The Solar Price Revolution

"The Solar Price Revolution": A commentary by Klaus Töpfer

A silent revolution is under way. In November, Dubai announced the construction of a solar energy park that will produce electricity for less than $0.06 per kilowatt-hour – undercutting the cost of the alternative investment option, a gas or coal-fired power plant. The plant – which is expected to be operational in 2017 – is...
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A Heady Cocktail for Growth that Lacks Tonic

Wider den Wachstumswunschpunsch: ein Einwurf von Philipp H. Lepenies

Growth, too, isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays, it has to be ‘qualitative’, ‘pro-poor’, ‘inclusive’, ‘sustainable’, ‘green’, or even ‘smart’. And if one attribute doesn’t suffice, a mix of all of them will do: “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” (EU Commission), “sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth” (UN) or “inclusive, pro-poor, green growth” (World Bank)....
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Solar Energy in Germany and China: Dynamics of a Policy-Driven Market

In its most recent report, the German government’s Expert Commission on Research and Innovation criticised Germany’s feed-in tariff for renewable energy and the associated costs for electricity consumers based on two central claims. Firstly, the rapid diffusion of renewable energy – so the commission argues – has no effect on the reduction of greenhouse gas...
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Who’s Afraid of Open Debate?

Political decisions on controversial research subjects such as plant genetics and fracking are highly relevant for society at large. That’s why the rules that govern such research should not be dictated by the interests of activists. Ralf Nestler is absolutely right to call on researchers to actively participate in the public discussion of their work...
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The Race against Climate Change – A Commentary on the Climate Conference in Lima

What progress was made at the Climate Conference in Lima? What further steps need to be taken on the way to Paris? Will we succeed in concluding a new climate agreement in a year’s time? How will this agreement be enforced? What about greenhouse gases and other pollutants besides CO2? And how exactly can the...
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Climate Action Programme – On the Need for ‘Structural’ Change

Part 1 of a blog series on climate protection and structural change through participation by Katleen de Flander and Ina Richter In recent weeks, the issue of climate protection has been high on the national and international political agenda. At international level, participants at the UN Climate Conference in Lima last week laid the foundations...
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More Water for the Middle East, More Energy for Europe? A Comparative Look at the Water-Energy Nexus

Access to energy and freshwater are essential requirements for any society that wants to develop and prosper. These two factors depend on each other: energy is used to produce freshwater and water is needed to produce energy. This interdependency is better known as the ‘water-energy nexus’. For example, it takes 1,000–2,600 kilowatt hours to pump...
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Promoting Transparency in Climate Engineering Research

Research into technologies for manipulating the planetary environment in order to forestall the effects of climate change is rapidly proceeding from small laboratory and desktop studies to the field. Concurrent with these developments, there have been calls for the establishment of governance mechanisms to ensure that the risks and concerns that this research presents are...
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Fugitive Emissions in Shale Gas Production Negate Climate Benefits

It is often claimed that a higher ratio of natural gas to coal in our energy mix can mitigate current carbon dioxide emissions and serve as a ‘bridge’ to future renewable-based scenarios. This is because the carbon footprint of energy produced through the combustion of methane is about half that of energy produced from coal....
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