The Solyndra debacle is no surprise to this cleantech venture capitalist. The inherent conflict between trying to get money out of the U.S. Treasury as quickly as possible to stimulate the economy and, at the same time, have government agencies that are ill-suited at making business decisions do just that was nothing other than a recipe for disaster.
Are Offshore Oil Rigs a Threatened Species? Is the Deepwater Horizon spill the beginning of the end for offshore oil drilling, or just another Exxon Valdez? Today, as BP attempted to place a 100-ton cap over the broken well gushing under the Gulf of Mexico, it was uncertain if they’d be able to stanch the spreading damage at sea or in Washington, D.C.
The spill has muddied the prospects for a climate bill as one of its pillars — a new round of offshore oil drilling — founders in unstable political soil, as Mackinnon Lawrence reports. Meanwhile, environmental groups are hustling to make the case, as in this Sierra Club video, that offshore oil is dirty and unsafe. Perhaps it’s not only brown pelicans and terns who will have trouble flying after all this is over, and the black tide might yet turn against its maker.
Efficiency Experts To America: Stop Dreamin’ and Pick Up Yer Caulkin’ Gun. At a symposium of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy — what, you missed it? — experts concluded that weatherstripping beats windfarms as the fastest way to save the US economy, and released some numbers to prove it. First, America is not as efficient as it thinks: the domestic economy is only 13 percent efficient, compared to 20 percent efficiency in Japan and some European countries. We were left pondering if it’s more efficient, percentage-wise, to order a veggie pizza from Papa John’s or gnaw on a frozen one from Trader Joe’s.
This is the question I have been getting recently. It is usually asked of me by a potential customer after I’ve laid out the potential for the solar energy system to cut a good chunk of their electrical bill. My short answer is the same every time: “It always make sense.”
In New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania where I work, the incentives are very attractive. Not only is there the 30 percent federal tax credit, but New York also has a rebate and state tax credit and New Jersey and Pennsylvania have state rebates as well as the often coveted renewable energy credits. More on these specific incentives in future posts. What I want to focus on today is the long answer to the question: Does solar make sense?
Google has invested $39 million in a 160-megawatt wind farm in North Dakota, marking the first time that the search engine giant has made a direct investment in a wind energy project.
Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, has previously invested in renewable energy startups, such as the solar thermal companies eSolar and Brightsource.
But the North Dakota wind power investment comes directly out of Google’s treasury and represents the company’s growing involvement in the renewable energy industry.
A Google spokesman said, “You can think of it as a way to diversify our cash holdings while investing in an area that we think is important to support.”
U.S. investors have invested $129.4 million in a promising solar technology that uses plastic lenses to concentrate sunlight onto small but highly efficient solar cells.
The so-called multijunction cells, developed by California-based Amonix, generate more electricity than conventional photovoltaic panels and require fewer costly semiconducting materials, such as silicon.
The company has successfully tested the technology at small solar farms in Spain and the United States.
China’s offshore oil and gas company CNOOC agreed in early April to buy 3.6 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year until 2030. The Australian LNG energy project is operated by BG Group. Though the precise value for the deal is confidential, Australian officials confirmed estimates its worth about AU$80 billion (S$103 billion) — the country’s biggest single company-to-company contract ever.
The latest CNOOC deal now makes China the world leader of investments in clean energy. For 2009, China spent $35 billion, double what the U.S. did at $18.6 billion ranking second. China plans to spend even more in the year ahead, ramping up projects in renewable energy, including wind power and solar PV manufacturing, clean water and non-renewable energy sources, such as natural gas and oil. In total more than $162 billion was invested in clean energy worldwide, reports the Pew Research Center Trust.
Venture capital investment in clean technology reached $1.9 billion in the first quarter, climbing 83 percent from last year, according to a report by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte.
Startups in North America raised the greatest share among 180 companies around the world, a three-year peak for the area with $1.5 billion, or 81 percent of all investments. That’s a 79 percent rise from the 2009 fourth quarter slump, described as a “blip” by Cleantech Group President Sheeraz Haji.
(Reuters) – A Web application that alerts wine grape farmers when their vines are thirsty has won first place in a competition to spur entrepreneurs in the investment-starved water sector, organizers said on Monday.
Fruition Sciences, which operates in both California and France, came first among 50 teams in Imagine H2O’s global competition aimed at building a “Silicon Valley” for water.
Water is a $500 billion business worldwide, but draws a mere 0.5 to 1.0 percent of venture capital and only a handful of investments per year despite growing demand for solutions to widespread water shortages.
SunPower, Silicon Valley’s biggest solar panel manufacturer, announced Thursday an agreement to buy SunRay Renewable Energy, a developer of solar power plants in Europe and Israel, for $277 million.
Although based in Malta, SunRay is managed by Israelis, including CEO Yoram Amiga and Michael Barnea, Head of Legal and M&A. SunRay established a wholly-owned Israeli subsidiary, SunRay Israel Blue & White, which is working to develop 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic projects.
Kobi Katz, the CEO of SunRay Israel, told The Marker the sale was a vote of confidence by SunPower in the Israeli solar market.
Thank billions in government funding for helping to lift clean technology investment in the third quarter, said the Cleantech Group and Deloitte in a report Wednesday.
The quarterly analysis reiterated that the recession has kicked but not killed investments in this sector, which remain down 42 percent from the third quarter of 2008. Biotech and IT combined receive less funding than clean tech, which continues its climb from the second quarter, the report noted.
“The two largest venture deals (Solyndra and Tesla Motors) and the largest IPO (A123Systems) this quarter were all recipients of U.S. government funding,” said Cleantech Group managing director Dallas Kachan in a statement.