Guardian: “Some of America’s top companies are spending heavily to block action on climate change or discredit climate science, despite public commitments to sustainable and green values, a new report has found. An analysis of 28 Standard & Poor 500 publicly traded companies by researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists exposed a sharp disconnect in some cases between PR message and less visible activities, with companies quietly lobbying against climate policy or funding groups which work to discredit climate science …even General Electric Company, which ranks climate change as a pillar of its corporate policy on its website, had supported trade groups and thinktanks that misrepresent climate science, the researchers found.”
Archive for May, 2012
IEA: “Exploiting the world’s vast resources of unconventional natural gas holds the key to a golden age of gas, but for that to happen governments, industry and other stakeholders must work together to address legitimate public concerns about the associated environmental and social impacts.” (more…)
RE World: “With the sun beaming overhead and the nation hard at work, Germany turned to solar like never before last Friday and Saturday as the nation’s PV installations fed 22 gigawatts of electricity into the grid at one point, providing nearly half of the country’s energy needs. ….During one 24-hour period, Germany’s PV accounted for nearly a third of the nation’s energy needs on midday Friday when the nation’s factories and offices were humming along, and then it approached 50 percent midday Saturday as residents enjoyed a sun-filled weekend. ….According to the International Economic Platform for Renewable Energies in Muenster, the power produced at its weekend peak was greater than the capacity of 20 nuclear power plants. The timing of the peak is particularly important since it comes during times when energy use is at its highest.” It goes without saying that this is a world record.
Guardian: The latest round of international climate change talks finished on Friday in discord and disappointment, with some participants concerned that important progress made last year was being unpicked. At the talks, countries were supposed to set out a workplan on negotiations that should result in a new global climate treaty, to be drafted by the end of 2015 and to come into force in 2020. But participants told the Guardian they were downbeat, disappointed and frustrated that the decision to work on a new treaty – reached after marathon late-running talks last December in Durban – was being questioned. China and India, both rapidly growing economies with an increasing share of global emissions, have tried to delay talks on such a treaty. ….Chrisiana Figueres, the top climate change official at the United Nations, who presided over the two weeks of talks, said: “Work at this session has been productive. Countries can now press on to ensure elements are in place to adopt the Doha amendment to the Kyoto protocol. I am pleased to say that the Bonn meeting produced more clarity on the protocols’s technical and legal details and options to enable a smooth transition between the two commitment periods of the protocol.” However, the only major developed countries that have agreed to continue the Kyoto protocol are those of the European Union. Canada and Japan have dropped out, and the US never ratified the 1997 accord.”
Designing a Green Exit May 2012: Annual investment in all energy will need to rise from $1.3trn to £1.8bn to fund a low carbon future, according to the UN. We need to free up the vast sums of money wasted on inefficient use of fossil fuels, and escape dependency on a diminishing number of fossil-fuel exporters, and can only realistically do this by investing in low-carbon energy. The EU’s cost of importing oil and gas increased from 1.5% of GDP in 2001 to 2.6% in 2010 – amounting to c $424bn in 2010. If oil stays at recent price levels, the EU will spend 3.3% of GDP per year on crude oil alone, more than double 2001 levels. The EU is failing to meet its energy efficiency ambitions – but the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) has been stalled by fears that it would add cost at a time of austerity. The reverse is true: from 2011 – 2020 reduction in fuel use and supply side CAPEX outweigh investments in improved efficiency. Currently fully €270bn is wasted annually on energy consumption in EU buildings.Public finance institutions – such as development banks and export credit agencies – need to expand their efforts in sustaining investment in renewables and energy efficiency. The UK’s Green Investment Bank compares miserably for example to Germany’s KfW. Each euro of KfW’s efficient building programme leverages two and a half euros in private investment, and returns 2-5 euros to the state through job creation. Establishing a post-2020 Renewable’s Directive plan as soon as possible is vital for investor confidence, which has taken multiple hits in multiple nations of late, not least the UK. A communication on this is expected in June, and the EU energy commissioner has stated he wants to put a post-2020 policy in place by 2014. The UK needs to play a leadership role with a strong domestic 2030 renewables target. Europe’s grid infrastructure needs improved connectivity and smart grids are needed to manage intermittent renewables and enable the roll-out of vehicle electrification. But Basel III potentially discourages banks from holding longer-term project finance debt on their balance sheet. A full project bond programme could start in 2014, and the UK can lead both in advocating this, and in instigating domestic bond programmes.
Guardian: “The feed-in tariff for solar photovoltaic panels fitted to existing homes will be cut by about a quarter, from 21p per kWh to 16p, and the length of payments reduced from 25 to 20 years. However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said financial returns would still be around 6% for homeowners, down from the 7-10% when the scheme launched in 2010, as panel costs have fallen. / The changes take effect on 1 August, one month later than planned. ….Jeremy Leggett, chairman at Solarcentury, said: “Though investor confidence will remain uncertain given the proposed three-monthly digressions, the majority of the government’s policies may herald a new seriousness of intent on solar, and indicate that a meaningful solar industrial policy is now a real prospect for the UK”.”
HSBC estimate c $174 billion in outstanding bond issuance fully consistent with climate objectives, more than two thirds of it in Europe. $119 billion of this is in rail, $29 billion in low carbon energy, and $22 billion in financial institutions. 82% of the existing bonds come from corporates, 13% from development banks and financial institutions, 3% from project developers, and 22% from municipalities. This sum can be reasonably expected to grow come what may, given the opening paragraph. But it could be accelerated by three measures: First, introduction of clear, market wide standards. Second, aggregation of bonds is needed. This, among other benefits, will lower the cost of capital. Third, governments could offer tax credit support for qualifying bonds, or other measures aiming to make bonds more eligible for institutional investors.
Guardian: “Apple plans to power its main data centre entirely with renewable energy by the end of this year, taking steps to address longstanding environmental concerns about the rapid expansion of high-consuming computer server farms. / The maker of the iPhone and iPad said on Thursday it was buying equipment from SunPower Corp and startup Bloom Energy to build two solar array installations in North Carolina, near its core data center. / Once up, the solar farm will supply 84m kWh of energy annually. The sites will employ high-efficiency solar cells and an advanced solar tracking system. / The two solar farms will cover 250 acres, among the largest in the industry, the Apple CFO, Peter Oppenheimer, told Reuters. Apple plans on using coal-free electricity in all three of its data centres, with the Maiden facility coal-free by the end of 2012.” Greenpeace, having campaigned for this, offers congratulations.
Bloomberg: “The U.S. yesterday imposed tariffs of as much as 250 percent on Chinese-made solar cells to aid domestic manufacturers beset by foreign competition, though critics said the decision may end up raising prices and hurting the U.S. renewable energy industry. The U.S. Commerce Department ruled that Chinese manufacturers sold cells in the U.S. at prices below the cost of production and announced preliminary antidumping duties ranging from 31 percent to 250 percent, depending on the manufacturer.”
For that, they would need a full field development licence in Q1 2013.
A new EPIA study shows solar PV at 21.9 GW exceeded wind and gas combined (9.5GW).
Reuters: “A report from the Times newspaper on Monday said French nuclear developer EDF had raised the cost of building a nuclear power plant to 7 billion pounds from 4.5 billion pounds last year. “If the latest cost figures are true, new nuclear power plants in the UK are not commercially viable,” Citi analyst Peter Atherton told Reuters. Based on the new figures, nuclear would be the most expensive form of electricity generation, exceeding even offshore wind, he said. “The only way they could be built is if the construction risk was transferred to the taxpayer,” Atherton said, equating to a multi-billion pound government insurance policy”.”
Reuters: They want to put legislation in place first.
My latest Sublime column: The concept of duty is defined in the workplace easily enough with a tightly drafted job description. But that covers only my duty to my employer. What of my duty to society, beyond employment? Here there are no bullet-point templates. As for going beyond duty – surely an objective a good society would encourage in its citizens – what might that mean, in today’s world? The Financial Times recently ran a series of articles entitled ‘Capitalism in Crisis’. It is easy to see why such a title, unimaginable for the pink paper just few years ago, might be deemed germane now. People are becoming sick of the excesses, and politicians are picking up on the resulting change in the zeitgeist. Ed Miliband majors on a responsible capitalism agenda. David Cameron, openly admitting that the British have lost faith in capitalism, seeks to guide the nation to a redefined moral capitalism. Whither duty to society, amid this mess?”