NewEnergyNews More: November 2012

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  • Wednesday, November 28, 2012


    Sinovel, Goldwind Forecast ‘Arduous’ 2013 as Turbine Sales Drop

    November 19, 2012 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “Sinovel Wind Group Co. (601558) and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. (002202), China’s biggest makers of wind turbines, forecast a difficult 2013 after reporting a decline in sales in the third quarter…

    “…[Sinovel foresees] grid constraints, slowing growth and [a challenging] economic environment…Goldwind also predicts tough market conditions…The two companies, which together account for a quarter of China’s wind market, have posted losses in the three months ended Sept. 30. Sinovel’s sales plunged 82 percent and Goldwind fell 42 percent.”

    “China, the biggest market for the companies, will for the first time post a 20 percent drop in annual installations to 16.4 gigawatts this year. It will add 16.3 gigawatts of wind farms in 2013, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said…

    “Chinese regulators implemented a stricter approval process for on-land projects [especially those in the northern provinces] in 2011 as grids struggled to carry electricity generated from wind-energy installations. The nation had 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from wind farms unused last year and the number may grow this year…”


    Costs Of Solar Energy Rapidly Declining Throughout U.S. Market

    27 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The installed price of solar photovoltaic power systems in the U.S. fell substantially in 2011 and through the first half of 2012, according to the latest edition of Tracking the Sun, an annual PV cost-tracking report produced by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)…The median installed price of residential and commercial PV systems completed in 2011 fell by roughly 11% to 14% from the year before, depending on system size. In California, prices fell by an additional 3% to 7% within the first six months of 2012.

    “These recent installed price reductions are attributable, in large part, to dramatic reductions in PV module prices, which have been falling precipitously since 2008, according to Berkeley Lab…[N]on-module costs - such as installation labor, marketing, overhead, inverters and the balance of system - have also fallen significantly over time…”

    “…[A]verage non-module costs for residential and commercial systems declined by roughly 30% from 1998 to 2011, but they have not declined as rapidly as module prices in recent years. As a result, non-module costs now represent a sizable fraction of the installed price of PV systems, and continued deep reduction in the price of PV will require concerted emphasis on lowering…[non-module] soft costs…[M]edian installed price of PV systems installed in 2011 was $6.10/W for residential and small commercial systems smaller than 10 kW in size and was $4.90/W for larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size…

    “Utility-sector PV systems larger than 2,000 kW in size averaged $3.40/W in 2011…[T]he authors suggest that PV prices in the U.S. may be driven lower through large-scale deployment programs…[O]ther factors are also important in achieving installed price reductions…The market for solar PV systems in the U.S. has grown rapidly over the past decade, as national, state and local governments offered various incentives…and accelerate cost reductions…”


    Massachusetts DPU Approves Cape Wind's PPA With NSTAR

    27 November 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “Following an eight-month proceeding, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has approved the 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) between NSTAR Electric Co. and Cape Wind Associates for the Cape Wind project, a 468 MW offshore wind project planned for Nantucket Sound…

    “The DPU concluded that the benefits of the contract exceeded its costs…that the agreement provides adequate protections for ratepayers...[and] the contract will assist NSTAR and the commonwealth in complying with the state's renewable energy and greenhouse-gas emissions-reduction requirements, moderating the system peak load demand, enhancing the electric reliability in the state, and creating jobs.”

    “The agreement, which NSTAR and Cape Wind agreed to in February, is for NSTAR to purchase 27.5% of the output of the Cape Wind project. The contract sets the base price (for electricity, capacity and renewable energy attributes) at $0.187/kWh for 2013, rising 3.5% annually…[But] if the actual project costs, as verified by an independent audit, fall to such an extent that the developer’s rate of return on debt and equity exceeds 10.7%, the contract price of electricity will be reduced to give ratepayers 60% of the benefit of the lower costs…[and if] the actual project costs are higher than anticipated and reduce this rate of return, the developer would absorb those losses without impact on rates paid by consumers…

    “The contract is expected to increase electricity customers’ bills by 1.3% to 1.4% for residential customers and by 1% to 2.1% for commercial and industrial customers. On average, the bill of a typical NSTAR residential customer using 500 kWh of electricity per month will increase by $1.16 per month…With the DPU's approval of this contract, the Cape Wind offshore wind project has secured contracts for 77.5% of its output. The DPU already approved a 15-year PPA for National Grid to buy 234 MW from the project…”

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012


    Los Angeles City Council Approves PPAs For K Road Moapa Solar

    21 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The Los Angeles City Council has voted unanimously to approve a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with K Road Moapa Solar to provide up to 250 MW of solar power…[from the K Road Moapa solar power installation] on the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians tribal land north of Las Vegas.”

    “…[T]he project is expected to create 400 jobs during peak construction and 15 to 20 permanent jobs…K Road Moapa Solar plans to build the plant in three phases of 100 MW to 150 MW. In addition to PV arrays, major additional project components include a 500 kV transmission line to deliver power to the grid and a 12 kV transmission line to the existing Moapa Travel Plaza after Phase I is complete.”


    Lake Winds Energy Park Begins Serving Customers; Consumers Energy's First Wind Park in Operation, Made Possible by Michigan's Energy Reform Law

    November 22. 2012 (PR Newswire via MarketWatch)

    “Consumers Energy's $250 million Lake Winds Energy Park began serving electric customers…[with its] generating capacity of 100 megawatts. It consists of 56 wind-generation turbines…The utility's investment in Lake Winds was made possible by Michigan's landmark energy reform law…”

    “Consumers Energy is the largest supplier of renewable energy in Michigan. The utility is on track to meet a requirement in Michigan's energy law that by 2015, 10 percent of the electricity it provides to its 1.8 million electric customers will come from renewable sources in the state…The addition of Lake Winds to the company's portfolio of renewable sources increases its renewable supply to 7 percent of retail sales. The completion of other projects…[increases its] renewable supply to 8 percent by the end of 2012…”


    LA BUYS NEVADA SUN Los Angeles City Council Approves PPAs For K Road Moapa Solar

    21 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The Los Angeles City Council has voted unanimously to approve a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with K Road Moapa Solar to provide up to 250 MW of solar power…[from the K Road Moapa solar power installation] on the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians tribal land north of Las Vegas.”

    “…[T]he project is expected to create 400 jobs during peak construction and 15 to 20 permanent jobs…K Road Moapa Solar plans to build the plant in three phases of 100 MW to 150 MW. In addition to PV arrays, major additional project components include a 500 kV transmission line to deliver power to the grid and a 12 kV transmission line to the existing Moapa Travel Plaza after Phase I is complete.”

    BIG MICHIGAN WIND GOES ONLINE Lake Winds Energy Park Begins Serving Customers; Consumers Energy's First Wind Park in Operation, Made Possible by Michigan's Energy Reform Law

    November 22. 2012 (PR Newswire via MarketWatch)

    “Consumers Energy's $250 million Lake Winds Energy Park began serving electric customers…[with its] generating capacity of 100 megawatts. It consists of 56 wind-generation turbines…The utility's investment in Lake Winds was made possible by Michigan's landmark energy reform law…”

    “Consumers Energy is the largest supplier of renewable energy in Michigan. The utility is on track to meet a requirement in Michigan's energy law that by 2015, 10 percent of the electricity it provides to its 1.8 million electric customers will come from renewable sources in the state…The addition of Lake Winds to the company's portfolio of renewable sources increases its renewable supply to 7 percent of retail sales. The completion of other projects…[increases its] renewable supply to 8 percent by the end of 2012…”

    Independent Study Highlights the Benefits and Success of Focus on Energy; Program found to be more cost-effective than ever before

    November 19, 2012 (PR newswire via Sacramento Bee)

    “Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities' statewide program for energy efficiencyand renewable energy, is highly cost-effective, according to a new independent evaluation report [of 2011] released by the Cadmus Group.

    “…During 2011, the report found that Focus on Energy provided incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to more than 195,000 residential and business customers. Total verified net energy savings accomplished as a result of Focus on Energy projects amounted to 441 GWh and approximately 17 thousand Therms, or the equivalent of providing electricity to 44,000 homes for one year. The report also found that Focus on Energy returned $428 million in benefits for Wisconsin ratepayers…”

    “…[Estimated 2011 statewide] benefits of the energy savings achieved by Focus on Energy programs exceeded costs by a ratio of 2.46 to 1. This represents a considerable increase from the 2010 ratio of 2.3 to 1…[Cost effectiveness was calculated by comparing] the financial benefits from investing in programs to the financial costs associated with running the programs and delivering the energy efficiency and renewable resource measures…[E]nergy savings achieved in 2011 lagged those achieved in previous years…[due to] numerous and significant changes in program administration, design and delivery…[T]he effects of reduced incentive levels implemented midway through 2010 and continued in 2011 had an impact on customer participation…

    “This year's results will follow a comprehensive redesign that expanded opportunities for Wisconsin homes and businesses to participate…[which] included a new targeted program for small businesses and expanded energy savings opportunities for residents such as a refrigerator recycling program…year-round discounts for efficient lighting…[reduced] up-front costs for residents participating in comprehensive home energy programs and…a network of over 1,400 Wisconsin businesses as Trade Allies who help implement projects…”

    Monday, November 26, 2012


    Learning From Kansas: Why Utilities Are Embracing Wind Energy, Part 2 (continued from Wednesday) Alan Claus Anderson, Britton Gibson, Luke Hagedorn & Scott W. White, 20 November

    2012 (North American Windpower

    “One of the benefits that renewable energy sources - such as wind and solar - provide is price certainty. When utilities add renewable energy generation to their portfolios, they can lock in power supply at a known price for up to 20 years…Eighty percent of the overall cost of wind power is incurred up front, due to the procurement of the turbines and the construction of the generation facility. Only about 10% of the levelized cost is incurred during operations and maintenance.

    “…[A] utility is able to lock in a price for the electricity for the term of the agreement, regardless of any fluctuations in the ongoing project costs…The benefit of having the bulk of wind facility costs incurred up front is that because the costs are accrued early in the project’s development, it becomes easier to accurately estimate the extent of those costs.”

    “…[T]he total costs for these projects are likely to decrease over time as technology becomes more widely utilized…A May 2012 study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the International Energy Agency…found about a 20% to 30% reduction in the LCOE of wind energy generation by the year 2030…[and] because wind as a “fuel” is free, so there is no exposure to volatile fuel prices or fluctuating fuel transportation costs.

    “…[T]he costs of wind are relatively predictable…[T]he costs of coal and natural-gas generation facilities can fluctuate significantly over time due to the costs associated with fuel prices, as well as increasingly stringent environmental regulations…[And] coal exports are on a record pace this year, so new demands will…likely [increase demand and] drive prices upward…Despite recent developments in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, natural-gas prices [also] remain subject to [price volatility]…”


    Commission Green-Lights Georgia Power's 210 MW Solar Initiative

    21 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has…[unanimously] approved Atlanta-based utility Georgia Power's new solar initiative - the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI).

    “Through the GPASI, the utility will acquire 210 MW of additional solar capacity through long-term contracts over a two-year period…[It is] the largest voluntarily developed solar portfolio from an investor-owned utility.”

    “…Georgia Power's utility-scale program will purchase 60 MW annually for two years through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) program, with projects ranging in size from 1 MW to 20 MW. By as early as 2013, a distributed-scale program will provide opportunities for up to 45 MW per year of smaller solar projects…[of] small-scale (less than 100 kW) and medium-scale (100-1,000 kW) projects.

    “RFPs for the utility-scale program will be conducted in 2013 and 2014 and will require commercial operation dates in 2015 and 2016. Georgia Power…could begin signing solar contracts under the distributed-scale program as early the first quarter of 2013.”


    Smart Grid Project Helps Keep Surplus Wind Power Local

    Joseph Bebon, 18 November 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “…The small city of Summerside, located on Canada's Prince Edward Island…decided [in 2003] to build and own…the Summerside Wind Farm…[T]he 12 MW project was commissioned in 2009…[T]he taxpayers own the wind farm and sell the power to the municipal utility, Summerside Electric…Summerside Electric purchases another 9 MW of wind power from West Cape Energy…[The two] sources give the utility 50% wind integration.

    “But there is a problem: Summerside Electric has a peak load of 23 MW, a minimum load of 11 MW and an average load of 18 MW. With a wind capacity of 21 MW, the utility often has to sell surplus wind power to entities outside the city’s borders…[The city believes] the utility and community [should] have a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to power needs…Summerside Electric has to export about 7.5 million KWh of excess wind power every year, and the municipal government wants to keep the energy within its borders….[That] is where Summerside’s smart grid project came in….”

    “In August 2011, the city council voted to use the C$1.5 million that was leftover…[to develop] the Heat For Less Now program: an initiative to install advanced electric heating units, as well as supportive smart grid solutions, at residents’ homes. By [offering the electricity used by the heating appliances at C$0.08/KWh - meaning that for every kilowatt-hour sold, the utility receives four extra cents and customers receive a four-cent rebate from what their existing electrical rates are, it incentivized] residents to heat their houses and water using electricity rather than oil or gas]…

    “…[I]t took about six months to get one-tenth of the community fiber-wired and a year and a half to get the Heat program off the ground. The beta pilot phase…has only installed 103 electric thermal storage units on 54 premises and 115 smart meters on 56 premises thus far…[T]he goal is to get electric heaters to 500 homes and then call it a proven beta system. Right now, 90% of Summerside Electric’s customers still use sources other than electricity to heat their homes and hot water…[T]he city plans to eventually expand its wind farm and become an even greener community…[to make] the Heat program…successful in the long run…”

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012


    Learning From Kansas: Why Utilities Are Embracing Wind Energy, Part 1

    Alan Claus Anderson, Britton Gibson, Luke Hagedorn & Scott W. White, 20 November 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “In Kansas, wind energy generation is at least equivalent in cost - and often cheaper - than traditional sources of energy, according to academic studies that analyzed the costs of various types of generation in the state.

    “The best standard for this type of analysis is known as a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) comparison, which takes into account the following cost components for each type of generation source: investment and installation costs; operations and maintenance costs; fuel costs; life of the generating unit; and energy generated by the unit…”

    “Based on [a number of LCOE studies by a variety of different governmental and non-governmental entities], the average LCOE for wind generation is $68.25/MWh if the federal production tax credit (PTC) is taken into consideration, or $90.25/MWh if the PTC is not included. This compares very favorably to the average LCOE for combined-cycle natural gas, at $74.55/MWh; conventional coal, at $104.35/MWh and natural-gas peaking facilities, at $177.20/MWh.

    “One of the main reasons that wind energy costs in Kansas are so low is that the state has an excellent wind resource. Therefore, wind projects in the state have capacity factors that far exceed the national average. Projects with high capacity factors see a marked decline in their total levelized costs. Thus, Kansas’ excellent wind resource leads to markedly lower wind generation prices than can be found in other areas across the country…”


    Delving Into The Numbers: Latest Solar Jobs Census Shows Strong Growth (Continued from Monday and Tuesday)

    15 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The National Solar Jobs Census…[just released by The Solar Foundation (TSF)]…reveals positive growth once again in solar employment. Several of the business subsectors analyzed posted increases in their job numbers, and all indicators point to further good news in 2013…

    “[Among] the most important numbers [were]…29,742: The number of people in the U.S. working in solar manufacturing…Given the well publicized struggles of U.S. solar manufacturers in the face of international competition and precipitous module price declines, it comes as no surprise the solar manufacturing industry saw a decline in job totals. Last year, this subsector employed 37,941 people…However, this trend is expected to reverse itself as the sector recovers…”

    “61%: The percentage of solar developers that expect to add workers next year…This year's census breaks out "project development establishments" in their own category for the first time. Currently totaling 414, these companies will expand their ranks in the coming year.

    “According to the report, the total number of employees at project developers will reach 9,108, with approximately 1,110 jobs expected to be added to the existing 7,998 positions.”


    Google extends commitment to green energy with $75 million investment in Iowa wind farm

    November 15, 2012 (AP via Washington Post)

    “Google is investing $75 million in an Iowa wind farm as part of its effort to encourage development of cleaner energy sources…[The deal] gives Google Inc. a stake in the Rippey Wind Farm in Greene County, Iowa. RPM Access LLC is the primary owner. [Google’s investments in renewable energy now exceed $990 million]…”

    “The wind farm is located about 130 miles northeast of Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is home to one of the eight data centers that power Google’s Internet search engine and other services…[but the] Iowa data center won’t be getting power from the wind farm…[though the] high electricity demand of Google’s massive data centers is one of the reasons the company backs energy projects that cause less pollution than traditional power plants.”

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012


    Short-Term Energy Outlook

    November 6, 2012 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    “Residential sales of electricity in the United States are projected to fall by 3.5 percent in 2012…[This] reflects the mild winter temperatures in the first quarter of this year, particularly in the south where many households heat using electricity. Residential electricity sales decline by 0.5 percent in 2013 as lower electricity demand for space cooling during the summer offsets the increase in first quarter consumption.

    “…[A]t least 8.5 million customers were without power at some point as a result of Hurricane Sandy…EIA expects outages caused by Hurricane Sandy will reduce October and November total retail sales of electricity in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) by about 2 to 3 percent from their forecasted level absent disruptions caused by the storm…”

    “The shares of total U.S. electricity generation fueled by natural gas and coal during 2012 averaged 30.6 percent and 37.2 percent, respectively. EIA expects that prices for natural gas delivered to electric generators during 2013 will average 22 percent higher than during 2012, while the average cost of coal is just over 1 percent higher. The projected higher price of natural gas relative to coal contributes to a decline in the share of total generation fueled by natural gas 27.2 percent next year and an increase in the coal share to 40.1 percent…

    “EIA expects the nominal U.S. residential electricity price will rise by just 0.1 percent during 2012, which would be the smallest year-over-year increase in ten years. Residential prices during 2013 are projected to rise by 1.5 percent to an average of 11.98 cents per kilowatt-hour.”


    Delving Into The Numbers: Latest Solar Jobs Census Shows Strong Growth (continued from yesterday)

    15 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The National Solar Jobs Census…[just released by The Solar Foundation (TSF)]…reveals positive growth once again in solar employment. Several of the business subsectors analyzed posted increases in their job numbers, and all indicators point to further good news in 2013…

    “[Among] the most important numbers [were]…20,000: The approximate number of new solar workers projected to be added over the next 12 months…The pace of job growth seen from 2011 to 2012 is expected to pick up even further over the next year. Based on its analysis, TSF predicts that solar-sector employment will increase by 17.2% over the next 12 months, netting approximately 20,000 additional workers…More than 44% of the solar firms that participated in the census said they expect to expand during this time.”

    “31%: The percentage of respondents who identified the decrease in system component prices as a positive factor for growth in the industry…

    “8,813: The number of solar installation companies in the U.S., according to the census…These firms represent the largest employment subsector in the industry, giving a total of 57,177 solar workers their jobs. Additionally, installers added the most new jobs over the past year…[Continued Wednesday]…”


    Multiyear Wind Energy PTC Phase-Out Getting Bipartisan Attention

    Laura DiMugno, 15 November 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “While a one-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) remains alive in an omnibus tax-extenders bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee in August, some policymakers say the incentive could ultimately be renewed in a different form…[S]ome members of Congress - including a handful of anti-renewables House conservatives - may seek to strip the provision from the legislation…[and] many Republican lawmakers would need to be assured that the incentive will eventually go away.

    “…[A] PTC phase-out…may be gaining some serious support…Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa…[and] a bipartisan group of governors - including Govs. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa; John Kitzhaber, D-Ore.; Sam Brownback, R-Kan.; and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo. - emphasized the importance of extending the PTC, as well as the economic benefits it would provide.”

    “Because of the longer timeline needed to finance and build wind projects, the governors stressed, the industry might be better served by a multiyear phase-out than by a one-year extension…Brownback said he would like to see a three- or four-year phase-out of the tax credit but admitted that a one-year extension would probably be more realistic…Grassley said he also likes the idea and that he would be in favor of a gradual phase-out of about 20% per year.

    “Under the PTC-extension provision currently included in the tax-extenders bill, not only would the PTC be extended until Dec. 31, 2013, but the placed-in-service deadline would be changed to a start-of-construction deadline. In other words, projects would have to have started construction before Dec. 31, 2013, to receive the $0.022/kWh incentive…Ultimately, the fate of the PTC will depend on the priority given to the incentive as a part of measures taken to avoid the fiscal cliff…”

    Monday, November 19, 2012


    Offshore Report 2013

    4Q 2013 (Pike Research/BTM Consultant/Navigant)

    “Highlights of offshore wind power development in 2011highlights of offshore wind power development in 2011 included…Cumulative installation of 3.99 GW…More than 5 GW under construction…Nearly 100 GW offshore project portfolios identified globally…Europe is the largest offshore wind continent, the UK is the largest offshore wind market…”

    “Seven out of the Top 10 wind farm operators are European utilities and two are from Asia…Siemens and Vestas are the largest offshore turbine suppliers, sharing 86% of the total global market…The industry has seen the deployment of three drivetrain concepts…HVDC cables and cabling vessels are still bottlenecks…This year’s forecast and prediction indicate offshore on track for increased contribution to wind power in Europe…”


    Delving Into The Numbers: Latest Solar Jobs Census Shows Strong Growth

    15 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The National Solar Jobs Census…[just released by The Solar Foundation (TSF)]…reveals positive growth once again in solar employment…

    “Several of the business subsectors analyzed posted increases in their job numbers, and all indicators point to further good news in 2013…[The] census showed that the solar sector employs workers in all 50 U.S. states…”

    “[Among] the most important numbers [were]…119,016: The total number of solar workers in the U.S., up from 105,145 (per TSF's revised numbers) last year…Given the difficult overall economic conditions and patterns of employment, industry leadership figures expressed strong satisfaction with the findings…

    “…13.2%: Growth in solar employment over last year's totals…By comparison, the national average employment growth rate from last year to this year was just 2.3%, according to the report. Furthermore, during the three years for which TSF has conducted its Solar Jobs Census, industry employment has grown a full 27% - eight times faster than the broader economy, which posted job growth of 3.2%...[continued Tuesday]…”


    NTR's Wind Capital Opens Post Rock Wind Farm in Kansas; 201 MW Wind Farm to Power Over 70,000 Homes

    November 19, 2012 (NTR Wind Capital Group)

    “…[Leading renewable energy investor NTR Group’s Wind Capital Group]…dedicated its Post Rock Wind Farm at a ceremony in Ellsworth, Kansas…Construction of Post Rock commenced in 2011..The project was completed on time and on budget…Commercial operations commenced on October 4th of this year…”

    “…Post Rock uses 134 General Electric 1.5 MW wind turbines…The 201-megawatt Wind Farm can produce enough clean, renewable energy to power 70,000 homes…Post Rock spans 23,000 acres…The project included the construction of a 31-mile electric transmission line…Kansas based electric utility Westar Energy will purchase the power generated at Post Rock under a 20-year power purchase agreement…The project cost US$375 million…”

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012


    AES Solar Wraps Up Financing Exceeding $750M

    12 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “AES Solar, the joint venture company of AES Corp. and Riverstone Holdings LLC, has completed three financings totaling $752 million. The capital is backing construction of the 266 MW Mount Signal project in California and a portfolio of three projects in France totaling 22.4 MW. The financing also provides AES Solar with a corporate revolving credit facility.

    “AES Solar says its global portfolio now totals more than 500 MW in operation or construction in seven countries…The Mount Signal development (also known as Imperial Valley Solar 1, or IVS1) is located in Imperial County, Calif…”

    “…Expected to be operational in early 2014, the facility will sell its output to San Diego Gas & Electric Co. via a long-term power purchase agreement. Mount Signal is being co-developed with 8minutenergy Renewables LLC.

    “The French portfolio, which totaled about $90 million, consists of a 12 MW parking-lot project near Toulouse; an 8.7 MW parking-lot project near Lyon; and a 1.7 MW ground-mount project also near Toulouse…”


    MidAmerican Acquires Two Wind Projects Linked With Tehachapi Transmission Project

    9 November 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “MidAmerican Wind - a subsidiary of MidAmerican Renewables, whose parent company is MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., [a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway] - has completed the acquisition of the 168 MW Alta Wind VII and the 132 MW Alta Wind IX projects from California Highwind Power, a subsidiary of Terra-Gen Power LLC.”

    “The projects are located near Tehachapi, Calif., and will consist of 100 Vestas 3 MW V90 wind turbines. Both projects will interconnect to and utilize Southern California Edison's (SCE) Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, which includes a series of high-voltage transmission lines capable of delivering electricity from wind farms and other generating sources in northern Los Angeles and eastern Kern counties. When the Alta Wind VII and Alta Wind IX projects are complete, SCE will purchase electricity from the projects pursuant to the terms of long-term power purchase agreements.”


    In a shale state, give wind power its respective due

    Jeff Perkins, November 12, 2012 (Pennsylvania Patriot-News)

    “…Shale gas [went from a billion cubic feet to 400 billion between 2008 and 2010,] has revolutionized the commonwealth’s energy industry…[and might provide] energy independence and economic growth, but that progress could come at the cost of our natural resources, our communities and our health.

    “…Since the 1970s, the federal government has offered a combination of tax credits, subsidies and other policies that helped to forge today’s shale industry…[T]he ‘father of shale gas,’ George Mitchell, used funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to drill his first horizontal well...But in the enthusiasm over shale, have we provided a level playing field for other energy resources?”

    “During the last five years…[wind] has captured 35 percent of newly installed electricity generation capacity in the U.S…[and its production costs] are down more than 90 percent since 1980…Nine gigawatts — the equivalent of nine nuclear power stations — …is ready to be built in the coming years…[I]t’s looking much like the shale industry was a decade ago, but…inaction in Washington is threatening to derail this progress…

    “…[Like] shale gas producers before them, wind power companies receive…[a] production tax credit [that] has helped to keep power prices low while enabling the wind power industry to reduce costs…[I]f Congress does not act, the production tax credit will expire at the end of this year, and the impact will be immediate and dire…As faith-based investors and members of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, we support the PTC…[I]f Congress values job creation, American industry, healthy communities and long-term, sustainable energy independence, we believe its choice is simple: Extend the production tax credit immediately.”

    Monday, November 12, 2012


    With Policy In Question, Wind Energy Jobs Plummet In Third Quarter

    9 November 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “More than 10,800 U.S. jobs in the clean energy and related sectors were announced in the third quarter, but that number represents a drastic drop from the second quarter, when 37,000 clean energy jobs were announced, and from the first quarter, when 46,000 jobs were created, according to a new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)…

    “The main factor in the marked drop was policy uncertainty, especially the looming expiration of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy…In the wind industry, manufacturing job announcements fell to zero in the third quarter, compared to eight announcements in the first quarter and two in the second quarter…”

    “Power generation companies announced the most clean energy jobs in the third quarter. Solar, wind and biogas companies announced 40 projects that together would create more than 6,000 jobs.

    “The E2 report also notes that clean energy job announcements have no political or regional boundaries, as 48% of the announcements were in Republican congressional districts, 46% were in Democratic districts and 6% spanned more than one congressional district…The top 10 states for green jobs in the third quarter were California, New York, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois and Nevada…”


    The experts: 5 things the Obama victory means for Iowa

    November 6, 2012 (Des Moines Register)

    [Dianne Bystrom, director, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics/Iowa State University:] “…A slowly recovering economy…Continued and expanded access to afffordable health care, especially for the uninsured, women, unemployed college graduates and senior citizens…Continuing tax credits for Iowa’s wind energy industry…An affirmation of the Iowa Supreme Court decision allowing gay civil unions…An expanded role for government…Continued gridlock in Washington, DC.”

    [Graham Gillette, public affairs consultant, Des Moines:] “…[A] continued struggle with Congress to preserve and maintain the hallmarks of his first term…[and more conciliation] with Congress as he attempts to do so…[A better economy so we will be] better in 2016 than we were in 2012…[and the possibility of] finance reform…to significantly close the floodgate of money flowing into campaigns.”

    [Steffen Schmidt, political science professor, Iowa State University:] “…Obama will buy a second home in Iowa maybe on Lake Okoboji…Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, and Obama will do a concert at the State Fair…The Obama campaign will treat all Iowan’s to free beer…When millionaire taxes are increased Iowa’s rich will move to the Cayman Islands…Wind power tax breaks will be restored.”

    [Shane Vander Hart, founder/editor in chief, Caffeinated Thoughts:] “…[S]agnation in the jobs numbers as economic uncertainty will continue…[Economic] recovery, but at a much slower pace…[and a possible tax increase] on job creators…”


    Abengoa’s first solar power tower outside Spain to be built in Upington

    Terence Creamer, 6 November 2012 (Engineering News)

    “Leading renewable-energy group Abengoa, of Spain…has started construction on two solar power projects in South Africa…the 50 MW Khi Solar One power-tower concentrating solar power (CSP) project…[and] a 100 MW parabolic trough CSP plant, dubbed KaXu Solar One…[Both will be] in the sun-drenched Northern Cape province…[T]he Khi Solar One plant will be only the group’s third commercial power tower and its first outside of Spain.

    “Both developments signed long-term power purchase and implementation agreements with Eskom and the Department of Energy respectively on November 5, having been named as preferred projects along with 26 other wind and solar bidders in December last year…during the first bid window of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme [which represents] an investment value of around R47-billion and wind and solar capacity of around 1 415 MW.”

    “The Abengoa projects, which are expected to be operational during 2016, are the only CSP projects selected during the first bidding phase and the documentation released following their selection indicates total costs of R11.4-billion for the development of the two projects…[Abengoa] is partnering with the State-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and will build, operate and maintain the plants – Abengoa owns 51% of the project, the IDC 29%, while black economic–empowerment entities own the 20% balance.

    “Both Khi Solar One and KaXu Solar One will employ dry-cooling technology, to reduce water consumption and will incorporate storage capacity – about two hours in the case of Khi and three hours for KaXu…[Abengoa said] the projects would reduce South Africa’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions by about 498 000 t and will create about 1 400 local construction jobs and 70 permanent operational jobs.”

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012


    NRG Energy gets lease for offshore Delaware project

    Carl Levesque, Octtober 26, 2012 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    “The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has reached agreement on a lease for commercial wind energy development in federal waters covering 96,430 acres that are located approximately 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware…

    “The agreement marks the first lease completed under Interior’s “Smart from the Start” approach to facilitate environmentally responsible offshore wind development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) by identifying wind energy areas in a coordinated, focused approach with extensive environmental analysis, public review and large-scale planning…”

    “The lease grants NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC the exclusive right to submit one or more plans to BOEM to conduct activities in support of wind energy development in the lease area. The company may submit a plan to conduct site assessment activities, such as the installation of a meteorological tower or meteorological buoy, as well as submit a construction and operations Plan (COP) to propose construction of the actual wind facility and cabling to shore.

    “In its original project nomination, NRG Bluewater proposed a 450-MW project off the coast of Delaware, although ther project scope could change…The project’s path to completion, however, has been complicated by business factors…Late last year NRG cancelled the power purchase agreement with Delmarva Power for the project’s electricity…[and] decided not to continue with its offshore wind power business, which it acquired in 2008 with the purchase of Bluewater Wind…[but the new] lease will make the project all the more appealing to potential partners or buyers…”


    New Study Finds that Solar Power Is a Bargain for Ratepayers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

    5 November 2012 (PR Newswire via RenewablesBiz)

    “…[S]olar power in New Jersey and Pennsylvania delivers value to the electric grid that exceeds its cost by a large margin, making it a bargain for energy consumers…Energy providers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are required to buy certain amounts of solar power each year. They pay a premium for that solar power in the form of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, or SRECs, and pass this premium cost on to ratepayers.

    “…[A Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA) and Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association (PASEIA) study by consulting firm Clean Power Research] found that solar power delivers a total levelized value ranging from $256 to $318 per MWh (25.6 cents to 31.8 cents per kWh)…”

    “…[T]his includes a premium value in the range of $150 to $200 per MWh (15 cents to 20 cents per kWh), above the value of the solar electricity generated. The SRECs in New Jersey currently cost about $60/MWh (6 cents per KWh), and in Pennsylvania they cost about $20/ MWh (2 cents per KWH)…[A] value that exceeds its cost by 50% to over 100%...

    “Research concluded that…distributed solar power delivers…Lower conventional electricity market prices due to reduced peak demand…Valuable price hedge from using a free, renewable fuel rather than variably-priced fossil fuels…Avoided costs of new transmission and distribution infrastructure…Reduced need to build, operate and maintain natural gas generating plants…Reduced outages due to a more reliable, distributed electric power system…Reduced future costs of mitigating the environmental impacts of coal, natural gas, nuclear, and other generation…[and] Enhanced tax revenues associated with local job creation, which is higher for solar than conventional power generation…”


    NY panel offers plan for up to 3,200 MW of new generation, transmission

    Carl Levesque, October 26, 2012 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    “…The five-member Energy Highway Task Force…gave New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo a blueprint that includes 13 recommended actions to advance the governor's push to modernize the state's energy system [that will add as much as 3,200 MW of electric generation and transmission capacity as well as renewable power generation through public and private investments totaling about $5.7 billion.]…

    “…Cuomo, during his state of the state address in January, outlined an “Energy Highway Initiative” to improve the system…The task force created the blueprint after reviewing feedback from 85 entities, including the state's investor-owned utilities, private developers and investors…[Actions would] involve stakeholders from the private sector, state agencies and investor-owned utilities, along with the New York Power Authority, Long Island Power Authority and the New York Independent System Operator…[and] begin by the end of 2012 or early 2013.”

    “The recommended actions…Build $1 billion worth of electric transmission projects totaling more than 1,000 MW of capacity…[and]Advance up to $800 million of investments in electric generation, transmission, and distribution to enhance reliability, safety and storm resilience.

    “…[The state would] execute new contracts for up to $250 million with renewable energy developers under the renewable portfolio standard to leverage an additional $425 million in private-sector investment…Build up to $35 million worth of strategic transmission upgrades…[for] additional renewable energy development in northern New York…[prepare for] offshore wind development in the Atlantic Ocean…[and invest] $100 million...for smart grid technologies…[and] demonstration of new technologies in power grid system operations, security and energy storage.”

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012


    The wind farm that withstood Hurricane Sandy

    Ros Davidson, 2 November 2012 (Windpower Monthly)

    “…Three of the Jersey Atlantic project’s five 1.5MW GE SLE turbines [withstood Hurricane Sandy after 90 mph winds smashed into the New Jersey coast and] were operating again by Friday…The remaining two turbines [are expected to] be up and running in the next few days…

    “…The project, operated by Infigen Energy, is at [the Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) wastewater treatment plant a few miles from the shore...Matthew McGowan, Infigen’s asset management and development director, described the turbines as in ‘good shape’…High water levels may have caused some difficulties with data relay from the substations on site and with the electrical connections, said Infigen.”

    “On Sunday, the turbines had been placed in ‘hurricane mode’. They were electrically locked, taken offline and then powered up using the standby generator that controls the yaw of the nacelles so they could be turned into the winds, which were a sustained 64 mph, probably with much higher gusting, said Infigen…ACUA had approximately 25,000 additional visits to its [wind project webcam] between Sunday and Tuesday…

    “…This is not the first time a wind farm has withstood hostile environmental conditions. Last year, the Kamisu near-shore wind farm, located 40 metres off Ibaraki prefecture on Japan's east coast, withstood the country's catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.”


    Order Cancellations Drive PV Book-to-Bill Ratio into Negative Territory…Capacity Rationalization and Equipment De-Bookings Provide Further Delay to Next Technology Buy Cycle

    October 22, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “Production equipment order cancellations and push-outs by solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers during 2012 exceeded $3 billion by the end of Q3’12, according to new research [from NPD Solarbuzz]…This has resulted in a significant reduction in order backlogs for PV equipment suppliers, with Q3’12 representing the fourth consecutive quarter of 30% Q/Q backlog declines. When combined with maintenance-only quantities of new orders seen by PV equipment suppliers, the PV book-to-bill ratio has fallen into negative territory, the first time since the industry began to take off in the mid-2000s…

    “Customers of PV…cell and module makers…continue to undergo a painful capacity rationalization process, caused by chronic over-investment dating back to 2010. However, quarterly manufacturing capacity for c-Si cells and modules remains constant at 13 GW, with new capacity coming online cancelling out the existing capacity that is being shuttered and idled…”

    “…During Q3’12, utilization rates for cell and module capacity had to be reduced considerably…However, PV manufacturers remain highly cautious about short-term capacity and production plans…[due to] several ongoing anti-dumping investigations. Some Chinese c-Si manufacturers are considering geographic diversification of their manufacturing capacity.

    “PV equipment spending is forecast to decline by more than 66% during 2012, and to remain at pre-2008 levels of $5 billion during 2013. Equipment spending is not forecast to rebound until at least 2014, with tier 1 spending accounting for over 90% of addressable revenues. PV equipment spending over the next 12-18 months will be comprised of process tool upgrades, advanced high-efficiency pilot lines, and potential geographic capacity diversification to address any trade restrictions or local content requirements…”


    Ikea uses sun, wind to become energy independent; As more U.S. businesses embrace renewable energy, IKEA plans to announce Tuesday that it will rely on the sun and the wind to produce all the power it uses at its stores and buildings by 2020.

    Wendy Koch, October 23, 2012 (USA Today)

    “Energy independence by 2020? …[G]lobal home furnishings retailer Ikea…[announced] plans to achieve that goal with solar and wind power…[T]he Swedish retailer says it will rely on the sun and wind to produce all the power it uses at its stores and buildings worldwide within a decade.

    “It plans to install more rooftop solar panels, erect wind farms and reduce its energy usage by replacing 1.2 million incandescent light bulbs with 85%-more-efficient LEDs (light-emitting diodes.)…Ikea already has solar panels atop 34 of its 38 U.S. stores and distribution centers…[P]arts of the U.S. also have great wind potential, and Ikea, which is building wind farms abroad, would like one stateside…”

    “Ikea, which announced earlier this month that it will sell only LED light bulbs in its stores by 2016, is not the first retailer to shoot for 100% renewable energy. Walmart has also set that goal (without specifying a timeline), and it ranks first among U.S. companies for solar power generation…Costco Wholesale ranked second, Kohl's Department Stores, third, Ikea, fourth and Macy's, fifth…

    “…[M]ore than 90% of the total energy that retailers use is embedded in the supply chain — the making of and delivering of parts and products…[Retailers say] renewable energy is no longer just about scoring public relations points… Ikea, which phased out plastic bags in 2007 and stopped selling incandescent bulbs in 2010, believes energy independence is ‘the right thing to do, not only because it's concerned about climate change but also because it wants to protect itself against higher energy prices in the future…”

    Monday, November 5, 2012


    GE to set US record in 2012 for wind turbine installations

    Richard A. Kessler, October 19, 2012 (ReCharge)

    “General Electric this year will set a company record for wind capacity installations in the US, breaking its previous high of 3.99GW in 2009, the most for any turbine vendor there in a calendar year…GE also has the four next highest US wind capacity installs including 3.58GW in 2008, 2.54GW in 2010, 2.34GW in 2007 and 2GW last year…Vestas is in sixth place with 1.96GW installed in 2011.

    “…GE’s own market research aligns with AWEA’s forecast that the US will add between 12GW and 13.5GW in wind capacity this year, which would easily surpass the 10GW record set in 2009. Original equipment manufacturers added 6.81GW of capacity in 2011…Developers are racing to complete wind farms and get them grid-connected to qualify for the [$22 per MWh, ten year] production tax credit (PTC) that [was instituted in 1992 and] expires on 31 December…[It is wind industry’s] main federal subsidy…”

    The Choice, Part 1 This is what he said.

    TheChoice, Part 2

    This is what he said.

    “…[GE’s leaders are] optimistic that Congress will renew the tax credit after 6 November national elections…[I]t traditionally has gained bipartisan support…[because over] 80% of US installs are in Republican districts…President Barack Obama wants to make the PTC permanent while his Republican opponent Mitt Romney is urging Congress not to renew it…Even if lawmakers extend the PTC for another year, the US market in 2013 [is expected to] be the worst for new wind capacity since 2.54GW in 2006. GE has three turbine production facilities in the US. The company won’t discuss employment or activity levels at them.

    “More than 70% of wind turbine deals so far this year have been overseas. GE has tripled its share in Europe since 2010 and has scored several large sales in Brazil…[S]ales of GE’s flagship 1.6MW platform have been strong in the US and globally…The 2.75MW platform is an evolutionary development of the 2.5MW series wind turbine, GE’s largest onshore offering at the moment. The company recently announced installation of its 1,000th 2.5MW series unit in Romania…The company’s technology development arm continues to work on designing a ‘next generation’ direct-drive wind turbine of up to 15MW using superconducting magnets…[for] offshore wind.”


    Americans use more efficient and renewable energy technologies

    Anne M. Stark, October 8, 2012 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    “Americans used less energy in 2011 than in the previous year due mainly to a shift to higher-efficiency energy technologies in the transportation and residential sectors. Meanwhile, less coal was used but more natural gas was consumed according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

    “Wind power saw the biggest jump from .92 quadrillion BTU, or quads, in 2010 up to 1.17 quads in 2011. (BTU or British Thermal Unit is a unit of measurement for energy and is equivalent to about 1.055 kilojoules)…Hydroelectricity also saw an increase going from 2.51 quads in 2010 up to 3.17 quads in 2011…Hydroelectricity jumped significantly in 2011 because 2011 saw large amounts of precipitation in the Western U.S…keeping reservoirs full…”

    “Overall, U.S. energy use in 2011 equaled 97.3 quads compared to the 98 quads used in 2010. Most of the energy was tied to coal, natural gas and petroleum…From 2010 to 2011, use of coal fell dramatically, use of oil (petroleum) fell slightly and use of natural gas increased slightly from 24.65 quads in 2010 to 24.9 quads in 2011…

    “The majority of energy use in 2011 was used for electricity generation (39.2 quads), followed by transportation, industrial, commercial and residential consumption. However, energy use in the residential, commercial and transportation sectors decreased while industrial energy use increased if only slightly…”


    The Solar Foundation Reports 13% Growth in U.S. Solar Jobs; Annual National Solar Jobs Census finds more than 119,000 employed by solar industry

    November 2, 2012 (The Solar Foundation)

    “The Solar Foundation (TSF)…third annual National Solar Jobs Census found that the U.S. solar industry employs 119,016 Americans…[an] addition of 13,872 workers and a 13.2% employment growth rate over the previous year…TSF also revised the 2011 total jobs number from 100,237 to 105,145…

    The National Solar Jobs Census 2012 measured employment growth in the solar industry between September 2011 and September 2012. During the same period, employment in the overall economy grew at a rate of 2.3% (BLS), while the fossil fuel electric generation industry shed 3,857 jobs or 3.77% of its workforce (EMSI)…”

    “Nearly one third of employers who responded to the survey cited the continued decline in component prices as the primary driver of employment growth. State legislation enacting Renewable Portfolio Standards or authorizing third-party system ownership and federal tax incentives were other leading drivers of growth…

    “The Solar Foundation and BW Research used an improved version of the Solar Energy Industries Association’s National Solar Database to refine the methods used in the Census and reach more employers…[T]he survey examined employment along the solar value chain, including installation, wholesale trade, manufacturing, utilities and all other fields and includes growth rates and job numbers for 31 separate occupations…”

    Thursday, November 1, 2012