Renewable Energy Update -- April 10, 2012

by Allen Matkins
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Renewable Energy Focus

8minutenergy Renewables gets approval for world's largest solar farm

PR Web / 8minutenergy Renewables - Apr 4

8minutenergy Renewables announced that the Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved its utility-scale solar PV projects underway in the Imperial Valley. The approval received support from the Sierra Club, Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council. 8minutenergy's solar generation plant, currently the largest in the world, will be built in three phases and produce a total of up to 600MW of solar power. The Mount Signal Solar project is a 200MW utility-scale solar generation facility slated to begin delivery in mid-2013. Calexico Solar Farms I & II are two large utility-scale PV power plants that will produce 200MW each by 2014.

Wind turbine work carries on as tax credit nears end

Bloomberg - Mar 30

Wind farm developers installed 6,810MW of turbines in the U.S. in 2011, 31% more than in 2010, as they rushed to qualify for an expiring U.S. tax grants. The biggest tax credit for wind power is due to end Dec. 31. If it is allowed to lapse, installations of turbines in the U.S. may fall as much as 95% to 500MW in 2013 from 2012, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Two energy companies sue SCE over failed wind turbine projects

Contra Costa Times - Mar 30

Two energy companies sued SCE and a group of business people for their alleged roles in a failed multimillion-dollar wind turbine project near Tehachapi, Calif. Helo Energy and Saugatuck Energy sued SCE in Los Angeles County Superior Court, along with two other companies and four individuals. The companies say they purchased 300 acres in Kern County for $9 million, but were unable to build the wind turbines. They alleged intentional deceit, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract from SCE, citing what they claim were exaggerated estimates of the land's potential wind strength and allegedly false data that had actually been calculated for other projects.

U.S. gets first offshore wind turbine

SustainableBusiness.com - Apr 2

Spain's Gamesa Corp. will be the first to plant an offshore wind turbine in the ocean off the U.S. east coast. It will install a 5MW prototype wind turbine three miles off the Virginia coast in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Testing should begin by late 2013.

Solar Trust seeks bankruptcy protection in Delaware

Canadian Business / AP - Apr 2

A California solar energy company that was unable to meet a deadline for a DOE loan guarantee in 2011 has sought bankruptcy protection in Delaware. Solar Trust of America's Chapter 11 filing listed assets between $1 million and $10 million, and liabilities between $50 million and $100 million. The filing comes amid the ongoing controversy surrounding Solyndra.

Related News: 
Solar Trust of America bankruptcy casts shadow on Blythe project
California border town loses "thousands" of jobs after solar firm files for bankruptcy
California city takes solar firm's bankruptcy in stride
Collapse of German solar companies threaten California's big solar projects

Nuclear failure in California could be a big test for solar

Greentech Media - Mar 30

Solar has suddenly become much more important in Southern California because of the outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. SDG&E could lose 15-20% of its base load electricity. "SDG&E, along with the California transmission system operator and Southern California Edison, are working together right now on contingency planning for the possibility that those two large units could be offline this summer," said an SDG&E spokesperson. SDG&E will bring its new 500 kV Sunrise Powerlink transmission line into service in early summer. Designed to deliver 1,000 MW of regional solar and wind that are not yet in service, Sunrise will carry extra fossil generation this summer -- if it is available.

NPD Solarbuzz: Global PV market grows 146% in Q1 2012

Solar Server - Apr 2

NPD Solarbuzz released a report which estimates that global aggregate solar photovoltaic markets grew 146% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2012, driven by policy uncertainties in Europe. The report estimates that this will lead to an increase in PV shipments in 2012 over 2011 levels, despite projecting 38% year-over-year fall in fourth quarter 2012 revenues to $22 billion. NPD Solarbuzz also predicts that European, North American and Japanese PV manufacturing will fall modestly from 22% of production in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 21% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Geothermal energy industry sees steady growth

Geothermal Energy Association - Apr 3

The U.S. geothermal industry continued its steady growth by adding approximately 91MW of capacity in the past year, according to an annual update on the industry from the Geothermal Energy Association. The Annual U.S. Geothermal Power Production and Development Report shows that the industry currently has 3,187MW of installed capacity, significantly outpacing every other country in the world. Currently, geothermal electric power generation is occurring in eight U.S. states, while an additional seven states have geothermal capacity in development. California ranks first in overall installed capacity with 2,615MW already online, and it has nearly 2,000MW of capacity in development. However, Nevada has 59 projects currently in development, which more than any other state.

Related News:
California leads way as U.S. geothermal adds 2011 capacity

DOE to revitalize a renewable energy loan guarantee program

New York Times - Apr 5

Six months after the expiration of a federal loan guarantee program that backed $16 billion in loans to solar, wind and geothermal energy projects, the DOE has decided to offer a smaller set of similar guarantees by tapping another pot of money appropriated by Congress in 2011. Under the other program, which was passed as part of the 2009 stimulus legislation, about three dozen companies that had applied for loan guarantees were told that they would not receive guarantees because the department had been unable to finish reviewing their applications before the program expired on Sep. 30, 2011. Now, the DOE is saying that those companies can reapply under a loan guarantee program established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that is still in force.

Calico Solar permitting bill advances

Desert Dispatch - Apr 1

A bill to allow the Calico Solar project to receive state approval to change the type of solar panels it will use is moving closer to passing the state Legislature in Sacramento. AB 1073 passed the state Senate and will now head to the Assembly. Under a bill Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2011, SB 226, the CEC can authorize changes to approved projects, rather than requiring the projects to go through local authorities. But projects challenged in court, even if the case was dismissed, were not eligible. Environmental groups filed suit in federal court aiming to derail the project.


Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Terra Firma buys 150MW California wind farm

Recharge - Apr 2

Terra Firma's EverPower Wind Holdings is acquiring Alta Wind VI, a wind farm in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area scheduled to be fully operational by the second half of 2012. The project has a 24-year contract to sell power to SCE and is part of Terra-Gen's Alta Wind Energy Center, among the largest wind projects in the world. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Renewable Resources gets final EIR for 650MW SunPower solar plant

Greentech Media - Apr 2

The final Environmental Impact Review (EIR) for the Renewable Resources Group's (RRG) 650MW Antelope Valley Solar (AVS) project has been approved. The project still requires the "various, normal building and construction permits," RRG principal Tom Eisenhauer said, but "the final EIR is certified and the conditional use permit the project needed was approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors…and by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission." SunPower will "oversee" construction, he said, but responsibility for engineering, procurement and construction has not been delegated. Nevertheless, AVS is on track to break ground, as scheduled, in early 2013, Eisenhauer said.

IID introduces renewable energy procurement policy

Imperial Valley Press - Apr 3 The Imperial Irrigation District released its draft renewable energy procurement policy that includes a detailed enforcement program and procurement plan to fulfill California's Renewable Portfolio Standard. It establishes three compliance periods and targets aimed to enforce progress in achieving the renewable energy mandate: 20% by 2013; 25% by 2016; and 33% by 2020. The IID has acquired 12% renewable energy resources to date toward meeting the first milestone. A resource mix of small hydro, solar, biogas and geothermal energy is slated to be online by the end of the first compliance period and generating green energy for IID. The utility district is also in negotiations for additional resources that include geothermal and biomass energy.

William R. Devine
Partner
Land Use | Real Estate | Energy & Cleantech | Environmental & Natural Resources | Water Rights & Resources
Orange County
(949) 851-5412
(949) 553-8354 (fax)

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Emily L. Murray
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Energy & Cleantech | Land Use | Litigation | Environmental & Natural Resources | Telecommunications
Los Angeles
(213) 955-5584
(213) 620-8816 (fax)

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Patrick A. Perry
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Land Use | Energy & Cleantech | Telecommunications | Real Estate | Infrastructure
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(213) 955-5504
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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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