26 May 2010

Mahindra gets REVA, Microsoft vs Apple, eco-label glut and other company, industry, and supply chain news

Top Stories

Indian Automaker Buying Into Electric Car Company.reliability high.
"Mahindra & Mahindra, one of India’s largest automakers, said Wednesday that it would acquire a controlling stake in Reva, an electric car pioneer based in Bangalore that has been looking for deep-pocket partners to invest in its technology. Mahindra, a conglomerate based in Mumbai that makes tractors, sport utility vehicles and trucks, said it would buy 55.2 percent of Reva by purchasing shares from the founders for an undisclosed price and by investing 450 mln rupees, or $10 mln, in cash in the company. ... The head of Mahindra’s auto business, Pawan Goenka, will become chairman of the renamed Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicle. Chetan Maini, a founder of Reva, will stay on the board and become chief of technology and strategy." Story in The New York Times.

China wants to reach energy goals before Cancun talks.reliability high.
"China will aim to meet its five-year energy saving and emission reduction goals through 2010 ahead global climate talks at the end of the year, the country's top climate negotiator said. ... Beijing was alarmed by the recent energy efficiency losses, and on May 5 Premier Wen Jiabao directed the government to step up efforts to ensure the 2010 goals would be met. As part of the measures, China will shut down another 10 gigawatts of small and less efficient coal-fired power generators by the third quarter of this year after closing 60.06 GW in the past four years, ahead of an earlier plan of shuttering 50 GW's worth in the five years through 2010. Beijing will raise power tariff surcharges for some energy intensive firms by 50 to 100 percent from June 1, reducing power price discounts to certain industries including aluminum, calcium carbide and ferroalloy and imposing punitive high power rates on inefficient firms, in renewed and hastened efforts to curb expansion in energy-guzzling and polluting industries." See Reuters. [China can deliver.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

How Companies Weather the Flood of Eco-Labels.reliability high.
"The GreenBiz.com editorial staff talked with some of these leaders to find out how businesses large and small address the glut of eco-labels." Comments from Citigroup, Marks & Spencer, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Kraft. See GreenBiz.

Organic cotton sales up – but what’s the cost?reliability high.
"The latest headline figures on organic cotton retail sales supplied by Organic Exchange (OE) show a healthy 35% growth to a value of US$4.3 billion in 2009, but they also suggest that like the conventional cotton sector, there is considerable ‘mark-up’ taking place along the supply chain with very little profit trickling back down to impoverished farmers. ... If the baseline price of a kilogram of cotton is around US$1.76, effectively what traders reckon to be the average ‘break even’ point for organic cotton, this suggests that the value of the 175,113 MT of fibre comes to roughly US$308.2 million, a mere 7% of the total retail value of the organic cotton garments." From EcoTextile News. [No surprise. This is true of most agricultural commodities. The value of the wheat in a loaf of bread or package of pasta is only 5-10% of the retail price. And those are "commodity" products. A "designer" product will have a much higher retail price for the same cost of materials.]

How to develop a sustainable marketing campaign.reliability medium.
Analysis piece on challenges of "green" marketing. "Unfortunately, sustainability is a uniquely tricky concept to take to market. As incredible as it sounds, some corporate marketing departments have actually been guilty of making unwarranted and even false green claims. ... Ensuring marketing and communication campaigns get the sustainable message across without falling foul of increasingly exasperated regulators means that the whole notion of green messaging has become a veritable minefield for agencies and internal marketeers. It takes a lot of coordination and creativity to make sure that messages remains coherent and punchy, but still within the increasingly stringent guidelines laid down by the ASA, Defra and even the European Commission. ... what are some of the dos and don'ts when it comes to combining the disparate parts of a green marketing campaign?" See BusinessGreen.

Sustainability Faceoff: Microsoft vs. Apple.reliability high.
Compares Apple and Microsoft sustainability programs and actions. With table. Finds some positive steps and some deficiencies for each company. Microsoft gets better score in this analysis. From Fast Company.

Science and Economics

More Wind Farms Mean Cheaper Energy.reliability medium.
"If the Western US generated 30% of its electricity with wind power, costs would drop 40%, the NREL reveals in The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study. ... The NREL and the US Department of Energy sponsored the study, with input from 13 technical experts at turbine-maker GE and 17 at NREL; intended to help the utility sector in integrating more renewable power. ... Utility operating costs would drop from approximately $50 billion down to about $20 billion a year with 30% wind, yielding benefits to the economy and to the environment, saving American consumers money." Story at CleanTechnica. Access the report here.

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