NewEnergyNews More: January 2011

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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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  • Monday, January 31, 2011

    FOR A CLEAN ENERGY BILL

    Analysis: Obama energy plan best chance for clean power
    Timothy Gardner and Tom Doggett (w/Ayesha Rascoe andTodd Eastham), January 27, 2011 (Reuters)

    "President Barack Obama's new plan to double U.S. clean power output could provide the kind of compromise needed to pass a divided Congress because it offers benefits to lawmakers who want to cut planet-warming emissions and those who want more jobs in energy-rich states…[I]ntroduced in his State of the Union speech…[the plan] would require power plants to generate 80 percent clean electricity by 2035…

    "It is far broader than legislation debated last year…includes generation from nuclear power, natural gas and technologies to capture and bury carbon from coal -- a process that is not yet commercially available…[and] goes further than legislation for a clean electricity mandate introduced by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham late last year…[It represents] the best chance for developing clean energy in this Congress, especially after a broad energy bill [concentrating only on renewable electricity and ] containing a cap and trade market for emissions [met tough opposition from lawmakers representing states in the Midwest and South and] failed to pass in the Senate last year…"


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    "Obama's new direction could gain support from lawmakers across the country, many of whom opposed last year's climate bill. A nuclear component could win support from Republican Senators like Graham, Lamar Alexander and George Voinovich, while a clean coal provision could garner votes from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and John Rockefeller from coal-rich West Virginia.

    "A clean power mandate could benefit companies that make components for wind and solar like General Electric, First Solar and SunPower Corp…Increased natural gas development could benefit producers like Chesapeake Energy Corp, Devon Energy and Anadarko Petroleum…Clean coal incentives could benefit producers like Arch Coal Inc and Massey Energy."


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    "If Obama can work with Congress to pass the bill, he could begin to achieve his goal of cutting greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, and repair some of the political damage he suffered from failing to pass the last year's energy bill…[The proposed] plan was light on details and successful execution of it will depend on how carefully lawmakers craft a bill that would satisfy leaders in the House of Representatives, now controlled by Republicans after the midterm elections.

    "Energy Secretary Steven Chu said…the plan represents roughly a doubling of electricity generation from cleaner power sources in less than 25 years…[A challenge] would be lawmakers who oppose federal regulation…Obama said his plan hinges on eliminating billions of dollars in oil, coal and natural gas subsidies. He wants the money to be shifted into clean energy research and deployment…[That] could irk some Republicans in the House…But a promising sign for Obama's plan was the power industry's cautious interest in at least considering the plan…The trick for authors of a bill will be to satisfy fossil fuel interests without completely alienating lawmakers who want to cut emissions and boost alternative energy…"

    WORRIED ABOUT A CLEAN ENERGY BILL

    Experts mull clean energy
    Josh Stilts, January 27, 2011 (Brattleboro Reformer)

    "There is no room for nuclear power and coal in a clean energy standard…three experts on the effects of non-renewable energy sources said…[and added that] Congress and the Obama Administration need to clearly define what clean energy is.

    "The definition needs to be based on what the major environmental impacts are going to have in the future, Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research said…[because there is] no perfectly clean source…Wind turbines, for example, can obstruct views and various animals' flight paths, but the structures can be taken apart and the materials recycled down to nearly every bolt and screw, he said…"


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    "Dr. Alan Lockwood, professor of nuclear medicine and neurology at the University of Buffalo in New York, and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, called for the closing of all coal-burning plants…[because] closing the coal plants will not only save thousands of lives, it will also save millions of dollars in health care…[and clean coal is] a myth that fits nicely on billboards…[but coal] is dirty at every stage [from mining to transport to burning]…"

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    "Scott Sklar, chairman of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and adjunct professor at George Washington University, said several studies have stated that coal plants put out more radiation than most nuclear power plants…Building a smarter, more efficient electric grid, made primarily of renewable energy sources is the only way the United States will be able to stop relying on coal and nuclear power, he added…

    "If the term clean energy isn't clearly defined, any business can use it for their financial gains, Makhijani said…He warned that if nuclear power is utilized as the main source of energy, other countries will follow and radioactive waste disposal will be an insolvable global problem…Nuclear power, which is often referred to as a source of clean energy, creates large amounts of radioactive waste that no one knows how to deal with, Makhijani said…[which is] dumping the consequences on our children…"

    MONEY FLOWS TO HYDROKINETICS

    Hydrovolts Gets New Funding, Partners for Hydrokinetic Energy Development
    January 28, 2011 (Hydrovolts via APCO Worldwide)

    "Hydrovolts Inc., producer of innovative hydrokinetic turbines for renewable energy generation, has successfully closed its first investment funding round and established strategic partnerships with three other Washington companies to develop hydrokinetic turbines that generate clean energy from water currents in canals and channels.

    "Hydrovolts closed its over-subscribed Series A funding round in December 2010. Including other investments and cash prizes won, the company has raised over $1 million since winning the National Sustainability Award at the Clean Tech Open in late 2009. Two of the company’s investors are large engineering corporations who will be strategic partners. Hydrovolts has since been invited to present at three prominent energy investment conferences this year."


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    "Washington State is the home of the four companies in the new clean energy partnership. Hydroovolts will partner with MERA Technologies, Inc. (MTI)…to develop a new submersible generator that enables the efficient harvesting of water energy at low revolutions per minute (RPM) without the need for gear boxes and with very reliable operation. MTI designs and produces Permanent Magnet Generators in China for customers around the world. The generators use neodymium ‘super magnets’ over which China has global supply domination. MTI supplies marine power generators to the boating industry and has recently become a supplier of generators to the Chinese government…"

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    "A Seattle consulting firm with deep roots in China, Sierra Asia Inc. will advise Hydrovolts on its China market development…Hydrovolts will also partner with the Ershigs Corporation…Ershigs manufactures fiberglass pipe and large components for industrial applications and currently is designing and building fiberglass composite components for various wind and wave energy companies. Ershigs has made an investment in Hydrovolts and will provide turbine engineering and prototype assistance and parts such as rotor blades and floatation tanks for the production models.

    "Hydrovolts has collaborations with the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Washington, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems…"

    THOSE NAT GAS EMISSIONS

    Climate Benefits of Natural Gas May Be Overstated
    Abraham Lustgarten, January 25, 2011 (ProPublica)

    "…[N]ew research by the Environmental Protection Agency—and a growing understanding of the pollution associated with the full “life cycle” of gas production—is casting doubt on the assumption that gas offers a quick and easy solution to climate change…Advocates for natural gas routinely assert that it produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal and is a significant step toward a greener energy future. But those assumptions are based on emissions from the tailpipe or smokestack and don’t account for the methane and other pollution emitted when gas is extracted and piped to power plants and other customers.

    "The EPA’s new analysis doubles its previous estimates for the amount of methane gas that leaks from loose pipe fittings and is vented from gas wells, drastically changing the picture of the nation’s emissions…Methane levels from the hydraulic fracturing of shale gas were 9,000 times higher than previously reported…When all these emissions are counted, gas may be as little as 25 percent cleaner than coal, or perhaps even less."


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    "Even accounting for the new analysis, natural gas—which also emits less toxic and particulate pollution—offers a significant environmental advantage. But the narrower the margins get, the weaker the political arguments become and the more power utilities flinch at investing billions to switch to a fuel that may someday lose the government’s long-term support…The EPA now reports that emissions from conventional hydraulic fracturing are 35 times higher than the agency had previously estimated. It also reports that emissions from the type of hydraulic fracturing being used in the nation’s bountiful new shale gas reserves, like the Marcellus, are almost 9,000 times higher than it had previously calculated…

    "Getting a solid estimate of the total lifecycle emissions from natural gas is critical not only to President Obama’s—and Congress’–decisions about the nation’s energy and climate strategy, but also to future planning for the nation’s utilities…Even small changes in the lifecycle emissions figures for gas would eventually affect policy and incentives for the utility industry, and ultimately make a big difference in how gas stacks up against its alternatives."


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    "…[T]he country’s large promised reserves of natural gas must also hold up for gas to prove beneficial, in terms of both cost and climate. If domestic reserves turn out to be smaller than predicted, or the nation runs out of gas and turns to liquefied gas imported from overseas, then the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas would be almost equal to coal…because the additional processing and shipping of liquefied gas would put even more greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere…

    "The utilities are in a bind because they have to build new power plants to meet the nation’s demand for energy, while anticipating an as-yet-undefined set of federal climate and emissions regulations that they believe are inevitable. Do they build new gas-fired plants, which can cost $2 billion and take three years to bring online? Or do they wait for proven systems that can capture carbon from coal-fired plants and sequester it underground? …If carbon sequestration works, coal-based power emissions could drop by 90 percent…[and] natural gas may not be the solution to the nation’s energy needs, but rather the transitional fuel that bridges the gap to cleaner technologies…"

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    WIND BEATING NAT GAS IN TEXAS

    Why Texas Is Using More Coal, Wind and Less Gas
    Kate Galbraith, January 25, 2011 (Texas Tribune)

    "…[L]ast year, nearly 8 percent of the power on [Texas]'s electric grid was generated by wind. That's more than three times the national average. And because Texas recently added several coal-generating units, coal plants — for the first time in recent memory — produced more power than any other electricity source. Nuclear power's contribution held about steady, at 13 percent of generation.

    "The big loser was natural gas. While natural gas is abundant in Texas, less polluting than coal and substantially cheaper than it was jut a few years ago, it is also easily replaced by the wind. The percentage of power on the grid generated from natural gas dropped from 42 percent in 2009 to 38 percent in 2010; coal, at 39.5 percent, slightly edged it out. Since at least 1990, natural gas has generated more electricity than coal in Texas…Hot weather and the recovering economy caused Texans to use more power overall…"


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    "Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Texas figures centers on the relationship between natural gas and wind power…Texas has nearly three times as much wind capacity in place as the next-closest state…The recent growth (from 6.2 percent of the Texas grid's generation in 2009 to 7.8 percent last year) came despite well-documented transmission-line constraints in West Texas, home to the vast majority of the state's wind capacity. There, some wind turbines sometimes get shut down even when the wind is blowing, because there is not enough room on the wires …

    "Much of the new wind has come from a different part of Texas — along the Gulf coast in the south…The state has planned $5 billion worth of other transmission lines to remedy the congestion in West Texas…Wind goes onto the grid before natural gas because the "fuel" of the wind is free, unlike that of natural gas plants — so it costs nothing to add more wind to the grid, when the wind is available. Gas units are also relatively easy to turn on and off — making it a good complement to the vagaries of wind power…"


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    "The long-term drop in the share of natural gas on the Texas grid — as recently as 2002, gas accounted for 46 percent — contrasts to the rest of the country. Nationally, reliance on gas has increased (from 18 percent in 2002 to 23 percent in 2009), while the share of coal generation has dropped, from 50 percent in 2002 to 45 percent in 2009. The reasons for this difference are rooted in history: Decades ago, Texas depended nearly entirely on natural gas for its electricity while many other states built coal plants…Texas did not begin building coal plants until the 1970s and 1980s…so while some of natural gas plants here may be older and closer to retirement, Texas' coal generators are newer and sturdier…

    "Natural gas could regain some of its share…Electricity use on the Texas grid at peak hours — meaning hot summer afternoons — is projected to increase by 37 percent by 2030…Coal plants, which are under fire from environmentalists unless they put in expensive new technologies to capture and bury carbon dioxide, may be tough to build…Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst…has proposed phasing out old coal plants and replacing them with gas-fired generation. Tom "Smitty" Smith, the Texas head of the environmental advocacy group Public Citizen, said he endorsed this idea…Meanwhile, wind will continue to grow. Smitherman noted that the state-planned $5 billion transmission line build-out, which is proceeding, should nearly double the wind-energy capacity…"

    CHINA HCPV DEMO GOES LIVE

    Cyrium Technologies Deploys its QDEC High Efficiency Solar Cells; Cells Installed in Modules Designed and Manufactured by Suntrix Ltd.
    January 26, 2011 (Cyrium Technologies)

    "Cyrium Technologies, Inc., a leading developer and supplier of concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) cells…announced the grand opening of a 200 KW HCPV (high concentrating photovoltaic) power station owned and operated by Qingdao HG Solar Energy Co., Ltd. The HCPV systems at the facility are powered by Cyrium’s QDEC high efficiency triple junction CPV cells installed in modules manufactured by Suntrix Co., Ltd. and mounted on tracking systems designed by Suntrix and produced by Qingdao HG Solar Energy Co. Ltd…

    "Collaboration on this demonstration project began several months ago…[It] highlights the opportunity that exists in China for HCPV systems. Construction of the power station started in November 2010 and was completed this month, clearly demonstrating the ease and speed with which HCPV systems can be deployed for utility scale solar energy projects."


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    "Cyrium’s portion of the project received support from Environment Canada’s Asia Pacific Partners (APP) program, as part of the Canadian government’s effort to bring Canadian and China based companies together to foster cross-border collaboration on cleantech projects…"

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    "HCPV is considered to the 3rd generation of PV technology making use of low cost, light-concentrating optical systems and group III-V semiconductor materials for the solar cell. The photo-electric conversion efficiency is 2 times more than Si (silicon) technology and requires significantly less land area than other technologies…

    "…[HCPV] also has the highest possibility of reducing the power generation cost to the level of using coal, which is of considerable importance in China. The completion of this 200KWp project is a signature event in moving China towards greater deployment and application of HCPV systems to meet its rapidly growing energy needs."

    SO. DAKOTA WIND GOES WEST

    Western SD First Wind Farm
    Austin Hoffman, Janaury 24, 2011 (Keloland Television)

    "As energy prices climb higher, more people are looking for green, renewable sources…Renewable Solutions, a Minnesota-based company, is looking at building the first large-scale wind farm, in western South Dakota. The $100 million project would span 9,000 acres and turn up power for an area that can use it.

    "Right now it's seemingly endless open prairie, but could soon be home to 27 wind turbines as they crank out 50-megawatts of power. Tom Davis is one of two landowners who have lease agreements for the towers…The main thing Davis is worried about is how his livestock will take to the large spinning windmills. But from what he's seen elsewhere…[he expects] livestock would graze right around them [unbothered]…"




    "…Renewable Solutions, the company spearheading the project…[plans] to use local contractors for much of the ground work which would create around 30 jobs…[The project will] create two to five full-time, post-construction jobs. And much of the tax revenue from the turbines would go to local schools.

    "The project isn't 100-percent finalized…[N]egotiations over finding a buyer for the power [continue]…[C]onstruction will be next."

    MONEY IN TRANSMISSION

    2010 Value Proposition Reveals $1.3B-$1.6B in Annual Benefits; 10-Year Regional Benefits Estimated from $11.2B-$14.6B
    January 25, 2011 (Midwest Independent System Operator)

    "…[The Midwest ISO 2010 Value Proposition] reflects the quantitative and qualitative benefits the regional transmission organization provides to the region through its grid reliability and efficiency measures. The study identifies between $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion in annual benefits to the region. Over the next 10 years, the Midwest ISO estimates the region could receive between $11.2 billion and $14.6 billion in benefits on a net present value basis…"

    "The analysis shows realized annual benefits ranging from $650 million to $875 million from the Midwest ISO’s greater grid reliability and efficiency measures. In addition, the study identifies benefits of between $600 million and $760 million from reduced generation investment. The generation investment benefit will be realized as load grows or current generating infrastructure retires due to age or environmental restrictions.


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    "Like prior Value Proposition studies, the Midwest ISO’s analysis included input from all interested stakeholders in an open and transparent process. The 2010 study measured 10 value drivers in which the Midwest ISO’s members and their customers are benefiting…[including] Improved reliability…Market commitment and dispatch - Dispatch of energy, Unloaded capacity, Regulation, Spinning Reserves…Wind integration …Generation investment deferral…[and] Demand response (dynamic pricing and direct control interruptibles)…"

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    "New in 2010 was the addition of Wind Integration as a quantitative benefit. Midwest ISO’s regional planning enabled more economic placement of wind, resulting in annual economic benefits between $34 million and $42 million. The regional transmission organization’s Regional Generation Outlet Study (RGOS) shows that a combination of wind placed in states with renewable portfolio standards and regional areas enable a significant reduction in the cost of generation compared with only building the wind generation locally. This area of benefits will grow as the region continues to build wind turbines to meet state renewable portfolio requirements.

    "In addition to the quantitative benefits, the Midwest ISO also demonstrated significant qualitative benefits that wholesale market participants receive from the Midwest ISO including…Price and informational transparency…Planning coordination…Regulatory compliance…[and] Seams management…"

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    PRES MAKES NEW ENERGY HAPPY

    Clean energy backers enthused; Obama plan wins applause in Mass
    Erin Allworth, January 27, 2011 (Boston Globe)

    "President Obama’s challenge to the nation’s alternative energy sector during his State of the Union address was clear: 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, 80 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2035, and — perhaps the most ambitious — an end to billions in tax breaks for oil companies…

    "It was just the message…[New Energy advocates and business people] needed to hear, and one they hope will spur the government support that local companies need to expand, create jobs, and bring their technologies into widespread use…"


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    "Energy and innovation were key elements of Obama’s speech, which focused on rebuilding the US economy. He compared the technological and economic challenges facing the nation’s energy sector to the late 1950s, when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite. That in turn spurred a massive investment in science, education, and research, culminating in the 1969 US landing on the moon…

    "Just how the nation will reach Obama’s ambitious goals — and what that will mean for local clean energy companies — is still in question…"


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    "Peter Rothstein, president of the New England Clean Energy Council, said abolishing oil subsidies can only help to boost clean technology…

    "Representative Edward J. Markey…a ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said lawmakers and policy makers need to ensure that renewable energy is able to compete with fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which are still heavily subsidized by the government, and that ‘consumers are getting the cheapest, cleanest energy’…"

    CLOSING WIND 2010 NUMBERS

    U.S. wind energy industry finishes 2010 with half the installations of 2009, activity up in 2011, now cost-competitive with natural gas; Industry weathers latest boom-bust cycle as utilities move to lock in more wind power at favorable long-term rates
    January 24, 2011 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "America's wind industry built 5,115 megawatts of wind power last year, barely half of 2009's record pace, but entered 2011 with over 5,600 megawatts currently under construction - and with wind cost-competitive with natural gas for new electric generation, utilities are moving to lock in favorable rates…

    "…3,195 megawatts (MW) of wind-powered electric generating capacity came online in the
    fourth quarter of 2010. That performance was below the 4,113 MW installed in the same period in 2009, but a leap from the third quarter of 2010, when only 670 MW were installed. The U.S. finished the year with a total of 5,115 MW of new wind power."

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    "Buoyed by a one-year extension of the 1603 Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy in the final days of the 111th Congress, the industry entered the new year with over 5,600 MW of electric power currently under construction, well above the same time a year earlier. Further projects are expected to start up in time to meet the new construction deadline for the tax credit, now set to expire at the end of 2011. The industry is likely to finish 2011 ahead of 2010 numbers…

    "Total U.S. wind capacity now stands at 40,180 MW, an increase in capacity of 15% over the start of 2010, AWEA reported today. For the first time, U.S. capacity fell second to China's; China now has 41,800 MW in operation, an increase of 62% in capacity over a year ago, according to a Jan. 13 report from the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association."


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    "With uncertainty over national policies still holding back the U.S. industry, state targets for renewable energy continue to drive wind installations in many areas of the country…The top five states for cumulative wind energy capacity at the close of 2010 all have such state targets…[Texas (10,085 MW), Iowa (3,675 MW), California (3,177 MW), Minnesota (2,192 MW), Washington (2,105 MW)]…

    "…Five more states, which generally began tapping their inexhaustible wind resources more recently than the leaders, showed growth rates above 100%. The list starts with Delaware and Maryland, which added their first utility-scale wind turbines in 2010 [and includes Idaho (+140%), South Dakota (+126%) and Arizona (+103%)]…"

    MONEY & JOBS IN EFFICIENCY

    Appliance and Equipment Standards: A Money Maker and Job Creator
    January 26, 2011 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    "National appliance energy efficiency standards for common household and business products generated about 340,000 jobs in 2010, or 0.2% of the nation’s jobs, according to …the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). The energy and related utility bill savings from standards will continue to contribute to a healthy economy over time, and in 2030, the number of jobs generated will increase to about 380,000 jobs—an amount about equal to the number of jobs in Delaware today…

    "…
    Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards: A Money Maker and Job Creator estimates net employment and wage impacts of U.S appliance, equipment, and lighting efficiency standards. The standards contributing to the job creation include those put in place between 1987 and 2010, new standards and revisions DOE will complete by 2013, and consensus standards in pending legislation.

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    "Appliance and equipment standards save consumers and businesses energy because the standards increase the average efficiency of new products relative to what the efficiency would have been without new or updated standards. As a result, consumers and businesses spend less money on utility bills. This moves money from the utility sector, with relatively few jobs per dollar of revenue, to other sectors that have higher jobs per dollar of revenue. As existing standards affect more product purchases, and as new standards take effect, the number of jobs generated will increase along with energy bill savings…"

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    "These existing and new standards also are making a big contribution to U.S. efforts to reduce energy use, with savings growing to 6.1 quads a year in 2030, or roughly enough to meet the total energy needs of one-quarter of all U.S. households for a year. Standards cover a wide range of consumer and commercial products, ranging from refrigerators, to light bulbs, to commercial air conditioners, to industrial motors…

    "In order to reach the level of employment estimated in the report, Congress must pass the consensus appliance standards contained in the Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreements Act (INCAAA) of 2010, a bill with broad support but not yet enacted into law. This agreement, negotiated by manufacturers and efficiency advocates, would provide market certainty for manufacturers and energy savings for consumers and would generate over 1.1 quadrillion BTUs of energy savings in 2030, about the annual energy use of the state of Oregon. In addition, DOE must follow through on scheduled updates to existing standards…"

    TRANSMISSION QUESTIONS SOTU

    Obama’s SOTU: A Trifecta for Electric Transmission
    January 26, 2011 (WIRES)

    "…President Obama identified as among the Administration's top priorities the strengthening of America's infrastructure, the need to move aggressively to promote clean energy resources, and making government regulations and resources more efficient and streamlined."

    [James Hoecker, Counsel, WIRES/former Chair, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] "In my opinion, this is precisely what we in the electric transmission sector have been talking about…Expanding the transmission grid is essential to tapping America's diverse energy resources. Transmission is critical infrastructure, although – for the third year in a row – the White House has focused only on railroads, highways, and the Internet. Nothing is more critical to the economy than reliable and economic supplies of electricity."

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    "In his address, the President issued these challenges…[1] ‘…join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80 percent of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources…[2] …become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015…[3] Our infrastructure used to be the best . . . [But] when our own engineers graded our nation's infrastructure, they gave us a 'D'…"

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    [James Hoecker, Counsel, WIRES/former Chair, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] "Clean energy – whether wind, solar power, other clean sources of generation, or even a pervasive deployment of electric vehicles –cannot happen without a stronger grid. I can only hope the Administration understands that reality."

    [James Hoecker, Counsel, WIRES/former Chair, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] "If the President thinks that jurisdiction over salmon is confusing, he should try planning, licensing, and constructing an upgrade to the high voltage energy delivery system…If there ever was a case for reforming the planning, siting, and cost recovery of energy infrastructure, it is for electric transmission. In this instance, private capital is available and ready to take the lead once a greater degree of regulatory certainty is provided. The President has hit the right notes…"

    WIND AND THE SOTU

    Statement on the President's State of the Union Address
    January 25, 2011 (American Wind Energy Association)

    [Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):] “We are pleased to see the possibility of the first predictable long-term federal policy toward renewable energy…[W]e'll need to make sure the policy really deploys the renewable energy…Wind energy can deliver right now…more affordably than any other energy source, if we have a level playing field…"

    [Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):] "On ending billions in oil industry tax subsidies and investing in ‘tomorrow's energy’…fossil fuels receive five times more in federal incentives than renewable energy…The predictability of the permanent incentives for conventional energy sources is as important as the amounts. Renewable energy currently suffers from the inability to predict whether incentives will be extended every year or two…It's time to reorient…[P]redictable policies [will] allow…renewable energy [to thrive]…"

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    [Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):] "On producing 80% of U.S. electricity from "clean energy sources" by 2035…It is important from a jobs perspective to focus on deploying clean energy sources…Wind energy is ready to go now…By 2030 wind can be up to 20% of the electric supply…And it insources jobs and investment into America…"

    [Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):] "On putting 1 million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015…We are looking forward to driving our cars on wind. With plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles headed for showrooms, that has finally become a reality…Wind energy has improved its efficiency 40% in five years…We look forward to working with the new majority in the House and leaders in the Senate to diversity America's energy portfolio and foster renewed economic growth."

    SUN AND THE SOTU

    Solar Industry Playing Critical Role in Creating Jobs, Driving Innovation and Maintaining US Competitiveness
    January 25, 2011 (Solar Energy Industries Association)

    [Rhone Resch, President/CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):] "…The U.S. solar industry is playing a critical role in meeting [President Obama's commitment to creating jobs and keeping America competitive in the global marketplace]…"

    [Rhone Resch, President/CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):] "…[N]early 100,000 Americans in all 50 states…[work] at solar manufacturing facilities; on the roofs of homes and business installing the latest solar technology; at offices offering support in finance, legal and marketing departments. More are finding work in solar every single day…"

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    [Rhone Resch, President/CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):] "…LUMA Resources [of Rochester Hills, Michigan] utilized funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to transform their roofing company into a manufacturing facility of state-of-the-art solar shingles, creating new manufacturing jobs for Michigan workers. They are one example of thousands of companies that are finding new opportunity in the solar industry…"

    [Rhone Resch, President/CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):] "…With the right policy support, the U.S. solar industry is scaling up and allowing America to innovate and compete in the global marketplace. Congress should take notice of success stories like LUMA Resources when considering how to create new jobs and keep America competitive…"

    GROWING SMART GRID BUY-IN

    Smart Grid VC, M&A Activity Reach Highest Levels Ever In 2010
    20 January 2011 (Renew Grid)

    "Smart grid venture-capital (VC) funding and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity reached new heights in 2010, according [to Smart Grid Investment and M&A 2010] released by Mercom Capital Group LLC.

    "VC funding in the smart grid sector was at its highest, with $769 million in 51 deals, representing an 88% increase over 2009. Top smart grid VC transactions included the $165 million raise by Landis+Gyr, the $106 million raise by Trilliant and the $52 million raise by OpenPeak. M&A activity was also robust for the smart grid sector, with 40 transactions, including the acquisition of Ventyx by ABB for $1 billion."


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    [Raj Prabhu, managing partner, Mercom Capital Group:] "It was a banner year for smart grid in terms of VC funding and M&A activity, with VC funding almost doubling compared to 2009…Eighty-seven different investors participated in VC rounds in 2010.”

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    "The solar and wind sectors also saw VC and M&A growth in 2010. Activity increased in large-scale solar project funding, debt and other funding types, pointing to an ease in the availability of credit after a challenging 2009. Solar M&A transactions in 2010 totaled $2 billion in 44 deals.

    "The wind sector saw a 40% increase in VC and PE activity in 2010, with $277 million invested, compared to $198 million in 2009. Large offshore wind projects boosted project funding activity to over $9 billion in 2010. M&A transactions in the wind sector came to $1.3 billion in 23 deals, with the $860 million acquisition of John Deere Renewables by Exelon constituting the bulk of it."

    ENERGY SHIFTS EAST

    PFC Energy 50 Ranking of World's Top Energy Companies: Long Term Trends Reassert Themselves as Combined Value Gains 35%
    January 26, 2011 (PFC Energy)

    "The combined value of the 50 largest publicly traded energy companies increased 35% in 2009 to $3.9 trillion, according to energy consultants PFC Energy. That value remains 26% below its $5.2 trillion high at the end of 2007. The 35% gain compares with increases of 71% in oil prices and 20% in the S&P 500 over the same period…

    "One year ago, five of the top six positions on
    the PFC Energy 50 were occupied by ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and TOTAL. ExxonMobil had also reclaimed its long-standing leadership of the PFC Energy 50 list from PetroChina."

    click to enlarge

    "This year, PetroChina tops the list again, with a market capitalization of $353.1 billion, 9% larger than ExxonMobil’s $323.7 billion and Brazilian company Petrobras at #4 with a value of $199.2 billion that was larger than either Royal Dutch Shell or BP.

    "In the past twelve months, the combined value of the list’s nine traded national oil companies (NOCs) rose by 66%, while the six SuperMajors, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron, TOTAL and ConocoPhillips increased their combined value by less than 1% and OECD-based integrated companies gained only 6% in value."


    click to enlarge

    "2009 was a turnaround year for countries as well as companies. Russian companies, last year’s worst performers, posted a combined 88% value gain and the value of the Chinese companies grew 52%.

    "Also visible this year are early signs of industry restructuring and consolidation. After spinning off its integrated oil sands operations as Cenovus, a smaller Encana fell from #22 to #44, the list’s largest drop. The Petro-Canada merger helped Suncor increase its market capitalization by 91% to climb from #37 to #22. ExxonMobil’s acquisition of XTO was not completed at year end, but the combined value of the two companies fell short of displacing PetroChina from the list’s #1 position…"

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    A RISING WIND

    Venture Capital Cleantech Investments Rise In 2010
    19 January 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "Venture capital (VC) investments in the wind, solar and smart grid sectors were up in 2010, according to [Wind Funding and M&A 2010 Report] released by Mercom Capital Group LLC, a global clean energy market intelligence, consulting and communications firm."

    click to enlarge

    "...The wind sector saw a 40% increase in VC and private-equity activity in 2010, with $277 million invested compared to $198 million in 2009. Large offshore wind projects boosted project funding activity to over $9 billion in 2010. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions in the wind sector came to a total of $1.3 billion in 23 deals, with the $860 million acquisition of John Deere Renewables by Exelon making up the bulk of it.

    click to enlarge

    "Top smart grid VC transactions included the $165 million raised by Landis+Gyr, the $106 million raise by Trilliant and the $52 million raised by OpenPeak. The acquisition of Ventyx by ABB for more than $1 million remained the largest M&A transaction for the year."

    GERMAN F-I-T DEGRESSES MORE

    German Government, Solar Group Reach Agreement On FIT Reductions
    20 January 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "Representatives from BSW-Solar, Germany's solar trade association, and the country's government have reached agreement on the adjustment of solar feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates. Future FIT rates will be adjusted in accordance with annual installed capacity…and possible cutbacks will be implemented July 1.

    "The expected installed capacity for this year will be based on the figures for new installations in the period from March to May. By multiplying the result by a factor of four, the Federal Net Agency will then project the estimated installed capacity for the year."


    click to enlarge

    "Should the calculated PV market capacity be more than 3,500 MW, further reductions of 3% will be introduced mid-year on July 1. The resolution reached between legislators and BSW-Solar [is to be finalized in February and] has determined that a cut of 6% will be put in place if projected capacity is over 4,500 MW. Projected annual installed capacity of over 5,500 MW would incur cuts of a further 9%."

    click to enlarge

    "If projected annual capacity is more than 6,500 MW, a 12% cut will be implemented. If installed capacity is projected to reach last year's total - 7,500 MW - a 15% reduction will be put in place. Ground-mounted projects will not be affected until Sept. 1.

    "Funding is, as previously planned, to be cut by a further 9% at the beginning of 2012…[A]n audit carried out by the Federal Net Agency will verify that the estimations made in spring 2011 are accurate, and corrections will be made if necessary…"

    A PEOPLES’ EV

    The People's Electric, Ready to Claim Power
    Jerry Garrett, January 23, 2011 (NY Times via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    "The Nissan Leaf, a mildly futuristic four-door hatchback, arrives as so much a pioneer that the systems necessary to keep it moving down the road are still being put in place…Here comes the people's electric car, America, ready or not…

    "…[T]he lack of [a public charging infrastructure] is probably the most serious limitation of all purely electric cars. For owners whose trips are within 30 or 40 miles of home (or who can use a charging station at the workplace), this presents no problem…Fast-charging stations, a necessity for longer treks, are few and far between now, but a network of them are planned to begin operating within the next year or so. Leaf buyers who buy the optional $700 Quick Charge Port will be able to use a direct-current fast-charger to replenish their batteries to 80 percent of capacity within 30 minutes and continue on their way…"


    click to enlarge

    "The next quickest solution, Nissan's 220-volt home charging units, cost $2,200 installed and can give a full charge in eight hours…The majority of public charging stations planned will also use this so-called Level II charging protocol…With the battery topped off, the Leaf…has a range of 100 miles…[though with] charging overnight in my garage on a conventional 110-volt household circuit, the Leaf's meter never showed more than 88 miles of possible range…Nissan specifies a 21-hour recharge time using house current…

    "At a starting price of $33,630, the Leaf is by far the least expensive battery-electric car produced in significant numbers; with a 24 kilowatt-hour battery, it qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit as well as incentives offered by various states. The Leaf will be sold initially in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington; by the end of 2011 it will be offered in all states."


    click thru to follow the development of plug in vehicles

    "…[T]he lithium-ion battery pack is a major part of the car's cost…Building in a battery pack big enough to drive 245 miles on a charge helps push the price of the two-seat Tesla Roadster past $100,000…[T]he Leaf was fascinating to drive…Without the usual sounds of a conventional car, you hear different things while driving a Leaf -- mainly the cacophony produced by other vehicles. At speeds under 16 m.p.h., a beeping sound alerts those outside the car; inside, the tone cannot be heard.

    "…[T]he Leaf can be driven vigorously. Its electric motor -- just 107 horsepower, but with 207 pound-feet of torque -- accelerates the 3,400-pound car to 60 m.p.h. in 9.4 seconds…The range meter that created so much anxiety for me, it turns out, just takes some getting used to…Nissan calculates that the Leaf's battery pack, which carries an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty, will lose 20 percent (30 percent, if fast-charging is used often) of its power over the next decade of use…[T]he Leaf demonstrates how much the widespread acceptance of vehicles that produce zero tailpipe emissions will depend on external factors like a charging infrastructure."

    6 BIL GEOTHERMAL BUY-IN

    Geothermal Energy Steams Ahead With Up To $6B In Planned Investments
    Steve Gelsi, January 19, 2011 (Wall Street Journal)

    "Tapping into the heat of the Earth's crust to generate electricity has been slower to catch on in the United States compared with solar and wind power, but the geothermal industry hopes to gain traction with up to $6 billion in planned investments in new plants in the next year or two.

    "While 2009 and 2010 provided fewer breakthroughs in the mainstream adoption of geothermal energy, this year holds greater potential as the sector looks past the economic slowdown, according to Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association."




    "The geothermal industry is seeking about $5 billion to $6 billion in financing for new construction on plants that already have gotten past the tricky part: finding a source of steady, reliable heat by completing test wells. Projects are slated in the near term in states including California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah…

    "Additional capital is needed to drill production wells and build new plants, but if all goes as planned, geothermal players plan to build about 1,000 megawatts of capacity--the equivalent of one nuclear-power plant--over the next two years…Some technological advances also have made geothermal more attractive…[T]he potential for geothermal has moved beyond its base in the Western United States to include resources in Louisiana, North Dakota and West Virginia."




    "Investors seeking exposure to geothermal energy in the United States already have a number of options for pure-play companies including Ormat Technologies Inc. (ORA), Nevada Geothermal Power Inc. (NGLPF), Magma Energy Corp. (MGMXF, MXY.T), Raser Technologies Inc. (RZTI), U.S. Geothermal Inc. (HTM, GTH.T) and Ram Power Corp. (RAMPF, RPG.T)…Several conglomerates take part in the geothermal industry as well, including Italian energy giant Enel SpA (ENEL.MI) Calpine Corp. (CPN) and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s (BRKA) MidAmerican Energy Co.

    "While geothermal power remains less prominent for now in America, it currently provides about 25% of the electric power and all of the heating needs for Iceland…Congressional approval of the U.S. tax-grant program for renewable energy also will help improve financing prospects for geothermal…"

    A REPUB ENERGY PLAN

    GOP Energy Plan Takes Shape...200 Nuclear Plants by 2050
    Matin Rosenberg, January 21, 2011

    "An emerging group of Republican leaders in Congress are putting together the elements of a new energy plan to help define a new national energy policy…Rep. Devin Nunes is emerging as one of the key architects…"

    [Rep. Devin Nunes, R, Calif:] “…With half of our annual trade deficit related to energy and 70 percent of our oil coming from foreign sources, we have become dangerously dependent on unstable foreign governments…Throughout modern history, national energy consumption and economic prosperity have been closely correlated. Strong and healthy economies consume vast amounts of energy…[O]il, gas and coal continue to be the overwhelmingly dominant source of energy…Without these sources of energy, America would simply not function…[F]ossil fuels account for 84 percent of the energy we consume…”

    click to enlarge

    [Rep. Devin Nunes, R, Calif:] “…[T]he pace of energy innovation has been painstakingly slow…The American taxpayer deserves better. It is time for our nation's energy policy to be grounded in reality…The Roadmap for America's Energy Future recognizes that many options are available to secure our long-term energy security. The bill leverages these alternatives to produce a diverse energy portfolio that would offer much greater stability in the long run, as well as more affordable prices…”

    [Rep. Devin Nunes, R, Calif:] “The Energy Roadmap begins by securing sufficient domestic fossil fuels for the coming decades, expanding oil production in the far reaches of northern Alaska, off our shores, and in the lower 48 through oil shale deposits…[B]illions of dollars in lease and royalty revenues…will be dedicated to a trust fund that will be used to secure the long-term energy needs of our country through the deployment of affordable renewable and alternative energy options…I have proposed unprecedented investments in new forms of energy - the largest investment in renewable energy in world history…”

    click to enlarge

    [Rep. Devin Nunes, R, Calif:] “…[P]ast investments in renewables have failed to provide meaningful choice or affordable energy alternatives…because federal funding for renewable and conventional energy alternatives have traditionally been provided to the most influential and well-connected special interests. I propose ending this cronyism by implementing a reverse auction that is blind to technology and immune from the influence of lobbyists or activists…[A]n energy producer would simply bid the minimum amount of federal assistance needed to create 1 megawatt of renewable electricity. The lowest bid will receive federal support…”

    [Rep. Devin Nunes, R, Calif:] “…While additional investments in technologies and alternatives are needed…America's electrical demand can largely be met with the construction of 200 new [nuclear] reactors by 2050. The roadmap not only mandates the siting of these reactors, but it also paves the way for regulatory approval by streamlining the process…[N]uclear energy is greatly enhanced by the roadmap's waste recycling provision… The reforms contained in the roadmap present Congress with an opportunity to build a bridge to our nation's energy future without sacrificing our national prosperity. The plan will create real, high-paying jobs, and…reduce carbon emissions…[and] fund the most aggressive effort to deploy renewable energy in history…"

    SUN COMING BACK

    Solar VC Investments Rose Slightly Last Year Following Worst Of Recession

    "Venture capital (VC) investments and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the solar sector - as well as the wind energy sector and the smart-grid sector - improved slightly last year over 2009's numbers, according to [Solar Funding and M&A 2010 Report] from Mercom Capital Group LLC, a global clean energy market intelligence, consulting and communications firm…

    "For the solar market, total 2010 VC activity came in at $1.67 billion invested in 65 transactions, up 18% over 2009's numbers ($1.4 billion). There was increased activity in large-scale solar project funding, as well as debt and other funding types, pointing to an ease in the availability of credit after a challenging 2009, the report says."


    click to enlarge

    "A total of 148 different investors participated in VC funding rounds last year. Credit facilities provided to Chinese companies by Chinese banks came in at $34 billion, dwarfing all other transactions in solar…Solar M&A transactions in 2010 totaled $2 billion, with 44 deals. Solar project M&A activity amounted to another $450 million in 18 deals…

    "Large-scale project funding came in at $4.1 billion in 2010, while debt and other funding types logged in $36 billion, of which $34 billion were in the form of credit facilities provided by Chinese government banks to Chinese companies, including LDK Solar, Yingli Solar, JA Solar, Suntech and Trina Solar…Notable VC transactions for the solar sector in 2010 included BrightSource Energy…Solyndra…and Amonix…Important project funding transactions included Torresol Energy…[for] concentrating solar power (CSP) plants…Abengoa Solar and JGC Corp. for a CSP plant…SunPower for its…Solar Ranch project…and Abengoa Solar and ITOCHU Corp. for their CSP plant…"


    click to enlarge

    "The year's top five investors in solar included Good Energies, New Enterprise Associates, Applied Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Polaris Venture Partners. Project funding investments were led by Mizuho Corporate Bank, Natixis, Unicredit Group, BNP Paribas and Centrobanca…Among the top M&A transactions…[were] the acquisition of Etimex Solar by Solutia for $326 million - followed by Recurrent Energy by Sharp Corp. for $305 million - leads the list, closely followed by NextLight Renewable Power by First Solar for $285 million and SunRay by SunPower for $277 million…

    "At $669 million, there was a surge in M&A activity during the fourth quarter, compared to $586 million in the third quarter…Significant M&A transactions included the acquisition of Glory Silicon Technology Investments (Hong Kong Lts.) by Suntech Power Holdings for $127 million and the acquisition of Sino Light Investments by Solargiga Energy Holdings for $108 million."

    WIND MAKERS PUT SAFETY FIRST

    Vestas Joins Other Manufacturers To Develop Safety Program
    20 January 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "In the name of safety, Vestas, Siemens, Suzlon and other manufacturers are joining forces to work with key customers in the industry to develop a safety-training program…in the framework of the Global Wind Organisation (GWO), which Vestas started in November 2009…"

    click to enlarge

    "The basic safety-training program is now finalized, and a test trial of the different modules has been conducted. The outcome of the testing is now being incorporated in the course material, and the program is expected to launch in the first half of [2011]…"

    EFFICIENTLY WARMER & COOLER

    Energy Efficient HVAC Systems; Thermal Energy Storage, Underfloor Air Distribution, Chilled Beams, and Other Emerging HVAC Innovations for High Performance Buildings
    Levin Nock and Clint Wheelock, 1Q 2011 (Pike Research)

    "Most changes in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry over the next 5 years will be designed to decrease energy costs. Because of rising energy prices and pressure to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, many building owners have begun to manage energy cost actively as an asset, rather than a fixed cost.

    "Until recently, the largest energy cost in most commercial buildings was lighting. As a result, many energy efficiency initiatives have focused on lighting. This effort has reduced lighting loads to the point where the largest single energy use in most commercial buildings today is HVAC. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports that 57% of the energy consumed in a commercial building is used for heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting (32% for HVAC and 25% for lighting). Thus, energy efficiency initiatives over the next 5 years are likely to focus increasingly on HVAC…"


    click to enlarge

    "Most building owners have more important things on their minds than saving energy. In order for innovative HVAC equipment to address the energy retrofit market in existing privately owned buildings, short payback periods are required to attract a building owner’s attention. Ideal payback periods are zero or negative – providing operational savings at zero or negative first cost to the building owner. While various HVAC innovations have a net-zero incremental cost for new construction and attractive payback for retrofits, this information is not yet widely known among design and construction professionals…

    "In this report, Pike Research provides 5-year scenarios for the U.S. market for building energy management systems, thermal energy storage, underfloor air distribution, geothermal heat pumps and evaporative pre-cooling for RTU’s. While these technologies occupy a small portion of the present market, Pike Research expects their growth to continue. While displacement ventilation, active chilled beams, and HRV/ERV are also expected to continue their rapid growth in the United States, market scenarios are not included because of insufficient data. Additional technologies are explored, as well, particularly in cases where the near-term market in Europe and/or Asia might expand into the United States beyond the 5-year focus…"

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    THE U.S., CHINA & NEW ENERGY

    Clean energy seen as "bright spot" for US-China; Clean energy seen improving tense relations/GE, Alcoa sign deals with Chinese companies
    Timothy Gardner and Ayesha Rascoe (w/Chris Buckley, Russell Blinch and Philip Barbara), January 18, 2011 (Reuters)

    "Cooperation on clean energy could be a high point in U.S.-China relations leading to benefits for both countries, government and business officials said ahead of a summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama.

    "Disputes between the world's two largest economies and energy consumers over China's wind power subsidies and its slowdown in exports of rare earths minerals, used in everything from wind turbines to cell phones, have dominated headlines in recent months."


    In collaboration with the U.S., China has turned itself into the best country in the world to build renewables because... (click to enlarge)

    "The countries are also having wider arguments…But with rising concerns about oil prices, now above $90 a barrel, energy security, and global warming, officials said the world's biggest developed country and the biggest developing country have much to learn from each other. Progress can be made on sharing technologies on efficiency, cleaner coal, and development of renewables like wind and solar power…[P]ressure on both countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reel in fossil fuel demand may push them to overcome…differences…

    "…[C]ommon interests between the two countries make clean energy an issue ripe for nurturing close ties…[B]oth governments unveiled plans to continue joint research and development in clean energy -- electric vehicles, clean coal and energy-efficient buildings -- through the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center. First announced in 2009, the centers will be supported by at least $150 million from private and public interests over five years…In addition, several deals were signed between U.S. and Chinese companies…"


    ...climate change knows no borders. (click to enlarge)

    "But officials said several hurdles have to be cleared to prevent competition between the two powers from hurting clean energy efforts…Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to China, said both countries need to continue their cooperative effort to protect [high tech clean energy] intellectual property rights in China…

    "Justin Yifu Lin, a chief economist at the World Bank, said more research and development needs to be done on alternative energies like wind and solar to get them off government subsidies. Until then bickering about subsidies strain relations, as the wind power case shows…[D]elicate balances will have to be struck between American companies that have new technologies they haven't fully developed and Chinese ones that want to bring them to their huge market…In many cases American companies have decided a certain amount of technology transfer is in their interest."

    BIRDS, TURTLES & SHEEP STOP SUN

    Conservation group sues to stop California solar plant
    Nichola Groom (w/Robert Birsel), January 18, 2011 (Reuters)

    "A U.S. conservation group has sued the federal government over its approval of a major solar power plant in the California desert, the latest in a string of challenges to the nation's renewable energy goals from the environmental community.

    "…[T]he non-profit Western Watersheds Project alleged U.S. regulators approved Brightsource Energy's 370-megawatt Ivanpah solar energy plant without conducting adequate environmental reviews, and asked the court to order the defendants [the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the agencies' heads and other staffers] to withdraw their approvals…"


    The stretch of desert where Brightsource wants to build is pretty barren. (click to enlarge)

    "The complaint said the project's approval process failed to analyze and mitigate the Ivanpah plant's impact on migratory birds, the desert tortoise, which is a threatened species under federal law, desert bighorn sheep, groundwater resources and rare plants.

    "…Brightsource has taken measures to assuage environmentalists' concerns about the project. In October, the privately held company reached a deal with litigious environmental group The Center for Biological Diversity to acquire thousands of acres of habitat for the desert tortoise and other rare species."


    It might be useful to see the bigger picture because climate change will cause some pretty serious impacts, too. (click to enlarge

    "Conflicts between solar proponents and foes are taking on growing importance as the renewable energy industry experiences a boom, particularly in California…The conflicts have the potential to set back the development of solar energy and derail state and federal commitments to lessening dependence on fossil fuels.

    "Last month, a group called La Cuna de Aztlan, which represents Native American groups such as the Chemehuevi and the Apache, filed a challenge in federal court to the federal government's approval of six big solar plants -- including Ivanpah…"

    SOCAL ED CLAIMS NEW ENERGY #1

    SoCal Ed says it has 110 renewables contracts
    Christina Lee/Jeffrey Riser, 14 January 2011 (Platts Energy Week)

    "Claiming to be the single largest buyer of renewable energy in the US, Southern California Edison has amassed 110 active contracts under which it is or has been purchasing renewable energy since 2005, covering an estimated 8,000 MW of generation…[In 2010] SoCal Ed saw its retail renewables reach just more than 19% of its total retail power distributed…That compares with…[2009’s] 17%…[O]ver the past year the company has been seeing the price of renewable power it is buying, particularly from solar, decrease.

    "SoCal Ed was in compliance last year with California's 20% by 2010 renewables portfolio standard, or RPS program…[due] "flexible compliance" rules [that] allow for banking of renewable credits and earmarking for future years deliveries of power that are in excess of goals from prior years. To be counted under the flexible compliance rules, some of the contracted power does not need to actually be delivered until the end of 2013."


    SCE was #2 in solar nationally (click to enlarge)

    "…San Diego Gas & Electric said…that by the middle of 2010 [New Eneregy] had reached a level of 14% of its total retail power delivered…Pacific Gas and Electric had actual deliveries of renewable power totaling 14.5% of the company's total in 2009…[but PG&E] expects the [final 2010] percentage to be close to 20%, particularly given the flexible compliance rules…SoCal Ed is [now] focusing on signing additional contracts, mainly in the latter part of this decade, as it moves toward compliance with the recently passed 33% by 2020 California Air Resources Board, or CARB, renewables program…

    "…[A]t approximately 57%, power drawn from geothermal facilities in Northern and Southern California owned by Calpine, Ormat Technologies and Cal Energy makes up the largest percentage of SoCal Ed's renewable portfolio…The single largest contract for renewable power that SoCal Ed has…is with Terra-Gen Power…Terra-Gen is building the 1,550-MW Alta Wind project north of Los Angeles near the town of Mojave…GE Energy Financial Services and Bankers Commercial have bought the first phase, the 150-MW Alta Wind I farm, and will be leasing it back to Terra-Gen to manage and operate."


    SCE was #3 in wind nationally (click to enlarge)

    "…[S]olar is becoming "more competitive" and, in some cases, "a better value" than power from wind farms…[led by] projects built by… vertically integrated solar companies that also manufacture their own panels. Two such companies are First Solar and SunPower…

    "…[W]hat is driving SoCal Ed is not only the growth of the percentage of retail renewables that the state is demanding, but also load growth, and the fact that contracts with a number of geothermal, wind and solar facilities first drawn up nearly 20 years ago are now rolling off."

    ENTERPRISE TO RENT VOLTS, LEAFS

    Enterprise Rent-A-Car To Offer Electric Cars; The car rental giant goes green offering the new Chevrolet Volt extended-range and Nissan LEAF electric vehicles
    John Shimkus, January 19, 2011 (Energy Digital)

    "…[C]onsider taking advantage of Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s new line of electric vehicles…The car rental giant…will be introducing the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle, Motor Trend’s 2011 “Car of the Year,” to their collection of rentable vehicles, with the first fleet and electric charging station being made available at the Mark Christopher Auto Center in Ontario, California. As the cars become more available there will be additional locations offering electric vehicles and charging stations. The company is also introducing 500 Nissan LEAFs to their line-up.

    "Typically, electric vehicles have posed practicality problems, since they can travel on average only about 100 miles on a single charge, which can be difficult in this transition period where there are not a lot of charging stations yet available. Extended-range electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt are capable of traveling much further than their all-electric counterparts thanks to an on-board gas-powered generator."


    Car-of-the-Year Volt soon to be for rent at Enterprise (click to enlarge)

    [Lee Broughton, director of sustainability, Enterprise Holdings:] "By embracing new, clean fuel and engine technologies like electric vehicles, Enterprise can help the passenger vehicle remain relevant by giving alternatives a chance to become commercially successful…"

    Soon to be for rent at Enterprise (click to enlarge)

    [Jeff Morrell, vice president, Enterprise Rent-A-Car:] "Purchase demand for electric vehicles has been impressive, and we anticipate similar demand from rental customers…We're committed to using our fleet and industry-leading network as a sort of 'petri dish' to promote new alternatives and prove their feasibility in the marketplace."

    "Enterprise Rent-A-Car employs over 68,000 people, has a fleet of more than 1 million cars and trucks, and annual revenues average $12.6 billion, making it the largest car rental company in the world…It is ranked No. 17 on Forbes’ 'Top 500 Private Companies in America.'"