NewEnergyNews More: August 2011

NewEnergyNews More

Every day is Earthday.

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

email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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Your intrepid reporter

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

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  • Saturday, August 27, 2011

  • Saturday Video: The Wind Project For Climate Justice

  • Saturday Video: Thinking About The Future

  • Saturday Video: Solar Energy Enlists

  • Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    HOW U.S. WIND WILL GROW

    World's Wind Turbine Markets Keep Trucking, Mostly
    William Pentland, August 18, 2011 (Forbes)

    Global wind turbine markets have weathered recent economic storms with remarkable aplomb, according to new study by IHS’s Emerging Energy Research division…

    "Although investment levels this year will not reach the record high $34 billion in 2008, the IHS study,
    Global Wind Turbine Markets and Strategies: 2011-2025, estimated that investment levels in wind turbines would likely return to previous highs by 2012 and more than double by 2025."

    click to enlarge

    "The international trend towards greater renewable-energy deployment points to a sustained period of wind turbine investment, with equipment purchases expected to more than double by 2025…In particular, IHS projected that investment would increase from $30 billion in 2010 to more than $68 billion in 2025 as international installed wind capacity expands from 188 GW to over 940 GW during the same time period.

    "The study identified the following key market growth drivers: ambitious long-term renewable electricity demand in the global market, combined with intensifying competition between Asian and European suppliers, technology shifts toward larger turbine procurement, and buy-side consolidation…"

    BIGGEST CPV GOES LIVE

    Biggest CPV Project in US Up and Running in NM; 5 MW of Amonix CPV now online in Hatch, NM, the chile capital of the world
    Eric Wesoff, August 22, 2011 (Greentech Media)

    "The [5 megawatt] Hatch, New Mexico CPV project [is now online and] would seem to hold title as the largest CPV system in North America. Amonix is the supplier of the CPV equipment…The project had initial interconnection on June 27 and as of a week ago was generating 4.8 megawatts. Construction for the project started in mid-January and was completed on schedule.

    "The Hatch CPV project employs Amonix CPV systems…and sits on 39 acres in the Hatch Industrial Park, seven miles west of the Village of Hatch…[The] system uses 84 Amonix trackers and is being built and operated by NextEra Energy Resources, a unit of NextEra Energy…Each of the Amonix modules puts out about 60 kilowatts."


    An Amonix utility-scale CPV megamodule (from Amonix - click to enlarge)

    "Blattner Energy of Albuquerque, NM is the EPC and construction contractor for the solar project. The project employed approximately 60 people during the construction phase…

    "Electricity generated from the projects will be sold to El Paso Electric under a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) to help meet New Mexico's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard…The project was funded by Industrial Revenue Bonds…"

    FOR NEW ENERGY EVERYWHERE

    Mass. calls for improved clean energy connections
    August 18, 2011 (Boston Globe)

    "Massachusetts officials are recommending ways to improve how utilities connect smaller renewable energy projects to the grid, saying the demand for such connections is surging…[A new report shows] a seven-fold increase in demand for such interconnection service…[for] smaller-scale wind turbines, hydro systems and solar panel installations."

    click to enlarge

    "In a filing with the Department of Public Utilities, the state recommended changes including shorter timelines for interconnection applications and a more efficient application process."

    SMART METERS EMERGING

    Smart Meter Uprising: An industry brief spotlighting the burgeoning U.S. smart meter market from 2009 – 2011
    August 2011 (Zpryme)

    "…Largely due to the aggressive U.S. effort to modernize its electric grid, pros and cons…for smart meters are still aggressively being debated; nonetheless the number of smart meters installed in the U.S. has ballooned over the past several years – with just over fifty utilities deploying the bulk of the investment.

    "The Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE)… states that investments in smart meter systems make economic sense, and that the consumer-driven savings could be much greater..."


    click to enlarge

    "From 2009 to March of 2011, the number of smart meters installed among the group of 51 utilities grew by 81%...In 2009, 18% of customers served by the 51 utilities had a smart meter. As of March 2011, this figure has increased to 34%...

    "Despite poor economic conditions in the U.S., utilities will continue to deploy smart meters at a rapid pace…The U.S. is on pace to meet the Obama Administration’s goal of 40 million smart meters by 2015…The market for consumer facing energy management applications, software, and devices will enter a high-growth phase in 2012…[and] utilities that have deployed smart meters to more than 50% of their customer base [will lead in] products and technologies beyond AMI and smart meters."

    WORLD EV SALES TO GO UP

    Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts; Global Forecasts for Light-Duty Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Battery Electric Vehicles: 2011-2017
    Dave Hurst and John Gartner, 3Q 2011 (Pike Research)

    "…To develop forecasts for electric vehicles, including battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), Pike Research examines four key factors…[1]Vehicle availability…demand for HEVs in North America will lead to the availability of 40 models by the end of 2012, versus 14 HEV models in Asia Pacific…[2] Fuel prices…fuel costs in North America will be lower than those in Asia Pacific…

    "…[3] Government market influence…China in the Asia Pacific region is taking the lead in terms of incentivizing vehicle adoption…[4] Consumer attitudes and recharging infrastructure… growth of publically available electric vehicle charging equipment (EVCE) will also help build confidence that BEVs and PHEVs will fit within consumers’ lifestyles…"


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    "…Overall, the market for electrified vehicles will grow at a CAGR of 19.5% between 2011 and 2017 (this compares to a CAGR of 3.7% for the vehicle market overall during the same period). The plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market which is the combination of both BEVs and PHEVs will see substantial growth because it is currently still in its infancy (48.4% CAGR).

    "The market for PEVs is expected to grow to 1,342,067 vehicles annually by 2017 – about 1.4% of the global light-duty vehicle market. The Asia Pacific region will be the leading market due to the strength of the Japanese market and growth in China in the coming years. The PEV market is anticipated to miss many of the targets set by various government bodies because vehicle programs have not been launching as rapidly as expected…"

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    BMW WINDPOWER

    BMW to power car plant with wind farm
    Sara Knight, 22 August 2011 (Windpower Monthly)

    "BMW has contracted a German wind-farm developer to carry out the permitting procedures and implement a 10MW wind farm at the site of its existing car plant in Leipzig…The company wants the whole production process for its new electric cars to be based on the use of sustainable energies...

    "Permitting for the [four 2.5MW turbines in the] wind station is currently underway, including consultations with the local population. An application has been lodged for turbines with a hub height of 140 metres and rotor diameter of 99.8 metres, the overall height not to exceed 200 metres."


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    "…[O]utput from the 10MW wind farm will be used in powering the production lines for the BMW i3 and i8 electricity-driven models at Leipzig-Plaussig, which will start to ramp up from the end of 2013.

    "Around 85% of the wind generation is to be used directly at the car works, fed in via the BMW Leipzig factory-site energy-control centre…"

    CHINA SUNERGY, 2Q

    China Sunergy Announces Second Quarter 2011 Financial Results; Missed Shipment Guidance, but Prospects in Emerging Markets Bright
    August 19, 2011 (PR Newswire via Sunergy)

    "China Sunergy Co…a specialized solar cell and module manufacturer…financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2011… reflected lower quarterly shipments, but slightly higher gross margins compared to [company expectations]…

    "Total revenue was US$144.0 million, a 22.4% increase over Q2 2010 but a 13.1% sequential decrease from Q1 2011...Shipments totaled 89.3 MW (87.4 MW of which were solar modules) in the second quarter, representing an 8.9% decrease over Q1 2011."




    "Average selling price (ASP) per watt for the Company's solar modules was US$1.64 per watt…Gross profit decreased to US$3.7 million, a decrease of 84.1% over Q2 2010 and a decrease of 79.2% over Q1 2011.

    "Gross margin was 2.6%. In-house gross margin related to modules produced with the Company's in-house cells was 6.1%...Net losses were US$16.9 million, and net margin was negative 11.7%...Operating cash inflow in the second quarter was US$37.3 million. As of June 30, 2011, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of US$117.4 million…"

    DEEP HEAT IN THE U.S.

    U.S. Geothermal Development: Where do we go from here? Performance of North American geothermal energy stocks and thoughts on the future of the industry
    August 2011 (Islandsbanki Geothermal Energy Research)

    "… On the back of a very substantial drop in the number of new MWs put online in the United States in 2010 (15 MW in 2010 vs. 176 MW in 2009) and a marked decline in the share prices of publicly traded North American geothermal energy companies, the industry seems to be at a crossroads…[but the] benefits of the base-load nature of geothermal energy and its low levelized cost of production are clear, particularly in light of the global re-evaluation of nuclear power following the tragedy in Japan…[and] there are close to 5,000 MWs of projects in various phases of development.

    "The poor share performance of North American listed geothermal energy companies broadly reflects the general state of the sector. Low natural gas prices in the United States have…squeezed the price at which utilities are willing to buy…Operational difficulties with individual projects have resulted in negative news flow…[W]ith high perceived project risk…[it has been] difficult for companies to obtain financing…These challenges, made worse by weak share prices, have raised serious concerns…"


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    "The industry has experienced a [temporary] setback…[but the] fundamentals of geothermal energy remain strong, the predictable high base-load, sustainability, and low levelized production cost. Renewable portfolio standards, introduced by many Western states, should support PPA prices…despite low natural gas prices, while federal government seems poised to enhance its support…

    "…[E]ducating investors on actual risk and the life cycle of a project could have a positive effect on share performance. [L]ow valuations [of geothermal energy stocks] could attract private capital to delist companies or served as a catalyst for consolidation. That could create companies with larger balance sheets, better able to support the high upfront costs…There are several projects nearing significant milestones in the United States which can provide the industry with much needed positive news…[and] create momentum…"

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    CHINA WIND BUSY IN ILLINOIS

    Goldwind to complete Shady Oaks by end-2011
    Ros Davidson, 12 August 2011 (Windpower Monthly)

    "Goldwind USA expects to complete its 106.5MW Shady Oaks wind farm in Illinois by the end of December…[It] will be the first-ever large-scale wind project to be built in the US using Chinese wind turbines. It uses Goldwind’s 1.5MW direct-drive model.

    "…[T]he project will go towards establishing an all-important US service record for Goldwind’s turbines…"


    Goldwind 1.5s at work in China (click to enlarge)

    "If Goldwind, along with partner Mainstream Renewables, completes the project by the end of the year it will meet the target set out when it acquired Shady Oaks in December 2010…At the time of the deal, Mainstream also said construction of the 75-turbine project would start in the second quarter…[T]his is still to happen. Goldwind said the building would ‘begin in mid-august’.

    "Last year, Goldwind USA — with Mainstream — won a competitive bid to provide power from the project from 2012 to 2032 to the utility Commonwealth Edison…In January 2010 Goldwind completed [its first U.S. project,] a 4.5 MW pilot project in Pipestone, Minnesota…"

    DEMAND BETTER THAN PARITY FOR SUN

    The Race To Grid Parity: Which Countries Will Enjoy Cheap Solar First?
    18 August 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "Solar subsidies have been capped, cancelled and cut over the past several years, but solar installations have continued to rise…[BUT] as manufacturers approach near-term limits on cost reductions, German demand will begin to decline…[and] demand will shift to Asia and North America...[The] solar market will grow [from 15.8 GW in 2010 to 37.5 GW in 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 15.5 percent, one report found]…but revenues will stay flat as price declines outpace volume growth.

    "…[S]olar demand will shift to a broader range of markets over the next five years, based on an analysis of the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and internal rate of return (IRR) across 156 countries, states and regions. Japan, China and India will emerge to drive significant volumes, and the U.S. will come forth as a heavyweight, given the government's support of tax equity through 2016 and a myriad of state-level programs…"


    click to enlarge

    "…Today, the most attractive residential markets are Australia (52% subsidized IRR), Greece (32%) and Ontario (27%), while the most attractive commercial markets are New Jersey (42%), Portugal (37%) and Hawaii (34%)…On the utility ground-mount side, Portugal (81%) tops the list, followed distantly by New Jersey (58%) and Cyprus (44%). By 2016, viable investment targets will increase dramatically, encompassing 45 residential markets, 88 commercial markets and 85 utility markets.

    "Subsidies and grid parity are not necessary to generate positive demand...An anticipated future increase in the cost of retail and wholesale power is all that is necessary…[O]f 55 geographies demonstrating unsubsidized IRRs above 10% at the end of 2016, only 10 will have reached grid parity…"

    LITTLE GUYS GET SMARTER FASTER

    Surprising Deployment Developments
    Peter Fox-Penner, August 2011 (IEEE Smart Grid)

    "…It's probably generally assumed…that big investor-owned and public utilities would be first to adopt smart grid technologies. Surely, then, it’s a surprise to some that rural electric cooperatives and a few municipal utilities have turned out to be among the earliest smart meter adopters…

    "In an industry where attention is often focused almost exclusively on investor-owned utilities and their flashy, large scale smart grid rollouts, one might think a smaller customer base and much smaller budgets would hold public power back. Instead, cooperatives are taking advantage of their smaller scale to deploy smart meters in a more personal and customer-focused manner emphasizing consumer education…"


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    "Public power utilities are not only leading the way in adopting smart grid technologies, but are also rapidly becoming innovators. Cooperatives have taken steps to develop new modes of interoperability and 30 percent of them are now integrating their smart meter systems with other data systems, such as outage management systems and customer information systems…

    "Cooperatives currently lead smart meter deployment with 25 percent penetration of their customers' homes—three times higher than the average across all utilities…Half of all cooperatives offer their customers advanced metering infrastructure or advanced metering reading; together they generate 25 percent of U.S. residential peak load reductions, even though they only account for 10 percent of electricity sales…"

    TEXAS SAVED BY WIND, SMART GRID

    Texas Heat Wave: More Demand Response Needed; Texas can do better than barely averting rolling blackouts.
    Katherine Tweed, August 9, 2011 (Greentech Media)

    "…Texas’ power grid set record level power use for three consecutive days [in early August]…The high demand topped off at 68,294 megawatts…The near-peak electricity use continued…with the grid operator ERCOT calling on demand response…despite slightly lower consumption. Wind contributed about 2,000 megawatts during some of the most crucial hours…

    "ERCOT issued a level 2 alert for rolling blackouts, although they were ultimately avoided. The grid survived, but there is still a lot of room for improvement…ERCOT did not call on its demand response services on the record-setting day, but rather the following day when some generation units were offline. ERCOT used about 1,150 MW of responsive reserves…and another 440 MW of emergency interruptible load shed…"


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    "The demand for energy sent prices sky high, topping out at $2,500 per megawatt-hour…more than 50 times the on-peak wholesale average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    "With wind and demand response coming to the rescue, ERCOT and other regions are being buoyed during heat waves by technology and generation enabled by a smarter grid…[It’s] not a win for smart grid, but more like advancing through the early rounds…"

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    UTIL EXEC WANTS NEW ENERGY

    Rising from meter-reader to CEO, Xcel's Dick Kelly has sound perspective on environment
    Don Shelby, August 16, 2011 (Minnesota Post)

    "Dick Kelly will… retire as the CEO of Xcel Energy…[after] working in electricity generation most of his life…[and ending as] CEO of one of the most respected electric utility companies…Coal is the fuel from which most of America's electricity is generated. Kelly has been about the business of driving Xcel to switch coal plants to natural gas, and he's made Xcel the No. 1 provider of wind-produced electricity in the country…"

    [Kelly:] "…We've got to get off fossil fuels…The quicker the better...We have a problem with CO2…The science is done. It is clear that CO2 is not good."

    click to enlarge

    "…Getting into wind in a big way was not a difficult decision for Kelly…[and if] he could stick around another 10 or 20 years, he'd likely put Xcel at the top in electricity production from the sun… Kelly has driven Xcel to exceed the state's mandate on renewable energy…"

    [Kelly:] "…I think one of the misconceptions is that many people believe that wind is just outrageously expensive. Truth is, wind power competes very well with natural gas. The technology is getting better. We are getting a lot more kilowatts out of our windmills now. Even solar has come down 50 percent in the last two years…I'd be OK if there were never any more coal."

    SUN POWER PLANT TO PV

    Another giant solar plant ditches thermal tech for panels
    Ucilia Wang, August 18, 2011 (GigaOm)

    "Yet another massive solar thermal farm in the California desert is ditching the thermal part and opting for solar panels. Solar Trust of America, which has been developing a 1 GW solar farm in California…will use photovoltaic panels (PV) instead of solar thermal technology for the first 500 MW of the project.

    "The change of technology means the company is foregoing the [$2.1 billion federal] loan guarantee and will look for private cash and loans for the project…PV technology offers some advantages that solar thermal doesn’t have in terms of project size and land use choices, which in turn affect a project’s development cost. Solar panel prices…have fallen by more than half in the past two years, making them a more attractive choice for developers…[P]rivate financing for PV projects is readily available."


    click to enlarge

    "Developers of several solar farms in California have already announced plans to switch from solar thermal to PV, including the Calico Solar Project and the Imperial Valley Solar Project. NRG, which has invested in a solar thermal power plant by BrightSource Energy, replaced two solar thermal power plant projects in favor of using solar panels.

    "Solar Trust will ask the federal Bureau of Land Management to amend its permit…[and] keep doing some site preparation work for Blythe, but full-scale construction won’t start until the third quarter of next year…If it had chosen to use solar panels [from the start], then it wouldn’t have had to be under [a costly permitting] review by the energy commission, which oversees solar thermal power plants that are 50 MW or larger…[T]hat task belongs to the counties or cities in which the projects reside…"

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    CHINA WIND CO BOON FROM SHARE BUY-BACK

    China Ming Yang Wind Power To Buy Back Up $50 Mln Of ADSs
    August 15, 2011 (RTT News)

    "China Ming Yang Wind Power Ltd….[said] its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase program, effective immediately, authorizing the company to repurchase up to US$50 million worth of its issued and outstanding American Depositary Shares…The share repurchase program will be funded by the company's available working capital…of about US$265.6 million."



    [Chuanwei Zhang, Chairman/CEO, Ming Yang:] "This program reaffirms our confidence in the long-term growth of the Company…We believe our ADSs are currently undervalued, and the share repurchase program not only represents a good investment for our company, but also demonstrates our commitment to increase shareholder value."

    HALF A BIL FED $$ TO BIOFUELS

    Federal Agencies Commit $510M to Biofuels; The Navy wants biofuels, and it wants them now
    Katherine Tweed, August 16, 2011 (Greentech Media)

    "…The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy have teamed up with the Navy to spend up to $510 million over the next three years to advance drop-in biofuels for aviation and marine applications to power the military.

    "…[L]ast week, the U.S. Army announced the creation of an Energy Initiatives Office to help the agency centrally plan and deploy renewable energy projects. The Army is looking to get 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025."


    click to enlarge

    "The Navy also announced a partnership with the DOE’s research arm, ARPA-E to develop grid-level energy storage. The Navy has set some ambitious clean energy goals for the coming years, including having half of the energy used by the department coming from alternative fuel or alternative sources by 2020...

    "The funding for drop-in biofuels is more than the entire funding that ARPA-E received in 2009, which was about $400 million. The focus on biofuels will certainly reignite the fuel vs. food debate, as there have yet to be commercially competitive fuels from other sources, such as algae…[though the navy] has a deal to get hundreds of thousands gallons of algae fuel from Solazyme…"

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    SUN & THE U.S. BUDGET

    Solar energy policy: Will US budget cuts leave solar in the cold?
    Bob Moser, 12 August 2011 (CSP Today)

    "…The Department of Energy will likely face budget cuts for the coming fiscal year…An initial draft from the House indicated big cuts to solar funding, prompting some in the industry to question whether CSP may lose crucial federal support before it fully finds its legs…

    "…[In the] House Appropriations Committee…budget…DOE's solar program would receive US$176 million altogether, about US$100 million less than what it received for FY2011…[T]hat type of funding cut could seem ominous for CSP research in the US. But DOE and NREL sources…[say] the Congressional budgeting process is so far from complete that it is impossible to predict right now how the solar program will end up…"


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    "The next step in the process would be for the Senate to present its own version of a 2012 budget with funding proposed for agencies like the DOE. Both bills would then have to be reconciled into one final piece of legislation…

    "Within the DOE there has been no indication that the program's funding for CSP in particular would be cut…A lot of factors can determine why certain solar types may get more or less funding…Industry leaders say government contracts offer credibility to CSP programs and researchers with potential investors. While there is no evidence yet of cuts, specifically for CSP funding at research centers like NREL and Sandia National Laboratory, if passed they could have a chilling effect on the flow of private money for the sector…"

    BIG BOOST FROM CHINA F-I-T

    New Government Incentive Delivers Massive Upside to China Solar Market
    Henning Wicht, August 11, 2011 (HIS iSuppli)

    "The Chinese government’s new feed-in-tariff (FIT) incentive program is expected to give a major boost to the country’s solar industry, potentially increasing installations by a combined 1.5 gigawatts (GW) in 2011 and 2012, according to the new IHS iSuppli Photovoltaics (PV) Service report…

    "China’s PV installations previously were expected to amount to 1GW in 2011 and 1.4GW in 2012. However, the FIT could cause installations to increase by 50 percent…Installations in 2012 then could rise by 71.4 percent…[to] 2.4GW… a 1.5GW upside for installations during the two-year period…"


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    "A FIT promotes the use of solar energy by guaranteeing that utility companies will buy excess electricity produced by solar installations at homes and businesses. This helps individuals or organizations to defray the upfront costs of investing in a PV system. Extensive use of FITs has helped Germany to become the world’s leading country for PV…

    "…[The] documentation provided by the government…leaves several unanswered questions…For one, the document doesn’t mention the subsidy period. Furthermore, only a single FIT rate is offered for all PV projects installed in the different regions of China and for all installations methods…Also, the source of subsidy capital may not be sufficient to fund all PV installations…IHS predicts this account will remain in deficit until 2014…Finally, the document doesn’t address the issue of grid connection…"

    INDIA WIND IN ILLINOIS

    Suzlon Set To Open New Wind Power Training Center In Illinois
    Mark Del Franco, 11 August 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "Suzlon, the fifth-largest turbine manufacturer in the world, says it will begin training and safety classes in mid-September, with a grand opening for its new training center set for October.

    "The training center is part of Suzlon's 64,000 square-foot Elgin, Ill.-based central distribution center, which opened in October 2010…[T]he training facility features a powered nacelle atop of a seven-foot tower, which…will help technicians simulate experiences in the field…"


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    "The 8,000 square-foot wind turbine training center will…a 4,000 square-foot lab, a powered independent hub and pitch system, and a working-at-height training area. The wind turbine training facility will also feature a full-length Suzlon blade just outside the building.

    "Meanwhile, the central distribution side of the facility, located near Suzlon's North American headquarters in Chicago, has reduced the original equipment manufacturer's transportation costs…for turbines and related equipment…Suzlon has already saved $1 million…"

    PUTTING MONEY IN SUN

    Make Money in Solar Energy the Easy Way
    Selena Maranjian, August 16, 2011 (Motley Fool via Daily Finance)

    "…If you expect the solar energy industry to thrive as we finally develop alternatives to oil and gas, the Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYS: TAN) could save you a lot of trouble. Instead of trying to figure out which companies will perform best, you can use this ETF to invest in lots of them simultaneously…

    "…The solar ETF's expense ratio -- its annual fee -- is 0.75%, which is a bit on the steep side for an ETF but still lower than many stock mutual funds…This ETF has performed disappointingly so far over the past three years…Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver…With a low turnover rate of 17%, this fund isn't frantically and frequently rejiggering its holdings, as many funds do…"




    "Some of this ETF's components made strong contributions to its performance over the past year. GT Advanced Technologies (NAS: GTAT) gained 47% and recently reported strong growth…Other companies pulled the ETF's return down last year, but could have a positive effect in the years to come. Chinese wafer maker ReneSola (NYS: SOL)…with fellow wafer and cell suppliers LDK Solar and JA Solar (NAS: JASO)…[face] some pressure as global demand isn't growing as rapidly as expected…

    "Demand for solar energy is likely to grow ... eventually. If you think solar energy's time is coming soon, consider a solar ETF like this one. A well-chosen ETF can grant you instant diversification across the industry -- and make investing in and profiting from the sector that much easier."

    BRYCE BUNGLES WIND FACTS

    Fact check: Bryce whiffs on wind power and Texas heat wave
    August 12, 2011 (Into The Wind)

    "…Robert Bryce… may want to check in with the company that operates the Texas utility system to get his facts straight…[T]he Texas system operator, ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas), has been very clear that wind energy was the crucial factor keeping the lights and AC on for hundreds of thousands of Texans during last week's power shortages…

    "… [Trip Doggett, ERCOT CEO] said… recently installed coastal wind farms — as opposed to the larger West Texas wind generation — provided crucial power at just the right time…[as] unexpected failures at around 20 fossil-fired power plants cut approximately 5-7% of the generating capacity the grid operator had been planning to use…"


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    "…[A] similar event occurred back in February, when around 80 mostly fossil-fired power plants experienced unexpected outages due to cold weather, which caused the lights and heat to go out for millions of Texans. Luckily wind energy output was there to save the day, keeping the lights on for around a million Texas households. If Mr. Bryce weren't on the payroll of the Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries-funded Manhattan Institute, he might have shown more thanks for wind energy keeping his lights on twice now in recent months.

    "… Mr. Bryce's prescription for using more fossil-fired power plants instead of wind would have actually made Texas's power system less reliable…[W]ind energy is currently beating fossil fuel energy 2-0…"

    DOI APPROVES GIANT PV PLANT

    550 MW Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Receives Approval From Secretary Salazar
    11 August 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, a 550 MW solar PV project to be built in the California desert east of Palm Springs. The decision authorizes the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer Desert Sunlight Holdings a right-of-way grant to use these public lands for 30 years…

    "The solar facility will create more than 630 jobs at peak construction and infuse an estimated $336 million into the local economy…"


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    "Located on approximately 4,100 acres of public lands, the project will be developed and operated by Desert Sunlight Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of First Solar Inc. The facility will use First Solar's thin film technology. An on-site substation and a 230 kV generation tie line will connect the project to the Red Bluff substation, which will convert the power from 230 kV to 500 kV for transmission on Southern California Edison's regional grid.

    "The Desert Sunlight project underwent extensive environmental review and mitigation…The proposed project's total footprint was reduced from 19,000 acres down to 4,144 acres…[and] BLM is requiring that Desert Sunlight provide funding for acquisition and enhancement of more than 7,500 acres of suitable habitat for desert tortoise and other sensitive wildlife species to help mitigate the project's potential impacts…[T]he U.S. Department of Energy granted Desert Sunlight a conditional commitment of a $1.88 billion loan guarantee."

    WIND PROTECTING BIRDS

    Birds and blades: cutting the losses
    Jason Deign, 15 August 2011 (Wind Energy Update)

    "Recent data indicates that wind turbines account for just one out of every 10,000 bird deaths…If a turbine is sited on a migration path, however, or on a route used by birds or bats between roosts and feeding sites, it can become a serious cause of wildlife mortality. Moving at speeds in the order of 90 metres a second, rotor tips knock birds out of the air before they can react.

    "Bats appear to have even greater trouble with turbines, even though they use echolocation that, in theory, can help them avoid fast-moving objects…[E]xperts believe the sound and pale colour of rotors may attract insects at night, which increases the chances of bat strikes."


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    "…Reports published by [the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the American Wind Energy Association] indicate that while turbine bird and bat kills can and do occur anywhere, two wind farm developments in particular have given the industry a bad reputation in this respect…the California Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area…[and two
    installations in Spain’s] Campo de Gibraltar mountains have affected bird populations…

    "In both cases the turbines involved were older designs which are thought to be harder for birds to avoid, and were sited on obvious avian flight paths. But their impact on the industry has been significant…[because] scaremongering is rarely based on fact…So the message for wind farm operators is that they need to do their homework before selecting a site…"

    SUN STORAGE BREAKTHROUGH

    Solar thermal storage: MIT breakthrough on solar triggered, reversible heat storage
    Rikki Stancich, 12 August 2011 (CSP Today)

    "…Rather than storing solar energy as heat, [Jeff Grossman] and Alexie Kolpak at MIT have developed a method of storing energy in a chemical form, by combining a compound called azobenzene with tiny tubular structures of pure carbon (carbon nanotubes) to produce a material capable of reversibly storing solar energy…"

    [Professor Jeff Grossman, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:] “…[The] carbon nanotube serves as a template for the azobenzene molecules, making the pack together on the surface of the nanotube…in a way they would not normally order, either in a liquid or a solid phase…[It] gives us the opportunity to control the photochemistry of the azobenzene molecule in completely new ways…[and] turn this ordinary chromophore into an appealing material for solar thermal fuels.”

    (from Grossman/Kolpak - click to enlarge)

    [Professor Jeff Grossman, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:] “…[The] resulting fuel is transportable and can be made to store the energy for long periods of time (even years). Until it is ‘activated’ the molecule will simply remain in its excited state, not releasing any of the energy…”

    [Professor Jeff Grossman, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:] “…The density of energy storage in the fuel is about the same as the best lithium ion batteries, but of course it should be noted that this fuel is also rechargeable by sunlight. The same material both converts and stores energy, and our predictions show that it could do so for >10^4 cycles…”

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    SHALE GAS ‘OMINOUS’

    You Think Contaminated Water is All You’ve Got to Worry About with Fracking? Think Again.
    August 12, 2011 (Natural Gas Watch)

    "The natural gas industry has embraced hydraulic fracturing, or fracking…[But] there are legitimate concerns…To date, most of those concerns have centered around the potential for water contamination…[A] recent report from researchers at Duke University linked hydraulic fracturing to increased methane content in well water.

    "But the potential fallout from fracking operations doesn’t end at the water table.
    An assessment of the potential impact that natural gas development will have on the communities located within the Marcellus Shale play states that the affect will be nothing less than, 'ominous.'"


    Note all the heavy vehicles needed for fracking (click to enlarge)

    "The assessment, a confidential document not meant for public distribution, was done by the New York State Department of Transportation and intended to be used by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as they make policy decisions about the extent to which hydraulic fracturing will, or will not, be permitted…"

    [From the assessment:] “…the Marcellus region will see a peak year increase of up to 1.5-million heavy truck trips, and induced development may increase peak hour trips by 36,000 trips/hour…[I]t will be necessary to reconstruct hundreds of miles of roads and scores of bridges and undertake safety and operational improvements…The annual costs to undertake these transportation projects are estimated to range from $90 to $156 million for State roads and from $121-$222 million for local roads. There is no mechanism in place allowing State and local governments to absorb these additional transportation costs…”

    U.S. SUN BRIGHT

    Price Collapse Stimulates US PV Market Growth in 2H’11…; US to Reach 12% Global Market Share by 2015
    August 9, 2011 (Solarbuzz)

    "Despite a struggling domestic economy, the US solar photovoltaic (PV) market will double in 2011, according to the latest Solarbuzz® United States PV Market Report. 2011 growth rates vary significantly by market segment, an outcome of the vast movements in incentives and policies at the federal, state and local government level over the past 12 months…

    "The US is forecast to become the third-largest solar photovoltaic market, behind Germany and Italy in 2011. While the US currently comprises 5% of the world PV market, Solarbuzz projects an increase to 12% by 2015…"


    (from Solarbuzz - click to enlarge)

    "US growth in solar has been supported by a combination of incentives and policies instituted at the federal, state and local levels. At the federal level, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the Treasury Cash Grants continue to play an important role…At the state level, among various policies, Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are driving the expansion of the utilities segment, which increased from 17% of the on-grid PV market in 2009 to 31% in 2010.

    "In 2010, California still dominated the US PV market…Following California were New Jersey, Arizona and Colorado. Newcomers to the state top 10 list in 2010 included Nevada, Pennsylvania and New Mexico…Most of the states in the top 10 list incorporated drivers such as state RPS and compliance methods (including RFQs, rebate incentives, and REC financing) that influenced the dynamics and deployment of the market…"

    WIND WINS IOWA STRAW POLL

    Candidates at straw poll sign names to giant wind blade; Six GOP presidential hopefuls join leading Iowa Republicans in endorsing wind energy
    August 13, 2011 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Thaddeus McCotter joined Iowa’s leading Republicans and hundreds of straw poll voters in covering a 130-foot wind turbine blade with signatures at the entrance to the Iowa straw poll…

    "Gingrich called wind a piece of his American energy program, and said he favors a 10-year extension of the PTC [production tax credit], to avoid the ‘up-and-down effect’ on renewable energy development when the policy changes…"


    Governor Romney signs the blade.(from AWEA - click to enlarge)

    [Gingrich] “If you’re going to have tax credits that are designed to create investment, they have to have a long enough time horizon that people who invest believe that they’ll be there...”

    "U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a leader in getting the Production Tax Credit for renewable energy extended from 2003 through 2012, also signed the blade. He said that considering the U.S. currently spends $830 million a day on foreign oil, we need an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that includes wind…"

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    GORE SPEAKS OUT AGAINST DENIERS

    Al Gore and the rant heard round the Web
    Deborah Netburn, August 9, 2011 (LA Times)

    "…[F]ormer vice president and onetime presidential candidate [Al Gore] is still passionate about politics and climate change. Last week, he let loose with an expletive-laden rant that he didn't know was being recorded…Gore's anger was directed at the big money used by some corporations to manipulate the media…[H]e said the same people who worked on the tobacco campaign are working to confuse the climate change issue…"


    From TheZenoEffect via YouTube

    "...Gore made the remarks at the Aspen Institute in Colorado…[He] spoke for about an hour and…among the topics were the history of communications, research in neurobiology and citizen participation in government…Normally these meetings are private and not for attribution. However, this one was being streamed not to his knowledge…The participants at the meeting were generally impressed by his range of knowledge and willingness to answer questions…"

    NEW ENERGY BEATS NUCLEAR

    Ranking of renewable energy and nuclear energy use varies by sector
    August 1, 2011 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    "Consumption of primary energy derived from renewables recently exceeded current and historical consumption levels for nuclear energy. In the short term, nuclear outages coincided with the start of the high-water season for hydropower generation in March 2011, pushing renewable energy consumption past that of nuclear. The multi-year upward trend in renewable consumption is driven by increasing consumption of biofuels and wind capacity additions…"

    click to enlarge

    "Renewable energy consumption encompasses more than just electric power generation from hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal sources. Other major sources of renewable energy include biofuels for transportation (such as ethanol and biodiesel) and biomass (such as wood and wood wastes) for space heating and industrial steam production as well as for electric power generation…"

    U.S. NEW ENERGY GETS A GENTLEMAN’S C

    Doerr Gives U.S. a ‘C’ for Alternative-Energy
    Ari Levy, August 3, 2011 (Bloomberg News)

    "John Doerr, head of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’s alternative-energy practice [and member of the White House Council on Jobs], said he would give the U.S. a C grade for development of green technology, which trails innovation in Internet and biotechnology.

    "His grade would have been a D or F without $20 billion in loan guarantees for clean-energy projects under President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan and collaborative work between the government and private sector, Doerr said…"


    click to enlarge

    "Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill provided tax breaks and other incentives to projects such as those focused on developing alternative sources of energy, modernizing the electricity grid and creating advanced batteries…[but] the marketplace has been slow to emerge because of a lack of privately funded research and development, and the failure of the financial markets to support the industry, Doerr said…

    "…The U.S. spends more money on potato chips than clean energy research and development…[but there] are some positive signs, Doerr said. Automakers last week agreed to double the fuel economy of the vehicles they sell in the U.S. to a fleetwide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025…"

    TRUMP VS. OCEAN WIND

    Scottish 100MW offshore project opposed by Donald Trump
    10 August 2011 (Windpower Monthly)

    "A Vattenfall-led consortium has filed for consent to build an 11-turbine offshore project off the Scottish coast. However, the project is set to be opposed by US entrepreneur Donald Trump…

    "The project is owned by Aberdeen Offshore Wind Ltd, a company owned 75% by Vattenfall and 25% by Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) to test and demonstrate up to 11 next-generation offshore wind turbines and other technology in Aberdeen Bay."


    click to enlarge

    "However, Trump's organisation — which is planning to build a £750 million housing and golf course complex nearby — has said it will oppose the plans. The wind farm would be located 1.5 miles from the coast…Trump plans to open the golf course at the 500 hectare estate next July…

    "Coincidentally, Trump's plans have faced much opposition from local residents who believe his development will harm the environment."

    GE INVESTS IN SOLAR POWER TOWER

    GE Makes Additional Investment In Concentrating Solar Power Company eSolar
    9 August 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "eSolar, a developer of modular concentrating solar power technology, says that in addition to its licensing agreement with GE Energy, GE has closed a new strategic investment in the company.

    "As part of the deal, Paul Browning, president and CEO of thermal products for GE Energy, will join the eSolar board of directors."


    An eSolar installation with a GE turbine (click to enlarge)

    "…GE was granted exclusive worldwide rights to eSolar's modular technology for integrated solar combined-cycle plants, excluding China and India. Together the two companies are targeting Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the U.S., and are working on a 530 MW project in Turkey…

    "This project will feature 50 MW of eSolar concentrated solar power tower technology integrated with GE's new FlexEfficiency 50 Combined Cycle Power Plant."

    PV POWER PLANTS, ENVIROS AGREE

    First Solar, SunPower Reach Agreement With Environmental Groups On Solar Farms
    August 9, 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "The Sierra Club, the Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, Topaz Solar Farms LLC (a subsidiary of First Solar) and SunPower Corp. have reached a settlement regarding two solar photovoltaic power plant projects in development in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.

    "The agreement calls for the project developers to provide additional conservation protections for wildlife in the area of the 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch project and the 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm…[M]ore than 9,000 acres will be added to the 17,000 acres of land required to be permanently protected and preserved under the permits, resulting in a total of approximately 26,000 acres, or about 40 square miles, of the Carrizo Plain receiving protection…"


    The Carrizo Plain (click to enlarge)

    "Thirty miles of fencing will be removed from the area, allowing for greater wildlife movement…Additional beneficial enhancements will be made to the wildlife-friendly fencing around the solar system arrays…[N]o rodenticides will be used in the construction or operation of the projects, and the solar companies will help fund efforts to eliminate rodenticides on the Carrizo Plain…[and] Topaz and SunPower will make additional significant financial contributions…for wildlife conservation.

    "California Gov. Jerry Brown, whose office had facilitated the discussions, hailed the signing of the agreement…"

    BIG RETURNS FROM CLEAN CARS

    Supplying Ingenuity; U.S. Suppliers of Clean, Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Technologies
    August 9, 2011 (Natural Resources Defense Council)

    "U.S. suppliers of clean, fuel efficient vehicle technologies can play a key role in the expansion of the auto industry in America and foster significant job growth. As the United States recovers from the recent global economic turmoil, the automotive industry is again becoming profitable. Consumers, however, are still reeling from financial pressures, and want cars and light trucks that travel farther on a gallon of fuel and save them money at the pump. The auto industry is meeting this demand by using new, innovative technologies that simultaneously improve fuel economy and cut carbon pollution."

    click to enlarge

    "The first significant advances in fuel economy standards for both cars and light trucks in more than 20 years coupled with the first-ever carbon pollution standards (which apply to models built in 2012 to 2016) are fomenting formidable changes in the automotive industry. Further changes in these standards, currently under consideration by the Obama Administration, will have an even more dramatic impact on the future direction and competitiveness of the auto industry in the United States, and, indeed, on the economic growth of the entire country."

    WIND IN IOWA’S STRAW POLL

    Iowa Straw Poll to shine spotlight on the economic power of wind; Wind now generates 20 percent of Iowa's electricity
    August 10, 2011 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "As the nation's eyes turn to the Hawkeye State for this weekend's Iowa Straw Poll in the Republican presidential race, they will catch a glimpse of what wind power has already done for Iowans—from providing 20 percent of the state's electricity to creating a new manufacturing sector—and what wind power can do for America…

    "…[S]ince adopting the first renewable electricity standard in 1983…these people who know wind power the best are big fans…A full 81 percent of Iowa voters believe that the growth of the wind industry has been good for Iowa's economy…[and] Iowa voters chose wind, by a 3-to-1 margin, as their preferred energy source to power their state…"


    Iowa is a giant in the wind world (click to enlarge)

    "…[O]ver 200 wind-related businesses now operate in 56 Iowa counties adding over $5 billion to the Iowa economy…In 2010 alone, wind farm owners paid $16.5 million in property taxes and an additional $11 million in land lease payments to property owners…

    "…Iowa illustrates for the rest of America the breadth of economic benefits from wind: manufacturing activity, tax revenue for rural areas that often need it most, and steady revenue streams for farmers, who operate in a notoriously high-risk business environment…"

    GETTING A GOOD F-I-T

    How to Design Feed-in Tariffs in the USA without Fear of Federal Preemption
    Paul Gipe, August 10, 2011 (Wind-Works)

    "…[I]n the seemingly endless debate about what states can and can't do in designing workable feed-in tariffs…two new papers describing how states can design feed-in tariff policies without running afoul of the US government's power of preemption [offer an answers]…

    "Written by Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) scholar and expert on feed-in tariffs Jennifer Gleason,
    the two papers explain the arcane rules derived from the US Constitution and the Federal Power Act. The papers, written for feed-in tariff advocates the Alliance for Renewable Energy, bring the discussion up-to-date with recent favorable decisions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)."

    click to enlarge

    "Opponents of feed-in tariffs in the USA have often hidden behind the skirts of FERC, citing restrictions in the Federal Power Act, to stymie action. Akin to the FUD tactics of Big Tobacco in the smoking wars, opponents sought to sow Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt that feed-in tariffs, like those used in Canada and Europe, could be implemented in the USA.

    "In October of last year, FERC blasted open the door to fully differentiated feed-in tariffs in the USA…ELAW's Gleason explains what the decision means and describes the options states can choose in designing feed-in tariff policies that comply with the US Constitution and federal law…While not recommending a specific recipe or model feed-in tariff law, Gleason's papers provide the legal foundation necessary…"

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    CHINA INTROS F-I-T

    Chinese manufacturers winners under China’s FIT
    Jonathan Gifford, 6 August 2011 (PV Magazine)

    "…[A]nalyst opinion is that the Chinese tier-one manufacturers stand to gain the most [from the government’s newly announced national photovoltaic feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme]…[It will be funded by the Chinese Government’s Renewable Energy Development Fund (REDF) and] will be applied at two rates. The first will be 1.15 Renminbi per kilowatt hour (rmb/kWh) (US$0.18) that will be paid for projects approved before July 1 and completed by the end of the year. The second rate will be one rmb/kWh (US$.156/kWh)…

    "…[D]etails of the Chinese FIT scheme [are not certain but] some analysts immediately revised up their predictions for 2011 installed capacity…However, some photovoltaic market analysts offer a word of caution as to the short-term impact of the FIT announcement…[There is a] decided lack of detail as to project volumes and how they will affect the FIT rates…"


    click to enlarge

    "Where there genuinely appears to be no doubt is that Chinese tier one manufacturers [such as Yingli, JA Solar, Suntech and Trina] are ideally placed to profit from the Chinese FIT…[T]he Chinese FIT rates may seem meager…[but] high sunlight levels in certain parts of the country, low labor costs for installation…cheap or even free land for power plant sites…[and lower-priced] Chinese made modules …[make] investing in Chinese photovoltaic plants [seem] attractive and profitable under the FIT Scheme…

    "…[P]redictions for Chinese installations now stand at around 1.3 GW in 2011, rising to 2.5 GW next year and eventually growing to 5 GW to 10 GW in 2015. These middle term progressions span a very wide range…What is certain and many analysts agree on, is that many parts of the photovoltaic industry are watching China closely."

    LA TIMES WRONG ON WIND

    Fact check: Los Angeles Times misleads on safety in wind industry
    Tom Gray, August 5, 2011 (Into The Wind)

    "…[T]he Los Angeles Times published another article…with a variety of misleading allegations [about wind]…[L]ike the ones before it, relied on uninformed speculation by people who oppose wind farms, rather than knowledgeable experts. The biased results show a lack of understanding of how federal and state officials regulate workplace safety, and the strict standards already in place. Nor were all the proactive safety efforts at wind projects recognized…

    "Rhetoric: Accidents involving wind turbines have increased in the last decade…Facts: AWEA is not aware of any member of the American public having been harmed by a wind turbine. Training and education are paramount in the wind industry…As the article notes, reported on-the-job accidents involving workers peaked in 2008."


    A man doesn't do this work without every provision for his safety and wind's safety record is enviable, having not despoiled any ecosystems or irradiated any oceans. (click to enlarge)

    "Rhetoric: ‘One of these days, a turbine's going to fall on someone,’ says a spokesperson for a national anti-wind group…Facts: There are more than 50,000 operating wind turbines in the U.S., and some have been in place for nearly 30 years. None has ever fallen on anyone, and the odds of it happening are minuscule, because one of the factors in siting a wind turbine is setbacks for public safety…

    "Rhetoric: Wind turbine accidents have increased over the past decade…Facts: It’s certainly possible that overall accidents have increased in number, but that fact alone does not equal a poor safety record—the industry has been growing rapidly, and the total amount of wind generating capacity operating in the U.S. today is roughly 15 times what it was at the end of the year 2000…The moral is simple: Anti-wind groups are not a reliable source of objective information, and repeating what they say without some serious fact-checking is not going to lead to credible journalism."

    DEBT AND NEW ENERGY

    U.S. Debt Deal Kills Off Prospects of Renewable-Power Support
    Jim Efstathiou Jr. and Christopher Martin, August 5, 2011 (Bloomberg News)

    "U.S. government support for renewable energy may plunge from record levels, setting back the use of wind and solar power before they can compete on their own with oil, gas and coal…Direct spending, tax breaks and research funding pushed federal renewable-energy subsidies to [a record] $14.7 billion in 2010 [up from $5.12 billion in 2007]…

    "The deal on a debt-limit increase that Congress and President Barack Obama struck to avert a U.S. default would result in at least $2.1 trillion in spending cuts…Additional savings of at least $1.2 trillion would come from enactment of a deficit-reduction bill…"


    New Energy was finally getting its due - and then came the debt bill (click to enlarge)

    "The Treasury Department has paid out $7.78 billion in grants to developers of wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy under an incentive that was created in the stimulus bill and lapses at the end of the year…Subsidies are expected to decline beginning this year, and will fall 77 percent by 2016…

    "…[U]nless Congress approves an extension…[the] production tax credit, used mainly by wind- farm developers, runs out at the end of 2012. The investment tax credit, which goes primarily to solar and geothermal projects, ends in 2016…Other subsidies for energy, which go both to renewable sources and oil and gas, may also be targeted by the congressional debt-reduction panel…"

    HOW CALIF GETS 33%

    Assessing California's Chances For Meeting Its 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard
    Matthew Gray, 4 August 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "…Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., signed into law Senate Bill 2, which increases the statutory renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in California to 33% by the year 2020 - up from a goal of 20% by the year 2010…[The] 20% RPS applied only to large investor-owned utilities (IOUs), community choice aggregators and electric service providers. For the first time, S.B.2 extends the new 33% RPS to cover publicly owned utilities…[providing] additional independent demand for renewable energy…

    "The new law also recognizes the ongoing challenge of providing electricity from renewable energy resources at affordable rates. It provides for retail sellers to assemble a balanced portfolio of electricity products from various eligible renewable energy resources, including limited amounts from less expensive out-of-state resources…[but] in the final compliance period - from Dec. 31, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2020 - no less than 75% of procurement shall consist of renewable energy sourced in the state…"


    click to enlarge

    "California is likely to be the largest consumer of renewables for a long time to come…Can the new standard be met? California's progress toward meeting the prior 20% RPS standard is good evidence that the new 33% standard is attainable…[T]he large investor-owned utilities reported that they served 17.9% of their electricity with RPS-eligible generation in 2010. Thus, California is zeroing in…

    "…[T]here is a substantial amount of additional renewable energy capacity - much of it large, utility-scale solar - that has been approved but it is not yet online…If those projects can successfully make their way from approval through development, they will make significant progress toward meeting the new 33% by 2020 standard…But the more aggressive 33% RPS does pose significant challenges for California. It will require a massive amount of additional, new renewable power generation and transmission, requiring substantial investment in new project sites and facilities…Brown says that a 40% standard is within California's grasp…"

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    FIGHTING OVER LA SUN

    LADWP's Revived Solar Program Sparks More Industry Backlash
    Jessica Lillian. 4 August 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has received approval from the Board of Water and Power Commissioners to relaunch its [Solar Photovoltaic Incentive Program], with several modifications. The LADWP says it will resume accepting applications for solar incentives starting Sept. 1 at 10:00 a.m PDT.

    "The new plan incorporates input received from the public and the solar sector at a series of workshops…The program has been closed since April 9, when it was abruptly halted… to allow the utility to [catch up with a backlog]…[T]he revamped program will utilize an online automated application tool called PowerClerk, which is designed to streamline the process and increase transparency."


    LA wants renewables, not this DWP-driven bickering (click to enlarge)

    "However, although program funding was expanded to $60 million, as planned, incentive levels have been reduced - generating immediate outcry among local solar firms…The payment changes…reduce by 30% the rate for homeowners who purchase…and reduce by 40% for those who lease…These reductions ‘all but eliminate the economic benefits of solar for most homeowners’ and ‘stifle’ this critical local solar market…

    "The solar payback period for LADWP customers will now reach as long as 14 years under the new system - more than 40% longer than elsewhere in the state…Solar lease holders - who constitute the majority of rooftop PV growth in Los Angeles - and the companies that serve them are expected to feel particularly severe economic pain… LADWP maintains that its new PV incentive rates…[follow the California Solar Initiative and] existing solar markets and…[have] a reasonable payback period…"

    SIEMENS DOMINATES OCEAN WIND

    Siemens secures order for sixth offshore-wind power plant in Germany; First time that private equity company invests in Siemens-offshore-wind power plant
    4 August 2011 (Siemens)

    "Siemens Energy has secured another order for an offshore wind power plant in Germany.

    "For the [288 MW total capacity] project Meerwind Süd and Meerwind Ost the company will deliver 80 wind turbines with a capacity of 3.6 Megawatt (MW) and a rotor diameter of 120 meters each…[TO] WindMW GmbH (WindMW)… [C]ommissioning [will be] in 2013…For Siemens this is the sixth order for an offshore wind power plant in German waters."


    click to enlarge

    "Electricity from offshore wind power plants is soon expected to make a major contribution toward eco-friendly power supply in Germany, just as in other countries like the UK. Excellent wind conditions with high average wind speeds open up tremendous potential. By 2030, wind power plants with total capacity between 20,000 and 25,000 MW will be operating off Germany’s coasts…

    "…[T]his is the sixth order for the construction of an offshore wind power plant for Siemens in Germany…[It] is the world’s largest supplier to the offshore market. At the end of the year 2010, there were almost 700 Siemens-wind turbines with a capacity of over 1,900 MW in operation...[Siemens also] has confirmed orders for about 4 Gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power plants…"

    ON U.S. NEW ENERGY SPENDING

    Are We Investing Enough in Clean Energy?
    Andy Mannle, August 4, 2011 (Huffington Post)

    "…[The] US Department of Energy announced loans and guarantees of $32 billion, including over $10 billion for solar projects…A group of 11 wealthy US families formed The Cleantech Syndicate to invest $1.4 billion in renewable energy companies over the next five years.

    "Google and SolarCity created a $280 million fund to provide solar panel leases and ppas to households - the largest residential solar financing scheme to date…BofA and partners are financing $2.6 billion in commercial rooftop solar arrays -- the largest distributed solar deal in history…GE announced a $600 million investment to manufacture solar panels -- in a factory slated to be the largest in the US."


    click to enlarge

    "…[T]here's no doubt that billions of dollars are flowing into this market from government, private investors, banks and major corporations…[But] is it enough?

    "Is it enough to stimulate the economy? Is it enough to combat climate change? Is it even enough to keep up with China?..."

    EFFECTS OF A NEW ENERGY STANDARD

    What Should a Federal Clean Energy Standard Look Like? The Congressional Budget Office weighs in.
    Katherine Tweed, August 4, 2011 (Greentech Media)

    "It’s going to be wind and biomass, and it’s going to cost some money…[according to The Results of Renewable or Clean Electricity Standards] from the Congressional Budget Office…

    "…[T]he CBO assessed seven different scenarios for the standards. The study found that, depending on the structure of the policy, such as whether non-renewables (natural gas) would be worth partial credits or if alternative compliance payments were allowed, there were very different outcomes. But any national standard, the authors argued, would be better than the state-by-state approach that is currently happening…"


    click to enlarge

    "Electricity prices would increase in nearly every region for each scenario, whether it’s a CES or RES and whether or not there are alternative compliance payments. The increase, however, averages around 2 percent to 4 percent more than what customers pay now, which is less than an extra cent per kilowatt-hour…"

    "The overlap of state and federal policies would be problematic, but [workable]…
    Any successful scheme would have to include unrestricted trading where credits are bought and sold by utilities independently of electricity generation…Including options, such as natural gas-fired plants or even certain energy efficiency measures would help meet more stringent standards…[A]lternative options could be worth just a fraction of a credit compared to wind or solar…Neither an RES nor a CES will be as effective as a cap-and-trade program…"

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    WHERE CLIMATE CHANGE IS

    In Your Backyard: Climate Change Will Worsen Extreme Heat, Flood and Drought Frequency, Air Pollution and Infectious Disease Threats; State-by-state analysis unveiled in new NRDC web tool
    August 3, 2011 (Natural Resources Defense Council)

    "Climate change is expected to lead to worsening drought conditions and greater heat extremes, increased threats of Dengue Fever, drought, floods, air pollution and myriad health problems, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    "A
    new web tool unveiled by NRDC lets users read how their state might be impacted by climate change…[U]sers can see local data and maps detailing extreme weather patterns throughout the country, see local climate change vulnerabilities and learn about health problems in their own communities that are connected to climate change."

    click thru for all the interactive maps

    "Based on an analysis of data gathered from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other resources…the NRDC web tool compares temperature data in each state from 2000 through 2009 to local temperatures from 1961 to 1990. Users can see that residents of the western United States experienced more days of extreme heat than in previous decades and frequent drought conditions from 2000 through 2009.

    "Extreme heat can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease, while drought can lead to lower crop yields and contaminated drinking water. Many communities do not have plans in place to address these problems…The tool also highlights areas with unhealthy air quality…in 41 percent of states (21 of 51) …Exposure to increased smog, pollen pollution, and wildfire smoke puts a wide range of people at risk…But people with asthma, allergies, and other respiratory diseases face the most serious threats…"

    WIND BOUNCES BACK

    Wind rebounds in 2Q, but continued growth depends on consistent tax policy;
    Iowa hits 20 percent wind power

    August 4, 2011 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "U.S. wind energy continued to rebound in the second quarter, with 2,151 megawatts (MW) of electrical generating capacity installed in the first half of 2011 versus 1,250 MW during the same time in 2010, up 72 percent.

    "However, analysts at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) cautioned that without stable policy such as an extension of the Production Tax Credit, set to expire in 2012, the industry's recovery will stall…[L]ayoffs and even bankruptcies in American manufacturing plants and the supply chain…will only worsen if Congress…[allows the Production Tax Credit] to expire…"


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    "The fast-growing wind sector averaged 3.2 percent of the nation's electricity over the strong wind months between January and April 2011…For now, wind energy remains ahead of schedule to generate 20 percent of America's electricity by 2030…7,354 MW of new capacity was under construction by July 1, more than at any time since the third quarter of 2008…[and] the comparative stability in U.S. tax policy has helped to steadily increase the level of content that's made in America…from 25 percent just a few years ago to… 60 percent domestic content according to a July 2011 DOE report…

    "The U.S. industry during the second quarter installed 1,033 megawatts (MW) of electrical generating capacity versus 709 MW during the same period last year, up 46 percent…California installed the most...Over 2,500 MW of new construction were started during the second quarter, almost three times more new construction than began during the first quarter…Iowa wind has reached the milestone of generating 20 percent of the state's electricity from January to April 2011…The U.S. wind industry now totals 42,432 MW of cumulative wind capacity…"