Cape Wind is New Source of U.S. Renewable Energy

By John Addison (4/29/10)

The United States now has a new source of clean electricity for homes, buildings, and industrial stationary power and also for the growing use of electricity in rail and electric cars. Wind power is especially available at night when we hope to eventually charge millions of vehicles.

Global wind energy capacity is increasing by 160% over the coming five years from 155 GW to 409 GW, according to the annual industry forecast presented by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). A growing part of the renewable energy (RE) mix is off-shore wind, popular in Europe for 20 years, but stopped in the U.S. by not-in-my-backyard opposition, or more accurately “not in the view of my expensive ocean front property.”

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar showed political courage on April 28 by approving the Cape Wind renewable energy project on federal submerged lands in Nantucket Sound. He will require the developer of the $1 billion wind farm to agree to additional binding measures to minimize the potential adverse impacts of construction and operation of the facility. Salazar said,” With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”

The project is a big win for Siemens who will supply 130 3.6 MW towers, outbidding GE, Vestas, and other competitors. Siemens has already sold over 1,000 of these large off-shore turbines. The Cape Wind facility will generate a maximum electric output of 468 megawatts with an average anticipated output of 182 megawatts. At average expected production, Cape Wind could produce enough energy to power more than 200,000 homes in Massachusetts, or charge 200,000 electric cars.

One-fifth of the offshore wind energy potential of the East Coast is located off the New England coast and Nantucket Sound receives strong, steady Atlantic winds year round. The project includes a 66.5-mile buried submarine transmission cable system, an electric service platform and two 115-kilovolt lines connecting to the mainland power grid. The project would create several hundred construction jobs and be one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in the nation, cutting carbon dioxide emissions from conventional power plants by 700,000 tons annually.

Over one GW of off-shore wind is proposed for other Eastern coastal states, eager to catch-up with the renewable energy use of Western and Central states. For example, due to California’s abundance of wind, solar, and geothermal power, my California utility does not use coal.
To overcome years of opposition, the number of turbines at Cape Wind has been reduced from 170 to 130, minimizing the visibility of turbines from the Kennedy Compound National Historic Landmark; reconfiguring the array to move it farther away from Nantucket Island; and reducing its breadth to mitigate visibility from the Nantucket Historic District. Translation is that from shore it will take Superman vision to notice the wind turbines 5.2 miles from the mainland shoreline, 13.8 miles from Nantucket Island and 9 miles from Martha’s Vineyard.

A number of tall structures, including broadcast towers, cellular base station towers, local public safety communications towers and towers for industrial and business uses are already located around the area. Three submarine transmission cable systems already traverse the seabed to connect mainland energy sources to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island.

“After almost a decade of exhaustive study and analyses, I believe that this undertaking can be developed responsibly and with consideration to the historic and cultural resources in the project area,” Salazar said. “Impacts to the historic properties can and will be minimized and mitigated and we will ensure that cultural resources will not be harmed or destroyed during the construction, maintenance, and decommissioning of the project.”
Renewable Energy Reports and Articles

By John Addison, Publisher of the Clean Fleet Report and conference speaker.

Climate Leadership Cuts Across Generations


A couple weeks ago, I took the liberty on this blog to write a open letter in support of my good friend, Christiana Figueres to be the next Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.

While that selection process is ongoing for another couple weeks it appears, it’s been inspiring in its own right to see the grass roots Facebook upwelling for this truly remarkable woman. When everybody from market profiteers to left of left civil society to diplomats and bureaucrats trying to do implausible jobs in impossible situations are all consistently singing your praises, it has to mean something.

In any event, I was recently passed along a note from one of the creators of that testimonial FB page. I’m taking some liberties and copying it below because its quite inspiring in its own right. Eugene, I look forward to our paths crossing at some point soon – you have a great head on your shoulders.


Eugene Jinyoung Nho

I’m a college student who, like many others, has long felt passionate about tackling the climate change problem. To that end, I have been learning about climate change policy at school and involved myself in various sustainability initiatives. Last December at COP15, however, amid much frustration, I realized that as much as my small contribution might be valuable in the long run, what we needed the most at this moment to have a realistic shot at solving the climate crisis was a strong and effective leadership in the UNFCCC that could bring nations together.

I chose to start the campaign to reach out to youth and civil society in support of Chirstiana because I have been truly inspired by her. There is no question about her incredible professional achievement and qualifications, but what really inspired me was the genuine care she showed for youth and civil society. I met Christiana as a youth delegate at COP15. In the midst of the craziness of the COP second week, she still spent an hour with students to help us understand the issues and hear our thoughts. She is the kind of person who replies to a random student’s email asking about the Clean Development Mechanism with loads of helpful information and guidance faster than the student himself. It was after talking with my friends who received help from her similarly that I realized my case was not an isolated incident. How far she went to help each of us was incredible, and I believe it shows her dedication to youth development and her belief in the significance of a sound civil society.

The Facebook group in support of Christiana has attracted almost 2,500 members within a month since its start in mid March. Hundreds of people have left messages of support, encouragement and endorsement on the page. As the creator of the page, it was extraordinary to watch the group grow—reaching out to people from all walks of life from all corners of the world. Students from the U.S. and Latin America joined the group at first, but since then, students, youth activists and civil society members from all around the world have joined in.

One particular quote I found inspiring was from a student at Norwalk Community College. He said, “Christiana’s inspiring talk to over 400 students energized and mobilized our campus in a way that had seemed impossible before… At every step of their struggle to make the building green, Christiana was there offering astute advice and support.” This is exactly how my friends and I felt about her enduring help and support in our research endeavors. It takes true passion and dedication in the cause of fighting climate change to help people you barely know on a daily basis, and that is why I find Christiana simply inspiring.

The most incredible aspect has been the way this movement reached out to people around the world like a wild fire. People say the best innovations don’t need any additional effort to make them work because those innovations have a way of getting work done themselves. The youth/civil society movement to support Christiana happened in a similar way. The way it spread through different social networks and across different continents—with little effort from the center—has been truly remarkable, and I believe it is the testimony to the respect and hope people have for Christiana.

Last week, I had a chance to speak with Dr. Nafis Sadik, whose work in organizing Cairo Conference in 1994 marked a milestone in the empowerment of women and championing of family planning. I was curious how she was able to bring nations together to support this cause despite the existence of strong conservative lobbying forces, and she replied in one word “civil society.” Having civil society present in negotiations and recognizing their role in the process, she said, kept negotiations on track and moving forward. Having witnessed the frustration at COP15 in person, I sincerely hope to see the UNFCCC that recognizes the important role of civil society, and hope that the civil society’s support for Christiana is heard at the highest ranks within the UN.

If you would like to take a look at the Christiana Figueres Facebook group, please visit and join

Eugene Jinyoung Nho

Stanford University, Class of 2010 (senior), major in Economics, minor
in Environmental Engineering. Study focus on climate change and energy
policy.

Co-founder & Co-executive director of IDEAS, an environmental
non-profit working with college students in the developing world to
tackle environmental/sustainability problems in their communities.

Born and raised in Korea.

Robert Bryce’s 5 Myths shows Ignorance

First Sarah Palin, now Robert Bryce taking pot shots around things they barely understand: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/23/AR2010042302220.html


1) Solar and Wind take up too much land: If you just focus on rooftop solar and buffer land at airports, brownfields, wastewater treatment facilities, and military bases you could power the US almost 2 times over with just solar power. Wind turbines on the top of light posts are being tested by Wal-mart and that market alone could power 10% of the country. Everyone wants to extrapolate from today’s large scale projects instead of using their brain — Bryce is no different: http://www.ef.org/documents/EF-Final-Final2.pdf


2) Going green will reduce our dependence on imports from unsavory regimes: this is true that there are some elements from copper to rare earth metals that we will have to import. But the dirty secret Robert won’t tell you is that business as usual also uses rare earth metals so we are not worse off than we would be otherwise. http://seekingalpha.com/article/103972-rare-earth-metals-not-so-rare-but-valuable
Plus we save gargantuan amounts of water, over 1 gallon per kWh of fossil fuels offset.

3) A green American economy will create green American jobs: In this case, Robert goes off the deep end again. First, he shows that he doesn’t actually understand how jobs are created in our country. What the green economy does is create mostly short-term service jobs (some manufacturing). But more importantly, it takes money away from inefficient job creators like utility companies and shifts that money to the general marketplace where it can be used to buy new iphones, kitchen remodeling, or new cars for that matter. It doesn’t matter. The point is that we need to take money away from low growth industries like utilities and shift that money to the innovative parts of our economy — green technologies do that in electricity, water, natural gas, etc.

4) Electric cars will substantially reduce demand for oil: His argument here is that he just doesn’t think that anyone will buy electric cars. So you are a downer, I get that but make a real argument. Not just that you don’t believe in global innovation — from the Manhattan Institute of all places. BTW, it may not be electric cars, it might be electric bicycles and mopeds. It will certainly take 20 years to replace existing vehicles, but Robert wants instant gratification. This is infrastructure, 20 years is a short period of time.

5) The United States lags behind other rich countries in going green: Here is the one place I agree with you. America doesn’t get credit for what it has accomplished and the extraordinary growth trajectory it is on in these areas. Maybe I like Robert afterall 🙂

For the record, I don’t know Robert and he is I am sure a brilliant senior fellow, but I needed a foil. Happy Earth Day!

Jigar Shah
CEO
Carbon War Room
www.carbonwarroom.com/ccw


What’s the state of climate change policy these days?

To those you who missed it, below is the link to a web panel on the state of climate change policies and developments that I participated in for Brightalk today.

The panelists:

– Emilie Mazzacurati, Manager, Carbon Market Research North America, Point Carbon
– Chris Busch, Policy Director, Center for Resource Solutions
– Nicholas Bianco, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute
– Neal Dikeman, Jane Capital Partners

Enjoy and post any thoughts in the comments section back on this blog for the rest of us to read.

http://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/20657

We Remember the Past, We Have Faith in the Future

Every year since we launched Cleantech Blog this week marks a massive inflow of green press releases, phone calls, announcements and interview requests.  It always seems oddly out of place, and anything important we have to say always just seems lost in the press of Earth Day.

In reality this week is a week for remembrance, introspection, and then a pause before looking forward to an always brighter future. 

My remembrance always starts a day earlier.  Yesterday, April 21st was Aggie Muster, the day that thousands of Aggies around the world hold the roll call for the absent, where a family member answers”here” for those former students who have died in the previous year and cannot answer for themselves.  The roots of Muster date back over a hundred years, and we have formally held Muster since 1922 all around the world. 

Softly call the muster, softly call the roll.  We do remember.

And today, the day after is Earth Day, now 40 years old, the day we remember our planet, think about what we should be doing better, and recently, make our New Earth Year’s resolutions for what we will do better.

We will remember, we will do better.

And in both cases, look forward to the next year and a bright future standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before.

Here’s hoping that when we are gone, future generations will hold both their history and their planet dear, will have a reason to mark what we did with our time on Earth with reverence, and will still be working and looking forward to an even brighter, cleaner future for the generations to follow them.

Neal Dikeman is a partner at Jane Capital Partners, Chairman of Carbonflow and Cleantech.org, and a 3rd generation Texas Aggie Class of ’98.

Me and the Cleantech House: Part 1

So, with recent changes in my professional life, my family and I made the decision to relocate to the Bay Area. There were a lot of reasons, but the main one is my general perception that my world (carbon trading) and their world (cleantech and information technology) rarely meet. Indeed, the maestro of this blog, Neal Dikeman, is one of the only folks I’ve met who keeps a foot firmly planted in both camps. And despite the slap yourself in the forehead, Homer Simpson “Doh” sensation that cleantech and carbon should not only converse they should be actually be singing harmonies together, there is utterly no doubt that the two camps ogle each other over the picket fence with a mixture of curiosity and bewilderment. So, to make a long story short, I’m hoping to advance a few pawns a couple squares.

But enough about macro issues. Let’s talk real life. Like buying a house. Given the circumstances that we found ourselves in (having spun the wheel of capitalism and, somewhat to our surprise, won), we were in the privileged position to actually be able to afford Bay Area real estate. And, to be blunt, a fair bit of Bay Area real estate at that. One thing led to another and we made a rapid fire bid on a house that reminded me of a better version of the battered 1890’s New Jersey quasi Tudor my parents plunked $50,000 down for in 1970 and I grew up in. And, lo and behold, we own it. It’s utterly lovely, but certainly planted in the larger end of the US housing spectrum. To borrow Warren Buffet’s reference to the Berkshire Hathaway corporate jet, it’s Indefensible. But you only live once and with Treasuries paying a nice solid 20 basis points, well – you gotta put it somewhere.

Now, considering myself an environmentalist (market variety) I want to make it as green as possible. I knew it needed a lot of work in that direction – though inspections showed the house was actually in very good shape and I could observe niceties like double glazed windows, I also know what I don’t know. The sheer armada of AC units along the back of the garage gave me pause. And after experiencing PG&E’s first billing cycle while still uninhabited, I can honestly say I was a motivated participant in that greening process– tiered energy pricing to $0.45/kwh truly does grab your attention.

Solar is the default greening step in California – it’s ground zero of the million solar roofs initiative and there are piles of federal and state incentives to plop them up there. Unfortunately, a cursory examination showed it was not a particularly viable option – the roof is mainly angled to the Northwest and is comprised of a bunch of steep, fragmented gables and windows. Moreover, it’s real slate tiles and – to be frank – stunningly gorgeous. The idea of slapping down a couple hundred square feet of First Solar’s finest seemed aesthetically criminal. The next idea – a geothermal heat pump – also went by the wayside pretty quickly, when I came to the conclusion that setting up a drilling rig in the Oakland hills for a couple weeks was not the way to endear our family unit to our exceedingly close neighbors.

Which left us with a final intriguing option on the energy production side – a fuel cell. And yes, my eyes got that addictive glint of the early adopter that is usually reserved for talismans that emanate from Steve Jobs skunk works. So I bought one of the suckers – the ClearEdge 5kw version. And future updates of this blog will talk about that – installing it has been a fascinating process and one that deserves some attention.

But at the outset, I’m going to focus on the first – and doubtless more relevant– part of my energy project . Making the house it the most efficient it can be, given its overall inherent footprint. To start off, I brought in a crew of energy efficiency gurus to give it their best once over. 60 man hours on-site, a 70 page report, two CD-ROMs and a whole lot of data later, I know a heck of a lot more about my living quarters. To say it was illuminating to get a holistic view of the space we’ll inhabit the next decade or so is an understatement.

Which brings me to a broader theme I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the last few months– the interface between technology, expertise and execution. And the tendency we tend to have to think that use – or even simply creation – of the former can blithely substitute for the latter. I fall into the trap myself all the time – I buy stuff with features that I never really use because I cannot seem to be bothered to learn how to operate them.

What I’m in the process of doing on my house feels like a microcosm of that balance between technology and capability. Extrapolate that to the multi-trillion dollar global effort to decarbonize the global economy through accelerated deployment of a raft of both new and old technologies and you can see the potential gaps. Or gapes is probably more accurate. Capability doesn’t scale as logarithmically as technology – but it’s an equal part of the overall equation. So, while I truly appreciate the tidal wave of forthcoming cleantech widgets, I worry that without with right kind of execution platforms – on the front end and throughout productive lifespan – we’ll end up with lots of stranded assets that over promise and under deliver.

My idea for these next couple contributions to Cleantechblog over the coming weeks is to try to explore that interface in my real life situation and try to do some hypothesizing on how cleantech delivery is going to work across key markets. It may or may not work, but hope you enjoy it.

Marc Stuart was one of the founders of EcoSecurities, where he worked for 13 years prior to its integration into JP Morgan in early 2010. His new firm, Allotrope Ventures, seeks out early stage private equity opportunities in technology and execution platforms that are positioned to thrive in the transition to the low carbon economy.

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Car Sharing + Ride Sharing = Saves Thousands per Person

Ride sharing has long been a popular way to commute to work; people save money, have some company, and travel faster in high-occupancy lanes. At colleges, universities, and major events, people are using social networks to hook-up and ride together. More recently, sharing cars by the hour has allowed hundreds of thousands to free themselves from the $8,000 per year cost of owning a car.

In the last year, due to trends such as ride share and car share growth, Americans reduced their ownership of 3.5 million cars. Now car sharing and ride sharing are offered together.
Zipcar, the world’s largest car sharing provider announced a partnership with Zimride, the world’s leading social online ride sharing community. The partnership will integrate car sharing and ride sharing services and make it possible for Zipcar 275,000 members to seek, offer and share Zipcar rides with friends and others in or outside of their social network. It also will enable Zimride 300,000 ride sharers to use Zipcar as their vehicle, removing the need to own a car. The joint service is offered to colleges and universities; Stanford University has starting using the program.

“Zipcar is the perfect partner, given that they are operating car sharing programs on over 120 colleges and universities across the country,” said John Zimmer, co-founder and COO of Zimride. “Both companies aim to decrease emissions, reduce vehicle miles traveled and save people money. Sharing a Zipcar and ride sharing with your friends magnifies the benefit all the way around – it’s a 1+1=5 kind of impact.”

Zipcar leverages Web and wireless to make reserving and using a car by the hour easy. I am a member, with Zipcars only two blocks away. Zipcar is the world’s leading car-sharing service with 6,000 vehicles in urban areas and college campuses throughout 26 North American states and provinces as well as in London, England. As a leader in urban transportation, Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models including a few plug-in hybrids.

“The market for our services on campuses across the country is huge. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are nearly 13 million faculty, staff and students on more than 2,500 campuses, many of whom don’t have convenient access to transportation,” said Scott Griffith, CEO of Zipcar. “We chose to partner with Zimride because their innovative and scalable platform is a great foundation for building a national network of rides. Zipcar fills the car ownership gap for the Zimride model, since people most likely to ride share are those that are least likely to own a car.”

Given the parking constraints, socially-oriented populations, and high demand for ad-hoc transportation at universities, Zimride and Zipcar have created a customized version of their application specifically designed to allow students, faculty and staff direct access to the system.
The integrated service will allow Zipcar members to share a ride by automatically posting the date, time and destination of the Zipcar trip to the Zimride campus community. Once posted, Zimride’s route matching algorithm finds and notifies users looking for a ride. Additionally, Zimride members may find a local Zipcar to share at anytime. This is done seamlessly through a customized campus Zimride website or Facebook application.

Zipcar’s low hourly rates already include gas, insurance, parking, maintenance and 24/7 service: sharing that ride with others can lower the cost even more. This practice will also further reduce carbon emissions. Zipcar members already reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 40 percent compared to owning a car. Now, with ride sharing in a Zipcar, VMT’s are reduced even further.

By John Addison, Publisher of the Clean Fleet Report and conference speaker.

Thoughts on a Clean Energy Development Authority

by Richard T. Stuebi

As a class, new energy technologies have proven to be quite difficult to successfully commercialize. Often, they must surmount substantial technical, scientific and engineering risks to get from concept to the market. And, to prove at scale and expand to broad application, very large sums of capital are typically required.

Accordingly, many private sector capital sources — venture capitalists, private equity firms, corporations, and banks — are wary of funding new energy technologies on their own. Put another way, for the clean energy economy to emerge in a major way in the coming decades, the public sector will have to participate in new and significant ways in financing the development and deployment of new energy technologies. Innovative public-private partnerships in the capital arena will be essential. And, given the massive amount of dollars required, these programs will have to be Federal to score any major successes.

For the most part, Federal engagement in the financing of new energy has been historically limited to various subsidies embedded in the tax code, such as the production tax credit for large-scale renewable energy projects or investment tax credits for customer-sited renewable energy or energy efficiency investments.

More recently, stemming from the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Department of Energy has been authorized to provide loan guarantees underlying private sector loans for projects employing new energy technologies.

Although somewhat effective, clearly the Federal programs to complement the private sector in financing new energy technology development and deployment have not had impact anywhere near the magnitude that pretty much everyone but guardians of the status quo desires.

To that end, both the Markey-Waxman bill that passed the House last year and the Bingaman bill being floated in the Senate include the creation of a Clean Energy Development Administration (CEDA), whose purpose would be to provide debt capacity that is otherwise inaccessible to innovative energy technologies.

Ordinarily, I’m not a big fan of new government bureaucracies. Indeed, a CEDA might not be necessary if the pricing signals for clean energy were set in a manner that induced the appropriate level of investment in RD&D. However, without political will to take on energy pricing — i.e., taxes and carbon policies — it’s clear that finance capacity for clean energy is currently inadequate, and that only a player of the heft of the Federal government can make any meaningful dent in improving the situation.

Perhaps Wall Street agrees as well. Two finance industry leaders — Eric Fornell, the Vice Chairman of Investment Banking for J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and Mark Heesen, the President of the National Venture Capital Association — recently wrote a thoughtful article providing both support and words of wisdom in establishing a CEDA.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of NorTech Energy Enterprise, the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

The Impact on Cleantech of the Supreme Court Corporate Election Spending Decision May Not be so Hot

By Sanford J. Selman

In its majority opinion of January 21, 2010 (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), the US Supreme Court overturned decades-old rules prohibiting unlimited spending by corporations and unions on election advertising. This ruling is certain to have a far reaching impact as it gives complete freedom to corporate interests to use their considerable financial strength to influence voter opinions of political candidates and sets the stage for a rightward shift in US public policy.

The potential impact on the US cleantech sector is clear – the prospects for advancement of federal carbon legislation (i.e. cap-and-trade) or any other government-led clean energy initiative (e.g. renewable energy mandates) have just gotten much worse. Most negatively impacted by the passage of such rules would be energy companies and coal-fired utilities whose sheer size dwarfs that of their clean energy counterparts. With billions of dollars invested in existing fixed assets, these enormous enterprises can be expected to take an active role in future elections now that Citizens United has freed their hands to help their favored candidates win election.

But there are many potential losers.

For starters, failure to develop the US clean energy sector results in a loss of US jobs both in the manufacture of this equipment as well as construction and operation of the power plants and related systems. A 2009 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts noted that clean energy jobs in the US grew at an annual rate of 9.1 percent from 1998 to 2007 as compared to 3.7 percent annual growth for all US jobs over the same period. While many countries in Europe and Asia are looking to cleantech to drive jobs growth, comparatively weaker support for cleantech in the US could slow job growth in this historically strong sector.

Second, there is a trade balance issue. A recent front-page New York Times article (January 31, 2010) suggested that the US could trade its dependence on imported Mideast oil for dependence on imported Chinese wind turbines, solar panels and other energy-related hardware. Today, four companies out of each of the five largest wind turbine and solar cell manufacturers in the world are based outside the US. The rapid development of China’s battery and electric vehicle sectors, driven by central government policy, is impressive. Japan and Korea are likewise vying for leadership in battery technology. Citizens United will cause the US to fall further behind in key cleantech sectors where it once held dominance.
Third, consumers lose because we are less likely to have access to the fullest possible range of choices when it comes to purchasing and consuming energy.

And finally, the environment ends up losing since it will be impossible for the US to bring its considerable carbon footprint under control absent strong government leadership.

Implications for cleantech investment, which reached surpassed $5.5 billion globally even in a dismal 2009, are also significant. According to the Cleantech Group, North American venture funds accounted for almost two-thirds of global cleantech investment activity in 2009 – down about 10 percentage points from 2008. And increasingly, this money is finding its way to companies based outside the US. Chinese companies accounted for 72% of global cleantech IPOs in 2009 and Chinese cleantech M&A activity reached an historic high in 2009. Both statistics demonstrate the intense growth of the Chinese cleantech sector.

Cleantech investors’ US strategy will, by default, be forced to focus on sectors where economics are the primary driver and government support mechanisms are relatively less important. These sectors include energy efficiency and green building technologies, smart grid and distribution automation, water conservation and treatment, resource-efficient manufacturing and material technologies, and recycling and waste reduction.
Due to the “separation of powers” mandated by the US Constitution, there is no easy way to undo Citizens United although Democrats are hard at work drafting legislation to restrain its impact. Notably, President Obama took a swipe at the decision during his recent State of the Union address – a rare event by a sitting President. While the complexion of the US Congress won’t change overnight, Citizens United deals a blow to the US cleantech sector with potentially far reaching implications.
Sandy Selman is a longtime cleantech investor and the Managing Director of Asia West LLC.

36 States now have Utility-Scale Wind Power

(4/12/10)

The U.S. wind energy grew in 2009, despite a severe recession. There are 36 states that have utility-scale wind projects and 14 states are in the “Gigawatt Club” with more than 1,000 MW of installed wind capacity per state. In state rankings, Iowa leads in terms of percentage of electricity from wind power, getting 14% of its power from the wind, and also leads in highest number of jobs in the manufacturing sector. Texas consolidated its lead in wind capacity and in largest wind farms installed, according to the annual wind industry market report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“Jobs, business opportunities, clean air, energy security—wind power is delivering today on all those fronts for Americans,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Our annual report documents an industry hard at work and on the verge of explosive growth if the right policies—including a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) — are put in place. A national RES will provide the long-term certainty that businesses need to invest tens of billions of dollars in new installations and manufacturing facilities which would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs.”

Highlights from AWEA’s new report include:

•The U.S. wind energy industry installed over 10,000 MW of new wind power generating capacity in 2009, the largest year in U.S. history, and enough to power the equivalent of 2.4 million homes or generate as much electricity as three large nuclear power plants.

•In industry rankings, GE Energy remained #1 in U.S. wind turbine sales; NextEra Energy Resources continued to lead in wind farm ownership; and Xcel Energy continued to lead utilities in wind power usage. At the same time, however, more companies are now active in each of these areas, showing that the wind energy market is diversifying as it expands.

•The report’s section on manufacturing shows that in spite of a slowdown in wind turbine manufacturing in 2009 compared to 2008, 10 new manufacturing facilities came online in the U.S. last year, 20 were announced, and nine facilities were expanded. The largest category was wind turbine sub-components, such as bearings, electrical components and hydraulic systems. In all, the U.S. wind energy industry opened, announced or expanded over 100 facilities in the past three years (2007- 2009), bringing the total of wind turbine component manufacturing facilities now operating in the U.S. to over 200.

•All 50 states have jobs in the wind industry.

•Approximately 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry today and hold jobs in areas as varied as turbine component manufacturing, construction and installation of wind turbines, wind turbine operations and maintenance, legal and marketing services, transportation and logistical services, and more.

•To ensure a skilled workforce across the wind energy industry, 205 educational programs now offer a certificate, degree, or coursework related to wind energy. Of these 205 programs, the largest segments are university and college programs (45%) and community colleges or technical school programs (43%).

•Despite the economic downturn, the demand for small wind systems for residential and small business use (rated capacity of 100 kW or less) grew 15% in 2009, adding 20 MW of generating capacity to the nation. Seven small wind turbine manufacturing facilities were opened, announced or expanded in 2009.

•Offshore wind power is gaining momentum in the U.S. The report lists seven projects with significant progress in the planning, permitting, and testing process. Both the federal government and several states established significant milestones in 2009 to encourage offshore wind power development.

•America’s wind power fleet of 35,000 MW will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road.

•America’s wind power fleet will conserve approximately 20 billion gallons of water annually that would otherwise be lost to evaporation from steam of cooling in conventional power plants.

Renewable Energy and Clean Transportation Reports

By John Addison. Publisher of the Clean Fleet Report and conference speaker.

Kansas Power Plant Overbudget

Just saw this article: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/04/08/1866150/kcpl-boosts-cost-for-new-electricity.html


Comparing the cost of the upfront capital in this plant to technologies have have free fuel costs are just inaccurate. Technologies like wind, solar, energy efficiency and others act like Nuclear power did in the 1970s. They have high upfront costs but reduce electric utility rates over time as their capital costs are paid off. This is why old coal and nuclear is cheap and NEW coal, nuclear, and natural gas is so expensive. Further, the 20th century technologies have volatile fuel prices. Natural Gas and coal are cheaper now, but were 2-3 times more expensive in 2008. The challenge here is that the utilities and the public service commission are using bad data to make decisions. I can’t believe they are deliberately cheating rate payers, but they seem to not know any better. The sad thing is that David Springe can do something about it, and is instead just trying to win a bet.

Jigar Shah
Carbon War Room

Rare Earth

by Richard T. Stuebi

Remember the white soul group on the Motown label, Rare Earth? If you do, sorry: this posting isn’t about them….

Nope, it’s about the fact that rare earth metals represent a unique problem — and opportunity — in the cleantech realm.

As PBS reported on “Newshour” a few months ago (transcript here), rare earth materials are important commodities essential to the production of many environmental technologies — from batteries to wind turbines to solar panels. Unfortunately, many of these materials are highly toxic and thus pose significant environmental hazards if mis-managed.

Regrettably, since most of the world’s endowment of these rare earth materials is found in China, the extraction of these materials from the ground is often done with little concern for environmental protection.

In addition, to the extent the world becomes reliant on technologies that depend upon rare earth materials, substantial geopolitical issues emerge as these elements become strategic inputs for economic activity. (In other words, replace “Saudi Arabia” with “China”, and “oil” with “rare earth metals”, and you get the idea.)

So, cleantech innovators would do well to find economical, widely-available, and environmentally-friendly substitutes for rare earth metals — or to re-engineer cleantech widgets so that they don’t require these scarce and nsaty materials. There’s a lot of money to be made, and a lot of headaches to be saved, if we don’t become stuck over the rare earth barrel.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of NorTech Energy Enterprise, the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

Start-Ups, Not Bailouts

This op-ed says it all. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/opinion/04friedman.html

I am not usually a huge Tom Friedman fan (although I like him), mainly because I find that while he is an amazing communicator, I am not usually spurred to action. This time I am. The data here is well known to me because I follow the Kaufmann Foundation, but the bigger question for this group is, “what can we do to get the Obama administration to care?”
The bottom line is that outside of R&D, helping entrepreneurs is tough. It requires focusing on the Presidential Climate Action Project: http://www.climateactionproject.com/ and removing other barriers that are not too sexy but pave the way for risk taking.
I like the climate bill in Washington, but I like removing common sense barriers better. By removing these barriers we can help entrepreneurs take the step to start a Climate Change Solutions business.
Jigar Shah
CEO, Carbon War Room
www.creatingclimatewealth.com

What You Should be Doing if You Really Believe in Cleantech

Believing in cleantech should mean walking the walk.  Believing that technology can change the world, but that consumers have to play their part.  Not just believing that technology will fix everything at the same price or that we can offload our problems to policy makers who can’t stumble out of their own way.  Not slamming oil and power companies for providing us with exactly as much energy as we choose to consume.  The title says it all, how’s your score on the checklist?

Checklist:

If you own a house – get an energy audit. It will tell you to a) buy CFLs, b) blow in more insulation, c) seal your ducts, d) programmable thermostat, e) swap out the older appliances.  If you don’t own one (and in California you’re probably better off it you don’t), still buy the CFLs.  As a side note, I tried to get my wife to let me buy LED lights instead of CFLs.  $60 for 30,000 hour life and 12 watts (equivalent to a 65 watt incandescent).  And very cool looking. CFL was 6,000 hour life for 15 watts same equivalency.  Price $10.  Oh, but the CFL had a 5 year warranty vs. 2 year for the LED.  For some reason after seeing the warranty she didn’t believe the 30,000 hours were real.  That last part may well be a cleantech problem.  So get cracking folks, I am not permitted to buy LEDs until the warranty matches the rated life.

Turn off your lights – my Dad has been telling me this since I was 10.  Amazingly enough, it still works, and it still needs to be said.  And if you are too eye-hand coordination challenged, we’ve just invented these amazing things called motion sensors and timers.  Walmart has them by the dozens. 

Water your lawn anytime but the middle of the day.  Your Dad told you to do this growing up, and you still forget.  And can we say timer and drip system?

Learn to use, in this order – windows, curtains and fans before you use air conditioning.  And when you buy it, buy the most advanced and efficient window, thickest curtain, best fan, AC, heater, appliance whatever gadget is available.  It will be more expensive.  Cleantech usually is.  But it’s the right thing to do.

Buy as little processed foods as possible – everything from your carbon to water to energy footprint will thank you.  As well as your budget.  And your waistline.  Except for cakes and Girl Scout cookies.  You’re forgiven for those.  Box cakes and Thin Mints are still the greatest things ever.

Keep your car another year.  Don’t be fooled.  Going hybrid does NOT equate to doing the right thing (though it does make you feel better, and it is a way cool status symbol).  Driving your car longer does do the right thing.  And next time, just buy one car size smaller.  That combo can cut your transport costs in half AND save the world.  (Of course, if you work in cleantech PR, I might recommend the hybrid anyway.)  My car was built when Netscape went public.  I think I can get 5 more years out of it.  I may be able to get away with only one or at most two more cars in my entire life.  Which is good, because I’m going to need the savings to pay for rising health insurance costs and my share of the new, new national debt.  But seriously, if I could get a 25 year Corolla with 35 mpg for <$17K, do you really think the planet wants me to buy two $25K 50 mpg Priuses instead?  Keep in mind the average car in the US is half of that 25 years, and the average consumer keeps a car for only half of that, and your average hybrid payback is longer than either your average hold period, the car’s warranty, or the manufacturer’s rated life.  But that’s ok, just tell your neighbors that compared to your option ARM home loan, the hybrid is a very, very good deal.

Stop b*%^hing about smart meters.  Heaven forbid we should drag our power company into the 21st century.  Heaven forbid the power company that supplies you electricity should actually know how much you used.  And bill you for it.  I think they have term for the anti-smart meter movement – luddite.  Or the super highly technical term “whiner head case”.  I’ll paraphrase a favorite quote of mine from the Duke Energy CTO from sometime back – “why is it again that our power meters aren’t just software in our PCs”?  Hmmmh, it couldn’t be because, gasp, we’re regulated?  Or maybe because we like little round spinning dials.  Kind of like bringing 50s retro style back?

Buy your power green.  In real states like Texas, you can choose from different vendors what mix of power you want.  Real grid, 8.4 cents/kwh.  All wind? 12 cents/kwh.  All natural gas? 20% wind?  Take your pick.  Can we say, everywhere else in world can figure out how to do energy deregulation, why can’t California?  Jerry? Meg? How about taking a run at doing it right this time?  Or we could just do it California style and try and replace an IOU monopoly with a municipal monopoly.

And possibly of most importance, just because you drive a hybrid and put solar on your roof does NOT mean you’re doing your part.  Especially if you tell your friends it’s cheaper while you neglected the other items.  What’s the technical term, “it ain’t”.  It may be, however, better.  This is cleantech.  Go for better.  Make a difference.

Neal Dikeman is a partner at cleantech merchant bank Jane Capital Partners, and has cofounded several cleantech startups from carbon to superconductors.  He is a Texas Aggie.