21 July 2010

Google powers wind, new energy investment, Kyoto plan B and other green business news

Top Stories

Google Energy's big green power purchase.reliability medium.
Google's "Google Energy subsidiary signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy. Google will begin buying 114 megawatts of electricity from an Iowa wind farm on July 30." Google Energy will resell the power through the local grid, but keep the Renewable Energy Certificates to apply to Google's power use elsewhere. See Grist. Google blog post here. [Lots of companies buy RECs. Lots of companies buy power under long-term PPAs. Here is an example of locking in power costs via a PPA and getting RECs in bulk along with the power, presumably more cheaply than they could be purchased on the normal REC market. And NextEra, the wind farm operator, gets a long-term, guaranteed cash flow from its renewable energy no matter what happens to electricity and REC markets in the future. This assured cash flow will enable it to finance expanded wind generation more easily than if it were selling power and RECs on spot markets, thus helping build more green power capacity faster. Smart, Google. (Background on RECs in this earlier post.)]

Businesses support tougher emissions targets by EU: report.reliability high.
"High-profile business leaders from household names across Europe urged ministers on Wednesday to push for tougher emissions targets. In a letter to the Financial Times, chairmen and chief executives from 27 companies wrote in support of British Energy Minister Chris Huhne's efforts to persuade the EU to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020. The companies include Vodafone, Asda and Lloyds Banking Group." Story at Reuters. The letter here (behind FT pay wall). [Major businesses support higher carbon price. What's in it for them?]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Intel Comes Out on Top in Green Governance Rankings.reliability high.
"Intel, Weyerhaeuser and Merck have the strongest environmental governance and policies, according to a study that looked at the practices of the largest publically traded firms in the U.S. The latest company evaluations done with the Governance and Environmental Management Strength (GEMS) Rating found firms that are performing strongly in ever major sector, but also found a large chunk of companies that are severely lagging. ... Of those [962] companies, 448 received a score of less than 10, and 170 received a zero, meaning they did not disclose any information related to the 49 indicators." More highlights of this commercial report. See Greener World Media.

The State of New Energy Investing.reliability medium.
About report "Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010; Analysis of Trends and Issues in the Financing of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, from the United Nations Environment Program’s Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative and Bloomberg New Energy Finance." "There is little doubt about the most striking 2009 New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) statistic: Investment in China grew 53%. The world invested $119 billion in NE/EE in 2009 and China got $33.7 billion of it. ... The more important numbers are found in the amount of recovery money that was dedicated internationally to NE/EE investment ($188 billion) versus how much has been spent (9%). That leaves 91% of $188 billion to be invested in 2010 and 2011." More highlights of report. From Renewable Energy World blog. PDF of report here.

Kansas heat wave has killed 2,000 cattle: state.reliability high.
"The intense heat and humidity that blanketed central Kansas since late last week have killed more than 2,000 cattle and one state official called the heat-related losses the worst in his 17 years on the job. ... While the loss of cattle is a financial hardship for producers, the slowdown in weight gains in the surviving cattle can often have a greater impact on cattle markets." Story at Reuters. [Heat waves kill people too, but maybe the economic costs to the beef industry will get more attention (though Kansas has over two million cattle on feed, so 2,000 isn't a crisis to the overall beef system). In the long run feedlots may consider moving to more temperate climates. It's just not practical to air condition them. About feedlots in this earlier post.]

In a Climate Quest, the Roof as White Knight.reliability high.
"on Monday, Dr. Chu directed all Energy Department offices to install white roofs during new construction, when replacing old roofs and wherever an installation is cost-effective over the lifetime of the roof. The secretary urged other federal agencies to follow suit. 'Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest-cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change,' he said in a statement." More on white roofs for saving energy. See The New York Times Green blog. [Low-hanging fruit right over your head.]

Government and Regulation

Europe Proposes to End Coal Mining Subsidies by 2014.reliability high.
"On Tuesday, in a preliminary victory for environmental groups and for green-minded regulators, the commission said that cash handouts for loss-making coal mines should end within four years -- by Oct. 15, 2014 -- rather than being allowed to continue for more than a decade as originally planned. The decision, if approved by the European Union's 27 governments, would mainly affect mines in Germany, Spain and Romania. Debate over the measure had raged for weeks". From New York Times Green blog.

U.N. lists Kyoto plan B options if no climate deal.reliability high.
"The U.N.'s climate agency has for the first time detailed contingency options if the world cannot agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose present round expires in 2012 with no new deal in sight. ... Countries which are party to the Kyoto Protocol in June asked the U.N. climate secretariat to report on legal options to avoid a political vacuum or gap." More details. See Reuters story. PDF of report here.

New York Mandates Cleaner Heating Oil.reliability high.
New York "Governor David A. Paterson on Tuesday signed into law a bill that limits the sulfur content of No. 2 heating oil to no more than 15 parts per million starting in July 2012, down from the current range of 2,000 to 15,000 parts per million. ... the ultra-low sulfur oil is expected to significantly reduce air pollution that causes health problems like asthma and can shorten lives." More at New York Times Green blog. [Saving the lives of thousands of registered voters?]