DOE’s Moniz Congrats Abengoa on Cellulosic Plant

US Energy Secretary Ernst MonizDepartment of Energy Secretary Ernst Moniz was on hand to help Abengoa Bioenergy celebrate the grand opening of its cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas. With a beautiful day and a full house, excitement was high as Moniz took the stage to congratulate Abengoa’s achievement.

The $500 million biorefinery was supported, in part, by a DOE loan guarantee. Moniz began his remarks by putting the bioenergy plant in perspective of the larger picture and that is as part of President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy.

Moniz said the cellulosic ethanol plant serves three major objectives:

  1. Growing the economy – creating jobs.
  2. Advancing our energy security interests. No only for the United States alone, but also for our allies and friends.
  3. Moving towards the low carbon economy- addressing climate change.

Moniz also noted the importance of the innovation chain, “…and what we’re seeing to today is part of that…But if we’re going to kick start this, we have to work with the private sector with state and local governments with our research institutions and laboratories to get these technologies deployed and drive those costs down to be competitive continued Moniz. So this plant shows all of these features.”

He said that while there will be a few rough spots along the road, what the country is seeing today is the beginning of a new industry.

Listen to Energy Secretary Moniz’s complete comments here:

Listen to Energy Secretary Moniz’s remarks: Energy Secretary Moniz Remarks

Check out the Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Grand Opening photo album.

East Kansas’ Jeff Oestmann Featured on Car Clinic

Bobby Likis Car ClinicThe ethanol industry was well represented on the nationally syndicated car-talk program “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” when Bobby Likis spoke with East Kansas Agri-Energy’s President and CEO Jeff Oestmann. The show aired Saturday, October 11, 2014 and the two ethanol advocates chatted about local, regional and national issues surrounding ethanol production.

Oestmann, whose career spans 20 years in the bioenergy and grain processing industries, currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) & Kansas Association of Ethanol Producers. During the program, Oestmann discussed the consumer benefits of ethanol production and its impact on local communities and the U.S. economy. Oestmann is a non-commissioned officer who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 11 years, including service in the USMC’s elite Embassy Guard.

Jeff Oestmann East Kansas Agri-Energy“I have a question slate lined up for Jeff that addresses ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the U.S economy, engine performance and national security. Consumers – and American citizens – need to hear the message,” said Likis.

Oestmann shared many facts during the program. “We use cutting edge technology at East Kansas Agri-Energy to produce high-quality ethanol that helps consumers save an average of $1.00 per gallon at the gas station and also benefits our environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We put a high priority on innovation, and the biofuels we produce – including next generation renewable diesel – help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, which in turn bolsters America’s national security.”

Click here to listen to Oestmann’s interview.

Abengoa Yield’s Solana Solar Project Wins Award

Abengoa Yield has announced that Solana, its Arizona-based solar power plant, received the Energy Storage North America (ESNA) Innovation Award in the Utility-Scale category. WinnersAbengoa Yield Solana solar field were announced on October 1st, 2014, at the ESNA Innovation Awards ceremony in San Jose, California. Winners were chosen by the ESNA Advisory Board and votes on social media.

According to the company, Solana is the largest solar parabolic trough plant in the world. Located near Gila Bend, Arizona, it has a total installed capacity of 280 megawatts. With a six-hour molten-salt thermal energy storage capacity, it supplies clean energy to Arizona Public Service (APS), Arizona’s largest utility, meeting peaks of demand before dawn and after dusk.

Intermittency issues are a signficant hurdle with renewable energy such as solar. Using solar thermal energy coupled with molten salt elimates this issue according to the company. The storage component also increases dispatchability in
the power generation process, creating systems which can operate flexibly both with and without solar radiation.

The company explains that Solana’s parabolic trough collectors track the sun and concentrate sunlight onto receiver tubes located at a focal point of each collector. A heat transfer fluid (HTF) is heated as it circulates inside the tubes and is then circulated back to a central power plant. The HTF then passes through a series of heat exchangers to produce superheated steam that is used to generate clean electricity in a conventional steam turbine generator.

Martifer Solar Closes Contracts

Martifer Solar, a subsidiary of Martifer SGPS, has added close to 90 MW of new third party O&M contracts throughout Italy. According to the company, they have been able to distinguish its O&M Service capabilities in Italy by leveraging a resourceful and qualified local O&M staff, the company´s high quality processes and systems integration, such as its award-winning Operation Management System, and its global industry expertise.

Henrique Rodrigues, CEO of Martifer Solar, said, “We are proud when Clients such as DIF and Eland rely on our O&M team to complement their Asset Management services as it demonstrates that the market is recognizing our strength and reliability as a global O&M Service provider.”

MTS_OM_Italy_PR_1With this recent achievement from the Italian team, Martifer Solar´s global solar O&M portfolio has grown to more than 550 MW of plants under supervision across Europe, Asia and the Americas. The portfolio is comprised of both plants completed by third parties and those built by Martifer Solar.

David Lau, Associate Director of DIF who has contracted with Martifer Solar, said, “As our strategy is focused on targeting investments that generate predictable, long-term and stable cash flows, we need to count on a credible and trusted partner like Martifer Solar to provide operation and maintenance services for our assets.”

The recent addition to the Italian portfolio will strengthen Martifer Solar´s pace as the third largest vertically-integrated O&M player in Europe, as named by recognized research firm, Greentech Media Research. “As we have done here in Italy, as well as other European markets such as Spain, France and the UK, we expect to double the capacity of our O&M portfolio in the near future,” added Rodrigues.

UK Supports Ocean Energy Development

Leaders in Europe (UK) are supporting ocean renewable energy and announced their commitment to accelerate the development during the Ocean Energy Europe 2014 that took place in Paris, France this week. Ministers from France, the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Greece all highlighted European collaboration as the key to commercialization. Industrial heavyweights such as DCNS, GDF SUEZ, Alstom and Siemens also fielded senior representatives to outline their plans for ocean energy deployments.

Speaking at the event, Dr Sian George, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe, said: “Ocean energy will play a big role in decarbonising and securing Europe’s energy supply. Today showed that European political and industrial leaders will do whatever it takes to turn ocean energy into a fully-fledged commercial sector. The industry will work with the EU and its Member States to get as much kit in the water as possible before 2020, with full commercial roll-out following after.”

Ocean waves crash along an icy winter shoreline Photo @RedkingScottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing added of the effort: “Scotland is blessed with a wealth of natural resources and is at the forefront of developing marine energy technology thanks to an abundance of ocean resource and world-leading test facilities at the European Marine Energy Centre. However, to make wave and tidal stream technologies viable and cost effective is going to take the best engineers and the best brains from across Europe. We see a collaborative model as the way forward and the time has come for this industry to unite. The Scottish Government is committed to working with its partners from across the European Union to support the development and commercialisation of the ocean energy industry and allow Europe’s ocean energy sector to stay ahead in the race.”

Next year’s event will be held in Dublin, Ireland as announced by the Irish Energy Minister Alex White. “I very much welcome the opportunity that this Ocean Energy Annual Conference has given for so many key stakeholders to come together. International collaboration is key to understanding and overcoming the challenges the ocean energy sector faces to realising its commercial potential. To that end I am delighted to announce that Ireland will be hosting the 2015 Annual Ocean Energy Europe Conference in Dublin.”

Renewables Outpacing Nuclear

According to a recent Vital Signs, renewable energy is outpacing nuclear electricity expansion even though renewables still have a long way to go to catch up with fossil fuel power plants. Michael Renner, senior researcher with Worldwatch Institute writes that nuclear energy’s share of global power production has declined steadily from a peak of 17.6 percent in 1996 to 10.8 percent in 2013. Renewables increased their share from 18.7 percent in 2000 to 22.7 percent in 2012.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, following a rapid rise from its beginnings in the mid-1950s, global nuclear power generating capacity peaked at 375.3 gigawatts (GW) in 2010. Capacity has since declined to 371.8 GW in 2013. Adverse economics, concern about reactor safety and proliferation and the unresolved question of what to do with nuclear waste have put the brakes on the industry according to Renner.

Vital Signs - NuclearIn contrast, wind and solar power generating capacities are now on the same soaring trajectory that nuclear power was on in the 1970s and 1980s. Wind capacity of 320 GW in 2013 is equivalent to nuclear capacity in 1990. The 140 GW in solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is still considerably smaller, but growing rapidly.

In recent years, renewable energy has attracted far greater investments than nuclear power. According to estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA), nuclear investments averaged US$8 billion per year between 2000 and 2013, compared with $37 billion for solar PV and $43 billion for wind. Individual countries, of course, set diverging priorities, but nowhere did nuclear have a major role in power generation investments.

In contrast with investment priorities, research budgets still favor nuclear technologies. Nuclear energy attracted $295 billion, or 51 percent, of total energy R&D spending between 1974 and 2012. But this number has declined over time, from a high of 73.6 percent in 1974 to 26 percent today. Renewable energy received a cumulative total of $59 billion during the same period (10.2 percent), but its share has risen year after year. Because wind and solar power can be deployed at variable scales, and their facilities constructed in less time, these technologies are far more practical and affordable for most countries than nuclear power reactors. Worldwide, 31 countries are operating nuclear reactors on their territories. This compares to at least 85 countries that have commercial wind turbine installations.

The chances of a nuclear revival seem slim writes Renner. Renewable energy, by contrast, appears to be on the right track. But it is clear that renewables have a long way to go before they can hope to supplant fossil fuels as the planet’s principal electricity source.

Largest Vermont Solar Farm Completed

AllEarth Renewables and Claire Solar Partners have announced the completion of a 2.2MW solar tracker farm in South Burlington, Vt. According to the companies, it’s the largest solar project in North America to feature distributed inverters and dual-axis trackers to maximize production.

AllSun TrackersJA Solar provided multi-crystalline 260 watt PID resistant modules for the project. Claire Solar utilized 366 AllSun Trackers and highly efficient modules from JA Solar, to further maximize the farm’s output. The ground-mounted pre-engineered solar trackers, which track the sun throughout the day, produce up to 30 percent more energy than fix ground-mounted systems per JA Solar. The company also says its multi-crystalline 260 watt modules outperform the peers’ modules by 5-10 watts in terms of power rating.

The project was constructed under Vermont’s Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) standard-offer program and will produce over 3 million kilowatt hours of emissions-free energy a year. AllEarth Renewables also served as the EPC for the project. In 2011, AllEarth Renewables utilized their solar trackers for a 2.1MW solar farm across the road from the Claire Solar site.

DNV GL Releases Offshore Wind Manifesto

DNV GL has released its finding of a report, “Offshore wind: a manifesto for cost reduction,” at WindEnergy Hamburg 2014. The offshore wind industry is looking to reduce costs to ensure growth. In response to this need, DNV GL is offering the industry its manifesto for offshore wind cost reduction identifies and quantifies cost reduction opportunities. It also set out a challenge and the company has committed to take action on the issue.

DNV GL Pledges to Help Reduce Offshore Wind Costs by 25%The cost reduction strategies outlined in the manifesto are categorized into three basic types: “Doing it right,” by mitigating risk and increasing certainty; “Doing it better,” by improving the efficiency of existing processes; and “Doing it differently,” by innovating for the future. Working with industry partners, the actions DNV GL commits to in the manifesto have the potential to achieve reductions in the cost of energy of up to 25 percent. According to DNV GL, these savings, combined with trends in other areas such as improved supply chain efficiency, has the potential of delivering a total reduction of 40 percent which is recognized by many stakeholders as the level required to secure the future of the industry.

CEO for DNV GL – Energy, David Walker, said, “This is about securing the future of offshore wind. Achieving cost reduction is about more than just new technology and innovation. It also requires us to get the basics right which means getting people together, assessing the issues in detail and defining best practice. This may be seen as incremental or even unglamorous, but it is exactly what a maturing industry looks like and it is exactly what is required to drive down costs.

“The good news is that we are seeing signs of progress, but we need to do much more as an industry,” added Walker. In this manifesto document, we in DNV GL recognise the role we can play in the cost reduction story – we are committed to helping offshore wind do it right, do it better and do it differently.”

The manifesto document contains 14 specific pledges across a wide range of topics from reducing subsea cable installation risks through to accelerating the commercialization of floating offshore wind technology:

White Papers Look At Energy in Mexico

A new series of white papers look at various issues relating to energy in Mexico. Recent reform in the country has created anticipation and speculation as to how the energy market will shape up over the next few years. Peter Nance with ICF International has released three white papers to help increase understanding of the country’s emerging energy issues.

Peter Nance ICF InternationalThe first paper, “Renewable Energy and Cross-Border Prospects,” looks at current opportunities and risks in cross-border renewables trade, especially for the California market. The current power trade between the United States and Mexico is relatively small, and the renewable sector in Mexico remains underdeveloped. Yet, encouraging market dynamics gives ample reason to pay attention to this area. Key topics include: ambitious reform creates opportunities and lingering questions; state of electricity trade and renewables development; exporting opportunities for central station renewables; and risk and uncertainties.

Power Generation and Cross-Border Prospects,” is the second paper in the series and examines current opportunities and risks in cross-border power markets in the context of the Mexican regulatory reform, especially along the Arizona-Sonora and Texas-Tamaulipas/Coahulia/Chihuahua areas of the border. Key topics include: current state and near-term prospects; future opportunities; and risks and uncertainties.

The third report is, “Midstream Opportunities,” and focuses on proposed sublaws from Mexico’s energy sector. ICF International anticipates a comprehensive analysis and development of their implications for investors after a successful conclusion of current negotiations in the Mexican Congress. They are also closely tracking the emerging trends and needs in the midstream and engaging with partners in Mexico to develop a comprehensive, in-depth picture of the market and its potential opportunities and risks. Key topics include: current state and near-term prospects; recent project profiles; important players in the Mexican midstream subsector and future possibilities.

ACCIONA Windpower Installs First AW125/3000

gI_46398_Acciona_AW3000_125_1ACCIONA Windpower has completed the installation of the world’s first AW125/3000 wind turbine, which combines a 125 meter rotor with a 3 megawatt wind turbine generator. The turbine is mounted on a 120 meter concrete tower at ACCIONA’s Vedadillo Experimental Wind Farm located in the Navarra Region of Spain. The company has fulfilled orders for an additional 552 MW of AW125/3000 turbines which will be installed at wind farms around the globe in the coming months.

Launched in 2013, the AW125/3000 is an extension of ACCIONA Windpower’s AW116/3000 wind turbine. The 125 meter rotor is among the largest rotors in operation at any onshore wind farm, capturing the wind energy from an area of over 12,300 square meters to deliver maximum production at a lower cost of energy. The AW125 is suitable for a wide range of wind conditions and is certified for IEC Class IIb, IIIa, and IIIb.

“The 125 meter rotor is one of the technological advances made by ACCIONA Windpower as part of our commitment to lower the cost of energy for our customers,” said Jose Luis Blanco, CEO of ACCIONA Windpower. “Design innovation is helping ACCIONA Windpower emerge as a preferred supplier by many major customers and fueling the rapid growth in orders for the AW3000 platform.”

The AW 125/3000 turbine at the Vedadillo Wind Farm will help ACCIONA Windpower complete the requisite testing for Type Certification, which is expected to be complete by Q1 2015. The AW125 is available on 100 and 120 meter concrete towers and an 87.5 meter steel tower.

ContourGlobal Inaugurates Peru Wind Farm

The Cupisnique and Talara Wind farms located in Peru are now producing wind energy. The projects were completed by ContourGlobal, through it subsidiary Energia Eolica S.A., and with the first kilowatts produced, have become the largest wind farm owner and operator in the country.

ContourGlobal Wind Farm in PeruWith a combined investment of nearly US $250 million, the Cupisnique and the Talara Wind Farms are the first operational projects in the northern region of the country and were connected to the National Interconnected Electric System (SEIN) last month. Each of the projects has secured a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement under Peru’s Renewable Energy Resource Program.

“With the inauguration of ContourGlobal’s Peruvian wind farms, the country is taking a big step towards realizing the benefit of integrating wind power into the nation’s electricity grid. Peru is blessed with abundant wind resources, which makes wind generated electricity significantly less expensive than many of the fossil fuel power plants in the country,” said Alessandra Marinheiro, CEO of ContourGlobal Latam.

The development of the wind farms took 22 months beginning in October 2012. ContourGlobal managed the construction of the sites, featuring Vesta’s wind turbines. The 62 turbines are installed in two locations along Peru’s windy Pacific coast and are Peru’s largest wind farms as well as the largest wind farms in South America outside of Brazil.

“We would like to express our appreciation to COFIDE (Corporacion Financiera de Desarollo—Peru’s national development bank), the Government of Peru and the communities of Pacasmayo and Talara for helping us to place Peru’s largest wind complex into operation today,” added Joseph C. Brandt, president & CEO of ContourGlobal. “We have found Peru to be a very hospitable destination for new investment and look forward to growing with the country in the years to come.”

Dark Horse Brewing Brews With Solar

Dark Horse Brewery solar projectPatriot Solar Group, Contractors Building Supply, The Green Brewery Project, and The Dark Horse Brewing Company have created the first solar power-driven brewery on the east coast. The 40 kilowatt, 140 panel system has helped generate solar energy and aid in the formation of the famous Dark Horse growler we all know and love.

The Green Breweries Project, whose research originated at the University of Michigan, is focused on offering creativity with energy systems to help craft breweries enhance their sustainability. Even with a considerably lower rate of emissions, Green Breweries are becoming increasingly predominant and are making the exchange to a further domestic market.

Dark Horse purchased 140 Michigan-assembled solar panels as well as mounting systems supplied by Patriot Solar Group. This off-grid system allows the brewery to manage their energy demands and monitor them closely with affluence as well as ease. According to Patriot Solar Group, the fixed standing metal roof mount systems are durable and can withstand brutal wind speeds but also offer minimal maintenance as well as low cost.

DOE Supports Taller Wind Turbine Tower Development

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $2 million to support the development of technologies to harness stronger winds available at higher heights. The goal is to increase the amount of wind energy produced. The projects will take place in Iowa and Massachusetts and are aimed at reducing the cost of wind energy as well as expand the areas where wind energy can be successfully harnessed.

ISU taller wind tower researchIn the northeastern, southeastern, and western United States, winds near the ground are often slower and more turbulent, reducing the amount of electricity installed turbines can generate. Taller wind turbines capture the stronger, more consistent winds available at elevated heights, increasing the number of potential locations where wind farms can supply cost-effective power to American businesses and homeowners. While wind turbines installed in 2013 had an average height of 260 feet, the projects announced today will support new design and manufacturing techniques to produce towers nearly 400 feet tall.

Keystone Towers of Boston, Massachusetts will utilize its grant dollars to implement an on-site spiral welding system that will enable turbine towers to be produced directly at or near the installation site, freeing projects of transportation constraints that often limit turbine height. Adapted from an in-field welding process used by the pipe manufacturing industry, Keystone’s spiral welding technique can be scaled up to produce large diameter steel towers that they report will be 40 percent lighter than standard turbine towers, which could lower the cost of energy by 10 percent.

The second grantee, Iowa State University, will develop a hexagonal-shaped tower that combines high-strength concrete with pre-stressed steel reinforcements to assemble individual tower modules and wall segments that can be easily transported and joined together on-site. Due to the modular design, thicker towers capable of supporting turbines at increased heights can be produced at a reduced cost.

$8B Green Energy Plan Proposed for LA

Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand and Duke-American Transmission have jointly proposed a $8 billion green energy plan that would bring large amounts of renewable power to the Los Angeles, California area by 2023. The companies will formerly submit their proposal to the Southern California Public Power Authority by early 2015.

If accepted, the project would require construction of one of America’s largest wind farms in Wyoming, one of the world’s biggest energy storage facilities in Utah, and a new 525-mile electric transmission line connecting the two sites. The proposed project would generate more than twice the amount of electricity produced by the giant 1930s-era hydroelectric dam in Nevada – 9.2 million megawatt-hours per year vs. 3.9 million megawatt-hours.

“This project would be the 21st century’s Hoover Dam – a landmark of the clean energy revolution,” said Jeff Meyer, managing partner of Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy.

A key component of the project is a massive underground energy storage facility that would yield 1,200 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to the output of a large nuclear power plant and enough to serve an estimated 1.2 million L.A.-area homes. According to the proposal, the underground energy storage facility would help solve one of renewable energy’s biggest challenges – its intermittency. Wind farms produce no electricity when there’s no wind; solar farms produce no electricity when there’s no sun.

Linking the wind farm to the energy storage facility would enable the wind farm to function largely like a traditional coal, nuclear or natural gas power plant – capable of reliably delivering large amounts of electricity whenever needed, based on customer demand.

The energy storage facility also would reduce the need for L.A.-area utilities to build expensive backup power plants and power lines to serve customers on days when there’s no wind, at night when there’s no sunlight, and during other periods when traditional wind and solar farms are unable to produce electricity.

According to the plan, Duke-American Transmission would build a $2.6-billion, 525-mile, high-voltage electric transmission line that would transport the Wyoming wind farm’s electricity to the Utah energy storage facility. From there, using an existing 490-mile transmission line – traversing Utah, Nevada and California- electricity would be transmitted from the Utah energy storage facility to the Los Angeles area.

Black Oak Wind Farm Looking for Investors

The first community owned wind farm in New York is looking for investors. Black Oak Wind Farm, LLC has opened a new equity investment round for New York residents and companies to join the existing investors in owning the wind farm. The project will consists of 7 turbines located on a ridge in Enfield, New York.

Black Oak Wind Farm LogoAn AA credit rating institution is purchasing all the power output from the project for ten years. The project was awarded a ten-year contract with NYSERDA for its Renewable Energy Credits and qualifies for the Federal Investment Tax Credit. Black Oak has protected itself against the financial risk caused by wind variability through the use of an innovative risk management product offered by Nephila Capital, in partnership with REsurety.

Project Manager Marguerite Wells is leading the project. Her vision for community ownership stems from the fact that most wind farms don’t allow local residents to invest in the projects they live among. “I asked myself a long time ago…if wind farms are profitable then why shouldn’t they be owned by regular local people instead? I quickly learned that wind farm financing is extremely complex, and although community ownership is a common model in Europe, there are few such projects here in the U.S.”

One similar project is South Dakota Wind Partners, a 7-turbine wind farm owned by 614 South Dakotans. Val-Add Service Corporation, the financial consultants who developed that project, are members of the Black Oak team, as is Juhl Energy, based in Pipestone, MN. The PPA was negotiated by Altenex; GE will be providing the turbines (1.7-100’s) and the O&M services. Tetra Tech Construction, based in Gloversville, NY will build the project; COD is expected Fall 2015.

The current round is open only to accredited investors in the State of New York, with another round opening this fall for non-accredited investors.