NewEnergyNews More: December 2011

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  • Wednesday, December 21, 2011


    The 4 E’s of a New Energy Economy
    Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., December 19, 2011 (Clean Edge)

    "…[Colorado is] the American manufacturing home to the world’s largest wind turbine company, Vestas Wind Systems…[and] to some of the world’s leading renewable energy companies…[and] smart grid companies…[O]ur primary utility, Xcel Energy, is the country’s leader in wind energy…[E]ach state has the opportunity to achieve their own New Energy Economy…[and] advance what I call the “Four Es”: Energy Security, Economic Security, Environmental Security, and Equity.

    "…[E]nergy efficiency as well as clean, domestic, secure, and renewable energy sources can reduce our heavy dependence on foreign oil, and on aging, high-emitting coal plants – and perhaps one day eliminate them entirely…[O]ur troops in the field risk their lives to transport diesel fuel to power remote generators in dangerous parts of the world. We owe them an alternative…"

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    "…[A New Energy] economy creates jobs and economic prosperity…[D]uring the Great Recession [Colorado] actually saw growth in one industry: the clean-tech/clean-energy industry…[Perhaps] no industry in the world…faces a more significant opportunity to modernize and change than the energy industry. ..America should be at the forefront of that effort…

    "There is perhaps no greater challenge facing the next generation than reducing harmful emissions associated with energy generation and consumption. We continue to see the staggering impacts of climate change throughout the globe…We have an obligation to future generations…Inaction at the federal level means states need to lead…[And] we need to ensure that our move to clean energy is not achieved on the backs of our poorest citizens…[But to naysayers who] say that we can’t afford clean energy…I would argue we can’t afford not to pursue a new energy agenda. It is up to our generation to recognize and address the challenges of the 21st century with 21st century technologies…"


    Fixing The Value Problem: New Tool Assesses The Worth Of PV Installations
    Jessica Lillian, 20 December 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "How much is that PV installation on the roof worth? An April study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory confirmed that homes with PV enjoy a sales-price boost of approximately $3.90/W to $6.40/W when the properties are sold.

    "…[M]ore and more homes and businesses are outfitted with PV…[but] real estate appraisers and finance professionals have struggled to find a consistent method that allows them to properly add a solar installation's value to the property and associated mortgage…[Often] PV installations have received little or no value in real estate transactions…[Researchers] at Sandia National Laboratories…[recently]
    unveiled a new tool…to [value the PV system in the real estate transaction]…"

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    "Sandia's tool relies on…income capitalization…which can be used when comparables are limited or nonexistent…[T]he appraiser or homeowner determines the capitalized value of the net income that the solar installation can generate…[T]he user enters several values [in a prepared Microsoft Xcel spreadsheet], including the local electricity rate, the local utility's escalation rate, and operations and maintenance expenses over the remaining useful lifetime of the array.

    "The PV system's energy production is determined using solar resource calculations tied to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's PV Watts model, which accounts for factors such as resistance and shading. The user also inputs the age of the modules and inverters, the system's location, and its slope and azimuth…Ultimately, the model provides a range of appraisal values - a low figure, medium figure and high figure - for the present value of all energy remaining in the system…As more PV systems are installed, more data will become available - thus allowing the tool to undergo steady accuracy improvements…"


    On radar: Solutions to sidestep avian mortality; A clutch of vendors are touting radar as a way of cutting the worrying cull that wind farms inflict upon bird and bat species. Will this expensive remedy work, though?
    Jason Deign, December 15, 2011 (Wind Energy Update)

    "…DeTect has installed its Merlin avian radar system at 40 wind farms worldwide. And Robin Radar of the Netherlands now offers a similar system…A radar tracks any sizeable flying object and when it gets close to a wind farm the operator has the option of switching off nearby turbines or issuing a deterrent such as an alarm call.

    "The systems are even capable in some cases of distinguishing different types of birds based on characteristics such as wind beat frequency. DeTect has a product called Vesper to detect bats and the insects they feed on…The radar companies point to the success of their technology in reducing bird strikes in the aerospace industry and elsewhere."

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    Even the companies behind them admit it is still a little too early to tell…[O]nly a quarter of the Merlin systems currently deployed are actually used in combination with a wind farm supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for mitigation purposes. The rest are only used for monitoring, often as part of site evaluations…[and] DeTect’s smallest system sells for $500,000 and Robin Radar’s systems cost…quite a few hundred thousand euros…[so] wind farm owners will likely want to know what alternatives are available…

    "…DTBird camera-based visual bird tracking system sold by Liquen of Spain…comes with an automated acoustic alarm or turbine-shutdown feature and works on a turbine-by-turbine basis…This can be configured to respond only to particular types of birds, such as endangered raptors, and costs less than 1% of a turbine’s value to install and less than 1% of its annual operating profits to maintain…A visual system has the advantage that its effectiveness, or otherwise, is captured on film…[L]ess than 5% of birds stray into the rotor path after the alarm has sounded…However, DTBird does not work at night (although a more expensive night-vision model is under development) and, as with radar systems, there is no peer-reviewed data to support its efficiency; only a few turbines in Spain and Italy are currently equipped with it…"

    Monday, December 19, 2011


    Utilities in Power Squeeze as States Tie Mergers to Clean Energy
    Julie Johnsson and Bradley Olson, December 16, 2011 (Bloomberg News)

    "The surging pace of power-industry consolidation, with more than $31 billion in transactions pending in the U.S., is giving state officials… leverage to wrest more clean-energy investments from merging companies.

    "Exelon Corp. (EXC)…will invest $1 billion in Maryland, almost doubling its previous offer [ and has agreed to develop some 180 megawatts of New Energy, more than seven times its initial 25 megawatt pledge], to gain [Governor] O’Malley’s support for the company’s $8.05 billion takeover of Baltimore- based Constellation Energy Group Inc. (CEG)…Similar discussions are under way in Massachusetts, where Governor Deval Patrick’s administration is in talks with Boston- based Nstar (NST) and Northeast Utilities over how their combined companies would help meet the state’s renewable energy goals…"

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    "Tying state approval for mergers to investments in wind and solar may raise costs for utilities and drive more spending on renewable energy at a time when projects are faltering because of falling fuel prices…State officials and regulators have traditionally used their approval authority for utility mergers to protect the interests of consumers, often demanding concessions such as lower electrical rates or customer rebates.

    "As natural gas prices have fallen amid a U.S. production glut, renewable energy has become a more expensive option. Many projects aren’t commercially feasible without government incentives, so companies may need to be forced to invest…When considering whether a utility merger is in consumers’ best interests, [advocates believe] it’s appropriate for states to add renewable energy to the mix of considerations that include electric rates and reliability…"


    President Obama Announces $4 Billion Investment in Energy Upgrades to Buildings
    December 2, 2011 (Clean Edge News)

    "President Obama announced nearly $4 billion in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next 2 years…investments [that] will save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence, and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the construction sector. The $4 billion investment includes a $2 billion commitment, made through the issuance of a Presidential Memorandum, to energy upgrades of federal buildings using long term energy savings to pay for up-front costs, at reportedly no cost to taxpayers…

    "… 60 CEOs, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders committed to invest nearly $2 billion [more] of private capital into energy efficiency projects; and to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20% by 2020 in 1.6 billion square feet of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college and school buildings. This announcement builds on a commitment made by 14 partners at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in June to make energy upgrades across 300 million square feet, and to invest $500 million in private sector financing in energy efficiency projects."

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    "The commitments were announced by President Obama…former President Clinton…[and] representatives from… the Better Buildings Challenge…[an] Initiative…to support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades to make America’s buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade, reducing energy costs for American businesses by nearly $40 billion. Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all the energy used by the U.S. economy.

    "…[T]he U.S. Chamber of Commerce has recognized [the Presidential Memorandum] as critical to job creation…[It implements] existing federal authority to utilize Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs)… to promote energy efficiency and create new jobs…[N]ew energy efficient equipment [will be] installed at Federal facilities at no up-front cost…[The] improvements [will be] paid for over time with…[utility bill [savings], and the private sector contractors guarantee the energy savings."


    Facebook Unfriends Coal and Likes Clean Energy Thanks to Greenpeace
    Raz Godelnik, December 16, 2011 (Triple Pundit)

    "Greenpeace is celebrating…[its] Unfriend Coal Campaign that called on Facebook to power its data centers with clean energy instead of coal. After 20 months of mobilizing, agitating and negotiating to green Facebook, and with more than 700,000 people who took part in its campaign…Facebook finally agreed to go green, presenting a new commitment to give preference to clean and renewable energy.

    "The new agreement between Greenpeace and Facebook shows not only the journey Facebook completed during these 20 months, but also how Greenpeace is becoming one of the most powerful players in the world when it comes to mobilizing businesses and encouraging them to do the right thing."

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    "If you look at the details of the agreement, you see that Facebook wasn’t the only one that needed to make some adjustments to its initial positions – there are also differences between the original demands Greenpeace made with the pledges Facebook eventually made…

    "…Greenpeace had to compromise with regards to its initial demand that Facebook will become coal free by 2021…[A]nother] element of vagueness…[is Facebook] pledging to give preference to clean energy…[W]ould it be at any cost, or only if it doesn’t cost the company?…Still, this is an important progress. As Greenpeace knows very well, there’s black and white only in the world of watchdogs. The world of green business is about the shades of grey and most of the time compromise is necessary to actually get something done…[W]e should give it a ‘like.’"


    Hawai'i Public Utilities Commission Approves Contract For Kawailoa Wind Energy Project
    December 13, 2011 (First Wind)

    "The Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission…approved an agreement between First Wind and Hawaiian Electric Company for the utility to purchase renewable energy produced by the proposed 69-megawatt (MW) Kawailoa Wind project on Oahu’s North Shore…Under the contract, Kawailoa Wind Power, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based First Wind, will sell as-available renewable energy to Hawaiian Electric at pre-determined prices over 20 years, providing a valuable hedge against fluctuating oil prices.

    "The Kawailoa Wind project will be built on former Kawailoa Plantation land…owned by Kamehameha Schools. It will employ 30 Siemens SWT-2.3-101 wind turbines, each able to generate up to 2.3 MW…When completed, Kawailoa Wind will be the largest wind energy project in the state, able to generate clean, renewable energy equivalent to that needed to power approximately 14,500 Oahu homes. The project is scheduled to…be operating by the end of 2012…"

    First Wind's Kaheawa project. Kawailoa will have bigger turbines. (click to enlarge)

    "…First Wind developed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for Kawailoa Wind, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife of the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources. The HCP is a wildlife conservation effort that includes research funding and actions to protect and minimize incidental harm to federally listed species in the vicinity of the wind energy project…

    "First Wind also owns and operates two other wind energy projects in Hawaii…[T]he 30 MW Kaheawa wind energy project above Ma’alaea, Maui provides up to 9 percent of the electricity distributed by Maui Electric Company and is in the process of expansion. Kahuku Wind Power on Oahu's North Shore is also a 30 MW wind project that generates energy equivalent to the power for 7,700 Oahu homes…"


    Duke Energy Buys Two Arizona Solar Farms
    13 December 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "Duke Energy Renewables, a unit of Duke Energy, has purchased two large solar farms in Arizona, marking the company's first solar acquisitions in the western U.S.

    "The company has purchased the Ajo solar project and Bagdad solar project from Recurrent Energy. Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) will buy all of the output from both solar farms from Duke Energy Renewables under the terms of two 25-year power purchase agreements. (APS originally signed these agreements with Recurrent Energy.)"

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    "The Ajo solar project, located in Pima County, uses nearly 21,000 photovoltaic panels that can collectively generate almost 5 MW of electricity…[It went] operation in late September…The Bagdad project, located in Yavapai County, will use approximately 72,000 solar panels that can collectively generate 15 MW of electricity…[It will go operational] by the end of this year.

    "…International engineering and project management company AMEC designed and built the Ajo and Bagdad projects. AMEC will be responsible for operating and maintaining the sites under the terms of five-year service agreements…"


    Electric Vehicle Telematics; Navigation, Infotainment, Range Conservation, Charging Station Location, Battery Performance, Charging Costs, and Other Key Connected Applications for Consumer and Fleet Markets
    4Q 2011 (Pike Research)

    "Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are set to be some of the most “connected” vehicles on the road. Telematics systems for PEVs come in two varieties: basic telematics provide simple data connections for emergency services, charging equipment locations, and diagnostics/vehicle monitoring; and connected vehicle telematics provide live traffic, weather, streaming content, and cloud computing-based applications…

    "…Telematics provides the connection to utilities, grid operators, data providers, and owners’ smartphones. PEV telematics delivers information on electric usage, pricing, and state of charge to smartphones, while connected vehicle telematics will be used to deliver additional content and provide unique tools for PEV owners."

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    "PEV telematics are expected to play a significant role in the smart grid, as well. The ability of these vehicles to communicate with both utilities and the grid will help utilities anticipate the location and duration of PEV charging…

    "…Advance knowledge of where a load on the grid will be located or the length of time that a vehicle may be attached to the grid will ultimately help utilities manage the grid. PEV telematics will also aid in vehicle-to-grid (V2G) energy transfer, which will help manage demand response or grid balancing…This Pike Research report analyzes…plug-in electric vehicle sales, sales of basic and connected vehicle telematics, and global revenue forecasts through 2017, segmented by world region…"

    Sunday, December 18, 2011


    Energy Roadmap 2050: Renewables crucial for decarbonisation of the energy sector
    Alexandre Roesch, December 15, 2011 (European Photovoltaic Industry Association)

    "After several months of intense discussions, the European Commission presented…its Energy Roadmap 2050, exploring five decarbonisation scenarios to achieve an 85% domestic energy related CO2 emissions reduction by 2050.

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    "The Roadmap recognises the increasing role of electricity in this evolution, highlighting the…importance of starting the transition now…Renewables are, together with energy savings, seen as crucial pillars for the energy system transformation…beyond 2020…[I]n all scenarios, the share of renewable energy rises substantially, up to 97% in the electricity portfolio of the High Renewables Scenario."

    Against this background, however, the Roadmap lacks ambition when it comes to the post-2020 regulatory framework for renewables. It simply mentions the need for concrete ‘milestones’ for 2030, whereas EPIA and its umbrella association EREC (European Renewable Energy Council) are calling for a binding 45% renewable target for 2030.

    "While all decarbonisation scenarios feature similar overall system costs, proving that a purely renewable-based strategy is economically sound, the Roadmap leads to unrealistic conclusions when it comes to the prices of electricity in the High Renewables Scenario...[ due to its reliance on a questionable economic model]…This document will now serve as a basis for a political discussion under the Danish presidency, which intends to produce Council conclusions in June 2012."


    N.J. Solar Market Preview: With A New Energy Plan, What Lies Ahead In 2012?
    Jessica Lillian, 13 December 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "With the release of [New Jersey’s 2011 Energy Master Plan (EMP)], the PV industry is keeping a watchful eye on New Jersey - currently the second-largest solar market in the U.S.

    "…New Jersey's solar sector continued to undergo significant upheaval as 2011 progressed, and [the EMP] could provide market relief…Projects have flooded the market, the prices for solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) have tumbled, and ratepayer impact is a growing concern. The presence of solar arrays on prized spots on undisturbed land has also drawn criticism in this densely populated, land-constrained state."

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    "…[W]ithout some sort of intervention, New Jersey risks becoming a victim of its own solar development success…[T]he most important component of the EMP is its directive to temporarily accelerate RPS requirements in order to inject to more SREC demand and allow for the building of additional solar projects…The state will increase RPS requirements over the next three years and reduce the outlier years…[I] f the RPS were to remain on its old schedule, New Jersey could expect to experience "significant" job loss in the solar sector over the next two to three years.

    "…[The EMP also reduces] the solar alternative compliance payment (SACP), which is available to utilities as a substitute for holding SRECs…SRECs in New Jersey have experienced dizzying price movement this year, including a second-quarter drop from approximately $600/MWh to $160/MWh…As a result, they have finally decoupled from the SACP…With the SACP reduction, the EMP aims to reduce cost burdens for ratepayers who do not participate in the solar market, while still supporting continued project development…"


    NRG Energy's Bluewater Wind Puts The Brakes On Offshore Wind Farm
    13 December 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "NRG Energy… is halting active development of offshore wind projects for the near term. This includes the development of the Mid-Atlantic Wind Park, which had been planned off the coast of Delaware by NRG's subsidiary, Bluewater Wind…[but] Bluewater Wind has been unable to find an investment partner and intends to terminate the project's 200 MW power purchase agreement (PPA) with Delmarva Power & Light Co…the first offshore wind PPA in North America - by Dec. 23.

    "Since NRG acquired Bluewater Wind in November 2009, the company has made significant financial investments in development to move the offshore wind project forward...[T]he outlook for offshore wind was positive [then]…[Now] the outlook for offshore wind and for the Delaware project has changed dramatically…[due to the elimination of] funding for the DOE’s loan-guarantee program applicable to offshore wind, and the failure to extend the federal investment and production tax credits for offshore wind…[ rendering] the Delaware project both unfinanceable and financially untenable…"

    If Bluewater can build its project, it will have a big market. (click to enlarge)

    "NRG will close its Bluewater Wind development office but preserve its options by maintaining its development rights and continuing to seek development partners and equity investors. If and when market conditions improve and the company is able to find partners, NRG says it will look to deploy the wind park and explore other viable offshore wind opportunities in the Northeast…

    "NRG Bluewater's founder and president, Peter Mandelstam… has spent the last two weeks in Europe talking up the project to potential investors…[and said alternative plans are] in the works…"

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011


    Secretary Salazar Approves Transmission for Solar Thermal 'Power Tower' Project in Southern California; 150 MW Facility Will Generate Up To 450 jobs, $48 Million in Tax Revenue
    December 8, 2011 (Bureau of Land Management)

    "…[After extensive environmental review and mitigation of impacts, the U.S. Department of the Interior] approved a transmission line, access road and substation on public lands that will connect a 150-megawatt solar energy project to the power grid in California. The proposed project, Rice Solar Energy Project, will be built on private land in Riverside County and, when constructed, the facility is expected to power 68,000 homes, create up to 450 jobs, and generate more than $48 million in state and local tax revenue over the first 10 years of operation…"

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    "Proposed by Rice Solar, LLC, a subsidiary of SolarReserve LLC, the thermal ‘power tower’ facility will be located on 1,410 acres of previously disturbed private land near Blythe. The above-ground 230 kilovolt transmission line that crosses eight miles of land administered by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will connect with the Western Area Power Administration's Parker-Blythe #2 transmission line. The project’s innovative molten salt storage system can capture solar energy and deliver power to the grid even after the sun goes down…"


    Fishermen's Energy taking first steps to developing offshore wind farm
    Katie Eder, December 7, 2011 (NJBiz)

    "…[R]enewable offshore wind energy could power a substantial part of the New Jersey coastline by 2013. The latest energy master plan, finalized by the Chris Christie administration…supports the potential for offshore wind development, but the Board of Public Utilities requires a year’s worth of actual wind measurements before it can approve the installation of turbine equipment at a specific site — and Atlantic City offshore wind energy developer Fishermen’s Energy is aiming to get that data stat.

    "Last month, a group of Fishermen’s engineers from Lockheed Martin installed a wind measurement device — typically used to detect wind hazards for military defense, meteorological research and airports…With the readings from the equipment, known as the WindTracer, Fishermen’s hopes to get BPU approval to develop the country’s first offshore wind farm 2.8 miles off the coast of Atlantic City."

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    "…Rich Dunk, alternative energy applications director for Rutgers University, said the WindTracer is potentially ‘the most cost-effective monitoring technology for offshore wind resource assessments, (and) will enhance the accuracy and reliability of offshore weather forecasts…While Fishermen’s has installed and maintained a series of meteorological towers onshore at a cost of more than $6 million, the WindTracer’s price is considerably cheaper, at less than $2 million. The equipment’s accuracy in measuring wind speed and direction is also sizable, taking 300-foot samples within a 20-mile range every few minutes.

    "…Christie supports offshore wind power because it has the potential to create long-term economic benefits for New Jersey…[H]e signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, which calls for 1,100 megawatts of wind energy installed by the end of 2012. With its WindTracer equipment and meteorological towers, Fishermen’s has begun to develop a demonstration offshore wind farm that will produce 25 megawatts of energy…[Next is funding] to cultivate full-scale wind energy — and make New Jersey the leader in offshore wind power within two years."


    ABB invests in utility-scale concentrating photovoltaic solar power company; Strategic stake in US-based GreenVolts strengthens ABB’s focus on renewables
    December 14, 2011 (ABB)

    "ABB, the global power and automation technology group… has agreed to invest approximately $20 million as part of a $35 million financial round, for a substantial minority stake in California-based GreenVolts, a leading provider of turnkey concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems.

    "Through the investment ABB gains access to GreenVolts’ proprietary technology and can now offer turnkey solutions for concentrating photovoltaic power plants in addition to its current capabilities in solar thermal and conventional photovoltaic power plants."

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    "GreenVolts’ CPV system is more efficient than traditional photovoltaic and thin-film modules. By optimizing and integrating field-proven, high-performance components such as proprietary optics and tracking technology into a complete system, GreenVolts delivers energy yields that can be 30 to 40 percent higher than traditional panel-based systems…

    "GreenVolts solar systems are designed to meet the operational requirements of a wide range of applications for utilities and industries as well as commercial, agricultural, and public sector customers. The technology complements ABB’s recent acquisition of a stake in Novatec Solar, a leading provider of Linear Fresnel concentrating solar power technology…"


    BELECTRIC once again leading the global EPC market for solar PV systems
    2011 December 8, (SolarServer)

    "In 2011, BELECTRIC (Kolitzheim, Germany) is once again the global market leader in development and construction (EPC) of ground-mounted solar power plants and roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) systems.

    "For the second year in a row, BELECTRIC has installed more photovoltaic power around the world than any other company in the industry…391 MW installed…[a]cross all continents…62 solar power plants were constructed in addition to a multiplicity of large-scale roof-mounted photovoltaic systems, photovoltaic greenhouse systems and photovoltaic car park systems…"

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    "With 2,000 employees in 15 countries, BELECTRIC's leading position on the market is primarily due to full integration and in-house project planning. Nearly all system components (BOS), such as substructures and cable systems, are manufactured in house, enabling perfect adaptation of the system design and construction processes, which in turn results in reduced costs per generated kWh (LCOE) in the long run and high-quality results…within the specified time frame.

    "…With an equity ratio of 60% and a high credit limit, BELECTRIC is viewed as one of the most reliable partners by investors and banks responsible for project financing. At an index of 122, the independent rating from Creditreform is further proof of BELECTRIC's market leadership… When it comes to modules, BELECTRIC relies on the expertise and years of experience of First Solar and Solar Frontier…"


    Floating Maine wind farm under consideration
    Tux Turkel, December 10, 2011 (Portland Press Herald)

    "The Maine coast could become home to a pilot project [from the Norwegian energy giant Statoil North America Inc.] to create the country’s first deepwater, floating wind farm…

    "If the four-turbine [test] project wins [a commercial lease on the outer continental shelf 12 miles from the nearest land and] approvals and the developer goes forward, it could be operating in 2016 and generate as much as 12 megawatts, equivalent to the power needs of about 18,000 homes…Statoil’s application is a major step for Maine’s ambition to create an offshore energy industry…[where] wind resources are better…and the sites are far enough from land to minimize the visual impact for coastal residents…"

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    "To go forward, Statoil will need timely permit approvals from various government agencies, and decide in pending studies that the project makes business sense…It also will have to conclude that Maine is the best place for a commercial test of the technology, which Statoil and other companies are exploring in other countries…

    "Ultimately, the state is trying to encourage development of a commercial-scale wind farm with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts by 2020. Additional wind farms are contemplated by 2030, leading to…billions of dollars in investment for the state and supporting industries…Statoil’s test project alone is valued at about $20 million…A UMaine study last year…concluded that in 2020 it will be possible to generate power in the 10-cent-per-kilowatt range, on par with conventional sources. The cost of producing power from Statoil’s four test turbines would be more than twice as much because it’s a small project…"


    EON Supplier Pelamis Looks for Industrial Player for Wave Farms
    Louise Downing, November 25, 2011 (Bloomberg News)

    "Pelamis Wave Power Ltd., a U.K. maker of ocean energy technology, is looking to partner with a ‘strong’ industrial company in the next year to help bring its technology to market and deliver on its projects…The company, venture capital-funded for about nine years…has hired Ernst & Young to facilitate…looking at industrial players across the globe…

    "Energy from the waves and tides has the potential to meet as much as 20 percent of current U.K. electricity demand, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The government last month proposed boosting the number of [Renewable Obligation Certificates, or ROCs] on offer to marine energy developers from two to five…[making them] eligible to receive about 230 pounds ($387) a megawatt- hour…[which will help Pelamis find a partner by adding certainty and transparency]…"

    "The most likely strategic investors in Pelamis would be large power engineering companies that have not already chosen a wave technology to back…[such as] Siemens AG (SIE), which is backing Marine Current Turbines Ltd. in tidal power; Areva SA, which has invested in solar and wind technology companies; and General Electric Co. (GE), which is a big player in wind turbines…

    "Pelamis is currently testing two machines at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, northern Scotland, for its utility customers ScottishPower Renewables Ltd., part of Iberdrola SA, and EON AG. It’s also established a joint venture with Vattenfall AB to build a 10-megawatt project off the Shetland Islands…It has the technology, the sites and the customers though it doesn’t yet have the capability and capacity to deliver…"

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011


    $750 million wind farm proposed for area
    Josh Mitchell, December 10, 2011 (Wyoming Tribune Eagle)

    "The city of Cheyenne stands to make more than $100 million [from leasing land and property taxes] and possibly draw a wind blade manufacturing facility…The Morley Company of Jackson Hole [with strong financial backing from a Dutch bank] is proposing building a 300-megawatt, $750 million wind farm composed of 120 towers on the west end of the city-owned Belvoir Ranch, which is six miles west of the city…

    "The project would only consume a small portion of the 17,000 acres that the city owns at the Belvoir Ranch…[T]he city of Cheyenne only stands to gain from the plan…[It] won't be required to invest any money in the project…[but] could make between $72 million and $130 million by leasing the land to the company over 30 years…[though] it could be several years before the wind farm is actually developed…[if] Congress [is slow to] renew the federal tax credit for wind farms when it expires in a year…[Morley hopes] construction of the wind farm [can] start in three years."

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    "The development of transmission lines in Wyoming to transmit the wind energy to market also could contribute to the timing…[S]ix transmission line projects [are] being developed in Wyoming…[by the] Wyoming Infrastructure Authority…Wyoming stands to make money by selling its wind energy to California, which is under governmental mandates to use increasing amounts of renewable energy…

    "A new wind farm in the area also would increase the likelihood of drawing a manufacturing center…to build parts for the industry…[T]hree international companies are interested…[especially because there is] railroad access for shipping…A wind turbine manufacturer would be an estimated $500 million investment… and bring about 250 jobs…Prior to developing a wind farm at the Belvoir Ranch, there would have to be studies to ensure that wildlife and artifacts would not be harmed. This could take more than a year…Laramie County resident Paul Edner…said wind towers diminish the skyline."


    Solar Trade Complaint: Rumors, New Twists And Questions Answered
    Jessica Lillian, 8 December 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "…[The bipartisan] International Trade Commission (ITC)…voted 6-0 that there is a ‘reasonable indication’ that [Chinese solar cell and module trade practices] practices are detrimental to the U.S.' solar manufacturing industry…In response, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) - which has maintained a neutral position on the case - sought to [clarify and inform]…

    "The ITC's task is to ascertain whether the practices of the Chinese government have caused injury to U.S.-based solar manufacturers…[I]ts preliminary investigation…[found] unanimously that injury has likely occurred…The [U.S. Dept. of Commerce (DOC)]'s concurrent investigation will focus on PV product pricing, in order to determine whether Chinese modules were sold at ‘unfairly’ low prices (i.e., dumped) and whether producers and exporters have benefited from ‘unfair’ government subsidies…"

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    "The ITC will look at three factors - price, volume and impact - by collecting a wealth of quarterly pricing data…The initial complaint filed by SolarWorld and its partners in the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing specifically excluded thin-film PV modules from the investigation. Petition respondents, however, have said that they believe thin film should be defined as a 'like product' and, thus, covered in the investigation…

    "The next date to watch is Jan. 12, when the DOC is expected to make its preliminary determination on the countervailing-duty portion of the case…A final determination is planned for March 27, when the department will also release its preliminary determination on the anti-dumping component of its investigation…From May through July, both the ITC and DOC will make a series of final determinations, with orders for the countervailing-duty case scheduled for May 18 and orders for the anti-dumping case scheduled for Aug. 1…The U.S. government, however, has in place a measure to stop [importers from rushing as much product as possible into the U.S.]…"


    FERC Rules In Favor Of Wind Power In BPA Curtailment Case
    Laura DiMugno, 8 December 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ruled in favor of wind power in the Bonneville Power Administration's (BPA) highly contested decision to curtail wind and other forms of generation this spring during a period of hydropower oversupply.

    "FERC ruled that BPA's actions unduly discriminated against wind energy and gave preferential treatment to hydropower when it opted to curtail 350 MW of wind generation instead of allowing water to spill over hydroelectric dams…"

    "As a result of the ruling, BPA will no longer be allowed to use this policy, and must submit to FERC, within 90 days, a revised open-access transmission tariff that…provides transmission service that is ‘not unduly discriminatory or preferential’…[FERC also recognized in its ruling the wider issue of a lack of sufficient transmission capacity to integrate variable energy resources, especially wind power]…

    "BPA expressed disappointment with FERC’s decision, and acknowledged that oversupply will continue to be a challenge in the region…At the time, BPA claimed its curtailment decision was necessary to protect salmon and steelhead, maintain the reliability of the power grid and avoid shifting costs to customers. However, a report issued this fall by salmon industry group Save Our wild Salmon (SOS) denies the validity of those claims…"

    Sunday, December 11, 2011


    Climate Deal Doesn't Make Things Better
    Arthur Max and Karl Ritter (with Seth Borenstein), December 11, 2011 (Time Magazine)

    "The hard-fought deal at a global climate conference in South Africa keeps talks alive but doesn't address the core problem: The world's biggest carbon polluters aren't willing to cut emissions of greenhouse gases enough to stave off dangerous levels of global warming…With many scientists saying time is running out, a bigger part of the solution may have to come from the rise of climate-friendly technologies being developed outside the U.N. process…

    "A report released before the Durban talks by the U.N. Environment Programme said greenhouse gas emissions need to peak before 2020 for the world to have a shot of reaching that target. It said that's doable only if nations raise their emissions pledges…In Durban, they did not…Sunday's deal extends by five years the Kyoto Protocol…The Durban agreement also envisions a new accord with binding targets for all countries to take effect in 2020. [Negotiators overcame gridlock in the final hours and kept the process moving by laying out rules for monitoring and verifying emissions reductions, protecting forests, transferring clean technologies to developing countries and scores of technical issues]…"

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    "…Climate talks have been bogged down by rifts between rich and poor, between fully industrialized nations and emerging economies, about how to share the burden of reducing greenhouse emissions…Meanwhile, the atmosphere keeps filling up with heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels…Figures from the U.N. weather agency show the three most powerful greenhouse gases reached record levels last year and were increasing at an ever-faster rate…And the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the total heat-trapping force from major greenhouse gases has increased 29 percent since 1990…

    "…[S]ome say the diplomatic effort to solve the climate issue has already failed, and that the answer lies in the development of green technologies outside the U.N. process…Even in Durban, there was a growing recognition that the transition to a low-carbon economy must be underpinned by a revolution in new energy...The process now lives on, but the difficult part lies ahead: raising the targets for emissions cuts enough to slow the rise in temperatures. Right now, there are few signs suggesting that's going to happen…That means efforts to reduce emissions through national and local regulations, and in the private sector through new technologies…"


    …Japan Designs New Wind Turbine with Triplet the Output of Traditional Models
    5 December 2011 (Energy Digital)

    "…[I]n the same month as one of the world's worst nuclear crises devastated Fukushima, an incredibly innovative wind turbine system [began field testing in Japan]. With a promise to generate two to three times the power of traditional models, the new turbine designs exemplify the potential for a cleaner [non-nuclear] energy future…[The new turbine design] could make the cost of wind power less than coal and nuclear energy.

    "The two major concerning issues with traditional turbines have been their general inefficiency and intolerable noise…[A]ttaching an inward curving ring around the perimeter of a turbine's blades increases the focus of airflow…through the blade zones at two to three times the speed…[It also mproves safety and reduces noise]…"

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    "…[A] hexagonal-shaped [floating] base for the turbines…would be low in cost, but still strong enough to endure marine conditions…[B]ases would…make it easier to link other turbines at sea together and enlarge platforms…

    "Although the 'wind lens' appears simple, it consists of complex technological planning and extensive field testing…As of March…two units of turbines with a capacity of 70 to 100 KW (blade diameter of 12.8) have been installed…[S]maller units with a capacity of 3 to 5 KW (blade diameter of 2.5 meters) have been picked up by some industrial users and installed in many locations…The floating Windlens systems have been tested in a water tank at an in-house laboratory at the University, but actual field test installations for the first marine turbines are almost ready…"


    Smart Transportation Systems; Intelligent Transportation Technologies in the Age of Smart Cities: Traffic Management, Smart Charging, Public Transit, and Vehicle-to-Vehicle Systems
    4Q 2011 (Pike Research)

    "…Smart electric vehicle (EV) charging, citywide traffic monitoring, real-time traveler information, transit signal priority, and centralized fleet vehicle management can all be classified as forms of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) or smart transport. What makes them smart is the use of embedded intelligence to connect vehicles to each other and to infrastructure, as well as to central operational sites. Transportation systems are also considered smart when they are applied to achieve smart policy goals in the urban environment, such as enhanced mobility, lower emissions, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, or economic competitiveness."

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    "Demand for ITS will grow in both the developed and developing economies. Developed economies will see ITS as a cost effective way to maximize existing transportation infrastructure and improve city services. Developing cities will incorporate ITS as they build out their transportation infrastructure. Pike Research estimates that global investment in smart transportation systems will total $13.1 billion between 2011 and 2017. Most of this investment will be in intelligent traffic management systems, as this is the sector with the broadest range of potential applications. It is also the sector that is applicable for all cities and it is expected that interest will grow in developing countries in the latter part of this forecast period…"

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011


    Buffett Gets High Rates, U.S. Incentive in $2 Billion Solar Bet
    Christopher Martin (w/Marc Roca, Noah Buhayar, Will Wade and Dan Kraut), December 7, 2011 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    "Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which agreed to buy [the $2 billion 550-megawatt Topaz solar farm from First Solar Inc.] in California may have picked the right time to invest in the industry.

    "The 550-megawatt Topaz project will qualify for a federal incentive because it began construction last month, and will sell power under a long-term [power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric] that was completed before prices for solar panels fell 44 percent in the last year…"

    "Topaz, which will use First Solar panels, may be the last large solar farm to qualify for the U.S. Treasury Department incentive program, which is set to end this year. It will likely sell power at a higher price than projects that are seeking utility contracts now…First Solar projects that are currently being built will sell power for 14 cents to 16 cents a kilowatt-hour…By 2014…its solar farms [will likely] sell power at 10 cents to 12 cents a kilowatt-hour…

    "Prices for power sold under these long-term contracts are coming down, and the expected expiration Decenber 31 of the Treasury Department 1603 program, which offers cash grants equal to about 30 percent of renewable energy projects’ development costs] may further erode profit margins for large projects…First Solar received $3.1 billion in federal loan guarantees for three other solar projects that it later sold…The billionaire’s endorsement may also help First Solar sell other solar farms, even if they have power-purchase deals with lower rates…"


    An unfair fight for renewable energies
    Arnold Schwarzenegger, December 4, 2011 (Washington Post)

    "…[I]t is absurd that our federal government spends tens of billions of dollars annually subsidizing the oil industry, which pulls diminishing resources from underground, while the industry focused above ground on wind, solar and other renewable energies is derided in Washington.

    "Federal support for development of new energy sources is lower today than at any other point in U.S. history, and our government is forcing the ¬clean-energy sector into a competitive disadvantage. To bring true competition to the energy market, ensure our national security and create jobs here rather than in China or elsewhere, we must level the playing field for renewable energies…[W]e should not demonize fossil fuels…[But] support for energy innovation has always helped drive America’s growth."

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    "Renewable energies, however, have not been treated the same way. When the oil, gas and nuclear industries were forming, federal support for those energies totaled as much as 1 percent of federal spending. Subsidies available to the renewables industry today are just one-tenth of 1 percent…[T]he conversation in Congress shouldn’t be about attacking green energy or cutting all oil subsidies…[It] should be about leveling the playing field so that renewables are bound by the same rules as fossil fuels. We must make it a national priority to clear the red tape and bureaucracy that puts renewables at a disadvantage…

    "Imagine what the renewables industry would look like if the federal government leveled the playing field and showed the same dedication we have in California. Our green sector is the brightest spot in California’s economy, having grown 10 times faster than any other business sector since 2005. Today, one in every four jobs in the U.S. solar industry is in California. One-third of U.S. clean-tech venture capital flows into our state. Nurturing the green-tech sector was the right thing for me to do as governor, and it is the right thing for the federal government to do…"


    EU to lead race for renewables
    December 5, 2011 (UPI)

    "While the outlook for the United States is uncertain, European countries are set to lead the development of renewable energy [according to Pulitzer Prize-winning energy analyst Daniel Yergin]…The European Union has established ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and expanding renewable energy use by 2020 [Yergin said]…Europe is leading the way in new renewable energy technology."

    [Yergin:] "Europe, particularly Germany, will be a laboratory for offshore wind…It's the next frontier for renewable power."

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    "The United States is rich in alternative resources like shale natural gas…[and this] is expected to shake up the energy mix in one of the world's top consumers of conventional fossil fuels.

    "Though the United States doesn't have firm national laws regarding renewable energy, some states do and lawmakers are focusing on a national renewable agenda…Nevertheless, with the U.S. economy slowly moving out of recession, the focus on renewable energy should wan, said Yergin…"


    2011 Venture Capital funding in solar to date surpasses 2010 levels; More than half a billion VC dollars raised since the Solyndra bankruptcy announcement
    December 5, 2011 (Mercom Capital)

    "According to the preliminary numbers compiled by Mercom Capital Group, Venture Capital (VC) funding in the solar sector so far this year has surpassed 2010 totals. Year to date VC funding (as of Nov. 30, 2011) amounts to $1.71 billion compared to $1.67 billion in in 2010."

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    "The number of venture deals this year crossed the 100+ mark for the first time and will make 2011 the best year in terms of number of venture deals in a year...[M]ore than half a billion VC dollars went into 30+ deals since the Solyndra bankruptcy announcement, at the end of August."


    53% of China's turbines upgraded following safety inspections
    Wu Qi, 2 December 2011 (Windpower Monthly)

    "China has upgraded 53% of its wind farms following a nationwide inspection to ensure safety operation, according to the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC)...[S]ince August when it started a nationwide inspection of wind farms, [SERC] has examined 360 wind farms that are connected to the grid and 80 wind farms that are under construction. The inspection found around 1,700 hidden dangers.

    "Since last year, wind turbines have frequently broken down in Chinese wind farms and the malfunctions continue to rise...SERC said that in the first eight months this year, there have been 193 accidents on wind turbines. They included 54 accidents that led to a 100-500MW being disconnected, and 12 accidents that each led to over 500MW of turbines being disconnected."

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    "...[SERC said the] accidents exposed fluctuations in Chinese wind farm operation, discordance in wind farm planning and construction, difficulty in wind power grid-access and consumption, and low overall competitiveness of wind turbine manufacturing sector...

    "[Only] 34 key wind farms with an overall capacity of 4.34GW, have a low voltage ride through (LVRT) capacity [that protects the grid]. This was a priority for SERC...Grid-access inspection, another priority, is making slow progress...because China has only one testing organisation with qualifications for the inspection..."


    U.N. climate talks move slowly as new studies urge more dramatic emissions cuts
    Juliet Eilperin, December 6, 2011 (Washington Post)

    "…[A]s researchers warned that if nations don’t bolster their plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions, much more costly reductions will be needed after 2020...[and with] just three days left in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Durban, South Africa, the major contributors to the world’s carbon output were divided over how to forge a more comprehensive approach to reducing emissions.

    "The fundamental sticking the same conflict that has dominated international negotiations for years: The existing global-warming treaty does not impose binding emissions cuts on some of the world’s top emitters, either because they were not originally bound or because they refused to ratify the agreement. Now, with the first commitment period of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol set to expire at the end of next year, delegates are wrangling over what sort of process should guide talks aimed at forging a new global warming treaty by 2020."

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    "...[D]elegates are “stuck” on whether industrialized nations would adopt new climate targets under the Kyoto treaty starting in 2013 and what role the United States, China and India would play under a new climate framework...The European Union...[will] agree to a second round of emissions cuts only if the United States and major developing countries such as China and India sign on to a 'road map' that aims to forge a binding agreement on reductions by the end of the decade.

    "Negotiators for China — which is the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter but is not obligated to make cuts under the Kyoto treaty — said publicly last weekend that they might be open to joining a legally binding treaty, but they have shown little willingness to make concessions in private sessions with other countries...American officials have emphasized that they want a better sense of what a binding agreement would look like before they sign off on a process to create one..."

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011


    Flexibility at Durban gives hope
    Lan Lan and Li Jing, 2011 December 6 (China Daily)

    "China's openness toward a legally binding climate deal that would come into effect after 2020 has given a boost to the ongoing climate change talks in Durban…Experts said the flexibility that China showed is encouraging, but it's also important to pressure developed countries for much deeper emission reduction targets…"

    "…Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate negotiator… laid out five preconditions [for] a legal framework, including an extension of the Kyoto Protocol and actions by developed countries to help developing countries adapt to climate change…Xie, deputy minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said there are no new requirements, but countries need to implement the commitments and legal documents that have already been agreed to."

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    "Tim Gore, Oxfam climate change policy adviser, said what seems to be missing in China's conditions is requesting deeper emission reduction targets from developed countries before 2020…The fate of the Kyoto Protocol, regarded as the cornerstone and most crucial issue at the meeting by developing countries, is still in the air one week into the conference…

    "…Developed countries are being urged to sign onto a new round of enforceable pledges under the Kyoto Protocol…The first commitment period of the treaty will expire in 2012…So far, no country has said they will not continue the Kyoto Protocol, while some said they won't have a second commitment period…A plausible outcome of the Durban meeting seems to be that the EU and some other developed countries confirm their targets for a second commitment period…China also announced it is looking to expand cooperation with climate vulnerable countries, such as small island states, least-developed countries and African nations…"


    Fact Check: Gingrich on Climate Change; Newt Gingrich went too far when he claimed that "I've never favored cap-and-trade."
    Brooks Jackson, December 5, 2011 ( via USA Today)

    "…[H]e's never favored the approach taken by Democrats, but he said in 2007 that he would ‘strongly support’ cap-and-trade if combined with ‘a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions.’ …[I]n House testimony in 2009 that he [said he] still might support a cap-and-trade system covering ‘the 2,000 most polluting places,’ if packaged with incentives for nuclear power and ‘green coal,’ among other things.

    "…[He] has said there's enough scientific evidence to warrant government action, and has never stood with those conservatives who dismiss evidence of human causation as a hoax.’…But at times he's hedged his stand on the evidence…[saying] the evidence is ‘sufficient’ to warrant acting ‘urgently’ and that there is a ‘wealth of scientific data’ that warming is taking place. But at other times he's said that global warming is ‘probably’ happening and that there's no ‘conclusive’ proof of it, or that humans cause it. He's even suggested that the Earth may be about to move ‘into a long cooling period.’"

    "And he's also gone from voicing strong — though conditional — support for a cap-and-trade approach to his current position focused entirely on encouraging development of new technologies, with no mention of capping emissions.

    "The former speaker's most recent attempt to explain his evolving position came in a Dec. 3 appearance at a Fox News forum...[but] Gingrich went overboard when he [said] he "never favored cap-and-trade." That's not true. He would have been accurate to say he never favored ‘[Nancy] Pelosi's cap-and-trade…But the truth is that he said in 2007 that he ‘strongly’ supported the concept of a cap-and-trade system to address climate change, if packaged with incentives. He even said the world would be ‘much better off’ if President George W. Bush had not rejected the idea of a mandatory cap on carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants in 2001, and adopted such a cap-and-trade-plus-incentives package…"


    New Money, Investors, and Finance Models Needed to Keep US Renewable Energy on Track
    21 November 2011 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

    "With electricity demand weak and stimulus funds dwindling, the US renewable energy sector must attract new investors and make use of unique tax-based financing structures in the next 18 months or risk a sharp drop in new project builds, according to new research by specialist research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance…

    "The clean energy industry in the US has been a major beneficiary of public support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in the form of over $65bn in tax credits, grants, and soft loans. But nearly all of those stimulus funds have now been deployed. Unless the private sector steps into the breach with substantial new investment, project development will slow…"

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    "…Growth in the US renewable sector has been largely driven by the availability of tax equity or its temporary substitute in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the cash grant…Alternative sources of tax equity may need to emerge to meet [the $7 billion] market demand for project finance…There is a vast pool of potential incremental tax equity supply: the 500 largest public companies in the US alone paid $137bn in taxes over the past year…Expiry of the cash grant should not be expected to result in collapse of the US renewable sector…However, significant uncertainty will remain until Congress reaches a decision about whether or not to extend the production tax credit…

    "…The three primary tax equity structures offer distinct advantages to developers and tax equity investors…partnership flip…sale leaseback…[and] an inverted lease…The economics of these structures can be attractive…[Developers can get] returns of 6-19% and investors [can get] 10-49% for wind projects…The choice of investment versus production tax credits (ITC vs. PTC) comes down to the three ‘P’s: performance, perspective and priorities…The optimal tax equity structure depends on the project characteristics... but perfect optimisation may be a pipedream..."

    Sunday, December 4, 2011


    ITC Ruling Will Initiate Complete Investigation Into Solar Disparity
    Michael Bates, 2 December 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "The International Trade Commission (ITC) has made a preliminary determination in its anti-dumping and countervailing-duty investigation into Chinese solar cell and module trade practices, having voted 6-0...that there is a "reasonable indication" that those practices are detrimental to the domestic solar industry.

    "With this vote, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has been given the green light to continue investigating the allegedly unfair or illegal importation of Chinese crystalline-silicon photovoltaic products - namely, that cells and modules are being sold in the U.S. at prices under fair value and that the Chinese government is unfairly subsidizing its own manufacturing base."

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    "Hanging in the balance of these investigations is whether anti-dumping and countervailing duties will be established to prevent Chinese anti-competitive practices and level the playing field for U.S. solar manufacturers.

    "The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), led by SolarWorld Industries America Inc., filed the cases with the ITC and DOC in October…The DOC is expected to make a ruling, perhaps as soon as mid-January, regarding preliminary remedies. These remedies could include, for instance, a requirement that Chinese importers deposit estimated duties on imports they made…"


    Looming tax-credit expiration puts wind industry "under a dark cloud"
    Mark Jaffe, December 1, 2011 (Denver Post)

    "After two strong sales years,Vestas Wind Systems, which has four factories in Colorado, is bracing for the market to "fall off a cliff" if Congress fails to renew a wind-energy tax credit.

    "The wind-production tax credit, or PTC, is set to expire at the end of 2012, and that could lead to as much as an 85-percent drop in wind installations…Denmark-based Vestas, the world's largest wind-turbine maker, has invested $1 billion in four plants in…[in the U.S.] and created 1,700 jobs, including suppliers…"

    click thru to participate

    "There is a lobbying effort to extend the credit, with Democratic and Republican lawmakers supporting the effort…The tax credit is equal to 2.2 cents for each kilowatt-hour generated and is the element that helps the industry with financing and competition with other types of power plants…

    "…[Forecasts] for 2012 [suggest] a record 10.7 gigawatts of wind installations in 2012, and without the tax credit, that is projected to drop to 1.5 gigawatts in 2013…"


    Affordable solar: It's closer than you think; It's time to stop thinking of solar energy as a boutique source of power, says Joshua Pearce.
    Marcia Goodrich, December 1, 2011 (PhysOrg)

    "…[Joshua] Pearce, an associate professor of electrical engineering and materials science at Michigan Technological University…[said solar energy] is about to go mainstream…It's a matter of economics. A new analysis by Pearce and his colleagues at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, shows that solar photovoltaic systems are very close to achieving the tipping point: they can make electricity that's as cheap—sometimes cheaper—as what consumers pay their utilities.

    "…First, the price of solar panels has plummeted… [in the last 2 years by] 70 percent…But more than that, the assumptions used in previous studies have not given solar an even break…To figure out the true cost of photovoltaic energy, analysts need to consider several variables, including the cost to install and maintain the system, finance charges, how long it lasts, and how much electricity it generates. Pearce and his colleagues performed an exhaustive review of the previous studies and concluded that the values given those variables were [inaccurately assessed]…"

    An LCOE cited by the Pearce study as accurate - but dated (click to enlarge)

    "…[M]ost analyses assume that the productivity of solar panels will drop at an annual rate of 1 percent or more…[but the new study found it is…much less, between 0.1 and 0.2 percent…[Equipment cost in 2011] is under $1 per watt for solar panels purchased in bulk on the global market, though system and installation costs vary widely. In some parts of the world, solar is already economically superior, and the study predicts that it will become increasingly attractive in more and more places…

    "Based on the study, and on the fact that the cost of conventional power continues to creep upward, Pearce believes that solar energy will soon be a major player in the energy game…[when] market economics catches up…"

    Thursday, December 1, 2011


    More Spring Cleaning Out of Season
    Urs Holzle, November 22, 2011 (The Google Blog)

    "…[W] e’re in the process of shutting a number of products which haven’t had the impact we’d hoped for, integrating others as features into our broader product efforts, and ending several which have shown us a different path forward. Overall, our aim is to build a simpler, more intuitive, truly beautiful Google user experience…

    "…Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE [less than] C)… was developed as an effort to drive down the cost of renewable energy, with an RE [less than] C engineering team focused on researching improvements to solar power technology. At this point, other institutions are better positioned than [] to take this research to the next level…"

    From GoogleGreen via YouTube

    "…[W]e’ve published our results to help others in the field continue to advance the state of power tower technology, and we’ve closed our efforts…

    "…[Google Ventures and Google Treasuries] will continue our work to generate cleaner, more efficient energy—including our on-campus efforts, procuring renewable energy for our data centers, making our data centers even more efficient and investing more than $850 million in renewable energy technologies."


    To maintain renewable energy’s rapid growth, new IEA study assesses challenges and shows how to overcome obstacles
    23 November 2011 (International Energy Agency)

    "Renewables are now the fastest-growing sector of the energy mix and offer great potential to address issues of energy security and sustainability, but their rapid deployment is also bringing a host of challenges…Deploying Renewables 2011: Best and Future Policy Practice, analyses the recent successes in renewable energy, which now accounts for almost a fifth of all electricity produced worldwide, and addresses how countries can best capitalise on that growth to realise a sustainable energy future…"

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    "...The new IEA book…Provides a comprehensive review and analysis of renewable energy policy and market trends…Analyses in detail the dynamics of deployment and provides best-practice policy principles for different stages of market maturity…Assesses the impact and cost-effectiveness of support policies using new methodological tools and indicators…[and] Investigates the strategic reasons underpinning the pursuit of RE deployment by different countries and the prospects for globalisation of RE…"


    LED Lighting to Capture 52% of the Commercial Building Market by 2021
    November 22, 2011 (Pike Research)

    "Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are gaining significant momentum as an alternative to incandescent and fluorescent lighting in commercial buildings, particularly as the cost of LED lighting technology continues its rapid decline…

    "…While the market share of LED solid-state lighting (SSL) is currently quite low, a new report from Pike Research forecasts that LED share will reach 52% of the commercial lighting market by 2021…LED lighting costs for various SSL products will be reduced by 80% to 90% in many cases during the next decade."

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    "…[I]ncandescent and less efficient T12 and T8 fluorescent lamps will be almost completely eliminated over the next 10 years. To take more than 50% of the market, LEDs will take share from compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting, and general linear fluorescents.

    "Pike Research forecasts that the global market for commercial lighting will reach $42 billion in 2011 and see a peak of nearly $54 billion in 2012 before gradually declining to about $30 billion by 2021. The decline will be due to the extended lamp life of both fluorescents and LEDs as they become the primary lamp types, increasingly displacing demand for replacements for less efficient and shorter-lived incandescent lamps…"