NewEnergyNews More: June 2010

NewEnergyNews More

Every day is Earthday.

Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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Your intrepid reporter

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    A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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  • Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    IT’S DEAL/NO DEAL ON ENERGY-CLIMATE

    Mild climate bill still a tough sell
    Darren Samuelsohn and Coral Davenport (w/Kendra Marr), June 30, 2010 (Politico)

    "President Barack Obama and key Senate Democrats signaled…they can live with a climate bill that falls far short of the economywide cap-and-trade plan Obama campaigned on…[but it’s] not clear…they can pass one.

    "Even a watered-down Democratic climate proposal still faces something between skepticism and outright hostility from most Senate Republicans — and the Democrats will need at least one, and probably a few, of them to get a bill through the Senate…Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he had doubts that [the watered-down] utility-only proposal [discussed by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)]…could get enough traction, given competing interests and the short calendar before the elections…"


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    "…[President Obama reportedly] insisted during the West Wing meeting that he wants to put a price on carbon emissions but acknowledged the difficulty of persuading other senators to go along on provisions that GOP leaders are quick to dub a “national energy tax.” … White House press secretary Robert Gibbs…said he wouldn’t disagree…[about] the administration’s willingness to budge from the sweeping, economywide approach…

    "All 23 senators attending the meeting spoke about their preferences for energy and climate legislation, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), lead author of a bill establishing a nationwide renewable electricity standard and of a draft plan covering greenhouse gas emissions from power plants."


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    "Among the Republicans, only Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins endorsed the concept of setting mandatory caps on carbon emissions. Collins favored a bill she has co-authored with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) that would auction off the bulk of her plan’s emission allowances, with three-quarters of the revenue recycled back to taxpayers. But Snowe made perhaps the biggest waves when she suggested moving toward a utility-only approach [and moved toward the bargaining table]…[O]ther Republicans…wouldn’t rule out a utility-only approach, even if they had their doubts about its chances…

    "Suggestions from the White House and Senate Democrats that they’ll scale back their ambitious climate bill are sure to draw fire from all sides of the climate debate…Some moderate Democrats aren’t even interested in going that far…And some of the far left environmental groups don’t like the idea all that much either…Reid is planning a mid-July floor debate on the energy and climate bill, before the Senate begins the confirmation debate on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan…]He] has not yet made any decisions on the size and scope of the packag…"

    EXPECT NEEDED WIRES

    Electricity Transmission Infrastructure; Market Drivers and Barriers, Emerging Technologies, Key Industry Players, and Worldwide Growth Forecasts
    David Barry and Clint Wheelock, June 30, 2010 (Pike Research)

    "The electric transmission grid is a crucial component of modern society…[T]ransmission is the foundation that supports activity in virtually all areas of the energy sector. In order to reap the full benefits of renewable energy and smart grid technologies, the capacity and information-carrying ability of transmission systems must be increased substantially. Indeed, the global economy will be inhibited if the grid cannot keep pace with technology advances, changing demographics, and the competitive energy markets.

    "… [I]nvestment in the [U.S.] transmission infrastructure is a critical priority… Considering that support for transmission development has spanned 20 years and four presidential administrations, it seems likely that this policy trend will continue…Pike Research’s analysis finds that four market drivers have the most impact on the development of transmission projects…[1] Reliability/capacity enhancements…[2]Renewable portfolio standards (RPS)…Economic projects…Replacement of infrastructure…"


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    "However, opposition to new transmission projects is common. The biggest obstacles are issues related to siting new lines and the allocation of project costs… [T]his issue will continue to be problematic. With regard to cost allocation, some progress has been made…Pike Research believes that the FERC will replace its current case-by-case cost allocation approach with a more consistent formula by the end of 2011."

    "The same forces that are stimulating overall investment in the electric power industry have fueled technological innovation in…several key transmission technologies…[1] Extra high-voltage and ultra high-voltage lines…[2] High-voltage direct current…[3] High-temperature superconducting cable and electronic components…[4] Fault current limiters…[5] Power electronics…[6] Wide area monitoring systems and phasor measurement units…"


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    "Public policy, market forces, and technological innovation have all…[made transmission] more competitive and more adaptable…[and] there is a greater emphasis on specialized applications…The transmission market varies significantly by region. In some areas, huge amounts of capital are being spent to modernize and expand…Pike Research forecasts that the worldwide transmission market will grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.5% during the forecast period (2010-2020). The majority of this growth will occur during the first half of the period, leading to modest or even declining growth rates for some regions in the second half of the period.

    "In the United States, the electric power industry has committed substantial resources to expand and modernize its grid. Pike Research forecasts an overall growth rate for transmission expenditures of 1.3% for the period from 2010 to 2020. The CAGR for the first half of the forecast period is expected to be 3.5%, reflecting the nation’s commitment to renewable energy and competitive wholesale energy markets."

    MUCH LESS DRILL BABY DRILL

    Public Opinion Snapshot: Public Turns Against Offshore Drilling
    Ruy Teixiera, June 28, 2010 (Center for American Progress)

    "The gulf oil spill disaster is starting to take a serious toll on public support for offshore drilling…[I]n February of this year, 63 percent of the public supported more offshore drilling as a policy response to address our energy needs, compared to 31 percent who were opposed. Today a majority of the public—52 percent—opposes offshore drilling, and support has fallen to 44 percent."

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    "Compare those views on allowing more offshore drilling to the robust support for requiring that new homes and buildings meet higher efficiency standards (78 percent), for increasing federal funding for research on wind, solar, and hydrogen technology (75 percent), and for spending more on subway, rail, and bus systems (64 percent)."

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    "The public is sending a clear message here about their priorities for meeting our energy needs. Let’s hope policymakers are listening."

    ALGAE BIOFUELS ROADMAP

    DOE Sees Long Road Ahead for Algae Fuels
    Jenny Mandel, June 29, 2010 (NY Times)

    "Biofuels squeezed from the cells of purpose-grown algae hold promise to help meet the country's need for non-petroleum fuels, but the technology is at an early stage and will require years of development to reach commercialization, the Energy Department said…

    "DOE's
    National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap…aims to summarize the state of technology today and point to directions for future work, dives into great detail on the biology of various kinds of algae, means of cultivating and harvesting them, and how they can be processed into fuel."

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    "The paper offers little guidance on what strategies hold the most promise to replace petroleum-derived fuels in the long term. But it paints a picture of the extensive research that will be needed to do so…[It] suggests that many years of both basic and applied science and engineering will likely be needed to achieve affordable, scalable, and sustainable algal-based fuels…

    "Al Darzins, a contributor to the report and group manager with the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, stressed… that algae is far less developed, technologically, than biodiesel fuel or corn ethanol…He pointed to the need for work on robust strains of algae and genetically enhanced strains to optimize qualities useful in fuel production, as well as in devising growth systems like open ponds or closed containers that will allow for inexpensive algae 'farming.'"


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    "…[R]esearchers are working on building comprehensive life-cycle models of algae fuel production that can be customized for economic analyses on various approaches…[T]hey will help scientists focus on the most difficult and expensive parts of the process in search of ways to have the largest and most immediate impact on the overall economics of fuel production.

    "One of the most promising characteristics of algae-based biofuels is the potential to create "drop-in" fuels that would work seamlessly with the existing transportation infrastructure -- unlike ethanol, which cannot be transported in gasoline pipelines or used at full concentration in conventional engines…Liquid fuels also pack more energy per unit of volume than do batteries, making them preferable in some respects for vehicles and…indispensable for some kinds of transportation like heavy trucks, railroads and aircraft…"

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    A STUDY OF SUN

    Global Solar Energy Outlook; Solar Demand Dynamics, Cost Structures, Policy Factors, and Competitive Differentiators for Suppliers: Market Analysis and Forecasts
    Dave Cavanaugh and Clint Wheelock, June 29, 2010 (Pike Research)

    "…[S]tarting in about 4Q 2008, a scant six quarters ago, the solar industry abruptly moved from a supply-driven market to a demand-driven market, resulting in…Financial performance of world leaders in solar cell and module manufacturing plunged to devastating losses and low-cost manufacturing, while maintaining module efficiency defined new world leaders…[A] financial crisis second only to that of the Great Depression…Technologies…struggling to survive…and…Module average selling prices (ASPs) fell so fast that the road to grid parity was redefined…

    "This report examines these events and defines…the key drivers…and the new solar market…[It] projects that the supply of solar modules will greatly exceed demand in 2010…Pike Research believes that the forecasted 8.2 gigawatts (GW) of unsold inventories in 2010 is unsustainable and will result in the consolidation of less competitive cell and module manufacturers."


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    "Which companies will survive and lead…Which companies…are the most likely candidates for closure or acquisition…What are the…competitive capabilities…Which module technologies will grow…why are cadmium telluride (CdTe) modules leading the Market…?

    "This report answers these questions…[and] Describes the market shift and the root causes…Forecasts demand of 10.1 GW…and projects that solar demand will grow to 19.3 GW by 2013…Forecasts a significant oversupply of solar modules reaching 18.3 GW under a most likely scenario in 2010 that will be produced by 193 cell and module manufacturers…Separates the large number of manufacturers into Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 categories…"


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    "…[It projects] that the 11.8 GW of Tier 1 capacity alone could supply the entire solar market in 2010… Asserts that low cost per Watt ($/W), in combination with efficiency, is now the main competitive differentiator…Lists and details other competitive differentiators…Charts revenues, gross margins (GMs), silicon costs, non-silicon costs, and ASPs of Tier 1 companies…Reviews restructuring, emerging, and current low-cost Tier 2 companies likely to survive consolidation…And, finally, reviews Tier 3 companies…

    "…[W]ith module ASPs falling to under $1.50/W by the end of 2010, according to Pike Research analysis, solar market growth is set to grow at a 24.5% CAGR from 2010 through 2013 to reach 19.3 GW…[I]f demand, particularly in the United States and China, is spurred by even lower module ASPs and higher fossil fuel-generated power cost and grows at a faster pace, total worldwide demand for solar modules could exceed 26 GW…[T]he solar market looks to be poised for sustainable growth that outpaces most other markets…"

    SMART METERS NOT SMART ENOUGH

    ACEEE Study Finds 'Smart Meters' Not Smart Enough to Slash Residential Power Use and Significantly Reduce Consumer Electric Bills; Demand Could be Cut by About a Tenth, Resulting in Tens of Billions in Pocketbook Savings for Consumers and a Significant Decline in CO2 Gases
    June 29, 2010 (ACEEE via PR Newswire)

    "Consumers could cut their household electricity use as much as 12 percent and save $35 billion or more over the next 20 years if U.S. utilities go beyond simple "smart meter" initiatives to include a wide range of energy-use feedback tools that get consumers more involved in the process of using less energy, according to [Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs: A Meta-Review for Household Electricity-Saving Opportunities] from the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)...

    "ACEEE based its findings on a review of 57 different residential sector feedback programs between 1974 and 2010…ACEEE found that three of the most promising approaches in the short- to medium-term include enhanced billing, daily/weekly feedback, and "off line" and Web-based real-time feedback…[P]rograms that go beyond "smart meters" are few and far between…[N]o U.S. utilities are currently providing the full range of needed services…"


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    "Beyond a short-term move to enhanced billing programs, households could see even greater levels of savings through the application of more sophisticated programs that integrate utility-based advanced metering initiatives with on-line or in-home energy displays and tailored guidance regarding the highest-impact means of reducing energy waste. Utilities across the country are investing in new electricity meters that provide two-way communications between the meter and the utility, and that monitor and collect household energy use data on an hourly basis (or even more frequently).

    "When paired with an on-line program, households can increase their knowledge about how they are using energy. When combined with an in-home display, electricity consumers can witness the amount of energy that they are consuming in real-time, calculate the month-end impact of their current consumption patterns, and assess the impact of adopting new practices and more energy-efficient technologies. The average electricity savings associated with online services providing daily/weekly feedback (the Google PowerMeter is one example) is about 8 percent while real-time feedback has witnessed an average savings about 9 percent per participating household…"


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    "Energy-use feedback can help households gain control over their energy use practices, reduce the amount of wasted energy, and reduce electricity consumption by 4 to 12 percent…[C]onsumers might enjoy a cumulative net savings of $2 to $35 billion or more over the next 20 years…

    "Advanced (or "smart") metering initiatives alone are neither necessary nor sufficient for providing households with the feedback that they need to achieve energy savings, however they do offer important opportunities…[A]dvanced meters must be used in conjunction with in-home (or on-line) displays and well-designed programs that successfully inform, engage, empower, and motivate people…Utilities and policymakers should…ensure that U.S. households receive needed feedback…Providing households with persistent feedback has resulted in sustained savings over time…"

    TOYOTA’S PLUG-IN PHEV

    …Toyota's plug-in-hybrid Prius; Toyota lends plug-in cars to local organizations
    Onell R. Soto, June 29, 2010 (San Diego Union-Tribune)

    "Five Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid cars are now in San Diego as part of the company’s efforts to find out how they will perform in the real world…

    "The cars are among 600 production models based on the 2010 Prius that Toyota is lending to organizations worldwide to fine-tune its design and help utilities better understand how the electric cars will affect grid operations."


    Like San Diego, cities all over the country are installing chargers. From TheMcdiana via YouTube

    "Each car features a larger battery than a standard Prius and can go 13 miles, and up to 62 mph, using only electricity…When the battery charge is depleted, the car’s gasoline engine kicks in and it operates like a standard Prius, in which an electric motor using battery power supplements the battery charge…It will take three hours to fully charge the battery using standard household power, and half as much time using a 240-volt connection.

    "When the cars hit dealerships in 2012, they will cost more than a typical Prius, which now sells for about $22,000, though Toyota won’t say how much more."


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    "Toyota is one of several companies introducing plug-in cars in coming years. The $100,000-plus Tesla Roadster is the first of the current generation of plug-in cars to hit the road. Nissan plans to roll out its Leaf all-electric car in December, and plug-in models are expected from Chevrolet, Mitsubishi, Tesla, Aptera and Fisker, among others...Some use only electricity, others have gasoline engines that turn on when batteries are depleted.

    "Supporters…say they help reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions because they can move without burning gasoline….But, because they rely on expensive batteries, the cars are pricier than similar non-electric models. State and federal governments are handing out rebates and tax credits in an effort to make the cars more affordable…"

    ADVANCE IN 2ND-GEN BIOFUELS

    DSM Develops New Technology For 2nd Generation Biofuel
    Roberta B. Cowan, June 28, 2010 (Wall Street Journal)

    "Life and material science company DSM NV… has developed a new bioconversion technology, which will improve efficiency in developing second-generation biofuels, or biofuel from waste agricultural products.

    "DSM will unveil what it describes as a breakthrough in bioconversion…at the world congress on biotechnology…"


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    "The new process includes using an enzyme which breaks down cellulose in wood, plant and other waste agricultural products. The sugars produced from the waste agriculture products are then converted by DSM's "advanced yeast" strain into ethanol, or biofuel. DSM coins the process an "all you can eat yeast," which substantially improves the conversion rate, up to 100% yield improvement, of sugars into ethanol.

    "DSM says it's now actively marketing both its differentiated enzyme and advanced yeast technologies as an integrated bioconversion solution, for the second generation, advanced bio fuels market, which DSM says is forecasted to grow exponentially over the next decade."

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    BLUE-GREEN ALLIANCE, WIND, STEELWORKERS WANT RES

    New Report Provides Blueprint for Building Domestic Wind Energy Component Supply Chain; BlueGreen Alliance, American Wind Energy Association, and USW Provide “Manufacturing Blueprint” to Build Out Domestic Wind Energy Supply Chain and Create U.S. Manufacturing Jobs
    June 28, 2010 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "According to a report…[from] the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), BlueGreen Alliance and the United Steelworkers, the U.S. wind industry can create tens of thousands of additional jobs manufacturing wind turbines and components if the U.S. passes long-term policies that create a stable market for the domestic wind energy supply chain…

    "Winds of Change: A Manufacturing Blueprint for the Wind Industry highlights growth for the American wind industry despite the absence of a long-term and stable market for wind energy, or policies to support wind’s manufacturing sector. While the growth in wind energy manufacturing has been steady — growing from 2,500 workers in 2004 to 18,500 in 2009 — tens of thousands of additional jobs manufacturing wind turbines and components, such as towers, gearboxes, and bearings, could be created with policies that establish a long-term, stable market and support the manufacturing sector’s transition to the wind industry…"

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    "…The report recommends a federal [Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring that U.S. utilities obtain 25% of their power from New Energy sources by 2025] with meaningful mid-term targets, regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, and policies specifically aimed at building the U.S. wind energy manufacturing sector…"

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    "Along with the RES, specific policies aimed at building the wind manufacturing sector include extending and strengthening the Recovery Act’s convertible tax credit program (1603), fully funding the Green Jobs Act, building a transmission grid infrastructure to meet the demand for clean energy and utilizing loan guarantee programs for commercial manufacturing of clean energy.

    "The report recommends passing Senator Sherrod Brown’s IMPACT Act, which creates a state-level revolving loan fund to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers retool for clean energy markets and adopt energy efficient manufacturing. The report also recommends extending and strengthening the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit with specific incentives and accountability provisions to maximize domestic job creation, including giving highest priority to projects that manufacture clean energy component parts."

    ITALY PASSES U.S. IN SOLAR PV

    Italy Surpasses USA in Solar PV; Installing More Every Two Months than California in an Entire Year
    Paul Gipe, June 28, 2010 (Wind-Works)

    "In a dramatic display of the power feed-in tariffs have in driving markets, Italy installed more solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2009 than the entire US. Moreover, within the first quarter of 2010, Italy's total installed solar PV capacity was expected to exceed that of the US.

    "Italy installed 720 MW of solar PV in 2009, nearly all of that on rooftops. In contrast, the US installed 435 MW during the same period…Italy introduced a system of feed-in tariffs for solar PV in February, 2007…By the end of 2007, Italy had installed five times more solar PV than in the previous year. Despite numerous bureaucratic roadblocks, the solar industry took off in 2008 and installed nearly 350 MW, then a record-breaking number. Solar PV installations have been doubling since then and are expected to reach 1,500 MW in 2010."


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    "Italy is three-fourths the size of California, with which it is often compared because of their similarly-sized economies. Italy has a population of 60 million, to California's 40 million. The population of the US is five times that of Italy.

    "Italy is now the world's second largest annual market for solar PV, after Germany…[T]here were 1,250 MW of total installed solar PV capacity in the US at the end of 2009…[and] the US is installing 40-50 MW per month…Italy [is installing] 125 MW per month. At this pace, Italy surpassed the US in total installed PV capacity before the end of the first quarter and likely by the end of February, 2010…Italy is installing more capacity--250 MW--every two months than California is installing per year."


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    "By the end of 2010, Italy will have a total installed capacity of more than 2,500 MW. This is two and one-half times more capacity than expected in California, and one and one-half times more than expected in the US…Italy's 2007 decree also set a solar PV target of 1,200 MW…[which they reached] earlier this year.

    "…The proposed revision to [Italy’s] feed-in tariff program…currently waiting approval, reduces the tariffs and sets a new target of 3,000 MW for the three-year period from 2011 to 2013…[It] cuts the tariffs 18% in three equal steps of 6% during each of the first three quarters in 2011…93% of all solar PV in Italy is installed on rooftops in distributed applications…"

    MORE PROBLEMS WITH CCS

    'Carbon storage' faces leak dilemma – study
    27 June 2010 (AFP)

    "Dreams of braking global warming by storing carbon emissions from power plants could be undermined by the risk of leakage, according to a [new] study…

    "Rich countries have earmarked tens of billions of dollars of investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that is still only at an experimental stage…[that would capture]…carbon dioxide (CO2)…from plants that are big burners of oil, gas and coal…[and] buried in the deep ocean or piped into underground chambers…"


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    "CCS supporters say the sequestered carbon would slow the pace of man-made warming. It would buy time for politicians to forge an effective treaty…Critics say CCS could be dangerous if the stored gas returns to the atmosphere. They also argue that its financial cost, still unknown, could be far greater than tackling the source of the problem itself.

    "The
    new research, published by the journal Nature Geoscience, wades into the debate with an estimate of capturing enough carbon to help limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)…Storing CO2 in the ocean will contribute to acidification of the sea, with dangers that reverberate up the food chain…It also carries a higher risk of being returned to the atmosphere by ocean currents and storms."

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    "Underground storage is a better option, but only if the geological chamber does not have a significant leak or is breached by an earthquake or some other movement…The gas will have to be stored for tens of thousands of years to avoid becoming a threat to future generations, a scenario similar to that for nuclear waste…[L]ess than one percent of the stored volume [per 1,000 years] can be allowed to leak…To offset any bigger leak, re-sequestration [i.e., grabbing and storing an equivalent amount of CO2 from the air]…would be needed…But this would be a cost burden that could last for millennia…

    "Until only recently, CCS was widely dismissed as fantasy or a last-ditch option…In 2008, the Group of Eight (G8) summit recommended launching 20 large-scale CCS demonstration projects by 2010…[O]ver the past two years, countries have committed 26 billion dollars in CCS projects…"

    CALIFORNIA AIMS FOR 33% NEW ENERGY

    KEMA, California ISO Examine Renewables Integration, Energy Storage
    23 June 2010 (KEMA via Renew Grid)

    "KEMA and the California Independent System Operator (California ISO) recently completed a collaborative research project that modeled the effects that high levels of renewable generation would have on the grid and examined how grid-connected electricity storage could be used to accommodate renewables on the system.

    "KEMA concludes that accommodating 33% renewable generation by 2020 (the state's renewable portfolio standard) will require major alterations to system operations…[and] notes that California may need between 3 GW and 5 GW or more of conventional (fossil-fuel-powered or hydroelectric) generation to meet load and planning reserve requirements."


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    "Existing studies have generally concluded that the variability and high-ramping characteristics of renewable generation create operational issues for grid operators. [Research Evaluation of Wind Genration, Solar Generation and Storage Impact on the California Grid] quantifies these effects with a dynamic model that simulates system performance on a time scale of one second or less…"

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    "The report analyzes the effect of increasing renewable energy generation on California's electricity system and assesses and quantifies the system's ability to keep generation and energy consumption in balance…

    "The study also examines the relative benefit of deploying fast-response electricity storage versus utilizing conventional generation to regulate and balance load requirements…[It] concludes that a 30 MW to 50 MW storage device is as effective as a 100 MW combustion turbine used for regulation…The prospective benefits to California from the development of fast electricity storage resources for use in system regulation, balancing, and renewable ramping mitigation are significant…"

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    MICHIGAN UTIL MOVES ON WIND

    Consumers Signs Up For 240 Megawatts of New Michigan-Based Renewable Energy
    27 June 2010 (Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report)

    "…Consumers Energy has reached power purchase agreements with independent developers for more than 240 megawatts of new Michigan-based renewable energy capacity.

    "The agreements support Consumers Energy's Balanced Energy Initiative…a comprehensive 20-year plan to meet the needs of its 1.8 million electric customers with a balanced energy portfolio, including energy efficiency, renewable energy and customer demand management…"


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    "The power purchase agreements are for 20 years and have been submitted for approval to the Michigan Public Service Commission. The new renewable energy projects are:

    "…John Deere Wind Energy, based in Johnston, Iowa, will develop its Michigan Wind 2 farm…[It] will provide 90 megawatts…beginning in 2012…John Deere Wind Energy will develop its Harvest II Windfarm project…[It] will provide 59.4 megawatts…beginning in late 2012…John Deere Wind Energy and Great Lakes Wind, LLC, will develop their Blissfield Wind Energy project…[It] will provide 81 megawatts…beginning in late 2012…Waste Management Renewable Energy…will develop an additional landfill gas electric generation facility at its Pine Tree Acres landfill…The project will provide 12.8 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to Consumers Energy beginning in 2012…"


    This is a good start but the real answer to Michigan's energy - and economic - needs is on the wind on the Great Lakes. (click to enlarge)

    "The power purchase agreements support Consumers Energy's plan to increase its renewable energy supply portfolio to 10 percent by 2015 to meet the requirements of Michigan's energy reform law…Consumers Energy is the largest supplier of renewable energy in Michigan. More than 4 percent of [its] power…comes from renewable sources based in the state. Energy from the four new projects will bring the total expected supply from renewable sources to over 6.2 percent…

    "Once ready for construction, the new wind projects are each expected to create between 150 and 200 construction jobs…"

    IDAHO TO GET THIN FILM SOLAR JOBS

    Thin solar panels to be built in southwest Idaho
    (June 24, 2010 (AP)

    "…[Transform Solar] formed by Boise-based Micron Technology Inc. and Origin Energy of Australia…[plan] to start making extremely thin but highly efficient solar cells that will be available next year.

    "Transform Solar officials say the so-called sliver solar cells will be made at a plant in Boise where Micron once made computer chips, and the cells will be combined into solar panels at another plant owned by Micron in Nampa…Transform Solar has hired 70 employees and expects to hire up to 50 more, with most of the jobs based in southwest Idaho."


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    "Micron and Origin late last year announced the agreement that officials said takes advantage of Origin's experience in energy markets and Micron's expertise in making thin semiconductors… Transform Solar's manufacturing and research will be based in southwest Idaho, and more research and development will be done in Adelaide, Australia.

    "Company officials say that because the sliver solar cells are so thin, the cost of the silicon used to make them can be reduced by 90 percent, making the cells competitive in the crowded solar energy field…[T]he cells are less than 50 microns, or less than two-thousandths of an inch, making them the thinnest in production, and bifacial, meaning they can capture sun energy from both faces."


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    "Earlier this month, Transform Solar introduced its sliver technology at the Intersolar trade show in Germany…Boise Mayor Dave Bieter announced earlier this month that solar panels using the technology will be used in a $45 million facility proposed by Sunergy World near the Boise Airport that will be able to generate 10 megawatts…

    "Elected leaders in the region are hoping the hiring of workers to build the panels is a sign of better times ahead…"

    THE NOWHERE ROAD TO MORE BIOFUEL

    US unveils roadmap to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022
    25 June 2010 (Energy Efficiency News)

    "US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled a roadmap…outlining a regional strategy to help meet the target of 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022…

    "The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    [Regional Roadmap] identifies numerous biomass feedstocks – including switchgrass, corn, crop residues and municipal waste – that could be used to produce biofuel and calls for further research into new feedstocks, sustainable production methods and efficient conversion technologies."

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    "The main obstacle to reaching the country’s target of 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022 is the currently restricted market, because of the small number of flex fuel vehicles and the inability of standard vehicles to use higher biofuel blends.

    "The report calls for a rapid expansion of blender pumps and flex fuel vehicles, as well as approval of higher blends of ethanol in conventional fuels."


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    "The USDA also wants to see biorefineries sited in areas of “economic distress”, where biofuel production can be a boon for poor rural areas.

    "Growth Energy, a coalition of ‘ethanol supporters’, has welcomed the report and USDA’s plan of action…"

    THE SOUND OF AN EV

    Listen! Hear Nissan Leaf's space-age sound to warn pedestrians
    June 25, 2010 (USA Today)

    "…[F]rom [all the] sounds in the world…Nissan just made it's choice [of one to warn pedestrians that a super-quiet electric car is about pass by], and it sounds…sort of like a mix of a jet engine and the cartoon Jetsons' spacecraft…The noise is going into [Nissan’s] first electric car, the Leaf, which goes on sale later this year…"

    Forward. From GMVolt via YouTube

    Reverse. From GMVolt via YouTube

    "…Don't like the noise? Nissan installed a switch in the car that allows drivers to turn it off, but that feature is raising concerns from groups representing the blind…[Reports say] the sound was four years in the making, and was developed with the help of acoustic psychology experts at Vanderbilt University, a Hollywood sound studio, and others. The sound had to be audible to a wide range of people, especially old people and the hearing impaired. Nissan says it went through 100 different sounds…"

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    MORE OBAMA MAGIC FOR ENERGY-CLIMATE BILL?

    Can President Obama forge a compromise on an energy bill?
    Editorial, June 23, 2010 (Washington Post)

    "President Obama will bring senators to the White House soon in another attempt to achieve bipartisan accord on energy and climate policy. The president's push could be the last opportunity to pass a significant bill any time soon.

    "The most helpful thing…[would be] a gradually rising price on the carbon emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels. The best way to do this would be with a simple tax…A well-designed cap-and-trade system also would encourage conservation and fuel switching…Most of the proceeds from either could go right back to consumers, with some set aside for research and infrastructure improvement."


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    "Mr. Obama has endorsed some variation of this rational approach. Unfortunately, much of the Senate does not share his enthusiasm. Many Republicans would rather rail…[and] many Democrats don't want to give Republicans any excuse to rail. Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) included a modest cap-and-trade mechanism for utilities and manufacturing in their compromise energy proposal, but even its prospects are uncertain at best."

    "Is there a way forward? Some observers argue that it's more realistic for Democrats to press only for politically attractive things such as clean-energy mandates, efficiency standards, research and development funding and lots of energy subsidies. But that approach is expensive…inadequate to meet even…underwhelming medium-term emissions targets…[and] the Democrats' left flank in the Senate has threatened to oppose an energy bill without some kind of carbon price."

    click to enlarge

    "Another option is to include those politically attractive measures, as well as GOP priorities such as generous provisions for nuclear power and some of the efficiency programs [in the Lugar Practical Energy and Climate Plan]…but to add a cap on emissions from utilities…

    "…[Utility emissions] account for about 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and many utilities already have agreed to submit to cap-and-trade regulation. This, too, would be imperfect: It would not raise as much money or cut emissions as much as the Kerry-Lieberman proposal would. But putting a price on carbon even in one economic sector might make it easier to establish a more effective cap in the future. It's a Plan C worth considering."

    BIG OIL ATTACKS CALIF CLIMATE LAW

    Measure to delay greenhouse gas cuts qualifies for November ballot
    Margot Roosevelt, June 22, 2010 (LA Times)

    " [California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:] "This initiative sponsored by greedy Texas oil companies would cripple California's fastest-growing economic sector, reverse our renewable energy policy and decimate our environmental progress for the benefit of these oil companies' profit margins…I will not allow this to happen on my watch."

    "An oil industry measure to postpone enforcement of California's 2006 global warming law [has] qualified for the November ballot…setting up what promises to be a nationally watched struggle over the future of renewable energy."


    California has the finest New Energy effort in the country. Can it keep it? From stopdirtyenergyprop via YouTube

    "The initiative, launched six months ago by Texas oil giants Valero Energy Inc. and Tesoro Corp., comes as the oil industry has fallen under intense scrutiny in the wake of the gulf oil spill disaster.

    "California's law, by limiting greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, oil refineries and other industries, has already begun to create a huge market for solar, wind and other clean energy sources…[but] could falter if the initiative passes…[T]he law, AB 32, would require that a third of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2020…Proponents are calling their measure "The California Jobs Initiative" and painting the climate law as "an energy tax." The initiative would halt enforcement of the law until unemployment in the state, now over 12%, sinks to 5.5% for at least a year…"


    From stopdirtyenergyprop via YouTube

    "Proponents of the measure spent $3 million, of which more than two thirds was contributed by the two Texas companies and other energy interests, to gather more than 800,000 signatures to place the measure on the ballot…Valero, which owns several California refineries, has mounted an aggressive campaign against federal efforts to pass climate legislation…[P]ostponing California's rules to limit greenhouse gases could damage the chances of any federal legislation."

    [Steve Maviglio, spokesman, Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs:] "The Texas oil companies think if they can kill their clean energy competition in California, they can do it everywhere…"

    TEXAS WIND GIANT GOES ONLINE

    Iberdrola starts up 404MW Peñascal wind farm in Texas
    Ben Backwell, June 21. 2010 (Recharge)

    "…Iberdrola Renovables has started production from its Peñascal wind farm in Texas, the company’s largest facility to date. The complex consists of the Peñascal I and Peñascal II wind farms in Kenedy County, Texas. The wind farms comprise 168 Mitsubishi MHI 92 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 2.4 MW.

    "Iberdrola says that the wind farm project has created about 20 direct jobs in operation and maintenance…around 200 people were involved in its construction."


    The stature of Penascal. (click to enlarge)

    "…[Iberdrola] spent over 4,000 hours researching the characteristics and habits of the bird life in the region prior to the wind farm’s construction in order to meet stringent environmental criteria. The complex’s features include a radar that detects the arrival of large flocks of migratory birds and shuts down the turbines if visibility conditions present a danger.

    "Iberdrola Renovables is the second largest wind power operator in the US. At the end of the first quarter the company had 39 wind farms in 23 states, with an installed capacity of 3.83 GW. It plans to install 1GW per year in the US in 2011 and 2012."

    WIND IS CHEAPEST ELECTRICITY – ALASKA UTIL

    Alaska utility says wind farm power cheaper
    June 23, 2010 (AP)

    "…The proposed $93 million Eva Creek wind farm would be the largest in the state and could produce power for a full cent less than [The Golden Valley Electric Association's] current wholesale price, which is about 10.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

    "Kate Lamal, a vice president for the utility, said… [Eva Creek] should be able to deliver 9 megawatts of power…[and] also said years of data on wind patterns are strong enough to secure loans…[A] $2 million renewable-energy grant from the state has paid for studies of road access, bird migration patterns and integration with Golden Valley's existing energy portfolio."


    Alaska's coastal wind riches are amazing. (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he utility plans to solicit bids to present to the board of directors this fall. Approval would let engineering advance this winter, road and foundation construction begin next summer, and turbine installation follow in 2012."

    The Panhandle winds are even richer. (click to enlarge)

    "Joe Blanchard, a Borough Assembly member, said…he supports the Eva Creek project while still considering himself among those who feel the state will fail to meet the Legislature's green energy goals without investing in a large hydroelectric dam.

    "In April, the Legislature chose to set a target that Alaska will get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable and alternative sources within 15 years…Kat Keith, an applied wind-diesel specialist at the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, said interest in wind power in Alaska is growing. The state hosts 19 wind projects; that number could grow to 25 or more in 2011…"

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    LOOKING OFFSHORE FOR WIND

    The answer, they say, is blowing in the wind
    Joseph Picard, June 21, 2010 (International Business Times)

    "…Earlier this month…[ten] Atlantic Coast states [signed] a memorandum of understanding with the federal Department of the Interior that formally establishes an Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium to promote the efficient and responsible development of wind resources on the Outer Continental Shelf [called by some the Saudi Arabia of wind power]…

    "…[I]f the Rhode Island project to set eight wind turbines off the shore of Block Island, and thus provide the island with electrical power, is the first wind turbine project to come to completion, companies that manufacture materials related to the industry will relocate to Rhode Island…[A] preliminary mapping project must first be completed …Rhode Island [hopes] to have permits issued before the end of the year, so that actual construction could start as early as next year…The eight-windmill Block Island project would be followed by a larger project of 110 turbines 15 miles out to sea [in federal waters, requiring federal permits and coming in perhaps 5-to-7 years]…"


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    "In Massachusetts, the oldest offshore wind power project, the Cape Winds project, received a boost in April 2010 when the federal government officially approved the effort, which aims to place 130 wind turbines off the shore of Nantucket Island. The project has been alive for 10 years, but now has found a purchaser for the energy it promises to produce and there is speculation that construction could begin as early as the end of this year.

    "Delaware recently received permission from the federal Department of Interior to start the bidding process…Bluewater Wind, developer of wind farms, is looking to construct a 150-turbine field 12.5 miles off the Delaware coast that could produce 230 to 450 megawatts of power. The $800 million project would generate more than 1,000 jobs during construction, and produce millions of dollars in revenue for the state each year…Delmarva Power has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with Bluewater Wind to sell the utility up to 200 megawatts of power, once the wind turbines are [producing]..."


    click to enlarge

    "But, as is the case in Rhode Island, the time it takes to get federal permits can set the project back years…Responding to these concerns, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has promised to work to streamline the permitting process…Salazar said his department is working to make the rules clearer and to combine two environmental impact studies, now required, into one. He said he hopes to cut the permitting time in half. The consortium…should also contribute to speeding up the process.

    "While the bureaucracy seeks to streamline the permitting process, Congress, if it passes the Clean Energy Bill as the Administration desires, may shift more funding and technical assistance towards wind power, which would give an added boost to the industry [without a significant cost to taxpayers]…"

    OHIO UTILITY SHINES SUN

    DP&L Officially Opens Largest Solar Power Facility in Southwestern Ohio; Built by Regional Companies, Solar Array Features Informational Kiosk for Visitors
    June 22, 2010 (Business Wire via MarketWatch)

    "The Dayton Power and Light Company (DP&L)…officially [opened] a 1.1 megawatt solar array near its Yankee substation in Washington Township, Montgomery County, Ohio. Construction of the array began in December 2009…

    "…[Ohio’s] energy legislation calls for 25% of all energy consumed by Ohioans to be from alternative energy by 2025. Of that, .5% must be solar energy…"


    Building a PV solar power plant in 2 minutes. From DPLToday via YouTube

    "DP&L's Yankee solar array consists of 9,120 solar panels constructed over 7 acres, and generates enough electricity to power the equivalent of 150 homes a year. The array cost approximately $5 million to build.

    "DP&L's Yankee solar facility was constructed in partnership with a number of regional companies led by Ameridian Specialty Services, Inc. of Cincinnati…Miller-Valentine Commercial Construction of Dayton handled the overall site construction…Schneider Electric of West Chester supplied the ac/dc inverters for the solar panels…ESI Electrical Contractors of Dayton provided electricians to wire the solar panels…"


    click thru for more info

    "…Inovateus Solar of South Bend, Indiana handled the procurement of the solar panels from Sharp USA and developed the overall solar site design…Schletter, Inc. of Tucson, Arizona supplied the solar panel racks and installed the posts that support the panels…

    "Starting in July, a visitor center will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to provide information about solar power and up-to-the-minute performance of the array…"

    NASA BOSS AGAINST BIOFUELS

    NASA boss investigated over biofuel project
    Robert Block and Mark K. Mathews, June 20, 2010 (Orlando Sentinel via St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    "While millions of barrels of spilled oil choke the Gulf of Mexico, NASA is working on an ocean-based biofuels venture that could revolutionize clean-energy production at sea and treat wastewater at the same time.

    "The scientist running the $10 million experiment, called Project OMEGA, uses words such as groundbreaking and exciting [but]…NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden doesn’t believe in OMEGA — and has sought to slow it down…He was advised against it by Marathon Oil — the Texas-based company on whose board Bolden sat until he was named NASA administrator last year. The former astronaut and Marine Corps general also still holds as much as $1 million worth of Marathon stock."


    click thru for the complete presentation

    "…Bolden’s decision to vet OMEGA with a company in which he has a significant financial interest — and that also has invested in a competing biofuels proposal — has prompted an investigation…Bolden says he did nothing wrong, and his lawyers at NASA agree…But government ethics watchdogs say Bolden should have steered clear of involvement… Privately, White House and congressional officials have expressed growing doubts about Bolden’s judgment…[T]he NASA chief sought Marathon’s advice after he was pressed to sign an agreement to allow the U.S. Navy to work on the project…Bolden wrote that he did not think that NASA should be the lead federal agency looking at alternative fuels…Bolden received Marathon stock equivalents valued at the time between $500,000 and $1 million…[and] still holds the Marathon stock…

    "OMEGA’s supporters say the concept is promising — and remarkably simple…[I]t starts with algae being placed in sewage-filled plastic bags, known in NASA-speak as “offshore membrane enclosures for growing algae” or OMEGA. The semipermeable plastic was originally developed to recycle astronauts’ urine during space missions…"


    click thru for more info from NASA

    "The algae — which pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere — would feast on nutrients in the sewage, turning it into clean water that would be released into the sea through the bags’ one-way membranes. Wave action would keep the algae mixed and healthy, producing fat-soluble molecules called lipids as the plants grow that would then be harvested for fuel…[S]eawater would kill the algae, and the lipids would break down naturally [if the bags leak]…[A]lgae farms covering 10 million acres of ocean…[could provide enough biofuel to satisfy U.S. aviation-fuel needs]… Ten days ago, the project passed a preliminary evaluation by experts from NASA, the Department of Energy and the Navy. It’s now being readied for a prototype field test…

    "In 2008, while Bolden was still on the Marathon board, Marathon invested $10 million with New Hampshire-based ethanol manufacturer Mascoma Corp…But algae can produce far more oil per acre than other crops…The reason for Marathon’s criticism is unclear…[T]he company did not have enough information to draw any conclusions about OMEGA…"

    EVERYONE AGREES ON EVS

    Future is bright in U.S. for electric car revolution
    Froma Harrop, June 22, 2010 (Providence Journal via Houston Chronicle)

    "…An all-out effort to unchain America from hydrocarbons is essential to national security, a healthy environment and economic prosperity in the 21st century. But it's not politically possible.

    "…Fortunately, there's one piece to the escape strategy that business leaders, military brass and the buying public all like — and would create jobs. Most importantly, it has bipartisan support in Congress…[That is] the "Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010." Sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the bill's goal is to electrify half of America's cars and trucks within 20 years. That, its backers say, would cut America's dependence on petroleum by a third. Similar legislation is before the House."


    click thru to follow the progress of all plug-ins

    "The Senate bill would name at least five communities to be models for electric-vehicle transportation. They would build stations where motorists could recharge their cars' batteries. Residents would be offered a $10,000 tax credit to buy electric cars. And the federal government would put $1.5 billion into research for improving electric-car technology.

    "Electric cars don't appear to be a very hard sell to those who would buy them. The first all-electric model, the Nissan Leaf, will hit the U.S. market at the end of the year…[but] the year's production is already sold out. More than two-thirds of the 19,000 preorders are from the United States…"


    click to enlarge

    "The Chevy Volt will reach showrooms around that time. Its battery range of 40 miles is considerably smaller than the Nissan Leaf's 100 miles, but the Volt has a small gasoline engine to keep the car going if a recharging station is not handy…[M]ore than 75 percent of Americans commute 40 miles or less a day. That means most of them could plug in their Volts at the end of the day and drive off fully charged in the morning…

    "Although an all-electric vehicle puts out zero emissions, that is probably not true of the plant that provides the electricity…[Many parts] of America are still highly dependent on dirty, coal-powered plants…However, electric cars cut global warming pollution even where coal supplies the power, according to a study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory… because cars plugged in overnight employ unused capacity in the current electric system…Outside of the oil business, most everyone seems enthusiastic about accelerating a move toward electric cars…"

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    PEOPLE WANT NEW ENERGY

    Poll Finds Deep Concern About Energy and Economy
    John M. Broder and Marjorie Connelly (w/Dalia Sussman and Marina Stefan), June 21, 2010 (NY Times)

    "Overwhelmingly, Americans think the nation needs a fundamental overhaul of its energy policies, and most expect alternative forms to replace oil as a major source within 25 years. Yet a majority are unwilling to pay higher gasoline prices to help develop new fuel sources.

    "…[T]he latest nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll…examines the public’s reaction to the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, highlights some of the complex political challenges the Obama administration faces. For instance, despite intense news coverage and widespread public concern about the economic and ecological damage from the gulf disaster, most Americans remain far more concerned about jobs and the nation’s overall economy…54 percent of the public say [President Obama] does not have a clear plan for creating jobs, while only 34 percent say he does…"


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    "Respondents were nearly evenly split on the president’s handling of the economy — 45 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove. His job approval rating remains just below 50 percent. And by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

    "They are also impatient with Mr. Obama’s response to the oil disaster in the gulf, by a large margin, and attribute the spill to risks taken by BP and its partners in the failed well…Gulf Coast residents, whose communities are most affected by the leak and whose livelihoods have been linked to oil for generations, are more likely than Americans over all to say they are confident that those who were affected by the spill will be fairly compensated by BP. A majority say the Obama administration has a lot or some control over whether BP will pay for the damages…"


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    "…[T]he public over all said more regulation of offshore drilling to protect the environment was needed, but respondents were also more likely to attribute the BP accident to a failure of the federal government to enforce existing rules…Large majorities disapprove of the way BP is handling the spill and have little faith in the oil industry generally to act in the public interest…

    "Yet optimism is resilient…The longer that people think the oil will continue to leak, the less likely they are to think that the region’s ecology and economy will recover. Still, even among those who think the leak will continue for another year or longer, most are optimistic…"

    NEW ENERGY NEEDS NEW FINANCING

    Clean energy startups often need alternative financing; Larger investment needs, longer road to market test ingenuity in search for capital
    Ann Meyer, June 21, 2010 (Chicago Tribune)

    "With momentum building for clean energy, Chicago entrepreneurs Elizabeth Iwanicki and Giovanni Bonomi say demand for their wind turbines is accelerating.

    "Once they seal deals with prospective customers in the U.S. and abroad, their startup, Tempest Wind Energy Inc., plans to add workers and move to a larger manufacturing facility…[But] Tempest Wind needs to raise millions of dollars to move from design to prototype, funds that are elusive at the moment…It's a challenge…[A] clean energy future…will take a lot of capital. While entrepreneurs can launch an information technology business for tens of thousands of dollars, renewable energy innovations often require millions…"


    click thru for more info on emerging financing concepts

    "Tempest Wind plans to assemble two prototypes to prove that the machines' proprietary pitch control makes the turbines more efficient, compact and quieter, Iwanicki said. The small turbines, with output ranging from 65 kilowatts to 175 kilowatts, can be transported by truck or 40-foot container to remote locations and installed without a crane. As a result, Tempest is getting interest from rural communities in Italy, the Middle East and Asia, as well as Alaska.

    "But the first step is finding the necessary capital…Tempest Wind has applied for government grants and is seeking private equity investments, Bonomi said. But competition is fierce. Venture capitalists have put about 10 percent of their investment dollars in energy-related startups during the past 12 months…But they generally want to see proof the business concept will be profitable before making an investment."


    click to enlarge

    "Nationally, the U.S. Department of Energy has provided additional funding for alternative energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Technology administers grants through the Small Business Innovation Research and the Small Business Technology Transfer programs, awarding about $2 billion a year…Startups also should look at state and local grants as well as foundation support…Strategic corporate partnerships are a sound strategy for finding the capital that a startup needs…[and because] alternative energy a hot issue, private foundations also can be a funding source…

    "A recent poll indicates 61 percent of small business owners said moving to clean energy will help restart the economy and help create jobs, according to the nonprofit Small Business Majority. In addition, 58 percent of the 800 business owners surveyed support adoption of new energy policies and want their businesses to be a part of it…"

    NEW ENERGY ON PACE

    PACE Financing for Commercial Buildings; Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing for Energy Efficiency Retrofits and Renewable Energy: Market Opportunity, GHG Reduction, and Job Creation
    Levin Nock and Clint Wheelock, 2Q 2010 (Pike Research)

    "A Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program creates voluntary tax liens on private property, to secure financing for retrofits on existing buildings for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sometimes water conservation. The liens are paid off over 5 to 20 years, usually on the property tax bills.

    "With a lien as security, financing can be secured in various ways…Each property owner in the district can voluntarily opt in to the program to receive energy upgrades on their own property…The effect of the lien on the property owner’s financial statement is to shift operational expense from energy bills to property tax bills. Some programs require this shift to be revenue-neutral or cash flow positive, while other programs allow PACE lien repayments which are larger than the expected energy cost savings…"


    click to enlarge

    "For a municipality, a PACE program is a “gift that keeps on giving” because a one-time public investment yields an ongoing benefit. In terms of the total amount of outstanding liens, the cost of running a program is roughly 1% to 2% for administration and education, plus 5% for credit enhancements such as a loan loss reserve fund or credit insurance…For a commercial program, if each large building project brings its own third party financing, then minimal public funding is needed…For third party financing, repayment can be managed in different ways…

    "As the scope of a PACE program grows, bonds can be issued more frequently. For instance, a program might launch using $20 million borrowed from a municipal reserve…The program allocates $20 million in retrofit loans during the first year, and then issues a $20 million bond to replenish the funding. As the PACE program becomes more popular in year two, the cycle of “issue $20 million in retrofit loans, then aggregate these small liens and issue $20 million in bonds” might be repeated twice or even three times…"


    click to enlarge

    "A wide variety of efficiency upgrades are cost-effective within this structure. When existing rebates and tax credits are included, renewable energy projects are also cost-effective in some states…This financial tool was developed recently, and is rapidly evolving. Most programs have concentrated on residential retrofits thus far, with a few pilot commercial programs, some of which have developed out of residential programs…

    "Opinions vary regarding the potential effectiveness of PACE in commercial energy retrofits, and the potential characteristics of successful commercial programs…The appetite of institutional retirement accounts for long-term bonds is huge…States with active PACE programs include Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, New York, and Oregon. The most activity in 2010 will be in California…Commercial property owners likely to take advantage of PACE in the next few years will be those with noticeably high energy bills, 10%+ equity, and expectations of keeping the property for a while. Because PACE programs are so new, some potential buyers and lending institutions may be wary…In regions where PACE programs are available, PACE will provide one of the best options to finance…"

    $100 MIL SUN FUND

    PG&E Corporation and SunRun Create $100 Million Home Solar Financing Fund; Agreement creates the largest residential solar fund to date
    June 21, 2010 (SunRun Inc)

    "…PG&E Corporation…and SunRun Inc., the nation’s leading provider of home solar financing… announced a $100 million tax equity project financing agreement to fund SunRun’s installation of more than 3,500 new home solar installations across the nation. The investment, principally funded by PG&E Corporation shareholders through [subsidiary] Pacific Energy Capital, creates the largest residential solar financing vehicle established to date…Pacific Energy Capital will provide financing for the rooftop energy systems and both parties will receive payments from SunRun customers. SunRun will manage the projects.

    "SunRun offers home solar power without high upfront costs through power purchase agreements (PPAs) and solar leases. Through SunRun's popular solar plans, homeowners pay as little as $0 upfront to get solar panels installed, followed by a low, monthly payment to have solar energy at home. SunRun provides complete solar maintenance, monitoring, repairs, insurance and money-back performance guarantee for all its customers, making it simple and affordable for homeowners to switch their home to clean solar electricity…"


    click thru for more info

    "The solar systems funded under the agreement are expected to be installed in 2010 and 2011 in at least five states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. SunRun currently serves more than 4,000 customers in these five states, and is growing 500% year-over-year. SunRun now partners with 15 leading solar integrators that are located across the country and that collectively employ more than 2,500 solar workers…

    "This agreement follows the recent announcement that T.J. Glauthier, the former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy, joined SunRun as an Advisor in May. It also follows on the heels of the December 2009 announcement that SunRun had raised another project finance fund with U.S. Bancorp."

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    THE TIME IS NOW

    The Time is Now’: Coalition Forms, Calls For Clean Energy Bill
    Carl Levesque, June 18, 2010 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    "…AWEA and a new coalition of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biofuels organizations…[are calling] on the U.S. Senate to quickly pass comprehensive energy legislation that the group says will create millions of American jobs and decrease reliance on foreign supplies of fossil fuels by using domestic resources that are clean and abundant.

    "The diverse and sizable coalition, which never before has come together, sent a letter to all members of the Senate as a follow-up to the President’s call to action on energy…[and] in advance of [the] meeting among Senate Democrats at which clean energy legislation was [discussed]…The coalition letter urges the Senate to move quickly with legislation promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy, and biofuels."


    click to enlarge

    "AWEA CEO Denise Bode spoke to the urgency of the matter at a press conference announcing the coalition. Discussing the political dynamics in Washington, D.C., this summer, Bode underscored that first and foremost “our hearts go out” to the people of the Gulf Coast affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which is the worst environmental disaster in the nation’s history…

    "On Capitol Hill with time waning before the August recess and elections coming shortly after, Congress appears set to tackle energy legislation now, particularly as the nation grapples with tough energy questions in the wake of the oil spill…"


    click to enlarge

    "The members of the coalition include AWEA, the Alliance to Save Energy, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Biomass Power Association, Growth Energy, the Energy Recovery Council, the Geothermal Energy Association, the National Hydropower Association, and the Solar Energy Industries Association…"

    [Denise Bode, CEO, AWEA:] “This is the opportunity to get it done…The time is now.”

    THE WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER?

    Where Gulf Spill Might Place on the Roll of Disasters
    Justin Gillis (w/Barclay Walsh), June 18, 2010 (NY Times)

    "[President Obama and senior administration officials have called the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.” …The words signal sympathy for the people of the Gulf Coast…And if this is really the worst environmental disaster, the wording seems to suggest, maybe people need to cut the government some slack for failing to get it under control right away…But is the description accurate? …[Scholars] offer an intimidating list of disasters to consider: floods caused by human negligence, the destruction of forests across the entire continent and the near-extermination of the American bison…

    "…Perhaps the worst disaster, they say, is always the one people are living through now…Still, for sheer disruption to human lives…no environmental problem in American history [matches] the calamity known as the Dust Bowl… [F]rom the Texas Panhandle to the Dakotas, poor farming practices in the early part of the 20th century stripped away the native grasses that held moisture and soil in place. A drought that began in 1930 exposed the folly…[B]y 1940 more than two million people had left the Great Plains States."


    click to enlareg

    "…[But what] exactly should be defined as an environmental disaster? How long should an event take to play out, and how many people have to be harmed before it deserves that epithet? …Among sudden events, the Johnstown Flood might be…[the] worst environmental disaster. On May 31, 1889, heavy rains caused a poorly maintained dam to burst in southwestern Pennsylvania, sending a wall of water 14 miles downriver to the town of Johnstown. About 2,200 people were killed…Perhaps a one-day flood is simply too short-term to count as an environmental disaster.

    "…[I]f events that played out over many decades are included…Perhaps the destruction of the native forests of North America, which took hundreds of years, should be counted as the nation’s largest environmental calamity. The slaughtering of millions of bison on the Great Plains might qualify…[or] the human overhaul of the Mississippi River Valley…[though they] were not seen as disasters at the time, at least by the people who carried them out. They were viewed as desirable alterations of the landscape…"


    click to enlareg

    "…Consider the Lakeview Gusher, which was almost certainly a worse oil spill, by volume, than the one continuing in the gulf…[During California’s oil rush] in the early decades of the 20th century…a well halfway between the towns of Taft and Maricopa, in Kern County, blew out…[and] continued spewing huge quantities of oil for 18 months…The ultimate volume spilled was calculated at 9 million barrels, or 378 million gallons…[T]he Deepwater Horizon spill is not yet half that size…Today, little evidence of the spill remains…because the area is desert scrubland, and few people were inconvenienced…

    "… The environmental effects of the gulf spill remain largely unknown. But the number of lives disrupted is certainly in the thousands, if not the tens of thousands; the paychecks lost in industries like fishing add up to millions; and the ultimate cost will be counted in billions…"