Recent Posts:

Feed-In Tariffs and Why They Stink

Michael Kanellos: February 20, 2009, 3:36 PM
The U.S. doesn't have an ideal solar policy, but at least it avoided the mistakes of Germany and Spain when it comes to feed-in tariffs. Earlier this week I spoke to Travis Bradford of the Prometheus Institute (Travis also writes reports for Greentech Media) and he reminded me why feed-ins aren't the perfect vehicle for promoting alternative energy. It's a good reminder because states and several national governments are tinkering with their policies right now. The problem with feed-ins is that the government tend to set the price of power from alternative sources relatively inflexibly. If set too high, it creates a boom in solar panel sales. Thus, taxpayers fund a solar...

China to Build Its First Solar-Thermal Power Plant

Ucilia Wang: February 20, 2009, 1:31 PM

China plans to start building its first solar-thermal power plant next month, a pilot project that the government hopes will pave the way for building at least 150 megawatts worth of solar thermal power projects by 2015.

The China Academy of Sciences will design the 1.5-megawatt project, reported China Daily this week. The academy, along with the Ministry of Science and the Beijing city government, will fund the 100 million yuan ($14.62 million) project in Beijing.

The country has been a hub for making and exporting solar panels, and it's been busy installing solar-panel based systems throughout the country. Now it wants to explore other types of solar technologies. A...

Improving Fuel Economy One Middle Finger at a Time

Eric Wesoff: February 20, 2009, 12:27 PM
Government and private automobile and trucking fleets invest enormous sums in equipment like tire sensors and aerodynamics for improved mileage and safety but  “there’s very little investment in driver behavior,??? according to Eric Weiss, VP of Worldwide Marketing at GreenRoad Technologies. GreenRoad is primarily about auto and driver safety but the same systems that discourage aggressive driving also help their customers harvest the low hanging fruit of improved auto and truck fuel usage. Innovative software and electronics target driver behavior and, according to their empirical data, can lower fuel usage by 11 percent.  According to, aggressive driving...

Orthogonal Vectors

Darryl Siry: February 20, 2009, 11:55 AM
When I decided to leave Tesla last October, I didn’t know what I was going to do next, and I had very little time to figure it out. I had committed to myself to make my exit as smooth as possible for the benefit of the company and there was a lot of work to be done, leaving no time for planning next steps. I did know a few things though: For starters, I was quitting a good job in perhaps the worst job market since I graduated college. But such is life. You can’t always pick the circumstances that you find yourself in, but you always have the choice of how to handle them and ultimately one’s character is defined by the decisions they make when confronted with tough...

Global Cleantech Race Quickens: SEZ to LCZ

William Brent: February 20, 2009, 9:47 AM
China’s amazing surge as an economic power started with the creation of special economic zones (SEZs) nearly 30 years ago, as did my “it’s complicated??? love affair with the country. The zones provided a blueprint for the rest of the country toward accelerated wealth creation. They also marked the beginning of a catastrophic decline in environmental capital. Now the country may be dusting off the SEZ concept and considering the creation of Low Carbon Zones (LCZs). My involvement in the U.S.-China Clean Energy Forum and JUCCCE has put China front of mind, as has my front-row seat in the international race to see who becomes the superpower of cleantech. In the...

Tar Sands: How Much Is Out There and Can Nuclear Help?

Michael Kanellos: February 20, 2009, 9:27 AM
President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week have been enjoying each other's company. The two have discussed tar sands, the goopy, sandy and dirty source of fossil fuels up there in the Great White North. But how valuable are tar sands and can they be extracted? Hyperion Power Generation, the nuclear-in-a-box people, say yes. The company's sealed reactor can produce 70 megawatts of thermal energy, which can be used for separating the sand from the oil. The reactor, as the company has emphasized, is also not made to power condominium complexes and subdivisions. It is made to provide energy to remote, secure, and somewhat off-grid facilities like...

Infringement Issues in an Emerging Wind Power Cottage Industry

Eric Lane: February 20, 2009, 6:45 AM
post on the Green Light blog led me to an interesting Green Inc. story about a new cottage industry -- refurbishing and reselling used wind turbines. As wind turbines have become larger and more efficient, 1980s era wind-farm owners have discarded their old turbines in favor of newer models. A bunch of companies that overhaul and sell used wind turbines have emerged, including Halus Power Systems (Halus), Energy Maintenance Service (EMS), Aeronautica Windpower and Nexion DG.

The first thing I thought of as a patent attorney was the potential infringement liability.  If indeed the turbines at issue are from the 1980s, to the extent they were patented, the patents have...