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Clean Tech News & Views Link Drop

Some clean tech news and views from around that we didn’t cover this week:

Caltech Researchers Create Highly Absorbing, Flexible Solar Cells with Silicon Wire Arrays

Using arrays of long, thin silicon wires embedded in a polymer substrate, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has created a new type of flexible solar cell that enhances the absorption of sunlight and efficiently converts its photons into electrons. The solar cell does all this using only a fraction of the expensive semiconductor materials required by conventional solar cells….

Coal’s burnout: Have investors moved on to cleaner energy sources?

The headline news for the coal industry in 2010 was what didn’t happen: Construction did not begin on a single new coal-fired power plant in the United States for the second straight year….

New Sen. Mike Lee Defends Hiring Energy Lobbyist As Chief Of Staff

Incoming Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) ran as a tea party candidate, who claimed to be determined to change how business was done in Washington. Yet on Fox News Sunday this morning, Lee was asked by Chris Wallace why if his goal was to “drain the swamp” would he pick to have an energy lobbyist as his Chief of Staff? Lee responded that he wasn’t “scared” of lobbyists and that his lobbyist was “brilliant”….

Hawaii’s Clean Energy Outlook: Sunny

Hawaii’s clean-energy sector mushroomed in 2010, and industry observers and insiders are anticipating another record year for 2011….

Why science-based (dire) warnings are an essential part of good climate messaging

Back in November I explained how the media blew the story of UC Berkeley study on climate messaging.   That study found the best message is also the most science-based:  Doing nothing risks “many devastating consequences” but “much of the technology we need already exists.”  We just need to deploy it already!…

America’s Infrastructure Deficit

Seven of the country’s major transit projects received a late (or very early) Christmas present last week, when the Federal Transit Administration announced the distribution of $182.4 million under the New Starts program, which provides aid to local subway, light rail, and bus rapid transit lines — and, we’ve argued, creates jobs in the process….

Early infrastructure investment might be the plan for these seven projects — but unfortunately it’s not the plan for the country at large. Ezra Klein, no stranger to the argument that now is a great time to spend on infrastructure, says there are two types of deficits in present-day America: The budget deficit we’ve heard about to death, and the “investment” deficit that’s rarely mentioned. Infrastructure projects, Klein wrote Monday, are a great way to address the latter….

Massachusetts to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent this decade

The State of Massachusetts has set the highest possible reduction requirement for greenhouse gases allowed under state enviroinmental legislation.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles mandated a 25 per cent reduction in emissions against 1990 levels within 10 years, arguing that the state was already two thirds of the way towards the target thanks to existing measures….

CEO calls Kasich’s decision to kill Ohio’s job-creating high-speed rail project “mind-boggling”

Pracht: “Where would Ohio be today if it opted out of the interstate highway system?”

John Kasich, the newly tea-party governor of Ohio doesn’t just deny climate science.  He is apparently unaware that everyone from the German military to the once staid International Energy Agency is warning of a looming peak oil crisis (see World’s top energy economist warns: “We have to leave oil before oil leaves us”)….

Actually, Highway Builders, Roads Don’t Pay For Themselves

You’ve heard it a thousand times from the highway lobby: Roads pay for themselves through “user fees” — a.k.a. gas taxes and tolls — whereas transit is a drain on the taxpayer. They use this argument to push for new roads, instead of transit, as fiscally prudent investments.

The myth of the self-financed road meets its match today in the form of a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group: “Do Roads Pay For Themselves?” The answer is a resounding “no.” All told, the authors calculate that road construction has sucked $600 billion out of America’s public purse since the dawn of the interstate system….

Image Credit: US PIRG (pdf), p. 16

A Powerful Argument for U.S. High-Speed Rail

A few weeks ago Ryan Avent laid out an extremely thoughtful position on the state of American high-speed rail. All serious followers of this ongoing discussion, of which this site has many, will want to read it in full. For the rest, my summary will have to suffice.

Avent’s strongest point is that high-speed rail investments are held to a different standard than other transportation projects. The first response to a proposed rail project these days is that it’s too expensive and won’t pay for itself. But if economic efficiency is the ultimate goal, then all types of transportation should have to pay for their infrastructure. That means drivers should cover the cost of road maintenance and construction (which they don’t), and that means raising the gas tax (which we won’t)….

Report: Japan promises $1.6bn clean tech exports investment

A Japanese government fund will invest as much as 130 billion yen (£1bn) in overseas clean tech projects involving Japanese companies, the Nikkei newspaper reported [yesterday]….

High-speed rail route to get 2m trees for shelter

Residents next to the 250mph high-speed rail route between London and Birmingham will be sheltered from the £17bn project by two million freshly planted trees….

Republicans launch swift attack on Obama’s climate change agenda

As widely anticipated, Republicans in the House of Representatives have wasted no time with their efforts to neuter the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), using the first two days of legislative business to introduce several bills that would strip the watchdog of its right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions….

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