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Tim Triplett

Tim Triplett is a freelance writer and editor based out of St. Charles, Ill. He holds a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Illinois State University and an MBA from Aurora University. In his 33-year career with various newspapers and business magazines, Tim has reported on a wide range of subjects, including business-to-business marketing, industrial coatings, the global metals trade and green manufacturing.

Steel and aluminum producers make green gains

Domestic steel and aluminum producers consider “going green” a high priority—not just for altruistic reasons, but because it makes good business sense. While they have already made significant progress in becoming better stewards of their environment, mill executives say they intend to continue pushing the envelope as far as technology allows.

“We are a very energy-intensive industry,” says Brett Smith, senior director of government relations for the American Iron and Steel Institute in Washington, D.C. “It takes a lot of energy to make steel, so getting increased energy efficiency is the right thing to do for a number of reasons. It makes sense, not only from an environmental perspective but an economic perspective, as well.”

When steelmakers are more efficient, they consume less energy, and consuming less energy has a positive impact on their bottom line, says Eric J. Stuart, vice president of environment and energy for the Steel Manufacturers Association in Washington, D.C.
“Up to this point, there haven’t been regulations on the reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But many companies realize that by reducing the amount of energy they are consuming, they are also reducing their greenhouse gas emissions,” Stuart says.

For companies represented by SMA—the minimills that remelt steel scrap in giant electric arc furnaces—energy usage is a particularly large part of the cost of steel production. They are continually looking for ways to reduce their power need, and at the same time reduce the demand they are putting on the region’s electrical grid, he adds.

Aluminum, another very energy-intensive industry, has also spent an inordinate amount of time and resources to improve its energy efficiency and reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, says Charles Johnson, vice president of environment, health and safety for the Aluminum Association in Arlington, Va.

The environmental accomplishments of big aluminum and steel are all the more notable considering they were largely proactive, rather than forced by government legislation or regulation.

The domestic steel industry has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions (largely carbon dioxide) by 35 percent and increased its energy efficiency by about 30 percent since 1990. That is 240 percent of the Kyoto protocol, an international climate change agreement calling for an annual GHG reduction of 5 percent from 2008-2012, says Christopher Plummer, managing director of Metal Strategies Inc., West Chester, Pa.

Meanwhile, the aluminum industry has sharply reduced primary production, while stepping up secondary production or aluminum recycling. Since 1992, the industry has reduced primary production by more than 80 percent. During the same time period, the primary aluminum industry has become 17 percent more energy efficient, while the secondary aluminum industry has become 59 percent more energy efficient. “These are great industrial efficiency gains, especially in the current climate where energy costs and production dominate so much of the political discussion,” Johnson says.

ArcelorMittal focused on improved energy management

Larry Fabina, energy team coordinator for ArcelorMittal USA in Chicago, says that over the past four years there has been a transformation at the steelmaker, both operationally and culturally, to be more focused on improved energy management. “From the shop floor to the desk space, many employees have become conscious about how energy use affects their day-to-day life at work and at home.”

In the United States, ArcelorMittal has achieved more than $22.7 million in ongoing annual energy savings by implementing 24 projects over the past two years. “The company also expanded the number of sites engaged in its energy program during 2010, with 90 percent of our U.S. sites using the ArcelorMittal Energy Management System model,” Fabina says. In 2008, ArcelorMittal was the first steel company to achieve an Energy Star award, and has done so for four consecutive years.

Last year, ArcelorMittal competed for and was awarded a matching grant of $31.6 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for a project to capture gas flare and reuse it to produce electricity at its Indiana Harbor facility. It also has another ARRA project in the works focused on reducing energy consumption at its Burns Harbor mill.

ArcelorMittal also has set a global goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent per metric ton of steel by 2020, Fabina adds.

Fuel cell technology increasing

Adoption of fuel cell powered products is gathering increasing momentum in a wide variety of application areas. The shift from an R&D-based industry to a fully commercial one is well under way, though it has not been without its setbacks. Fuel cells are now being deployed for applications as diverse as residential power, off-grid mobile communications sites in Africa, low-carbon transportation and electrical grid reliability. According to a new report from Pike Research, Boulder, Colo., global fuel cell shipments doubled between 2008 and 2010, from approximately 7,500 units to more than 15,000 units annually during that period.

“The reasons for the groundswell of interest in fuel cells are as varied as the sectors that are implementing the technology,” says research director Kerry-Ann Adamson. “Industry and government leaders are finding that fuel cells are a highly effective tool for deploying reliable, clean power for stationary, portable and transport applications.”

Adamson adds that the largest fuel cell unit growth has been in the stationary power sector, which represented approximately 60 percent of shipments during 2010. Demand for stationary fuel cells is being driven by a number of early adopter sectors including the Japanese market for residential units, power for grid-tied and off-grid mobile base stations globally, and combined heat and power (CHP) plants for a variety of markets, including hospitals and hotels. Portable fuel cells have had their ups and downs over the past two years, with a temporary spike in shipments created by the sale of 3,000 Toshiba Dynario external battery rechargers in 2009, followed by a sharp decline in total sales in 2010. Significant volumes for transportation fuel cells in cars and buses are still several years away as automakers gear up for fuel cell vehicle (FCV) launches in 2015, though shipments from the auxiliary power unit (APU) sector continue to increase year-on-year.

In the midst of this period of market evolution, the fuel cell competitive landscape is coming into clearer focus. With literally scores of companies having active development programs, Pike Research’s analysis indicates that a handful of market leaders and fast followers are beginning to emerge. The analysis shows that in 2010 less than a dozen companies accounted for the vast majority of global shipments. “The next few years will determine which of the current fuel cell companies will survive and thrive, and which will fall by the wayside,” says Adamson, “but this is also a time when barriers to entry for new companies are decreasing. With the start of product standardization, the creation of new business models, and the increasing focus on product shipments, we fully anticipate the market opening up to many new entrants over the next five years.”

An executive summary of Pike Research’s first annual “Fuel Cells Annual Report” is available for free download on the firm’s website,

Plug-in fleets to hit 1.3 million vehicles by 2015

Over the next few years, corporations and governments will be highly focused on improving the efficiency of their vehicle fleets. While traditional hybrid electric vehicles will continue to play an important role, with the twin goals of reducing lifetime operating expenses as well as lowering emissions from their vehicles, fleet managers will increasingly turn to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) as a solution. A recent report from Pike Research forecasts that between 2010 and 2015, more than 1.3 million PEVs will be purchased for use in fleet operations, with nearly 400,000 vehicles being sold annually by the end of the forecast period.

“Plug-in electric vehicles are primarily known for their consumer applications, but they will play a greater and greater role in fleets as well,” says senior analyst Dave Hurst. “Fleet managers will be drawn to the fuel efficiency benefits of PEVs, in many cases to satisfy requirements to reduce overall fleet emissions. Tax incentives are also a powerful motivator to some fleet operators, though others will not factor this into the equation either because they do not qualify or because the tax incentive is not put back into their budget.”

Hurst adds that automakers will look to the fleet markets in these early years of PEV sales to help bolster production and reduce overall vehicle costs. As a result, passenger cars will be the leading segment in the PEV fleet market over the next five years, representing more than 80 percent of total sales in 2015. Small SUVs will also be an important segment, though their adoption will lag significantly behind passenger cars. Early adopters for fleet PEVs will include operations that have local, predictable routes such as delivery vehicles and taxis. Hurst anticipates that many fleet operators will maintain their own EV charging stations and thus will be relatively insensitive to range and charging infrastructure concerns.

Pike Research’s study, “Hybrid Electric Vehicles for Fleet Markets,” analyzes the opportunities and challenges for light-duty HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs in commercial fleet markets around the world. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website,

Timken recycles scrap metal and water

In 2010, The Timken Co., Canton, Ohio, transformed 1.6 million tons of scrap metal—the equivalent of 1.3 million junk cars—into some of the cleanest, strongest steel on earth. This Timken steel was made from nearly 100 percent recycled content, which included 350,000 tons of recycled scrap metal from Timken operations.

“Timken makes a positive impact on the world not only because of the types of products we make, but how we make them,” said Alan Oberster, vice president of environmental, health and safety. “Our steelmaking process is a great example of this. We create value by making products the world needs, and by making our steel out of scrap, we conserve natural resources while putting mountains of waste to good use.”

Oberster added that being green is not new to the company, founded by Henry Timken in 1899, a pioneer in the development of roller bearings that have enabled the energy-efficient operation of vehicles and machinery from horse-drawn wagons to the Space Shuttle.
Timken also demonstrates industry leadership in efforts to reduce energy and waste in its operations:

• In 2010, Timken diverted 20,350 tons of electric-arc furnace dust from landfills, capturing and recycling the dust byproduct of the company’s steelmaking process. Timken’s steel manufacturing relies on energy-efficient electric technology that is a green alternative to blast-furnace or basic-oxygen-furnace methods.

• The company continuously invests in technologies that reduce the amount of electricity needed to produce its steel. Timken has cut the amount of energy needed to produce steel ingots by 27 percent since 1990.  Based on 2010 production alone, the electricity saved is enough to power 11 million homes for a day.

• At its Canton steel facilities, Timken recycles 30 million gallons of water waste each day through a closed-loop recycling process, enough to fill 45 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

In recognition of Earth Day, the company has posted videos on the Timken YouTube channel featuring recycling in its steelmaking process and green jobs in the company. A wind turbine animation shows how Timken’s technologies work inside these massive systems to harness the wind’s natural energy. Additional information about the company’s green and corporate citizenship initiatives is available at Timken’s website,

Celebrating the green benefits of steel

As the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) celebrates the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, investing member companies remind consumers about the sustainability benefits and superior recycling attributes of steel – making it the most cost-effective, durable option for all market applications.

The North American steel industry has invested billions of dollars in new technologies over the past two decades. Expenditures directed towards these investments have had notable results, including reductions in energy consumption, reduced CO2 emissions, a reduced life cycle impact and increased recycling.  Since 1990, the industry has reduced energy intensity per ton of steel produced by 30 percent and CO2 emissions by 35 percent.

“Steel is integral to a modern society that enjoys a high quality of life, as we do in America. From the cars we drive to the bridges we cross, steel plays an essential role. It also provides safe packaging for the foods we eat, is a central material in the appliances we use and is the framing structure for the buildings in which we live and work. All of these steels will be recycled and re-appear as even better products, ensuring a safe and secure future,” Lawrence W. Kavanagh, president of SMDI, said. “In addition to being the world’s most recycled material, steel provides consumers with a number of benefits, such as improved fuel economy and reduced emissions in today’s vehicles, up to 40 percent cooling cost savings for buildings with reflective metal roofs, and reliable and recyclable steel utility poles that withstand wind and ice.”Kavanagh concluded that companies that select steel for their products are making the environmentally responsible choice.

SMDI, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, grows and maintains the use of steel through strategies that promote cost-effective solutions in the automotive, construction and container markets, as well as for new growth opportunities in emerging steel markets.  For more information, visit

Solar, Wind, biofuels markets surge 35 percent to 188.1 billion in 2010

The overall trend for the clean-energy market continued to be one of growth and expansion in 2010. Combined global revenue for solar, wind power, and biofuels surged 35.2 percent over the prior year, growing from $139.1 billion to $188.1 billion, according to the Clean Energy Trends 2011 report from Clean Edge Inc., a research and advisory firm devoted to the clean-tech sector. The bulk of this expansion came from a more than doubling in global solar photovoltaic installations and steady growth in the biofuels sector. For the first time since Clean Edge began tracking the wind power sector, however, the global wind market witnessed a slight year-over-year decline in market size, in both overall dollars and installations.

This year’s report represents a full decade of Clean Edge data and trends analysis. The full report can be downloaded for free at
According to Clean Edge research, the global market for solar photovoltaics has expanded from just $2.5 billion in 2000 to $71.2 billion in 2010, representing a compound annual growth rate of 39.8 percent. The global market for wind power has similarly expanded from a global market worth $4.5 billion in 2000 to more than $60.5 billion today, for a growth rate of 29.7 percent.

“As witnessed over the past decade, clean tech has proven to be a significant business opportunity, and its growth rates now rival that of earlier technology revolutions like telephony, computers and the Internet,” said Ron Pernick, Clean Edge co-founder and managing director. “We expect overall growth to slow down in some sectors as the clean-energy market reaches wide adoption and utility-scale deployment, but there’s still considerable room for expansion.”
Clean Energy Trends 2011 includes growth projections for the major clean-energy sectors (solar PV, wind and biofuels), as well as analysis of global clean-tech investment and trends. The report’s key findings include:

• Biofuels (global production and wholesale pricing of ethanol and biodiesel) reached $56.4 billion in 2010 and are projected to grow to $112.8 billion by 2020. In 2010, the biofuels market consisted of more than 27.2 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel production worldwide, up from 23.6 billion gallons in the prior year.

• Wind power (the capital cost of new installation) is projected to expand from $60.5 billion in 2010 to $122.9 billion in 2020. Last year’s global wind power installations declined slightly to 35.2 gigawatts, down from a record 37.5 GW the prior year. China, the global leader in new installations for the third year in a row, continued to see strong growth with total new installations of more than 16 GW, an increase of 27 percent. The U.S., the world’s second-largest market, declined after record growth in 2009, adding only half as much capacity as the prior year with just 5 GW installed in 2010.

• Solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components and installation) are projected to grow from a $71.2 billion industry in 2010 to $113.6 billion by 2020. New installations reached more than 15.6 GW worldwide in 2010, a more than doubling from 7.1 GW in 2009, representing the largest year-over-year increase on record.

• According to data provided by the Cleantech Group, U.S.-based venture capital investments in clean tech increased 46 percent from $3.5 billion in 2009 to $5.1 billion in 2010. Clean Edge analysis found that clean-tech’s percentage of total U.S. venture capital investments continued to rise, accounting for a record 23.2 percent of total U.S. venture activity in 2010.

The report also outlines five key trends that will impact clean-energy markets in the coming years: the phase-out of incandescent lights replaced by low-cost LEDs, advances in natural gas, cleaner aviation fuels, low-cost green buildings and innovative alternatives to rare earths.

Waste-to-energy market to triple by 2016

Three key trends that define modern civilization are increased urbanization, rising demand for energy and rapid growth in the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) that is generated by industrialized societies. However, emerging waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies hold the promise of addressing two of these major issues by utilizing MSW for the efficient production of electricity and heat using both biological and thermal methods. A recent report from Pike Research, Boulder, Colo., forecasts that global revenues from WTE systems will experience strong growth over the next five years, more than tripling in size from $4.2 billion in 2011 to almost $13.6 billion by 2016.

“Waste collected in cities contains a large amount of biological and renewable materials, and it is therefore an important source of renewable energy,” says Pike Research President Clint Wheelock. “As a consequence, energy-from-waste contributes to energy security and diversification and matches the growing demand for renewable energy in a carbon constrained world.”

Wheelock adds that policies, regulations and changing economic conditions are driving the growth of WTE capacity worldwide, creating attractive business opportunities for providers of WTE technologies and related components. Combustion is the primary technology today and is entrenched in the market, yet advanced thermal treatment (ATT) technologies such as plasma arc gasification are now emerging. Moreover, Pike Research’s analysis finds that biological technologies for treating waste offer an attractive alternative to thermal treating methods.

The WTE technology market offers opportunities for turnkey plant and key equipment suppliers, service companies that provide plant operations and maintenance, and engineering companies. Yet, the barriers to enter the turnkey business are substantial. Strong balance sheets to capture high capital-intensive projects and sustain long sales cycles, very reliable technologies and long-standing track records, and in-depth knowledge of market constraints are prerequisites to successfully operate in the market. A handful of specialist companies per region have these capabilities. The market is less constrained for key equipment categories such as air pollution control (APC), and this is also the case in the biological treatment market, where the capacities and the capital requirements of the projects are smaller.

An executive summary of Pike Research’s study, “Waste-to-Energy Technology Markets,” is available for free download on the firm’s website,

Geothermal power capacity could double by 2020

As global energy demand increases and efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions intensify, an increasing number of countries throughout the world are looking to tap geothermal resources, a clean source of power with little to no emissions.

According to a new report from Pike Research, escalating investment in geothermal power could result in a 134 percent increase in total geothermal capacity between 2010 and 2020, from 10.7 gigawatts to 25.1 GW, under a high-growth forecast scenario. Under a more conservative business-as-usual forecast scenario, the cleantech market intelligence firm estimates that geothermal power capacity would increase 34 percent to 14.3 GW by 2020.

“Worldwide potential for geothermal energy is immense,” says senior analyst Peter Asmus, “but geothermal remains an underutilized resource and represents only a small fraction of the global renewable energy portfolio. Improved access to resource data, more efficient drilling processes, increased understanding about the industry’s potential, and improving access to financing are driving expanding interest in the sector.”

Asmus adds that the current installed capacity of 10.7 GW is spread across 26 countries with a combined output of approximately 67 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. Currently, the United States is the global geothermal leader with 3.1 GW of installed capacity, and seven countries represent 88 percent of the world market. While conventional geothermal resources account for nearly all online capacity today, enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) and co-produced wells both offer opportunities for expansion outside of rift zones or volcanically active regions throughout the world.

Pike Research’s high-growth forecast scenario assumes a continued increase and persistent volatility in the price of oil, tightening carbon regulations, improved access to capital, standardization of geothermal exploration data, contribution from EGS-enabled and co-produced resources, technological breakthroughs in exploration and drilling equipment, improved access to drills and skilled labor, and sustained policies supporting renewable energy mandates, grants and tax subsidies. “Even if progress falls short in these areas,” says Asmus, “the potential for geothermal market expansion remains strong, and even our conservative business-as-usual forecast is consistent with growth rates observed in the industry since 1990.”

For a free executive summary of the report, visit:

Market growing for energy-efficient LEDs

While growth rates among applications will vary, the global market for LED luminaires is expected to grow to $8.3 billion by 2014, according to researchers at Strategies Unlimited, Mountain View, Calif.

Several factors are behind that growth. Rapid improvements in performance and price of commercially available high-brightness LED packages, heightened awareness of energy efficiency, phasing out of incandescent bulbs and fiscal stimulus by countries around the world have all combined to create conditions for adoption of white light LED technology that otherwise would have faced the low-volume-high-cost conundrum.

Quality issues that affected the market penetration of previous energy-efficient lighting technologies continue to affect this market, but the resolve to reduce energy consumption is likely to propel this technology to wide commercial adoption.

Being the most efficient light source technology for applications requiring a directional beam of light and batteries, consumer portable applications were the largest segment of the LED luminaire market in 2010. The quality of LEDs has improved to a point that performance is no longer an issue. The issue now is the price of designing LEDs into luminaires.

Color and color-changing application in architectural and entertainment applications together had revenues of more than $1 billion in 2010. Residential lighting, the fastest growing segment of the market, starting from a small base, is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 44 percent through 2014.

Global revenues for LED luminaires in commercial/industrial applications are expected to hit more than $1 billion in 2011. The outdoor area lighting applications, which benefitted from fiscal stimulus and the need for energy conservation, are expected to grow at a 38 percent rate through 2014.

Solar powered lanterns will be a low margin-high volume application assisted by nongovernmental organizations and governments trying to save fuel subsidies. The revenues for this sub-segment are forecast to grow at a rate of 58 percent for the same period. LED exit signs have become a mature market in the U.S. and are in the initial stage of market penetration in white light application in egress signage lighting outside the U.S. China is the largest market as well as the largest supplier of LED luminaires.

For more information about the “LED Luminaires, Market Analysis & Forecast,” visit:


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