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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.”

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.


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.


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


ET Solar Group Corp. ("ET Solar", 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."


Areva launches solar energy storage (hydrogen fuel cell) platform in Corsica


Jan 17, 2012 - French Areva (EPA:AREVA) Monday said it had commissioned a solar energy storage platform in the French island of Corsica to demonstrate the feasibility of an energy storage unit using hydrogen technologies to smooth variations in solar power production.

The Hydrogen and Energy Storage business unit of Areva Renewables, which is the green energy arm of Areva, inaugurated the MYRTE platform on January 9 in partnership with the University of Corsica and the French Nuclear and Alternative Energies Commissions.

The platform includes a 560-kW photovoltaic (PV) system in Vignola, connected to a solar energy storage system, which consists of an electrolyser, hydrogen and oxygen reserves, and a fuel cell. MYRTE was connected to the local grid on December 16, 2011.

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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."

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