New Study: How Soon Can We Expect Wide Benefits from Plug-In Hybrids?

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday December 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

plug-in-hybrid-car-phevWith GM’s Volt and Toyota’s Plug-In Prius coming to the market within the next two years, how soon can we expect plug-in hybrids to deliver on their social and ecological benefits? A new study by the National Academy of Sciences projects significant fuel savings and emissions reductions by 2030.

Is this soon enough? Some say this is a pessimistic, though realistic scenario. I believe, however, that the study makes some flawed assumptions and that it is still too early to predict market acceptance behavior.

According to the study, the main reason we should not expect significant penetration of plug-in hybrid vehicles before 2030 is the price differential. A plug-in hybrid with a 10-mile all electric range, such as the Toyota Plug-In Prius, is expected to add $6000 to the sticker price. A plug-in hybrid with a 40-mile all electric range, such as GM’s Volt, is expected to add $18,000 to the sticker price. Given current fuel prices and government support, the study projects 13 million plug-in hybrids by 2030 (out of 300 million vehicles).

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Silicon Valley to Copenhagen: It’s OK to Fail, If You Do It Right

3p Contributor | Wednesday December 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Grist, and is re-posted with permission.

By Jonathan Hiskes, Grist Staff Writer

If at first you don't succeed... A lesson from Silicon Valley for climate policymakers. Photo Credit: iStockphoto (with permission from Grist)

If at first you don't succeed... A lesson from Silicon Valley for climate policymakers. Photo Credit: iStockphoto (with permission from Grist)

COPENHAGEN—At the “To Be or Not To Be” business summit at Hamlet’s Castle over the weekend, one French executive joked about not trusting a business that was less than 150 years old (ah, those witty folk from “old Europe” …). But there was a very different perspective on display at a “view from Silicon Valley” reception in downtown Copenhagen on Monday.

The carbon-accounting software startup Hara hosted the event, bringing its CEO, its “chief green officer,” and two venture capital partners to speak about what California’s clean tech industry can teach those trying to address climate change. Hara is six months old and has attracted $20 million in investment capital, much of it from the leading valley firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The company and its investors (who include Al Gore) are betting that businesses will be willing to pay for software that measures their use of fossil fuels, water, and waste and that then calculates how to save money.

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Future of Fuel Cells Hinges on Asia Action

Bill DiBenedetto | Wednesday December 16th, 2009 | 2 Comments

fuelcelldiagramFuel cells of all types could help fuel an impressive growth curve for renewables in the Asia-Pacific region over the next 10 to 15 years.

Many countries there say renewables will comprise 8 percent to 20 percent of their energy portfolio by 2020 to 2025, according to a recent report out of Singapore from the research firm Frost & Sullivan.

“These ambitious renewable energy targets, along with government’s support and favorable topography, have made the region an attractive option for the implementation of renewable power generation sources and thereby, the development of fuel cells,” Frost says.

The report, Asia Pacific Fuel Cells Markets, says the stationary fuel cells segment earned revenues of $142 million in 2008 but estimates this will explode to about $1.9 billion in 2015. At the same time, the portable fuel cells segment earned revenues of only $1 million in 2008 and is projected to reach $12 million in 2015.

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AT&T Phone Book Dump 2010: Here We Go Again

| Wednesday December 16th, 2009 | 26 Comments

att-phone-book

This post series is starting to sound like a broken record. As it did about this time in 2007 and 2008, AT&T has once again dumped a huge pile of useless paper and plastic bags in my foyer. If the pattern I observed the last two years continues, two or three of them will be taken upstairs by some of the more elderly residents of my building and the rest will sit there for weeks until someone has the gumption to toss them. Or perhaps, as Lloyd Alter suggested last year, someone takes them out back and builds a shed out of them.

It doesn’t look like anything has changed since last year, when commenters pointed out that the telephone book business remains a hugely profitable and (believe it or not) growing business. Exactly why this is true continues to baffle me… I can’t seem to find any stats about how many people actually use the phone books they’re given, though my unscientific surveys in my peer group show it’s a small enough number that at the very least there should be a more targeted way to distribute them.

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Do Agribusiness Giants Fear Organics?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday December 16th, 2009 | 4 Comments

300px-Organic-vegetable-cultivation

Last month, Michael Mack, the chief executive of Syngenta, said organic farming takes up 30 percent more land than non-organic farming for the same yield. Syngenta is a Swiss agribusiness company that makes pesticides and seeds. “If the whole planet were to suddenly switch to organic farming tomorrow, it would be an ecological disaster,” he said.

In terms of yields, he continued, organic food is the “productive equivalent of driving an S.U.V.” Mack mentioned what he believes is the “mistaken belief that natural is always better.” Pesticides, he added, “have been proven safe and effective and absolutely not harmful to the environment or to humans” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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A Basic Guide To Carbon

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday December 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

180px-Rough_diamond

During the second week of COP15, it seems very appropriate, not to mention timely, to discuss all things carbon. Let’s start off with a basic fact: There is more than one type of carbon. Keep reading to find out about the rainbow of carbon ‘colors.’

First, we will look at good ole basic black carbon, also known as soot. It is produced by diesel engines, coal-fired power plants, industrial processes, and outdoor cooking stoves in Asia and Africa. Black carbon is the second biggest contributor to rising global temperatures, and is responsible for 18 percent of the earth’s warming, according to recent studies. Carbon dioxide is in the number one spot, and is responsible for 40 percent of earth’s warming.

Black carbon can be reduced using simple technologies. Over half of the world’s population burns fuel indoors to heat their homes and cook their food, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One study found that 60 million low-soot cooking stoves, if sold in India for $5 each, would cost $300 million, which is much cheaper than the cost of many technologies. Envirofit International, a Colorado-based non-profit group sold over 100,000 low-soot cooking stoves in southern India. The stoves were sold mostly out of vans.

As Steven Chu, U.S. energy secretary said, “The energy problem can be advanced a long way by pretty low-tech stuff.”

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A Hitchhiker’s Guide to COP15 Climate Talks

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

The COP15 corridor dance: A yellow badge-wearer chats up a pink badge-wearer.

The COP15 corridor dance: A yellow badge-wearer chats up a pink badge-wearer.

By Lee Barken, IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP

Wish you were here? Allow me to draw a picture.

We’re now well into week two of the COP-15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen and the diplomats, activists and media representatives are fully engulfed in a whirlwind of activity.  Beyond the maze of the Bella Center’s million square feet, 60 meeting rooms and winding pathways lies another maze comprised of diplomatic maneuvering, backroom gamesmanship and good old-fashioned guerrilla marketing.  Knowing where to go and what to do depends mostly on who you are and why you are here.

In a nutshell, COP-15 is an oversized bundle of energy that can best be described as “organized chaos.”  It’s helpful if you think of it as two different conferences wrapped up in one.  The first conference is for the people who make decisions.  The other is for people who are trying to influence the people who are making the decisions.

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Business Not As Usual: Natural Gas Is The Electric Hula Hoop Of Tomorrow, And More

John Laumer | Tuesday December 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

xto-energy-banner-photo

  1. Natural gas is the new energy Hula Hoop. See Speed Saves: Fastest Way To Low-Carbon Electricity Is To Hit The [Natural] Gas Pedal for evidence that coal is about to come under direct  financial pressure  and, indirectly,  under regulatory pressure from home-land produced natural gas. Business significance: U4/C5
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Irish Bookmaker Taking Odds on CO2 Output, Disappearing Polar Bears

| Tuesday December 15th, 2009 | 4 Comments

road-to-copenhagengloberouletteAn Irish bookie is taking bets on just how much CO2 the planet will belch out next year, and let’s just say the odds are not in humanity’s favor.

Paddy Power, an online and offline gambling company based in Dublin, said the odds are 7 to 4 that total world output of CO2 will be over 34 billion tons.

Paddy Power is basing its odds on the next Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) report for the UN. The last report in 2007, covering 2006, measured CO2 emissions at 28.4 billion metric tonnes. A rise to 34 billion would be a 21 percent jump.

The full table of odds:

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Schwarzenegger at COP15: Business, Innovators, Entrepreneurs the “Real Solution”

| Tuesday December 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments


This afternoon (Copenhagen time), California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the efforts of the scientist, entrepreneur, capitalist, innovator, and activist as the fundamental source of change on climate.

As important as they are, Schwarzenegger said, national agreements “will never do enough.”  Real progress comes at the sub-national level – the “iconoclast and individual citizen.”   Recalling that great movements “begin with people” and not with government. Schwarzenegger recalled the labor movement, women’s suffrage, civil rights, and the Vietnam anti-war movement as examples of how human progress requires individual agents of change, not in the “halls of power.”

As important as the proceedings here in Copenhagen may be, for Schwarzenegger, the real power rests in those who actively work every day for positive change.

Over to you, readers of Triple Pundit.

Following is the governor’s speech:

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Obama at COP15: The Grand Deal and the Second Track

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment

road-to-copenhagen

obama-cop15By Eban Goodstein, Director of The Bard Center for Environmental Policyjoin Dir Goodstein on The National Climate Seminar call where he will be reporting live from COP 15 tomorrow!

As COP 15 enters its final days, among the tens of thousands of international negotiators, climate activists, and green business entrepreneurs, hopes have been raised by the expected presence of both President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao this Friday.

What would count as victory in Copenhagen? Perhaps a commitment from China, the US and the rest of the world, to hold global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees C. Or Obama could take a dramatic first move on his own. He could declare his intent to push through carbon reductions regardless of Senate action, with the EPA enforcing his 17 percent target through the Clean Air Act.

Regardless, on Friday, Obama needs to bring leadership to COP 15, and that leadership needs to carry the US, and the rest of the world, forward.

But forward to where?  Not to a grand-deal, Kyoto-style.

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Interview with Sharon Greene, RISC International on Green Consumer Trends

| Tuesday December 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment

risc-logoAt November’s Opportunity Green conference, I missed my chance to connect with Sharon Greene of RISC International, but she was kind enough to answer some questions via email, which I’ve put together in a short interview format below.

Greene is the managing director of global consumer behavior consultancy RISC International, and knows a thing or two about why and how people shop, especially in Europe. She’s also acutely aware of how “green” and social conscious awareness is affecting the evolution of global consumptive habits in a generally positive direction.

Nick Aster: Is “green” still an important factor for today’s buying decisions?

Yes. But it is only one element of a multifaceted consumer trend which we call “Positive Consumption.” These components emerged several years ago, but are now strongly converging to make out a complete trend.

In a nutshell, now is a frustrating time for consumers. They live in a world of permanent risk, profound demographic changes, ubiquitous technology and increasing globalization. They want to regain control and initiative, and need help to reconcile their personal desires and needs with those of society. They still like to buy, of course. But now, they know that they should think about the consequences, become aware that in order to keep on buying, they will need to buy more wisely and more responsibly. They have become aware that in order to keep on buying they need to buy better, more wisely and more responsibly.

Nick Aster: Is green simply expected now and should companies no longer use it as a marketing tool?

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Can Solar Panels Really Be Do-it-Yourself?

| Tuesday December 15th, 2009 | 11 Comments
lowessolarx-wide-community

from USA Today

Following in the footsteps of Home Depot, Sam’s Club, and Costco, Lowes is bringing renewable energy to the masses. As of last Thursday, twenty-one California stores now offer ready-to-install 175 watt solar panels, provided by Akeena Solar of Silicon Valley.

The announcement, which drove Akeena stock up nearly 54 percent, adds to a growing trend to give consumers the ability to install their own PV (and even wind turbines), slicing off the cost of installation.

But whether solar power is really something that can be set-up by a weekend warrior wielding a hammer and a ladder is still up for debate. Sub-par installations by “experienced” solar contractors already weigh on the reputation of the industry. The possibility of thousands of flubbed home DIY systems could worsen that problem. 

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New Data on EU Carbon Trading Fraud Undermines Climate Fight

| Tuesday December 15th, 2009 | 4 Comments

Europol_jogIn what is sure to provide additional ammunition for climate denial suicide bombers*, Europol, the European Union’s top law enforcement agency, has announced that more than $7.4 billion in tax revenue has been lost from schemes involving the trade of carbon credits.

The extent of the fraud is unclear, but when France, the Netherlands, the UK and Spain changed their tax code to prevent the fraud, trading activity dropped 90 percent, according to Europol.

The fraud threatens to make a punchline out of carbon trading, just as the US is considering its own carbon market — and the EU system is showing signs of working.

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World’s Largest Wind Farm to Be Built in the US

| Monday December 14th, 2009 | 8 Comments

GE-2_5MW-Wind-Turbine-largeThe United States has steadily outsourced record-breaking feats of engineering over the years, or stood by as other countries have eagerly grasped trophies for the world’s tallest building, biggest dam, longest bridge, or what have you.

Which is why it is comforting to learn a World’s [   ]est is staying in America: Caithness Energy will begin construction next year in Oregon on the world’s biggest wind farm, with 845 MW of capacity.

The Shepherd’s Flat wind farm will utilize 338 of General Electric‘s next-generation 2.5 MW turbines (its 1.5 MW model is the world’s most popular, with 12,000 in use) spread out across 30 square miles of terrain just south of the Columbia River in north-central Oregon. The farm is predicted to generate about 2 billion kilowatt-hours per year, enough power for 235,000 homes.

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