There are thought-provoking stories from all over the world that Greentech Media comes across in the realm of clean energy and sustainability. On Our Reading List highlights our favorite recent finds.

  • An opinion piece from just last week seems dated already, as Solyndra’s CEO and CFO announced they will plead the fifth. But the argument from William Galston at the Brookings Institution isn’t really about Solyndra, but about clean energy development as a whole. Solyndra’s technology would likely never be commercially viable, as Eric Wesoff has reported here at Greentech Media, but Galston argues that other clean energy will almost never be competitive with fossil fuels as long as external costs, such as environmental and health costs, of fossil fuels remain on the sidelines. It is an important point, although sadly Galston stops short of providing suggestions on how external costs might truly be integrated without a carbon tax. Hopefully Galston is wrong about the playing field of the future, and clean energy will continue to see costs come down and competition increase.
  • We were interested to find this story on alleged wind turbine IP theft at American Superconductor. The company claims that China’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer, Sinovel, paid an employee in Austria to hand over parts of the software code. Sinovel, once AMSC’s largest customer, denies the charges and alleges that AMSC failed to meet contract requirements. If AMSC can prove their case, “All I can say is -- wow,” gasps one GTM Research analyst.  
  • Speaking of IP, a recent blog post by Marie Hatter at Cisco weighed in on the fact that there just aren't that many women in information technology. Ditto in utilities and energy. We were pleased to see one GridWeek panel that had more women than men, but we look forward for the day when that is so common, it’s not even worth tweeting.
  • What the heck is this new initiative about reducing food waste all about? It is a lofty goal indeed, as Americans throw away an insane amount of edible food every year. The New York Times reports that the Grocery Manufacturers Association heads up the alliance and the Food Marketing Institute and groups like Feeding America are also involved. Is this a long-overdue initiative or a vague PR stunt? We don’t know, but hopefully it’s the former.
  • One of this year’s 'genius' grants (handed out by the MacArthur Foundation) went to Shwetak Patel, a computer scientist that has developed sensors to measure home energy and water use. Another entry to the home energy monitoring world? It looks that way, as the technology could be marketed as soon as this year.
  • On a lighter note, it’s not just the grid that we’re excited to see getting smarter. MIT recently announced that it had made smarter robot arms. We anxiously await the day when a robot can do the dishes sitting in the sink at Greentech Media’s Brooklyn office. And, on an even lighter note, unrelated to anything, a group is seriously calling for Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling its Schweddy Balls ice cream, according to NPR. From unstable economies to war to environmental disasters, surely there’s something better to protest than delicious ice cream.