NewEnergyNews More: January 2012

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  • Tuesday, January 31, 2012


    Iberdrola Suspending New US Wind Farms Without Tax Credit – Executive
    January 25, 2012 (Dow Jones Newswire via Fox Business)

    "… Spain's Iberdrola SA (IBDRY, IBE.MC) has suspended planning for new wind farms in the U.S... anticipating that Congress may not extend a popular tax credit for the industry…Rich Glick, vice president of government affairs for Iberdrola Renewables…[said] there would be ‘close to zero’ megawatts of wind power built in the U.S. in 2013 if the credit isn't extended soon…

    "…[A] broader legislative deal to give payroll tax breaks to U.S. workers is being debated]. If the wind provision isn't included in that bill…to be voted on [by the end of February]… it might not be considered again until after the November elections…Wind farms that are producing electricity by the end of this year can claim the credit, and industry observers say 2012 could be a record year for wind installations as developers race to complete projects…"

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    "But the wind industry is scaling back future plans now because it takes years to plan a project and they can't count on any future tax credits…Acciona Wind Power North America… said the company's turbine assembly facility in Iowa might be able to keep its workforce at about 125 without the credit by shipping the turbines to wind farms in Canada, Mexico, or elsewhere. But it could be ramping up production and hiring more people if the credit were still in place…

    "The American Wind Energy Association and other trade groups support a bill that would extend the credit by four years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.)…suggested it should be part of ongoing negotiations on the payroll tax…[but] Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.), said provisions to delay enforcement of Environmental Protection Agency rule on industrial boiler emissions and to expedite the approval of the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada should also be part of the deal. Many Senate Democrats oppose both…"


    SEIA, LSA Submit Recommendations For Solar Energy Development On Public Lands
    31 January 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Large-scale Solar Association (LSA) say they have submitted comments on the supplemental draft programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for solar energy development in Southwestern states… issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM)."

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    "…[The] key principles…critical to the development of utility-scale solar power plants on public lands…[are]Flexibility for solar power plants to be responsibly developed outside of designated solar energy zones…Near-term identification of new solar energy zones suitable for project development…Coordination of transmission build-out in areas where solar energy development is occurring; and…Continued allotment of the resources and staff necessary for BLM staff to efficiently process pending project permit applications…"


    Revenue From Net Zero Energy Buildings to Reach $1.3 Trillion by 2035
    January 31, 2012 (Pike Research)

    "…[T]he goal of designing zero energy buildings, or buildings that consume as much energy as they produce through on-site and renewable energy systems, has emerged as the next major frontier. A number of countries and regions have already established long-term targets and regulations requiring zero energy building construction that will come into effect over the coming years, some as soon as 2016…

    "…[S]tringent regulations will accelerate adoption around the world…According to a new report from Pike Research, worldwide revenue from zero energy buildings will grow rapidly over the next two decades, reaching almost $690 billion by 2020 and nearly $1.3 trillion by 2035. That represents a compound annual growth rate of 43%, with much of that growth occurring in the European Union…"

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    "…[T]he European Union’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which governs EU building energy codes, will require nearly zero energy construction in public buildings by 2019 and in all new construction by 2021. The exact language of these new building codes is still being established, but it is clear they will drive significant investment in zero energy building technologies over the next few decades…

    "…Similar regulations have come into effect or are being discussed in the United States and Japan. While the technologies required to make zero energy buildings possible, such as efficient lighting and HVAC systems, improved insulation, solar photovoltaic and other systems, can add significant upfront cost, advances in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies will improve system performance and reduce costs…"

    Monday, January 30, 2012


    SolarWorld: Import Surge Shows Tariff Evasion By Chinese Solar Producers
    Jessica Lillian, 27 January 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "SolarWorld and its partners in the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) have unearthed new PV module import data that, according to the coalition, proves that Chinese solar producers flooded the market with product at the end of 2011. The CASM believes this information warrants the application of retroactive duties on Chinese imports.

    "SolarWorld filed its initial anti-dumping complaint and countervailing-duty petition last fall, claiming that low-priced crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV cells and modules from Chinese companies have violated international trade laws and harmed U.S.-based solar manufacturing…The International Trade Commission (ITC) made a preliminary determination last December that there is a ‘reasonable indication’ that Chinese manufacturers' practices are detrimental to the domestic solar industry…[The new CASM analysis] found that Chinese c-Si producers have more than doubled their imports into the U.S. since July 2011. This surge, the coalition says, constitutes ‘critical circumstances’ (as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce) and justifies the implementation of tariffs on imports dating back to Nov. 15…[A decision on that is due] Feb. 15."

    click thru for more info

    "Suntech…increased its imports into the U.S. by 76% in November, compared to October…[D]ata from the Customs and Border Protection's Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS)…[shows] Trina Solar's imports surged 209% in the first half of last December…[O]verall, Chinese imports of solar cells and modules in 2011 increased 346% by quantity and 138% by value, year-over-year. Since 2008, imports from China have risen 939% by value and 1,664% by quantity.

    "Whether the end-of-2011 ramp-up in imports is linked to the threat of potential duties, however, remains up for debate…Suntech…[said] the Dec. 31 expiration of the U.S. Department of Treasury's Section 1603 cash-grant program created a strong uptick in demand for the company's products in the U.S. Per the rules of the Section 1603 program, a solar developer needed to at least begin construction on a PV project by the end of 2011 in order to remain eligible for the incentive…Trina Solar similarly denied SolarWorld's claims…Analysts from Jefferies & Co. also attributed the spike in Chinese imports to normal seasonality trends and the end of the Section 1603 program…[President Obama has] indicated support of the complaint…"


    China Voices 'Deep Concern' Over U.S. Wind Tower Probe; Investigation by U.S. Commerce Department will examine whether towers from China and Vietnam were subsidized and sold at less than fair value.
    January 21, 2012 (AFP via Industry Week)

    "China expressed ‘deep concern’…after the U.S. launched a probe into Chinese wind towers that it suspects of being unduly subsidized and sold at a loss on the American market…[saying it would] hamper bilateral cooperation in the field of new energy…harm the interests of U.S. industries…[and] go against global efforts to tackle the challenges of climate change and energy security…

    "The U.S. Department of Commerce…[has] opened an inquiry on wind towers made in China and Vietnam…The petitioner for these investigations is the Wind Tower Trade Coalition, comprised of Broadwind Towers...DMI Industries...Katana Summit...and Trinity Structural Towers..."

    click to enlarge

    "…[China's Ministry of Commerce said if] hopes the U.S. side can respect relevant laws and facts, and abide by the commitment made at the G20 summit in Cannes that all countries should avoid introducing new trade protectionism…

    "A wind tower is the structure that supports the engine and blades used to generate wind energy, and the tower captures that energy…If the probe reveals the towers have been sold at a loss, the U.S. could take out anti-dumping measures, conforming to the rules set down by the World Trade Organization…In 2010, imports of utility-scale wind towers from China and Vietnam were valued at an estimated $103.6 million and $51.9 million, respectively…"


    Pike Pulse Report: Smart Grid Cyber Security Threat Management; Assessment of Strategy and Execution for 15 Leading Cyber Security Vendors

    "Smart grid cyber security remains a nascent market…[with] established smart grid specialists, niche players, and well-known enterprise security vendors…[C]yber security is often considered a mature market…[but] smart grid cyber security…is not mature at all. The leaders that we identify in this analysis are well positioned for today’s market but some of the large corporations entering the scene can shape a market to their own

    "…For the moment, size and scale appear to be somewhat of a disadvantage. Specialist companies have fared well. The ability to quickly react to the market has prevailed so far, but it is by no means certain that large size will remain a disadvantage in the future…"

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    "Some trends in the smart grid industry may cause significant change during the coming twelve months. Chief among those, utilities are making it clear that they see the most meaningful ROI in distribution automation, not in smart metering. Smart grid vendors, and therefore security vendors as well, are beginning to hear and process that message. The Leaders in our ranking already have done that.

    "This Pike Research report evaluates 15 of the leading cyber security threat management vendors in the smart grid market and rates them on 12 criteria for strategy and execution, including vision, go-to-market strategy, partnerships, product strategy and roadmap, technical innovation, geographic reach, market share, sales and marketing, product performance and features, product portfolio, control system focus, and staying power…"

    Sunday, January 29, 2012


    Gamesa Working With NREL On Wind Turbine R&D And Offshore Wind Technology
    27 January 2012 (North American Windpower)

    "Gamesa Technology Corp. Inc. and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are teaming up to study and test a variety of components and systems that will guide the develpment of the next generation of wind turbines designed specifically for the U.S. marketplace.

    "Gamesa and NREL will collaborate on work in three key areas: developing new wind turbine components and rotors for the U.S. market; researching and testing the performance of new control strategies; and devising models that will help advance the development of offshore wind in U.S. coastal waters."

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    "Using Gamesa's turbine platform as a laboratory, researchers will study the behavior of systems and how new designs, products or equipment can affect performance.

    "Chief among the goals of this research-and-development (R&D) project is the design of new products specifically for the U.S. market, with a sharp focus on interior and exterior components, as well as the rotors themselves…In addition, Gamesa and NREL will work to develop new control strategies that improve energy capture while decreasing loads…"


    Downstream Investments Now Supporting Photovoltaic Installer Innovation
    27 Janauary 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "With the solar energy industry maturing rapidly and expanding to newer markets, the focus of innovation and investment has shifted from panels to installations - the final critical step for monetization…[Start-ups raised over $1 billion, with SolarCity, SunRun, Recurrent Energy, SunEdison and Solar Power Partners leading the way]…

    "A flurry of mergers and acquisitions activity and an influx of venture capital dollars to solar service providers have led to innovation concentrated on creating new, lean business models in an extremely fragmented downstream landscape…SolarCity dominates among residential installers…[C]ompanies are partnering with SunRun, adding muscle to SolarCity's biggest competitor. The Alteris-Real Goods Solar merger in December has added a stronger player to the market."

    From solarcity100 via YouTube

    "…Commercial- and utility-scale solar have few up-and-coming players. Tioga Energy and Enfinity lead the group of new large-scale developers. The acquisitions of Recurrent Energy, SunEdison and Solar Power Partners led to concentration of large-scale development in the hands of larger companies or vertically integrated suppliers First Solar and SunPower.

    "New entrants keep popping up on the back of venture dollars…A burst of entrepreneurial activity, driven by venture capital, is ensuring a steady stream of high-potential start-ups. In 2011, six solar installers were among Inc. Magazine's top 50 fastest-growing companies in the U.S., including Greenspring Energy, re2g, SunDurance Energy, OnForce Solar and FLS Energy."


    Breaking Down the BEMS Market
    Jevan Fox, October 28, 2010 (Pike Research)

    "…Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS)…[from] Pike Research highlights that buildings over 500,000 SF represent the low-hanging fruit in the BEMS industry…[But] vast potential markets of smaller 25,000 SF, 50,001-100,000 SF, and 100,001-200,000 SF represent…$16 billion, $15 billion, and $16 billion, respectively, of annual energy expenditures, or approximately $47 billion when compounded. That figure accounts for approximately 80% of the total annual energy expenditures of all the other building segmentations.

    "…[T]hese segments are underserved by the BEMS market. Clearly, the 100,001 200,000 SF segment will provide the next potential market for BEMS players. It is already showing promise, as several BEMS vendors are focusing considerable attention on the segment. This is especially true of BEMS vendors providing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model…"

    click to enlarge

    "Additionally, the more energy progressive states and the more active grid operators in those states will drive utilities to assists in metering smaller buildings. As more buildings receive incentives to install meters, the costs to implement a BEMS will drop in parallel.

    "The DOE 2009 Buildings Energy Data Book states that the energy expenditure per SF 100,001-200,000 SF…is $1.57, representing an energy expense of $16,091,000,000 total for the segment. That is more than the total energy expense for any other segment, including 200,000-500,000 SF, 500,001 SF-1,000,000 SF, and greater than 1,000,000 SF. When looking to the smaller buildings (<100,000), the value proposition drops off precipitously, even though the total SF and energy expenditures per SF are high…"

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012


    State Of The Union Address Calls For Comprehensive Energy Approach
    Jessica Lillian, 25 January 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "Although President Barack Obama's Jan. 24 State of the Union address contained only a singular mention of solar energy, he reiterated his commitment to expanding clean energy project development in the U.S. and ending subsidies to fossil-fuel companies…

    "In a follow-up proposal posted online by the White House, Obama specifically called for a temporary extension of the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit as part of a broader manufacturing tax-reform proposal. This $5 billion investment would drive nearly $20 billion in domestic clean energy manufacturing, the White House said. The tax credit was previously oversubscribed more than three times over."

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    "During his address, acknowledging that Congress' partisan divide may prevent broad action on climate change, the president nonetheless urged Congress to set a national clean energy standard. However, he made no mention of the 80% by 2035 clean energy standard that he introduced in last year's State of the Union.

    "Much of Obama's energy-independence discussion centered on increased exploration of domestic oil and natural-gas resources, as he advocated for the ‘all of the above’ energy approach that has been frequently espoused by more-conservative policymakers. He noted that the same public-private partnerships used in the natural-gas sector may also be applicable to renewable energy investment…Global competitiveness in clean energy - and beyond - also requires an increased emphasis on ensuring fair trade policies, Obama said. To that end, a newly created Trade Enforcement unit will investigate cases of unfair trading practices…"


    Figtree Sells P.A.C.E. Multi-Jurisdictional Bond Placing California on the Leadubg Edge of Energy Efficiency Financing
    January 18, 2012 (Figtree Energy Resource Company)

    "Figtree Energy Resource Company…[issued] a $725,000 Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bond that will fund energy-efficient and renewable-energy projects in four different California cities. This PACE bond is the first-of-its-kind in the nation; it represents a new source of money for property improvements and a dynamic job creation program for local communities. The issuance of a multi-jurisdiction bond places California on the leading edge of energy efficiency financing.

    "Money raised by the bond will fund seven energy-efficient and renewable-energy projects in Fresno, Palm Springs, Clovis and Exeter, California."

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    [Mahesh Shah, CEO, Figtree:] “PACE bond financing provides property owners fixed-rate, property value based and no credit check financing…The taxable municipal bond was sold to the capital markets without any state or federal funding assistance – a 100% private program…”

    "Under Assembly Bill 811, California property owners in special assessment districts may enter into voluntary contractual assessments against their properties to finance energy and water efficiency products. The financed amount incurred by the property owner is repaid over time through annual property tax assessments with the charge appearing as a line item on the property tax bill…[The bill can both] lower greenhouse gas levels and reduce energy and water consumption…[and be] a stimulus program that spurs local economic growth and creates new jobs…"


    U.S. Commerce Department Investigating Unfair Trade Of Wind Towers From China, Vietnam
    20 January 2012 (North American Windpower)

    "The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has launched a formal investigation into the unfairly traded imports of wind towers from China and Vietnam…[following a complaint] filed by the Wind Tower Trade Coalition (WTTC) seeking investigation into the matter.

    "The DOC [found] an anti-dumping margin for China of 213.54% and an antidumping margin for Vietnam of between 140.54% and 143.29%....[T]he department has decided to investigate subsidy programs used by all levels of the Chinese government to support its wind turbine industry."

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    "Additionally, WTTC participated in a hearing at the International Trade Commission for the investigation into whether there is a reasonable indication of material injury or threat of material injury to the U.S. industry by reason of imports from China and Vietnam…

    "No Chinese or Vietnamese producers attended the hearing to testify on their behalf. Siemens Energy Inc. testified at the hearing in defense of their purchases of dumped and subsidized merchandise…The International Trade Commission's vote is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 10…"

    Sunday, January 22, 2012


    End to low natural gas prices 'inevitable'
    David Parkinson, January 17, 2012 (Globe and Mail)

    "After three years of deeply depressed natural gas prices (NG-FT) and facing another to come, Canada’s biggest natural gas producer is losing its stomach for the commodity...Encana Corp., (ECA-T)...[will] steer its multibillion-dollar capital spending program for 2012 toward oil and natural-gas-liquids drilling, and away from the “dry” gas deposits…With natural gas prices mired below $3 (U.S.) per million British thermal units – the first time in a decade that gas has been this cheap in the winter heating season – and with bloated inventories and unseasonably warm weather pointing to little relief in sight, drilling for gas is a money-losing proposition…"

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    "…The North American industry faces the prospect of losing billions of dollars just to replace the natural depletion of existing wells and maintain production at 2011 levels…And while many experts think the oversupplied market could keep prices depressed for much of this year, they say this growing reluctance to invest in gas production is bound to eventually take a big bite out of supplies, and finally turn prices around…[though] for more than a year many people have been saying that low prices were going to slow exploration and production, and boost prices – yet prices are even lower now than they were at the start of 2011…

    "One factor is that as producers have shifted their focus toward liquids-heavy gas properties, they have continued to unlock dry gas in the process – and they have been able to use the ample cash generated by liquids production to justify bringing otherwise uneconomic gas on stream…Hedging programs – under which producers agree to sell future production at fixed prices – have also helped sustain gas production…[Though] the Nymex natural gas futures contract for delivery one year from now is priced at a mere $3.67… shrewder hedgers have still been able to lock in comfortable prices for 2012…"

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    "…[Abundant] shale wells not only cost ‘three to four times’ as much to develop as conventional gas wells, their rate of depletion – the amount production declines over time, a natural phenomenon with all wells –….has risen from about 23 per cent five years ago to more than 32 per cent now…[C]ombined with the 20-per-cent surge in North American gas production in the past five years, (which makes for more and more depletions to replace each year), has meant it now costs the industry about $22-billion each quarter just to replace the annual depletions and maintain current volume levels. Yet those producers are seeing only about $12-billion a quarter in cash flow…The capital gap is now…40-billion a year…"


    Avoiding Bat Fatalities On Wind Farms: New Research Shows Promise
    17 January 2012 (North American Windpower)

    "…[R]esearchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Forest Service have developed a new technology to help wind farm operators tackle [the issue of bat fatalities]. The interactive tool, created by ecologist Ted Weller and statistician Jim Baldwin from the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station, is designed to help wind energy project operators make informed decisions on efficient ways to reduce wind farms' impacts on migratory bats.

    tool allows users to visualize how changes in date and weather conditions affect the probability of bat presence…Weller and his research team used devices that detected the bats’ echolocation calls, and then linked the presence of bats to the weather conditions measured on-site on a given night…"

    click thru for complete information on the bat protection tool

    "…They found that echolocation detectors placed at 22 meters and 52 meters above ground were more effective…than those located closer to the ground…[and] multiple echolocation detectors were required to accurately characterize bat activity…The researchers then built models to predict the presence of bats based on date and weather variables…

    "The researchers conducted the study at a wind energy facility in the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Resource Area near Palm Springs, Calif., and was a collaborative effort among government, industry and a nongovernmental organization…[including] PSW, Iberdrola Renewables, and the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative. The primary funding was provided by the California Energy Commission Public Interest Energy Research program…"


    First Solar Sets New CdTe Efficiency Record
    17 January 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "First Solar, Inc., claims it has set a new world record for cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic solar module efficiency, achieving 14.4% total area efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) confirmed the record, which eclipsed [First Solar’s prior record-setting] 13.4%..."

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    "The record-setting product was constructed using commercial-scale manufacturing equipment and materials at the company's Perrysburg, Ohio, factory. First Solar…updated its module efficiency road map in December 2011 to the increased goal of 14.5% to 15% average efficiency for its production modules by the end of 2015, and the process improvements developed for the record-setting cell and module continue to be implemented…"


    Dow Solar Names Three Colo. Solar Shingle Dealers
    17 January 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "Dow Solar has named the first members of an authorized dealer network for its Powerhouse solar shingles…Three Colorado-based roofing contractors - Academy Roofing, B&M Roofing of Colorado Inc. and D&D Roofing - will now offer the product to the Colorado residential market… Expanded availability of both the product and the dealer network is expected… in the coming months…"

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    [Jane Palmieri, Vice President, Dow Solar:] "We designed our solar product around the principle that the only people homeowners want and need on their roof are professional roofing contractors...[Naming these authorized dealers] ensures we will be in a great position to meet the needs of homeowners in Colorado by working with, equipping and training professionals who know the market."


    DOE Reports Show Major Potential for Wave and Tidal Energy Production Near U.S. Coasts
    January 18, 2012 (U.S. Department of Energy)

    "The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)…released two nationwide resource assessments showing that waves and tidal currents off the nation's coasts could contribute significantly to the United States' total annual electricity production, further diversify the nation's energy portfolio, and provide clean, renewable energy to coastal cities and communities…

    "…These new wave and tidal resource assessments, combined with ongoing analyses of the technologies and other resource assessments, show that water power, including conventional hydropower and wave, tidal, and other water power resources, can potentially provide 15% of our nation's electricity by 2030…[The] reports represent the most rigorous analysis undertaken to date to accurately define the magnitude and location of America's ocean energy resources. The information in these resource assessments can help to further develop the country's significant ocean energy resources, create new industries and new jobs in America, and secure U.S. leadership in an emerging global market."

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    "The United States uses about 4,000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year. DOE estimates that the maximum theoretical electric generation that could be produced from waves and tidal currents is approximately 1,420 TWh per year, approximately one-third of the nation's total annual electricity usage. Although not all of the resource potential identified in these assessments can realistically be developed, the results still represent major opportunities for new water power development in the United States, highlighting specific opportunities to expand on the 6% of the nation's electricity already generated from renewable hydropower resources…

    "…The West Coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, has especially high potential for wave energy development, while significant opportunities for wave energy also exist along the East Coast. Additionally, parts of both the West and East Coasts have strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy."


    New Project Will Study How To Avoid Offshore Wind Energy's Grid-Imbalance Issues
    20 January 2012 (North American Windpower)

    "AWS Truepower, a provider of renewable energy consulting and information services, has announced the official start of the H2OCEAN project at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB)…[F]unded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme…[the] H2OCEAN platform will harvest wind and wave power, using part of the energy on-site for multiple applications - including a multi-trophic aquaculture farm - and convert the excess energy into hydrogen.

    "A unique feature of the H2OCEAN concept…[is] transporting excess renewable energy generated offshore through hydrogen. This conceptual model avoids the grid-imbalance problem inherent to current offshore renewable energy systems and eliminates the need for cost-prohibitive cable transmission systems…"

    Parco Cientific Barcelona (click to enlarge)

    "According to AWS Truepower, H2OCEAN’s design plan will take advantage of the synergies among various activities carried out within the platform, minimize environmental impacts, and increase the social and economic potential of new maritime activities.

    "The consortium includes 17 companies and public institutions from five European countries from sectors including renewable energy, aquaculture, hydrogen generation and shipping."

    2011 WAS BIG FOR SUN

    Solar Capacity Rose 54% to 28 Gigawatts Last Year, BNEF Says
    Marc Roca, January 13, 2012 (Bloomberg News)

    "New solar capacity around the world increased 54 percent to about 28 gigawatts last year driven by record installations in Germany and Italy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance data shows…Photovoltaic installations rose to between 26.5 and 29.4 gigawatts last year [estimated at 28 gigawatts], compared with 18.2 gigawatts during 2010….

    "European governments from the Germany to Italy and the U.K. are curbing subsidies as prices for PV panels decline, aiming to choke off a boom in installations that started after they offered feed-in tariffs giving above-market rates for electricity from low-carbon sources…"

    Yet nowhere near what it could do (click to enlarge)

    "Solar installations grew around the world, driven by crashing panel prices…New spending on solar energy jumped 36 percent to $136.6 billion in 2011, outpacing the $74.9 billion put into wind power, and represented almost half of all renewable energy investment worldwide last year, BNEF said…

    "…[But]the strength of installations in the fourth quarter isn’t a reason for optimism in 2012. European markets will slow because of subsidy cuts, and while nearly all the other markets will continue to grow, they are smaller."


    Overcoming The Cold Realities Of The Offshore Wind Power Market
    Mark Del Franco, 19 January 2012 (North American Windpower)

    "The offshore wind industry requires patience from developers and investors who have the vision to support projects through the inevitable peaks and valleys associated with offshore wind energy…[An example is] NRG Bluewater's decision to not extend its power purchase agreement (PPA) with Delmarva Power & Light for a 200 MW wind project off the coast of Delaware…[It was a reminder of the cold realities of today's market…

    "…[T]he termination of NRG Bluewater’s contract should not necessarily be seen as the company’s failure to attract investment...[T]ime is required for offshore projects located in federal waters…due to the complexity of the regulatory leasing process."

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    "…[Investors are more optimistic about…Deepwater Wind's 30 MW Block Island project…[because it] is planned for state waters three miles southeast of Block Island, R.I…[and] does not require a full federal determination…[though] it still must work with federal agencies…

    "…[O]ffshore wind… is located 15 to 20 miles from the population centers…[so its power can readily be delivered] where the need is greatest…[There is] not only the cost of the power and the turbines, but also the transmission…[and offshore wind offers] economic and environmental benefits…[T]here is a lot of interest from international players, particularly from European companies that have already built offshore wind projects and are seeking U.S. participants with which to partner…"


    CPUC Votes To Strengthen Renewable Energy Rules For California Utilities
    16 January 2012 (North American Windpower)

    "The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has voted unanimously to strengthen a key clean energy policy in California called the "loading order," which sets a priority list for electricity sources.

    "California's utilities must first employ energy efficiency and conservation to meet customer demand, and then energy from renewable sources. Only after those supplies are exhausted may the utilities purchase power from fossil-fuel plants."

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    ":The CPUC already requires the state's three investor-owned utilities - Pacific Gas and Electric Co., San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison - to obtain certain minimum amounts of electricity through energy efficiency, demand-response resources and renewables.

    "But before the latest CPUC decision, the energy companies ignored the loading order once they had met these other state-required targets…The CPUC has ordered a halt to that practice…"

    Thursday, January 19, 2012


    2011 Sees $1.9 Billion in Solar Venture Capital, $4 Billion in M&A; No Sign of ‘Solyndra Effect’ Yet
    January 9, 2012 (Mercom Capital Group)

    "…Venture capital (VC) funding and M&A activity were strong in 2011, setting records for number of deals and M&A activity…

    "…VC investment in solar totaled $1.9 billion in 111 deals in 2011—the highest number of deals ever in a single year. By comparison, there were 65 VC deals in 2010, 84 in 2009, 93 in 2008, and 71 in 2007…"

    click to enlarge

    "…The top VC investor of 2011 was Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which completed eight transactions, followed by GE and Good Energies, with six transactions each. There were 182 VC investors in solar in 2011…

    "…While Solyndra dominated headlines in the United States and globally, over $700 million worth of VC investment came after the solar manufacturer’s bankruptcy announcement on August 31, 2011…Fourth quarter VC funding totaled $511 million, compared to $372 million in Q3, $354 million in Q2, and $658 million in Q1…"


    CPUC Approves More Than 1,000 Megawatts of In-State Renewable Energy Capacity that Will Contribute to California’s 33% Renewables Target
    January 12, 2012 (California Public Utilities Commission)

    "The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)…approved five renewable energy contracts totaling 1,088 megawatts (MW) of capacity with forecast annual generation of 2,927 gigawatt-hours (GWh), furthering the state's progress towards its [33% by 2020] renewable energy goals [the most ambitious in the U.S.]…

    "Southern California Edison received approval of three 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Solar Star California (SunPower) for the Quinto, AVSP I, and AVSP II projects…solar photovoltaic facilities that will provide 711 MW of new renewable capacity and an estimated 1,835 GWh of energy annually…near Los Banos and Rosamond, Calif…[T]he Quinto project…[should begin generating] in December 2014…[and] the AVSP I and AVSP II projects…in October 2016…"

    click to enlarge

    "Pacific Gas and Electric Company received approval of a 25-year PPA with Montezuma Winds II, LLC (NextEra) for the Montezuma Winds II project…a wind facility that will provide 78.2 MW of new renewable capacity and an estimated 201 GWh of energy annually…located in the Montezuma Hills of Solano County, Calif., a well-known wind resource area…[and] anticipated to begin [generating] in November 2012.

    "San Diego Gas & Electric received approval of a 20-year PPA with Ocotillo Express, LLC (Pattern) for the Ocotillo Express project…a wind facility that will provide 299 MW of new renewable capacity and an estimated 891 GWh of energy annually…located 25 miles west of El Centro in Imperial County, Calif…anticipated to begin [generating] in December 2012…"


    New York Solar Companies Receive $30 Million Investment From NYSERDA
    17 January 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the state Public Service Commission (PSC) have awarded $30 million to help fund large-scale solar power projects that will assist facilities in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley generate electricity…

    "The money was awarded to solar installers, solar developers and real estate owners, including Alteris Renewables Inc., altPOWER, Bright Power, ConEdison Solutions Inc., Earthkind Energy Inc., Martifer Solar USA, OnForce Solar Inc., Ross Solar Group LLC, SolarCity, Solar Energy Systems LLC, Solartech Renewables, SunEdison, SUNation Solar Inc., SunRay Power and MS Harrison LLC."

    click to enlarge

    "The projects were selected through a competitive process. The NYSERDA incentive pays up to 50% of the cost of a project, up to $3 million.

    "The $30 million represents the first of five years of planned funding under a $150 million Customer-Sited Tier Regional Program. This program was launched in mid-2011 to encourage large businesses, colleges and universities, schools and other large buildings to take advantage of renewable energy incentives specifically for New York City and the lower Hudson Valley."

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012


    London Array gets foundation approval
    Paul Garrett, 17 January 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    "An innovative type of wind turbine foundation designed for the UK's London Array offshore wind farm by contractor ABJV has received approval by industry certifiers…

    "…[A] conical joint is to be used at the top of the London Array [monopole foundations] to prevent transition piece slippage. Nearly 100 have been installed already."

    click to enlarge

    "Work on the new design was prompted by some problems previously reported in other monopile foundations. As well as addressing…grouting and slippage problems, the new design takes into account variation in water depths and moveable seabed conditions across a wind-farm site.

    "The 630MW, 17-turbine first phase of London Array, in the outer Thames Estuary in south-east England, is due for completion at the end of this year. It is being developed by a consortium of Dong Energy, E.on and Masdar."


    Suniva Solar Panels Powering Solar Array at Hangar Housing President’s Marine One Helicopter; Roof-top System to Reduce Site’s Electric Bills; Help Meet Rigorous DON Alternative Energy Targets
    January 10, 2012 (Suniva)

    "Suniva, Inc….announced its [high-efficiency crystalline silicon solar cells and modules] panels are being used to power the newest— and largest— solar array installed by FLS Energy at the Marine Helicopter Squadron 1’s greenside hangar at Quantico, home to the president’s Marine One helicopter.

    "The 120-kilowatt system features 500 of Suniva’s ART-245 panels and is expected to produce approximately 150,000 kWh of electricity per year—enough to reduce the site’s electric bills by as much as $10,500 annually and help the base…meet rigorous energy mandates set by the secretary of the Navy (50 percent of energy used to meet the Department of the Navy’s demand must come from alternative energy sources by 2020)…"

    click to enlarge

    "The solar photovoltaic system on the hangar is expected to provide two credits toward the LEED certification required under guidelines that all DON MILCON projects meet LEED standards. The building’s energy efficient lighting and HVAC system, low flow fixtures and other energy efficient technologies are expected to provide the rest of the credits required to achieve LEED Silver Certification.

    "Suniva's high-efficiency modules contain more than 80 percent U.S. content and are fully ‘Buy America’ compliant…"


    Alstom and SSE Renewables create joint venture to co-develop world's largest wave farm off the coast of Orkney, Scotland
    January 17, 2012 (Alstom)

    "Alstom and the leading Scottish marine developer SSE Renewables have signed a new joint venture agreement to develop the Costa Head Wave Project, an up to 200 Megawatts (MW) wave energy site located north of mainland Orkney, in The Crown Estate’s Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Strategic Area.

    "Alstom and SSE Renewables will work together to obtain the necessary permits and intend to populate the site with AWS-III wave energy converters, [a floating device with a rated power output of 2.5 MW]…Alstom acquired a 40% equity share [in the technology] in June 2011.. A 1:9 scale model of the AWS-III was tested in Loch Ness in 2010. Full scale component testing will commence in 2012…with a full-scale prototype planned for deployment at the European Marine Energy Centre in 2014]…"

    "The Costa Head site is located in water depths of 60 – 75m approximately 5km to the north of Orkney Mainland. SSE Renewables and Alstom propose to carry out detailed site surveys and an environmental impact assessment (EIA),to develop the site with an initial phase of around 10MW [4 AWS-III devices of 12 cells, each measuring around 16m wide by 8m deep, arranged around a structure with overall beam of up to 60m and a structural steel weight of less than 1300 tonne], before moving on to install the full site capacity. [The AWS-III will be slack moored in water depths of 65 to 150m using standard mooring spreads. Devices will be arranged in arrays or ‘farms’ of up to several hundred MW total rating. Each AWS-III will be connected to a central offshore substation via a high-voltage umbilical link]

    "Wave energy is a widely distributed renewable resource worldwide, with an estimated potential market of 200 to 300 Gigawatts(GW). Its proximity to densely populated regions of Europe and North America makes it an attractive new source of renewable energy. The AWS-III technology consists of a multi-cell array of flexible membrane absorbers which convert wave power to pneumatic power through compression of air within cells that are inter-connected. Turbine-generator sets are provided to convert the pneumatic power to electricity…"

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012


    Mainstream raises €40 million funding
    James Quilter, 16 January 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    "Developer Mainstream Renewable Power has secured EUR 40 million funding to help it expand internationally...

    "...[T]he money came from ‘Irish high-net-worth individuals and institutions’ and described it as one of Ireland's largest fundraisings of the last year...[It] will be used to develop projects in South Africa, Chile, Germany and the UK."

    click to enlarge

    [Eddie O’Connor, CEO, Mainstream Renewables:] "[In 2011] we won 238MW of wind and solar contracts in South Africa; we procured wind turbines for our first wind farms in Chile and Ireland which we plan to build this year and we successfully sold the first two projects in our massive offshore UK wind zone in what was the largest deal of its kind last year."

    "Mainstream pipeline projects…[are the] 34.5MW Negrete Cuel development in central Chile…Preferred bidder status for the Jeffreys Bay 138MW wind farm located in the Eastern Cape, South Africa…A consortium member of the 8GW Hornsea North Sea offshore project."


    PV Recycling Market Predicted To Grow Dramatically Over Next Decades
    16 January 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "The global solar PV market has witnessed tremendous growth over the past decade, with cumulative installed capacity growing from 1,459 MW in 2000 to 40,758 MW in 2010…a compound annual growth rate of 40%... mainly came from increased installation activity in countries such as Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, France, the U.S. and Japan.

    "…[T]here is a growing need for processing PV waste in the coming years…The waste generated by end-of-life modules in 2025 is expected to be approximately 24,855 tons. This waste is expected to further increase to 1,161,173 tons by 2035."

    click to enlarge

    "Crystalline modules will account for the majority of solar PV waste generated during this period, rising from 19,475 tons of waste generated in 2025, to 1,098,282 tons by 2035. Against this backdrop, PV recycling will become an emerging market during these 15 years…For every watt of PV module treated in the recycling unit, $0.58 in recycled value is expected to be generated in 2025. With a 100% collection rate, 278 MW of end-of-life modules are expected to be recycled in 2025.

    "…[I]t is expected that the end-of-life modules will increase to 17,000 MW by 2035, while the per-watt recycled product value of these modules is expected to reach $1.21. The major factors driving this trend are the rising annual installation trends… the expected increase in recycling rates of module materials…[and] market price variations…"


    …Venture Capital Funding in Smart Grid Drops by Half in 2011; $4.6 Billion in Smart Grid M&A Activity in 30 Transactions
    (Mercom Capital Group)

    "…[A]nnual and fourth quarter merger and acquisition (M&A) and funding activity for the smart grid sector for 2011…[showed VC] funding in smart grid was ‘anemic at best in 2011.’ …[T]he number of VC investors increased to 92 from 87 in 2010, pointing to continued investor interest but lower risk appetite…

    "VC funding in 2011 brought in $377 million in 50 deals (24 disclosed) compared to $769 million in 51 deals in 2010 (27 disclosed). The average VC funding round dropped by 50 percent in 2011 to $7.5 million compared to almost $15 million in 2010. Early rounds of funding (Seed, Series A & B) accounted for 22 of the 50 deals."

    click to enlarge

    "Top VC deals in 2011 were iControl Networks, a broadband home management company ($51.6 million), SmartSynch, a Smart Grid company that uses cellular networks for utility smart grid projects ($25.7 million), Silver Spring Networks, a provider of utility networking equipment for smart grid deployment ($24 million), Gridpoint, an energy management solutions provider ($23.6 million), and JouleX, a provider of energy management systems for data centers and distributed office environments, ($17 million).

    "Top venture capital investors in 2011 were GE with six deals, Emerald Technology Ventures with five deals and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers with five deals. The same investors were also the top three in 2010, however, with double the amount of deals each last year. Other top investors were Foundation Capital, Intel Capital and Rockport Capital with four deals each…"

    Monday, January 16, 2012


    Solar surge drives record clean energy investment in 2011; Total new investment in clean energy increased 5% to $260bn in 2011, despite the sluggish global economy and a painful squeeze on manufacturers
    12 January 2012 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

    "Global investment in clean energy reached a new record of $260bn in 2011, up 5% on 2010 and almost five times the total of $53.6bn in 2004…according to the latest authoritative data from analysis company Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Last year also saw the one trillionth dollar invested in clean energy globally since the company started compiling data in 2004.

    "The record investment figures for 2011 are particularly striking because they were achieved during a turbulent year for the world economy in general and for the clean energy sector in particular. The industry has suffered severe pressure on the profit margins of manufacturers, a sharp fall in share prices, some notable bankruptcies, cuts in European government subsidy support, and a reduction in the availability of bank finance…"

    click to enlarge

    "The largest single type of investment was the asset finance of utility-scale renewable energy projects. This increased from a revised $138.3bn in 2010, to $145.6bn in 2011…The second-biggest category of investment last year was the finance of distributed renewable power technology, notably rooftop PV. This reached $73.8bn in 2011, up from $60.4bn in 2010…Several other categories of investment actually fell slightly during 2011. Corporate research and development in clean energy…and government research and development…Public markets fund-raising fell…

    "Venture capital and private equity investment saw a modest increase of 4% in 2011 to $8.9bn…2011 was characterized by significant volatility in levels of activity, with big variations in the amount of investment in each quarter. The most buoyant period by far was the third quarter, when asset finance alone reached $47.8bn, helped by a rush of projects taking advantage of the US federal loan guarantee programme that expired at the end of September. In the following quarter, asset finance worldwide fell 28%...[largely on] the impact of the euro area sovereign debt crisis on bank lending to renewable energy projects…"


    Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2012
    Tom Konrad, January 2, 2012 (AltEnergyStocks)

    "There is a silver lining to the horrible year clean energy stocks had in 2011: the opportunity to buy clean energy stocks (often considered a growth sector) at prices one would expect from value stocks…With that in mind, I now focus my annual list on the most economic clean energy sectors…[and] stocks I currently consider relatively good values…[N]ow is the best time to buy clean energy stocks since the start of 2009…

    "My energy efficiency picks are…1.Waterfurance Renewable Energy (WFIFF.PK $15.3455, WFI.TO)…2. Lime Energy (LIME, $3.18)…3. Honeywell (HON, $54.35)…4. Rockwool International (RKWBF.PK $82.29, ROCK-B.CO 473 DKK10)…"

    "…[E]nvironmental services companies [are] a way to invest in biomass…5. Waste Management (WM, $32.71)…6. Veolia Environnement SA (VE, $11.05)……[In] Alternative Transport…biking, light rail, and buses top my list…7. Accell Group (ACCEL.AS, €14.15/$18.33)…8. New Flyer Industries (NFYEF.PK $5.6492, NFI.TO) …

    "…[In] Renewable Energy Developers…small renewable energy power producers are looking cheap…8. Finavera Wind Energy (FNVRF.PK, $0.409) is a wind project developer…9. Western Wind Energy Corp (WNDEF.PK, $1.96) …10. Alterra Power Corp. (MGMXF.PK $0.40, AXY.TO)…"


    Today is really the time of electric vehicles; Everybody is talking about electric car. LEAF has already sold over 20,000 electric vehicles with lithium ion batteries so, I think today is really the time of electric cars, and they will continue to grow.
    January 16, 2012 (Revolucion Eolica con Vehiculos Elecvtricos)

    [Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan, talking about the LEAF:] "…Nissan has always been a company of innovation… The Nissan LEAF has really rocked our industry. If I go back three or four years, everybody laughed when we talked about bringing a commercial electric car. Now, you look around the show and everybody is talking about electric cars…I think today is really the time of electric cars, and they will continue to grow."

    [Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan, talking about the LEAF:] "Now, we should not view an electric car as “the” electric car. It’s an alternative powertrain. So in the same way as we talk about diesels, or gasoline cars, or hybrid cars, or plug-in hybrid cars, we have to talk about electric cars. So it follows that there normally should be more than one car that is electric in our range."

    click to enlarge

    [Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan, talking about the LEAF:] "…[T]he second car…is actually a van. It makes perfect sense if you think about it from a very low total-cost of ownership. That car, is maybe a little more expensive than a conventional van, to buy; the payback, considering government incentives, is less than three years for a normal operator. So, for business, which is very much focused on total cost of ownership, that is definitely a good alternative to consider. Then of course, the third car will be an Infiniti. And, the fourth car is a surprise."

    [Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan, talking about the LEAF:] "…the Pathfinder…[will be] a trend-change in the market from let’s say crossover, more towards SUV-like, and clearly we are somewhere following that trend. But at the same time, we have been able to understand that trend and offer something that is competitive in every way, shape and form…[W]e have been able to reduce the weight of the vehicle and improve the fuel economy by about 25%. The car is bigger. Obviously from a ride-and-handling point of view…it [is] a much more engaging car…I think you are getting an awful lot of good value for money with that vehicle, when we get to announcing the price…I think we have the most competitive car in that particular set."

    Thursday, January 12, 2012


    Wind energy dispute may test U.S.-China IP resolve
    Nicola Groom (w/Li Ran, Wang Feng, Gerald E. McCormick), January 9, 2012 (Reuters)

    "…American Superconductor Corp, which makes wind turbine components and transmission grid systems, is seeking to recover $1.2 billion from Chinese wind turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group Co Ltd in four separate legal actions in China. The U.S. company has accused its former biggest customer of stealing the software AMSC makes to power wind turbines and illegally canceling contracts. [Both companies are suffering]…

    "…Once it gets under way…[the case could prove to be a significant test of China's intellectual property laws, and determine the success of Western companies in pursuing claims in China.]…[T]he case could cause reverberations in the race to dominate the fast-growing market for clean energy technology…"

    AMSC subsidiaries and undertakings (click to enlarge)

    "Much of the underlying technology for solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies was developed in the West, though China is now a major player in the industry. For instance, the country is now the world's largest maker of solar panels, though solar energy technology was developed in the United States.

    "Theft of intellectual property is among the thorniest issues in the U.S.-China relationship, alongside U.S. accusations that China is dragging its feet in allowing its currency to appreciate, and that the nation's subsidies unfairly favor domestic industries…But Western companies rarely sue Chinese companies over trade secret theft in China --in part because of perceptions they will not be viewed fairly, but also out of fear of retaliation in the marketplace…"


    Skyline Solar breaks ground on solar power plants at two military bases
    Dana Hull, January 10. 2012 (San Jose Mercury News)

    "Skyline Solar…has broken ground on two 100-kilowatt solar power plants at domestic military bases -- Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California and Fort Bliss in Texas. Skyline's contract from the Department of Defense is worth a modest $1.85 million, but the company hopes it will…[prove the] product. Many Silicon Valley cleantech startups regard the military as an ideal early adopter, willing to take risks on new technologies that need to be tested…

    "The Department of Defense has about 300,000 buildings on its installations and spends nearly $4 billion a year on the energy needed to operate them. It is searching for clean technologies that can be standardized and installed at military bases throughout the world…Skyline is one of several solar startups using CPV technology, or concentrated photovoltaics, to concentrate the sun's energy onto photovoltaic cells. It differs from standard rooftop solar panels in that is uses an optical system to focus sunlight onto each cell. Skyline's X14 System is named for its ability to concentrate sunlight 14 times using glass reflectors."

    click to enlarge

    "Skyline's systems work best where the sun shines brightly and humidity is low -- in the American Southwest, northern Mexico, the Middle East and Australia. The two small military installations, each of which will generate enough electricity to power about 20 homes, will provide data about how Skyline's technology performs in different climates…

    "Both projects are expected to be completed by April. Skyline will not be required to submit its plans to a lengthy environmental review process because much of the land on military bases has already been disturbed by vehicle traffic or munitions explosions…"


    Eco Wave Power Company is Taking the Fast Track to Success
    January 3, 2012 (PR Newswire via Sacramento Bee)

    "Eco Wave Power has completed the construction and testing phase of its first sea wave energy generation models the "Wave Clapper", and the "Power Wing".

    "The testing took place in the wave pool of the Hydro-Mechanical National Institute of Kiev… [which] provided Eco Wave Power with the perfect conditions for testing the unique wave energy generation technologies under controlled wave heights and wave periods."

    "Among the different tests, Eco Wave Power has examined the characteristics of 8 different unique floaters shapes (all with the same volume)…All the experiments were monitored by officials from the Hydro-Mechanical Institute…[T]he tests results were determined to be successful…

    "…[T]he company has already secured funding for three ocean energy generation models, the last of which will be a full-size commercial scale power plant, with the ability to supply electricity to at least 1000 households…The Eco Wave Power wave energy converter is a simple and inexpensive technology to harvest wave energy from high and low waves…"

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012


    China airlines won't pay EU carbon tax
    Alison Leung and Harry Suhartono (w/Narayanan Somasundaram, Edmund Klamann, Matt Driskill and Ian Geoghegan), January 6, 2012 (Reuters)

    "China's airlines will refuse to pay any charges under the European Union's new carbon trading scheme, while other Asia Pacific carriers, already battling a weak travel market, are likely to pass on the extra cost to passengers…The EU's Emissions Trading Scheme ETS.L was launched in 2005 as one of the major pillars of the bloc's efforts to combat climate change. From January 1, all airlines using EU airports are included in the cap-and-trade scheme."

    [Cai Haibo, deputy secretary-general, China Air Transport Association CATA.L:] "China will not cooperate with the European Union on the ETS, so Chinese airlines will not impose surcharges on customers relating to the emissions tax…"

    From a University of Minnesota/Duluth greenhouse gas inventory (click to enlarge)

    "CATA represents the country's four major airlines: flag-carrier Air China Ltd (0753.HK) (601111.SS), China Southern Airlines (600029.SS) (1055.HK), China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS) (0670.HK) and Hainan Airlines (600221.SS)…Chinese airlines would consider taking legal action against the EU over the move to charge for carbon emissions on flights to and from Europe…[and will] take their time on this, mindful that U.S. airlines recently lost a legal challenge against the ETS, and given that collection of the tax from airlines will not be until March 2013…

    "CATA estimates the scheme will cost Chinese airlines 800 million yuan in the first year and more than triple that by 2020…Germany's Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), the world's second-largest long-haul carrier after Dubai's Emirates, warned passengers…to brace for higher ticket prices…The EU says its ETS, which already applies to other industries, is the fairest way to cope with aviation's contribution to global warming…[T}he International Air Transport Association (IATA), has said the ETS would cost airlines 900 million euros in 2012 and the industry will not generally be able to pass this on to consumers because the market is too weak…The IATA forecast a 49 percent fall in 2012 industry-wide profit to $3.5 billion…"


    Buffett's MidAmerican Utility Buys Three Iowa Wind Energy Projects. MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. acquired three wind farm projects in Iowa that will have a combined wind power capacity of 404.8 megawatts at completion and 176 wind turbines.
    January 9, 2012 (Regulacion Eolica con Vehiculos Electricos)

    "MidAmerican Energy…[will] develop new wind farm projects in Iowa. As part of its latest wind energy plans, the company has also entered into agreements to acquire three wind power projects in Iowa that will have a combined capacity of 404.8MW with 176 wind turbines…

    "Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy is announcing it will build three new wind farm plants in five Iowa counties. Ann Thelen, spokeswoman for MidAmerican, says the moves will enhance the company’s wind energy portfolio, adding more than 400 megawatts of wind power…[Through] an agreement with Clipper Windpower…[MidAmerican will] acquire about 200 megawatts of wind farm projects in Audubon and Guthrie counties and also a 101.2 megawatt wind farm in Adair County…"

    The nation's 7th best wind resource (click to enlarge)

    "Another agreement is with RPM Access for a 103 megawatt wind farm in Marshall and Tama counties. Combined, 176 new wind turbines will reach into the sky with the wind farm projects. There will also be expansion at the existing Rolling Hills wind farm, which covers parts of Adair, Adams and Cass counties.

    "…[When the wind farm projects are complete, approximately 29% of [MidAmerican’s] total generation capacity will be powered by wind energy…{MidAmerian has] invested approximately four-billion dollars in the state of Iowa for our wind power generation…[It] will again be working with Seimens Energy to manufacture the wind turbines at its [Iowa] facility in Fort Madison…"


    New proposal seeks to encourage solar panels on LA rooftops, parking lots
    Molly Peterson, January 9, 2012 (KPCC/NPR)

    "Ambitious goals Los Angeles city officials have set for solar energy remain out of reach. Changes in leadership at the L.A. Department of Water and Power have slowed renewable energy policies. So has the domestic economy. Now the DWP is floating a new proposal designed to encourage solar farms on large rooftops and parking lots…Germany started its own program to encourage solar farms on large buildings 21 years ago; in English, the German policy of buying power from large rooftops translates as ‘feed-in tariff’… California law now requires that utilities do something like that…

    "DWP plans to buy solar energy generated on big buildings under long-term fixed-rate contracts. These projects would be at least five times bigger than most residential solar systems, and they’re different from home systems, where the electric meter spins forward and back…[F]eed-in tariff contracts offer more predictability as DWP tallies its energy resources. Local businesses recognize the value too…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[M]illions of dollars in tax revenue could juice L.A.'s coffers if large local solar projects take off…[but] this kind of system creates a new market for power. That’s tricky…

    "…How much to pay for solar energy is only one the matter DWP’s cautious about…It’ll take different engineering to deliver electricity in the other direction on transmission lines…A study…found that a full 600 megawatt feed-in tariff program would create up to 18,000 jobs…"

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012


    Solar energy industry may be on threshold of an exciting era; This year we must use our subsidy more wisely, and if industry, NGOs and government pull together, solar will shine in 2012
    Greg Barker, 9 January 2011 (UK Guardian)

    "This has been the most challenging few weeks to date in the life of the nascent UK solar sector. After a short burst of unprecedented sales growth, with installations more than doubling between June and October, we had to intervene very quickly indeed to ensure the entire subsidy for this and other exciting micro-generation technologies supported by feed-in tariffs, wasn't swept away by excessive returns for a lucky few…

    "…[I]t is easy to see why solar is so popular. It is reliable, intuitive, easy to install and is a great solution for people worried about rising electricity bills or wanting to do their bit to fight climate change. But with the price of solar falling quickly in a very short period of time, the subsidised tariff payments were suddenly offering new customers financial returns completely out of step with other green technologies or government-backed schemes. Double-digit yields, index linked and guaranteed to be paid at that rate for 25 years."

    click to enlarge

    "In the current financial climate when interest rates are at record lows, it really was too good to be true. Unfortunately the scheme the coalition inherited just wasn't designed to adapt to these dramatic price falls.

    "This government believes in solar. We see its huge industrial and employment potential. We get the strong case for smart, well-targeted subsidy, to help early deployment and build a thriving UK sector. However that is not the same as a blank cheque. And we are equally determined to stand up for consumers alarmed by rising energy prices and have shown ourselves willing to take action to curb rising energy bills…[T]he challenge for the new year is to make sure we use the remaining subsidy far more wisely…"


    E.on plans 700MW Baltic wind farm
    Paul Garrett, 3 January 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    "German utility E.on has announced plans to build a 700MW offshore wind farm in the south-eastern part of the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Poland. The project would be one of the largest of its kind."

    click to enlarge

    "The site earmarked for the wind farm is the Southern Middle Bank, about 100 kilometres from the coast of Sweden and bordering the Polish economic zone…The project…has been costed at SKR 20 billion (€2.24 billion)…The Southern Middle Bank is used for sand and gravel extraction, fishery and as a shipping route."


    Renewable energy projects stalled amid squabbling
    January 9, 2012 (AP via San Jose Mercury News)

    "A long-running disagreement between federal agencies and Southern California Edison has stalled millions of dollars in renewable energy projects expected to provide power to facilities in California's national parks and forests.

    "…[A]n $800,000 solar project at Death Valley National Park, photovoltaic panels at the visitors center at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and a solar power system at the U.S. Forest Service's facility at Mono Lake are among many taxpayer-funded projects that are stalled while federal agencies try to come to an agreement with Edison to tie the projects to the state's electrical grid."

    California could get over half its electricity from rooftop PV - but not if they keep bickering. (click to enlarge)

    "The impasse involves contract restrictions imposed by federal law. Generally federal agencies are not supposed to sign contracts that would leave them liable for unknown future damages because they would be committing money that Congress hasn't allocated. Other utilities in California, however, have signed similar agreements with the agencies with few problems…

    "An Edison spokesman declined to discuss the projects because of the ongoing negotiations. The squabble has captured the attention of Gov. Jerry Brown, whose office is sending the governor's advisor on renewable energy, Michael Picker, to meet with all the parties in coming weeks to help hammer out differences…The situation has made it difficult for the parks to meet renewable energy goals…"

    Sunday, January 8, 2012


    Cape Wind edges ahead after PPA victory
    Paul Garrett, 3 January 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    "National Grid US is free to buy power from the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm, after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court…upheld a disputed power purchase agreement (PPA).

    "The deal was challenged by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound on the grounds that it would result in much higher electricity prices than other renewable-energy options…[The Court found that the] benefits of PPA-1 outweighed its costs…[siding] with an earlier decision by the Department of Public Utilities that the 15-year PPA should stand."

    A Massachusetts voter (click to enlarge)

    "The Alliance’s president and CEO Audra Parker…maintained that the Cape Wind project would never be built.

    "Cape Wind president Jim Gordon said the ruling was a ‘big boost’ for the 130-turbine project, which has had a decade-long gestation period and is to be located 4-11 miles offshore from Cape Cod in the Atlantic Ocean. However, with a buyer still to be found for the remaining 50% of its output, its future remains uncertain."


    India to Build 400 Megawatts of Solar, Two-Thirds Less Than Plan
    Natalie Obiko Pearson, December 30, 2011 (Bloomberg News)

    "India will complete 400 megawatts of solar power connected to the grid this fiscal year, two-thirds less than previously forecast by state and central governments…[It] has so far built 180 megawatts during the year ending March 31…

    "Gujarat had planned to build more than 900 megawatts during the fiscal year as part of a regional solar program…In addition, the central government’s Solar Mission had a forecast of 302 megawatts…"

    (from WikiCommons - click to enlarge)

    "The mission involved 150 megawatts of operations awarded by auction, 98 megawatts of rooftop developments and 54 megawatts of capacity under a program to consolidate state-level projects.

    "India’s renewable energy capacity has grown 20 percent in 2011 to 22,447 megawatts…Wind farms made up most of the increase, adding a total of 2,827 megawatts."


    Energy Efficiency in 2012: Forecast Is Mostly Sunny
    Steven Nadel, January 6, 2012 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    "Looking forward into 2012, I see more reasons for optimism than pessimism. Many states and utilities are committed to ramping up their energy efficiency programs…The private market continues to invest in energy efficiency, although efforts have been slowed by the economic downturn. New energy-efficient products continue to enter the market and energy efficiency is one of the hot areas for “Cleantech” investments…

    "At the federal level, new vehicle and equipment efficiency standards will be issued in 2012. Fuel…economy standards for passenger vehicles will be finalized…raising these standards to an average of nearly 50 mpg by 2025. Final decisions are due from DOE on standards for 13 products…And recent EPA regulation updates on emissions of toxic pollutants, along with other pending regulatory updates for power plants, will encourage utilities to look at efficiency investments as an alternative to upgrading aging power plants."

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    "A major driver in 2012 will be the state of the economy. Our economy is finally growing again, although too slowly…[E]nergy efficiency can contribute to job growth…The Brookings Institute estimates that there are about 2.7 million clean economy jobs in the U.S., including about half a million added over the 2003-2010 period…While there are many reasons for optimism in 2012, all is not rosy…[ARRA] funding will end in early 2012…Policymaking in Washington is paralyzed…[and] the energy savings realized are still modest relative to the cost-effective opportunities.

    "…[ACEEE] will be working to advance three themes in 2012…assisting and encouraging states, utilities, and others who are interested in increasing their energy efficiency efforts…documenting what works (and what doesn’t) so that programs and policies can be as effective as possible…[and] laying groundwork for the future…"

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012


    Fundamentals For Solar Energy Look Great, But Companies With The Right Strategy Are Lacking
    Simit Patel, December 25, 2011 (Seeking Alpha)

    "…Here is a short summary…of the current situation in the solar energy market:

    "...Solar ETFs have been some of the worst performing ETFs in 2011 -- which of course piques my buying interest quite a bit…[T]hese stocks could continue to go further down…[but] the underlying fundamentals have changed; concerns over peak oil and the need to transition away from fossil fuels are only growing, and players like China and Google are still viable candidates for being the "smart money" that can bring the demand to push prices higher -- demand upon which small-time players like individual investors can piggyback on…"

    "...But while solar as a sector is set to grow for years and will help the world transition away from fossil fuels, not all parts of the solar value network are the same…[T]he value network is still evolving rapidly as new technologies -- particularly those related to storage -- continue to come on to the scene…[O]ne trend that…will drive much of how the value network changes and profit opportunities are created, is the rapidly declining price of solar panels. As solar panels continue to fall in price, I suspect profit opportunities will transition to firms that specialize in installation and the development of custom solar solutions…companies that are more service-oriented and customer-relations centric rather than pure product makers."

    "And here is… why I have yet to make an investment in the solar sector. There simply isn't a company I've found that has the strategy…a stable balance sheet and competent leadership. The solar ETFs, KWT and TAN, could be viable ways of playing the entire sector, though I don't think they have the right kind of companies…in their portfolio. And so, I'm still on the sidelines when it comes to solar…"