Cape Wind Wins Again

Cape Wind has again defeated the efforts of its opponents to block the country’s first offshore wind farm. In a historic decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the FAA’s approval of the Cape Wind project, rejecting every argument that had been advanced by the project’s opponents.

home_page_image_Eco_Tour(1)“The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the Town of Barnstable and their financial backer-coal billionaire Bill Koch– have failed yet again in their continuing campaign to use the courts to delay the financing of Cape Wind,” said Cape Wind Communications Director Mark Rodgers. “The court’s definitive decision is an important legal victory that brings America that much closer to launching its offshore wind industry, a keystone in America’s renewable energy future.”

This decision takes on even greater importance because this was the same court that had previously provided project opponents their sole and temporary relief, opponents have lost all 12 legal decisions in other courts.

On October 28, 2011 this Court had remanded the FAA’s third Determination of No Hazard back to the FAA to better explain the rationale for its decision. On February 9, 2012, the FAA issued a Public Notice of its reinstated project review, indicating its conclusion that “None of the turbines would have an adverse effect on the use of air navigation facilities or navigable airspace.”

On August 15, 2012 the FAA issued its 4th DNH which project opponents challenged, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound pronounced confidence their challenge would be successful. However, this is the case decided again in favor of the FAA and Cape Wind.

Maine Wind Project Gains Key Approval

aquaventasmaineAn update to a story we told you about last week… an offshore wind energy project in Maine has received a key approval from state regulators. This article from CompositesWorld.com says the Maine Public Utilities Commission gave the go-ahead for the Maine Aqua Ventus project, a pilot offshore wind farm project designed to prove the feasibility of floating offshore wind turbines.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission approved a term sheet for the 12-MW Maine Aqua Ventus project proposed by Maine Prime Technologies, a spin-off of the University of Maine (Orono, Maine, USA) and two general partners, engineering firm Cianbro Corp. (Pittsfield, Maine) and energy services firm Emera Inc. (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada).

Under the parameters of the term sheet, the project will produce about 43,000 MWh/year of energy at $0.23/kWh, with an annual increase of 2.5 percent per year for 20 years.

The approval by the commission now allows the Maine Aqua Ventus project to compete for $47 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Maine Wind Project Faces Crucial Vote This A.M.

aquaventasmaineThe fate of an offshore wind project is in the hands of the Maine Public Utilities Commission this morning. This story from the Bangor Daily News says the floating turbine technology project is facing the commission vote on whether it can move forward under a long-term power contract.

Tuesday’s PUC meeting is not a public hearing. Only commissioners will be allowed to speak during the deliberations. They will also be able to ask questions of PUC staff about Maine Aqua Ventus’ project and the project’s term sheet, which details the conditions under which the consortium will sell an estimated 43,000 megawatt hours per year to the power grid from its two, six-megawatt turbines at a price of 23 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s about 14 cents more per kilowatt hour than the current standard offer rate set by the PUC.

The pilot project proposed for waters off Monhegan Island is the next step in the development of UMaine’s offshore wind technology. The university in June 2013 deployed a 1:8-scale model of VolturnUS, its prototype floating turbine, in waters of Castine.

Maine Aqua Ventus I would be a pilot for the future development of a 500-megawatt offshore wind farm project in the Gulf of Maine and possibly elsewhere. The goal is to achieve wind-generated electricity at 10 cents per kilowatt hour by the 2030s.

University of Maine economists say the $120 million project will create more than 300 full- and part-time jobs.

Unlike Diamonds, Fossil Fuels Are Not Forever

what happens when fossil fuels run outPlymouth Rock Energy has released an interesting graphic with the theme, “unlike diamonds, fossil fuels are not forever”. The infographic describes the acceleration of fossil fuels consumption and its ultimate depletion as a viable energy resource. It further states the potentially catastrophic outcomes for contemporary society while, at the same time, offers optimism for charting a new energy conservation course.

What is interesting about Plymouth Rock Energy, is that the company was founded nearly 60 years ago to supply electricity from coal and natural gas. Yet the company’s infographic cites peak fossil fuel production sometime between 2010 and 2020. The company cites experts who suggest that the world will see soaring gas prices due to shortages, a decline in global development and environmental destruction if business continues without chaBuilding a Better Roadnge.

The graphic provides some “better way” solutions including energy conservation through the development of alternative fuel sources and the reduction of carbon dioxide pollution curbing what they term “man-made global warming”.

Plymouth Rock Energy says they believe that utilizing sustainable resources such as natural gas, hydropower, wind, and solar energy production can provide long term solutions. Adding to energy conservation efforts are the use of ethanol fuel blends, readily available natural gas deposits, electricity, and hydrogen fuel cells.

Ethical Electric Receives Electrifying Investment

Ethical Electric, a renewable energy provider that connects consumers to 100% renewable energy, has announced $11 million in Series A funding. A group of investors was led by entrepreneur and impact investor Matthew Palevsky, who will be joining Ethical Electric’s board of directors.

Ethical Electric“Our business model offers the potential to shift a significant number of households to renewable energy sources and help transform the energy industry in the United States,” said Tom Matzzie, founder and CEO of Ethical Electric. “We are proud to be backed by investors who see the potential to give consumers a clean, renewable choice for their energy.”

Matzzie has experience building cause-based communities and was formerly a leader with MoveOn.org. In his past and current role, he has aggregated millions of Americans together for causes for more than a decade.

“The Ethical Electric team is applying their experience building large-scale progressive movements to disrupt incumbents in the energy sector,” said Palevsky. “The company has a compelling, scalable business plan and the right team to make it work.”

Brian Arbogast, a clean tech investor and current director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who led Ethical Electric’s earlier investment round and serves on its board of directors, added, “Tom has developed a very smart business plan and its success has the potential to drive adoption of renewable (solar and wind) energy faster than any other investment opportunity I have seen.”

EU to Miss Its Climate Objectives

According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), the European Commission’s “EU Energy, Transport and GHG Emissions Trends to 2050,” published during the holiday shows that on the basis of current policies the European Union (EU) will fail to meet is 2050 commitment of 80 percent to 90 percent greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions.

The European Commission’s latest reference scenario, based on current trends and adopted policies, shows that EU GHG emissions would fall by 24 percent in 2020, but by EU Trends to 2050just 44 percent in 2050 (compared to 1990 levels), with energy import dependency increasing during the period to almost 57 percent.

“With the EU’s power sector expected to be still pumping out almost 400 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2050, and the EU in an even worse energy security situation, an ambitious 2030 climate and energy framework, with targets for renewable energy and GHG reductions, is more critical than ever. Without such targets energy security and a zero-carbon power sector will be impossible,” said Justin Wilkes, EWEA’s Deputy CEO.

The scenario shows that even under current trends and policies, more wind power capacity will be installed over the next 20 years than any other generating technology – accounting for 37 percent of new installations – with the result that wind energy will be the leading generating technology in Europe by 2040.

“The European Commission’s scenario highlights a positive medium- and long-term outlook for the wind industry. However, a sharp decline in new installations of wind power from 2021 onwards of 27% highlights the vital importance of a long-term stable regulatory framework for the sector, underpinned by a 2030 renewable energy target,” continued Wilkes.

In the European Commission’s scenario, wind and other renewables together account for 59 percent of all new electricity generating installations over the 20 year period to 2035.

Dynamometer Test Facility Sets Wind on New Course

Days before the holiday season, the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) set the wind industry on a new course with the addition of a new 5MW Dynamometer Test Facility at its National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). The new facility will better enable NWTC engineers and their industry partners to verify the performance and reliability of wind turbine drivetrain prototypes and commercial machines. Increased performance and realiability will lead to more competitively cost wind energy.

The facility will be able to test virtually any land-based turbine in more “real time” conditions that turbines experience out on the “farm”.

“These new capabilities make this a very special facility, one of the largest and finest of its kind in the world,” said NWTC Director Fort Felker. “It gives NREL an enhanced ability to do comprehensive testing of modern multi-megawatt wind turbine systems in a laboratory environment to verify their performance and reliability before they are widely deployed.”

A dynamometer system replaces the rotor and blades of a wind turbine and allows researchers to control the turbine drivetrain’s mechanical and electrical systems while simulating normal and extreme operating conditions. Historically, this testing has been done under torque (rotating) loads only. However, the NWTC facility incorporates a non-torque loading s20131226_dynamometer_28229ystem into the testing regimen, a hydraulic device that allows for simulation of both the rotational and bending loads that a wind turbine rotor places on a drivetrain.

“The non-torque loading system is what really sets this facility apart from other comparable test sites,” explained NWTC Dynamometer Project Manager Mark McDade. “This allows us to test the drivetrain system with the types of loads that it will see in a real-world application. It’s a very important feature for a test apparatus because the adverse impacts these types of loads can have on a system are significant.”

The system features a 6-MW motor, which provides the power to a turbine during testing. The motor turns at very high speed and low torque. The motor drives a gearbox, which transforms the output to the high torque and low speed that is appropriate for a wind turbine drivetrain. This provides the rotating loads on the test article. Add to this motorized torque testing the non-torque loading capability unique to the NWTC, and NREL is able to put a wind turbine drivetrain through the most realistic loading tests possible in a laboratory.

“These machines are expected to operate reliably in the field, often in harsh conditions, for 20 years or more,” Felker said. “The ability to comprehensively test these systems in the lab, to verify their reliability and performance before they go into service, is a critically important capability for the wind industry.” Continue reading

Ohioans Support Clean Energy

Ohio is voting “yes” for clean energy according to a new poll conducted by Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future. The survey found that Ohioans support the Ohio Jobs Initiative, the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative by a margin of 35 percent (64 percent likely to vote in favor versus 29 percent unlikely). The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), who found during the survey that 55 percent of respondents were not aware of the Jobs Initiative. The proposed policy needs 385,247 signatures by July 4, 2014 to be on the November 2014 ballot to enable Ohioans to vote on the bill.

According to Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future, who backs the initiative, the Jobs Initiative enacts an amendment that would provide $1.3 billion a year for 10 years from state general obligation bond funding in a comprehensive array of areas, including clean energy YES FOR OHIO'S ENERGY FUTURE CLEAN ENERGYindustries and energy-related public infrastructure projects in the areas of solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, smart grid, along with other technologies. Funding includes research and development, academic and educational development as well as vocational training support.

Beginning in January 2014, the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission (OEIC) will begin accepting a limited number of early project proposals as part of the Fast Start Program; however, funding is limited to one quarter of the annual budget. Early project proposals may be placed on a prioritized list for funding, which is contingent on passage of the Initiative. Eligible categories of applicants include individuals, companies, non-profits, municipalities, and state agencies.

Project proposals for funding will be reviewed by independent reviewers at the OEIC through a simple open, transparent, and publicly-published process that evaluates the technical, economic, financial and environmental merits of each proposal.

Yes for Ohio’s Clean Energy future says the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative mirrors the enormously successful bi-partisan jobs initiative, Ohio Third Frontier, which began in 2002 under Republican Governor Bob Taft and continued under Democratic Governor Ted Strickland. The program is credited with producing 55,000 jobs at an average salary of $65,000 per year and at an overall Return on Investment of 9:1.

Consumer Attitude About Renewable Energy Rebounds

According to a new consumer survey from Navigant Research, favorable attitudes toward a number of clean and renewable energy concepts, particularly solar energy, wind energy, hybrid vehicles and electric cars, have rebounded significantly from their 2012 levels.

The survey finds the average favorability rating for 10 concepts, which fall under the Solar and wind togethercategories of clean energy, clean transportation, smart grid, and building efficiency, also rose, to 51 percent, the highest level seen in Navigant Research’s annual survey since 2010.

“Between 2009 and 2012, there were steady declines in favorability for some clean energy concepts, particularly the most favorable concepts, such as solar energy, wind energy, and hybrid and electric vehicles,” said Clint Wheelock, managing director with Navigant Research. “This year saw statistically significant increases in favorability for seven of the 10 concepts, and a decline for only one – nuclear power.”

The white paper, “Energy and Environment Consumer Survey,” analyzes the survey responses as a basis for comparing consumer views of 10 energy and environment topics to one another. In addition to favorable and unfavorable opinions, the number of respondents unfamiliar with a concept is also considered in order to compare the level of consumer awareness within each topic.

The survey of 1,084 U.S. adults was conducted in the fall of 2013, and asked respondents to provide their level of favorability for the following key concepts: solar energy; wind energy; nuclear power; hybrid vehicles; electric cars; natural gas vehicles; biofuels; smart grid; smart meters and LEED certification.

According the Navigant Research, the similarly high levels of favorable views toward solar and wind energy indicate that consumers are generally supportive of the more established renewable energies that harness naturally occurring power sources. Since these two concepts have retained their most favored status year after year, Navigant Research asserts that consumers consider these renewable energies to be important pieces in the power generation portfolio of the future.

First Wind Supports Local Teachers

First Wind is supporting local teachers for the third year through its partnership with DonorsChoose.org. The program was developed to enhance the value of the company’s financial contributions in communities where they have wind projects. During 2013, the company will award $15,000 to teachers for educational efforts.

Through DonorsChoose, First Wind supports teachers and their innovative classroom projects in its communities that include Sheffield and Lyndonville, Vermont; Danforth, Maine; Beaver, Utah; Boston, Massachusetts; Kahuku, Hawaii; Tekoa, Washington; and other communities.

“As we continue to grow, First Wind is committed to being an active community member and we want to help support innovative and exciting educational projects in our host First Wind Kidscommunities,” said Carol Grant, Senior Vice President of External Affairs at First Wind. “This program starts with the good idea of a teacher in one of our communities. Our contribution is to support that idea and help bring it to life. We’re glad to have a small part in helping these inspiring teachers and their students.”

In its second full year, First Wind funded 43 projects at 31 schools, which reached and positively touched nearly 2,600 students. For example, First Wind donated funds toward a project to supply graphing calculators for a pre-calculus classroom in Mars Hill, Maine, which is near the Mars Hill project. First Wind also donated funds to a classroom in Cedar City, Utah, which is near the Milford Wind projects, to help the classroom purchase books to implement the S.T.E.A.M. program (Science & Technology interpreted through Engineering & the Arts, all based in Mathematical elements).

The recipients of the funds have been publicly grateful to First Wind. “Thank you so much for your donation. Our school has limited funding, especially for anything in addition to what is required,” said Mrs. Heidi Thomas of Milford Elementary School in Milford, Utah who wrote the response on the First Wind DonorsChoose webpage. “Your donation makes it possible for the students in my classroom to experience their learning hands-on. This allows students to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the curriculum. Once again, thank you so much for your support of our school and the vision to create a better future generation.”

Wind Tax Credit Set to Expire

The wind energy tax credit is set to expire tomorrow and unlike last year, there has been virtually no noise from the wind energy industry on the need to save the Production Tax Credit (PTC). In January 2013 Congress extended the tax credit for one year but single wind turbine Photo Joanna Schroederstructured the credit different in the past. Could this be the reason there has been all but silence from the industry on its expiration?

Heading in the the third and fourth quarters of 2012 wind supporters claimed that if the tax credit expired, the industry would all but halt. However this argument has not been heard this year.

While speculation, it could be because when the tax credit was restructured for 2013, it said that a project only has to be in construction by the end of 2013, not completed to qualify for the PTC. But it wasn’t until September of 2013 that the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) released rules that defined a project “in construction” if the project developer has incurred 5 percent of the total capital costs. In addition, the IRS guidelines also stipulate that all the wind turbines for a project must be delivered to the project site by April 15, 2014 and the wind farm must be in operation by December 31, 2015.

Under this structure, the wind industry should remain strong through 2015 and this past month, many companies have announced their wind farm projects have entered the “construction phase”.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), during the forth quarter at least 27 requests for proposals were issued with an estimated 4,175 MW of new wind energy to be generation upon completed. Looking further ahead, reports AWEA, 5,600 MW of new wind projects have secured long-term contracts, and another 1,900 MW have received state regulatory approval.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 12.33.55 PMSo how is 2013 shaping up for the wind industry? AWEA reports that American wind energy will finish 2013 with strong momentum for installations in the new year according to the U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2013 Market Report. The industry experienced a painful slowdown at the beginning of 2013 as result of the scheduled expiration of the federal wind energy PTC at the end of 2012, but has now rebounded. However, says AWEA, lack of certainty over federal tax policies continues to keep wind energy from reaching its full potential in the United States. Continue reading

World Energy Center Heeds Call for Renewable Energy

The Southern California-based World Energy Center is reporting that it has heeded and exceeded President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s call for the use of renewable electricity. The administration has called, as part of its “new energy plan” for America, to develop and use 25 percent renewable electricity by 2025. This will spur clean energy jobs, says the Obama administration as well as reduce greenhouse gases and other sources that lead to climate change.

img_energy-center-mapThe World Energy Center is comprised of more than 30 companies, cities, colleges, participants’ partners and affiliates. Larry Hales with Hales Global Group has been providing consultant business development services and says the World Energy Center is the nation’s leading clean energy nerve center in North America. The Center collaborates with multiple companies to develop the most technological advanced renewable energy projects with the goal of spurring clean energy innovation and creating a commercialization Hub to reduce the cost of clean energy and accelerated its worldwide deployment.

World Energy Center aims to create more new jobs and further economic growth says President and COO, Michael Reich, “With billions being spent on new construction projects, long-term manufacturing, engineering, maintenance and management jobs, ancillary growth and service jobs, manpower will be needed for us to succeed. We need to create green job training facilities, educational programs and a number of diversified renewable energy projects will be brought online.”

The World Energy Center and its collaborative group of partners expect to build out more than 5,000 Megawatts of solar, geothermal, wind, natural gas and other clean energy projects over the next 15 years. Reich said the Center will position the United States as a leader in low cost renewable energy, create tens of thousands of green jobs and educate the next generation of young Americans keeping pace with President Obama’s goal and Energy Secretary Dr. Moniz’s mandate.

Ian Campbell, senior lobbyist with Manchester Associates noted that World Energy Center is extremely efficient at Photovoltaic, PV, converting sunlight into electricity. “We are building on the development of applicable PV affordable solar renewable clean energy which was born in 1979, and today with support from private and public partners, the price of PV systems has fallen in half; however, maintaining such a viable U.S. clean technology industry will require policy makers to advance energy subsidies that will lead to improvements in technology and lower prices.”

ACCIONA Turbines Selected for Wind Farm

ACCIONA has signed a contract to supply 34 turbines for a 102 MW wind farm in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The company will carry out the construction, internal electrical infrastructures and assembly, and will also undertake the operation and maintenance of the facility.

The South Canoe wind farm, which will be the largest in Nova Scotia, has been developed by three local companies: Oxford Frozen Foods, Minas Basin Pulp and Power and the utility company Nova Scotia Power, to which the power generated will be sold. It will use ACCIONA Windpower AW3000/116 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 3 MW, hub height of 92m, and a rotor diameter of 116 metres.

ACCIONA_parque-eolico-canada-pThe facility will supply electricity equivalent to the consumption of 32,000 homes and will help the province of Nova Scotia reach its renewable energy targets.

“ACCIONA was able to deliver what the South Canoe Project team asked for: a complete solution including highly-reliable and high-capacity turbines, construction services and operations and maintenance,” said Ilya Hartmann, CEO of ACCIONA Energy North America. “We’re pleased to apply our full range of wind energy services to provide the best value for this project.”

ACCIONA Windpower North America CEO Enrique Teruel says the company “is proud to be part of the South Canoe Wind Project and to continue expanding the track record of our AW3000 turbine in North America.”

To date, orders for the AW3000 turbines amount to 1,491 MW and the wind turbines are destined for wind farms in nine different countries. Nearly half this figure corresponds to wind farms in North America, and 78 percent of the total capacity will be supplied to customers outside the ACCIONA Group.

EU Guidelines Undermine Renewable Energy

The European Commission proposes putting an end to differentiated support for renewable technologies such as onshore and offshore wind in its consultation of draft State aid guidelines for energy and the environment published this week according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). This would effectively stop Member States from determining their own energy mix – a fundamental principle of EU energy policy says EWEA.

AREVA OFFSHORE MASTS“These guidelines, if adopted in their present form, endanger Member States’ ability to meet their 2020 renewable energy targets cost effectively,” said Pierre Tardieu from the EWEA. “Moreover, following the destabilising regulatory changes for renewable energy in many countries, requiring further fundamental changes to support mechanisms would cause major investor uncertainty.” The organization has drafted its own brief related to the EU’s proposed guidelines.

EWEA is calling for Member States and stakeholders to speak out to ensure the guidelines do not put at risk their path to the 2020 targets when they take part in the consultation on the proposal that has been launched. The guidelines are expected to enter into force on 1 July 2014.

Separately, the European Commission has announced investigations into the German renewable energy support mechanism, the EEG, and the UK’s measures offering generous support to nuclear energy.

“The EEG investigation risks undermining the wind industry in Germany by destabilising investors, and putting at risk the jobs, energy security and industrial leadership brought by wind and other renewables,” said Tardieu. “The Commission needs to carry out this investigation as rapidly and with as little disruption as possible.”

“The UK nuclear investigation is welcome, since the proposed 35-year subsidy would wreck efforts for a single European electricity market until after the year 2058 – over 100 years after the first commercial nuclear power plant was installed at Sellafield/Windscale in the UK,” Tardieu concluded.

Marshall County Wind Farm Begins Construction

Laurel MorningMarshall Wind Energy LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of RPM Access LLC, has begun construction of its 74 MW wind farm in Marshall County near Beattie, Kansas. The company executed a high voltage transmission interconnection agreement with Westar Energy and Southwest Power Pool in mid-2011. Under the terms of this arrangement, the two companies are coordinating their efforts to pursue all design, engineering and construction activities related to the Westar 115kV Marshall County Wind Farm Switching Station and the Marshall Energy Rock Substation. Energization is scheduled for August 2014 with wind farm commercial operations expected by year end 2014.

A contract has also been signed with Mortenson Construction to provide balance-of-plant design and construction management activities. Marshall Wind has established a local business office in Beattie. An on-site construction management office and equipment have been mobilized to support construction of access roads to wind turbine locations along with substation site grading and foundation work activities that are now underway.

Renewable energy generated by the project will be purchased by multiple entities via long-term contracts. In September, Marshall Wind signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for 20 MW with the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC). The project will qualify for current renewable production tax credits (PTCs). Located within the Southwest Power Pool market region, Marshall Wind in 2014 is ideally positioned to offer for sale under long-term contract(s) the remaining available capacity.

The project is anticipated to create more than 150 jobs during the construction phase and approximately four permanent positions. The wind farm will also benefit the community by strengthening the local economy and providing a steady flow of revenue to Marshall County.