Business & Technology

Brit's Eye View: Where's Britain's green stimulus?

Will a shortage of green investment leave the U.K. behind in the race to develop clean tech?

With “green stimulus” all the rage this side of the Atlantic too, there’s a fair amount of interest in a) how much we’re going to spend and b) on what. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, savior of the world and (apparently) originator of the whole green-new-deal concept, would, you might think, be anxious to be sporting a particularly large package. Sadly, the money’s already been spent — and reprinted and spent again — stimulating a dead horse. Currently obsessing the nation are bankers’ bonuses and particularly the pension of “Fred the Shred” Goodwin of the Royal Bank of Scotland, who …

BICEP curls

New business coalition plans to flex its muscle on climate policy

Nike, Starbucks, eBay, and a handful of other big-name U.S. companies are putting forward a climate agenda that’s just as ambitious as that of many environmentalists, if not more so. The new coalition — Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, or BICEP for short — grew out of a partnership between Nike and Ceres, a nonprofit network of investors and enviro groups. Other members now include Gap, Symantec, Levi Strauss & Co., Sun Microsystems, and Timberland. At a briefing in Washington, D.C. in early March, the coalition unveiled its priorities: cutting emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 …

Photon wrangling

For eSolar, clean energy starts with computing power

An overhead view of eSolar’s Sierra solar array, located in Southern California (Photo courtesy e-Solar)   I’m sitting in the back of a black Lincoln Continental with eSolar CEO Bill Gross on the downward glide into Antelope Valley, a sun-blasted stretch of semi-suburbanized desert northeast of Los Angeles. We’re on our way to take a look at an alternative future called Sierra, the Google-backed startup’s first solar power plant and the prototype for what might be called Solar 2.0 — green energy that’s as much a product of software and computing firepower as steel and glass. California has become an …

Mountaintop removal blow-back

Coal mining industry fights back with deceptions about jobs and the economy

If you’re a reader of Grist then you are almost certainly aware that the Obama Administration signaled a major shift yesterday in how mountaintop removal coal mining will be regulated. In brief, Obama’s head of the EPA, announced a decision to delay and review permits for two mountaintop removal mining operations, an action that calls into question more than 100 additional valley fill permits now pending that threaten to bury hundreds more miles of headwater streams and destroy dozens more Appalachian Mountains.   In making this decision, President Obama also took another step in fulfilling his campaign promise to bring …

Trailer Thrash

Reinventing the trailer park

Trailer parks get a bad rap, especially in the post-Katrina days when we’ve come to see them as North American refugee camps slowly poisoning their displaced inhabitants with formaldehyde fumes. But the trailer park, done right, actually holds great potential as a development model. MiniHome: a big idea. Sustain Even in its current form, with communities of not-particularly-mobile homes plopped atop concrete blocks, the trailer park is a kind of low-rent template, a version of new urbanism without the bells, whistles, and marketing budgets. In Canada particularly, trailer parks are vacation spots, more campground than affordable housing, with density, communal …

A Prudent aqcuisition

VRB Power accquired by Chinese Prudent Energy

Back in early January, I mentioned it was bad news that VRB, the makers of large-scale, long-lasting vanadium flow batteries for storing electricity, was going out of business. Well their assets have been acquired by Prudent Energy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chinese JD Holdings Inc. This is good news in the sense the Prudent Energy is already involved in developing vanadium based flow batteries. They have no incentive to sit on the patents. So the technology will continue to get its shot in the market.

Gold that's put to use begets more gold

How cap-and-rebate brings about carbon reductions

David Roberts asks: Who, in this scenario [carbon revenue rebated to consumers], has any new incentive to shift to low-carbon electricity or efficiency? Short answer: everyone. Let’s say I’m your utility, and I raise your energy prices so that, at present rate of consumption, your bill will rise to $50,000 per year. Pretend that energy here means everything: heating oil, electricity, natural gas, everything encompassed in a carbon cap. Then I hand you an annual rebate check for $50,000. You can do two things. Give the money right back to me to pay for energy. Money is shuffled. Nothing changes. …

U.S. left in the solar dust

Solar PV market doubled to 6 Gigawatts in 2008

After growing 19 percent in 2006 and 62 percent in 2007, world solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations exploded by 110 percent last year to a staggering 5.95 GW, according to Solarbuzz’s Annual Report, Marketbuzz 2009: Europe accounted for 82% of world demand in 2008. Spain’s 285% growth pushed Germany into second place in the market ranking, while the US advanced to [a very distant] number three. Rapid growth in Korea allowed it to become the fourth largest market, closely followed by Italy and Japan. And who is the leading producer of PV cells? China and Taiwan continued to increase their …

Is the global economy a Ponzi scheme? Part 4

Former GE Chief Jack Welch says obsession with short-term profits was ‘Dumb Idea’

File this one under “now they tell us” or maybe “the former drug kingpin says crack is not healthy for you.” The Financial Times reports the shocking not-quite-deathbed conversion: Jack Welch, who is regarded as father of the “shareholder value” movement, has said the obsession with short-term profits and share price gains that has dominated the corporate world for over 20 years was “a dumb idea” … “On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world,” he said. “Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy … your main constituencies are your employees, your customers …

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