News Bites Around the World

In Korea, the city of Seoul plans to build rooftop solar at 1,000  schools for a total of 100 megawatts by 2014, reports the Korea Herald. 200 schools will get solar this year.

Schools and other public buildings will also get lighting retrofits with LEDs as well as urriculum on how to save energy.

The country is also launching a "Hydrogen Town Pilot Project" where the energy infrastructure uses hydrogen fuel cells and waste hydrogen emitted from manufacturing petrochemical products and from power plants. The new town is viewed as a pilot for a nation-wide rollout of hydrogen based power. The town will have 150 homes and 10 commercial and public buildings, and should be ready by year-end.

In February, South Korea passed legislation to begin a national cap-and-trade program in 2015 with a near unanimous vote. The 8th  biggest carbon polluter in the world, emissions have been doubling each year since 1990. Its goal is be among the top five green economies and has a target of 10% renewable energy by 2030. 

In the US, Abengoa (MCE: ABG) has been selected to design and build a 200 MW solar PV plant, one of the largest in the world, The Imperial Solar Center. 

The $360 million project is slated for south central California’s Imperial Valley and will be online in late 2013.

Abengoa is in the midst of constructing the 280 MW Solana solar concentrating plant in Arizona, the first US solar plant that stores energy and produces dispatchable electricity throughout the day.

It’s also building the 250 MW Mojave Solar Project in San Bernardino County, California.

In India, conglomerate Welspun Energy will invest $1 billion for two wind projects over the next five years, one 100 MW and the oter 750 MW. The company plans t have a 1.7 GW portfolio of wind and solar projects, supplying 9 million homes. The company is India’s largest solar developer.

In Japan, in a rare move, the government is asking retailers and manufacturers to voluntarily stop production and sales of incandescent lights this summer to help avoid power shortages. Industry says it will oblige. The country’s national plan calls for all lighting products to be replaced by LEDs by 2020. 

Tell that to the Republicans in the US, who are sticking to their guns to repeal the US law that increases the efficiency of incandescents. The House Energy and Water Bill, currently moving through Congress, would block the Department of Energy from enforcing the law, even though it creates jobs and expands the economy. 

In fact, China is investing 2.2 billion yuan to subsidize the use of energy efficient bulbs, including LEDs, in its 26.5 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) package this year to stimulate use of efficient products, automobiles, household appliances, and electric motors. It’s part of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) to cut energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16%, and carbon  emissions per unit of GDP by 17% from 2010 levels, by 2015.

2084 electric garbage trucks will be in Beijing by the end of this year, manufactured by Beiqi Foton Motor Company, one of the major electric commercial vehicle makers in China. The 8-ton trucks have a maximum speed of 80 kilometers per hour, and a range of 150 kilometers per charge. Unlike fossil fuel-powered garbage trucks, these are quiet.

Singapore released a national climate change strategy, which centers on energy efficiency to reduce emissions, noting the country is too dense for nuclear and too small for much solar and wind.

Although the strategy says government will "study how it to best reduce emissions," it plans to focus on incentives to improve building energy efficiency and increase the attractiveness of public transportation to get people out of cars. Its Land Transport Masterplan calls for 70% public transport use by 2020.

It will also emphasize public awareness programs to encourage purchases of efficient products through booklets like, "The fight against climate change begins with You," and a 2-part documentary that educates the public on climate change.

Singapore has a target of reducing carbon emissions 7-11% by 2020 and is considering a carbon tax.

Finally, in Pakistan, China-based United Energy Group plans to invest $3 billion to develop a 500 MW wind project among others, its first outside oil and gas in China.

In March, Pakistan’s Alternative Energy Board announced it would launch a new wind project every month this year through government and private partnerships. Last year, the country launched a feed-in tariff for foreign-financed wind projects.  It has huge wind resources, estimated at 346 GW by the US National Renewable Energy Lab.

The country is in an electricity supply crisis because of a shortage of oil and gas supplies and dwindling water reserves in hydropower dams. This is its first foray into renewable energy, with a target of reducing emissions just 5% by 2030.

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