NewEnergyNews More: April 2013

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  • Tuesday, April 30, 2013


    REPS Repeal Bill Hits the Wall; H 298 goes down in defeat in sponsor’s own committee

    April 24, 2013 (North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association)

    “In a dramatic turn of events that electrified the room, the North Carolina General Assembly’s Public Utilities and Energy Committee…voted down its Chairman’s own bill, House Bill 298, by a very solid bipartisan vote of 18 to 13. Six Republican members, including three from GOP leadership, joined with others from across the aisle to deliver a resounding defeat to the measure, commonly known as the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) repeal bill…

    “The vote’s outcome and the fact that it occurred in the Committee chaired by the bill’s own sponsor, Chairman Mike Hager, not only helps to secure a path forward for continued economic development in the renewable energy sector, it also showed the strength of the voices from across the state that spoke out against the misguided effort to have North Carolina turn away from a promising clean energy future…”

    “The bill’s failure to make it out of Committee seemed to signal the state’s increasing recognition of the economic virtues behind its current suite of clean energy policies. The lopsided vote which enjoyed a closing of ranks from Democrats and senior Republicans alike set clean energy forward as among an elite group of issues…with true bipartisan appeal and wide popularity among the public…

    “With REPS as a pivotal battleground, clean energy gained further ground…over detractors looking to push a regressive agenda that would have…left ratepayers at the mercy of an electricity market without true choice or competition…The longer the bill was examined and the more time that members had to hear from their constituents and local businesses, the worse it fared…”


    600 Investors in South Dakota’s Premier Community Wind Project

    John Farrell, April 18, 2013 (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

    “…Brian Minish, CEO of South Dakota Wind Partners [talked] about a community wind project that attracted over 600 local investors. The project was the brainchild of four state organizations rooted in rural South Dakota–the East River Electric Cooperative, South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Farmers Union and South Dakota Corn Growers. Hoping to broaden ownership in a wind farm project proposed by Basin Electric in Crow Lake, these groups worked with Brian to figure out how to add local investors to the mix.”

    “…The result was a community-based carve out of the 100+ megawatt facility: 7 turbines owned by over 600 farmers and local residents. The turbines were constructed as part of the larger wind farm, and the Wind Partners organization contracted with the cooperative electric utility for operations, maintenance, and purchase of the electricity…[Structured with] the now-expired federal cash grant (in lieu of the Investment Tax Credit) to broaden the opportunity for more local investment…”

    “…[T]he four organizations kick-started the fundraising with $20,000 [each] and shares were sold in increments of $15,000 to other investors…Some were able to invest as equity partners and share in the tax losses generated in the early years, while others just wanted a fixed return on the debt (basically making a fixed interest loan to the project)…

    “…[Much of the success was in] the willingness of Basin Electric to partner with local groups…Unfortunately, the federal cash grant has since expired, making it more difficult to make [similar investments] open to normal investors…[but] Brian keeps searching for ways to open up opportunity for community-based energy projects and overcome barriers, and…SDWP website highlights two other community-based projects, one in New York and one in Texas…SDWP may be a model for community wind…”


    Senate Passes Earth Day Bill Package

    April 23, 2013 (New York State Senate)

    “The New York State Senate…[passed a package of bills including one that promotes] the use of renewable energy…[S2522] would help attract and retain these growing industries by providing a clear incentive for businesses to make capital investments in solar and energy storage manufacturing and development by providing tax credits. It would create new jobs, increase economic investment, reduce harmful emissions, and help New York meet its goals for renewable energy development.”

    “The legislation builds upon Governor Cuomo's expansion of the “NY-Sun” program…by providing a refundable tax credit up to a maximum of $25 million per year for four years to further increase manufacturing, development, and research for solar or battery storage industries. Manufacturers might also be eligible for a 10 percent credit for the expenses associated with conducting research or manufacturing…”

    Monday, April 29, 2013


    Solar Summit Slideshow: The PV Module Market; GTM Research Senior Analyst Shyam Mehta provides actionable intelligence for the solar module manufacturing industry.

    Eric Wesoff, April 25, 2013 (Greentech Media)

    “GTM Research Senior Analyst Shyam Mehta…[provided] real-world data points [on the solar market at the recent GTM Solar Summit]…[1] The performance gap between p-type mono-crystalline silicon and multi-crystalline silicon is narrowing…[T]he value proposition for p-type mono continues to deteriorate…P-type might make sense in highly real estate-constrained Japan, but in the long term, Mehta sees n-type mono as a key to maintaining the efficiency advantage…Panasonic, SunPower and Yingli are working on n-type cells.

    “…[Though] 60-cell modules are the current standard but…72-cell, 96-cell, and 128-cell modules available…[L]arge modules can reduce balance-of-system costs by up to 7 cents per watt…The 60-cell modules still have an advantage over larger modules in that they are more rigid, can be carried by one person, and more modules can be fit onto complicated rooftops…[W]e will start to see increasing numbers of larger and different sized modules…”

    “Spot pricing for polysilicon, as well as for cells and modules, has actually risen 5 percent to 15 percent this year…81 percent of ASP reduction over the last two years has come from margin evaporation and polysilicon…Short-term risks to module pricing include the EU anti-dumping decision set for late May or early June, a Chinese tariff on U.S. polysilicon, and the uncertainty of consumables pricing…

    “Larger firms will retire older uncompetitive capacity…[but] if all non-Chinese capacity was to disappear -- there would still be an oversupply in the rest of the world…[A] bankrupt and insolvent Suntech Wuxi continuing to operate while propped up by city government is not consolidation. And because of this ‘messy roadmap’ to rationalization…overcapacity [will continue for] the next twelve to eighteen months…”


    Sierra Club, utilities spar over Nebraska wind power; Facebook Plans $300m Iowa Data Center

    Richard Piersol, April 24, 2013 (Lincoln Journal Star)

    “The Sierra Club in Nebraska criticized the state's public power utilities for failing to get more wind power online to compete with Iowa, which landed a planned data center for Facebook Inc. in Altoona and increased incentives for Google Inc. that allow it to expand in Council Bluffs.

    “Available wind power was reported among the factors that led to Facebook's decision[and a Facebook spokesman confirmed in email that access to wind power was a factor in its decision]…The Iowa Economic Development Authority board also approved $18 million in tax credits for the Facebook project in the Des Moines suburb. It is expected to create 31 permanent jobs and hundreds of temporary construction jobs. Kearney, Neb., had sought the project.”

    “Facebook hopes to draw 25 percent of data center power from renewable sources by 2015. MidAmerican Energy, which gets a quarter of its energy from wind, will supply power for Facebook and supplies Council Bluffs. MidAmerican is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett's company…

    “Nebraska ranks fourth for wind potential in the United States, ahead of Iowa, which ranks seventh…[T]he Nebraska Legislature was debating the creation of state wind-energy tax incentives…The Omaha Public Power District, Nebraska Public Power District and [Lincoln Electric System (LES)] all are issuing requests for proposals and buying output…”


    PV Storage Market Set to Explode to $19 Billion in 2017; Germany leads Again

    24 April 2013 (IMS Research/IHS Inc.)

    “The worldwide market for PV storage is forecast to grow rapidly to reach $19 billion in 2017, from less than $200 million in 2012, according to a new report…from IMS Research, now part of IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS).

    “Following the introduction of an energy storage subsidy in Germany, global installations of PV storage systems are forecast to grow by more than 100 percent a year on average over the next five years, to reach almost 7 gigawatts (GW) in 2017 and worth $19 billion. Germany will account for nearly 70 percent of storage installed in residential PV systems worldwide in 2013.However, opportunities also will exist in other regions and applications in the future…”

    “Germany’s long-awaited subsidy for PV storage systems is due to launch on May 1st. IHS predicts that the subsidy will promote rapid growth in the German residential sector, and result in almost 2 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of effective storage capacity being installed during the next five years…[T]he proposed subsidy will reduce the average 20-year cost of a PV system with storage to 10 percent less than a system without it…Previously, the high cost of batteries had more than offset the savings created by increased self-consumption, and PV systems without storage offered a more attractive return…

    “While Germany is forecast to remain one of the largest markets for PV storage, energy storage solutions will also be deployed in a wide range of other regions…[as] Germany will inspire other countries to follow suit, if the scheme proves successful…Storage is also predicted to be used in larger systems, in order to improve the integration of PV into the grid, increase the financial return of PV systems and meet the increasingly demanding connection requirements that some countries are imposing on intermittent electricity sources…Utility-scale PV systems with storage are forecast to grow to more than 2GW annually by 2017…with Asia and the Americas dominating…”

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013


    2012 SEPA Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings Preview; Large-scale Solar Projects Drive New Market Growth

    April 16, 2013 (Solar Electric Power Association)

    "The Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) sixth annual Utility Solar Rankings report analyzes the amount of new solar power interconnected by U.S. electric utilities in 2012. It covers more than 260 of the most solar-active utilities, representing more than 96 percent of the national U.S. solar electric power market...Three key trends emerged from the data...

    "...[1] Annual solar capacity surpassed 2 gigawatts for the first time in 2012...Utilities integrated almost 2.4 gigawatts (GW-ac) or 2,384 megawatts (MW-ac) of solar electric capacity in 2012. This is equivalent to the construction of 8 natural gas combined cycle power plants. The U.S. now has more than 300,000 solar projects and almost 6.1 GW-ac installed across the country."

    "...[2] Utilities purchased more than 1 gigawatt of large-scale solar. The market share for large-scale solar projects (> 5 MW) was 1,106 MW or 46 percent of all annual solar capacity, a growth of almost 250 percent over 2011. This wholesale market segment encompassed more than 70 photovoltaic (PV) projects, including Pacific Gas and Electric’s purchase of the largest solar PV project in the world, the 250 MW Agua Caliente project. Utilities owned 12 percent and purchased the remaining 88 percent through power purchase agreements. No concentrating solar power (CSP) projects were completed in 2012, but at least six projects totaling 750 megawatts are anticipated in 2013...

    "...[3] Customer-sited solar remains a large part of the solar market. Net metered projects, effectively the customer-facing part of the market, accounted for more than 99 percent of the number of installed systems in 2012. Utilities interconnected nearly 90,000 net metered projects totaling 1,151 MW-ac last year, representing a 46 percent growth over 2011. There are currently about 3.5 GW of net metered projects in the country, approximately 80 percent of which are concentrated in five states – California, New Jersey, Arizona, Hawaii and Massachusetts."


    US takes cue from Europe to strengthen offshore wind supply chain; The likelihood of U.S.-based offshore manufacturing capacity will depend on turbine suppliers perceiving stable, long-term policy support and subsequent demand for offshore wind in the U.S. market.

    Ritesh Gupta, April 15, 2013 (Wind Energy Update)

    “…As offshore turbine designs continue to specialise and diverge from land-based designs, new facilities are likely to locate close to one another and near key ports, similar to the European model…The likelihood of U.S.-based offshore manufacturing capacity will depend on turbine suppliers perceiving stable, long-term policy support and subsequent demand for offshore wind in the U.S. market…In addition, they must have access to (or train) a sufficiently skilled workforce and appropriate logistical and installation capabilities…The opportunity…is highest in foundations/ substructures, towers, blade materials, and power converters and transformers…

    “…[Three key factors are]…1) The expected timing of sufficient demand to support domestic manufacturing…2) the probability of shortfall in global offshore supply through 2015; and 3) The ease of transferability of land-based supply to serving the offshore wind market…Market barriers faced by new suppliers in the offshore wind industry fall into two primary categories…[inadequate production planning and inadequate production facilities]…”

    “Consistent policy will reduce the market fluctuation and supply chain disruptions…Strong and consistent demand will also make it more attractive for banks to lend to suppliers who want to invest in new equipment to build the larger components required by the offshore market. With a strong backlog of orders, suppliers will find it attractive to build port-side manufacturing facilities to reduce transportation costs and improve delivery times…

    “There are multiple approaches for driving demand that have been used successfully in Europe. These approaches deal with lowering the cost of offshore wind; lowering or removing technical and infrastructure-related challenges; and removing regulatory challenges involved with siting and permitting of projects…”


    LED Supply Chain Dynamics

    2Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “The lighting industry is on the verge of a large-scale shift away from the traditional technologies of fluorescent, incandescent, and high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting toward light-emitting diodes (LEDs)…as the efficacy and quality of LEDs surpass those of competing technologies and as prices fall to enable reasonable payback periods.

    “This transition has been widely expected for a number of years, leading to the launch of new LED-focused companies and to the repositioning of existing lighting companies to take advantage of LED sales. Now…the repercussions are rippling up and down the LED supply chain.”

    “…[C]onsolidation…driven by a desire for vertical integration among the larger lighting companies…is being driven by the relentless demand for lower prices and higher quality. While the total number of vendors involved in the LED supply chain will likely shrink, other factors – including the expiration of existing patents, new interchangeability standards, new technologies, and an expected upsurge in creative product designs will create opportunities for new entrants at each level of the supply chain…

    …Navigant Research forecasts that annual worldwide revenue from LED lamps will grow from just over $1.5 billion in 2013 to more than $8.5 billion in 2021…”

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013


    It's time to do more; Go green simply by switching your bill to clean energy

    April 2013 (Pear Energy)

    “Pear is committed to delivering green energy…Pear wants to make it easy and affordable…to buy clean wind and solar-powered electricity…[to] defend the environment, fight climate change, and generate millions of good jobs in the process…

    “Pear donates 50 percent of its profits to other great organizations…working for our same goals [and committed to environmental sanity and a fair economy]. Some of the groups we are working with are The Nation Magazine, the Blue/Green Alliance, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and the Working Families Party…”

    “…Conventional Energy Comes From...Coal…Natural Gas…Oil…[and] Nuclear Power…Electricity generated by coal produces 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions...Electricity from natural gas increasingly involves fracking technology, which is poisoning our groundwater…Nuclear-powered electricity creates huge public safety problems, as we saw with the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukishima, Japan…

    “…Pear Energy Comes From…Wind Power…[and] Solar Power…[and] Leads to…100% clean energy that can reverse climate change…New jobs for U.S. workers building the green economy…Freedom from public health and safety dangers due to fracking technology and nuclear power…”


    Wind Beating Guns, Boats as U.S. Turbines Almost Double

    Ehren Goosens, April 11, 2013 (Bloomberg News)

    “Companies spent $25 billion building U.S. wind farms last year, more than double the [$10.2 billion]budget of the Coast Guard and overtaking the [$22.3 billion direct economic impact of the U.S. firearms industry and its suppliers was]…Wind accounted for 5.6 percent of U.S. electricity generating capacity in 2012, up from about 3 percent in 2011, according to a report…American Wind Energy Association…

    “Developers installed 13.1 gigawatts of wind capacity last year, surpassing natural gas power plant construction to become the largest new source of electricity…The growth is driven by tax incentives, utility demand, falling costs and better technology including taller towers and lighter blades…The fourth quarter accounted for 60 percent of installations as developers raced to take advantage of the expiring production tax credit. The 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour incentive was extended for a year at the start of 2013. The rate was increased to 2.3 cents this month because of inflation.”

    “Wind power is becoming more common in the Midwest and Great Plains. Kansas gets 11.4 percent of its power from wind after doubling its capacity last year. In 2000, 60 percent of the nation’s wind power capacity was in California, compared to about 9 percent now. Thirty-nine states are producing wind power…

    “…NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE), the largest U.S. developer of renewable energy, installed 1.3 gigawatts of capacity…[and] also owns the most wind capacity, with 9.8 gigawatts, about 16.4 percent of the total in the U.S. Iberdrola SA (IBE)followed with a 9.1 percent share and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. had 6.2 percent…”


    Distributed Solar Energy Generation; Market Drivers and Barriers, Technology Trends, and Global Market Forecasts

    2Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “Distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems…[produce] electricity onsite…reducing the need to build new transmission capacity and avoiding line losses…[These things] offer significant benefits to consumers…[and add] resiliency to an electric grid…

    “These systems are used in…residential…small commercial…[and] industrial [applications]. Though this market is still primarily driven by government incentives, distributed solar PV will continue its steady march toward grid parity in major markets over the next few years.”

    “The global distributed solar photovoltaic market contracted slightly in 2012, due to reduced market activity in Italy and Germany. However, growth in the United States, China, Japan, and other countries continued, driven by solar PV module price reductions, the growth of third-party financing models, and feed-in tariffs…

    “Navigant Research forecasts that, from 2013 to 2018, 220 GW of distributed solar PV will be installed worldwide, representing $540.3 billion in revenue…”

    Monday, April 15, 2013


    China’s Yingli Tops PV Module Supplier Rankings in 2012; Suntech Slips to Fifth

    April 11, 2013 (IHS iSuppli)

    “Yingli…became the largest global supplier of photovoltaic (PV) modules in 2012 based on annual merchant shipments, while previous leader and besieged fellow Chinese producer Suntech Power dropped to fifth place…In a year that proved very challenging for the entire PV industry, Yingli managed to increase its merchant shipment volumes by 43 percent year-over-year to leapfrog…the two largest suppliers of 2011. First Solar managed to defend its position as the No. 2 module manufacturer, while Suntech…[fell to] fifth…behind Trina Solar and Canadian Solar. REC, the only Top 10 supplier headquartered in Europe, grew faster than most of its Chinese competitors in 2012…

    “Although the PV industry is consolidating and many players have exited the business, many of the Top 10 module suppliers lost market share in 2012. While the Top 10 in 2011 had accounted for 46% of global module shipments, the group last year only achieved a combined share of 40 percent…[Only Canadian Solar, Jinko Solar, Hanwha SolarOne, Yingli and REC grew] merchant module shipments at a double-digit rate in 2012…[while global] PV end markets increased by a robust 14 percent in 2012…”

    “…On March 20, 2013, [Suntech’s] manufacturing unit…announced insolvency…[Those] gaining share from the Top 10 companies were the large, but not yet leading, players that continued to aggressively scale up their operations during a phase of general pessimism…Japanese suppliers Solar Frontier and Kyocera expanded output and shipments massively…Solar Frontier climbed from No. 14 in 2011 to 11th place in 2012…Kyocera rose from No. 17 to No. 12…Strong performance was also recorded for Chinese suppliers Renesola, Astronergy, Hareon Solar, and JA Solar, increasing module shipments by more than 200 MW for each…

    “Until 2011 it was sufficient for the leading module suppliers to focus on very few key markets in the world—above all on Germany and Italy…[T]his situation has changed…Yingli generated 24 percent of its 2012 revenue in China. Jinko is another winner in this market…while also building up a strong presence in South Africa…Canadian Solar generated 26 percent of 2012 sales in the U.S. market and is [strong] in Japan…U.S. supplier First Solar…is anchoring itself to the Latin America market…”


    AWEA Reveals Numbers Behind U.S. Wind Sector's Record-Breaking Year

    Mark Del Franco, 11 April 2013 (North American Windpower)

    “…[I]n 2012, U.S. wind energy - for the first time - was the No. 1 new source of electricity generation, contributing 42% of all the megawatts installed by the power sector...[and] 43% of utilities reported having wind energy as part their system…[according to the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) newly released U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report for 2012…[W]ind development broke all previous U.S. records for annual installs last year with more than 13.1 GW of capacity installed, pushing the cumulative total past 60 GW…

    “…[T]he deadline for the production tax credit was largely responsible for last year's total…[but was also the result of stable federal and state policies]…The top-five wind developers in the U.S., according to 2012 installed capacity, were NextEra Energy Resources (which installed more than 1.5 GW in 2012), followed by Iberdrola Renewables (716 MW), EDF (formerly enXco) (658 MW), Caithness Energy (640 MW) and Duke Energy (620 MW).”

    “…The top-five manufacturers whose units were sold in the U.S. were GE (5 GW), Siemens Energy (2.6 GW), Vestas (1.8 GW), Gamesa (1.3 GW) and REpower Systems (595 MW).Advances in wind turbine technology have boosted capacity factors…Taller towers that [reached] stronger wind resources, along with longer blades that [captured] more energy, [translated] into lower overall cost of wind-generated electricity…[and wind energy] in places previously thought unworkable…

    “…The U.S. wind energy industry attracted $3 billion of tax equity supporting 2.9 GW and $4.9 billion of project debt supporting 4.3 GW…”


    Energy Efficient Lighting for Commercial Markets; LED Lighting Adoption and Global Outlook for LED, Fluorescent, Halogen, and HID Lamps and Luminaires in Commercial Buildings: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    2Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “The market for commercial lighting is on the verge of a major transformation…[as falling] prices and improving quality for light-emitting diode (LED) lighting…drive widespread adoption…”

    “The speed of this transformation promises to be faster than previous transformations to new lamp types, as this one technology appears likely to surpass all others in nearly every metric of quality and efficiency.”

    “Revenue from LED sales…will not be enough to keep the big lighting companies afloat…[because of] the much longer lifespan of LED lamps…Navigant Research forecasts that overall revenue from lamp sales will actually decrease in the coming decade, even as a greater portion of sales goes to more expensive lamp types…

    “To avoid this inevitable decline, companies are broadening their offerings to include lighting controls and lighting services. Navigant Research forecasts that revenue from LED lamp sales will rise to $8.7 billion by 2021, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.2%. Overall, however, revenue from lamp sales will stay essentially flat through 2017 before beginning a steady decline…”

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013


    Suntech Jumps On Buffett Buyout Report...

    April 9, 2013 (EQ International)

    “Chinese solar manufacturers rallied in New York, led by Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP), on a report that billionaire Warren Buffett may be interested in buying the company forced into bankruptcy after defaulting on debt. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index (CH55BN) of the most-traded Chinese companies in the U.S. rose…

    “…Suntech jumped as much as 28 percent after a news service owned by Hong Kong Economic Times said Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. may buy the solar panel maker, citing an unidentified person. Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) surged the most in two months. SouFun Holdings Ltd. (SFUN) slumped a second day.”

    “Suntech, which defaulted on a $541 million bond repayment last month, has lost 18 percent since Chinese banks filed an insolvency petition for its main unit March 20. Tina Potthoff, a spokeswoman for MidAmerican in Des Moines, Iowa, said by e-mail that the company doesn’t comment on speculation…The rumor Buffett is interested in buying Suntech…is helping drive gains in solar equities...

    “…Suntech, LDK Solar Co. and Yingli Green Holding Co…are among the top 10 worst performers this year on the China-US gauge amid a supply glut and alternative-energy subsidy cuts in Europe…[Suntech] was the world’s biggest solar-panel maker in 2011…MidAmerican has invested in solar power projects in California and Arizona and wind farms in Illinois. Chief Financial Officer Patrick Goodman said in November that the company was targeting renewable energy deals, in part because utility valuations were high…”


    West Texas wind power transmission project nears completion

    James Oborne, 5 April 2013 (Dallas Morning News)

    “…Designed to transmit enough electricity to power half of Texas in the spring months…[3,500 miles of high-voltage transmission lines connecting wind farms in western Texas with electricity-hungry cities to the east] is on schedule to finish [aftet eight years of planning and building] by the end of the year. But with cost overruns and fewer wind generation projects than originally projected, the $6.8 billion soon to be borne by ratepayers is again falling under criticism…Construction costs are estimated at almost 40 percent above the $4.9 billion originally budgeted…[due to] a spike in steel prices and longer routes for the lines because of difficulties in negotiating with landowners…

    “Further complicating matters, the transmission lines were built to carry loads of more than 18,000 megawatts, far beyond the generation capacity at the time, under the expectation that the project would accelerate wind farm creation in West Texas…So far around 9,000 megawatts of wind generation capacity has come on line in the region…[because] low wholesale electricity prices from the booming natural gas market and difficulty getting financing for wind farm projects [has slowed wind growth]…”

    “There’s hope the new lines [which could cost ratepayers about $6 per month] could spur another wind power boom…Right now there is a bottleneck on the existing transmission lines, at times forcing wind farms around West Texas and the Panhandle not only to lower their prices but to pay the utilities to take their electricity…

    “Earlier this year Google invested $200 million in a 161-megawatt wind farm in the Panhandle, and advocates say they expect more deals once the lines are fully operational. Already, wind companies have 20,000 megawatts worth of projects under study in Texas, according to ERCOT. And while history suggests maybe a quarter of those will actually be built, regulators and the industry itself are confident eventually generation will meet the capacity of the new lines…”


    ZigBee for Smart Energy; Market Dynamics for ZigBee SEP 1.X and the Transition to SEP 2.0 for Smart Meters, Home Area Networks, Programmable Communicating Thermostats, Load Control Devices, In-Home Displays, and Gateways

    1Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “A widely deployed wireless communications technology, ZigBee is the basis for radios and software embedded in millions of smart meters and other smart energy devices, such as programmable communicating thermostats and gateways.

    “The latest version of the ZigBee Smart Energy Profile (SEP 2.0) software, expected to become commercially available later in 2013, represents an important shift: it will…[internet-based and] enable ZigBee devices to communicate with non-ZigBee devices, such as those using Wi-Fi or HomePlug. This opens up a new world for ZigBee, and poses market risks as other home networking technologies contend for relevance in the energy management sector.”

    “ZigBee still has momentum…Some leading U.S. utilities have deployed ZigBee-enabled meters, and have encouraged customers to purchase home area network (HAN) devices that can connect to those smart meters for improved energy management. Around the world, ZigBee smart meter deployments are taking hold…in countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom…

    “Navigant Research forecasts that the worldwide installed base of ZigBee-enabled devices will grow from 39.5 million at the end of 2012 to 219.2 million devices by 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 24%...”

    Tuesday, April 9, 2013


    All energy sectors now have something to crow about

    Editorial, April 7 (Kansas City Star)

    “…While America’s longstanding love affair with fossil fuels is far from over, America’s more recent embrace of renewable energy is going strong…[Though] wind and solar power are determined to reduce fossil fuel use and to replace it with cleaner-burning renewables…[it] is happening but only to a degree…[and] wind turbines and biofuels [are proving to be much more than] niche products…

    “U.S. energy production hit an all-time high last year of 79.182 quadrillion BTUs. That number has moved steadily higher over the last five years…[B]etween 2007 and 2012…Natural gas production jumped 25 percent, largely because its cost has plummeted…Coal production slumped about 15 percent to its lowest level in a quarter century…”

    “…Coal has been displaced by natural gas at many power plants. The net sum of this trade has been very positive financially...and for air quality…[O]il production grew 28 percent to its highest level since 1995…[W]ind energy production surged 340 percent…[and solar power] production has almost tripled…

    “…[T]he pro-fossil fuel crowd can point to the fact that coal, natural gas and oil still make up 78 percent of total U.S. power production…But environmentalists can counter that energy production from renewable sources has risen 100 percent over the last 40 years, while fossil fuel production has limped ahead by just 7 percent…It’s encouraging that public investments in renewable power — especially wind energy — have begun to pay off in measurable terms. They deserve to be continued in Washington and the states…”


    Solar Energy Seems To Make Environmentalists Mad

    Tim Worstall, April 7, 2013 (Forbes)

    “…Assuming that we think that there should be solar panels all over the place, that renewables are indeed to be deployed, then of course governments should have every tool at their disposal to incentivise it…[C]heap imported solar panels [should be] available so that installing solar panels is cheaper…The madness in the environmental movement is t0hey are, instead, insisting that…governments not only can, but should, insist that people must buy and install more expensive panels…[This price and demand] will mean fewer panels installed and less renewable energy…exactly the opposite of what we want if we’re to reduce fossil energy use.

    “…India has rules insisting that panels are made out of local, Indian [though more expensive are] made, components and assembled locally. The US Government is pursuing a WTO case saying that no, the rules are that you cannot do that. It must be possible for Indians to buy [cheaper] American made components and systems too…[I]f you’re an environmentalist who wants to have as many panels installed as quickly as possible…[you should be backing the U.S. so what sort of madness is it that has them siding with the Indian government?”

    “…Both the US and the EU are entirely crazed on the subject…Both have import taxes (or are at least about to impose them) on Chinese made panels. 60% in the case of the EU. Which is simply insane. Both governments are subsidising the installation of solar panels…[Instead of going for] those cheap panels…The actual response is to slap a tax on them to make them more expensive…and increase the subsidy that must be paid for their installation…[This is] crazed behaviour.

    “The actual argument used is that the Chinese government subsidises the Chinese manufacturers…Currently American taxpayers and consumers have to subsidise American producers. EU taxpayers and consumers have to subsidise EU producers…[Then the Chinese government says] we’ll make it so that Chinese taxpayers have to subsidise US and EU consumers and taxpayers. The correct response here is…‘Thanks very much. Send us some more.’ …[But they] tax the cheap imports and thus reject that free money on offer…[T]there’s something about renewables and solar panels that just sends people mad.”


    Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Tracker 1Q13; Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Infrastructure Installations by Technology and World Region

    1Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “Plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) deployments to the mass market have fueled a burst of activity in electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) infrastructure development, particularly in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. In these regions, public EVSE networks have been buoyed by large government investments to make PEVs more amenable to the domestic markets…

    “Now that the PEV market is becoming more established, however, this government backing is beginning to wane, driving the industry to develop more organically.”

    “Aside from government support, the growth of the EVSE industry is directly tied to the growth and dynamics of the PEV market, PEV owner charging behavior, industry standards, and existing grid infrastructures. These factors differ regionally…North America is the strongest market for PEVs, with strong sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)…

    “Because battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have been stronger in Europe and Asia Pacific, these regions have seen greater installations of faster charging EVSE technologies, such as DC fast chargers and battery swap stations. Navigant Research estimates that as of the first quarter of 2013, there are 48,705 publicly accessible charging stations installed globally…”

    Monday, April 8, 2013


    Ivanpah and the Future of Big Solar

    Jim Rossi, March 21, 2013 (Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization)

    “…[BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System may be about to change the world…At 377 net megawatts, the Ivanpah project is an order of magnitude bigger than any solar tower project constructed before. If successful, even bigger projects will follow…[BrightSource’s] predecessor, Israeli solar thermal company Luz…built the first big solar plant in the Mojave—the Solar Electric Generating Stations (SEGS)…in the 1980s. Nearb, the U.S. Department of Energy…[pioneered] both the solar tower design and the use of molten salt to store sunlight for nighttime electricity use…[Decades later] Silicon Valley entrepreneurs including Google seede… BrightSource…

    “…Ivanpah employed over 3,000 workers at the height of construction to build three 450-foot towers—each topped with an inside-out heat-trapping boiler. The towers are surrounded by three fields with a total of 173,500 heliostats (high-performance sun-tracking mirrors). The site spans over 3,600 acres, controlled by four control rooms (one for each tower and another command center), which use a proprietary computer system called SFINCS (Solar Field Integrated Control System) to operate the heliostats through 2,000 kilometers of wires. The project totals 22 million parts, not including the rivets.”

    “Two fields [will] sell their power to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the other to Southern California Edison. The total project was budgeted at nearly $2.2 billion, including almost $1.4 billion from a federal loan guarantee. BrightSource’s future—and maybe that of the entire solar thermal industry—has been riding on the plant’s success…BrightSource hopes to deploy storage…[in upcoming projects]…Those plants will also have taller towers…and control the heliostats wirelessly…[Such] steps expected to ‘scale up’ and significantly lower the per kilowatt-hour costs.

    “BrightSource employed dozens of field biologists to [protect and] relocate desert tortoises…[and installs the heliostats in a way] which allows most of the area’s plant life to simply be trimmed down instead of uprooted. The plant uses expensive dry-cooling technology, making its total annual water use only about…equivalent to the water used to maintain two holes of a golf course…[Ivanpah is] scheduled to power up this year…as the world’s largest solar thermal power plant.”


    Mass. Lawmakers Urge Energy Department To Approve Cape Wind Loan Guarantee

    5 April 2013 (North American Windpower)

    “The entire Massachusetts congressional delegation, including the state's nine U.S. representatives and two U.S. senators, has sent a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) [and the White House Office of Management and Budget] urging the department to approve the delayed loan guarantee for the Cape Wind offshore wind project…

    “…[T]he call for action comes two years after the DOE eliminated the Section 1705 loan-guarantee program and informed developer Cape Wind Associates that its application could not be processed by the program's Sept. 30, 2011, deadline. The application has been on hold ever since.”

    “The letter…[touts] the potential economic and environmental benefits of Cape Wind, which is planned for Nantucket Sound…[It] will create up to 1,000 jobs in Massachusetts during its construction and build a supply chain for the emerging offshore clean energy industry…[and, according] to the lawmakers, the Cape Wind project is construction-ready and represents a new era for the U.S. wind industry…

    “…Cape Wind is the first U.S. offshore wind farm to secure all of its federal, state and local permits and to have received a commercial lease and approval of its construction and operations plan…[after a] 10-year regulatory review…”


    Market Data: Biofuels; Ethanol, Biobutanol, Biodiesel, Green Diesel, Synthetic Gasoline, and Renewable Biojet Consumption and Production from Biomass Resources: Global Market Sizing, Segmentation, and Forecasts

    1Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “Biofuels are becoming big policy and big business as countries around the world look to decrease petroleum dependence, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector, and support agricultural interests…

    “…After more than a decade of healthy growth for conventional biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel, the next wave of advanced biofuels is currently on the cusp of commercial scale-up. Cellulosic ethanol, biobutanol, biodiesel, green diesel, synthetic gasoline, and renewable jet fuel are among the emerging class of advanced biofuels poised for growth…”

    “Conventional and advanced biofuels both face a number of headwinds, however, that will cause production to miss policy targets currently in place in more than 65 countries and territories…

    “Navigant Research forecasts that global biofuels production will reach 61 billion gallons by 2023, replacing nearly 6% of global transportation fuel production from fossil sources and generating $70 billion in new revenue over the next decade. Leading this expansion will be advanced drop-in biofuels production, with a compound annual growth rate of 14% between 2013 and 2023. The United States, Brazil, and the countries of the European Union are expected to remain the leading biofuels markets worldwide…”

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013


    Completion 0f Molten Salt Solar Receiver Sets Milestone in Nevada Solar Project Construction…

    April 2, 2013 (SolarReserve)

    “SolarReserve, a U.S. developer of large-scale solar power projects…announced completion of the assembly of the molten salt receiver panels that sits on top of the 540 foot solar power tower for its 110 megawatt (MW) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant located near Tonopah, Nev…[T]he Crescent Dunes Plant will be the nation’s first commercial-scale solar power tower facility with energy storage and the largest power plant of its kind in the world…

    “The project will utilize technology developed in the U.S. by SolarReserve and its technology partners to capture and store the sun’s energy in order to deliver a firm electricity supply to Nevada, day or night, without the need to burn fossil fuels. The molten salt ‘receiver’ is actually comprised of panels formed by hundreds of special alloy tubes which will be flowing with molten salt for energy absorption and storage…[T]he project will be capable of storing 10 hours of full load electricity production, enough to power 75,000 homes at peak electric demand periods, even after dark.”

    “The project closed financing and initiated construction in September of 2011 and is scheduled to complete construction and start plant commissioning at the end of 2013, including first electricity production by the end of the year. The Crescent Dunes project has secured a 25-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy to sell 100 percent of the electricity output…[It] is jointly owned by SolarReserve, ACS Cobra Group, a worldwide leader in the engineering and construction of power plants and thermal solar facilities, and Santander Group, a global financial services and banking leader. ACS Cobra’s Nevada-based affiliate, Cobra Thermosolar Plants Inc., is the general contractor…

    “Construction is expected to peak at more than 600 jobs on site during the 30-month construction period and is estimated to create more than 4,300 direct, indirect and induced jobs at companies throughout the U.S. that provide engineering, equipment supply and manufacturing, transportation and other value-added services. To date, orders for the project have been placed for equipment and services in more than 21 states. Once operational, the project will expend more than $10 million per year in salaries and operating costs, and is forecasted to generate $73 million in total tax revenues through the first 20 years of operation…”


    Seven Simple Strategies For Smart Grid Engagement

    Patty Durand, 27 March 2013 (Renew Grid)

    “…Finding the right approach to [to adequately engage, educate and understand consumers] is particularly critical for utilities that are pursuing advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployments… Smart Grid Customer Engagement Success Stories spotlights the strategies and tactics employed by four energy utilities in the U.S. - CenterPoint Energy, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison - to successfully engage customers about the benefits of the smart grid, smart meters, demand response and other enabling technology and devices for home energy management.

    “First, these utilities have deployed their smart meter programs across their service area…not just running pilot programs. Second, these utilities had evidence that strategic engagement through education and outreach programs engaged consumers in using the available smart grid technology. Finally, these utilities have documented authentic customer testimonials articulating the benefits…”

    “…[S]even successful customer engagement principles…[include] Educate customers before deployment…Anticipate and answer questions before customers ask them…Facilitate community engagement…Communicate ways to save via signing up for time-based prices and shifting usage off-peak…Deploy a user-friendly and information-rich web portal…Offer user-friendly smart grid-enabled technology, such as smart thermostats…[and] Create authentic customer testimonials…

    “As consumers become more educated about smart grid and smart meters and have access to more information such as pricing and automation applications, their knowledge and favorability grows…”


    Wireless Control Systems for Smart Buildings; ZigBee, EnOcean, Wi-Fi, and Other Wireless Networks for HVAC, Lighting, Fire & Safety, and Security & Access Control Systems in Commercial Buildings

    1Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “While building automation and controls have been used for decades, wireless is becoming the catalyst for enabling more granular and immediate control over building systems…

    “Wireless controls offer economic benefits due to the savings in labor costs for installation and maintenance…as well as the ability to install sensors and devices in buildings that cannot easily be torn apart to install wiring, such as historical buildings.”

    “Wireless controls can be used to link devices found in a variety of building systems, including lighting, HVAC, fire and safety, and security and access. Over the past decade, the use of wireless local networks in both consumer and commercial environments has increased dramatically…

    “…Wi-Fi technology has enabled users who found traditional networking too costly or complicated…Navigant Research forecasts that annual worldwide shipments of wireless nodes for building controls will surpass 36 million by 2020…”

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013


    Americans Want More Emphasis on Solar, Wind, Natural Gas; Oil, nuclear, and coal are more popular with Republicans and in the South

    Dennis Jacobe, March 27, 2013 (Gallup)

    “…[T]wo in three Americans want the U.S. to put more emphasis on producing domestic energy using solar power (76%), wind (71%), and natural gas (65%). Far fewer want to emphasize the production of oil (46%) and the use of nuclear power (37%). Least favored is coal, with about one in three Americans wanting to prioritize its domestic production.

    “Democrats' and independents' top choice is solar power, while natural gas places first among Republicans. Republicans and Democrats disagree most on the priority that should be given to oil as a future energy source -- with 71% of Republicans wanting more emphasis placed on it, compared with 29% among Democrats. Republicans are also much more supportive than Democrats of coal (51% vs. 21%) and nuclear power (49% vs. 30%).”

    “…[Americans] living in the South tend to be more supportive of traditional energy sources…[but] for Americans in every region, including the South, solar power is the top choice, or is tied for the top spot…

    “Americans overall and across political and socioeconomic groups generally are most likely to call for more emphasis on solar and wind power…[but] sharply divided politically over achieving greater domestic energy production using more traditional energy sources such as oil, coal, and nuclear power…This leaves natural gas, which 59% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and 79% of Republicans say should have more emphasis…But questions remain about the safety of "fracking technology" -- meaning public support may not be enough…”


    Who Was The Largest Solar EPC In 2012?

    28 March 2013 (Solar Industry)

    “For the first time, U.S.-based First Solar became the world's largest photovoltaic engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor in 2012, with more than 500 MW of projects completed. This total represented an increase of 50% over 2011's total, according to a new report from IMS Research, now part of IHS Inc.

    “…[A] major shift in global rankings occurred in 2012 due to the explosive growth witnessed in Asia and the Americas at the expense of Europe…Just four European EPCs appeared in IHS' top 10 rankings for 2012. Two other U.S.-based EPCs - SunEdison and SunPower - were also featured in the top 15, installing 390 MW and 190 MW, respectively…”

    “First Solar and SunEdison were found to have benefited from the huge utility-scale PV pipeline being constructed both in the U.S. and many other countries over a number of years. These projects include the 550 MW Topaz solar farm and the 290 MW Agua Caliente solar project…[Also high in the 2012 rankings were] Chinese companies linked to state-owned utilities and industrial companies that benefited from massive domestic demand in ground-mount projects…

    “…[A]n Indian company, Larsen & Toubro, appeared in the top 10 ranking for the first time…[with] nearly 200 MW of projects in 2012, nearly double the amount that it completed the year before. Like their Chinese counterparts, Indian EPCs remain in an excellent position to capitalize on the high growth of domestic ground-mount projects, according to the report…11 of the 30 largest EPCs last year were European, installing 2 GW of new capacity between them…These same companies are also becoming increasingly active in new emerging markets around the world, including Latin America and Asia…”


    Proposed Changes To CT's RPS: Great For Hydro, But Bad For Wind And Solar?

    21 March 2013 (Renew Grid)

    “The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is recommending that the state restructure its renewable portfolio standard (RPS)… to increase the standard's procurement requirements and allow large-scale hydropower to count toward the RPS.

    “Connecticut's RPS requires 27% of utilities' sales to come from renewable energy resources by 2020, with a Class I requirement of 20% by 2020. Under the state's current RPS, Class I resources include energy derived from solar power, wind energy…[and other renewables including] hydropower facilities not exceeding 5 MW…The DEEP recommends changing the state’s RPS to increase the Class I target from 20% by 2020 to 25% by 2025, and to allow the state to run a competitive bid process to buy a portion - 7.5% by 2025…to bring down the overall ratepayer cost of the RPS…”

    “However, the DEEP is also proposing to allow large-scale hydropower projects of greater than 30 MW to qualify as a Class I resource…That means large-scale hydropower could fulfill the requirement currently reserved for renewable energy resources like wind and solar…According to New England Clean Energy Council, because large hydro is a mature technology, it should not be eligible for the financial support that renewable energy credits (RECs) provide under the regular RPS. Instead, a clean energy standard or a separate RPS could allow large hydro to be incorporated into Connecticut's energy portfolio.

    [New England Clean Energy Council:] "If counted toward RPS targets, large hydro will meet a large portion of the demand created by those targets, reducing demand for smaller, local and regional renewables, lowering REC prices and thereby revenues to support new renewable projects…"

    Monday, April 1, 2013


    …six key components for consideration that we deem central to your climate change strategy and policy…

    March 2013 (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology)

    “…The first component aims to reduce the damage resulting from changes in climate (“adaptation”), while the last five aim to reduce the pace and magnitude of these changes (“mitigation”). Both approaches are essential parts of an integrated strategy for dealing with climate change. Mitigation is needed to avoid a degree of climate change that would be unmanageable despite efforts to adapt. Adaptation is needed because the climate is already changing and some further change is inevitable regardless of what is done to reduce its pace and magnitude…

    “…(1) Focus on national preparedness for climate change…(2) Continue efforts to “decarbonize” the economy, with an initial focus on the electricity sector…”

    “…(3) Level the playing field for clean energy and energy efficiency technologies by removing regulatory obstacles, addressing market failures, adjusting tax policies, and providing time-limited subsidies for clean energy when appropriate…(4) Sustain research on next-generation clean-energy technologies, and remove obstacles for their eventual deployment…

    “…(5) Take additional steps to establish U.S. leadership on climate change internationally…(6) Conduct an initial Quadrennial Energy Review (QER)…”


    Mammoth wind turbines will cut offshore costs by 40% in 7 years, developer says

    March 19, 2013 (ClimateWire via E&E Publishing)

    “…Dong Energy, the world's largest developer and operator of offshore wind farms [and a major developer and owner of conventional energy sources], aims to [build unprecedentedly large turbines to] cut the cost of wind energy in the [UK sector of the] North Sea to less than €100 ($130) per megawatt-hour by 2020 compared with €160 ($209) last year.

    “Dong's target is actually more ambitious than that of the U.K. government, which wants developers to cut the cost of offshore wind to £100 ($152) per MWh by 2020. It still wouldn't be as cheap as onshore wind, which currently costs about $85 per MWh, while coal costs $82 and natural gas costs $71…To get to €100 per MWh, Dong plans to radically increase the size of the offshore turbines it will install, from 3 to 4 megawatts currently to 8 to 10 MW in 2016 through 2020. Such turbines don't even exist yet…”

    “Vestas, the world's second-largest wind turbine maker, is working [with Dong] on an 8 MW offshore turbine, but it won't have a prototype ready for offshore testing until next year…[and] Dong, which last month asked the Danish government for an equity injection of $1.4 billion after losing money on natural gas storage investments in Germany, is planning to test two new Siemens 6 MW turbines [in Q2 2013 and both Siemens and GE are working toward 10 MW turbines]…

    “…[O]ffshore wind capacity [is projected to] grow to 40 gigawatts by 2020 from 4.9 GW now. Germany, which has pledged to shut down all its nuclear reactors by 2022, wants 25 GW of offshore wind installed by 2030, up from only about 280 MW now…[Denmark had 923 MW installed and 400 MW under construction in 2013 and is planning an additional 500 MW. It wants to get 50 percent of its electricity from wind] by 2020…France plans to install 6 GW of offshore wind, tidal and wave power by 2020…And the [UK, which] has 3 GW of offshore wind capacity, plans to increase that sixfold to 18 GW by 2020…[T]he Boston Consulting Group says the industry will fall short of 40 GW by 2020 because of lack of funding…[and] says a capacity of 25 GW is more realistic…”


    PV: Europe holds the upside wildcard, but trade war impact should not be underestimated

    Michael Barker, 21 March 2013 (PV Magazine)

    “…[Europe’s market share PV lead is quickly being] overtaken by the Asian market which, as a region, is being driven by the major Asia-Pacific markets of China, Japan, India, and Australia…as European policy-makers have been rapidly and aggressively cutting PV incentive programs…If these policy-reductions continue, the European market is anticipated to contract by another 26% in 2013…[I]n Asia, strong government support has led to…Y/Y growth of approximately 50% in 2012 and growth of over 50% is anticipated in 2013…

    “…[F]orecasts for end-market demand can quickly change as policy adjustments have immediate and dramatic impacts…[G]iven the European market’s maturity, it would be easy for the region to rapidly process any positive policy movement into a strong uptick in demand…Growth in the European market would help push 2013 end-market volumes past the 40 GW mark, thus getting closer to the 45 GW supply levels currently in play…[but]a European rebound is difficult to imagine…”

    “…[Demand from China is projected to account for more than 50% of total Asian end-market volumes…However, given the ongoing trade disputes, many of which directly target Chinese-produced components, the China/Europe balance can be examined another way…[I]f no Chinese produced modules can enter the European market…European demand is set to exceed 12 GW in 2013…Global non-Chinese PV module capacity – both c-Si and thin-film – is approximately twice that level…

    “While this may give some hope that the industry could achieve rationalization and increase prices if it weren’t for China…incentive policies are not going to be reinstated to previous levels and the PV industry has reached a point where future growth is dependent on current or lower pricing levels…[E]ven if supply/demand rationalization was achieved in the near term, the market would need to maintain current pricing levels in order to maintain demand…[T]he impact of the trade wars cannot be underestimated. With Europe effectively being the ‘swing state’ in 2013 PV demand, the timing of the EU trade investigation could not have come at a more critical junction…”