Daily Archives: May 20, 2009

Fiona Harvey

Efficiency standards for vehicles are not controversial in most developed, and an increasing number of developing, countries.

In the US, however, raising efficiency standards has been difficult. President George W Bush’s administration had little interest in the issue, and vehicle manufacturers lobbied against higher standards for years. They were worried that such a move would put them at a disadvantage compared with foreign manufacturers, which tended to make more efficient cars.

The US automotive industry has in fact entered into extensive litigation in many states, such as California which has proposed stringent improvements to efficiency. They have challenged in courts across the US the right of states to put in place “clean cars” programmes. And they have spent many more millions in lobbying against higher standards in Washington.

The car makers, requiring a huge injection of public cash to stay alive, are suddenly compliant. The US automotive industry welcomed President Obama’s proposals on emissions standards with open arms. There was no talk of competitive disadvantage, no threat of attempts to challenge the rules – instead a humble promise to meet the new standards.

What a difference the threat of bankruptcy makes. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

On Energy Source:

Oil sands and climate change legislation move to centre stage
Environmental and security needs clash Read more

Kate Mackenzie

WRVEC's website

Google has announced the first partners for its PowerMeter software – a tool for analysing data collecting by smart meters.

TXU Energy and India’s Reliance Energy are the most notable of the eight utilities, but as Google notes, it’s quite a mixed group in terms of size and ownership. We’ve gathered the customer numbers for each utility – though this is as disclosed on their websites so methods of counting may vary:

San Diego Gas & Electricity1.4m residential and business accounts
TXU Energy: 2m customers
JEA: 360,000 customers
Reliance Energy: 25m consumers
Wisconsin Public Service: 488,000 regulated electric utility customers
White River Valley Electric Co-operative: Not immediately obvious (But is has the zaniest company website we’ve ever seen)
Toronto Hydro-Electric System: 684,000 customers
Glasgow EPB (Kentucky): Also not immediately obvious, but presumably small Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Warnings of an oil supply crunch have been frequent and vocal in recent months. As oil prices fell from their peak in July, so did plans to invest in future oil production – and the world’s oil reserves are becoming increasingly difficult to get at, making investment even more important.

The IEA is joining the fray and has come out with its clearest warning yet that the world is headed for a supply crunch. In a new report, the agency reportedly warned that oil companies and investors have postponed about $170bn of projects, equivalent to about 2m barrels per day, and a further 4.2m in future oil supply capacity has been delayed by at least 18 months. Read more

Sheila McNulty

The move of Canada’s oil sands to centre stage could not have been more poorly timed.

A new report by Cambridge Energy Research Associates says that the oil sands have moved from the fringe to the centre of energy supply. Technological advances in the development of this unconventional fuel have made tapping it more economic, and drawn much interest, creating what CERA calls an increasingly important part of the fabric of hemispheric and global energy security.

Canada’s oil sands make it the world’s second largest holder of recoverable oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. This immense resource is estimated at 173bn barrels. And Canada is the number one foreign supplier of oil to the US.

Yet the recognition of the importance of this energy source has come about just as the US – and the world at large – has moved to limit the impact of climate change with legislation aimed at regulating the emission of green house gasses. The oil sands are a major polluter. Read more

- Obama unveils fuel efficiency alliance
Plan brings together carmakers, unions and environmentalists (FT)

- Green campaigners hail tough US standards on fuel use
New vehicles to be 30% cleaner by 2016 (FT) Read more