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November 28, 2011

Seven Green Tech Advances to Appreciate This Holiday Season



Holiday season is in full swing, and we’re grateful that those of us reading this (and writing it) are still here and in the spirit to celebrate the annual holiday with friends, family, and our local communities. Since last November, there have been some fascinating new developments in green technology, as well as forward-thinking climate legislation, and opportunities to directly or indirectly build a growing industry. 

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The following is a list of seven green technology “garnishes” that make me feel even more gratified, as we gather around the table this year.

1.     Green Technology Jobs. A July 2011 report by the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., claimed that America’s “clean energy economy” employs 2.7 million people. While job numbers are always subject to challenge, it’s good to hear that the industry is hiring nationwide as it grows.

2.      New Fuel Standards for Cars and Light Trucks. Calling it “the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” U.S. President Barack Obama proposed new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards on July 29 that will cover cars and light trucks for model years 2017-2025—requiring performance equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) in 2025, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 163 grams per mile.

3.      EPA, USDA Partner to Upgrade Rural Water Infrastructure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have joined together to protect the health of Americans by improving rural drinking water and wastewater systems. Nationwide, small water and sewage treatment facilities with limited funding and resources face challenges, due to rising costs and aging infrastructure. The August 8 agreement will send federal resources to support communities that need assistance and promote job training to help put people to work, while addressing the growing workforce shortage in the water industry.

4.     Rooftop Solar Panels at Bargain Basement Prices. The upside of a global competitive rivalry that is putting financial pressure on solar manufacturers (such as that sustained by Solyndra) is a drop in solar panel pricing at consumer endpoints. In September, the The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released findings of a study that show, from 2009 to 2010, the price of a residential solar electric system fell 17 percent to $6.20 per watt, or a $1.30 decline. Measured from 1998, the installed costs fell 43 percent. The data is garnered from more than 100,000 installations of commercial and grid-tied residential solar panels, which are usually less than 10 kilowatts in capacity.

5.     Smart Meters Gain Market Scale.  Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC Energy Insightssaid global smart meter shipments reached a new high in the second quarter of 2011 with shipments growing 4.1 percent over the first quarter of this year. Globally, smart meter manufacturers shipped 5.6 million smart meters, bringing the total installed base to just under 90 million. The IDC (News - Alert) Energy Insights Worldwide Quarterly Smart Meter Tracker results show that the smart metering industry is entering a period of global expansion and forecasts that the global installed smart meter base will reach nearly 490 million meters by 2015.

6.     The Clinton Global Initiative. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is getting it right, with an initiative that encourages both micro- and macro-aid projects that bring green technology to people in need.Since CGI (News - Alert) was established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, its Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 current and former heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which have already improved the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued in excess of $69.2 billion.

7.      Google (News - Alert) Finds ‘Hot Pockets’ of Geothermal Energy in North America. A three-year research project, executed by Dallas-based Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Laboratory and funded by a $10 million grant from Google.org, documented substantial geothermal resources across the United States; capable of producing more than 3 million megawatts (MW) of green power —10 times the installed capacity of coal power plants today.


Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News - Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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