Daily Archives: November 26, 2006

Does the (Green) Future Belong to Kermit?

It’s been a couple of months since my last green post, and the call of Kermit has been taken up by some rather large corporations in the interim. As highlighted in Supply Excellence and Fortune, Adobe Systems has become the first company to receive a platinum award from the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council, Wal-Mart has launched a green packaging rating system, as covered in Buyer Analytics and Purchasing, Yahoo has a new Yahoo Autos Green Center and has converted its employee commuter shuttles that go between San Francisco and its Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters to run on biodiesel, and Richard Branson will be investing profits from Virgin airlines into alternative energy.

Some states are turning up the heat on global warming, and attempting to show the world that maybe, someday, the US can be green too. The most notable is California, where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed into law a sweeping global warming initiative that imposes the nation’s first cap on greenhouse gas emissions, as reported by Wired and CNet. (As a side note, California also sponsors the Clean Tech Open.) Moreover, California, like New Jersey, now allows net metering, and with federal government incentives, going solar can pay for itself in a few years and ultimately result in free electricity for you.

Cities are getting in on the action too. Boston CleanAir Cabs is replacing old taxis with new hybrid-electric or alternative energy vehicles, as covered in News.blog. Now that the eco-friendly Fiat can use gasoline, methane or the E85 mixture of gas and bioethanol, they have another option. (John Gartner of Autopia makes a great case for plug-in hybrids.) In addition, Boulder, Colorado has approved a carbon tax.

And some VCs are starting to take notice big time. The Investment Network on Climate Risk (INCR) has achieved its goal of $1 billion in clean technology over the past 18 months. Clinton announced a $1B Fund for Renewable Energy Investments.

Technology is improving every day. With the advent of electrically conductive plastics, dye-sensitized solar cells, and carbon nanotubes (which are also being used in light bulbs), solar cells are now cheap and efficient, as per this article on Economist.com.

Moreover, a Brazilian company called ABC Esso will soon sell an adapter in the U.S. that lets any gasoline vehicle burn up to 100 percent ethanol! So far, the company has developed adapters for Ford, GM, Honda, Mazda, Volvo and Toyota vehicles. This means that there is no reason why all of tomorrow’s vehicles cannot be hybrids. And when you consider we could be producing enough alternative fuels to replace all of our gasoline and oil needs in as little as twenty years with the right investments, let’s hope the product takes off!

MIT has designed a system to place wind turbines far offshore and out of sight. And we now have a solar powered car, but they still have a ways to go before they can be used as more than glorified golf carts, but it’s a good start! (At least they are a step ahead of the extreme green cars of the future that are still in the design stages, although the idea of a fully recyclable car is an intriguing one. Check out the gallery.)

But it doesn’t take an MIT education to go green or realize the importance of doing so. Even farmers in Iowa know how important going green is. This is good … since cow farms are a great source of natural gas thanks to alternative energy start-up Microgy.