Last month Solar had exciting fanfare with the USSMI report announcing that the solar industry was the fastest growing industry in America for the second year in a row!
Solar more than doubled in the U.S. in 2011 with growth of 109% in the number of PV installations, reaching 1,855 MW up from 887 MW in 2010. Twenty-eight individual PV projects of over 10 MW were completed in 2011, a marked rise from only two in 2009. (more…)
Energy, Clean Technology Career Opportunities Panel Lines Up All-Star Cast: Redfish Technology, Con Edison, Quadlogic, and the Green Bronx Machine
An All-Star group comes together at the ‘Go Green, Get Green Panel’on Earth Day (April 22, 2012) at New York’s Javits Center. The panel is part of the ‘Green Economy Jobs and Entrepreneurial Opportunities in the Energy Efficiency and Clean Tech Sector’ event being held at the Green Festival® which takes place the weekend of April 21-22. Participants include industry leaders: Redfish Technology – CleanTech Talent Acquisition, ConEd – Energy/ESCO, Quadlogic – Smart Meters, and Green Bronx Machine – Urban Agriculture/Green Economy). (more…)
Energy Efficiency Leading Renewables Sector, in Real Investment and in Jobs Potential
In the United States, energy efficiency/conservation measures to improve local buildings can create jobs, lower utility costs, and improve the environment. This potential has led to a lot of venture capital investment and mergers & acquisitions by managed service companies in various energy service companies (ESCOs). ESCOs provide energy sourcing, energy efficiency assessments, weatherization, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) tune-ups, cool roofs, rain barrels, and turf replacement. (more…)
developed by The Antenna Group in collaboration with numerous cleantech clients.
Drawn from dialogue with companies in renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative fuels, energy storage, finance, waste management and water, here are the top 10 clean tech trends to watch in 2012. “2012 is shaping up to be a critical year in the transition to a cleaner, more energy-efficient world.” The list is developed by The Antenna Group, the largest and most experienced clean technology public relations firm in the U.S., providing strategic communications for more than 40 clients in clean technology, renewable energy and sustainability. (more…)
Cleantech venture investment to decline – Kachan expects cleantech venture in 2012 to show its first decline in 2012 after three successive years of growth from the financial crash of 2008. Among the factors the company expects will continue to contribute to the health of the cleantech sector are China managing its economic turbulence, a forecasted rise in oil prices, global corporations’ even stronger role in cleantech, continued solar innovation and persistence of the fundamental drivers of cleantech. But these factors are overridden, the company believes, by other factors it feels will undermine the sector.
“Investors’ own fundraising is getting harder. There’s waning policy support in the developed world. Negative sentiment from the last few quarters hasn’t been reflected in deals, which have a long lead time. Cleantech VCs are, on average, still protecting existing investments over making new ones. And macro-economic turbulence, even collapse, is the elephant in the room,” said Dallas Kachan, Managing Partner, Kachan & Co. “Negative clean and green rhetoric in America, which is still smarting from the Solyndra bankruptcy, could foster a self-fulfilling prophesy in 2012.”
Venture dip made up for by rise in corporate involvement – The world’s largest corporations woke up to opportunities in cleantech in 2011, making for record levels of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), corporate venturing and strategic investments. Kachan & Co. predicts even more cash-laden companies to continue to buy their way into clean technology in 2012, supplementing the role of traditional private equity and showing a maturation of the cleantech sector.
Storage investment to retreat – Significant capital has gone into energy storage in recent quarters. In the third quarter of 2011, the last quarter for which numbers are currently available, storage received $514 million in 19 venture deals worldwide, more than any other cleantech category. Kachan does not expect storage to remain a leading cleantech investment theme in 2012, however.
An analysis of the numbers shows the 3Q11 storage figure artificially inflated by large investments into stationary fuel cell makers Bloom Energy ($150 million) and ClearEdge Power ($75 million.) Kachan does not expect many similar-sized investments into the 60 or so competing companies in that market.
Grid level renewable power storage, also a popular investment theme, was cited by Kachan as a technology with potentially a limited market window.
“Smoothing the intermittency of renewable solar and wind could be less important if utilities embrace other ways to generate clean baseload power in the future, such as new, safer nuclear options emerging that don’t create nuclear waste, power derived from renewable natural gas, geothermal, marine or other methods,” said Kachan. “All of these promise to be less expensive when the cost of storage systems required to make solar and wind dispatchable is factored in.”
Marine energy to begin coming of age – 2012 will not be the year wave, tidal and ocean thermal energy conversion-based power becomes cost-competitive with coal, or even nearly. But expect to hear more about marine power in 2012, Kachan & Co. predicts, and expect to see increased private and corporate funding. The firm points to increased numbers of marine power trials around the world and recent strategic investments by large companies like Siemens.
Increased water and agricultural sector activity – Kachan & Co. predicts increased venture investment, M&A and public exits in water and agriculture in 2012. Industrial wastewater is driving growth in today’s water investment, with two of the top three VC deals of the last quarter focused on solutions for produced water from the oil and gas industry, and the largest M&A deal also focused on solutions for oil and gas.
“Expect to hear more about agricultural investment opportunities in 2012 because of growing awareness of the complex interrelationship between water, energy and food, increased awareness of the planet’s population growth rate and how it’s going to impact our ability to feed the world, and our reliance on inexpensive oil and gas, petroleum-based fertilizers and hybrid seeds for today’s crop yields,” said Kachan.
About Kachan & Co.
Kachan & Co. is a cleantech research and advisory firm with offices in San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver. The company publishes research on clean technology companies and future trends, offers consulting services to large corporations, governments and cleantech vendors, and connects cleantech companies with investors through its Hello Cleantech™ and Northern Cleantech Showcase™ programs. Kachan staff have been covering, publishing about and helping propel clean technology since 2006.
For more information, or to schedule an interview with Kachan, contact:
Coralie Claffey, Kachan & Co.
+1-415-390-2080 x6 office
There are 20,000 jobs in Wind according to reports by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) as of 2010. These are people employed directly and indirectly in wind turbine manufacturing. Compare this to 2,500 in 2004, i.e. an eight-fold increase. There are additionally 55,000 U.S. workers employed in other parts of the wind industry such as construction and services.
The size of the U.S. wind turbine market has grown from approximately $2.7 billion in 2005 to $12.5 billion in 2009 (463%). And 2010 demonstrated unprecedented growth with the installation of nearly 3,000 new wind turbines, almost half of the number as installed in the 5 preceding years. By the end of last year the U.S. had over 35,600 wind turbines installed domestically.
Capacity in the U.S. has been expanded via U.S. and foreign companies who assemble and produce wind turbines and components. There were almost 400 U.S. manufacturing facilities produced wind turbines and components in 2010, up from as few as 30 in 2004. The turbine manufacturers’ supply chains are global, but the U.S. has garnered an estimated 50-60% share of parts manufactured due to recent investments; that share was only 25% in 2005. In 1984, there were only 300 MW of installed wind projects around the world. But by the end of this year, there will be over 240,000 MW.
Cost of Wind
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analyzed the cost curve for wind projects since the mid-1980s and found that the cost of wind-generated electricity has decreased by 14% with each doubling of installation capacity. It is estimated that the average cost will come down another 12% by 2016. Costs have been reduced by improved manufacturing, better quality materials, larger turbines, and greater plant operation and maintenance experience. Additionally, there is an oversupply of turbines on the global market according to BNEF. When you add all these in to the mix, further downward cost pressure could bring parity between wind and conventional energy sources.
Like most energy technologies, wind energy, is subsidized through government incentives. One of the main federal policy tools to encourage renewable energy investment and production is a tax credit, known as the production tax credit (PTC). Wind, solar, geothermal, and “closed-loop” bioenergy companies are eligible for a Production Tax Credit. The PTC provides a 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour (kWh) benefit for the first ten years of a renewable energy facility’s operation.
According to the Environmental Law Institute, from 2002 to 2008, the U.S. Government subsidies for fossil fuels were $70.2 billion ($53.9b in tax breaks and $16.3b in direct spending). That adds up to 63% of the subsidies for Fossil Fuels, Corn Ethanol, Renewable Energy, and Carbon Capture & Storage combined. Renewable Energy benefited from only 12% of these subsidies.
Both wind production and U.S. equipment manufacturing have been encouraged by a variety of federal laws and policies. Some of these policies are subject to change at the end of 2011, and others, such as the PTC, are scheduled to expire in 2012. The PTC for incremental hydro, wave and tidal energy, geothermal, MSW, and bioenergy was extended until the end of 2013.
The U.S. wind turbine manufacturing future is largely dependent upon federal and state policies. Short term extensions of the PTC are insufficient for sustaining the long-term growth of renewable energy. The best way to quickly drive investment in wind, foster innovation in technology and therefore in cost reductions, is to have consistent, supportive, and long-term policy.
BNEF reports that the best wind farms in the world are already competitive with coal, gas and nuclear plants. They predict that continued performance improvements and cost reductions over the next half decade should level the average onshore wind plant costs with cheap natural gas, and in the best locations with other fossil fuels.
BNEF highlights the importance of a deployment-based strategy in scaling renewable energy. It is normal that new energy technology may take decades to be brought into cost-parity with incumbents.
Justin Wu of BNEF says that: “In the next few years the mainstream world is going to wake up to wind cheaper than gas, and rooftop solar power cheaper than daytime electricity. Add in the same sort of deep long-term price drops for power storage, demand management, LED lighting and so on – and we are clearly talking about a whole new game.”
On all fronts, solar is heating up.
Polemic in congress and by detractors, job & export creation by US firms, and public support.
The bankruptcy of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, and ensuing reports of fat bonuses and misconduct, are fueling the detractors and absorbing the media and congress. But let’s not get so focused on the Solyndra tree that we can see the Solar Promise forest. China is investing billions into their clean tech companies, and they certainly have factored in that some will fail.
The China Development Bank has put $30 billion in credit into solar companies in 2010. The CDB has announced financial commitments of at least $15 billion to aid companies in the nascent wind industry; and China plans on investing around $45 billion in smart-grid over the next five years. Solyndras’ potential loss of $528 million is 1.7% of the solar commitment by the CDB; and 0.5867% of the solar-wid-smart grid investments above. There’s a big forest out there.
Job & Export Creation
The Solar Foundation’s recent “National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce” report found that more than 100,000 Americans are now employed in the solar industry. The solar industry’s job growth rate is 6.8%, which is much higher than the 2% net job loss in fossil fuel power generation and the general economy’s anemic job growth. And manufacturing jobs in solar grew almost 25 %, while solar sales and distribution jobs had the strongest growth and next year is anticipated to grow 35%.
California is the national leader in solar employment accounting for ¼ of the US solar jobs. The top 10 solar employment states are Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Colorado, Arizona, Florida, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The Census found that solar employers anticipate increasing jobs by 24% by August 2012; and over the next year, almost half of solar firms expect to add jobs. The US Solar Industry exported a net $1.9B in 2010, according to GTM Research and SEIA.
9 out of 10 Americans Support Solar according to the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer, conducted annually by independent polling firm Kelton Research. Key findings of the survey include:
• 89% of Americans think it is important to develop and use solar power
The Redfish monthly newsletter features original articles from executive recruiters and guest bloggers, and covers topics such as:
- Staffing & Employment News
- High Tech Job/Industry Trends
- Green Job/Industry Trends
- Career Tips for Passive & Active Job Seekers
- Employer & Human Resources Best Practices
Competing for Talent, Immigrants Have Historically been Innovators, Job Creators.
A recent Wall Street journal article entitled: “A Better Idea for Green Jobs” should serve as a good reminder of our long history of immigrants creating innovation, building new companies, and starting tens of thousands of new jobs in the process.
The article reports that according to a Kauffman Foundation study, 25% of science and technology start-ups founded between 1995 and 2005 had either a foreign-born chief executive or lead technologist. Vivek Wadhwa, a Duke University researcher, reported that in 2005 those firms produced $52 billion in revenue with 450,000 employees. The majority (52%0 of Silicon Valley start-ups were immigrant led. (more…)
Green Energy and the Risks and Opportunities of Plenty
Will the demise of Solyndra and pressure on green energy initiatives stall out our domestic investment? Competitors are massively investing in green energy R&D, aiming at growing technological innovation and taking leadership positions in new green industries. Will the newly exploitable domestic energy that fracking has let lose at home be a risk or a boon to green energy investment in the US? (more…)
Life in the solar energy business is a constant battle between soaring aspirations for long term growth juxtaposed against the terrifying reality of falling prices and global competition. Selling more might actually mean your solar energy business will just lose more money faster. (more…)
The Future of Energy Efficiency and Demand Response is Embedded Technology
by Gary L Hunt
Gary L Hunt
Congress recently debated whether to overturn the rule banning the incandescent light bulb. The bill did not get the 2/3 vote needed to advanced. Environmental advocates cheered this ‘enlightened action’ but failed to mention that more than a majority of members voted for the bill.
Does that mean the majority are rejecting energy efficiency?
The push for energy efficiency has been around at least since Jimmy Carter was president and there are true believers. It’s not that energy efficiency isn’t important—it is! It’s not that we don’t have opportunities to be more efficiency—we do! In the United States residences consume about 20% of all energy used and a lot of it is wasted.
Energy Efficiency savings are not worth that hassle for most customers.
Energy Efficiency programs are intrusive and want to change our lifestyles.
While most utilities are required by regulators to be energy efficiency cheerleaders, they get paid when we use energy not when we save it. A few states, like California, have ‘decoupled rates’ shifting the rate of return utilities earn away from commodity energy sales and more toward achieving performance targets. This helps better align the interests of utilities and customers but it isn’t sufficient to get the energy efficiency potential available.
California is again a case in point. The big three California investor owned utilities recently filed their smart grid deployment performance reports with the California Public Utilities Commission. The reports suggest that utilities are mostly focused on demand response and have begun implementing peak day pricing to encourage customers to respond to high energy use periods. But energy efficiency and especially encouraging home area networks and other strategies to put all that smart meter technology to work to enable “self help” has been a big bust. Perhaps that explains why Google abandoned PowerMeter and Microsoft scrapped HOLM for lack of customer interest.
CA Art Rosenfield Effect of EE Rules on Energy intensity
Back when Jerry Brown was Governor the first time in the 1970’s California adopted its first energy efficiency code. Today the result of that great experiment in energy efficiency is that California’s energy intensity is fully one-half the national average. Because of the size of the California market, appliance makers built better products just like automakers reduced emissions and the benefits spread beyond California’s borders.
The California Energy Efficiency Code worked well for several decades until the disruptive technology of flat screen HD TV’s arrived on the scene. In a span of as little as five years, the rapid growth in the market penetration for HDTVs overwhelmed the energy efficiency savings to date. Those HDTVs used a lot more energy and they ate up the efficiency savings from all the laundry and kitchen appliance improvements for the last twenty years! Poof! Gone in the flash of a gazillion megapixels. So California amended its energy efficiency code to apply to HDTVs and the balance is being restored as new energy efficient HDTVs replace the first generation ones. We’ll buy them too because they are bigger, brighter, and cheaper—and we want them!
So what’s the lesson?
1. Embed Energy Efficiency Technology. If we want energy efficiency—and we do, we need to embed it in the technology we expect to use and make it part of the products we buy not something we must think about, decide up or do separately from living our lives.
2. Make it EASY! So why don’t we make use of home area networks? We know the answer– because it is not yet fast, easy, cheap or convenient. We don’t want more gadgets, we want better apps on the gadgets we already have and use. This is the lesson we learned when less than 20% of us bothered to learn how to program our old VCRs, or set our programmable thermostats, and why Microsoft finally set up Windows automatic updates—because doing this stuff is a big hassle.
3. Give Me Control and Don’t Try to change my Lifestyle. Most start-ups in this space are focused on building software, gadgets, dashboards and devices. Most will likely reach the same conclusion as Google’s PowerMeter and MSFT HOLM not because these are not good products, but because we don’t want them. We want simplified integrated solutions that give us control over our lifestyles. We don’t want big brother (utilities, government or big companies) tracking us, measuring us, alerting us or shaming us into saving energy. We don’t want more gadgets or devices. We don’t want our personal information stored in some ‘hackable’ cloud server. What is missing is that fine balance between embedded technology that helps me optimize my use based upon decisions I make that gives ME control over my lifestyle and the ability to change my mind.
Who’s on First Customers or Utilities?
Many of the start-ups and vendors in the energy efficiency and demand response space are focused on utilities not end-use customers. The energy and utility markets are still too fragmented to afford the scale needed for retail customer aggregation at this stage. Vendors see utilities as their customers buying EE and DR deliverables vendors get from aggregating commercial and industrial customers. So far this has worked OK for vendors focused like EnerNOC, Comverge and CPower, but theirs is a transitional game and continued growth means they must constantly expand into new markets.
The utilities are procrastinating until standards are adopted like the proposed Smart Energy Profile 2.0 HAN national standard, but that might take another five years. California’s big three investor owned utilities say they have pilot programs but the number of devices in active use is small. The risk for utilities is they are wasting their lead time while they still control the gateway to customers when they could be offering fast, easy, embedded technology solutions that would improve customer engagement, overcome angst about smart meter deployment changes in rates, and set the stage for a more distributed energy future for themselves and their customers. This will likely prove as big mistake.
The door is opening for more disruptive technology change ahead as smart meter saturation gives way to more and better ways to use the meter data insight to create new products and ‘wise up’ old ones. I predict a race ahead between the utility-centric vendors and the customer-centered vendors.
Utilities will wake up to the need to catch up after having wasted this lead-time and will scramble to offer their customers better solutions that enable use of smart meter data, energy efficiency and demand response services, and distributed generation options. Few are likely to succeed because they are not working NOW to engage customers, and organize them into a loyal social network that sees the utility has “on their side” in understanding and making effective use of smart grid enabled disruptive technologies.
Advantage will likely belong to new vendors who use social networking and customer aggregation to create the scale needed to make new disruptive technology driven solutions scalable and profitable. This is a marketing play not a device sale play. It is a segmentation play not a one size fits all solution. It is who do you trust not what do you have to sell me. For smart grid to succeed requires scale and the ability to cross artificial market boundaries. The consolidation process is already underway in each stage of the energy value chain.
Bigger players are emerging offering end to end solutions. New entrants using new applications of disruptive technology will surprise us as customers and will swamp the boat of procrastinating utilities and complacent gadget makers. All you have to do is imagine the disruptive technology power of an “Energy Groupon’ working with vendors to seduce us into playing the energy efficiency and demand response game for fun and profit. What profit? The kind utilities never offer us—winner of the biggest saver in the neighborhood award. A chance to enter the Hawaii vacation sweepstakes from among the neighborhood winners in my town. The competition between schools for a big prize for the most energy savings by households of students.
Help us win and we will help you save energy. Let me track my progress on my Comcast home energy channel or change my settings on my iPhone app.
Make it competitive and fun to save energy. Show me the competitive scores on EE by neighborhoods in my neighborhoods score compared to its savings potential for the current quarter’s Sweepstakes.
Empower me to save energy with embedded technology. That embedded technology turned HDTV from scoundrels into energy efficiency champions while giving me bigger screen, brighter picture AND energy savings in one generation of technology, but it took the amendment to energy efficiency code to achieve it. If other states did nothing more than adopt the California Energy Efficiency Code or the new national standards based code, we could dramatically improve energy efficiency and intensity.
Creating the consumer demand for better products using less energy from disruptive new technologies that also lower costs—that is the big pay-off for all of us.
Gary L. Hunt has been a trusted advisor on energy and technology issues for more than thirty years. He served as CEO of a wholesale power producer in New England, ran utility systems in Austin, Texas and Oakland, California, and, for the past ten years, been a strategic consultant focused on energy markets, fundamentals, prices and risk. The views expressed here are his personal observations and insight and do not necessarily represent those of his employer, clients, colleagues or wife.
You can read his blog Insight Advisor at: http://insightadvisor.wordpress.com/
How can the Clean Economy be fostered and what is the potential?
In the midst of the ideological divergence and posturing in Washington, it is refreshing to see some clear numbers that point to positive impactful investment and jobs in the green economy. The Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute recently published their report “Sizing the Clean Economy” which ask and answers “The question before us: at a time of economic uncertainty and federal polarization, can America’s cities and metropolitan areas lead the nation to a clean economy—to create jobs in the near term and retool and restructure our economy for the long haul?”
This report discussed three important findings. First, the clean economy is a significant emerging market in the U.S. Second, metropolitan areas are the innovators of the clean economy. Third, to fulfill the potential of the emerging clean economy, the entrepreneurial energy and dynamism of these metropolitan engines must be liberated. (more…)
Ultra High Voltage (UHV) Transmission Could be Our Renewable Energy Interstate
By John Whitney AIA
The renewable energy transformation of the United States is confronted with two serious challenges: Addressing intermittency in power generation and transmitting low cost renewable power from renewable resource rich regions to the rest of the country. In just the past three years, China has taken the lead in development of ultra high voltage (UHV) transmission lines to address both of these issues. China’s elegant, simple, and cost-effective solution to these challenges is now being implemented in Brazil and India, but in the U.S. depressingly little activity on this front can be observed.
While viable renewable energy resources are available throughout the United States, certain regions are blessed with truly remarkable renewable assets: Solar power in the insolation intense Southwest, on-shore wind generation in the windy Great Plains, hydropower in the Northwest and Northeast, and deep enhanced geothermal in the West. With constantly improving technology and steadily dropping costs, renewable energy power generation is now cost effective in many regions of the U.S. However, apologists for the conventional power generation industry continue to argue that without aggressive incentivization and subsidies, power from renewable generation sources is just too costly for most of the country. (more…)
“As the clean energy industry emerges from a challenging period caused by the global economic downturn, it is entering a stage of rapid change in which business models are being transformed against a backdrop of regulatory uncertainty. In several key sectors, the market is shifting back toward business structures and technologies that were once abandoned, but are now being revived.
Evidence of these changes can be seen with utilities becoming more involved again with power generation deployments, which runs counter to deregulation trends originating in the 1970s, with the most radical shift occurring within the solar sector. When it comes to technology, the growing popularity of direct current (DC) at both the micro-distribution and high-voltage transmission levels of service is an unexpected development for many in the industry, and would make Thomas Edison proud. Another overarching theme in the clean energy market is the increasing diversity of scale and resources being deployed within the renewable sector, a sign, no doubt, of the growing maturity of this market segment.”
Energy Pricing and Costs, and Policy for America’s Future
This month, the Hamilton Project released a new study called “A Strategy for America’s Energy Future: Illuminating Energy’s Full Costs”. This study starts from the precept that energy consumption is critical to economic growth and our quality of life, but that we have some unintended and unaddressed negative consequences, and that the goal of our energy and climate policy must be to improve Americans’ well-being. Our energy choices do not currently address the social costs such as shorter lives, higher health care expenses, a changing climate, and weakened national security. While these costs are not captured in the retail price, we certainly are paying for them, and dearly.
The report offers compelling data and ideas. For example, it is estimated that a kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity costs about 3.2¢ to produce at an existing coal plant. However the true cost per kWh is 5.6¢ to our well-being, a true cost of over 170% more than the amount on our utility bill.
The Hamilton Project’s paper offers four principles for reforming America’s energy policies which are: pricing the full costs of energy, fostering of energy innovation, environmental regulations, addressing climate change globally.
The report concludes that current U.S. energy policies perpetuate energy choices based simply on the immediately visible costs that appear on utility bills and at the gas pump. So long as this continues, we will rely on energy sources that shorten our lives, increase our need for healthcare, contribute to climate change, and weaken our national security.
The solutions offered include pricing the full cost of carbon and other pollutants, making greater investment in research and development, implementing efficient regulation, and addressing climate change globally, in such a manner as to maximize the benefits of our energy-driven economy.
In addition to this strategy paper, there are three new policy proposals released by the Hamilton Project on improving energy consumption and environmental quality regulations, creating a new clean energy standard and improving the federal government’s efforts to deploy new energy technologies.
Redfish Technology is a strong proponent of initiatives to strengthen the green and alternative energy industries in the United States. We work with leading cleantech companies to recruit top talent and grow this sector. Here are some further links.
Does Concentrated Solar Power Have the Answer to Intermittency Concerns?
by John Whitney AIA
For some time now, the intermittent nature of both solar and wind renewable energy generation systems has been a thorn in the side of the clean energy industry. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear advocates have trumpeted the fact that generation capacity factors for their power plants range from 85% to 90% while solar and wind numbers are in the 20% to 35% range. Over and over we get hammered with the question: What happens when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing?
Well, as renewable energy supporters have been correctly responding, the simple two-part reply is: (more…)
The epic tragedy unfolding in Japan is heating up the debate on nuclear power. What will this mean for the future of nuclear worldwide and in the US? There are significant risks, costs, and benefits.
Does 1 in 74,176 sound like good odds? I’m really not sure.
Bill Dedman, of msnbc.com, writes that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has calculated the odds of an earthquake causing catastrophic failure to a nuclear plant and at the typical nuclear reactor in the U.S., “there’s a 1 in 74,176 chance that the core could be damaged by an earthquake, exposing the public to radiation. That’s 10 times more likely than you winning $10,000 by buying a ticket in the Powerball multistate lottery, where the chance is 1 in 723,145.”
What does nuclear power cost? Does $100+ per MWh cover the costs? (more…)
Unconventional include Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), and FlexFuel Vehicles. HEVs have entered the mainstream over the last decade; the PHEVs will offer longer drive range as the offer the ability to plug in to recharge. BEVs plug into the electric grid and do not require any petroleum and rely on improving battery technology for cost and range improvements. E85 is a flex fuel mixture of 85% ethanol fuel; flex fuels have benefits such as local production of fuel in agricultural areas and potentially reduced pollution however large-scale production may be cost prohibitive and run into issues with agricultural subsidies.
Unconventional vehicles are predicted to experience rapid sales growth. Whereas conventional gasoline vehicles made up 84.83% of the market in 2009, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that by 2035 they are forecast to make up 58.40%. The largest growth is predicted to be in E85 flex fuel vehicles at 19.88% of the market, followed by various electric hybrid electric and plug-in electric vehicles at over 16%, and diesel vehicles at 5.43%.
The plug-in market (combined BEVs and PHEVs) is poised for the fastest growth. Pike Research forecasts the sale of 1,081,294 plug-ins in 2015 worldwide, with North American consumption at approximately 300,000. The main plug-in markets are thought to be the New York metropolitan area and the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The “traditional” hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) market is also forecast to grow extensively, at a rate of 12.7% between 2010 and 2015 as compared to the overall light-duty vehicle market growth rate prediction of 4.8%. A study by UK-based Trend Tracker Ltd., ‘Electric Vehicles: Energy, Infrastructure and the Mobility Market in the Real World’, indicates that the potential global market for battery-powered electric vehicles could achieve 30 million sales by 2050.
The greatest challenges to growing the number of EVs include: the time to market for powertrain technologies (forecast at 20 years); inertia in the automotive market due to the long life of vehicles, battery costs and energy densities; the attractive pricing of conventional vehicles; and the automotive industry’s entrenched position in conventional vehicles. The Trend Tracker report concludes that to “electrify” the car market by 2050, we’d need to increase sales of electric vehicles by 2 million cars per year over the next 23 years.
The US is working on incentives such as three proposed initiatives aiming at putting one million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015. The first initiative would change the PEV tax credit, making a $7500 rebate available to the consumer at the time of sale. Additionally, two initiatives are proposed to advance investment in R&D of electric drive, batteries and energy storage technologies, and to provide grants incentivizing communities to invest in EV infrastructure. Will it get through the budget process?
So a million-plus plug-in vehicles in 2015 or 30 million BEVs by 2050 worldwide? Which is more likely? What do you think it will take to “electrify” the U.S. light-duty vehicle market?
Transitioning High Tech to Green Tech – PowerPoint Presentation from the Green Jobs Fair
The Green Jobs & Entrepreneurship Fair, held on February 16th, 2011 in Berkeley, CA, was an opportunity for talent and cleantech companies to meet. This PowerPoint presentation on Transitioning from High Tech to Green Tech was given by Rob Reeves, Redfish Technology CEO & executive recruiter, during a panel discussion on Breaking Into Green.
Panel discussion to be held at the Green Jobs & Entrepreneurship Fair, February 16 Berkeley CA
The greatest challenge in recruiting for green technology professionals at this time is the small pool of candidates with direct experience, relative to other sectors. From start-ups to established large firms, companies are setting the bar higher during the last few years. This is because they can and they should. The downturn has made available many more qualified (and less qualified) candidates for all roles. Companies are on tighter budgets and funding is not as easy to come by even as VC funding returns to healthier levels, so every penny counts and every opportunity should be fully exploited; all that to say, companies are looking to hire the best talent they can afford. (more…)