DOE Announces $150M in Clean Energy Tax Credits

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $150 million in clean energy tax credits to build U.S. capabilities in clean energy manufacturing. The credits will go towards investments in domestic manufacturing equipment by 12 businesses. Through the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program (48C Program), DOE says these awards will help create thousands of jobs across the country and increase U.S. competitiveness in the global clean energy market.

DOE Energy Secretary Ernest MonizU.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz announced the 48C Program awards during the Energy Department’s American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit, jointly sponsored by the Council on Competitiveness. As part of the Department’s broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, this summit brings together industry, government, academia and the Department’s national laboratories to address national challenges in manufacturing and energy.

“Cost-effective, efficient manufacturing plays a critical role in continuing U.S. leadership in clean energy innovation, and the tax credits announced today will help reduce carbon pollution from our vehicles and buildings; create new jobs and supply more clean energy projects in the United States and abroad with equipment made in America,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

The Departments of Energy and the Treasury worked in partnership to develop, launch, and award the funds for this program. The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit authorized Treasury to provide developers with an investment tax credit of 30 percent for the manufacture of particular types of energy equipment. Funded at $2.3 billion, the tax credit was made available to 183 domestic clean energy manufacturing facilities during Phase I of the program. Today’s awards, or Phase II, were launched to utilize $150 million in tax credits that were not used by the previous awardees and support projects that must be placed in service by 2017.

Today’s awards include domestic manufacturing of a wide range of renewable energy and energy efficiency products – from hydropower and wind energy to smart grid technologies to fuel efficient vehicles – and will support thousands of new manufacturing jobs in nine states and dozens of supply chains throughout the United States.

China’s Offshore Wind Power Industry on Track

During the 18th Congress of Chinese Communist Party meeting, a call was made to create a “Biological Civilization” strategy that would encompass a plan for more use of green energy including offshore wind. On June 4-6, 2014 Offshore Wind China 2014, Wind Farm O&A China 2014 and Distributed Generation China 2014 are simultaneously taking place at the Shanghai New International Expo Center and Shangri-La’s Kerry Hotel Pudong.

Optimale Bedingungen / Ideal conditionsThe organizers of the June events include Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Committee, China National Renewable Energy Centre and Shanghai International Exhibition Co., Ltd. The groups have announced they will focus on the seven topics for the conferences in an effort to move the offshore wind industry and green energy industries forward.

1. Experience Wind Power Industry’s Turn-around through Release of Latest Progress on Offshore Wind Projects. Offshore wind power developers along with planning and design organizations will be invited to deliver speeches on progress of offshore wind power projects.

2. Catch New Industry Trends by Bringing together Leading Wind Turbine Manufacturers. Key offshore wind turbines manufacturers, including Vestas / Mitsubishi, Goldwind, Gamesa, United Power, Sinovel, Shanghai Electrics / Siemens and Ming Yang will gather to present the advanced offshore wind technologies.

3. Capture Future Market Opportunities in Sector of Wind Farm Operation and Maintenance. The event features Wind Farm O&M Market to explore life-cycle management and after-sales services of onshore and offshore wind farms.

4. Provide Full-range Solutions with Focus on Offshore Installation and Construction. With a focus on offshore installations and construction, leading offshore installation companies including CCCC Third, ZPMC, Jiangsu Longyuan Zhenhua, CCCC Fourth will gather at this event to showcase installation equipments and share practical experiences.

5. Join Hands with Leading Wind Power Nations to Share in Advanced Experience. Attendees will meet with associations and delegations from developed countries including U.K., Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and U.S. to have exchanges with overseas firms.

6. Improve Trade Mechanism by Expanding On-site Communications and Negotiations. The event will further enhance the trade mechanism to hold “On-Site Match-making Meetings between Turbine Manufacturers and Components Suppliers”.

7. Witness Offshore Mega Project by Visiting Offshore Wind Farm under Construction. Attendees will have opportunity to visit East Sea Bridge Offshore Wind Farm (Phase II) during its construction stage, and the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the first of its kind in China.

Staggering Wind Turbines Produces More Energy

According to the University of Delaware’s Cristina Archer and her Atmosphere and Energy Research Group, staggering and spacing out turbines in an offshore wind farm can improve performance by as much as 33 percent. The findings, which appeared in Geophysical Research Letters, could help engineers plan improved offshore wind farms.

“Staggering every other row was amazingly efficient,” said Archer, associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering and geography in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.

Sund_mpazdzioraThe researchers used an existing offshore wind farm near Sweden as the basis for their study, comparing the existing tightly packed, grid-like layout to six alternative configurations. In some, they kept the turbines in neat rows but spaced them farther apart. In others, they shifted the alignment of every other row, similar to how rows of theatre seats are staggered to improve the views of people further back.

In computer-intensive simulations that each took weeks to run, the team took into account the eddies, or swirls of choppy air, that wind turbines create downwind as their blades spin — and how that air movement would impact surrounding turbines.

They found that the most efficient arrangement was a combination of two approaches. By both spacing the turbines farther apart and staggering the rows, the improved layout would decrease losses caused by eddies and improve overall performance by a third.

The optimal configuration had the rows oriented to face the prevailing wind direction, for example from the southwest in the summer along the U.S. East Coast. Most locations, however, have more than one dominant direction from where wind blows throughout the year. The optimal configuration for a season may not be optimal in another season, when the prevailing wind changes direction and intensity.

Considering these various factors could better inform where and how to configure future offshore wind farms, Archer explained. “We want to explore all these trade-offs systematically, one by one,” she said.

The study is part of Archer’s overall research focus on wind and applications for renewable energy production. Trained in both meteorology and engineering, she uses weather data and complex calculations to estimate the potential for wind as a power source.

Offshore Wind Needs EUR123 Billion to Meet Goals

EWEA offshore wind financial reportAccording to new research, the offshore wind energy sector needs up to EUR123 billion in investment between now and 2020 if it is to meet its target of 40 GW of installed capacity. Equity and debt provides are willing to invest; however, they are holding back due to regulatory instability.

What’s blocking the investment is the uncertainty caused by changing regulatory frameworks, not least in the two largest markets, the UK and Germany, the independent survey of the financial community shows.

“By undermining investment stability, governments are putting green growth, jobs and a world-leading European industry at risk,” said CEO of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), Thomas Becker, at the report launch in Frankfurt at EWEA OFFSHORE 2013. “Stable national frameworks and a binding EU renewable energy target for 2030 will be a green light to investors and ensure the industry continues to flourish.”

The report, ‘Where’s the money coming from? Financing offshore wind farms‘ comes from EWEA with research from Ernst and Young.

Duke Settles Wind Farms Bird Deaths Suit

Duke Energy Renewables has announced it has reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the deaths of golden eagles and other migratory birds at two of Duke Energy’s wind generation sites in Wyoming. The DOJ brought misdemeanor charges under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for 14 golden eagle mortalities within the past three years at Duke Energy’s Top of the World Windpower Project and Campbell Hill Windpower Project near Casper, Wyoming.

Golden_EagleGolden eagles are not listed as threatened or endangered under U.S. law. However, they are protected under the MBTA.

Federal fines and restitution of $1 million will be levied against Duke Energy Renewables. These funds will be dispersed to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The Conservation Fund.

“Our goal is to provide the benefits of wind energy in the most environmentally responsible way possible,” said Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables. “We deeply regret the impacts to golden eagles at two of our wind facilities. We have always self reported all incidents, and from the time we discovered the first fatality, we’ve been working closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to take proactive steps to correct the problem.”

The company has engaged in several steps to reduce further bird deaths that they believe is a first in the industry. These included:

  • Installing and testing new radar technology to assist in the detection of airborne eagles on or near the site, which was developed from the same technology used in Afghanistan to monitor incoming missiles.
  • Instituting a curtailment program using field biologists, who radio for turbines to be temporarily shut down upon sighting an eagle in the vicinity.
  • Further curtailing turbines during periods of high eagle flight activity.
  • Instituting migratory bird training programs for wind technicians and developing a reporting system to track any findings related to avian populations on the sites.
  • Removing rock and debris piles that attract eagle prey.
  • Continuing to voluntarily report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) all eagle and migratory bird mortalities and meeting with the agency regularly to discuss adaptive management measures to reduce avian mortality. Continue reading

S.C. Opens Largest Wind Energy Testing Facilities

wind_testing_cert-1The U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman recently joined with officials from Clemson University to dedicate the nation’s largest and one of the world’s most advanced wind energy testing facilities in North Charleston, S.C. Led by Clemson University’s Restoration Institute, the facility will help test and validate new turbines, particularly for offshore wind – helping to speed deployment of next generation energy technology, reduce costs for manufacturers and boost global competitiveness for American companies.

“Developing America’s vast renewable energy resources is an important part of the Energy Department’s all-of-the-above strategy to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future,” said Deputy Secretary Poneman. “The Clemson testing facility represents a critical investment to ensure America leads in this fast-growing global industry – helping to make sure the best, most efficient wind energy technologies are developed and manufactured in the United States.”

Congressman Jim Clyburn said, “This facility is about job creation, sustainable growth and energy independence, while building the infrastructure to power America’s economic growth and prosperity for years to come. I applaud Clemson University for their leadership in bringing this cutting edge research to South Carolina and North Charleston. Wind energy represented over 40% of new electricity production in the United States in 2012, but there is still tremendous amount of untapped potential for this technology. I look forward to this industry creating jobs while providing clean renewable energy.”

Located at a former Navy warehouse with easy access to rail and water transport, the Clemson facility will test machinery that converts both onshore and offshore wind to electricity and allow engineers to simulate 20 years’ worth of wear and tear on drivetrains in a few months. The facility’s proximity to the coast also makes it ideal for U.S. and international companies to testing larger offshore wind turbines.

Supported by a $47 million Energy Department investment as well as about $60 million in outside funding, the facility is equipped with two testing bays – for up to 7.5-megawatt  and 15-megawatt drivetrains, respectively. The facility will also feature a gridwind_testing_cert-2 simulator that mimics real-world conditions and can help private industry and public researchers better study interactions between wind energy technologies and the U.S. power grid.

Over the past four years, the Energy Department has made significant investments in our nation’s wind turbine testing capabilities, including the Scaled Wind Farm Technology facility in Lubbock, Texas, to help optimize whole wind farms’ performance and power production as well as the United States’ first commercial large-blade test facility in Boston Harbor.

These efforts build off the Department’s National Wind Technology Center in Boulder, Colo., which has helped drive new wind technology development since 1993. This past week, the Department dedicated a new five-megawatt dynamometer at the center to further strengthen its capabilities and conduct research on stronger, more durable wind drivetrains for land-based wind farms. Connected to a grid simulator as well as operating multi-megawatt turbines at the center, the new installation will also help study grid interactions and test energy storage devices simultaneously.

Bison Wind Energy Center Wins Award

bison-wind-farmMinnesota Power’s Bison Wind Energy Center in North Dakota was voted the best wind project of the year at the 2013 POWER-GEN International Conference. According to Minnesota Power spokespeople, this award is considered the industry’s top honor for a new wind generation project.

“It’s gratifying to be honored by your peers for conceiving and completing a world-class renewable energy project,” said Al Hodnik, chairman, president and CEO of ALLETE Inc., the parent company of Minnesota Power. “Wind generation is a critical component in achieving our EnergyForward resource strategy of an energy mix that is one-third renewable, one-third coal and one-third natural gas as we help transform the nation’s energy landscape.”

Minnesota Power was honored for phases 2 and 3 of the Bison Project, whose capacity of 292 MW includes 85 state-of-the-art direct-drive Siemens 3MW turbines. The energy is delivered to customers using a repurposed direct current transmission line, originally built in the 1970s to send coal-based power from Center, North Dakota to Duluth, Minn.

On August 1, Minnesota Power announced it was moving ahead with phase 4 of the Bison project pending regulatory approval, a 205MW addition that will make it the largest wind farm in North Dakota at nearly 500 MW of capacity.

November 2013 Short-Term Energy Outlook

2013 STEO RenewableThe U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released its November 2013 Short-Term Energy Outlook and Winter Fuels Outlook. The report comes at the same time the 2013 World Energy Outlook was released by the International Energy Agency.

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • The weekly U.S. average regular gasoline retail price has fallen by more than 40 cents per gallon since the beginning of September. EIA’s forecast for the regular gasoline retail price averages $3.24 per gallon in the fourth quarter of 2013, $0.10 per gallon less than forecast in last month’s STEO. The annual average regular gasoline retail price, which was $3.63 per gallon in 2012, is expected to average $3.50 per gallon in 2013 and $3.39 per gallon in 2014.
  • The North Sea Brent crude oil spot price averaged nearly $110 per barrel for the fourth consecutive month in October. EIA expects the Brent crude oil price to decline gradually, averaging $106 per barrel in December and $103 per barrel in 2014. Projected West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices average $95 per barrel during 2014.
  • The projected discount of the WTI crude oil spot price to Brent, which averaged more than $20 per barrel in February 2013 and fell below $4 per barrel in July, increased to an average of $9 per barrel in October, driven in part by the seasonal decline in U.S. demand and the resulting increase in crude oil inventories. EIA expects the WTI discount to average $10 per barrel during the fourth quarter of 2013 and $8 per barrel in 2014.
  • U.S. crude oil production averaged 7.7 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in October. Monthly estimated domestic crude oil production exceeded crude oil imports in October for the first time since February 1995, while total petroleum net imports were the lowest since February 1991. EIA forecasts U.S. crude oil production will average 7.5 million bbl/d in 2013 and 8.5 million bbl/d in 2014.
  • Natural gas working inventories ended October at an estimated 3.81 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), 0.12 Tcf below the level at the same time a year ago but 0.05 Tcf above the previous five-year average (2008-12). EIA expects that the Henry Hub natural gas spot price, which averaged $2.75 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2012, will average $3.68 per MMBtu in 2013 and $3.84 per MMBtu in 2014.

EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski issued the following comments about the findings.

Renewables: “Wind power generation is forecast to grow by 17% this year and by nearly 4% in 2014, accounting for more than 4% of total U.S. electricity generation next year. EIA expects continued robust growth in solar power, with solar generation by the U.S. electric power sector increasing 82% this year and jumping another 84% in 2014. However, utility-scale solar power will continue to be a small share of total U.S. electric generation at less than 1%.”

U.S. Liquid Biofuels: “U.S. ethanol production has recovered from last year’s drought. Ethanol production increased from an average of 806,000 barrels per day in October 2012 to 892,000 barrels per day this October, and is forecast to grow to 900,000 barrels per day during 2014.“ Continue reading

Call for EU Climate & Energy Framework

Eight European companies are calling for a strong 2030 EU climate and energy framework based on mutually reinforcing tools and targets, including an ambitious and legally binding target for the share of renewable energy in the energy mix of more than 30 percent. Collectively, the group represents 176,000 jobs and over EUR250 billion annual turnover and is providing cleaner generation technologies, equipment and energy to more than 70 countries worldwide.

According to the group, Europe must remain on the path it has chosen. The energy sector has long investment cycles, and investment decisions in the EU’s liberalised energy Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 9.43.18 AMmarkets need as much policy certainty as possible. The group also says the key to minimizing costs is a stand-alone, stable and predictable 2030 framework with an ambitious binding renewables target alongside an ambitious binding greenhouse gas reduction target and a robust CO2 price.

“Mutually reinforcing and coordinated targets will significantly minimise uncertainty, lower investment risk, reduce the costs of capital and hence the level of additional financial support needed,” the group writes in a statement. “This framework will help Europe’s competitiveness by driving innovation and technological leadership, and job creation. It will bring down our energy and electricity bills, and help remove the need for renewable energy support in future. It will help ensure a reliable, low-cost supply of clean energy for Europe’s citizens and industry.”

In addition, the group call for a need to reduce energy prices and risks, a fair market, and the need for a coherent overall energy system. Finally, they say, this change will not be possible without a true European market.

“The European single energy market must be rolled out and all efforts should be made to finalise the deployment of vital transnational networks and power exchange mechanisms whilst ensuring the viability of the other parts of the energy system. In this way Europe will maximise its consumption of clean renewable energy, reduce its enormous energy dependence and reduce energy prices for Europe’s citizens,” the statement concludes.

World Energy Outlook 2013 Released

According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2013 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO-2013), technology and high prices are opening up new oil resources, but this does not mean the world is on the verge of an era of oil abundance. The report also finds that the Middle East, the only large source of low-cost oil, will take back its role as a key source of oil supply growth beginning in the mid-2020s. Between now and then, America and Brazil will play a key role in providing oil.

WEO_2013_Cover_WEB1The annual report presents a central scenario in which global energy demand rises by one-third in the period to 2035. The shift in global energy demand to Asia gathers speed, but China moves towards a back seat in the 2020s as India and countries in Southeast Asia take the lead in driving consumption higher. The Middle East also moves to center stage as an energy consumer, becoming the world’s second-largest gas consumer by 2020 and third-largest oil consumer by 2030, redefining its role in global energy markets. Brazil, a special focus in WEO-2013, maintains one of the least carbon-intensive energy sectors in the world, despite experiencing an 80 percent increase in energy use to 2035 and moving into the top ranks of global oil producers.

Energy demand in OECD countries barely rises and by 2035 is less than half that of non-OECD countries. Low-carbon energy sources meet around 40 percent of the growth in global energy demand. In some regions, rapid expansion of wind and solar PV raises fundamental questions about the design of power markets and their ability to ensure adequate investment and long-term reliability.

“Major changes are emerging in the energy world in response to shifts in economic growth, efforts at decarbonisation and technological breakthroughs,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “We have the tools to deal with such profound market change. Those that anticipate global energy developments successfully can derive an advantage, while those that do not risk taking poor policy and investment decisions.”

The availability and affordability of energy is a critical element of economic well-being and, in many countries, also of industrial competitiveness. In WEO-2013, large variations in energy prices persist through to 2035, affecting company strategies and investment decisions in energy-intensive industries. The United States sees its share of global exports of energy-intensive goods slightly increase to 2035, providing the clearest indication of the link between relatively low energy prices and the industrial outlook. By contrast, the European Union and Japan see their share of global exports decline – a combined loss of around one-third of their current share.

“Lower energy prices in the United States mean that it is well-placed to reap an economic advantage, while higher costs for energy-intensive industries in Europe and Japan are set to be a heavy burden,” said Fatih Birol, IEA Chief Economist. Continue reading

U.S. Electricity Mix is Changing

According to the most recent Today in Energy published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the mix of fuels used to generate the electricity in homes, factories and businesses across the U.S. has changed over the past few years. While coal remains in the lead, with all the grassroots efforts around ending coal use and as a result the decommissioning of coal plants across the country, the fossil fuel has lost share to other players including natural gas and non-hydroelectric renewables such as wind and solar.

Regional Electricity Use mapThe report show that the generation mix is not uniform across the country and varies significantly by region (EIA has divided the country into seven regions) depending on available resources and regional market prices. There are several factors that affect fuel mix in any given month including the region’s capacity, the delivered costs of fuels and system constraints.

Natural gas has gained market share from coal in much of the country, find the report, but this is less true in markets closer to the cheaper Powder River Basin coal in the West. Renewable sources are generally growing, especially in Texas and the West. Petroleum-fired electricity generation has been declining for several decades, but it can continue play an important role at rare times when other alternatives are not available.

EIA is planning on publishing a series of articles focused on each region and its electricity generation mix over the coming weeks.

Sustainable Roadmap for Jamaica Released

The Worldwatch Institute has released the report, “Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap: Pathways to an Affordable, Reliable, Low-Emission Electricity System,” that looks at the measures that the Jamaican government can take to transition its electricity sector to one that is socially, environmentally and financially sustainable. The report also analyzes the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment in Jamaica and discusses the social and economic impacts of alternative energy pathways, concluding that a scenario of high renewable penetration can bring significant savings, greater energy security, gains in competitiveness, and many other important benefits to the country.

Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap“Jamaica is paying a colossal price to import polluting and health-threatening fossil fuels, even when it has the best clean energy resources at its doorstep: wind, solar, hydro, and biomass,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch and a co-author of the study. “The Jamaican government has set a nationwide goal of 20 percent renewable energy use by 2030; our Roadmap will help to realize this goal. What’s more, our analysis shows that the bar can and should be set much higher: Jamaica can become a zero-carbon island in a matter of decades, and its people would benefit enormously from such a transition.”

Worldwatch collaborated closely on this project with the Government of Jamaica. “I am very confident that the outcome of this project will enable Jamaica to map, in more precise ways, the additional electricity generation capacity that we seek,” says Jamaican Energy Minister Philip Paulwell. “We intend to use the Roadmap to determine the next phase of new generation capacity, and it will enable us to be far more efficient than we have in the past.”

Jose Maria Figueres, president of the Carbon War Room and former president of Costa Rica, points to the broader benefits of the study and Worldwatch’s Sustainable Energy Roadmap work: “This report provides the practical steps that enable us to fast-forward the deployment of renewable energy. With it, we can boost national economies and improve conditions of well-being. [Jamaica] can become a shining example of what the future is all about.”

The Roadmap also delves into the full societal costs of Jamaica’s current electricity sector to the costs of alternative pathways that are based on high shares of domestic renewable energy. The report concludes that Jamaica will benefit economically, socially, and environmentally if it relies more heavily on renewable energy sources and less on fossil fuels. In addition, based on analysis of Jamaica’s investment environment, the Roadmap suggests regulatory and institutional changes that will be necessary to attract new investments in clean energy solutions.

Energy Title “Vital” in Farm Bill

More than 40 bipartisan House and Senate members including Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representatives Dave Loebsack (D-2-IA) and Aaron Schock (R-18-IL), sent “Dear Colleague” letters to Farm Bill Conference leaders stressing the vital importance of the energy title (Title IX). In response, the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) praised the legislator’s letter of support.

Farm in Wisconsin“The energy title is critically important to helping rural areas move towards diverse renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities including wind, solar, biomass, biogas, efficiency upgrades, and hydro in all 50 states,” said Congressman Dave Loebsack on the Farm Bill’s Energy Title. “These programs are also helping our agricultural producers and rural economies be more efficient and adding value to things like farm waste for energy production. They also are critically important to continue to develop cutting edge advanced biofuels that will create jobs here at home and help our nation become more energy secure for use in everything from cars and trucks, to planes and our military.”

The letters continued by saying “REAP, BCAP and BAP are just three examples of energy title programs that are helping our nation utilize our rich agricultural capacity to produce reliable domestic energy. American farmers have long led the world in food crop production, but as we seek to become more energy independent and less reliant on foreign sources of energy to power our economy, ag-based energy products are increasingly important; energy title programs significantly enhance the development of our nation’s clean energy and agriculture economy.”

Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC), said of the letters of support, “We would like to extend thanks to the more than 40 Senators and Representatives who expressed their support for vital Farm Bill Energy programs. We especially thank Senators Klobuchar and Blunt, along with Representatives Loebsack and Shock, for their leadership. These Farm Bill energy programs have supported renewable energy development and energy efficiency in rural communities and have helped create or save thousands of good paying jobs. The continued success of these programs requires the long term sustainability of a five year Farm Bill and the necessary investment to maintain healthy programs.”

Legislation Introduced to Support Renewable Electricity

utility scale solar projectU.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Udall (D-CO) have introduced a bill that if passed, would establish a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). The bill would require utilities to generate 25 percent of their power from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2025. The first cousins, say the bill would create jobs, reduce pollution, reduce dependence on foreign fossil fuels, hold down utility rates, boost private investments in state economies and save consumers money.

“Clean energy creates jobs, spurs innovation, reduces global warming and makes us more energy independent. This common-sense proposal would extend Colorado’s successful effort to expand the use of renewable energy alongside natural gas and coal to the entire nation,” said Mark Udall. “I was honored to lead the effort to institute a renewable energy standard in Colorado and am proud to join with Sen. Tom Udall to bring this policy to the nation.”

Christopher Mansour, Vice President of Federal Affairs of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) applauded the proposed legislation. “Removing market barriers and providing a competitive structure that allows the nation to recognize solar energy’s full potential is a top priority for America’s solar industry. We’ve already seen what well-structured renewable energy standards have meant in states. They’ve opened electricity markets to allow for more competition from renewable sources of energy and ultimately driven down the cost of electricity for consumers.

Mansour noted that the success can be replicated at the national level. “A national standard that successfully deploys solar energy would diversify our energy portfolio, reduce costs for consumers, and create jobs. We look forward to constructively working with policymakers to ensure that all forms of solar energy, including solar heating and cooling technologies, work to meet this goal.”

Wind Farms in Northern Cape Move Forward

Three large-scale wind energy projects in the Northern Cape, South Africa with a total generation capacity of 300 megawatts is moving forward and on track to be fully operational in mid-2014. A consortium led by global wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power has been awarded Preferred Bidder by the Department of Energy in South Africa. The award was made under the third round of the South African Government’s Renewable Energy Procurement Programme. The Mainstream consortium was awarded 238 megawatts of wind and solar projects in the first round of the programme back in 2011.

The projects, which represent an investment of approximately ZAR 9 billion, are expected to reach Financial Close by August next year and commence construction shortly thereafter.

Mainstream Renewable PowerCommenting on the announcement, Eddie O’Connor, Chief Executive of Mainstream Renewable Power said, “The team here in Mainstream is delighted with our success today. I understand the quality was very high; there were 93 bids submitted, only 17 were successful today and we won three of those. Mainstream is now the leading developer of renewable energy in South Africa; we have three wind and solar projects due to be operational in the coming months and now a further three large-scale wind farms due to start construction next year. More than five years ago Mainstream identified the future potential of the South African market and we are delighted that the quality of our projects and the experience of our team has been recognised today.”

O’Connor congratulated the South African government for putting in place a “world-class” process and for the “superb manner” in which it has been executed. He noted that the win underpins the company’s long-term commitment to working with partners to bring the benefits of renewable energy, not only to South Africa but to the continent of Africa.

“This marks an extraordinarily successful time for Mainstream globally. This month we closed a €100 million equity investment with Japanese Trading House Marubeni Corporation, we signed a ground-breaking deal with Actis in Chile to build 600 MW of wind and solar projects by 2016; more than 500 private landowners have signed up for our 5,000 MW wind export project in Ireland and IKEA purchased our Carrickeeny wind farm in Ireland,” added O’Connor.

The wind farms awarded under this round are:

  • The 140MW Khobab Wind Farm located in the District Municipality of Namakwa in the Northern Cape.
  • The 140MW Loeriesfontein 2 Wind Farm located in the District Municipality of Namakwa in the Northern Cape
  • The 80MW Noupoort Wind Farm located in the Local Municipality of Umsobomvu in the Northern Cape