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jpak's Journal
jpak's Journal
December 29, 2011

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.


December 28, 2011

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.

December 28, 2011

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.

December 27, 2011

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)

December 27, 2011

They do not know what they are talking about


In 2010, Maine’s three large wind farms—Mars Hill, Stetson (I & II), and Kibby—generated 486,683 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity, which is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by 69,000 average Maine households in a year. Because the Kibby and Stetson II projects did not begin operating until well into 2010, the amount of generation from these facilities, pro-rated for a full calendar year, would be at least 620,000 MWh –enough to power 88,600 households.

For wind facilities that operated for a full 12-month period during 2010 (Mars Hill, Stetson I, and Vinalhaven), the actual generation was between 92 percent and 104 percent of the estimated output predicted in their development permit applications.

“We’re pleased that Maine’s first few wind farms are operating generally as expected, generating large amounts of clean electricity for our grid and displacing fossil fuel use,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Because these projects are generating electricity, New England is burning fewer fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. Reducing our fossil fuel dependence is essential for a clean environment, healthy air, and long-term economic prosperity. And what’s exciting from this new data is that it shows just how much energy is now being provided by wind power projects operating in Maine.”

By way of comparison, the combined output of Maine’s largest three wind farms is roughly the same as the output of Maine’s three largest biomass power plants or the three largest hydropower dams on the Androscoggin River. “Wind power is clearly taking its place right alongside existing, traditional renewable energy sources in Maine,” said Voorhees.


That's 4% of the state's total generation or 5% of in-state electrical demand.

Those figures do not include the Rollins wind project that went on-line this year or the smaller Beaver Ridge and Vinalhaven projects - or the Record Hill and Spruce Mountain wind farms that will coming on-line very soon - or the Oakfield wind farm in northern Maine that was just approved by the voters there - or the expansion of Kibby Mountain - or the wind farms in Dixfield, Canton and Carthage....more than 220 MW addition capacity

Wind power will produce double-digit percentages of Maine's electricity in the next 3 years.


December 25, 2011

Increasing Wind Energy in Germany Pricing Out Natural Gas Plants


Renewable energy critics are convinced that Germany is going to see skyrocketing electricity prices due to it dropping both coal and nuclear. Well, anyone who looks at the long-term economics of all these options knows that clean, renewable energy is a winner (don’t be a hater, it’s just how it is). Now, natural gas is the newly adored fossil fuel, due to its relatively cheap prices right now (many claim it’s the cheapest electricity option these days), and it’s less-several environmental costs (compared to coal). But something I’ve been writing for quite awhile now is that wind is cheaper than natural gas in many (perhaps most) locations. Recent news out of Germany confirms that is the case there.

Due to surging wind power capacity in northern Germany (and its low price), Statkraft AS is looking to possibly shut down two gas-fired power plants totaling 1 gigawatt (yes, GW) of capacity.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/14WpS)


December 22, 2011

Hawaii wind farm leans on giant battery bank


A123 Systems today announced that a Hawaiian wind project developer will use its batteries to firm up power delivery into the grid. The Auwahi Wind project, which has a generating capacity of 21 megawatts, will be buttressed by a giant battery bank able to deliver 11 megawatts of power.

It's the second time this year that A123 Systems' storage systems, built around shipping container-size battery banks, were chosen to be co-located with a wind farm. The Laurel Mountain wind farm in West Virginia has a 32-megawatt battery bank attached to it, making it a more reliable source of electricity.

At the Auwahi Wind project, the batteries will be used to provide a more steady supply of power, which dips and rises with changing wind. The system will also be tapped to maintain a steady voltage.

One of the advantages of lithium ion batteries is that they are able to supply lots of power very quickly. A123 Systems said its power electronics can detect fluctuations in supply and be able to send 11 megwawatts of power in milliseconds. Adding storage to renewable energy generation is more commercially viable in Hawaii because it has the highest electricity prices in the U.S.

December 17, 2011

I retrieved this from the carcass of DU2....

Wind energy reduces electricity prices, says independent study


The review ‘Wind Energy and Electricity Prices’, a comprehensive assessment of studies of the impact of wind energy on electricity prices, was carried out by the independent consultancy Pöyry AS on behalf of EWEA. It brings together, for the first time, the findings of case studies in Germany, Denmark and Belgium.

The report finds that in the studies reviewed by Pöyry, electricity prices were reduced by between 3 and 23 €/MWh depending on the amount of wind power. It concludes that the studies “essentially draw similar conclusions” and that “an increased penetration of wind power reduces wholesale spot prices.”

“It has already been well-established that wind reduces CO? emissions,” said Christian Kjaer, EWEA’s Chief Executive. “But now we have stronger evidence than ever before that wind power also reduces electricity prices for consumers. The message is clear – if you want affordable CO?-free electricity, increase the amount of wind power in your electricity mix.”

Wind power replaces CO? -intensive production technologies, the report finds. The technology that sets the price on the wholesale market is usually hard coal. Wind replaces hard coal power plants during hours of low demand and gas-fired power plants during hours of high demand in all the countries the report analysed.


Wind Power in New England - Reducing Pollution from the Electricity Sector


A network of power lines, called the electricity “grid,” connects power plants with electricity users. The grid operator— the Independent System Operator (ISO) of New England—continually monitors the flow of electricity from more than 350 power plants and coordinates their output to match energy demand. Generally, ISO New England orders the power plants on the grid with the least expensive electricity to operate first to meet hourly demand. When demand increases and the most expensive plant currently operating reaches its full capacity, the next least expensive plant is turned on, and so forth. When wind energy is added to the grid, less electricity is needed from conventional power plants, so the most expensive power plant operating is turned down, or even off. As a result, the emissions associated with this plant are reduced.

Most of the time in New England, natural gas power plants are the ones turned up or down to match rising and falling energy demand. During times of peak energy use, however, especially in the winter, wind energy can displace more polluting oil-fired power plants. At periods of low electricity use, wind occasionally displaces coal power generation.

Sometimes a hydropower plant may also be displaced, which usually allows more water to be stored behind the dam for displacing fossil fuels at a later time.

Periodically, ISO New England examines the emissions associated with the power plants that are turned up and down as demand fluctuates (known as marginal emissions). Based on this emissions analysis,<1> if the region’s currently proposed wind projects are built, millions of tons of pollution could be avoided each year.


The Facts About Wind Energy and Emissions

For those who have not been following this misinformation campaign by the fossil fuel industry, here is a brief synopsis. Back in March 2010, AWEA heard public reports that the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (IPAMS), a lobby group representing the oil and natural gas industry, was working on a report that would attempt to claim that adding wind energy to the grid had somehow increased power plant emissions in Colorado.

Perplexed at how anyone would attempt to make that claim, AWEA decided to take a look at the relevant data, namely the U.S. Department of Energy’s data tracking emissions from Colorado’s power plants over time. The government’s data, reproduced in the table below, show that as wind energy jumped from providing 2.5% of Colorado’s electricity in 2007 to 6.1% of the state’s electricity in 2008, carbon dioxide emissions fell by 4.4%, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 6%, coal use fell by 3% (571,000 tons), and electric-sector natural gas use fell by 14%. (Thorough DOE citations for each data point are listed here (PDF).) Two conclusions were apparent from looking at this data: 1. the claim the fossil fuel industry was planning to make had no basis in fact, and 2. the fossil industry was understandably frustrated that they were losing market share to wind energy.

In early April, AWEA publicly presented this government data, and when the fossil fuel lobbyists released their report later that month it was greeted with the skepticism it deserved and largely ignored. Case closed, right? We thought so, too.

After the initial release of the report fell flat, the fossil fuel industry tried again a month later. John Andrews, founder of the Independence Institute, a group that has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from the fossil fuel industry, penned an opinion article in the Denver Post parroting the claims of the original report. Fortunately, Frank Prager, a vice president with Xcel Energy, the owner of the Colorado power plants in question, responded with an article entitled “Setting the record straight on wind energy” that pointed out the flaws in the fossil industry’s study and reconfirmed that wind in fact has significantly reduced fossil fuel use and emissions on their power system. Having been shot down twice, we thought that the fossil industry would surely put their report out to pasture.


Study: In Texas, wind power beats natural gas


Wind power is worth it, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

ERCOT studied the costs and benefits of wind power in three scenarios and concluded that expanding wind power in Texas would outweigh the total costs of boosting the state's electrical grid with conventional technologies. (Renewable Energy Access has a more detailed story here.)

The organization estimated the costs of putting in 5.1 gigawatts (GW), 11.6GW, and 18GW of new wind energy as well as the required grid connections. The 5.1GW plan would bring with it a $3.8 billion premium, but save $1.2 billion in fossil fuel costs a year. The 11.6GW plan would cost $4.9 billion, but save $1.7 billion in fuel costs annually. (Estimated fuel cost savings were not included for the 18GW scenario, but will be included in a future study.) Either way, both programs would pay off in about three years. Wind turbines last for decades; thus, new turbines would save billions over time as well as cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.


http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/01/cost-of-wind-power-... /

Wind Power Costs, Prices Dropping Worldwide

“Prices have dipped below €1m per MW for the first time since 2005, according to the latest edition of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Wind Turbine Price Index,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance wrote in February, 2011. For us Americans, that translates to about $1.48 million per MW.

“The cost of electricity generated from wind is now at record lows: several projects in high resource areas (US, Brazil, Sweden, Mexico) display a levelised cost of energy – excluding the impact of subsidies but after including the cost of capital and maintenance – below EUR 50/MWh ($68/MWh). This compares to current estimated average costs of $67 per MWh for coal-fired power and $56 per MWh for gas-fired power.” (In $/kWh, the figures would thus be less than $0.068/kWh for wind, $0.067/kWh for coal, and $0.056/kWh for gas-fired power.)

The Department of Energy, which seems to use this 30-year assumption, found the price of electricity from new wind farm plants ranged from 4 to 9 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009, which is competitive with other new power plants and essentially the same as AWEA reported above. However, if a 30- or 40-year lifespan were used for the projects, the costs would be much lower, as the huge majority of a wind project’s costs are from the initial investment (wind, the ‘fuel’, is free and there are minimal operating and maintenance costs).

Wind is MUCH Cheaper than Coal & Natural Gas (if You Know How to Add)

Now, as I hinted at the top, if you take the full health costs and environmental costs of various energy sources into account, wind comes out looking even better. A recent study out of Harvard found that if one adds in the hidden costs of coal then its actual price in the U.S. is more like 9-27 cents higher per kilowatt hour. The authors write:


Blustery States Boost Wind Power Over Gas With U.S. Tax Break


A U.S. tax break has helped wind power stem the growth of natural gas as a power-plant fuel in blustery states.

The natural-gas share of electricity generation increased by less than 1 percent over the past decade in states such as North Dakota that have strong winds to drive turbines, a Bloomberg Government Study found. It grew 17 percent in states such as Florida, where there was no wind to compete with gas.

A production tax credit valued at 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of wind energy has encouraged the growth of the alternative energy source. Natural gas accounted for 16 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2000 and grew to 24 percent in 2010, according to the study.

“With the benefit of the federal and state subsidies, wind-generated electricity has tended to push out the more expensive sources of electricity generation,” Paul Hughes, a senior economic analyst for Bloomberg Government, wrote in the study. “In many cases that displaced energy has been generated from natural gas.”


December 17, 2011

EON Invests $9 Billion in Renewables as Germany Drops Nuclear


EON AG, Germany’s biggest utility, said it’s investing 7 billion euros ($9.1 billion) in renewable energy projects over the next five years as the country drops nuclear power generation.

EON plans to build at least three offshore wind projects, including the 1 billion-euro Amrumbank West farm in the North Sea, Dusseldorf-based EON said in an e-mailed statement today. Siemens AG, Europe’s biggest engineering company, will supply the the 288-megawatt plant with 80 of its turbines.

“Renewables are a cornerstone of our strategy, and offshore wind is one of EON’s growth areas,” Chief Executive Officer Johannes Teyssen said in the statement. “We intend to commission a new offshore wind farm every 18 months.”

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, seeks to install 10,000 megawatts of sea-based wind turbines this decade as it raises the share of renewables and phases out atomic energy. Utilities including EON and RWE AG (RWE) are selling assets and cutting jobs to lower costs and boost profit margins as the nuclear exit removes revenue streams.

December 17, 2011

China’s Solar Energy Plans Become Even More Ambitious


The People’s Republic of China has increased its target for installed solar power by 50%. It now aims to have 15 GW of installed solar generating capacity, by 2015, Reuters reports.

The move comes just months after China doubled its solar goal from 5 GW to 10 GW earlier this year, following the partial meltdown of the Fukishama nuclear plant in Japan.

How can China be so ambitious? It’s thought that the revised target has been made possible by an uptick in solar installations thanks to new government supports for the industry. China’s government introduced its first unified national feed-in tariff for solar energy in August, guaranteeing a price significantly higher for solar power than was previously being paid by various state agencies. Note that feed-in tariffs are believed to have driven three-quarters of global photovoltaic solar power installations.

To give you a sense of the scale of what China’s trying to achieve, consider this: at the end of 2010, the country had less than 1 GW of installed solar capacity. A government think-tank reported in August that it expected there to be 2 GW of installed solar capacity by the end of 2011.


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