40 Responses to Energy and global warming news for January 21: Siemens renewables division to add 2,000 jobs in 2011; Clean energy jobs grow strong in greater Minnesota; Buzz builds for “clean energy” standard
Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, will add at least 2,000 jobs at its renewable-energy division this year, as the business expands to meet rising demand for clean energy.
Siemens has invested “hundreds of millions” of euros in wind energy since it entered the industry with an acquisition in 2004, Rene Umlauft, chief executive officer of the unit, said in a telephone interview yesterday. The unit employed 800 people in 2004 and plans to add to its current workforce of more than 7,000, he said.
“We had a record order intake in 2010, and our goal is to increase orders by a double-digit amount this year,” Umlauft said. He reiterated a plan to make the company one of the top three makers of wind-energy equipment by 2012. The renewable- energy unit posted a 23 percent increase in new orders for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the fastest growth among Siemens’s divisions. The order backlog today stands at more than 10 billion euros ($13.5 billion), Umlauft said.
Manufacturing has been hit hard by the recession. But some Minnesota manufacturing companies are thriving and creating new jobs. They’re part of a small sector in the emerging “green economy.”
State officials say more than half of those new green jobs are popping up in areas of Minnesota outside the Twin Cities metro.
Workers on a Brainerd assembly line, for example, are making a cutting-edge device that stores excess solar energy.
Silent Power manufactures specially designed batteries, housed in a box, that make the energy available later in the day, when utility companies typically struggle with peak power demand. The devices are being tested in pilot projects around the country.
“Every utility in the country is looking at adding battery storage to their system,” said Todd Headlee, the company’s CEO.
Headlee said the recession has had little impact on his seven-year-old company, because renewable energy is in high demand.
World leaders need to look to unilateral energy initiatives because they can’t wait for a global climate deal, the IEA executive director said in Abu Dhabi.
Nobuo Tanaka, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, spoke during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. He blamed a “lack of ambition” in the effort to find a comprehensive clean-energy plan for exacerbating the threat posed by climate change.
“We cannot wait for a global climate deal,” he said in his address. “Countries must act now to achieve a secure and cleaner energy future.”
Now that the House of Representatives has voted to repeal the health care law, Republicans say they’re likely to move soon to another target “” a rewrite of the Clean Air Act so that it can’t be used to fight climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency in December said it would draw up performance standards that would help cut heat-trapping gases produced by refineries and coal-fired power plants. The EPA hasn’t proposed the specifics yet, and existing plants wouldn’t be affected until the later years of the decade, but opponents of regulation aren’t waiting.
Legislation advancing clean energy at first glance seems like a palatable option for a divided Congress, a kind of combination plate enticing lawmakers with varied morsels.
Key lawmakers from both parties praise the idea and lobbying efforts are starting. But the clean energy proposals now gaining buzz could be too ambitious for this Congress to stomach.
“Reports of a clean energy standard’s life are greatly exaggerated right now,” said Daniel Weiss, director of climate strategy at Center for American Progress Action Fund, the advocacy arm of the liberal think tank. “There’s a long way to go before we’ll see any movement on this.”
A clean energy standard, or CES, would require utilities to generate a portion of power from sources that emit less carbon pollution like solar and wind but, also nuclear, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, and possibly natural gas. It would expand on the renewables-only mandates that failed to pass the last Congress.
Facing incoming fire from Republicans, the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday beefed up its ranks with a longtime Capitol Hill Democratic veteran.
Michael Goo, most recently the staff director of the now-defunct House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, will join EPA’s Office of Policy as associate administrator, a job that answers directly to Administrator Lisa Jackson, E&E News reported.
Goo spent the past two years working for Select Committee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.), playing a key role in promoting the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House in June 2009. Earlier in his career, Goo worked for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Executives of ECOtality Inc. believed in 2009 that their battery charging technology would be a winner when plug-in electric vehicles began to hit the market this year. But with debts running far ahead of revenue, the San Francisco firm needed immediate financial support to stay in the game.
The help came from China, through a $2 million investment that year by a Chinese company. In return, the Chinese company received the rights to make and sell ECOtality’s chargers in its country and in other Asian markets. The relationship is one example of the complex linkage between American clean energy technology and Chinese capital and markets that will be a subject in this week’s U.S.-China summit in Washington led by President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The relationship is contentious and collaborative at the same time, commented Georgetown University’s Joanna Lewis, writing in the latest assessment of China’s environmental activities for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
President Obama has asked me to chair his new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. I have served for the past two years on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and I look forward to leading the next phase of this effort as we transition from recovery to long-term growth. The president and I are committed to a candid and full dialogue among business, labor and government to help ensure that the United States has the most competitive and innovative economy in the world.
Business leaders should provide expertise in service of our country. My predecessors at GE have done so, as have leaders of many other great American companies. There is always a healthy tension between the public and private sectors. However, we all share a responsibility to drive national competitiveness, particularly during economic unrest. This is one of those times.
U.S. President Barack Obama will name General Electric Co. (GE.N) Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt to head a new economic advisory panel on Friday focused on promoting growth by investing in business.
The “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness,” will work to encourage companies to hire and invest in U.S. competitiveness, the White House said in a statement.
The council replaces an economic recovery advisory panel led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who is stepping down when his group dissolves next month.
As the globe warms up, many plants and animals are moving uphill to keep their cool. Conservationists are anticipating much more of this as they make plans to help natural systems adapt to a warming planet. But a new study in Science has found that plants in northern California are bucking this uphill trend in preference for wetter, lower areas.
Usually, coping with climate change is an uphill struggle for ecosystems “” literally. Plants and animals want to be in a temperature zone where they can survive best.
“We see it consistently for mobile species such as insects and animals,” says Solomon Dobrowski, an assistant professor of forest landscape ecology at the University of Montana. “A lot of the real foundation studies of this have come out of studies of butterflies, for example.”
Dobrowski expected he’d see the same trend when he looked into historical movements of plants in a vast area of northern California. He dug through a remarkable record of the region’s vegetation, collected back in the 1930s thanks to a federal project started during the Great Depression. He and his colleagues from the University of Idaho and the University of California, Davis then compared that with modern vegetation surveys.
The truly astonishing amount of material that came out after a recent visit by China’s President Hu Jintao is a measure of how pivotal energy and climate change are between the U.S. and China. This includes a piece on the importance of energy cooperation between the two nations by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu himself.
Scientific American’s Dave Biello describes the relationship between the U.S. and China as the kind of detente that exists between “frenemies,” but one of the most comprehensive assessments of the current state of affairs was articulated by Daniel Firger of the Columbia Center for Climate Change Law. He says the year to come in China and U.S. energy news will revolve around three things:
With the arrival of Chinese President Hu this week in Washington, there can be no better time for the U.S. to make clear its unqualified commitment to winning the global race for clean energy jobs.
This is not just an international issue; it’s an urgent domestic one. While the employment situation shows some glimmer of hope, there are still more than 14 million people unemployed and many more so discouraged they’ve left the job market. And the progress we have made on clean energy is at risk. Evergreen Solar, a Massachusetts company, recently announced it would lay off 800 workers and move production to China.
The U.S. needs a comprehensive strategy for creating jobs, and a long-term, dedicated investment in clean energy is one of the quickest and most effective ways to get millions of Americans back to work and to position the United States as a global leader in the production of clean energy technologies.
If the Obama administration stays the course, the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last week to revoke a permit for one of the nation’s biggest mountaintop-removal mining projects could be the beginning of the end of a mining practice that has caused huge environmental harm across Appalachia.
The decision is a tribute to the agency, which faced fierce political opposition and a victory for the West Virginians who worked long and hard to block the mine. It should also be a warning to the mining industry that the days of getting its way, no matter the cost, are over.
Sunoco Logistics reported to the National Response Center that it had a crude oil spill at a pipeline in Oklahoma on Wednesday morning, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday.
The 1,250-barrel spill was in Garvin County, said David Bary, a spokesman for the EPA.
Sunoco spokesman Thomas Golembeski said that the pipeline was shut after the leak was found in the 10-inch line running from Eola to Maysville, Oklahoma.
Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s largest energy-exploration company, closed some wells at the nation’s biggest oil field after a pipeline leakage off the west coast. The shares fell to the lowest in almost eight months.
The spill is estimated to be about one mile (1.6 kilometers) long and the state-run explorer may have lost 25,000 barrels of crude oil, according to an e-mailed statement from the company today. ONGC didn’t say what caused the leak in the pipeline, which has a capacity of 212,000 barrels a day.
Production from the area may be halted for three hours, ONGC said. The spill, about 80 kilometers off the Mumbai coast, was spotted at 8:45 a.m. local time, according to the statement.
“A three-hour stoppage in production and the volume of loss doesn’t look like it will impact ONGC much,” said Niraj Mansingka, a Mumbai-based analyst at Edelweiss Capital Ltd. “The impact on the environment will have to be assessed.”
Germany’s government and an industry group said Thursday they have agreed to trim solar power subsidies by up to 15 percent this year as demand thrives in the country, a leading producer and user of the renewable energy source.
High demand for solar energy equipment has driven down costs, making it possible to move up planned subsidy cuts without curbing the sector’s growth, Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said.
“We want a reliable expansion of solar energy, but we also want to use the potential for cost reduction,” Roettgen told journalists in Berlin.
Germany has been heavily subsidizing solar power and other renewable energies since 2000, prompting an industry boom.
Guenther Cramer, who heads Germany’s solar industry association, said a subsidy cut planned for 2012 will be advanced to this July so long as officials are confident that this year’s sales of photovoltaic devices will top 3.5 gigawatts of capacity “” about half last year’s level.