Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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Latest from: CleanTechnica

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115-MW Solar Power Project (+ 5 More Large Solar Power Projects)

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 05:40 AM PST

7 more big solar projects, the first one being a behemoth of a solar power plant:

1. Marguerite Fund acquires 36 MW of ginormous, 115-MW Toul-Rosières solar power project. This 115-MW solar power plant, if built today, would be the world’s largest solar PV project (scroll down to the bottom of that page to see the current list of the the world’s largest). It is a project of EDF Energies Nouvelles. “Located in a former air base owned by the French State and covering a total area of 522 hectares it is situated near the city of Nancy, in the north-east of France,” The Marguerite Fund wrote yesterday, when announcing its new stake in the project. “One and a half million panels using First Solar's thin film technology will be installed for the project which is expected to start generating electricity in the third quarter of this year.”

2. 48-MW solar project sold in Northern Italy. Italy is a solar powerhouse, and this project keeps its power growing. S.A.G. Solarstrom AG announced last week that it had “signed a purchase contract with an institutional investor for the 48 MWp project ‘Serenissima’ in Northern Italy on December 31.” This was S.A.G. Solarstorm’s largest project to date. “The project was completed and brought into service on August 31, 2011. Final processing and payment of the purchase price, which is in the triple-digit million-euro range, as well as transfer of the corporate shares, will take place in the first quarter of 2012.”

3. Western Wind Energy Corp buys 42 MW of solar panels. Western Wind Energy Corp ”signed a Module Supply Agreement (“MSA”) with a leading international, multi-billion dollar photo voltaic panel manufacturer for 42 MW DC (30 MW AC) for its Yabucoa Project located in Puerto Rico,” the company recently announced. The panels were delivered and Western Wind Energy became owners of them before December 31st, 2011, thus “qualifying and exceeding the minimum 5% safe harbor provision of Section 1603 of the American Recovery Re-Investment Act. (“ARRA”).  This transaction enables Western Wind Energy to be eligible for the 30% US Federal Tax Free Cash Grant which is estimated to be approximately US $45 million…. The Module Supply Agreement was secured by a US $12 million loan that will be repaid with the project finance proceeds led by Rabobank (New York office).”

4. NTC signs power purchase agreement (PPA) for 50-MW solar power plant. “NTPC has Signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with MP Tradeco on in Bhopal , for supply of power from 50 MW Solar PV Power Plant to be set up at Rajgarh in the State of Madhya Pradesh,” the company notes.”Expected to be commissioned by the year 2013 the 50 MW solar power from Rajgarh Solar PV shall be bundled with unallocated power from upcoming coal based stations of NTPC by Government of India.”

Shri MKV Rama Rao, Executive Director (Commercial), NTPC and Shri PK Vaish, Managing Director, MP Tradeco exchanging PPA documents in presence of Shri IJ Kapoor, Director (Commercial ), Shri SN Ganguli (RED-West-II) and Shri Mohammad Suleman, Secretary (Energy), Govt of Madhya Pradesh and other senior official from NTPC, Government of MP and State Govt utilities of Madhya Pradesh.

5. 42 MW of solar power installed at Mesquite Solar power project. “Three blocks of solar panels totaling 42 megawatts (MW) have been installed at its Mesquite Solar 1 project and are now delivering renewable electricity to the power grid,” Sempra Generation recently announced. “Construction on the 150-MW photovoltaic solar installation in Arlington, Ariz., located about 40 miles west of Phoenix, began in June 2011.  Sempra Generation anticipates that the project will be completed in early 2013.”

5. Austin Energy & Austin mayor activate 30-MW solar power project. Austin Energy, Austin City Mayor Lee Leffingwell, and Village of Webberville Mayor Hector Gonzales cut the ribbon on a 30-megawatt (MW) solar power plant in the Village of Webberville, Texas on Friday. “The project marks the first utility-scale solar-energy resource for Austin Energy and helps bring the utility one step closer to achieving a 35% renewable energy mix by 2020,” Austin Energy writes. “It is the largest active solar project of any public power utility in the country, the largest active project in Texas and among the largest of all operating solar projects in America. The project began generating power on December 20, 2011.”

More info on the project:

The ribbon cutting event was held at the 380 acre photovoltaic solar farm. The 30 MW solar project is comprised of more than 127,000 photovoltaic solar modules mounted on single-axis trackers that follow the sun to maximize solar energy production. The utility-scale project is expected to produce more than 61 million kilowatt-hours of clean solar energy in the first year of operation alone….

It is expected the 30 MW solar project will generate more than 1.4 billion kilowatt hours of clean, renewable energy over 25 years. That is enough energy to power more than 136,000 average U.S. homes (5,000 homes per year) while offsetting more than 1.6 billion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.

More big solar energy project news I missed? Probably not, but if so, drop it in the comments!

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Solar & Geothermal Conferences

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 04:52 AM PST

 

For readers who want to delve deeper into geothermal energy or solar, here are 4 upcoming conferences (or conference series) you might want to check out:

 

Geothermal Energy Finance Forum — January 18, San Francisco

On January 18, the Geothermal Energy Association will convene the financial community at San Francisco's Marriott Marquis for GEA Geothermal Energy Finance Forum 2012. After three years in New York City, GEA's leading financial renewable program moves for the first time to the Bay Area, home of the world's top technology leaders and venture capitalists. The event will create a networking dialogue between the finance and investment communities of the East and West Coasts, and offer a tutorial on geothermal energy investment with top experts and major players in geothermal development and finance. Event partners for the event are American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) as well as sponsors GeothermEx and Pratt & Whitney Power Systems.

"California is hands down the world leader in geothermal, boasting more than 40 percent of the renewable energy mix in the state, making San Francisco the ideal setting for this important meeting that will take this industry to the next level of development," said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. "The geothermal industry has the ability to provide a significant portion of baseload energy to U.S. households. Megawatt for megawatt, geothermal employs four times as many Americans as natural gas, and the industry is creating thousands of jobs."

The program will feature discussions with geothermal leaders including Karen Douglas, Commissioner, California Energy Commission; Dan Nastou, Power and Infrastructure, John Hancock Financial Services; John Marciano, Chadbourne & Parke LLP; Rick Rodgers, Managing Director and CEO, Montgomery Street Financial; Mark Taylor, Lead Analyst, CCS & Geothermal, Bloomberg New Energy Finance; Shinji Yamamoto, Chief Investment Officer, IFC; CJ Arrigo, Advisor, Glacier; David Watson, Hudson Ranch I, EnergySource; Jonathan Weisgall, Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affaris, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company; Kent Burton, National Environmental Strategies; Jonathan Zurkoff, VP of Finance, U.S. Geothermal; Louis Capuano Jr, Chairman of the Board, ThermaSource; Subir Sanyal, President and Manager of Reservoir Engineering, GeothermEx; Anders Kruss, Alterra Power Corp.; Craig Mataczynski, CEO, Gradient Resources; Lenny Hochschild, Managing Director, Evolution Markets, Inc.; and more.

The United States is the world leader in geothermal generation, with approximately 3,100 MW online. A new map from Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Lab, created with help from a grant from Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org, estimates the U.S. could potentially generate nearly three million megawatts using the Earth’s heat, or about ten times the installed capacity of coal power. Since 2005, geothermal power projects have expanded from four states into 15 states from the Pacific to the Gulf Coast. While the number of states with geothermal installed capacity and projects in development is significant, the reach of the geothermal industry is even more extensive. A total of 43 states have companies involved in geothermal development operations.

In addition to its large potential capacity, geothermal energy offers advantages over other forms of energy. It is ideally suited to provide baseload power that intermittent resources cannot provide. Additionally, when compared to other forms of baseload thermal generation, geothermal offers major advantages in fuel price stability, since it does not require a fuel supply, significantly reduced air emissions, and a smaller land-use footprint per installed MW.

To register for the event, please visit: http://geo-energy.org/events/finance_forum_2012.aspx. Discounted registration is available through December 23rd. Significant discounts for GEA Members and Students are available.

 

cleantech conferences events

Solar Power Generation USA 2012 — January 31 – February 2, Las Vegas

Now widely acknowledged as being one of the most crucial events of the US utility scale solar power generation calendar, the award winning Solar Power Generation Conference and Exhibition will bring together the key players for large scale solar power generation in the US.

With more in depth and focussed streams, a day dedicated to structured networking and roundtable discussions to meet key players face to face, the return of the charity golf tournament and the introduction of the Solar Power Generation awards, it will be an action packed week in Las Vegas!

    • 350+ attendees in 2011, over 60% director+ level. 2012 is set to be even bigger and better!  
    • Over 60 expert speakers in new dedicated CSP, PV and CPV streams, drilling down into technologies and projects in more detail.
    • The best networking opportunities New roundtable sessions and online networking will connect you face to face with the key people you want to meet.
    • Utility lead: Meet more utilities that at any other solar conference.
    • Sold out exhibition halls in 2010 and 2011. 

View the impressive 2012 agenda 

Award Winning

On the 17th June 2011, Solar Power Generation 2011 was awarded the honour of being named Best American Conference at the 2011 conference awards. We would like to thank all the speakers, sponsors and participants who helped make the event a great success!

 

Photon's Solar Terawatt-hours Conference Series 2012 USA — February 1-2, San Francisco

• PHOTON's 3rd PV SAFETY Conference – Feb. 1, 2012 
- How to install and operate safe and reliable PV systems 
As the number of technical PV safety solutions on offer is rapidly growing and standards organizations are working on improving guidelines for the safety of PV systems, PHOTON's 3rd PV SAFETY Conference will provide an overview on the latest developments. At the event, experts from the PV industry, standards organizations, insurance companies and banks will discuss the achievements and further need to develop standards, procedures and technologies to make PV system operation safer – for reliable power generation, safe and accurate installation, with theft protection and products to switch off solar modules in the event of a fire. To view the PV SAFETY conference program, please click here.

• PHOTON's 4th Thin Film Conference – Feb. 1, 2012 
- Business strategies of CIGS companies 
While Solyndra shut its module factory, CIGS technology market-leader Solar Frontier has started full production at its 900 MW fab, and many further start-ups are ramping to mass production as well. And while the market environment for thin-film solar is tough as crystalline silicon module prices continue to fall, new CIGS efficiency records provide hope for this promising thin-film technology. After PHOTON's last thin-film conference successfully focused on CIGS, this event will once again be entirely devoted to the thin-film technology with the highest efficiencies, and will feature the leading stakeholders to discuss the status and future of CIGS technology. To view the Thin Film Conference program, please click here

• PHOTON's 3rd PV Inverter Conference – Feb. 2, 2012 
- Entering the era of on-grid inverters with 99-percent efficiency 
As Western technology leaders have just pushed the efficiency of inverters to an impressive 99 percent, more and more Chinese products are flowing into the global solar market. Despite this new competition from Asia, prices for this grid-connection technology have not been under as much pressure as module prices this year. But that could change very quickly. PHOTON's first US Inverter Conference will provide a comprehensive picture on the device needed for connecting PV systems to the grid – from technology, performance, reliability, and standards to supply, demand, and cost and price developments. To view the PV Inverter Conference program, please click here.

• PHOTON's 7th Solar Electric Utility Conference – Feb. 2, 2012 
- Exploring the impact of California's large-scale solar boom 
California is the epicenter of large-scale solar power development in the US, with about 600 MW of wholesale solar PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) projects currently on line, and more than 2.5 GW under construction. But that's just the start: approximately 10 GW of big solar projects have requested permission to connect to the California Independent System Operator's wholesale transmission grid in the coming years. On top of this, another 70 to 80 GW of projects are seeking interconnection to the lowervoltage networks operated by investor-owned utilities. Clearly, solar developers and equipment suppliers worldwide have heard the news about California's solar gold rush. But just like in the days of the original gold rush, there will be winners and losers. PHOTON's 7th Solar Electric Utility Conference in San Francisco will explore how to make the most out of the Golden State's solar development opportunities. To view the Solar Electric Utility Conference program, please click here.

PHOTON’s Solar Terawatt-hours Conference Series is aimed at decision makers from the solar industry and the electric utility business, solar investors, regulators, and companies planning to move into this exciting and fast-growing technology. The event is organized by PHOTON, the world's leading PV publisher, with the intention of providing a catalyst for in-depth discussions, analysis and action concerning PV technology on its way to reaching massive scale and impact in global power generation.

 

 

cleantech conferences events

Solar Maghreb 2012 — May 22-23, Casablanca, Morocco

The 3rd Annual Solar Maghreb congress returns to Casablanca for 2012. With lots having happened in the international solar markets and the regional political stage since the 2011 meeting, the 2012 congress has much to report.

With preparations well underway, the most established congress to focus exclusively on the North African solar markets will once again feature an unparalleled speaker line up of government representatives, investors, CEOs and Directors of the world's top CSP, PV and CPV companies  as well as key regional industrial groups helping to advance the North African large scale solar markets.

Exciting Developments for 2012!

  • The results of MASEN's first solar tender and the bidding process and players for the next phase
  • Project update on Desertec's first reference project
  • Feedback from Hassi R'Mel & Kuraymat almost one year on from completion: What have governments and industry learnt?
  •  Restoration of investor confidence following the Arab Spring: who is willing to take part in the market?
  • Opportunities following the decline of Europe's FiTs and the escalating debt crisis
  • The movement of regional firms into project development and construction
  • Burgeoning manufacturing capabilities following on from Cevital's large scale production facilities

Early confirmed speakers include:

  • H.E Foaad EdweeriMinister of Energy, Mines & Mineral Resources, Morocco (invited)
  • Senior Representatives, MASEN, Morocco (to be announced)
  • Ali Fassi Fihri, Chief Executive Officer, Office National de l'Electricite, Morocco
  • Khaled Hassen, Managing Director, Egyptian Electricity Regulatory Affairs, Egyptian Electricity Holding Company, Egypt
  • Noura Laroussi, General Director, Agence Nationale pour la Maîtrise de l'Energie (ANME), Tunisia
  • Amin Chtioui, Project Manager, STEG Energies Renouvelables, Tunisia
  • Didier Houssin, Director of Energy Markets and Security, International Energy Agency, France
  • Michel Bouskila, Director, Sales et Development, Cegelec Maroc, Morocco
  • Dr. Kamel Esseghairi, Executive Manager, Tunisian Alliance for Renewable Energies, Tunisia
  • Nasser Saidi, Member, MENA Regional Advisory Group, IMF, UAE
  • Senior Representative, Enel Green Power, Italy
  • Kevin Sara, Managing Director, Nur Energie, UK (British Tunisian chamber of Commerce)
  • Senior Representative, Abengoa, Spain
  • Senior Representative, AcwaPower, Saudi Arabia
  • Andre Merlin, President, Medgrid, France
  • Akmal Zaghloul, Business Development – General Manager, TAQA, Egypt
  • Alan Drew, Solar Energy Development Manager, Mainstream Renewable Power, Ireland
  • Myriem Touhami, Programme Manager, UNEP, France
  • Samir Belrhandoria, Chief Executive Officer, Moroccan Infrastructure Fund, Morocco
  • Silvia Pariente-David, Senior Energy Specialist, Middle East and North Africa Region, The World Bank, Morocco

The most senior level congress in the region: 35% C-Level Attendance in 2011!

2011 represented an intense 3 days of networking, private meetings, panel sessions and workshops. With over a third of attendees being of C-Level, the congress established its place on the map as the most senior level business to business and government meeting in the region.

2011 Attendee Profile

"It’s been a great opportunity to introduce us in the MENA market! The quality of the attendees was very professional. We look forward to maximize the contacts we made in Solar Maghreb. Great organization. Congratulations to all who made the conference possible!"
- JHRoerden

Key government bodies, institutions and companies attending the 2011 meeting included:

Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water & Environment, Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, Office National de l'Electricite, Algerian Ministry of Environment, Agence Nationale pour la Maitrise de l’Energie, French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Territorial Development, The World Bank, Abener, Air Liquide, Ferostaal, Flabeg, BF Engineering, Abengoa, JH Roerden, Oerlikon Solar, SunPower, SunEdison, Solar Millennium, Solar Ventures, Tenesol, Desertec Industrial Initiative, HSBC, Societe Generale, La Caixa Maroc, Nur Energie, Silicon CPV, Standard Chartered, Bosch Solar Energy, Attijariwafa Bank, Centrotherm Photovoltaics, Hevel Solar, Grupo Clavijo, Honeywell, Infrainvest, Malakoff Corporation, NEDO, Roth & Rau, JICA, Photowatt, Taqa North Africa, Yingli Green Energy… and many more! 

The conference will be simultaneously translated in English and French
La conférence sera traduite simultanément en anglais et en français

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45 MPG Jetta Hybrid & All-Electric E-Bugster Unveiled by Volkswagen

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 02:52 AM PST

 

Volkswagen has been getting a lot of pressure from green groups and citizens (and stormtroopers) for its anti-green lobbying in Europe for the past several months. Some good news from the company, though, is that it’s just unveiled a couple of green vehicles — an all-electric E-Bugster that I’d love to test out (would be at the top of my potential ‘buy’ list if I were looking for a car), and a Jetta Hybrid. More from Chris DeMorro of Gas2:

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Energy Efficiency Saves You Money, Really!

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 02:43 AM PST

 

This is a special  guest post by The Climate Reality Project (yes, an Al Gore project). Everything below the picture is from Shravya Reddy of The Climate Reality project.

energy efficiency saves money

Benjamin Franklin would have supported & used innovative, energy-efficient appliances and electronics.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts to give you the facts about clean energy. Click to read Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

Here's the plain and simple fact – clean energy technology can actually save you money. Chances are you know this, but there's a lot of misinformation out there – so here's a quick fact check for when you hear claims that clean energy isn't worth the cost.

I'm going to start with the easy stuff – energy efficiency. Experts have long said that ignoring energy efficiency is like walking on a sidewalk littered with cash and waving away money that's yours for the taking. Even though energy efficiency is such a clunky term, it's actually a really cool concept — doing all the same things you're currently doing and enjoying all the comforts you currently have (heating, cooling, lighting, power etc.) but with less energy. There's nothing to give up, except for a chunk of your electricity bill. Hey – I'll take a double serving of that, please!

When I talk about energy efficiency, I don't mean turning off the lights. Sure, it's common sense to turn off appliances when you don't need them, but energy efficiency does not mean using gadgets, appliances, equipment, and household heating or cooling systems less – it means using them smarter.

I don't just mean you have to buy fancy new light bulbs, either. There is a whole universe of energy-efficient appliances and equipment like refrigerators, televisions, air conditioners, boilers and others that are designed to deliver "the same bang with less buck." And certain building components (like insulation, double-paned windows, etc.) ensure that outside temperatures have less influence on indoor temperatures, meaning you'll need less energy to cool your home in summer or heat it in winter.

But to purchase energy-efficient products, first you have to pay more upfront, right? Well, most often, the slight extra cost of these improvements is offset very quickly by money saved on one's energy billOne analysis estimates that the additional cost of an Energy Star refrigerator is recouped in just two years, meaning years of savings after the two-year "payback period." Similarly, savings from lower energy bills can help pay back the additional cost of certain energy-efficient water heating systems within as short a period as eighteen months.

That said, money is tight for everyone these days. What if you just can't afford the initial purchase? Government rebates on Energy Star products may be able to help lower costs. As of June 2011, rebates worth $246 million were given out to 1.6 million consumers. There are several incentives for businesses too. Here's a full list of federal incentives that help make energy efficiency cheaper.

The bottom line is that energy efficiency saves money – for both consumers and businesses. That's what Pennsylvania realized recently, when a new report by Optimal Energy confirmed that its 2008 energy efficiency law is saving families and businesses $278 million a year, has created 40,000 full-time jobs a year, and saved over 2000 gigawatt-hours. What is the impact of this law on the climate? A reduction of 23 million tons of carbon pollution over the lifetime of energy efficiency measures put into place, which is the same as taking 4 million cars off the road every year. Now can you imagine how much difference could be made if every U.S. state did something similar? Or every country around the world? Whoa.

It's worth repeating: Yes, you can save money through energy efficiency (and renewable energy, which I'll talk about in the next post). Right after the holiday season, when we all typically stretch our budgets and spend more on gifts and celebrations, isn't the thought of a little extra savings nice? Saving money is going to be on my list of resolutions for 2012, and so is the adoption of more energy efficient practices. Let me know if you'll join me with your own clean energy resolution!

Money via shutterstock

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Hybrid Ford Fusion & Plug-in Ford Fusion Unveiled

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 02:30 AM PST

 

For all you clean car lovers, Ford has just announced some new clean car models, a Ford Fusion hybrid & a Ford Fusion plug-in hybrid that can get up to 100MPGe. Here’s more from Gas2:

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Generating Power from Sidewalks

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 02:23 AM PST

 

That little green slab creates electricity.

I almost wrote on these cool energy-producing sidewalks in October when I was writing a post for MyEnergy on kinetic energy. We’ve written on kinetic energy many times here on CleanTechnica, as you can see from this excerpt of that MyEnergy post (note: the first link and 4 others are not stories on our site, but the rest are):

In Electric Vehicles (EVs): EVs are highly efficient largely because of their use of kinetic energy. They capture the kinetic energy that is often lost as heat when braking and it is sent back to the battery of the car.

Buses, Trains, and Garbage Trucks: Implementing the same idea as above, school busessubway trainsshipping trucks, and even garbage trucks are beginning to test out and use kinetic energy from braking.

Speed Bumps: I haven't heard of anything on this since 2009, but it seemed to be the year of speed bumps being used to create electricity. Burger King announced that it would be capturing the kinetic energy of speed bumps that year, as did the UK and leading UK supermarket chain Sainsbury.

Your Shoes: Researchers at Louisiana Tech University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are each working on kinetic energy technology that will allows people to generate electricity from walking, from their shoes.

(There’s also the fun sOccket soccer ball.)

Now, though, back to the application at hand….

PaveGen is making sidewalks that include little slabs that produce electricity, using kinetic energy from people stepping on them.

“The slabs will see their first commercial use on a pathway between the Westfield Stratford City mall and the London Olympic stadium,” Chris Keenan writes over on sister site Green Building Elements. “Though only 20 tiles will be used, an expected 30 million people will use that path in its first year – overall they will provide enough power for half of the mall's outdoor lighting.”

Of course, this technology is not super efficient (yet), but when you have the opportunity to create electricity almost without any effort or change to the environment, why not? They’re also pretty cool-looking.

And, if you can place such tiles in a busy place, the electricity created can be significant.

Images via PaveGen

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Cleantech Venture Investments Up 13% in 2011 — Solar the Leader

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 02:04 AM PST

 

BrightSource Energy CSP solar tower. Brightsource raised $201 million in 2011.

This article was originally published on Climate Progress and has been reposted with permission.

As emerging clean technology companies reach stages of growth that require enormous amounts of deployment capital, investment figures for 2011 reflect that market dynamic.

Last year, global corporate and venture capital investments in cleantech grew 13% over 2010, reaching almost $9 billion, according to preliminary figures released from the Cleantech Group. Most of those investments are going to companies that have already picked up one or more rounds of funding, with 85% of dollars flowing into Series B rounds or later.

The most stunning increase in activity last year was in mergers and acquisitions, which grew by 154% in 2011. Because it's often more attractive for cleantech companies to merge with a mature corporate parent rather than go public, the amount of exits in M&A have shot up dramatically.

In North America, private venture and corporate investments grew 30% over 2010, in spite of the political push to weave a narrative that clean energy is a "failure." These figures once again show the stark disparity between out-of-touch Washington, DC political circles and the investment community, which still sees cleantech as a highly-important sector.

Solar lead the way in 2011, with $1.8 billion in venture investments. That's about 20% of total venture investments world-wide last year. Just behind solar were efficiency and transportation:

SOLAR – $1.81 billion in 111 deals

  • BrightSource Energy, a California-based developer of utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, raised $201 million from VantagePoint Capital Partners, Alstom and others
  • Stion, a California-based developer of CIGS thin-film solar technology, raised $130 million from AVACO, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Khosla Ventures and others
  • Miasolé, a California-based developer of CIGS thin-film solar technology, raised $106 million from VantagePoint Capital Partners, Voyageur Mutual Funds and others

ENERGY EFFICIENCY – $1.46 billion in 150 deals

  • OSIsoft, a provider of real-time data infrastructure solutions for management of real-time data and events, raised $135 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Technology Crossover Ventures and others
  • Prysm, a California-based developer of low-power, large-format display devices, raised $100 million from Artiman Ventures, Partech International and others
  • Soraa, a California-based developer of gallium nitride based semiconductors for lighting, raised $88.6 million from New Enterprise Associates, Khosla Ventures and others

TRANSPORTATION – $1.12 billion in 61 deals

  • Fisker Automotive, a California-based luxury electric vehicle manufacturer, raised three rounds totaling $315 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates and others
  • Better Place, an Israel-based provider of charging infrastructure and services for electric vehicles, raised $200 million from UBS, General Electric, VantagePoint Capital Partners, and others
  • DriveCam, a California-based developer of transportation efficiency software, raised $85 million from Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe

That's not to say that this investment class is without some extraordinarily large challenges. With natural gas prices at historic lows, continued policy uncertainty on the federal level, and a terrible market for initial public offerings, there are plenty of variables that can impact an investment. Some venture investors are also finding that technical challenges and increasing needs for capital  are making speed of exits slower than expected.

But don't expect investor interest to wane. The Cleantech Group expects a continued increase in activity this year.

"Despite some of the well-publicized headwinds, venture capitalists continue to invest in cleantech. Based on our historical data, we believe 2012 will be an all-time record year for global cleantech investments," said Sheraz Haji, CEO of the Cleantech Group, in a statement announcing the figures.

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Germany Installed a Record 7.5 GW of Solar Power in 2011

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 01:56 AM PST

 

EDITOR UPDATE: Note this comment (pasted below from our comments section):

December saw over 3 GW of added capacity, not 2 as stated above.

A couple of other info from the official press release at the Federal Network Agency, with some comment added:

The strongest month was December, with 3.0 GW added alone in that month. That very likely will lead to further massive reductions in the feed-in tariff at the maximum possible under current law, which would be another 15% from July 2012 on and on top of that another 24% from January 2013 on. The record of the last three months of 2011 will be taken into account for both decisions.

If this kind of pace is kept up, then the level of generation capacity projected to be reached in 2022 will be achieved seven years earlier, in 2015. Excellent news for the climate, as well as for further price reductions by even more mass production.

They also expect the next mini boom in June of this year, from people who want to secure the present levels before they go down again in July.

We saw conflicting reports on the amount installed, and went with the German Solar Industry Association’s info. I don’t see a press release from the agency mentioned above on this topic — perhaps there is only one in German? I will update this again if I can retrieve one or get our resident German-speaking American to do so.

Original article:

Preliminary figures recently released suggest that Germany installed a whopping 2.1 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic in December of 2011, bringing the year’s total up to a new record of 7.5 GW, 0.1 GW (1000 MW) more than last year’s total.

Solar PV prices dropping steadily in Germany. (Click to Enlarge)

 

solar energy installations germany 2011

On top of breaking a year’s worth of PV installations, Germany also broke the most installations in a single month in December (2011) with its over 2 GW of installed PV, increasing the record over June 2010.

The rush comes just prior to a governmental cut in support for photovoltaic installation of 15% on January 1, 2012, which is expected to be followed by a second cut of 15% as of July 1, 2012. But BSW-Solar (the Germany Solar Industry Association) says that things are rolling along as they should be.

german solar installations record

German solar PV installations increasing as solar prices drop. (Click to Enlarge)

“In 2011, solar power systems in Germany produced over 18 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, according to figures provided by the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) at the close of the year,” BSW-Solar writes. “That amounts to 60 percent more than in the previous year and is approximately equal to the electricity consumption of the state of Thuringia; this volume could theoretically supply 5.1 million households with electricity for an entire year.”

Reasons for the high demand, cited by BSW-Solar, are 1) a sharp increase in oil and gas prices and 2) significantly lower costs for solar technology (as indicated in charts above). “Since 2007 alone, prices for turnkey solar power systems have fallen by more than half,” BSW-Solar writes. “This has allowed the support for solar power systems to be reduced by the same extent.”

German solar now contributes about 3% of total German electricity supply. That is expected to reach 10% by 2020. But the industry needs the same thin in Germany that it needs in the US, Australia, and everywhere else in the world:

"What the solar industry now needs are reliable political conditions,” Carsten Körnig, Chief Executive Officer of the German Solar Industry Association, says. ”This is indispensable for the continued expansion of renewable energy sources and for maintaining an attractive climate of investment in Germany. It’s the only way to ensure that the contract between generations contained in the energy transformation will work. And it’s the only way that Germany can continue to be successful in the now highly competitive growth markets."

Sources: BSW-SolarGreen Tech Media

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Canadian Solar and Ningxia State Power Complete 10 MW China Project

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 12:26 PM PST

solar panels

China has an energy problem. As the nation continues its rapid economic expansion, it’s hunger for energy grows larger each day. China relies heavily on dirty fossil fuels such as oil and coal to feed its industrial demands and growing middle class needs. But the cost is heavy for all this economic growth and increasing middle class posterity — pollution. So, to combat thickening smog and fouled rivers, China has been investing in green technology, especially solar.

Moving along on solar at a rapid pace, one of the worlds largest solar companies, Canadian Solar Inc., and China’s Ningxia Electric Power Group recently announced the successful completion and activation of a 10-MW solar project. The energy that will be produced from this project will be around 13,511,167 KWh of power a year — and every drop of that energy will be green and sustainable. By generating this clean energy, China will be reducing its consumption of coal by 5,200 tons a year, and reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 18,900 tons per year.

Mr. Yingkuan Liu, Chairman of Ningxia Power Group, commented: “This is the first step of a strategic collaboration between Canadian Solar and Ningxia Power Group. Canadian Solar’s global technology and finance experience in solar power plant EPC will definitely help the development of solar power plants in China.”

China is already active in the solar panel industry, ramping up its production and investing heavily in its infrastructure in hopes of becoming a leader in the international solar market. But it’s clear from partnerships like the one between Canadian Solar and Ningxia Electric Power Group that China also sees the clear benefits of investing in clean energy for use at home.

Photo via Powerhouse Museum

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States Take Lead in Defining Green Jobs

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 12:17 PM PST

Green jobs are among the most controversial topic in America's clean energy economy. Confusion over what exactly makes a job green has created disagreement over the total number of existing and potential green jobs, but efforts in several states are helping define the sector, track its growth, and connect job seekers to employers.

Land of 10,000 Green Jobs

Late last week, Minnesota released the Emerging Green Economy: Green Jobs Report 2011, a two-year study on green jobs in the state. The study was funded through a $1.6 million federal stimulus grant and examined job descriptions at thousands of companies to strictly define the sector.

According to the study, a green job is one directly related to and/or essential to a green product, service, or process in which workers spend at least 50 percent of their time working on the job. Eligible sectors include renewable energy or alternative fuels; energy and/or resource efficiency; environmental cleanup, sustainable agriculture or natural resource conservation; or environmental education, regulation, compliance, or research.

This strict definition identified a small but steadily growing green sector of about 2.5 percent of the state's total job openings across 150 occupations, or 65,000 jobs out of 2.6 million jobs statewide. More than half the jobs were in construction and manufacturing, with the highest demand in engineering and science.

Minnesota may have created the clearest definition to date, but theirs wasn't the first. The New York State Green Jobs Study, released in November 2011 by the New York State and City labor departments, documented the percentage of green jobs within existing industries.

Empire State of Mind

New York's study broadly defined green jobs. First, "green economic activities produce goods or deliver services that increase energy efficiency or generate renewable energy." Second, "green employers are engaged in a targeted green economic activity." And, third, "green employees are primarily engaged in producing green products or delivering green services."

In New York, as in Minnesota, a majority of green jobs were in construction and retrofits. Within existing industries, 34 percent of all construction trades, 31 percent of all building services, 23 percent of all professional services, and 7 percent of all component manufacturing jobs were considered green.

These percentages may seem small, but are expected to grow – a significant number of companies with green employment said they'd have more similar positions in a year. Interestingly, respondents said familiarity with the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED process was the most sought-after skill set for potential employees.

Hawaii Gold

So, beyond accurately tracking job growth and attractive skills, how can states apply this green jobs knowledge? Perhaps the most valuable application is seen in Hawaii, which recently launched a Green Jobs Directory.

The state surveyed businesses in 2010 and found just over 11,000 green jobs, about 2.4 percent of total state employment across 203 occupations. As part of the survey, Hawaii defined green jobs as those that generate clean, renewable, sustainable energy; reduce pollution and waste, conserve natural resources or recycle; increase energy efficiency; educate, train or support green workers; and engage in sustainable production.

Once defined, the state created an online directory that lists companies with green jobs in their employment and made it free for interested job seekers. The directory not only connects green employers with qualified applicants, but it will also provide an accurate assessment of sector growth over time.

Image courtesy of energyNOW!

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