Wind way up in the skies. Startup Altaeros is starting to deliver on its idea.
Microsoft gets into the game of buying clean power directly from a power company for a data center in Texas.
Is Oregon the next promised land for clean technology? The Beaver State has, in recent years, has been trying to position itself as a major player with regards to support for green energy, electric vehicle development and more.
After a week of announcing five loan guarantees for solar projects, the Department of Energy is turning the spotlight on wind energy, on Tuesday, announcing the backing of a $135.76 million loan for a wind farm in New Hampshire.
Eco labels have worked well in some cases, such as organic food, but will they work for renewable energy? The wind energy industry thinks so and proposed a program Wednesday to encourage companies to invest in wind and display their eco-friendly cred.
Venture capitalists are starting the New Year off with a deepening interest in the wind industry. About two weeks after Khosla Ventures and others invested in wind turbine maker Nordic Windpower, another wind startup, FloDesign Wind Turbine, announced yesterday that it closed a $34.5 million second round of venture funding to further develop its “high-efficiency shrouded” wind turbines that draw inspiration from the aerospace industry.
High-profile investment firm Kleiner Perkins, the only disclosed backer of the startup’s $6 million first round, led this latest funding and was joined by Goldman Sachs, Technology Partners, and VantagePoint Venture Partners. FloDesign Wind also announced that Lars Anderson, the former head of wind energy developer Vestas’ business efforts in China, joined as chief executive officer. The startup’s previous CEO and co-founder, Stanley Kowalski, will remain with the company as vice president.
Read More about Kleiner Perkins Doubles Down on a “Shrouded” Wind Turbine Design
While there are a lot of varying reports on how many green jobs will or will not be created in the coming years, here’s an interesting statistic on the characteristics of a clean power job versus its fossil fuel equivalent: According to research from the Copenhagen Climate Council, “the renewable energy sector generates more jobs per unit of energy delivered than the fossil fuel-based sector.” That’s true for all of the clean power technologies except carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) given that industry has yet to take off, says a report entitled Green Jobs and the Clean Energy Economy and co-authored by Dan Kammen, the Director of the Renewable Energy Lab at UC Berkeley, and Ditlev Engel the CEO of wind firm Vestas.
Kammen told me this week that the Copenhagen Climate Council will be highlighting this research at the upcoming COP15 climate talks, which start in Copenhagen next week. The report says that analysts at McKinsey & Company have come to similar conclusions comparing the wind industry and the oil and gas industries. And in particular the report says that solar photovoltaic technology creates the most jobs per unit of electricity output (see chart above for comparison of clean power jobs per GW).
Read More about There’s More Jobs In a Clean MW Than a Dirty MW
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When the CEO of the world’s No. 1 turbine maker, Vestas, said earlier this year that the global downturn was slashing demand for its products, it seemed like only a matter of time before the company would respond with cuts. The rest of the wind industry hasn’t been shy about layoffs. Well, here it is: Vestas is cutting 1,900 jobs — 9 percent of its work force — largely in the UK (closing a turbine plant on the Isle of Wight) and Denmark.
The tough cuts are a result of oversupply in Northern Europe, says the Danish turbine maker. Back in January, Vestas CEO Ditlev Engel said that the company had 15 percent excess manufacturing capacity because of lowered demand. Falling demand and an inability to raise project financing have caused wind firms in the U.S. and Europe to lay off staff left and right, including at companies like Clipper Windpower, Gamesa and DMI Industries.
But despite the planned cuts, Vestas is still financially very strong — it reported a 70 percent boost in profits for its first-quarter earnings (announced today). Vestas last quarter had killer numbers, too. For now, Vestas is aiming straight at the U.S. market (its largest market by sales) where the stimulus package is set to pump money into renewable energy projects.
EPA Endangerment Finding: The U.S. EPA said today that greenhouse gases pose a danger to the public, paving the way for the agency to place limits on carbon dioxide and other emissions from vehicles, power plants and factories under the Clean Air Act — and increasing pressure on Congress to pass climate legislation. — Washington Post
Top Energy Storage Options: Utilities, investors and policymakers face a complicated task in trying tp pick the right energy storage technologies for funding. Some of the top players? Pumped hydro, compressed air, flywheel energy, superconducting magnetic energy and thermal energy storage, plus advanced material and flow batteries. — ClimateIntel
Going Niche: Vestas’ move to start building custom turbines for the Chinese market may seem to go against the benefits of economies of scale, but it could be the only way to hang onto its precarious share of a market increasingly dominated by state-supported local players. — WSJ’s Environmental Capital
Canadian Economy Needs Cap and Trade: The most immediate threat Canada faces from greenhouse gas emissions is not environmental, but economic, according to a new report from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. — NYT’s Green Inc.
U.S.-Mexico Climate Agreement: President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon agreed yesterday on a new partnership to fight climate change and promote clean energy. The two countries plan to broaden political and technical cooperation through the new Bilateral Framework on Clean Energy and Climate Change. — Reuters