NewEnergyNews More: May 2013

NewEnergyNews More

Every day is Earthday.

Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart



Your intrepid reporter


    A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.


Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Wednesday, May 29, 2013


    Terra-Gen gets OK on wind farm in wake of condor decision; U.S. officials approve project, which is taking advanced measures to keep turbines from harming condors. Earlier, Terra-Gen was told it would not be prosecuted if a condor is accidentally killed.

    Louis Shahagun, May 24, 2013 (LA Times)

    “…[The Tehachapi Mountains] will soon bristle with antennas and listening devices designed to protect endangered California condors…[at] the future home of Terra-Gen Power's 2,300-acre Alta Windpower Development…[T]hat project will include equipment to detect incoming condors soon enough to switch off the company's massive wind turbines before they slice into one of the birds. [It is a new standard for wind energy facilities]…

    “…The high-tech equipment and other steps Terra-Gen will take to avoid killing the endangered condors is the chief reason that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has granted [the company’s 153-megawatt project, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles] a unique exception to the Endangered Species Act. For the first time, a company will not be prosecuted if it accidentally kills a condor. [Penalties for killing a condor can be up to $100,000 in fines and one year imprisonment for an individual, and up to $200,000 in fines for an organization. To date, there is no record of a condor fatality linked to a wind energy facility]…”

    “Fish and Wildlife officials say they believe the likelihood of killing a condor is low at Alta because it is outside the bird's historic range and it will be situated on the leeward slopes, where thermal updrafts are rare. Condors use updrafts to gain altitude and soar on 10-foot wingspans…To reduce possible harm to wildlife, including golden eagles, Terra-Gen voluntarily reduced the size of the project from 106 turbines to 51. The 450-foot-tall structures will be spread across four square miles, most of which is publicly owned…

    “…The system will include a telemetry system to track signals from radio transmitters already attached to tagged condors, radar to detect untagged birds and on-site biologists to report condor sightings. If a condor ventures within two miles, the speed of rotating turbine blades will be reduced within 2 minutes to about 3 mph. [The company plans to share its detection data with neighboring wind farms, an alternative energy hot spot in eastern Kern County with thousands of turbines that have been in operation for decades. The company also will provide $100,000 per year to condor recovery activities]…”


    Power in the Desert: Ivanpah on the Verge; Awesome or a blight on the desert? See Ivanpah, near completion in the Mojave, in all its glory.

    Pete Danko, May 23, 2013 (Greentech Media)

    “The giant Ivanpah solar thermal project in the Mojave Desert is now 92 percent complete…The 377-megawatt project consists of three 459-foot-tall towers encircled by arrays of garage-door-sized mirror sets. Those computer-controlled heliostats -- 153,990 out of 173,500 of which are now in place -- will reflect the sun onto the receiving towers, heating water to create steam that will drive turbines that produce electricity.”

    “The government-backed project has drawn criticism from some environmentalists, most notably for its impact on a fragile endangered desert tortoise habitat and, more recently, for dust problems linked to the development. But others view it as a remarkable step forward in the search for clean, sustainable energy…”


    Switch to low-carbon future would save households £1,600; A saving of £45bn should be good news, but the study’s conclusions clash with the pursuit of gas

    Tom Bawden, 23 May 2013 (UK Independent)

    “…Overturning the general consensus that green electricity is more expensive than gas-generated power, a parliamentary advisory committee finds that while ‘decarbonising’ the energy supply will cost more in the next few years, the expense will quickly become negligible and will save British households £45bn, or £1,600 apiece, after 2030…[And even if] Britain is sitting on vast amounts of accessible shale gas… – which won’t be clear for at least a few years - the case for a low-carbon energy revolution in the UK is still ‘robust’, adds the Climate Change Committee (CCC) report…

    “The report…provides by far the most [long term] comprehensive analysis of the relative cost of gas and low-carbon energy sources…It concedes that subsidies already in place to green Britain’s energy supply will add £100 to the average annual household energy bill between 2010 and 2020…[and that] a predominantly green energy supply - in which 90 per cent of electricity is generated from low-carbon sources by 2030 - would add a further £20 by the end of the next decade.”

    “But after that, the upfront costs of renewable energy plants such as wind and solar, will have been largely paid for, while developments in fledgling low-carbon technologies will dramatically reduce its cost – meaning that by 2050, consumers will be much better off than if the energy generators focused that investment on gas power plants…

    “…Britain is legally bound to generate 15 per cent of its energy – or about a third of its electricity – from renewable sources by 2020. But unless MPs vote through the 2030 decarbonisation amendment, there will be no low-carbon electricity target beyond 2020…The CCC’s £45bn [savings] estimate…could potentially rise as high £100bn – or more than £3,000 per household…”

    Tuesday, May 28, 2013


    Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO); U.S. Electricity and Heat Generation from Renewables

    May 2013 (EIA)

    “… EIA projects renewable energy consumption for power and heat generation to increase by 3.3 percent in 2013. While hydropower declines by 2.2 percent, non-hydropower renewables grow by an average of 7.1 percent in 2013. In 2014, the growth in renewables consumption for power and heat generation is projected to continue at a rate of 4.4 percent, as a 1.8‐percent increase in hydropower is combined with a 6.0‐percent increase in non-hydropower renewables.

    “EIA currently estimates that wind capacity will increase by 7 percent this year to nearly 63,000 megawatts, and reach almost 73,000 megawatts in 2014. However, electricity generation from wind is projected to increase by 19 percent in 2013, as capacity that came on line at the end of 2012 is available for the entire year in 2013. Wind‐powered generation is projected to grow by 8 percent in 2014.”

    “EIA expects continued robust growth in the generation of solar energy, both from central‐station and distributed capacity, although the total amount remains a small share of total U.S. generation. Central‐station capacity, which until recently experienced little growth compared with distributed capacity, is projected to more than double between 2012 and 2014…

    “Photovoltaics (PV) accounted for all central‐station solar growth in 2012, but EIA expects that several large solar thermal generation projects will enter service in 2013 and 2014. However, PV is still expected to account for the majority of central station and distributed capacity additions in 2013 and 2014…”


    Google X Acquires Makani Power And Its Airborne Wind Turbines

    Frederic Lardinois, May 22, 2013 (AOL Tech)

    “After previously investing in the company, Google has now acquired Makani Power, a green energy startup that is currently building airborne wind turbines…Google invested $10 million…in 2006 and another $5 million in 2008…[This seems to mark] the first time Google has acquired a company specifically for its Google X skunkworks.

    “…Google CEO Larry Page [reportedly] approved the acquisition…[and said X has] the budget and the people to go do this…lMakani] was founded by Saul Griffith and Don Montague, a former World Cup windsurfer. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed…Google has confirmed this acquisition…[Makani hopes that the acquisition will provide resources to accelerate wind energy becoming cost competitive with fossil fuels. It comes just a week after the company completed the first autonomous flight of its Wing 7 prototype…”

    “Creating clean energy is one of the most pressing issues facing the world, [a Google statement said,]…Makani Power’s technology has opened the door to a radical new approach to wind energy. They’ve turned a technology that today involves hundreds of tons of steel and precious open space into a problem that can be solved with really intelligent software. We’re looking forward to bringing them into Google[X].

    “…The Makani Airborne Wind Turbines, which resemble mini airplanes, are launched when wind speeds reach 3.5 meters per second. Rotors on each blade help propel it into orbit, and double as turbines once airborne. The blades are tethered to the ground with a cord that delivers power to throw them into the sky and receives energy generated by the turbines to be sent to the grid-connected ground station.”

    Saturday, May 25, 2013


    Tesla Motors pays off Department of Energy advanced technology loan

    Jerry Hirsch, May 22, 2013 (LA Times)

    “Upstart electric car maker Tesla Motors…paid off a Department Energy loan that had become a political hot potato…Tesla owed the federal government $451.8 million on a loan that was part of a special program to develop alternative fuel vehicles and renewable energy sources…

    “Tesla has raised about $900 million this month in stock and debt offering deals and is expected to raise another $100 million in the coming days…Its shares have more than doubled in the last year, helped by the automaker’s first-ever quarterly profit earlier this month and its success selling the Model S electric sports sedan…The Energy Department’s loan program, which includes major automakers such as Nissan’s U.S. division, gained notoriety after the 2011 bankruptcy of Solyndra…cost taxpayers more than $400 million…”

    “Last month, Fisker Automotive of Anaheim defaulted on a similar loan, which could cost taxpayers $171 million…[Tesla will also use the money to expand sales abroad, develop its Model X, a sport utility vehicle, and start work on a less expensive vehicle that would extend its customer base and manufacturing volumes]… The [stylish, fast] Model S starts at about $62,000 and can top $100,000, depending on trim level and options…”

    [Ernest Moniz, Secretary, Department of Energy:] “When you’re talking about cutting-edge clean energy technologies, not every investment will succeed…but today’s repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department’s portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated.”

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013


    Clean energy means more jobs, not less

    Nancy LaPlaca, May 20, 2013 (AZ Capitol Times)

    The Arizona Republican Party recently issued a press release stating that I want to “eliminate 1,000 coal jobs” on Navajo land. That statement is so far removed from reality that it warrants a direct response.

    The issue that raised their ire was my asking whether spending $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion of ratepayer money to purchase the departing ownership shares of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and NV Energy, and update the air quality systems at the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) is a wise investment. Given that our neighboring states and utilities around the country are abandoning coal and investing heavily in natural gas and renewable energy generation, is sinking good money into a 40-year-old plant our only choice?

    When studies show that for every $1 spent, clean energy creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels, what’s wrong with looking into alternative investments? Clean energy can increase the number of available jobs and address environmental and health issues people are concerned about. We know that coal fuel and compliance costs are going to continue to increase as time goes on, so why invest in technologies that only increase the cost of electricity? Why restrict the Navajo economy when diversifying the energy mix at NGS by adding wind, solar PV or solar CSP could create 3,000 new jobs?

    What I want, along with many others, is to diversify and transform the Navajo economy by expanding the mix of energy and create even more jobs that could be filled by Navajo and Hopi people. I want them to earn higher wages, enjoy better working conditions, lead healthier lives and have better career options for generations to come.

    Leave it to the Arizona Republican leadership to want to continue to limit the economic, employment and investment opportunities in Native American lands by willfully ignoring new opportunities and energy trends.

    One thing that has been sorely missing from Arizona in recent years is an open and honest dialogue about our energy future. The free market in the U.S. is moving away from coal and toward other forms of generation, including renewables and natural gas. A diversified energy portfolio that employs renewable energy at NGS will employ more people at higher wages than work there now. We should explore and discuss this opportunity rather than dismissing it out-of-hand for purely political purposes.

    Think about it: Arizona has far more to gain from increasing clean energy than it has to lose from reducing coal-fired power. As the sunniest state in the U.S., let’s lead the way — and have an open discussion.

    Nancy LaPlaca is exploring a 2014 candidacy for the Arizona Corporation Commission.


    Germany Has More Solar Power Because Everyone Wins

    John Farrell, February 8 and May 20, 2013 (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

    “…[Most have figured out it is not the Germany’s solar resource or policies make it a world solar industry force. There is also a] ‘Germans pay a lot extra’ meme. Germans do, and are perfectly happy with it, but…[the] real reason Germany dominates in solar (and wind) is their commitment to democratizing energy.

    “Half of their renewable power is owned by ordinary Germans, because that wonky sounding feed-in tariff (often known as a CLEAN Contract Program in America) makes it ridiculously simple and safe for someone to park their money in generating solar electricity on their roof instead of making pennies in interest at the bank.”

    “It also makes their “energy change” movement politically bulletproof. Germans aren’t tree-hugging wackos…[T]hey are investing by the tens of thousand in a clean energy future that is putting money back in their pockets and creating well over 300,000 new jobs (at last count). Their policy makes solar cost half as much to install as it does in America, where the free market’s red tape…

    “…In a country founded on the concept of self-reliance (goodbye, tea imports!), we finance clean energy with tax credits that make wind and solar reliant on Wall Street instead of Main Street. We largely preclude participation by the ordinary citizen unless they give up ownership of their renewable energy system to a leasing company. We make clean energy a complicated alternative to business as usual, while the cloudy, windless Germans make the energy system of the future by making it stupid easy and financially rewarding…[L]et’s learn the real secret to German energy engineering and start making democratic energy in America.”


    As U.S. DOJ Investigates, Duke Works Adaptive Management Plan

    Mark Del Franco, 16 May 2013 (North American Windpower)

    “Duke Energy Renewables has confirmed that it is a subject of a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) preliminary investigation resulting from…10 golden eagle deaths…at its 200 MW Top of the World wind farm since the wind farm began operating in October 2010…[and] three golden eagle fatalities at its 99 MW Campbell Hill wind farm since December 2009.

    “Golden eagles receive federal protection under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA)…[Duke Energy Renewables] has employed several adaptive management techniques…[T]he company has taken to removing objects and debris from its Wyoming sites, such as animal carcasses, to clear anything that birds and other avian species…find attractive…”

    “The company also employs biologists to watch for birds at the sites…If eagles are spotted…[the biologists notify Duke's] Renewable Energy Monitoring Center (REMC) to stop the turbines…Duke went so far as to employ a radar surveillance system featuring the same technology used by the U.S. military to detect missiles in Afghanistan…

    “Thus far, Duke's adaptive management efforts have resulted in zero golden eagle fatalities at either wind farm since September 2012…Duke is in a much better position to understand - and therefore protect - avian species, such as golden eagles…”


    Renewable energy generation in Texas continues to grow, up 7 percent from 2011; Wind power continues to lead, with notable gains in solar generation

    May 16, 2013 (Electricity Reliability Council of Texas)

    “Electric generation from renewable resources in Texas increased 7 percent in 2012, compared to 2011, with capacity up by about 16 percent…[according to The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)…2012 Annual Report on the Renewable Energy Credit Trading Program.

    “Generators participating in the state’s renewable energy credit trading program reported 33.9 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable generation in 2012, compared to 31.7 million MWh in 2011 — a 7 percent overall increase. At more than 32.5 million MWh in total generation, wind power continued to lead the pack, with solar generation representing the largest rate of growth, nearly quadrupling last year’s output, and energy from biomass sources more than doubling the 2011 total.”

    “A renewable energy credit (REC) is a tradable instrument that represents one megawatt-hour, or MWh, of renewable energy produced. That is roughly the amount of power consumed by an average home in a month. Competitive retail electric providers must acquire and retire renewable energy credits annually based on their load-ratio share of the state’s renewable portfolio standard mandate. Any electric provider may voluntarily retire renewable energy credits to substantiate claims that power they are selling comes from renewable resources.

    “The Texas Legislature established the renewable portfolio standard as part of the restructuring of the state’s electricity market in 1999 to increase incentives for renewable energy production. The PUC implemented the REC program in 2001 and established ERCOT as the administrator…”

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013


    Groups credit natural gas, renewables with steep emissions cuts in power sector

    Dan Lowry, May 15, 2013 (SNL)

    “U.S. power plant emissions from the nation's largest generators continued to fall in 2011 even as overall electricity output rose…Since Congress passed major amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990, power plant NOx emissions have fallen 70% and SO2 emissions have dropped 72%. Carbon dioxide emissions have declined 7% from 2008 to 2011…The highest CO2 emission rates came from states that are heavily reliant on coal, including Wyoming and Kentucky…

    “…[T]he steep emissions cuts [were due] to a shift away from coal-fired generation toward lower-emitting energy sources, such as renewables and natural gas. Between 2000 and 2011, natural gas generation rose 69% in the U.S. and renewable generation grew 44%. Coal generation dropped 12%, but still represented 44% of the power generated by the 100 largest generators, by far the largest…”

    “The top 100 power producers own more than 2,600 power plants and account for 86% of domestic electricity generation…Air pollution emissions from power plants, while declining overall, are highly concentrated primarily among three power producers: Southern Co., American Electric Power Co. Inc. and NextEra Energy Inc...

    “…AEP and Southern have been preparing to retire thousands of megawatts of coal-fired capacity, convert coal units to natural gas or installing emission control equipment on certain units, in order to reduce emissions and meet new federal air regulations…AEP plans to retire about 6,000 MW of coal-fired capacity and install additional pollution controls on more than 10,000 MW of capacity by 2020…[Cuts in] NOx and SO2 emissions…[are ahead of cuts in] mercury and CO2 emissions. Coal-fired plants were responsible for 81% of CO2 emissions, compared to 18% for gas-fired plants…Texas was the leading emitter of CO2, followed by Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Indiana.”


    Wind Energy’s Shadow: Turbines Drag Down Power Potential; Renewable-energy experts maintain the world is far from reaching a saturation point.

    David LaGesse, May 16, 2013 (National Geographic)

    “…[S]ome scientists are…arguing that the laws of physics will limit wind's potential for meeting the world's energy needs. The controversy arises from the turbines themselves…[R]esearchers have explored the issue of turbines stealing energy from the wind, creating drag or a ‘wind shadow’ of air slowed by the spinning blades. Each turbine added to a particular landscape captures less energy…[At a point, more turbines may produce] no more energy…

    “…[But the potential of wind] is far above the levels we are seeing harvested in even the most aggressive wind-energy countries today…Many proponents of replacing fossil fuels count on wind power as the single biggest source of renewable energy for the nation's future. Industry experts, for example, have predicted wind could supply a third of the world's electricity by 2050…[and it would take billions of turbines worldwide] for wind energy to become oversaturated to the point that it undermines its own effectiveness…”

    “…[The Jacobson and Archer] study projected that producing half the world's energy needs in 2030, or six terawatts of energy, would take some four million 5-megawatt (MW) turbines…Jacobson contends that even that large number of turbines could be spaced in such a way to keep them from robbing each other of efficiency…Even eight megasize wind farms, each with a half-million turbines, would prove efficient enough to output a total of four terawatts, or about a third of the world's projected energy needs in 2030, according to his paper…[Four million turbines] spread among thousands of wind farms…would boost the turbines' efficiency enough…[to] provide at least half the world's energy needs, Jacobson said…

    “Geography and politics will combine to limit turbine placement to certain areas, and the question of diminishing returns from dense arrays will become a significant factor [other researchers say]…No doubt, the models will be refined as research continues [they argue]…”


    World Trade Organization Delivers Blow to Solar PV Domestic Content Proponents

    Michael Barker, May 15, 2013 (SolarBuzz)

    “…[T]he World Trade Organization (WTO) released its final ruling in the dispute concerning Ontario, Canada’s local content requirements (LCRs) for its internal FIT program…[T]his ruling ends a process that was initiated almost three years ago when Japan first filed a complaint – in September 2010 – alleging that Ontario’s LCRs violated trade agreements. It then took more than two years for a decision upholding the complaint…

    “The ruling immediately affects the Canadian market…[L]ess than 50% of [the PV project application pipeline in Ontario of almost 1 GW] has actually received notice to proceed. This means that the Ontario market – which is almost wholly responsible for Canadian market demand – could become moribund within a few years as the PV project pipeline is exhausted and not renewed…[The] ruling could also have implications beyond Canada, as domestic content requirements (DCRs) exist…[in eight of the top 30 global markets] representing almost 60 GW of PV demand over the next five years.”

    “…[The ruling means] many of the content requirements in place will be found to be in violation of WTO rules. In fact, there are currently several cases very similar to the Ontario dispute already under investigation by the WTO; concerning countries such as India, Italy, and Greece.

    “The current ruling against such policies may drive more complaints being filed…increasing the scope of the current global trade disputes. Also, many PV incentive programs are being implemented as a broad economic policy, intended to stimulate both upstream and downstream PV industry activity. If countries are forced to abandon the former part of this strategy, it is possible that they will also remove the latter, thus jeopardizing future demand…”

    Monday, May 20, 2013


    For Insurers, No Doubts on Climate Change

    Eduardo Porter, May 14 2013 (NY Times)

    “…[N]atural catastrophes across the United States pounded insurers last year, generating$35 billion in privately insured property losses, $11 billion more than the average over the last decade…And the industry expects the situation will get worse…Most insurers, including the reinsurance companies that bear much of the ultimate risk in the industry, have little time for the arguments heard in some right-wing circles that climate change isn’t happening…[and accept that it is caused by humans. But]…the focus of insurers’ advocacy efforts is zoning rules and disaster mitigation [instead of prevention].

    …[The concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere [recently] reached 400 parts per million…The milestone puts the earth nearer a point of no return, many scientists think, when vast, disruptive climate change is baked into our future…[So] why hasn’t corporate America done more to sway its allies in the Republican Party to try to avert a disaster that would clearly be devastating to its own interests?”

    “…[The insurance industry may want to avoid] controversies over energy policy. But perhaps its executives simply don’t feel so vulnerable. Like farmers, who are largely protected from the ravages of climate change by government-financed crop insurance, insurers also have less to fear than it might at first appear…The federal government covers flood insurance, among the riskiest kind in this time of crazy weather. And insurers can raise premiums or even drop coverage to adjust to higher risks. Indeed, despite Sandy and drought, property and casualty insurance in the United States was more profitable in 2012 than in 2011, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

    “But the industry…[is evolving. Insurance companies] dropped their support for [the Heartland Institute, and Heartland VP Eli Lehrer, who led an insurance-financed project, left to help]…start the R Street Institute, a standard conservative organization…[that] believes in climate change and supports a carbon tax…[I]t is financed largely with insurance industry money…[Some Republicans in the House and Senate] would be open to legislation to help avert climate change…[and Exelon is sympathetic, probably] because a carbon tax would give an edge to gas over its dirtier rival, coal…[but] with the exception of 2004 and 2005, when a string of hurricanes from Ivan to Katrina caused damage worth more than $200 billion…they haven’t yet experienced hefty, sustained losses attributable to climate change…[T]he best hope for those concerned about climate change…[is] that global warming isn’t just devastating for society, but also bad for business.”


    UK Green Investment Bank mobilises £2.3bn investment in UK’s low-carbon infrastructure

    09 May 2013 (Green Investment Bank)

    “The UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB)…investment impact of its first five months of operation (up to 31st March 2013)…[1] Committed funds to 11 transactions with a total value of £2.3 billion…[2] Directly committed £635 million, resulting in a funding ratio that sees £1 from GIB mobilising almost £3 of private sector money…[3] Supported transactions in all of its priority sectors: offshore wind, energy efficiency and waste; and…[4] Completed all transactions on fully commercial terms in line with co-investors.

    “…[P]rovisional results indicate that, once operational, these investments will, on an annualised basis…[1] Save over 2.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions; the equivalent today of taking around 1 million cars off UK roads; and…[2] Generate around 10TWh of renewable electricity; the equivalent today of the annual domestic electricity consumption of around 2.3m UK homes.”

    “Projects that have been backed include…[1] A new clean energy centre at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge to help the NHS Trust reduce their emissions and save money…[2] An equity stake in an offshore wind farm; and…[3] A local authority managed recycling centre in Wakefield, West Yorkshire to reduce waste sent to landfill and capture energy from waste.

    “GIB has also made progress in building an enduring institution…[1, The] Bank will move into a new permanent home [in Edinburgh] in August…[2] A team of 74 people has been recruited and…[it] rise to 100 by the end of this calendar year…[3] A strong transaction pipeline is in place…[and, 4] An investment alliance with Abu Dhabi backed clean energy firm, Masdar has been signed to bring in additional funding…over the next seven years…”


    Xcel Energy and NCAR power up renewable energy forecasts

    2013 May 8 (Xcel Energy)

    “Xcel Energy…expanded [its] agreement with the National Center for Atmospheric Research for sophisticated renewable energy forecasting…[A]n existing relationship… has saved Xcel Energy’s 3.4 million electricity customers in eight states millions of dollars [including more than $6 million in 2010]…

    “In the next two years, NCAR scientists and engineers will develop custom forecasting systems to enable Xcel Energy control centers in Minneapolis, Denver, Golden, Colo., and Amarillo, Tex., to anticipate sudden changes in wind, shut down turbines ahead of potentially damaging icing events and even predict the amount of energy generated by private solar panels [and it will eventually publish the results]…”

    “The new project represents the latest venture by NCAR into renewable energy, which includes a three-year, nationwide project to create 36-hour forecasts of incoming energy from the sun for solar energy power plants…The systems will help Xcel Energy provide reliable power…and reduce costs while…[using more] wind and solar…in its territories served by Public Service Co. of Colorado, Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, NSP-Wisconsin and Southwestern Public Service Co…

    “…The specialized system relies on a suite of tools, including highly detailed observations of atmospheric conditions, an ensemble of powerful computer models, and artificial intelligence techniques to issue high-resolution forecasts for wind farm sites…[They] will provide ‘probabilistic forecasts,’ estimating the chances that a particular weather event will occur. This means that utility managers will be able to make decisions based on whether there is an 80 percent chance of certain weather events at a wind farm the next day or a 20 percent chance…Ultimately, Xcel Energy will control the systems…”

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013


    Minnesota’s Proposed Solar Standard in Comparison

    John Farrell, April 25, 2013 (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

    “Some Minnesota legislators are getting a little weak-kneed listening to utility lobbyists make hugely ironic claims about the cost of the proposed solar standard and thinking about how much solar this is…Time for some context.

    “The originally proposed 10% solar energy standard might have been ambitious by national standards, but the current 4% by 2025 target (with municipal utilities and cooperatives exempted – boo) might earn Minnesota the rank of #5 in solar sometime after 2020, if no one else joins the fray…”

    “…California and Hawai’i aren’t pictured because the former is already at 1.7% solar and the latter is approaching 3%, with such favorable economics that they don’t need a standard to drive adoption.

    “Minnesota’s solar economics will be similarly robust in about eight years, but it’s the near term opportunity to establish a market and build manufacturing capacity to serve the Midwest that makes the standard a crucial piece of the state’s energy future.”


    Block Island Gets First Chance To Weigh In On Wind Turbines

    Judy Benson, May 10, 2013 (McClatchy News Service via Hartford Courant)

    “...[A public meeting] offered the first chance in two years for [Block Island] residents to publicly take a side on the 30-megawatt turbine wind farm proposed for a site 3 miles off the southeast shore. It also was the first litmus test of island support since the $300 million project to erect five 650-foot turbines entered the permitting phase…The project is on track to be the nation's first offshore wind farm, though similar turbines have been operating in Denmark, Germany and elsewhere for several years…

    “With an audience of about 100 of their neighbors, 24 speakers said Providence-based Deepwater Wind's proposal would benefit the island economically and environmentally, while setting an example for the rest of the country…Another 12 speakers argued that the turbines would compromise the views that are a main asset of the island's tourism-based economy and expressed skepticism and mistrust of Deepwater Wind. Three others did not express outright support or opposition but instead urged caution as the process proceeds…Several speakers qualified their support with admonitions that decision-makers ensure the company sets aside adequate funds to decommission the turbines when they no longer produce power…That point also was made by the Town Council in its letters of support…The five-member council supports the project 3-2…”

    “The hearing was called by the state's Department of Environmental Management, which is considering an application from Deepwater to dredge about 20 miles of trenches for cables connecting the five turbines to Block Island, and from there to landfall at Narragansett Town Beach and on to a National Grid substation…[A Narragansett hearing] drew a similar turnout, but more of the speakers were opposed…The cable to Narragansett would be Block Island's first power connection to the mainland, a $20 million to $40 million infrastructure upgrade the island has been seeking for 20 years.

    “…[T]he Narragansett Town Council voted to put off until June 3 negotiations with Deepwater over easements..for the cable…[Deepwater] said that in response to concerns raised in Narragansett, it will propose [to underground the proposed cable]…Several Block Islanders supporting the wind farm said the reality of climate change convinces them that the island must do its part…[and] urged opponents to look beyond their concerns about views to the bigger picture…Maya Veldman Wilson, a school-aged resident…read a poem calling the turbines ‘heroes of the future’ and ‘giants’ that speak through the wind…’They only spin. They don't hurt anybody,’ she said…”


    VC Funding in Smart Grid Sector Remains Flat in Q1 2013 with $62 Million…Pace of funding largely unchanged for last five quarters

    May 2013 (Mercom Capital Group)

    “…Smart grid venture capital (VC) funding in Q1 2013 totaled $62 million in nine deals. The quarter’s funding was nearly identical to the first quarter of 2012, when the same amount was raised by smart grid companies but in 10 deals instead of nine. With the lone exception of home security and automation company’s $136 million raise in Q3 2012, the pace of funding has remained largely unchanged for the past five quarters…

    “The Top 5 VC deals in Q1 2013 raised a combined $52 million. The top two VC deals each raised $15 million. Cylance, a provider of cyber security products for the infrastructure industry, raised $15 million from Khosla Ventures and Fairhaven Capital in a Series A round, and Sentient Energy, a developer of advanced grid monitoring solutions…raised $15 million in an undisclosed round from Foundation Capital…”

    “There were only four M&A transactions in Q1 2013. One of the transactions; Toshiba Corporation’s acquisition of privately-held energy management company Consert, was disclosed for a total of $11 million. Last quarter, $22 million in M&A activity was disclosed in the same number of transactions.

    “Despite a rather slow quarter, the smart grid sector saw a rare IPO. Silver Spring Networks, a provider of smart grid products and services to utilities, raised $81 million by offering 4.75 million shares at $17.”

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013


    MidAmerican Energy will invest $1.9 billion in wind projects in Iowa

    William Petroski, May 8, 2013 (Iowa Politics)

    “…MidAmerican Energy will make a $1.9 billion investment in Iowa for wind energy projects that will be the biggest single economic investment ever in the state…MidAmerican officials said no sites have been selected yet…MidAmerican Energy Co. will add up to 1,050 megawatts of wind generation, consisting of up to 656 new wind turbines, in Iowa by year-end 2015…The wind expansion will enhance economic development and provide in excess of $360 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years…Landowner payments totaling $3.2 million per year also are expected…

    “…[T]he expansion is planned to be built at no net cost to the company’s customers and will help stabilize electric rates over the long term by providing a rate reduction totaling $10 million per year by 2017, commencing with a $3.3 million reduction in 2015, MidAmerican officials said…MidAmerican Energy began building wind projects in 2004. To date, 1,267 wind turbines [and 2,285 megawatts of wind generation capacity] have been installed in Iowa, representing a total investment of approximately $4 billion. [It is No. 1 in wind ownership among rate-regulated utilities] In light of the recent federal wind production tax credit extension, the company said it is asking to expand its wind generation capacity…”

    “MidAmerican Energy estimates that by January 2016, when all new wind generation is expected to be operating, it may be capable of generating approximately 39 percent of its retail generation output through wind generation during that month…If the expansion is approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, MidAmerican Energy will own and operate approximately 3,335 megawatts of wind generation capacity in Iowa by year-end 2015, officials said…

    “…[C]ompanies such as Facebook and Google want clean energy, so the move also could attract new developments…[T]he project will keep Iowa on track to generate 10,000 megawatts of wind power by 2020, and will help support jobs at turbine-component businesses and blade manufacturers…The utility’s project will boost Iowa’s overall nameplate wind generation, from all sources, by 20 percent, to 6,000 megawatts from 5,000 megawatts currently…The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that Iowa would have to produce 10,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2020, and 20,000 by 2030 to meet environmental groups’ goal to have the country produce 20 percent of its power from wind by 2030.”


    New Poll Finds Minnesota Power Customers Overwhelmingly Support Clean Energy And Energy Efficiency, Shift Away From Fossil Fuels In Minnesota; As Minnesota Power Sets Its Long-Term Energy Plan, More than 8-in-10 Customers Say “We Need to Fundamentally Change the Way We Get Our Energy”

    May 1, 2013 (Sierra Club)

    “…[A new poll] shows that voters in the Minnesota Power service area overwhelmingly favor using clean, renewable energy sources…as Minnesota’s long-term energy plan – otherwise known as its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – is under review by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. As the utility plans the next 15 years ofits energy mix, more than 8-in-10 voters…[favor a fundamental change is needed in the way Minnesota gets energy] by modernizing the electric grid to maximize energy efficiency and wind and solar energy use…

    “In February, Minnesota Power announced that it will stop burning coal in one unit at its Taconite Harbor plant, and convert units at its Syl Laskin coal plant to burn natural gas in the next few years. Rather than phasing out coal at unit 4 at its Boswell plant, the utility announced plans to invest more than $350 million to retrofit a unit at the plant to comply with modern pollution standards.”

    “According to the poll, three-in-four voters agree that ‘Minnesota utilities should reduce our need for coal and other fossil fuels by increasing energy efficiency and using more clean, renewable energy.’ Almost eight in ten voters (79 percent) support phasing out Minnesota’s oldest coal-burning power plants and replacing them with greater use of clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency…More than two-thirds of voters polled reported that they are concerned about the health risks…from Minnesota Power’s coal-fired power plants…[and 61 percent] are concerned about climate change…

    “Aside from popular support for phasing out coal-fired power plants, the poll also found that voters in the Minnesota Power service area were in favor of setting clean energy goals and undertaking large-scale efficiency efforts to conserve energy and…[76 percent] support ensuring that electric utilities in Minnesota get at least 10 percent of their electricity from solar power by the year 2030…Eight in ten voters (83 percent) polled also support incentives for Minnesota’s largest energy users to become [20 percent] more energy efficient…”

    Monday, May 13, 2013


    New Study: Distributed Solar Energy Provides $34 Million in Benefits to Arizona Ratepayers

    May 10, 2013 (Solar Energy Industries Association)

    “…[D]istributed solar generation (DG) and net energy metering will provide Arizona Public Service (APS) customers with $34 million in annual benefits…[according to a study] by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)…Using data from APS’ 2012 Integrated Resource Plan and other APS data, the study examines the costs incurred and the benefits generated by distributed solar over the useful life of a distributed solar system -- 20 years. This is consistent with how APS approaches long-term resource planning.

    “The study found that for each dollar of cost, DG provides $1.54 worth of benefits to APS customers. The net benefits for APS customers will amount to $34 million per year beginning in 2015. Benefits include savings on expensive and polluting conventional power and power plants; reduced investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure; reduced electricity lost during transportation over power lines, as distributed solar power is generated and consumer locally; and savings on the cost of meeting renewable energy requirements…”

    “Net metering is a popular consumer policy in place in 43 states that empowers homes, businesses, schools, and public agencies to install solar while helping the economy and other ratepayers. As a result of thousands of Arizonans’ choice to adopt rooftop solar, a competitive solar energy industry employs 9,800 Arizonans today…

    “…Arizona boasts the most solar per capita of any state in the nation with 1,097 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity. Beyond making a smart energy choice, this study shows that these customers’ investments provide financial benefits to all APS customers. Overall, Arizona ranks 2nd in the country for most installed solar, with enough capacity to power 139,000 homes. In 2012 alone, $590 million was invested in Arizona to install solar on homes and businesses…”


    How Big Oil Uses the Republican Party to Subvert American Democracy

    Robert F.Kennedy, Jr., May 10, 2013 (EcoWatch)

    “…The perversity of the modern conservative mind is displayed in…the extent to which the right wing has become the ideological sock puppet of Big Oil and the GOP’s army of right wing Christian fundamentalists oil industry foot soldiers…Big Oil’s Orwellian skill at employing the rhetoric of patriotism and emblazoning its enterprises with stars and stripes, has stitched the notion that conservation is synonymous with “anti-American” into the fabric of GOP talking points…

    “After a decade of this brand of oily claptrap from the industry’s political toadies and its talking heads on Fox News and hate radio, many conservative Americans now embrace the farcical presumption that buying and burning gas is a patriotic act…[T]here is nothing patriotic, moral or religious about Big Oil. A storied history of perfidy and greed has distinguished these companies among the most treasonous and piratical of all American business enterprises…Not satiated with simply destroying the planet, the oil industry’s relentless greed has eroded America’s economic independence, imperiled our national security, and ruined our global economic leadership and moral authority…”

    “Big Oil has embroiled us in foreign wars supporting petty dictators who despise democracy and who are hated by their own people. The export of $700 billion dollars annually of American wealth has beggared our nation…Add to these cataclysmic numbers, the $100 billion annual military cost of protecting oil infrastructure in the Persian Gulf, trillions spent on various oil wars over the past decade, billions more in economic injury from oil spills…

    “If the oil industry had to pay the true costs of bringing its product to market, gas prices would be upwards of $12 per gallon at the pump…and most Americans would be running to buy electric cars…With low cost disruptive technologies like cheap, fast and efficient electric vehicles, and solar and wind technologies poised to displace Big Oil, the industry is using its hold on the Republican Party to permanently embed itself in our economy while subverting science, American democracy, free market capitalism and our sacred belief in an ethical God.”


    With more wind energy, PJM could save customers $7 billion per year

    Jeff Postelwaite, May 9, 2013 (Electric Light & Power)

    “The PJM Interconnection could save its customers $6.9 billion if it more than doubled the amount of wind energy it currently plans to build…according to a [new] study…By the end of 2012, about 3.4 percent of PJM's total installed capacity was generated from wind. Over the next 13 years, with the advent of renewable portfolio standards, states within the PJM system will expand their wind energy capacity to 11 percent of their total installed capacity…

    “…Production cost efficiency gains from improved average wind resource performance (from a portion of wind resources sourced from the higher-performing MISO region) are roughly offset by the increased transmission costs to deliver those resources to PJM…PJM carbon emissions in the wind scenarios are 14 percent lower than base case emissions…[which] include the effect associated with retiring roughly 58 GW of coal-fired plants in PJM.”

    “Load-weighted average annual energy market prices…for the PJM zones in aggregate are roughly $1.74/MWh lower for the wind cases, relative to base case prices. The price differences are greatest in the non-summer months, when wind output is highest, load is lowest and supply margins are greatest…The wind cases see more summer peak period energy from "peaking" fossil resources…[from] using economically optimal unit commitment and dispatch while respecting fossil-fuel plant operating constraints and the time profiles of wind output.

    “If all production cost efficiency gains flow to consumers based on consumers paying the annual revenue requirements for incremental wind installed in the PJM region, then consumers are clearly much better off economically with increased wind resources, relative to a base case with less wind and more gas…Increasing the amount of "PJM wind" that is sourced from further west regions…leads to incrementally greater wind performance and higher production cost efficiencies. These savings are roughly offset by increased transmission costs…[and would further reduce] PJM carbon emissions…”


    Future CSP growth in the United States - CSP Today interview with Joe Desmond of BrightSource Energy

    May 9, 2013 (CSP Today)

    [Joe Desmond, BrightSource Energy:] “…[In 2013-14, U.S. CSP capacity will increase by 120%, with a total of 1318MW coming online, including BrightSource Energy’s 392MW (gross) Ivanpah project]…Demonstrating CSP technologies at scale is very important…[T]here are real benefits that CSP technologies provide to grid operators and…[CSP] adds diversity to utilities’ energy portfolios…Ivanpah will demonstrate how large scale CSP systems operate…[prove] the technology…de-risk some of the technology perceptions…[and] demonstrate that you can have development whilst having a positive [environmental] impact…”

    [Joe Desmond, BrightSource Energy:] “…[L]arge infrastructure investments…[have to balance] new technology that drives down cost and increases performance…against the requirements of lenders who want to ensure that they have an acceptable risk profile…[Ivanpah will demonstrate] the performance and bankability of our technology to those interested in financing CSP power tower projects…DOE has proposed allocating $90 million to CSP within the SunShot Initiative Solar Program for fiscal year 2014, which is double last year’s allocation of $45 million…[indicating a significant] commitment…They are also focusing on grid integration issues…[and] you will see [streamlined permitting and] a progression and advancements within the major components…”

    [Joe Desmond, BrightSource Energy:] “…[T]he Palen site…was originally developed and permitted as a concentrating solar parabolic trough project…[Following Solar Millennium's bankruptcy], BrightSource is converting the project to the company’s proprietary solar thermal power tower technology. We are working with the California Energy Commission and Bureau of Land Management…The partnership with Abengoa is a great opportunity to bring together two companies with vast experience in CSP. Abengoa will carry out the engineering, procurement and construction, and BrightSource Energy will provide the solar field technology…”

    [Joe Desmond, BrightSource Energy:] “…The ability of CSP to provide grid reliability services, reactive power, frequency control and inertia response are essential to having a grid operating in a reliable and cost effective way. Thermal storage and the flexibility it offers will help utilities and grid operators address integration challenges…by delivering a firmer, reliable and more controllable renewable power source…[thereby] promoting broader integration of other renewable technologies including photovoltaics and wind…[T]hermal storage helps to drive down costs on a levelized cost of energy basis and increases a plant’s capacity factor. Furthermore, storage can provide increased capacity value…”

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Senator Blasts Senator For Using Bible To Deny Climate Change

    From CSPAN

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013


    Duke hopes to add 3,750 MW of renewables over next 8 years

    Amy Poszywak, April 23, 2013 (SNL)

    “Building on the recent news that Google Inc. will participate in…[a Duke Energy Corp.] renewable energy rate plan, Duke] has set a goal of owning or contracting 6,000 MW of wind, solar and biomass energy by 2020…Duke owns about 2,251 MW of generation powered by those three resources, representing about 3% of its total generation fleet, according to SNL Energy data. In order to achieve its goal, the company would need to add approximately 3,749 MW of wind, solar or biomass within eight years…

    “In 2012, Duke Energy Renewables added close to 650 MW of wind and solar capacity across the U.S., representing an all-time high for the non-regulated renewable energy business, according to the company's report. Since the subsidiary was created in 2007, it has invested more than $2.5 billion in renewable energy.”

    “The momentum has carried into 2013…Duke Energy Renewables [this year] acquired the Highland Solar 1 and 2 power projects, which will collectively generate 21 MW of power…According to SNL data, Duke Energy Renewables has 512 MW of wind and solar projects in development, with total maximum construction costs of roughly $960 million…[and a] total operating capacity at Duke Energy Renewables of about 2,200 MW across 12 states…

    “…[Duke also aims to have] rates lower than the national average…[with] a nuclear capacity factor of at least 93.25%, a regulated fossil commercial availability of at least 87.92%...[a] renewables yield of at least 92.63% in 2013….[and] an average number of outages longer than 5 minutes per customer of 1.19 or less and an average time without power of 130 minutes or less in 2013…[It also] hopes to achieve a cumulative reduction in customer energy consumption of 15,000 GWh and achieve a cumulative reduction in peak demand of 4,800 MW by 2020.”


    Germany’s First Offshore Wind Farm Exceeds Expected Power Output

    Stefan Nicola, April 26, 2013 (BloombergBusinessweek)

    “Germany’s first offshore wind farm generated more power than expected because of steady winds last year, [according to] operators of the Alpha Ventus park…Alpha Ventus’s 12 turbines last year fed 267.8 gigawatt- hours of electricity into the German grid at a yield of 15.3 percent, more than anticipated, EON, Vattenfall Europe AG and EWE AG said…”

    “The 5-megawatt machines, supplied by Areva SA and Suzlon Energy Ltd. (SUEL) unit REpower Systems SE, achieved 4,463 full load hours, matching the level in 2011…[though the] availability in 2013 of Alpha Ventus will decrease from last year’s 96.5 percent because of maintenance work, the operators said.”


    Where the Rubber Hits the Road: Effective Marketing for Solar; “Southwest isn’t an airline; it’s a service business. That’s how we have to think about solar.”—Danny Kennedy of Sungevity

    Eric Wesoff, April 30, 2013 (Greentech Media)

    “Is the solar industry marketing itself successfully? Are solar firms reaching consumers? Is branding important? Can the average consumer name even one solar panel manufacturer?...In a 2011 survey performed by San Jose State University in cooperation with Solartech, 63 percent of respondents could not accurately recall any solar company that provides solar systems for residential use. Those that could name names came up with SunPower and SolarCity. Only 11 percent of the survey's respondents believed solar to be affordable, while 82 percent perceived solar as expensive.

    “…Yingli Solar (YGE)…which is the world's largest solar supplier…didn't enter the U.S. market until 2009 and created a large effort to build brand recognition with its sponsorship of the World Cup…Yingli's own global brand survey indicated that half of U.S. consumers cannot identify a single solar module vendor…[As] the first Chinese firm to sponsor the 2010 FIFA World Cup…it reached out to millions in the European market. This type of sponsorship deal does not come cheap, but it must have been worth it, as Yingli is sponsoring the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.”

    “…[The SolarCity “Steal our contracts”] campaign…made its solar service agreement available for download earlier this year…3,000 people have read and downloaded those contracts…[D]emographics are changing in solar with much faster growth in low- and middle-incomes…[but solar still has] an image problem with Wall Street... [Solar has an education problem, according to SolarCity. Everyone knows that solar power is better for the environment than fossil fuels, but most people don't realize that it can be less expensive than electricity from the grid. The differences between various panels are too subtle to matter to most consumers. They care about dollars and cents]

    “…[Sungevity’s] goal is to lower customer acquisition costs (CAC) and keep the firm's referral momentum going…Australia went from 900 PV roofs to 300,000 rooftops in six years -- and that scaling was all due to word-of-mouth…[Sungevity believes aesthetics] are more important to the customer than brand…[REC Americas sees business-to-business marketing] changing as the industry evolves…[P]artnerships are more important than print ads…for REC bringing installers to its vertically integrated facilities to show them what goes into a module…[Its marketing is more focused on helping its partners promote themselves…”