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Todd Woody's Posts


Accelerating change

Report: U.S. in fast lane to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015

More like this are on the way.Photo: Dave Pinter When President Obama in his State of the Union address called for 1 million electric cars to be on the road by 2015, skeptics scoffed. But in a report [PDF] released Tuesday, the Department of Energy basically said no worries. We've already arrived at our destination. That optimism comes from automakers' existing projections of how many electric cars they expect to produce over the next five years. "The production capacity of EV models announced to enter the U.S. market through 2015 should be sufficient to achieve the goal of one million …


Blowing coal away

Wind power now competitive with coal in some regions

Photo: Vlasta JuricekMore good news on the renewable energy front Monday: The cost of onshore wind power has dropped to record lows, and in some regions is competitive with electricity generated by coal-fired plants, according to a survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm. "The latest edition of our Wind Turbine Price Index shows wind continuing to become a competitive source of large-scale power," Michael Liebreich, Bloomberg New Energy Finance's chief executive, said in a statement. "For the past few years, wind turbine costs went up due to rising demand around the world and the increasing price …


Power trip

Solar gets big and cheap in California

A San Francisco solar installation. Photo: Gavin NewsomEarlier this week, I wrote about the green evolution in California regarding electric cars. Well, when it comes to solar energy, it's starting to look more like a revolution. This week, utility Southern California Edison asked regulators to approve 20-year contracts to buy 250 megawatts of electricity from 20 small-scale photovoltaic farms. Nothing especially newsworthy about that until you start reading through the document submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission (hat tip to Adam Browning of the Vote Solar Initiative). Turns out that in response to its request for bids, Southern California …


No charge for that

Bay Area hands out $3 million to install home electric car chargers

20 Blink commercial charging stations will be installed around the Bay Area.Photo: BlinkHere's a mid-week dispatch from the green evolution in California. The Bay Area Air Management District on Wednesday granted $3.9 million to four companies as part of an effort to roll out electric car charging stations in 2,750 homes, as well as 30 fast-chargers along highways. Depending on the electric car, high-voltage fast chargers can "fill up" a battery in as little as 30 minutes. "The electric vehicle's time has come, and its effectiveness as a means of improving air quality depends on a robust charging infrastructure," Jack …


Spin Cycle

Smart appliances are coming! (Some day)

The Tendril Insight in-home display.Photo: Tendril"Smart appliances" are part of a Jetsons-like future that never seems to completely arrive. Battery-powered sedans may now cruise the streets of San Francisco, but my dishwasher is still as dumb as a box of rocks. But prospects that your refrigerator will someday be able to ping your washing machine and the local utility's smart grid to coordinate the best times to defrost and to do a load of clothes -- say, when electricity rates are low or renewable energy sources come online -- seemed to take a step forward Friday. Tendril, a home energy …


Hedge their bets fund

ConocoPhillips, NRG, GE to put $300 million in new energy technologies

Well, that didn't take long. Two days after President Obama's "Sputnik moment" call for cutting oil industry subsidies and funneling investment into "technologies of the future," some of the nation's old-line energy companies seem to have heeded his words. On Thursday, oil company ConocoPhillips, power producer NRG Energy, and GE Capital announced they had formed a $300 million joint venture to "accelerate emerging energy technology." Obviously, this was in the works long before Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday. But it is an indication that even corporations with vested interests in the existing energy infrastructure are hedging their …



Chinese solar company scores with German soccer team sponsorship

One of China's solar biggies scores with FC Bayern.Okay, now the Chinese are really throwing down the solar gauntlet. President Obama mentioned China's rise as a cleantech power in his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, but he failed to mention this development: Yingli Green Energy, the Chinese photovoltaic module maker that is the No. 1 supplier of solar panels to the California market, has become an "Official Premium Partner" of FC Bayern München, one of Germany's most famous soccer teams. Germany, of course, is the world's biggest solar market -- and the irony of one of the German …


Eastward ho!

California solar firms head to the not-so-sunny East Coast

If solar panels work in the French Alps, the Northeast U.S. should be no problem at all.Photo: now picnicWe write quite a bit about solar power here at Grist's Green State, and given that this is a California-focused column, that's no surprise. Solar, to large degree, has been a West Coast thing -- thanks to abundant sunshine, generous incentives, and a populace that leans green. Now California's biggest solar installers are heading east, making bids to persuade homeowners in the not-so-sunny Northeast and mid-Atlantic states to shovel the snow off their roofs and install photovoltaic panels. On Monday, Silicon Valley's …


Greece is the word

California solar startup in Greek power plant deal

BrightSource plans to build a 38-megawatt solar plant on Crete.Photo: SimonaAs policy wonks worry about United States green tech industry's ability to compete against China and other countries with aggressive renewable energy policies, California's BrightSource Energy said Thursday that it has signed a deal to supply the technology for a solar thermal power plant to be built in Greece. The 38-megawatt project, to be developed on the island of Crete by a British-Greek joint venture, is the first time BrightSource's power tower technology has been exported to Europe. BrightSource, which has contracts to supply 2,610 megawatts of electricity to California …


The color of money

California green job growth outstrips tired old brown economy

California green jobs are bringing in the green.A new report offers more ammunition in the never-ending debate over green jobs. Next 10, a San Francisco nonprofit, published a survey Wednesday that shows that California's "core green economy" grew more than three times as fast as the state's old brown economy between 2008 and 2009. It's a trend that resembles the boom in software jobs since 2005. "The green job data is significant because these jobs are growing in every region across the state, outpacing other vital sectors, and generating business across the supply chain," F. Noel Perry, Next 10's founder, said …