Photo of the week: Energy efficiency scorecard

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, ACEEE, is a non-profit organisation aiming for a more energy efficient (American) economy. They’ve made an international scorecard, a ranking of energy efficiency of 16 large economies including Germany, the UK, China, Mexico, the US etc. Countries can earn a maximum of 100%, by scoring points in 31 metrics across four groups of important energy efficiency aspects: nation-wide energy aspects such as energy production and transmission, buildings, industry and transportation. The top three brings no surprises. On the first place comes Germany, followed by Italy and the European Union as a whole. Surprising result: China comes at the fourth place, while the US only comes only at the 13th place of the 16 economies investigated. But there’s still room for improvement: even Germany was rewarded a mere 62 on a scale of 100.

The energy efficiency scorecard of ACEEE, ranking 16 large economies (map: ACEEE)

The energy efficiency scorecard of ACEEE, ranking 16 large economies (map: ACEEE)

 

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ACEEE

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Photo of the week: Earth day celebrates its 45th birthday

45 years ago, US senator Nelson organised what he called a “national teach-in on the environment”. The Americans were polluting as never before, but didn’t bother about the possible results of their emissions. Instead, protests against the war in Vietnam were the order of the day. Nelson believed he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution and their country, and believed it would inforce political action. And he succeeded. That 22nd of April 1970, 20 million people took to the streets for a sustainable way of living. In the next years, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was founded, the Clean Air act, Endangered species act and Clean Water act were passed in congress. Earth Day became a yearly tradition and spread all over the world, fostering action to demand environmental protection. It created a social and political platform that is likely to have contributed to the first United Nations Earth Summit in 1992, often seen as the first global conference on climate policy (read more about in my post about the history of climate change policy). Today Earth day celebrates its 45th birthday and the message is clearer and more urgent than ever. Back in the early days, the science of climate change was not yet fully settled. Nowadays, 98% of climate scientists agree present man-made climate change is threatening the Earth in drastic ways. Action is needed, not only the twenty second of April, but every day from now on.

A Pace College student wearing a gas mask smells a magnolia blossom on Earth Day, April 22, 1970 (photo: AP Photo)

A New York city student wearing a gas mask smells a magnolia blossom on Earth Day, April 22, 1970 (photo: AP Photo)

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earthday.org

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Photo of the week: Australia’s dry season has begun

Northern Australia hosts the perfect conditions for wildfires. The wet season makes grasses grow thick and abundant, the dry season turns them in one of the best fuels for a good fire. The dry season normally begins in May, but wildfires have already been reported in Western Australia and Northern Territory, the pillars of smoke captured on photo. The fires are indicated with red marks (click on the photo to enlarge). This could be the beginning of a long and intense wildfire season, since Australia is experiencing an ongoing increase in temperatures and droughts. The photo was taken by NASA’s Aqua satellite which is equipped with six instruments monitoring all kinds of Earth’s water, temperature and energy fluxes.

Pillars of smoke rise from wildfires in Northern Territory and Western Australia (photo: NASA)

Pillars of smoke rise from wildfires in Northern Territory and Western Australia (photo: NASA)

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NASA

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Photo of the week: tracing back shipping lanes… with CO2!

When you were asked to point the places with most carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on earth, you probably would think of China, Western Europe and the US coastlines. A mapping of carbon dioxide pollution matches very well with population density indeed. That’s not a big surprise, since mankind is a very large contributor to CO2 emissions. But something you maybe wouldn’t have tought about, is the shipping lanes used by hundreds of cargo ships carrying goods from oil over coal to bananas from one side of the globe to the other. This enormous ships burn what is called bunker oil, a sulfur rich fuel oil. At least 4% of the global greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be emitted by shipping. Since the amount of goods shipped oversea is still on the rise, it’s definitely worth spending some more time and money improving ships’ efficiency and pollution.

 

A mapping of the carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere reveals cargo ships' routes (map: Kennedy Elliott)

A mapping of the carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere reveals cargo ships’ routes (map: Kennedy Elliott)

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WashingtonPost
Wikipedia

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Photo of the week: Dubai fell in love with a new kind of oil

Yes, we all now the United Arab Emirates love oil. Dubai is not different. Or is it? Recently it let fall its eye on another kind of oil: waste cooking oil. This February, Neutral Fuels LLC made a deal with the municipality to deliver 100% bio-fuel for the municipality vehicles. Waste cooking oil is treated to be used in vehicles without any changes to the engines and it will cost no more than conventional diesel. Using biofuels made from waste oil results in a lower carbon footprint of driving the vehicles. For Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, it is one way to reach his own ambitious plans to make Dubai a sustainable city. Yet, it is not the ideal solution. If they want truly sustainable transportation, they better rethink the transportation system drastically instead of feeding their cars with just another type of oil.

Neutral fuels LLC made a deal to replace diesel with its biofuel based on waste oil in the municipality vehicles (photo: automiddleeast.com)

Neutral fuels LLC made a deal to replace diesel with its biofuel based on waste oil in the municipality vehicles (photo: automiddleeast.com)

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BusinessInsider

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Photo of the week: Solar eclipse challenges Germany’s grid

Seen as a bad omen by old cultures, the solar eclipse last Friday was enough reason to make some people worrying. Germany, highly reliable on solar energy generation, faced a serious challenge. The country has around 37gigawatts installed photovoltaic capacity -a typical nuclear reactor is 1gigawatt. In a timespan of 75 minutes, solar power output of 21.7 gigawatts dropped to a low point of 6.2 gigawatts. When the eclipse was over its apec, the output increased again with 15 gigawatts, according to TenneT (one of the four transmission net operators in Germany) this is triple the usual rate. This effect was enlarged because the eclipse started in the morning when insolation (amount of sun rays falling on earth’s surface) was not so high, but ended around 11:30 AM when insolation is much higher. The whole effect was amplified because of the bright weather that day. Thanks to careful preparations, the German grid didn’t experience any problems. They put alternative power sources including coal, gas, biogas, nuclear and hydroelectric energy pumped from storage in action to fill in the gap. Some big industrial facilities such as aluminium plants, which are very energy intensive, temporarily lowered their demand. The solar eclipse was a unique test which is relevant for all of us, since we’re going towards more sustainable energy generation which make us more vulnerable to changes in nature. But there’s nothing to worry about -the German engineers have shown we can handle it.

The solar eclipse on March 20th posed a serious challenge to the German electricity grid (graph: Opower)

The solar eclipse on March 20th posed a serious challenge to the German electricity grid (graph: Opower)

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DW
GreentechMedia

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