Wednesday, December 05, 2007

News and notes

Enjoyed this post from BusinessGreen Blog. PR professionals, never an especially welcome guest at the dinner table, have a tough job. But they could make it easier on themselves if, as this post describes, they didn't snail mail (with color picture) a press release hyping Mercedes' new effort at going green.

The House is working hard to pass the revised energy bill. You can't please everyone, but there's a lot of good stuff in here. The increase in CAFE standards has been getting the most press, but three keys for me are the 15% national RPS (4% efficiency, implemented over a 12 year period), the extension of the production tax credits and the worker training program.

  • The state RPS have essentially guaranteed market demand, and provided some level of mid-range comfort for investors (of all stripes) in renewable energy. Pushing this to the national level will certainly drive demand. The economic impact of this -- given historic supply constraints, existing inertia, need for energy infrastructure investment, etc. -- remains to be determined. While an RPS model encourages the market to find the best technology (as opposed to the government picking), it can lead to various detrimental production, manufacturing and distribution issues if not conducted strategically and gradually, and accompanied by other market transformation legislation.
  • Previous PTC extensions through 2008 have smoothed some of the historic volatility in renewable investment (especially wind), brought on by excessive cyclicality and uncertainty. However, some individuals I've spoken with recently have been getting nervous as we moved closer to the 2008 deadline for extension. This bill would hopefully assuage those fears, and continue the impressive growth in several key renewable sectors in a more stable fashion.
  • As renewable energy has boomed, supply constraints have appeared up and down the respective value chains (turbines, silicon, etc.). Recently, mixed in with the boom in green jobs articles, have been others concerning a delays in private PV solar installation in California due to a lack of qualified workers. The bill throws out the possibility of 3 million green jobs created in 10 years. I've no idea the feasibility of this, but some simple math says thats 25,000 jobs per month, or about 20% of all monthly job creation in 2007. Is that possible?
More (insightful) analysis and perspective on legislative possibilities can be found on Nathanael Greene's sweet blog.

Finally, I really like GreentechMedia's new market taxonomy. Pretty pictures do it for me, especially if they're transposed across an X-Y axis.
We have organized the green-technology market to reflect how the end user might interact with the variety of technologies, processes, applications and services flowing into the field.

Greentech is also developing this open-source style, so feel free to leave comments on the link.

UPDATE: I forgot to include this little nugget, which relates to the comments on green jobs above. In a recently released report, the American Solar Energy Society sees 40 million new green jobs by 2030. The ASES has put out some great research before, and you can find this specific jobs report here. Based on a quick read, most of the numbers come from the Energy Efficiency sector, which they classify as an almost trillion dollar a year industry. Some might view that as a generous definition, but there's some excellent information and case studies in here.

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