11 January 2010

McDonald's tries to make beef greener, and other company, industry and supply chain news

Top Stories

China Tries a New Tack to Go Solar.reliability high.
Already leading in PV and wind power, and moving fast in nuclear, China is trying to catch up in concentrating thermal solar energy technology. "The technology, which is potentially cheaper than most types of renewable power, has captivated many engineers and financiers in the last two years, with an abrupt surge in new patents and plans for large power operations in Europe and the United States. This year may be China’s turn." But not all agree. "Concentrating solar power 'is not very suitable for China,' wrote Li Junfeng, a senior government energy policy maker, in a detailed e-mail reply to questions this week. Yet the private sector in China is racing to embrace the technology anyway." Mentions eSolar/Penglai Electric deal. From The New York Times.

McDonald's seeks to cut cows' methane emissions.reliability high.
McDonald's "which uses beef from 350,000 cattle a year for its burger meat, is to conduct a three-year study into methane emissions from cattle on 350 farms across Britain. . . . The initiative will be the first of its kind to provide accurate data from working farms and is being run by the E-CO2 Project, an independent rural consultancy and energy-auditing company. A sophisticated greenhouse gas calculator accredited by the Carbon Trust will measure results over a three-year period. The first readings are due in April and specialist consultants will advise farmers on the best ways to reduce emissions and increase efficiency. If successful, the initiative will be extended to McDonald's in Europe. . . . The scheme is part of a broader attempt by Easterbrook to rebrand McDonald's in the UK as a more socially aware and environmentally friendly organisation." From The Guardian. [See our blog post on the subject here.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Solar and Biomass Plants to Work in Tandem in China.reliability medium.
"China’s plans to build 2,000 megawatts of solar thermal power using technology from a California company, eSolar, will also include the construction of biomass power plants to generate electricity when the sun sets. The solar and biomass plants will share turbines and other infrastructure, reducing the projects’ cost and allowing around-the-clock electricity production" "Under terms of the deal announced Saturday in Beijing, eSolar will license its 'power tower' technology to Penglai Electric, which will manage the construction of the power plants over the next decade." See New York Times Green Inc. blog.

Budget airlines have lower carbon footprint.reliability high.
"Analysis from the travel search engine Liligo.co.uk has shown that low-cost airlines offer a lower carbon footprint to travellers due to a number of factors" including more seats/more passengers per plane and newer planes. "the average economy class passenger could reduce their carbon footprint around 20% by flying easyJet over British Airways in Europe." See 1888PressRelease.

Watchdog bans Finnair's 'eco-smart' ad claim.reliability high.
"The offending poster showed an Airbus flying over the Finnish coastline with text stating: 'Be eco-smart. Choose Finnair's brand new fleet'. It attracted two complaints, which argued that the term 'eco-smart' implied that flying was environmentally friendly, and that Finnair had not proven that its planes were greener than other fleets." From BusinessGreen.

LEED awards show why 'green' criteria need reform.reliability medium.
Points out that U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification does not necessarily result in buildings with the best environmental profile. "The organization’s 2009 LEED for Homes award winners – the very best of the best, in USGBC’s judgment – prove that its reputation for stressing technology over other factors is well-deserved.  Of the six non-military winners, only one is in what the popular rating service Walk Score considers to be a walkable environment.  Only one (the same) shows up on Google Earth as richly served by public transportation.  The rest are in locations best described as varying degrees of automobile-dependence and sprawl." Lists the winners and shows how car-dependent some of them are. From NRDC blog. [Post comments that "Perhaps this is not surprising given that the organization’s membership, board and committees are overwhelmingly populated by representatives of the building industry, their architects, and their consultants." Not heavy on environmental impact or urban planning experts.]

33% of Water Utilities Adopting Smart Meters.reliability high.
"About a third of water utility managers say they are in the early stages of adopting smart meters, despite the fact that 71 percent of water users say that having more detailed information on their water consumption would promote better water conservation, according to a report from Oracle." More highlights from report. See Environmental Leader. Access report here (registration required).

[Crossposted from HaraBara.com courtesy of HaraBara, Inc. Copyright © 2010 HaraBara, Inc.]