Urjanet – $4m investment for providing energy data

Urjanet of Atlanta, a company which provides energy data to help large scale energy consumers make decisions, has announced that it has secured $4m in “Series B” venture financing.

The money came from existing investors GRA Venture Fund, LLC and Imlay Investments Inc, and a new investor Grotech Ventures.

The company provides energy data by subscription, including about the clients’ electricity and natural gas billing, demand, consumption, history, tariffs and rate plans, weather data, interval metering and carbon intensity, taking the data from different places around the company.

Customers include large corporations and government agencies.

The Urjanet data is designed to integrate with the customer’s existing software, accounting systems, energy and carbon management infrastructure.

Its platform was developed together with Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Since our launch in 2010, the concept and complexity of measuring, managing and understanding data related to energy and resource use has become important for businesses as a way to manage cost and carbon emissions,” says Sanjoy Malik, CEO of Urjanet.

“Many companies, especially those with multiple locations across the country, are largely blind to their total energy use and costs because of the multitude of sources that provide that information in a huge variety of formats.”

“Urjanet [provides] a single intelligent source of reliable data for enterprise energy and resource management.”

“Urjanet is building a business at the confluence of energy and data. They are solving the pain enterprise customers face in acquiring accurate and timely energy data on which to make informed decisions,” said Steve Fredrick, general partner at Grotech Ventures.

Press release

Tasmania: study about carbon stored in forests

The island of Tasmania (240km offshore Australia) has conducted a study of the amount of carbon stored in the forest estates owned by the government.

The study was commissioned by the Tasmanian government, through the Tasmanian Climate Change Office, and conducted by CO2 Group Limited, an Australian company.

It covered over 3m hectares and 95 differnet forest types.

It looked at how land use practises and changing forest management affects carbon stocks, and the level of carbon abatement which arises from the changes.

It also assessed the commercial value of the carbon storage levels. An analysis was provided of opportunities to monetise carbon sequestration and avoided emissions under various domestic and international carbon trading programs.

The study found that current carbon stocks in Tasmania’s forests contain around three to four billion tonnes of carbon, and under a variety of forest management and land use scenarios it may be possible to achieve greenhouse gas abatement worth tens of millions of dollars in the future.

The study concluded that the development and growth in the carbon markets provides interesting prospects for commercial carbon forest projects in Tasmania.

“The comprehensive study provides a complete carbon accounting system that can be used for complex and large scale carbon accounting for forest systems now and in the future,” says Andrew Grant, CEO of CO2 Group.

“This is the first carbon study of its kind undertaken in Australia.”

Accountants need to work with others in carbon – Australian academics

Two Australian academics, Joanne Tingey-Holyoak (research associate) and Roger Burritt (professor of accounting), both of the University of South Australia Centre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability (CAGS), have written an article on Australian discussion site “The Conversation” on involving accountants in carbon measurement.

They say that accountants need to collaborate with people from other disciplines, if they are going to be able to give clients what they are asking for, in the field of sustainability.
Accounting for carbon “requires thinking beyond discipline boundaries to incorporate elements of engineering, economics, law, and social and natural science,” they write.

Accountants also need “to create a new way of engaging with the broad issues facing business and society.”

“Accountants need to understand and engage with physical measures of carbon and carbon equivalent outputs from different processes that affect their clients – inputs to industrial processes such as furnaces, energy sources for driving production and service delivery, product based carbon footprints and carbon released when products reach the end of their lives.”

“Engineers have considerable expertise in this field.

“Accountants need to engage with and understand engineering metrics.”

“Similarly, economists have expertise in market pricing and in the provision of prices where markets do not exist.”

The writers interviewed 121 professional accounting firm managers in South Australia and they said they “perceive sustainability education as important when recruiting graduates for their intake,” they wrote.

“The [accounting] profession has to acknowledge the need for a wider skill set that incorporates understanding of the metrics of other disciplines,” they said.

“For example, water accounting – which manages both water shortages and pricing – requires engineering, science and other disciplines like meteorology, to develop sustainability measures.”

Oak Ridge Laboratory – understanding soil and climate change

Oak Ridge National Laboratory of Tennessee has developed a model to get a better measurement of how soil releases carbon dioxide, by tracking microbial processes in the ground.

The carbon cycle with soil starts with a decaying plant in the soil, or carbon rich materials from an animal.

The organic material is degraded by enzymatic reactions (decomposing). This releases carbon molecules which are absorbed by microbes for growth or metabolism, and eventually releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The carbon can end up being stored in the soil or released, depending on how fast the decomposition takes place.

Scientists think that if the temperature goes up, the ability of microbes to decompose carbon chains will change, and models need to reflect this.

It has also published a paper in Ecological Applications, the journal of the Ecological Society of America.

“Soil is a big reservoir of carbon,” says Melanie Mayes, co-author of the paper, who works at ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division.

“Most of the soil carbon cycling models in use today are so vastly simplified that they ignore the fact that decomposition is actually performed by microbes.”

The laboratory developed a model it calls “Microbial-Enzyme-mediated Decomposition” or MEND.

It measures how different types of carbon in soil react with extracellular enzymes excreted into the soil by microbes.

For the next six to eight months, ORNL’s team will run laboratory-scale experiments to ensure that the MEND model accurately represents the decomposition of carbon compounds in soils.

Eventually, team members hope to incorporate their model into the publicly available supercomputing program called the Community Land Model, a module used in the Community Earth System Model that helps researchers predict future climate change.

China researching national carbon trading market – Carbon Daily

China is doing research into a national carbon trading market, according to a “top climate change official” quoted speaking to Chinese state controlled newspaper China Daily.

Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is quoted as saying that the United States, Australia, Japan and the European Union are discussing the possibility of building a sub-regional or regional carbon market with China.

The NDRC selected seven pilot regions in November for the trial implementation of carbon trading. The pilot regions will design regional regulations, specify the scope of trading and build a trading platform.

“Our priority is getting our work done first, accumulating experience and then taking part in making the rules,” he is quoted as saying.

The trial will continue until 2015, followed by a nationwide carbon market between 2015 and 2020.

China is working on designing the guidelines for reporting formats and accounting standards of carbon emissions, and building an online energy consumption monitoring system for major industries, China Daily reported.

There might also be futures trading.

Sun Cuihua, vice-director of the NDRC’s Department of Climate Change, is quoted as saying that the country is designing accounting methods for carbon emissions for six major industries to lay the foundations for a national carbon-trading program. It will cover power, steel, cement, plate glass, nonferrous metal and aviation sectors.

Regional carbon trading schemes in Beijing and Shanghai have already become operational, with Guangdong province launching its pilot carbon-trading scheme in early October.


London carbon credit scam – £7,900 victim – Daily Mirror

UK newspaper the Daily Mirror has reported that an investor has lost £7,900 after being persuaded to invest the money in carbon credits, by the firm which subsequently went bust.

The investments were billed by the “London Carbon Credit Company” as something which could enable people to “Profit in an ethically sound fashion.”

One investor invested £5,000 and £2,900 in separate tranches of carbon credits.

“I have tried in vain to get my money back since the end of April and now it looks like they [the company] may have disappeared,” the investor is quoted as saying.

The company used logos from carbon credit certification schemes, including the Gold Standard Foundation, Verified Carbon Standard and Ethical Junction, although these companies were contacted by the Daily Mirror journalist and said that the London Carbon Credit Company was not authorised to use their logos.

An independent financial advisor was contacted by the Daily Mirror and said “I cannot find any information as to the current tradeable value of your reader’s carbon credits and am concerned that they may be impossible to trade and have little or no value.”

The FSA warned this month that it is receiving “many reports from people who have been approached by firms promoting carbon credits in the UK.”

Highest and lowest carbon emissions in the UK by region

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has published CO2 emissions data for the entire country, divided into local authorities and regions.

For each of 406 local authority regions, you can see the emissions from “industry and commercial”, “domestic”, road transport” and “total”, for each year 2005 to 2010, and also the emissions per capita (per person). Units are in tons CO2 per person.

The 10 lowest carbon emission parts of the UK are:

Redbridge 4.1
Hackney 4.2
Lewisham 4.2
Harrow 4.3
Waltham Forest 4.4
Haringey 4.5
Gosport 4.5
Merton 4.5
Sutton 4.6
Castle Point 4.6

The 10 highest carbon emission parts of the UK are:

Cookstown 20.4
Falkirk 21.3
Rugby 24.0
Eden 25.4
High Peak 33.2
Rutland 35.6
Redcar and Cleveland 55.2
Neath Port Talbot 56.2
North Lincolnshire 62.9
City of London 157.6

The City of London is a bit of an anomaly because not many people live there!

Between 2008 and 2009 emissions decreased in nearly all regions, and since 2009, emissions have increased in nearly all regions – presumably due to economic conditions.

Data was gathered from electricity and gas bills, traffic data, and emissions data from large industrial sites.

Emissions from electricity generation was allocated according to where the electricity was consumed, not where it was generated (and CO2 emitted).

Aviation, shipping and military transport are not included, because there is no obvious region they should be allocated to.



Tanzanian costs of carbon measurement “very high” – article

An article in the Tanzania ‘daily news’ quotes an agricultural academic, Dr Eliakimu Zahabu of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), saying that the “costs of outsourcing carbon measurement and monitoring” for a carbon trading projects will be “very high”.

SUA has been helping people in Ethiopia to make money from carbon trading by not using their forests.

In order to earn carbon credits, a project has to determine the extent of ‘forest utilisation levels’ before the start of the project, and make sure that the forest utilisation is not transferred elsewhere (ie people actually stop chopping down trees, rather than just chopping down other trees instead).

Dr Zahabu said that carbon trading deals were “initially complicated for ordinary people to comprehend”.

Tanzania and Norway have made carbon trading deals with over $8m, under the “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” strategy.

Australia University study: countries carbon policy and energy prices

A study by Australian National University has found some trends into why certain countries are keener than others on an international carbon price.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, countries which are more carbon emissions intensive, and typically with low energy prices, do not like the idea of a common international carbon price, although these countries often have the cheapest marginal cost of reducing carbon emissions.

But if these countries had to cut emissions to the point where the marginal cost of cutting further was the same as the carbon price, they would pay more, because of the bigger gap between its low initial marginal cost and any common international price.

“A common global carbon price results in the EU having lower total costs as a percentage of GDP than the other more emissions-intensive regions,” researchers found.

However if countries set a common target for emissions intensity (or emissions per unit of GDP), China and India would have the lowest total costs because their emissions intensity is currently very low.

“This helps to explain why different countries favour different climate policies, as, for example, shown by the different types of emission pledges made by key countries after the 2009 UN climate conference in Copenhagen,” researchers said.

Research was by Dr Jack Pezzey from the Fenner School of Environment and Society in the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, and Professor David Stern and Mr Ross Lambie, both from the Crawford School of Public Policy in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Press release

The New Zealand beef industry has made a study of its carbon footprint.

“We see this study as making a valuable contribution to the global livestock production story and we will be contributing the results of this study to the FAO [food and agriculture organisation] work programme on environmental performance of livestock food chains,” says Ben O’Brien, General Manager Market Access, with Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Mr O’Brien said the New Zealand sheep and beef industry had made enormous progress in reducing its emissions during the last 20 years, mainly by producing more meat from less pasture.

“Compared to 1990, New Zealand sheep and beef farms now produce slightly more meat by weight, but from fewer animals,” he said.

Researchers estimate that this productivity improvement has reduced the carbon footprint of New Zealand beef and lamb by about 17% over that period, he said.

The study was funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Meat Industry Association, Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Landcorp, and the Ministry for Primary Industries greenhouse gas footprinting strategy. Much of the data for analysis was supplied by Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The study has created a benchmark for understanding where greenhouse gas emissions are occurring across the supply chain, including production, processing, transportation and consumption, he said.

“Differences in the footprint are largely related to the value of the types of cuts that are exported to different markets and the method of allocating emissions on an economic basis.

“The majority (over 90%) of emissions occur on the farm.”

O’Brien says the footprint varies depending on the type of farm ( 7.2 to 14.3 kg CO2e per kg live-weight), the sex and age of animals (7.3kg young bull to 16.0kg breeding cows), and whether or not calves from the dairy industry are used.

Overall the weighted New Zealand average GHG emissions from beef animals from sheep & beef farms2 was 10.5 kg CO2e per kg live-weight.

The emissions arising from transport to market are extremely low. Oceanic shipping is very efficient and this study shows it contributes just 1.1 – 2.7% of the total carbon footprint.

Dr Stewart Ledgard, the lead author of the report, said that until there was a globally-agreed methodology for ‘footprinting’, it was hard to assess how New Zealand’s footprint compares to others.

“We’re not aware of overseas studies with a comparable scope or level of detail in the methodology,” he said.