Friday, January 17, 2014

2014: The maturation of clean tech

Friday, January 17, 2014
Begins a new year for the clean-tech industry maturation is a theme in the sense comes. And when we think of clean-tech not only as a growing global industry, but also as a basic global transition--like so many of their leaders and participants we do - their progress on Gandhi's much-quoted dictum of other transitions in the history of the chart. I am not saying that the growth of clean-tech an exact is analogous to India's struggle for independence from Britain; That would be quite presumptuous on many levels. But with renewable and distributed energy as a metaphorical threat to decades old ingrained ways of doing things, there must be parallels.

"First they ignore you, they mock you, then fight you, then you win."-Mahatma Gandhi
The U.S. solar energy industry, I think the best example of offers for Gandhi's progression. It was virtually ignored for years, with the exception of a small number of followers, and maybe fuss; for a long time, PV technology was solar relatively inefficient and prohibitively expensive. That brought ridicule, but the real phase of derision came much later with the 2012 bankruptcy of Solyndra. I hesitated to write that name, think that the distorted spin, triggered by the very old news now but 60 minutes should be dead and buried it in his Jan. 5 segment called "Cleantech Crash." recovered

In fact ridicule. A better name for the original Solyndra controversy, and often all clean-tech is ridiculous if a choice-driven political agenda denigrates the entire solar industry - after the failure of a Government-backed PV manufacturers. Ignored convenient game fell 50 to 60 percent in less than three years as prices squeezed margins for Panel manufacturers but sparks of the deployment boom of that was long predicted by industry analysts (including us) change this in the solar industry. Affordable mainstream energy, PV decided solar breaking up prices, along with the solar leasing and making contracts, the pioneering work of SunEdison, SolarCity and others, what it is today.

This brings us to 2013 and he "fight" - stage. Utility supports efforts to roll back or eliminate sparked battles in a dozen U.S. States net metering laws, some very controversial. The worst one in Arizona, included even attack show outside of the State groups call SolarCity and SunRun "the new Solyndras." After this battle, won the solar industry? In the way. Arizona regulators in November elected to keep net metering but paid 70 cents per kilowatt rooftop solar user added (about a fee of $8 sought utility Arizona public service).

Solar play this kind of fight supporter of the precedent-setting case (Virginia based utility Dominion also has one) don't like fixed fee for solar customers, and we will see in a number of States in 2014. GTM Research United States solar market insight Conference Dominion VP David Shuford stated bluntly that "last month in San Diego, we make money if we to build things." Load growth, the Dominion needed things, the private utility must protect its bottom line to build and generate solar roofs cutting enough juice in the two percent. But now deceased Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, the same Conference Panel that such rental charges for "solar-distributed nonsensical" and "would not be maintained in appeal" before the Court.

Solar power the maturation has achieved clearly the level of "fight"; It is big enough to be taken seriously. There is a wealth of statistics to the selection in the map solar growth in the boom year of 2013. In the first 10 months of the year, utility-scale solar represented 21 percent of all new generating capacity in the United States; It was 72 percent in the month of October. And in a still never since unprecedented ruling in the first week of the year 2014 a Minnesota judge ruled that the utility is operating a better investment for Xcel Energy expansion plan as a new natural gas capacity.

Wind power, was naturally enough, serious to a while be taken. The U.S. wind industry is now in a new phase of maturation: end of 2013 live without the Federal production tax credit (PTC), is expired. The industry has there, with disastrous consequences, but this time it differs from the last boom-bust cycles of the 1990s and 2000s years. I don't think that the PTC will ever return to its previous form. the industry will likely lobby for some sort of tax subsidy as part of a comprehensive tax reform package. That the long overdue opening of the master limited partnerships for investments in renewable energy projects, the most likely wind parks would hopefully included. Instead of an own PTC, wind turbine, enjoy at least some allow the same treatment as fossil fuels, is the way it should be.

As already mentioned, not me as an accurate analog for clean see Tech Gandhi's struggles. It is not a stage of "Victory" over other energy sources, as clean tech reach It is driven part a large transition away especially that of coal and nuclear power in a future, natural gas, renewables and efficiency.

The movement away from venture capital and Government support is a sign of the maturing of an industry. It's easy on the losses of VC dollars in clean technologies (Tesla and SolarCity despite successes) show and explain the sector a failure - 2014 can bring to attract IPOs of Opower and nest-Labs. But that misses the bigger picture of an industry grew up. Gently cycles are part of this process; It is not just a question of a boom that went bust.

In 2014, a clean-tech is the core utility business model seriously challenge (be on the lookout after our US clean energy suppliers, the benchmarking report with Ceres this year, trying to keep track of this clean energy shift). The first new successful U.S. automaker found in more than half a century. It is an important part of any legitimate discussion of energy policy decisions on local, State and national level in most parts of the world. Clean-tech is still ridiculed and fought, but its days ignored are long in the past.

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