17 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for May 21: Solar manufacturing makes good business sense for governments; NYC skyscraper earns highest environmental rating, LEED platinum
Canadian and provincial governments could spend $2.4 billion to build a large scale solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant and then give it away for free and still earn a profit in the long run, according to a financial analysis conducted by the Queen’s University Applied Sustainability Research Group in Kingston, Canada.
Queen’s University Mechanical Engineering Professor Joshua Pearce conducted the study — to be published in the August edition of the academic journal Energy Policy — to find out if it makes economic sense for governments to support solar cell manufacturing in Canada. He was surprised to discover the answer is an overwhelming yes even in extreme situations and feels governments should be aggressively supporting this industry to take advantage of the financial opportunity.
“This study uses hard financial numbers. Everything we did is transparent and all our equations are in the study,” says Professor Pearce. “The benefits of encouraging solar manufacturing in Canada are clear and massively outweigh the costs.”
The report looked at six different scenarios: everything from building a plant and giving it away or selling it to more traditional and less costly loan guarantees or tax holidays for a private sector company to construct the plant. In all the scenarios, both federal and provincial governments enjoyed positive cash flows in less than 12 years and in many of the scenarios both governments earned well over an eight per cent return on investments ranging from hundreds of millions to $2.4 billion.
The revenues for the governments of nearly $500 million a year, were determined from taxation (personal, corporate and sales), sales of panels, and saved health, environmental and economic costs associated with offsetting coal-fired electricity.
New York City’s second-tallest building received the highest rating for environmental performance and sustainability from the U.S. Green Building Council yesterday, becoming the first commercial skyscraper to get Platinum certification under the council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
The 54-story Bank of America Tower received the certification because of its water and energy efficiency, indoor air quality, green construction materials and other criteria. The building uses a 4.6-megawatt cogeneration plant and has floor-to-ceiling windows to cut down on the need for artificial light. Wastewater is recycled from the sinks, and urinals in the men’s rooms are waterless. The building is constructed from steel with 87 percent recycled material and 45 percent recycled concrete.
Bank of America said it went into construction hoping to build the most eco-friendly building possible. It’s estimated that the building saves 8 million to 9 million gallons of water every year. The interior of the building also has a lower carbon dioxide content, which developers say can help keep employees alert during the day.
Bank officials say the building’s green status projects the right image.
“In terms of how the financial services industry is seen by the public … a more buoyant economy and lower unemployment will make a big difference in our image,” said Anne Finucane, Bank of America’s global strategy and marketing officer.
Wind turbines could co-exist with military activities off Virginia’s coast depending on their locations, a Defense Department assessment has concluded.
Proponents of commercial wind power 12 miles or beyond Virginia’s coast believe the giant turbines could ultimately provide 10 percent of the state’s annual electricity demand and operate without incident in the military’s busy seas.
“I look at this as a very positive thing,” said Hank Giffin, a retired Navy vice admiral and a member of a coalition promoting offshore winds. “Initially there were a lot of people who were concerned the Navy would just say no.”
Released Wednesday, the Department of Defense assessment looks at 25 tracts identified for optimum winds. The report identifies 18 tracts as compatible with military needs and rules as long as certain guidelines are met. They were not detailed in the report.
Other tracts were ruled out because they conflict with Navy activities.
The area is used to test drones and by helicopters that sweep the ocean surface with mine-detecting sleds. Wind-power advocates have said they will honor the military’s concerns and not build where there are potential conflicts.
President Barack Obama will hold an event at the White House on Friday to announce the expansion of federal emissions standards to include trucks, an administration official said Thursday.
Obama is directing two federal agencies to create for the first time a national standard for medium-sized and heavy-duty trucks, the official said. The policy, to be carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, is designed to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gases and would apply to vehicles built from 2014 to 2018, the official said.
The president will also extend the federal emissions standards the administration adopted a year ago to include cars and light trucks manufactured from 2017 and beyond, according to the official. The current standards apply to vehicles made in the years 2012 to 2016 and sold in the United States.
“This announcement lays the groundwork for a more secure energy future by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, enhancing American competitiveness with a new generation of advanced electric vehicles, and protects the environment by reducing dangerous greenhouse gas and other pollutants,” the official said. “This isn’t just good for America’s energy security and our environment, it’s good for business, workers, and consumers too.”
The White House has invited stakeholders in the policy to attend Friday’s event, the official said.
While global warming is expected to spread tropical diseases into new areas, it appears human action to prevent malaria may be outpacing the spread of the debilitating disease. New Scientist points out a new study coming out of the University of Oxford that examined how much malaria has spread since 1900, when the world was 0.7°C cooler.
In total, the area where malaria is endemic has decreased from 58% to 30%, with the rate of transmission fallen nearly everywhere. That said, though overall area has decreased, malaria may still spread into new areas as our climate changes.
[JR: Given the misleading coverage in the blogosphere, I’ll do a post on the subject of climate change and malaria/health.]