The Doughnut Trick: renewable fuel from May Day doughnut waste fat

Neste Corporation
News
24 April 2017

The Doughnut Trick: renewable fuel from May Day doughnut waste fat

In the spirit of circular economics, Neste and Fazer Bakery are joining forces with their Doughnut Trick campaign. The oil that was used to fry Fazer Bakery’s May Day doughnuts will be recycled by refining it to produce Neste MY renewable diesel. The value of the fuel will be donated to the Finnish chapter of the charity SOS Children’s Village International. The amount of diesel that’s made from the oil used to fry every three doughnuts is enough to drive a distance of about one kilometer.
 
Now, for May Day, Fazer Bakeries and Neste are doing good together. Fazer Bakeries will donate to Neste the fat used to fry their May Day doughnuts, and Neste will use the waste fat to produce Neste MY renewable diesel. The value of the fuel will be donated directly to the summer camp activities of the Finnish chapter of SOS Children’s Village International.
 
Fazer Bakery and Neste came up with the Doughnut Trick campaign as a way of reminding people in Finland about the potential of the circular economy and recycling. There are many new uses for waste and residues. At the same time, the companies also want to remind home doughnut makers of the correct means of final disposal of waste frying oil. The right destination for domestic waste fat is compost or mixed waste – under no circumstances should it be poured down the drain. A small amount of fat can be absorbed directly into biowaste, but larger amounts should be put into mixed waste. In the latter case, it’s a good idea to dispose of the cooking oil in the bottle it came in, for instance.
 
Environmental questions are generating more and more discussion and debate, and the circular economy has become a major global trend. Rotary economics is important to Neste and Fazer Bakery alike. The two companies aim at utilizing resources and exploring innovative ways to recycle and reuse materials ever more efficiently.

“We were immediately inspired by the cooperation idea, as Fazer Bakery’s primary goal is to prevent the generation of waste and to reduce its volume,” says Nina Elomaa, Director, Corporate Responsibility at Fazer Group. “In our opinion, this is a great way of introducing people concretely to the circular economy, and at the same time to support a good cause,” Elomaa continues.

“Through the Doughnut Trick, we want to illustrate how waste and residues can be reused to produce new products, in this case high-quality Neste MY renewable diesel,” adds Johan Lunabba, Director, Sustainability at Neste.
 
May Day is a natural time for cooperation between the two companies, since doughnuts are very popular in Finland at this time of year. As many as 16 million Fazer Omar and Berliinimunkki doughnuts are eaten annually. This is around three doughnuts a year for each person in Finland.
 
Normally Fazer’s frying fats are reused as a raw material by the asphalt and soap industries. For its part, Neste already recycles all the fat that is used in the meat industry and other industries in Finland to make renewable diesel. Motorists in Finland can buy Neste MY renewable diesel, which is made 100 percent from waste and residues, from several gas stations in the capital region. There is also one station in Turku selling it, and one in Tampere. Neste MY renewable diesel can help its users reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% over the lifecycle of the fuel compared to conventional fossil diesel.
 
Last Christmas, Neste jointly cooperated with the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland and other partners in its Christmas waste ham fat campaign. The campaign involved collecting ham roast fats for recycling into fuel, and was a big success. The proceeds from the fuel were donated to charity. The May Day Doughnut Trick continues these charitable efforts in the spirit of the circular economy, this time with doughnut oil fat.

For more information:

Johan Lunabba, Director, Sustainability, Neste, +358 10 458 0795, johan.lunabba(at)neste.com;
Nina Elomaa, Director, Corporate Responsibility, Fazer Group, +358 45 354 86 11, nina.elomaa(at)fazer.com

 
Neste and Fazer’s are carrying out the Doughnut Trick as a joint venture. It continues the Christmas ham campaign, which was the brainchild of the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland. The purpose of both the ham and doughnut campaigns is to bring the circular economy closer to the everyday lives of consumers through concrete examples. For May Day 2017, Fazer will be donating to Neste the fat that was used to fry its doughnuts. Neste will use it to make Neste MY renewable diesel at its Porvoo refinery. The value of the fuel will be donated to the Finnish chapter of the SOS Children’s Village International charity.

Neste in brief

Neste (NESTE, Nasdaq Helsinki) builds sustainable options for the needs of transport, businesses and consumers. Our global range of products and services allows customers to lower their carbon footprint by combining high-quality and low-emission renewable products and oil products to tailor-made service solutions. We are the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel refined from waste and residues, and we are also bringing renewable solutions to the aviation and plastics industries. We want to be a reliable partner whose expertise, research and sustainable practices are widely appreciated. In 2016, Neste’s net sales stood at EUR 11.7 billion, and we were on the Global 100 list of the 100 most sustainable companies in the world. Read more: www.neste.com/en

Tips for a better Earth Day

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Earth Day is Saturday, and many people pledge to make changes to help improve the environment. What advice may be offered in this quest?

If you are going green for Earth Day, you are not alone. Earth Day is when many people pledge to make changes to help improve the environment. When consumers think of going green, we often think of how costly it can be. While big changes like buying a hybrid vehicle or installing solar panels on your roof can be costly, consumers can also help the environment without purchasing expensive items.

Here are some tips for small, inexpensive changes we can all make to our lifestyles to help improve the environment:

• Turn off and unplug appliances. Everyone knows to turn off lights to save energy, but did you know that many appliances use electricity even when they are turned off? Unplugging appliances when not in use can save on your utility bill. Most appliances don’t need constant power; two that do need to stay plugged in are cable TV boxes and clocks.

• Recycle more than paper and plastic. Recycling is good for the environment, but many items that can be recycled aren’t making it into the recycle bins. Some surprising things that you can recycle: aluminum foil, batteries, empty paint cans, and milk cartons. Check with your municipality or commercial trash service to see what items can be recycled in your area.

• Recycle electronics safely. Balance environmentalism with cybersecurity by knowing how to safely dispose of computers, tablets, and smart phones. Make sure to “wipe” your system completely and to destroy or shred hard drives and other storage devices that could have sensitive data. Many recycling centers have special drop-off days for e-waste. For both environmental and security reasons, don’t put e-waste in with regular trash or household recycling.

• Walk or bike to your destination. You don’t have to purchase an eco-friendly car to do your part to reduce air pollution. Walking, biking, carpooling, or using public transportation, even part of the time, can have a big impact.

• Understand “green marketing” terms. With so many eco-friendly products on the market, it can be difficult to know what helps and what may be hype. The Federal Trade Commission has definitions for various terms like non-toxic, VOC-free, ozone-friendly, etc. The more you know the better decisions you can make about the products you buy.

• Use your air conditioner less. Air conditioners are among the biggest energy hogs most of us have in our homes. Use a set-back thermostat to raise temperatures when you are not at home, try ceiling fans to keep air circulating, or turn off the AC altogether and open some windows for an eco-friendly summer.

• Ask your utility company for more information. Many electric and other utility companies offer energy-saving tips and even home energy audits. Contact your utility company to find out additional ways you can save energy.

China renewable power waste worsens in 2016 – Greenpeace


* Wasted wind hits 17 pct of total generation in 2016

* Lost earnings estimated at $4.95 bln in two years

* China to raise renewables from 6.3 pct to 9 pct of total
power
(Adds new renewable electricity target; executive quote)

By David Stanway

SHANGHAI, April 19 The amount of electricity
wasted by China’s solar and wind power sectors rose
significantly last year, environment group Greenpeace said in a
research report published Wednesday, despite government pledges
to rectify the problem.

China has promised to improve what it called the “rhythm” of
grid and generation capacity construction to avoid
“curtailment,” which occurs when there is insufficient
transmission to absorb power produced by renewable projects.

But Greenpeace said wasted wind power still reached 17
percent of the total generated by wind farms last year, up from
8 percent in 2014, and was as high as 43 percent in the
northwestern province of Gansu. The amount that failed to make
it to the grid was enough to power Beijing for the whole of
2015, it added.

Solar curtailment across China rose 50 percent over 2015 and
2016. More than 30 percent of solar power in Gansu and
neighbouring Xinjiang failed to reach the grid.

Greenpeace said earlier that total solar and wind investment
between now and 2030 could hit $780 billion.

But, rising levels of waste cost the industry as much as
34.1 billion yuan ($4.95 billion) in lost earnings over 2015-16,
it said Wednesday.

China’s energy regulator said late on Tuesday that it aims
to raise the share of non-hydro renewable electricity delivered
to the grid to 9 percent of the total by 2020, up from 6.3
percent last year and 5 percent in 2015.

It said renewable capacity hit 34.6 percent of the national
total in 2016, while actual generation from renewable sources –
including major hydro projects – stood at 25.4 percent of the
total last year.

China produced 12.3 billion kWh of solar power in the first
quarter of 2017, up 31 percent year-on-year but accounting for
just 1.1 percent of total generation over the period, official
data showed on Monday. Wind hit 62.1 billion kWh, 4.3 percent of
the total and dwarfed by the 77.9 percent share occupied by
thermal electricity.

Grid construction has slipped behind, with China focusing on
expensive ultra-high voltage (UHV) routes that better suit
large-scale power generation projects.

“Upgrades to the system are urgently needed, including a
more flexible physical structure of the grid, efficient
cross-region transmission channels and smart peak load
operation,” said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Yuan
Ying.

Many regions have used renewables as back-up electricity
sources during peak periods, and it falls idle when power use
drops. Provinces are now lobbying for UHV connections allowing
them to sell surplus power to other regions.

Executives at a Shanghai conference on Wednesday said
curtailment was eroding cash flows and discouraging investment,
and while China was looking for solutions, the answer was likely
to be technological.

“If you are in remote areas and there’s no grid around, you
build storage – transformer stations and storage plants that can
make the energy available at a later stage,” said Andreas
Liebheit, president of Heraeus Materials Technology Shanghai,
which produces specialist materials for solar panels.
($1 = 6.8894 yuan)
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Going green: 10 ways to make your office more eco-friendly and efficient

The upcoming Earth Day reminds us that there are always more ways for enterprises and employees to adopt environmentally-friendly policies. Here are 10 ways your company can go green.

1. Start a sustainability team for your office

A sustainability team can both raise awareness and accomplish more, said Kris Osterwood, technical and policy director for the Green Building Alliance. Projects for the team could include starting or enabling a more successful recycling program, and helping to inform purchasing decisions on energy-efficient appliances and green cleaning supplies.

A team like this can also educate staff through informational lunch-and-learn sessions with local departments of water and power or waste authority, said Andrew McCrea, account executive and green team community events chair at Weber Shandwick.

“Employees engaging one another is more effective than memos from the top,” McCrea said. “This group can conduct monthly ‘inspections’ looking at the power/gas meters, amount of office supplies ordered, etc., and keep record to gauge positive or negative movement.”

SEE: Going green in the data center (Tech Pro Research)

2. Create monthly green challenges

Monthly team challenges can be a fun way of combining competition and going green, McCrea said. For example, you can challenge the office to go a month with no plastic eating utensils, and reward those who stick with it by offering small prizes, such as coffee gift cards or snacks.

3. Turn off electronics, lighting, and heat every evening

Instate a strict everything-off-at-night rule, Osterwood said.

At Wooden Blinds Direct, “upon leaving the office, all of your equipment must be switched off at the main plug,” said content manager Amy Kilvington. “If someone forgets, they have to put some money in our Green Jar,” which gets donated to an environmental fund, she added.

4. Opt for better office products

There may not be room in your budget to buy exclusively sustainable products, but you can focus on certain areas that have a huge overall impact, such as more efficient electronics, said Kathy Gerwig, vice president of employee safety, health and wellness, and environmental stewardship officer at Kaiser Permanente. In 2016, Kaiser Permanente purchased greener electronics that will ultimately avoid the disposal of 124 metric tons of hazardous waste, Gerwig said.

5. Embrace renewable energy

Green power sources, including solar and wind energy, are more accessible than ever, with options including rooftop solar installations and large-scale wind farms. Organizations of any size can make this switch, Gerwig said.

If your business is located in a deregulated electricity state, one easy way to make your office greener is to shop for your electricity supplier and choose a green energy plan, said Kelly Bedrich, co-founder of ElectricityPlans.com. Almost every electricity supplier offers green energy plans that are generated by renewable energy sources, primarily wind and solar, Bedrich said. These green electricity plans are priced very competitively compared to traditional electricity plans powered by coal or natural gas, she added.

istock-495382879.jpg

6. Lay off the thermostat

Workplaces are often over-air conditioned in the summer months, Osterwood said. Employees can inquire about increasing the set point, to both allow for a more comfortable workspace, and to reduce energy use.

One large retail store lessened its impact on the environment by setting the AC to kick on at 75 degrees, instead of 74, according to Bridget Venne, energy and sustainability strategic advisor for Ecova. The store now consumes 30,000 fewer kilowatts, and saves $3,100 every year. “Smaller businesses might not notice such a dramatic change, but little adjustments done with intention build positive habits that make a difference over time,” Venne said.

7. Go paperless

The greenest paper is no paper at all, said Vince Digneo, sustainability strategist at Adobe. Corrections, revisions, and updates on printed documents contribute to 90% of all office waste in the US, and remaining 10% is taking up space in storage facilities, he said. “Keep things digital whenever possible,” Digneo said. “It’s as easy as keeping digital files on on your computers and mobile devices, not file cabinets. Also, get in the habit of reviewing digital documents on-screen, rather than printing them out.”

According to a 2014 study conducted by Catalog Spree and PaperKarma, if the US alone cuts its office paper use by just 10% by moving to digital, it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.45 million metric tons—the equivalent to taking 280,000 cars off the road for an entire year, Digneo said.

Other ways to go paperless include printing less in general, and asking vendors to offer e-statements and invoices instead of paper statements. Setting up automated payments further reduces paperwork by eliminating the need for printed checks, said tech blogger Amy McGarity of German Pearls.

“By using existing technologies to remove some of the paperwork burden of the accounts payables process, companies would find that they’ve both reduced their carbon footprint and improved the efficiency of their business,” McGarity said.

SEE: Amazing Space: Why green tech is good for business and the environment

8. Bring a desk plant

If you’re able, bring in a desk plan to improve indoor air quality and bring some nature into the office environment, Osterwood said.

“Plants produce more oxygen, offsetting any chemicals released into the air by new office furniture and making a cleaner, happier space for your people to work in,” said Rebecca Galloway, communications manager at information design studio FFunction.

9. Maximize natural light

The World Green Building Council reports that employees working near sunlit windows have a 15% higher production rate. “Natural light sets the body’s circadian rhythms, which control awakening, falling asleep, synthesizing vitamin D and digestion,” said Jennifer Walton, principal of H. Hendy Associates. “Indoor light, however, is a major disruptor. If possible, move workstations to within 25 feet of peripheral walls with windows.”

Relying more on natural light when possible also saves energy, Digneo said. “Also consider installing a smart power strip at every workstation, replacing all lighting fixtures with LEDs, as well as incorporating sensors and timers for office lighting,” he added. “You’ll reduce energy consumption and costs on things like utility bills.”

10. Encourage green commuting

Companies can encourage employees to lower commuting emissions by walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transit to the office, and offering incentives to do so, Galloway said.

Offering work-from-home policies can also reduce your company’s carbon footprint, Digneo said. The average American has a work commute of about 25 minutes each way, and flies about 17 hours per year, he added. “Reduce employee travel whenever possible,” Digneo said. “There are a number of great web/video conferencing tools out there. It saves the company budget, but it also reduces Scope 3 emissions.”

Also see

The Benefits of Building an Environmentally Friendly Business

Implementing an environmentally friendly policy for your business can be more than just about preserving the natural resources of our planet and reducing our impact on the environment. Not only can green practices help protect our habitat, it can also help companies to improve their bottom line. From cutting back expenses to boosting brand image, being eco-friendly is more than worth the effort.

Here are the most important advantages of being green:

Public Relations:

These days the pressure of being green is on. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of pressing environmental issues and have the expectation that businesses will be proactive in how they produce and generate their products and services. Even investors are favoriting companies that are open about their eco-friendly policies and highlight the benefits they bring to local ecosystems and communities. Companies that put an emphasize on the fact that they too care about environmental issues and are taking responsibility for their impact are more likely to gain the favor of like-minded consumers and investors.

Make your business’s efforts to go green a part of your marketing campaign by mentioning your efforts to make the world more environmentally friendly. Use recycled products or change your manufacturing processes to ones that are safer for the environment and show these efforts in your marketing efforts. Additionally, you can show consumers in your interest by encouraging them to the eco-friendly action as well by donating money to the same causes you support that benefit the environment.

Cost Savings

Reducing waste and fuel consumption are just a few examples of how an eco-friendly approach can save you a fortune. Changing the ways in which resources are being used at in the office can greatly impact the costs that comes with running a business. Take unnecessary materials such as plastic and paper, for instance. You can easily avoid the cost that come with using these unnecessary products by coaching your staff to print double-sided, encouraging your employees to reuse materials or tossing them out of the office completely.

Take a cue from Coca-cola who saved $100 million when they decided to cut down and improve the packaging of their products to support their going green campaign. Minimizing office energy consumption is another way to save up funds, shutting off lights and computers when they’re not in use will considerably lower your energy bills in the long run.

Meet Consumer Demand

As environmental consciousness continues to gain traction amongst consumers, people are demanding more green products and services from companies. Environmentally conscious consumers check labels to ensure that the products and packages they’re purchasing are made from recycled materials. As a result the market share for green products is expanding in a variety of industries. Your business can tap into this market by offering more green products and service.

Improve Business Relations

Stakeholders and investors typically appreciate the work of green certificates. By boasting your eco-friendly credentials and qualifications, not only can you open doors to new partnerships, social media fans, and business opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible, you can also make your investors happy. What’s more, being eco-friendly attracts the employees and specialists (mostly made up of today’s young talents) who can help you to keep track of growing trends in the pro-environment community.

Healthier Workplace

Using natural, biodegradable cleaning products can help reduce exposure to harsh toxins and other chemicals, and also reduce the side effects that come with such contact. In fact, according to the Green Business Bureau website, companies that promote a healthier workplace report a 20% decrease in the number of sick days utilized by their employees. Not only does this keep companies safe from the potential threat of lawsuits it also benefits them through increased productivity and decreased medical benefit related expenses. Consider introducing organic food selections in your company’s cafeteria or the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Tax Credits

In 2009, the government introduced an economic stimulus plan that provided incentives for companies to go green in the form of tax credits. There’s quite a bit to be gained from this payoff including a boon to a business’s bottom line. Consider collecting on tax credits by utilizing environmentally friendly business practices, such as switching to renewable energy sources like solar power, and using electric or hybrid automobiles and trucks as delivery vehicles.

China renewable power waste worsens in 2016 – Greenpeace …


SHANGHAI, April 19 The amount of electricity
wasted by China’s solar and wind power sectors rose
significantly last year, environment group Greenpeace said in a
research report published on Wednesday, despite government
pledges to rectify the problem.

China promised last year to improve what it called the
“rhythm” of construction of power transmission lines and
renewable generation to avoid “curtailment,” which occurs when
there is insufficient transmission to absorb the power generated
by the renewable projects.

But Greenpeace said wasted wind power still rose to 17
percent of the total generated by wind farms last year, up from
8 percent in 2014. The amount that failed to make it to the grid
was enough to power China’s capital Beijing for the whole of
2015, it added.

Wasted wind generation in the northwestern province of Gansu
was 43 percent of the total generated last year, it said.

Solar curtailment rates across China rose 50 percent over
2015 and 2016. More than 30 percent of available solar power in
Gansu and neighbouring Xinjiang failed to reach the grid.

In an earlier report Greenpeace said total solar and wind
investment between now and 2030 could reach as much as $780
billion.

But, rising levels of waste had cost the industry as much as
34.1 billion yuan ($4.95 billion) in lost earnings over the 2015
to 2016 period, it said on Wednesday.

China produced 12.3 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of solar
power in the first quarter of 2017, up 31 percent year-on-year
but accounting for just 1.1 percent of total generation over the
period, according to official data on Monday. Wind rose to 62.1
billion kWh, 4.3 percent of the total, but was dwarfed by the
77.9 percent share occupied by thermal electricity.

Grid construction has fallen behind, with China focusing on
expensive ultra-high voltage cross-country lines, which are
better suited to large-scale power generation projects,
including large hydropower facilities in the southwest.

“Upgrades to the system are urgently needed, including a
more flexible physical structure of the grid, efficient
cross-region transmission channels and smart peak load
operation,” said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Yuan
Ying.

Many regions have used wind and solar only as back-up
electricity sources during peak periods, and much of it falls
idle when power use drops.

According to official data, the renewables base of
Zhangjiakou, north of Beijing, has more than four times the wind
and solar installations than the local grid can handle, and
capacity is still set to increase rapidly.
($1 = 6.8894 yuan)
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Viridor names contractor for England waste-to-energy plant

Viridor, one of the U.K.’s largest recycling and renewable energy companies, has appointed CNIM S.A. and Clugston Construction Ltd to build a new £252 million Energy Recovery Facility on an industrial site in Avonmouth on the outskirts of Bristol.

Industrial engineering contractor CNIM will provide the established technology for the new, consented facility and Clugston has been appointed as the building and civils contractor.  Construction will start this summer, with more than 600 people working on site during peak construction, and 45 permanent roles created during operations.

The facility will enable local authorities and business to transform 320,000 tonnes of nonrecyclable residual waste each year into renewable energy, which would otherwise go to landfill.  As part of that transition Viridor recently signed a 25-year contract with Somerset County Council, brokered by Somerset Waste Partnership, which will see about a third of the available capacity at Avonmouth being taken up, by diverting waste that is currently transported to three landfill sites.

Once operational in 2020, the new ERF at Avonmouth will generate 34MW of low carbon energy, supplying National Grid with enough electricity to power 44,000 homes.

The project is committed to delivering local economic benefit including construction roles and supply chain opportunities.  CNIM and Clugston, in partnership with Viridor, will be organizing local job fairs and meet the buyer events in due course.

The new facility will become Viridor’s 12th ERF and is the fourth to be developed with CNIM.  The new-build project is part of a £1.5 billion investment by Viridor in the UK’s national social infrastructure, supporting the Government’s industrial strategy.

The decision to proceed with the Avonmouth investment was made in November 2016 by Viridor’s parent company Pennon Group Plc, one of the largest environmental infrastructure companies in the UK.

 

Tesla’s ‘crazy’ climb to lead the pack of U.S. automakers

The story of Tesla’s rise speaks to the divided American economy in 2017. Eco-friendly government tax credits, a boom in financial backing and the promise of futuristic innovation have made Tesla a badge for drivers who believe in the mission, want the image and can afford the lofty prices.

The luxury electric-car company Tesla has yet to turn a profit, losing hundreds of millions of dollars last year alone. But on Monday, the darling of Silicon Valley became the most valuable American car company, surpassing General Motors, the Detroit granddaddy with $10 billion in sales on nearly 10 million vehicles.

Shares of Tesla, run by high-profile chief executive Elon Musk, put the company’s value at $51.5 billion, above GM’s $50.2 billion. Tesla blew by Ford ($44.6 billion) last week.

Musk’s company produced just 84,000 cars last year, with starting prices of $68,000.

The story of Tesla’s rise speaks to the divided American economy in 2017. Eco-friendly government tax credits, a boom in financial backing and the promise of futuristic innovation have made Tesla a badge for drivers who believe in the mission, want the image and can afford the lofty prices.

At the same time, Tesla, with its long-running saga of production problems, hasn’t come close to fulfilling its mass-market ambitions. Beyond selling far fewer cars than its Detroit rivals, its automated factories employ a small fraction of GM’s factory workforce.

Tesla’s stock-market rise has made Musk one of the country’s richest people and given him widespread influence, including another meeting with President Trump last Tuesday. But even critics who say Tesla could represent a technology bubble in the stock market acknowledge that the company’s success points to a new reality in the automotive industry that will reshape the experience of driving for most Americans.

“This is the ultimate bubble, which is doomed to burst,” said former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz. “Tesla cars are fine, but the business model is not,” he said, pointing to the high cost of production, which is not recovered in the sale price. But, he added, “all legacy car companies will soon have a variety” of similar electric vehicles.

 

Tesla has two models for sale and a third due out this year. The Model S starts at $68,000 and goes up to $134,000, depending on power and speed. The Tesla Model X, its sport-utility vehicle, begins at $85,000.

Its midmarket entry, the long-awaited Tesla Model 3, is expected to hit showrooms in the second half of the year and is priced around $35,000. At that price, the Model 3 will compete with GM’s Chevrolet all-electric Bolt and Ford’s all-electric Focus.

Ivan Feinseth, chief investment officer at Tigress Financial Partners, said Tesla competes in a rarefied market: “The car is a high-performance luxury car that happens to have an electric engine,” Feinseth said. “It competes with BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.”

The stratospheric climb of Tesla’s stock price from $40 in 2013 to more than $312 in trading on Monday propelled the company to its highest value.

A stock analyst’s recommendation to buy Tesla shares is “one of the more absurd I’ve seen in a while,” said Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller Washington, a D.C. investment firm. He noted that the company is expected to lose money in 2018 but that the stock is expected to increase to $368 a share.

“Investors were asked to employ a ‘creative’ valuation methodology. I think that means that when the numbers don’t make any sense, one should ignore them and focus on other things,” Farr said. “It’s like being told to ignore the flames coming out of that airplane, I’m sure your trip will be fine.”

Feinseth said when you look at Tesla’s potential for growth, its dealer network, supply chain and the quality of the Tesla car itself, the value makes more sense.

“It’s not unusual to value growth companies even to the point of being a little crazy,” Feinseth said.

 

Tesla’s reputation as beyond-a-car company — it recently absorbed Musk’s Solar City company for $5 billion — has captured the imagination of California’s technology pack and, apparently, investors. The company has been developing batteries that could store power from rooftop solar panels, expanding its mission into a renewable-energy enterprise. Tesla also is exploring technology for self-driving cars.

Musk’s outreach to Trump and the new administration’s emphasis on U.S. manufacturing is working to Tesla’s advantage, helping propel the stock even more since the November election and by more than 40 percent since January.

“The market is willing to say ‘I’m going to value you based on what I think your future potential is,’ and it could be off of what you think they could make selling cars, what they could make selling batteries, what they could make selling solar or what they could make as a mobility company,” said Matthew Stover, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group. “Everything is on the table, and it’s all speculative.”

Musk, 45, is a South African-born Canadian-American business mogul with an estimated net worth of $14.8 billion, according to the latest estimates by Forbes magazine. He made his fortune selling money-transfer service PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.

 

Like Amazon.com founder (and Washington Post owner) Jeffrey Bezos, Musk is known for pursuits that take him beyond his primary business. Bezos, through Blue Origin, and Musk, through SpaceX, have launched private companies aimed at human spaceflight.

Despite’s GM’s dominance in car sales (its U.S. market share is 17.3 percent compared with 0.2 percent for Tesla), analysts admire what Musk has built.

“Making cars is a hard business,” Feinseth said, “and putting together in such a short time a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility along with a dealer and showrooms and a support network of service centers and charging facilities, that is very hard.”

But the engaging story aside, the Tesla ending is still up for grabs.

One challenge is drivers’ fear that they will run out of power and be left stranded, known as range anxiety. Tesla’s models have a range of generally less than 250 miles.

According to Tesla’s website, Tesla buyers, like all buyers of electric vehicles, may claim a $7,500 federal income tax credit. Several states offer additional incentives, often taking the form of a rebate.

There is some chance that a Republican Congress and administration could remove such incentives, although investor fears have apparently receded based on the soaring stock price.

Stover said that Tesla still has to prove it can make money. Its rise, he says, “says a lot more about the stock market than it does about the auto industry.”

Despite Trump’s Efforts, the Solar Industry Marches Forward with New Breakthroughs in Technology

New innovations in solar technology seem to arrive daily, and the beneficiaries of these breakthroughs are everyday businesses and consumers. What’s becoming most prominent across the solar landscape in recent months, however, is how new applications and technologies are disrupting the industry in the face of President Trump’s threatening stance on renewables at large.

Trump is in the opening stages dismantling the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era energy efficiency initiative that benchmarked the retirement of coal plants. In fact, Trump is going one step further and actually reopening public lands to oil and gas extraction, in addition to greenlighting the completion of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Needless to say, Trump’s substantial budget cuts to the Energy Department and the EPA seem pedestrian at this point, though their ramifications will be felt for years to come.

But the solar industry is proving resilient while stretched on the rack of federal constraints, and Americans are still seeing the many advantages of transitioning to renewables materialize in real time.

Going It Alone on Solar

The average person today is likely aware of the common solar buzzwords: solar panels, solar cars, climate change and maybe even Elon Musk. But there are a number of smaller-scale advancements currently under the radar that may soon be prevalent in cities across the United States, ones the federal government would have a hard time preventing.

Brooklyn Microgrid, for example, is a New York-based project that utilizes blockchain—the digital accounting and currency exchange system—for the purpose of activating consumers’ green energy transitions.

So how does it work?

Traditional energy consumption follows a strict supply chain involving electrical grids, power plants, utility companies, energy suppliers and various service providers that tack on additional fees and charges at each step of the process. In practice the only thing the customer cares about is being able to turn the lights off and on—everything else in the power chain is unknown for all intents and purposes.

But with Brooklyn Microgrid, residents with solar arrays on their rooftops opt into a peer-to-peer energy trading system that displaces utilities entirely. Say House A generates 110 percent of its electricity needs; what happens to the extra 10 percent it has on hand?

Some states mandate the method in which extra energy is sold back to utility companies in exchange for rebates on future electricity bills while others have no system in place for dealing with a transaction at all. For homeowners who don’t yet have battery storage devices installed on their properties, extra energy may be going to waste.

By using blockchain, Brooklyn Microgrid enables consumers to trade their excess energy on a private marketplace through a network of credits. House A can sell its extra energy credits to House B which may have only produced 90 percent of its electricity needs for a given month.

These microgrids are becoming commonplace in communities that hold shared values, effectively making every consumer an entrepreneur and an ecological champion. Extrapolated across many neighborhoods and cities, this groundswell has the potential for a measurable environmental impact in light of an administration that generally supports big business and fossil fuel-friendly organizations.

Each of these microgrids typically integrates directly into a larger electrical grid, but the innovators behind the Brooklyn Microgrid are hoping to one day create independent grids that operate autonomously by community. Germany, Australia and Bangladesh are also experimenting with similar designs and have seen early successes. A decentralized power commission would be a true free market augmentation of the current energy generation and transmission process, and would allow average consumers to meet the real-time demands of themselves and their neighbors.

Local businesses, educational facilities and larger municipal buildings are prime real estate for similar peer-to-peer and community-based energy trading, and the financial rewards are not only realized in reduced utility bills but in favorable publicity, an engaged populace and a collective sense of unity and direction.

A new tool from Google is facilitating this type of solar energy transition by equipping a growing number of consumers and businesses with the predictive models and financial estimates they need on hand before committing to such a big decision.

Is Solar Right for You? Project Sunroof Has Your Answer

One of the largest barriers to entry for those interested in going solar is the fear of making a huge investment without the guarantee of an equitable payoff. The biggest wave of solar installations in the past was attributed to customers that were very aware of the technology and had the cash to afford an array, but this category of buyers has largely been depleted—now the industry must sign up new customers that are harder to convince and are naturally more skeptical.

Google’s Project Sunroof aims to alleviate these worries by using 3-D modeling software that illustrates whether a rooftop is a good candidate for solar panels. The answer is 80 percent are ideal candidates.

Factoring in weather and geographical variations, the size of buildings, projected energy demand, locations of nearby trees and other logistical considerations, Project Sunroof makes a convincing case that solar panels are economically and electrically viable options for a vast majority of consumers, especially those in California and Texas. Other states that are projected to lead the charge on the next wave of solar installations include Utah and South Carolina.

Combining this sort of technology with new developments in solar cell efficiency equates to a dramatic step forward for the solar industry.

MIT researchers have uncovered a way to make solar cells twice as efficient in converting sun rays into usable energy. A layer of photonic crystals absorbs sunlight then retains the very specific type of light a solar cell needs to convert energy while an optical filter reflects back into the atmosphere the light which it cannot use. This filtering process raises the bar for what is conceivably possible in the near future.

The experiments have proven effective in a lab environment and scaling up these advancements into a real-world scenario is in progress.

These discoveries have prompted many experts to declare solar’s growth destined with or without the federal government’s intervention, and it’s clear there’s a strong appetite for eco-friendly and local-level action. In that sense, highly efficient microgrids may rapidly expand into new markets, picking up new converts along the way. As solar costs drop further, the nation will in a matter of years reach a tipping point that puts its energy options into clearer focus, and the odds are distinctly in solar energy’s favor.