Putting up Solar Panels on prominent landmarks is an easy and cheap way to promote Green Energy.In the last few years, a number for prominent places in the world have been installing solar energy in an effort to reduce GHGs and to publicize the clean economy.It advertises the advantages of putting solar panels in powering buildings which account for 40% of the global energy usage.’s Sydney’s Opera House,India’s Golden Temple are some of the other landmarks that have installed solar panels to cut fossil fuel use and encourage the use of renewable energy.White House has also decided to install solar panels next year after a prolonged campaign by green activists.Note White House had earlier installed solar panels during the time of Jimmy Carter and the OPEC Oil Embargo.These has been decommissioned by Reagan reflecting changed energy fundamentals.India’s Parliament House has now decided to go green using solar panels and biomass plants to drastically reduce its carbon footprint.The Indian Parliament generate a huge amount of food waste which will help in powering the biomass plant.
Chinese Monopoly over Rare Earth Elements has Foreign Governments worried
Rare Earth Elements (REE) have become a hot media top with the unofficial Chinese export embargo to Japan.REEs are crucial raw materials for a wide range of industries in the Green and Defense Sectors.The Chinese monopoly over the production and supply of these commodities have made EU and USA thinking of taking the WTO route.However this had not detered China from clamping down on the production and exports.China wants to use these minerals as a strategic resource to force Green companies to relocate to China and transfer hard to get technologies to local Chinese companies.Note while EU and USA are looking to export Green Product to China,the government there has shrewdly only given permissions to companies willing to transfer technology.
Can India take Advantage to become a Leading Supplier
Rare Earth Element Deposits are found in many places in the world but due the Chinese undercutting of prices and lax environmental regulations had all but shuttered every mine in the non-Chinese geographies.Recent Chinese moves have opened up oppurtunities for REE mines as prices have increased by almsot 5-10x in the last few months.Lynas Corp is opening up a mine in Australia while Molycorp is reopening its mine in Mountain Pass,Californa.India also has a long history of production and export of REE . However its production of around 2500 tons is only 2% of the estimated Chinese yearly production of 130,000 tons.
California and the Federal Government have recently approved a number of big Solar Thermal Plants totaling around 2800 MW.These plants utilize Concentrated Solar Thermal (CSP) Technology and uses mirrors and towers instead of normal PV panels.The haste with which these plants are being permitted and approved is mainly due to the expiry of the Treasury Grant Scheme by end of 2010.According the the American Stimulus rules,only Green Projects which have broken ground or spent 5% of their costs would be eligible for the 30% Cash Subsidy.6 Huge Solar Thermal Plants have been approved with the biggest Blythe plant being the most recent.The capital costs for these plants are extremely high at around $6/watt which makes me question their economics.PV panels can be installed at around $3-3.5 /watt which is around 40-50% lower.Despite the higher capacity factors for Solar Thermal Plants and their ability to store energy for a short period,the cost difference is too large.
BYD the Chinese battery and electric vehicle producer made famous after Warren Buffet made an investment has been facing rough times recently.Its falling auto growth,problems with land acquisitions in China and an incoherent strategy has hurt its profits and stock price in 2010.The Company has put on too many hats with investment in various green technologies besides its bread and butter car business.The most ambitious plans of BYD undoubtedly lies in the Solar Energy Business though little details have been revealed.The company is planning to spend 22.5 Billion Yuan on Solar Energy over the next 5 years for which it has already secured financing.The company has started a 100 MW cell plant in the Shaanxi province and plans to expand to 5000 MW by 2015.However its recent travails had made one think that they would have put their aside Solar ambitions .However that does not appear so.
Wind Energy Companies in the Developed Markets have taken it on the chin in 2010.Companies dependent on the Wind Energy Markets in the West like Vestas,Gamesa,Suzlon,Iberdola Renewables etc. have had a very bad 2010 as their stocks price keep finding new lows.A Combination of Tough Financing Markets,Low Gas Prices and Declining Electricity Demand has made the livers of Wind Executives hellish in recent times.More competition in terms of Chinese heavyweights like Sinovel,Goldwind and Koean shipbuidlers precludes an easy recovery.Green IPOs in recent times have faced huge volatility with some managing success while others have led to huge losses.China’s Ming Yang Power which is a Chinese Turbine Manufacturer has seen a 30% erosion of its IPO stock price of $14 as it was priced a tad too aggressively.First Wind which is a bit different being a Wind Energy Developer similar to renewable energy developers like Enel Green Power,EDF Novellas might face a frosty reception as well.Its not a good time to be in the wind energy business as increasing competition and declining demand cause problems.Note John Deere sold off its Renewable Energy Arm for a bargain as US Climate Change Legislation seems stuck in an everlasting limbo.Without a Federal RPS and an expiring 30% Treasury Cash Grant for Wind Farms,2011 is very uncertain for Wind Energy in the USA.
Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) Technology Gaining Ground
Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) Technology has found some favor in 2010 with some major projects and investments coming its way.CPV Technology which is a poorer cousin of its more illustrious PV Technologies like c-Si and Thin Film has found some attention with its low cost and high efficiency.US Startups like Amonix,Solaria have found some traction bagging some big projects backed by financial investors.Concentrix Solar backed by European Specialist Wafer Producer Soitec has recently announced a partnership deal with US Energy Efficiency Leader Johnson Controls.With c-Si Technology fast reaching its Efficiency Limits,CPV is looked upon as the way forward for the Technology to progress.CPV Technology works by concentrating the energy of the sun through optics and has the potential to dramatically cut the costs as it uses much less materials.The Technology slowed down because of the polysilicon price crash but has found increasing attention in the past few days