11 October 2010

Green consulting billions, 43,000 U.S. offshore wind jobs, nuclear stumbles, Masdar delayed and other sustainability news

Top Stories

"UK sustainable consulting market to hit $1bn this year"reliability high.
A report by Verdantix, UK Sustainable Business Consulting Spend 2010-2013, "suggests the green consultancy market will experience a boom over the next three years, expanding 60 per cent to be worth $1.6bn by 2013." More highlights. See BusinessGreen. Access the report here (registration required).

"Offshore Wind a U.S. Job Boon if Capital Costs Don't Erode Potential -- DOE"reliability high.
ClimateWire reports on a new DOE study: "In a 240-page study of the potential and barriers for building 54 gigawatts' worth of offshore wind capacity, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that doing so means the creation of at least 43,000 permanent jobs. Potential exists for $200 billion in economic activity, and government analysts predict 20 jobs would be created for every megawatt produced off of U.S. shores." More highlights. See The New York Times from ClimateWire. PDF of report here. [Report says offshore wind could allow U.S. to get 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030.]

"Asia-Pacific firms worried over carbon laws: survey"reliability high.
A survey by Standard & Poor's and carbon analytics firm RepuTex found that "Asia-Pacific firms are worried that tougher laws on greenhouse gas emissions will hit financial performance and uncertainties on the issue are already limiting their ability to raise capital," according to this Reuters story. "The study found 41 percent of the respondents reported that to a degree they were already feeling the impact of carbon regulations on their fund-raising activity." Some firms were beginning to explore opportunities "to turn financial risks associated with greenhouse gas emission laws into opportunities to gain a competitive advantage". More highlights of report. From Reuters. Access, I think, here (registration required).

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Abu Dhabi's Green Energy Showpiece City Won't Be Carbon Neutral at First"reliability high.
Bloomberg reports: "Masdar, the Abu Dhabi government- backed renewable energy company, abandoned plans for Masdar City to be carbon-neutral from the start and delayed the city’s first phase by two years to 2015." It quotes an email from the company as saying, "While still aiming to eventually be powered 100 percent by renewable energy, Masdar City will no longer rely solely on on-site clean energy sources. The purchase of renewable energy from off-site locations may also be utilized as energy demands increase over the project’s lifetime." From Bloomberg. [Prestige project falls prey to economic reality. Then again, why build it if it doesn't  make economic sense?]

"U.S. ethanol shoots up on surprise corn shortfall"reliability high.
U.S. ethanol futures prices rose sharply after "The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast a surprisingly small 12.664 billion-bushel U.S. corn crop this year -- 4 percent smaller than the record forecast a month ago -- and the tightest corn supply in 15 years." See Reuters article. [Since gasoline blenders can adjust ethanol content if prices rise, the real squeeze will be on ethanol producers who may not be able to pass on all of their higher costs. Higher corn prices will also affect meat and dairy costs leading to higher prices in future years.]

"Worldwise Transforms Wal-Mart Recyclable Waste into Pet Products"reliability high.
A company called "Worldwise plans to recycle the following Wal-Mart materials into its products:
–Plastic bottles are being recycled into dog beds
–Plastic hangers are being turned into cat litter pans, scoops, and scratchers
–Plastic bags are being converted into cat littler liners
–Corrugated cardboard is being processed into cat scratchers"
This is part of Wal-Mart's plan to eliminate landfill waste from its U.S. stores and Sam’s Club locations by 2025, and Worldwise's Full Circle program "to create a closed loop system that uses customer recyclables in the manufacturing process for new products." From Environmental Leader. [Clever two-way supply chain locks in customers?]

"Economy Sandbags Plans for Nuclear Reactors"reliability high.
The economic slump has put plans for new U.S. nuclear plants on ice, as power prices have fallen due to reduced energy demand, carbon pricing has died in Congress, and loans have become hard to get. The latest casualty is a proposed reactor in Maryland planned by Constellation Energy. Negotiations on a federal loan guarantee broke down when "the Energy Department argued that Constellation’s project is so risky that the company must pay a high fee or provide other assurances of repayment if it wants the taxpayers to guarantee its construction loans. Constellation said the government’s demand was 'unreasonably burdensome.' " More on the nuclear industry. See The New York Times. [Nuclear just can't make the sums work out favorably in today's economic climate. Other sources of electricity, particularly natural gas, are cheaper and less risky financially. Also, Constellation's reactor design was one that has experienced massive cost overruns in its first project in Finland.]

"Green investors not waiting on U.N. climate talks"reliability high.
Richard Nourse, managing partner of renewable energy investment fund Novusmodus, told Rueters that uncertainty about UN climate talks did not affect his investment strategy. "Nothing I am investing in makes me worry about any of those kind of conversations. If I waited around for what happens there I would never make an investment. You have to invest on what is there now, not on what you anticipate the legislation to be." More comments from Nourse on green investment strategy. From Reuters.