16 August 2010

Unspent funds, well plugged, predicting more weather disasters and other green news for business

Top Stories

BP to proceed with relief well after tests.reliability high.
"BP Plc will proceed with a relief well to kill its blown-out Gulf of Mexico well, the top U.S. spill official said on Friday. 'Everybody is in agreement that we need to proceed with the relief well,' retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said. 'The question is how to do it.' ... after running pressure tests, BP and U.S. officials agree that the relief well is needed to plug the well 13,000 feet beneath the seabed, Allen said. The relief well is only about 45 feet from reaching the Macondo well. Reuters story. [This is the end of the discharge phase of the Macondo disaster. The cleanup phase will continue for a while. The litigation phase has begun and will continue for decades.]

In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming.reliability high.
"Seemingly disconnected, these far-flung disasters are reviving the question of whether global warming is causing more weather extremes. The collective answer of the scientific community can be boiled down to a single word: probably. 'The climate is changing,' said Jay Lawrimore, chief of climate analysis at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. 'Extreme events are occurring with greater frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity.' He described excessive heat, in particular, as 'consistent with our understanding of how the climate responds to increasing greenhouse gases.' ... most researchers trained in climate analysis, while acknowledging that weather data in parts of the world are not as good as they would like, offer evidence to show that weather extremes are getting worse." See The New York Times. [Related item under Science below.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Tata Power explores geothermal, launches energy efficiency programme.reliability high.
"India's largest private energy company Tata Power is in the process of exploring opportunities for the development of geothermal power, managing director Prasad Menon said in the company’s latest quarterly financial statement. ... The company's energy efficiency programme is also planned to become available to its customers this month, after recently gaining approval from the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission. The Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) mechanism will spur further development of renewable energy projects in India by Tata Power." More on the company's plans. See NewNet.

An Update on GE’s $200M Smart Grid Challenge.reliability medium.
"Last month, General Electric announced it would be taking submissions from inventors and entrepreneurs seeking a piece of a $200 million smart grid investment fund ($100 million from GE, and $100 million from partner venture firms including Kleiner Perkins and Foundation Capital). ... If you're an entrepreneur and you've yet to submit your killer idea, you'll be happy to hear that GE is keeping its 'Ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid' open through Sept. 30, and is promising to give $100,000 five winners in the areas of renewables, smart grid and eco-buidlings." Gives examples of some of the ideas submitted. From The GigaOM Network.

To Cut Demand for Electricity, Some Customers Agree to Unplug.reliability high.
How demand response programs are capping peak demand in New York. "Electricity use is up sharply this summer, but in a windowless room near Albany that is the nerve center of New York State’s grid, controllers have noticed that something else is not rising: peak load." Demand response "is a commercial transaction with a protocol planned long in advance. On the afternoon before an anticipated surge in demand, e-mails, faxes and phone calls go out alerting those who had already agreed that it is time for them to unplug. ... Companies that recruit buildings or property owners to participate are paid by the New York Independent System Operator or by the local utility. The prices have been running $12 to $13 per kilowatt of reduction." Examples of specific companies' participation. See The New York Times. [Useful information about savings from demand response.]

Europe’s First All-LED Industrial Plant Opens in The Netherlands.reliability high.
"The LED lighting revolution achieved another victory with the opening of an industrial plant lit exclusively with LEDs. Located in Etten Leur, the Netherlands, the full-service consumer products packaging plant is owned and operated by Kompak. All interior and exterior lighting fixtures feature Cree XLamp® LEDs and were developed and installed by LedNed, a Dutch LED lighting pioneer. ... According Steven Nijweide, project manager at Kompak, the use of LED illumination throughout the plant has shown a 20,000 KWh reduction in electricity usage when compared to conventional lighting, translating into nearly 135,000 kilogram annual carbon offset." Press release has more details of LED systems used. From Business Wire.

Government and Regulation

Energy Funds Went Unspent, U.S. Auditor Says.reliability medium.
"The recession is lingering, and so is the unspent stimulus money that was meant to help end it. The latest example is the $3.2 billion that Congress voted in February 2009 as part of an economic stimulus package to simultaneously provide jobs and improve energy efficiency through block grants to states and cities. Only about 8.4 percent of the money had been spent by the beginning of this month, according to an audit released on Friday by the inspector general of the Energy Department, and it has produced or saved only about 2,300 jobs as of the second quarter of this year. ... In the new audit, the inspector general, Gregory H. Friedman, found that New York City, which got the biggest award, $80.8 million, had spent only $1.5 million, or less than 2 percent. But that was better than Chicago, which got $27.6 million and spent under $40,000, or 0.1 percent." Gives some of the reasons bureaucracy was unable to handle the funds. From New York Times Green blog.

Science and Economics

Climate scientists in race to predict where natural disaster will strike next.reliability high.
"The world's leading climate scientists will gather this week in the United States to hammer out plans to set up an early warning system that would predict future meteorological disasters caused by global warming. ... Scientists say events like these will become more severe and more frequent over the rest of the century as rising greenhouse gas emissions trap the sun's heat in the lower atmosphere and bring change to Earth's climate and weather systems. However, their ability to pinpoint exactly where and when the worst devastation will occur is still limited. The aim of the Colorado meeting is to develop more precise predictive techniques to help pinpoint the location and severity of droughts, floods, and heatwaves before they happen and so save thousands of lives." From The Guardian.