NewEnergyNews More: October 2012

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  • Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Beautifully stated.

    Monday, October 22, 2012


    Success of tax credit and new more affordable U.S.-built technology helping drive strongest year yet for U.S. wind energy

    October 18, 2012 (American Wind Energy Association)

    “The success of the federal Production Tax Credit and wind energy’s increased affordability are helping drive turbine installations to record levels in America…[according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Q3 report]...The U.S. wind industry in August for the first time surpassed 50,000 megawatts (MW) of total installed electrical generation capacity…[and] has added 4,728 MW of wind power so far this year…with another 8,430 MW currently under construction.

    “Factors for the strong year…[include, 1] Greatly expanded U.S. manufacturing, which now makes up to nearly 70 percent of the value of U.S.-installed equipment, cutting transportation costs…[2] Technological advances, such as higher towers and longer blades, which make turbines more efficient and further drive down costs…[3] The fact that more electric utilities are locking in 20- to 25-year contracts for lower-priced wind power, to the benefit of their consumers…[and, 4] The federal Production Tax Credit for renewable energy, which has been kept continuously in place since 2005 and currently extends to the end of the year…”

    “The PTC incentivizes over $15 billion a year in private [wind] investment…[but expires] Dec. 31. A proposal to extend the tax credit for projects that start construction next year won bipartisan support from the Senate Finance Committee on Aug. 2, as part of an overall ‘tax extenders’ package. It now awaits action by the full Congress, expected in its lame duck session after the election…Navigant Consulting has forecast [37,000 jobs lost] if the PTC is not extended. Thousands of layoffs have already begun in wind energy measurement, development, and U.S. manufacturing, even as the construction sector remains busy…

    “The third quarter saw 1,833 MW of new installations, putting total U.S. wind capacity at 51,628 MW on Oct. 1. Over 40,000 wind turbines across the U.S. [now produce electricity]…The year-to-date total stood at 4,728 MW at the end of the quarter, up 40 percent from the same point in 2011. The average turbine size installed throughout the year continues to hover around 2.0 MW…Over 80 percent of the new capacity coming online or under construction is covered by a long-term power offtake agreement [involving 68 utilities], either through a power purchase agreement between a utility and a wind developer, or through direct utility ownership…”


    The Solar Industry’s Living Dead: 180 Module Manufacturers to Succumb to Consolidation by 2015; What does the future hold for struggling U.S., European, and Asian manufacturers, as well as China’s solar zombies?

    October 16, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    “With GTM Research estimating global PV supply to be in excess of demand by an average of 35 gigawatts per year over the next three years, 180 existing module manufacturers will either expire or acquiesce to acquisition by 2015. The largest number (88) of casualties will exit high-cost manufacturing markets in the U.S., Europe, and Canada."

    “…[ Global PV Module Manufacturing 2013: Competitive Positioning, Consolidation and the China Factor analyzes] more than 300 module manufacturers, their global facilities, business models, financial health and chance of acquisition or expiry. The report also examines the market conditions and competitive metrics that will affect the trajectory of these firms over the next three years, including global demand, manufacturing costs, the influence of Chinese lenders, and the innovative upstream and downstream strategies that will buoy business lines…[It also considers Chinese module manufacturers’ strategies] in the face of U.S. and potentially European import tariffs…

    “The report estimates that 54 of the 180 ill-fated firms will come from China. Most of these are so-called ‘solar zombies,’ companies with manufacturing capacities less than 300 megawatts that have operated uncompetitively with support from the government. China’s number of ill-fated firms could be much higher if not for an aggressive downstream build-out that will prop up select domestic suppliers. China’s recent announcement to increase its cumulative 2015 solar target from 15 gigawatts to 21 gigawatts will most likely provide captive demand for firms such as Alex Solar, LDK Solar, and Astronergy."

    “In addition, as evidenced by the municipal loan to LDK Solar in July 2012 and the China Development Bank’s renewal of its pledge to support twelve selected domestic suppliers, GTM Research anticipates that the Chinese government will continue to provide financial support to established firms with large workforces in order to cover near-term debt obligations, or possibly to encourage diversified Chinese industrial conglomerates to acquire these companies. Potential beneficiaries of these strategies include Trina Solar, Yingli Green Energy, Suntech Power, JA Solar, Jinko Solar and Renesola; these companies make up more than 20 percent of existing global module capacity.”


    Green Your Halloween

    Nina Ford, October 2012 (Green America)

    “When Corey Colwell-Lipson took her two daughters trick-or-treating in 2006…she noticed that the girls were excited whenever they had an opportunity to collect treats that weren’t conventional candy…That was the beginning of Colwell- Lipson’s quest to “green” Halloween…Today, Green Halloween® has evolved into a national movement…[Over 5,000 people participate in the World Financial Center’s annual Screamin’ Green Halloween in New York City and over 100 zoos and aquariums across the US have expressed interest]…

    “Colwell-Lipson started Green Halloween in part because of what she calls “the health epidemic and declining well-being of our children” caused by poor eating habits. One out of every three children is overweight, and the same number is expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…This Halloween, Colwell-Lipson encourages families to give out healthier treats and non-food “treasures” to trick-or-treaters…”

    “Whenever Colwell-Lipson attends Green Halloween events, she brings a poster board about [recycled, natural, or sustainably sourced] alternatives to candy, from polished stones and seashells to temporary tattoos and friendship bracelets—with surprising results…For those who want to give out more traditional treats, there are many organic and all natural options—from organic and Fair Trade chocolate [without child labor ties] to sustainable chewing gum…

    “…[T]he six billion-dollar-a-year holiday leaves room to cut back. Families can save by giving out one or two healthy treats instead of handfuls of candy…[For the] 41 million children [that] go trick-or-treating nationwide…Green Halloween has spearheaded National Costume Swap Day since 2010…[Because] six out of the ten products…[contain] at least one of the toxic heavy metals…Terra Firma Cosmetics offers natural, lead-free face paint…Pink Quartz Minerals, featured on, has handmade, vegan face paint…[or] create homemade face paint from food-grade ingredients…”

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012


    Obama Administration Releases Utility-Scale Solar Development Roadmap

    15 October 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “…[The Department of Interior (DOI)] finalized Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development… intended to spur development of solar energy on public lands… provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah by establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those zones and a process through which to consider additional zones and solar projects.

    “…[DOI] established an initial set of 17 Solar Energy Zones (SEZs), totaling about 285,000 acres of public lands, that will serve as priority areas for solar development, with the potential for additional zones through ongoing and future regional planning processes. If fully built out, projects in the designated areas could produce as much as 23,700 MW of solar energy…”

    “The program also keeps the door open, on a case-by-case basis, for the possibility of carefully sited solar projects outside SEZs on about 19 million acres in ‘variance’ areas…[and] includes a framework for regional mitigation plans…[T]o protect key natural and cultural resources, the program excludes a little under 79 million acres that would be inappropriate for solar development based on currently available information.

    “The Solar Energy Industries Association and Large-Scale Solar Association (LSA) praised the DOI for completing the PEIS and encouraged the DOI and other relevant agencies to continue to advance solar projects in the permitting process…”


    Wind cheaper than gas, says E&Y

    Michael McGovern, 15 October 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    “The net cost of European wind power is up to 50% lower than that of its main conventional power rival, combined cycle gas (CCGT), according to [Analysis of the value creation potential of wind energy policies; A comparative study of the macroeconomic benefits of wind and CCGT power generation] by financial group Ernst & Young (E&Y).

    “In Spain, the costs required to produce 1MWh will generate EUR56 of gross added value from wind, as opposed to EUR16 from CCGT…Across the six European focus countries (Spain, UK, France, Germany, Portugal and Poland), wind's net cost is competitive and, extrapolated across the UE26, cheaper.”

    “By factoring in returns to GDP, like jobs and local taxes, E&Y's analysis challenges the power sector's levelised cost of energy (LCOE) standard, which always places wind costs higher, mainly due to upfront costs.

    “Gas is costlier in countries dependent on imports. But even in gas producing UK, E&Y places wind's net cost only slightly above gas, at EUR35/MWh against EUR31/MWh, respectively.”


    Kansas City Power & Light Tries Out New Energy Storage System

    15 October 2012 (Renew Grid)

    "Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L), MRIGlobal and Exergonix Inc…[are testing] a new smart grid energy storage…nano-battery cell developed by Exergonix…

    "…The 1 MW battery is in its first live smart grid test and was installed this summer at the KCP&L SmartGrid Innovation Park near 48th Street and Troost Avenue. The battery will support KCP&L's SmartGrid Demonstration Area."

    "With the installation, KCP&L is testing the battery system's effectiveness for managing energy on the electric grid. The battery stores solar energy produced in the Demonstration Area and is used to support energy delivery during peak demand times of the day.

    "MRIGlobal, a research and development organization headquartered in Kansas City, will support the trial by conducting independent tests and analysis…[of the battery’s] environmental and economic performance, as well as the technical operations, durability and reliability of the system…"

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012


    North Carolina’s clean energy sector continues to grow: 15,200+ FTE jobs, $3.7 Billion in revenue; “At a crossroads,” despite on-going jobs and revenue growth, clean energy business leaders cite uncertainty and other barriers that are limiting further growth.

    Rich Crowley and Julie Robinson, October 10, 2012 (NC Sustainable Energy Association)

    “North Carolina’s…unemployment rate [remains] above the national rate…[but] several sectors, including clean energy, are hiring employees, expanding their businesses, and pumping millions into local economies in every region of our state…[according to] the 2012 North Carolina Clean Energy Industries Census…[It showed] the clean energy sector holds great promise and opportunities if we [break through political polarization, policy and market uncertainty, and limited access to finance and] maintain a balance of pro-business policies and regulations.

    “Since the passage of the Southeast’s first renewable energy and energy efficiency law in 2007 (and 25th in the nation), North Carolina’s clean energy sectors – broadly categorized as renewable energy and energy efficiency – [over 200 North Carolina clean energy companies have emerged to serve the national and international markets]…The annual Census…[found] the clean energy sector…conservatively contributes over $3.7 billion in revenue and more than 15,200 full-time equivalent jobs directly…[T]he state is home to over 38,000 Energy Star homes, 2,100 energy efficient commercial buildings, and more than 3,000 planned or installed renewable energy systems.”

    “The 2012 Census shows that employment in the North Carolina clean energy sector grew for the fifth consecutive year, although at a slower [3%] pace than in past years that saw double-digit growth…[T]he projected economic forecast for North Carolina’s economy…[is] an inflation-adjusted growth rate of 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 and throughout 2013 [matching 2011 and below 2010]…Research and development [jobs]…continue to be substantial – totaling 7,700 full-time equivalent jobs in this year’s Census…

    Jobs with a focus on energy efficiency, frequently described as the “least-cost” energy resource…make up a majority of North Carolina’s clean energy sector employment at over 7,200 full-time equivalent positions statewide…Complementing the strong energy efficiency sector (i.e. business focus) are the solar, smart grid and biomass sectors, which contribute over 1,000 full-time equivalent jobs each, with additional major employment from the wind, geothermal, and energy storage sectors…”


    Offshore Compliance Recommended Practices

    October 11, 2012 (American Wind Energy Association)

    “The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Standards Development Board, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has developed a set of recommended practices for using existing standards to plan, design, construct and operate offshore wind facilities in compliance with federal and state regulations.”

    “The Recommended Practices cite four levels of existing standards – international standards, American National Standards, classification society (e.g., Germanischer Lloyd, Det Norske Veritas, and The American Bureau of Shipping) standards, and commercial standards and guidelines – to address five critical areas…[1] Structural reliability…[2] Manufacturing, qualification testing, installation, and construction…[3] Safety of equipment…[4] Operation and inspection…[and, 5] Decommissioning…”


    Principal Solar Institute Launches Industry’s First Comprehensive Solar PV Module Rating System: Creates Standards, Elevates Industry…

    October 12, 2012 (Principal Solar, Inc.)

    “The Principal Solar Institute, an online reference center and resource guide for the commercial and utility scale solar market…[has introduced] the PSI PV Module Rating…[PSI claims it is] the first-of-its kind…[and] allows easy, unbiased, comprehensive analysis and comparison of photovoltaic (PV) modules…[It was created to allow] solar consumers to make informed, intelligent comparisons and decisions…[The PSI Board includes the President of TUV Rheinland PTL, a renowned Photovoltaic Testing Laboratory [and many prominent scientists]…”

    “PV modules produce electrical power under a wide range of environmental conditions, such as irradiance, nominal operating cell temperature and ambient conditions causing the electrical power output to differ between modules of the same nameplate wattage. The PSI PV Module Rating is a comparative number that can be used with pricing information, providing power plant designers and buyers with a consistent basis for choosing a particular PV module…”

    Monday, October 15, 2012


    Buffalo Dunes Wind Project in Rural Kansas is the Second TradeWind Energy Project that Provides for the Delivery of Low-cost Energy to Alabama

    October 10, 2012 (TradeWind Energy)

    “TradeWind Energy, LLC and Alabama Power Company have entered into a long-term…agreement that provides for the delivery of low-cost electricity from wind-rich Kansas across five states to communities in Alabama…The 20-year power purchase agreement…for 202 MW and all associated renewable energy credits (RECs) was approved by the Alabama Public Service Commission…

    “TradeWind Energy’s plan allows flexibility for construction of a wind project between 200 and 300 MW. The Project will be constructed across approximately 42,000 acres and hosted by over 120 [Kansas] landowners…Alabama Power has the flexibility to use the electricity from the wind project to serve its customers and retire the RECs, or it can sell the electricity and the RECs, together or separately, to third parties.”

    “The Buffalo Dunes Wind Project will represent an approximately $300 million investment resulting in significant economic benefit to the state of Kansas and it will help to stabilize and lower energy costs over the life of the contract for customers on the other end of the line in Alabama. An estimated 150 new jobs will be created during the construction phase of the project with the fully operational project requiring about15 new full-time workers. Commercial operation is anticipated in December 2013…

    “The Buffalo Dunes project… [is the third] developed by TradeWind Energy that will deliver energy from the Midwest into the Southeastern United States…[and] over the past 18 months TradeWind has entered long term power purchase agreements that will lead to the construction of four wind projects in Kansas and Oklahoma that combined will deliver about 800 MW of energy to utility customers in the 10 states served by Alabama Power, Tennessee Valley Authority and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.”


    Residential Demand Response; Direct Load Control, Time-of-Use, Critical Peak Pricing, and Peak-Time Rebate Programs for Residential Customers: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    4Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Demand response (DR) is increasingly becoming an important part of the resource mix for utilities and grid operators, especially in managing peak electricity demand. While both the commercial and industrial (C&I) and residential sectors contribute to peak demand, households are responsible for a significant amount of such demand…

    “…DR programs that utilities offer are essential tools for managing demand and are a key component of governmental energy policy…[U]tilities in other countries are gradually realizing the potential benefits to themselves as well as their customers by introducing DR programs to their residential customers.”

    “Many have already developed such programs, especially in Europe, while others are initiating pilots to find out for themselves if they can achieve their load reduction objectives as well as a return on their investments from DR programs…In particular, they are anxious to determine the effectiveness of the two major types of programs: conventional direct load control (DLC) and price-based programs…

    “Despite their strong value proposition, however, residential price-based DR programs are still in their infancy. Pike Research estimates that there are nearly 11 million households globally that are currently enrolled in DR programs. With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6%, that number of households is forecast to more than double, to over 23.5 million, by 2018…”

    Friday, October 12, 2012


    Breaking News: Final Commerce Determination on Chinese Solar Cell Tariffs; The legal wrangling of the U.S. solar trade war is coming to an end. What is the aftermath?

    Eric Wesoff, October 10, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    “…[T]he Department of Commerce issued its final determinations on the extent of the countervailing duties and anti-dumping duties against imports of billions of dollars of solar cells from China…The effective rate on Suntech has gone up a few percentage points, down four percent for Yingli and Canadian Solar with Trina down 13 percentage points from the preliminary numbers…Commerce recommended anti-subsidy duty percentages of 14.78 percent for imports made by Suntech, 15.97 percent Trina Solar and 15.24 percent for all other Chinese manufacturers…

    “The petitioner for these investigations is SolarWorld Industries America, part of a German firm with operations in Oregon…[T]he bottom line according to an analysis by GTM Research, is that the tariffs will have minimal imact on the price of solar in the U.S. It is also unlikely that SolarWorld's tenuous competitive position will be improved by the tariffs imposed on Chinese companies. SolarWorld's most recent earnings call indicated high costs, low margins, and difficult losses and debt. Another outcome is a trade war in the other direction with China putting a tariff on polysilicon from the U.S. along with the EU imposing tariffs on Chinese solar panels.”

    “GTM Research used Trina Solar as a case study and asked -- what are the cost and price impacts going forward? …[Trina expected a module cost] around $0.78 per watt. For U.S. shipments, we expect that 100 percent of Trina’s U.S.-bound cells will be obtained via tolling from Taiwan…[imposing an additional] $0.08 per watt and a cost impact of 11 percent…[for] a U.S. ASP of $0.86 per watt, which is still 6 percent below the Q1 ASP.

    “Though tolling cells through Taiwan does impose a slight cost increase on manufacturers, it does not prohibit them from pricing modules well below their domestic competitors…[W]e expect pricing to continue falling over the course of the year, both globally and in the U.S…Next month the ITC will announce its final decision on whether to lock the tariffs into place…”

    Monday, October 8, 2012


    Presidential Candidates Talk Solyndra, Energy Investment During First Debate

    4 October 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Renewable energy was given little attention during the first televised debate between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama…But Solyndra - the failed thin-film PV manufacturer that has become synonymous with what critics believe are misguided investments in solar by the Obama administration - received a specific mention from Romney…

    “…[T]he two sparred over the topic of subsidies and incentives for both renewable energy and fossil fuels…Following Romney's comments, Obama did not directly defend his administration's investments in renewable energy, though he had reiterated his support of solar during an earlier debate statement…In response, Romney stated that the levels of oil and gas production have risen in spite of Obama's policies, which he characterized as unfriendly to producers of these energy sources…”

    “Solyndra indirectly came up once again during the debate's final moments, when Romney stated that ‘about half’ of the renewable energy companies receiving government funding have failed…

    “…[C]ongressional investigations over the past year have focused on whether Solyndra's Department of Energy loan guarantee was improperly received due to the involvement of Obama campaign donor George Kaiser, whose foundation held a stake in Solyndra. The Republican leadership of the House of Representatives…has repeatedly insisted that laws were broken - assertions that have been disputed by Democratic lawmakers…”


    County OKs 1,000-turbine wind farm in Wyoming

    Jeremy Fugleberg, October 4, 2012 (Casper Star-Tribune)

    “Carbon County officials have [unanimously] approved a…conditional use permit for the [1,000-turbine] Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind energy project, which would be the largest wind farm in the country…The 2,000-3,000-megawatt project’s developer, Power Co. Of Wyoming, must now bring the massive wind farm before the Industrial Siting Council, a state board that reviews large industrial projects [and that permit will be filed for in November]…Construction on the project [is expected to begin] in 2013…

    “…The project already has all necessary federal permits in hand…[There was opposition from those concerned] the project would harm wildlife and hinder the views across the county’s vistas…[that was answered by the company’s] work to study birds in the project area and its willingness to answer any questions thrown its way…things sometimes not shown by other wind project developers…”

    “…[Two commissioners] said they’re not overly happy about wind turbines dotting the horizon and they’re ideologically opposed to wind energy. But neither could turn down a project that met the rules for approval and will bring jobs and money to the county…[One] described renewable energy projects such as wind farms as an unstoppable federal government-driven freight train barreling down the tracks…[He said commissioners could] either get run over, or put your hand on the switch to direct the train…

    “Power Co. of Wyoming representatives say the county would get between $445 million and $562 million through various taxes over the 20-year life of the project…The project would also require 300 to 400 employees during the first two year’s of construction, 1,000 to 1,200 jobs over the following three years and 114 long-term jobs…”


    Cybersecurity And The Smart Grid: Detecting And Thwarting Attacks

    3 October 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “Over the last few years, the smart grid has created both real concerns and dramatized fears about cybersecurity weaknesses and the risk of potential attacks…[T]here are a few guiding principles that can help in the analysis of these potential attacks and even prevent them.

    “Guiding principle #1: Assume that any security system can be breached, and plan ahead for breaches, in order to ensure that a successful attack is detected, localized and compartmentalized. Following this principle lowers the value and likelihood of an attack.”

    “Guiding principle #2: Understand and manage the attack surface, which is the virtual avenue of attack. Some attacks are relatively simple and require minimal training to mount. The system must anticipate and counter these simple attacks…Other[s] require expert cryptologists and super computers…If the reward of a successful attack at this surface does not yield a proportionate benefit [to the needed resources], the likelihood of this attack is reduced.

    “Guiding principle #3: Use standard security protocols and best practices that have been applied in IT systems that have been - and continue to be - attacked…[If] known access control, authentication and encryption techniques…have been attacked (and revised when an attack was successful), it makes them generally stronger than a proprietary technique that has not been subjected to relentless attacks…If the industry follows…[these] guiding principles, smart meters can provide a more reliable, theft-resistant and attack-resistant grid than what is currently in place…”

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012


    Poll Reveals Strong Support for Solar Energy Across Political Spectrum on Eve of First Presidential Debate

    September 27, 2012 (Hart Research Associates)

    “…92 percent of [likely 2012] voters believe it’s important for the U.S. to develop and use more solar energy…85 percent of voters view solar energy favorably…78 percent of voters say government should support growth of solar energy with incentives…[according to] independent polling firm Hart Research Associates…

    “The poll found that more than nine out of 10 (92 percent) of likely voters feel that the U.S. should develop and use more solar energy. This support was strong across the political spectrum with 84 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of independents, and 98 percent of Democrats agreeing…”

    “Voters’ favorable view of solar translates directly into widespread bipartisan support for federal incentives fostering solar energy. Nearly four out of five (78 percent) of voters say the government should provide tax credits and financial incentives to encourage the development and use of solar energy. Fully two-thirds of swing voters (67 percent) chose solar above any other energy source to receive tax and financial incentives…

    “…[V]oters were unsure about the affordability of solar…The average system price of solar has dropped 50 percent since 2007. Innovations in system financing have made solar more affordable than ever before. Today, major U.S. brands rely on solar to keep costs low for consumers…The top 10 states for total solar electric capacity are…California, New Jersey, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina…”


    PV Supply Stabilization Reduces Pressure on ASP Declines in 2013; Anti-Dumping Fears and Further Corporate Casualties to Eliminate Competition for Market Survivors

    September 24, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “Photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturers that survive through 2013 are set for strong market-share gains, as global trade barriers and increased corporate casualties combine to decrease the competitive landscape significantly…During Q3’12, leading PV module manufacturers were confronted by increasing inventory levels (from 66 to 79 days outstanding) and declining shipments (down 7% Q/Q)…[because of expectations for] a traditional PV second-half boom in shipments…[but Q3 2012 demand] has yet to support the higher production levels.

    “1H’12 global demand was approximately 13 GW, while 2H’12 demand is projected to reach 16 GW, for only 25% growth…Q4’12 will provide a significant boost in end-market demand…[but not that of Q4 2011 when year-end demand resulted in over 10 GW of PV modules being consumed…Demand in Q4’12 is now expected to be in the range of 8.5-9.5 GW…[with demand] for 2012 to fall just short of 30 GW. An upside of 25% remains possible, but is strongly dependent on a late surge in shipments to China and India…[and] recovery across Europe…”

    “Signs are now emerging that 2013 will provide an opening for leading PV manufacturers to accomplish market-share gains…[L]eading module suppliers [will be] able to increase production at the expense of legacy competitors…This stabilization phase during 2013 will be characterized by increasing consolidation and liquidation of lower-tier PV manufacturers, many of whom have suspended production or are simply unburdening inventory…

    “As supply and demand continue to stabilize, this will result in a slower…decline and a lower risk of inventory build during 2013. This will allow upstream module manufacturers to maintain higher inventory levels as there will be less risk of any dramatic devaluation of stock-on-hand due to rapid end-market fluctuations…[Instead of] European and US-based PV manufacturers, the next set of exits from the PV industry will likely come from underperforming Chinese tier 2 and 3 manufacturers…”


    MidAmerican Wind to Acquire Two California Wind Projects from Terra-Gen Power; Alta Wind VII and Alta Wind IX projects total approximately 300 megawatts

    September 30, 2012 (MidAmerican Energy Holding Company)

    “…MidAmerican Wind, a subsidiary of MidAmerican Renewables whose parent company is MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, announced its…[acquisition of] the 168-megawatt Alta Wind VII and the 132-megawatt Alta Wind IX projects from California Highwind Power, a subsidiary of Terra-Gen Power, LLC…

    “…The projects are in Tehachapi, Calif., and will feature a total of 100 Vestas 3-megawatt V90 wind turbines…When complete, Southern California Edison will purchase electricity from each of the projects pursuant to the terms of power purchase agreements that extend to 2035. The projects will interconnect to and utilize Southern California Edison’s Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project.”

    “The Alta Wind VII and Alta Wind IX projects are part of the Alta Wind Energy Center. The completion of the two projects will bring the total capacity of the Alta Wind Energy Center to 1,320 megawatts. Approximately 1,020 megawatts are currently in operation…

    “…[With this addition,] MidAmerican Renewables’ portfolio includes more than 1,250 megawatts of owned renewable energy assets…MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company is the No. 1 rate-regulated utility owner of wind-powered generation capacity in the U.S…MidAmerican began building wind energy projects in 2004…[and] has built or acquired more than 3,300 megawatts of wind generation…”

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012


    White House Orders Chinese Firm to Divest From Wind Farm

    Damian Paletta, Eric Morath and Carol E. Lee, October 1, 2012 (NASDAQ)

    “President Barack Obama… took the unusual step of blocking foreign investment in a U.S. company, invoking national security concerns to prevent a firm owned by two Chinese nationals from acquiring four wind-farm- project companies…Ralls Corp., had sued the U.S. government in an effort to allow the acquisition to proceed, but the White House said the ‘wind farm sites are all within or in the vicinity of restricted air space at Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility Boardman in Oregon.’

    “In blocking the investment, Mr. Obama followed the recommendations of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States[CFIUS], which is chaired by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and includes top officials at the Pentagon and State Department, among others…The only other time the White House has used CFIUS to block an acquisition was on Feb. 1, 1990…when President George H.W. Bush prevented the acquisition of MAMCO Manufacturing by China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp., citing national security concerns…”

    “…[Both] Mr. Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are locked in a political fight over which candidate would be tougher on China…[and] trying to win over voters in the industrial Midwest…[and] decisive battleground states such as Ohio…The Obama administration has filed a series of trade complaints against China ahead of the November election, including one earlier this month, and the president has promoted the decisions on the campaign trail…Mr. Romney, in turn, has accused Mr. Obama of being soft on China and says he would label China as a currency manipulator…[The President] indicated he wouldn't take that step…

    “Ralls Corp. is owned by executives from China-based Sany Group, a construction machinery firm…In March, Ralls Corp. acquired ownership of the four wind-farm projects, but the U.S. Navy objected to where the wind turbines were going to be…In June, CFIUS... asked [Ralls] to file a voluntary petition to have the acquisition retroactively reviewed…[In] July and August, CFIUS notified Ralls officials they couldn't proceed with their plans to build the wind farms…[and] prohibited the firm from selling its assets…On Sept. 12, the Ralls Corp. sued the government trying to reverse the decision.”


    No End in Sight for Polysilicon Over-Supply; NPD Solarbuzz Forecasts Tier 1 Polysilicon Production Will be Greater than PV Industry Requires in 2012

    October 1, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “Despite the fact that most leading polysilicon producers have been operating at a loss, polysilicon capacity is expected to grow 22% in 2012 and a further 18% in 2013…Average industry-wide polysilicon prices for photovoltaic (PV) applications are forecast to drop 52% in 2012, while plant utilization is expected to decline from 77% in 2011 to 63%...

    “Total polysilicon capacity will exceed 385,000 tons in 2012, of which 70% is held by a small number of tier 1 producers. In fact, these tier 1 providers alone are forecast to satisfy all polysilicon demand… for the next few years.”

    “Unless end-market demand provides a strong upside surprise to expected polysilicon requirements, many of the 57 tier 2 and 3 producers are likely to exit the industry within the next 18 months. Indeed, even a few of the less-experienced tier 1 makers may not survive…Average polysilicon prices are forecast to start to stabilize in 2013 at around $21/Kg, as the remaining players rationalize utilization rates in line with end-market requirements…

    In addition to import duties, any increase in polysilicon prices will likely be limited by first tier supply sufficiency and end market demand for the next couple of years. However, tier 1 polysilicon producers continue to plan for longer term PV involvement, where low cost structures, economies of scale, and continuously improving productivity are expected to yield benefits as shipment volumes grow…”


    Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment; Level 1 and Level 2, DC Fast Charging, and Wireless EVSE: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2012 (Pike research/Navigant)

    “The past 18 months have marked the transition of the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) into full commercialization…[and] a major uptick in [electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) ]deployments. In 2012, there will be almost 45,000 public charging stations installed globally. Much of this will be the result of publicly funded infrastructure initiatives…

    “…In comparison to government targets for PEVs, however, sales have been disappointing, and the relatively slow pace of PEV rollouts will act as a dampener on this market. With some exceptions, much of the private sector is waiting until PEVs are commonly seen on the roads in their areas before investing in charging infrastructure.”

    “The EVSE industry is still trying to determine the best way to create a viable return on investment (ROI) on EVSE station deployments for site hosts. This issue is going to become front and center as the publicly funded EVSE deployments wind down…

    “…[I]t has been relatively easy to encourage businesses to become site hosts when the EVSE equipment is free or heavily subsidized. Nevertheless, global sales of charging equipment are expected to grow at a steady pace as the plug-in vehicle (PEV) market grows. Pike Research projects that the global EVSE market will increase from fewer than 200,000 units sold in 2012 to almost 2.4 million in 2020…”

    Monday, October 1, 2012


    Google signs wind-power agreement with Oklahoma's Grand River Dam Authority; The search-engine giant will buy some of the wind energy from GRDA's interest in a wind farm under development in central Oklahoma.

    Paul Moine, September 27, 2012 (The Oklahoman)

    “Search-engine giant Google Inc. has signed an agreement with the Grand River Dam Authority to buy electricity from a wind farm under construction in Canadian County…Google will buy up to 48 megawatts of wind power from GRDA's interest in the Canadian Hills wind farm [bringing the total amount of renewable energy for which Google has contracted to over 260 megawatts]…

    “…The 300-megawatt wind farm is expected to be complete by the end of the year and will be Oklahoma's largest wind farm with 135 turbines…Google will use the electricity to operate its data center in Pryor in northeastern Oklahoma. The data center began operations in 2011…”

    “Google last year signed a deal with NextEra Energy Resources to buy electricity directly from NextEra's Minco II Wind Energy Center in Grady and Caddo counties…With the expansion of cloud computing, data centers have become large consumers of electricity…

    “…The Electric Power Research Institute estimates electricity use by data centers doubled from 2006 to 2011. Data centers now consume about 3 percent of the nation's electricity…Google said it uses renewable energy for about 30 percent of its worldwide data center electricity. The company can't use renewable energy around the clock because data centers need to be operational 24 hours a day…”


    2012: Transitioning to the Next Phase of PV Industry Development

    Michael barker, September 28, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “Spurred by lower than expected second-half demand, most major PV module manufacturers lowered shipment guidance in the most recent round of quarterly earnings calls [from 30% growth]…[I]n late Q3’12] it appears…European markets in total have declined throughout the year. This fact has led manufacturers to…[lower] industry expectations by half.

    “Along with changing seasonal demand profiles, lower Y/Y growth – less than 10% in 2012 compared to 42% in 2011 – has combined with the continued oversupply situation to make 2012 a difficult year for manufacturers. The oversupply persists despite an initial wave of liquidations, primarily Western firms…[I]t is now being felt by Chinese manufacturers…[It]is likely to hit tier 2 and 3 – and maybe even a few tier 1 – Chinese manufacturers.”

    “…Current projections show an industry stabilization period beginning in the next 4-8 quarters. The time period is indefinite as, until now, many of the tertiary production players have enjoyed benign financing sources. As such they could continue to live on ‘borrowed time’ or could fall out more quickly per the decisions of financiers.

    “…[As this happens,] there will be less pressure on ASPs, and the task will fall to the remaining players to use any breathing room to refocus efforts on cost reduction…[and] margin recovery. This period of industry change could lead to a market in which there are significantly fewer players, each of whom may have a larger market share. The task at the moment for firms that have the capability is to survive…”


    Propane Autogas Vehicles; Liquefied Petroleum Gas Vehicle Availability, LPG Refueling Infrastructure, Engine Technology, and Fuel System Components: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    Q3 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Autogas...[is the common term] for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) used as an automotive transport fuel…[It is] approximately 9% of the global consumption of LPG…

    “…While LPG is relatively clean-burning, easy to store and transport, has high energy content, and is widely available in many countries, supplies of natural gas have become much more abundant over the last few years as new extraction process have been developed, and natural gas now challenges autogas as an alternative vehicle fuel to gasoline and diesel.”

    “…[T]he penetration for use [of autogas] as a vehicle fuel varies widely around the world. Few countries have created a refueling infrastructure to rival that for gasoline/diesel, but in most places batch delivery is well established, making it an ideal fuel for short range fleet operations if the cost per gallon is kept low…

    “Some OEMs offer factory installation of autogas and dual-fuel systems, but only in countries where the market is mature and volumes have been steady for some years. Most conversions are done in the aftermarket. Pike Research anticipates that by 2020 there will be more than 23 million autogas vehicles operating on roads worldwide.”