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08 October 2012

Here's a global snapshot of some of the biggest clean technology, economy and policy headlines, from the week commencing October 8, 2012.


Low-income Australians living in city fringe mortgage belts and country towns are rushing to buy solar electricity panels and hot water systems at a much faster rate than their wealthier urban cousins. New figures released by the Australian Solar Council show only 43 per cent of the 1.5 million solar power systems installed nationally since 2001 have been in major capital cities, despite their dominant size. The Solar Council data also reveal that residents of city suburbs with the highest average incomes are the least likely to have put solar panels on their roofs. One-quarter of all homes in rural and remote Australia and one-fifth of all houses in regional centres are now partly powered by their own solar energy systems, but only 13 per cent of all city homes are. The Australian, October 2.

The world will be "cooking with gas" on climate change if the United States and China can reach agreement on how their national actions mesh with a global framework, according to former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd. Identifying the next five years as a time of “profound transition” for US-China relations, Mr Rudd said it needed political leadership from these two major powers to make the global rules system work. “China has massive national self-interest in ensuring that climate change is effectively dealt with,” Rudd told the Foreign Correspondents Association in Sydney on October 5. “Otherwise, China’s moment in the sun – that is, the next decade or two of China’s economic and political position in the world – could be undermined.” The Australian, October 8.


China was the number one importer of Taiwan's green products and services in 2011 importing US$9.98 billion. After China the top four importers were Hong Kong (US$6.15 billion), the United States (US$5.89 billion), Japan (US$3.37 billion) and South Korea (US$2.01 billion). The output value of Taiwan's green trade exports reached US$42.8 billion in 2011, accounting for 13.88 percent of its total exports, according to government statistics. The China Post, October 5.

The World Bank has lowered its growth forecast for China citing weak demand for its exports and lower investment growth. The bank said it expects China's economy to grow by 7.7% this year, down from its projection of 8.2% in May. China's exports have been hurt by economic problems in the eurozone and the US, two of its biggest markets. BBC News, October 8.


The EU's Energy Efficiency Directive passed its final hurdle, after it was formally adopted by ministers of member states. The Presidents and Secretaries-General of the European Parliament and of the Council are expected to sign the directive later this month bringing the legislation into force in November. Under the new directive, Member States will have until April 2013 to set national targets for energy efficiency cuts, a policy designed to help the EU achieve its headline goal of improving energy efficiency by 20 per cent goal by the end of the decade. BusinessGreen, October 5.

Poland has scaled down its plan to cut support for renewable energy to a total of 2.3 billion zlotys ($738 million) by the end of the decade from 9.7 billion zlotys, an updated draft bill on renewables released late on Friday showed. The new law, which cuts support for large biomass co-firing and onshore wind installations in favour of micro-generation, solar power and offshore, put the total cost of the system by 2020 at 62.1 billion zlotys versus 54.7 billion seen earlier. The updated law marks another shift in the Economy Ministry's support for renewables, designed to help Poland reduce its heavy dependence on coal and meet the European Union's green energy targets. Reuters, October 6.


This year's Global Cleantech 100 received a 25% increase in nominations – 8,285 in total. The venture gives a snapshot of the most significant innovative clean technology companies in the world right now. The list represents the collective opinion of hundreds of individuals within the wider global cleantech innovation community. They were asked which 100 of today's private cleantech companies are the most likely to make the most significant market impact over the next 5-10 years. The Guardian, October 2.


By 2015, India's spending on green IT and sustainability initiatives will double from $35 billion in 2010 to $70 billion in 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. In 2012, green IT and sustainability spending in India will total $45 billion. In the Gartner report "Hype Cycle for Green IT and Sustainability in India, 2012," analysts said green IT and sustainability are emerging as key concerns for businesses, investors and technologists across industries and policymakers in India. Though many technologies are available, government policies will eventually drive green IT and sustainability solutions adoption by Indian enterprises. Gartner Newsroom, October 2. Read our story, India's green IT and sustainability market worth $45 billion.

Government is planning to develop two "smart" cities with a host of modern features like intelligent transport and carbon neutral status in each of the states in the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal mission. The minister said medium sized cities with half a million to one million population will be developed as smart cities and expertise of Austrian Institute of Technology had been sought for the purpose. The Economic Times, October 2.

North America

At the presidential debate, Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration for putting “$90 billion into green jobs,” saying the money could have been spent instead on things like teachers. Romney also claimed that half the companies funded by these energy programs have “gone out of business” — an untrue statement that was quickly rebutted by fact-checkers. (The real figure so far is less than 1 percent.) This is a useful blog that looks at President Obama’s clean-energy track record more broadly including questions: What sorts of green jobs programs has the Obama administration spent $90 billion on? Where does it all go? How much of the funds have been wasted? And what are we actually getting in return for all this cash? Washington Post, October 4.

When it comes to conserving energy, California is one of the most efficient states. But it’s no longer the best. That honor goes to Massachusetts for the second year in a row, according to the sixth annual report on the subject from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. But the Golden State has been a leader for decades. Utilities in the state offer energy efficiency programs for customers and are expected to save nearly 7,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity between 2010 and 2012. Other top performers include New York, Oregon and Vermont. And by dedicating more funds to conserving energy last year, Oklahoma, Montana and South Carolina enjoyed major efficiency improvements. LA Times, October 4.


More than 50 businesses, including household names such as Asda, Sky and PepsiCo, have called on the government to put in place a 2030 target on decarbonising the power sector. They argue that such a move – already backed by Labour and the Lib Dems – will stimulate investment and revitalise the UK's ageing energy infrastructure. Their call comes as George Osborne prepares to address the Tory party conference. The Guardian, October 8.

UK green businesses have a "huge opportunity" to become partners of choice to emerging low carbon markets in East Africa, according to Energy and Climate Change minister Greg Barker. Barker last week led a trade mission to Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya accompanied by representatives of 20 companies, including wind, hydro, solar and geothermal energy developers, as well as financiers and engineers. Kenya alone is looking to raise its 1.3GW of clean energy capacity to 18GW by 2030, boasts Africa's largest wind farm, the 300MW Lake Turkana project due to be completed in 2014, and has an estimated geothermal capacity between 7,000MWe and 10,000MWe concentrated in the Rift Valley. BusinessGreen, October 8.

Electric Vehicles

India's government has approved a new $4bn (£2.5bn) plan to spur the production of electric and hybrid cars over the next eight years. It includes an ambitious target of producing 6 million units of green vehicles by 2020. BBC News, October 8.

LED lighting

Two years after it began phasing out incandescent bulbs, Swedish retailer Ikea announced that it is taking another step and planning to sell only energy-efficient LED lighting by 2016. Ikea believes the shift to the longer-lasting bulbs will help set an environmentally friendly example in the industry and also save the company about $10 million to $20 million a year, or 10 percent, in lighting costs at its 300 stores around the globe. At Wal-Mart Stores Inc. the company is putting LED lightings in all new store parking lights and experimenting with it inside stores in Wichita, Kansas, and Euclid, Ohio, spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said. The company is also switching to LED for lighting in stores overseas. But on the shelves, Wal-Mart intends to keep selling all different kinds of lighting to give customers the options they want. Bloomberg BusinessWeek, October 1.

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