08 October 2010

Small business case study, green jobs at Tesla, algae projections, India financing, meat trends and other green news for business

Top Stories

"How One Small Business Cut Energy Use and Costs"reliability medium.
Tom Bowman writes that "the majority of small companies are neither clean-tech start-ups, nor likely to build new facilities. Experiments with my own company, which fits this common profile, suggest that we can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions rapidly and cost-effectively, and that some of the barriers to action are misunderstood. ... My company’s frustrating search for effective, affordable opportunities eventually led to a surprising discovery: Cost-saving opportunities to reduce carbon emissions are ever-present in the normal course of business operations." Examples of how this 10-employee company "reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 65 percent, gasoline use by 63 percent, landfill waste by 45 percent, and water use by 18 percent. We cut costs for electricity by 40 percent, gasoline by 59 percent, and water by 20 percent. ... the company saves about $9,000 annually". See Yale Environment 360. [The real world.]

"China surges, India lags in R&D spending"reliability medium.
A recent report on global R&D by Goldman Sachs shows "China ranks third in research and development (R&D) investment, after the United States and Japan and far head of India among Asian nations ... . ... China's investment as a share of [GDP] has doubled since 1999, reaching 1.5 per cent in 2007, behind the 3.5 per cent investment in Japan and Korea; while India's stagnated at 0.7." More highlights from report. From SciDev.net. PDF of Goldman Sachs report here.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Tesla looking to double engineering staff"reliability high.
"Tesla's engineering staff is likely to double in the next six to nine months," according to vice president of powertrain hardware engineering Jim Dunlay in this Reuters piece. "The company is hiring in all departments including research and development, manufacturing and manufacturing engineering. Tesla currently has about 250 engineers". See Reuters story. [Some of the green jobs you've heard about.]

"New Financial Product Provides Financing Boost to Energy Efficiency Projects in India"reliability high.
"A new financial product aimed at driving investment into energy-efficiency projects performed by Indian energy service companies (ESCOs) is being launched this week by the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) and the World Resources Institute (WRI). ... 'Our ultimate aim in driving greater investment in the ESCO industry is to help companies become more energy efficient and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a more sustainable development in India and across the world,' said Sanjoy Sanyal, the country director of New Ventures India, an initiative of WRI that is working on the financial product." See WRI site.

"Electric cars put lithium miners on fast track"reliability high.
Article about how battery- and auto-makers are protecting their lithium supply chains. "Four major producers have long dominated lithium output and demand is likely to double in the next 10 years as automakers roll out hybrid and electric cars using lithium-ion batteries." Stocks of mining firms have soared. See Reuters.

Government and Regulation

"South Africa to halve reliance on coal, push for nuclear"reliability high.
South Africa hopes to cut its near total reliance on coal. "in a draft of its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2), a 20-year electricity capacity programme, the government proposed that coal's contribution should drop to 48 percent. Instead, the government sees nuclear supplying 14 percent of the country's energy mix by 2030 and renewable energy 16 percent, while the remaining capacity would come from open cycle gas turbines, pump storage schemes and imported power generated from hydroelectric plants." Nuclear currently supplies 6% of power from one plant. Government also wants private investors to reduce government-owned 95% share of market. See Reuters article. [Many factors at work here: Like India South Africa can't supply the electricity the economy needs, crippling development; underinvestment at government-owned Eskom means plants are unreliable and old; government doesn't have cash for investment so needs private players; coal supplies quality declining (is "peak coal" hitting coal-rich South Africa?); environmental issues; switch to gas.]

Science and Economics

"Is Algae Biodiesel a Decade Away?"reliability high.
Dutch researchers publishing in Science estimate microalgae could become an economically viable source of fuels in 10 to 15 years. "By looking at existing technologies and modeling a variety of commercial-scale plants, the researchers determined it would take a decade for algae-based biodiesel to become cost-competitive in Europe. ... Companies like Algenol, Solix, Solazyme and OriginOil say they are making – or on the road to making – between 2,000 and 5,000 gallons of fuel per acre." See Renewable Energy World. Abstract here (full article behind $15 paywall).

"Meat diets pose environmental danger: report"reliability high.
A recent "paper used coarse estimates to argue that, on current trends, livestock farming on its own -- disregarding all other human activity -- would push the world near danger levels for climate change and habitat destruction by mid-century." The authors argue that average global meat consumption will have to be cut significantly. Reuters story. Abstract of report in PNAS here (full report behind $10 paywall).