OUR GREAT MINDS

    by Tina Olivero

    Forward Thinking and Progressive Corporations on the Sustainable Energy Frontier

    In the world of energy, time and money are of the essence. Whether it be meeting projects completions, cost recovery or investor returns, entering the sustainable energy market has very real risks. All variables in the energy sector are related to time and cost. This is even truer in the sustainable energy sector. In order to get off the ground floor, in order to thrive, new emerging technologies and companies in this sector will require the removal of barriers to entry, which at times contain the much maligned red-tape.

    Economic instruments such as government tax relief, and subsidies will be called for, feed-in tariffs will help eliminate the cost differential for the consumer, therefore making the market environment truly competitive for all players; these instruments will help build momentum for the sustainable energy sector. The companies mentioned in this article are a mixture of David and Goliath, yet they possess commonalities. They continue to push technology and innovation further, testing its boundaries. These companies are progressive and will continue to advance but, more importantly, they see the value in environmental advocacy. Lets’s take a look at the movers and shakers in solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuel energies.

    Wind Energy – Suzlon Energy, India

    Suzlon energy is a vertically – integrated company based in India. It is the world’s most valuable wind energy company in terms of net worth. It ranks third in when comparing market capitalization. Suzlon Energy Limited (SEL), India’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, announced crossing 5,000 MW (megawatts) of cumulative installations in India, underlining the strong momentum in India’s fast growing wind energy market. This cumulative power generation capacity has the potential to light up four million homes annually, thereby accentuating the key role that Suzlon continues to play in the electrification of India. Suzlon has cumulatively added over 5,000 MW of wind power capacity for over 1,500 customers in India across 40 sites in 8 states. Suzlon accounts for nearly half of the country’s total wind installations. In the key states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat, Suzlon’s installation base is over 1,000 MW each. leading corporations such as Bajaj Group, the Birla Group, MSPL, DLF, the Tata Group, the Reliance Group, the ITC Group and L&T as well as public sector companies like GSPL, HPCL, Indian Railways, Rajasthan Mines and Minerals, GACL, GSPC, GSFC, Indian Oil, ONGC and State Bank of India (SBI) have chosen Suzlon for their wind power projects. Suzlon is India’s largest wind turbine manufacturer and has been leading the wind energy market in India for the past 12 years with nearly 50 percent YoY (year-over-year) market share. The company has a workforce of 9,000 employees in India, and 8 manufacturing facilities across the country. Suzlon will continue to be the market leader in worldwide wind energy applications, due to the sustained growth rate of the Indian economy and the continued stress and demand of going green.

    Solar Energy – Suntech Power, China

    There is no doubt that the ability of harness the sun’s energy will help resolve humankind’s thirst for energy. Suntech Power of China will be a global leader in the solar energy sector for years to come. Suntech develops, manufactures and delivers the world’s most reliable and cost-effective solar energy solutions. Funded in 2001 by leading solar scientist Dr. Zehengrong Shi, suntech is the world’s largest producer of silicon solar modules. Suntech’s ability to provide panels at a lower cost has proven to be a quantum leap in the world of harnessing the sun’s energy. This cost reduction has removed a major hurdle in proposals for solar energy, this being cost per kilowatt hour ($/kw-h).

    Geothermal Energy – Ormat Technologies, USA

    Ormat Technologies builds and designs projects with geothermal energy all over the United States and worldwide. Ormat’s technology is highly optimized for use in geothermal energy generation, by efficiently converting the heat energy that comes from the earth’s molten interior, deep in the earth’s crust, in locations where the heat is brought near to the surface due to movements in the earth’s crustal plates by intrusion of molten magma and by deep circulation of groundwater. It also has the best EGS (enhanced geothermal systems) advances from wind spread commercialization to its research and development. In addition it has over 45 years of experience, which makes it one of the leaders in the geothermal energy companies sector.

    Geoexchange Drilling – Ground Force Geo Drilling Solutions, Canada

    Geo refers to the earth and exchange is the thermal transfer to and from the earth for heating and cooling. geoexchange is seen as the most environmentally friendly of all geothermal drilling applications. There has been much crossover from the oilfield to geoexchange drilling; however, a learning curve does exist and the process is not seamless. The process involves maximizing ROCE (return on capital employed), a firm’s ability to keep its resources employed on a year-round basis thus maximizing revenue growth and potential shareholder returns  GroundForce GeoDrilling Solutions has taken a slower methodical approach to this transition; they are doing it right. Taking a closer look at the technology, implementation of geoexchange systems is achieved by drilling shallow boreholes below the earth’s surface. Ground loops are installed in the boreholes and natural heat is collected from the fluid circulating around these earth loops, combined with a heat pump and distribution system. The primary function of the heat pumps is to transfer energy from the circulating fluid in the ground loops into the air stream. A blower then helps circulate heated air through the ductwork in a manner similar to a conventional furnace  Air conditioning mimics this process, in reverse. Heat is drawn from the building’s air stream and then transferred from the heat pump into the ground loops where it is absorbed by the earth and stored until heat is required.

    Biofuels – Irigin Oil, USA

    OriginOil, Inc. is developing a breakthrough technology that will transform agle, the most promising source of renewable oil, into a true competitor to petroleum, while holding its commitment to CSR (Corporate social responsibility). Much of the world’s oil and gas is made up of acient algae deposits. OriginOil’s technology can provide the world with an endless supply of cost-competitive and environmentally friendly oil to displace petroleum. Other oil-producing feedstock such as corn and sugar cane often destroy vital farmlands and rain forests, disrupt global food supplies and create new environmental problems. OriginOil’s unique technology, based on algae, is targeted at fundamentally changing our source of oil without disrupting the environment or food supplies.

    Having seen a glimpse of where the future of energy lies, it will be interesting to see how these technologies are accepted in various geographical locations. Furthermore, it will be even more interesting to see how political hurdles and economic barriers will effect the applications of the aforementioned technologies. Where will these technologies take humankind? What percentage of the energy mix will they supply? Only time will tell; but one can assume the percentage will only escalate in the near future.

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