Category Solar Energy Markets

Research, Development, and Deployment

The United States remains a global leader in innovation and its experience with the IT/software industry has significantly impacted its prioritization of capital flows vis­a-vis the rest of the world. The two main sources of private investment are venture capital and private equity firms. These firms invest in small, growth companies and buffer their high failure rates with explosive returns on the winners. This high-risk, high-reward system has worked extraordinarily well in the consumer goods market as it responds to a persistent drive towards innovative new products.

Renewable energy and solar in particular have not performed as well as their IT counterparts for many private finance firms, which are having a downward impact on

1 CleanEdge 2012.

2 CleanEdge 2013.

Solar Energy Markets...

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Finance and Venture Capital

Venture capital and other high-risk startup funding are important components for the development and deployment of all new technologies. From both global and US perspectives, IT remains the largest recipient of venture capital, however, renewable energy technologies have made incredible strides over the past 10 years. In 2001, US companies received a modest $458 million invested by venture capital firms, only 1.2% of all Venture Capital (VC) funding in that year. In 2011, by contrast, nearly $6.6 billion were invested in US firms, a startling rise to over 23% of the total VC investment in that year.1

However, the path has not been even and 2012 was a down year for venture capital generally, and particularly sour for renewable energy and solar technologies. From a high of nearly $6...

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China

Reliable measurements of public opinion in the developing world, as well as China, are less readily available than in other nations. However, a recent poll of 19 nations conducted by WorldPublicOpinion. org found that a majority of nations, 15 in total, has a citizenry that desires the government to do more to combat climate change. In China, a surprising 62% of respondents seek more action from their government. In fact, of the 19 nations surveyed, only Mexican residents placed climate change as a higher priority for their government.

China is also experiencing a significant youth movement that shows the early seeds of environmentalism. According to one recent study, 80% of young Chinese are concerned about global warming, however, this is not likely to change their con­sumption patterns...

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Europe

According to the Eurobarometer, nearly all (95%) Europeans feel that it is important to protect the environment, and, like their counterparts in the United States, a major­ity rank climate change as the most important environmental issue facing the world. So-called “old member” states generally view environmental policies and technologies more favorably than “new member” states within the EU. Interestingly, however, there is growing evidence that policies are in fact leading the public rather than vice versa.

The most recent data concerning Europeans’ perceptions are presented in a report by the EU from January 2013...

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United States

Ample evidence suggests that “climate change” has become the major environmental concern in the United States, outpacing perennial front-runners of air pollution and water pollution.[25] Since 2003, the number of Americans rating climate change as a “serious” or “very serious” issue has risen dramatically. A New York Times/CBS News Poll from April 2007 suggests that 90% of the American public believe climate change to be a serious problem. In fact, over half (52%) of respondents noted that global warming was important to them personally.

Despite the heightened awareness of climate change, few Americans report that they understand the issue well (about 11% reported understanding global warm­ing very well in 2007, basically unchanged from 1992 polls).[26] Global warming polls, t...

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Global Trends

When attempting to measure changes in public perceptions, it is always difficult to select a starting point. This is specifically challenging when regarding sustainabil­ity environmentalism, two traits often cited by American Indian tribes is founda­tional, and lasting for tens of thousands of years. For our purposes, however, we will begin in 1972 with the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm.[19]

The 1972 Stockholm conference is widely regarded as the seminal moments of the modern environmental movement across the globe.[20] The basic premise of the 1972 UN Conference, which was repeated throughout the 1970s and 1980s, was that environmental protection was a luxury of wealthy nations.[21] This assump­tion, however, was tested by a massive study conducted by G...

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The New Culture of Environmentalism

Environmentalism is certainly nothing new. Philosophers, writers, and politicians have extolled the virtues of sustainability for hundreds of years. Over the last cen­tury in the United States, however, sustainability has typically been cast as a debate between environmental protection and economic growth. More recently, pioneering entrepreneurs have, in many ways, turned that debate on its head by demonstrating that environmentalism and economic growth are not mutually exclusive activities. This chapter will review the history of environmentalism and explain the key simi­larities and differences with the “green” movement currently underway in the United States and abroad.

One of the important premises of this book is that the factors driving the solar industry, such as globalization...

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Fresnel Reflectors

Fresnel reflectors again use mirrors to focus light onto receivers to heat a fluid, which generates electricity via steam engine or heat pump. These mirrors can be curved or flat, and some use parabolic mirrors to enhance the effect. These systems differ from trough and dish systems because they use multiple mirrors focused on a single receiver (therefore allowing many different configurations to maximize their efficiency at different periods of the day and year). They differ from power tower because they operate on a single rather than dual axis.

Fresnel reactors have had a start and stop history, and there are few plants currently generating with the technology...

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