cleantech insights

The Rising Tide of Hydro & Marine Power

Thomas Schmitt

When you hear the words “Renewable Energy,” it’s usually solar panels and windmills that come to mind.  Others imagine hydroelectric and biofuels.  And some who really know the sector might think of geothermal or waste-to-energy plants as well.  Not many think of marine power.  Why is that?  Probably because whatever marine energy technologies and projects that are out there haven’t yet reached commercial success.  But that doesn’t mean there’s no real movement on that front.  A quick look at Cleantech Group’s Hydro & Marine Sector reveals hundreds of fledgling technology and project development firms hatching into the blue ocean of a bright new marketplace.

Where is this bright new marketplace emerging, you ask?

Image: Albaimages/Alamy

Just like in the days of empires, when the British ruled the seas with its advanced naval power, the UK is again leading the world in its mastery of the seas with its development of a marine energy industry.  Not only is the UK leading in its development of new, commercially-viable technologies, it is leading in terms of advanced renewable energy policies that are incubating and nurturing the infant marine energy marketplace.  Scotland, in particular, is eager to take on the mantle of leadership in …


Three Gorges Dam: China’s Dilemma

Hans Chen

Think the Chinese Communist Party never admits a mistake? Think again.

The rare occurrence happened earlier this week, when China’s State Council, the country’s Cabinet, said in an official statement that while the Three Gorges Dam “provides huge comprehensive benefits, urgent problems must be resolved regarding the smooth relocation of residents, ecological protection and geological disaster prevention”. This was the first ever official acknowledgement of the dam’s negative impact.

Some background information: Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest capacity hydroelectric dam (total generating capacity of 18,200 MW) located in the mid stream of Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia. Also, it is probably the most controversial water project in the history of mankind, as political, humanitarian and environmental issues were brought up constantly by the opposition.

One would argue that such gigantic hydro power project is not really “clean energy” because the construction itself often has a negative impact on the environment, not to mention the CO2 emission just to produce all the concrete needed. That is a valid argument, of course. But when a country with 1.3 billion people generates 75% of its electricity via coal-fired thermal power, hydroelectric power looks pretty clean.

Many people …

The UK’s Innovative Entrepreneurs can’t go it alone: Government must lead the way with a strong hand


As an analyst with the Cleantech Group, I have been privileged to meet some of the UK’s most creative and committed people: its cleantech entrepreneurs. This small group of innovators are working courageously, often against the odds, to produce the next generation of technologies that will allow society to prosper through looming challenges. If Winston Churchill were born 100 years later he may well have said of these entrepreneurs, “Never in the field of human innovation was so much owed by so many to so few”.

When it comes to cleantech innovation, the UK has much to be confident about: The INSEAD Global Innovation Index ranks the UK 4th in the world for ‘culture of innovation’ and ‘quality of scientific research institutions’ and we have a government that has stated its desire to be the “greenest government ever”. UK cleantech entrepreneurs have benefited from partnerships with world leading universities and a raft of helpful legislation, including the Renewable Heat Incentive, Code for Sustainable Homes and Feed-in Tariff. However they still face significant challenges: in a Cleantech Group research project, conducted in April 2011 on behalf of the Carbon Trust, 29% of UK cleantech entrepreneurs cited …

10 reasons why the UK is a global cleantech leader

Guest Analyst: Shawn Lesser

The UK’s official commitment to cleantech is strong and growing. In its official Renewable Energy Strategy, the UK set a target of deriving 15 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2020.

In keeping with that ambitious goal, the new UK Prime Minister, Conservative David Cameron, has wasted no time in highlighting the importance of the cleantech sector. “I don’t want to hear warm words about the environment. I want to see real action. I want this to be the greenest government ever… I intend to make decisions put off for too long to fundamentally change how we supply and use energy in Britain… To give the power industry the confidence it needs to invest in low carbon energy projects,” he said.

Here are my top ten reasons why I believe the UK is a cleantech leader:

1. The UK government has strong cross party political support for cleantech and climate change. The government recently passed the Climate Change Bill with cross party consensus meaning that the three main political parties in the UK agree that climate change is a serious challenge. Moreover, the Climate Change Act sets ambitious statutory limits on carbon emissions requiring a 34 percent cut …