Monday, February 1st, 2010
Tom Friedman spent most of 2009 beating the China-is-winning-the-green-race-drum, and he has started 2010 with the same focus.
In Sunday’s New York Times, the news side of the house joined their editorial page colleague, writing in a front page story that Chinese “efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.”
To his credit, Friedman’s push has been all about policy. He wants the United States to go all-in in a space-race-like push to match Chinese innovation in energy technology (“E.T.,” as he has glossed it). But, what has eluded his attention – and is absent again in Sunday’s news piece – is the recognition that in order to match Chinese innovation, the policy changes that would be required in the U.S. electricity markets would necessarily have to go far beyond decoupling, one of Friedman’s personal causes.
Friday, January 22nd, 2010
Installing wind turbines or solar panels on homes that are not well-insulated or energy-efficient amounts to little more than “eco-bling” that makes owners feel good but does little to reduce carbon emissions, according to a study by the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering.
To meet the U.K.’s goal of making all new homes and buildings carbon neutral by 2020 and slashing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, the report said, the government should focus on making new buildings highly energy-efficient, retrofitting older buildings to improve their energy efficiency, and investing in large-scale wind and solar projects.
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
Felix Kramer of Calcars thinks 2010 will be the year of the plug-in car. He’s got a good case: After years of advocacy and technology development, 2010 is the year that major manufacturers will finally make plug-ins broadly available, and rapidly decreasing battery costs are helping the conversion industry reach new customers and help retrofit the existing fleet at scale. After years of work and promise, 2010 is the payoff year.
I see a similar trend in solar in California, where years of policy and business development are all coming together to make 2010 an extraordinary year for solar development.
There are four major market drivers:
Monday, January 18th, 2010
Imagine being able to extract the solar energy trapped in the world’s tropical oceans and use it as a renewable power source.
Although that might sound like science fiction, a company in Hawaii called Ocees International Inc. is pursuing the technology — and it’s turned to a new Lancaster-based venture capital fund for help.
JPF Venture Fund 1 is the brainchild of Lancaster County resident Jeremy P. Feakins and his administrative team, which includes midstate businessmen Jim Greenberg and Ed Baer.
Friday, January 15th, 2010
Chinese manufacturers of photovoltaic solar panels have secured an increasing hold in California, the United States’ largest solar market, doubling their market share in the last year alone, according to a new report.
In the last three years, China’s share of the market increased from 2 percent to 46 percent, says Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research and consulting firm.
The share of U.S. manufacturers in the California market dropped from 43 percent to 16 percent during that same period.
“The ascendancy of Chinese manufacturers would be noteworthy regardless of market conditions, but is particularly telling in a time when purse-strings are still tight,” the report said. (more…)
Monday, January 11th, 2010
HelioFocus Ltd., an Israel-based solar thermal systems start-up, has raised more than $10 million from China’s Zhejiang Sanhua Co. and existing investor IC Green Energy.
HelioFocus announced the investment last week at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, where HelioFocus is developing its solar thermal technology to boost electricity production of existing power plants.
HelioFocus CEO Ory Zik said Sanhua, the Chinese maker of appliance components whose stock is traded on the Shenzhen stock exchange, would be not just a financial investor in the company, but will also produce some solar thermal components.
Friday, January 8th, 2010
According to Eric Straser, a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures and a pioneer in cleantech investing, “In 2009… cleantech…is now garnering nearly 20 percent of all dollars invested by VCs. In 2010, we’ll see public investors get into the action with several IPOs…”
So what VC trends should be influencing the development of your investment strategy?
Thursday, January 7th, 2010
Shrink Nanotechnologies is one of several companies that is using bioplastics to find a new way of making devices that will minimize the use of increasingly-scarce rare metals.
The company’s OptiSol Solar Concentrator is billed as a nanotechnology-based plastic solar concentrator and solar film. Traditional silicon solar cells absorb only a small fraction of the total incident solar radiation potential, with a majority of the light either reflected or converted to thermal energy.
Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
Solar-powered drip irrigation systems significantly increased vegetable production in villages in the western African nation of Benin, improving nutrition and boosting household incomes, according to a new study. The study, led by a researcher at Stanford University’s Program on Food Security and the Environment, installed solar-powered drip irrigation systems in two villages in Benin and compared the impact with two nearby villages that did not have drip irrigation systems.
The study found that, after a year, farmers with the solar irrigation systems saw vegetable production increase by 500 to 750 grams per person per day — three to five times greater than the villages that did not have irrigation systems.
The significantly increased yield meant that farmers could feed their families and sell up to 80 percent of their harvest at local markets, sharply increasing household income, according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (more…)
Thursday, December 31st, 2009
In October 2009, Skyline Solar announced that the company will employ an auto-manufacturing supplier, Cosma International, to manufacture and assemble large portions of its High Gain Solar (HGS) system. Over the past few years, we’ve seen other endeavors meant to stimulate the automobile manufacturing industry while accelerating energy independence. For example, the Cash for Clunkers program, encouraged new purchases of fuel-efficient cars, a way to reduce carbon emissions while stimulating the auto industry.
Another example, the V Vehicles plant in Louisiana, shows how existing factories can be used to generate renewable energy products: An out of operation auto plant in Monroe, Louisiana, will now be used to produce electric vehicles, providing about 1,400 local jobs.