Posts Tagged ‘energy’

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The Green Build Road Show Hits the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

November 6, 2009

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Frank Carrico is the Regional Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. He has also served the U.S. Commercial Service in Iraq, Brazil, Ukraine, Japan, and Germany.

We’ve had a great stop in Denver.  Our Commercial Service office here, under expert guidance from Paul Bergman, coordinated an in-depth visit to Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today.  While on the road, the Commercial Officers are not only highlighting market opportunities in Europe to the sustainable building clients we meet, but we’re learning an incredible amount about the green technologies that make the United States a global leader in this area.  That’s why we’re at NREL.

We’ve had briefings on NREL’s programs that were focused on development and commercialization of new technologies in building energy efficiency, biofuels, and alternative power production, with particular emphasis on integrating innovative photovoltaics to yield lower and more competitive cost of production of solar cells for kilowatt hours (Kwh) of energy.  NREL is DOE’s only laboratory of its twelve research facilities that is focused on developing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies (EERE).  A critical part of the lab’s mission is the acceleration and transfer of NREL technology into existing energy markets.  NREL’s Partnership Development programs for its industry partners foster the integration and application of NREL’s R&D.  These programs are allowing nascent renewable energy companies to accelerate entry into the private marketplace; become cost-competitive; work with worldwide partners in renewable energy; and, expand markets in the U.S. and overseas.

NREL’s $460M budget for 2009 includes $110 million of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which is being used to increase collaboration through Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) and to expand international cooperation with foreign governments.    Most recently, NREL has become a founding partner of SolarTac Technology Acceleration Center for establishing a major commercialization center in Aurora on the outskirts of Denver for integrated photovoltaics and energy efficiency technology commercialization. Other founding partners include SunEdison, Xcel, and Abengoa Solar of Spain.  NREL expects that at least 30 companies will become part of SolarTac within the next year.

Commercial Officers and Specialists offered suggestions on how our domestic and international offices could assist NREL and DOE with its work in overseas markets and to open international markets for U.S. companies working with NREL on innovative technologies.  DOE is already working with CS Stockholm and Copenhagen on special presentations at its Bright Green trade event in December in Copenhagen during the UN COP-15 Climate Change negotiations.

Commercial Service Senior Commercial Officerss speaking with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter

Commercial Service Senior Commercial Officerss speaking with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (right). (Photo Department of Commerce)

Following our whirlwind site visit at NREL, Paul Bergman and the CS office took us downtown for a special visit with Governor Bill Ritter.  Each of us had the chance to introduce our work in our markets to the Governor and to explain how we could help with increasing export sales for Colorado companies.  In particular, we had the opportunity to explain how the Fedex-sponsored April trade mission to Europe would be especially valuable for Colorado companies.  The Governor promised that his office would follow up with us on the trade mission and will explore closer cooperation on our export programs.

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Green Build Road Show – Moving on to Denver

November 5, 2009

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Thomas Moore is Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy. Mr. Moore has previously served as the U.S. Commercial Service’s Deputy Director General, overseeing 2,000 employees in more than 80 countries.

After two successful days in Pittsburgh, the U.S. Commercial Service’s Green Build Road Show landed in an unseasonably sunny and warm Denver, Colorado, for another two-day program touting the unparalleled export opportunities in Europe’s green build and renewable energy sectors.

During the morning program, an audience member posed an interesting question:  Did we have any optimism that the United States would follow and match Europe’s current lead in the domestic deployment of these technologies?  As it turned out, the questioner had arrived late and missed most of the morning presentations.  Otherwise, he would have known that he was addressing a roomful of green entrepreneurs with strong confidence in an inevitable low-carbon future.

The Road Show had touched down in exactly the right place:  Denver is a hotbed of green technology development.  While the Road Show was conceived to educate U.S. companies on the European green build market, it has also been an eye-opening learning experience for the U.S. Commercial Service’s European officers and industry specialists.  We have found exactly what we were looking for:  A rich vein of new and innovative products and specialized expertise that should find an attentive market in Europe.

Pam Reichert, the State of Colorado’s Director of International Trade, opened the program with a description of Colorado’s strong commitment to what they have creatively coined the “New Energy Economy.”   “We’ve become a template for the rest of the nation for creating jobs, diversifying our energy portfolio, increasing energy security, and reducing our carbon footprint,” she said, citing the State’s success in attracting European investment in green technologies and in exporting nearly $2 billion last year to Europe.

The morning program featured presentations by two Colorado entrepreneurs who epitomize this success and should serve as encouraging role models – and mentors – for others to follow.

Dan Kigar, CEO of The Colorado Yurt Company, described his experiences in exporting 25 tent-like yurts for a major cultural exhibition in Paris.  Dan plans to conquer the world with his tent structures based upon the famous design of Genghis Khan, updated to the 21st century and pushing the envelope in use of sustainable technologies and recycled products.  He also cautioned exporters to beware of “bumps in the road” such as EU standards conformity issues, and he thanked the Commercial Service in France for helping him overcome these obstacles when they arose.

Mark Chen, Marketing Director for Abound Solar, discussed his company’s success selling thin-film solar photovoltaic modules in Germany, the world’s largest solar market with 50 percent annual growth in recent years.  Mark elicited laughs from the audience when he compared the bureaucratic paperwork required by Germany for a solar installation – two pages – versus the tabletop full of paper required by California.  But he did caution companies that they would face difficulties, albeit surmountable, in dealing with the European Union’s regulatory regimes for chemicals and electronic products.  (FYI:  The Commercial Service can help!)

The keynote speaker at lunch was David Hiller, Executive Director of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, a joint venture of four premier public research universities in partnership with the private sector, and an important element in the infrastructure that has attracted foreign investment to Colorado.  David highlighted the strong public support and commitment among Coloradans for clean energy solutions.

Will this public commitment be replicated nationally, as one audience member wondered?  We had a room full of people betting their sweat and financial equity that it would!  On a personal note, it was wonderful to renew acquaintances with our top-notch U.S. Commercial Service colleagues in the Denver Export Assistance Center.  Kudos for a fantastic job organizing this event!

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Energy Efficiency: A Key Component of U.S. Competitiveness

November 2, 2009

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Ryan Mulholland is an international trade specialist in the Manufacturing and Services unit of the International Trade Administration specializing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Scott Dietz, VP of Investor Relations at Owens Corning World Headquarters in Toledo, Ohio led David Kincaid and me around an impressive facility built as a model of sustainable architecture on a tiny reed and grass covered spit of land jutting into the Maumee River.  Glass artworks from a NYC artist who incorporated the legendary glass fibers Owens Corning is so famous for graced doorways, halls, and the soaring entryway to the building.  The tour reminded me that U.S. industry is a place of world class innovation—and in Toledo, Ohio, a city once devastated by economic downturns, that spirit of American innovation is alive and well, as energy efficiency has become a cornerstone for the city’s new growth and prosperity.

International Trade Specialist Ryan Mulholland speaks at the Forum on Energy Efficiency in Manufacturing at Owens Corning in Toledo, Ohio

International Trade Specialist Ryan Mulholland speaks at the Forum on Energy Efficiency in Manufacturing at Owens Corning in Toledo, Ohio. (Photo U.S. Department of Commerce)

On September 21, 2009, the International Trade Administration (ITA) organized a Forum on Energy Efficiency in Manufacturing at Owens Corning to help manufacturers learn about state and federal resources available to promote efficiency.  Part of an ITA Energy Efficiency Initiative aimed at promoting the development and deployment of energy efficient technologies, this one-day event attracted 86 participants. Toledo was chosen because of its efforts to reinvigorate its manufacturing industry by taking a leadership role in developing the clean and efficient industries of tomorrow.

Presenters from ITA’s Office of Energy and Environmental Industries, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program, and the Environmental Protection Administration’s Industrial Energy Star Program spoke about their programs.  Others from the State of Ohio Energy Office, Ford Motor Company, Eaton Technologies, Rockwell Automation, North Star BlueScope Steel, and Energy Industries of Ohio shared about their experiences with and the positive benefits derived from energy efficiency improvements. Each participant gave a brief presentation on the theme of energy efficiency.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce Mary Saunders introduced the event and moderated both panel discussions.  Energy efficiency “represents a key component of the Obama administration’s national strategy to support job growth,” Saunders noted, adding that “with efficiency, you don’t have to depend on scientific breakthroughs or engineering miracles… (but rather)… is a way of maximizing the amount of energy you get from existing sources.”

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur addressed the group noting that energy efficiency improvements are key to Toledo’s ongoing success, and added a word of congratulations to Owens Corning for winning EPA’s Energy Star Partner Award.

Following a keynote address from Owens Corning’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Frank O’Brien-Bernini, forum participants visited the Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator at the University of Toledo.

Reactions by participants ranged from surprise at the number of available resources to gratitude, upon hearing there are individuals in government standing on behalf of American industry.  It was an effort well worth the hard work and cost.