Wind Power Sees Gain in U.S.

Wind power provided over two-thirds (68.41%) of new electrical generating capacity in October 2014 in the U.S. according to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report. Five wind farms came online during the month in Texas, Nebraska, Michigan, Kansas and Colorado. These projects added 574 MW of new capacity.

eiaIn addition, seven “units” of biomass (102 MW) and five units of solar (31 MW) came online accounting for 12.16% and 3.69% of new capacity respectively. The balance came from three units of natural gas (132 MW – 15.73%). Moreover, for the eighth time in the past ten months, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for the majority of new U.S. electrical generation brought into service. Natural gas took the lead in the other two months (April and August).

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.39 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.:

  • hydro- 8.44%
  • wind – 5.39%
  • biomass – 1.38%
  • solar – 0.85%
  • geothermal steam – 0.33%

“Congress is debating whether to renew the production tax credit for wind and other renewable energy sources,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The continued rapid growth of these technologies confirms that the PTC has proven to be a very sound investment.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative, the leading body in the field of renewable energy development in Israel, has announced the agenda for its 6th International Eilat-Eilot Green Energy Conference and Exhibition taking place on December 7-9, 2014 in Eilat, Israel. The Conference will begin with an opening address from Silvan Shalom, Minister of Energy and Water Resources in Israel, and a keynote address from Peter Littlewood, Director of Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, in the opening plenary session on Towards Sustainable Energy – The Next Stage.
  • China can increase its use of renewable energy from 13 to 26 percent by 2030, according to a new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The growth in renewable energy use would represent nearly a fourfold increase in the share of modern renewables between 2010 and 2030. The report, Renewable Energy Prospects: China, prepared by IRENA in association with the China National Renewable Energy Centre, also says China can expand renewables in the power sector from 20 to 40 per cent by 2030, making it the world’s largest renewable energy user.
  • SunEdison, Inc. and Renova Energia S.A. announced that they have created an exclusive joint venture to develop, own, and operate 1 gigawatt of utility scale solar photovoltaic (PV) energy project which will supply the Brazilian Regulated Electricity Market. Renova and SunEdison will each own a 50% stake in the joint venture. The venture plans to build and operate four utility scale solar power plants in Bahia State, Brazil, by 2017. The joint venture will install 106.9 megawatts of solar by 2017 as part of contracts awarded by the Brazilian Energy Commercialization Authority, Camara Comercializadora de Energia Electrica (CCEE).
  • 8minutenergy Renewables, LLC and Gestamp Solar have announced the signing of a 25-year contract to sell 30 megawatts-ac (40MW-dc) of clean, renewable solar energy from its Midway III Solar Farm project in Imperial County, Calif., to the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), which serves Imperial County. The two companies have a joint development agreement to develop the Midway III Solar Farm project.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Oleofuels 2015 conference will take place June 10-11, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. Oleofuels 2015 is the progression of ACI’s highly successful European Biodiesel series of events which ran from 2008-2013. The event will cover all fuels made from oils & fats including biodiesel, HVO & bio jet. A global perspective of these fuels will be a key focus. During the afternoon of Tuesday, June 9, 2015 a limited number of conference attendees will receive the opportunity to attend a site visit to Bunge’s plant in Mannheim, Germany.
  • Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) will recognize four organizations and two individuals for their role in building and shaping the market for renewable energy over the past year. The award recipients will be honored during the 2014 Green Power Leadership Awards ceremony held in conjunction with the Renewable Energy Markets 2014 conference taking place in Sacramento, CA from December 2–4, 2014. Green Power Market Development awards went to Apple Inc.; Mary Sotos, World Resources Institute (WRI); Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD); and White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The Leadership in Green Power Education was awarded to Puget Sound Energy, and the Green Power Leader of the Year was awarded to Robert Maddox, Sterling Planet.
  • The final program for Bio-Markets Asia that incorporates the dual summits – Biomass Supply Chain & BiofuelsWorld – is now available online. The event is being held January 27-29, 2015 in Jakarta. The summit will primarily focus on ‘Maximizing the Potential of the Green Feedstock for Export or Domestic Power’ and explore the potential of ‘Indonesia to Drive Growth’?
  • SunEdison, Inc. and TerraForm Power, Inc. have signed a definitive agreement to acquire First Wind. With the purchase, SunEdison acquires the leading independent wind development and asset management company and becomes the leading global renewable energy development company. The transaction also will accelerate the timing and enhance the visibility of SunEdison’s receipt of incentive distribution rights from TerraForm Power, and increase the value of SunEdison’s yieldco platform. The transaction is immediately accretive to TerraForm Power and is expected to deliver $72.5 million in unlevered cash available for distribution.

EPA Delays Final RFS Rules

epa-150The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a Notice of Delay today to be published in the Federal Register announcing they will not be finalizing the the 2014 applicable percentage of standards under the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) until next year.

“The proposed rule, issued in November 2013, generated a significant number of comments, particularly on the proposal’s ability to ensure continued progress toward achieving the law’s renewable fuel targets,” said the EPA statement. “Due to the delay in finalizing the standards for 2014, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, the agency intends to take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015. Looking forward, one of EPA’s objectives is to get back on the annual statutory timeline by addressing 2014, 2015, and 2016 standards in the next calendar year.”

“The proposal has generated significant comment and controversy, particularly about how volumes should be set in light of lower gasoline consumption than had been forecast at the time that the Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted, and whether and on what basis the statutory volumes should be waived. Most notably, commenters expressed concerns regarding the proposal’s ability to ensure continued progress towards achieving the volumes of renewable fuel targeted by the statute. EPA has been evaluating these issues in light of the purposes of the statute and the Administration’s commitment to the goals of the statute to increase the use of renewable fuels, particularly cellulosic biofuels, which will reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from the consumption of transportation fuels and diversify the nation’s fuel supply.

The agency will also be making modifications to the EPA Moderated Transaction System (EMTS) to endure that Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) generated in 2012 are valid for demonstrating compliance in 2013.

Sullivan Solar Shines with Technology

Sullivan Solar was one of the test partners for Google Glass and the first solar company to test the technology and its possible applications for the industry. From there, the company developed business app using the Intuit QuickBase platfrom. Now they are demonstrating their latest technology based in the cloud. Michael Chagala, director of information technology for Sullivan Power, presented their solution during the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“Today our QuickBase build is used by all departments. At the moment a sales lead comes into the system, it’s wrapped in a workflow,” said Chagala, “It’s assigned to the right person, tasks are created, milestones set triggers, and it progresses from one department to the next. What we didn’t realize until recently is just how agile this has made us. It’s common for me to make a change to someone’s workflow in real-time as they’re on the phone describing the problem to me.”

Michael Chagala Sullivan SolarChagala discussed ways the solar industry can utilize software and technology to build out their own company database workspace to increase efficiency and streamline processes within their company. The company utilized Sympo an official QuickBase Solution Provider, to assist with the heavy lifting of the company’s development of its business software program.

“In order to keep up with all of this new opportunity, solar companies need to have clear business processes and workflows in place for their entire customer lifecycle,” explained Emi Gwin, President at Sympo. “Working together, Sympo and Sullivan Solar Power have created a powerful operating system for the entire business on QuickBase, resulting in saved time, increased revenue and lightning fast growth.”

Sullivan Solar Power selected Intuit’s QuickBase platform to compliment the company’s intensive quality assurance and quality control processes that have built its rankings as an industry-leader. The ease of use and freedom to build out the program based on the company’s needs has provided the company the ability for 105 employees to work simultaneously on hundreds of projects, ranging from lead management to data analysis and accounting.

Sullivan Solar Power’s next project for business development applications are to incorporate the next iteration of its Google Glass app, “Our next version of the app will push and pull data from QuickBase using the QuickBase API,” added Chagala.

EIA Looks At Solar Tracking Variability

A recent Today in Energy published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), takes a look at the variability of solar energy output. Pointing out that while many companies have improved on the technologies (such as tilt) and know-how of installing solar panels to capture the most sun per day, output peaks around noon when the sun is at its highest. This can be a challenge as peak energy use often climaxes in late afternoon or early evening.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 11.27.23 AMDuring this time of day, west-facing PV panels have an advantage over south-facing panels, as they’re tilted towards the setting sun. EIA notes that higher PV output at this time of day is often beneficial to grid operators working to increase electric supply to balance high levels of demand, but customers generally will not see this benefit unless they are on time-of-use electric rates. For example, under net-metering arrangements, the financial benefit of these PV systems is based on the quantity of kilowatthours generated, regardless of the time of day.

While the EIA finds pros and cons of tilting solar panels, another option to best capture maximum sunlight is through tracking systems. Single-axis tracking systems are installed on tilted arrays, but they differ in that the tractors rotate the panels to follow the sun as it moves east to west, improving output in the early and late hours of daylight. Dual-axis tracking systems do this, too, while also modifying the tilt angle as the sun is lower or higher in the sky.

Looking at California as an example, tracking systems are less used. Thirty percent of the current solar capacity in the state was installed using single-axis tracking systems and only 4 percent use either dual-axis or a mix of tracking and fixed mounts. Ultimately, there will be a need for more systems to adopt this technology to maximum energy output.

ACCIONA Windpower to Supply IKEA Turbines

Apex Clean Energy has selected ACCIONA Windpower to provide wind turbines for its 165 MW Cameron Wind farm that will be purchased by IKEA upon completion. The Brownsville, Texas wind farm will feature the first U.S. installation of AW125/3000 turbines. Each turbine will have a rotor diameter of 125 meters and a 3 megawatt generator mounted on an 87.5 meter steel tower. The agreement includes the supply of 55 ACCIONA Windpower AW125/3000 turbines and a 20-year Full Service Warranty.

Acciona logo“ACCIONA and IKEA share the same commitment to a clean energy future, and we are proud that our innovative wind technology was selected to help IKEA meet its global sustainability goals. We are also pleased to collaborate with Apex Clean Energy, a prominent and respected wind energy company,” said Rafael Mateo, CEO of ACCIONA Energy.

ACCIONA plans to begin turbine deliveries in mid-2015, and the project is expected to reach commercial operation in late 2015. When completed. The project will be a key part of IKEA’s commitment to produce by 2020 as much renewable energy as the company consumes globally and will mark the single largest renewable energy investment made by the IKEA Group globally to date.

Mark Goodwin, Apex president, added, “We are very pleased to be working with ACCIONA on this important project. The Texas gulf coast has a very unique wind resource, and Cameron Wind will harness this power to provide clean, homegrown, affordable energy to the residents of South Texas.”

EEI Announces EV Initiatives

Earlier this week several key utility leaders met with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to discuss more wide-spread adoption of electric vehicles. During the discussions Edison Electric Institute (EEI) President Tom Kuhn announced two electric power industry initiatives to further commercialize electric transportation technologies. The first initiative is a commitment by more than 70 investor-owned electric utilities to devote at least five percent of their annual fleet acquisition budgets to the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and technologies. This represents an investment of approximately $50 million annually.

Chevy Volt at charging stationThe second program is a new Employee Adoption and Education Initiative to encourage its member utilities to participate in the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge and to help drive PEV adoption among utility employees. Additionally, EEI has agreed to serve as an ambassador to the Workplace Charging Challenge.

“We are pleased that the Administration recognizes the unprecedented effort and commitment by our industry to lead by example and to drive innovations in the electric transportation market,” said Kuhn. “Advancing plug-in electric vehicles and technologies is an industry priority, and we are proud to undertake our new initiative to encourage PEV adoption among our more than 500,000 employees. Through these combined efforts, we look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to build on the current successes of the electric transportation market and to accelerate deployment even further.”

EEI’s initiatives are part of a broad industry effort to accelerate the adoption of PEVs and technologies by utilities. A white paper released by EEI in June titled, “Transportation Electrification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge,” offers a road map for a long-term, coordinated effort to further spur the development of electric vehicle technologies in the transportation market. The effort is led by EEI’s Electric Transportation Task Force, which is co-chaired by Tony Earley and Portland General Electric CEO and President Jim Piro.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its annual Green Power Leadership Awards, recognizing 19 Green Power Partners and four suppliers across the country—including the cities of Philadelphia and Las Vegas, Apple, Kohl’s, and Trek Bicycle Corporation–for achievements in advancing the nation’s renewable energy market and reducing greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change.
  • TheSierra Club is joining Ford Motor Company and SunPower’s Drive Green for Life program to help more Americans move toward emissions-free driving. Drive Green for Life offers Ford customers who own electric plug-in vehicles, including Focus Electric, C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid and Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid, a $750 rebate on a SunPower residential solar system to generate clean, solar energy for the home and for electric vehicle charging. Also eligible are the C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid. As Drive Green for Life’s newest partner, the Sierra Club will receive a $500 donation from SunPower for each rooftop solar system installed through the program.
  • The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), a globally recognised sustainability certification standard for biomaterials, and Elements Software Ltd, a leading web based traceability software provider, are working together to help RSB members track their biofuel feedstocks. Elements is a web based traceability platform that will help RSB Participating Operators (POs) comply with the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).
  • NorthWestern Corporation d/b/a NorthWestern Energy has announced that it has closed on the previously announced $900 million purchase of eleven hydroelectric facilities representing 633 megawatts of capacity and one storage reservoir from PPL Montana.

ICF Int’l Assesses True Value of Solar

ICF Intl True Value of Solar White PaperICF International recently released a white paper that aims to better create a methodology for assessing the true value of solar. Authored by Steven Fine, Ankit Saraf, Kiran Kumaraswany and Alex Anich, the paper looks at the current state of value of solar (VOS) analysis and proposes what they believe to be a more holistic approach – one that can be uniformly applied across various utility service areas.

The report offers several methodological approaches on potential VOS components including energy, avoided/deferred generation capacity, avoided transmission and distribution losses and capacity, grid support services, environmental costs and benefits and security.

After review and consideration of various methodologies, the authors lay out a roadmap for achieving a better consensus VOS and suggest their new VOS calculation could be an input in calculating the retail credit net energy metering (NEM) subsidy under a Value of Solar Tariff (VOST). They also believe the new calculation could be used to guide largeer investment and market decisions for utilities, regulators and the broader solar industry.

Click here to read the free white paper.

OwnEnergy Completes Windthorst II Wind Farm

OwnEnergy has completed the Windthorst II Wind farm located in Windthorst, Texas. The project was developed by OwnEnergy while Mortenson Construction was responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction of the project including erecting 28 Siemens turbines.

gI_161038_Windthorst-2-photo“Completing construction on the Windthorst II wind project, which is our sixth wind farm to spin and our seventh completed project overall, is a major milestone for OwnEnergy,” said OwnEnergy Founder and CEO Jacob Susman. “We are proud to demonstrate our construction and asset management capabilities with the completion of Windthorst II. What’s more, we are thrilled to work with BlackRock and Mortensen to bring clean, cost-competitive wind energy to Texas. We appreciate the long-term support from the community leaders and residents of Archer County, and we are looking forward to continuing our commitment to Texas’s clean energy economy.”

The Windthorst II project is the 26th wind facility Mortenson has built in Texas out of 140 wind energy projects.

“We are very pleased to have entered into a relationship with OwnEnergy as they continue to grow their wind portfolio and make their mark in the industry,” said Tim Maag, VP and general manager of Mortenson’s Wind Energy Group. “We applaud their growing commitment to building projects with local ownership.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFBOEM has offered a right-of-way (ROW) grant to Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission System, LLC (Deepwater Wind) for the Block Island Transmission System. Deepwater Wind’s proposed project would entail the installation of a bi-directional submerged transmission cable between Block Island and the Rhode Island mainland. The transmission system would serve two purposes: 1) connect Deepwater Wind’s proposed 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm (offshore), to the Rhode Island mainland; and 2) transmit power from the existing onshore transmission grid on the mainland to Block Island.
  • Yahoo has announced a 15-year partnership with wind energy developer OwnEnergy. Under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Yahoo will purchase approximately 50 percent of the wind power from the 48 MW Alexander wind farm in western Kansas to offset much of Yahoo’s energy usage in the Great Plains region. The wind farm is expected to generate over 100,000 MWh annually. The PPA is part of Yahoo’s effort to engage in community-centric partnerships to buy wind power directly from local wind farms.
  • Andalay Solar, Inc. has announced that it has begun production of its solar modules this week in San Jose, CA, U.S.A and will begin shipping to customers next week. The modules are black-framed, 60-cell, multicrystalline, 250 watt modules.
  • Burlington Electric Department (BED) has purchased a 7.4-MW hydroelectric project located Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. The utility now now has contracts to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. BED currently sells the renewable energy certificates (RECs) from the facilities and uses the funds to lower customer electricity rates. Burlington’s effort contributes to Vermont’s target to produce 90 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2050.

Wetzel Blade Wins Clean Energy Award

Wetzel Blade was awarded a 2014 Clean Energy Venture Award during the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s NREL Industry Growth Forum. The company won the honor for its work on a pre-fabricated, field-assembled turbine blade that boosts production capacity and outlasts current generation composite blades. The start-up company will receive in-kind commercialization support designed to help increase its chances of becoming commercially successful.

According to Wetzel Blade, the new blade technology is based on a space frame design and features independently fabricated Wetzel Blade Awardpultruded FRP spars. The parts are sized for easy transport and field-assembly, in similar fashion to high reliability military equipment.

According to Kyle Wetzel, CTO/Founder of Wetzel Blade and a well-published expert in wind blade design, “This concept emerged from a project that our parent company, Wetzel Engineering, was involved with in China. We were engineering a 100-meter blade for a 10MW turbine and wanted to eliminate shell panel buckling as a design driver. The balsa requirements presented another challenge – almost 10,000 kg of this expensive core material absorbing ~6,000kg of epoxy.”

Wetzel noted that 3-5 percent of total installed cost of each turbine is logged to transportation. However, their technology reduces these costs. The company is currently in the structural testing phase with plans to demonstrate a sub-scale prototype in early 2015. The project has been partially funded through an SBIR/STTR award from the DOE.

“Because of our involvement with the entire turbine lifecycle, we understand that to make a real shift in the economics, a blade design must generate more electricity, cost less to build and maintain, and be more efficient to transport and install,” added Webzel. “The industry is hungry for a solution that delivers on all those points.”

Iberdrola Opens West of Duddon Sands Wind Farm

ScottishPower Renewables, Iberdrola USA’s sister company, has opened its first offshore wind farm, West of Duddon Sands, a 389 MW facility located in the Irish Sea. The $2.6 billion project, located approximately 12.5 miles off the seaport of Barrow-in-Furness in North West England, was completed in conjunction with Dong Energy of Denmark.

“West of Duddon Sands is the first offshore wind farm in the U.K. to use such advanced construction methods,” said Ignacio Galan, Iberdrola chairman during a grand opening ceremony. “The combination of two highly sophisticated installation vessels working in tandem, and the support of the excellent fabrication facilities at Belfast, Northern Ireland, made this one of the most efficient offshore projects ever delivered in the U.K.”

West of Duddon Sands offshore wind farmThe wind farm consists of 108 Siemens turbines that are connected through a 125-mile web of undersea cable in a 26 square mile area of the Irish Sea. The wind farm will produce enough energy to meet the annual electricity demands of nearly 200,000 homes.

“Building the West of Duddon Sands wind farm was a significant engineering challenge,” said Bob Kump, chief corporate officer of Iberdrola USA. “There is value in the achievement beyond the immediate benefits of this project. We will share the knowledge we gained among Iberdrola companies like ours and throughout the industry to help advance the technology and cost competitiveness of future offshore wind projects.”

According to Iberdrola, two big offshore wind energy innovations helped reduce the cost of the project:

  • A new $80 million, custom-designed offshore wind terminal built at Belfast Harbor. The terminal employs up to 300 workers and can operate around the clock for continual delivery of turbine and foundation components to the farm.
  • Two of the world’s largest and most advanced installation vessels: Pacific Orca and Sea Installer. Using the two vessels in tandem enabled construction crews to install all the foundations and turbine components during one of the most stormy winters in recent history.

Energy generated by the project connects to an offshore substation that boosts the voltage then routes it through two export cables to the onshore substation at Heysham where it enters the U.K. national grid.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Dallas Academy, located in Dallas, Texas is now generating power from a new solar array, funded in part with $30,000 donation from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club with $120,000 additional funds donated by the community. The 289 solar panels fill 5,100 square feet of the roof and is one of the largest array on any private school in the state. The school will now use the solar array as an educational tool on how solar works and the benefits of renewable energy.
  • SunEdison, Inc. has announced that it entered into a joint framework agreement with Aboitiz Renewables, Inc. The agreement formalizes their intention to jointly explore, develop, construct and operate up to 300 megawatts of utility-scale solar photovoltaic power generation projects in the Philippines over the next three years.
  • Enerkem Inc. has announced it has signed an agreement with AkzoNobel, a global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals, to develop a project partnership to explore the development of waste-to-chemicals facilities in Europe. In this new project partnership, Enerkem will license its exclusive breakthrough technology to convert municipal and other waste feedstocks into chemicals. The final business structure and sites are under discussions and will be announced at a later time.
  • Conservative pro-solar organization TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar Won’t be Killed) has launched organizing, fundraising and education campaigns in Colorado in response to government-regulated monopoly utility Xcel’s attacks on rooftop solar. Xcel wants to damage the state’s rooftop solar industry and deny Coloradans the right to generate their own electricity. TUSK’s Chairman is former US Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr.