11 November 2010

EPA clarifies CO2 regs, some renewables reaching parity, biofuels uncertainty, other news, and the not so green department

Top Stories--EPA Permitting Guidelines

"EPA Issues Guidelines for States' Permitting for Greenhouse Gases"reliability high.
The "U.S. EPA has released a long-awaited guidance document that instructs state and local officials how to start issuing permits for power plants, refineries and other large stationary sources of greenhouse gases when EPA's new climate rules take effect next year." The guidance document emphasizes using energy efficiency and "best available control technology" to reduce carbon emissions where feasible. At The New York Times from Greenwire.

"EPA to push efficiency on big carbon emitters"reliability high.
"U.S. environmental regulators said on Wednesday they will not force coal plants and manufacturers to adopt specific technologies to cut greenhouse gas output, but will push them to become more energy efficient in order to comply with looming climate rules." Article discusses implications of regulatory guidance recently issued by the EPA. See Reuters.

The EPA's guidance is here as PDF.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Concentrated solar, biofuels competitive soon: BCG"reliability high.
A new report from Boston Consulting Group suggests that some renewable energy technologies will be cost-competitive with fossil fuel technologies within a few years to a decade. "'There may be a silent revolution under way,' Balu Balagopal, a senior partner, said in an interview ahead of the report's release." The report is particularly positive about solar thermal generation technology and second-generation biofuels. Reuters story. Press release from BCG here. "What’s Next for Alternative Energy?" report available in PDF here.

"Bioplastics information overload"reliability medium.
Doris de Guzman posts a roundup of recent news on bioplastics, including info about Cardia Bioplastics, BayerMaterial Science, Dow Chemical, Wacker Chemie and several others. See ICIS Green Chemicals blog.

"EU biofuels growth on hold as green benefits queried"reliability high.
"The (biofuels) industry is being held back by a lack of robust discrimination between what is good and what is bad," says Alwyn Hughes, chief executive of major UK biofuels firm Ensus. Referring to the indirect land use change debate he said, "The uncertainty around this clearly puts question marks over the growth of the industry but it is equally clear there are some very good biofuels out there. The NGOs are really having a go at the people who are driving deforestation. I agree with them that they should be taken out of the mix." He said that the issue needed to be resolved before companies like his could invest further in the sector. Article in Reuters. [It is obvious that the use of wheat and maize to make biofuels drives up the prices of wheat and maize. That is why farmers, and their representatives, are so keen on promoting such markets. If the price of wheat and maize go up, more wheat and maize will be planted. The question is where they will be planted. On conservation set-asides? On former virgin forest? On formerly uneconomical pasture and range land? From land formerly planted to other crops (which will drive up the cost of those other crops in turn)?]

Utility Company Turns Food Scraps Into Electricityreliability high.
Feature story about East Bay Municipal Utility District's use of restaurant food waste in its biodigesters to generate additional electricity to power its sewage treatment plant in Oakland. This is the largest food-scrap-to-energy system in the U.S. See The Bay Citizen.

"Lights out for London"reliability high.
"The London Assembly's Environment Committee are launching an investigation into the reasons lights are left on in workplaces overnight in London." "Turning off lights saves energy and money. So we want to understand why so many workplaces leave lights on overnight., " said GLA Environment Committee chair Darren Johnson. From edie.net. [Every city dweller has probably asked, "Why do those big buildings leave so many floors all lit up all night?]

"5 Simple Ways to Create a Green Procurement Program"reliability medium.
Suggestions from Richard Goode, Senior Director of Sustainability at Alcatel-Lucent, on how to green your supply chain. "By wisely using the influence your purchasing power gives you, a company can raise the environmental performance of an entire industry. Make sustainable purchasing a priority and ask for the most environmentally friendly alternative at the same price as traditional offerings." Some more specific recommendations. See GreenBiz.

"EU reports biggest ever fall in car emissions in 2009"reliability high.
"Average carbon dioxide emissions from new cars sold in the European Union dropped by 5 percent last year, the biggest annual fall ever recorded, European climate chief Connie Hedegaard said on Wednesday." The economic crisis and scrappage schemes contributed to the decline, she said. From Reuters. [Perhaps economic uncertainty led potential buyers of heavier, more powerful, more polluting (and more expensive) vehicles to put off purchases. Will we see a bounceback in 2011 as economies improve, or have tastes really changed?]

Government and Regulation (and Not So Green Department)

"$1.1bn wasted on solar power"reliability high.
"More than $1 billion of taxpayers' money was wasted on subsidies for household solar roof panels that favoured the rich and did little to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, a scathing review has found. ... In total, the government spent $1.1 billion installing 107,000 rooftop solar panels. ... All solar panel systems installed under the program combined reduced Australia's emissions by just 0.015 per cent, and cost up to $301 per tonne of carbon saved". ''When poorly targeted and designed, these programs can be wasteful and produce predominantly private rather than public benefits,'' says the review. From Sydney Morning Herald.