The weak housing market, turmoil in the financial industry, the credit crunch and economic slowdown are hitting renewable energy investment but sizable amounts of capital are still flowing into the sector, according to research published by London-based New Energy Finance this week.
Some US$ 2.4 billion of investment flowed into renewable energy in this year’s first quarter compared to US$ 3.7 billion in Q1 2007. Private equity investments fell sharply – down 64% – to US$ 878 million while venture capital investors put US$ 1 billion to work in the renewable energy sector in Q1 this year as compared to $668 million in Q1 last year, a 57% increase.
New equity issuance in the public markets came to a virtual standstill after Iberdrola Renovables’ US$ 7.2 billion IPO in December. US$ 807 million was raised via public IPOs in Q1 compared to $5.2 billion in the year ago quarter.
In terms of sectoral investment, investors put more capital to work in solar power this Q1 – $3.2 billion – than they did in the corresponding period last year, when $1.9 billion flowed into solar power projects. Solar thermal electricity generation is the new darling of the sector, according to New Energy Finance.
Wind power investment fell to US$ 6.6 billion during Q1 from $7.2 billion in the year ago quarter, as industry participants and investors in the US await Congressional action to renew the Production Tax Credit, which is due to expire at the end of the year.
Growing resistance and questioning of US biofuels targets, policies and standards led to sharply reduced investments in the sector. Investment in US ethanol plants shrank to US$ 311 million in Q1 2008 from $1.7 billion in Q1 last year. Newer markets are developing in countries such as Mozambique, Russia and Thailand, however, and biofuels investment continues to grow in Brazil, bringing total biofuels investment to $3.1 billion in Q1, down 15% year-to-year.
Mergers and acquisition activity increased sharply along with growth and development of what’s emerging as a global renewable energy market and industry. Corporate M&A transactions more than doubled, to $7.7bn, compared to $3.5 billion in the year ago period. Large acquisitions, such as Scottish & Southern Electric’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Airtricity helped make Q1 2008 the second-largest quarter after last year’s third quarter in terms of M&A activity, according to New Energy Finance.
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
At first blush many may ask “who’d want to eat a green hamburger?”, but the truth is there’s a growing market for green burgers, as well as fries, milkshakes, fajitas, pizza – all manor of fast food is, in fact, turning green.
Or at least greener – and that’s a great thing.
Fast food has become emblematic for much of what ails modern society – attaching “Mc” has come to mean too much of a bad thing.
But in Ode Magazine’s April issue, writer Mary Desmond Pinkowish shows, in her article Not the Same Old Drive-Thru, how that is changing.
There’s Chipolte, founded by Steve Ells, who opened his first restaurant near the University of Denver in 1993, Burgerville, with 39 stores throughout the U.S Northwest (famous for its milkshakes made with seasonal and locally-grown berries – from strawberries in the spring to raspberries, blackberries, and finally hazelnuts in the winter), or San Francisco-based Sellers Markets to name but a few fast food joints serving the triple bottom line.
So what actually happens to make a burger green?Click to continue reading »
3P SoundBite is a new series of short interviews to be featured here on Triple Pundit and written by Clara Kuo. Enjoy…
Who: Sean Stannard-Stockton, principal and director, Ensemble Capital: “I’ve always been fascinated by finance and by social change and philanthropy. I noticed that those two areas didn’t really mix…it’s been fun seeing that organizations are starting to recognize that (they can mix).”
What: Ensemble Capital is a wealth management firm empowering individuals and families who want to make positive contributions to society with the best social and financial ROI. “If someone says they are interested in dealing with homelessness, but doesn’t know where to dedicate their funds, we can guide the process and help set up a foundation.”
Carpenteria, California-based Clipper Windpower might not be a household name, but their depth in the wind industry is unrivaled. Back in the 1980’s, a lot of the folks at Clipper were building a little powerhouse wind company called Zond Corporation – which should get the credit for not only inventing the U.S. wind power industry from whole cloth, but planting the seeds for its growth globally, as well.
As wind power has enjoyed record growth for the past decade, a lot of the attention has been focused on European wind companies like Vestas and Gamesa, and big, vertically-integrated companies like GE. But Clipper may be poised to jump back in the ring, big time.
Click to continue reading »
Next time you bite into fish bought at the deli, think for a moment what brought it to your store: Probably a wax coated box. A box that is difficult or impossible to recycle, depending on area facilities, and requires separate sorting, adding to the labor involved in processing store waste. But there needs to be stable, waterproof, and moisture resistant packaging to carry it safely to you. As a result, millions of tons of wood pulp end up in landfills annually. And this can be prevented.
How? Eco Fiber Solutions has come up with a product that is not only greener, but performs better at a comparable price then its competitors. And what is it? A range of boxes that utilize green chemistry to eliminate the need for wax coating, staples, or adhesives, yet are superior in strength and durability, able to be reused multiple times.
They are compostable, biodegradable, recyclable, and are themselves made from recycled sources. Further, they are repulpable, which means they can be broken down into their paper pulp components, to be once again made into the same thing (not an easy feat with such products) At this time, they are being tested for use in international shipping with FedEx, and meet the guidelines for shipping via airlines. Being wax free, there’s no need to separately sort them. Despite not being doused in wax coating, they are what’s called FDA non objection status, meaning they can be used with food, including seafood and ice, without issue.
Click to continue reading »
The sustainability of computer bag companies probably hasn’t been one of the eco-movement’s largest worries, but it is great to see some companies giving it a shot. Brenthaven is a popular computer bag company, especially among Apple owners. The company’s new slogan is “zero impact,” a philosophy that centers around the protection of your computer, your health, and the environment.
Sure, Brenthaven bags will protect your computer in a fall and are good for your back, but how is Brenthaven helping the environment? The company has committed to a number of green projects including the reduction of packing, the conducting of a carbon audit of the company, the printing of marketing materials on recycled paper with soy-based inks, and the investment of 5% of profits into “green projects.” All purchases with Brenthaven are offset by carbon credits purchased from terrapass.com. Brenthaven was founded on wilderness packs used in outdoor activity and supports many environmental organization such as Leave No Trace.
But what about the actual bags?
(By Lina Constantinovici)
On Friday, April 11, 2008 at Casa Verde in the Mission, Mayor Gavin Newsom addressed his plans to put Carbon Tax on the November ballot. Voter support of this initiative would position San Francisco as the first city in the US to take a regulatory approach in addressing climate change. As the debate over cap and trade vs. carbon tax continues at national and local levels, the mayor expressed he does not consider the solution to be an either or proposition. Businesses in San Francisco have expressed concern over the proposed tax and the impact of a potential increase in expenses for those operating within the city limits. The Mayor’s proposal includes a decrease in the payroll tax burden to offset the cost of the Carbon Tax to businesses.
The Mayor also spoke to his commitment to residential wind energy while on a tour of Casa Verde, currently one of the 12 greenest homes in the world with a considerably smaller carbon footprint than the average home. The Sunset Magazine Idea house located the Mission district of San Francisco, one of the first LEED (link to LEED site) certified residential remodeled homes in the nation, gets 40% of its power from the windmill in the back yard, has a solar water heating system, PV solar panels, a living roof, and underground rainwater storage tanks used for the washing machine cold cycle and to flush toilets.
San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 25% of 1990 levels by 2012. To accomplish this goal, Mayor Gavin Newsom is now focusing on small scale wind generation and strengthening local building codes. This could be an effective strategy, since according to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 38% of CO2 emissions in the United States. Over the next 25 years, CO2 emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than any other sector, with emissions from commercial buildings projected to grow the fastest. Buildings also consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S., so the installation of local, renewable energy will ease energy demand and lower energy prices, as well as contribute to lowering greenhouse gasses.
Although solar panels may be installed on buildings in San Francisco, wind turbines are not currently allowed under local building codes. In the past, with the noise and space required by most wind turbines, there has been little demand for installing them in an urban setting. But wind power technology is changing, and it is now feasible to use small wind turbines to power your home or business. A few locals are starting to take advantage of that, such as Robin Wilson, who just finished building a green home called “La Casa Verde” in San Francisco’s Mission district. The home is powered with a combination of wind and solar thermal power, and is one of the 12 greenest homes in the world according to an upcoming series on the Discovery Channel.Click to continue reading »
Click to continue reading »
The scarcity and management of natural resources’ products previous generations casually took for granted are of increasing concern in local communities, countries and across borders.
Growing concerns about water resources and management is perhaps the most important and fundamental case in point. And, just as has happened with renewable energy, it’s setting off a blitz of private investment in companies that own and manage water resources, as well as clean tech companies in the wastewater processing and treatment end of the business.
Just the other week I received some unsolicited e-mail touting the OTC Bulletin Board, penny stock, shares of Bioshaft Water Technologies, developers and owners of “a miraculous system that’s poised to revolutionize the $1.3 trillion domestic sewage treatment market.”
Debate concerning and competition for water resources, whether between commercial and industrial organizations, governments or local communities, has been fierce and protracted – just look at the history of water and the American West. And it’s getting even fiercer with population growth, real estate development and the effects of climate change.
The ensuing conflicts are bringing associated and fundamental socio-economic and ethical issues – such as public vs. private good, common versus and private ownership of resources – into even sharper relief as the wide variety of stakeholders and vested interests come into conflict over how best to conserve, develop and manage them.
Climate Change, Efficiency, and Renewable Energy: The Opportunity of a Generation for the Building Sector
How to create more than one million new jobs, a thriving building industry, save consumers $128 billion, and reduce carbon emissions by 433.2 million metric tons in five years? Invest in energy efficient buildings – about $21.6 billion per year for five years (a price tag neatly covered by the savings). So says a new study released by Architecture2030 at the Eileen Rockefeller Growald Symposium on Collaborative Philanthropy in San Francisco last week.
As I reported recently in a post on the Cambridge Energy Alliance, nearly half of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are from buildings. Numerous sources point out that the quickest and most cost effective means of creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and making serious inroads toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions is through building energy efficiency.
In 2006, Architecture2030 issued the 2030 Challenge calling for all new building and major renovation to reduce fossil fuel energy consumption and GHG emissions by 50% by 2010, thereafter increasing reductions incrementally every five years to the target of “carbon neutral” by 2030.
According to the study, not only is this an achievable goal, but an economic opportunity of a generation. Says Edward Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030, “Although difficult, the economic and global warming crises are the motivation we need as a nation to retool our thinking. If we’re smart enough to jump on this opportunity, we will not only solve global warming, we will set the US up for unprecedented economic success.”
I hope we’re smart enough to seize the opportunity.
Ever thought about where your oil dollars go once you’ve extracted them, screaming, from your wallet? With oil prices now settling into a comfortable cruising altitude above $100 a barrel, the answer is pretty stunning.
We’re all familiar with the toll high oil prices have taken on our personal economic well-being, particularly among those with the least disposable income (disclosure: I don’t own a car, so I don’t have first-hand experience, but some of my friends drive).
But what about the toll on the broader economy, and implications for geopolitics? The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security took a good, hard look at the numbers, and recently published a report (warning: PDF) with its findings. The question is … how long can we keep holding up our end of the bargain? Jim Strock posted a disturbing excerpt on his blog:
How would a recession impact current trends in business sustainability? Would green initiatives be cut if companies suffered from slow growth in a “stagnation” economy? These are the questions that Kevin Klustner, CEO of Verdiem (an energy-efficiency software company) tries to answer in a recent column for GreenBiz.com. He predicts that an economic downturn may tempt some companies to phase out their sustainability initiatives, but doing so may actually aggravate financial losses.Click to continue reading »
Until a few years ago the threat of unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions was still hotly debated in both the scientific and business communities. Now concepts such as “carbon footprint” are becoming household terms. In the new and constantly evolving field of carbon markets it is understandable that there is still confusion around the terms that define the industry. Even among some corporate greenhouse gas managers terms are being used inconsistently and even improperly. In conversation such errors can be excused, but when money is exchanged and contracts are signed the importance of proper and precise language takes on a new weight. Since we need to mitigate risk and potential conflict in our work to develop climate change solutions with our clients, we feel that it is important to educate the public, on the extensive vocabulary of the carbon markets. Therefore this week ClimatePULSE with ClimateCHECK we will be providing definitions for some of the most commonly used, and misused, terms in the carbon market.
Carbon Footprint: The term “footprint” is frequently used incorrectly to describe a GHG Inventory. This term actually refers to the amount of productive land (forest) required to sequester (remove) the equivalent amount of GHGs that a company emits. The term “footprint” was developed by Mathis Wackernagel of the Global Footprint Network as an aggregated measure of human impact on the earth as well as our level of resource consumption but it has been inaccurately used in various media and has become the layperson’s term for GHG inventory.
If you are one of those people out there who thinks a green car means you have to own a hybrid or a natural gas vehicle, think again. There are ways to essentially “green” your car without meeting the above criteria. Basically, it matters not what type of car you have: the way you operate the vehicle can save money, fuel and the environment.
Any car that is not in proper condition will burn more fuel and release more pollution into the atmosphere. Below you will find a list of simple ways to green your automobile.
1- Tire Pressure: Surprisingly, as much as 15 percent of the energy required to push your vehicle down the road is utilized in overcoming rolling resistance. This is according to the established laws of physics specifically related to friction. The most effective way to maximize fuel economy is to assure that your tires are inflated to the recommended pressures that can be found on most vehicles’ tire placard commonly placed on door jams. It is wise to check your tire pressure whenever you fill your gas tank. A slight drop in pressure by just a few pounds per square inch (psi) will result in a loss in fuel mileage. Also, when replacing your tires consider one of the new lower-rolling resistance models offered by many tire manufacturers now.
2- Maintenance: It is wise to follow the automakers maintenance schedule outlined in the vehicle owner’s manual. These recommendations are generally there for a sound reason, to keep the car in top notch condition. From tune-ups to regular oil and fluid changes and scheduled maintenance programs at x number of miles per your car dealers or manufacturers recommendation are all going to provide you with a greener result.
3- Go Easy: One often overlooked green method for more efficient driving is proper use of your speedometer and tachometer. The tachometer measures just how fast your engine is turning in revolutions per minute, hence rpm. By keeping a watchful eye on your tach and staying below 3,000 rpm as you speed up, you’ll save gas and extend the life of your car. Reduced braking also wastes gas so be aware enough to see what’s coming and coast along whenever possible and brake slowly, progressively.
Click to continue reading »
In June of 2006 Paylocity moved it’s business into a new office and the employees were surprised to find themselves surrounded by green. The carpets and work stations are composed of recycled materials including energy efficient lighting and water heating at point of source.
Paylocity is a payroll and HR solutions provider and has been running strong for the past ten years. The green movement was spearheaded by the founder and CEO of the company Steve Sarowitz. Aside from making the move toward green surroundings Steve had a notion to further this trend toward going green. Prior to the move he e-mailed his 180 employees about forming a “green team” to explore how the company could further explore its mission to make green something more than just a nip and tuck here and there.