NewEnergyNews More: October 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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Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Sunday, October 30, 2011

    DISTRIBUTED PV TO BOOM

    Distributed Solar Energy Generation; Demand Drivers and Barriers, Technology Issues, Competitive Landscape, and Global Market Forecasts
    4Q 2011 (Pike Research)

    "Solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was added in more than 100 countries during 2010. The distributed solar PV market is dominated by residential and commercial grid-connected PV systems and is concentrated in regions with favorable financial incentives, such as premium feed-in tariffs (FITs) including Germany, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Japan, the United States (led by California), and Canada (led by Ontario)…

    "…Europe will continue to be the largest market for distributed solar PV during this forecast period…China and India’s growing economies and high percentages of population without access to electricity represent large market opportunities."


    click to enlarge

    "Consumer demand for distributed systems is growing…[T]he cost of PV modules [continues to fall]…Combined with innovative financing and leasing options, third-party and utility ownership models, and highly-effective feed-in tariff programs, solar PV is expanding faster than most expected…

    "…[T]he solar PV market is all about cost, which is good for consumers and installers, but brutal for manufacturers. Costs are expected to continue their rapid decline as Chinese crystalline silicon manufacturers gain market share and thin-film increases in efficiency. Pike Research forecasts almost $600 billion in revenues throughout the distributed solar PV value chain during the period between 2011 and 2015…"

    PAYING FOR OFFSHORE WIND

    Offshore Wind Project Finance 101: Learning From Europe's Example
    Mark Del Franco, 25 October 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "Historically, European offshore wind projects were balance-sheet financed, typically by large utilities. However, several recent European offshore wind deals have been project financed, which could signal good news for U.S. developers seeking financing for offshore wind projects…Eight offshore wind deals have been project financed…[T]he 288 MW Meerwind project in the North Sea…was backed by U.S. investor Blackstone…

    "Balance-sheet financing does have some clear advantages - namely, fewer parties involved, less risk and a cheaper cost of capital…However, project financing has become increasingly common, because it can reduce the amount of capital needed from an offshore wind project's sponsor, thus insulating the sponsor from risk…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[B]ecause more non-utility investors are willing to invest in offshore wind, they typically need to employ the project-finance model because they lack the deep pockets of, for example, a major European utility…[A]bout 30 banks have demonstrated an appetite for risk when it comes to offshore wind projects…[And] the offshore wind market has been strengthened by participation from…the major turbine manufacturers…

    "…[T]he structure of the construction contracts, equipment supply agreements, warranties and service agreements…[as well as] what information is required for due diligence and risk allocation for offshore wind [has been settled in Europe]…[I]nformation contained in engineering and insurance reports - as well as risk allocation for weather risk, availability/performance risk during operation, and grid interruption risk - form the underpinning of the deal analysis, pricing and structuring…"

    WHAT MAKES SOMETHING ‘WINDMADE’

    WindMade reveals certification criteria for clean power company label
    13 October 2011 (WindMade)

    "…WindMade launched the technical standard for the first global consumer label for companies and organisations to buy wind power and other clean renewable energy. The label is backed by the UN Global Compact, WWF, Vestas Wind Systems, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the LEGO Group, Bloomberg and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    "…[T]he WindMade standard allows interested entities to apply for use of the label to communicate the share of wind power and other renewable sources in their overall power consumption demand…"


    click thru for more info

    "The WindMade Standard specifies the requirements for the use of the WindMade label, requiring participating companies to source a minimum of 25 percent of their electricity consumption from wind power…

    "…The wind energy share can be procured through a company-owned wind power generation facility, a long-term Power Purchase Agreement for wind power, or the purchase of high quality Renewable Energy Certificates approved by WindMade. The exact percentage of the wind energy share will be stated on the label…"

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    LIVING WITH FRACKING

    Fracked: A Personal Account of Living on the Shale
    Libby Foust, October 26, 2011 (The Clean.Org)

    "Nothing can prepare a person for the reality of high-volume "fracking"; certainly not the coaxing of suave salesmen who convince landowners to sign leases by telling them that they've won ‘the natural gas sweepstakes.’ And certainly not their description of benign completed gas wells that stand in green meadows, silently pumping money out of the ground.

    "When the frackers come, they arrive like an invading army…Trucks by the hundreds, tankers, dump trucks, drilling rigs, fracking rigs. Five-acre drilling pads were bulldozed in the middle of farmers' best fields, million-gallon ponds were installed, roads were built, woods and fields were trenched and bulldozed for tie lines…"


    Marcellus shale fracking vehicles at a staging site(click thru for more info)

    "…Drilling rigs went up at an unbelievable rate. From one spot on our farm, I counted eight rigs.

    "Then the generators started. You could hear them a half-mile away…Then the pumping stations - small, industrial sites with buildings and pipes sticking up out of the ground…[at] the site of some of the first Marcellus wells in Bradford County, Pennsylvania…"

    FORECAST FOR CALIFORNIA IS SUN

    Research Firm Forecasts California Market To Continue Growth
    20 October 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "…[R]esearch firm IHS iSuppli [reports] U.S. solar installations are predicted to rise 166% this year, led by California, which will account for nearly 1 GW of new capacity…New Jersey is expected to be second with 260 MW, followed by Arizona with 240 MW. New Mexico and Nevada round out the top five…[A]n additional 1.2 GW of solar will come online in California in 2012."

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    [Troy Dalbey, managing director of North America, Upsolar:] "California's representation in the U.S. solar market reached 45 percent this year, up from 38 percent in 2010. With so much activity and growth, the state is ripe with opportunities for sales and strategic partnerships…"

    GE DEBUTS ADVANCED TURBINE

    GE Marks Northern European Debut of 2.75 Megawatt Wind Turbine Technology in Scotland
    October 26, 2011 (GE)

    "Supporting Scotland’s goal to produce 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, GE… is supplying nine of its 2.75 megawatt wind turbines for the Little Raith Wind Farm project that recently began construction near Lochgelly in Fife, Scotland. The project marks the commercial debut of GE’s 2.75 megawatt wind turbine technology in Northern Europe.

    "Little Raith is the first commercial wind farm to be built in Fife, which is Scotland's third largest local municipality by population. The nine-turbine wind farm will have an installed capacity of 24.75 megawatts of green energy, which represents an important step in reducing Fife’s carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2013 as the county works to increase its production of cleaner energy."


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    "GE expects to complete the wind turbine installation by 2012 for Manchester, United Kingdom-based Kennedy Renewables, which owns the Little Raith project…GE also will provide Kennedy Renewables with customer support for the Little Raith project under a five-year, full service agreement…

    "…GE’s ecomagination-qualified 2.75 megawatt wind turbine technology is the latest in the company’s portfolio of multi-megawatt wind turbines developed to suit a variety of wind regimes, including the windier climate of Scotland…The evolution of GE’s multi-megawatt turbine design began with the 2.5 megawatt turbine introduced in 2004. GE’s 2.5-100 rotor [as well as the 2.75 megawatt 100] and the 2.75-103m rotor…[were designed] with high reliability [permanent magnet generators]…"

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    BIGGEST CPV POWER PLANT ON LINE

    NextEra Energy Resources powers up North America's largest concentrated photovoltaic solar power plant
    19 October 2011 (NextEra Energy)

    "NextEra Energy Resources, LLC…[commissioned] the Hatch Solar Center, located in Hatch, N.M…The 5-megawatt Hatch facility is comprised of 84 Amonix 60-kilowatt units, and began operation in June 2011. The plant is the largest operating concentrated photovoltaic solar power plant in North America…

    "NextEra Energy Resources owns and operates the plant and sells the power to El Paso Electric under a 25-year power purchase agreement."


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    "NextEra Energy Resources has partnered with Amonix, Inc., a leader in solar systems design and manufacturing, for the Hatch Solar Energy Center…

    "The plant uses Amonix’s innovative concentrated photovoltaic solar power systems, which incorporate dual-axis tracking to maximize energy production throughout the day…"

    BETTER DATA, BETTER WIND

    How to grow wind energy? Faster, more powerful data crunching
    24 October 2011 (Greenbang)

    …[P]lacing turbines in the right places [with the best wind] can make the difference between a really good investment in renewable energy, and a losing bet…But accounting for all the variables that together determine the “right place” hasn’t been easy…[T]here are just so many variables: changing weather patterns, prevailing wind directions, turbulence, the presence (or lack of) trees in the area, even aesthetics…[and they] interact in complex ways…[so] if one changes, many of the others will also change.

    "Running those kinds of data through wind-turbine computer models used to take weeks. But IBM says it can now help wind-energy companies do those calculations in an hour or less…In fact, Big Blue has just started working with Danish wind-energy giant Vestas to do just that: crunch myriad facts and figures fast to help the company make the best siting decisions possible for its turbines."


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    "Coupled with its Firestorm supercomputer, IBM is providing Vestas with speedier turbine location guidance using its InfoSphere BigInsights software. The software took 200-plus IBM research scientists and four years of effort to develop, and can process and store terabyte- or petabyte-levels of data to create “what-if” scenarios for turbine placements. Vestas is using that to analyze huge volumes of data: weather reports, tidal phases, geospatial and sensor data, satellite images, deforestation maps and weather modeling research…

    "Once each turbine is installed, Vestas engineers plan to use the IBM technology to predict turbine performance, analyze how each blade reacts to weather changes, and determine the best times to schedule maintenance. Over the next four years, the wind-energy company expects to crunch over 20 petabytes of data in an effort to continue fine-tuning its siting strategies…"

    SUN FLOATING ON TREATED WATER

    Solar Array Designed To Float On Treatment-Plant Reservoir
    20 October 2011 (Solar Industry)

    New Jersey American Water has energized a 135 kW solar array that floats atop a reservoir at the company's Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant in Millburn, N.J… ENERActive Solutions of Asbury Park, N.J., designed and built the project, which consists of 538 modules."

    click to enlarge

    [Bob Biehler, senior project manager, New Jersey American Water:] "The support structure of the anchored array features a unique mooring system that allows it to rise and fall with the water level of the reservoir...The solar panels are fixed at a 14-degree angle and were specially made to endure the severe weather conditions - such as heavy wind, rain, snow and ice - that are not uncommon during northern New Jersey winters…"

    PUBLIC WANTS SOLAR HOT WATER

    SEIA Investigation Points To Strong Support For Solar Thermal
    18 October 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "…[A Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) national poll]…found that the public strongly supports solar water heating systems and the sector's potential for economic growth and job creation.

    "…[It] showed that 74% of Americans agree that the solar water heating industry will produce jobs and help the U.S. economy. Positive perceptions of solar water heating systems exceeded negative perceptions by more than 10 to 1 (48% to 4%). More broadly, solar energy is considered the energy source most deserving of U.S. government support…"


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    "Today, there are enough solar water heating systems installed in the U.S. to serve 1.5 million homes. In 2010, 35,464 solar water heating systems and 29,540 solar pool heating systems were installed. The solar heating and cooling sector represents 9% of the industry's overall domestic value…

    "In other survey findings, 46% say they would either be "extremely likely" (6%), "very likely" (9%) or "somewhat likely" (31%) to consider installing a solar water heating system in their own home. "The cost of purchasing the system" (72%) and "the cost of maintaining the system" (56%) are the top two concerns for residents in all regions and across key demographic/partisan groups."

    NEW ENERGY BENEFITS IN WISCONSIN

    The Solar and Wind Energy Supply Chain in Wisconsin…
    October 2011 (Environmental Law and Policy Center)

    "Wisconsin is home to more than 300 companies serving wind and solar energy markets…[including] old-line manufacturers that are expanding and entrepreneurial new firms focused on the clean energy sector. Businesses in the wind and solar energy sectors in Wisconsin employ approximately 6,000 and there are an additional 6,000 employees whose jobs are at least 50% tied to the renewable energy sector.

    click to enlarge

    "These businesses operate throughout the entire supply chain, from manufacturing and systems design, to site planning, engineering, construction and installation. They include startups and long established companies. Wisconsin is ranked fifth nationwide for solar job employment…"

    THE STATE OF ENERGY STORAGE

    Nearly 600 Energy Storage Projects have been Announced or Deployed Worldwide
    October 25, 2011 (Pike Research)

    "Energy storage technologies, which offer the promise of enabling a wide range of long-duration and short-duration applications for purposes of balancing electricity grid operations, are gaining increased momentum in the global marketplace…[T]he industry still faces a variety of challenges including technology development and the need for cost reduction…"

    "…[A] new tracker report from Pike Research indicates that nearly 600 energy storage projects have been announced or deployed worldwide, with a surge of new project activity during the past decade…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[T]he wide variety of technologies, applications, and lead times for installations in this sector can make it difficult for many industry participants to analyze the overall market...

    "Pike Research’s
    Energy Storage Tracker 4Q11 aims to identify key market trends on a holistic basis by systematically compiling the available data on all projects around the world including analysis of site, region, size, status, duration, market segment, applications and funding profiles."

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    COPYRIGHT IN CHINA

    Behind The AMSC/Sinovel Dispute: A Look At IP Law In The U.S. Vs. China
    Tim Smith, Jill McWhirter, Bryan Adams, 18 October 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "…AMSC has brought suit against Sinovel in the Chinese court system (specifically, before the Beijing Arbitration Commission), alleging that Sinovel violated AMSC's copyright and trade-secret rights by misappropriating software developed by AMSC…AMSC is attempting to control and protect its software by utilizing the tools of protection granted by [intellectual property, IP] law…

    "A copyright protects ‘original works of authorship’ that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. In the context of software, a copyright may apply to source code, object code and user interfaces…A trade secret is proprietary, confidential information used to provide an economic or competitive advantage…[I]f a competitor fairly and lawfully gains access to a trade secret, the individual or company maintaining the trade secret may have no legal recourse…"


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    "China provides copyright protection for many types of written works, including computer software. For the most part, China’s copyright statutes resemble those in the U.S…Legislation specific to software protection was enacted in 2001…If a violation of a trade secret under the Unfair Competition Law is found, the penalties may include fines, confiscation of illegal income, revocation of the party’s license to operate, an injunction ordering the party to cease the illegal act, and/or imprisonment…

    "Although both China and the U.S. have similar laws and processes designed to protect copyrights and trade secrets, the differences rest in the enforcement of these laws, as well as the governmental nature of each country…[There is a] perception that Chinese courts would tend to favor Chinese companies over U.S. companies in such disputes…The dispute between the two companies has cast IP infringement into the limelight, and the case may set a precedent for the enforcement of IP rights by U.S. companies doing business in China."

    EFFICIENT STATES

    ACEEE: Massachusetts Overtakes California as #1 Energy Efficiency State, Michigan and Illinois Among the Most Improved…
    October 20, 2011 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    "A sour U.S. economy, tight state budgets, and a failure by Congress to adopt a comprehensive energy strategy have not slowed the growing momentum among U.S. states toward increased energy efficiency, according to the fifth edition of the annual ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

    "…[T]he ACEEE [report] shows that the top 10 states are: Massachusetts (taking the #1 position for the first time); California (slipping from the top spot it held for the first four editions of the ACEEE Scorecard); New York State; Oregon; Vermont; Washington State; Rhode Island; Minnesota, Connecticut; and Maryland (making its first appearance in the top 10 and also one of the six most improved states in the 2011…)."


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    "The 10 states most in need of improvement (from dead last to #42) are: North Dakota; Wyoming; Mississippi; Kansas; Oklahoma; South Carolina; West Virginia; Missouri; Alabama (also one of the top six most improved states); and South Dakota…

    "Facing uncertain economic times, states are continuing to use energy efficiency as a key strategy to generate cost-savings, promote technological innovation, and stimulate growth…Total budgets for electricity efficiency programs increased to $4.5 billion in 2010, up from $3.4 billion in 2009. Combined with natural gas program budgets of about $1 billion, total energy efficiency budgets in 2010 equal about $5.5 billion. Given the increasing regulatory commitments to energy efficiency, this growth will likely continue over the next decade…"

    WIND MOVES FAST TO PROTECT BATS

    Bat death causes 70MW project shutdown
    James Quilter, 19 October 2011 (Windpower Monthly)

    "…The [70 megawatt] North Allegheny project [in Pennsylvania]…owned by Duke Energy and [using] Gamesa 2MW turbines…was closed [at night] by the US Fish and Wildlife Service after [a] dead bat was discovered under a turbine…

    "The bat was an Indiana Bat and is protected by the federal endangered species act. It was discovered during routine monitoring of the wind farm."


    Indiana bat (from Windpower Monthly -- click to enlarge)

    "Many bat deaths are caused by a phenomenon known as barotrauma, whereby a change in pressure between turbines causes the creatures’ lungs to explode.

    "It is believed operational changes such as increasing the speed at which a wind turbine starts generating energy from 3.5-5.5m/s can reduce bat fatalities by 50-80%...[and] preliminary results from studies on acoustic devices, which generate ultra-high-frequency sounds to deter bats from turbines, show a reduction in mortality by up to 70%."

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    HOW EV BATTERIES WILL DO

    Electric Vehicle Batteries; Lithium Ion Batteries for Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Battery Electric Vehicles: Market Analysis and Forecasts
    Sreekanth Venkataraman and John Gartner, 4Q 2011 (Pike Research)

    "Over the past few years, the automotive industry has increased its focus on the electric vehicle (EV) market by successfully introducing several new plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles…

    "These vehicles will rely almost exclusively on lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries, while hybrid vehicles will slowly switch from nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) technology. While the cost of Li-ion batteries is gradually declining, cost still represents a significant hurdle as it accounts for a large portion of total EV cost."


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    "The government subsidies that gave the initial impetus to the electric vehicle market will continue to drive the market in the near term…[S]ignificant reductions in battery cost are imperative for the industry to grow to the $14.6 billion and 28 million kWh market that Pike Research forecasts by 2017. Nearly half of the demand is likely to come from Asia (led primarily by China) while Europe and the United States are likely to constitute 25% and 21% shares…

    "…There are currently more than half a dozen battery chemistries with unique properties for power, energy density, and life cycle performance that are being commercialized…[N]o chemistry [has emerged] as the clear winner (owing to the tradeoffs in the various properties)…[But there is likely to be] a greater interest in the lithium iron phosphate chemistry in the years to come due to its superior performance characteristics coupled with increased safety…"

    A FIGHT WITH CHINA FOR SUN

    U.S. Firms Seek To End China's 'Decimation' Of Domestic Solar Manufacturing
    Michael Bates, 19 October 2011 (Solar industry)

    'Backed by the support of six of its peers and a powerhouse D.C. law firm, manufacturer SolarWorld…filed cases with the U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission, alleging that Chinese cell and module makers have been illegally dumping products into the U.S. market…[T]he complaints are intended to ‘end China's decimation of U.S. solar manufacturing and jobs.’

    "SolarWorld and the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing say gargantuan state-funded subsidies have given Chinese solar manufacturers an unfair advantage in the marketplace, with ‘dumping margins well in excess of 100 percent.’"


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    [Gordon Brinser, president, SolarWorld Industries America Inc.:] "China actually has no production cost advantage. China's labor is less productive, its raw material and equipment have come from the West, and China must pay for long-distance shipping. Yet massive state subsidies and sponsorship have enabled Chinese manufacturers to illegally dump their products into a wide-open U.S. market."

    "Law firm Wiley Rein LLP is representing the coalition in the petitions. The six members joining SolarWorld in the anti-dumping and countervailing-duty filings will not be publicly named…"

    WIND MAKES RECORD 15.2% OF TEXAS POWER

    Wind energy sets new record in Texas...
    October 18, 2011 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "…[W]ind turbines in the service territory of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT, the main Texas electric grid) set a new output record on Oct. 7. That afternoon, wind generated 15.2% of ERCOT's demand for electricity that afternoon, or 7,400 megawatts (MW)… According to ERCOT, wind energy…[is almost] 58 percent of all new generation…in planning stages…in Texas…"

    [Michael Goggin, Manager of Transmission Policy, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):] "This…is good news for consumers…Wind generation offsets the use of expensive fossil fuels, is pollution-free, and uses virtually no water, unlike other sources of electricity…"

    click to enlarge

    [Michael Goggin, Manager of Transmission Policy, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):] "…[T]his is yet another case showing that large amounts of wind energy can be integrated into existing utility systems reliably…[as the] number of wind turbines and wind farms [in Texas] and in other windy states across America is continuing to grow…"

    [Michael Goggin, Manager of Transmission Policy, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):] "…[This] shows the success of stable federal tax policies, starting with the Production Tax Credit for renewable energy…Wind power is delivering cheap electricity to ratepayers in hard economic times, and it's hard to overstate the benefits of that far-sighted tax policy…"

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    INNOVATORS' MONEY STILL BACKS SUN

    Tracking The Deal Flow: Venture Capitalists Still Favoring Solar Firms
    13 October 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "The solar sector enjoyed a "solid" quarter with regard to venture-capital (VC) funding and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity, according to a new report by Mercom Capital Group.

    "VC funding for solar companies was steady in the third quarter of this year, coming in at $372 million - compared to $354 million in the second quarter. Forty-two different VC investors participated in 29 disclosed deals…"


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    "The top five funding deals included an $85 million raise by HelioVolt, a manufacturer of thin-film copper indium gallium selenide modules. OneRoof Energy, a developer, owner and operator of solar energy generation systems for residential markets raised $50 million in a Series A round…

    "Solar downstream companies attracted the most funding this quarter, closely followed by thin-film companies, the report says. Downstream companies attracted $130 million in 11 deals, and thin-film companies attracted $125 million in five deals…M&A activity came in at $563 million in 20 transactions, with details disclosed for only eight…"

    WIND’S PROGRESS

    Wind Energy Outlook for North America; Market Drivers for Onshore and Offshore Wind Power, Regulatory and Policy Issues, Technology Issues, Key Industry Players, and Wind Capacity & Revenue Forecasts
    3Q 2011 (Pike Research)

    "The North American wind energy industry is lagging in key areas compared to Europe and Asia, but many key industry players are optimistic about the North American market…[T]urbine costs continue to drop…In 2010, a total of 5,784 MW of wind capacity was installed in North America…[which has] more than 22% of the world’s total installed wind capacity…[The U.S. is] the second largest wind market…

    "…As a region, North America fell to third place in cumulative installations in 2009 behind Asia Pacific and Europe. Pike Research expects installations in the region to reach 125 GW by 2017, with offshore installations accounting for fewer than 3% of that total. Pike Research anticipates that 2011 will be another difficult year…[but sees] tentative signs of recovery."


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    "Pike Research’s analysis indicates that wind energy installation costs in the United States will total more than $125 billion between 2011 and 2017, capturing 15% of the global market during that period. Canada will reach 15 GW of total wind capacity by 217, with more than 400 MW of that amount derived from offshore installations…In Canada, installation costs will total $19.3 billion between 2011 and 2017…

    "…In the midst of this market transition, turbine manufacturer market shares [will be] fluid…In 2010, Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Sinovel overtook GE Wind Energy to become the second largest wind turbine supplier worldwide, and came in at less than 1% (350 MW) behind industry leader Vestas…"

    SOLAR RULES TO MOVE SUN UP

    Fight For Your Right: How A New Project Could Transform Solar Access Laws
    Jessica Lillian, October 13, 2011 (University of Missouri and Solar Industry)

    "Neighbor-against-neighbor legal battles over airspace, town councils' grid-capacity concerns and myriad other local solar permitting and access problems continue to frustrate PV installers and would-be customers. Making matters worse are the inconsistent and often confusing permit rules in the U.S. for installing solar arrays…

    "…[Troy Rule, associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Law] hopes to put an end to this legal patchwork and remove a major market barrier for solar. Thanks to a $52,800 grant from industry group SolarTech (a portion of a $2.5 million award that SolarTech recently received from the U.S. Department of Energy), he is developing a set of standardized model ordinances and statutes for local governments."


    click thru for SunRun's solution to solar red tape

    "As the number of residential and commercial installations in the U.S. increases, the issue of solar rights has emerged as one of the thorniest legal problems…[A] few states have a solar rights rule requiring that residents do not impede operation of a neighbor's solar installation - such as by planting a large tree or building a sunlight-blocking home addition. Others require the solar array owner to sell an access easement, while others have no laws on the issue…

    "…Rule says his model ordinance will adopt what he considers the fairest approach…[When his] ordinances and statutes are finalized, local governments will be provided with the completed models, which they may or may not opt to incorporate into their own codes. Because of the individual needs of each city and town, each ordinance is designed for flexibility, with many optional provisions built into it…"

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    BIG WIND BUILDING IN NO DAKOTA

    ND wind power set for big expansion
    Christopher Bjorke, October 8, 2011 (Bismarck Tribune)

    "North Dakota's wind energy capacity will likely grow by more than a third in 2012, driven by renewable energy standards and the uncertain future of a federal incentive.

    "The state's operating wind farms have the capacity to generate 1,378 megawatts of electricity. Between projects that are under development now and some that are likely to go forward soon, the state could add almost 500 additional megawatts…[making] 25 percent of the nameplate capacity of [South Dakota] electricity…generated by wind…[F]ive projects…are under construction or…[expected] to be soon started and completed by the end of 2012."


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    "Next year could be a busy one for the wind industry across the country as developers work to complete projects before a key incentive is scheduled to expire. The federal production tax credit gives companies 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, but it is uncertain whether Congress will renew the subsidy in light of struggles in Washington over spending…

    "The American Wind Energy Association has called for a four-year extension of the tax credit, arguing that its expiration in 2004 led to a drop in wind installations of 77 percent…[T]here are 7,354 megawatts of generation capacity under construction across the country, more than any time since 2008…[with] the Dec. 31 deadline to qualify for the tax credit [imposing] 'a hard end date…'"

    SUN PROFITS FALLING, PARTS HOLDING

    PV Component Profits 70% Lower in Q4’11, but Module Suppliers Still Hold Lion’s Share
    12 October 2011 (IMS Research)

    "PV component profits are set to fall by 70% year-on-year in Q4’11…[A] new analysis from IMS Research…of the polysilicon, wafer, cell, module and inverter industries found that that collapsing prices throughout 2011 will cause gross margins for the whole PV industry combined to slide by 17 percentage points to just 12.4% in Q4’11…

    "…[D]espite this worrying news, margins and profit will actually increase sequentially in Q4’11 as much of the collapse in margins had already happened earlier in 2011…PV module suppliers [felt] the brunt of the [2011] price collapse…[but] they still hold the lion’s share of PV component profits…[W]ithin the PV module supply chain, polysilicon suppliers currently enjoy some of the highest margins but their profits are still less than half those generated by module suppliers…"


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    "Of the five industries studied, IMS Research found that inverter suppliers now enjoy the highest gross margins, despite the recent oversupply and price reductions that the industry has suffered. Despite accounting for a relatively small part of PV system hardware costs, the research found that inverter suppliers will generate 17% of total industry profits in 2011…

    "…IMS Research predicts further gloom for the industry and forecasts that margins will slide further in 2012 and will reach just 10.4% in the first quarter of next year…"

    A BREAKTHROUGH SOLUTION FOR WIND

    Vestas acquires technology to prevent aerial collisions
    Erik Siemers, October 7, 2011 (Sustainable Business Oregon)

    "Vestas…has acquired a radar technology that will help prevent aerial collisions with its wind turbines and reduce light pollution from wind power plants.

    "The Danish turbine-maker…has acquired the technology assets of Norwegian radar specialist OCAS AS. Terms of the deal were not disclosed."



    From melismccar via YouTube

    "The OCAS system uses radar technology to detect approaching aircraft and activate warning systems. Strobe lights on the turbines will be activated as a visual warning and an audio warning will be transmitted to the pilot's radio if the aircraft doesn't immediately change course.

    "The OCAS technology has been tested and approved by aviation authorities in Norway, Sweden, Canada and the United States…It has been installed at more than 60 sites in Europe and North America."

    WIND AND JOBS

    Blowing in the Wind: Jobs in the Wind Industry
    Vivian Wagner, October 12, 2011 (E-Commerce Times)

    "The wind industry is essentially built on turbines -- those large, hulking, spinning windmills set up in wind farms on and off shore. Many of the jobs in the industry are related to their design and manufacture -- more than 400 American manufacturing plants build wind components, including turbines, towers and blades. Any investment in wind power, therefore, is an investment in the manufacturing base of the country…

    "…The second quarter of 2011 saw more than 1,003 megawatts of wind power capacity installed, and the wind industry has contributed upwards of 35 percent of all new generating capacity during the past four years, second only to natural gas…"


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    "…[T]he U.S. wind market accounts for around 20 percent of the world's installed wind-generating capacity…[T]hat wind power has meant jobs for American workers -- around 85,000 of them currently…in areas such as engineering, manufacturing, project development, operations, maintenance, transportation and logistics…

    "…[I]n the U.S., the states with the strongest presence in the wind industry are those with the most consistent and strong winds -- such as Texas, California and Iowa -- but there are other regions and local markets that are holding their own…Other variables that affect wind markets are the prevailing cost of electricity in the area and competition provided from other energy sources…"

    GE PLANS GIANT SUN PLANT

    GE Plans to Build Largest US Solar Factory in Colorado, Expand Solar Innovation in New York and Deliver Lighter, Larger, More Efficient Thin Film Solar Panels
    13 October 2011 (GE)

    "GE (NYSE: GE)…plans to build its new solar panel factory in Aurora, Colorado. When completed, the advanced manufacturing facility will create 355 jobs in Colorado and will be larger than any existing solar panel factory in the country today.. with the first panels coming off the line in 2012 with commercial availability in 2013.

    "…[T]he factory in an existing building in Aurora… also is in proximity to GE’s existing solar center of excellence…[enabling] an accelerated start-up schedule with production equipment installation beginning in January 2012. At capacity, the new factory will produce enough panels per year to power 80,000 homes and will be larger than 11 football fields. When complete, the new solar factory will highlight a $600 million investment in GE’s solar business."


    click to enlarge

    "Colorado already is home to GE Energy’s thin film solar pilot line, where joint technology advancements from GE’s Global Research Center and PrimeStar Solar have been validated and tested. GE completed the acquisition of PrimeStar earlier this year.

    "…In support of its expected growth in the solar space, GE also announced plans to create 100 new positions in New York…Solar panels produced in GE’s new Colorado factory also will be more efficient, lighter weight and larger than conventional thin film panels…reducing the total cost of electricity for utilities and consumers…[facilitating] easier installation and enable important applications including commercial rooftop…[and lowering] total system cost by reducing the amount of racking and electrical components required…"

    PV MAKERS IN SNAFU

    US$6 Billion Overspend Forces PV Manufacturing Equipment Suppliers to Adjust Strategies; Significant Industry Over-Capacity to Cause Prolonged Downturn in PV Equipment Revenues
    October 17, 2011 (solarbuzz)

    "Global PV equipment spending (including c-Si ingot-to-module and thin-film panel) is now projected to fall by more than 45% in 2012, down from a historic peak of US$13.1 billion this year…As a result, PV equipment suppliers are being forced to redefine their product roadmaps to align with the projected upturn in spending after 2012.

    "Almost half of PV equipment spending in 2011 has been stimulated by new entrants to the PV industry or from existing tier 2 or tier 3 manufacturers seeking to increase revenues simply by adding more capacity. The majority of this investment has turned out to be supplemental to… short term industry demand."


    click to enlarge

    "Consequently, revenues available to PV equipment suppliers have been temporarily inflated by US$6 billion during 2011. The scale of this over-investment will not only drive the magnitude of the revenue declines during 2012, but will also prolong the spending downturn period into 2013…

    "The only PV equipment suppliers that will be shielded from rapid declines in revenues through 2012 are those with strong order backlogs aligned with polysilicon expansion phases in progress across the Asia Pacific region. This will actually drive Y/Y growth in revenues for a select group of companies…[M]any other PV equipment suppliers will experience Y/Y revenue declines of 30-70%. Equipment suppliers that benefitted most from the c-Si wafer, cell and module expansions of 2011 will be the hardest hit during 2012…"

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    RECORD Q3 FOR SUN AND WIND

    Wind, solar farm finance at record in Q3, report says
    Nina Chestney, October 12, 2011 (Reuters)

    "Wind farm and solar park financing surged to a record $41.8 billion in the third quarter, even though clean energy share prices and the European economy slumped, [according to] a report by research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance…[Overall new investment in clean energy -- including asset finance, equity raisings on public markets and venture capital and private equity -- was $45.5 billion in the third quarter, up 16 percent on Q3 2010]…

    "The increase in financing was mainly driven by offshore wind investment. Three large offshore wind farms in the North Sea totaled more than 1 gigawatt in capacity and $6.3 billion in investment."


    click to enlarge

    "There were also large financings for photovoltaic (PV), solar thermal and biofuel projects in the United States, a geothermal plant in Indonesia and onshore wind projects in Brazil and China…

    "The average price of PV modules has fallen by a third since autumn 2010 and by 70 percent since mid-2008, while wind turbine prices have fallen by 20 percent since 2009, the report showed…This has made renewable energy technologies more cost-competitive with fossil fuel power sources but have been painful for supply chains…"

    U.S. NEEDS OCEAN WIND ICON

    Offshore Wind ‘Moon Landing’ May Kick-Start Development in U.S.
    Ehren Goossens, October 12, 2011 (Bloomberg News)

    "The U.S. needs its own version of Alpha Ventus, Germany’s first offshore wind farm, to drive the industry on this side of the Atlantic, wind developers and officials said.

    "There are almost a dozen wind farms planned off U.S. shores and none are under construction. One, Cape Wind in Massachusetts, has been in the works for a decade and it’s still not clear when the first turbines will be installed…Completing a project in U.S. waters would show that developers can complete the permitting and financing processes and may provide a needed spark to the industry…"


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    "E.ON AG, Vattenfall Europe AG and the German utility EWE AG invested 250 million euros ($333 million) to install Alpha Ventus’s 12 turbines about 45 kilometers (28 miles) off the German coast. They went into operation in April 2010, giving the country’s developers confidence to plan additional projects in the North Sea…

    "More than 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind capacity was installed worldwide last year, and total capacity is expected to reach 20 gigawatts in 2015…Of that, 658 megawatts will be in the U.S…Energy Secretary Steven Chu set in February a goal of 10 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity in the U.S. by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030…"

    BOOM IN SUN FOR SCHOOLS

    Schooled In Solar: On-Campus PV Projects Increase By 450%
    11 October 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "A new database of hundreds of on-campus solar photovoltaic installations created by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) reveals that installed solar capacity has grown 450% over the last three years in the higher-education sector.

    "…[O]ther important solar trends in the higher education sector…[include] a 40% drop in the installed cost of solar over the last four years and new financing mechanisms [that] have led institutions to invest in solar as a way to hedge against rising electricity prices while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions."


    Solar system on an Ohio high school (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he 137 MW of solar capacity installed on higher-education campuses to date is equivalent to the power used by 40,000 U.S. homes, and the market in 2010 for on-campus solar installations was over $300 million in the U.S…In addition, higher education solar installations in 2010 made up 5.4% of the total 956 MW installed that year in the U.S. Only five states installed more solar in 2010 than the 52 MW installed on U.S. campuses in 2010.

    "The report also found average project sizes have grown substantially in recent years. In 2005, the average project size was below 20 kW; so far in 2011, it is approaching 200 kW…"

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    WIND ON TEXAS WATERS

    Coastal Point sees progress on Texas offshore test turbine
    Richard A. Kessler, Octyober 6, 2011 (ReCharge)

    "Developer Coastal Point Energy… intends to place a two-blade 750kW turbine with a 90-metre hub-height on a platform that it designed and installed about 8 miles (12.8km) off Galveston Island in area leased from the state…Coastal Point has been gathering meteorological and other data from the platform for more than two years, and believes the site is suitable for an eventual 300MW utility-scale wind farm…

    "Coastal Point intends to test a water desalinisation system on the platform powered by the turbine, which will not be connected to the onshore electrical grid. There will also be a secondary system for power storage…If successful, the company wants to scale-up the system using a 2MW or 3MW turbine…"


    click to enlarge

    "…Coastal Point has designed a vessel with a self-erecting tower and carriage arrangement for a 3MW turbine. This would eliminate the need for expensive heavy-life vessels, and allow installation in regions without suitable onshore support infrastructure or assistance from host countries.

    "If the company can find a buyer for its power and financing for [a proposed 12 MW] Galveston project, it must still obtain a permit to build it from the US Army Corps of Engineers…Assuming that occurs and the wind farm is built, the developer has four other projects off the Texas coast on the drawing board for a total 2.1GW."

    OHIO LOANS TO SPANISH SOLAR MAKER

    Ohio lends US$15m for ISOFOTON’s solar panel plant
    Kari Williamson, 7 October 2011 (Renewable Energy Focus)

    "The State of Ohio is providing three loans totalling US$15 million to [Spanish solar PV panel manufacturer] ISOFOTON North America to develop [its first U.S. plant,] a [US$31.2m] solar photovoltaic (PV) panel manufacturing plant in Napoleon, Ohio…"

    click to enlarge

    "…Additionally, the Ohio Development Department has declared its desire to support ISOFOTON with additional credits and incentives totalling another US$15.8m…The Napoleon solar PV plant project could create over 300 jobs over the next three years…"

    TEXAS FIGHTS CLIMATE TRUTH

    Texas on the verge of limiting academic freedom of climate scientists
    Eric Berger, October 11, 2011 (Houston Chronicle)

    "…Texas has long been a natural home for climate skepticism given the number of large fossil fuel energy companies with headquarters or major offices in the state…But the state’s prominence has increased recently, beginning with Rick Perry’s very skeptical comments on climate change…[Now,] Rice University oceanographer John Anderson was told he could not discuss sea-level rise and climate change in a chapter for the periodically published, TCEQ-funded “State of the Bay” report about the environmental state of Galveston Bay. The original chapter he submitted had the references removed.

    "Anderson was trying to point out that recent, measured rises in sea level were considerably higher than in the historical record, and that this could have important consequences for the bay…[safely tenured,] Anderson pushed back…saying, ‘It’s not about the science. It’s all politics.’"


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    "…[M]ore bold is the response of the Houston Advanced Research Center, a non-profit research center…[which] subsists largely on state and federal grants…[A]fter private and tense negotiations broke down and Anderson went public, HARC vice president Jim Lester is standing behind the scientist…

    "How this plays out will be interesting…It’s [likely] the first case…in which Texas is overtly acting to suppress scientific inquiry regarding climate change. That would be a huge blow to climate scientists in the state…[W]ill the TCEQ back down? And will HARC see a decline in future state funding?"

    INTERESTED IN, NOT BUYING PLUG-INS

    Global Consumers Not Plugging into Electric Vehicles: Deloitte Survey; No more than four percent of global consumers likely to be satisfied with today’s electric vehicles
    October 4, 2011 (Deloitte)

    Consumers worldwide expect electric vehicles to travel farther, require less charge time and retail for a lower price than automakers are offering, according to a new survey from Deloitte…[C]onsumers’ expectations around performance and purchase price are so divergent from the actual offerings available today, that no more than 2 to 4 percent of consumers worldwide would have their expectations met…

    "The survey…[of] consumers in 17 countries across the Americas, Asia and Europe…[revealed] a general desire among consumers to buy electric vehicles, but a strong unwillingness to compromise on key performance criteria and especially price."


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    "In the United States, 12 percent of respondents indicate they would be a potential ‘first mover’ when it comes to adopting an electric vehicle — with an additional 42 percent saying they ‘might be willing to consider’ purchasing or leasing…However, most global consumers, including those in the United States, would base their final decision on the greatest challenges…range, convenience to charge and purchase price of the vehicle — all of which a vast majority (more than 85 percent) of survey respondents ranked as ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ considerations…

    "The survey also shows consumers want faster battery charge times. The majority of American consumers surveyed (58 percent) expect an electric vehicle to recharge its battery in two hours or less, and nearly one in four Americans (23 percent) expect a 30-minute charge time. Overall, in all countries, only a minority viewed up to eight hours (the normal time it takes to recharge the typical battery in today’s vehicles) as acceptable…"

    HUGE NEW OCEAN WIND

    Giant Offshore Wind Farm Planned for Rhode Island, Massachusetts Coast
    October 11, 2011 (Sustainable Business)

    "…Deepwater Wind Energy Center would be a 200 turbine, 1000 MW wind farm about 20 miles off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Construction would begin in 2015, with electricity pumping two years later…[This is] a "second generation" offshore wind farm…It will be larger and farther from shore, and will produce lower-priced power, using more advanced technology than any of the offshore projects announced to date…

    "… The transmission system needed to transport that power to multiple East Coast states doesn't exist…So, Deepwater says it's developing the New England-Long Island Interconnector (NELI) transmission network, which would send the electricity to nearby states…"


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    "Last year, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and BOEMRE launched the "Smart from the Start" initiative, which seeks to jumpstart offshore wind in the US…[by taking] a proactive approach to siting wind projects which have been held up by siting concerns, lack of a clear regulatory structure, and congressional budget battles…

    "The world's offshore wind capacity is expected to surge to 70.1 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2017, up from 4.1 GW in 2011, according to Pike Research. That represents $104 billion by 2017, a 53% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next six years…In a more aggressive scenario, revenues could reach $130.5 billion…About 75% of this growth is expected to be in western Europe…"

    KEYSTONE NOT THE PROBLEM – WASHPOST

    Keystone XL pipeline is the wrong target for protesters
    October 10, 2011 (Washington Post)

    "…The activists [fighting the Keystone XL pipeline] have the wrong target…[T]he petroleum that comes from Alberta’s “tar sands” isn’t very clean; it produces more carbon emissions than light sweet crude. And…pipelines can leak, as recent ruptures in Michigan and under the Yellowstone River demonstrate…But rejecting the pipeline won’t reduce global carbon emissions or the risk of environmentally destructive spills.

    "Canada’s government — and rising world petroleum prices — guarantee that the country will extract the oil from its tar sands, and that Asia will take it if America doesn’t...burning fossil fuels and risking ocean spills along the way. China already has a large stake in Canadian oil production. Plans are already in the works to build the necessary pipelines."


    click thru for more info

    "…[Critics say] petroleum companies want to export much of the Canadian oil abroad after refining it in Gulf Coast facilities…But if export markets are that attractive, Canadian crude will reach them…and American refineries will get their low-grade crude from somewhere else…The more American refineries source their low-grade crude via pipeline from Canada and not from tankers out of the Middle East or Venezuela, the better, even if not every refined barrel stays in the country.

    "Producing energy is a dirty business, and it will remain so for a long time, even with the right policies. Part of facing this reality is admitting that how the world produces energy must change over time. But another part is accepting that oil production will continue for decades and clear-headedly managing the risks — not pretending we can wish them away."

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    PARADIGM SHIFT IN SUN

    The New Utility-Scale Era? Major Project Acquisition Spells Tech Changeover
    Jessica Lillian, 6 October 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "Solar Millennium AG and solarhybrid AG, both based in Germany, have entered into an agreement under which solarhybrid will acquire Solar Millennium's solar project portfolio in the U.S. Southwest…[and] the entire project pipeline - which totals 2.25 GW - will be converted to PV technology.

    "…[T]hree main projects in the U.S - the 1 GW Blythe project, the 500 MW Palen project and the 500 MW Amargosa Farm Road project - were all originally planned as concentrating solar power (CSP) plants."


    click to enlarge

    "Development of the massive Blythe plant, currently under way in California, has already…[been converted to PV] as CSP continues to fall out of favor for large-scale solar development in the U.S…[as was] K Road Power Holding Co.'s 850 MW Calico solar project…Developers have cited better project financeability and reduced land impact as primary reasons for turning to PV technologies.

    "solarhybrid USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of solarhybrid AG, will serve as general contractor and perform the engineering, procurement and construction duties for Solar Millennium's plants. Construction may begin on the Blythe plant as early as 2013…Solar Millennium says it will now focus on CSP and hybrid power plants in Europe, Asia, North Africa and Latin America, although it is still expected to retain a financial stake in its U.S. projects…"

    SO DAKOTA COULD BOOST WIND

    SD panel urges cut in wind farm construction taxes
    5 October 2011 (CNBC)

    "A legislative task force recommended…the state cut construction taxes for wind farms to help South Dakota compete with nearby states in attracting projects that generate electricity from wind…[but] the Wind Energy Task Force will leave it up to Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the full Legislature to decide exactly how to reduce the contractor's excise tax and sales tax that apply to construction costs of wind farms.

    "…[T]he task force...found that South Dakota's construction taxes are substantially higher than those charged by neighboring states…[C]onstruction taxes play an important role in determining the cost of a wind project, and South Dakota's contractor's excise tax puts it at a disadvantage to other states that do not have the tax…"


    A huge asset, worth spending to develop (click to enlarge)

    "Deputy Revenue Secretary David Wiest, also a task force member, cast the only vote against the recommendation to reduce construction taxes, saying he is not convinced South Dakota's taxes on wind farms are significantly higher than other states. South Dakota has other advantages, such as wind that keeps turbines turning a higher percentage of the time than in other states, he said…

    "South Dakota charges a 4 percent sales tax on materials used in constructing wind farms and other projects. It also levies a 2 percent excise tax on a contractor's gross receipts for a project…[A]n analysis done by developers…found the South Dakota sales tax and contractor's excise tax on a 200-megawatt wind project, with an estimated price tag of about $360 million, would be $12.9 million under current law. Construction taxes on the same project would be $2 million in North Dakota, $2.8 million in Minnesota and $3.4 million in Iowa…"

    MINI-MANHATTAN PROJECTS

    Sen. Alexander targets energy subsidies, says political furor over climate might ease
    Ben Geman, October 5, 2011 (The Hill)

    "Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is leaving his Senate leadership post, has energy subsidies in his crosshairs…[and laid out his energy goals for the next two years in [a recent interview]…"

    [Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.):] “First, I would try to swap the money we're spending on permanent subsidies for energy and invest it instead in research. Second, I'd like to focus these funds on the most promising areas of clean energy. I've devised a plan for seven mini-Manhattan Projects for energy independence: solar, batteries, green building, capturing carbon, fusion, making fuels from crops we don't eat and finding better ways to deal with nuclear fuel…”

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    "Alexander said he has identified $20 billion annually in energy subsidies that could instead be funneled into clean energy R&D. Alexander is no fan of wind energy, and said he would begin by targeting that sector’s tax breaks…Alexander bucks a GOP trend with his belief in human-induced global warming. He opposes cap-and-trade but is open to some kind of emissions limits on power plants — eventually… But Alexander isn’t expecting agreements on climate anytime soon."

    [Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.):] “I also believe the oil companies don't need subsidies beyond those that other manufacturing and producing companies have…At some point we might require a certain limit of carbon on coal plants, just as we limit tailpipe emissions. But before we do that, we have to start with research and development to try to figure out a technological means to capture carbon…Maybe in two to three years I think some of the politicizing which is on both sides will have died down a little bit. But it will be very difficult to get consensus on climate change in the next two to three years…”

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    FEDS FASTTRACK WIRES FOR THE WEST

    Obama Administration Says It Will Speed Approval Of Transmission Lines
    Ryan Tracy and Cassandra Sweet, October 7, 2011 (Dow Jones Newswires via Nasdaq)

    "The Obama administration…[will] speed federal approval of seven proposed electric transmission projects in 12 states--together estimated to cost more than $8.5 billion--in an effort to spur infrastructure spending and modernize the U.S. grid…[The] pilot effort involving nine federal agencies [and coordinated by the Interior Department, the lead federal agency for approving such projects will]...look to coordinate permits and more quickly resolve disputes that can hold up the process...[T]he projects will increase grid capacity and together…[will] create more than 10,000 construction jobs in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Wisconsin..."

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    "The projects that will be fast-tracked for permitting include the $1.2 billion, 145-mile Susquehanna-Roseland transmission project, being developed by Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PEG) and PPL Corp. (PPL)…[A] $3 billion, 600-kilovolt transmission line called TransWest Express…Gateway West project, being developed by Idacorp Inc.'s (IDA) Idaho Power unit and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRKA, BRKB) unit Rocky Mountain Power…[T]he $450 million, 300-mile Boardman-Hemingway transmission line…"

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    "…[Also] the $825 million, 500- kilovolt Cascade Crossing project being developed by Portland General Electric Co. (POR)…[T]he 460-mile SunZia project, estimated to cost up to $920 million…being developed by UniSource Energy Corp.'s (UNS) Tucson Electric Power unit, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Royal Dutch Shell PLC's (RDSA.LN, RDSB.LN, RDSA, RDSB) WindEnergy unit and Salt River Project, an Arizona public utility district…[and] the $490 million, 150-mile Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse transmission project…a series of transmission lines being developed by 11 utilities including Allete Inc.'s (ALE) Minnesota Power unit and Xcel Energy Inc. (XEL), which is the project manager…"

    ECO-GE CHALLENGES CHINA

    GE and Investment Firm Partners Commit $100 Million Launching Ecomagination Challenge in China
    October 7, 2011 (GE)

    "Ecomagination Challenge is part of GE's commitment to drive global energy transformation through continued investment in innovation and partnerships. First launched in the US in 2010, GE's Ecomagination Challenge is an innovation experiment where businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and students shared their ideas on how to revolutionize the energy industry. In the US, GE has so far focused the Ecomagination Challenge on smart grid and home energy technologies…"

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    Ecomagination Challenge in China "will focus on gas-powered energy applications in its initial phase, which runs through next April. Winners will be entitled to cash awards, opportunities to work at GE's R&D facilities in China and possible equity investments in their ventures. GE and its investment firm partners [Baird Capital Partners Asia, CITIC Capital, Genertec Investment, Milestone Capital, Northern Light Venture Capital, Sequoia Capital and Shanghai Science and Technology Investment Corporation] will consider expanding the theme into other energy technology sectors afterwards…The deadline for submission of ideas is December 31, 2011…[W]inners of all prizes and equity investments will be announced in April, 2012…"

    SAUDIS PIDDLE WITH SOLAR POWER

    Saudi Arabia's First Solar Power Plant Comes Online
    6 October 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has inaugurated its first solar power plant, according to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia…The 500 kW plant, located on Farasan Island, was constructed by the Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) and Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., a Japanese energy company partly owned by the Saudi Arabian Oil Co."

    Many warehouses in China, Europe and the U.S. have arrays many times this size on their roofs. Hopefully the nation best positioned to be the Saudi Arabia of solar energy will get in the game in earnest soon. (click to enlarge)

    "This project is intended to be one of the many initiatives led by SEC to introduce clean energy throughout the Kingdom. Saudia Arabia is a prime location to harness solar energy because of its year-round sunshine. The sun in Saudi Arabia emits about 7,000 watts of energy per square meter over an average of 12 hours every day…"

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    MORE SOLAR MODULES & LOWER SOLAR PRICES

    Production Cutbacks Insufficient to Prevent Solar Module Inventory Buildup; Current Production Plans and Demand Outlook Suggest Oversupply Will Be Maintained into Next Year
    September 26, 2011 (solarbuzz)

    "Continued solar module overproduction will lead to sustained price pressure across global photovoltaic (PV) markets, already reeling from factory gate prices now down 33% Y/Y…

    "Preliminary analysis from Solarbuzz shows Q3'11 global demand growing by less than 1% Q/Q, but up 20% Y/Y. European markets are projected to account for 58% of Q3’11 global demand, down from 78% in the same quarter last year. Among the largest PV markets, the US and China are seeing the fastest rates of growth among major markets in Q3’11."


    from solarbuzz - click to enlarge

    "While some manufacturers have started to cut back their production and shipment plans, tier-one Chinese companies have maintained their full year shipment guidance. If manufacturers meet their 2H’11 guidance, global shipments are forecast to exceed end-market demand by 4.4 GW.

    "Price cuts have started to stimulate 2H’11 end-market demand, but to date, this has occurred more slowly than expected…[D]ownstream companies across Europe face the unnerving decision of whether to build inventories…Failure to cut back production will result in soaring module inventory levels to almost 22 GW by the end of next year. In order to maintain the same level of inventory…production would need to be cut back by approximately 11 GW…"

    BETTER WAYS TO HEAT WATER

    Emerging Hot Water Technologies and Practices for Energy Efficiency as of 2011
    Harvey Sachs, Jacob Talbot and Nate Kaufman, October 5, 2011 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    "Water heating is typically the second largest energy end use in buildings in the U.S., exceeded only by space conditioning. Better buildings and technologies have reduced many energy loads such as lighting, refrigeration, and air conditioning, but hot water has received much less attention…

    "…[Recent] market forces, accelerated by the ENERGY STAR® Program, have stimulated availability and marketing of advanced water heating products that use much less energy. New work has documented high waste in hot water distribution, and ways to dramatically reduce losses…"


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    "ACEEE examined sixteen technologies and practices, and found that these technologies can save a cumulative 2.3 quadrillion Btu through 2025, or about 5% of projected demand in residential and commercial buildings in the year 2025 (43 quads). Collectively, they save an average of 37% of energy over federal minimum efficiency standards for water heaters and conventional water heating systems…

    "…[Some] do not promise high returns on investment (fast payback), but the technologies offer new or improved amenity that consumers value (shorter waits for hot water, continuous hot water, etc.). These technologies are likely to be chosen for these tangible benefits, and will also save energy…"

    QUESTIONS ABOUT QUESTIONS ABOUT SOLYNDRA

    Newly Released White House Emails Detail Early Concerns Over Solyndra
    4 October 2011 (Solar Industry

    "As early as 2009, officials from the Obama administration expressed worry regarding the financial viability of now-bankrupt module manufacturer Solyndra, according to newly released internal emails.

    "The messages were compiled as part of an ongoing congressional investigation into the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) loan-guarantee program and, specifically, Solyndra's 2009 loan guarantee."


    click to enlarge

    "…[S]ome official… warned against having President Obama visit Solyndra's factory in 2010 - pointing out that the trip may be ‘embarrassing in the not-too-distant future’ …[and] Brad Jones of Redpoint Ventures, a Solyndra investor, also reportedly questioned in a 2009 email why the company was receiving what seemed to be a disproportionately large loan guarantee…

    "The DOE maintains that the sentiments expressed in the emails represent normal discussion of investment risk and do not reveal any favoritism by the Obama administration toward Solyndra…"

    BIG BIG BP WIND FOR KANSAS

    BP to build $800 million Kansas wind farm in 2012
    Braden Reddall (w/Gary Hill), October 3, 2011 (Reuters)

    "BP Plc…[plans] to build an $800 million wind farm in Kansas next year…providing a lift for the U.S. wind power industry as its outlook dims with the looming expiry of federal tax credits..."The 419-megawatt Flat Ridge 2 wind farm will include 262 General Electric turbines spinning about 43 miles southwest of Wichita…[It] will be the largest installation for both the state and BP Wind Energy.

    "Subject to permits, BP will start work on the 66,000-acre (26,700-hectare) project within the next three months, employing as many as 500 people at the peak of construction with a target of commercial start-up by the end of 2012."


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    "Most of the electricity will be sent out of state, with Associated Electric Cooperative Inc signing a power purchase agreement for 314 MW that will help power its 875,000 members in Missouri, northeast Oklahoma and southeast Iowa…BP Wind Energy said it was actively marketing the remaining capacity to other customers in the Midwest.

    "But the U.S. wind industry faces a tough road ahead. Wind energy specialist MAKE Consulting has just trimmed estimates for turbine demand, citing lower expectations for China and the United States -- the latter due to uncertainty about production tax credits due to expire next year…The politics of renewable energy have also been greatly complicated by the troubles surrounding federal loan-backed solar company Solyndra…"

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    NEW ENERGY BIGGER THAN NUKES

    EIA data shows U.S. production of renewable energy greater than nuclear power
    October 3, 2011 (Electric Light & Power)

    "…[R]enewable energy has passed another milestone as domestic production is now greater than that of nuclear power and continues to close in on oil…During the first half of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass & biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 4.687 quadrillion BTUs of energy or 12.25 percent of U.S. energy production.

    "By comparison, renewables accounted for 11.05 percent of domestic production during the first half of 2010 and 10.50 percent during the first half of 2009. (On the consumption side, which includes oil and other energy imports, renewable sources accounted for 9.45 percent of total U.S. energy use.)"


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    "Energy production from renewable energy sources in 2011 was 17.91 percent more than that from nuclear power, which provided 3.975 quadrillion BTUs and has been declining in recent years. Energy from renewable sources is now equal to 79.83 percent of that from domestic crude oil production, with the gap closing rapidly…

    "Looking at just the electricity sector…for the first half of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 13.97 percent of net U.S. electrical generation — up 26.14 percent from the same period in 2010…[N]uclear power's contribution to net U.S. electrical generation totaled 19.12 percent representing a decline of 3.8 percent compared to the first half of 2010 and a drop of over 5 percent compared to the first half of 2009…[C]oal-generated electricity also dipped by 4.8 percent from its mid-year 2010 level…[N]atural gas increased by 2.4 percent."

    FOSSIL FUELS’ BIG ADVANTAGE

    Fossil-Fuel Subsidies May Rise to $660 Billion, IEA Says
    Tara Patel and Catherine Airlie (w/Rob Verdonck and Alessandro Vitelli), October 4, 2011 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    "Fossil-fuel subsidies may rise to $660 billion in 2020 from $409 billion in 2010, according to the International Energy Agency.

    "The biggest payers of subsidies are energy producers Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia, the IEA and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said today at a presentation of a joint study. The report recommends changing the subsidies to curb government spending and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions…"


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    "The poorest 20 percent of the population got 8 percent of the $409 billion last year…More than 1 billion people in the world have no access to power and these subsidies aren’t getting to them [and are going to the middle and upper classes]…

    "The support compares with $57 billion in 2009 for renewable sources, including wind turbines, wave machines and solar panels, rising to $110 billion in 2015, according to IEA figures published last year. Higher subsidies for fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide may undermine efforts to deal with climate change…"