Energy Roundup: Vestas Layoffs, Geothermal Setback, Nuclear Waste Fight, and More

Last Updated Apr 29, 2009 4:54 AM EDT

Vestas trims 1,900 workers despite rising profits -- The world's top wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, is cutting free almost 10 percent of its workforce despite a 70 percent rise in first-quarter profit over last year. The reason is a largely regional downturn in the market, with the pain is focused around two plants in the United Kingdom and Denmark. However, the company is also issuing 18.5 million shares, about 10 percent of the outstanding total, to raise money for new projects. [Source: Forbes]

Geothermal explodes, but not in a good way -- Hot rock geothermal, a cutting-edge technique involving drilling deep holes in the earth and piping water down to create steam, has been called one of our best renewable energy hopes. But the technique is unproven, and Geodynamics, an Australian company, is now trying to figure out why one of its first holes in a one-megawatt pilot plant ruptured. Until the kinks are worked out, hot rock geothermal will likely remain limited. [Source: New Scientist]

Senators pose challenge over nuclear waste -- One of the senate's top supporters of nuclear power, Lindsey Graham, has introduced a bill to return $30 billion to taxpayers that was set aside for development of the Yucca Mountain storage site in Nevada. President Obama put Yucca on hold soon after being elected, likely under the urging of senator Harry Reid, who represents Nevada. Graham's move is probably more focused on forcing action than actually returning the money. [Source: World Nuclear News]

Utilities pour 30 percent more into lobbying -- The amount of money that utilities are spending on lobbying is spiking as they fight out cap-and-trade legislation and clean coal with environmentalists on Capital Hill. Fifty companies, including behemoths like Duke Energy, spent $51 million in the last six months of 2008 in a bid to influence lawmakers. [Source: USA Today]

SV Solar dying or dead -- With a business plan that revolved around high silicon prices, SV Solar might have been fated for an unhappy ending. The company makes a passive solar concentrator that collects light onto smaller pieces of silicon solar panel than most companies use. The company took $10.2 million in venture funding from Bessemer Venture Partners two years ago. [Source: Greentech Media]