China Co. to invest billions in RE projects

According to this Reuters report, China Energy Conservation Investment Corp. plans to spend $2.5 billion (U.S.) over the next five years on biomass, energy-from-waste and other renewable energy ventures. The company, which is state owned, said it plans to take advantage of a new law that rewards those who move toward renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.

This could benefit Canadian and U.S. cleantech companies looking to export technology and expertise to China, but it’s unclear whether China Energy will be open to outsiders. As a state-owned investor, it may favour local companies as a way to boost its own cleantech economy.

Hmmm, a tax policy that rewards renewable energy investments and punishes investments in older carbon-based systems and technologies. What a novel idea… eh, Canada?

Neat company alert: Magenn Power Inc.

I have a story in today’s Toronto Star about an Ottawa-based company called Magenn Power Inc. that has lofty plans of creating wind generators that float like rotating blimps in the sky. The company’s founder, Fred Ferguson, has spent half his life studying and advancing the design of Hindenburg-like airships, and three years ago he realized that the design could be modified to capture wind energy and transmit it back to the ground.

Magenn has hired former Ottawa-area tech guru Mac Brown as its CEO (He was majority owner and chairman of now-defunct, and is in the process of raising $2 million and developing a business plan that will take it through prototype stage and into commercial production. Magenn envisions floating systems ranging from 1 kilowatt to 1.6 megawatts, and it says the first system — a 4 kilowatt system ideal for cottages and small homes — will become available in the second half of 2006 at a price of $10,000.

It’s an ambitious schedule for a company that doesn’t even have a prototype yet, and Magenn already has a number of skeptics who believe the idea is a lot of hot air, supported only by a fancy Web site and diagrams, that will never make it to commercial production. “What about airplanes?” asks one critic. “Airplanes and blimps don’t mix.” But it’s difficult to deny that Ferguson’s plan is neat and novel, and you almost hope he can make it work.

For more details check out the story.

Phantom Menace: Redux

I know I posted on this a few weeks ago, but here is a link to today’s Clean Break column in the Toronto Star about phantom loads in the home. My previous post on this issue was based on a CNET article. My column takes this a bit further, adding a Canadian spin and some information from Natural Resources Canada.

If you want to listen to this via podcast, click here — you’ll find a link on the podcasting section of the Toronto Star’s site.

(FYI: Rob Hyndman forwarded this link to a product called Kill-A-Watt that can measure the watts used by individual devices and appliances. Thanks Rob! You can apparently buy a similar device at Canadian Tire stores.)