02 November 2010

Wind power woes, UN calculates environmental costs to business, smart grid companies, and more green business news

Top Stories

UN tries to quantify financial impact of environmental degradationreliability high.
A report prepared for the UN Environmental Program says that "the likelihood has climbed sharply that declines in biodiversity would have a "severe" $10bn (£6bn) to $50bn impact on business. ... it suggests banks, investors and insurance companies are starting to calculate the losses that could arise from diminishing supplies, tightened conservation controls and the reputational damage caused by involvement in an unsound project." It cites the loss of value at BP caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster as an extreme example of the costs of environmental mismanagement. See The Guardian. Press release from UNEP here. PDF of the report here.

"China says no significant cut for rare earth quotas"reliability high.
China asserts that it will make no significant change in the export quotas for rare earth minerals and that 2011 quotas will be about the same as those for 2010. "This year, Beijing has slashed export quotas by around 40 percent from 2009 levels, saying it needs to protect reserves from reckless exploitation." Reuters quotes Vice Minister of Commerce, Chen Jian: "China has a management system, but China has no embargoes. But that does not mean you can buy freely, there will be a quota system -- the quota system is a way of management." Reuters article. [Such assurance is unlikely to stop the rush to find alternative suppliers.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Suzlon sees China leading wind power revival in 2011"reliability high.
Comments from Tulsi Tanti, chairman of Suzlon Energy, on Suzlon's hopes for growth in the Chinese wind power market. Suzlon's China plant has been operating below 30% capacity, but the company expects it to be running at capacity from next year. The Indian market still absorbs half of Suzlon's total output. "The Indian market, one of the largest in the world for wind turbine firms, is likely to expand to around 3 to 3.6 gw in 2011, Tanti added." "The Chinese government, meanwhile, has set an ambitious goal of increasing the country’s wind power capacity from around 20 gigawatt (gw) at the end of last year to 90 gigawatt by 2015 in its 12th five-year plan." See DNA. [Those figures suggest the Chinese want to install 10 GW a year over the next five years, three times the 2011 India market.]

However, "Pipestone wind-turbine factory idled; 110 layoffs"reliability high.
"Wind-turbine maker Suzlon Group will idle its Pipestone, Minn., plant, putting 110 workers out of jobs, because the once-booming U.S. wind energy market has lost headway. The layoffs, to take effect Dec. 29, were announced Monday, the same day Suzlon, the world's No. 3 wind energy company, reported a 70 percent drop in U.S. wind turbine installations for the first half of the year." From Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. [Another retrenchment in the wind power industry.]

"Cleantech Venture Investments Fall 55% in Q3"reliability high.
A report from Ernst & Young says "Q3 US venture capital (VC) investment in cleantech companies fell 55% compared to Q3 2009. Companies in the sector saw 53 financing rounds adding up to $575.6 million." Other facts and figures from the report. Video of Joe Muscat, the head of Ernst and Young's cleantech practice, with comments on cleantech financing. See Renewable Energy World.

"Campbell Soup, BNB Napoleon Solar to Build $21.6M for Solar Facility"reliability high.
Napoleon Solar will finance, own and operate a $21.6 million solar facility at Campbell Soup's big manufacturing site in Napoleon, Ohio, using solar panels from SunPower. Campbell will buy all of the electricity under a 20-year power purchase agreement. Campbell wants to get 40% of its power from renewables by 2020. From Environmental Leader.

"32 companies charging the Super Grid now"reliability high.
"In this article, we cover the major fields of super-grid opportunity and the companies, large and small, playing in them. It’s not an exhaustive list, but rather a guide to the companies we believe are currently best positioned to charge up the super grid." Links to many companies active in smartgrid in many subsectors, with comments. See VentureBeat. [A good list.]

Government and Regulation

"Starting in 2011, FTC Will Require EnergyGuide Labels for Televisions"reliability high.
"Televisions manufactured after May 10, 2011 must display EnergyGuide labels so consumers shopping for TVs will have more information about different models and how much energy they use. ... 'Unlike many years ago, before flat screens and plasma, today’s televisions vary widely in the amount of energy they use,' said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. 'By comparing information on the EnergyGuide labels, consumers will be able to make better-informed decisions about which model they choose to buy, based on how much it costs to operate per year.'" See FTC site.