Clean Energy Bill Hits House of Reps

Clean Energy Victory Bonds WillSeveral groups have been promoting clean energy victory bonds, a throwback from World War II. This week the concept gained support as the House of Representatives as the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2014. The Treasury bonds starting as low as $25 will allow Americans to invest in the country’s clean energy future.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Cali.) and Doris Matsui (D-Cali.) and includes 14 co-sponsors and is endorsed by Green America and the American Sustainable Business Council, which together represent half a million consumers, companies, organizations, and investors.

Todd Larsen, corporate responsibility division director for Green America, said, “This bond is modeled after the successful WW II Victory Bond which millions of Americans purchased. The Clean Energy Victory Bond will provide individual and institutional investors with the opportunity to invest in clean energy sectors such as solar, wind, second generation biofuels, electric vehicles, and residential and commercial energy efficiency programs. There are currently few investment opportunities for the average investor interested in supporting the shift to a clean energy economy so this bond fills a need for both investors and industry.”

Clean Energy Victory Bonds logoAccording to Green America and the American Sustainable Business Council, Clean Energy Victory Bonds will create the following major benefits:

  • Leverage $50 billion investment to provide up to $150 billion in public and private financing to fund the production of innovative energy technologies, at a time when the U.S. is falling behind other countries in clean energy manufacture and installation.
  • Help create at least one million competitively-paying jobs in the U.S.
  • Support America’s clean energy sector, helping to ensure that the U.S. remains a world leader in this increasingly crucial and competitive industry.
  • Reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy, enhance national security, and limit price increases and fluctuations.
  • Provide a secure, competitive, government-backed investment vehicle for average Americans and investment institutions alike seeking a safe place for their money.
  • Offer flexible redemption options at interest rates superior to most bank accounts.
  • Help all Americans to invest in the future of their country and benefit from their investments.
  • Promote a cleaner environment through the financing of clean energy technologies.
  • Protect the health and safety of Americans by reducing local air and water pollution throughout the country.

“From a business perspective, the Clean Energy Victory Bond makes great sense,” said Richard Eidlin, co-founder & policy director, American Sustainable Business Council. “The clean energy industry has not had the steady flow of financial support that investors and business need to plan effectively, resulting in investors often deciding to place their investments overseas rather than in the U.S.”

Tax incentives for renewable energy come and go, often without predictability, leaving investors and industry scrambling. The Clean Energy Victory Bond would extend vital tax credits for a decade, giving emerging industries the support they need to develop and become increasing competitive.

SheerWind Commissions Pilot Project in Dubai

SheerWind Inc., had commissioned a pilot project at Dubai Aluminium PJSC (DUBAL). The 250kW INVELOX wind power generation pilot project will help sustainably offset the company’s carbon emissions.

SheerWind-INVELOX-Demo3“We are very pleased to be the pioneer in this innovative pilot project in the GCC, especially as the project will contribute measurably to environmental conservation,” said DUBAL’s Tayeb Al Awadhi. “As a responsible corporate citizen, we are committed to sustainable principles. Moreover, the project is closely aligned with our corporate emphasis on continuous improvement through innovation.”

According to Sheerwind, its INVELOX technology offers high-performance, cost-efficient wind energy. When compared to average wind turbine technology:

  • Produces 600% more electrical energy (kWh)
  • Operates at wind speeds as low as 1 mile per hour
  • Reduces installation capital cost to less that $750 per KW
  • 90% less land use than traditional wind power generation utilities
  • Increases energy production capacity to record high of 72%
  • No harm to humans, animals, or flying creatures

Steve Hill, COO of SheerWind, added, “This installation is very exciting for SheerWind. We see this as the beginning of a great partnership with a company that is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and finding ways to make a difference globally. This partnership will assist in SheerWind’s mission to provide affordable, clean, electrical energy to anyone—anywhere.”

LA Rooftop Solar Program Shining Bright

According to a report from J.R. DeShazo, director of UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, Los Angeles’ new rooftop solar energy program is delivering on its goal of cost-effective, clean power to thousands of electricity customers. The report also finds that the program should be expanded. Under the feed-in-tariff (FiT) program, electric power generated by solar rooftop installations on office and retail buildings, warehouses and apartment complexes is soldclean solar LA first project to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) for use by its residential and business customers.

After numerous interviews with primary stakeholders, including solar developers and participating property owners, the UCLA researchers evaluated the initial two phases of the program, representing about 40 megawatts (MW) of solar power. These two allocations received a total of 256 program applications. Based on the rollout, the research team concluded that the “FiT 100″ is on track to deliver 100 MW of carbon-free energy by 2015 – enough to power more than 21,000 homes annually.

The report also finds the program is on track to deliver on the jobs, economic and sustainability goals outlined when city officials approved the program in 2012. And the cost of power – averaging 15 cents per kilowatt-hour – is lower than any other similar FiT program in North America.

“The Los Angeles Business Council has been one of the strongest advocates for a viable feed-in-tariff program to produce 100 megawatts of solar electricity,” said L.A. City Council member Mitchell Englander. “Together the City of Los Angeles and the LABC have made great strides towards our efforts to reduce the City’s dependency on coal, moving away from centralized generation toward a more distributed model while creating thousands of local jobs in the process. Although the first and second tranches were successful, this study highlights an opportunity to make the process more user-friendly and cost-efficient in the future.”

In addition to clear environmental benefits, the installation of the first 40 megawatts is on course to generate 862 jobs, and the full 100 MW program is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs – 1,370 direct jobs plus 785 more indirectly related to the program, according to the UCLA study. The FiT 100 is also expected to deliver approximately $300 million in direct investment in the City of Los Angeles by solar companies and other businesses involved in the program. Once the full FiT 100 program is in place, the UCLA research team estimates that as many as 2.7 million tons of greenhouse gases will be displaced from the environment every year. Continue reading

Green Charge Networks Help Save Green

Green Charge Networks can help retail chain customers and city municipalities save some green. The company, which specializes in intelligent energy storage, has signed agreements for 1 MW of energy storage with several organizations that are looking to reduce their electricity bills via smart grid technologies.

GreenStationFor example, it is common in California and New York City for business to pay 40 percent or more for their monthly electric bill in “demand charges” based on their electricity use during peak times. To reduce these costs, Green Charge Network uses its GreenStation technology. It works by collecting utility and weather data to predict peak use and store energy accordingly.

7-Eleven stores have been using GCN’s GreenStation successfully for the past two years. One 7-Eleven GreenStation in New York endured Hurricane Sandy and then went on to save the business 56 percent on their electricity bills during the 2013 summer heat wave. Green Charge Networks is adding to its list of customers including 7-Eleven, Walgreens, office buildings, community colleges, and municipalities, adding up to 1 MW as listed on the DOE’s Global Energy Storage Database.

“It is a big accomplishment to our company to help businesses and local governments use power more efficiently,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge Networks. “1 MW marks a very significant milestone for Green Charge Networks as we continue to diversify our customer base and increase our penetration in the rapidly growing intelligent energy storage market. Energy efficiency initiatives can only take us so far. The era of power efficiency using advanced software is the next frontier in energy savings.”

It is no secret that America’s aging grid needs to be reborn. Yet with the billions, if not trillions, of dollars it would take to accomplish this and ongoing fights on who should pay for the updates (utilities/consumers or state and federal governments) smart grid technologies can help immediately reduce electricity demand on the overstressed grid.

Experts also say that they are also a good tool in both climate change adaptation and mitigation. Green Charge Networks points out that GreenStation is designed to withstand storms as fierce as Hurricane Sandy or temperatures as extreme as the recent polar vortex. In addition, Green Charge Networks says if smart grid technologies like GreenStation were implemented nationally they could save the energy equivalent of 4,000 coal plants per year.

Crescent Solar Energy Project Commissioned

SolarReserve has confirmed that the 110 megawatt (MW) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project located near Tonopah, Nevada, has entered the plant commissioning phase. According to the company, Crescent Dunes is the first utility-scale facility in the world to feature advanced molten salt power tower energy storage capabilities. The Crescent Dunes Project is more than five times the capacity output of pilot projects that have previously tested this technology.

Due to the result of the advanced energy storage technology, the 110 MW project will generate more than 500,000 megawatt-hours per year, enough to power 75,000 homes during peak electricity periods. This annual output, says the company, is more than twice that of other technologies per MW of capacity, such as photovoltaics (PV) or direct steam solar thermal. The storage technology also eliminates the need for any backup fossil fuels, such as natural gas, which are needed with other technologies to keep the system going during times of no or low solar resource. Nevada’s largest electric utility, NV Energy, will purchase 100 percent of the electricity generated, under a 25-year power purchase agreemenSOLARRESERVE CRESCENT DUNESt. Full commercial operation is scheduled for later in 2014.

Commissioning is the initial stage of bringing the project into operations and includes system-by-system verification and startup, as well as equipment calibration and testing. Commissioning activities underway at Crescent Dunes include energization of the utility interconnection system and other electrical systems, as well as the first stages of testing and calibration of the heliostat field. This heliostat field is comprised of more than 10,000 “billboard-sized” mirrors that track the sun and total more than 1 million square meters of glass.

“Start of commissioning of the Crescent Dunes solar power plant marks a critical milestone for the project as well as the solar industry. We are now able to build utility-scale power plants, fueled only by the sun, which operate on-demand, day and night, just like traditional fossil fuel or nuclear power plants,” said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “SolarReserve’s industry-leading solar thermal energy storage technology solves the intermittency issue that limits the use of other renewable energy projects and thus enables firm, reliable delivery of electricity whether or not the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.”

SolarReserve’s energy storage technology at the Crescent Dunes plant is their techology showcase. They say it is a realistic solar energy solution that operates day and night like coal, natural gas, oil, diesel and nuclear plants, but without the harmful emissions or hazardous wastes associated those traditional plants. Additionally, Crescent Dunes includes the capability to dry cool the steam cycle, an environmentally friendly low water use feature that will saves millions of gallons of water each year. Once operational, the 110 MW Crescent Dunes plant will be the world’s largest solar thermal plant with fully integrated energy storage.

U.S. Utlility-Scale Solar 60% to Goal

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.

Falling Price of US Utility Solar CostsThe 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.

Clean Energy for Resilient Communities

“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.

Clean Energy for Resilient Communities“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.

Deepwater Wind Selects Alstom Technology

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 ALSTOM HALIADEoperated 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.

Smithfield’s Renewable Energy Commitment Tangible

Smithfield Foods commitment to renewable energy is showing tangible results according to the company. During the past several years, the company has been monitoring scientific advancements that have removed barriers to efficiently and sustainably create renewable energy from agricultural waste, in particular the use of anaerobic digestion processes that covert decomposing organic matter, such as hog manure, into renewable energy.

“The bottom line is that our company’s commitment to creating renewable energy is about to produce some very tangible and beneficial results,” said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods.

cute pigsPope noted that two Smithfield Foods strategic partnerships at Murphy-Brown LLC facilities in northern Missouri and Milford, Utah, involving anaerobic digestion technology are seeing results and the projects will soon deliver electricity to neighboring communities.

“Our Missouri and Utah projects are a classic win-win. We will considerably reduce the greenhouse effects on the Earth’s atmosphere by recycling agricultural waste, help to protect our natural resources and provide a more environmentally friendly energy source,” Pope said.

In northern Missouri, Murphy-Brown of Missouri, LLC (MBM) and Roeslein Alternative Energy, LLC, have announced joint plans to develop a $100 million renewable biogas project. Biogas produces energy when organic matter decomposes without oxygen present. The biogas will be harvested from MGM finishing farms in northern Missouri and construction is set to begin this spring.

In addition, the company’s project Milford, Utah, is ramping up. Murphy-Brown’s
Circle 4 Farms will be producing electricity via two methane digesters. In this project, manure will be converted to energy and as a result, the manure, or solid waste, will no longer be stored in lagoons.

Pope added, “Our manure-to-energy projects are just another step in our sustainability
journey.”

Sustainable Poplar Plantation Provides Biofuels Biomass

The GreenWood Tree Farm Fund, LP (GTFF), managed by GreenWood Resources, has become the first short rotation forest plantation worldwide to earn certification under the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). The RSB certification covers GTFF’s cultivation, management and harvesting of coppiced poplar trees, used as biomass feedstock for the cellulosic ethanol industry or pelletized for direct combustion in biomass electric plants. The certification was conducted by SCS Global Services (SCS), a world leader in third-party sustainability certification.

“Biomass from trees is an ideal solution for generating renewable fuels and chemicals while reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” said Jeff Nuss, President & CEO of GreenWood Resources (GWR). “GWR’s high-yield, short-rotation tree farms need less fertilizer and less energy to produce than traditional row crops, and they produce greater energy output per unit of production. We take our sustainability mission very seriously and are proud to have received the RSB designation.”

Poplar_GreenWoodResources_AutumnWebSCS audited the Boardman, Oregon tree farm to RSB standards jointly with GWR’s annual Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification renewal. Combined, these two certifications recognize GreenWood’s efforts to maintain biodiversity, protect water resources, account for greenhouse gas emissions, treat workers fairly, and benefit the community.

“While biofuels for both transportation and energy production offer promise as an alternative to fossil fuels, production of its raw material can have a major impact on land, air, and water resources,” said Neil Mendenhall, Manager of Supply Chain Services at SCS. “GreenWood Resources is demonstrating a sustainable approach to the production of biomaterials that has a greatly reduced environmental impact.”

Rolf Hogan, Executive Director of RSB added, “RSB is pleased that GWR has demonstrated the sustainability of its biomass feedstock production sufficient to earn certification. GreenWood is a great example of a short-rotation tree farm that can reach the highest level of sustainability.”

Despite Record Offshore Wind Projects, Industry Slows

Despite record offshore wind energy projects coming online in 2013, a recent report shows that new projects have slowed. Last year, 418 offshore turbines came online in Europe making a record 1,567 Megawatts (MW) of new capacity. This is one-third more than the capacity installed in 2012.

This makes a new total of 6,562 MW of offshore wind power – enough to provide 0.7 percent of the EU’s electricity.

European Offshore Wind in 2013However, the report finds that when taking a closer look at what happened, there was a slow-down during the year: two-thirds of the new capacity came online in the first six months. With 11 projects now under construction, down from 14 this time last year, market and regulatory stability is critical to bringing forward the 22,000 MW of consented projects across Europe.

“The unclear political support for offshore wind energy – especially in key offshore wind markets like the UK and Germany – has led to delays to planned projects and fewer new projects being launched,” said Justin Wilkes, Deputy CEO at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “This means installations are likely to plateau until 2015, followed by a decline as from 2016.”

Wilkes added, “An ambitious decision on a 2030 renewable energy target by the Heads of State in March would be the right signal to send to the offshore wind sector that Europe will develop its massive offshore wind potential for green growth, jobs, industrialisation, technological leadership and CO2 reductions.”

In 2013 Siemens was the leading turbine supplier (69%), DONG Energy the leading developer (48%), and Bladt the leading substructure supplier (37%), as they were in 2012.

First Magma-Enhanced Geothermal System Created

During the Icelandic Deep Drilling (IDDP) project that began in 2009, a borehole drilled at Krafla in northeast Iceland unexpectedly hit magma at 2100 meters with a temperature of 900-1000 Celsius. This borehole was the first of several wells being drilled in search of high-temperature geothermal resources.

IDDP-1 in IcelandFast forward four years later and the efforts of the IDDP project were reported in the January 2014 issue of the International journal of Geothermics. One paper focusing on this project was co-authored by Wilfred Elders, a professor emeritus of geology at the University of California, Riverside, along with several of his Icelandic colleagues.

“Drilling into magma is a very rare occurrence anywhere in the world and this is only the second known instance, the first one, in 2007, being in Hawaii,” Elders explained. “The IDDP, in cooperation with Iceland’s National Power Company, the operator of the Krafla geothermal power plant, decided to investigate the hole further and bear part of the substantial costs involved.”

Once the magma was hit, the team inserted a steel casing in the bottom section closest to the magma and cemented it into the well. The hole was then allowed to heat slowly and eventually allowed to flow superheated steam for the next two years, until July 2012, when it was shut down in order to replace some of the surface equipment.

“In the future, the success of this drilling and research project could lead to a revolution in the energy efficiency of high-temperature geothermal areas worldwide,” Elders said. Continue reading

Study Finds U.S. Solar Jobs Grew 20% in 2013

The Solar Foundation (TSF) has released its fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census, which found that the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013. This figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar jobs over the previous year, representing a 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012. Solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same period.

TSF National Solar Jobs Census Graphic“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” said Andrea Luecke, Executive Director and President of TSF. “The industry has grown an astounding 53 percent in the last four years alone, adding nearly 50,000 jobs. Our Census findings show that for the fourth year running, solar jobs remain well-paid and attract highly-skilled workers. That growth is putting people back to work and helping local economies.”

The good news was mentioned by President Obama in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 and he has been vocal in his support of clean energy in including solar.

Solar employers are also optimistic about 2014, expecting to add another 22,000 jobs over the coming year. By comparison, over the same time period, the fossil fuel electric generation sector shrank by more than 8,500 jobs (a decline of 8.7 percent) and jobs in coal mining grew by just 0.25 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Survey.

“This is an exciting time for the solar industry in the United States, made even more clear by the latest industry job figures,” commented U.S. Energy Secretary Ernst Moniz.  “According to the Solar Foundation, today there are more than 140,000 Americans employed up and down the U.S. solar supply chain and across every state. Since 2010, the solar industry has created nearly 50,000 new American jobs and employment has grown nearly 20 percent in the last year alone.”

“President Obama has set an ambitious goal to double electricity generation from renewable sources once again by 2020, and a vibrant U.S. workforce is vital to achieving this, Moniz added. The DOE has a solar program known as the SunShot Initiative to help support the future of the solar industry. “To support a growing workforce and a new generation of clean energy leaders, the Energy Department is providing training and education opportunities for engineers, utility workers and students, as well as supporting projects across the country to ensure America’s continued leadership in clean energy innovation.”

Largest Solar-Thermal Plant in Chile Announced

Abengoa has been selected by the Ministry of Energy of the Chilean Government and Corfo (Corporacion de Fomento de la Produccion) to develop a 110 MW solar plant using tower technology with 17.5 hours of thermal energy storage using molten salts. The project will be located in the Atacama Desert, the region, believed to have the highest solar radiation concentrations in the world. It will be the first solar-thermal plant for direct electricity production in South America.

Abengoa solar thermal plantAbengoa’s project won the international tender launched by the Chilean Ministry of Energy and Corfo to construct the first Concentrated Solar Power plant in Latin America. As part of this tender, the project will receive direct subsidies from the Chilean Government and the European Union, as well as financing from the Inter-American Development Bank, KFW Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau, the Clean Technology Fund and Canadian Fund.

Solar-thermal tower technology uses a series of mirrors (heliostats) that track the sun on two axes, concentrating the solar radiation on a receiver on the upper part of the tower where the heat is transferred to the molten salts. The salts then transfer their heat in a heat exchanger to a water current to generate superheated and reheated steam, which feeds a turbine capable of generating around 110 MW of power.

The solar plant will also have a pioneering thermal storage system with 17.5 hours of storage that has been designed and developed by Abengoa. The company explains this approach makes the technology highly manageable, enabling it to supply electricity in a stable way, 24 hours a day, responding to all periods of electricity demand.

Abengoa’s new project will be located in the commune of Maria Elena in the Antofagasta region, northern Chile. The project forms part of Chile’s national renewable energy program, intended to provide Chile with a cleaner energy future, while also promoting its economic development and reducing its dependency on coal and natural gas. Chile has set a target to produce 20% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2025.

Construction of the project is due to start in the second half of 2014.

EIA Seeks Renewable Energy Comments

eiaThe U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is seeking input on proposed changes to electric power and renewable energy data surveys. EIA is soliciting comments on the proposed changes in a Federal Register Notice.

The proposed changes involve the following surveys:
• Form EIA-63B, Annual Photovoltaic Cell/Module Shipments Report
• Form EIA-411, Coordinated Bulk Power Supply Program Report
• Form EIA-826, Monthly Electric Utility Sales and Revenue Report with State

Distributions
• Form EIA-860, Annual Electric Generator Report
• Form EIA-860M, Monthly Update to the Annual Electric Generator Report
• Form EIA-861, Annual Electric Power Industry Report
• Form EIA-861S, Annual Electric Power Industry Report (Short Form)
• Form EIA-923, Power Plant Operations Report
• Form EIA-930, Hourly and Daily Balancing Authority Operations Report

The proposals were announced to the public via a Federal Register Notice (FRN) published March 6, 2013. Interested parties were given 60 days to submit their comments. EIA received comments from 44 organizations or individuals. EIA reviewed all comments and made certain changes to the original proposals in response to the comments. EIA’s responses to comments can be found in the Supporting Statement posted at EIA’s 2014 Forms Changes webpage.

As part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance process, a second Federal Register Notice was published on Tuesday, December 24, 2013. The publication of this notice opens a second and final comment period that is open for 30 days. Written comments are due by Thursday, January 23, 2014.