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TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review
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September 15, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

In green technology news this week, a stagnant U.S. economy paradoxically has yielded desirable, lower C02 emissions; American solar energy has made an impressive leap forward during 2Q 2012; and wind energy advocates are saying that the demise of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) will deal a “death blow” to renewable energy growth, new jobs and tax revenue.

According to the Energy Department, the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from energy production fell in the United States in 2011—for the third time in the last four years and the fourth time in the last six years. The slower economic growth ironically is one of the factors in the 2.4-percent drop in energy-related carbon emissions last year. Other reasons included a mild winter, a shift to less carbon-intensive energy production; and high gasoline prices, which encouraged Americans to drive fewer miles on the road.

About 742 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power were installed during the second quarter of this year, more than double the 343 megawatts installed in the first quarter of 2011, according to research commissioned by the Washington, DC-based Solar Energy Industries Association and conducted by Boston-based GTM Research. The U.S. now has 5.7 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power one million homes.

Each major wind farm in America creates 1,079 jobs and can add tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and other benefits to the community in which it is located, according to two new reports from the Washington, D.C.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Yet the industry’s growth and promise will be greatly stunted, the Council says, if Congress does not renewed the 2.2-cent per kilowatt hour (kWh) Production Tax Credit (PTC) that’s set to expire at the end of the year. The Senate was expected to take up the PTC this week. Indeed, U.S. Representative Edward Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts) planned to ask for reinstatement of the wind PTC as part of the vote on the “No More Solyndras Act” on the U.S. House floor.

According to the Wired website, the uber-trendy luxury electric automaker, Tesla Motors Inc. of Silicon Valley, plans to launch two new models including a smaller crossover SUV that will rival the BMW X3 and a new sports car to replace the Roadster, the prestigious $109,000 two-seater discontinued earlier this year. Elon Musk, the company’s founder, said the new additions to the Tesla line-up will be launched in tandem in 2016. They will join the current main attraction, the Model S sedan, and a planned entry-level sedan that Musk says will launch in 2015 at an affordable MSRP of around $30,000. While Musk was hesitant to delve into in depth details of the two models set 2016, he did mention they were needed to attain the economy of scale required to glean profit.

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are forecast to reach over 500,000 in annual sales throughout North America by 2020— 400,073 in the United States and 107,146 in Canada—according to a report just released by Boulder, Colorado-based Pike Research (News - Alert). Overall, sales of PEVs in the United States are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 percent between 2012 and 2020. California, New York, Florida and Texas will lead the way —however, by 2020; Hawaii is expected to have the highest concentration of PEVs out of total annual new vehicle sales, at 12.3 percent.

 According to the report, “Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts,” at that point, PEVs will represent 4.5 percent of total sales in the State of California sales; 3.5 percent of the total in New York; 1.9 percent in Florida; and 1.4 percent in Texas. Nationally, PEV sales are expected to reach 2.1 percent of the total market. In Canada, the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, which account for 75 percent of the Canadian population, will represent 97 percent of Canadian PEV sales by 2020. Toronto and Montreal will lead Canadian PEV sales. Pike analysts also predicted that the “first-mover advantage” owned by Nissan and General Motors (News - Alert) (GM) will fade away in the next couple of years—and that preferences will shift to Toyota, Ford, and Honda —“the brands that resonate most as providers of electric vehicles .”

Outdoor Channel Corp. has entered into a partnership with Time Warner Cable to restore and improve public lands and spaces in order to ensure that the outdoor lifestyle thrives in communities across America. Through partnerships with organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable, Outdoor Channel aims to mobilize local outdoor enthusiasts and make lasting impacts on the communities it serves. For its part, Time Warner Cable is looking to raise awareness about conservation in Staten Island, a borough of New York City, through its Connect a Million Minds initiative, which exposes young people to the wonders of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Outdoor Channel HD is available to area residents of Staten Island through Time Warner Cable on Channel 480. Time Warner Cable's New York City service area includes Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, western Brooklyn, and Mt. Vernon, New York; as well as Bergen and Hudson Counties in New Jersey.

Earth Advantage Institute (EAI)—a Portland, Oregon-based environmental advocacy organization serving stakeholders in the construction industry—has launched the Earth Advantage Commercial (EAC) green building certification program.  The EAC program offers a rigorous green-building certification that is accessible and cost-effective for commercial buildings smaller than 100,000 square feet. Fully 95 percent of all commercial buildings fall into this smaller category; however, green certification is often overlooked due to its perceived complexities and cost.

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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