Our future depends on green public investment
SAT MAR 05, 2011 AT 05:00 PM CST
by Meteor Blades
Between 1999 and November 2009, Ohio lost 418,000 manufacturing jobs. And for a long time, well before the recession, Ohio's unemployment rate was higher than the nation's. At 9.4 percent, it still is, but improvement is on the way. And green energy is one reason.
Ohio is one of the many states—targeted by Republicans for whom anything green is a red flag—that has a renewable energy standard. Three years ago, Ohio mandated that, by 2025, 12.5 percent of electricity sold in the state must come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Another 12.5 percent must come from alternatives, such as nuclear power, natural gas and so-called "clean coal." That's going to be an uphill climb since currently Ohio only has 10 megawatts of installed wind-power operations and a little more than that in solar power. A single coal-fired plant typically has a rated capacity 600 megawatts or more.
But there's movement in the right direction in Ohio thanks to operations like Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co., the maker of bolts for wind turbines visited by Barack Obama two years ago just days before his inauguration. That visit was the first of many that the President has made throughout the country—mostly in the Midwest—to tout what is the closest thing the country has to an industrial plan: public investment in green manufacturing and related projects.
In the $800 billion stimulus package, $90 billion was appropriated for this: investments in residential weatherization, public transportation, innovation and manufacturing. Since then, there have been many complaints that most of the money has arrived too slowly, and that the jobs this investment was supposed to create have been too paltry.
The reality is that fully revving up green manufacturing will require many years of public and private investment. And as much as it galls deficit hawks, it will require a great deal more than $90 billion from Washington. The Chinese government is putting $738 billion into green energy alone over the next decade. That's in addition to the vast amounts it's putting into new and rebuilt infrastructure, including modern public transportation.
The environmental benefits of green investment speak for themselves. Less carbon dioxide will be flung into the atmosphere, less toxic waste will be produced, in short, there will be reduced impacts all around. But the impact that gets too little media attention—and then, usually, it's negative—is the long-term impact on jobs. moreAnd while there are some serious USA based corporations getting more serious about production of green technologies, much of that new production capacity will built in Asia.
3M to make solar energy products in China
Article by: SUSAN FEYDER , Star Tribune Updated: April 7, 2011 - 9:27 PM
A new plant will produce a variety of renewable energy products solely for the Chinese market.
3M Co. plans to build a plant in central China that will manufacture solar energy products, a move that expands the company's presence in the renewable energy market as well as its footprint.
The plant in Hefei, an industrial city between the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers, will be 3M's ninth in China. Construction is scheduled to begin in the second quarter.
3M's not alone in taking steps to become a major player in the renewable energy market. General Electric, already the largest maker of wind turbines in the U.S., announced plans on Thursday to build the nation's largest solar-panel factory.
The new 3M facility will produce a variety of renewable energy products, including Scotchshield, a film that protects the backsides of solar photovoltaic modules from moisture and contaminants. The film is designed for crystalline silicon modules, a type of solar panel that's made mostly in China. 3M now produces the film at a plant in Decatur, Ala. The new plant will supply some of those Chinese manufacturers, said Mike Roman, vice president of the Maplewood-based company's renewable energy division.
The new plant follows other recent investments by 3M in solar energy products at facilities in Columbia, Mo., Hilden, Germany, and in Singapore, where it opened a plant in 2009 and expanded the facility last year, Roman said.
3M's involvement in renewable energy goes back to the 1970s, but the company only recently identified it as a major growth opportunity, forming the division in 2009. In addition to solar, the division also manufactures products for the wind, geothermal and biofuels energy markets. At an investor conference in December, CEO George Buckley said the industrywide market for photovoltaic panels was expected to grow by 27 percent from 2010 to 2015. more
And then there are the Germans who seem determined to actually succeed in building a sustainable society. But her sudden closure of eight nukes has thrown energy policy back on the front burners.
Germany can power itself, environment agency says
Published: 6 Apr 11 09:05 CET
Contrary to previous reports that Germany needs electricity from abroad after suspending operations at eight ageing nuclear reactors, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) said Wednesday that the country can power itself.
Nuclear suspension faces court challenge by RWE (1 Apr 11)On Monday, the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) said electricity shortfalls created by the government's suspension were being filled by a jump in imports from neighbouring countries France and the Czech Republic.
The organisation said that electricity flowing from the two countries had doubled, while exports to the Netherlands and Switzerland had been halved, making Germany an overall net importer of electricity.
But the UBA rejected these claims on Wednesday, saying Germany had been importing electricity for cost reasons rather than out of necessity.
“Germany could completely provide for itself,” UBA energy and climate expert Harry Lehmann said, explaining that energy providers have been motivated by cheaper prices abroad.
In the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis following the devastating earthquake and tsunami more than three weeks ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the reactors would be closed for three months and the government would conduct a review of nuclear policy and safety over the same period.
Since that decision in mid-March there has been less affordable electricity available within Germany.
“That is normal in a liberalized European electricity market,” Lehmann said. “Apparently French electricity is currently cheaper than that from Germany’s reserve power plants.”
Additionally, construction on gas and coal-fired plants is underway, which would decrease imports when they begin operating in 2013 at the latest, he said.
Still, Germany must quickly expand its electricity network so that “today more wind power from northern Germany can be transported to southern Germany.” more