ANOTHER PLANET

It seems a number of recent murders in France are not linked to underworld crime such as drugs, gambling and prostitution as first supposed by French Police – but are connected to a multi-billion Euro fraud targeting VAT discrepancies on permits used in the EU’s Carbon Emission Trading Scheme. The European Police Agency, Europol, have estimated that the frauds have cost the EU E5 billion. Last year a German court in Frankfurt sentenced six men to jail sentences for their part in a E300 million fraud.

New research from two doctoral students at  Columbia University hopes to. shed some light on the slow take up of electric cars.  Researchers Garrett Fitzgerald and Rob van Haaren looked at the assumption that range anxiety is one of the main barriers to the electrification of the U.S. car fleet, the pair used a 2011 Acenture survey that showed that US drivers think they need a range of 272 miles in order to consider purchasing an electric car as their next vehicle. That’s in sharp contrast to our actual driving needs and habits which actually showed that 10% of individual car trips are under a mile, 95% of trips are under 30 miles, and 99% of all trips are under 70 miles: Urban households’ trips averaged 8.5 miles, while rural households’ trips averaged 12.1 miles. Car commuting distances were found to average just around 12.6 miles nationally, with 95% below 40 miles and 99% shorter than 60 miles – which means that an electric vehicle currently could handle the vast majority of the individual trips Americans make with no problem, especially if a recharge was available at the other end for the small amount of journeys between 30 and 70 miles. With many American households owning at least two cars it seems possible for a majority of households to have an EV as their second gas vehicle. But why do Americans crave so much range? Fitzgerald and van Haaren speculate that it’s a ‘freedom and comfort’ standard that Americans are particularly imbued with. In addition, globally consumers seem to still feel unsure that they know enough about EVs to buy one. To help change American’s knowledge base about EVs, Fitzgerald and van Haaren are planning to use  using only solar power to charge an electric vehicle as they cross the the USA giving lectures on EV technology. They will drag a trailer that can hold 7 kWp of flexible solar panels and batteries for extra juice.

Employees could save businesses and public bodies £500m and cut 2m tonnes of C02 through ’empowerment’ according to the Carbon Trust.  The Trust has  launched an online tool to help organisations, and says engaging employees in cutting energy use, paper waste and travel could save small business more than 15% in energy costs.

The United States has, for the first time, moved “to impose catch limits for every species it manages, from Alaskan pollock to Caribbean queen conch”. That means each of the 528 commercially fished species that the U.S. oversees will have distinct catch limits that prohibit overfishing and protect stocks that are rapidly being depleted.

Welsh environment minister John Griffiths has identified food waste as a key driver in exceeding a 50% recycling target in 2012 as he urged people in Wales to recycle more. According to the minister, recycling rates in Wales have risen from just 7% in 2000 – 2001 to a peak of 48% between April to June 2011 – making recycling rates in Wales the highest in the UK. However, he warned that there was still a “long way to go” to meet the Welsh Government’s target of 70% recycling by 2025, adding that increased food waste recycling was needed.

Shanks has opened the first of two mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plants in North Cumbria as part of a 25-year £700m waste disposal contract with Cumbria County Council.  The facility based at Hespin Wood in Carlisle has opened three months ahead of schedule and aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by 80%. The second plant is currently under construction in Barrow and is expected to be operational by April 2013. Edie.net reports that the County Council deals with around 250,000 tonnes of household waste per annum. Each MBT plant has the capacity to process 75,000 tonnes a year, enabling up to 150,000 tonnes of waste to be processed through the facilities.

The NSW Court of Appeal has rejected implied limits in CO2 emissions case saying that Environment Protection Licence conditions will not be easily implied, and in any event must be consistent with the statutory licensing regime under which the licence was created and it seems Environment Protection Licence-holders now have more certainty about what their licence conditions are. In the case,  Peter Gray and Naomi Hodgson, two members of the climate change action Rising Tide, claimed that the Environment Protection Licence (EPL) issued to the Bayswater Power Station’s operator, Macquarie Generation, is subject to implied statutory restrictions that limit permissible CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and restrict coal consumption at the Power Station. The NSW Court of Appeal summarily struck out the action, unanimously holding that the imposition of such implied conditions or limitations was incompatible with the existing statutory regime for EPLs. Macquarie Generation v Hodgson [2011] NSWCA 424;

The UK’s National Grid is paying millions of pounds to wind farms – to STOP producing clean energy. It seems National Grid cannot cope with the excess of electricity on windy days and last year spent £25 million turning off wind power, equating to 149,983 mega-watt hours or 1.49% of the total energy produced from wind.

The biggest wave energy facility in the world has been given the go-ahead for a site of the North East coast of Scotland in a project jointly funded by a French company Alstom and Scotland’s SSE. The generating machines (the AWS III) will be 45 metre wide giant ‘doughnuts’ and will begin operating in 2016 and the wave array will be fully operational by 2020. The rubber machines expand and contract as they are hit by waves creating pressurised air that drives turbines in ducts.

Image:  www.freefoto.com

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