Trump Trumped on Wind Farm
Bloviator-in-Chief Donald Trump may have lost his fight to prevent an offshore wind farm near his International Golf Resort near Aberdeen, Scotland, but you won’t hear the business-man-turned-reality-TV-punch-line admit defeat just yet.
According to the Financial Times, the Scottish government has approved construction of a 100MW offshore wind farm consisting of 11 turbines. The project, a joint venture between Valtenfall AB and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, will cost $349 million and generate enough electricity to power 49,000 homes.
But Trump may yet blow enough hot air to spin the turbines himself, warning the project will bring “the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself.” In his slightly more balanced response, Scottish enterprise and tourism minister Fergus Ewing fired back: “The Scottish government is committed to the successful and sustainable development of an offshore wind sector.”
Vista Excited About New Plant, to a Point
Construction has begun on a waste gasification plant by Vista Technologies, the company announced. Vista’s latest version of its thermal gasifier “is capable of converting virtually any carbon-based feedstock into usable energy,” the company said, including waste, biomass and tires.
“We are excited to show the renewable energy community the advances in our newest design,” Vista CEO Tim Ruddy said in a press release.
Despite all that excitement, showing the design to anybody anytime soon could present a challenge, since Vista neglected to mention the location of the plant or the name of the host company that is paying to build it.
2 Sexy EVs, But One’s Stuck in Reverse
Tesla and Fisker Automotive both make sexy plug-in electric cars. And that may be where the similarities end. Tesla announced in a blog post that it is producing an average of 500 units a week of its curvy Model S sport sedan. Last week the company registered its 3,000th Model S in California. Tesla also has begun testing to introduce the car in Europe[KG1] .
Tesla also is expanding its retail network with a new store in Austin, Texas—opened during the SXSW music festival—a store in Toronto, and plans to open outlets in Los Angeles and Miami. The stores all have touch screens that customers can use to customize their new cars.
Over at Fisker, meanwhile, the news is significantly less rosy. The company halted production last year when A123 Systems Inc., the supplier of its lithium-ion batteries, filed for bankruptcy. A deal in which Chinese carmaker Dongfeng Motor Group offered $350 million for majority ownership of the company fell through last month, and now Fisker has placed its employees on furlough for a week to save cash, Bloomberg reports.
Mascoma’s strange IPO Saga Ends
It appears the quixotic bid for an IPO by cellulosic ethanol startup Mascoma has ended. The company recently withdrew its public offering in a letter to the S.E.C. At first blush this might seem like a counterweight to all the excitement surrounding Silver Spring’s successful recent IPO. After all, Macoma’s bid, originally filed in September 2011, could have raised up to $100 million.
But as many people pointed out at the time, the very idea of an IPO may have been out of reach from the start, especially for a company that received 86 percent of its revenue from government grants. The other part of its revenue comes from producing yeast that it sells to corn ethanol manufacturers, which helps them cut expenses. As its IPO plans dragged on, Mascoma also received multiple rounds of venture capital debt financing, not typical behavior for a company planning to go public soon.
Would You Like a Ton of Carbon With Your McNuggets?
Can Europe rescue cap-and-trade? Next month may prove decisive for the world’s largest carbon emissions market, as member states of the European Union decide whether or not to bail out the system.
Initially created to increase the cost of carbon emissions on greenhouse gas polluters by gradually cutting the number of permits available, the system started with a large oversupply of credits. Exacerbated by a prolonged economic downturn during which production—and hence emissions—naturally came down, the resulting glut of emissions credits has the system teetering on the verge of collapse.
Carbon prices at or below 5 euros ($6.41) per ton have been common this year. At the price of 20 chicken McNuggets and a small coffee at McDonald’s, that’s far too low to have any effect on companies’ behavior.
“The European Union’s energy and climate policy is in disarray and risks losing credibility,” Kash Burchett, an analyst at energy consulting firm IHS, told The New York Times.
Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate commissioner, told Bloomberg she is confident that member states will vote to save the system.
IMF: Fossil Fuel Subsidies Squander $1.9 Trillion Every Year
The world’s governments spend $1.9 trillion every year subsidizing fossil fuels, which discourages private investors and encourages excess energy use, accelerating the use of natural resources and hurting the poor, according to a major new report published this week by the International Monetary Fund.
Fossil energy subsidies consumed $480 billion in governments’ pre-tax revenues in 2011, or 2 percent of all government income. The $1.9 trillion figure includes all externalities not included in direct subsidies, such as repairing damage caused by storms exacerbated by climate change, accounting for 8 percent of all government revenues worldwide.
“While aimed at protecting consumers, subsidies aggravate fiscal imbalances, crowd out priority public spending, and depress private investment, including in the energy sector,” says the report.
The IMF suggests that to reduce these inefficiencies, countries need to create a plan for reducing fossil fuel subsidies, and phase in different levels of price increases for the various fossil fuel sectors.
Multifamily Leaves $3.4 Billion on the Table
People who live in apartments, co-ops and condos represent an untapped opportunity of $3.4 billion ever year in potential energy efficiency savings, according to a new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
Multifamily dwellings have remained untapped for so long because they present many challenges compared to single-family homes and commercial buildings. The distances between units prevent the use of wireless smart meters. Tenants have little incentive to invest in efficiency technologies, and building owners may be looking to minimize major capital outlays to keep their properties as ready for sale as possible, both of which reduce the attractiveness of efficiency projects, the ACEEE writes.
How to overcome these hurdles? The association makes a number of recommendations, including:
- Capitalize on major lifecycle moments. Since most landlords only make major capital improvements when expensive things like appliances and HVAC systems fail, target efficiency incentives to these moments by helping property owners invest in multiple systems instead of one at a time.
- Convince gas, electricity and water providers to work together, timing their rebates to incentivize simultaneous upgrades.
- Put all the subsidies in one place, and make them simple to get. Create a one-stop-shop where consumers can access all the programs offered by private companies and public agencies in the area, and streamline the qualification process.