January 31, 2007

Sea Change In Energy Attitudes

By: by Eric Anderson, Deputy Business Editor, Times Union


ALBANY -- With growing concern about global warming and energy dependence, attitudes are quickly changing among developers, policymakers and consumers, several energy industry representatives said Monday.

On college campuses, students are pushing for sustainable designs, said Thomas Birdsey, chief executive officer of Albany-based Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering PC. Developers, meanwhile, are under pressure from tenants to take a longer view of how their buildings use and conserve energy.

Birdsey was part of a panel at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering that discussed market opportunities for the clean energy industry.

Joining him were Pradeep Haldar, executive director of New Energy New York; Bruce Bailey, president of AWS Truewind LLC, an Albany-based wind energy consultant; and Stephan DeLuca, chief executive officer of Halfmoon-based solar-film maker DayStar Technologies Inc.

"Do we need new energy?" Bailey asked. "Of course we do." But when he asks where it will come from, he said, consumers often pause.

"We find there's initial resistance to wind projects where they haven't existed before," he said. "Visual pollution, noise and bird kills are very overplayed by opposition groups."

And yet, he said, energy demand continues to grow in New York state.

DeLuca said the subsidies offered for installation of new energy systems might be better spent subsidizing the cost of paying for the energy being generated.

"That comes back year after year after year," he said.

DeLuca said the biggest markets for solar energy are in Germany and Japan, but added that California might soon move into second place.

"In Germany, they've placed long-term incentive programs that have started to change behavior there" among consumers, DeLuca said.

Earlier, Birdsey announced plans to locate his firm's new business group, EYP/energy, which will include about 15 managers, architects, designers and engineers, at CNSE's Albany Nanotech complex as part of a $3.5 million National Institute for Sustainable Energy. EYP, CNSE and the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research will provide funding for the institute.

NYSTAR also presented a check of $1.9 million to CNSE to launch an energy test farm that would develop and test nanomaterials and nanoelectronics for such clean energy technologies as fuel cells, solar photovoltaic cells, ultracapacitors and power electronics.

DayStar, EYP and CNSE will be joined by fuel-cell developer Plug Power Inc. of Latham, MTech Laboratories of Ballston Spa, and Custom Electronics Inc. of Oneonta in conducting research at the energy farm.