03 November 2010

California carbon law survives, nukes in India, auto parts suppliers must adapt, push for greener buildings in U.S., UK; plus more green news

Top Stories

"Climate law survives Prop 23 challenge at California polls"reliability high.
A campaign "largely funded by oil companies" to block implementation of California's AB 32, which calls for a cap-and-trade system to reduce the state's greenhouse emissions among other things, has been defeated at the polls. "The defeat of Proposition 23 marked a big victory for Silicon Valley investors, who poured millions of dollars into defending California's AB 32 law and protecting their massive investments in green technologies ranging from solar power to electric cars." Election of Gerry Brown as governor also encouraged the industry. He is in favor of higher renewable energy requirements. See The Guardian from Reuters. [A big sigh of relief is heard in Silicon Valley, among the members of the Western Climate Initiative carbon trading plan, and from carbon marketers, among others. Markets like certainty, and this segment has eliminated a big source of unpredictability.]

"India signs nuclear liability convention"reliability medium.
India has signed India has signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage at the IAEA which sets standards for compensation in the event of a nuclear accident. However this does not change India's domestic nuclear liability law. This post from Dan Yurman reviews the complex political and diplomatic situation that arises from India's law that puts liability on nuclear plant component suppliers, which is unacceptable to private U.S. companies who want to sell such components to India. From Nuke Notes. [A good summary of the tangled diplomatic situation in advance of President Obama's upcoming visit to India. Indian PM Singh is in a tough spot. Signing the IAEA convention doesn't change the situation but is seen by the U.S. as a "very positive step". Shadow of the Bhopal disaster: India doesn't trust foreign companies or foreign technologies (or in the case of nuclear technology even Indian companies--only the government can operate atom plants), but it can't build nuclear plants on its own. (And is the government really more competent to handle complex technology than private companies? That's another question.)]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"GE to supply wind turbines to Suncor wind project"reliability high.
Suncor, Canada's biggest oil company, has ordered 55 General Electric Co 1.6 megawatt wind turbines for an 88 MW wind project near Calgary, Alberta. See Reuters. [In spite of slump in the wind industry, orders still come in.]

"Japan’s Auto Parts Makers Try to Anticipate Shift to Electric Cars"reliability high.
People in Hamamatsu, Japan, refer to it as "electric vehicle shock". They are concerned what will happen to their car parts industry as EVs replace those with internal combustion engines. Osamu Suzuki, president of Suzuki Motors, says, "We are in the midst of an industrial revolution. Our suppliers need to start studying how they can transform their businesses." This story says, "According to a study published in August by the Shizuoka Economic Research Institute, almost 30 percent of sales in Japan’s 34.6 trillion yen ($430 billion) auto parts industry comes from parts that could be rendered obsolete by electricity-powered vehicles." From The New York Times. [ICEs aren't dead yet. And some "electric vehicles" still have gas engines, like the Volt. But parts makers are right to anticipate change. Is this really that different from other shifts in auto technology? What happened to carburetor makers?

"PG&E’s 5MW Wave Energy Project Sinks"reliability medium.
Ucilia Wang posts that Pacific Gas and Electric Company has shelved a proposed project to test wave energy electricity generation off the north coast of California. "PG&E opted to discontinue with the project because of the costs of financing a project that would’ve involved unproven technologies and been limited in its ability to expand, said company spokesman Brian Swanson. ... The company is continuing with its proposed plan to do a pilot project off the coast of Santa Barbara County in central California." See The GigaOM Network.

"Honda CEO sees potential in electric car market"reliability high.
Takanobu Ito, CEO of Honda, says it looks like electric vehicles are a viable market segment, a switch from Honda's stance of years past. He said, "It's starting to look like there will be a market for electric vehicles (EVs). We can't keep shooting down their potential, and we can't say there's no business case for it." He said pure EVs make more sense than plug-in hybrids. Reuters story.

"New Zealand wine first in world to come with carbon footprint label"reliability high.
The New Zealand Wine Company will calculate life-cycle carbon footprints for its Mobius Marlborough sauvignon blanc for each of its export markets and provide a label on the bottle. "So bottles sold in New Zealand, for example, will carry a figure of 140g CO2 [per 125ml glass], whereas bottles shipped to Australia will display 190g. ... the wine is the world's first to be certified by the UK's Carbon Trust". From The Guardian. [The main purpose is for marketing, to provide a "warm and fuzzy" feeling. Especially so since if no other wines carry such labels there is no possibility of comparison. No consumer would know if 190g of CO2 per glass (more than 1 kg per bottle) is a lot or a little.]

Government and Regulation

"Historic US Vote Makes Buildings 30% More Energy Efficient"reliability medium.
Susan Kraemer posts about vote by US building officials to support the building codes that require 30% more efficient buildings for every state under the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code. "Under the terms of the Recovery Act (ARRA), every state that accepted State Energy Program funding had to commit to 90% energy code compliance by 2017.  Virtually every state did accept this assistance". Implementation of these modern codes around the country could have a significant impact on growth of greenhouse gas emission. From CleanTechnica. [Washington isn't the only place carbon-reducing laws and regulations can come from. See also California item above. (After Republican House victories nobody expects any serious federal climate legislation for a while.) ]

"Landlords face fines for energy inefficiency"reliability high.
Britain's newly proposed scheme for improving the insulation of existing homes includes a provision to fine landlords who rent housing without adequate insulation. Earlier promotional schemes got some homeowners to upgrade insulation, but not landlords. The program allows building owners to improve insulation at no up-front cost, with the cost added to utility bills over several years. The theory is that energy savings will offset the additional costs. "The government will press councils to use existing legislation more actively, under which they are able to compel a landlord to carry out the work or do the work themselves and charge the landlord. They can also impose a fine of £5,000." A few more details of the proposal. See The Guardian.