Cleantech in 2010

A Global Affair with Global Implications

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted January 9, 2010

Welcome to the Green Chip Review Weekend Edition — our insights from the week in everything alternative and cleantech, as well as links to our most-read Green Chip Review and sister publication articles. 

If this first week of the year taught us anything, it's that the cleantech revolution is now truly a global affair with global implications.

France, for example, is grappling with establishing a new carbon tax. Trivial as that may seem, the world is actually looking to them for leadership, as dozens of countries contemplate their own domestic schemes for carbon reduction.

It's a dicey situation because some countries are already part of a system through Kyoto, and adding a domestic system leads to complications. Who gets exemptions? Which sectors/companies fall under which schemes? And so on...


In the U.S., the question now isn't whether or not to regulate emissions, but how to do it. Momentum seems to be waning for cap-and-trade as a carbon tax gains more favor. France's decision could give some guidance.

Continuing the global theme, Kenya (Yes, Kenya!) invited tenders this week for the construction of a 10 GW wind farm after receiving a $28.6 million loan from Spain. Consider this the result of the "poor nation" debate theme a few weeks ago in Copenhagen. We'll start seeing more projects like this one, which will only lead to the further expansion and entrenchment of renewable energy resources.

Imagine renewables leap-frogging fossil fuels in developing nations.

Or imagine renewables taking over in the most oil-rich nations of the world. We've covered several instances of this already, and we learned this week that Qatar is on the cusp of moving forward with a $1 billion solar project.

Even Morocco is in on the action. The country said it will begin taking bids for a solar power plant next month as part of a $9 billion solar energy project. And get this: that project is part of a larger European solar scheme valued at $564 billion. Yes, $564 billion. We'll be sending Sam Hopkins to Morocco later this year to get the investment scoop.

(For now, Sam is headed to South America next week to check out Peruvian stocks — some of the most popular and best-performing among emerging markets on Wall Street. Stay tuned for coverage from Sam's trip delivered to your inbox in the coming weeks.)

Action has stayed steady in familiar markets as well...

Polish state-owned utility, Energa, signed a deal this week to build wind farms with a total capacity of 80 MW. Poland still gets 90% of its energy from coal.

The UK completed its third round of leasing this week for what will eventually be the world's largest string of offshore wind farms, slated for a capacity of 32 GW by 2020. Portugal's EDP Renewables and Germany's E.ON came away big winners. Incidentally, a report by Carbon Trust came out this week saying the cost of that massive project could be cut by 40%, based on new technology and site selection.

Chinese solar continues to soar: Solarfun (NASDAQ: SOLF) said it will increase its production capacity this year; modules will climb to 700 MW from 550 MW and cells will go to 480 MW from 360 MW. An Oppenheimer analyst upgraded the entire sector. (We've been saying it would run...)

Finally, here in the U.S., ethanol seems to be staging a comeback. Production was up in October after months of decline and the Street has been rewarding cellulosic players.

And President Obama announced $2.3 billion in new tax incentive from the stimulus by saying, "The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security."

It looks like the New Year is starting the right way. You can catch the rest of this week's coverage below.

Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge



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