The voluntary carbon offset market doubled in size between 2007 and 2008 to $750m, according to a report (PDF) from New Carbon Finance and Ecosystems Marketplace, confirms that 123 million tonnes of carbon credits were bought and sold last year around the world. This is more than double the 2007 figures, of 65 million tonnes, worth $331 million. The average price for voluntary offset credits rose 20% to $7.34/tCO2 equivalent.

This is good news, of sorts. But the voluntary market is by far the smallest part of the carbon markets; in contrast the EU emissions trading scheme was worth $95bn in 2008. And, as the FT has previously reported, the voluntary market is the least well regulated, with offsets of very variable quality being sold in the past. Read more

The Government’s Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has been coming to the defence of recycling recently, addressing three key myths that have been circulating in the press.

Myth 1: Collecting and transporting recycling is bad for the environment as it causes CO2 emissions.

According to Dr Liz Goodwin, WRAP’s chief executive, this greatly overstates the emissions associated with transportation. “The impact of collecting and transporting is a tiny fraction of CO2 emissions, equivalent to 0.04 tonnes per tonne of recycled material.”

Dr Goodwin adds: “Current levels of recycling in the UK save 18 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This is equivalent to flying the population of Northern Ireland to Australia and back twice.” Read more

On Energy Source today:

Replaceable batteries: Pipe-dream or the future for electric cars? Read more

As reported in the FT over the weekend, the price of waste in the UK has surged this year. Good news for recycling, but what about the energy from waste (EfW) sector?

Higher prices for recyclable materials should reduce the volume of waste that is incinerated. On the other hand the higher value of specific materials is likely to encourage the more effective sorting of waste, which in turn will encourage more efficient EfW technologies such as anaerobic digestion to flourish. Read more

In the race to develop a low-carbon replacement to the internal combustion engine, the electric car has always had something of a handicap. Whilst we are used to refilling petrol engines in a minute or two, the standard time to charge a car-sized lithium-ion battery is 8-10 hours (reports of a 10-minute charge time seem a little far-fetched).

Hence the excitement about Better Place’s battery-switch technology, unveiled last week in Japan. The Silicon Valley startup has developed a $500,000 prototype ‘shuttle’, which can remove a dead battery and have the car back on the road with a fresh one in around 80 seconds, without anyone needing to get out of the car at all.

This would greatly increase the usability of electric cars, but raises at least two further challenges. Read more

On Energy Source today:

Clean technology: Riding the wave through the recession Read more

Wave power in the UK will overtake offshore wind power in five years, despite lagging far behind it today, the industry’s leaders have argued.

Martin McAdam, CEO of Aquamarine Power, predicts that his company can offer a commercially available device that will be competitive with offshore wind energy by 2014. In an interview with Reuters, he states that installations will be available up to 100 MW, enough to power around 100,000 homes. Read more

A long-delayed UK government announcement on smart meters has finally been delivered – albeit with some detail yet to be filled in.

But will they actually lead to reductions in energy use?

The short answer is yes, but not in the way that you’d think. Read more

On Energy Source today:

Greens get angry about Severn tidal power scheme: a report from the consultancy Atkins criticises shortlisted projects Read more

Electricity generated by burning coal rose last year, causing climate-change groups to turn more attention to carbon capture and storage (CCS), a largely unproven technology that could be the best way to mitigate coal-fired emissions.

Global hard coal production in 2008 increased by around 200 million tonnes (Mt), according to a market report from EURACOAL, the European coal industry association.The lion’s share of this increase came from China. The country increased its production by 160-170 Mt. Euracoal said that without the participation of China, the USA and Russia (both of which also have abundant coal reserves) “unilateral CO2 abatement efforts by other countries will be useless.”

Any global deal to mitigate climate change – the latest attempt will be negotiated in Copenhagen in December – seems to depend more and more on Chinese participation. Read more