Friday, October 5, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

Debunking Romney’s $90 Billion Lie

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 02:29 PM PDT

Editor’s note: Jeremy Bloom of sister site Red, Green, and Blue has written a great debunking of Mitt Romney’s $90 billion lie (reposted below). That’s reposted below. Of note, however, is that it’s not just us ‘green’ sites flabbergasted by Romney’s absurd lies regarding cleantech. Among many others, the Washington Post debunked some of these lies while live-blogging the debate last night, and it even used a CleanTechnica post to do so with one of them! The CleanTechnica link above concerns the fact that the clean energy loan failure rate is nothing close to 50%, more like 1.4% — covered in the second paragraph of the Washington Post.

Notably, it seems that even if most of the public doesn’t know this, they have a much better sense for how governmental clean energy policies help the country, as approximately 92% of the U.S. population supports solar energy (of course, that includes a majority of Democrats — 94%, Independents — 89%, AND Republicans — 75%), and a strong majority (about 2/3) support governmental policies focused on advancing cleantech.

Now, besides this great debunking below, please also take a stroll through our Solyndra archives to find a whole ton more debunkings of completely false cheap shots taken at the solar energy industry (which now employs over 100,000 Americans, by the way!).

For now, here’s Jeremy’s post on the $90 billion and Solyndra lies:

Romney’s $90 billion lie about green jobs and Solyndra (via Red Green & Blue)

Of all the lies in last night's debate, I think the one that annoyed me the most was Mitt Romney's massive, overbearing lie about green jobs. He claimed that Obama had put $90 billion in one year into loan guarantees for green energy companies like Solyndra, and that half of them had failed. Leaving…

Romney Gets the Energy Facts Wrong in Wednesday’s Debate

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 02:14 PM PDT

Editor’s note: Here’s a great guest post from NRDC Action Fund on Romney’s outside-reality energy comments last night (notably, on Romney’s clean energy lies, the Washington Post debunked some of the lies while live-blogging the debate, and it even used a CleanTechnica post to do so with one of them — the same post NRDC Action Fund uses/links to below in the “1.4 percent clean energy loan failure rate” sentence):

The post-debate analysis is in full swing, and while pundits are talking about Governor Romney's aggressive manner and President Obama's subdued performance, the real story is how many times Romney strayed from the facts. On energy issues alone, he not only distorted the truth but he also misrepresented his own positions.

It began when Romney said he supported clean energy. This passing remark came after he spoke at length about expanding oil and gas drilling and building the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil. It also came after he let us know: "I like coal."

I am not surprised Romney paid lip service to clean energy. Nine out of 10 Americans say developing renewable energy should be a priority for the president and Congress, and that includes 85 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Independents. And two thirds of Americans want to extend tax incentives for clean energy.

But Romney's own positions would thwart the rapidly growing clean energy economy and the tens of thousands of jobs it creating. He wants to kill incentives for wind power—incentives that enjoy strong bipartisan support, perhaps because more than 80 percent of installed wind power comes from Republican-majority states. And his economic plan calls for cutting clean energy investments by 90 percent, down to just $1 billion in 2014.

Romney repeatedly criticized Obama for his clean energy incentives. But once again, his facts were wildly off base. He cited the $90 billion the Obama administration invested in renewable energy projects, energy efficiency measures for homeowners, public transit, and other stimulus projects, and tried to claim that clean energy received more government help than fossil fuels.

The historic record proves otherwise. A study of by DBL Investors found that the oil and gas companies have received $446.9 billion in subsidies (1918-2009) and the nuclear industry scored $185.7 billion (1947-2009). Up until 2009, meanwhile, the renewable sector outside of biofuels had gotten only $5.9 billion.

The $90 billion the Obama administration has invested in clean energy since then has already delivered amazing returns: wind power has doubled in three years, solar power has quadrupled in four years, and more than 1 million homes have received energy-saving retrofits. More than 150,000 Americans have jobs making parts for and assembling clean cars—hybrids, electric cars, and other advanced vehicles that weren't even available 10 years ago. And consumers can find nearly 60 fuel-efficient models in showrooms today—up from 27 in 2009. These cars are putting more money in Americans' pockets and helping American automakers come back from the brink.

Romney tried to ignore this success by saying half of Obama's clean energy investments had failed. That's simply false. While a handful of companies granted loan guarantees have folded, hundreds of other companies are succeeding. In fact, the failure rate for clean energy loan recipients was only 1.4 percent by the end of 2011.

When all the smoke clears and the conversation shifts from style to substance, voters will realize the clear choice before them. One candidate will keep America hooked on the same fossil fuels that have been polluting our air for decades. The other has presided over the largest increase in clean energy in our nation's history and strengthened public health and environmental protections. Those are the facts and hopefully they will garner greater attention as we head into the next debate.

California Set to Link CO2 Scheme with Quebec in 2013

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 01:40 PM PDT

California has been pushing towards a goal of connecting itself to a much larger carbon market, and is well on its way to that goal with its forthcoming emissions trading scheme with Quebec in 2013, the state’s chief air regulator said on Monday.


Mary Nichols, chairperson of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), was quoted as saying that California Governor Jerry Brown is going to sign off “on rules that would enable linkages for the state’s CO2 market after review by the attorney general.”

The governor has 45 days to “find that the other jurisdiction has adopted a greenhouse gas reduction program that is equivalent or stricter than California’s program and that any linking failure will not impose significant liability on the state.”

“We are preparing the package for the governor to sign off on linkage, which should happen sometime this year,” Nichols told a carbon market conference in Washington, adding that the linkage to Quebec’s market and joint auctions with it would begin next year.

The two jurisdictions are both members of the Western Climate Initiative, which is a regional cap-and-trade system. And they both have been planning to link their markets together well before their 2013 launch dates, but decided to delay the linkage in order to await approval by the Californian governor.

Quebec actually has a more ‘ambitious’ GHG reduction target than California, 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, compared to California’s goal of 1990 levels by 2020.

“The addition of Quebec would increase the size of the overall market by 20 percent, increasing liquidity and giving California businesses more opportunities to reduce emissions.”

By linking California’s carbon market, which overlaps 85% of the state’s economy, with other regions, carbon emitters can comply with emission restrictions at a cheaper price.

“We have come to agree it would be better to be part of a larger system,” she said.

There has been a dissenting opinion voiced by a panel of experts advising ARB, saying that there would be very negligible upside to linking California and Quebec, and suggesting that California wait until 2015.

“Delaying linkage until both California and Quebec markets are well-functioning is likely to reduce cost and increase benefits,” California’s Emissions Market Assessment Committee said in a report released on September 24.

“This is unlikely to be the case at least until the second phase of the program in California is implemented in 2015,” the committee said.

California is currently also considering potential links with the cap-and-trade scheme called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the northeast, and links with the “more than half dozen Chinese provinces that plan to implement emissions trading systems.”

Source: Reuters
Image Credits: Coal Power Plant via Wikimedia Commons

Vestas to Supply 68 MW of New Wind Turbines for Keadby Wind Farm in UK

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 01:00 PM PDT


Wind power giant Vestas has recently been contracted to supply 68 MW of wind turbines, consisting of 34 units of the V90-2.0 MW turbine, for the Keadby Wind Farm project near Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire, UK.

The order was recently placed by Keadby Wind Farm Ltd; which is a company wholly owned by SSE. SSE is one of the top electricity and gas companies that are operating in the UK and Ireland. They are the second-largest power generation business in the UK, having a total capacity of over 11,300 MW.

“Keadby Wind Farm is due to be the largest onshore wind power plant in England. Once constructed, Keadby Wind Farm will have an installed capacity of 68 MW and it will provide clean, green energy and power the equivalent of between 38,000 and 47,000 UK homes.”

The installation of the wind turbines is expected to begin in 2013 during the summer and to be completed by summer 2014.

Source and Image: Vestas

Are Subsidies Holding Back U.S. Solar Deployment? (CleanTechnica Exclusive from Jigar Shah)

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 12:40 PM PDT

Editor’s note: While we here at CleanTechnica have focused on the ‘soft costs’ of solar making German much cheaper than U.S. solar, one of the world’s leading solar and climate change solutions entrepreneurs and investors, Jigar Shah, contends that the cost differences are actually largely due to another factor — high U.S. subsidies. Have a read and then let us know what you think.

By Jigar Shah

As the Founder of the largest solar services provider, SunEdison, I had a hand in putting in place subsidies so that we could reduce costs through scale in local markets. This strategy has resulted in an average system cost reduction of over 50% since 2008.

But today, solar subsidies in maturing markets like the United States are actually holding us back, not propelling us forward. In fact, Germany has hit an all time high for solar capacity with 30-gigawatts peak (GWp) of solar power installed. Germany has done this by installing solar at far cheaper prices than we are in the United States. That is because solar subsidies are manipulated by investors like me to maximize our returns. The truth is that installers in the United States can, and do, install solar at roughly the same cost as German installers – save for some increased soft costs. If we want to reach higher growth, we need to phase out the solar tax credits and other solar subsidies in mature markets and watch the price of solar fall.

The reasoning behind my strong stance is that, based on the cost of solar that I am personally investing in, solar is now cost-effective without subsidies for ideal customers in 300 utilities in 30 US states. Those 300 utilities account for about 20% of all of the electricity sold in the United States (using Energy Information Administration Form 861 data). Based on my experience, my thesis is that phasing out these subsidies will lead to 1) greater system cost reductions, 2) lower cost of money, and 3) greater standardization in the industry – all leading to a greater acceleration of solar PV deployment in the United States.

My conclusion is derived from the living laboratories of India, Germany, and the UK. While I was initially skeptical that the elimination of high subsidies would help lower the consumer price, my skepticism was abated through a clear review of the data. My initial feeling was that competition alone wasn’t enough to drive prices lower. But recently India, Germany, and the UK have drastically reduced their feed-in-tariffs and a curious thing happened – prices to investors came down. Most of the industry believed that this would lead to much less solar getting installed — in fact, the opposite occurred. Solar installations went up because the local solar industry cut prices to keep investors interested. While most folks would see how this might happen in a mature market like Germany that has a four-year head start, younger markets like the UK and India were also able to replicate the cost reductions. Today, the average large commercial solar installation in the UK is installed and sold to investors for less than $2/Wdc – same as Germany. In India, where the basic building block is a 5-MW utility scale project, the systems are installed in less than two months for about $1.70/Wdc.

In the United States, commercial solar prices are stuck stubbornly above $3/Wdc (although installation costs are very similar to Germany and the UK). The reason for these high prices is that for commercial companies able to install for $2/Wdc, the existing US subsidies are so rich that developers can charge more and still meet investor expectations. There is no incentive for commercial project developers (like SunEdison) to pass these savings onto investors as long as the investors are satisfied with the current returns they are receiving. Today, US solar subsidies need to be phased out so that we can complete the transition to grid parity.

Separately, solar in the United States suffers because it cannot access low-cost money, due to our reliance on federal tax credits. Even though low-risk certificates of deposit pay just 1.5%, and Canadian energy trusts just 4.75%, the US solar industry is paying in excess of 10% to investors. Why? Two words: tax equity. Most investors cannot use tax credits because of arcane passive investment laws passed in 1986 – where oil and gas are of course exempted. If the numbers work without those subsidies, why not just invest even if you can't use the subsidies? The reason is basic human psychology — if the subsidies are available, people want to use them. If they can't use them, investors would rather not invest then "leave money on the table." This tax credit dilemma also prevents professional investors like Fidelity from offering the middle class investment products through which families could invest in solar in their communities.

Professional investors like Fidelity are also important because they drive standards. Today, some people estimate that 95% of solar sales efforts are wasted because they are chasing customers that are unfinanceable. Since most of these sales folks are paid on commission, they have no rational interest in wasting their time, but because of a lack of standards, they have not been given clear instructions on the ideal customer and the ideal terms of the contract.

In 2012, the solar industry will have over 100,000 employees installing over 3,000 megawatts of solar, attracting close to $12 billion in investment. The solar industry is not small. The solar industry now employs more people than the oil & gas pipeline industry, coal mining, and iron & steel manufacturing. By 2016, the last year of the 3o% federal investment tax credit, the US solar industry will be installing 4X the megawatts and employing 2X the number of people. This can only happen if we can find over $7 billion in tax equity – while the available tax equity market is around $5 billion. If we can phase out our federal tax credit from 30% to 10% by 2017, we could live below the $5 billion cap and continue our rapid growth rate.

Recently, Nancy Pfund and others made a passionate case that the federal government actually receives more benefits from the 30% federal investment tax credit over 20 years than it costs. This line of argument is as accurate as it is irrelevant. The US solar industry needs mainstream finance, lower costs, and greater standardization to reach 12,000 megawatts by 2016. Germany doesn't install much cheaper than the US; they price less than we in the US because their subsidies have fallen faster than ours.

I get that fact that coal and gas are still subsidized and that solar shouldn't phase out our subsidies until we have a level playing field. Everything is possible, but we need to create a roadmap to greater growth and face up to the realities of our industry. This is the largest wealth creation opportunity on the planet and it is about time that the US solar industry starts staying ahead of the game.

Jigar Shah, is CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting and a partner at Inerjys, a $1 billion fund that invests in clean energy via growth capital and project finance. Jigar is an entrepreneur and visionary committed to creating the next $10 trillion economy by unlocking capital markets that invest in proven technologies to achieve two goals: solving the biggest problems of our time and generating market-competitive, compelling financial returns for investors.

Jigar's first foray into realizing this mission was the founding of SunEdison in 2003, today the world's leading solar services company. SunEdison simplified solar by making it a service through the implementation of the power purchase agreement (PPA) business model. This groundbreaking model helped turn solar PV into a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.

After successfully exiting SunEdison, Jigar served as the first CEO of the Carbon War Room, the global organization founded by Sir Richard Branson to harness the power of entrepreneurs to deploy proven climate change solution technologies at scale. Jigar's leadership was instrumental in helping build the organization into one of global importance.

Jigar is a regular contributor to top-tier media and is author of an upcoming book on the Impact Economy.

Massachusetts Still #1 for State Energy Efficiency

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 12:22 PM PDT

According to the most recent State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released Wednesday by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Massachusetts is still #1, while basically all US states continue to move strongly to advance energy efficiency initiatives regardless of which political party is at the controls.

aerial of boston

The ACEEE State Scorecard lists Massachusetts as the most energy-efficient state in the US for the second year, followed by California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota.

It also listed the 10 states most in need of improvement: Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Nebraska, while Oklahoma, Montana, and South Carolina come in as the three most improved states, having significantly increased their budgets for electric efficiency programs during 2011.

"These findings show that energy efficiency is being embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike at the state level,” ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said. “That nonpartisan status is crucial because too many conversations about U.S. energy policy begin with the false premise that the only way to safeguard our reliable energy future is to expand our supply.

“While some supply investments will be needed, the truth is that step one should always be energy efficiency, our cheapest, cleanest, and fastest energy resource. Energy efficiency improvements help businesses, governments, and consumers meet their needs by using less energy, saving them money, driving investment across all sectors of the economy, creating much-needed jobs, and reducing environmental impacts."  

Other Key Findings

  • Massachusetts overtook California as the #1 state for energy efficiency last year, based largely on its continued commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act of 2008. Among other things, the Act spurred greater investments in energy efficiency programs by requiring utilities to save a large and growing percentage of energy every year through efficiency measures.
  • Annual savings from all customer-funded energy efficiency programs topped 18 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2010, a 40% increase over a year earlier. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity the state of Wyoming uses each year.
  • Utility budgets for electric and natural gas efficiency programs rose to almost $7 billion in 2011, a 27% increase over a year earlier. Of this, $5.9 billion went to electric efficiency programs, with the remaining $1.1 billion for natural gas programs.
  • Nearly half of the states (24) have adopted and adequately funded an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS), which sets long-term energy savings targets and drives investments in utility-sector energy efficiency programs. The states with the most aggressive savings targets include Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • Ten states have adopted energy efficiency codes for new building construction that exceed the IECC 2009 or ASHRAE 90.1-2007 codes for residential and commercial building construction. Two additional states, Maryland and Illinois, have advanced even further by adopting the most recent and most stringent code for residential construction, the 2012 IECC.

"We are proud to have maintained the number one spot in the nation because of our continued focus on innovation and investments in energy efficiency,” said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. “Our Green Communities Act is cutting our dependence on imported energy sources, creating jobs and leading the way to a more sustainable energy future for Massachusetts."

ACEEE Senior Policy Analyst and State Scorecard lead author Ben Foster said: "We find that more and more states are taking action to improve energy efficiency and move up in our rankings, and it's no secret why they want to accomplish that:energy efficiency is a pragmatic and effective strategy for promoting economic growth, creating jobs, and securing environmental benefits. The Scorecard serves as a benchmark that encourages states to continue strengthening their commitment to energy efficiency."

The report can be viewed in full here. 

550 MW Solar Project in California Backed by Japan’s Sumitomo

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 12:09 PM PDT


File name: deserttortoised.jpg

A very large (very, very large) solar power plant in California will have Sumitomo Corp as a 25% investor, the company just announced.

First Solar is building the plant, which should be operational by 2015. The Desert Light plant is being constructed in Riverside County. Agreements are in place for the new plant to send power to Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison. A loan for the Desert Light plant was backed by the US Department of Energy.

If you’re not familiar with Sumitomo, it is one of the world’s largest investment and trading companies.

Environmental concerns over desert tortoises have slowed the Desert Light project, but apparently everyone is confident it will be constructed within the next few years.

Image Credit: Tigerhawkvok, Wiki Commons

Need to Top Up Your EV Battery But Don’t Know Where? There’s An App for That

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 12:02 PM PDT

A free program named PlugShare launched last year. It monitored and featured 500 charging stations at the beginning, and now it features more than 11,000. It is an international program; however, most of the stations featured on it appear to be in the United States.

It resembles Google Maps and lets you find a charging station in whichever area you please on a graphical map.

You can literally tap the location you want and it displays a description (some of which tells you how to find the charger on the premises). And, importantly, it tells you if the charging station is available for use when you need to top up your EV battery, so you can avoid waiting behind someone else to charge!

PlugShare even tells you which type of outlet the charger uses, whether it is the EV standard J1772, a typical 120 volt outlet like the one in everyone’s houses, a NEMA 14-30 clothes dryer outlet, etc.

After that, you would tap “Get Directions,” and you’re on your way to charge.

Smartphones have become quite common, and they are mostly used for text messaging and entertainment such as MP3 playback, but apps like PlugShare can make a smartphone a much more worthy investment, because it provides them with an important, practical feature.

This is a brilliant use of modern technology to help the adoption of EVs.

Most EV charging stations will be constructed in the future, since the EV industry is still in its infancy, and because of this, there is an opportunity to integrate the latest, greatest, and most convenient technology into new charging stations so that people can find them with only a few taps, and not even have to wait.

And, more good news I just received from the company, you can add your own charging stations to its database: “If you haven’t already, you can now share your home charger with other members of the network. By sharing your charger, you can help out other PlugSharers who might be in a pinch. Even if you don’t have an EV you can share your home wall outlet — it’s a great way to meet EV owners and maybe take their sweet ride for a spin. Tell your friends!”

Smartphones are miniature computers, and computers in general are among the most powerful tools in the world.

Hooray for putting them to pragmatic use!

Source: Gas 2.0

In Debate, Romney Vows to “Bring in that (Keystone) Pipeline”

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 11:54 AM PDT

Fans of the Keystone XL pipeline got some support during last night’s presidential debate, when Mitt Romney stated “I will bring in that pipeline from Canada.” Before the cheering starts, however, it might be a good idea to take a look over at the Kalamazoo River system in Michigan, where the aftereffects of a spill from another Canadian pipeline are still surfacing well over two years later. In a curious twist of timing, on the eve of the debate, the U.S. EPA announced that it had detected more evidence of submerged oil in parts of the river system and it has ordered the owner of that pipeline, Enbridge, to conduct additional new cleanup efforts.

Romney supports keystone pipeline in debate

Oil Sands, Pipelines, and Oil Spills

The Enbridge pipeline was conveying product from Canada’s oil sand fields, the same type that would supply the Keystone XL pipeline. According to Zack Coleman over at The Hill, environmentalists point out that the density of oil sands makes cleanup much harder than other kinds of petroleum spills, since its hydrocarbon can solidify and sink instead of being released into the air.

Here’s the incident as described by the U.S. EPA:

“On July 26, 2010, Enbridge reported that a 30-inch pipeline ruptured near Marshall, Michigan. Heavy rains caused the river to overtop existing dams and carried oil 30 miles downstream before the spill was contained. So far, oil spill response workers have collected over 1.1 million gallons of oil and almost 200,000 cubic yards of oil-contaminated sediment and debris from the Kalamazoo River system.”

On August 24, 2012, Enbridge formally notified EPA that cleanup was complete, but in its October 3 order to Enbridge, EPA stated that additional cleanup is still required, as three areas still “manifest sheen as a result of submerged oil accumulation.”

That’s not the only problem for Enbridge these days, as another of its pipelines ruptured in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin just last July. According to the Star Tribune, the federal government ordered the pipeline not to reopen, “citing a history of failures that suggests an inadequate safety program.”

Mitt Romney and the Keystone XL Pipeline

Transcanada, which owns the proposed Keystone XL project, doesn’t fare much better than Enbridge when it comes to its track record on oil spills. Though the company apparently has gained a long-term, reliable reputation in natural gas transportation, its relatively new transition to oil sands doesn’t bode well for the future.

The Natural Resources Defense Council provides a rundown of proposed Keystone XL safety features that appear to be at best inadequate, considering that the company’s newly constructed “state of the art” Keystone pipeline suffered twelve spills just last year, in its first year of operation.

The Obama Administration has asked for further review of Keystone XL because it would cut through sensitive lands in the Midwest. In addition, the product it carries would not ease prices in the U.S. oil market (it is intended for export), and it will create relatively few construction jobs along with a negligible number of permanent positions.

Nevertheless, this is the energy security and job creation project that presidential candidate Mitt Romney singled out for special urgency in last night’s debate.

Given the vast potential for far more beneficial and less risky energy projects for U.S. citizens in both the public and private sectors, it’s not clear why there is such a rush behind this particular project.

Without an explanation, Mr. Romney is left with the appearance of channeling a former Secretary of Defense who famously attempted to excuse the lack of adequate armor for troops in the rush to war with Iraq by stating that “you go to war with the army you have – not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

In the case of Keystone XL, we have all the time in the world. So again, what’s the rush?

Image: Enbridge oil spill courtesy of U.S. EPA.

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

Deepwater Wind Files Final Federal, State Permits for Block Island Wind Farm

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 03:47 AM PDT

Investing more than $7 million of private capital in conducting what it says is "the most thorough study ever conducted of a U.S. offshore wind farm," Deepwater Wind announced it has submitted its final state and federal permit applications for the Block Island Wind Farm. Management is on a mission to build the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. in state Atlantic waters about three miles off Rhode Island’s Block Island, a proposed 30-megawatt (MW), $250 million project consisting of five Siemens 6-MW turbines that’s viewed as a stepping stone to much larger, more ambitious offshore wind power projects that management has on the planning board.

The permit applications were filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Dept. of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council — the three public agencies that have primary jurisdiction over the Block Island Wind Farm and its underwater transmission system — management stated in a press release.


An Exhaustive Study of Offshore Wind Power’s Environmental Impacts and Power Production Potential

Dozens of experts were employed in carrying out the 3 years worth of environmental and engineering studies that went into producing Deepwater Wind’s final federal and state permit applications. Among others, included were biologists and ecologists with expertise in avian, marine mammal, and fish species and habitats, along with wetland scientists; marine archaeologists; electrical, civil, structural, acoustic, and marine engineers; architects; and statisticians. Deepwater Wind is majority-owned by New York’s D.E. Shaw with Boston’s First Wind owning a minority interest.

Exhaustive data were gathered using planes, ocean-going survey vessels, and remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) on the sea floor. For three years, the company also used "a high-tech avian radar system"on Block Island to collect data on bird populations, breeding, and feeding grounds and waters, as well as travel and migratory habits.

Field investigations were conducted on the island itself, as well as on the mainland coast. All of these efforts build on a groundbreaking data collection effort carried out by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council in producing the Ocean Special Area Management Plan, Deepwater Wind noted.

"We're excited to share our findings," said Deepwater Wind CEO William M. Moore. "The filing of our permit applications represents a significant milestone toward development of the groundbreaking Block Island Wind Farm."

The Block Island Wind Farm is the first of a string of offshore wind farms Deepwater Wind plans to build off the U.S. Atlantic coast, CEO Moore told Reuters in an interview published Oct. 3.

A Stepping Stone to 1,000 MW of East Coast Offshore Wind Power

On management’s planning board are three other offshore wind power projects with a total rated capacity of 1,000 MW, each able to produce clean, renewable power sufficient to meet the needs of some 350,000 homes. The smaller Block Island Wind Farm is viewed as a stepping stone that will provide data and results very useful in carrying out the larger scale projects.

“With Block Island we are gaining real-time information on what it will cost to build the bigger project. That is a huge competitive advantage as we look to transition to the 1,000-MW (Deepwater Wind Energy Center) we are hoping to build in federal waters,” Moore told Reuters.

Management is hoping to be awarded the federal lease for the project, sited in Rhode Island Sound, south of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, in the 2013′s first quarter. Projected to cost more than $4 billion, the project will require 150-200 offshore wind turbines. They’re to be connected via cables to onshore power stations linked to both New England and New York.

“By being tied into two grids, we avoid the business risk of a single-point interconnection, and we get to move energy other than our wind power over the lines,” Reuters quoted Moore.

Supplying clean, renewable power to New York and New England falls right into line with regional efforts to completely revamp the region’s energy mix and infrastructure, a policy strategy centered on employing new renewable and clean energy sources. Pursuing such a strategy addresses a range of critical challenges faced by states across the region — notably, sustainable economic and job growth, as well as the need to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce environmental and ecosystems degradation.

Deepwater Wind has proposed building Hudson Canyon, a 1,000-MW offshore wind farm in Atlantic waters south of New York City. The clean, renewable electricity produced would go a good way toward replacing the possible loss of power supply from the 2,065-MW Indian Point nuclear power plant in the Hudson River Valley, Reuters notes.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to shut Indian Point down when Entergy’s operating licenses leases for the nuclear power plant’s two reactors expire in 2013 and 2015. Entergy, for its part, is seeking new operating licenses from federal nuclear regulators that will keep the plant running for another 20 years.

The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Algae Biomass Production Moves toward Commercial Scale in Western Australia

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 03:31 AM PDT

Cleantech entrepreneurs worldwide are searching for methods and technologies that address sustainable development challenges at the food–water–energy nexus. Working toward commercializing research and development work begun at the University of California, Berkeley in 2006, Aurora Algae last week reached a milestone in its quest to develop a commercial-scale, algae-based biomass production facility at a pilot demonstration site in Karratha, Western Australia.

Cultivating a genetically-enhanced strain of common algae in six 1-acre (4,000-square meter) saltwater ponds, Aurora is consistently producing between 12-15 metric tons of algal biomass per month. The results are good enough for Aurora to meet the requirements for a AUD 2 million (US$1.96 million) Low Emissions Energy Development (LEED) grant, capital that’s being invested to further advance commercial-scale development.

Harnessing Algal Photosynthesis to Sustainably Produce Food, Fuel, Fertilizer and Bio-pharmaceuticals

How to produce food and fuel while minimizing water and natural resource use, greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other ecological and environmental degradation is a global challenge of magnitude sufficient enough to be included among the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), goals that all 193 UN member nations have pledged to achieve. It’s especially significant for those living in developing countries; who can’t rely on cheap, abundant water supplies, cheap fossil fuel energy, and increasingly expensive fertilizers and pesticides to produce the increasing amounts of food and materials required to meet the needs of growing and increasingly urban populations.

Aurora Algae’s team appears to be on track to developing a scalable, sustainable means of food, nutrition, bio-pharmaceutic, fuel, and fertilizer production that makes use of a minimal amount of freshwater. Moreover, Aurora is actually using carbon dioxide (CO2) as a feedstock to promote algal growth. Adding yet further to the potential benefits and attractions, the process and system is particularly well suited for use in arid and semi-arid desert and dryland areas where water, food, and natural resource availability tends to be lowest. These areas are also among the most sensitive and vulnerable to the negative consequences of climate change.

Aurora Algae’s pilot demonstration facility essentially works along the lines of a giant-sized photsynthetic organism. Algae in the saltwater ponds take up the abundant sunlight available in the region, along with carbon dioxide (CO2), to biologically manufacture a wide range of useful products.

The demonstration algae biomass production facility yields essential protein and Omega-3 fatty acids for food products, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and aquaculture, as well as fertilizer and biodiesel fuel that can be used for transport, power generation, and heating and cooling.

Results to date seem spectacular. Aurora’s pilot algae biomass production system yields 38 times as much usable protein and 10 times as much oil while using less than 1% of the freshwater required per unit land area to produce the equivalent amount of soybeans, VP of business development Leslie van der Meulen and director of corporate marketing Paul Brunato were quoted as saying in a recent Global Warming is Real interview.

Having reached the stage where it has qualified for the Australian government LEED grant, Aurora management is now set on taking the next step to proving that the method and technology is capable of being expanded to commercial scale.

"Aurora Algae plans to break ground in Maitland in 2014 for an expanded commercial facility consisting of 100 hectares (250 acres) of algae ponds, capable of producing up to 600 metric tons of biomass per month, and scalable to 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres)," managing director Matthew Caspari, stated in a press release. "LEED funding for the pilot program has been critical to the success of the project and our ability to expand in Western Australia."

Gamesa Sending 30 MW of Wind Turbines to Italy

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 03:30 AM PDT

One of the global leaders in the wind energy market, Gamesa, will be supplying new wind turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW to a new wind farm that Eolica Erchie is developing in Italy.

This order is the first that Gamesa has signed with Toshiba Europe T&D (EPC Contractor worldwide). Located in the Province of Brindisi, in Puglia Region, the installation, which is expected to begin construction before the end of the year, will feature 15 G90-2.0 MW wind turbines.

“The wind farm will reach an annual production of 69 GWh, equivalent to about 12,900 tons of petroleum (TEP) per year and prevents the emission into the atmosphere of about 30,300 tonnes of CO2 annually.”

Gamesa is currently one of the leading suppliers of wind turbines in Italy, having installed over 1,506 MW since its beginning in that market in 2002.

Source: Gamesa Corp

Keeping an Eye on Cleantech Patents

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 03:21 AM PDT


Free stuff is awesome. But let’s face it, there’s usually a catch to ‘free’. Getting information on patents is free — the catch is that sorting through patents can be incredibly time consuming since — even just for cleantech, there are thousands of cleantech patents ever year.

Enter CleanTech PatentEdge, a monthly service that “sorts patent data in a nice online interface, features analytic tools, monthly updated results and enterprise sharing capabilities,” as Renewable Energy World reports.

This sorting can provide data to guide venture investment decisions in the cleantech patent world. The information CleanTech PatentEdge outlines can include data about competitors, companies with robust patent portfolios, the defensibility of patent portfolios, and elucidate cleantech patent trends in the market.

CleanTech PatentEdge costs $180 a month for individual users and $450 a month for three to five users.

Image: Kheng Guan Toh via Shutterstock

Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf September US Sales Move Upward

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 03:18 AM PDT


Image Credit: Shutterstock

The Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf had very strong US sales in September. The Volt, Chevy's electric vehicle (EV) with extended range, sold 2,851 units, helping to make September GM sales the best since 2008, according to Autoblog Green. A total of 210,245 GM vehicles were sold last month. September's Volt sales also just nudged August's, when 2,831 Volts were sold.

Meanwhile, September Nissan Leaf sales were up compared to August. The number of units sold for Nissan's EV were 984, up compared to 685 in August. This was actually quite similar to its September 2011 sales of 1,031.

Source: Autoblog Green

Blink Surpasses 1 Million Charge Events!

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 03:00 AM PDT

ECOtality Inc., one of the leading companies in electric vehicle transportation and storage technologies, yesterday announced that its Blink Chargers have surpassed one million EV residential charge events. ECOtality is the first company in the industry to reach this milestone.

“Through the data recorded on Blink chargers for The EV Project, we have clearly demonstrated the viability of this marketplace and continued l growth of EV’s across the nation,” said Ravi Brar, CEO of ECOtality, Inc. “Recording more than 1 million charge events is not only an iconic milestone for ECOtality, The EV Project and the industry, but is also proof that EVs are here to stay.”

Blink also recently surpassed another key milestone — “40 million miles of driver data recorded, and over 1.70 million gallons of gas saved. This number is up from the 880,000 charge events reported in the 2nd Quarter data ending June 30, 2012.”

The EV Project presents the data it collects on a quarterly basis.

Image Credit: ECOtality

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