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.

However quality does appear to be improving – New Carbon Finance and Ecosystem Marketplace emphasise that “more than 96% of offset credits were verified to a thirdparty standard in 2008.”

Related links:

Beware the carbon offsetting cowboys (FT, 25/04/07)
Guide to good carbon offsetting (FT, 25/04/07)

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.”

On Energy Source today:

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

Turning tide?

Price surge for recyclable materials should encourage more efficient energy from waste


Australia to build world’s largest solar energy plant (Reuters): PM Rudd announces plan to build a plant three times the size of the current largest

Andris Piebalgs: it may have peaked (Oil Drum): Outgoing EU Energy Commissioner suggests that oil production may have already peaked

US cap-and-trade plans risk European mistakes (Reuters): Industrial lobbying means most permits will be given away for free, risking a collapse in their value similar to that in Europe

Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill advances (ClimateBiz): detailing the breakdown of the proposed permit allocation for US cap-and-trade programme

Toyota cranks up heat on Honda with new Prius (Reuters): Honda’s Insight and the new Toyota Prius set to battle it out for the hybrid car market

A giant leap towards space-based solar power (LA Times): Pacific Gas and Electric Co. buys into a scheme to launch solar power collectors into orbit

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.

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.

On Energy Source today:

Clean technology: Riding the wave through the recession

Opec’s oil production rises: Is the cartel’s discipline crumbling?


British Columbia’s carbon tax survives (New York Times): The re-election of the architects of North America’s only genuine carbon tax suggests the policy may not necessarily represent electoral suicide.

The slavery of oil (Oil Drum): Analysis suggesting that an oil price of $200 a barrel may stall the global economy.

Cap-and-trade explained in fewer than four minutes (Treehugger): Video response to study that only 24 per cent of Americans can define cap-and-trade.

The next big thing in wind: Slow wind, huge turbines (Green Tech/CNet): Low-speed turbines are being developed to exploit less windy sites.

Cellphones, TVs undo efficiency gains: Study (Reuters): Demand for energy-thirsty gadgets, such as cell phones, iPods, PCs and plasma TVs, is undoing efficiency gains elsewhere, according to the International Energy Agency.

Global Warming Called Bigger Public-Health Threat Than Infectious Diseases (Bloomberg) Global warming is the biggest public health threat of the 21st century, eclipsing infectious diseases, water shortages and poverty, a team of medical and climate-change researchers have concluded.

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.

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.

On Energy Source today:

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

Moving China towards clean coal: coal production rises; carbon capture and storage plans accelerated

Baghdad agrees: Kurdistan oil will flow: agreement between Iraqi and Kurdistan governments allows commercial exploitation of the region’s oil reserves


UK “green” job market swelling amid recession (Reuters)

EU carbon prices seen on track to recover (Reuters)

Bioelectricity from corn may drive cars further than ethanol (Bloomberg)

How much oil have we used? (Oil Drum)

Obama budget sticks to auctioning all CO2 permits (Reuters)

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.

Energy Source is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Insight into the financial, economic and policy aspects of energy and the environment.

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« AugDecember 2014