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jpak's Journal
jpak's Journal
March 1, 2012

U.K. Could Save $5.6 Billion by Linking Offshore Wind Farms


The U.K. could save as much as 3.5 billion pounds ($5.6 billion) by connecting offshore wind farms to each other, cutting down on construction and operating costs.

As much as 15 percent could be knocked off the estimated 24 billion-pound bill for building wind infrastructure, according to a joint statement today from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and energy regulator Ofgem.

The U.K. is seeking to have about 18 gigawatts of turbines at sea installed from 2 gigawatts at present to meet climate change goals. A European “supergrid” linking Britain’s electricity network to the continent could reduce the cost of connecting offshore wind farms by a quarter, according to the U.K. parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee.

“Linking up power cables between offshore wind farms could make some serious savings, so we would be crazy not to encourage it,” Energy Minister Charles Hendry said in the statement. The government is seeking to lower the cost of offshore wind to 100 pounds a megawatt-hour by 2020 from about 150 pounds.

March 1, 2012

Wind power growth in Asia is part of the region’s future


Annual statistics recently released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) once again show the massive growth in cumulative wind farm capacity in Asia, to 82,398 MW last year from 61,106 MW at the end of 2010.

Wind energy growth in Asia is part of the region’s future. Annual statistics recently released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) once again show the massive growth in cumulative wind farm capacity in Asia, to 82,398 MW last year from 61,106 MW at the end of 2010.

When matched with Asia’s continuing population increases, the GWEC statistics seem to indicate that the region as a whole is well placed to incorporate even greater amounts of wind power into its grids in coming decades as the world replaces dirty carbon energy sources with green sustainable electricity.

Trailing behind only the EU, which had a total of 93,957 MW of installed wind turbines capacity by the end of 2011, Asia was the second place regional leader with a total of 82,398 MW of installed wind farm capacity.

March 1, 2012

Can Battery Storage And Solar Work Together? Arizona's Largest Utility To Find Out


Last week, Phoenix-based APS, Arizona’s largest utility, began testing a 1.5-megawatt-hour energy storage system. The shipping container-sized unit, developed by lithium-ion battery maker Electrovaya Inc., can dispatch power equivalent to 1,200 hybrid Prius sedans or 300,000 cell phone batteries. Here is a video with a description of how the unit works.

The energy storage system, located in Flagstaff, will see double duty over the two-year pilot. At its first stop, an electrical distribution substation, the unit will store electricity when demand and prices are low and dispatch it at peak, usually late afternoon and early evening, when demand surges. In about a year, the unit will be trucked a few miles away, to a neighborhood solar zone, to interact with a 500-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) farm and cluster of rooftop solar arrays (more on this below).

Once installed at the Doney Park Renewable Energy site, home to the 500-kW PV farm, APS will use the energy storage system to supply power when solar output dips, as when a cloud passes overhead, and to help meet higher demand at peak after dark.

“One of the busiest times on our system is between 5 and 9 p.m. That’s when many customers get home from work, turn on the lights, the TV and the air conditioner. However, by that time, solar systems have largely stopped producing for the day,” APS Energy Storage Project Manager Joe Wilhelm said in a statement. “With storage, we can gather solar energy during the day and dispatch it in the evening.”

February 25, 2012

Siemens Blindsided by China Wind Boom Plans ‘Massive’ Investment


Siemens AG (SIE), the world’s largest maker of offshore wind turbines, said it underestimated the pace of growth in the Chinese wind market and will ramp up spending to catch up as local competitors increase their lead.

“We’re investing massively in research and development and to make use of economies of scale in production,” Felix Ferlemann, head of Siemens’s wind-power business, said in response to e-mailed questions. “We were somewhat taken by surprise by the strong growth of the Chinese market.”

China led the world in installing wind-power capacity last year. Munich-based Siemens is working to keep pace in the country, where it’s lagging behind suppliers such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS), while competition puts pressure on prices. Profitability at Siemens’s renewable-energy unit was wiped out last year, calling into question Chief Executive Officer Peter Loescher’s strategy of focusing more on green technologies.

Siemens maintains its goal of becoming “a leading company in wind power,” while it’s not important if this takes two years or five, Ferlemann said. The company set a goal in 2009 to rank this year among the world’s top three wind-power companies by installed generating capacity.

February 25, 2012

State's Largest Wind Power Project Breaks Ground (Hawaii)



Wind energy company First Wind broke ground Friday, for the state's largest wind project so far.

The company will build 30 wind turbines in the hills above Kawailoa, across from the popular surf spot Chun's Reef.

The new Kawailoa Wind farm is First Wind's fourth project in Hawaii.

It will produce 69 megawatts and generate enough electricity to power more than 14,500 Oahu homes, said Paul Gaynor, First Wind's CEO.

Read more: http://www.kitv.com/news/30539356/detail.html#ixzz1nQLfKuNH
February 25, 2012

Are Republicans our wind power saviors?



One of the most persistent voices calling for the PTC to live on past its Dec. 31 expiration is Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a fierce critic of the Obama agenda - except when it comes to wind. Iowa is a leading wind power state, and King's 5th Congressional District is home to several large plants.

"Iowa was the first state to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind," King wrote in an op-ed supporting the PTC extension. 

"Now, wind supports as many as 5,000 Iowa jobs, and $11 million in annual land lease payments to Iowa farmers. Iowa wind has prompted $300 million in private investment in Iowa manufacturing facilities."

In deeply red Kansas, support for the PTC comes from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback—joining Republican governors from Iowa [PDF] and Oklahoma [PDF] in backing the extension—and from Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). Moran's district includes the Hutchinson Wind Energy plant, where Siemens employs more than 350 people to make turbine nacelles.

During a recent visit to the plant, Moran told a local newspaper, "There's no doubt in my mind if we extend it that this is a job creator. More people will be working and paying taxes and helping get our financial house in order."


even the morans see the PTC as a real "job creator"

February 25, 2012

Why Did Leading Solar Panel Maker Solyndra Fail?


HealthNewsDigest.com) - Solyndra was a California-based maker of thin-film solar cells affixed to cylindrical panels that could deliver more energy than conventional flat photovoltaic panels. The company’s novel system mounted these flexible cells, made of copper, indium, gallium and diselenide (so-called CIGS), onto cylindrical tubes where they could absorb energy from any direction, including from indirect and reflected light.


What caused this shooting star of alternative energy to burn out so spectacularly after just six years in business and such a large investment? Part of what made Solyndra’s technology so promising was its low cost compared to traditional photovoltaic panels that relied on once costlier silicon. “When Solyndra launched, processed silicon was selling at historic highs, which made CIGS a cheaper option,” reports Rachel Swaby in Wired Magazine. “But silicon producers overreacted to the price run-up and flooded the market.” The result was that silicon prices dropped 90 percent, eliminating CIGS’ initial price advantage.

Another problem for Solyndra was the falling price of natural gas—the cleanest of the readily available fossil fuels—as extractors implemented new technologies including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to get at formerly inaccessible domestic reserves in shale rock. In 2001 shale gas accounted for two percent of U.S. natural gas output, while today that number is closer to 30 percent. The result of this increased supply is that the price of natural gas has fallen by some 77 percent since 2008, meaning utilities can produce electricity from it much cheaper as well. “Renewables simply can’t compete,” adds Swaby.

The final blow to Solyndra was China’s creation of a $30 billion credit line for its nascent solar industry. “The result: Chinese firms went from making just six percent of the world’s solar cells in 2005 to manufacturing more than half of them today,” says Swaby. U.S. market share is now just seven percent.

February 25, 2012

The heated debate over solar power (Georgia)


Clearly, a bill to encourage the use of solar power is now the hottest item in the state Capitol.

SB 401, sponsored by state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, originally had been shunted by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to the Senate Natural Resources Committee, where it was to be studied to death.

So on Thursday, an impatient Carter — opposed by Georgia Power, electrical membership corporations, and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce — brought SB 401 to the Senate committee that oversees utility legislation, where many think the measure ought to have been brought in the first place. Carter attempted to attach his bill to another piece of legislation intended to allow paranoid homeowners to opt out of wireless metering systems.

The concept offered by Carter is complicated, but my AJC colleague Kristina Torres has this explanation:

The most controversial aspect of Senate Bill 401 would allow outside companies to install, own and maintain alternative energy systems, in return for customers agreeing to a long-term contract to pay for the electricity generated by that system.

February 25, 2012

Chapel Hill company plans 15 solar farms this year (NC)


CHAPEL HILL -- The thicket of aluminum crossbars, rising shoulder-high and gleaming in the sunlight, could easily fill several football fields. In less than two months, this geometrical framework sprouting in Chatham County will be covered over by an indigo meadow of solar panels.


Strata Solar plans 15 industrial-scale solar farms for completion this year - including three in Wake and Chatham counties - each with a power capacity of about 5 megawatts. Strata Solar executives are closing in on a deal that would be the state's biggest solar farm, at about 20 megawatts.


The cost of solar panels, including installation, has fallen from about $9 a watt to $3 a watt this year, and could fall to $1 a watt in several years, Wilhelm said.

"If we keep the current trend going, we are not going to be dependent on major subsidies by 2016," Wilhelm said.

February 16, 2012

Wind energy: Iowa model for success


Low, stable tax rates generate jobs and economic growth. This idea has been the bedrock of conservative economic ideology for decades. One industry that represents this essential conservative principle is U.S. wind energy.

Low taxes in the form of the federal Production Tax Credit for wind have driven as much as $20 billion of private investment a year into the U.S. economy. Wind power is now one of America’s biggest sources of new electricity and fastest growing manufacturing sectors. It has accounted for more than a third of all new U.S. electric generation in recent years.


I know wind power’s success story firsthand. Iowa was the first state to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind. Now, wind supports as many as 5,000 Iowa jobs, and $11 million in annual land lease payments to Iowa farmers. Iowa wind has prompted $300 million in private investment in Iowa manufacturing facilities.

This success story is spreading across the country. Low taxes have helped wind’s manufacturing sector grow 12-fold — to more than 400 factories in 43 states. Wind industry leaders know how to expand this business and provide more U.S. jobs.


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