- Berlin (gtai) Wind turbines fed over 10,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity into Germany’s grid in the first month of the year, setting a new record, the BDEW German Association of Energy and Water Industries and ZSW Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research reported this morning. That is approximately one fifth of the annual production from wind in 2014.
- U.S. prices for Chinese-produced Tier-1 modules were higher than those of any other market tracked in GTM Research’s latest report, Global PV Pricing Outlook 2015. Driven up on a year-over-year basis by the ongoing trade case against Chinese- and Taiwanese-produced modules, U.S. prices averaged around 72 cents per watt in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared to just 56 cents per watt for the same modules in Chile, the least expensive module market tracked in the new report.
- Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. has announced the completion of its previously announced acquisition of School Bus Holdings, Inc., which, through its subsidiaries, conducts its business under the “Blue Bird” name, from The Traxis Group B.V., which is majority owned by funds affiliated with Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. As part of the transaction, Hennessy changed its name to Blue Bird Corporation. Effective Wednesday, February 25, 2015, Blue Bird will be publicly traded on NASDAQ under common stock ticker symbol BLBD.
- Alstom was awarded by the Chinese company Sinohydro a contract worth about €58 million to provide electro-mechanical equipment and technical services for Karuma Hydropower Project, Uganda’s largest electricity plant. Alstom will provide six 100MW Francis turbine-generator sets and related equipment for this project. Alstom Hydro China (AHC) is responsible for the equipment design, manufacturing, supervision to the installation, commissioning, testing as well as site services.
Millions of people could be suffering from “range anxiety” a condition that keeps consumers from purchasing electric vehicles for fear of becoming stranded with an empty battery. A new study published in Human Factors addresses range anxiety and aims to explain what it is, and determine whether putting a consumer in a battery electric vehicle (BEV) to drive would reduce or eliminate the fear.
In “Understanding the Impact of Electric Vehicle Driving Experience on Range Anxiety,” Rauh and fellow researchers Thomas Franke and Josef Krems asked 24 experienced and inexperienced BEV users to drive a test route through country roads, in villages, and on the German Autobahn. To increase range stress, participants were told that because of an unexpected technical problem, the BEV was not fully charged.
“Range anxiety is a popular topic in the field of electric vehicles, and is frequently named as a key barrier for widespread adoption of BEVs,” said coauthor Nadine Rauh, a research assistant in the Department of Cognitive and Engineering Psychology at Germany’s Technische Universität Chemnitz. “We strongly believe that a better understanding of the phenomenon of range anxiety can help us to find ways of enhancing user experience in BEV driving, thereby increasing acceptance of this type of alternative vehicle.”
The authors found when the vehicle’s display showed that the remaining range was less than the anticipated trip length, experienced BEV drivers exhibited significantly less anxiety than did those who were unfamiliar with electric cars. The researchers caution that further study is needed to determine what other variables play a role in decreasing range anxiety.
“Drivers who are new to BEVs can experience a lot of stress, but as time goes by they will become more confident in both the BEV’s range and in their own abilities to manage any situations that may arise,” added Franke, a postdoctoral researcher at Technische Universität Chemnitz. “Despite advances in technology that will allow for a longer range, human factors research will remain an important tool for helping to design sustainable and user-friendly electric mobility systems.”
The Keechi Wind Project in Jack County, Texas is now producing wind power. The 110 MW project was completed by RES Americas and consists of 55 Vestas V100-2.0 MW turbines. The Keechi Wind Project will deliver electricity into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT) market, under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Microsoft Corporation.
“The successful completion of the Keechi wind project included RES Americas self-performing the installation of 55 wind turbines,” said Andrew Fowler, chief operating officer of RES Americas. “It was also extremely important to us to work closely with the local community in sourcing labor and materials to construct the project.”
Keechi Wind was developed by RES Americas and constructed under a fixed-price, engineering, procurement, and construction agreement and was RES Americas’ first project in which it self-performed the turbine installation. The project, which is owned by Enbridge, connects to Brazos Electric’s Joplin substation via a 12-mile generation tie line. Vestas will provide turbine operations and maintenance services for the first five years of the project.
ChargePoint has released a list of the top 10 friendliest metropolitan areas for EV drivers. The San Francisco Bay Area (including San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose) led the nation, followed by Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego and Honolulu. The company scored the cities based on the number of EVs on the road and the number of charging stations available on the their network as of December 31, 2014 while adjusting for population differences.
ChargePoint’s Top 10 EV-Friendly Metropolitan Areas:
- San Francisco Bay Area, CA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Seattle, WA
- San Diego, CA
- Honolulu, HI
- Austin, TX
- Detroit, MI
- Atlanta, GA
- Denver, CO
- Portland, OR
“Although the West Coast continues to lead the nation in EV friendliness, the fact that cities like Atlanta and Denver broke into the top 10 demonstrates that this is not regional trend, but that our nation is quickly transitioning from gas powered cars to EVs.” said ChargePoint CEO Pasquale Romano. “In cities across the country, it’s becoming easier than ever to drive an EV – and that’s good news for our industry and for our environment.”
Although Los Angeles leads the nation in terms of registered EVs (nearly 57,000), the San Francisco Bay Area takes top billing after accounting for population differences (more than 48,000 EVs). Austin fell to the number-six ranking after having held the number-four spot on the 2013 list; Washington, DC and Boston, MA fell from the ninth and tenth spots, respectively, while EV infrastructure growth and registrations propelled Atlanta and Denver into the top 10.
Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) will be powering the electric vehicles (EVs) racing for first place with solar power. The inaugural event will take place in downtown Miami on March 14, 2015. Formula E is a new FIA single-seater championship and the first fully-electric race car series. It kicked off in Bejing last September and ends this June featuring 10 teams, each with two drivers, racing on city streets. The racing series was developed to showcase R&D and excitement around EVs and the Miami ePrix marks the first U.S. appearance of the series.
“Our partnership with Formula E and the Miami ePrix is another example of our commitment to advancing zero-emissions solar energy and the use of electric vehicles in Florida,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “By the end of 2016 we will triple the energy we are able to produce from the sun, furthering our mission to provide low-cost, reliable and clean energy to our 4.7 million customers.”
“It’s an honor for us to have been selected as one of the 10 founding Formula E teams for the inaugural season,” said Michael Andretti, chairman and CEO of Andretti Sports Marketing who participated in the announcement. “I look forward to bringing this exciting series to North America and joining an impressive field of competitors at the upcoming race in Miami.”
During the announcement, electric race cars were charged with power generated from the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, one of three solar power plants operated by FPL. Earlier this year, FPL announced plans to install more than 1 million solar panels at three additional solar power plants by the end of 2016. When combined with other community projects, FPL will triple its solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 megawatts.
“The Formula E Miami ePrix is all about sharing our passion for electric vehicles,” added Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings. “The race series is exciting, it’s entertaining, and we hope it will turn the world’s attention to the potential electric vehicles have to change the way we power transportation. We are pleased to partner with FPL – a company that shares our vision for powering the future with affordable, clean energy.”
Abengoa and state-owned financier, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), together with KaXu Community Trust have launched a 100 MW solar plant – KaXu Solar One – near the town of Pofadder (Northern Cape Province). The new solar facility will power 80,000 homes in South Africa. The Department of Energy of South Africa awarded Abengoa the project. The power will be sold to the utility Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement.Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel, officially inaugurated the solar power plant. He was accompanied by Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr. Bulelani Magwanishe, Premier of the Northern Cape, Silvia Lucas, executives of Abengoa and IDC and representatives of the local community.
Manuel Sanchez Ortega, Vice President and CEO of Abengoa, said of the project, “We are proud of the role we are playing to help South Africa meet its ongoing energy demands. This project will leave a legacy that will benefit the community of Pofadder, Northern Cape and the entire country. This would not have been possible without the leadership of the South African Department of Energy.”
KaXu Solar One, the first Solar Thermal Electricity (STE) power plant in South Africa, incorporates a storage system that enables production of 100 MW for 2.5 hours after sunset or before dawn. The project will result in approximately USD 891 million direct and indirect investment inflows to South Africa, generate approximately USD 516 million in taxes over the next 20 years.
Fadiel Farao, the Chairperson of the KaXu Community Trust, said KaXu Solar One will be a catalyst for economic development in the Khai Ma municipality in the Northern Cape. “The project has stimulated the local economy and will go a long way toward helping to generate much-needed economic opportunities for people in this area.” KaXu Community Trust is comprised of members of the local community.
Abengoa is building in the region Khi Solar One, a 50MW solar plant using tower technology and has already started the construction of a third project, Xina Solar One, a 100 MW parabolic trough plant. Xina Solar One will shape with KaXu Solar One the largest solar platform in sub-Saharan Africa.
- RBI Solar has supplied the racking for the 11.18MW-dc Kinsley Solar Farm in Deptford, New Jersey. The solar farm is part of Public Service Electric and Gas Company’s Solar 4 All program and covers 32 acres of the closed Kinsley Landfill. Conti Enterprise was the EPC for this landfill project. RBI’s in-house team of engineers worked with Conti to custom design a non-penetrating landfill racking solution that not only meets the wind and snow loading but also matched the financial requirements of the project.
- Vivint Solar has broken ground on the construction of a 163,000 square foot corporate headquarters in Lehi, Utah. The company currently employs nearly 1,000 Utah residents – approaching 3,000 nationwide.
- Over seventy percent of active individual investors (71%) describe themselves as interested in sustainable investing, and nearly two in three (65%) believe sustainable investing will become more prevalent over the next five years, according to a new survey published today by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. The new Sustainable Signals report examines the attitudes and perceptions of individual investors towards sustainable investing and considers the broader implications for investors, corporations and governments.
- India’s clean coal capacity is expected to increase by approximately 103 Gigawatts (GW) between 2016 and 2025, as the country seeks to meet its electricity demand, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData. The company’s report states that while India’s clean coal installations are in the nascent stages, many recent ultra-mega power projects have adopted supercritical (SC) technology, while future SC and ultra-supercritical installations will drive capacity additions over the forecast period.
- Vivint Solar has announced that its Solmetric team will be fully integrated into the Vivint Solar operating structure and be known as Vivint Solar Labs. The new research and development team will focus on proprietary photovoltaic installation instruments and software.
- Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) reported today that SunPower solar power systems at 16 schools are expected to significantly reduce the district’s annual electricity costs over the next 25 years or more. SunPower is bringing the math and science behind the solar technology into the classroom in the form of curriculum that helps prepare students for careers in the clean energy economy. SunPower installed 3.6 megawatts of systems at the 16 schools, using SunPower solar panels installed on building rooftops as well as solar carports in school parking lots.
- The development of a policy that will help address barriers hindering participation of women in energy access in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region is underway. The policy is being developed together with a strategy that will guide its implementation across the countries. The process was launched during a workshop that was held on Tuesday, February 24 at the African Development Bank (AfDB) headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
- Byogy Renewables, a biofuels producer based in San Jose, California, has executed a strategic partnership agreement with Gen 2 Energy, an alternative energy company from Ames, Iowa, to develop a more cost-effective biofuel production process. New yeast strains developed by Gen 2 Energy, Iowa State University and the USDA, improve the alcohol yield of conventional fermentation from a variety of feedstocks – including agave, a monster energy crop being deployed as part of the Byogy value chain.
The 140 MW Oklaria 1 geothermal plant was recently commissioned in Naivasha, Kenya and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame was on hand for the event. He is advocating for more investment in renewable energy as Africa struggles with lack of electricity, and said this is a must for the country, and for Africa, to see an economic transformation.
“European countries are producing more electricity than Africa… what are they doing with their electricity that we can’t do?” asked Kagame. “This project that has been opened to start producing electricity is important not only to Kenya, but to Rwanda and East Africa,” Kagame said referring to the Oklaria 1 geothermal facility.
Kagame said it’s time Africa began a debate to address energy challenges on the continent and suggested governments to engage the private sector. “The debate is about having sufficient electricity to power industry, school, homes and the whole economy as it should be… we need to have a conversation between government and business,” he said.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta agrees with Kagame’s call to action on reliable electricity as a foundation for economic growth and stability. “I am proud to be associated with President Kagame and others who have demonstrated willingness to the progress of our region.”
Early this year, Rwanda signed an agreement with Kenya to import 30MW as part of adding up to 70MW to be connected to the national grid this year. Infrastructure Minister, James Musoni, said the electricity will be connected to the national grid by October 2015. Rwanda’s current power generation capacity is 160MW. The country targets to have 563MW by 2018.
- A new report from Duke University, The Solar Economy: Widespread Benefits for North Carolina, found that public policies such as North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and Investment Tax Credit have made North Carolina first in the south and fourth in the nation for installed solar investment, creating jobs and boosting the economy across the state. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, applauded the study’s findings.
- The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has filed comments (PDF) with the California Energy Commission (CEC) regarding its Draft 2015 Integrated Energy Policy Report Scoping Order. GEA highlighted some of the lesser known economic values geothermal power provides to the State of California, which should be considered as the CEC continues its efforts to study how a 50% RPS can be achieved.
- First Solar and SunPower Corp. are in advanced negotiations to form a joint YieldCo vehicle to which they each expect to contribute a portfolio of selected solar generation assets from their existing portfolio of assets. Upon the execution of a master formation agreement, the parties intend to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of limited partner interests in the YieldCo.
- In a few years, solar energy plants will deliver the most inexpensive power available in many parts of the world. By 2025, the cost of producing power in the U.S. will have declined to between 4.5 and 11 cents (USD) per kilowatt hour, and by 2050 to as low as 2.1 to 7.8 cents, according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems commissioned by Agora Energiewende.
With the increase of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road, aka the burgeoning of the “Electric Highway,” unified standards for public EV charging are needed. In many states, this will fall on the weights and measures officials. As more plug-in EVS hits U.S. roads, charging stations will require inspection and testing for accuracy, just like a gas station today. As the infrastructure rolls out, accruacy, labeling and advertising requirements will need to be addressed.
The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) established the kilowatt hour as the appropriate method of sale of electricity for electric automobiles, effective January 1, 2014. This was at the recommendation of a U.S. National Working Group established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). By establishing the measured units of sale, consumers are now able to make price comparisons just as they do for gasoline.
At its 100th Annual Meeting in July 2015 in Philadelphia, NCWM will vote on additional recommendations from the NIST work group that would establish standards for recharging stations including accuracy requirements, testing procedures by weights and measures officials and design and installation requirements such as indications, labeling and security from tampering. All of this will enable the same level of regulatory oversight that already exists for gas pumps. If adopted by NCWM in July, those model standards will be published in NIST Handbook 44 and enforceable effective January 1, 2016.
Carol Hockert, chief of the NIST Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) noted, “NCWM and NIST have worked in partnership since 1905 to develop standards covering commercial weighing and measuring practices. It is a never-ending task as manufacturing, marketing and new technologies rapidly evolve.”
She also explained that OWM personnel at NIST serve as technical advisors on NCWM Committees and serve as liaisons between NCWM and federal agencies. These two organizations are devoted to a common cause: strengthening the nation’s weights and measures infrastructure and in doing so, protecting consumers and giving business owners a level playing field through fair competition.
- Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, is a featured speaker at the March 13th Business Breakfast hosted by EcoEngineers. The event is taking place Friday March 13, 2015 from 7:30 am to 9:30 am CDT in Des Moines, IA. Durham will speak about the renewable biochemical tax credit, the angel investor tax credit, and the importance of diversification and infrastructure investments in Iowa’s bio-science and renewable energy clusters.
- Ocean Energy Europe’s Board of Directors has elected Rob Stevenson as its new President. Stevenson is Vice-President of Alstom’s Ocean Energy Business. His appointment follows the election of six new Directors on Ocean Energy Europe’s Board.
- Several California schools have contracted with Green Charge Networks under a Power Efficiency Agreement for the installation of over 1,500 kWhs of intelligent energy storage capacity to be used to reduce the ongoing costs of demand charges on their electricity bill. These schools and colleges can expect to save up to 50 percent off their demand charges. As an added benefit, Green Charge has coupled electric vehicle charging stations with each of these systems to mitigate increased demand charges while promoting the use of electric vehicles with students, faculty, and staff.
- Registration is still open for the India-Sri Lanka Renewable Energy Growth Forum taking place on March 11, 2015 at the Galadari Hotel, Columbo. The Forum aims to accelerate growth of the renewable energy sector in Sri Lanka by offering suitable development opportunities to Indian businesses in this industry. Leading industry experts, product manufacturers, system integrators will throw light on the prospects for both countries to work together in this area, for end-use applications and execute projects to achieve new standards and benchmarks of business synergy.
Kenya continues to rise as one of the leading countries tapping into geothermal energy. The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has inaugurated the 140 MW Oklaria 1 power plant, the last phase of the 280 MW geothermal facility. KenGen believes the additional electricity produced will help further stabilize volatile electricity costs throughout the country.
According to KenGen, who says the plant has been supplying power to the national grid since December 2014, the Fuel Cost Component (FCC), the single biggest item on the bills, fell to to a low of KShs/kWh 2.51 in February 2015. This represents a 65 percent drop in the FCC. As a result, it has led to a decline in the overall cost of power to consumers. The addition of geothermal power has also helped to mitigate dependence on hydro power; in recent months, Kenya has had no rainfall and as a result, there has been below average inflow of water into hydro dams.
“KenGen is proud to be on the lead in moving the country towards self sufficiency of reliable and affordable and renewable source of energy, which is also available almost 24/7,” said Managing Director and CEO Eng. Albert Mugo.
Today, KenGen is adding 1575 MW of power geothermal power to the national grid, surpassing hydro for the fourth month in a row. At U.S. 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour, geothermal energy is among the cheapest renewable sources of electricity in the country and the world.
“The country has not experienced power rationing despite low water levels in the hydro generation dams on the Tana Cascade. “This is because the 280 MW project has helped to bridge the power deficit,” concluded Mugo.
Solar supporters from across the country are calling on West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to veto House Bill 2201 – a bill that could jeopardize the future of rooftop solar in the state by rewriting net metering policies.
Solar advocates from Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed (TUSK) claim that utilities, such as American Electric Power (AEP) and FirstEnergy, are deceiving legislators about the language in HB 2201. Should the Gov sign the bill, TUSK said he would “saddle” hundreds of West Virginia families, churches and businesses, that have invested private funds in rooftop solar with new fees. This is happening, said TUSK, at the same time as two utilities – Mon Power and Potomac Edison – are raising rates.
“The utilities are fighting tooth and nail to eliminate competition while also raising rates for their customers,” said Barry Goldwater Jr., spokesperson for TUSK. “When will it be enough? These monopolies are hurting consumers and West Virginia’s economy by increasing rates and pushing new fees through HB 2201.”
The net metering fight has been underway for some time and TUSK said that to date, hundreds of consumers have written to their legislators in support of rooftop solar. TUSK said this particular “attack” uses deceptive language in HB 2201 to impose punitive fees – retroactively and going forward – on West Virginians. The organizations said thousands of West Virginia voters continue to stand strong for choice and competition in the energy market and continue to flood the Governor’s office with letters asking him to preserve net metering and energy choice..
“SEIA doesn’t object to investigating the costs and benefits of net energy metering, but we do object to the assumption that any potential cost shift from a net metering customer to other customers is unjustified,” adds Rhone Resch, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) president and CEO, who notes that the legislation needs to be revised before becoming law. Continue reading
- Registration is open for the 10th annual Ethanol 2015: Emerging Issues Forum taking place April 16-17, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska at the Magnolia Hotel. Confirmed speakers include Jessica Hoffmann, RPMG; Dr. Kurt Rosentrater, Distillers Grain Technology Council; Ernie Shea, 25x’25 and more.
- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and Daytona International Speedway have announced plans to install commercial-scale distributed solar power at the “World Center of Racing”. The plan comprises the installation of more than 5,000 solar panels on multiple canopy-like structures that will offer areas of shade for race fans while generating zero-emissions energy. The solar panels will be located outside the frontstretch, in the Sprint FANZONE and in one of the Speedway’s parking lots.
- Pattern Energy Group Inc. has announced that its parent company, Pattern Development has signed a joint venture agreement with CEMEX Energia, a subsidiary of CEMEX, S.A.B. de C.V. The CEMEX Energia/Pattern Development JV will jointly develop renewable energy projects throughout Mexico.
- RGS Energy has announced that it commenced a public offering of up to $3.5 million units consisting of its Class A common stock and Series A, B, C, D and E common stock warrants. WestPark Capital, Inc. served as exclusive placement agent in the offering on a “best efforts” basis.