NewEnergyNews More: March 2013

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  • Wednesday, March 27, 2013


    Wind blowing against Alexander's energy arguments; Sen. Lamar Alexander has long opposed a tax credit for wind energy and thinks that modern windmills are a blight on the landscape, but the sector continues to grow in some areas of the country.

    Paul C. Barton, March 26, 2013 (USA Today)

    “…[U]tilities, including [Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander’s] Tennessee Valley Authority, are finding they like wind power more and more…[but] Alexander, up for re-election in 2014, argues the country needs 100 new nuclear plants to ensure low cost and clean power for the 21st century…[and] has this year renewed efforts to strip the wind industry of a [2.2 cents per kilowatt hour] tax credit, in existence since 1992, for new power it brings on line…[It costs] the federal government about $1.5 billion annually…[but] produce at least $18 in capital investment for every dollar they cost…

    “…[Wind farms return far more in tax revenues to all levels of government than they receive in subsidies…And farmers receive lease payments for allowing the turbines on their land, even as they plant and harvest right alongside of them]…In 2012, more wind energy — 13,124 megawatts — was added to the U.S. electric grid than any other form of power. Of all U.S. power, 4% now comes from wind…”

    “…Texas, in fact, is No. 1 in wind capacity with 12,212 megawatts of capacity, followed by California with 5,549 and Iowa with 5,137…Nine states now get 10% or more of their power from wind, with Iowa getting more than 20%. California is on course to get more than a third of its supply from wind by 2020, and a recent Department of Energy study predicted wind could supply 20% of the nation's supply by 2030…

    “…[U]tilities, especially in the Midwest, are finding that wind…[from] wind farms of the Great Plains is often cheaper than other power sources, especially at night…[M]any are using wind to displace nuclear…[and] entering into long-term contracts with wind sources as a hedge against future volatility in natural gas and oil prices…[Alexander’s home state TVA has, since 2010,] entered into six contracts that can provide it with a maximum of 1,515 megawatts of…the 34,000 megawatts it has from other sources, primarily nuclear and fossil fuel plants…[and] is contemplating the purchase of an additional 500 megawatts…”


    Extended nuclear plant outages raise Southern California wholesale power prices

    March 26, 2013 (U.S. Energy Information Adminstration)

    “The outages of both units at Southern California Edison's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), starting in January 2012, have created a persistent spread in wholesale power prices between Northern and Southern California.

    “Historically, wholesale power prices for Northern and Southern California tracked closely with one another, indicating minimal market differences between the two areas. However, after the shutdown of SONGS in early 2012, the relatively inexpensive nuclear generation produced by SONGS had to be replaced with power from more expensive sources. Consequently, since April 2012 Southern California power prices have persistently exceeded Northern California prices, with the spread averaging $4.15/MWh, or 12% of the Northern California price.”

    “Relative differences in natural gas prices do not seem to be driving the gap between Northern and Southern California power prices…[T]his difference accounts for less than $1 per megawatt-hour…[H]igher wholesale power prices in Southern California more likely are attributable to the need for more-expensive generation…in the densely populated Los Angeles and San Diego regions…[where] alternative sources…are more expensive…

    “In 2012, the continuing SONGS closure put pressure on the electric power grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), to adjust both generation and transmission in order to meet summer demand for electricity, and in general, continues to change the generation profile in the area…[CAISO has] requested changes to a transmission constraint rule in an attempt to resolve transmission congestion that is contributing to higher prices…[Restarting SONGS]…requires the approval of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)…[which is expected] after May 2013.


    Apple Inc. Powering Data Centers With 100% Renewable Energy 26 March 2013 (North American Windpower) “Technology giant Apple Inc. says that all of its data centers now use 100% renewable energy, including power from wind, solar, geothermal and hydro resources…[It has also achieved use of] 75% renewable energy [at its facilities] worldwide - through a combination of on-site solar and fuel cell projects, renewable energy credits, and direct purchase of electricity from renewable energy projects.”

    “In California, for example, Apple is powering its Newark data center and Cupertino corporate headquarters with wind energy purchased from nearby wind farms. [According to its current environmental footprint report, Apple] will continue developing and procuring renewable energy until all of its facilities run on 100% renewables.”

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    GOOGLE WANTS MORE WIND Thanks To PTC Extension, Google 'Actively Looking' To Procure Wind Energy

    12 March 2013 (North American Windpower)

    “Encouraged by the extension of the production tax credit (PTC), Google will continue to work with utilities to procure wind energy to power the company's data centers…[T]he company is actively looking at wind projects in the Midwest…

    “Google is leading a growing number of industrial users that serve as wind power off-takers. According to the American Wind Energy Association, at least 18 companies purchased wind energy under long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) or direct ownership from on-site generators. At least 11 schools and universities, as well as eight towns or cities, also joined the list of nontraditional power purchasers.”

    “Google’s initial foray into wind energy procurement dates back to 2010, when the company worked directly with NextEra Energy Resources…[T]he company has since refined its approach to wind energy procurement [taking direct delivery at its data centers]…Google has also invested $1 billion in renewable energy projects, such as the 845 MW Shepherds Flat wind farm, located in Oregon; the massive Alta Wind Energy Center, located in Southern California; the Atlantic Wind Connection, a proposed transmission backbone for offshore wind projects; and four solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in Southern California.

    “Although Google has a 1.7 MW solar PV installation at its Mountain View, Calif.-based headquarters, the company is waiting until costs decrease before making more investments in solar…Google’s commitment to sustainable energy is part of the company's goal of becoming carbon neutral…”


    The Making of a Midwestern Solar Energy Standard

    John Farrell, March 14, 2013 (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

    “…[The Minnesota state legislature House Energy Policy Committee] voted 8-6 to approve a 4% by 2025 solar energy standard, with an innovative new approach to financing solar power. It’s a powerful first step for what would be one of the more robust policies to support distributed, local solar power in the country…

    …[The] Solar Standard…sets a timeline for utilities to add solar to their electricity mix…0.5% of electricity sales by 2016…2.0% of electricity sales by 2020…4.0% of electricity sales by 2025…And, an “objective” of 10% solar by 2030…[but it] is not a carve-out of the existing 25% by 2025 renewable energy standard…”

    “…[T]he legislation [also] requires utilities to mimic the VOS calculation popularized by Austin Energy in Texas, essentially setting a market price for solar power (per kilowatt-hour) on the basis of its value [in seven ways] to the grid…Line loss savings from avoided electricity imports on the transmission and distribution grid…[S]avings from avoiding upgrades to transmission and distribution…[S]avings from reducing wholesale energy purchases…[S]avings from offsetting the need for new (peak) capacity…Fuel price hedge value from a zero fuel cost…Environmental benefits…Economic benefits from the growth of the state’s solar industry…”

    “The VOS price will be combined with a production-based incentive (PBI) to offer solar energy generators a price sufficient to provide a reasonable return…Utilities must develop and use a standard [20 year] contract…This dramatically simplifies the financing and development of distributed solar…[growing] a diversity of utility-scale and distributed solar…[The standard] promises to deliver over 2,100 megawatts of solar power…create over 8,000 jobs and…[add] $5.8 billion in the state’s economy in the next decade….[at] a forecast blended cost per kilowatt-hour (for the incentive) of just 2.7¢ per kWh…”


    San Onofre: Restart plan would cost customers $150M more than replacement power; Edison financials show keeping reactor shut down three times cheaper than startup

    Adam Russell, March 22, 2013 (Friends of the Earth)

    “…[After both reactors at the crippled San Onofre nuclear power plant being offline for 14 months, restarting one of them] this summer would cost Southern California Edison’s customers three times as much as keeping it shut down and buying [readily available] power from other sources, according to an independent analysis commissioned by Friends of the Earth.

    “In an emergency motion filed today with the California Public Utilities Commission, Friends of the Earth said Edison’s own figures show that restarting reactor Unit 2 and running it at partial power for five months, as the utility proposes, would cost almost $150 million more than buying readily available replacement power on the open market. If Edison can’t justify that cost, the group said, the PUC should rule at once that Edison cannot pass those costs on to consumers, which could lead to Edison deciding to keep it closed…”

    “The analysis…found that Edison’s publicly reported cost of operating San Onofre in 2012 was $640 million -- an amount charged to customers even though the plant produced electricity for just one month. The cost of replacement power was $175 million for the year. Scaling Edison’s figures to five months of operation shows that operating Unit 2 would cost about $214 million, versus $66 million for replacement power…

    “…Friends of the Earth asked the PUC to…[to require of Edison] a cost-benefit analysis for its restart plan within two weeks…[T]he issue is an emergency because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has indicated that it could rule as early as May whether to allow Edison to restart the reactor and run it at 70 percent power for five months -- an untested experiment that could further damage the plant’s severely worn steam generators -- this damage already caused the release of radioactive steam in January 2012…”

    Monday, March 25, 2013


    China Faces $243 Billion Climate Finance “Gap” Per Year By 2020, Exploring Reforms To Expand Clean Tech Investment

    22 March 2013 (The Clean Revolution)

    “China will need to raise up to US$243 billion of additional funds per year by 2020 in order to adequately finance action to curb the impacts of climate change and invest in low carbon development, according to… [Shaping China’s Climate Finance Policy, [commissioned by the Chinese government’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and]authored by The Climate Group and the Research Centre for Climate and Energy Finance at [China’a] Central University of Finance and Economics…calls for a two stage plan to reform China’s climate finance mechanisms by 2020…[In 2012, China] accounted for one quarter of global investment in renewables, spending US$67.7 billion – a 20% increase on 2011. China’s goal is to have 15% of its total energy demand sourced from non-fossil energy by 2020.

    “…[T]he report’s authors estimate that achieving China’s 2015 and 2020 emission intensity targets (a 17% cut vs 2010 levels and a 40-45% cut vs 2005 levels respectively), will require a total investment of up to US$333 billion by 2015, escalating to US$413 billion by 2020…Current public and private funds are not sufficient to cover the required investment, resulting in a financing “gap” of around 2% of China’s projected GDP in 2015 – or up to US$214 billion - increasing to US$208-243 billion by 2020…Plugging this gap will depend on both increased public sector finance, but also on a larger role for private sector financing especially after 2015. To ensure this happens, China will need to create the framework and incentives that can leverage large amounts of private finance using the still significant – and increasing – levels of public funding…”

    “…[T]he key climate finance challenges China currently faces…[include, 1] Implementation of national climate change laws…[2] Establishing a 'horizontal' coordination agency to connect government bodies…and commercial banks to…foreign investment…[and] development finance institutes, including a National Climate Fund (NCF) and a Green Investment Bank...[and,3] Establishing a Carbon Trading Regulatory Commission…

    “…[A] range of policy reforms could also be made…[including, 1] ‘Green’ the current tax system…[2] Reform environmental pricing policy…[3] Improve environmental finance services and through reforms make it easier for low carbon enterprises to publicly list and issue bonds…[4] Use market mechanisms to promote energy efficiency…[5, Pursue] International climate funds…[6], Use China’s Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs)…total assets of some US$1.1 trillion…[and] capital managed by the National Council for Social Security Fund…[7] Accelerate implementation of national carbon market…[8] Reduce fossil fuel subsidies…[9] Strengthen Green Credit Policy…[and, 9] Leverage non-traditional sources of capital…”


    Off-Shore Wind Energy Legislation Passes in Maryland

    Perry Stein, March 19, 2013 (NBC Washington)

    “After more than three failed attempts, [Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s] proposal to encourage the development of a wind energy industry in the state finally passed the General Assembly.

    “The legislation calls for dozens of gigantic wind turbines along Maryland’s Atlantic coast and would require residents to pay up to an extra $1.50 a month on their electricity bills if the turbines are built.”

    “This rate hike would go to fund a subsidy of up to $1.7 billion over 20 years to a company that can successfully develop this offshore wind energy…The bill would also require electricity suppliers in Maryland to get up to 2.5 percent of their power from offshore wind as early as 2017.

    “Despite opposition to the costs, the…bill passed easily in the House…with an 88-48 vote and relatively minor changes to the Senate bill. The legislation now heads to O'Malley's desk for his signature.”


    Market Data: Microgrids; Forecasts for Commercial/Industrial, Community/Utility, Campus/Institutional, Military, and Remote Microgrids: 2013-2020

    1Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “The microgrid market is currently moving into full-scale commercialization with the launch of dozens of successful pilot programs globally, decreasing costs of solar photovoltaic (PV), and a relaxing of prohibitions against distributed generation operation during times of grid stress, including the ability to island from the larger utility grid during emergencies…

    “As with any new innovation, adoption of microgrids will increase more rapidly as awareness of – and confidence in – the platform’s capabilities grows.”

    “For a variety of reasons, North America (and especially the United States) still represents the best overall market for all microgrid segments in terms of aggregate capacity. Key factors include pockets of poor power quality scattered throughout the United States and the structure of behind-the-meter markets for distributed energy resources (DER).

    “Worldwide, Navigant Research forecasts that revenue from deployments of microgrids will be just under $10 billion in 2013, increasing to just more than $40 billion annually by 2020 in the average scenario. This is significantly higher than previous market forecasts due to new market intelligence suggesting that microgrids, including retrofit projects incorporating legacy assets, require greater investment than previously recognized…”

    Wednesday, March 20, 2013


    Wind turbine sickness 'all in the mind': study

    Lenore Taylor, March 15, 2013 (Sydney Morning Herald)

    “…'Wind turbine sickness' is far more prevalent in communities where anti-wind farm lobbyists have been active and appears to be a psychological phenomenon caused by the suggestion that turbines make people sick, a study has found…63 per cent of Australia's 49 wind farms had never been the subject of any health complaint from nearby residents…[and] 68 per cent of the 120 complaints that have been made came from residents living near wind farms heavily targeted by the anti-wind farm lobby…

    “Study author, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University, [called 'wind turbine sickness' a 'communicated disease' spread by the claim that something was likely to make a person sick and] caused by the 'nocebo effect' – the opposite of the placebo effect – where the belief something would cause an illness created the perception of illness…”

    “…[Research] found a much greater correlation between negative attitudes to wind turbines and reports of sickness than any 'objective measures of actual exposure'…[and studies suggest communicated diseases spread] much faster when the 'illness' had a name – such as Wind Turbine Syndrome, Vibro Acoustic Disease and Visceral Vibratory Vestibular Disturbance…

    “…[The study cited] a recent New Zealand study in which some healthy volunteers were exposed to actual 'infrasound' – the sub-audible noise from wind farms claimed to cause health problems – and others to complete silence, which they had been told was 'infrasound'. In both cases the volunteers who had been told about the potential harmful effects of infrasound were more likely to report symptoms…”


    Masdar, Total and Abengoa Launch Shams 1, the World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Plant in Operation; The inauguration of Shams 1, a 100 MW solar thermal plant, is a major milestone in the development and deployment of renewable energy in the Middle East.

    March 17, 2013 (Abengoa Solar)

    “...Shams 1, the largest concentrated solar power plant (CSP) in operation in the world...[was built by] Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company…French energy company Total and Spain’s energy infrastructure company Abengoa. The 100 MW solar thermal project will power thousands of homes in the United Arab Emirates and displace approximately 175,000 tons of CO₂ per year. The 600 MUS$ project took three years to build…

    “Located in the UAE’s Western Region, in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Shams 1 was designed and developed by Shams Power Company, a joint venture between Masdar (60 percent), Total (20 percent) and Abengoa Solar (20 percent). With the addition of Shams 1, Masdar’s renewable energy portfolio accounts for almost 68 percent of the Gulf’s renewable energy capacity and nearly 10 percent of the world’s installed CSP capacity…Shams 1 is an example of how collaboration between companies can achieve large-scale, clean-energy solutions that help meet the world’s growing energy demands…”

    “Covering an area of 2.5 km², or 285 football fields, Shams 1 generates electricity to power 20,000 homes in the UAE. Also, because solar power is generated during peak demand, the UAE is able to reduce the need for “peak shaving” generators, which are expensive and idle most of the year…

    “Incorporating the latest in parabolic trough technology, Shams 1 features more than 258,000 mirrors mounted on 768 tracking parabolic trough collectors. By concentrating heat from direct sunlight onto oil-filled pipes, Shams 1 produces steam, which drives a turbine and generates electricity. In addition, the solar project uses a booster to heat steam as it enters the turbine to dramatically increase the cycle’s efficiency…[and] a dry-cooling system that significantly reduces water consumption – a critical advantage in the arid desert of western Abu Dhabi…”


    Top 10 U.S. Cities With The Most Energy Star-Certified Buildings

    18 March 2013 (Renew Grid)

    “…Launched by the [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)] in 1992, Energy Star is a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency…[C]ertified buildings typically use at least 35% less energy than average buildings…In 2012, the EPA says, more than 20,000 Energy Star-certified buildings across the U.S. helped save over $2.7 billion in annual utility bills [and over the past 20 years…American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills]…

    “…The cumulative number of Energy Star-certified buildings increased last year by more than 24% compared to 2011. In 2012 alone, more than 8,200 buildings earned the certification…For the fifth year in a row, Los Angeles continues to hold on to first place, with 528 [Energy Star-certified buildings] buildings.”

    “…Washington, D.C., with 462 buildings, is a competitive front-runner…Chicago, with 353 buildings, has risen through the rankings each year, starting in sixth place in 2008 and increasing the number of buildings certified by an average of 32% each year…New York City, which recently required its commercial buildings to publicly disclose their energy use, had 325 Energy Star-certified buildings…

    “…Atlanta had 304 certified buildings…San Francisco had 291 certified buildings…Houston, with 241 buildings, is home to one in particular that stands out: Phoenix Tower, a 34-story office building, has earned EPA’s Energy Star 14 times - more than any other building in the U.S…Dallas-Fort Worth had 214 certified buildings…Phoenix broke into the top 10 for the first time, with 202 buildings…Boston, a newcomer to the list last year, held on to 10th place with 188 buildings…”

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013


    Reaching New Heights: Cumulative PV Demand to Double Again by 2015

    Michael Barker, March 15, 2013 (SolarBuzz)

    “Although [solar PV] end-market demand in 2012 did not achieve the levels many had hoped for, it still set a new record in terms of annual installed capacity…reaching a 100 GW cumulative installation level for PV systems.

    “…[The recent trend continued of] cumulative demand doubling every two years. It took more than 30 years for global cumulative demand to reach 2 GW but only four to surpass 4 GW in 2004. Since then, the industry has seen cumulative demand doubling every two years…Annual growth rates have been declining, however, and the next doubling of cumulative demand is anticipated to take slightly longer at three (rather than two) years, under current policy and installed pricing conditions.”

    “This trend has been driven first by attractive policy mechanisms designed to drive downstream demand and, more recently, by rapid price declines throughout the upstream PV value-chain…[P]olicies have…been adjusted downwards, thereby slowing the pace of growth. However, given the maturity of the industry and the potential for continuing cost reductions, the PV industry is still poised for strong long-term growth and will increasingly be seen as a major source of power generation…

    “…[U]nder upside scenario forecasts, the market could…[double] again in both 2014 and in 2016, and exceeding 450 GW of cumulative installed capacity by 2017.”


    New Push to Securitize Renewable-Power Pacts

    Ryan Tracy and Cassandra Sweet, March 14, 2013 (Wall Street Journal)

    “The Obama administration and some on Wall Street are laying the groundwork for bundling renewable-power contracts into securities, part of an effort to make it cheaper to finance alternative energy…The initiative aims to extend to renewable energy a financial tool already used in the mortgage and credit-card industries. The securities could be sold to pension funds or other investors, who would receive a return funded by payments from users of electricity where solar panels or other equipment is installed…

    “Administration officials say they are approaching the prospect with caution, aware that mortgage-backed securities played a key role in the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing recession. But officials view the financing structure as a possible avenue to lower the cost of buying renewable energy…The idea of securitization is to spread risk across hundreds of contracts and ensure a steady return for investors. That is much easier to do with home mortgages than it is with solar- or wind-power contracts, due largely to the relative immaturity and small size of renewable-energy markets. Also, doing a deal with the government might be trickier given the possibility that future power shifts in Washington bring different priorities concerning military spending…”

    “…[An early focus is the military, which is preparing to spend billions of dollars on electricity from solar, wind and other renewable sources during the next decade. The military services can enter into electricity-purchase agreements without new appropriations from Congress. The] U.S. departments of Defense and Energy are exploring the idea and taking steps toward making it more attractive to investors, including standardizing the terms of power-purchase contracts…The Army is preparing to buy up to $7 billion of energy from projects that private developers build and finance, part of a goal to add 1,000 megawatts of renewable-electricity capacity by 2025…The Navy wants to add an equal amount of capacity…

    “Solar- and wind-power developers generally raise money for new projects through private deals with banks, insurance companies or corporations. But they are eager to tap public markets, where the pool of investors would expand to include pension funds or individual investors… Some in Congress have proposed changes that would provide favorable tax treatment and the ability to sell ownership shares publicly…[A]real-estate investment trust…could be available for renewable-energy projects if the Internal Revenue Service allows them to qualify…[A] master limited partnership…won't be available unless Congress passes new legislation…Bankers say a renewable-energy security would have to be considered fairly low-risk in order to earn a high mark from ratings firms and attract large, conservative investors like pension funds. The terms of each of the contracts involved also would need to be relatively similar so that investors could make an educated guess about the group's overall risk…”


    Small Wind Power; Demand Drivers, Market Barriers, Technology Issues, Competitive Landscape, and Global Market Forecasts

    1Q 2013 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “…[T]here are many signs the [small wind turbines (SWTs)] industry is maturing, including the expanded role of SWT certification, hundreds of manufacturers located around the world, expanding dealer networks, and a growing number of national and regional industry associations…

    “…There are also a growing number of applications across telecommunications, defense, and other remote locations being enabled by the growing interest and investment in microgrids and hybrid systems that integrate small wind with solar PV and diesel generators, among other renewable distributed energy generation technologies.”

    “The overall market for SWTs is growing as a result of feed-in tariff (FIT) policies in the United Kingdom and Italy. While there are a few bright spots in the United States market, in general, manufacturers in the U.S. are trying to regain their momentum after rebates and other key incentive programs in leading states have stalled, decreased, or expired in the past 3 years…

    “…Pike Research forecasts that global installations of SWTs will grow from an estimated 85.8 MW in 2012 to 172 MW in 2018, representing $3.3 billion in revenues.”

    Monday, March 18, 2013


    Clean Energy Trends: The Future is all About Deployment

    Ron Pernick, March 12, 2013 (Clean Edge)

    “…[As highlighted in] Clean Energy Trends 2013 report, the fundamental global market drivers for clean technology remain largely intact. Intensifying resource constraints loom large. Unprecedented climate disruption in the U.S. and abroad is putting resiliency and adaptation front and center. And President Obama has signaled a strong commitment to expanding clean energy and energy efficiency in his second term, calling for another doubling of renewable power by 2020. Similar commitments exist in China, Japan, and the European Union…

    “…[But] combined global revenue for solar PV, wind power, and biofuels expanded just one percent, from $246.1 billion in 2011 to $248.7 billion in 2012…Biofuels (global production and wholesale pricing of ethanol and biodiesel) reached $95 billion in 2012, up from $83 billion the previous year. From 2011 to 2012, global biofuels production expanded from 27.9 billion gallons to 31.4 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel…”

    “…Wind power (new installation capital costs) expanded to $73.7 billion in 2012, up from $71.5 billion the previous year. Global wind capacity additions totaled 44.7 GW (gigawatts) in 2012, a record year led by more than 13 GW added in both China and the U.S., and an additional 12.4 GW of new capacity in Europe…Solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) decreased from a record $91.6 billion in 2011 to $79.7 billion in 2012 as continued growth in annual capacity additions was not enough to offset falling PV prices. While total market revenues fell 19 percent – the first PV market contraction in Clean Energy Trends’ 12-year history – global installations expanded to a record of 30.9 GW in 2012, up from 29.6 GW the prior year…

    “…[W]e project these three sectors will continue to grow over the next decade, nearly doubling from $248.7 billion in 2012 to $426.1 billion in 2022…Renewables and natural gas made up more than 80 percent of new electricity capacity additions in the U.S. in 2012, with renewables coming in at 49 percent and natural gas at 33 percent. For the European Union, the renewables number is even higher, with solar in the driver’s seat…[A] new focus on deployable and proven technologies reflects the maturation of an industry that was a mere blip on the economic radar just a decade ago, but today represents the largest slice of new electricity capacity additions in the U.S. and European Union…[Sustaining the momentum will require] new models and a leveling of the playing field…and, in the face of entrenched interests, a great deal of steadfast commitment and endurance.”


    New Bill Seeks To Repeal N.C.'s Renewable Energy Mandate

    Laura DiMugno, 14 March 2013 (North American Windpower)

    “…New legislation proposed in the [North Carolina's] House of Representatives would repeal North Carolina's renewable portfolio standard (RPS), the major driver of renewable energy development in the state…North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, passed in 2007, is 12.5% by 2021 for investor-owned utilities and 10% by 2018 for electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. The authors of the bill, dubbed the “Affordable and Reliable Energy Act,” say the state’s RPS is raising energy costs for North Carolina consumers.

    “However, a recent study found that North Carolina’s clean energy policies - including the RPS - will actually save customers over the long run. According to the study, electricity rates will peak in 2015 and then decline through 2026, ultimately saving customers $173 million…[B]etween 2007 and 2012, clean energy resulted in $1.7 billion in economic benefits to North Carolina and generated $2.56 billion in spending in the state's economy…and while the broader North Carolina economy lost more than 100,000 jobs between 2007 and 2012, the state gained 21,162 clean energy jobs during the same period…”

    “According to the American Wind Energy Association, there are at least 18 facilities in North Carolina that manufacture components for the wind energy industry…PPG Industries, a supplier of fiberglass to the wind energy industry, has two factories that employ hundreds of workers…A repeal of the RPS would likely lessen demand for offshore wind in North Carolina…A comprehensive study…found that North Carolina has the best offshore wind resource on the East Coast…

    “North Carolina’s highly regulated electricity market limits opportunities for newer energy technologies…The bill would also eliminate all funding for renewable energy research, further limiting the ability of [New Energies like] offshore wind to compete with more established technologies…Despite backing from state lawmakers, however, it is unlikely that the state’s voters will support the bill: Recent poll results…found that 69.7% of North Carolina voters are in favor of the state’s RPS program…The bill still must travel through a number of committees before going up for a vote.”


    MEMC Creates SunEdison Capital, Proposes Company-Wide Name Change

    13 March 2013 (Solar Industry)

    “MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. has formed SunEdison Capital, a new division within its SunEdison subsidiary…

    “SunEdison Capital will focus on aggregating capital to develop, build and finance the long-term ownership of solar power plants. As part of this effort, the division will develop internal and external capital funds and facilities, playing a key role in financing the growth of SunEdison's solar business in addition to acquiring new projects.”

    “Additionally, MEMC has released details on a forthcoming company name change. Subject to shareholder approval, the company will rename itself SunEdison Inc. If approved, the name change would be effective after the company's annual meeting of shareholders on May 30, 2013.

    “This name change does not reflect a change in business strategy related to either of the company's segments, MEMC says. Rather, the name change is designed to better reflect the synergistic nature of the two businesses and help create and maintain one global brand name.”

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013


    Obama Confers With Energy, Oil Executives on Second-Term Agenda

    Roger Runnigen, March 8, 2013 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “President Barack Obama has conferred with more than a dozen oil, natural gas and clean-energy executives, as well as academic advisers, at the White House in advance of an energy-policy speech [March 15 at the Argonne National Laboratory, near Chicago. It was billed as a meeting on Obama’s second term ‘clean energy agenda,’…and coping with climate change]…

    “The meeting included Jim Hackett, chairman of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC), the second-biggest U.S. independent oil and natural gas producer by market value; Lew Hay, chairman, NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE), which sells energy from natural gas, wind and nuclear power sources…Alex Laskey, president and co- founder, Opower Inc., a provider of energy-monitoring software…Debra Reed, chief executive officer of Sempra Energy (SRE), a U.S. natural gas distributor; Terry Royer, president and chief executive officer of Winergy Drive Systems Corp., a maker of wind-turbine parts…”

    “…Jeff Shaw, chief executive officer of Southwest Gas Corp. (SWX), a natural gas distributor; Fred Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx Corp. (FDX), operator of the world’s largest cargo airline…Cynthia Warner, chairman and chief executive officer of Sapphire Energy Inc., a producer of fuel from algae…[Shirley Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Bill Ritter, a former Colorado governor and clean-energy advocate who’s director of Colorado State University’s Center for New Energy Economy, and Cass Sunstein, now a professor at Harvard Law School and former regulatory adviser at the White House Budget office in Obama’s first term].

    “Since Obama took office, domestic oil and gas production has increased annually, energy production from renewable sources such as wind and solar has more than doubled, and emissions of carbon pollution have decreased…The energy talks at the White House covered the role of natural gas in in the U.S. economy, new opportunities for renewable energy such as wind, solar and advanced biofuels, the importance of clean energy research and development, and increasing energy efficiency in homes and businesses…”


    What Will It Take To Boost The Overall Success Of EVs?

    7 March 2013 (Renew Grid)

    “Charging stations and battery-swap locations are the most crucial to developing a sustainable electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, according to respondents to a recent survey by PwC...[T]he global hybrid and EV market share [is projected to] reach 6.3% by 2020. As municipalities continue to work with the private sector to meet future demands and develop ‘smart cities,’ finding the ideal ratio between integrated public charging stations and the number of EVs on the road is a prevailing challenge when investing in existing and future infrastructure…

    “Approximately 25% of survey respondents said one public station for every 20 EVs is an ideal ratio, while 20% indicated one station for every five vehicles is ideal…Roughly 80% of respondents also indicated that 30 minutes or less charge time is considered fast charging for EVs.”

    “…46% of respondents felt that long-term total cost of ownership savings is the most likely reason consumers would be willing to pay an up-front premium for an EV. PwC says automakers continue to evaluate the price premium consumers are willing to pay for an EV…[and found] consumers willing to pay a premium price would need to remain under $5,000 (PHEVs 57.9%, PEVs 47.7%)…

    “Survey respondents indicated global collaboration (26.6%) will lead the development and production of EVs and supporting technologies by 2020. Respondents said China will lead by 2020 (25.9%)…[A]utomakers are working to find a balance between production and consumer demands. The trend is to build where you sell. Automakers planning for long-term success will likely have the competitive edge.”


    Sun Number Develops New Solar Analysis and Sales Tool

    12 March 2013 (Solar Industry)

    “Sun Number LLC has released a new tool designed to improve solar companies' capabilities to analyze the solar potential of properties and close sales with customers.

    “The tool, developed with support from the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot program, utilizes high-resolution aerial data, advanced GIS technology and proprietary algorithms to produce instant analyses of the solar potential of residential and commercial building rooftops…Solar companies can immediately obtain information about a property's solar suitability without an on-site visit.”

    “Sun Number helps solar companies identify properties that have high solar suitability for proactive sales efforts. The online tool also shortens the sales cycle by providing suitability information for properties, including specifics on rooftop morphology and the impact of shade…It takes into account the pitch of every roof section, the orientation of every roof plane, shade created by surrounding buildings and shade created by surrounding vegetation that might impact solar potential.

    “Additionally, Sun Number scores take into account regional factors, such as average sunshine for the market, atmospheric conditions, availability of local solar incentives, regional cost of electricity for calculation of solar savings, and other factors.”

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013


    Insider: Clarity On PTC 'Begin Construction' Language Expected Soon

    Mark Del Franco, 5 March 2013 (Nrth American Windpower)

    “…[The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)] has imposed an internal deadline of March 31 to clarify what it means for a wind project to be considered under construction, per the ‘begin construction’ language included in the [version of the production tax credit (PTC) signed into law in January]…[T]he IRS [repotedly] recognizes the urgency…to resolve the issues and release the guidance to wind energy developers.

    “Historically, the IRS has taken up to a year - or even longer - to resolve such discrepancies. However, the wind industry does not have the luxury of time…The PTC extension included a change in language that requires projects to begin construction before Jan. 14, 2014, in order to qualify for the PTC, rather than the ‘placed in service’ deadline included in previous versions of the PTC.”

    “Without further guidance, developers, suppliers and financiers are more hesitant to move forward with projects…[O]ne of the biggest challenges for the IRS will be to establish a rule that is fair to all the technologies mentioned in Section 45 of the Internal Revenue Code, which includes electricity produced from certain renewable resources,’ such as wind, solar, geothermal, municipal solid waste and qualifying hydropower…

    “…The IRS released a similar ‘begin construction’ clarification in July 2010, after the issuance of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Section 1603 cash-grant program. The American Wind Energy Association has been encouraging the IRS and the Treasury to consider similar rules for the PTC, as the industry is already familiar with that guidance…[Less likely] is that rules pertaining to bonus depreciation - which also includes a ‘begin construction’ component - could be applied to PTC. However, bonus depreciation applies broadly to all businesses…”


    Austin Energy’s Value of Solar Tariff: Could It Work Anywhere Else? Austin’s solar policy framework may just be too weird to duplicate.

    Anne Lappe, March 8, 2013 (Greentech Media)

    “Last fall, Austin Energy become the first utility in the U.S. to offer a ‘Value of Solar Tariff’ (VOST) to its residential electricity customers…[It is] an alternative to net metering, the bill credit mechanism that has driven most customer adoption of solar in the U.S…[U]tilities elsewhere…are looking to ditch net metering and jump on the VOST bandwagon…Here’s how the Austin VOST works: …[A] residential customer…is automatically signed up…[and pays] a monthly energy bill based on how many kilowatt-hours of electricity [are consumed and credited for every kilowatt-hour generated. That credit is subtracted…[from the] monthly electricity bill…

    “…[T]he VOST rate is set up to more fairly reward solar system operators for the energy they produce…[It] is calculated using a value of solar algorithm…updated annually…[that accounts for]…Avoided fuel costs…Avoided capital cost of installing new power generation…Avoided transmission and distribution expenses…Line loss savings…Fuel price hedge value…[and] Environmental benefits…[Solar advocates in Austin say that they hope to add to the list of benefits, perhaps including a value for the economic development benefits of building inherently local energy infrastructure. These are] the same value elements that are examined when looking at the cost and benefit balance under net metering for residential and commercial customers…[F]rom 2006 through 2011, the calculated value of solar fluctuated from 10.3 cents per kWh to 16.4 cents per kWh for a fixed system. In October 2012, when the VOST was actually implemented, the value was set at 12.8 cents per kWh…”

    “…[T]here are a few issues unique to Austin Energy, and Austin, which make it unlikely that a VOST would look the same if it were replicated by utilities elsewhere…[especially in the Value of Energy, Environmental Benefits, and Fuel Price Hedge Value calculations]...In a utility service area where leasing is allowed, and is the preferred option for customers, a VOST becomes more complicated…In Austin…the City Council acts as the regulatory backstop to VOST decisions. A Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) main mission…is to keep costs low for ratepayers. City councils have much wider missions, which includes protecting the public welfare…

    “One of net metering’s strongest virtues is its simplicity…VOSTs [should] initially be introduced as an option, not a replacement for NEM. Retain NEM for on-site generation, and develop a VOST as a voluntary alternative option for customers…See how it works before ditching the thing that does. Unless you are dealing with a solar champion like Austin Energy, the one-to-one retail net-metering credit keeps the conversation simple and fair for consumers, and limits the opportunities…to undervalue distributed solar.”


    Energy Storage Systems for Ancillary Services; Frequency Regulation, Voltage Support, Spinning Reserves, Electric Supply Reserve Capacity, and Load Following: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    1Q 2013 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Ancillary services are…required to maintain safe, reliable, and secure transmission of energy on the grid. Designed to respond to the technical challenges of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity, these services…balance the grid regardless of the structure of the electricity market…

    “It can be challenging for a new technology – such as energy storage systems (ESSs) – to make a compelling business case…even if on a technical level energy storage provides a compelling and competitive solution.”

    “Energy storage, however, is poised to take advantage of several global trends in this market. Demand for energy will continue to grow at a rapid pace, leading to more deregulation of the electricity market as well as more instability on the grid system as renewables penetration will also grow…

    “…ESSs offer, in many cases, better quality ancillary services in addition to an alternative to using traditional generation assets. Pike Research forecasts that worldwide annual installed capacity of energy storage systems for ancillary services will reach 3,500 MW by 2023…”

    Monday, March 11, 2013


    Virtual Power Plants; Demand Response, Supply-Side, Mixed Asset, and Wholesale Auction Smart Grid Aggregation and Optimization Networks

    1Q 2013 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “…[A] virtual power plant (VPP)…[uses] software systems to remotely and automatically dispatch and optimize generation, demand-side, or storage resources (including plug-in electric vehicles and bi-directional inverters) in a single, secure web-connected system. VPPs can provide extraordinary value and services to transmission and distribution (T&D) grid infrastructure, as well as revenue streams to myriad stakeholders engaged in the provision of electric power.

    “The primary goal of a VPP is to achieve the greatest possible profit for asset owners while at the same time maintaining the proper balance of the electricity grid…”

    “From the outside, the VPP looks like a single power production facility which publishes one schedule of operation and which can be optimized from a single, remote site. From the inside, the VPP can combine a rich diversity of independent resources into a network via sophisticated planning, scheduling, and bidding of distributed energy resource (DER)-based services…

    “…Pike Research forecasts that vendor revenue from VPPs, in an average forecast scenario, will reach $3.6 billion in 2020…”


    Beyond Old Incentives: Unlocking A New Source Of Solar Project Capital

    Andrew Redinger and Daniel Brown, 5 March 2013 (Solar Industry)

    “…[T] he U.S. power market…[from 2008 to 2011] experienced a 1% compounded annual increase in installed capacity. Electricity sales statistics have been flat over the same period…By contrast, wind installations have increased by 21%, and solar installations have increased by 73%...despite the fact that the levelized cost of energy (inclusive of tax benefits) for renewable technologies is dramatically above that of conventional combined- cycle natural gas plants. In July 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated the levelized cost of a conventional combined cycle at $66.10/MWh, wind at $96.00/MWh and solar photovoltaics at $152.70/MWh…In 2012, average wholesale prices at PJM West were $40.18/MWh, a decrease of 22% from 2011…[at MISO Illinois it was $32.06/MWh, down 17%.; at ERCOT Houston it was $35.91/MWh, down 43%; and at Palo Verde it was $30.03/MWh, down 18%.]…This decline in prices is highly correlated to declining natural gas prices, due to the shale gas phenomenon. In 2011, the average Henry Hub was $4.02/MMBtu, while in 2012, it was $2.75/ MMBtu, a decline of 31.5%....

    “...[T]he average 2012 RPS target of the 31 states with RPS was 7.6%. As of November 2012, these RPS targets had been met, with 8.0% of eligible generation being renewable…[T]hese standards should continue to be a driver of growth, as the 2015 average target is 10.6% and the 2020 average target is 16.4%...In an era of marginal increases in required capacity, with the price of wholesale power across the country declining, when tax equity is increasingly constrained, how can the renewable energy industry sustain its growth?”

    “…For more than a decade, the public equity markets have been a tremendous source of capital for master limited partnerships (MLPs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs)…These assets typically generate significant cash flow from long-term revenue contracts. MLPs and REITs pay the majority of this cash flow out to investors as dividends…[P] ublic equity investors value these assets at 7% to 8% distributable cash flow yield, which is the equivalent of a levered equity discount rate…[Renewable power assets] are, in many ways, higher quality…[They are non-cyclical and typically have revenue contracts of 15 to 20 years with investment-grade counterparties. If investors value MLP and REIT assets at 7% to 8% distributable cash flow yield, there is good reason to believe they will value renewable assets at similar, if not lower, yields…

    “Due to current Internal Revenue Service rules, renewable assets are not eligible for the tax-advantaged status enjoyed by MLPs and REITs…[W]e believe a vehicle for accessing this low-cost equity capital exists today…A YieldCo is simply a C corporation that acts as a holding company for renewable assets. Due to the myriad of tax benefits available to renewable energy assets - such as bonus or MACRS depreciation, investment tax credits, and production tax credits - the YieldCo vehicle can carry forward net operating losses and shield taxes for extended periods of time. As additional assets are developed and/or acquired, the tax shield period is extended even further…By allowing renewable energy projects to access mid- to high-single-digit costs of capital, YieldCos can enable the renewable energy industry to sustain the momentum it has been building.”


    Buffett’s MidAmerican Has 6% of U.S. Wind, Will Own 14% of Solar

    Will Wade, March 1, 2013 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. accounts for 6 percent of U.S. wind-energy capacity and will generate about 14 percent of the nation’s solar power when it finishes three solar farms under development.”

    “When the projects are complete, the company will have invested about $13 billion in its renewable-energy portfolio, Buffett wrote in his annual letter to shareholders…”

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013


    Fact check: WSJ goes astray on California's integration of wind

    Michael Goggin, 2013 February 28 (Into the Wind/AWEA)

    “…[A] Wall Street Journal piece by Rebecca Smith] on the growth of renewable energy in California and the effect on its electric utility system…makes several incorrect and unsupported assertions…Fact #1: It is unlikely that the state will experience a shortage of flexible power by 2017…Fact #2: Nuclear and fossil fuel power plants can go offline much more rapidly than renewable energy…which is a far greater challenge for grid operators and a far greater cost for the power system.

    “…Fact #3: Integrating renewable energy will not negatively affect reliability in California…[T]o reach 33% renewable energy, the California grid operator will use slightly more of the flexible reserves that it has always used to accommodate fluctuations in electricity demand as well as sudden failures at large fossil and nuclear power plants…”

    “…Fact #4: Renewable energy output does not change significantly on a second-to-second time-frame, while the output of nuclear and fossil plants does…Dozens of wind integration studies, including many conducted in California, have confirmed that adding wind and solar to the grid only results in modest increases in total system variability...[A]n average household’s monthly electric bill of $100, the increase in reserve costs in the renewables case would work out to an increase of around 3-4 cents!

    “…[California] is already implementing a number of market reforms to make its system work more efficiently and better accommodate large amounts of renewable energy. They are also implementing faster transmission scheduling to allow more efficient movement of power within California and between California and its neighbors…[M[]aking their market mechanisms work faster and more efficiently…Wind and solar energy have no fuel costs, and adding them to the grid displaces the most expensive power plant that is currently operating. Adding renewable energy to the power system drives down the energy costs, yielding consumers’ significant net savings…”


    PV in Europe represented 16.5GW of global 29GW demand in 2012

    Tim Murphy, 1 March 2013 (PV Tech)

    “For 2012, Europe retained its dominant position in global PV demand reaching 16.5GW, according to [Solarbuzz]…Strong demand from Europe was due primarily to premium incentives that remained in place during 2012, along with lower installed system prices (ISPs)…

    “It was also a year in which European incentives declined in value, as administrators closely followed the downward trajectory in PV system prices…During 2013, the European market will continue to transition away from a premium-incentives PV environment towards PV electricity being driven on the grounds of competitive cost. During this transition period, major European markets will see declining PV demand…”

    “…[T]his transition phase will not be completed during 2013 in major European markets. Premium incentives will continue to decline (or disappear) in 2013, but additional retroactive impositions are expected (for example, in Greece)…In fact, various retroactive impositions on PV operators have emerged in Europe during 2012 and earlier…[I]n Spain, PV operators are realising 35% less revenues (compared to 2008 administrative ‘guarantees’)…

    “While distributed PV electricity generation can make a compelling economic case in Europe, relative to higher retail electricity rates, emerging grid-access barriers will constrain growth. Utility companies will continue to provide barriers to PV, and are likely to undertake more lobbying related to grid-access fee schemes and smart-meter implementation.”


    Nearly 30 Percent of US Homes Have Ditched Incandescent Light Bulbs; A new survey shows that Americans are changing their lighting habits. But awareness of new technologies is still mixed.

    Katherine Tweed, March 1, 2013 (Greentech Media)

    “…[A] new survey from Sylvania… shows that 29 percent of U.S. households are free of incandescent bulbs…[though] are unaware of the phase-out of energy inefficient light bulbs, even as concerns about energy efficiency increase…

    “…The four most important considerations are: the amount of time the bulb will last; the bulb's brightness; the amount of energy the bulb uses; and the cost. Although people say they are more concerned about energy use than cost, less than half of the respondents say they care if there is an Energy Star label on the product they select.”

    “…[A]wareness of light-emitting diode (LED) options dropped in 2012, from 80 percent to 69 percent. At the same time, the number of homes with LED bulbs rose from 20 percent in 2008 to 35 percent in 2012…Sylvania says it is 95 percent confident about the figure showing that 29 percent of households go without incandescent bulbs.

    “In coming years, as the incandescent goes extinct, LEDs will gain traction as they commandeer real estate on store shelves. Ikea announced last year it will phase out all non-LED lighting by 2016, and stores like Wal-Mart are increasing their LED offerings. More offerings on the shelves, coupled with falling prices and increased utility rebates, will mean that for the average consumer, LEDs will be a viable option…”

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013


    A Glimpse Into The Future Of Renewable Energy In California

    Jessica Lillian, 1 March 2013 (Solar Industry)

    “California's solar market - the U.S.' largest - now stands at the edge of a new era. Although the PV portion of the [$2.2 billion] California Solar Initiative (CSI) - the state's primary incentive program for customer-sited solar generation - has all but wound down, industry advocates are optimistic that other drivers, including the state's aggressive renewable portfolio standard (RPS), will help keep the market moving forward…Californians have installed more than 140,000 solar projects - totaling nearly 1.5 GW - to date…Equally importantly, the average pre-incentive price for a CSI-assisted solar array has dropped from $9.48/W at its most expensive point to $6.10/W today - a reduction of more than 35%...

    “…[The newly released final 2012 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) from the California Energy Commission] incorporates full forecasts of energy supply and demand, as well as discussion of the state's most crucial energy issues…Covering myriad energy issues, from natural gas pipeline safety to electrical infrastructure needs to nuclear capacity replacements, the document gives supportive - but realistic - treatment to California's ongoing renewable energy transition, outlining both problems and solutions.”

    “Overall, the [report’s] goal is…a renewable-centric generating portfolio that minimizes cost and risk while maximizing economic, social and environmental benefits…The CEC's recommendations for achieving this delicate balance…include five key strategies…[1]- Identifying suitable geographic zones within the state for developing DG renewable energy projects…[2] Recalculating the ‘true’ costs and benefits of renewable energy by incorporating integration costs, creating levelized cost of generation evaluations that use more accurate assumptions, and adopting ‘changes to procurement practices for utility-scale generation and DG’…

    “…[3] Reducing licensing, planning, transmission and interconnection costs by better preparing the grid to accept increased levels of DG, developing a more integrated planning process, and, for PV specifically, implementing new grid-reliability and control capabilities for inverters…[4] Promoting in-state investment and job creation through renewable energy…[and, 5] Encouraging continued renewable energy research and development (R&D) and financing, in order to continue to lower system costs, improve system operability and encourage the creation of new technologies….”


    Siemens Restaffing Wind Turbine Manufacturing Facilities In Iowa, Kansas

    25 February 2013 (North American Windpower)

    “After the uncertain fate of the production tax credit (PTC) led Siemens to lay off approximately 37% of its U.S. wind energy workforce last year, the company is now in the process of restaffing its operations in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Hutchinson, Kan…Although the tax credit has been renewed, Siemens' decision to hire more workers is not a direct result of the PTC extension…”

    “…[T]he company is restaffing in order to produce wind turbine components for projects located outside the U.S……[S]ome of the company’s [upcoming] decisions will be based on the results of further guidance from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department on the definition of what constitutes ‘begin construction’ in order for projects to qualify for the PTC…”


    Hawaiian Electric Offering Waivers To Qualified Renewable Energy Projects

    1 March 2013 (Renew Grid)

    “Hawaiian Electric Co. [HECO] says it is seeking qualified utility-scale renewable energy projects that developers can place into service quickly at a low cost per kilowatt-hour. If one or more such projects are identified, the utility will work with the developer to seek a waiver from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Competitive Bidding Framework.

    “To qualify to seek a waiver, a project must be located on Oahu and be larger than 5 MW. It can use any viable renewable technology, including wind or solar. The project must also meet all applicable archaeological, environmental and construction permitting requirements.”

    “In addition to the waiver from competitive bidding, Hawaiian Electric and any developer selected must negotiate a power purchase agreement that will be subject to PUC approval. The goal is to have one or more such projects in service by 2015.

    “…[HECO believes] renewable energy on long-term, fixed-price contracts [can cut its ratepayers bills and believes] there may be projects substantially ready to go that can be built quickly and at a cost that can help reduce our heavy dependency on fossil fuels…”

    Monday, March 4, 2013


    Extended U.S. Tax Credit Blows Fresh Air Into Wind Projects

    Housley Carr, February 27, 2013 (Engineering News-Record)

    “Wind-farm construction in the U.S. nearly ground to a halt after ending in a frenzy late last year. But the pace of turbine installation is set to pick up substantially later this year, largely thanks to the recently enacted extension of the federal production tax credit, say utility and wind-sector experts…

    “The tax-credit extension approved by Congress and signed by President Obama in January as part of the "fiscal cliff" compromise provides a $22/MWH tax credit for the first 10 years of a wind farm's operation. For the first time, the latest extension applies to all projects under construction by Dec. 31, 2013, even if they are not completed until next year. Under the previous tax credit, a wind farm had to be completed and operational by the end of 2012 to qualify.”

    “Several utilities already are moving to take advantage of the lower wind-power prices the tax-credit extension provides…Last year, with lower wind-turbine prices and strong competition among developers, wind-power prices offered by developers in regions with the best wind resources, such as the Great Plains, were often below $40/MWH; without the tax-credit, most offers likely would have been above $60/MWH—a big difference to utilities already concerned about the generally higher cost of renewable energy…

    “A spokeswoman for Duke Energy Renewables, which built 800 MW of new wind capacity in 2012, says the tax-credit extension ‘removed uncertainty; and enabled utilities to plan RFPs and long-term power purchase deals. [Washington energy lobbyist Frank Maisano] predicts a stronger rebound in wind-farm construction in the Great Plains and Midwest, with fewer regulatory hurdles and less opposition from environmental groups.”


    California City Wants to Require Solar on Every New Home; A Republican mayor campaigns for a historic requirement for solar on new homes.

    Herman K. Trabish, March 1, 2013 (Greentech Media)

    “Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, California, wants every new home in his city to host solar. And starting next January, that could be a reality…[As] homebuilder KB Home celebrated its 1,000th new home with solar panels from SunPower…Mayor Parris announced his city will institute a first-of-its-kind requirement that solar be installed on every new single-family home built in Lancaster after January 1, 2014.

    “The new law will be written into Lancaster’s “Residential Zones Update” on residential solar. Along with a range of green building provisions, it specifies that new single family homes meet minimum solar system requirements…Residential homes on lots from 7,000 square feet must have a solar system of 1.0 kilowatt to 1.5 kilowatts. Rural residential homes of up to 100,000 square feet must have a system of at least 1.5 kilowatts.”

    “The standards spell out simple, common-sense rules for both roof-mounted and ground-mounted systems…A builder’s model home must show the kind of solar system the builder will offer…Builders of subdivisions will be able to aggregate the houses’ requirements…[E]ach phase [of a project] must meet the requirement…Multi-family developments can meet the requirement with a rooftop system or a system on a support or shade structure…[and] builders may choose to meet…[the] requirement off-site by providing evidence of purchasing solar energy credits…

    “Mayor Parris, who frequently promises to make Lancaster “the solar energy capital of the world,” expressed confidence that he has the City Council votes for approval, despite resistance from the building industry…Even with resistance from some members of the building community, the market is shifting…One of every five built in California this year will be solar powered…Mayor Parris, a Republican, noted that…[when you show Republicans] a solution, they will take it…”


    Diesel Generator Sets; Distributed Reciprocating Engines for Portable, Standby, Prime, Continuous, and Cogeneration Applications

    1Q 2013 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Diesel-fueled generator sets (gensets) are distributed power generation units that use reciprocating internal combustion engines to produce useable energy from gaseous fuels. Distributed generation has the advantage of going online more quickly than traditional large centralized power stations, reducing demand pressure on the electrical grid and reducing inefficiencies that are common in centralized power generation, transmission, and distribution…

    “As a source of emergency standby, prime, or continuous power, diesel-fueled gensets are poised for continued growth in most regions and power classes but face increasing competition from natural gas and dual-fuel configurations.”

    “The number of specialized segments within the genset market spanning power classes, applications, and end-use customers offers a rich ecosystem of opportunities for market participants…

    “As a whole, the market has experienced steady growth, but a boom in unconventional gas resources and tightening regulations targeting stationary generator emissions point to a turning point in the industry. Pike Research forecasts that diesel genset installations will reach 82 GW per year by 2018, representing $198 billion in cumulative revenue between 2013 and 2018…”