NewEnergyNews More: February 2013

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  • Wednesday, February 27, 2013


    Fulfilling the Promise of U.S. Offshore Wind; Targeted State Investment Policies to Put an Abundant Renewable Resource within Reach

    February 22, 2013 (National Resources Defense Council)

    “Offshore wind is an inexhaustible resource that lies just off our shores…[According to the Department of Energy,] the United States could obtain 20 percent of its electricity from wind by 2030, and more than 15 percent of that wind power could come from offshore projects, totaling 54,000 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity…

    “…[Yet] zero MW of offshore wind capacity are installed or even under construction…[and] only three projects [are] in advanced stages of development…The underlying limiting factor for offshore wind development in the United States, a factor not found in places where the sector has advanced, is that the basic economic and financial conditions for offshore wind success are not in place…"

    “The way forward…[is to] put in place targeted investment polices that provide the revenue certainty and debt capacity necessary to make projects viable and attractive to the equity and debt investors [and make investors comfortable providing capital]…

    [Fulfilling the Promise of U.S. Offshore Wind] focuses on the German policy successes and the lessons they present for the United States and also briefly examines the very unsuccessful German approach to transmission as a cautionary tale that should not be replicated in the United States.”


    After The First 400 MW: Massachusetts Makes Plans For More Solar

    Jessica Lillian, 26 February 2013 (Solar Industry)

    “…Massachusetts is now seeking to avoid the dreaded drop-off point with its popular solar carve-out program, which began in 2009 and currently has a 400 MW cap in place. The administration of Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., recently announced that it had begun work on a new policy to sustain solar development past 400 MW [and overcome an oversupply of solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) and a draining of incentive funds]. The [Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER)] also plans to tweak carve-out compliance requirements and the queuing process for projects now in the market…

    “The DOER action comes as a relief to developers building in Massachusetts. With 150 MW installed last year alone, the industry can expect to hit the 400 MW cap soon…Industry stakeholders and the DOER itself are generally pleased with the results and mechanisms of the current program…PV system costs have dropped, fostering increased competition among integrators and their partners.”

    “Although the next version of the program may feature a few changes in order to tackle any vulnerabilities, the Massachusetts SREC market as a whole has managed to avoid much of the SREC pricing volatility seen in other states - most notably in New Jersey...First, the reactive design formula takes into account supply…[A] solar credit clearinghouse auction allows for [absorption of] any unsold credits…[and a mechanism preventing] SRECs exceeding the cap from entering the market…

    “By the time Massachusetts reaches that 401st megawatt, the DOER expects to have its new cap and associated plans in place…[A]t least one major stakeholder has already weighed in: The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) called on the commonwealth to triple or quadruple the 400 MW cap…citing New Jersey's 4 GW solar goal and Maryland's 1.3 GW solar goal…”


    Massive Wyoming wind farm developer to seek state permit

    Adam Voge, February 19, 2013 (Casper Star-Tribune)

    “…Power Company of Wyoming, developer of the [$5 billion] 1,000-turbine Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project…was set to file an application with the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council…[but delayed because of] now-dead legislation which…would have required companies…to spend at least 25 percent of the anticipated cost in the first two years after approval…

    “Now that the measure appears to be dead, the company plans to meet with the council…[The application is] among the last in a series of approvals needed for the project, which could generate between 2,000 and 3,000 megawatts of wind power…[Power Company of Wyoming remains determined to begin construction on the massive wind farm, targeting a possible 2014 groundbreaking. It has has spent about $25 million on project development so far]…”

    “If the project receives the permits and approvals to go forward, it would quickly become the backbone of Wyoming's emerging but sputtering wind energy industry. Developers statewide have lately faced issues both political and logistical in their efforts to farm and export Wyoming wind, a top-notch resource.

    “Chief among the hurdles facing Wyoming wind developers is a lack of transmission lines to carry the state's abundant resource to markets hungry for renewable energy. At least three major transmission line projects which could address the issue remain up in the air…TransWest Express-- owned by Power Company of Wyoming's parent company, Denver-based Anschutz Corp…would carry about 3,000 megawatts of power…to just south of Las Vegas…[A] draft of the federal Bureau of Land Management's environmental impact statement is expected this spring…”

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013


    PV Demand in the Asia Pacific Region to Reach 13.5 GW in 2013…Leading PV Countries in Asia Pacific Starting to Exhibit Diverse Market-Entry Conditions

    February 13, 2013 (SolarBuzz)

    “Solar photovoltaic (PV) demand from the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is forecast to grow to 13.5 GW in 2013, growing 50% Y/Y…China, Japan, India, and Australia…will account for 90% of APAC demand in 2013. However, discrete end-market demand environments are now evolving in each of these countries. As a result, PV suppliers and technologies are being selected in each territory based upon factors such as domestic manufacturing, policies, import duties, and customer preferences…

    “…[A] single go-to-market strategy…is no longer viable…In Australia, the elimination of the Solar Credit Multiplier, along with incentive reductions in Victoria and Queensland, will slow PV growth during 2013. In Japan, demand will peak during Q1’13, ahead of scheduled tariff reductions in April…The Chinese government will likely re-adjust the goals of its 12th Five-Year Solar Development Plan, and the country will see over 75% of its 7 GW demand in 2013 occur in 2H’13…In India, the final version of Phase II of the National Solar Mission program is still pending…[It could drive] a capacity increase from 3.7 to 9 GW, with an increased focus on the off-grid and rooftop sectors.”

    “The threat of further trade wars involving APAC countries, along with other import restrictions, is segmenting the APAC region into country and application-specific markets. Domestic content restrictions on imported modules into India may strongly affect c-Si supply from China or any thin-film imports to India.

    “The APAC region is becoming more selective about technologies. In Japan, high-efficiency modules have become the preferred technology for locations with constrained space. In China, domestically manufactured multi c-Si modules are satisfying ground-mounted requirements. And in India, 1 GW of new demand will come from rooftop projects under Phase II of the National Solar Mission, which could further shrink this key market for thin-film suppliers…”


    SD Senate panel endorses incentives for wind power

    Chet Brokaw, February 14, 2013 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “…[The] South Dakota Senate Commerce and Energy Committee voted 6-1 to pass a measure…that would provide financial incentives to encourage the stalled construction of wind power projects in the state…[The] construction of wind farms has drawn to a standstill in South Dakota because the state imposes much higher taxes during construction than neighboring states do.

    “…South Dakota currently would charge $7 million to $11 million in sales taxes and contractor's excise taxes during the construction phase of a typical wind farm. North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa would charge only $1 million to $2 million…[T]he committee approved a…[measure that] would give a wind project an incentive payment roughly equal to 2 percent of its final cost. For example, a $5 million project would get a $100,000 incentive payment. One costing $100 million would get a $2 million incentive payment…”

    “Rob Rebenitsch, director of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association, said South Dakota has 784 megawatts of installed wind power, while North Dakota has twice as much. Iowa has 4,536 megawatts of wind power installed…Rebenitsch said more than 13,000 megawatts of wind generation was installed across the nation last year in 192 projects costing $25 billion…[but] none of that generation was installed in South Dakota…

    “Wind energy officials said the bill is a good start, but they believe larger incentives are needed…Sen. Mark Johnston, R-Sioux Falls, said he objected to the bill because it deals with only one industry…[S]tate officials and legislators are making progress in devising an overall incentive program that would cover agricultural processing and all other kinds of large construction projects.”

    Monday, February 25, 2013


    … Global Lithium-ion Market to Double Despite Recent Issues; The market was valued at $11.7 billion at the end of 2012 - Fastest growth can be witnessed in the industrial and automotive segments

    21 February 2013 (Frost and Sullivan)

    “The global lithium-ion battery market was worth $11.7 billion in 2012 and is expected to double by 2016, according to Frost & Sullivan. This will happen despite the recent issues experienced by Boeing, and despite Airbus decision to abandon these batteries…

    “North America holds the highest share of revenues for consumer and industrial applications while Europe boasts the highest revenues for industrial lithium-ion batteries (LiBs). The highest growth in industrial battery demand is expected to come from APAC. China, Japan and South Korea account for close to 85-90% of the global LiB production.”

    “China…has the highest concentration of LiB manufacturers: over 200 players…[in] the consumer segment and around 30-40 companies for automotive…[and many] US companies…have been acquired by Chinese firms…[The] Obama administration’s ARRA funding…[started many LiB companies but many have gone] bankrupt with the funding drying up…[the] economic slowdown…[and the] high cost of EVs…[ Germany and Switzerland are strong contributors to R&D] among European countries and the demand for batteries comes from all the three segments: consumer, industrial and automotive...

    “The global LiB market holds immense opportunities for growth and expansion. Although the consumer segment is mature in developed economies, this still is a growing application in Latin America, China, [and] India…The highest potential for growth however is exhibited by the industrial applications. Manufacturers that were previously involved only on producing and selling batteries for the automotive segment…have started to sell LiBs for cordless power tools, forklifts, and garden equipment…”


    Wind generation records fall in Texas…

    Tom Gray, February 22, 2013 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    “…[T]he increased generating capacity installed last year continues to make its presence felt…On February 9, a strong weekend cold front that brought needed rain to much of Texas also propelled the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the utility system serving most of the state, to a new wind power record, with wind generation providing 9,481 MW of power at 7:08 p.m…

    “Under typical conditions, 1 MW of electricity can power approximately 800 average American homes…The wind generation provided nearly 28 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT at the time and easily surpassed--by 814 MW, or nearly 10 percent--the previous record of 8,667 MW set on January 29…”

    “…7,205 megawatts (MW) came from West Texas…1,620 MW came from the Texas Gulf Coast…431 MW came from North Texas…225 MW came from South Texas…ERCOT has more than 10,400 MW of commercial wind power capacity, with the addition of 372 MW in December. Wind power comprised 9.2 percent of total energy used in the ERCOT region in 2012, compared to 8.5 percent in 2011.

    “The completion of the remainder of the high-voltage transmission projects in the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones by the end of 2013 will continue to improve ERCOT’s ability to move wind power from West Texas to the metropolitan areas where demand on the grid is highest…”


    Wind generation records fall in…Colorado…

    Tom Gray, February 22, 2013 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    “…Xcel Energy in Colorado said February 12 that it…achieved a number of significant wind energy milestones [in 2012] that have continued through to this year. The highlight…came January 16 at 1 a.m., when the utility's system set a new record for wind generation of 1,960 MW.

    “The new record was spurred in part by the installation and commissioning in 2012 of a 400-MW wind farm built near Limon, Colo., by NextEra Energy Systems…[All the] output of that wind farm is purchased exclusively for Xcel Energy customers…”

    “…Colorado ranked 10th for new wind generation in 2012, adding 496 MW of new wind generating capacity statewide…[W]ind farms serving Xcel Energy Colorado customers generated 5.75 million megawatt-hours of electricity, or more than 16 percent of the approximately 35.9 million megawatt-hours sold during the year. This was a record for the company in Colorado and puts Xcel Energy squarely on the path of meeting its state mandate of 30 percent for wind generation sales by 2020.

    “…[That 5.75 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of wind generation] helped reduce carbon dioxide emission by an estimated 4,197,500 tons, or the equivalent emissions for the year of more than 793,000 vehicles. Estimated nitrogen oxide emissions were reduced by 4,310 tons…On April 15, [2012] Xcel Energy was serving [a record of] nearly 57 percent of its total, one-hour demand for electricity with wind generated in the state…”


    New wind output record in Pacific Northwest

    Tom Gray, February 22, 2013 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    “On February 16, a new record for wind output was set on the main utility system in the [Pacific Northwest’s Bonneville Power Administration] power system. Wind energy output peaked at 4,402 MW at 4:05 PM, breaking the previous record of 4,344 MW that was set on January 29.”

    [Michael Goggin, Manager of Transmission, AWEA:] "The new wind records being set by [this utility system] and others are testament to the fact that large amounts of wind power can be cost-effectively and reliably integrated into utility operations.”

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013


    Texas Wind Power Transmission Set To Skyrocket As Energy Exec Hints At End Of Nukes

    Tina Casey, February 10, 2013 (Clean Technica)

    “A $7 billion project that will send wind power from remote areas in West Texas to Dallas, Houston and other big cities is on the verge of completion, and that could pound yet another nail into the coffin for U.S. nuclear power and, for that matter, coal…When completed some time this year…3,500 miles of new line [will carry] up to 18,456 megawatts, and according to a trade news report, PUC is already looking to order more wind power transmission lines, apparently with connections to out of state markets…

    “…Christopher Crane, the CEO of energy giant Exelon…predicted that the influx of low cost wind power would lead the company to start shuttering its nuclear plants…Direct costs and risk management issues are already casting a shadow over the nuclear industry in Texas…In 2011, rival utility giant NRG was set to build two new power plants in Texas but backed off…The U.S. market isn’t the only place where nuclear energy is getting a chilly reception due to cost and safety concerns. The U.K.’s ambitious plan to build 10 new nuclear power plants just lost the backing of British utility Centrica, which is apparently going to concentrate its resources on renewable energy as well as natural gas.”

    “Coal is on even more shaky ground, partly because new wind farms and other clean energy facilities are beginning to offer more competitive alternatives, and also because existing coal power plants are being converted to other fuels, namely biomass and natural gas…As with nuclear power, the regulatory framework is also becoming more hostile to coal…Though the… domestic market for coal is drying up…U.S. coal companies have simply begun exporting more coal abroad…[and] pressure is mounting on Congress to allow more natural gas exports due to the domestic gas boom…

    “As for nuclear energy, the nation’s stock of aging nuclear facilities is creating one giant headache for local emergency planners to say nothing of ratepayers and taxpayers. It’s also creating a conundrum for diversified energy companies like Exelon, which operates the nation’s largest fleet of nuclear facilities but is also rapidly embracing wind and other renewables in its portfolio…Exelon’s first commercial wind farm only started operating in January 2012, and the company already has 44 wind projects operating in 10 different states…”


    What’s Happening with c-Si and Thin Film Pricing Categories?

    Michael Barker, February 14, 2013 (SolarBuzz)

    “…c-Si module pricing started 2012 with a larger quarterly decrease than thin film. But the pricing trends for c-Si and thin film modules were essentially parallel for the remainder of last year…Over the past year, thin film modules have retained higher ASPs than most c-Si modules, the exception being the higher prices obtained by c-Si Tier 1 Premium Brand products.

    “Two factors contribute to this trend. First, some thin film technologies have higher production costs than standard efficiency c-Si modules….ASPs may be higher than c-Si modules…[but] the margins on thin film products are not by default higher…”

    “Second, the higher price of some thin film products can also be due to their ability to fill niche markets not addressable by c-Si PV, such as low weight-bearing rooftops, non-uniform surfaces which require flexible substrates, or in low-light or high irradiation climates where sales teams are particularly effective in selling thin film components against c-Si modules.

    “There is still differentiation…End-users must determine the best product for their particular situation…[Brand] and bankability are also major factors when selecting PV components…With most companies offering 20+ year warranties, customers want to be assured that these obligations will be met in the future and will often pay more for such assurances…[C]omparative pricing…is certainly not the sole factor behind the purchase…”.


    SmartThings Aims to Deliver the Internet-Connected Home

    Brad Stone, February 14, 2013 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “…[SmartThings is] selling [home automation] kits with moisture sensors, power outlets, and motion detectors that turn previously dumb appliances such as fans and garage door openers into Internet-connected devices that can be controlled using the company’s smartphone apps…SmartThings is also trying to create the dominant platform for such devices, providing free open-source software tools to thousands of developers and hackers, in the hope they’ll find additional uses that will appeal to consumers. The goal is to connect appliances to each other, to the Web, and to their owners…

    “…[H]ome-automation companies’ various visions over the years, devices…were complicated and required either advanced coding skills or third-party installers to set them up…SmartThings raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site, last summer…In December the 30-employee company announced it had raised $3 million in seed funding from venture capital firm First Round Capital and prominent angel investors includingFacebook (FB)-backer Yuri Milner and actor Ashton Kutcher...”

    “…To seed the market, the company recently started [$299] shipping kits to its Kickstarter contributors…[allowing them to] connect their house lights to their home network so they can control them with their phone. It also comes with a motion detector that doubles as a burglar alarm and a moisture sensor that can alert an owner when the basement floods. All the equipment is controllable with SmartThings mobile apps…

    “…The high price for consumers is one reason some analysts question the viability of home-automation systems…SmartThings is also entering a market in which…[t]he stylish Nest Learning Thermostat, which adapts to its owners’ daily routines, is one of the best-selling accessories in Apple stores despite its $250 price tag. SmartThings’ approach—bringing Internet smarts into any device in the home—contrasts sharply with Nest’s strategy of targeting a single product…”

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013


    San Antonio, Austin support 85 percent of Texas solar energy installations; Legislature considering bills to help expand solar to rest of state

    February 14, 2013 (Environment Texas)

    “The municipally owned utilities in San Antonio and Austin have supported the installation of four times more solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity than the rest of Texas combined or 85 percent of the state total, according to Reaching for the Sun: How San Antonio and Austin Are Showing that Solar Is a Powerful Energy Option for Texas

    “CPS Energy, which serves San Antonio and surrounding areas, reports solar energy installations of 52.6 megawatts (MW) while Austin Energy reports 41.3 MW. Oncor, the utility serving Dallas, Fort Worth and other areas, is a distant third with 9.89 MW. On the basis of installed solar energy per customer account, Austin Energy has 0.099 kW per account, CPS energy 0.073 kw, and El Paso Electric takes third with 0.005 kW.”

    “…[The Environment Texas Research and Policy Center report] credits San Antonio and Austin’s strong policies that encourage solar power on residences and businesses, and in utility-scale installations…[S]olar energy can help reduce the need for coal and natural gas power plants that cause air pollution, contribute to global warming, and use excessive amounts of precious water for cooling…[A] recent study by the operator of Texas’ electricity grid (ERCOT) [showed] that the most cost-effective way to meet the state’s growing need for electricity on the hottest summer days is to add solar and wind energy generating capacity rather than natural gas-fired power plants.

    “…According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Texas has the potential to generate more than 100 times our current electric use from solar power. But despite the leadership of San Antonio and Austin, Texas ranks just 13th in the nation for installed solar…[S]everal bills filed in the Legislature which could help expand the state’s use of solar energy…”


    New Yorkers' Green Helps Wind Power Supply More Of The Power Grid

    Jill Urban, February 10, 2013 (NY1)

    “…[T]he Barcade bar in Williamsburg…[a]Brooklyn hotspot is 100-percent powered by wind energy…Because the bar operates more than 30 arcade games, it consumes more energy than the average bar. Kermizian and the other owners decided to reduce their carbon footprint by turning to wind, and more and more New Yorkers are asking energy suppliers like Con Edison Solutions to do the same.

    “…[A]bout 20,000 residential customers…buy wind from [Con Edison]…[It is] becoming more mainstream…[like] recycling…[although many do not yet] know this is an option or that it is an easy way to have a big impact on the environment.”

    “To switch to wind energy, customers do not need to put wind turbines on their roof. Instead, they need to call their utility companies and say they want to switch to a different supplier…That new supplier will purchase the energy from a wind farm on the customer's behalf. Electricity will still be delivered through the same utility company on the same wires, but now wind energy consumers are helping to put renewable power into the grid instead of power produced by fossil fuel generation…

    “…[The estimated] added cost for an average-size city apartment to switch to wind power is about the same as a few cappuccinos per month…[I]t is a small price to pay to offset one's impact on the environment.”


    New Report Shows Clean Energy’s Positive Impact on North Carolina’s Economy and Utility Rates; Since 2007, clean energy investments have created thousands of jobs.

    February 18, 2013 (North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association)

    “… The Economic, Utility Portfolio, and Rate Impact of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina [from RTI International and La Capra Associates, Inc]…is an economic analysis focused on the impacts of clean energy policy in the state…[commissioned by the] North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA)…[It] found that the key policy drivers of clean energy development in North Carolina include the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), renewable energy investment tax credit, and Utility Savings Initiative.

    “…[K]ey findings include…Clean energy policies are costing electricity ratepayers less than they would have paid without these policies. By 2026, this switch to clean energy will lead to $173 million in cost savings for electricity customers…While the broader North Carolina economy lost more than 100,000 jobs from 2007-2012, the state experienced a net gain in [clean energy development] of 21,162 job years…Tax credits taken by renewable energy projects…generated $1.87 in state or local revenue for every $1.00 of incentive…[and] clean energy policies…[generated $113 million] in net revenue…”

    “…Between 2007 and 2012, clean energy investment…increased 13-fold and generated or saved an estimated 8.2 million MWh of energy…[S]tate government energy efficiency programs saved the government an estimated $427 million of taxpayer money…[And] the total economic benefit of clean energy development in North Carolina was $1.7 billion and generated $2.56 billion in associated spending in the state economy…[M]ore than $100 million of new clean energy investment [came in just three rural counties]…

    “…[The NC] clean energy industry includes over 1,100 companies found in all regions of our state…[and] includes renewable energy, energy efficiency, high performance building, smart grid, energy storage and electric vehicles…These companies generated at least $3.7 billion in annual revenues from in-state and out-of- state activity. Based on filings with the NC Utilities Commission, there are nearly 2,300 installed or planned renewable energy systems…”

    Monday, February 18, 2013


    Energy Department, Treasury Announce Availability of $150 Million in Tax Credits for Clean Energy Manufacturers

    February 7, 2013 (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program/U.S. Department of Energy)

    As part of President's Obama's all-of-the-above approach to American energy, the U.S. Departments of Energy and the Treasury…[has made] $150 million in Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing projects across the United States…

    “The [48C] Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit was established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [in 2009] to support investment in domestic clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing facilities through a competitively-awarded 30% investment tax credit. The initial round provided $2.3 billion in credits to 183 projects across the country…[These] $150 million in tax credits…were not used by the previous awardees.”

    “Over the past four years, the United States has more than doubled clean, renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources, and has strengthened its position as a global leader in the clean energy race. At the same time, the American manufacturing sector has begun to rebound, with 500,000 manufacturing jobs added since the beginning of 2010. These tax credits will help continue this growth…

    “…These remaining tax credits will be allocated on a competitive basis. Projects will be assessed by the Department of Energy based on the following criteria: commercial viability, domestic job creation, technological innovation, speed to project completion, and potential for reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The Department of Energy will also consider additional factors including diversity of geography, technology, project size, and regional economic development…”


    GE to buy two Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants in Spain...

    2013 February 13 (Helioscsp)

    “...[T]aking steps to reduce its massive debt…[ACS] has reached an agreement…[with General Electric for the concentrating solar power (CSP) Manchasol I and II parabolic trough projects]…in Alcazar de San Juan and CityReal [in Spain]…Both assets [are] already in operation, totaling about 100 megawatts of power…[A final price has not yet been announced]…

    “…[Spain’s] Minister of Energy…[just announced] the fourth electricity reform that, unlike the previous ones, also punishes [the country’s many CSP projects owned primarily by Abengoa, Acciona, and ACS…[The amount of the tariff cut-back is not yet clear but the value of the assets will be reduced because it will not] be updated according to the CPI, but with inflation…[The loss is estimated at] 3% annually…”

    “Manchasol complex is the third largest in Europe and fourth in the world. The second plant built in Ciudad Real was the eighth of those developed by ACS in the boom of renewable energy in the stage where Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian subsidized the implementation of all types of clean energy.

    “However, because of its huge debt, the holding company…was forced to divest assets valued renewable at 5,000 million euros [though deals have only been closed on half o them to date. Still for sale are the Andasol CSP project and placement five wind farms]…”


    Ideal Power Converters Achieves Key Certification for Grid Storage Battery Converter; Higher efficiency and lower installed cost of storage expected to result

    February 6, 2013 (Ideal Power Converters)

    “…[The] Ideal Power Converters (IPC)…30kW Battery Converter has…[won UL1741 certification for safety and grid compatibility. The distributed generation technology…supplies power to the electric grid…

    “IPC has invented and patented indirect Energy Packet Switching™ topology that uses a standard lightweight hardware design and embedded application-specific software to serve the fragmented multi-billion dollar power conversion market…”

    “IPC’s initial focus is on photovoltaic (PV), grid storage, and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure applications…[The] Battery Converter provides both battery charging and inverter functions…[For] grid-storage applications [it could provide] commercial peak demand reduction, utility load shifting, buffer storage for EV fast charging, and bi-directional EV charging…

    “IPC’s 30kW Battery Converter weighs only 97lbs, much less than the weight of conventional bi-directional battery chargers…reducing shipping and installation costs by up to 90 percent. It is built on the same Universal Power Converter Platform™ as the Company’s initial PV inverter product…[and] provides greater than 96 percent charging and inverter efficiency on average…”

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013


    Statement by AWEA Interim CEO Rob Gramlich on President Obama’s State of the Union speech

    February 12, 2013 (American Wind Energy Association)

    [Rob Gramlich, Interim CEO, AWEA:] “President Obama called on Congress to strengthen the stewardship we all share for our environment…put more Americans to work in clean energy jobs and manufacturing…[and] double generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources by 2020…[He] called on Congress to make the renewable energy Production Tax Credit permanent and refundable, as part of comprehensive corporate tax reform, providing incentives and certainty for investments in new clean energy.”

    [Rob Gramlich, Interim CEO, AWEA:] "We are proud to be recognized for producing nearly half of the nation's new electric capacity last year, creating tens of thousands of jobs, and as a central climate solution…With over 60 gigawatts of wind power generating capacity now installed in America, wind energy will avoid nearly 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions this year, equal to 1.8% of the entire country's total carbon emissions.”

    [Rob Gramlich, Interim CEO, AWEA:] "Utility-scale wind power was invented here, and increasingly the parts are made-in-the-U.S.A. Domestic content in the U.S. industry is up to nearly 70 percent, from 25 percent just a few years ago. That has created 30,000 American jobs in wind manufacturing, and further brought down the cost of wind energy now that we're making most of the parts right here in the U.S.A…Policymakers all over should be recognizing the opportunity and supporting the growth of clean energy in their own states, such as through robust state Renewable Portfolio Standards.”

    [Rob Gramlich, Interim CEO, AWEA:] “Private investors put $25 billion into the U.S. economy in 2012 and got the signal from the [the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC)] extensions that the U.S. is still open for clean energy business. This is what successful policy looks like…America's homegrown wind energy industry is ready to work with President Obama and the U.S. Congress to advance the goals of energy independence and clean, renewable power that is available and affordable for all Americans."


    SEIA Statement on President Obama's State of the Union Address

    February 12, 2013 (Solar Energy Industries Association)

    [Rhone Resch, President/CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association:] “In tonight’s State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a vision for the American energy economy that is in line with what SEIA is working to achieve – a robust clean energy industry that powers our homes and businesses while growing our economy and protecting our environment.”

    [Rhone Resch, President/CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association:] “Energy is a primary input to our nation’s economic system, so it’s appropriate that President Obama is placing emphasis on developing our nation’s robust clean energy resources to help rebuild the nation’s economy.”

    [Rhone Resch, President/CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association:] “We are especially encouraged by the president’s commitment to securing America’s place as a leader in clean energy innovation throughout the world. President Obama understands that the stakes are high and we must not fall behind other nations as the world shifts to emissions-free clean energy technologies like solar.”

    [Rhone Resch, President/CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association:] “We thank President Obama for his leadership and look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the White House to make solar an increasingly-important component of the nation’s energy portfolio.”


    Off-Grid Power for Mobile Base Stations; Renewable and Alternative Energy Sources for Remote Mobile Telecommunications: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    1Q 2013 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Demand for high quality, high reliability off-grid power is increasing yearly. In the coming years, a significant fraction of this demand will be met by some form of hybrid system that includes renewable or alternative energy sources…[There] is growing demand for reliable, non-diesel-based energy sources from off-grid base transceiver stations for mobile communications networks.”

    “Diesel generators, a solution that presents a number of economic, logistical, and environmental challenges, remain by far the most common energy source for such remote base stations. This market is small when compared with grid-tied base stations. But the level of market pain is such that [Pike Research forecasts that revenue from] the so-called “green base station,” which is essentially a combination of renewable, battery, and fuel cell technologies, …will grow from $1.6 billion in 2012 to more than $10.5 billion in 2020…”

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013


    Developer Makes The Case For Urban Wind Energy Development

    Mark Del Franco, 31 January 2013 (North American Windpower)

    “Kruger Energy's 100 MW Monteregie wind farm, located 20 km outside of Montreal…[is visible] from the roofs of downtown skyscrapers…Commissioned on Dec. 12, 2012, the wind farm features 44 Enercon E82 wind turbines perched on 98-meter hybrid towers made of steel and concrete. The project is the result of nearly five years of company outreach and continual communication with the local communities…

    “From the outset in 2008, Kruger canvassed the surrounding municipalities…to provide project updates and to answer questions from residents…Developing a utility-scale project so close to an urban location is especially significant to the growing issue of social acceptance, which will gain greater attention as wind projects continue to move closer to urban locations...[It] is the No.1 strategic priority of the Canadian Wind Energy Association…”

    “…[T]here is no standard practice for gaining local acceptance…[P]ublic scrutiny requires wind developers to adopt best practices…[Monteregie wind farm] modifications included reducing the number of turbines from 50 to 44 by using a 2.3 MW version of the E82 machine. Additionally… no house is closer than 750 meters - even though some municipalities only require 500-meter setbacks…

    “…[Kruger Energy] was awarded a contract for the Monteregie project following Hydro-Quebec's 2005 call for power…[T]he Monteregie project's proximity to load…helped to secure the bid…[A]dding generation closer to load centers minimizes transmission line losses…[because] power losses on the…transmission system are mostly related to the length and the voltage of a line…[and average] 5.4% of the energy transmitted…”


    New Survey: Westerners Link Public Lands to Economic Prosperity, Quality of Life Strong majorities reject selling off public lands; want protections for sensitive lands subject to drilling and prioritize renewable energy production in their state.

    February 7, 2013 (Colorado College State of the Rockies Project)

    “Westerners place a strong value on public lands, saying they are “essential” to their state’s economy and quality of life, according to the 2013 Colorado College State of the Rockies Conservation in the West poll…

    “This year’s bipartisan survey of 2,400 Westerners, representing a cross section of the region’s population, found near unanimous — 91 percent — agreement that public lands like national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife areas are an essential part of their state’s economy…79 percent believe public lands support their economy and enhance their overall quality of life…52 percent perceive public lands to be a job creator in their state…”

    “The survey also illuminates Westerners’ view of energy production. For the second year in a row, Westerners vastly prefer that renewable energy development be encouraged in their state rather than nuclear power or fossil fuels.

    Drilling on public lands has flown under the radar of most Westerners. Only 34 percent of those interviewed knew with certainty that oil and gas drilling occurs on public lands. Those polled call for a balanced approach to any energy development occurring in these areas, with 56 percent saying that environmentally sensitive public lands should be permanently protected from this type of activity…”


    Smart Cities Infrastructure, Information, and Communications Technologies for Energy, Transportation, Buildings, and Government: City and Supplier Profiles, Market Analysis, and Forecasts

    1Q 2013 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “The next 40 years will see an unprecedented transformation in the global urban landscape. Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people living in cities will increase from 3.6 billion to 6.3 billion. Almost all of that growth will occur in developing countries.

    “By 2025 there will be 37 megacities, each with a population greater than 10 million; 22 of those cities will be in Asia. The impacts of this new phase of urbanization on the global economy and on existing urban infrastructure and resources are already…spurring innovation in urban design, technologies, and services.”

    “Trillions of dollars will be spent on urban infrastructure in this period, presenting an immense opportunity for new transport management systems, smart grids, water monitoring systems, and energy efficient buildings…

    “…Information and communication technologies will be deeply embedded in the fabric of both old and new cities and will change…city operations and how we live and work…Pike Research forecasts that the smart city technology market will grow from $6.1 billion annually in 2012 to $20.2 billion in 2020…”

    Monday, February 11, 2013


    Energy Funding Outlook Looks Bleak as Obama Begins Second Term; Cuts and a decade of stagnation loom ahead for renewed clean energy funding.

    Kevin Bullis, February 1, 2013 (MIT Technology Review)

    “As a result of impending mandatory spending cuts known as sequestration…federal support for clean energy, which received a $90 billion jolt from the stimulus package four years ago, is likely to decrease…Under sequestration, across-the-board cuts would go into effect in March, and be followed by a decade-long funding cap…The mandatory cuts could be avoided by Congress, but key congressional staffers say that looks unlikely.

    “The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has analyzed the impact of the cuts on R&D. Originally, the cuts would have lowered defense-related R&D by 9.1 percent and non-defense R&D, such as at the DOE, by 7.6 percent. As a result of the tax deal, the cuts are lowered for fiscal year 2013 to 7.6 percent for defense and 5.1 percent for non-defense R&D, but the full cuts would go into place next year. After that, spending is supposed to stay flat for a decade.”

    “If the across-the-board cuts happen, they will affect all parts of federal energy R&D, including programs at national labs and federally funded research at companies and universities…[It’s] not clear how much flexibility agencies will have to move money around to protect high-priority programs…[because the] law calls for across-the-board cuts. Of course, Congress has the power to change the law if it wants to.

    “Avoiding sequestration would require a focused effort on the part of the Obama administration, and would likely require finding alternative ways to achieve similar overall cost reductions. One way to protect R&D might be to siphon money away from some subsidy programs…For example, current subsidies for wind currently go mostly to established technologies. Shifting that to funding for next generation offshore wind turbines could have a bigger impact on clean energy innovation…”


    Report: Climate change could devastate agriculture; A comprehensive USDA study concludes rising temperatures could cost farmers millions as they battle new pests, faster weed growth and get smaller yields as climate change continues.

    Christopehr Doering, February 5, 2013 (USA Today)

    “Climate change could have a drastic and harmful effect on U.S. agriculture, forcing farmers and ranchers to alter where they grow crops and costing them millions of dollars in additional costs to tackle weeds, pests and diseases that threaten their operations…[According to Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States the Agriculture Department] although] U.S. crops and livestock have been able to adapt to changes in their surroundings for close to 150 years, the accelerating pace and intensity of global warming during the next few decades may soon be too much for the once-resilient sector to overcome…

    “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 2012 was the hottest year ever in the USA since record-keeping began in 1895, surpassing the previous high by a full degree Fahrenheit. The country was battered by the worst drought in more than 50 years, and crops withered away in bone-dry fields across the Midwest.”

    “In the report, researchers said U.S. cropland agriculture will be fairly resistant to climate change during the next quarter-century…Farmers will be able to minimize the impact of global warming on their crops by changing the timing of farming practices and utilizing specialized crop varieties more resilient to drought, disease and heat, among other practices…[but by] the middle of the century and beyond, adaptation becomes more difficult and costly as plants and animals that have adapted to warming climate conditions will have to do so even more — making the productivity of crops and livestock increasingly more unpredictable…

    “Temperature increases and more extreme swings in precipitation could lead to a drop in yield for major U.S. crops and reduce the profitability of many agriculture operations…[because] higher temperatures cause crops to mature more quickly, reducing the growing season and yields as a result. Faster growth could reduce grain, forage, fiber and fruit production if the plants can't get the proper level of nutrients or water… Among the biggest threat to crops from rising temperatures and accelerated levels of carbon dioxide is an increase in the cost for the agricultural industry to control weeds, a challenge that tops more than $11 billion annually…”


    Building Energy Management Technology Landscape

    Eric Bloom and Bob Gohn, 1Q 2013 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “The market for building energy management systems (BEMSs) comprises hundreds of vendors offering thousands of products aimed at using building-related energy data to reduce energy costs…[that] vary…

    “Vendors have historically focused on BEMSs based on a single source (building automation system (BAS) data, utility bills, operational data, etc.), but an increasing number of players are looking to integrate multiple data sets into powerful, enterprise-level energy management platforms.”

    “…[T]he two main functions of a BEMS have been energy visualization and energy analytics to provide basic dashboard views and recommendations regarding potential energy conservation measures. These will remain the foundation of BEMSs…

    “…[O]ther applications, such as demand response, operations/facility management, continuous commissioning, energy procurement, and rapid energy modeling, are starting to enhance and differentiate certain vendors’ BEMS offerings. In the future, BEMSs will serve an important role in enhancing building-to-grid and vehicle-to-building interconnections through the intelligent use of digital building-related energy data…”