- European Investment Bank to Support Caribbean Islands’ Geothermal Energy Project
- Chevy Volt: The Facts
- Solar Decathlon-Winning Home Bought by Pepco for Public Display
- Shale Gas Production Currently NOT Profitable
- California’s New Clean Car Standards (2015-2025)
- NREL & Gamesa Working on Next-Generation Wind Turbines for U.S. Market
- Kyocera Launches Its “Highest-Output” Solar Panel
- California May Blow Past Clean Energy Target.. or May Not
- Japanese Cleantech Partners to Launch Integrated Home Solar PV-Energy Storage & Management System
- Uh-Oh! Government Motors Buys Carbon Offsets!
Posted: 02 Feb 2012 09:52 AM PST
Solar and wind energy would probably come to mind first when thinking about renewable energy potential among Caribbean nations, but the region is also home to considerable geothermal energy resources. Various Caribbean nations have been discussing how best to reduce their dependence on polluting, imported fossil fuels by identifying and developing their geothermal energy resources. Now, the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) ready to support them.
The EIB announced that it will provide a 1.1 million euro (~US$1.38 million) grant to “enhance detailed planning and study the feasibility of exporting electricity generated by geothermal energy from Dominica to neighboring islands Martinique and Guadeloupe.” More specifically, the grant facility will evaluate the possibility of building a northern submarine interconnection from Dominica to Guadeloupe and a second south to Martinique. Subsequent studies are to define the characteristics of required sub-sea cables and assess the project’s environmental impact.
“The European Investment Bank is pleased to contribute to overcoming specific technical and engineering challenges essential to lowering the energy costs in Dominica and to significantly increase electricity generation from renewable energy sources in the East Caribbean."
Renewable Energy’s Considerable Advantages in the Caribbean
The EIB’s support gives the Dominica geothermal project a big boost, and not only in dollars-and-cents terms. “Having the EIB on board in our geothermal development initiative is very instrumental in giving our program the exposure necessary to attract the best in the geothermal business – contractors, consultants, experts and, of course, investors,” the Hon Rayburn Blackmoore, Dominica’s minister for Public Works, Energy and Ports, said.
Developing renewable energy resources is a key aspect for the Caribbean nations as they look to achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, especially in terms of poverty alleviation and eradication, added Valeriano Diaz, who heads the European Union delegation to Barbados to the Eastern Caribbean.
Dominica’s looking to construct geothermal power plants capable of producing as much as 140 megawatts (MW) of clean, baseload electrical power – a 20 MW plant for local use and a 120 MW for export. Dominica’s government, with assistance from the EU and the Agence Francaise de Developpement, is drilling three test wells on the island to determine geothermal energy potential in the island’s Roseau Valley. Planning for a 5 MW test plant are also under way.
Developing renewable energy resources would yield significant benefits to Caribbean nations across a range of key issues – health and environmental quality, natural resource preservation and conservation and economic, employment and social development. Highly dependent on polluting fossil fuels to meet their energy needs, developing renewable energy systems would immediately reduce the high, foreign exchange cost of these Caribbean nations’ fossil fuel import bills.
Posted: 02 Feb 2012 06:37 AM PST
Oh, the many, many lies FOX News and political friends parrot. Here’s a take-down of some popular Chevy Volt lies (regarding fire and safety), by someone who knows (one of the Volt’s chief architects, Bob Lutz), via Gas2 (with a nice intro and addendum by Chris):
Posted: 02 Feb 2012 05:31 AM PST
If you recall, WaterShed (a solar-powered and highly energy-efficient house built by University of Maryland students, faculty and professional partners) won the 2011 Solar Decathlon. Electric company Pepco has now bought the building and is going to put it on public display at one of its facilities in Montgomery County, Maryland.
“Under the arrangement, Pepco and the University will partner on its operation, monitor its performance, conduct ongoing research and work closely on designing educational materials about WaterShed,” a news release announced this week.
“The house will serve as a ‘living classroom’ and a ‘living laboratory’ to demonstrate smart, clean energy options, blending its original technological and design innovations with Pepco’s own advanced technology, such as its smart thermostats and home-based electric vehicle charging stations.”
The University of Maryland chose Pepco as the buyer after putting the disassembled home “on the market” because of the company’s “vision of using the house to educate the public about sustainable, affordable and beautiful design,” which the University, of course, shares.
WaterShed, as built for the Solar Decathlon, has the following features:
“The team is thrilled with Pepco’s commitment because it ensures that WaterShed will continue to have a public voice,” says the project’s principal investigator Amy Gardner, an associate professor of architecture at the University Maryland. “WaterShedspeaks to the viability and untapped potential of sustainable strategies and technologies. It reminds us of the task before us – stewardship of the environment in which we live. The partnership of the University with Pepco to further develop and teach these strategies is a fitting homage to the collaborative nature of the project.”
Here’s more from the news release on how the home will be used:
Image Credit: Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon (CC BY-ND 2.0 license)
Posted: 02 Feb 2012 05:09 AM PST
This is an excellent piece on shale gas production, price, and (lack of) profit. It really exposes the inappropriately low price of shale gas for what it is. This discussion could go a lot further, but this is probably enough for one day:
by Dave Cohen
Shale gas drilling and production in the United States is ramping up like there’s no tomorrow. Natural gas is going for $3.01 per MCF ($MMBTU, Henry Hub future). The average well-head price in 2010 was $4.48/MCF. Through the first 10 months of 2011, it was $4.04. It is impossible make a profit producing shale gas at that price. Let me spell that out for you.
Consider the situation. The natural gas market is out of balance. There is a glut (over-supply) of natural gas, which is driving down the price, although demand is rising somewhat due to low prices. Now, you would think that producers would pull back on production to bring the market back into balance. But no! The shale gas operators keep drilling, which drives down the price, which makes it even more unprofitable to sell shale gas. This alone ought to tell you there’s something fishy going on.
It’s been awhile since I looked at shale gas economics. Look at my mid-2011 posts How Does The Shale Gas Scam Work? and The Shale Gas Scam Goes Public. The first post summarizes my previous work on shale gas. The second comments on the exposé questioning shale gas economics published in the New York Times last June. Energy analyst Chris Nelder has also weighed in on problem in The questionable economics of shale gas. I’ll quote Nelder’s article at length, making some comments of my own.
Yes, those are the questions. Nelder offers some theories. We can call the first one Use It Or Lose It.
This makes sense, and accords with my own conclusions. Nelder also speculates that “producers are willing to take a big gamble on shale gas in order to support their market valuations.” (See his article for the details.) Another sensible theory is that the production of associated liquids makes the economics better—but not “better” enough.
And last but not least, the best part of shale gas economics involves the use of “creative accounting.”
As Bloomberg reports in Shale Bubble Inflates on Near-Record Prices, the shale gas shenanigans are continuing unabated. I’ll illustrate this through their coverage of investment in the Utica shale, which I recently posted on inThe Next “Oil” Miracle” Will Be In Ohio! That post tells you what you need to know about the Utica natural gas play. It is largely unknown whether the Utica will be a winner. And now here’s Bloomberg—
Why is Sven wary? Why doesn’t he feel confident? Because these overseas investors could be paying $15,000 an acre for garbage!
The higher-profit Utica prospect? As far as I can see, no one has made a single dime (producing gas and associated liquids) in the Utica shale up to now. Can you say “Ponzi Scheme”?
Where there is questionable stuff going on in the shale gas biz, you will always find Chesapeake. They’re selling “preferred” stock to finance the next acquisition frency because they don’t actually make money producing shale gas. But here’s my favorite part.
Doing more science! They’re paying $15,000 per acre for potential garbage! Recall Nelder’s words: “shale gas operators [like Carrizo and Chesapeake] are simply trying to hold onto their leases long enough to flip them to larger companies at a profit. Flip away!
Can no one make an honest living anymore? It’s not hard to imagine how all this is going to end.
And on that note, I will conclude this overly long analysis. As always, the Latin axiom Caveat Emptor applies—let the buyer beware.
Posted: 02 Feb 2012 04:54 AM PST
I mentioned California’s new clean car standards in a “Clean Links” roundup earlier this week. However, if you missed that or want more details, here’s a bit of an op-ed from sister site Gas2 (those guys know cars) on the new standards. Following this post, Chris wrote a post on an important loophole in the standards, issues that would cause, and more thoughts on the standards. That one is embedded/reposted below as well.
Posted: 02 Feb 2012 04:41 AM PST
The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently announced that it and Gamesa Technology Corp., one of the world’s leading wind turbine companies, are planning to “study and test a variety of components and systems that will guide development of the next generation of wind turbines designed specifically for the U.S. marketplace.”
This is the kind of public-private partnership that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside—it’s really great to see a leading renewable energy lab and wind energy company innovating together.
NREL states that its “wind technology center is the most extensive wind-turbine testing facility in the nation” and that Gamesa has already “installed and commissioned a G97 Class IIIA 2.0 MW test wind turbine at NREL's National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colo.”
For more, check out the NREL piece on the collaboration.
Gamesa G9X 2.0 wind turbine via Gamesa
Posted: 02 Feb 2012 04:05 AM PST
Kyocera announced this week that it was launching its “highest-output” solar panel (aka solar module) in the U.S., the 80-cell KD 315 (yes, the beauty above).
Kyocera notes that “the new module is ideal for large-scale installations like solar-covered parking.”
When reporting on the matter last year, Kyocera was the #3 seller of solar panels in California. It’s a solar powerhouse with a long history of innovation and success in the industry. It has a history of setting solar efficiency records.
Here’s more on the details of its new solar modules: “Designed for high output, safety and ease of installation, the UL certified KD 315 modules feature a UV stabilized, aesthetically pleasing black anodized frame; easily accessible ground points; proven junction box technology with 12 AWG PV wire to work with transformerless inverters and quality locking plug-in connectors for quick connections.”
As mentioned earlier today by Andrew, the company has also just teamed up with Nichicon to offer a “cleantech residential energy management system that brings together renewable energy electricity production, energy storage and management.” The system will use Kyocera solar panels—perhaps these?
Posted: 02 Feb 2012 03:47 AM PST
California, as most of you know, has a renewable energy target of 33% by 2020, one of the best around. However, if current trends are any indication of where the state is headed, it could blow past that target. According to a state regulator speaking this week on the matter, California’s proposed solar projects in 2011 were a whopping 4.5 times what the state needs to meet its 33% target. (As noted previously, the surge of renewable energy project proposals is actually causing huge traffic jam in the permitting process in California, and California is quite clear that it doesn’t need any outside help to meet its renewable energy goals.)
However, there is some concern about the projects proposed. First of all, only 6% of these projects have received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Additionally, some insiders conjecture that firms are proposing projects that they won’t build themselves but will be sold to other solar power construction companies, and that the bids are too low.
“It does make me nervous,” commissioner Timothy Alan Simon told Reuters. “Is someone just bidding low to sit in the cue?” Mr. Simon believes projects submitted in the 7 cents per kilowatt hour range, for construction in 2015-2016, are unrealistically low, but he’s seeing such proposals come in.
Of course, low solar panel prices have helped solar installers and developers tremendously. And some may just be counting on increasing price declines, which we are also expecting. But I think an important point in the story above is that there’s a ton of competition in the solar marketplace right now, and developers are more than eager to make the most competitive, lowest bid (sometimes even unrealistically). Correct me if I’m wrong.
Note, though, that the CPUC is approving some beasts. I wrote 2-3 weeks ago on the news that it had just approved five renewable energy projects totaling 1,088 megawatts (huge, if you’re unfamiliar with the size of such projects).
Posted: 01 Feb 2012 11:38 PM PST
Kyocera and Nichicon are readying the launch of a cleantech residential energy management system that brings together renewable energy electricity production, energy storage and management. The new clean energy management system (EMS) consists of Kyocera solar photovoltaic (PV) panels; Nichicon’s long-life, high-capacity lithium ion battery storage/electric vehicle (EV) charging units; a DC-AC power inverter; and a sophisticated energy efficiency management software system that integrates it all.
With Japanese demand for independent, grid-tied, and off-grid power systems growing, the partners are readying for a summer launch. The integrated residential solar EMS makes use of Samsung SDI lithium ion batteries.
“This new system combines the two vital themes of power generation and power storage using Kyocera’s solar power generating system and Nichicon’s energy storage unit,” explained Kyocera President Tetsuo Kuba at a joint press conference with Nichicon held in Kyoto, January 16. “Kyocera will use its energy-management technology to launch this new comprehensive system for optimizing residential energy use, and thus make a real contribution to preventing climate change.”
According to a joint press release, features of the solar PV EMS include:
Costs weren’t disclosed, but the partners have high hopes for the system. “We’d like to see use of this system — that combines Kyocera’s top-class solar power generating systems, Nichicon’s energy storage units which hold top domestic share for EV charging systems, and Samsung SDI’s lithium-ion batteries which hold the largest global share — sweep the Japanese market,” Nichicon Chairman & CEO Ippei Takeda stated.
Posted: 01 Feb 2012 07:58 PM PST
In a move that almost seems calculated to enrage the Right with its Fox- and Rush-driven rage against the Volt, Chevy has announced it will voluntarily buy “8 million tonnes” worth of carbon offsets for $40 million to help it meet “voluntary emission reduction goals” within five years.
Even the spelling in the announcement is sissified. These are not even American tons! (Actually – I quoted European “tonnes” because the news came from the Norwegian-based Point Carbon, that covers carbon trading news from the European Commission’s European Trading Scheme (ETS), its cap & trade program.)
So, the money will just go to fatten Al Gore / big gummint wallets, right?
No, actually, the money generated by the sale of the carbon credits will go directly to buy clean energy. (That is how carbon credits in cap & trade plans work; polluters pay for the switch to cleaner energy so you don’t have to. Chevy is volunteering here, but under a cap & trade plan they would have to buy carbon credits to offset their SUV emissions.)
Chevy’s $40 million goes to North Dakota’s Basin Electric Power Cooperative, to help it buy power from four clean energy projects over the next ten years; that capture waste heat from gas pipelines to convert to energy, and bring wind power to the grid.
Basin Electric has a power purchase contract to buy base-load capacity fueled by waste heat recovered from the exhaust of gas turbines at four compressor stations located along the pipeline in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana.
Ormat waste heat recovery units at the compressor stations generate 44 MW – enough for 15,000 families a year. Chevy will help Basin Electric pay for the power from two of these, one in Culbertson, Montana, and one in Garvin, Minnesota.
Although the waste heat recovery units are piggybacked onto a dirty fuel inside the pipeline (gas) the waste heat recovery unit itself generates a zero emissions energy source, so it qualifies for carbon credits.
The other two projects that the Chevy money (aka “carbon indulgences”) will buy clean power from are more straightforwardly understood as renewable: two wind farms, one a 108 turbine wind farm that Basin Electric co-owns with 600 rural landowners in South Dakota, and a 77 turbine wind farm in North Dakota that was the first project of that size to be owned by a rural coop when it was built.
The projects will generate as many as 7.8 million carbon credits. These are carefully checked by Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), to ensure that carbon credits pay for projects that actually do reduce carbon emissions. VCS is a widely-used offset authenticator for the voluntary carbon market.
Each carbon credit represents one tonne of carbon reduced.
But sadly, Government Motors hardly needs to make Rush Limbaugh’s ditto heads any madder. Clearly, sales of the groundbreaking electric Volt are already impacted by an irrational rage against GM because of ties with the “wrong” administration in a nation now driven close to civil war.
Image: NASA. The EIA calculates that one third of North Dakota gas is flared, which is why the Bakken shale looks like a gigantic city seen from space.
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