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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (10/8/06)
Mike Millikin, 8 Oct 06

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The second Ministerial meeting of the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development took place in Monterrey, Mexico on October 3-4. The Gleneagles Dialogue was launched by the UK last year at the G8 Summit on July 6-8, 2005.

The meeting convened Ministers and senior officials with responsibility for energy and environment issues from the G8, the +5 countries (Mexico, Brazil, China, India and South Africa) and Australia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Poland, South Korea and Spain. Russia did not attend. Senior officials from the World Bank, Regional Development Banks, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency and the World Economic Forum business group along with Globe International were also in attendance.

According to UK Environment Secretary David Miliband, although the meeting will lead to enhanced action to promote lower carbon growth, "the Dialogue also recognized that the scale of future investment is much larger than current investment flows. There needs to be a substantial expansion of the global carbon market."

Without further action, we heard that carbon dioxide emissions in 2050 will be 137 per cent higher than in 2003, driven by the increasing use of coal for electricity generation, oil-based transport fuels and rapid economic growth in countries with large coal reserves. Business as usual is not an option.

—UK Environment Secretary David Miliband

Interviewed after the meeting, Britain’s chief scientific advisor, Sir David King, who has been outspoken about the need to tackle climate change, said "I have to say the conclusion among all the countries is that the basic science is no longer disputed, the science of climate change is accepted by all the nations that were present."

The week also saw a continuing flow of reports on ongoing arctic warming, and projections from the Hadley Centre that global drought could double by the end of the century, putting millions more at risk.

The question outstanding is whether or not there is the political and social will to do something about it soon enough. Both the International Energy Agency (IEA) and British government-backed economist Sir Nicholas Stern argued that it was better—and much less expensive ultimately—to cut greenhouse gas emissions now than to wait for the climate to change then try to adapt.

The politics of it are not encouraging. According to the BBC’s Environment analyst in attendance at the meeting in Mexico City:

One delegate told me he thought the pace of political ambition on emissions was so slow that we had a 1,000-1 chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. He later sent me a text message to assert that he had been overly pessimistic. The odds, he said, were only 100-1. The chances were bad, he said, but it was still worth fighting on.

Political obduracy at the national level puts more of a burden on localized, social/consumer and economic drivers as potential countering forces.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced a new global warming initiative that marks the beginning of a long-term strategy by the state to combat global climate change. (More...)

The Alberta (Canada) government is committing C$239 million (US$ 212 million) over the next five years to strengthen and expand the province’s—more widely known as the motherlode of oil sands—bioenergy sector. (More...)

US sales of light-duty trucks and SUVs rebounded in September, increasing to 720,092 units—5.4% more than sales in September 2005. Light-duty trucks thus represented 53% of new vehicles sold in September. (More...)

US sales of hybrids in the US in September rose 21.5% from September 2005 but dipped from record levels of prior months, with a total of 23,301 units sold. Hybrids represented 1.72% of new vehicles sold in September. (More...)

A study by JD Power has found that reported fuel efficiency for heavy-duty truck engines has declined to 5.72 mpg in 2006—down from 5.91 mpg in 2005 and 6.04 mpg in 2004. (More...)

HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Nissan's first hybrid, the 2007 Altima Hybrid, made its debut at the 2007-Model Orange County Auto Show in Anaheim, California. Nissan will sell the hybrid in only 8 states initially. (More...)

Ford unveiled the new 2008 Mariner and Mariner Hybrid at the South Florida International Auto Show. This marks the first major refresh of the Mariner model since its launch in 2005. (More...)

Toyota reportedly plans to boost the ratio of Lexus hybrids sold in Europe from 27% of total Lexus sales at present to nearly 50% by the early 2010s, targeting annual sales of 100,000 units. (More...)

The City of Boston has launched Boston CleanAir Cabs, a program to replace ordinary taxis with cleaner vehicle technology. Boston’s first Hybrid Taxi, a Camry hybrid owned by Boston Cab Association, is now in service. (More...)

SVE (Société de véhicules électriques), an electric vehicle developer jointly created by the French companies Heuliez and Dassault, has launched a new version of its hybrid powertrain called Cleanova Plus, which combines the firm’s battery-electric system with a spark ignition engine running on 100% bioethanol as a range-extender. (More...)

Azure Dynamics Corporation has signed an agreement with Ford Motor Company to enable Azure to develop a hybrid electric powertrain for Ford’s E-series commercial platform. (More...)

BATTERIES and ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Venturi, the French manufacturers of the Fetish electric sports car, have introduced a low-speed electric vehicle that can be recharged via roof-mounted solar panels or with a personal wind turbine. (More...)

HYDROGEN

Six cities and regions in Europe and Canada are joining forces to buy hydrogen-powered buses. (More...)

HyPower Fuel, has received an additional order for its Hydro Power Pak (HPP) units from Cox Sanitation & Recycling. The HPP units generate small amounts of hydrogen on-board a truck via a small electrolyzer and then inject the gas into the fuel charge to improve combustion and reduce emissions. (More...)

Hy-Drive Technologies, another vendor of on-board hydrogen generation and injeciton untis, closed its first sales order from Mining Technologies International (MTI) for a version of the Hydrogen Generation System (HGS) designed for mining equipment. (More...)

New York Governor George Pataki announced plans today for a hydropower-to-hydrogen generation project. The project is expected to serve a number of hydrogen-fueled work and passenger vehicles and transit buses and corresponds with the New York State Hydrogen Roadmap. (More...)

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a new class of hydrogen fuel-cell catalysts that exhibit promising activity and stability. The catalysts are made of low-cost nonprecious metals entrapped in a heteroatomic-polymer structure, instead of platinum materials typically used in fuel cells. Replacing platinum with the non-precious metal composite could reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells. (More...)

Praxair announced the startup of a new hydrogen plant in Whiting, Indiana. The new SMR (steam methane reformer), with a capacity of 20 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd), will supply hydrogen to BP and other customers in northern Indiana. BP will use the hydrogen in the production of ultra-low-sulfur gasoline and diesel fuels. BP recently announced that it plans to spend some $3 billion reconfiguring its Whiting Refinery so most of its feedstock can be heavy Canadian crude from the oil sands. Hydrogen is a critical component in upgrading heavy crude and other refining operations. The heavier and more sour (sulfur-laden) the oil, the more hydrogen is required to refine the crude to meet required standards.

Refining operations in 2005 required on average 490 standard cubic feet of hydrogen (1.16 kg H2) per barrel of crude refined. Praxair projects that to increase to an average of 750 standard cubic feet (1.78 kg H2) per barrel by 2015. (More...)

BIOFUELS

There are now 1,000 publicly and privately accessed E85 fueling locations throughout the United States according to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC). That number represents about 0.6% of the number of gasoline fueling stations in the US (170,000). (More...)

Following successful trials of B20 biodiesel (20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel) in a number of diesel trucks that began in July, the city of Tucson, Arizona has announced that it intends to convert the vast majority of its diesel fleet to B20. (More...)

General Motors Spain is partnering with Abengoa Bioenergy for the launch of the Saab 9-5 BioPower E85 flex-fuel vehicle in Spain next year. The move is part of a larger European rollout by GM of both the 2.0t and 2.3t models (earlier post) of the 9-5 BioPower beyond their initial markets in the Nordic countries, the UK and Ireland. (More...)

Global Green Solutions has agreed to fund a pilot plant demonstrating an algae-based bioreactor system that converts captured CO2 to bio-fuel oil. (More...)

SYNTHETICS

DuPont and Broin, the largest dry mill ethanol producer in the US, are combining DuPont’s bioengineering with Broin’s corn fractionation technology to advance the development of the production of cellulosic bioethanol from corn stover in the US. (More...)

Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have formed a strategic research alliance to advance the development of renewable transportation fuels. (More...)

Researchers at Argentina’s Instituto de Investigaciones en Catlisis y Petroquímica (INCAPE) are working to lower the cloud point of biodiesel by using solid acid catalysts in the production process. (More...)

Bunge Iberica, the Spanish operating arm of Bunge Limited, has formed a joint venture with renewable energy company Acciona and other local partners to build two biodiesel plants in Spain. (More...)

Grace Davison, an operating segment of WR Grace and a global supplier of catalysts and chemicals, has established a BioFuel Technologies Group that will oversee intensified product development in the renewable fuels industry. (More...)

Shell will work with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) on evaluating Malaysia’s Envo diesel—a 5% blend of palm oil with 95% petroleum diesel. Envo diesel is not a biodiesel blend; it uses straight palm oil, not a methyl ester. (More...)

SYNTHETICS

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and executives from Arch Minerals, BMC and DKRW Advanced Fuels announced an initial agreement to construct a coal-to-liquids plant in Montana. (More...)

A research consortium of six Japanese firms and the government are moving forward to commercialize a lower-cost Gas-to-Liquids process that does not require first removing carbon dioxide from a natural gas feedstock. (More...)

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