07 May 2010

China, Korea lead; India's bumbling nuclear regulators; the spill so far; toasternomics; and other company, government and related green news

Top Stories

China, South Korea lead in green tech funding.reliability high.
"China may arguably be the world's biggest polluter, but it seems the country is also the most serious investor in green tech. A third of its economic recovery package was spent on green-technology investment in the form of high-speed rail trains and infrastructure, wind energy, solar energy, and energy-efficient lighting. It equates to about 3 percent of China's GDP (gross domestic product), according to a new United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) book released Wednesday. ... The U.S., despite talk of turning to a green economy, spent the equivalent of 0.7 percent of its GDP on green tech investment, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 only allocated 12 percent to green tech projects. ... For those who believe the European Union is more green than the U.S., here's a statistic that may shock. For all its talk of a green economy, the EU as a whole only spent the equivalent of 0.2 percent of its GDP on green tech investment, according to UNEP statistics. ... the Republic of Korea (South Korea) percentage-wise was found to be one of the leading green tech investors, spending the equivalent of more than 3 percent of its annual GDP on green tech." Story in CNET News. More about book here.

Black storm rising.reliability high.
Feature article on the Deepwater Horizon blowout and its potential consequences for the environment, industry, technology and regulation. See The Economist.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Your Toaster Costs How Much to Run?? Interactive Graphic Gives Run-Down On Worst-Offender Gadgets.reliability medium.
"GE and Pentagram's Lisa Strausfeld have come up with a fantastic way to visualize how good or bad our appliances and devices are when it comes to using up our home's energy. The interactive tool tells you how much energy that appliance or device uses in watts, dollars, or gallons of gas, as well as what one kilowatt hour yields for that device, and even better, it will rank each device so that you can see at a glance which you want to unplug." Story at treehugger. Access tool here. [36 pieces of toast per kWh, equals one hour of air conditioning (room AC) or 3 brews in the coffee maker or 12 minutes of central AC. Lots of other ways to play with this interesting tool.]

Venture capital investment in clean technology bolstered by energy efficiency and electric vehicle deals.reliability high.
"US venture capital investment in the sector in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 hit $733.3m, representing a 68 per cent increase in capital and 118 per cent increase in deals compared to the first quarter of 2009, according to analysis by Ernst & Young. ... Ernst & Young said cleantech investment is recovering faster than overall venture capital investment, which increased 11 per cent from the first quarter of 2009 to $4.7bn." See NewNet story. Ernst & Young press release here.

The Smart Grid Acquisition Tally . . . So Far.reliability medium.
Table with 17 smartgrid acquisitions over last 3 years. See earth2tech.

Government and Regulation

India's urban awakening: Building inclusive cities, sustaining economic growth.reliability high.
About new report from McKinsey. "India's lack of effective policies to manage its rapid and large-scale urbanization could jeopardize the nation's growth trajectory. But if India pursues a new operating model for its cities, it could add as much as 1 to 1.5 percent to annual GDP growth, bringing the economy near to the double-digit growth to which the government aspires." See McKinsey site.

Mine Safety Sweep Yields Citations, Closures.reliability high.
"Federal mine-safety officials said Thursday that they closed six Kentucky mines and issued more than 1,000 citations for safety violations as a result of a nationwide sweep last month of 57 coal mines with a history of repeat safety violations. The five-day inspection blitz was in response to the April 5 explosion that killed 29 at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, which had been cited repeatedly for dangerous conditions. ... From April 19 to April 23, MSHA inspectors issued 1,339 citations and 109 withdrawal orders. Such orders require miners to leave the mine because it is deemed too unsafe to operate. The 57 mines were spread across 10 states and included those run by large publicly held companies and small operators with a "history of significant and/or repeat violations of safety standards," the MSHA said." From The Wall Street Journal. [If this push had been conducted a month earlier, would 29 lives have been saved?]

What the radiation leak in Delhi means.reliability medium.
Improper disposal of a cobalt 60 radiation source, with one death so far resulting, "highlights the poignancy of the suffering of poor and innocent scrap-workers on account of utterly irresponsible conduct on the part of several agencies, including Delhi University, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and the Government of India. The tragedy also underscores the infuriatingly poor capacity of this society and its regulatory agencies to cope with mishaps, in particular, damage caused by ionising radiation, a poison that's especially insidious because it's invisible, intangible and poorly understood. ... This is of a piece with the AERB's style of functioning and the extremely sloppy, inefficient, and unsafe mode of operation of its parent, the Department of Atomic Energy. The DAE is easily the worst-functioning department of the Indian government, which has never met a target or completed a major project without a typical cost overrun of 200 percent-plus." Column in rediff news. [There was a similar incident in Brazil a few years ago. Sign of very slack regulation.]

India Moves to Cap Nuclear Liability, May Ease GE-Hitachi Entry.reliability high.
"India’s government today sent to Parliament legislation to make nuclear reactor operators solely liable for accidents and to cap damages, proposals that will help the entry of U.S. companies like General Electric Co. and are likely to face stiff opposition. The Congress party-led ruling coalition’s main rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and Communist members walked out of the lower house to protest a bill that will shield American technology suppliers from compensation claims. ... 'This bill is crucial for American companies which don’t have sovereign backing, unlike their Russian and French Counterparts,' Debashish Mishra, the head of energy practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd., said by phone from Mumbai. 'Their shareholders will need to know clearly the downside in case there is a nuclear accident.'" See Bloomberg Businessweek. [An energy technology so risky nobody will build it unless governments accept the liability for disaster? And if the French government is willing to accept liability, why should the taxpayers of India do so?]

Science and Economics

Environmental Causes of Cancer 'Grossly Underestimated'.reliability high.
"The President's Cancer Panel on Thursday reported that "the true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated" and strongly urged action to reduce people's widespread exposure to carcinogens. ... The panel advised President Obama "to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation's productivity, and devastate American lives." ... In its letter, the panel singled out bisphenol A, a chemical used in polycarbonate plastic and can linings that is unregulated in the United States, as well as radon, formaldehyde and benzene." Story in The Daily Green. PDF of report here. [Making the case for stricter regulation.]

Society and Trends

Back to the City.reliability high.
"To put it simply, the suburbs have lost their sheen: Both young workers and retiring Boomers are actively seeking to live in densely packed, mixed-use communities that don’t require cars—that is, cities or revitalized outskirts in which residences, shops, schools, parks, and other amenities exist close together. 'In the 1950s, suburbs were the future,' says University of Michigan architecture and urban-planning professor Robert Fishman, commenting on the striking cultural shift. 'The city was then seen as a dingy environment. But today it’s these urban neighborhoods that are exciting and diverse and exploding with growth.'" More on this reorientation. Article in Harvard Business Review.

National Poll: One in Five Americans to Drive Less in Wake of BP Oil Spill.reliability high.
"The survey, which polled 1,312 consumers across the country, found 20.1 percent of Americans said they will reduce their gas consumption in response to the oil spill. ... The combined impact of the oil spill and the recent mine disaster in West Virginia has caused more than two in every five Americans, or 41.7 percent, to think about the 'human and environmental costs' associated with their own energy consumption." Other highlights of poll by Sheldon Group. From Business Wire.

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