|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Wal-Mart's Solar Energy Vision:
Joel Mackower reports on Wal-Mart's "recently issued RFP, or request for proposal, to install solar energy systems on its stores in five states -- the largest procurement of solar ever proposed. Bids are due on January 5 .. Wal-Mart intends to notify the winner of the contract on February 28. ..
The confidential RFP document is part of the company's stated commitment "to reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the next eight years" and to "design a store that will use 30% less energy and produce 30% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than our 2005 design within the next 3 years," according to the RFP. ..
Wal-Mart says it will begin installing solar on its stores in five U.S. states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, and New Jersey. The company anticipates that "that only a portion of the stores in each state will be physically and economically suitable for solar installations," according to the RFP. It calls for bids for projects to be carried out during 2007, but is asking bidders for "expansion or build-out plans, including projected prices and costs, over the next five years." ..
What's the impact of all this? Wal-Mart doesn't mention a specific purchase size, but my sources tell me that the company could put solar on as many as 340 stores in the next few years. Assuming that each store utilized about 300 kilowatts of solar panels (it could be as much as 500 kilowatts), we're talking roughly 100 megawatts of solar. To put that into perspective, the solar system currently being installed at Google headquarters in California -- the largest single corporate solar installation in history -- is 1.6 MW, about 1/60th the size. Of course, it's unclear whether Wal-Mart will install solar in all of those locations. The company could look at the bidders' numbers and decide to install solar at only a handful of stores -- or none at all.
Assuming it moves forward with even a portion of its plans, Wal-Mart's move is significant, and historic. While a growing number of companies are staking their claim at being "carbon neutral" by purchasing power from developers of far-off wind farms or other large-scale installations, or have installed (often with much fanfare) solar panels on a single showcase facility, no one has yet made a long-term commitment to "alternative sources of energy at competitive prices and in a form that is replicable among multiple sites and multiple building formats," as Wal-Mart puts it." 11:41:31 PM
FT.com - Richest 2% hold half the world's assets:
"Personal wealth is distributed so unevenly across the world that the richest two per cent of adults own more than 50 per cent of the world’s assets while the poorest half hold only 1 per cent of wealth .. according to the data from the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-Wider). ..
Adults with more than $2,200 of assets were in the top half of the global wealth league table, while those with more than $61,000 were in the top 10 per cent, [and] to belong to the top 1 per cent of the world’s wealthiest adults you would need more than $500,000, something that 37m adults have achieved. So much of the world’s wealth is concentrated in few hands that if all the world’s wealth was distributed evenly, each person would have $20,500 of assets to use.
Almost 90 per cent of the world’s wealth is held in North America, Europe and high-income Asian and Pacific countries, such as Japan and Australia. While North America has 6 per cent of the world’s adult population, it accounts for 34 per cent of household wealth. The concentration of wealth in different countries varies considerably, with the top 10 per cent in the US holding 70 per cent of the country’s wealth, compared with 61 per cent in France, 56 per cent in the UK, 44 per cent in Germany and 39 per cent in Japan." 11:30:13 PM
Global Voices Online:
Interesting compilation of current blog material from citizens of many counties, including Lebanon, Libya, China, Iran, with coverage of local news. Would provide interesting inputs to the "open source intelligence
" movement. 11:24:52 PM
Inflated influence of India's IT-factor:
"In 2003, for example, India claimed to have exported US$8.7 billion
worth of software, most of which went to the United States. But US
companies recorded just US$420 million worth of software imports from
India — a remarkable 20-fold difference. The GAO believes that this huge inconsistency arises, in part, from
India misreporting financial data. For instance, India counts the
earnings of all temporary workers in the United States as part of their
exports figures. But this is against universally-accepted financial
disclosure conventions suggested by the International Monetary Fund.
The result is a gross over-representation of Indian software exports.Several factors also point to a relatively small impact on economic
development from India's IT industry. In 2005, for instance, the IT
exports industry was a marginal job-creator, employing 770,000 people —
just 0.21 per cent of the total labour force." 11:16:04 PM