The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it. — Confucius A long-simmering dispute between Google and the government of the People’s Republic of China appears to be coming to a head this week, as the Internet search giant began re-directing traffic from its google.cn Chinese-language search engine to its google.com.hk site, based in Hong Kong. With this action, Google has taken a giant leap over the great wall of censorship the Chinese government has tried to maintain between its 1.3 billion citizens and information the Chinese leaders don’t want them to have. Web searches by China’s huge pool of Web users—the largest in the world, an estimated 400 million people—that were routed through Google’s mainland-China based servers were run through the PRC’s censorship filter, which blocked access to Web pages that made the rulers unhappy (think TiananmenSquare.com). The Hong Kong servers are filter free. Google says it made the move as a last-ditch compromise to preserve its technology business in China, which employs more than 600 people on the mainland. A few months ago, the California-based search titan accused agents of the PRC government of hacking into its servers to gather some dirt on Chinese dissidents. For a brief time after the hacking incident, Google shut down the censorship filter on its mainland servers, raising the ire of the Chinese politburo. The filter eventually was restored and intense negotiations ensued. The U.S. government, meanwhile, has been conspicuously silent about this issue, treating it as private business matter. Google is gambling that the Chinese government will not take the drastic step of extending the censorship curtain to Hong Kong, which under an international agreement transferring control of the island from Great Britain to China in 1999 has been able to maintain a separate, more open system than the iron fist that rules the mainland. However, Google apparently is preparing for the worst and may soon exit China altogether. Market analysts already are speculating that Google’s worst-case scenario will be a boon to Google’s competitors, including Microsoft’s Bing and China’s emerging home-grown search products. We hope not. The recent history of engagement between Western high-tech companies and China has been sullied by the eagerness with which the companies dispose of their principles as they salivate over the massive Chinese market. The most notorious example of this was Yahoo’s willingness to provide the Chinese secret police with confidential user information, a shameful act that may have sent hundreds of Chinese to […]
Chevron Corp. has unveiled a huge solar energy test facility in California, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The oil giant has revealed that it filled an 8-acre site in Bakersfield, CA with 7,700 solar panels to test low-cost energy systems for its operations. The panels, in various sizes, represent seven cutting-edge photovoltaic technologies from seven companies that Chevron reportedly is considering as possible candidates to power its operations worldwide. Chevron, which has operations in 100 countries, told the Los Angeles Times it is seeking panels that cost less and are more reliable and efficient than what’s available today. “We’re quite a large company that uses quite a lot of energy,” Des King, president of Chevron Technology Ventures, told the LA Times. King’s division evaluates alternative energy technologies. The test complex just outside Bakersfield is the latest in a move by large companies to tap emerging technologies as a way to cut energy costs. BP Solar, a subsidiary of British oil giant BP, designs, manufactures and markets solar products and says it invests more than $10 million annually in photovoltaic research and development. Royal Dutch Shell has invested more than $1 billion in alternative energy projects. Chevron plans to spend at least $2 billion more over the next three years on renewable power ventures and research. Chevron researchers will study how the panels perform against a benchmark system provided by Japanese firm Sharp Electronics Corp. The entire system, known as Project Brightfield, is located on the site of a former refinery tank yard that Chevron used from the early 1900s until 1986 and was later demolished. Six of the solar panel companies—Sharp, Abound Solar, Schuco, Solar Frontier Ltd., Solibro and MiaSole of Santa Clara, Calif.‚provided thin-film panels. Innovalight Inc., based in Sunnyvale, Calif., was the sole supplier of crystalline-silicon panels. The panels will produce about 740 kilowatts of electricity that will be used to power the pumps and the pipelines operated at Chevron’s Kern River oil field facility nearby. Extra power will be transferred to the local Pacific Gas & Electric Co. utility grid under a metering system that gives Chevron credit for the excess energy.
The South Carolina Department of Commerce, Newberry County and the Central SC Alliance have announced Caterpillar plans to increase operations at its facility in Newberry County. The company expects employment at the Newberry facility to increase by about 500 people as a result of the capacity expansion project. Caterpillar is making a multi-year, significant capital investment in support of the Newberry expansion plan. The company opened the Newberry generator set facility in 2006 as part of Caterpillar’s Electric Power Division. “The expansion of our Newberry operation is part of the Electric Power Division’s strategic global manufacturing plan for better serving our customers,” said Joseph Mulay, Newberry facility manager for Caterpillar. “South Carolina has been an excellent fit for our company, and we are pleased to be increasing operations at our Newberry facility. We appreciate the continued support we have received from the state Department of Commerce and local officials in Newberry County.”. Caterpillar’s Electric Power Division includes global design, packaging and marketing responsibilities for Caterpillar electric power generation products, including U.S. locations in South Carolina, Illinois, Indiana and Georgia and international locations in Northern Ireland, India, China and Brazil. The Electric Power Division includes products branded with the FG Wilson, Olympian and Caterpillar names. The Newberry facility currently produces a full range of diesel gensets under 200 kW for the North American market. It also produces a limited range of products in the 250 KW to 700KW range. The expansion plan would increase genset production in the 250-1250 kW range primarily for North American customers. These gensets are typically used as backup power for smaller retail operations, homes, farms and in municipal applications. “As we work to compete in today’s global economy, our state’s commitment to lowering taxes, reducing regulatory burdens and maintaining a pro-business environment is critical,” Gov. Mark Sanford said. “Today’s announcement to create 500 new jobs is indeed a sign that we are moving in the right direction, and we remain committed to further enhancing the state’s business environment to allow our existing businesses, like Caterpillar, to be more competitive during these challenging economic times. I’d like to thank Caterpillar for choosing to grow in our state, and also applaud the hardworking team at Commerce as well as the local economic development community in Newberry County.” SC Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor also hailed the expansion announcement. “Caterpillar continues to enhance its four-county footprint in South Carolina, and this expansion is a positive indication that the efforts of dedicated economic development professionals at the state and local level are […]
The Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America brought together top players and industry experts from the exploding green energy sector.
Michigan Economic Development Corp. is helping 11 companies grow in Michigan and also backing two brownfield redevelopment projects. Combined, the 13 projects are expected to create 7,182 new jobs (2,790 direct and 4,392 indirect), retain 781 total jobs, and generate over $742.4 million in new investment in the state. The projects include an overseas company launching U. S. operations in Muskegon Township to research and develop rechargeable batteries; a new-to-Michigan renewable energy, water and telecommunications company planning a new headquarters in Flint; and an expansion in Plymouth Township by a company that specializes in three-dimensional, medical-image processing used to help injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. “From advanced batteries to homeland security and life sciences to building materials, companies across all industry sectors are choosing Michigan for their growth plans, because our state is a great state in which to do business,” said Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm. The Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) board approved incentives for the following projects: ADCO Products Inc., producer of sealants and adhesives for the roofing, transportation, construction and solar markets, plans to invest $17.3 million to consolidate in Michigan Center and further establish itself in the solar panel industry by making an investment in the photovoltaic panel adhesive market. The project is expected to create 673 new jobs, including 212 directly by the company. The MEDC estimates that the increased economic activity created by the project will create an additional 461 indirect jobs. Based on the MEDC’s recommendation, the MEGA board approved a state tax credit valued at $1.2 million over five years to encourage the company to expand in Michigan over a competing site in Indiana. Leoni Township is considering an abatement in support of the project. Ash Stevens Inc., provider of life sciences research services, plans to invest $14.9 million in an expansion to address new market segments at its location in Riverview. The project is expected to create 202 new jobs, including 60 directly by the company. The MEDC estimates increased economic activity created by the project will create an additional 142 indirect jobs. Based on the MEDC’s recommendation, the MEGA board approved a state tax credit valued at $710,019 over seven years to help convince the company to locate in Michigan over a competing site in Massachusetts. The city of Riverview is considering local incentives in support of the project. Fortu PowerCell, developer of rechargeable batteries, plans to invest $623 million in a new integrated battery-cell manufacturing plant in Muskegon Township. The multi-phase project is expected to create 1,971 new […]
The Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of 29 governors, has called upon Congress to adopt a national renewable energy standard that would set a minimum requirement for the use of renewable electricity. The coalition, chaired by Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, presented a package of recommendations this week, including streamlined permitting for both onshore and offshore wind power projects and an upgraded interstate electric transmission system. The coalition recommends a renewable electricity standard requiring the nation’s utilities to provide a minimum 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources including wind, solar, geothermal and biopower, by 2012. Culver is backing a national renewable energy standard of 25 percent by 2025, which he predicts would create more than 300,000 green-collar jobs. In its recommendations, the coalition called for a goal of providing at least 20 percent of U.S. electricity from wind power by 2030. The call to action by the governors comes as a comprehensive energy bill—the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), called the Waxman-Markey bill after its primary sponsors—passed by the House of Representatives last fall, remains stalled in the U.S. Senate. The bill, backed by President Obama, includes a controversial cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon emissions. In addition to the renewable electricity standard and a new interstate transmission system, the coalition called for the U.S. Department of Energy to work with states to accelerate wind energy innovation, and an extension of the Treasury Department’s Grant Program in Lieu of the Investment Tax Credit to provide a long-term renewable energy production tax credit with provisions to broaden the pool of eligible investors.
Several U.S. cities are competing for a place in Google’s “Fiber for Communities” program. The Internet giant is going to select several communities for installation of Web connections with speeds 100 times faster than anywhere else, with data transfer rates faster than 1 gigabit per second. Cities have until March 26 to tell Google they’re interested in the venture. Google says it will pick one or more cities for the pilot project. “We’ll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people,” Google announced. Topeka, KS, population 123,400, has found a unique way to get Google’s attention in the competition—Mayor Bill Burton has changed the name of the state’s capital city. For the rest of this month, Topeka is calling itself “Google, Kansas.” The mayor even had road signs put up with the temporary moniker, one of which reads “Google, Kansas – the capital city of fiber optics.” Bunten admits he is not exactly tech-savvy when it comes to search engines and high-speed broadband. The 79-year-old mayor told CNN.com that he does have an e-mail account, but he lets his assistants take care of his online communications and Web searches. But Bunten firmly believes that younger residents of Topeka in particular will greatly benefit from the faster Internet connections Google is offering. “To have this high-speed where people can sit down and have lunch and still keep working is a positive for young people,” he said. “The young people are the ones that caught onto this and go to the Internet and asked people in the city to sign on as supporting Google coming to Topeka.” Besides, the mayor added, it’s a great way to draw attention to Topeka. “It’s just fun. We’re having a good time of it. There’s a lot of good things that are going on in our city,” he said. Bunten assured CNN the name change is not permanent. “Oh, heavens no, Topeka?” he said. “We are very proud of our city and Topeka is an Indian word which means ‘a good place to grow potatoes.’ We’re not going to change that.” According to local historians, this isn’t the first name change for Topeka. In 1998, former mayor Joan Wagnon temporarily changed the name of the city to “ToPikachu, Kansas,” in reference to the Pikachu anime character, from the show and game called “Pokemon.” This is one bit of good-natured “March Madness” we can endorse. In fact, we are seriously considering giving the mayor of Tinton Falls, NJ a call. […]
Renewable and Sustainable Companies (RASCO has been approved for tax credits that will help locate its headquarters to Flint, MI. RASCO said it will take up to eight weeks before it officially secures the building and starts bring its operations to 2851 Cole Blvd., near Buick City. “We’ll start the relocation into the Flint area and begin in earnest the actual recruitment,” CEO Rick Short said today. The $18.5-million project is expected to create 71 jobs in its first year, which could grow to 765 jobs during the next five years. The facility could also house research and development, an engineering department and assembly operation to build and export its products. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation estimates the economic activity created by the project will create an additional 1,048 indirect jobs. The company uses renewable energy sources to bring sustainable essential services, such as Internet, clean water and electricity, to developing nations overseas. Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said this is a “very exciting” economic development project for the city. “This will have a major impact on our local economy,” he said. “It shows that Flint and Michigan are open for business and are prepared to provide support to companies locating here to help diversify our economy.” RASCO’s credits are worth up to $9 million over the next seven years.
Purdue University plans to get more involved in high-tech economic development efforts across the Northern Indiana Corridor, according to a report posted on SouthBendTribune.com. The effort, called the Northern Indiana Corridor effort, plans to make use of academics and research in high-tech ventures—including packaging, wireless technology, electric vehicles and other “new economy” efforts—to boost the economy, Purdue leaders announced Friday. The effort also will push more collaboration among the Purdue University North Central campus in Westville, the Purdue campus in Calumet, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and the main campus in West Lafayette. The collaboration will share faculty expertise, facilities and research activity across the four campuses, and involve work with Ivy Tech Community College and other colleges on job development and transfer programs. “We’re planning a concerted effort to grow the economy of northern Indiana through education, technology development and research that is specific to the economic strengths of those communities,” Purdue President France A. Córdova said. North Central has helped create a conservancy district to attract new businesses. The campus also has been active in fostering cooperative economic development efforts in LaPorte County among Michigan City, LaPorte and the county, according to the university. The move is spurred in part by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s goal of creating more effective roles for the state’s regional public university campuses.
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has announced that the city has received $3.7 million in federal stimulus funds for solar panels at three locations. The solar panels will be located on buildings at the University of Texas at San Antonio and St. Philip’s College, as well as the city’s Mission Verde Center at Cooper. The three sites are expected to generate 600 kilowatts, nearly tripling the city’s large-scale solar-generation capacity. Currently, the city’s only large-scale solar-energy sources are the Pearl Brewery and a solar landfill cover at Republic Services Inc., a waste-management company. Castro hailed the grants, saying they will enable the city to make a “big step forward for sustainability.” The grants were awarded through the Texas State Energy Conservation Office, with UTSA, St. Philip’s, and the city each filing separate grant applications.