Natural Disasters to Blame for 2012's Economic Losses
Well, the world didn't end in 2012, but it was definitely one of Mother Nature's most violent years in history. Natural disasters occurring across the globe in the last year account for more than half of 2012's economic losses, according to Impact Forecasting's latest Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report.
The report reveals that 295 natural peril events occurred around the globe in 2012 (257 in 2011), resulting in total economic losses of $200 billion, only slightly above the 10-year average of $187 billion. Insured losses in 2012 were 36 percent higher than the ten year average due to the size of the events that occurred in the US, which were higher than average insurance penetration.
"Despite growing support for 'the new normal' theory of a world dominated by rapidly escalating global catastrophe losses, our study highlights that 2012 returned to a more normal level of losses after the extreme economic and insured losses of 2011,” Stephen Mildenhall, Chief Executive Officer of Aon Benfield Analytics, said in a statement. While nominal catastrophe losses are increasing at an alarming rate, economic losses as a percent of global GDP – a measure appropriately normalized for inflation and economic development – has remained relatively stable over the past 30 years. The moderate level of catastrophe losses for 2012 is reflected in strong growth in reinsurer capital during the year."
Hurricane Sandy and a year-long drought were the most costly and devastating events in the US in 2012 accounting for an estimated $28.2 billion in insured losses across private insurers and government-sponsored programs, and approximately $65 billion in economic losses across the US, Caribbean, Bahamas and Canada. The most deadly event, Super Typhoon Bopha, occurred in the Philippines and left over 1,900 people dead. Fourteen other tropical cyclones made landfall globally in 2012 and major flooding impacted China and the UK, as well as some parts of Asia, Europe and Oceania.
"After a year in which Asia and Oceania sustained significant natural disaster losses, the focus shifted back to the United States in 2012,” Steve Bowen, Senior Scientist and Meteorologist at Impact Forecasting, said in a statement. “The country was hit by nine separate billion-dollar insured loss events, including Hurricane Sandy and the most extensive drought since the 1930s. Tornado activity was dramatically lower than 2011, which can partially be attributed to the drought. U.S. severe weather losses were close to the recent five year average and 46 percent less than the record losses seen in 2011. Finally, 2012 marked the seventh consecutive year that no major hurricane made landfall in the U.S.; a streak not seen since the 1860s."
The report concludes that the records from 2012 show that it was the eighth warmest year in world history since global land and ocean temperature records began in 1880.
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Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly