Offshore Wind: How Europe Plans to Meet Clean Energy Goals

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday May 7th, 2008 | 4 Comments

The E.U. is serious about getting clean energy on the grid. The European Parliament has set a 25% target for renewable energy by 2020. About half of that target is projected to come from wind energy. A new report, “Pure Power – Wind Energy Scenarios up to 2030,” put out by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), shows that this is a feasible scenario, given current trends in the field. As of 2007, five E.U. countries (Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Germany) have more than 5% of their electricity demand supplied by wind energy. If the 2020 goal is met, wind energy could equal 38% of the EU-15′s Kyoto Protocol obligation, avoid 133 mega-tons of C02, and save billions in fuel costs. Future wind production is dependent, however, on continued government/private capital investments in the offshore wind energy market.

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Ardour Capital’s Nasdeo Talks Alt Energy Investments

| Wednesday May 7th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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Shares of alternative energy companies continue to be hard hit given worsening financial and economic conditions but there is strength and support underlying investments in the sector. So says Walter Nasdeo, managing director at Ardour Capital Investments, a pioneer when it comes to alternative energy equity research and investment banking.
Fair, balanced and independent equity research, coupled with timely, accurate and comprehensive financial disclosure, is prerequisite to establishing healthy, sound equity markets and a level playing field in which investors large and small can participate. In addition to its proprietary research, Ardour is playing a vital role in this regard, having established a line of alternative energy indexes in partnership with S-Network Energy Technologies.
Triple Pundit interviewed Ardour Capital managing director Walter Nasdeo to gain some insight into the company’s business, as well as the recent performance and future prospects for alternative energy companies.

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Keen and Consciousness

| Wednesday May 7th, 2008 | 2 Comments

I’m as jaded as the next guy when it comes to companies touting their green chops but, on closer inspection, having little to back it up. But amidst the greenwashing/hyping of recent years, I’ve also been downright moved.
If you think about, outdoor retailers are, or should be, leaders in the green/sustainable business community. Environmental quality is, after all, a key piece of their value proposition, as in, “Those hiking boots you just bought are not recommended for Superfund sites.” Or melting glaciers, for that matter.
Sure, Patagonia comes to mind as a pioneer. But I’m also thinking of Keen, the outdoor shoe company whose “Hybrid Life/STAND” campaign Keen%20stand.gif is both a powerful statement about the connection between creativity, athleticism and activism and an awards program for people who are living it.
Then there’s Eastern Mountain Sports. I know next to nothing about EMS’s CSR record but I have to admit I was impressed when I recently bought a pair of quarter-length running socks. On the back of the package were two words, “Future Consciousness.” Wow! One pair of socks and then, like that, transcendence. Like Keen’s Hybrid Life concept, Future Consciousness, according to EMS, is all about owing up to our shared fate and the deep connections between consumer and consumed, people and planet, socks and species.

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Sungevity Hits The Home Solar Sweet Spot

| Wednesday May 7th, 2008 | 7 Comments

9c2e1.jpgWith the rising cost of power, and the greater awareness of the human impact on the environment, home solar power has long since moved beyond deep green people and would be militia and out into the broader society. But who to go with? And how to to do it, at what cost? For many, this is likely a very new concept, fraught with lots of unknowns and insecurities. Berkeley based Sungevity has one of the most well thought out websites I’ve long seen for selling solar to the masses. Other solar providers, take note.
Whereas other companies either seem to take a kitchen sink approach, presuming you’re already interested, tossing a heap of links and text your way, or looking impressive but not so accessible to the newbie and strongly making the case on a personal level, Sungevity gives a human face to the process. Literally. A friendly woman greets you on the site – no, not those creepy animated talking heads mouthing pre recorded human voices – a real person talks to you with empathy, enthusiasm, and interest, literally pointing out the various sections of the site, and why they’re relevant.
Wisely, they don’t lead with the environmental benefits of solar, but rather, education on how it works, how much you’d need, and what to do if you move. It continues with how solar is a shield against rising energy costs, and the many rebates available to make it affordable. Appeal to people’s basic needs first, then go for the higher purpose. Well done. They ease past the cost question by suggesting financing via your mortgage or their financial institutions. As they put it,

This makes solar electricity like utility electricity, except our costs don’t go up with increasing energy costs.

Bingo.

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Pangea Day: A Global Film Event on May 10

Shannon Arvizu | Tuesday May 6th, 2008 | 0 Comments

logoPangea.gif“Movies alone can’t change the world. But the people who watch them can.”
This Saturday, May 10, we have the opportunity to witness the vision created by social entrepreneur, Jehane Noujaim, to “harness the power of film to enhance empathy, compassion, and peace.” The program consists of four hours of winning short films, live music, and speakers from six parts of the globe simultaneously.
“It will be a chance for people around the globe to see the world through someone else’s eyes. We’re calling it the world’s first global campfire: A day when we share stories made by the world for the world,” says the Pangeaday.org website.
Viewers can watch the event via the Internet, Current TV satellite channel, or by attending/hosting a local screening. See Pangeaday.org for more details.

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ClimatePULSE – ISO 14064 for Clean Technologies and Carbon Markets

| Tuesday May 6th, 2008 | 5 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgThere is a growing recognition that investments in and adoption of clean technologies benefits both the environment. Clean technology industries also increase jobs, sales and exports of new products. This is the “double dividend” – improving the economy and the environment – innovating “win-win” solutions.
One of the challenges is the use of an “approved or standardized” approach to quantifying the carbon credits created by new technologies. There are many approaches being used, ranging from in-house engineering calculations to full life cycle analyses (LCA) and computer models. There are a few cases where new technologies can use existing GHG standards; unfortunately the numbers of these cases are too few in relation to the exponential growth of new technologies. The most commonly used standards are developed within a rigid and bureaucratic process – akin to “legal precedent in a court of law”. Standards should not only help to uphold the quality and credibility of technologies and carbon credits, standards should be designed to accommodate innovation and thereby increase the development and widespread adoption of new emission reduction technologies.

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Business Call to Action Day – TODAY

| Tuesday May 6th, 2008 | 2 Comments

business-day-of-action.jpgToday, a dozen companies will reveal plans to implement business expertise, including the use of their technology and innovations to serve poverty alleviation within the Majority World.
At the event in London, over 80 multi-national business executives will display innovations to tackle poverty. Such initiatives are hoped to create jobs and through targeted economic growth improve the lives of poor people in Africa and Asia. The move comes in light of the Millennium Development Goals and UN promotion of collective action in achieving these objectives. The United Nations Development Programme with the UK Government promoted the event and reported that

one of the greatest untapped resources is the private sector….(and that)…such creative approaches and partnerships are essential in catalysing vibrant new markets that can contribute to advancing inclusive growth and development (Mr. Dervi≈ü).

Collaboration in development is a strongly useful method and this initiative shows signs of the types of partnerships needed to lift people out of poverty. However, such business efforts should be closely monitored and evaluated to ensure appropriate standards are met across health, social and environmental considerations. Furthermore, a worrying development may be the increased homogenization of culture through the expansion of big business into smaller communities.

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Latin America: profitable business and sustainable development through inclusiveness

| Tuesday May 6th, 2008 | 2 Comments

collaboration.jpgLately our news feeds about the business sector, government and development activities in Latin America have painted a stark picture; mostly surrounding resource competition between filling bellies and producing biofuels. The current crises elucidates the range of dilemmas faced when business and development needs are out of harmony, when they are placed in competition to one another. What results is negative local community development, compromised business outcomes and strained relationships between governments, industry and civil society.
A recent clip released on Youtube draws our attention quickly back to a more positive dynamic between civil society, business and government. It shows the height of research and implementation to date of a joint initiative for ‘Inclusive Business’ between the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV). Over the past year, the alliance has been actively pursuing collaboration between business executives and civil society across Latin America to generate ideas for sustainable business opportunities. The culmination to date is highlighted within the video below.

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AskPablo: LED lights are amazing but expensive. By switching to them, will I save energy and money over the long run?

| Monday May 5th, 2008 | 1 Comment

I would like to use LED lighting to replace all my existing lighting. Over the long run, will I be reducing energy consumption and pollution, and even saving money?
I have written a lot about the environmental benefits of compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs in the past, but never about LED light bulbs. LED stands for “light emitting diode” and is a semiconductor diode that emits a narrow frequency (color range) of light. To put it simply, think of it as a solar panel in reverse: Electricity goes in and light comes out. To answer your question, I requested LED light bulb samples from LED Waves, and received a high-power 7-watt LED bulb that emits 500 lumens, has an anticipated life span of 50,000 hours (that’s almost six years, 24 hours per day), and retails for $59.95. Since LEDs are directional — they emit light in a focused beam rather than in all directions, like a conventional light bulb — it is difficult to compare them exactly to CFLs or conventional incandescent light bulbs. But I will try to provide a comparison of their light output, energy consumption and cost-effectiveness.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/05/05/ask_pablo_leds/index.html

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KKRED: A Triple Double?

| Monday May 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

20070622_kkr_18.jpgThe buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts last week announced a new partnership with Environmental Defense to help measure the environmental performance of the dozens of businesses KKR owns, from Toys R Us to the energy giant TXU. The partnership grows out of the collaboration between the two groups last year in brokering a deal for TXU. ED agreed to support the acquisition by KKR of TXU in exchange for KKR and its partner, Texas Pacific Group, agreeing to reduce TXU’s carbon emissions and scotch its plans to build new coal-burning power plants.
The evolution of the KKR-ED partnership mirrors a larger evolution underway for the past two decades in American environmentalism: the merger of market and environmental strategies. ED’s President, Fred Krupp, has long been out front in pushing for what he and others have called “The Third Wave” of environmentalism, the latest iteration of the movement following its conservation and pollution control phases. Starting in the late 1980s, Fred and ED have taken a contrarian position vis. other national environmental NGOs in embracing market-based approaches to pollution reduction/elimination, especially emissions credit trading (cap-and-trade) schemes of the kind pioneered in the 1990 federal Clean Air Act.

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Why’s Chicago Punishing Drivers?

Sarah Lozanova | Monday May 5th, 2008 | 7 Comments

rush%20hour.jpgChicago is the second most congested region in the country and the mayor wants to change this. Will Daley’s plan to discourage driving and lure them into buses work? If so, it can improve the quality of life in the city.
With the goal of easing congestion, commuting times, and air pollution in the central business district of Chicago, this multi-faceted plan could change the way Chicagoans get around. A $153 million federal grant can help make this plan a reality.
Buses Get Preferential Treatment
The first part of the plan entails creating a 100 mile bus corridor with dedicated bus lanes during peak hours. Kiosks selling bus tickets allow passengers to quickly board buses and many routes will run express, resulting in fewer stops. Traffic lights will be programmed to turn green for buses, helping to keep them in motion. Hybrid buses will be used, reducing pollution in these heavily populated areas.

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General Motors’ Quest to Become “Green Motors”

| Monday May 5th, 2008 | 20 Comments

wagoner.jpgOn Thursday, Rick Wagoner, Chairman and CEO of General Motors came to San Francisco to speak about the future of the company and “green” auto technology. It’s fascinating to think that not long ago, General Motors was a company beloved by most Americans, a symbol of the innovation, spirit, and the pleasant lifestyle typical of American culture. Today, it is the target of much criticism, when Wagoner must watch his words carefully and bring along a security outfit, for fear of protest. One did break out, but certainly nothing violent or warranting more security than was provided for Nobel Prize winning social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, who had none present at a Commonwealth Club event at the same venue, which he actually more than filled up.
I was actually looking forward to writing a positive review about GM and its efforts to become a leader in environmentally conscious auto manufacturing. Cynicism gets pretty boring. Yet, in Wagoner’s carefully scripted speech, there was little to genuinely get excited about. In fact, GM’s view of its strategy in green is well-captured in its advertising campaign that states “GM has the most models with EPA-estimated 30 mpg or higher highway fuel economy.” We’re fine, you’re just not buying our cars.

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Green PC: Corsair Greens its Power Supply Line

| Monday May 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

corsair%2080%20plus.jpgCorsair is one of the leading providers of gaming-grade, high performance memory and power supplies. They offer products like a 1000W power supply fit to power three video cards, and the DOMINATOR line of memory built for processor overclocking, a power-hungry process of maximizing computer performance.
As you may have guessed, computer gaming has never been about conserving energy. But Corsair realizes energy efficiency means more reliable computers and money saved on electricity, both of which are important to gamers. With that in mind, they made the entirety of their power supply line 80 PLUS certified. 80 PLUS certification reduces wasted energy by requiring the unit to use 80 percent of energy at various levels of power loads. That is to say if the computer is using 1000 watts, no less than 800 of those must be used for processing. 80 PLUS products reduce heat output, increase reliability, and reduce the need for loud fans, all of which Corsair is touting to its customers. The certification is not just for one or two units; Corsair brought it to their entire line because of the benefits. It proves you don’t have to sacrifice performance for efficiency.
This is not to say the company has gone green across the board. When your business is high end computer gaming, that’s a difficult thing to achieve. Using a 1000W power supply and three video cards is excessive, no matter if it plays the latest games with no lagging. Additionally, Corsair is lacking a take back program for recycling parts. There is also little to no information given on the materials in the units, meaning there is no way to know if the units contain lead or other environmentally sensitive materials. 80 PLUS is an excellent standard for the company, but it shouldn’t be the last of their green initiatives.

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Oil Companies and Greenwashing

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday May 5th, 2008 | 2 Comments

company-oil.gifThe world’s major oil companies make big claims about the environment these days. From having sound environmental policies in place to investing in alternative fuel, the companies that provide the ‚ÄòTexas tea’ want us to believe they no longer wreak havoc on the environment.
The advertisement for the British oil company BP says its initials now stand for Beyond Petroleum instead of British Petroleum. “In response to increasing demand for energy with a lower-carbon footprint, we have made a major commitment to develop low-carbon sources of energy,”
BP’s website
states.

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States Commit to Combating Climate Change at Yale Conference of Governors

| Monday May 5th, 2008 | 3 Comments

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Commemorating the centennial of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt’s 1908 Conference of Governors, present day governors and representatives from 18 states, Washington and other national governments including Canada, the Czech Republic and Mexico set out to review state programs aimed at combating climate change, develop a strategy for future action and advocate greater federal-state and public-private collaboration and cooperation as Yale hosted the Yale Conference of Governors April 17-18.
Capping Friday’s keystone address, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger humorously yet pointedly zoomed in on the tremendous scale and complexities involved in making the transition to a low carbon, more environmentally sustainable society. Along the way he highlighted some of the antagonistic, at times seemingly absurd, stances taken by opposing interest groups and stressed the need for greater cooperation.
“So, as one of my environmental friends and advisors said that ‚Äòthere is no silver bullets [sic.], only silver buckshot.’ We need to find creative ways to overcome those obstacles. There’s no two ways about it. Neither business nor environmentalists nor Republicans nor Democrats can be set in their ways. I suggest then relax, exhale … [EXHALES]…Just exhale and relax and let things move forward,” he stated.

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