Recent Posts:

Polysilicon Production Grew in Q4 for Solar, Reported SEMI

Ucilia Wang: March 11, 2009, 1:31 PM

Polysilicon producers shipped about 12,600 metric tons of their products in the fourth quarter of 2008, a 7 percent growth from the previous quarter, according to the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI).

SEMI, an industry group, said the companies increased their production to meet demand from the solar industry. The semiconductor industry has been in a deep funk over the past year, thanks to the battered economy. Polysilicon is the raw material for making chips, which are found in all electronic devices. The material also is used to make solar cells.

The solar industry isn’t immune to the financial market turmoil, and many solar companies didn’t fare so...

Catilin Gets $150K to Test Biodiesel Catalyst

Jeff St. John: March 11, 2009, 11:40 AM
Catilin has landed $150,000 to put its test biodiesel plant into continuous operation — not to scale up to commercial-scale production, but to prove its catalyst technology can help other biodiesel producers make fuel for less money. The Ames, Iowa-based startup is developing a catalyst for other biodiesel makers, one that it says beats existing catalysts on the amount of water, energy and toxic additives needed to turn oils to fuel. The solid, granular catalyst — different from liquid catalysts used today — can also be recycled for multiple uses, and is based on research out of Iowa State University The stuff also does its job on a variety of feedstocks, including...

Fast Batteries

Matthew Weinberg: March 11, 2009, 10:42 AM
The news that MIT researchers have developed a lithium material that dramatically shortens battery charging times changes the equation for electric cars. It’s a long way from the lab to the showroom, but the battery breakthrough is a big step toward making electric cars eminently practical. Even though most of us drive fewer than 40 miles each day, the ranges allowed by today’s battery technologies are a major psychological barrier. And most of us do drive several hundred miles at a go now and then. Eventually batteries will store enough energy to give electric vehicles the ranges we expect from our cars. Fast-charging batteries could solve the problem before...

Alta Devices: Kleiner’s Latest Stealth Solar Company

Michael Kanellos: March 11, 2009, 7:57 AM
Sources in the 650 area code have told me to keep an ear and an eye out for Alta Devices, a stealthy solar startup that allegedly has received funds from Kleiner, Perkins. Not much is known about the company. I've seen Alta listed as both a software developer and a biotechnology services company. A search on social networks, however, shows that that employees classify it as a renewable energy company and/or a semiconductor company. Solar cells, of course, are semiconductors that produce alternative energy. Employees include senior scientist Gregg Higashi, who used to work at Applied Materials and Intel before joining Alta in 2008. Applied and Intel -- those two names pop up with...

Bush Put Clean Coal and Carbon Capture Back a Decade, Chide Democrats

Michael Kanellos: March 11, 2009, 7:23 AM
Scrapping the FutureGen project was the nadir for me when it came to studying the Bush Administration and energy. The former President was never a pal to the environment or global warming (although scientists close to the White House have told me that George W. was actually more keen on the idea of alternatives than the VP or members of his cabinet.). Still, when the White House turned on the coal industry and canceled FutureGen, a $1.8 billion project to build a power plant with a sequestration facility, I was shocked. Didn't see that coming at all. The problem was a budget issue too. This from an administration that ran up some of the biggest deficits in global history. The...

Ford to Get Piece of AT&T’s $565 Greener Vehicles Plan

Jeff St. John: March 11, 2009, 6:44 AM

AT&T is taking credit for the biggest investment yet by a U.S. company into a cleaner vehicle fleet, saying it will spend $565 million in the next decade to buy 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles.

And it looks like AT&T is planning to buy a significant number of the vehicles from Ford Motor Co., Reuters reported Wednesday.

The plan first calls for $350 million to buy about 8,000 compressed natural gas-fueled vehicles over the next five years. Corporate and government fleets are natural first adopters of CNG as a fuel, since they can supply their own fueling stations — AT&T plans to build 40 new fueling stations as part of its plan.

AT&T said only that it would look to “domestic...

BP Solar Putting in 37MW in New York

Michael Kanellos: March 11, 2009, 6:20 AM
The Long Island Power Authority will buy 37 megawatts of solar panels from BP Solar. The panels will be used to provide power to two locations of the Brookhaven National Labs. The deal will also be linked to a power purchase agreement. BP is one of the biggest solar producers in the world and is trying to be one of the early dominant players in copper-indium-selenide (CIS and often CIGS) solar panels. Still, the crunch has hit it too. Last October, it decided against building a silicon ingot factory. Instead of housing expensive manufacturing equipment, the building will hold offices.