Sustainable Energy for Development: People, organizations, and projects active in environmentally benign energy sources for developing countries.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Bruce Sterling update:
Now calling his concept "cybergreens": "They're all about creating irresistible consumer demand for cool objects that will yield a global atmosphere upgrade. It's the Net vs. the 20th-century fossil order in a fight that the cybergreens are winning. Why? Because they're not about spiritual potential, human decency, small is beautiful, peace, justice or anything else unattainable. The cybergreens are about stuff people want, such as health, sex, glamour, hot products, awesome bandwidth, tech innovation and tons of money.
We're gonna glam, spend and consume our way into planetary survival. My own favorite sci-fi planetary-saving scheme
for naming, numbering and linking to the Internet every piece of junk we create so that it can be corralled and briskly recycled, creating a cradle-to-cradle postindustrial order and averting planetary doom, may sound pretty shocking and alien. But I wrote that book while in residency at a famous design school. I received an honorary doctorate there and the book was published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It gets great reviews, designers love it. It's not even science fiction -- it's a cybergreen manifesto.
In 1998, I had it figured that the dot-com boom would become a dot-green boom. It took a while for others to get it. Some still don't. They think I'm joking. They are still used to thinking of greenness as being "counter" and "alternative" -- they don't understand that 21st-century green is and must be about everything -- the works. Sustainability is comprehensive. That which is not sustainable doesn't go on. Glamorous green." 11:15:08 PM
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
RPS outside the US:
"- China will increase its use of renewables as part of a national plan to combat climate change, says the country’s environment minister Xie Zhenhua. .. he says the Chinese government will announce a national plan with concrete targets to improve energy efficiency by 20% by 2010 and to increase the proportion of renewables to 10%.
- Taiwan Power will spend NT$3.6 billion to install solar panels .. Taiwan imports 98% of its energy and the government wants renewables to generate 12% by 2025. .. The government owns 97% of Taipower, which generates three-quarters of the island’s electricity.
- The World Wind Energy Agency has welcomed the decision by the European Union to increase the continent’s share of renewables to 20% by 2020." 7:58:26 AM
South Africa: Cape green power plans:
"Eskom, local authorities and the private sector are set to launch renewable energy projects that will add at least 350 megawatts of electricity to the national energy grid. The Western Cape uses around 4 000MW of electricity daily, while the entire country uses around 34 000MW, which can go up to 40 000MW at peak demand [somewhat less than California]. In the recent past there have been regular power outages as Eskom battles to meet the growing demand for electricity.
The planned renewable energy projects include two 100MW wind
farms on the West Coast, a 100MW solar thermal
plant in the Northern Cape and a 50MW solar thermal
plant on the West Coast. .. The department is keen to launch projects that will ensure that 15 percent of the region's electricity needs will be met by clean and renewable sources by 2015."
Meanwhile the giant projects being coming online today
are not so green; coal dwarfs them all: "The two Western Cape liquid-fuel open-cycle gas turbine stations would collectively add another 1050 megaWatts of power to the national grid. Ingula Power Station .. will be a pump-storage hydro-electric scheme, with a generating capacity of 1330 mW. .. The 4200 mW coal
-fired power station in Lephalele would be named Medupi, meaning "the name that soaks parched land"." 7:41:23 AM
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Wal-Mart promotes CFLs:
More info about WalMart and compact fluorescent lightbulbs. An example of how irrational consumer choice is, by seeing how easily it's manipulated by merchandising; and how both environmental and economic results are far from optimal in a "free" market. "Wal-Mart sold only 40 million [CF bulbs] in 2005, compared with about 350 million incandescent bulbs..
At the same time that it pressured suppliers, Wal-Mart began testing ways to better market the bulbs. In the past, Wal-Mart had sold them on the bottom shelf of the lighting aisle, so that shoppers had to bend down. In tests that started in February, it gave the lights prime real estate at eye level. Sales soared.
To show customers how versatile the bulbs could be, Wal-Mart began displaying them inside the lamps and hanging fans for sale in its stores. Sales nudged up further.
To explain the benefits of the energy-efficient bulbs, the retailer placed an education display case at the end of the aisle, where it occupied four feet of valuable selling space — an extravagance at Wal-Mart. Sales climbed even higher.
In August 2006, the chain sold 3.94 million, nearly twice the 1.65 million it sold in August 2005.." They need to double again to hit 100m in a year. 11:58:00 PM
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Joel Makower commercializes greenbiz.com:
The green info market matures. "I've just launched a for-profit media company, Greener World Media, which has taken over publishing of GreenBiz.com, et al, from their nonprofit home, the esteemed National Environmental Education & Training Foundation, where the sites had lived happily for the past five years.
Why a for-profit? In 1998-99, when the idea for GreenBiz.com was germinating, there was no business model for giving away information on the Internet. That clearly didn't stop a lot of people, but it stopped me. So, I created "the resource center on business, the environment, and the bottom line," as we dubbed ourselves, as a not-for-profit resource, relying on grants, sponsorships, and the kindness of strangers.
That model worked for a while, but it wasn't sustainable. (There's precious little philanthropic money available, at least in the green world, for a nonprofit organization whose prime mission is to serve the needs of business.) And things have changed: There is a business model now for online information services, based on advertising, sponsorship, and other revenue sources. And the world of green and sustainable business has exploded, with plenty of new products, services, and company initiatives to be promoted." This is good news. In my 2001-2 Stanford Digital Vision fellowship, I concluded that information sources for sustainable energy were needed, and were on their way thanks to tech advances in blogging and the natural growth of the community. In the last 2 years, I've trimmed my own blogging in the topic area as others have other voices and services have grown. Now it seems to be completely mainstream. 12:07:01 AM
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Small car 'Reva' gets big funds:
"Venture funds are now seeing value beyong hot wireless and internet companies in India. India’s first and only electric car manufacturer, REVA Electric Car Company
, has attracted a $ 20 m investment from Draper Fisher Jurveston, Global Environment Fund (GEF) and Mellon HBV Master Global Event Drive Fund LP, according to officials. The company, which is joint venture between the Bangalore-based Maini group and the California-based AEV LLC, is looking at expanding overseas and consolidating its position in global markets with this funding. .. This is GEF’s first investment in India. ..
Reva has sold around 1000 cars in the domestic market and 600 in overseas markets. Apart from the United Kingdom, the company is targetting exports to USA, Norway, Switzerland, Cyprus, Japan, Srilanka and Malta. Its manufacturing plant, located in Banglaore, has an installed capacity of about 6,000 units. .. The entry model is priced around Rs 3 lakh [$6800]. Last year, the company collaborated with designer Dilip Chhabria and Encore, maker of the smallest tablet PC, to launch Reva-NXG. The model gives an extended 200 km per charge compared to the 80 km that is available on the entry model." 7:41:04 AM
WaterHealth International Closes Series C Funding:
, Inc. (WHI)
today announced the final close of its Series C funding for a total
equity investment of more than $11 million. SAIL Venture Partners,
L.P., anchored the latest investment of $4 million. Series A investor
Plebys International LLC, founded and led by WHI CEO Tralance Addy,
also invested in this round. The new investments are in addition to
the $7.25 million equity investment anchored by Dow Venture Capital
that WHI announced last month.
WHI has more than 450 installations of its water purification and
disinfection systems in developing countries around the world. This
additional funding further strengthens WHI and will allow for
accelerated growth in the company's target markets, primarily India and
South Asia, West Africa, the Philippines and Mexico." This is the product developed by Ashok Gadgil, which I've been following for a few years. Glad to see it get substantial backing. 12:25:16 AM
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Low temp geothermal:
"PureCycle® geothermal power plant at Chena
Hot Springs Resort in Alaska was selected as Project of the Year in the
renewable/sustainable energy category by Power Engineering magazine. .. The Chena
Hot Springs Resort in Alaska has the first geothermal power plant in
the state. It also is the site of the lowest temperature geothermal
resource (165°F) ever used for commercial power generation in the
world. The resort’s UTC Power PureCycle® geothermal system was
commissioned in August and provides power for the resort’s on-site
electrical needs. All 44 buildings at the resort – including a
greenhouse, hotel, cabins and ice museum – are linked by a geothermal
district heating system.
" More info:
"Although output from the installation is considered small for a base
load power plant, the Chena plant represents a huge leap forward for
moderate geothermal development and greatly expands the number of
geothermal resources that can be economically developed. Prior to the
operation of the power plant at Chena, the lowest temperature
geothermal resource ever developed for commercial power generation was
208 F." 9:29:11 AM
ADB lending for renewables growing:
"A financing facility of US$510 million has been approved to develop renewable energy resources in Pakistan.
ADB (Asian Development Bank) will establish the ‘Renewable Energy
Development Sector Investment Program’ to expand power supply in rural
areas through 600,000 new connections to 4.8 million people. The
multitranche financing facility is one of the first to be developed
under ADB's evolving clean energy initiative, through which ADB plans
to expand operations in developing countries to $1 billion per year. “Small-
to medium-sized hydropower plants offer the greatest renewable energy
potential for Pakistan, while possibilities also exist in promoting
greater use of wind, solar, and biomass power,” says Piya
Abeygunawardena of ADB." 9:17:16 AM
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
European Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund
: "The European Commission today proposed the creation of a Global
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF), which will
accelerate the transfer, development and deployment of environmentally
sound technologies. .. It will contribute to bringing
clean, secure and affordable energy supplies to the 1.6 billion people
around the world who have no access to electricity. ..
The need for risk
capital in developing countries and transition economies is estimated
at over €9 billion, far above current levels... GEEREF [will provide] new
risk-sharing and co-financing options .. Priority will be
given to deploying environmentally sound technologies with a proven
technical track record. GEEREF will stimulate the creation of regional sub-funds tailored to
regional needs and conditions, rather than investing in projects
directly. Sub-funds are envisaged for the African, Caribbean and
Pacific (ACP) region, North Africa, non-EU Eastern Europe, Latin
America and Asia. The focus will be on investments below €10 million as
these are mostly ignored by commercial investors and international
finance institutions. Corporate finance will be offered to support
small and medium-sized enterprises as well as project finance
These projects will also combat climate change and air pollution.
The Commission intends to kick-start the fund with a contribution of up
to €80 million over the next four years, and expects that financing
from other public and private sources will take funding to at least
€100 million. This means that it will contribute to the financing of
investment projects of a value up to 1 billion euro. " 8:22:14 AM
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Foresight for UK venture capital investment funding for sustainability:
"Foresight Sustainable Development [fund] is aimed at very High Net Worth investors and their advisers looking to invest in excess of £100,000 in unquoted growth situations in sustainable markets. This will be structured as a Limited Partnership to avoid the constraints of a VCT. It will exploit opportunities in renewable energy, energy efficiency, the recycling of materials and energy security. It will invest across project finance, new technologies and service businesses.
Matt Taylor, partner at Foresight, explains: “In the clean fuels arena, many investors seem to be driving up the valuations of “blue sky” technologies. Our approach is different: we are concentrating on infrastructure projects and the exploitation of proven technologies. Sustainable development is an investment cycle for the long-term and we will invest only when the balance of risk and reward is right. This is going to be a small, tightly-focussed fund which should be fully invested over 12-18 months.” It launches in early October 06. 12:26:07 AM
Friday, September 15, 2006
Wind Blade Technology
: I started looking into sustainable energy in 2001, and found an active community that was open to sharing its findings and that was starting to use the internet to communicate. As I learned about RSS and weblogs, I thought that this area, like many in the IT world, would see weblogs grow, and with them a spontaneous division of labor to speed the spread of new developments would emerge. Blogs from universities, corporations, development institutions, non-profits, and from motivated independents would identify and highlight findings that mattered in specialized areas, and others who would otherwise search original sources would save time and effort by reading their blogs.
In the last 12 months, that dynamic has taken hold in sustainable energy. Starting in 2001, I kept a blog collecting important results I discovered in emerging energy technologies
and developing country energy
options, but now I find others are keeping close track and I can just follow their investigations. They include venture capitalists
, investment companies
, and independent engineers
The Wind Blade blog (above) from six employees of Owens-Corning is an advanced example. They work in different countries, but all concentrate on the materials from which the blades of wind turbines are built. They write: "We accept the value of renewable wind energy as a given and we are
committed to helping it become more cost competitive and widely used." They work in a specialized but critical technology. Why? Well, the output of a wind turbine is proportional to the area swept by its blades, which is the square of the length, so even small increases in blade length matter. Longer blades need materials that are strong, light, and rigid enough to turn in moderate winds while flexible enough to bend rather than break in strong winds. New materials for blades continue to make wind power more economically compelling every year.
It will be interesting to see if these bloggers find an audience among other engineers, and if they retain their corporate backing. 11:21:18 PM
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Massive collection of news stories, blog links, and articles on renewables and clean tech. Includes some unique content, like an analysis
of the implications of today's solar silicon shortage, which "will likely end at some time from 2008 to 2010" when production levels are expected to at least double. "it is reasonable to suppose that the solar silicon shortage will
continue in 2007, but will be greatly reduced in 2008 and will come to
an end by 2010," which has some implications for thin-film producers. "In industrialized nations with solar incentives, such as the USA,
Germany, and Japan, the trend is towards a need for smaller and higher
efficiency solar panels, which means that silicon is best suited for
this market. In the developing world the need is for cheaper solar
panels that may take up more space, so that low cost thin films are
best suited for that market." 12:36:27 AM
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Getting in early as China cleans up: "Stories on environmental disasters come out of China and other Asian developing countries regularly. A review of impacts and the resulting investments: "Environmental damage from pollution is costing China the equivalent of 7.7 percent of gross domestic product annually .. Other sobering statistics in the report, called "Connecting Asia," include estimates of 6.4 million work years lost annually in China to air pollution, 178,000 premature deaths in major cities every year caused by the use of high-sulfur coal and the fact that 52 urban river stretches have been so contaminated that they are no longer suitable for irrigation. ..
[Investment manager] Sorenson said that in terms of environmental standards, "China is now where the U.S. was in the late 1960s" [when disasters and new laws] changed the way U.S. companies conducted business. A similar process was seen in Japan, spurred by the Tokyo Olympic Games of 1964, and in South Korea, when Seoul was host of the Olympics in 1988. There is much hope that the 2008 Games in Beijing will prove as seminal in China's environmental development. .. In November, [China's] State Environmental Protection Administration estimated that the government would spend around $156 billion in environmental protection from 2006 to 2010. ..
Sorenson's FE Clean Energy Group is currently putting together an Asia fund, which Sorenson expects to total around $75 million. .. [Another is] the China Environment Fund, set up in 2001 by Tsinghua Venture Capital Management, a fund management company affiliated with Tsinghua University in Beijing. Catherine Cao, executive director of the firm, said that its third fund should be ready by the end of 2006 and aims to raise $50 million. Two previous funds [were] $13 million and $30 million..
The easiest means of entry for small investors still remains the mutual fund. The Impax Environmental Markets fund of £45 million, or $79 million, rose by around 32 percent in 2005. Among its biggest holdings are Casella Waste, a U.S. waste disposal company, Kurita Water of Japan and Horiba, a Japanese environmental testing company." Other options: big utilities, especially European, operating in Asia; Shenzhen Dongjiang Environmental, listed in Hong Kong; canada's Zenon Environmental; Nordex of Germany; solar companies Kyocera and Sharp. [via Salon] 11:33:41 AM
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Nanotechnology for Development:
More groups are studying the potential impact of nanotech on developing countries. The World Bank Development Gateway has a site, with a few familar names (editor John Daly
, and advisor Anil Srivastava
) . The Merdian Institute Nanotechnology and Development News
provides daily updates via RSS or email. From a Press Release:
" Several recent reports, including the report of the UN Millennium Project Task Force on Science, Technology, and Innovation, conclude that science and technology, in particular nanotechnology, can contribute significantly to alleviating poverty and achieving the MDGs. "The use of nanotechnology applications for water treatment and remediation; energy storage, production, and conversion; disease diagnosis and screening; drug delivery systems; health monitoring; air pollution and remediation; food processing and storage; vector and pest detection and control; and agricultural productivity enhancement will help developing countries meet five of the Goals," states the Task Force Report. .. Over 20 countries, including innovative developing countries such as China, South Africa, Brazil, and India, have national nanotechnology programs.." 9:23:34 AM
Thursday, December 08, 2005
World Bank renewables support growing: It's from a very small base. There's lots to un-spin in the press release. Here we go. "The World Bank Group committed US$212 million to new renewable energy projects this year .. [WBG] funded $87 million in energy efficiency and another $449 million for large hydro (over 10 MW capacity) in the most recent fiscal year, for a combined total of $748 million compared with $339 million in the previous year. Total commitments to the three sectors since 1990 exceed $9 billion." So the annual average for 15 years was $9b/15=$600m, and the last 2 years together were average.
"Total energy sector commitments of $2.8 billion [were] made this year. .. WBG committed to increase its support for new renewables and energy efficiency by an average of 20% per year from 2005 to 2009. That commitment was made in Bonn, Germany in June 2004" At at 20% growth rate, it won't even equal the $2.5b of conventional and large hydro for 12 years! Pretty lame.
By region this year: East Asia & Pacific $129 m; Africa $46m; South Asia $16m; Latin America & Caribbean $15 m; Europe & Central Asia received $6m; Middle East & North Africa $1 m. So, only nominal support outside Asia and Africa.
"The lowest level of funding for new renewables was in 1991, when $2 million was supported, while the high was in 2000 at $444 million. The highest level for energy efficiency was $380 million in 1996, while hydro received $938 million in 1993. .. 8:40:28 AM
The report includes the support provided by the six regional energy units of the WBG, International Finance Corporation, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, Carbon Finance operations, Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme, and the Asia Alternative & Sustainable Energy Program. It notes that each dollar of WBG financing leveraged $5 from private investors, governments and others. ..
Forty renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in 28 countries were supported, with the smallest being the Yemen Rural Electrification & Renewable Energy Development Project, and the highest being$137 million for the first phase of the Renewable Energy Scale-up Program in support of China’s commitment to increase its share of renewables from 7% of generation capacity to 15% by 2020."
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
South African disposable solar cells: I've been interested for some time in renewable power sources that are less expensive up front, even if more expensive over the long run. The lower up-front commitment cuts risk, allows more experimentation, and more room for incremental technological improvements. It also supports a wider range of business models based on recurring revenues.
"SCIENTISTS at the University of Cape Town are exploiting the nano-scale properties of silicon to develop a super-thin disposable solar panel poster which they hope could offer rural dwellers a cheap, alternative source of power. .. The scientists have developed technology for printing specialised inks containing tiny nanoparticles of silicon and other semiconductors onto paper. The solar panels are printed in much the same way as conventional colour images.. They print the metal contacts, then the semiconductor structure, then more contacts.
The voltage and power output of the solar cell is determined by the size of the poster. An A2-sized poster [15.9 x 22.3 ins or 40.38 x 56.64 cms] will deliver up to 100W of power, enough to charge a cellphone, power a radio or provide five hours of lighting, said Prof David Britton, a physicist specialising in nanotechnology.
“Many families cannot afford R1000 for a solar panel designed to last 30 years, but they can afford R10 (US$1.50) every three to six months for a ‘disposable’ panel,” he said. Shops could stock rolls of solar panel posters, and cut it to meet a customer’s needs. The poster could be mounted behind a window or attached to a cabinet. Britton’s team has built a successful prototype and is seeking to commercialise the project" 11:00:27 AM
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Global Renewable Energy Policies and Measures
: New from the IEA with info from 100 countries. Coverage:
"There are 34 countries listed with targets for renewables, ranging from Austria which wants 78.1% of its electricity to come from renewables by 2010, to the target of 3.6% in Hungary for the same period. Mali wants 15% of its total primary energy supply to come from renewables by 2020 and Singapore will install 50,000 m2 of solar thermal systems by 2012." 10:26:18 PM
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Sri Lanka government focus on renewables
: "The National Council for Economic Development (NCED) has put together the top energy experts in the country to find ways of harnessing Sri Lanka' s energy resources by forming a "Renewable Energy Cluster" under the NCED Secretariat. .. Director of NCED Rohantha Athukorala said 'To insulate the country from devastating price surges in international oil markets, Sri Lanka must increase self reliance in energy and improve energy diversity. In 2004, the nation relied on imported diesel based thermal power to meet 56% of its requirements. .. The team's objective is to develop a national strategy to exploit indigenous renewable energy resources - namely hydro, dendro, wind and solar - for both grid-connected and off-grid generation. " While the emphasis is on indigenous renewables, cheap imported coal is also mentioned as an alternative. I recall a recent UNEP study
mapping large wind resources in Sri Lanka. 8:53:01 AM
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
China's Little Green Book: "Green China will be much more challenging than Red China.. The China Daily reported that China's 11th five-year plan, which starts soon, includes a program to sharply reduce China's energy usage per unit of G.D.P. by 2010. "To hit the target, a huge business potential will be open to investors," [said] Zhou Dadi, director of China's top energy research institute.. "China is growing three times as fast as we are," Mr. Watson said, "[so] a lot of innovation is going to happen here, and once it is introduced [on the low-cost China platform] it is going to spread a lot faster. ... The Japanese and Europeans are here in a big way, and they are giving their stuff away. ... We deserve to lose. We are clutching our past with these tremulous hands, and everyone else is vigorously grasping the future." 11:45:08 PM
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy
: "The Ashden Awards reward outstanding, inspirational and innovative local sustainable energy schemes that both protect the environment, tackle climate change and make real improvements to people's quality of life. The Awards are designed to encourage wider take-up of local energy solutions worldwide - proving to the public and policy makers alike that such schemes offer viable, practical ways of tackling poverty, resource shortages and climate change. In 2005, we are offering up to £250,000 in prizes to renewable energy and energy efficiency schemes in both the developing world and the UK. " First annual awards were 2001. 2005 awards announced in June, mostly for commnunity projects or commercialization efforts in developing countries. Associated with Forum for the Future
. 12:01:01 AM
Friday, September 09, 2005
Friday, September 02, 2005
In the search for new energy, China rides the wind: "China has made big investments in petroleum production in countries as far-flung as Sudan and Venezuela. But at home, where petroleum is growing scarce and overdependence on coal chokes the air of major cities - and killed 6,009 miners last year - the Chinese government is moving just as aggressively to develop alternative energy supplies..
By 2020, starting from a minuscule base that it has established only recently, China expects to supply 10 percent of its needs from so-called renewable energy sources, including wind, solar energy and small hydroelectric dams. .. So far, wind power is making the most impressive strides ..
"We have huge goals for wind power development," said Wang Zhongying, director of China's Center for Renewable Energy Development. "By 2010, we plan to reach 4,000 megawatts, and by 2020 we expect to reach 20,000 megawatts, or 20 gigawatts." If anything, Wang said, these targets are too conservative, and may be easily surpassed. The biggest limitations, he said, were not in China's wind-power potential, or in its generating technology, but rather in the country's antiquated power grid ..
The outcome has been a real boom among suppliers of wind power equipment. "We're expecting the sector to grow 50 to 75 percent a year between now and 2020," said Jens Olsen, the chief representative of Vestas, a Danish turbine manufacturer that is the leading equipment supplier in China." 8:14:41 PM
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Jatropha Biodiesel Energy Crops - D1 Oils: Company pursing Jatropha bean production in many developing countries, for biodiesel production. Listed in late 2004 on the London Stock Exchange, raising about $20m. "D1 Oils will produce biodiesel and supply crude vegetable oil used in the production of biodiesel. .. The Group’s strategy is to control and manage its operations on a regional basis by securing plantation rights and establishing refinery operations using its own refinery technology. .. The Jatropha tree has been selected as the Group’s primary energy crop due to the main benefits of its high productivity, durability and longevity. To date, the Group has established operations and strategic and commercial relationships in four regions: Europe (Teesside and London, UK), Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa), Asia Pacific (Manila, The Philippines) and India (New Delhi). " Joint ventures or operations underway in China, Saudi Arabia, and (with Rolls Royce) in South Africa. 3:44:25 PM
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
G.M. Thrives in China With Small, Thrifty Vans: "In this obscure corner of southern China, General Motors seems to have hit on a hot new formula: $5,000 minivans that get 43 miles to the gallon in city driving. That combination of advantages has captivated Chinese buyers, propelling G.M. into the leading spot in this nascent car market. ..
The minivans, which G.M. builds in a joint venture with a Chinese partner, have a quarter the horsepower of American minivans, weak acceleration and a top speed of 81 miles an hour. The seats are only a third the thickness of seats in Western models but look plush compared with some Chinese cars. ..
The utilitarian minivans and pickups are mainly purchased in China by small-business owners in towns and smaller cities, who drive them both to carry supplies for their businesses and to transport their families. .. The minivans have been a big hit, helping G.M. sell more than 170,000 very small vehicles - automobile types not available in the United States - and to pass Volkswagen this year in sales in a market that VW has dominated for two decades. They have helped turn China into G.M.'s biggest center of automotive profit - in contrast to losses in manufacturing operations in the United States - and its second-largest market in terms of the number of vehicles sold, after the United States...
The Chinese government has also encouraged a shift toward more efficient models through stringent fuel-economy regulations, even as Congress has opted for more subsidies for oil production and a limit on hybrid car subsidies .." 5:32:53 AM
Saturday, July 02, 2005
: Good overview of the UNEP/USAID/NREL "Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment" project to map renewable energy resources in many developing countries. www.swera.net
has much information, including interactive maps, such as this demo for Sri Lanka
. Project manager listed as Tom Hamlin
. 2:47:26 PM
Thursday, May 26, 2005
ADB Funds Solar Thermal Power Station in Morocco: The African Development Bank is lending 136m Euros, and GEF is contributing additional funds. "It will help raise the installed production capacity of the national electricity authority (ONE) from 200 to 250 MW and to inject about 1,590 GWh into the interconnected system, including 55 GWh from solar energy. .. The Bank is a major partner of Morocco in the energy sector. It has financed 10 operations (9 projects and 1 study) in the energy sector for a total amount of UA 262.26 million. " Start-up date and duration: February 2005, 4 years. 1:25:30 AM
Monday, May 23, 2005
Fundable: A web site for pooling money in small groups. "Get it to happen or get your money back." Could be great for non-profits, open-source coders or freelancers wanting to get paid for making a contribution, fans raising money to fund a concert, bulk buying, school projects, and more. (How about a private lottery: if we all chip in, one of us gets to go somewhere amazing..) [From Hugh Pyle] 11:35:26 PM
SEFI: UNEP Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative: "SEFI is the UNEP Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative - a platform providing financiers with the tools, support, and global network needed to conceive and manage investments in the complex and rapidly changing marketplace for clean energy technologies. SEFI's goal is to foster investment in sustainable energy projects by providing up-to-date investor information, facilitating deal origination, developing partnerships, and creating the momentum needed to shift sustainable energy from the margins of energy supply to the mainstream. " Includes a Sustainable Energy Finance Directory of over 200 organizations.
Related: BASE: Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy: "BASE helps to build strategic partnerships between entrepreneurs and financiers to mobilize capital for sustainable energy in both developing and industrialized countries. BASE is a non-profit foundation and UNEP Collaborating Centre." Offers links to related financing efforts. 12:08:49 PM
Global Village Energy Project: An information hub for sustainable energy in several developing countries. "GVEP is a voluntary Partnership that brings together developing and industrialized country governments, public and private organizations, multilateral institutions, consumers and others in an effort to ensure access to modern energy services by the poor. " Currently lists over 400 partners, 80 publications, and services to facilitate project finance. Started in the World Bank, then shifted to ITDG in the UK. 12:01:31 PM
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
SWERA assessment of wind and solar in 9 developing countries: "Thousands of megawatts of new renewable energy potential in Africa, Asia, South and Central America have been discovered by a pioneering project to map the solar and wind resource of 13 developing countries. [Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka] .. The Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment (SWERA), is proving that the potential for deploying solar panels and wind turbines in these countries is far greater than previously supposed. Since its beginning in 2001 and with substantial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the US$9.3 million SWERA project has been developing a range of new information tools to stimulate renewable energy development, including detailed maps of wind and solar resources. [Examples:]
- In Nicaragua, for example, SWERA assessments of wind resources demonstrated a much greater potential than the 200 megawatts (MW) estimated in the 1980s. The results prompted the Nicaraguan National Assembly to pass the Decree on Promotion of Wind Energy of Nicaragua 2004 that gives wind generated electricity “first dispatch”, meaning it has the first priority over other options when fed into electricity grids. The US Trade and Development Agency and Inter-American Development Bank have subsequently launched [studies and investments]..
- In Guatemala, wind estimates before SWERA were mostly unknown, but are now estimated at 7000 megawatts, based on SWERA products. The Guatemala Ministry of Energy has established, with support from SWERA, the Centre for Renewable Energy and Investment ..
- In Sri Lanka, the SWERA assessment found a land wind power potential of about 26,000 MW representing more than ten times the country’s installed electrical capacity.
- While an initial assessment in Ghana, reveals more than 2,000 MW of wind energy potential, mainly along the border with Togo. In Africa, this is quite a significant amount, as by some estimates, the continent needs just 40,000 MW of electricity to power its industrialization."
This is a very cheap project -- under $1m per country -- and could significantly change the way developing countries acquire energy. 9:13:20 AM
Monday, April 11, 2005
Solar Electricity in the Developing World from the Solar Electric Light Fund
: SELF is starting reconstruction projects. In India: "As the Tsunami emergency relief efforts begin to fade for the ravaged coastal villages along Indian Ocean, new sources of funding for the long term reconstruction and stabilization of home and community rebuilding are urgently needed. To help meet these challenges, and to specifically provide the critical renewable energy infrastructure component, SELF, RenewableEnergyAccess.com, and SELCO, have launched the Tsunami Solar Light Fund to serve the Tamil Nadu region along the southeastern coast of India. The initial project will fund 1,500 solar power systems for homes and 25 solar powered community street lights." And in Sri Lanka: "SELF and SELCO are teaming with the Rebuild Sri Lanka Solar Initiative, a program of the Rebuild Sri Lanka Trust, to bring immediate relief to the survivors of the Tsunami disaster. With your help, solar technology will be implemented to power hospitals -- enabling the use of lights, medical equipment, and refrigeration for vital medicines and vaccines, as well as for water pumping and purification systems, dramatically decreasing the risk of water-born illnesses and saving thousands of lives." 4:20:50 PM
Thursday, March 17, 2005
China's Oil Thirst Could Push It Toward Fuel Efficiency; Eye On Solar And Wind
: "Bryant Tong, managing director of privately held Nth Power, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that invests in energy and tech firms, says China's hunger for oil and other fuels is making its officials aware they need better ways to use and monitor energy. Tong doubles as chairman and president of the nonprofit China/U.S. Energy Efficiency Alliance, a board that advises Chinese officials on how to use energy more efficiently. ..
IBD: What types of technology is China considering to make its energy consumption more efficient?
Tong: The simple answer is products such as energy-efficient commercial lighting, commercial and residential air conditioning, industrial motors and other systems.
IBD: Can China's energy problems be solved just by using such products?
Tong: No. You need to set up an infrastructure that's backed by the right policies and programs. That's where the China/U.S. Energy Efficiency Alliance comes in. We work with other groups, like the National Resources Defense Council, a U.S. think tank, to help Chinese officials pinpoint the best practices and energy-efficient products that have worked in the U.S. ..
IBD: What types of digital and online technology is China eyeing to make energy use more efficient?
Tong: A lot of (it) will be energy monitoring technology. The Internet is a huge enabler to track energy use by factories and citizens. There are new types of sensors to help the Chinese monitor and control energy use.
IBD: What about using solar and wind energy?
Tong: China is looking at different projects in solar and wind. There was a report that GE is selling wind turbines to China. Right now, China's main focus is on more efficient hydro-energy projects. It's mainly dam-type stuff. ..
IBD: What concrete steps has China already taken to curb energy use?
Tong: They've implemented fuel efficiency standards that are tougher on SUVs than in the U.S. China is also on the verge of enacting a fuel oil tax to curb consumption.
IBD: Doesn't China have access to oil reserves in Central Asia and the South China Sea region that can supply more oil and lessen its need to conserve fuel?
Tong: China is a huge net importer of oil. Regardless of what reserves they have, they are importing tremendous amounts of oil, and their projections of what they'll be needing are enormous as well. .. The Chinese people know they are at the beginning of a new era. Growth prospects are enormous, with China leapfrogging Japan last year as the second-largest oil-importing country. They know they have to be fuel efficient." 10:01:07 PM
China's Boom Brings Fear of an Electricity Breakdown
: "According to Zhang Jun, a prominent Chinese economist who has made a comparative study of China and India, China consumes 3 times the energy and 15 times the amount of steel as its neighbor, even though the Chinese economy is only roughly twice as large, and is growing only about 10 percent faster than India's. Part of this picture comes from an intensive focus on manufacturing and exports, which many economists say has led to overindustrialization and empty growth. A lot of the responsibility for wastefulness can be laid to duplication, with each province - and indeed many city governments - simultaneously pushing for the same kind of growth..
"China will definitely be facing a huge, huge challenge in a decade or so if the growth patterns don't change," said Dr. Zhang, who is the director of the China Center for Economic Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. "Ours is an extreme case of the East Asian model, and we are coming quickly toward the limitations in terms of the way we use energy, in terms of the environment, and even in terms of labor." ..
The toll on China's environment from this growth-at-any-cost strategy has been truly alarming. China's official development goal is to build what the government calls a well-off society by the year 2020, yet today the very growth that makes such dreams permissible has left China with 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities, according to the World Bank. Using standards that are relatively lax when compared with those of the United Nations, the Chinese government itself reckons that fewer than half of the country's cities have acceptably breathable air. The government also says that 90 percent of urban residents face serious water pollution problems. By another estimate, 700 million Chinese must make do with contaminated drinking water. Even the country's seas are increasingly under siege from industrial pollution and are regularly choked by red tide infestations.
If the country's galloping energy needs have caught people's attention throughout China, mobilizing resources to protect the environment has been far more difficult." 9:56:24 PM
China enacts first auto fuel-efficiency standards: Oct 2004: "China has introduced its first fuel-efficiency standards for passenger cars, moving to control soaring oil consumption and ensure foreign automakers share their latest technology, the government said Friday. .. Initially some foreign carmakers opposed the plans, fearing the added costs of compliance. Foreign manufacturers have also urged China to force suppliers to clean up the substandard diesel and gasoline fuel now sold throughout the country, complaining that bad fuel ruins high-tech engines. ..
Though not particularly stringent, the new requirements are stricter than U.S. standards, which haven't been updated for more than 20 years, [Energy Foundation official] Yang noted. American fuel efficiency standards are calculated using the average fuel use of the entire fleet sold by an automaker. In China, similar to Japan, the standards require that each model sold meet the criteria, Yang said. The first phase of the standards will be implemented from July 2005, with a stricter second phase from 2008 for new models introduced to China, the research center said. " 9:52:32 PM
China - US Energy Efficiency Alliance: "As a coalition between governments, businesses and NGOs, the China-U.S. Energy Efficiency Alliance will be helping China to fuel its economic growth by tapping the highly cost-effective option of energy efficiency. In partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance has been invited by governments in China, such as Shanghai and Jiangsu, to provide regulatory consultation and training assistance. The assistance will help these governments transfer and adopt effective programs to quickly realize the benefits of energy efficiency. " Interesting public-private effort. Supported by Environmental Entrepreneurs (e2.org) and NRDC.
A related effort, also based in San Francisco: EF China: "In March 1999, after a series of meetings and consultations with scientists, policy-makers, business leaders, and analysts in China and the United States, the staff and boards of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and The Energy Foundation launched the China Sustainable Energy Program. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation joined as a funding partner in 2002. The program's mission is: To assist in China's transition to a sustainable energy future by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. " 9:47:04 PM
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
14 CDM projects in the Philippines:
"The Philippines is ready to participate in the “clean development mechanism” under the Kyoto Protocol and 14 CDM-eligible projects have been identified for endorsement to investors, Environment Secretary Michael T. Defensor said on Wednesday. These projects are meant to limit emissions of ozone-depleting greenhouse gases while promoting sustainable development. .. “Three [projects] have already been endorsed to the World Bank Prototype Carbon Financing,” Defensor said .. Bangui’s 25-megawatt (MW) North Wind Project, Victoria’s 50-MW cogeneration project, and First Farmers’s 30-MW cogeneration project. " 9:36:22 AM
Kyoto Protocol means green energy projects for India
: "The Kyoto Protocol will bring into force a clean development mechanism (CDM) wherein developed nations would be able to trade part of their commitment to reducing greenhouse gasses by buying green energy credit from projects in developing countries like India. .. So far the government has endorsed 46 out of the 150 projects submitted for CDM credit to help them earn extra dollars. Every tonne of carbon dioxide reduction through use of clean technology like wind, hydropower and biodegradable waste can fetch anywhere from $5-$6.
In the case of projects that reduce emission of methane gas, generated from municipal waste, the returns are expected to be 20 times more, while in the case of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which is 6,000 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, the returns are proportionately higher.
"With the carbon trading mechanism expected to bring in anywhere between five and six paise per unit of clean power generated to as much as 50-60 paise per unit, green energy will now be a profitable venture," Mathur told IANS. [Ajay Mathur, president and CEO of Senergy Global, formerly with World Bank]
He cited the example of how Gujarat Fluorochemicals Ltd, by investing in a project to burn the HFCs being emitted into the air, is now getting revenue that will soon pay off its investment while helping to clean environment pollution. Gujarat Fluorochemicals was one of the first projects to be certified for CDM by Britain.
All clean energy projects that have been commissioned after January 2000 are eligible for certified carbon trading. India has emerged as the largest supplier of projects followed by Brazil. China is expected to enter the market soon, with a difference, as the Chinese government would sell the emission reduction credits through mega projects, said Mathur.
"In the 46 projects that have been endorsed so far, there is no foreign funding upfront. But there are contracts in place that will bring in extra revenue apart from the income the project would have anyway generated," said Mathur, who is a key member of the Indian Carbon Market Group. ..
Over the next few years till 2012, the first phase of commitment for developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol, an estimated two to three billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions is to be reduced through energy efficiency, clean technology and other project like afforestation.
"These efforts are expected to generate around $12-$15 billion additional revenues for new clean energy projects. This should leverage investments of over $100-150 billion in clean energy globally. Given the present trend, India can expect at least one-third of the estimated investments," said Mathur.
An important facet of the CDM is it would help promote waste management projects on the lines of the Lucknow, Hyderabad and Chennai experiments to generate power from municipal waste. This would not only help tackle growing mounds of biodegradable city waste but also reduce methane emission." 9:01:10 AM
: "The Asian Development Bank will introduce a new five-year loan programme for Pakistan and other member countries from 2006. Pakistan is expected to receive about $1 billion loans per year from the bank under the new programme, ADB Country Director in Pakistan Marshuk Shah said... in the coming two years, his bank would provide $500 million for transmission, distribution and renewable energy projects in Pakistan besides $200 million for wind, solar and other resources of alternative and renewable energy." 8:55:54 AM
Thursday, February 17, 2005
WorldChanging: Nanotechnology and the Developing World: "the Global Dialogue on Nanotechnology and the Poor [is] a project intended to trigger a conversation about the ways in which nanotechnology can be applied to the problems of development and poverty. Anyone may participate .." SciDevNet covers the conference and has an introduction to the material. The 29-page report covers risks as well as benefits, with a useful appendix showing the UN Millenium Goals for reference.
This has been a major interest of mine since 2000. The bottom line for me came down to two things: nano-engineered materials for energy and water. Nanotech's first fruits are a new universe of materials with electrical and chemical properties that will offer new options to engineers of all goods, including those meeting basic needs. It's like plastics a century ago; we're at the start of a decades-long absorbtion of new possibilities, both good and bad. This time the changes will come faster, sped up by computer-aided design and manufacturing. (Nano-assembly, whenever it arrives, will only further add to the changes.)
For developing countries, the key benefits are in the basics for manufacturing and urban life.
- purified or desalinated water
- distributed electric generation and new options for fuel, ideally from renewable sources with hydrogen and/or battery storage of power
- more efficient use of energy and materials overall
I think this will be on balance good for the environment, in its greater material efficiency. However, nano-engineered materials will also be applied to increase the efficiency of raw material extraction, such as taking fossil fuels from the earth faster and cheaper. It will also give rise to more extravagant ways to use energy in the developed world, perhaps super-sonic transport, large-scale military applications, or ever-larger interiors for housing and commerce. I am optimistic that enough funding and volunteer attention will be given to pollution-reducing and poverty-alleviating applications to tip the balance. (I think that the top-down and exploitative applications have been refined so much already, that it's probably easier for researchers and innovators to have a big impact in the less-explored sustainable applications.) 1:37:18 AM