Renewable Energy Update -- August 16, 2012

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

The Real Deal on U.S. Subsidies: Fossil’s $72B, Renewable Energy’s $12B

GreenTech GridTech News - Aug 3

Between 2002 and 2008, renewable energy garnered $12.2 billion in government support, with $6 billion in direct spending and $6.2 billion in tax breaks, according to data from the Environmental Law Institute. Fossil fuels raked in $70.2 billion in the same time, $16.3 billion directly and $53.9 billion in tax breaks — all while oil companies have been recording massive, record profits. Meanwhile, corn ethanol, a fuel that survives on federal subsidies, brought in $11 billion in tax breaks and $5 billion in direct spending between 2002 and 2008.

We Can’t Wait: Obama Administration Announces Seven Major Renewable Energy Infrastructure Projects that Would Power 1.5 million Homes to be Expedited

White House Press Release - Aug 7

As a part of his We Can’t Wait initiative, President Obama announced that seven nationally and regionally significant solar and wind energy projects will be expedited, including projects in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Wyoming. Together, these job-creating infrastructure projects would produce nearly 5,000 megawatts of clean energy – enough to power approximately 1.5 million homes, and support the President’s all-of-the-above strategy to expand American made energy.

U.S. Renewable Energy Potential

Energy and Capital - Aug 3

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has published a report exploring domestic potential for renewable energy production and capacity. The report explored solar, wind, bio, thermal, and hydro power solutions. It concluded that overall, the total technical annual generation potential is roughly 481,800 terawatt-hours, while total technical cumulative capacity potential is around 212,224 gigawatts, Greentech Media reports. To put this in perspective, aggregate generation across the nation was 3,754 terawatt-hours in 2010.

Solar, wind power get Pentagon boost

SF Gate - Aug 6

The U.S. Defense Department will encourage companies to build solar power plants and wind farms on 16 million acres of open land surrounding military bases, making each base less dependent on the nation's aging electricity grid. A study the Defense Department released this year found that the lands surrounding four military installations in Southern California alone could generate seven gigawatts of solar energy, equivalent to the output of seven nuclear reactors.

New US Navy Electric Trucks Sport Solar Panels

EarthTechling - Aug 6

The US Navy has invested in 36 new slow moving electric trucks and cargo vans in Hawaii that are mounted with solar panels to help further cut fuel costs.

NREL Joins Global Alliance of Solar Research Institutes

Solar Thermal Magazine - Aug 4

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has joined the newly-formed Global Alliance of Solar Energy Research Institutes comprising three internationally renowned research institutions. The goal of the Global Alliance of Solar Energy Research Institutes is to accelerate progress toward shared solar research and development goals as well as to ensure sustainable long-term use of solar energy.

New State Law Raises the Cap on Solar Energy Net Metering Program

Solar Thermal Magazine - Aug 3

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the 2012 Energy Act on August 3. Among other provisions, this comprehensive energy bill raises the cap on an important solar program called “net metering.” Solar advocates applauded the new net metering law, which will keep Massachusetts’ impressive solar growth on track and clear the way for the state to meet its renewable energy goals.

SolarWorld plans $27M in upgrades in Hillsboro

Portland Business Journal - Aug 6

SolarWorld on Monday said it plans to invest $27 million in its Hillsboro factory with upgrades aimed at improving the performance of its solar panels. The new investment will push SolarWorld's total investment in Oregon past $600 million, and marks the fifth anniversary since the German solar panel-maker turned a vacated semiconductor plant into North America's biggest solar panel manufacturing plant.

Suntech Accused Of Misleading Investors In 2 Suits

Law360 - Aug 3

Solar energy company Suntech Power Holdings Co. was hit with two putative shareholder class actions in California federal court recently alleging the Chinese manufacturer misled investors about the terms of an investment fund and government bond deal.

Wind Hits 50 Gigawatts in the US

Green Tech Solar News - Aug 8

Opening his fifth annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) brought a few friends to announce that U.S. wind’s installed capacity had reached 50,000 megawatts. Reid gave a passionate opening address affirming his commitment to fighting global climate change by building renewables. He condemned climate change deniers and subsidies for big oil, and called for closing down coal in Nevada. In conjunction with the summit, Reid announced Nevada’s first wind installation on public land, Pattern Energy’s 151.8 megawatt Spring Valley Wind Project.

Wind Power Co. Announces Closures Day After Senator Reid's Clean Energy Summit

Forbes News - Aug 8

Talk about timing. The day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held his annual Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, wind power manufacturer DMI Industries said it will close two of its wind tower factories by the end of the year, laying off a combined 384 workers in Oklahoma.

Idaho Power defends proposal to curtail wind in times of low demand

National Wind Watch - Aug 9

Idaho Power did not take all of the power produced by a wind plant last spring in times of low power use on its system, an executive testified before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission last week. Tessia Park, Idaho Power director of load-serving operations, acknowledged that Idaho Power curtailed the power from Rockland Wind’s turbines for more than 35 hours, which reduced the amount of revenue the wind farm made.

Statoil Seeks U.S. Lease for Floating Wind Farm Off Maine Coast

Bloomberg News - Aug 9

Statoil ASA, Norway’s state-controlled oil company, is seeking permission to build a wind farm with floating turbines off the U.S. Atlantic coast. Statoil requested a commercial lease for its Hywind Maine project, which will have four turbines with 12 megawatts of capacity about 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) from shore, the U.S. Interior Department said in a statement. The agency has awarded only one commercial lease for offshore wind development, for the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts’s Nantucket Sound, which has been in development for a decade and hasn’t begun construction. The Obama administration is seeking to accelerate the review of renewable-energy projects on the outer continental shelf and is considering proposals for offshore wind farms in 16 states on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, all using standard turbines.

Wind energy development stalls in ‘bottleneck’ of New Mexico

National Wind Watch - Aug 5

New Mexico’s gusty eastern plains could produce electricity for millions of homes, but a transmission bottleneck has slowed wind-farm development to a crawl. “New Mexico has substantial ability to develop and produce renewable energy, but the local market is small, and we need transmission lines to get that electricity to markets in other states that need it,” said Jeremy Turner, executive director of New Mexico’s Renewable Energy Transmission Authority. “It’s a real bottleneck.”

N.C. wind projects stalled; buyers, activists blamed

The Virginian-Pilot News - Aug 3

Three large wind-energy projects in North Carolina that promised jobs and electricity for thousands of homes have stalled, facing hurdles ranging from a lack of power purchasers to migrating swans. Though it was proposed more than a year ago, Invenergy has yet to apply for a state permit for its Hales Lake project of more than 100 turbines in Camden and Currituck counties. In Beaufort County, the Pantego project, consisting of 49 turbines, is on indefinite hold as further studies are done on migrating swans and geese. In Pasquotank County, the biggest of the projects - Atlantic Wind LLC's 150-turbine farm - has yet to begin construction because the company is waiting to find a buyer of the electricity it would produce.

Supervisors approve East County wind turbines

National Wind Watch - Aug 9

Two major energy projects slated for eastern San Diego County were approved last week by the Board of Supervisors. The board granted permits to the Tule Wind Power Project, which consists of up to 128 wind turbines on 725 acres in McCain Valley, and transmission lines that would carry power generated by wind turbines in Baja California to a San Diego Gas & Electric substation near Jacumba. Both were approved despite strong opposition from Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

Are Volcanos the New Source of Geothermal Energy?

Energy Digital - Aug 7

Here's a scary thought: scientists are testing the idea of pumping water into the sides of a dormant volcano in Oregon at pressures great enough to evoke small earthquakes. Why? Apparently, the boiling bowels beneath our feet hold tremendous promise for geothermal energy. According to a report MIT submitted to the Department of Energy, two percent of the heat some six miles below the ground could provide 2,500 times as much energy as the country currently uses.

U.S. Geothermal reports on progress of Neal Hot Springs project

Think Geo Energy News - Aug 8

Geothermal developer U.S. Geothermal Inc. reports on the construction work for the company’s new 22 net megawatt, air cooled power plant at Neal Hot Springs, located in Malheur County, Oregon, and the newly completed 8.6 net MW, water cooled power plant at San Emidio Unit I located in Washoe County, Nevada. Construction work at the Neal Hot Springs power project is approximately 93 percent complete and is scheduled to achieve a commercial operation date in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

UTC Sells Wind Power Unit To Finance $18.4B Goodrich Buy

Law360 - Aug 7

Aerospace technology company United Technologies Corp. has sold its wind-power technology unit to Los Angeles-based private equity firm Platinum Equity LLC as part of its efforts to finance its $18.4 billion purchase of aerospace company Goodrich Corp.

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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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