Short takes – on green competition

Here are some interesting stories on green tech competition that have popped up while we were gone:

From the Daily Telegraph in the UK – China powers ahead as it seizes the green energy crown from Europe:

China is running away with the green technology prize. It has conquered a third of the world market for solar cells and is on a breakneck course to build 100 gigawatts of wind turbines by 2020, doubling again the global capacity for wind power across vast stretches of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang.
. . .
German pioneers Solarworld and Conergy allege foul play and have called for EU sanctions, accusing Chinese rivals of practices that “border on dumping”. China’s finance ministry says it intends to cover half the investment cost of solar projects. It is a life-and-death moment for the German solar industry, pioneers who provide 75,000 jobs and once led the world. “A large number of German solar cell and solar module producers will not survive,” said UBS’s Patrick Hummel.

From the New York Times – China Outdoes U.S. in Making Solar Products

Backed by lavish government support, the Chinese are preparing to build plants to assemble their products in the United States to bypass protectionist legislation. As Japanese automakers did decades ago, Chinese solar companies are encouraging their United States executives to join industry trade groups to tamp down anti-Chinese sentiment before it takes root.
The Obama administration is determined to help the American industry. The energy and Treasury departments announced this month that they would give $2.3 billion in tax credits to clean energy equipment manufacturers. But even in the solar industry, many worry that Western companies may have fragile prospects when competing with Chinese companies that have cheap loans, electricity and labor, paying recent college graduates in engineering $7,000 a year.

Then there is this story from Gizmag on how a new technology being developed at the University of Texas, Austin that may make all current solar tech obsolete — Plan to turn rooftops, walls and windows into cheap solar cells:

Cheaper solar cells – roughly one-tenth the cost of current day prices – could be available within three to five years thanks to a manufacturing procedure that uses nanoparticle ‘inks’ to print them like newspaper or to spray-paint them onto the sides of buildings or rooftops. Even windows could become solar cells thanks to the semi-transparent inks.

Let’s see, 3 to 5 years puts it at about the same point at which the Chinese solar companies say they will be at “grid parity” with fossil fuels. Could be interesting.

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