Archive for the ‘Express 153’ Category

How Sustainable is Seven Billion?

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153

How Sustainable is Seven Billion?

By the time you read this, the
world’s population could well have reached the 7 billion mark. See the official
UN site for the latest figure: Almost all
agree that October 2011 is the month when this happens. In a mere 12 years, the
world has added a billion people. There is a strong correlation between population
and climate change, sustainability, the food crisis and even obesity! The world
produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17% more
calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70% population
increase.  The problem is distribution
and inequality. There are more overweight and/or obese people in the world than
there are those who are hungry! Michael Molitor believes a green revolution is
the answer to a struggling economy at home and abroad. Also highlighted this
issue is the US Energy report – a sad state of affairs – along with the continuing
problems for island states and sea level rise. And anther climate change policy
impasse? News of the Australian Green Infrastructure Council conference (coming
up) with the theme “Out Brave New World” and the Sustainable Cities event in
Singapore (just past). World Health Organisation releases is air quality report
and Michael Richardson draws attention to fire danger. What else? Greenpost and
GreenBizCheck on the move; Fujitsu and the Global Sustainability Index; The
Economist dispassionately surveys Arctic Ice melting & Triple Pundit
connects climate change and human conflict; car sharing and electric cars in
Canada and the US; Energy efficiency pays off for many and hydrogen becomes a
viable clean fuel; Nike invests in clean tech start-ups and Coca Cola puts its
money where its mouth is. We’ll drink to that! – Ken Hickson

Profile: Dr Michael Molitor

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153

Profile: Dr Michael Molitor

“Simply put, addressing climate
change, sustainable food and energy production, and delivering more clean water
are the only economic opportunities large enough to expand global economic
output six-fold in the next 40 years.
Many people now refer to this, the biggest economic opportunity in
history, as the clean industrial revolution.” Michael Molitor writing in
Climate Spectator. Read More

Michael Molitor in Climate
Spectator (3 October 2011):

Australia is now struggling with
legislation that would introduce a carbon price in its economy through a new
tax.  The opposition leader is claiming
that the tax is a waste of time and will only create costs for Australians
without any benefits—environmental or otherwise.  Most of the key emerging macroeconomic data
is now pointing in completely the opposite direction.  In the absence of a carbon price created by
Federal legislation in Australia, it is unlikely that the Australian economy
will be able to generate sufficient new growth to meet its economic aspirations
between now and 2030.

In May of this year the OECD
celebrated its 50th anniversary and it chose the topic of green growth as the
highlight of the celebrations.  The OECD
report on green growth released at that time made it clear that, in order to
deal with the rapid expected increase in middle class consumers that will occur
between now and 2050, global GDP will need to rise from around US$55 trillion
today to US$300 trillion by 2050.  This
nearly six-fold growth requirement over the next 40 years is in dramatic
contrast  with the three-fold increase
that occurred over the last 40 years since 1970 (from US$18 trillion to US$54

Equally important, the OECD
report advances the view that the daunting challenge of doubling the global
economic growth rate over the next 40 years is going be almost impossible
without adequately dealing with a range of global environmental and resource constraints—including,
most importantly, climate change.  These
challenges act as effective road blocks keeping us from reaching a global
economy of US$300 trillion.  In response,
we will need to both address these environmental challenges while simultaneously
increasing resource productivity at least ten fold.  These are herculean objectives involving
enormous capital and massive transformative and disruptive technologies.

Fortunately, there is now
considerable discussion around the world about how we will mobilize enough
capital to deal with these global environmental and resource constraints.  At the UN climate meeting in Cancun last year
governments decided to create a large green climate fund with the capital being
used to accelerate the de-carbonization of the developing world.  The G20 process led by France this year is
also looking at climate finance. There are also efforts to use well-established
capital market instruments to try and direct more money towards green
initiatives—these include the creation of climate bonds and other green bonds
(even “reef bonds” to protect the Great Barrier Reef are under discussion).

Climate change and all other
global resource and environmental problems are, in the end, capital markets
activation challenges.  The dysfunctional
global economy is driving all of these problems because the current rules give
you credit for destroying ecosystems and fail to punish you when, for example,
you emit large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  Capital markets, as a result, direct enormous
sums of money towards activities that undermine the planet’s climate system,
devour natural resources faster than they can be replenished, and produce goods
and services at exceedingly poor rates of productivity.  Simply put, the global economy directs more
capital to wasteful and harmful activities than it does to activities that will
ultimately allow 9-10 billion people to live well in 2050.

There are two approaches to
correcting the dysfunctional global economy so that capital changes direction
and begins to focus on improving global economic and environmental
sustainability.  The first is to try and
create a global regime that forces the market to incorporate the costs of the
unsustainable economic activities—that is, try to make the system
functional.  We tried this with 20 years
of UN negotiations on climate change between 1991 and 2011.  The failure in Copenhagen in 2009 to reach a
global agreement that would have put a global price on carbon emissions makes
it clear that this approach has little hope of succeeding—at least on a
timescale meaningful to the problem of global climate change.

The other approach is to
recognize that we have little hope of fundamentally correcting a dysfunctional
global economy and to use the dysfunctional operating rules to achieve the
results we require.  Under this approach
the focus is on creating a better value proposition for green investments—that
is, lower risks and, more importantly, better returns but without the policy
interventions that would internalize the externalities.

What the OECD did not mention in
its green growth report is that  not only
will it be impossible to get to US$300 trillion by 2050 if we fail to address
key environmental and resource constraints but, more importantly, the only
growth platforms large enough to get us to US$300 trillion are these very same
challenges.  Simply put, addressing
climate change, sustainable food and energy production, and delivering more
clean water are the only economic opportunities large enough to expand global
economic output six-fold in the next 40 years.
Many people now refer to this, the biggest economic opportunity in
history, as the clean industrial revolution.

Australia, one of the very best
performing countries in the OECD, will struggle to achieve sufficient economic
growth out to 2030.  At the moment, the
key Australian growth activities include the export of coking and thermal coal,
iron ore and, in the near future, large expected exports of LNG. These growth
platforms are outstanding by current OECD measures yet they are insufficient to
get Australia to 2030.  How then, do you
begin to invest in new economic growth platforms today that will help get
Australia to a prosperous 2030 and beyond?

Energy Minister Martin Ferguson
recently made public the very large capital requirements to expand the
stationary energy sector in Australia to meet growing demand for electricity
out to 2030.  He suggested that the scale
of investment was more than AUD$200 billion between now and 2030 and enormous
investments would be required to both add new generating capacity as well as to
expand the existing transmission and distribution networks.  In comparison to the large costs of the
National Broadband Network, the energy system funding costs become the largest
infrastructure investments in Australian history.

Countries wishing to stimulate
growth and jobs through the clean industrial revolution will need to make
transformative changes in the ways they produce and use electricity.  Although there are numerous policy approaches
that can achieve this outcome, most economists now agree that the introduction
of a robust carbon price is the most efficient means of doing so.  Continuing to invest in inefficient centralized
energy networks that rely on fossil fuels, and mostly coal, will make it
impossible to access the enormous growth platform provided by the clean
industrial revolution.  In other words,
Australia cannot afford not to have a carbon price in place—it is the basis of
one of the very few green growth platforms that will allow Australia to meet
its future economic aspirations.

The future of economic growth is
in greatly improved resource efficiency and environmental management.
Distributed energy, smart grids, battery storage and the electrification of
urban transport are some of the key job and wealth creating opportunities and
they are already here in terms of proven technologies.  A carbon price forces Australia to start on
the road of improving resource efficiency immediately.  Although it is attractive to try and rely on
the old growth models that rely heavily on inefficient energy technologies and
fossil fuels, countries that continue to do so will be left behind.  Australia is one of the very few countries
that can harness this pathway to growth and the AUD$23 carbon price is a big
step in the right direction.


Dr. Michael Molitor is the
Principal Advisor, Round Table on Sustainable Development at the OECD in

He is also the founder of
CarbonShift Pty Ltd, an Australian company with a focus on helping clients
develop, implement and communicate robust strategies to respond to the
challenge of a climate system modified by human activity. CarbonShift, based in
Sydney, works with many leading companies and organisations to deliver carbon
management outcomes that both protect and enhance shareholder value and
stakeholder relationships.

Dr. Molitor served as Senior
Advisor on Climate Change at McKinsey & Company and, during 2000-2003, was
the global leader of Climate Change Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers based in
London. In these roles his primary activities were in assessing the risks and
opportunities presented by climate change to corporate performance, with
particular emphasis on the cost of carbon emissions abatement.

Before entering the business
world, Michael was a leading Earth Systems academic for 10 years. Dr. Molitor
was a member of the faculty at the University of California, San Diego and the
Climate Research Division at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In this
capacity he served as an external advisor to BP on the development of the
company’s climate change strategy and attended all of the United Nations
negotiations on climate change.

Dr. Molitor earned his PhD from
Cambridge University, England and spent 3 years at Harvard University on a Ford
Foundation Post-doctoral fellowship.
After receiving his B.A. from the University of Michigan, he went on to
complete a joint M.Sc. between the London School of Economics and Political
Science and Imperial College (University of London).

Dr. Molitor has also held
academic appointments at Stanford University, the University of California,
Berkeley and Columbia University. He served as Science Advisor on the film,
‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and has appeared on numerous television and radio
programs in the US, UK, Germany, Canada and Australia.


78% of Global Energy from Fossil Fuels in 2035

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153

78% of Global Energy from Fossil Fuels in 2035

A sad state of affairs. The
International Energy Outlook produced by the US Energy Information
Administration (EIA), makes grim reading. In spite of all the efforts all over
the world to produce clean and renewable energy, the report forecasts that
fossil fuels will continue to supply much of the energy used worldwide and
still account for 78% of world energy use in 2035.

ADMINISTRATION, WASHINGTON DC 20585 (19 September 2011):

EIA projects world energy use to
increase 53 percent by 2035; China and India account for half of the total

International Energy Outlook 2011
(IEO2011) released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) presents
updated projections for world energy markets through 2035. The IEO2011
Reference case projection does not incorporate prospective legislation or
policies that might affect energy markets.

Worldwide energy consumption
grows by 53 percent between 2008 and 2035 in the Reference case, with much of
the increase driven by strong economic growth in the developing nations
especially China and India. “China and India account for half of the
projected increase in world energy use over the next 25 years. China alone,
which only recently became the world’s top energy consumer, is projected to use
68 percent more energy than the United States by 2035.” said Acting EIA
Administrator Howard Gruenspecht.

Some key findings:

China and India lead the growth
in world demand for energy in the future. The economies of China and India were
among those least affected by the worldwide recession. They continue to lead
world economic growth and energy demand growth in the Reference case. In 2008,
China and India combined accounted for 21 percent of total world energy
consumption. With strong economic growth in both countries over the projection
period, their combined energy use more than doubles by 2035, when they account
for 31 percent of world energy use in the IEO2011 Reference case (Figure 1). In
2035, China’s energy demand is 68 percent higher than U.S. energy demand.

Renewable energy is projected to
be the fastest growing source of primary energy over the next 25 years, but
fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy. Renewable energy consumption
increases by 2.8 percent per year and the renewable share of total energy use
increases from 10 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2035 in the Reference case.
Fossil fuels, however, continue to supply much of the energy used worldwide
throughout the projection, and still account for 78 percent of world energy use
in 2035. While the Reference case projections reflect current laws and policies
as of the start of 2011, past experience suggests that renewable energy
deployment is often significantly affected by policy changes.

Natural gas has the fastest
growth rate among the fossil fuels over the 2008 to 2035 projection period.
World natural gas consumption increases 1.6 percent per year, from 111 trillion
cubic feet in 2008 to 169 trillion cubic feet in 2035. Unconventional natural
gas (tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane) supplies increase substantially
in the IEO2011 Reference case—especially from the United States, but also from
Canada and China.

World oil prices remain high in
the IEO2011 Reference case, but oil consumption continues to grow; both
conventional and unconventional liquid supplies are used to meet rising demand.
In the IEO2011 Reference case the price of light sweet crude oil (in real 2009
dollars) remains high, reaching $125 per barrel in 2035. Total world petroleum
and other liquids fuel use increases by 26.9 million barrels per day between
2008 and 2035, but the growth in conventional crude oil production is less than
half this amount at 11.5 million barrels per day, while production of natural
gas plant liquids increase by 5.1 million barrels per day, World production of
unconventional resources (including biofuels, oil sands, extra-heavy oil,
coal-to-liquids, and gas-to-liquids), which totaled 3.9 million barrels per day
in 2008, increases to 13.1 million barrels per day in 2035 (Figure 2).

Other report highlights include:

•From 2008 to 2035, total world
energy consumption rises by an average annual 1.6 percent in the IEO2011
Reference case. Strong economic growth among the non-OECD (Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development) nations drives the increase. Non-OECD
energy use increases by 2.3 percent per year; in the OECD countries energy use
grows by only 0.6 percent per year.

•Petroleum and other liquid fuels
remain the largest energy source worldwide through 2035, though projected
higher oil prices erode their share of total energy use from 34 percent in 2008
to 29 percent in 2035.

•Projected petroleum consumption
and prices are very sensitive to both supply and demand conditions. Higher
economic growth in developing countries coupled with reduced supply from key
exporting countries result in a High Oil Price case in which real oil prices
exceed $169 per barrel by 2020 and approach $200 per barrel by 2035.
Conversely, lower economic growth in developing countries coupled with
increased supplies from key exporting countries result in a Low Oil Price case
in which real oil prices fall to about $55 per barrel in 2015 and then
gradually decline to $50 per barrel after 2030 where they remain through 2035.

•World coal consumption increases
from 139 quadrillion Btu in 2008 to 209 quadrillion Btu in 2035, at an average
annual rate of 1.5 percent in the IEO2011 Reference case. In the absence of
policies or legislation that would limit the growth of coal use, China and, to
a lesser extent, India and the other nations of non-OECD Asia consume coal in
place of more expensive fuels. China alone accounts for 76 percent of the
projected net increase in world coal use, and India and the rest of non-OECD
Asia account for another 19 percent of the increase.

•Electricity is the world’s
fastest-growing form of end-use energy consumption in the Reference case, as it
has been for the past several decades. Net electricity generation worldwide
rises by 2.3 percent per year on average from 2008 to 2035. Renewables are the
fastest growing source of new electricity generation, increasing by 3.0 percent
and outpacing the average annual increases for natural gas (2.6 percent),
nuclear power (2.4 percent), and coal (1.9 percent).

•The transportation sector
accounted for 27 percent of total world delivered energy consumption in 2008,
and transportation energy use increases by 1.4 percent per year from 2008 to
2035. The transportation share of world total liquids consumption increases from
54 percent in 2008 to 60 percent in 2035 in the IEO2011 Reference case,
accounting for 82 percent of the total increase in world liquids consumption

•In the IEO2011 Reference case,
energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from 30.2 billion metric tons in
2008 to 43.2 billion metric tons in 2035—an increase of 43 percent. Much of the
increase in carbon dioxide emissions is projected to occur among the developing
nations of the world, especially in Asia.

International Energy Outlook 2011
is available at:


Island Nations Adrift & New Climate Deal Unlikely

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153

Island Nations Adrift & New Climate Deal Unlikely

As the island nations tell the UN
General Assembly of their impending climate disaster, new fears arise that failure
to agree on a new climate deal could lead to nations committing only to
voluntary steps that are unlikely to put the brakes on climate change, risking
more extreme droughts, floods, storms and crop failures.

By David Fogarty for Reuters (2
October 2011):

A new plan to curb global warming risks
becoming a battleground between rich and poor nations and could struggle to get
off the ground as negotiators battle over the fate of the ailing Kyoto climate

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol covers
only emissions from rich nations that produce less than a third of mankind’s
carbon pollution and its first phase is due to expire end-2012. Poorer nations
want it extended, while many rich countries say a broader pact is needed to
include all big polluters.

Australia and Norway have
proposed negotiations on a new agreement, but say it is unrealistic to expect
that to be ready by 2013. They have set a target date two years later, in 2015.

“This is the only way ahead.
There is no other way than failure,” said a senior climate negotiator from
a developed country on the Australia-Norway proposal, who declined to be named
because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Developing nations insist Kyoto
be extended to commit rich countries to tougher carbon cuts and fiercely resist
any attempts to side-line the world’s main climate pact, meaning the
Australia-Norway plan faces a tough time .

Failure to agree on a new climate
deal could lead to nations committing only to voluntary steps that are unlikely
to put the brakes on climate change, risking more extreme droughts, floods,
storms and crop failures. It would also weaken efforts to put in place tough
policies to promote cleaner fuels and green energy.

The proposal calls on major
economies to quickly strengthen steps to curb emissions, agree on a way to
standardise actions and a system to compare and verify what everyone else is

Marathon U.N.-led climate talks
failed to meet a 2009 deadline to agree a new pact to start in 2013 and a major
conference in Durban, South Africa, in two months is under pressure to launch a
process to negotiate a new treaty.


As negotiators haggle, data show
the world is heating up, as emissions, particularly from big developing
nations, keep growing from burning more coal, oil and gas.

Scientists say floods similar to
those that left millions homeless in Pakistan last year and ravaged parts of
Australia, could become more common, along with more intense Atlantic
hurricanes and wildfires.

The United States has already
tied its yearly record for billion-dollar weather disasters and the cumulative
tab from floods, tornadoes and heat waves this year has hit $35 billion, the
National Weather Service said in mid-August.

That doesn’t include billions in
losses and disaster relief from Hurricane Irene , which struck in late August.

All this throws the spotlight on
emissions curbs by the world’s major economies and the fact that these are not
enough. When Kyoto was agreed, emissions from poorer nations were much smaller.
Now they dwarf those of rich countries.

At the least, the talks need to
restore faith that countries can do more to fight global warming.

“We need to push away from
this annual cycle of what are we going to achieve into a more realistic
timeline of when can we achieve a new agreement. My sense is that none of the
negotiators disagree with that. It’s obvious,” said the senior delegate.

The Australia-Norway proposal
will be a focus of U.N.-led climate talks in Panama this week, the last round
before the conference in Durban.


The EU said it broadly supported
the submission.

“It tries to take forward
the international climate negotiations into the next years, seeing how we can
build a broader climate regime,” Artur Runge-Metzger, the EU’s chief climate
negotiator, told Reuters. “We think that this seems to be a workable

He said it was crucial the Durban
meeting agrees on building a new climate framework for all countries, referring
particularly to the United States and major developing economies.

China produces about a quarter of
mankind’s greenhouse gas pollution and is the top global emitter. While the
government is taking steps such as promoting energy efficiency and vehicle fuel
standards, these are voluntary.

The proposal will prove divisive
for poorer countries.

None more so than nations most
vulnerable to climate change, such as low-lying islands that face ever rising
sea levels, flooding and shrinking fresh water supplies. They want faster
action by big polluters and feel Kyoto is the way to go.

“It basically delays real
action to address climate change and vulnerable countries aren’t going to like
it,” said Ian Fry, lead climate negotiator for the Pacific island nation
of Tuvalu, told Reuters, adding: “It’s a gift to the United States.”

India, the world’s third largest
carbon polluter, has also dug in its heels over the proposal.

“Such a plan takes the focus
away from Kyoto and redraws negotiating paradigms. Why should the developing
countries agree?” said an Indian official with knowledge of the global
negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The United States, the world’s
second-biggest polluter, never ratified Kyoto, saying the pact is flawed
because it doesn’t commit big developing economies to meet legally binding emissions

The proposal could however
benefit investors in cleaner power generation, carbon-offset projects and
greener buildings.

“Anything which moves the
world towards more unified action increases the confidence level of
investors,” said Geoff Rousel, global head of commodities, carbon and
energy for Westpac Institutional Bank in Sydney.

“Therefore, if this plan was
to be accepted, you’d be more likely to see more confidence in capital
expenditure in energy efficiency and emissions abatement,” he said.

The United States remains

“A legal agreement has to
apply with equal legal force to at least the major developing countries so that
means China, India, Brazil and so forth,” said chief U.S. climate envoy
Todd Stern in recent remarks to the media. And that meant no “escape
hatches” or conditions on meeting those commitments, he said.


Reported by Associated Press (24 September

The Palestinians want the United
Nations to recognize a state. And the island nation of Tuvalu wants the United
Nations to act — now — to keep their state above water.

The high drama surrounding the
historic Palestinian bid for statehood has to a degree overshadowed other
issues facing the U.N. General Assembly, which Saturday heard from the leaders
of island nations where the impact of climate change is already having a
profound effect.

They argue that the U.N. is
moving too slowly despite many initiatives designed to reduce carbon emissions
worldwide. U.N. officials have recognized climate change as the greatest
environmental threat to the planet but efforts to slow its inexorable progress
have foundered.

The message Saturday from island
leaders was that there is little time left for concerted action that could
prevent their small, vulnerable countries from facing severe problems, or
worse, as sea levels rise and flooding and storm activity increases.

Tuvalu Prime Minister Willy
Telavi said his country’s very existence is at risk as he urged U.N. members to
move more quickly to limit the damage of climate change, and to come up with
real, practical plans to help the most vulnerable countries.

“For a small island
developing state like Tuvalu, climate change is no doubt a security issue which
threatens our survival,” he said, adding that time was quickly running out
for his tiny island nation, located roughly halfway between Australia and

The low-lying country, built on
nine coral atolls, is one of the most endangered Pacific Islands, but others are
also at risk as sea levels rise. It is not clear if Tuvalu, with its porous
coral base, can be saved without a tremendous financial commitment from the
international community, which may be reluctant to invest heavily in a country
with only about 12,000 residents.

The country’s leaders have faced
this reality — more than a decade ago, they asked Australia and New Zealand to
be willing to take in the Tuvalu’s residents if evacuation ultimately becomes

The problem goes well beyond the
vast Pacific region. Leaders from the Indian Ocean and Carribean also warned
Saturday of severe problems facing their regions.

Navinchandra Ramgoolam, prime
minister of the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius — larger and more
developed than Tuvalu — warned Saturday that the threat has to be addressed
more quickly if horrendous consequences are to be avoided. He said the
existence of some small island nations is at stake.

“Climate change is
real,” he said. “Air temperatures have risen. The sea level is rising
at the rate of 1.2 millimeters per year in the southwest Indian Ocean. Our
annual rainfall has decreased by 8 percent in comparison to the 1960s. Extreme
weather conditions like flooding are becoming more frequent. Without
international cooperation and concerted effort the impact of climate change
will be devastating for all our nations.”

Freundel Stuart, prime minister
of Barbados in the Caribbean, told the General Assembly that small island
nations in the Caribbean and Pacific may be destroyed if current trends are not

“The planet has now begun to
protest,” he said.

The warnings Saturday went beyond
island leaders. Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, said her country
is making contingency plans because a one meter rise in sea levels because of
global warming would inundate one-fifth of the country and displace more than
30 million people.

“This would be the largest
humanitarian crisis in history,” she said.


Sustainable Infrastructure Plus Solar Projects

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153

Sustainable Infrastructure Plus Solar Projects

The Australian Green
Infrastructure Council’s (AGIC) national conference 2011 on 7 October in
Melbourne, with the theme “Our Brave New World”, will showcase the Australian
National Sustainability Rating scheme created to drive sustainable outcomes,
while First Solar, the market leader in thin-film solar panels, says many more
such projects will be needed to make Australia a major player in the global
solar energy industry.

Giles Parkinson in Climate
Sectator (30 September 2011):

First Solar, the world’s largest solar
company, says Australia may only have a brief window of opportunity if it wants
to position itself as a major player in the global solar energy industry.

The US company is about to start
construction on Australia’s first utility-scale solar PV project near Geraldton
in Western Australia, a 10MW facility being built with GE and Verve Energy. But
Jack Curtis, the head of Australian and Asia Pacific operations for First
Solar, the market leader in thin-film solar panels, says many more such
projects will be needed to help bring down operating, engineering and financing

The key to this, he says, will be
institutions such as proposed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and a stable
policy environment that will allow projects to be deployed, rather than just
planned. If Australia does not get this right in the next couple of years, then
it will likely lose out.

“I would say that this is the
last chance for Australian solar,” Curtis said in an interview with Climate
Spectator. “The industry has been through this cycle a couple of time in the
last few decades. It’s at the point where it has rebuilt that credibility. We
have spent 3-4 years in this country educating utilities on benefit of solar–
but if turns out that they get on board, and the rug gets pulled – I don’t
think they will have appetite to go through that again.”

Curtis’ comments are a common
refrain in the solar industry. Although a handful of large scale solar projects
are going ahead thanks to government funding, including First Solar’s Greeenough
Project and the two Solar Flagships projects, many more could, and should, be
developed if the right incentives are there. They hope that the CEFC will
provide the solutions, and the certainty. (First Solar made two short-listed
applications for the flagships program, in partnership with AGL Energy ad

Curtis says that while the core
technology costs are falling rapidly, the key to making solar cost competitive
will lie in the cost of engineering, construction, financing and integration. And
these are all local issues. “Australia can’t wait 5 years for it to happen in
Germany, France or the US and expect to transplant that five years from now,”
he says.

“If Australia doesn’t start now
it will be 5 years behind the curve 5 years from now, and at a huge
disadvantage trying to catch up with those markets that have gotten to the
point where subsides not required.”

The irony is that Australia
should be the first market to get there, considering its solar resources,
infrastructure and technical know-how. Indeed, Curtis says that WA could be the
first market in the world to reach wholesale grid parity – that is, it’s
ability to compete with fossil fuels without the need for subsidies. He says it
could happen within a few years, but again, the key will be sufficient
deployment where the economies of scale and reduction in financing and other

The reason that WA could get to
parity first are its higher wholesale energy costs – thanks to its reliance on
gas and its exposure to the export market – excellent solar resource (about the
best in the world), and the appetite of off-takers prepared to pay a premium of
around 2-3c/kWh for solar over wind given the transmission costs and the grid
impacts of the latter.

Curtis estimates the cost of thin
film PV is currently around 16c-18c/kWh in the US, where costs have been
reduced somewhat because of deployment. This compares to Australia – where no
plants of scale have yet been constructed – of around 20c-22c/kWh in the
eastern states and 18c-20c/kWh in WA (thanks to its better sun).

“Our view is that 10 -12 c/kWh by
2015 is an aggressive but realistic goal for the Australian solar industry and
where we need to be in order to drive a greater adoption beyond government
subsidized programs,” he says. “However, sustainable and resilient
government programs are critical to bridge that gap over the next 5 years.

“While this range is not directly
on par from a cost to produce perspective with gas (or coal obviously), we
believe that with external values such as RECs, carbon, peak coincidence etc.
increasingly priced in and as the market continues to recognize the true value
of solar over and above the true cost, that range will enable a dramatic shift
for the industry.”

Curtis says the manufacturing
cost for First Solar modules is down to around $0.75/watt, which he says are
the lowest in the industry, and the company is targeting a range of
$0.52-0.63/W by 2014. The total system price, which includes modules,
inverters, steel, constrution, land acquisitions, permitting and grid
inegration, and development, is currently in the range of $2.50-$3.00/w,
depending on the region and market specific conditions, but needs to come down
to  $1.75-2.00/W to reach the 10-12 c/kWh

“The greatest swinger,” Curtis
says, “is the ability to access cheaper equity and debt.” This will
largely depend on proving the viability of the technology, and de-risking it
from a financing point of view. He says reducing the cost of funding by 20 per
cent would have a greater overall impact than reducing the capex costs by a
similar amount. He says the current thinking in the US is that solar PV could
reasonably provide 20 per cent of capacity into a regional grid, although these
estimates could evolve.

First Solar is hoping that its
10MW plant in Greenough, which will be up and running by the middle of 2012,
will have a similarly galvanizing impact than the company’s first 10MW plant in
the US, which was located not far from Las Vegas. He says Australia is
following the cycle of the US market – only around three years behind – but it
should be able to learn from that country’s mistakes, particularly about
project selection – an in issue that has come to the fore in recent weeks
following the failure of Solyndra.

Curtis also says remote power – where
solar can compete with diesel – is also a major opportunity and the company
hopes to use Australia as a test bed for the sort of products it could take to
Asia and Africa. The key to those opportunities, however, lie in the ability to
intergrate. “The relative need for remote solar in Australia won’t be as much
as in India and china, but it can provide a huge platform of opportunity.”


AGIC statement:

The Australian Green
Infrastructure Council’s (AGIC) national conference 2011 – 7 October in

Our Brave New World – where
metrics drive sustainability – will showcase the Australian National
Sustainability Rating scheme created to drive sustainable outcomes, provide
independent verification of performance and contribute to risk reduction in
infrastructure delivery and operation.

The results of the 2011 rating
tool pilot trials will be reviewed at the conference, together with in-depth
presentations on the rating tool themes and categories by the actual authors. The
tool will be launched to the industry in early 2012.

This is the premier event of the
year for anyone concerned with sustainability in infrastructure design,
construction and operation and wants to understand the metrics of the tool
(qualitative and quantitative) that will drive innovation, reduce risk and
independently verify results.

Event facts

The AGIC 2011 event will attract
representatives across different infrastructure sectors from designers,
constructors and operators to government representatives, lawyer and executives
responsible for making decisions on infrastructure projects.

The Conference will stimulate
discussion that impacts significantly on future infrastructure sustainability.

A line-up of top level speakers
from government, business and industry will present an in-depth analysis of
sustainability initiatives and discuss the AGIC Sustainability Rating tool. You
will hear first hand from the various subject matter experts who actually
developed the rating tool criteria.

The event provides excellent
networking opportunities with key players and valuable insights into the rating
tool categories and metrics.

Key people:

Professor David Hood is a Chartered Professional Engineer,
registered on NPER to practice in civil and environmental engineering. David
has over thirty five years experience in business, engineering, education,
project management, and senior executive positions in both the public and
private sectors. David is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of the Built
Environment and Engineering at Queensland University of Technology, Past
Chairman of the Australian College of Environmental Engineers, Chairman of the
Australian Green Infrastructure Council (AGIC), and is Past Deputy President of
the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC). David is also an
accredited presenter on Al Gore’s Climate Project, and lectures widely on
climate change and sustainability where his passion enthuses others to make a
difference and reduce the damage we are inflicting on the earth’s systems.
David was elected as a Fellow of the International Society of Engineering Asset
Managers in 2010. He was elected Engineers Australia’s Deputy National
President in November 2010, and will become the 2012 National President in
November 2011.

Professor Kate Auty, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability,
Victoria, was appointed in 2009. In her role Professor Auty seeks to enhance
knowledge and understanding of the social, economic and environmental aspects
of an ecological sustainable future for Victoria. The Commissioner oversees the
production of strategic audits on Environmental Management Systems and a State
of the Environment report to be completed by December 2013. In 2008, Professor
Auty was appointed a Charles Joseph LaTrobe Fellow with the Centre for
Sustainable Regional Communities at LaTrobe University. In 2008 and 2009, she
was the Chair of the Victorian Ministerial Reference Council on Climate Change
Adaptation and also a member of the Premier’s Reference Committee on Climate
Change. The Commissioner is currently an Adjunct Professor in the LaTrobe
Institute for Social and Environmental Sustainability Centre within the Office
of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability) at La Trobe University. Professor
Auty holds tertiary qualifications in environmental science, law and history
from University of Melbourne (Arts (Hons)/Law), Monash University (Masters in
Environmental Science), and La Trobe University (PhD in Law and Legal Studies).
She holds a Diploma of International Environmental Law from UNITAR. Her
extensive career encompasses agriculture and academia, as a solicitor in her
own law firm and as a barrister. Professor Auty has held appointments as the
senior regional magistrate for the nine magistrates’ courts in north east
Victoria and the nine courts in Western Australia’s goldfields and western
desert, extending as far north as Kiwikurra and as far south as Esperance.

Dr Martin Blake has extensive expertise in business management,
organisational change, corporate social responsibility and sustainability. For
seven years to October 2010, he led the Social Responsibility and
Sustainability teams at Royal Mail, the largest single employer in the UK, as
well as designing and deploying an international award-winning Carbon
Management Programme to combat climate change. During those seven years Royal
Mail won over 75 National and International awards for CSR. Prior to joining
Royal Mail Dr Blake spent more than 20 years in the Middle East working for an
American Healthcare provider and later the world’s largest oil company, Saudi
Aramco. He holds an MBA in Organisational Analysis and Strategic Management and
his Doctorate in Business (DBA) focused on Organisational Change. Dr Blake now
divides his professional life between Australia, Asia and Europe. He is an
Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Business Development at both Griffith
University and the University of Southern Queensland. He is also a
non-executive director for Ecologic (green transport and logistics) in USA;
Sabien Technology Group, Industry Re Ltd and Amida Recruiting in UK; Executive
Director of The GreenAsia Group and Executive Chairman of Carbon Zero Solutions
(Sustainability and Carbon Management Consultancy) in UK and Asia-Pacific and a
member of The Strategic Advisory Board for Global Carbon Systems, Australia. Dr
Blake is a Member of the Institute of Directors and a Fellow of the Chartered
Institute of Management and chairs and advises a multitude of strategic groups,
all focused on the development and deployment of low carbon infrastructure. Dr
Blake is also a strategic advisor to the Scottish Government’s Renewable Energy


GreenPost & GreenBizCheck Take Off for New Markets

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153

GreenPost & GreenBizCheck Take Off for New Markets

Singapore start-up, GreenPost,
the first company in Asia to help billers go paperless with an aggregating
solution for consumers, is set to aggressively expand its regional footprint
with Malaysia next on the list. Meanwhile, GreenBizCheck is one of 10
Australian start-ups taking part in ANZA Technology Network’s Gateway to the US
program, attending Silicon Valley Connect 2011 to see how business is done in
the world’s top tech hub. Adam Lyle, based in Singapore, is expanding
GreenBizCheck across Asia.

GreenPost to move into Malaysia

Business Times Malaysia (19
September 2011):

GreenPost, the first company in
Asia to offer aggregated bill presentment, is set to aggressively expand its
regional footprint.

Its co-founder, Harveen Narulla
said the company’s next step is to move into Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong,
India, Indonesia and other parts of the region. “By year-end, we see
ourselves more aggressively enter Malaysia and the rest of the region,” he
told Bernama in an interview here.

Established in 2005, and incubated
at the National University of Singapore, GreenPost is helping billers to go
paperless with its aggregating solution to help consumers move away from paper
bills towards receiving electronic bills in one easy platform.

Its aggregation technology through
intelligent extraction from biller existing infrastructure is done without
compromising billers’ access to consumers. The technology is commercially very
viable, and technically easy and risk free to implement.

Harveen said GreenPost is
currently in partnership and discussion with all big billers and already has
contracts with some of the smaller ones.

On the payment collection
services to be offered to users for seamless experience, he said:” We are in
discussion with some of the local and international banks based here.

“They (banks) want to offer
their service regionally as they have services in Singapore and Malaysia and
other countries in the region. Discussions with some of them are in an advanced

He said GreenPost allows
consumers to aggregate and see their electronic bills in one platform and
access the bills whenever they want.

The free platform allows users to
add different billers, view bills, set reminders to pay bills, and even track
spending or compare with average user spending.

Harveen pointed that billers
would have enormous benefits as they can save spending on paper bills, while
for individual users, it is in terms of the login into one portal to check all

The GreenPost platform is
currently available for consumers in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and the
United States.

In Singapore, users can receive
electronic bills from Singapore – SingTel, StarHub, M1, SP Services, NUSS,
Keppel Club, Singapore Swimming Club, and Sunpage.

In Malaysia, it includes Maxis,
Digi, Tenaga Nasional (TNB)and Astro while in Australia, it is Optus, Telstra,
3Mobile, and Citilink. In the US, it is AT&T. Greenpost will be adding U
Mobile and Celcom soon in Malaysia.

Touching on security for users,
GreenPost Head (New Business &Sustainability), Nigel Hembrow said the
company uses the same security as for the internet and banks. — Bernama

Source:, and

Ten Australian Startups to Meet
Tech Industry Leaders, Pitch for Investment at Silicon Valley

Connect 2011

ANZA Technology Network (28
September 2011):

Entrepreneurs Ready to Explore
Global Commercialisation Opportunities as

Part of ANZA Technology Network’s
Gateway to the US Program

Much has been written lately
about Australian entrepreneurs and their presence in Silicon Valley. Success
stories abound about a so-called “Aussie mafia” hauling in hundreds
of millions of dollars for their founders through investments and acquisitions
in just a few years.

This week, 10 more Aussie
startups will experience what locals simply refer to as “the Valley”.
As part of ANZA Technology Network’s Gateway to the US program, they will be
attending Silicon Valley Connect 2011 on 29-30 September, a conference designed
to immerse them into how business is done in the world’s top tech hub.

The 10 companies are: Bright
Future, CleverMe, CodeFire, Green Biz Check, Happy Inspector, HeyLets!, Hubblr,
NoQ, Summa and WeTeachMe. Read more about them:

“The Gateway companies
attending Silicon Valley Connect 2011 will meet people from some of the major
players – Facebook, Google, Oracle, Intel, Microsoft, IBM,” said Viki
Forrest, CEO of ANZA Technology Network.

“ANZA’s team of mentors will
be on hand to help turn those introductions into sustainable connections that
accelerate market entry strategy to the US.”

The 10 Australian companies, who
will join local entrepreneurs and others from Europe, Asia and South America,
will attend a round of intensive panel discussions that cover all aspects of
doing business in the US market. Featured topics are corporate partnerships,
customer channels and distribution and logistics and requirements for working
in the US.

A number of successful startup
stories will be shared, including that of Sizhao “Zao” Yang, founder
of MyMiniLife (sold to Zynga) and creator of Farmville.

Several of the companies will
pitch to investors at Silicon Valley Bank on September 30. Investment firms
scheduled to attend include Garage Technology Ventures, Siemens Venture
Capital, Southern Cross Venture Partners and ePlanet Capital.

Silicon Valley Connect 2011 will
be held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on September 29 and at
Silicon Valley Bank on September 30. The conference, organized by the Chamber
of Commerce International Consortium for Entrepreneurs (CCICE) and ANZA
Technology Network, welcomes technology entrepreneurs from around the world
seeking to explore and gain access to business opportunities in Silicon Valley.

Locals can attend the Thursday
session of the conference at the Computer History Museum for $299 (USD). The
Friday investor pitch session is sold out.

About ANZA Technnology Network

ANZA Technology Network assists
innovative Australian and New Zealand technology and biotechnology companies
with global commercialization in the US and China. Through our in-market
Gateway and Fast Track programs we work with committed companies to determine
the right foreign marketplace and what it will take for successful business
expansion. ANZA maintains a valuable global network of industry leaders across
numerous technology sectors and opens this portfolio to our clients to foster
funding, partnering and growth opportunities. Since 2002, ANZA has workedwith
hundreds of companies and made thousands of key connections.

GreenBizCheck is represented in
Asia by Adam Lyle in Singapore.

Source: and

Warming is Twice as Fast in Arctic than Elsewhere

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153

Warming is Twice as Fast in Arctic than Elsewhere

Reducing black carbon (also known
as soot) and ozone in the lower part of the atmosphere, especially in the
Arctic countries of America, Canada, Russia and Scandinavia, could cut warming
in the Arctic by two-thirds over the next three decades. The UN report
suggests, if these and other mitigation measures were adopted everywhere they
could halve the wider rate of warming by 2050.

Arctic sea ice is melting far
faster than climate models predict. Why?

The Economist (24 September

ON SEPTEMBER 9th, at the height
of its summertime shrinkage, ice covered 4.33m square km, or 1.67m square
miles, of the Arctic Ocean, according to America’s National Snow and Ice Data
Centre (NSIDC). That is not a record low—not quite. But the actual record,
4.17m square km in 2007, was the product of an unusual combination of sunny
days, cloudless skies and warm currents flowing up from mid-latitudes. This
year has seen no such opposite of a perfect storm, yet the summer sea-ice
minimum is a mere 4% bigger than that record. Add in the fact that the
thickness of the ice, which is much harder to measure, is estimated to have
fallen by half since 1979, when satellite records began, and there is probably
less ice floating on the Arctic Ocean now than at any time since a particularly
warm period 8,000 years ago, soon after the last ice age.

That Arctic sea ice is
disappearing has been known for decades. The underlying cause is believed by
all but a handful of climatologists to be global warming brought about by
greenhouse-gas emissions. Yet the rate the ice is vanishing confounds these
climatologists’ models. These predict that if the level of carbon dioxide,
methane and so on in the atmosphere continues to rise, then the Arctic Ocean
will be free of floating summer ice by the end of the century. At current rates
of shrinkage, by contrast, this looks likely to happen some time between 2020
and 2050.

The reason is that Arctic air is
warming twice as fast as the atmosphere as a whole. Some of the causes of this
are understood, but some are not. The darkness of land and water compared with
the reflectiveness of snow and ice means that when the latter melt to reveal
the former, the area exposed absorbs more heat from the sun and reflects less
of it back into space. The result is a feedback loop that accelerates local
warming. Such feedback, though, does not completely explain what is happening.
Hence the search for other things that might assist the ice’s rapid

Forcing the issue

One is physical change in the ice
itself. Formerly a solid mass that melted and refroze at its edges, it is now
thinner, more fractured, and so more liable to melt. But that is (literally and
figuratively) a marginal effect. Filling the gap between model and reality may
need something besides this.

The latest candidates are
“short-term climate forcings”. These are pollutants, particularly ozone and
soot, that do not hang around in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide does, but
have to be renewed continually if they are to have a lasting effect. If they
are so renewed, though, their impact may be as big as CO2’s.

At the moment, most eyes are on
soot (or “black carbon”, as jargon-loving researchers refer to it). In the
Arctic, soot is a double whammy. First, when released into the air as a result
of incomplete combustion (from sources as varied as badly serviced diesel
engines and forest fires), soot particles absorb sunlight, and so warm up the
atmosphere. Then, when snow or rain wash them onto an ice floe, they darken its
surface and thus cause it to melt faster.

Reducing soot (and also ozone, an
industrial pollutant that acts as a greenhouse gas) would not stop the summer
sea ice disappearing, but it might delay the process by a decade or two.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme,
reducing black carbon and ozone in the lower part of the atmosphere, especially
in the Arctic countries of America, Canada, Russia and Scandinavia, could cut
warming in the Arctic by two-thirds over the next three decades. Indeed, the
report suggests, if such measures—preventing crop burning and forest fires,
cleaning up diesel engines and wood stoves, and so on—were adopted everywhere
they could halve the wider rate of warming by 2050.

Without corresponding measures to
cut CO2 emissions, this would be but a temporary fix. Nonetheless, it is an
attractive idea because it would have other benefits (soot is bad for people’s
lungs) and would not require the wholesale rejigging of energy production which
reducing CO2 emissions implies. Not everyone agrees it would work, though.
Gunnar Myhre of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research
in Oslo, for example, notes that the amount of black carbon in the Arctic is
small and has been falling in recent decades. He does not believe it is the
missing factor in the models. Carbon dioxide, in his view, is the main culprit.
Black carbon deposited on the Arctic snow and ice, he says, will have only a
minimal effect on its reflectivity.

The rapid melting of the Arctic
sea ice, then, illuminates the difficulty of modelling the climate—but not in a
way that brings much comfort to those who hope that fears about the future
climate might prove exaggerated. When reality is changing faster than theory
suggests it should, a certain amount of nervousness is a reasonable response.

It’s an ill wind…

The direct consequences of
changes in the Arctic are mixed. They should not bring much rise in the sea
level, since floating ice obeys Archimedes’s principle and displaces its own
mass of water. A darker—and so more heat-absorbent—Arctic, though, will surely
accelerate global warming and may thus encourage melting of the land-bound
Greenland ice sheet. That certainly would raise sea levels (though not as
quickly as News Corporation’s cartographers suggest in the latest edition of
the best-selling “Times Atlas”, which claims that 15% of the Greenland sheet
has melted in the past 12 years; the true figure is more like 0.05%). Wildlife
will also suffer. Polar bears, which hunt for seals along the ice’s edge, and
walruses, which fish there, will both be hard-hit.

Watch our animation of the
receding Arctic ice-shelf and the shipping routes it could unlock

The effects on the wider climate
are tricky to assess. Some meteorologists suspect unseasonal snow storms off
the east coast of America in 2010 were partly caused by Arctic warming shifting
wind patterns. One feedback loop that does seems certain, though, is that the
melting Arctic will enable the extraction of more fossil fuel, with all that
that implies for greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Arctic is reckoned to hold
around 15% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30% of those of natural
gas. Hence a growing polar enthusiasm among energy companies—as witnessed last
month in an Arctic tie-up between Exxon Mobil, of America, and Rosneft,
Russia’s state-controlled oil giant. Recent plankton blooms suggest a warmer
Arctic will provide a boost to fisheries there, too. And the vanishing ice has
begun to allow a trickle of shipping across the Arctic’s generally frozen
north-west and north-east passages, thus linking the Atlantic and Pacific
oceans. In August a Russian supertanker, the Vladimir Tokohonov, aided by two
nuclear icebreakers, became the first such vessel to cross the north-east route
(or, as Russians refer to it, the northern sea route), hugging the Siberian

So far, despite some posturing by
Canada and Russia, there are few territorial disputes in the region and the
Arctic Council, the club of Arctic nations, has functioned reasonably well.
Whether the interests of these countries coincide with those of the wider
world, though, is moot. A warming Arctic will bring local benefits to some. The
rest of the world may pay the cost.


A Perfect Storm: Climate Wars & The Tropic of Chaos

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153


In 2004, US Pentagon defense adviser
Andrew Marshall, predicted that “abrupt climate change could bring the planet
to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and
secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies.” Christian Parenti, the
author of “Tropic of Chaos”, says that climate change is causing violence
around the world right now, particularly in the global South. The book “looks
at the intersection of the legacy of cold war militarism, free market economic
restructuring and the onset of anthropogenic climate change”

By RP Siegel in Triple Pundit (22
September 2011):

For years, the Pentagon has been
saying that climate change is perhaps the biggest threat to American security
of all. Back in 2004, a report commissioned by Pentagon defense adviser Andrew
Marshall, the man behind the restructuring of the US military under Donald
Rumsfeld, predicted that “abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the
edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure
dwindling food, water and energy supplies.” The report went on to declare that
the threat to global stability posed by climate change was indeed greater than
that of terrorism.

Ironically, while climate change
denial seems to be a communal oath among right wing politicians, folks in the
military that they so staunchly support, are busy preparing for it, both
strategically and tactically. Retired Rear Admiral Dennis McGinn  has called climate change a threat

Most of the coverage of the
subject has focused on natural forces, not military ones as a threat to our
continued existence. Should we be concerned about this? Will the Pentagon’s
prediction come true?

According to Christian Parenti,
the author of the newly released book Tropic of Chaos, it already has. Parenti
says that climate change is causing violence around the world right now,
particularly in the global South. The book “looks at the intersection of the
legacy of cold war militarism, free market economic restructuring and the onset
of anthropogenic climate change” and traces how these factors, with particular
emphasis on the latter as a kind of socio-economic last straw, create the
conditions for increased civil war, religious war, banditry and increased
violence. He suggests the best way to deal with this violence is to mitigate
the exacerbating condition.

The book opens with the death of
a Kenyan tribesman named Ekaru Loruman who is killed in a cattle raid in the
midst of a severe drought. Cattle raids are not unusual among the Turkana
people, in fact they have been going on for generations. But Parenti sees
deeper forces at work.

…perhaps Ekaru was killed by
forces yet larger, forces transcending the specifics of this regional drought,
this raid, this geography, and the Nilotic cattle cultures. To my mind, while
walking through the desert among the Turkana warriors scanning the Karasuk
hills for the Pokot war party, it seemed clear that Ekaru’s death was caused by
the most colossal set of events in human history: the catastrophic convergence
of poverty, violence, and climate change. This book is an attempt to understand
the death of Ekaru Loruman, and so many others like him, through the lens of
this catastrophic convergence.

This line of reasoning reminds me
of the correlation between the increase in severe storm activity and warmer
ocean temperatures. While it is impossible to blame any given storm on the
changing climate and the anthropogenic activity responsible for it, the trend
is clear: deadly storms are on the increase, as are floods and droughts and
other extreme weather events.

Likewise, it might be difficult
to pin the blame for the death of Ekaru Loruman specifically on climate change,
though this doesn’t stop  Parenti from
suggesting it. It was clearly a significant contributing factor, as it was in
countless other examples, which can be tallied, in a statistical sense, to
support Parenti’s assertion.

Drought, floods, food shortages,
refugees have all put enormous stress on situations that in many cases were
already stressed with the result that the breaking point has or will soon be

Parenti writes in TomDispatch,
“Get used to it.  Food, weather,
upheaval, and war.  Those are likely to
be in the headlines not only for decades to come, but tied together in all
sorts of complicated and unsettling ways.
Extreme weather and increasingly severe droughts, whether in Texas,
China, or Somalia; crops burned to a frizzle or obliterated in some other
fashion; starving people desperately on the move; incipient resource wars; and
a world in which the basics of everyday life are increasingly beyond the buying
power of tens of millions, if not billions of the poor — that’s a recipe for
our future.  Unfortunately, it’s also
increasingly the present, as grain crops fail in various global breadbaskets
and food prices soar.”

The book goes on to discuss the
militaristic response that many major powers including our own have taken, such
as  securing their borders or
counter-insurgency operations, which he argues are doomed to fail. Instead,
says Parenti, we should focus our efforts on learning to live within the limits
of the planet. Sounds like something I might have said myself a time or two.

RP Siegel is the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first
in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including
energy, food, and water.  Like airplanes,
we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we
rarely see our own.


Green IT Losing its Shine, While Energy Efficiency Opportunities Abound

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153


The sheen appears to have fallen
away from Green IT in Australia, judging by the findings of the latest Fujitsu
ICT Sustainability Benchmark. The overall index, covering seven countries,
declined from 56.4 to 54.3 in the last 12 months, while the index for Australia
fell to 52.8, putting it below the average for Canada, the UK and the US. Meanwhile,
a small army of nearly 100 students descended on 78 companies, cities and
universities in the US to hunt for efficiency projects. Participating in the
Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program, they found ample
opportunities: US$650 million worth. That’s nearly double the savings
identified in 2010.

A faulty green drive

Charis Palmer in Technology
Spectator/Climate Spectator (20 September 2011):

The sheen appears to have fallen
away from Green IT in Australia, judging by the findings of the latest Fujitsu
ICT Sustainability Benchmark.

The overall index, measured
across seven countries, declined from 56.4 to 54.3 in the last 12 months, while
the index for Australia fell to 52.8, putting it below the average for Canada,
the UK and the US.

It’s a case of out of sight, out
of mind, with less than one per cent of ICT departments surveyed in Australia
responsible for ICT’s power consumption.

More than half the respondents
had no understanding of how much power ICT consumes, with only one in seven ICT
divisions across the entire survey including the cost of ICT’s power
consumption in their departmental budgets.

Fujitsu says many organisations
appear to have reached a plateau with ICT sustainability, having already
tackled the “low hanging fruit” such as PC power management and telecommuting.
In some cases Green IT may have been viewed as a project – once the box was
ticked the organisation moved on to other things.

So what’s driving this so-called
“green fatigue”?

One culprit is likely to be cloud
computing, which continues to be hyped, pushing Green IT down the list of
priorities. Cloud computing is also being used as an example by the broader ICT
industry as an example of how it can become more sustainable.

But a recent report from
Greenpeace found if the internet was a country it would rank 5th for the amount
of electricity usage, just below Japan and above Russia.

The huge banks of servers
required to support cloud computing are consuming 2 per cent of global energy
demand, often powered with coal. Research from Gartner has also found data
centre emissions in the US are increasing faster than other carbon emissions.

Ovum analyst Rhonda Ascierto
recently argued for cloud computing to truly be ‘green’ it must make greater
use of renewables. She says some providers are researching novel ways to
accomplish this, but in the meantime, cloud service providers should be more
transparent about their ‘green’ data centre claims in order to build customer
confidence in them.

Ascierto also points out cloud
computing may spur new demand for IT services, and as prices for cloud services
fall, IT demand may grow, regardless of the global economy’s health. And it
remains to be seen whether advances in energy efficiency in data centres will
outweigh the effect of these growing demands.

In the meantime, it’s inevitable
that corporate Australia will have to take another look at ICT power use as
part of the broader move to price carbon.

While any carbon tax is only
likely to impact the big end of town, the Sustainability Index shows it’s the
manufacturing sector that is currently falling behind, with the lowest score
across the eight industry sectors measured.


2011 Climate Corps Fellows Show
How Energy Efficiency Can Pay Off

By Tilde Herrera In
(21 September 2011):

Think energy efficiency is
boring? Think again. A group of graduate students just gave us 650 million
reasons to believe otherwise.

A small army of nearly 100 MBA
and MPA students descended on 78 companies, cities and universities this summer
to hunt for efficiency projects that would save energy and money. The students,
participating in the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program, found
ample opportunities: $650 million worth. That’s nearly double the savings
identified in 2010.

Now in its fourth year, the
program that gives graduate students a crash course in real-life corporate
energy management shows no sign of slowing. The number of fellows and host
organizations continues to swell with each class, and even expanded this year
to include cities and universities.

“What that demonstrates is
the power of a good idea, the effectiveness of this model and the impact you
can have by building the case for energy efficiency,” said Victoria Mills,
managing director of EDF’s Corporate Partnerships program.

The numbers speak for themselves:
The lighting, computer equipment and HVAC projects identified by Climate Corps
fellows would save 600 million kilowatt hours of electricity and avoid 440,000
metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

I spoke to Mills about the latest
results released today. She told me the program will likely expand again next
year, and is already recruiting for 2012.

“The focus will continue to
be on building the business case for energy efficiency, helping organizations
find quick wins, and low- or no-cost investments that deliver big benefits in
energy savings and carbon reductions,” she said.

But Climate Corps fellows are
also digging deeper to look at impacting organizational practices that make
energy efficiency stick, Mills said, such as helping their host organizations
create dedicated funds for energy efficiency investments or establish
accountability in the company for energy efficiency savings.

One of her biggest surprises:
“We continue to see such big benefits, even with our repeat host

She told me some first-year host
companies admitted they were unsure about even participating because they
thought they had done everything, but came to realize they were just scratching
the surface.

While the potential savings
figure is brag-worthy, it’s practically meaningless if the host organizations
leave those opportunities sitting on the table. That’s not the case here.

“The thing I’m most excited
about is the implementation rate and the fact that when we go back and check
with companies after the fellowships are over on what projects they’re moving
forward with, we’re seeing an 86 percent implementation rate for projects
either complete or underway,” Mills said. “It’s huge to be able to
catalyze that kind investment in energy efficiency.”

Tilde Herrera is an editor at
GreenBiz Group.


Car Sharing with Electric Leafs & Electric-powered Pods of the Future

Posted by admin on October 3, 2011
Posted under Express 153

Car Sharing with Electric Leafs & Electric-powered Pods of the Future

Montreal-based Communauto, the
oldest car-sharing company in North America, has launched a pilot project with
50 Nissan Leaf vehicles, hoping to become an industry leader of the electric
loaner cars. Is this how will people get around in the cities of the future? To
listen to heads of R&D departments at Toyota and GM, people in perpetually
sunny, clean cities will zip around in electric-powered pods that drive and
park themselves while accidents and emissions become a thing of the past. That
vision was presented at Changing Cities-Changing Cars panel at the Meeting of
the Minds conference in Boulder, Colorado. Don’t forgot to hear the latest at
the Electric Vehicle Conference in Brisbane, Australia 26 October.

Ninemsn News (19 September 2011):

In a Montreal parking lot,
Jean-Francois Beauchamp unhooks a power cable from his loaner car and
cheerfully drives away, an enthusiastic user of a new service that is finding
fans in equal measure among commuters and environmentalists.

“It’s very quiet, pleasant
and and doesn’t use gasoline,” says Beauchamp, 44, a web designer and
frequent user of the electric cars made available for hourly rental by the
Communauto car-sharing enterprise.

His loaner vehicle is one from a
fleet of gasoline-free cars pointing the way forward for the increasingly
popular car-share industry, which unlike a traditional car rental, allows
customers to hire a vehicle for part of one day.

The Montreal-based Communauto,
the oldest car-sharing company in North America, in mid-August launched the
pilot project with 50 Nissan Leaf vehicles, hoping to become an industry leader
of the electric loaner cars.

Communauto also is a bargain,
charging about two dollars (1.50 euro) per hour, which includes the cost of
fuel, plus a subscription fee.

Electric cars early on met with
consumer resistance, but the chance to try out the vehicles in a low-risk
car-share has helped to greatly increase their popularity.

“I already have a car, but I
subscribed to Communauto precisely because I wanted to try out an electric
car,” said new convert Georges Charlebois.

Charlebois now dreams of when
he’ll no longer have to to rent one by the day or by the hour. That day may be
a long way off, however: there is a waiting list for the vehicles at his local

The most ambitious electric
car-sharing plan is wildly popular, but has a downside, Beauchamp admitted.

“You have to plan ahead
because you can’t stop at a gas station to fill it up,” he said ruefully.

Communauto has tried to alleviate
that problem, installing — in partnership with the giant public utility
Hydro-Quebec — car charging stations in parking lots all across Montreal.

Devoid of a conventional combustion
engine, the loaner cars — emblazoned with the slogan “100% electric”
– are famously quiet, so not only do they not increase air pollution, but they
don’t add to the city’s noise pollution, either.

Most of the electric cars can go
about 140 kilometers (about 87 miles) before needing to be recharged –
although the batteries become partially replenished when the brakes are
pressed, or when the vehicle is driven downhill.

Benoit Robert, CEO of Communauto,
told AFP that the company is excited about the addition of the green cars to
its fleet.

“The electric car will allow
us to further reduce emissions from our users,” he said.

The popularity of the vehicles
already is having an ecological upside, he added.

“We already are having a
significant impact on reducing the rate of motorized car use by the population
and this has a direct impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Benoit
told AFP.

Catherine Morency, a professor at
the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, said the program is a marketing masterstroke
because of the synergy between the car-share and green car industries.

The arrangement also is a plus
for manufacturers of green automobiles, because a wider range of renters — and
potential purchasers — try out the cars before purchase.

But the two industries part ways
in terms of their long term goals: While makers of green cars are hoping to put
a lot more of them on the road, Communauto seeks, in the end, to reduce the
number of cars in circulation.

Car-sharing will convert at least
some motorists to the electric car, thereby increasing the demand for these
vehicles, predicted popular automobile columnist Denis Duquet.

“The production will
increase, prices will drop and people who have used the electric car in
Communauto are likely eventually to buy their own,” Duqet predicts.


By Charles Redell in
(22 September 2011):

How will people get around in the
cities of the future? To listen to heads of R&D departments at Toyota and
GM, people in perpetually sunny, clean cities will zip around in
electric-powered pods that drive and park themselves while accidents and
emissions become a thing of the past.

That vision was presented during
today’s Changing Cities-Changing Cars panel at the Meeting of the Minds
conference in Boulder, Colo. Less starry-eyed dreamers on it talked about car
sharing, electric buses, lighter vehicles and reducing idling.

The panel’s tone was set by its
moderator, Bill Reinert, national manager of advanced technology at Toyota.
“… A bus with one passenger is one of the most inefficient ways to move
people around,” he said. “Cars done the right way can be an effective
way to move people.”

The vision of Chris Borroni-Bird,
director of advanced technology vehicle concepts and the EN-V program for GM,
meshed nicely with that. Cities and residents have competing needs from
transportation, he said. Cities want clean air, to use less energy, to have
fewer accidents, less congestion and less parking needs. People want to drive
in urban environments because of the comfort and convenience personal
transportation offers. (Pictured above is a concept image from GM’s rollout of
the EN-V last year.)

“There’s a reason why people
still drive cars in dense cities,” he said. “It’s a freedom of
expression. For some, it’s a status symbol.”

His team’s solution is the EN-V
or Electric Networked Vehicle. This highly maneuverable electric pod is
networked and provides autonomous driving capability so it can automatically
caravan with other EN-Vs and avoid accidents. “It retains the essential
benefits of a car without the downsides of car,” he said. (The video at
right has Borroni-Bird walking through the EN-V concept.)

Autonomous cars would not only be
more efficient from an energy perspective — the 500-pound EN-V has a 3.4-kwh
battery compared with the 34-kwh battery in a Nissan Leaf, according to Larry
Burns, director of the Roundtable on Sustainability Mobility at Earth Institute
(and one of the presenters at’s VERGE event last June) — but
freeing people from driving could give them an extra hour a day, which he
valued at $12,500 a year, or half the price of a car.

“Alternative propulsion and
energy technologies get all the attention,” Burns said. “Driverless
vehicles and the coordination of all that moves us and goods around will be the
most sustainable transportation we’ll get to experience.”

Offering a different kind of
solution was Sascha Simon, director of Advanced Product Planning for Mercedes-Benz
USA. Two years ago Mercedes started exploring the concept of car sharing
because personally owned cars sit unused about 80 percent of the time, he said.

The increased efficiency of
shared assets drove the company to launch Car2Go, first in Germany and then in
Canada and Austin, Texas — where there are currently 15,000 members. Soon
electric vehicles are planned to roll out when Car2Go launches in San Diego as
“the future of urban mobility,” according to Austin.

Even more pragmatic was the
vision of Michael Austin, vice president of BYD America, which focuses on
selling electric selling cars to fleet operators and electric buses to

The buses run 187 miles on a
charge and could carry about 40 passengers in the United States for about $8 in
energy costs. Compared with using 25 gallons of diesel, e-buses make moving
people in cities “very much about public transportation,” he said. At
a cost of about $650,000, e-buses are twice the cost of a diesel bus but save
$500,000 in fuel and maintenance costs over 12 years, according to Austin.

Wrapping up the panel was a late
addition to it: John Coleman works on fleet sustainability for Ford. His goal
is to make the 5 million cars Ford currently sells each year significantly
reduce emissions without requiring new infrastructure.

Ford is aiming to cut between 250
and 750 pounds from the weight of its vehicles and plans to make its new trucks
30 percent lighter, according to Coleman.

The company also looked at idling
technology for applications such as utility bucket trucks which idle all day
long. By adding a small battery that only runs the bucket, Ford reduced fuel
usage by 80 percent and doubled the amount of time workers could be out because
of reduced noise concerns.

“It’s not as sexy, but with
an 80 percent reduction in fuel, now we’re making a difference,” Coleman

Charles Redell has been covering
renewable energy and sustainable business for the better part of 10 years at
various publications including, Sustainable Industries, and
Energy Prospects West