Environment Forum

Gaze into clean technology’s crystal ball for 2010

Clean technology investors who have suffered through 2009 can find cheer in a new report by the Cleantech Group that gives its top ten predictions for 2010.

The number one prediction: Private capital growth will recover, the research group said.

The group believes that the amount of money from global venture capital and private equity in clean technology in 2010 will surpass that in 2009 “by a healthy margin” and could be a record year. The group also is watching for major investments like Khosla Ventures’ raising $1 billion for renewable energy and clean technology funds, more capital in Asia and innovative fund strategies.

Here are the group’s other predictions for 2010:

2.    Clean economies become the new space race. There will be changes in which countries and cities are driving global momentum, but greater protectionism surrounding the industry will be a drawback.

3.    Electric cars take the back seat to smart mobility. The trend will influence city designs, shipping ports and governments’ tax incentives and budgets.

Are U.S. solar jobs here to stay? Senators fight for a yes.

A trio of U.S. senators this week introduced a bill to spur solar manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Through additional tax credits, the legislation aims to encourage more U.S. companies to make solar equipment, creating jobs and building up the country’s clean energy economy.

Many — from politicians and environmentalists to investors –  have pinned great hopes on green jobs. Clean energy could create 850,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States, according to recent research Reuters reported this week.

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.

Solar heads to developing world

While solar power has investors on Wall Street seeing green, countries in the developing world also see a bright future in solar technology.

They believe solar power systems that convert sunlight into electricity can help power developing areas without going the route of dirty coal-fired power plants.

Solar companies like China’s solar panel maker Suntech and California-based eSolar, have recently announced forays into the developing world.

from Global Investing:

Turning to the sun

With oil prices more than doubling from Dec-Feb lows, those who are lucky enough to enjoy the sunshine are turning to the sun as alternative energy, but lingering effects of the credit crisis might be discouraging consumers from turning to this still-costly alternative energy.

Latest statistics suggest that solar applications are up 15% in megawatts compared with last year, according to Bank of America Securities-Merrill Lynch report. However, installations are down by 68 percent.

The bank's analyst Steven Milunovich makes the following observation:

Although these figures imply a soft (and softening) solar market in California, it is likely that customers are deferring installation, both voluntarily and involuntarily. Commercial customers are waiting for financing to improve and for grants to become available, which began in August. Installers tell us that the demand is there, but that financing is holding up installations. We expect some improvement in the second half.

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