Wednesday, August 30, 2006

European photovoltaic solar energy conference

The 21st European photovoltaic solar energy conference and exhibition will take place in Dresden, Germany, from 4 to 8 September 2006.

Experts in the field will meet at Dresden to discuss the latest developments in industry and science. The event combines scientific and technological issues from the view point of research institutes, industries, utilities, politics, architects and end-users. The conference will be accompanied by workshops on specific PV issues. The accompanying industrial exhibition, running alongside the event, will attract over 250 companies and solar organisations from around the world and will provide a showcase for the technology and service providers involved in the PV solar field.

For further information, please consult the following web address:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.": John Milton

"For those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the system of 'brainwashing under freedom' to which we are subjected and in which all too often we serve as
unwilling instruments." Noam Chomsky

"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the
face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. That's our problem.": Howard Zinn, from 'Failure to Quit'

"With numbing regularity good people were seen to knuckle under the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe. Men who are in everyday life responsible and decent were seduced by the trappings of authority, by the control of their perceptions, and by the uncritical acceptance of the experimenter's
definition of the situation, into performing harsh acts. A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority" Stanley Milgram, 1965

Friday, August 25, 2006

Clean energy is a marathon, not a sprint

By Martin LaMonica,

Somewhere along the road to $75 barrels of oil, investor interest in clean energy technologies accelerated. What's green is good these days.

In general, that's great news. But with every breathless article about the wonders of ethanol, hydrogen, solar and wind energy, I get a bit concerned.

Clean energy should not just be the trendy technology investment idea du jour. Changing the energy infrastructure of the global economy takes decades. That means sustained commitment from businesses in all industries, as well as government policies that aggressively promote alternatives to fossil fuels.

After all, getting beyond oil means a (hopefully gradual) conversion of the world economy's fuel infrastructure--not just a bunch of start-ups commercializing cool research ideas.

There's no question that entrepreneurs are finding green (as in money) in green (as in clean tech--a term that refers to a broad swath of technologies focused on using natural resources more efficiently). According to Cleantech Venture Network, investments in clean tech have climbed rapidly in the last two years, from less than $300 million in the second quarter of 2004 to more than $840 million in the second quarter of this year.

It's wonderful to see the best and brightest focus their attention on clean energy. But the froth of interest has caused more than one person to utter the dreaded "bubble" word about this hot investment area.

Clean energy is not immune to dot-com-like bombs. Investment in clean tech skyrocketed in 1999, only to crash in late 2000, according to Cleantech Venture.

The long view
High fossil-fuel prices are making alternative energy sources more financially viable today compared to only a few years ago. Solar-electricity companies, for example, compare their cost per watt with the currently predominant method of generating power from fossil fuels.

But even if oil and natural gas prices drop back to 1990s levels, alternative energies should remain on the front burner. There are political, economic and environmental reasons to pursue a green energy future.

The perennial volatility of the oil-rich Middle East brings risk to dependent countries' economies. As a result, most countries would rather have home-grown energy industries--whether biodiesel, wind or solar--rather than depend on foreign sources of fuel.

Beyond the political and economic catalysts, global warming demands a change in our energy infrastructure. Concerns over climate change attributed to global warming have become so mainstream that the issue has become an investment thesis of its own for insurers and money managers alike.

Coupled with investments in technology development is the need for supportive government policies. Financial trading systems for greenhouse gases are taking baby steps in Europe and Chicago, and many people believe that the United States will see a federally mandated carbon cap-and-trade exchange in a few years.

Another good piece of news is that energy consumers--individuals and businesses--are seeing the value in being green, motivated by cost or environmental reasons. That helps create markets for the wide range of "eco-innovations" needed, from hybrid cars to solar panels.

Will the entrepreneurial zeal and feel-good glow last? Let's hope so. Driving up to any filling station to dispense cleanly produced hydrogen is a compelling vision and, I hope, a reality for our kids. Huge scientific leaps and massive conversions to our fuel infrastructure don't happen overnight.

Original Article