Archive | Business & Economics

Report: Green Energy Funds Fall Slightly

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 28 (UPI) — International support for combating climate change has slipped only slightly during the recession, a report presented in Davos, Switzerland, said Thursday.

The unexpected resilience in funding was partly the result of economic stimulus programs that leaned on green energy initiatives and partly the result of the Copenhagen Accord of December 2009 in which the international community pledged $100 billion to help developing countries, a statement issued by the World Economic Forum said.

Funding to combat global warming fell 6 percent from $155 billion in 2008 to $145 billion in 2009, said the report entitled “Green Investing, 2010: Policy Mechanisms to Bridge the Financing Gap.”

A separate report said there was still a huge gap in funding needed to restrict global warming to an average temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius.

The report, “Green Investing: Toward a Low Carbon Energy Infrastructure” said $500 billion per year would be required to keep climate change below that target.

“The world needs a substantial increase in private investment flows into clean energy and energy efficiency if we want to avoid severe impacts of climate change,” said Jack Ehnes, Chief Executive Officer, CalSTRS and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Committee.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Business & Economics, Energy Efficiency, Infrastructure0 Comments

Swiss Alps Wildlife Hurt by Increase in Winter Tourism

BERN, Switzerland, Dec. 27 (UPI) — Swiss authorities say they are urging winter tourists to be aware of their impact on wildlife in the Alps.

With the booming popularity of winter sports such as free-ride snowboarding and snowshoe walking, Alpine wildlife — especially its deer population — is being impacted as never before, and officials are becoming concerned that human activity is threatening their survival, Swissinfo reported Sunday.

In response, Swiss federal wildlife officials, in cooperation with environmental groups and tourism managers, have launched an international awareness campaign urging visitors to stick to established routes, the Web site said.

Swiss mountain ranger Andres Overturf wouldn’t point fingers at any particular sport or activity, but noted that skiers, snowboarders and cross-country snowshoe hikers are all impacting wildlife by taking unpredictable paths.

“Animals can get used to human presence off-piste but only if people stick to the same routes and zones,” Overturf told Swissinfo, saying wild animals are losing crucial retreat spaces and must expend much physical energy to run away through high snow and cold temperatures.

“Added to this is food scarcity and often there is not enough time to rest because of the stress,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Animals, Business & Economics, Consumer Products, Ecosystems, Mammals, Nature & Ecosystems, Pollution & Toxins, Recreation & Travel, Walking0 Comments

Duke Energy to Spend $93M for Violations

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 22 (UPI) — Duke Energy will spend $85 million to resolve Clean Air Act violations at its Indiana plant and pay a $1.75 million fine, federal officials said Tuesday.

The company agreed to reduce harmful air pollution and pay the penalty under a settlement to resolve the violations, the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency said in a joint release.

The settlement also requires Duke Energy to invest $6.25 million on environmental mitigation projects, the agencies said.

The agreement, filed in federal court in Indianapolis, resolves violations found at the company’s Gallagher coal-fired power plant in New Albany, Ind., across the Ohio River from Louisville. The settlement is expected to reduce the plant’s sulfur dioxide emissions by almost 35,000 tons per year, an 86 percent reduction when compared to 2008 emission levels, the Justice Department said.

The settlement also requires Duke to spend $6.25 million on environmental mitigation projects, including $250,000 for the U.S. Forest Service to address acid rain in downwind national forests, $5 million for at least one project such conversion to hydro-generation or hybrid vehicle fleets, and $1 million for environmental mitigation projects allocated among the states — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — that joined the settlement.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Air Pollution Remediation, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Business & Economics, Coal, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Ethics & Responsibility, Justice0 Comments

Al Gore Says He is Proud to Invest in Green Companies and is not a "Carbon Billionaire" as the New York Times Suggests

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) — Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said Tuesday he’s proud to invest in green companies and is not a “carbon billionaire” as portrayed in a published report.

“I am proud to put my money where my mouth is for the past 30 years,” Gore said during ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “And though that is not the majority of my business activities, I absolutely believe in investing in accordance with my beliefs and my values.”

The New York Times, in its Tuesday edition, called Gore the first “carbon billionaire,” saying he has profited from policies he supported.

Gore said he thinks the United States will succeed in moving toward renewable energy sources. He said the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December will be another step in attaining that goal, and provide an opportunity to “create millions of new jobs here at home and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil by relying on energy that is here in the United States, renewable energy that creates jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

While President Barack Obama hasn’t committed yet to attending the conference, Gore said he felt “certain” Obama would go.

“(This) conference is very crucial,” Gore said. “First, because the scientists have been saying for quite some time we still have time to avoid the worst of the consequences of this cataclysm that is now unfolding.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Business & Economics, Energy, Policies & Solutions0 Comments

More Companies Embrace Concept of 'Zero Waste' and Reducing Garbage

NEW YORK, Oct. 20 (UPI) — More companies, national parks and even restaurants are embracing the idea of zero waste when it comes to reducing garbage, a U.S. trash expert says.

The zero waste movement means shunning polystyrene foam containers, or other packaging that is not biodegradable, and recycling or composting what you can, said Jon Johnston, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency manager who is helping to lead the zero-waste movement.

Companies are embracing the concept more quickly than private citizens because of the cost of disposing of waste, Johnston said.

“Reaching down to my household and yours is the greatest challenge,” he told The New York Times.

Honda has become so good at recycling that eight of its North American plants no longer use trash Dumpsters. At Yellowstone National Park, the soda cups and utensils are made of plant-based plastics that dissolve when heated for more than a few minutes.

“Technology exists, but a lot of education still needs to be done,” Johnston said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Business & Economics, Composting, Education, Other, Packaging, Recycling, Science, Space, & Technology1 Comment

BP Expands U.S. Wind Power Operations

LONDON, Sept. 17 (UPI) — BP is expanding its wind power electricity generation capacity in the United States but is shedding an Indian unit, which has been sold to Green Infra Limited of India.

BP said Green Infra Limited purchased its subsidiary, BP Energy India Private Limited, for a total cash-free, debt-free enterprise value of about $95 million. Green Infra Limited is an independent power producer owned by funds managed by India’s leading infrastructure-focused private equity company, IDFC Private Equity.

BPEIPL owns and operates three wind farms in India with a total generating capacity of about 100 megawatts. The transaction was completed Wednesday.

BP’s decision to sell BPEIPL stemmed from a strategic review in 2008 that shifted focus on developing key wind power markets, especially the United States, as part of its future business strategy.

“We estimate that if 10 percent of the world’s power came from wind, it would cut CO2 emissions by one billion tons per year,” BP said.

The challenge, however, is to expand wind operations to form a material business that can own and operate gigawatts of installed power.

David Nicholas, a BP spokesman, told United Press International the company currently operates six wind power units in the United States and has begun construction of two more this year.

The electricity-generating wind farms include Cedar Creek, Colo., of which BP owns 33 percent and runs in partnership with Babcock & Brown. The wind farm has a gross capacity of 300 megawatts.

The Edom Hills wind farm in California has a gross capacity of 20 megawatts and is wholly owned by BP.

Other wind farms operated by BP include Sherbino Phase I, Texas, which has a gross capacity of 150 megawatts and runs in partnership with Padoma Wind (NRG). BP has a 50 percent stake in the unit.

BP owns 50 percent of Flat Ridge Phase 1, Kansas, which has gross capacity of 100 megawatts and runs with partner Westar Energy.

Silver Star Phase 1, Texas, with a gross capacity of 60 megawatts, is owned 85 percent by BP and is operated in partnership with Clipper Wind.

Fowler Ridge Phase 1 in Indiana has a gross capacity of 400 megawatts and is owned 62 percent by BP and operated jointly with partner Dominion.

At the end of the second quarter of this year, BP’s total net wind capacity was 678 megawatts, including about 100 megawatts from the Indian wind projects and about 30 megawatts from two small installations at a BP refinery and oil terminal in the Netherlands.

The two new wholly owned projects being built in the United States will start producing electricity early next year at Titan in South Dakota, 25 megawatts, BP 100 percent, and Fowler Ridge Phase II, Indiana, at 200 megawatts, Nicholas said.

Following the 2008 strategic review, BP decided to concentrate its global wind development activities on its portfolio of onshore wind development projects and opportunities that it had built up across the United States, Nicholas said.

BP has been building a wind business in the United States with interests in more than 1,000 megawatts of installed gross generating capacity and more than 1,000 megawatts gross capacity at an advanced stage of development. The company says its U.S. wind energy portfolio contains almost 100 projects, with a total potential generating capacity of up to 20,000 megawatts.

BP is one of the largest integrated oil companies in the world, with revenues of $361 billion in 2008.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Business & Economics, Electricity, Energy, Infrastructure, Other, Wind1 Comment

China Imposes Carbon Taxes on Imports from Countries Lacking Environmental Laws

BEIJING, Sept. 16 (UPI) — China says a proposed carbon tax on imported goods from countries without stringent environmental laws would violate World Trade Organization rules.

Expressing his government’s firm opposition to any such tax, Chinese Assistant Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said it would amount to trade protectionism, China Daily reported.

The carbon tax as it relates to climate change is expected to figure at the Group of 20 Summit next week in Pittsburgh.

Referring to a bill passed by U.S. Congress in June, the China Daily said beginning 2020 its provision would require the U.S. president to impose a tariff on certain goods from countries that do not act to limit carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming. A similar tax for Europe has been suggested by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the report said.

“We hope that certain developed countries will refrain from (imposing a carbon tax) that will not benefit them and will hurt the interests of other countries,” Zhu said.

Some Chinese economists have suggested their government levy a carbon tax on Chinese exports so the revenue will stay at home as under WTO rules, the same tax cannot be charged twice on the same items.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Business & Economics, Other0 Comments

Residual Garbage Transforms Into Electricity, Biofuel and Fuel Cells

Jack Oslan is a many who recently grabbed our attention when reading through the Fresno Bee’s web site. Oslan operates a business in the San Francisco Bay area called TerGeo Ventures Incorporated. TerGeo, as a business, transforms all sorts of waste into electricity, biofuel and fuel cells.

This month’s Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual business expo sponsored a panel on the future of energy for California’s Central Valley. Sanford Nax, an author for the Fresno Bee has more on Oslan, the panel, and TerGeo Ventures…

Oslan was in Fresno on Friday to participate in a panel discussion on the future of energy in the Central Valley. The panel was part of the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual business expo, held at the Radisson Hotel. The event was expected to draw about 1,000 people.

He said the nation’s landfills are closing at the rate of one a day, and the remaining 3,000 are reaching capacity. “Pretty soon we will run out of places to put our trash,” he said.

His company, he said, can convert much of the garbage into synthetic gas, which is then sold as energy. What’s left becomes inert ash, which is sold as soil conditioner or used in construction, he said.

TerGeo is hooking up with a farmer to process garlic skins into energy to help power his growing operation. “It will take the overflow, and instead of paying to haul it away, we can use it to create power to run back into the farming operation,” he said.

Such partnerships will become more likely and more cost-effective as technology advances, experts say. And the University of California at Merced plans to be a leader in developing those renewable energy technologies.

According to Nax, next year’s expo held by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will study another environmental issue that hits close to home – that of water.

Posted in Business & Economics, Electricity, Fuel Cells0 Comments

Solar Panel Production to Double at Sanyo

Sanyo Electric Company, a long time manufacturer of consumer electronics said on Monday that they plan to double their current production of solar panel manufacturing because of increased demand.

Sustainable Business News noted that…

The company said demand for solar panels in Japan is on the rise, as a result of renewed government subsidies for residential solar power systems.

The new facility will have a capacity of 100,000 kilowatts (kw), raising the annual output capacity of the Shiga plant to 200,000kw.

Sanyo’s global solar panel capacity will grow about 30% to 450,000kw.

In June, Sanyo announced plans to increase annual solar cell production at its Shimane Sanyo facility to 220,000kw from 130,000kw by April 2010. In addition, the firm is constructing a new solar cell factory at its Osaka plant. Overall cell output capacity is expected to reach 600,000kw a year by the end of fiscal 2011.

In September of 2008, Japanese government officials created incentives for the use and installation of residential solar power systems. The effort was pushed forward to help boost Japan’s domestic solar business and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Posted in Business & Economics, Electronics, Other, Solar4 Comments

Research & Development: Transforming Energy Markets or Betting on Mistakes?

There’s no better way to take the pulse of innovation than to survey R&D spending. And there’s no better time than during a downturn, because history tells us that this is the opportunity for businesses to gain advantage by investing and growing.

Two recent R&D surveys, one from the Wall Street Journal and the other from McKinsey were released recently and both confirm that many companies are still spending on R&D (for now).

(Photo: Battelle Institute)

So what about green investment? Are companies spending on cleantech? They should be, since transforming energy markets (which is critical) will require an unprecedented level of R&D.

But the challenges are enormous. The energy industry is the largest on the planet, with sales of more than $2 trillion a year, and industrial labs and government have scaled back R&D drastically over the past 20 to 30 years.

Still, the Obama administration seems at least to recognize the need. It has outlined an ambitious policy to invest in energy R&D, a big reversal from previous years of shrinking energy R&D budgets. Whether the government can sustain the investment is unclear (R&D is expensive) but the gains from R&D today will far exceed the up-front cost 20 years down the road.

Encouragingly, the Battelle Institute, which tracks R&D investment, predicts cumulative spending by companies, government and universities will rise 3 percent this year, although it predicts a decline in 2010. Battelle notes that R&D cuts during the downturns of the 1980s and 1990s took more than five years to return to prior spending levels.

Companies keeping up R&D funding include Microsoft, which spent 21 percent more in fourth quarter 2008 over 2007, while revenue was virtually flat. IBM is also spending on R&D, partly because of government-stimulus money. IBM says it plans to keep its R&D spending at the same level it was last year. Corning claims it will cut everything else possible before cutting R&D. Corning executives devised a strategy last summer called “rings of defense” to put into play during this downturn. In this strategy, R&D is in the innermost ring.

On the flip side, McKinsey cites evidence that some companies are pondering reductions in R&D spending. In its survey, 40 percent of respondents say their companies are actively seeking to reduce R&D costs. Some 34 percent of executives surveyed said R&D budgets are lower in 2009 than they were in 2008. The majority also said they’re taking a new approach to R&D in the current economic circumstances, with many turning to shorter-term, lower-risk projects.

That’s a little alarming, considering the historical benefits of investing in long-term innovation. But at least some realize that slowing R&D amounts to gradual self-destruction. “Companies by and large realize that large reductions in R&D are suicidal,” said Jim Andrew, senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group, in the WSJ story. “It is the last shoe to drop.”

Posted in Business & Economics, Energy, Energy Industry, Other0 Comments

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