In discussions about renewables such as wind and solar we often forget to talk about the challenges of using these technologies in certain climates. The same goes for electric car batteries and biodiesel. Folks in California probably don’t give this much thought, but being Canadian — and having shovelled my driveway four times this month — it’s a reality that can’ t be avoided.
Take earlier this month. I was supposed to visit OptiSolar’s solar farm in Sarnia but the forecast called for snow — lots of it. We cancelled the visit, thank god. Later on the news that night I watched as police on snowmobiles rescued people whose cars were stranded in snow-filled ditches at the edge of the highway — the main highway into Sarnia that I was supposed to take. Needless to say, OptiSolar’s panels got blanketed by snow, again, and again, and again this month.
The New York Times has an interesting story about winter and its impact on renewables. It talks about snow on solar panels, ice on wind turbines, and how the cold can turn biodiesel into thick goo. But winter, it should be pointed out, does have some advantages: the wind blows better in the winter and solar panels are more efficient in the cold (though the days are shorter).
The story also talks about the new work opportunities that winter presents. Removing snow from neighbourhood solar panels or solar farms could be the new “green-collar job” for local kids!
The mainstream business press, always eager to say “We told you so” and “history will repeat itself,” appears quite eager to announce the demise of cleantech and all the associated buzz it carries. The bubble is bursting, they say. The return to cheap oil will kill the green movement, they declare. They point to some weakling companies in the cleantech sector that are struggling, or to the dramatic drop in sector stock prices, and say cleantech’s days are numbered. A front-page business story today in Canada’s Globe and Mail features the headline: “Has the sun set on cleantech?” Apparently financial investors are giving up on cleantech and, like the dot-com bubble, it’s all about to burst.
Such pronouncements are getting rather tired. Continue reading Talk of bursting cleantech bubble getting tired
Well, not so white — as in snowy — yet, but certainly north. And Great, I should add. It is, however, starting to getting pretty cool these days. Maybe it’s because the federal Conservatives were re-elected? Hmmm…
Below is a wrap-up of news from Lignol Energy, Wal-Mart Canada, Enbridge, VRB Power, and 6N Silicon, ending with my suggestion of three cleantech/energy books that are good reads. Continue reading A few announcements from the Great White North
There have been a number of good stories and blog postings about the extent to which the credit crunch and its economic downside will hurt renewable energy projects and act as a drag on cleantech financing. Here’s my own take on how things are playing out in Ontario. Continue reading The credit crunch and its impact on green projects
Lots of news to report from the Great White North, where we’ve got a great stable of cleantech companies — even if they are generally underappreciated and underfunded. Speaking of underfunded, I’d just like to highlight that Canadian cleantech companies raised just $49 million (U.S.) in the third quarter. For perspective, U.S. companies raised $1.75 billion. If we apply the standard 10x calculation to figure out where Canada should be, we would have raised $175 million. We’re not even close. That said, California took a lion’s share of U.S. funding — $1.1 billion. That means the rest of the U.S. raised $650 million, putting Canada’s share in the ballpark. Clearly, California is skewing the results and eating everyone else’s lunch. But I digress.
Here’s what’s going on in Canada: Continue reading Canadian cleantech news roundup: Stormfisher, AAER, Arise, 5N and Railpower