Invest in Cleantech

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Big Names, Even Bigger Promises

Have giant corporations developed a conscience? Has social responsibility and environmental awareness replaced the priorities of profits and growth for major industry players? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. There is good news however, as it appears that big business may finally be on the right track.

Two examples of this potential shift in corporate thinking are Ford and General Electric. In a recent article by Clint Wilder, Contributing Editor of Clean Edge Inc., a San Francisco based research and consulting firm, Is Ford Finally Coming Clean on Hybrids?, he recaps Ford’s message at the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) conference in Los Angeles. At the conference, Ford’s proclamation on being environmentally responsible was backed by figures for ramped up production of their hybrid and low emission vehicles. According to Mr. Wilder, “Ford plans to significantly ramp up Escape hybrid production from this year’s 20,000 units, with four more hybrid models coming in the next three years -- the Mercury Mariner, Mazda Tribute, Ford Fusion, and Mercury Milan. And it has a 100,000-unit production target for the partial-zero emissions (PZEV) Ford Focus.”

General Electric is also doing their part for the environment. In an article Seeing the light - Corporations drawn to socially responsible dollars by Thomas Kostigen, MarketWatch, G.E. plans to increase its investment in environmentally friendly technologies to $1.5 billion by 2010, which is double their current level. Is this all for the good of mankind? Not exactly, it of course has to make sense financially otherwise the practicality of a shift in corporate thinking is unlikely. Fortunately it appears that there is money in supporting the environment, as Kostigen reports, G.E. hopes to earn approximately $20 billion in sales by 2010 in environmentally cleaner products.

It would appear that going green has become trendy and with trends comes big smiles on the faces of corporate leaders, let’s just hope it doesn’t go out of style.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Reacting To The Push For Nuclear

As President Bush pushes for the development of nuclear reactors in the United States to help establish energy independence, many industry professionals remain uncertain. Costs of construction, an unattractive financial history, lack of a solution for nuclear waste, and the risk of nuclear accidents has many in doubt about the viability of the resurgence of the nuclear energy market. It does appear clear that if this industry is to get moving once again then it would need government assistance, which according to some should be in the form of risk insurance, financial aid and loan guarantees to help companies get through the lengthy and complicated building process.

The President's proposal has environmental groups on both sides of the nuclear argument up in arms. James Lovelock, one of the world's most prominent environmentalists, believes that the world is more threatened by risks brought about from global warming than the risks posed by nuclear power plants. While Lovelock would prefer to see renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar power take over, these cannot produce enough energy at this point in time to be realistic alternatives. Nuclear energy, according to Lovelock, is the best alternative to global warming problems caused by burning fuels such as coal and oil.

On the flip side, environmentalists such as Dave Kraft, a founding member of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, raises the point that current nuclear facilities are not able to effectively deal with exisiting threats associated with nuclear energy production. If threats still exist today, then it is difficult to have confidence that new entrants to this industry will be able to protect society from the risks associated with nuclear energy. Kraft cites plant safety violations, which range from accidental discharge of radioactive gas, to the Department of Energy's issuance of operating permits in spite of obvious structural deterioration, as current examples of the industry's inability to deal with nuclear production problems. To read more about both sides of this argument:
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Nuclear Industry's Perspective:
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