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.
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…)
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.
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.
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…)
The Shanghai Tower will be the tallest building in China by its completion in 2014, but that is not its biggest accomplishment. The term “vertical city” has been used to describe the cornucopia of spaces that it will offer including Class-A office space, a luxury hotel, high-end retail, and event space. This aspect still pales in comparison to the building’s biggest accomplishment, its innovation in green design.
With wind turbines, a complex rainwater collection system, two envelope layers that surround nine interior sky gardens, and an ingenious design that mitigates lateral loads from wind and reduces the necessary structural steel by over 20 percent, this building is setting the bar high for super-tall buildings. Remarkably, all of these sustainable strategies are being implemented in China.
To further explain the design process and to prove that sustainability in China is not that surprising, I asked Gensler’s Director of Architecture for the Northwest Region (who is speaking on behalf of the Shanghai based project team) a couple of questions regarding sustainable building in China and how the Shanghai Tower epitomized the emerging trend.
CleanTechies: I wanted to start off by asking you what the marketplace is like for sustainable building in China. Is it as popular or as big in China as it is in the United States? (more…)
Eighteen months ago Clive Hamilton finally admitted to himself that we’re not going to act with the urgency needed to meet the action required by the science. Hence his new book Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change.
It is now too late to prevent far-reaching changes in the earth’s climate. An optimistic outlook could see global emissions peaking in 2020 then declining by 3 percent each year, with emissions in rich countries falling by 6 to 7 percent. It’s not enough.
Drawing particularly on the 2008 paper by Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows from the United Kingdom’s Tyndall Centre, Hamilton concludes that this would see the greenhouse gas concentration rise over the century to 650 parts per million, far in excess of the ‘safe’ 450 ppm talked about.
Four degrees of warming is more likely by the century’s end than two degrees. The assumptions on which international negotiations and national policies are proceeding have no foundation in the way in which the Earth’s climate system actually behaves. (more…)
“2010 will be a day of reckoning for solar projects that have been announced,” said Mark McLanahan, CEO at Renewable Ventures, a Fotowatio company.
Five hundred bankers and solar executives speculated about the promise and pitfalls of implementing solar power projects at the 2010 Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego last week.
Permitting the Biggest Challenge
Permit approval and securing financing dominated the two-and-a-half day meeting as the greatest obstacles to completing projects. A panel of venture capitalists agreed that in all cases, developing solar projects and technology consistently takes longer than expected.
According to Sven Strohband, partner with MDV-Mohr Davidow Ventures, this is because “materials science is hard, but not as hard as biology: We are trying to do something truly new, and solar investments require a lot of capital to go to market.” (more…)
Aviation demand for biofuels is bursting at the seams. Hemmed in by emerging certifications, a petroleum-based distribution network, and lack of supply, the industry is stuck on petroleum fuels for now, but not by choice.
Pressure to integrate more biofuels into the supply chain is palpable: oil price increases, oil price volatility, oil scarcity, greenhouse gas emission regulation, and increasingly, corporate social responsibility commitments. The future of the aviation sector is dependent on its ability to pivot away from petroleum-based fuels to alternative sources of energy, and they must do it quickly.
One caveat: while demand may be substantial, no one knows for sure if supply can keep pace, which makes statements from aviation experts at the World Biofuels Markets taking place in Amsterdam this week all that more interesting. (more…)
Thanks to a new TXU Energy and SolarCity partnership residents of Dallas, Texas will soon have the option to lease a photovoltaic solar array to offset high-energy cost. Similar programs are in place around the world, but in Texas where sprawling suburbs are common and air conditioning in the summer means sky rocketing fuel costs the potential savings for consumers could be astronomical.
After tax incentives the average owner of a three to four bedroom house can expect to pay 35 dollars a month in energy costs. $35 is a far cry from the $26,000 it could cost to buy the same solar system outright.