27 September 2010

Solar and wind milestones, confusing food labeling, beyond CFLs, VC tightening and more green business news

Top Stories

"Global wind energy capacity edges towards 200GW"reliability high.
The Global Wind Energy Council indicates wind energy capacity will approach 200GW by the end of this year (3% of global energy capacity), and 400GW by 2014. Quotes association general secretary Steve Sawyer: "As wind power is becoming more competitive, it is rapidly expanding beyond the traditional markets in North America and Europe. In fact, around half of the growth is now happening in emerging economies and developing countries. We are seeing very encouraging signs from countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Mexico and Chile, as well as Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa." More on growth of wind generating capacity. See BusinessGreen.

"Food labelling confuses ethical shoppers, says survey"reliability high.
A poll of UK consumers about ethical and environmental food labeling by Which? magazine found "overall level of awareness of the nine main schemes in use was very low and they are 'poorly understood'". More on results of poll. From The Guardian. PDF of the Which? report here. [When everybody invents their own certification and labeling schemes confusion ensues. Helping the consumer is perhaps not top of the list of objectives.]

"Dangerous dependence on virtual water deepens"reliability medium.
koneil posts an item by Colin Schultz, AGU science writer: "In an upcoming study, Bierkens and his colleagues find that not only is global groundwater extraction outstripping its natural recharge rate, this disparity has been increasing. ... 'The rate of depletion increased almost linearly from the 1960s to the early 1990s,' says Bierkens, of Utrecht’s Physical Geography Department. 'But then you see a sharp increase which is related to the increase of upcoming economies and population numbers; mainly in India and China.' ... In another study, Paolo D’Odorico of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and his colleagues model a world which is increasingly dependent on a globalized water supply. ... The study by him and colleagues at the Politecnico di Torino, in Turin, Italy, finds that as we become ever more efficient at producing food in areas with a plentiful water supply and shipping to regions lacking sufficient water to feed a hungry population, we reduce our ability to cope with shocks to the network, like droughts or crop failure." More on water issues. See AGU GeoSpace blog. [Whose water are you consuming?]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Suzlon celebrates record Indian wind energy deal"reliability high.
"Indian wind turbine manufacturer Suzlon Energy Limited yesterday announced that it has secured the single largest wind energy deal signed by an independent energy producer in India, after winning a 202MW 11.49bn rupee ($251.69m) order from Calcutta-based utility Techno Electric Group." Suzlon sees this as the start of a new phase of renewable energy investment where independent power companies will play a greater role. See BusinessGreen. A post at CleanTechnica says Suzlon has installed 5 GW of wind capacity.

"Frito-Lay, Castle Rock Vineyards, Salk Institute Add Solar in [California]"reliability high.
"California’s solar portfolio continues to grow with the latest solar power systems installations at PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Modesto manufacturing facility, Castle Rock Vineyards in Central Valley, and the Salk Institute of Biological Sciences’ campus." Frito-Lay added one megawatt of Solyndra systems, Castle Rock 1.134 MW from Kyocera, and Salk 0.5 MW. From Environmental Leader.

"Online Hub Offers CSR Ratings for 5K Companies"reliability high.
About CSRHUB which draws on information from data GovernanceMetrics International, IW Financial, Greenpeace, Carbon Disclosure Project, Global Reporting Initiative and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and similar sources to create a green rating/scoring tool for more than 5,000 companies. The tools are now in beta. More at CSRHUB. See GreenBiz story.

"VENTURE CAPITAL-A tough time for cleantech start-ups"reliability high.
Article says U.S. venture capitalists, while enthusiastic about cleantech, are starving new cleantech startups of funding while they focus on later rounds for their existing portfolio companies. "investment in new cleantech companies is down as a percentage of overall dollars committed to the sector. VCs invested about 35 percent of their money in American seed and early stage cleantech companies in 2007, but they invested less than 20 percent of their capital in young American cleantech companies in the first six months of this year, according to the MoneyTree Report." More highlights of report. Reuters story.

"Asia Begins Embracing Solar Power"reliability high.
Column notes that solar energy seems to be finally taking off in Asia, and asks why it has been delayed so long. Quotes  Seethapathy Chander, chairman of the committee on energy issues at the Asian Development Bank, as saying, "The upfront costs of installing solar-electricity-generating farms, plus high borrowing costs and the fact that developing nations struggle to access long-term capital, have inhibited the growth of solar energy until recently." "Right now, solar energy accounts for less than a quarter of a percent of overall energy demand in Asia, and only 1 percent or 2 percent in the United States, according to Mr. Chander at the Asian Development Bank." Gives examples of both small-scale and large-scale projects. From The New York Times.

Government and Regulation

"The Charge of California’s Light Brigade"reliability medium.
Felicity Barringer posts that the California Public Utilities Commission has adopted new rules to encourage utilities to "rethink their current consumer subsidies, which tend to focus on compact fluorescents, in favor of the newer and more energy-efficient technologies." She quotes Theresa Cho, an aide to Commissioner Diane Grueneich, as saying, "What we’re telling utilities to do is drastically ramp down incentives and big-box programs for CFL’s. What needs to take place is much more bringing down the first cost of more modern lighting technologies." From New York Times Green blog. [CFLs now mainstream. LEDs deserve promotional support.]