NewEnergyNews More: September 2014

NewEnergyNews More

Every day is Earthday.

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  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014


    Natural gas, solar, and wind lead power plant capacity additions in first-half 2014

    April Lee, September 9, 2014 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    “In the first six months of 2014, 4,350 megawatts (MW) of new utility-scale generating capacity came online, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration…Natural gas plants, almost all combined-cycle plants, made up more than half of the additions, while solar plants contributed more than a quarter and wind plants around one-sixth…Utility-scale capacity additions in the first half of 2014 were 40% less than…in the same period last year. Natural gas additions were down by about half, while solar additions were up by nearly 70%. Wind additions in the first half of 2014 were more than double the level in the first half of 2013…Florida added the most capacity (1,210 MW), all of it natural gas combined-cycle capacity. California, with the second-largest level of additions, added just under 1,100 MW, of which about 77% was solar and 21% was wind, with the remaining additions from natural gas and other sources. Utah and Texas combined for another 1,000 MW, nearly all of it natural gas combined-cycle capacity with some solar and wind capacity in Texas…” click here for more


    Solar cells that keep their cool

    Sept. 18, 2014 (CNN)

    “Solar cells can easily reach temperatures as high as 55 degrees Celsius when the sun's rays beat down on them. These racing temperatures not only reduce their efficiency when converting the sun's energy into electricity but also lower their lifespan…Shanhui Fan and his team at Stanford University have developed a layer of silica glass which is specially patterned to deflect unwanted heat radiation when added onto the surface of regular solar cells…Miniscule pyramid and cone-shaped structures are embedded into the glass and redirect any infrared radiation which causes heat, preventing the solar cells from heating up. But visible light rays can still pass through to generate electricity…The team are creating prototypes and experimenting their efficiency with hopes of demonstrating them outdoors soon.” click here for more


    Renewable energy: Wind power tests the waters; The United States has plenty of strong winds offshore, but it has struggled to harness them for energy.

    Gene Russo, 24 Sept. 2014 (Nature)

    “…[In the United States], efforts to tap the power of coastal winds have gone nowhere because of environmental concerns, bureaucratic tangles and political opposition. That may soon change. Ecological studies indicate that carefully planned wind farms should not significantly harm birds or marine mammals. And business and politicians are increasingly interested in exploring and investing in offshore wind power…Including harder-to-reach deep-water sites, the offshore territory of the United States has the capacity to generate an estimated 4,200 gigawatts of electricity, enough to supply four times the nation’s current needs…

    “…Cape Wind has already broken new ground by being the first US offshore wind project to complete a major environmental assessment [and is near construction]…For developers, the big question is whether it makes economic sense…[E]xtra effort associated with meeting environmental regulations or preparing for severe storms will increase the cost of construction, at a time when wind farms have to compete with a bounty of cheap natural gas…Experts say that the environmental and technical challenges for offshore wind are surmountable. The biggest barrier at the moment is the tangled fabric of policy rules that slow projects and provide insufficient certainty for developers and investors…” click here for more

    Monday, September 29, 2014


    Obama gives good speech on climate change, and Congress shrugs

    Greg Sargent, Sept. 23, 2014 (Washington Post)

    “At the United Nations today, President Obama gave a decent speech about climate change. He hit a number of key points…[saying that climate change is ‘the most important and consequential issue of the 21st Century’ and though the science is undeniable], we are dangerously close to condemning the next generation to a future that is ‘beyond our capacity to repair’ …[and, more importantly, acknowledging that] ‘there will be interests that will be resistant to action’…[and concerns that] ‘if we act and other countries don’t, that we will be at an economic disadvantage’…[the U.S. will act but it] can only succeed in combating climate change ‘if we are joined in this effort by every nation, developed and developing alike. Nobody gets a pass…’

    “…And yet, because any international climate treaty requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate, the administration is reduced to exploring ways of pursuing a treaty that isn’t legally binding and wouldn’t require Senate ratification…Environmentalists have worked hard to prove that climate can matter in electoral politics, but…[the Senate] will probably be unstable and closely contested, with very narrow majorities in either direction, for years to come…” click here for more


    Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan released

    Sammy Roth, Sept. 23, 2014 (The Desert Sun)

    “…[The 8,000 page] long-awaited Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan…could reshape the desert's energy landscape and set aside millions of acres…The plan is likely to transform how solar, wind, geothermal and transmission projects are sited across the desert. It designates zones for renewable energy development and conservation across more than 22.5 million acres of public and private land in the Mojave and Colorado/Sonoran deserts, spanning seven California counties…The plan's ‘preferred alternative’ sets aside more than 2 million acres for renewable energy development in an effort to provide space for up to 20,000 megawatts of new generation by 2040. Solar, wind and geothermal projects would be fast-tracked…[through] streamlined environmental review and permitting processes…

    “…[It also] designates more than 6.1 million acres as federal conservation lands, on top of the more than 7.6 million acres of pre-existing conservation lands within the study area. Renewable energy development would be prohibited or extremely limited in these areas…[The plan outlines] six potential roadmaps [including a preferred alternative] for land use in the desert…[Few areas were opened to new wind overall and could end wind development in the state, according to California Wind Energy Association Director Nancy Rader, while environmental groups asked if 20,000 megawatts of new renewable energy development in the desert will be needed]…” click here for more


    Panels that never lose their focus

    Sept. 18, 2014 (CNN)

    "The high-cost and low efficiency of solar cells could partly be overcome with new designs by Glint Photonics which focus and capture more incoming sunlight to generate electricity…[S]elf-tracking solar concentrators can change their reflectivity depending on the direction of incoming sunlight. As the sun moves and the direction its rays come in from also changes, the concentrators track this…and remove reflectivity in just that region of their surface, enabling the light to…be concentrated and trapped to reach a solar cell…[This is usually done] with specially constructed and placed mirrors and lenses which need to be constantly moved as the sun rises and descends across the sky…Removing their need and increasing the amount of sunlight captured could dramatically reduce the cost of solar power…The design is currently a proof-of-concept and the team are working on improving efficiency…” click here for more

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014


    Divestment Statement

    Sept, 2014 (Rockefeller Brothers Fund)

    “…[In 2010, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF)] board of trustees approved a commitment of up to 10 percent of the endowment to investments…[in] clean energy technologies and other business strategies that advance energy efficiency, decrease dependence on fossil fuels, and mitigate the effects of climate change…Given the RBF’s deep commitment to combating climate change, the Fund is now committing to a two-step process to address its desire to divest from investments in fossil fuels. Our immediate focus will be on coal and tar sands, two of the most intensive sources of carbon emissions…[W]e are committed to reducing our exposure to coal and tar sands to less than one percent of the total portfolio by the end of 2014…[We] will work with the RBF Investment Committee and board of trustees to determine an appropriate strategy for further divestment over the next few years…[O]ur divestment from fossil fuels, which is now underway, will be accomplished through a careful process of evaluating our exposure and a phased approach that proceeds as quickly as is prudent…” click here for more


    Duke Energy joint venture part of $8 billion bid to supply green energy to Southern California

    John Downey, Sept. 23, 2014 (Charlotte Business Journal)

    Duke Energy’s Duke-American Transmission will join with Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy, and Dresser-Rand to propose a ground-breaking $8 billion wind energy and wind storage system for the Southern California Public Power Authority. The plan calls for Duke to ante up $1.3 billion and build a 525 mile, $2.6 billion, high voltage transmission line to Utah for Wyoming wind energy-generated electricity, where an existing line can deliver the power to Los Angeles and, through California’s transmission system, across the state. Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy will build a $4 billion, 2,100-megawatt Wyoming wind farm and Pathfinder, Magnum Energy, and Dresser-Rand will build a $1.5 billion, 1,200 megawatt, 41 million cubic foot compressed air energy storage (CAES) facility in four salt formations in Utah. CAES has been used for wind energy storage in Germany since 1978 and in Alabama since 1991 and projects are planned or under construction in Texas, the UK, and Iowa but it has yet to be proven economically practical. click here for more


    California Leading on Emissions as Brown Signs New Laws

    Michael B. Marois and Alison Vekshin, Sept. 23, 2014 Bloomberg BusinessWeek

    California Governor Jerry Brown signed 11 new bills into law and announced a new goal to get 1.5 million zero-emission cars on California’s roads in the next ten years. California had 709,766 hybrids in 2013, up from 337,881 in 2009, and, thanks to a $5,000 state tax rebate for electric and zero-emission cars, now has 60,988 electric vehicles, 40% of the U.S. plug-in fleet, and has spent $158 on rebates since 2010. Polls show Brown in a very strong position for re-election and an unprecedented second two-term governorship. California’s 2002 law requiring a cut in vehicle carbon dioxide after 2009 set a standard subsequently enacted by the federal government in 2012. Zero-emission vehicles are: battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles. click here for more

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014


    The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy

    Vivek Wadhwa, Sept. 19, 2014 (Washington Post)

    “In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones…[but] there are billions now…Costs have fallen so far that even the poor — all over world — can afford [one]…The experts [skeptical] about solar energy now…They say that solar is inefficient, too expensive to install, and unreliable, and will fail without government subsidies. They too are wrong. Solar will be as ubiquitous as cellular phones are…[S]olar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping…[and] is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs…[I]nexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years…In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the Southwest United States…it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies…By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world. Within the next decade, it will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel-based alternatives do…[T]here will be disruption of the entire fossil-fuel industry…The challenge for mankind will be to share this abundance, ensuring that these technologies make the world a better place.” click here for more


    A Kansas twister: Wind energy politics complicate governor’s race; Gov. Brownback is caught in the middle of fans of this green energy source and his conservative allies

    Jonathan M. Katz, Sept. 19, 2014 (AlJazeera U.S.)

    “…At full capacity [Kansas] would generate more wind energy than any other state except Texas…[and about] three-quarters of the total electricity generated by all energy sources in the United States last year. Despite growing investment that has nearly tripled Kansas wind-energy production since 2010, the state’s producers generated only 9,430 gigawatt hours last year — 0.3 percent of the potential…[in part because the] Koch-funded advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is leading the fight to repeal a federal tax credit for wind energy producers…In Kansas such arguments are having little effect. Americans for Prosperity and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce (another major recipient of Koch money) spent months trying to get the Republican-controlled state legislature to repeal a state renewable-energy standard…But the legislature refused…Caught in the middle is the state’s Republican governor, Sam Brownback, who is locked in a tough re-election fight against state House Minority Leader Paul Davis. Brownback has close ties to the anti-wind forces…Koch Industries was the top donor throughout the governor's 16-year career in the U.S. Congress…But Brownback also recognizes the economics that make wind energy appealing…[H]e has found himself in the uncomfortable position of boasting about wind energy’s growth in the state — a source of several thousand much-needed jobs during his term — while trying to oppose the regulatory environment that has fostered that growth…” click here for more


    Microgrid Enabling Technologies; Distributed Generation, Inverters, Energy Storage, Load Controls, Electric Vehicles, and Software Networking: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “…[A] much greater emphasis is now being placed on the economic value microgrids bring to [advanced energy storage and to] the entire utility-led macrogrid…[N]ew business models designed to support full commercial implementation of microgrid systems [are being investigated]…[M]icrogrid enabling technology (MET) options…[include] technologies and services related to smart buildings, demand response, distribution and substation automation, and smart meters. The leading market opportunity within the realm of microgrids is with different forms of distributed generation (DG), including diesel generators, natural gas generators, and other forms of renewable DG…[But] advanced energy storage will represent the single largest investment category among MET options by 2023, though DG investments as a whole will still be larger. According to Navigant Research, global annual DG vendor revenue is expected to grow from $1.8 billion in 2014 to $9.6 billion in 2023…” click here for more

    Monday, September 22, 2014


    Obama pushes energy efficiency, rural solar power

    Timothy Cama, Sept. 18, 2014 (The Hill)

    “The Obama administration unveiled…[actions] aimed at improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of solar power in homes and businesses, including $68 million in spending…[and] said the actions would reduce carbon dioxide emissions…[and] save $10 billion in energy costs…[The actions] are part of President Obama’s second-term push to…mitigate climate change…[and] follow other recent efforts to help the solar power industry…The Department of Agriculture will spend $68 million on 540 renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in rural areas, 240 of which are for solar power…The Energy Department’s program to train technicians to design and install solar power infrastructure will open programs at up to three military bases…At the Department of Housing and Urban development, officials will seek to give a boost to renewable energy in affordable housing communities…The Energy Department will certify a new set of building codes and propose efficiency standards for commercial unit air conditioners…” click here for more


    Feds Fund Research Into Taller Wind Turbines

    Chris Clarke, Sept. 18, 2014 (KCET)

    “The U.S. Department of Energy…[will provide $2 million to] two groups working on ways to build [taller, more powerful] wind turbines …to harness winds at higher altitudes, which are often stronger and steadier than more turbulent winds closer to the ground…Onshore wind turbines installed in the U.S. in 2013 had an average hub height [where the blades attach] of 80 meters, or about 260 feet…[G]rant recipients Keystone Towers of Massachusetts and Iowa State University are working on separate technologies that could result in sturdy, relatively inexpensive wind turbine towers as tall as 120 meters, or about 400 feet…If a 120-meter tower is fitted with rotor blades that sweep an area 100 meters in diameter, those blade tips will reach 170 meters…[or 560 feet, where they can drive turbines with capacities as high as 7.5 megawatts, or even 10 megawatts [and weigh hundreds of tons]. The average capacity of onshore wind turbines built in the U.S. in 2013 was just under 2 megawatts… Keystone Towers is exploring a spiral welding technique that may allow on-site fabrication of tubular steel towers that are 40 percent lighter than those currently used,which would save on both materials and shipping costs. Iowa State is designing a modular hexagonal concrete and steel design that would allow shipping those tall towers to a project site in pieces, where they would be assembled like building blocks…” click here for more


    Generators push to get Texas regulators away from wind-cost investigation

    Christine Cordner, Sept. 16, 2014 (SNL)

    “Hoping to keep market improvements within the realm of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc., fossil fuel and renewable energy developers have joined together to ask the Public Utility Commission of Texas not to go down the road of assigning transmission-related costs to owners of wind and solar projects…[The PUCT] started showing interest in the topic on the back of the completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission build-out earlier this year and continued massive growth in wind projects in the state…[Many called on the PUCT and ERCOT to not make changes but some] recommended that the PUCT direct ERCOT, when calculating production cost savings for a transmission project, to include increased costs related to the additional ancillary services needed as more wind is installed and large direct-current interties are built. These costs, however, should not be directly allocated to wind developers but rather consumers as the beneficiaries of a more stable grid…[and cautioned] about the legality of…[r]equiring certain generators to pay directly for the construction or enlargement of transmission…[Others] urged the PUCT to allow ERCOT to work on the issue, finding solutions such as possibly providing a new ancillary [ramping] service...[Wind and advocates] said wind power has considerably less negative effect on grid frequency than conventional generators and helps support frequency control…” click here for more

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014


    New Study Provides Most Comprehensive Analysis Ever of Bird Fatalities at Wind Energy Facilities; Cell Towers, Buildings, Other Threats Are Much Greater

    Sept. 15, 2014 (American Wind Wildlife Institute)

    “A comprehensive peer-reviewed study released today provides the most detailed analysis to date of the impact of bird fatalities at wind energy facilities in North America, and is the first to measure the relative impact of those fatalities on populations of small passerines, including songbirds [according to A Comprehensive Analysis of Small-passerine Fatalities from Collision with Wind Turbines at Wind Energy Facilities]…[O]f the more than 5 billion small passerines in North America, an estimated 134,000-230,000, or less than 0.01%, collide annually with wind turbines…[A]ll bird fatalities from wind turbines range from 214,000 to 368,000 annually--a small fraction compared with the estimated 6.8 million fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers, 1.4 to 3.7 billion fatalities from cats, and of the many other, much larger threats that birds face today…On September 8, a report by the National Audubon Society for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that climate change threatens the survival of more than half of all species of birds in North America…AWWI is working with its partners to sponsor additional studies, including on eagles and prairie birds…” click here for more


    Duke Energy commits $500 million to N.C. solar power expansion

    John Downey, Sept. 15, 2014 (Triangle Business Journal)

    “…[Duke Energy]is making a $500 million commitment to a major expansion of solar power in North Carolina…The company will acquire and construct three solar facilities — totaling 128 megawatts of capacity — including the largest solar photovoltaic facility east of the Mississippi River…Duke also signed power-purchase agreements for five new solar projects in the state, representing 150 megawatts of capacity…Together, the eight projects will have a capacity of 278 megawatts. The $500 million commitment includes the investment in the three facilities and the value of the five long-term power-purchase contracts…The company says the initiative will help further its commitment to renewable energy, diversify its energy portfolio and meet North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard…” click here for more


    Electric Vehicles Are Cleaner, but Still Not a Magic Bullet

    Paul Stenquist, Sept. 16, 2014 (NY Times)

    “…[In 60 percent of the United States, electric vehicles are now responsible for fewer heat-trapping global warming emissions per mile than even the most efficient hybrids [according to the Union of Concerned Scientists]…[In 2012,] in an area where electric power was generated using a high proportion of coal — as it is in much of the nation’s midsection — an electric vehicle was no cleaner than a high-m.p.g. gasoline-engine subcompact…[In the last two years,] some utilities have added clean renewable sources of electricity to their mix and, more important, electric vehicles have become more efficient…[T]he average battery- powered electric vehicle sold over the past year uses 0.325 kilowatt-hour per mile, a 5 percent improvement…That means an electric vehicle operating within the Midwest electric power grid, which blankets several states in whole or in part, is now as clean as a gasoline-engine car achieving 43 miles per gallon…An electric vehicle in New York achieves the equivalent of 112 m.p.g…[I]n California the number is 95 m.p.g…Colorado, which relies heavily on coal, is once again at the bottom of the list, with an E.V. achieving the same emissions as a 34 m.p.g. gasoline-engine car…” click here for more

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014


    Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind

    Justin Gillis, Sept. 13, 2014 (NY Times)

    "...Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources. Many smaller countries are beating that, but Germany is by far the largest industrial power to reach that level…It is more than twice the percentage in the United States…[It] is driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible…Electric utility executives all over the world are watching nervously as technologies they once dismissed as irrelevant begin to threaten their long-established business plans. Fights are erupting across the United States over the future rules for renewable power. Many poor countries, once intent on building coal-fired power plants to bring electricity to their people, are discussing whether they might leapfrog the fossil age and build clean grids from the outset…A reckoning is at hand…The word the Germans use for their plan is…energiewende, the energy transition. Worldwide, Germany is being held up as a model…But it is becoming clear that the transformation, if plausible, will be wrenching. Some experts say the electricity business is entering a period of turmoil beyond anything in its 130-year history, a disruption potentially as great as those that have remade the airlines, the music industry and the telephone business…” click here for more


    Labor, Environmental Leaders Back Wind Energy Transmission Line

    Sept. 15, 2014 (Public News Service)

    “…[T]he winds of change are blowing in Missouri, as more people speak out in favor of a plan to build a high-voltage wind energy transmission line through the state [including the Sierra Club, which] says the line, which would transfer 3,500 megawatts of power from wind farms in Kansas, would help the state move away from its reliance on coal [and meet the mandate] that the state's utilities generate at least 15 percent renewable energy by 2021…The Public Service Commission is accepting comments on the plan, and is expected to make a final decision toward the end of December. Gerald Nickelson, president of the IUE-CWA Local 86114… says in recent years, more and more contracts have come from wind farms, and he believes the transmission line would be a major economic boon for the state...The project, known as the Grain Belt Express, is one of five long-haul transmission lines planned across the country by Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners. Construction is expected to begin in 2016.” click here for more


    Wave Energy Research Progressing

    Joanna Schroeder, Sept. 11, 2014 (Domestic Fuel)

    “The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the funding of up to $4 million for continued wave energy technological research and monitoring efforts. Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) faculty will also share in another $3.25 million grant to improve ‘water power’ technologies that convert the energy of waves, tides, rivers and ocean currents into electricity…The new funding will allow NNMREC to develop an improved system for real-time wave forecasting; create robotic devices to support operations and maintenance; design arrays that improve the performance of marine energy conversion devices; improve subsea power transmission systems; and standardize approaches for wildlife monitoring. Federal officials said the overall goal is to reduce the technical, economic and environmental barriers to deployment of new marine energy conversion devices...Significant progress has been made in how to process, permit and monitor wave energy technology as it emerges from the laboratory to ocean test sites, and ultimately to commercial use. Wave energy’s sustainable generating potential equates to about 10 percent of global energy needs.” click here for more

    Monday, September 15, 2014


    Solar Continues Trumping Fossil Fuel Pricing, With More Innovations To Come

    Chip Register, Sept. 11, 2014 (Forbes)

    “…America’s energy landscape looks significantly different. Natural gas has come well off its pre-recession highs and is now trading steadily around $4 per mmBtu, with little to no volatility. Oil and coal prices dropped as well…[But] advances made in photovoltaic (PV) cells, combined with an explosion in solar panel manufacturing in China, helped send solar prices down far faster than fossil fuels. The average solar panel now costs around 75% less than it did just five years ago and…the more solar that is put in, the faster prices drop. Citibank estimates that the price of an average solar panel falls by 30% whenever installed solar capacity doubles in a given area…[B]y 2020, they believe solar will be…successfully competing with fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis…America’s reliance on expensive oil, relatively dirty coal and troubled nuclear power will inalterably change now that solar has become so competitive…[Until power can be stored efficiently], solar is best used to cover peak demand during the day. The backbone of the grid will shift from coal to cheap natural gas to provide the baseload generation…until grid-level battery storage becomes available somewhere toward the end of this decade. Then watch out [for solar]…” click here for more


    Honda Pounds Another Nail Into Fossil Fuel Coffin

    Tina Casey, Sept. 13, 2014 (Clean Technica)

    “…[In their first six months of operation, two] wind turbines at Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc…were supposed to produce about 10,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year…[and cover] about 10 percent of the plant’s needs…[They] met expectations in two of the first six months…outperformed in four months…[and] peaked in April, when they provided more than 16 percent of power for the plant…Overall, in the six-month period wind turbine efficiency at the facility exceeded expectations by 6.3 percent…Juhl Energy…[installed, owns, and operates the $8 million wind turbines] under a power purchase agreement…[Honda is] paying for the electricity…[Other auto manufacturers are doing] on site energy harvesting (typically, rooftop solar), energy efficiency, and energy storage…” click here for more


    IEA lauds energy efficiency 'social, economic boosts'

    Sept. 12, 2014 (The Australian/Business w/The Wall Street Journal)

    “The benefits of energy efficiency go well beyond the simple scaling back of energy demand…[ Capturing the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency from the International Energy Agency] reframes the discussion…[and] shows how energy efficiency has the potential to support economic growth, enhance social development, advance environmental sustainability, ensure energy-system security and help build wealth...IEA analysis has previously shown that energy efficiency has the potential to boost economic growth while reducing energy demand…[But] under existing policies, two-thirds of the economically viable energy efficiency potential available between now and 2035 will remain unrealized…because energy efficiency is routinely and significantly undervalued…[Only] when the value of productivity and operational benefits to industrial companies were integrated into their traditional internal rate of return calculations, the payback period for energy efficiency measures dropped from 4.2 to 1.9 years…[B]y making homes warmer, drier and healthier, [unrecognized] energy efficiency measures can dramatically improve health and well-being. When monetised, for example through the cost of medical care or innovative metrics such as the value of lost work time or child care costs caused by illness, these benefits can boost returns to as much as four dollars for every one dollar invested…” click here for more

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014


    NextEra, Dominion are wind-energy plays

    Motley Fool, Sept. 7, 2014 Columbus Dispatch

    “…Wind power has been growing, partly because the cost of wind turbines and the price of wind-powered electricity are falling. The U.S. wind-energy industry employs about 50,000, and the Department of Energy would like to see wind generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity demand by 2030…General Electric is far from a pure play in wind, but it’s the largest wind-turbine supplier in the United States and is expanding internationally, too…The U.S. leader in wind energy, though, is NextEra Energy, with more than 10 gigawatts of wind capacity in 19 states. Dominion Resources is buying many big offshore wind leases from the U.S. government…[Analysts recommend investing in Dominion Resources and General Electric]…” click here for more


    How Ivanpah is reducing glint and glare from heliostats; Palen Solar Holdings (PSH), the partnership between BrightSource Energy and Abengoa Solar, is attempting to get the 500MW Palen power tower project permitted in California’s notoriously rigorous permitting process.

    Susan Kraemer and Angela Castillo, Sept. 4, 2014 (CSP Today)

    “…[Owners of the 390MW Ivanpah project, the first utility-scale power tower CSP project to come online in America, have] solved the problem of glare from the mirrors reflecting sunlight with a new algorithm for mirrors in standby…[During] the permitting process for its follow up, the 500MW Palen Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) power tower, [it] has been a challenge…In the first six months of operation, 321 birds or bats were killed at the 3,500 square acre Ivanpah site. Of this number, 133 had their flying impaired by singed feathers from flying too close to the tower receivers. The majority were small birds, predominantly various species of hummingbirds and sparrows…Using humane bird deterrents to keep birds away, Ivanpah is now reducing those numbers…In CSP power tower technology, sunlight is reflected off mirrors focused on a receiver atop a tower to heat a fluid which can then be used to generate electricity directly via turbines, or first stored for later use. Because mirrors reflect sunlight, glare could become an issue…[The] solution? Aim the standby heliostats in a variety of directions, rather than at a focal point above the tower as before…The result? A noticeable difference in glare…to the required “less than significant” levels.” click here for more


    UMaine tests turbine blade

    September 2, 2014 (renews)

    “An unnamed wind turbine manufacturer has delivered a 56-meter blade to the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center for testing…The facility offers structural tests to evaluate blades, towers and foundation components up to 70 meters in length. The UMaine Composites Center is one of two labs in the US that can test blades of these sizes in static and fatigue and are certified to conduct these tests…A UMaine-led consortium is developing the 12MW New England Aqua Ventus offshore wind demonstration project…[Earlier this year, the US Energy Department awarded the project a $3 million] grant to complete front-end engineering and design, including detailed systems, cost estimating, materials selection and identifying subcontractors and vendors.” click here for more

    Tuesday, September 9, 2014


    Half of North American bird species threatened by climate change

    Lois Shahagun, Sept. 8, 2014 (LA Times)

    “Half of all bird species in North America — including the bald eagle — are at risk of severe population decline by 2080 if the swift pace of global warming continues, the National Audubon Society concluded…[ In the first comprehensive species study of its kind, Audubon] examined more than 500 bird species and determined that more than 300 in Canada and the United States face large climate shifts that could reduce their habitat by half or more by 2080. The changing environment will force birds to adapt to new habitats with different temperature and precipitation rates if they are to survive…By 2080, the bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States, could see its habitat decrease by 75%, the report says…All of the habitat of the common loon, the state bird of Minnesota, could disappear in the lower 48 states…” click here for more


    U.S. offshore wind power nears takeoff with 14 projects

    Wendy Koch, Sept. 6, 2014 (USA Today)

    “Long stymied by high costs and local opposition, offshore wind is finally nearing takeoff in the United States as 14 projects enter ‘advanced stages’ of development, [ a Navigant Consulting/Energy Department study reports]…Two of the projects — Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts and Deepwater's Block Island off Rhode Island — have moved into the initial stages of construction while the others have obtained a lease, conducted extensive studies or obtained a power purchase agreement. Nine are located on the East Coast…These projects represent about 4.9 gigawatts of possible capacity…[O]ffshore wind holds much greater potential [than onshore wind which has now reached a 61 gigawatt capacity and meets nearly 4.5% of U.S. electricity demand] for the United States…[T]he biggest obstacle for offshore wind projects are their high installation costs…Still, his three-year study found that a massive scale-up of 54 gigawatts of offshore wind power [by 2030] could yield…$7.68 billion a year in lower costs, because power generation would be closer to where it's consumed…” click here for more


    'Community solar' power grows in Colorado

    Sept. 5, 2014 (Denver Business Journal via (NBC 9 News)

    “The amount of electricity generated by ‘community solar’ power systems has grown rapidly in the last few years in Colorado — and may be poised for even bigger growth…[It is] commercial-sized solar power systems in which individuals or businesses can buy or lease individual solar power panels — and get credit off their monthly bill for the renewable power generated by the systems. The systems generally range in capacity between 500 kilowatts and 2 megawatts…[and allow solar ownership for] homeowners and business people who want solar power but can't put a system on their own rooftops because they rent the home, live in an apartment complex, or the roof is too shaded or faces the wrong direction…The first system came online in Colorado in 2009…” click here for more

    Monday, September 8, 2014


    Green Bonds Add to $5.7 Trillion Privately Invested in the Green Economy

    September 1, 2014 (Ethical Markets)

    “The first two quarters of 2014 show the Green Transition Scoreboard® (GTS) at $5.7 trillion in private investments and commitments since 2007. This confirms the green economy is on track to reach $10 trillion in investments by 2020 to effectively scale innovations and reduce costs in green technologies as the world transitions to the Solar Age…Green Bonds Growing Green Infrastructure, the 2014 mid-year green transition update, focuses on the bond markets’ addition of green, impact and ESG (environmental, social, governance) targeted bond issues. These new bonds provide long-term investment opportunities to pension funds and other institutional investors as global policy makers, corporations and asset managers see demand for investments in infrastructure, environmental, social and human capital being integrated into financial markets…The GTS tracks Renewable Energy ($2.65 trillion), Energy Efficiency ($1.3 trillion), Green Construction ($576 billion), Water ($527 billion), Green R&D ($378 billion) and Cleantech ($268 billion) [and omits nuclear, clean coal, carbon capture & sequestration, and biofuels from feedstock other than saltwater-grown algae]…The upward trend reported since 2009 aligns with Ethical Markets’ recommendation to invest at least 10% of institutional portfolios directly in companies driving the global Green Transition…” click here for more


    Solar incentives reward west-facing panels

    Morgan Lee, Sept. 6, 2014 (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

    “California is encouraging home builders that install rooftop solar energy systems to tilt hose panels westward toward the setting sun…to capture more renewable energy in the waning hours of the day, when electricity demands are often highest [and] avoid more of the air pollution that comes from gas-fired generators at conventional power plants…In the northern hemisphere, rooftop panels typically have been oriented toward the south to capture as much sunlight as possible throughout the day…West-facing panels generate about 20 percent less power overall. But can boost energy production by 50 percent or more between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m…The new guidelines increase rebates for west-facing solar energy systems by 15 percent, or as much as $500 per home, under a program known as the California Solar Initiative…[I]t appears to be the first incentive in the country based specifically on west-facing solar panels…” click here for more


    Survey: Midwesterners not buying ‘wind turbine syndrome’

    Ken Lydersen, Sept. 5, 2014 (Midwest Energy News)

    “Science has frequently rejected arguments that wind turbines pose a threat to human health [and now it is clear the courts and public opinion concur…[The bipartisan Voter Attitudes Toward Energy Issues in the Midwest poll] found that in six Midwestern states – Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin – only 14 percent of respondents believe wind turbines harm human health…The survey of 2,477 voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and FM3…Among the states surveyed, the lowest percentage of people who believe wind turbines cause health problems (7 percent) was in Iowa, a state that leads the nation in proportion of energy from wind…[T]he highest percentage believing such claims (21 percent) was in Wisconsin, a state which has far fewer wind farms and where some political leaders have in recent years been hostile to renewable and distributed energy…[A] study released last month by the Energy and Policy Institute analyzed 49 legal proceedings in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, the British Isles and Australia. It found that in all but one case, courts or legal officials rejected the argument that wind energy poses a health hazard…Advocates also stress that while turbines don’t typically cause direct health impacts, badly-sited turbines can cause irritating noise and visual impacts. So developers and planners must be responsible in making sure poor planning decisions don’t fuel otherwise unjustified animosity toward wind…” click here for more

    Wednesday, September 3, 2014


    Renewable-energy project gives state fastest clean-energy job growth

    Brittany Bade, August 28, 2014 (Cronkite News)

    "…[With more than new 3,000 workers in clean-energy industries, Arizona claimed] the biggest growth in renewable-energy jobs in the nation for the second quarter of 2014…[ Clean Energy Works For Us: Second Quarter 2014 Report] from Environmental Entrepreneurs said the bulk of the new Arizona jobs – and a large share of the total planned for the nation – could be attributed to the proposed Solar Wind Energy Tower project in San Luis. Developers of that project said they plan to add 2,350 workers, with most of those being construction jobs at the $1.5 billion plant…[That knocked] California out of first place for the quarter…Between April and June, [New Energy industries] said they planned to add 12,582 such jobs nationally. Solar-power firms announced the highest number of hires for the fifth consecutive quarter, with 5,895 jobs, while wind-power businesses were second with a planned 2,750 hires]…” click here for more


    Exelon opposes renewal of wind subsidy

    Aaron Nathans, August 29, 2014 (The News Journal)

    “…Exelon owns such distribution utilities as PECO in Pennsylvania and BGE in Baltimore. It has filed papers to merge with Pepco Holdings Inc., owner of Delmarva Power in Delaware and Maryland, Pepco in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and Atlantic City Electric in New Jersey…[T]he largest operator of nuclear power plants in the United States, [Exelon] has been vocal in opposition to the Production Tax Credit, a subsidy to wind farm developers that drives down the cost of construction, and thus the cost of the power…The tax credit expired at the end of 2013, causing a flurry of wind development to beat the deadline. Wind industry supporters say there’s still a chance it will be belatedly renewed, and are lobbying to make it so…Exelon is the country’s 11th largest wind producer, with 1,300 megawatts of wind generation in 10 states. Still, this remains a small percentage of the company’s overall portfolio…[I]ts opposition to the tax credit made Exelon the first member to be expelled from AWEA…” click here for more


    Geothermal Power Gathering Steam in U.S.

    September 2, 2014 (OilPrice via NASDAQ)

    “…[F]or various reasons -- including logistics, economics and permitting issues -- geothermal has not even come close to reaching its potential. That could be changing…[ U.S. House and Senate subcommittees discussed permitting needs and took up] geothermal bills that may hasten its development and remove some bureaucratic obstacles…[A] House subcommittee heard that…the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires geothermal developers to submit over 175 “document sets” for each project, which could mean hundreds of thousands of pages…[and] that geothermal power projects [which are not limited by the variability of solar and wind] can take as many as seven years to develop, compared to three to five years for oil and gas projects, and just 18 months for solar or wind start-ups…The Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act would streamline the process…[A]nother proposed bill would promote the development of renewable energy on public lands…Geothermal legislation is also moving forward at the state level [in California and Nevada]…The economics of geothermal exploration can also be [a riskier proposition than building a solar installation or wind farm, and the payouts are obviously much less than drilling for oil or natural gas but]…geothermal appears set to finally take off in the U.S.” click here for more

    Tuesday, September 2, 2014


    Renewable energy capacity grows at fastest ever pace; Green technologies now produce 22% of world's electricity

    Terry Macalister, 28 August 2014, (UK Guardian)

    “Wind, solar and other renewable power capacity grew at its strongest ever pace last year and now produces 22% of the world's electricity, [according to Renewable Energy Medium-Term Market Report 2014 from] the International Energy Agency…More than $250bn (£150bn) was invested in ‘green’ generating systems in 2013…Hydro and other green technologies could be producing 26% of the world's electricity by 2020…They are already used as much as gas for generating electrical power…But the total level of investment in renewables is lower now than a peak of $280bn in 2011 and is expected to average only $230bn annually to the end of the decade unless governments make increasing policy commitments to keep spending higher…The current growth rate for installing new windfarms and solar arrays is impressive but the IEA believes it is not enough to meet climate change targets…” click here for more


    How the World's Fastest Electric Car Is Pushing Wireless Charging Tech

    Victoria Turk, August 28, 2014 (MotherBoard)

    “With the first ever season of Formula E revving up in China next month, it's clear there’s more to electric cars than Tesla…[Traditional race cars] don’t have anything on the speed of Drayson Racing Technology's Lola B12 69/EV, which [smashed the land speed record for lightweight electric cars last year with a top speed around 205 miles per hour, which is a damn sight faster than top Formula E car speeds of around 140mph…[It also uses the kind of power technologies that could one day have applications off the track too—like charging your phone wirelessly…[O]ne of the major breakthroughs in developing the car was wireless power transfer—recharging the car without a cable. To get the land speed record you have to do two runs (one in each direction to cancel out the effects of wind) within an hour, and wireless charging helped juice it up quickly in between…The team developed a charging system with Qualcomm that gets 20 kilowatts into the car with no contact…The system works via a pad on the floor that transfers charge to a receiving unit in the car parked over it…” click here for more


    Experts clash on Fukushima radiation effects Some scientists say authorities in favour of nuclear energy tend to deny the negative results of researchers.

    John Boyd, 30 August, 2014 Al Jazeera

    “In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on 11 March 2011, the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima was badly wrecked in a series of meltdowns and explosions that severely damaged three reactors and one spent-fuel pool…The accident released enormous quantities of radionuclides (radioactive material)…Three years on, calculating the injurious effects of this radiation on plant, animal and human health has become a matter of controversy…

    A broad scientific study by [the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR)] was widely criticized by independent researchers for its generally benign findings and lack of reference to the negative data cited in a number of specific scientific studies published earlier…[It concluded that accumulated] doses (of radiation over the first two months following the accident) were estimated to have fallen short of levels found to cause observable effects [in plants and animals]…[A] multidisciplinary group of scientists called the Chernobyl + Fukushima Research Initiative (CFRI), relies heavily on field studies for its reports…[It cites] some half-dozen studies indicating the negative effects of Fukushima radiation had been released before the UNSCEAR report…[and says that scientists] in favour of nuclear energy tend to deny the negative results of researchers…” click here for more