Friday, June 29, 2007

Renewable Energy News for June 29, 2007

  • New Report on Opportunities in the "Low Carbon Economy": The Climate Group has just published a new report on the boom of businesses in the new "low-carbon economy." The report - In the Black, The Growth of the Low-Carbon Economy (zip file) - covers "the rapid growth experienced by companies providing innovative low carbon products and services." It includes an informative analysis on the expansion of this new business sector and includes chapters on low carbon power sources, energy-smart products, low carbon vehicle technologies, and methods for financing "the solutions." It's well worth a read for those in the renewable energy industry (via Climate Action).
  • Enforcement of CAFE Standards? Geoffrey Styles, over at Energy Outlook, wonders why there hasn't been more debate about how to enforce the new CAFE standards now being considered by Congress. Under the current system a car manufacturer pays a small fine when its fleet of vehicles does not meet the 27.5 mpg CAFE standard (federal law imposes approximately $55 in fines for each mpg the fleet average is below the standard, multiplied by the number of vehicles produced in the model year. According to the most recent report from the National Highway Safety Administration - which enforces CAFE - the government collected approximately $21 million in fines between 2001 and 2003 from five companies: BMW, Lotus, Fiat, Porsche & Ferrari). As Mr. Styles notes, the current system really isn't much of a disincentive for companies to comply with CAFE. Even if the CAFE standards were raised to 35 mpg, a company that only reached 30 mpg would pay fines on the order of $275 per car - certainly not the doom-and-gloom scenario forecast by automakers. Mr. Styles comments that:
    if the new targets are implemented under the existing system of penalties, then there's little need for additional "offramps" to shelter manufacturers. However, if the penalties are strengthened, US carmakers could find themselves caught between the vise jaws of consumer inertia and regulatory pressure, despite having designed cars that would meet the target.
    The final version of the bill (large pdf) passed by the Senate last week was silent on the question of enforcement. Its time to take a closer look at the issue of enforcement if the House ever actually gets around to considering CAFE amendments.
  • Dean of Columbia Business School Argues for a Carbon Tax: The Energy Roundup Blog has video of an interesting interview with Glenn Hubbard, Dean of the Columbia Business School. At a recent conference in New York City, the former Bush economic adviser said its time to consider putting a price on carbon emissions. Dean Hubbard expressed the opinion that business and technological innovation is critical to "fixing the problems of climate change" but said he doesn't think that the necessary innovation will occur until we actually put a price on carbon.
  • The promise and perils of public investment in energy: David Roberts has an interesting post up over at the Gristmill Blog on the potential negative public reaction to increased regulation of carbon emissions and the potential resulting increase in energy costs. He cites an article in American Prospect by Peter Teague and Jeff Navin which argues that given the public anxiety over current energy costs its important to consider the potential benefits of public investments in climate change solutions as an alternative to regulatory approaches.

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