While the Feds and Wall Street run away from Green Tech – China buys up the survivors


The trend of Chinese conglomerates snapping up venture capital-backed cleantech startups on the cheap continues. This week a subsidiary of Chinese LED and solar manufacturing company San’an Optoelectronics announced that it has acquired LED startup: Luminus Devices. According to LED News (hat tip Greentech Media) the deal was done for $22 million…

All in all it wasn’t the biggest loss investors have seen during this trend of Chinese companies buying up struggling cleantech assets. Solar startup Miasole was sold to Chinese clean power company Hanergy for $30 million, after having raised between $400 million and $500 million over its lifetime. Chinese auto tech giant Wanxiang bought up battery maker A123 Systems out of its bankruptcy, made a barebones offer for electric car company Fisker Automotive, and has made equity investments in other cleantech startups as well.

Chinese companies flush with cash have enough capital to continue to invest in some of these infrastructure-heavy innovations that are requiring longer timelines and more money than the venture capital community expected. At the same time, the Chinese government has been creating markets for energy efficient and clean power technologies through strong incentives — it’s done this with LEDs, electric cars and solar technology.

Other cleantech startups are finding sunnier opportunities partnering with Chinese companies on manufacturing. Five-year-old EcoMotors, which is backed by Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures, is finally commercializing its efficient engine technology with a $200 million plant being built by Chinese auto giant Zhongding Power.

If all you know about China’s economy comes from Cold Warriors, if all you know about global economics is “Us versus Them” – you may as well skip this little news article from Katie Fehrenbacher and GigaOm.

If you have an interest in nations and enterprises experimenting in commercial partnerships – especially when our government is cowed by conservatives prating about the Red Peril of the East – then you should read on. In fact, click the link at the top of the original and wander through more of Katie’s journalism. It’s all focused on the nitty-gritty of getting Clean and Green Technology off the ground and into reality.

Amazing survival two days trapped under a capsized ship

A Nigerian man has survived for two-and-a-half days trapped 30 meters deep in freezing seawater.

Harrison Okene, 29, was on board the tug boat Jascon-4 when it capsized in heavy swells…It sank to the seabed, upside down, but Mr Harrison was trapped in an air pocket and able to breathe.

Of the other 12 people on board, 10 bodies have already been found and Mr Harrison is assumed to be the only survivor.

Mr Harrison told Reuters journalist Joe Brock that he could hear fish eating the dead bodies of his fellow crew members.

The Jascon-4 capsized on 26 May, about 32km off the coast of Nigeria, while it was stabilising an oil tanker at a Chevron platform…Mr Harrison was working there as a cook, according to the ship’s owners, West African Ventures.

Mr Harrison told Reuters he was in the toilet when he realised that the boat was beginning to turn over, and as the vessel sank, he managed to find his way to an area with an air pocket.

“I was there in the water in total darkness just thinking it’s the end. I kept thinking the water was going to fill up the room but it did not,” he said…”I was so hungry but mostly so, so thirsty. The salt water took the skin off my tongue.”

“I could perceive the dead bodies of my crew were nearby. I could smell them. The fish came in and began eating the bodies. I could hear the sound.”

But after 60 hours, Mr Harrison heard the sound of knocking.

A team from the DCN global diving company had come to investigate – sent by Chevron and West African Ventures…”We expected it to be a body recovery job,” DCN spokesperson Jed Chamberlain told the BBC’s Impact programme.

Mr Harrison “actually grabbed the second diver who went past him,” Mr Chamberlain said, adding that the diver concerned got quite a fright…”This changed the whole nature of the operation to a rescue operation…”

Having been at such depth for so many hours, he needed time in a decompression chamber to normalise his body pressure.

Christine Cridge, a medical director at the Diving Diseases Research Centre (DDRC), advised the rescue team during this process…

“After a certain amount of time at pressure, nitrogen will dissolve into the tissues. If he’d ascended directly from 30m to the sea surface….. it’s likely he’d have had a cardiac arrest, or at best, serious neurological issues…

Mr. Harrison will have nightmares for quite a while. His good fortune still ain’t quite enough to counter everything he survived.

Come to think of it, that diver who was grabbed by Mr. Harrison probably won’t forget it either. 🙂

When money talks, people walk

It was a controversial move when a health insurer began requiring people who were obese to literally pay the price of not doing anything about their weight – but it worked, a new study finds.

When people had to choose between paying up to 20 percent more for health insurance or exercising more, the majority of enrollees met fitness goals one step at a time via an Internet-tracked walking program, according to a joint study by the University of Michigan Health System and Stanford University.

Researchers evaluated a group of people insured by Blue Care Network who were enrolled in a pedometer-based program as a requirement to receive insurance discounts. After one year, nearly 97 percent of the enrollees had met or exceeded the average goal of 5,000 steps a day – including the most resistant participants who disagreed with the financial incentives and found the program “coercive.”

“There are ethical debates around the idea of forcing someone to be personally responsible for health care costs related to not exercising, but we expect to see more of these approaches to financially motivate healthier behaviors,” says senior author Caroline R. Richardson, M.D…

“Our evaluation of Blue Care’s incentivized program showed a surprisingly high rate of people who enrolled in the Internet-mediated walking program and stuck with it – even among those who were initially hostile to the idea. Wellness interventions like this clearly hold significant promise for encouraging physical activity among adults who are obese…”

For some families, the out-of-pocket cost of failing to meet the new criteria in one of the wellness programs was nearly $2,000 more per year. Those with medical conditions were exempt if they had waivers from their doctors.

Nearly half of the 12,102 enrollees who met criteria for a wellness program picked pedometer-based WalkingSpree, and the study’s authors evaluated their success. The 6,548 participants were required to reach an average of 5,000 daily steps in each three month period, or 450,000 steps a quarter, to remain eligible for enhanced benefits. Just 3 percent failed to do so.

Among users who responded to a satisfaction survey about the program, a third were unhappy with the financial incentives because they felt the incentives were coercive. The remaining two-thirds of respondents, however, liked the program…

“Our findings suggest that incentivized wellness programs are acceptable to many individuals and that these programs encourage healthy behaviors,” says lead author Donna Zulman, M.D…

May as well consider this, folks. If such plans continue to produce successes – better health and reduced expenses – it is going to be coming to wherever you work. I have kin who are already in such a program and they love it. They save money and get healthier.