27 July 2010

UK carbon costs to drive some industry away? Oil vs. green in California, all-hybrid China and other sustainability news

Top Stories

Biz Leaders: Prop 23 Could Stall Renewable Energy Investments.reliability high.
"if California’s Proposition 23 passes this November, it could put at risk 500,000 clean tech jobs, 12,000 companies and billions of dollars of private investment in California, say business and investment leaders, according to a report from the Clean Economy Network (CEN). The Nov. 2 ballot measure would delay the implementation of certain parts of Assembly Bill 32, the 2006 law requiring that the state reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, until the state’s 12.3 percent unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive calendar quarters". Story in Environmental Leader from Sacramento Bee. PDF of report here. [The roll-back measure is mainly sponsored by Texas oil companies and other fossil energy interests. Because of the favorable regulatory climate reflected by AB32, California has many cleantech companies and significant cleantech investment, which abandonment of AB32 would put at risk. So this initiative campaign pits oil money against cleantech investors in the U.S.'s biggest economy. See Alta wind project item below to get a sense of the scale of new energy investment in California. Oil money may not be enough.]

Carbon policies will drive heavy industry out of UK, report warns.reliability high.
"Rising energy prices and the government’s climate change policies will drive energy-intensive industries overseas, warns a report published jointly today by the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) and the TUC. The report cites steel making, ceramics, paper, cement and lime manufacture, aluminium and basic inorganic chemicals as industries based in the UK which face increases in their energy costs of up to 141 per cent by 2020, taking into account electricity, gas and emission-reduction schemes." See BusinessGreen story. Another story at Bloomberg says "Companies including Tata Steel Ltd. and GrowHow U.K. Ltd. may leave the U.K. as climate-protection policies boost electricity and natural-gas costs."  PDF of the report here.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Wind farm 'mega-project' underway in Mojave Desert.reliability high.
"The multibillion-dollar Alta Wind Energy Center ... is officially breaking ground in the Tehachapi Pass, a burgeoning hot spot for wind energy about 75 miles north of Los Angeles. When completed, Alta could produce three times as much energy as the country's largest existing wind farm, analysts said. It's slated to be done in the next decade. The project will probably be a wind power bellwether, affecting the way renewable energy deals are financed, the development of new electricity storage systems and how governments regulate the industry, said Billy Gamboa, a renewable energy analyst with the California Center for Sustainable Energy. 'It's a super-mega-project — it'll definitely set a precedent for the rest of the state and have a pretty large impact on the wind industry in general,' he said." Story in The Los Angeles Times. Another story on the project from Reuters. [This is a $1.6 bln project. I don't think its backers want to roll back AB32.]

Enterprise Rent-A-Car to Begin Offering Electric Vehicles in U.S.reliability high.
"Enterprise Rent-A-Car today announced the first phase of its plans to offer electric vehicles (EVs) at select offices throughout its neighborhood network of more than 5,000 U.S. locations. Delivery of 500 Nissan LEAFs will begin in January 2011 and will continue throughout the year. In addition to the LEAFs, the company will offer customers electric vehicles from other manufacturers as they become available." See CSRwire.

Commercial Airlines May Get 1% of Fuel From Biofuels By 2015, Boeing Says.reliability high.
"Commercial airlines may derive 1 percent of their fuel by 2015 from biofuels made of plants including algae, Boeing Co.'s environment chief said." From Bloomberg. [Of course air travel will increase substantially between now and 2015, so we will be using much more fossil fuel to fly by then than we do now.]

Government and Regulation

BSG hybrid expected to be standard for cars in China.reliability medium.
"A new policy that will influence every aspect of the auto industry is now under discussion. General Manager of Chery New Energy Company, Yuan Tao, said Thursday that relevant authorities are now planning to issue a policy on hybrid vehicle technology, requiring new PCVs [passenger vehicles?] to be equipped with the BSG hybrid system for fuel efficiency. An industry insider from Dongfeng motor confirmed the statement, and said implementation should happen by 2012. The BSG is a mild hybrid technology that can save about five percent on fuel." From Global Times.

Science and Economics

Climate change equals more Mexican migration: study.reliability high.
"For every 10 percent of lost crop yields, 2 percent more Mexicans will leave and most will try to come to the United States, Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University in New Jersey and colleagues predicted. ... Oppenheimer's team looked at Mexican census data from 1995 to 2005, along with statistics on crop production and climate data. 'We lined up the climate changes, the crop production changes ... with the census data, which allowed us to infer the emigration rate,' he said. ... By the year 2080, they projected, between 1.4 million and 6.7 million Mexican adults will emigrate as a result of reduced farm productivity." Story at Reuters. Abstract and open access article here. [We have heard abstract assertions about climate-change-driven migration, and also arguments against such assertions. Here is some research on migration across a specific border under specific circumstances.]