Mixed Greens: Microsoft to go CO2 neutral, with help from Oz firm | RenewEconomy

Mixed Greens: Microsoft to go CO2 neutral, with help from Oz firm

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Microsoft shoots for carbon neutrality, using Sydney-based Carbon Systems’ platform; ARENA board members announced; CBD lands $25m; CFC win again in Germany.

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Microsoft has announced its intentions of achieving company-wide “carbon neutrality” for its energy use, beginning July 1. The US IT giant announced the ambitious, but “simple,” goal on Tuesday, after the expiry – and fulfillment – of the its 2009 goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 per cent per unit of revenue by 2012. In a company blog posted on Monday, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, Rob Bernard,” said the aim now was “to make the company’s business divisions financially responsible for the cost of their carbon emissions and drive even more focus on efficiency and environmental sustainability across Microsoft.” And he told GreenBiz.com that the move was also part of a broader global strategy “of how to think about the role of information technology for enabling energy efficiency both within IT but also more broadly. …It made us ask, is there something we could do, if we had the right IT systems in place, that would enable us to challenge ourselves and push governance to the next level once we had more information and data? And if we had the right kind of information, why couldn’t we go as fast as possible?”

As we know, Microsoft’s search for the all-important “right IT systems” led to the selection of Australia-based Carbon Systems from a formidable list of 30-plus potential partners – including well-known sustainability software leaders such as CA Technologies, Credit360, Ecova, Enablon, Hara, PE International and SAP. The Washington-based company will use Carbon Systems’ Environmental Sustainability Platform to track and manage the carbon emissions from its 600 facilities in 110 countries. As Giles wrote back in March, this is not the Sydney-based firm’s biggest contract in terms of size – they already serve one of Australia’s Big Four banks and some big European manufacturers – but it could be one of the most significant. “They are a very tech-savvy customer,” CarbonSystems CEO David Solsky told RenewEconomy. “The fact that they went to market, and chose us is a defining moment. Hopefully it can give some fantastic fuel for more contracts outside of Australia.” Not bad for a company  that only entered the sustainability software market three years ago.

Solsky also told RenewEconomy he believes CarbonSystems won the Microsoft contract because of its ability to use cloud computing to simplify and streamline Microsoft’s global greenhouse gas management. And Bernard confirmed as much in his interview with GreenBiz.com this week: “The IT backbone and its near-real-time data will help Microsoft’s far-flung operations identify opportunities for efficiency measures,” he said.. “You may not be aware that employee travel is going up, or that compared to other similar offices around the world you are going out of the statistical norm. Or that the compressor [in a building’s HVAC system] is out of compliance. You may not be looking at the dashboard all the time but the system will and will alert you. So the governance model will start to change how you operate and how you think about efficiencies.”

CBD lands $25m financing

CBD Energy says it has landed a revolving $US25 million line of construction financing that will enable it to ramp up work on its pipeline of solar PV projects in Europe. The company said it would use the facility to commence construction on 3MW of rooftop projects in Italy this quarter, and a pipeline of up to 5MW a month in other European projects. It said these projects would generate revenue of more tan $35 million a quarter.

The facility was arranged through Chardan Capital Markets. CBD Energy said it would have greater scope to utilise a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model which would deliver higher margins than traditional contracting on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis. “This is an important milestone for CBD,” managing director Gerry McGowan said in a statement. “International expansion to position CBD as a global solar developer is a key component of our long term growth strategy and builds on the experience gained in the delivery of our 8MW Thai project delivered late last year.”

ARENA board appointments announced

Greg Bourne has been installed as acting chair of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency board, with federal resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson announcing the appointment on Wednesday morning, ahead of ARENA’s commencement on July 2012 as a key component of the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future package. Ferguson has also appointed Dr Brian Spalding to the Agency’s board, in addition to the ex-officio appointment of Mr Drew Clarke, Secretary of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. “Mr Bourne brings to the board an extensive background in renewable energy development and project commercialisation, including as a former director of Carnegie Wave Energy and chief executive officer of the World Wildlife Fund Australia from 2004 to 2010,” Ferguson said of the appointment. “Mr Bourne and Dr Spalding’s experience and drive will ensure ARENA gets off to a good start and maintains momentum in Australia’s renewable energy sector,” he said, adding that the board would play a pivotal role in unlocking the innovative Australian renewables technology.  Dr Spalding is a current Australian Energy Market Commissioner with more than 30 years’ experience in power system operations, as well as providing continuity from the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy board.

Ceramic still winning in Germany

Ceramic Fuel Cells’ run of good fortune in the German market continues this month, with the Premier of the State of Saarland announcing that the State will subsidise the cost of early BlueGen units. Under the “Climate Plus Saar” program, the state government will pay 30 per cent of the total cost of BlueGen units, including installation, for up to 10 BlueGen units installed in Saarland. Premier Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer made the announcement when putting the state’s first BlueGen unit into operation in the State capital of Saarbrücken. The newly announced subsidy adds to that of €1,800 per unit from the German federal government, and the existing feed-in tariff regime, under which BlueGen customers get paid for excess electricity generated by BlueGen and exported to the local electricity grid.

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