The Week In Cleantech (Apr. 27 – May 3) – Competition In Thin-film About To Heat Up?

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On Tuesday, Jennifer Kho at Greentech Media informed us that LDK’s CEO was starting up a thin-film solar firm. Given thin-film’s potential and the stock market successes of one thin-film maker in particular, the emergence of competition doesn’t come as much of a surprise. And who else to do better than an already-successful solar entrepreneur. On Wednesday, Craig Rubens at earth2tech featured an interview where the CEO of PG&E painted the future of utilities for us. An interesting interview on the potential and challenges of plug-in hybrids and net metering. On Wednesday, Scott Krisner at Innovation Economy suggested that battery-maker A123 Systems had signed, sealed but not yet delivered on an IPO. Cleantech investors have been yearning for battery pure-plays for some time, so if this is indeed an accurate report it is sure to draw a lot of attention. The question is, will capital markets be ready for something like this in the fall? On Thursday, Felicity Barringer and Andrew Ross Sorkin at the NYT told us that a prominent green group was helping an equally-prominent buyout firm becoming greener. KKR certainly raised eyebrows last year when, as part of the TXU deal, it decided to cancel a number of coal power plants on grounds that they represented a potential future liability. This week’s announcement will, once again, re-ignite the debate as to whether shareholder value can be created (or at least material risks averted) by managing environmental matters in the same systematic way other areas of the firm such as HR or accounting are handled. PR or good business…what do you think? In yet another indication that solar is slowly moving toward the mature industry status, Good Clean Tech informed us on Thursday that OptiSolar was planning on building the largest solar farm in the world. 550 MW of PV solar panels is a big deal, and at that scale the economies make the returns on projects like these very attractive.

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