could be at the highest risk of flooding by 2035 without increasing investment in defences, the Environment Agency warned today.
The agency said the number of properties at the highest risk of inundation could rise by 60% from current figures of 560,000, as it outlined a new five-year strategy, including plans to protect an extra 200,000 homes and businesses from flood waters.
The Environment Agency is also planning to improve 9,000 miles of waterways, reduce serious pollution incidents by 5% a year and prevent inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding under its plans for 2010 to 2015.
As part of the strategy, the agency aims to support renewable power and other low-carbon technologies – and continue efforts to reduce its own carbon footprint by 30% by 2012.
The Environment Agency said that in the past five years, 156,000 properties had been protected against flooding, while the amount of waste produced by companies it regulated had fallen by 14% since 2005.
Emissions of sulphur, which causes acid rain, and particulates, which cause health problems, had both fallen in the past decade, while otters and salmon had returned to many rivers as the number of pollution incidents fell.
The chief executive, Paul Leinster, said: "Less waste is going to landfill, more properties are protected against flooding, pollution incidents have halved since 2000 and there are more fish and wildlife in lakes and rivers."
But he warned: "Climate change is already affecting the UK and the challenges we face as a result are only going to get tougher and more properties could be at increased flood risk.
"We expect the country's population to grow by 16 million by 2050, adding further pressure on limited water supplies and waste treatment facilities," he added.
The Environment Agency's plans for the next five years include building new flood defences and maintaining existing ones, continuing to restrict development on flood plains and creating new wetland and coastal habitats to prevent flooding, it said at its annual conference today.

Green home makeover will cost up to £15,000, says climate watchdog chief

Larry Elliott, economics editor, Tuesday 10 November 2009 21.59 GMT
The head of Britain's climate change watchdog predicted today that households will need to spend up to £15,000 on a full energy efficiency makeover if the government is to meet its ambitious targets for cutting carbon emissions.
Warning that Britain needs to step up its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases after picking all the "low-hanging fruit", Adair Turner said radical steps would be needed for electricity generation, cars and homes.
Amid growing concern that next month's Copenhagen climate change summit could end in bitter failure, the chairman of the government's climate change commission warned against using the drop in emissions caused by the longest recession since the 1930s as an excuse to relax in the fight against climate change.
The government has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 34% from their 1990 levels by 2020 but slipped off course during the economic boom earlier this decade. "When we get the figures for 2008-09 we may look to be on target, but only because we have had a thumping recession," Lord Turner said.
"There is a danger of the government saying "look, we are back on target". We will be back on target for the worst possible reason."
Turner said that the UK had made "pretty rapid progress" on cutting emissions during the "dash for gas" in the 1990s, but had not maintained the progress during this decade. Tough decisions were now needed because there were limits to improvements to the internal combustion engine and Britain was running out of "easy things" to do in the home.
"After home insulation and more efficient boilers, we now need more intrusive things – double glazing, cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation."
He added: "We need much more of a whole house approach – one-stop shops where people can get a total report on what they need to do to their homes. It may be expensive – between £10,000 and £15,000."
The CCC believes that the cost of the scheme would be paid for by a combination of government subsidy and higher electricity bills.
Turner said there was a case for greater state intervention in helping to reduce carbon emissions from the motor industry. Arguing that there were "limits" to what markets could achieve, the CCC chairman said: "We need support for the initial wave of electric cars."
The government has allocated £250m to hasten the arrival of electric cars but Turner said the CCC would like to see £800m of public money spent on setting up a network of charging points. "It's chicken and egg. Motorists won't buy the cars unless there are enough charging points; the government is reluctant to put in the charging points while there are no electric cars."
Ministers have accepted the CCC's recommendation that carbon emissions should be reduced by 80% from their 1990 levels by 2050, and the first three carbon budgets covering the period up to the early 2020s were made legally binding earlier this year. Turner said his organisation was now working on a tough fourth budget.
"The 2020s will have to see the radical decarbonisation of electricity, " he said. "That means more renewables, a significant expansion of nuclear or carbon capture and storage plants."
He warned ministers that they would need to contemplate curbs on the expansion of air travel unless there was a way of increasing the supply of biofuels without affecting the ability of countries to feed growing populations. The government has pledged that emissions from aviation will not be above 2005 levels in 2050 and the CCC will provide a range of options for aviation in a report next month.
Turner said experts should look at the possibility of using a financial services transaction tax to help poor countries develop low-carbon growth strategies. "Any tax would have to be agreed at the global level because it would be difficult to enforce in one country. That's why people have tended to think that the proceeds should be used for global common goods, such as the environment."
Power stations that do not have carbon capture and storage will be taken out of commission, Turner said.

Climate change study shows Earth is still absorbing carbon dioxide

The Earth has developed stores to absorb excessive levels of carbon dioxide, according to a study that challenges the conventional thinking on climate change.

By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentPublished: 12:01AM GMT 11 Nov 2009
The research, by Bristol University, suggests that despite rising emissions, the world is is still able to store a significant amount of greenhouse gases in oceans and forests.
According to the study, the Earth has continued to absorb more than half of the carbon dioxide pumped out by humans over the last 160 years.

This is despite emissions of CO2 increasing from two billion tonnes per year in 1850 to current levels of 35 billion tonnes per year.
Previously it was thought that the Earth's capability to absorb CO2 would decrease as production booms, leading to an accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
But Wolfgang Knorr, author of the new study, found that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has remained just over 50 per cent, with only tiny fluctuations being recorded despite the massive hike in output.
He pointed out that his study relied entirely on empirical data, including historical records extracted from ice samples in the Antarctic, rather than speculative climate change models.
"Previous studies suggested that in the next ten years the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will accelerate because there is a lot less uptake by the Earth, there is no indication of this," he said.
However scientists cautioned that the ability of the oceans and rainforests to absorb carbon dioxide in the future may collapse, leading to a massive increase in temperatures.
Another study released this week found the amount of CO2 released as a result of cutting down the rainforests could have been overestimated. The research by VU University in Amsterdam found emissions from deforestation could be as low as 12 per cent, rather than 20 per cent.
Also, research has found that marine plants in the Antarctic are fighting climate change by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere as the ice melts. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) found that blooms of phytoplankton are thriving in swathes of water left open by the melting of ice shelves and glaciers.
But Dr Wolfgang Knorr cautioned that the world should still be trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as part of any climate change deal decided in Copenhagen next month.
He pointed out that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is still increasing, even though half is absorbed by the Earth. Also there are fears that the oceans and soil become saturated and are unable to absorb any more CO2 in the future.
"Like all studies of this kind, there are uncertainties in the data, so rather than relying on Nature to provide a free service, soaking up our waste carbon, we need to ascertain why the proportion being absorbed has not changed," he said.

Barack Obama says he will go to Copenhagen climate change conference

President Barack Obama has said he will go to Copenhagen next month to secure an international deal on climate change.

Published: 7:00AM GMT 10 Nov 2009

President Obama acknowledged that the US Senate would not pass the crucial legislation before Copenhagen.
A key global treaty to stop global warming almost collapsed last week after poorer nations threatened to walk out unless rich countries like America agree to cut their emissions.
However President Obama said he thinks a deal can still be done and he will go to Denmark in mid-December to make sure it happens.
"If I am confident that all of the countries involved are bargaining in good faith and we are on the brink of a meaningful agreement and my presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over edge then certainly that's something that I will do," he told Reuters.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen has been billed as the world’s last chance to stop temperature rise going above 2C (3.6F).
The latest round of UN talks in Barcelona last week ended in deadlock, after the US and other rich countries refused to cut their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the poor world’s demands.
It is difficult for the US to sign up to legally-binding emission targets until the level of cuts have been approved by the Senate.
President Obama acknowledged that the US Senate would not pass the crucial legislation before Copenhagen.
But he said a “framework” agreement can still be thrashed out that commits the world to tackling global warming.
"I think the question is can we create a set of principles, building blocks, that allow for ongoing and continuing progress on the issue and that's something I'm confident we can achieve," he said.
The President’s intervention will come as a relief to environment groups who want America to lead the world on climate change – although they will be campaigning hard to ensure President Obama signs up to a tough enough target eventually.
It is now thought the Copenhagen meeting will become a “leader’s summit” where the world will make a “political agreement” on cutting emissions before thrashing out targets and a legal treaty later in the year.
Talks between the US and Chinese leaders during an Asia tour later this month will be crucial in agreeing carbon emission targets and the amount of money developed countries are willing to pay the poor world to help them cut emissions.
President Obama said the large polluting nations can thrash out a deal.
"The key now is for the United States and China, the two largest emitters in the world, is to be able to come up with a framework that, along with other big emitters like the Europeans and those countries that are projected to be large emitters in the future, like India, can all buy into," he said.

EIB sets up £700m fund to help onshore wind farms

By Sarah Arnott
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has opened a £700m fund to tackle the lack of finance for the UK's onshore wind farm developers.
There are 84 wind farm projects – with a 3.4 gigawatts (GW) total capacity equal to the UK's total installed base – that have stalled because of developers' inability to raise the debt.
Under the new arrangement, designed by the Government to address the liquidity problems, the EIB itself will not be exposed to any direct risk or tied up in the necessary due diligence for the proposed projects.
The £700m will be made available to Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and BNP Paribas, who will match the funds themselves and do all the work related to granting the loans.
Maria McCaffery, the chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association, said: "Wind energy has never been a risky investment. Wind farms in the UK have never defaulted on their loans. But the recent turbulence in the financial markets has affected availability of loan finance for smaller and medium-sized projects."
The new funds became available yesterday, the day after the Government published draft National Policy Statements aimed at speeding up planning consent in the energy sector.

Siemens's Green Energy Sales Grow

German engineering conglomerate Siemens AG said its revenue from energy-saving and other green technology products rose 11% to €23 billion (about $34.5 billion) over the past year, more than a quarter of its total expected sales in fiscal 2009.
Siemens, long a world leader in coal-fired and nuclear-energy plant production, is increasingly generating its sales from products such as energy-saving turbine engines, solar inverter systems and components for so-called smart electricity grids. The growth in such environmentally minded products helped keep the German engineering giant's overall sales steady in an otherwise difficult year.
"Our green products and solutions are contributing to stabilizing our business during the economic crisis," said Barbara Kux, Siemens management board member and chief sustainability officer. The company has said it expects to generate the same level of total sales in fiscal 2009 as it did in 2008, or €77.3 billion.
Siemens is moving to capitalize on the carbon-dioxide emission-reduction targets many companies now have to meet. It's also banking on growth from the hundreds of billions of euros that governments around the world plan to spend over the next several years to make power grids, transportation networks and other infrastructure more efficient and less damaging to the environment.
"We don't just want to talk about it," Ms. Kux said in an interview. "We have the solutions in our pocket."
Siemens also announced Tuesday its first wind energy order from Latin America. The $270 million contract, from Mexican wind energy developer Grupo Soluciones en Energias Renovables, is to build 70 wind turbines for the Los Vergeles wind farm in Tamaulipas, Mexico. The project is intended to supply more than 200,000 Mexican households with clean power by the end of 2010.
Write to Vanessa Fuhrmans at

Are we running out of oil? The world in energy statistics

Fascinating insight into how we consume power - and how much of it we have left

Energy statistics can be very controversial - according to a story published today:
The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.
The amount of proven oil reserves awaiting to be exploited fell last year for the first time in a decade, according to the BP figures. The amount of crude left in the ground was 1.258trn barrels - 3bn less than last year.
These figures, revealed in the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, are probably the result of a slump in drilling activity due to a fall in the price of oil last year - from $150 per barrel to $30.
At today's rate of use however there is still enough oil to last the next 42 years, according to the oil company although those concerned about Peak Oil say we are closer to running out given demand is expected to rise strongly in the short-term.
BP's Statistical Review is used extensively by OPEC and others in the industry as a key text. This year's review shows coal consumption continuing to soar, especially in China, a 70% year-on-year increase in solar capacity and contains a host of other energy gems.
Download the data:

Japan builds technology to bury greenhouse gas emissions

Swathes of dirty clouds brood over a coal plant in rural Japan, but scientists are now hoping to send the pollutants the other way, deep into the bowels of Mother Earth.

By Kimiko de Freytas-TamuraPublished: 1:32PM GMT 10 Nov 2009

The cutting edge but controversial technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is being tested at the Mikawa power station, located near the coast of Japan's southern Fukuoka prefecture.
Toshiba has chosen it as a pilot site for a technology that it sees as a necessary complement to renewable energies such as wind and solar power in the battle to cut industrial emissions blamed for global warming.
"There is no silver bullet" to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, said Kensuke Suzuki, a Toshiba engineer, during a tour of the plant, about 900 kilometres (560 miles) south-west of Tokyo.
"Solar energy will not solve all the problems, and you can't just switch from coal to nuclear. You need to find a way to balance the reduction of emissions."
With worldwide coal use projected to rise in the coming decades, especially in China and India, proponents of the technique say that it can help fight climate change that is melting ice caps and threatening eco-systems.
"CCS will be the only technology to reduce emissions on a grand scale," said Shigeo Murai, who heads a study group on storing carbon dioxide, or CO2, at Japan's Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth.
"At the same time it won't be able to reduce overall emissions on its own. It will need help from solar and wind power."
Last month the six-storey Toshiba trial plant began trapping 10 tonnes of CO2 from flue gas, which is created when coal is burnt to make electricity.
In what is called the post-combustion method, the gas is pumped into a boiler which mixes it with amines and other liquid solvents. Subjected to high and low temperatures, the CO2 is then separated and compressed into a liquid.
The next step, still in the future in Japan, would be to pump the mixture deep underground - into a geological formation, a depleted oil reservoir or a saline field - and lock it far away from the atmosphere.
Although Toshiba's pilot plant captures only 10 per cent of the emissions and has yet to find a way to store the CO2, it says the technique promises to eventually trap up to 90 per cent of the pollutants.
Many question marks still hover over the technology. However, five large-scale integrated CCS projects are already operating in North America, Europe and North Africa.
Environmentalists give warning that the CO2 could seep out, and some geologists worry that it could erupt to the surface or even trigger minor earthquakes.
Greenpeace labelled it a "dangerous gamble" in a recent report, warning that large-scale projects "pose significant risks including negative health effects and damage to ecosystems (and) groundwater contamination".
There is also concern among green groups that CCS technology could give a new lease of life to fossil fuel use at a time when the world should quickly move on to cleaner energies.
Critics and proponents say that CCS could boost fossil fuel use by helping to "flush out" hard-to-reach oil or methane deposits.
Toshiba's experts say that in the so-called Enhanced Oil Recovery system, CO2 would be injected into semi-depleted oil fields to help release pockets of the remaining oil by acting "like turpentine on hardened paint".
Then there is the question of cost.
A plant fitted with CCS burns up to 40 per cent more energy and faces 60 per cent more in costs than an ordinary plant.
For consumers, that translates into adding up to $65 (£39) per tonne of CO2 to the cost of electricity, according to a report compiled by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change based near Washington.
But Japan is aiming to drive down costs to 2,000 yen (£13) a tonne by 2015 and to 1,000 yen by 2020 - levels competitive with other types of green energy, according to a government report.
Toshiba, which also entered the solar energy market this year, aims to market CCS technology by 2015 and hopes for revenues worth 100 billion yen by 2020.
Other Japanese companies have also joined the race, spurred in part by a Group of Eight developed nations pledge made in Japan last year to start 20 major CCS projects by 2010 and over 3,000 by 2050.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has conducted CCS-related research on a liquid natural gas power station in western Osaka prefecture, a steelworks plant outside Tokyo and a coal power station in northern Nagano.
Japan's biggest coal user, J-Power, teamed up with IHI Corp and Mitsui to build a CCS plant in Australia to capture about 10 to 15 per cent, or 100,000 tonnes, of the 30-megawatt plant's total emissions.
Japan may be leading CCS projects, but the efforts are mostly for export. The technology is unlikely to be used widely at home, experts say, because Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.