Thursday, January 19, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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EU Offshore Wind Energy Pipeline Projects Will Boost Capacity 62%; 883-MW of New Capacity in 2011

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 07:10 AM PST

Newly installed offshore wind energy capacity in the European Union totaled 866-megawatts (MW) of clean, grid-connected electricity offshore wind turbines in 2011, lower but roughly in-line with 2010′s total of 883-MW, the European Wind Energy Association reported today with the release of its annual industry statistical review. Worth approximately 2.4 billion euros (~$3.05 billion), 235 newly were installed in 2011 across nine offshore wind farms.

"Despite the economy-wide financial squeeze, 2011 saw a 40 per cent increase on the previous year in offshore non-recourse debt financing, up from 1.46 billion Euros in 2010 to 2.05 billion Euros in 2011," EWEA policy director Justin Wilkes stated in an EWEA press release.

40,000-MW Offshore Wind by 2020

The EWEA is working to reach a target of 40,000-MW of installed offshore wind capacity across the EU by 2020. That would supply about 4% of total electricity consumption across the 17-nation group.

A total of 1371 offshore wind turbines across 53 grid-connected offshore wind farms in 10 European countries have a total generating capacity of 3813-MW. Another nine offshore wind farms are under construction at present, which will bring an additional 2375-MW online. Completion of these projects will increase the EU’s total offshore wind energy capacity by 62%.

"The strong project pipeline and financial developments highlight the importance of countries continuing to provide and develop stable long-term frameworks for offshore wind power in order to allow the industry to continue its development," Wilkes added.

A large majority of the EU’s 2011 grid-connected offshore wind turbines – 87% – were set down in British waters. Siemens dominated the market, supplying 80% of offshore wind turbines by capacity. The UK’s SSE and Denmark’s DONG Energy were again the most active equity investors in the sector.

A full copy of the report on EWEA’s website.

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New Green Jobs Rise from Keystone XL Pipeline Ashes

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 05:04 AM PST

Obama creates more green jobs than keystone pipeline project would createWhen President Obama put the seal of doom on a construction permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, supporters of his decision were quick to point out that the pipeline will not create a significant number of permanent jobs, and that the President already has initiatives in place that create far more green jobs in the alternative energy sector. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. New green technologies that have been in development for the past few years are beginning to hit the market, particularly in the building industry, which means that more individual property owners have the opportunity to chip in their own efforts for green job creation.

Solar Power from Solar Shingles

One consumer technology that CleanTechnica has been following for a while is a rooftop solar product from Dow Solar (a Dow company), called Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles. Dow announced that it was developing a thin-film solar technology integrated right into the roofing material back in 2009, predicting a mass market product by 2011. They weren’t far off the mark. In the summer of 2011 Dow started building a new solar shingle factory in Michigan, and it announced plans to start marketing the product in Colorado. In its latest announcement, the company has selected the first three dealers in Colorado authorized to sell the solar shingles.

Innovation and Green Jobs

Aside from creating new opportunities for property owners to participate in the green revolution, companies like Dow are also investing in the intellectual growth of U.S. innovators, through government and academic partnerships. Dow is an important partner in the “cool roofs” component of U.S. Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, which is aimed at bringing the cost of solar power down to parity with fossil fuels. Dow was also a primary sponsor of DOE’s 2011 Solar Decathalon – a competition to promote energy efficiency and innovation in the building industry – and supported two of the 19 college teams that participated.

The Obama Administration and Green Jobs

White House blogger Heather Zichal mapped out the big picture in a post related to the Keystone announcement, noting that the number of jobs created by Keystone has already been dwarfed by the 60,000 jobs (or more) set to be created by 40 clean energy projects supported through federal loan guarantees, along with job creation potential related to EPA’s new standards for mercury and air toxics.

Green Jobs and Stronger Communities

One of the Dow-supported projects in the Solar Decathalon was called the Empowerhouse Project, which Dow describes as a home that “embodies the vision of Habitat for Humanity — that all people deserve safe, comfortable, affordable homes.” That, in a nutshell, expresses the full potential of sustainable job creation. In contrast to the  path we’ve treaded since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, in which job creation is almost necessarily involved with increased pollution, we’re looking at the potential for creating new jobs that help to build stronger, healthier communities.

Image: Sprout.  License Attribution Some rights reserved by Presidente.

Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

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Clean Web Hackathon this Weekend in New York City

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 05:03 AM PST


The 2nd edition of Cleanweb Hackathon (1st was in San Francisco) is coming to New York City this weekend and looks to be big. If you are going to be there, please drop us a note via the contact form linked above. Here’s more on the Hackathon from sister site EcoPreneurist:

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Walls that Generate Electricity

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 04:57 AM PST

Co-operative Insurance Tower Clad with Solar Panels - From tj.blackwell on Flickr.

Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation intends to start selling a material that enables the walls of buildings and various other structures (possibly wind turbine towers and nacelles) to generate electricity. One clear advantage of this is that solar panels would no longer be limited to the rooftops of these buildings. They can now be covered with solar cells.

The company intends to start selling the material in 2013. Each square meter of the material is said to be capable of generating 80 watts of power and the efficiency of it is said to be 11%. 11% efficiency means that it can generate 110 watts per square metre. 80 watts per square metre translates to an efficiency of 8%. So, I am assuming that it is the total area efficiency that is 8% and the single cell efficiency that is 11%.

The more realistic figure is the total area efficiency because it is measured using a realistic solar panel consisting of multiple cells.

Traditional c-Si (crystalline silicon) solar cell materials are expensive to integrate into walls, but, thanks to Mitsubishi’s creation of cells that use organic semiconductors manufactured using crude oil and other materials (instead of the silicon semiconductors currently in use, this new solar cell technology is thinner and lighter than current solar panels.

Comparison to other solar panels on the market: Most solar panels are 10% to 21% efficient. Organic solar cells can be manufactured more easily than traditional solar panels that use heavy casing materials such as glass and aluminium. Experts say the production cost of the new cells could be as low as one-tenth that of traditional panels. However, we have been unable to obtain any official release or facts on this new technology yet.

The company also reportedly wants to integrate the solar material into curtains and the bodies of electric vehicles.

Thanks to a Google+ reader for sharing this with us. Let us know if any of you find an actual news release or more info on this technology from Mitsubishi.

h/t | Photo Credit: tj.blackwell

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Manitoba Adds New Biomass Program; Advancing Renewable Energy

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 04:50 AM PST

Manitoba's biomass industry got a shot in the arm this week when the Manitoba government announced plans to boost the industry with the new Manitoba Biomass Energy Support Program (MBESP) by providing up to C$400,000 in grants. The program aims to encourage coal users within the province of Manitoba to switch to renewable fuels within the province.

"Manitoba is committed to reducing our greenhouse-gas emissions and with the assistance of programs like this, Manitoba farms will reduce their carbon footprint and continue to be part of the solution to environmental challenges," said Manitoba agriculture minister Ron Kostyshyn, in a release on why the new program is important for provincial businesses to make the switch from coal to renewable energy sources.

Biofuels are clean-burning fuels. Fossil fuels, which come from long-dead plants and other organisms, create combustion that allows large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. On the other hand, biomass released as energy can be carbon neutral as long as it's  not used more than the rate at which the source is being replenished.

"Biomass is a made-in-Manitoba fuel that can be produced from agricultural residues like straw, oat hulls and flax shives," said Kostyshyn in the release.

Other examples of biomass used for energy include: woodchips, livestock waste, switchgrass, and crop residues.

There are two components of the new program. The ‘consumer support’ part of the two-part approach will allow coal users to receive up to C$12,000 in grants to offset potential cost differences between January 1, 2012- March 31, 2012 from switching to biomass energy from coal, according to the release.  The second involves a capital part, where biomass producers and users can receive as much as C$50,000  for developing strong, quality biomass products for combustion heating systems. The capital fund will also be used for upgrades to infrastructure that can either be for expanding existing or creating new biomass capacity for consumption or manufacturing, the release said.

The MBESP's funding will increase later this year to C$1.5 million, thanks to a coal tax implemented January 1, 2012.

While Manitoba is known more for another renewable energy resource, hydro, and is known for its cheap clean energy with Manitoba Hydro, the new biomass program will allow the province to diversity its clean energy sources, supporting climate change protection, and moving away from coal.

Photo Credit: Biomass Energy System Technologies Inc.biomass

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Alstom, SSE Renewables Announce World’s Largest Ocean Wave Energy Project off the Orkneys

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 02:40 AM PST

Photo courtesy AWS Ocean Energy

France’s Alstom and Scotland’s SSE Renewables, on Jan. 17, announced the world’s largest ocean wave energy development project to date. The partners’ plan for the Costa Head Wave project calls for floating arrays of AWS Ocean Energy’s AWS-III wave turbines with total clean, renewable electricity-generating capacity as high as 200 megawatts (MW) to be installed in waters ranging from 60-75 meters (198-247.5 feet) deep about 5 kilometers off the coast of Orkney Main Island, according to a joint press release.

It will likely require three or more years of dedicated effort to get to the large-scale deployment stage, however. The Costa Head project will serve as the commercial proving ground for the full-scale, 2.5-MW AWS-III floating wave energy devices and AWS Ocean Energy system. A 1:9-scale prototype underwent testing at Loch Ness in 2010. Full-scale component testing is due to take place this year with support from the WATERS fund administered by Scottish Enterprise, and full-scale prototype testing is planned to take place at the European Marine Energy Centre in 2014.

The AWS-III Floating Wave Turbine and Marine Power Array

Nearer term, SSE Renewables and Alstom intend to carry out detailed site surveys and an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to develop 10 MW of capacity in an initial development phase.

Weighing in at less than 1,300 metric tons, each 2.5-MW AWS-III unit consists of an array of 12 interconnected cells that measure around 16m wide x 8m deep. The cells are arranged around a core structure with an overall beam of up to 60m.

Each multi-cell AWS-III array consists of flexible membranes that absorb the power of waves and convert it to pneumatic power by compressing the air in each cell, which are interconnected in “anti-phase.” Turbine generator sets convert the pneumatic power to electricity.

Individual AWS-III units will be slack-moored on-site using standard mooring spreaders, according to the companies. The individual units will be arranged in arrays comprising as many as several hundred MW of total rated capacity that are to be connected to a central offshore sub-station via a high-voltage umbilical link.

"The selection of the AWS-III system for this exciting and ground-breaking project is a significant endorsement of our technology and team. We firmly believe that the AWS-III will become the established choice for utility scale offshore wave power generation. We look forward to working with Alstom and SSE to deliver Costa Head," AWS Ocean Energy CEO Simon Grey, stated.

Developing Scotland’s Ocean Energy Resources

The Costa Head site is part the UK Crown Estate’s Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Strategic Area. SSE Renewables acquired exclusive development rights to Costa Head from the Crown Estate in 2010 as part of a commercial leasing program for marine energy projects.

Alstom purchased a 40% equity stake in Aberdeen-based AWS Ocean Energy in June, 2011. “This project places Alstom at the forefront of the fast-developing ocean energy sector along with our offshore wind and tidal energy businesses,” state Jerome Pecresse, president of Alstom Renewable Power and senior vice president, Alstom Hydro.

“It demonstrates the strength of our offer as a leading supplier of clean energy solutions and of our involvement in all renewable energy sources in Scotland, the potential of which is considerable.”

SSE Renewables is a leading, keystone player in Scotland’s emergence as a worldwide leader in developing ocean, wave, and tidal energy projects and technology. Recognized for its early commitment to developing renewable energy resources, the Scottish energy utility and renewable energy project owner and developer supplies energy to some 10 million customers throughout the UK. It’s in the midst of a five-year, 3-billion-pound (~$4.6-billion) renewable project investment program.

Though the AWS-III will be used at Costa Head, SSE had acquired a stake in Aquamarine Power, which is developing the Oyster, a promising ocean wave energy device and system of its own. That stake has been transferred to the UK Environmental Energies Fund, which is managed by leading UK growth equity and venture capital firm Scottish Equity Partners (SEP).

The fund operates as a partnership between SSE Renewables’ parent firm, a FTSE-100 listed SSE plc, one of the UK’s largest energy companies, and four blue-chip institutional investors, headed by Lexington Partners, the world’s largest manager of secondary private equity funds.

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EnXco Acquires Cielo’s 161-MW Texas Panhandle Wind Ranch; Accelerated Construction by Year-End to Qualify for Expiring Production Tax Credit

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 12:09 AM PST

Photo courtesy Wanzek Construction

Austin’s Cielo Wind Power announced the sale of its 100% interest in the Spinning Spur Wind Ranch project to enXco yesterday, the San Diego-based renewable energy project development arm of France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles, according to an enXco press release.

Located on a 28,420-acre site about 30 miles west of Amarillo outside Vega in Oldham County, enXco expects to have the 161-MW project producing clean, renewable wind energy by December this year in order to qualify for the federal government wind energy production tax credit (PTC), which is due to expire at year-end.

“This project is a direct result of the job-creating Federal incentives for wind power that currently stand to expire at the end of 2012 and local incentives from Oldham County and area schools,” said Walter Hornaday, Cielo chairman and president.

“Spinning Spur will deliver long term pollution-free wind energy to Southwestern Public Service Company and trigger significant economic development through the creation of both Texas and New Mexico based construction jobs. We are pleased to work with enXco, a leading North American project developer and operations and maintenance company, to bring this valuable project to fruition.”

Accelerated Construction, Project Costs, Power Purchase Agreement

Electricity produced at Spinning Spur will be sold to Xcel Energy’s Southwestern Public Service under the terms of a 15-year power purchase agreement. Spinning Spur is expected to produce some 650,000 MWh of clean energy annually, enough to power more than 54,000 households. In addition to adding to Southwestern’s already available 1-gigawatt (GW) supply of clean, renewable electricity, the utility will earn Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Fees paid to landowners could exceed $1 million during construction while generating additional green jobs.

All told, project construction costs are estimated at $322 million, or $2 million per MW. That includes turbines (from 1/3 to 1/2 the total cost), transportation, legal fees, rights of way, foundations and roads, as well as all other costs, West Texas A&M Alternative Energy Institute’s Ken Starcher told Amarillo Globe News’ Kevin Welch.

Though selling ownership, Cielo will carry on as Spinning Spur's construction manager. North Dakota’s Wanzek Construction is the project contractor. The construction schedule is an ambitious one. Seventy 2.3-MW Siemens’ wind turbines will be erected on the site. A Wanzek construction crew of 120 will carry out the construction. Construction of 1 MW of wind turbine capacity per day is a rule of thumb for accelerated construction in the industry, West Texas A&M’s Starcher pointed out.

enXco’s Texas wind energy project purchase follows enXco’s Jan. 17 announcement of a supply contract with Japan’s Solar Frontier for as much as 150 megawatts (MW)-worth of thin-film CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide) solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, the largest such contract to date. The CIGS modules will be installed at enXco’s Catalina Solar Project in Kern County, California.

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California Speeds Up Clean Energy Permits Before its Too Late

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 08:17 PM PST


In a much-needed effort to speed up the permitting required to build all the new renewable energy projects being proposed in the state, California Governor Jerry Brown plans to add four positions at the state Department of Fish and Game, along with funding for outside experts.

It’s intended to ease the bureaucratic delays that have long aggravated developers; industry and environmental groups told Climatewire.

Kim Delfino, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife said Fish and Game “just didn’t have the bodies to deal with all the [renewable] technologies.”

The positions Brown would add are aimed at shortening the clock on approvals for “incidental take” permits issued by Fish and Game. Those clearances are required in California whenever a project might harm species listed as threatened or endangered under state law.

Developers must list each affected species and are required to adopt measures to reduce harm.

But rather than put the new hires on the budget, an additional fee of $25,000, and up to $200,000, depending on the complexity of the endangerment to be determined for each application – would cover the extra costs of assessing it.

The fees will generate at least $7.5 million to pay for the permitting expertise needed, both within the department, as well as the outside experts that have been needed.

The department already levies an application fee of $75,000 to pay for all or some of the department’s cost of processing incidental take permit applications, and it has eighteen permitting officers.

But with the surge in renewables on California – about 300 applications are expected to be filed for a Fish and Game clearance this year alone - they must add four more.

To pay the new salaries, a bill passed by Democrats last year would charge extra fees depending on project size; small projects would be $25,000, projects over 250 MW would be $75,000.

Passed last year, ABX1 13 would

“additionally require the department, until January 1, 2016, to collect, and an owner or developer of an eligible
project to pay, a permit application fee of either $25,000, $50,000, or $75,000, as specified, to the department for deposit into the Renewable Resources Permitting Account, to be established in the Fish and Game Preservation Fund,to pay for all or a portion of the department’s cost of processing incidental take permit applications and specified administrative expenses”.

The state cannot keep any money over and above the cost of processing each permit application, according to the bill. Otherwise, “that would be a tax,” according to officials at the Finance Department.

Until now, wait times have been up to a year, and with no certainty of a yes or no after any particular time. ”There’s just a huge logjam,” said Nancy Rader, executive director of the California Wind Energy Association.

“I know it’s been very frustrating to developers to not hear back, or they’ll hear back with more questions, more questions. They’ll never get an answer.”

Until now, developers have had to hire their own outside experts, on their own dime to find and list endangered species on proposed sites – such as biologists to hand count tortoises – and have borne the expense, along with the uncertainty, so for them, the measure reduces their costs, as well as greatly improving the old wait times.

Under the new law, with new blood to help speed things up, Fish and Game would then have just 60 days to approve or reject the permit application.



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Keystone XL Protesters Plan to “Blow the Whistle on Congress”

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 06:31 PM PST


The Obama Administration may have rejected the existing Keystone XL pipeline proposal today, but anti-oil-sands advocates are planning a Washington, D.C. protest next week to support Obama's decision and highlight campaign contributions from the oil industry to pro-Keystone lawmakers.

The "Blow the Whistle on Congress" event will take place on Tuesday, January 24th and feature 500 protesters dressed in black-and-white referee outfits. The event is expected to start at the U.S. Capitol and head to the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's trade association.

The 1,700-mile pipeline would run from Canada's Alberta province across seven states to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast. It has become one of the most controversial fossil fuel projects to date because of concerns over the oil sands' carbon intensity, the energy- and water-intense methods of extraction, dispute over job creation claims, and questions about if the oil sands product would increase U.S. energy independence or be sold internationally.

This protest has been seen as a reaction to intense lobbying by the oil industry in favor of the Keystone XL project, and efforts being considered by Congressional Republicans to take legislative action to unilaterally approve the project if rejected. The Obama administration, generally, and U.S. State Department, specifically, have approval authority over the pipeline because it crosses an international border.

The main event organizers, and Tar Sands Action, have previously organized two other large-scale protests of the Keystone XL proposal. The first was a two-week long sit-in outside the White House that resulted in 1,200 arrests. The second was an encircling of the White House and march through Washington, D.C. that included an estimated 10,000 protesters

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First-ever Terawatt-Hours Tally of Renewable Energy Released

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 03:42 PM PST

Renewable energy generated between 665 and 673 terawatt-hours of electricity in the EU in 2010. With total energy consumption of between 3,115  and 3,175 terawatt-hours, this means that clean energy supplied about 21% of all the EU electricity used in 2010.

In an effective rebuttal to those who constantly pooh-pooh renewable energy capacity as “just nameplate capacity”, the figures were released in terawatt-hours of electricity actually produced and consumed in a year, since power generation is the bottom line for any form of electricity.

This – yet more – evidence of the success of policy that enforces the addition of renewable power in the EU was published in a story by the European Wind Energy Association last week, based on data on renewable energy generation collected over several years.

The EU’s 2004 Renewable Electricity Directive set a target of getting 21% electricity from renewable sources by 2010, and in a sign that Kyoto succeeded, it met the target.

Originally, the target had been set for 20% by 2020, but in 2004, the date was moved closer because it was being so speedily accomplished ahead of time, once begun. Indeed, by 2005, the EU already had 13% renewable energy production.

The report extrapolated that if renewable electricity production in the EU continued to grow at the same rate as it did from 2005 to 2010 it would account for over 36% of electricity produced in 2020 and over 50% in 2030.

(With this data on hand, it is no wonder the EU approached the Durban climate talks at the end of last year with the offer to raise their target to 30% by 2020. They are easily on track to exceed that, even with wriggle room for any growth-slowing recessions.)

The tally shows that if the whole world followed its example, we could beat dangerous climate change. Simply reducing emissions 2% a year gets us to the 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 that underpins climate legislation. And building renewable energy at the pace of the EU will do it – increasing renewable energy reduces carbon emissions.

Despite the hysteria whipped up about last year’s announcement of the EU’s one-time “largest ever in a single year!” 2.4% rise in greenhouse gas emissions – the context of that single year rise has been little-noticed.

But that one year rise came after a much larger 7 % drop in emissions the previous year, so – by adding the two years and dividing by two, to get the average of both years – you find that there was actually a drop in greenhouse gas emissions of 3.5% a year, averaged over both years. That drop is almost twice as fast as is needed.


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