(3BL Media/Just Means) - REI, the outdoor retailer, has announced a commitment to sourcing all of its electricity from renewable sources. The company already has 26 solar electric systems generating clean power and a program designed to invest in energy efficiency.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Efforts to address the increasingly pressing climate challenge with rational policy continue to languish in Washington, as willfully ignorant conservatives continue to choose donor loyalty over science. But based on the surprisingly robust growth of renewable energy, you almost wouldn’t know it. It seems to be the case that if the government won't make us do it, we're just going to have go ahead and do it anyway. Indeed it seems as if we've done a far better job than anyone expected.
A new study conducted by the SUN DAY campaign, projects that electricity generation from renewable sources will reach 16% of the total by 2018. This is 22 years sooner than that predicted by US Energy Information Administration.
Using The EIA’s own data, the study was able to show that if renewables continue to grow at the present rate, they will outperform the EIA’s projections by a wide margin.
Considering the fact that between the years 2009 and 2013 renewables grew from less than 9% to nearly 13%, it’s hard to imagine that it would take until 2040, as the EIA forecast predicts, to reach 16%. Granted, there are obstacles to face and much low-hanging fruit has been harvested, but given the compelling combination of low prices, growing investment, available innovative financing, built-in cost resiliency, energy security, and the moral imperative to take meaningful action, there seems to be no stopping them now. A more realistic assessment, according to the SUN DAY report, shows us reaching 16%, conservatively, in five years, and possibly in as little as four, certainly not the 27 years that EIA claims.
This is a “disservice to the public,” says Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Inasmuch as policy makers in both the public and private sectors - as well as the media and others - rely heavily upon EIA data when making legislative, regulatory, investment, and other decisions, underestimation can have multiple adverse impacts on the renewable energy industry and, more broadly, on the nation's environmental and energy future.”
Indeed, Bloomberg estimates that investment in renewables should be expected to grow by somewhere between two and a half and four and a half times by 2030. That number is 35% more than their previous forecast that was made just a year ago. This underscores the fact that renewables are growing faster than anyone had predicted.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The Ethisphere Institute has come out with its annual list of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies.” The list includes 144 winners, with companies ranging from Ford Motor, Kellogg and Microsoft in the U.S. to IHCC, a Saudi hospital construction company, All Good Organics, a food company in New Zealand, and PKN Orlen, a Polish oil refining company.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Sustainable products such as organic foods and specialty apparel typically lack economies of scale, which means companies are compelled to position them in the premium segment for upper-income consumers. The use of organic farming, energy-efficient technologies and fair trade sourcing usually puts a premium price on these products.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is seen as a smart way to conduct business, making corporate entities into socially responsible citizens, visibly contributing to the social good. Socially responsible companies do not limit themselves to using their resources to engage in activities that increase only profits.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Not-for-profit organisations around the world all are hindered at time by the same obstacles, which is often the access to professional services and/or restricted budgets, where money is often too tight to spend it on legal and financial support, or on marketing and communications. This means that not-for-profits are not able to fully exploit their potential, or at times achieve the aims they have set.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Deloitte LLP has released its third annual “Core Beliefs & Culture” Survey that highlights a key connection between a strong sense of purpose and business confidence, profit and investment. The survey findings show that companies that are driven by a strong sense of purpose are more confident in growth prospects, while others focus on short term monetary goals.
(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - Russell Gold’s pragmatic piece about fracking in the Wall Street Journal makes a number of excellent points. First, our economy has such an enormous appetite for energy, that there is no way we can simultaneously give up coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas, as much as the environment would like us to, without bringing things to a screeching halt. So pick your poison.
Conventional wisdom has been that gas is the lesser of the four evils, especially after Fukushima, where nuclear lost most of whatever remaining luster it had. Even the esteemed Rocky Mountain Institute said we could wean ourselves off the other three, while growing the economy, so long as we had natural gas as a “bridge fuel.” That was before the precipitous drop in gas prices due to the discovery of Marcellus Shale and before the realization of the many issues associated with fracking.
Gold mentions several of them: the leaks, the lack of water testing or understanding as to what constitutes a safe and suitable site, and the lack of quality control throughout the process.
He does not mention several other issues including the question of earthquakes triggered by fracking, and the presence of radon in the gas. Radon has a radioactive half-life of 2-3 days. The means that by the time it reaches New York from places like Louisiana, it is no longer radioactive. But it can get to New York a lot faster from Pennsylvania.
Mr. Gold focuses more on pre-testing water before drilling in order to protect companies from “abusive false claims” of water contamination, than he does on legitimate claims.
As to the question of leaks, which the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently found were serious enough to make natural gas less climate-friendly than diesel fuel (though still more benign than coal), he says it’s just a matter of finding the leaks and fixing them. That could be easier said than done, considering the shoddy state of much of our infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines. There is also the fact that some of the leakage is intentional. Many natural gas wells operating in remote areas without electricity use pneumatic controllers that are powered by a flow of gas that spins a turbine before being released into the atmosphere. Annual releases of as much as 50 billion cubic feet have been recorded in recent years. The EPA has begun regulating these releases under the Clean Air Act, which has led to newer designs with lower emissions that are now being deployed. But these emissions could be cut to zero if solar powered electric units with backup batteries were used instead.
But perhaps the biggest omission is any discussion of any of the work that is currently taking place to actually make fracking safer.