Friday, June 23, 2006

EPA and New York City Show Off Greener Big Apple; Announce Winners of Second Green Building Competition

The Big Apple got a little greener recently as architects showed off their projects to help protect the environment while working to make a Bronx Zoo Lion House brighter, Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue terminal solar powered and the New Sunrise Yard maintenance facility energy efficient. These innovative architectural projects were among the winners of The Green Building Competition for New York City, a joint United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) competition that attracted professionals and students from across disciplines to submit their projects and concepts for the city. EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg and DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd today announced the selection of winners at an awards ceremony at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, New York. Partnership for New York City, President and CEO Kathryn Wylde gave the keynote address.

“New York City is taking the lead in innovative designs for sustainable development. The ‘city that never sleeps’ never stops building either, so it’s only appropriate that it integrate green building practices at every step of the development process,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “For New York, with its never ending appeal, yet limited space and resources, sustainable development is nonnegotiable. New York City is taking shape as a showcase for the world’s environmental friendly buildings and spaces and we will continue to support projects that creatively merge environmental excellence with practical function.”

DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said, “The designs being recognized today promote sustainable development that will enable us to maintain the water, air and land resources that are crucial to our long-term health and survivability. DEP is committed to incorporating these concepts into its capital construction projects and infrastructure improvements. This competition will help to encourage the same concepts to take root in development throughout the country.”

The competition objectives were: innovation (encouraging the development of new ideas in green building design), adaptation (highlighting projects that have successfully incorporated green building principles into new and existing New York City building stock), and assimilation (emphasizing projects that incorporate green buildings into the existing fabric of the community).

The design, construction, operation and maintenance of buildings account for enormous amounts of energy, water, and generate large quantities of air and water pollution. As the environmental impact of buildings becomes more apparent, a new field called green building is gaining momentum. Green or sustainable building is the practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation and operation. By adopting green building strategies, building owners can maximize both economic and environmental performance.

Green Building Competition for New York City
For overall excellence in the use of good design principles and the integration of innovative green building technologies:

Grand Winner:
New Sunrise Yard (submitted by: Gruzen Samton LLP Architects, Planners, Interior Designers)
This project, situated on 46,300 square feet, will be the base of operations for the facilities maintenance group of the NYC Department of Transportation and is part of the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s sustainable design pilot program. Using an integrated, consensus driven process, the project achieves a 65% energy savings over the technical baseline through measures such as use of high performance glass, clerestory roof system, a high efficiency lighting system, radiant floor heating, demand based ventilation, and use of high efficiency boilers. Demolition waste will be reused and water efficiency will be achieved through native landscaping and maximizing pervious services. Runoff is contained on the site and construction vehicles will use ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel.


Climate change: More effort needed to reverse EU's greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU-15 member states rose by 0.3% between 2003 and 2004, says the European Commission. Despite this rise, EU-15 emissions stood 0.9% lower than in the base year (mostly 1990) even though the EU-15 recorded economic growth of 32% over the same period. Nevertheless greater efforts are needed to reduce EU-15 emissions to 8% below base year levels for the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period (2008-2012). The forthcoming national allocations of emission allowances for 2008-2012 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme will be a crucial tool for ensuring member states achieve their Kyoto targets. EU-25 emissions, for which there is no collective Kyoto target, rose by 0.4% from 2003 to 2004 but were still 7.3% below base year levels.

"To meet our emissions reduction target member states need to intensify their efforts to implement the many EU measures to combat climate change that have been agreed over the past few years. With their new national allocation plans, due by the end of this month, member states now have a major opportunity to reverse unsustainable emission trends and ensure they will achieve their Kyoto targets. "It is very encouraging that we have broken the link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions, but this decoupling needs to be accelerated," Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.The inventory for 2004, compiled by the European Environment Agency, shows an overall increase of 11.5 million tonnes, or 0.3%, in EU-15 emissions of greenhouse gases (expressed in CO2 equivalents) compared with 2003. Emissions rose in 10 of the EU-15 member states and fell in the five others (see Annex for details).

The 0.3% rise brought down the reduction in EU-15 emissions since the base year to 0.9% in 2004 from 1.2% in 2003.

The 2004 increase in EU-15 emissions was mainly due to higher CO2 emissions from road transport, iron and steel production and oil refining, as well as increased emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - one of the most powerful families of greenhouse gases - from refrigeration and air conditioning. On the positive side, there were falls in CO2 emissions from households and services and from electricity and heat production, as well as reductions in emissions of methane from landfills and from coal mining and handling.

The 2004 result puts actual EU-15 emissions further above the level they are projected to be at if policies and measures agreed at EU level were fully implemented. The widening divergence between projected and actual emissions indicates that member states have been slow with implementation of their measures and need to accelerate their efforts.

This makes it all the more important that member states make their national allocation plans (NAPs) for 2008-2012 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme strict enough to ensure that they meet their Kyoto targets. The NAPs will set a cap on overall emissions from the energy-intensive sectors producing almost half of the EU's CO2 emissions. They will also determine how many emission credits member states intend to obtain from emission-saving projects in third countries. The NAPs must be submitted by 30 June, after which the Commission has three months to approve them or require changes.

Results from a number of member states also show that other EU and national measures are proving successful in decreasing emissions where implemented effectively. For example, Germany reduced its overall emissions by 0.9% in 2003-2004 as it increased the share of renewable energy sources in its electricity production from 7.9% to 9.4%. At the same time, Denmark's emissions fell by 8.1% as its renewables share rose from 13.4% to 14.2% and an energy efficiency drive helped reduce household energy consumption by 1.8%.

"Examples of successful implementation such as these need to be replicated across the EU to help ensure we reach our emissions targets," Commissioner Dimas underlined.
For further details of 2004 greenhouse gas emissions, see annex as well as the EEA press release at:


More than 30 policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been implemented at EU level as a result of the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP), set up by the Commission in 2000. Measures developed from the ECCP's work include the EU's innovative emissions trading scheme, the directive on energy efficiency standards for buildings and legislation on fluorinated industrial gases. Some of these important measures were not yet implemented in 2004.

The second phase of the ECCP was launched in October 2005. It will give particular attention to reviewing the state of implementation of ECCP I, to capture and storage of carbon emissions and to emissions from road vehicles and aviation. The role of the EU in reducing society's vulnerability to climate change and promoting adaptation to it will also be explored. Further policy initiatives in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy are also foreseen.
More information on the EU's fight against climate change can be found at :

Monday, June 19, 2006

Scientists to Employ Arctic Ice and Polar Bears To Protect Diversity of World’s Crops

Global Effort to Conserve Threatened Crop Diversity Underscores Growing Threats to Food Security from Plant Diseases, Climate Change

SVALBARD, NORWAY (19 June 2006)—On an island near the North Pole, heads of State from five Nordic countries and the Global Crop Diversity Trust laid the cornerstone today for a “fail-safe” seed vault to be carved into an Arctic mountain. The vault will ensure the long-term survival of the world’s vital food crops. As polar bears prowled the island, the head of the Trust called the repository a major hedge against catastrophe—part of a broad global strategy to protect the world’s food supply through conserving critical seed collections around the world, from the tropics to the highest latitudes.

“This facility will provide a practical means to reestablish crops obliterated by major disasters,” said Cary Fowler, the Trust’s Executive Secretary and lead author of the just- released Feasibility Study for the Arctic seed vault. “But crop diversity is imperiled not just by a cataclysmic event, such as a nuclear war, but also by natural disasters, accidents, mismanagement, and short-sighted budget cuts.”

The Norwegian government and the Global Crop Diversity Trust spearheaded the effort to establish a seed repository of last-resort in the Arctic ice; carved into permafrost and rock, it will eventually house the seeds of every nation.

The Trust, an international, non-profit organization works to support the world’s most critical crop collections, now scattered among some 1,400 gene banks on every continent (save Antarctica). While their status varies greatly, many are in dire straits, threatening the survival of some of the world’s unique crop varieties. Yet agriculture worldwide relies on these collections of crop species and their wild relatives. They are vital to the development of new varieties, without which agriculture would grind to a halt.

Today’s ceremony, featuring the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Dr. Fowler, marked the initiation of the vault’s construction with a stone-laying event. In a significant expression of support, the Prime Ministers of the other four Nordic nations— Finnish Prime Minister of Matti Vanhanen, Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and the Prime Minister of Iceland— convened for the event.

for further details

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Theolia Announces Acquisition of 58 MW Spanish Wind Farm

Theolia SA, the France-based European renewable energy producer, announced today the acquisition of a 58 MW wind farm project in Almeria, Spain.

The project represents an investment of approximately 75 million Euros, 20% of which will be financed directly by Theolia Iberica in which Theolia SA has an 80% stake. The balance will come from bank loans.

Jean-Marie Santander, CEO of Theolia said: “The establishment of Theolia Iberica underlines our determination to become a major pan-European player in renewable energy production. We have further renewable energy projects in the pipeline in Southern Europe and are therefore confident of fulfilling our targets for 2007, to the benefit of our shareholders.”

Theolia plans to begin construction of the Almeria farm in July 2006 and to complete by the third quarter of 2007.

Theolia Iberica has also acquired a 50% stake in Asset Electrica, owner of a 200 MW junction cable, which is linked to the network. The cable capacity ensures connection access for Theolia Iberica’s own production, as well as that of other producers. In Spain, the law relating to renewable energies (Royal decree RD436/2004), determines the purchase tariffs for renewable electricity for a duration of 20 years.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Clean-Energy Trends 2006

At long last, the tipping point is nigh: For the first time in modern history, clean-energy technologies are becoming cost-competitive with their "dirtier" counterparts. While oil and natural gas prices remain stubbornly high and frustratingly volatile across the globe, and as nuclear and coal-based energy remain dogged by environmental and safety concerns, clean-energy prices continue their near-relentless downward march.

Consider wind power. In certain regions, it is now one of the least expensive and most easily deployed sources of new generating capacity. Or ethanol, which has gained favor for vehicle use in both in the U.S. and abroad. Or biodiesel, made from a wide range of animal and vegetable oils, whose price is within striking distance of petroleum-based diesel. Even solar, still relatively expensive without subsidies, competes favorably in some places and is often the cheapest choice for power in remote regions.

Suddenly, so-called "alternative" energy technologies are looking pretty mainstream.

The growth of clean-energy markets reflects its growing acceptance. Global wind and solar markets reached $11.8 billion and $11.2 billion in 2005 -- up 47% and 55%, respectively, from a year earlier. The market for biofuels hit $15.7 billion globally in 2005, up more than 15% from the previous year.

Multinationals like Archer Daniels Midland, BP, GE, Sharp, and Toyota are partly responsible for stoking these technologies' aggressive growth, leading the way with billion-dollar divisions dedicated to solar, wind power, ethanol, and hybrid electric vehicles, among other technologies. State and city governments throughout the U.S. are playing a key role, too, competing feverishly to become clean-energy hubs that attract economic development and jobs. The Silicon Valley venture firms that financed the Internet and wireless telecom revolutions -- among them Draper Fisher Jurvetson; Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers; Mohr, Davidow Ventures; and VantagePoint Venture Partners -- have begun placing increasingly bigger bets on clean-energy.

Even America's Oilman, George W. Bush, seems to be warming to clean energy. In his 2006 State of the Union address, he declared what pretty much every other American already knew: the U.S. is "addicted to oil." Not an inconsequential statement for a Texan whose vice president once dismissed energy conservation as merely a "personal virtue." Bush proposed an initiative that calls for a 22% increase in clean-energy research and a goal of replacing at least 75% of U.S. Middle East oil imports by 2025 (though he offered no substantive funding to do these things).

Even without federal intervention, global clean-energy markets will flourish. According to Clean Edge research, biofuels (global manufacturing and wholesale pricing of ethanol and biodiesel) will grow from $15.7 billion in 2005 to $52.5 billion by 2015. Wind power (new installation capital costs) will expand from $11.8 billion in 2005 to $48.5 billion in 2015. Solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) will grow from an $11.2 billion industry in 2005 to $51.1 billion by 2015. And the fuel cell and distributed hydrogen market will grow from $1.2 billion (primarily for research contracts and demonstration and test units) last year to $15.1 billion by 2015.

In total, we project these four clean-energy technologies, which equaled $40 billion in 2005, to grow fourfold to $167 billion within the coming decade.
It's not all smooth sailing, however: There remains turbulence in the clean-energy sector. The solar industry is experiencing growing problems, unable to gain access to enough silicon feedstock to keep pace with demand. It will continue to put pressure on upward pricing over the short term. Biofuels, while showing great promise, face obstacles, not the least of which is how to quickly ramp up widespread distribution channels. Growth of wind turbines, while currently expanding rapidly, could flag as well as short-term price increases due to high steel costs and shifting currency valuations. And mass adoption of fuel cells and hydrogen remain decades away.

We believe many such obstacles are surmountable through a combination of incremental and breakthrough technology developments, the continued scale-up of manufacturing, and smart investments by corporations, investors, and governments. As we've seen over the last five years since issuing our first report on clean technologies (Clean-Tech: Profits and Potential, April 2001), the market has considerable momentum and represents one of the fastest-growing technology sectors on the planet.
Solar Shines for Investors

It could be said that 2005 was the Year of the Sun. On both the private and public markets, solar outshined other energy technologies. VCs put more than $150 million into U.S.-based companies such as Advent Solar, Energy Innovations, Heliovolt, MiasolŽ, Nanosolar, and PowerLight in 2005 -- double the investments in 2004.

Solar's glow was even more evident in the public markets. The three largest technology IPOs of 2005 were for solar companies: Q-Cells, SunPower, and Suntech Power. Combined, they raised more than $800 million (on the Frankfurt, NASDAQ, and NYSE exchanges, respectively), and by the end of their first trading day, each had market capitalizations exceeding $1.5 billion.

Clean-tech stocks in general are doing well. A number of clean-energy stalwarts are trading at or near their 52-week highs. At the time of publication, Energy Conversion Devices (ENER), Evergreen Solar (ESLR), Itron (ITRI), and Spire Corp. (SPIR) were all trading at roughly double their year-ago levels. But stock prices for other clean technologies, including fuel cells and microturbines, showed less energy.

U.S.-based venture capital investments in energy technologies increased from $716 million in 2004 to $917 million in 2005. As a percent of total VC investments, energy tech increased from 3.3 percent in 2004 to 4.2 percent in 2005. Over the last six years, venture investments have more than quadrupled as a percent of total VC investments, increasing from under 1 percent of total venture investments in 1999 to last year's 4.2 percent.

Clean Energy State of Mind

In the United States, clean energy has become a politically unifying issue with wide support from those of every political stripe, from traditional liberals to current and former military brass. This bipartisanship has been particularly evident at the state level, where nearly twenty states now have renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that mandate a percentage (often up to 20-25 percent) of electricity coming from clean energy. States like California, Hawaii, New York, and Pennsylvania are embarking on aggressive -- and impressive -- clean-energy programs.

It's a trend we expect to continue as states view clean energy as an opportunity to address air pollution, public health problems, greenhouse gases, and grid congestion -- and a way for states to become known as centers for clean-technology development, with all the new jobs and businesses that can result.
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