I write from London on a January day that feels more like April. Across Europe, people have been asking whether this will be the ‘winter that never was’, bathed as we have been in warm Atlantic air. (Though we now expect that northeast wind to arrive and make the temperatures tumble.) Meanwhile the unseasonable mildness is helping concentrate more and more minds on the need to combat climate change. (And may unseasonable weather have influenced thinking in Washington? Suggestions are that changes in climate policy may be announced in President Bush’s State of the Union address.)Perversely, as acceptance of climate change becomes better established, so the question is being raised about whether we have we left it too late. Is our energy ‘obesity’ simply too advanced for any leaner, greener energy regime to restore us – and our climate – to good health?
Far from it, according to a new study, being launched at the end of January by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council. Together with a an international team of partners they have modelled a global energy scenario showing that, starting right now (and without recourse to nuclear) a combination of high-efficiency combined cycle gas turbine generation, much more extensive use of combined heat and power, plus massively expanded use of renewable energy and other distributed energy would cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2050 in an economically feasible manner. Read a taster of the report on page 56.
Also in this issue, Nancy Wimmer provides a fascinating insight into the way that telecoms and information technology innovations are offering new opportunities to villagers in developing countries – and making new requirements of rural, renewable electrification that will take it beyond the solar home system for lighting and radio/TV.
And on the subject of innovations, Harvey Wasserman (page 20) profiles a man who has spent his life pushing at the barriers of what is technically possible – Stanford Ovshinsky. Together with his late wife Iris, Ovshinsky pioneered flexible, amorphous silicon solar PV, inspired partly by a vision that his technology would take electric power to the furthest corners of the world.
One part of the world where renewables are moving especially fast is in China, from which Jun Ying reports on page 64.
With very best wishes for 2007 from the Renewable Energy World team.
Renewable Energy World