Monday, July 26, 2010

China moves closer to the sun.

Markets .Rutgers' Chinese Solar Panels Show Clean-Energy Shift
By Stuart Biggs - Jul 23, 2010

An array of 7,600 solar panels manufactured by China's Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. converts sunlight into electricity on the Livingston Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Source: Rutgers University via Bloomberg
At Rutgers University in New Jersey, 7,600 panels convert sunlight into electricity, saving some $200,000 in energy costs this year in the biggest solar-power experiment at a U.S. college.

Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., China’s second-largest solar-panel maker, supplied the $10 million project. Yingli is one of several Chinese manufacturers that have slashed costs to reduce global prices for solar modules by about 50 percent in two years. The drive made them more affordable for buyers from Rutgers to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the biggest U.S. retailer.

“It’s all about economics,” said Chief Executive Officer Al Bucknam of SunDurance Energy, the South Plainfield, New Jersey, installer that picked Yingli over Western competitors on price and helped sell the deal to Rutgers as a money-saver.

China is slashing prices and moving to dominate solar energy in the way Japanese manufacturers ruled consumer electronics decades ago. The price declines inch the cost of solar energy toward what’s called grid parity, or renewable electricity at the same prices charged for conventional power.

“The ability of the Chinese to manufacture at scale is a very big reason why the cost of these panels has come down,” said Kathleen A. McGinty at venture capital firm Element Partners in Radnor, Pennsylvania. “They’re a big part of the reason why we can even start to talk about grid parity.”

Price Parity

Sun power may become as cheap as the retail price of grid- delivered electricity in certain markets as early as 2013, according to a June 29 report by Pike Research, a Boulder, Colorado, clean-energy consultant.

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association, a trade group, forecasts parity by 2010 in some southern parts of Italy, by 2012 in several regions of Spain, and 2015 in Germany.

Solar installations are spreading worldwide as governments from China to the U.K. and Italy offer subsidies, costs fall and cities seek to create jobs. Rutgers got a New Jersey state grant for half its solar plant costs, which included installation and an undisclosed price for the Yingli panels. Wal-Mart last month finished installing solar modules on two California stores that provide as much as 30 percent of their electricity.

China’s manufacturers grabbed 43 percent of the global photovoltaic-panel market in the last six years, pricing products as much as 20 percent cheaper than European offerings, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Chinese firms shipped 3,300 megawatts of panels worth $6.6 billion last year, enough to power about 2.6 million U.S. homes.

Asia’s ‘Vast Factories’

“The vast factories of Asia will drive prices down, just as they did with consumer electronics,” said Jenny Chase, head of solar energy analysis for New Energy Finance, the London- based research firm owned by Bloomberg LP.

The downside for manufacturers is falling panel prices. That, together with Spain and Germany cutting subsidies for clean power, has sent investors away from most solar stocks.

China’s largest panel producers, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Yingli, and Trina Solar Ltd., have all dropped on the New York Stock Exchange this year. Yingli lost 25 percent, Trina 13 percent and Suntech 37 percent in the year through July 21. The MSCI World Index fell just 6.9 percent in the period.

Some foreign competitors from Germany’s Solarworld AG and Q-Cells SE to Marlboro, Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar Inc. fared worse. Solarworld has lost 29 percent in value, Q-Cells dropped 50 percent and Evergreen plunged 56 percent.

State-controlled China Development Bank Corp. so far this year has extended $24 billion in loans to Yingli, Trina Solar, Suntech, Solarfun Power Holdings Co. and others, according to data collected by New Energy Finance. That exceeds the $18.2 billion the U.S. government disbursed in fiscal stimulus funds for clean-energy companies through May 2010.

China’s Subsidies

Skeptics argue China’s solar industry is thriving on subsidies that obscure the true costs of solar, according to Kenneth Dewoskin, senior director at Deloitte China. Suntech and Trina didn’t respond to requests for interviews.

Min Li, a Hong Kong-based energy analyst at Yuanta Securities, said Chinese solar stocks are now attractively priced. He rates Yingli and Suntech as a “buy.” Overall, analysts favor Chinese over Western manufacturers.

Fourteen of 27 analysts tracked by Bloomberg recommend buying Yingli, compared with one “sell” rating. For Trina, all 22 analysts following the stock recommend buying it, while Suntech has 11 buy ratings and 8 sell recommendations.

In contrast, three analysts covering Q-cells rate the company a buy compared with 22 a sell. Evergreen has three buy ratings and 7 sell ratings. Solarworld is almost even, with 14 buys and 12 sells.

‘Just a Start’

China’s dominance in solar panels started in cities that subsidize clean energy. Baoding, a city of 1 million a two- hour’s drive south of Beijing, has used subsidies to attract about 200 renewable-energy companies including Yingli, whose panels power 80 percent of the local street lights.

“That’s just a start,” said Lian Shujun, vice director of the city’s renewable initiative.

China Development Bank lent a combined 116 billion yuan ($17 billion) this year to Yingli, Suntech and Trina while the central government’s Golden Sun program subsidizes as much as 70 percent of the cost of 294 solar projects. Beijing plans to install $1 billion of solar panels around the capital to heat water and light offices in 2012.

“China is beginning to think about what options are out there in terms of its new energy policy,” said Lu Yeung, a Hong Kong-based China energy analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “It’s not just fossil fuels, but how to make a green economy that is also a growth driver.”

‘Inevitable Choice’

The government is just getting started pushing solar, said Jason Liu, who quit his job at McKinsey & Co. to become a vice president at Yingli last year.

“Developing renewable energy is an inevitable choice,” he said.

China overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest energy user last year, according to the International Energy Agency. The country is looking to firms like Yingli for renewable energy to reduce dependence on oil imports and coal.

China, the world’s biggest coal consumer, burns the commodity to generate about 80 percent of its power. The IEA projects China’s oil imports will almost quadruple by 2030 from 2006 levels.

China spent $34.6 billion on clean-fuel projects in 2009, almost double the $18.6 billion investment by the U.S., New Energy Finance estimated. China installed 160 megawatts of solar capacity last year, a four-fold increase from a year earlier, and may almost double it again this year to 311 megawatts, according to the research firm.

An Opportunity

Some European and U.S. companies view China’s solar growth as an opportunity. Germany’s Q-Cells last year agreed to a manufacturing joint venture with China’s LDK Solar Co.

Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar Inc., the world’s biggest solar company by market value, has agreed with the government of Ordos, Inner Mongolia, to build a 2-gigawatt plant.

Such opportunities are fading as China acquires the expertise to do large-scale solar projects itself, Frank Haugwitz, a Beijing-based renewable energy consultant, said in a telephone interview.

“It’s only a matter of time, one or two years,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Stuart Biggs in Tokyo at Ying Wang in Beijing at

Sunday, July 25, 2010

One year passed, No energy bill, what a waste...

Published: July 24, 2010
When I first heard on Thursday that Senate Democrats were abandoning the effort to pass an energy/climate bill that would begin to cap greenhouse gases that cause global warming and promote renewable energy that could diminish our addiction to oil, I remembered something that Joe Romm, the blogger, once said: The best thing about improvements in health care is that all the climate-change deniers are now going to live long enough to see how wrong they were.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman

Alas, so are the rest of us. I could blame Republicans for the fact that not one G.O.P. senator indicated a willingness to vote for a bill that would put the slightest price on carbon. I could blame the Democratic senators who were also waffling. I could blame President Obama for his disappearing act on energy and spending more time reading the polls than changing the polls. I could blame the Chamber of Commerce and the fossil-fuel lobby for spending bags of money to subvert this bill. But the truth is, the public, confused and stressed by the last two years, never got mobilized to press for this legislation. We will regret it.

We’ve basically decided to keep pumping greenhouse gases into Mother Nature’s operating system and take our chances that the results will be benign — even though a vast majority of scientists warn that this will not be so. Fasten your seat belts. As the environmentalist Rob Watson likes to say: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.” You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000,” says Watson. Do not mess with Mother Nature. But that is just what we’re doing.

Since I don’t have anything else to say, I will just fill out this column with a few news stories and e-mails that came across my desk in the past few days:

Just as the U.S. Senate was abandoning plans for a U.S. cap-and-trade system, this article ran in The China Daily: “BEIJING — The country is set to begin domestic carbon trading programs during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) to help it meet its 2020 carbon intensity target. The decision was made at a closed-door meeting chaired by Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission ... Putting a price on carbon is a crucial step for the country to employ the market to reduce its carbon emissions and genuinely shift to a low-carbon economy, industry analysts said.”

As we East Coasters know, it’s been extremely hot here this summer, with records broken. But, hey, you could be living in Russia, where ABC News recently reported that a “heat wave, which has lasted for weeks, has Russia suffering its worst drought in 130 years. In some parts of the country, temperatures have reached 105 degrees.” Moscow’s high the other day was 93 degrees. The average temperature in July for the city is 76 degrees. The BBC reported that to keep cool “at lakes and rivers around Moscow, groups of revelers can be seen knocking back vodka and then plunging into the water. The result is predictable — 233 people have drowned in the last week alone.”

A day before the climate bill went down, Lew Hay, the C.E.O. of NextEra Energy, which owns Florida Power & Light, one of the nation’s biggest utilities, e-mailed to say that if the Senate would set a price on carbon and requirements for renewal energy, utilities like his would have the price certainty they need to make the big next-generation investments, including nuclear. “If we invest an additional $3 billion a year or so on clean energy, that’s roughly 50,000 jobs over the next five years,” said Hay. (Say goodbye to that.)

Making our country more energy efficient is not some green feel-good thing. Retired Brig. Gen. Steve Anderson, who was Gen. David Petraeus’s senior logistician in Iraq, e-mailed to say that “over 1,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan hauling fuel to air-condition tents and buildings. If our military would simply insulate their structures, it would save billions of dollars and, more importantly, save lives of truck drivers and escorts. ... And will take lots of big fuel trucks (a k a Taliban Targets) off the road, expediting the end of the conflict.”

The last word goes to the contrarian hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham, who in his July letter to investors, noted: “Conspiracy theorists claim to believe that global warming is a carefully constructed hoax driven by scientists desperate for ... what? Being needled by nonscientific newspaper reports, by blogs and by right-wing politicians and think tanks? I have a much simpler but plausible ‘conspiracy theory’: the fossil energy companies, driven by the need to protect hundreds of billions of dollars of profits, encourage obfuscation of the inconvenient scientific results. I, for one, admire them for their P.R. skills, while wondering, as always: “Have they no grandchildren?”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sunstore with a little help from their friends...

Take a look at a concept we developed for USC at Carolina Baseball stadium. Thanks to Fuss and Oneill for partnering with us to create a worthy project. We won't know if USC likes it until 8/11.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America, 234 today


Growing up in England the GI's would attend a Bar BQue at our house and they were cool. One Marine sgt would put us in a chair and lift it straight out in front of him and fly us around the room, he was a total badass.

As a kid 'McDonalds'
F16 fighter planes were cool
I have travelled to 33 states and met someone nice in every single one
Montana, it really is big sky country
California, Laguna Seca has a bar over looking the Pacific that I want my ashes sprinkled at.
South Carolina coast marshlands and bridges. Stop and sit on the Harbor dr marsh sometime.
NY city, be a tourist, look up at the buildings in almost any neighborhood, its great architecture.
My neighborhood in Lexington SC, I know all my neighbors by name and their kids rarely knock before coming in.
Still finding cool places in Cola, after 12yrs.
Veggie restaurant in Boone NC, groovy people with a great view.
Tallulah Gorge state park GA, 100ft rock slide.
Milkshakes at the Grill in athens GA.
Thomas Edison
Warren Buffett
Stormin Norman
The Doors
My wife

This is an awesome, diverse, beautiful, freedom loving country.
Happy Birthday America. Never let Kings take it away from you.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.