This week, the Green Tech Regional Report will be looking at the business side of green technology, and how green technology is showing up on markets large and small, as well as the actions of major companies to usher in green technology to their own businesses as well as the greater public.
Beijing hosted its fourth annual Cleantech Investor Forum on June 21, where investors and developers discussed the future of green technology in China and the world at large. A major topic was offshore wind power, which currently supplies three percent of China’s power. At the same time, however, investors are beginning to move away from the typical alternative energy sources like solar and wind, and are looking into emerging sectors like LED lighting, smart grid technology and green building technology. In all areas, they sought to strike a balance between short- and long-term clean energy investments.
Closer to home, the Boulder County Business Report held its fourth annual Green Summit in Boulder, CO, on June 14 to discuss the best course of action to reach its clean-energy goals, which was not without some debate. Opinions were divided as to whether it was better to create a municipal-owned utility or to sign with an energy provider.
Reuters reports on General Electric’s $63 million investment into clean energy start-ups as part of their “ecomagination challenge” initiative. Partnering with technology retailer Best Buy, GE’s aim is to help start-ups reach the commercial stage faster, and the two companies plan to put products like solar-powered air conditioning units on shelves by next year. In addition, GE will hold contests with monetary prizes for innovative ideas in green technology. The Austin Business Journal reports on a recent winner, Nuventix, an Austin-based green company specializing in thermal management.
On June 22, Google announced that it would be investing $102 million in the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) in Tehachapi, CA, helping it to become one of the largest wind farms in the world when it goes online at the end of this year. This year, Google has invested $700 million in clean-energy projects, including a previous investment of $55 million last month to AWEC.
ZD Net compiles a list of the U.S.’s top 10 biggest utility-scale solar energy investors of 2010, and notes that most of last year’s growth in solar use came from “non-traditional” areas of the country, such as Texas and Iowa. ZD Net has also made a list of solar power statistics for your consideration, covering issues of cost and financial incentives for homeowners to install solar panels.
Other businesses are taking steps to become more sustainable as well. The Wall Street Journal reports that health insurer Aetna won an award for their use of paperless billing and contracting. Aetna was a winner of the InfoWorld Green 15 Award, which is given by the International Data Group to companies worldwide that make use of green technology. In addition to making their contracts cheaper to send and faster to complete, Aetna has significantly reduced their carbon footprint by sending out over 20,000 contracts electronically rather than on paper.
Green technology is also popping up on smaller, but no less important scales. In Wapello, Iowa, the Grimm Brothers Plastics Corporation, which began in a shed in 1985 and now produces items for such large companies as Nissan and Caterpillar, recently developed a cost- and energy efficient clothes dryer, and hopes to find a niche in the green technology market in the future. The company, which took a hit during the country’s economic downturn, hopes to rebuild with innovative projects like this.