14 June 2010

Spill's political fallout, PE funds target India CER projects, companies' green efforts and other news for business

Top Stories

Tide of anger may turn an ecological tragedy into a political nightmare.reliability high.
"Fifty days in, the backlash from the BP oil spill is being felt on both sides of the Atlantic. As the special relationship comes under strain, Obama invests an unprecedented amount of presidential time on a visit to the Gulf, while Cameron faces rightwing flak. ... Both President Barack Obama and Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, are finding to their cost that a crisis for a globalised company like BP carries collateral damage. The urgent question for both men now is of who will be damaged more by the collision of politics and big business that is testing the UK's special relationship with the US to its limit." Story in The Guardian. [Politicians can't do anything about the spill but try to throw BP's money at it, and make statements. Now Cameron is being drawn into the sticky mess as well. First Afghanistan and now this.]

Obama wants BP escrow account.reliability high.
"President Barack Obama will press BP executives this week to set up an escrow account to pay damage claims by individuals and businesses hurt by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster." More on current government moves, U.S.-UK issues, in Reuters story. [Political grandstanding. There is really no question BP has the resources to cover claims, but the President has to be seen to be doing something.]

Twilight of the Coal Era?reliability medium.
"gas is beginning to replace coal, according to Randy H. Zwirn, president of the Siemens Power Generation Group. On Monday, Siemens is announcing that it has won contracts to supply five new high-efficiency gas plants to Progress Energy at two sites in North Carolina that have old coal-fired generators. ... Per kilowatt-hour generated, the new gas-fired generators will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent and nitrogen oxides by 95 percent from levels produced by their coal-fired predecessors. Nearly 100 percent of sulfur dioxides will be eliminated, and all of the mercury, Siemens said." Why switching to gas is more attractive than upgrading old coal plants in the U.S. See New York Times Green blog.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

ADM receives $99 million in federal aid for second carbon capture project.reliability high.
"The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday that ADM is slated to receive up to $99 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in an effort to demonstrate large-scale carbon capture and storage from industrial sources. ADM originally was selected in October 2009 for research and development grants for the project, which will total $163.9 million. ADM plans to spend $43.6 million on the project. ... The new project will capture and sequester 1 million tons of CO2 per year from ADM's existing ethanol plant in Decatur." From Decatur Herald-Review. [Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of the  fermentation process used to produce bioethanol. There is only so much demand for dry ice or CO2 for carbonated beverages, so much of it is just released into the atmosphere at the plants.]

PE investors begin funding India carbon credit projects.reliability high.
"Private equity investors have begun funding clean development mechanism projects, a strategy which will enable them to earn profits from the project as well as by selling certified emission receipts (CERs) or carbon credits. ... 'Apart from a share of profit from the project, the fund also gains by selling carbon credits. Carbon credits are becoming popular among industries having higher emission levels,' said Chaitania Kalia, partner, Ernst & Young. ... PEs invest anywhere between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 5 crore in medium-to-large-sized projects." From Economic Times.

Waste Management's Far Out Trash-to-Energy Plans.reliability high.
"Waste Management Chief Executive David Steiner thinks that the 110 million tons of waste his company handles every year can do more than fill landfills and generate electricity. He's placing a series of bets on far-off technologies that he hopes can turn garbage into more valuable commodities like ethanol, diesel, gasoline, natural gas or chemicals. 'We don't want to play just in the picking up and delivering,' says Steiner. 'We want to own conversion, too. We want to own the technology.'" Mentions several investments. Story in Forbes.

Products That Are Earth-and-Profit Friendly.reliability high.
"Around the globe, a growing number of manufacturers are including more recyclable or biodegradable components into products. Companies making changes run the gamut — there are furniture makers, carpet manufacturers, clothing retailers and makers of shampoos and household cleaners. And with big-box retailers like Wal-Mart joining in, industry analysts say the sustainable philosophy is no longer viewed as the province of high-end sellers like Nike or Herman Miller, the furniture maker. In 2008 alone, American consumers doubled their spending on sustainable products and services to an estimated $500 billion ...." Examples from various companies, and comments on difficulty of greening products. See The New York Times.

Government and Regulation

Governments approve plan for biodiversity panel.reliability high.
"Governments today approved plans for a new international scientific panel dedicated to addressing biodiversity loss and modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The proposals ... will now lead to the formation of the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The independent panel is expected to provide international policy makers with detailed research on the social and economic impact of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation." From BusinessGreen.

Science and Economics

New study: burning trees for power worse for climate than burning coal.reliability medium.
"A study commissioned by [the Massachusetts] Department of Energy Resources and released today reaches the conclusion that burning trees to make electricity is worse for the climate than burning coal at least through 2050. In fact, the study by the Manomet Center for Conservation Science finds that between the release of carbon when trees are burned and the slow reabsorption as the trees regrow, that this source of biopower would increase emissions by 3% compared to coal power over 40 years." See NRDC blogs. Access study here.

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