Monday, April 5th, 2010
China’s surging wind power industry will increasingly move offshore, experts say, as the nation’s first offshore wind farm reaches full power this month and government officials push several additional projects.
The 102-megawatt Shanghai wind farm is the first of several offshore wind projects planned by China, which last month opened bids for three to four large-scale offshore wind farms that officials say could generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity.
Beijing-based energy consultants Azure International predict that by 2020 China will have invested $100 billion to install 30,000 megawatts of capacity off the Chinese coast. (more…)
Monday, April 5th, 2010
MP2 Capital is a San Francisco firm that develops, finances and invests in distributed generation and small-scale utility solar projects throughout North America, selling the electricity produced by its projects to commercial, government and utility customers under power purchase agreements and feed-in tariffs.
Its latest project is a 445-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array in Winsted, Connecticut. MP2 Capital has entered into a power purchase agreement to sell all of the electricity generated to the Regional School District No. 7 for 20 years under a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.
The system, which sits atop multiple rooftops of the school district, was built by groSolar and is composed of 1,937 photovoltaic panels from Canadian Solar. It is expected to produce approximately 492,000 kilowatt hours of clean solar electricity and save the school district $26,000 in energy costs during the first year of operation. Over the term of the agreement, the system is expected to produce approximately 9,380,000 kilowatt-hours to offset the school’s energy use.
Brad Bauer, co-founder and managing director of MP2 Capital, talked with CleanTechies about the project. (more…)
Friday, April 2nd, 2010
Government subsidies that helped fuel Europe’s most successful solar markets continue to be slashed, raising concerns that the region’s burgeoning renewable sector will be unable to compete with China and the U.S., according to a report on Greenwire.
Germany, the world’s largest market for solar power, will cut the price paid for electricity from roof-mounted panels by 16 percent and electricity from larger solar power stations by 15 percent.
Analysts say the government simply underestimated how quickly the renewable sector would grow. From 2000 to 2008, the production of photovoltaic energy in Germany rose from 32 million kilowatt hours to 4.4 billion kilowatt hours. Government subsidies in Germany now cost nearly €1.5 billion annually. (more…)
Thursday, April 1st, 2010
The Asilomar conference on geoengineering had been touted as a potentially historic event. What emerged, however, were some unexpected lessons about the possibilities and pitfalls of manipulating the Earth’s climate to offset global warming.
In the beginning, I had my doubts. The Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies, held last week at the Asilomar conference grounds near Monterey, Calif., was touted as an “unprecedented” gathering of 175 scientists, environmental groups, philosophers, and public policy wonks to discuss the governance of geoengineering — that is, large-scale, intentional manipulation of the Earth’s climate to offset rising temperatures.
The meeting was obviously set up to channel the spirit of the first Asilomar conference in 1975, during which biologists drew up voluntary guidelines to help reassure the public that genetically modified organisms would not be released into the world. Asilomar 1.0 is remembered as a landmark event in the evolution of scientific ethics and a turning point in the public acceptance of biotechnology.
Asilomar 2.0 seemed to pale in comparison. For one thing, geoengineering may be a scary idea, but the dangers were nowhere near as immediate as the unintentional release of genetically modified organisms. (more…)
Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
Venture capital investment in clean technology reached $1.9 billion in the first quarter, climbing 83 percent from last year, according to a report by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte.
Startups in North America raised the greatest share among 180 companies around the world, a three-year peak for the area with $1.5 billion, or 81 percent of all investments. That’s a 79 percent rise from the 2009 fourth quarter slump, described as a “blip” by Cleantech Group President Sheeraz Haji.
The transportation sector led the way with a record $704 million, notably $350 million for electric car battery and infrastructure firm Better Place
, followed by significant investments in electric car and hybrid technologies. Fisker Automotive brought in $140 million, followed by $30 million for Coda Automotive, also based in California. Groupe Gruau of France reaped $23 million.
Monday, March 29th, 2010
Environmentalists have long sought to use the threat of catastrophic global warming to persuade the public to embrace a low-carbon economy. But recent events, including the tainting of some climate research, have shown the risks of trying to link energy policy to climate science.
The 20-year effort by environmentalists to establish climate science as the primary basis for far-reaching action to decarbonize the global energy economy today lies in ruins. Backlash in reaction to “Climategate” and recent controversies involving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 2007 assessment report are but the latest evidence that such efforts have evidently failed.
While the urge to blame fossil-fuel-funded skeptics for this recent bad turn of events has proven irresistible for most environmental leaders and pundits, forward-looking greens wishing to ascertain what might be salvaged from the wreckage would be well advised to look closer to home. (more…)
Friday, March 26th, 2010
Solar power is supposed to be clean and green, but what happens to the dirty ingredients involved to make and dispose of solar equipment?
Two years since the Washington Post first reported that a maker of polysilicon for solar panels was dumping toxic waste into Chinese soil, a U.S. nonprofit has ranked the “green” aspects of 25 photovoltaic module makers. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition launched the Solar Scorecard (PDF) on Tuesday.
Installations of solar modules rose by 42 percent in 2009, according to SolarBuzz. If this growth continues, rooftop modules that wear out within two to three decades threaten to add toxic bulk to landfills, just as yesterday’s computer monitors and cell phones have created unwieldly piles of consumer electronics waste.
Friday, March 26th, 2010
As I wrote last week, aviation demand for biofuels is bursting at the seams. The trouble is, there are no easy alternatives. Sustainable, non-food feedstocks like camelina and jatropha are just getting traction and the process of turning algae into fuel is still under development, which leaves few alternatives for the petroleum-dependent aviation industry.
Unlike ground transportation, the key issue for airlines is that they are entirely dependent on liquid fuel, and this — right now — is hurting their bottom line. According to the Air Transport Association (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, fuel expenses have historically ranged from 10 to 15 percent of U.S. passenger airline operating costs, but averaged more than 35 percent in the third quarter of 2008.
Friday, March 26th, 2010
(Reuters) – The lack of a permanent home for the nation’s radioactive waste is dampening prospects for a resurgence of the U.S. nuclear industry, federal commissioners said at their first public hearing on the subject.
The Energy Department set up the panel of former Congressmen, academics, and business leaders after deciding to scrap the long delayed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada.
Commissioners said nuclear waste does not pose an immediate threat to the nation, but a plan on its disposal must be hatched to address the concerns average Americans have about expanding nuclear power.
“This is a major impediment to the development of new nuclear sites,” said commissioner John Rowe, chief executive officer of power company Exelon Corp. “While we don’t have to do anything quickly to keep the public safe, we do have to do something decisive to have public credibility.” (more…)
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
China surged past the United States in clean energy investment and finance for the first time last year, becoming the global leader in the booming renewable energy market, according to a new report.
In 2009, China invested $34.6 billion in the development of renewable energy, nearly twice as much as the $18.6 billion spent by the United States., according to an analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Five years ago, China spent just $2.5 billion.
And while the report said the economic recession was a factor, it concluded that China’s growing dominance in green energy reflects a lack of long-term U.S. policies to provide incentives for the production of alternative energy. (more…)