08 November 2010

China energy missteps and successes, India-USA cooperation, geoengineering and other green business news

Top Stories

"China energy steps spur diesel shortage: media"reliability high.
"Forced power outages aimed at meeting China's energy-saving goals have led to "unprecedented" diesel shortages, as companies buy diesel generators to keep operating, the Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday," according to Reuters. When the center demanded compliance with energy-use-reduction targets many provincial and local authorities used the heavy-handed tool of power cuts, which led energy users to install diesel backup generators. These sucked diesel fuel out of the markets and probably negated the emission-reduction goals of the central policy. See Reuters.

"Businesses failing carbon accounting test"reliability high.
"Companies are woefully under-prepared to meet carbon accounting standards should the current [UK] government guidelines become mandatory, according to a new survey published" by Deloitte. "Although well over half of companies reported carbon information to some degree – rising to 98 per cent among the FTSE100 firms surveyed, an improvement on the previous year – only nine per cent disclosed information in line with the Defra recommendations." From BusinessGreen.

"China’s Growth in Clean Energy Matches Ambition"reliability high.
"China is emerging from the global recession even more dominant in clean energy and with greater ambitions to be the world’s leader in this sector than previously thought, a new report from the Worldwatch Institute shows. Using a combination of technological advances, aggressive policies, and a strong financial position, China’s growth in renewable energy has far outstripped that of most developed or developing nations." "If China keeps on its current pace, it will be the undisputed global leader in clean energy within the next two years," says Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin. Highlights of report. See Worldwatch Institute site.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Siemens aims to increase green revenue a third by 2014"reliability high.
Industrial supplier Siemens plans to increase its sales from its environmental portfolio to €40bn in revenue by 2014, from about €28bn in fiscal 2010. "‘Green innovations are our lifeblood. We’re the largest supplier of environmental technologies in the world. We want to – and we will – increase our advantage over our most important competitors,’ said Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio managing board member Barbara Kux." From NewNet.

"ADM to Construct Biodiesel Facility in Joaçaba, Brazil"reliability high.
Archer Daniels Midland Company today announced that it will construct a second biodiesel plant in Brazil. The facility, to be built in Joaçaba, Santa Catarina, will be adjacent to existing ADM soybean crushing and refining facilities. With an annual biodiesel production capacity of 164,000 metric tons, the plant will increase ADM’s biodiesel capacity in Brazil by more than 50 percent. From ADM site.

"Cost of Green Power Makes Projects Tougher Sell"reliability high.
The declining cost of fossil energy, due to the recession and to increasing supplies of natural gas from new extraction technology, is forcing state utility commissions to reject PPAs to purchase renewable energy as the cost gap widens. See The New York Times. [Of course the costs of fossil fuels' externalities are never included in these calculations in the West.]

Government and Regulation

"India and U.S. to cooperate on clean energy, shale gas"reliability high.
India and the USA have concluded a 10-year energy research agreement. They will establish a R&D center for clean energy in India to be funded at $5 million annually for the first five years, with additional funding to come from the private sector. They will continue "our joint research into solar, biofuels, shale gas and building efficiency." See Reuters.

Science and Economics

"'Sustainable wood' may still cause damage"reliability high.
Discusses results from Canadian research that suggests that even wood harvested under various sustainable certification schemes such as that of the Forest Stewardship Council, may cause more carbon release than previously thought. Cutting trees releases soil carbon, which takes many years to be rebuilt as the forest regrows. In the research plots soil carbon took 30 years to reach pre-harvest levels, and 100 years to fully recover. Many "sustainably" managed timber sources are not expected to allow long enough rotations. "Shortening harvest rotation times have the potential to make the resource unsustainable, and to contribute to the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases." See The Guardian from environmentresearchweb.

"Biofuel worse for climate than fossil fuel: study"reliability high.
"The indirect effects of the EU's biofuel strategy will generate an extra 27 to 56 million metric tones of greenhouse gas emissions per year, says the report." The report was prepared by nine environmental groups. On the other hand, "The European Commission's energy team says shortfalls in grain can be avoided in several ways, including by improving farming yields and cultivating abandoned land." The biofuels industry says the groups' analysis is based on uncertain science. From Reuters. [Why is that abandoned farmland available--why was it abandoned? Inside Europe, probably because subsidies were decreased so it was no longer profitable to farm it. Outside Europe, probably because prices declined or costs (e.g. irrigation, taxes) increased so it was no longer profitable to farm it. The only way for such farmland to be drawn back into production is for the prices of agricultural commodities that can be grown on it to increase to levels where it is profitable to farm it again. But rising commodity prices will also draw in newly cleared farmland. And even resowing abandoned farmland entails a significant release of CO2 that has been trapped in grassland or forest on the abandoned hectares.]

"Geoengineering"reliability high.
The Economist looks at issues surrounding geoengineering. Looks at some proposed geoengineering ideas, quotes researchers and other participants. "Geoengineering’s growth spurt will need to be matched by some grown-up questioning. Who benefits? Who decides? Who faces the risk?" See The Economist. [Good overview of some of the issues. See also previous posts here and here. Such an article still comes under "Science", but soon these may be appearing in "Government and Regulation".]