Friday, February 26th, 2010
The European Commission confirmed on Thursday that it believes legally binding sustainability criteria for biomass used to generate heat and power are not necessary in Europe, thus ending a long process by which the European Union body has debated the utility of a supranational scheme.
The Commission, however, adopted a report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid biomass and biogas in electricity, heating, and cooling. The report makes recommendations on sustainability criteria to member states and encourages them to introduce schemes at the national level.
This strategy minimizes the risk of the development of varied and possibly incompatible criteria at the national level, leading to barriers to trade and limiting the growth of the bio-energy sector in the European Union. (more…)
Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Most would agree that smart grid is the most happening sector in the clean tech industry right now. It is trying to revamp our outdated and inefficient electrical grids through digital technology. The goal is a green grid which will bring us power savings and lower carbon dioxide emissions. The savings come at a steep up-front cost though –- an estimated $520 billion, according to a McKinsey report.
The transportation sector wasn’t included in the study, and neither was a value set for carbon emissions. The savings could be considerably greater if a value is pegged to carbon emissions, an additional 8 percent at $30 a ton.
Of late we have seen many companies trying to take on the energy management challenge from the user’s end. Home energy management products that control appliances at consumers’ homes to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency is an integral part of smart-grid strategy.
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
This article has been updated.
In her forthcoming book, Prefabulous + Sustainable, author Sheri Koones sets out to show how beautiful and green a prefabricated home can be.
The book is divided into three categories –- “green, greener, greenest” –- and the homes featured vary in style, design, type of construction and size. Koones walks the reader through each of the homes, explaining the materials, strategies and systems used to create a sustainable living environment. CleanTechies had a few questions about the methodology and the pre-fab industry.
CleanTechies: Tell me how you chose the houses you profiled.
Koones: I was looking for houses that were as sustainable as possible, but also attractive, in various locations of the country using different methods of pre-fab construction, and in city, residential and suburban settings.
CleanTechies: How did you find them and ascertain which ones you wanted to look at? (more…)
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
CleanTechies is fortunate to have some of the sharpest minds in the energy and clean tech industries as regular readers, but even if you don’t have a Ph.D., you should be able to answer this quick math quiz: “Which price tag is cheaper, $8 billion or free?”
Don’t hurt yourselves!
On Tuesday, President Obama officially announced $8 billion in government loan guarantees for construction of two new nuclear plants in Georgia, the country’s first expansion of nukes in more than 30 years.
A day later, the Vermont state legislature officially began deliberations on the question of relicensure of Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. While there are some transaction costs associated with keeping Vermont Yankee open past 2012, the cost is nowhere near $4 billion.
Given the commitment the president made to clean, domestic nuclear power just 24 hours earlier, you would expect the White House to jump right in on the question of relicensure in Vermont, right? Not so fast. (more…)
Monday, February 8th, 2010
At a factory in Wuxi, China, workers lift solar panels onto conveyor belts, while others in white lab coats move between machines as they check on a process for etching and engraving silicon wafers to form solar cells.
This scene in itself isn’t remarkable. But there is a new sort of excitement about the work. China’s production of solar panels has grown quickly in the past two years; it is it now the world’s leading exporter. When Matt Lewis, a representative of the California-based nonprofit ClimateWorks, visited the factory in October, he said it reminded him of his native Silicon Valley: The workers, even ordinary line workers, had a sense that they were part of building the future, the hot new industry.
Monday, February 8th, 2010
The LEED green building rating system has seen unimpeded growth to this point. Will the impact of this growth, and the response of the U.S. Green Building Council, help or hurt the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program?
There have been 44,671 LEED projects registered and 6,908 certifications awarded – commercial and residential – according to a November publication by the United States Green Building Council. Interestingly, there are 133,489 LEED Accredited Professionals. Simply calculated, there are approximately three LEED APs for each currently registered project.
Friday, February 5th, 2010
Twenty-five solar industry and regulatory leaders shared data and forecast a positive future, especially for small-scale projects, at the third Solar Electric Utility Conference hosted by PHOTON International Thursday in San Francisco.
Smaller Is Better
Keynote speaker Pat Wood III, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and now with Wood3 Resources, summarized the dominant theme of the day. “As I was preparing my presentation, I was struck by the growth of ‘bite-sized’ solar projects and how that is an emerging trend and is based on solid economic data,” he said.
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Few places are as well suited for large-scale solar projects as California’s Mojave Desert. But as mainstream environmental organizations push plans to turn the desert into a center for renewable energy, some green groups — concerned about spoiling this iconic Western landscape — are standing up to oppose them.
Twenty years ago when an epic clash over the logging of ancient redwood forests roiled California, the battle lines were clear-cut.
On one side stood a Texas corporate raider who acquired the Pacific Lumber Co. in a junk bond-fueled takeover and began felling vast swaths of primeval redwoods to pay off the debt. On the other side was Earth First! and other grass-roots greens who staged a campaign of civil disobedience to disrupt the logging. And while mainstream environmental groups may have looked askance at such tactics, they supported the cause in the courts, suing to stop the clear-cutting of ancient trees.
Monday, February 1st, 2010
Tom Friedman spent most of 2009 beating the China-is-winning-the-green-race-drum, and he has started 2010 with the same focus.
In Sunday’s New York Times, the news side of the house joined their editorial page colleague, writing in a front page story that Chinese “efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.”
To his credit, Friedman’s push has been all about policy. He wants the United States to go all-in in a space-race-like push to match Chinese innovation in energy technology (“E.T.,” as he has glossed it). But, what has eluded his attention – and is absent again in Sunday’s news piece – is the recognition that in order to match Chinese innovation, the policy changes that would be required in the U.S. electricity markets would necessarily have to go far beyond decoupling, one of Friedman’s personal causes.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
TriplePundit recently held a poll inviting readers to vote for the Top 10 Most “Sustainable” CEOs. The blog’s founder and publisher Nick Aster explains the results:
Before we get too excited about the ranking, I want to emphasize that there was nothing scientific about this process and its real purpose was as much to provoke conversation as it was to give recognition to some of our most enlightened business leaders.
It was also about challenging readers and leaders alike to ask themselves what the definition of “sustainable leadership” really is. In some cases these leaders have helped create products and services with positive environmental or social impact, in others they have helped build a corporate culture that rewards and nourishes employees and stakeholders in new ways. Some are well known, others more humble. As you think about the “winners” keep in mind the very loose and changing definition of the word “sustainable” and leave some comments as to what it means to you.
Without further ado, the folks with the most votes were as follows: (more…)