NewEnergyNews More: May 2012

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  • Thursday, May 31, 2012


    Solar Finance Re-Invented: How Today's Projects Lure New Market Players

    29 May 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Financing of U.S. solar projects is in the midst of a transformation, with new business models, new investors and new financing vehicles gaining sway, according to new research [in Re-Imagining U.S. Solar Financing] by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (commissioned by Reznick Group).

    “U.S. solar projects have historically been bankrolled by some combination of energy sector players, banks and the federal government, but the landscape is rapidly changing. New business models are emerging, with an emphasis on third-party financing, the report says. New investors, including institutional players, are entering. New financing vehicles - such as project bonds and other securities - are being assembled to tap the broader capital markets…”

    “The evolution toward a broader investor base is expected to help maintain growth for U.S. solar deployment. Asset financing for U.S. PV projects has grown by a compound annual growth rate of 58% since 2004 and surged to a record $21.1 billion in 2011, fueled by the one-year extension of the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Section 1603 cash-grant program…Funding the next nine years of growth (2012-2020) for U.S. PV deployment will require about $6.9 billion annually on average, the report says.

    “Two factors are predicted to drive the evolution. First, traditional players [like eurozone banks and the Department of Energy's loan-guarantee program] are scaling back their participation…Second, thanks to the continuing low-interest-rate environment, nontraditional investors are becoming more interested, lured by the risk-return profiles of solar projects that employ well-proven PV technology…”


    ERCOT Report Reinforces Future Electricity Adequacy Concerns

    29 May 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) says it foresees potential electricity shortages within the coming decade as electricity use in Texas continues to hit new records…The newly revised Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) report shows a reserve margin of 9.8% by 2014. That is well below ERCOT's 13.75% target for electric generation capacity that exceeds the forecast peak demand on the grid. The 2014 outlook includes slightly more than 75 GW of power to serve an anticipated peak demand of 68 GW.

    “By 2015, projected reserves are expected to drop to 6.9%, with 76.6 GW of resources available to serve a peak demand of 71.6 GW. The 13.75% target-planning reserve margin, approved by ERCOT's board in 2010, is set to ensure enough power is available for contingencies such as extreme weather and unplanned power plant outages…”

    “Peak electricity use in the ERCOT region is driven by high temperatures and economic conditions. The mid- and long-term peak-demand forecast is based on a 15-year average weather profile combined with economic factors such as per capita income, population, gross domestic product and various employment measures. The report does not include the outlook for this summer…

    “…[T]he outlook for summer 2013 actually has improved since the previous CDR was released in December 2011…[because] about 1.2 GW of previously "mothballed" capacity has returned to service…[including] nearly 600 MW of new renewable power [105 MW of biomass, 432 MW of wind power and 59 MW of solar power]…By 2016, the forecast includes 3.6 GW of new gas-fired capacity, more than 2 GW of new wind power, about 900 MW of new coal-fired generation and 60 MW of solar power…New wind power will include about 600 MW of coastal wind, which has historically provided significant power to the grid when it is needed most - late in the afternoon on hot summer days…The grid operator has also incorporated an increase in demand-response (DR) services...”

    Wednesday, May 30, 2012


    China Accuses U.S. Of Solar Trade Violations, SEIA Responds

    25 May 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Incentive programs for solar and other forms of renewable energy in five U.S. states violate international free-trade rules and treaties, according to China's Ministry of Commerce. Bloomberg reports that the ministry has ruled…[they] break World Trade Organization rules…In addition, 14 China-based PV manufacturers have formed a new coalition in response to the U.S. Department of Commerce's (DOC) announcement last week that tariffs would be applied to solar modules exported from China to the U.S.

    “Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), released a statement calling for international dialogue and reiterating his previous warning that trade conflicts can hurt the global solar sector…”

    “…SEIA and the China Renewable Energy Industries Association have requested that the U.S. and Chinese governments engage the 21 member countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in a formal clean energy dialogue on trade. According to SEIA, this conversation would provide an ‘excellent framework’ for a much larger, global agreement on acceptable solar energy policy…

    “SEIA's calls for international dialogue have not been universally accepted by solar manufacturers. SolarWorld, which led the initial trade complaint against China that resulted in the DOC's tariffs, has accused SEIA of breaking its stated pledge of neutrality…”


    Story Of Wind-Related Transmission Is One That Needs To Be Told

    22 May 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “Installing a substantial amount of wind power, along with upgrading transmission in the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) territory, could have positive consumer benefits at a lower cost than is assumed, according to a report sponsored by the Americans For A Clean Energy Grid (ACEG)…[The study of wind-related transmission investments for MISO projects] concludes that consumer electricity prices would decline under low- or high-transmission scenarios.

    “Introducing greater levels of wind resources into MISO generally depresses the average annual market price relative to a baseline case of no additional wind generation beyond the existing 10 GW currently in place in MISO, according to the report. Because wind energy ‘fuel’ is free, once they are built, wind power plants displace fossil-fueled generation and lower the price of marginal supply - thus lowering the energy market-clearing price…”

    “With good system planning, it is likely that large quantities of wind could be integrated with low or moderate transmission investments - though still larger increases than have been seen in the recent past…If load growth can be kept to a minimum through demand response and energy efficiency, the incremental transmission needed to integrate wind can be lowered (relative to a baseline with greater load growth) because a key determinant of transmission need is peak-load level…

    Transmission projects would still be required to connect remote wind resources…and "backbone" investments would still be needed…[but] continuous investment cycles of extra-high-voltage lines should not be necessary, and the cumulative rate impacts should remain small…Transformation of the supply fleet to much more flexible operation…[and] extensive coordination, control and forecasting improvements in the electric power sector, could also mitigate the need for…[much more] transmission…"

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012


    American Wind Wildlife Institute releases eagle white paper

    Carl Levesque, May 25, 2012 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    “…[The American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI)-released white paper on eagles and wind power…Eagles and Wind Energy: Identifying Research Priorities…[from] leading conservation organizations, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and members of the wind industry…[is intended] to help resolve challenges relating to wind energy development and eagle protection…

    “…AWWI developed the white paper with extensive input from eagle experts…and the group continues to work with experts, agency staff, conservation organizations, and wind energy industry partners to advance this goal and implement its eagle initiative…AWWI’s white paper synthesizes current knowledge of eagle population status and trends, as well as of human-related causes of fatalities including wind energy, and identifies priorities…”

    “Findings…[included]…[1] Bald eagles are thriving, while the status of golden eagle populations is uncertain…[2, Data] of known eagle fatalities recorded between 2006 and 2011 from all anthropogenic sources suggests that electrocution for golden eagles (50 percent), and poisoning for bald eagles (36 percent), are leading sources. Wind turbine collisions in the Altamont Pass account for 21.5 percent and wind turbines at other sites 0.5 percent of all golden eagle fatalities…

    “…[Research topics included]…gaps on demography and status relevant to calculating take thresholds…estimates of eagle mortality…siting and operational strategies that avoid or minimize eagle fatalities…compensatory mitigation…coordinating and enhancing existing collaborative research...The white paper concludes that AWWI should focus over the next 12 months on expanding options for compensatory mitigation while continuing to identify, support, and collaborate with other research initiatives…”


    Global carbon-dioxide emissions increase by 1.0 Gt in 2011 to record high

    24 May 2012 (International Energy Agency)

    “Global carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-fuel combustion reached a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2011, according to preliminary estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA). This represents an increase of 1.0 Gt on 2010, or 3.2%. Coal accounted for 45% of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2011, followed by oil (35%) and natural gas (20%).

    “The 450 Scenario of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2011, which sets out an energy pathway consistent with a 50% chance of limiting the increase in the average global temperature to 2°C, requires CO2 emissions to peak at 32.6 Gt no later than 2017…The 450 Scenario sees a decoupling of CO2 emissions from global GDP, but much still needs to be done to reach that goal…[T]he rate of growth in CO2 emissions in 2011 exceeded that of global GDP…”

    “In 2011, a 6.1% increase in CO2 emissions in countries outside the OECD was only partly offset by a 0.6% reduction in emissions inside the OECD. China made the largest contribution to the global increase, with its emissions rising by 720 million tonnes (Mt), or 9.3%, primarily due to higher coal consumption [though its rapid deployment of energy efficiency and New Energy is paying dividends]…Had these gains not been made, China’s CO2 emissions in 2011 would have been higher by 1.5 Gt…India’s emissions rose by 140 Mt, or 8.7%, moving it ahead of Russia to become the fourth largest emitter behind China, the United States, and the European Union…

    “…[P]er-capita CO2 emissions in China and India still remain just 63% and 15% of the OECD average respectively…CO2 emissions in the United States in 2011 fell by 92 Mt, or 1.7%, primarily due to ongoing switching from coal to natural gas in power generation and an exceptionally mild winter…higher oil prices and the economic downturn…CO2 emissions in the EU in 2011 were lower by 69 Mt, or 1.9%...Japan’s emissions increased by 28 Mt, or 2.4%, as a result of a substantial increase in the use of fossil fuels in power generation post-Fukushima.”


    Conservative think tanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy strategy; Confidential memo seen by Guardian calls for climate change sceptics to turn American public against solar and wind power

    Suzanne Goldenberg, 8 May 2012 (UK Guardian)

    “A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama's energy agenda…A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.

    “…[A] confidential strategy memo…[prepared by John Droz Jr, a senior fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI) advised] using ‘subversion’ to build a national movement of wind farm protesters…[It] was discussed at a meeting of self-styled 'wind warriors' from across the country in Washington DC last February…Among its main recommendations, the proposal calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing ‘subversion in message of industry so that it effectively because so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it.’”

    “It suggests setting up "dummy businesses" to buy anti-wind billboards, and creating a "counter-intelligence branch" to track the wind energy industry. It also calls for spending $750,000 to create an organisation with paid staff and tax-exempt status dedicated to building public opposition to state and federal government policies encouraging the wind energy industry…Droz is a longtime opponent of wind farms, arguing that the technology has not yet been proven and that wind technology should not receive government support. He claims 10,000 subscribers to his anti-wind-power email newsletter…

    “The [ATI] strategy session is the latest evidence of a concerted attack on the clean energy industry by think tanks and lobby groups connected to oil and coal interests and free-market ideologues…united by their efforts to discredit climate science [including the Heartland Institute, the John Locke Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity, the organising arm of the Tea Party movement]…Campaign groups and spokespersons for the wind industry say there has been a sharp rise in organised opposition since early 2009 when Obama put investment in renewable energy at the heart of his economic recovery plan…[Conservatives] appear to be readying] a confrontation over wind farms and other clean energy issues in the [coming] elections…”


    New Rankings Crown The 'Cleanest' Solar Firms, Defy Stereotypes

    Jessica Lillian, 25 May 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “…The trade-war discussion has also encompassed…the belief that Chinese factories - including solar fabs - create hazardous working conditions, flout pollution laws and generally act as poor corporate citizens…[but China-headquartered Trina Solar was recently crowned the cleanest PV manufacturer by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) in its third annual Solar Scorecard. Trina unseated last year's winner, SolarWorld, as the most environmentally friendly and worker-friendly PV manufacturer.

    “With a score of 94 (out of a possible 100), Trina barely beat out second-place SunPower (headquartered in the U.S., though it manufactures its products in Malaysia, Mexico and the Philippines), which earned 93 points…Germany-headquartered SolarWorld - known as the leading public face behind the anti-dumping complaint and countervailing-duty petition that brought about the new tariffs on Chinese manufacturers - came in third place, with a score of 91 points…”

    “Yingli, which manufactures in China, placed fourth in this year's survey, with a score of 88. Other top 10 manufacturers included REC (87 points), Suntech (86 points), Avancis (79 points), Aleo Solar (77 points), Sovello (77 points), Solon Energy GmbH (75 points) and First Solar (74 points)…At the bottom of the pack, two China-based manufacturers - JinkoSolar and LDK Solar - received scores of zero. Neither company responded to the SVTC's survey…Jinko holds the dubious distinction of having experienced perhaps the most public environmental contamination incident within the PV manufacturing industry over the past year…Two non-China-based manufacturers, Hanwha SolarOne (with manufacturing locations in Korea) and Schott (with manufacturing locations in Germany, the U.S. and Czech Republic, as well as in China) fared scarcely better…

    “According to the SVTC, the PV cell and module manufacturing industry as a whole - regardless of factory locations - still needs to make major strides in improving its overall environmental and social-justice profile…Specifically, manufacturers should aim to reduce their usage of toxic chemicals, develop or strengthen their module recycling programs and take steps to protect their workers up and down the supply chain…”

    Monday, May 28, 2012


    New Mexico Wind Farm To Add Huge Solar Energy Installation

    22 May 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “…Element Power Americas says it will add a 50 MW solar power installation to the Macho Springs Wind Energy Facility, which is already operating in Luna County, N.M. The solar addition will comprise thin-film photovoltaic panels.”

    “The 50.4 MW Macho Springs wind project…features 28 Vestas V100-1.8 MW wind turbines, was completed in 2011…[Its output is sold] to Tucson Electric Power under a long-term power purchase agreement.”

    Thursday, May 24, 2012


    South Africa approves 562MW of wind projects

    James Quilter, 21 May 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    “South Africa has approved seven wind projects totalling 562MW as part of its second renewable energy tender…The government awarded 1.04GW out of a total of 1.23GW available. The projects include the 138MW Amakhala Emoyenia project in Eastern Cape province.

    “Wind also took the largest slice in terms of the maximum capacity available, with the government awarding 417 PV projects…Vestas…[was] appointed preferred supplier for five of the projects, with the orders covering a total capacity of 297MW.”

    “In December, the South African government announced 28 preferred bidders following the first round of its call for tenders under the renewable-energy independent power producer (IPP) programme.

    “Out of the bids, wind power accounts for just under 30% with eight of the projects selected. however, the projects totalled 633.99MW, around 45% of the total of 1415.52 MW.”


    Renewable Energy Transmission Line Planned For New Mexico

    18 May 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “Lucky Corridor LLC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Western Area Power Administration, a power marketing administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, to explore the potential joint development of a 93-mile, 230 kV transmission line project in northern New Mexico.

    “The proposed project and associated upgraded facilities would make it possible to transport New Mexico's wind and solar energy to electricity users across the Western states…”

    “The proposed transmission line would use existing pathways through private, state and federal lands in New Mexico to feed energy to Four Corners, an NYMEX hub, where it can be sold.

    “Lucky Corridor has also entered into an MOU with New Mexico's Renewable Energy Transmission Authority to help develop and fund the transmission project. The effort was initiated by Lynn Chapman Greene…and ranchers [in New Mexico and Colorado]…”


    Nanosolar Puts 1 MW Of CIGS PV Power Online In California

    21 May 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Nanosolar Inc., a manufacturer of CIGS thin-film solar cells and panels, says it has completed a 1 MW ground-mounted installation at Camp Roberts in San Miguel, Calif. The installation is part of the U.S. Department of Defense's Energy Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP).”

    “The installation uses 4,992 of Nanosolar's thin-film panels, which are produced through a proprietary roll-to-roll printing process to coat an aluminum foil with CIGS inks. The company's manufacturing capacity is currently 115 MW annually, and it is producing 230 W panels that feature an 11.5% conversion efficiency. Nanosolar expects that the panels' efficiency, through process and technology improvements, will increase to 14% by the end of next year.”

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012


    PJM Interconnection Putting More Solar Power On The Grid

    21 May 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “PJM Interconnection, the operator of the high-voltage electric power grid on much of the Atlantic coast and in parts of the Midwest, says it procured 56 MW of solar power during its most recent capacity auction - an increase of 22% over last year...The capacity auction also procured 796 MW of wind power (a 15% increase) and 14.8 GW of demand response resources…”

    “…Terry Boston, president and CEO of the grid operator, noted that PJM is currently confronting an ‘unprecedented change in fuel mix’ as more first-generation coal-fired power plants are being retired from service…PJM serves 60 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.”


    Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium announces $7.5 million in grants to lower the cost of large-scale solar power; The university-industry consortium led by Stanford and UC-Berkeley aims to make utility-scale solar energy cost-competitive by 2020.

    Mark Shwartz, May 17, 2012 (Stanford University News)

    “The Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium (BAPVC) – an industry-supported program led by Stanford University and the University of California-Berkeley – has announced its first research grants aimed at making utility-scale solar power cost-competitive by the end of the decade.

    “A total of $7.5 million will be given to 18 research teams at BAPVC partner institutions Stanford, UC-Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory…to develop new technologies that significantly reduce the cost of photovoltaic modules and make large-scale solar technology cheaper for electric utilities by 2020…More than two-dozen corporations participate in the consortium…including GE, DuPont, HelioVolt and Corning…”

    “The BAPVC is a key part of the DOE SunShot Initiative to reduce the installed price of large-scale photovoltaic systems from $3 per watt to $1 per watt by 2020 without government subsidies…Today, less than 1 percent of the electricity generated in the United States comes from solar power. But at $1 per watt, solar-generated electricity would be comparable in cost to electricity produced from coal-powered power plants. That would give utilities a strong economic incentive to begin installing photovoltaic systems across the country, which in turn would dramatically increase the percentage of solar-generated power in the United States, according to DOE projections.

    “In a utility-scale photovoltaic system, about half of the installed cost goes into permits, power electronics, mounting hardware and other on-site construction costs. The solar module itself accounts for about half of the cost…To address the DOE's price-cutting challenge, the consortium has adopted a whole-module approach to its research effort…”


    Ocotillo wind project advances despite tribal objections

    Morgan Lee, ay 12, 2012 (San Diego Union-Tribune)

    “…Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed off on [the construction of a large-scale wind energy project across 10,000 acres of public lands on the outskirts of the desert town of Ocotillo]…Environmental Impact Statement over the objection of Native American tribal officials who remain concerned about the aesthetic impact of the project on ancestral lands and the potential for disturbing cultural and archaeological artifacts, including possible cremation sites.

    “The Bureau of Land Management said it worked closely with Native American tribes and neighboring residents to minimize impacts of the project…[which] would form a crescent shape around Ocotillo in Imperial County, providing electricity to customers of San Diego Gas & Electric in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The power plant was designed to generate enough electricity to supply about 95,000 homes…[and] will tie into a major transmission project, the Sunrise Powerlink, that is slated for completion as soon as June.”

    “…Pattern Energy…is developing the project under a 20-year power purchase agreement with SDG&E. Terms of the agreement will not be public for several years under regulations intended to encourage a competitive bulk power market…The energy pact should count toward aggressive state requirements…[for investor-owned utilities] and other retailers [to] procure 33 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

    “Native American tribal officials remain concerned about artifacts as well as the basic visual intrusion on a landscape tied to the creation stories of several nearby tribes…BLM officials say nearly nearly 2,300 acres were excluded from the project because of concerns about cultural resources. Thenumber of turbines was reduced from 155 to 112 to avoid blocking views that are important to the tribes. The agency conducted four site visits and dozens of consultation meetings with representatives of 10 tribes…”

    Tuesday, May 22, 2012


    Apple Planning Solar Installations To Power North Carolina Data Center 18 May 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Responding to criticism that its operations relied heavily on fossil fuels, Apple plans to power its main data center entirely on renewable energy by year-end…The company will build two solar projects near its data center in North Carolina that will supply a total of 84 GWh of electricity annually…”

    “SunPower Corp. and Bloom Energy are reportedly supplying the equipment for the project, which will cover 250 acres…Apple also says it plans to convert its other two data centers to coal-free electricity.”


    EU Leaders: Wind Energy Is Part Of Solution To Europe's Economic Woes

    21 May 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “European leaders…[believe] wind energy can help lead to more jobs and economic growth.

    “In 2010, the wind energy sector's growth rate was twice that of the European Union's (EU) gross domestic product. Furthermore, although the EU's overall unemployment rate rose between 2007 and 2010, over 50 new jobs were created in the European wind industry daily, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).”

    [Christian Kjaer, CEO, EWEA:] "EU funds must be leveraged - for example, through the European Investment Bank, and by potentially using structural funds - towards technologies that can make a significant and immediate impact on jobs, while reducing Europe's fuel import bill…Onshore wind energy offers the greatest short-term stimulus potential, followed by offshore wind energy and investments in electricity infrastructure.”

    “According to EWEA, wind energy and its benefits must be prioritized in the EU's 2014 to 2020 budget - which is currently under discussion - and more research and development funding is needed in order to bring costs down and allow wind energy to reach its potential.”


    China Is Developing a Grid Better for Coal Than Renewables; The new electricity grid will make it hard for China to meet its greenhouse gas and energy-intensity goals

    Lisa Friedman/ClimateWire, May 16, 2012 (Scientific American)

    “China will fail to meet its carbon and energy intensity targets unless it makes dramatic changes to its electricity grid, China Power: Benefits and Costs of the 'Strong, Smart Grid finds…While newer and in many ways more technologically advanced than the U.S. grid, China's system is nevertheless being built to perpetuate the use of coal and large hydropower projects…One key finding: China's engineers are developing a grid that is more likely to connect to coal than to renewables…

    “…China pledged to lower its carbon intensity 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade, while moving to non-fossil fuels for about 15 percent of its energy. It has since spelled out specific short-term targets, like providing 9.5 percent of the country's energy through renewables by 2015…But unless those mandates are coupled with better planning and a more transparent system, the end result will be expensive and continue to have a big carbon footprint…[R]esearchers found that China is on a path to ‘squander’ 400 billion yuan ($63.2 billion) annually by 2020, even as its coal-fired power plants emit ‘more carbon than the entire U.S. economy.’”

    “The Chinese government recently announced that it is building an 800-kilovolt power line to deliver wind and solar energy thousands of miles and that could eventually be the world's largest-capacity transmission line. According to the Transition Energy report, though, the near-exclusive focus on an ultra-high-voltage transmission network as the system's backbone fails to take the electricity consumer's role into account…[and therefore] the cost and emissions from China's electric power generation could more than triple by 2030…

    “…[T]wo-thirds of the power is owned by industry, so the State Electricity Regulatory Commission is toothless. The state grid lacks control over pricing but retains strong influence over how rates are structured -- a system resulting in a disproportionate amount of money going to the state grid itself…[T]here is little incentive to invest in best-generation technologies…Price reform, the report authors say, is critical for rapid deployment of efficiency technologies…China will [also] need the establishment of a power planning agency charged with overseeing environmental and economic goals as well as power-generating targets…”

    Monday, May 21, 2012


    Austin Solar Advocates Looking To Find Common Ground On Utility's Plans

    Angela Beniwal, 17 May 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Texas formed the Sustainable Energy Development Council (SEDC) in the early '90s to figure out how to maximize the clean energy potential of the state. Texas is now a leader in renewable energy production, due largely to that initiative…[T]he City of Austin, Texas, is following in the footsteps of the SEDC by creating the Austin Local Solar Advisory Committee, which is tasked with issuing recommendations on how to develop more local solar projects…[and] reach a consensus on how best to optimize Austin's solar resources…

    “…Austin Energy is owned by the city. Currently, there is a little over 6 MW of installed solar - mostly in the form of systems 20 kW or smaller - in Austin. The utility's Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan includes a goal of reaching 35% renewable energy by 2020, with 200 MW of this coming from solar…However, the plan does not state whether the solar resources have to be local or if they can come from power plants located outside of the city…”

    “…[S]takeholders agree that they want more solar, but there are different viewpoints as to how to reach this goal…[A] U.S. Department of Energy study…[said] Austin could produce approximately 2.3 GW of power if panels were installed on all the unshaded, south-facing roofs in the city…

    “The city is also in an unusual position because it owns the utility…Austin Energy supports adding more solar to its generation mix, but the utility does not necessarily think that all 200 MW needs to come from distributed resources within Austin…[Other] solar advocates are pushing for local solar in order to create a sustainable economy. Another goal is to avoid the boom-and-bust cycles that can result from temporary or changing incentives, such as the solar rebate that is offered by Austin Energy…”


    NRG Systems Reduces Headcount For The First Time

    18 May 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “Due to what it calls ‘ongoing uncertainty and volatility in the global wind energy industry,’ …wind energy assessment provider NRG Systems has laid off 18 workers - the first such layoffs in the company's 30-year history…

    “According to NRG, although the U.S. wind industry has always weathered the boom-and-bust cycle of inconsistent federal policy, the stakes today are much higher, given the 400-plus manufacturing facilities and 75,000 employees supported by wind energy.”

    “After a decade of steady growth, the wind industry is being hampered by external forces, including an uneven playing field for U.S. energy subsidies, the looming expiration of the production tax credit for wind and abnormally low natural-gas prices…

    “NRG [said] the layoffs - following cuts in company benefits, travel and other expenses - were made based on business need…The company [said] it is now better positioned for success when the market stabilizes.”


    What Is The Power Grid's Most Significant Reliability Issue?

    16 May 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “The reliability of the bulk power supply in the U.S. remains adequate, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corp.'s (NERC) 2012 State of Reliability report [on ongoing reliability trends]. However, protection-system misoperations remain a significant issue…

    “There were few changes to the reliability of the bulk power system between 2008 and 2011. The severity risk index (SRI) and the 18 metrics that measure characteristics of adequate level of reliability (ALR) indicate the bulk power system is within the defined acceptable ALR conditions…An improved ALR definition is being developed…From 2008 to 2011, the number of bulk-power-system transmission-related events - excluding events caused by factors other than the performance of the transmission system - resulting in loss of firm load was relatively flat, with an average eight to 10 events per year.”

    “The 2011 daily severity risk index value that measures events resulting in the loss of transmission, generation and load showed that the majority of the year's performance was improved compared to 2008, 2009 and 2010…However, when weather-initiated events are included, 2011 had more "high-stress days" (eight days with an SRI greater than five) than had been experienced in prior years (two to five days with an SRI higher than five)…

    “The availability of the bulk transmission system remains high, with no statistically significant change from 2008 to 2011. The AC circuit availability was above 98%, and the transformer availability was above 96% for both 2010 and 2011…[R]oughly 2% of the events per year (92 events out of 4,185 total events) contained between three and 14 momentary and sustained automatic outages…A recent survey of 133 of these events (from 2008 to 2011) shows that over 60% of the returned survey responses involved abnormal clearing of one or more of the element outages. Nearly half of them involved element outages initiated by protection-system misoperations…”

    Thursday, May 17, 2012


    Does A Clean Energy Standard Have Any Chance In Congress?

    Laura DeMugno, 15 May 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “A new study predicts that an 80% by 2035 clean energy standard, similar to the one introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., in March, could pass both chambers of Congress if it increases electricity rates by less than 5% on average.

    “The report, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, concluded that in order for the Senate to pass such a policy, the average increase would have to amount to less than $59 per year for the average U.S. household, and for the House of Representatives to pass it, additional costs would have to be below $48 per year.”

    “A recent report from the Energy Information Administration found that Bingaman's proposal would not increase electricity rates in the first 10 years following its enactment, but rates would likely climb after that…However, customers may be willing to pay for that increase, the authors of the study claim…

    “…[T]he average U.S. citizen is willing to pay an additional $162 per year on his or her electric bills in order to purchase clean energy…[S]ome utilities are already offering customers the option to choose renewable energy for a slightly higher premium…Bingaman’s clean energy standard proposal will be the focus of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on May 17.”


    PV Revenue Growth in 2H’12 Stimulated by US and Asia Pacific Pipelines; Shift Towards Emerging PV Markets Outside Europe Highlights Importance of Diversified Downstream Strategies

    14 May 2012 (Solarbuzz)

    “Solar photovoltaic (PV) demand during 2H’12 will see increasing contributions from emerging markets in North America and Asia Pacific, with 60% of PV demand coming from these non-European regions according to new research…[from] NPD Solarbuzz…This represents an important change for the PV industry, indicative of longer-term trends in which the share of global PV demand stimulated by European countries will decline. While 50% of global demand during 2H’11 came from Germany and Italy, 54% of demand in the final quarter of 2012 is forecast to come from China, India, Japan and the US…

    “During 2H’12, utility-scale projects will accelerate PV growth across North America and Asia Pacific, representing 57% of demand in those regions. To realize projects on-time and within budget, the role of project developers will become increasingly important, especially in accessing finance and coordinating necessary permits and EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) providers. Downstream companies that can provide monitoring, performance guarantees or project maintenance to ensure the quality of electricity delivered will also benefit from this segment growth.”

    “Large ground-mount projects (>5 MW in capacity) across China and India are forecast to dominate Asia Pacific demand during 2H’12. Over 2.2 GW are expected to be completed in Q4'12, ahead of year-end policy expiration dates…PV demand in Japan during 2H’12 is forecast to exceed 1.1 GW, representing 74% growth compared to 2H’11…Although the impact of the cash grant will decline, more than 60% of 2012 US demand will occur during 2H’12, driven by utility-scale projects towards RPS (renewable portfolios standard) compliance in California and other states, as well as residential lease expansions to the east coast…

    “Key European market segment changes from Q1’12 to Q2’12 include a rise in ground-mount share from 28% to 33%, residential share rising from 19% to 22%, and building-mount share declining from 53% to 44%. However, 2H’12 will be characterized by declines in the ground-mount sector due to the shift in policy focus, especially across more mature markets…”


    Despite Slow Start, Home Energy Management Market Will Surpass $2 Billion in Annual Revenue by 2020

    May 16, 2012 (Pike Research)

    “…[T]he once hyped home energy management (HEM) market has struggled to gain traction. Numerous trials have led to only a few cases of industry deployments and to anemic rates of consumer adoption. Today that is starting to change, and over the remainder of the decade momentum will build in this nascent market…

    “…According to a new report from Pike Research, global annual shipments of standalone HEM systems will grow from a quarter million in 2011 to nearly 4.7 million in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.3%. Combined revenue for all HEM segments will grow from a base of $93 million in 2011 to more than $2 billion in 2020…”

    “HEM products can be viewed in five groups, or segments, along a continuum that moves from paper bills (a mailed statement from the utility showing a customer’s energy usage as it compares to households nearby), through standalone HEM systems, which include some device-level tracking and automated device control capabilities, up to networked HEM, comprising auto-pricing response capabilities, demand response (DR) load control, and home automation controls…

    “…Of these, networked-HEM revenue will see the strongest growth (76.8% CAGR), as utilities attempt to drive volume sales of networked HEM systems in order to make DR and time-of-use pricing schemes feasible…”

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012


    San Onofre’s Steam Generator Failures Could Have Been Prevented Summary

    Arnie Gunderdsen, May 14, 2012 (Fairewinds Associates)

    “Southern California Edison’s four replacement steam generators at their San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station failed in less than two years of operation, while the original equipment operated for 28 years. Fairewinds has been analyzing the data in order to determine how such an expensive investment could fail so quickly.

    “In June of 2006 Edison informed the NRC that the replacement steam generators to be manufactured by Mitsubishi would be fabricated to the same design specifications as the original San Onofre Combustion Engineering (CE) steam generators. According to Nuclear Engineering International, Edison has admitted that this was a strategic decision to avoid a more thorough license amendment and review process…”

    “Fairewinds finds that there are numerous changes to the San Onofre steam generators that are not like-for-like…Furthermore, the facts reviewed by Fairewinds makes it clear that if Edison had informed the NRC that the new steam generators were not like-for-like, the more thorough NRC licensing review process would have likely identified the design problems before the steam generators were manufactured.

    “Finally, Fairewinds finds that tube plugging is not the solution to the vibration problem…and that the damaged steam generators will still require major modifications with repair and outage time that could last more than 18 months if Edison and Mitsubishi are even able to repair these faulty designed steam generators. However, Fairewinds finds that the safest long-term action is the replacement of the San Onofre steam generators…”


    AWC offshore grid closer to reality

    Diane Bailey, 14 May 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    “The Google-backed Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) offshore wind transmission line cleared a regulatory hurdle Monday, with the US Department of the Interior announcing it has not received any overlapping interest in similar projects from competitors.

    “The finding of "no competitive interest" clears the way for the project to move forward with the environmental review necessary to grant a right-of-way for construction of the line.”

    “The high voltage direct-current line, whose investors include Google, Good Energies II LP, the Marubeni Corporation and Elia, would run about 790 miles in length and enable up to 6GW of offshore wind to be delivered to the grid…The project consists of two power lines running from northern New Jersey to Norfolk, Virginia. Elia has acquired 10% and 5% shares of the first and second phases of the project respectively.

    “The government has identified wind project development areas off the coasts of Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and expects to begin awarding leases to developers later this year…It also expects to identify additional areas off North Carolina and Massachusetts…”


    Concentrator Optics raises €3.5 million

    7 May 2012 (Concentrator Optics)

    “Concentrating photovoltaics is gaining momentum with an expected industry growth exceeding 400% for the current year. Following this trend, Concentrator Optics raised €3.5 million in equity, debt and grant financing…

    “…Capricorn Cleantech Fund, Leu-ven, Belgium, and the German Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) contributed to the equity raise…[which will] be used for installing a 40 MW silicone-on-glass lens production line, for organizational development and for fuelling its continued commercial growth.”

    “With concentrating photovoltaics (CPV), sunlight is concentrated by factor of 500 to 1,200 employ-ing flat Fresnel lenses in order to generate electricity by using very small and highly efficient cells. This technology enjoys rapid growth due to the double efficiency compared with traditional photo-voltaic systems in sunny climates with high direct irradiation levels.

    “Concentrator Optics is one of the few global manufacturers of Fresnel lenses and is the only company to offer lenses in both PMMA as silicone-on-glass technology…Concentrating photovoltaics offers highest efficiency ( > 30%) solar power generation…Concentrator Optics has generated unique technologies…[in] materials and processes in the manufacturing of Fresnel lenses and in the tooling processes upstream of the lens fabrication…”

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012


    China’s nuclear giant opts for CSP-biomass hybrid

    Paul French, May 11, 2012 (CSP Today)

    “China’s leading nuclear power company…China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corporation (CGNPC), the PRC’s largest single nuclear power company and reactor operator, started construction this month on an integrated biomass-solar power [rooftop] generation plant [for its offices] in the South East Asian island state of Singapore…

    “…[T]he project represents an investment of approximately US$33.6 million for Phase I. The plant is fuelled by wood and horticultural waste and includes a solar installation on the building’s rooftop. Phase I is expected to generate 10MWand be completed by November 2013. Details of any potential Phase II have not yet been announced.”

    “The plant is being integrated into CGNPC’s new regional headquarters building in Singapore. CGNPC aims to use this HQ to win business in South East Asia with both neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as nearby Vietnam, all of which are looking to build civilian nuclear power plants and are actively considering Chinese reactor options…

    “This facility is the first overseas project of its kind to be developed and implemented by CGNPC. While the company has developed the technology in-house, it has yet to announce plans to roll it out on a commercial scale. Instead, it appears to remain focused on its core business, nuclear power. However, CGNPC has previously dabbled in solar, wind and hydro, so it is likely that they will add this technology offering to their portfolio at some point in the future…”


    Utilities Try to Tame the Backlash Against Smart Meters

    Mark Chediak, May 10, 2012 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “…[S]ome consumers have started pushing back [against smart meter installations], saying the gadgets compromise privacy, raise costs rather than cut them, and threaten health with electromagnetic fields from the radios the meters use to transmit data. The backlash has slowed improvements to the nation’s power grid as some utilities hold off on rollout plans while regulators weigh the potential benefits against the cost of the programs, expected to reach nearly $29 billion nationwide by 2015.

    “To keep installations on track, regulators in California, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont are allowing utilities to impose a surcharge on consumers who want to keep their conventional meters, and four other states are considering such fees…Though only a small percentage of users have balked at smart meters, the surcharges have spurred intense opposition among consumer groups…”

    “The new meters let utilities track consumption constantly, so they can raise rates during times of peak demand such as summer heat waves. Such price jumps, regulators say, will help keep usage in check, reducing the risk of blackouts from network overload and easing the need for expensive new power plants. The smart meters can also be controlled from a central location, saving utilities money by eliminating the need for meter readers and letting them shut off service to deadbeat customers from afar…

    “Power companies have invested more than $15 billion in smart grid projects and are projected to spend an additional $13 billion through 2015…Some 27 million smart meters have been installed, and within three years that number will likely reach 65 million, or about half of U.S. homes…”


    WINDPOWER 2012 first North American event to be labeled WindMade

    May 11, 2012 (American Wind Energy Association)

    “The American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER 2012 Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta, June 3-6, will be the first North American event ever to earn WindMade’s designation as 100 percent powered by wind energy…

    “For an event to garner the WindMade label, it needs to procure 100 percent of its electricity footprint from wind power. The electricity associated with WINDPOWER 2012 and powered by wind includes the event preparations at the AWEA offices, the power usage at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, and electricity used at the social events, including conference receptions and dinners…”

    “In order to cover 100 percent of the electricity used for WINDPOWER 2012, AWEA has committed to procuring an equivalent amount of Green-E labelled Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). This commitment is compliant with the requirements set out in WindMade’s ‘Events Standard.’

    “The Events Standard was developed following strong demand from conference organisers wishing to differentiate their events by showing their commitment to wind power. Under the WindMade Technical Standard, any kind of event could be labelled – from a theatre production to a trade fair, from a big sports event to a small conference.”

    Monday, May 14, 2012


    Solar Integrator Rankings Show Increasing Presence Of China-Based Firms

    10 May (Solar Industry)

    “Germany-based Belectric maintained its position as the world's largest PV system integrator in 2011, with close to 400 MW of new PV capacity developed, according to a recently released report from IMS Research (recently acquired by IHS Inc.).

    “However, Chinese integrators - buoyed by the huge boom in domestic power plants - achieved the biggest gains, and made up three of the top 10 PV integrators in 2011…Belectric held on to its No. 1 position for the second year in a row. The company was followed closely behind by China Power Investment Corp. (CPI), which was responsible for 380 MW of new PV capacity in China in 2011…”

    “Although the biggest gains were made by Chinese integrators, several U.S.-based companies also exhibited strong performance, in terms of project completion. First Solar, SunEdison and SunPower ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, on the list.

    “IMS Research also found that, although Chinese suppliers made the biggest gains in 2011 and had three of its integrators ranked in the top 10, Germany companies dominated the rest of the rankings…”


    Clemson Facility To Test Drivetrains For Wind Turbines In 5 MW To 15 MW Range

    10 May 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “….Engineers with Choate Construction will pour 750 cubic yards of concrete into a channel to form the 7.5 MW test rig foundation [for the Clemson University Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility]…

    “The pour marks a milestone for the massive construction project…[that] involves completely redeveloping an 82,000 square-foot warehouse on a former Navy base. The engineering design was performed by AEC Engineering in Minneapolis.”

    “In November 2009, Clemson and its partners were awarded a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy - which was combined with $53 million in matching funds - to build and operate the large-scale testing facility for next-generation wind turbine drivetrains.

    “When complete at the beginning of next year, the facility at the Clemson University Restoration Institute will have the capability for full-scale, highly accelerated testing of advanced drivetrain systems for wind turbines in the 5 MW to 15 MW range [with 50 Hz and 60 Hz testing capabilities]…”


    New Software Helps Renewable Energy Developers Choose Best Energy-Storage Option

    11 May 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “Sandia National Laboratories and the U.S. Department of Energy…[p]artnering with DNV KEMA, a global testing and consulting firm…[are] releasing Energy Storage Select (ES-Select), software designed to make it easier to conduct a quick, high-level analysis of energy-storage options and determine the value of energy-storage technologies for a specified application, including renewable energy projects.

    “Developers and utilities that want to use energy storage have many technologies to consider, including flywheels, compressed air, pumped hydro, thermal storage and six types of electric batteries…According to Sandia, the tool helps companies make decisions about what storage technologies would work best in a given situation…”

    “…For example, if a business pays more for electricity during the day than at night, the owner could use the tool to quickly evaluate several energy-storage options to determine the costs and benefits of buying lower-cost electricity at night and storing it for use during the day…Users can input the application they are interested in, as well as specify such parameters as energy costs and discount rates, and the program produces a list of storage technologies and their predicted benefits and associated costs…

    “ES-Select aggregates all of the inputs and assumptions - monetary value for an application, technology costs, performance characteristics and operation and maintenance costs - and quickly provides recommendations…”

    Thursday, May 10, 2012


    UT Report: Solar Growing as Viable US Energy Source

    May 1, 2012 (University of Tennessee)

    "Solar power is a viable energy source for the nation, and its use is rapidly growing in the U.S. as federal incentives—similar to those that helped other energy markets to develop—are put in place.

    "…[Assessment of Incentives and Employment Impacts of Solar Industry Deployment from the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the Solar Energy Industries Association] outlines a variety of benefits of solar energy…[including its] ability to reduce energy costs by providing much of the nation’s electricity needs during peak usage times…[its] potential to produce hundreds of thousands of jobs; and…[its] tremendous export potential for solar manufacturing and materials."

    "…Annual installed solar capacity has seen steady increases, especially in the past six years. It nearly doubled between 2009 and 2010 and was expected to double again between 2010 and 2011…Long-term annual cumulative growth projections range from about 5 percent to 25 percent…As the use of solar energy increases, the industry will grow as an economic force…

    "…Historically, it’s taken about thirty years for energy resources—oil, natural gas, hydropower, coal, etc.—to go from innovation to early adoption to rapid growth, and, finally, to majority adoption, the report notes…The federal government currently provides incentives to every major energy production market…Ideally, the incentives can decrease as the industry matures…Fossil fuels, biofuels, and nuclear power have had significant federal engagement in the production, refining, and transportation steps…Solar energy…won’t need [as] much federal investment…"


    Gamesa Shies Away From U.S. Offshore Wind Market, Shelves 5 MW Prototype

    Laura DiMugno, 8 May 2012 (North American Windpower)

    "Citing an immature market and a difficult regulatory and political environment, Gamesa and its collaboration partner Newport News Shipbuilding have suspended the development of Gamesa's G11X-5.0 MW offshore wind prototype - a decision that is highly reflective of the uncertainties and challenges currently plaguing the U.S. offshore wind energy market.

    "In March, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission approved Gamesa's plans to deploy the 5 MW offshore wind prototype in the Chesapeake Bay - an installation the company planned to complete in 2013...[But] regulatory red tape, logistical barriers and policy uncertainty have stalled U.S. offshore wind development…[Gamesa] likely would be unable to find financing for U.S. offshore wind projects if the production tax credit for wind power is not extended beyond its year-end expiration."

    The failure to extend the PTC could stop this growth.

    "Gamesa and Newport News Shipbuilding are now finishing up what they call a ‘critical design review’ (CDR) of the offshore prototype project, which has focused on improving turbine reliability, servicing requirements, civil engineering efficiencies in infrastructure development, and the cost of offshore wind energy…When the CDR is complete, Gamesa will also shut down its Offshore Wind Technology Center, which opened in February 2011 in Chesapeake, Va.

    "Instead, Gamesa is turning to other markets with more favorable offshore wind environments, such as its native Spain. On the same day the company announced its decision to suspend the development of its G11X-5.0 MW prototype in the U.S., it said it was launching the permitting process for the installation of a 50 Hz 5 MW offshore prototype - the G128-5.0 MW - in Spain’s Canary Islands…[A]n offshore wid farm [should be] permitted for the site by late 2013 or early 2014…"


    Energy Efficient Homes; Building Envelope, Lighting, HVAC and Appliances, Water Heating, Energy Audits, and Soft Costs: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    2Q 2012 (Pike Research)

    "…Since the United States housing bubble burst in 2007, the residential construction and real estate markets have floundered in many OECD countries, and some have experienced a full stop in new construction…[but] the markets in China and India are experiencing unprecedented booms in residential construction…[and] energy efficiency is becoming an increasingly important issue around the world as total residential energy consumption continues to rise, creating greater demands on power infrastructure and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

    "Energy efficient homes, according to Pike Research’s definition, are properties that are built to exceed the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code by 15% on a kilowatt-hour per square foot basis. Construction of residential properties that achieve such energy savings – in both new construction or in existing building stock – is a highly diverse design problem complicated by factors such as local climate, availability of materials, funding, and legislation."

    "…In order to achieve [the 15%] level of energy savings over the 2009 IECC, home builders and retrofitters must adopt a systems approach to home design and construction, integrating all aspects of home operation.

    "The Pike Research report analyzes the global market opportunity for energy efficient homes, including a focus on key market segments such as building envelope improvements, lighting, HVAC and major appliances, water heating, energy audits, and soft costs associated with energy efficiency…"

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012


    U.S. Wind Power Industry Installed 1.695 GW In Q1

    3 May 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “…The [U.S.] wind energy industry installed 52% more capacity in the first quarter than it did in the same quarter in 2011. Continuing a trend that became evident at the end of last year, under-construction numbers were also exceptionally strong in the first quarter, clocking in at 8.916 GW, with 2.284 GW of that total starting construction just this quarter…

    “…[1.695 GW of wind energy capacity installed in the first quarter, with 788 wind turbines added in 17 states, bringing the country's total installed wind power capacity to 48.611 GW, according to the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) first quarter market report,…”

    “…[Projects are being built in 31 states and Puerto Rico with] California (370 MW), Oregon (308 MW), Texas (254 MW), Washington (127 MW) and Pennsylvania (121 MW) were the top five states for new wind power additions.

    “…New Hampshire (388%), Arizona (72%), Massachusetts (17%), Pennsylvania (15%) and Oregon (12%) [had the largest growth in the first quarter]…The top states for wind projects under construction were Kansas (1.34 GW), Texas (914 MW), Oklahoma (894 MW), California (777 MW) and Illinois (705 MW).”


    10 Ways to Leverage Solar Panels to Reduce Your Electric Bill

    May 6, 2012 (Compare Electricity Rates)

    “…The advantages and savings [of residential solar] ]can be significant and quickly offset the installation cost…[Federal incentives] help offset the cost of installation…[allowing] lower energy cost in a shorter time frame…[Panels can] provide electricity just for appliances or lighting, to reduce your dependency on the utility company…[and] lower your bill…Since your consumption will be lower, and your home is more energy efficient, you may qualify for lower rates.

    “Feed-in tariffs…[allowing homeowners to] sell surplus energy generated by…solar panels back to the electric grid…Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s) allow homeowners to lease equipment from a private company…[T]he company then sells surplus electricity to its customer at a lower price than the local utility. This…[allows the homeowner to avoid] the expense of installing his own equipment."

    “Net Metering…[allows homeowners with solar power to use their electric meters to measure electricity production as well as consumption] and calculate the difference. As you generate electricity with you solar panels, you are in essence banking credit with you local electric company.

    “…The resale value of your home will increase by as much as 20% with the installation of solar panels…[Y]our solar panels [can] provide the power to your home heating system…[providing substantial financial [savings]...[T]he solar panel array…[can also do water heating, even in a] winter power outage… DIY kits available to consumers…can greatly reduce your initial cost, which in turn brings you to quicker profitability…”


    Smart Meter Unit Shipments in North America Peaked in 2011 and will Decline 42% by 2013, while Global Market Continues to Grow

    2Q 2012 (Pike Research)

    “Smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) have transformed a placid, 140-year old electricity metering market into a high-tech, high-growth juggernaut. In 2008, less than 4% of the global installed base of 1.5 billion electricity meters could be considered ‘smart,’ but 4 years later this penetration has grown to over 18%, and is forecast to exceed 55% by 2020…

    “…[G]lobal growth will continue…[but growth] peaked in North America in 2011, and annual smart meter shipments are expected to decline sharply. According to a new report from Pike Research, unit shipments of smart meters in North America were 12.4 million in 2011 and will decline to 7.2 million by 2013, a 42% drop over just 2 years. After 2014, they will begin a gradual rise through the end of the decade."

    “…The global smart meter market…[will grow] at a compound annual growth rate of just under 5% between 2010 and 2020…[with] very dynamic and even volatile regional market characteristics…These swings make the market both enticing and challenging…

    “Pike Research’s analysis shows that, while the North American market faces dramatic near-term contraction, the European market is beginning a similarly dramatic growth period. The Asia Pacific region will continue to outpace all other regions, driven by major deployments in China, utilizing a different breed of smart meter technology…[O]ver the next 8 years…penetration rates reach 64% in Europe in 2020 and nearly 70% in Asia Pacific…”

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012


    Obama Administration Announces New Industry Commitments To Green Button Initiative

    4 May 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “The Obama administration has announced that six new utilities and electricity suppliers will commit to providing more than 15 million households with access to data about their energy usage by utilizing an online ‘Green Button.’ The goal of the program is to help consumers reduce waste and lower their electricity bills.

    “Green Button is an industry-led effort that allows electricity customers to download their household or building energy-use data in a consumer- and computer-friendly format.”

    “The utilities and electricity suppliers making new commitments…Chattanooga EPB, serving 170,000 customers in Tennessee and Georgia…National Grid, which serves 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island…[PacifiCorp/ Pacific Power]…serving more than 1.7 million customers as Rocky Mountain Power in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho…Oregon, Washington and California…PPL, serving 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania; and…TXU Energy, serving approximately 1.8 million retail electric customers in Texas.

    “These utilities join 15 others that have already agreed to base their Green Button functions on a common technical standard developed in collaboration with a public-private partnership supported by the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. Adoption of a consensus standard by utilities across the Nation facilitates the entry of creative software developers and other entrepreneurs interested in designing and marketing new products and services based on Green Button data.”


    Wind Power Expected To Help ERCOT Manage High Electricity Demand This Summer

    4 May 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state's grid operator and manager of Texas' wholesale electric market…expects to use a variety of resources - including wind power - to meet anticipated electric demand this summer.

    “ERCOT says its generation outlook is improved by more than 2 GW of wind power, which tends to be available to the grid during the late afternoon, when it is needed most in the summer. Wind power generation in the ERCOT region continues to break records, and instantaneous wind power served nearly a quarter of ERCOT load twice in April.”

    “Another 48 MW of commercial-scale solar power - including about 20 MW that went online this spring - also has been added to the grid…[N]early 2 GW of [conventional power plant] capacity that had been…taken offline for an indefinite period of time…[has been returned] to service…[and] about 1.5 GW of demand-response resources, which include energy users that reduce or drop their energy use at ERCOT's request if generation reserves drop below 1.7 GW [will be available]…

    “ERCOT expects to have a total of nearly 74 GW of generation resources available to serve summer needs. The grid operator’s summer assessment assumes weather will be warmer and drier than the 15-year historical average, but less extreme than in 2011…”