Renewable Energy Update -- April 23, 2013

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

Weakest quarter for clean energy investment since 2009

Bloomberg - Apr 14

Global investment in clean energy in the first three months of 2013 was lower than in any quarter for the past four years, according to the latest figures from research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The first quarter investment figure for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy-smart technologies was $40.6bn, down 22% on the equivalent period of 2012 and 38% on the final quarter of last year. The decline reflected the effects of policy uncertainty in key clean energy markets such as the US and Germany, a lull in financings in some relatively buoyant markets such as China and Brazil – and also the effect on dollar investment levels of the recent, sharp declines in technology costs, particularly those of solar photovoltaic panels.

Lawsuit filed against wind energy project near Mojave Preserve

Rewire - Apr 18

The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have been sued over the recently-approved Searchlight Wind Project in southern Nevada, with plaintiffs charging that the federal government conducted an inadequate review of the project's likely effects on desert wildlife. The project, which would generate a maximum of 200 megawatts of electrical power, would place 87 turbines on almost 19,000 acres of public lands within view of the Mojave National Preserve and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Plaintiffs charge that the project, to be built by Duke Energy, would (in the words of the suit) "pose significant adverse harm to a wide array of sensitive and protected species ... including desert tortoise, golden eagles, bald eagles, and residential and migratory birds and bats... through direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts" which weren't adequately addressed in the project's final environmental impact statement, nor in FWS's Biological Opinion on the project.

Native American group drops Chevron solar project suit

Law360 (Subscription Required) - Apr 18

A Native American advocacy group on Thursday agreed to drop a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government's approval of 45-megawatt solar energy project that Chevron Energy Solutions proposed building on sacred land, after federal officials said the project fell through.

U.S. solar industry puts people to work in all 50 states

Renewable Energy World - Apr 18

According to The Solar Foundation's recently released interactive map, California has more solar workers than actors; more Texans work in solar than ranching; and the U.S. solar industry has more workers than the coal mining industry. Those findings and many more were discovered by The Solar Foundation as they put together comprehensive solar job data about all fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

How solar-friendly city permitting processes can work in the U.S.

Renewable Energy World - Apr 15

A new study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory puts some hard numbers to the benefits realized when U.S. cities streamline their solar PV permitting processes. Germany's residential solar adoption is attributed to friendly policies and incentives, but also friendly permitting processes. Meanwhile, in the U.S., "soft" costs amount for more than half of the installed price for residential solar PV systems in the US.

Is 70% renewable power possible? Portugal just did It for 3 months

ThinkProgress - Apr 14

Portugal’s electricity network operator announced that renewable energy supplied 70 percent of total consumption in the first quarter of this year. This increase was largely due to favorable weather conditions resulting in increased wind and water flow, as well as lower demand. Portuguese citizens are using less energy and using sources that never run out for the vast majority of what they do use.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

NextEra downsizes California solar project from world's largest

Bloomberg News - Apr 19

NextEra Energy Inc., the largest generator of U.S. solar energy, said a project in southern California that was expected to be the world’s biggest will be less than half its initially planned size. NextEra’s Blythe solar farm will be built in four phases totaling 485 megawatts of capacity, according to amended planning documents posted on the California Energy Commission’s website. It was initially proposed as a 1,000- megawatt project. NextEra is downsizing the project to streamline the permitting process and reduce its environmental impact, according to the filing. The capital cost may be as much as $1.13 billion.

SunPower Corp. building two Yolo County arrays

Sacramento Business Journal - Apr 16

Work has begun on two solar projects in Yolo County being developed by San Jose-based SunPower Corp. for Yolo County. Both projects are ground-mounted solar arrays. One of the arrays will be in Woodland at West Beamer and Cottonwood streets and the other is in Grassland Regional Park in Davis. Combined, the plants will generate 5.8 megawatts. The system is expected to generate $51 million in savings over the next quarter century.

GE Energy Financial ups investment in wind project

Monitor Daily - Apr 12

Enel Green Power, GE is investing common equity and supplying turbines for the 250-megawatt Buffalo Dunes Wind Project in Kansas. This transaction expands GE Energy Financial Services’ and Enel Green Power North America’s portfolio of co-owned wind projects.

EDF fully acquires 161 MW Spinning Spur II wind farm project

Penn Energy - Apr 16

EDF Renewable Energy, the US subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles, has exercised its option to acquire the remaining 49% interest in a 161 MW wind farm project from Cielo Wind Power, LP. EDF Renewable Energy now has full ownership of the Spinning Spur II project in Texas. The Spinning Spur II facility, which will be comprised of 87 General Electric wind turbines each with 1.85 MW in unit capacity, is located on a site of over 16 hectares in Oldham County. Construction is due to begin in June 2013, with commissioning slated for summer 2014.

Arizona's Somerton School District dedicates 1.6-megawatt solar energy project from Constellation

Your Renewable News - Apr 18

Constellation and the Somerton School District today announced the completion of an aggregate 1.6-megawatt (DC) solar generation project in Yuma County, Ariz. Located at five sites -- Desert Sonora Elementary School, Orange Grove Elementary School, Somerton Middle School, Tierra del Sol Elementary School and Valle del Encanto Learning Center -- the installations are expected to collectively generate enough electricity to meet approximately 60 percent of the schools’ electricity needs.


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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