NewEnergyNews More: October 2010

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  • Sunday, October 31, 2010


    U.S. wind industry reports slowest quarter since 2007, as China installs three times as much wind-powered electricity; U.S. industry awaits long-term policies for renewed expansion
    October 29, 2010 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "The U.S. wind energy industry, after employing 85,000 Americans through the depth of the recession, has experienced its slowest quarter since 2007 and seeks swift action to strengthen policies that unleashed a wave of private investment in 2008 and 2009…The U.S. industry added just 395 megawatts (MW) of wind-powered electric generating capacity in the third quarter of 2010, making it the lowest quarter since 2007. Year-to-date installations stood at 1,634 MW, down 72 percent versus 2009, and the lowest level since 2006. In 2010, wind projects in the U.S. are being installed at half the rate as in Europe, and a third of the rate as in China.

    "Factors include lack of long-term U.S. energy policies, such as a Renewable Electricity Standard, and resulting lack of certainty for business, which has the country's utilities failing to move forward with wind build-out plans. Such policies are already in place in China and Europe, resulting in more than $35 billion of expected investment in 2010 –nearly four times the investment the U.S. will see this year. The industry [called] on Congress to match such efforts to establish long-term policy…"

    From AWEA - click to enlarge

    "Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and other third-party sources show that wind accounted for 39 percent of new installed capacity in 2009, versus 13 percent from coal; in the first nine months of 2010, however, the ratio flipped, and wind accounted for only 14 percent, versus 39 percent from coal…

    "Swift, short-term action to extend tax credits for renewable energy in 2009 helped boost the U.S. wind industry to historic job growth and a high of 10,010 MW in new capacity last year. With swift passage of a Renewable Electricity Standard…the wind industry can get back on track, and add new generation faster than any other source of electricity…Fossil fuels still get five times the federal support that renewables do, according to the Government Accountability Office that advises Congress…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[D]omestic content of U.S. wind turbines has steadily increased with nearly 400 facilities in the U.S. manufacturing components for wind turbines, aided by a degree of stability of the Production Tax Credit, the support of a refundable tax credit under the Recovery Act, and state requirements for renewable energy…[T]he best way to galvanize the industry now will be continued tax credits and a federal benchmark of 15 percent renewables in the national electricity mix by 2020, as sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), John Ensign (R-NV), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Susan Collins (R-ME)…

    "There are now 14 states with over 1,000 MW of wind installed, and 37 states with some utility-scale wind installed. Iowa, which got over 14 percent of its electricity from wind in 2009, is nearing 20 percent from wind…Oregon took the lead in adding the most capacity in the third quarter, the spot historically filled by Texas, where the industry now awaits investment in more electric transmission lines…Total utility-scale wind capacity installed in the U.S. through September 2010 reached 36,698 MW…Some 4,700 MW of projects have started construction in the past six months…Over 10 new requests for proposals for utility-scale wind projects were issued in the [3rd] quarter…[and at] least nine new wind projects [representing over 700 MW] signed long-term Power Purchase Agreements…"


    Home solar electric systems grow popular
    Peter Bacque, October 31, 2010 (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

    "…John Roberts has more than enough electricity for his needs… because he's installed a 2-kilowatt solar electric [photovoltaic] system…which makes electricity from sunlight…[It] cost Roberts $13,400, but he received a $3,500 federal tax credit and a $2,700 state renewable energy rebate that together reduced his expenditure to $7,200 [and he installed it himself under the direction of a licensed electrical contractor…Roberts uses only 1,400 kilowatt-hours of electricity for an entire year…

    "…[T]he sun's energy powers [Virginia] homes that consume much more electricity…Tim Dolan's Newport News house uses almost 10,000 kilowatt-hours a year…The 8.1-kilowatt solar electric system Dolan uses cost $55,000. That was offset by a $16,100 federal tax credit and $14,000 from the state's renewable energy rebate program he received, bringing his price down to $24,900…Solar power can be used to generate electricity through photovoltaic cells or to produce hot water, and Virginia has sunshine for those uses. The state estimates solar energy could produce 11,000-13,000 megawatts in Virginia."

    Virginia is joining the national trend. (click to enlarge)

    "…2-kilowatt systems are what…[solar companies] typically install… at a cost of about $15,000…[T]oo costly for widespread use in wholesale power applications…government and utility incentives for renewable energy encourage small-scale solar-electric generation, which is expected to grow rapidly over the next 25 years…Residential solar photovoltaic and hot-water systems are eligible for a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the system's total cost, with no upper limit…Interest in Virginia's solar and wind-power rebate program far outran the money available, and the state has stopped taking applications. The federal economic stimulus program gave Virginia $15 million to provide rebates of $2,000 per kilowatt, up to 10 kilowatts, for solar electric systems, and $1,000 per kilowatt-equivalent for solar thermal systems.

    "Home electricity generators can also sell credits [for about $300 each] for the energy that their systems generate…Solar renewable energy credits -- RECs -- represent the clean energy benefits of 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity from a sun-powered system. Utility companies buy the credits to meet the state's renewable energy goals…Dolan will earn about $3,000 this year from the sale of his renewable energy credits…"

    It's only going to get better. (click to enlarge)

    "Payback times for solar installations vary depending on the cost of the system and the home's location, experts said, running from as few as nine years up to 18…Simpler and less expensive, solar thermal systems are especially cost effective for heating water…Virginia has seen installed solar generating capacity soar from essentially zero in 1999 to 2.47 megawatts by September of this year…So far, however, solar energy makes up only a small part of the state's total electric production. For instance, Virginia power companies and electric cooperatives have more then 23,400 megawatts of generating capacity in the state…Of Dominion Virginia Power's 2.4 million customers…355 residential customers are using solar generation, with an average system size of 5.4 kilowatts.

    "Solar system owners can take advantage of Virginia's net-metering laws to sell excess power generation back to the owner's electric utility…Net metering allows customers generating power from a renewable resource like solar energy to interconnect with the electrical grid. Their solar energy output offsets electricity purchases from Dominion, and customer is billed monthly only for the net energy consumed…"


    Calif. Gov. Schwarzenegger Applauds Approval of Calico Solar Project in Southern California
    Valerie Gotten, 31 October 2010 (California Newswire)

    "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger applauded the California Energy Commission (CEC) decision…to approve the Calico Solar Project, the seventh solar thermal power plant licensed by the state in the past two months, totaling 3,493 megawatts (MW) of renewable solar power. The Calico Project will generate 664 MW of clean, renewable energy and create nearly 900 jobs in San Bernardino County…

    "The Calico Solar Project is a direct result of the successful partnership between California and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). In October of 2009, the Governor and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a historic memorandum of understanding…to ensure timely permitting of renewable energy projects…[It] made California the first state in the nation to work with the DOI through state and federal permitting processes. Projects, including Calico, can receive a 30 percent federal cash grant in lieu of a tax credit under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act by breaking ground or spending at least 5 percent of the projects total costs before December 31, 2010…"

    Calico will use SunCatcher technology. (click to enlarge)

    "…BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, another one of the projects jointly processed through the state and federal cooperative model [just broke ground]…The approximately $2 billion Ivanpah project is the first-of-its-kind to be built on federal land and will produce 370 MW of clean, renewable energy and create more than 1,000 jobs.

    "California has consistently led the nation in renewable energy development. The state currently has over 270 renewable energy projects, totaling approximately 70,000 MW, seeking to build and run facilities…[T]he CEC has now approved seven [of ninde pending] large-scale solar projects totaling nearly 3,500 MW in clean, renewable energy that will likely start construction in California by the end of this year…If all nine projects are approved, more than 4,300 MW of solar power…providing more than 8,000 construction jobs and more than 1,000 operational jobs [will be built]."

    Ivanpah will use solar power tower technology. (click to enlarge)

    "Additionally, there are 12 large wind and photovoltaic projects working to break ground…California is also home to the world’s largest wind energy project, the [1,550 MW] Alta Wind Energy Center….[which will create] more than 1,500 domestic manufacturing, construction and operation and maintenance jobs…[contribute] more than $600 million to the local economy in Kern County…increase the installed wind power capacity in California by 30 percent… reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 52 million metric tons, the equivalent to taking 446,000 cars off the road and result in $1.2 billion in direct local economic benefits over the life of the project…

    "Governor Schwarzenegger has a strong and proven commitment to expanding California’s clean energy development…[He] signed into law a new program [created by SB X8 34] to make it easier to conserve land for endangered species and for developers to build renewable energy projects in California…signed an Executive Order directing the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to adopt regulations increasing the state’s RPS to 33 percent by 2020…established the world’s first [Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS)]…[created the $2.9 billion] Million Solar Roofs Initiative…[which] will lead to one million solar roofs in California by the year 2018, provide 3,000 megawatts of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million tons…[and] championed and signed SB 71…exempting all clean technology manufacturing equipment from sales tax…"


    Rising coal costs will be felt in electric bills; Mining expenses and foreign demand will bring higher prices to electric bills
    Mark Jaffe, )ctober 25, 2010 (Denver Post)

    "When it comes to making electricity, nothing is cheaper than coal — but with growing foreign demand, rising mining costs and declining East Coast reserves, not even coal is going to be as cheap…[and] those prices will find their way into [Colorado] electric bills…Colorado has mandated that 30 percent of electricity from regulated utilities come from renewable energy sources by 2020, and there is a plan to replace three aging Xcel Energy coal plants with natural gas…Still, coal will be a major source of electricity in the state for decades to come…Since last October, the price for a one- month contract for Wyoming's Powder River Basin coal, a main Colorado supplier, has risen 67 percent to $13.80 a ton…[When] that coal began to be shipped east…the price ticked up…[M]ore than 1.6 million customers in Colorado…depend on coal from the Powder River Basin…

    "The price impact is dampened by long- term contracts and hedging…[but these] price pressures don't take into account the impact of possible legislation to curb man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, a so-called greenhouse gas, linked to climate change…Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of man-made carbon dioxide in the U.S., accounting for 40 percent of emissions…Climate change legislation that's now stalled in Congress could have placed up to a $17 charge on a ton of carbon emissions. Burning a ton of coal creates about 2.8 tons of carbon dioxide. What is driving prices now is the market, not legislation."

    click to enlarge

    "Since 2000, demand for coal has been growing 5 percent annually…[T]he U.S. isn't running out of coal and it will remain a low-cost fuel, analysts and industry executives say…The U.S. has the largest reserves of any country — 260 billion short tons, or 29 percent of world reserves…At current production levels, there is a 150-year supply for the nation in the Powder River Basin, said James Luppens, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's U.S. Coal Assessment…China, the No. 1 coal producer, has an estimated 40 years of reserves left…

    "…[E]ven if the price of Powder River Basin coal jumped another 20 percent to $17 a ton, it would still be less expensive than natural gas, said James Rollyson, an analyst with Raymond James & Associates…At $17 a ton, adding a $20 transportation cost to Colorado, Rollyson estimated, the cost of Powder River Basin coal would be equal to $2.39 per million BTUs, compared with the New York Mercantile Exchange spot natural gas price, which has averaged $4.45 this year…Prices will continue to climb because of deep changes in the coal market, Rollyson said."

    click to enlarge

    "The biggest change is China's shift in 2009 from a coal exporter to an importer and the growing demand from India…By 2030 China's coal consumption will quadruple and India's will double…Powder River Basin, or PRB, coal is the most-used coal in the country — about 45 percent of all consumption…Powder River Basin producers are already sending some coal to Vancouver, British Columbia, for shipment to China, South Korea and South America…

    "…Compounding the price pressures are rising costs in mining the Powder River Basin as coal seams run deeper underground…The trucks used in the Powder River Basin are now so big that the operators depend on video screens to drive and a single tire costs $25,000…A USGS study of the Powder River Basin showed the price of coal was about $7.80 a ton to mine when the ratio of overburden to the coal seam was 2 to 1…When the thickness of the overburden doubled and a new cut for a strip mine had to be made, the price rose to $17.80 a ton…"

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010


    Senators from Both Sides Agree: Time to Rev Up Wind Energy
    Jackie Savitz, October 27, 2010 (Huffington Post)

    "…Millions of Americans cannot find work. Manufacturing plants and factories are being closed and American jobs are being shipped overseas. The federal deficit just reached $1.3 trillion…We also have an unhealthy and embarrassing addiction to dirty fossil fuels which is making us sick, polluting our environment, and sending some of the money we do have overseas.

    "…[But there] is a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would stimulate development of clean energy to replace fossil fuels, and create lasting American jobs…Senators Carper, Snowe, Brown, and Collins, have introduced an important piece of legislation to provide critical financial incentives for the investment and production of offshore wind energy. This bill extends tax credits for offshore wind facilities through 2020, sending a clear signal to companies and investors that wind has continued federal support, just like the oil and gas industry has had…"

    Power where power is needed (click to enlarge)

    "Most of the problems facing America today can be solved, or at least lessened, if we make a real commitment to renewable, sustainable, clean energy, and specifically, to offshore wind…[That] would create hundreds of thousands of permanent jobs that cannot be shipped overseas… in the fields of research & development, manufacturing, construction, installation, and maintenance…Good paying, sustainable jobs right here in America…[This will] help to reduce our debt…regain our footing in the global economy and reclaim our position as makers instead of takers.

    "The world is moving on without us. As we sit paralyzed by debates about continued drilling for oil, Europe and China are leading the way in the global renewable energy market. The longer we wait, the tougher it will be to compete…Offshore wind and other renewable energy sources like land-based wind and solar can generate enough power and electricity to permanently end our oil [and fossil fuel] addiction. Offshore wind power is clean and abundant and it won't run out. It will also never pollute the environment, make us sick, or contribute to the disastrous effects of global climate change."

    The Google-backed offshore wind transmission backbone (click to enlarge)

    "…[W]e are making some strides…Secretary Salazar signed the first lease for commercial offshore wind energy, which would make Cape Wind the first wind farm on the Outer Continental Shelf. Another handful of offshore wind projects are being considered off the coasts of Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maine, and even Ohio, in Lake Erie. These projects need to… undergo full environmental reviews…[and] be sited in appropriate areas to minimize disturbance to wildlife…

    "Google recently announced it would help to finance a sub-sea cable network off America's mid-Atlantic coast, which will help offshore wind developers connect to the U.S. power grid…along the eastern seaboard from New Jersey to Virginia and will help bring offshore wind power to the population centers that need it…But we need to do a lot more…We need to send a strong signal to companies and investors that this growing industry is stable and will have continued federal support…We urge Congress to pass the Carper-Snowe-Brown-Collins bill as soon as possible…"


    Road to Recovery: What's Working - Wind Turbines
    Maggie Kerkman, October 27, 2010 (Fox News)

    "…The group of [high tech] workers assembling [a housing for a wind turbine engine] was hand-picked and trained in Germany by a German company called Nordex. These workers will soon be doing some of the training as Nordex USA expands in Jonesboro where the company plans to add up to 700 jobs in the area by 2014…Workers here couldn’t be happier. They’re getting paid an average of about $17 an hour and they’re working at a state of the art facility."

    click to enlarge

    "…Before being hired at Nordex, [Brad Scott] was out of work for a year and a half, after a Chinese company closed its factory and moved his job overseas…Now Scott’s back on the job, in one of the teams doing precision work on the generator housing."

    click to enlarge

    "The Jonesboro plant has been in the works for about two years. Nordex is one of a handful of European companies leading the charge for wind energy expansion in the U.S. One of the reasons the company picked Jonesboro was for its central location...According to Joe Brenner, Nordex USA’s VP of Production…[the company has] projects in the east and in the north and potential projects all over the country…[P]artnerships with the local [Jonesboro] university and a community college also helped assure future cooperative research and a trained workforce."

    click to enlarge

    "Nordex USA’s President and CEO, Ralf Sigrist, says wind energy is the future. Now he just has to convince the rest of the U.S. that what Europe has been doing for years is how America can fill part of its expanding energy needs. Wind energy, says Sigrist, has high upfront costs but low costs over time. To be profitable, wind energy companies sign long-term fixed rate deals. They may not be the cheapest energy right now, says Sigrist, but the deals could be very competitive over time given the price volatility of fossil fuels."


    CSP and CHP: A good fit?
    Jason Deign, 21 October 2010 (CSP Today)

    "…[With] expertise is combined heat and power (CHP) generation…the thermal fluid of a CSP [solar power] plant, when not being heated by the sun [such as when there is a temporary cloud cover], could be warmed by the jacket water and back-end exhaust heat from a CHP system set to run the turbines at part or full power…

    "…[W]hether it would be worthwhile in practice would depend on relative gas and electricity export prices of the site…[It is] traditionally cost prohibitive…Whether the payback from the electricity gained will justify the cost of integrating CHP into a CSP site is currently unknown…"

    schematic of CHP and how it is an advantage (click to enlarge)

    "Certainly, [CHP for solar power plants] is not a notion that seems to have occurred to many others. Industrial groups contacted…such as Alstom and Bechtel, were not aware of activity in this area….[and Acciona Energy, a leading builder of solar power plants, has] not carried out any research in this area…

    "… Spanish CHP industry body Cogen Spain…[has] no definite study on combining cogeneration and solar thermal…[and] has not considered starting these kinds of studies…[The idea is also new] for the Combined Heat and Power Association…[but a spokesman said it] could have benefits for both industries…"

    There is no theoretical reason CHP can't be incorporated into this solar power plant schematic (click to enlarge)

    "…[A] challenge that some analysts foresee is that in a CSP-CHP setup one of the main benefits of cogeneration—being able to provide low-temperature heat for other uses—would be lost…[because solar power plants are typically] in the middle of the desert, probably a long way from residential or commercial demand for heat…[Therefore,] some developers are now looking at industrial applications for waste solar thermal heat…

    "…[O]ne developer, at least, is excited about putting CSP and CHP together…[as]
    a micro-CSP-powered CHP unit to provide electricity and heating for single buildings…Initially producing 1-2 kWe and 4-8 kWth, rising to 3 kWe and 12 kWth in production, the Digespo units are “based on a vision of a society which will be more multi-layered…a prototype operating at 65% to 70% efficiency [is expected to be] in place at the Hilton Hotel in Malta next June. While not quite [a] utility-scale application…it may at least go some way towards raising awareness of the potential for using CHP alongside CSP."


    Ocean energy sector on the cusp of growth
    Jijo Jacob, October 20, 2010 (International Business Times)

    "The global ocean energy sector is witnessing a sharp turnaround with more than 45 wave and tidal prototypes being ocean tested in 2010 and 2011, after only a dozen were installed in 2009…[M]ore than 1.8 GW of ocean projects in 16 countries are currently in the pipeline.

    "The global ocean energy project pipeline is poised to begin scaling if these initial projects are successful, according to a new study by IHS Emerging Energy Research. The growth]… has attracted a slew of established energy companies with renewable growth ambitions, including leading European utilities and global technology suppliers — many with hydro and offshore wind experience…[Oceans] cover more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface [and] generate two types of energy: thermal energy from the sun's heat, and mechanical energy from the tides and waves."

    click to enlarge

    "All coastal areas consistently experience two high and two low tides over a period of slightly greater than 24 hours. For those tidal differences to be harnessed into electricity, the difference between high and low tides must be at least five meters, or more than 16 feet…[T]here are only about 40 sites on the Earth with [such] tidal ranges…Boosted by government and policy support, the UK is currently the world’s leading market for ocean energy, with 300 MW of projects in the pipeline…over the next five years…

    "The UK government hopes to add 1.3 GW by 2020, driven by its need to meet legally binding 2020 renewable targets. Ireland, France, Portugal, South Korea and Australia are also key ocean energy markets and will remain the industry’s primary focus for the next decade…[T]here are no tidal power plants in the United States currently. But [DOE] says conditions are good for tidal power generation in both the Pacific Northwest and the Atlantic Northeast regions…"

    click to enlarge

    "Wave power devices extract energy directly from surface waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface. There is enough energy in the ocean waves to provide up to 2 terawatts of electricity (a terawatt is equal to a trillion watts)… Wave-power rich areas of the world include the western coasts of Scotland, northern Canada, southern Africa, Australia, and the northeastern and northwestern coasts of the United States…[T]he Pacific Northwest…could produce 40–70 kilowatts (kW) per meter (3.3 feet) of western coastline. The West Coast of the United States is more than a 1,000 miles long...

    "Of the various forms of ocean energy, tidal energy is poised to mature first, with the promise of providing predictable, lower-cost electricity and a standard design…Tidal is attracting major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)…"

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010


    2010 Election Survey: tea party, independent voters differ significantly on climate and clean energy issues
    October 26, 2010 (Civil Society Institute)

    "Candidates in 2010 who assume that Tea Party supporters and Independents will respond to the same messages on climate and clean energy issues appear to be mistaken, according to a major new survey…[W]hile the views of Americans on climate science issues are now divided sharply along partisan lines, there remains strong support for "concrete" action focused on protecting clean air and clean water…Key findings include…[1] 2 percent of Americans say they are "an active member of the Tea Party movement," 23 percent support the Tea Party, 36 percent have no view about the Tea Party, and 28 percent oppose the Tea Party…

    "…[2] Independents are more than twice as likely as Tea Party supporters (62 percent versus 27 percent) to see global warming as a problem in need of a solution, compared to 39 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats. Overall, more than three out of five Americans agree that "(g)lobal warming and climate change are already a big problem and we should be leading the world in solutions," compared to about a quarter (27 percent) who think "(g)lobal warming may or may not be happening. We should let other countries act first while the science sorts itself out.""

    click thru for complete findings

    "…[3] Tea Party supporters are more than twice as likely as Independents (34 percent versus 15 percent) to see no need for leadership on global warming, compared to 29 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats. Overall, only 17 percent of Americans see no need for "national OR grassroots leadership on global warming." Another 12 percent think no federal leadership on energy policy is needed "since some grassroots officials are taking actions," compared to 61 percent who think "(w)e need leadership on energy policy from Washington, D.C., because it is a national problem that will require national solutions."

    "…[4] [Just over three out of four (76 percent) Americans think that…"(w)ater shortages and clean drinking water are real concerns. America should put the emphasis on first developing new energy sources that require the least water and have minimal water pollution." Only 13 percent agreed with this statement: "Energy supply needs should override concerns about water shortages and water pollution. America should proceed first with developing energy sources [like natural gas, coal, tar sands, nuclear and biofuels] even if they may have significant water pollution and water shortage downsides." Supporters of putting the primary emphasis on clean water include 68 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Independents, 81 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Tea Party supporters…"

    click thru for complete findings

    "…[5] Only 42 percent of Tea Party supporters, but 75 percent of Independents, agree with the following statement: "Smarter energy choices are the key to creating new jobs and a future that is healthy and safe because fossil fuels mean toxic wastes that are a threat to our health and safety." That compares to 72 percent of all respondents, 58 percent of Republicans, and 82 percent of Democrats…

    "…[6] Over half of all Americans (56 percent) – including 61 percent of Independents, but only 31 percent of Tea Party backers -- favor the use of "federal dollars to either directly support or to guarantee loans for the development of energy sources" -- if the energy in question is "renewable energy, such as wind and solar." Fewer than one in four (23 percent) would pick nuclear for such support, compared to only 5 percent for coal, and 8 percent would favor no such support being provided. Supporters of backing for renewable energy include 42 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats…"


    Vote In Northeast Oregon Gauges Love-Hate For Wind Energy Expansion
    Tom Banse, October 26, 2010 (KUOW Radio)

    "…[V]oters in northeast Oregon will test just how much support there is for wind energy in the region. A Texas company wants to build a large wind farm near Union, Oregon. Unhappy neighbors have forced the first public vote on a wind development in the West. The spirited campaigns on both sides reflect the increasing difficulty of siting alternative energy facilities – even in our supposedly “green” Northwest…

    "Earlier this year, Union County commissioners were barraged by complaints about how 164 proposed wind turbines would “industrialize” the postcard pretty Western landscape. So the county placed an unusual question on the general election ballot. It asks voters in this corner of eastern Oregon whether they support or oppose a big new wind farm called Antelope Ridge…"

    Oregon had wind AND transmission. (click to enlarge)

    "…[I]t’s turning into one of the hottest items on the November ballot here. Farmer Doug Lewis grows wheat, peppermint and organic potatoes about 5 miles away from the proposed wind farm. He’s voting in favor of it…In the distance, Lewis can see the spinning blades of the valley’s first wind farm. He disagrees with those locals who consider it a blight or a threat to property values…

    "The countywide vote on wind power is advisory only. Authority over large energy projects actually rests with state government in Oregon and Washington. In Salem, a spokeswoman for Oregon’s permitting agency says the election outcome will be treated like a public comment. The wind farm developer is not casting the fate of its project to the political winds. Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy has bankrolled a vigorous 'yes' campaign…"

    Oregon could generate more than all its electricity from wind (click to enlarge)

    "On the other hand if the winds change and people vote no, the message would also reverberate regionally and nationally. So says opposition organizer Dennis Wilkinson…

    "A senior analyst at the Northwest Power and Conservation Council doesn’t see the region bailing on wind. But Jeff King says there clearly are problems when developers move into more scenic areas or now into forestland…King says no matter what happens in Union County, he foresees wind power continuing to expand in our region, but mainly in those places where the aesthetic or ecological impacts are the smallest."


    Crossed wires: Securing CSP grid connection
    Bob Moser, 21 October 2010 (CSP Today)

    "…[T]ransmission is one of the most important aspects to making sure a project's time line keeps on track…[C]onsultants [work] to quell transmission doubts before signing that all-important lease agreement. Is access likely with major network upgrades? Are right-of-way issues resolved? Will any transmission issues crop up later due to environmental concerns? These often hidden questions can sink a CSP project if left unexplored…

    "Even with all their ducks in a row, many CSP projects may not gain grid access in the Western US because…[t]here are more than 6,000 MW of interconnection requests in the southwestern United States, but there isn't 6,000 MW of energy demand – 6,000 MW is nearly the peak load…The energy storage option is emerging as a key factor for CSP proposals…[A]dding energy storage capacity, even just a few hours, adds real value to CSP as a capacity resource…"

    click to enlarge

    "…Storing energy in liquid molten salt is currently the state of the art in low-cost energy storage…Other storage materials like ceramic chips, synthetic oils, cobblestone, gravel and materials which change phase or chemistry via temperature continue to be tested by various companies, but none have proven as cost-efficient as liquid molten salt…The biggest advantage liquid molten salt gives a CSP project today is it's unbeatable low cost, but it also has been applied in several trough and tower plants, and has gained commercial reliability and predictability…

    "The knock on steam is that it requires an expensive, thick-walled pressure vessel to house it. Even then, the amount of energy that can be stored is limited because steam takes up a lot of space per BTU. Conveying heat into solids like concrete or ceramics has been tried, but while those materials are cheap, the container they sit in and the fluid to transfer the heat jacks up the overall cost…"

    click to enlarge

    "Traditional CSP plants feature trough systems without storage. Heat transfer fluid is stored in a network of pipes that snake throughout the collector field, with no storage tanks for the Therminol oil. To add energy storage to a plant like this, developers must add salt tanks, salt pumps, salt piping, tonnes of salt and oil-to-salt exchangers…With a CSP tower plant, the inherent design already has tanks, pumps, piping and salt. Adding energy storage to a CSP plant like this would only require adding more salt inventory.

    "The difference in initial cost between a tower plant with and without storage is less than 5% of the capital cost…The cost to add salt inventory to a tower plant with the necessary equipment in place is about US$15 per Kwh, compared to the cost of US$100-120/Kwh in capital costs for adding new storage equipment to a CSP plant with nothing in place…[The therminol] energy loss is around 7% of all the energy stored - a huge efficiency loss over time. Studies are underway testing the heat storage capabilities of stone and oil combinations, but molten salt is an industrially proven technique, a key for investors…"


    Hybrid Locomotives; Technology Innovations and Demand Drivers for Diesel and All-Electric Locomotives, Genset Locomotives, and Hybrid Locomotives: Market Analysis and Forecasts
    Dave Hurst and Clint Wheelock, 4Q 2010 (Pike Research)

    "…[F]our main types of locomotives are in use today: long-line road, regional or local freight, switching (or shunter, in Europe), and passenger locomotives…This report focuses on the market for new and remanufactured vehicles.

    "Almost all locomotives used today are powered by electricity. This electricity is either generated onboard the vehicle through a diesel engine or it is provided through a connection to the electric grid (third rails or overhead lines). All-electric trains require this electrical connection, and these trains can serve both passenger and freight transport purposes. Western Europe and Japan have a high mix of electrified tracks (52% and 61%,respectively). In other parts of the world, diesel is the dominant source of electricity generation on trains."

    click to enlarge

    "Growth in hybrid locomotives faces several key challenges. In Europe, track electrification will eliminate the need for battery storage in many areas. In North America, a high-profile hybrid locomotive concept [called the Green Goat] faced a setback in the mid-2000s that still haunts the manufacturers and railroad companies today. The market for hybrid locomotives faces stiff competition from newer fuel-efficient locomotives…[and] from traditional locomotives. A new generation of locomotives has emerged in the last decade called generator set (or genset) locomotives. These switching locomotives have two or three generator diesel engines…

    "Hybrid locomotives are expected to have a strong return on investment (ROI), as a result of the ability to use low-cost batteries. Weight on locomotives is often helpful …to help increase the friction between the wheel and the track (adhesion) during acceleration. Lead acid batteries cost less, weigh more, and will be used in many of the first hybrid locomotive applications. The passenger locomotives that have less space available…are more likely to take advantage of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries’ size and storage capacity. Advanced lead acid batteries will make inroads as well. General Electric (GE) has built a plant to manufacture sodium metal halide batteries, and is showing a prototype…Nickel metal hydride (NiMH)…is unlikely to move into the locomotive space…"

    click to enlarge

    "The market for hybrid locomotives is likely to get a boost from two important forces. First, in the middle of the decade, new rules regarding diesel locomotive emissions…[that] will require substantial changes…This will help drive interest in having hybrids…Additionally, railroad infrastructure is growing rapidly in India and China. Brazil and Russia (the other two “BRIC” countries) are not seeing as rapid development of infrastructure, largely due to the cost, but they do have strong governmental support for improving their rail capacity. These countries are expected to help drive the demand for locomotives…China is expected to have strong hybrid locomotives growth…

    "Overall, hybrid locomotives will be seen over the next 3 to 5 years, mostly as demonstration and prototype projects. The sales of these vehicles will likely begin middecade in Western Europe and North America…[T]heir respective compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 17.2% and 13.5% between 2015 and 2020). China is expected to be a source for strong sales growth (a CAGR of 22.2% between 2015 and 2020)…Worldwide, Pike Research anticipates that the hybrid locomotive market will reach between 109 and 174 vehicles by 2020, for a CAGR of 19.4% to 25.4% between 2015 and 2020. This will translate into a need for storage of 116.4 MWh of energy in 2020."

    Monday, October 25, 2010


    Campaign Ads Slam Stimulus Bill Program for Renewable Energy
    October 25, 2010 (NY Times)

    "Republican and Democratic campaign leaders clashed…over the accuracy of GOP political ads attacking a stimulus bill program that gives money to renewable power companies.

    "The wind industry's biggest trade group in a letter had asked national campaign committees to cease running ads that the industry argues make false statements about the program. The spots, appearing in several states, make inaccurate criticisms about the stimulus law's section 1603 program, said Denise Bode, president and CEO of American Wind Energy Association. The effort gives grants in place of tax credits that businesses otherwise would get for alternative energy projects…Bode said…[the leverages both] foreign and domestic investment [to create U.S. jobs]…"

    From americanwindenergy via YouTube

    "…A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that as many as 40 percent of the wind farms built in the first year of the program installed turbines and other equipment manufactured overseas…[A NY Times] investigation found that 64 percent of the 50 largest projects -- representing $2.7 billion -- started construction before the stimulus bill became law. The Obama administration, AWEA and other renewable companies said the program provided essential capital…during the recession. Many of those businesses would have had to stop development, Bode said...[I]n interviews [some companies] said that they could have gone forward and carried the debt…

    "The ads are running as part of 18 House races, AWEA said. They appear in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Oregon, Michigan and Minnesota. The wind trade group said the National Republican Campaign Committee funds the ads in most states where they appear…The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee defended the program and attacked Republicans for using the program in its political ads."

    click to enlarge

    [The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:] "In an effort to distract from their support of corporate tax breaks for outsourcing American jobs, Republicans across the country have launched blatantly false attacks on Democrats…By law, 100 percent of wind projects that receive incentives through Recovery Act are built in the United States by American workers to provide power for U.S. homes and businesses…[According to the Treasury Department, which issues the grants], property which is used predominantly outside the United States does not qualify for a payment under Section 1603."

    "…Republicans cited statements by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to criticize the program. Schumer last year reacted sharply following news reports that a large portion of money under the program had gone to foreign corporations…Large wind developers and AWEA have said that when the program started there were fewer wind part manufacturers in the United States. That portion of domestically made products has grown because of the stimulus incentive, they said…Bode said that the program has been critical to protecting 85,000 wind industry jobs…"


    World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Begun by China
    Susan Kraemer, October 23, 2010 (Clean Technica)

    "China, which shot to world leadership in turbine production after passing renewable energy legislation…[and] local construction mandates in 2005, has begun building the world’s largest off-shore wind farm in Bohai Bay…[three] hours from Beijing.
    The engineering design and construction of what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm at 1,000 MW…is being undertaken by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC)...

    "…[Offshore oil and offshore wind technology] share some of the same technical and engineering issues. Stat-Oil in Norway is also investing in offshore wind development, because many of the engineering solutions found to develop offshore oil, are also applicable to the development of offshore wind, like building platforms in deep sea."

    An earlier offshore project in China under construction (click to enlarge)

    "Once complete, in 2020, the Bohai Bay wind farm…will be the largest off-shore wind farm in the world, at 1,000 MW. The current world’s largest offshore wind farm…[the Thanet project off the east coast of England] just started sending power to the grid in September from a 300 MW array of turbines in the North Sea.

    "To build the massive infrastructure needed, nearby Tianjin has received an investment of $2.2 billion from the Chinese government. The potential is for a staggering 750 Gigawatts of offshore wind power off the coast of China, more than twice the potential 330 GW off the Atlantic coast of the US, which itself would power the East Coast twice over."


    Largest Solar Plant in the World Receives Final Regulatory Approval; Solar Millennium’s 1,000 MW Blythe plant checks the final box in its permitting checklist. Still waiting on the Federal Loan Guarantee, some hefty equity investors, and then its shovel-time.
    Brett Prior, October 25, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "Solar Millennium LLC's Blythe concentrating solar project secured a Final "Record of Decision" from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approving the plant's Right of Way Grant...This is a big win for all players involved, including the following members of the CSP food chain:

    "Receiver tube manufacturer: Schott or Solel (Siemens)...Reflector/mirror manufacturer: Flabeg (headquartered in Germany)...Engineering firm: Flagsol (JV between Solar Millennium AG & Ferrostaal AG)...EPC: Kiewit (headquartered in Nebraska)..."

    click to enlarge

    "The obvious bottleneck is the Loan Guarantee program, which is effectively holding up Blythe, as well as the Tessera/Stirling projects."

    click to enlarge

    "Can the folks at the DOE make commitments in time for these projects to break ground by 12/31/10 - so that they can qualify for the 30% Treasury Grant program?
    We'll know soon enough.

    "As dry-cooled plants cost more and delivery less electricity (lower capacity factor), the estimated LCOE of this project is around $0.18/kWh. Therefore this project needs the subsidized debt from the Feds in order to provide sufficient returns to attract project and tax equity investors. Without a loan guarantee, it looks as though this project could be unfinance-able."


    Proposed Truck Standards a Milestone, but Some Savings Opportunities Left Untapped
    October 25, 2010 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    "…[T]he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation proposed the first-ever fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses. The affected vehicles, ranging from large pickup trucks to big rigs, today consume about 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, one-fifth of total transportation oil use in the U.S.

    "ACEEE applauded the agencies tackling this essential but complex task…[as a way of] saving oil and reducing emissions…[while] it will help keep down the price of goods that move by truck…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[But a] National Academy of Sciences study published earlier this year shows how long-haul tractor-trailers — the biggest diesel users — could reduce their fuel consumption by at least 35 percent by 2017, using measures that would pay for themselves in two years…

    "…[T]he proposed rule calls for no more than 20 percent savings. Trailers are not covered by the rule, even though improving trailers’ aerodynamics and tires alone could reduce fuel use by 10 percent."

    click to enlarge

    "…[ACEEE also said it does not drive] advanced technologies [from advanced transmissions to hybrid drive trains] into the market…for “vocational” trucks such as refuse trucks, delivery vans, utility trucks, and school buses…

    "Moreover, the standards should set the efficiency bar high enough that the entire industry will start using these technologies sooner rather than later…Similarly, while engine improvements anticipated later in this decade could achieve fuel savings in excess of ten percent, the proposal calls for only six percent…"

    Sunday, October 24, 2010


    China Low-Carbon Incentives Are Almost Triple Those in U.S., Study Finds
    Catherine Airlie and Alex Morales, October 18, 2010 (Bloomberg News)

    "China’s incentives to encourage low- carbon generation such as solar and wind power are almost triple those in the U.S…Measures to spur renewable energy, as well as taxes on dirtier forms of generation such as burning coal placed China above the U.S., Japan, Australia and South Korea in a six- country study and below only the U.K…

    "China, the biggest emitter, said last year it aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005 through 2020, when its target is to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources. The U.S and other countries are losing out to China in developing clean energy…"

    click thru for more info

    "China overtook the U.S. on Sept. 8 to top a quarterly index of the most attractive countries for renewable-energy projects compiled by the global accounting firm Ernst & Young. State- owned China Development Bank loaned at least $42.8 billion this year to solar manufacturers…The Asian nation had three wind turbine makers in the top 10 worldwide last year in terms of sales by megawatts…

    "…[The incentives] study said that measures to promote clean energy or tax fossil fuels, when adjusted for purchasing power in the respective countries, amount to an implicit price of carbon of $29.31 in the U.K., $14.22 in China, $5.05 in the U.S., $3.11 in Japan, $1.38 in Australia and $0.72 in South Korea…[but the] comparisons are 'imperfect' because of differing circumstances…"

    click thru for more info

    "A separate study by HSBC Holdings Plc in March found that South Korea leads the world in terms of the proportion of economic stimulus funding dedicated to measures to increase energy efficiency and slash carbon emissions, with 78 percent…

    "The figure for China was about a third, in the U.S. it was 12 percent, and in the U.K. it was 15 percent. Of $82 billion of green stimulus funds actually spent last year, China accounted for $61 billion…"


    First Wind IPO could face turbulent debut; First Wind IPO set to raise about $300 mln
    Clare Baldwin and Scott Malone (w/Matt Daily and Gary Hill), October 22, 2010 (Reuters)

    "Wind farm owner and operator First Wind Holdings Inc…which is planning a $300 million IPO this week, may be a risky bet in the current energy climate…First Wind finances, develops and operates utility-scale wind energy projects in the Northeastern and Western United States and Hawaii. Seven projects now operating [have] the capacity to generate 504 megawatts…It expects to have capacity for another 268 megawatts in operation or under construction by year-end.

    "The Boston-based company, mostly owned by private equity firm Madison Dearborn and hedge fund operator D.E. Shaw foresees rapid growth. By 2014, First Wind plans to have 1900 megawatts in operation or under construction…But wind energy is expensive and financing is complicated. As of Sept. 30, First Wind had accumulated losses of $233 million and outstanding debt of $582.2 million. It does not have enough cash or liquid short-term investments to pay the debt and acknowledged in a filing that default was a risk…Some U.S. government financing may also be suspended at the end of the year and market prices for electricity may be too low to spur growth. First Wind has never been profitable…"

    From a First Holdings filing - click thru for complete info

    "One of the company's main turbine suppliers is Clipper Windpower Plc, which diversified U.S. manufacturer United Technologies Corp agreed to buy on Oct. 20 after the Carpinteria, California-based company ran into money trouble in the face of a slowdown in U.S. wind investment…[and a 71 percent [installation drop] through the first six months of 2010…

    "First Wind…received a $117 million Department of Energy loan guarantee in July and has netted $254 million worth of grants from the U.S. Treasury since September 2009…But some U.S. government subsidies could end. Cash grants to cover a portion of the costs of project construction, paid out under the Obama administration's stimulus bill, will only apply to projects that break ground by the end of 2010."

    From a First Holdings filing - click thru for complete info

    "Furthermore, low electricity prices make it more difficult to get contracts that are needed to secure private financing to build wind farms. First Wind's average price per megawatt hour has fallen each of the past three years and is on course to do so again in 2010…Private financing for wind projects often comes in the form of [5-to-20-year power purchase agreements…whose value is…based in part on electricity prices…

    "First Wind's PPA partners include Harvard University, Southern California Public Power Authority, and the cities of Los Angeles, Burbank and Pasadena. It has PPAs or hedges on all seven of its operating projects, and, as of Sept. 30, had hedged about 90 percent of its estimated revenue through 2011…One factor driving utilities to sign PPAs with developers of wind farms and solar installations has been the adoption of standards by some U.S. states requiring their electricity suppliers to generate a certain percentage of their energy from renewable resources…The IPO is expected to sell 12 million shares for $24 to $26 each…"


    Federal Regulator Blasts Open Door to Differentiated Feed-in Tariffs in USA; FERC Decision Clears the Way for Multi-Tiered State FITs
    Paul Gipe, October 22, 2010 (Wind-Works)

    "In a ruling 21 October 2010, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) effectively cleared the way for multi-tiered feed-in tariffs for various renewable energy technologies…FERC's ruling "clarified" an earlier decision that had roiled proposed feed-in tariff policies at the state level…that order utilities to pay for a certain percentage of generation from a particular technology, in this specific case, the state of California's policy on Combined Heat and Power.

    "FERC's action should put to rest claims by feed-in tariff opponents, such as Vote Solar, that differentiated feed-in tariffs based on the cost of generation, as found in Germany, France, Switzerland and a host of other countries, are prohibited for much of the continental US…[It] casts doubt on the justification for the much-hyped Renewable Auction Mechanism proposed in California. The auction--or bidding system--is predicated on the necessity of complying with federal law. Bidding systems for developing renewable energy have been widely abandoned in Europe in favor of feed-in tariffs in part to better control costs and the pace of development."

    click to enlarge

    "…Opponents of feed-in tariffs [FiTs] had charged that the federal government "pre-empted" states from setting feed-in tariffs other than one rate based on the "avoided cost" of conventional generation. If true, states could not set tariffs that varied from one technology to another or from one application to another.

    "The 'pre-emption' claim arises from the 1978 National Energy Act in the Jimmy Carter-era and one of its provisions: PURPA (The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act). PURPA was extensively litigated in the 1980s and 1990s by utilities opposed to developing renewable energy and especially to opening their markets to independent power producers…PURPA, and the subsequent legal decisions, limits what state regulatory commissions can order utilities to pay for renewable energy to the "avoided cost", that is, the cost of generation the utility would have otherwise avoided but for the renewable generation…"

    click to enlarge

    "Proponents of feed-in tariffs have sometimes characterized them as "PURPA on steroids" because…[some] specify tariffs that are based on the cost of generation from each technology in each of several different sizes and sometimes in different applications…Feed-in tariff advocates had speculated that PURPA may permit states to order utilities to buy generation from specified renewable technologies and, thus, the "avoided cost" is the renewable generation that the utility would have "avoided" purchasing itself. However, until FERC's order clarifying its July 15th 2010 decision in the CPUC case, such an approach was mere conjecture.

    "The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) had gone to FERC to clarify the earlier decision and ask FERC specifically how to meet federal requirements…Though expressed in the awkward legal language of the federal bureaucracy… the order says, in effect, is that states can order utilities to buy a certain amount of renewable energy from each of several specific technologies. Thus, [with] a feed-in tariff program under this ruling…the amount of generation will also have to be specified….[Both California’s FIT Coalition and its Solar Energy Industries Association consider the ruling a victory]…"


    U.K. Axes Tidal-Power Plan, Saying Wind Energy Cheaper
    Reed Landberg and Louise Downing (w/Todd White), October 18, 2010 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    "The U.K. government shelved plans for a tidal-power plant at the Severn estuary that could have supplied as much as 5 percent of the nation’s power using the argument that nuclear and wind energy represent better value. The project might have cost more than 30 billion pounds ($48 billion) to harness tidal energy, making it too expensive and 'very challenging' to secure financing from private companies…

    "The decision, along with separate moves to spur nuclear power, mark out the government’s strategy to replace a quarter of the nation’s electric power stations by 2020. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is seeking to balance efforts that will limit carbon emissions with tighter limits on spending… [All areas of] spending are under review."

    click to enlarge

    "…[The government] listed eight possible sites for new nuclear plants and said the U.K. taxpayer may share certain financial risks as Electricite de France SA, Centrica Plc., E.ON AG and RWE AG plan to build reactors. EDF and Centrica’s British Energy unit are planning to build four atomic plants in the country, the first one to be ready by 2018…

    "The government today said it plans to keep the Severn tidal option open for future consideration though it won’t review the decision before 2015, when the next election is due…The five proposals for a tidal project across the Severn River where it meets the sea include three options for dams, or barrages, and two tidal-lagoon designs. They were studied for their economic and environmental impacts in a feasibility study during the past year."

    click to enlarge

    "The project might reduce bird populations in as many as 30 species and cause local extinctions and population collapses of certain fish, including Atlantic salmon, according to the study…The Cardiff-Weston barrage, the largest project considered, provided the lowest cost of energy…[but] was also found to have the greatest environmental impact. Combinations of smaller projects don’t offer cost or energy yield advantages…Two project proposals, a lagoon and a barrage option, were found to be unfeasible…

    "Industry lobby groups RenewableUK and the Renewable Energy Association said that the decision to abandon the project was “disappointing,” referring to a more conservative cost estimate in the study of 23 billion pounds…The Renewable Energy Association…said that a smaller barrage at a different location…would be a “sensible” route forward. Then, the impacts could be fully monitored and understood, and procedures to mitigate environmental damage could be developed and applied to a project across the Severn…Earlier this year industry and government officials identified nine possible proposals for tidal energy…"

    Thursday, October 21, 2010


    3TIER Releases U.S. Solar Performance Maps; Maps Dispel Perceptions that Solar Energy is Consistent From Year to Year.
    7 October 2010 (World of Photovoltaics)

    "3TIER®…released maps illustrating how solar irradiance varied from its normal monthly averages across the U.S. from June through August, 2010. The maps dispel a popular perception that solar energy is relatively consistent from year to year and underscore the need for thorough resource assessments prior to investing in solar projects. Variances in solar irradiance, which are caused by short-term weather anomalies, have a significant impact on the long-term economic viability of both distributed and utility-scale solar power development…

    "…[for June:] The North Atlantic High delivered unusually high solar irradiance to the eastern seaboard and southeastern states – it was the hottest June on record in Delaware, New Jersey and North Carolina. Meanwhile, an upper-level trough over the northwestern quarter of the country depressed irradiance in the Pacific Northwest and upper Midwest. Record-breaking precipitation was recorded in Michigan and near record-breaking rainfall was experienced in Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska."

    click thru for more maps and info

    "…[for July:] As the North Atlantic High continued to drive high irradiance values along the East Coast, Hurricane Alex and Tropical Storm Bonnie reduced irradiance and temperatures in Texas and the Midwest. Coastal California had a persistent marine layer all month resulting in below average irradiance."

    click thru for more maps and info

    "…[for August:] Solar irradiance and temperatures remained above average in much of the country. However, in the Southeast higher temperatures combined with higher than average atmospheric water vapor content produced unusually high cloudiness and rainfall, pushing irradiance below its monthly mean. Likewise, parts of Montana experienced above average rainfall and cloudiness, while solar irradiance along the California Coast remained below normal due to persistent morning fog…"

    [Kenneth Westrick, founder/CEO, 3TIER:] “Solar power development in the U.S. is driven more by government incentives than production potential right now…However, as the industry matures and policy becomes more performance-oriented, projects will be more rigorously scrutinized for their long-term energy production potential. 3TIER offers a full suite of products that enable that today.”


    Investor Statement Opposing California Proposition 23
    October 2010 (Ceres)

    "We are 68 investors collectively managing over $415 billion in assets, writing to urge California voters to oppose Proposition 23, the statewide ballot initiative to stop implementation of the state’s landmark clean energy law, AB32.

    "As investors, we need certainty about the policies that govern the sectors in which we invest so that we can make strategic, profitable investments over the long term. AB32, which sets an economy–wide limit on greenhouse gas pollution and promotes clean energy development, provides us with this certainty…[T]he development of clean technologies [is] one of the state’s few growth industries in recent years and, we believe, one of the most promising global growth industries…

    click thru for more info

    "…[P]olicy certainty, however, would be eliminated if Proposition 23 passes, because it would eliminate the clear market signals investors need to safely invest…This would cause California to lose billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs to competitors like China, Japan, Germany, or other U.S. states that have more stable commitments to clean energy policy. It would also increase California’s dependence on fossil fuels while increasing air pollution that contributes to asthma and other public health impacts…

    [On Job Growth:] "If Proposition 23 passes, California would lose thousands of jobs to other nations and states. More than half a million Californians are already employed in clean tech jobs, including more than 93,000 in manufacturing and 68,000 in construction. In an extremely difficult economy during which the state has lost 1% of its jobs, clean technology has been one of California’s key growth industries, increasing jobs at a rate of 5% from 2007 to 2008…Other studies show that California green jobs have grown 10 times faster than the statewide average…"

    click thru for more info

    [On Private Investment:] "Nine billion dollars have been invested in the development of clean technology in California since enactment of AB32 in 2006…Without AB32, billions of dollars in additional investment would be lost to other states and nations."

    [On Energy Price Savings and Stability:] "Through its energy efficiency measures, AB32 lowers electricity costs by lowering energy demand, saving money for consumers and the state of California. Studies show that by spending less money on energy, California could increase the Gross State Product by about $76 billion…AB32 also lowers the price of clean energy by encouraging investments that will increase the clean energy supply. This ensures that we lock in lower prices for fossil fuel alternatives now, keeping energy prices stable over the long-term. Prop. 23 would inhibit this price saving and stability while increasing our use of dirty fuels whose costs are expected to rise over time…"

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010


    West Virginia offers 18GW geothermal potential, study says
    James Cartledge, October 19, 2010 (Brighter Energy)

    "Researchers at Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Laboratory believe underground temperatures in West Virginia are significantly higher than previously thought…[and the] state could…[support] commercial geothermal energy production…

    "Experts believe geothermal power projects could mean a renewable source of baseload power – electricity supplies available day or night – for West Virginia…They have estimated the potential for 18,890 megawatts of power could be available, even taking a conservative 2% thermal recovery rate. The total would surpass West Virginia’s 16,350MW portfolio of coal-fired generating capacity."

    Heat verified by wells and hot springs (click to enlarge)

    "The estimate marks a 75% increase on previous estimates, in a 2006 study from MIT…High temperature zones were found in the eastern portion of the state, where temperatures above 300 degrees fahrenheit are believed to be located at depths of 15,000 feet below ground level…The research is based on detailed mapping of temperature data from the oil and gas industry, as part of ongoing work to update a [2004] Geothermal Map of North America…

    "The geothermal experts also point to newer geothermal power generation technologies, which can make use of lower temperature geothermal resources, as holding potential to develop power projects in West Virginia…[They say there is also] potential in the state for projects generating geothermal energy at oil and gas wells, and for Enhanced Geothermal Systems where underground geothermal reservoirs can be created by injecting high pressure fluids into suitable rock formations."

    Heat discovered by drilling at various depths (click to enlarge)

    "The next step for the research is to look at specific target sites in more detail, while the researchers are also looking to shed light on geothermal resources in other states."

    [David Blackwell, Hamilton Professor of Geophysics/Director, SMU Geothermal Laboratory:] “We now know that two zones of Appalachian age structures are hot – West Virginia and a large zone covering the intersection of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana known as the Ouachita Mountain region. Right now we don’t have the data to fill in the area in between, but it’s possible we could see similar results over an even larger area.”


    Solar Power 'More Popular Than Puppy Dogs, Ice Cream'
    October 19, 2010 (GetSolar)

    "Almost 95 percent of Americans believe that developing and employing solar power should be a priority for the country - regardless of their political leanings and affiliations.

    "…49 percent of Americans are considering - and are willing to pay more for - solar energy in the next year. These findings, along with other encouraging results, come from the latest Schott Solar Barometer…"

    click to enlarge

    "The survey was conducted by the independent firm Kelton Research, and…presented just before the Solar Power International trade show…"

    Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association: "…According to this poll, solar energy is more popular than puppy dogs or ice cream. It is time for policymakers to listen to their constituents and enact measures to rapidly increase our use of solar."

    click to enlarge

    "Other findings…[are] that 4 out of 5 Americans want the federal government to redistribute oil and fossil fuel subsidies towards clean power sources like solar, and that 51 percent would choose to work with solar power if they joined the renewable energy industry.

    "…[There is] reason to take the survey with a grain of salt - since it asked about intentions and attitudes, rather than actions…"


    Global Ocean Energy Prospects Boosted by Established Hydro and Wind Players
    October 19, 2010 (Emerging Energy Research)

    "The global ocean energy sector is at a turning point, with over 45 wave and tidal prototypes expected to be ocean tested in 2010 and 2011, after only a dozen were installed in 2009, according to a new IHS Emerging Energy Research market study. If these initial projects are successful, the global ocean energy project pipeline is poised to begin scaling. IHS estimates that more than 1.8 GW of ocean projects in 16 countries are currently in the pipeline.

    "The ocean energy industry's recent development has attracted a slew of established energy companies with renewable growth ambitions, including leading European utilities and global technology suppliers--many with hydro and offshore wind experience…"

    click to enlarge

    "Boosted by government and policy support, the U.K. is currently the world's leading market for ocean energy, with 300 MW of projects in the pipeline seeking to be installed over the next five years. The U.K. government hopes to add 1.3 GW by 2020, driven by its need to meet legally binding 2020 renewable targets. Ireland, France, Portugal, South Korea and Australia are also key ocean energy markets and will remain the industry's primary focus for the next decade…"

    click to enlarge

    "Of the various forms of ocean energy, tidal energy is poised to mature first, with the promise of providing predictable, lower-cost electricity and a standard design. Tidal is attracting major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) into the ocean energy industry's supply side…Greater involvement by large OEMs will help the ocean energy industry overcome its technological challenges and drive down costs.

    "Several key players active in Europe's scaling offshore wind industry, are also turning their attention to ocean energy as they scale their renewable portfolios. Major European utilities led by Iberdrola-ScottishPower, Vattenfall, RWE and SSE have an extensive presence in offshore wind, and each has broadened its offshore activities to include ocean energy. While a few have taken equity stakes in ocean technology promoters, most are now shifting to fund project development joint ventures…"


    EPA regional administrator recommends historic veto of Spruce Mine permit
    Ken Ward Jr, October 15, 2010 (Charleston Gazette)

    "… The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator, Shawn Garvin, has recommended that his agency veto the Clean Water Act permit for the controversial Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, W.Va.

    "…Garvin’s recommendation concludes ‘…discharges of dredged and/or fill material to Pigeonroost Branch and Oldhouse Branch for the purpose of constructing the Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine as currently authorized … would likely have unacceptable adverse effects on wildlife …valley fills and sedimentation ponds and other discharges into Pigeonroost Branch and Oldhouse Branch…will bury approximately 6.6 miles of high quality headwater streams…[likely resulting] in effects to downstream waters and downstream wildlife…[and contributing] to conditions that would support blooms of algae that release toxins that kill fish and other aquatic life…’"

    click to enlarge

    "The regional EPA administrator also concluded ‘… Because construction of the Spruce No. 1 Mine and 11 additional mining operations would increase the percent of the sub-basin that is impacted by mining activity, it can be expected that these water quality effects will likely be exacerbated…[and] contribute to the significant cumulative loss of aquatic resources and degradation of water quality…"

    The mine would be nearly as big as the City of Pittsburgh (click to enlarge)

    "…EPA said ‘…It is important to emphasize that this is only one step in the process—EPA has not reached a final decision on this project. EPA’s next step will be to reach out to the mining company, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and West Virginia State officials to engage in discussions…EPA’s Office of Water will issue a final decision after a thorough review of the Regional Administrator’s recommendation, the science, the 50,000 public comments received and careful consideration of our discussions with the State, Corps and Company…later this Fall.

    "EPA released Garvin’s recommended decision publicly and filed a copy of it in federal court in Huntington, asking U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers to extend for another 120 days — until Feb. 22 — the judge’s order suspending litigation…This is just another step in the process of EPA’s trying to either block this permit or perhaps push the company to find a way to further reduce its potential impacts…"