Unlike in the U.S., the upcoming Copenhagen Climate negotiations are being taken seriously in other parts of the world. There are different motivations for different countries, to be sure, but there is nothing like the looming threat of extinction and drowning to focus the mind. However, Global Warming/Global Meltdown (of the Greenland ice-sheets) will have a huge impact on humans in the next century - raising ocean waters by 20 feet (at least) is looking like a highly probable even unless the rate of CO2 pollution severely halted in the near future. If you are curious, here is the paper by James Hansen that spells out why the 350 ppm of CO2 limit needs to be respected, based on the recent (well, last million years) of climate data. The science of paleoclimatology shows the inter-relationship between previous CO2 concentrations and air/ocean temperatures and ocean levels. The paper is 20 pages, contains science stuff (but also has lots of graphs); here is the summary of this paper.
"Paleoclimate data show that climate sensitivity is ~3 deg-C for doubled CO2, including only fast feedback processes. Equilibrium sensitivity, including slower surface albedo feedbacks, is ~6 deg-C for doubled CO2 for the range of climate states between glacial conditions and ice-free Antarctica. Decreasing CO2 was the main cause of a cooling trend that began 50 million years ago, large scale glaciation occurring when CO2 fell to 450 +/- 100 ppm, a level that will be exceeded within decades, barring prompt policy changes. If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm. The largest uncertainty in the target arises from possible changes of non-CO2 forcings. An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects. "
For example, the Maldives Islands did their scuba session as part of the 350.org event on October 24 - they are reportedly saving up money to buy themselves a home in some other part of the world. The Maldives are a group of 1192 islets, 200 of them inhabited, about 600 miles south of India in the equatorial part of the Indian Ocean, with a very minimal average height above the high tide mark. Global Warming and Global Meltdown will make them as as attols/coral reefs, unless they start building up some of the islands/put dikes around them. After all, take some muck from the ocean floor, pump it onto land and buildup up the height of a few islands. Or move.
Another group of countries under the threat of drowning are the northern European countries - Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, as well as lots of Northern Germany, Southern Sweden and Norway, lots of Finland, Great Britain, parts of Ireland and the Baltic Sea Coastal regions of Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland. These areas are very flat, and subject to flooding, and parts of The Netherlands are already below sea-level. Unlike many other low lying coastal regions (Nile Delta, Niger Delta, Mekong Delta), the northern European areas are highly industrialized, relatively (or significantly) affluent, and they do not like the idea of building up even more massive diked areas and living behind sea-walls. But, if needed, they will do this. However, they would prefer that sea-levels stay at present levels.
The upcoming COP15 negotiations are aimed at replacing the ineffectual Kyoto treaty with a new arrangement that takes Climate Change much more seriously, and which will incorporate the latest in science to avoid such a catastrophe. Copenhagen, a potential drownable city, seems to be a good place to hold these negotiations, and what's more, the population seems to understand/comprehend that it is drownable. And that if nothing is done about CO2 pollution, it's going to be time to convert from dairy farming to fish farming in rapid order.
Denmark's economy stands to significantly gain from converting to a sociatey/world based on renewable energy, and in particular, wind turbines and energy efficiency. The world's largest wind turbine manufacturer - Vestas (that's essentially all that Vestas makes) -was founded in Denmark, and they employ thousands of people in Denmark in manufacturing and R & D, as well as in their corporate headquarters. Danish banks and engineering/financial/technical consultants are also quite the industry in themselves, and obviously they are reliant on a growing world wind industry. There are a number of other companies, notably LM Glasfiber (world's biggest manufacturer of wind turbine blades) who are a part of the wind industry. Numerous other small and medium sized businesses are part of the Denmark-German wind industry complex. Siemens, one of the world's biggest electrical companies, bought up the Danish firm Bonus (wind turbine manufacturer), and have significantly expanded the "Bonus" line/business. Siemens will sell more offshore turbine capacity than any other company for the next several years (notably their 2.3 and 3.6 MW units). There are 20 Bonus 2 MW offshore turbines that were installed in 2000 in Copenhagen Harbor - now an iconic landmark of the City.
Denmark's wind industry actually does not sell many wind turbines in Denmark any more. The country was one of the first to use Feed-In Laws, and they have the highest per capita generation of wind derived electricity of any country. At present, about 150,000 families (out of a population of 5.5 million) have ownership in these turbines, or about 75% of the total capacity for wind turbines in the country. Thus, most of the 5700 commercial scale units are not owned by corporations. Almost all onshore units are owned by individuals, villages, cooperatives and small partnerships - generally, only the large, very capital intensive offshore farms are owned by big corporations/utilities. Due to the widespread nature of wind turbine ownership and the fact that most of them have been paid off, wind turbines are quite popular, and quite profitable. Most new onshore units are upgrades (for example, replacing a 450 kw unit with a 2 MW unit). The country gets over 20% of its electricity by wind, and plans electricity via wind to account for over 50% of the national supply by 2030. Via arrangements with Norway and Sweden (Nordpool), excess electricity generated during high wind periods is stored in pumped or deferred hydroelectric storage systems, and then used when the winds are not as vigorous. Much of the new wind energy will be supplied via offshore wind farms.
Following the completion of two large offshore wind arrays (Horns Rev, Nysted), the wind turbine installation rate "went into hibernation" in the country, a result of a conservative government that was installed due to the outage of Denmark's population at continued immigration occurring when domestic unemployment was present. The conservative government installed via the backlash at unemployment-immigration FUBAR had its share of "climate nutcases" who were opposed to wind turbines (and also the concept and science of Global Warming) and thus the proposed 3 other large offshore wind farms proposed in 2000 (when the liberal government was in power) were "mothballed". However, that situation has changed, and two large offshore wind arrays have been (Horns Rev 2, 209 MW) or are being (Rodsand 2, 207 MW) installed. Both of these feature Siemens 2.3 MW turbines - Horns Rev on monopoles, and Rodsand on gravity foundations. Of note is the "low" price quoted for Rodsand 2 - only $625 million, or about $3 million per MW of capacity (the usual cost is $4 million per MW), and possibly so cheap due to "piggybacking" off of the Rodsand 1 wind farm infrastructure (166 MW). Of the two sites, Horns Rev 2 is further offshore and incredibly windy - average wind speed is 10 m/s at hub height, average waves are 3 meters (peak to trough, or about 10 feet). The Horns Rev 2 project is also more expensive (further offshore, monopoles versus gravity foundations), but will have a net energy output of close to 45%; it started commercial operation in the spring of 2009. The Rodsand array is situated in the Baltic Sea in an area with lower wind speeds (near 8.8 m/s), but closer to land and in more sheltered waters than for the Horns Rev locations. It will be operational by mid-2010, and bring Denmark's offshore capacity to near 850 MW. The next scheduled wind farm will be near a 400 MW rating (for 2012) and then 800 MW (2013).
All of these big offshore wind farms are massive undertakings, but privately owned. They are difficult if not impossible to see from shore, and visibility in these waters is rare anyway - lots of fog, rain and snow and combinations of these. However, a smaller array (7 x 3 MW Vestas V90 turbines) is being installed (to be operational by the COP15 conference). Denmark is essentially composed of two major islands - Jutland (larger, more westerly) and Zealand (most easterly) connected by the central island of Odense - see map. Between Odense and Zealand is a large channel known as "The Great Belt". An 18 km bridge system (2 parts connected via an island (Sprogo) connector of road and rail was built between 1988 and 1998. The small central island is now located next to the small "mini-farm" of the 7 Vestas wind turbines. The bridge and the wind farm are both owned by a 100% government owned corporation.
of the hundreds of V90 wind turbines installed offshore to date, all been installed on monopole foundations - in essence a giant pipe rammed into the ground (usually sand). However, at the Sprogo wind farm, "gravity" foundations - large concrete structures weighing about 1800 tons - are employed in the 9 meter deep water. These 12.25 meter tall structures are further weighed down with rock ballast, and then a 65 meter tall steel tower is placed on these concrete structures, followed by the nacelle and blades. The blade tips are only 25 meters (82 feet) above the water at their lowest point, and "only" 115 meters (377 feet) at their highest point. Due to the offshore location, only minimal turbulence is expected, and there is very little difference in wind speeds at 25 meters or 115 meters above the water. Gravity foundations tend to be less expensive than monopole foundations, and in Denmark, there are over 150 commercial scale turbines that have been assembled using such foundations. The units are located about 450 meters apart in an east-west direction, parallel to the bridge. The turbines are technically owned by the Danish government, but are operated on a capitalist mode, using borrowed money and Feed-In Rates to obtain the low cost financing. The wind farm is expected to supply, on average, more than enough electricity to supply the "Sund & Baelt" connector, especially the electric train lines (two of them) and the lights on the fog prone 18 km system.
As an added feature, these turbines will be VERY visible to those traveling on the connector (car or rail). The turbines are expected to have at least a 36% operating rate, which is indicative of very strong winds in this region (the V90's work best in winds of more than 8.5 m/s at hub heights - they are designed for fast winds). The units are expected to be online before the COP15 sessions get underway. Since Denmark has staked out their future (economically, export, technology) on wind turbines to a large degree, this may be viewed as a bit of an advertisement for their main export for all of the assembled dignitaries, although the Middelgrunden wind array (20 x 2 MW) in Copenhagen does a fine job at that, too. It also could be seen as the start of an offshore wind rush in "The Great Belt", which is over 60 km long in a north south direction and between 16 to 32 km wide. Technically, the Samsoe wind farm (23 M, cooperatively owned) is also in this region.
Anyway, who would have thought the Danes to be such show-offs? Probably other Danes, for starts.......Anyway, for those of us pondering what to do on the shores of Lake Erie in NY, while Ontario had to shut down offshore applications (too many!!!!), it's food for thought. And it shows that those infernal Feed-In Laws rule, while those scheming with tax exemptions, tax credits and other "bribes ("inducements") for the really rich" as well as quotas appear to be "stuck" in the doldrums, looking a bit foolish!
The Path Ahead from Paris
1 hour ago