Renewable Electricity Could Reach 16% In Five Years

According to an early release review of the Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (the final report is slated for release on April 30th) published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy could hit 16 percent of the net U.S. electrical generation by the year 2040. This includes biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. But the SUN DAY Campaign challenges these predictions by asserting this could happen in the next five years.

When reviewing EIA’s own published data for the 11-year period January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2013 revealed that the percentage of the nation’s net electrical generation Biomass pelletsrepresented by renewable energy has expanded from less than 9 percent in 2004 to nearly 13 percent in 2013. Given the relatively consistent growth trends of the past decade or longer for most renewable energy sources and their rapidly declining costs, it seems improbable that it will require another 27 years to grow from 13 percent to 16 percent according to SUN DAY Campaign. Thus, EIA’s forecast is not just unduly conservative; almost certainly, it is simply wrong.

If the trends reflected in EIA data from the past decade continue, cite the SUN DAY campaign, renewable energy sources could increase to as much as 13.5 percent of net U.S. electrical generation in 2014, to 14.4 percent in 2015, to 15.3 percent in 2016, and reach or exceed 16.0 percent no later than 2018 — i.e., within five years and not the 27 years forecast by EIA. At worst, they would reach 16 percent by 2020.

“Inasmuch as policy makers in both the public and private sectors – as well as the media and others – rely heavily upon EIA data when making legislative, regulatory, investment, and other decisions, underestimation can have multiple adverse impacts on the renewable energy industry and, more broadly, on the nation’s environmental and energy future,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Consequently, EIA is doing a serious disservice to the public by publishing analyses that are inherently inconsistent with its own historical data and near-term projections.”

The SUN DAY Campaign has published its own full 32-page report that includes the assumptions and projections made, on a technology-by-technology basis, using EIA data. In addition, following the projections provided for each technology is a listing of recent studies and news reports that offer alternative or complementary scenarios – many of which are more aggressive than those provided by the SUN DAY Campaign. These additional studies suggest that even SUN DAY’s analysis may prove to be unduly conservative.

BayWa Commissioned Solar Farm in Great Britain

BayWa r.e. Commissions 18 MWp Solar Farm in Great BritainBayWa r.e. has commissioned its fourth solar farm, Whitland, in Great Britain. Despite the continual bad weather, the project team were able to construct and commission the 18 MWp solar plant in only nine weeks.

Matthias Taft, Managing Director of BayWa r.e., said of the project, “The rapid implementation of the Whitland solar farm shows that our project team and technical know-how put us in an excellent position. This enables us to finance even larger projects without difficulties. This in turn ensures commissioning on time. Together, this results in a dynamic and economical project implementation at every project stage – from engineering and construction to the ultimate project sale to institutional investors.”

The Whitland solar farm was established on a 28 hectare in the Welsh village of the same name. It comprises 69,000 polycrystalline modules on freestanding supports. Annually, this plant will generate around 17 million kWh green power and can cover the electricity demand of around 5,000 households. Apart from completed projects, BayWa r.e. has significant projects in the pipeline for Great Britain.

EIA Identifies States with the Windiest Energy

single wind turbine Photo Joanna SchroederTwelve states produced 80% of the total wind energy generated last year, according to preliminary data released from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the March Electric Power Monthly report.

Number one on the list is Texas, which generated nearly 36 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity in 2013. Iowa was second, with more than 15 million MWh, followed by California, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Iowa ranked first in proportion of wind to total electricity generated with 27.4% of net electricity production coming from wind turbines.

These 12 states produced a combined 134 million MWh of electricity from wind. Nationwide, 167 million MWh of power came from wind in 2013, a 19% increase from 2012. Wind power increased its share of U.S. total electricity generation in 2013 from 3.5% to 4.1%. All but 13 states reported to EIA some generation from wind, and 23 states increased their wind generation more than 10% above 2012 production levels. California’s wind generation exceeded geothermal generation for the first time in 2013.

12 U.S. States Dominate Wind Power

According to Today in Energy, 12 states dominated the U.S. wind energy market in 2013. These states accounted for 80 percent of wind-generated electricity according to preliminary data released in the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) March Electric Power Monthly.

Once again, Texas took the honors of top wind power state with nearly 36 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity produced annually. Iowa was second, with more than 15 million MWh, followed by California, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

Today in Energy 12 Top wind statesCombined, these 12 states produced 134 million MWh of electricity from wind. Nationwide, 167 million MWh of power came from wind in 2013, a 19 percent increase from 2012. Wind power increased its share of U.S. total electricity generation in 2013 from 3.5 percent to 4.1 percent. All but 13 states reported to EIA some generation from wind, and 23 states increased their wind generation more than 10 percent above 2012 production levels. California’s wind generation exceeded geothermal generation for the first time in 2013.

The proportion of wind to total electricity generated varied widely by state. Leading the nation in wind generation share was Iowa with 27.4 percent of net electricity production coming from wind turbines. Second was South Dakota, at 26 percent. Other states with more than twice the national share of 4.1 percent wind power were Kansas, Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado, Oregon, Wyoming, and Texas.

U.S. Clean Energy Struggling from Policy Uncertainty

According to research from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.S. clean energy sector continues to be buffeted by policy uncertainty with 2013 investment down 9 percent from 2012 to $36.7 billion. The annual report, “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2013,” found that steep declines in the installation of wind overshadowed a record annual deployment of 4.4 gigawatts of solar.

THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS“Lower technology prices have made the small-distributed solar market very competitive, and the United States has been a leader in developing innovative financing models that are spurring steadily increasing deployment,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s clean energy program. “We also remain a world leader in venture capital, biofuels, and energy-smart technologies, like smart meters and LED lighting. Wind, however, has been subject to the vagaries of U.S. energy policy. As Congress debates tax extenders, it should aim to level the playing field, accelerate clean energy deployment, and provide long-term certainty to investors.”

The report found in the U.S. marketplace, solar technology prices have declined 60 percent since 2011, and new financing models have spurred more than $17 billion in investment, a 7 percent increase from 2012. The U.S. continued to garner world-leading financing in the biofuels and energy efficient/low-carbon technology subsectors. It also remained the dominant recipient of public market and venture capital/private equity investment, attracting $6.8 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.

Although wind investment was relatively stable at $14 billion, U.S. wind installations in 2013 were down more than 90 percent—from more than 13 GW in 2012 to less than 1 GW last year found the report. When the production tax credit was renewed in early 2013, slight changes in the law precipitated deferrals in deployment of new wind capacity into 2014, when a strong rebound in capacity additions was forecast. By comparison, China deployed 12.1 GW of solar and 14.1 GW of wind capacity.

The regional and global market remains dominated by China, attracting $54.2 billion, with the U.S. in second place. Japan was third with $28.6 billion. Globally, clean energy investment fell 11 percent, to $254 billion, and renewable power generating capacity additions declined by 1 percent in 2013. Overall, installed clean energy capacity reached 735 GW.

Natural Gas, Solar Account for Lion’s Share of Adds

eiaAlternative energy sources made for a good showing of new power-generating capacity added last year. This report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows more than half of the utility-scale power generating capacity added last year came from natural gas-fueled plants, with solar accounting for another 22 percent – a significant increase from just 6 percent in 2012. Wind also accounted for another 8 percent of capacity added.
EIAapriladds
Natural gas capacity additions were … 6,861 MW … added in 2013, compared to 9,210 MW in 2012. The capacity additions came nearly equally from combustion turbine peaker plants, which generally run only during the highest peak-demand hours of the year, and combined-cycle plants, which provide intermediate and baseload power.

Nearly 60% of the natural gas capacity added in 2013 was located in California. The state is facing resource adequacy concerns as well as the need for more flexible generation resources to help complement more variable-output renewable resources, particularly solar, being added to the system.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) added 2,193 MW of capacity in 2013, continuing the trend of the past few years of strong growth, helped in part by falling technology costs as well as aggressive state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and continued federal investment tax credits. Nearly 75% of the capacity added was located in California, followed by roughly 10% in Arizona.

While wind’s numbers in 2013 were only one-tenth of what it did in 2012, (1,032 MW in 2013 compared to 12,885 MW in 2012), EIA attributed this to producers rushing to take advantage of the federal production tax credit at the end of 2012.

Weather Channel Features Juhl Energy

The Weather Channel recently featured a segment filmed at the Honda Transmission Manufacturing of America plant located in Russells Point, Ohio that includes an onsite wind project developed by Juhl Energy and is owned and operated by ConEdison Solutions. David honda wind powered plantMalkoff visited the plant that is the site of the first major auto manufacturing facility in the U.S. to get a majority of its electricity from wind energy located on its property.

The two operating wind turbines, with blades that are approximately 160 feet long installed on 260-foot towers, are expected to supply nearly 10 percent of the plant’s electricity. Based on their location and actual wind speeds, the combined output from the two wind turbines is estimated at 10,000-megawatt hours (MWH) per year.

Tyler Juhl, VP of Juhl Energy Services, Inc. provided Malkoff and his production team with access to the towers and the amazing views from the top of the turbines. “It was great having The Weather Channel at the Honda facility and giving them an opportunity to show that renewable energy definitely has applications for the traditional manufacturing industry,” said Juhl.

“Wind power is our country’s fastest-growing energy source, and The Weather Channel’s coverage is an ideal way to help Americans appreciate wind power’s many applications,” said Jorge Lopez, CEO of ConEdison Solutions. “We are delighted that The Weather Channel chose to showcase this facility.”

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.