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New analysis shows solar PV is competitive in the Middle East


Solar photovoltaic electricity is competitive with conventional fossil fuel-based electricity generation, particularly for peak demand during the middle of the day, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to a new report.

Photovoltaic output matches well with demand patterns in MENA countries, where airconditioner use is a major draw on demand. The report, titled "Sunrise in the Desert: Solar Becomes Commercially Viable in the Middle East", by Manaar Consulting has been commissioned by the Emirates Solar Industry Association (ESIA) and sponsored by international consultancy firm PwC.

The report’s author, Robin Mills, presented his findings at an ESIA press conference held on 17 January 2012 during the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). "The work that we’ve done here is very encouraging for the new competitiveness of solar power in the region," said Mills.

Factors such as falling costs of solar PV panels, rising costs of fuels used in conventional power generation and excellent fit to demand patterns challenge the prevailing view among many policy makers and utilities in the MENA region that solar is expensive unless heavily subsidised. In the case of some countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, domestic consumption of fossil fuels is steadily rising creating a demand for new sources of electricity.


MEMC Unit to Develop $4.6 Billion of Solar Plants in Japan (1000 MW)


SunEdison, the solar development unit of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., said it plans to build solar power plants in Japan over a five-year period at an initial cost of 350 billion yen ($4.6 billion).

The second-largest U.S. maker of polysilicon is in talks with local governments including Niigata and Fukuoka prefectures on project sites, Jackie Okawa, a spokeswoman for SunEdison Japan Corp., said today by phone from Osaka. Capacity will total 1 gigawatt, she said, confirming a report by the Nikkei.

Japan’s parliament passed a bill in August guaranteeing prices higher than market rates for wind, solar and geothermal energy to encourage renewable-energy development and rely less on nuclear energy following the Fukushima Dai-Ichi disaster in March. Similar legislation in Germany and Spain has spurred solar companies to install panels.

While Japan’s incentive program is due to start in July, the government hasn’t set the prices. “We can’t start building plants until rates are set, as we can’t calculate project costs,” Okawa said.


Dubai Reveals 1,000 MW Solar Park Project


Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, launched a $12 billion dirham solar project ($3.2 US Dollars)— the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The park will eventually have a capacity to generate 1,000 megawatts of power.

The project will be located on a 48-square kilometer area in Seih Al Dahal and will use photovoltaic (PV) and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technologies. The decision is based on the emirate's plan to differentiate its energy mix and reduce dependency on oil and gas; targeting renewable energy to supply one percent of Dubai's energy by 2020 and 5 percent by 2030. The state-owned sole power supplier, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, has an installed capacity of 7,361 MW—all run on oil and gas, although its peak demand has remained well below 6,000 MW, according to its website.

The project will be implemented by the Supreme Council of Energy in Dubai and be managed and operated by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. The first phase will be built at a cost of Dh120 million and aims to generate 10 MW of power by the fourth quarter of 2013. The full project of 1,000 MW will be completed by 2030.

Saeed Al Tayer, Vice- Chairman of the SCE and managing director and CEO of DEWA, said although the private sector is prepared to invest in the solar energy projects, the first phase would be 100 percent funded by the SCE. "The SCE is meeting its responsibility to continue our relentless pursuit to provide clean energy solutions to efficiently meet our future requirements and develop a reduced carbon-footprint economy," he said.


German funds plan $2 billion Oman solar project (400 MW)


Private investment funds Terra Nex of Switzerland and Germany's Middle East Best Select (MEBS) plan to build 400 megawatts (MW) of solar power generating capacity in Oman, the European investors said on Sunday.

Terra Nex, a wealth management company specializing in Middle East investment, and MEBS plan a 2-billion dollar integrated project to develop solar technology in the oil and gas exporting country, including facilities to manufacture solar panels for Oman and for export.

"Oman's stable business environment and pro-environmental policies makes the Sultanate a natural partner to this project," David Heimhofer, chairman of Terra Nex, said in a statement.

"The government's aim to produce 10 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy resources by 2020 is laudable and this project will go a long way in making that vision a reality."


Suzlon to develop 3,000 MW windfarm in Andhra Pradesh (India)


Suzlon Energy, the world's fifth-leading and India's largest wind turbine manufacturer, today announced a memorandum of understanding with the government of Andhra Pradesh for the development of wind capacity in the state totalling 3,000 MW between 2012 and 2016, creating potential investments of up to Rs 18,000 crore. The announcement was made through a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

According to the press release, the MoU was signed under the auspices of the Partnership Summit 2012 in the presence of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy.

Under the MoU, the state government will facilitate Suzlon in obtaining necessary permissions, registrations, approvals and clearances for the development of the wind farms. Suzlon, in turn, will play the role of a developer and facilitate the channelisation of investments into the state through its customers investing in wind energy.

Tulsi Tanti, chairman of Suzlon was quoted in the filing as saying, "We are extremely pleased to sign this MoU with the Andhra Pradeh government. This not only reinforces the state's position as one of emerging markets in wind energy, but also illustrates their committment to power a low-carbon economy by embracing progressive policies to power rapidly growing economy of the state."


Renewable energy investments worldwide set record high in 2011


A report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance said that a sluggish economy did not hamper investments in renewable energy projects, (solar power, wind energy and geothermal energy).

Investments in renewable energy rise 5% in 2011 to $260 billion. Global investment in clean energy (wind power, geothermal energy and solar energy) reached a new record of $260 billion in 2011, up 5% on 2010 and almost five times the total of $53.6 billion in 2004.

Photovoltaic solar energy has approached competitiveness with other sources. This includes USD 354 million invested in the 92.5 MW Hanas Ningxia Yanchi Gaoshawo concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) plant in China.

"The cost of PV technology has fallen, but the volume of PV sold has increased by a much greater factor as it approached competitiveness with other sources of power.”

<much more>

Germany: Solar power output increases by 60 percent in 2011


The German Solar Industry Association (BSW) has announced that German solar power producers have increased electricity output this year by 60 percent over 2010 to 18 billion kWh. This is more than three percent of total power output volumes.

The solar sector has already produced enough electricity to power approximately 5.1 million households in Germany.

BSW's managing director Carsten Koernig stated that "solar energy has become an indispensable ingredient of a successful energy strategy shift". The solar sector has already produced enough electricity to power approximately 5.1 million households. This accounts for about one-eighth of all households in Germany.

BDEW, the German Association of Energy and Water Industries, stated that PV power installation was the fastest growing sector amongst German renewable power sources this year. Renewable power accounted for about 19.9 percent of the energy mix in 2011, compared with 16.4 percent last year, as BDEW's preliminary data shows.


Wind Power and Electricity Prices in Iowa



It is estimated that Iowa now gets as much as 20 percent of its electricity from wind turbines. So how has that affected the price Iowans pay for their power? The Iowa Policy Project last week released a report that shows that the price of electricity in Iowa is trending well below the national average:

One of the most common arguments for not addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas pollution is that the solutions are cost-prohibitive. However, amidst Iowa’s massive expansion of windpower, our average electricity prices have remained below the national average and in fact have not increased as quickly as the national average price in the last four years (2005 to 2008).

The data from the Energy Information Administration show Delaware's electricity prices climbing even faster that the U.S. average. Delaware could use some of the price stability that wind power seems to be providing Iowa.


Wind power achieves many milestones this year



The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has established a tradition of taking a look back in December at the events that shaped the year in wind farm. Here's a look at just some of the many happenings that made 2011 yet another big year in the continued evolution of the industry.

1 – Iowa, South Dakota reach 20 percent wind farm penetration overall. U.S. wind energy industry observers no longer need look to Europe for examples of huge wind power penetrations. Both Iowa and South Dakota reached the important milestone of 20 percent of their electricity coming from wind power, a first for the U.S. And more projects are coming.

2 - Xcel Energy shatters wind barrier with 50 percent at one time.While Iowa and South Dakota lead the nation with their 20 percent wind penetration overall benchmark, a utility system in Colorado made some noise on the integration front as well. Investor-owned utility Xcel Energy set a wind power world record on the morning of October 6, when subsidiary Public Service Co. of Colorado got 55.6 percent of the electricity on its system at one time from wind power, as reported in the Denver Post. The leading utility for wind power on its wires, Xcel Energy is proving once again that large amounts of wind can be successfully integrated onto the grid.

3 - Cost drop: Wind power gets leaner and meaner. Wind turbine prices have dropped sharply in recent years, and a government report released in 2011 highlights that trend with some telling numbers. According to the latest edition of the U.S. Department of Energy's "Wind Technologies Market Report," turbine prices decreased by as much as 33 percent or more between late 2008 and 2010. As discussed in AWEA's most recent industry Annual Report, more efficient U.S.-based manufacturing is saving on transportation, and technology improvements are making turbines better and more efficient.


2011 year in review: Solar energy has a great year


WASHINGTON – Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, today published the following review of the U.S. solar energy market in 2011:

“In contrast to some of the recent headlines, the solar energy industry is a strong, thriving industry in the United States that is creating jobs and lowering costs for the consumer. In 2011, a number of myths about the solar energy industry circulated nationally. Let’s set the record straight. Here are seven truths about this thriving American industry:

1. Solyndra did not kill the industry. In fact, the solar energy industry is expanding rapidly and has become a highly competitive, thriving industry in the United States. Solyndra’s high-profile bankruptcy in August was an anomaly in what proved to be the industry’s most successful quarter on record. Although Solyndra couldn’t compete, the rest of the industry grew by 140 percent in the last year and costs came down by 40 percent. America discovered that one company’s failure does not reflect an entire industry. In fact, 9 out of 10 Americans feel it’s important to develop and use more solar in the U.S., according to an independent national poll conducted a month after Solyndra declared bankruptcy.

2. Today, U.S. solar is an economic force: employing more than 100,000 Americans at 5,000 businesses across all 50 states. The solar industry proved itself to be a strong job creator in the United States. The vast majority of the 5,000 companies that make up the industry in the U.S. are small businesses, engines of growth for our economic recovery. These are real people in real solar jobs as reported by The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2011. The solar value chain includes engineers, sales people, and other administrative professionals as well installers, roofers, electricians, plumbers and contractors – skilled labor professions hit hard by rampant unemployment in recent years – now finding new opportunities to put their expertise to work in the solar industry.
Source: Red Green & Blue (http://s.tt/14ZKQ)

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