Renewable Energy Update -- January 29, 2013

Renewable Energy Focus

Solar installations to grow more than 18 percent yearly through 2020

Biz Journal - Jan 18

The solar market globally is continuing to grow, and a new report says it will have a compound growth rate of 18.5 percent through 2020. ASDReports found the industry has grown from 7.3 gigawatts of installations in 2006 to more than 71.3 gigawatts in 2011, for a 57.3 percent annual growth rate. Total installs will be at nearly 330 gigawatts by 2020, the study says.

Solar REITs May Power the Industry Forward

Energy Digital - Jan 23

San Francisco startup Renewable Energy Trust Capital Inc. may become the first firm allowed to raise money for solar-powered projects, depending on a ruling from the US Internal Revenue Service to classify solar farms as property that is included in real estate investment trusts (REITs). REITs are a financial vehicle that has been used in $640 billion worth of US property ventures across the country, typically for developing commercial properties. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, 208 US REITs returned an average of 28 percent in 2012. Applying REITs towards photovoltaic power could significantly impact the industry.

U.S. Geothermal Inc. reports its development goals for 2013

Think Geo Energy News - Jan 22

Geothermal development company U.S. Geothermal Inc. just published a review on its 2012 activities and planned milestones moving forward thru 2013. During 2012, the Company’s management and operating teams were focused on improving operations at Raft River, Idaho and advancing both the San Emidio, Nevada and Neal Hot Springs, Oregon projects into commercial operations.

Scientists race to develop floating wind farms

DW World News - Jan 23

In order to take advantage of high wind speeds on the open seas, the race is on to create wind turbines and wind farms that float on the surface of the water. But, the jury is still out on which is the best method. Erecting a wind turbine in the middle of the ocean is a costly and time-consuming business. Most importantly, the structure must be anchored at the bottom of the sea to ensure its stability in the face of extreme wind and rough seas. The project is normally only feasible up to depths of 50 meters of water. But, a new generation of wind turbines no longer has that problem. Mounted on pontoons which are attached to the ocean floor by long steel cables, floating wind turbines are now the new trend in the renewable energy scene.

U.S. Establishes Renewable-Energy Zone on Public Land in Arizona

Bloomberg News - Jan 18

The U.S. identified about 192,000 acres of government-owned land in Arizona that are suitable for commercial-scale solar and wind farms. The agency also established the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, 2,550 acres in the state with strong sunlight and few resource conflicts that are well-suited for solar projects, according to a U.S. Interior Department statement. Agua Caliente is the third solar zone in Arizona and the 18th in the nation.

PG&E Approved to Buy Power From SolarReserve Project

Bloomberg News - Jan 24

PG&E Corp., the owner of California’s largest utility, received approval from regulators to buy power from a 150-megawatt solar-thermal project in the state’s Sonoran Desert, the first commercial-scale system in the state to include energy-storage capabilities. Closely held developer SolarReserve LLC will sell the output from its Rice project in Riverside County to PG&E’s Pacific Gas & Electric utility for 25 years beginning June 1, 2016, according to a filing with the California Public Utilities Commission.

Ormat Sees $230 Million Charge as Geothermal Plant Disappoints

Bloomberg News - Jan 23

Ormat Technologies Inc., a U.S. developer of geothermal energy, will record a charge of as much as $230 million because its North Brawley plant is producing about half as much power as expected. The impairment charge will be in the fourth quarter of 2012, resulting in a loss during the period and for the full year, the Reno, Nevada-based company said in a statement. The plant in southern California has been operating at capacities between 20 megawatts and 33 megawatts, which compares with its design capacity of 50 megawatts, Ormat said. Southern California Edison Co., the utility that buys the power produced by North Brawley, has refused to give Ormat permission to explore a replacement power purchase agreement with higher electricity prices, Ormat said.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Iberdrola Renewables Completes Three New Wind Farms

Electric Energy Online - Jan 23

Iberdrola Renewables added three new wind farms to its U.S. fleet at the end of 2012, adding to a portfolio of clean energy projects that now spans 19 states.

BrightSource, Edison cancel power deal

SF Gate - Jan 18

Edison International, the owner of California's second-largest electric utility, and BrightSource Energy Inc. canceled a power purchase agreement for a 200-megawatt solar-thermal project.

PUC approves $120M Statoil offshore wind project - will produce clean energy and jobs

Maine Insights - Jan 24

Statoil North America of Stamford, Connecticut, plans to deploy four 3-megawatt wind turbines on floating spar buoy structures in the Gulf of Maine off Boothbay Harbor at a water depth of approximately 460 feet. The Maine Public Utility Commission (PUC) has approved the terms of a project proposal by Norwegian energy giant Statoil to build a $120 million deepwater wind turbine demonstration project in the Gulf of Maine.

Infinity Wind acquires Kansas wind projects

Biz Journal - Jan 24

Infinity Wind Power, of California, has acquired wind energy projects in western Kansas that are capable of producing more than 1,500 megawatts of electricity once fully operational.

Duke Completes Battery Storage Project At Texas Wind Farm

ReNew Grid News - Jan 23

Duke Energy Renewables, part of Duke Energy's commercial businesses, has announced the completion of its 36 MW energy storage and power management system at its Notrees Windpower Project in West Texas. The system completed testing and became fully operational in December 2012.