Maryland Gov Vetoes Wind Turbine Moratorium

omalleyA moratorium that would have stopped construction of wind turbines for more than a year near a U.S. military base in Maryland has been vetoed by that state’s governor. This article from the Star Democrat says Gov. Martin O’Malley vetoed the 13-month wind turbine moratorium that would have kept the structures from being put up within 56 miles of the U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River,calling the bill unnecessary and a chilling message to renewable energy developers.

The bill would have delayed construction on wind turbines to wait for a study on how they could affect radar use around the base. Supporters of the bill argued it was important to consider needs of the base, a big economic engine in southern Maryland. But opponents contended it sent a bad message to businesses and harms wind farm development in Maryland.

“There are already safeguards in place to ensure that no renewable energy projects conflict with military facilities — those safeguards render this bill unnecessary,” O’Malley said in a statement.

Opponents of the bill said it would have threatened development of a wind farm in Somerset County due to expiring federal tax credits.

The governor explained that the bill would have killed a $200 million investment in the county and said it was unfair because the developers had invested millions of dollars and played by every regulatory rule.

“If this moratorium were to take effect, it would send a chilling message to clean energy investors, developers, manufacturers, construction firms, engineers and sustainable businesses that the state can change the rules at the eleventh hour,” O’Malley wrote.

Vestas Supplying Turbines for First Wind Project

V112 installation, Macarthur Windfarm, AustraliaAs Maine’s First Wind project looks to move forward, a maker of the wind turbine blades will soon be delivering the technology to the New England location. Vestas Wind Systems will fulfill First Wind’s order of 148 MW for V112-3.0 MW turbines in the U.S. in the 2nd quarter of 2015 with the blades expected to be turning by the end of next year.

Vestas has received an order for 48 V112-3.0 MW turbines for the 148-MW Oakfield project in the state of Maine. The order is a call-off on the master supply agreement (MSA) announced in December 2013 for multiple U.S. projects, the potential of which totals 718 MW. With today’s order, Vestas has secured 298 MW under this MSA.

The highly popular V112-3.0 MW turbines – for which Vestas has already received almost 6 GW of orders – will be supplied for this project. The project will also include a 10-year Active Output Management (AOM) 5000 service agreement. AOM 5000 is an energy-based availability guarantee that ensures the turbines are operational when the wind is blowing. This service option includes the VestasOnline® surveillance system that remotely controls and monitors the turbines and minimizes lost production by predicting when maintenance may be required.

“We’re pleased to continue the construction of the Oakfield Wind project and look forward to installing Vestas’ V112-3.0 MW turbines there,” said First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor. “The Vestas turbines at our Bull Hill project in Maine and the Palouse project in Washington State have performed well and we expect the Oakfield project to enjoy similar success.”

This is the fourth project Vestas and First Wind have done together and their second in Maine. The other project in Maine has achieved 99 per cent availability since it was commissioned two years ago.

First Wind Hopes Turbine Project is Approved. Again

firstwind1A New England wind energy company is hoping Maine utilities regulators approve, again, a partnership with a Canadian power company to build a multimillion-dollar wind energy project. This article from the Bangor (ME) Daily News says Boston-based First Wind is asking for approval of its partnership to build the wind farms near Oakfield, Hancock and Bingham with Nova Scotia-based power company Emera, an approval that a court sent back to the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

In petitioning the PUC for a new approval after the state’s high court struck down the commission’s first authorization of the partnership, First Wind and Emera say the revised deal advances the state’s renewable energy development goals and that specific regulations governing the deal provide enough protection from opponents’ concerns of favoritism. They also argued that there is still room within the Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion for the $360 million partnership to move ahead.

Those arguments have reversed earlier opposition by the PUC’s public advocate, whose job is to represent ratepayers in regulatory cases.

The Industrial Energy Consumer Group, which opposes the joint venture along with Houlton Water Co., criticized that reversal in a legal brief filed Friday with the PUC, arguing the deal would create an incentive for favoritism between Emera Maine and the sister company that would own a stake in wind power resources.

First Wind says it feels confident the $360 million project with Emera will move ahead.

Wind Leads Renewable Energy Increase in Texas

Cielo Wind Power farm in TexasOil-rich Texas is seeing a surge in renewable energy use, and that surge is being led by wind. This article from the Dallas Business Journal says an Electric Reliability Council of Texas report shows wind, solar and other renewable energy sources increased 12 percent last year, with wind making up the lion’s share of that increase.

Renewable energy produced 38.1 million megawatt hours of power in 2013 compared to just 33.9 million MWh in 2013. Wind power makes up 97 percent of the renewable generation. Wind generation grew by more than 4 million MWh , or 13 percent, in 2013 as well.

Solar grew by 33 percent, or 40,000 MWh, in 2013. Landfill gas had a modest increase, too.

The article goes on to say that biomass and hydroelectric actually went down in 2013.

Power Your Electronics with Wind

Most of us have heard about or already own chargers powered by solar energy to charge cell phones, iPads, laptops and more. But did you know that you can now charge all your electronics with wind energy? Skajaquoda has launched its latest version of the Trinity portable wind turbine – small enough to fit in your purse or briefcase yet powerful enough to charge your electronics.

Trinity Wind TurbineThe Trinity 100 has a 100W generator and a built-in battery that holds 30,000mAh. The mini wind turbine folds together into a 20 inch cylinder that can easily be carried anywhere. Trinity 100 weighs only 6 lbs and 5 lbs without the removable internal battery. On the bottom, Trinity 100 has a 110V output with EU/UK/US wall plug/adapter to charge your devices. It also has a 5V 1A USB and 5V 2.1A USB outputs and an input to charge Trinity’s internal battery in a wall socket.

Trinity’s smaller version has a 15W generator and a 15,000 mAh internal battery that can charge USB devices and laptops. The whole unit weighs only 2.5 lbs and 2 lbs without the removable internal battery.

To operate, you simply open the three blades, remove the aluminum legs and arrange them in either a tripod configuration or laid flat. To close the mini wind turbine, you push the legs back in and the blades close automatically. In a closed position the legs lock the blades and prevent them from opening.

Trinity’s unique design allows you to charge your smartphone up to 10-12 times before it has to be recharged either by itself (using the wind) or simply plug it into a wall output so it can be fully charged before you leave your home. I’ll use the wind, please and thank you.

Juhl Energy Purchases 2 Iowa Wind Farms

Juhl Energy is purchasing two Iowa wind farms. The wind farms are located in North Central Iowa outside the towns of Manley and Kensett and utilize GE turbines. Operating since November 2011, combined nameplate capacity is 3.24 megawatts.

“This transaction underscores our ongoing commitment to building our residual, Juhl Energy Wind Farmindependent power production business made up of wind farms today and – we hope – other forms of renewable energy in the future,” said John Mitola, president of Juhl Energy. “We believe that building our asset ownership and operating division, with its predictable revenue and cash flow, is the foundation for the ongoing strength of our company. These two Iowa projects are representative of the thousands of projects under 50 MWs –the market sector where Juhl stands head and shoulders above others in its ability to own, operate and maintain such assets.”

The wind turbines are installed on private farmland approximately 10 miles apart from each other. Juhl Renewable Assets, Inc., Juhl Energy’s wholly-owned subsidiary, will purchase both projects by acquiring 100 percent of the membership interests held by the existing owners for $2.0 million and the assumption of debt in place at the project level. The $2.0 million required to close on the Iowa projects will be raised through JRAI’s 9.0 percent Series A Preferred equity offering to individual accredited investors and qualifying institutions that have an existing relationship with the Company.

Mitola said the projects are being financed with bank debt and their Juhl Renewable Assest preferred stock- only available to current accredited stockholders. He added that similar to other “yieldcos” their stock is paying 9 percent yield annual since inception. After the close of the Iowa projects the JRAI division will own and operate five wind projects totaling approximately 25 megawatts.

“We maintain our long-term goal of building ownership capacity and hope to progress to management’s stated goal of up to 200 megawatts – which would represent energy production assets with an initial installed cost of approximately $400 million,” Mitola added. “We believe we can get there by adding small projects alongside medium sized projects one step at a time over the next few years.”

“To put our platform of accumulating energy assets in perspective, currently there are over 6,000 MWs of wind farms with nameplate capacity of less than 50 MW operating in North America. As a result, we believe our goals for additional asset acquisitions are reasonable given Juhl’s presence in wind power industry and our position in the smaller wind space,” Mitola concluded.

The company created its JRAI Preferred Stock as a direct result of significant interest. The stock allows investment directly into renewable energy projects. Mitola believes with the creation of their JRAI Preferred equity vehicle, they will continue to prove the company can secure assets quickly with a competitive cost of capital and provide investors a solid annual yield.

DNV GL & Texas Tech Partner on Wind Energy Education

Student’s attending Texas Tech University now have more educational opportunities around wind energy. The University’s National Wind Institute and DNV GL are collaborating on a teaching project to expand the availability of wind power courses. Classes will be provided through both in-class and online channels enabling global access to cutting edge instruction and utilizing real-life case studies from the wind energy industry. This collaboration will strengthen future workforce development and allow students in remote locations to participate in a high-quality, certified education process.

Cielo Wind Power farm in Texas“The National Wind Institute strives to educate the next generation of wind energy professionals,” said John Schroeder, director of the National Wind Institute (NWI). “This partnership with DNV GL is another yet another step forward to advance wind energy research and education.”

The program adds depth to Texas Tech’s wind energy program by adding four classes containing up-to-the-minute wind industry case studies developed and led by DNV GL experts who can draw on the company’s 30-year history of involvement in all aspects of the wind industry.

By combining DNV GL’s industry expertise with Texas Tech’s academic excellence, students will have access to wind industry experts to provide current, real-world experiences to supplement the academic fundamentals while working to attain either a managerial or a technical focused Wind Power Certificate from Texas Tech. The program is open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students, and each course will contain cutting edge content from DNV GL, which is known for its high-quality workforce training and thought leadership in the renewable energy industry.

“Renewable energy professionals worldwide already rely on a variety of DNV GL’s existing training programs,” said Kevin Smith, director at DNV GL. “We are excited to participate with Texas Tech in training the wind industry’s future workforce and graduates with industry specific knowledge and case studies so they have increased familiarity with the latest business needs and challenges. We look forward to further collaboration with Texas Tech to educate the wide range of professionals required to meet national wind energy goals – both in the U.S. and other countries.”

This collaboration is slated to last three years and planned to start July 2014 once details are finalized.

2012 Ag Census Includes Renewable Energy

2012-censusThe 2012 Census of Agriculture shows a doubling of on-farm renewable energy production since 2007.

According to the census data released by USDA today, there were 57,299 farms that produced on-farm renewable energy in 2012, more than double the 23,451 in 2007. By far the biggest was solar panels, used on over 36,000 farms. Geoexchange systems and wind turbines each were used on more than 9,000 farms.

For renewable fuels, biodiesel was produced on 4,099 farms and ethanol on 2,397. Small hydro systems were used on about 1300 farms and methane digesters on 537.

The census reveals there are now 3.28 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 914.5 million acres of farmland across the United States. Those numbers are all lower than 2007 when the census reported 3.18 million farmers, 2.2 million farms and 922 million acres. The top 5 states for agricultural sales were California ($42.6 billion); Iowa ($30.8 billion); Texas ($25.4 billion); Nebraska ($23.1 billion); and Minnesota ($21.3 billion). Corn and soybean acres topped 50 percent of all harvested acres for the first time.

Census data is available from USDA online and a recording of the webcast release of the census data is here: USDA Releases 2012 Census Data

ACORE & Lockheed Martin Partner on Energy Education

Lockheed Martin and the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) have formed a partnership to promote renewable energy education through a sponsorship with NASCAR Green, the sustainability arm of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.

“At Lockheed Martin, we’ve been committed to providing innovative energy solutions for decades and we are thrilled to now work alongside ACORE and NASCAR to educate and inspire fans to go green,” said Frank Armijo, vice president of energy solutions at Lockheed Martin. “By helping fans learn more about renewable energy, we can help build a strong, sustainable future.” ACORE Lockheed NASCAR Green Infographic

The goal of the sponsorship is to promote careers in the renewable energy community by highlighting the life-long value of studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in order to build a strong, secure, economically viable and sustainable future. “This is the perfect vehicle for encouraging and engaging young people and lifelong learners to find careers in STEM using renewable energy as their focus,” said ACORE President and CEO, Michael Brower. “A mirror of America, NASCAR fans thrive on the initiative, innovation and determination of their favorite NASCAR drivers and teams. And our renewable energy industry equally mirrors America with our dramatic successes building the new energy infrastructure and bringing down costs in an amazingly short time.”

ACORE and Lockheed Martin will provide educational materials on renewable energy, sustainability and energy security at three NASCAR races in 2014, showcasing various renewable energy technologies and surveying NASCAR fans on their knowledge of renewable energy. The green messages will include technology features of ACORE members including solar panels, biofuels and wind turbines.

“With the educational components of this partnership, ACORE will help to ensure our nation’s youth are equipped to become the next generation of American renewable energy innovators, inventors and industry builders, well-prepared and fully able to create a more prosperous American future built on clean, renewable energy,” said Brower.

In other news, the partners will also target college-aged students for summer fellowship programs for students interested in pursuing a career in alternative energy, renewable energy or energy efficiency. The fellowships were announced during the USA Science and Engineering Festival and begin in the summer of 2015.

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.