Global Investment for Climate Change Falls Again

According to a new report from Climate Policy Initiative, global investment in activities that reduce the threat of climate change fell for the second year in a row from USD $359 billion in 2012 to USD $331 billion in 2013. The report, “Global Landscape of Climate Finance,” found while public sources and intermediaries contributed $137 billion, private investment dropped by $31 billion (all numbers USD).

Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2014The study found that the decrease in private funds was due largely to falling costs of solar PV. Solar development costs were down $40 billion in 2013 as compared to 2012. However, the report states that the situation remains grave: The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that an additional $1.1 trillion in low-carbon investments is needed every year between 2011 and 2050, in the energy sector alone, to keep global temperature rise below two degree Celsius. In other words, the world is falling further and further behind its low-carbon investment goals.

Climate finance spending was split almost equally between developed (OECD) and developing (non-OECD) countries, with $164 billion and $165 billion respectively. Nearly three-quarters of all spending was domestic: It originated in the country in which it was used. Private actors had an especially strong domestic investment focus with $174 billion or 90 percent of their investments remaining in the country of origin. These figures illuminate a bias by private investors toward environments that are more familiar and perceived to be less risky. However, public sector money made up the vast majority of developed to developing country flows, which fell by around $8 billion from the previous year to between $31 and $37 billion in 2013.

“As policymakers prepare a new global climate agreement in 2015, climate finance is a key ingredient to bring the world on a two degree Celsius pathway. Our analysis shows that global investment in a cleaner more resilient economy are decreasing and the gap between finance needed and actually delivered is growing,” said Barbara Buchner, senior director of Climate Policy Initiative and lead author of the study. “Our numbers demonstrate that most investment is happening at the national level with investors favoring familiar environments they perceive to be less risky. This implies that domestic policy frameworks and appropriate risk coverage are critical to encourage investment.”

Massachusetts Offshore Wind Auction Announced

The Department of Interior’s Secretary Sally Jewell along with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank have announced that more than 742,000 acres of offshore Massachusetts will be offered for commercial wind energy development. The auction will take place on January 29, 2015.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Patrick and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the hard work of BOEM staff members, this will be our largest competitive lease sale to date for offshore wind energy development,” said Jewell. “This sale will triple the amount of federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects, bringing Massachusetts to the forefront of our nation’s new energy frontier.”

MASS offshore wind auction areaAccording to an analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if fully developed, the area being offered could support between 4 and 5 gigawatts of commercial wind generation. Twelve companies have qualified to participate in the auction for the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area.

“Over the past five years, the Commonwealth has worked with its federal, state, tribal, industry and community partners to put the infrastructure and planning pieces in place to make Massachusetts the launch pad for the U.S. offshore wind industry,” said Governor Patrick. “This offshore wind energy area not only has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power half the homes in Massachusetts, but it will create local jobs and a renewable and home-grown source of power.”

The Massachusetts Wind Energy Area starts about 12 nautical miles offshore. From its northern boundary, the area extends 33 nautical miles southward and has an east/west extent of approximately 47 nautical miles. Under the terms of the Final Sale Notice, which will be published in the Federal Register on November 26, 2014, the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area will be auctioned as four leases: Lease OCS-A 0500 (187,523 acres), Lease OCS-A 0501 (166,886 acres), Lease OCS-A 0502 (248,015 acres), and Lease OCS-A 0503 (140,554 acres).

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFEcoEngineers is hosting a Business Breakfast in Des Moines, Iowa on December 12, 2041 from 7:30 to 9:30 am CST. Grant Menke of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Jeff Hove of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Owners of Iowa will be the featured speakers. They will speak about creating effective policy and frameworks for growth in the renewable fuels industry. Click here to register.
  • Ambassador Energy is partnering with Veteran Asset and Mission Career College to offer training to veterans and their families through the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. The solar PV course offered by Mission Career College and Ambassador Energy is an 80-hour curriculum followed by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Entry Level Exam, proctored on the final day of the two-week course. The inaugural 10-day course is being offered January 12th through 23rd, 2015 in Murrieta, California, and seats for qualified veterans are still available.
  • The Renault-Nissan Alliance has sold its 200,000th electric vehicle (EV) and has a leading 58% market share for zero-emission cars. Together, Renault and Nissan EVs have driven approximately 4 billion zero-emission kilometers – enough to circle the earth 100,000 times. Renault-Nissan’s EVs represent 200 million liters of fuel saved – enough to fill about 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Alliance EVs also represent 450 million kg of CO2 that has not been emitted while driving. The Alliance sold its 200,000th EV in early November, about four years after the launch of the Nissan LEAF, the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle. Nissan LEAF remains the best-selling electric vehicle in history.
  • Solar Universe has announced the industry’s first-ever Black Friday sale on power. Instead of participating in the traditional hype of Black Friday, Solar Universe decided to lighten the meaning and call the event “Bright Friday“. The holiday deal includes a $1,000 gift card for new customers who visit BrightFridaySolar.com by Dec.1, and sign-up with Solar Universe by Jan. 5, 2015.

Equal Earth Aquires 3 Solar Projects

gI_60412_hiramsolar-panels-final3Equal Earth, a diversified renewable company, has acquired three separate solar projects. The combined projects generate 1.6 MW of power and the off-takers include two established Ohio colleges and a local government organization.

Similar to recent Equal Earth acquisitions, this portfolio of projects has long-term PPA’s with the off-takers. The deal is part of the firm’s broader growth strategy to acquire long-term revenue-generating projects with low operational costs to generate predictable future cash flows and attractive after-tax returns.

“We’re proud to play our part in helping schools and government to save money on their utility bills with solar,” said Equal Earth Chairman, President and CEO, Andrew Duggan. “These projects will deliver environmental and financial benefits for years to come.”

Earlier this month, Equal Earth announced that it is acquiring a 5 MW solar photovoltaic farm near Columbus, Ohio.

Sydney Int’l Airport Testing EV Passenger Bus

Carbridge Pty. Ltd., Australia’s leading airport ground transportation provider, has begun a six-month testing program with an Electric Bus at Sydney International Airport. BYD Company built the bus that was selected for the pilot program. The EV bus has been touted for its industry leading operational range and will be used as an airport passenger shuttle.

BYD Australia eBusDuring a launch ceremony held at Sydney International Airport, BYD Asia Pacific General Manager Liu Xueliang said, “Compared with fossil-fueled buses, BYD’s pure electric bus has zero emissions, doesn’t make noise and ensures a comfortable ride without disturbances associated with conventional buses of combustion engines. These characteristics will provide a great experience for visitors to the Airport.”

Some unique features of the bus include the BYD Iron-Phosphate battery, in-wheel hub motors and regenerative braking system. According to BYD, the iron-phosphate battery is fire-safe and non-toxic; there are no caustic materials contained in the battery, no toxic electrolytes or heavy metals and the battery can be completely recycled.

Sydney Airport plans to electrify their entire bus fleet in the coming years.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFEnviroMission’s U.S. Solar Tower development subsidiary, EnviroMission, Inc., has signed a milestone Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration (Western) for its proposal based on the future transmission needs of a Solar Tower within Western’s territory. The project will service EnviroMission’s proposed La Paz Solar Tower development and provide regional transmission benefits to other projects and initially meets the statutory prerequisites set out within the Recovery Act, which is funding the project.
  • Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. has announced that it intends to proceed with a 10 MW project adjacent to its 20MW Bakersfield I Solar project in Kern County, California, which is currently under construction.
  • Ecovacs Robotics has been named a 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree for the RAYBOT, the Water-Free Solar Panel Cleaning Robot. Products entered in this program are judged by a preeminent panel of independent industrial designers, independent engineers and members of the trade media to honor outstanding design and engineering in cutting edge consumer electronics products across 28 product categories.
  • Clean Valley: San Joaquin Valley Leveraging Natural Resources to Grow the Clean Economy,” a new analysis from the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10, finds the San Joaquin Valley is using a mix of natural, technological, governmental, human, and business resources to mold key building blocks in California’s clean economy. The region’s water cluster features more than 200 companies located in the valley and networked nationwide, ranging from farms to tech firms. Innovative partnerships have also helped the San Joaquin Valley become California’s leader in installed renewable energy capacity.

Enel Green Power to Construct Geo/Biomass Plant

Geothermal energy in ItalyEnel Green Power has begun construction on its “Cornia 2″ geothermal power plant in Tuscany. When complete, this will be what the company believes is the first plant in the world that will use biomass to heat the geothermal steam as a means to increase energy efficiency as well as electricity output of the geothermal cycle.

The biomass will be sourced locally within a 70 km radius from the plant and produce 5 MW of power. Utilizing the biomass, the steam entering the plant will be heated to raise the initial temperature to between 370°-380° from 150°-160°. This will increase net capacity for power generation due to the greater enthalpy of the steam and the enhanced efficiency of the cycle caused by lower humidity in the generation phase. Currently the plant has 13 MW installed capacity. When the upgrades are complete in early 2015 the biomass/geothermal plant will increase capacity by 37 Gwh.

“Thanks to its century-long experience in geothermal energy, Tuscany is already in the future,” said the CEO of Enel Green Power, Francesco Venturini, “Hybrid technologies are the new frontier of renewable energy in our efforts to optimize performance, and this facility, which offers an innovative approach to integrating biomass and geothermal energy, is a replicable model that can open new prospects for the development of energy, the economy and employment for local communities.”

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.