Russia ratifies Kyoto

– treaty will now come into force

The Russian lower house, the State Duma, has followed Russian President Putin’s lead, and has ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change by a 334-73 vote. The Protocol still has to pass through the upper parliament, but this stage is expected to be a formality.

Russia’s move means that the Protocol, which has already been ratified by 126 other countries, has now been adopted by countries representing more than 55% of global greenhouse emissions – thereby crossing the threshold required for it to come into force.

Once Russian ratification is finally complete, the Kyoto signatories have 90 days to begin making cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, in order to achieve an average of 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012.

Neither of the world’s two largest polluters, the US and China, are part of the process, however. The US because President Bush pulled out of the agreement in 2001, and China because developing countries are not required to participate at this stage.

The Kyoto Protocol is very much a first step in the global fight against climate change. At the end of this year, the international community is set to gather in Buenos Aires for the ‘COP10’ meeting to discuss further policy steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a much more dramatic way – perhaps as much as 50%-60% – once the first Kyoto commitment period (2008-2012) has concluded.

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Boom, bust, and boom again?

Kilowatt-scale turbine generators have seen a winding path of adoption in their few years of commercial availability. Yet more than 3000 microturbines are now at work in buildings, industrial sites and landfill sites from California to South Korea. Here, Tony Hynes predicts a straighter path ahead to help bring the benefits of microturbine-based CHP to ever more energy consumers.

A Citibank near San Diego uses microturbine heat output for the building’s heating and cooling. On-site CHP is much more efficient and economical than utility-delivered power

While many large commercial facilities and industrial plants have their own on-site combined heat and power (CHP) generators, the world’s vastly larger population of small and mid-size businesses continue to rely on the inefficiencies of on-site boilers and centralized power generation.

Gensets based on truck engines and small turbines have been deployed in CHP applications with some success, but most are still scaled far too large for hotels, office buildings, college campuses, light manufacturing and millions of other similarly sized businesses and public facilities. So what is fairly new in CHP is size: instead of tens of megawatts, microturbine generators, first introduced in 1998, create tens of kilowatts ” the right size to supplement the energy needs at those small and mid-size businesses and public facilities.

The relatively young microturbine business has seen both boom at the turn of the millenium and bust in the worldwide economic slowdown that followed ” and now, perhaps, boom again.

At Los Angeles-based Capstone Turbine Corporation ” who first brought microturbine technology to the market in December 1998 ” sales of their 30 kW and 60 kW systems are expected to double in the fiscal year ending March 31 over the last one. With more than 3000 of these one-moving-part marvels sold worldwide, prospects continue to grow, particularly in north-eastern US, California, Italy, Japan, South Korea and other Asian nations.

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