US-China Trade Dispute Disrupts Solar Success

Next week, the International Trade Commission (ITC) plans to announce its initial decision regarding the expansion of the trade restrictions on imported Chinese, Taiwanese and other solar cells and modules in response to a complaint filed by SolarWorld earlier this year. This decision comes on the back of a previous finding in 2012 that imposed both anti-subsidy and anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese-manufactured solar cells. Barring an eleventh-hour agreement to settle the claim, the solar industry in the U.S. is going to suffer from this litigation. And unless this trade dispute is settled soon, both sides will lose out.

via Renewable Energy News –

Flag it

A small flag stopped the Norwegian coastguard from ending our protest. Now a different one could frustrate them even more.
Our brave activists have now delayed the giant oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen for over 80 hours, first by occupying the rig and now by occupying the drill site with the ship Esperanza. And as long as they stay there, Statoil can’t drill.

Oil rig, showing home port on side.

With a short drilling ‘window’ before the ocean freezes over again, the clock is ticking.  Arctic oil drilling is uber-extreme on a good day, and Statoil likes pushing the boundaries to prove its technical capacity. This time they’ve overstretched.
And there’s an interesting subplot to this story, and it concerns those little pieces of cloth that we call flags. The Esperanza is Dutch-flagged, which makes sense because Greenpeace International is based in the Netherlands.

However Statoil’s rig is flagged to the Marshall Islands, a tiny country located in the northern Pacific Ocean.  So what on earth has a small Pacific island got to do with this?
Foreign flagging of vessels is actually quite common. It allows companies like Transocean (which owns the rig) to use loopholes and strict confidentiality agreements, avoid environmental responsibilities, reduce costs, and dodge taxes. You only need to stick to the rules of the flag state, and in the Marshall Islands these rules are pretty weak.
The Deepwater Horizon rig which blew up in 2010 the Gulf of Mexico was also flagged to the Marshall Islands. It was also owned by Transocean. The US Coast Guard’s investigation into the spill found two parties with oil on their hands: Transocean, the oil rig’s owner, and the Republic of Marshall Islands shipping registry, which was responsible for overseeing safety on the rig.
This flag business already caused a big problem for Statoil earlier this week. While the rig is in international waters, the Coastguard needs to ask the flag state if it can board the rig and remove peaceful protestors. The Marshall Islands are not easy to look up in a phone book, and it took some time before the coastguard got permission to board the rig and remove our climbers.

In the Marshall Islands, I suspect there is some pretty intense debate going on behind closed doors about this little flag.  This is after all a ‘drowning state’, a real victim of climate change.  Some time in the next few decades the capital, indeed perhaps the whole country, will become uninhabitable as it sinks beneath the waves.  This will be long after the people have left, as it will soon be impossible to grow food as sea water affects the groundwater.

The Marshall Islands have been really strong advocates for urgent action to reduce emissions. Makes sense when your children won’t have a home.  But taking the dollar from Transocean today has exposed a nasty little crack in their logic. Tony de Brun, it’s not worth it!

The Marshall Islands could always remove their flag, forcing Transocean to find another ‘flag of convenience’.  That’s what illegal fishing boat operators do when they are being chased.  I’d love to see an oil company adopt the same tactics, a final statement of moral bankruptcy.

Sigh. These struggles just go on and on.  Right now the Norwegian government is trying to impose a ‘safety zone’ around the drilling site, which is not just illegal (they have to give ‘reasonable notice’), but stupid: there is no rig there, just our beloved Esperanza!

We will keep fighting: this little episode is far from over.  The Arctic is worth protecting.  As an Inuit leader said so poetically: “We have a right to be cold!”

via Greenpeace news

Philips Lumileds CoB Arrays Hit 10,000 lm at 100 lm/W for Downlights and Outdoor/Industrial Fixtures

The LUXEON CoB 1211 achieves cool white output exceeding 10,000 lm and 100 lm/W at 70CRI, while achieving a light emitting surface (LES) of only 19 mm.

“The LUXEON CoB 1211 has the best combination of a small Light Emitting Surface and high efficacy at its specific lumen package,” said Eric Senders, Product Line Director at Philips Lumileds.

LUXEON CoB products enable low cost luminaire design that results in the highest flux LEDs with low thermal resistance substrates. They reduce heat sink needs and with an existing ecosystem of compatible holders, drivers and optics, LUXEON CoBs enable faster time to market.

For more information on the expanded LUXEON CoB arrays, visit Register at for a listing of compatible holders, drivers and optical solutions.

About Royal Philips:
Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2013 sales of EUR 23.3 billion and employs approximately 112,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at

via LED-professional

Rapid Solar Growth Offers Hope In Fight Against Climate Change

The news couldn’t have come at a better time. With the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) poised to announce enhanced air quality standards for coal and natural-gas fired power plants next week, new figures released today show solar energy in America continues its remarkable growth.  Driven by strong year-over-year growth in the utility and resi

via Renewable Energy News –

Iceland Moves Closer to Powering European Homes With Geothermal Energy

Iceland is moving closer to plugging European homes into the volcanic island nation’s geothermal and hydropower reserves via what would be the world’s longest power cable, according to the country’s largest energy producer.

via Renewable Energy News –

The Dos and Don’ts of Government Renewable Energy Projects

With billions of dollars of prospective markets for renewable energy and energy efficiency in the federal government sector, I am astonished at how uncoordinated companies are in this area. As one who guides federal facility managers, as well as companies aspiring to enter the market, I have some first hand perspective.

via Renewable Energy News –

Missouri University Transitions from 69-Year Old Coal Plant to Geothermal Energy

A World War II-era power plant that has provided energy to much of the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus for nearly seven decades is powering down as the university makes the transition to a geothermal energy system.

via Renewable Energy News –

Listen Up: How Often Should I Clean My Solar Panels?

When someone gets a new rooftop solar installation, the second question they always ask is “how often do I need to clean my solar panels.” We’ll answer that question on today’s show — taking into account the different effects of rain, dust and electric rates (BTW, the first question people always ask is “how do I read my electric bill;” but that’s a topic for another show).

via Renewable Energy News –

The “get lost zone” – a novel concept in international law

Action at Statoil Rig in the Barents Sea. 05/27/2014 © Greenpeace

Desperate times call for desperate measures. That seems to be the thinking of Norway’s Petroleum Ministry, which yesterday issued a highly irregular order in an attempt to bring an end to the Esperanza’s peaceful protest in the Barents Sea.

For several days now, the Greenpeace ship has been outfoxing the rig Transocean Spitsbergen, the rig hired by Statoil to drill the northernmost well in the world.

On Tuesday, our activists boarded the rig to protest Arctic oil drilling. This happened while it was still in transit, which means that legally it was classed as a ship. Only its ‘flag State’ – the Marshall Islands – had the right to remove them.

The Norwegian government came to Statoil’s rescue by getting permission from the Marshall Islands to send its troops onto the rig and end the peaceful protest.

The Esperanza then moved onto the proposed drill site, which is located in what’s known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Under Article 58 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ships have the right to go wherever they want in the EEZ.

There are exceptions to this, including when a coastal State builds an offshore installation and establishes a 500 metre safety zone around it. But this kind of safety zone interferes with freedom of navigation, so “due notice” must be given before it comes into force. Under Norwegian law companies like Statoil must ask for a safety zone at least 30 days in advance so that it can be properly announced.

Statoil forgot to do its homework and filed the application just two days in advance. But once again the Norwegian government was willing to clean up its mess: yesterday evening, it declared an immediate safety zone at the very spot where the Esperanza lies. Of course, this zone has nothing to do with safety. A more proper description would be “get lost zone”. History will record this as the invention of the Norwegian Petroleum Ministry.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. Will the Norwegian government reject our well-founded appeal against the safety zone order, take a leaf out of Russia’s book, and board the Esperanza in defiance of international law? Or will Statoil lobby the Netherlands, the flag State of the Esperanza, to allow the storming of the ship, even though the Dutch government disputes Norway’s right to drill in the Spitsbergen archipelago?

Only time will tell. But in the meantime you can help. Write to the Norwegian government at and help decide how this story ends.

Daniel Simons is Legal Counsel, Campaigns and Actions at Greenpeace International.

via Greenpeace news