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In the headlines: 16 stories you may have missed

Date
06 August 2012
In the headlines: 16 stories you may have missed

Here's a global snapshot of some of the biggest clean technology, economy and policy headlines, from the week ending August 6, 2012.

Australia

South Australia's biggest wind farm will use gearless turbines and longer blades than others across Australia. Siemens has been appointed by New Zealand's TrustPower to build the $479 million Snowtown II project in the state's mid-north. The wind farm is to power up to 180,000 homes, generating 270 megawatts from 90 turbines. The project, located about 160 kilometres north-west of Adelaide, will help South Australia meet its upgraded target for renewable energy of 33 per cent by 2020, after already exceeding its original 20 per cent target. Construction on Snowtown II is set to start next month and the project will be fully operational by the end of 2014. ABC News, August 1. >>Read our story on how Australia has estimated that wind and solar will deliver the cheapest energy.

A private index shows the carbon tax had little effect on inflation in its first month of operation, despite pushing up energy costs. The monthly inflation gauge by TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute shows consumer prices rose by only 0.2 per cent in July, with the annual rate hitting a three-year low of 1.5 per cent. The carbon tax, combined with regular new financial year price hikes, led to a significant jump in utility prices - electricity costs rose almost 15 per cent, gas and other household fuel prices increased a touch over 10 per cent. TD Securities says the scale of the utility price increases was in line with Treasury's forecasts. Radio Australia, August 6.

China

Manufacturing activity in China registered its slowest increase in eight months in July, renewing fears of a slowdown in the economy. The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) dropped to 50.1 from 50.2 in June, official data showed. Chinese leaders have said the risks to the economy are great, citing slow demand from Europe as one of the main factors. BBC News, August 1.

Europe

A two-day meeting hosted the by US of 17 countries opposed to the EU's emissions trading system (ETS) has ended without a joint declaration. The countries, however, reaffirmed their ambition to keep working on an alternative framework to address greenhouse gas emissions under UN's International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). They remain opposed to an EU law that forces their airlines to pay for the carbon they emit on flights to and from Europe. US, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates are opposed to EU's so-called carbon tax. The Guardian, August 2.

Global

The UNFCCC, has launched a help desk service designed to help developing countries accelerate the rollout of emission reduction programmes under its Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) offsetting scheme. The service is to be made available to so-called designated national authorities (DNAs) in under-represented regions and countries. African nations, the groups of least developed countries and small island developing states, and countries that had fewer than 10 CDM projects approved as of the end of 2010 will be eligible for the service. BusinessGreen, August 3.

The first meeting of the board tasked with overseeing the launch of the UN's new Green Climate Fund (GCF) will take place later this month, according to reports. The crucial meeting, which is intended to draw up plans for the launch of a new global climate change fund capable of delivering up to $100bn a year to developing countries from 2020 onwards, will now take place between August 23 and 25, after a 24-strong panel was finally confirmed. The board meeting was agreed as part of the international climate change agreement brokered at last year's Durban Summit, but it has subsequently been delayed three separate times as countries squabbled over who would sit on the board. BusinessGreen, August 3.

India

The Finance Ministry has created a special unit called, The 'Climate Change Financing Unit' which will provide guidance and inputs to the Environment Ministry to help it bolster India's voice in international negotiations. It has been tasked with preparing briefs and position papers for the Union government position on climate change financing, among others. The unit led by led by Principal Economic Adviser Dipak Dasgupta will also closely look at the financial pledges made by developed countries. The Indian Express, July 29. >>Read our story on the new climate financing unit in India. 

As expected there are a large number of articles examining the causes of India’s power failures which left more than 600 million without electricity; The New York Times tries to get to the bottom of what went wrong, while over on The Huffington Post, Carl Pope speculates whether this will be the catalyst needed for India to modernize its entire power system and Dr. John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus from the University of Missouri, wrote that energy strategy based on renewables and featuring solar power is the best way for the world to support populations with the least amount of damage to the environment. Examiner.com, July 31. >>Read what Aditi Dass from our India office thinks about the blackout

North America

Democrat Congressman Jim McDermott has become the latest politician to try and deliver a US carbon pricing mechanism, after last week tabling a bill in the House of Representatives that would result in a new national tax on carbon emissions. McDermott said the tax would help cut emissions to 80 per cent below 2005 levels within 42 years of the bill being enacted, by driving investment in new low carbon energy infrastructure. Significantly, the legislation, entitled the Managed Carbon Price bill, would require 75 per cent of the revenue raised through the tax to be returned to consumers in the form of a new monthly dividend, while the remaining 25 per cent would be used solely to support deficit reduction efforts. BusinessGreen, August 6.

UK

The coalition government is united on the need for green investment, Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, will make clear today, as he announces plans to inject £100m into renewable energy funds. Mr Clegg will use a speech at the energy-focused global business summit – one of 18 conferences planned to coincide with the London Olympics – to say that business can expect consistency from the government. He will announce plans to add £100m to funds managed by Equitix and Sustainable Development Capital. These will pave the way for the UK’s green investment bank which is expected to open this year. Mr Clegg will say that the UK is “leading from the front” in the industry and will welcome moves by green companies to increase their investment in the UK and create jobs. Financial Times, August 6.

UK Economy Forecast 'To Shrink 0.5%' In 2012. The prediction by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (Niesr) was down sharply from its zero growth forecast in May. It is one of the gloomiest assessments of the state of the economy so far. It also downgraded its forecast for UK growth in 2013 from 2% to 1.3% and said the effects of the Jubilee reduced growth this spring by 0.4%. Sky News, August 3.

EVs

Electric vehicle service provider Ecotality announced that they will offer their smart charging services for free for the residents of the greater metropolitan areas of Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia. The announcement is part of the company’s expansion of The EV Project, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. The project aims to be the largest deployment of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in history. Ecoseed, August 3.

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), launched in 2009 to fund “breakthrough” technology, announced $43 million in grants to further electric vehicle and smart grid technologies. Some $13 million went to seven projects aimed at pursuing “cutting-edge energy storage developments for stationary power and electric vehicles.” The other $30 million aims to maximize the potential of existing battery technology. PlugInCars, August 2.

Ford has just released an app for smartphones that keeps track of the rapidly growing number of electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S. The app is updated daily and contains the location of more than 9,400 public charging stations. The app also allows owners of Ford vehicles to remotely manage charging and view their current battery level. IBTimes, August 1.

LEDs

Ernst & Young has replaced the lights at its 32-floor, 650,000 square-foot headquarters in NYC entirely with LED technology along with controls and occupancy sensors to manage when they are off and on. The retrofit, one of the largest LED lighting retrofits yet in New York City, will save $1 million annually for Ernst & Young, cutting lighting-related energy and maintenance costs in half. Ernst & Young contracted with facilities manager JAS Consulting to coordinate technology providers Philips Lightolier Energy Service Group and One Lux Studio for the project. Sustainable Business, July 31.

In Taiwan the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has reported that some the manufacturers labels for some LED lights can differ by 20 percent from their actual output. Due to recent requests from the Bureau of Energy, the ITRI has been working on designing energy-saving labels which will adopt some of the highest standards in the industry. The ITRI indicated that after gathering suggestions from the industry, proposals will be sent to appropriate committees in the Bureau of Energy and it expect the details to be announced in January 2013. Additionally the ITRI also plans to announce the LED light bulb brands that passed the standards at end of first-quarter to second-quarter 2013. Examiner.com, July 30.

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