Archive for August, 2012
“U.S. carbon emissions in surprise reduction,” read one headline. “Historic Drop In U.S. Carbon Emissions,” said another. “U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in early 2012 lowest since 1992,” blared a third.
How did this happen? None of President Barack Obama’s proposals to cut emissions made it through Congress. The United States didn’t ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Now the U.S. is reducing carbon emissions so fast that it seems to have hit broadside. What in the name of Al Gore is going on?
Three words: natural gas fracking. Actually, also these three words: free market forces. Read the rest of this entry »
While the sustainable technology sector continues to grow, colleges nationwide are launching programs for students in pursuit of training, degrees and work experience in a number of clean-tech industries. Savannah Technical College, in Savannah, Ga., is among the latest schools that will be offering sustainable technology programs with hands-on learning starting this fall. STC’s programs, which will cover green building construction, sustainable energy production, energy efficiency and energy management, are said to be the first of their kind in the state of Georgia. Read the rest of this entry »
Manufacturing, of course, is at the center of political debates in this election year, with many a politician lamenting the loss of jobs in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which have long made up the Manufacturing Belt.
Publicizing the economic importance of U.S. manufacturing, whose revival has been credited for driving the U.S. post-recession economy, the Obama administration announced in mid-August a brand-new public-private consortium called the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), located in Youngstown, Ohio. NAMII is one of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes being devised by the Obama administration to help manufacturers be more globally competitive and spur investment in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »
Eco-minded consumers have seen a lot of greenwashing. Companies declare “green,” “low-impact” or “all-natural” products without having to show supporting evidence. Green is gold for manufacturers, and their environmental credentials may be real or imagined.
“Manufacturers are doing it because they know the public wants green and they want to sell product,” says Michael Italiano, president and CEO of Sustainable Products Corp. “It’s rampant throughout the market right now.”
While the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards help guide the manufacture of green building materials (though it doesn’t certify them; as LEED applies to only the performance of a finished building), the green certification landscape for the rest of the manufacturing world is murkier. This may about to change, however, as the independent, private and not-for-profit UL may be creating a green certification empire. Read the rest of this entry »
New research from Aberdeen Group suggests the emergence of a new breed of manufacturing company where management of energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is central to corporate strategy. Leading companies of this breed have refined methods for collecting and reporting energy and carbon data across the enterprise and using it to make day-to-day management decisions.
In its report, “Energy and Carbon Management: A Roadmap for Sustainable Production,” released in July, Aberdeen analyzed responses from 105 manufacturing executives about their energy and carbon management regimes to identify best practices for reduced energy usage and GHG emissions, as well as improved operating margins. Read the rest of this entry »
Just days after a mostly foreign-based wind energy equipment manufacturer received a multimillion-dollar federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the company pink-slipped more than 200 American workers. The loan transaction in question involved a Brazilian firm, Wind Power Energia S.A., in Sao Paulo, which required wind blades to complete a 180-megawatt wind farm in the Brazilian state of Bahia and another 211-megawatt farm in the Brazilian state of Ceara, according to company officials.
According to Ex-Im Bank officials, the export credit agency authorized a $32.1 million loan guarantee to Wind Power Energia to buy wind turbine blades manufactured by LM Wind Power Blades Inc., in Little Rock, Ark. Read the rest of this entry »
As U.S. manufacturers strive to bring back “Made in America,” reshoring efforts have emerged as a solution to grow jobs in the country. Some LED lighting manufacturers are among the businesses that are reshoring jobs, with company CEOs citing operating cost control and quality control as reasons for the moves. Yet while several companies move forward with reshoring initiatives and consequently create domestic jobs, others may not be so quick in giving up the tax holidays and business development and support they receive in offshore countries. Read the rest of this entry »
The United States leads the world in many areas. When it comes to building environmentally friendly, sustainable high-speed rail transport, though, it does not. While other parts of the world have been running high-speed rail networks for decades — Great Britain recently announced plans to spend nearly $20 billion on upgrading its systems — the lack of political will and forward-thinking and traditional resistance to change in Americans’ transportation habits have hindered U.S. high-speed rail development.
But progress is being made, and some camps are working toward making high-speed rail a reality in America within the next decade. In recent years, interest in high-speed rail has been revived due to the cost and environmental impact of air travel and green-era push on being less reliant on petroleum-fueled transportation. California is one of the major hubs of that progress. Read the rest of this entry »
A trade war between the United States and China over solar panels is brewing.
The U.S. has accused China of illegally subsidizing its domestic manufacturers, which have enabled them to ramp up panel production even as prices fell, and “dumping” goods into the U.S. marketplace. Chinese panel manufacturers are also believed to have few environmental restrictions, which further slash their costs.
At the behest of a consortium of U.S. solar panel companies, the Obama administration imposed a series of temporary tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports, with the levies ranging from 31 percent to 250 percent. As a result, Chinese solar sales in the U.S. dropped by 64 percent in April and 45 percent in May, according to the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing. In response, the Chinese government and solar panel industry have filed complaints, accusing the U.S. of trying to “protect its own industry amid an economic downturn,” the Wall Street Journal reported. Read the rest of this entry »
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technologies have surpassed important performance targets, according to the findings of a seven-year study just released by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Out of several car makers and energy companies that worked together in teams in the study, one achieved a 254-mile driving range for fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), and one team achieved average fuel cell stack durability of 2,521 hours. Read the rest of this entry »