Cities Divided Over Fossil Fuel Investments

Divesting From Fossil Fuels, Investing In The Future

By James B. Stewart, New York Times

The trustees of Cooperstown, N.Y., hardly expected their village (population 1,834) to emerge as a flash point in a national debate over climate change and socially responsible investing.

But when they voted in October to divest the pension fund they oversee of all fossil fuel holdings, Cooperstown became the first community in the nation to do so — not just coal (like Stanford University), but also oil and gas.

climate change policy

Just as the divestiture movement has roiled college campuses across the country, pitting environmental activists against college endowment managers, the trustees’ decision caused a stir locally. The town treasurer and tax collector publicly opposed the move, and a village resident took to the local newspaper to suggest the trustees were indulging their personal causes at the expense of prudent portfolio management.

The issue has upset the usually tranquil village on the shores of scenic Otsego Lake, which bills itself as “America’s hometown” and is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Talk of carbon neutrality and fiduciary duty has at least temporarily supplanted Donald J. Trump, who easily carried Otsego County.

Cooperstown “is abuzz,” said Jim Kevlin, the editor and publisher of the local newspaper, The Freeman’s Journal (founded in 1808 by James Fenimore Cooper’s father) and its companion website, allotsego.com.

“I’ve gotten into arguments with a lot of my friends,” said Louis Allstadt, a retired Exxon Mobil executive and town trustee credited with spearheading the divestiture movement (or blamed for it, depending who you ask). “Even at my weekly lunch group.”

Mr. Allstadt is emerging as something of a small-town hero in the divestiture movement, in part because he has gone full circle on the issue, from managing all of Mobil Oil’s exploration efforts in the United States, Canada and Latin America and helping oversee Mobil’s merger with Exxon during a 31-year career in the industry, to an antifracking, anti-fossil-fuel activist.

air pollution and climate change

He has owned a house near Cooperstown since 1973, which served as both a vacation getaway and home base during the years he was based overseas. He moved to the village in 2008 and, after his post-retirement conversion, gave over 150 speeches in upstate New York as part of a successful campaign to ban fracking in the state.

“It’s so much worse than the conventional drilling I was familiar with,” he said. “I started talking about how to make it safer, and inevitably someone would ask, ‘Can you make it safe?’ And basically, the answer is no.”

Mr. Allstadt ran for town trustee as an independent, with support from both Democrats and Republicans. “I wasn’t running as a ‘green,’ or anything like that,” he said. “I mostly focus on efficiency and lowering costs.” (There are two independent trustees and four Democrats, which makes Cooperstown something of an anomaly in heavily Republican Otsego County.)

Mr. Allstadt is becoming more than a local celebrity. He will be featured next week at a news conference in New York City hosted by the fossil fuel divestment advocacy group Divest-Invest Philanthropy.

“Cooperstown showed immense leadership in its decision to divest,” said Lindsay Meiman, a spokeswoman for 350.org, the environmental activist group and a supporter of Divest-Invest.

But the move sparked immediate opposition outside the environmental movement, starting with the town treasurer and tax collector, Derek Bloomfield, who argued at the trustees meeting in October that energy stocks provided valuable diversification.

“Social investment should be done with one’s own money,” he maintained, according to a report in The Freeman’s Journal, adding that in his view, “fossil fuels have done more to raise mankind out of poverty than any other development through the ages.”

“They’ve created a great threat to humanity,” Mr. Allstadt shot back.

Mr. Allstadt argued that the industry faced insurmountable obstacles in the future and fossil fuel stocks would suffer as a result. “You don’t just keep driving your car when you see a cliff ahead,” he told The Freeman’s Journal.

The discussion “got a little contentious over the historic merit of fossil fuels,” the mayor, Jeff Katz, told me this week. He and his family were drawn to Cooperstown by its baseball legacy; he has written two books on the topic, including “Split Season,” about the strike-marred 1981 baseball season.

As a former options trader in Chicago, Mr. Katz is also financially sophisticated. He and the trustees oversee a pension fund, with total assets of about $900,000, that benefits the town’s volunteer firefighters and emergency squad. Of that amount, about $140,000 was invested in an S.&.P 500 fund that included fossil fuel stocks. But last year, State Street started an exchange-traded fund that excludes fossil fuels from the S.&P. 500 (the fund’s symbol is SPYX), offering a cost-efficient way to purge fossil fuels from any portfolio.

“It’s something people believe in, and we thought it’s a positive way for the name of Cooperstown to be out there,” the mayor said. “It’s meaningful in that way. It’s not so meaningful financially. We’re not a $100 million pension fund. No one will suffer if Exxon Mobil triples in the next year.”

He added that he and the trustees didn’t realize Cooperstown would be the first community in the nation to divest itself of all fossil fuels.

But the trustees’ decision, and especially Mr. Allstadt’s comments about driving off a cliff, struck a nerve with a village resident, David Russell, who moved with his family to Cooperstown from Westchester County soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Mr. Russell is an asset manager who commutes to Manhattan, but he is also steeped in pension fund management as a former counsel to the New York state comptroller H. Carl McCall, who oversaw the state’s vast public retirement plan.

“It’s a very pristine place up here,” Mr. Russell told me this week. “Feelings run very high about the environment. A lot of people went crazy over fracking.”

“Lou Allstadt went from being a retired oil executive to a pied piper against fossil fuels, which is fine for him personally,” he added. “But as a trustee, you have to look at this through the lens of fiduciary duty, which means acting in the best interest of the beneficiaries. Village trustees shouldn’t be stock pickers, and they shouldn’t be injecting social issues into the decision.”

“I’d never written anything in the paper before,” Mr. Russell said, “but I felt strongly that someone had to speak up.”

So he drafted a lengthy op-ed for The Freeman’s Journal, arguing that the trustees had a duty to seek the “best risk-adjusted returns” for the fund and should be “free from any conflicts of interest or political beliefs/statements.”

Mr. Russell noted that so far this year, the SPYX fund, minus fossil fuels, had lagged the SPY fund by 16 percent.

He added that stock in the two leading firearms manufacturers — Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger — which were sold off by many pension funds after the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy, have risen 400 percent and 100 percent since then, easily outpacing broad market indexes.

Read The Full Story at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/08/business/much-ado-in-cooperstown-ny-over-vote-to-dump-fossil-fuel-stocks.html?emc=edit_tnt_20161209&nlid=59791470&tntemail0=y&_r=0

Climate Fund Moving At Glacial Speed

Focus On Sustainability, Clean Energy

The Green Climate Fund is finally getting some legs. The big question now is what direction it will pursue. Local ownership, sustainability and a firm commitment to clean energy are a few of the apparent priorities.

“The GCF board is aiming to have at least a few projects in the pipeline in time for COP21 [the high-level climate change summit in Paris in December] – to show the world that the fund is open for business and that developed countries are putting their money where their mouths are,” Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth told IPS. “Of course, this will be more credible once substantially more of the money pledged to the GCF is legally committed.

Green Climate Fund projects
Can the Green Climate Fund move fast enough to make a difference?

“It is essential that those first GCF projects set the appropriate precedent for future-financed activities. The GCF must showcase the best of what it has to offer,” she added. “This means directly addressing the adaptation and mitigation needs of the vulnerable through environmentally-sound initiatives that promote human rights and benefit local economies, rather than Wall Street-type transactions that may theoretically have trickle-down benefit for the poor.”

The Fund is the United Nations’ premier mechanism for funding climate change-related mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. At the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, donors agreed to mobilize 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, in an undefined mix of public and private funding, to help developing countries. The GCF is to be a cornerstone of this mobilization, using the money to fund an even split between mitigation and adaptation projects.

Actual funding has trickled in slowly. But delivery of a pledge by the government of Japan late last month for $1.5 billion carried the Fund over the required 50 percent threshold to begin allocating resources for projects and programs in developing countries.

The Fund aims to finalize its first set of projects for approval by the GCF Board at its 11th meeting in November.

It has also identified strategic priority areas and global investment opportunities that are not adequately supported by existing climate finance mechanisms, and can be used to maximize the GCF’s impact, especially investments in efficient and resilient cities, land‐use management and resilience of small islands.

“Projects must be genuinely country-driven, which means not only government-driven but also driven by communities, civil society and local private sector. And, of course, there must be no trace of support for dirty energy,” Orenstein said.

Green Climate Fund

To date, 33 governments, including eight developing countries, have pledged close to 10.2 billion dollars equivalent, with 21 of them signing a part or all of their contribution agreement. But how to maintain and accelerate that funding in the long term remains to be seen.

In a new analysis, the World Resources Institute (WRI) notes that more than five years after Copenhagen, the sources, instruments, and channels that should count toward the 100-billion-a-year goal remain ambiguous.

It suggests four possible scenarios: developed country climate finance only; developed country finance plus leveraged private sector investment; developed country finance, multilateral development bank (MDB) climate finance (weighted by developed countries’ capital share) and the combined leveraged private sector investment; and all the first three sources, plus climate-related official development assistance (ODA) as compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In terms of which is most likely to be adopted, as governments negotiate a comprehensive new climate change agreement for the post-2020 period, Michael Westphal, a senior associate on WRI’s Sustainable Finance team, told IPS that parties have not agreed yet on even what finance sources should count.

“Our scenario analysis is focused on assessing how likely is it that each scenario could reach 100 billion dollars, given different assumptions of growth and leverage,” he explained.

“One of the main conclusions, not surprisingly, is that the more sources that are included, the more realistic is it for the 100 billion dollars to be reached – i.e., it would require lower growth rates and assumptions about how much private finance is leveraged per public dollar.”

Supplemental funding could flow from new and innovative sources, such as the redirection of fossil fuel subsidies, carbon market revenues, financial transaction taxes, export credits, and debt relief, the analysis says.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that pre-tax fossil fuel subsidies for OECD countries – long derided as irrational and destructive by environmental groups and many economists – amounted to 13.3 billion dollars in 2012.

Budgetary support and tax expenditures to fossil fuels totalled 76.4 billion dollars in 2011 for the OECD’s 34 member countries.

“On fossil fuel subsidies, the G20 has agreed to phase them out over the medium term, so we think it is likely to have progress on this front over the next five years,” Westphal told IPS.

“The IMF has written extensively about the costs of fossil fuel subsidies, so the issue is now a front burner issue for multilateral finance institutions.  As for ETS [emission trading system], governments would have to agree to divert some of the revenues from the allowances into their budgets for international climate finance.”

But even should the funding goal be reached, observers will be watching closely to see where the money goes.

Karen Orenstein has compared the push by some governments and financial institutions for “less dirty” fossil fuels to fight climate change to a doctor telling his cancer-ridden patient that “it’s fine to smoke, as long as the cigarettes are filtered.”

She notes that the list of activities that can currently be counted under the Common Principles (approved by multilateral development banks and the International Development Finance Club in March) as climate mitigation finance includes “energy-efficiency improvement in existing thermal power plants” and “thermal power plant retrofit to fuel switch from a more GHG-intensive fuel to a different, less GHG-intensive fuel type.”

“In the broad spectrum of fossil fuels, there is always going to be a project or fuel type that is relatively more or less dirty than another,” Orenstein says. “Allowing so-called climate financing for projects that are slightly less dirty than a hypothetical alternative is a sure way to game the system.”

She’s also guarding against the funding of false solutions like so-called “climate smart” agriculture, biofuels, waste incineration, nuclear energy and big dams – many of which are included in the Common Principles.

Climate Change News via http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/climate-fund-rolls-out-amid-hopes-it-stays-green/

Eiffel Tower Now A Wind Turbine

Paris Climate Plan Revising History

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular sights in the world, and now it stands taller than ever. The historic structure is partially powering itself thanks to two new wind turbines that were just installed.

eiffel tower wind energy generator

Located above the second level, the turbines will produce over 10,000 kWh of electricity per year, offsetting the annual consumption of commercial activity on the Eiffel Tower’s first floor, which thanks to a larger refurbishment project now includes two panoramic pavilions with meeting and conference spaces, plus a new glass floor.

One of the major goals of the refurbishment project was to achieve a significant reduction in its ecological footprint as part of the City of Paris Climate Plan.

In addition to the wind turbines, other green enhancements include roof mounted solar panels–whose output will meet approximately 50 percent of the water heating needs of both new pavilions–plus a rainwater recovery system that provides flushing water to the toilet facilities, and also reduces the amount of energy needed to power the booster pumps used to pump water to the higher levels of the vertiginous tower.

To top off the green changes, in another energy saving move, almost all of the lighting on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower has been converted to LED.

The Eiffel Tower’s green upgrades come at a good time, with the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC due to take place in Paris this December.

Speaking about those upgrades, Eiffel Tower spokesman Jean François Martins shares, “The Eiffel Tower and its teams are constantly developing features, hospitality facilities and services offered to visitors, in ways that respect the principles of sustainable development and ensure high levels of safety.”

U.S.-based Urban Green Energy (UGE), the self-proclaimed global leader in distributed renewable energy, was the lucky company chosen to install the Eiffel Tower’s two VisionAIR5 vertical axis wind turbines, in partnership with the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), the Paris authority responsible for managing the Tower.

How does UGE CEO Nick Blitterswyk feel to have such a high (no pun intended) profile client? “The Eiffel Tower is arguably the most renowned architectural icon in the world, and we are proud that our advanced technology was chosen as the Tower commits to a more sustainable future,” he says.

Installing giant wind turbines into an iconic structure located 400 feet above ground level was no easy task for UGE. Mounting the turbines required each component to be hoisted individually and suspended with rope above the tower’s second level.

Noise from the turbines is not a concern because apparently the new additions are super quiet as far as wind turbines go, and in case you’re worried that the turbines will visually conflict with the Eiffel Tower’s original design, the turbines are “specially painted to match the iconic tower,” as UGE put it. Amazingly, the Eiffel Tower remained open to the public throughout the entire refurbishment project, including all of its sustainable development upgrades.

Given the precarious state of the environment, if he was alive today, who knows what Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the original Eiffel Tower, would think of the new wind turbines.

Hopefully he would see them as a step in the right direction–a symbol for the world to admire–that conveys the reality of humanity’s situation, which is that without a planet, nothing else will matter.

As for UGE, their dream is to power the world with renewable energy. Perhaps next they can try for the Golden Gate Bridge. It gets awfully windy up there.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/the-eiffel-tower-is-now-a-powerful-wind-energy-machine.html#ixzz3T9KPeKqH

Jordan’s Mosques Go Solar

All 6,000 Mosques In Jordan Will Run On Solar Energy

As global oil prices continue to drastically fluctuate up and down over the years, the Kingdom of Jordan has announced that all of their mosques will soon run on solar energy, in an attempt to save money and promote sustainable development.

Jordan mosque solar power

Jordan is a country almost devoid of natural resources – most of the land is completely barren. The Jordanian economy is beset by insufficient supplies of water, oil and other resources, and to make things even worse, they import 96 percent of the energy they use.

Ahmad Abu Saa, of the Renewable Energy Department at the ministry stated “that photovoltaic solar systems for power generation will be installed at the Kingdom’s mosques under a project to be implemented in the course of this year.” The project will start by covering 120 mosques and tenders will be soon floated to install such systems at other mosques across the country, he added. It may not seem like much, but mosques actually use a lot of energy.

“Mosques use large amounts of electricity and the project will help to significantly reduce their electricity bills as around 300 days in the year are sunny,” Abu Saa noted. The funding is a pioneering move in the Middle East, and will hopefully pave the way for other countries. “Based on the funds that we secure, we will go ahead with the project. The more finance we get the faster the project will be implemented. Some of the mosques will get such systems this year,” he said.

Jordan seems to take a leading spot in the Middle East in terms of sustainable development. Resources have set a target to obtain 10 percent of energy from renewable resources by 2020. As of November 2014 Jordan had 10MW of installed capacity from renewable energy, and had over 15 renewable energy power plants in progress to be completed by the end of 2015, raising the installed capacity to 500MW, representing 14 percent

of the overall installed capacity.

Sustainable City News via http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/renewable-energy-ecology/jordan-mosque-solar-energy-18022015/

Glasgow Becomes First University In Europe To Divest From Fossil Fuels

Smart Money Says Fossil Fuels For Dinosaurs

Glasgow University has become the first academic institution in Europe to divest from the fossil fuel industry, in a turning point for the British arm of the student-led global divestment movement.

After 12 months of campaigning, led by the Glasgow University Climate Action Society and involving over 1,300 students, the university court on Wednesday voted to begin divesting £18m from the fossil fuel industry and freeze new investments across its entire endowment of £128m.

fossil fuels and climate change
Glasgow University dumps fossil fuel investments to help fight climate change.

Describing the result as “a dramatic beachhead for the divestment movement,” American environmentalist and climate activist Bill McKibben said that it sent a powerful signal that Europe would be “just as powerful in this fight as Australia and North America.”

“That it comes from Glasgow, which has as much claim to birthing the industrial revolution as any city on Earth, makes it that much more special,” said McKibben. “Everyone from the Rockefellers on down is realizing it’s time to move on.”

As of last month, more than 800 global investors – including foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers, religious groups, healthcare organizations, universities and local governments – have pledged to withdraw a total of $50bn (£31bn) from fossil fuel investments over the next five years as a result of the campaign which began on college campuses in the United States three years ago.

Writer and activist Naomi Klein said that Glasgow University had joined “a fast-growing global movement providing much-needed hope to the prospect of climate action.”

“Students around the world are making it clear that the institutions entrusted to prepare them for the future cannot simultaneously bet against their future by profiting from corporations that plan to burn many times more carbon than our atmosphere can safely absorb,” said Klein.

“They are sending an unequivocal message that fossil fuel profits are illegitimate – on par with tobacco and arms profits – and that brings us a significant step closer to demanding that our politicians sever ties with this rogue industry and implement bold climate policies based on a clear, progressive ‘polluter pays’ principle.’”

Glasgow University joins thirteen US universities, including Stanford, which have already committed to divest from the fossil fuel industry. In the UK, student unions at Imperial College and University College, London, are demanding that their institutions take similar action. The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), at the University of London, has agreed to a temporary freeze on investment in advance of a decision on full divestment to be taken later this year.

Decisions are also imminent from the University of Edinburgh, which conducted a staff and student consultation that was overwhelmingly in support of divestment. Oxford University and its colleges, which have an endowment wealth of £3.8bn, the largest of any higher education institution in the UK, is currently conducting a staff-only consultation, after almost 2,000 students and academics joined a campaign calling for divestment.

Andrew Taylor of the People and Planet Network, which has launched over fifty ‘Fossil Free’ campaigns across the UK involving over 15,000 students in the past year, said: “Divestment now has a firm foothold in the UK. Student and academic pressure to get out of fossil fuels is building across the sector. It’s time to stop profiting from wrecking the climate, whether you’re an institution with lots of money like Oxford or Edinburgh, or a world leader in climate research such as the University of East Anglia. Glasgow has helped make the moral case crystal clear and we expect more universities to very soon put their money where their research is.”

Founded in 2011 across just half a dozen US college campuses, the fossil fuel divestment movement has gained remarkable traction over a relatively short period of time. A study by Oxford University last autumn found that it had grown faster than any previous divestment campaign, including those relating to apartheid, armaments and tobacco.

The campaign has recently enjoyed a succession of symbolic boosts. Last month, the heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune announced that they were withdrawing funds from fossil fuel investments and in July the World Council of Churches, which represents over half a billion Christians worldwide, decided to pull its investments out of fossil fuel companies.

Writing in the Guardian in April, Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged that “people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.”

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/08/glasgow-becomes-first-university-in-europe-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels

Suzuki Sees Hope On Climate Change

Sustainability Advocate Still Hopeful 

This week, as the White House issued a landmark report detailing the frightening affects of global warming on our country and President Obama took to the airwaves to drive home that message, Bill Moyers talks with a scientist who has sounded the alarm for decades.

David Suzuki climate change
David Suzuki still sees hope on climate change.

For nearly 35 years, David Suzuki has brought science into the homes of millions on the Canadian television series, The Nature of Things. He has become a godfather of the environmental movement, and in a poll of his fellow Canadians last fall he was named that country’s most admired figure.

Nonetheless, his outspoken views on climate change and the government’s collusion with the petrochemical industry in developing Canada’s oil-rich tar sands have made him the target of relentless attacks from his nation’s prime minister, corporations and right-wing ideologues.

“Our politicians should be thrown in the slammer for willful blindness. We are being willfully blind to the consequences for our children and grandchildren. It’s an intergenerational crime,” Suzuki tells Moyers.

Source: http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-time-to-get-real-on-climate-change/#.U22LmLUwGmU.twitter

California Launches World’s Largest Solar Power Generator

PGE Helps Make California Greener

Earlier in February, the state of California got a whole lot greener with the opening of Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal energy plant. The plant generates clean energy through a system that focuses solar energy to create steam for powering turbines.

The gigantic solar array, which sits on 2,400 acres of land in Arizona, has achieved “substantial completion” and is cranking up to speed according to the Energy Department.  When at peak capacity it will crank out enough electricity for 230,000 homes.

Agua Caliente received a $967 million Energy Department loan guarantee. The DOE dished out another $1.6 billion to the new Ivanpah concentrating solar power plant (also the largest of its kind in the world). 

agua caliente PGE
PGE’s landmark solar project is located in Arizona.

The world’s largest fully-operational solar power plant has recently finished construction. With a maximum capacity of 290 megawatts, the Agua Caliente power plant will generate renewable energy for 230,000 homes back in California. That’s roughly the energy output generated by dirty coal-fired power plants. San Francisco’s Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will harness that power to help make the Golden State a little greener.

Each year, the massive solar field will prevent around 324,000 tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere — that’s the equivalent of taking 70,000 cars off of the road. Special thin solar panels developed by First Solar were used for the project, which was funded in part by a federal loan, and named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World. From a bird’s eye view, the arrangement of solar panels appears as a grid of extra large mirrors. We just hope the birds flying over Agua Caliente won’t face the same fate as those at Ivanpah.

Source: http://architizer.com/blog/largest-solar-plant/

General Electric To Invest $1 Billion A Year In Renewable Energy Projects

More Solar, Wind In Pipeline

General Electric Co.’s Energy Financial Services has invested about $10 billion in 17 gigawatts of renewable power since 2006, when the unit was formed. Now, GE has announced the unit plans to invest more than $1 billion a year in clean energy projects, such as wind and solar.

EFS Chief Executive Officer David Nason told Bloomberg News that renewable power is EFS’s fastest-growing energy market. “We see renewable energy providing very significant returns going forward,” Nason said. “We have a robust pipeline in the U.S. for the next couple of years.”

General Electric renewable energy
GE is making a major investment in renewable energy projects.

While GE’s core business is oil and gas infrastructure, the company is looking to invest in solar and wind because these forms of energy employ GE equipment such as wind turbines and power inverters. GE owns part of the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar farm, which is being built using GE power inverters. Wind farms under construction or completed across the U.S. and in other countries like Ireland use more than 4,400 GE wind turbines.

About $8 billion of GE’s $10 billion in renewable energy investments to date are in 12 gigawatts of wind farms, with most of the rest of the $2 billion going towards 1 gigawatt of solar power projects. These investments span 16 countries and 28 states.

And on Friday, GE announced it will expand its renewable energy horizon by making its first investment in a solar power project in India — $24 million in a 151 megawatt solar array built by Welspun Renewables Energy Pvt. Ltd (WREPL).

“The combination of our renewable project development expertise and GE’s financial strength and risk management will help achieve the ambitious goals set by the government to expand the use of renewable energy in India,” said Vineet Mittal, vice chairman at WREPL.

General Electric Co. executives recently announced they expect annual profit from energy investments to double to nearly $800 million by 2020, with CEO Jeff Immelt having made the area a key part of his desire to bring the company back to its manufacturing origins.

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/26/3430973/ge-to-invest-1-billion-a-year-in-renewable-projects/

Renewable Investments By Norway Could Re-Shape World

Norway Could Lead World To Sustainability

With more than $750 billion of holdings in its sovereign wealth fund, Norway is on the brink of potentially making renewable energy investments around the world. Erna Solberg, who will be named Norway’s second female prime minister, has already heard proposals from her government to use sovereign wealth fund money to invest in sustainable companies and projects in developing countries, Climate News Network reported today. Leader of the conservative party, Solberg won the election in September.

renewable energy
PGE’s landmark solar project in Arizona.

She hasn’t publicly discussed the specific companies and projects the country might invest in, but there are already high hopes.

“If Norway actually does this, it will be an unprecedented shift in the global investment community and also for tangible action on climate change,” said Samantha Smith, head of the global climate and energy initiative at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Financial analysts predict that other nations will follow Norway’s lead and also invest in renewable energy projects. Pension funds in Denmark and the Netherlands already support the renewables sector.

Legally, Norway’s fund can invest 60 percent of its money in stocks, 35 percent in bonds and up to 5 percent in real estate around the world. The fund owns large portions of some of Europe’s leading companies. Experts estimate that one in every $80 invested in global equities is owned by Norwegians.

The WWF wants Norway to allocate 5 percent of its portfolio to direct investments in renewable energy infrastructure and projects and to end its investments in coal and tar sands. The Norwegian government will also consider establishing a dedicated mandate for renewable energy.

“Norwegian savings could change the world,” WWF-Norway head Nina Jensen said. “This would provide a powerful boost for the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”

See more at: http://ecowatch.com/business/renewable-business/norway-renewable-energy-could-change-world/#sthash.WMwfjQ8P.dpuf

MGM Resorts Betting On Solar System

In Las Vegas, everything is on a grander scale, so it should come as no surprise the gambling capital of the world soon will be home to one of the world’s largest rooftop solar systems.

MGM Resorts knows a good bet when it sees one.
MGM Resorts knows a good bet when it sees one.

NRG Energy last week announced plans to install a 6.2 megawatt (MW) installation on top of the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center. At peak production, the array should produce enough electricity to meet around a fifth of the building’s energy demand, while reducing pressure on the grid at the hottest time of the day.

“The new 20,000-panel solar rooftop array at Mandalay Bay will effectively enable the resort to lock in a substantial component of its energy costs at a very competitive rate,” Tom Doyle, president and chief executive of NRG Solar, said in a statement.

“Our expectation is that other corporations will follow thought leaders like MGM Resorts to protect our planet.”

Once the project is completed, Mandalay Bay will buy the electricity generated through a power purchase agreement.

The system is the latest in a series of environmental measures taken by parent company MGM Resorts under its Green Advantage sustainability initiative.

Over the past five years, the company has reduced its energy intensity by more than 12 percent and has saved more than 2.5 billion gallons of water.

The news comes as U.S. developer SolarCity announced it has started fitting 3.4 MW of solar rooftop systems at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The project will see solar systems installed on more than 600 military homes as part of the company’s SolarStrong program to power 120,000 military residences.

Similar schemes are underway at bases in Texas, Hawaii, Los Angeles and Colorado, contributing to the Department of Defense’s target to meet a quarter of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2025.

In other solar industry news, the investment arm of insurance giant Aviva has acquired a 12.3 MW portfolio of residential solar systems built on 4,000 U.K. homes from Ecovision Renewable Energy Ltd.

Aviva Investors will collect revenue generated through the feed-in tariff subsidy scheme, while residents continue to save money on their electricity bills.

“This acquisition continues the expansion of our activities in the U.K. renewable sector and is in line with our strategy of investing in high quality infrastructure assets with attractive yields,” Ian Berry, fund manager of infrastructure and renewable energy at Aviva Investors, said in a statement.

“As institutions continue to look towards assets that offer secure and long-dated income streams in order to meet their liabilities, we believe infrastructure opportunities such as this offer the potential to meet these needs.”

Source: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2279484/mgm-resorts-raises-stakes-with-giant-vegas-solar-system