Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tesla IPO

Carmaker's stock defies weakness in the broad market
* Tesla now has $2.22 billion market cap
* CEO Elon Musk's stake worth more than $650 mln
* Tesla first carmaker to have IPO since Ford's 1956 debut
* Tesla not expecting profits until at least 2012 (Updates share prices, adds details on shareholders, comparison with other auto deals, other background)
NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO, June 29 (Reuters) - Electric carmaker Tesla Motors Corp's (TSLA.O) initial public offering zoomed ahead on Tuesday with shares rallying more than 40 percent as investors bet that electric cars would define the future of transportation.
Tesla's shining debut came despite weakness in the broad market and as other auto stocks were hit by concerns of a global slowdown. Tesla was the top gainer on the Nasdaq on Tuesday, offering hope to other companies mulling initial public offerings but which may have shied away given recent volatility.
Tesla's closing share price of $23.89 boosted its market capitalization to $2.22 billion, compared with $1.6 billion on Monday night. It is the first initial public offering by an American automaker since Ford's debut in 1956. The debut comes amid heightened interest in electric cars and as major automakers gear up to launch various types of battery-powered vehicles, including plug-in hybrids.
"They're competing against both internal combustion engines and alternative fuels like fuel cells, compressed natural gas and things like that," said Matt Therian, an analyst with Connecticut-based IPO research house Renaissance Capital. "It's probably too early to say that electric vehicles are definitely going to be the next thing in cars, but if they are I think the potential is huge."

Two Million Sharp Panels in Memphis

MEMPHIS, TN, Jun 29, 2010  -- Sharp Electronics Corporation, the U.S. subsidiary of Sharp Corporation, one of the world's leading manufacturers of solar cells, is commemorating the production of the two millionth solar panel at its assembly operation at Sharp Manufacturing Company of America (SMCA) in Memphis. Since coming online in 2003, the facility's production capacity has increased tremendously, and its manufacturing staff has tripled. The solar manufacturing facility assembles a variety of panels for residential and commercial installations.

"Sharp is very proud to reach a milestone of this magnitude. Having the two millionth panel roll off of the production lines is a testament to the growing demand for solar electricity, and our steadfast dedication to growing the solar electricity market," said Mr. Kozo Takahashi, CEO and chairman, Sharp Electronics Corporation. "This is a tremendous achievement for Sharp and the entire clean tech sector."

Sharp has grown its presence in the U.S., supplying the solar modules that power thousands of residential, governmental, commercial and utility-scale solar electricity systems throughout the country. Its roster of notable commercial solar installations includes systems at FedEx's hub in Oakland, California; Google's corporate campus in Mountain View, California; Patagonia's headquarters in Ventura, California; and the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park.

Sharp's Memphis facility has produced enough solar modules to fully power more than 65,000 total average-sized homes, with clean, renewable solar energy. This saves nearly 12 million metric tons of CO2* per year.

"We share this achievement with our customers -- some of the finest dealers, installers, businesses and government organizations in the nation," said Ron Kenedi, vice president, Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group. "Our customers are creating jobs by hiring electricians, roofers, and other labor to install our high-quality solar panels, thus driving local economies while helping to build the nation's renewable energy portfolio."

Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group is a unit of Sharp Electronics Corporation. Sharp offers a high-quality, competitively priced and reliable suite of solar products, many of which are proudly made at the facility in Memphis by IBEW union members. In addition, Sharp solar products sold in the United States qualify as American goods under the "Buy American" clause of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and have been installed in several ARRA-funded projects around the nation.

By providing a wide variety of solar electricity products to meet a diverse range of applications, Sharp is helping make solar power an increasingly mainstream energy solution -- one that is accessible, efficient and cost-effective.

Cisco Energy Management

Cisco Systems on Tuesday introduced a home energy management system, which it will test with customers of utility Duke Energy and which it plans to offer to other utilities.
The two companies said that Cisco will supply a home energy "controller," a countertop touch-screen display that allows people to monitor electricity usage and to program home energy to reduce waste and take advantage of off-peak pricing.
Duke plans to pilot-test the devices and related back-end services for a year starting this summer with customers in Charlotte, N.C., and in Cincinnati who already have smart meters installed.
Cisco's home energy controller, a touch-screen display for monitoring energy and cutting energy waste.
(Credit: Cisco)
The controller will act as a hub for home-networked devices, which can report their energy use and be controlled from the display wirelessly. Existing appliances can be connected using two-way thermostats or smart plugs, which talk to the controller via the Zigbee protocol. Cisco said it plans to support other wireless protocols over time.
The device will also allow people to participate in demand-response programs, through which the utility offers a rebate for cutting electricity usage during peak times. For example, a dishwasher could be timed to run in the middle of the night or a water heater could be turned down temporarily to lighten grid load during a hot day.
Cisco plans to sell the $900 product bundle to utilities, which will make it available to consumers as an energy efficiency tool. Duke and Cisco said they plan to work with manufacturers of appliances and electronics so that they can connect other gear into the home automation network.
Although a number of utilities are moving ahead with installation of smart meters, there's growing recognition in the industry that meters need to be coupled with home energy management tools so that consumers can take advantage of the real-time capability of two-way meters.
Duke said that the Cisco home energy controller is designed to be easy to use and not require a significant amount of time or attention.
"Customers want to save money on their energy bills, but it has to be easy. With Cisco's proven expertise in Internet Protocol-based, open system networks, we're confident our collaboration with them will result in a solution that provides customers back-of-mind simplicity and real, back pocket rewards," Gianna Manes, Duke Energy senior vice president and chief customer officer, said in a statement.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Forbes Republish: Jet Ski through Tar Balls

I once met a woman on a Florida beach who shared with me her disgust at her son's latest infatuation: jet skiing. Jet skis are so loud and obnoxious, she groused, that Germany had actually banned them. I told her I had no problem with jet skis being legal in the U.S.--so long as it was legal for me to shoot at the drivers. She didn't laugh.
I thought of my joke (which, by the way, nobody else found funny) when I realized something similar was unfolding as part of our national energy debate. Except, this time, it's sort of in reverse. And it's not funny, not even by my morbid standards.
An oil rig blows up. Eleven men die. But their deaths are overshadowed by the relentless degradation of the Gulf of Mexico. The blight spreads to the shore in four states, and we are powerless to stop it. Yet, even before we learn what went wrong on the Deepwater Horizon rig, residents and politicians in the most affected state are calling for more drilling. More!
"The last thing we need is to enact public policies that will certainly destroy thousands of existing jobs while preventing the creation of thousands more," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in arguing to lift an emergency moratorium on deep-sea wells.
If you needed evidence of our oil addiction, there it is. Large patches of America are so reliant on petroleum that stuffing poison right down their gullets won't reduce their appetites.
That overriding dependency sits at the center of the policy debate over energy now gurgling up in Washington. The sheer size of BP tells you only part of what you need to know about the weight of the inertia. Before the spill BP was valued at more than $200 billion. That's only one company. Exxon Mobil's value lingers close to $300 billion, and its 2008 profit topped $45 billion.
Then, there are the employees and the oil services companies and the royalties that prop up budgets in states like Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, along with the entire complex of coal and power companies whose interests also lie in limiting any additional costs being placed on fossil fuel emissions.
Worse still, fears of change are exploited to high heaven by unscrupulous politicians and a partisan press--ensuring that even bringing up the subject carries a high political price and little chance of rational discussion. It's no wonder then that even when we're confronted with the hard fact that petroleum's true price is higher than the one we pay at the pump, we aren't willing to come to terms with it.

In a recent paper, Resources for the Future economist Ian Parry found that just the quantifiable environmental costs not included in a gallon of gasoline run around $1.23, and that's after he folded in only the mildest possible impacts from climate change. Parry performed his research well before the Gulf spill bumped the true cost even higher.
Barack Obama's election seemed a promising opportunity for a reckoning. Or, put in economic terms, to correct the market distortion. He was supposed to be the game changer--the charismatic leader elected with a strong majority who could overcome the status quo for the benefit of everyone.
That's why the president's energy speech last week was so disappointing. I'm not talking about the stick-it-to-BP part. And it's difficult to argue against the feel-good things Obama hinted he'd support--mainly his advocacy for more federal support for clean energy and efficiency.
But in talking up the carrots that could make clean energy more appetizing, the president indicated that he's given up on the stick--putting a price on carbon pollution that would both pay for all those carrots and allow oil (and for that matter coal) to reflect something closer to its true cost.
Although the administration still insists it supports a cap-and-trade carbon pricing system, cap-and-trade's omission from last week's speech seems an admission that meaningful carbon pricing won't be part of an energy bill that passes the Senate this year. I have a tactical quibble on that. Cap-and-trade looks as if it will end up being to energy what the public option was to health care: a key to reform jettisoned for very little in return.
The larger problem is that no matter what sacrifices we make to get fossil fuels, we can't imagine getting out from under that free-flowing spigot. In that case, subsidizing clean energy may represent progress. But let's not kid ourselves into believing that any meaningful transition will take place without also getting rid of the artificially low cost of oil and other fossil fuels.
The natural systems smudged by BP's spill may be lost forever. An entire region's way of life could be blotted for decades. But only one thing will jeopardize the God-given right for that kid to fill up his jet ski on cheap gasoline and ride off into the sunset. And it won't be my gun joke.
It'll be the tar balls washing over him as they flow toward that beach on the Florida panhandle.
Ken Edelstein writes the Planet Pundit column for the Mother Nature Network. From various coffee shops in Atlanta he publishes an environmental news site at MyGreenATL.com .

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Clean Energy in the Rockies

Clean Energy Leadership in the Rockies: Competitive Positioning in the Emerging Green Economy, from Headwater Economics, documents how the Rocky Mountain Energy Producers — Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming — are growing New Energy economies despite the recession. These states are leading the way in the development and implementation of policies that drive innovation in both New Energy and Energy Efficiency. As a result, they are showing growth in green jobs exceeding the growth in total employment and the national rate of green job growth.

Nationally, the 1995-to-2007 overall job growth was 10% while green jobs grew 18%. In the Rocky Mountain Energy Producers, overall job growth was 19% while job growth in their “core green economies” was 30%.
Energy-oriented venture capital investment in the Rocky Mountain Energy Producers has grown more than 10 times over in the 21st century, reaching more than half-a-billion dollars in 2008. They also won U.S. Department of Energy funding of almost a billion dollars.

What's the secret to such growth. The secret may be "it depends..." The Rocky Mountain Energy Producers’ policy approaches vary. Colorado has the second-most ambitious U.S. Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), mandate requiring the state's utilities to obtain a specific portion of their power from New Energy sources by a date certain. Utah has only a New Energy goal with no mandated requirement. Wyoming has nothing. Incentives vary as much. The lesson: There are choices. The necessary factor: A commitment to New Energy. A commitment with smart policies that include compliance provisions is even better.

The cumulative impact from growing New Energy is more than riches. The Rocky Mountain Energy Producers, states rich in fossil fuels that are no strangers to energy production, are leading the transition to a New Energy economy. They are doing much more than merely generating emissions-free electricity. They are growing skilled workforces, building public and private research institutions, and winning supportive responses from state and local governments by demonstrating the benefits that come with the transition.

The study’s first section details the green economy in the 5 Rocky Mountain Energy Producers and the roles played by New Energy and Energy Efficiency.

Its second section documents the energy sources in the 5 states, including the role of New Energy in their mixes. It then analyzes the impacts of public policy and market forces on New Energy capacities and examines the strategies the 5 states are using to increase capacities.

The third section calculates an Energy Intensity (economic output per unit of energy consumed) for each of the 5 states and how Energy Efficiency increases economic growth by reducing the financial resources expended on energy, thereby freeing them for investment in the broader economy.

The fourth section compares the performance of each state’s green economy to its overall economic performance, using growth, green establishments, total jobs, patents, and venture capital as measures.
The study ends with a summary of the incentives, policies, and conditions that work.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Home Energy Management Products

GreenWave Reality on Wednesday unveiled a home energy management system, joining a pack of companies with gadgets for tracking and reducing home energy.
The company, which has its main offices in Copenhagen and Irvine, Calif., also said on Wednesday it has raised $11 million, including $5 million from Craton Equity Partners.
Plugging in an appliance such as a refrigerator or dishwasher into this "power node" means its energy use can be monitored and remotely controlled.
(Credit: GreenWave Reality)
GreenWave Reality was founded by tech veterans who most recently worked at Cisco's consumer business group, which sells Linksys routers and other products. The company is seeking to apply the focus on low cost, standards, and ease-of-use from the consumer electronics field to home energy, according to CEO Greg Memo.
Its home energy management package is a combination of hardware and software, including an application to view and control home energy use and a set of devices, such as a small energy display and wireless power strips, to create a wireless network of plugged-in appliances. GreenWave Reality has also developed an energy-efficient LED bulb which can be controlled by its home automation network.
"What we really created is a platform, an energy-management platform where products will work with our infrastructure but you can extend it to whatever devices you like. The light bulb is a good example of that," Memo said.
But don't expect to find these products on retail shelves anytime soon. GreenWave Reality is betting that utilities are the best channel to bring these products to market. The company's gateway product uses Zigbee to communicate with a utility smart meter and either the Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols for the home network of connected devices.
Items plugged into the company's network-enabled power strips and plugs allow them to connect to the system. A starter kit will cost about $200 and include access to a Web portal, which can also be accessed with in-home display or smartphone applications for the iPhone or Android. The LED bulb will be the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent and cost about $20 by the end of the year, Memo said.
The GreenWave software includes settings, such as night or away modes that turns off lights and appliances at a certain time. People can also view electricity consumption room by room.
Studies have shown that regular energy monitoring helps people shave electricity bills by 5 percent to 15 percent, which can improved by automatically turning off lights o

Friday, June 11, 2010

CSI New York

New York, United States -- A solar power bill pending in the New York State legislature would create thousands of green jobs and billions of dollars in economic output for the state, according to a new report released this week by Vote Solar.
A coalition of organizations – including Vote Solar, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Solar Alliance, the Apollo Alliance, and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York – urged state legislators to pass the Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act and make New York a leader in the nation’s growing solar economy.
By supporting the development of enough solar to power about one million homes by 2025, this legislation would drive significant economic opportunity in the state while adding less than the price of one postage stamp to New Yorkers’ monthly energy bills.

  • Job Creation: 22,198 direct and induced jobs.
  • Economic Output: US $20 billion dollars. This includes wages, salaries and revenues that can be reinvested into the state economy.
  • Average Residential Electric Bill Impact: $0.39 per month.
Click here to read the full text of the report and additional information about the Solar Job Act.

"There's nothing more important right now for New York than new jobs -- and expanded use of solar power is an important way to create the new jobs and the clean energy we need. Our conference has worked to strengthen New York's leadership on renewable energy, and we will continue that effort. More solar means more jobs -- and more renewable power to support economic renewal statewide," said State Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson (D, Brooklyn).

The New York Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act of 2010 (S.7093a/A.11004) provides a policy roadmap for jumpstarting a new solar industry and economy in the state. The legislation requires each New York retail electric supplier, the New York Power Authority, and the Long Island Power Authority to annually procure a certain amount of solar electricity, which represents a gradually increasing percentage of their sales through 2025.
Scaled statewide, this amounts to about 5,000 megawatts (MW) of solar energy over the course of the program, which is enough to power approximately one million homes. The bill also supports a broad diversity of business models, developers, and system sizes so that industry growth can occur in all market segments.

The analysis used inputs and assumptions drawn from real-world experience of New York solar installers. A strong new solar energy market would likely also support a new in-state manufacturing base and associated economic benefits, although such manufacturing development was not included in this report. In order to quantify the potential rate impacts of the Solar Jobs Act, Vote Solar engaged an independent consultant, Crossborder Energy.
This analysis used historical Public Service Commission (PSC) rate data from across all New York utilities and customer classes to extrapolate expected rate trends for the lifetime of the proposed solar legislation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Time to modernize our energy

SAN BRUNO, Calif. -- Over the past several months we have witnessed both human and environmental tragedies from our over-dependence on fossil fuels. The coal miner deaths in West Virginia, the oil-platform deaths in the Gulf of Mexico and now the unprecedented ecological disaster from a massive oil spill are all too vivid evidence of just some of the collateral damage that results from outdated energy policies. How many pictures of dead seabirds and oil-soaked coastlines do we need to see before we embrace new energy sources that will both reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and create new and better jobs?
Our ancestors once gathered and burned firewood when they needed heat for their homes or fuel for cooking and rode on the backs of animals when they required transportation. Evolution and innovation led us to devise better, more convenient and reliable means to accomplish the same ends. But at a time when technology has led to revolutions in nearly every area of life, we still largely burn things to make energy and provide mobility.

Friday, June 4, 2010

623 Miles in Electric Car on One Charge

(Credit: Japan EV Club)
car group in Tokyo recently drove an electric car 1,003.184 kilometers (about 623 miles) on a single charge, breaking its own record for greatest distance traveled without recharging.
The Japan Electric Vehicle Club has asked Guinness World Records to certify the event, held at a track in Shimotsuma, Ibaraki Prefecture, last month.
The modified Daihatsu Mira ran on a Sanyo lithium ion power system containing more than 8,320 batteries. The car ran for 27.5 hours at about 25 mph. Seventeen drivers took turns at the wheel.
Guinness recognized the club's 345-mile journey from Tokyo to Osaka in November 2009 as the longest on a single charge, according to Kyodo News.
I'd like to know how many times the drivers stopped--and how this affected battery performance. Also, how do you fit more than 8,320 batteries (albeit small ones) into a car as tiny as the Mira? I doubt that there was much leg room left.