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Member since: 2002
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Journal Archives

Solar Growth Spurt: Good News -- At Least for Now (New Jersey)


Speculation about an imminent collapse in the solar sector in New Jersey seems to be off the mark, at least for now.

Last month, the state set an all-time record for the number of solar systems installed, with approximately 84 megawatts of new capacity developed. That brings the total installed capacity in New Jersey to nearly 654 megawatts.

The development comes at a time when some in the industry worry the flourishing solar business in New Jersey could be headed for a fall, largely due the steep drop in prices for the electricity the systems generate.

The surge in new solar installations raises the question: Is the market stabilizing or is this burst of activity simply a reflection of the fact that profitable federal incentives are running out soon?


SDG&E Adds 300 New Megawatts of Renewable Energy to Rapidly Growing "Green" Portfolio


SAN DIEGO, Feb. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today announced that it has entered into two, long-term contracts to purchase 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy for its rapidly expanding portfolio of emissions free power.

The first of the new agreements is a 20-year contract to purchase 100 MW from Manzana Wind LLC, a 189 MW wind power facility currently under construction in the wind-rich Tehachapi region near Rosamond, Calif. Manzana Wind LLC, is a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.

When completed in late 2012, the project will be comprised of 126, 1.5 MW wind turbines spread across 4,600 acres. The project represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions comparable to removing more than 21,500 cars off of California's roads for one year.

SDG&E also has announced signing a 25-year agreement to purchase 200 MW of energy from the Mount Signal Solar project in Imperial Valley, Calif. The transaction was conducted with a subsidiary of 8minutenergy Renewables of Folsom, Calif., which has a joint development agreement with AES Solar of Arlington Va., to develop and build Mount Signal Solar. The first 100 MW of energy from the photovoltaic solar energy facility is expected to be on-line by mid-2013 with project completion slated for late 2013. When completed, the project will be comprised of photovoltaic modules supported by single-axis tracking structures. The electric output will be transported to market along SDG&E's 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line that is currently under construction and slated for completion later this year.


Wind Power Market Rose to 41 Gigawatts in 2011, Led by China


The global wind power market rose 6 percent to 41 gigawatts last year, led by China, which captured more than two-fifths of the total, the Global Wind Energy Council said today in a report.

China installed 18 gigawatts of turbines in 2011, followed by the U.S. with 6.8 gigawatts and India’s 3 gigawatts. Germany, the U.K., Canada and Spain followed, according to the Brussels- based industry lobby group.


“Despite the state of the global economy, wind power continues to be the renewable generation technology of choice,” GWEC Secretary-General Steve Sawyer said in an e-mailed statement. “2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long-term fundamentals of the industry remain very sound.”

Wind power capacity now totals 238 gigawatts worldwide. The 6.8 gigawatts installed in the U.S. last year could power almost 2 million American homes, and the industry is on its way to providing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030, according to the statement.


India’s Solar Power Revolution Could Have Global Effect (20,000 MW by 2022)


India has a Solar Mission to install 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022. Solar electricity is already cheaper than electricity produced with diesel generators.

These optimistic figures from India, the second most populated country in the world, has led the New Scientist magazine to write an in-depth article about it saying that India’s solar power revolution could have a ripple effect across the globe.

Solar panel prices fell by nearly 50 percent in 2011 and now they cost just one-quarter of what they did in 2008. This is good news for a good slice of the Indian population, one quarter of which lacks access to electricity. But electricity connection is not reliable, hence the use of diesel generators as backup power, increasing India’s share of greenhouse gases.

Solar electricity has fallen to 8.78 rupees per kilowatt hour (against 17 rupees for diesel-generated power) due to falling production costs. Acording to a Bloomberg News Energy Finance specialist, solar is now cheaper than diesel wherever it’s as sunny as Spain, which includes many parts of the world such as chunks of Latin America, Africa and Asia. Analysts say that by 2015 solar electricity will be as cheap as grid electricity in half of all countries.


Coming to the Jersey Shore: Wind Turbines


The Obama administration is working to fast-track wind farms off the coast of New Jersey, with plans to allow wind-energy developers into the area by the end of the year.

As WSJ’s Ryan Tracy reported Friday, the leases to develop offshore wind turbines in New Jersey would be the first under a program designed to speed the development process. A section of coastal Maryland is also included in the plan, and the Delaware and Virginia coasts could be next. The U.S. doesn’t yet have any turbines offshore.

The move to speed wind-farm development off New Jersey will still take years to pay off:

“There’s a whole lot more work ahead of us to get the project in the water,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, chief administrative officer for Deepwater Wind, which is backing a wind farm off New Jersey’s coast with Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. The goal is to bring the wind farm online by 2017, Mr. Grybowski said.


Residential solar may reach grid parity in California in 2015


California is the nation’s largest solar market in the nation, thanks to its incentives and rebates, which include a 33 percent renewable energy standard and the Million Solar Roofs programs.

And with a number of the largest solar projects in the world planned to start supplying utilities with power beginning to come online (at least partially) this year, it’s no wonder that the market has reduced prices to near grid parity levels. But now some are saying the cost of residential solar could reach grid parity by as early as mid-2014.

Environment California’s Research & Policy Center estimated that when the price of installed solar falls to $5.25 per watt, without rebates, that it will have reached grid parity in the market.

“If progress continues at the same rate it has over the past four years, residential prices will reach this cost-competitive position without rebates in mid-2014. Outside investment analysts place this milestone at around 2016,” the center said in its recent report, Building a Brighter Future.


U.S. official says offshore wind farms pose no threat to environment


Building offshore wind farms along the mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf creates no significant impact on the environment, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said on Thursday, clearing a major hurdle for the development of offshore energy projects.

Salazar, speaking in Baltimore, also pledged a quicker turnaround for the federal permitting process, saying, "No developer should wait 9 to 10 years for a lease." He pledged to approve leases for the offshore sites this year.

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Believe it: Solar power works well in Washington


Solar energy installations in the Pacific Northwest are proving their worth, despite persistent public misconceptions that winter’s overcast skies make solar technology useless.

Chris Herman, owner of Winter Sun Design in Edmonds, concedes winter solar rays aren’t as good as summer ones, but he knows that cloudy days still collect solar energy and that the region still can gain benefits from solar installations.

“People don’t realize that a passive solar home in Western Washington can still get 50 percent of its space heating from solar features, while adding less than 2 percent to the cost of home construction,” Herman said.

Credentials behind his views include his 25-year business venture designing houses with passive solar features, sustainable “green” building design and consulting services. He founded Solar Washington, the Northwest Eco-Building Guild and Sustainable Edmonds, and is interim president of the Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative.


Energy credits flow in community solar garden (CO)


Energy credits began flowing for a few hundred households and a handful of schools Wednesday as a community solar garden at Venetucci Farms moved from testing and tweaking to full operation.

That means the individuals and organizations leasing panels will soon see a discount on their electric bills.

The solar array is the largest project of its kind in the country to be 100 percent subscribed, according to SunShare, which runs the solar garden.

The Colorado Springs School leased the last 509 panels available, giving it the largest share of the array. That will cover a quarter of the private school’s electrical energy needs.

Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/school-132732-colorado-solar.html#ixzz1lFHSWbFR

Analysis: German solar groups could thrive on subsidy fears


Fears Germany will cap or cut green energy subsidies is boosting demand for solar panels, and uncertainty about the shape of the measures could give the country's battered solar sector an advantage against Chinese rivals.

Installations of solar panels have boomed in Germany over the last two years due to feed-in tariffs, lavish subsidies utilities are forced to pay by the government to those who generate their own solar power. Ultimately power companies pass on the costs to their customers.

But as the burden on energy consumers soars, Berlin now wants to tighten its grip on the market and is scrambling for ideas over how best to curtail demand. Proposals range from monthly cuts in feed-in tariffs to an outright cap on subsidies.

December saw a massive installation rush and some executives and analysts are predicting a bumper first quarter -- seasonally the weakest as bad weather makes it harder to install panels on roofs -- as people sign up for current schemes ahead of impending cutbacks.


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