Cleantech and more

Mining industry starts to dig renewables

Record-low solar, wind and energy storage costs have caught the attention of mining companies looking for clean power.

Until about eight months ago, rolling blackouts were a common occurrence in South Africa, where the national power grid is notorious for being unreliable and Eskom, the state-owned utility, has struggled to keep up with rising electricity demand.

But Eskom can’t take credit for this period of relative stability. On the contrary, the situation is not about what Eskom did; it’s about how industry reacted. Electricity demand has eased in the country. Worries over patchy, unpredictable power supply have driven away investment and slowed economic activity. South Africa’s massive mining sector is among the most affected.

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Taking the temperature

Toronto-based Ecobee has morphed into a heavy hitter in the burgeoning home thermostat market.

Stuart Lombard had no obvious reason to leave his job as a venture capitalist in 2007. Times were good. As managing partner with J.L. Albright Venture Partners in Toronto, he worked out of a swank office on the 44th floor of Brookfield Place, at the time known as BCE Place. The firm was one of Canada’s most successful early-stage investors in Internet and software startups, many of which were acquired by the likes of General Electric and Cisco.

Lombard also had major street cred in the technology world. During the 1990s he co-founded what grew to become Toronto’s largest Internet service provider, and as chief executive of Isolation Systems, a maker of virtual private network products, he built a company that in 1998 was sold for $37 million and at one point was owned by Intel.

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A changing of the guard at Corporate Knights

Same fight, new editor, and four reasons to hope.

Four is and has always been my favourite number. Some people think having a favourite number is silly, but the number “4” has meaning when it pops into my head. Sharp. Well balanced. A homonym to the word “for,” which to me represents positivity and agreement and progress.

Three’s company but four is a party. When I started developing my personal signature in high school math class, I even incorporated the number four into the scribble that is my last name. So perhaps it’s fitting that after four years of leading the small but resourceful editorial team at Corporate Knights – which by the way puts out four issues a year – it’s time for me to move along.

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Can big oil transition to a low-carbon economy?

There are no easy or painless answers, but there will be casualties as the fossil fuel industry approaches its Kodak moment.

Please, PUT a global price on carbon.

That’s pretty much what six of Europe’s biggest oil and gas companies said in a joint letter sent in May to Christiana Figueres, the United Nations’ top climate bureaucrat.

“We stand ready to play our part,” Shell, BP, Total, Statoil, Eni and BG Group wrote, pointing to a number of actions they are already taking to limit emissions, from greater investment in lower-carbon natural gas and operational efficiency to supplying more renewable energy and exploring the use of carbon capture and storage.

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Hotels, Airbnb battle for green cred

Whether for leisure or business, more travelers are seeking accommodations that mesh with sustainable values.

Shipping container, recycled concrete pipe, or treetop – take your pick. Yes, this is an article about sustainable hospitality, and yes, the three strange options above are all types of hotels. A Days Inn hotel in Sioux Lookout, Northern Ontario, boasts of being the largest hotel in North America constructed with old shipping containers – 120 of them to be exact.

In Sweden’s Lule River Valley, a venture called Treehotel offers rooms that are suspended up to six metres from the ground within a tall pine forest, while Tubohotel in Tepoztlán, Mexico, uses massive recycled concrete pipes as the housing for its 20 rooms, stacked in pyramids of three.

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