NewEnergyNews More: April 2012

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  • Monday, April 30, 2012


    Smart Government Technologies; Intelligent Systems for the Management of Smart Sustainable Cities and Communities: Technology Trends, Market Analysis, and Global Forecasts

    Q2 2012 (Pike Research)

    "…[T]he growing interest in smart cities and communities is putting the spotlight on the smarter government operations that must guide their development. Smart government can be defined as the use of innovative policies, business models, and technology to address the financial, environmental, and service challenges facing public sector organizations. Smart government encompasses strategy and policy definition, specific applications and technologies to help improve service delivery and the establishment of new platforms for communication, data sharing, and application development. "Smart government builds on the IT infrastructure investments made by the public sector over the last decade. Back-office systems have helped improve process efficiency and the integration of services. Front-office systems have been adapted to support multi-channel communication with citizens and a growing range of transactional services. Smart government continues this transformation and also embraces innovations happening in areas such as energy, transport, and waste management…"

    "This Pike Research report analyzes the global market opportunity for smart government technologies. It assesses the business drivers, market forces, and technology trends that are transforming the use of ICT and related technologies in smart cities and communities.

    "The study forecasts the size and growth of the market for smart government technologies through 2017, and it also forecasts the growth in smart government data analytics and cloud-based services between 2011 and 2017…"


    Los Angeles' Rooftops Could Provide 5 GW Of Solar Capacity

    27 April 2012 (Solar Inudstry)

    "The city of Los Angeles has more than 12,000 acres of prime space for solar development on the rooftops of local homes, businesses and multifamily buildings, with the potential capacity to create as much as 5 GW of locally generated power, according to a study by the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC)…[A] solar-ready rooftop space…equivalent to nearly 20 square miles.

    "The recent approval by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to move forward with the city's first feed-in-tariff (FIT) program - CLEAN LA Solar - provides the opportunity to create the first 150 MW of rooftop solar in the next three to four years, with a goal of reaching 600 MW by 2020."

    "An LABC-sponsored study by UCLA found that a 600 MW FIT could result in 18,000 green jobs, spur $2 billion in investment, and produce long-term cost savings for businesses, ratepayers and the LADWP…

    "…[LA] must meet a state mandate requiring local utilities to generate 33% of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The solar FIT…[is expected] to help the utility meet that goal…in the limited time frame…"


    Annual Worldwide Revenues from Frequency Regulation Services Will Surpass $27 Billion by 2022

    April 26, 2012 (Pike Research)

    "Frequency regulation services, which balance the fluctuations between electricity generation and electrical load and manage the variability in the grid’s frequency output, have traditionally been tied to the wholesale energy market. Today, a second key driver has emerged: intermittent renewable energy. Solar PV, wind, and other intermittent resources are causing frequency instabilities on the electrical grid that require more extensive regulation capability across a wider swath of the grid…

    "…In addition, in the face of energy security concerns, major economies are mandating changes in energy mixes globally, altering the mix of technologies available to deliver frequency regulation. New opportunities in the frequency regulation sector are emerging in countries that are liberalizing or deregulating electricity markets, and… in fully deregulated markets that are changing market rules to differentiate the quality of frequency regulation delivered by various technologies…"

    "…According to a new report from Pike Research, the amount of frequency regulation required globally is expected to increase over the next decade, thanks to increased volatility in both generation and load. The total value of the frequency regulation market will grow from $19.5 billion in 2012 to $27.2 billion in 2022…a compound annual growth rate of 3.5%. "Under a more aggressive scenario, revenue from frequency regulation services could reach $56.8 billion in 2022…Whereas the cost of technology typically decreases over time, that is not the case for a service like frequency regulation…[W]ith greater economic activity (and thus demand for energy), more and more diversity in generation assets globally, and increased market liberalization…the value of frequency regulation [is likely to] increase over time…[P]er megawatt hour…Pike Research expects…frequency regulation [to] be worth more in 2022 than in 2012…"


    Vets group: Wind energy critical to America's security

    April 27, 2012 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    "…Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) joined [retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General John Castellaw; Mike Breen, vice president of the Truman National Security Project; and Jeff Duff of Airstreams Renewables, a company that makes a point of hiring veterans] to talk about the importance and urgency of extending the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy… The group discussed how critical renewing the PTC is to America’s economic and national security.

    "The PTC, they said, is an important federal policy incentive without which 37,000 jobs and $10-20 billion of domestic investment would be lost next year and thereafter…"

    "…Thompson, a Vietnam Army veteran and member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which [just] met on the PTC and other possible tax extensions…[said that extending the] tax incentives will give businesses certainty, help create and save more than 50,000 American jobs in the next four years, and allow [the U.S.] to strengthen our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil…

    "Wind power is a critical part of America’s energy independence. The growth of wind energy, which produces enough electricity to power 12 million homes, has been fueled by the PTC, wind power’s primary, performance-based policy incentive…Breen, who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq...[said the U.S. would] need sources of energy [it] can rely on in the 21st Century…"

    Thursday, April 26, 2012


    Surviving The Shakeout: With PV Stocks Plunging, Where Are We Headed?

    Jessica Lillian, 24 April 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “…[T]hin-film PV manufacturer First Solar…[anounced it] would cut 2,000 jobs and shut down its manufacturing operations in Germany …[and] the company's stock hit an all-time low as analysts questioned its core business model in an era of low polysilicon prices…[M]ost analysis indicates that First Solar's woes are representative of a broader corporate-finance trend in the solar sector. While many companies will survive and emerge as more competitive players, the worst may be yet to come for others.

    “During the first quarter of 2012 (Q1'12)…[the] Lincoln International [solar index] declined by 4%, underperforming the S&P 500 index…Two of the four solar segments studied - cells and modules, and vertically integrated firms - posted quarter-over-quarter declines. Stock performance for manufacturers of cells and modules slid the most, decreasing 6.5% quarter-over-quarter, while the index for vertically integrated manufacturers declined 0.8%...Only the wafers/ingots segment and the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor and developer segment measured increases…[But] relatively few EPC providers and project developers factor into solar stock trends…”

    “…Lincoln International's index ranks ReneSola, China Sunergy, Solar Power Inc. and Akeena Solar Inc. as the best performers in their respective industry segments. LDK Solar, Solon, SolarWorld and Premier Power fared the worst in Q1'12…Lincoln International's solar index declined less in Q1'12 than in the three previous quarters. The worst drop came in Q3'11, when the index plunged more than 50%...[and Lincoln International predicted that companies] closer to the actual solar projects and to the end purchasers of solar projects should weather the current difficulties better than the manufacturers…

    “…[C]ould First Solar be one of those survivors? The company's project-development plays have expanded in recent years as it has sought to diversify its market activities…At the same time, however, First Solar - like many other PV manufacturers that have bulked up their project-development pipelines in recent years - focuses on utility-scale projects…[and] this segment comes with its own set of vulnerabilities, and less exposure may enable a solar firm to be better positioned…”


    Goldwind developing 10MW wind turbine

    James Quilter, 25 April 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    “Goldwind is working on a 10MW turbine according to its annual report for 2011…Technically, this makes Goldwind the second manufacturer to be working on a 10MW turbine. Last year Sinovel also said it was developing one although it is believed this was largely based on AMSC's SeaTitan design.

    “Goldwind's plan follows guidelines set out in China’s five-year economic plan for 2011 to 2015 published last year. The government has already set out its intention of prioritising the development of 3MW to 5MW onshore and 5MW to 10MW offshore wind turbines.”

    “Additionally, Goldwind looks to be moving away from direct drive. The company is believed to be testing a medium-speed model fitted with a locally made gearbox, a system described as ‘half direct drive’…[because] it would be more profitable for Goldwind to sell the expensive rare earths directly at the market…

    “Earlier this year, Goldwind said it was also set to unveil a 6MW prototype by the end of 1H. It has been working on the design, with German subsidiary Vensys, since 2010.”


    Energy Efficient Technologies and Practices Could Limit Total Data Center Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 13% Through 2016

    April 25, 2012 (Pike Research)

    “…[T]he demand for data center capacity continues to rise. The rapid adoption of IT use in the emerging economies is also providing a powerful engine for the growth of data center capacity…[All this] is further increasing these facilities’ energy footprint. Today’s data center industry consumes around 1.5%% of the world’s energy. Data center operators are struggling to keep energy demand in check while continuing to grow their capacity…

    “…The need to reduce energy consumption is being driven by a diverse set of factors that includes the rising price of electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, information technology improvements, cloud computing, virtualization, large advances in cooling techniques, and significant improvements in monitoring and management tool suites.”

    “According to a new report from Pike Research, the widespread adoption of energy efficient data center technologies and best practices could significantly limit the growth of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from data centers…If current trends continue, GHG emissions from data centers are expected to total 1326 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent; green data center best practices could reduce that total to 1156 tons, a difference of 13% …

    “Pike Research forecasts that the green data center will offer an annual market opportunity that exceeds $45 billion worldwide by 2016. The Asia Pacific region is projected to have the highest revenue growth through 2016, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just under 30% between 2011 and 2016. Double-digit revenue growth is also projected for Europe and North America (CAGRs of almost 27% for both markets)…”

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012


    Clean-energy subsidies are vanishing. What should replace them?

    Brad Plumner, April 18, 2012 (Washington Post)

    "Clean tech has…benefited from billions of dollars in subsidies from Congress, through various energy and stimulus bills. As a result, many industries…have taken lengthy strides…But…[Beyond Boom & Bust from the Brookings Institution, the Breakthrough Institute, and the World Resources Institute shows that]…clean-energy subsidies are disappearing fast, as the stimulus winds down and various laws and tax credits expire. Back in 2009, clean tech got $44.3 billion in federal support. By 2014, that will have shrunk to just $11.1 billion…

    "The new report…is the first to examine in detail which policies are actually expiring and when. All told, Congress has created more than 92 different programs dealing with clean tech — everything from production tax credits for wind power to advanced manufacturing credits to loan guarantees for nuclear power…And, by 2014, 70 percent of these programs will have vanished."

    "The authors argue that letting all of these programs expire could cause the clean tech sector to ‘go bust,’ as budding energy technologies like solar, wind, and even next-generation nuclear plants are currently facing pressure from ultra-cheap natural gas and from subsidized competitors in China…[T]hat doesn’t mean all 92 of these programs should simply be extended as is. For one, that likely won’t fly politically…it’s not good policy on the merits to keep forking money over to solar and wind and geothermal producers without a real sense of larger aims…

    "[T]he report suggests that Congress should rejigger its clean-energy subsidies in several ways. First, it should focus heavily on research and development. And second, the subsidies that are geared toward deploying new technologies — the credits and policies that help wind turbines sprout up and nuclear reactors get built — should be structured so that they reward improvements in performance…[Feed-in tariffs] for wind and solar power that get smaller over time…[force] the technology to keep improving in order to stay profitable…The ultimate goal of these policies…is to push clean tech so that it can eventually stand on its own and compete with older, more established fossil fuels…"


    Two utilities take different paths to the top in wind; MidAmerican Energy is building vast wind farms. Xcel Energy has mostly purchased its wind power.

    David Shaffer, March 31, 2012 (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

    "Xcel Energy Inc… has the most wind power on its system of any U.S. electric utility…MidAmerican Energy Co…[is] the top utility in wind generation ownership…two distinct business approaches to harnessing wind power…MidAmerican owns almost all of its wind generation. Xcel…purchases much of its renewable power under long-term contracts from wind farm developers.

    "There are pros and cons to each approach, as utilities weigh whether to tie up capital in wind technology or let others take the risks…Together, Xcel and MidAmerican Energy have a 17 percent share of the nation's wind power capacity…Most utilities have gone Xcel's way…[because] the companies didn't have any experience with wind power, especially in the 1990s, and turned to companies specializing in the technology…"

    "…[But] 2011 saw a major shift. For the first time, 23 percent of new wind capacity was utility-owned last year, up from a more typical 15 percent to 18 percent…It's too early to know if that was just a blip. But…some utilities want to own wind farms so they can get a return on their investment, rather than simply passing the cost of purchased power through to customers…MidAmerican Energy Holdings…[will] own 75 percent of their wind generation -- compared with 7 percent for Xcel…

    "…[The ownership, risk-management] strategy is to take advantage of the federal production tax credit…and carefully manage wind power with the rest of the company's generation…The risk of future greenhouse gas regulation is another argument for owning, rather than purchasing, wind power…[But] wind power prices have been dropping. When Xcel faces the expiration of its first wind power purchase contracts in 2018, it's possible the utility could get a better deal on its next long-term contracts…[and] wind farms also will eventually need to be upgraded…But for a few years, after projects are paid off, wind farm owners could face only operation and maintenance costs…"


    Spending on PV Equipment to Bottom of Cycle in Q2’12; Strong Growth Forecast from 2013 – 2016; Meyer Burger, GT Advanced Technologies Gaining Due to Strong Backlog

    April 16, 2012 (Solarbuzz)

    "Equipment spending by tier 1 PV manufacturers is poised to resume in 2013 with strong double-digit annual growth rates forecast out to 2016, according to new research…[from NPD Solarbuzz]… This upturn in capacity expansion is being stimulated by the PV manufacturing shakeout, as uncompetitive production lines are either being idled, retired or removed following corporate failures…

    "PV equipment revenues (covering c-Si ingot-to-module and thin-film) for Q1’12 fell to $1.75 billion, a 10-quarter low, down 27% Q/Q and 51% Y/Y. However, the CapEx downturn is forecast to finally bottom-out during Q2’12, following six consecutive quarters of negative growth."

    "The rebound in spending will be characterized first by new order intake driven by a select group of tier 1 manufacturers. Positive Q/Q growth in new orders will emerge in 2H’12, as capacity expansion plans are revised to address market-share aspirations for 2013 and beyond. This will be reflected in PV book-to-bill ratios that will return above parity during 2H’12.

    "The severity of the cyclic spending downturn is having a dramatic impact on PV equipment suppliers in 2012. Most leading equipment suppliers are now projected to see Y/Y PV-specific revenue declines in the 60-80% range…Suppliers that already serve market segments adjacent to PV (semi, display, and LED) have experience in how to manage capital equipment spending cyclicality, so they will be best positioned to cope with the PV downturn during 2012. However, equipment suppliers that had aligned their core business activities to focus mainly on the PV industry will be particularly affected, with further workforce adjustments and negative operating margins likely…"

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012


    Berkeley Scientists Focus On LED-Like Solar Cells

    20 April 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "New research from scientists at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) has demonstrated that for maximum efficiency, solar cells might be designed to be similar to light-emitting devices (LEDs).

    "…[T]he better a solar cell is at emitting photons, the higher its voltage and the greater the efficiency it can produce…[Researchers] came across a solution [ to the large gap between the theoretical limit and the limit they have been able to achieve] based on a mathematical connection between absorption and emission of light."

    "Designing solar cells to emit light - so that photons do not become ‘lost’ within a cell - has the natural effect of increasing the voltage produced by the solar cell…

    "PV manufacturer Alta Devices…has used the concept to create a prototype solar cell made of gallium arsenide (GaAs). The prototype broke efficiency records, according to UC Berkeley. The company achieved this milestone, in part, by designing the cell to allow light to escape as easily as possible from the cell…[E]fficiencies close to 30% may be possible in the coming years…"


    Utilities Are Influencing Solar Markets In New Ways

    18 April 2012 (Renew Grid)

    "Solar power s the fastest-growing electricity source for utilities…In 2011, utilities interconnected over 62,500 photovoltaic (PV) systems…SEPA's fifth annual Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings analyzes the amount of new solar power interconnected by U.S. electric utilities in 2011. It covers more than 240 of the most solar-active utilities, representing more than 99% of the U.S. solar electric power marketplace.

    "Thirteen utilities interconnected more than 1,000 PV systems, and 22 utilities interconnected more than 500 systems. This annual volume of smaller, distributed solar interconnections is unlike anything the utility industry has previously managed, and conservative forecasts indicate that this number will grow to more than 150,000 interconnections in 2015, according to SEPA."

    "However, the magnitude of these numbers poses strategic questions related to how utilities will physically process this volume of interconnection requests, how the distribution grid will accommodate this high-penetration growth, and how the utility and solar industries will resolve the economic implications of reduced sales of electricity.

    "The nation's most solar-active utilities integrated almost 1.5 GW of new solar - equivalent to six natural-gas power plants - breaking the 1 GW threshold for the first time…[and] 15 utilities reported integrating more than 20 MW each, and eight reported integrating more than 50 MW each. While residential homes accounted for more than 89% of the installations, commercial rooftop installations accounted for more than 53% of the capacity…These 2011 numbers represent a 38% growth in the number of installations and a 120% growth in the capacity installed over 2010. SEPA expects continued growth this year, driven by sustained price decreases and a build-out of large solar power plant contracts…"


    Wind farms do not effect most bird populations concludes new study

    April 16, 2012 (The Information Daily)

    "A new study has found that most bird populations do not suffer long term decline from wind turbines. The study, from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and RSPB, is the first of its kind based on bird populations during the construction as well as operation phases of new wind farms…

    "The report was published in the April edition of the Journal of Applied Ecology. Scientists from both bodies had monitored ten bird species at 18 wind farms in upland areas of the UK and compared breeding bird densities and population trends before, during, and after wind farm construction."

    "Their findings suggest that impacts differed among species…[P]opulations of red grouse, snipe and curlew numbers declined during construction with red grouse recovering afterwards, unlike snipe and curlews…[Skylark] numbers soared as the turbines rose, but this could be because turning over the vegetation helped them nest and find food. There was no significant change in the population of lapwings, golden plovers and dunlins.

    "Rob Norris, Renewable UK spokesman said…the report should…dispel the longstanding myth about wind turbines damaging birds…Wildlife organisations such as RSPB and WWF said they were in favour of development of wind farms as long as they were in the right locations. RSPB had recently objected to only 8% of the 2,100 wind farm cases between 2001 and 2010."

    Monday, April 23, 2012


    Hard Economic Times Hit State Renewable Energy Goals

    Angela Beniwal, 27 March 2012 (Renew Grid)

    "Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) have been a big driver of getting more renewable electricity onto the grid. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has estimated that by 2015, generation resulting from RPS will surpass 150 million MWh…[but] a soft economy has led some states to water down their mandates, while the current political situation makes passage of a federal renewable energy standard next to impossible…

    "…Maine introduced legislation in 2011 that would significantly reduce its RPS…[A] bill proposed in Washington state in 2011 could temporarily suspend the state's 15% by 2020 RPS during the slow economy…Other states have tried to expand the definition of ‘eligible resources’ in order to make compliance easier. Iowa includes plasma gasification, Maryland considers waste-to-energy a Tier 1 resource, and Oregon now includes nuclear and hydropower…"

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    "Nonetheless…Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee…[recently revived federal] clean energy legislation…The Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012…include[s] a federal clean energy standard (CES)…In addition to renewable energy, such as wind and solar, the legislation includes other low-emissions and clean energy resources such as renewable biomass, natural gas, hydropower and nuclear power, as well as "clean" coal with carbon-capture technology…[but insiders are] not optimistic about the legislation being enacted…

    "Twenty-nine states plus Washington, D.C., have an RPS, while eight states have voluntary goals or targets. California has the most ambitious RPS, 33% by 2020, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., in 2011 and is 86% in compliance]…Legislation signed in 2011 means that the state's RPS now applies to publicly owned utilities and retail sellers…Colorado is another state with an impressive RPS [and in compliance]…As of 2010, Minnesota was in complete compliance with its RPS, which is 30% by 2020 for Xcel Energy and 25% by 2025 for all other utilities…"

    Sunday, April 22, 2012


    Top Three Ways That American Taxpayers Subsidize Dirty Coal Development Jessica Goad and Stephen Lacey, April 13, 2012 (Climate Progress)

    "Environmentalists and public health advocates often talk about… externalities…[whose] total economically quantifiable costs…[are estimated at] some $345.3 billion, adding close to 17.8¢/kWh of electricity generated from coal….borne by the general public…[M]ore tangible ways the coal industry is being subsidized by the American taxpayer…[include] tax breaks, public land loopholes, and subsidized railroads that help them continue being ‘cheap.’

    "…1. Tax breaks…[include] three tax preferences for coal would save $2.6 billion between 2013-2022…Expensing of exploration and development costs…incurred by locating coal ore deposits…Percentage Depletion for Hard Mineral Fossil Fuels…[that] cover the costs of investments in mines…[and] Capital Gains Treatment for Royalties…so they are taxed at a lower rate."

    "…2. Public land loopholes…43.2 percent of U.S. coal comes from public lands. However, the coal industry benefits from a number of loopholes that make obtaining leases on public lands easier and cheaper…[T]he nation’s largest coal producing region, the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, is not legally classified as a ‘coal-producing region’…which shortchanges taxpayers for the value of the land and the coal underneath it…[Also,] the non-public process by which the Bureau of Land Management determines fair market value for coal on public lands…[puts the value]…much lower than would the market would command…

    "…3. Subsidized railroads…Coal is…47 percent of tonnage and 25 percent of revenue for U.S. railroads…U.S. railroads get loans and loan guarantees from government agencies like the Department of Transportation/Federal Railroad Administration and have received numerous tax incentives for investments in new infrastructure…[Also, trains carry coal for export] to Asian countries…[suggesting that] American taxpayers [are] subsidizing the coal boom in countries like China…"


    As Texas worries about power generation, is answer underground? Laylan Copelin, April 8, 2012 (Austin American Statesman)

    "…Chamisa Energy…[is planning] compressed air [energy] stored [CAES]…Generators will use wind-generated electricity, mostly at night when power demands are low and prices are cheapest, to compress air into salt caverns that will be carved 2,000 feet below the surface. As the demand for electricity rises during the day, the process is reversed. A mixture of compressed air and a small amount of natural gas would generate power.

    "…[It] became possible with a recent decision by the Public Utility of Commission of Texas that allows all storage technologies to pay wholesale rates…[S]torage technologies — from batteries to flywheels to compressed air — are coming to the forefront as a way to maximize solar and wind generation that are intermittent…Chamisa officials expect to be operational by 2014, just as the state completes 2,300 miles of high-voltage transmission lines…to bring more wind-generated electricity from West Texas to the rest of the state where it is needed…"

    "…[W]ater demand for cooling [the] plant is much less than other generation types — a plus in the arid Panhandle…The 270-megawatt facility would come online just when state officials are projecting a shortage of electricity generation for Texas…[It] could be expanded to 810 megawatts in phases by creating more caverns…[and] initially would be able to run continuously for 36 hours but could operate up to 100 hours if more caverns are added…There even could be the ability to store and generate power simultaneously…[The] only question is whether the technology is viable with… natural gas prices…well below $3 per million British thermal units…"

    "ERCOT officials must keep the supply and demand of electricity almost perfectly balanced, or the grid would crash and the lights would go out…To do so, power must be added or taken off the grid quickly…The [CAES] facility will be able to ramp up 26 megawatts almost instantaneously and could be at the full 270 megawatts within 10 minutes…[T]he facility can [also] ramp down quickly…[and] would be able to turn on and off frequently…[T]hat flexibility is the strength of energy storage…[T]he next four years are [expected to be] pivotal as the industry comes to grips with whether energy storage can be a full-fledged, financially viable segment of the market…"

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012


    GE Buys Stake In Large Oklahoma Wind Farm
    3 April 2012 (North American Windpower)

    'GE Energy Financial Services has partnered with Enel Green Power North America Inc. by committing common equity for a 51% ownership stake in the Chisholm View wind project.

    "The 235 MW wind farm is currently under construction near Hunter, Okla., and is expected to cost approximately $375 million. Enel Green Power North America owns the remaining 49% of the project and serves as the project manager. Enel Green Power and GE Energy Financial Services will raise tax equity for the wind farm at a later time."

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    "The project will be completed by the end of this year in order to qualify for the federal production tax credit. It will use 140 of GE’s 1.6 MW wind turbines and supply power to Alabama Power Co., a Southern Company subsidiary, under a 20-year agreement.

    "The wind farm’s developer, TradeWind Energy - a strategic development partner of Enel Green Power North America - estimated that the Chisholm View wind project will contribute up to $5 million annually to the local economy via property taxes and rent payments to landowners…"


    GreenVolts Announces ISIS™ Mobile for Solar Energy Management
    April 2, 2012 (GreenVolts, Inc.)

    "GreenVolts, Inc...[has introduced] its solar energy management software for iPad® and iPhone® mobile digital devices. The new ISIS™ Mobile is a natural extension of [the company’s] Internet-based ISIS energy management software and enables…management capabilities for utility scale solar power plants…

    "[GreenVolts said] ISIS is the first true solar information network, where every module, motor, tracker, and inverter is part of a comprehensive network architecture that includes GPS and Wi-Fi…[A] secure, cloud-based application, ISIS eliminates the need for users to maintain servers, back-up, disaster recovery, or software updates. Scalability is virtually infinite, software and data maintenance reduced to zero, and access is ubiquitous…"

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    "With ISIS Mobile, automated alerts, monitoring, diagnostics and control are now available on small, light, easy-to-use, and inexpensive mobile devices. Managers and operators that are on the go have quicker response time and greater productivity than ever before…

    "Key features…[include] Integrated design…[ISIS provides] in-depth, and high resolution monitoring, reporting, and management capabilities that are fully mapped across the entire system architecture…Integrated intelligence and control for every 4 kW of the system provides precision and inspection that is not possible with centralized designs…The performance history of each active component and its original factory test data are archived together and can be cross-referenced to analyze trends over time...[and] ISIS supplies live video of each site, weather and solar monitoring, asset management, and detailed maintenance logs…The graphical interface is quick to learn and easy to use…[and] secure…"


    Top 10 Smart Grid Market Trends To Watch This Year
    18 March 2012 (Renew Grid)

    "…[U]tilities have been focused on getting smart meters into the field. Federal stimulus money has largely fueled this effort in the U.S., but that money is drying up…Approximately 200 million smart meters have been deployed worldwide, and 40 million of those are now installed at locations in North America, according to Pike Research…

    "…1. Smart meters will shift from deployment to applications…2. Dynamic-pricing debates will escalate…3. "Architecture" will be the new buzzword……4. Cybersecurity failure risks will be nearly inevitable…5. Consumer backlash will not go away…"

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    "6. Distribution automation and AMI will intersect…7. Microgrids will move from curiosity to a reality…8. The freeze on HANs will thaw…9. Asia Pacific smart grid adoption will accelerate even more…10. Stimulus investments will bear mixed fruit…

    "A total of $4.5 billion was invested into the broad umbrella of the smart grid under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)…[S]timulus funds deployed on behalf of the smart grid have, in some cases, been frittered away on poorly designed rollouts of smart meters and AMI…[T]he Obama administration's stimulus spending on smart grid upgrades raised expectations to unrealistic heights...[and] utilities focused too much on the benefits meter data might bring to their own operations - and forgot to connect the dots with consumers…Rushed smart meter deployments - realized perhaps ahead of the standards maturity curve - are likely to be questioned for a long time."

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012


    About 35 GWp of New Solar Cell Manufacturing Equipment May be Purchased by 2017
    March 29, 2012 (Yole Developpement)

    "In the years to come, the manufacturing cost reduction in the PV industry will be led by equipment and material innovations. As only a part of the whole existing crystalline silicon manufacturing capacity is suited to the production of very high efficiency solar cells and modules, Yole Développement assumes that a part of the manufacturing capacity will be shut down or used at low utilization rates, and new capacities suited for very high efficiency products will be added. This provides an opportunity for PV equipment manufacturers to find customers despite existing production overcapacities…

    "Current technology and market consolidation are revealing an increased interest in high-efficiency cell and module approaches…[H]igh PV efficiency enables product differentiation and cuts on manufacturing and system costs and “Levelized Cost of Electricity” (LCOE)…Different very high cell and module efficiency approaches…[show] the opportunities for crystalline silicon as well as for some thin-film PV manufacturers."

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    "In order to reach very high cell and module efficiency (respectively over 19% and 16%), specific technology approaches, new materials and new equipment are required….[New materials]include quasi-mono silicon wafers and new equipment (ion implant tools, amorphous silicon deposition tools)…

    "Thanks to incentive policies, in the past the photovoltaic market experienced double digit average annual growth rates and more than 27GWp were installed during the year 2011. This resulted in a massive increase of the manufacturing capacities to cover the increasing demand. However, recently, lowered incentive mechanisms resulted in a market demand lower than expected. In consequence, high manufacturing overcapacities and module inventory result in a strong price pressure on the PV market and finally leads to technology and market consolidation…"


    UK wind production up 55% in 2011
    John McKenna, 29 March 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    "Higher than average wind speeds in 2011 helped UK wind farms generate 54.5% more electricity than they managed in 2010, according to government figures…Despite 2011 being the UK's lowest year for wind installations since 2005 — only 403MW was installed onshore and 291MW offshore – wind farms managed to generate 15.53TWh of electricity, up from 10.18TWh in 2010.

    "Onshore wind generated 10.42TWh, up 45.9% from 7.14TWh in 2010. Offshore wind generated 5.11TWh in 2011, up 67.9% from 3.04TWh the previous year…The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc)…claimed the increase in generation was due to higher windspeeds in 2011 and increased capacity."

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    "According to the Decc data, there was 4.63GW of installed onshore capacity at the end of 2011, and 1.34GW installed offshore capacity…Total energy production in the UK was 136.6TWh, a record annual decrease of 13.6% blamed largely on falling oil and gas generation.

    "Renewable electricity generation was 34.75 TWh and increased its share of the overall energy mix by 2.5 percentage points on 2010 to a record 9.5%."


    State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) Swallows the Global Smart Grid Stage, Zpryme Reports
    March 28, 2012 (Zpryme)

    "…[The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC)]… supplies power to 88% of China and serves an area populated by over 1 billion people. At the end of 2011, SGCC had 286 million customers…According to the SGCC, only 36 million smart meters have been installed as of 2011, but they have an ambitious plan to install over 300 million smart meters by the end of 2015. The sheer enormity of the state-owned transmission company, coupled with streamlined regulatory processes designed to promote rapid construction without barriers…are among the key reasons that China is the largest, most important market for Smart Grid development in the world.

    "At the end of 2011, SGCC has implemented 238 Smart Grid pilot projects to solve technical issues, test designs, and develop management systems. These projects covered the entire gamut of Smart Grid implementation, ranging from connecting wind power plants to automating distribution networks to metering households."

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    "The projects were implemented across different regions of China, including a highly publicized Smart Grid demonstration project at the Shanghai World Expo. Using the experience gained from these projects, SGCC released a set of industry rules, standards, and favored technologies for 22 criteria of Smart Grid technology in June 2010…

    "SGCC, Total Customers Served (2011): 286 million…SGCC, Total Installed Smart Meters (2015): 286 million…SGCC, Total Electricity Sales (2011): 3,093 TWh…SGCC, Total Revenue (2011): $265 billion USD…"

    Sunday, April 1, 2012


    Analysis of 251 Reactors Built or Cancelled in the U.S. Finds that Intractable Safety Issues Have Steadily Escalated Nuclear Costs and Fukushima Makes It Likely That Future Reactors Will Suffer the Same Fate, Driving Final Nail in Coffin of ‘Nuclear Renaissance’
    March 29, 2012 (Institute for Energy and the Environment/Vermont Law School)

    "…The high cost of addressing nuclear power safety concerns that are steadily multiplying in number is now the Number 1 factor guiding new nuclear reactor construction decisions, as well as the plans for retiring old reactors in the U.S., according to a new paper…by leading analyst Mark Cooper…senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment of the Vermont Law School…

    "…[Cooper] analyzed a full set of data on 251 U.S. nuclear reactors planned or docketed at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Two dozen variables influencing the three key junctures in the development of nuclear reactors -- the build/cancel decision, construction costs and repair/retire decisions – were examined by Cooper…[who] also compared the historical evidence on the state of U.S. nuclear safety from the early years of the industry (up to and including the accident at Three Mile Island) to the ongoing reviews of the catastrophe at Fukushima conducted by the U.S., Japan, and major European nuclear nations."

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    "Cooper’s conclusion: The cost of new nuclear reactors in the United States has risen steadily and will continue to do so since the industry cannot escape steadily growing safety concerns that seem to be inseparable from the technology itself…"

    [Cooper:] “Acquisition of new nuclear reactors embodies long-term commitments in exactly the wrong way for the current decision making environment. It commits to assets that have high risk or create large exposure to uncertainty with technologies that have vague long-term prospects (unstable resource availability and poorly understood environmental impacts). Unfortunately, admitting what you do not know is not something that the builders and operators of nuclear reactors are inclined to do. Their reaction is to insist their reactors are safe and commit to making them safer, but then complain bitterly about and fight additional safety measures that inevitably increase their already high costs.”


    Towering wind turbine prototype off Va. Approved
    Steve Szokotak, March 27, 2012 (Washington Post)

    "Spanish wind giant Gamesa Energy Inc. has Virginia’s approval to construct a 479-foot wind turbine prototype off the Eastern Shore.

    "…[T]he Virginia Marine Resources Commission unanimously approved the 5-megawatt wind turbine…It will be located in the lower Chesapeake Bay about three miles off the town of Cape Charles. Completion is scheduled for late next year."

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    "…[Governor Bob] McDonnell hailed the development and construction of the prototype as an important step and said it puts Virginia at the forefront of clean energy technology development.

    "Gamesa is partnering with Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding to develop and test new offshore wind technologies…One of their goals is to reduce the cost of wind power."


    Fort Hood Activates 684 kW PV Installation
    28 March 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "The U.S. Army's base at Fort Hood, Texas, has activated a 684 kW photovoltaic system at the base's Liberty Village Military Housing facility. Axium Solar and SCHOTT Solar PV partnered with the base's leadership on the project.

    "The four-acre ground-mount solar energy system will generate an estimated 1 GWh of energy annually, which is roughly 20% of the energy consumed in the 300 homes at Liberty Village…"

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    "…Universal Services Fort Hood, the operator of the housing village, financed the $3 million project and will own, operate and maintain the system.

    "Axium, a solar engineering, procurement and construction firm, executed the four-month project to install the solar energy system. SCHOTT provided the modules…[This contributes to the] Department of Defense…25% renewable energy by 2025 [goal]…"


    Study: Cape Wind Will Reduce Regional Electricity Prices by $7.2 Billion
    March 31, 2012 (Cape Wind)

    "Cape Wind will reduce wholesale electric prices for the New England region by $7.2 billion over 25 years, according to…Charles River Associates, a leading economic consulting firm…

    [Update to the Analysis of the Impact of Cape Wind on Lowering New England Energy Prices] shows that ISO New England, the electric grid operator, first dispatches electric generating units with the lowest cost fuel. Since Cape Wind’s fuel – wind – is zero cost…Cape Wind will displace higher priced and polluting fossil fueled units resulting in average savings of $286 Million per year in New England…"

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    "…The original report was published in February, 2010…The increase in price suppression in the report update was attributed primarily to an increase in power plant retirements and a larger price difference between natural gas and fuel oil.

    "Price suppression in wholesale electric markets occurring as a result of wind power projects has been documented in Europe and in several U.S. power markets. Price suppression from wind power was noted in [a 2009 New England Governors repot], which stated…[that] the wind resource potential could provide downward pressure on the marginal prices for energy within the New England electricity market…[and] benefit New England consumers…"


    SMA Introduces Off-Grid Photovoltaic System Configurator
    30 March 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "SMA has introduced the Off-Grid Configurator, a customizable product designed to help solar professionals design the ideal off-grid photovoltaic system. The software analyzes each design aspect from sizing the PV array to preparing a final cost analysis, thereby providing the user with comprehensive planning assistance that saves time and reduces costs, according to SMA…

    "The exact level of assistance provided by the Off-Grid Configurator is decided by the user. Project details (such as location data, consumption and AC/DC system components) can be manually defined or selected from the software's databases of location-specific climate information, prefabricated load profiles, PV modules, inverters and batteries…"

    An SMA Configurator screen (click thru for more info)

    "…The software then presents an optimal system configuration, designs the generator operation, and determines the ideal combination of Sunny Island battery-based inverters.

    "Using this data, a system simulation is performed and a financial analysis is prepared to calculate the system's cost effectiveness. All results are displayed graphically and can be printed as Microsoft Excel or Word documents or as a PDF…"


    Nearly 73 Million Smart Meters Were Shipped in 2011, But Deployments Slowed in the Fourth Quarter
    March 28, 2012 (Pike Research)

    "Overall, 2011 was a huge year for smart grid deployments, as global full-year shipments of smart meters reached nearly 73 million endpoints. Deployments in China drove most of this annual volume (71%), as the Asian juggernaut continued to build out its electrical infrastructure. Meanwhile, utilities in other countries made significant smart meter announcements during 2011…

    "…In Canada, Hydro-Quebec chose Landis+Gyr to supply most of its planned 3.75 million smart meters, while BC Hydro selected Itron to provide 1.8 million OpenWay meters over the next two years. In the United States, Consumers Energy announced that it would use SmartSynch’s communications network technology for 1.8 million smart meters to be deployed starting in August 2012. The pace of smart meter and smart grid deployments slowed in the fourth quarter of 2011, however, as some projects wound down and fewer new big projects were announced…"

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    "According to…Pike Research, overall smart meter shipments in the last three months of the year slipped nearly 8% from 3Q 2011. Global smart meter shipments reached 17.8 million in 4Q 2011…with China accounting for 12.3 million of these…

    "Several new smart grid deployments announced during 4Q 2011 came from medium-sized and smaller utilities…But these are rather small volumes when compared to projects announced in previous quarters of 2011, when millions of endpoints were involved. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, British Gas said it was halting further installations of smart meters until the government clarified its smart meter plans…"