28 February 2011

Review: Evil Plans and The New Capitalist Manifesto

Ever since the financial collapse of 2008, I've sensed a groundswell of an emerging new vision for our economy.

I'm not talking about specific, quick fixes or big government interventions, but a wholesale rebooting away from an economy based upon free credit, cheap oil, and toxic assets.

I'm talking about a new, values-based and highly creative way of doing business, living our lives, and building our world. A better way that unleashes the power of human creativity to do what our species does best: adapt and innovate.

Two new books exemplify this new vision of the world: Hugh MacLeod's Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination and Umair Haque's The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business.

On the surface, these two books appear to have little in common: Haque's is "covered" in crinkled brown paper wrapper, as if the reader should hide this dangerous book; MacLeod's is bright yellow with one of Hugh's trademark purple cartoon monsters practically shouting its subversiveness to the world.

Inside, despite very different writing styles and design, the two authors reveal much more in common.

MacLeod's premise is we should "unify work and love," do what we love and we will create real, lasting value. He believes "we are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary."

Haque asks "What are the wellsprings, deep and true, of a more enduring, meaningful, authentic prosperity?" He believes the future of capitalism requires a "more authentic, sustainable, meaningful value for every dollar, rupee, or renminbi spent."

Neither author delivers a blueprint for the future for readers to follow. Rather, they challenge all of us to create our own "evil plan," our own vision of the world we want to live in.

As Haque suggests, "to destroy less, to create more."

Or as MacLeod puts it in one of his chapter titles, "The 'Creative Life' Is No Longer One of Many Economic Options; It's Now the Only Option We've Got."

Buy these books and read them and go create your own future.

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25 February 2011

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 02/25/11

As I write this there's a strong odor of natural gas outside my house. Philadelphia Gas Works has been notified and is sending someone out.  But if you don't hear from me after this post, you will know why.

Speaking of gas...

David Anthony, Managing Partner of 21Ventures, asked Is there a future for hydrogen? in a post in OnGreen.com this week. Seems there are a lot of hurdles for hydrogen and still a l-o-n-g way to go, especially with natural gas being readily available and cheaper for many uses.  I just don't see how hydrogen competes.

Meanwhile, former Google climate and energy technology manager Jeffrey Greenblatt, now of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory imagines the low-carbon energy system of the future: Think Biomass, Not Natural Gas.

Katie Fehrenbacher sees the future of cleantech investing: Cleantech 2.0.

And former South Carolina GOP Representative Bob Inglis says it's Time to Change What We Tax. 

A new study concludes that Solar Power Growth is Up 70 percent worldwide,while Ucilia Wang of Earth2Tech lists 7 Fear Factors That Move Solar Stocks.

Car & Driver does its first drive revie of the Fisker Karma and finds the plug-in hybrid "a beautiful, luxurious machine that goes easy on the guilt."

A Harvard Study Estimates Coal Power Has $300 to $500 Billion in Hidden Costs, while Mireya Navarro of the New York Times' Green blog wonders if carbon trading alive and well? Carbon Auction Yields $16.9 Million for New York.

Dan Yurman, writing in The Energy Collective, talks about the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who argues for recycling spent nuclear fuel: Spent Nuclear Fuel is Actually Full of Energy.

And, finally, The Economist wonders whether so-called "black carbon" can fight pollution and help the climate at same time? Climate Change in Black and White.
Have a great weekend.  Hope to see you next week.

24 February 2011

First Solar: Great Expectations in the Sun

I've lived through the best of times and the worst of times with First Solar (FSLR).

Readers of The Green Skeptic know I've been long FSLR for so long. I'm not giving up now.

The company reports 4th quarter and full-year earnings after the close of the market today.

Perhaps in anticipation, there was a run-up on the stock this morning, although not as dramatic as last week's spike.

Over the past 52 weeks, according to SmarTrend Market Surveillance, shares of First Solar have traded between a low of $98.71 and a high of $175.45. It was trading this afternoon at $164.53, 67 percent above the low.

In the last five trading sessions, the 50-day MA has climbed 0.77 percent while the 200-day MA has risen 0.28 percent, according to SmarTrend.

Consensus seems to be the company will report a 6.7 percent rise in earnings-per-share (EPS) versus the same quarter a year ago.

"Regardless of its earnings report, most investors will be looking at its outlook for the coming quarter and full-year," as 24/7WallSt.com reported this morning. "Thomson Reuters' most recent expectation calls for full-year EPS of $9.10 on revenue of $3.76 billion, substantially more than 2010 full-year expectations for EPS of $7.63 on revenue of $2.6 billion."

FSLR beat the last two quarterly estimates, but still got hammered in after hours trading and continued on a downward spiral the following day. (I'm beginning to think my buddy Howard Lindzon puts the kabosh on the stock when he mentions it -- sort of like the Cramer effect.)

Here's why I still believe in FSLR:

FSLR recently expanded its cadmium telluride supply agreement with 5NPlus to 60 percent by 2013.

They recently signed an agreement to build the largest solar plant in China.

Despite subsidy cuts in Germany and a moratorium on new plants in Italy, FSLR is expanding in the US and Canada, along with the Indian and Chinese markets. The company has recently completed a new German manufacturing facility in Frankfurt.

While FSLR slipped behind China's Suntech (STP) as the world's leading solar manufacturer in 2010, they are still the first company to ship more than a gigawatt of capacity two years in a row -- and they plan to increase global production to 2.7 GW by 2012.

First Solar is still the leader in providing the lowest-cost-per-kilowatt modules, a position they don't seem to be giving up any time soon.

Oh, and there's that little factor of oil breaching the $100/barrel mark.

Looking forward to the earnings report and call.

(Disclosure: I hold a long position in FSLR. This post is for informational purposes only and is neither intended to be investment advice nor an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities.)

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23 February 2011

Canadians More Likely than Americans to Believe in Climate Change?

More Canadians than Americans believe climate change is real, according to two surveys of public opinion on climate change commissioned by the Public Policy Forum and Sustainable Prosperity.

Their findings indicate that belief in climate change among Canadians outpaces that among residents of the United States.

In Canada, 80 per cent believe in the science behind climate change, according to the survey results, compared with 58 per cent in the United States.

Taking it a step further, 65 percent of Canadians believe the government has a role to play in addressing climate change; whereas only 43 per cent of Americans feel that way.

The poll also shows 73 percent of Canadians surveyed are willing to pay to address climate change. Canadians demonstrate a higher degree of support for both cap and trade policies and carbon taxes than the American public. Only 55 percent of Americans in the survey support such measures.

In fact, a majority of Canadians respondents are willing to pay up to $50 a month in extra energy costs to address the issue.

The United States survey was conducted by the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion in Allentown, Pennsylvania and funded by both Muhlenberg College and the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

The Canadian survey was conducted by Leger Marketing in Montréal Québec and was funded by the Public Policy Forum and Sustainable Prosperity, with additional financial support from Internat Energy Solutions Canada.

For more on the survey: Sustainable Prosperity

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22 February 2011

Andy Swan's Finding Your Niche

My pal Andy Swan is brilliant when it comes to making things simple.

Just look at his bio on AndySwan.com:  "I've started and sold two companies. I have investments in some others. I love helping passionate people create wealth."

You'll recall Andy was the mastermind behind the Six Slide Challenge to entrepreneurs last summer. And the Elite Eight for Entrepreneurship.

His latest, posted yesterday, is a Venn diagram for Finding Your Niche.  Love it.

18 February 2011

Green Skeptic LinkFest - 02/18/11 - Bristol Bay Edition

Fishing Lower Talarik Creek, Alaska
Today, I am giving over my entire Friday LinkFest post to an important issue that I was reminded of this week: protecting Alaska's Bristol Bay. 

I want to thank my StockTwits pal Brian Shannon (@alphatrends) for bringing back to my attention this ongoing  threat to one of the world's greatest resources up in my old home of Alaska.

Back in the 90s, I worked with The Nature Conservancy on a deal to protect a significant stretch of one of the greatest fly-fishing streams in the world, Lower Talarik Creek, in the Bristol Bay area in Alaska's southwest.  

Bristol Bay is America’s richest salmon fishery and the heart of a $2.2 billion regional fishing industry. Amazing indigenous rainbow trout grow to significant size in Lake Iliamna, which is fed by the 55-square mile watershed of LTC and other streams in this 1.1 million acre fish and wildlife habitat, and then follow the salmon into the waters during spawning season. 

A proposed a large-scale, open-pit, copper-gold-molybdenum mining operation threatens the watershed of the most productive salmon rivers in the world.

"The people of Alaska came close to blocking the project themselves in a 2008 referendum," according to a New York Times editorial this past Monday. "Three former governors, including two Republicans, and Senator Ted Stevens spoke out against the mine. Industry, however, spent $12 million on advertising about the mine’s economic benefits; that, plus a last-minute pro-mining push by Gov. Sarah Palin and her administration, turned the tide in industry’s favor."

The EPA has announced it will make an assessment of the risks to the bay from mining and other commercial projects.

Here's a link to a National Geographic story on Bristol Bay, to an appeal by the outfitters Orvis, which was a contributor to the Lower Talarik Creek project, and Trout Unlimited's Save Bristol Bay site.

The Nature Conservancy also has some great resources on the importance of Bristol Bay, including a great selection of Salmon Ecosystems and Mining research and a story about the fight from 2009.

Environmental Leader reported last week that Zale Corporation, along with 54 other jewelry companies, with a combined $5.75 billion in annual sales, have pledged not to use gold from the mine.

"Gold will not be the mine's major product," according to the project's backers reported in EL. "The mine will offer 80.6 billion lbs of copper, 5.6 billion lbs of molybdenum, 107.4 million ounces of gold and commercially significant amounts of silver, rhenium and palladium."

The Pebble Partnership was set up by Anglo American PLC and Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd, to promote the benefits of the project, including the potential for jobs and production of precious metals to meet global demand.

While I recognize the need for precious metals -- copper is of particular importance to the green technologies we feature here on The Green Skeptic -- it is unclear whether a project of this size can be developed in a way that will ensure the long-term natural, economic, human, ecological and traditional values of this area.

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17 February 2011

American Voters Want EPA, Not Congress, to Set Standards

Air pollutionImage via WikipediaA new bi-partisan survey released yesterday claims Americans trust the EPA not Congress to protect them from pollution.

The survey was released just one day before the US House of Representatives votes on a bill that would curtail the EPA's ability to protect public health from air pollution.

The American Lung Association (ALA) commissioned the survey, conducted jointly by the polling firms Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (Democrat) and Ayres, McHenry & Associates (Republican).

What they found was that three out of four American voters support the EPA setting tougher standards on specific air pollutants, including mercury, smog and carbon dioxide, as well as setting higher fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty trucks.

Perhaps most relevant to the current debate in Congress, according to the ALA, is that "68 percent of voters oppose Congressional action that impedes the EPA from updating clean air standards generally and 64 percent oppose Congressional efforts to stop the EPA from updating standards on carbon dioxide."

"Voters clearly recognize and respect the role of the EPA in protecting their families from breathing toxic air," said Paul Billings, vice president for national policy and advocacy at the American Lung Association. "They don’t want Congress to interfere with the EPA's authority to take action when lives are clearly at stake."

The House has proposed cutting the EPA’s budget by one third.

"The survey clearly indicates that voters strongly trust the EPA to deal with clean air standards more than Congress," reads a memo from the two pollsters to the ALA. "A bipartisan 69 percent majority believes that EPA scientists, rather than Congress, should set pollution standards. This is despite opposing language arguing that our elected representatives in Congress would do a better job than 'unelected bureaucrats at the EPA.'"

The full survey, along with slides and a memo from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Ayres, McHenry and Associates, can be found here.

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14 February 2011

A Sheep in Hawk's Clothing? Why "Climate Hawk" Doesn't Soar.

We need less hawking, more doing.

My post last week about Climate Skeptics garnered some interesting responses, including this one from my friend David Connell of The Nature Conservancy on Planet Change.

I agree with Dave that it's time for a big tent.  I also agree that environmentalists are guilty of, as he says, being "suspicious of groups that agree with us on climate change but who disagree with us on other social and political issues." 

I've pointed this out before, specifically in the spring of 2005, when Evangelicals caught hell from Environmentalists for weighing in on climate change.  (See my posts here and here.)

On the face of it, the "climate hawk" movement purports to set up a bigger tent, be more inclusive, and not be about environmentalism with a capital "E."

Yet, I'm not sure one can hide standard issue environmentalism behind a "turn of phrase that is all at once American, forward leaning, tough and – because it borrows from a Republican foreign-policy stance – non-partisan," Dave says, and as was suggested by the term's coiner, David Roberts of Grist.org

To me, "climate hawks" feels a bit disingenuous.  It feels – and perhaps this is why they're not seeing the term gain traction beyond the already converted – like the old liberal agenda dressed up in misappropriated Republican clothes. 

(I found myself wondering what Frank Luntz would say about it.  I reached out to him for comment late last week, but as of this posting have not heard back.)

Even the logo is a sheep in hawk's clothing. 

As its designer Joe Immen explained to Co.Design.com, "I also wanted it to stand out and be visible from a distance, so I used bold colors inspired by the Obama campaign.  This whole notion of 'hawkish' references the military and patriotism, which are concepts that have become disassociated from the idea of taking climate change seriously."

Immen concludes, "So the hawk is about making environmentalism seem like it has some toughness behind it, that it’s grounded in reality."  No starry eyed dreamer this hope hawk!

(I'm not even going to comment on some of what Immen says here; it wouldn't be fair. Suffice it to say it is unclear to me how using the colors of the Obama campaign is meant to make those on the right want to be part of it.) 

Alas, as Dave Connell points out, the "few people who do use the term are the same people who have been talking about climate change all along."

So, I'm left with a few questions:

What if more we spent more energy on building the economic arguments for a reasonable, more inclusive approach to energy development? 

What if we focused on the economic arguments for a competitive economic future?

What if we focused on the positive benefits to health care costs of doing something about pollution? 

What if we focused on the positive benefits of the next energy transition -- to society, the economy, and people everywhere?

What if we stopped debating climate change and started to do something?

In other words, less hawking, more doing.  

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11 February 2011

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 02/11/11

Image via climatechangesocialchange
Welcome to the Friday Fights Edition of Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest!

This week we have a lot of links on controversy. It seems the rhetoric is getting hotter than, well, the weather...if not the climate.

First up, The Economist asks, "Are economists erring on climate change?", which was, in part, a reaction to David Roberts' attack on economists in Grist.

Next, as House Republicans take EPA Chief Lisa Jackson to task, as reported in the New York Times, she responds in this Los Angeles Times story.

While a new report by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts and CERES would seem to confirm EPA's position that their power plant rules will spur job creation, the left think tank Center for American Progress tries to make The Business Case for EPA Rulemaking.

Meanwhile, engineers in the UK urge government to act now to "climate-proof" infrastructure, while climate deniers (I refuse to call them skeptics...) are unpersuaded by extra-warm 2010.  

My colleague from The Energy Collective's Advisory Board, Mark Gunther, sat down with NRG’s David Crane and got some straight talk about energy, and Tyler Hamilton of the Clean Break blog acknowledged Canadian VC Chrysalix Energy as one of most active global cleantech investors in 2010: Canadian Cleantech.

And, finally, Eric Wesoff of Greentech Media pits Bloom Energy vs.Cogeneration and finds that cogeneration can achieve better CO2 reductions than the much-hyped Bloom Box: Lost its bloom?

Have a great weekend everyone!

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10 February 2011

RIVERFIRST Project Considered River's Needs in Minneapolis

"What if we looked at the river's needs first?" asked Sheila Kennedy, the architect and designer in a telephone interview. "Our thinking was what's good for the river has got to be good for people and economic growth, if it can be handled sustainably."

The RIVERFIRST Project, led by the Tom Leader Studio (TLS) and Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd. (KVA MATx), was selected today as the winner of the Next Generation of Parks Design Competition for the Minneapolis Riverfront.

View of Knot Bridge and Scherer Park looking North

The sponsors, including the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, along with creative partners the University of Minnesota College of Design and the Walker Art Center, called for proposals that developed "new opportunities for connectivity, sustainability, infrastructure, and public space" along a stretch of Mississippi riverfront through the heart of the city.

Invited design teams included STOSS of Cambridge, MA, the Ken Smith Group from New York, and Turenscape of Beijing. (You can see all finalists' presentations at: Minneapolis Riverfront Design.)

TLA/KVA's RIVERFIRST stood out, according to jury-member David Fisher, Superintendent Emeritus of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

"The team grounded their proposal in proactive outreach to the community, demonstrated extensive research, and posited several multi-layered solutions unique to these 11 miles of riverfront and the habitat, communities, businesses, infrastructure, and culture intrinsic to our region," Fisher said.

Some of the river reaches have been in bad shape for years, others started to make a comeback in the wake of regulations that cleaned up industrial practices along the river in the 1970s.

Still, there are impacts from melting snow and ice carrying street salts, homeowners using phosphate-laden dishwashing detergent in the watershed, and storm water runoff.

TLA/KVA and its partners conducted a comprehensive storm water management plan for the city, including opening up and day-lighting water in pipes that feed into the river, according to Kennedy of KVA.

The team then designed plantings to act as a natural water treatment facility, including wetland plants and trees that are native to the Upper Mississippi floodplain, such as weeping willows, cedars, and cottonwoods.

"We also wanted to change the way people interact with the river," said Kennedy. "Especially in reaches that had previously not allowed pedestrian access."

The need for greater connectivity, perspective, and access led to the creation of a series of rising berms providing an overlook of the river, and a mobile app and solar-powered Wi-Fi network called "River Talk," which allows for an interactive experience of the river's ecology along strategic points.

Real-time water monitoring from the Minnesota USGS website will be made available via energy-efficient illumination along Knot Bridge linking the Northeast Arts District with the proposed River City Innovation District and Downtown.

"The idea is to link physical bridge connections -- between the west and east sides of the river -- with connectivity to the digital world," Kennedy related.

"The Project is a big responsibility," she said. "We tried to take it seriously, but more to the point, we tried to imagine the river as a municipal ecosystem services provider."

What RIVERFIRST will provide when the project is completed, is reclamation of the river for the communities of Minneapolis, one that matches the needs its people with the river.

(Images courtesy of KVA MATx)

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09 February 2011

Trying to Change a Climate Skeptic's Mind? Don't Bother

If I had a dollar for every time a self-proclaimed "climate hawk" or environmentalist said they had the key to convincing "climate skeptics," I'd create a pretty awesome adaptation and innovation fund that could invest in more worthwhile pursuits.

My good friends at The Nature Conservancy's Cool Green Science blog are usually pretty level-headed as far as environmentalists go. And today's post actually has some pretty good links and resources for information on the science of climate change.

Yet, the title sends the wrong message: "How to Change a Climate Skeptic's Mind."


I'm not convinced it's worth the effort. I also think there are three reasons the public doesn’t see eye-to-eye with scientists on climate change:

1.) People don't trust "Science," with a capital S.
2.) Environmentalists rely on fear as a motivator.
3.) The culture of NOW: climate change impacts are not immediate; concerns over health, safety, finances are immediate.

"Climate deniers" (I won't call them skeptics, for obvious reasons) are preying on all three points, just as good marketers will. They know how to hit home. The reaction from the so-called "climate hawks" is to promote the crisis with more panic.

And the climate scientists react with more...well, science.

What's wrong with this picture?

Fear is a good motivator when the danger is immediate. We've survived many encounters with predator species in our long evolution. Fear helps us respond to immediate threats – and quickly.

Over the long-term, however, fear breeds inertia. While the arguments continue, the climate changes, and we lose our share of the new economy. Nothing gets done.

As for the science, it needs to be simple, transparent, and backed up by real-life examples rather than datasets and models. People don’t respond to data and models, they respond to real, tangible things that touch their lives.

In his recent book, Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter opines that Americans mistrust institutions and especially the institution of science more today than ever before, believing that it's a political constituency that doesn't always have our best interests in mind.

We shouldn’t be talking about trying to "convince," but rather to trying to show. (Remember that old adage about showing not telling?)

Finally, the message must come from someone other than a liberal politician or member of the choir. It is too easy for people, the media, etc., to dismiss climate change and the environment as a "left issue."

It is a universal issue and will require a universal response.

I think Evan Girvetz, the blogger and a senior scientist with The Nature Conservancy’s Global Climate Change Program, was actually onto something with an earlier post called "Translating How Climate Change Will Impact Your Backyard."

At least that post brought the potential impacts closer to home.

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07 February 2011

Why Does Energy Efficiency’s Promise Remain Unfulfilled?

Jon R. Luoma, a contributing editor at Audubon, tries to explain why the promises of energy efficiency haven't been fulfilled in latest Yale Environment 360:

Among the many measures the world can take to wean itself off fossil fuels, few match the benefits of making homes, business, and cars more energy-efficient. But financial and psychological barriers have kept individuals, businesses, and governments from realizing efficiency’s great potential.

Read the full post here: Energy Efficiency
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05 February 2011

President Obama Speaks at Penn State About Clean Energy

Last Thursday, President Obama spoke at Penn State about "encouraging and investing in innovation and clean energy technologies to create new jobs, grow the economy, and win the future."

Here is a video of the speech:

And here is a link to a transcript of the speech: Obama at Penn State

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04 February 2011

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 02/04/11

Going to extremes this week -- from Florida, where it was in the 70s-80s to Philly and ice, ice baby...

The storm that rocked the Central Midwestern US and Northeast missed us, but would you look at that satellite image (at right)?

Here are some links for this week:

Katie Fehrenbacher of Earth2Tech asks, Are Consumers Ready for Home Energy Management in 2011?

John Thackara, writing in Design Observer, suggests WWF's Energy Report takes "global energy needs" as a given, but ignores the true costs of deploying renewable energy infrastructure: Renewable Energy: Salvation or Snake Oil?

The BBC's environment reporter Richard Black has a look at a Nature Conservancy report published in the journal BioScience and finds "one of the starkest conclusions I've seen about humanity's relationship with the oceans"..."Globally, 85% of oyster beds have basically disappeared.": Oysters clear seas for local remedies.

Teryn Norris of Americans for Energy Leadership catalogs The Rise of Innovation Hawks.

FrumForum's David Frum takes on Obama's 'China Envy.'

And, finally, you must read Umair Haque's "Ten Things You're Not Allowed to Say at Davos."

Have a great weekend!

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03 February 2011

Tendril, UISOL, PJM Partnership Could Benefit Residential Consumers

Managing residential electricity demand and controlling load balances is an increasing problem for PJM Interconnection, North America's largest power grid, especially during extreme weather events and peak demand times.

Now Tendril, an energy platform company we've been tracking here at The Green Skeptic, is partnering with Utility Integration Solutions, Inc. (UISOL), a provider of demand response management and automation systems, on what they call a "Price Response Demand" demo project for PJM.

"This real-world demonstration will show the feasibility and ease with which residential customers can reduce their energy consumption in response to wholesale price signals that reflect grid conditions," according to Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck. "It will also enable utilities to aggregate Demand Response in consumers' homes for better load control, increased efficiency and additional savings."

The project combines Tendril's Connect platform with UISOL’s Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR) price server to allow PJM to test a near real-time program for price response and better manage electricity demand.

If it works, residential consumers will be able to have a better handle on the cost of energy used in their homes and utilities will be able to better manage load balances that can lead to brown-outs or even black-outs during peak usage events.

This latest announcement comes on the heals of Tendril's partnerships with ThinkEco, creators of the "modlet" plug-load management device, and Whirlpool on smart home appliances.

The company also launched Tendril Energize, which they call "the first ever application suite based on proven behavioral science techniques" to provide "persistent consumer engagement in home energy performance."

Tendril and UISOL are demonstrating their PJM project at DistribuTECH 2011 this week in San Diego.

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02 February 2011

US Venture Capital in Cleantech Grows to Nearly $4B in 2010

US venture capital (VC) investment in cleantech companies increased by 8 percent to $3.98 billion in 2010 from $3.7 billion in 2009 and deal total increased by 7 percent to 278, according to an Ernst & Young LLP (E&Y) analysis based on data from Dow Jones VentureSource.

According to the analysis released today, VC investment in cleantech in Q4 2010 reached $979 million with 72 financing rounds, flat in terms of deals and down 14 percent in terms of capital invested compared to Q4 2009.

Solar, consumer products and building materials, and electric vehicles and charging stations led the way in 2010.

Two trends that E&Y spotted are worthy of note because they contradict some of what we've heard on the street concerning energy efficiency and seed investing.

  • VC investment in the energy efficiency segment dropped 9 percent from 2009 to 2010, to $688.99 million through 68 deals.  In Q4 2010, 17 deals were completed in the segment, attracting $196.63 million, a 41 percent decrease from Q4 2009. 
  • Seed rounds accounted for a large number of deals, 18, for 2010, a 125 percent increase in comparison to eight seed round deals in 2009. The share of investment dollars going to second rounds increased from 18 percent in 2009 to 26 percent in 2010. Later stage deals received $2.37 billion or 62 percent of the money invested in this period.

Ernst & Young considers "cleantech" to encompass "a diverse range of innovative products and services that optimize the use of natural resources or reduce the negative environmental impact of their use while creating value by lowering costs, improving efficiency, or providing superior performance."

SOURCE: Ernst & Young

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The Nature Conservancy : Vote for your favorite nature photo

Cherie Palmer
Nelson, New Zealand
Jewelled Gecko, Otaga, New Zealand
"People who care conserve; people who don't know don't care," wrote biologist Robert Michael Pyle.

One of the best ways to connect to and learn about nature is through photography.  Great nature photography inspires people to go out and appreciate wild places or to just take a closer look at what's right in their own backyards.

From now until noon on Monday, February 7th, you have a great opportunity to choose the winner of The Nature Conservancy's 5th Annual Digital Photo Contest.

Which photograph inspires you?

The Nature Conservancy : You Be the Judge
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