NewEnergyNews More: February 2010

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  • Sunday, February 28, 2010


    Obama Budget Erases Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Ramps Up Nuclear Spending; Clean Energy Comes Out a Winner
    Tracy Morford, February 1, 2010 (SolveClimate)

    …"[The Obama fiscal year 2011 federal budget]…would begin to tip the scales away from fossil fuels and toward greater government investment in clean energy…[by eliminating] several fossil fuel subsidies, a move expected to generate about $36 billion for the federal government over the next 10 years, and increase clean energy research and development spending by about $6 billion.

    "To sweeten the deal for Republicans and fossil fuel-state Democrats, the president piled on loan guarantees for nuclear power and reiterated his support for a nuclear revival, more off-shore drilling, and “clean coal” technology, which was heavily funded through the recovery act last year. In addition, the new budget offers only a passing reference to a future cap-and-trade program, describing it as carbon neutral rather than assuming it would generate revenue."

    click to enlarge

    "Whether Congress can carry through on the president's recommendations remains to be seen…Obama pushed for similar cuts in fossil fuel subsidies last year and got nowhere in Congress…In September, [the President] made eliminating fossil fuel subsidies worldwide a top issue for the G20…[and] the G20 leaders agreed to phase out those subsidies in the medium term…U.S. leadership on subsidies now could encourage other countries with far higher fossil fuel incentives, some in the hundreds of billions annually, to follow suit…[E]nding fossil fuel subsidies in the emerging economies and developing countries could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2050 while increasing investment in cleaner energy.

    "In the United States, the president's proposal to eliminate 12 tax breaks for oil, gas and coal would free up tens of billions of dollars. That could be a selling point for Congress this year with so much attention focused on the federal deficit and the president declaring a spending freeze…The fossil fuels industry has long benefited from federal subsidies [oil and gas started receiving subsidies in 1916 and coal in 1932]…"

    click to enlarge

    "…Clean energy is a big beneficiary of the president’s 2011 budget proposal…[It would] keep the country on track to double renewable energy output by 2012. The budget would provide loan guarantees and nearly $2.4 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including significant investments in solar power ($302 million), biofuels and biomass ($220 million), advanced vehicle technology ($325 million) and energy efficiency building technologies ($231 million)…[as well as] $300 million increase in funding for ARPA-E, the disruptive technologies program tuned to energy innovation…

    "The president also is proposing an additional $36 billion, for a total of$54 billion, in loan guarantees for nuclear energy development, an industry that several Republicans in Congress have been pushing to revive…The loan guarantees should be enough to build seven to 10 reactors, which would get the industry started again…[T]he U.S. has the potential to take the technological lead in such developments as small modular reactors and fast reactors that can burn down waste…[But President Obama ] said he believes clean energy will be the driver of the U.S. economy in the long-run…[He also said] it makes sense environmentally and economically for the U.S. to develop [“clean” coal] technology and export it to other countries…"


    2 Va. firms seek to establish offshore wind farms
    Steve Szkotak, February 25, 2010 (AP via BusinessWeek)

    "Federal regulators have received leasing proposals from two Virginia companies seeking to develop offshore wind farms capable of supplying clean energy to hundreds of thousands of homes.

    "Apex Wind Energy Inc. is proposing to lease 116,000 acres for an undetermined number of wind turbines with the potential to generate up to 1,500 megawatts of power…[and] Seawind Renewable Energy Corp. envisions building 240 turbines to generate enough power for more than 250,000 homes annually…Both wind farms would be located 12 miles off of Virginia Beach…"

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    "Virginia has been pushing hard to be at the forefront in the U.S. of the offshore wind energy industry, which has been tangled in a federal regulatory thicket for a decade…Gov. Bob McDonnell has made offshore drilling and wind energy a cornerstone of his new Republican administration, aiming to make Virginia the "Energy Capital of the East Coast" and the first to produce energy offshore. Virtually every Atlantic Coast state has formally expressed some interest in offshore wind energy, but only several states have generated leasing applications.

    "…[The Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition ] representing Virginia Beach and Norfolk, the state's two biggest coastal cities, and industry leaders was created in January to promote Virginia as the "Silicon Valley" of wind energy on the East Coast…[T]he development of [such] a wind power hub in Virginia has the potential to become an $80 billion industry creating more than 10,000 jobs…The Sierra Club of Virginia estimates the state could be producing 20 percent of its energy needs from offshore winds within a decade…Virginia is positioned to take the lead, with a deep-water port essential to supporting the infrastructure an offshore wind farm [with 300-foot-tall turbines and 200-foot blades] would require…"

    click to enlarge

    "The U.S., which has no offshore wind farms, lags considerably behind western Europe, where 25 commercially successful offshore wind projects are operating. In Denmark, for instance, 20 percent of its energy demand is met by wind power, with about half of from offshore wind turbines…Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is intent on smoothing the regulatory process, and has promised to work with East Coast states to streamline the process…Interior's Minerals Management Service manages 1.7 billion offshore acres with wind-energy potential.

    "In Virginia, both wind projects are proposed for areas that would put them out of sight of the coast but within shipping lanes, migratory birds and busy sea traffic from Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest naval base. NASA's launch facility on Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore also limits some activity off the coast…The proposed wind farms would be located well within the area 50 miles off the Virginia coast that is being considered for gas and oil drilling…[T]he lease application is the first step in a long [scientific evaluation] process, which could take five years…What that science reveals will determine what type of turbines will be used and how fully the 100,000 acres can be developed…"


    MetLife and John Hancock Finance SunPower's 19-Megawatt Xcel Energy Solar Power Plant in Colorado
    February 24, 2010 (PR Newswire via SunPower)

    "MetLife and John Hancock Financial Services will finance the construction and third-party ownership of a 19-megawatt (AC) solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant that SunPower Corp…is contracted to build for Xcel Energy in Colorado's Alamosa County…Construction on the plant, which will be the largest solar power plant in Colorado, will begin this spring, with operations expected to commence before the end of the year. Approximately 100 jobs will be created during construction…

    "The plant will use SunPower(R) T20 Tracker systems, which tilt toward the sun as it moves across the sky, increasing energy capture and providing more power on hot summer days when utilities need it most. SunPower Trackers generate up to 30 percent more energy per land area than conventional systems and, therefore, reduce land-use requirements."

    From solarinsider via YouTube

    [Steve Kandarian, executive vice president/chief investment officer, MetLife:] "MetLife recognizes the importance of investing in renewable energy ventures that will have a positive impact on the environment…This project builds upon the more than $1 billion that MetLife has already invested in renewable energy projects. It also demonstrates our commitment to support growth in the solar energy market by making it easier and more affordable for businesses and public entities to benefit from solar electricity."

    [John Anderson, senior managing director/head, John Hancock Power and Infrastructure Group:] "John Hancock is delighted to continue our work financing large scale solar power in the U.S. with this major project that brings together such first class partners…The project finance teams at John Hancock and our parent company, Manulife Financial, have a portfolio of renewable energy financings that includes more than $2 billion of projects in the U.S. and Canada. We look forward to the successful completion of the solar power plant in Alamosa later this year."


    Fuel Cell Vehicles; Light Vehicles, Medium/Heavy-Duty Trucks, Transit Buses, and Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure
    Dave Hurst and Clint Wheelock, 1Q 2010 (Pike Research)

    "Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have a number of attractive features, not the least of which is their lack of emissions, other than water and heat. However, FCVs remain a technology under development…Fuel cells (FCs) were originally developed for space programs…but are now used for a variety of different applications…

    "FCs work on a principle discovered in 1838. When hydrogen (H2) comes into contact with platinum electrodes on one end and then interacts with air molecules, FCs will produce an electrical current and water. Most automotive FCs are polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) cells…[that provide] the current used to power a vehicle’s electric motor, which in most light vehicle applications is supplemented by battery power during peak power needs (such as acceleration or hill climbing). In hybrid FCVs, the FC recharges the vehicle’s battery, while in others the battery only stores energy captured from regenerative braking."

    click thru for complete details on how fuel cells work

    "…FCVs also require [high-pressure] H2 storage tanks…Prior to launching the vehicles in the market, safety standards will likely be established, and more research is needed…Honda is the only automaker to make a [hand-built] FCV available to the public [and only in] southern California…Many automakers have small fleets…available for the press and public to test…In 2009, eight automakers…signed a Letter of Understanding (LOU) that stated their agreement to bring FCVs to the market by 2015…[because] automakers wanted to put on political pressure on for the growth of H2 refueling stations…[Daimler AG, Honda, General Motors, Hyundai, and Toyota] are leaders in FCVs...Other manufacturers [Ford Motor Company, Kia Motors Corporation, Renault/Nissan] may soon catch up…

    "Another market factor is the growth of FC transit buses. Buses are used because their high cost can be subsidized (or outright paid for) by governments, rather than individuals or businesses. Additionally, buses are easy to manage due to their set routes and maintenance facilities, and they often need only one refueling station for the vehicles."

    click to enlarge

    "Pike Research expects that, overall, FCV research will reach $4 billion in 2010, and is expected to climb to $5.13 billion globally in 2016, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.3%. This research spending is expected to grow in 2015 and 2016…[L]ight vehicle FC sales [are expected to] reach 669,597 vehicles by 2020. The United States will be the largest market for FCVs in 2020 (134,049 FCVs), followed by China (129,241 FCVs) and Germany (126,783 FCVs)…

    "[G]rowth of the FCV market is balancing on two key items: the growth of H2 refueling stations and improved durability and efficiency of the FCs. Pike Research anticipates that automakers will meet their commitments, but it will be a much harder political sale to convince governments to subsidize the refueling infrastructure and gas companies to make the substantial financial commitments to build the stations. Therefore, Pike Research expects that FCVs will remain a small niche within the overall vehicle market for the first five or six years after they are introduced."

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010


    Small wind farm pays big
    Jill Burke, February 23, 2010 (Alaska Dispatch)

    "…[T]he village of Unalakleet, seated on Alaska's northwest coast, celebrated the town's newest energy force -- turbine number six. The awakening of the high-tech wind catcher completes the installation of the town's new wind farm, which has already saved the village tens of thousands of dollars…

    "Since November, Unalakleet has cut utility costs by nearly $55,000 and generated enough electricity to power 86 homes for an entire year…[W]ind energy has significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions [by the equivalent of more than 580,000 miles of driving, or about 111 one-way trips between Anchorage and Key West, Florida] that would otherwise have been pumped into the atmosphere through more traditional, diesel-only power generation…"

    click to enlarge

    "The project's success is due in part to a financial award from the State of Alaska's Renewable Energy Fund. The Alaska Energy Authority, which oversees the $250 million fund designed to lower energy costs for Alaskans, directed $4 million to the Unalakleet wind project. Other regional partners also chipped in, and the result is a six-turbine wind farm, owned by the Unalakleet Valley Electric Cooperative and targeted to reduce the community's energy costs by nearly one third. The Unalakleet project is one of nearly a dozen wind power projects in place statewide.

    "STG Inc. designed and built the farm…Building wind systems in Alaska brings unique challenges. While the impact to the state's remote communities can be huge in terms of cost, the communities actually demand a very small fraction of what turbines are capable of supplying…[and] power grids across the state tend to be small and isolated, which requires a delicate balancing act to ensure systems are stable…[and] integrate both [wind and diesel power] for maximum efficiency, cost savings, and stability…[O]ne way to prevent overload on the wind turbines is to create a way to "dump" any excess energy. In the case of Unalakleet, the wind farm directs extra electricity to water boilers, creating "waste heat" to warm the school gym and some school offices."

    click to enlarge

    "Alaska's arctic environment also poses unique challenges for the equipment. Alloys and metals used to build the turbines are designed to withstand the state's harsh, cold climate, the blades are painted black to help absorb heat from the sun -- thus deterring ice buildup -- and the equipment is also treated with a special coating to block bugs, including Alaska's infamous mosquitoes…

    "… Once [Unalakleet’s overhauled] power plant is in place, the wind farm can be more fully utilized…The wind farm was projected to pay for itself after 10 years of use, but if fuel costs rise in the years ahead, the payoff could come much sooner…Meanwhile, STG has more projects online, and says it's looking forward to harnessing even more of the state's raw wind power…"


    Concentrix Solar Enters the US Market With Megawatt CPV Deployment at a Chevron Facility; Latest Soitec Acquisition Enables Innovative Commercial Solution for Utility-Scale CPV Project
    February 24, 2010 (PR Newswire)

    "Concentrix Solar, a leading supplier of Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) systems and a new division of the Soitec Group (Euronext Paris), the world's leading supplier of engineered substrates…has signed a contract with Chevron Technology Ventures for the deployment of a one megawatt (MW) CPV power plant to be installed at a Chevron Mining facility in Questa, New Mexico…and is paving the way to utility-scale CPV projects.

    "Chevron…will install a one megawatt CPV solar power plant using Concentrix Solar's FLATCON(R) technology. This will be the largest CPV installation in the U.S. and one of the largest CPV power plants in the world. The power produced will be sold through a power purchase agreement to the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative…"

    click to enlarge

    "…Concentrix Solar already installed a demo system on the University of California San Diego campus. This demonstration tracker, installed in July 2009, confirmed system efficiencies (AC) of 25 percent under full field operating conditions."

    click to enlarge

    "Concentrix Solar operates a fully-automated manufacturing line in Freiburg, Germany, which produces high quality, durable CPV modules. The facility has a current capacity of 25 megawatts; further expansion is planned.

    "A FLATCON(R) CPV tracking system has a nominal power output of 6 kilowatts. One megawatt consists of approximately 175 systems, which can be placed in an area of 7 acres…"


    Coulomb Technologies Announces iPhone App for ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations
    24 February 2010 (Business Wire via EarthTimes)

    "Coulomb Technologies, the leader in electric vehicle charging station infrastructure…announced that the ChargePoint® iPhone App is now available in the iTunes App Store. The ChargePoint iPhone App gives electric vehicle owners the ability to not only easily locate ChargePoint® Networked Charging Stations for electric vehicles anywhere in North America, but see in real time if a charging station is currently available, in use, or out of service. Using the iPhone or iPod Touch, drivers can use the app to start and stop charging sessions, be notified when their vehicle is fully charged, and get directions to stations…"

    Click thru to buy the App

    "Using the ChargePoint iPhone App, EV drivers can now…Find charging stations near any specified address…Get turn-by-turn directions to charging stations…See the real-time availability status of charging stations: Available, In Use, or Out of Service…Start and Stop charging sessions directly from an iPhone…Get directions from current location to where the vehicle is charging…Get status on current or most recent charging session (energy, greenhouse gas savings, time)…Receive real-time notifications of current charging session…"

    Click thru to buy the App and find a charging station

    "Some features require a ChargePoint® Network driver account with an activated ChargePass™ card…[C]reate an account, and purchase or activate a ChargePass card [here]…Coulomb Technologies is a leader in electric vehicle charging station infrastructure with networked charging stations installed worldwide…"


    New Clear Lake company promotes algae as biofuel
    John Skipper, February 24, 2010 (Globe Gazette)

    "…[Bud Jermeland, president of Energae LP], said the primary focuses of his [Clear Lake, Iowa] company are waste-based ethanol and the use of algae in the making of ethanol for the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical markets…

    "The company recently purchased a 49 percent share of the Permeate Refining LLC ethanol plant in Hopkinton (Iowa)…That provides Energae with an instant revenue stream to help finance other projects."

    click to enlarge

    "The ethanol is waste-based, not corn-based…so the product is not subject to the price swings of the highly-volatile commodity markets…Energae is producing algae in South Carolina that will be used as a low-cost extract for alternative fuels…

    "…[The] company is committed to the fact that algae is the best long-term solution for cost-efficient biofuels and biodiesel in particular…He said another possibility for algae use is to grow pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals…"

    click to enlarge

    "Jon Alexandres of Tallahassee, Fla., a former Mason City businessman, did research on the algae project and helped raise $4 million to build a complete-algae producing system in South Carolina…Jerry Krause, longtime Clear Lake businessman…is the investor relations officer for Energae…Krause said the company has 260 investors and has room for more. Minimum investment is $5,000."

    [Bud Jermeland, president, Energae LP:] “We are committed to the fact that algae is the best long-term solution for biofuels - biodiesel in particular…The possibilities for algae continue to evolve…When gas and diesel prices were at $4 a gallon, alternative fuel projects generated more interests and incentives…We continue to search for the least cost, most efficient oil extraction methods. That alone is the key to a successful green fuel project involving algae.”

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010


    Clean Energy Shows Spark
    Keith Johnson, February 22, 2010 (Wall Street Journal)

    "The clean-energy industry is poised for record growth in the U.S., with big companies expecting to invest billions of dollars, despite Washington's failure to enact limits on greenhouse-gas emissions.

    "Areva SA, a world leader in nuclear power…[is] buying California solar-equipment maker Ausra Inc. The French energy company said demand for solar plants is likely to jump by 20% a year over the next decade and that it plans to be a leader…Many politicians and environmentalists had argued that a clean-energy revolution requires passage of a cap-and-trade program that limits greenhouse-gas emissions…But that doesn't seem to be the case. Existing programs to support clean energy, combined with the prospect that Congress will pass an energy and jobs bill, have many analysts projecting a banner 2010."

    click to enlarge

    "Natural gas could sap near-term enthusiasm for renewable energy and there's concern that government incentives could have only short-term effects…But the biggest names in renewable energy…say they are confident…NextEra, a unit of FPL Group Inc. and the largest wind-farm operator in the U.S…recently purchased a trio of wind farms…[and] plans to add one gigawatt of wind power this year…Spain's Iberdrola, the world's largest renewable-energy company…was the biggest recipient of U.S. government grants for clean-energy projects last year, receiving $570 million, and expects to receive $400 million more this year to spur wind-farm development…Clean-energy companies say it would have taken years before the penalties in cap-and-trade legislation would have sparked development…

    "The clean-energy sector last year braced itself for trouble after the credit crunch and the recession…But the U.S. government's stimulus package, which included cash grants for clean-energy projects, turned the year into a record breaker. The American wind-power industry, for example, installed nearly 10 gigawatts of new turbines, keeping the U.S. the world leader by capacity…"

    click to enlarge

    "Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a clean-energy consulting firm based in London, figures world-wide investment in clean energy could reach $200 billion this year, easily topping the record of $155 billion set in 2008…The [U.S.] Department of Energy still has almost $30 billion in stimulus grants left to spend this year…[and] the Obama administration's budget calls for a jump in federal loan guarantees for new energy projects…Energias de Portugal SA's Horizon plans to invest $4 billion in the U.S. through 2012. GE, which dominates the U.S. market for wind turbines, expects revenue in its clean-energy division to rise to $25 billion this year…

    "The companies do have concerns, however. Natural-gas prices are relatively low, which makes wind farms less economically competitive. And many companies worry that the short-term incentives for clean energy, especially the cash grants, could simply drive firms to accelerate already planned investment in clean energy rather than create new investment…That's why a lot of firms are still pushing for more long-term support, such as the federal renewable-energy targets…"


    Breakthrough in Energy Storage: Isentropic Energy; Isentropic Energy’s pumped-heat electrical energy storage could disrupt the large-scale electrical energy storage market.
    Eric Wesoff, February 23, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "…Today, the only economical method of storing energy at a large scale is pumped hydro…[which is] almost all large-scale electricity storage…or Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES). Unfortunately, both…[are unweildy and costly]…

    "…[T]he technologies that are most likely to reach commercialization in the near term are [CAES and] Lithium-ion batteries …[T]he cost of large-format Lithium-ion (for electric vehicles and utility-scale storage) [coulc] drop to $250 per kilowatt-hour…[But] Jonathan Howes, the Chief Technical Officer of U.K. start-up Isentropic Energy…is claiming large-scale storage costs that are an order of magnitude lower than Lithium-ion batteries or other stored energy technologies -- $55 per kilowatt-hour currently, with a path to get down to $8 per kilowatt-hour."

    From Greentech Media (click to enlarge)

    "Isentropic's technology is compact, has no geographical constraints and claims a round-trip efficiency of 72 to 80 percent…Isentropic's Pumped Heat Electricity Storage (PHES) system is based on the First Ericcson cycle and uses a heat pump to store electricity in thermal form. The storage system uses two large containers of gravel, one hot (500C) and one cold (-150C). Electrical power is input to the machine which compresses/expands air to 500C on the hot side and -150C on the cold side. The air is passed through the two piles of gravel, where it gives up its heat/cold to the gravel. In order to regenerate the electricity, the cycle is reversed. The temperature difference is used to run the system as a heat engine.

    "…[Isentropic] claims that its reversible engine/heat-pump boasts three critical features…[1] Very high round-trip efficiency -- 72 to 80 percent…[2] High reversibility -- the machine works as both an engine and heat pump…[I]f it first turns electricity into a temperature difference, it can then regenerate most of the electricity from the temperature difference…[3] Gas cycle machine -- no use of damaging refrigerants, chemicals, or water…"

    From Greentech Media (click to enlarge)

    "Isentropic's innovations include using aircraft engineering techniques to reduce piston weight and cost, designing new valving to eliminate pressure losses, and using a new sealing technology.

    "The design is intended for "small utility scale." Howes is targeting 2-megawatt 8-hour systems (16MW-hrs), although he claims that the systems can scale up and down. The firm is in the early stage and has built a "proof of ignorance prototype," followed by a technology demonstrator. Design of prototype three is now completed and has been built to demonstrate reliability…"


    Bloom Energy Claims a New Fuel Cell Technology
    Todd Woody, February 23, 2010 (NY Times)

    "A Silicon Valley company is claiming a breakthrough in a decades-old quest to develop fuel cells that can supply affordable and relatively clean electricity. Google, Bank of America, Wal-Mart and other large corporations have been testing the devices…

    "…Bloom Energy…has raised about $400 million from investors and spent nearly a decade developing a new variety of solid oxide fuel cell, considered the most efficient but most technologically challenging fuel-cell technology…K. R. Sridhar, Bloom’s co-founder and chief executive, said devices made by his company were generating electricity at a cost of 8 to 10 cents a kilowatt hour, using natural gas. That is lower than commercial electricity prices in some parts of the country…"

    From CBS via YouTube

    "…The company has been working on the technology for eight years while saying little. The secrecy, and the prominence of the venture capitalists backing Bloom, have fueled both hype and skepticism about its efforts..While Bloom may well have created one of the most efficient fuel cells, it is unclear how widely the company’s technology will be adopted. Cost and durability have limited the use of other types of fuel cells, and it could be years before the potential of the company’s approach is clear…

    "Fuel cells, which convert hydrogen, natural gas or another fuel into electricity through an electrochemical process, have long held out the promise of cheap and plentiful energy while emitting fewer pollutants than conventional power plants. But the need to use expensive precious metals like platinum and rare earth elements in some fuel cells, and corrosive materials in others, has kept costs high and shortened their longevity."

    From 16Dec71 via YouTube

    "Bloom claims it has learned to make the devices from common materials that will last for years. The Bloom fuel cell’s heart is a thin white ceramic [floppy disk-like] wafer made from sand…One side of each [is] painted with a lime-green ink that acts as the anode while a black ink on the back [serves] as the cathode. Bloom executives would not disclose the composition of the ink.

    "Small cells are stacked to make a larger device. As natural gas or another fuel passes over the cell and mixes with oxygen from the air, a chemical reaction generates electricity...Bloom executives contend that their device could cut the greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation by at least 50 percent, depending on the type of fuel used — a claim that is likely to receive close scrutiny…[The capacity of] the stack to withstand extreme temperatures without cracking or leaking [remains to be proven]…Mr. Sridhar contends the Bloom boxes, with reasonable maintenance, will have a 10-year life span…"


    Proposed law could chase Suntech, other solar firms from Arizona
    Patrick O’Grady, February 23, 2010 (Phoenix Business Journal)

    "Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. may reconsider locating to Goodyear and other solar power companies could follow suit if a law to classify nuclear power as renewable passes.

    "The companies warn that passage of House Bill 2701…could cripple the state’s nascent solar industry and send players to other states…Suntech, the largest Chinese manufacturer of solar modules [recently] announced…plans to put its first U.S. facility in Goodyear after more than two years of looking for a location. Officials said the state’s renewable energy standards developed by the Arizona Corporation Commission were key to the choice of Arizona for the manufacturing base…Barry Broom, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council which has worked to woo solar companies, said other companies have sent a similar message…"

    A small contingent of pro-nukers is about to drive this booming company out of Az. (click to enlarge)

    "HB 2701 was introduced…as a legislative attempt to bypass the Corporation Commission standards, requiring utilities to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. The bill would add nuclear and hydroelectric sources as a means to meet that goal. It also would do away with the commission’s distributed energy standard, which requires 30 percent of total renewable power produced by utilities [to come] from rooftop systems.

    "That segment is seen as a driver to demand, allowing Arizona Public Service Co. and other utilities to charge a tariff to fund incentive programs…Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, one of the large California installers which came to the state two years ago because of the incentives, said the bill would create a situation of double regulation and likely put many solar companies in the state out of business."

    Do the pro-nukers really think there isn't enough sun to power Az? (click to enlarge)

    "Kyocera Solar, which has its U.S. headquarters in Scottsdale, also finds the bill a possible impediment to solar in Arizona…

    "Representatives of the solar industry met with Gov. Jan Brewer…prior to the hearing on HB 2701. Suntech announced it was rethinking the Arizona location just prior to that…Broom said Suntech’s exit would devastate GPEC efforts to lure its suppliers to the state as well as any other solar company that was close to making a decision."

    Monday, February 22, 2010


    California solar project gets $1.4 bln US guarantee; BrightSource loan guarantee to help build 3 solar plants
    Poornima Gupta and Ayesha Rascoe (w/ Tom Doggett, Peter Henderson and Marguerita Choy) February 22, 2010 (Reuters)

    "The United States…gave its biggest backing yet to a renewable energy project, guaranteeing $1.37 billion in loans for a California development by BrightSource Energy… [that is] expected to generate about 400 megawatts of electricity and power about 140,000 California homes, giving it the heft to compete with plants fueled by coal and natural gas.

    "President Barack Obama's administration has touted green energy investments as a way to create jobs and increase international economic competitiveness…The sector has seen projects being launched and agreements being signed with utilities, who count on solar thermal to meet California clean energy goals, but construction has yet to start on a large scale for the solar thermal industry."

    Artist's rendering of the Brightsource solar power plant technology. (click to enlarge)

    "Financing of projects has been a big challenge with the tightening of the credit markets as capital requirements of these green energy companies are very large…Solar thermal companies like BrightSource and rivals Abengoa Solar, eSolar Inc have technology that uses the sun's rays, reflected by thousands of small mirrors, to heat liquids to create steam in turbines and generate electricity.

    "The conditional loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy, the largest federal loan commitment offered to a renewable energy firm, would help BrightSource build three utility-scale solar thermal plants for its Ivanpah project, which will be located on federally-owned land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California…California, and other parts of the world, are betting heavily on solar thermal. About a quarter of the clean energy contracts approved in 2009 in California by capacity was solar thermal…Construction on the first Ivanpah plant is expected to begin during the second half of this year, with commercial operations beginning in 2012…All three plants are expected be on line by 2014."

    More detail. (click to enlarge)

    "The loan guarantee is conditioned on BrightSource [obtaining] financial…environmental…local, state and federal regulatory approvals…The company earlier this month agreed to reduce the footprint for the Ivanpah project to minimize the environmental impact…[California utility] PG&E will purchase approximately two-thirds of the power generated at Ivanpah and [California utility Southern California Edison (SCE)] will purchase approximately one-third.

    "…[T]he key value of federal loan guarantees is that it helps strong renewable energy projects get financed, especially since the credit markets have yet to reach normal levels of activity…The loan guarantee is the sixth such offer to renewable energy companies by the Obama administration…Under the program, the Department of Energy issues a conditional commitment to guarantee loans to be provided by the U.S. Treasury's Federal Financing Bank."


    Clean Energy Jobs Act will create more than 16,000 jobs
    Thad Nation, February 19, 2010 (Wisconsin Business)
    The Macroeconomic Impact of the Wisconsin Clean Energy Jobs Act on the State’s Economy
    Dr. Steven Miller, Dr. Dan Wei and Dr. Adam Rose, February 18, 2010 (Center for Economic Analysis at Michigan State University, The Center for Climate Strategies and the University of Southern California)

    "A study conducted by the Center for Climate Strategies [along with researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Southern California] showed that more than 16,000 full-time jobs will be created as a result of the proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act [CEJA]…[They] determined that 3,799 of the 16,221 jobs will be realized in the first five years of the bill’s enactment, with the rest coming by 2025…Among the industries that will benefit from the passing of the bill (AB 659) are construction and agriculture…"

    ["The Macroeconomic Impact of the Wisconsin Clean Energy Jobs Act on the State’s Economy] summarizes the macroeconomic impact of salient components of [CEJA as introduced in the 2009 Wisconsin Assembly Bill 649 and Senate Bill 450]... informed by assessments conducted by the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming…"

    click to enlarge

    "The Task Force report identified over 50 actionable policy recommendations that formed the bases of the CEJA. Explicit targets of the CEJA include reducing Wisconsin’s GHG emissions in 2014 to 2005 levels, reducing 2020 emissions to at least 22 percent less than 2005 levels and reducing 2050 emissions to at least 75 percent less than 2005 levels. The emissions reduction targets in the bill are goals, not statutory mandates. Additionally, the bill sets the goal that by 2030 all new residential and commercial structures will use no more energy than is generated onsite using renewable resources. Finally, the bill sets out to reduce overall energy consumption in the state…"

    click to enlarge

    "The State of Wisconsin retained the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS)… CCS researchers applied well-recognized methodologies along with the Regional Economic Modeling, Inc. Policy Insight Plus (REMI PI+) model…Impact estimates take into consideration the public and private implementation costs, cost savings, price impacts and associated transactions…

    "Findings suggest that the CEJA will stimulate economic growth for Wisconsin…[with] immediate and positive net impacts on state employment. Over time, the CEJA is expected to increase gross state product (GSP) by $250 million in 2015, by $710 million in 2020, and by $1.41 billion in 2025 with a net present value of $4.85 billion…"


    Tennessee Valley begins 20-year contract for Iowa wind energy
    Lynda Waddington, February 22, 2010 (Iowa Independent)

    "The nation’s largest public power company will soon be powering homes and businesses across a seven state area with Iowa wind energy..."The Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal corporation, entered into a 20-year contract with Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC…[to] purchase up to 115 megawatts…from the Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm…in northeastern Iowa.

    "Generation is expected to begin this fall, subject to applicable environmental requirements and firm transmission arrangements being secured. The contracts are a result of a request for proposals TVA issued in December 2008."

    Iowa has begun a national energy powerhouse and is still growing. (click to enlarge)

    "Horizon, owned by EDP Renováveis S.A., operates more than 20 wind farms across the U.S. that produce more than 2,800 megawatts of power…[including] three wind farms in Iowa.

    "TVA provides electricity for utility and business customers in most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia…The company makes no profits and receives no taxpayer money. It is funded by sales of electricity to its customers, and electricity prices in TVA’s service territory are below the national average."


    Australia Group Rolls Out Plan for 100% Renewable Energy by 2020
    February 22, 2010 (SolveClimate)

    "A report to be released in the first half of this year finds that Australia can use solar and wind power to produce 100 percent of its electricity in 10 years using technologies that are available now.

    [Zero Carbon Australia 2020 by Beyond Zero Emissions] is based on the research of engineers and scientists…Australia now gets nearly 80 percent of its power from coal plants. Only 1 percent comes from wind power; less than half of 1 percent comes from solar energy…"

    click to enlarge

    "The report calls for 40 percent of power to come from wind turbines. Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, with molten salt to store energy, would form the backbone of the scheme, providing 60 percent of total electricity…CSP uses mirrors instead of solar cells to collect sunlight to produce steam and drive turbines to produce power…[A] 50-square-kilometer area covered in solar mirrors could theoretically meet all of Australia's electricity demand.

    "The report claims that 20 percent of the proposed CSP systems could be installed in four years, from 2011 to 2015…12 sites with a capacity of 3,500 megawatts each have already been selected for the solar installations…[B]iomass co-firing would be needed to back up solar plants in the throes of winter. The plan would also require new transmission lines between the solar- and wind-intensive areas and population centers…[It] calls for the total elimination of natural gas, not just coal…[and] envisions 100 percent electric vehicles by 2020…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[T]he plan is ambitious…[yet] feasible…despite the price tag…The cost of quitting carbon entirely is estimated at around $36 billion per year, or up to 3.5 percent of Australia's annual GDP…Chances for any kind of clean power transformation appear slim in Australia. The Senate in December failed to pass climate legislation that would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent by 2020 through a cap-and-trade program. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Labor government says it will reintroduce the legislation in late February.

    "The Beyond Zero Emissions plan…has been publicly endorsed by the Australian Greens…So far, the group has not received any real backlash from opponents…Wind and solar power could completely displace conventional fossil fuels, with no new nuclear power needed…Stanford University and University of California-Davis researchers] published a plan for 100% renewable energy for the entire world by 2030, fueled by a mix of solar, wind and hydroelectric power…with construction costs for [such] a global electricity shift…[around] $100 trillion worldwide over 20 years…"

    Saturday, February 20, 2010


    Calif. moves to expand solar market for homeowners
    Samantha Young, February 19, 2010 (AP via BusinessWeek)

    "More Californians who put solar panels on their roofs could sell the excess electricity they generate under legislation approved by California lawmakers.

    "The bill…would allow utilities to buy up to 5 percent of their energy from customers. Current law limits those purchases to 2.5 percent."

    Net metering is high up on the Solar Bill of Rights. (click to enlarge)

    "The Assembly adopted the bill…on a 53-1 vote…[Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger] intends to sign it…

    "Supporters say the measure will increase the use of solar technology and offset high electricity costs. The current cap threatened to close the market to new solar users…"

    click to enlarge

    "Consumer advocates argue the bill is flawed because none of the renewable energy homeowners sell to utilities would count toward the state's renewable-energy mandates. The state's utilities must generate 33 percent of their power from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, by 2030.

    "If utilities want to claim credit for the renewable electricity they buy from their customers, they would be required to pay homeowners and business owners a surcharge…[and] the rest of the state's energy customers would be asked to foot the bill."


    Google Cleared on Power Bid
    Mark Peters, February 19, 2010 (Wall Street Journal)

    "U.S. energy regulators approved a request by Google Inc. to become an electricity marketer, allowing the Internet giant to buy and sell bulk power like a utility.

    "The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously backed Google's application for what is known as market-based rate authority. The Internet company currently doesn't own generation facilities or transmission lines to deliver power and isn't planning to use the new authority for retail purposes, FERC officials said…"

    From Googleorg via YouTube

    "Most electricity marketers are utilities or power generators, but some large power users such as grocer Safeway Inc. and consumer-products maker Kimberly-Clark Corp. have been granted the authority by FERC.

    "Google has said its interest in the power markets stems from a desire to manage its own energy supplies and gain better access to renewable power. The company doesn't provide information on its electricity use, but it operates massive networks including large data centers."

    click to enlarge

    "A spokeswoman for the company has said Google has no plans to sell its energy-management service or speculate in energy markets. But she acknowledged the company isn't completely sure how it will proceed…

    "Google does offer an online tool to help consumers manage their energy use known as Google's PowerMeter. The company has partnered with utilities on this project."


    3TIER Launches Next Generation Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools; Highest resolution global datasets detail seasonal variability
    February 17, 2010 (3Tier)

    "...3TIER® [has released] of a new suite of global Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools that will change the way renewable energy professionals decide where to develop renewable resources by providing immediate access to seasonal variability data, which is critical to understanding a site’s energy potential…

    "3TIER’s Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools use a dynamic, point-and-click Web-based interface. They enable renewable energy developers, financiers, and manufacturers to instantly access information about any location worldwide, and compare-and-contrast sites with the click of a mouse…"

    click to enlarge

    "Based on sophisticated and globally consistent methodologies, the datasets provide more detail than any on-demand renewable energy information service currently available. The Wind and Solar Prospecting Tools are subscription-based products…

    "…[For wind, the tool provides]… Monthly mean wind speed…Annual mean wind speed…Annual mean wind direction…[and] Data available for 20 m, 50 m, and 80 m above ground heights…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[For solar, the tool provides]…Annual and monthly mean Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI)… Annual and monthly mean Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI)… Annual and monthly mean Diffuse Horizontal Irradiance (DIF)…

    "The suite provides access to 3TIER’s 5 km resolution global wind dataset and the company’s 3km resolution solar irradiance dataset. Coverage of the solar dataset currently includes North America, India, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Global solar coverage will be achieved in the coming months as data is validated."


    House Panel Probing Natural Gas 'Hydrofracking' Process
    Ian Talley, February 19, 2010 (Dow Jones Newswires via Nasdaq)

    "The House Energy and Commerce Committee…[has begun] an investigation into the potential impacts of a natural gas production process called "hydrofracking" on the environment and human health.

    "Environmentalists and some lawmakers are pressing to give the Environmental Protection Agency federal oversight of the process, concerned that the drilling technique is contaminating water supplies."

    click to enlarge

    "The process, which injects water, sand and a small amount of chemicals into natural gas reservoirs under high pressure, has opened major new deposits to development, dramatically expanding estimates for domestic production. State regulators and the natural gas industry have been fighting against federal regulation, saying it could prevent or delay development of trillions of cubic feet of new resources…

    "[Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D., Calif) and Energy Subcommittee Chair Ed Markey (D., Mass.)] sent out letters to eight hydrofracking service and production companies, including Halliburton Co. (HAL), BJ Services Co. (BJS) and Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB), requesting information on the process…Steve Heare, director of the EPA's Drinking Water Protection Division, said that despite claims by environmental organizations of thousands of cases, he hadn't seen any documented evidence that the hydrofracking process was contaminating water supplies. He also said state regulators were doing a good job overseeing the process. In its 2011 budget, the EPA is seeking to spend $4 million to study the environmental impacts of the process [but is not conducting any current investigations linking hydrofracking to water contaminations]."

    click to enlarge

    "Bill Kappel, a U.S. Geological Survey official, said contamination of water supplies is more likely to happen as companies process the waste water from hydrofracking. In some instances, municipal water systems that treat the water have reported higher levels of heavy metals and radioactivity. Those activities are largely already regulated by the federal government under the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water acts…

    "…[T]he American Petroleum Institute said hydraulic fracturing is a safe technology critical to developing the nation's vast natural gas reserves [that has been used for 60+ years in 1 million+ U.S. wells without a single confirmed instance of groundwater contamination]…"

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010


    Oregon is first U.S. site for a wave-power farm
    Tracy Loew, February 17, 2010 (USA Today)

    "…Construction has begun off Oregon on what would be the nation's first commercial wave-energy farm, said Sean O'Neill, president of the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition, a Maryland-based trade association that promotes marine energy. It is planned to supply energy to about 400 homes…

    "Wave power draws from the energy of ocean surface waves, according to Phil Pellegrino, spokesman for New Jersey-based developer Ocean Power Technologies [OPT], which is developing the project…A float on a buoy rises and falls with the waves, driving a plunger up and down…The plunger is connected to a hydraulic pump that converts the vertical movement into rotary motion, driving an electrical generator. Electricity produced is sent to shore over a submerged cable, he said."

    The Ocean Power Technologies PowerBuoy. (click to enlarge)

    "The first [OPT] buoy will measure 150 feet tall by 40 feet wide, weigh 200 tons and cost $4 million…Nine more buoys are planned to deploy at a site in Reedsport, Ore., by 2012, at a total cost of $60 million…

    "Some don't believe wave energy can work, said Onno Husing, director of the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association…The world's first commercial wave farm opened in 2008 off the coast of Portugal, at the Aguçadoura Wave Park, Husing said. It ran into financial difficulties last year and was suspended indefinitely…A wave-power device from another company, Finavera Renewables of Canada, sank off Oregon's coast two years ago…Other projects are under development in Spain, Scotland, Western Australia and off the coast of Cornwall, England…"

    Ready to put to sea and generate electricity. (click to enlarge)

    "Capturing that power is a challenge. The size of waves can fluctuate widely…There's also controversy about impact on the marine environment. Oregon fishers and crabbers worry the project will hurt their livelihoods…Ocean Power Technologies, the state of Oregon, conservation groups, coastal residents and fishers and crabbers have been working for more than three years to reach an agreement on how the ocean will be shared…

    "The Oregon project is being funded by Ocean Power, the U.S. Department of Energy, Oregon tax credits and money from the Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative…Because the technology is still being developed, wave power costs five or six times as much as wind power…[but experts believe] wave power eventually will be competitive with other alternative power sources, because waves are more predictable than either wind or sun…"


    Maryland aims for 100,000 solar rooftops in 10 years
    Meredith Cohn, February 16, 2010 (Baltimore Sun)

    "…[T]hree solar related bills being considered by the General Assembly…will make it easier to use solar power…will create jobs and… will lessen dependence on fossil fuels, according to Environment Maryland and the Maryland Energy Administration.

    "Environment Maryland says a quarter of Maryland homes are ready for solar panels that could capture energy that is now going unused. The group cites information from the International Center for Sustainable Development that shows the state gets about 196,000 gigawatt-hours of solar energy on a sunny summer day. That's more than what's produced at the state's mostly coal-fired power plants here in a year…"

    click to enlarge

    "The move [to solar energy] could reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution, as well as make energy distribution more efficient by creating it locally. It could also save consumers money and create local jobs…

    "…First, Gov. O’Malley has introduced legislation that would require a quicker ramp-up of the solar portion of the state’s renewable portfolio standard. This would mean that utilities would have to get a greater percentage of their energy portfolio from solar power sooner, which would jumpstart job creation and cut down on our emission of greenhouse gases."

    click thru for Go Solar Maryland

    "Second, Del. Hecht and Sen. Middleton are leading an effort to introduce legislation that would give municipalities the means by which to loan people money for solar and other clean energy projects at very low interest rates, resulting in more homeowners taking advantage of the clean, reliable electricity that solar energy generation provides.

    "Finally, Dels. Pinsky and Hecht are working on "net-metering" legislation, which would require utilities to pay customers back for surplus energy they create with the solar panels on their roofs…[in addition to now available state and federal government incentives]…"


    CPV Renewable Energy Company ('CPV REC') Closes Keenan II Wind Farm Financing; 152-Megawatt Green Energy Facility to Power Cleaner Sooner State
    February 16, 2010 (PR Newswire)

    "CPV Renewable Energy Company -- an affiliate of Competitive Power Ventures, Inc. -- announced that it has closed on financing and plans to begin construction on the 152-megawatt (MW) Keenan II wind farm, over approximately 8,000 acres 12 miles southwest of Woodward, Oklahoma. The project is scheduled for completion by year's end. It is the second phase of a multi-phased wind generation project with a total build-out potential exceeding 400 MW.

    "Keenan II is expected to generate enough electricity to power approximately 45,000 average Oklahoma homes and avoid approximately 413,000 short tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions…the equivalent of taking nearly 72,000 cars off the road. The project has secured a 20-year power purchase agreement with Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company."

    Oklahoma is a state that knows how to develop its energy assets and it has wind assets. (click to enlarge)

    "CPV REC selected an eight-bank club to provide a debt facility to fund project costs during construction, which converts to a term financing facility upon commercial operation…The Delaney Group, Inc. will construct the project, which will consist of 66 2.3 MW turbines.

    "The commencement of construction on Keenan signals that CPV shows no signs of slowing down its brisk pace of renewable energy development exhibited throughout 2009. In the second half of 2009 alone, CPV REC executed over 500 MW of long-term power purchase agreements. CPV REC has contracted wind farms scheduled to enter commercial operation in 2010, 2011 and 2012…"


    Ventura gets first plug-in hybrid electric school bus in Southern California; The Ventura Unified School District will put the $200,000, state-of-the-art bus into service this week. It's expected to achieve 30% better fuel economy than a conventional bus.
    Jerry Hirsch, January 27, 2010 (LA Times)

    (Thanks to Rick Cole, Ventura City Manager and city planning visionary, for the tip on this story.)

    "Major automakers are readying a wave of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles for consumers, but one local school district is already taking advantage of the technology.

    "The Ventura Unified School District unveiled a $200,000, state-of-the-art, plug-in hybrid electric school bus…the first in Southern California…[which] replaces a polluting, 1977 model."

    click to enlarge

    "The bus, built by the IC Bus subsidiary of Navistar Inc., is powered by a lithium ion battery pack and is expected to improve fuel economy up to 30% and reduce emissions up to 40% over a conventional gasoline-powered school bus.

    "Michael Chiacos, transportation specialist with the Community Environmental Council in Santa Barbara, believes the bus will do even better, improving fuel economy more than 60% compared with a traditional school bus…"

    And buses. (click to enlarge)

    "The bus comes to the district through a nationwide initiative called the Plug-In Hybrid Electric School Bus Project. The Community Environmental Council applied for funding through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District…"

    [Michael Chiacos, transportation specialist with the Community Environmental Council:] "While school buses are first to the market, consumer plug-in hybrid cars will soon be available from many manufacturers…Plug-in hybrids and electric cars are the largest revolution in a century of vehicles…[and] will help us transition to a future free from dependence on imported fossil fuels."

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010


    A-Power Receives NDRC Approval and Makes Cash Contribution to Texas Wind Farm Project Company
    February 16, 2010 (PR Newswire)

    "…Shenyang Power Group ("SPG") [subsidiary of fast-growing wind turbine manufacturer and distributed power generation ("DG") systems builder A-Power Energy Generation Systems] has completed the establishment of a project company related to the development of a 600MW wind farm in Texas and has made an initial cash contribution of $36.625 million. In connection with the capital contribution, SPG has received final approval from the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission ("NDRC") to proceed with this project.

    "…SPG…United States Renewable Energy Group Wind Partners I, LLC…and Cielo Wind Power, LP…[have an agreement] for the purpose of owning, designing, developing, constructing, managing and operating a wind energy power plant to be located in Texas with a total nameplate capacity of 600MW (the "Project")."

    Thanks to this project, Chinese money will fund one of those green dots and create U.S. jobs. (click to enlarge)

    "The Project is expected to cost in total approximately $1.5 billion, a portion of which is designated for wind turbine purchases…A-Power, the parent company of SPG, has been designated to supply wind turbines to the Project in Texas, and an affiliate of Cielo will develop the project…In addition to the thousands of American jobs that are anticipated will be created throughout the project's 30-year life, a minimum of 70 percent of each turbine will be wholly manufactured in the United States…"

    U.S. wind builders. (click to enlarge)

    "The United States Renewable Energy Group is a U.S.-based private equity firm that mobilizes and facilitates the participation of international financing and investment in large-scale renewable energy projects within the United States…US-REG is devoted to strengthening America's energy independence, environmental quality, and economic vitality through investments in utility-scale projects in wind, hydro, geothermal, solar, and bioenergy…[to foster] economic development of the U.S. renewable energy industries and [generate] new high paying jobs for Americans…

    "Cielo Wind Power, LP is a privately held company that develops, constructs, owns and operates wind power facilities. Based in Austin, Texas, Cielo has developed over 1,150 MWs of wind power facilities and is currently developing wind energy projects in the US power markets of ERCOT, SPP and WECC…[while] taking necessary steps to minimize the impact of wind projects on farming, ranching and natural uses of the land…"


    NV Energy plans renewable energy purchase from geothermal plant
    Stephanie Tavares, February 11, 2010 (Las Vegas Sun)

    "NV Energy will purchase 32 megawatts of renewable energy from a planned Central Nevada geothermal plant…NV Energy signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Clayton Power 1, a subsidiary of Ram Power Corporation.

    "Construction on the Clayton Valley Geothermal Project is expected to begin in early 2012 and be completed by 2014. It is one of five geothermal leases that Ram Power has acquired from the Bureau of Land Management in Esmeralda County, where the developer hopes to generate as much as 160 megawatts of electricity…"

    click to enlarge

    "Geothermal energy is popular with utilities because it is relatively inexpensive compared to other renewable energy resources like wind and solar and because it can reliably produce electricity 24-hours a day indefinitely regardless of weather.

    "Nevada is the number two geothermal energy producer in the country, behind California. It has more future geothermal energy in the planning stages than any other state."


    Waste not: Mohave Sun Power's solution for water scarcity
    Rikki Stanich, 12 February 2010 (CSP Today)

    "…[D]uring the stakeholder engagement phase of the [Mohave Sun Power 340MW Arizona concentrating solar power plant] planning procedure… concerns of local citizens and state agencies…[led the company to] the idea of using effluent from a nearby city’s wastewater treatment plant [for cooling]…

    "…From an economic, environmental, and operational perspective, the use of wastewater for wet cooling presented a more viable option than that of groundwater extraction or dry cooling…The proposed Hualapai Valley Solar project will be sited on 4000 acres of private land in Mohave County, Arizona. It will use parabolic trough technology and will have thermal storage capacity. The project is scheduled to come online in late-2013…"

    Artist's rendering of a parabolic trough solar power plant with thermal storage capability. The Hualapai Valley Solar project will be much bigger. (click to enlarge)

    [Greg Bartlett, project director, Hualapai Valley Solar Project/managing director & co-founder, Mohave Sun Power:] "The project uses water for cooling, mirror washing, boiler makeup, potable uses, and other miscellaneous on-site uses, with the vast majority (approximately 90 percent) being used for cooling…Cooling water is used to condense the steam…to complete the steam cycle… [T]o re-use the cooling water, it must be cooled [by evaporation] so that it doesn't continuously increase in temperature…

    "Although our project site was selected for its access to adequate, well-documented groundwater, we are pursuing the use of treated wastewater (effluent) as our primary source of cooling water…The city of Kingman is upgrading an existing wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), located approximately 20 miles from our project site…A majority of the output of the plant, the treated wastewater, is currently being evaporated in a large wetland area…"

    The facts on power plant water use. (click to enlarge)

    [Greg Bartlett, project director, Hualapai Valley Solar Project/managing director & co-founder, Mohave Sun Power:] "We intend to take delivery of the effluent at the boundary of the City's WWTP, and convey the wastewater to our project via a pipeline that we would finance. In addition, we would pay the City for the effluent, adding to the local economic benefits of our project…[T]he City could initially provide as much as 60-75 percent of our cooling water needs…[I]t is possible that we could use effluent for 100 percent of our cooling water needs within the first 5-10 years…The re-use of water…that is currently being evaporated (wasted), really fits into our vision of renewable energy…Public and governmental response has been very positive…

    "Dry cooling systems cost more to build, and result in a [7-10%] higher cost to produce electricity…[D]ry cooling systems consume more electricity and make more noise (both a result of multiple, massive cooling fans), and they have more of a visual impact (due to much higher cooling towers…Equally significant, dry cooling produces less electricity for the grid and therefore offsets less greenhouse gas emissions…The re-use of wastewater is not a new concept, and all of the regulatory issues [are settled]…[F]or a solar plant that is best sited in hot, dry, remote areas, it is rare to find a city wastewater treatment plant located close by…This is a testament to our siting efforts…[but there] is no reason that every wet cooled thermal power plant could not use effluent…"


    Oil firms drop group lobbying for US climate bill; Oil companies to continue lobbying for climate bill
    Timothy Gardner (w/Marguerita Choy), February 16, 2010 (Reuters)

    "BP and ConocoPhillips will drop out of a group lobbying for the U.S. climate bill as proposed legislation would hurt the motor fuel and natural gas industries, the companies said…The oil companies and Caterpillar Inc said they will not renew their memberships in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, or U.S. CAP.

    "The coalition of companies and moderate environmental groups formed a blueprint early last year outlining what they wanted in U.S. climate rules…The blueprint helped steer climate legislation passed in the House of Representatives last June. But the bill has stalled in the U.S. Senate, amid opposition from oil and coal states, and faces an uncertain future."

    click to enlarge

    "BP said it still supports the blueprint which called for a cap-and-trade market on emissions blamed for warming the planet, but that the current legislation is plagued with problems that would penalize the petroleum industry…

    "President Barack Obama still wants a climate bill to cap emissions and Senators John Kerry, a Democrat, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman, an independent, are trying to hammer out compromise legislation. They are expected to unveil the bill next month…In a move designed to advance legislation, Obama…announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to help build the first U.S. nuclear power plant in nearly three decades."

    click to enlarge

    "…U.S. CAP still includes energy heavyweights like Shell Oil Coand Duke Energy, a big power generator, and General Electric Co…But withdrawal of the companies from the group, which now has 28 companies, is another blow to supporters of an energy bill that would limit emissions across all sectors, including the power industry, automobiles and heavy industry and force all of them to partake into a cap-and-trade market…U.S. CAP said it expects U.S. action on climate this year and that it expects to add new members to the group in coming months…

    "…But it has lost powerful friends in the oil companies who have complained that the bill would hurt U.S. refineries because they could face much tougher regulation than similar plants in developing countries…Conoco's chairman and chief executive, said in a release that the bill passed in the House and climate proposals in the Senate would hurt the transportation industry… saddle drivers with higher fuel prices…ignores the big role natural gas can play in cutting greenhouse gas emissions…[and] would not create a functioning cap-and-trade market on emissions…"

    Monday, February 15, 2010


    Offshore wind farm developer scaling back plans
    Dave Alexander, February 13, 2010 (Muskegon Chronicle)

    "Norwegian developers are in the process of cutting their proposed Lake Michigan Aegir Offshore Wind Farm in half and moving it further from the Silver Lake State Park shoreline.

    "Officials from Scandia Wind Offshore LLC say they are reacting to overwhelming negative reaction to the location of their original plan for a 1,000-megawatt, $3 billion wind farm. As originally proposed, the 100 to 200 wind turbines would sit on 100 square miles off the near shore of the Oceana-Mason county line…Scandia is reconfiguring its proposal to uniformly move the wind farm to four miles off the Lake Michigan shoreline..."

    click to enlarge

    "Leaders from the Lake Michigan POWER Coalition — the well-organized group opposing the wind farm — will not end their opposition to the Scandia project based on the changes discussed by the developer…Specifics of the newly designed wind farm layout will be made public by the end of the month…after meetings last week with public officials…The wind farm developers said they hope to have county board advisory votes by mid-summer.

    "Scandia will want an initial vote of support for the company to begin costly economic and environmental studies…Public officials will have plenty of points along the development path to object to the company’s plans as state and federal permits are sought, Scandia officials have said. The wind farm timeline has construction beginning in 2015…[Scandia] is not surprised at the…opposition…[They have] been developing onshore and offshore wind farms since 1995…[and they know] some local opposition always arises…Scandia officials said they are “shocked” [that the] proposal is not winning points in Lansing…"

    click to enlarge

    "Scandia officials have said they want to receive an initial thumbs up or down on their plans from the two [most involved] counties before they formally approach state regulators…The governor-appointed Wind Council has been working on policies and regulations concerning wind farms on the lakes for more than a year…[and produced a] report on siting wind farms on Michigan-controlled waters.

    "It was a map [in the] Wind Council report that Scandia used to help find its original wind farm site — an area that is most favorable, due to wind strength, water depths and access to the electrical grid…[T]he state have regulations in place…[but the Wind Council] is developing legislative language for a law setting the rules and process for offshore wind farm approval in Michigan…A bill is expected to be introduced in the coming months… Scandia awaits the legislative process to produce the regulations it must meet if it goes forward on its Lake Michigan plans."