Thursday, May 6th, 2010
Although tax season just ended, addressing climate risk and sustainability should remain at the forefront of every CxO’s mind. Why? It’s about potentially missing significant opportunities to increase efficiencies and reduce costs through improved internal processes and controls, reduce risks across all areas of operations, drive innovation, and build resiliency into your firm.
The Securities and Exchange Commission guidance published in February 2010 about disclosure of climate risk is intended to highlight the concern management has about the risk they see. Any quantification of that risk is expected to be stated in the financial statements as compliance costs or unforeseen capital expenditure required for compliance of new regulations or due to physical impacts, such as flooding. (more…)
Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
While questions have arisen about the potential crushing effects of the current economic situation on the trend toward green commercial building and retrofitting, a team of economic researchers has concluded that the value of green building remains strong.
Among them is Nils Kok, a professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. Speaking at an April workshop hosted by the California Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego, Calif., Kok presented an analysis of the financial performance of green office buildings in the United States. The study is based on actual market transactions and not simply engineering estimates.
Kok said that office buildings with energy efficiency certification can command higher rents, expect better occupancy rates and garner a greater sale value. The initial study was published in 2008, but follow-up analysis in October 2009 showed these values held even during the global economic crisis. (more…)
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a new study on the bill savings received by residential customers with solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems, under the net metering rates currently offered by California’s two largest electric utilities. The report focuses on California, as it is the largest PV market in the United States.
The study shows that the bill savings per kilowatt-hour (kWh) generated by a PV system varies by a factor of 4 to 5 for residential customers of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) within the study sample, and by a factor 2 to 3 for Southern California Edison (SCE) residential customers in the sample.
Net metering is a billing arrangement that allows customers with PV systems installed on-site to offset their monthly consumption with PV generation, whether or not the demand for power coincides when their systems are generating power. In conjunction with other policy support mechanisms, net metering has been instrumental in jump-starting the market for distributed PV in California and elsewhere in the U.S. However, alternative compensation methods are under consideration in some jurisdictions. (more…)
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
LEED, the building standard that has lightened the footprint of tens of thousands of structures, announced a new standard yesterday that amplifies the idea to neighborhood scale.
The standard has been in the works for years and more than 200 test sites are already built or underway, including the Olympic village that opened in Vancouver this winter. Now any neighborhood or large development is eligible to apply. (more…)
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
The energy world operates under the premise that more is better. If we build more power plants, we’ll have ample supply, and electricity prices will drop. Even better, if those plants are clean and green, we’ll displace older, dirtier plants and reduce emissions. That will help our economy by producing jobs.
But is that the right way to think about power?
Truth be told, new energy sources are likely to play a smaller role in economic recovery than advances in energy efficiency, according to speakers at a recent symposium held by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, as part of its 30th anniversary celebration.
“Cost-effective investment that can reduce the amount of energy necessary to support a dollar of economic activity is the single most important driver of economic productivity within the United States and around the world,” said John A. “Skip” Laitner, director of economic and social analysis, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. (more…)
Thursday, April 29th, 2010
California’s high-tech giants have long used renewable energy to help power their Silicon Valley headquarters. Now, companies such as Google, Adobe Systems, and eBay are preparing for the next step — investing in off-site solar and wind installations and innovative technologies that will supply their offices and data centers with green electricity.
From the street, Adobe Systems’ San Jose headquarters looks like any other collection of skyscrapers that dot the downtown of the self-proclaimed capital of Silicon Valley.
But ascend to a skyway that connects two of the software company’s towers and you’ll find a wind farm. Twenty vertical turbines that resemble a modern art installation slowly rotate in the breeze that blows through a six-floor plaza. Down in the parking garage, a dozen electric car-charging stations have been set up. Adobe, which makes the ubiquitous Flash player software, will install 18 more chargers this year to accommodate workers expected to be first in line when the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and other battery-powered vehicles roll into Silicon Valley showrooms later this year. (more…)
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
CleanTechies caught up with Maurice Gunderson, senior partner of energy and materials at CMEA Capital, for some energy storage perspectives.
CleanTechies: You were an investor in A123 Systems. When will bulk storage arrive?
Maurice Gunderson: Bulk storage needs a little bit of definition. The kind of thing that A123 is doing is here now, and that’s a very high power storage for grid stabilization. And that makes sense in a lot of parts of the country. I make a distinction between that and very large bulk energy storage, which is intended to store power for very long periods of time, such as from wind turbines, and then release it over relatively long periods of time.
So the answer is there’s no real good battery solutions yet, but there’s a lot of smart people and a lot of money working on the problem and we’re going to see things emerging here within the next few years. The really practical ways to do very large storage right now come down to pumped storage. If nature gives you a canyon and environmental considerations don’t stop you from damming it up, you can make a very nice pumped storage facility. But that only exists when it occurs naturally. So there’s not a lot of places where you can count on building out new capacity of that type. (more…)
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Sunny Milpitas, California is the newly announced home of SunPower’s first domestic manufacturing operations. Yep, you heard right. More green manufacturing jobs right here in the U.S.A. (In November, Chinese solar powerhouse Suntech announced that its first U.S. manufacturing facility would be located near Phoenix, Arizona).
SunPower’s 75-megawatt production line is expected to employ 100 by the end of the year, and spread the wealth around even more by sourcing equipment and materials from a host of other states throughout the United States. At the Vote Solar Initiative, we like to remind folks that manufacturing is only a fraction of solar’s overall job creation opportunity. In fact, about 75 percent of solar employment is related to system installation, jobs that are inherently local in the first place. Nevertheless, manufacturing is near and dear to most Americans, and this new production facility is tangible proof that the green economy has a real role to play in bringing those jobs back home — with the right policies, that is.
As was the case with Suntech’s Arizona selection, SunPower’s decision to locate manufacturing in California is a testament to the state’s market-building solar policies. And so it is appropriate that stalwart renewable energy supporter, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, joined in making the announcement. During the event, Schwarzenegger highlighted a few initiatives that have been so instrumental to the state’s new energy economy that we think they bear repeating: (more…)
Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Is efficiency worth the bother if you save only $5 to $10 per month on your energy bill? Many homeowners think not. One dad told us his family would rather save money by just skipping a pizza order once a month. That sentiment is not unusual.
But it is hard to negate the economic value of efficiency if you spend $20 billion per year on energy, as does the U.S. military, our government’s largest energy user, responsible for nearly 80 percent of the government’s total energy consumption.
“Re-energizing America’s Defense,” a recent report by The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate, looks at how profoundly our energy mix affects the military.
The military has great motivation to make our energy supply more efficient and less oil-dependent. For every $10 per barrel increase in oil prices, the Defense Department’s energy bill increases more than $1.3 billion. That is a lot of pizza. (more…)
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
On President Obama’s second Earth Day in office, how far have green jobs come toward fixing unemployment and environmental ills? The administration aims for 5 million green jobs to grow in the next 10 years. Should Americans still believe the “hype?” Here’s the latest in green jobs news from around the Web:
The White House early in 2009 announced $500 million for efforts to train green workers, and this January it described job-training grants worth $100 million of that package. But that’s not nearly enough cash for an effort that should be as big as the Space Race, says pundit Jesse Jenkins. And contrary to conventional wisdom, green jobs are already being exported beyond U.S. borders.
For now, “fewer than 200 factories in the United States are devoted to green production, employing no more than 15,000 workers.” Companies can apply for new, federal tax credits to boost U.S. manufacturing, but an economist finds that “fewer than 500 applications have been filed so far for the tax breaks, and if all were approved they would add just 75,000 green manufacturing jobs.”
(New York Times)
Yet, 10 percent of employers have added new, green jobs in the past year, according to a CareerBuilder poll of 2,700 hiring managers. Among the green occupations described as earning more than $60,000 on the job Web site are hydrologist, solar energy system designer, waste management engineer and urban planner. (However, CareerBuilder’s GoingGreenJobs site was kaput on Wednesday.)
(press release) (more…)