NewEnergyNews More: July 2009

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  • Friday, July 31, 2009


    Sumitomo enters U.S. wind energy business in Texas; Adding to its two wind farms in Japan and one under development in China, Tokyo-based company takes 42.5 percent stake in U.S. wind power facility
    July 28, 2009 (Cleantech Group)

    "…Sumitomo Corp. of America in conjunction with its parent company Tokyo-based Sumitomo… is entering the U.S. wind energy business, purchasing an interest in a 120 megawatt, $240 million wind farm in Martin County, Texas.

    "Sumitomo said it purchased a 42.5 percent share in Stanton Wind Energy from AIG Financial Products, part of American International Group. The Stanton wind project is operated by Stanton Wind Holdings, a subsidiary of the wind developer Invenergy Wind North America. The remaining shares are held by a unit of General Electric, GE Energy Financial Services, and the Invenergy group…"

    The buy-in. (click to enlarge)

    "When compared to coal power plants, the 120 MW wind power facility is expected to help reduce 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and 20,000,000 tons over 25 years."

    The Japanese are goin' down to Texas to do a little lassoin'... (click to enlarge)

    "Sumitomo already has two wind farms in Japan, and one under development in China through a joint venture. The proposed 12-square-kilometer (12,000,000 square meters) wind farm in Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, is expected to provide electricity to the national grid, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 140,000 tons per year…

    "With its new strategic focus, Sumitomo said it wants a piece of the U.S.’s growing wind power market. At the end of 2008, 25 gigawatts of wind power generation facilities were introduced in the United States…The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that 20 percent of electricity generation could come from wind power by 2030."


    Key facts about India's 20 GW solar energy plans
    July 28, 2009 (Reuters)

    "India is set to unveil in September a target of generating 20 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from solar energy by 2020 under its national plan to fight global warming…[including]…

    "…The $19 billion "National Solar Mission" plan spread over 30 years aims to scale up solar power generation from nothing at present to 20 GW by 2020…It is a three-phased plan that hopes to generate 1-1.5 GW of solar power by 2012, 6-7 GW by 2017 and the rest by 2020…[and reduce] production costs of solar panels and spur domestic manufacturing. Money will be spent on incentives for production, installation and research and development."

    click to enlarge

    "…The plan has a "near term" target of 100 megawatts, and 100 GW by 2030, or 10-12 percent of total power generation capacity…Once implemented, the project will ensure large-scale deployment of solar generated power for both grid connected as well as distributed and decentralised off-grid provision of commercial energy services.

    "…India says it could cut about 42 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions with its new solar plan. An estimated 20 million solar lights are estimated to save 1 billion litres of kerosene per annum by 2020."

    click to enlarge

    "…Solar-powered equipment and applications will be mandatory for hospitals, hotels and government buildings, and villages and small towns will be encouraged with micro financing.

    "…The plan also outlines a system of paying households for any surplus power from solar panels fed back into the grid. The target would be to provide access to lighting for 3 million households by 2012…India will promote solar heating systems and use 40-50 million sq metres of area to install solar collectors in domestic, industrial and commercial sectors."


    Beijing closing coal plants in environmental move
    July 30, 2009 (AP)

    "China has taken advantage of a drop in electricity demand due to the global financial crisis to speed up a campaign to close small coal-fired power plants and improve its battered environment…

    "Authorities have closed power plants with a total of 7,467 generating units, meeting a previously announced goal 18 months ahead of schedule…Beijing is trying to improve its energy efficiency and reduce surging demand for imported oil and gas by closing smaller, less efficient power plants and encouraging use of wind, solar and other clean sources…The latest closures will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions that cause acid rain… and carbon dioxide output…[C]losures involved moving 400,000 workers to new jobs."

    From a Greenpeace 2008 report. (click to enlarge)

    "China and the United States are the world's biggest emitters of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" that scientists say trap the sun's heat and are altering the climate…Beijing says it is committed to reducing pollution but has resisted pressure to adopt binding goals to reduce its greenhouse gas output, saying the onus is on developed countries to reduce their emissions.

    "The Chinese government's top priority in closing coal-fired power plants [from which it gets 60% of its power] is controlling sulfur dioxide emissions. Acid rain from heavy coal use has poisoned most of its rivers and lakes and badly damaged its forests…[E]nvironmental officials will meet in August to make plans to close more small coal-fired power plants."

    From a Greenpeace 2008 report. (click to enlarge)

    "In a reflection of the tensions between Chinese environmental regulators and local authorities over the loss of jobs and economic activity…seven local officials and company managers were punished for restarting power plants after the agency closed them…

    "The Finance Ministry announced an initiative last week to promote development of China's solar power industry, promising to pay up to 70 percent of the cost of new solar systems."

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009


    State needs a comprehensive wind energy policy
    Scott Gollwitzer, July 29, 2009 (Asheville Citizen-Times)

    "A battle is brewing in the state House over how many — if any — commercial-scale, electricity-generating wind turbines should be allowed to dot the mountainous skylines of Western North Carolina. On one side of the debate stand three mountain senators who oppose these cleaner sources of electricity because they may ruin the scenery and the environment…On the other side are those — including many mountainfolk — seeking to transition the nation’s energy policy away from fossil fuels and rapidly embracing measures that use energy more efficiently and deploying renewable sources of energy like wind.

    "…[T]hat developing wind energy in North Carolina should [NOT] proceed in an unregulated, piecemeal fashion…both sides readily agree…What are the essential elements of a wind energy development policy that protects scenic vistas and the environment?"

    click to enlarge

    "Foremost, any wind energy policy must provide for commercial-scale projects across the state…[A] fairly balanced policy must promote the responsible construction and operation of wind turbines in the mountains and Piedmont alike.

    "Second…[P]rohibit commercial-scale wind turbines on all federal and state lands…[including] parks, forests, recreation and wilderness areas, historic sites, natural and scenic rivers, wildlife refuges, nature preserves and natural heritage areas…[and protect] the views from public lands or private conservation lands with high recreational values…Third…protect ecological systems, natural resources, fish, plants, wildlife and cultural and historic sites…[and] exclude development in habitat for rare, endangered, threatened and sensitive species of animals and plants…[and] on lands identified as being at risk of landslides and other hazardous areas…Fourth…limit the construction of new infrastructure by requiring projects to be located in close proximity to existing roads and transmission systems."

    click to enlarge

    "Fifth…ensure that the effects of each proposed project—when added to past, present and future projects — do not create adverse cumulative impacts…Finally… require an evaluation of the noise and shadow flicker impacts and provide ample opportunities for the public to review and comment upon the project before it is approved.

    "Armed with these guidelines, the General Assembly is poised to take a decisive first step in weaning North Carolina from fossil fuels. The statewide benefits of swiftly — and responsibly — deploying wind turbines far outweigh the costs…[O]n the coast, wind energy will help reduce the expected rise in sea levels…In the ever-growing Piedmont, wind turbines will…[reduce] the amount of water evaporated each day by fossil fuel-fired power plants. In the mountains, wind turbines will reduce the air pollution that currently obscures our scenic vistas and poisons our streams and forests…For this mountain boy, I’d take a crystal-clear view of a responsibly sited wind farm on a prominent ridgeline over a smog-choked vista any day…I hope our western senators see it that way, too."


    Unlocking energy efficiency in the U.S. economy
    July 29, 2009 (McKinsey & Company)

    "In [Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy], McKinsey & Company offers a detailed analysis of the magnitude of the efficiency potential in non-transportation uses of energy, a thorough assessment of the barriers that impede the capture of greater efficiency, and an outline of the practical solutions available to unlock the potential.

    "…[T]he U.S. economy has the potential to reduce annual non-transportation energy consumption by roughly 23 percent by 2020, eliminating more than $1.2 trillion in waste – well beyond the $520 billion upfront investment…The reduction in energy use would also result in the abatement of 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually – the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads."

    click to enlarge

    "Such energy savings will be possible, however, only if the United States can overcome significant sets of barriers. These barriers are widespread and persistent, and will require an integrated set of solutions to overcome them – including information and education, incentives and financing, codes and standards, and deployment resources well beyond current levels."

    click to enlarge

    "…[F]ive observations will be relevant to a national debate about how best to pursue energy efficiency opportunities of the magnitude identified and within the timeframe…Specifically, an overarching strategy would need to:

    "…Recognize energy efficiency as an important energy resource that can help meet future energy needs while the nation concurrently develops new no- and low-carbon energy sources…Formulate and launch at both national and regional levels an integrated portfolio of proven, piloted, and emerging approaches…Identify methods to provide the significant upfront funding…Forge greater alignment between utilities, regulators, government agencies, manufacturers, and energy consumers…Foster innovation…"


    U.S. Solar Energy Demand Dynamics; Financing Structures, Government Incentives, and Market Drivers for Solar Photovoltaics Projects: 2009-2015
    3Q 2009 (Pike Research)

    "The United States has become one of the more aggressive nations in promoting alternative energy technologies, but at the federal level tax credits and depreciation incentives are not currently enough to encourage sustainable demand growth. Instead, some states and municipalities have taken the lead in providing incentives through a variety of mechanisms ranging from upfront rebates and property tax credits to renewable energy credits and even European-style feed-in tariffs…[F]or sustained growth in the U.S., incentives must be increased at the federal level. Due largely to the credit crisis, funding for solar projects has been tight. In the U.S., this has particularly been the case, because banks are unwilling to lend to projects that have undetermined cash flows."

    click to enlarge

    "…[A] five-year outlook is that the combination of federal and state incentives and falling module prices will work together to dramatically increase demand in the U.S. As more banks become comfortable with funding these projects, and find ways to securitize the cash flows… it will become an attractive revenue stream for commercial lending divisions. Utilities, which are just now getting serious about meeting RPS goals, will likely take the lead in developing new solar projects. Until now, they have been unsuccessful in getting support from their ratepayers who would see up to a 10% increase in their utility bills…[The emphasis] the Obama administration is placing on climate change will eventually filter into the fabric of American society, propelling the U.S. into a global leadership position in solar PV market share by 2014…"

    click to enlarge

    "This Pike Research report examines demand-side dynamics for solar PV projects in depth, analyzing government incentives, financing structures, and internal rates of return on a state-by-state level. Cost components for solar project development are quantified in detail, and the report also includes forecasts for leading solar PV markets around the world in addition to the U.S., providing a clear and actionable view of the size and timing of market opportunities."

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009


    U.S. energy use fell in 2008
    Steven E.F. Brown, July 28, 2009 (SF Business Times via Business Journal of Milwaukee)

    "Americans used less energy overall in 2008, according to a new report, and more of that energy came from renewable sources.

    "The report from
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says the United States used 99.2 quadrillion BTUs, or “quads” of energy in 2008, down from 101.5 quads in 2007…Use of energy in the transport and industrial sectors of the economy fell slightly, while residential and business usage climbed slightly."

    click thru for the LBNL report

    "Usage of “green” or renewable sources grew, with the largest chunk of that coming from hydroelectric generation. Hydroelectric sources made up [2.4 quads and] 34 percent of renewable energy generated in the United States last year…Wood was the second most-used renewable source in the country last year, followed by biofuels, wind, waste, geothermal and finally, solar generation…

    "Though photovoltaic solar power is a popular field right now…[it] is a tiny fraction of overall U.S. power generation. Of the 99.2 quads of energy used in 2008, just 0.091 — less than 1/10 of 1 percent — came from solar sources. That’s an increase, though from 0.081 quads of solar energy in 2007."

    click thru for the LBNL report

    "Coal provided 23.9 quads in 2008, up from 23.5 in 2007…Nuclear power provided 8.5 quads in both 2008 and 2007. The number of nuclear generators in the country, which the DOE refers to as “units,” has remained steady at 104 for the last decade…

    "A.J. Simon, an energy analyst at Livermore Lab, said some of the changes in U.S. energy use and generation can be linked to the economic downturn, but also to energy policy…Wind power [has] grown, Simon said, because of large investments in wind turbine technology and better use of the already existing wind generators…"


    Tulsa, tribe ponder wind energy pact
    P.J. Lassek, July 27, 2009 (Tulsa World)

    "Wind power is blowing across the country and at least one Tulsa city councilor hopes to harness some of it from a proposed Cherokee Nation wind farm…

    "The city and tribe are in the early stages of researching the feasibility of a wind energy partnership and are set to meet next month…"

    click to enlarge

    "The city receives its electricity from AEP-PSO, but creating a partnership between the city, tribe and power company [could be good for all thre]…[Tulsa] first needs to undergo an energy audit of all its facilities [hopefully completed by the end of 2009] before any decisions can be made…[T]he city’s goals are to use 20 percent less energy by 2011."

    click to enlarge

    "The Cherokee Nation has land near Newkirk in Kay County where it plans to build a wind farm…The tribe is researching the feasibility of transmitting that power to northeastern Oklahoma, said Amanda Clinton, spokeswoman for Cherokee Nation Businesses.

    "…PSO owns the distribution system, so if the city purchased power from the tribe, an agreement would have to be made with the company…PSO currently contracts with three wind farms…Two additional farms are under construction and should be complete by year’s end…PSO is the largest distributor of wind power in the state…"


    China's three biggest power firms emit more carbon than Britain, says report; Greenpeace report names top three polluters and calls for tax on coal to improve efficiency and encourage switch to renewables
    Tania Branigan, July 28, 2009 (UK Guardian)

    "China’s three biggest power firms produced more greenhouse gas emissions last year than the whole of Britain, according to [Polluting Power: Ranking China’s Power Companies, from Greenpeace]

    "The group warned that inefficient plants and the country's heavy reliance on coal are hindering efforts to tackle climate change. While China's emissions per capita remain far below those of developed countries, the country as a whole has surpassed the United States to become the world's largest emitter."

    click to enlarge

    "Greenpeace said the top 10 companies, which provided almost 60% of China's total electricity last year, burned 20% of China's coal…The efficiency of Chinese power generation compares unfavourably with other countries. In Japan, 418 grams of carbon dioxide are emitted per kilowatt hour and in the US, the equivalent figure is 625 grams. But most of the top 10 firms in China produce 752 grams of CO2…

    "…China closed down 54.07 gigawatt of the least efficient coal-fired plants over the last three and a half years — more than the total electricity installed capacity of Australia…[Greenpeace] urged power firms to phase out all inefficient coal-fired plants under 100 megawatt by 2012…Firms are already turning to renewable energy and by the end of last year Guodian had installed 2.88 gigawatt of wind power; almost 24% of China's total and enough to make it the biggest wind energy firm in Asia…"

    click to enlarge

    "[But] only three of the top 10 produced 10% or more of their energy from renewable sources. The vast majority relied heavily on hydropower…[Eight do not] produce [the required] 3% of energy from other renewable sources by 2010…Greenpeace urged the Chinese government to impose energy and environment taxes on coal…[encourage] efficiency…[and] renewable sources…[and] called for a doubling of the national renewable energy target to 30% by 2020 and for stricter efficiency standards for coal-fired power stations.

    "The State Council, China's cabinet, is currently drawing up plans for a massive "new energy" programme to cut emissions and ensure energy security. Reports in the domestic media and from foreign diplomats suggest the next decade could see between 1.4 trillion (US$200 bn) and 4.5 trillion yuan (US$600bn) investment in projects ranging from nuclear power, low carbon transport and clean coal technology to super-efficient electric grids…[E]xperts warn that de-carbonising the energy supply must happen fast, given the massive toll on China's environment…"

    Monday, July 27, 2009


    China offers big solar subsidy, shares up
    Jim Bai and Leonora Walet (w/Eadie Chen, Nichola Groom, Anna Driver, Ben Tan, Derek Caney and Bernard Orr), July 21, 2009 (Reuters)

    "China has launched an unprecedented and long-awaited plan to offer subsidies for utility-scale solar power projects, sparking a rally in shares of Chinese solar panel makers…Beijing's bid to boost the solar energy sector could draw more than $10 billion in private funding for projects and put China on track to become a leading market for solar equipment in the next three years…

    "As the world's top greenhouse gas polluter, China is trying to catch up in a global race to find alternatives to fossil fuels…Expectations of such a move by China have underpinned a rally in Chinese solar stocks for much of this year."

    click to enlarge

    "…[Analysts warned, however, that] the subsidy program, although positive, would not lead to a near-term pickup in solar panel demand. The solar industry has suffered this year from a lack of available financing… due to the financial crisis…The Ministry of Finance said the government will subsidize 50 percent of investment for solar power projects as well as relevant power transmission and distribution systems that connect to grid networks…For independent photovoltaic power generating systems in remote regions that have no power supply, the subsidy will rise to 70 percent…

    "Grid companies are required to buy all surplus electricity output from solar power projects that generate primarily for the developers' own needs, at similar rates to benchmark on-grid tariffs set for coal-fired power generators."

    click to enlarge

    "To qualify for the subsidy, in addition to other requirements, each project must have a generating capacity of at least 300 kilowatt peak [and not bigger than 20 megawatts], while construction will have to be completed in one year and operations will have to last for at least 20 years…The government plans to install more than 500 megawatts of solar power pilot projects in two to three years…[One analyst said the initiative is not big enough to offset] the global economic recession and a pullback in subsidies in Spain and Germany [that] have led to an oversupply of solar panels…[and] driven down prices and hurt panel makers' profits…

    "China is expected to raise its 2020 solar power generation target more than fivefold to at least 10 GW. With incentives, analysts expect over 2 GW in new solar capacity will be installed as early as 2011, up from just over 100 MW in 2008…"


    Swiss seek to join EU carbon trading system
    Emma Thomasson, July 24, 2009 (Reuters)

    "Switzerland wants to join the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and hopes to start formal talks to that end after a climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December, the government said…

    "Moritz Leuenberger, Swiss transport and energy minister, told EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas at a meeting in Sweden the Swiss government wanted to bind the country's own emissions trading system with that of the EU…"

    The big board of emissions trading. (click to enlarge)

    "The EU's Emissions Trading Scheme puts a price on carbon dioxide and forces companies to pay for permits for each metric ton of CO2 they emit into the atmosphere."

    "Leuenberger agreed to pursue technical talks between EU and Swiss experts initiated in 2005 and said formal negotiations to agree a deal could be started after the Copenhagen conference...The Kyoto Protocol, a treaty limiting greenhouse gases is due to be renewed in global talks culminating at [Copenhagen]…"


    New Biofuel Could Lead to 100% Clean Flights
    Andrew Williams, July 23, 2009 (Gas 2.0 via Reuters)

    "Earlier this month, a team of scientists at the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) successfully tested a new biofuel based on a mixture of canola and soybean oils, and claim it may be the key to zero emission aviation.

    "The new super-biofuel, known as Jet Propellant-8 (JP-8) was used to launch a rocket above the Mojave Desert, where it approached the speed of sound and reached an altitude of 20,000 feet - a major leap forward in biofuel-powered flight…The rocket was built by Flometrics, Inc., a product engineering company specializing in fluid dynamics and thermodynamics…"

    click thru to EERC site to see the biofuel-powered rocket launch

    "The 100% natural fuel exhibits all the characteristics of existing petroleum-based jet fuels, and crucially has the same freezing point - meaning it won't turn into gel in mid-flight causing airplanes to literally fall out of the sky!

    "The Dakota project is still in the test phase and there is no news yet about the projected costs of mass production. However, the EERC has plans to build a plant capable of producing up to three million gallons per year."

    Sunday, July 26, 2009


    In Colorado, Solix Biofuels makes oil from algae
    July 24, 2009 (AP via Forbes)

    "Solix Biofuels Inc. has started making oil from algae at its facility near Durango.

    "…[I]ts Coyote Gulch Demonstration Facility began making the oil July 16 and should be in full-scale commercial operation by late summer. The plant is eventually expected to produce up to 3,000 gallons per acre per year of the biofuel."

    click to enlarge

    "The facility is on land in southwest Colorado provided by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

    "Solix Biofuels has the equivalent of 75 full-time employees, and it expects to have 20 employees at the Coyote Gulch facility by the end of the year for a total of 95 full-time jobs."


    Grant to fund offshore energy research
    July 24, 2009 (The New England Business Bulletin)

    "A recent $950,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy could place the New England Marine Renewable Energy Center on the cutting edge of developing technologies for clean energy by utilizing offshore tides, wind and waves.

    "Headquartered at UMass Dartmouth's Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center in Fall River, the grant will assist researchers from area institutions as well as MREC in…[developing] a full and partial scale test site off the coast of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, which…[will allow trials of ocean energy systems] in rough marine environments for a lot less than it would cost for them to do it themselves."

    click to enlarge

    "Researchers survey locations, called sweet spots, where the current runs the fastest for the longest period of time during tidal cycles. The current project has identified a site known for its furious currents in Muskeget Channel, between Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, for testing and developing a tidal energy project…[It] could provide enough power for the town of Edgartown and all of Martha's Vineyard...[Funding will allow the survey of Muskeget Channel…and for a proposed National Ocean Renewable Energy Innovation Zone, for technology development, for an open ocean test facility and work on wind and wave energy at MIT, WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute), UNH (University of New Hampshire), and URI (University of Rhode Island)]…

    "The only permanent open ocean testing site in the world right now, according to Miller, is the European Marine Energy Center in Scotland which has spurred development of what Scotland estimates to be an industry employing 3,000 people…"

    click to enlarge

    "Survey work began last year and has started again this year working with the town of Edgartown, which has the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission preliminary permit. The work was being done by the UMass School of Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) with funding from the Mass Technology Collaborative. UMass Amherst and WHOI are also getting into the water with the new funding.

    "Expectations are high…While New England peak usage in electricity is around 28 Gigawatts, the Electric Power Research Institute research center reported that New England waters could yield over 200 Gigawatts alone…"


    Eni says solar only viable alternative energy –BBC
    Jo Winterbottom (w/Matthew Lewis), July 21, 2009 (Reuters)

    "Italian oil and gas producer Eni thinks the only viable alternative energy source is solar, Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni told BBC World television…"

    [Paolo Scaroni, CEO, Eni:] "We think that solar energy is the only one renewable that really can solve our problems…"

    Oil and gas will run out sooner or later...(click to enlarge)

    "Scaroni said Eni was "quite optimistic" on efforts to find new solar technology it is involved in with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston."

    [Paolo Scaroni, CEO, Eni:] "We are convinced that the alternatives being produced today are not the solution…That is the reason why we decided to invest our money in the new technology, in order to provide the world with solar energy which will be really clean and competitive…"

    ...while sun is almost incalculably abundant. (click to enlarge)

    "Eni is investing about 120 million euros over four years in a development programme called "Alongside Energy" on research for alternative sources…Scaroni said Eni had not found the right technology for developing energy from algae."

    [Paolo Scaroni, CEO, Eni:] "Hydrocarbons are not the future long-term simply because one day they will not exist any more…"

    Friday, July 24, 2009


    EDF, First Solar to build French solar panel plant
    Muriel Boselli, Marcel Michelson and Nichola Groom (w/Bernard Orr), July 23, 2009 (Reuters)

    "EDF Energies Nouvelles and [Phoenix-based] U.S. solar panel maker First Solar Inc…will build France's largest solar panel manufacturing plant [with an initial capacity of around 100 megawatts] at an investment cost of 90 million euros ($128 million)…

    "At full production, projected for the second half of 2011, the plant will employ more than 300 people…EDF Energies Nouvelles, which is 50 percent-owned by EDF, has agreed to finance half of the capital expense and plant start-up costs and will get the plant's output for the first 10 years."

    click to enlarge

    "The move marks First Solar's first foray into the French market. The company, whose lower-cost solar panels are made from cadmium telluride rather than the polysilicon that dominates the market, already has manufacturing facilities in the United States, Germany and Malaysia…

    "EDF Energies Nouvelles and First Solar, which will build and operate the plant in France, are still studying where to build it although it was likely they would chose southern France…"

    click to enlarge

    "France is a small solar market compared to neighbors Germany and Spain, the world's biggest markets for solar power. At the end of last year, however, France pledged to multiply by 400 the amount of solar power used in the country in the next 12 years as part of its plan to double the share of renewables in consumed energies to 23 percent…It plans to install a capacity of 5,400 MW by 2020, or the equivalent of just over three new-generation 1,600-MW nuclear reactors.

    "France's installed solar energy production capacity reached 93 MW at the end of the first quarter of 2009, up from 69 MW at the end of 2008…This ranks France the fourth-largest solar energy producer behind Germany, Spain and Italy…"


    Climate change pact 'needs' China
    Michael Bristow, 24 July 2009 (BBC News)

    "UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said there can be no global climate change deal without China's support…[H]e also praised China's efforts so far to promote sustainable economic growth and develop renewable energy sources.

    "Experts say China has already committed itself to reducing carbon dioxide emissions - a driver of global warming…World leaders hope to produce a new agreement to tackle climate change at a meeting in Copenhagen in December."

    click to enlarge

    "Mr Ban was speaking at a UN-backed event in Beijing to promote the use of energy-saving lamps across China…China has already become a world leader in wind and solar technology, he said. The renewable energy sector is worth $17b and employs nearly one million people in China, according to the UN…

    "China is the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide, according to Yang Fuqiang, a climate change expert at WWF International…But Mr Yang said China was already trying to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by developing renewable energy sources…[and] improving energy efficiency, developing nuclear power and working on schemes that capture and store pollutants."

    click to enlarge

    "China hopes to provide 15% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, added Mr Yang.

    "Senior US officials have recently visited China to discus the meeting in Copenhagen later this year. They said they were optimistic about what they had heard."


    Taiwan Government Initiatives to Stimulate Green Energy Industry
    July 8, 2009 (Solar Buzz)

    "The Taiwan government has started several initiatives aimed at supporting the growth of the domestic green energy industry, which is helping to cut carbon emissions and make better use of renewable energy. In the next five years, the government will invest a total of NT$45 billion (US$1.4 billion) to boost the industry. The government aims to increase industry revenue to NT$1.5 trillion by 2015, from last year`s NT$160.3 billion.

    "By 2015, the industry is expected to account for 6.6% of the total revenue of Taiwan`s manufacturing industry and create 110,000 jobs…"

    click to enlarge

    "In June, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed the Statute for Renewable Energy, and in April, Taiwan’s Executive Yuan approved a project for new industrial development — The Takeoff Program for the Green Energy Industry…[It] will be divided into two parts.

    "The first stage will focus on solar energy and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The aim is to make Taiwan one of the world's top-three producers of solar energy batteries and the world's largest supplier of LED lights and modules. Taiwan will change all of its 700,000 traffic signals to LEDs and by 2011, the island aims to complete the construction of Asia's largest solar power plant. The global market for LEDs, worth about US$5 billion, is likely to more than double in size by 2012 as nations and consumers use the energy-saving lights to cut expenses and help reduce carbon emissions. LEDs are likely to capture a larger portion of the market for nearly every type of lighting such as displays in electronic devices, road signage, traffic lights, large public information screens and video displays."

    click to enlarge

    "Taiwan’s LED industry…[is] the world’s second largest by revenue…[Some of] Taiwan’s solar cell makers…are among the world’s ten largest solar cell makers by revenues.

    "The second stage of the Takeoff Program will promote wind power generation, biofuels, hydrogen energy and fuel cells. Electric vehicles will be among the target products in this phase with the aim of developing Taiwan into a global supplier of wind power generation systems and becoming a key production base for electric vehicles and fuel cell system assembly in the Asia-Pacific region. The government aims to make Taiwan a key center for electric-vehicle manufacturing and fuel-cell assembly…"

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009


    Solar Incentives in S.F. Show How Smart Green Investments Pay Off
    Gavin Newsome, July 13, 2009 (GreenBiz via Reuters)

    "…Last July, the City and County of San Francisco launched the first local solar energy incentive program in the nation. The results are in and the program is an unequivocal success.

    "…[Since] GoSolarSF launched, we have seen a 450 percent increase in applications for solar installations in San Francisco over the previous year, from 200 to 850. And despite the current recession, 56 applicants met our low-income standards and will receive incentive payments."

    click to enlarge

    "…[N]onprofit and affordable housing organizations are going solar too. Just last week… a local affordable housing developer, our San Francisco Housing Authority and our San Francisco Public Utilities Commission [announced] three new solar installations…

    "The dramatic increase in solar installations in San Francisco over the last year, coupled with the City’s aggressive plans to deploy large-scale solar on municipal properties like the mammoth Sunset Reservoir, have helped catapult San Francisco to state leadership in solar power and renewable energy…just behind much larger and much sunnier Los Angeles and San Diego, in number of rooftop solar installations…On a per-capita basis, San Francisco leads the state’s large cities for rooftop solar."

    click to enlarge

    "The good work to create this program started with our local Solar Energy Task Force, chaired by our Assessor Phil Ting…This year, we’ve managed to fund GoSolarSF at an even higher level despite a very tough budget year. That’s because making clean energy and the environment a priority is also good for San Francisco’s economy. Every solar installation incentivized creates good green jobs…low-income City residents who graduate from our workforce development programs.

    "By any measure, our solar energy incentive program has been a stellar success after just one year. If we continue making smart investments guided by the right priorities, imagine what we can do for our economy and our environment…"


    Planes 'should fly on biofuels'

    "Biofuel research should focus on planes and not cars, the think tank Policy Exchange has said…A crop area the size of the USA would be needed to biofuel all the world's cars and alternatives, such as electricity, exist for them…Instead, it said the EU should fund research into using plant-based fuel for aviation to help cut emissions.

    "Sceptics say some biofuels create more carbon than they save and push up the price of food for the poor…Most biofuels are derived from crops such as corn, sugarcane and rapeseed…Bioethanol is usually mixed with petrol, while biodiesel is either used on its own or in a mixture… 25% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transport."

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    "In April 2008, [the UK government] revised its target from 5% [required biofuels to 2.5%]…The EU also changed its stipulation [from 10%] of transport fuel…instead saying the targets could be met by any renewable source, including fuel cells, hydrogen or solar power.

    "Policy Exchange has previously said the government should spend its £550m annual biofuel subsidies on halting the destruction of rainforests and peatland…Now the centre-right think tank says the EU should switch policy to subsidising development of biofuels for aviation because planes cannot run on other sources of energy."

    click to enlarge

    "Airlines including Virgin Atlantic have trialled flights using up to 20% biofuel to power the engines…Policy Exchange claims using biofuels is the only way in the foreseeable future to meet people's desire to travel without escalating emissions of greenhouse gases. Airlines should be mandated to blend biofuel with kerosene in increasing quantities from 2020…By this time new generation crop-based fuels should have been developed which do not compete with food crops.

    "Green groups have been critical of the destruction of rainforest to create the fuels and the resultant loss of habitat for rare species…They also say that with more farmland being turned over to grow profitable biofuels, food production has fallen and pushed up global prices, affecting supplies for the poorest people…"


    Report: Minnesota should capitalize on wind energy
    Brianna Bierschbach, July 21, 2009 (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

    "Minnesota can capitalize on wind energy and spark job growth in a down economy with the right amount of government support, according to a recent report by think tank Minnesota 2020.

    "Minnesota, the fourth largest provider of wind energy in the nation, could create more than 2,200 jobs and generate about $9 billion in economic development over the next several decades by constructing 4,059 megawatts of wind generated power."

    click to enlarge

    "A good portion of the jobs created would be in the manufacturing sector…an industry that has been hit hard during the recession.

    "In order to achieve this…Minnesota should focus on localizing wind turbine building and ownership, which has a greater impact on stimulating local economy."

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    "Since 2005, Minnesota rapidly increased its wind capacity, growing by about 31 percent each year.

    "Minnesota…legislation mandates that utilities…must generate 25 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2025, much of which can come from wind power…"

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    $115 MIL FOR WIND

    Terra-Gen Power secures $115M in wind financing; New York-based company plans to sell clean, renewable wind energy from Tehachapi, Calif., project to Southern California Edison utility.
    July 20, 2009 (Cleantech Group)

    "…Terra-Gen Power…has closed $115 million in initial funding of $140 million in pre-construction financing. The funds bring the company one step closer to being able to purchase 100 General Electric 1.5-megawatt SLE wind turbines.

    "The wind turbines are planned to be deployed as part of developing the 150-megawatt Alta Wind I wind project in the Tehachapi area of California. The project is the first phase of the Alta Wind Energy Center, a 3,000-megawatt initiative considered to be one of the largest U.S. wind development projects."

    click to enlarge

    "…[Alta Wind I is owned by California Highwind Power, an affiliate of Terra-Gen Power and its affiliate, ArcLight Capital Partners]…Investors included Calyon, Prudential Capital Group, and CIT…

    "Under a 1,550-megawatt power contract with… Southern California Edison, the Alta Wind Energy Center plans to sells its clean, renewable wind energy back to the utility…The power is expected to be transported from the Tehachapi area to southern California via the utility’s Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project—transmission lines designed to handle the growing need for renewable energy in the state…"


    Peabody Energy 2Q Pft Falls 66%, 09 Outlook Undercuts Views
    Mark Long and Tess Stynes, July 21, 2009 (Dow Jones via Wall Street Journal)

    "Peabody Energy Corp… said its second-quarter earnings fell 66% as global recession continued to crimp coal demand, and pegged its 2009 earnings below market forecasts.

    "…[Peabody] and its peers over the past year have been hit hard by a drop in electricity demand and sharply lower steel production, though Peabody said Pacific markets are strengthening, with record net coal imports flowing into China and low stockpiles in India…[A]s a result of growth in Asia, it expects to increase sales at its Australian operations next year, though it maintained its output guidance for this year."

    Coal use is down and New Energy use is up. (click to enlarge)

    "In the U.S., meanwhile, the company said coal-fired power generation is down more than 9% this year, with stockpiles of coal reaching their highest in years before starting to be drawn down towards the end of June. U.S. coal demand fell to the lowest levels since 2002 in the first quarter, while production slid to mid-2005 levels, according to the Energy Information Administration."

    Coal use is down and New Energy use is up. (click to enlarge)

    "Peabody, one of the world's biggest coal producers, said… second-quarter U.S. coal output fell nearly 25 million tons year-over-year, but with stockpiles remaining high, 'demand growth or additional supply adjustments will be needed to balance the market.'

    "…[Peabody] posted second-quarter profit of $79.2 million, or 29 cents a share, down from $233.3 million, or 85 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue decreased 12% to $1.34 billion…Volume sold edged down by 100,000 tons to 59.5 million…"

    Monday, July 20, 2009


    Coal on the slide as renewables top 11 per cent of US power mix; As a raft of states pass new legislation demanding increased renewables capacity, new figures confirm green power now accounts for over a tenth of US energy
    Cath Everett, July 20, 2009 (UK Business Green)

    "The renewable energy revolution under way in the US appears to be gathering pace…According to the [U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration] July Electric Power Monthly report, green energy generation accounted for 11.1 per cent of total electricity production in the country between April 2008 and 2009.

    "Input from hydroelectric sources rose 18.4 per cent to make up seven per cent of the total…[The New Energies] now account for 4.1 per cent. Wind power was the biggest success story in the renewables sector with net generation increasing by over a third…The figures compared with a 13.9 per cent fall in coal-fired generation, although it still provided 46.1 per cent of the US' electric power and remains the biggest single source…[N]et electricity generation in the country fell by 5 per cent over the year as industrial production slumped by 12.5 per cent…"

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    "The figures will provide a further boost to the booming US renewables sector, which is flush with Federal funding from President Obama's economic stimulus package and has seen growing numbers of states pass [Renewable Electricity Standards, RESs] requiring that a larger proportion of energy comes from low carbon sources.

    "Last week…Kansas and West Virginia both adopted [RESs] for the first time…Kansas now requires state utilities to meet 10 per cent of their peak demand using such sources by 2010, rising to 15 per cent by 2019 and 20 per cent by 2020 - although some of the requirement can be met by purchasing renewable energy credits…[and] all vehicles and buildings owned or leased by Kansas must now also meet agreed energy-efficiency standards."

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    "West Virginia, which is a coal state, has likewise introduced a new credits-based system for renewable energy and coal-based "alternative" energy sources, such as carbon capture and storage. It will require electricity generating companies to use such credits for at least 10 per cent of their retail sales by 2015, increasing to 15 per cent by 2020 and 25 per cent by 2025.

    "…[In addition,] Maine is now providing a 50 per cent additional credit for utilities supporting community-based renewable energy projects, while Nevada has increased its renewable energy targets from a flat 20 per cent by 2015. It now wants to see such sources accounting for 22 per cent of electricity production by 2020 and 25 per cent by 2025…Pennsylvannia…announced a $23 million pot to boost the state's solar industry as part of its bid to become a centre of clean tech manufacturing in competition with…Michigan and upstate New York. The move adds to an existing $650 million fund for green energy projects…"


    Developing countries have no obligation under UNFCCC for mandatory emission cuts
    Minister of State for the Ministry of Environment and Forests Shri Jairam Ramesh, July 20, 2009 (Government of India Press Information Bureau)

    "The US has proposed a legislation entitled ‘American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009’ which aims, inter alia, to reduce global pollution and transition to a clean energy economy. The proposed legislation has a provision for imposition of ‘border adjustment’ measures. Under these measures, foreign manufacturers and importers including those from India would be required to pay for and hold special allowances to cover the carbon contained in US-bound products with a view to ensure that US manufacturers are not put at a disadvantage relative to overseas competitors."

    Obligated to who? (click to enlarge)

    "WTO, along with UNEP, has recently published a report titled ‘trade and climate change’ which states that more open trade will most likely lead to increased emissions which may not be fully offset by the change in the emissions caused by improvements or changes in the ‘composition’ and ‘technique’ of output. Although, the report does not say that trade concerns should be subjugated to climate change issues, it mentions that climate change can lead to shifts in the pattern of international trade based on comparative advantage of countries.

    "All developing countries included India have no obligation under the UN convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol to make any mandatory emission cuts…"


    Next generation of solar dishes use less steel
    Sue Major Holmes, July 18, 2009 (AP via SF Chronicle)

    "Sandia National Laboratories scientist Chuck Andraka is excited about what's missing from a new generation of solar dishes…There's far less steel — about 2 tons — in the structure that supports the SunCatcher, developed for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Stirling Energy Systems, or SES. Overall, the design is 5,000 pounds lighter than its prototype.

    "Sandia morphed the SunCatcher's original rectangular design into a radial structure that looks like a 37 1/2-foot diameter satellite dish with mirrors…The lab's work on the SunCatcher was done with manufacturing in mind…[as] part of a larger effort to make solar energy more affordable…"

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    "The newest SunCatcher version has fewer pieces, so there's less inventory to keep and fewer pieces to assemble. The design retains the functionality of the previous one but is far easier to repair…SunCatcher's developers also expect it to benefit suppliers in the hard-hit automotive industry…[because it] uses radiators [like those on automobiles] for cooling…reducing evaporation…[and providing] a huge advantage in a desert environment.

    "Sandia began working with SES on the project in 2002…In 2005, Sandia installed an SES-built system…SunCatchers, each producing 25 kilowatts of electricity, will be placed in arrays covering many square miles…The modular design uses mirrors attached to a parabolic dish that focuses the sun's rays onto a receiver, which transmits heat to a Stirling engine, a sealed system filled with hydrogen."

    click to enlarge

    "As the gas heats and cools, its pressure rises and falls, and the change in pressure drives a piston inside the engine. That produces mechanical power, which drives a generator and makes electricity…The structure rotates to follow the sun…In a particularly bright area, a utility could remove mirrors that gather sunlight; in a cloudier coastal area, it could add some, Andraka said.

    "Tessera Solar plans a 60-unit [1.5 megawatt] generation plant in Arizona or California… by January…[and] two large plants… by the end of 2012 in Southern California…Tessera also is developing a 27-megawatt West Texas project…"

    Sunday, July 19, 2009


    Closed landfill may become solar energy site
    Jessica A. York, July 18, 2009 (Vallejo Times-Herald)

    "…The Napa-Vallejo Waste Management Authority is in talks with a Vallejo energy company to install a $25 million to $35 million solar array atop a closed landfill outside American Canyon.

    "The estimated 6.7 megawatts produced on the closed landfill could provide enough energy to power 3,200 homes, reduce carbon emissions by about 7,500 cars' worth and equal the planting of about 12,000 acres of trees, according to a project write-up by applicant Larry Asera."

    This former brownfield now generates solar energy in Brockton, Mass. (click to enlarge

    "The landfill once served Vallejo, American Canyon, the city of Napa and Napa County. Vallejo City Councilman Tom Bartee, chairman of the waste management authority, said he asked Asera to pitch a possible public-private solar energy plan for the site…Asera, who served on the Vallejo City Council in the 1970s and runs energy and environmental technology company Asera Group, Inc., would be in charge of securing funding for the project…

    "The proposed solar station is ideal for a sealed landfill site because little else can rest on top of such land, Bartee said. The power generated could be used to power methane gas monitors…The savings could offset costs of an Authority trash transfer station's needs, Bartee said…Methane gas emissions are already being used to power two turbines on the landfill site…"

    Vallejo already operates this solar project off a local parkway. (click to enlarge)

    "Operations ceased at the American Canyon Sanitary Landfill in 1995 and it was officially closed in 2006. The proposed energy park is expected to reduce Authority carbon generation, produce "clean energy," and create so-called green-collar jobs and new revenue…

    "Officials are expecting grant applications for federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the California Solar Initiative's Performance-Based Incentive program to fund initial investment and early operating costs. Funding also likely will come from private investors and U.S. Department of Energy-guaranteed loans…"


    US, China announce clean energy research center
    Joe Macdonald (w/ Henry Sanderson, Tini Tran and Bonnie Cao), July 15, 2009 (AP via Yahoo News)

    "The United States and China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, announced plans for a joint clean energy research center…The research center is an effort at compromise between the two governments, which disagree on whether China should join richer nations in adopting binding emissions-reduction targets to stave off environmental devastation from climate change.

    "With initial financing of $15 million and headquarters in both countries, the center will focus on coal and clean buildings and vehicles, said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. It highlights potential U.S.-Chinese cooperation in an industry that Washington says could create thousands of jobs…"

    The collaboration between DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab has been fruitful for both sides of the Pacific. (click to enlarge)

    "Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke were in Beijing to lobby China to promote private-sector development of solar, wind, biofuels and other clean energy…Locke appealed to China to avoid trade barriers to clean technology. Some companies say Beijing is trying to build up its industry by shielding companies from competition, shutting foreign competitors out of wind power and other projects…

    "China is promoting solar, wind and hydroelectric power to reduce reliance on imported oil and gas, which its communist leaders see as a strategic weakness. But Beijing has rejected binding emissions commitments, saying it is the responsibility of rich countries to cut their own output."

    China's hugely successful Top 1000 program grew out of the collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley. (click to enlarge)

    "Locke acknowledged such sentiments but said the environment does not care where the gases came from…Locke and Chu, both descendants of Chinese immigrants, were meeting with Chinese ministers in charge of trade, technology, health and other areas…

    "Beijing opposes proposed U.S. legislation that would impose tariffs on countries that do nothing to cut emissions…Beijing sees protectionist motives behind the bill and warned that it might trigger retaliation by developing countries…Trade ties between the United States, the world's biggest economy, and No. 3 China are regarded as a key element of a recovery from the deepest global economic slump since the 1930s…[C]omplaints about import and investment barriers are a chronic irritant in U.S.-Chinese trade relations…"