07_G15_InBox

Global Issue 15

Inbox EnErgy watch Trends around the world New cells to provide more life for mobile phones French company SunPartner has developed an ultra-thin, transparent solar cell module that can fit under a smart phone’s touchscreen, so that the phone can potentially remain charged with less time spent plugged into the mains. The company claims that the use of the new module could extend a phone’s battery life by 20 per cent and that it is working to improve this performance to 50 per cent. It still needs to convince smart phone manufacturers of the benefits, but it confidently expects to have its products in the market next year. Estimates suggest that mobile devices alone could account for 30 per cent of global electricity capacity in less than 20 years from now. Trade row over solar panels pits China against EU Disagreement between the EU and China over solar panels has shown little sign of abating, despite meetings between top trade officials from both sides aimed at defusing tensions and, potentially, setting the stage for a negotiated solution. The EU is China’s main export market for solar panels, making up nearly 80 per cent of Chinese export sales, according to European Commission data. In 2011 alone, China exported €21 billion-worth of solar panels and components to the 27-member bloc. However, the European Commission agreed on provisional anti-dumping tariffs – penalties imposed on exporters that sell goods more cheaply abroad than in their domestic market – on imports of solar panels from China, its second largest trading partner. The news met with criticism from Beijing, which argued that the duties are unwarranted and protectionist. EU member states will ultimately need to sign off on the final duties in December, assuming the Commission recommends maintaining them. Ironically, the ongoing growth in solar power investment in Europe, and elsewhere, has been greatly helped by the falling prices of panels. Geothermal power development spreads More than 4 GW of geothermal power capacity could come online worldwide between now and 2018, according to a new report. Apart from the USA, the Asia-Pacific region has the most reported capacity under development, followed by Latin America and Africa. A study by Navigant Research reveals that, at the moment, there are 56 projects in either active drilling or construction stages and all these are in the USA, the Philippines and Indonesia. But according to Mackinnon Lawrence, research analyst with Navigant, there are many more projects at early stages of development. The Asia Pacific region has a reported 7.4 GW currently in the pipeline, representing 40 per cent of the global capacity under development. Latin America and Africa account for a combined 3.8 GW of additional capacity under development, or 20 per cent of the pipeline. Climate map redrawn Four key strategies to try to limit global temperature increases without harming economic performance have been spelled out by the International Energy Agency in a new report, ‘Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map’. ■■ Targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport, so that there could be a clear reduction of emissions by 2020. The additional investment required would be more than offset by reduced spending on fuel ■■ Limiting the construction of coal-fired power plants, while investing in renewable alternatives ■■ Action to halve releases of methane from the oil and gas industry ■■ Implementation of a partial phase-out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies, which would account for 12 per cent of the hoped-for reduction in emissions “Climate change has, quite frankly, slipped to the back burner of policy priorities. But the problem is not going away – quite the opposite,” said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven. Australia feels the scorch of climate change Temperatures in Australia have been climbing ever higher, with scientists linking successive heatwaves to the high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which has now surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in more than three million years. Since December 2012, Australia has experienced its hottest day, hottest month and hottest summer since records began more than 100 years ago. The first week of January saw the national average maximums exceed 39˚C every day. The high temperatures continued into May, which is Australia’s autumn, showing national average maximum temperatures at 5.35˚C above the average for the time of year. New clean energy projects get funding A total of 28 new projects to increase clean energy use and access in developing countries have been awarded funding by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP). The projects include solar-powered coldstorage for fishing communities in Indonesia, solar-powered pumps for irrigation in Kenya and Burkina Faso, and improved energy efficiency in agriculture in China. REEEP projects have received their foreign funding contributions mainly from the UK, Switzerland and Norway. The latest approvals were costed at a total of €3.95 million. Harvard students design electricity-generating ball A group of Harvard students have created a soccer ball that captures energy generated by the forces exerted on the ball during play. Fittingly named the ‘Soccket’, the ball, using an induction coil and a magnet, rapidly oscillates when the ball is in motion, from which the energy generated is then stored on an on-board battery. This stored energy can then be used to power global thi rd quar ter 2013 www.global -br ief ing.org l 7


Global Issue 15
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