Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

23.12.06

[Alternative Energy: Fuel Cells, Solar, Wind] - < The worlds largest wind Farm >

The world's largest offshore wind farm is to be built off the coast of south-east England.

The wind farm, 12 miles off Kent and Essex, will occupy an area of 90 square miles between Margate and Clacton.

London Array, the consortium behind the £1.5 billion project, says the wind farm will avoid emissions of up to 1.9 million tones of carbon dioxide every year and could make up to 10% of the UK Government's 2010 renewables targets.

The Government has also given the go-ahead for a second wind farm, off the coast of Kent. The Thanet wind farm will be seven miles from North Foreland and will occupy 13.5 square miles. The £500 million project is being developed by Warwick Energy. It will supply electricity to around 240,000 homes.

The combined might of both wind farms will be enough to power a third of London's three million households, or the combined households of Kent and Sussex.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said:

"We expect this announcement will be the first of a number of large-scale offshore wind farms in the UK and will provide real impetus for the continued developments in the offshore renewable energy sector that will benefit generations to come.

"By issuing the licences to build the world's largest offshore wind farms in the Thames Estuary, we are reinforcing the UK's commitment to renewable energy and combating climate change and ocean acidification."

Speaking on behalf of London Array, James Smith said: "We're delighted to have received the DTI's consents today."

Warwick Energy director Mark Petterson said: "We are pleased that the Defra and DTI consents have been granted.

"The emphasis must now be on the timely delivery of new renewable energy capacity to make a real impact on CO2 emissions. We urge all involved to stay focused on the important tasks ahead."




http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/latest/2006/climate-1218.htm

How Plug-In Hybrids Will Save the Grid



Thanks to Norbert for this one



Content:

How Plug-In Hybrids Will Save the Grid by Kevin Bullis
The use of vehicles that run on electricity could be a boon to the ailing electrical grid.

http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/17930/

Small companies are already making kits that allow drivers to commute using electricity from the grid (stored in extra batteries shown here). When major automakers start making the kits, will charging these cars be too much for the grid to handle?
Credit: Technology Review



Thursday, December 21, 2006
How Plug-In Hybrids Will Save the Grid
The use of vehicles that run on electricity could be a boon to the ailing electrical grid.
By Kevin Bullis

Major automakers and the Department of Energy are pouring money into research on plug-in hybrid vehicles. These cars promise to cut petroleum consumption by allowing commuters to drive to work using primarily electricity--stored on board in batteries--rather than gas. Although critics have warned that the vehicles could put too much pressure on an already strained electrical grid, experts are now arguing that rather than being a strain on the grid, plug-in hybrids may actually help prevent brownouts, cut the cost of electricity, and increase the use of renewable energy.

Plug-in hybrids, like today's hybrid cars, can run on either an electric motor or an internal combustion engine. But plug-ins have much larger battery packs and can be recharged by being plugged into the wall, making it possible to rely much more on the electric motor. Although a handful of companies sell conversion kits to change conventional hybrids into plug-ins, the kits add thousands of dollars to the cost of the car (see "Plug-In Hybrids Are on the Way"). This additional cost, which is primarily from the batteries, is one of the reasons the major automakers haven't yet mass produced such vehicles, although they are now developing them. GM, for example, recently committed to making a plug-in version of a Saturn SUV (see "GM's Plug-In Hybrid").

The concern is that plug-ins are not a good way to reduce gasoline consumption, because if they become popular, and millions of car owners recharged their cars at three in the afternoon on a hot day, it would crash the grid. But plug-in hybrids could actually help stabilize the grid if owners charged their cars at times of low demand, and if the vehicles could return excess energy to the grid when it's needed--say while parked in the company lot at work during peak demand.

Since utilities have built enough power plants to provide electricity when people are operating their air conditioners at full blast, they have excess generating capacity during off-peak hours. As a result, according to an upcoming report from the Pacific Northwestern National Laboratory (PNNL), a Department of Energy lab, there is enough excess generating capacity during the night and morning to allow more than 80 percent of today's vehicles to make the average daily commute solely using this electricity. If plug-in-hybrid or all-electric-car owners charge their vehicles at these times, the power needed for about 180 million cars could be provided simply by running these plants at full capacity.

This could be a boon to utilities, because they'd be able to sell more power without the added cost of building more plants. Ideally, this will translate into lower electricity prices, says Robert Pratt, a scientist at PNNL. It might also help utilities justify the added capital costs of building cleaner coal-burning plants, because they'll be able to recover their investment faster by "selling more electricity with the same set of iron, steel, and concrete," Pratt says.

Such a system could be further optimized by using smart chargers and other electronics. This system would include a charger that runs on a timer, charging cars only during off-peak hours. Researchers at PNNL are taking this a step further with smart chargers that use the Internet to gather information about electricity demand. Utilities could then temporarily turn off chargers in thousands of homes or businesses to keep the grid from crashing after a spike in demand.

The next step would be to add smart meters that would track electricity use in real time and allow utilities to charge more for power used during times of peak demand, and less at off-peak hours. Coupled with such a system, the PNNL smart charger could ensure that the plug-in batteries are charged only when the electricity is at its cheapest, saving consumers money.


But what many experts are excited about now is a concept called "vehicle-to-grid," often abbreviated V2G. In such a system, plug-in hybrids, rather than being merely an extra burden to the grid, become a much needed way for grid managers to balance the amount of energy generated at any given time to match the amount of energy being consumed. Millions of cars, each with several kilowatt hours of storage capacity, would act as an enormous buffer, taking on charge when the system temporarily generates too much power, and giving it back when there are short peaks in demand.

In a V2G system, the batteries of millions of plug-ins would be used as a buffer to even out supply and demand and to help keep the grid stable, says Karl Lewis, chief operating officer of GridPoint, a startup based in Washington, D.C., that has developed technology that could help make such a system work. In this kind of system, each vehicle would have its own IP address so that wherever it is plugged in, the cost of the energy it uses to recharge would be billed to the owner. With the right equipment, the car could also return energy to the grid, giving the owner credit. Mock-ups of such systems have already been tested by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in Golden, CO, and by a company called AC Propulsion, based in San Dimas, CA.

Plug-ins could also serve as backup sources of power. In extreme cases, such as a blackout from a hurricane, the cars could keep essential systems up and running in homes and businesses. Even in this case, when the batteries could be drawn down considerably, the owner could rely on the internal combustion engine in a plug-in hybrid for transportation.

As an added benefit, "if millions of these [plug-in hybrids] were produced, it would enable some of the renewable technologies to really take off," say Terry Penney, a technology manager for advanced vehicle technologies at NREL. The challenge of using a renewable source such as wind is that wind is intermittent, varying day by day and minute by minute. A network of plug-in hybrids could smooth out these fluctuations by storing extra energy and sending it to the grid when the wind dies down. Such a network would also improve the economics of wind power by making it possible to capture more of the excess power generated on windy days, says Willett Kempton, senior policy scientist in the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware.

Such systems are many years off, as it will take time to install the needed infrastructure. Once plug-in cars are widely available, however, they could help relieve some of the pressure on the grid today.

Copyright Technology Review 2006.



UPS Report Card


Thanks to Laurie for the pointer

Great example of transparency of measures!! Have a nice holiday.

http://sustainability.ups.com/popup/performance/main.html

- Laurie
__________________________________________
Following is an overview of the status of UPS's key performance indicators (KPIs). For detailed information on each KPI, please review the Economic, Social and Environmental sections of the site.


KPI Description ’02 Data ’03 Data ’04 Data ’05 Data '07 Goal Scope of data* Additional Data Description
Social
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Retention rate (full-time)
94%
94%
92%
92%
≥ 92%
All Global Operations
Percent of full-time employees that are retained annually (management & non-management)
Employer of Choice Index
76%
74%
75%
75%
80%
All Global Operations
A subset of 20 questions from the Employee Opinion Survey that assess employees's opinions of how UPS attracts, retains, and motivates employees
Philanthropy as a Percentage of Adjusted Profit AND Total Charitable Contributions
1%
1.1%
0.9%
1.0%
1% maintain
All Global Operations
Combined charitable contributions of UPS and UPS Foundation as a percentage of adjusted profit before interest and taxes (PBIT adjusted for one time events). Goal is to maintain contributions at a five-year trailing average of one percent of as adjusted profit before interest and taxes.
Automotive Accident frequency (per 100,000 driver hours)
17.7
18.2
17.8
17.0
15.2
All Global Operations
Total number of vehicular accidents (regardless of severity) per 100,000 driver hours
Number of lost time injuries per 200,000 hours
6.3
5.5
3.8
3.6
3.2
All Global Operations
Lost Work Days from injury or illness per 200,000 hours
Environmental
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fines as a % of env'l agency inspections
0.46%
0.44%
1.03%
1.37%
No goal intended
U.S. Operations
Environment related fines (U.S.) as a percent of total environment related agency inspections.
Water consumption - total & normalized
5.2 M meters3 / 1.70 meters3 per 1,000 pkgs / .18 meters3 per 1,000 Rev.
5.1 M meters3 / 1.64 meters3 per 1,000 pkgs / .190 meters3 per 1,000 Rev.
5.6 M meters3 / 1.73 meters3 per 1,000 pkgs / 0.2 meters3 per 1,000 Rev.
5.5 M meters3 / 1.62 meters3 per 1,000 pkgs / .17 meters3 per 1,000 Rev.
TBD
U.S. Operations
Water consumption (U.S.) includes all facility related water and water used to wash vehicles -expressed in cubic meters.
Energy footprint - total & normalized
88.4 million gigajoules (total)
28.95 gigajoules per 1,000 packages
3.08 gigajoules per 1,000 Rev.
88.6 million gigajoules (total)
28.42 gigajoules per 1,000 packages
3.28 gigajoules per 1,000 Rev.
88.8 million gigajoules (total)
27.36 gigajoules per 1,000 packages
3.17 gigajoules per 1,000 Rev.
95.0 million gigajoules (total)
28.31 gigajoules per 1,000 packages
2.98 gigajoules per 1,000 Rev.
TBD
U.S. Operations
Energy consumption (U.S.) includes stationary sources of energy (electricity, natural gas, propane and heating oil) and mobile sources of energy (gasoline, diesel, jet A, and compressed natural gas). Expressed in Gigajoules of energy.
Ground Network Fuel Efficiency (total ground fuel consumption per package)
0.1038 gals/pkg
0.1012
0.1018
0.1036
0.1008 gals / pkg
U.S. Operations
Fuel consumption (U.S.) includes gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, and UPS's calculated portion of fuel used for transportation by rail services divided by total U.S. ground and air packages.
Global Aircraft Emissions / Maximum Structural Payload capacity
0.92
0.88
0.86
0.83
.77
All Global Operations
Total Emissions of HC, CO, & NOx in kgs divided by the sum of max structural payload capacity (in thousands of kgs) weighted by annual aircraft cycles.
Percent of fleet that meets Stage IV Noise requirements
92%
94%
95%
95%
97%
All Global Operations
Percent of UPS total fleet that meets 2006 noise requirements (which only apply to new aircraft acquisitions). Cumulative noise (take-off, sideline, & approach) as measured by Effective Perceived Noise decibels (EPNdb).
Greenhouse Gas Emissions footprint (absolute & normalized) expressed as CO2 emissions
6.60M m-tons (total)
2.16 metric tons per 1,000 pkgs
23.01 metric tons per 1,000 Rev.
6.62M m-tons (total)
2.12 metric tons per 1,000 pkgs
24.56 metric tons per 1,000 Rev.
6.69M m-tons (total)
2.06 metric tons per 1,000 pkgs
23.85 metric tons per 1,000 Rev.
7.13M m-tons (total)
2.12 metric tons per 1,000 pkgs
22.37 metric tons per 1,000 Rev.
TBD
U.S. Operations
GHG emissions (U.S.) calculated using GHG Protocol - scope 1 & scope 2. Includes stationary and mobile sources of energy.
Additional indicator description              
Social
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
% Participation in EOS
89%
88%
89%
88%
95%
All Global Operations
Percent participation in Employee Opinion Survey administered annually.
Environmental
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
# of Reportable Spills
43
45
52
47
0
U.S. Operations
Spills that meet criteria of being federal or state reportable.
Hazardous Waste
Recycled: 76
Incinerated: 437
Treated and Landfilled: 24
Recycled: 33
Incinerated: 483
Treated and Landfilled: 27
Recycled: 46
Incinerated: 551
Treated and Landfilled: 30
Recycled: 45
Incinerated: 639
Treated and Landfilled: 14
Reduce waste / Proper disposal
U.S. Operations
Method of disposal for hazardous waste generated in UPS facilities. [Landfilled waste is treated to non-hazardous and then disposed of in a secure landfill].
 
 
 
On Track / Off Track
   
 
 



*In 2004 and 2005, UPS acquired Menlo Worldwide Forwarding and Overnite Corp. For Reporting consistency, these additions have been excluded from our 2005 Key Performance Indicators and additional measures.
In 2005, UPS changed its business segment reporting structure. Data in this report from 2002-2004 has been revised to reflect the current reporting structure.

[Alternative Energy: Fuel Cells, Solar, Wind] - < The worlds largest wind Farm >

The world's largest offshore wind farm is to be built off the coast of south-east England.

The wind farm, 12 miles off Kent and Essex, will occupy an area of 90 square miles between Margate and Clacton.

London Array, the consortium behind the £1.5 billion project, says the wind farm will avoid emissions of up to 1.9 million tones of carbon dioxide every year and could make up to 10% of the UK Government's 2010 renewables targets.

The Government has also given the go-ahead for a second wind farm, off the coast of Kent. The Thanet wind farm will be seven miles from North Foreland and will occupy 13.5 square miles. The £500 million project is being developed by Warwick Energy. It will supply electricity to around 240,000 homes.

The combined might of both wind farms will be enough to power a third of London's three million households, or the combined households of Kent and Sussex.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said:

"We expect this announcement will be the first of a number of large-scale offshore wind farms in the UK and will provide real impetus for the continued developments in the offshore renewable energy sector that will benefit generations to come.

"By issuing the licences to build the world's largest offshore wind farms in the Thames Estuary, we are reinforcing the UK's commitment to renewable energy and combating climate change and ocean acidification."

Speaking on behalf of London Array, James Smith said: "We're delighted to have received the DTI's consents today."

Warwick Energy director Mark Petterson said: "We are pleased that the Defra and DTI consents have been granted.

"The emphasis must now be on the timely delivery of new renewable energy capacity to make a real impact on CO2 emissions. We urge all involved to stay focused on the important tasks ahead."




http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/latest/2006/climate-1218.htm

19.12.06

GM Cuts Energy Use by One-Quarter at North American Facilities


GM Cuts Energy Use by One-Quarter at North American Facilities

GreenBiz.com, 15 December 2006 - General Motors says it has reduced its energy use by 25 percent and added solar and landfill gas as energy sources at its North American facilities over the past five years.

GM is one of the leading users of renewable energy in the North American manufacturing sector, with renewable energy sources representing about 2 percent of its energy use. These energy strategies are part of an overall program that has enabled GM to reduce its energy use from 94 trillion BTUs in 2002, to an expected 72.5 trillion BTUs by the end of 2006 in GM's North American region.

"General Motors has a corporate commitment to making our vehicles and our facilities energy efficient, and we have a long history of energy reduction efforts at our plants," said Elizabeth Lowery, GM vice president, Environment and Energy.

GM's Service Parts Operations Parts Distribution Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., for example, is the nation's largest, corporate solar photo voltaic installation. Solar panels lining the roof help keep costs down and reduce the facility's environmental impact:

  • From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., solar panels power the warehouse where 215 employees ship nearly 76,000 customer orders to GM car dealerships across California and Arizona.
  • The facility will save 10 percent of its electricity costs each year by using solar panels to power 50 percent of its operations.
  • The solar energy not consumed will feed back into the California power grid; helping thousands of Californian's power their own homes. For example in the month of September 2006, GM was able to power this facility and give back enough energy to power 210 homes within the surrounding community.
In addition to its solar facilities, GM's renewable energy portfolio includes:
  • One of the largest corporate uses of landfill gas in the U.S. The sum of landfill gas capacity at seven GM operations using the fuel is equivalent to the energy needed to heat over 25,000 households, which represents about 1.6 trillion BTUs per year. Landfill gas installations at GM plants generate annual savings exceeding $5 million.
  • New small hydro-power installations for GM facilities in Mexico that will become operational in 2007.
"GM is one of the leading corporate users of on-site renewable energy in America," said Craig Hanson, manager of the Green Power Market Development Group at the World Resources Institute, a Washington, DC non-profit environmental think-tank. "With these projects GM is demonstrating there's a solid business case for using renewables and is building corporate markets for green power."

David Skiven, executive director, GM Worldwide Facilities Group., said: "The combination of cost and environmental benefits makes renewable energy sources extremely important to us. Our use of alternative energy is a sound business decision, resulting in lower costs and a broader portfolio of energy sources."

General Motors also has achieved substantial energy use reduction as a result of its commitment to energy conservation initiatives in its operations.

“Although renewable energy projects are highly visible and intriguing, equally important are consistent efforts to drive energy savings in our ongoing manufacturing operations,” said Skiven.

GM's conservation efforts beyond renewable energy include:
  • Installing common energy management and control systems for lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
  • Improving compressed air systems and paint shop operations.
  • Participating in the U.S. EPA Green Lights Program to install more efficient lighting systems in GM's North American facilities.
“At General Motors, we believe that managing energy use is a vital part of our business,” said Skiven. “Smart energy decisions are not only good for the environment; they are good for the bottom line.”

Parliament wants clear targets for future EU energy policy


Parliament wants clear targets for future EU energy policy

EurActiv.com, 15 December 2006 - By 2020, the EU should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and produce 25% of its primary energy through renewables, according to a report adopted by the European Parliament on 14 December.

Background

The European Parliament adopted the Eluned Morgan report on the Commission's Green Paper on a European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy on 14 December 2006. MEPs recommend setting binding targets for greenhouse-gas reduction and energy efficiency. They also expressed support for more use of renewables but left the decision whether to use nuclear power to member states.

Issues

The Parliament's resolution foresees the following concrete targets:

  • 30% CO2 reduction by 2020 and 60-80% by 2050;
  • 25% of primary energy production from renewables by 2020 and a road map to reach 50% by 2040;
  • energy efficiency improvements of 20% by 2020.
Parliament also recognises the role that nuclear energy can play in the energy mix of some member states, but leaves it up to the individual countries to decide on the future of nuclear power. A proposal pushed by the nuclear lobby to generate 60% of Europe's electricity from "non-carbon emitting technologies" was defeated.

Positions

British Conservative MEP Giles Chichester hit out at Labour rapporteur Eluned Morgan. "The Labour MEPs have voted against renewable and nuclear energy. This was a veritable double whammy against sustainability and security of supply. My sympathies go to Tony Blair who once again has been let down by his representatives in Europe," Chichester said.

Green MEP Claude Turmes was more positive: "The EP has today sent a strong message that climate change must be the bottom line for EU energy policy, and that energy efficiency and renewables should get prime place in the forthcoming EU energy strategy review."

EREC , the European Renewable Energy Council , welcomed the EP targets on the use of renewables. However, it warned that an upcoming renewable energy road map to be proposed by the Commission in January will not live up to the Parliament's ambitions.

According to a draft version of the road map seen by EREC, the Commission would propose a new binding target for renewable energies at 20% of the EU's overall energy consumption by 2020, a level significantly higher than the current target, set at 12% for 2010.

But industry observers and Brussels diplomats say this will not go through, since only Germany and Denmark have so far supported it.

As a trade-off to EU member states, the Commission is said to propose that sector-specific targets for transport and electricity be abandoned altogether. As a result, EREC fears all targets will be dropped in favour of "vague measures and ambiguous commitments". "It is crucial to keep the sectoral targets if Europe's prime position is to be maintained," EREC said. "Anything else would be a disaster for RES investors and send a negative signal to markets across the world."

"The draft road map, as it stands, would undermine existing law, create a legislative vacuum for many years to come and fire up widespread investor uncertainty," EREC further warned.

Latest & next steps

  • The Commission is expected to adopt an extensive "energy package", including an energy strategy review on 10 January 2007.
Links

EU official documents

EU actors positions