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ICEM 2011 Blog

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9 Nov 2011 – From Conference Convenor, CSIRO's Alberto Troccoli
Two worlds, two energy profiles.
The energy worlds of Brazil and India were opened up and explained in two valuable insights to lead proceedings on day two of the conference.
    Prof Roberto Schaeffer, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, profiled the current and potential energy sector in his vast South American country where renewables dominate across much of the energy sector, but are also vulnerable to climate change. Some 45% of energy in Brazil is from renewables, and 85% of this is hydro. The hydro component features 800 hydro plants, 200 of which are major contributors to a nation-wide grid linking all plants. Storage capacity in the larger dams can handle short-term seasonal dry spells with capacity of six to 12 months, with wind and hydro complementing each other in north-east Brazil. Climate change has the potential to reduce water flow to the reservoirs, with the added effect of evaporation.
    Ethanol, another vital component, has been fuelling the Brazilian transport sector since 1931 and flexi-fuels dominate today. As Roberto indicated on Monday, rising temperatures under climate change will not be an issue for sugarcane production but soya grown on 40% of land used for biofuels may be impacted. Soya is grown for soyapowder and bio-diesel is a by-product of this.
    On the demand side, air-conditioning will be a major user, requiring 20-25% of supply by 2035.
    Prof V.V.N. Kishore at the Centre for Energy and the Environment, TERI University, explained India's energy sector and the gap in energy consumption between rich and poor. He said India has huge solar radiation potential, and a primary use of solar is the production of solar steam for cooking. There are concerted efforts to build a national solar grid by 2022.
    The country has a national plan for managing climate change, but a casualty of mitigation is that proposals to go ahead with country's first carbon capture plant have been cancelled.
Science in the sectors
    Parallel sessions this morning brought out new developments in science supporting the crossover between energy and climate – Challenges in weather and climate; energy resource assessment in planning, forecasting and storage; and energy demand, smart grids finance and insurance.
    Something of an outlier was Diogo de Gusmao's coastal assets and extreme sea-levels, centred on modelling developed by the UK Met Office, and now being applied in Australia where Diogo is based with studies for Townsville, Gladstone and the Gold Coast.
How can the energy sector adapt?
    Where the rubber hits the road for the energy and climate sectors is adaptation planning - and UK and international reference points were cited when Shianti Majithia from Energy and Climate Advisory, UK and Ferenc Toth spoke about vulnerability of and adaptation in energy systems to climate change and extreme events.
    This is where the community mostly sees energy – when the services aren't generating. More about this tomorrow because it is a significantly important part of the science behind our conference.
Posters and Panels
    Fourteeen posters were presented, and thanks to their authors delegates got to discuss work ranging from mini-hydro turbines systems developed in Manitoba, to seasonal forecasting for solar radiation and biomass research in Nigeria. Posters were judged today and the winners will be announced on Friday.
    Panel sessions today generated some interesting concepts. Apologies to all for such a long-titled opening session – 'What will be the new role of meteorology-climate in the planning and operations of future energy systems in the face of climate change in both developed and developing countries?'
    To wrap up the day and continue the theme of looking to the future, our panel topic centred around education and training the next generation of experts – 'Plans for an Energy and Meteorology Degree'

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8 Nov 2011 – From Conference Convenor, CSIRO's Alberto Troccoli
Energy and Meteorology Conference opens on a landmark day for Australia.
On the day Australia's Clean Energy legislation passed through the Senate (http://www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au/), proceedings opened in the first International Conference on Energy and Meteorology.
    It was a privilege to be able to welcome our international and Australian participants, intent on understanding the processes and opportunities that will come from a closer relationship between the energy and climate sectors.
    As I indicated in my opening remarks, the take home message from this conference should be that already there is a lot of science happening on what could simply be described as risk management. That was reflected in the keynote and parallel session presentations that followed through the day.
    Opening the conference, Dr Subho Barajee, the Deputy-Secretary of the Australian Government's Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, discussed the place of policy in creating an environment conducive to responsible development and science in the nexus between the energy and climate sectors. He outlined the Australian Government's legislation establishing an environment for the country's clean energy future.
    Planning must consider the response to climate change. Increasing frequency of extreme events will ultimately lead to increased costs for all, and Subho recounted one event, the January-February 2009 heatwave in the Australian state of Victoria that sent temperatures in Melbourne to 46C, and electricity demand well above previous peaks. A climate fingerprint is evident in the quarter by quarter emissions inventory. "What's enough information to make the right decisions and manage uncertainty," he asked.
    Dr Bev Ronalds, who leads CSIRO's Energy Group and has had a lifetime working in the energy sector, outlined what she described as a 'rainbow' of options for Australia's energy mix through to 2050. Historically, generation in Australia has been dominated by black and brown coal but the future mix will be very different in meeting peak demand while the demand is becoming harder to deliver. CSIRO is engaged in a range of research projects in renewables, and in solar is leading integration of this renewable into the network. The goal is to help accelerate the uptake of a range of new technologies.
Supporting decision making
    Assistant-Director of Operations at the Bureau of Meteorology, Neil Plummer, and John Zillman, the former head of the Bureau completed the morning session with outlines of current work that brings the energy and weather-climate sectors together - within Australia and in the Pacific region. Advances have brought greater weather forecasting detail to Australians - four day forecasts are now equal to tomorrow's forecast of 20 years ago. Neil spelt out common complaint - user uptake of the information being generated for decision-making, and this has become an elevated focus of Bureau activity.
    John Zillman, also a former President of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), recounted the evolution of weather and climate services from the 1850's, and the events in history since then that sparked step changes in research, including advances in spatial and in-situ observations. There's also been an evolution in international processes under the WMO umbrella among them the Global Framework for Climate Services.
    In her presentation in the parallel session, CSIRO's Nina Hall, a Brisbane-based social scientist, covered two reports due out in the next weeks centred on interviews with 2,000 Australians to gauge their baseline support for renewable energies, work intended to assist proponents of renewable energy developments work with communities.
If you knew then what we know now....
    Two keynotes completed the day. Prof. John Dutton offered his approach to support decision-making in a world of data flowing in from the myriad of observational and modelling products, and getting information to the decision-maker. He summed it up this way - Observe the present, organise the past, foresee the future. Or, using the analogy of the pilot "show the pilot what he needs to know now".
    Ralph Sims lead the chapter on energy supply in the IPCC Fourth Assessment report, the Integration chapter on the recent IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy for Climate Change Mitigation and will be leading the Transport chapter in the 5th Assessment. IPCC is a four-letter word that has been dominant in his household. He covered much of the territory in the Special Report - http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/ - concluding with an analysis of energy inputs into global food production, and the opportunities to save energy. Some 30% of total global energy is used to produce food, and one third of food doesn't get consumed. Yet, the world will need 70% more food by 2050. With the passing of the Clean Energy package today, Ralph didn't overlook the fact that Australia is catching up to New Zealand!
    All in all, a terrific day of conversations - big picture plays, science at the edge presentations, discussions in the breaks. What we had hoped for day one of this event.

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7 Nov 2011 – From Conference Convenor, CSIRO's Alberto Troccoli
More than a year after planning began, the first international conference bringing together research streams in the climate and energy sectors is underway on Australia's Gold Coast.
    This week 170 scientists, engineers, planners and energy industry supply and generation representatives will be together to broadly discuss future energy generation and storage, rising consumer and industrial demand, and the intersection with research in weather, seasonal climate variability and climate change.
    With delegates from 50 countries, interest hinges on development of renewables of wind, solar, hydro and biomass, continued growth in traditional energy sources of coal and gas, and rising demand for energy, estimated to increase 48% by 2030.
    Setting the scene was our opening workshop. Ian Muirhead and Ian Grant, from the Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, discussed observation networks and reporting stations relevant to wind and solar generation. Sven-Erik Grying, from Denmark's Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy outlined the development of technologies to measure wind speed, among them lidars - something researchers have only had access to in the past four years.
    Sue-Ellen Haupt, from the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) presented case studies of science supporting wind farms - and how operators could respond to wind 'ramps' – greatly elevated wind forces arriving with cold or warm fronts with the potential to shut down turbines. She said operators were seeking more detailed forecasts. "They want to know what is going to be available tomorrow and what will be available an hour from now," she said. Advance knowledge is critical to secure the great efficiency from turbines.
    NCAR is working with the US generator and distributor Xcel, which operates 50 wind farms in the US — 3,585 turbines and more than 3 million customers.
    Brazil's Roberto Schaeffer, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, reported that 1.3 billion people in the world still don't have access to electricity. Wind is becoming increasingly important, evident in this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Renewable Energy Generation and Climate Change Mitigation (click here for the resport).
    Conventional energy planning, he said, assumes that climate variables will be unchanged but he past may not be a good teacher for the future. Hydro generation is Brazil's dominant energy source (90%), along biofuels sourced from sugarcane, soybeans and sunflowers.
    Laurent Dubus, from France's largest power company, Electricité De France, provided extensive examples of the impact of climate events on the energy systems. For instance, the heatwave on 2003 that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives, the accompanying drought the impacted dam storages, and the relevance of forecasting that equipped generators and supplies with knowledge of sub-zero temperatures were needed to manage extreme demand spikes. Optimisation of power offer-demand is complex and temperature-demand forecasting is critical. Case studies included French Guyana, and La Reunion in the Indian Ocean and their reliance on renewable sources. He indicated that by next year one-third of French islands will source their energy from 'fluctuating' renewables.
    CSIRO modeller Jack Katzfey closed the workshop with a terrific overview of the role of regional climate modelling - understanding what is happening on the ground in a process called downscaling. He's had experience at several levels - forecasting wind conditions in the America's Cup for the Swiss team Alinghi - telescoping down from 60kms to 8 kms to one kilometre. He also worked with colleagues on the Climate Futures for Tasmania project (click here to view the reports), considered a pathfinder for regional climate planning in Australia, and more recently in the Pacific modelling wind speed changes.
    All in all a tremendously informative day for the 60 delegates, and a terrific platform for the coming four days of presentations, thanks to a core of researchers from the energy and climate sectors looking to bridge issues integral to the world's energy future.

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ICEM 2011 "Twitter"

  • [7 Nov 2011] Energy aplenty-Energy and Meteorology Conference. 170+ delegates, 50 countries. http://www.icem2011.org/ICEM2011_Final_Programme.pdf
  • [7 Nov 2011] Vulnerability of energy systems to weather and climate events is expected to increase
  • [7 Nov 2011] Energy sector driving global weather, climate forecasting improvements. http://www.icem2011.org/ICEM2011_Final_Programme.pdf
  • [7 Nov 2011] Today's trillion-dollar energy sector began around pre-historic camp fires. http://www.icem2011.org/ICEM2011_Final_Programme.pdf
  • [7 Nov 2011] Conventional energy planning assumes climate variables will remain unchanged.
  • [7 Nov 2011] 1.3 billion people on the planet don't have access to electricity. International Conference on Energy & Meteorology
  • [7 Nov 2011] Renewable energy use will triple from 2008-2035, and generation will rise from 19%-32% in 2035 (World Energy Outlook, 2010)

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For further information, please contact:   Ms Aurélie Favennec, ICEM 2011 Secretariat
C/- Conference Action Pty Ltd, PO Box 576, Crows Nest NSW 1585, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9431 8632   —   Fax: +61 2 9431 8677   —   E-mail: info@icem2011.org

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