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Cars, crooks, money and hackers--2009 was a rich year indeed

Some of the hottest topics in greentech 2009.
Written by Harry Fuller on

Looking back on some of the bigger stories of 2009, I found several topics that ran through blog after blog. Most of us will never own a factory or a forty-story building. Many of us already own a personal mode of transport. So cars and motorcycles are a relevant topic when considering personal energy use.

One the wildest claims of the year came from Nissan, sort of. They allowed themselves to be credited with a claim for a 300 MPG car...in the near future. And the Japanese automakers announced plans to go electric in a big way. Here in the U.S. we're one year closer to GM's mostly-electric Volt, salvaged when the federal government decided to save GM's bacon with bail-out money. And now GM's planning to spread the Volt tech across several other brands, including the Opel brand they didn't manage to peddle during their bankruptcy crisis.

2010 will be the year the big automakers join Tesla is selling highway-suited electrics. GM's Volt is due in late '10, and Nissan will launch the (green) Leaf next year. Of course, 'lectric motorcycles are already on the streets as I blogged this past year.

Back in the spring it looked awfully bleak for hydrogen cars in America when the feds pulled some funding for fuel cell programs. It's still a very tentative technology in the marketplace. World leader in fuel cell fuel stations? California with a grand total of 26.


The biofuel industry got some smudges around the eye. One start-up in Alabama, with Vinod Khosla financial support, got slapped down in court. I can no longer find a website for that erstwhile biofuel firm.

Biofuel woes can also be found in Tennessee where the SEC is going after a biofuel firm there.


The hacking of documents from the servers of the University of East Anglia's climate study lab were grist for a spate of blogs. Charges and counter-charges echoed across the blogosphere. Global warming deniers and doubters found evidence of scientific fraud and arrogance. Global warming believers pointed to all the evidence in the physical world and said much of the hacked material was taken out of context. There has been no evidence that any of the hacked material was altered or faked by the hacker(s).

One scientist at East Anglia stepped aside because of his exposed emails. And I put together a chronology of the affair as it rolled forward. The right-wing press continues to find fraud and malfeasance in the East Anglia material. There are unconfirmed hints that Russia had a hand in the hacking.

The East Anglia hacking had no observable effect on the Copenhagen climate talks. If anything does result from those Copenhagen talks, it could become the biggest greentech story of 2010.


As always in the greentech world, where the money is coming from and where it's going are important. And when we talk investment, size matters. I blogged about what cash-rich nations are doing in greentech. China might be spending as much on cleantech as it does on its military. And 2010 promises to be a rich year for investment in alternative energy. [poll id="207"]

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