Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Volkswagen planning hybrid, diesel cars

The Associated Press
Published: January 12, 2009

DETROIT: Volkswagen AG plans to offer hybrid and diesel versions of four upcoming vehicles being developed for the U.S. market.
Stefan Jacoby, Volkswagen's top U.S. executive, said Monday at the North American International Auto Show that VW would build hybrid and diesel versions of a future successor to the Jetta sedan, an unnamed midsize sedan and two other vehicles under development.
Volkswagen wants to sell 1 million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles by 2018 and is building a new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that expects to produce vehicles by 2011.
Jacoby says the automaker is committed to its timeline for production at the Tennessee plant. He said the Germany-based automaker was "not moving one inch of our plans" to increase its sales in the United States.

Chrysler Plans Electric Car Push in 2010

DETROIT -- In a bid to make a splash at the Detroit auto show, Chrysler LLC said it expects to start producing an electric car in 2010.
The company, however, revealed few details that normally come with such announcements, such as what type of vehicle it will make – or its name.
"We're not allowed to say," said Todd Goyer, a company spokesman.

In a statement released ahead of the Detroit show, the auto maker said it will unveil a new concept for a possible future electric vehicle – a battery-powered version of its Jeep Patriot, a compact sports-utility vehicle. It will also display three electric-vehicle concepts it first shown in public in September. Those included electric versions of its Chrysler Town & Country minivan and Jeep Wrangler, and the Dodge Circuit, an two-seat sports car.
Chrysler aims to have four electric vehicles in the market by 2013, the company's statement said. A few weeks ago, Chrysler executives told dealers it plans to sell 500,000 electric vehicles by 2013.
Chrysler needs a dose of good news right now. Sales plunged last year, falling 53% in December alone. The company was close to running out of money before it got $4 billion in loans from the federal government.
The company plans to launch a new Jeep Grand Cherokee in late 2009 or 2010, but has few other new models set to follow. Chrysler slowed product development to conserve cash, people familiar with the matter said.
That stands in contrast to recent years, when it tried to drive sales by launching a steady stream of new vehicles.
Chrysler has formed a special development group, called ENVI, to work with partners to produce electric vehicles. It assembled a working prototype of the Dodge Circuit sports car by using major components produced by outsiders, such as an underbody made by Lotus and batteries from A123 Systems Inc. The Circuit runs on battery power alone and is supposed to run for up to 200 miles before needing a recharge.
Chrysler's electric vehicles "will allow consumers to move away from their reliance on fuel stations and traditional maintenance," Lou Rhodes, president of ENVI, said in a statement, "and instead enjoy a new, more socially responsible level of performance."
Write to Alex P. Kellogg at alex.kellogg@wsj.com and Neal E. Boudette at neal.boudette@wsj.com

Chrysler's Battery-Powered Sedan Makes Waves

DETROIT -- Chrysler LLC at the Detroit auto show unveiled a concept for a sleek, battery-powered sedan that is supposed to suggest a new design direction for the auto maker.

The Chrysler 200C EV concept is based on the underpinnings of the company's larger 300C and Dodge Charger sedans, but was equipped with a battery-driven electric motor for its debut at the 2009 North American International Auto Show.
The car was equipped with a large touch-screen on its dashboard as part of a new type of system for controlling its audio and cellphone capabilities.
But it was the curvaceous, European-flavored styling that turned heads at the show. "I think it might be one of the most important cars here," said Scott Oldham, editor-in-chief of Inside Line, an automotive Web site. "It sends a positive message for Chrysler."
Frank Klegon, executive vice president of product development, said the 200C signals what Chrysler wants future vehicles to look like. It "represents a coming out party for what the new Chrysler is going to be," Mr. Klegon said.
It's unclear, however, whether the 200C will ever hit the road. Chrysler executives said the company hasn't yet decided whether to produce the vehicle and gave no timeline for when they might make a decision, either.
The car is supposed to be a midsize sedan and Chrysler's plans for that segment are up in the air. The company has been working on a so-called Project D, that is supposed to yield a midsize sedan that can compete with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

The 200C is separate from Project D, and is conceived as a premium model that would likely sell in lower volumes than the mainstream car Project D is supposed to produce, Mr. Klegon said.
The 200C was unveiled alongside a battery-powered prototype Jeep Patriot and three electric-vehicle concepts first shown to the public in September. Those included electric versions of Chrysler's Town & Country minivan, Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Circuit, a two-seat sports car.
Chrysler has formed a special development group, called ENVI, to work with partners to produce electric vehicles. It assembled a working prototype of the Dodge Circuit sports car by using major components produced by outsiders, such as an underbody made by Lotus and batteries from A123 Systems Inc. The Circuit runs on battery power alone and is supposed to run for up to 200 miles before needing a recharge.
While this has been a slow year for conceptualized products, Chrysler is banking on the announcement being a bright spot amidst a larger backdrop of difficult news.—Neal E. Boudette contributed to this article.
Write to Alex P. Kellogg at alex.kellogg@wsj.com

Toyota zips ahead with electric hybrid

By Micheline Maynard
Published: January 12, 2009

DETROIT: Toyota plans to introduce its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle late this year, a year earlier than originally planned and a year ahead of the Chevrolet Volt.
James Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said in an interview at the North American International Auto Show that Toyota planned initially to make about 500 plug-in hybrids, which will be made available first to commercial customers. About 150 plug-ins will be scheduled for customers in the United States, Lentz said.
At the auto show last year, Toyota's president, Katsuaki Watanabe, said it planned to introduce a plug-in hybrid vehicle in 2010. The vehicle, which could be recharged by plugging it into a wall outlet, would join a lineup of other hybrid electric vehicles sold by Toyota, including the Prius.
General Motors said it planned to introduce its plug-in Volt by late 2010. The Volt, which will be made in Detroit and powered by a lithium ion battery, is the centerpiece of GM's efforts to market environmentally friendly cars.
The Toyota plug-in hybrid will be built in Japan, where Toyota also builds the Prius. The first plug-ins will be essentially built by hand, said Masami Doi, Toyota's general manager for global strategic planning.

The plug-ins also will be powered by lithium ion batteries, Lentz said, unlike the Prius, which will continue to be powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery. The lithium ion batteries will be produced in Japan by Panasonic, which also produces batteries for the Prius, Doi said.
GM unveiled the Volt as a concept car at the Detroit show in 2007, beating Toyota with word that it was developing a plug-in hybrid. Lentz did not say Sunday why Toyota had sped up its program.
But if Toyota stays on its new schedule, it will win at least a psychological advantage over GM, said Andrew Shapiro, an industry analyst with the Casesa Shapiro group.
"GM announced it first, and Toyota gets it to the market first," Shapiro said.
Lentz sought to play down any impression that Toyota was in a race with GM. The initial Toyota plug-ins will not be available to individual consumers, unlike the Volt, which GM says will go on sale to the public at the end of 2010. Lentz said the first Toyota plug-ins would be provided to customers like utility companies and others where their use could be carefully monitored. "We'll learn how they're used, and where people want to recharge them," like stations at the office or at home, he said.
Toyota also could study "the trade-offs between performance and range," meaning the distance the car could travel before its battery needed to be recharged, Lentz said.

Climate change fears spiral as warmer seas 'absorbing less carbon dioxide'

Scientists have found evidence of a sudden and dramatic drop in the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the sea, sparking fears that climate change is accelerating.

By John Bingham Last Updated: 3:14PM GMT 12 Jan 2009
Warmer waters - themselves said to be the result of the changing climate - are believed to have caused the decline.
Samples taken from the Sea of Japan last year were compared with analysis of water collected in the past.
The findings suggest that it is absorbing only half as much carbon dioxide as during the 1990s.
It could mean that governments would have to increase targets for cutting carbon emissions more sharply than previously thought.
Scientists believe that a slight change in the temperature of the water appears to have reduced a process known as "ventilation" which helps reabsorb about a quarter of the carbon dioxide produced around the world.
Carbon absorbed from the air is mixed by tides and dragged to the bottom of the sea allowing water nearer the surface to absorb more.
But a study, led by Kitack Lee, of Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea, found low levels of carbon in deeper water - suggesting that it is not being mixed as it was in the past - while overall levels were lower.
He warned that the phenomenon is unlikely to be confined to the Sea of Japan.
"Our result ... unequivocally demonstrated that oceanic uptake of CO2 has been directly affected by warming-induced weakening of vertical ventilation," he told The Guardian.
"In other words, the increase in atmospheric temperature due to global warming can profoundly influence the ocean ventilation, thereby decreasing the uptake rate of CO2."

GM picks S. Korea's LG Chem to make Volt batteries

The Associated Press
Published: January 12, 2009

DETROIT: General Motors Corp. on Monday named LG Chem Ltd. of South Korea as the lithium-ion battery supplier for its Chevrolet Volt electric car, and the automaker also announced the seeds of what could become a battery development and manufacturing center in Michigan.
LG Chem will make the battery cells in Korea and ship them to the U.S., where they will be assembled into packs at an unspecified GM factory in Michigan, both companies said at the North American International Auto Show.
GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said the battery assembly facility will be the first in the U.S. operated by a major automaker.
LG Chem CEO Peter Kim said the company may eventually build cells in Michigan, and it anticipates that its U.S. subsidiary, Compact Power Inc., will add to its 100-person work force in Troy, Michigan.
Volt vehicle line director Tony Posawatz said GM also will open a new battery lab at its Warren technical center. The 31,000-square-foot (2,880-sq. meter) battery lab will be the largest in the U.S., GM said.

Posawatz said GM's ventures are likely to lure research facilities and factories from other electric vehicle parts suppliers.
"We have enough critical mass that future growth will cluster," Posawatz said.
Southeast Michigan around Detroit, he said, is the likely front-runner for the factory, which would be near the Volt assembly plant, an existing facility that straddles the border between Detroit and the tiny enclave of Hamtramck.
The new plant will employ more than 100 workers, said GM manufacturing head Gary Cowger. He would not give a specific figure but said the plant will be highly automated, in part because it must quickly weld the cells together to make battery packs.
"This is very high-speed kind of work," he said.
Any new jobs would be good news for Michigan, where the shrinking auto-dependent economy has led to a nation-leading 9.6 percent unemployment rate.
GM and the University of Michigan also announced the joint development of a battery research center at the Ann Arbor school. The center will train engineers in battery development and test batteries to improve their life and performance.
Wagoner said GM is integrating battery research and assembly into its mainstream to develop powertrains of the future.
"We believe this will become a competitive advantage for GM and will be critical to GM's success," he said.
Detroit-based GM had planned to name a battery supplier early last year but decided to keep working with two developers simultaneously to test their batteries under a variety of conditions. The other company that was in the running for the contract was Frankfurt, Germany-based Continental Automotive Systems, which is using cells developed jointly by GM and A123 Systems Inc.
Posawatz said GM chose LG Chem because of its flat-cell design that dissipates heat better and stores more energy than competitors' cylinder-shaped cells.
The competition from A123 Systems Inc. of Watertown, Massachusetts, was very capable, Posawatz said, but "one has to be the lead."
LG Chem's Kim said the GM contract boosts his company's global presence.
"We now are a global player. We have many plants sited worldwide. So it would be possible to produce it in the United States in the future," he told The Associated Press in an interview.
The current LG Chem was established in 1947 and besides batteries, also produces petrochemicals. LG Chem is a member of the LG Group, a major South Korean industrial conglomerate with interests in areas including electronics, flat panels, telecommunications and logistics.
LG, once known as Lucky Goldstar, changed its name in 1995. The company's motto is "Life's Good."
LG Electronics acquired U.S. television manufacturer Zenith Electronics Corp. in 1995 and is known for its flat-screen televisions, mobile phone handsets, personal computers and household appliances, including refrigerators and washing machines.
Kim said LG Chem's lithium-ion battery chemistry uses manganese instead of cobalt, making it more stable than batteries made by other manufacturers.
"Our pack system is quite different," he said. "This is very safe. The release of the heat is good."
The Volt is designed to plug into a standard wall outlet and travel 40 miles (65 kilometers) on battery power alone. After that, a small internal combustion engine will kick in to generate power for the car.
The car is set to go on sale next year. GM hasn't announced pricing, but it is expected to cost $30,000 to $40,000 initially.
AP Business Writer Kelly Olsen in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
On the Net:
Chevrolet Volt:

GM to Open Lithium-Ion Battery Plant

General Motors Corp., looking to supply its Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric car, said it plans to build the first lithium-ion battery-pack factory operated by a major auto maker in the U.S.
GM hopes the Volt will do for the Detroit auto maker what the Prius hybrid did for Toyota Motor Corp. of Japan: give the company a must-have technology while cultivating a green image.
Preparation for the plant, to be located in Michigan, is to begin early this year, with production tooling to be installed midyear. Output is expected to start in 2010.
Until GM's battery facility is operational, Volt's battery cells will be supplied by LG Chem Ltd.'s Compact Power Inc. unit, based in Troy, Mich. A joint engineering contract with Compact Power and LG Chem is expected to speed up development of the Volt's lithium-ion battery technology. GM has been testing battery packs for the Volt, powered by cells from LG Chem, for the past 16 months.
"The design, development and production of advanced batteries must be a core competency for GM, and we've been rapidly building our capability and resources to support this direction," Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where the Volt concept was rolled out two years ago.
Mr. Wagoner said more than $1 billion has been committed to the Volt. Uncertainty over its future widened in December after GM delayed construction of a Flint, Mich., factory slated to build the car's engine.
GM's financial situation has deteriorated significantly, and the auto maker has burned through billions of dollars each quarter. GM and Chrysler LLC secured a $17 billion federal loan package in December.
Batteries have been one of the biggest hurdles for U.S.-based electric- and hybrid-vehicle manufacturers. Batteries have been made in volume in Japan, South Korea and elsewhere in Asia, and auto makers have been concerned that if battery supplies tighten, expensive Asian battery-making capacity may go to Asian auto makers first.
Write to By Shirleen Dorman at shirleen.dorman@dowjones.com

Wind turbines like David Cameron's 'don't provide much electricity'

Wind turbines mounted on town houses like David Cameron’s often do not provide a great deal of electricity because of a lack of wind in urban areas, according to research into the new technology.

By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentLast Updated: 11:51PM GMT 12 Jan 2009

Rising electricity costs and concern over climate change has led thousands of people to install wind turbines on their houses, including the leader of the Conservative Party at his home in Notting Hill, west London.
Manufacturers claim some of the new micro turbines can provide 30 per cent of a household’s electricity needs. However, the most wide-ranging study to be carried out in the UK so far found that on average the wind turbines only generate 214 watt hours per day, including when the turbine is switched off for maintenance or due to failure. This is enough electricity to power four low energy lightbulbs for a day or less than five per cent of a household’s daily electricity needs.
The study by consultant engineers Encraft found only wind turbines on buildings in exposed positions or high up away from other buildings generated a substantial amount of energy. But the wind energy industry questioned the validity of the study and said wind turbines could still generate valuable amounts of electricity if put up in the right place.
Encraft monitored electricity output from 26 building-mounted wind turbines from leading manufacturers installed on homes from Cornwall to North East Scotland.
There are currently 6,500 small and micro wind turbines in the UK, with thousands more set to be installed this year. The turbines are on sale at leading DIY stores from around £1,500. Some manufacturers claim the technology can provide a third of a household’s electricity needs and cut household bills.
However the year-long study found that on average, including when the turbine was switched off for maintenance or broken, each turbine generated 214 watt hours per day. This would provide less than five per cent of a household’s electricity needs and save just £33.
The best performing turbine on top of a ten storey building in the midlands provided enough energy to power a house for the day but another turbine on a low rise a few miles away did not even generate enough electricity to run the turbine’s electronics.
Matthew Rhodes, managing director of Encraft, said manufacturers need to provide clearer information on siting wind turbines.
“While we expected the trial results to be somewhat below manufacturer claims, we have been taken aback by the magnitude of the discrepancy, and are disappointed that the results of the trial suggest that micro wind is suited only to tall buildings and coastal sites,” he said.
But Alex Murley, of the British Wind Energy Association, said small and micro wind turbines could provide more than 10 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs if sited correctly.
He said: “Although this may be the first trial to look at micro-wind turbines within urban environments, low samples sizes, extremely poor sighting and patchy data renders the trial unrepresentative of the wider sector. Clearly micro-wind turbines do not work everywhere, but the UK is the windiest country in Europe, and there are literally millions of excellent sites waiting for sensible application of this successful technology – If correctly sited and installed, micro-wind turbines can cut bills, cut carbon and deliver real economic, and environment benefits.”

Many home turbines fall short of claims, warns study

Juliette Jowit
The Guardian, Tuesday 13 January 2009

Home wind turbines are generating a fraction of the energy promised by manufacturers, and in some cases use more electricity than they make, a report warns today. The results of what is thought to be the most comprehensive study undertaken of the industry show the worst performers provided just 41 watt-hours a day - less than the energy needed for a conventional lightbulb for an hour, or even to power the turbine's own electronics.
On average the turbines surveyed provided enough electricity to light an energy-efficient house, but this still only represented 5%-10% of the manufacturers' claims, said consultants Encraft. The findings will be an embarrassment for an industry which was an early winner from the small but high-profile rush to adopt green technologies. Trendsetters included the actor Pete Postlethwaite at his country house in Shropshire and novelist Iain Banks at his home near Edinburgh. Opposition leader David Cameron applied for permission for a turbine on his west London home.
But the results also prove that when turbines are put up in the right places they are a good investment, said Matthew Rhodes, Encraft's managing director. "Sadly, an average semi-detached house, like the areas where most people live, where there are obstructions like trees and buildings, are poor locations," he said. The "vast majority" of customers had been poorly advised, said Rhodes: "There's a risk they [customers] will go off the whole agenda."
The study, funded by the British Wind Energy Association and the government, looked at turbines made by five manufacturers in four rural, 10 suburban and 12 urban sites for a year. It found the best performing turbines would generate "clean" electricity equivalent to that needed to manufacture them in less than two years, while the worst performing ones would take 40 years.
However, Alex Murley, the BWEA's micro-generation expert, said the study had been skewed unfairly, with few sites, and too many in areas with poor wind.
New codes of conduct for manufacturers and installers had been introduced, he added. The latest BWEA figures show 1,000 building-mounted small turbines had been installed in the UK by the end of 2007, with 900 of those installed during that year.

Pickens' Windmills Tilt Against Market Realities

Texas Oilman's Plan for Renewable Energy Faces Strong Headwinds as Oil Prices Subside and the Credit Crisis Makes Landfall

He boasts his own self-declared army and the support of 13 governors, 53 congressmen and 180 mayors, along with the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association. He has plugged his cause on countless news shows and spent $60 million of his own money on a massive ad spree.
Now T. Boone Pickens is about to find out which has more oomph: all of the above, or a $100 drop in the price of oil.
The flinty Dallas billionaire is going all out to sell lawmakers and the next administration on his plan to wean the U.S. off Middle East oil by ramping up the use of wind power and natural gas.

Trouble is, energy markets, and a fair share of skeptics, keep tilting against him.
When the 80-year-old oil magnate launched his vaunted Pickens Plan on July 8, crude oil was at $136 a barrel and rising. Crude has since slumped to below $40 a barrel, as have public concerns over oil supplies and the urgent need for alternatives.
"Cheap oil doesn't help," says Mr. Pickens, who predicted in July that oil would never again dip below $100 a barrel. "It just means we have to work harder."
Not since fellow Texas oilman H. Ross Perot dropped $65 million on his 1992 presidential quest to block the North American Free Trade Agreement and rid the country of its national debt has any lone citizen thrown similar cash and zeal into a public cause.
"This to me is like a war without guns," says Mr. Pickens between a flurry of meetings one recent morning in his hotel suite across from the White House.
The folksy Oklahoma native and his much-touted energy plan have hit some rough spots recently. Mr. Pickens now hopes that a last burst of advertising, plus grassroots help from his growing legion of volunteers, will get the new Congress to turn at least parts of his plan into law. He is in Washington Tuesday to meet with lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Mr. Pickens's original vision had something for everyone. First he would build a wind farm in Texas with 2,700 turbines costing upward of $10 billion. That would pump power into the national grid, allowing huge amounts of natural gas to be diverted from power plants to newly equipped cars and trucks. The result, he promised, would be a sharp reduction in the country's dependence on Middle East crude.
But the credit crunch gutted the wind project's financing, putting all those turbines on hold. "The wind stuff is deader than hell right now," he concedes.
By October, the value of Mr. Pickens's own equity hedge fund, BP Capital, fell by around 60% from its peak in late June.
Mr. Pickens suffered another jolt in November, when California voters resoundingly defeated a ballot measure he supported to put $5 billion in bond money into promoting natural-gas vehicles in the Golden State. Mr. Pickens's own company, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., the country's largest owner of natural-gas filling stations, sponsored the plan and put up $19 million to back it.
Then there was the long swoon in oil prices, which have now driven fuel costs down to their lowest level in years. Mr. Pickens pitched his plan as the best way to slash the country's foreign-oil tab by a third within 10 years. Plunging prices managed to do that work, it turns out, in less than six months.
A rangy man who still works out almost every morning, Mr. Pickens banks heavily on his own mystique for bucking adversity and making vast fortunes. "I have lived through 14 presidents, one Depression and as many booms and busts as you can imagine," he says in his most recent TV spot, set to air extensively in the Washington area this month.
A lifelong Republican who helped fund the Swiftboat attacks on Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign, Mr. Pickens took his plan first to President Bush. The two men met in the Oval Office in April.

"The president sat and listened for an hour and a half," Mr. Pickens says. "And then nothing happened. No call back. Nothing. So I decided to do it myself."
He didn't fare much better with the two presidential nominees. When he sat down with Sen. John McCain in August, the Arizona Republican chastised him for "trying to pick winners" by so openly favoring natural gas. President-elect Barack Obama seemed more amenable when the two met in a hotel conference room in Reno, Nev., a few weeks later.
Mr. Pickens sketched out his plan in series of pie charts on a white board. "He didn't do any back flips or anything but he did seem to like what I was saying," Mr. Pickens says.
Mr. Pickens hasn't been shy about tweaking his plan to keep abreast of critics and the collapsing market. He first proposed that Congress mandate that all new fleet vehicles run on natural gas. That went down with a loud thud among critics such as Fred Smith, chief executive of Fedex Corp., whose massive fleet includes 672 aircraft and more than 80,000 motorized vehicles.
Mr. Smith, who declined to comment, argues that the best way to curb America's oil use is to convert to electric cars and delivery trucks. He opposes the Pickens plan's heavy focus on natural gas, saying it would require onerous additions to the country's infrastructure and deepen the reliance on fossil fuels. An influential group of corporate CEOs and former generals that he co-chairs, called Securing America's Energy Future, is of the same view.
So Mr. Pickens shifted his focus to the country's truckers, saying that all new long-haul trucks should be required to run on natural gas. That didn't sit well with former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves, who heads the American Trucking Association.
The son of a truck operator, Mr. Graves laid out his objections over breakfast recently in Mr. Pickens's suite. Many companies, he noted, are already turning to diesel hybrids. Natural gas-run trucks are about a third more expensive than traditional diesel trucks. Nationwide filling stations for natural gas don't exist.
"How do you just airlift in the infrastructure to make this happen?" he said.
Mr. Pickens has recently taken to labeling his critics as un-American. Mr. Graves got the full dose.
"Bill, I just want to warn you on this," Mr. Pickens said, putting down his fork. "I'm going to make you look unpatriotic for supporting foreign oil. I just want to make sure you understand that."
Taken aback, Mr. Graves pointed out raspberries and croissants arrayed before them. The foreign oil helped deliver the food, he said. "We wouldn't have any of this here if our trucks hadn't delivered it," he said. "So what's more patriotic, Boone?"
Since July, Mr. Pickens has logged more than 300 hours aboard his personal jet and spent five days a week outside of Dallas. His office says that, to date, word of his plan has reached 1.8 billion U.S. newspaper readers and TV watchers -- every American, that is, six times over.
Mr. Pickens is also amassing a nationwide cadre of supporters, including a "Pickens Army" of 1.3 million online adherents. One such foot soldier is Ryan Jones, a 32-year-old automation student at Idaho State University in Pocatello. The goal is to have one designated foot soldier in all 435 congressional districts. Mr. Jones, who helped convert Pocatello's mayor, is now planning a recruitment party at the local brewery to "get some people signed up," he says.
Some top lawmakers credit the Pickens publicity barrage for solidifying support for updating the U.S. electricity grid, among other things. Majority Leader Harry Reid once labeled Mr. Pickens a "mortal enemy" but now calls him "a pal." Mr. Reid talks with Mr. Pickens every few weeks, aides say, mainly to update him on energy-related legislation.
Still, for all his labors, Mr. Pickens appears likely to fall short in his quest to force some mass conversion to natural gas-fueled transportation anytime soon. Legislation now in the works, top congressional aides say, will probably include some tax incentives to get companies to reduce their oil consumption, but not much more.
Mr. Pickens promises to push on. "We've been on this energy yo-yo for 40 years," he says. "We are going to pay an unbelievable price if we don't get this right."
Write to Neil King Jr. at neil.king@wsj.com

Alternative-Energy Companies Grow Even as Others Falter

Inquiries, Sales and Funding Rise in Anticipation of New Regulations -- and Spending -- From Obama Administration

While many small businesses continue to struggle with tight credit and declining sales, one fledgling industry is seeing a boom in investment and sales growth: alternative energy.
Alternative-energy firms are reporting an influx of inquiries and business from a wide range of companies looking to increase their energy efficiency, especially from those that believe the Obama administration will impose stricter regulations requiring them to conserve energy. President-elect Obama has spoken often of the importance of alternative energy, also known as clean technology, and his federal stimulus package is expected to include plans to beef up alternative-energy infrastructure and improve energy efficiency in government buildings. In a speech last week, he called for the U.S. to double the production of alternative energy in three years.

So start-ups across a variety of areas -- solar power, biofuels and energy conservation among them -- are getting increased financing from venture capitalists and lenders at a time when other small companies are cutting back and being turned away by investors. And many are hiring more staff, boosting marketing efforts and expanding geographically.
Alternative energy "has been the brightest sector in venture capital over the last year," says Brian Fan, research director at Cleantech Group, an industry trade organization in San Francisco. "Everyone is thinking it's going to be a big priority of the incoming administration."
While the overall volume of venture-capital deals sank last year, investments in clean-technology companies totaled $8.4 billion, up nearly 40% from 2007, according to Cleantech Group. In the third quarter alone, venture capitalists poured $2.6 billion into clean technology, a quarterly record. In the fourth quarter, they invested $1.7 billion.
Some venture capitalists think clean technology is the next big thing -- the innovation that will drive the economy, much as Internet-related ventures did a decade ago. "Anytime big innovation comes along, it brings the chance to build big companies," says Erik Straser, general partner at venture-capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures in Menlo Park, Calif., which has investments in several alternative-energy start-ups.
But whether the administration will turn to energy initiatives quickly enough for all these companies to reap the rewards remains to be seen. And unlike with other new types of technology companies, the growth of clean technology "depends on the right kind of government policies and incentives," Mr. Fan says, because implementation requires a certain amount of infrastructure and tax credits to offset the expense for users.
"The policy side is absolutely critical," he says. "If [the right policies] don't get pushed through, we will see a good number of these start-ups suspend operation."
Just the anticipation of a new administration has been enough to spur interest among companies. Green Panel Inc., a solar technology and installation company in Brighton Mich., is planning to add four employees to the 14-person, two-year-old firm over the next few weeks to handle new business that has come in since the election. Even though no new energy regulations are in place yet, big companies are starting to take a look at alternative-energy options, says Adam Harris, Green Panel's chief executive. He says one industrial firm held off on an order of solar panels until after the election. And he has heard from other firms whose executives want to have systems in place ahead of any regulations for big companies.
"What's really changed is the push from the top -- the fear of what could happen if they don't" put plans in place to cut dependence on nonrenewable energy like fossil fuels, Mr. Harris says. The firm expects to double its revenue this year to nearly $4 million.
Executives at venture-capital backed Greenline Industries Inc., a Larkspur, Calif., maker of biodiesel production equipment, believe the Obama administration will create a huge demand for biodiesel and other advanced biofuels. The president-elect has said he'll require that 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels are produced by 2030, spurred by tax incentives and government spending. The appointment of former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary makes increased demand even more likely, Greenline executives say, because of his commitment to ethanol production in his state.
Greenline, which has 35 employees, declines to offer specific projections but plans to triple its sales staff in the coming weeks. "It's a reaction to the administration change and to changes we expect as a result of the people [Mr. Obama] has picked -- the policies that will be happening and the growth in demand we expect," says Donn Tice, Greenline's chief executive. The company's latest round of venture-capital financing was in March, for $20 million.
Mr. Tice says calls from potential customers have picked up in the weeks since the election, and he expects the pace to accelerate once Mr. Obama takes office. In December, Mesilla Valley Transportation signed a deal with Greenline for a 10 million-gallon processing plant, part of a multistage, $25 million project of a company offshoot called Global Alternative Fuels. The election "expedited things," says Dean Rigg, chief financial officer of the transportation company in Las Cruces, N.M., which started processing biodiesel fuel with Greenline equipment about 2½ years ago. "We're all betting" that a push toward new biofuels will come quickly from Washington, he says.
Two weeks after the inauguration, Greenline plans to launch a new corporate logo and a new tagline: "Ask Greenline." Michael Brown, the firm's founder, says it's a response to the idea that more and more people are asking how to develop alternative fuels.
Some small companies are counting on the government itself for new business. Verdiem Corp. sells software that provides centralized control over power consumption, such as remotely turning off computer monitors left on overnight. Over the past year and a half, most of the Seattle-based company's growth has come from corporate customers. But with Mr. Obama's declarations that he plans to improve the government's own energy efficiency, Verdiem Chief Executive Jeremy Jaech sees opportunity. The 60-employee company is planning to add three or four new salespeople to its 20-person sales staff in the weeks ahead to focus specifically on federal operations in Washington, D.C. The company hopes to win the business through the information-technology companies that play a role in managing government buildings.
Mr. Jaech believes Mr. Obama will need to practice what he has preached, reducing energy consumption on the federal government's estimated 6.5 million personal computers. And Mr. Obama will have to start with his own offices, he believes. For his company, Mr. Jaech adds, "it's low-hanging fruit."
But while Mr. Jaech anticipates quick growth from Washington, Verdiem is hiring in stages. "I know the federal government can take a while to do things," he says.
Write to Simona Covel at simona.covel@wsj.com

First Offshore Wind Farm is Meeting Stiff Resistance

WASHINGTON -- The fate of what would be the nation's first offshore wind farm is calling attention to the political obstacles facing renewable power, despite President-elect Barack Obama's determination to greatly expand its use.
The project, called Cape Wind, is a Boston firm's plan to build 130 windmills across 25 square miles of federal waters off Cape Cod.
Supporters say it will deliver annual reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions equivalent to taking 175,000 cars off the road. Opponents warn it will industrialize Nantucket Sound, a popular summer playground, and interfere with fishing and recreation. Some time before Mr. Obama is inaugurated Jan. 20, the Bush administration is expected to publish a review of the expected environmental impact of the project, resolving the last major regulatory hurdle blocking the project in Washington.
The conflict over Cape Wind illustrates a persistent problem for renewable power. Policy makers and environmentalists love the idea of generating clean power from the sun, wind, water and geothermal sources to displace imported oil. But at the local level, there is often opposition to the hardware needed to make renewable power work: big windmills, acres of solar panels and large-scale transmission lines.

Resolving such conflicts will be critical if Mr. Obama's administration is to achieve his goal of generating at least 25% of the nation's electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Wind, solar and geothermal energy currently account for less than 1% of U.S. electricity supply.
The Energy Department concluded last year that wind energy could generate 20% of the nation's electricity by 2030. But that would happen only if a "superhighway" transmission system is created to carry wind power from sparsely populated areas to states and cities that need the energy.
"You can build wind farms all day, but unless you have eminent domain to allow you to build a 1,000-mile transmission line, it won't work," says James Rogers, chief executive of North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp., referring to proposals in Congress to mandate that states derive a minimum percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. Duke has opposed proposals in Congress to establish a national renewable portfolio standard.
Transmission-line projects and wind farms also encounter resistance at the local level from groups that object to the impact on property values, endangered species or scenery. Such opposition can be critical to determining whether projects get built, because they typically require approval from state or local authorities.
In the case of Cape Wind, a group of Cape Cod residents opposed to the project have filed lawsuits in federal court in Massachusetts to block the endeavor, and enlisted powerful allies in Washington to slow the project.
In 2006, then-Sen. Ted Stevens (R., Alaska) inserted language into a Coast Guard spending bill to allow Massachusetts' then-governor, Mitt Romney, to veto it. The provision was dropped after other lawmakers objected.
Last month, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, James Oberstar (D., Minn.), asked the Coast Guard to wait 60 days before making a final recommendation to the U.S. Interior Department's Minerals Management Service on how to handle potential safety issues associated with the wind farm.
Rep. Oberstar has complained that the Cape Wind project is being considered "without the benefit of a uniform set of national navigational safety standards."
The wind farm's supporters have accused him of attempting to derail the project at the eleventh hour, and some have suggested he is acting at the behest of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D., Mass.). Sen. Kennedy, whose family compound is in Hyannis Port, Mass., has long opposed the project.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Oberstar said his request to the Coast Guard reflects his desire for "a fair and open process" transparent to the public, not any effort to help Sen. Kennedy.
A spokeswoman for Sen. Kennedy said the senator's aides have spoken to Rep. Oberstar's staff about Cape Wind, but neither the senator nor his aides asked Rep. Oberstar to weigh in with the Coast Guard in this instance. She added that the senator's objections to the project are "based on safety, environmental, fishing, economic and public interest issues" -- not the project's potential impact on the view from his home.
Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind LLC, the closely held firm developing the wind farm, says that if it is successful, it could be easier to build more offshore wind farms in the future. But Mr. Rodgers says he expects continued legal challenges, even if the government blesses the project. "Our opponents have proven to be quite litigious," he says.
A spokesman for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound says the group sees "lots of room to protest" the government review.
Write to Stephen Power at stephen.power@wsj.com

Algae - the slimy scum that could end the fuel crisis

Oil produced from algae could soon start fuelling our cars, and even be baked into our birthday cakes.

By Sanjida O'Connell Last Updated: 10:02PM GMT 12 Jan 2009

It's green, slimy and one of the simplest organisms on the planet, but it could hold the key to the impending global fuel crisis. Algae, the scum that coats ponds, puddles and pavements, has the potential to be turned into oil capable of powering planes, trains and cars.
Estimates of when our oil reserves will run out vary widely, but we are already looking for alternatives. One of the most popular has been biofuel: oil derived from corn, rape and soya. Until recently, an EU target stated that by 2020, 10 per cent of the fuel we use to power our vehicles should come from crops. The wording has now been modified to include other forms of renewable power, such as electricity, but even so many scientists suspect that the target is unlikely to be met. In 2007, EU countries produced 5.7 million tons of biofuel, just two per cent of the amount that would be required.
And that is not the only problem, as Dr Richard Pike, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, explains. "Typically, the figure for the gross amount of biodiesel produced per hectare excludes the cost of fertiliser, harvesting, transportation," he says. "You actually end up with as little as one or two tons."
Such fuel crops also require land that could be used to grow food: "In the long term, biodiesel is unsustainable, because for every one per cent of diesel fuel you want to replace in the UK, you need to use one per cent of our land area."
According to its proponents, producing biofuel from algae would get around this problem, because the organism neither competes for arable land nor requires nutrients. Instead, algae use sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce minute amounts of nutrients – lipids (fatty oils) – which can, after processing, be used as biodiesel. Algae grow at a phenomenally fast rate and have a very high yield: 10,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre compared to 48 gallons from soya and 120 gallons from rape.
There are two main ways that algae can be grown: by "fishing" or "farming". "Fishing" is a low-tech, low-cost technique whereby wild strains of algae are cultivated in open ponds. "Farming" is more sophisticated, with the algae grown in photo-bioreactors – translucent plastic or glass tanks. Arguments over the best technique continue: the farmers say that the fishers' process is flawed because the variables – temperature, light, water evaporation and contamination – cannot be controlled, while the fishers claim that the farmers' bioreactors require an energy supply and are expensive to maintain. Will Thurmond, chairman of research and development at the National Algae Association in America (where all but one of the major algae biodiesel firms are based), believes that pure economics will eventually choose between them: "For research purposes, growing algae in photo-bioreactors is better, because you can control all the variables. But once the research has been completed by all the companies involved and moves into large-scale production, the debate will be resolved."
But once you've got the vast amounts of green sludge, how do you go about extracting oil from pond scum? "The old method is to take algae out of a pond with a fishing net, dry it out and literally squeeze the oil out," says Thurmond. "More modern methods have required chemical solvents, but recently the University of Texas has developed a way of using ultrasonic waves to rupture the cell walls: the oil rises to the top of the container and you can skim it off the top of the cells. This is the preferred method, as it's non-polluting, but it's not yet advanced enough to be commercially viable."
Whatever the method employed, the extraction procedure can be costly and complicated, and further processing is still required before the algae can be turned into vehicle fuel. The cost of this has dropped dramatically: to make algae biodiesel in the lab 25 years ago cost $3,000 per gallon; today it is less than $20. However, in the US, petrol costs $2 per gallon and diesel $2.70 – to be competitive, algae biodiesel would need to be around the $2 mark, too. As Thurmond admits, "It's the last yard that's hard."
Yet a solution to that cost problem could be available from a familiar figure in the world of genetic engineering. The renowned American scientist Craig Venter has – with his team at Synthetic Genomics in California – developed bacteria that require only sunlight and water to grow, and secrete the required oil as a by-product of the metabolic process. Professor Venter, who was the first person to have his entire genome sequenced and hopes to become the first to create an entirely synthetic life form, says that if he can raise the funding to build a pilot plant, his bacterial oil could be pumped straight into an existing refinery.
Whichever modified micro-organism the new oil comes from, there is one significant drawback. Although they will work in cars, biofuels aren't up to the demands of the aviation industry, as they freeze too easily in the sub-zero temperatures at high altitude. Yet finding a replacement for jet fuel is vital: the aviation industry uses 1.6 billion gallons of fuel a month in the US alone, so an alternative source would significantly reduce its carbon footprint.
But here again algae could succeed where crops can't. Solazyme, a "synthetic biology" firm in San Francisco, has produced an algae-based kerosene suitable for commercial and military jet engines, by using a strain of algae that produces an oil naturally analogous to aviation oil.
Solazyme has also dispensed with what scientists had thought was the key ingredient in growing algae: sunlight. Dr Harrison Dillon, the president and chief technology officer, says that they grow their sludge in the dark, "feeding" it with sawdust, or the waste left over from sugarcane farming. "It's a thousand times cheaper to produce oil this way than having algae sitting in the sun," he says. "Our algae cells are so fat they're literally bursting with oil, which makes it easy to extract.
"Essentially, we're making [a form of] crude oil, and we can turn it into any product that's made from crude oil – which potentially includes many of the things in the home, from cosmetics, to cleaning supplies to plastics and clothes."
The company also produces an edible oil, which has a nutty flavour and is more nutritious than olive oil. "The price of plant oils has been skyrocketing in recent years. We can take non-edible material like sawdust and use algae to produce this nutritious cooking oil. It even tastes pretty good. This year my birthday cake was made out of it."
So how long will it be before oil from algae is a commercial reality, whether in our kitchens or in our cars? "The optimists say it'll be as soon as 2010," says Thurmond, "but I'm more pessimistic. It remains to be seen whether companies can attract the capital required or their process stands up scientifically. I think it'll be three or four years from now."

Going green falls foul of the recession, says Environment Agency

The majority of businesses plan to cut back investment in energy and water efficiency measures to save money during the recession, a survey by the Environment Agency has found.

By Richard Tyler Last Updated: 6:38PM GMT 12 Jan 2009

Some 55pc of those polled said that short term cash demands outweighed the need to experiment with new environmental initiatives.
Water efficiency appeared to have fallen the furthest down the list of priorities with only 10pc of firms placing water above energy efficiency.
The Environment Agency, which has just launched its water efficiency awards, said that a single dripping tap could add up to more than £900 in water and treatment costs.
Hotel and restaurant owners are in the agency's sights, with 40pc reporting that they have no water saving measures in place at all. The agency said it had research that indicated that such businesses waste up to half the water they use.
The survey found that those firms in areas of the country seen as short of water were the least likely to be trying to conserve water.
Almost three quarters of those in the South East did not have formal policies on water and energy efficiency, the agency said, compared with 61pc that did in Wales.
One such business is Jeremy Thorne's drive-through car wash and valeting firm Pitstop. Based in Swansea, one of the wettest cities in the UK, Mr Thorne was fully aware of the cost of water on his business. Not only is it his third major outlay, after property and staff costs – he employs eight people – but when it rains demand for his services falls.
"My business is very, very much affected by the weather. The rain cuts my business down dramatically. If I do 100 cars when it's sunny, I'll do 20 if it rains," he said.
At the time his water bill was £7,500 a year even though he was cutting corners. "We were doing what we should not have been doing. We were getting the water and shoving it down the drain," Mr Thorne said.
Mr Thorne decided to try to reduce his costs and came across the idea of installing a reed-based water recycling system while watching a programme on the History Channel about the way that the water from the Colorado River is filtered as it is channelled into Los Angeles.
Pitstop's mini-version sees the water from washing the vehicles seep into a tank where it settles. The water is then pumped into another tank and passed through the reed bed, where the bacteria living on the reeds breaks down the solid waste in the water. It is then pumped into a third tank for reuse in the car wash.
The system is efficient. "We actually found we were using less electricity than we did when we were pumping the water into the drains," he said.
"What we really wanted to do is save money. We looked at our business and realised that we could save a great deal of money by looking at what we did. I began to realise that I had all these different chemicals and solutions for cleaning cars. You get lazy in business and use the same things that you did the year before. When we analysed the products we realised that we used products that were harmful to the environment and expensive as well."
The investment cost £15,000 and the firm has now cut its water bill by 85pc. "I paid for it in the first two years. I was quite shocked how much you expenditure is on water," he said.
•HM Revenue and Customs has said that rainwater harvesting equipment is among the list of equipment that qualify for 100pc first year tax allowances. The full list can be found at: www.eca-water.gov.uk

Gulf oil states seeking a lead in clean energy

By Elisabeth Rosenthal
Published: January 13, 2009

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates: With one of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world, these oil-rich emirates would seem an unlikely place for a green revolution.
Gasoline sells for 45 cents a gallon. There is little public transportation and no recycling. Residents drive between air-conditioned apartments and air-conditioned malls, which are lighted 24/7.
Still, the region's leaders know energy and money, having built their wealth on oil. They understand that oil is a finite resource, vulnerable to competition from new energy sources.
So even as President-elect Barack Obama talks about promoting green jobs as America's route out of recession, gulf states, including the emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are making a concerted push to become the Silicon Valley of alternative energy.
They are aggressively pouring billions of dollars made in the oil fields into new green technologies. They are establishing billion-dollar clean-technology investment funds. And they are putting millions of dollars behind research projects at universities from California to Boston to London, and setting up green research parks at home.

"Abu Dhabi is an oil-exporting country, and we want to become an energy-exporting country, and to do that we need to excel at the newer forms of energy," said Khaled Awad, a director of Masdar, a futuristic zero-carbon city and a research park that has an affiliation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that is rising from the desert on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.
These are long-term investments in an alternative energy future that neither falling oil prices nor the global downturn seems likely to reverse. Even as the local real estate market is foundering, leaders in politics, business and research from across the globe will flock to this distant kingdom for three days starting Monday for the second World Future Energy Summit, which just one year after its inception here has become something of a Davos gathering on renewable energy.
This year's guest list includes a former British prime minister, Tony Blair, and the European Union energy commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, as well as the oil and gas ministers of Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. In attendance will also be executives representing hundreds of companies, large and small, from BP and Credit Suisse to dozens of start-up companies from Europe and the United States.
"Truth is that locally money is tight as everywhere, and the property market is certainly taking a correction downwards," said Richard Hease, whose Dubai-based company, Turret Middle East, organized the conference. "But on the renewable energy front, it is business as usual."
This new investment aims to maintain the gulf's dominant position as a global energy supplier, gaining patents from the new technologies and promoting green manufacturing. But if the United States and the European Union have set energy independence from the gulf states as a goal of new renewable energy efforts, they may find they are arriving late at the party.
"The leadership in these breakthrough technologies is a title the U.S. can lose easily," said Peter Barker-Homek, chief executive of Taqa, Abu Dhabi's national energy company. "Here we have low taxes, a young population, accessibility to the world, abundant natural resources and willingness to invest in the seed capital."
The vision of a renewable future in the gulf is rooted not so much in a fuzzy green sentiment — though that is starting to take hold — as in analysis of the region's economic future and the high-end lifestyles of its citizens.
"You see what the gulf states have achieved in terms of modern infrastructure and beautiful architecture, but this has come at a very high environmental price," said Awad of Masdar, standing in a field of 40 types of solar panels that the project's engineers are testing, and using to power offices.
"We know we can't continue with this carbon footprint," he said. "We have to change. This is why Abu Dhabi must develop new models — for the planet, of course, but also so as not to jeopardize Abu Dhabi."
The world is now consuming 80 million barrels of day, and that could continue to rise steeply over the coming decades if population and consumption trends continue. That could mean having to add six Saudi Arabias worth of oil output just to keep up, according to Barker-Homek, at a time when scientists are warning that carbon levels need to be cut significantly to avoid potentially disastrous global warming.
To hedge their positions, then, an increasingly sophisticated generation of largely Western-educated leaders in the Middle East are seizing on green business opportunities, by seeding research in faraway nations.
The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, announced last January that he would invest $15 billion in renewable energy. That is the same amount that President-elect Obama has proposed investing — in the entire United States — "to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future."
Masdar, the model city that will generate no carbon emissions, is tied to the crown prince's ambitions. Designed by Norman Foster, the British architect, it will include a satellite campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a research park with laboratories affiliated with Imperial College London and other institutions.
In Saudi Arabia, the new state-owned King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or Kaust, gave a Stanford scientist $25 million last year to start a research center on how to make the cost of solar power competitive with that of coal. Kaust, now in its first grant cycle, also gave $8 million to a Berkeley researcher developing green concrete.
And it has other agreements as well, with Caltech, Cambridge, Cornell, Imperial, La Sapienza, Oxford and Utrecht, to name just a few.
In November, the Qatari government signed an agreement with Britain's visiting prime minister, Gordon Brown, to invest £150 million, or more than $220 million, in a British low-carbon technology fund, dwarfing the fund's investments from home.
For the rest of the world, the enormous cash infusion may provide the important boost experts say is needed to get dozens of emerging technologies — like carbon capture, microsolar and low-carbon aluminum — over the development hump to make them cost-effective.
"The impact has been enormous," said Michael McGehee, the associate professor at Stanford who received the $25 million Saudi grant. "It has greatly accelerated the development process."
Director of the largest solar cell research group in the world, Professor McGehee had tried and failed to get money from the United States government or American industries to commercialize cheaper solar cells. Research money is tight, he noted.
With the Saudi money he has hired 16 new researchers and expects the new energy cells to dominate the market by 2015. "People are astonished to see how big this grant is and where it came from," he said, noting that his past grants from the United States government were one-fiftieth that amount.
Experts say the vast investments from the gulf states have already restarted stalled environmental technologies.
Nancy Tuor, vice chairwoman of CH2M Hill, the Canadian construction firm that is building Masdar city, said that the sheer size of the investment had had a "forcing effect," pushing polluting industries to experiment with cleaner solutions.
For example, initial plans for Masdar excluded both aluminum and conventional concrete because the production of those materials generates high levels of carbon emissions, which warm the planet. Aluminum manufacturers protested and came back with a product that reduced emissions by 90 percent compared with regular aluminum; it is now included in the project.
Proponents say Masdar goes beyond creating new materials and is in fact exploring a new model for urban life. Masdar will use one quarter of the energy of a conventional city its size (about 50,000 people) — an amount that it will produce itself.
"When people think about sustainability, they think about devices," said Gerard Evenden, a partner at Foster and Partners, the British architectural firm that is designing the site. "But here you're taking it to a city scale, which has much more of an impact — connecting the devices to the structure to the transportation to the people."
The city will have no cars; people will move around using driverless electric vehicles that move on a subterranean level. The air-conditioning will be solar powered.
With no industrial history, the gulf states say they have the advantage of starting from scratch in developing green manufacturing; countries like the United States are forced to retool ailing industries, like car manufacturing.
Also, although the gulf states have previously showed little interest in green energy like wind or solar, they have another advantage, Awad noted as he stood in the shimmering desert. "The sun shines 365 days a year," he said.

Plugging Britain's green energy gap

David Wighton: Business Editor’s commentary

The Government will be on stronger ground today when the focus turns to the potential for creating thousands of “green collar” jobs.
Britain's ageing energy infrastructure is falling apart. Replacing our crumbling, dirty power stations with modern nuclear reactors, wind and tidal power schemes will be a huge challenge. It also represents a great opportunity.
At a cost of at least £100 billion over the next ten years, their construction will provide work for hundreds of thousands of people.
At the same time, the export market for clean energy is just opening up, as governments around the world pass legislation that will force them to slash their carbon emissions.
The sad truth is that, despite a strong science base at universities and a handful of world-class businesses, British companies have not led the way. The Government may have ambitious plans to ring the country with offshore windfarms but the big turbine manufacturers are Germany's Siemens and Denmark's Vestas.
Back in the 1950s and 60s, Britain's nuclear industry led the world but it has since been carved up between the French and the Japanese.
In an effort to prevent us missing out again, the Government is joining some of Britain's biggest companies in a £600 million scheme called the Energy Technology Institute (ETI), more details of which will be announced today.
The credit crunch has left small companies and universities working in renewable energy starved of funding. The ETI hopes to fill some of that gap. It should be money very well spent.