The Green Economy Review: Volume 11. October, 2011
In this issue:
As always, we report on green manufacturing starts. Beginning with Ontario:
- Samsung announced that they had chosen London, Ontario as the site for a new solar module manufacturing facility. This is the fourth and final announcement expected from Samsung as part of their agreement with the Ontario government to serve as anchor tenants of Ontario’s renewable energy industry.
- Two wind turbine manufacturing plants were announced for Niagara, the result of an agreement between Niagara Wind Energy Corporation and German manufacturer ENERCON. The exact number of jobs and location of the plants has not yet been made public.
- Ontario Solar Manufacturing formed a strategic partnership with Solarform Canada to focus on growing their presence in the North American solar market while further developing its PV manufacturing facility.
Of course, Ontario isn’t alone in attracting new facilities. In September, Solar grade silicon manufacturer, Calisolar, announced plans to build a new solar silicon production facility in Mississippi.
The market for renewable energy continues to grow at a stunning rate and, according to the U.S. Energy Department's International Energy Outlook 2011, renewable energy is now the world's fastest-growing energy resource. Of note:
- Global investment in renewable energy jumped 32% in 2010 to a record $211 billion. China has become the largest investor in renewable energy projects.
- Germany’s continued push to build out renewables is helping to stimulate demand. As of early September, it was reported that renewable energy now supplies 21 per cent of Germany’s electricity, and solar PVs supply more electricity than hydro. Canadian Solar managed to secure a slice of the German market, thanks to a contract to supply panels for one of Germany’s largest solar installations
- Canadian wind developers should be happy following a report from Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) which found the country is on track to nearly double the amount of wind power projects installed in 2011 over those installed through 2010.
- Samsung projects that the global solar market will total $70 billion by 2020, thanks to falling prices and government support. To support Samsung’s claims, a recent study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that the price of solar PV installations dropped a record 17 % in the U.S. in 2010 and it continues to drop an additional 11% through to June of 2011.
Thanks to strong market demand, renewables continue to attract private capital. Some key developments:
- According to the most recent Green Transition Scoreboard report, global private sector investment in green technologies and companies totaled more than $2.4 trillion between 2007 and the second quarter of 2011.
- Publically-traded Canadian firm, Brookfield Asset Management, is merging of their hydroelectric and wind power assets whcih will reportedly make them the second largest renewable power company in the world, with $13-billion in assets.
- Enbridge Income Fund is diversifying their holdings, following approval from the board to acquire three renewable energy assets, valued at $1.23 billion
- South Korea-based multinational, LG announced plans to invest nearly $7 billion in green projects by 2015, a portion of which will go towards electric vehicle batteries. LG expects their investment will lead to the creation of 10,000 new jobs.
- U.K based Wheb Venture Partners LLP is reportedly planning to launch a third clean-tech fund, through which it hopes to raise $342 million. The second fund, which counts Lord Jacob Rothschild and Simon Robertson, the chairman of Rolls-Royce, among its investors, is set to close next year.
Of course, governments still have an important role to play in accelerating adoption of renewable energy and greater energy efficiency. Recent announcements include:
- London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, launched the London Energy Efficiency Fund that will provide 100 million pounds to help local authorities, schools and hospitals reduce their carbon emissions.
- The Scottish government unveiled plans to invest $110 million to support offshore renewables, expected to create thousands of new green jobs.
- China will invest $313 billion through to 2015 to promote the low-carbon economy which they anticipate will reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 percent from 2010 levels.
- Despite recent controversy over the U.S. government’s loan guarantee program, the U.S. Export-Import Bank has issued a $455.7 million loan guarantee for First Solar to build two solar projects in Ontario.
- Bill Gates is calling on the U.S. government to take an active role in energy innovation.
- Bill Clinton is also calling for greater government investment in renewable energy, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
A number of innovative financing models are also gaining traction. For example:
- A small U.S. nonprofit, Ygrene Energy Fund, announced that they had formed an alliance with some large firms, including Barclays Capital and Lockheed Martin, to fund energy efficiency retrofits for homes and businesses across the United States. So far, Ygrene has won exclusive contracts to market retrofits in a number of communities in the Miami area and expects to finalize a contract with Sacramento next week. Together, it expects to fund $650 million in projects in Florida and Sacramento.
- Google announced a $75 million fund to help homeowners install solar panels. Google will cover the upfront costs and homeowners will then lease the systems from them.
Thanks to the growth in renewable energy and projections for strong demand in the future, countries continue to invest in training both to address a looming skills gap and to maintain a competitive advantage. Recent announcements include:
- Solar Academy International (SAI), opened a new state-of-the-art training facility in Toronto to help create a skilled workforce of solar professionals for Ontario’s expanding green job market.
- The British government has pledged £6.5 million to train engineers in renewable energy and create a new Industrial Doctorate Centre in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE).
- Workers at an ethanol plant in Ohio will receive training funded by the U.S. government. Other Ohio-based renewable energy businesses are also eligible for training funds, part of $6 million pot allocated by The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.
- A Wyoming college will begin offering training in accordance with new EPA regulations which require renovators or others working with lead-based paint in pre-1978 buildings receive certification.
- Minnesota’s “GreenPOWER” job training program, delivered by our U.S. affiliate, the BlueGreen Alliance, is also considered a success, credited with helping hundreds of people in the program’s first year.
- Marin County, California, will continue with their two-year-old green jobs program as part of a state push to provide more workers with environmentally related skills, thanks to an additional $400 million in funding.
The arrival of electric and hybrid vehicles are changing the automotive sector in significant ways and, in so doing, changing the relationship between how we derive energy and transport people and goods. News from last month includes:
- Electric cars, hybrids and the quest for lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles were expected to dominate the Frankfurt Auto Show.
- BMW opened a new hydro-electricity powered factory in Washington State set to produce light-weight bodywork for the new BMW electric and hybrid i-series cars. This is apparently just one example of similar efforts at other BMW factories, as well as those being made by their competitors in the race to green the automotive industry.
- A recent report out of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that electric vehicles could help balance the load on the electricity grid, allowing for more wind capacity.
- Nanaimo is the latest Canadian municipality to add electric cars to their fleet with the purchase a number of Nissan Leafs.
The Green Economy continues to gain traction around the world. Recent developments include:
- As part of China’s commitment of $313 billion towards a low-carbon economy, mentioned above, they introduced a feed-in tariff for solar power to bolster the domestic market, and they are also reportedly sending engineers to Iceland to learn how to tap geothermal resources.
- The Bangladeshi government is reportedly citing climate change as a major threat to the country’s socio-economic development.
- Policymakers and other key decision makers endorsed the Kathmandu Declaration on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development.
- The Scottish government is embracing a green economy strategy for its ability to generate new jobs and growth. The Scots are also reporting a reduction in CO2 emissions thanks to the deployment of green energy.
- A recent United Nations report calls on countries in Asia and the Pacific to embark on a ‘green’ industrial revolution to take advantage of improvements in resource efficiency.
- Poland's Institute for Renewable Energy estimates that the total value of new renewable energy projects could amount to €2.7 billion per year until 2020, for a total of €26.7 billion.
- Taiwan also announced a new goal to generate 12,500 MW of renewable energy by 2030, which they expect will create 110,000 jobs by 2015.
As always, there were a number of other green economic developments and stories that are not easily categorized. Among the notables from September:
- The Wall Street Journal featured an article on need for cities to be part of the environmental solution.
- An article in the Economist makes the case that climate change may be capable of generating the political will necessary to spur regulations that force businesses to spend money and create jobs, thereby bringing the economy to a high equilibrium level.
- A piece in Forbes argues that by not pursuing the clean economy more aggressively, small businesses may be missing out on biggest growth opportunities of our time.
- As part of a pilot program, residents of two U.K villages now receive free renewable energy thanks to a £500,000 renewable grant.
- Renewable energy producers in BC report that the electricity they produce is cost competitive with new electricity produced by BC Hydro.
- A consultants report finds that Alberta, with a sparse population, lots of sun and lots of wind, is well positioned to build out renewable energy.
- A number of NFL stadiums are showcasing green energy installations this season.
- According a recent report, New York has invested $13.9 million in energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects that will produce over $1 billion in economic returns over the next 10 years.
- Members of European Parliament ushered calls for global green economy targets in the lead up to RIO+20.