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The S-Curve Index: Week of November 19, 2012

Jill Bunting

This week’s index number is 2017, which, according to the International Energy Agency, is the year the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer. The U.S. is projected to be a net exporter of oil by 2030.

These developments will create a cloudy horizon for stakeholders invested in improving environmental performance. With U.S. energy “independence” within sight, we may see a renewed focus on energy efficiency standards and programs aimed at pushing the U.S. over the line. At the same time, low prices and a sense of plentiful reserves could depress efforts to develop fossil fuel alternatives. This is particularly relevant for countries like China and India, where lower prices for oil and gas will also put downward pressure on the price of imported coal.

This is the first entry in our new weekly series, The S-Curve Index, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability. Click here for more information about the S-Curve and our approach to environmental innovation.  This post was originally published on GreenOrder’s blog.

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The Post-Solyndra Tug of War

TroyAult

Following Solyndra’s recent sudden collapse in the news has felt like running a marathon.  Apparently the company’s executives are now dodging testimony before Congress.  It’s of course spawned plenty of hyper-partisan attempts to spin the issue every which way but at the end of the day, the high profile failure of a heavily subsidized cleantech company has rightfully inspired an important debate around the issue of energy policy.

In an article in the days following Solyndra’s Chapter 11 announcement, CTG CEO Sheeraz Haji hinted that perhaps Solyndra was simply a high risk bet from the start – a bet on a new form factor (cylindrical cells designed to capture sunlight at any angle of incidence) at the precise moment in history when standard crystalline silicon modules were reaching commodity-status and costs were coming down.  Perhaps the company’s technology will simply go the way of the dinosaurs, and standard flat panels (crystalline silicon or thin film) will have won out.  But when the dust and lawsuits settle, Solyndra’s technology could still  be made available to the world – just under another name and likely via a factory in China.

Now, I hate to disappoint, but this is not going to …

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

VinceKnowles

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 …