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In the headlines: 17 stories you may have missed

30 October 2012
In the headlines: 17 stories you may have missed

Here's a global snapshot of some of the biggest clean technology, economy and policy headlines, from the week commencing October 29, 2012.


Australia's 20 per cent renewable energy target has helped spark $18.5 billion in new clean energy investment since its inception - and will drive another $8.8 billion to 2030 - an economic analysis commissioned by the industry's peak body has found. The modelling to be released by the Clean Energy Council also says Australia would have failed to meet its greenhouse gas targets under the United Nations Kyoto Protocol without the target in place., October 25.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs has backed Australia's carbon tax but warned against replacing it with a tradable permits system in the future. "For many reasons staying with the tax would be better, more straight forward, easier to implement (and a) stronger signal to the private economy than one gets from trading permits," Sachs told a press conference in Bangkok, after addressing diplomats and officials there to mark United Nations Day. "So I like what Australia has done." Herald Sun, October 25.


China's spending on research and development (R&D) grew an annual 23 percent in 2011 to 868.7 billion yuan $139 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. That was equivalent to 1.84 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), up from 1.76 percent in 2010, the bureau said in a report on its website. Most research and development spending came from rich provinces and cities such as Guangdong, Jiangsu and Beijing, according to the bureau. Reuters, October 25.


The European Union saw greenhouse gas emissions fall 2.5 per cent last year, despite recording overall economic growth of 1.5 per cent. The latest figures from the European Environment Agency (EEA) suggest that while the combination of a relatively warm winter and sluggish economy helped hold down emissions in some countries, investments and policies designed to curb overall emissions also played a role in the continued decoupling of economic growth and carbon output. BusinessGreen, October 24. 

The European Commission recently proposed a policy shift that would allow food-based biofuels to contribute no more than half of the 10% target stipulated under the Renewable Energy Directive. The remaining supply would be restricted to advanced biofuels, known as ‘second generation’ biofuels. The commission is also proposed to increase the efficiency targets that biofuels must reach before they receive subsidies. Biofuels must currently account for 35% less greenhouse gas (ghg) than the fuels they replace; the proposal will eventually extend the ghg savings threshold to 60%. AllAboutFeed, October 25.


Santander Brasil, Indian IT firm Wipro, Brazilian financial company Bradesco and US-based IBM topped this year’s Newsweek Green Rankings for global companies, while Singapore food company Wilmar, Coal India and agribusiness giant Monsanto took the bottom spots in the annual environmental ranking of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the world. Environmental Leader, October 22.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc has given global suppliers five years to comply with its environmental rules or risk being pushed off U.S. shelves at the world's largest retailer, expanding a sustainability campaign launched in 2009. The new requirements, announced in China where Wal-Mart has more than 20,000 suppliers, will compel workshops that churn out much of the world's toys, clothing and electronics to improve on energy efficiency, waste reduction and other markers on the retailer's checklist. Reuters, October 25.

Global consultancy and certification firm DNV has unveiled designs for floating solar arrays that could rival offshore wind farms. The plans envisage a group of hexagonal artificial islands linked together and supporting 4,200 solar photovoltaic panels across an area the size of a football stadium. Multiple islands connected together could then make up a solar field of 50MW or more, producing enough electricity for 30,000 people. BusinessGreen, October 25.


India on Monday claimed a "huge" achievement with nations agreeing to increase funding for halting rate of biodiversity loss, despite economic downturn, at a UN conference it hosted and said it would have bearing on climate change and other international negotiations. Government said developed countries have agreed to double funding to support efforts in developing states towards meeting the internationally-agreed Biodiversity Targets, and the main goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Times of India, October 22.

India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has said the country should aim at achieving up to 8.5 per cent growth in its economy even when global economic conditions are weak. Forecasts for India's GDP growth have been cut to as low as 4.9 per cent for this year. India's economy has been affected in recent months by factors including slow decision-making on important economic reforms, as well as the slowdown in Europe, which negatively impacts India's exports. The National, October 25.

North America

In September, all new electricity generating capacity added in the US came from solar and wind. Five wind projects totalling 300 megawatts (MW) and 18 solar projects for 133 MW were added, according to the latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Energy Projects. And renewables account for almost half (43.8%) of all new capacity that's come online this year so far: 77 wind projects (4,055 MW); 154 solar projects (936 MW); 76 biomass projects (340 MW); 7 geothermal projects (123 MW); 10 water power projects (9 MW); and 1 waste heat project (3 MW). Sustainable Business, October 23.

The U.S. Navy has signed an wide-ranging agreement with biofuels refinery developer Biodico - they will collaborate on developing advanced biofuels and bioenergy refineries for the US military - worldwide. The goal is to build biorefineries at Department of Defense (DoD) facilities that produce biofuels that replace petroleum diesel, bio-based products and renewable energy at the lowest possible cost. The collaboration is partially supported by grants from the California Energy Commission. By producing these products on-site, the Navy can better secure its energy supplies, while moving toward its goal of cutting petroleum use 50% by 2020. Sustainable Business, October 24.


Concerns are mounting that the government's crucial Energy Bill could be subject to a delay, after industry sources confirmed they had been told not to expect publication of the bill until mid-November. A number of industry insiders and green groups had originally been told by DECC officials that the bill was provisionally scheduled for publication during the week of November 5th. Various sources are now reporting that the bill will not appear until the week of November 19th at the earliest, while some are speculating that it could yet be put back until December. BusinessGreen, October 25.

Greentomatocars has pledged to deliver "London's first fleet of all-electric minicabs", after yesterday inking an agreement with Chinese manufacturer BYD to trial the use of 50 electric cars in the capital. The company said it expected to make BYD's e6 pure electric vehicles available to customers from the second quarter of next year, significantly expanding its existing fleet of around 300 low emission minicabs. The memorandum of understanding was welcomed by London Mayor Boris Johnson who said the deal represented a major step towards his goal of ensuring all taxis and minicabs in the capital are zero-emission by 2020. BusinessGreen, October 25.

Electric Vehicles

A unique partnership has been formed between Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi and British Gas, which will see the latter as the exclusive supplier of electric vehicle charging solutions for Mitsubishi within the UK. Customers of Mitsubishi will be able to access a host of British Gas charging solutions. For example, they can benefit from a dedicated circuit from £375 which will prevent their home electrical supply from being overloaded as they charge their electric car. British Gas also offers a wall-mounted charging solution from £799 which is said to cut charging times by around a third. thegreencarwebsite, October 23.

Nissan is planning on selling cheaper versions of its Leaf electric vehicle, reports the Financial Times. The company hopes the lower price will spark flagging sales that the newspaper describes as “well below” earlier Nissan forecasts. Nissan sold fewer than 12,000 Leafs in the first half of 2012, which is an improvement over 2011 levels but still below the numbers needed to keep pace with the company’s targeted 40,000 2012 sales, the FT reports. Environmental Leader, October 24.

LED Lighting

Thousands of street lights turned off by a council to save money four years ago are to be switched back on under plans to use low energy bulbs. Powys council is to spend £1.4m installing LED bulbs in 14,000 lights, including the 4,770 it blacked out. BBC News, October 22.

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