29 October 2010

GE's giant EV buy, climate financing, supply chain footprint reporting, and other green business news

Top Stories

"GE to place 'largest ever order' for electric vehicles"reliability high.
"GE is set to order "tens of thousands" of electric vehicles in a move that will provide a major boost to the embryonic market and bear out predictions that large corporate customers will drive adoption of the emerging technology. ... under the initiative about half of GE's sales force would drive electric cars, leading to estimates that the company could purchase up to 23,000 vehicles". The orders will probably be spread among several manufacturers. More on EV prospects. See BusinessGreen. [We have been seeing orders for EVs, especially delivery trucks, in the numbers of tens or twenties. This GE order is three orders of magnitude bigger. If they buy (not lease) this is a half-billion-dollar order.]

"A preview of a flawed report on climate-change financing"reliability high.
The Economist summarizes what can be learned from the drafts of the upcoming report of the UN "advisory group on finance" that is supposed to figure out how the rich world can provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help the developing world deal with climate change. It appears that private investment will have to be the bulk of the funds, with carbon credit markets contributing only a small fraction. The question will be how to get governments to apply their funds so as to provide the most leverage to encourage that private finance. From The Economist. [One thing is obvious--that $100 million won't be no-strings-attached gifts from rich governments. If private capital invests in developing-world energy projects, it will want to own and profit from those projects. If it provides loans it will want a reasonable return. Carbon markets will provide nearly zero investment capital for low-carbon projects. To the extent that this $100 million is the payoff for the developing world to commit to emission reductions or carbon prices, it won't buy much. The fast-growing developing countries like China and India are already among the best fields for private investment of any kind. Firms are falling over themselves to invest in green projects and markets in China. Perhaps this UN effort is irrelevant.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"3 MW Solar Installation Begins in Pennsylvania"reliability high.
GlaxoSmithKline is installing a 3MW rooftop PV solar system on its distribution center in York, PA. This will be the largest rooftop system in North America when complete. "GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare received government funding and solar incentives to help finance the project.  A $1 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Financing Authority and $4.1 million in federal tax credits will help pay for the project. GSK will also utilize energy savings and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) to offset costs." See Renewable Energy World.

"Better Place to bring battery swapping taxi program to San Francisco Bay Area"reliability medium.
"After several months of successful operation in Tokyo, Better Place has decided that it's time for its switchable battery technology to make the trip to the Bay Area in California. Over the next three years, Better Place, with support from the U.S. Department of Transportation and other key groups, will deploy and operate four battery exchange stations in the San Francisco to San Jose corridor. A fleet of 61 electric taxis will be converted over to make use of Better Place's battery swap stations." From Autoblog Green. [Welcome home.]

"10 Ways to Improve Your Company's Energy Management"reliability high.
John Schinter of AT&T posts that "Effective energy management helps reduce a company's environmental impact and benefits the company's bottom line. Below, I have outlined 10 ways that a company can be effective in improving its energy management and efficiency." Discusses such topics as measurement, goals, communication, accountability and "Invest in power-saving technologies". See GreenBiz blog.

"Solar Power Projects Face Potential Hurdles"reliability high.
In a flurry of approvals several giant solar projects in California and Arizona are ready to break ground before key incentives expire at the end of the year. The plants will have 4 GW capacity if all are built out completely. But the expiry of incentives mean that there will be a period when no similar plants will be undertaken. "Without continued government incentives that vastly reduce the risks to investors, solar companies planning another dozen or so plants say they may not be able to raise enough capital to proceed. ... The most crucial is a loan guarantee program, expiring next September, that allows them to borrow money on favorable terms to finance up to 80 percent of construction costs. The other is the option to take a 30 percent tax credit in the form of a cash payment once a project is built." More on the challenges facing large solar projects in the West. From The New York Times.

"The Latest CDP Results Reveal the Rise of Scope 3 Reporting"reliability high.
Ryan Schuchard of BSR posts that Global 500 Report, Carbon Disclosure Project's (CDP) annual summary of climate reporting by the world's 500 largest companies shows nearly half reported on "scope 3" emissions, the emissions of companies in their supply chains and others over which they have influence but not direct control. "At the same time, the quality and scope of reporting is improving dramatically." Interview on how Kraft Foods developed its scope 3 reporting. More on supply chain emissions issues. See GreenBiz blog. [Big businesses will have to adopt such accounting.]