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Italy's Green Giant Enel to Tap Turkey's Geothermal Reserves

Enel Green Power is the first big foreign firm to commit to entering Turkey's poorly managed geothermal industry, allegedly rife with worthless licenses

By Julia Harte

Mar 10, 2011
Geothermal power plant pipes

ISTANBUL—At the end of January, Turkey's fledgling geothermal energy industry attracted its biggest investor yet: Italian renewable energy giant Enel Green Power.

It marked the first time a large foreign firm committed to tapping into that nation's geothermal reserves. But local experts say it could be risky business even for an energy pro like Enel, in part because in Turkey many government permits for geothermal drilling contain no geothermal assets at all.

Will Enel be a successful pioneer in what some experts in Turkey say is a poorly managed sector?

The multinational corporation, which has approximately 800 megawatts of installed geothermal capacity worldwide, partnered with Turkish energy company Meteor, which held 142 exploration licenses for areas in western Turkey.

Under their agreement, permits were transferred to Enel at a "nominal cost" so the firm could fund the exploration, said Ruggero Bertani, manager of Enel's geothermal business development.

Water Checks Deficient at Canada Oil Sands: Report

An Alberta government-sponsored scientific panel has backed claims that oil sands development is polluting waterways, and urges more stringent monitoring

By Jeffrey Jones,

Mar 10, 2011
oil sands mining Sunco

CALGARY, ALBERTA—A government-sponsored scientific committee studying water monitoring in Canada's oil sands has backed assertions that multibillion-dollar energy developments are polluting waterways and it urges more stringent oversight.

The report by the independent scientists, appointed by Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, said an incendiary study by water ecologists last year appeared to be right in its contention that toxic substances downstream from the developments do not occur naturally.

An industry-funded body had long said heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic aromatic compounds, or PACs, found in the Athabasca River watershed north of Fort McMurray, in northern Alberta, occurred naturally as bitumen leached into the river.

USDA Experiments Aim to Help Farmers Cope with Warming Climate

Scientists are hanging heaters over crop fields to simulate temperatures in 2050. Their goal: to understand climate impacts on food and help farmers adapt

By Catherine M. Cooney

Mar 9, 2011

Farmers fed up with climate change-induced heat waves, droughts and flooding may one day get to reap rewards of a unique U.S. government experiment that aims to understand how crops will adapt to even harsher conditions.

In a field in Maricopa, Arizona, about 35 miles south of Phoenix, a group of researchers at the (USDA) are simulating high temperatures anticipated to occur in 2050, using infrared heaters suspended above wheat plants.

The results of these experiments, they say, might tamp down future food crises by helping growers and ranchers manage their crops and livestock as temperatures change.

Saudi Arabia's Solar Ambitions Still Far Off, Even With New Polysilicon Plant

The oil kingdom's domestic solar industry — both in terms of manufacturing and installations — 'is very much yet to take off,' says industry analyst

By Maria Gallucci

Mar 9, 2011
Solar panel

Oil giant Saudi Arabia hasn't been shy about putting forward a vision to turn its massive potential for solar power into its second major energy export.

But the kingdom's ambitions and pronouncements have so far exceeded results. Though some projects are in the works, the country still doesn't generate any electricity from the sun's light or other renewable sources. Nor does it ship any solar equipment overseas.

So it is not surprising, then, that industry officials are responding cautiously to notions that a and much-hyped for solar panel parts will help the Saudis make use of solar energy at home.

Last week, Saudi-based Polysilicon Technology Co. — a joint venture between Saudi Mutajadedah Energy Co. and South Korea's KCC Corp. — said it had signed $380 million deal with two Korean engineering firms to build the polysilicon plant along the Gulf Coast.

EU Commission Report Urges 25% Carbon Emissions Cut by 2020

Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner, fended off intense pressure from lobbyists who opposed raising the target from 20 percent

By Fiona Harvey,

Mar 8, 2011
EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard

Europe's climate chief has beaten off intense lobbying from businesses to secure a key victory in the battle over greenhouse gas targets.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner, published on Tuesday afternoon her into how the EU can toughen its climate targets in a cost-effective manner, with a proposal that the EU could raise its current targets on emissions cuts from 20 percent emissions cuts to 25 percent cuts by 2020.

Despite pressure from business groups to remove the proposal, and retain a clear commitment to stick at the lower 20 percent target, it remained in the final draft of the "roadmap to 2050," ahead of publication.

What's Behind the Confusion Over Oil Sands Pipeline Capacity?

Watchdog groups have questioned why energy giant TransCanada has been using two different figures for the capacity of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline

By Nicholas Kusnetz

Mar 8, 2011
Pipeline

As planning for a controversial new oil sands pipeline through America's heartland intensifies, watchdogs have questioned why the Canadian energy giant seeking to build the project has been using two different figures for the pipe's capacity.

TransCanada's press statements and website material describe the proposed 1,959-mile Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline as capable of carrying approximately . But its regulatory filings with federal and state governments show that it would be able to hold almost double that amount, as much as 900,000 barrels.

Why the discrepancy?

TransCanada says it is normal business practice: One number is used for permit filings, the other to offer potential customers the commercial capacity that is actually for sale. But for opponents of the $7 billion oil project, the inconsistency raises issues of trust and credibility as a decision nears over whether to greenlight the massive project.

In Budget Battle, GOP May Choose to Protect EPA Climate Funds After All

Insiders predict that GOP leaders may compromise on the environmental front to avoid the government shutdowns that sullied the party's image in the 1990s

By Elizabeth McGowan

Mar 7, 2011
senator james inhofe

WASHINGTON—During this tenuous time when dozens of House Republicans and coal-state Democrats continue to castigate her agency as evil incarnate, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson seems to be heeding words of encouragement proffered by Rep. Norman Dicks.

"Don't be intimidated," the Washington Democrat told her during a recent appropriations hearing. "Do your job."

Jackson appeared as unflappable, patient and engaged as ever as senators and representatives doled out criticisms, quips and kudos during five total hours of intense questioning that began in a Senate committee last Wednesday afternoon and wrapped up with a House subpanel Thursday afternoon.

Both the and the had invited Jackson to their respective one-two punch of hearings to discuss the .

Unsurprisingly, however — with the federal government potentially on the verge of a shutdown — talk turned to the tumultuousness of unfinished business on the 2011 fiscal year budget.

Decades After Spill, Exxon Valdez Case Back in Court

An Alaska environmentalist is seeking to persuade a federal judge to compel Exxon to pay an unpaid $92 million claim, plus another $23 million in interest

By Yereth Rosen,

Mar 6, 2011
oil spill cleanup Exxon Valdez
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA— More than two decades after the Exxon Valdez supertanker struck a reef and unleashed the nation's biggest tanker spill, a lingering legal dispute about the disaster was back in court on Friday.

At issue in a U.S. District Court hearing in Anchorage is an unpaid $92 million claim by the U.S. Justice Department and the state of Alaska for what they consider long-term environmental damage unexpected at the time of the grounding.

The claim was made five years ago under a special "reopener" provision of the governments' 1991 civil settlement with Exxon, in which the oil company paid $900 million.

That money was paid over a decade into a trust account that funds environmental restoration projects and scientific work.

But persisting environmental impacts prompted the federal and state governments to present the reopener bill to Exxon Mobil, Exxon Corp's successor.

Ohio's Struggling Manufacturing Sector Finds Clean Energy Clientele

Bolt-maker Cardinal Fastener is a poster child for Ohio's manufacutring revival, with a new wind energy division that now makes up almost half its revenues

By Maria Gallucci

Mar 4, 2011
Wind turbine under construction

Tales of layoffs and cutbacks in Ohio's manufacturing sector are being eclipsed by a surprising new narrative, one of job growth and profits, as firms use old skills to court a new and 'greener' clientele.

Based just outside of Cleveland, is the epitome of the clean energy-driven manufacturing renaissance sweeping the Rust Belt state.

By adding a wind industry line to its production of hot forged bolts — which are used to build oil rigs, bridges, trains and construction machinery — the small firm has nearly doubled its annual revenues in less than four years.

Interestingly, the manufacturer's decision to enter the clean energy technology market was more happenstance than strategic.

Utah Climate Activist Found Guilty of Making False Bids on Energy Leases

Tim DeChristopher's sentence will be decided on June 23, but is unlikely to face the full potential 10-year sentence

By Bibi van der Zee,

Mar 4, 2011
Tim DeChristopher speaks to supporters.

Editor's Note: In advance of Tim DeChristopher's trial, SolveClimate News conducted exclusive interviews with the environmental activist on his civil disobedience. The video series can be viewed here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

An environmental activist was on Thursday found guilty on two felony charges after he disrupted a government auction of land for oil and gas exploration.

Tim DeChristopher's sentence will be decided on June 23 but is unlikely to face the full potential 10-year sentence, the prosecutor said.

Outside the courthouse, DeChristopher told press and supporters: "We know now that I will have to go to prison. If we are to achieve our vision, many more will have to join me."

Asked by one reporter whether he would do it again, he replied to cheers from the crowd: "I wouldn't change a thing. It had the initial impact I hoped for, where attention was drawn to the auction and the auction was reversed but all this [support] is more than I could ever have asked for."