NewEnergyNews More: August 2012

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  • Wednesday, August 29, 2012


    CSP Plants Set Electricity Supply Record In Spain

    27 August 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Spain's 35 concentrating solar power (CSP) plants reached two new milestones last month…On July 15, the projects met 3.25% of Spain's electricity consumption; on July 11, at 5:00 p.m., 4.1% of electricity fed into the grid came from the CSP plants.”

    “The CSP sector could be one of the most profitable for Spanish companies, provided that new regulations under consideration by the Spanish government do not create barriers…”


    What Critics of Wind Power's Incentive Miss

    Denise Bode, August 22, 2012 (Huffington Post)

    “As the prospect of Congress extending wind energy's primary incentive, the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), has grown in recent weeks, so have both support and criticism…Des Moines, Denver, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Houston, New York and other papers] have all editorialized in favor…[while The Wall Street Journal] continued its steady drumbeat of broadsides against renewable energy in general and the wind tax credit in particular…”

    “Historically, all energy sources have been encouraged by government, and for good reason. Ensuring a steady supply of domestic energy is vital to the productivity of our national economy…A recent study from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) points out that traditional energy sources enjoy an enormous advantage with regard to tax relief and other incentives…[because] federal energy tax policy focused almost exclusively [for over half a century] on increasing domestic oil and gas reserves and production…[and] remain in the tax code…

    “That advantage is permanent, allowing for a stable business environment that wind energy is deprived of because of on-again, off-again federal policies…Renewable energy sources are not receiving excessive support…[T]he federal commitment to [oil and gas] was five times greater than the federal commitment to renewables during the first 15 years of each [incentive's] life, and it was more than 10 times greater for nuclear…”

    “Wind energy's incentive is tax relief…in the form of a federal tax credit. To call tax relief a subsidy is to assume that all money belongs to the government. Rather, a tax credit simply leaves more money in private hands. In this case, anyone who makes renewable energy qualifies. The result has been the creation of over $15 billion a year in private investment and 75,000 privately financed jobs in wind power…[and wind's] incentive, the Production Tax Credit, has strong bipartisan support…[GOP strategist Karl Rove] called it something Republicans and Democrats can agree on…”


    Smart Building Managed Services; Software as a Service plus Energy Management/NOC Services and On-Site Installation & Maintenance Services for Commercial Buildings: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “…[T]he adoption of sophisticated energy management systems in commercial buildings has been proven to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The ability of these systems to process and analyze huge volumes of energy-related data has shifted the way buildings are designed, built, and operated, but it has also proven challenging for the people who operate buildings on a daily basis…

    “…Recent economic conditions have caused building owners to cut back on both the numbers and types of personnel that they hire, shifting operational priorities from efficiency generating projects to those that are an absolute necessity…Smart building managed service providers have stepped to the fore…[M]anaged service vendors work closely with clients, effectively becoming an extension of the building’s own staff…”

    “The competitive landscape for smart building managed services [SBMS] is evolving at a quick pace driven by new technologies, big data, and a wide variety of service models. Large established market players and OEMs such as Johnson Controls, Siemens, and Schneider Electric have a strong foothold…More focused companies such as Ecova and Pacific Controls have leveraged their independence from the larger OEMs to build strong relationships with their clients, while large IT companies such as IBM and HP have become strong competitors…

    “[Pike Research projects that SBMS growth rates from 2012 through 2020 will outpace projected growth rates for the BEMS [building energy management service] market and will signal increasing market demand for a more service-oriented approach…In 2012, SBMS market spending amounts to $291 million. It will grow to $1.1 billion by 2020, the end of the forecast period, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 18%]…”

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012


    Romney Reveals Plans For U.S. Energy Policy; SEIA Weighs In

    24 August 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has revealed his detailed plans for energy policy in the U.S. if he is elected president… The Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class: Energy Independence stresses domestic production of oil and gas onshore and offshore. Through this strategy, Romney predicts the U.S. can become energy-independent by 2020…

    “The paper contains few specific mentions of solar power or other forms of renewable energy. However, several of Romney's proposals for removing regulatory hurdles to developing domestic sources of energy would likely apply to both fossil fuels and renewable energy sources…”

    “The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) applauded Romney's plans to reduce red tape at the federal level. Despite efforts by the Obama administration to speed permitting, utility-scale solar energy projects have been no stranger to regulatory hurdles and long-permitting timelines…SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch [said] SEIA plans to continue to work with lawmakers of all political stripes in an effort to reduce barriers to energy deployment, from the national level down to the local level.

    “…Citing infamous failed solar manufacturer Solyndra and job losses in the wind energy sector, Romney called for a reduced, revised role of government spending in the renewable energy sector…[T]he private sector can take the lead on energy technology advancement, and government-related investment in energy should focus on…basic, early-stage research for new technologies…SEIA voiced approval of Romney's acknowledgement that the federal government can help develop new energy sources but pointed out that all energy sources - including oil and natural gas - receive federal support…”


    Mapping Tool Helps Wind Energy Companies Screen Early For Critical Habitat, Potential Wildlife Impacts

    August 23, 2012 (American Wind Wildlife Institute)

    “The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI)…[have upgraded] the AWWI Landscape Assessment Tool (LAT), the state-of-the art wind-wildlife GIS mapping tool that they have jointly created. The LAT is designed to help wind energy developers with early screening for possible wildlife and habitat impacts…”

    [Joe Fargione, Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy:] "The wind-wildlife mapping tool…just got more powerful with the addition of critical habitat overlays for 225 endangered species including numerous species of plants, insects, mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles…”

    “Critical habitats are areas that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designates ‘as necessary to the survival or recovery of an endangered or threatened species,’ and which therefore ‘may require special management and protection.’ The LAT upgrade features critical habitat maps for the species for which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated such habitat and produced corresponding GIS layers.

    “In all, LAT users can now display web-based maps drawn from over 700 data layers including land use and ownership, the potential distribution of endangered and threatened species, and other relevant wildlife and habitat data. The LAT is intended to be used by wind energy companies as they undertake preliminary, ‘Tier 1’ assessments of potential sites…”


    Networked Home Energy Management Devices and In-Home Displays Utilizing ZigBee, PLC, HomePlug, and Wi-Fi Connectivity: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Home area networks (HANs) are localized systems of hardware and software that enable…consumers to access consumption information that, when acted upon, can result in reduced use of energy and lower costs. The HAN is seen as one of the last zones of technologies that complete the modern smart grid…[by leveraging] consumption information provided by smart meters…to HAN devices that can take advantage of the information – often resulting in both energy and cost savings for the consumer.

    “…[HANs] adoption has been slowed by a number of factors, including consumer indifference, the cost of new equipment, and evolving technology standards. Utilities themselves have taken a relatively slow approach…[and] concentrated initial efforts on the deployment of smart meters. A few utilities in North America have started to promote HANs…In Europe, HAN adoption has been sluggish…with the exception of the United Kingdom, where regulatory mandates require basic HAN gear to be part of new smart meter deployments…”

    “…[Networked home energy management (HEM) shipments will grow steadily, starting with worldwide volumes of nearly 18,000 in 2011 and growing to almost 4 million in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 81.8%. North America will lead, followed by Western Europe, as government mandates stimulate shipments…[I]n Asia Pacific…a 2011-2020 CAGR of 109.7% is expected. This growth is due in part, to Japanese utility giant TEPCO, which is seeking bids for deploying approximately 17 million smart meters by 2019; the smart meter deployment will drive increased HAN volumes…

    “Combined overall revenue…will grow from more than $24 million at the beginning of the forecast to $1.1 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 53.4%. The total revenue for displays is expected to be greater than revenue for networked HEM because of lower prices and larger volumes]…”

    Monday, August 27, 2012


    Natural gas, renewables dominate electric capacity additions in first half of 2012

    August 20, 2012 (Energy Information Administration)

    “During the first half of 2012, 165 new electric power generators were added in 33 states, for a total of 8,098 megawatts (MW) of new capacity. [A total of 3,092 MW was retired, from 58 generators in 17 states.] Of the ten states with the highest levels of capacity additions, most of the new capacity uses natural gas or renewable energy sources. Capacity additions in these ten states total 6,500 MW, or 80% of the new capacity added nationally in the first six months of 2012.

    “Most of the new generators built over the past 15 years are powered by natural gas or wind. In 2012, the addition of natural gas and renewable generators comes at a time when natural gas and renewable generation are contributing increasing amounts to total generation across much of the United States. In particular, efficient combined-cycle natural gas generators are competitive with coal generators over a large swath of the country…Only one coal-fired generator was brought online in the first half of 2012…”

    “…[O]f the 165 generators added, 105 were under 25 MW. Many of these use renewable energy sources, most commonly solar and landfill gas…2012 has also seen a significant number of new peaking generators, the combustion turbines and internal combustion engines that operate when electric demand is at its highest, which also tend to be on the small side. These technologies are usually fueled by natural gas or petroleum, but can also burn landfill gas…

    “Solar has shown significant growth in the electric power sector over the past two years. From the beginning of 2010 to the end of June 2012, 1,308 MW of new utility-scale solar capacity has come online, more than tripling the 619 MW in place at the end of 2009…[and] these additions understate actual solar capacity gains…[because] significant levels of solar capacity exist in smaller, non-utility-scale applications (e.g., rooftop solar photovoltaics)…”


    Chinese solar imports drop for three consecutive months; June import value declines 60 percent from 2011 levels

    August 13, 2012 (Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing)

    “For the third straight month, imports of Chinese solar cells and panels into the United States decreased year-over-year…In June, Chinese solar imports totaled $99.6 million, down almost 60 percent from $241.5 million in June 2011, according to the Department of Commerce…The year-over-year decline is significant and reflects the market's rising recognition of the costs, risks and uncertainties associated with importing Chinese solar cells and panels…

    “While some of the year-on-year decrease is due to sharply falling module prices from 2011 to 2012, June 2012 imports of Chinese solar cells and panels were also down 20 percent from the previous month's total of $124.1 million. Between the same two months in 2011, the value of Chinese imports increased 7 percent.”

    “…Chinese import levels for all of 2012 are still ahead of last year's record pace: For the first six months of this year, the total value of Chinese cell and panel imports reached $1.32 billion, up from $1.23 billion for the same period of 2011, an increase of 7.3 percent…The increase is even more significant because dumped and subsidized Chinese pricing has lowered the per-watt average import values so dramatically in 2011 and 2012.

    “… June was the first month in which Chinese manufacturers were fully affected by both preliminary anti-subsidy duties of up to 4.73 percent on Chinese cells and panels that Commerce announced on March 26, 2012, and preliminary antidumping duties on Chinese solar cell and panel imports…announced on May 25, 2012…[of up to 31 percent on specifically named combinations of producers and exporters]…[The] duties were retroactive to Dec. 27, 2011, and the anti-dumping duties were retroactive to Feb. 25…”


    TVA Liable for Massive Tenn, Coal Ash Spill

    Donna Lisenby, August 23, 2012 (Waterkeeper Alliance via EcoWatch)

    “…[F]ederal district court Judge Thomas Varlan…[found] the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was negligent in its conduct and will be held liable for damages caused by their massive coal ash spill into the Emory River and the surrounding community of Harriman, Tennessee on Dec. 22, 2008.

    “This ruling is an important victory for the people and the waterway that were devastated by this preventable tragedy when a 70 foot tall dam catastrophically and suddenly failed at 1 a.m., sending more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash from TVA’s Kingston coal fired power plant into the surrounding community and the Emory River.”

    “Varlan ruled today that the spill was caused by a combination of TVA’s dike design, continued wet coal ash storage at the plant and geological conditions…This case has national significance not only because it is the largest coal ash spill in the history of the U.S., but because there are 1,000 more coal ash ponds at coal fired power plants across the nation…[C]oal ash is toxic to waterways and aquatic life because it contains a vast array of heavy metals and other pollutants:

    “In order to protect communities from toxic coal ash, the U.S. EPA released new rules to regulate the waste but they have been stalled by legislative interference in Congress. A handful of Senators working for the benefit of the polluting coal industry is seeking to remove the U.S. EPA’s federal authority to regulate coal ash with the rotten new Senate Bill 3512…”

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012


    Michigan State study: state ballot proposal would create over 74,000 jobs

    Carl Levesque, August 17, 2012 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    “At least 74,495 Michigan jobs will be created if the Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs renewable energy ballot proposal passes in November...[According to Michigan State University’s Projected Job and Investment Impacts of Policy Requiring 25% Renewable Energy by 2025 in Michigan, the proposal] would create more than $10 billion in new investments…

    “…[T]he proposal would create 31,513 jobs from construction and 42,982 jobs from operations and maintenance. A range of additional job impacts could follow passage of the proposal…All told, the initiative would create between 74,495 and 113,845 jobs in Michigan…Under the proposed RPS, the 25 percent threshold would be met in increments, with wind, solar, hydro and biomass qualifying as resources…”

    “…The proposal includes a 1 percent cap on electricity rate increases, a provision that answers any possible claims by opponents that the RPS would negatively impact consumers’ wallets…

    “…Given the current cost of electricity in the state, the RPS would not be expected to trigger such a rate cap, even without the federal Production Tax Credit, wind power’s crucial primary policy driver that is awaiting extension. Current power-price revenues for the two largest utilities in the state are at around $100 per megawatt-hour, and wind power purchase agreements in the state range between $65 and $95/MWh.) Currently Michigan has an RPS of 10 percent by 2015…”


    Study Confirms PTC Uncertainty's Impact On Wind Jobs, Reveals Top States For Clean Energy Jobs

    16 August 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “As many as 37,409 jobs could be created from the more than 70 major clean energy projects announced across the U.S. during the second quarter of this year [but the potential end of the production tax credit (PTC) already is putting a damper on the growth of the wind industry], according to a recent report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national group of business leaders who advocate for sound economic and environmental policies…

    “In the second quarter, E2 tracked 12 wind project announcements that are poised to create about 2,300 jobs, compared to 31 wind project announcements that would create more than 9,100 jobs in the first quarter of this year…[but] uncertainty over the production tax credit…[is] already taking its toll on job creation in that sector…”

    “…[T]he top [5] states for clean energy jobs in the second quarter were…California (16 projects announced with 20,879 possible jobs)…Florida (three projects announced with 7,375 possible jobs)…New York (three projects announced with 1,408 possible jobs)…Michigan (nine projects announced with 1,319 possible jobs)…Colorado (two projects announced with 1,100 possible jobs)…

    “Clean energy projects were announced in 30 states in the second quarter. Nearly one-third of the announcements were in Midwest states, including Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.”


    Clean Edge Stock Index Update – Q2 2012; Quarterly update on CELS, QWND, and QGRD through June 30, 2012

    August 21, 2012 (Clean Edge)

    “CELS is designed to track the performance of U.S.-listed companies that are primarily manufacturers, developers, distributors, or installers of clean-energy technologies. The Index lost 13.54 percent during Q2 2012 and is down 39.08 percent over the last 12 months…

    “QWND is a modified market-capitalization index and includes companies that are primarily manufacturers, developers, distributors, installers, and users of energy derived from wind sources. The index dropped 23.44 percent during Q2 2012 and is down 44.91 percent over the last 12 months…”

    “QGRD is a modified market-capitalization index and includes companies that are primarily engaged and involved in electric grid; electric meters, devices, and networks; energy storage and management; and enabling software used by the smart grid and electric infrastructure sector. The index fell 5.89 percent in Q2 2012 and is down 19.23 percent over the last 12 months.

    “An exchange traded fund (ETF) is based on the NASDAQ OMX® Clean Edge® Smart Grid Infrastructure Index and is sponsored by First Trust Advisors L.P. To learn more about QGRD methodology, up-to-date performance, licensing information, and licensed products please visit”

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012


    Energy Report: U.S. Wind Energy Production and Manufacturing Surges, Supporting Jobs and Diversifying U.S. Energy Economy

    August 14, 2012 (U.S. Department of Energy)

    “…According to the 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report, the United States remained one of the world’s largest and fastest growing wind markets in 2011, with wind power representing a remarkable 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions in the United States last year and accounting for $14 billion in new investment…

    “…[T]he percentage of wind equipment made in America also increased dramatically. Nearly seventy percent of the equipment installed at U.S. wind farms last year – including wind turbines and components like towers, blades, gears, and generators - is now from domestic manufacturers, doubling from 35 percent in 2005…”

    “The report finds that in 2011, roughly 6,800 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity was added to the U.S. grid, a 31 percent increase from 2010 installations. The United States’ wind power capacity reached 47,000 MW by the end of 2011 and has since grown to 50,000 MW…The country’s cumulative installed wind energy capacity grew 16 percent from 2010, and has increased more than18-fold since 2000…[S]ix states now meet more than 10 percent of their total electricity needs with wind power.

    “…[T]he wind sector employs 75,000 American workers, including workers at manufacturing facilities up and down the supply chain, as well as engineers and construction workers who build and operate the wind farms…Technical innovation allowing for larger wind turbines with longer, lighter blades has steadily improved wind turbine performance…[while] project capital and maintenance costs continue to decline…For new wind projects deployed last year, the price of wind under long-term power purchase contracts with utilities averaged 40 percent lower than in 2010 and about 50 percent lower than in 2009, making wind competitive with a range of wholesale power prices seen in 2011…”


    Electric Drive Buses; Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, Battery Electric, and Fuel Cell Buses: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts for Heavy Duty and Medium Duty Segments

    3Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Over the past few years, government stimulus funding has helped drive adoption of alternative fuel buses around the world, including buses with electric drivetrains. Hybrid and battery buses have both benefitted from these initiatives, while fuel cell buses have had support from government programs designed to support transit fuel cell systems…

    “…[For] electric drive options…many of [the] benefits accrue mostly to the public, rather than to owners or operators…[This] threatens to limit the commercial success of these technologies. All three bus options come with higher price tags than diesel or CNG buses, and bus operators must either offset these costs with government subsidies or achieve sufficient operational savings to offset the price premium.”

    “…[Overall, the global market for all electric drive buses is expected to grow steadily over the next 6 years, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.4% from 2012 to 2018 but the]…cost premium will be a challenge for both battery and fuel cell buses in securing significant market share, but both segments will continue to see growth as countries subsidize new bus technologies…

    “…Hybrid buses have already captured significant market share in the United States, and China has also been strong in this technology. Hybrid buses will also begin to see more uptake in Europe, albeit at a slower rate than in the United States or China. Lithium ion batteries, the primary battery chemistry for battery buses, [with global demand over 162,000 kWh in 2012 and growing to more than 1.3 million kWh by 2018, a CAGR of 42%. They will] also supply a significant percentage of the energy storage needed in hybrid and fuel cell drivetrains…”


    Clean Energy Jobs Growing Rapidly In Massachusetts

    17 August 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Massachusetts' clean energy economy grew by 11.2% from July 2011 to July 2012…[and] now employs 71,523 people at 4,995 clean energy firms across Massachusetts.

    “According to [Massachusetts Clean Energy Report 2012 from Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), direct job growth] in work related to the state's clean energy sector…outpaced the overall economy nearly ten times over and is expected to continue, as employers surveyed expect to hire more workers in 2013.”

    “Clean energy continues to maintain its place as one of the commonwealth's marquee industries, with 1.7% of the total Massachusetts workforce…[in] a large number of firms in varied industries - ranging from construction and manufacturing to research and development - reporting activity and employment in the clean energy sector.

    “…[The] report identified a large number of companies that do not necessarily identify themselves as clean energy companies first, but directly engage in activities related to the clean energy cluster - showing that clean energy penetrates numerous sectors of the Massachusetts economy…”

    Monday, August 20, 2012


    Study: TV Media Ignore Climate Change In Coverage Of Record July Heat

    Jill Fitzsimmons and Max Greenberg, August 15, 2012 (Media Matters)

    “Scientists say that human-induced climate change made this year's record heat more likely, and project that extreme heat will become more common in the United States. But a Media Matters analysis of media coverage of record-breaking heat in July finds that major television outlets rarely made the connection between heat waves and a changing climate…Only 14% Of Heat Wave Stories Mentioned Climate Change…”

    CNN And ABC Stand Out In Their Incomplete Coverage…Fox Mentioned Climate Change Once, Only To Dismiss It…Quality Of Heat Wave Coverage Varied Among Major Papers…Only 6% of television segments and 12% of print articles noted that climate change is fueled by human activities including the burning of fossil fuels, which emit greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. The Associated Press, USA Today, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal never made that connection…”


    BOEM Moves R.I. Offshore Wind Transmission Project Forward

    10 August 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued a decision of no competitive interest for the construction of a transmission system between the Rhode Island coastline and Block Island - an important step in evaluating the transmission project proposed by Deepwater Wind that would deliver power from its proposed five-turbine, 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm.

    “BOEM received an application from Deepwater Wind requesting a right-of-way grant for an eight-nautical-mile-long, 200-foot-wide corridor in federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to connect the proposed offshore wind farm - to be located in Rhode Island state waters approximately 2.5 nautical miles southeast of Block Island - to the Rhode Island mainland.”

    “The proposed offshore transmission connection would also transmit power from the existing onshore transmission grid to Block Island. Deepwater Wind estimates that the proposed wind farm will generate over 100 GWh annually, supplying the majority of Block Island’s electricity needs…

    “Before reviewing the OCS right-of-way application, BOEM had to determine whether there were other developers interested in constructing transmission facilities in the same area…[It] also solicited public comment on site conditions and multiple uses within the right-of-way grant area…[BOEM will now lead a study of] potential environmental effects of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act…”


    Community Solar Bill Advances In California

    17 August 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The California State Assembly's key fiscal committee…[approved] S.B.843, which would create a program to provide customers of the state's major utilities the opportunity to buy clean energy produced by a shared community renewable energy system and receive credit on their utility bills for their portion of the power generated.

    “The community solar bill, introduced by State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, now awaits a hearing by the full assembly.”

    [Wolk:] "This legislation provides access to clean, renewable energy to the three out of four energy customers in California who are currently unable to generate their own on-site power from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources…It gives Californians the opportunity to save on their energy bill, and encourages more investment and creates local jobs in an important sector of our state's economy, all without spending any state funds."

    “…[According to Economic and Job Creation Benefits of California SB 843: Community Based Renewable Energy Self Generation Program from VoteSolar] S.B.843 would deploy 2 GW of new renewable energy capacity and approximately double the amount of rooftop solar currently installed in the state.”

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012


    California forecast to lead US to self-sustaining PV as dependency on incentives diminishes

    Junko Movelian, 8 August 2012 (PV Tech)

    “By 2016, the federal 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the nation’s largest ratepayer funded program, will have expired…Can the US PV industry be weaned off government subsidies and therefore become self-sustaining?...The US PV market has experienced steady growth through diversified and innovative policies and regulations...[which has made it] less vulnerable, and less dependent, on a single national incentive program…[It] has avoided some of the boom-and-bust PV demand cycles seen recently in European countries such as Spain and the Czech Republic…[dependent on] a feed-in tariff (FiT) type program]…

    “…[California] represented 63% of the national market (140MW)...[when] the CSI was initiated in 2006…[It had] a 10-year commitment not only to install 3GW of distributed solar generation capacity across the state, but also to drive down the cost of solar generated power and establish a self-sufficient solar industry…[I]ncentive levels are automatically reduced over the duration of the program in ten steps, based on the market demand (MW volume of confirmed reservations issues)…creating predictability and stability…”

    “…[I]ncentive levels have been coming down as the market has grown and installed system cost has come down…There is a 93% correlation between installed system cost and rebate amount; as the system installed cost is lowered, so does the incentive level…By the end of Q2’12, the CSI had supported 980 MW-DC of installed capacity…While there is a distinct possibility that the program will end before 2016, California is however already preparing to exist without any state-level incentives…

    “…[S]hort-term programs may now create market expansion, followed mainly by market regression…[T]he US PV market has…experienced two setbacks…The 30% ITC became available originally in 2006…During 2008, the industry was left waiting nervously, not knowing whether the ITC would be extended. This caused a surge in PV installations. In December 2008, the government extended the ITC for 8 years…[and] the market growth then slowed…Similarly, the recent expiry of the Federal Cash Grant caused a surge in installations at the end of 2011, in order to qualify for the grant in time. It is anticipated that the market in 2012 will see considerably slower growth…”


    Walmart Erects Its First Megawatt Wind Turbine In California

    Todd Woody, August 6, 2012 (Forbes)

    “As Walmart installed solar panels on its 100th California store in San Diego last week, a 265-foot-high wind turbine was rising outside one of the retail giant’s distribution centers in the rural reaches of the Golden State…The 1-megawatt, General Electric turbine in Red Bluff is Walmart’s first such installation and the next stage in the company’s efforts to eventually obtain 100% of its energy from renewable sources…[with multiple tools] and renewable energy at a lot of different levels…

    “The company has installed micro-turbines atop light poles at stores in California and Massachusetts that generate between 2 to 3 kilowatts of electricity but Red Bluff is the first facility that will boast a full-sized wind turbine like those found on wind farms that generate hundreds of megawatts of power.”

    “The GE wind turbine is expected to supply between 15% and 20% of the Red Bluff distribution’s electricity demand. As with Walmart’s solar installations, the retailer won’t own the turbine. In this case, Walmart will buy the electricity it generates under a 15-year power purchase agreement with Foundation Windpower, a Silicon Valley company that installs large turbines for businesses…

    “Walmart operates more than 100 distribution centers across the U.S. and the company is looking at the suitability of the sites for wind power…[but] don’t expect to see giant wind turbines go up at your local Walmart. Besides the inevitable headaches that would come from trying to obtain permits to install a 25-story machine with blades that stretch 250 feet, such a turbine would generate more electricity than a typical store needs…”


    USDA Backs Smart Grid Efforts In Rural America

    10 August 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “To further improve electric lines and transmission and reduce peak electric loads by deploying smart grid technologies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack has issued loan guarantees to rural electric utilities across the country.

    “…Crewe, Va.-based Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC), one of the recipients… is using funds to build and improve a distribution line and transmission line, and will invest almost $7.4 million for smart grid system enhancements…[S]ervice will be upgraded for about 1,500 SEC members…”

    “With this funding, USDA Rural Development moves closer to reaching Secretary Vilsack's goal to fund more than $250 million for smart grid technologies…

    “…This most recent announcement includes support for nearly $29 million in [rural] smart grid projects…[in] Idaho… Oregon… Washington… Indiana… Kansas… Kentucky… Minnesota… Mississippi… North Carolina… New York… Oklahoma… South Carolina… South Dakota… Iowa… Montana… North Dakota… Texas… [and] Virginia…”

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012


    Sierra Club: Clean energy 'under siege'

    August 3, 2012 (UPI)

    “The U.S. clean energy market is ‘under siege’ at the federal and state levels by ‘powerful, free-spending’ opponents…[according to the Sierra Club’s] Clean Energy Under Siege: Following the Money Trail Behind the Attack on Renewable Energy...

    “…[The report said] wind energy production has doubled since 2009 and the wind industry is ‘on track to produce 20 percent of America's electricity by 2030.’…[C]osts of generating solar energy are coming down and sales of electric cars have grown 164 percent since June 2011…That level of growth and success has made renewable energy more of a force to be reckoned with in energy markets…[and] drawn competitive attacks from oil, coal, and gas…[R]enewable energy is favored by large majorities of the public but.’the political spending power of the traditional energy industries is unrivaled.’”

    “…[The] siege at the congressional level…[is exemplified by] congressional investigations into a government-backed loan to the solar panel maker Solyndra…[The] siege at the state level…[is] through the efforts of the American Legislative Exchange Council on behalf of oil, coal and gas industry interests, and ‘well-funded fossil-fuel advocacy groups [that] masquerade as think tanks.’

    “…[The siege is] by some of the most powerful, free-spending entities in the nation…[R]eports by the campaign finance tracking group Open Secrets…[show] oil and gas spent more than $146 million on lobbying in 2011, and ‘campaign expenditures by Koch family entities Koch Industries and Oxbow Corp. place them in two of the top three campaign spending slots for 2011-2012.’ …[O]il and gas industry interests contributed to the campaigns of 88 percent of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and 89 of 100 U.S. senators, during the 2010 election cycle…Republicans [got] 86 percent of all oil and gas donations.”


    SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership

    August 9, 2012 (The Solar Foundation)

    “Through the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (OP), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) works to remove solar market barriers and encourage the development of a sustainable solar infrastructure by residents and businesses in local communities…

    “The Solar Foundation [TSF] works with DOE and a number of other organizations to provide technical expertise to local governments that are interested in implementing solar programs and policies…”

    “TSF and our partners…[provide] local governments…with tools and…[empowers them] to take informed action to build and expand their local solar markets…[with] a comprehensive, holistic approach rather than think project-by-project…

    “SunShot Solar OPs teams provide information in many relevant areas, including solar policies and regulations, financial incentives, workforce training, and best practices for engaging utilities and members of the community…[through] national newsletters…peer-to-peer information sharing…[and] one-on-one workshops…[based on] Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments…”


    Submarine Electricity Transmission; HVDC and HVAC Submarine Power Cables: Supply Constraints, Demand Drivers, Technology Issues, Prominent Projects, Key Industry Players, and Global Market Forecasts

    3Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “…Demand for submarine cables is growing steadily as national governments and regional organizations pledge their efforts to expanding offshore renewable power generation, linking remote land masses, and interconnecting their national grids. These projects often involve subsea connections or power generation that is found in offshore wind farms. As cable technology advances, more projects are proposed that require longer, deeper, and higher-capacity cables.

    “…[Purchasers and developers have proposed installing an additional 6,800 km of high-voltage submarine cables in almost 70 new projects around the world between 2012 and 2016. This is 3,200 km more than what was constructed during the previous 5-year period. This growth will be impossible to realize using only the current, already strained, channels of supply]…”

    “…Pike Research’s analysis finds that the supply chain will not be capable of meeting the full demand in this growing market. While there are very few companies that are capable of performing each step in the installation process, from surveying to final installation, the tightest bottleneck in this already constrained supply chain is the cable manufacturers…

    “[Cable deployments are trending toward HVDC technology because of advancements in HVDC cables and equipment, while allowing the cables to handle longer distances, higher voltages, and deeper routes than the HVAC cables.]…Only a handful of companies are capable of building the complex cables that are required…[To meet the demand] cable manufacturers will need to increase their production significantly. While some projects will likely encounter delays due to the limited supply chain, additional market players and increased capacity by existing suppliers will help the industry begin to catch up…”

    Monday, August 13, 2012


    Wind Hits 50 Gigawatts in the US; Harry Reid (D-NV), Department of the Interior, AWAEA tout wind capacity milestone, renewables advances at Clean Energy Summit

    Herman K. Trabish, August 8, 2012 Greentech Media)

    “…U.S. wind’s installed capacity [has] reached 50,000 megawatts…[representing] the generating power of 44 coal plants or eleven nuclear plants…Fifty megawatts of wind can power almost 13 million American homes, conserve an estimated 30 billion gallons of water compared to thermal generation, and avoid as much carbon dioxide as taking 14 million cars off the road…

    “…Nevada’s first wind installation on public land, Pattern Energy’s 151.8 megawatt Spring Valley Wind Project…was one of the 2012 installations that took the U.S. wind industry past the 50 gigawatt milepost…[Others were] Enel Green Power North America’s 148.8-megawatt Rocky Ridge project in Oklahoma, Utah Associated Municipal Power’s 57.6-megawatt Horse Butte project in Idaho and First Wind’s Kaheawa Wind II project in Hawaii…[65 percent of the Spring Valley project’s turbines were] domestically manufactured…”

    “…[The wind industy] built 5,000 megawatts in its first twenty-three years but leapt in capacity to ten gigawatts when its production tax credit (PTC), which expires at the end of 2012, was kept in place from 2003 to 2006. Wind then grew to 25 gigawatts by 2008 and doubled in the last four years…But with the failure of Congress to extend the PTC into 2013…layoffs have begun and wind supply chain facilities are shifting to serve other industries.

    “Because of the twelve-month to eighteen-month lead time for the building of a wind project, industry watchers and analysts expect the coming year to see a plunge in installations even if, as [insiders predict], the Senate finally extends the PTC before the end of this year…”


    The Evolving Solar PV Landscape: The Changes That Lie Ahead

    Christine Beadle, 2 August 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “…During 2011, installed PV capacity reached the 2 GW level, with 880 MW allocated to the commercial sector and 760 MW to the utility segment…[despite challenges]…Over the next few years, utility-scale PV installations in the U.S. are set to grow substantially…[O]ver 24 GW of these projects are currently in the planning stages…

    “It is likely that federal and state policies will ultimately dictate which locations are targeted most by PV developers. Although every state in the U.S. now boasts some level of commercial or utility PV capacity, California and New Jersey continue to dominate PV projects installed in the U.S…[but] over the period from 2010 to 2015…California’s share may decline to below 30%.”

    “Another interesting trend is that nearly 30% of all planned or installed PV projects in the U.S. now fall into the 1 MW to 5 MW category. In North Carolina, the PV landscape has been changing recently from PV installations at the 1 MW level to include several larger planned projects at the 5 MW level…[although] megawatt-scale PV…installations have recently been met with opposition from the general public, local councils or environmental groups…

    “PV market segmentation remains highly diverse across the U.S…Although ground-mounted PV installations hold most of the capacity in the U.S, rooftop installations still account for almost half of the planned or installed U.S. PV projects…Large retailers are making significant commitments…[and] in areas where suitable locations for PV projects may be more difficult to find, new options are appearing…[such as] floating PV arrays…portable arrays…Building-integrated options…[and those on] capped landfills…”


    White House to seek $7B in green energy contracts for military

    Zack Colman, August 7, 2012

    “The White House…is inviting contract proposals from green energy firms to boost the Army’s use of renewable energy…[$7 billion will go to] the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend on locally-generated biomass, geothermal, solar or wind energy for up to 30 years…[The] White House-led push to green the armed forces [comes] over GOP opposition, which claims the efforts are a waste of taxpayer dollars.

    “The Defense Department has set ambitious targets, aiming for renewable sources to account for 25 percent of its energy by 2025, with the Army working toward getting 1 gigawatt of power from green sources by that year…Heather Zichal, the White House deputy assistant for energy and climate change…said alternative energy will reduce costs and enhance national security.”

    “Republicans, however, have pressed the White House and military to abandon some alternative energy programs. They say the efforts cost too much with budget sequestration threatening to slash the defense budget by $492 billion over 10 years…[Zichal] said the president was fully behind the push and believed the military’s turn toward alternative energy was “operationally necessary, financially prudent and mission critical.”

    “…[The Navy recently demonstrated] its “Great Green Fleet” aircraft carrier strike group…[which] tested a fuel that combined a $26-per-gallon biofuel with conventional petroleum…[T]he Army, along with the Interior Department, announced it would integrate green energy electricity sources such as wind and solar at military installations…”

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012


    Senate Committee Passes One-Year PTC, ITC Provisions

    3 August 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “The U.S. Senate Finance Committee passed a $205 billion tax extender package as part of the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 that includes a one-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC)…"

    “…[The bipartisan] tax extenders legislation includes tax cuts for small businesses, working families, research and development and renewable energy…Notably, the PTC and ITC provisions are for wind projects started in 2013…

    “Republicans had reportedly withdrawn the wind energy PTC as a show of loyalty to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who came out against the incentive…[I]n support of the wind PTC were Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., John F. Kerry, D-Mass., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D."

    “The tax package passed the committee, 19-5, with the most conservative members voting against it. The extenders package measure is likely to be a top priority when the Senate returns in September…Although some are withholding judgment as to the bill's prospects - it still needs to pass the House - the news was welcomed by industry advocates…”


    ARPA-E Awards Funds For Grid Reliability, Energy-Storage Projects

    3 August 2012 (Renew Grid)

    "Several projects designed to help improve the efficiency and reliability of the electrical grid and advanced electric vehicle (EV) technology will receive $43 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

    These projects are supported through two new ARPA-E programs: Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices (AMPED) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)…"

    "Twelve research projects have received $30 million in funding under the AMPED program, which aims to develop advanced sensing and control technologies that could provide new innovations in safety and performance for grid-scale and vehicle batteries. AMPED is focused on maximizing the potential of existing battery chemistries.

    "ARPA-E has also awarded a total of $13 million for seven projects to enterprising small businesses to pursue energy-storage developments for stationary power and EVs. The goal of these projects is to develop new battery chemistries and battery designs, according to the DOE."


    Borrego Solar Creates $64.4 Million Solar Project Fund Backed By Two Large Banks

    31 July 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., a designer, installer and financier of grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems, has closed a new $64.4 million fund to finance solar energy projects for corporate, education and municipal customers.”

    “Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank and Washington, D.C.-based National Cooperative Bank (NCB) invested in the new fund, which is Borrego Solar's largest since 2009 and brings its total amount of capital raised to over $225 million…[T]he fund will be used to build more than 18 MW of solar energy systems, totaling eight projects, including four municipal landfill installations and one school district…”

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012


    Growing Number of Sub-500 kW PV Projects Provides US Job Creation and Cost Reductions; Encouraged by incentives and power requirements, agricultural land in the US is being converted to renewable PV energy

    July 23, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “While large-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar projects often grab the headlines, the recently-released NPD Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker report indicates that 40% of PV projects currently underway in the United States are less than 500 kW in size…[C]ommercial PV projects between 50 kW and 500 kW…are often overlooked as opportunities for downstream PV suppliers and installers…[M]ore than 1,300 projects fall into this category with a cumulative PV generation of up to 200 MW.

    “Smaller PV installations often have a greater impact on communities than larger ones…[Besides the] supply of electricity…[they] cost less to install, are easier to gain permit approval, and have fewer barriers for project financing. And these projects are often installed at no cost to [hosts such as schools], municipal buildings, zoos, hospitals, and even retail stores…40% of all mid-size commercial installations in the United States (planned, under construction, or completed since January 2010) are these smaller projects…1,756 US solar projects had been completed, 338 were being installed, 13 were delayed, and another 1,174 are at the planning stage.”

    “California currently accounts for over a quarter of the total US project pipeline, stimulated by the state’s aggressive 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard target, and benefiting from the recent trend of solar projects reallocated from concentrated solar power to PV. The top six state pipelines in megawatt terms are California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii…

    “Land in the United States that had previously been used for agricultural purposes is now tending to be sacrificed to renewable energy when this presents a more profitable financial option, often encouraged by incentives or power requirements…[C]olleges have recently started using sheep to maintain the grass under PV arrays, and a test market is currently being constructed in North Carolina for a 4 MW installation to be used as a sheep and lamb farm and monitored for herd management. To date, this may be the most viable approach to utilizing agricultural land for energy production, creating a “win-win” for all involved…”


    New England Takes Step Toward Clean Energy Revolution

    Angela Beniwal, 1 August 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “Governors from the six New England states have [unanimously] decided to move forward with a process to jointly procure renewable energy in the near future…The states plan to release a joint request for proposals (RFP) in 2013…The New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) will be in charge of developing and implementing a plan…

    “In 2009, the New England governors adopted the New England Governors' Renewable Energy Blueprint, which includes technical analysis from ISO New England (ISO-NE) that identifies significant renewable resources in the area…[A] request for information (RFI) issued by NESCOE in 2011 that resulted in over 4 GW of generation and transmission proposals…”

    “The RFP is expected to be technology agnostic; however, the New England region has quite a bit of wind energy potential…The 2010 New England Wind Integration Study from ISO-NE found that up to 12 GW of onshore and offshore wind could be developed in the region, potentially meeting up to 24% of the region's annual electricity needs. The study estimated that adding 12 GW of wind power and building new transmission lines would cost between $19 billion to $25 billion…[ISO-NE] supports this collaboration…

    “A status report on the RFI from NESCOE stated that transmission projects in various stages of development had been identified and could possibly facilitate the delivery of the additional renewable energy…[E]conomies of scale and utilizing market forces to help reduce the delivered cost of renewables are some of the benefits of procuring energy as group…[T]he states in New England are not large enough to warrant big renewable generation and transmission investments by themselves…”


    Attitudes toward Wind Power in Iowa

    July 30, 2012 (Public Opinion Strategies)

    “…[Poll findings that have grown in intensity over the years…[show] an overwhelming majority of Iowa voters see wind energy as an important part of the state's economy…an important resource for creating jobs…[and] say that a candidate's position on developing domestic wind may influence their vote for President or Member of Congress. An overwhelming majority of Iowa voters would be less likely to support an anti-wind candidate for office…

    “…More than half of voters (57%), including 41% of Republicans and 59% of Independents, would be less likely to vote for a candidate for President if that candidate did not support expanding American wind power generation…Sixty three percent (63%) of Iowa voters, including over 51% of Republicans, and 68% percent of Independents, would be less likely to vote for a Congressional candidate who did not support expanding wind power…”

    “…A strong majority of Iowans (63%) think that America’s energy needs can be met by renewable energy, and 48% of Iowa voters prefer that the state rely on wind energy to meet future energy needs…A plurality (46%) of Republicans think that America’s energy needs can be met by renewable energy, along with 69% of Independents, and 75% of Democrats…Wind energy is the number one choice future energy sources in each of the state’s new Congressional districts, favored by 55% of CD 4 voters, 49% of CD 3 voters, 48% of CD 2 voters and 39% of CD 1 voters…

    “Eighty five percent (85%) of Iowans believe that wind energy has been good for the state’s economy, and 83 percent believe that it has helped bring new jobs to the state…Seventy five percent (75%) of Republicans and 87 percent of Independents think wind energy has been good for the state’s economy…Seventy three percent (73%) percent of Republicans and 88 percent of Independents believe that wind energy has helped bring new jobs to the state…”

    Monday, August 6, 2012


    Suntech Shareholders Launching Investigation Into Potential Fraud

    31 July 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “After Suntech's announcement…that it may have been the victim of fraud, a law firm now says it is investigating potential claims against the company concerning possible violations of federal securities laws.

    “The investigation, led by the Law Offices of Howard G. Smith, focuses on allegations that certain statements issued by the company between August 18, 2010 and July 30, 2012, regarding Suntech's business, operations and financial condition were false and misleading.”

    “…[T]he investigation relates to Suntech's July 30, 2012, disclosure that the company is conducting an investigation into a security interest it received in connection with its investment in Global Solar Fund SCA., Sicar.

    "…[T]he security interest - totaling 560 million euros - may not actually exist…Suntech's stock declined $0.23 per share, or 14.65%, to close on July 30 at $1.34 per share, on unusually heavy volume…”


    Fuel Cells Annual Report 2012; Market Development for Fuel Cells in the Stationary, Portable, and Transport Sectors

    Kerry-Ann Adamson and Lisa Jerram, 3Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “…The fuel cell industry saw shipments break the 20,000 barrier for the first time in 2011 thanks to a 2009 to 2011 compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 83%. However, this aggregate figure hides the fact that the fuel cell industry has continued to exhibit a growth/contraction pattern…During 2011, for example, system shipments in the portable fuel cell sector contracted by 16% on a year-over-year basis. In the process, the sector lost a large number of companies.

    “The stationary sector posted the highest growth in 2011, primarily driven by the surge of interest in residential combined heat and power (resCHP) systems in Japan following the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, companies such as FuelCell Energy ramped up production. As a result, system shipments in the global stationary sector in 2011 grew by 75% over 2010 and posted a 2009 to 2011 CAGR of 63%.”

    “…[G]rowth was countered somewhat by a dip in the number of megawatts shipped. In 2011, California shifted its subsidies from a capital expenditures (CAPEX) system to a performance-based system…[and shipments declined] due to the time required for recertification of their systems…The impact of shifting that policy – in one state, in one country – on the global picture does highlight that the fuel cell industry is still far from robust…

    “Looking out to 2017, Pike Research forecasts that the fuel cell industry, including all applications in the stationary, portable, and transport sectors, will reach $15.7 billion. Due to a jump in orders in 1Q 2012, the industry is on target to surpass the billion-dollar mark by the end of 2012. The period 2014/2015 remains critical in terms of transitioning from a niche industry to starting to move into the mainstream…[A]ll commercially available electrolytes saw shipments in 2011. Yet, only solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) posted growth…”


    AMSC Reports First Quarter Financial Results; Company Exceeds Financial Guidance and Posts Solid Year-Over-Year Growth

    August 2, 2012 (Globe Newswire via AMSC)

    “…[Wind and grid solutions provider AMSC (Nasdaq:AMSC)] reported financial results for its first quarter of fiscal year 2012 ended June 30, 2012…Revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 2012 were $28.7 million, which compares with $9.1 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2011. The year-over-year increase was driven by strong growth in the company's Wind and Grid reporting segments.

    “For the first quarter of fiscal 2012, AMSC reported a net loss of $10.3 million, or $0.20 per share. This figure includes a noncash benefit of approximately $7.3 million for the settlement of adverse purchase commitments with certain vendors as well as a $2.4 million non-cash "mark-to-market" charge driven by the re-valuation of the derivative liability and warrants associated with the company's recently completed debt financings. For the first quarter of fiscal 2011, AMSC's net loss was $37.7 million, or $0.74 per share…”

    “AMSC's cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities and restricted cash at June 30, 2012 totaled $87.1 million. This compares with $66.2 million as of March 31, 2012. The increase in cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities and restricted cash was driven by the financings that were completed and announced in the first quarter of fiscal 2012…The company's total backlog as of June 30, 2012 was approximately $269 million. This compares with approximately $291 million as of March 31, 2012 and $225 million as of June 30, 2011…

    “For the quarter ending September 30, 2012, AMSC expects that its revenues will exceed $20 million. AMSC expects that its net loss for the second quarter of fiscal 2012 will be less than $22 million, or $0.43 per share. This guidance assumes no impact from mark-to-market adjustments related to the derivative liability and warrants…AMSC estimates that it will have more than $70 million in cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities and restricted cash on September 30, 2012…”

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012


    FEDS MOVE AHEAD ON ATLANTIC OFFSHORE WIND Offshore wind farms will be encouraged in tracts along the East Coast

    Peter Brannen, July 23, 2012 (Washington Post)

    “The federal government is poised to auction to wind farm developers 2,434 square miles of the continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean, which would allow wind farms to sprout 10 miles off the shores of six states, from Massachusetts to Virginia…Extensive efforts are underway to avoid the fiasco of the first proposed offshore wind farm in U.S. waters. That 24-square mile project off the coast of Cape Cod unleashed a fierce, decade-long battle that still lingers in the courts. Although Europe has had offshore wind farms for many years, the United States remains without even one…

    “The plan to auction leases to offshore wind farm developers represents an enormous commitment to a potentially vast new industry…Wind turbines in the Atlantic alone could generate more than 1,000 gigawatts of power, an amount equal to the country’s current total energy-generating capacity…”

    “The area to be leased [before the end of this year by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) of the Interior Department]is about the size of Delaware… 125 square miles off the coast of Maryland, 161 square miles off Delaware…[and] 176 square miles off Virginia…[plus acres] off the coast of New Jersey and Rhode Island…[and 1,161 square miles] off Massachusetts]…

    “…[A]s the federal government tries to jump-start a homegrown, renewable energy source, it is anticipating and trying to address in advance every possible objection…including spoiled views and potential hazards to birds, marine life and underwater archaeological sites…In addition to incorporating lessons learned with Cape Wind, the agency is grappling with the legacy of a poorly situated land-based wind farm in California that has killed thousands of raptors, souring some environmentalists on wind power…BOEM is also taking pains to protect man-made resources…”


    Smart Grid Plagued By Anemic Venture-Capital Investment

    25 July 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “Smart grid venture-capital (VC) funding remained weak in the second quarter of this year (Q2'12), totaling only $66 million in nine deals, according to a new report fromMercom Capital Group LLC. …The research firm blames changing business models and customer concerns over smart grid technology…

    “Funding levels have remained flat over the last three quarters: $66 million in 10 deals for the fourth quarter of 2011 and $62 million in 10 deals for the first quarter of this year (Q1'12). The average deal size in Q2'12 was $7.3 million, compared to $6.2 million in Q1'12.”

    “The top five deals for Q2'12 accounted for 89% of the total $66 million that was raised…Deals in the U.S. accounted for half of the total VC funding raised - with $32.4 million in five deals - followed by Germany, the U.K. and Israel…Twenty-two different investors participated in nine VC deals in Q2'12, but only Siemens was involved in multiple deals (two). There were eight investors in Q1'12.

    “Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in Q2'12 totaled $14 billion in seven transactions…Top acquirers with multiple deals this year include Eaton (which acquired Cooper Industries and Gycom), Siemens (Senergy Sistemas de Medicao and RuggedCom) and Itron (SmartSynch and C&N Engineering)…Smart grid communication technology companies received the most funding as a technology group, followed by grid optimization, advance meter infrastructure and demand response companies.”


    DOE SunShot Initiative Awards $3.8 Million For Concentrating Solar Combustor Research

    27 July 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and industry collaborators Solar Turbines Inc., Oak Ridge National Laboratories, German Aerospace Center and San Diego State University have been awarded a $3.8 million contract by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a gas turbine combustor for a concentrating solar power (CSP) hybrid gas turbine system. The award was given through DOE's SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of energy.

    “The majority of today's commercial CSP plants generate steam to support steam turbine electric power generation. The steam generated by these commercial CSP plants is limited to a maximum temperature of 400 degrees C, yielding approximately 40% thermal efficiencies, according to SwRI. Even for developmental CSP technologies, efficiencies are well below those achievable with gas turbine combined-cycle plants, which can be well above 55% thermal efficiencies and as high as 62% for state-of-the-art combined-cycle power plants.”

    “This research project aims to combine the advantages of highly efficient gas turbine power plants with CSP systems by operating the gas turbine at up to 1,000 degrees C combustor air inlet temperatures.

    “The project, to be conducted in three phases, is expected to begin in August and will continue through 2015. In the first phase, researchers will evaluate combustor concepts and develop the design. The second phase entails fabrication of the combustion system, which will then be tested in the third phase.”