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Siemens Figures Out What to Do With Night Wind (electrolysis, hydrogen storage)


German energy giant Siemens has a solution in the works to tap the unused wind-powered electricity that goes to waste at night because no one is up and about. The planet’s daily temperature swings stir up night-time winds, just when no one needs electricity.

Solving the storage issue is especially crucial for Germany, which, by cutting its nuclear power, is correspondingly scaling up its offshore wind power 20-fold by 2020 — when it will have 10 GW of wind power on the grid.

Using part of their annual 1 billion euro R&D budget ($1.3 billion), Siemens is working on devising large scale electrolysis that would convert wind energy into gas that can be stored — as electricity cannot be — and can then be shipped out, when it is needed, by pipeline.

Their electrolyser, a soccer-field-sized plant that converts power into storable hydrogen, is in the testing phase, Michael Weinhold, chief technology officer of Siemens’ energy businesses told Bloomberg.


UPDATE 1-Spain spot power at 2-year low, wind smashes record


MADRID, April 18 (Reuters) - Spanish spot power prices sank to their lowest levels in two years on Wednesday as cheap supplies of wind power climbed high above previous records.

The Iberian Electricity Market's (Mibel) spot exchange, OMIE, set the day-ahead "pool" price at 22.69 euros ($29.82) per megawatt-hour, down 11.75 euros on the day and the lowest for a full working day since it fixed a price of 21.41 euros for April 8, 2010.

By 1520 GMT, Spanish wind parks - the world's fourth-most productive - were producing 16,513 megawatts, or enough to meet 43.3 percent of demand, according to data from national grid operator REE.


Wind power weighs on the "pool" price because it displaces costlier coal- and gas-burning plants from the generation mix.


AllEarth Renewables proposes new Vermont solar farm


Pending approval from the city and the state, Williston, Vt.-based solar manufacturer AllEarth Renewables will build a 150 kilowatt solar farm on city-owned land in Rutland, Vt.

The proposed farm, announced Monday by Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras, would save the city about 5 percent a year - about $2,000 a year - on electricity for Rutland City Hall, Jeffords Amtrak Station, and a portion of Giorgetti Arena. Louras told Mass High tech that while the monetary savings is important, the project is also intended to show the city’s commitment to alternative energy innovation in anticipation of Green Mountain Power Corp.’s proposed Energy Innovation Center, to be located in Rutland.

Green Mountain Power has committed to bringing its Solar City initiative to Rutland as part of its merger with Central Vermont Public Service Corp. The initiative and the planned Innovation Center are part of an agreement that will help preserve jobs in Rutland during the merger.

The project will be built on land known in town as the “old poor farm” - land designated during the Great Depression for migrant farmers to live and work. The land is now used as a municipal tree nursery and for community gardens, both of which will remain after the solar farm is built.


(10 MW) Solar project could be a catalyst for more if policies allow it (Georgia)


The success of an 80-acre, 10-megawatt solar project in Washington County may lead outside financier Smart Energy Capital to do more in Georgia, but only if there's support from business and civic officials.

The regulations have to be there to support it," said Michael Grenier, the managing partner at Smart Energy Capital, which gave details Monday about the large solar project in Middle Georgia that will sell electricity to Cobb EMC. "We're watching. We're interested. If things allow for us to come in and the economics support it, we'll be here like anywhere else."

Smart Energy and Jacoby Development have agreed to build what will be called the Azalea Solar Facility in Davisboro. The cost of the project -- which will produce enough power to serve 1,500 homes -- is estimated at $30 million to $35 million.

Construction is expected to start in September and create about 75 jobs. It will likely be completed sometime between the end of this year and mid-2013.


Spain wind power reaches 60.5% demand, prices fall


MADRID, April 16 (Reuters) - Spain's wind parks provided a record 60.46 percent of demand for electricity early on Monday, national grid manager REE said, after a windy weekend that reduced wholesale power prices to their lowest levels in more than two years.

The new record percentage set at 3:48 a.m. local time (0148 GMT) compared with a previous maximum of 59.63 percent at 2 a.m. on Nov. 11.

The Iberian Electricity Market's (Mibel) spot exchange OMIE set the benchmark "pool" price in Spain for Sunday at 10.99 euros ($14.38) per megawatt-hour, its lowest since fixing a level of 6.32 euros for Jan. 1, 2010.

Wind power sways the spot market, because producers can sell it at a considerable discount to electricity generated by burning coal and gas.


EU’s ‘Recession-Busting’ Wind Industry Set to Triple in Value


The European Union’s “recession- busting” wind power industry is forecast to triple in value as its labor force doubles in the 10 years through 2020, the European Wind Energy Association said.

The contribution of the wind industry to the economy of the 27-nation EU will rise to 94.5 billion euros ($123 billion) in 2020 from 32.4 billion euros in 2010, the lobby group, known as EWEA, said today in a report published in Copenhagen at the start of its annual conference. Jobs supported by the industry will jump to 520,000 from 238,154, it said.

“Wind energy is a recession-busting industry,” EWEA President Arthouros Zervos said in a statement. It is “providing increasing economic activity, more jobs and exports every year to an EU struggling with an economic crisis intensified by ever-increasing amounts of fuel being imported at rising costs.”

The EU is chasing a target of getting 20 percent of all energy for power, heating and transport from renewables by 2020. The contribution of the wind industry to EU economic output increased by a third in 2010 from 2007, according to today’s report. EWEA said Feb. 6 that wind power capacity expanded more than 10 percent last year with 21 percent of the bloc’s new power capacity coming from wind.


Partially Africanized bees found in East Tennessee


The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has confirmed the state's first case of partially Africanized honeybees in a bee colony in Monroe County.

The discovery was confirmed last week after the bee keeper notified a state inspector that his bees were acting aggressively. Samples from the hive were sent to a state laboratory in Florida for genetic testing, and those results showed the bees to be 17 percent Africanized.

The colony has been destroyed and state agricultural officials now are working with area bee- keepers to monitor their hives for aggressive behavior.

In addition, officials also will be on the lookout for aggressive behavior among wild bee colonies.


Warm weather cuts short US maple sugaring season


MILWAUKEE – Temperatures in Wisconsin had already hit the high 60s when Gretchen Grape and her family began tapping their 850 maple trees. They had waited for the state's ceremonial tapping to kick off the maple sugaring season. It was moved up five days, but that didn't make much difference.

Maple sap drips from a tap in Calais, Vt., on Wednesday. Many maple-syrup producers in the Midwest and Northeast have had their harvests cut short by warm weather, a setback that could be hard for smaller producers to overcome.

For Grape, the typically monthlong season ended nine days later. The sap had stopped flowing in a record-setting heat wave, and the 5-quart collection bags that in a good year fill in a day were still half-empty. Instead of their usual 300 gallons of syrup, her family had about 40.
Maple syrup producers across the North have had their season cut short by unusually warm weather. While those with expensive, modern vacuum systems say they've been able to suck a decent amount of sap from their trees, producers like Grape, who still rely on traditional taps and buckets, have seen their year ruined.

"It's frustrating," said the 69-year-old retiree from Holcombe, Wis. "You put in the same amount of work, equipment, investment, and then all of a sudden, boom, you have no sap."


Here in Maine, the sap started running in mid-February - if you didn't catch that run you were SOL.

The 80 degree weather this week caused the trees to flower.

It's over - even though Maple Syrup Sunday is next week.

Ties That Bind Oil and Dollar Snap


Rising tensions between Iran and the West are overwhelming a bedrock principle that has dominated the oil market for nearly a decade: Oil prices move in the opposite direction of the dollar.

U.S. oil prices have climbed 12% since early November, with most of those gains coming after U.N. inspectors issued a report saying they suspected Iran was renewing efforts to produce nuclear weapons. The dollar also has strengthened over that period, gaining 4.8% as measured by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index, which weighs the dollar against a basket of other currencies.

The shift has occurred amid a collision between the two investments: The surge in oil prices, caused by fears Iran could block oil shipments or halt production in the event of military conflict, coincided with a deepening of Europe's debt crisis, which bolstered the dollar as the euro flagged. It is unusual because a higher dollar makes dollar-denominated oil more expensive for those buying in other currencies, reducing demand.

It has thrown some trading strategies into disarray. John Kilduff, founding partner of hedge fund Again Capital, says he has at times adjusted his firm's position in oil futures daily based on movements in the dollar, but began disregarding it in December as Iran tensions drove oil prices up and the pairing no longer held. Without the indicator to guide investment direction, his fund has trimmed oil holdings 20%.


Maine company ready to install tidal power unit


PORTLAND, Maine — With its federal license in hand, a Maine-based tidal energy company is ready to install its underwater power system for the first time on the floor of the ocean.

Ocean Renewable Power Co. aims to begin installation of its first grid-connected power unit in mid-March at a 60-acre site in Cobscook Bay at the nation’s easternmost tip.


Eventually, Ocean Renewable hopes to install more units to bring its electrical output to 4 megawatts at sites off both Lubec and Eastport. Ocean Renewable holds permits for three sites in the area, one of the world’s best tidal sites, where twice a day the tide rises and falls 20 feet.

All told, the company sees up to 50 megawatts of tidal power potential in the Eastport and Lubec areas, enough to power thousands of homes, Sauer said.


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