Archive for February 3rd, 2010

Here is a Cleantech article from Mercury News.

“In other tech revolutions of recent decades, Silicon Valley became the uncontested global leader. The region’s ability to innovate its way to the top in cleantech, though, is far from guaranteed. Competition is fierce and global, with trillions of dollars at stake.

One of the valley’s greatest challenges comes from here. China’s drive to be a dominant power in the emerging global cleantech industry was on display one recent morning on the campus of the nation’s third-largest solar-panel maker, Trina Solar. New assembly-line employees, in an exercise designed to instill discipline, marched military-style around the grid-like campus, chanting responses to a drill leader dressed in army fatigues.

But China’s ambitions in cleantech reach far beyond piecing together solar panels. The central government has committed more than $100 billion a year to green technology research. It also has put in place incentives to create markets for everything from electric cars to rooftop solar water heaters to jump-start homegrown cleantech companies.

Provincial and local governments also are investing heavily in cleantech. Leaders in Jiangsu Province, where Trina Solar is located, are placing big bets on the solar industry, inspired by the municipal government of Wuxi. That Jiangsu Province city financially backed Suntech Power, now a global solar leader.

“China is moving very aggressively,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said during a visit to Google’s Mountain View headquarters last fall. “They want to be a leader in this new industrial revolution.”

A group of valley tech executives, including former Intel CEO Andy Grove, recently sent a letter to Chu urging the energy secretary to “sound the alarm bell to make America aware — clearly and unequivocally — of how rapidly other nations, particularly China, are moving on clean energy.

“Unless we move quickly and commit substantial resources on a sustained basis, we risk becoming an energy also-ran, and risk developing a new dependency,” said the letter, also signed by Michael Splinter, CEO of Applied Materials, and John Doerr, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers.

They urge the government to provide financial assistance to clean energy industries, including incentives for replacing polluting power plants with renewable sources of energy.

U.S. is lagging

Currently, only five of the world’s top 30 companies in the solar, wind and next-generation battery markets are based in the United States, according to John Denniston, also a partner with Kleiner.

U.S. government incentives — such as tax breaks and a regulation requiring utilities to buy power from solar and wind energy companies — were slowly eliminated in the 1980s after helping California become a global cleantech leader, said Ryan Wiser, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Around the same time, Denmark, Germany and Spain — whose governments adopted policies and incentives to jump-start cleantech enterprises — were emerging as global leaders.”

Read the full article here.

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