The Gato del Sol III: 2400 Miles on Determination and Sunlight

Thomas Schueneman | Friday July 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

The University of Kentucky goes 2400 miles in the Gato del Sol III - powered only by the sunA team of engineering students from the University of Kentucky, assisted by engineers and technicians from UPS, recently completed the 2008 North American Solar Challenge, a competition to design, build, and race solar-powered cars cross-country.

The race started on July 13th, in Plano, Texas and ran 2400 miles to the finish line on July 22nd in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The team’s entry, Gato del Sol III, didn’t finish in “first” place, but with a determined team along with key support and consultation from UPS, finishing is an achievement in itself. This is the kind of race where winning is simply running the course.

In fact, the team had yet to even start a race, let alone finish (hence the “III”), as each team is required to put its entry through a grueling qualifying and technical inspection before being allowed to enter the race. 

Just making the 2400 miles “without anything breaking” is the real victory, according to Matt Hatfield, the team’s project director.

And make it they did.

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Climate Change & the Supply Chain: From Theory to Practice

| Friday July 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

amartyasen-shipra1.jpg Retailers and consumer goods manufacturers are going to have to collaborate and work more closely with their supply chain partners if their climate change mitigation strategies are to be translated into effective action and if they are to realize the competitive benefits inherent in them, according to new research results from McKinsey & Co.
While responses from the more than 2,000 global executives McKinsey surveyed identify the environment, climate change included, as a top concern, these high-level concerns aren’t flowing down and having much of an impact when it comes to purchasing and supply chain management decisions and actions: While nearly half said that climate change is a somewhat or very important issue to consider, fewer than one-quarter reported that their companies always or frequently take climate change into consideration.
“They may be missing an opportunity. Our analysis suggests that for consumer goods makers, high-tech players, and other manufacturers, between 40 and 60 percent of a company’s carbon footprint resides upstream in its supply chain – from raw materials, transport, and packaging to the energy consumed in manufacturing processes. For retailers, the figure can be 80 percent,” McKinsey’s Chris Brickman and Drew Ungerman wrote in the July 2008 issue ofThe McKinsey Quarterly.

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Beyond Chipotle – Organic Food Offerings Continue to Grow and Thrive

| Friday July 25th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Organic fast food appears to be a viable business option and is growing fast as demonstrated by the chain, Organic To Go’s expansion from the West to the East, this month announcing its 5th caf√© and a catering business to be active in Washington D.C. It is a public company with more than 34 cafes in Seattle, Los Angeles (including at the airport – frequent flyers take note!), San Diego and Washington. While basically a penny stock (OTGO.OB) their second-quarter revenue increased about 56% to $6million over same quarter last year, and in a soft economy none the less.
Those growth numbers are supported by a recent poll from the National Restaurant Association which found that 68% of adults 18-24 say they are willing to pay more for food that was grown or raised in an organic or environmentally friendly way, compared with 48% of adults 65 and older.

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UK Government Officially Okays Wave Power Technology

| Friday July 25th, 2008 | 1 Comment

6b11.jpgWave power generation is relatively new in the world. In Europe, a Scottish company operates a few large scale projects off the Portuguese coast since 2007 and the UK government has just okayed a different type of wave power project to be moored on its coastal waters. There’s little activity in the US as yet on the wave power scene. So what are the advantages and what are considered challenges?
The new British project provides a few answers to these questions. Wave power is clean energy with great potential. In the US alone, it’s estimated that wave energy resources amount to 2,100 terawatt hours annually, which is half the US’ electricity consumption.

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National Wind Brings Unique Community Wind Development Model to the U.S. Midwest

Thomas Schueneman | Thursday July 24th, 2008 | 2 Comments

National Wind helps communities participate in commercial scale wind projectsThe Great Plains of the U.S. – Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Kansas – have often been referred to as the “Middle East” of wind. Many large utilities and corporate titans are well aware of the resources just waiting to be exploited through the plains and mid-west.

Infamous oil wildcatter T. Boone Pickens recently spoke of the “absolute madness” of continuing to largely ignore this vast resource in our age of dwindling and ever more complex sources of oil. But many living in this wind corridor are farmers, ranchers, and members of small, rural communities, not a Pickens or some large developer. How can communities and independent landowners in this mid-western “wind tunnel” take advantage of both the renewable energy resource and business opportunities inherent in the region?

That’s what Erin Edholm, communications director for National Wind based in Minneapolis, discussed with me in a recent phone conversation. Specifically, the unique business model for wind development that National Wind brings to the table for community wind development.  

If you’re a landowner in a rural community, your options have usually been to secure a lease payment or production incentive payments for the one or two wind turbines that a large developer sites on your land. There is no opportunity for the landowner to share ownership in the wind project or have any influence in its management. 

Small community-owned wind projects consisting of one to five turbines are not uncommon, but for community-based commercial scale wind projects of at least 50 megawatts (30 or more turbines) the options have been few.

National Wind represents a new way of “doing wind”, one that can help bring the benefits of the new energy economy to rural communities landowners.

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Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars

Thomas Schueneman | Thursday July 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Fighting Goliath: TExas Coal WarsI was contacted recently by Richard Matson of Snag Films, a new website in beta that allows users to view full-length documentary films for free.

Richard contacted me through my blog GlobalWarmingisReal, suggesting my readers there might be interested in the documentary film Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars.

 

Fighting Goliath follows the story of farmers, ranchers and Mayors fighting against the construction of 18 new coal-burning power plants in Texas. TXU Corp. withdrew eight of the 11 permit applications shortly before the case went to court, when it was announced that shareholders would sell the utility to private equity firms. The film was produced by the Redford Center at the Sundance Preserve and Alpheus Media, and directed by Mat Hames and George Sledge.

It occurs to me that readers of TriplePundit might find this documentary interesting as well. It’s a good example of the power of grassroots activism. Check it out!

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Lofty Goals set for PARC’s new Solar Panels

| Thursday July 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

parc2.jpgSolar power is all the rage these days when it comes to building green. And one group hoping to remain on the forefront of innovation is the Palo Alto Research Center or PARC, the storied research facility in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley.
In a recent display of “next generation” technology, PARC researchers’ unveiled new gadgets and gizmos boasting the latest technology poised to make a splash as they come to market over the next year or so.
One of the major “advancements” on display was a new way to collect and use solar energy. Instead of huge rows of solar panels now being used around the world, PARC has just begun to market a series of convex mirrors that focus sunlight onto small silicon chips. The physical space these solar cells require on a building is similar to conventional solar panels, said Nitin Parekh, a PARC director, “but they are 500 times more efficient than current solar panels.” The efficiency, combined with advances in manufacturing processes, also make the panels more cost-effective than current solar panels.

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L.A. Joins the Ban on Plastic Bags – In 2010

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday July 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

plasticresized.jpg L.A. is the latest city to pass an ordinance to ban plastic bags from retail shops. The City Council decided this week that shoppers in the municipality will bring their own bag for their goodies or pay a quarter for a paper or biodegradable bag. The city has cited the need to reduce cleanup costs and to reduce debris that collects in storm drains and the L.A. River. So, when does this pathbreaking decree take effect? July 1, 2010. Yes, that’s right. Two years from now. Why the two-year delay, L.A.?

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Sub Federal Efforts To Reduce Oil Dependency Begin To Take Off

| Wednesday July 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

tie.jpgVarious states and cities in North America are adopting legislation to target specific goals reducing their carbon footprints and they are ahead of the game compared to their federal counterparts. The projects highlight a display of creativity and appear feasible if only because they all have clear, measurable targets.
Authorities at sub federal level who are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint or draw up plans to account for peak oil generally are motivated by concerns for their citizens’ welfare. What if peak oil is here to stay? What kind of measures would be necessary to redress the economic imbalances that it causes? Should contingency plans be drawn up? Authorities around the US and Canada thus far have taken various types of action, ranging from conducting internal vulnerability studies, internal policy assessments, creating community vulnerability task forces, and implementing these task forces’ resolutions and ordinances.

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When The US Government Gets Round To Regulating CO2 Emissions All Hell Will Break Loose In The Scramble For Natural Gas Resources

| Wednesday July 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

5692.jpgAmid all the talk about peak oil the debate about natural gas is getting snowed under. But not for ever, if you take a new research report into the upcoming scramble for natural resources seriously. The report, issued by global consultant Booz & Company, predicts that tightened CO2 regulations in the next few years will lead to a run on natural gas by US companies.
US industry will likely direct their demand to the natural gas suppliers that currently sell to Europe. And the competitive picture that’s set to emerge won’t look pretty. Is this a scare story? Only for those who support the policy by the incumbent US government not to start out with drawing up regulations for mandatory CO2 limitations.

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Truth & Consequences: Oregonian Floats “Gas Price Relief Act” as Bush Hangover Hits Early

| Tuesday July 22nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

stimulus-bull.jpg The housing, and now financial markets are imploding, the foreign exchange value of the dollar is dropping to unknown depths, the government deficit has expanded like a mushroom cloud, we continue to send men and women to fight two full-blown wars overseas and our standing and influence abroad is waning – that’s quite a legacy, even for a president.
Meanwhile, oil prices have more than tripled in five years and gasoline prices in the past seven, exacerbating the pain. While squashing any hint of expression of alternative paths throughout federal government apparatus, and despite all evidence to the contrary, the Bush administration maintains we can and should drill our way out of it. Is this another example of self-serving rhetoric, handing out political favors as rewards and presidential strong-arming, or well-conceived and thought out policy making worthy of national leadership?
I don’t want to appear overly negative, but it is useful, and constructive, to face up to difficult situations and assess and state things as fully and plainly as possible. After all, if you don’t really and fully recognize and clearly and explicitly state the nature of a problem, or problems, chances are you don’t appreciate them well enough to make the type of sound judgments or make the choices that result in good, workable solutions.
On the brighter side, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) last week introduced H.R.6495, the “Transportation and Housing Choices for Gas Price Relief Act.” Bi-partisan in that its co-sponsors are Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT), the bill, if passed, seeks to provide immediate relief to U.S. families while taking a step in the direction of re-orienting U.S. transportation, and hence energy, policy.

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Shell Revives Age Old Lime To Oceans Project In A Bid To Combat Global Warming

| Tuesday July 22nd, 2008 | 5 Comments

limestone%20whatley.jpgIt’s been a while since the last big to-do about adding limestone to the planet’s oceanic waters, but researchers sponsored by oil company Shell are saying that they’ve found the ultimate solution this time.
Adding limestone extracts to the surface of the planet’s oceans could dramatically lower the levels of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is because adding lime to seawater creates an increase in alkalinity, which in turn improves the water’s ability to scrub the air clean of carbon.

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ClimatePULSE: How to Avoid Catastrophe by Preparing for Greenhouse Gas Legislation

| Monday July 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgIt is important that every company consider various forms of GHG regulations, specifically the impact on the business and which forms they will be most sensitive to. This week we’ll take a look at three different and equally likely forms of GHG legislation to help your company better understand its possible exposure and risk mitigation strategies.

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The UK’s Green New Deal to Combat Economic Depression, Climate Change

| Monday July 21st, 2008 | 1 Comment

newdeal.jpg Inciting the rhetoric of FDR during the days of the Great Depression, several economists, politicians, and environmentalists in the UK have made news recently with the proposal of the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to fight the triple threats of the credit crunch, high gas prices, and climate change that are factoring to degrade life and the world as we know it.
Many have claimed that the present economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression. Drawing many parallels to FDR’s initiatives in the 1930′s, the group has set a goal of 100 months to prevent global warming and other serious economic and environmental effects. Though it is not as radical as FDR’s 100 days plan, the group similarly wants to start with how financial institutions are run. According to an article on the Guardian UK‘s website, amongst other things, the proposals seek to redistribute the “distorting power” of the banking industry. They suggest that large banking groups be forcibly split up to minimize the systemic risk that federal bailouts of institutions like Northern Rock and Bear Stearns pose.

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Climate Change Business Consulting; A Review Of Major League Players’ Strengths And Weaknesses

| Monday July 21st, 2008 | 1 Comment

climatechange.jpgResearch into the best business consultants on climate change issues reveals that the bigger the consultancy, the better value for money you get. A report by Verdantix, a British consultancy, concludes that of 16 major league consultants, IFC International scored best.

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