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Cleantech week in review: Jan. 3 – 9

cleantech-wind-powerSpending too much time obsessively tracking the latest cleantech news on your Google Reader? Despair not: here’s a roundup of some of this week’s top stories you might have missed:

Cleantech funding hit new heights in ‘08. Yes, we’ve covered this one already, but it’s worth noting again because last year’s $8.4 billion (US) investment in cleantech ventures marked a new record.

Obama aims big. Speaking at George Mason University this Thursday, President-Elect Barack Obama called for urgent action on an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to revive the US’s staggering economy. Among the green goals included in the plan: doubling the production of alternative energy over the next three years, making energy efficiency improvements to 75 percent of federal buildings and two million homes, and starting construction of a new smart energy grid that will “deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation.”

Israel issues first solar plant licenses. The Israeli Public Utility Authority this week gave a nod to its first two planned solar power plants: Arava Power’s 4.9-megawatt photovoltaic facility and Edig Solar’s 100-kilowatt solar thermal plant. Israel aims to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Concentrator photovoltaic firm secures $47.5 million. Mountain View, California-based SolFocus this week closed a round of funding it says will help it expand its manufacturing operations and deploy more commercial concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) installations. CPV systems concentrate sunlight onto a small area of high-efficiency solar cells; SolFocus says its technology achieves more the 25 percent efficiency while using just 0.1 percent of the material used for tradition PV arrays.

2OC eyes gas pipe power. While Russia’s halt in natural gas supplies from to Europe dominated this week’s headlines, the UK-based firm 2OC announced plans to tap the pressure power of England’s gas pipeline grid to generate electricity for London. The company’s strategy relies on small turbines driven by the pressure of natural gas as it first enters pipelines.

Chinese firms aim for gigawatt of solar power. China Technology Development Group Corporation and Qinghai New Energy Group Company this week announced plans to build a 30-megawatt solar power plant in northwest China. Financed with an initial investment of $150 million (US), the facility could eventually generate 1 gigawatt of electricity, the companies said.

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