Three states in the US – California, New York and Washington – will require insurers to disclose how climate change may affect their businesses, effectively forcing most of the industry to address the issue. Reuters reported the three states will require any insurer that does business in their states to make climate change disclosures on a form developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It will target all companies writing total premiums of more than $500 million. Until now, such disclosures have been voluntary.
Reuters reported that 2011 was the worst in the insurance industry’s history for natural disaster losses, with insurers and reinsurers worldwide losing more than $100 billion on catastrophes, including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding. Insurers such as Allstate and Munich Re have said there are fundamental climate changes taking place that will require the industry to be better prepared for future disasters. Ceres, a coalition of public interest groups, Ceres, said last September that just one in eight insurers had a formal policy to manage climate risk, even though most acknowledged the potential problems climate change posed.
Chevron boosts solar investments
US oil giant Chevron says it will boost its investments in solar PV plants. Ram Ambatipudi, director of large scale renewables at Chevron Energy Solutions, said the company will be a new entrant into the so called “tax equity” market in 2012 and will target smaller deals in the 3-20MW range. Last year, Chevron unveiled a new 29MW solar thermal power plant constructed by BrightSource Energy, which it will use to extract more oil from its southern Californian oil field. Chevron says the solar steam has the potential to augment gas-powered steam generation and could be useful in other oil fields where natural gas is either expensive or not easily available. The decision comes a month after another oil major, BP, announced its total withdrawal from the solar energy business.
Solar array for Hervey Bay hospital
ABB said it has officially signed a contract with Queensland Health to design, supply and install a 266 kilowatt roof-mounted solar panel system at the Hervey Bay Hospital, on the Fraser Coast in Queensland. $1.3 million system will generate around 385 megawatt-hours of renewable energy each year, saving an estimated $20,000 on electricity costs and reduce carbon emissions by approximately 400 tonnes annually. The solar system will be interfaced into the hospital’s existing building management system for control and monitoring purposes, and include an interactive web-kiosk and large screen television in the foyer to display performance data as an education tool for visitors.