NewEnergyNews More: December 2012

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  • Monday, December 24, 2012


    5 Energy Trends That Will Impact Your Business In 2013

    Brian O’Connell, December 21, 2012 (Forbes)

    “…[M]ore and more executives are locked in on the energy market and are promising to leverage that market to improve sustainability at their firms…[According to A New Era of Sustainability from Accenture and the UN Global Compact] 93% of the 766 CEOs surveyed say that energy sustainability is either ‘important’ or ‘very important.’ …100% of CEOs in the automotive and consumer sectors view sustainability as ‘critical’ to their success…

    “…[1…High prices] are triggering a broader re-evaluation process among CEOs going into 2013…[2…A clear majority of CEOs say their renewable energy purchases will rise] over the next five years. To fight back against higher energy prices, those CEOs intend to explore cheaper renewable energy…[3…Company-Generated Energy Will Rise]…51% of CEOs in [an] Ernst & Young study said company-owned renewable energy resources would increase, and 16% claimed that it would ‘significantly increase.’…”

    “…[4…Commercial Buildings Going Green]…More buildings, manufacturing plants and office complexes in the U.S. are going ‘green,’ or at least heading that way…20% of the annual energy consumption in the U.S. is linked to commercial buildings…[and] the federal government is offering big financial incentives to companies to ‘retrofit’ their buildings and make them more energy efficient. The goal is to cut U.S commercial building energy output by 20% by 2020…[5…Natural Gas Over Oil]… With demand for oil slowing across the globe, especially in emerging market countries like China and India, oil prices should rise significantly in 2013. But huge stores of natural gas, especially a burgeoning shale gas supply in the U.S., make natural gas a cheaper…

    “…Expect CEOs to steer energy budget resources away from pricey oil and toward inexpensive natural gas. That’s especially true given the U.S…Typically, natural gas is about 10 times less expensive than crude oil. But these days, it’s trading 35 times cheaper…While that ratio may not be sustainable, high natural gas inventories should keep prices down for 2013…”


    Book of the Year: Clean Break, the Story of Germany's Energy Transformation -- and What Americans Can Learn From It

    Jeff Biggers, December 20, 2012 (Huffington Post)

    “Energiewende might be the most important German word to ever enter our American vocabulary…[J]ournalist Osha Davidson's riveting [inspiring and downright revelatory] new ebook, Clean Break: The Story of Germany's Energy Transformation -- and What Americans Can Learn From It, the story of Germany's Energiewende or power shift [away from nuclear power and coal to New Energy’will hopefully [make it] a driving part of our own energy lexicon…

    “...Written with the skill and intrigue of an investigative journalist tracking down a mystery, [Germany’s journey to a clean energy future unfolds with the verve of a page-turning bildungsroman, with all the facts and figures to lay out a roadmap…Davidson takes us on a fact-finding journey to Germany's corridors of power -- from politics to the prairies to the Black Forest -- to understand how Europe's most important industrial power has managed to meet such an ambitious plan for renewable energy production…”

    “…Davidson presents some basic tenets of any plans for a power shift in our own dirty energy ways…Germany's plan is not infallible, of course, nor is it alone in its goal to operate on 80 percent renewable power by 2050 -- Scotland recently announced its intention to become 100 percent renewable by 2020.

    “But as Davidson expertly shows, Germany's Energiewende demonstrates that the issue of climate change and transitioning off dirty fossil fuels should no longer be seen as ‘a problem,’ as one analysts explains, but a ‘task’ to be accomplished…Clean Break is a huge leap in making that task a vital part of our American energy policy.”


    2012: After Repeated Losses, Coal Industry Continues Downward Spiral; One Coal Plant Retired Each Week in 2012

    December 20, 2012 (Sierra Club)

    Over the past twelve months, the nationwide campaign to phase out coal burning in the United States continued to win victories from coast to coast, including securing dozens of coal plant retirements and record investments in wind and solar…[An unprecedented coalition including Sierra Club and more than a hundred local, regional and national organizations has helped to secure the largest drop in U.S. coal burning ever] in 2012 as its market share fell and stock prices tanked…

    0 new coal plants broke ground – the third year in a row that the campaign prevented any new coal plants from starting construction…0 new coal export facilities broke ground in the Pacific Northwest…13 proposed coal plants abandoned or defeated…54 coal plants retired or announced to retire, with a grand total of 126 coal plants announced for retirement since January 2010…18,789 megawatts of coal retired or announced to retire, with a grand total of 46,904 megawatts retired or announced to retire since January 2010…”

    “…1,992 megwatts of solar power installed as of September 2012 – bringing the total amount of solar operating in the U.S. to 5,900 megawatts…4,728 megawatts of wind power installed through Sept 2012 – an increase of 40 percent from Sept 2011. In total there is now 51,630 megawatts of wind power operating in the US…12 million homes – about 10 percent of the country – could be powered by the amount of solar and wind generated in the first nine months of 2012 alone…13,872 workers added to the solar industry in 2012 – a growth of 13.2 percent over 2011…

    “8 percent decrease in overall electric sector carbon dioxide emissions – a twenty year low in US carbon emissions – mainly due to a decline in coal-fired generation…38 percent of overall electricity generation provided by coal through September 2012, a historic decline from 50 percent less than five years ago…10,000+ citizens turned out to oppose new coal export facilities in the Northwest…1,773,027 emails and comments sent calling on EPA and national leaders to curb coal plant pollution and invest in clean energy…”

    Wednesday, December 19, 2012


    Renewable Distributed Energy Generation Installations Will Reach Nearly $86 Billion in Market Value by 2017

    December 12, 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Renewable distributed energy generation (RDEG) technologies, which contrast sharply with the traditional centralized utility model of large-scale power generation, represent a growing opportunity for the electric power industry. Worldwide, utility companies, investors, and policymakers are testing programs and business models to support this industry…

    “…According to a recent report from Pike Research…the RDEG market will grow from less than $69 billion in market value in 2012 to nearly $86 billion in 2017…[but] will require the evolution of both technologies and business practices…”

    “The new RDEG model and traditional, centralized systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and the former is still in its early stages. RDEG installations today represent less than 1 percent of total electricity generating capacity installed worldwide…[but in many places,] RDEG technologies are more cost-effective than centralized installations that require transmission to population centers…

    “…Europe will continue to be the largest market for RDEG during the 2012-2017 forecast period, with most countries expected to hit their renewable energy targets, the study finds, but Asia Pacific, led by China, will grow the fastest as untapped domestic markets for RDEG installations emerge.”


    Report: U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Progress Expected To Be 'Lackluster' Through 2016

    17 December 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “Offshore wind energy installations are expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 44% between 2011 and 2016, with 18 GW of installations expected by the end of that period, according to a new analysis from MAKE Consulting. Much of that growth can be attributed to favorable policy in Europe and China…Europe will [account] for 62% of total installations in the 2011-2016 period…77% will be driven by Germany and the U.K…striving toward their ambitious 2020 offshore wind targets of 18 GW and 10 GW, respectively.

    “…[T]he Asia Pacific region is expected to install 6.6 GW of offshore wind through 2016, representing 36% of the global offshore wind energy market. Although China will remain the largest offshore wind market in the Asia Pacific, the emergence of South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan will supplement growth during that period…[P]rogress in the U.S. is expected to be lackluster, due to low gas and electricity prices, an ample onshore resource and weak political commitment to renewables…”

    “Offshore wind asset ownership will remain dominated by European utilities and developers, with Vattenfall and DONG Energy leading the way…MAKE expects increasing interest in asset ownership from the financial sector. Pension funds and insurance companies are attracted to the sector due to the return expectations of new developments relative to other asset classes, as well as the improving risk profile of offshore wind, as the industry matures. China Three Gorges, Guodian and Marubeni are the top Asian offshore wind asset owners…

    “Lowering the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) will be key to supporting future offshore wind energy growth…[T]he current LCOE range for offshore wind is 120-180 euros/MWh, with most assets around 140-160 euros/MWh…The report estimates that larger turbines with resultant fewer cables and foundations mean that capital costs could drop by nearly 17%, and the LCOE could drop by 20% by the end of the decade, toward 115-120 euros/MWh…[T]ransmission infrastructure build-out is another challenge…”


    Worldwide Smart Meter Shipments Surpass 15.4 Million Units in 3Q 2012, According to IDC Energy Insights; Cellular AMI Communications Will Present Growth Opportunity Through 2016

    December 10, 2012

    “Worldwide smart meter shipments surpassed 15.4 million units in the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12), representing year-over-year growth of 126.9% and a 58.6% increase over the second quarter, according to the IDC Energy Insights Worldwide Quarterly Smart Meter Tracker…Growth was observed across all regions except for the Americas…Latin and South America remain promising, but scale projects have not yet emerged to replace the decline in North American shipments.

    “The Asia/Pacific region grew at an astonishing rate of 516.8% year over year and 142.02% sequentially. Much of this growth can be attributed to China; Chinese utilities are beginning to equip meters deployed under previous metering tenders with communications. The Asia/Pacific region will remain a source of growth for the smart metering industry in coming years as Japan, Korea, Oceana and even South and Southeast Asia begin to ramp up advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployments.”

    “…[T] he Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region exhibited growth of 54.5% year over year and 8.5% sequentially…well below the expectations set by previous regulatory targets…[T]he AMI industry is becoming increasingly frustrated with Europe…[but] there are no indications that meter shipments will pick up significantly before 2014…

    “…[G]rowth of cellular AMI communications [is speeding up]…[It]will reach 17% of smart meter shipments in the more mature metering markets of Europe and North America by 2016, up from less than 8% in 2012…[M]any of the basic metering upgrades underway in Asia/Pacific and other emerging markets are likely to deploy power line communications (PLC)…[H]igh bandwidth networks have also been deployed…3G and 4G-WiMax utility networks deployed in Australia are currently being utilized as common infrastructure for metering and distribution monitoring and control…[but] may eventually be displaced by FTTP (fiber-to-the-premises) through the Australian National Broadband Network...”

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012


    Solar Panels for Every Home

    David Crane and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., December 12, 2012 (NY Times)

    “…Residents of New Jersey and New York have lived through three major storms in the past 16 months, suffering through sustained blackouts, closed roads and schools, long gas lines and disrupted lives, all caused by the destruction of our electric system. When our power industry is unable to perform its most basic mission of supplying safe, affordable and reliable power, we need to ask whether it is really sensible to run the 21st century by using an antiquated and vulnerable system of copper wires and wooden poles.

    “…[P]ortable gas-powered generators…[are] dirty, noisy and expensive…[and] have no value outside of a power failure. And they’re not much help during a failure if gasoline is impossible to procure…[W]e believe there is a better way to secure grid independence for our homes and businesses…Solar photovoltaic technology can significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and our dependence on the grid. Electricity-producing photovoltaic panels installed on houses, on the roofs of warehouses and big box stores and over parking lots can be wired so that they deliver power when the grid fails.”

    “Solar panels have dropped in price by 80 percent in the past five years and can provide electricity at a cost that is at or below the current retail cost of grid power in 20 states, including many of the Northeast states…[but] the investor-owned utilities that depend on the existing system for their profits have little economic interest in promoting a technology that empowers customers…[and] state regulatory agencies and local governments impose burdensome permitting and siting requirements that unnecessarily raise installation costs [25 percent to 30 percent]…a higher percentage of the overall cost than the solar equipment…

    “…More than one million Germans [with streamlined permitting] have installed solar panels on their roofs. Australia also has a streamlined permitting process and has solar panels on 10 percent of its homes. Solar photovoltaic power would give America the potential to challenge the utility monopolies, democratize energy generation…transform millions of homes and small businesses into energy generators..[and] energy entrepreneur…create millions of domestic jobs…[cut the nation’s emissions…[A]s we rebuild the tens of thousands of houses and commercial buildings damaged and destroyed by the storm, let’s incorporate solar power arrays and other clean energy technologies…[and wire them] so they still are generating even when the centralized grid system is down…All we need is the political will.”


    Lake Erie Wind Turbine Project, ‘Icebreaker,’ Wins $5 Million in New Funding; $4 Million Awarded by U.S. Department of Energy Plus $1 Million Private Cost Share

    December 12, 2012 (Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation)

    “The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today $5 million in new funding for Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), the non-profit corporation leading the effort for the first freshwater offshore wind project in the nation…[T]he DOE has committed $4 million to support the advancement of the offshore wind energy project known as “Icebreaker”, which consists of five to nine wind turbines seven miles off the coast of Cleveland in Lake Erie. LEEDCo’s private partners committed an additional $1 million in cost share as part of the agreement.

    “‘Icebreaker’ is one of only seven offshore wind energy projects that DOE awarded [up to $180 million over the next five years]…and the only one in the Great Lakes…[They] will help address key challenges associated with installing utility-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes…’Icebreaker’ could potentially receive an additional $46.7 million in federal funding…”

    “Among LEEDCo’s winning development team…[along with] Case Western Reserve University, McMahon DeGulis, Freshwater Wind. Siemens, and DNV KEMA…[W]ith the recently completed 1000 MW London Array, Siemens has now supplied the world’s largest, in addition to the world’s first, offshore projects. The company holds 80 percent of the offshore market share in Europe and recently contracted to deliver 300 of its new 6 MW turbines to leading offshore wind farm developer Dong Energy.

    “…McMahon DeGulis’ expertise in renewable energy permitting helped LEEDCo to advance through the regulatory processes. CWRU has studied ice and wind data at the Cleveland water intake crib since 2005…DNV KEMA has conducted project certification and design verification for 44 offshore wind projects globally…LEEDCo and its development team will compete among the seven DOE award winners…for the additional $46.7 million…[Three] will receive additional funding…”


    Wireless Charging Systems for Electric Vehicles

    4Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “During the past few years, wireless charging for electric vehicles (EVs) has appeared to be mainly a promising technology with no viable market. In the last 6 to 12 months, however, these factors have begun to shift…

    “…Nearly all of the major EV manufacturers have announced partnerships to develop wireless charging systems and there are signs that such systems, installed at the factory or added at the dealership, could become a market differentiator for EV models.”

    “The deployment of wireless EV charging systems is directly tied to the growth of…[the EV and wireless power markets]…Many trials with OEM vehicles have started up in 2012, and at least one vendor – Evatran, which markets its products under the marque “Plugless Power” – intends to bring a system to market in the first half of 2013…

    “…Pike Research forecasts that wireless charging equipment for light duty vehicle sales will grow by a CAGR of 91% from 2013 to 2020, as wireless systems move from a retrofit technology to an integrated part of new EVs, reaching annual sales of 283,000 units in 2020…”

    Monday, December 17, 2012


    SolarCity's Stock Debut: Wall Street Success In A Struggling Market?

    Jessica Lillian, 13 December 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "Shares in…PV integrator SolarCity (NASDAC:SCTY) began trading on the NASDAQ Global Market this Thursday, following months of anticipation…[Marketer and installer] SolarCity has been heralded by some industry analysts and executives as the next great hope in a solar stock market dominated by acutely suffering module manufacturers…SolarCity priced its initial public offering (IPO) of 11.5 million shares of common stock at $8.00 per share…After opening at approximately $8.00 to $9.00, shares quickly began trading above $12 [and thin film PV manufacturer First Solar - whose stock price is carefully watched as a key indicator for the entire solar sector - saw its price rise]…

    “…[But] an ongoing investigation [of SolarCity] by the U.S. Department of Treasury also still looms…In October, SolarCity admitted in its SEC documents that the company - along with other unnamed installers - is being probed by the Treasury's Inspector General for supplying possibly inaccurate fair-market values for its PV systems when applying for money under the Treasury's Section 1603 program.”

    “Although no one at SolarCity has been formally charged with any misconduct, income tax audits earlier this year revealed system valuation discrepancies. The probe - and similar questions within the industry regarding installers' system pricing practices - brings an additional element of uncertainty in an already skittish stock market.

    “…[T]he downstream solar market is both attractive and active right now…Whether other integrators and system financiers follow in testing the IPO waters or take another option, such as a merger, the dominant players will likely begin to separate themselves from the pack as this segment matures…One key to differentiation…in SolarCity's model…[is] integrating the finance and operational sides of the business…[to] avoid some of the competitive risks…[of] a construction-only firm…”


    US wind tower producers plead for duties on China, Vietnam

    Doug Palmer, December 13, 2012 (Reuters)

    “U.S. wind tower manufacturers, already facing the expiration of a tax credit that has pumped up demand for wind energy projects…[pleaded] for a U.S. government panel to approve steep duties on imports from China and Vietnam…[at a hearing ahead of] a final Commerce Department determination…of whether Chinese and Vietnamese wind tower manufacturers are unfairly undercutting U.S. prices…Earlier this year, the department said Chinese towers were being sold at 20.85 percent to 72.69 percent below fair market value and Vietnamese towers at discounts of 52.67 to 59.91 percent…

    “…Preliminary anti-dumping duties could rise or fall next week, but the ITC has to find U.S. producers have been materially injured, or threatened with material injury, by the imports for duties to take effect. That decision is expected by late January…[The presidents of the two biggest US tower manufacturers of the tall steel towers used to support the large turbines…[whose customers include GE and Siemens] told the panel the past five years have been brutal for the U.S. wind tower industry as they lost market share to imports from China and Vietnam…”

    “Five major U.S. producers, two of whom were petitioners in this investigation, have shut down tower operations and left the industry. Others have been forced to curtail production, shutter facilities and lay off workers, all as the result of the surge of dumped and subsidized imports [one said]…U.S. tower producers were particularly upset when GE went with Chinese suppliers for the 338-tower Shepherds Flat project in eastern Oregon, which is expected to be completed next year and is billed as the world's largest wind farm…

    “GE did not testify at [the hearing but] an attorney representing Siemens said duties were unwarranted because domestic producers had not produced any evidence of under-selling by Chinese or Vietnamese competitors…[There is ample evidence, another attorney testified, of petitioners] turning down orders because they did not have the capacity to deliver. So their loss of market share was due to their inability to produce more, not foreign imports…The wind tower producers at the hearing said they expect demand for new towers to be weak in 2013 even if the tax credit is renewed…That makes it critical that duties are imposed on imports from China and Vietnam, they said.”


    Laser drills could relight geothermal energy dreams

    Jeff Hecht, 13 December 2012 (New Scientist)

    “From fossil fuels to geothermal heat, accessing the planet's energy riches usually involves boring deep into the Earth with giant metal drills. But could lasers do the same job?...Foro Energy, a start-up company in Littleton, Colorado, has developed what it claims is an inexpensive system of high-powered lasers that can rip through rock, potentially revolutionising drilling and hastening the adoption of greener forms of power…

    “…[A] test system [funded by the US Department of Energy's research arm, ARPA-E, has] sent a beam from a 20-kilowatt commercial laser through 1.5 kilometres of optical fibre…Borehole drilling trials are planned for next year.”

    “Mechanical drills can easily grind through soft rocks like sandstone to tap petroleum reserves, but they wear out quickly in hard crystalline rocks such as granite and basalt. It is these harder rocks that often hide the best sources of geothermal energy. Foro's intense laser beam heats hard rock surfaces so fast that thermal shock fractures the upper few millimetres, leaving a crumbled layer that a mechanical drill can scrape away quickly and with little wear. This approach could increase drilling rates, a major component in well cost, by up to a factor of 10, says ARPA-E.

    “…[A] flashy prototype is far from proof that the rig will hold up in the brutal environment found in the bottom of a borehole…[but] the cost of drilling has been a roadblock to expanding the adoption of geothermal energy. If Foro can prove its technology is ready for the grunt work of punching hundreds of holes through the hard igneous rocks, it would change the mathematics of low-carbon energy…”

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012


    …Top 10 List: What Utilities Should Expect In 2013

    10 December 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “…[IDC Energy Insights’] top 10 predictions for the North American utility industry in 2013…[were]…1. Utilities will make outage prevention, readiness and response a top priority in 2013…2. Smart meter shipments will fall below 9 million units…

    “…3. In the next five years, consumer spending will transform home energy management…4. By 2017, 70% of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems will integrate to a distribution control system…5…[U]tility incentives will drive $160 million in smart building technologies, ensuring energy efficiency is here to stay…”

    “…6. Utilities have breathing room to plan, as plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) penetration [at just under 650,000 by 2015] is lower than expected…7. Utility chief information officers' (CIO) security practices…will center on risk management…

    “…8. CIOs’ agenda…will focus on bringing business efficiencies through information technology (IT) initiatives… 9…[M]arketing and customer operations will increase efforts in the social business space…10. North American IT spending will increase at a 4.92% compound annual growth rate over the five years from 2010 to 2015.”


    Behind The Controversy Over Unlicensed Workers At Mass. Solar Site

    Jessica Lillian, 5 December 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “…Massachusetts has seen growing controversy over PV installation staffing - particularly at large-scale, ground-mounted commercial solar farm sites…[A]nyone who installs ‘wires, conduits, apparatus, devices, fixtures or other appliances for carrying or using electricity for light, heat, power, fire warning or security system purposes’ must be a licensed electrician…[M]any other states may require only that a licensed electrician supervise…or allow the contractor to hold a general license.

    “Some PV developers and integrators report that the higher costs associated with using strictly licensed electricians keeps them out of the Massachusetts solar market altogether. Other solar companies operating in Massachusetts have found themselves under investigation by the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL)…”

    “…Patriot Solar and EPG Solar…[own the land on which an investigated] project is being developed…Michael Borkowski, managing partner at EPG Solar…maintained that non-electricians can, in fact, legally perform racking installations and similar duties, per the outcome of…the Carroll case, centered on the role of non-licensed general contractors in building PV installations in Massachusetts…[The case found that] installation of racks and rails does qualify as electrical work, while drilling holes in a roof as part of array prep work, for instance, is considered non-electrical…

    “…[Some say the] complaints stem from hostility over [union] own members' failure to win the installation job rather than actual safety concerns…[The union says the investigations represent] a larger trend of solar contractors that take labor shortcuts. Earlier this year, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' Boston division, Local 103, waged a public campaign against [another Massachusetts project]…”


    Wind Blades: The “Fabric” of Our Clean Energy Future; GE, Virginia Tech, and NREL begin project that could change how wind blades are designed, manufactured, and installed.

    December 2, 2012 9Today’s Energy Solutions)

    “…[M]ost of the cost of electricity for wind [is] in the initial capital investments made in the wind turbines…[A new blade design from a GE, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech), and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) $5.6M ARPA-E three-year research project could change the way wind blades are designed, manufactured, and installed and] substantially lower the cost of wind energy…[The] new blade design could reduce blade costs 25% to 40%, making wind energy as economical as fossil fuels without government subsidies…

    “GE’s research will focus on the use of architectural fabrics, which would be wrapped around a metal spaceframe, resembling a fishbone. Fabric would be tensioned around ribs which run the length of the blade and specially designed to meet the demands of wind blade operations. Conventional wind blades are constructed out of fiberglass, which is heavier and more labor and time-intensive to manufacture.”

    “Advancements in blade technology will help spur the development of larger, lighter turbines that can capture more wind at lower wind speeds. Current technology doesn’t easily allow for construction of turbines that have rotor diameters exceeding 120 meters because of design, manufacturing, assembly, and transportation [costs and] constraints…GE’s new fabric-based technology…components could be built and assembled on site…

    “…[T]o achieve the national goal of 20% wind power in the U.S., wind blades would need to grow by 50%...Lighter fabric blades could make this goal attainable…The use of fabrics to reduce weight and provide a cost-effective cover dates back to the World War I era, when it was used on airplanes…GE has already begun using [an advanced, more rugged and reliable] spaceframe/tension fabric design in the construction of wind towers for better aesthetics, cost, and protection…GE’s blade architecture will be built to achieve a 20 year life with no regular maintenance to tension fabrics required.”

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012


    California Poised to Regain US Solar PV Dominance…

    December 4, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “Driven by a combination of policy initiatives, California is poised to regain its dominant position in the US solar PV market in 2013…Once the dominant player in the US on-grid PV market, California’s share gradually declined as New Jersey, Arizona, and other states on the East Coast launched their own initiatives to deploy PV and to diversify their energy portfolio. In 2011, California’s share dropped to 30% while New Jersey’ share jumped to 17%...

    “California’s baseline market demand has been supported by the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the nation’s largest rate-payer-funded program. While CSI has been instrumental in the development of residential and non-residential net-metered systems (used to lower electricity costs on-site), California has instituted several other programs to support larger systems to satisfy the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements.”

    “California has one of the most ambitious RPS goals; it requires both public and investor-owned utilities to procure 33% of all electricity delivered to retail customers from renewable sources by 2020. To meet this requirement, the state’s utilities have solicited and contracted not only large-scale centralized projects, but also mid-sized systems, often below 20 MW and interconnected to the distribution grid. Several contracted large-scale projects in California that are under development include the 550 MW-AC Topaz Solar Farm, the 550 MW-AC Desert Sunlight and the 250 MW-AC California Valley Solar Ranch.

    “…[Research findings show] the California solar PV market will experience 60% Y/Y growth in 2012, continuing to lead the nation with the long-term commitment to solar and other renewable and energy-efficient technologies. The US solar PV market will grow 51% Y/Y in 2012, but it is projected to experience slower growth in 2013 at 30% Y/Y, due to the over-supply of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) on the East Coast and phasing out of the Treasury Cash Grant…”


    CWE gets Arizona planning OK for second wind tower

    Darius Snieckus, December 4, 2012 (ReCharge News)

    “Authorities in Arizona have approved a plan by US renewables developer Clean Wind Energy (CWE) to build a second 685-metre, wind-powered downdraft tower near the city of San Luis, clearing the way for a proposed two-unit project that hopes to supply power to one million homes.

    “CWE’s scheme is built around hollow cylindrical structures equipped with a water-spray system, designed to each generate 850MW from high-speed ‘downbursts’ of air that turn turbines in their foundations.”

    “More than 1,500 acres has been set aside for the Arizona development. The first tower was approved earlier this year…The green light comes on the heels of a $5m investment deal with New York financiers Deer Valley Management…

    “Two crane companies that will build the downdraft towers – Denmark’s Krøll Cranes and Tower Cranes of America – recently bought shares in CWE. Expectations are that the San Luis project is ‘12-24 months away’ from ground-breaking…In October CWE inked a letter of intent to buy a site in Mexico for another two-tower development.”


    Major stimulation completed at Habanero 4

    10 December 2012 (Geodynamics Ltd)

    “Geodynamics Limited…has successfully carried out a major stimulation of the Habanero 4 well over a 14 day period from 17 to 30 November 2012…During the stimulation and the subsequent pressure decline after the stimulation ended, Geodynamics’ seismic monitoring network detected more than 24,000 micro-seismic events…extending up to 1,500 metres away from the well.

    “The data from the stimulation is currently being processed and analysed to further understand the behaviour of the fracture system at Habanero. The reservoir will now be allowed to re-establish equilibrium conditions before conducting a third open flow test estimated to be carried out in February 2013…”

    “Geothermal energy produced from hot fractured rocks, also known as Engineered or Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), is generated by special high heat producing granites located 3km or more below the Earth's surface. The heat inside these granites is trapped by overlying rocks which act as an insulating blanket…

    “…The heat is extracted from these granites by pumping water through fractures in the granite and bringing the hot water to surface. Geodynamics believes that energy produced using EGS technology is capable of generating base-load power at a cost that will be very competitive with other energy sources (both low carbon and otherwise).”

    Monday, December 10, 2012


    Wind integration best practices report underscores industry experience, knowledge

    December 7, 2012 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    “…Review of Industry Practice and Experience in the Integration of Wind and Solar Generation…[examines] a number of scenarios for various levels and combinations of penetrations of various technologies including solar and land-based and offshore wind [on the electricity grid].

    “…[It] provides [for Mid-Atlantic grid operator PJM Interconnection LLC] with a comprehensive look at the best approaches for integrating wind and solar power, based on an examination of operations and processes being implemented around the country and the world. The report covers energy scheduling, imbalances, reserves, contingency reserves, wind and solar forecasting, active power management and determining the capacity value of variable generation.”

    “…[A long list of studies have shown] that large amounts of wind power can be reliably integrated, and now a base of real-world experience is turning such assessments into reality…Countries such as Spain and Denmark, which crossed the 20 percent wind threshold several years ago, have high wind penetrations and, even in the U.S., individual states have achieved such numbers, led by Iowa (nearly 19 percent as of the end of 2011) and South Dakota (22 percent)…

    “…[T]he report looks at operational and regulatory practices (e.g., wind forecasting, scheduling, and so forth) in top wind power-penetration countries including Denmark and Spain as well…”


    Advanced Lead-Acid Batteries; Enhanced Flooded, Valve-Regulated, Lead-Carbon, and UltraBatteries for Motive, Transportation, and Stationary Applications: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    4Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Conventional lead-acid batteries have a significant history in providing energy storage for a variety of end-use applications, both mobile and stationary…[Their] technical deficiencies… – namely short cycle lives and slow charging rates – have [not] thwarted their commercial success…

    “…[But] mobile and stationary applications…ranging from electrified vehicles to energy storage on the power grid, are demanding more dynamic energy storage services, which necessitates better technical performance characteristics (energy density, power density, charge acceptance) and lower lifecycle costs (improved battery cycle life). Conventional lead-acid batteries cannot provide the level of performance demanded…”

    “The increased adoption of renewable energy generation and advanced vehicle technologies, such as hybrid and stop-start vehicles, is driving innovation in the lead-based battery sector. New lead-based batteries are finding success in applications where batteries have a long history, such as vehicles, as well as new applications including grid storage for renewables integration…

    “…By 2020, Pike Research forecasts that advanced lead-acid batteries will capture roughly 25% of the global battery-based grid storage market, a small subset of the broader energy storage market. The market value for advanced lead-acid batteries in grid storage will be approximately $6.8 billion in 2020. Transportation applications, however, will still be the leading market for advanced lead-acid battery revenues…”


    Consumer Demand For Climate Solutions Leads To Expansion Of WindMade Label; Supported by UN Global Compact, WWF, GWEC and Vestas, WindMade announces development of new renewable energy label to recognize a wide variety of renewable energy sources

    4 December 2012 (WindMade)

    “…[The WindMade organisation will develop] a new consumer label for companies and products made using renewable energy. This will be backed by the UN Global Compact, WWF, Vestas Wind Systems, and the Global Wind Energy Council, the partners behind the WindMade eco-label…

    “WindMade was launched in 2011 as the first global consumer label for companies powered with wind energy. A range of major global companies including Motorola, Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank, Widex and BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) have already adopted the WindMade label to demonstrate their commitment to using renewable energy in their operations…”

    “The new label in the WindMade family will recognize a wide variety of renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, and geothermal, as well as hydro power and biomass from approved certification schemes. This will offer added flexibility to companies that use multiple renewable energy technologies …A global survey of 24,000 consumers across 20 countries…shows that 92 percent of consumers believe that renewable energy is a good solution to mitigating climate change, and that if presented with a choice, most of them would prefer products made with renewable energy, even at a premium…

    “The WindMade family of labels is founded on the principles of credibility, transparency and intuitive communication, which are critical for an eco-label to capture and retain the attention of consumers…The new label will build on the technical foundations of the WindMade standard and will be applicable to organizations, buildings, events and eventually products…The WindMade organization remains committed to grow and develop its portfolio of labels to cater to the need of sustainable brands around the world…The new renewable energy label…will be launched in 2013.”

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012


    PV demand in 2012 below 30GW? A sobering tonic as the industry goes to rehab

    Finlay Colville, 30 November 2012 (PVTech)

    “…2012 will definitely be remembered as…a year in which forecasts and guidance were rarely achieved…[and] being able to report ‘less amount of losses’ quarter on quarter was marketed as a success…[But] failure to hit the PV manufacturers’ demand ‘consensus’ from mid-year could…sober up the industry…2013-2014 would then be the rehabilitation phase (operating margin break-even) and 2015 the start of prolonged good health (profit-making)…

    “Typically, the PV industry started each calendar year with a general ‘consensus’ on annual PV demand. Historically, these levels erred heavily on the side of caution, with PV manufacturers not wishing to over commit…[W]hat transpired over the past few years in the PV industry was that final annual PV demand figures greatly exceeded the industry consensus reached during the first half of each calendar year. And more often than not, the catalyst for this was an eleventh-hour downstream installation frenzy ahead of a 31 December European policy level reset…”

    “By the middle of 2012, most manufacturers had settled on a figure of 30GW when pushed on annual PV demand. In private however, strong confidence did exist…[that] 2012 would follow trends of the previous years…[M]anufacturing largely proceeded…with inventory levels building up along the c-Si value-chain…But 2012 demand is somewhat different to previous years. First, most European countries have learned from previous year-end peaks and adjusted policies to curb these effects. And secondly, much of the mid-year optimism was based upon ambitious Q4 2012 demand targets in ‘new’ PV regions…[I]t is becoming more likely that the mid-year optimism is being replaced with the realisation that final year-end demand for 2012 will not follow the trends of previous years and will not provide a welcome upside boost…

    “The absence of a year-end surge in 2012…may finally provide the wake up call that puts an end to flooding the supply channels with product…[N]obody would advocate that the PV industry should revert to a ‘made-to-order’ production system…but the rehab process can only truly start when ASP stability has been achieved. And preventing oversupply is the single most important factor…”


    DOE-Funded Energy-Storage Hub Will Develop Solutions For Intermittent Renewable Energy

    03 December 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded up to $120 million over five years to a multi-partner team led by Argonne National Laboratory to establish a new batteries and energy-storage hub that will help develop new technology to take greater advantage of intermittent renewable energy sources like wind energy and solar power…

    “…[The] Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), will combine the research and development of five DOE national laboratories, five universities and four private firms in an effort to achieve advances in battery performance…[It] will be located on the Argonne National Laboratory campus in suburban Chicago…”

    “Other national labs partnering with Argonne include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory…

    “University partners include Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois-Chicago, the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and the University of Michigan. Four industrial partners have also joined: Dow Chemical Co., Applied Materials Inc., Johnson Controls Inc. and Clean Energy Trust.”


    Vehicle to Building Technologies; Energy Storage, Backup Power, Peak Shaving, and Building Operations Cost Reductions: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    4Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “In the coming decade, the energy stored in plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) batteries will increasingly be made available to commercial buildings with intelligent building energy management systems (BEMS) to proactively manage energy consumption and costs.

    “…[V]ehicle-to-building (V2B) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) [technologies] have the potential to provide storage capacity to benefit both vehicle and building owners by offsetting some of the higher cost of PEVs, lowering buildings’ energy costs, and providing reliable emergency backup services.”

    “…[P]ilot projects are now underway around the world to develop and test V2B technologies. The majority of these programs are part of larger projects that are testing microgrid and smart grid technologies. V2B is one element that is being integrated with renewable energy generation, smart buildings, smart EV charging, and in some cases, stationary backup storage…

    “…[T]he number of PEVs participating in the projects [is increasing but projects] are still at the scale of integrating hundreds, and not yet thousands of vehicles. Pike Research forecasts that annual investments in upgrades to vehicles and to buildings, which include power electronics, inverters, and power management software, will grow to more than $76 million worldwide by 2020…”

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012


    New Trade War Twist: India Now Investigating Solar Imports From U.S.

    Jessica Lillian, 29 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "Shortly after the completion of the U.S. Department of Commerce's investigation into Chinese solar exports, the U.S. now finds itself involved in…[India's] anti-dumping investigation into photovoltaic cells exported into India from the U.S…China, Malaysia and Taiwan…A coalition of India-based PV manufacturers, including Indosolar Ltd., Jupiter Solar Power Ltd. and Websol Energy Systems Ltd., filed the initial anti-dumping complaint…

    "…India's trade association has long been ‘publicly critical’ of imports from the U.S…India's solar trade probe joins several other pending investigations around the world, including two separate module-dumping cases filed by SolarWorld-led European group EU ProSun against China, as well as an investigation by China's Ministry of Commerce into alleged solar polysilicon dumping by the U.S. and South Korea…India's case includes not only crystalline silicon solar products but also thin-film products…"

    "...[Use] of thin-film modules from…First Solar and other U.S. manufacturers in Indian solar plants has been a particular source of longstanding tension…India's Centre for Science and Environment…publicly accused the U.S. of ‘killing’ Indian solar manufacturing by offering Indian solar developers low-interest loans through its Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corp. in exchange for mandating that the developers use solar products from the U.S…Although India's National Solar Mission rules require that projects eligible for the program use domestically manufactured modules, thin-film PV is currently exempt…

    "…[Next steps and the basic timeline] are expected to closely resemble those of the U.S. and EU solar trade probes…[A] key component will be detailed questionnaires on import quantities and pricing…[I]n the Solarworld-led U.S. solar trade case against China…[the] tariff rate for companies that did not participate in the investigation soared as high as 254.66%, while others saw tariffs ranging from 23.75% to 30.66%...[I]t is too soon to begin speculating on whether tariffs ultimately will be imposed…[Ultimately,] U.S. suppliers…may simply need to adjust their supply channels [through uninvolved countries like Mexico]…"


    Wind power output tops 10,000 MW in U.S. Midwest

    November 28, 2012 (Reuters)

    “Wind power output in the U.S. Midwest electrical grid surpassed 10,000 megawatts (MW) for the first time on Nov. 23, representing more than 25 percent of the generation being used at that time.

    “MISO manages more than 11,000 MW of installed wind generation in service, with more than 7,000 MW of projects under construction or development…[One megawatt] powers about 300 homes.”

    “Wind capacity in the MISO footprint has grown dramatically since 2006, when the grid began integrating wind into its market operations…[U]tilities are buying more wind to meet consumer demand for cleaner energy and because several states require power companies to acquire some of their energy from renewable sources.

    “MISO serves 11 U.S. Midwest states and the province of Manitoba in Canada…The biggest power companies in MISO include units of Duke Energy Corp, Xcel Energy Inc, Ameren Corp , Berkshire Hathaway Inc's MidAmerican Energy, DTE Energy Co and CMS Energy Corp…”


    Hat Trick for SeaGen Tidal Current Turbine

    2012 November 28 (Siemens)

    “The tidal current turbine installation SeaGen in Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough has achieved three power generation milestones…

    “…[T]he tidal current turbine has fed [a record breaking] more than six gigawatt hours of electrical power into the grid [since installation in 2008]…”

    “…[The] leap from five to six gigawatt hours took only 68 days to complete…the narrowest time frame for the generation of a single gigawatt hour since the turbine started operation. This is even more remarkable since this period also included a 9-day outage due to a number of reasons, among them routine engineering inspections.

    “During a strong spring tide on 14th October 2012, SeaGen achieved no fewer than 22.52 megawatt hours (MWh) - its highest level of power generation in a single day…”

    Monday, December 3, 2012


    China’s Clean-Energy Power Output Rises 48% in October

    November 22, 2012 (Bloomberg News)

    “Electricity generated from clean energy in China rose 48 percent to 92.7 billion kilowatt hours in October from a year ago as installations grew…In the year to October, electricity generated from clean- energy sources, including from hydro and nuclear plants, increased 26 percent to 810.2 billion kilowatt hours, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission said…”

    “That amounts to 20.4 percent of on-grid electricity, 3.6 percent higher from a year ago…Power from wind farms surged 40 percent last month compared with the same period a year earlier, SERC said. The nation added 7.2 gigawatts of wind-power generation capacity in the first 10 months, raising the total to about 56 gigawatts.”


    Global Wind Energy Outlook 2012: Global Wind Power Market Could Triple by 2020

    14 November 2012 (Global Wind Energy Council)

    “…[The fourth Greenpeace International and the Global Wind Energy Council] bi-annual report on the future of the wind industry…shows that wind power could supply up to 12% of global electricity by 2020, creating 1.4 million new jobs and reducing CO2 emissions by more than 1.5 billion tons per year, more than 5 times today’s level. By 2030, wind power could provide more than 20% of global electricity supply.”

    The Global Wind Energy Outlook paints a picture of three…scenarios out to 2020, 2030, and eventually to 2050; and then measures these scenarios against two different projections for the development of electricity demand: the first based on the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook, and another, more energy efficient future developed by the ECOFYS consultancy and researchers at the University of Utrecht…”

    “…[W]ind energy also uses no fresh water to generate electricity, a unique attribute (along with solar PV) which makes it an attractive option in an increasingly water-constrained world. Wind power is by definition an indigenous energy source, which is particularly useful to countries burdened with large fossil fuel import bills; and wind power is now competitive in an increasing number of markets, even when competing against heavily subsidised ‘conventional’ energy sources, with little or no financial compensation for its environmental and social benefits: zero CO2 emissions, zero water use, and no air or water pollution…”

    “Wind energy installations totalled 240 GW globally by the end of 2011, and the industry is set to grow by at least another 40 GW in 2012. By 2020, the IEA’s New Policies Scenario suggests that total capacity would reach 587 GW, supplying about 6% of global electricity; but the GWEO Moderate scenario suggests that this could reach 759 GW, supplying 7.7-8.3% of global electricity supply. The Advanced scenario suggests that with the right policy support wind power could reach more than 1,100 GW by 2020, supplying between 11.7-12.6% of global electricity…”


    Obama pipeline decision may preview energy policy

    Josh Lederman, December 1, 2012 (AP via San Jose Mercury-News)

    “…[President Barack Obama’s] next move on a proposed oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada may signal how he will deal with climate and energy issues…[He] is facing increasing pressure to determine the fate of the $7 billion Keystone XL project, with environmental activists and oil producers each holding out hope that the president, freed from the political constraints of re-election, will side with them…

    “On its surface, it's a choice between the promise of jobs and economic growth and environmental concerns. But it's also become a proxy for a broader fight over U.S. energy consumption and climate change…[Once content with delays,] opponents of Keystone XL have launched protests in recent weeks at the White House and in Texas urging Obama to kill the project outright. On Capitol Hill, support for the pipeline appears to be gaining…Obama has shown little urgency about the pipeline, which would carry crude oil about 1,700 miles from western Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries…”

    “…The pipeline requires State Department approval because it crosses an international boundary…[It was put] on hold while a plan was worked out to avoid routing it through Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region…TransCanada, the company applying to build it, revised the route, but that caused the lengthy environmental review process to start over. In the meantime, the company split the project into two parts, which didn't require Obama's signoff, but he gave part of it his blessing in March anyway, irking environmental activists who see the pipeline as a slap to efforts to reduce oil consumption and fend off climate change.

    “…[I]n an otherwise highly polarized political climate, access to affordable energy has become a rare issue with bipartisan appeal…Many Democrats from states whose economies depend on oil support the pipeline. So do some trade unions, whose workers stand to gain thousands of new construction jobs…[Republicans] generally support the project…[but] in Texas, a deep-red state that normally embraces the oil industry, the project has drawn intense opposition from landowners who argue their property along the pipeline's route is being unfairly condemned. Their complaints have fostered an unlikely alliance with environmentalists.”