NewEnergyNews More: February 2011

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  • Monday, February 28, 2011


    Oklahoma: The next big US wind hub? Wind Energy Update speaks to Sandy Pratt, Deputy Director, Oklahoma Department of Commerce about how Oklahoma is positioning itself to become a strategic location for companies looking to enter the US wind energy sector
    Rikki Stancich, 28 February 2011 (Wind Energy Update)

    "Located in the heart of North America’s wind corridor, Oklahoma has about 2.3 times more wind energy potential per square mile than Texas. According to NREL, between now and 2030, Oklahoma has the potential to scale up from its current number 9 ranking for wind capacity, to number 2 in the US…"

    [Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "Last year we passed in the Energy Security Act…[stipulating] that by 2015, 15% of energy generated in Oklahoma must be from renewable energy sources…This is a very aggressive target…given that currently we source roughly 5% of energy from renewable energy…[A transferable] state production tax credit…is available for wind projects…[A] net metering incentive [is] in place…[allowing] homeowners who install wind or solar…[to] sell any excess from what they generate back to the grid."

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    [Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "We are building out a supply chain for manufacturers to locate jobs and invest in Oklahoma through the Quality Jobs programme, which provides a 5% cash back of payroll in quarterly cash payments…Oklahoma companies that wish to enter the wind sector (from aerospace or oil and gas – companies that have experience, equipment and skills sets that are transferable to the wind energy sector)…[are linked] with existing companies in the wind sector…[to help them] enter the market…We have five training and education programmes in wind and in solar, in safety training, maintenance & repair and operations…at technology centres in central and western parts of the state where the wind resource levels are highest…250 citizens have taken part in and completed wind programs…over the past two years."

    [Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "Oklahoma is…one of the easiest states for wind farm development…[There is an] abundance of land [with a] very good wind resource. There is a lot of education and awareness among the general population…There are groups that educate landowners on leases and contracts…Work carried out by meteorologists at Weather Sphere has important implications for wind energy developers, on both the siting and production predictability of wind farms…[T]he Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative (OWPI), a long-standing research project between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University…investigates and promotes state wind resources, assists landowners and developers in determining capacity… [advocates] for wind energy development…offers economic analysis and information to potential wind energy investors and promotes networking among Oklahoma's wind power stakeholders."

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    [Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "We are rolling out a massive, aggressive marketing campaign, globally. We want to be the location for OEMs and we have been successful in attracting manufacturers, but we are also targeting O&M providers. Many turbines in the US are going out of warranty now and Oklahoma has a long history of O&M as well as transferable skills and knowledge for the oil and gas sector…[O]f the 50 projects we are currently working, approximately 25 are renewable energy projects, and the majority of those are wind-related…[T]he pipeline of wind projects has continued to be strong, even though financial markets are soft and companies are slower to take decisions…We work all aspects of the supply chain…"

    [Oklahoma Department of Commerce Deputy Director Sandy Pratt:] "Transmission lines [is the challenge]. We are continuing to address this issue and nationally it is a high priority. Oklahoma gas and electric has been a leader in building transmission lines and in linking up key wind resource areas. It has undertaken several key investments…Clean Line Energy Partners are planning several projects, including a proposed 800-mile transmission line across Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Memphis area. This will provide a huge boost for developers…[Congress must make] sure the Production Tax Credit...[is] extended for more than on a session-to-session basis…The uncertainty that currently surrounds the PTC puts a burden on businesses and investors…[Congress should also create] more equity for the build-out of transmission infrastructure."


    U.S. Senate Introduces Controversial Transmission Cost-Allocation Legislation
    Michael Bates, 21 February 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "A group of U.S. senators has introduced legislation that adds a new voice to the ongoing dialogue among the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other stakeholders related to transmission cost allocation.

    "The Electric Transmission Customer Protection Act is intended to prevent FERC from applying cost-recovery mechanisms for interstate transmission projects beyond where the upgrades will have an immediate, direct benefit.

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    "This position is at odds with a current proposed rule in FERC's docket that…that spreads infrastructure costs regionally among a wide range of consumers. The senators claim the commission's rule would…[impose costs] outside of the area immediately serviced by the new transmission…"

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    "The act - put forth by [Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.] and U.S. Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. – would…[protect consumers from paying for projects] that serve no benefit for their state or region…

    "The proposed measure drew swift reaction from the industry…Jim Hoecker, counsel to industry trade group WIRES and a former FERC chairman…[said the legislation] is unnecessary…[and will] thwart needed investment in the high-voltage grid…curtail the nation's ability to develop domestic energy…[and limit] FERC's [long-standing] authority to appropriately allocate transmission costs…"


    Republicans recycle an old idea: the foam plastic coffee cup; Polystyrene makes comeback in US Congress building after Republicans reverse green initiatives brought in by Democrats
    Suzanne Goldenberg, 28 February 2011 (UK Guardian)

    "A bit like the Republican party, they are white, seemingly indestructible and bad for the environment. But after an absence of four years, foam plastic coffee cups have made a comeback in the basement coffee shop of the United States Congress building after Republicans began reversing a series of in-house green initiatives undertaken by Democrats.

    "The about-turn was announced by a press aide to John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives…When the Democrats held the house, the former speaker Nancy Pelosi put the cafeterias at the centre of a plan to hugely reduce the carbon footprint of Congress."

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    "The ancient power plant in Washington DC a few blocks from the Capitol building, which provides heating and cooling for Congress and the supreme court, was converted from coal to natural gas. Compact fluorescent lighting and energy-efficient vending machines were introduced…In the cafeterias, polystyrene packaging was replaced with trays and utensils made of biodegradable corn starch…Four separate stations were installed for recycling and sorting. A healthier menu was also introduced…

    "Items deemed compostable waste, such as coffee cups, were sent to a pulper in a lower basement, which squeezed out all the liquid before dispatching the material by truck to a commercial composting site…There, the waste was mixed with soil, which eventually returned to Capitol Hill to be used as fertiliser on the grounds. Hundreds of tonnes of waste was saved from landfills yearly…"

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    "But the new green cafeteria was not universally popular – even when Democrats were in charge. Diners complained the cutlery would bend or break on the point of contact with solid food…Once Republicans were back in charge of the house, with their suspicion of environmental protection, the days of compostable coffee cups were numbered.

    "Dan Lungren, chair of the house administration committee, said the $475,000 per year programme was too expensive and not even green…Next on the Republican agenda of environmental retro moves? Lightbulbs. House Republicans introduced a bill last week to repeal the government's decision to phase out the old energy-inefficient bulbs, which was due to start in 2012…Environmental organisations condemned the return to plastic…"


    Online Shopping Platform For PV Panels Debuts
    18 February 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "Technology marketing specialist HMG has announced the official preview of, a new online shopping platform dedicated to solar panel price comparison."

    click thru to shop for sun power

    "……is intended for project developers and homeowners…[It] is designed to aid in the purchase of solar power modules for residential locations and commercial PV sites."

    click thru to shop for sun power

    "The site lists hundreds of solar panel prices for more than 300 different solar panels and automatically checks all price offers for validity. Technology used in the site is designed to solve the problem of outdated merchant offerings in online price comparison…"

    Saturday, February 26, 2011


    Energy performance India vs. Spain: As the DNI values are similar, how is the energy yield?
    February 24, 2011 (CSP Today)

    "…With respect to the Global Horizontal Irradiation GHI, which is relevant for Photovoltaic (PV) projects, [India is superior to Spain]…In regard to Direct Normal Irradiation DNI, which is relevant for CSP projects, the annual sum of DNI is almost comparable, with values in the range of 1900-2100 kWh/m2a.

    "…[T]wo regions favorable for CSP project locations…Spain, Andalusia…[and] India, Rajasthan…[a] year with an identical annual sum [of 1950 kWh/m2a] for DNI in both locations was used…A standard performance simulation tool for CSP plants was applied…[for an identical] parabolic trough CSP plant with 8 hours of storage…"

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    "One would expect at first glance that the annual electricity yield of both plants would be approximately equal…The location in India, compared to the location in Spain, accumulates more hours with moderately high DNI values. While in Spain, only during summer some high DNI values are reached.

    "…[T]he CSP-plant at the Indian location can deliver significantly more energy compared to a location in Spain with the same average DNI…[T]he low production during the cold seasons creates the disadvantage in Spain. The Indian production curve also shows the dip in energy production during the monsoon-summer month (Jun-Aug)…"

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    "…As a conclusion, one can use as rule of thumb, that energy yield at a location in India could be >20% above a location in Spain with the same average DNI…

    "…The performance of a parabolic trough plant is a function mainly of DNI, solar field size, and storage size. The plant configuration requires a project specific optimization to identify the feasible size of the plant (number of loops, capacity of thermal energy storage), which can only be optimized once the DNI is properly evaluated. Further optimization will then review the cost related to the technically optimized concepts."


    Non-recourse finance set to increase in offshore wind sector; As more offshore wind projects get built, non-recourse financing seems to be the way forward.
    Alison Ebbage, 16 February 2011 (Wind Energy Update)

    "…Non-recourse funding for offshore projects stands at between 10 and 20 per cent, compared to 60 per cent for onshore sites, according to Jerome Guillet, managing director at Green Giraffe Energy Bankers…[E]stimates show that in Europe 3-4 GW will be built on a yearly basis…[T]hat is some €15bn of capital, of which €10bn needs to come in the form of senior debt or guarantees. Because investment costs of individual projects can go from €500million to €1.5billion, traditional corporate financiers and projects’ parent utilities companies may struggle to provide finance.

    "Non-recourse finance thus seems like an ideal alternative because it is based on the near certainty of the lender recouping the loan. Several major offshore wind projects…have already been built on non-recourse finance deals, providing a blueprint for the future…[P]artners can be multilaterals, commercial banks and the utilities…[F]or the lender the attraction is a watertight project that…will bring the [ROI]…"

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    "…[N]on-recourse finance works on a low margin and fixed return basis with the loan limited to what has been contracted right at the start and no liability for any cost overruns. As a consequence lenders like to be very involved in negotiations, even at the development stage, and require permits, construction, and maintenance contracts and the like to be in place and robust before they will lend…[D]evelopment costs, between four and seven per cent…are down to the sponsor…The construction period takes between one and a half to two years and risks are mitigated by strong BoP…turbine supply contracts…interface agreements…[and] management…

    "But in-depth involvement by non-recourse participants can be difficult…[I]n the UK… utilities and banks have had very different approaches to the contracting process…Banks are willing to lend only if the project is seen as low-risk…[I]n today’s economic climate lenders are unwilling to take big risks especially on the large-scale offshore projects. This can make non-recourse structures look like the best and sometimes only option."

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    "But as the number of projects increases and confidence returns to the broader marketplace, the number of deals and participants in the market will increase…[T]he amount of lenders will also increase…[C]urrently only a few players such as Dexia and Rabobank can be said to be very involved in this market with another 15 to 20 lending small amounts. The more potential participants, the faster the market will develop - especially if deals are put together by a smaller number of players loaning a greater amount, making coordination far easier…

    "Markets that have favourable regulatory regimes will benefit most. Currently Germany, the UK and Belgium appeal most to lenders as all have regulation in place to support offshore windfarm development as well as subsidies such as feed in tariffs (FiTs) or Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which offer a guaranteed output price and thus reduce risk further for lenders…[But] the regulatory regime to develop offshore wind is the key as it guarantees stability and industry longevity…"


    NanoMarkets forecasts CIGS market will grow to US $3.7 billion in 2016
    2011 February 25, (Display+)

    "…According to NanoMarkets' [latest market analysis and forecast of the CIGS photovoltaics business], sales of CIGS are expected to grow from around $615 million this year to reach $3.7 billion in 2016. The report also notes that there are now more than 50 producers in the CIGS market, more than double the number of a few years back.

    "NanoMarkets notes that this somewhat bullish forecast is based in part on the fact that CIGS is the only commercialized PV technology that can combine conversion efficiencies that are close to conventional PV with the thinness, and light-weight associated with thin-film PV."

    CIGS: Already starting to rise in the market (click to enlarge)

    "In addition, the report notes that the prospects for CIGS have been bolstered by the willingness of large firms such as Intel, Shell, Dow Chemical and LG to invest significant amounts of capital in CIGS even during a recessionary period.

    "The market for conventional PV panels using CIGS as an absorber material is expected to reach $2.9 billion in 2016. However, NanoMarkets expects that 2016 will be when significant revenue will be generated by CIGS-based building-integrated PV (BIPV) with sales of this technology expected to reach $721 million by 2016."

    Thursday, February 24, 2011


    Islandsbanki U.S. Geothermal Industry Overview
    10 February 2011 (Islandsbanki)

    "…With [the first U.S. Geothermal Industry Overview report, they] provide an overview of the U.S. Geothermal industry´s landscape from plants in operation, to those in development and the companies involved."

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    "The U.S. has the largest geothermal industry in the world as it has both the largest installed capacity and the largest development pipeline. While the universe of companies developing new geothermal plants in the U.S. is fairly wide and fragmented, installed capacity is tightly controlled, with the top four operators of geothermal power plants in the U.S. owning 85% of the total capacity."

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    "International players have an important role in development of geothermal power generation in the U.S. About 25% of planned capacity is being developed by companies listed on Canada´s Toronto Stock Exchange."


    Reuse and Recycling of Electric Vehicle Batteries will Ensure the Completion of ‘Green Car’ Tag; Analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that EV battery recycling will become a significant part of the value chain by 2016, when significant quantities of EV batteries will come through the waste stream for recycling.
    February 24, 2011 (PRLog)

    "…[T]here is little economic sense to recycle lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries…[because they] contain only a small fraction of lithium carbonate as a percent of weight and are inexpensive compared to cobalt or nickel…[but] if the number of electric vehicles (EVs) and their associated battery packs increase in the long term, recycling and reuse will help validate the tag, ‘green car’. Reuse and recycling ensure that the energy source of EVs are in a closed loop and complete a full lifecycle.

    "…[New analysis] finds that EV battery recycling will become a significant part of the value chain by 2016, when significant quantities of EV batteries will come through the waste stream for recycling. The EV Li-ion battery recycling market is expected to be worth more than $2 billion by 2022, with more than half a million end-of-life EVs’ battery packs becoming available for recycling through the waste stream…"

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    "For second life, Li-ion batteries will have to compete with dedicated batteries used for current second-life applications such as stationary grid storage. They will have to compete in terms of cost, power and energy storage, as most of the characteristics of Li-ion batteries with regard to their degradation at reuse are still uncertain…"

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    "Though lithium is 100 per cent recyclable, the battery-grade lithium from the recycling process is costlier than lithium from direct sources. Lack of price incentives…[restrictions on] lithium recycling…[and] limited incentives for utilities using energy storage…[hinder] reuse activities…The lack of valuable materials in batteries [also] often limits the potential for recycling.

    "The advent of Li-ion batteries is expected to spur automotive and utility industries to sell a common fuel electricity to consumers. Furthermore, with second life applications, Li-ion batteries are poised to contribute to further net reductions in emissions…beyond those achieved by using an EV…"


    BPA cheers new record for wind generation in the Northwest
    Rocky Barker, February 23, 2011 (Idaho Statesman)

    "The Bonneville Power Administration is taking a clearly different approach to its growing wind resource than Idaho’s public utilities…[I]t generated over 3,000 megawatts on its grid for the first time [February 22 from ~2,100 turbines on 35 privately developed wind farms primarily east of the Columbia River Gorge,] producing enough electricity to serve a city three times the size of Seattle for an hour.

    "Like Idaho Power, BPA has seen wind power grow at an astounding rate, more than 1,500 megawatts of capacity have been added in just the last two years…Idaho Power Co., Avista Utilities and PacifiCorp successfully petitioned the Idaho Public
    Utilities commission to reduce the cap for wind and solar projects they have to buy power from at a set rate from 10 megawatts to 100 kilowatts. The utilities argue that they have so many wind projects coming on line they could end up having more power than they can use or sell at some parts of the year."

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    "Wind generation on BPA’s system surpassed the new milestone at 2:55 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22, reaching a new all-time peak of 3,006 megawatts. BPA expects to have between 5,000 and 6,000 megawatts of this clean, emission-free, renewable resource connected to its system by 2013…[and] unlike Idaho utilities it is celebrating this growth in renewable energy…

    "…[To] accommodate 6,000 megawatts or more of wind, BPA is expanding and reinforcing the transmission system to support wind integration. The agency is exploring additional measures to balance wind more effectively, other sources of generation to balance wind and is developing partnerships with other utilities and the wind community to expand wind integration even further."

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    "…[T]o be fair, Idaho Power is not against wind power, it is seeking to ensure this intermittent power doesn’t cost its ratepayers too much. There is a good debate before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission about how it can keep these new home-grown energy sources growing without making electric customers pay more than they would on other new sources of electricity…With[out] carbon sequestration technology [for coal], and nuclear power too big for Idaho’s needs…the choices are renewables and natural gas…

    "…To make [wind] power more useful, BPA is developing a state of the art wind speed and wind generation forecasting system. The new system will forecast more accurately up to three days in advance rather than the previous [one-hour ahead] forecast service…That will allow BPA to integrate wind into its other power sources better and more cost-effectively…"

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011


    Trillium CEO Questions Ontario's Offshore Decision
    Angela Beniwal, 22 February 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "Trillium Wind Power Corp. has spent the past 15 years working toward developing four offshore wind projects in the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. But a recent decision by the Ontario government to stop offshore wind development puts the developer's pipeline of up to 3,500 MW in jeopardy…Ontario's Ministry of Environment (MOE) took many in the wind industry by surprise when it announced that it was halting development of proposed offshore wind projects while further scientific research is conducted.

    "John Kourtoff, Trillium's CEO, says there are no environmental issues with wind projects that are located 10 km out…But the MOE cited a lack of scientific studies regarding offshore wind development in freshwater…The MOE says it plans to monitor the recently installed Lake Vanern pilot project in Sweden….[and] observe a 20 MW pilot project proposed by the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force for Lake Erie in Ohio…Kourtoff says the MOE's decision is not a moratorium, but rather an outright cancellation of projects…"

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    "In June 2010, the MOE and MNR posted separate policy proposals regarding offshore wind power development…[and] received many comments opposing offshore wind development. Concerns include potential impacts to fisheries and birds, changes to natural coastal processes, and impacts to commercial and recreational fishing.

    "…[With the] 2008 decision…to lift an offshore wind moratorium…[a] press release [was] issued [that] said the moratorium was lifted…based on the best available information, including…Partnering with the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory to evaluate offshore wind potential in the Great Lakes…Analyzing lakes Erie, Huron and Ontario, including depth, wind speed and other social and ecological values…Developing wind power guidance documents for birds and bats; and…Establishing a partnership with Bird Studies Canada, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) and Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service to set up a common database for monitoring wind power’s impact on birds and bats."

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    "Kourtoff speculates that lingering opposition to onshore wind projects influenced the MOE's decision…No one from the government has been in touch with Trillium to explain the decision or what will happen next…Trillium's four projects were expected to generate between 3,200 MW and 3,500 MW of wind power…

    "According to a Conference Board of Canada report released in December 2010, 2,000 MW of offshore wind could be generated between now and 2026…[and] the development and operation of offshore wind in Ontario would create between 55,000 and 62,000 person-years of employment…Stopping offshore development in the Great Lakes will have dire consequences for the industry in Ontario…"


    Making Solar Panels Greener; Producing photovoltaic panels more sustainably will require reducing energy consumption, toxic substances
    Sarah Everts, February 21, 2011 (Chemical & Engineering News)

    "…[I]t’s worth taking a measured look at the environmental impact of photovoltaic technology from cradle to grave…[Makers of] crystalline silicon-based photovoltaic solar panels, which currently boast about 80% of the global market…have borrowed much of their technology from the electronics industry, which relies on an abundance of chemicals and energy-intensive steps that pose risks to human and environmental health.

    "..[T]hey must instead choose more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and plan for the panels’ safe disposal…[C]ompanies are increasingly setting up programs that will collect and recycle panels after their 20–25-year lifespan, with some businesses committing to not sending their products to developing nations in which other electronic waste is processed unsafely…"

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    "…[C]ompanies are looking to reduce the amount of energy required to produce photovoltaics, thereby improving the bottom line and environmental profile of manufacturing. Researchers in both academia and industry are also starting to scrutinize the photovoltaic production process to figure out which chemicals could and should be replaced.

    "…[C]rystalline silicon must be in use about two years before the cumulative energy they supply to the grid balances the energy required to produce them—the so-called energy-payback time…Many scientists have tried developing more-energy-efficient ways to purify and crystallize silicon…But none of the fledgling processes outperform the industrial status quo…[W]orse, much of the crystallized silicon goes to waste…Finding a way to recycle…would reduce waste across the industry…Turning a cut wafer into a usable solar panel involves a series of wet-chemical etching steps…[M]ore benign chemicals…[are being tried but few] perform to industry standards…"

    click to enlarge

    "[C]rystalline silicon dominates the photovoltaic market…[but] other technologies, particularly thin-film cadmium-telluride-based photovoltaic cells, are gaining a significant foothold. CdTe photovoltaic panels pay back their consumed energy in about a year, twice as fast as crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells…[and] don’t require as many chemical processing steps…[but] [c]admium is a [toxic] carcinogen…And tellurium is so rare that some people consider it unsustainable…

    "As companies figure out how to establish effective recycling programs for retired photovoltaic panels, as well as how to make those panels in more sustainable ways, they will have to continue to balance priorities that are sometimes at odds. Improving the energy efficiency of cells will make the energy payback time shorter…[but require mopre chemicals and water.] Resolving these challenges will ensure that photovoltaics don’t just produce renewable energy but are themselves renewably produced."

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011


    Offshore Wind Transmission System Raises Red Flag at State Agencies; State officials worry that Atlantic Wind Connection's underwater backbone could spike already high power prices
    Tom Johnson, February 22, 2011 (New Jersey Spotlight)

    "…In filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), both the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel expressed concern about the Atlantic Wind Connection project, a $5 billion submarine high-voltage transmission backbone…[T]he two agencies argued that the project, stretching from Virginia to New Jersey, could adversely affect the rates paid by consumers and also place much of the risk on the ratepayer instead of the developers.

    "The Atlantic Wind Connection is a 350-mile underwater transmission line, which aims to connect the spate of offshore wind farms being developed by New Jersey and other states. Its backers include Google, and Trans-Elect, a transmission company…[It] has been viewed warily in New Jersey by both regulators and offshore wind developers, who already have lined up their own interconnections with the regional power grid, and at a far lower cost than what Atlantic Wind Connection envisions…"

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    "Robert Mitchell, chief executive officer of Trans-Elect [recently] argued…the project would bring down electricity costs to consumers by reducing congestion on the regional power grid, a problem blamed for spiking consumers’ bills in New Jersey by more than $1 billion a year…6,000 megawatts of offshore wind…could result in a savings of $17 billion for ratepayers up and down the eastern seaboard over the next two decades…[and] could reduce [climate change-inducing] carbon dioxide emissions…by 16 million tons…

    "New Jersey officials, however, remain unconvinced…Consumers already pay some of the highest electric bills in the nation, a burden some argue could increase as the state shifts to cleaner sources of energy, such as solar and wind power. According to the Rate Counsel, if current state policies remain in effect, subsidies to develop solar and wind power projects could cost consumers an additional $5 billion over the next two decades."

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    "…[New Jersey officials say] the project ought to go through the same planning process as other transmission proposals…[and question] the ultimate viability of the Atlantic Wind Connection proposal, which seeks a return on equity of 13.58 percent, the highest possible under the FERC’s rules…In particular, the Rate Counsel objects to the project's seeking special incentive ratemaking remedies, including allowing the project to begin collecting from customers even before construction on the transmission backbone begins…[which, it says,] side-steps state regulatory ratemaking and fails to balance risk between the developer and ratepayers…

    "…[The Atlantic Wind Connection’s] Mitchell said the developer hopes to clear the federal agency review within a couple of months."


    Xcel Energy Modifies Solar*Rewards Program
    17 February 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "Xcel Energy, a U.S.-based electrical and natural gas company, has changed its Solar*Rewards program to include an immediate reduction in the combined program incentive and a filing with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for approval to lower the rebates offered through the program for on-site solar energy installations.

    "The combined Solar*Rewards incentive for small, customer-owned systems (0.5 kW to 10 kW) will now be paid at $2.01/W, down from the former $2.35 per watt. The medium and third-party-owned programs will be adjusted similarly. There will be no incentive change for applications that have already been approved."

    But will Coloradans still buy solar? (click to enlarge)

    "Xcel Energy says it also is filing with the CPUC for approval to change the rebates for participants at the four program levels…[O]n commission approval, Xcel Energy plans to offer a combined incentive of up to $1.25/W for small systems.

    "The changes are prompted by the decline in solar panel costs and increasing subsidization from government programs, according to Xcel Energy. Together, these developments have reduced the level of incentives needed to support customer participation…"


    Lithium-ion battery with new chemistry could power electric vehicles
    February 21, 2011 (PhysOrg)

    "While car companies race to develop electric and hybrid electric vehicles, one of the biggest challenges they face is finding a suitable energy storage system. Lithium-ion batteries, which currently power a variety of smaller consumer electronics devices, could ideally fill this role…[but] require further [energy density and power density] improvements…

    An Advanced Lithium Ion Battery Based on High Performance Electrode Materials, researchers Jusef Hassoun, Ki-Soo Lee, Yang-Kook Sun, and Bruno Scrosati, from the University of Rome Sapienza in Rome, Italy, and Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, report having] developed a novel type of lithium-ion battery with an anode and cathode that involve new, advanced battery chemistries, greatly improving the battery’s performance and likely making it suitable for electric vehicles…"

    Li-ion: Good and getting better (click to enlarge)

    "…[The] study builds on the team’s previous research involving the development of novel, advanced lithium-ion battery chemistries. The key to the high performance lies in the battery’s electrode materials….[T]he scientists [used] a tin-carbon anode and a cathode made of lithium manganese oxide doped with nickel and cobalt. As far as the researchers know, a lithium-ion battery with this unique electrode combination has never been reported before…

    "The new [high-voltage cathode and a nanostructured anode] materials provide certain advantages for the overall battery. As the researchers previously demonstrated, the tin-carbon anode has a high cycling life of several hundred cycles without a reduction in capacity, as well as discharge-charge efficiency approaching 100%. By applying a surface treatment to the anode, the researchers could further improve the capacity."

    Advance battery technology is hot (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he new manganese-based cathode materials…are more abundant, less expensive, more environmentally friendly, and have a higher stability at low temperatures compared to the lithium cobalt oxide cathode used in conventional lithium-ion batteries…[with carefully optimized] composition, particle size, shape, morphology, and tap density…The cathode’s high voltage and high capacity provides the new battery with a higher energy density (170 Wh/kg at average discharge voltage of 4.2 volts) than conventional lithium-ion batteries…"

    [Scrosati:] “In summary, with respect to those using conventional lithium-ion batteries, electric vehicles using our battery may assure: 1) a longer driving range (210 km/charge vs. 150 km/charge due to the higher energy density; 2) a higher top speed; 3) a lower cost; and 4) better overall performance especially at low temperatures…”


    Scientists Call for New Sources of Critical Elements
    Mathew L. Wald, February 18, 2011 (NY Times)

    "Technologies for green or renewable-energy devices like batteries, solar cells and advanced electric motors are dependent on critical metals and other elements that are threatened by major shortages, two influential American scientific groups said…China’s chokehold on the chemical elements known as rare earths is just one example…The report called for the United States government to research and develop new sources for a broad range of critical materials and to more closely monitor the supply of and demand…

    "…Many of the materials in question are now traded in relatively small volumes, but are becoming increasingly critical to the production of clean energy technologies, according to the report by the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society…[Materials] like indium, gallium and tellurium, until a few years ago were mainly ‘laboratory curiosities’…But shortages…could slow the deployment of green technologies…"

    click to enlarge

    "The threat to supplies comes not only from geopolitics, as with China’s restricting exports of rare earth elements, the report said. More fundamentally, it said, global production of many vital materials is simply not keeping pace with demand…[T]he amount of tellurium required for one gigawatt of [thin film] solar cells — about equal to the power output of a single large nuclear plant — would be approximately twice the entire world’s [recent] production…

    "Because the copper business on which tellurium is piggybacked was about $80 billion in 2009, while the tellurium market was but a tiny fraction of that — close to $30 million — it is unlikely that producers will expand copper mines simply to yield more tellurium…Gallium, indium and germanium are other elements for which demand is now low but might grow far faster than production could be increased…Production of those materials today is generally a byproduct of something else, and not a result of primary production of the elements themselves. So investors may not want to build mines or processing plants just for those elements, the study said."

    click to enlarge

    "The report put lithium in this category. It is important to batteries, but substitutes might be found, and that means that exploration and development of new lithium resources [is in limbo]…[N]o one is sure about how fast production of these “energy critical elements” could be increased, the study said…[D]eveloping and opening a new mine can take decades.

    "Another complication is that mining many of the materials also brings to the surface uranium and thorium, which are radioactive. The uranium and thorium often occur in concentrations too low to be commercially attractive, so they are cast aside as byproducts, creating environmental problems…The report said the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy should create a committee to examine the production and use of these energy-critical elements, and aim to enhance their production…find substitutes [and recycle them]…"

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    2010 U.S. SPEW UP

    As Congress Debates EPA Regulation, New Report Shows Biggest One-Year Increase in C02 Pollution from U.S. Power Plants in 2010; 10 Worst States for CO2 Pollution Are TX, FL, OH, IN, PA, IL, KY, GA, AL and MO [and] Half of New Coal-Fired Power Generation in the U.S. in 2010 Came Online in Texas.
    February 18, 2011 (Environmental Intergrity Project)

    "…[Getting Warmer: US CO2 Emissions from Power Plants…] from the Environmental Integrity Project shows that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants in the U.S. rose 5.56 percent in 2010 over the year before, the biggest annual increase since the EPA began tracking emissions in 1995. The report is based on data from the EPA’s Clean Air Markets website, which tallies emission reports from electric generators.

    "Texas power plants led the pack in 2010, with nearly 257 million ton of CO2 emissions, as much as the next two states combined (Florida and Ohio), and more than seven times the total CO2 emissions from power plants in California. Despite a favorable climate for wind energy and falling natural gas prices, Texas opened three new coal plants toward the end of 2010, with a combined capacity of 2,156 megawatts. The 10 worst states for CO2 pollution identified in the report are Texas, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri…"

    click to enlarge

    "Electricity generators released 2.423 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2010, compared to 2.295 billion tons in 2009…Power plant emissions are still below the high water mark of 2.565 million tons set in 2007. Last year’s rise was driven in part by a 4 percent net increase in overall generation for the 12 months ending in November of 2010, due to the economic recovery and unusually warm weather in some parts of the country.

    "Average global temperatures last year reached the 2005 level, the warmest year on record. CO2 is the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming; the combustion of fossil fuels for electricity generation in the U.S. accounts for more than one third of our nation’s total U.S. releases of CO2, and about five percent of CO2 emissions worldwide. Coal-fired boilers provided 45 percent of U.S. electricity in 2010, but were responsible for 81 percent of total CO2 emissions from electricity generation last year…"

    click to enlarge

    "50 coal-fired power plants accounted for 750 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2010, or about a third of the total. The two largest carbon polluters, the Scherer and Bowen power plants in Georgia, together released more than 48 million tons of CO2 in 2010. By comparison, emissions from all power plants in California were 37.1 million tons; in New York, 40 million tons; and in the six states of New England, 40.5 million tons.

    "Coal-fired generation rose 5.2 percent in the 12 months ending November 30, 2010, growing at a faster pace than the overall 3 percent increase in net generation over the same period. But net generation of wind powered electricity, although a much smaller fraction of total output, rose from 73.6 to 92.7 million megawatts, for a 26 percent increase through the end of November last year. Net generation from natural gas fired plants, which release less than half as much carbon dioxide as coal plants on a per megawatt basis, rose 6.8 percent over the same period…"


    Tea Party Gets US House To Throw Clean Energy Overboard
    Jim Presswood, February 19, 2011 (Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Blog)

    "The U.S. House passed a spending bill (H.R. 1)…that rolls back environmental protections and guts investments in clean energy…[T]he Tea Party Republicans are behind this effort that would increase pollution, harming human health and the environment…[and] stifle innovation in clean energy technologies…H.R. 1 slashes key Department of Energy (DOE) programs that promote clean energy by about $1.7 billion – approximately a 23 percent decrease from current levels…[though] 83 percent of Americans favor…[incentives for] ‘solar and other alternative energy sources’…

    "…[In H.R. 1, the] Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program (EERE) [is] cut by $775 million – a 35 percent decrease. EERE is pursuing groundbreaking research in clean energy technologies…[The] DOE Office of Science [is] cut by $886 million – an 18 percent decrease. The Office of Science plays an essential role in driving U.S. innovation providing nearly 40 percent of funding for basic research in physical sciences…"

    With the U.S. falling farther and farther behind in the international race to lead the New Energy economy, it appears the nation is getting what it is paying for. (click to enlarge)

    "…[The 30-year-old] State Energy Program (SEP) zeroed out…[E]ach dollar of SEP funds generates $7.22 in cost savings and leverages $10.71 of state and private funds…[The] DOE Loan Guarantee Program [is] cut by $25 billion for all technologies except for [nuclear]…[and] rescinds all funds provided to the program by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009…[potentially delaying or ending] every renewable loan application currently under review, including five projects where the conditional loans have already been issued…

    "…[The] National Science Foundation (NSF) [is] cut by $359.5 million…[meaning] 500 fewer NSF research awards…5,500 fewer researchers, students, and technical support personnel…[and curtailment of] NSF support for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs…{And the] National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)…[is cut] $159.5 million, or 19 percent…"

    Without spending on innovation, the energy policy wheel cannot turn. (click to enlarge)

    "As bad as the bill is for clean energy, it could have been even worse. Some of the more egregious amendments [are] not included in the bill…These attacks on clean energy go against what strong majorities of our citizens want – more clean energy that strengthens our economy and national security, creates much-needed jobs, and improves our health and environment. There were, however, a couple of votes that give us some hope that bipartisan resistance to this onslaught will emerge…

    "The Senate, rightly, seems to intend to ignore the House bill and return to sensible budgeting. And maybe once Congress finally funds the government – now that we’re five months into the fiscal year – they can turn to shaping energy policy. There are some signs that there could be bipartisan progress in the Senate. One recent example is Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK, Ranking Member, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee) co-sponsorship of an energy efficiency standards bill supported by environmental groups and industry. Clean energy, after all, is not a partisan issue – it’s just the right thing to do…"


    Gamesa and Chinese partners will jointly develop new 600 MW of wind projects
    16 February 2011 (Gamesa)

    "…[Spanish wind developer and turbine manufacturer Gamesa] has signed two new agreements with Guangdong Nuclear Wind Power and China Huadian New Energy Development to develop a total of 600 MW wind projects in Jilin province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region….[Gamesa will] deliver several batches of G9X-2.0 MW wind turbines during the next five years.

    "…[Gamesa and China Guangdong Nuclear] have jointly developed wind projects in Shandong, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces [sine 2009]. The new agreement is a unique milestone because it uses wind turbines produced in Gamesa's Jilin factory, for wind projects in Jilin."

    The eastward march of the wind industry continues (click to enlarge)

    "…[Gamesa and Huadian New Energy first partnered] in Inner Mongolia in 2009….[T]he new 300 MW…project will use wind turbines produced in…[Gamesa’s planned] Inner Mongolia factory…"

    China almost matched the rest of the world's wind-building last year. (click to enlarge)

    "Gamesa operates as a wind farm developer in China…in conjunction with the country's leading (global and provincial) power companies…[It now] has cooperation agreements of 2,726 MW in [China]…[It] has four manufacturing plants (for blades, generators, and nacelle and gearbox assembly) in the province of Tianjin…[as well as the two] under construction, in Jilin and Inner Mongolia.

    "Gamesa broke ground on the Jilin [turbine] plant in May 2010…[which] is scheduled to open in March 2011…with an anticipated annual output of approximately 250…cutting edge 2.0 MW wind turbines for its partners in that province…"


    Modular, scaleable CSP technology poised to grab marketshare? Modular CSP technology can achieve high operating temperatures and efficiency, while, scaleablity makes them easier – and quicker – to get into the ground than large-scale CSP plants.
    Andrew Williams, 17 February 2011 (CSP Today)

    "…[M]odular, scalable CSP technology has become an increasingly viable option for CSP plant developers – but how does the technology compare to large-scale approaches, particularly in terms of efficiency, optimal temperature range, ease of installation, and economies of scale?

    "California-based CSP company eSolar has employed modular technology at its Sierra Generating Station in Lancaster, California – with a similar plant also under construction in India with partner ACME. Its modular power tower technology uses factory-built heliostats, receivers and towers that are shipped to site and easily deployed, enabling rapid plant commissioning. Plants can also be designed to meet customer requirements without the risk, and significant re-occurring engineering, associated with non-modular designs…"

    click to enlarge

    "Ease of scale-up is also a key advantage for Arizona-based Stirling Energy Systems (SES), which can deploy its SunCatcher Stirling Dish technology in small-scale 50MW power plants as well as in large-scale plants up to 1000MW…60 SunCatcher units are already used at the Maricopa Solarsite in Peoria, Arizona, a 1.5 MW Dish Stirling plant delivering power under a 10-year agreement with Salt River Project (SRP)…

    "The overall efficiency of modular technology used by eSolar is equivalent to large-scale power towers of the same type (i.e. thermodynamic steam cycle) – but…are less susceptible to single points of failure…Dish Stirling modular technology offers the highest solar-to-electric conversion performance of any CSP system, with an average ‘sun-to-grid’ efficiency range of 24-28% (31.25% peak)…The 440°C operating temperature range of eSolar’s solar steam receivers was chosen to match…common boiler tube materials and…commercial steam turbines…[T]he modular dish Stirling technology employed by SES has achieved even higher operating temperatures…"

    click to enlarge

    "A big advantage of eSolar’s modular heliostat design is that the heliostat field can be constructed very simply. Once the ground is prepared and the materials on site, each one can be built in a few weeks. The towers, shop-built monopoles similar to those used in wind turbines, are shipped to site, lifted in sections with a crane and bolted together. The receiver is also factory-built and shipped to site…Dish Stirling technology is also easy to assemble and erect on site…[and usually] doesn’t need a foundation…

    "At this stage, projected market share depends on a range of variable factors, such as further CSP technology developments (including storage, hybridization and cost reduction), as well as changes in government incentives, investment market trends, fossil fuel prices and CO2 emission policies. However, since projects that utilise modular technologies are generally easier to execute, project developers are likely to look increasingly favourably on modularity in the future."

    Sunday, February 20, 2011


    Budget Season Begins: Will Renewable Energy Get The Ax?
    Jessica Lillian, 17 February 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "President Obama's proposed fiscal-year 2012 budget reflects his administration's focus on promoting renewable energy, but these goals are at odds with those of the 112th U.S. Congress, which began work this year with intensive deficit-reduction weighing heavily on its collective mind.

    "Obama has defended his [just released] budget…as capable of putting the U.S. on a fiscally sustainable path’ - while serving to advance solar energy and other forms of renewable energy. His proposal would increase the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) budget to $29.5 billion, an 11.8% increase over the level appropriated for fiscal-year 2010…[It includes] $5.9 billion to basic science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), $291 million to support ‘innovative and advanced’ energy technology credit programs, and $4.8 billion to energy supply and energy efficiency programs. A total of $300 million in credit subsidies would be made available to support approximately $3 billion to $4 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects."

    click to enlarge

    [President Obama:] "We are eliminating subsidies to fossil fuels and instead making a significant investment in clean energy technology - boosting our investment in this high-growth field by a third - because the country that leads in clean energy will lead in the global economy…"

    "Although the clean energy goal may garner widespread bipartisan support, the increases in spending…[and] cuts to the Fossil Energy Office - to the tune of 45%, or $418 million, - to pay for clean energy investment have already been met with resistance…[Insiders say] the best-case scenario [is] DOE's funding and allocations for renewable energy would be kept at their current levels…[and more likely] the agency will see decreased levels of funding…[in] budget negotiations over the next few months."

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    "Meanwhile, the continuing resolution (CR) announced by the House Appropriations Committee is the first in U.S. history to contain spending reductions…[The DOE] loan-guarantee program, widely considered a crucial slice of the project-finance pie, would see its funding significantly reduced…by $25,000,000,000…Citing the job-creation benefits of solar project installation and the unfortunate timing of the proposed cuts, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) characterized the funding reduction as ‘disastrous.’

    "…[T]he CR may pass the Republican-majority House, but…[insiders expect] its chances of becoming law - in its current form - are low, given the Democratic-majority Senate, public denouncements of the legislation from Sens. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, and Obama's veto power…"


    Ontario’s wind power ‘flip-flop’ draws ire
    Richard Blackwell, February 16, 2011 (The Globe and Mail)

    "Ontario’s decision to put the brakes on all offshore wind power is drawing criticism from businesses behind several major wind projects in the province…[who]say the province's dramatic reversal, which effectively killed offshore plans, is highly damaging to Ontario's reputation as a leader in renewable energy…[and] risks denting investment in an industry that was on the upswing as a result of the province’s green-energy policies.

    "The McGuinty government announced late Friday that it will not allow any offshore wind projects to proceed until further scientific research is conducted into its environmental impact. The surprise decision drew praise from turbine opponents who are concerned over health effects and visual blight, but scorn from environmentalists and businesses that support renewable power."

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    "…[T]he policy change does not affect onshore wind projects or other renewables such as solar power…[but the sudden policy reversal] on offshore wind is enough to scare off investors from green energy projects, said John Kourtouff, president of Trillium Power Wind Corp., which has been considering four large wind projects in the Great Lakes and has one in an advanced planning stage…

    "The one company that had already signed a contract to supply power to the Ontario energy grid from an offshore project has said little…Windstream had a contract to sell the province 300 megawatts of power from a series of turbines offshore of Kingston, although it had not yet gained approvals from Ontario’s Natural Resources or Environment ministries. The contract is now dead…For Trillium, a company built entirely on the prospect of constructing wind projects in the Great Lakes, the province’s decision is nothing less than a disaster."

    click to enlarge

    [John Kourtouff, president, Trillium Power Wind Corp.] “This destroys Ontario’s credibility globally…Nobody will touch Ontario for many years in renewables…This isn’t a moratorium, this is a St. Valentine’s Day massacre of the offshore wind industry in Ontario [and the potential for thousands of new jobs]… If you are 28 kilometres out in the middle of the lake … and you’re on bedrock, there are no [problematic] environmental issues…”

    "Mr. Kourtoff said he is considering legal action against the government if his company does not get some form of compensation from Ontario…[because] he thinks Ontario’s decision was purely political, designed to appease voters concerned about wind power ahead of a provincial election, and had nothing to do with environmental concerns…"


    Massive wind farm proposed in area
    Austin Kaus, February 20, 2011 (The Daily Republic)

    "…Dakota Plains Energy…[is talking to South Dakota landowners about]… the construction of a 1,000-megawatt wind farm…[It would be the biggest in the U.S.]…[Company representatives] said it would require about $2 million for every megawatt. At 1,000 megawatts, that equates to $2 billion…[They] aim for ‘significant local ownership.’

    "Rob Johnson, president of Dakota Plains Energy, said the farm’s size would not only stimulate the economies of the county and state but also lead to the creation of a means to transmit the energy produced…Johnson and his son, Dakota Plains Energy Vice President Heath Johnson, said the project would surpass an 845-megawatt wind project currently in the works in northeastern Oregon…"

    WOW (click to enlarge)

    "The Dakota Community Wind project needs area landowners to commit enough acres to support the concept, Johnson said…[ The Johnsons estimated that an operational 1,000-megawatt wind farm would bring in $3,000 per megawatt annually to Gregory County and provide $4.5 million annually to the state]…When major companies associated with transmission lines see the commitment to [such a large] project, he said, they’re more likely to build a transmission site in the area…[T]here are currently two planned networks of transmission lines in development…

    "International Transmission Company of Novi, Mich., is hoping to construct the Green Power Express, a $12 billion network of extra-high-voltage, 765,000-kilovolt transmission lines…[It could be relocated to accommodate] a 1,000-megawatt wind farm…Electric Transmission America — a joint venture of American Electric Power and [Warren Buffet-owned] MidAmerican Energy Holdings — [also plans] to construct 765-kilovolt, extra-high-voltage transmission lines…Only one [is likely to] be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Neither has announced specific transmission line locations…"

    SD has 135 times more wind than it needs and - with transmission - could grow rich selling it. (click to enlarge)

    "…[Rod Hartog, president of the South Central Wind Association, said]… an earlier survey showed area landowners were willing to pledge 250,000 acres to the project…[He] hopes to see that support not only continue but help make the Dakota Community Wind project become a reality…

    "…Of the three pre-construction phases planned for the project, the first two — which involve data collection and numerous studies — are expected to cost between $2.5 and $3.5 million. The third phase, involving permit acquisition and a power purchase agreement, could cost up to $4.5 million…"

    Friday, February 18, 2011


    AeroVironment Begins Shipment and Completes First Installations of Residential Smart Charging Systems
    February 14, 2011 (Aerovironment)

    "AeroVironment…has begun shipping and installing its UL-listed single-family and multi-unit residential Smart Charging Dock (model EVSE-RS+). Designed with an open architecture to ensure interoperability with the thousands of individual utilities nationwide, the grid-connected system charges electric and plug-in electric hybrid cars by turning drivers’ homes into convenient, smart refueling hubs.

    "AeroVironment designed its Smart Charging Dock and supporting software to integrate easily with a utility’s IT network over various communication methods, including GPRS (cellular), Ethernet, WiFi and ZigBee. The charging system enables communication with the utility to allow for easy monitoring of energy use, troubleshooting and data analysis to help optimize the grid. Utilities can then assess charging patterns and proactively manage the needs of electric vehicles on the utility‘s generation and distribution systems. Utilities will ultimately be able to aggregate collected data for a global view of EV energy usage and user habits."

    AV's EVSE-RS smart charger (click to enlarge)

    "The company…[will] be providing and installing the charging systems and data network for the nation’s first privately-funded EV charging ‘ecosystem’ in Houston for New Jersey-based NRG Energy…AeroVironment is working closely with NRG Energy to ensure that its charging hardware and software work seamlessly with the company’s management system, allowing for grid optimization, CO2 footprint data, and energy consumption reports.

    "AeroVironment’s Smart Charging Dock can charge an electric or plug-in hybrid car automatically or be pre-programmed by a utility or driver for optimal power draw so that the car charges when energy costs are lowest. EVSE-RS+ is designed to be compatible with all SAE J1772-compliant electric car models from major automakers…"

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011


    Environmental justice groups sue for cap and trade alternatives
    Ramsey Ugarte, February 16, 2011 (UCLA Daily Bruin)

    "A final [legal] decision…will likely come in the next few weeks…[on the] Cailfornia Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as Assembly Bill 32, [which] aims to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. To reach these goals, the California Air Resources Board adopted the Scoping Plan in 2008 to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through various methods, including a cap and trade policy.

    "Last month, a preliminary ruling by the San Francisco Superior Court found the Scoping Plan unlawful. If the decision is finalized, the Air Resources Board will have to reconsider the environmental impact of the Scoping Plan…[A] coalition of environmental justice groups [raised two objections to] the Scoping Plan."

    click to enlarge

    "The first problem was that the Scoping Plan did not seek ‘maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions,’ a requirement of the bill. The court dismissed this claim…The second problem was the Scoping Plan allegedly did not consider environmental impact and consequences of a cap and trade system…Judge Ernest Goldsmith agreed with the second claim in his preliminary ruling.

    "The debate has now been narrowed to examining alternatives to the Scoping Plan’s cap and trade policy. This program puts a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted. The state government then sells the rights to emit carbon dioxide to companies, which can trade pollution credits with each other…But the environmental justice groups that brought the lawsuit against the Air Resources Board oppose the cap and trade program [because it will unduly harm low-income communities of color]. These groups include the Communities for a Better Environment and the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment…"

    click to enlarge

    "Those who support cap and trade say the revenue gained from the trading of emission rights will be used to forge programs for these poor populations…This argument does not satisfy the environmental justice community…The coalition seeks methods other than cap and trade to reduce carbon emissions…[such as] a direct tax to carbon emissions…[They say] a tax on carbon will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also encourage industries to move away from nonrenewable energy sources, possibly generating new jobs.

    "If the ruling is finalized, it will likely be taken to an appeals court, which could overturn the previous ruling entirely or further stall AB 32…[But, because of legal limits to the case,] an alternative program is unlikely…[and] the state will likely move forward with cap and trade…"


    Sonar Systems to Support Monitoring of Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Sites; A White Paper
    Patrick K. Simpson, February 2011 (SciFish Sonar)

    "…Ocean wave and hydrokinetic energy shows great promise and new technologies…make this renewable alternative energy source more efficient and effective at replacing fossil fuels, and keeping the environment clean. More companies are investing…Water that flows carries a great deal of energy, and the tides do not have to be extremely strong for this power to be harnessed and used. Also, the undulations of waves on an ocean surface can yield tremendous energy. Advancements in technology have resulted in many new products and methods being considered and evaluated…

    "One drawback to this sector is that the fish and marine wildlife can be disturbed or potentially harmed…constant monitoring of the underwater environment is needed…tidal turbines can kill fish and other species if they get caught up in the equipment, and this can change the underwater ecosystem, so newer methods and equipment are being developed to minimize these impacts and protect the current habitat and marine life…With these new developments comes the need to monitor…[and] confirm these new capabilities…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[T]here are well over 100 conceptual designs for converting the energy of waves, river and tidal currents, and ocean temperature differences into electricity. Most of these ocean energy and hydrokinetic renewable energy technologies remain at the conceptual stage…there have been few studies of their environmental effects…predictive studies and environmental assessments…have not yet been verified…several common elements among the technologies…may pose a risk…

    "…[1] Alteration of current and wave strengths and directions…[2] Alteration of substrates and sediment transport and deposition…[3] Alteration of habitats for benthic organisms…[4] Noise during construction and operation…[5] Generation of electromagnetic fields (EMF)…[6] Toxicity of paints, lubricants, and antifouling coatings…[7] Interference with animal movements and migrations, including entanglement…[8] Strike by rotor blades or other moving parts…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[T]here are tools available to support the monitoring that would be needed to support the full utilization of our ocean’s renewable resources. In particular, monitoring animal movements and migrations at or near a hydrokinetic site can be accomplished using sonar technology. Sonar can be used to detect, localize, track and report the presence of marine animals including fish, whales, sharks, swimming birds and other marine life. Sonar systems can be deployed in advance of a site installation to collect baseline data for comparison after an installation and sonar systems can be mounted to an existing underwater structure to provide constant monitoring during operations…

    "…Hydrokinetic energy offers great promise toward providing a source of renewable energy. As these systems are deployed, they will need to monitor their affect on the environment and the marine life that occupy the same area. SciFish Sonar provides affordable monitoring tools that can assist with these monitoring efforts."


    Why glass is feeling the heat in the CSP reflector space; Plastics and metals could soon dominate the market for utility-scale CSP reflectors if glass manufacturers do not figure out a way to bring down costs.
    Jason Deign, 11 February 2011 (CSP Today)

    "…The fact the mirrors at the Californian desert [Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS)] installation have lasted since the 1980s has led to glass being venerated as the reflector material of choice in the industry. SEGS has become a byword for glass’s durability and efficiency in CSP applications…But perhaps not for long.

    "One reason is that in recent years safety and pollution concerns in Europe and America have led to an increasing clampdown on the use of the copper or lead-based paints traditionally used to make mirrors [such as those at SEGS]…Manufacturers such as Flabeg and RioGlass have got around this by using unleaded paints. But these were designed for indoor applications and their performance in outdoor settings is unproven…"

    The SEGS parabolic trough glass mirrors (click to enlarge)

    "A second issue with glass stems from manufacturing costs…The crystal-clear low-iron glass needed for CSP plants only accounts for about 2% of production worldwide and involves a special manufacturing process, using low-iron sand, ultra-high temperatures and an oven that can take the heat and has been cleared of all impurities…

    "…[Third, the expense involved with ovens] results in a high unit cost…If a manufacturer could run one of these ovens continuously for around nine months a year then it is possible they could bring the unit cost down to the level of standard ‘green’ glass…But right now there is simply not enough demand…[F]inally there is the manpower cost associated with assembling glass mirror arrays…[E]very mirror needs to be attached at four points and then properly aligned…[This means almost] half the cost of a collector field is in labour…"

    Marred glass and an aluminum replacement sample (click to enlarge)

    "Those pushing alternative reflector materials are naturally not shy about noting these cost challenges…Patriot Solar Group…advocates low-cost acrylic mirrors for small systems and anodised aluminium…for bigger applications…There are two other advantages to glass alternatives…breakability and…design flexibility…

    "Despite all that, however, glass’s supremacy in CSP is far from over…[N]ew plants are [still] being made with glass mirrors…[E]ngineering, procurement and construction companies [and banks and investors] favour glass because [it is proven]…[but as] second or third-generation plants start appearing… unless glassmakers pull something else out of the hat…[the] race is on."