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jpak's Journal
jpak's Journal
January 21, 2012

Solar surge hurts coal, deepens Merkel's puzzle (Germany)


Germany is installing so many solar panels that profits at coal-fired power stations run by EON AG and RWE AG may slide more than 40 percent by the middle of 2012.

The country, Europe’s biggest electricity market, installed a record 3,000 megawatts of new panels in December, the Bonn- based Bundesnetzagentur, the network regulator, said this month. The prospect of a glut of power may drive the margin from burning coal to generate electricity, the so-called clean-dark spread, as low as 5 euros ($6.43) a megawatt hour by July, according to UBS AG. It was at 8.70 euros at 8:15 p.m. in Berlin Wednesday, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

"There is not much overcapacity yet, but it will get worse as there is a lot of new supply coming," Patrick Hummel, an analyst at UBS in Zurich who has covered German energy for more than 10 years, said by e-mail on Jan. 16. Germany may be oversupplied for at least five years, according to the bank.


Operators of coal and gas plants including EON and RWE lose a combined 300 million euros in pretax earnings per year, based on current installed solar capacity cutting operating hours at fossil-burning plants, according to Hummel.

January 20, 2012

World's Largest Wind Farm in Wyoming to Be Equipped with 1000 Wind Turbines


The 2500 GW to be generated are part of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy facility, a 2012 energetic priority for the US Interior Department.

World’s biggest wind farm could be built in Wyoming with 1,000 wind turbines. Europe was the global leader with cumulative installed wind energy capacity of 86 GW at the end of 2010, Asia was second with 58.6 GW and North America was third with 44.1 GW of wind power.

Anyone who has ever travelled through Wyoming comes away realising that the US state is an iconic symbol of wide-open spaces, intimidating mountain ranges and powerful winds.

Building on this natural bounty, it now seems likely that the state will soon be home to North America’s largest wind farm — as many as 1,000 wind turbines generating up to 2,500 megawatts of emissions-free electricity for 30 years.


note: I'm pretty sure they meant 2500 MW - not GW...
January 20, 2012

First Wind gets OK for (150 MW) Maine wind project


Energy company First Wind has landed approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for its proposed 150 megawatt Oakfield Wind project in Aroostook County, Maine, where it could create 300 local construction jobs, according to the company.

The Boston-based wind energy company said it submitted an amendment in June 2011 to increase the size of its original proposal for a 51 megawatt Oakfield project, which received approval from the Maine DEP in January 2010. The company added that it hopes to move ahead with the project soon.

“The local review process on this project has been unprecedented,” Matt Kearns, First Wind’s vice president of business development, said in a statement. “We provided resources for the town to hire independent sound experts, engineers, and lawyers and participated in a lengthy and robust review process in which issues of local interest were fully reviewed. We did that both for the originally planned project, and again based on the revised project layout.”

Located about 2.5 miles from the center of Oakfield, Maine, the project will consist of 50 3-megawatt turbines that have the capacity to power more than 48,000 homes.

January 20, 2012

Report: Wind turbines donít cause health problems


There is little to no evidence that wind turbines pose a risk to the health of residents living near them, a panel of independent scientists and doctors found in a report commissioned by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The panel concluded that there is no rigorous research showing that churning turbines or the resulting flickering light and vibrations produce dizziness, nausea, depression, or anxiety - a set of symptoms that critics call “wind turbine syndrome.’’

But the 164-page report released yesterday found “limited evidence’’ that the noise from wind turbines can result in sleep disruption and annoyance.

“It is extremely important that we have the best science available to us as we make decisions on wind energy,’’ Kenneth Kimmell, state environmental protection commissioner, said in an interview.

January 20, 2012

Solar PV Competitive With Oil And Gas In MENA Nations


With the cost of solar panels and associated equipment dropping rapidly while gas prices have been rising, solar PV is now competitive with fossil fuel in many Middle East/North Africa (MENA) countries for electricity generation.

According to a recent report from the Emirates Solar Industry Association (ESIA), when oil or LNG prices are above US$13 /million British thermal units (MMBtu) or around $80/barrel oil, solar PV projects become commercially viable - and without subsidies. With solar PV pricing expected to fall further, it will then become a case where harvesting clean energy from the sun becomes an even better proposition.

EISA also points out that in most MENA countries, electricity prices at the consumption end are subsidised - through financial support of the generator or regulated prices well below fuel import prices; or the price at which that fuel could be exported. An example is Saudi Arabia, where oil is supplied to power plants for as little as $2.70 a barrel. This presents an "opportunity cost" loss of around $50 billion annually - over 10% of Saudi Arabia's nominal GDP.

Given such support, solar power is viewed as uncompetitive - but the loss to the Saudi government and consequently its people through propping up fossil fuel based power generation is massive. Removal of electricity subsidies, or extension of those subsidies to solar power, would level the playing field says EISA.


January 20, 2012

Polysilicon Prices To Drop in 2012, Bringing Solar PV Prices to 70 Cents a Watt


The structural oversupply of solar modules on the global market has driven down prices for photovoltaic panels at an astonishing pace. And new analysis shows that decline will only continue into 2012.

In 2011, the average selling price for crystalline silicon PV modules was cut in half — falling from $1.80 at the beginning of the year to $0.90 in December, according GTM Research.

With a glut of silicon now on the market, buyers are starting to renegotiate contracts downward. This could help drop the average price for crystalline silicon solar modules to as low as $0.70 a watt.

Brett Prior, a senior analyst with GTM Research explains how a ramp-up in silicon production activity in 2011 will impact the market over the coming year:

In 2011, in the polysilicon industry — and the solar supply chain in general — manufacturing outpaced end-use. After a half-decade of silicon demand outstripping supply, the aggressive expansion plans finally overshot. This supply/demand imbalance will push producers to lower contract prices closer to the level of manufacturing costs at $20 per kilogram, and will force higher-cost manufacturers to exit the industry. While the solar market will continue to grow at a 10 percent to 20 percent pace in the coming years, reductions in the amount of silicon used in each module means that end demand for polysilicon will grow at a slower pace. The end result is that the current roster of over 170 polysilicon manufacturers and startups will likely be winnowed down to a dozen survivors by the end of decade.

January 20, 2012

MidAmerican Goes Whole Hog For Iowa Wind


MidAmerican Energy loves wind. Iowa wind. The subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings – which is controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett – developed 593.4 megawatts (MW) of wind generation in Iowa last year, including three wind farm expansion projects. This year, MidAmerican Energy is pushing ahead with another 407.1 MW of wind power (176 turbines) scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2012.

The new projects include the 103.5-MW Vienna wind project in Marshall and Tama counties, which MidAmerican acquired from RPM Access. The company also signed agreements with Clipper Windpower Development for the acquisition of both the 200.1-MW Eclipse wind project (in Guthrie and Audubon counties), and the 101.2-MW Morning Light wind project (in Adair County). It will also add an additional 2.3-MW wind turbine to its Rolling Hills project in Southwestern Iowa.MidAmerican’s other Iowa wind projects are in Buena Vista, Carroll, Crawford, Floyd, Hamilton, Polk, Pottawattamie, Sac and Wright counties. At the end of 2012, MidAmerican will have invested $4 billion in wind power in Iowa, and own 2,284.8 MW of wind power capacity—more than any other rate-regulated utility in the U.S., and approximately 29 percent of its total generation portfolio.

So, what’s so great about wind? “Wind is a viable renewable energy resource that enhances our energy portfolio, providing additional generation at a reasonable cost for our customers,” said Bill Fehrman, president and CEO of MidAmerican Energy. “These projects also fulfill our commitment to Iowa regulators and our customers. In 2009, MidAmerican Energy received approval from the Iowa Utilities Board to add up to 1,001 megawatts of wind-powered generation prior to 2013, and I’m proud to say we have agreements in place to fulfill that commitment.”

January 20, 2012

Combined Solar/ Wind Plant Goes Up in Illinois


The largest solar plant in the US midwest is in under construction, and it will be built right next to a wind farm.

Combining wind and solar in an interconnected system makes renewable energy more effectively absorbed into the transmission grid, allowing the energy to be more easily dispatched, and
helps mitigate the effect of intermittency of wind and solar, since they peak at different times of day.

Last year, GWS Technologies (GreenWindSolar) said it started construction on a combined solar and wind plant on 1500 acres in Arizona.

General Electric, which supplied the wind turbines for the 211 megawatt (MW) wind farm, will also supply 23 MW of thin-film solar panels for the 160-acre solar park, to be completed in mid-2012.

January 17, 2012

Company says new (solar) product could achieve grid parity with coal


Quantum Solar Power Corp. recently reached a milestone in developing a new solar technology that it says will drastically reduce the cost per watt of solar and help it to achieve grid parity with coal-fired plants.

The company announced this week that it has developed a functional prototype of its new absorption layer that leaves out expensive rare Earth elements like Gallium and Tellurium. Those elements keep traditional solar photovoltaic and thin-film technologies from being scalable, Quantum spokesman Erik Cathcart said


The prototype has reached a performance threshold that makes it suitable for testing at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

The NREL research will verify Quantum’s credibility and lend the company validity in the solar marketplace. It will also provide proof of concept for potential manufacturing partners, Cathcart said.

January 17, 2012

ET Solar Supplies 1.5MW Solar Modules to a Grid-Parity Project in the Netherlands


ET Solar Group Corp. ("ET Solar&quot , one of the global leading solar one-stop solution providers, today announces its supply of 1.5MW solar modules to a residential project in the Netherlands.

Code named ZonVast, the project was co-developed by Zonnefabriek, a reputable local system integrator, and Greenchoice, a large local utility operator. Without any government subsidy support, Greenchoice will be the system owner that will receive fixed tariffs to be paid by the local households in the first twenty years of the system operation, after which these households will own and continue to use these systems for free for another ten years. ET Solar is the sole module supplier of the project and the total annual electricity production of these systems shall approximate 1.28 million kilowatt hours.

Dennis She, Chief Executive Officer of ET Solar, commented, "We are very pleased with our significant participation in one of the first sizeable residential solar projects that stands financially on its own in the Netherlands. And we are truly honored to have been collaborating with Zonnefabriek in developing green opportunities for two years in the country. We expect to see and facilitate more financially independent solar projects going forward as more regions leap towards grid-parity in Europe."

David van der Burg, partner at Zonnefabriek, added, "As the initiator of the ZonVast Project, we very much appreciate the high quality modules provided by ET Solar and the business relationship we grew in the past years. It is our strong belief that the ZonVast model will see a broad and fast replication that will benefit more households in the Netherlands."


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