EU Commission Proposes Eliminating Clean Energy Aid

The European Commission has proposed a plan to phase out support for renewable technologies after 2020. According to state aid guidelines, the Commission recommends removing support mechanisms for renewable technologies that are expected to become “grid competitive” between 2020 ad 2030. The guidelines did not specify was “grid competitive” means and in their current form, only apply to the period from 2014 to 2020.

ewea-logoIn response, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) says the move pushes its narrow vision for EU energy policy and clouds the future of wind energy. The association also says the proposals push for market integration above stability, with premiums allocated through tenders to replace feed-in tariffs and “technology neutrality,” which does not distinguish between the maturity of technologies like onshore and offshore wind energy.

However, EWEA explains that a number of exemptions have been included, allowing Member States to opt out of tendering, to tailor support for technologies at different levels of maturity and to determine the pace at which national support is adjusted to comply with the guidelines. In addition, the association says the complex nature of the state aid guidelines risks exacerbating investor uncertainty around the renewables industry and Member States must be flexible in implementing the proposals.

Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said, “The Commission would have liked to put the cart before the horse, by focusing on forcing wind energy to compete in a market which still does not exist, while ignoring the obvious market distortions that need to be tackled first, such as the majority of subsidies that go to fossil fuels and nuclear.  While we welcome the drive for long-term market integration of wind energy, state aid guidelines are not the ideal tool for the Commission to legislate on energy policy. Member States should be flexible in implementing the guidelines, in order to enable the most cost-efficient development of wind energy in Europe, and avoid increased uncertainty for the sector.”

Wilkes concluded, “In the main, the opt-outs will become the most important tools used by Member States because the Commission has failed to propose good design requirements for its favoured method of tendering.”

Extenders Package Picks up Wind

After quite a bit of back and forth, the Senate Finance Committee finally included wind energy in the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) tax extenders package out of committee this week.

AWEA1“We’re grateful to all the supporters of renewable energy on the Senate Finance Committee,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “This provides a critical signal for our industry, which has created up to 85,000 jobs and has a bright future ahead, as we grow from 4 percent of the U.S. power grid to an expected 20 percent and beyond, so long as we have a predictable business climate.”

The PTC and the alternate Investment Tax Credit were added overnight to a modified “Chairman’s mark,” after an earlier draft released Monday left them and several other provisions for further negotiation.

They prevailed on a critical 18-6 vote during the committee markup late Thursday morning, on a motion by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to strip them out. Five Republicans joined the committee’s Democrats in voting down that amendment: Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and John Cornyn (R-TX).

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.”

Hemp Facilities Secured by Wind & Solar Energy

The Industrial Hemp and Medical Marijuana Consulting Company (IHMMCC) has acquired an interest in alternative energy company Liberated Energy. Per the agreement, IHMMCC, a subsidiary of Hemp Inc., will provide consulting services to help Liberated Energy market and distribute their products.

guard-lite-photo-131x300The Guard Lite Security Lighting System is patent-pending and uses wind and solar energy to power its security system, which consists of High Tech LED Lighting WiFi HD Camera with 2 way audio Infrared and Motion Technology. According to Liberated Energy, the Guard Lite is self-powered and will use only approximately 10 percent of its maximum rated wind and solar energy. One of the company’s objective is to make small wind and solar turbine technology a significant contributor to the global clean energy supply portfolio for both businesses and consumers.

“We are thrilled and looking forward to this new venture. After researching the industry and weighing our options, it was a no-brainer to collaborate with Hemp, Inc.’s Industrial Hemp and Medical Marijuana Consulting Company, Inc. to create new marketing and distribution capabilities for our Guard Lite Security Lighting System for the medical marijuana and industrial hemp industries,” said Frank Pringle, CEO of Liberated Energy, Inc.

With several states legalizing medical marijuana, the hemp market is in need of cost efficient energy sources to meet the growing demand – especially in states where hemp cannot be grown outside year round. Companies are also looking to convert hemp to biofuels.

Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc. noted, “Liberated Energy’s move into the industrial hemp and medical marijuana industries could not have come at a better time. The demand is expanding for growers and dispensaries to ramp up security for their operations with more comprehensive surveillance and monitoring, especially since most of these operations are high-volume, cash-based facilities.”

Siemens Invests in Offshore Wind Manufacturing in UK

Siemens to Build Major Offshore Wind Manufacturing Site in the UKSiemens will be investing £160 million (EUR190m) in wind turbine production and installation facilities in Yorkshire (UK). The facility will be spread across two sites including the Green Port Hull project construction, assembly and service facility and a new rotor blade manufacturing facility in nearby Paull, in East Riding. Siemens’ port partner Associated British Ports (ABP) is investing a further £150 million in the Green Port Hull development. The investment will provide a huge boost to the UK’s offshore wind industry and the Humber region.

“This is a massive vote of confidence in our long-term economic plan,” said Prime Minister David Cameron. This investment is going to create lots of new jobs and opportunities, meaning more financial security and peace of mind for families and a more resilient economy for our country.”

The Green Port Hull project has been in development for nearly four years and is the product of an effort between many national and local political, business and community parties and many people within Siemens in the UK, Denmark and Germany, and ABP. The investment is a landmark moment for the UK offshore wind industry. It is the first manufacturing plant of its kind for Siemens next generation blade technology (IntegralBlade) designed for Siemens SWT-6.0-154 6 megawatt (MW) wind turbine. Each rotor blade is 75 meters long and when rotating covers an area the size of two and a half football pitches.

“Our decision to construct a production facility for offshore wind turbines in England is part Siemens to Build Major Offshore Wind Manufacturing Site in the UKof our global strategy: we invest in markets with reliable conditions that can ensure that factories can work to capacity,” said Michael Suess, member of the managing board of Siemens AG and CEO of the Energy Sector. “The British energy policy creates a favourable framework for the expansion of offshore wind energy. In particular, it recognizes the potential of offshore wind energy within the overall portfolio of energy production.”

Suess continued, “The offshore wind market in Great Britain has high growth rates, with an even greater potential for the future. Wind power capacity has doubled here within two years, to roughly 10 gigawatts. By 2020, a capacity of 14 gigawatts is to be installed at sea alone to combine the country’s environmental objectives with secure power supply. Projects for just over 40 gigawatts are currently in the long-term planning.”

Green Port Hull is planned to be operational to meet Round 3 requirements in early 2016. The start of production at the blade factory is scheduled to be in the middle of 2016 with full production levels reached from mid 2017 onwards.

Confidence Boost for Europe’s Renewable Energy

In a last minute addition to the European Council’s conclusions on 2030 energy targets, leaders stated the need for a “supportive EU framework for advancing renewable energies.” While an agreement has yet to be reached, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a press conference that the Council would have a deal on the climate and energy framework by “no later than” October 2014.

European Council logo“This extra time could be a golden opportunity – for pro-renewables countries like Germany, Denmark and Portugal to rally round and start fighting for greater ambition for renewables and the energy security they bring,” said Thomas Becker, chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “The conclusions show that Heads of State are wising up to the energy challenges that Europe is facing. I think the situation in the Ukraine is proving a sobering experience for policymakers over the frailty of Europe’s energy security.“ He added, “We must act and we must do it now.”

Over 160 companies and organizations have singed a statement calling for a stronger commitment from policymakers to Europe’s 2030 Climate and energy objectives. One ask: a legally binding target for renewable energy of 30 percent. If this target were met, it would reduce gas imports by nearly three times more than the 27 percent target put forward by the European Commission in January 2014, create 568,000 more jobs, save EUR260 billion extra in fossil fuel imports.

It remains unlikely that a 2030 deal will be in place before a United Nations meeting convenes in September 204, when global leaders are expected to set out plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The European Council is set to meet again for talks on June 26-27, 2014.

Lockheed Martin Advances Tidal Energy

Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with global tidal energy company Atlantis Resources Ltd to optimize the design of Atlantis’ new 1.5 megawatt tidal turbine. The AR1500 is designed to facilitate operation in highly energetic tidal locations, and will be one of the largest single rotor turbines ever developed and will have active rotor pitch and full nacelle yaw rotation.

According to Lockheed Martin, the increased capability and integrated, advanced functionality will help bring commercial tidal energy to reality, and will initially support the MeyGen project in Scotland’s Pentland Firth and deployment in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. Once completed, the MeyGen LOCKHEED MARTIN AR1000project – the world’s largest tidal stream project under development and in development to contributed to the country’s 100 renewable energy goal– is expected to deliver up to 398 megawatts of power, enough energy to power 200,000 homes.

“By 2040, world energy demand is expected to dramatically increase,” said Tim Fuhr, director of ocean energy for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “Lockheed Martin’s technology, development and expertise in ocean systems and global system integration skills will enable the AR1500 to use powerful tides to produce safe, clean renewable energy for homes and businesses around the world.”

Tidal turbines work like an underwater wind turbine. The tides’ ebb and flow force the blades to spin, which rotate the turbine and activate a generator that produces electricity. Tidal energy’s greatest advantage over other alternative energy sources, such as wind power and solar energy, is that it is almost entirely independent of the weather. The movement of the tides can be accurately forecast several years out.

“With us acquiring the MeyGen project, and receiving full consents to begin construction of the project’s first phase, it has been an amazing 12 months of growth for Atlantis,” said Tim Cornelius, chief executive officer of Atlantis Resources Ltd. “Our AR1500 development program with Lockheed Martin will ultimately deliver the rapidly growing tidal energy industry the most advanced, robust and powerful tidal turbine system available on the market.”

Last year, Lockheed Martin and Atlantis entered into an exclusive teaming partnership to develop technology, components and projects in the tidal power sector on a global basis.

Wind Power Line to Move Energy to the East

wind energy in U.SA proposed $2.2 billion, 750-mile long, high-voltage overhead transmission line could solve some of the issues of getting wind energy from the areas out west producing it to the areas in the east that need that power. This article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune says Clean Line Energy Partners’ idea is to build a line from the wind turbine farms of Kansas to Indiana, where it can be distributed to urban areas. But the project is meeting some resistance from farmers in the areas it would traverse.

The idea is supported by environmental groups who say it is an opportunity to take a big step forward for an energy source that could reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and cut air pollution. Clean Line has four other transmission line projects in the works in the West and Midwest.

Clean Line says the project will be an economic boon, with all four states seeing new jobs for construction and local companies providing things like parts and concrete. Lawlor said consumers would benefit, too, by the new source of power that would drive down electricity costs.

Yet many landowners have organized in opposition to Clean Line. They worry about whether the towers and lines will reduce property values, get in the way of farming operations like crop-dusting and irrigation, and even create health risks for those living so close to high-voltage wires.

“This is some of our best ground,” said Kent Dye, 56, who farms about 7,000 acres in northeast Missouri’s Monroe County. “This line — there’s no proven need for it. There are no contracts to provide power, no contracts to sell on the other end.”

Clean Line officials believe that after they have a chance to talk to the farmers and ranchers who have concerns, they’ll be able to convince them of the benefits of easements they can collect money on and the long-term environmental benefits for everyone.

New Jersey Offshore Wind Farm Gets Endorsement

fishermensenergyA New Jersey offshore wind farm is reeling in an important endorsement. This article from The News Journal says the aptly named Fishermen’s Energy has received endorsements for its proposed offshore wind farm from the Atlantic County Freeholders and the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce. It comes as the company awaits approval of its funding from the State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

“As stated in the resolution, the creation of new, well-paying jobs is vital to the economic success of Atlantic County” stated Freeholder Colin Bell. “Wind energy is a growing sector of the economy that provides construction, manufacturing and professional employment opportunities.”

Chris Wissemann, CEO of Fishermen’s Energy, said: “Having the support of the Atlantic County government, as well as the local business community shows how valuable the project is to the local economy. The project meets everything required by the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, including, most importantly, bringing hundreds of jobs to New Jersey.”

The five-turbine, Fishermen’s Energy wind farm would be the first off of New Jersey’s shores, and if approved, would be the first to get an offshore wind renewable energy credit from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

Google Hopes for Good Results from Wind Project

makaniSearch engine giant Google is hoping the expansion of a California wind energy operation by one of its companies will give good results. This story from KCBS in San Francisco says Google-owned Makani Power is expanding its presence at, or maybe more accurately, ABOVE the formal naval base in Alameda.

When Google bought Makani Power in 2013, the seven year-old start up was leasing 17, 000 square feet at Alameda Point. The new lease calls for 127,000 square feet—with an option to take over the adjacent hangars and buildings as they become available.

“It’s exciting to the city of Alameda on number of different levels,” Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore told KCBS. “One, we get to keep a tenant and who is seriously on the cutting edge of technology, and with Google’s investment. Who wouldn’t want to have a high profile tenant like Google?”

Makani Power is trying to build off-shore wind farms using tethered-winged devices that capture wind energy at high altitudes or above deep waters. Check out the video on that project:
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Vestas Becomes World Wind Leader, Adds US Jobs

vestasmachosprings1Danish wind turbine builder and installer Vestas has become the world’s leader in wind energy installation, while adding jobs right here in the U.S. The company says it installed 13.2 percent of all wind energy in 2013, nearly a third more than its closest competitor. And this record-setting year for Vestas prompted the company to hire about 400 workers at its Colorado factories, with another 450 expected to be hired this year.

Vestas installed turbines in 31 countries last year. According to Vestas’ own figures, our largest market for installations in 2013 was Germany, followed by China, Canada, and Brazil. Vestas’ largest market for sales in 2013 was the United States, followed by Germany, Canada, and Sweden.

CEO Anders Runevad says, “Vestas has been through a tough two-year turnaround process to return to profitability. That we simultaneously achieved our financial goals in 2013 and solidified our market leadership is a testament to the strength of the company.”

One of the best years for wind-turbine orders for Vestas has led to significant hiring at its four Colorado factories. The company’s blade factory in Windsor, blade and nacelle factories in Brighton and tower factory in Pueblo expect to add more than 850 production workers this year after Vestas secured orders in 2013 for nearly 900 turbines.

“We are going to be extremely busy making blades, nacelles and towers this year through at least 2015,” said Chris Brown, President of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada.

Vestas’ V110-2.0 MW and V100-2.0 MW turbines are made in Colorado and shipped out all over the world.

Ill Winds Blow for Energy Production Tax Credit

single wind turbine Photo Joanna SchroederThings could be looking bleak for a federal tax credit that helps wind power projects. This article from Bloomberg Businessweek says the production tax credit is facing a bumpy ride as Congressional Republicans look for a bigger tax break overhaul.

“Maybe there will be some in the Senate who will try to revive it but I really do think it’s dead in the House,” said [Representative Charles] Boustany, a Louisiana Republican and member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview today in New York. While the credit might be revived as part of lame-duck legislation after the November elections, that seems unlikely, he said.

The 2.3-cent per kilowatt-hour production tax credit, which pays owners for power produced during a project’s first decade, expired at the end of last year. A broader tax reform proposal released last month by Representative Dave Camp, chairman of Ways and Means, would reduce the amount project owners can claim to 1.5 cents, boosting government revenue by an estimated $9.6 billion.

President Obama has proposed a permanent extension and expansion of the production credit at a cost of $19.3 billion over the next decade. His efforts might be boosted by Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who is planning a vote on restoring the measures in the next few months.

Meanwhile, officials with the American Wind Energy Association promise to stay engaged in tax-reform discussions.

GE Space Frame Revolutionizing Wind Tower Tech

A new wind turbine tower is changing the game in tower technology. This article from Clean Technica says GE’s Space Frame Tower is helping along a rapidly growing wind energy sector.

From the outside, the Space Frame Tower looks like a regular tube-shaped turbine tower with a bit of an Eiffel Tower splay to the bottom, and there’s your clue regarding what’s hidden behind that plain white exterior: a new approach to turbine tower design that GE hopes will play into the demand for taller wind turbines.

spaceframe1With taller turbines, wind energy can be harvested more efficiently from a broader range of sites, so in case you’re wondering why we’re making such a fuss over a tower, there’s your answer.

Now let’s cut to the mustard. Those of you who are familiar with the engineering term “space frame” already know what’s afoot under that plain white exterior. A space frame refers to latticework, with the Eiffel Tower being one classic example.

The article goes on to point out that the new tower cuts down the amount of steel required for the frame, and the five-sided lattice inside allows for a much wider base than the usual tube-style turbine towers, allowing the tower to climb higher into the sky where it can work more efficiently.

Offshore Wind Farms Could Cut Hurricane Winds

jacobson1Not only do they generate lots of clean energy, but offshore wind farms could help lessen the winds of hurricanes. A new study from Stanford University researcher Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the school, says the data could give shore-based communities another reason to put in the turbines.

The researchers simulated three hurricanes: Sandy and Isaac, which struck New York and New Orleans, respectively, in 2012; and Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.

“We found that when wind turbines are present, they slow down the outer rotation winds of a hurricane,” Jacobson said. “This feeds back to decrease wave height, which reduces movement of air toward the center of the hurricane, increasing the central pressure, which in turn slows the winds of the entire hurricane and dissipates it faster.”

In the case of Katrina, Jacobson’s model revealed that an array of 78,000 wind turbines off the coast of New Orleans would have significantly weakened the hurricane well before it made landfall.

In the computer model, by the time Hurricane Katrina reached land, its simulated wind speeds had decreased by 36-44 meters per second (between 80 and 98 mph) and the storm surge had decreased by up to 79 percent.

While the researchers admit there is political resistance to putting in large wind turbine farms offshore, the incentive of saving a city billions in damages might give wind energy advocates another tool in their belt in the fight. For example, Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012 caused about $82 billion in damage across three states. Big arrays such as the ones proposed would cost between $10 billion and $40 billion per installation.

Clean Jobs Increase 19% in 2013

Ecotech Institute Clean Jobs IndexThe Clean Jobs Index shows 2013 ended with a 19 percent increase in clean jobs. The study also shows more than 3.5 million clean jobs were available in 2013 with a 57 percent increase in solar jobs. Published by Ecotech Institute, the Clean Jobs Index was created to provide objective job information about the renewable energy industry. In addition, the index looks at various sustainability factors including alternative fueling stations, LEED projects and total energy consumption across the U.S.

The index found large growth in clean jobs when compared to 2012 job postings, with solar jobs increasing 57 percent, wind jobs up 20 percent and renewable energy jobs increasing 9.3 percent. The report also looked at states with the most incentives for sustainability and renewables: Minnesota, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Indiana, Colorado, Florida, New York and Iowa.

“Renewable energy is the future and this data proves that more than ever,” said Kyle Crider, Ecotech Institute’s Program Chair and Manager of Environmental Operations. “With solar jobs up 57 percent and clean tech jobs up overall nearly 20 percent, it’s definitely an exciting time in the sustainable energy industry.”