The U.S. has launched an industry-government effort to boost the country’s green technology exports, but can it work in the face of China’s growing momentum and Congressional inaction? Those are the worries Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addressed in an inaugural meeting of the group, which includes representatives from General Electric, Southwest Windpower, Suniva, United Solar Ovonics and Covanta Energy. The U.S. exported some $2 billion of solar, wind and other renewable energy products in 2009, up from $1.26 billion in 2007, but imported far more than that, with $3.7 billion in wind power imports alone last year. In the meantime, China is spending about $12 billion a month in support of its own clean energy sector, Locke said. As to whether the U.S. would take up a United Steelworkers case accusing China of violating World Trade Organization rules, Locke declined to comment.
If you’ve ever walked through a skyscraper-laden city on a windy day, you know how big buildings can intensify the gales, creating wind tunnels that accelerate the gusts so that they blow off hats and flip up skirts. Now a 3-year-old Akron, Ohio-based startup called Green Energy Technologies wants to use that same wind-tunnel effect to generate small-wind power more efficiently.
The company has developed a 60-kilowatt, five-blade turbine that comes with what it calls a shroud, which looks like a sort of shallow metal funnel. The shroud creates a wind-tunnel effect in front of the blades, amplifying the wind velocity by a factor of two — so that a 5 mph wind that enters the shroud reaches 10 mph by the time it hits the blade — allowing the system to harness even low-speed winds and ultimately produce more electricity from them.
Green Energy claims its WindCube, unveiled last month at the Windpower conference in Chicago and intended for commercial and industrial buildings in urban and suburban locations, can generate power from winds as slow as 5 mph. Over the course of a year, Green Energy says the system can generate 100-130 megawatt-hours — about the same as a traditional 100-foot-tall turbine with blades 50-60 feet in diameter — in places with winds that average 12 mph, says Mark Cironi, president and founder of the company. For context, 12 mph is fairly windy, and is the average wind speed in cities such as Boston, Lubbock, Tex., Fargo, North Dakota, Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan.
Read More about Startup Green Energy Tech Installs First Small-Wind Concentrators
Despite the winds of green job creation starting to blow across the U.S., the UK’s ambitious goal of supplying a third of its electricity from wind by 2020 is starting to look like it could be unachievable.
My friend, and founder, Amy Lang, has about as well-rounded a portfolio of experience as any startup-type could hope for. Having begun her career in recruiting at Arthur Andersen, Amy was a pre-IPO staffer at Netscape, then worked at Oracle, and later went to Yahoo! where she refined her expertise in marketing.
What’s nice about her case is that it confirms a concept Found|READ has promoted since its inception: The lessons Amy learned at these anchor tech companies have valuable application far beyond Silicon Valley — especially those she gleaned from that silver-tongued Mississipian, Jim Barksdale, the former CEO of Netscape. Read More about 3 Bites of Wisdom from Barksdale