Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Senate Democrats Hold Line Against Clean Energy Cuts by House Republicans

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 02:52 PM PDT

California Senator Diane Feisnstein’s energy and water appropriations subcommittee is this week taking up the spending bill that funds the Department of Energy for fiscal year 2012. The bill raises spending for clean energy and innovation and cuts it for fossil and nuclear energy, but neither by as much as the White House budget requested.

The Obama administration budget requests roughly $30.6 billion for the Department of Energy. Within that total, innovation and clean energy would receive increased funding, while nuclear and fossil energy, would see reduced funding.

Although the Senate appropriations bill stays with that general guideline, and it reverses the budget cuts to clean energy programs by the Republican-held House, it comes in below White House requests, providing DOE with a total of $25.49 billion to be divvied up. The total is hardly different from the House bill which also fell  $5.9 billion below President Obama’s FY12 request. But it picks smaller battles over how the money is allocated.

The Republican House guts the clean energy programs, energy efficiency and research spending that has been a priority for the Obama administration.

Under the Senate appropriation, according to Clean Energy Report, ARPA-E,  the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would get an increase of $70 million over FY11 levels for a total of $250 million. By contrast, the House budget would cut this to $100 million, $450 million below Obama’s FY12 request for the agency of $550 million.

On the other hand, the Senate cuts the fossil energy program $186 million below current levels, to $259 million, where the House budget increased the DOE fossil energy funding to $477 million. Under the Senate bill, nuclear funding would be cut by $142 million, to $584 million. The House would fund the DOE nuclear program at $734 million.

The Senate Committee approved $1.796 billion in funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).The House would cut it $1.9 billion below President Obama’s requested 3.2 billion, funding the office at $1.3 billion.

The Senate appropriates $4.843 billion in funding for the Office of Science (close to the White House request for $5.4 billion) and $141 million for the Electricity and Energy Reliability office, which supports the integration of renewable energy into the power grid, and provides a boost to the Energy Information Administration, calling for $10 million above the current FY11 level.

The full Appropriations Committee takes up the measure this week.  The Obama administration is looking for Senate Democrats to produce a bill that funds DOE at higher levels than the House-passed bill would provide, but the realities of the Republican filibuster in the Senate and GOP control of the House means that is not possible.

These modest increases and decreases are a far cry from the $90 billion in clean energy funding Democrats could pass under the Recovery Act, during the few months from March to August 2009 when Democrats briefly held the 60 Senate seats needed to pass clean energy agendas.

Rather than apportion blame, Americans should understand that budgets like these are inevitable when those who support clean energy don’t vote.

Susan Kraemer@Twitter




NYTimes Green Jobs Story Misstated Sources Tremendously

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 02:17 PM PDT

Shortly after the New York Times released an inaccurate piece on the growth of green jobs, Van Jones expressed anger that the writer used selective quotes from an hour-long interview to satisfy the predetermined conclusion of the article.

Now, one of the other key sources, SolFocus VP of Business Development Nancy Hartsoch, is speaking out about the reporter's selective use of facts to paint an inaccurate picture of her company's operations.  In an exclusive interview, she tells Climate Progress:

Honestly, I've never been involved in a story that got this screwed up. I was so surprised to read the story. It's like the facts were misstated in order to put forward an agenda.

The NY Times author starts the story:

Flanked by a cadre of local political leaders, Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose used a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a solar power company last week to talk up the promise of the green economy.

…But SolFocus assembles its solar panels in China, and the new San Jose headquarters employs just 90 people.

Hartsoch tells Climate Progress she was "shocked" when she read the story. Why? Because the reporter left out one very important fact: Sol Focus directly employs only four people in China and hires about 30 sub-contractors for manufacturing. So its U.S. operations are far larger than anything in China.

When factoring in all the sub-contractors in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan for production of components like glass and racking, the number of American jobs the company supports rises by dozens more, says Hartsoch.

She says she told all that to the reporter, who apparently had already decided his predetermined narrative was more important than fact-based reporting.

No, the company has not yet created a massive amount of jobs. But it's scaling up at a moderate pace in response to demand for its unique concentrating photovoltaics technology (as opposed to the much-maligned solar company Solyndra, which tried to scale too quickly). And with a product that can potentially compete with low-cost Chinese producers, it's the type of American-based company that could actually help the country succeed in solar manufacturing.

As Hartsoch says: "It makes sense for us to do the panel assembly and build the trackers near the end-use where we're constructing projects." So with a market here to support project development, a lot of the jobs will actually stay in the U.S., not China.

But the writer doesn't mention any of this. Instead, he makes an even more misleading statement about SolFocus' manufacturing operations:

A SolFocus spokeswoman, Nancy Hartsoch, said the company was willing to pay  work at the campus on Zanker Road, although the solar panels themselves will continue being made in China. Mayor Reed said he continued to hope that San Jose would attract manufacturing and assembly jobs, but Ms. Hartsoch said that was unlikely because "taxes and labor rates" were too high to merit investment in a factory in Northern California.

According to Hartsoch, the writer conveniently left out the fact that SolFocus is looking into building an assembly facility in southern California to be closer to where projects are being deployed. Instead, the reader gets the impression that SolFocus will be shipping all its jobs over to China just because it won't likely build a facility in northern California.

Hartsoch explains her reaction to the story:

Honestly, I've never been involved in a story that got this screwed up. I was so surprised to read the story. It's like the facts were misstated in order to put forward an agenda.

Things like this have legs that don't stop. It gets picked up everywhere and gets skewed further and further. I don't normally say anything about stories in the press, but the piece was inaccurate enough that I had to say something.

In this particular case, the writer misleadingly left out all the important details that would have given the facts context – and therefore would have challenged the predetermined conclusion of the article that clean energy jobs are a "pipe-dream."

Of course, as Climate Progress reported, the author also completely ignored the "explosive growth" documented by a recent Brookings study in the clean energy jobs sector – even though the article cited the study!

Sadly, as Hartsoch points on, this widely debunked story lives on, cited again and again by right wing media and columnists like David Brooks.  Such are the fruits of bad journalism.

This story was originally published at and was cross-posted with permission.

Image: screenshot of NYTimes Green Jobs story linked at the top


Trina Solar Sets Solar Power World Record with New ‘Honey’ PV Module

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 10:01 AM PDT

Photo credit: Trina Solar

Trina Solar has set what looks to be a new world record for electricity produced by a multicrystalline solar PV module. A 156 x 156 millimeter, 60-cell module produced a peak 274 Watts of electrical power in laboratory testing, a result confirmed by TUV Rhineland.

The cell was manufactured using Trina’s new ‘Honey’ technology platform. The new ‘Honey’ modules are made up of 60 newly developed six-inch deep blue cells. Making use of improved back sheets, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) cell encapsulation, string ribbon and coating glass, the new modules’ power output ranges between 245W and 260W and deliver a module conversion efficiency of up to 15.9%, according to the company.

A subsidiary of Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co. Ltd. NYSE-listed Trina Solar (TSL) is a vertically integrated solar PV company that does everything from producing polysilicon ingots and wafers on through to manufacturing mono- and multi-crystalline silicon PV cells and modules.

Trina’s also improved the durability of its new modules, which have a “mechanical strength and ability to withstand high wind and large snow loads of 2400 and 5400 Pa respectively.” They come with a 25-year linear power warranty, a 10-year product warranty and guaranteed positive power tolerance of 0/+3%.

“We are very pleased to demonstrate our technology leadership with this new world record,” commented Jifan Gao, Trina Solar chairman and CEO. “This technological innovation will allow our customers to improve overall system costs and returns on investment.”

Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Summit November 28-30

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 08:16 AM PDT

CSP began in Spain

Who comes out best in the evolution of solar energy: photovoltaics or concentrated solar power?

A growing number of number solar experts contend that today's photovoltaic panels are being manufactured at price points so low the net result effectively eliminates competition from Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) systems.

According to CSP Today, with an average generation cost of .15€/KWh in Europe, the energy payback time for the most leading technologies is placed at six months. But this calculation is set to drop further with expected generation costs going down to 0.07 €/kWh in almost all of Europe by 2020.

To put this in perspective, writes CSP Today, "The prices of solar panels are falling so fast that by 2013 they will cost half of what they cost in 2009."

Where does this leave CSP on the competitive landscape?

For those following or invested in CSP, this all sounds like good reason to attend the 5th International Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Summit held November 28 to 30 in Sevilla, Spain, writes global events director Maria Slough Rocha.

CSP started in Spain but it is evolving into an international market for renewable solar energy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that by 2050 CSP could provide 11.3 percent of global electricity. The next two years are critical if market volume is to reach €23 billion in 2020 as predicted, and if the 89 planned plants in 16 countries achieve their multi-GW capacity.

Not only has CSP been affected by the drop in prices, so have many leading manufacturers of PV panels, including California-based Solyndra, which ceased operations last week, laying off 1,100 employees and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

But as prices fall, the competitive playing field continues to grow. The world renewables market is predicted to increase to €270 billion by 2020 from €8.7 billion today. It is predicted that solar PV will garner 36 percent share of this expanding market, with CSP anticipated to claim some 8 percent of this market.

Although Spain and the USA presently represent 90 percent of the total CSP market, Algeria, Australia, Egypt, France, Italy, India, Mexico, Morocco and South Africa are either constructing or planning CSP plants.

Attendees at this CSP summit should find themselves having plenty of interesting news to discuss.

Photo: picturebuilder

“Other Cleantech News” Page

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 07:35 AM PDT

This is just a reminder that I’ve started a page here on CleanTechnica for sharing other notable cleantech stories from around. You won’t see this in the article stream on the front page or in your RSS/Twitter/Facebook feed if that’s how you follow us. You have to go directly to: Cleantech News, also linked in the left sidebar of all CleanTechnica pages. I update the page almost daily. This is my roundup from the past day or so (it’s been an exceptionally busy day after the long weekend):


  1. Calisolar to expand solar silicon production
  2. Is First Solar gaming the system? Getting $456 million U.S. loan guarantee to develop low-risk Ontario projects indicates as much
  3. Dow Chemical, DOE aim for Solar at $2 a watt
  4. NextEra Energy Resources’ Subsidiary Closes $935 Million Financing and Secures a DOE Loan
  5. Photovoltaics among fastest growing industries in the world


  1. Construction Complete on Lower Snake River Wind Farm at Pomeroy, WA
  2. Offshore wind turbine research in Maine gets boost
  3. Harry Reid: I'm 'Not Confident' Congress Can Extend the Production Tax Credit for Wind
  4. E.ON Climate & Renewables and GE Announce 300 Megawatt Deal for Two Wind Farms in Illinois
  5. More Reflections on Failed PV Firm Solyndra
  6. Solyndra's Loan Guarantee Was 3.4% of the DOE Solar Portfolio
  7. First Solar Announces Agreement for 100MW Module Supply with Reliance Power

Clean Transportation

  1. Study finds range anxiety plummets after three months
  2. UPS Adds 100 EV Delivery Vans to Its Green Fleet
  3. Race to Make 100,000 Vehicles with Lithium Batteries

Energy Storage

  1. DoE Awards Nearly $7 Million to Advance Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Storage Research
  2. ZBB to Provide Energy Storage for US Navy Micro-Grid Project

Energy Efficiency

  1. GE Leads $22 Million Investment in Energy Efficient Building Maker Project Frog; Installing Sustainable Building at GE Learning Center
  2. Veeco inaugurates new LED technology center in Taiwan


  1. GE’s $3.2B Converteam buy: Why it matters for solar and wind
  2. Researches Discover New Metal Alloy Which Turns Heat into Electricity
  3. Rwanda harnesses volcanic gases from depths of Lake Kivu

Worldwide Market for Solar PV Cells to More than Double by 2020

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 03:03 AM PDT

The global market for solar photovoltaic (PV) cells will more than double by 2020, according to South Korea’s Samsung SDI, rising from 2010′s $30 billion to $70 billion. Falling prices and supportive government policies will drive the growth, Reuters reported early Wednesday.

Overcapacity will continue to challenge solar cell manufacturers and the solar power industry out to 2013, however, particularly as Chinese solar PV cell manufacturers continue with aggressive overseas expansion plans, executive vice president of Samsung SDI’s solar energy division Choi Chang-sik told Reuters’ reporters Ju-min Park and Cho Mee-young.

The solar PV industry is beginning to undergo a weeding-out and consolidation process, as evidenced by the bankruptcy of Solyndra and scaling back of manufacturing by others, such as SolarWorld shutting down production at its factory in Camarillo, California.

Cuts in solar subsidies in the troubled European Union (EU), a principal driver of the rapid growth in the solar power market for years, will dampen demand. Germany and Italy, two leading EU solar power markets, have cut back on subsidies this year.

Nonetheless, Samsung SDI plans to aggressively expand its solar PV cell production from its current ~150-megawatts (MW) to 3 gigawatts (GW) by 2015, believing that its “super-efficient crystalline solar cells will differentiate” it from competitors’ products. The company intends to invest 2.2 trillion won (~US$2.05 billion) into the business and expand into thin-film solar PV manufacturing as well.

Set for implementation after 2015, South Korea’s emissions cap-and-trade program will put a floor under demand for solar PV and clean energy domestically, Samsung SDI says. With Samsung Electronics as its largest shareholder, the company intends to leverage Samsung group operations as it expands overseas, plans for which include entering the US, Japanese and EU markets while considering emerging markets, such as China and India as well.

Known for its skill and expertise in power storage and electric vehicle battery technology, Samsung SDI acquired Samsung Electronics’ solar PV cell division for $149 million at the end of May. Bankers and investors questioned the acquisition, saying that the unit will require an enormous investment and wouldn’t contribute to the company’s earnings for two years.

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