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Oxford: Hub of British Automotive Excellence

First published in Cleantech magazine Volume 6 Issue 4. Copyright Cleantech Investor Ltd

By Elisabeth Jeffries

Blaming the battery is a common response to concerns about the stuttering electric vehicle (EV) market, which has so far attracted only a few thousand customers each year in Europe and the USA. But in Oxfordshire, England one inventor, Patrick Head, has decided to address the problem from a completely different angle – by developing flywheel technology, based on centrifugal energy storage. Co-founder of Williams Formula 1, his approach to EV development by side-stepping battery technology garners plenty of support among automotive engineers, for whom it is a headache.

It is fitting that the high tech companies producing the fastest cars in the world help kick start the tortoise of today’s automotive scene – the EV.

Because of the technical regulations of the sport there’s a limit to what you can do. There are no F1 regulations allowing electric F1 cars, it’s all internal combustion engines. But the scope for introducing innovations through development in the more mainstream market is much bigger,”

observes Nick Carpenter, technical director of Delta Motorsport, a Silverstone-based engineering and design consultancy that advises and collaborates with several Oxfordshire companies.

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Islands and Peripheral Communities: At the Forefront of Renewable Energy

First published in Cleantech magazine, Volume 6, Issue 3. Copyright Cleantech Investor Ltd

By Rue Swabey

 

Islands generally reach grid parity before mainland locations because they need to import energy - typically diesel - which is more expensive than being grid-connected. Whilst islands and peripheral regions often lack energy security, they frequently have abundant renewable resources, including wave, tidal and offshore wind, so they have the potential to become energy self-sufficient. There are persuasive incentives for islanders to seek new forms of energy, since peripheral areas tend to face high energy costs and fuel poverty is often an issue.  Remote communities are also often subject to energy shortages owing to their reliance on imports, which can easily be disrupted. However, islanders generally recognise the importance of new technologies and are quick to embrace new opportunities. Consequently it’s often easier to reach consensus on introducing a new energy source on islands than on the mainland.

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World Wind Markets

First published in Cleantech magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2. Copyright Cleantech Investor Ltd

Turbulence amidst growth

Turbine manufacturers are suffering a fiercely competitive environment – but the wind industry around the world continues to grow.

Recent financial results from European stock market-listed wind turbine manufacturers, Gamesa and Vestas, told a mixed tale. Denmark’s Vestas, which had issued two profit warnings during 2011, failed to match even its own reduced expectations for the year. The company reported revenues of €5.8 billion, well below original expectations of €7 billion, and a small loss at the EBIT level. It was a mixed message from Vestas, however, with the firm confirming strong order intake of €7.3 billion (for equipment with generating capacity of around 7GW). However, the shortfall resulted in a management purge, with senior management – excluding CEO Ditev Engels – departing the group.

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The Future of Jet Fuel

First published in Cleantech magazine, Volume 6, Issue 1. Copyright Cleantech Investor Ltd

By Anne McIvor

Concerned about the prospect of a rapid increase in carbon emissions from the fast growing air travel industry, the UNFCCC and other bodies involved with climate change placed air transport high on the agenda some time ago. There have been a host of initiatives aimed at containing the impact, ranging from the introduction of voluntary carbon offsetting for customers to this year’s significant EU step to include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – a move which has met with the threat of retaliatory measures from airlines from countries such as the US, China, Russia and India. Meanwhile, the fuel industry is quietly getting on with developing cleaner jet fuels. And the air travel industry is – not so quietly – making claims about its ‘sustainable’ credentials through the use of these fuels.

A host of initiatives to promote the use of more sustainable fuels in air transport have emerged, with virtually all the key players in the aircraft manufacturing industry involved to some degree. Many major airlines have tested aircraft running on alternative fuels – and some are already operating scheduled flights. See also: Pioneering flights.

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2011: Review of the Year on Stock Markets

First published in Cleantech magazine, Issue 6 2011. Copyright Cleantech Investor Ltd.

Sharp declines for stocks in most cleantech sub-sectors  

Some may consider that the performance of cleantech on stock markets during 2011 is best forgotten. The year has been a wipe -out for most cleantech investors, with the large solar and wind energy stocks having suffered severe losses virtually across the board. Renewable energy generators have tended to outperform the manufacturers of wind and solar equipment, but have also fallen sharply. Cleantech Investor has monitored the performance of a universe of 100 cleantech stocks – and some additions to that list in the form of the year’s (few and far between) IPOs. The performance of these 100 stocks is summarised below.
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