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TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review
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March 09, 2013

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

In green technology news this week, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Ernest Moniz, an MIT (News - Alert) physicist and former Under Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton, to replace Steven Chu at the Department of Energy; and Gina McCarthy, who has served under five different governors (including a stint as Republican Mitt Romney’s “Green Quarterback” in Massachusetts) and most recently, has been Assistant EPA Administrator, to replace Lisa Jackson at the Environmental Protection Agency. The two nominations were greeted with enthusiasm on the Democratic side of the aisle and with a “wait-and-see” attitude on the Republican side. Stay tuned for some interesting confirmation hearings.

In other developments, there was good news worldwide for several sectors of the renewable energy industry this week. According to a tracker report just released by Boulder, Colorado-based Pike Research (News - Alert), more than 50 percent of the 130 smart city projects underway globally are focused on innovations in transportation and urban mobility. Europe is leading the way, following by Asia-Pacific, North America, and Latin America. Based on the findings of the “Smart City Tracker,” the past 12 months have seen an explosion of interest in the smart city concept. Not only are new projects being announced, but many existing programs are being rebranded as smart city initiatives. Indeed, Pike forecasts that the global smart city technology market will grow from $6.1 billion in annual revenue in 2012 to $20.2 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2 percent.

Green energy has almost reached price parity in Puerto Rico—where fossil fuel energy costs are nearly twice as high as on the U.S. mainland. In July 2010, the then-governor, Luis Fortuño, enacted a new law for energy diversification through sustainable and alternative renewable energy and a Green Energy Incentives Act. Solar and wind power were promoted, and as a result, the production of renewable energy is expected to be 12 percent by 2015, 15 percent by 2020, and 20 percent by 2035. The new governor, Alejandro García Padilla, also supports alternative energy production. He wants to install solar water heaters on at least half of the island's homes and install solar panels on government buildings.

In the mid-2000s, Orange County, California, was known as a major center of the mortgage industry. Years after the demise of those companies, a new industry is emerging in the area: green technology. Among the firms that have set up shop in Orange County are Fisker Automotive in Anaheim; First Carbon Solutions in Irvine; and both Amonix and Clean Energy (News - Alert) Fuels in Seal Beach;

In one of two future scenarios released recently by Royal Dutch Shell plc, based in The Hague, Netherlands, company planners predict that, by 2070, solar photovoltaic panels will become the world’s primary source of energy.

The New Lens scenarios—entitled “Mountains” and “Oceans”— look ahead as far as 2100 to explore the divergent ways in which the 21st century could unfold, with dramatically different implications for society and the world’s energy systems. One scenario sees cleaner-burning natural gas becoming the most important energy source globally by the 2030s and early action to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The other sees solar becoming the top energy source by about 2070, but with slower action to address the threat of climate change. What they both agree on is that global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) will drop to near zero by 2100, due to increasing use of technology that takes CO2 out of the atmosphere—for instance by burning biomass to produce electricity—and then stores the gas underground.

When most westerners think of Libya they probably think of oil. In the future, when they play the same word association game, they might think of solar power. The North African nation has the potential to produce more solar power than it does oil, according to a study by the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment at England’s Nottingham Trent University. The key to this potential to generate a lot of solar energy is sunlight. Libya gets a lot of it--the equivalent 8.1 kilowatt hours per square meter in solar radiation per day. The country’s mainly desert climate also contributes to the possibility of solar power. Fewer rainclouds means more sunlight to beam down on solar panels. The country also experiences powerful hot air currents that can drive wind generators. “If Libya could harness only a tiny fraction of the renewable energy resources it has available in the form of solar and wind power, [the nation] not only could it meet its own demands for energy, but also a significant part of the world’s demands by exporting electricity,” said Ahmed Mohamed, a Nottingham Ph.D. student and a native of Libya.

In India, Jakson Power Solutions plans to commission 100MW of solar power generation capacity nationwide in the next three years. The Delhi-based company recently announced the commissioning of its first project – a 20MW facility in the Jodhpur District of Rajasthan. This 20-megawatt (MW) plant was obtained through a competitive bidding process under the Phase I Batch II of the National Solar Mission. This recently commissioned 20-MW solar farm was set up with an investment of $36.5 million under the government’s Jawaharlal Nehru Phase I Batch II National Solar Mission.

Finally, the Russian Space Agency, Roskosmos, has announced that it may build a solar power station to collect energy in space and then send it back to Earth. It is noteworthy that Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (Minpromtorg) also is studying the use of solar energy. Officials want to see if it can be used for civilian aircraft. Meanwhile, other nations and regions are considering similar proposals for solar in space. As of now, the United States, Japan, Europe and China plan to build solar power stations between 2030 and 2040.

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