The Green Economy Review: Volume 11. October, 2011

In this issue:
Green Manufacturing Starts
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.

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.

Markets and Finance
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:
  • 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.
  • 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:
  • 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.
Training and the Skills Gap
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:
  • 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.


Greening the Automotive Sector
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:
International Developments
The Green Economy continues to gain traction around the world. Recent developments include:  
  • 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.
Other Developments
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.
  • 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.
  • 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.