30 July 2010

Rich government paralysis on climate while consumers and companies keep reducing; CDM problems and other green business news

Top Stories

Analysis: Action on global climate may drift for years.reliability medium.
"International action on climate change looks likely to drift over the next two years as politicians waver on tougher carbon caps in the wake of the financial crisis. ... Talks resume next week in Bonn, Germany, but a new draft text is as vague as ever on targets and a timetable to cut carbon emissions. 'I suspect that we're in for a fairly long period of slowdown, you're talking about a two to three years' timeframe before you restore the political momentum,' said Tom Burke of Imperial College London." More on reasons for government hesitancy, outlook for next few years. "A long-term global goal to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, aspired to in Copenhagen, appears out of reach." See Reuters article. [HaraBara has long noted that the problem is in mature, rich economies where switching energy technologies involves substitution, threatening powerful incumbents, while developing economies can (if they choose) adopt low-carbon technologies as they expand their infrastructure.]

U.S. First-half demand for gasoline 0.6% lower than last year.reliability medium.
"According to the American Petroleum Institute's (API) Monthly Statistical Report, U.S. gasoline deliveries for the first half of 2010 averaged 8.88 million barrels per day, 0.6 percent lower than the corresponding period a year ago. Though the drop in demand is minuscule, it does provide us with an indication that despite low gas prices and a rebounding economy, U.S. demand for gas continues to wane. ... While economists like to attribute decreased demand for gasoline to our shaky economical situation, we like to believe that advancements in fuel-saving technologies lead to a dwindling need for gas." From Autoblog Green. [Maybe Americans drove fewer miles than in any June since 2004. On the other hand, maybe they have learned to lighten up on the gas pedal and get a bit better mileage. Could the Gulf spill mess have gotten people thinking about the externalities of wasteful driving? (See related post "Was This Spill Necessary?".)]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

General Motors to establish global BEV test fleet, build New Sail EV prototype.reliability medium.
"General Motors' Global Vehicle Engineering VP Karl Stracke announced the creation of a test fleet of battery electric vehicles. The fleet will be deployed in several regions around the world beginning in 2011. ... Stracke also announced that a prototype electric version of the Chinese market Chevrolet  New Sail was being built and it seems likely that this will form the basis of a test fleet in that country. ... GM decided to go it alone on EV development after a deal to produce a low cost EV with Indian manufacturer Reva was dissolved earlier this year." From Autoblog Green.

GE Shares Its Energy Efficiency Treasure Hunt Method.reliability high.
"Over the last five years, teams of General Electric (GE) employees have scoured the company's various facilities in pursuit of a common enemy: wasted energy. ... Since 2005, more than 200 of these exercises, called Treasure Hunts, revealed energy savings exceeding $130 million. Now the company is expanding the program beyond its facilities to include hospitals, universities, city buildings and private sites through a new collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The sites, which include existing GE customers, will learn how to conduct Treasure Hunts, while GE and EDF will work to verify the energy savings and identify and disseminate industry best practices." More about the treasure hunt approach. See Greener World Media.

Panasonic to acquire Sanyo Electric as it aims to become top green innovator.reliability high.
"electronic giant Panasonic will fully take over its partly-owned subsidiary Sanyo Electric as it attempts to cement itself as a leader in green innovation in the face of rising competition. Panasonic said the companies hope to maximise their collaborative efforts in the rechargeable battery, solar cell and electric vehicle-related fields, in the face of intensified competition from the rest of Asia as well as the US and Europe." More on Panasonic's recent strategic moves. Item at NewNet.

U.N. ends Kyoto CO2 offset drought ahead of key meeting.reliability high.
"The United Nations' climate secretariat on Thursday issued 228,400 Kyoto Protocol carbon offsets to three Asian clean energy projects, ending a two-week issuance drought but failing to reassure concerned investors. ... 'It's taking longer to get CERs, so that delays project developer revenues and makes them harder to predict,' said Niels von Zweigbergk, CEO of Tricorona, a Swedish-based developer which was recently bought by Britain's Barclays bank. ... Only 364,600 CERs, worth 2.7 million euros ($3.53 million) at market rates, have been distributed in July, a sharp drop from 3.4 million doled out in June and 10.5 million in May. The flow of CERs has slowed this month due to the phase-in of new procedures to streamline offset issuances and limit waiting times at the CDM, a UN spokesman told Point Carbon News on July 13. 'We've not yet seen any improvements to the issuance process from these new procedures,' von Zweigbergk added." More about problems with CDM system. See story at Reuters.

Putting Chips to Work for Sharing Pedal Power.reliability medium.
"the programs and systems rolling out today for tracking and distributing up to thousands of bicycles in cities from Milan to San Antonio are of another generation — one built upon mobile access to the real-time web and GPS chips. Armed with these IT tools, new and evolving bike sharing networks fit into the larger trends of smarter digital and networked transportation systems, innovation around providing mobility as a service and moves by unconventional players (from non-profits to advertising giants to health insurance firms to new startups) to assume new roles in the transportation sector. ... On Friday the world’s largest bike share network will launch in London, with 6,000 bikes at 400 stations. It's an illustration of what technologies like text messaging, smartphones with GPS, and the real-time web are ultimately driving in the bike sharing market: a shift in scale, as infrastructure costs come down and growing convenience attracts a broader market." Table of 20 top bike-sharing programs. See earth2tech.

Government and Regulation

Electric Car Charging Won’t Fall Under Utility Rules in California.reliability medium.
"California regulators voted unanimously on Thursday that companies providing electric vehicle charging stations and services will not be regulated as public utilities in the state, which is expected to be one of the earliest and largest markets for plug-in vehicles and a model for other markets. This marks a victory for charging infrastructure ventures including Coulomb Technologies, ECOtality and Better Place, which have been pushing for this decision for months. ... Getting today’s decision on the books will be a green light for these companies in some ways, but there’s still a long road for regulators to figure out how to handle this new industry." From earth2tech. [Since car-charging systems are selling electricity, currently regulated utilities urged they be regulated like others in that market. They have dodged that bullet--for now.]

U.N. panel to probe further Kyoto CO2-cut projects.reliability high.
The UNFCC "will ask a sub-panel to investigate further claims that a Kyoto Protocol scheme may be incentivizing participants to emit more greenhouse gases, environmental groups said on Friday. ... The roughly 20 projects in question, the most lucrative under the scheme, are mainly in China and India. They destroy a potent waste gas called hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) and account for more than half of the 423.5 million offsets issued to the 2,300 projects approved to date." Watchdogs had said firms were gaming the system. "The CDM's 10-member executive board ... will seek further input on the matter from the scheme's methodology panel, the green groups attending the meeting said." From Reuters. [The methodology panel had supported the concerns raised by NGOs, but China especially has objected to changes. Thus the fallback to "more study".]