Renewable Energy Update - August 14, 2013

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

The wind industry gets its groove back

GreenTech Media Headlines - Aug 7

Money is flowing back into wind after a first quarter hiatus stemming from policy uncertainty. The $210 million in venture capital investments in the second quarter of 2013 dwarfed the $16 million in venture capital funding over the first quarter of the year, according to Mercom Capital. Though the total wind sector investment of $3.5 billion in the second quarter, covering VC funding, debt financing, and announced project deals, did not match the nearly $5.5 billion invested in the same period in 2012, it was a strong showing for an off year. The venture capital money included a $135 million Goldman Sachs addition to its now $385 million backing for India project developer ReNew Power.

How much land does it take to produce solar energy for 1,000 homes?

Sustainable Business - Aug 14

How much land does it take to produce 1 gigawatt per hour of power a year, enough for 1,000 homes? Answer: about 32 acres of solar PV. That's one of many nifty facts in a National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) analysis of how much land is required for various kinds of solar technologies. Until now, lots of numbers have been thrown around about how much land is needed for solar, but now there are enough plants in operation to know for sure. Based on data from 72% of operating US solar plants, NREL researchers find that developers have been pretty accurate in their estimations.

Geothermal interest heats up in Modoc County

Klamath Herald News - Aug 8

Modoc County’s geothermal potential has been known for centuries but, aside from some commercial applications in Canby and Surprise Valley, little has been realized. Researchers with the University of California Davis’ California Geothermal Energy Collaborative and Geology Department want to learn more about how the county’s nascent geothermal energy can be used. Geothermal interest in Modoc County has accelerated partly because the state of California is requiring 33 percent of its energy be provided by renewable resources by 2020. Modoc was also targeted because of its rural economy and remoteness.

Price of wind energy in the U.S. near all-time low

REVE Wind News - Aug 7

Annual wind power additions in the U.S. achieved record levels in 2012, while wind energy pricing is near an all-time low, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Roughly 13.1 gigawatts of new wind power capacity were connected to the U.S. grid in 2012, well above the previous high in 2009, and motivated by the scheduled expiration of federal tax incentives at the end of 2012.

Newly available wind power often has no place to go

McClatchyDC - Aug 5

The windswept prairies of the Midwest are undergoing an energy transformation the electric grid can’t handle. Wind turbines tower over rural vistas in the heartland, where the clean energy source is becoming increasingly popular with utility companies that face state-mandated renewable energy standards. Unfortunately, the nation’s aging power grid is hampering those efforts.

EPA screens more than 66,000 contaminated sites for renewable energy potential

EPA National News - Aug 5

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated its RE-Powering Mapping and Screening Tool, which will now provide preliminary screening results for renewable energy potential at 66,000, up from 24,000, contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites across the country. The RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, started by the EPA in 2008, encourages development of renewable energy on potentially contaminated land, landfills, and mine sites when it is aligned with the community’s vision for the site.

Solar power across globe tops 100,000 megawatts

EarthTechling - Green Tech, Green Products & Energy News - Aug 3

The world installed 31,100 megawatts of solar photovoltaics in 2012, an all-time annual high that pushed global PV capacity above 100,000 megawatts. There is now enough PV operating to meet the household electricity needs of nearly 70 million people at the European level of use. While PV production has become increasingly concentrated in one country, China, the number of countries installing PV is growing rapidly. In 2006, only a handful of countries could boast solar capacity of 100 megawatts or more. Now 30 countries are on that list, which the International Energy Agency projects will more than double by 2018.

Geothermal power and its potential

EarthTechling - Green Tech, Green Products & Energy News - Aug 2

Geothermal energy is not an enticing new source of energy competing for attention with the ranks of distributed fuel cells, advanced solar PV, or next generation wind turbines — far from it. Geothermal has under-delivered on the promise because expectations have been high and returns unsatisfactorily low. The 2009 report from MIT titled, "The Future of Geothermal Energy," estimated that, on a conservative basis and with the development of “enhanced” geothermal systems, 280,000 exajoules (EJ) of domestic geothermal energy could be economically recoverable. With our total energy consumption in the United States hovering around 100 EJ per year, this is enough carbon-free energy to last for 2,800 years. Yet even with this much potential, the country remains at a staggeringly low 0.05 EJ of annual geothermal energy, with low market growth and no unified expansion plan.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Google - leading the way on renewable energy

The Guardian - Latest Financial and Economic News - Aug 5

More than any other tech company, or even corporation, Google has put its money where its mouth is when it comes to renewable energy. In three short years, Google has made more than $1 billion worth of direct investments in renewable energy. Starting in April 2010, Google invested $38.8 million in two wind farms in North Dakota, followed a couple of months later with a contract to buy power from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa. To date, Google has signed agreements to procure more than 260 megawatts of wind power for its data centers. Meanwhile, a 1.7-megawatt solar installation at Google's Mountain View campus, 40 miles south of San Francisco, generates enough electricity to power 30% of the buildings underneath it and should pay for itself by the end of this year.

Power towers drive solar-to-hydrogen scheme

EarthTechling - Green Tech, Green Products & Energy News - Aug 4

The latest idea for producing hydrogen efficiently and without emissions drawbacks uses the sun in a setup that looks a lot like the big power tower concentrating solar power plants that are nearing completion in the American Southwest. With a new discovery out of the University of Colorado Boulder, heat generated from the reflected light of thousands of mirrors pointed at the top of the tower is used to drive chemical reactions that split water into its oxygen and hydrogen components. “We have designed something here that is very different from other methods and frankly something that nobody thought was possible before,” research group leader Alan Weimer of the chemical and biological engineering department at Boulder said in a statement. “Splitting water with sunlight is the Holy Grail of a sustainable hydrogen economy.”


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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