- JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. has announced that it has supplied solar PV modules to CSEM-uae, an independent, non-profit Swiss-UAE joint venture company for applied research. The modules will be used for CSEM’s Solar Outdoor Laboratory, an R&D and innovation center for renewable energy in Ras al-Khaimah, UAE. Located in the northern Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah and built to develop and test competitive solar energy solutions for the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf market, the project has been operating since September, 2013.
- Lignol Energy Corporation has announced the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding between Milio International and LEC’s subsidiary, Territory Biofuels Limited, for the development of a joint venture. Under the terms of the planned JV, it is anticipated that Milio will fund up to 120,000 tons of feedstock per year as well as facilitate the marketing and sales of the production from TBF’s 140 million litre per year biodiesel plant located in Darwin, Australia. At full production capacity this funding is expected to provide working capital funding of approximately US$25 million.
- FirstEnergy Corp. has completed the sale of 11 hydroelectric power stations to Harbor Hydro Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of LS Power Equity Partners II, LP, for approximately $395 million. The two companies originally announced the sales agreement in September 2013.
- Results of a third-party peer-reviewed life cycle assessment (LCA), Greenhouse Gas and Energy Life Cycle Assessment of Pine Chemicals Derived from Crude Tall Oil and Their Substitutes, found that diverting Crude Tall Oil (CTO) into biofuel production in Europe will not have a significant effect in either reducing carbon emissions nor fossil fuel consumption. CTO is a sustainable raw material that has been used in biorefining to produce pine chemicals for decades.
The U.S. solar industry is more than 60 percent of the way to achieving cost-competitive utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity – only three years into the Department’s decade-long SunShot Initiative, reports the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). To help continue this progress, the DOE announced $25 million in new funding to strengthen U.S. solar manufacturing for photovoltaic and concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies and to maintain a strong domestic solar industry – supporting the Department’s broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative.
The U.S. is playing a growing role as a global leader in solar as demonstrated in a new industry report which recently found that U.S. utility-scale solar set a record with 2.3 gigawatts installed in 2013. As a direct result of increased solar generation, over the last three years, the cost of a solar energy system has dropped by more than 50 percent, helping to give more and more American families and businesses access to affordable, clean energy.
“In just the last few years, the U.S. has seen remarkable increases in clean and renewable energy – doubling the amount of energy that we produce from solar and wind and supporting a strong, competitive solar supply chain that employs American workers in every state,” said Energy Secretary Moniz. “To continue this growth and position the U.S. as a global leader in clean energy innovation, the Energy Department is helping to advance new technologies that further reduce costs, improve performance and support new jobs and businesses across the country.”
In 2011, DOE launched its SunShot Initiative to make solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. As a result of the program, today, the utility-scale PV industry is more than 60 percent of the way to achieving SunShot’s target of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. In the United States, the average price for a utility-scale PV project has dropped from about $0.21 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to $0.11 per kilowatt-hour at the end of 2013. According to the Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. electricity price is about $0.12 per kilowatt-hour.
Reductions in the cost of electricity are based on estimates of the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). The LCOE is a measure of the national average of electricity cost based on certain assumptions regarding financing costs and generation availability projected over the life of a generating asset. The LCOE model provides a benchmark for measuring relative changes in electricity costs.
“Resilient communities need resilient power. Without dependable power, a community can be brought to its knees, and the most vulnerable will suffer the most,” was written in a new report, Clean Energy for Resilient Communities. Based on the success of Baltimore, the report is a blueprint for how a city could become more “power resilient” and details how cities use clean energy to create a more reliable electric system – especially during severe weather events.
To way to achieve this, finds the report commission by the Clean Energy Group (CEG), is to rely on proven distributed energy technologies like solar with energy storage to protect consumers during power outages.
“We have entered a new “normal” after Hurricane Sandy, where severe weather events are more frequent, leading to more power outages and increased risk to people and businesses,” said Lewis Milford, President of CEG and co-author of the report. “Last week over a million people in the U.S. lost power during damaging ice storms. Today, due to a record ice storm developing in the Southeastern U.S., hundreds of thousands of people have already lost power, with those numbers expected to rise. We need new strategies like distributed solar with energy storage to protect communities against the harmful effects of power outages. Relying only on the utilities to do the job is no longer safe or dependable.”
CEG said the report is the first in-depth review of national policies and finance strategies to use solar and energy storage to provide more power protection in an urban setting. The report finds that critical public facilities like hospitals, fire stations, gas stations, community shelters and schools should use more resilient power technologies to protect people during power outages. The report also recommends new business models and highlights the emergence of companies that now sell solar with battery storage services to customers– to address the overlooked problem of stand-alone PV systems not working during power outages.
The report recommends:
- Deploy solar with storage at critical community and government facilities that serve low-income, disabled and elderly communities during emergencies.
- Promote targeted public funds to increase the use of clean energy in those communities.
- Use existing bond financing tools to finance solar projects in public and community facilities like schools, community centers and senior housing.
- Address the existing legal obligations of government agencies under the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide electricity so the elderly and the disabled can fully access emergency services during power outages.
Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) has introduced the Renewable Fuel Utilization, Expansion, and Leadership (Re-FUEL) Act. The goal of the legislation is to create a competitive grant program to assist fuel retailers with investments in renewable and alternative fuel/energy sources. The program would be administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will help create new and retrofit existing infrastructure, including pumps for biofuels and hydrogen, tanks, piping and electric vehicle chargers. Loebsack points out that the legislation is already paid for and does not add to the deficit.
“I believe in making things in America and there is no reason our fuel sources shouldn’t be made here as well,” said Rep. Loebsack. “It’s also important that consumers are able to choose where their fuel source comes from when they go to fill up. Too often, infrastructure constraints are cited as the reason for not giving consumers the choices they deserve. This holds back the development of our renewable and alternative energy sources that create jobs in Iowa and across the country.”
To be eligible for the grant, projects must be capable of dispensing fuel or energy currently not widely available. Projects can be new infrastructure projects or retrofits to existing infrastructure and can include infrastructure such as biofuel and hydrogen pumps, tanks, piping, and electric vehicle chargers. A minimum of 30 percent non-federal match is required and the maximum grant per year per entity is $100,000. In addition, the grant program covers infrastructure for renewable or alternative energy, which includes renewable energy, energy for charging electric vehicles, and hydrogen and fuel cells.
“I commend Congressman Loebsack for introducing legislation that supports America’s consumers, rural communities and growing biofuels industry,” said Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy. “By supporting renewable fuel infrastructure, this legislation will help push our nation toward energy independence and give consumers some much needed choice and savings at the pump. This legislation also emphasizes the importance of investing in and revitalizing rural America.”
The Re-FUEL Act does not add to the federal deficit. The program would be paid for by setting aside 1 percent of offshore oil royalties each fiscal year. This amounted to about $54.34 million in fiscal year 2013 and $52.16 million in fiscal year 2012. In addition, no other required disbursements from natural resources accounts such as those for state sharing, reclamation fund, or Land and Water Conservation Fund will be affected.
“The pace at which the renewable fuel advantages will be available to American drivers is greatly sped up by the fact that the proposed grants can be used for infrastructure like new blender pumps as well as retrofitting existing pumps, pipes, tanks and chargers,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “Placing a priority on rural America is a welcomed approach. The small communities of rural America are amongst the most challenging locations for economic development. Rep. Loebsack recognizes that ethanol production has created and supports over 386,000 jobs with very real potential to expand on that success.”
Heliae’s algae production technology is heading to Arizona State University’s (ASU) algae testbed facility. The company is partnering with SCHOTT North America to install a Helix photobioreactor at ASU’s Department of Energy (DOE)-funded algae testbed facility.
Over the next several years, algae research staff at ASU will leverage the Helix photobioreactor, built by Heliae, for pioneering research that will forward the understanding of algae production technology, including an investigation into the effect of glass tubing innovation on the yields and economics of algae production. The reactor will also deliver the production of high-quality algae cultures, which will support broader ASU algae operations.
The DOE-sponsored testbed at ASU is part of the Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3), a network of algae industry leaders, national labs, and research facilities. Led by ASU, ATP3 enables both researchers and third party companies to succeed in their algal endeavors by providing a national network of testbed systems and other services, such as research and education.
Over the course of the multi-year research plan, ASU will manage Helix operations and research, while Heliae and SCHOTT will support the project in an advisory capacity.
“To develop world-class technology, it’s essential to partner and collaborate with the best innovators in the industry,” said Dan Simon, Heliae’s president and CEO. “For glass innovation, there is no equal to SCHOTT, and the interactions between Heliae’s and SCHOTT’s research and development teams over the years have helped both companies develop world-class technology that will truly enable this industry.” Continue reading
- New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Power Infrastructure Tracker in East Africa, finds that the demand for electricity in East Africa is expected to grow at approximately 5.3 percent per year till 2020. To meet these requirements, generation capacity would have to increase by 37.7 percent in Uganda, 96.4 percent in Kenya, 75.3 percent in Tanzania and 115 percent in Rwanda.
- Calling it “critically important,” the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) applauded “commence construction” legislation introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). Their bipartisan legislation would allow America’s solar energy companies to make full and effective use of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The bipartisan legislation would allow companies to qualify for the ITC if their projects are under construction before the law’s expiration date at the end of 2016.
- Clean Energy Pipeline, the specialist online financial news, data and research provider, is currently compiling data for inclusion in its fifth annual global renewable energy M&A report, and is seeking insight from key industry stakeholders. The 2014 report will explore a number of themes, including how M&A activity will evolve over the next 18 months, how valuation multiples have fluctuated, the availability of financing for M&A transactions and the potential impact of policy change on the global renewable energy market.
- The Sierra Club has released a new report, “Workers, Communities, and the Clean Energy Economy,” laying out a vision for workers in the transition to a clean energy economy. The report highlights opportunities brought on by the exponential growth of clean energy sources like wind and solar; calls for a just and fair transition for workers and families as communities transition from fossil fuels to clean energy; and focuses on the shared vision between working families and environmentalists for a healthier, safer, and more prosperous future.
Albion Community Power (ACP) has invested £1.5m in partnership with Welsh developer Infinite Renewables to fund the development of a 500kw single wind turbine in Blaencilgoed, in South Wales. The wind turbine, which is the first investment made by ACP, will supply electricity to a local quarry. It is expected to begin producing power in September 2014 and is estimated to generate over 1,700,000 kWh of electricity per year.
ACP says it aims to be a major producer of community scale renewable energy by raising up to £100 million in due course to power some 35,000 homes, targeting sites where power can be sold to the community at a discount of up to 50 percent. The ACP team will invest in a range of renewable energy projects using proven technologies including brownfield wind, solar, hydroelectricity, biogas and biomass.
Volker Beckers, Chairman of ACP said, “The energy industry is changing, and smaller scale schemes will be playing an increasingly important role. We are excited by our first investment and are looking forward to backing other new projects in the coming months.”
ACP’s projects will qualify for government subsidies such as Feed in tariffs (FiTs). As FiTs are RPI-linked, the company says investors stand to benefit from protection against inflation. To date, Albion has made 10 investments that are currently achieving an investment return of 11%.
“We have an existing partnership with Albion Ventures, having built a number of turbines together starting with a single mast, 500kW Wind Turbine on a brownfield site near Ebbw Vale in Wales,” said Will David, Infinite Renewables. “We are excited to be partnering ACP on this new project, which plays to our collective strengths. We look forward to developing many more sites with ACP going forward.”
Please keep our millions of dollars in tax breaks in place. We only make $93 billion in collective profit per year. This is not enough money to operate our businesses and overcharge our customers. We’re sure you will make the right decision.
This is what a letter to Congress might look like from Big Oil who according to a report from the Center for American Progress, made a combined profit of $93 billion in 2013. The total is for five big oil companies: BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell. Despite this ridiculous amount of revenue (these companies made $177,000 per minute), they are fighting to keep their tax breaks in addition to lobbying to lift the crude oil export ban.
The five Big Oil Brothers actually increased total production in 2013 most due to BP and ConocoPhillips in essence single handedly doubling production. Although production went up, profits went down because it is becoming more expensive to extract oil. It is this change that is causing the oil industry to argue they need their tax breaks to continue.
What is staggering is that the $93 billion profit is down nearly 27 percent from 2012. In addition to higher cost of production, the average price of gasoline in 2012 was 16 cents less per gallon than the previous year.
It would not be surprising, write Daniel Weiss and Miranda Peterson, both with Center for American Progress, “if the big five oil companies use their 2013 decline in profits as another excuse to pressure Congress to retain their $2.4 billion-per-year tax breaks. The largest of these special provisions, they write, allows these companies to qualify for the “limitation on section 199 deduction attributable to oil, natural gas, or primary products, which will cost taxpayers $14.4 billion over 10 years. This according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. This particular tax break was enacted in 2004 and was designed to encourage manufacturing to remain in the United States rather than move overseas. It was not meant to apply to oil and natural gas production since the oil and gas fields cannot be moved to another nation. Continue reading
Farm Service Cooperative (FSC), located in Harlan, Iowa, is now selling E15 for 2001 and newer vehicles. The entry of this new station brings the Iowa total to 15. FSC also offers E30, E50 and E85 to flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) owners.
“Being farmer-owned, we wanted to support the agriculture industry by offering more ethanol options to our customers,” said FSC Energy Manager Mike Evers.
Farm Service Cooperative is located in Western Iowa at 2050 Chatburn Avenue in Harlan.
Lucy Norton, managing director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said, “While Big Oil continues to spread misinformation on E15, Iowa’s list of registered E15 stations continues to grow as retailers see the value E15 provides. E15 saves their customers money, plus it supports local jobs and makes our air healthier to breathe.”
Alstom has announced a contract to supply 5 Haliade 150-6 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbines for Deepwater Wind’s 30-MW Block Island pilot Wind Farm located off the coast of Rhode Island. The project will be one of the first offshore wind farms in the U.S. and will be the first to feature Alstom’s Haliade 150-6 MW –the largest turbine installed in offshore waters today. The five turbines will produce approximately 125,000 MWh of electricity a year, enough to power over 17,000 homes.
The company will manufacture the Haliade 150-6 MW direct drive wind turbines and provide 15 years of operation and maintenance support for the Block Island Wind Farm owned and operated by Deepwater Wind. The company says its Haliade 150-6 MW wind turbine features Alstom’s Pure Torque design for optimum efficiency and reliability and its 150-meter diameter rotor provides an energy yield that is 15% better than existing offshore turbines.
“Our contract with Deepwater Wind further demonstrates our commitment to the expanding U.S. wind market,” said Andy Geissbuelher, Head of Alstom’s North American Wind Business. “Drawing on the experience and knowledge gained from our collaboration with Dominion Virginia Power, we are driving the technology innovation needed to make offshore generation a strategic part of the energy mix.”
The Block Island project is aligned with The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s “Smart from the Start” offshore wind program, which aims to accelerate the development of clean, renewable offshore wind along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. The project could lead to a larger utility-scale offshore wind farm of more than 1 gigawatt supported by a regional transmission system linking Long Island, New York and South-eastern New England.
In late 2013, Alstom successfully installed its 6MW Haliade, which at the time was world’s largest offshore wind turbine, off the coast of Belgium. Alstom is part of a consortium led by EDF Energies Nouvelles that was awarded three projects in the first tender launched by the French government to install offshore wind turbines generating 3 GWs of wind power off the coast of France. The successful bid included a total of 240 Haliade 150-6 MW turbines.
- The Air Force Contracting Summit will take place March 25-26, 2014 in Dayton, Ohio – home to the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Summit attendees will learn about the more than $630 billion for fiscal year 2014 Defense appropriations. Attendees will also hear about the more than $34 billion for Air Force procurement which includes vehicles, energy and more.
- Cassidy & Associates has hired one of the nation’s foremost defense energy experts to its team as Col. Dave Belote, ret. USAF joins the firm as a Senior Vice President. The White House recognized Belote last November as one of 12 White House Champions of Change – Veterans Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security for his work in matching renewable energy solutions with America’s national security needs.
- Clean Energy Collective was recognized with the award for Most Innovative Solar Company during the 2014 Solar Power Generation USA congress in San Diego, California.
- ET Solar, Inc. has announced that they have been selected by Strata Solar to supply modules for six solar power plants in North Carolina, with a combined capacity of 23 megawatts (MW).
Sumitomo Corporation has developed and installed what the company says is the world’s first large-scale power storage system which utilizes used batteries collected from electric vehicles (EVs). This commercial scale storage system, built on Yume-shima Island, Osaka, will begin operating this month.
Over the next three years, the system will measure the smoothing effect of energy output fluctuation from the nearby “Hikari-no-mori,” solar farm, and will aim to establish a large-scale power storage technology by safely and effectively utilizing the huge quantities of discarded used EV batteries which will become available in the future. This project has been selected as a model project for “Verification of the battery storage control to promote renewable energy” for the fiscal year 2013 by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan.
Battery Business Development Department General Manager, Norihiko Nonaka said, “We are pleased to be a part of such an important verification project that can both utilize used EV batteries, and provide a large-scale power storage facility, which are important issues that need to be addressed for the future of renewable energy.”
Sumitomo Corporation created the joint venture company, “4R Energy Corporation,” in collaboration with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in September 2010, to address the secondary use of EV lithium-ion batteries. The used EV batteries that will be recycled into this large-scale storage system have been recovered and have gone through thorough inspection and maintenance at 4R, to confirm safety and performance. This prototype system (600kW/400kWh) consists of sixteen used EV batteries. The company is also working on developing new applications for used EV batteries.
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has elected its 2014 board officers this week with a continued emphasis on providing opportunities for independent ethanol producers, farmers, and grassroots advocates to innovate and succeed.
Ron Alverson, founding chairman and current board member of Dakota Ethanol, a 48 million-gallon-per-year (MGY) ethanol producer in Wentworth, SD, was re-elected as President of the ACE Board of Directors. “I am eager to work with such a diverse group. The experiences and perspectives of the ACE board are well suited to represent our members as we continue to highlight the potential of a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and higher blends like E15 and E85, and what kind of benefits they offer for the consumer and the rural economy,” said Alverson.
Duane Kristensen, General Manager of Chief Ethanol Fuels, a 62 MGY ethanol producer in Hastings, NE, was elected Vice President of the ACE board. He noted, “ACE and Chief Ethanol Fuels are a great combination in that we share many of the same ideals and background, I look forward to this opportunity to help highlight ethanol’s rural success story and I’m enthusiastic about the potential to focus on long-term efforts that will help support the industry, agriculture, and American independence.”
Dave Sovereign, who represents Golden Grain Energy, a 100 MGY ethanol producer in Mason City, IA, on the ACE board, and also serves on the board of Absolute Energy, a 115 MGY ethanol producer in Lyle, MN, was elected Secretary of the ACE Board of Directors. Sovereign also owns Cresco Fast Stop, a convenience store that specializes in selling E15, E30 and E85. “I am excited about this opportunity. I know firsthand how the ethanol industry has brought quality jobs for quality people while revitalizing rural communities across the country. And I’m looking forward to helping promote the industry and its growth so future generations of rural Americans can prosper.“
ACE officers and two additional board members comprise the ACE Executive Committee. The 2014 ACE Executive Committee is as follows:
- Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol, President
- Duane Kristensen, Chief Ethanol Fuels, Vice President
- Dave Sovereign, Golden Grain Energy, Secretary
- Owen Jones, Full Circle Ag Cooperative, Treasurer
- Lars Herseth, Herseth Ranch, Member
- Scott Parsley, East River Electric Cooperative, Member
- CHS Inc., a leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, said today it is investing an additional $20 million in 2014 to strengthen refined fuels supply dependability and flexibility for its customer network. The projects include the final phase of an ongoing replacement of the company’s refined fuels pipeline between Billings and Glendive, Mont., and a new pipeline connection at Council Bluffs, Iowa.
- McPhy Energy, a company specialized in hydrogen-based solutions for the industry, mobility and renewable energy sector, has signed a decisive contract in the field of sea H2 mobility with one of the world’s largest shipbuilding groups, Italy-based Fincantieri. McPhy Energy, exclusive owner of a solid state hydrogen storage breakthrough technology, will perform a hydrogen storage design for vessels powered by hydrogen that will lead to the manufacturing of the first prototype.
- Comverge, Inc., has announced that its customer, Pepco Holdings Inc. (PHI) has won the 2014 POWERGRID International Project of the Year award for its direct load control program, Energy Wise Rewards. Recognized in the Demand Response/Energy Efficiency category, the award is based on the size and scope of the project, level of innovation used, and benefit to the utility, its customers, and the power industry as a whole.
- JA Solar Holdings has announced that the performance of the company’s solar modules in extreme environments has been certified by the China Quality Certification Center, China’s largest professional certification body. JA Solar is the first solar product manufacturer to receive this CQC accreditation.
A new process developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) could better produce “biogasoline” from cellulosic materials. This new process of converting cellulosic materials such as farm and forestry waste, could open up new markets for plant-based fuels beyond existing diesel substitutes.
“What’s exciting is that there are lots of processes to make linear hydrocarbons, but until now nobody has been able to make branched hydrocarbons with volatility in the gasoline range,” said Mark Mascal, professor of chemistry at UC Davis and lead author on the paper published Jan. 29 in the journal Angewandte Chemie. UC Davis has filed provisional patents on the process.
Traditional diesel fuel is made up of long, straight chains of carbon atoms, while the molecules that make up gasoline are branched and shorter. That means gasoline and diesel evaporate at different temperatures and pressures, reflected in the different design of diesel and gasoline engines.
Biodiesel, refined from plant-based oils, is already commercially available to run modified diesel engines. A plant-based gasoline replacement would open up a much bigger market for renewable fuels.
The feedstock for the new process is levulinic acid, which can be produced by chemical processing of materials such as straw, corn stalks or even municipal green waste. It’s a cheap and practical starting point that can be produced from raw biomass with high yield, Mascal said.
“Essentially it could be any cellulosic material,” Mascal added. Because the process does not rely on fermentation, the cellulose does not have to be converted to sugars first.