We highlight some of the most important alternative energy companies, Ford to modify the Focus so that it can compete in the all-electric market, and new LED lighting to be added to the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge.
Alternative energy is the world’s next biggest game, but who are the most important players? 24/7 Wall Street recently chose the top 25 companies in the field of eco-friendly energies and sorted the most important institutions by category. Here are some of the highlights:
In solar energy, the cream of the crop was First Energy. It has the lowest costs and their use of thin film still has advantages over the typical silicon solar companies. First Energy has a broad-based market in Europe, but is still a leading U.S. solar brand.
General Electric swept the prize for wind energy for its outstanding global presence and increased focus on alternative energies. In fact, approximately 24 percent of GE’s revenues come from its energy infrastructure. In addition, GE is expanding its reach and trying to capture China’s wind market, which is expected to grow significantly more than the U.S. market.
In the arena of biofuels, Brazil’s Cosan Ltd. emerged victor. The company is Brazil’s largest producer of sugar cane-derived ethanol and it has recently committed itself to a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell.
Even with the recent mining incident, Chile still is the best in the business. With 75 percent of the world’s lithium supply in Chile, it is no wonder the largest firm, Sociedad Quimica y Minera was chosen as the premier mining company for alternative energy.
Those are a few of the leaders on 24/7 Wall St.’s list. Oddly however, geothermal energy was still not a category that was judged. Although new advances are being made in the field, geothermal companies were left out of the top picks.
The world’s most seemingly useless material is now going to make one of the world’s most commonly used materials. Sacramento-based company Micromidas is going to a polymer to turn solid waste into plastic. What’s more, the plastic will be biodegradable and nontoxic for the body. Typically, wastewater treatment facilities separate the solids and liquids into separate tanks where the solid is eventually incinerated. Micromidas is going to turn up to 70 percent of the sludge into plastic by feeding it to their genetically engineered microbes. The microbes eat the sludge and the fat turns into a form of polyester that can be extracted and made into plastic.
General Motors is not the only company boasting a new electric car. Though the Chevrolet Volt is gaining popularity and there is a possibility of a new Korean market for the car, Ford is only a few steps behind. The company is going to revamp one of its oldest cars, the Ford Focus, with a new, energy-efficient version. The car is planned to debut near the end of 2011 and will boast a 100-mile all electric range. The car also has a fuel-powered version that touts 40 miles per gallon with an automatic transmission. Ford hopes to compete successfully with emerging hybrids like the Nissan Leaf and of course, the Chevy Volt.
The San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge, recognized by its artistic curves and tall towers, will now be known for its beautiful LED lighting. British artist Peter Fink and lighting designer Mark Major have teamed up with Buro Happold in Los Angeles to install programmable LED lighting on the bridge. Wind energy will be used to power the decorations and the color-changing lights will respond to passing ships, the speed and intensity of the cars, and the variable rate of traffic.
All is not well with the wind energy sector as one of the top Boston-based firms, First Wind, plans a $300 million IPO (initial public offering) this week. The company has been accumulating heavy debt, reaching $582 million at the end of last month. First Wind finances, develops, and operates a number of projects across the U.S., from the Northeast ranging to Hawaii. Though the company has set ambitious goals for its future, finances are tangled and wind energy’s high expenses are eating away all revenue. The IPOs are expected to sell at $24 per share.
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