New York Times weighs into cleantech discussions

Cleantech is certainly getting some mainstream attention these days. Here’s a story in the New York Times looking at how and why venture capitalists — as well as former dot-com investors and even the founders of Google — are being drawn to cleantech investments. The story tends to focus more on clean energy than on cleantech generally, but it’s another indication of the momentum building in this important area. It mentions that the U.S. states (such as California and Connecticut), and not the federal government, are leading the charge in terms of setting mandates for clean-energy supply.

“Not since the days of the Carter administration, when the federal government was more involved, have venture capitalists been this excited about alternative energy,” the story reads, though it points out that policy in the 1970s turned out to be a disaster.

“Today’s landscape is radically different from that of the late 1970s, of course. Years of experimentation in fuel cells and solar energy as well as breakthroughs in other fields, from nanotechnology to semiconductors, have been great boons to innovations in cleantech.”

Oil-import reduction proposal giving lift to clean-energy stocks

Here’s an interesting article in Red Herring about how a U.S. Senate debate over policies to reduce oil imports is drawing more attention to wind, solar, landfill gases and hybrid-electric vehicles.

The White House isn’t cooperating — surprise, surprise. “The White House has already strongly opposed a provision in the current energy bill to reduce foreign oil use by 1 million barrels per day, which is less than 10 per cent of last year’s oil imports,” the story says.


Stelco deal gets the wind knocked out of it…

My Clean Break column in today’s Star takes a look at a plan hatched a year ago that would have resulted in a wind farm on Stelco-owned land in Nanticoke and maybe even the establishment of a wind-turbine manufacturing operation in the same area. It was part of a promising partnership between Stelco and consulting company Georgian Windpower that the Star first reported back in February. That partnership is now in disarray, with steel giant Stelco announcing in April it was pulling out of the deal and Georgian Windpower responding with a $350 million breach-of-contract suit. The 20-year project would have helped clean up one of Ontario’s dirtiest areas, it would have created thousands of jobs and it would have helped the government with its plan to eventually shut down the Nanticoke coal plant. So much for a great idea…

Solar prices drop, incentives rise in New York

Thanks to Rob Hyndman for pointing out this article today in the New York Times (registration required), essentially talking about the rising popularity of solar PV system, not just in California but in places like New York.

The article touches on the usual trends in solar, such as roofing, siding or window awnings that double as solar panels. By integrating the technology with existing products it’s more affordable to consider solar, particularly for new construction. Rising demand, improved manufacturing and economies of scale are also driving down costs. Combine that with some impressive rebates and other incentives south of the border and the technology begins to make some serious sense.

“While incentives can be found across the country, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tend to give good deals. Forty states allow selling excess power back to utilities… and 19 offer rebates,” the story says.

The article goes on to say that New York has established itself as an East Coast solar beachhead. “Now more than 700 New York homeowners have solar energy systems hooked up to the utilities,” according to the story. “New York has also licensed some 50 solar equipment installers.”

This is New York we’re talking about, not California. I’m so tired of hearing people closer to home say that Toronto is too far north to take advantage of solar. If that’s the case why is Germany, which has roughly the same seasons and weather as Ontario, one of the largest solar consumers in the world? Why is New York providing hefty subsidies to give the market a kickstart in a state that neighbours Ontario?

I refer to a previous post that links to a recent report from the Canadian Solar Industry Association, which is calling on the Ontario government to introduce a feed-in tariff program. This proposal is a no-brainer, and should be just the start, not the end, of the province’s solar strategy. Enough with this obsession with the grid. It’s time to start helping people take their energy needs into their own hands. We need only look to New York to see how to do it.