Friday, December 14, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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China’s New Solar Target: 40 GW By 2015 (8 Times More Than Its Initial 5 GW Target)

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 04:58 PM PST

 
It’s been pretty astounding to watch China essentially double its 2015 solar target three times in the past year and a half or so. Each step of the way, what’s clear is that solar power keeps getting more and more competitive… fast.

solar energy investment china

Image Credit: China & solar panel via Shutterstock

Before this week, China’s latest 2015 solar target increase was in July, when the official target was brought up to 21 GW. Then, just a couple months later (in September), it was rumored that China was going to increase the target to 40 GW. Now, all the buzz is that’s finally happening.

Giles Parkinson of Renew Economy writes: “Talk out of China suggests that official bodies in that country are finally ready to lift their target for the deployment of solar to 40GW by 2015.”

He also cites this interesting stat: “Just 18 months ago, the 2015 target for 2015 was just 5GW. But more than that has been installed this year alone.” More than the initial target has been installed in 2012 alone. Pretty astounding, eh?

This is, for one, a sign of China’s tremendous focus on clean energy, as well as its tremendous overall economic and energy growth. But it’s also a sign that solar power has arrived. Solar has many benefits, and now that its price has dropped to a competitive rate in many places (and is still dropping), those benefits are catapulting it above competing options.

Here’s more from Giles on this week’s news:

“Deutsche Bank analysts noted that the updated forecast suggests that more than 10GW of solar will be installed in China in each of the next three years. Assuming that solar deployment will continue to increase rather than slow; that suggests a cumulative total of well over 100GW by 2020.

“On Tuesday, the government announced that the total amount of projects approved under the 2nd batch of its Golden Sun program was 2.8GW, well ahead of the 2GW expected, taking this year's allocation to 4.5GW.”

Another key point noted in the Renew Economy piece was that oversupply of solar modules and solar module components (especially in China), which is partly triggered by cuts in solar feed-in tariffs in Europe, is further stimulating solar-friendly policies and deployment in the world’s largest country.

With the 2015 target increased from 5 GW to 10 GW in June 2011, from 10 GW to 15 GW in December 2011, from 15 GW to 21 GW in July 2012, and now from 21 GW to 40 GW, does anyone want to make a prediction what the 2015 target will be when Summer 2013 rolls around?

Putting 40 GW Into Perspective

As I did back in July, why don’t we put the current 41 GW target into a bit of perspective. At the end of 2011, the top 5 countries for total installed solar PV power capacity (and their capacity) were:

  1. Germany — 24.7 GW
  2. Italy — 12.8 GW
  3. Japan — 4.9 GW
  4. Spain — 4.4 GW
  5. USA — 4.4 GW

 
In other words, 41 GW of solar power is really a big deal.


 
US solar installations at the end of Q3 already broke the US record for previous years. That record? Nearly 2 GW. In total, 2012 installations are expected to hit about 3.2 GW, and that will bring cumulative US solar capacity to over 7 GW. That sounded like a lot on Tuesday, but China’s expected 4.5 GW this year definitely raises the bar.

And what about China’s 2020 target, which was 20 GW back when its 2015 target was 5 GW? We’ll have to wait and see.

Before closing off with this good news, here’s one more thing to consider: the 2015 target is simply a target, with the country expecting to surpass the target by a good amount. Let’s hope those expectations just keep on increasing.

China’s New Solar Target: 40 GW By 2015 (8 Times More Than Its Initial 5 GW Target) was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Renewable Energy Consumption & Electricity Trends (2006–2010)

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 04:05 PM PST

 

Summary

U.S. renewable energy consumption grew by 6 percent, from 7.600 quadrillion Btu in 2009 to 8.090 quadrillion Btu in 2010. The relative share of renewable energy to total energy consumption has grown to 8 percent in 2010.

Of the major renewable fuel categories, biomass accounted for over half (53 percent) of total renewable energy consumption in 2010, while hydroelectric power accounted for nearly a third (31 percent). Wind was the source of 11 percent of total renewable energy consumption, and solar and geothermal combined contributed 5 percent.

Total renewable energy consumption rose by 490 trillion Btu in 2010. Each of the renewable fuels, except hydroelectric power, contributed to this growth. Consumption of hydroelectric power fell by 130 trillion Btu. Biomass consumption grew by 382 trillion Btu (primarily due to increased ethanol consumption), accounting for the bulk of the increase in total renewable energy consumption. Wind energy consumption had the second largest increase, up by 202 trillion Btu. Smaller increases occurred in the consumption of solar energy and geothermal energy, amounting to 28 trillion Btu and 8 trillion Btu, respectively. Although solar energy contributed relatively little in terms of the absolute increase in total renewable energy consumption in 2010, solar energy use exhibited the highest rate of growth of all the renewable fuel categories.

All end-use sectors exhibited increases in consumption of total renewable energy in 2010, but the electric power sector consumed the largest share. Electric power sector consumption accounted for about 50 percent of total renewable energy consumption, followed by the industrial sector, which accounted for 28 percent. Although hydroelectric power remains the dominant source of renewable energy consumption in the electric power sector, its market share has gradually declined over the last five years due to the precipitous increase in wind generation capacity coupled with relatively stagnant growth in hydroelectric generation capacity.

The transportation sector accounted for 13 percent of total renewable energy consumption in 2010, compared to 7 percent in 2006. Growth in biofuels (mainly ethanol) consumption has contributed to the transportation sector being the fastest-growing end-use sector in the last five years. Renewable energy consumption in the transportation sector has more than doubled between 2006 and 2010.

This article was originally published on the website of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Renewable Energy Consumption & Electricity Trends (2006–2010) was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Roma Cleanweb Hackathon

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 03:46 PM PST

 
Yep, I spent a lot of time this week on the Renewable Energy Big Pic for a group of renewable energy graduate students, and then even more time turning the presentation into two posts for CleanTechnica readers (Part 1 above, Part 2 here), so I’m just catching up on some of the great content produced by our sister sites and many other sites around the web. Here’s one more repost for the day, this one on yet another Cleanweb Hackathan, the Roma Cleanweb Hackathon:



Boungiorno! Roma Cleanweb Hackathon! (via Ecopreneurist)

The Roma Cleanweb Hackathon was recently held the weekend of Friday, November 30th through Sunday, December 2nd 2012.  Hosted by the Roma Tre University, the participating teams of developers, designers, and volunteer professionals were invited to create and present web/mobile applications which…



Roma Cleanweb Hackathon was originally published on: CleanTechnica

BMW — 40 Years Of Electric Vehicle History. Who Knew?

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 03:24 PM PST

 
If you asked me how long BMW had been in the electric vehicle game, I have to admit that I wouldn’t tell you 40 years. Here’s the intro to a Gas2 post with more info:

BMW And Its 40 Year History Of Electric Vehicles

While the BMW brand is better known for its luxury performance sedans than for its emissions-saving technologies, 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the first all-electric BMW. To celebrate, BMW has put out a brief primer on its EV efforts, starting way back in 1972 at the Munich Olympics.


The BMW 1602 EV debuted at the 1972 Munich Olympics with just 19 miles of range.

The Munich Olympics was BMW's chance to show to the world their response to the ongoing oil crisis in the Middle East. To wit, BMW's engineers developed the 1602 Electric using a 43 horsepower Bosch electric motor and 12 lead-acid batteries. Alas, with just 19 miles of range, even their limited use during the Olympics pushed the boundaries of the very limited range. Yet the battery pack was designed to be swapped out for a fresh one, an idea that is still on the table thanks to Project Better Place.

–> Read the full Gas2 post here.

BMW — 40 Years Of Electric Vehicle History. Who Knew? was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Mexico Wave Power Project Expands

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 02:42 PM PST

 
We’re big fans of wave power here on CleanTechnica, but it’s still a nascent technology, with big news items on the clean energy option few and far between. The Marersa wave power news below via sister site Blue Living Ideas looks pretty big, though.



Mexico’s Marersa Expands Its Wave Power Offerings (via Blue Living Ideas)

Maremotrices de Energias Renovables (Marersa) is expanding its wave power offerings. Currently, Marersa has a three megawatt plant at Rosarita in Baja California. They are looking to expand to Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, as well as building more wave power plants…



Mexico Wave Power Project Expands was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Re-Nuble Ain’t Your Average Startup

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 02:20 PM PST

 
Wait, is there really such thing as an “average” startup? Anyway… you may remember that we covered Re-Nuble a little over a month ago (super fun piece by Charis — worth checking out if you didn’t read it before). We’re also featuring the startup’s crowdfunding effort in our “Crowdfunding Spotlight” widget on the right. But figuring the company could use one more nudge, I thought I’d repost this interesting piece below on Re-Nuble from Jeff McIntire-Strasburg of sister site sustainablog. Check it out:



Re-Nuble: Integrating Business and Activism to Address Organic Waste (via sustainablog)

Those of us in the "saving the planet" business tend to get very focused when it comes to tactics. If we see the primary problems as political, for instance, then we view activism as the main tool for addressing it. If, however, we focus on technology and its impacts, we may scoff at the activist…



Re-Nuble Ain’t Your Average Startup was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Oroeco Rewards You For Personal Climate Action

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 02:09 PM PST

 
Here’s another cool cross-post from sister site Green Building Elements for you. This one shows how a Stanford, MIT, and UC Berkeley team are finding innovative ways to reward people for tackling climate change and extreme weather:



Silicon Valley Startup Rewards Personal Climate Action By Linking Spending Decisions and Greenhouse Gases (via Green Building Elements)

Team from Stanford, MIT and UC Berkeley tackles climate change and extreme weather by tracking the impacts from each dollar you spend Hurricane Sandy has thrust climate change back into the spotlight, and 72 percent of Americans now believe that extreme weather events like storms, floods, droughts…



Oroeco Rewards You For Personal Climate Action was originally published on: CleanTechnica

How To Build A Solar Concentrator For Solar Hot Water

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 01:58 PM PST

 
Been wanting to build a solar concentrator for solar hot water? Hey, why not? Well, a guest author on sister site Green Building Elements has some tips for you. Check them out:



Guest Post: How to Build a Solar Concentrator for Solar Hot Water (via Green Building Elements)

Blog writer James Vasanth has written to share his insights with  readers on the daunting DIY task of building a solar concentrator for solar hot water. He writes, "In this post, I'll discuss some key points including how to build your own 2-axis parabolic concentrator." Thanks, James. The "…



How To Build A Solar Concentrator For Solar Hot Water was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Microgrid Backbone Generation Assets, Part 1: Gen-Sets

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 12:45 PM PST

 
Editor’s Note: Here’s another great guest post from the crew over at Riverview Consulting. I’ve been wanting to get more coverage of microgrids on CleanTechnica, since microgrids are fascinating and increasingly useful (even GM is getting into the microgrid action), so I’m glad the excellent folks over at Riverview Consulting are tackling this and offering up their articles as reposts.

By JJ Augenbraun and the Riverview Consulting Team

Note: This is Part One of a three-part series that will address several options for backbone generation in a microgrid. This post will focus on generator sets, a traditional form of auxiliary power. The second and third parts of the series will focus on up-and-coming alternatives: microturbines and fuel cells.

Introduction

Last week a major blackout cut a wide swath across Cambridge, MA, where I live. As I left the bright lights of Boston and biked across the Longfellow Bridge on the way home from work, the transition to the darkness of Cambridge was quite stark. Other than the lights of the cars stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic caused by the disabled traffic lights, the streets were pitch black. Seeing Massachusetts Avenue in total darkness was eerie, and I was not looking forward to the possibility of a cold evening in my electrically heated apartment.

However, as I turned into my building's driveway, I saw the welcoming glow of lights from the building's windows and heard the deep rumble of two large diesel generator sets unobtrusively situated in the corner of the parking lot. Considering that I do not live in a luxury apartment building, I was a bit surprised by this unexpected amenity, and I am still trying to figure out why the management company spent money on providing full standby power for the ~120 units in the building. Grid power was restored after only a few hours, so the generators were somewhat unnecessary in this case, but it is nice to know the building has them.

A picture of a typical diesel gen-set. The engine and generator are housed inside a protective enclosure.

 

These types of generators, technically known as generator sets or gen-sets, are not only for emergency standby power. They can also be used as a form of backbone power generation for a microgrid. (In fact, so-called "wind-diesel" systems are common in many remote communities throughout the world from Mongolia to Alaska – see for instance this paper from NREL: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy02osti/31755.pdf)

We start with a brief overview of what a generator set is and how it works before delving more deeply into how a gen-set can be integrated with a microgrid. I will then provide a brief analysis of the main types of 100+ kW gen-sets (diesel, natural gas, and propane). This post, along with the two that will follow in this series, is intended to provide readers a starting point for understanding the tradeoffs among different backbone generation assets for a microgrid.

What is a Generator Set?

A gen-set at its most basic level consists of a prime mover connected to a generator. The prime mover (engine) converts the energy stored in fuel (fossil fuels like diesel, natural gas, propane, gasoline, coal or biomass like wood pellets or straw) into mechanical energy that turns the generator crank to produce electricity. As the load on the generator increases, more fuel is fed to the prime mover to match the supply of electricity with the demand for electricity. The concept behind a gen-set dates back to the early 1800s when Michael Faraday discovered the principle of electromagnetic generators that is now known as Faraday's Law.

The diagram below provides an excellent overview of the main components of a typical gen-set:

A diagram of the main components of a gen-set. Source: http://www.dieselserviceandsupply.com/How_Generators_Work.aspx

The vast majority of gen-sets installed around the world are "backup" generators used to supply power to a single building in the event of a grid failure. Most of these gen-sets are "dumb" in the sense that they do not interact with the grid and only run when the grid goes down, or when they are given their annual checkup. These standby gen-sets run for just a few hours per year, sitting idly by for the other 8,000+ hours per year. This represents an enormous asset (capital expenditure plus fuel inventory) sitting idle on institutional balance sheets – and unused even as "reserves" for the grid. As energy markets mature, these backup generators may evolve into valuable generation assets that can be monetized by their owners.

By incorporating a gen-set into a microgrid, the gen-set can interact with the grid and is no longer "dumb." This "smart" generation asset can now dynamically interact with the grid, ensuring higher electricity reliability for loads on the microgrid and also providing a source of revenue throughout the year by enabling participation in a variety of demand response programs.

Integrating a Gen-Set with a Microgrid

Every microgrid must be built on some form of backbone (or "baseload" or "dispatchable") generation capacity to ensure power is available when needed. Renewables like wind and solar are great, but they are not fully dispatchable. Batteries are dispatchable, but they are also very expensive at this time – it's much cheaper to store energy in a gas tank or a pipeline.

Therefore, most microgrids incorporate one of three forms of dispatchable generation: gen-set, microturbine, or fuel cells. As long as these units have access to fuel and are properly maintained, they can operate for many years (although as Hurricane Sandy reminded us, getting gasoline or diesel can sometimes be a challenge even in New York!).

Given the wide range of gen-set sizes (10 kW up to 1,000+ kW) and the relatively low upfront cost ($300-$600/kW installed), gen-sets are a popular choice for the backbone of a microgrid. One or more gen-sets can be incorporated into a microgrid as required to meet the expected load. These gen-sets can then be supplemented with renewable energy generation assets, and the (expensive) battery portion of the system can be reduced substantially. When renewable energy is available, the microgrid control software intelligently decreases the load on the gen-sets to allow for electricity from the more efficient forms of generation to flow.

Diesel vs. Natural Gas vs. Propane

Gen-sets in the ~100 kW size are most commonly fueled by one of three fuels: diesel, natural gas, or propane. However, for any gen-set larger than approximately 200 kW, the only real fuel choices are diesel and natural gas. Propane simply does not have the energy density (like diesel) or the extensive network of pipeline distribution (like natural gas) to make it an attractive choice for gen-sets much larger than ~150 kW. The frequency of fuel deliveries and the size of the fuel storage tank for gen-sets larger than ~150 kW would make such a gen-set a poor choice. However, for small standby gen-sets for individual homes, a propane gen-set is an excellent choice.

In deciding between a natural gas and a diesel gen-set there are several key factors that should be considered. First and foremost, is the availability of fuel. In some cases, natural gas is simply not an option because the site may not have access to a natural gas line. However, when natural gas is available, it will often provide a more secure and reliable source of fuel in the event of a regional natural disaster that may significantly disrupt road transportation and consequently the delivery of diesel. As we saw in Hurricane Sandy, the natural gas network suffered minimal disruption while diesel and gasoline supplies were significantly limited in certain portions of the Northeast. To provide extra reliability, a dual fuel gen-set could be used with natural gas as the primary fuel and diesel as a secondary fuel (with a limited amount of diesel stored on site in the event that natural gas delivery is disrupted).

A second factor to consider is the capital expenditure of the gen-set. Although each installation will vary in cost, a reasonable estimate for both natural gas and diesel gen-sets is in the $300 – $600/kW installed range for a gen-set of 100+ kW (based on data from this Department of Defense microgrid study). The difference in price for comparable natural gas and diesel gen-sets for a given site will likely be insignificant.

Third, operational expenditures (primarily fuel cost) should be considered. Based on a survey of the specifications for natural gas and diesel gen-sets, I created the following chart comparing the average cost of fuel per kWh:

A comparison of the fuel cost to generate a kWh of energy from diesel and natural gas based on a variety of fuel prices.

As the chart illustrates, the fuel cost per kWh for a natural gas gen-set is almost on par with the price of retail power! (Of course, this is not a full LCOE analysis, but that is beyond the scope of this blog post). Interestingly enough, the efficiency, defined as energy out divided by energy in, of an average diesel gen-set (33.5% efficient) is significantly higher than the efficiency of an average natural gas gen-set (25.0% efficient).

One should note that shale gas has caused the spot price for natural gas in the US to fall dramatically in the past two years (currently about $3.50/mCF). Regardless, enormous price movements on both sides would be required before the fuel cost of generating a kWh of energy from a natural gas gen-set would ever be equivalent to one from a diesel gen-set.

Conclusion

In many areas of the US, based on excellent fuel availability and low operating costs, a natural gas gen-set is the technology of choice to serve as a backbone generation asset for a microgrid. A natural gas gen-set also provides the added benefit of producing less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the next blog post, I will explore microturbines in the context of backbone generation for a microgrid and how they compare to using a natural gas gen-set.

Maybe the town of Cambridge, MA will put one in, and it will be easier for me to bike home next time there is a blackout!

If you have any questions about the topics discussed in this blog post or how Riverview can help your organization explore microgrid options, please send us an email: info@riverviewconsultinginc.com

-JJ Augenbraun and the Riverview Consulting Team

Microgrid Backbone Generation Assets, Part 1: Gen-Sets was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Magnetic Metamaterials Could Lead To Wireless Power Transmission

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 12:00 PM PST

 
The concept of transmitting electricity wirelessly to electric vehicles has dream-like advantages, and researchers from Spain say they have an idea that will make this a useful reality.

Magnetic shells shift and focus energy.

Probably the most idealistic dream related to such technology is that it would allow electric vehicles without energy storage systems. Electric vehicles without energy storage systems, such as trains, can be extremely fast, extremely efficient, and the cheapest overall, provided that the electricity transmission system is economical and efficient.

Electric vehicles without batteries would have an unparalleled power to weight ratio (their motors easily weigh less than 100 pounds). And their light weight would provide major handling and safety benefits. These benefits include shorter braking distance, lessened likelihood of rollovers, reduced likelihood of being rear-ended or rear-ending someone (since you will be better able to stop in time before slamming into the person in front of you). Another major benefit is the efficiency improvement gained from reduced weight. Weight is that important!

Finally, an advantage that isn’t weight related: the cost of replacing batteries would be eliminated.

Apart from that, wireless power transmission, even if short range, provides the benefit of charging short-range vehicle batteries along the road to extend their range.

The New Magnetic Metamaterial Concept

Physicists from Spain calculated that large amounts of energy can be transmitted via electromagnetism using certain materials.

The materials are called magnetic metamaterials. Metamaterials are artificial materials which are engineered to achieve certain properties that naturally occurring materials cannot achieve.

The effort to transmit electricity wirelessly goes back even to 1891, when Nikola Tesla transmitted it through the air using induction coils.

This concept builds upon the old concept of using electromagnetic induction to transmit electricity over short distances (in the same room).

According to Physics World:

“This is done using metamaterials with special optical properties that transform space in much the same way as the presence of mass deforms space – as described in Einstein's general theory of relativity.

“In the case of an invisibility cloak, electromagnetic waves can be made to move smoothly around an object, joining up on the other side as if the object wasn't there.”

New technologies usually have caveats, though:

“So far, so good – however there is one important caveat. Strictly speaking, the analysis only applies to static magnetic fields. To transfer the energy of an electric current by creating a magnetic field – and then extract the energy as an electric current at the other end – would involve a magnetic field that changes with time.”

We’ll see where this heads. Clearly, it’s still in a very early research phase.

Image Credit: Alvar Sanchez and colleagues

Magnetic Metamaterials Could Lead To Wireless Power Transmission was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Wind Tax Credit? AWEA Is Up For A 6-Year Phase-Out

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 07:53 AM PST

 
Here’s some big news from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) regarding the hugely important wind power production tax credit, which has stimulated a tremendous amount of wind power growth and job creation over the past several years:

Analysis: Six-year phase-out of wind energy Production Tax Credit would enable U.S. industry to become fully cost-competitive

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 12, 2012 – The American Wind Energy Association today described what a future phase-out of its primary federal incentive could look like, saying "we're already showing we're a leader in innovation. Now we're showing we're a leader in addressing the country's fiscal issues."

Denise Bode, AWEA's CEO, stressed that, "At the same time, our number one priority right now is not putting the wind industry over its own fiscal cliff.

"Congress must extend the wind energy Production Tax Credit for projects that start next year, to save an entire U.S. manufacturing sector and 37,000 jobs that we'll otherwise lose by early 2013. Specifically we urge Congress to extend the wind tax credit for all projects that commence construction in 2013, as adopted by the Senate Finance Committee on Aug. 2, on a bipartisan 19-5 vote."

The Production Tax Credit (PTC), a policy with long-standing bi-partisan support, has succeeded in incentivizing an average of $15.5 billion a year in private investment in U.S. wind farms over the past five years. It works by providing a tax credit of 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour once the electricity is generated, for the first 10 years that a U.S. wind farm is in operation.

Led by Members of Congress who worked to help build a domestic wind industry, to the benefit of local economies and energy customers, the PTC has become an American manufacturing and innovation success story.

The result of AWEA's analysis specifies that the tax credit would start at 100% of the current 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour for projects started in 2013, and be phased down to 90% of that value for projects placed in service in 2014; 80% in 2015; 70% in 2016; and 60% in both 2017 and 2018, ending after that.

Bode said the analysis indicates that would allow wind energy to establish a stable base market in the U.S. that the industry can build on, with further market and technology innovation. The process of developing it started last spring, included detailed economic analyses and high-level discussions with industry leaders, and culminated in approval by the AWEA Board of Directors.

"We began this process in order to be a part of the solution on our nation’s fiscal challenges, while creating needed stability for wind industry development, both of which are concerns for our industry. We wanted to take this head-on, as part of our patriotic duty as well as our duty to the industry." Bode said. "We completed the analysis, and this is what it identified as necessary for at least a minimally viable industry."

The resulting proposal is described in a letter that AWEA is sending to leaders on Capitol Hill today. It is addressed to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), ranking Republican on that committee; Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; and Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), ranking Democrat on that committee. Copied are House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi D-CA); and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The letter says in part, "The wind industry recognizes that our country is facing significant fiscal challenges and is supportive of all energy technology incentives being reviewed and even phased down when Congress considers tax reform. However, the PTC has supported the wind industry in its efforts to significantly reduce the cost of producing electricity, and its continued availability for a reasonable period of time will allow the industry to invest in the cost-saving technologies required to finish the job."

Bode said that the letter addresses separate parallel conversations that have been going on between the industry and Capitol Hill, about extending the PTC in the short term, and the vision for the long-term future of the PTC.

"With the policy certainty that accompanies a stable extension," the letter says, "the industry believes it can achieve the greater economies of scale and technology improvements that it needs to become cost-competitive without the PTC."

About the American Wind Energy Association
AWEA is the national trade association of America’s wind industry, with 2,000 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show, the WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, which takes place next in Chicago, May 5-8, 2013. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America. Look up information on wind energy at the AWEA website. Find insight on industry issues at AWEA’s blog Into the Wind. Join AWEA on Facebook. Follow AWEA on Twitter.

Wind Tax Credit? AWEA Is Up For A 6-Year Phase-Out was originally published on: CleanTechnica

We Built This! Offshore Wind Power Gets Big Bucks From Joe Public

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 06:54 AM PST

 
The U.S. Department of Energy has just issued a first round of funding to develop seven new demonstration offshore wind power projects in Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia. The initial grants of $4 million for each project will cover engineering, design, and permitting costs. If all goes well in Congress (nudge, nudge), after a review, only three will be chosen to receive an additional $47 million each, which will cover the costs of actually getting the turbines into the water. So, what do we get for all that dough?

new DOE grants for offshore wind power

Big Benefits from Offshore Wind Power

When you look at wind power in the context of the long-standing public subsidies for fossil, hydro, and nuclear energy production in the U.S., we get what we have always gotten: energy, and plenty of it, to power our restless economy and guarantee fuel for our restless armies.

The Department of Energy estimates that offshore wind resources alone could provide the U.S. market with more than 4,000 gigawatts (a gigawatt is one billion watts). That’s more than four times the energy production capacity we’re getting right now from all other sources combined.

Another foundational benefit of public support for energy production is direct economic activity, aka jobs. According to a new DOE offshore wind power study, the offshore wind industry alone could  account for up to 200,000 jobs and more than $70 billion in annual (yes, annual) investments by 2030. In that light, a few mil in seed money from the DOE is chump change.

On top of that, we can get our hands on those 4,000 gigawatts without blowing up mountains, poisoning water supplies, or putting rural communities at risk from oil pipeline ruptures. In terms of public energy investments, what’s there to hate?

Seven Cutting-Edge Offshore Wind Projects

Just yesterday we talked about a new $4 million “superwire” for offshore wind turbines under development by a research team at the University of Houston, which is expected to significantly increase wind turbine generator efficiency and lower the cost of wind power.

Along those lines, the seven new offshore wind power grants will go to a slate of projects that focus on another key aspect of offshore wind power design, the foundations that support the wind turbines.

  • Baryonyx Corporation of Texas will develop an advanced jacket foundation design as part of an integrated hurricane-resistant facility (a jacket foundation is similar to a lattice tower, but built under water).
  • Fishermen’s Atlantic City Windfarm of New Jersey is forging ahead, despite Hurricane Sandy, with an advanced foundation that accommodates a low-impact installation process.
  • Lake Erie Development Corporation of Ohio is working on a foundation design that can resist ice loading.
  • Principle Power of Washington State plans to site its turbines off the Oregon coast, using a construction method designed to reduce installation costs.
  • Statoil North America, a global company with operations in Connecticut will use floating buoys to support its wind turbines, as another cost-cutting strategy.
  • The University of Maine will build turbines on concrete semi-submersible foundations rather than using conventional steel foundations, also to cut costs.
  • Dominion Virginia Power will use advanced innovative “twisted jacket” foundations that cut costs by using less steel.

 
As a group, the seven projects will support a U.S. wind industry that is more cost-effective, creates minimal environmental impact, and absorbs natural disasters and worker safety into its business model.

The four “losing” projects, by the way, won’t necessarily disappear after the review period. They just won’t receive additional Department of Energy funding, at least not under the current schedule.

Image: Offshore wind power by Slaunger

Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey

We Built This! Offshore Wind Power Gets Big Bucks From Joe Public was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Electric Vehicle, Oil, & Wind Energy News (VIDEO)

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 06:21 AM PST

 
From one of our loyal readers, Mr. Energy Czar, here’s a good news wrap on some recent electric vehicle, oil, and wind energy news:

Electric Vehicle, Oil, & Wind Energy News (VIDEO) was originally published on: CleanTechnica

Solar PV Specialists Join To Provide Commercial PV Insurance, Warranty, O&M Services

Posted: 13 Dec 2012 05:01 AM PST

 
Specialty insurance provider Assurant, Inc. is teaming up with Solarrus Corp. and its full-service solar energy operations and maintenance subsidiary True South Renewables to reduce the uncertainty and risk associated with commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. This should come as welcome news for commerical PV project owners, given the string of bankruptcies and intense competition that continues to characterize the industry today.

The partner companies see mutual benefit in leveraging their respective expertise. Solarrus and True South Renewables will be able to take advantage of Assurant’s financial and risk management acumen, while Assurant will be able to tap into Solarrus’ engineering skills and technical knowledge "to reduce commercial-scale project risk, enhance project investment opportunities and better service customer needs," according to a joint press release.

Assuring Commercial PV Project Performance

True South Renewables’ experience in solar PV project operations and maintenance (O&M), in turn, affords Assurant access to "field service support for the warranty management component of its Assurant Solar Project Insurance product," which covers solar PV projects in the 100-kilowatt (kW) to 3-megawatt (MW) range.

The partners also intend to create an asset management program that allows "solar project owners to contract for technical, financial and operations management to optimize system performance and protect their investment."

As part of its O&M services, True South provides preventative, corrective and condition-based maintenance to ensure that solar array energy output is maximized so that revenue generation, in turn, is "consistent and ongoing."

"This unique arrangement brings together two industry innovators to meet the risk management needs of solar project developers," Solarrus chief executive Bill Klein stated in the press release.

"Our proven O&M practices and solid results in maintaining solar arrays help ensure projects across the country continue to perform and generate consistent energy output. Working with Assurant, we can help further strengthen the industry and solidify the operations and maintenance standards."

Assurant introduced its solar insurance product to the market in May. It includes liability and property coverage, as well as a warranty administration program, according to the specialty insurance provider. The solar PV project insurance and warranty package was developed in collaboration with solar PV developers, lenders, brokers, other service providers, and equipment manufacturers.

Photo Credit: True South Renewables

Solar PV Specialists Join To Provide Commercial PV Insurance, Warranty, O&M Services was originally published on: CleanTechnica

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