US Carbon Emissions Dropped; Wind Power May Provide 18% of World’s Electricity; Japan & Spain Launch Offshore Wind Projects; 8 U.S. Governors Sign Agreement to Boost EVs

U.S. carbon  emissions dropped to its lowest level in nearly two decades last year.

The 3.8% decrease to 5.29 billion metric tons in 2012 came despite an expanding economy and growing population, according to Reuters citing Department of Energy data released Monday. Reduced energy use and a warm winter in 2012 that reduced demand for heating in the residential sector were cited as reasons for the emission drop.

The drop is the biggest in a non-recession year since the Energy Information Administration, a division of the Department of Energy, started tracking carbon dioxide emissions. It also comes as the amount of energy consumed relative to GDP fell 2.4% last year from 2011 as GDP jumped 2.8%.

Governors in eight states signed an agreement to boost EVs by installing more charging stations, introducing tax breaks for consumers and adding EVs to government fleets.

The eight governors, including those in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, hope to put at least 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on their roads by 2025, reports the Washington Post.  Collectively, those states represent about 23 percent of the U.S. auto market.

Wind of power may provide 18% of the world’s electricity in 2050, a huge jump from the 2.6% turbines provide today, according to IEA.

The 18% also is a boost from 2009 when the Paris-based International Energy Agency noted that wind power may only provide 12% of global power, says Bloomberg. But to realize these gains spending on new wind farms would have to jump to about $150 billion annually. Last year it was $78 billion.

The International Energy Agency credited better wind technology and a ‘changing global energy context’ for its revision.

Spain’s wind energy sector celebrated the introduction of its first offshore wind turbine despite a decrease of government subsidies amid a struggling economy.

The five megawatt turbine, measuring 505 feet tall with 205 foot long blades, can satisfy yearly energy needs for 7,500 homes, reports The turbine stands at the end of a dyke on the Canary Islands and is expected to be certified in March, which will allow it to be deployed to the electrical grid.

While Spain is ranked fourth world-wide for installed capacity of its wind energy, the faltering economy and tight controls over spending has reduced traditional state subsidies. This has resulted in all new wind turbines being erected outside Spain, according to Ignacio Martin, executive president of the Spanish Group Gamesa, which developed the turbine.

The turbine highlights the potential of offshore wind. Deep seas surrounding 5,000 miles of coastline in the country makes it challenging to build more wind turbines. But Gamesa manufactures the turbine’s parts in Spanish factories, with more 4,000 employees. Spain’s unemployment rate is just over 26%.

Japan builds floating windmills off the coast of Fukushima.

The country’s goal is to generate 1GW from 140 offshore wind turbines by 2020, utilizing its abundant coastline resources, according to the New York Times.

The Japanese government is funding the first three turbines to the tune of $224 million, and then a coalition of 11 companies plans to commercialize the project, including Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Shimizu and Marubeni.

Researchers at Tokyo University, using computer simulations based on weather data, have estimated that harnessing wind in deeper waters off Japan could generate as much as 1,570GW of electricity, roughly eight times the current capacity of all of Japan’s power companies combined.

NRG will sell freestanding, customizable solar power structures that go beyond the traditional rooftop solar panels.

The NRG Solar Canopy is touted for its ability to reduce costs and installation time while allowing for greater customization, according to a release from NRG Energy. Hurricane Sandy inspired the development as a way to address power needs during grid emergencies, according to Tom Doyle, president and CEO of NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy.

The solar canopy can be used at universities, hospitals, gas stations, banks, stadiums and bus stops, as well as remote areas such as parks, islands and farms, according to the firm.  Four models will generate anywhere from 2.44 kW to 7.32 kW of power and measure from 7.5 feet x 27 feet to 22.5 feet x 27 feet.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is using the solar canopies throughout its complexes, customizing them to blend in at luxury pool cabanas, a golf starter shack, recreation and food and beverage areas. Residential solar canopies will be sold starting next year.





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