Renewable Energy Update -- May 3, 2013

Renewable Energy Focus

National Renewable Energy Laboratory helps U.S. Navy cut energy usage

EarthTechling - Green Tech, Green Products & Energy News - Apr 25

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is doing its part to help provide energy security and reduce energy costs for the military as an energy advisor to DoD and, in this case, the U.S. Navy. DoD accounts for 80% of federal energy use, and it spent $19.4 billion on energy in 2011. NREL is currently focused on helping slash the 21% of DoD energy costs that are spent to operate DoD installations around the world.

New battery design could help solar and wind power the grid

U.S. Department of Energy - Press Releases - Apr 24

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have designed a low-cost, long-life “flow” battery that could enable solar and wind energy to become major suppliers to the electrical grid. Their new flow battery uses a simplified, less-expensive design than other batteries, which may improve its scalability and cost-effectiveness. In laboratory tests, it also demonstrated excellent energy-storage performance through the equivalent of more than 5 ½ years of daily charge and discharge cycles.

Renewables tapping partnership tax plan backed by big oil

Bloomberg News - Apr 23

Renewable energy companies moved a step closer to accessing a tax financing structure that’s worth more than $350 billion as the American Petroleum Institute said it would back Congressional plans to expand the program. Allowing wind farms and solar-power plants to organize under a corporate structure known as master-limited partnerships would help wean them from federal subsidies, Jack Gerard, president of the oil industry’s main lobby group, said today at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit. MLPs already offer tax breaks to fossil-fuel producers and pipeline companies. MLPs let companies raise funds like a corporation and pay taxes as a partnership. They are traded on public exchanges and the market value of U.S. MLPs exceeds $350 billion, according to data on Delaware Senator Chris Coons’ website.

Vestas and GE tied for wind energy market share

Biz Journal - Energy & Environment News - Apr 19

Vestas Wind Systems, a Danish wind turbine maker with four Colorado manufacturing plants, virtually tied General Electric Co. in terms of global wind energy market share in 2012 in a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, based in London. The two companies have been neck and neck in various reports in recent years. Only 50 megawatts worth of newly installed turbines separated the two global companies in 2012, according to a story from Bloomberg Businessweek.

California power facing biggest test since Enron

Bloomberg News - Apr 19

California may face the biggest regional power shortages in more than a decade this summer, sending wholesale prices higher, as idled nuclear reactors and low hydroelectric output cut generating capacity. The California Independent System Operator Corp. said last month that managing the state grid, especially in parts of Southern California, will prove “difficult” because the system will be operating without Edison International (EIX)’s San Onofre nuclear power plant and two natural gas-fired units, while hydroelectric output will be at a three-year low. The nuclear plant, California’s single largest source of baseload power, accounts for 3.7 percent of the state’s capacity.

Bonneville Power Administration proposes to share oversupply sosts

North American Wind Power - Apr 19

Following cost-allocation recommendations from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has released a revised proposal to share the costs of oversupply among customers using its transmission system, including hydropower and wind energy generators. BPA says each user, including BPA Power Services, would bear its proportionate share of the costs based on its level of use. In 2011, BPA curtailed approximately 97.5 MWh of generation, including 350 MW of wind power, during a period of hydropower oversupply. BPA's policy at that time, called Environmental Redispatch, did not include a mechanism to reimburse generators for the cost of displacement, and FERC ruled in December 2011 that the BPA’s actions unduly discriminated against wind energy.

California's cap-and-trade program with Quebec will begin next year

North American Wind Power - Apr 22

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has set Jan. 1, 2014, as the date to officially link the state's cap-and-trade program with that of the Canadian Province of Quebec. California and Quebec have worked together over the past four years to develop their respective cap-and-trade programs to provide for potential linkage. According to CARB, the linkage agreement provides an opportunity to closely monitor and fine-tune these first two programs, setting the stage for similar arrangements with other jurisdictions that are committed to reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs).

NC House panel halts renewable energy law repeal

Penn Energy - Renewables - Apr 25

House Republicans helped sink a bill pushed by one of their own leaders that would have scaled back and later repealed requirements that North Carolina electric companies generate a set portion of power through efficiencies and alternative sources. The House Public Utilities Committee, on an 18-13 vote, defeated a motion that would have phased out a landmark 2007 law and end the requirements by 2021.

Tax break for wind energy sweeps forward in Nebraska legislature

Omaha Herald Ag Net - Apr 25

Nebraska would be poised to gain a $300 million wind farm under a bill given resounding initial approval Wednesday. The measure would provide a sales tax exemption for the purchase of turbines, towers, and other wind-farm components — a tax break that nearby states Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma have parlayed into a wind-energy boom. Meanwhile, Nebraska has lagged behind, ranking 26th of the 39 states that generate wind energy, despite having the fourth-best wind resources in the country.

Boulder wants more wind power, and wants it now

Penn Energy - Renewables - Apr 25

Earlier this year, the residents of Boulder, Colorado moved forward with a plan to break away from their current electricity company, Xcel Energy, in order to establish a new municipal utility. The goal is for the city to provide its utility customers with more wind power and other forms of clean energy. In the latest development, just last week the Boulder City Council voted to move ahead with the final steps.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

ABB to buy Californian solar energy firm Power-One for $1bn

Clean Technology Business Review News - Apr 22

ABB, a Switzerland-based engineering firm, has plans to acquire Power-One, a US-based solar energy firm for $1bn. The transaction, expected to be completed after the summer, will have to be approved by shareholders, reports BBC.co.uk. The firm manufactures inverters, which transform the direct current produced by solar cells into the alternating current required by electricity grids.

Chevron to build solar farm near Hawaii refinery

Biz Journal - Energy & Environment News - Apr 23

Chevron Technology Venture is planning to build a solar photovoltaic system facility on 4.5 acres of land that its parent company, Chevron USA Inc., owns in Hawaii and sell renewable energy from the development to Hawaiian Electric Co. through its feed-in tariff or FIT program. The San Ramon, California-based company is managing the project for Chevron Corp. Hawaii.

Wind-energy company sets sights on Oregon coast

The Statesman Journal Outdoor - Apr 20

A Washington company intends to moor five wind turbines off the Oregon coast, and hopes the project dovetails with a separate proposal for liquefied natural gas. The Coos Bay World reports that reluctant fishermen on the southern Oregon coast agreed after six months to support Seattle-based Principle Power's plans for a 30-megawatt wind energy flotilla off the waters of Coos Bay.

Google floats renewable energy data center plan

Refinr - Apr 19

Google has spent more than $1 billion in solar and wind energy projects but it ultimately has no control over the fuel that produces the electricity that powers its data centers. Google today is proposing a new tariff to buy renewable energy directly from utilities, a model it hopes will help scale renewable energy for data centers and other big energy consumers. At its Lenore, North Carolina data center, Google today is announcing plans to spend $600 million to expand there, which is on top of the $600 million it has already spent. In tandem with the event, local power provider Duke Energy says it will submit a renewable energy tariff to the state utility commission within 90 days. The tariff would allow large power consumers, such as the many data centers in North Carolina, to buy renewable energy from specific projects in the area.

SoloPower Plant Closing, Mere Months After Opening

EarthTechling - Green Tech, Green Products & Energy News - Apr 23

Mere months after SoloPower, the maker of cutting-edge solar panels, opened a manufacturing plant in Portland, Oregon, backed at all levels of government, it is suspending operations. The Oregonian newspaper broke the news on Monday after catching wind of a plant-closing notice that SoloPower had delivered to the state workforce development agency. SoloPower won state and local loans and tax credits valued around $35 million with the promise of annually spooling out, eventually, 400 megawatts of lightweight and flexible PV panels perfect for commercial and industrial rooftops unable to handle standard hard panels and racks. That production level was going to translate to 450 employees, according to plans.