The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

10Q: How AES Captures and Stores the Wind

Wind Energy Storage

Wind farms have a problem: the wind. Turbines churn out power when conditions permit and idle when they don’t. This intermittency creates no end of headaches for grid operators trying to balance electricity supply and demand. They often require coal power as a backup, which undermines carbon-free wind.

AES Energy Storage President Chris Shelton says that battery storage can make wind power more--not less--reliable than the fossil fuel incumbents. The AES Corp. unit last September opened its first energy storage project, a 32-megawatt system that will be linked to a 98-megawatt West Virginia wind farm. Their sealed lithium-ion batteries, originally designed for buses, fill rows of 53-foot long shipping containers.

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. President Barack Obama’s 2013 budget proposes $40 billion in cuts to fossil fuel credits. Sounds like a lot. The reductions would take place over the next decade, so it's really about $4 billion a year, or about 1 percent of oil & gas revenues. The subsidies are so convoluted, it's difficult to tell exactly how much the fossil fuel industries currently receive. The Environmental Law Institute found U.S. taxpayers chipped in more than $10 billion a year from 2002 to 2008. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis in November showed world governments gave six times the subsidies to gasoline, coal and natural gas that they gave to wind, solar and biofuels. That came to $409 billion in fossil fuel subsidies to many of the world's most profitable companies. The generosity isn't likely to change in a divided U.S. Congress, in an election year.

And now the news:

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Sustainability Pioneer Sentenced to Prison Over Asbestos

Italian Asbestos Trial Conviction ‘Historic,’ Minister Says

A pioneer of the sustainable business movement, Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, was sentenced today to 16 years in prison in connection with asbestos-related deaths at his former company, Eternit AG.

A court in Turin, Italy, ruled today that Schmidheiny and lead Eternit shareholder Jean-Louis Marie Ghislain de Cartier were partially responsible for hundreds of deaths and illnesses caused by asbestos in Eternit factories. They were also sentenced to pay damages, which reportedly could reach past 250 million euros ($330 million), to be determined in a separate civil proceeding to victims’ relatives and to a number of local authorities.

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`Virtual Water' is No Game for Food Importers at Risk

Uploaded by 7865093 at GMT:2012-02-13T21:07:29

Desert and drought-prone nations increasingly rely on water from other countries and don’t even know it. That's the conclusion of a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that maps the world's water flow.

The problem revolves around a phenomenon that to the uninitiated might sound like a Facebook app or Web game: virtual water. It’s the phrase resource economists are using to describe the amount of water that goes into making a product bound for shipment abroad.

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Gulf of Mexico Sea Level Rise

Few things are as uniquely unsustainable as southern Louisiana. Astrology last month briefly joined the list of forces blamed for the Gulf of Mexico swallowing the equivalent of a football field of Louisiana land every hour -- about 1,900 square miles since the 1930s.

The Louisiana Applied Coastal & Environmental Sciences Division (LACES) issued a study at the end of January recommending that policymakers plan for an estimated one-meter rise in sea level this century. The report's summary for coastal managers curiously stated that "Sea-level rise is caused by a variety of dynamic interactions, and is influenced by atmospheric, geologic, oceanic, and astrological changes, whether natural or anthropogenic."

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. Sports apparel-maker Puma issued an "environmental profit and loss statement," last week, which it describes as "The first ever attempt to measure, value and report the environmental externalities caused by a major corporation and its entire supply chain." The bottom line: if Puma treated the environment like a business service provider, the company would owe the Earth 8 million euros ($10.6 million) for its core operations last year and another 137 million euros for the impact of its suppliers. Executive Chairman Jochen Zeitz described it as a "wake-up call" for Puma, and for all companies. The question is: will investors and other companies hear it?

And now the news:

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. Sea-level rise is threatening the Maldives, the Indian Ocean nation made up of 1,200 islands, 80 percent of which are less than a meter above sea level. The country will will be largely uninhabitable by the end of this century, according to a 2010 review article in Science by Robert J. Nicholls and Anny Cazenave. Former President Mohamed Nasheed put the Maldives on the map by calling attention to predictions that his nation was disappearing from it. A coup forced Nasheed from power this week, and the U.S. has recognized the new government. The new regime's position on global climate policy is not yet established. Nor is it known if they'll share Nasheed's penchant for publicity -- and try to top the 2009 cabinet meeting he held under water, in scuba gear.

And now the week's best of Bloomberg Sustainability News:

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Velvet Underground to Warhol Estate: Hands off the Banana

Pop artist Andy Warhol rendered this portrait of a banana in 1967 for The Velvet Underground’s debut record album. Almost half a century later, the rock & roll band is suing the artist’s estate for trademark infringement. The band knows something farmers are increasingly concerned about: bananas need protection.

That’s not just any banana. That’s a Cavendish, the kind familiar to Western grocery shoppers (although the Warhol Museum couldn’t confirm its variety). When The Velvet Underground issued its self-titled banana album, the Cavendish was as new to the American palate as rock & roll. A different banana, the Gros Michel, dominated fruit bowls in the first half of the 20th century. The larger, less-curved and less-sweet Gros Michel survives in tropical regions, but in the U.S. it's as distant as the 20s-era song it inspired: "Yes, We Have No Bananas.”

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. The New York Giants won Super Bowl XLVI this week powered in part by renewable energy. Green Mountain Energy supplied renewable energy credits to offset power use of everything from stadium lights to sportswriters' computers. Next year's Super Bowl venue, New Orleans (video), is becoming increasingly difficult and costly to "green." Southern Louisiana is sinking at the same time ocean waters are rising, making coastal erosion a crisis at the Mississippi River Delta. A report issued this week by Louisiana's coastal science advisory advises policymakers to assume the Gulf of Mexico sea level will rise 1 meter by 2100. The state currently loses the equivalent of a football field of land every hour.

And now the news:

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Save the Hummer, Fix the Environment

Arnold Schwarzenegger looks at a Hummer

Arnold Schwarzenegger told a conference in New Delhi last week that huge American cars aren’t responsible for global warming. Their engines are. "It's not the big car that's the problem. It's the technology inside the car," he said.

Swapping out engines is an easier way to fight climate change than trying to modify people's lifestyles. The Hollywood icon and former California governor converted his two Hummer trucks to run on hydrogen and biofuels.

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor

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