Tag Archive | "Brazil"

Clean energy investment falls

Global investment in clean energy was US$45.9billion in the third quarter of 2013, down 14% on the second quarter of this year and 20% below the number for Q3 2012, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

This suggests that investment in technologies such as smart grid, efficiency, storage and electric vehicles will end this year below 2012′s US$281 billion. This total was in turn11% down from the record established in 2011.

The third quarter data showed weakness almost across the board, with investment in China, the US and Europe all down on the equivalent period of 2012. The only region to show a rise in activity on both the quarter and the year was the Americas outside the US and Brazil, due to firm figures from Canada, Chile and Uruguay.

However, the installation of solar photovoltaic power capacity worldwide is set to hit a new record in 2013 at 36.7GW.

“After the slightly more promising second quarter, we now have a very disappointing third quarter figure for investment,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “US$45.9 billion is still a substantial amount of money, greater than that invested in the whole of 2004, but the loss of momentum since 2011 is worrying.

“The latest setback reflects policy uncertainty in Europe, the lure of cheap gas in the US, a levelling-off in wind and solar investment in China, and a general weakening of political will in major economies. Governments accept that the world has a major problem with climate change but, for the moment, appear too engrossed in short-term domestic issues to take the decisive action needed.”

Among the major countries, the US saw its total fall to US$5.5 billion in Q3 from US$9.4 billion in Q2, China was down at US$13 billion from US$13.8 billion, India was at US$1.2 billion from US$1.5 billion, and Japan US$7.3 billion from US$7.4 billion. Brazil showed a modest rise, from US$950 million to US$1.1 billion.

In Europe, German investment was US$1.6 billion, down from US$1.7 billion in Q2 and far below the quarterly figures seen in recent years. France saw a fall from US$1.2 billion in Q2 to US$727 million in Q3, Italy a rebound to US$1.3 billion from US$1.2 billion, and the UK a somewhat rally from US$1.6 billion to US$2.6 billion.

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Agricultural engineer says tobacco could be used to produce biofuels

Good news this week for tobacco growers, especially in emerging nations, worried that the health risks from smoking might one day affect their business following the revelation that their plants could help power the next generation of motor cars.

Research from the Public University of Navarre in Spain has reportedly shown that genetically modified tobacco plants are viable as raw material for producing biofuels.

Ruth Sanz-Barrio, an agricultural engineer at the university and a researcher at the Institute of Biotechnology, revealed this month that specific tobacco proteins – known as thioredoxins – as biotechnological tools in plants, which can be used to produce biofuels.

Specifically, she has managed to increase the amount of starch produced in the tobacco leaves by 700% and fermentable sugars by 500%.

“We believe these genetically modified plants could be a good alternative for producing biofuels,”Sanz-Barrio told European journalists .

“With these sugars, according to the theoretical calculation provided by the National Centre for Renewable Energies, one could obtain up to 40 litres of bioethanol per tonnes of fresh leaves.”

China is the world’s largest tobacco grower producing four times more than the second biggest India with Brazil and the USA in third and fourth place.

Thirteen countries in Europe grow tobacco including Spain, home to the university, the largest producer Italy and neighboring France, which has produced its unique dark tobacco cigarettes for more than a century. Tobacco production in the EU has fallen dramatically in the past two decades as farming subsidies were withdrawn and fewer people took up smoking and now accounts for just 4% of world production.


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Heavy metal… lighter touch

Volvo Construction Equipment held its very first Innovation Forum at Eskilstuna – 100km west of Stockholm in Sweden – home of the heavy machinery division. Volvo CE invited journalists from around the world to share its vision for a sustainable future. BGreen’s Lorraine Bangera joined the ride

The two-day event began with a tour of the town’s Munktell Museum – a look into the company’s rich historic past. Volvo today has a direct link back to 1832 when Johan Theofron Munktell began building industrial machinery and by the middle of the century, steam engines and locomotives. Volvo CE is the oldest industrial company in the world still active in the field of construction equipment. The second day of the forum looked at the role innovation plays in the environment and in creating future technology. The day-long forum included work stations detailing six areas of Volvo CE innovation, as well as a factory tour and a manufacturing innovation session. The six work stations looked at the role innovation plays in drivelines, emerging market engineering, design, the company’s core values of quality, safety and environmental care, Tier 4 Final/ Stage IV compliant engines and the technology of the future. During the opening speech Anders P. Larsson, executive vice president of technology at Volvo CE, said: “An important aspect about innovation is quality.” He explained how innovation does not necessarily mean making more complex products, but simply making machine maintenance easier. Gunnar Stein, director of driveline systems at Volvo CE emphasised the role of sustainability, “Drivers for innovation must include environmental care and efficiency.” Volvo CE concentrates on using innovative solutions to help build the company from within as well. Employees are given the opportunity to be a part of the action, for example every month one day is solely dedicated to work and talk about improvements that must be made in the company. The factory is shut on that day to help all employees contribute. Ivan Obrovac, general manager of Eskilstuna operations said: “Last year 7% of the mistakes commonly made during production was reduced, while 5,600 improvements were made. KPI was the key.”

Climate Savers
“Environmental care is much more than just a corporate goal, it’s something we take very seriously and are working hard to do,” says Arvid Rinaldo, global communications strategy manager. Joining forces with the Volvo Group, the company joined the Climate Savers Programme operated by established environmental organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2010. The Climate Savers programme is WWF’s global platform to engage business and industry on climate and energy. Member companies take on two commitments: First, become the best in class in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and second to influence market or policy developments by promoting their vision, solutions and achievements. Volvo Group was the first heavy truck manufacturer to sign the agreement. The company undertook to reduce carbon emissions by 13 million tonnes from vehicles manufactured and sold between 2009 and 2014. Volvo CE aims to reduce carbon emissions from its products and factories, while developing new technologies to improve fuel efficiency and develop alternative fuel solutions. As part of the Climate Savers programme, Volvo CE to develop new prototypes with improved fuel performance. Volvo CE will explore advanced powertrain technologies internally and present a prototype with significantly improved fuel efficiency by the year 2014.

Innovation in design
Innovation isn’t just about the technical elements of a machine, says Volvo CE. Design, helps people experience things with their senses. In a recent survey, one machine operator said that working with a Volvo CE machine makes his job seem less brutal – demonstrating that design can have a profound impact on how operators feel about their working lives. Design isn’t just about form but also about function: if a machine looks good but isn’t useful, that isn’t design – it’s just style. Design director Stina Nilimaa Wickstöm said: “Design merges the technology and human relation. The combination of ergonomics, aesthetics, and emotions, is essential to create demand for a product.”

Tier 4 Final/Stage IV engines
In one of the largest development projects in the Volvo Group’s history, Volvo CE’s Tier 4f/Stage IV compliant engine line – developed with Volvo Trucks will be fitted to the company’s machines in 2014. Peter Engdahl, manager of engine performance, discussed product development for the new engines, including the rigorous testing and validation process that took the engines into the world’s harshest climates. Engdahl specified some of the new changes made include: a further optimised engine platform, a new developed exhaust, machine installations and new engine management systems. Asked if the new installations make the engine more complex, Engdahl said: “We actually take out the complex process and keep the new installation. This is tricky, it isn’t easy. It takes four years of research and development.”

Emerging markets
Deeply rooted in its Swedish heritage, Volvo CE has managed to spread wider on a global scale and plans to increasingly do so in the future. Tommy Streipel, director of wheel loader platforms, talked about the wheel loader product line and how it is tailored to different markets. For example, the new L105 wheel loader is geared specifically towards customers in China. Research indicates that some of the emerging markets in the next 20 years in terms of innovation and construction include Brazil, Africa, and India. On the other hand, today the US is the biggest market for construction, Japan is another big player in the sector. However, Streipel concludes, “market size of the emerging countries will definitely increase more than Europe and North America as urbanisation grows.”

Factory tour
There are 840 employees working at the Eskilstuna Volvo Factory. Machining, hardening, assembling and painting are carried out at the factory. Journalists were given a tour of Volvo’s Eskilstuna production campus to learn more about how operations contribute to innovation within the company. The tour was led by Jocke Höök who is the internal communication manager.

Volvo days
This year marked the 55th anniversary of Volvo CE’s popular Volvo Days event. More than 5,000 customers and visitors from Sweden and around the world were invited to visit the customer centre in Eskilstuna. The three week event started on August 27, and gave visitors a glimpse into the company’s history, products and services. The performance featuring construction equipment used from the 1960s to the latest form was showcased at its best with rock music pumping up the crowd. Journalists were given the opportunity to be the first to witness the Volvo Days this year. Volvo CE presented the opportunity to drive the trucks individually with the guidance of a qualified professional.

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Beauty industry not so ugly anymore

Brazilian beauty firms leading the way to sustainability, claims research organisation

The beauty industry has been cleaning up its image following investment in a range of sustainability initiatives, according to research carried out by Organic Monitor.

Despite its image as an industry uninterested in sustainable initiatives, it appears Brazilian companies have been leading the way for the market by communicate their green and ethical credentials.
In its Strategic Insights report, Organic Monitor assessed corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives within the beauty industry and concluded that the most investment was going into greener formulations and sustainable packaging.
The report gave a special mention to Brazilian firm Natura for championing environmental causes since its formation in 1969 and becoming the first major carbon-neutral cosmetics company; meanwhile Beraca, also from Brazil, was commended on its social and biodiversity investment projects in the Amazon Rainforest.

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Current Issue October 2013