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TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review
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September 01, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

In green technology news this week, in an effort geared to generate lots of media mileage for the Democratic incumbent during the week of the Republican National Convention, the Obama Administration made three major renewable energy and energy efficiency announcements.

On August 28, President Obama finalized groundbreaking standards for fuel economy—increasing the requirements for cars and light-duty trucks to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by model year (MY) 2025. The latest standards build on the success of the Administration’s standards for cars and light trucks for MY2011 through MY2016, which raised average fuel efficiency to the equivalent of 35.5 mpg. In total, the Obama Administration’s national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. Last year, 13 major automakers, which together account for more than 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States, gave their support to the new standards. President Obama announced the proposed standard in July 2011, joined by Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda (News - Alert), Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo.

The United States has a “burning ambition” to beat China to the “Solar Grail”—the sweet spot at which America can offer the unsurpassed solar technology at the lowest price. On August 29, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) revealed $3.5 million in funding and state-of-the-art apparatus and laboratory accommodations—for five new research projects intended to accelerate breakthroughs in cost-competitive solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSO) technologies. Building off the Sunshot Initiative, these investments will enable collaborative research teams from industries, universities, and national laboratories to work together at the DOE’s Scientific User Facilities, a national network of unique facilities that provide more than 10,000 scientists and engineers each year with open access to some of the best instruments and tools in the world including x-ray sources, accelerators, supercomputers and nanoscale research centers.

Noting that the industrial sector consumes over 30 percent of all energy nationwide, President Obama released an Executive Order on August 30 calling for his Administration to “coordinate and strongly encourage” more efficient manufacturing processes and facilities— with emphasis on the expanded use of combined heat and power (CHP) systems. Specifically, the President is setting “a national goal of deploying 40 gigawatts (GW) of new, cost-effective industrial CHP in the United States by the end of 2020.” To accomplish these objectives, the POTUS has instructed the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with the National Economic Council, the Domestic Policy Council, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to coordinate policies to encourage investment in industrial efficiency.

In other green technology news, Landis+Gyr announced that Guam Power Authority (GPA), the electric power provider for the U.S. Territory of Guam, has chosen the Gridstream RF advanced metering solution for its project to deploy smart grid technology. GPA is looking to install more than 52,000 advanced meters and Gridstream network components by 2014. For the majority of its residential customers, the utility will install E-350 FOCUS AX-SD meters with combined service switch and ZigBee abilities. In the future, the Gridstream RF network will offer a backbone for possible communication with other grid devices and home area network applications.

A Green Tech Financial Facility – which will promote private-sector-driven renewable technology projects – has received the support it needs to begin moving from concept to reality in Sub-Saharan Africa. On August 17, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), a joint initiative of the Government of Denmark and the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department (ONEC) of the African Development Bank (AfDB), approved its first grant of $825,000 to develop business plans for the new facility. The grant will be coordinated and monitored by a task team from the Private Sector Department of the AfDB, working closely with the African Biofuel and Renewable Energy Company (ABREC) and the SEFA Secretariat. During this first phase, the AfDB will execute market scoping and position studies, and then move on to creating a concept for the fund and selecting a fund manager.

If you live in a major city, you may already be familiar with the concepts of car-sharing, bike-sharing, and parking space-sharing. However, chances are that you haven’t heard about WaterMatch—an online, grassroots initiative that has been promoting the reuse of municipal effluent for industrial and agricultural purposes since 2011.CH2M Hill, a construction management and design firm located in Englewood, Colorado, developed WaterMatch as a free website that uses social networking and geospatial mapping to connect organizations that use water with those that are in need of it—and are not too fussy about the form in which it arrives. And not a moment too soon, as the effects of record-breaking droughts and heat waves reduce the levels of reservoirs and rivers worldwide.

The California Air Resources Board (News - Alert) (ARB) has designed a California cap-and-trade program that launches on January 1, 2013. It places an overall limit on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and comes within the scope of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, AB-32.In the light of these restrictions, INSIGHT Inc., an international provider of supply chain planning solutions, noted that businesses need to be more efficient in their supply chains, in order to reduce both costs and harmful emissions. INSIGHT's software solutions reportedly help companies rapidly create and implement green supply chain initiatives. When companies use the software, they can assess their carbon footprint and plan how they can make better environmental decisions.

Finally, the global solar panels market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 15.3 percent over the course of 2011-2015, according to a new report entitled “Global Solar Panels Market 2011-2015.” Functional and technological advancements are the two key factors contributing to this market growth, the report notes. Moreover, the new report states the entry of new competitors with competitive advantages is also driving this market growth. The key vendors dominating this market space today include First Solar Inc., Suntech Power Holdings (News - Alert) Co. Ltd., Trina Solar Ltd., and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd, as per the findings of the report.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

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