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December 01, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review



In new green technology developments, as the two-week climate talks in Doha, Qatar reached their halfway mark on Friday with no draft agreement on reduced targets for greenhouse gas emissions or on how to provide aid to developing countries, the frustrated head of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, Christiana Figueres, implored, "My call here is for all of us to act impatiently"—noting that the responsibility should not just be in the hands of the professional negotiators sent by nearly 200 countries. "Each one of us needs to assume responsibility. It's not just about domestic governments.”

Elsewhere in the world, there was more momentum. The transformational energy products of the future received $130 million in financing this week from the U.S. Department of Energy, which will foot the bill for 66 cutting-edge research projects in 22 states through the OPEN (News - Alert) 2012 program. The projects will focus on a wide array of technologies, including advanced fuels, next-generation vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power and energy storage. The incubator program, administered by the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), seeks out leading-edge technologies that show fundamental technical promise, but are too embryonic for private-sector investment. These projects have the potential to yield game-changing breakthroughs in energy technology and form the foundation for entirely new, lucrative industries. About 47 percent of the projects are being led by universities, 29 percent by small businesses, 15 percent by big businesses, 7.5 percent by national labs, and 1.5 percent by not-for-profits.

Chinese solar panel manufacturers are increasingly relying on their home market to replace the revenues that are falling off in the Europe and the United States. Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. told investors who listened in on a conference call this week that it is increasing its sales to the domestic market and expects 20 percent of its revenue to come from China in 2012. Yingli reported, “Our revenues from [the] China market increased from 14 percent in the second quarter to 28 percent of total net revenues in the third quarter, and [are expected] to continuously increase in the fourth quarter.” The company also intends to take advantages of generous Chinese government subsidies. Compared to Q3 revenues of US$667.7 million in 2011, Yingli posted results of US$355.9 in Q3 2012.

Meanwhile, Detroit-based General Motors (News - Alert) is accelerating the development, sales and support of electric vehicles in China, the company’s senior technology professional Jon Lauckner said this week. GM’s ever-more-aggressive EV strategy in Asia will include technological advances, especially in the area of EV batteries; a full spectrum of vehicle choices for customers; nationwide charging infrastructure, and an urban mobility solution. Adding to the vehicle choices available in the People’s Republic, on November 22, Shanghai GM made a splash at the Auto Guangzhou 2012 show, as it rolled out the Sail SPRINGO pure EV, which will be built and sold in China. The new EV is the first production electric vehicle created by a Chinese joint venture between Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center. It is a long-range vehicle, with a top speed of 80 miles per hour, and will be sold at an MRSP of about US$40,000. All of Shanghai GM's new energy vehicles, including the Sail SPRINGO EV, will be sold through an exclusive “Drive to Green” sales network. The first showroom is expected to open in the first half of 2013 in Shanghai. The exclusive sales and after-sales service network will be expanded to key new energy vehicle demo cities, based on local market conditions. Buyers of the Sail SPRINGO EV in Shanghai will enjoy incentives of up to US$9,500 from the central government and US$6,500 from the Shanghai government. In addition, the car will qualify for a free local Shanghai license plate exclusively for EVs.

In Los Angeles, the 2013 Ford Fusion has been named the 2013 Green Car of the Year by the “Green Car Journal” at the auto show. The Fusion emerged on top of a high-performing field of finalists—including the 2013 Dodge Dart Aero, Ford C-MAX, Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV and the Toyota Prius C. Ford Fusion is breaking new ground with five diverse power choices—among them, three efficient gasoline internal combustion engines, including two with EcoBoost technology; a 47 miles-per-gallon hybrid; and a plug-in hybrid that's expected to exceed the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon.

Add one more Smith to the Chicago phone book: Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Smith Electric Vehicles announced this week that the manufacturer of zero-emission commercial trucks and vans is opening a production facility in Chi-Town. The new factory will create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs and boost the rapidly growing battery and electric vehicle sector in the metropolitan area. Smith’s decision to locate a facility in Chicago was influenced by three factors: the Mayor’s innovative voucher system created to accelerate the conversion from diesel to zero-emission, all-electric commercial vehicles; the large number of fleets interested in vehicle electrification; and the development incentives made available to Smith.

Finally, with all apologies to Chicago, Québec also should be dubbed the Windy City. Earlier this month, TransCanada Corporation announced the completion of the Quebec-based Gros-Morne wind farm—the final phase of its Cartier Wind Energy initiative, which cumulatively represents the largest wind farm in Canada. The emission-free Gros-Morne Phase II wind project, powered by 74 General Electric (GE) Class I 1.5-77 wind turbines and located in the Gaspésie section of the Canadian province, can produce up to 111 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, enough to meet the needs of over 20,000 Quebec homes every year.

The five phases of Cartier Wind Energy have a total capacity of 590 MW – enough to meet the needs of more than 100,000 Quebec homes. All of the power produced by the project is sold to Hydro-Quebec under 20-year power purchase agreements. GE is supplying 593, 1.5-77 wind turbines and associated servicesfor wind energy projects in Québec, including Gros-Morne. The projects were awarded as part of Hydro-Québec’s 2004 request for proposals (RFP) to supply the province with 1,000 MW of new wind power capacity by 2012. GE’s local supply chain manufacturing and supplier partners have been integral to the fulfillment of the province’s local content requirements.

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