The solar sector is among the most hated on Wall Street. Many names in the solar sector that are heavily shorted, in spite of it being the fastest growing energy sector in the U.S. Meanwhile, the world is using oil faster than it’s being pumped, which is economically dangerous, because oil price spikes have preceded all recessions since 1970. More renewables could serve to lessen our ridiculous economic vulnerability to oil prices.
In this post Rien discusses the paradox that pervades so much of the high tech and cleantech world; the world that is supposed ot bring us a green and clean future free from the polluting industries of the “old” industrial paradigm. AND yet, so much of cleantech (and high-tech) depends in often critical ways on rare earths. Rare earth mining and refining is a very dirty business that has lead to some pretty horrible pollution, mainly in the Chinese regions in which it is mostly sourced from. This post focuses on a major new refining operation that Australian mining giant Lynas is trying to open in the country of Malaysia; an operation that is being opposed both by Malaysian activists and by some Australian Green Party activists as well. It forces us all to ponder this paradox and ask ourselves just how green is the green economy?
The clean energy sector is entering a phase of dramatic change in which business models are being transformed against a backdrop of regulatory uncertainty, as the industry emerges from a challenging period caused by the global economic downtown. Technologies and business structures that were once abandoned, are now being revived in several key sectors.
In this post Peg summarizes a round-table discussion about cleantech financing in the global economy held at 5th Annual Babson Energy and Environmental Conference on Entrepreneurship for a Sustainable Future and chaired by Mark Donohue. The discussion covered some of the global aspects affecting cleantech financing and looked at various challenges and opportunities lying ahead.
While other parts of the world are busy actually building national Ultra High Voltage (UHV) transmission infrastructure the US continues to do noting more substantial than litigate. A UHV super grid would be able to move renewable energy from where it is abundant to where people live and work, and do so at an economic cost. This kind of national electric energy infrastructure would enable solar, wind, hydro and geothermal generated electric power to reach market. It is a critical piece of the kind of future energy infrastructure we will need in order to continue to prosper. John goes into a lot of detail and provides numerous links to examples and more in depth reading on this very important subject.
In recent months, several conservative governors have rejected federal funds to begin constructing high-speed rail lines in their states. But a high-speed rail advocate argues that such ideologically driven actions are folly, as other U.S. states and countries around the world are moving swiftly to embrace a technology that is essential for competitive 21st-century economies.
China’s domination of the rare earth metals market potentially leaves almost every component of renewable energy vulnerable. There is speculation about the country’s reliability that it could decide to decrease or halt exports, and use the advantage to dominate the global market and choke off competitors.
The Cancun conference is being credited with keeping international climate talks alive. But the real potential for bringing emissions under control may lie in a Plan B, with nations acting on their own in moving toward a low-carbon economy.
It’s been a big year for corporate responsibility. A huge oil spill, continued ructions in the financial sector, landmark decisions in the courts, and a new dawn for online companies around human rights issues are among the top CSR stories of 2010.