- Alstom has signed two contracts with Danish power plant specialist Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC) for Geared Reaction steam turbines (GRT) to be used in two UK biomass projects. The first contract uses a 23MW GRT for a waste wood combined heat and power (CHP) biomass plant in Widnes, Merseyside that is being developed by BWSC and UK logistics company Stobart Group. While the second is a 50MW GRT for the Snetterton Biomass Plant, in East Anglia, which will burn energy crops such as straw, cereals and oilseed rape.
- A new solar report from GTM Research provides an in-depth look at the changing inverter market landscape, including coverage of new technologies, grid integration, solar-plus-storage, module-level power electronics, market drivers and pricing, and region-specific inverter markets. It details the current global and regional competitive landscape and contains comprehensive profiles and analysis of 45 leading manufacturers.
- Justin DeAngelis from the energy and resources focused global private equity firm Denham Capital recently wrote a detailed white paper looking at the economic benefits of renewable power in Africa, which featured in Clean Energy Pipeline’s Clean Energy Africa Finance Guide. Download the free white paper here.
- Global expenditure for wind turbine Operations and Maintenance (O&M) will rise from $9.25 billion in 2014 to an estimated $17 billion by 2020, driven by increasing numbers of installations and aging turbines, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData. “Global Wind Turbine Operations & Maintenance Market, Update 2015 – Market Size, Major Contenders, Trends, and Analysis to 2020,” states that on average, offshore O&M is two to four times more expensive than onshore O&M. Offshore wind power accounted for about 2.4% of the world’s cumulative wind power capacity in 2014, but accounts for approximately 10% of the global wind O&M market.
China Ming Yang Wind Power Group Limited’s super compact drive (“SCD”) offshore wind turbine prototype of 6.5MW platform has begun a commercial trial operation in Rudong,Jiangsu Province, China. The 5 -7 MW wind turbine prototype features a two-blade design with a light weight permanent magnet generator and is able to adapt to various extreme offshore weather conditions, offering high reliability at a lower weight to offshore wind farm operators, particularly in typhoon-prone regions.
“We are proud to see that the world’s first SCD offshore wind turbine prototype of 6.5MW platform has beenconnected to the grid and put into trial operation,” said Chuanwei Zhang, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ming Yang. “Our unique model provides our customers with a cost-effective solution for their offshore wind farm projects in typhoon-prone coastal areas where extreme weather conditions prevail, for example the eastern and southern coast of China, potentially one of the world’s largest offshore markets.”
Zhang added, “Meanwhile, I am also pleased to announce that in response to our customers needs and to meet China’s complex offshore conditions, Ming Yang is planning to develop an innovative three-blade SCD wind turbine model, specializing in catching low speed wind. We expect that we will be able to seize the huge market opportunities by providing a wider product mix as well as value-added services, as the PRC government continues to push for renewable energy solutions in an effort to combat air pollution.”
The 10th annual Ethanol 2015: Emerging Issues Forum is set for April 16-17, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska hosted by the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB). The event is designed for ethanol producers and others integrally involved in production, technology, policymaking and marketing of ethanol and its co-products.
NEB has announced that Paul Argyropoulos, senior policy advisor to the Office of Air Quality and Transportation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will be the featured speaker April 16th. Argyropoulos will address EPA’s plans for the final rule on Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for 2014 and plans for 2015 and 2016. In addition, he will address issues associated with the RFS including steps EPA is taking to get the RFS back on track.
“Paul is as knowledgeable as they come on these issues and we are absolutely delighted that he will be able to join us this year,” said Todd Sneller, NEB administrator. “He has worked on fuel and air quality programs for more than 20 years and with new ozone standards, the Tier 3 program and fuel economy standards all impacting the future of ethanol. It is a very timely addition to the program.”
Other topics during the forum include ethanol marketing challenges; domestic and international ethanol marketing opportunities and barriers; emerging trends in ethanol co-products; low carbon fuel standards; and integrating technology for efficiency, profitability and sustainability.
- According to a recent report from Navigant Research, 59 percent of light-duty vehicles purchased in 2025 are expected to feature turbochargers. “Automotive Fuel Efficiency Technologies,” analyzes the emerging global market for technologies that improve fuel economy. It examines the consumer demand and regulatory background related to engine technology and lightweight materials for increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles. Global market forecasts for LDV sales, segmented by powertrain, region, and number of cylinders, extend through 2025.
- Coronal Group LLC, an alternative energy firm that finances and operates solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, has announced that Jonathan D. Jaffrey will step into the role of chairman and CEO and that Edwin Feo will assume the position of president. In addition, the company added two executives, Joseph M. Teltser, deputy general counsel, and Dan Barahona, controller.
- Solar Power, Inc. has announced that SPI, together with its wholly owned subsidiary, SPI China (HK) Limited, has completed its previously announced acquisition of 4.3 MW of photovoltaic projects in Italy from CECEP Solar Energy Hong Kong Co., Limited.
- There is still time to register for the 10th Annual Emerging Issues Forum taking place April 16-17, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. Hear the latest confirmed speaker, Paul Argyropoulos with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) speaking about “Getting the Renewable Fuel Standard Back on Track” as well as others on various ethanol topics. Register here.
Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits (LBDS) along with Mascoma, LLC have been awarded a patent for the technology used in TransFerm Yield+ in the US (US 8,956,851 B2). As explained in Lallemand company materials, this yeast product provides for novel metabolic pathways that reduce or eliminate glycerol production subsequently increase ethanol yield by yeast or other microorganisms.
“We are extremely proud to have introduced these products into the marketplace. This drop-in, game-changing technology is one example of how our Mascoma business unit has produced real results,” said Angus Ballard, president, LBDS. “To be able to increase yields and thus increase the profitability of ethanol plants, at a time where margins are tight, is huge. This is just the beginning of a long line of Mascoma developed products that will be brought into the market by our team.”
During the past three years, LBDS and Mascoma introduced TransFerm and TransFerm Yield+ yeasts into the ethanol industry citing that the products help reduce the amount of glucoamylase needed in fermentation and also provide a substantial yield increase through the introduction of the glycerol reduction pathway. Today more than 50 ethanol plants have utilized the TransFerm platform producing over 4 billion gallons of ethanol.
Kevin Wenger, executive vice president of Mascoma, added, “Development of this technology is the result of years of dedicated R&D effort by Mascoma. We are quite pleased that the U.S. Patent Office has allowed the patent; we believe it shows how innovative and significant this new approach really is. TransFerm Yield+ is truly the first product of its kind to offer this type of step change technology in ethanol production.”
The University of Iowa has selected REPREVE RENEWABLES to provide agricultural and business development services for their Biomass Fuel Project. The goal of the project it to assess and improve environmental aspects of new and existing biomass crops and subsequent fuels. In addition, REPREVE RENEWABLES’ perennial grass, giant miscanthus, will be used to power the U of I’s power plant, whose has a goal of using 40 percent renewable energy by 2020.
REPREVE RENEWABLES will employ its Accu Yield System – a proprietary, precision agricultural system, to plant and establish giant miscanthus. According to the company, use of the Accu Yield System reduces the cost of establishment and increases yields, two factors that will make this project economically feasible.
REPREVE RENEWABLES will move forward by securing land commitments for 2,500 acres in the Iowa City area, including the Eastern Iowa Airport where giant miscanthus will be grown to improve soil and water quality by reducing soil erosion.
“The University of Iowa is a leader in sustainability, just as REPREVE RENEWABLES is a trailblazer in biomass production and logistics,” said Jeff Wheeler, CEO of REPREVE RENEWABLES. “The Biomass Fuel Project provides the opportunity to achieve breakthrough renewable energy solutions. Working as a team with the local community, we can create new revenue sources for farmers and landowners, improve the soil, mitigate erosion and runoff, and increase the use of renewable energy to reduce the carbon footprint. We are honored to be a part of the University’s 2020 Vision.”
A new compressed natural gas fuel (CNG) station has opened in Orlando, Florida installed by Clean Energy Fuels. The station is located at Orlando International Airport and open to the public and will serve a range of vehicles including passenger cars to airport support vehicles to heavy-duty trucks.
“With over 57 million tourists annually, Orlando is one of the most important tourist destinations in the United States. There is a tremendous opportunity to utilize natural gas in transportation to cut emissions, improving air quality throughout the region,” said Mark Riley, vice president, Clean Energy Fuels.
The CNG station is under a 20-year lease agreement with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. The station joins Clean Energy’s public-access CNG station located at Tampa International Airport. Clean Energy Fuels cites natural gas can cost up to $1.00 less per gallon than gas or diesel. They also cite that CNG reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 30 percent in light-duty vehicles and 23 percent in medium to heavy-duty vehicles.
“Orlando International Airport is committed to pursuing and promoting green initiatives that reinforce our reputation as a conscientious community partner,” said Phil Brown, executive director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “This station is an important component of our sustainability effort and is an environmentally responsible way to ensure the natural beauty of Central Florida is protected for future generations.”
- Ecotech Institute is hosting a “Competitive Landscape of the Green Revolution” seminar on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 12-12:30 pm MDT. The event will be held at Ecotech Institute in Aurora, Colo. and will also be simulcast live, for those who cannot attend in person. The free forum, which will be led by Craig Mataczynski, the CEO of Gradient Resources, will offer students and guests, interested in a green energy career, an employer’s perspective on what it takes to succeed.
- Solar Power, Inc. has announced that Yue Dong has joined SPI as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Mr. Dong joins SPI from lvmama.com, one of China’s largest B2C online travel agencies, where he served as CTO. Dong will focus on overseeing the technical operations and ongoing optimization of SPI’s online investment platform, Solarbao.com, and providing technology support for SPI’s solar power plant operations and maintenance system. He will also lead SPI’s initiatives in big data analysis for power efficiency optimization management.
- Ceres, Inc. and Brazilian energy company Raízen S.A., have announced that they have signed a multi-year collaboration agreement to develop and produce sweet sorghum on an industrial scale. Sweet sorghum can be grown to complement existing feedstock supplies and extend the operating season of Brazilian sugarcane-to-ethanol mills. Under the collaboration, the companies will each contribute in-kind services and resources and share in the revenue from the ethanol produced from Ceres’ sweet sorghum above certain levels. This season, Raízen has planted Ceres’ sweet sorghum evaluation in a single location and plans to expand to multiple mills in the seasons to come.
- SolarCity and DIRECTV have announced a first-of-its-kind program. Under the new service relationship, DIRECTV technicians visiting customers’ homes will be able to offer those homeowners the opportunity to use solar electricity from SolarCity, making it possible for them to pay less than their current utility rates. To celebrate the new relationship, qualified SolarCity customers who sign up to go solar between March 11 and March 18, 2015 are eligible for a special $400 rebate to be paid upon installation.
The Wind Vision report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is spurring reaction across the wind industry. The report describes a new scenario for wind to reach 10 percent by 2020, 20 percent by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050, and provides a road map for government and industry to get there. Wind industry executives are going on record saying they can and will deliver the goals set forth in the plan.
“We can do this and save you money by doing it,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “This definitive report provides the wind industry with aggressive targets for the growth of wind energy in America, and we stand ready to meet them. It starts with getting common-sense policies in place, so we can double U.S. wind energy in the next five years.”
In response to the report, AWEA along with the Wind Energy Foundation will set forth more than 50 industry executives and professionals to serve as ambassadors to educate Americans and elected officials about wind power benefits. In addition, over 400,000 supporters of wind energy have signed a petition calling on state and federal lawmakers to support the needed policies.
“This report documents how wind energy already provides major economic and environmental benefits to America, including protecting consumers against energy price spikes, and making deep cuts in pollution and water use,” added John Kostyack, executive director of the Wind Energy Foundation. “As wind becomes one of the country’s top sources of electricity, Wind Vision promises even bigger benefits for decades to come.”
Wind Vision envisions how consumers will immediately benefit from more stably priced energy. With more wind energy, electricity prices would be 20 percent less sensitive to fluctuations in the price of fossil fuels, the report finds. Consumers would see $280 billion in economy-wide savings from reduced natural gas prices alone. Investing in more U.S. wind turbines would pay further economic dividends, such as by creating more jobs and causing further reductions in air pollution. The up-front investment to achieve these benefits will cost electric consumers only pennies a month in the early years, the report shows. Continue reading
North Carolina installed the second most new U.S. solar power capacity in 2014 according to the report released this week, “Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review”. America’s 12th state is poised to become the first in the South to exceed 1 gigawatt (GW) of installed solar.
In 2014, North Carolina added 397 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 953 MW – just 47 MW short of cracking the 1 GW barrier. The report also demonstrated that North Carolina’s biggest solar gains came in utility-scale installations. Of the new capacity added, 390 MW were utility scale, 4 MW were residential and 3 MW were commercial. Together, these installations represented a $652 million investment in the state in 2014.
“North Carolina is a case study of how solar works as well on the East Coast as it does on the West Coast – with the Tar Heel State now having more installed solar capacity than Oregon and Washington combined,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, the 953 MW installed today in North Carolina is more than our entire country had installed by 2007. That’s an amazing achievement.”
North Carolina’s notable solar projects include:
- Apple’s Data Center Solar Farm in Maiden was developed by SunPower. This photovoltaic (PV) project has the capacity to generate 20 MW of electricity — enough to power more than 2,200 North Carolina homes.
- At 20 MW, Capital Partners Solar Project is among the largest solar installations in North Carolina. Recently completed by SunEnergy, this PV project has enough electric capacity to power nearly 2,000 homes.
- Several large retailers in North Carolina have also gone solar, including Verizon, SAS and IKEA.
- Apple has installed one of the largest corporate PV systems in the state with 20 MW of solar capacity at its location in Maiden.
The residential market began to show some promise in 2014 with installed system prices dropping again – and down a total of 49 percent since 2010. But the big driver in the state’s solar market has been in utility-scale installations. A recent study by Duke University found that North Carolina now has 150 utility-scale solar facilities, with another 377 facilities planned. “Our assessment of the North Carolina utility-scale solar value chain finds that at least $2 billion in direct investment has been made in the state, affecting at least 4,307 direct jobs in 450 companies,” the report stated.
A new paper released from research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance has found that North American utility companies focused on two sectors in 2014: advanced energy storage and solar. Analysts tracked 52 clean energy requests for proposals (RFPs) released in 2014, and found that solar dominated the field with more than 27 RFPs, and that Western states sought the most capacity. The white paper details several trends including:
- Solar dominated the market, both in capacity (1.8GW) and quantity (27 RFPs). There was also a significant amount of interest (at least 12 RFPs) in energy smart technologies, particularly energy storage.
- Western states represented the biggest region for RFPs, with 1GW being requested. The Southeast was the second-largest region in terms of capacity requested, almost all of it solar.
- Wisconsin-based Alliant made the biggest splash in capacity sought with a single RFP.
- Collectively, the US armed forces issued seven RFPs.
“The data reveals particularly strong interest in energy storage,” said Will Nelson, head of analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance in North America. “Interestingly, most storage RFPs are looking for a relatively small amount of capacity, evidence that these may be initial experimental forays into a rapidly changing sector.”
Nelson said RFPs are a leading indicator for trends in the utility industry because they are solicitations issued by companies to potential vendors. The issuers of RFPs specify the products or services they are seeking. In response, bidders submit proposals, competing against each other on the basis of pricing, capabilities, and other factors. In the world of clean energy, RFPs could involve procurement for renewable electricity-generating capacity or for technologies to make the grid more flexible or resilient.
“For project sponsors and equipment vendors, RFPs are the lifeblood of their business development efforts,” added Mark Taylor, product manager for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “They also give an early but concrete glimpse into which sectors are catching the eye of the market, and about the strategic direction of utilities and other energy-consuming organizations.”
- The National Hydropower Association (NHA) Marine Energy Council is hosting its inaugural International Marine Renewable Energy Conference (IMREC) and the 3rd Annual Marine Energy Technology Symposium (METS). Co-locating the events with the NHA Annual Conference provides an invaluable opportunity for water power technology professionals, policy makers, NGOs, academia, consultants, component suppliers and service professionals to address the full spectrum of marine energy and put the latest issues on the table for discussion. All three events will take place this April 27-29, 2015 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.
- Velo Solar has acquired Bright Idea Energy LLC, an efficient lighting and energy consulting company, Velo Solar Chief Operations Officer Keith Berger announced. The combined company offers a full range of pioneering energy options for home and business that combine to make modern energy needs significantly more affordable in the market’s rapidly rising costs. Bright Idea founder Jett Hattaway and will remain with the company.
- Sunvault Energy Inc. has announced the creation of a joint venture company, Supervault Energy Inc. The newly formed joint venture company is 50% owned by Sunvault Energy Inc. SuperVault Energy Inc. has signed a license and development agreement to use certain UCLA developed patented Graphene technology for use in the area of Electricity storage such as battery alternatives.
- Infocast has announced its 3rd Annual California Energy Summit, scheduled on May 11–13, 2015 in San Francisco, CA. Topics will include the impacts of Governor Brown’s new renewable energy goals on the California energy market; prospects for radical changes to IOU’s distribution grid planning processes and integration of DERs; Retail Rate Design reforms and their effects on solar PV and other distributed resources; how emerging Resource Adequacy, Flexible Asset and Preferred Resource requirements will impact future procurements for gas-fired generation; energy storage and other alternative technologies; and more.
Several researchers have come a step closer to producing solar fuel using artificial photosynthesis. The Lund University team has successfully tracked the electrons’ rapid transit through a light-converting molecule. The goal of the study is to discover a way to make fuel from water using sunlight, similar to photosynthesis. Researchers around the world are attempting to borrow ideas from photosynthesis in order to find a way to produce solar fuel artificially.
“Our study shows how it is possible to construct a molecule in which the conversion of light to chemical energy happens so fast that no energy is lost as heat. This means that all the energy in the light is stored in a molecule as chemical energy,” said Villy Sundström, professor of Chemical Physics at Lund University.
Today solar energy is harnessed in solar cells and solar thermal collectors. Solar cells convert solar energy to electricity and solar thermal collectors convert solar energy to heat. However, producing solar fuel, for example in the form of hydrogen gas or methanol, requires entirely different technology. The idea is that solar light can be used to extract electrons from water and use them to convert light energy to energy rich molecules, which are the constituent of the solar fuel.
“A device that can do this – a solar fuel cell – is a complicated machine with light-collecting molecules and catalysts,” said Sundström. Continue reading
A paper recently published in the March 2015 edition of Electricity Journal argues that the value of geothermal energy as well as other baseload renewables need to be better recognized as current options for electricity. Authors Ben Matek with the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) and Karl Gawell, GEA executive director, write, “Misinformation about baseload renewables has distorted the discussion about the least-cost future renewable energy mix. There are renewable baseload power sources with generation profiles that can economically replace other retiring electricity sources megawatt for megawatt, thereby avoiding incurring additional costs from purchasing and then balancing renewable intermittent power sources with storage or new transmission.”
The article asserts that while there is no one-size-fits-all solution, the renewable energy sector will need to reevaluate the values of baseload renewables (traditionally, baseload power has been generated by nuclear, coal and natural gas) to address today’s power challenges and the dangers of climate change. These power options, argue the authors, provide numerous benefits that seem to have all but disappeared from the renewable energy conversation, including lower cost, better grid security, and a more optimal use of transmission infrastructure, they assert.
Instead of just looking at short-term least-cost criteria, broader questions need to be asked when choosing between technologies, the authors state in the article. “To determine the best path forward, a number of system-wide issues need to be addressed. First, what combination of technologies really produces lowest system-wide costs when considering emission profile and reliability? And second, what mix of electricity sources will have the lowest cost considering both replacement costs and operation and maintenance costs over a period of several decades?”
The article concludes that when a path to go forward is chosen, renewables such as geothermal power, must be in the mix. In addition, the value of diversity should be recognized and integrated into the planning process.
A new study, “Offshore Wind in Europe: Walking the tightrope to success,” finds that the European offshore wind energy industry can compete with coal and natural gas by 2023. The Ernst & Young (EY) reports states that for this to occur, however, the industry must significantly reduce costs over the next five years.
Cost savings can be achieved in several ways including deploying larger turbines to increase energy capture (9%); fostering competition between industrial players (7%); commissioning new projects (7%); and tackling challenges in the supply chain such as construction facilities and installation equipment (3%). These actions, coupled with strong, long-term regulation will enable offshore wind energy to compete.
Parallel to release of the report, three of the biggest names in offshore wind have initiated a joint declaration – called ‘United Industry‘ – as part of a commitment to reducing costs in the sector. Dong Energy, MHI Vestas and Siemens Wind Power and Renewables have pledged to undertake joint and individual actions across the whole of the value chain to deliver “major long-term and tangible advancements.”
Michael Hannibal, CEO Offshore of Siemens Wind Power and Renewables, said, “Cost reduction remains a top priority of the offshore wind industry. We need to create profitable investments for offshore projects independent of subsidies. In a united industry, all stakeholders across the whole value chain are equally responsible to contribute and deliver. Siemens takes full ownership of this challenge. If we all do that, we will win.” Continue reading