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Sustainability as an Investment Class

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‘The only silver bullet’: Successfully mimicking the leaf has the potential to profoundly change the global energy industry

‘The only silver bullet’: Successfully mimicking the leaf has the potential to profoundly change the global energy industry

Artificial photosynthesis is the concept of mimicking the natural processes of the leaf by taking the 46 gigatons of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere and combining it with sunlight and water to create hydrocarbons such as methane (a key ingredient in natural gas) or methanol (a core element for running fuel cells, making myriad chemicals and powering cars).

Geoffrey Ozin isn’t all that interested in climate-change politics. From the perspective of the University of Toronto chemistry professor, the science of artificial photosynthesis he and his team of approximately 30 researchers — and unaffiliated researchers around the world — are developing is something that should be pursued irrespective of whether or not one views climate change as real.

“It is the only silver bullet we have,” he says in reference to the potential for generating a viable renewable energy source.

Artificial photosynthesis is the concept of mimicking the natural processes of the leaf by taking the 46 gigatons of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere and combining it with sunlight and water to create hydrocarbons such as methane (a key ingredient in natural gas) or methanol (a core element for running fuel cells, making myriad chemicals and powering cars).

Carbon dioxide is a fuel; it’s not a waste product

“Carbon dioxide is a fuel,” says Prof. Ozin. “It’s not a waste product. It’s a whole new take. We just have to learn to run the world in reverse.”

Continue reading the source article

 

WEF Impact Investing Report

wef-impact-investing-thumbOver the last few years, much excitement has been generated around the term “impact investing” – an investment approach that intentionally seeks to create both financial return and measurable positive social or environmental impact. Despite the buzz, there is limited consensus among mainstream investors and specialized niche players on what impact investing is, what asset classes are most relevant, how the ecosystem is structured and what constraints the sector faces. As a result, there is widespread confusion regarding what impact investing promises and ultimately delivers.

This report is a result of engaging over 150 mainstream investors, business executives, philanthropic leaders and policy-makers through interviews, workshops and conference calls. The overall objective of the Mainstreaming Impact Investing initiative is to provide an initial assessment of the sector and identify the factors constraining the acceleration of capital into the field of impact investing.

Download the report (PDF)

 

Despite gloomy financial news, green sectors are showing significant progress throughout

In spite of all the negative news coming out of the press (politicians not showing leadership, parliaments frozen, the financial sector reluctant to embrace so called “extra financial” investments), we continue to see good news in the impact investing space. We continuously see positive signals with regards to market growth, and movement towards dealing with Climate Risk and investing in ESG and Impact.

As of July 2012, $4.1 trillion has been privately invested in a greener, global economy, since 2007.

Renewable Energy as a sector is benefitting from reduced cost and greater efficiencies as well as from changing attitudes toward fossil fuels and diminished returns on investments. Green Construction is increasing significantly as the demolition subsector takes down outdated infrastructure. The Efficiency sector is adding material and water efficiencies boosting this sector.

As the world continues to invest at least $1 trillion per year until 2020, we are leaving the fossil fueled industrial era behind and are entering a new solar age – and not a minute to soon.

The August 2012 Supplement to the February 2012 report focuses on investments companies are making in green research and development (R&D). Click here to download The Green Transition Scoreboard®

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Alternative energy will no longer be alternative

Alternative energy will no longer be alternative

http://www.globalfundexchange.com/blog/2013/05/31/alternative-energy-will-no-longer-be-alternative/

“Renewable” power will soon start to be seen as normal.

Wind farms already provide 2% of the world’s electricity, and their capacity is doubling every three years. If that growth rate is maintained, wind power will overtake nuclear’s contribution to the world’s energy accounts in about a decade. Though it still has its opponents, wind is thus already a grown-up technology. But it is in the field of solar energy, currently only a quarter of a percent of the planet’s electricity supply, but which grew 86% last year, that the biggest shift of attitude will be seen, for sunlight has the potential to disrupt the electricity market completely.

The underlying cause of this disruption is a phenomenon that solar’s supporters call Swanson’s law, in imitation of Moore’s law of transistor cost. Moore’s law suggests that the size of transistors (and also their cost) halves every 18 months or so. Swanson’s law, named after Richard Swanson, the founder of SunPower, a big American solar-cell manufacturer, suggests that the cost of the photovoltaic cells needed to generate solar power falls by 20% with each doubling of global manufacturing capacity. The upshot (see chart) is that the modules used to make solar-power plants now cost less than a dollar per watt of capacity. Power-station construction costs can add $4 to that, but these, too, are falling as builders work out how to do the job better. And running a solar power station is cheap because the fuel is free.

Coal-fired plants, for comparison, cost about $3 a watt to build in the United States, and natural-gas plants cost $1. But that is before the fuel to run them is bought. In sunny regions such as California, then, photovoltaic power could already compete without subsidy with the more expensive parts of the traditional power market, such as the natural-gas-fired “peaker” plants kept on stand-by to meet surges in demand. Moreover, technological developments that have been proved in the laboratory but have not yet moved into the factory mean Swanson’s law still has many years to run.

Fossil-fuel-powered electricity will not be pushed aside quickly. Fracking, a technological breakthrough which enables natural gas to be extracted cheaply from shale, means that gas-fired power stations, which already produce a fifth of the world’s electricity, will keep the pressure on wind and solar to get better still. But even if natural gas were free, no Swanson’s law-like process applies to the plant required to turn it into electricity. Nuclear power is not a realistic alternative. It is too unpopular and the capital costs are huge. And coal’s days seem numbered. In America, the share of electricity generated from coal has fallen from almost 80% in the mid-1980s to less than a third in April 2012, and coal-fired power stations are closing in droves.

It may take longer to make the change in China and India, where demand for power is growing almost insatiably, and where the grids to take that power from windy and sunny places to the cities are less developed than in rich countries. In the end, though, they too will change as the alternatives become normal, and what was once normal becomes quaintly old-fashioned.

Continue reading this excellent article from the Economist

 

by anric

 

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Jeremy Grantham – The Race of our Lives

Jeremy Grantham – The Race of our Lives

http://www.globalfundexchange.com/blog/2013/04/29/jeremy-grantham-the-race-of-our-lives/

“Our global economy, reckless in its use of all resources and natural systems, shows many of the indicators of potential failure that brought down so many civilizations before ours. By sheer luck, though, ours has two features that might just save our bacon: declining fertility rates and progress in alternative energy. Our survival might well depend on doing everything we can to encourage their progress. Vested interests, though, defend the status quo effectively and the majority much prefers optimistic propaganda to uncomfortable truth and wishful thinking rather than tough action. It is likely to be a close race.
The collapse of civilizations is a gripping and resonant topic for many of us and one that has attracted many scholars over the years. They see many possible contributing factors to the collapse of previous civilizations, the evidence pieced together shard by shard from civilizations that often left few records. But some themes reoccur in the scholars’ work: geographic locations that had misfortune in the availability of useful animal and vegetable life, soil, water, and a source of energy; mismanagement in the overuse and depletion of resources, especially forests, soil, and water……

by Anric

 

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Giant 100MW Shams solar thermal plant comes online in Abu Dhabi

Giant 100MW Shams solar thermal plant comes online in Abu Dhabi

http://www.globalfundexchange.com/blog/2013/03/18/giant-100mw-shams-solar-thermal-plant-comes-online-in-abu-dhabi/

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Abu Dhabi’s Masdar project has officially inaugurated the world’s largest solar thermal power project, after yesterday bringing online the 100MW Shams 1 concentrated solar power (CSP) plant.
The $600m project, which was developed in partnership with oil giant Total and Spanish energy developer and solar specialist Abengoa, is now expected to displace approximately 175,000 tonnes of CO2 a year and act as a forerunner for further CSP projects in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“The inauguration of Shams 1 is a major breakthrough for renewable energy in the Middle East,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chief executive of Masdar in a statement. “Just like the rest of the word, the region is faced with meeting its rising demand for energy, while also working to reduce its carbon footprint. Shams 1 is a significant milestone, as large-scale renewable energy is proving it can deliver electricity that is sustainable, affordable and secure.”

The facility, which covers an area equivalent to 285 football fields in western Abu Dhabi, makes use of parabolic trough technology, featuring more than 258,000 mirrors mounted on 768 tracking solar collectors. The troughs concentrate the heat onto oil oil-filled pipes, which are then used to produce steam that drives a turbine to generate electricity.

Masdar said the project also features a dry-cooling system that significantly reduces water consumption, described as “a critical advantage in the arid desert of western Abu Dhabi”.
“This is a major step in the process of transforming the capabilities of solar power in the region,” said Christophe de Margerie, chairman and CEO of Total, in a statement. “We share Abu Dhabi’s vision that renewables have a promising future alongside fossil energies… As such, we are pleased to accompany the Emirate in the diversification of its energy mix.”

The official opening of the new project represents the latest in a series of milestones for the high profile Masdar project, which has committed to establishing Abu Dhabi as a major global renewable energy hub and investor, featuring the world’s first zero carbon city, new renewables-powered desalination infrastructure, and stakes in large scale renewable energy projects around the world.

by Anric

 

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