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).

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.

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.”

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.”

ICF Int’l Assesses True Value of Solar

ICF Intl True Value of Solar White PaperICF International recently released a white paper that aims to better create a methodology for assessing the true value of solar. Authored by Steven Fine, Ankit Saraf, Kiran Kumaraswany and Alex Anich, the paper looks at the current state of value of solar (VOS) analysis and proposes what they believe to be a more holistic approach – one that can be uniformly applied across various utility service areas.

The report offers several methodological approaches on potential VOS components including energy, avoided/deferred generation capacity, avoided transmission and distribution losses and capacity, grid support services, environmental costs and benefits and security.

After review and consideration of various methodologies, the authors lay out a roadmap for achieving a better consensus VOS and suggest their new VOS calculation could be an input in calculating the retail credit net energy metering (NEM) subsidy under a Value of Solar Tariff (VOST). They also believe the new calculation could be used to guide largeer investment and market decisions for utilities, regulators and the broader solar industry.

Click here to read the free white paper.

OwnEnergy Completes Windthorst II Wind Farm

OwnEnergy has completed the Windthorst II Wind farm located in Windthorst, Texas. The project was developed by OwnEnergy while Mortenson Construction was responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction of the project including erecting 28 Siemens turbines.

gI_161038_Windthorst-2-photo“Completing construction on the Windthorst II wind project, which is our sixth wind farm to spin and our seventh completed project overall, is a major milestone for OwnEnergy,” said OwnEnergy Founder and CEO Jacob Susman. “We are proud to demonstrate our construction and asset management capabilities with the completion of Windthorst II. What’s more, we are thrilled to work with BlackRock and Mortensen to bring clean, cost-competitive wind energy to Texas. We appreciate the long-term support from the community leaders and residents of Archer County, and we are looking forward to continuing our commitment to Texas’s clean energy economy.”

The Windthorst II project is the 26th wind facility Mortenson has built in Texas out of 140 wind energy projects.

“We are very pleased to have entered into a relationship with OwnEnergy as they continue to grow their wind portfolio and make their mark in the industry,” said Tim Maag, VP and general manager of Mortenson’s Wind Energy Group. “We applaud their growing commitment to building projects with local ownership.”

Wetzel Blade Wins Clean Energy Award

Wetzel Blade was awarded a 2014 Clean Energy Venture Award during the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s NREL Industry Growth Forum. The company won the honor for its work on a pre-fabricated, field-assembled turbine blade that boosts production capacity and outlasts current generation composite blades. The start-up company will receive in-kind commercialization support designed to help increase its chances of becoming commercially successful.

According to Wetzel Blade, the new blade technology is based on a space frame design and features independently fabricated Wetzel Blade Awardpultruded FRP spars. The parts are sized for easy transport and field-assembly, in similar fashion to high reliability military equipment.

According to Kyle Wetzel, CTO/Founder of Wetzel Blade and a well-published expert in wind blade design, “This concept emerged from a project that our parent company, Wetzel Engineering, was involved with in China. We were engineering a 100-meter blade for a 10MW turbine and wanted to eliminate shell panel buckling as a design driver. The balsa requirements presented another challenge – almost 10,000 kg of this expensive core material absorbing ~6,000kg of epoxy.”

Wetzel noted that 3-5 percent of total installed cost of each turbine is logged to transportation. However, their technology reduces these costs. The company is currently in the structural testing phase with plans to demonstrate a sub-scale prototype in early 2015. The project has been partially funded through an SBIR/STTR award from the DOE.

“Because of our involvement with the entire turbine lifecycle, we understand that to make a real shift in the economics, a blade design must generate more electricity, cost less to build and maintain, and be more efficient to transport and install,” added Webzel. “The industry is hungry for a solution that delivers on all those points.”

Iberdrola Opens West of Duddon Sands Wind Farm

ScottishPower Renewables, Iberdrola USA’s sister company, has opened its first offshore wind farm, West of Duddon Sands, a 389 MW facility located in the Irish Sea. The $2.6 billion project, located approximately 12.5 miles off the seaport of Barrow-in-Furness in North West England, was completed in conjunction with Dong Energy of Denmark.

“West of Duddon Sands is the first offshore wind farm in the U.K. to use such advanced construction methods,” said Ignacio Galan, Iberdrola chairman during a grand opening ceremony. “The combination of two highly sophisticated installation vessels working in tandem, and the support of the excellent fabrication facilities at Belfast, Northern Ireland, made this one of the most efficient offshore projects ever delivered in the U.K.”

West of Duddon Sands offshore wind farmThe wind farm consists of 108 Siemens turbines that are connected through a 125-mile web of undersea cable in a 26 square mile area of the Irish Sea. The wind farm will produce enough energy to meet the annual electricity demands of nearly 200,000 homes.

“Building the West of Duddon Sands wind farm was a significant engineering challenge,” said Bob Kump, chief corporate officer of Iberdrola USA. “There is value in the achievement beyond the immediate benefits of this project. We will share the knowledge we gained among Iberdrola companies like ours and throughout the industry to help advance the technology and cost competitiveness of future offshore wind projects.”

According to Iberdrola, two big offshore wind energy innovations helped reduce the cost of the project:

  • A new $80 million, custom-designed offshore wind terminal built at Belfast Harbor. The terminal employs up to 300 workers and can operate around the clock for continual delivery of turbine and foundation components to the farm.
  • Two of the world’s largest and most advanced installation vessels: Pacific Orca and Sea Installer. Using the two vessels in tandem enabled construction crews to install all the foundations and turbine components during one of the most stormy winters in recent history.

Energy generated by the project connects to an offshore substation that boosts the voltage then routes it through two export cables to the onshore substation at Heysham where it enters the U.K. national grid.

SolarReserve Flips the Switch on South African Solar Project

Jasper Solar Power ProjectSolarReserve has flipped the switch on what they call the largest solar project in South Africa. The 96 MW Jasper solar power project completed construction two months early and is producing at full capacity. The solar farm is located in South Africa’s Northern Cape in a solar park that also includes the 75 MW Lesedi solar power project which came online in May, and the proposed 100 MW Redstone concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) plant featuring SolarReserve’s CSP technology with integrated energy storage.

As part of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP), the project will set aside a percentage of total project revenues for Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development for the benefit of the local communities.

“In addition to helping South Africa meet its critical electricity needs, the Jasper Project will bring long lasting economic benefits to the region,” said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “We look forward to continuing this positive momentum and bringing value to South Africa through collaboration on further projects, including our upcoming CSP projects that will provide South Africa with clean, reliable and non-intermittent electricity, day and night.”

With over 325,000 PV modules, the Jasper Project will deliver 180,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity annually for South Africa residents – enough to power up to 80,000 households through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eskom, the South African power utility company. Selected by the South Africa Department of Energy (DOE) in the second round of bids under the REIPPPP, the project also marked Google’s first renewable energy investment in Africa.

Gaelectric Opens Dunbeg Wind Farm

Gaelectric has begun producing power at its £58 million Dunbeg Wind Farm, which is located between Limavady and Coleraine in Northern Ireland. Dunbeg is one of the largest wind farms constructed on the island of Ireland. The 42 MW wind farm comprises 14 Enercon wind turbines (Model E82, each with the capacity to generate up to 3 MW) with a maximum tip height of 125 metres. It will generate sufficient renewable power to meet the electricity demand of nearly 24,000 homes on an annual basis.

Brendan McGrath, Gaelectric Group CEO, said, “Dunbeg marks a major milestone for our business and further strengthens Gaelectric’s platform within the Single Electricity Market (SEM) on the island of Ireland. Our total permitted portfolio now stands at 140 MWs in Northern Ireland and represGaelectric Opens £58 Million Dunbeg Wind Farm in Irelandents a total investment of approximately £170 million. This consolidates Gaelectric’s position as the largest indigenous renewable energy company in Northern Ireland.”

“Gaelectric has been progressing an ambitious wind energy development programme in Ireland, the United States centered on the State of Montana, and in energy storage utilising compressed air energy storage (CAES) technology in our CAES Project near Larne in Northern Ireland,” added McGrath. “The launch of Dunbeg is a fitting way to mark our 10 years in existence and a tribute to our internal team and our technology and funding partners who have made this happen.”

In the last three years, Gaelectric has secured planning approval for nine Northern Ireland Wind Farm developments, including Dunbeg. The company’s first operational Wind Farm in Northern Ireland, the £20 million Carn Hill Wind Farm located in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim was officially opened in May 2013. Gaelectric plans to commission its remaining seven NI Wind Farm projects by 2017.

U.S. Renewable Energy Industry Ready to Step Up

A new goal was announced during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing this week to double renewable energy in the 21 member economies by 2030. The renewable energy industry collectively came out and said they are ready to do their part. This new goal was a follow-up to last year’s commitment to encourage technology transfer and efforts to lower costs and attract private investment to the renewable energy industry.

“We appreciate the leadership that President Obama and the rest of these world leaders are showing on the critical task of rapidly scaling up low-carbon energy sources,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Here in America, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Vision for the growth of our industry, we can quadruple wind power by 2030 and save consumers money doing it, if policymakers keep supporting state renewable standards and federal tax incentives to attract the necessary private investment.”

Linda Church Ciocci, executive director, National Hydropower Association said on behalf of the hydro electric industry, “Hydropower is poised for growth and ready to meet America’s renewable energy goals. From powering the 97 percent of the nation’s dams that remain unpowered to upgrading our existing facilities, opportunities exist to double hydropower’s contribution to the electricity grid, while strengthening our economy and providing more Americans access to clean, low-cost electricity.”

“GEA applauds the APEC goal of doubling renewable power,” added Karl Gawell, executive director, Geothermal Energy Association. “New geothermal power development underway in the U.S. and nearly all of the APEC countries will provide more than electricity, building thousands of megawatts of new geothermal power will spur economic growth, create new jobs and ensure environmental health for future generations.”

The highlight of the summit was a surprise negotiated emissions deal between the U.S. and China to curb climate change. The deal includes new targets for the U.S. and China to stop emission growth by 2030 and to create momentum around climate talks leading into the global climate conference taking place in Paris in 2015. Continue reading

CanWEA Welcomes Wind Policy

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is welcoming the initiative that the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Pierre Arcand, has announced to develop a new energy policy in Quebec. The organization has sent a message to Arcand that they are willing and ready to work the the Quebec government, industry and the new wind energy task force to review and strengthen the region’s wind energy policy.

windfacts-banner-superhero“There are many challenges that will need to be overcome in energy,” said Jean-François Nolet, Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs at CanWEA. “We must find a balance between developing the energy sources we need to support economic development, the costs of these projects and protecting the environment, while maintaining strong partnerships with host communities. We are convinced that wind energy can help play an important role in reaching these goals.”

According to CanWEA, the Quebec wind industry employees 5,000 people and has generated $10 billion in investments over the last 10 years. The organization believes that wind energy can and should play a key role in Quebec’s next energy policy that will guide energy decisions for the coming decade.

Nolet added, “Today, Quebec is a leader in energy thanks to the government’s vision, whether during the development of large hydroelectric projects or the very first wind projects. We must continue down this path and remain at the forefront by reaffirming our leadership in this area.”

UC Riverside Opens New Solar Farm

UC Riverside has opened a new solar farm that will produce up to 6.6 million megawatt hours of electricity each year making it the largest solar array in the University of California system. The project supports the system-wide initiative to have each campus produce up to 10 MW of onsite renewable power by 2014.

UCR signed a 20-year power purchase agreement that allowed the SunPower Corporation to construct, operate and maintain the facility, with the university purchasing the power. UCR spent $350,000 on site clearing and preparation, as well as uc riverside solar farminterconnections costs with the existing substation. The projected savings to the university is $4.3 million over the length of the contract. UCR will also receive carbon and LEED credits that provide additional financial and environmental savings.

The solar farm went online as scheduled on Friday, Sept. 19, 2104. It has 7,440 panels across the 11-acre site using GPS tracking to slowly follow the sun across the sky. The massive sea of shiny panels is visible from Highway 60 as thousands of cars pass the campus.

“This is a big step forward, and we plan to do more,” said John Cook, director of the UCR’s Office of Sustainability. “On a hot and sunny day we will be producing nearly a third of UCR’s total energy needs with this system. But over the course of the year, with variable weather, it will amount to 3 percent of our total energy needs.” He added that Riverside’s typical sunny climate will make UCR an especially efficient place to invest in solar technology.