07 April 2010

Daimler gets small-car technology, new U.S. fuel tax proposed, and other supply chain, company, industry and other news

Top Stories

Nonprofit Group Will Prod Companies to Report Their Water Use.reliability high.
"The Carbon Disclosure Project, an investor-backed nonprofit organization that has persuaded some of the world’s largest corporations to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, will announce on Wednesday that it is asking 302 global companies to begin issuing detailed reports on their water use. The move begins a campaign to put water consumption on par with carbon emissions as a concern of company shareholders. ... 'The particularly challenging area will be company supply chains,' he said. 'Many companies will have good data on water use in their own operations but not in their suppliers.'" Story in The New York Times.

Climate bill sets oil 'rack' transport tax: source.reliability high.
"Details of an oil industry tax are being filled in Congress as part of an upcoming U.S. climate control bill, sparking a spirited lobbying campaign this week over how the revenues from that tax would be used. A Senate source familiar with the draft legislation told Reuters that the new fee "will be assessed at the terminal rack," -- where refined oil products await shipment to retail gasoline stations and other end points. ... The new oil industry tax, aimed at encouraging better fuel efficiency in the transportation sector, would be part of a compromise global warming bill being written in the Senate that could be unveiled by the end of April." "no final decisions had yet been made on whether revenues from the tax would be deposited into the Highway Trust Fund and whether they would be earmarked for specific "green" projects or road and bridge repairs that the highway fund normally handles." See Reuters story. [Because of increased fuel efficiency the old 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal gasoline tax (last increased in 1993) no longer covers the costs of maintaining the vast federal highway system (partly because some of this revenue goes into the general fund "for deficit reduction" and other purposes).]

Americans Prioritize Energy Over Environment for First Time.reliability high.
"Americans are more likely to say the U.S. should prioritize development of energy supplies than to say it should prioritize protecting the environment, the first time more have favored energy production over environmental protection in this question's 10-year history. ... At the same time, Americans continue to advocate greater energy conservation by consumers (52%) over greater production of oil, gas, and coal supplies (36%) as a means of solving the nation's energy problems." More details of poll. From Gallup site.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

GM Partners with U.S. Department of Energy to Develop Jatropha-to-Biodiesel Project in India.reliability high.
"General Motors Co. (GM) today announced a five-year partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help develop the potential of the jatropha plant as a sustainable biofuel energy crop. ... The joint DOE-GM funding will enable the Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI)—an India-based research facility falling under Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India—to manage all of the 84 hectares (840,000 m2). A complete lifecycle analysis will be conducted to evaluate the environmental impacts, starting with fertilizer production from raw materials and ending with the harvesting of jatropha fruits." "Two jatropha farms will be established in India: a 16-hectare (39.5 acre) plot in Bhavngar and a 38 hectare (93.9 acre) plot in Kalol, near GM's India Car Manufacturing plant. An existing 30 hectare (74.1 acre) jatropha farm in Bhavnagar also will be managed under this project." See PR Newswire.

Mitsubishi to start building Ark. plant this fall.reliability high.
"Mitsubishi said Tuesday it is aiming to produce wind turbines in Arkansas by next year at a new $100 million plant, a facility that signals the company is seeking to regain its U.S. customers. ... Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas is to start construction in the fall, produce its first turbine next year and reach full production in 2012, said Ichiro Fukue, executive vice president of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. About 200 construction jobs will be created as the plant is built. The plant's work force could expand to 500, Fukue said, if the market grows. ... Mitsubishi will receive $3.75 million from the governor's Quick Action Closing Fund. It will also get a 15-year state income tax abatement, sales tax refunds for construction materials and equipment and other incentives." Story at CNBC from AP.

BJ’s Wholesale Adding Four More Solar Arrays with No Upfront Cost.reliability high.
"BJ’s Wholesale Club is adding solar photovoltaic installations to four more of its big-box wholesale outlets at no cost, through a power purchase agreement (PPA). ... BJ’s Wholesale is working with Tioga Energy to install the solar arrays with no upfront cost under a PPA. With the deal, the solar PPA will provide up to 22 percent of the locations’ annual electricity needs, at a negotiated rate that is lower than standard utility rates. “With their large, flat roofs, big box stores lend themselves to solar power,” said Ian Bowles, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs for Massachusetts." From Environmental Leader.

Mintel Expects Rapid Growth in Natural, Organic Food and Beverage Category.reliability medium.
"More than one-third (35 percent) of Americans are willing to pay more for 'environmentally friendly' products, according to new survey results from Mintel. ... Greenwashing and consumer uncertainty continue to be problematic. 37 percent of survey respondents said they are confused or skeptical about the claims made by natural and organic personal care products." See 2Sustain.

Daimler, Renault Team Up On Electric Car Tech.reliability medium.
"Executives from Daimler and Renault-Nissan Alliance this morning in Brussels announced a comprehensive partnership to share powertrains and architecture for compact cars and light commercial vehicles. Among other projects, the companies plan to cooperate on electric versions of Daimler’s Smart Fortwo and Renault’s Twingo, and explore 'opportunities to co-develop technologies related to electric vehicles and batteries.' Jointly developed models, including next-gen versions of the Fortwo and Twingo as well as a new four-seat Smart car, are slated to start rolling out in 2013. 'Right from its market launch,' Renault explained in its release Wednesday, 'the jointly developed future models will also be available with an electric drive.'" See earth2tech.

Daimler-Renault-Nissan deal puts spotlight on scale.reliability high.
"The link-up between Renault-Nissan and Daimler shows the urgent need for scale in an industry still reeling from a collapse in demand and gearing up for massive investment in green-car technology." Daimler "has decided a more limited deal with the Renault-Nissan alliance headed by Carlos Ghosn will give it the small-car technology and scope it needs in the face of tighter emissions and fuel economy standards. ... Cole said the deal could be a blueprint for future collaboration in a high-cost area: developing the engine, transmission and now battery-drive systems that power vehicles." From Reuters.

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