Top 10 Most Interesting Energy and Environment Articles From October

by David L Roberts

Elevated radiation levels of US
Elevated radiation levels in the U.S.A.

Here’s my latest monthly report of the “Top 10” most compelling clean energy, climate, and environment-related news stories encountered last month. These articles may have an impact on your business, your life, and the world we live in. Or, at the very least, might surprise you about what’s going on.

Over a thousand articles were reviewed across various energy platforms and 40+ were found to be of particular interest, which were sent to my private reader list. This newsletter is available upon request. The 10 most interesting to me are shown here, with a startling #1 article at the end.

10. A report from three Bay Area companies paints a positive outlook for investment in cleantech, stating that cleantech accounts for 25% of all investment capital today. Now that cleantech expectations are more in line with capabilities, many large multinational companies are stepping in as investors, both for their own energy efficiency (carbon footprint) goals as well as venture capitalist–like goals.

9. Denmark is striving for 100% power generation from renewables by 2050, and it has been announced that it will receive a WWF Gift to the World award for this leadership. Other nations planning to be carbon neutral are Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Tuvalu, Bhutan, The Maldives and Costa Rica.

8. Navigant Research estimates the currently small global market for energy storage (today at $150 million) will rapidly expand to $10 billion by 2023 due to acceleration of wind and solar installs.

• California currently mandates 33% of utility power be derived from renewables and is now considering mandating energy storage as well. To address inherent intermittency, this evolving industry is seeing growing commercialization of many technologies including batteries (lithium-ion and sodium-sulphur), flywheel, molten salt, and pumped hydro storage.

7. Scientists from Potsdam Institute (PIK) forecast the planet is on path to increase global temperature 9 degrees F in a century through GHG emissions, creating a scenario of floods and droughts that would place 1 billion people at risk — 13% of the global population.

• The Asian Dev. Bank reports that, by 2035, Asia will increase its energy consumption by 67%, representing half the world’s energy demands — and half the world’s GHG emissions. The bank soberly estimates that coal will account for 83% of this growth and that CO2-emitting gasoline cars will remain dominant.

Here’s one view of global climate change in 25+ years, with predictions of more droughts, floods and impacts on over 1 billion people as a result of rising sea levels — with island nations, coastal cities, and tropical zones most vulnerable.

6. While a national cap-and-trade program has been illusive, the New Jersey legislature is considers rejoining the 9-state (eastern) regional carbon-trading program, RGGI. RGGI is the oldest such program in the US, but a similar program now exists in California, Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. The western regional carbon and GHG emissions trading program hopes of to expand to surrounding states at some point.

5. The Energy Information Administration reports that the US produced 3.8% less CO2 in 2012 (vs. 2011), continuing a recent downtrend of GHG emissions since 2007. Some of the main credits for the drop in emissions are considered to be a slowed down economy, power plants converting from coal to gas, increasing use of renewable energy, and an improvement in “energy intensity” — a macro energy efficiency measure of energy usage per unit of GDP.

• Notably, however, the switch from coal to gas, while reducing CO2, increases the (risk of) emissions of methane, which is 20 times more harmful than CO2.

4. A report from the UK predicts that advanced (drop-in) biofuels such as butanol will begin to play a large long-term role in reducing GHG emissions. Compared to hydrogen or electric vehicle formats, the benefit here is the fact that biofuels can be used in international combustion engines. Since internal combustion engines are expected to dominate for the foreseeable future, many argue that advanced biofuels are sorely needed.

CEFC is the first to make and distribute the advance biofuel biomethane, called Redeem, thru a network of 35 fueling stations in CA. It is made from methane from landfills (and other sources) and is available both compressed and in liquid form.

3. T. Boone Pickens and Waste Management are two notables committed to “renewable” natural gas that’s an alternative to fossil gas currently produced via tracking. Redeem is renewable since it’s a natural by-product of decomposing biodegradable materials (methane et al), such as that found in landfills.

Some communities are now capturing methane gas naturally produced in land fills (aka “garbage dumps”) and selling it to intermediaries to produce electricity.

2. China’s Harbin City (11 million) was closed down due to an excessive pollution index of 1000, which the WHO states is over 3 times the 300 index it considers “hazardous.” WHO considers an index of 20 to be “safe.”

The #1 Energy Story Of October

1. In case you’re wondering about the effects of Fukushima, here’s a frighteningly well documented report about doses of cesium 137, iodine 131, and strontium 90 that have already infected wildlife all along the west coast of North America, including my favorite — wild caught Pacific salmon. This may affect human health for generations.

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This article, Top 10 Most Interesting Energy & Environment Articles From October, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

David L Roberts is a marketing consultant to renewable energy startups.

Wicked Green: Massachusetts Clean Economy Grows 11.8% To 80,000 Jobs

by Silvio Marcacci – Special to JBS News
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With the way Massachusetts’ clean energy economy is growing these days, state residents may need to start celebrating a different kind of green than Boston Celtics jerseys.

The Bay State’s clean energy industry kept booming this year, increasing green jobs by 11.8% from 2012 to 2013, according to the 2013 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report.

Green growth has been fast, strong, and diverse across the state, benefitting from smart government policy and a combination of access to finance and cutting-edge research. Add it all up, and you get an economic success story with a sustainable twist.

2013 Massachusetts green economy
2013 Massachusetts green economy image via MassCEC

24% Green Job Growth In Two Years

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report is compiled by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and 2013 is the third year it’s been published. The report tracks the size and growth of green jobs and businesses across the state through direct business surveys and interviews, and defines a clean energy firm or clean energy worker as one engaged in whole or part with clean energy technology.

And make no mistake – Massachusetts’ green economy is growing fast. Since the first report, the state’s clean energy economy has grown 24% and added 15,500 jobs. That’s more than eight times faster than an overall 3% economic growth rate for all industries state-wide.

Massachusetts green job growth
Massachusetts green job growth chart via MassCEC

Massachusetts now boasts 79,994 green jobs across 5,557 businesses – 1.9% of all jobs state-wide, spread across every corner of the state and nearly every aspect of the clean energy economy. More than half of these firms are small businesses, meaning five or fewer full-time employees, but the majority of job creation came from new businesses and startups.

But even more promising, 27% of employers say they have current openings they expect to fill in the next three months. 83% of green jobs added since 2012 were new positions, and MassCEC forecasts the state will add 8,800 new green jobs over the next year for an 11.1% growth rate and total of 88,874 green jobs state-wide.

“We pursue our clean energy agenda because we cannot leave our future to chance,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Our clean energy industry is putting thousands of our residents to work in every corner of the Commonwealth, catalyzing economic growth and creating a healthier Massachusetts.”

A Diverse Green Economy Grows Across Massachusetts

Indeed, while green growth has happened quickly, it’s also developed across a diverse economic pattern meaning the state isn’t reliant on one single industry and is more likely to weather short-term market swings.

Massachusetts green economy
Massachusetts green economy chart via MassCEC

Energy efficiency remained Massachusetts’ top clean energy employer, with 46,613 total jobs across 3,002 firms and a 15.9% growth rate. No shocker here, considering the state routinely places first in national energy efficiency rankings, and a big reason why it saw 157% growth in electric energy savings between 2007-2013.

Renewable energy came in a close second to efficiency, employing 30,537 workers at 2,312 companies with a 2.6% growth rate. This area of the clean energy economy definitely cooled off compared to 2011-2012, when it grew 26%, and is surprising considering installed solar capacity grew from 16 megawatts (MW) in 2009 to over 250MW in 2012, and now represents 8,400 workers for 59.7% of all renewable energy jobs.

But the rising star of MassCEC’s 2013 report may be carbon management. This sector ranked third overall with 11,807 green jobs across 489 firms, but grew 19.7% between 2012-2013, bolstered by millions in auction revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This year’s growth is also a big rebound from 2011-2012, when the sector actually shrunk 14%.

This article, Wicked Green: Massachusetts Clean Economy Grows 11.8% To 80,000 Jobs, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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