First Takes: IKEA Aims for 100% Renewable in UK, Biofuels from Gators? and More

First Takes: IKEA Aims for 100% Renewable in UK, Biofuels from Gators? and More

IKEA Embraces Renewables for UK Operations: IKEA has set a goal of powering its UK stores with 100 percent renewable energy sources, and although it hasn't set a target for that goal, it could get to 80 percent by 2015 in the wake of the purchase of a 12.3-megawatt wind farm in Scotland, and the installation of 39,000 solar panels on its store roofs across the UK.

• Solon Latest Solar Firm to Take a Hit: The German solar manufacturer has announced that it is closing its Arizona factory, cutting 60 jobs, and potentially losing 265 of its 805 workers worldwide. The news is the latest in a string of struggles from the solar industry, where prices are falling faster than sales are rising, and government subsidies are being cut. Today's news follows on solar bankruptcies and sell-offs in yesterday's news.

What Have You Got Against Gators? Much of the biofuel produced in the United States comes from food sources: Soybeans and corn. Amid rising food prices and global shortages -- as well as growing demand for renewable liquid fuel sources -- an enterprising researcher at Lafayette University in Louisiana (naturally) has come up with an unlikely but potentially promising source for biofuels: Alligator fat. Apparently, each year, the alligator meat industry disposes of about 15 million pounds of alligator fat in landfills, and oil extracted from alligator fat can be easily converted to biodiesel.

SF to Launch Green Grades for Homes: City supervisors, hoping to spur competition for energy-efficient homes -- as well as boost home prices -- are contemplating the creation of a green grade program for homes, to let owners show off the upgrades they've made, and to get their money's worth when they put them on the market. "[E]xisting homes really are the lowest-hanging fruit for reducing [greenhouse-gas] emissions from the built environment," the USGBC's Nate Kredich told the Chronicle in support of the idea.

• Seattle's Green Jobs Program Failing to Flourish: When Seattle won a $20 million dollar grant in 2010 to weatherize homes in the area, it was a potentially big win for green jobs, green homes and the local economy. But the Post-Intelligencer is reporting that, over a year later, just three homes have been retrofitted, and only 14 jobs have been created, out of a previously anticipated 2,000 homes and 2,000 jobs. The paper reports that the problems have so far been bureaucratic obstacles and potentially poor priority-setting from officials managing the grant.

• Prizing Green Furniture and Bedding: Manufacturers of eco-friendly home furnishings can vie for the upcoming Sage Awards. GreenBiz's own Leslie Guevarra will be a judge for the first phase of the contest. Organizers of the annual competition are calling for entries to by September 2.

Photo CC-licensed by OakleyOriginals.