12 October 2010

What's Google up to? World Bank backs coal, Coke's PlantBottle, Fidelity goes a bit green, Brazil forest strategy and other news

Top Stories

"Google invests in offshore wind super-highway"reliability high.
Google has agreed to provide 37.5% of the equity in the initial development stage of the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) transmission project. The project would cost $6.09bn and would lay a high-capacity backbone along 350 miles of the continental shelf from New Jersey to Virginia. BusinessGreen quotes Rick Needham, Google's green business operations director: "We're willing to take calculated risks on early stage ideas and projects that can have dramatic impacts while offering attractive returns. This willingness to be ahead of the industry and invest in large-scale innovative projects is core to our success as a company." See BusinessGreen. Google official blog post here. Another article in The New York Times.

"World Bank Pressured on Clean Energy"reliability high.
This International Herald Tribune special report says "The amount of money that the World Bank is lending for fossil fuel energy projects ... — for coal in particular — is rising faster than ever". The Medupi Power Station South Africa and the Tata Ultra Mega plant in India, both financed with World Bank loans, will together emit more carbon dioxide annually than countries such as Ireland or Norway. Dan Kammen, the bank's new "clean energy chief", says the bank "had long focused on big energy projects, many based on fossil fuels, but he insisted that this was changing." More about the bank's way of thinking about high-carbon projects. From The New York Times. [Such change might come a little late to prevent the 2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions from the Medupi and Tata plants. According to Doc's metric that's enough to ruin the lives of millions of people. I bet the World Bank did not work that into its cost/benefit analysis.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Lessons Learned from Creating Coke's PlantBottle"reliability medium.
Scott Vitters, global director of sustainable packaging for The Coca-Cola Company, posts about the development and introduction of the "PlantBottle", a redesigned PET bottle made partly with a component made from plant sugars from sugar cane juice and molasses. See GreenBiz blog.

"Japan invests $120m in [Philippines] ethanol plant"reliability high.
Japanese company Itochu Corp. and partners will invest $120 million to build a 54 million-liters-per-year sugar cane to ethanol plant in the Philippines. 11,000 hectares of cane will be planted. The facility will generate 19MW of electricity from bagasse, most of which will be sold to the national grid. From Biofuels International. [Philippines is mandating renewables content in motor fuel, creating huge domestic market for ethanol. Probably there are other incentives also being used in this project.]

"Analysis: Fidelity records first"reliability high.
Reuters reports: "Four mutual funds at Fidelity Investments recently backed an environmentalist proxy proposal for the first time on record, showing how even the historically aloof fund giant has begun to join other investment firms lending more support to green measures." The article notes that there were "scores of occasions when Fidelity's funds abstained on shareholder environmental proposals," but campaigners took heart anyway. More on other firms' and funds' support of environmental proxy bids. Reuters story.

"Daqo Solar IPO, Fat Spaniel Acquired, Greentech VC Deals and M&A"reliability high.
This article provides a summary of recent venture financings, IPOs and acquisitions in the solar and related cleantech sectors. See Greentech Media.

Government and Regulation

"Brazil Amazon forest to be privately managed"reliability high.
To reduce destruction of publicly-owned Amazon forests by illegal logging and land clearance Brazil plans to offer commercial forestry concessions on 1 million hectares of land this year, rising to 11 million hectares within five years. More on the controls embodied in the proposed concessions, and other forest-protection policies in Brazil. "'The future of the Amazon -- combating deforestation and climate change -- is strengthening forest management. I don't see any other solution,' Antonio Carlos Hummel, head of Brazil's National Forestry Service, said". See Reuters article. [To avoid the tragedy of the commons, make them not common.]

Science and Economics

"Half the productivity, twice the carbon [in IT]"reliability high.
A report from scientists at the Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID) in Singapore and Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston finds that limits on carbon emissions could reduce the contribution the information and communication technology industry could make to increasing GDP. Co-author Chris Bronk says, "In the U.S. in 2009, the economic output of the ICT industry per kilogram of CO2 emitted was about $2.83, and in a business-as-usual scenario, that output will fall to about $1.06 per kilogram of CO2 by 2020. Based on those numbers, the industry is headed for a brick wall if limits are placed on CO2 emissions. In a carbon-constrained economy, green innovation will be absolutely essential for ICT profitability." More highlights of report. See EurekAlert. PDF of the research paper here.

And . . .

"Cleantech Open: $180,000 to California Finalists"reliability medium.
The world's largest cleantech business competition has selected the six finalists in its California region, out of 36 semi-finalists. Each of these six entrepreneurial teams received $30,000 in cash/investment and services. Article lists the finalists with thumbnail profiles. Final national winner will be selected from among these and the finalists of the four other regions and will be announced at the National Awards and Expo on 17th November. Winner will get $250,000 in investment and services. See Doc's Green Blog.