Sustainablog

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

8.2.08

Studies Deem Biofuels a Greenhouse Threat: if land use is taken into account, biofuels may not provide all the benefits once anticipated


Thanks to Lloyd for the links
--------------------------

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/science/earth/08wbiofuels.html
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/podcasts/2008/02/07/08worldview.mp3

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1151861v1
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1152747v1

--------------------------

February 8, 2008
Studies Deem Biofuels a Greenhouse Threat
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these "green" fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.

The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These latest studies, published in the prestigious journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy.

These studies for the first time take a detailed, comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of natural land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development.

The destruction of natural ecosystems — whether rain forest in the tropics or grasslands in South America — not only releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned and plowed, but also deprives the planet of natural sponges to absorb carbon emissions. Cropland also absorbs far less carbon than the rain forests or even scrubland that it replaces.

Together the two studies offer sweeping conclusions: It does not matter if it is rain forest or scrubland that is cleared, the greenhouse gas contribution is significant. More important, they discovered that, taken globally, the production of almost all biofuels resulted, directly or indirectly, intentionally or not, in new lands being cleared, either for food or fuel.

"When you take this into account, most of the biofuel that people are using or planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gasses substantially," said Timothy Searchinger, lead author of one of the studies and a researcher in environment and economics at Princeton University. "Previously there's been an accounting error: land use change has been left out of prior analysis."

These plant-based fuels were originally billed as better than fossil fuels because the carbon released when they were burned was balanced by the carbon absorbed when the plants grew. But even that equation proved overly simplistic because the process of turning plants into fuels causes its own emissions — for refining and transport, for example.

The clearance of grassland releases 93 times the amount of greenhouse gas that would be saved by the fuel made annually on that land, said Joseph Fargione, lead author of the second paper, and a scientist at the Nature Conservancy. "So for the next 93 years you're making climate change worse, just at the time when we need to be bringing down carbon emissions."

The Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change has said that the world has to reverse the increase of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to avert disastrous environment consequences.

In the wake of the new studies, a group of 10 of the United States's most eminent ecologists and environmental biologists today sent a letter to President Bush and the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, urging a reform of biofuels policies. "We write to call your attention to recent research indicating that many anticipated biofuels will actually exacerbate global warming," the letter said.

The European Union and a number of European countries have recently tried to address the land use issue with proposals stipulating that imported biofuels cannot come from land that was previously rain forest.

But even with such restrictions in place, Dr. Searchinger's study shows, the purchase of biofuels in Europe and the United States leads indirectly to the destruction of natural habitats far afield.

For instance, if vegetable oil prices go up globally, as they have because of increased demand for biofuel crops, more new land is inevitably cleared as farmers in developing countries try to get in on the profits. So crops from old plantations go to Europe for biofuels, while new fields are cleared to feed people at home.

Likewise, Dr. Fargione said that the dedication of so much cropland in the United States to growing corn for bioethanol had caused indirect land use changes far away. Previously, Midwestern farmers had alternated corn with soy in their fields, one year to the next. Now many grow only corn, meaning that soy has to be grown elsewhere.

Increasingly, that elsewhere, Dr. Fargione said, is Brazil, on land that was previously forest or savanna. "Brazilian farmers are planting more of the world's soybeans — and they're deforesting the Amazon to do it," he said.

International environmental groups, including the United Nations, responded cautiously to the studies, saying that biofuels could still be useful. "We don't want a total public backlash that would prevent us from getting the potential benefits," said Nicholas Nuttall, spokesman for the United National Energy Program, who said the United Nations had recently created a new panel to study the evidence.

"There was an unfortunate effort to dress up biofuels as the silver bullet of climate change," he said. "We fully believe that if biofuels are to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, there urgently needs to be better sustainability criterion."

The European Union has set a target that countries use 5.75 percent biofuel for transport by the end of 2008. Proposals in the United States energy package would require that 15 percent of all transport fuels be made from biofuel by 2022. To reach these goals, biofuels production is heavily subsidized at many levels on both continents, supporting a burgeoning global industry.

Syngenta, the Swiss agricultural giant, announced Thursday that its annual profits had risen 75 percent in the last year, in part because of rising demand for biofuels.

Industry groups, like the Renewable Fuels Association, immediately attacked the new studies as "simplistic," failing "to put the issue into context."

"While it is important to analyze the climate change consequences of differing energy strategies, we must all remember where we are today, how world demand for liquid fuels is growing, and what the realistic alternatives are to meet those growing demands," said Bob Dineen, the group's director, in a statement following the Science reports' release.

"Biofuels like ethanol are the only tool readily available that can begin to address the challenges of energy security and environmental protection," he said.

The European Biodiesel Board says that biodiesel reduces greenhouse gasses by 50 to 95 percent compared to conventional fuel, and has other advantages as well, like providing new income for farmers and energy security for Europe in the face of rising global oil prices and shrinking supply.

But the papers published Thursday suggested that, if land use is taken into account, biofuels may not provide all the benefits once anticipated.

Dr. Searchinger said the only possible exception he could see for now was sugar cane grown in Brazil, which take relatively little energy to grow and is readily refined into fuel. He added that governments should quickly turn their attention to developing biofuels that did not require cropping, such as those from agricultural waste products.

"This land use problem is not just a secondary effect — it was often just a footnote in prior papers,". "It is major. The comparison with fossil fuels is going to be adverse for virtually all biofuels on cropland."


7.2.08

Intel may be looking into the sun


Intel may be looking into the sun
News from LexisNexis
GAIL KINSEY HILL, The Oregonian -- The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), February 1, 2008 Friday Sunrise Edition

SUMMARY: High-tech | The chip maker is considering a jump into Oregon's fertile solar cell industry, state filings suggest

Intel may be looking into the sun

Chip maker

tipped hand

inadvertently

GAIL KINSEY HILL

Intel, a powerhouse in the computer chip industry, appears hot to invest in solar cell manufacturing, a fast-growing field that last year saw SolarWorld of Germany announce plans to build the largest solar facility in the United States using an abandoned high-tech plant in Hillsboro.

Documents recently filed with the Oregon Department of Energy link Intel to plans for a solar cell facility on a parcel of land in Hillsboro the company owns.

Intel confirmed the filings with the state, but little else. It emphatically denied any plans to "directly participate in the solar business." But it left open the possibility of an investment in a solar equipment manufacturer, perhaps through Intel Capital, its global investment arm.

"We made the applications to keep our options open in terms of our renewable investments strategies," said Bill MacKenzie, an Intel spokesman.

The solar photovoltaic industry --which makes the products that go into the electricity-generating rooftop and on-ground installations --has been growing by more than 30 percent annually. Such furious activity has drawn the particular interest of technology-driven companies familiar with silicon-based innovations, whether computer chips or solar cells.

"If you look at solar today, it's not Big Oil that's leading the charge, as you might expect," said Ron Pernick, co-founder and principal with Clean Edge, a clean-tech research and publishing firm in Portland. "The real activity has been with technology companies."

The solar products that go into PV arrays include everything from the silicon feedstock to the ingots and wafers to the solar modules themselves. Some companies focus on a single segment of the chain. Others, like SolarWorld, control several phases of production.

The manufacturing facility that Intel is considering would make solar cells, which then would be sold to module makers, according to the state-filed documents. The facility, which hasn't been built, is estimated to be completed by January 2009, according to the documents.

The filings do not disclose who the module maker might be or whether it is a startup or an established company. Intel declined to comment on a possible company.

State officials, including Gov. Ted Kulongoski, have rallied around the emerging solar manufacturing industry, and they have put in place tax breaks and other incentives to encourage development in Oregon. They say SolarWorld and two other companies --Solaicx and Peak Sun Silicon, both of California --recently announced solar manufacturing plants in Oregon in part because state policies are so welcoming.

Further announcements may come soon, state officials said, but they would not say which companies might be interested. They also declined to comment on Intel's plans.

In fact, Intel tipped its hand inadvertently. The tidbits about the company's investment plans are contained in applications for the state's business energy income tax credit. Companies that want to use the credit must receive preliminary approval from the Oregon Department of Energy before construction of a particular project begins.

Intel's MacKenzie said the filings, in December and January, were made quickly to meet deadline requirements.

"We filed under Intel's name as a placeholder," he said.

The tax breaks, expanded by the 2007 Legislature, allow renewable-energy manufacturers to claim a 50 percent tax credit, with a $20 million limit on eligible project costs. In some cases, the credit can be used more than once --for various phases of a project, for example.

Intel confirmed the filing of four applications totaling about $56 million. That's not an indicator of the total cost of the project, but of the amount that might qualify for the tax credit. The 50 percent tax credit, $28 million in this case, would be taken over five years.

Intel indicated on the application that it would not use the tax credit itself, but take advantage of a "pass-through option." That option allows the applicant to transfer the tax credit to another business or individual with an Oregon tax liability in exchange for a lump-sum payment.

"In the end, Intel doesn't anticipate that it will avail itself of those credits," MacKenzie said.

When asked why Intel might be interested in an investment in solar, MacKenzie said, "Because it's clear there's growth potential."

Gail Kinsey Hill: 503-221-8590, gailhill@news.oregonian.com

For environmental news, go to http://blog.oregonlive.com/pdxgreen.

Forum on best practices in community engagement


FYI...






Dear Colleagues,

On Friday, February 29, the Ivey Business School and Research Network
for Business Sustainability will host a forum in Toronto, Canada on
best practices for community engagement. You can register at
www.ivey.ca/centres/building/engaging.

The purpose of the forum is to identify evidence from both practice
and research. Both industry and academia are well represented on the
lists of speakers and registrants. A draft agenda is attached. We have
planned ample time for dialogue and networking.

The speakers include:
--> Grace Blake, Dave Meads, and Randy Ottenbreit, Mackenzie Gas
Project
--> Oana Branzei, Ivey Business School
--> Denise Carpenter, EPCOR Utilities Inc.
--> Jocelyne Daw, Imagine Canada
--> Katharine Partridge, Stakeholder Research Associates Canada
--> Pierre Gratton, Mining Association of Canada
--> Sandra Waddock, Boston College
--> Charlene Zietsma, Ivey Business School

The forum will be held at Ivey's Toronto campus. You can register at
www.ivey.ca/centres/building/engaging.

Warm regards,

Dr. Tima Bansal
Associate Professor, Ivey Business School
Executive Director, Research Network for Business Sustainability

5.2.08

Save the Planet 08 at Columbia University on March 27-28


For our colleagues in the NY area... A sparkling speaker lineup. Thanks to Jane for the tip
(PS: I`d love to see the «Planet Steering Committee» in action)



..
I've just learned of an upcoming 2 day FREE workshop, co-sponsored by Columbia's Earth Institute and The Economist, called State of the Planet 08, which looks very interesting.  It will be held March 27-28 at Columbia.  
Here's the link to more information:  http://www.earth.columbia.edu/sop2008/?id=agenda

You may like to circulate this to your teams.

Regards, Jane

Thursday, March 27, 2008

 

8:30 a.m. Conference Check-in 9:30 a.m.

Welcome: John Mutter, State of the Planet Steering Committee

9:40 a.m.
Conference Keynote

Kofi A. Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations
President, Global Humanitarian Forum

Introduction: Jeffrey D. Sachs, The Earth Institute at Columbia University

10:20 a.m.
Session 1: Eradicating Poverty as the Poor Population Expands

Moderator: Matthew Bishop, The Economist

 
Keynote

Kemal Derviş, United Nations Development Programme

Panel

Gregory Clark University of California-Davis
Erik Reinert
The Other Canon Foundation, Norway
Laurence Tubiana
Sciences Po Paris

12:30 p.m. Lunch Break (on your own) 2:00 p.m.
Session 2: Addressing Areas of Conflict in Our Changing World

Moderator: Jonathan Ledgard, The Economist

    4:30 p.m. Closing Remarks 6:30 p.m.
The Economist Debates: The United States and Climate Change

Proposition: "The United States  will solve the climate change problem."

  Host: Vijay Vaitheeswaran, The Economist    



Friday, March 28, 2008

 

  8:30 a.m. Conference Check-in 9:30 a.m. Welcome 9:40 a.m.
Conference Keynote - To Be Confirmed
  10:20 a.m.
Session 3: Identifying Energy Solutions for Sustainable Development

Moderator: Edward McBride, The Economist

 
Keynote
  To Be Confirmed  
Panel
  Klaus S. Lackner, The Earth Institute at Columbia University   Roberto Rodrigues, Superior Agriculture Council of São Paulo's Federation of Industries 12:30 p.m. Lunch Break (on your own) 2:00 p.m.
Session 4: Responding to Accelerated Environmental Change in the Arctic

Moderator: Geoffrey Carr, The Economist

 

Keynote


  Jonas Gahr Støre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway  
Panel
  Eystein Jansen, University of Bergen, Norway   Peter Schlosser, The Earth Institute at Columbia University

 

4:10 p.m.

 

Closing Remarks: Jeffrey D. Sachs

    4:30 p.m. Conference Ends

4.2.08

Why long-haul food may be greener than local food with low air-miles: Shoppers choosing local over long-haul may not be as green as they think, finds our correspondent as he unravels the science. 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat occur during its production; meat is a large source of methane and nitrous oxide


Why long-haul food may be greener than local food with low air-miles
Shoppers choosing local over long-haul may not be as green as they think, finds our correspondent as he unravels the science
Richard Woods

If you buy a packet of Waitrose blueberries from Chile, it's a crime against humanity. If you nibble mange tout from Africa, you're practically murdering the planet. And if you eat apples from New Zealand, well, you're in league with the devil.

Why? Food miles, of course. It's obvious that if you buy food from thousands of miles away, the transport alone must consume vast amounts of energy, thus fuelling climate change and global meltdown. As any concerned citizen knows, think green, think local.

Or think again. Researchers are finding that food miles are far from the whole story when assessing the environmental impact of what we eat. At a conference last month on the economics of food, Chris Foster of Manchester Business School presented some startling conclusions from a review of the evidence.

The biggest environmental impact of many food products, he said, came from their production. Bulk transport by land or sea was of "low significance". And he suggested that policy-makers should "critically unpick the 'local food' agenda".

Foster points out that local production and a distribution system involving lots of vans and cars miss the environmental benefits of economies of scale. Just over a ton of goods moved six miles as part of a 22-ton lorry load generates about 14oz of CO2; moved in 50 cars, each carrying 40lb, it generates about 22lb of CO2 To many environmentalists he sounds like a heretic to be burnt at the stake (with local deadwood, naturally, and carbon capture). Food miles have, in their eyes, been a concern ever since a campaigning environmental group reported in the early 1990s that the distance travelled by our food had increased by half, but the quantity had remained roughly the same. That was partly caused by growing imports and was partly a result of supermarkets trucking food to central depots and then sending it back for sale at stores near the place where it was produced.

More recently, as fears of climate change have hotted up, foreign food miles have been an easy concept for consumers to grasp. Local good – long-haul bad.

To get a broader view, researchers now prefer what they call the "life cycle assessment" (LCA) of food products. LCA tries to encapsulate the whole environmental impact of growing, transporting, selling and consuming a product – from farm to fork.

The results are often counter-intuitive. Tomatoes grown in the natural heat of Spain have less "global warming potential" (GWP) than out-of-season British tomatoes grown in heated greenhouses.

Even more surprisingly, researchers in New Zealand claim that antipodean lamb and apples use less energy – even after being transported 12,000 miles – than the same products from Britain. A study by Lincoln University in New Zealand compared the use of fuel, electricity, pesticides, fodder, transportation, storage and other items and calculated that a ton of New Zealand apples generated the equivalent of 407lb of CO2 compared with almost 600lb for UK apples.

The difference was even more marked in lamb. The study claimed that a ton of New Zealand lamb carcass generated more than half a ton of compared with about three tons for British lamb. Much of the hugeCO2 disparity was down to the use of electricity and fertiliser in rearing the British lambs. The shipping of New Zealand lamb to the UK accounted for . only 273lb of CO2 Peter Gordon, a New Zealand chef who runs Providores restaurant in Marylebone, central London, believes that such considerations justify using imported products. "We source lamb from New Zealand as well as Wales. Food miles is a great term, but in reality the big issue is sustainability," he says. "Consumers will look at a pineapple from Ghana and won't buy it because it has terrible food miles. But the Ghanaian farmer has a tiny carbon footprint."

Various bodies, including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Carbon Trust, are trying to formulate a method for calculating LCAs for consumer labelling. A pilot scheme involving Walkers Crisps, Boots and Innocent drinks started last year and has expanded to include food giants such as Tesco and Coca-Cola.

Tomorrow the trust will announce that seven new companies, including British Sugar and Morphy Richards, are joining the scheme, either to test the measuring of their products' carbon footprints or adopt the labelling.

Before you give up all hope of shopping ethically, hold fast. There are some simple guidelines. According to Tara Garnett of the Food Climate Research Network, 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat occur during its production; meat is a large source of methane and nitrous oxide, gases which have a . In other GWP far higher than CO2 words, it doesn't matter so much where the meat comes from, but how much you consume. "In a way the message is: eat less meat," she says.

Air-freighted food is, in almost all cases, bad. It accounts for less than 1% of food transport but 11% of the from all food transport. So if it has arrived by plane, rather than seaCO2 or road, avoid it.

Packaging (or lack of it) is another area where consumers can readily make a difference, along with waste. As much as one-third of food bought in the UK is not eaten, which means that it generates greenhouses gases in its production and its decay. So shop little and often, use your leftovers and compost scraps.

However, for those who really want to make a difference, the LCA is the future. So please note: during the production of this article, no blueberries or other air-freighted products were consumed.

Additional reporting: Roger Waite

The green teen myth

"The environment's screwed, trust me," announces my 16-year-old friend when I ask him whether he wants to join the rather humble environmental society of my school. He asks the opinion of another friend who agrees that "yes, it's f*****". I continue my efforts to recruit more people but it's depressing, writes Ottilie Wilford.

Growing up in my household, in which my father insists on driving his 4x4 to the gym every day – a 10-minute journey – I have come to accept that adults are mostly beyond repair. It's up to our generation to preserve this beautiful planet.

However, the truth of the matter is that only very few of us actually care.

How can it be possible for me to attend a school that holds some of the brightest minds in the country and still feel that I am surrounded by idiots? My one eco-friend agrees that the rest are "in denial, they are lazy and like to live in their comfort zone, they like to pretend everything's all right when it's not".

I'm always telling people to spurn plastic bags, to turn off lights, to reuse paper. But my attempts to make being eco-friendly more accessible to my age group seem futile. Take shopping, for example: for the most part I try to buy clothes secondhand as an alternative to shopping at global chain stores. But my efforts to convert my friends have been met with remarks such as "Why can't Primark just go vintage?"

I sometimes feel as if I'm talking to people with their iPods on full volume, but I am determined to get their attention. I know that people may find me strange or exasperating, but I don't care.

Photovoltaics: Grid Competitive in Five Years... The solar photovoltaic industry will achieve grid parity — standalone economic viability without incentives — in under five years. This prediction was made by Stephen O’Rourke, senior analyst covering semiconductor capital equipment and materials for Deutsche Bank Securities


Photovoltaics: Grid Competitive in Five Years
Alexander E. Braun, Senior Editor -- Semiconductor International, 1/29/2008 6:40:00 AM
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NAND Flash Not Likely to Be Replaced Anytime Soon

Albert Fazio, Intel Fellow and director of memory technology development for Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group, is responsible for exploring and developing flash memory and multilevel cell memory technologies, and novel memory technology ideas. In this interview, he gives his perspectives on some of the new technologies being developed.

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The solar photovoltaic industry will achieve grid parity — standalone economic viability without incentives — in under five years. This prediction was made by Stephen O'Rourke, senior analyst covering semiconductor capital equipment and materials for Deutsche Bank Securities (New York City), at the recent Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS 2008), presented by SEMI and held in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

"This time, the solar PV industry won't fall back into obscurity as in the past," O'Rourke observed. "The technologies that exist today to generate electricity from photovoltaics are several: crystalline silicon and several thin-film approaches." The graph around which the presentation was built displayed curves representing the different technologies available to generate electricity using solar power. The curves started in 2006 and were extrapolated to 2020. "The defining metric of what's competitive in this industry is the declining cost per kW/h," O'Rourke said. "It's all about selling energy; not about cells or modules or systems."

O'Rourke looked at the average cost of grid electricity for 2006 — 8.6¢/kWh, a blended average in the United States — considering an aggregate growth rate of ~4.5% over the past seven years. He then extrapolated those growth rates into the future. "This provides us with a time frame for convergence — when solar becomes competitive with grid-supplied electricity. This happens when it gets below the average retail cost of grid electricity," he said, adding that these were conservative numbers.

According to O'Rourke, supply and demand is the linchpin of the solar photovoltaic industry. "Considerable capacity is being built, because there's a supply constraint due to an inadequate supply of refined silicon. Currently, because there is an undercapacity, things look very good, margins are great, and companies are profitable. However, that will soon lead to an oversupply situation, probably beginning in 2009, when there will be a more than adequate supply of polysilicon." O'Rourke said that this will not be what he defines as a "persistent" oversupply, but one governed by demand elasticity. "It's akin to the memory industry — prices fall, margins compress, stocks come down, balance sheets are challenged, and there is a shakeout in the industry," he said. "I estimate this will last for a couple of years."

O'Rourke stressed that he was being conservative in his predictions, particularly because it is impossible to factor the appearance of a new technology. "When new technologies step into an industry, they can alter the entire dynamic, change the cost-reduction curve," he said. "I don't anticipate this within the next five years. But if we have such a shakeout, all the cost curves can get shifted down and bring convergence much sooner." However, O'Rourke was careful to point out that when photovoltaics reach grid parity, the technology will still be used as a peak power supplement, not a base load supplement. "But photovoltaics are a real industry now, and one that will have explosive growth once it reaches that convergence point." The analyst described photovoltaics as the oldest new industry because it has been around for half a century. "It is now in an initial growth phase. We've seen enormous funding of new capacity growth, new companies and new issues coming to market. I think we're on the downswing of this as we start to anticipate an oversupply situation. This has happened both for crystalline silicon and thin-film technologies," he said.

When this occurs, stocks will drop, consolidation will take place, corporate finances will be reduced, and the whole industry will regear for what will eventually be a rapid growth phase. "This is where it all begins," O'Rourke said. "Subsequently, you'll have an industry that resembles the semiconductor industry, with cyclicality over time."

Synopsis of the solar photovoltaic industry over the next 10 years. (Source: Deutsche Bank Securities)

O'Rourke examined the capital required and the significance for equipment companies that may be trying to address this expected growth. "If we look at a fairly standard profile of growth and capacity in this industry, up to about a terawatt worth of installed capacity within 20 years — ~4% of electricity generation with present growth rates in the global electricity market — what we have is a capacity build. Now we must build out the capex per watt. In 2006, it cost between $1.25 and $1.50 per watt to put a factory in place. Over time, that will come down. Within 20 years, it may cost well under $0.50 per watt to put in capacity."

This comes to a capex profile that can kick out ~$10-$11 B per year; the equipment profile is ~80% of that. "So you have roughly a $10B equipment market that is nowhere near to the $30-$40B equipment market for the wafer fab equipment industry," O'Rourke said. "Based upon the profile of a commodity industry [which is what this is] and the value that the equipment provides in this industry, there is a lower margin profile."

However, he added, everything points up from there.

Forrester article: Creating The Green IT Action Plan


Thanks to Nitin, sorry for duplicates



AMAT/Applied Materials buys Italian solar gear maker


Applied Materials buys Italian solar gear maker
Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:24pm EST
 
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday it acquired Italian solar equipment maker Baccini SpA for $334 million, as the No. 1 chip equipment maker seeks to build its solar business.
Applied Materials Chief Executive Mike Splinter said in a statement that the acquisition should speed his company's efforts to become the leading supplier to the solar industry.
With the purchase and its array of solar cell technologies, Applied plans to cut the production costs for crystalline silicon cell and thin film modules while also decreasing the grams-per-watt usage of silicon material, the company said.
Silicon is among the principal ingredients in solar cells.
Splinter told Reuters in a Jan. 17 interview that the Santa Clara, California-based company aims to grow its solar business to a revenue level of $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion annually by 2010.
He also said at the time that he expected Applied's solar business to be "pretty strong this year."
Privately held Baccini will be folded into Applied's Solar Business Group, which makes equipment used to produce solar cells.
Splinter also said on Thursday that Applied's goals include driving down the cost of solar electricity to make it competitive with conventional electricity sources, and speeding the adoption of solar technology in homes and businesses.
Shares of Applied were down 7 cents to $17.85 in afternoon Nasdaq trade. (Reporting by Duncan Martell; editing by John Wallace)
 

IBM Establishes Global Center of Excellence for Water Management in the Netherlands: the Center will help IBM's public sector clients worldwide to develop enhanced prediction and protection systems for low-lying coastal areas and river deltas.


Thanks to Ulisses and Colin

IBM Establishes Global Center of Excellence for Water Management in the Netherlands
Marketwire
New Collaborative Venture to Address Coastal and River Delta Water Management Issues
February 01, 2008: 10:11 AM EST

In response to growing concerns over climate change and its potential impact on low-lying coastal regions, IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it will establish an IBM Global Center of Excellence for Water Management in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Drawing on IBM consulting, technology and research expertise, the Center will help IBM's public sector clients worldwide to develop enhanced prediction and protection systems for low-lying coastal areas and river deltas.

Coastal areas are considered under greater risk of flooding due to rising sea levels and extreme weather episodes associated with the onset of climate change.

"With more than 60 percent of the world's population living in coastal and low lying delta areas, the need for improved water management systems is an increasing priority," said Sharon Nunes, vice president, IBM Big Green Innovations. "Working with the Dutch government and other local agencies, IBM will apply its talent and expertise to address this complex challenge through application of smart technologies and innovative approaches that include 3-D internet and serious gaming.

"The Netherlands possesses world-leading expertise in coastal protection. Establishing the Center in Amsterdam enables IBM to utilize not only our own talent and innovation but also to draw on high-level skills of local experts and engineers. This is consistent with IBM's globally integrated enterprise strategy -- drawing on local specialist skills and knowledge to serve our clients worldwide."

The Center will play a key role in delivery of the Dutch Government's Flood Control 2015 water innovation program announced today. Under the program, participants from Dutch business, education and government agencies will collaborate with the goal of preventing low lying delta areas from flooding.

At the outset, the IBM Center will focus on providing Dutch government and disaster control agencies with improved flood forecasting and prediction modeling. It will draw upon IBM expertise in smart sensors and utilize serious gaming technology and 3D internet skills to create realistic modeling and simulations. Over time, the Center will develop additional water management offerings, which will be available to IBM clients worldwide.

"The Dutch have more than 400 years of expertise and tradition in our struggle against water. More than 55% of the Netherlands is below sea level and some 70% of our GDP is produced in this low-lying region. We have always had the need, the expertise and the national commitment to address this issue. Now we need to mobilize business, consultants and researchers to leverage knowledge and expertise available worldwide. IBM's decision to establish a Center of Excellence in Amsterdam will greatly assist this collaborative goal," said Arie Kraaijeveld, Chairman Netherlands Water Partnership.

IBM's involvement in Water Management is part of its 'Big Green Innovations' initiative. Announced in October 2006 as part of IBM's $100 million investment in 10 new businesses generated by InnovationJam, Big Green Innovations is the fruition of an unprecedented experiment in collaborative innovation.

Big Green Innovations has concentrated its efforts on water management, alternative energy and carbon management. It is one of several IBM initiatives dedicated to energy and environmental issues. These include Energy Efficient Technology and Services, Intelligent Utilities and Intelligent Transport.

Projects in which the Big Green Innovations team is involved include a client engagement with the Beacon Institute to establish a technology-based observatory system to allow for minute-to-minute monitoring of New York's Hudson River via an integrated network of sensors and robotics. In addition, as part of IBM's corporate citizenship programs, a collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to create a new computer-modeling framework will allow users to simulate the behavior of river basins around the world, helping inform policy and management decisions that conserve the natural environment and benefit the people who rely on these resources.

About IBM

Industries already affected by water stress, warns UN: nuclear power plants in Europe and the US face shutdown due to lack of cooling water supplies; the push for biofuels is consuming increasing amounts of water


Thanks to Erwin


http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MjgzMTM


Industries already affected by water stress, warns UN

EurActiv.com, 31 January 2008 - The water challenge has climbed up the corporate agenda as nuclear power plants in Europe and the US face shutdown due to lack of cooling water supplies. What's more, the push for biofuels is consuming increasing amounts of water, warned Kaveh Zahedi from the UN Environment Programme.

"The challenge of water has been with us for a long time. So why has it suddenly propelled itself onto the radar of senior industry figures and in the past few days become a top agenda item for multi-national corporations?," asked Zahedi at a meeting of the European Parliament Climate Change Committee on 29 January 2008.

The committee's thematic session gathered MEPs and experts to discuss the links between global warming, water scarcity and sustainable economic development.

Answering his own question, Zahedi said that the sudden interest comes from previously experienced and predicted economic impacts and the financial implications of the water challenge for corporations.

"Currently, at least 24 nuclear plants in the south-eastern United States face shutdown or drastically limited operations because severe drought conditions have lowered the levels of lakes and rivers that supply cooling water - that's 23% of the nation's 104 nuclear power plants. Last year in Italy, the River Po ran so low there were plans to shut down power plants there," he said, listing examples. "Only a few weeks ago, big ships marooned as a result of the drought in China," he added.

Regarding the contribution of biofuels to water stress, Zahedi said that even though some consider them to be a "silver bullet in terms of combating global warming [...], biofuels urgently need sustainability criteria". He noted that it can take 1,000 litres of water to make a litre of biofuel.

Zahedi said that biofuels should not simply be quickly banned but "we should have full information on the implications of our decisions". "A full life-cycle assessment of biofuels" will be one of the first tasks of the recently established International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, he added.

Links

EU

International organisations


Air Canada Carbon Offset Program by ZeroFootprint


http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/traveller/zfp.html?src=hp_ql

Carbon Offset Program


Each flight you take produces carbon dioxide (CO2), which contributes to climate change. At Air Canada we believe customers should have the option of offsetting the effects of their flight.

We have joined efforts with Zerofootprint, a not-for-profit organization that uses high standards in carbon offsetting, to help you mitigate the environmental footprint of your travel.

During December 2007, Air Canada also matched your voluntary carbon offset contribution dollar for dollar. Together we contributed $44,492.80, representing an additional 2,780.8 tonnes of CO2 offset or the equivalent of planting 556 trees, or taking an additional 908 cars off the road for one year.
We want to thank you for your continued loyalty and for your contribution to the environment!

 

Program results as of January 28, 2008


 
Since the launch of the program in May 2007, Air Canada customers have made a meaningful contribution to the fight against climate change by contributing thousands of dollars to a forest restoration project in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.

Carbon offset purchases full year
 
Tonnes of
CO
2 offset
 
Trees
planted
 
Equivalent to taking this many cars off the road for a year
$101286 = 6330 = 1266 = 2069


 

Offset your Carbon Emissions

Learn more about the Zerofootprint project. You can calculate the cost of your share of the emissions created by your flight and purchase corresponding offsets.


Air Canada's Commitment to the Environment

The Carbon Offset program is just one of the ways in which Air Canada is working to minimize the environmental impact of its operations. Other initiatives include:

  • Removing weight from aircraft and employing flight management systems for more fuel-efficient approaches and take-offs which contributes to reducing aircraft emissions.
  • The use of hybrid technology and less polluting fuels for our ground support vehicles.
  • Continued improvements to the fuel efficiency of our fleet with the introduction of the Boeing 777 and Embraer aircraft. Since 1990 Air Canada has improved aircraft fuel efficiency by 28%.

Carbon offsets are purchased from Zerofootprint, and not Air Canada. Air Canada is merely facilitating the purchase by customers of such credits. All the conditions included in the Notice section on aircanada.com apply.

Global Top 100 most sustainable companies


Thanks to Annamari

http://www.global100.org/2008/by_industry.asp

(IBM is not listed in the IT companies yet HP, SAP, Intel, Nokia are. Also many of our clients are in the list.)


The 2008 List by Sector/Industry

The Global 100 list for 2008 (alphabetical | by country | by sector/industry)

Company Name
Country
GICS© Sector
Accor France Consumer Discretionary
Adidas Salomon Agency Germany Consumer Discretionary
Denso Corp. Japan Consumer Discretionary
Honda Motor Company Limited Japan Consumer Discretionary
Matsushita Electric Industrial Company Japan Consumer Discretionary
Sekisui Chemical Company Limited Japan Consumer Discretionary
Toyota Motor Corp. Japan Consumer Discretionary
Inditex SA Spain Consumer Discretionary
H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB Sweden Consumer Discretionary
Reed Elsevier PLC UK/Netherlands Consumer Discretionary
British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC United Kingdom Consumer Discretionary
Marks & Spencer Group PLC United Kingdom Consumer Discretionary
Mitchells & Butlers PLC United Kingdom Consumer Discretionary
Yell Group PLC United Kingdom Consumer Discretionary
Eastman Kodak Company United States Consumer Discretionary
Nike Inc United States Consumer Discretionary
Walt Disney Company United States Consumer Discretionary
Kesko Corp. Finland Consumer Staples
L'Oreal France Consumer Staples
Nestle Switzerland Consumer Staples
Diageo PLC United Kingdom Consumer Staples
Sainsbury (J) PLC United Kingdom Consumer Staples
Unilever PLC United Kingdom Consumer Staples
Coca Cola Company United States Consumer Staples
OMV AG Austria Energy
Nexen Inc Canada Energy
Transcanada Corp. Canada Energy
Neste Oil Corporation Finland Energy
Saipem Italy Energy
Royal Dutch Shell PLC United Kingdom Energy
Australia And New Zealand Banking Group Australia Financials
Babcock & Brown Australia Financials
Insurance Australia Group Australia Financials
Westpac Banking Corp. Australia Financials
Dexia Belgium Financials
Royal Bank Of Canada Canada Financials
Credit Agricole SA France Financials
Societe Generale France Financials
Deutsche Boerse AG Germany Financials
ING Groep NV Netherlands Financials
Fabege AB Sweden Financials
Swiss Reinsurance Company Switzerland Financials
3I Group PLC United Kingdom Financials
British Land Company PLC United Kingdom Financials
Cattles PLC United Kingdom Financials
Hbos PLC United Kingdom Financials
Land Securities PLC United Kingdom Financials
Liberty International PLC United Kingdom Financials
Royal Bank of Scotland United Kingdom Financials
American International Group Inc United States Financials
State Street Corp. United States Financials
Novo Nordisk A/S Denmark Health Care
Fresenius Medical Care AG Germany Health Care
Roche Holdings Limited Switzerland Health Care
Smith & Nephew PLC United Kingdom Health Care
Baxter International Inc United States Health Care
Genzyme Corp. United States Health Care
MTR Corporation Limited China Industrials
Vestas Windsystems A/S Denmark Industrials
Air France-KLM France Industrials
Deutsche Post AG Germany Industrials
Atlantia Italy Industrials
Daikin Industries Limited Japan Industrials
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Limited Japan Industrials
Nippon Yusen KK Japan Industrials
NSK Limited Japan Industrials
Toppan Printing Company Limited Japan Industrials
Acciona SA Spain Industrials
Atlas Copco AB Sweden Industrials
Scania AB Sweden Industrials
Serco Group PLC United Kingdom Industrials
The Capita Group PLC United Kingdom Industrials
General Electric Company United States Industrials
United Technologies Corp. United States Industrials
Nokia Corporation Finland Information Technology
Tietoenator OYJ Finland Information Technology
SAP AG Germany Information Technology
Ricoh Company Limited Japan Information Technology
Electrocomponents PLC United Kingdom Information Technology
Advanced Micro Devices United States Information Technology
Agilent Technologies Inc United States Information Technology
Hewlett-Packard Company United States Information Technology
Intel Corp. United States Information Technology
Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG Austria Materials
Novozymes A/S Denmark Materials
Lafarge France Materials
BASF AG Germany Materials
Kuraray Company Limited Japan Materials
SCA AB Sweden Materials
Rio Tinto PLC UK/Australia Materials
Johnson Matthey PLC United Kingdom Materials
Alcoa Inc United States Materials
NTT Docomo Inc Japan Telecommunication Services
BT Group PLC United Kingdom Telecommunication Services
Cable & Wireless PLC United Kingdom Telecommunication Services
Fortum Corp. Finland Utilities
Iberdrola SA Spain Utilities
Centrica PLC United Kingdom Utilities
FPL Group Inc United States Utilities
Pinnacle West Capital Corp. United States Utilities