Sunday, April 22, 2007

Yet another ocean energy concept

Creativity seems to know no boundaries while inventing concepts to harness ocean power. Recently at Leonardo ENERGY, we devoted a short eBook to this. Hereby another concept from a Finnish company (see AW-Energy Oy).

From the energy blogs

After Gutenberg reports on a new plastic solar cell approaching the 8% efficiency barrier for this technology. The challenge will be for the solar cell to match the lifetime of the equipment and buildings in which it will be integrated, or to make it easily replaceable.

Still with Gutenberg, a new joint venture on electric vehicles of Nissan with NEC is announced, but considering the size of the investment, the project is more an experiment or public-relations exercise than ground-breaking.

From the Energy Blog, the Fuel Cell Volt introduced by GM at the Shanghai auto show has it all, fuel cell, battery pack, plug-in option, but no mentioning of price.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Energy Unit Calculators

Energy units range from the very small to the very large. And different industries account for energy in different ways. Hereby an overview of the most important convertors on energy and other units:

Voluntary Carbon Offsets - still a long way to go | Leonardo ENERGY

Stories mushroom of individuals and organisations offsetting their carbon emissions by purchasing credits. With increasing demand for carbon offsets, several dozens of companies now offer such credits [1]. Prices vary, but typically you can go carbon-free for a price of 5 to 10 $/tonne CO2. A typical European with a carbon footprint of 10 tonne could go carbon-neutral for less than 100$.

Proponents of these schemes argue that offsets allow addressing climate change at the lowest cost to society. In addition, they serve as an education tool, making people aware of how much pollution they cause.

Opponents are worried about environmental integrity of the schemes, and prefer offsets being used as a last resort, after other options have been exhausted. A proposal for a Gold Standard on offsets by the Carbon Trusts comments in the same vein [2].

A price of 5-10$/tCO2 is well under the price of the EU's Emission Trading Scheme [3], where currently allowances for 2008-2009 are traded at 18 euro/tonne. According to IEA, plenty of carbon reduction opportunities are available at a price below 25 $/tonne.

It appears that personal/organisational carbon offsets have a bright future, but there are lots of conditions to be fulfilled:

  1. First exhaust other options for reducing direct & indirect emissions [2]
  2. Schemes need to be real, permanent, verifiable and truly additional, not planting 'a sapling for $2, not water it, not fertilize it, and figure out how much carbon dioxide it would absorb over 50 years' [1]
  3. The cost of the offset, minus the cost of running the scheme, needs to be invested into a project which produces an equivalent amount of carbon credits over its lifetime as the offsets being granted for its investment amount - a trivial proposition, but at present conspicuous in its absence for most current schemes.

A voluntary carbon market could be a great instrument to deliver low-cost carbon reductions, but government, or consumer organisations need to get involved to set the rules and provide a quality label for premium carbon offset providers.


[1] San Francisco Chronicle, April 15: Paying to absolve the sin of emissions

[2] Carbon Offsets: Greening or Greenwash?

[3] The EU Emission Trading Scheme - a play in 4 acts

[4] Energy Technology Perspectives - Towards a Sustainable Energy Future

RENREN - Unique experiences on RES put together | Leonardo ENERGY

A few regions in Austria, Germany, UK, Sweden and Iceland put together a network of best practices on renewable energy. Considering the geographical scope, they can cover most technologies, from emerging ocean power over geothermal & biomass to proven wind technologies.

Except for a single short article on EurActiv, there's almost no information regarding the network on the web, despite involvement of Commission Piebalgs and local politicians in the launch event. Looks like a mere public relations event.

RENREN - Unique experiences on RES put together Leonardo ENERGY