Renewable Energy Update -- July 24, 2013

by Allen Matkins
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Renewable Energy Focus

Finally there's evidence that we're embracing energy innovation

Earth2Tech Blog - Jul 25

Two recent energy policy moves are evidence that policymakers are finally starting to figure out the need to part with old paradigms – and the right way to encourage innovation. At the end of last month, President Obama announced an energy plan that included sweeping initiatives to manage carbon emissions, accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, and strengthen energy efficiency goals. That announcement came on the heels of a motion issued a few weeks earlier by California Public Utility Commissioner Carla J. Peterman that set energy storage procurement targets for the state’s investor owned electric utilities.

U.S. Senate confirms Gina McCarthy as EPA administrator

Solar Server News - Jul 18

On July 18, the U.S. Senate confirmed Gina McCarthy as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a 59-40 vote, following 136 days of delays by the opposition Republican Party and an intervention by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). McCarthy is expected to oversee the creation of greenhouse gas regulations for U.S. power plants, as a policy initiative she has been involved in since before she joined the EPA in 2009. The Solar Energy Industries Association had praised President Obama's appointment of McCarthy and applauded her confirmation.

Wind energy research moves to a higher level

Sustainable Business.com - Jul 17

A new testing lab for wind technologies is the first to examine how wind turbines interact on a wind farm. The SWiFT facility (Scaled Wind Farm Technology) is open for business at the Reese Technology Center in Lubbock, Texas. A collaboration between the Department of Energy's Sandia National Labs and Texas Tech University, the goal for SWiFT is to facilitate rapid, cost-efficient testing and development of transformative wind energy technology, with specific emphasis on improving wind plant performance.

Federal agencies want Cape Wind project approval upheld

Offshore Wind - Jul 15

A Washington federal court has been urged by several federal agencies to discharge the claims filed against the Cape Wind project, since the agencies had complied with all relevant laws in their reviews and approval of the project, the Law360 news site writes. The U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say that their decision to approve the Cape Wind project was not subjective or capricious, as the complainants claim. The complaint against the agencies was filed by several groups opposing the offshore wind project, including the town of Barnstable and Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

Wind power making a difference in Alaska

Alaska Business Monthly - Jul 17

Before the end of the year, energy generated by wind turbines will make significant new contributions to electrical grids in communities and villages across the state. The renewable energy generated provides, in part, an answer to issues regarding diesel fuel costs and potential natural gas supply shortages that have plagued power providers in recent years. Utility scale wind farm projects in south central Alaska and the interior will garner most of the attention this summer, but they are by no means the only places where wind is making a difference in energy production. In Kotzebue and on Kodiak Island, local utilities are adding new turbines to already existing wind farms.

1-gigawatt wind farm proposed for South Dakota

Electric Power and Light News - Jul 18

Dakota Power Community Wind is planning to build a 1-gigawatt wind energy project in Lincoln County, South Dakota. The group is working with Dakota Plains Energy to develop the wind farm, according to reports. The project would require transmission infrastructure to bring its power to market, as well as the necessary regulatory approvals and environmental surveys. A 1-gigawatt wind energy project would be able to power 300,000 average U.S. homes. Project developers pointed out that the wind project could make use of the planned Rock Island Clean Line transmission project slated for completion in 2018. The transmission line is designed to be 500 miles long and deliver 3,500 megawatts of electricity between Iowa and the Eastern U.S. The wind farm would have a footprint of as much as 75,000 acres.

Despite massive potential, California is lagging behind in offshore wind

Smart Brief - Wind Energy - Jul 15

Despite a reputation as a clean-energy pioneer and its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, California is lagging behind Maine and countries such as China and Scotland in developing offshore wind resources, writes David Helvarg, executive director of conservation group Blue Frontier. To catch up, California could begin by designating certain areas along its coast as research and development zones for offshore wind technologies, Helvarg writes.

Wind power and this bird get along fine

EarthTechling - Green Tech, Green Products & Energy News - Jul 14

After studying the issue for seven years, Kansas State University researcher Brett Sandercock has determined that “we don’t have evidence for really strong effects of wind power on prairie chickens or their reproduction.” Sandercock said this was a bit of surprise because other studies have shown that oil and gas development does affect prairie chickens.

First Wind completes enclosures for endangered birds on Maui

Sustainable Business Oregon - National News - Jul 15

Boston-based First Wind has completed a habitat conservation plan that aims to protect endangered bird species near its Kaheawa Wind site on Maui. The point of having a habitat conservation plan is to “minimize and mitigate” any damaging effects the company’s wind projects might have had on the land. The Makamakaole Seabird Mitigation project is intended to protect Maui’s endangered bird species through two bird enclosures that will serve as safety havens. The first of the two bird enclosures finished this past week.

Solar energy: the new gold rush?

The Energy Collective - Jul 13

In our most recent "gold rush," the gold was microchips and computer code. Now we're on the verge of realizing a major new wealth generation opportunity. Call it the solar rush. Nationwide, solar energy is booming, and nowhere is it booming like California. Between 1999 and 2011, the number of rooftop solar arrays in our state grew from 500 to more than 50,000. Late last year, California's installed solar capacity surpassed 2 gigawatts, the equivalent of two large coal-fired power plants and almost a third of all the solar energy production capacity in the country. Of the United States' 120,000 solar jobs, a quarter are located in the Golden State.

U.S. ranchers round up the power of the sun

Renewable Energy World - Jul 16

Ranchers are herding more than sheep and cattle; they’re rounding up the power of the sun. Farmers too are harvesting the sun's rays to increase their energy independence and power their farming operations. In Cottonwood, California, rancher Bill Gibson installed solar panels to generate energy for his 1,000-acre ranch. Though a majority of the family’s power is derived from their 44 solar panels, the Gibsons are still connected to the grid through a PG&E receiver, which can provide backup power if needed. The solar energy is used to offset the Gibsons’ $250 monthly energy bill, which covers the air conditioning and general operations of the family ranch. Solar panels have been the most prominent way to produce on-farm renewable energy, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) On-Farm Energy Production Survey. While solar electric made the most sense when running utility lines was not feasible or too costly, today’s solar capabilities offer new prospects. “Distributed generation, backup in the case of utility grid outage, and net metering present further opportunities for grid-connected solar energy use in agricultural settings,” says the USDA.

Nevada PUC approves Duke project

Recharge News - Jul 16

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission has approved Duke Energy’s proposed Searchlight Wind project of up to 200 megawatts that would be located on federal lands administered by the U.S. Interior Department.

Georgia Power forced to adopt 525 megawatts more solar

PV-Magazine - Jul 15

Georgia’s Public Service Commission has accepted a motion to force utility Georgia Power to include an additional 525 megawatts of solar generation in its forward planning strategy. The agency has sought to ensure PPA payments will not drive up electricity rates.

NRG Solar's two solar photovoltaic facilities commence operations in California

Clean Technology Business Review News - Jul 15

NRG Solar, a subsidiary of U.S.-based NRG Energy, has commenced commercial operations at its two solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities in California. Earlier in 2013, the company acquired these solar PV projects, each with an installed capacity of 20 megawatts, from Recurrent Energy. The solar facilities are located in Lancaster, and Kings County. During the first year of operation, the projects will generate clean electricity, enough to power around 11,800 average U.S. homes annually.

Is fracking for enhanced geothermal systems the same as fracking for natural gas?

Renewable Energy World - Jul 16

The U.S. geothermal industry recently scored a big win when its first enhanced geothermal system (EGS) project went online in April. ORMAT was able to stimulate a previously unproductive well at its Desert Peak project with EGS technology — injecting fluid into a well to reopen cracks and create a resource reservoir — and found an additional 1.2 megawatts of capacity. Renewable energy experts applauded the project, dubbing it a "game-changer" and a "shining moment" for the industry. Though the project represents a breakthrough for EGS technology and the geothermal industry in general, EGS has come under fire, with opponents accusing it as being just as dangerous as oil or natural gas hydraulic stimulation, commonly known as fracking. While traditional geothermal energy is viewed as clean renewable energy, could EGS technology, with its similar "fracking methodology," coupled with its rocky past, come under the same intensive scrutiny as natural gas fracking?

Geothermal system at Colorado state capitol to go on line

Denver Post Green Business News - Jul 18

The new geothermal heating and cooling system at the Colorado state capitol building, consisting of water pumped from two wells drilled into the Arapahoe Aquifer more than 850 feet underground, is being brought on line this week and should bring hefty savings on utility bills for the Capitol, officials said Wednesday. The building, which opened in 1894, is the first state capitol to use a geothermal system to both heat and cool the building. Idaho's Capitol building is heated from an active geothermal hot spring. Governor John Hickenlooper said the project will make the Colorado Capitol "the first LEED-certified capitol building in the country."

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Xcel Energy to buy 400 megawatts of wind energy from Geronimo Energy

Electric Power and Light News - Jul 17

Geronimo Energy will sell 400 megawatts of wind power to Xcel Energy from a pair of wind farms. The utility holding company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota will buy the wind energy from Geronimo, which is also based in Minnesota, through two long-term power purchase agreements. The Courtney Wind Farm is a 200-megawatt plant in North Dakota. The project will use up to 125 wind turbines. The Odell Wind Farm is a 200-megawatt wind farm in Minnesota that will also use up to 125 turbines, according to Power Engineering.

Power REIT acquires land for 20-megawatt PV project in California

PV Tech News - Jul 18

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) are beginning to gain traction in the solar industry with the close last week of a transaction for approximately 100 acres of land that supports over 20 megawatts of utility-scale projects located near Fresno, California. REITS are often used in the real estate sector to raise capital to build commercial spaces like car parks, shopping centers, and office blocks. But due to the complex nature of financing and ownership models for solar projects and regulatory restrictions from the Internal Revenue Service, developers have struggled to tap into these capital structures. Power REIT, based in New York, acquired the land for $1.6 million with 25-year lease agreements with the solar developer. Payments will be $157,500 per annum when commercial operation begins in early 2014. Southern California Edison or Pacific Gas & Electric both have long-term power purchase agreements with the projects.

Long Island Power Authority wants another 100 megawatts of solar power

PV-Magazine - Jul 16

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has announced a second round of its Clean Solar Initiative to foster a further 100 megawatts of solar energy, with a focus on stressed areas of the Long Island grid. Clean Solar Initiative II (CSI-II) will encourage developers of 100-kilowatt to 2-megawatt sized schemes to bid against each other over the price they can offer clean energy for with the successful bidders selling energy to LIPA through a 20-year PPA.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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