16 February 2010

Top Stories

Bill Gates: We need global 'energy miracles'.reliability high.
"Gates called climate change the world's most vexing problem, and added that finding a cheap and clean energy source is more important than creating new vaccines and improving farming techniques, causes into which he has invested billion of dollars. . . . The world must eliminate all of its carbon emissions and cut energy costs in half in order to prevent a climate catastrophe, which will hit the world's poor hardest, he said." "Gates spent a significant portion of his speech highlighting nuclear technology that would turn spent uranium -- the 99 percent of uranium rods that aren't burned in current nuclear power plants -- into electricity. . . . He said he is backing a company called TerraPower, which is working on an alternate form of nuclear technology that uses spent fuel." From CNN. [Gates has been slow to turn his attention to climate change. Will his declaration that this is the planet's biggest challenge have any broader impact? Will it affect your business?]

Pinpointing Emissions at Their Source.reliability high.
The need to accurately measure GHG emissions and pinpoint sources is "creating a burgeoning global business for Picarro, a Silicon Valley company that makes portable analyzers that take precise real-time measurements of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases." The company "has sold a dozen of its $50,000 analyzers to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The China Meteorological Administration has bought 17 of the machines for greenhouse gas monitoring, while in California, the agency charged with implementing the state’s global warming law will deploy Picarro analyzers to measure methane as part of a statewide greenhouse gas-monitoring network." More about the analyzers and their applications. See The New York Times.

Consumer Demand, Tax Breaks Push Australian Companies Towards Green.reliability high.
"Eighty-two percent of companies surveyed for the Grant Thornton International Business Report said that consumer demand for greener goods and services is a core reason, and more important than tax incentives, for greening up their businesses." More highlights of report. From GreenBiz.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Ford Drives Dealers Toward Energy Efficiency.reliability high.
"Ford is kicking off a voluntary sustainability initiative for its Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers by appealing to them to reduce emissions and improve energy-efficiency at their facilities. Ford plans to test for best practices at three dealerships in diverse climates, as part of what it is calling the “Go Green” dealer sustainability initiative. The automaker is working with Rocky Mountain Institute" From Environmental Leader. [Supply chains extend both ways.]

For Venture Capital, Efficiency Is in Vogue.reliability medium.
"Investors shifted their money from capital intensive solar and biofuel companies into firms that use technology to reduce or monitor energy use, the Ernst & Young report found, because the funding requirements are lower and the returns are often faster." See New York Times Green Inc. blog. Press release on report here.

Manchester reconsiders its stance on bikes on trams.reliability high.
Interesting article about how "the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority voted to set up a new working group to "examine any safe ways in which cycles can be carried on trams". These folks will look into how other tram networks carry bikes, and how much it might cost to modify Manchester's tram carriages." To illustrate the silliness of the regulations activists had brought folding ironing boards, folding deck chairs and folding bicycles onto trams. Only the folding bicycles are forbidden. See The Guardian. [What does this have to do with how businesses respond to green challenges (HaraBara's focus)? It shows that citizen pressure can get even monopoly businesses to consider changing their ways. And stunts work.]

Government and Regulation

NREL: Feed-in Tariffs Legal in US When Certain Conditions Met.reliability high.
"The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has issued a long-awaited legal analysis of how states could implement feed-in tariffs and still comply with federal law. . . . NRRI's Hempling, like Brown, concludes that states can offer feed-in tariffs, but the programs creating the feed-in tariffs must be structured in a way that meets federal requirements. There's ample ammunition in the Hempling report to stoke either side in the feed-in tariff debate. . . . For now, the Hempling report clarifies for states that want to act how to do so. For those that want to act, it points them in the direction they need to go to meet FERC's constraints. For those states that don't want to act or are afraid of doing so, the report gives them sufficient legal cover to avoid taking the steps necessary. To paraphrase a 68-page legal opinion: 'Yes, we can implement feed-in tariffs in the U.S. under existing law, we just have to do it differently than everywhere else in the world.'" From Renewable Energy World. PDF of analysis here.

Cities Prepare for Life With the Electric Car.reliability high.
How San Francisco and the Bay Area are preparing for anticipated growth in plug-in electric vehicles. The region is expected to be a leader in adoption. Officials and industries are trying to anticipate and avoid problems. Mentions various preparations under way, including "at the headquarters of Pacific Gas and Electric, utility executives are preparing 'heat maps' of neighborhoods that they fear may overload the power grid in their exuberance for electric cars." "later this year P.G.&E. will lead a 'smart charging' pilot project, connecting 200 cars to special charging stations that let utilities control the electrical demand at a given moment." "In cities like San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and San Diego, a combination of green consciousness and enthusiasm for new technology seems to be stirring public interest in the cars." See The New York Times.

'Double-counting' of loft insulations undermines carbon dioxide savings.reliability high.
"Tens of thousands fewer home lofts have been insulated under the government's £2.8bn energy efficiency programme than companies such as British Gas have claimed, the Observer has learnt. Experts claim that double-counting means that up to 9.8m tonnes of carbon dioxide that the scheme is supposed to have saved is "illusory". Energy companies have also saved millions because subsidising loft installation is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to meet their obligations under the carbon emissions reduction target (Cert) scheme." In estimating the amount of insulation installed Ofgem counted the reports of professional installers and added the amount of insulation sold at retail to do-it-yourselfers. Unfortunately many professional installers bought their materials at retail, leading to double counting. From The Guardian. [Calculated reductions are exaggerated. Shows the importance of direct measurement of emissions. See "Pinpointing Emissions" story above.]

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