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TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review
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August 18, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

It’s the dog days of summer, and Americans in ten states would like a lick of rain to offset the effects of the continuing drought; while others are trying to collar their U.S. legislators about voting “aye” to a PTC for wind energy. Elsewhere, Scotland is fetching more low-carbon commuter buses and Fiji Islanders have begun to unleash the power of solar generation.

With that in mind, we hope you will sit and stay with us for this Green Tech Week in Review report.

In America, almost nobody has a “dry” sense of humor anymore – and who can blame them? Faced with record-breaking 2012 summer heat, 81 percent of Americans are concerned about "increased drought" and other extreme weather conditions, according to a major new survey conducted July 26-30 for the Boston-based Civil Society Institute (CSI). The poll found that concerns over sinking reservoir levels have made people focus on using alternative energy sources, such as wind farms and solar arrays, which require less water for production. The majority of respondents supported this. The survey was performed across ten U.S. states most affected by drought. Fully 85 percent of Americans say the availability of ample clean water should be a top national priority for the United States.

According to the 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report, just released by the U.S. Department of Energy, the United States remained one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing wind markets in 2011, with wind power representing a remarkable 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions and accounting for $14 billion in new investment. However, the report finds that 2013 may see a dramatic slowing of American wind energy deployment, due in part to the possible expiration of federal renewable energy tax incentives. The Production Tax Credit (PTC), which has helped drive the industry’s growth, is set to expire at the end of this year.

This week, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond gave the green light for a trailblazing clean energy hub, to be located in Aberdeen City. The $5.2-million demonstration project will literally be rolled out by a fleet of hydrogen buses – the largest in Europe – scheduled to hit the streets in 2014. The Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise each have committed up to £1.65 million (US$2.59 million) to support the project, which also has received funding from the European Commission and the U.K. Technology Strategy Board. Now, the Aberdeen City Council, supported by Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, a private-public partnership, will start the project’s first phase with an order for ten hydrogen fuel-cell buses, which will generate zero local emissions. To date, most global hydrogen production has come from fossil fuels – but it also can be produced from electrolysis, which uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Kyocera (News - Alert) Solar Inc., of Kyoto, Japan, has announced that its solar arrays will bring light and power to more than 2,000 homes in the remote villages of the Fiji Islands. The solar systems are being deployed in partnership with Fiji’s Department of Energy and in line with pledges made at the Fifth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (Palm 5) in May 2009. To date, 135 kilowatts (kW) have been installed and the remaining 270 kW will be in place by the end of the year. 

Apple recently announced it would be coming out with a smaller dock connector for its next-generation iPhone (News - Alert), but those looking to upgrade may be less than thrilled. Not only will the 19-pin port require all-new accessories, as it will not work with the current 30-pin ones, but now it is being reported that the new dock is not very environmentally friendly either. When the masses of Apple (News - Alert) customers eliminate their old accessories, the amount of resulting e-waste will be astronomical.

Tokyo-based Ricoh has been recognized among just six organizations worldwide that are on a path toward a “green and inclusive economy. Consulting firm Deloitte (News - Alert) researched the sustainability activities of 65 leading companies in ten industries for its first Zero Impact Growth Monitor 2012. The report highlights that the majority of the companies studied still are ambiguous about their strategic growth ambitions. Along with Puma, Nike, Nestlé, Unilever and Natura, Ricoh has been classified at the “Ecosystem” level of sustainable business.

The trend in new construction and retrofits can only be described as “extreme green” or “net zero.” Venture capitalists have plowed more than $4 billion into the development of sustainably designed, energy efficient buildings. Now, they are looking at ground-breaking technologies to further develop this space, according to a report just released by Lux Research. “Early VC investors are looking for exits for the first wave of successful green buildings start-ups and the seeds of the next crop are being sown in on-site generation and sustainable materials,” said Lux Research Analyst Ryan Castilloux, the lead author of the report, titled, “Building a Green 21st Century: Tracking Venture Investments in Green Buildings to Uncover New Opportunities.”

Green technology lovers can now bond on their own social networking website, Ozoshore. Officially unveiled earlier this week, the website is giving members the ability to share green messages with “partners” (similar to friends on Facebook (News - Alert)). Members can have a business page and/or a personal page and an unlimited number of partners; as well as custom pages such as a donation site, newsletter, mission statement, blog and more.” At this time, the platform boasts around 3,000 members, with more people hoping on board as the days pass.

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