Geoff Bennett - Editor

Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

Following on from 2010 being the equal warmest year on record, we understand 2011 is expected to surpass that. In many ways as our first article discusses, 2011 so far has produced some truly exceptional weather events. For example, the USA has experienced 98 natural disasters so far, double the norm of the 1990s, the Horn of Africa has seen the deepest drought in 60 years with drought also being experienced in Mexico, Texas and Central America. Southern Africa and Brazil on the other hand have experienced torrential rainfall and flooding. Higher temperatures = more energy = more evaporation = more moisture in the atmosphere = equals more rain. How much more proof I wonder is required for climate deniers to get the message that the time for business as usual is over…

Carrying on with this weather related theme, our next two stories examine in greater detail how the expanding dust bowls and water shortages are driving people to shift and how the issues of sustainability and security are completely interwoven.

But alas for many, the urge to continue with business as usual is stronger than taking heed of science and a changing climate. And sometimes it is as irresponsible as a government. Think of Canada and immediately the images of forests, a bear, wild salmon and a beaver flash before the eyes. That was until they started digging into the Alberta Tar Sands and producing what is described as the ‘dirtiest’ energy going. When you have an open cast mine the size of England, it calls for lobbying and green washing on a grand scale. Sadly, so successful has the Canadian government been in this regard, that for the average Canadian, environmental issues are no longer that important.

Our next two articles take a peek at some renewable energy news. The first is how the dramatic fall in the price of polysilicon – that is the stuff used to make photovoltaic (PV) panels, is stimulating a massive increase in interest in PV. Great for the end-consumer, but not so great if you are a manufacturer. The second is how New Zealand generation now has enough consents for new wind farms to see t well on the way to reaching its target of 90% renewable electricity by 2025.

Our next three articles take a look at some aspects of technology that will assist organisations reduce energy consumption.

The first is how dynamic window technology that changes transparency can better manage solar heat gain, glare and daylighting. We are also aware of an Israeli company that has a range of windows that can also generate electricity without any loss of functionality.

The second, is the role fluorescent lighting has and will continue to play in buildings. Sure, there will continue to be improvements in solid state lighting such as LED’s, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the time of the fluorescent is at an end.

The third is how fabric HVAC is more energy efficient that its metal duct counterpart. I don’t know about you, but I thought it would be the other way around, but apparently not – with fabric being a whopping 25% more efficient than its metal equivalent.

Our last article this week examines how a soccer ball has been developed that can generate and store electricity. The new ‘ball’ called sOccket is capable of building up enough electricity to power a LED light for 3 hours. With the Rugby World Cup nearly upon us, we wonder what the rugby equivalent might be capable of? I would certainly be interested to see Quade Coopers expression if it discharged in his delicates after an hour of being scrummed around by Richie McCaw.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.

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