Monday, October 17, 2011

Shell and Brazil's Cosan Launch Multi-Billion Dollar Biofuels Joint Venture

Royal Dutch Shell, the largest oil company in Europe, and Cosan Limited, the largest sugar and ethanol processor in Brazil, have formally launched a multi-billion dollar joint venture that will become the largest producer of ethanol made from sugar cane. The joint venture, called Raizen, will operate in Brazil.

Cosan has invested $3.3 billion and Shell has invested $1.62 billion in the venture. The investments include a 15.7 percent stake in enzyme producer Codexis Inc., a developer of "super-enzymes" for the faster conversion of plant waste into transport fuels, and part of Shell’s interest in Iogen Energy, which uses enzymes to break down plant waste into ethanol. Click here to read more . . . .

Sunday, October 16, 2011

US Ex-Im Bank Finances Small-Scale Renewable Energy Exports

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is facilitating the sale of solar panels from California to a private sector project in Belgium under the bank's "Renewable Express" project financing program. The solar panels for the project will be supplied by Solyndra LLC, a manufacturer of photovoltaic systems headquartered in Fremont, California.

The Ex-Im Bank’s “Renewable Express” project financing program provides streamlined post-completion project financing to small renewable-power producers that meet the bank's credit standards. The bank will consider project financing for small renewable power producers seeking loans of $3 million to $10 million. Renewable Express is available for both corporate balance sheet and limited-recourse transactions that fit within the program’s parameters and where the repayment is generated from the project’s cash flows. Click here to read more . . . .

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Energy Efficient Business Attire

One hot August day, I organized a luncheon in New York City where the President of the Philippines gave a speech to about 150 bankers and business leaders. When I say it was hot, it was a day that defined sweltering. You could see the heat waves rising from the asphalt.

Arriving early to make sure everything was ready, I found that the luncheon hall had been refrigerated (air-conditioned would be a gross understatement) to feel like a walk-in freezer. The manager explained that he had turned the air-conditioning on full blast two hours earlier to get the room so cold. He said this was his standard practice during the summer months because people are pretty hot after walking a few city blocks wearing wool suits. "Don't worry," he assured me. "They'll be so hot when they get here that the room will warm up to a reasonable temperature very quickly." Click here to read more . . . .

Monday, October 10, 2011

Warren Buffett, Sustainable Energy, and American Competitiveness

Warren Buffett explains the root of his success as acting rationally about capital allocation over the long term. Our elected officials would be wise to take note of this investment advice when building a budget. By focusing on where to allocate our society's capital over the long term, we can make wiser decisions.

Start with education. In the 20th century, America allocated more capital to education than any other country in the world. This investment gave us the most highly educated and innovative workforce in the world, and it explains much of our economic dominance of the past century. But today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we are falling behind. The United States ranks 27th out of the 29 most developed countries in the percentage of college students pursuing degrees in science or engineering, and we rank 48th out of 133 developed and developing countries in the quality of our math and science instruction. Click here to read more . . . .

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Renewable Aviation Fuels Standard Gains Preliminary Approval

Biofuels may be powering airplanes sooner than you think. ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, has given preliminary approval for airlines to use a renewable jet fuel blend that includes algae and other plants.

The new ASTM annex to the alternative jet fuel specification D7566 (Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons) details the fuel properties and criteria necessary to control the manufacture and quality of a renewable fuel to ensure safe aviation use. Click here to read more . . . .

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Study Finds Air Pollution May Trigger Heart Attacks

The American Journal of Epidemiology has published a report finding a dramatic correlation between spikes in air pollution and hospital admissions for heart attacks, suggesting that high-pollution days may trigger heart attacks in some people.

The study examined data on more than 10,000 heart attacks between 2002 and 2005. When the heart attack data were correlated with changes in air pollution levels, researchers in Italy found that an increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of fine particulate matter in the air correlated with a 0.01 percent increase in hospitalizations for heart attacks over the next two days. The researchers found a similar correlation between heart attacks and increases in carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Click here to read more . . . .

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Paper Assesses the Future of Nuclear Power in a Changing World

A new paper from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Game Changers for Nuclear Energy, considers different scenarios for nuclear power that take into account a wide range of factors such as new technologies, accidents, nuclear terrorism, and climate change policy. The Academy previously published papers on The Global Nuclear Future in two-volumes of its quarterly journal, D├Ždalus, in 2009-10. The newest paper on "game changers" takes into account developments since then and changing perceptions of nuclear power, including the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Click here to read more . . . .

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

1,000 MPG in Human-Electric Hybrid

A father and son team has set off from New York City in a human-electric hybrid vehicle that will take them across the country using the energy equivalent of just two gallons of gas to travel 4,000 miles. Pierce Hoover, an inventor and journalist, came up with the idea to teach his son the value of turning off a single 100 watt light bulb. That is the amount of energy they will use each day to travel across the United States.

Hoover and his 13 year-old son have embarked on this trip to publicize the energy we can all save by turning off unneeded lights and appliances. In addition to reducing our electric bills, we can also help the environment. Click here to read more . . . .

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How Sustainable Is Your Organization?

Does your organization appreciate and understand the value of integrating sustainability in its strategic plan, as well as the very tangible benefits it creates for the organization and its community?

Today sustainability is not just a catchphrase. For many businesses, colleges and universities, and communities, sustainability is an integral part of their strategic plans and ongoing operations. Click here to read more . . . .

Monday, October 3, 2011

Green Economics: Low Standards Stifle Innovation

American Electric Power (AEP) is shelving plans for the largest Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) project in the country due to the uncertain status of U.S. climate policy and the continued weak economy. "We are placing the project on hold until economic and policy conditions create a viable path forward," said Michael G. Morris, AEP's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

A significant part of the problem is the federal government's failure to require all power generators to lower their carbon emissions. With such a requirement, AEP and its partners would have a competitive advantage by developing cutting edge technology to reduce carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. That competitive advantage would inspire others to invest in competing CCS and related technologies to lower their carbon emissions as well. Click here to read more . . . .

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Private Equity and Insurance Firms Bet Big on Renewable Energy

Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) joined with the world's largest reinsurance company, Munich Re, to purchase a 49% interest in solar power plants owned and operated by T-Solar Global SA. T-Solar is the largest owner-operator of solar power plants in Spain and Italy, with a generating capacity of 168 megawatts.

T-Solar will use the cash infusion to triple its solar capacity to 500 megawatts by 2014. As part of the deal, KKR and Munich Re have options to invest in future plants.  Click here to read more . . . .