Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Link to CleanTechnica

7,200 MW Wind Project Beginning Development

Posted: 09 Oct 2012 12:00 AM PDT

One of the world’s largest wind power projects ever has now begun development. The East Anglia offshore wind farm planned off the coast of Britain will supply up to 7,200 MW of clean renewable energy to the British electrical grid.


The wind power company IBERDROLA has started the development together along with its joint-venture partner, Swedish company Vattenfall.

So far, contracts for the construction of two weather monitoring stations for the wind farm complex have been awarded to the Scottish company Woods construction for €23 million. The contracts cover the fabrication, installation, and operation of the two stations located on the coast of Suffolk and Norfolk, which are expected to be completed by next summer.

The two stations “will measure the wind speed and direction, as well as temperature and air pressure for an area bigger than Norfolk, which will enable key technical and engineering decisions for the wind farm to be taken. Once they come into operation they will be among the most technically advanced weather facilities in the United Kingdom.”

The recent contract award to Woods construction now brings total investment so far into the East Anglia offshore wind far to €62 million. For a project still in the development phase, that’s a lot — just goes to show the enormity of this project.

“The project has the potential to deliver 7,200MW of installed capacity, which is capable of generating enough clean green energy to power 5 million homes and will be one of the world's largest renewable energy projects.”

Iberdrola is planning to make offshore wind a large part of its future plans for growth, and is trying to become a leader in the development of this technology, which it has referred to as a potential second renewable-energy revolution.

“To achieve this goal, the Company's Offshore Business Division, based in Scotland and offices in London, Berlin and Paris is developing its offshore wind project pipeline of over 11,000 MW across Northern Europe.”

Iberdrola already has renewable energy operations in more than 23 countries, making it the world leader in both installed capacity, 14,100 MW at the end of June 2012, and in power output — over 16.9 billion kilowatt-hours were generated just in the first half of 2012.

Source: NewEnergyNews
Image Credits: Vattenfall, Ben Barden

Average Size of Solar in the United States: Small

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 05:02 PM PDT

It often seems like big progress on clean energy only comes in big pieces, but in solar power the sweet spot is small. The following infographic from ILSR shows that the average size of installed solar PV in the U.S. is just 34 kilowatts, enough to power about 7 homes.

This post originally appeared on ILSR's Energy Self-Reliant States blog.

SolarCity Moving Towards Initial Public Offering

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 04:56 PM PDT

Clean energy distribution company SolarCity announced late last week that it had filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to a proposed initial public offering (IPO) of its common stock.

SolarCity Moving Towards Initial Public OfferingThis early on, there are no numbers of shares to be offered or a price range for the offering, but it is known that SolarCity intends to list its common stock on the NASDAQ Global Market under the ticker symbol SCTY.

Goldman Sachs & Co., Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, and BofA Merrill Lynch will act as joint book-running managers for the offering. Needham & Company, LLC and Roth Capital Partners will act as co-managers.

A copy of the preliminary prospectus, when available, may be obtained from the following partners;

  • Goldman, Sachs & Co., 200 West Street, New York, New York 10282, Attention: Prospectus Department, by calling (866) 471-2526, or by e-mailing prospectus-ny@ny.email.gs.com
  • Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, One Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10014, Attention: Prospectus Department, or by telephone at 1-800-221-1037
  • BofA Merrill Lynch, 222 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10038, Attention: Prospectus Department, or by e-mailing dg.prospectus_requests@baml.com.

Source: SolarCity

Caltrain Modernisation Project Receives $40 Million

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 04:45 PM PDT

The California Transportation Commission voted late September to release $39.8 million in allocations for critical work to advance the Caltrain Modernisation Program, pushing Caltrain closer to full electrification. The funds pave the way towards a future blended system with California High Speed Rail.

"With today's vote by the CTC, Caltrain can continue on track to meeting its commitment to bring a cleaner, quieter, faster and/or more frequent service  to the corridor by 2019 and take more cars off the region's roads and highways," said Adrienne J. Tissier, chair of Caltrain's Joint Powers Board. "The advanced signal system will play a key role in improving the efficiency of the trains and will allow Caltrain to safely provide more service to more stations."

Caltrain Modernisation Project Receives $40 Million

The funding will be used to further design-work on Caltrain’s avanced signal system project that has been lovingly titled the Communications Based Overlay Signal System with Positive Train Control, or for those of you who like a snappy acronym, the CBOSS PTC (pronounced ce-boss-pe-tac — I may have made that up).

Cebosspetac is focused on safety, including the Positive Train Control (PTC), which prevents train-to-train collisions, enforces speed restrictions, and provides protection to workers on the right of way throughout the Caltrain system.

Pardon my terror at the present need for a system that prevents train-to-train collisions; surely that was something we dealt with decades ago, yes?

The advanced signal system will allow Caltrain to increase the number of trains they run per hour, an ever-present need as the number of riders increase.

"This is a turning point in the history of Caltrain. From this point forward, change will accelerate so that by 2019 we will have an ultra-modern, electric, train system to serve our 21st century economy,” said U.S Representative Jackie Speier (CA-12). “We need to invest in infrastructure like Caltrain to remain competitive globally. Without these types of changes, workers are stuck in traffic instead of inventing the next software program, and employers are stuck in limbo waiting for the freeways to clear.  I am very pleased that the federal government worked closely with Caltrain to make this project possible."

Source: Caltrain
Image Source: Bill Ward

Cleantech Open Sees Best of Midwest Cleantech Startups

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 04:42 PM PDT

The Cleantech Open bills itself as the largest cleantech accelerator. Its mission is to “find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today's most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges.”

Its North Central regional program, founded in 2010, will be holding its 2012 Innovation Expo & Awards event in Minneapolis on Thursday, October 18.

It will be highlighting the entrepreneurial trends across the Midwest, this year focusing on companies that address low-cost trends in the cleantech industry and address environmental and agricultural challenges oft-associated with the Midwest.

"There's currently a misconception that cleantech ventures are inherently cost intensive. In fact, the cleantech industry includes a tremendous diversity of business models, product technologies and capital requirements," said Justin Kaster, Co-Founder and Director of the North Central Region of Cleantech Open, headquartered in the CoCo Minneapolis collaborative working space in downtown Minneapolis.

"For instance, the cost of hardware and web services has declined dramatically in recent years, opening up opportunities for increased monitoring and analytics. Several of our startups are leveraging these capabilities to improve energy efficiency in everything from buildings to agricultural processes.”

The last four months have seen a group of 20 local startups working closely with the North Central region program, “honing their business models through in-person and virtual training programs with mentors like Steve Blank, and connecting with investors from across the country.” The 2012 North Central region companies are:

Barasa Wheaton, IL
Patented process for converting industrial organic waste into topsoil.

BioPetrol Ltd. Lino Lakes, MN
Synthetic oil production from municipal sewage sludge and other biosolids.

Dioxide Materials  Champaign, IL
Low cost CO2 sensors for monitoring building occupancy and adjusting energy usage.

IrriGreen Eden Prairie, MN
Landscape irrigation systems that cut installation time in half and water use by 50% through digital technology.

Material Mix Saint Louis, MO
Online exchange for the trade and recycling of industrial byproducts.

Real Time Ag La Motte, IA
Monitoring software to improve farming efficiency and reduce runoff.

Cocoa Chicago, IL
High-quality humus fertilizer reduces cost to farmers and pollution.

QuadROI Minneapolis, MN
Definitive source for cleantech financial data.

Comfort 3.0 Chicago, IL
Online tool for customizing home thermostat settings for comfort and savings.

LandMentor Golden Valley, MN
Software for designing sustainable communities.

Concept Catapult Indianapolis, IN
Internet crowdsourcing platform for cleantech startups.

Grainvalue Saint Paul, MN
Selective separation of corn grain to maximize utility and economic use.

Heatwave Solar Edina, MN
Manufacture of solar air-heating units that reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

Peppermint Energy Sioux Falls, SD
Personal solar power in a box.

Piezo PowerTech Detroit, MI
Wireless thermostat with predictive web analytics for existing HVAC.

SiNode Chicago, IL
Superior anode Technology for Li-ion Battery.

Switch Fargo, ND
Cost-effective, cloud-based platform for home energy use monitoring.

Direct Drive Energy Lowden, IA
Energy conservation and cost savings for idling trucks.

HEVT Chicago, IL
Advanced electric motor technologies.

JPODs, Inc. Saint Paul, MN
Solar-powered urban transportation networks.

These companies are set to be featured at the national Cleantech Open Global Forum "Academy Awards of Cleantech" on November 8-9. Before that rolls around, however, four of the startups will be chosen during the awards ceremony on October 18 to compete for the National Grand Prize, where the winner will receive a “startup-in-a-box” valued at $250,000.

Source: Cleantech Open

World’s Largest Wind Turbine Rotor Goes Online

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 04:31 PM PDT

Siemens Energy recently started testing its 154-meter rotor, the world's largest for wind turbines. The new rotor will be used for its 6-megawatt wind turbine in Denmark.

The SWT-6.0-154 will have the world's longest rotor blades, the Siemens news release noted. Each blade will have a length of 75 meters.

Siemens noted the turbines will be able to provide energy to about 6,000 homes.

The new 154-meter rotor for the six-megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine being installed in Østerild, Denmark. Image Credit: Siemens Energy

The company expects the new 154-meter rotors will be the standard for the offshore wind industry.

In May 2011, Siemens had originally used a prototype of a 6-MW turbine with a 120-meter rotor in Hovsore Denmark's test location because of concerns due to height restrictions.

Siemens’ gearless technology allows for a compact design, Siemens said. The efficient design and lower weight on the turbines will drop the overall costs and boost overall efficiency.

The key to the new turbine is the B75 blades. Thanks to its patented IntegralBlade, this will allow for best performance at various wind speeds, according to the company.

Comparing turbine blades the IntegralBlade to conventional wind turbine blades, the IntegralBlade is lighter, which will help cut wind energy costs.

“The start of field testing of the 154 m rotor for the 6-MW is an exciting step in the development of competitive technologies for the large offshore wind farms of the future," said CTO of the Wind Power Division in Siemens Energy Henrik Stiesdal.

“We incorporated our technological expertise gained over more than three decades into the development of both the gearless turbine and its 75-meter rotor blade," he said.

Meanwhile, the company this past July signed a contract with Danish energy company DONG energy for 300 of the same type of offshore wind turbines.

Siemens also plans to put two more prototypes of its SWT 6.0-MW turbine at Gunfleet Sands, a British offshore wind power plant. Both of the turbines are expect to have the 120-meter rotor.

Source: Siemens Energy

845 MW of Oregon Wind Power Going to California

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 04:23 PM PDT

An enormous wind farm in Oregon is now generating about 845 MW for California. The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm has 338 turbines from General Electric. Each is rated at 2.5 MW.


Shepherds Flat is one of the largest wind farms in the world. It is located in Eastern Oregon near Arlington, and has been estimated to benefit the local economy by about $16 million annually.

The cost for the GE2.5XL turbines and ten-year service agreement was about $1.4 billion, and the DOE provided a $1.3 billion loan. Google also invested in the project, to the tune of $100 million.

Power generated at Sheperds Flat will prevent about 1.5 million tons of CO2 from being added to the atmosphere each year. One estimate says that is the equivalent of CO2 from 260,000 passenger vehicles, each year.

About 400 jobs were created for the wind farm’s construction and 35-45 were added permanently to operate it. The facility became operational September 22. At that time, Senator Wyden remarked: “This project proves that we can create jobs and lift up the rural economy by generating clean, carbon-free, renewable energy while still allowing local ranchers to graze their herds on the surrounding land just as they have for generations. That’s why I fought so hard to make sure Shepherds Flat stayed on track, and why I’m proud to be standing here today.”

It’s very curious that stories of failure like Solyndra receive much attention in the mainstream media, but success stories like Sheperd Flats apparently don’t rate as highly on their radar. American wind power capacity has doubled since 2008, but where is all the press about this important and beneficial trend?

Image Credit: Energy.gov

German Baseload Power Cheaper than French 12 Months Running

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 09:48 AM PDT

The EEX (European Energy Exchange) recent report on September’s trading results showed that both peak-load and baseload day-ahead electricity prices in Germany and Austria are lower than that of Switzerland and France.

solar panels germany

Solar panels in Germany by Q-Cells

The EEX press release does mention that electricity prices converge (meet each other) 75% of the time. However, during periods of low power demand, the prices differences mentioned above come about. These low-demand periods are usually at night and on weekends. (Low demand and high supply causes electricity prices to drop in this kind of market.)

The average price difference in September was 4%. “The drop over the past 12 months in Germany has indeed been quite dramatic at around 18% – from 5.264 cents per kilowatt-hour in September 2011 to the current 4.467 cents last month.”

In other words, as Germany’s renewable energy has boomed, its electricity prices have dropped relative to those of its nuclear-heavy neighbors.

This news is especially important due to the fact that nuclear power, which provides about 75% of France’s electricity, is often touted as a particularly inexpensive source of baseload power (if it is from old nuclear power plants). But, that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

Also, renewable energy opponents repeatedly voice their concern about the cost impact of low-emissions power sources scaring away “industry.” Odd. The cost impact seems to be a beneficial one here.

Industry pays rates on the power exchange, which are determined by the most expensive electricity generators that need to be ramped up to meet demand. Over the past year, in particular, the tremendous growth of PV power plant usage in Germany, which increases peak power production considerably, has offset the demand for more expensive peak power, thereby bringing down spot market electricity prices.

Renewable energy growth has been tremendous in Germany, which has been pursuing it aggressively. As a matter of fact, solar power is much cheaper in Germany, largely due to the economies of scale they have achieved from to their large-scale adoption of it, and from lower “soft costs” and limited subsidies.

Source: Renewables International

Interview for CODE_n Blog

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 07:00 AM PDT

The folks over at CODE_n Blog recently asked to interview me about various cleantech matters. Below is the full interview (with some minor edits), reposted from the CODE_n Blog… blog and ZacharyShahan.com:

Zachary Shahan is the editor and director of CleanTechnica and Planetsave. CleanTechnica is the #1 site in the US for cleantech news and commentary, with a focus on solar energy, wind energy & other renewable energy sources.

Janina Benz: Why were you inspired to start reporting on cleantech?

Zachary Shahan: I've had a passion for protecting the environment we all live in since I was a teenager. Before blogging, I had worked to do my part to get us back on a sustainable societal track through the eco-friendly food industry, city/regional planning and bicycle advocacy. I fell into blogging very serendipitously after I saw an advertisement to blog for Green Options Media (now called Important Media) — I thought I'd primarily do it as a hobby at first. Once I got into it, I realized I could turn it into a full-time job. I initially started out writing on sites more focused on green living and environmental news, but then was channeled over to CleanTechnica, where I began my in-depth education in clean energy and other types of cleantech. My focus on that eventually took off due to it being such an important and fast-growing sector.

JB: What do you think is the most critical issue facing the cleantech industry today?

ZS: Quite simply, certain industries and politicians are lying about it. By any thorough, realistic evaluation, cleantech (such as wind energy, solar energy, and electric vehicles) is cheaper, better for the economy, and better for long-term life on this planet. It is simply rich industries threatened by this, and the politicians they support, that keep us from making a faster (and very needed) transition to a cleantech economy.

JB: Which new developments are you most excited about, and why?

ZS: Energy storage in general, but in particular home energy storage. There's a lot happening in this space, and when cheap energy storage (especially home energy storage) hits the market, clean energy, especially solar, is going to skyrocket (more than it already is). With or without governmental support, these are the solutions that address the important health, environmental, and climate costs of pollution from dirty energy.

I'm also quite excited about electric vehicles, even though I haven't owned a car in about 8 years and have no plan to own one again. And, of course, who isn't excited about solar power's tremendous growth?

JB: If you could give one piece of advice to a start-up entering the cleantech industry, what would it be?

ZS: It really depends on the start-up. But as a general piece of advice: really get to know the market you're thinking about getting into — get to know what's expected to come on the table in the next few years, and get to know where there really is substantial demand (your product might sound nice in theory, but is there a real demand for it?). And related to that, remain versatile! Things change, be prepared to change to fit society's (and your sector's) evolution.

JB: Generally speaking, do you think that people are getting more aware about cleantech solutions?

ZS: Yes, I definitely think people are getting more aware. But slowly and with many steps backward. Nowadays, people's knowledge about cleantech is better, and with its rapid growth, people are seeing that it's not only better in the long run; it's better and completely realistic and viable right now. Several cleantech sectors are growing like weeds. People see that. They see the jobs being created. They see the transition to clean energy and more energy-efficient products. They see it. But not everyone. And there are a lot of lies put out there (especially from certain media agencies — ahem, Fox News, Wall Street Journal — and politicians). And those lies genuinely confuse large portions of the public.

So, yes, people are getting more aware, but not everyone, and not as much as I think we need, which is why I'm in the business of trying to better educate as many people as possible!

JB: Thanks for your time!

Note: Views and opinions expressed in this interview are the author's do not necessarily represent those of GFT or CODE_n.

Romney’s Bain Capital Not Nearly as Good as Federal Government at Picking Winners & Losers

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 06:55 AM PDT

The following is a post mostly written by one of our wonderful CleanTechnica readers, with minor changes and additions by me.

Romney has complained about the government picking winners and losers (which it’s actually doing quite well at, with a failure rate of ~1.4%, not 50%, despite what Romney says).

But let’s take a quick look at how well Romney and his solely-owned company Bain Capital has done in that regard….

Out of 77 companies in which Bain Capital invested other people’s money, 33 either failed or produced no earnings. That, my friends, is a 43% failure rate.

Out of 77 companies in which Romney invested, only 10 were really good investments. 70% of Bain’s earnings came from these 10 companies. And that, my friends, is only a 13% success rate.

Of course Romney/Bain made money from the failed companies as well. They stripped money out of those companies, money that should have gone to the people who actually put up the money. But that’s how vultures operate, by grabbing parts of rotting carcass.

Would the Romney administration do better than the Obama administration in advancing American industry, creating jobs, and investing in long-term winners? I think not.

h/t Hullabaloo

Tea Party Leaders vs Clean Energy in Arizona

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 06:35 AM PDT

There are numerous important clean energy battles going on in states around the US in this year’s political elections. One big battleground state is Arizona. Here’s an intro on the issue from David Roberts of Grist:

“National politics, with all its sturm und gaffe, tends to suck up all the attention. But there are several state fights going on that could have huge effects on the future of clean energy. A while back I highlighted the impending vote over Michigan's renewable energy standard. Now let's have a look at Arizona.

“This post will get into some detail, so for those with short attention spans, here's the take-home: Arizona has unbounded potential for solar and a rapidly growing solar industry, but it's also got a government recently overrun by corrupt right-wingers. This year, the unbounded potential clashes with the corrupt right-wingery in the form of elections to an extremely important state commission that you've never heard of. At stake: whether Arizona will continue its dramatic solar expansion.

“Got that? OK, let's walk through it.”

To “walk through it” in more detail, head on over to: Clean energy showdown in Arizona.

Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive Is Out & About (sort of)

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 06:30 AM PDT

This is a beauty of an electric vehicle. Even if you aren’t a car person, I think you’ve got to admire this one:

Video: 740 Horsepower Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive Laps Ascari Circuit (via Gas 2.0)

Electric vehicles have come a long way in a short time, and automakers are quickly realizing that there is a well-to-do market for zero emissions performance cars. The 740 horsepower, $537,000 Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive is among the vanguard of electric supercars, and now there is footage is this…

Crowdfunding Can & Will Increase Clean Energy Development & Deployment

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 06:27 AM PDT

Two of society’s hottest solutions to a myriad of international (and national) problems are clean energy and crowdfunding. So, why not combine the two? Well, you aren’t the only one to think about this — read on:

Crowdfunding Can and WILL Boost Clean Energy (via Ecopreneurist)

There has been a lot of recent buzz about both crowdfunding and clean energy. Crowdfunding as the way startups are created in the near future and clean energy as the sustainable method for perpetual energy sufficiency.  When brought together, these two could create powerful momentum, which would propel…

North America’s Largest Passive House? Le Belvédère

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 06:18 AM PDT

Energy-efficient building design is key to a greener, more sustainable future. And passive house design is a great way to achieve that much-needed energy efficiency. Here’s a building looking to lead North America in this regard (Le Belvédère):

Le Belvédère: Targets to be North America’s Largest Passive House (via Green Building Elements)

Passive houses, when designed correctly, represent sustainable works of distinction. That appears to be the case with Le Belvédère Special Events Center in Wakefield, Quebec. Homesol, an energy design company and energy evaluator, is targeting passive house certification. Here's why: With capacity…

Federally Funded Green Projects Doing Quite Well

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 06:13 AM PDT

Why attack federal programs that are succeeding? Why attack American companies, industry leaders that got support from our federal government, for no clear purpose? Really, why do it? Here’s another good post on cleantech successes currently under attack by some top politicians:

Federally Funded Green Energy Projects – Not Such A Failure After All (via Gas 2.0)

And they are off! This election year is heating up with the first Presidential Debate now behind us. One of the big issues is the failure of Obama's green energy projects. To the Republican's the supposed green energy failure is a prime target for wasted spending by the government in hard economic…

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