Posted by: JohnnyRook | August 14, 2008

EcoNoticiario # 8: Protesting Offshore Wind Farms in Spain; Growing Biofuels in Costa Rica

In EcoNoticiario #8: In Spain: protests against offshore wind power, and “streamlining” the review process for Environmental Impact Statements. Brazil to help Costa Rica with biofuels. A new study shows that Chile could produce 40% of its power with renewables by 2025. A Colombian editorial on air pollution and the Olympic Games in Beijing and oil-smeared penguins, sea lions and sea birds on the Uruguayan coast.

Today’s Spanish words:

Declaración de impacto ambiental–Environmental Impact Statement

energía renovable–renewable energy

aerogenerador–wind turbine


lobo marino–sea lion


Danish offshore wind farm

Offshore wind farm in Denmark

Offshore Wind Power Generates a Storm of Protests

Even the cleanest energy leads to controversy. This time it has broke out in Cadiz with echos in Galicia and Tarragona because of the 31 offshore wind farms planned for 2012. They will produce 2,800 megawatts, the equivalent of 3 nuclear power plants.

But no town wants to see the silhouette of these giants from their shores. There is fear also of the impact on beaches, birds and fishing. The tuna fisherman worry that their prey will leave. Environmentalists–from Greenpeace and Ecologistas in Acción to the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO) have raised many doubts and demand detailed studies in order to avoid committing any further assaults on nature.

But the wind power companies say the time is right:

Firms like Acciona, Capital Energy, Iberdrola and Enerfin have spent three to five years developing the technology adapted to each area. According to the CEO of Capital Energy, Carlos Cuadros, “The technoloy is now mature and we are ready to fix the windmills to the seabed and transport the electricity to shore. The first wind farm could be built in four or five years.

The only task remaining is to determine which areas are to be built in and which declared off limits. This will be done via the “Spanish Coast Strategic Environmental Study”. Meanwhile the opposition is preparing its response.

Opposition has been expressed by the three city councils of the area: Barbate, Conil y Vejer, the Fishermen’s Guild, business associations and the local branches of the CCOO and UGT trade unions and the neighborhood associations.

The conflict of interests has gotten to the point that [Capital Energy] met with Ecologistas en Acción to “show them that the fishermen are much harder on nature than the windmills themselves, relates Carlos Arribas, of Ecologistas en Acción. “If the fishermen are opposed to the windmills it’s because they will keep them from trawling, which is illegal, he observed.

The experience of countries such Denmark, which installed it’s first offshore wind farm in 1991 and which now has six in the North Sea, will help to foresee what the real risks are. “What has happened there is that artificial islands of life have been created around the windmill’s pylons”, explains Heikki Willstedt, Expert on Energy and Climate Change y for WWF/ Adena. “They are places where one cannot fish and the animals take refuge there.” Even so, Wellstedt believes that it is necessary to do a prior study in each zone to determine how it will be affected. “For example , bluefin tuna –one of the species fished for in Spain–is very sensitive to current dynamics, which could be changed by the new structures.

If all goes according to plan, construction work on the first offshore wind turbines in Spain could begin in 2010.

El País, Madrid August 8, 2008

Economic hard times are always a threat to the environment regardless of the political bent of the party in power. In Spain, governmental fears about declining construction (the basis of the recent Spanish economic boom just as in the US) has led to a proposal to weaken Environmental Impact Statements.

Government to Speed Up Environmental Impact Statements

The Government wants to speed up Environmental Impact Statements in order to avoid putting the breaks on infrastructure investments. Environment Minister, Elena Espinosa, announced that the proposal, which will be presented to the cabinet tomorrow, will be done without diluting environmental standards. Environmentalists have criticized the Executive branch’s proposed measures to alleviate the economic crisis as “misguided”.

The Minister has declared that the proposal will have an enormous economic impact as it will impact nearly all the the nation’s infrastructure projects and important industrial investments. “Environmental standards will not be lowered,” she emphasized. But she added that the main goal is to speed up the process as much as possible in order to avoid slowing down investment, given that they now “take a long time”.

Greenpeace España issued a statement saying that “the measure will make the environment the latest victim of the economic crisis”, while Ecologistas en Acción (Environmentalists in Action) declared: “The Government is clearly showing its support for unsustainable economy by approving measures that promote growth at the expense of the environment”.

El País, Madrid August 13, 2008


Renewable Energy Could Supply 40% of Chilean Demand by 2025

By 2025, renewable forms of energy could satisfy 40 percent of the electrical demand of Chile’s Central Interconnected System (SIC), which supplies 70% of the country, according to a study released yesterday by the Universities of Chile and Federico Santa María.

Renewable energy could supply by that time some 40,000 gigawatt hours (GWh), a number close to the 41,464 GWh of demand that the National Energy Commission projects for all of 2008, according to the study: Potential contribution of non-conventional forms of renewable energy and energy efficiency to the the electrical grid from 2008-2025.

Nevertheless, by 2025 renewable energy production will cover only 40% of demand due to growth in consumption, which in that year will reach around 106,000 GWH, the report states.

Energy efficiency measures could contribute an additional 7,400 megawatts of power in 2025 in a country, 65% of whose power is hydroelectric, and which lacks the deposits of petroleum and natural gas that abound in other regions of South America.

According to Jorge Pontt, one of the study’s authors: “If timely measures had been adopted a few years ago to bring forms of renewable energy online, today we would not be paying such high prices.”

El Universal, Mexico City, August 8, 2008

Costa Rica

Lula Promises Help in Producing Biofuels

Yesterday, Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, promised Costa Rica technical assistance and technological support for the production of biofuels.

Sugarcane field

The assistance will be provided by representatives of Embrapa, a well-know Brazilian government company specializing in agricultural research.

Lula da Silva declared that the country meets the requirements to lead the “Central American biofuel revolution. He emphasized the country’s emphasis on environmental protection and its long tradition in growing sugar cane.

For his part, [Costa Rican president, Oscar] Arias, said last night that President Lula had told him that they are designing very tiny plants with a very advanced technology. “The idea is to produce biofuels using sugar cane. In the north and south of the country we could really help out small farmers by adopting the use of these plants, he explained.

La Nación, San Jose July 31, 2008


South American sea lions

Petroleum-covered Penguins Arriving on the Uruguayan Coast

Besides these birds which travel from the south of Argentina to Brazil, since June more than 200 sea birds, sea lions and turtles have died, according to a member of S.O.S. Fauna Rescate Marino (S.O.S. Marine Fauna Rescue).

Although it is unclear, the worst moment seems to have been on June 4th when the Greek cargo ship Syros collided with the cargo ship Sea Bird, flying the Maltese flag, at anchor in the Río de la Plata about 20 kilometers from Mondtevideo, causing a oil spill from its damaged tanks and a black stain approximately 20 kilometers long, according to official reports..

It is assumed that much of the fuel is spilled when deliveries are made at sea, but there is no official confirmation of this.

”This cannot be seen as a normal occurrence that takes place every year during the penguins migration. It would be appropriate for the three nations involved, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to admit what is going on and to take possible protective measures, declared Richard Tessore of the marine wildlife rescue organization to AP.

”In any case,”, said Tessore, “oil-covered penguins are continuing to arrive right now and in certain areas there are oil slicks”.

El Tiempo, Bogota, August 14, 2008

Although I usually only post news reports specifically related to environmental questions in the Hispanic world, I thought readers of EcoNoticiario might find this editorial from Bogota’s El Tiempo on the environment and the Olympics in Beijing of interest.

90% of Cars Could Be Parked

Environmentally speaking, China looks like one of those indifferent students who wants to pass all of their clases, but only by acing the final exam.

Acccording to the UN, during the last decade it has consitently been the number two polluter of the planet’s climate emitting 6.046 [billion] tons of carbon dioxide. That is why, with the Olympic Games about to begin, its leaders are “racing” to make sure that the world’s athletes neither feel it nor notice it. First, they tried to staunch the “the wound” with damp cloths and then they built ecological stage sets. For example, the Olympic Village is lighted with solar panels and recycles rain water.

But just as the sun cannot be covered with a finger, the air pollution built up over years, combined with the humidity and the scarce seasonal wind has become a danger. That is why the authorities, in order to keep the stadiums from being covered again with a greyish toxic fog such as happened 8 days causing 3,600 athletes to go to South Korea to train, last Thursday suggested that 90% of the 3 million cars that circulate in Beijing might have to stay off the road.

Since July 20th the Chinese had been applying the more moderate “pico y placa” [Literally “rush hour and license plate”. Restrictions on vehicular traffic during rush hour according to the final number of a vehicles license plate introduced by Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus JR] but this is an extreme solution that could go into effect as soon as the Olympic torch is lit. pero esta es una solución extrema que podría comenzar al mismo tiempo que se encienda la llama olímpica. The closure of cement factories has also been ordered if they fail to reduce the emissions of polluting gaes by 30 percent. 30 por ciento de las emisiones de gases contaminantes.

But the fear is that it will not be enough and so they have an arsenal of silver iodide rockets, which will be fired into the clouds to make the rains come and cleanse the air. All to make sure that during the 17 days of competition at least, Beijing passes the test and the world sees the cleanest air in China.

El Tiempo, Bogota August 3, 2008

[All translations by JohnnyRook]

Crossposted at Daily Kos


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