NewEnergyNews More: December 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, December 22, 2010

    NEW ENERGY FOR UTAH

    Study: Renewables Can Meet Utah's Future Energy Needs
    21 December 2010 (Solar Industry)

    "Solar and wind energy can be the mainstays of Utah's electricity system, according to…Utah: A Renewable Energy Roadmap…[It] uses local wind and solar energy data to show how renewables, along with effective energy-storage technologies and energy-efficiency measures, can safely, reliably and affordably provide the majority of the state's electricity needs by the middle of this century…

    "The report also concludes that PacifiCorp, which supplies about four-fifths of Utah's electricity, is on the right track by focusing new generation on wind and natural-gas combined cycle plants. But it strongly recommends that Utah pursue compressed air energy-storage to make the wind energy available when it is needed."


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    "Other key findings and recommendations…[1] The lowest-cost way to a clean electricity sector with low carbon dioxide emissions is to use Utah's plentiful renewable energy sources with compressed air storage, supplemented by natural gas…[2] Nuclear power is far riskier financially than renewables and natural gas…

    "…[3] Renewable scenarios analyzed in the study will use 15 billion to 20 billion gallons of water per year less than continued reliance on coal. Even more water will be saved when compared to a mix of nuclear energy and coal with carbon capture and storage…"


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    "…[4] Implementing a distributed grid in conjunction with large-scale commercial renewable generation will likely be more cost-effective than a purely centralized approach because extremely large standby and storage capacity is needed to accommodate long periods with low wind and solar supply.

    "The report also recommends development of an intelligent electricity grid system and the implementation of aggressive building and appliance standards to increase efficiency."

    DOE BACKS $1.45 BIL AZ SOLAR POWER PLANT

    DOE finalizes Abengoa $1.45 billion loan guarantee
    Sarah Mcbride (w/Gerald E. McCormick), December 21, 2010 (Reuters)

    "A unit of Spanish conglomerate Abengoa SA…got the final sign-off on the U.S. Department of Energy's largest renewable-energy loan to date, a $1.45 billion loan guarantee for a 250-megawatt solar thermal power plant in Gila Bend, Arizona…[To build] renewable energy resources and [lessen] dependence on fossil fuels…regulators have [this year] approved several large-scale renewable energy plants in the Southwest, but many of them haven't yet lined up financing.

    "With the loan guarantee…Abengoa Solar Inc will be able to start construction on its Gila Bend plant, which at 250 megawatts will be big enough to power at least 75,000 homes."


    Schematic of parabolic trough technology with tracking capacity (click to enlarge

    "The size of Abengoa's DOE loan guarantee tops [a conditional loan guarantee for $1.37 billion] awarded to BrightSource Energy…to support its 370 megawatt Ivanpah plant in California."

    Schematic of parabolic trough technology with storage capacity (click to enlarge

    "Abengoa's Solana plant will use parabolic trough technology, meaning arrays of mirrors will collect energy from the sun and use it to heat fluid. The fluid will power steam generators that produce electricity. The plant will store electricity using a molten-salt technology.

    "The project should generate some 1,600 to 1,700 construction jobs, and about 80 operational jobs upon completion…Arizona Public Service utility unit will purchase Solana's output…Abengoa also has a 250-megawatt parabolic-trough plant under development in California…"

    HOW TO FIND NEW ENERGY TRAINING

    CEC Launches Renewable Energy Training Courses Web Directory
    21 December 2010 (North American Windpower)

    "The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has launched a tri-national Web-based directory, listing over 100 renewable energy training courses. The new Web directory presents a list of courses offered in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. for training in the wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, bioenergy, hydrogen and fuel-cell industries.

    "…[A June 2010] report, commissioned by the CEC, analyzed the state of renewable energy training in North America, identified opportunities for improvement and made recommendations from a North American perspective."


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    "The report found that a tri-national collaborative system could help build and share best practices between Canada, Mexico and the U.S."

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    "The CEC report also shows that of 235 courses identified, 83% are located in the U.S., 14% in Canada and only 3% in Mexico. Regional challenges identified include green markets not yet sufficiently established for academic institutions to offer resources, as well as a lack of qualified trainers.

    "Institutions providing green training identified in the report are predominantly colleges and universities (65%), followed by private companies (20%) and then associations related to renewable energy or trade unions (almost 10%)."

    HAWAII TO PUMP 300 MW STORAGE

    300 MW Energy-Storage Project Planned For Hawaii
    16 December 2010 (Renew Grid)

    "Gridflex Energy LLC, a developer of bulk energy-storage projects for renewable energy, has proposed a pumped-storage hydroelectric project that would use the ocean as the lower of two reservoirs. The 300 MW project, called the Lanai Pumped Storage Project, is intended to provide the Hawaiian electric grid with a way to absorb a planned 400 MW of wind power on a grid that only has about 1,200 MW of peak demand."

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    "For most pumped-storage projects, two reservoirs are constructed. During times when energy is in lower demand, wind energy can be used to pump water uphill. When power is needed during high-demand periods, the water is released through turbines. The Lanai Pumped Storage Project would use the ocean as its lower reservoir. Design features would be put into place to ensure a watertight upper reservoir, corrosion resistance for equipment and protection of marine organisms, Gridflex explains…"

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    CAPE WIND PRICE CONTROVERSY

    Wanted: Buyer for controversial Cape Wind energy
    Jay Lindsay, December 19, 2010 (AP via Washington Post)

    "Cape Wind has outlasted a decade of government review, a slew of court brawls and fierce opposition from mariners, fishermen, Indian tribes and Kennedys just to win the right to sell its wind-fueled electricity…Now, all it needs are customers.

    "Last month, the nation's first offshore wind farm nailed down its first buyer when the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved a deal that sees Cape Wind selling half its power to National Grid, the state's largest electric utility…[T]he other half of the Cape Wind project's electricity remains available with no obvious takers, raising the possibility of a smaller project with pricier power."


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    "The top prospect for Cape Wind is the state's second-largest electric utility, NStar. But Nstar…says it can find cheaper renewable power [for its customers] elsewhere…Price is always an issue with offshore wind, which costs more partly because it's expensive to build and maintain massive turbines at sea. The 468-megawatt Cape Wind, which is expected to produce enough power for 200,000 homes in average winds, is estimated to cost at least $2 billion to construct…In its 15-year deal, National Grid agreed to pay 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour for Cape Wind power beginning in 2013, with a 3.5 percent annual increase. The starting price is twice what National Grid pays today for power from fossil fuels, and regulators say the contract will add about 1.7 percent to its residential customers' bills.

    "Though its price is higher, Cape Wind has big selling points, including a large generating capacity…[and] the green electricity needed to fill state renewable power mandates [in 2012] years before any other U.S. offshore project…Without other takers, Cape Wind would almost certainly have to build fewer than its proposed 130 turbines…[and then] the price goes up per lost turbine, to a maximum 19.3 cents per kilowatt hour."


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    "…[T]his month, developer Deepwater Wind announced plans for a 200-turbine, 1,000 megawatt project (1 gigawatt) off Rhode Island…Deepwater has said the project's large size will help lower the price of its power…[estimated at] the "mid teens" in cents per kilowatt hour…Sue Reid of the Conservation Law Foundation, a Cape Wind advocate, estimates Cape Wind has six months to a year to find new buyers or face the disappointing prospect of building a smaller project. But she's certain that buyers, including perhaps NStar, will want to be part of a new and badly needed clean energy industry [and not be on the wrong side of history]…

    "Cape Wind has been assailed since it was proposed in 2001…[O]pponents promptly sued the Obama administration after it approved the project…[S]tate utility regulators wrote that Cape Wind's power price is ‘expensive’ but cited numerous benefits that make Cape Wind ‘cost effective,’ including about 160 permanent jobs and a stable price that acts as a hedge against volatile fossil fuel prices…[and] said regional utilities simply won't be able to meet requirements to increase renewable energy sources without Cape Wind and the offshore industry it will kick off…Without NStar, Cape Wind could conceivably cobble together buyers from around the Northeast, including utilities, power suppliers, even the government. But NStar is the best prospective customer…"

    THE TOO-HIGH COST OF “CLEAN” COAL

    Cost blowout hits clean coal vision
    Jamie Walker, December 20, 2010 (The Australian)

    "Australia's hopes to lead the world in generating "clean" electricity from coal have taken a hammering…A massive cost blowout forced the Queensland government to scrap [the ZeroGen] prototype power plant that was to be in action by 2015…[which] means carbon capture technology to trap greenhouse gases produced from coal-fired plants will not be in use for a decade at least.

    "While Premier Anna Bligh said yesterday the $192 million invested in ZeroGen had not been wasted, and the state and federal governments remained committed to developing clean coal processes, she admitted this was not yet economically viable."


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    "A feasibility study on the ZeroGen proposal to capture carbon dioxide emissions and store them underground found the cost would have burst through the $4.3 billion budget [possibly by more than half again] and driven up power prices to unaffordable levels. The state government [said it] would not… fund an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power station incorporating carbon capture and storage…[because] it is not yet economically viable…"

    [Queensland Premier Anna Bligh:] "Frankly, it would drive up the cost of electricity beyond the reach of normal people."

    Even if they build the plant, there are other questions when they get to storage. (click to enlarge)

    "ZeroGen was the most advanced of four ‘flagship’ projects funded jointly by the federal government, the states and the coal industry to produce clean electricity from a station integrated with carbon capture and storage.

    "Construction of a fully-fledged 530 megawatt power station, with 90 per cent emission capture, was to have begun in 2012 under the fast-tracked timeline…[and] was to have been in operation by 2015, making it the first in the world…"

    TURNING THE STATES TOWARD EFFICIENCY

    Reaching the Tipping Point: Majority of States Have Now Adopted Energy Efficiency Resource Standards
    December 21, 2010 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    "While the prospect of passing a comprehensive national energy policy remains uncertain for the 112th Congress, two states reminded the country last week that bold energy efficiency policies, which will save consumers and businesses millions in wasted energy costs, can win bipartisan support.

    "On December 10, Arkansas became the first state in the Southeast to adopt a comprehensive set of policies on utility energy efficiency programs, including an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). Four days later in Wisconsin, the Joint Committee on Finance approved recommendations set in an Order given by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to increase funding to Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency provider, and set performance goals that will function as an EERS. An EERS requires electricity and natural gas providers to meet annual energy savings goals by providing energy efficiency program services…"


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    "Max Neubauer, ACEEE Research Associate and author of an energy efficiency potential study for Arkansas:] “The orders given by the Arkansas Public Service Commission signify a break from the commonly voiced doctrine in the Southeast that any expense on utility bills is a bane of business and economic growth. In fact, it is quite the opposite with regards to energy efficiency. It costs far less to save a kWh than to generate one, so energy efficiency encourages economic growth by creating a robust, sustainable energy market that offers new business opportunities, generates jobs, saves consumers money, and curbs the strain on our environment.”

    "The Arkansas targets are moderate, rising from an annual reduction of 0.25% of total electric kilowatt-hour (kWh) sales to 0.75% of total electric kWh sales over the next three years (and slightly less for natural gas sales), but require a high level of verification to ensure that utility companies are fairly rewarded, and that consumers get solid cost benefits."


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    "The Wisconsin electricity goals, as a percent of peak load and electric sales, amount to 0.75% in 2011, ramping up to 1.5% in 2014. The PSCW also approved natural gas goals of 0.5% in 2011, ramping up to 1% in 2013.

    "Twenty-six states now have an EERS, accounting for 65% of the country’s electricity demand. The policies currently on the books will provide electricity savings equal to 6% of nationwide retail sales by 2020…"

    THE POWER FROM RECYCLING

    Waste-to-Energy Technology Markets; Thermal and Biological Processes for Electricity and Heat Generation from Municipal Solid Waste: Market Analysis and Forecasts
    Philippe Tob and Clint Wheelock, 4Q 2010 (Pike Research)

    "...The gigantic amounts of waste that are hauled to dumps and accumulate in heaps and open pits have grown to become a major environmental issue. Landfilling is still the world's most widely used method for managing and treating waste. This [unsustainable] practice has detrimental effects on the environment: land occupation, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, groundwater pollution, odor, and aesthetics…[W]here landfilling is impractical…incineration is the preferred method…[I]ndustrialized countries have adopted regulations to divert waste from landfills through recycling, treatment, and materials and energy recovery. In addition, economic conditions and regulated markets have stimulated the use of waste as a resource and a source of energy.

    "Waste-to-energy (WTE) encompasses methods by which to extract the valuable energy entrapped in waste for the production of electricity and heat. Waste collected in cities contains a large amount of biological and renewable materials. It is therefore a source of renewable energy. As a consequence, energy-from-waste contributes to energy security and diversification, and matches the growing demand for renewable energy in a carbon constrained world…Policies, regulations, and changing economic conditions are driving the growth of WTE capacity worldwide, creating attractive business opportunities for providers of WTE technologies and related components. Combustion is the dominant technology and is entrenched in the market. Yet, advanced thermal treatment (ATT) technologies such as plasma arc gasification are emerging in the market. Moreover, biological technologies for treating waste offer an attractive alternative to thermal treating methods."


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    "Today, more than 900 thermal WTE plants operate around the globe. These plants treat an estimated 0.2 billion tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) with an estimated output of 130 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity…The definition of MSW of the International Energy Agency (IEA): Waste in WTE is MSW where MSW is described as household waste and commercial and industrial waste that has a composition similar to the composition of household waste…Pike Research does not consider the extraction of energy from decaying waste in landfill and the harnessing of landfill gas (LFG) in this report…

    "Pike Research has focused the scope of this study on the thermal and biological treatment methods that yield energy in the form of heat and electricity. As such, waste-to-fuel applications, such as purified biogas for injection in natural gas grids, are excluded. Thermal methods include combustion, gasification, and pyrolysis. Biological treatment is limited to anaerobic digestion…"


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    "In 2010, the world population will produce an estimated 1.7 billion tons of MSW. More than 1 billion tons will end up in landfills; while close to 0.2 billion tons will fuel thermal WTE plants….Only a few countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany, are nearing the decoupling of waste and GDP…Policies, regulations, and rules have had a fundamental impact on the evolution and structure of the WTE market…Mass burn, or as-received combustion, dominates the WTE market. The market share of mass burn and refuse derived fuel (RDF) combustion is 98% globally, which dwarfs the share of other thermal and biological treatment technologies…

    "According to Pike Research estimates, the global market for thermal and biological WTE technologies will reach $3.7 billion in 2010 and grow to $13.6 billion in 2016. Asia Pacific will contribute the largest portion of the growth, which will take off in 2012. The market in this region will likely grow to $6.6 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31%. Market conditions in Western Europe – saturated, slow, or halted – will depend on the country. Certain countries could achieve the decoupling of waste generation and GDP and decrease the amounts of waste that emerge in the WTE market. Pike Research therefore anticipates erratic growth in Western Europe. The Western European market will grow from an estimated $1.7 billion in 2010 to $3.2 billion in 2016 at a CAGR of 11%. The U.S. market, which was dormant for over 15 years, shows a revival of activity. Favorable economic conditions for thermal WTE activity could spur market growth. As such, the U.S. market could grow at a very high CAGR of 40% and attain $1.2 billion in 2016."

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    HUGE CALIF SOLAR POWER APPROVED

    Palen Solar Power Project Achieves License from California Energy Commission; Construction of Solar Trust of America’s 500 MW Facility Will Create 1,100 Local Jobs
    December 15, 2010 (Solar Trust)

    "Solar Trust of America, LLC…subsidiary, Solar Millennium, LLC, has secured a final decision from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for its 500 Megawatt (MW) Palen Solar Power Project…Located in Riverside County, California, the Palen Solar Power Project facility will house two power plants each generating 250 MW of nominal capacity. Together these plants will provide enough electricity to power up to 150,000 homes each year…

    "…[The project will] advance the State’s renewable energy goals… and provide an annual economic impact of approximately $270 million during the construction period…"


    The Palen solar power plant will use Solar Millenium's trough technology (click to enlarge)

    "Construction is expected to create approximately 1,100 direct jobs in Southern California, thousands of indirect supply chain jobs in related industries throughout the United States, and 130 long-term operational and maintenance jobs at the facility itself once it is completed.

    "The Palen Solar Power Project is expected to remove approximately one-half megaton of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which will provide a substantial environmental benefit. It will also employ dry-cooling technology which will enable it to use approximately 90 percent less water than comparable wet-cooled facilities…"


    The Solar Millenium solar power plant technology can incorporate energy storage (click to enlarge)

    "For the Palen Solar Power Project, Solar Millennium, LLC has also applied to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a 5,200 -acre Right-of Way (ROW)…where Solar Trust of America is constructing the 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project, the world’s largest solar thermal power plant. Pending BLM’s decision on the ROW Grant Application, expected in Spring 2011, the Palen project will add to Solar Trust of America’s California portfolio of approved solar thermal projects totaling 1,500 MW…

    "Solar thermal power plants generate electricity by converting solar radiation into heat energy. In a parabolic trough power plant, trough-shaped mirrors concentrate the solar radiation onto a pipe in the focal line of the collector. Its absorption heats a fluid medium in the pipe, and generates steam in the power block through a heat exchanger. As in conventional power plants, the steam powers a turbine to generate electricity. By integrating thermal storage, electricity can be supplied on demand, even after sunset…"

    IOWA BUYS ARKANSAS TURBINES

    Nordex USA wins 41 MW order for Iowa wind farm
    15 December 2010 (Nordex)

    "Nordex USA announced…an order with wind farm developer RPM Access for a 41 Megawatt wind farm in Delaware County Iowa…Nordex’ new manufacturing plant in Jonesboro, Arkansas will produce the turbines. The contract includes a 10-year premium service contract, as well as the delivery, installation, commissioning and testing of 17 Nordex N100 turbines.

    "The Elk Wind Farm is Nordex’ first project with RPM Access, and represents the second order Nordex has received since dedicating its plant in October. The project strengthens a growing local workforce in Arkansas that has reached over 70 new hires already, with the potential of increasing to 700 over the next four years, in accordance with the market…"


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    "Elk Wind is a construction-ready project slated for completion in October 2011. RPM Access will own and operate the wind farm, and Central Iowa Power Cooperative will purchase the power via a 20-year power purchase agreement. Based in West Des Moines, RPM Access has initiated the development of six operating wind projects in Iowa, representing 370 Megawatts, over the past 10 years and has a robust project pipeline…"

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    "Iowa is the second largest generator of wind energy in the US, producing nearly 20% of its electricity from wind with over 3,500 Megawatts installed. Iowa has been able to significantly reorder its energy portfolio by way of forward-thinking public policies, including a requirement that utilities offer the opportunity to purchase green energy to their customers.

    "Nordex has both completed and planned installations in several states, including Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland, Colorado and now Iowa. Currently, Nordex’ largest US order to date – 150 Megawatts/60 turbines – is being installed at BP Wind Energy’s Cedar Creek wind farm in Colorado."

    WHAT 1603 WILL DO FOR NEW ENERGY

    Analyzing The Tax Bill's Implications On Solar Project Finance
    Keith Martin, 14 December 2010 (Solar Today)

    "The bill language…includes a one-year extension in the deadline to start construction of new renewable energy projects to qualify for U.S.Treasury cash grants. The grants are 30% of the project cost…The bill also would allow a 100% depreciation bonus on new equipment placed in service after Sept. 8, 2010, through the end of next year. However, the bonus could be claimed only if the taxpayer was not committed on or before 2008 under a binding contract to invest in the project. The bonus is a timing benefit. Instead of depreciating a project over the normal depreciation period, the entire cost could be deducted in the year the project goes into service.

    "The cash grant…[changes] dates in the existing program…[and is not] a tax-refund program. Owners of new renewable energy projects that are completed in 2009, 2010 or 2011, or that start construction in those three years and are completed by a deadline, would qualify for cash grants…The deadlines to complete construction will not change. They remain the end of 2012 for wind farms, 2016 for solar and fuel cell projects and 2013 for other renewables."


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    "Because of the way the cash-grant extension is drafted, developers that complete projects in 2011 would not have to worry about whether their projects started construction before 2009. This relieves a concern that some geothermal developers have that might have started construction of projects before 2009 but will not complete them until after 2010…

    "…The 100% depreciation bonus is equivalent to an additional 5.2% investment tax credit on a wind farm or solar project - if a developer can use it. Many developers are expected to have a hard time converting the bonus into cash in the tax-equity market. Some developers are also concerned that the bonus could reduce overall tax capacity in the market."


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    "A number of other provisions in the bill will affect the project finance market…[1]The measure opens the door to place additional facilities for making "refined coal" in service and qualify for 10 years of tax credits on the output…Facilities put into service by December 2011 would now qualify for tax credits…[2] The bill would extend income and excise tax credits for ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel and alternative fuels at the existing rates, and the tariff on ethanol imports at the U.S. border at the existing level, through December 2011…

    "…[3] Projects on Native American reservations would qualify for faster depreciation…three-year instead of five-year depreciation for wind farms and solar projects…[if] completed by December 2011…[4] The bill would authorize another $3.5 billion in additional ‘new markets tax credits’ in 2010 and 2011 each as an inducement to make loans or equity investments in projects in census tracts with lower-than-average family incomes or with poverty rates of at least 20%…[5] The bill would give utilities more time through December 2011 to shed transmission assets to independent transmission companies or regional transmission organizations and spread the tax on any gain over eight years."

    NEW ENERGY IN THE NEW SOUTH

    Report: Policies to Spur Renewable Energy Can Lower Energy Costs
    December 19, 2010 (Media Newswire)

    "The South could pay less for its electricity in 20 years than is currently projected if strong public policies are enacted to spur renewable energy production and use, according to a report released today by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University…Renewable Energy in the South builds on a short policy brief released last summer and provides an in-depth assessment of the scope of renewable energy resources in the South and their economic impacts on electricity rates and utility bills in the region.

    "Skeptics of renewable energy production often cite the South as lacking renewable resources. However, the new report confirms that the right mix of public policies could drive the region to produce as much as 30 percent—up from less than 4 percent—of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Wind, biomass, hydro power and customer-owned renewables stand out as cost savers and are detailed for both utility-scale and customer-owned renewable, based on their cost-competitiveness."


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    [Etan Gumerman, Duke University, co-lead researcher:] “While the South enjoys some of the lowest electricity rates in the country, there is resistance to developing new technologies that seem much more costly than coal based electricity…In reality, that’s not the case.”

    "…[R]esearchers found that if supportive policies and tax incentives are implemented or extended, total regional energy costs would be 7 percent less by 2030 than they are projected to be if policies do not change. If no new policies are adopted, the EIA predicts the average electricity rates in the South will rise from the current 7.9 cents to 9.7 cents per kilowatt hour in 2030 – a 23 percent increase. The study finds that with a mix of policies designed to promote renewable energy, rates would rise to only 9 cents per kilowatt hour in 2030, saving electricity users in the region $23 billion a year."

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    "The report examines the economic impact of a number of renewable energy policies, including expanded research funding and tax incentives…and the enactment of a national Renewable Electricity Standard ( RES ). In addition to considering the potential for large-scale energy producers to generate renewable energy, the report finds that end-users, such as households equipped with solar panels and industry with the ability to recycle waste heat, could generate a significant amount of the South’s renewable electricity."

    [Dr. Marilyn Brown, Georgia Institute of Technology, co-lead author:] “This study takes a unique approach by considering both traditional, utility-scale renewable power production as well as renewable systems owned by consumers…Our analysis shows that renewable energy could be a real economic boon to the Southern states, but only if elected officials, and consumers, take action to unlock the region’s renewable energy potential.”

    CHINA COMING FOR U.S. WIND

    China’s Push Into Wind Worries U.S. Industry
    Tom Zeller, Jr., and Keith Bradsher, December 16, 2010 (NY Times)

    "…Goldwind and other Chinese-owned companies plan a big push into the American wind power market in coming months…[P]roponents say the Chinese manufacturers should be welcomed as an engine for creating more green jobs and speeding the adoption of renewable energy in this country…[O]thers see a threat to workers and profits in the still-embryonic American wind industry…[so] Goldwind is putting a distinctly American face on its efforts…[and] highlighting plans to do more than simply import low-cost equipment from China…

    "…[T]he Chinese industry is coming to a world leader in wind energy capacity…[The U.S. capacity is] roughly 41 gigawatts…Only China itself, which recently passed American output, generates more wind power — 43 gigawatts…spread over a population more than four times…the [U.S.] population…[T]he tepid United States economy, rock-bottom natural gas prices and lingering questions about federal wind energy policy have stalled the American wind industry, which currently represents only about 85,000 jobs…[D]im market prospects [might] await…the Chinese companies…[but] they have big backing from China’s government in the form of low-interest loans and other blandishments [and can be patient]…"


    The intention is to increase the percent of locally sourced equipment as the market expands. (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he United States wind energy industry is by no means an all-American business. After G.E., the current market leaders in this country are Vestas of Denmark, Siemens of Germany, Mitsubishi of Japan and Suzlon of India. None of the governments of those countries, though, are suspected of unfairly favoring their home industries and discriminating against foreign competitors…[while] the Obama administration is investigating whether the Chinese may have violated World Trade Organization rules in subsidizing its clean-energy industry.

    "…[Goldwind] is the fledgling American arm of a state-owned Chinese company that has emerged as the world’s fifth-largest turbine maker: the Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology Company…[which] raised nearly $1 billion in an initial public stock offering in Hong Kong in October — on top of a $6 billion low-interest loan agreement in May from the government-owned China Development Bank…Goldwind… set up a sales office in Chicago…[and hired] Americans already experienced in the wind energy field…"


    Don't miss the asterisked items at the bottom of the list. (click to enlarge)

    "…[L]ate last year…a Chinese energy conglomerate, A-Power Energy Generation Systems, joined an American investment firm and a Texas developer, Cielo Wind Power, to announce plans for a $1.5 billion wind farm, using 240 to 300 turbines, in West Texas…Critics argued that the project — which was eligible for about $450 million in federal stimulus funding set aside by the Obama administration for renewable energy projects — would support thousands of manufacturing jobs in China, while creating only a few hundred less valuable construction and maintenance jobs in the United States…[They] brokered a deal…with the United Steelworkers union…to ensure that major components for the planned Texas wind farm — including the towers, some enclosures for the turbine and the giant turbine blades — would be supplied from the United States…[and it would use] as much as 50,000 tons of steel from American mills…[China-made] turbines…sell for an average of $600,000 a megawatt, compared with $800,000 or more for Western models made from Chinese parts, and even higher prices for European and American machines. Yet, Western banks have been leery of lending wind farms money to buy the Chinese equipment because of concerns about its reliability…But with the American wind industry in the doldrums, there are few other big investments pending…

    "Proponents of the Chinese push say the availability of inexpensive turbines from China — and ample customer financing from its state-owned banks — could help put wind energy back on a growth track by making it more affordable for American utilities and developers… [M]uch of the manufacturing for American wind energy is [already] done offshore…Even G.E. now buys gearboxes from China…[A]bout 50 percent of a typical wind turbine being erected today in the United States is imported…But with the Chinese market starting to level off even though Chinese factory capacity keeps surging, Goldwind and other Chinese companies will still have a powerful financial incentive to avoid idling new assembly lines in China. And labor is much cheaper in China — $300 a month for blue-collar workers and $500 a month for engineers. Workers and engineers in the United States could expect to make at least 10 times as much…Nonetheless, Goldwind’s team [and some U.S. observers see] room for American jobs…"

    NEW ILLINOIS WIND

    Developers to Build Two New Wind Projects in Illinois
    December 17, 2010 (Illinois Wind Energy Association)

    "Two new wind farms will be built in Illinois over the coming year thanks to a renewable energy procurement event completed…by the Illinois Power Agency (IPA). These new projects will create hundreds of jobs in construction and maintenance during the next 18 months, as well as provide valuable new landowner payments and property taxes to their host communities for years to come.

    "The competitive energy procurement awarded 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) to several renewable energy facilities in Illinois and surrounding states, including the two new wind farms in Illinois…under Illinois' Renewable Energy Standard (RES) law, which requires the state's electric utilities to procure five percent of their power from renewables this year, and 25 percent by 2025…"


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    "Under the [two new] contracts…Chicago-based Invenergy LLC commits to construct its proposed Bishop Hill II Wind Farm…while the partnership of Goldwind USA and Mainstream Renewable Power will build the Shady Oaks project…All projects will be operational and delivering power to Illinois utilities ComEd and Ameren by June 2012…

    "Illinois ratepayers are protected under the new contracts. By law, the Agency must hold competitive solicitations for renewable energy and select only the lowest-cost sources. The law also states that renewables cannot cause electric rates to increase more than one-half of one percent, ensuring Illinois consumers and businesses are protected from rate spikes."


    click to enlarge

    "The IPA awarded contracts to a total of twelve wind and solar projects in Illinois and surrounding states, though most of the contracts went to existing facilities currently selling power without a PPA.

    "The solicitation was the first of its type under the Illinois RES. Previous procurements have only sought renewable energy credits (or RECs) but IWEA and other renewable energy advocates urged the Agency to seek full PPAs for power and RECs in the 2010 procurement. In the current economic climate, wind developers almost always need a signed PPA in order to secure financing for a new project…IWEA strongly urges the IPA to hold more bundled procurement events in the future, as bundled PPAs are the best way to facilitate more wind development and job-creation."

    FEDS APPROVE POWER LINE PAY PLAN

    U.S. Backs Plan to Divvy Up Power-Line Costs
    Naureen S. Malik, December 16, 2010 (Wall Street Journal)

    "Federal regulators Thursday cleared a plan to spread the costs of new interstate, high-voltage power lines to utility rate payers in several Midwestern and Western U.S. states, even if the electricity bypasses most of those customers.

    "The approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, comes as power companies, states and the federal government wrestle with the challenge of upgrading the nation's aging power grid and connecting solar and wind generation with distant urban centers."


    click to enlarge

    "Divvying up the costs of new lines has proven contentious, with some state regulators arguing residents shouldn't have to shoulder additional costs if a new power line bypasses them or is planned hundreds of miles away. That opposition has sunk or stalled several projects…

    "The plan approved by FERC calls for the costs of new interstate transmission lines to be divided among 13 states from Montana to Ohio. The share paid by rate payers in each state would vary, depending on the amount of generation capacity in the state…The more power plants a state has, the greater the cost its consumers would shoulder. Michigan, in particular, has opposed the plan, contending the cost of new power lines would outweigh the benefits to its residents."


    click to enlarge

    "This Midwest cost-sharing strategy could serve as a template for how transmission costs will be shared in other regions. FERC is in the process of developing nationwide rules that are expected to be released in spring of 2011…[It] was developed by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, or MISO, which operates the region's power grid and market. The agency had been tying the cost of a project to the area where it would run. But that approach drew opposition as more wind projects clustered in rural areas…[S]everal transmission projects have been stalled, including the Brookings line to move power from wind farms in South Dakota to Minnesota…

    "The elimination of barriers to developing new transmission lines should help advance [proposed] projects…[and] help jump-start wind-power development in places such as Buffalo Ridge, an elevated strip of prairie stretching from South Dakota into Minnesota and Iowa…[T]ransmission developers for each project still need to win approval for the actual paths of the lines, which can be thorny."

    CALIF TO R-A-M NEW ENERGY

    California approves reverse auction renewable energy market
    December 16, 2010 (Reuters)

    "The California Public Utilities Commission…approved a unique reverse auction market [RAM] to let renewable energy developers bid on small-scale projects under a program that would generate up to 1,000 megawatts for the state’s three big investor-owned utilities and further spur the solar industry…

    "The [auction] idea is to avoid problems with so-called feed-in-tariffs [FiTs] that set rates artificially high for renewable energy production. In Spain, for example, high rates spurred a solar building boom that was followed by a crash when a cap on renewable energy production was reached and rates fell."


    The Gap (click to enlarge)

    "Under the [auction] plan approved by California regulators, the onus would be on developers to calculate the cost of their projects and then offer a bid high enough to generate a profit yet low enough to beat out competitors. The 1,000 megawatts to be developed [enough to power about 750,000 homes] would be split between Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric…

    "Dubbed a reverse action mechanism [RAM] by the utilities commission, the program applies to renewable energy projects that generate up to 20 megawatts of electricity. The hope is to encourage development of small-scale solar power plants that can be built relatively fast and plugged into the grid without major – and expensive – transmission upgrades…"


    The R-A-M may fill The Gap without creating the market bubble the FiT is thought to risk. (click to enlarge)

    "Developers must complete their projects within 18 months and deploy commercially proven technology…

    "Adam Browning, executive director of The Vote Solar Initiative, a non-profit San Francisco advocacy group, said the new program fills a gap in California’s renewable energy program…[because while California] offers incentives for homeowners and businesses to install solar systems that generate up to 1.5 megawatts and utilities have signed contracts with developers to build big projects that will produce hundreds of megawatts each. Lost in the middle were [projects [between 1.5 megawatts and 20 megawatts]…"

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    KANSAS UTIL BUILDING WIRES, BUYS WIND

    Westar Energy to Expand Wind Energy Portfolio; New Agreements to More Than Double Westar's Wind Energy
    December 14, 2010 (Westar via MarketWire)

    "…Westar Energy and two wind development companies have reached tentative agreements for Westar to purchase [369 megawatts of wind energy-generated] electricity produced by them at Kansas wind farms to be developed. On Nov. 10, Westar filed with the Kansas Corporation Commission for approval of the purchase agreements…

    "Westar is entering into a contract to purchase 201 MW of energy from the Post Rock Wind Farm to be developed by Wind Capital Group…The project plans to use General Electric 1.5 MW wind turbines. A contract with Duke Energy Generation Services will be for about 168 MW of wind energy produced at the Ironwood Wind Power Project site…already owned by Westar, but which Westar made available to developers. The current contract accounts for about one-third of Ironwood's 500 MW potential. The project plans to use Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines which will be supplied by the recently opened Siemens nacelle facility in Hutchinson…"


    Kansas is affluent with wind assets. (click to enlarge)

    "The wind projects will be constructed and operated by the wind developers with Westar agreeing to purchase 100 percent of the electricity they generate through long-term agreements. Both projects are scheduled to begin construction in 2011 and be in service by the end of 2012. The first 200 MW of wind resources contemplated in the agreements will satisfy Westar's renewable energy needs through 2015. With the additional 169 MW, Westar will be well on its way to meeting the 15 percent renewable energy requirement that becomes effective in 2016.

    "Westar Energy owns 149 MW of wind generating capacity at its Central Plains and Flat Ridge Wind Farms and has previous power purchase agreements for 146 MW of wind energy. Westar Energy also purchases about 6 MW of electricity produced using landfill gas through an agreement with Waste Management Inc. from a Topeka landfill."


    The Prairie Wind Transmission system will be able to unify wind resources across the state and exchange wind power with Oklahoma, making wind less variable. (click to enlarge)

    "In 2009, Kansas passed a renewable energy standard that requires investor-owned utilities to commit to renewable energy equal to 10 percent of their average summer peak. The renewable energy standard increases to 15 percent in 2016 and 20 percent in 2020. Under the law, Westar Energy's 10 percent requirement is about 500 MW.

    "Wind energy development historically has been limited because of transmission constraints. Westar Energy is a leader in Kansas, working [on a multiyear expansion of] transmission infrastructure needed to support the development of wind energy…[I]n the past year, Westar placed into service more than 90 miles of new high-voltage transmission between Wichita and Salina and is building a new high-voltage line from Rose Hill to the Oklahoma state line by mid-2012. In addition, Westar Energy is a 50 percent owner of…[Prairie Wind Transmission LLC’s] 345 kilovolt line that will connect a substation near Wichita to a new substation northeast of Medicine Lodge and extend south to Oklahoma…[and has committed] to build several new transmission projects over the next decade…[as approved by] the Southwest Power Pool…"

    IS NAT GAS FRACKING SAFE?

    New York’s Ban On Gas Fracking: Time For Drillers To Shoulder The Burden Of Proof
    Christopher Helman, December 13, 2010 (Forbes)

    "New York Gov. David Paterson…signed a bill that will ban natural gas drillers from using the practice known as hydraulic fracking when developing fields in the gas rich Marcellus Shale. Environmentalists are happy at the ban. Energy companies are happy that the ban wasn’t for longer… [Though] the fears over the effects of fracking are far overblown, the U.S. has plenty of natural gas that does not happen to lay beneath the water shed of our most populous city. Natural gas is cheap and plentiful right now–so this is a fine time to stop…[and] sort out the implications of fracking.

    "…[C]itizens in Texas and Pennsylvania say it’s responsible for polluting their groundwater…[F]racking–the injection of millions of gallons of water and sand with a smattering of chemicals–has been in use for decades. In the case of the Marcellus shale, where gas is trapped in tight rock formations, fracking is the only known way of fracturing the rock to allow the gas to escape. If done right, in a wellbore that is properly completed and cemented to prevent any gas from leaking out… the practice is virtually guaranteed not to pollute groundwater. In the Marcellus Shale the gas zone is thousands of feet deeper than the water aquifers–and the rock in between famous for its impermeability–fracking fluids will not naturally migrate that far up…"


    click to enlarge

    "The Environmental Protection Agency is studying the issue. The New York ban comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by the EPA that wells drilled and fracked by Range Resources in the Barnett Shale of northern Texas had contributed to the pollution of water aquifers. Range Resources says the aquifer pollution wasn’t caused by work on their wells at all but by natural influx of shallower gas up into the water…

    "…[H] ere’s the thing–the concerns of regulators can’t be dismissed just because of their politics. The concerns of homeowners can’t be dismissed just because it’s so unlikely that fracking polluted their water. If the gas drillers want to put this debate to rest and get on with developing America’s monumental gas resources, they are going to have to figure out how to make everyone…satisfied that the practice is acceptable."


    click to enlarge

    "…[C]ompanies, like Halliburton, that lead the market for fracking, need to publicly reveal all the chemical components that go into the stuff and give the rationale for why they are used. The companies, like Range Resources and Chesapeake Energy, that are drilling the Marcellus and other shale formations, need to talk with regulators and agree to industry-wide minimum standards covering the drilling, completion and fracking of wells.

    "Now is the time to do it. Gas prices are low and the nation has more than enough supply to meet our 27 trillion cubic feet of annual demand. Drillers don’t much care about the New York ban because they have plenty of other places to develop–and in many areas of the Marcellus, Barnett and Haynesville shales they’re being forced to drill just to hold onto their acreage. They wouldn’t mind at all if the ban helps push up gas prices on the margin. If adding precautions and oversight adds to the costs and worsens the economics of gas drilling, so be it. All costs get passed on to the consumer anyways. Including the cost of peace of mind."

    HAWAII’S GEOTHERMAL

    Hot Stuff: Magma at Shallow Depth Under Hawaii
    December 13, 2010 (Science Daily)

    "Ohio State University researchers have found a new way to gauge the depth of the magma chamber that forms the Hawaiian Island volcanic chain, and determined that the magma lies much closer to the surface than previously thought…The finding could help scientists predict when Hawaiian volcanoes are going to erupt. It also suggests that Hawaii holds great potential for thermal energy.

    "…For her honors thesis, [Julie Ditkof, an undergraduate in earth sciences at Ohio State,] took a technique that her advisor Michael Barton, professor of earth sciences, developed to study magma in Iceland, and applied it to Hawaii…"


    Hawaii is at the heart of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where geothermal energy is omnipresent. (click to enlarge)

    "…[Ditkof] discovered that magma lies an average of 3 to 4 kilometers (about 1.9 to 2.5 miles) beneath the surface of Hawaii…a [more] shallow depth [than] anywhere else in the world…Barton determined that magma chambers beneath Iceland lie at an average depth of 20 kilometers.

    "While that means the crust beneath Hawaii is much thinner than the crust beneath Iceland, Hawaiians have nothing to fear…The crust doesn't get consumed by the magma chamber…[but] floats on top…"


    There has so far been very little geothermal development in Hawaii. (click to enlarge)

    "…[Barton] and Ditkof determined that there is one large magma chamber just beneath the entire island chain that feeds the Hawaiian volcanoes through many different conduits…Researchers could use this…to regularly monitor pressures inside the chamber and make more precise estimates of when eruptions are going to occur…[but,] ultimately, the finding might be more important in terms of energy."

    [Barton”] "Hawaii has huge geothermal resources that haven't been tapped fully…[though you would] have to drill some test bore holes. That's dangerous on an active volcano, because then the lava could flow down and wipe out your drilling rig."

    SOLAR POWER PLANTS TO DO OR DIE

    Will 2011 close the chapter on large-scale CSP? Andy Skumanich, CEO and founder of Solar Vision consulting, explains why CSP is unlikely to emerge victorious from the battle of the solar technologies.
    Rikki Stancich, 3 December 2010 (CSP Today)

    [Andy Skumanich, CEO/founder, Solar Vision consultants:] "I think it is do or die time, a turning point; now is the time that CSP needs to demonstrate its viability in the US…[Investors and financiers] want proof, there is a fear factor, and they do not want to be funding huge projects where they don’t have a strong confidence…Some of them are just outright off CSP – and CPV…PV is going so fast that it really is…taking over…"

    [Andy Skumanich, CEO/founder, Solar Vision consultants:] "I can’t over-emphasize how 2011 is the year of execution…[It] is the time to really demonstrate the commercial viability of CSP…or the capital markets will start to walk away…I would say there is a window of perhaps a year, where the projects that are in the pipeline are showing real progress, real functionality, meeting the cost targets…Brightsource and Solar Reserve are doing a good job of this…"

    And for the investor? (click to enlarge)

    [Andy Skumanich, CEO/founder, Solar Vision consultants:] "…[CSP] is behind the curve with PV…[It must] demonstrate its value, and that value is storage and hybridization. The problem is that PV and battery combinations are really nipping on CSP’s heels, because there are now battery solutions that are on the order of roughly $3/watt - NGK in Japan may have a battery solution that is $3/watt…$6/watt, which places you at the low-cost side of CSP…[T]here are now two paths to the solar energy storage solution…The market is brutal. It will take which ever option is cheaper, and which ever technology has the right functionality. CSP needs higher DNI, higher light requirements. It has higher operations and maintenance costs. Likely, it would likely be the PV battery arrangement that wins out."

    [Andy Skumanich, CEO/founder, Solar Vision consultants:] "…[There may be] cost efficiency of achieving economies of scale with CSP, but when you start getting to scale, you can also run into big problems. Labor considerations, permitting and multiple jurisdictions can become more complicated…[A] modular micro grid approach to CSP - like Sopogy’s – is a great one…There is a hidden market of micro grid installations. They are nominally off grid, but they are really more micro or island grid arrangements because there is not the infrastructure in places like India that can support a full grid connection…The concept is similar to a cell phone tower model, instead of putting up landlines for the network, you can put up cell towers, and you are able to achieve the phone coverage. In this case you have ruralised electrification that is done with 1-2MW CSP configurations…[but] you are talking about villages and the government can’t just throw in lots of micro grids."

    A middle ground for micro-grids? (click to enlarge)

    [Andy Skumanich, CEO/founder, Solar Vision consultants:] "We have done some analysis looking at micro grid opportunities around the world. India, parts of Africa, former Soviet Republic countries, and a large part of South America all have a real opportunity for this micro-grid market. Our estimates are roughly in the order of a GW/year – the PV market this year is in the order of 15 GW, so with micro CSP grids so you are talking almost a 10%…[M]icro CSP developers could really tap into this market. In these areas you can’t put in large scale CSP, for which you need a high level of O&M and where there are high initial costs, so [large-scale CSP developers] would miss that market altogether…[But] the PV-battery solution is the simplest, so in this respect CSP is still not a front runner for this important developing market."

    [Andy Skumanich, CEO/founder, Solar Vision consultants:] "…[We will begin to see] product differentiation…CSP becomes one of a type of products for niche segments of the market… [like] PV panels….optimized for Germany…[and those] optimized for Morrocco…for California, and so on…You would have macro product differentiation, where CSP starts getting relegated to Spain or places that have infrastructure, capital and a market that will accept it, but it won’t have a broad implementation. So it won’t go away, but it may start getting marginalized."

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    CLEAN ENERGY STANDARD RUMBLINGS

    Bingaman cracks open door to backing ‘clean’ energy standard
    Ben Geman, December 13, 2010 (The Hill)

    "A leading Democrat on energy policy signaled… he’s open to a “clean” energy standard [CES] for utilities — a GOP-backed proposal that’s favorable to new nuclear plants and low-emissions coal projects.

    "Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has long championed a renewable electricity standard [RES] that would require utilities to supply escalating amounts of power from sources like wind and solar…Bingaman said…he’d look at a wider standard that includes non-renewable forms of energy — but only if it doesn’t crowd out the renewables…"


    click to enlarge

    "Bingaman has long opposed proposals for a 'clean' standard, which were offered several years ago by former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) — who was the energy panel’s leading Republican — and more recently Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

    "Proposals by Bingaman and other lawmakers to create a renewable power standard have stalled on Capitol Hill amid significant GOP resistance, although a few Republicans such as Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) like the idea…Prospects won't get any better in the new Congress, when Republicans will control the House and have greater numbers in the Democratic Senate."


    click to enlarge

    "The idea of a 'clean' standard that would credit power from nuclear plants, and coal projects that sequester carbon emissions (a technology not yet commercialized), got a shot in the arm last week…[when] Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested talks with Congress on the idea now that wider emissions-capping legislation has collapsed on Capitol Hill, and Graham said he plans to revive his proposal."

    [Senator Bingaman (D-NM):] “If you can design a so-called clean energy standard that still provided incentives to pursue renewable electricity ... then it is certainly worth looking at…The versions I have seen in the past have appeared to me to essentially wipe out any real incentive for things like solar and wind, other of the developing or maturing technologies…I am open to looking at other options, other ways to do it.”

    SENATE KEEPS NEW ENERGY GRANTS A YEAR

    Will the Tax Bill Be Good for Renewable Energy?
    Bryan Walsh, December 13, 2010 (Time)

    "Amid all the political agony over the tax compromise [approved to go forward by an 83-15 vote in the Senate] …[there are] a few provisions…that will impact the alternative energy industry [including]…

    "An extension of the 50 cent per gallon tax credit for liquid coal transportation fuels, provided in Sections 6426 and 6427 of the federal tax code…[which] environmentalists are against, vociferously—liquid coal can…[produce] twice as much carbon pollution as convention fuels… [The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) calls it] a fundamentally flawed technology…"


    The good news is that the Senate's bill keeps 1603 for a year. (click to enlarge)

    "A one-year extension of the tax credit for corn ethanol of 45 cents per gallon, plus a tariff on imported ethanol of 54 cents per gallon. Most—though not all—environmental groups are against the extension of more tax credits for the corn ethanol industry, which has been given billion in subsidies over the year…

    "A one-year extension of the Convertible Renewable Tax incentive for renewable electricity projects, also known as Section 1603. The program was part of the 2009 stimulus package, and gave renewable electricity projects like wind and solar a cash grant in lieu of tax credits. Before the financial crisis, renewable projects were often funded by tax equity—a solar producer might strike a deal, for example, with a bank, which could write off some of its tax bill in exchange for contributing to renewable power. But with the crash, suddenly there was a lot less tax that needed to be paid, and the cash grant program helped save the industry…The economy hasn't improved much, and many players in the wind and solar industries say that without the credit's extension, new developments could implode next year…"


    The next questions are (1) how much will be lost because the program will ONLY be extended for a year and (2) when will the politicians show some long term vision? (click to enlarge)

    "The bill also aims to extend a tax credit for energy efficiency in new homes that expired in 2009, making it apply retroactively to 2010 and through 2011. There's also more credits for manufacturers of energy-efficient appliances…

    "…[Because] critically needed clean energy incentives [benefits are]…outweighed by the harm that would result from the ethanol and liquid coal incentives…NRDC is therefore opposing the bill…For most in the renewable energy industries, however, the need to keep investment credits and subsidies flowing is reason enough to support the bill. The solar and wind industries in particular have argued that losing the tax credits could result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs [and thousands of megawatts of new solar and wind capacity], and prevent the growth of some 65,000 jobs…"

    LA’S SUN-POWERED PORT

    Port of Los Angeles Completes One Megawatt Solar Project on Rooftop of World Cruise Center; Larger Than a Football Field, Thousands of Panels Will Increase Energy Capacity and Reduce 22,800 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide
    December 9, 2010 (Port of Los Angeles)

    "The Port of Los Angeles has completed its World Cruise Center solar rooftop project, a 71,500 square foot, one megawatt system capable of generating approximately 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) energy grid.

    "The solar photovoltaic installation, which is expected to result in an annual $200,000 energy cost savings, is the first phase of a multi-location solar power program that will eventually produce 10 megawatts of solar system generation capacity. The $10.8 million project includes a total of 1.16 million square feet of rooftop solar panels, larger than the size of a football field. Three additional project phases are slated for completion over the next five years…"


    The "Love Boat" waiting room gets solar panels. (click to enlarge)

    "Over the solar system's lifetime, it will reduce roughly 22,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of cutting the annual greenhouse gases of 4,367 cars…"

    A close-up of the panels (click to enlarge)

    "The system is comprised of 5,140, 210-watt solar modules. It was installed by the Energy Alternatives Division of San Jose-based Cupertino Electric Inc. The roof-mounted system, which collects and converts solar radiation to electrical energy, features high-efficiency crystalline modules and utilizes a self-ballasted racking system that does not penetrate the terminal’s existing roof. Electricity generated is then routed back to the LADWP through an existing electric meter at the World Cruise Center facility…Home of the original “Love Boat” in the 1970s, the…solar panel project is part of a $42 million upgrade at the World Cruise Center…

    "…Alternative Maritime Power (AMP), currently used at some container ship terminals, will soon be available so that cruise ships can ‘plug in’ to shoreside electrical power instead of running on diesel power while at berth. Depending on the size of the ship, estimates are that AMP will reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by one ton (2,000 pounds) and reduce 85 percent of sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions out of the air each day a ship is at berth and plugged in…"

    SUNRISE FOR SUNRISE WIRES

    Schwarzenegger praises Sunrise Powerlink transmission line groundbreaking
    Tiffany Hsu, December 9, 2010 (LA Times)

    "The Sunrise Powerlink transmission line finally broke ground…as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and more than 100 protesters looked on…Wind turbines spun lazily in the background as Schwarzenegger told the crowd that the project did his ego proud.

    "By helping to link distant wind, solar and geothermal plants to Southern California communities, Sunrise Powerlink was helping California ‘beat the Chinese’ in the alternative energy game, he said…[The project] has spent more than five years struggling through permitting and legal challenges."


    The new transamission will deliver sunpower from California's deserts to the growing San Diego metropolis. (click to enlarge)

    "…[I]n a nod to the gathered protesters, he acknowledged that energy conservation was also important, as are efforts to promote distributed solar projects that would blanket warehouse rooftops with panels…Existing power lines, however, are [antiquated and inadequate]…"

    [Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:] “I have fought and fought and fought for this…You could have all the renewable energy in the world. But if you don’t have the transmission lines, you have nothing...You have to think about the economic growth, the jobs, the impact [Sunrise Powerlink] will have on the dependence on foreign oil…”

    EPA REGS TO END 50,000 MW OF COAL

    Brattle Study Estimates EPA Regulations May Result in Over 50,000 MW of Coal Plant Retirements and Up to $180 Billion in Compliance Costs
    December 8, 2010 (The Brattle Group)

    "A new study by The Brattle Group finds that emerging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on air quality and water for coal-fired power plants could result in over 50,000 MW of coal plant retirements and require an investment of up to $180 billion for remaining plants to comply with the likely mandates.

    "…[
    Potential Coal Plant Retirements Under Emerging Environmental Regulations], by Brattle economists Metin Celebi and Frank Graves, analyzes the economics of retirement decisions for each coal plant operating in the United States under the proposed and emerging EPA air quality and water regulations, taking into account the predicted profitability and cost of replacement power for both regulated and unregulated plants…"

    click to enlarge

    "The regulations are expected to force coal plants to decide between retiring versus installing expensive control equipment to reduce emissions of SO2, NOx, particulates, and hazardous air pollutants such as mercury, as well as cooling towers to reduce the use of cooling water.

    "Celebi and Graves estimate that 40,000 to 55,000 MW of coal capacity (depending on the cost of retrofits) would retire if scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment were to be mandated by 2015 for all coal units. Another 11,000 to 12,000 MW could retire if cooling towers are also mandated. This would bring the total retirements to between 50,000 to 67,000 MW, or roughly 20 percent of installed coal plant capacity…"


    click to enlarge

    "Most of the retirements would be merchant plants (47,000 to 56,000 MW, or up to three-quarters of the entire merchant coal fleet), with significantly fewer retirements of regulated coal-fired plants. The retirements would be especially large in the Midwest ISO, ERCOT, and PJM areas, representing up to 72 percent of all coal plants and up to 15 percent of total installed generating capacity.

    "For the units that would not retire, complying with EPA’s potential mandates to install scrubbers, SCRs, and cooling towers would require investments in the range of $100 to $180 billion. The combination of retirements and increased operating costs would reduce coal demand by about 15 percent by 2020. Gas demand could increase…approximately 10 percent…Assuming that all of the lost generation from coal plants were to be replaced by gas-fired combined-cycle generating plants, CO2 emissions could fall by…approximately 7 percent of all CO2 emissions from the electric power sector…The generation unit-specific detail of this study also supports the analysis of stranded cost recovery for at-risk plants, in addition to the assessment of location-specific reliability and transmission impacts."

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    HUGE OFFSHORE WIND PROPOSAL

    Wind Farm Would Link Northeastern Grids
    Matthew L. Wald, December 9, 2010 (NY Times)

    "…[Ambitious offshore wind] proposals are coming in…A wind power developer, Deepwater Wind…[just] proposed a 1,000-megawatt wind farm in a spot between Rhode Island and the eastern end of Long Island in New York. The towers would be so huge, their blades rising 500 feet above the water’s surface, that they would be separated by seven- or eight-tenths of a mile, and thus would cover 270 square miles…Perhaps more significantly, the farm would be connected to the grids of both New England and New York and could become a conduit for relatively low-priced electricity in the north to flow into the higher-priced New York market…

    "A power line running from the offshore turbines to one point on shore would be mostly unused the majority of the time because the wind machines seldom turn at full capacity…But the power lines could be loaded with power generated on land — from wind machines or conventional sources – when the wind was not blowing strongly offshore."


    The Google-backed transmission plan (click to enlarge)

    "The Department of Energy has designated the land area that such a cable would bypass, Connecticut and part of New York State, as one of the two most congested, electrically speaking, in the United States. The other one covers parts of California and Arizona…In some ways, the project’s logic echoes the rationale for the Atlantic Wind Connection, a proposal for a transmission backbone that would run down the Atlantic Coast from New Jersey to Virginia…New technology has made offshore cables more practical.

    "…[T]he proposed wind farm would be financed and built in phases, with 40 or 60 machines going up each year. The machines would generate 5 or 6 megawatts each.
    (By comparison, giant wind machines on land are generally 1.5 megawatts. A megawatt is enough to run a Super Walmart.)…The offshore depths are 90 to 160 feet, modest by oil drilling standards but very deep for wind…The rotor’s diameter would be 400 feet, so that when a blade pointed straight up, it would rise more than 500 feet above the water’s surface. Building huge machines makes economic sense at sea, where each platform is expensive and where giant blades can be delivered by barge…[though] too long to move on most roads."


    The 1,000 megawatt plan (click to enlarge)

    "The project’s large scale could bring down the unit costs, wind proponents say. A farm with wind machines of that size was recently approved for the coast of Belgium…[A]dvocates say that what offshore wind power [also] needs to succeed is a sort of critical mass, the promise of enough investment that onshore industries will spring up to manufacture the parts in enough volume to push costs down…

    "Locating the farm between two large power pools would make its output easier to absorb…But it would require approval by the New York Independent System Operator as well as its New England counterpart and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…It would also need permission from the Interior Department, which controls land use at sea, but that agency recently announced a simplified procedure for approving wind farms…[The proposed project has] financing…to get through the planning phase but…[new investors will] be needed before construction could begin. Building the wind farm would cost $4 billion to $5 billion; the transmission line, which would be 150 miles long, would cost another $500 million to $1 billion…"