Looking for a silver lining behind the gloomy clouds of climate change? One positive thing you might say about it is that climate change has stimulated private-sector decision-makers to focus on the vulnerabilities of their facilities and operations to the effects of extreme weather.
A recent report on Physical Risks From Climate Change highlights climate-related events that can affect companies. Prepared by Calvert Investments and co-sponsored by the aid organization Oxfam America and Ceres, a consortium of institutional investors, the report discusses such forces as “increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, and more frequent or intense droughts, floods, and storms” and how they can “pose serious challenges for company facilities, supply chains, employees, current and potential customers, and the communities on which companies depend.” Read the rest of this entry »
The U.S. Dept. of Energy (DoE) recently announced it will fund up to $13 million to develop and test advanced components and technologies to boost the performance of marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy systems. The DoE will select up to 10 awards aimed at developing advanced controls, power systems, and device structures specifically for MHK applications, which harness energy from waves, tides, or currents.
The new funding opportunity will support projects that increase the power-to-weight ratio of MHK devices or improve system reliability through investment in three component technologies. Read the rest of this entry »
When the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DoE) first put together their Electric Vehicle Roadmap, speculating as to what the next generation of lithium-ion batteries might look like, they suggested silicon anodes. It has been well known for some time that silicon can store a great deal of lithium, an attribute that could provide a lithium battery with unprecedented storage capacity.
The problem was that no one knew how to make one of those that wouldn’t self-destruct after a few dozen cycles. Technically speaking, the term is self-pulverization, which comes about as the result of the silicon swelling in size when loading up with lithium, and then shrinking back down when unloaded. Read the rest of this entry »
Everybody agrees that we need more R&D (research and development) in cleantech. The question, however, is do we need more R&D now, when those funds could be used to boost deployment instead?
In other words, do we need to throttle back on the R&D for the time being to focus on deployment? As it turns out, the market is doing just that: The Clean Energy Trends 2013 report finds that “Increased financing from deep-pocketed traditional energy and technology players is also helping to accelerate clean-tech deployment.” Read the rest of this entry »
There are many ways for American corporations and businesses to show the public that they are environmentally conscious, and doing everything they can to make sustainability a major part of their practice. For the past two decades, one major way companies have shown the public and their fellow business associates that they’re serious about sustainability and going green is by achieving ISO 14001 standard.
In the early 1990s the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) began creating a family of standards that related to environmental management; these standards were designed to help companies minimize how their work negatively impacts the environment, how it complies with laws of the country the business is based in, and ensures that the company is producing a product consistently and in a manner that also minimizes any damage to air or water quality. Read the rest of this entry »
The rapid rise of renewable energy and cleantech markets is causing many industrial companies to think a little differently about their business. Many are finding more energy efficient ways of producing their products, while others are finding applications for their products in clean technologies.
But few companies have made as drastic a shift in their business focus as American Vanadium. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, what started as a simple mining company is evolving into a clean energy storage company with an entirely unique approach and business model. Read the rest of this entry »
In 2012, the U.S. burned about 43 billion gallons of diesel fuel. Diesel has long been regarded as one of the worst sources of pollution in the world. The good news is that technology exists to reduce volume and severity of diesel emissions. The bad news is that only a small percentage of diesel-powered vehicles utilize this technology today.
A Michigan group is looking to change that. The Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV), in collaboration with NextEnergy and other partners, is leading the Michigan Clean Diesel Collaborative by replacing aging fleet vehicles throughout the state. Read the rest of this entry »
The accelerating growth rate in the production of LED (light-emitting diode) lighting means that manufacturers face dual opportunities: on the one hand, to get into the cleantech growth market for LEDs and components; and on the other hand, to save energy with a technology that is dropping quickly in cost.
I spoke recently with Alejandra Lozano, industry analyst for environmental and building technologies at research firm Frost & Sullivan, who has led some of the group’s recent research about the North American lighting equipment market. In reality, she told me, “the industrial vertical is not a big portion of the LED market.” In fact, she said, “the industrial segment is the smallest segment in the market” and is growing at a slower rate than the overall LED market. But probing further, what I found out is that the industrial segment is growing at “only” a 23 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) compared to the red-hot 26 percent rate of the overall market. Lozano said that Frost has seen LEDs “grow from a very small market a few years back to about $3.6 billion expected by 2017,” driven by energy savings, declining prices, technology improvements and supportive legislation. Read the rest of this entry »
Two years ago, the Nielsen ratings organization estimated that there were 114.7 million television sets in the U.S., representing 96.7% of all households, down slightly from the year before. With more and more content available online and viewable through computer monitors, tablets, and even smartphones, an increasing number of homes are becoming “zero TV.” That number has just reached 5 million, up from 2 million in 2007. With so many people throwing away their boxes, that means of a lot of additional e-waste, a big burden on the environment, especially considering that, according to EPA estimates, only 15 to 20 percent of all e-waste is currently being recycled.
This is particularly troublesome in the case of the old CRT (cathode ray tube)-style TVs and monitors, which are large and contain as much as 27 percent lead in the glass around and behind the picture tube known as the funnel and frit. EPA has designated CRTs as hazardous household waste, which means that they should not be going into landfills.
So what can be done with the leaded glass? Until recently, old CRT glass was recycled into new CRT glass. But that market has all but dried up in favor of newer LCD, LED and plasma models. That leaves CRT glass at the end of its useful life, all dressed up with no place to go. Read the rest of this entry »
If TCO Development’s idea for certifying the sustainability of smartphones catches on, consumers will be able to throw in “corporate social responsibility,” “environmental requirements” and “visual ergonomics” as comparison points between iPhones and Samsungs.
The new manufacturing certification criteria set is available in draft format for your perusal and comments during April, and TCO hopes to publish the criteria and start certifying in mid-May. Read the rest of this entry »