April 2009 Archives

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released last week a special report forecasting the impact of the Stimulus (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) on the renewable energy industry.

This is the first time the EIA has issued its energy forecast report in April--normally the reports go out as end-of-the-year summaries.

The report's data were organized according to two scenarios:  one, based on the impacts of the federal Stimulus across energy production, consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; the comparative summary was modeled on a scenario examining similar areas as if the Stimulus didn't happen.

The biggest renewables winner under the $787 billion Stimulus appears to be the wind energy sector, which will be more than doubled compared to a no-Stimulus scenario, with 286 billion kilowatt hours of production forecast by 2012, compared to 86 billion kilowatt hours of production forecast under no Stimulus.

Other sectors, including PV solar and geothermal energy are forecast to experience significant gains from the Stimulus, on the order of 15-16 percent growth by 2012 to 2013.

The US Department of Energy under the Stimulus is providing $42 billion in grants for renewables and energy efficiency, along with more than $130 billion in tax credits and loans.

Overall residential and commercial energy consumption, along with energy-related carbon emissions are forecast to be slightly improved under the Stimulus.

The Stimulus is expected to reduce home heating use by 1.7 percent and cooling by 3.4 percent by the end of the forecast period (2030), saving consumers $64-98 a year on their energy bills. 

Great article in The American Progressive this week from Northeastern University's Joan Fitzgerald on how Toledo, Ohio, has become a mecca for clean tech development, particularly thin-film solar.
Holy Toledo!

Fitzgerald compares Toledo, with its 6,000 solar management, research or manufacturing jobs; 15 research or manufacturing locations; and public-private research collaboration (the University of Toledo--who knew?) with Austin.

You know, Austin, with its forward-thinking 30% by 2020 city renewable portfolio standard. Austin, home of the Clean Energy Incubator that is run in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Texas. Austin Energy, the municipally owned utility that opens up its grid for testing to start-ups and early-stage clean tech companies in solar (HelioVolt) and energy storage.

Turns out Austin has produced and retained, by Fitzgerald's estimates, a few hundred jobs in research and manufacturing and a few thousand in design and construction. Not bad, but worth all the tax incentives and fuss?

The secret sauce for Toldeo was the presence of extensive glass manufacturing facilities and associated know-how (Owens-Corning), a key solar array component.

The state of Ohio also has been boosting renewable energy R&D and job training through an Advanced Energy Job Stimulus Fund. Combine that with an effective privately funded regional growth partnership, and you have the right stuff to retool rustbelt facilities and workers for the 21st century. Upon that setting grew the nation's largest and most cost-competitive thin-film solar manufacturer First Solar, along with Xunlight and Solargystics.

The story of Toledo's clean tech industry goes far beyond the shores of Lake Erie into Asia, Europe and other global locations, where Toledo-based companies are setting up manufacturing and distribution operations to supplement US production.

So now when you think of global clean tech incubation centers, think of Austin, along with the Silicon Valley, Boston, Denver, and Southern California. And then dream of what can be done for the economy of our nation's metro regions based on, yes, The Toledo Model.


South Korea is planning on an ambitious "High-Growth Low-Carbon" economy aimed at making its clean technology industry and sustainability know-how central to what is the world's largest Green New Deal. Come August I'll be taking the stage in Incheon, South Korea at the Global Environmental Forum to discuss the merits of such a strategy.

Other speakers at the Global Environmental Forum will include a nexus of the greatest institutional, political, scientific and business forces trying to fight global climate change in the midst of a global recession:
  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
  • California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Sir Nicholas Stern (he of the famed Stern Review)
  • John Chambers, CEO of Cisco (Think that's a non-sequiter? Check out Cisco's "Connected Cities" and "Vision 2030" initiatives).
South Korea is planning on spending the greatest proportion of its national budget on clean tech development and infrastructure of any developed nation. To provide an idea of proportion, the US stimulus passed in October 2008 provided 11.5 percent for the green economy and the most recent ARRA provided a similar percentage out of the $787 billion total.

South Korea's green portion of its national stimulus passed last year was closer to 90 percent (see slide 32 of 33).

President Lee Myung Bak has allocated 50 trillion won (equal to 3.77 trillion dollars) by 2012 for renewable energy development, water infrastructure and water related technologies so the nation can "take the offensive" in combating climate change while meeting fast-growing global clean tech demand.

I'll be on a panel at the Forum examining "Climate Change and Urban Sustainability" with former EPA chief Christine Whitman. It will be my third tour of South Korea in 18 months. My tours have focused on speaking about how to measure city sustainability best practices with national, university and local officials.

About the Author

    Warren Karlenzig
Warren Karlenzig, Common Current founder and president, has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (lead co-author United Nations Shanghai Manual: A Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century, 2011); United Nations Center for Regional Development (training of mayors from 13 Asian nations on city sustainable economic development and technology); provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong, China (urban sustainability master planning and green city standards); the United States White House and Environmental Protection Agency (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations developing policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20 years.

Present and recent clients include the Guangzhou Planning Agency; the Global Forum on Human Settlements; the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the non-governmental organization Ecocity Builders; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations. Read more here.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

May 2009 is the next archive.

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