18 October 2010

Green trade spat, IBM greenest? PV companies race to add capacity and other sustainability news for business

Top Stories

"U.S. to probe if China clean energy actions violate WTO rules"reliability high.
"U.S. trade officials said on Friday they will investigate whether Chinese support for its clean energy sector is a violation of World Trade Organization rules, as requested by the United Steelworkers Union." See Reuters. China replied saying the United States was also promoting its energy sector and more than 2,300 projects, including those related to clean energy, were eligible for government subsidies. "As such, the U.S. has no reason to blame other countries' efforts to improve the well-being of mankind." Another Reuters story. [Of course the investigation will take until after the election, and who knows what will happen then.]

"Newsweek's 2010 Green Rankings"reliability high.
Newsweek has published a "data-driven assessment" of how the largest companies in the U.S. and in the world rank in terms of sustainability. Among the top scorers: HP, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Sony, GlaxoSmithKline. At the bottom: Nestle, China Petroleum & Chemical, ArcelorMittal and Rio Tinto. Top of the U.S. list: Dell; bottom, Peabody Energy. From Newsweek. The method of calculating the rankings is described here. [Does anyone else feel that rankings of this sort are becoming increasingly irrelevant?]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Toyota "to Use Bio-PET 'Ecological Plastic' in Vehicle Interiors"reliability high.
Toyota says it will be using "bio-PET2", a plastic partly derived from sugar cane, "to make vehicle liner material and other interior surfaces ... . ... Starting with the luggage-compartment liner in the Lexus 'CT200h' due at the beginning of 2011, TMC plans to increase both the number of vehicle series featuring the new material, as well as the amount of vehicle-interior area covered by it, and intends to introduce a vehicle model in 2011 in which Ecological Plastic will cover 80 percent of the vehicle interior." "Bio-PET" is made by replacing the (some of?) the 30% of PET that is monoethylene glycol "with a biological raw material derived from sugar cane", but the other 70% is still terephthalic acid. More on Toyota and bioplastics. See Toyota site.

"IKEA, McDonald's Add Solar Panels in CA"reliability high.
IKEA will add rooftop solar panels on most of its facilities in California, with total capacity of 4.5 megawatts. More on solar at IKEA. The McDonald's installation is on a rebuilt restaurant in Riverside, which will be its "fourth in the U.S. to seek LEED Gold certification." See Environmental Leader.

"China's annual output of electric vehicles to hit 1 mln by 2020"reliability high.
China's Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang says that new energy vehicles are key to the development of China's auto industry and that the country's annual production capacity of electric motor vehicles will reach 1 million units by 2020. "A total of 8.5 billion yuan (1.28 billion U.S. dollars) from the capital market has entered the electric car industry since the debut of the project in 2009, he said." From People's Daily Online. [China made about 13.8 million motor vehicles in 2009. Maybe it will make 20 million in 2020. So EVs would be only 5% by this projection.]

"Yingli Green to add 700 MW manufacturing capacity"reliability high.
Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. will build additional monocrystalline and multicrystalline silicon PV capacity in China. This follows First Solar's announcement of two new plants, one in Vietnam and one in the U.S., and China's Suntech opening of its first manufacturing plant in the U.S. Booming demand for solar panels is causing current capacity to sell out. Reuters story. (Story on First Solar plans here from Bloomberg Businessweek.)

"15 Algae Fuel Startups, 2010 Edition"reliability medium.
Katie Fehrenbacher posts a list of 15 leading algae startups, (mostly for biofuel) including several that weren't in earth2tech's 2008 list. And some from 2008 aren't around any more. See The GigaOM Network.

"Green movement prying loose details about cleansers"reliability high.
"amid pressure from environmental, health and consumer groups, makers of household cleaning agents are beginning to reveal more about the chemicals in their products, in some cases hoping to head off requirements for greater disclosure." Comments from various stakeholders. See MSNBC.

Government and Regulation

"EU ministers tell hauliers: polluters should pay"reliability high.
The EU Council of Ministers has said EU member states can charge road tolls related to the environmental damage trucks cause. States "will be able to charge an extra 3-4 cents to reflect the cost to public health caused by air and noise pollution. Road authorities will also be able to vary tolls during the day in an attempt to control congestion, for instance by charging more during rush hours." See Reuters article.

"China aims to cut energy intensity 17.3 percent by 2015"reliability high.
As part of an effort to cut energy intensity by 31 percent by 2020 China will reduce energy used for each dollar of economic output by 17.3% by 2015, compared with 2010 levels, according to a statement by Huang Li of the National Energy Administration. He said the plan calls for further reductions of 16.6% during 2016-2020. From Reuters. [How much of this improvement will come from changing the energy mix, how much from energy conservation, and how much from switching to higher-value-added products?]