2011 Green Year in Review

As we bring 2011 to a close, we look back on a year filled with green technology. Primarily brought on by President Barack Obama, the US has seen a rise in the amount of green technology and green investments. 2011 was wrought with the United States trying to compete with overseas agencies who manufacture green technology such as solar panels, alternative fuels and other products. 2011 was also the year of the Solyndra scandal. Solyndra was backed by the United States to the tune of 500 million dollars which later turned out to be a complete waste.

Mayor Emanuel won a substantial grant from the federal government to implement green efforts in the Chicago area. Chicago has seen a number of green grants. Some organizations that also received green grants were GreenFestivals.org, Ford and the Chicago Transit Authority. One of the biggest stories in the green movement was the how the Navy is testing alliterative fuels for their Mean Green Killing Machine, an eco-friendly ship that has the ability to transport up to 24 troops. The ship is 49 feet long and burns a 50-50 blend of diesel and algae based fuel. The Navy also has an eco-friendly fighter jet, the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

But the Navy wasn’t the only organization that was releasing their own eco-friendly vehicles. 2011 was also a big year for car manufacturers. The Chevy Volt, Toyota’s Prius and the Volkswagon Bulli were the talk of the town in green technology. 2011 was also a year of great home technology. The home solar kit was offered for the first time through Costco. This kit has the ability to store solar energy in a generator to power an entire home.

When the recession hit, many people in America’s heartland were affected. The loss of jobs was devastating to families. However, a lot of jobs were created in 2011 to help install and maintain wind energy through turbines. Michigan was another region that was hit hard when car manufactures closed up shop. But thank to OnSite Energy, there is hope that jobs will become affluent in the new year. OnSite Energy is trying to turn urban lots into centers for manufacturing biofuels.

First Solar To Undergo Changes

Rob Gillette, the CEO of Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar, America’s largest solar company has stepped down and as a result, the firm’s shares have plummeted some 24 percent. The timing of the exit happened while some of the most high-profile firms featured in the sector fall under a congressional microscope.

GOP critics are seeking to stop solar loan guarantees since a one-time industry favorite, Solyndra LLC, sought bankruptcy protection after having received a half-billion loan guarantee.

On Sept. 30, First Solar received no less than two loan guarantees, coming from the very same program, and just before it was set to expire.

Mike Ahearn who is Board Chairman and the company’s founder will take over as Chief Executive Officer, though, on an interim basis. He will oversee an executive team which has been witness to a veritable plethora of changes in recent months.

Last April, Bruce Sohn resigned as president of operations and in August utility systems chief Jens Meyerhoff announced that he was flying the coup.

Rob Gillette, a former chief executive at Honeywell Aerospace, was initially supposed to helm the company as the whole industry headed into a rough patch.

Rising competition from Chinese manufacturers and a smallish drop in panel prices cut profits throughout the industry and this is what probably led to Solyndra’s downfall. Solyndra was one of three manufacturers to file for bankruptcy in just the last two months. In its latest financial report, First Solar said it sold more panels than the same period last year, but weak pricing cut profits by 62 percent.

Gillette stays outwardly positive, telling investors that better times were ahead for the solar industry. Italy, Germany and other European countries which make up the biggest market for solar panels appeared to be “bouncing back” from the continent’s financial crisis, he said.