Archive for March, 2013

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

That was a line from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner but for World Water Day (22 March) it could be changed to “Water, Water Everywhere but for some there’s not a drop to drink.” Or more correctly for some there’s too much of a good thing. Devastating floods for some and for others there’s drought and lack of the basic water needs. We focus on water this issue, as well as draw attention to Earth Hour, which really does call attention to saving energy and reducing our impact on the environment. Symbolically maybe, but all are urged to go beyond Earth Hour. We also learn about how clean tech is becoming big business in Australia and 2013 is seen as the pivotal year for sustainability to take hold.  We hear the latest as US moves to wean itself off big oil by turning to electrical vehicles and biofuels. Trash is a problem and there’s a host of technological and behavioral means to reduce our waste or turn it into energy or other useful things. The Eco Products International show in Singapore was a showcase for this and more. Energy Efficiency is on the move and making “plastic” bags from cassava starch is in the news. Wave, solar and wind get a boost, while we profile a perennial activist who never gives up. We have our personal mission to recount as well.  It’s all connected! – Ken Hickson

Profile: Erin Brockovich

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

There’s a name to associate with fighting for fairness and fighting to protect the environment. For people’s health and for clean water. The battle still goes on and Erin Brockovich is still in the middle of it. It’s a true story without a happy ending – yet. Very appropriate for World Water Day and Earth Hour. One person can do a lot. Read More

Say the name Erin Brockovich and you think, strong, tough, stubborn and sexy. Erin is all that and definitely more. She is a modern-day “David” who loves a good brawl with today’s “Goliaths.” She thrives on being the voice for those who don’t know how to yell. She is a rebel. She is a fighter. She is a mother. She is a woman. She is you and me.

It’s been 12 years since Julia Roberts starred in the Oscar-winning tour de force “Erin Brockovich”. The film turned an unknown legal researcher into a 20th century icon by showcasing how her dogged persistence was the impelling force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history. Since then, Erin hasn’t been resting on her laurels… she continues to fight hard and win big!

This gutsy broad doesn’t apologize for who she is. She has always loved going head to head with the big boys and was never intimated by their bravado. She learned how to come out on top from her tight-knit mid-western family in Lawrence, Kansas. Erin was the youngest child of an industrial engineer father and journalist mother. Her parents always believed that she could do anything she set her mind to if she learned to focus her amazing energy.

After a few years roaming around at various colleges, Erin decided that she wanted to be a California girl. She first landed a job as a management trainee for K-Mart but when that didn’t make her swagger, she decided to study electrical engineering. But that wasn’t enough for the Kansas beauty… on a fluke, she entered the Miss Pacific Coast beauty pageant… and, not surprising, won the title.

When she realized that beauty pageants weren’t her thing, Erin, her husband and two children settled in Reno, Nevada. After divorcing, the single mother became a secretary at a brokerage firm where she met and married her second husband. But that marriage was short lived and the now mother of three was solo again.

Up until this point, Erin was the average divorced single mother trying to make a living… until she crossed paths with lawyer, Ed Masry, and changed the course of both their lives.

After being seriously injured in a traffic accident in Reno, Erin moved back to California’s San Fernando Valley, and hired Masry & Vititoe to represent her. They won a small settlement but she still needed work so she got a job at their law firm as a file clerk, it was while organizing papers on a pro bono real estate case that Erin first found medical records that would explode into the largest direct action lawsuit in US history.

Erin’s exhaustive investigation uncovered that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the small town of Hinkley’s Water for over 30 years. It was because of Erin’s unwavering tenacity that PG & E had been exposed for leaking toxic Chromium 6 into the ground water. This poison affected the health of the population of Hinkley. In 1996, as a result of the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind, spear-headed by Erin and Ed Masry, the utility giant was forced to pay out the largest toxic tort injury settlement in US history: $333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinkley residents.

The story and eventual film helped make the “Erin Brockovich” a household name. Over time, Erin realized that she could use her notoriety to spread positive messages of personal empowerment and to encourage others to stand up and make a difference.

Then, for three seasons, Erin hosted the Lifetime series, “Final Justice With Erin Brockovich”. The show celebrated everyday women who triumphed when faced with overwhelming adversity.Erin Brockovich has conquered all forms of media… Her first TV project was ABC’s 2001 special “Challenge America With Erin Brockovich” where she helped motivate and organize the rebuilding of a dilapidated park in downtown Manhattan. This show is best described as “Extreme Make-Over Home Edition” on steroids.

Erin then dominated the world of publishing with her New York Times Business best-seller, “Take It From Me. Life’s A Struggle, But You Can Win”.

Because of her fighting spirit, Erin has become the champion of countless women and men. She is this generations, “Dear Abby” and in fact receives thousands of “Dear Erin” letters and emails each year from people who are begging for help and support in their own personal struggles. Erin proudly answers every one of them.

As President of Brockovich Research & Consulting, she is currently involved in numerous environmental projects worldwide.

Erin is one of the most requested speakers on the international lecture circuit and travels the world for personal appearances.

Erin Brockovich is a true American hero who’s icon status and “stick-to-it-iveness” only fuels her determination to expose injustice and lend her voice to those who do not have one.

She has requests for her help in ground water contamination complaints in every state of the US, Australia and other international hot spots. She is currently working on cases in California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri.

Erin lives in Southern California with her husband, three children and 5 Pomeranians and admits to one guilty pleasure… shopping!

When KMBC broke the story about a cluster of brain tumors in Cameron, it drew national attention. One of those taking notice was well-known environmental activist Erin Brockovich.


Watertown, New York

People living near the toxic waste site caused by the New York Brake factory have long believed that the pollution in the area has caused them health problems.

In 2012, two community members of Watertown invited Erin to investigate their concerns. In particular, Andrew Williams, who suffers neurological problems and his former neighbor, Scott Barker.

Mr Barker attributes their illnesses caused by contamination in Kelsey Creek, which they played in as children growing up on Watertown’s East Division Street. “While driving down to my house, I noticed – I asked him about his symptoms of what he was experiencing, and I noticed that they were the same as mine. And I was thinking in my mind what we had in common, and I turned to him: ‘I wonder if it had anything to do with the creek in back of our house?’”

The New York Air Brake site is already on the federal Superfund list, for cleanup of toxic waste.

In August, 2012, Robert Bowcock, an environmental investigator who works closely with Erin, attended the Community Meeting and spoke to a packed house of several hundred people at the North Side Improvement League.

Former workers of the New York Brake Company recalled dumping the industrial solvent tricholoethylene (TCE) into or near the creek. TCE is known to cause neurological damage.

“One of the biggest concerns that I’ve had since I’ve been introduced to this particular case of pollution is the absolute lack of information in the public record. I have never seen so much concealment of information as I have in Watertown.” Mr Bowcock said.

Erin is presently working on the matter with Mr Bowcock and a team of lawyers.


Turn off the Tap so There’s Water for All

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

As we commemorate World Water Day on 22March, take a moment to appreciate that many of us are able to access clean, plentiful water with just a flick of the tap. This is not so for the millions worldwide without access to clean water and sanitation. With a projected growth of global population and changing diets, water resources will be further taxed. However, transboundary agreements on water use are offering some hope in better management of this precious resource. Read more

An increasing demand

85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet.

783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.

6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.

Various estimates indicate that, based on business as usual, ~3.5 planets Earth would be needed to sustain a global population achieving the current lifestyle of the average European or North American.

Global population growth projections of 2–3 billion people over the next 40 years, combined with changing diets, result in a predicted increase in food demand of 70% by 2050.

Over half of the world population lives in urban areas, and the number of urban dwellers grows each day. Urban areas, although better served than rural areas, are struggling to keep up with population growth (WHO/UNICEF, 2010).

With expected increases in population, by 2030, food demand is predicted to increase by 50% (70% by 2050) (Bruinsma, 2009), while energy demand from hydropower and other renewable energy resources will rise by 60% (WWAP, 2009). These issues are interconnected – increasing agricultural output, for example, will substantially increase both water and energy consumption, leading to increased competition for water between water-using sectors.

Water availability is expected to decrease in many regions. Yet future global agricultural water consumption alone is estimated to increase by ~19% by 2050, and will be even greater in the absence of any technological progress or policy intervention.

Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for ~70% of global freshwater withdrawals (up to 90% in some fast-growing economies).

Economic growth and individual wealth are shifting diets from predominantly starch-based to meat and dairy, which require more water. Producing 1 kg of rice, for example, requires ~3,500 L of water, 1 kg of beef ~15,000 L, and a cup of coffee ~140 L (Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2008). This dietary shift is the greatest to impact on water consumption over the past 30 years, and is likely to continue well into the middle of the twenty-first century (FAO, 2006).

About 66% of Africa is arid or semi-arid and more than 300 of the 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment – meaning that they have less than 1,000 m3 per capita (NEPAD, 2006).

The impact of climate change

The IPCC predicts with high confidence that water stress will increase in central and southern Europe, and that by the 2070s, the number of people affected will rise from 28 million to 44 million. Summer flows are likely to drop by up to 80% in southern Europe and some parts of central and Eastern Europe. Europe’s hydropower potential is expected to drop by an average of 6%, but rise by 20–50% around the Mediterranean by 2070 (Alcamo et al., 2007).

The cost of adapting to the impacts of a 2°C rise in global average temperature could range from US$70 to $100 billion per year between 2020 and 2050 (World Bank, 2010). Of this cost, between US$13.7 billion (drier scenario) and $19.2 billion (wetter scenario) will be related to water, predominantly through water supply and flood management.

A resource without borders

Water is not confined to political borders. An estimated 148 states have international basins within their territory (OSU, n.d., 2008 data), and 21 countries lie entirely within them (OSU, n.d, 2002 data).

There are 276 transboundary river basins in the world (64 transboundary river basins in Africa, 60 in Asia, 68 in Europe, 46 in North America and 38 in South America).

185 out of the 276 transboundary river basins, about two-thirds, are shared by two countries. 256 out of 276 are shared by 2, 3 or 4 countries (92,7%), and 20 out of 276 are shared by 5 or more countries (7,2%), the maximum being 18 countries sharing a same transboundary river basin (Danube).

46% of the globe’s (terrestrial) surface is covered by transboundary river basins.

148 countries include territory within one or more transboundary river basins. 39 countries have more than 90% of their territory within one or more transboundary river basins, and 21 lie entirely within one or more of these watersheds.

Russian Federation shares 30 transboundary river basins with riparian countries, Chile and United States 19, Argentina and China 18, Canada 15, Guinea 14, Guatemala 13, and France 10.

Africa has about one-third of the world’s major international water basins – basins larger than 100,000 km2. Virtually all sub-Saharan African countries, and Egypt, share at least one international water basin. Depending on how they are counted, there are between 63 (UNEP, 2010b) and 80 (UNECA, 2000) transboundary river and lake basins on the African continent.

Rich nations are tending to maintain or increase their consumption of natural resources (WWF, 2010), but are exporting their footprints to producer, and typically, poorer, nations. European and North American populations consume a considerable amount of virtual water embedded in imported food and products. Each person in North America and Europe (excluding former Soviet Union countries) consumes at least 3 m3 per day of virtual water in imported food, compared to 1.4 m3 per day in Asia and 1.1 m3 per day in Africa (Zimmer and Renault, n.d.).

Land grabbing is another increasingly common phenomenon. Saudi Arabia, one of the Middle East’s largest cereal growers, announced it would cut cereal production by 12% a year to reduce the unsustainable use of groundwater. To protect its water and food security, the Saudi government issued incentives to Saudi corporations to lease large tracts of land in Africa for agricultural production. By investing in Africa to produce its staple crops, Saudi Arabia is saving the equivalent of hundreds of millions of gallons of water per year and reducing the rate of depletion of its fossil aquifers.

Nearly all Arab countries suffer from water scarcity. An estimated 66% of the Arab region’s available surface freshwater originates outside the region.


The treatment of wastewater requires significant amounts of energy, and demand for energy to do this is expected to increase globally by 44% between 2006 and 2030 (IEA, 2009), especially in non-OECD countries where wastewater currently receives little or no treatment (Corcoran et al., 2010).

Pollution knows no borders either. Up to 90% of wastewater in developing countries flows untreated into rivers, lakes and highly productive coastal zones, threatening health, food security and access to safe drinking and bathing water Over 80% of used water worldwide is not collected or treated (Corcoran et al., 2010).

Cooperation, a contrasted reality

There are numerous examples where transboundary waters have proved to be a source of cooperation rather than conflict. Nearly 450 agreements on international waters were signed between 1820 and 2007 (OSU, 2007).

Over 90 international water agreements were drawn up to help manage shared water basins on the African continent (UNEP, 2010).

Surge for Clean Tech & Funding in Australia

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

The clean technology sector in Australia is experiencing a surge in its expansion, and the trends for this year points to greater opportunities. Policies and increasing concern from the public on the effects of climate change will spur demand for clean technologies and increasing foreign investments will lead to faster expansion. Trends in technological development and improvement also contribute to growth in the clean technology sector. Read more

By Giles Parkinson (18 March 2013):

The Australian cleantech sector boasts revenue of $29 billion a year and employs 53,000 people, making it larger than Australia’s automative manufacturing industry and one quarter the size of the country’s entire manufacturing sector.

A new study produced by research and advisory firm Australian CleanTech says an analysis of 1,340 Australian cleantech firms shows they were involved in capital transations totalling $1.3 billion in the 2012 calendar year in 126 separate capital transactions.

Australian Cleantech Review 2013 says the cleantech sector, which is defined as products and services that have both economic and environmental benefits, and includes renewable energy, water, waste and recycling, energy efficiency and carbon trading, employs five times as many people per dollar of revenue than general manufacturing. The big growth sectors were in solar, water, energy efficiency and green buildings.

NSW and Victoria were the most active states, with the water, wind, solar and environmental services sectors all generating more than $1 billion in revenue in the last calendar year. Queensland and WA had comparatively little cleantech activity because they focused on mining. Despite accounting for just 0.07 per cent of the total number of registered companies, just 0.7 per cent of the listed company market capitalisation and only 0.5 per cent of the working population, the cleantech sector generated 2.0 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2012, up from 1.8 per cent in 2011.

However, the study’s lead author, John O’Brien, the managing director of Australian Cleantech, says Australian is at risk of falling further behind the world in the cleantech sector, particularly the leading Asian economies.

“The government’s industry development programs in 2012 have provided some assistance to the sector, but we still have a long way to go before we are in the premier league,” O’Brien says.

“We work extensively in China and Korea sourcing investors for the Australian market and the difference in the growth in those markets compared to Australia is huge. We have some great technologies and expertise and we have the opportunity to take these to the world.”

The report includes some forecasts for the cleantech trends for 2013.

The highlights include a prediction that Australia is heading for an emissions trading scheme, rather than a fixed carbon price, whichever party wins government, and that cleantech, largely misunderstood or ignored in Australia, despite its growing size, will come to the attention of more people in 2013, particularly to customers and investors.

And it predicts growing interest in investment from China and South Korea, which it describes as a significant opportunity for the Australian clean-tech sector. A separate story highlighting the likely technology trends in Australia in 2013 can be found here.

Here they are in no particular order:

Politics plays snap: Regardless of the election result, it seems likely that the winner will move from a fixed price to an ETS earlier than the current 2015 to take advantage of the cheaper international certificates. This will lead to cuts to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and some of the ARENA programs.

Industry adopts resource efficiency: Industry is increasingly demanding cleantech solutions that improve their efficiency of operation and have immediate bottom line benefits. Energy Efficiency has been the first target of action but, during 2013, industry will adopt a focus on Resource Efficiency with the inclusion of efficiency solutions for energy, water, waste or materials.

Downside drivers change community conversations: The poor air quality in cities, water shortages in agricultural areas, contaminated land and water, increase severe storm events and many other characteristics will continue to be reported. But during 2013, this will start to take hold in the popular press and start to change the Community Conversations and the consequent political discussions on the need for cleantech

Global Cleantech Temptation: The extent of the global growth and investment into cleantech is largely ignored or misunderstood in Australia. In 2013, there will start to more coverage of the Opportunities of Cleantech that in turn will lead to increasing customer and investor interest in the sector.

Wind energy flies again: With the RET uncertainty resolved, the demand for LGCs increasing from liable entities, turbine prices dropping and more mature investors starting to enter the sector, 2013 is likely to see a significant increase in wind farm development  and construction activity in Australia. (RenewEconomy note: We’d really like to agree but think there is a lot of uncertainty over the Coalition’s position on this – even the right wing of the Labor Party).

Who needs a feed-in tariff? Solar pricing is now reaching a level where it is competitive with off-grid and onsite usage without a feed-in tariff. 2013 will see 5-10 commercial Scale Solar Projects commence construction and start to deliver power late in the year or in early 2014.

New tricks for financial jugglers: Environmental Upgrade Agreement finance has been slow take hold but will make further progress in 2013 through both Government facilitated schemes and through private funds using ESCo models.

Yuan and won flow freely: North Asian investment from China and Korea has started to explore the investment opportunities available in Australia. This is a very significant opportunity for the Australian cleantech sector because as this investment flow accelerates and starts to be seen as the usual way to secure finance, the lack of interest from Australian investors and the small scale of the local VC industry will then start to become irrelevant.


By John Obrien (18 March 2013):

(This is an excerpt from the Australian Cleantech Review 2013 to be released this week. Additional coverage of the report can be found here).

From a technology perspective there are many trends emerging globally that will impact cleantech activities in Australia. There are also some local technology trends that need to be understood and carefully watched. Some of these are detailed below.

Wind Turbine Efficiency

Wind turbine technology is becoming more efficient at lower wind speeds opening up additional wind farm locations and potentially moving away from high profile and often contentious coastal areas. This is being driven by both cheaper sites inland and increasing community resistance to additional wind farms. In 2013 the added pressure of 2km limits already imposed in Victoria and New South Wales and the continuing well-funded and factually inept anti-wind farm campaigns through News Ltd, 2GB, 3AW and other channels will continue to drive wind farms to alternate locations.

Offshore Wind

Offshore wind is growing fast globally and particularly in Europe. However, Australia with large expanses of cheap land is unlikely to see any installation within the next ten years.

Small Wind

Small wind turbine technologies, especially those using a vertical axis, are improving rapidly and large scale roll-outs are likely to be seen over the next few years.

Rooftop PV

Globally and locally, the rate of installation of rooftop solar pV panels will continue to increase despite the reduction in tariffs around the world. The growth in thin film technologies has been set back due to the rapid reduction in cost of polysilicon that has reduced or even removed their cost benefits. This has been seen with the high profile failures of companies such as Solyndra. The conventional PV panels will continue to fall in price through 2013 and may reach less than US$0.55/W for wholesale panels. This compares to nearly $2.00/W at the end of 2010.

Commercial PV

Ground mounted, tracking and commercial roof flat plate solar pV systems of up to 5MW is a growing market segment in Australia. Whilst generally excluded from the feed-in schemes, as the technologies start to approach grid parity, it will be the large installations with greater economies of scale that will be installed first.


The first Building Integrated pV (BIPV) were available in 2011 but are still expensive. 2013 will see the continued price reduction and deployment of these technologies. It will however still be several years before these products are truly competitive on price.

Concentrating Solar

High efficiency solar PV cells for use in concentrating solar systems will continue to improve and lead the concentrating solar industry towards this solution in the longer term.

Energy Storage

Energy storage and smart grid technologies will continue to enter the market during 2013, with some potentially some big breakthroughs in market ready batteries and their battery management systems possible during the year. This is largely being driven by multinationals such as GE, Siemens and Chinese and Korean firms although there are some active smaller Australian companies such as Redflow, Cap-XX, Ecoult and ZEN Energy.

Recycling Technologies

Driven by increasing commodity prices, innovative resource recovery technologies will continue to emerge in 2013 to capture metals from wastewater, plastics reprocessing and other key recycling feedstocks.

Electric Vehicles

The choice for consumers of hybrid and fully electric vehicles will continue to increase in 2013 as new products enter the new markets. The roll-out of recharging networks has taken a step backwards with the demise of Better Place Australia but is likely to help focus the roll out towards home recharging and fast charging and away from the battery swap technology that had many doubters as to its longevity.


With desalination facilities being installed at increasing rates globally, there will be an increasing driver for technologies that improve operational performance through, for instance, reducing power requirements or increasing membrane lives. Australia has a number of groups focussing on these technologies that may emerge in 2013.


Whilst 2013 is likely to see some additional good breakthroughs in cellulosic and possibly even algae technologies, it is unlikely that these will be close to entering the market this year.


It was hoped that 2012 would have seen the long awaited proof of concept for the Hot Dry Rock geothermal industry. Whilst there was some progress, there was little interest as shown by the repeated poor performance of the ACT Geothermal Index. Australian expertise is however being deployed globally and this may make some progress in less challenging environments during 2013.

Waste-to- energy and Biomass

Waste-to-energy and biomass both have massive near-term potential although have to date been hindered by supply chain and feedstock sourcing issues and the perceptions of perceived ‘incineration’ being bad within the community. Once these hurdles are negotiated, it is likely that a good number of projects may be delivered.

Wave and Tidal Energy

With wave and tidal energy, there is much focus on pulling through the best technologies around the world and particularly in Canada, Scotland and Korea. There are a few promising technologies in Australia but appear likely to only succeed if they step early into international partnerships. There appears to an emerging consensus that the likely winners will be entirely undersea to avoid the ‘visual pollution’ arguments besetting the wind industry.

Building Technologies

Building technology uptake and development will continue to be slow which will limit the technology developments coming through. Until property investors grapple with the issue of lifecycle value recuperation, technologies in this area are only going to provide niche market solutions. This is likely to be boosted in 2013 by the ongoing, if slow, roll out of Environmental Finance Agreements to provide the structure for benefits to be shared equitably.

John O’Brien is managing director of Australian Cleantech, a research and advisory firm. The full report will be released this week at functions at Perth and Brisbane.


Electric Vehicles & Biofuels Get Presidential Two Billion Dollar Boost

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

President Obama is stepping up on his commitment to drastically cut fossil fuel use with a proposal to spend US$2 billion over the next decade to expand research into electric vehicles and biofuels. This is part of the strategy to reduce reliance on imported oil and to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. This is on the back of a recent Department of Energy study showing the potential of an 80% drop in transportation emissions by 2050. Read more

Obama Says US Must Shift Cars, Trucks Off Of Oil

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (15 March 2013):

LEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Envisioning cars that can go “coast to coast without using a drop of oil,” President Barack Obama on Friday urged Congress to authorize spending $2 billion over the next decade to expand research into electric cars and biofuels to wean automobiles off gasoline.

Obama, expanding on an initiative he addressed in his State of the Union speech last month, said the United States must shift its cars and trucks entirely off oil to avoid perpetual fluctuations in gas prices. Citing policies that already require automakers to increase gas mileage, he said he expects that by the middle of the next decade, Americans will only have to fill up their cars half as often.

“We’ve set some achievable but ambitious goals,” Obama said, speaking at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago

“The only way to break this cycle of spiking gas prices — the only way to break that cycle for good — is to shift our cars entirely, our cars and trucks, off oil,” the president said.

Friday’s speech, with its focus on energy, was designed to draw attention to what the White House says is one of Obama’s top agenda items for his second term. That focus, however, has been overshadowed as the administration and Congress work on an immigration overhaul, gun legislation and deficit-reduction measures.

Obama cast his proposal as not only a clean energy plan, but as one meant to create opportunities for economic growth.

“I want the next great job-creating breakthroughs, whether it’s in energy or nanotechnology or bio-engineering , I want those breakthroughs to be right here in the United States of America, creating American jobs and maintaining our technological lead,” he said.

Obama spoke from inside Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source, a ring-shaped facility a mile and a half around. The facility acts as a giant extra-bright X-ray that allows scientists to look inside objects at the atomic level.

The initiative, proposing to spend $200 million a year on research, would be paid for with revenue from federal oil and gas leases on offshore drilling and would not add to the deficit.

The money would fund research on “breakthrough” technologies such as batteries for electric cars and biofuels made from switch grass or other materials. Researchers also would look to improve use of natural gas as a fuel for cars and trucks.

Obama’s motorcade passed a couple dozen protesters standing in the rain at the Argonne entrance, protesting against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. The Obama administration is considering whether to clear the project. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force one that “there’s no question” that the types of green energy initiatives the president was talking about at Argonne would have more impact on climate change than whether Keystone is built.

“Thousands of miles of pipelines have been built since President Obama took office inside the United States of America and it hasn’t had a measurable impact on climate change” Earnest said. “But what has had an impact, measurable impact, on climate change has been, for example, the car rule that the president has put in place that has greatly increased fuel efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.”

Inside the national lab, Obama got a firsthand look at some of the cutting-edge vehicle research, including a room that can go to extreme temperatures to test the impact on fuel efficiency. He talked to engineers working on electric car batteries and on an engine that runs on diesel and gasoline to reduce fuel costs.

“We want to keep on funding them,” the president said as he looked at the engine, developed with public and private funding from Chrysler. “That’s what I’m trying to tell Congress.”

The proposal is modeled after a plan submitted by a group of business executives and former military leaders who are committed to reducing U.S. oil dependence. The group, called Securing America’s Future Energy, or SAFE, is headed by FedEx Corp. Chairman and CEO Frederick W. Smith and retired Marine Corps Gen. P.X. Kelley.

Creation of the trust would require congressional approval at a time of partisan divide over energy issues. Republicans have pushed to expand oil and gas drilling on federal land and water, while Obama and many Democrats have worked to boost renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

There were signs agreement may be possible. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has called it “an idea I may agree with.”

Murkowski, senior Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, did not fully endorse the plan, which is similar to one she has proposed to use revenue from drilling for oil and natural gas on public lands that previously were off-limits to energy production to pay for research on new energy technologies.

White House officials said the president’s proposal would not require expansion of drilling to federal lands or water where it is now prohibited. Instead, they are counting on increased production from existing sites, along with efficiencies from an administration plan to streamline drilling permits. The government collects more than $6 billion a year in royalties from production on federal lands and waters.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said Obama needs to expand drilling to get his support.

“For this proposal to even be plausible, oil and gas leasing on federal land would need to increase dramatically,” the spokesman, Brendan Buck, said. “Unfortunately, this administration has consistently slowed, delayed and blocked American energy production.”

Obama’s push for the energy trust came as the Environmental Protection Agency released a report Friday indicating that fuel economy standards rose last year by 1.4 miles per gallon, the largest annual increase since EPA started keeping track. The agency said the improvement was due to better availability of high-performing cars and more options for consumers.

A spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said the group supports efforts to make diverse fuels more available but said improved transportation infrastructure, such as additional charging stations for electric cars and greater availability of clean diesel fuel, also is needed.



By Tina Casey in Cleantechnica (18 March 2013):

President Obama dropped a cleantech bombshell on Friday when he renewed his call for Congress to create a new $2 billion Energy Security Trust to fund cutting edge clean energy research projects, but that wasn’t even the half of it. Yesterday the President also announced that he would deploy a 1970′s-era law to order all federal agencies to consider climate change when new projects come up for review, he called for pulling the whole transportation sector off petroleum, and his Energy Department released a major study that demonstrates the potential for an 80 percent drop in transportation emissions by 2050. What’s he gonna do for an encore?

The Energy Security Trust

From the get-go in his first term, President Obama has deployed billions of dollars for major cutting-edge clean tech research projects, so from our perspective the $2 billion Energy Security Trust is chump change. Come to think of it, that’s probably his whole point.

The $2 billion is not an annual figure, it would be spread out over ten years. More to the point, the Trust would not be funded by the taxpaying public through general revenues, it would be paid for by a tiny (tiny, tiny) fraction of oil and gas profits through a designated tax that applies only to their operations on public lands.

In addition, traditional energy companies stand to benefit far beyond the amount they chip into the Trust. Chevron, for example, is already beginning to include more clean energy tech in its operations. Shell, which famously dropped its clean tech divisions a few years ago, seems ready to jump back in again. These companies are in a great position to pick the fruits of Energy Security Trust research.

Just to give you a very small idea of how juicy those fruits could be for the diversified energy corporation of the future, consider that the whole booming natural gas fracking industry was made possible by government-funded research into advanced drilling technology.

It’s also worth noting that traditional oil-exporting countries like Saudi Arabia are already investing billions in national clean energy projects in preparation for a far more diversified energy future.

So…if the amount of the Trust is relatively modest and the voting public isn’t paying for it anyways and the energy industry stands to benefit enormously from it and it would enhance our competitiveness in the global energy sector, how could Congress justify turning it down?

Not to get all three dimensional chess-y here, but it seems to us that the President just double-dared Republican leadership in Congress to turn him down.

Nixon To The Rescue

Speaking of dares, President Obama used his State of the Union address to dare Congress to keep sitting on its hands instead of tackling climate change, famously stating that “If Congress doesn’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”

So, that didn’t take long. As reported by Bloomberg News, yesterday the President ordered all federal agencies to include climate change in environmental reviews.

The order was based on a law passed during the Nixon Administration, which directed all federal agencies to consider the impact of proposed projects on air, water and soil.

Those impacts generally apply locally, and the new order would force agencies to consider global effects as well. That could throw an enormous roadblock across any number of controversial projects including the Keystone XL pipeline as well as proposals to expand coal exports and natural gas exports.

80 Percent Drop in Transportation Emissions

Rounding out yesterday’s activities, the Department of Energy released a report demonstrating the potential for an 80 percent drop in transportation emissions by 2050, while not uncoincidentally the President called for transitioning the entire transportation sector from petroleum to electricity and other forms of clean, renewable energy.

The new study, called Transportation Energy Futures, notes that the transportation sector accounts for 71 percent of U.S. petroleum consumption and a full 33 percent of its carbon emissions.

The study consists of nine coordinated reports covering all vehicles including rail and aircraft, fuel infrastructure including a balanced biomass strategy, and mass transit along with other fuel-saving pathways including telecommuting and tele-shopping.

If this all seems rather over-ambitious, as we mentioned earlier these announcements come on the heels of four years of intensive clean energy activities under Obama’s first term, which in turn builds on several programs that date back to the Bush Administration and earlier.

Or, as Obama put it in his weekly address this morning: “You see, after years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to take control of our energy future.”


2013 a Pivotal Year for Natural Capital & Sustainability Growth

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

A variety of factors are coalescing to make 2013 a pivotal year in the growth of sustainability. An increasing number of organisations are incorporating environmental and social concerns into their strategic planning. According to the ACCA, KPMG and Fauna & Flora International report, nearly half of all corporations identify natural capital (the stock of capital derived from natural resources such as biological diversity, ecosystems and the services they provide) as a material issue for their businesses. Read More

Sustainability: Past, Present, and Future

The Energy Collective (16 March 2013):

A variety of factors are coalescing to make 2013 a pivotal year in the growth of sustainability. Year after year, sustainability has gained ground as an increasing number of organizations are incorporating environmental and social concerns into their strategic planning.

The corporate community cannot ignore the overwhelming logic of the business case for sustainability. The benefits include reduced input costs, increased risk mitigation, lower healthcare costs, greater worker productivity, improved employee attraction and retention. Sustainability is more than a competitive advantage, it is a competitive necessity.

According to the ACCA, KPMG and Fauna & Flora International report (PDF), nearly half of all corporations identify natural capital (the stock of capital derived from natural resources such as biological diversity, ecosystems and the services they provide) as a material issue for their businesses.

Environmental Business Journal research titled EBJ’s Global Environmental Markets 2012 indicates that in 2011, despite the fragile global economy and political disinterest in environmental issues, the $866 billion global environmental market grew by four percent, which is more than GDP growth at 3.9 percent.

In 2011, the global environmental market grew significantly more than the traditional infrastructure segments. EBJ research indicates that the largest sector was solid waste management ($140.9 billion), followed by water utilities and water treatment works. Clean energy systems and power ranked as the fourth largest segment in 2011, with growth of 11 percent. Only resource recovery grew faster, at 13 percent.

Resource development is growing as modernizing economies develop the energy and raw materials needed for industrial growth. In 2011, the consulting and engineering segment contributed $54.8 billion to total global environmental revenues.

Early interest in sustainability was focused on protecting against legal challenges and reducing costs. However, a study conducted by Siemens and McGraw-Hill Construction indicates that this is changing. According to the study, titled “Greening of Corporate America,” companies are getting on board for reasons beyond the immediate legal and cost related issues. This research indicates that the percentage of firms who engaged sustainability due to legal obligations or costs, fell by almost half from 33 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2012.

In 2012, a total of 42 percent of companies said that sustainability plays a key role in their business operations, that is more than twice as many as in 2006. The role of the chief sustainability officer also continued to rise in 2012, along with dedicated sustainability budgets.

Since 2006, corporate sustainability has become a standard element of business strategy. By 2009, almost twice as many companies (30 percent) saw sustainability as centrally oriented to their business operations, including the sale of “green” products or services, as compared to 2006.

A 2012 Deloitte survey of 208 global CFOs from 10 countries found that more than 70 percent are fully or periodically involved in all aspects of sustainability strategy and governance at their firm.

An October 2012 BSR Globscan survey of 556 professionals from business, NGOs, government, and academia around the world indicated that the integration of sustainability into core business functions and across the supply chain is the most important leadership challenge they face. This study noted:

Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents selected sustainability integration as the most significant challenge they faced (unchanged from 2011).

Sustainability reporting is the area in which business is expected to be able to make the most progress.

Water is one of the issues that respondents believe business has made the least progress on over the past 20 years, but they expect to make the most progress in the next 20 years.

Public policy and sustainable consumption are areas that appear to be the greatest challenges for future progress.

According to a Verdantix survey, corporate spending on energy, environment and sustainability management in 2013 will grow by just under 10 percent. The study titled, “Global Sustainability Leaders Survey: Budgets and Priorities” report, indicated that 46 percent of respondents expect their spending to increase by up to 10 percent in 2013, while 39 percent face flat budgets. The report is based on interviews with 250 sustainability decision-makers at firms with revenues over $250 million, across 13 countries and 21 industries.

A total of 11 percent of those surveyed anticipate increasing their spending on sustainability by more than 10 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. Approximately 25 percent of firms will spend at least 2 percent of revenues on energy, environment and sustainability initiatives.

Most of those surveyed indicate that they expect some major changes in coming years. More than 90 percent of those surveyed predict that sustainability management will change by 2015, with 43 percent predicting significant changes, 37 percent forecasting minimal changes, and 11 percent saying sustainability management will be transformed.

Another Verdantix report found more than one third (38 percent) of corporate sustainability leaders say their CEOs take a long-term perspective on sustainability. The report titled, “What CEOs Really Think About Sustainability,” found that 21 percent of respondents indicated that CEOs believe sustainability affects quarterly performance.

The Carbon Disclosure Project report, titled “Reducing Risk and Driving Business Value,” indicated that more than 70 percent of respondents are concerned about the cost implications of climate change, and as a result, 38 percent have set emission reduction goals.

The 2012 Deloitte survey titled “Drivers of Long Term Business Value” indicated that by 2020, CEOs expect sustainability to be fully integrated into corporate capabilities, processes and systems, and across global supply chains and subsidiaries.

A 2013 Mark Lee article published in GreenBiz explores the idea that now is the time for sustainability to make major leaps forward. In the article, he reviews how the mechanics of measurement, benchmarking and targeting are important but he also emphasizes the timing of shifts, including how to predict, address and capitalize on these shifts.

Lee points to amazing shifts that are occurring in society, generally and specifically endemic to sustainable development in the U.S. He sees progress on gay rights, immigration reform and climate policy. In California, there is the new cap and trade program that went online in 2012 and in the North East, there is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Finally, we are seeing a new energy in civil society with people demanding action on climate.

As Lee describes it, there needs to be a connection between the vision, metrics and goals, corporate sustainability, leadership and wider societal change. Individuals and organizational entities must continue their work with efforts like the vision-performance-engagement framework. However, we also have to pay attention to the larger context.

Lee sees this as a movement with little downside risk, he also believes that we have a window of opportunity in 2013 in which societal foment and sustainability can come together to deliver new and exceptional results.

While sustainability implementation was once fraught with risk, sustainability is now seen as a powerful approach to reduce risk and establish competitive positioning.


Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of The Green Market Oracle, a leading sustainable business site and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment.


What to do with Waste. Try the Singapore way.

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

The Singapore Government is piloting “save-as-you-reduce” schemes to see if they help cut household waste and get residents to recycle more, the Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu said at the launch of Eco Products International Fair. From next year, large hotels and shopping centres in Singapore have to report how much waste they generate and what their targets are to reduce and recycle it. Read More

“If we find that households are reducing their waste, we can consider passing back some of the savings so there’s a direct relationship between their behaviour and their pocket.”

‘Less trash, pay less’ scheme to be tested

Project involving over 1,400 homes aims to cut waste, boost recycling

By Grace Chua in The Straits Times (15 March 2013):

THROW away less trash, and get to pay less.

The Government is piloting “save-as-you-reduce” schemes in Punggol, Bartley and Yuhua, to see if they help cut household waste and get residents to recycle more, said Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu yesterday.

“If we find that households are reducing their waste, we can consider passing back some of the savings so there’s a direct relationship between their behaviour and their pocket.”

The domestic waste generated in Singapore has been rising faster than population growth.

And the overall waste this country produces has grown from 5.97 million tonnes a year since 2008 to 6.9 million tonnes in 2011 – which roughly equals the weight of 275,000 fully loaded garbage trucks.

In the same year, 59 per cent of Singapore’s total waste was recycled, but the National Environment Agency hopes this figure will hit 65 per cent by 2020.

There are already schemes to encourage recycling. From last year, new public waste collection contracts must include the supply of one recycling bin for each HDB block. And from next year, large hotels and shopping centres have to report how much waste they generate and what their targets are to reduce and recycle it.

Although few details were available on how the new scheme will be implemented, the Government is hoping the 11-month “save-as-you-reduce” trial, which starts next month for more than 1,400 households, will also make a mark.

HDB residents in the targeted estates pay between $4.82 and $6.08 a month for trash services, while the cost for landed properties ranges between $17 and $20.

Mr Andrew Tan, 29, a civil servant who lives in a house off Braddell Road, said the scheme would make him think twice about throwing things out rather than recycling them.

Punggol HDB resident Daphne Maia Loo, a 29-year-old social media manager, wondered if people would stop reducing their waste if the financial incentive was later removed.

She said: “How are we going to inculcate a habit of reduce, reuse and recycle if we only go for short-term solutions and instant-gratification programmes?”

Ms Fu, who was speaking at the Eco-Products International Fair at Marina Bay Sands’ convention centre yesterday, also said that from next year, television sets being sold must bear labels showing how energy-efficient they are. Air-conditioners, refrigerators and clothes dryers already carry such labels.

From next year too, clothes dryers and general lighting must meet minimum energy-efficiency targets.


Waste not, want not pays dividends

In the second of a four-part series on environmental engineering companies, Yasmine Yahya speaks to Wah & Hua, one of the largest waste management companies in Singapore, with over 30 years of experience.

Published on Mar 13, 2013

GOING into the waste collection and disposal business is not an obvious job for a 21-year-old woman, but Ms Melissa Tan decided to take the plunge.

Although easy in one respect, in that the company was run by her father, it was still a difficult journey at first. But 13 years on, Ms Tan, now 35, has helped to grow Wah & Hua from a small operation to one of Singapore’s biggest waste management and recycling companies.

When her father Steven Tan founded the company 30 years ago, it handled everything from waste collection to sales.

“In the past, he was like a karung guni man. He would collect paper or plastics and then sell them,” said Ms Tan. “Now we have our own fleet of trucks (to) collect waste from our customers and recycle it.”

Wah & Hua used to collect and dispose of waste, but today it also processes and recycles metal, paper, plastic and wood at its Kranji factory. The recycled material is sold back to the customer or to trading companies and manufacturers, which can use it to make new products. Discarded plastic, for example, can be turned into clothes, plastic bags or mineral water bottles, Ms Tan said.

Her father, now semi-retired, goes to the office every once in a while to oversee operations, leaving the day-to-day running of the business to Ms Tan and her brother Desmond.

It has been a painstaking climb, Ms Tan said.

“I was only 21… I was quite blur,” she joked.

“But I talked to my father’s friends, who were all established businessmen, and I realised that to help out in the family business, I had to put in extra effort.”

She worked hard to understand the waste management business, and gradually came to see the growth potential.

“Eventually I realised that waste management is really an essential service – as long as there are humans living on earth, there will be a need for waste services.”

And that was when Wah & Hua really began scaling up.

It successfully applied for factory space from JTC Corp in 2001, allowing it to enter the waste recycling business.

Over the years, it has grown from a team of 20, when Ms Tan joined, to 100 today, with plans to grow even bigger.

Ms Tan declined to reveal its revenue or profits, but said both indicators have increased fivefold since 2001.

It is conducting feasibility studies on setting up in Malaysia and China, and could have its first overseas factory as early as next year, Ms Tan said.

It is also studying ways to process waste into new products such as fuel.

“It’s not a glamorous or sexy industry, so we’ll have to put in a lot of effort to improve the image of waste management and attract the talent we need,” she added.

In the meantime, Wah & Hua is investing in automation so it can reduce its reliance on foreign workers, and be more productive.

One move has been to install a materials recovery facility – a conveyor system that can mechanically separate waste and prepare it for recycling. The $3 million or so for the machine is a huge investment, but it will help to improve capacity.

“We are planning to run more shifts. Now we have only one shift, but we hope to run two or even three shifts with the machine,” Ms Tan said.

The company also hopes to attract retirees or housewives to work part-time as inspectors to ensure the waste is sorted properly.

“They won’t have to touch the waste. There’s a bit of hand picking, but since we handle commercial only waste, it’s not very dirty – there’s no food waste,” she said.


Billions of Dollars to Save with Effective Energy Labelling & Benchmarking

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

A comprehensive building labeling and benchmarking program proposed for the United States could save approximately 1.6 quads (that’s 468,000 gigawatt hours) of energy and US$60 billion between 2014 and 2030. Just one of the measures in a report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) which is highlighting 16 policies that remove market barriers across the economy to investments in energy efficiency. Meanwhile the Singapore government is extending water and energy efficiency labelling to more appliances, and is looking into more mandatory efficiency standards for them. Read More

Energy efficiency labelling to be extended to more appliances

By Alice Chia for Channel NewsAsia (14 March 2013):

SINGAPORE : The government is extending water and energy efficiency labelling to more appliances, and is looking into more mandatory efficiency standards for them.

Grace Fu, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said: “It is important for us to first of all give our consumers the necessary information about how energy-efficient products can help them to save energy costs in the long run.

“At the same time, by regulating the type of product that is being sold, we hope that we can bring in more energy-efficient products so that it will bring down the costs for consumers.”

Ms Fu was speaking at the Eco-products International Fair on Thursday.

From September, air conditioners and refrigerators sold in Singapore will have to meet stricter energy efficiency standards.

From next year, television sets will come with labels showing how energy-efficient they are, while clothes dryers and lighting must meet performance standards.

Washing machines will also have to meet a minimum water efficiency standard of one tick from April next year.

This will help consumers and businesses make informed choices and enjoy cost-savings from energy and water consumption over time.

Households will be encouraged to recycle, with more bins and collections.

The government is also considering a usage-based pricing waste disposal system.

“Save-As-You-Reduce” pilot projects will be conducted in the Punggol and Bartley areas.

They will involve a small number of HDB blocks, condominiums and landed properties, as well as the first HDB Greenprint precinct in Yuhua.

During the pilot projects, residents will be updated on how much they have recycled and thrown away.



ACEEE Outlines 16 Policies to Remove Market Barriers to Energy Efficiency and Leverage Market Forces

Energy Efficiency Policies Could Save the U.S. Economy Almost $1 Trillion

Washington, D.C. (March 18, 2013): The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a new report today highlighting 16 policies that remove market barriers across the economy to investments in energy efficiency. The report,

Overcoming Market Barriers and Using Market Forces to Advance Energy Efficiency , provides Congress and state policymakers with a road map to address national energy consumption through policies that could save the country approximately $1 trillion in energy bills and 19 quads in energy consumption.

The United States has made much progress in energy efficiency in the last few decades but there are still large, cost-effective opportunities available to advance efficiency even further, while improving the economy at the same time. However, a variety of market failures and market barriers contribute to keeping us from fully realizing our energy efficiency potential.

“Eliminating barriers that keep us from reducing waste is an approach both sides of the aisle can support,” said ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel. “By removing these barriers, Congress and state policymakers have an opportunity to let smart investments help strengthen the economy while saving the nation billions.”

The report discusses several targeted policies that leverage market mechanisms and address specific market failures to energy efficiency, without requiring substantial spending or government mandates. For example, the development of a comprehensive building labeling and benchmarking program could save approximately 1.6 quads of energy and $60 billion between 2014 and 2030. Even more impressive are the benefits gained from adjusting corporate tax legislation to encourage the replacement of inefficient equipment and from removing regulatory barriers to combined heat and power (CHP) projects. These two policies alone could reduce national energy consumption by 7 quads and save the economy close to $300 billion.

“We want to show policymakers that there are a number of cost-effective policies out there that could promote energy efficiency and kick start the economy at the same time. This report highlights a number of inventive approaches that we haven’t made much use of to date,” said lead author and ACEEE Senior Research Analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan.

The report includes policy interventions targeted at residential and commercial buildings, the industrial sector, and the transportation sector, as well as a number of policies with economy-wide benefits. For each measure, the report provides a brief description of the policy, its legislative history, general estimates of associated costs and benefits, and recommendations about future policy design.

To read the report visit:


About ACEEE: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit

Sunshine & Favourable waves and winds for Energy firms

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

Australia’s Carnegie estimates the global wave-power market could be worth $100 billion by 2025, but there’s more than just economic motives with this one. While engineering services company Boustead Singapore has entered into a joint venture agreement for a $75 million solar power project in Japan.Indian state of Kerala’s Finance Minister K.M. Mani announced that a wind farm with a capacity to generate 200 MW would be set up with the help of National Thermal Power Corporation. Another wind farm with 22 MW capacity would come up at Kanjikkode. Read More


By Tim Boreham for The Australian (9 March 2013):

MICRO-CAP stocks are lowly valued for a reason, but we can’t help thinking this one is on the crest of a special wave.

At least you would think so, judging by Carnegie’s ability to attract Barack Obama’s most senior military adviser for a look-see.

Carnegie last week won a $1.27 million federal grant to add a desal component to a proposed power plant at the Garden Island naval base near Perth, using its fully owned CETO technology.

Unlike other wave-power methods, CETO is based on out-of-sight buoys which are tethered to the sea floor and move in harmony with the waves, creating pressurised water and power.

The project has already attracted $9.9m of Canberra grants, with the WA government chipping in $7.76m.

Carnegie estimates the global wave-power market could be worth $100 billion by 2025, but there’s more than just economic motives with this one.

Garden Island, Australia’s biggest naval base, must diversify its power source in case an enemy (say, Rottnest Islanders with killer quokkas) attack.

Where CETO comes into its own is as an alternative source for island nations, which rely on hugely expensive diesel power for both power and desal. At Reunion Island, Carnegie and French energy giant EDF have entered into a financial arrangement, by which EDF uses the CETO technology under licence to build a two megawatt power plant.

On Bermuda — which also suffers with the world’s most expensive power and water — Carnegie has a less advanced tie-up with Triton Renewable Energy.

Chief executive Mike Ottaviano attributes the share weakness partly to the cash-strapped AIM-listed Renewable Energy Holdings selling down its 20 per cent stake last year. Half of these shares were picked up by a consortium including infrastructure guru and ex-footy player Mike Fitzpatrick.

REH agreed to put the other half into escrow and since then REH has come under control of Utilico, which has power interests in Bermuda.

The alternative power sector is deeply out of favour but Carnegie has some 7000 “passionate” individual holders.

While cognisant of the alternative energy sector’s poor listed record, we’ll call Carnegie a spec buy. By way of comparison, in January France’s DCNS paid $150m for 60 per cent of Irish tidal play OpenHydro, which is in pre-revenue stage and is a similar size to Carnegie.



By Teo Si Jia for Business Times (16 March 2013):

Boustead in Japan solar power

ENGINEERING services company Boustead Singapore has entered into a joint venture agreement that will lead to the undertaking of a $75 million solar power project in Japan.

The joint venture vehicle, Kinnon Green, owns the rights to a 20 megawatt solar photo voltaic power generation portfolio in Kyushu, Japan.

Through wholly owned Boustead Knowledge, the group will subscribe for 73,001 shares in Kinnon Green at $1 each for a total consideration of $73,001, while the remaining 73,000 shares will be held by Kinnarii Power Assets.

Boustead said that the $75 million total implementation cost of the project will be financed by a mixture of equity and long-term bank loans.

The Board of Directors of Boustead Singapore Limited (“Boustead” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that the Company’s wholly owned subsidiary, Boustead Knowledge Pte Ltd (“Boustead Knowledge”) has on 15 March 2013 entered into a joint venture (the “Joint Venture”) with Kinnarii Power Assets Pte Ltd (“Kinnarii”), a Singapore-based regional-focused renewable project developer, to develop utility-scale solar photo voltaic projects in Japan. To this end, Boustead Knowledge has entered into a shareholders agreement dated 15 March 2013 (the “Shareholders Agreement”) with Kinnarii and Mr Choi Wai Keong, a shareholder of Kinnarii and covenantor to the obligations of Kinnarii under the Joint Venture.

2. The Joint Venture

Pursuant to the Shareholders Agreement, Boustead Knowledge will subscribe for 73,001 new shares of S$1 each in Kinnon Green Pte Ltd (“Kinnon Green”), amounting to 50% of the of the total issued share capital in Kinnon Green plus one share. The total subscription amount of S$73,001 will be financed by the conversion of S$73,001 out of a loan of S$147,001 already extended to Kinnon Green by the Company as part of a collaboration agreement with Kinnon Green. Kinnarii will hold the remaining 73,000 shares of S$1 each in Kinnon Green.

Kinnon Green owns the rights to a 20MW (10x2MW) solar photo voltaic power generation portfolio in Kyushu, Japan (the “Portfolio”). Half of the Portfolio (5x2MW or 10MW in total) has been given the final interconnection agreement from Kyushu Electric, the regional power off-taker and grid operator, with the other half expected by end March 2013. The development of the Portfolio will take place in stages – the total implementation cost is estimated at around S$75 million and will be financed by a mixture of equity and long term bank loans.

3. Rationale for the Joint Venture

The Directors are of the view that the Joint Venture presents an excellent opportunity for Boustead Knowledge to expand its expertise in renewal energy projects and will mark its first foray into utility-scale solar photo voltaic projects in Japan.



R. RAMABHADRAN PILLAI reports from India 18 March 2013

Budget proposes solar, wind projects to meet energy needs

The host of renewable energy projects announced in the State Budget suggest that Kerala has finally decided tap the resource to meet its energy demands.

Finance Minister K.M. Mani on Friday announced that a wind farm with a capacity to generate 200 MW would be set up with the help of National Thermal Power Corporation. Another wind farm with 22 MW capacity would come up at Kanjikkode.

The new proposals come at a time when neighbouring Tamil Nadu has virtually exhausted its wind energy potential.

According to experts, wind speeds in several parts of the State are comparable to that in Tamil Nadu.

Lack of favourable policies had limited the State’s options to tap the wind energy potential. Wind energy projects in the State were also hit by various other factors. The wind turbines set up at Attappadi had run into trouble due to the controversy over acquisition of adivasi land.

Kerala has an unused wind energy potential of at least 2,000 MW, according to a study conducted by a private agency in the wind energy sector. About 1,500 megawatt wind power can be generated at Walayar and nearby areas, the study said.

However, the State’s wind energy potential was grossly underestimated by an assessment conducted several years ago by Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT). The study placed the potential at a mere 600 MW. Ramakkalmedu in Idukki district was considered one of the potential sites and a few wind turbines were installed there.

One of the initiatives announced by the Finance Minister was the setting up of solar energy panels at reservoirs. The panels could be fixed on floating rafts to tap solar energy. R.V.G. Menon, an expert on solar energy, said the model has been functioning well in several countries. Mr. Menon said the proposal was a good option considering the lack of large tracts of land in Kerala. The problem could be overcome by establishing solar panel rafts in reservoirs in the State, he said.

“Idukki reservoir has an area of 60 sq. km. If at least 10 per cent of the area can be utilised for the project, then 600 MW can be generated,” he said. The project was proposed about five years ago, but no one seemed to realise the need then, he said.

However, M. George, an entrepreneur in the solar energy sector, criticised the proposal to set up solar panels on reservoirs and said the government could instead look at the prospect of setting up rooftop solar panels at government offices.


Biodegradable “plastic” bags made from the starch of the Cassava Plant

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

Indonesian masterbatch supplier PT Inter Aneka Lestari Kimia knows that plastic products have become an integral part of our lives and to meet the growing technology, suitable materials are required. It is for this reason that the company has entered into the bio-resin market, having innovated a biodegradable resin using cassava plant starch. They exhibited at the Eco Products International Fair in Singapore. Read More


Catering to the Needs of the Industry

9 March 2011:

Indonesian masterbatch supplier PT Inter Aneka Lestari Kimia knows that plastic products have become an integral part of our lives and to meet the growing technology, suitable materials are required. It is for this reason that the company has entered into the bio-resin market, having innovated a biodegradable resin.

Although we are a local company, we are supported by international networks. We have gained international acknowledgement and maintain it through continuous improvements of our products.

What is the latest product introduced and why is this unique?

Herman Moeliana, President of EnviPlast answers:

Our latest product is a fully biodegradable resin and the product is registered under the trade name ENVIPLAST. It is produced mainly from tapioca starch, a derivative of vegetable oil and other ingredients derived from natural abundant resources. It is classified as a fully biodegradable resin that leaves no hazardous residue and is highly cost effective compared to resins under the existing similar product classification, like PLA.

Question: Explain briefly the benefits of ENVIPLAST.

Herman: ENVIPLAST dissolves instantly in hot water, softens in cold water and leaves only a small amount of ash when burnt. Based on experiments we have conducted, when a plastic bag made of ENVIPLAST is buried in soil, it will almost disappear in 3-6 months, depending on soil conditions, like the water content, amount of organisms and microorganisms present in the soil.

We have also discovered that an ENVIPLAST plastic bag can be eaten by insects and other small animals, such as snails. We are confident that our new product will be a reasonable alternative for applications like shopping bags where mainly PE is used.

Though ENVIPLAST is not yet certified according to EN13432, preliminary pilot testing in our own laboratory shows that ENVIPLAST is fully biodegradable after 6 months and does not harm the environment. ENVIPLAST, being in the same product catagory as PLA, is more economical and cheaper than PLA.

ENVIPLAST an environmentally friendly plastic alternative

The conventional plastic (polyethylene / polypropylene) used for shopping bags is the single largest contributor of plastic waste, polluting the environment. It is made from refined petroleum, a diminishing and non renewable natural resource, which many experts predict will be exhausted by 2100. Moreover, it takes hundreds of years to degrade, some taking more than a thousand years, resulting in catastrophic environmental damages such as clogging waterways that causes flooding, polluting rivers, seas, and endangering (an entire chain of the eco system which relies on these environments for survival)the livelihood of the water biota that accidentally ate consume the plastic bag.

ENVIPLAST as an alternative plastic is made from renewable and sustainable natural resources. The raw materials are starch from cassava, corn, etc and derivatives of vegetable oils like palm oil.

ENVIPLAST is a bio-degradable polymer, which can decompose in nature with the help of microorganism and water. The result is carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O) and biomass. It is also compostable, increasing the soil’s water retention.

In addition to microorganism, ENVIPLAST can also be consumed by insects, snails, and other small land and water animals, without any harmful or toxic side effects. In contrast to conventional plastics, ENVIPLAST is very environmentally friendly.