Environment Forum

Thank you, EPA: U.S. solar companies

tomwernerMany businesses chafed on Monday at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health.

But executives at the two largest U.S. solar power companies took a shine to the statement, which clears the way for federal regulation and came as a global climate summit opened in Copenhagen.  Now they’ll keep their eyes on Congress to act on future legislation.

First Solar’s chairman and former chief executive Mike Ahearn called the EPA’s move “an affirmation of the administration’s commitment to addressing climate change.”

“We look forward to a comprehensive legislative proposal next year that will provide a policy structure that combines putting a price on carbon emissions with rapid deployment of sustainable, non-emitting energy sources,” Ahearn said in an email.

SunPower‘s chief executive Tom Werner also applauded the move — with a nudge towards Congress.

What solar shakeout? U.S. and China firms say there’s room for all

When California’s SunPower and China’s Suntech strode onstage at an industry conference last week, onlookers braced themselves for a bit of sabre-rattling, or at least an animated debate about two global superpowers’ role in solar energy.

Some bet on an entertaining battle of words just a day after Robert F. Kennedy, Jr took to the stage at the Solar Power International conference in Anaheim, California and said that the United States was in an “arms race” with the Chinese to make solar panels.

Instead, Tom Werner with California-based SunPower and Zhengrong Shi at Chinese panel maker Suntech were all smiles and even bordeline chummy — on the surface at least — preaching cooperation rather than competition.

Could patents bring solar power companies more revenue?

The high tech industry regularly sees lawsuits fly over intellectual property rights.

Time will tell if clean technology will see a similar play, but a settlement this week between California-based solar power company SunPower Corp and SunLink Corp may shed light on things to come.

In February 2008, SunPower sued SunLink, saying SunLink had violated patents protecting several of SunPower’s rooftop systems. Under the settlement, SunPower licensed its patents to SunLink but did not disclose the financial details.

Introducing the Reuters Global Green Portfolio

As part of Reuters new Green Business section, we have chosen a diverse group of companies to serve as a proxy for the emerging green technology sector. Over the coming months we’ll be discussing each of them at length, and rebalancing our portfolio to reflect trends in the industry.

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Comverge, Inc is one of the leading demand-response companies, known for their role in limiting electricity use during peak demand, employing technology to manage large companies’ power usage and control their costs. Their software can automatically adjust an air conditioner’s temperature or turn off a swimming pool pump when power supplies are tight, reducing prices for suppliers and end users by lowering end user demand at peak times.

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