Sustainable energy and green stocks have exploded on the public markets - from just a couple dozen to the many hundreds we see today. How can you know which companies to invest in and how to create a diversified green portfolio for yourself or for your clients?
Here at Investing Green we help to research, profile and understand the trends and keep up with companies that are leading us to a green economy. We share the information that we get with you from leading green portfolio managers and experts in the field, so you want to stay on top of the trends throughout our field - renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grid, energy storage, green building, the recycling industry, water, organic foods and healthy lifestyles - our information covers it all.
So ReNewable Now can help you begin to build a foundation for green investing that will strongly benefit you or your clients over the coming years. All while being eco-smart.
The International Energy Agency projected that renewable energy will represent the largest single source of electricity growth by the end of the decade. Several factors are expected to contribute to the increasing adoption of green energy, including falling costs, expansion in emerging economies, continuous technological innovations that make energy generation and preservation more efficient and effective, as well as growing investments in alternative energy sources. According to a report by Sandler Research, the global renewable energy investment market to exceed USD 350 billion by 2020. Investments in the solar and wind energy are increasing considerably. Looking at the US market, the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has provided industry stability and growth since 2006 where it has experienced a CAGR of about 60%. Investments and new state policies favoring green energy provide companies with the opportunity to increase their R&D and marketing efforts, which helps greater innovation potential. Solarwindow Technologies Inc. (OTC: WNDW), Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW), Covanta Holding Corporation (NYSE: CVA), Pattern Energy Group Inc. (NASDAQ: PEGI), SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ: SPWR)
A report by Grand View Research points out that wind technology is economical today in majority power markets and that accomplishments of green marketing in harnessing wind power, has given rise to the domestic public interest in the sustainable electric generation technology. Photovoltaics, best known as a method for generating electric power by using solar cells, have also generated interest, but the future of solar is in future technologies. The research indicates that the idea of zero energy homes also known as solar building homes has been trending. Solar building technologies supply heat, electricity, light, hot water, and cooling to residential and commercial buildings. Besides wind and solar, another alternative energy source expected to attract more attention is the Waste to Energy (WTE). Global Market Insights projects the WTE market size to surpass $33 Billion by 2023, growing at CAGR of 6.1%.
Boralex closes $33.4 Million in Financing
for the Port Ryerse Wind Farm
Boralex Inc. ("Boralex" or the "Corporation") (TSX: BLX) announced the closing of a $33.4 million financing for the Port Ryerse wind farm in Ontario, Canada.
Long-term financing of the 10 MW Port Ryerse wind farm, located on privately-owned lands east of the hamlet of Port Ryerse in Norfolk County, Ontario, is provided by the DZ Bank AG Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank (New York Branch). The financing consists of a $2.0 million letter of credit facility and a long-term tranche of $31.4 million. The latter will be amortized over a period of 18 years beginning December 9, 2016, the date of the project's commercial operation. On February 7, 2017, Boralex acquired all of the units of UDI Renewables Corporation, representing 25 % of Port Ryerse Wind Farm Limited Partnership, making Boralex the sole project holder.
Note that the project is covered by a 20-year power purchase agreement with Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).
A little more about Boralex, they build and operate renewable energy power facilities in Canada, France and the United States. A leader in the Canadian market and France's largest independent producer of onshore wind power, the Corporation is recognized for its solid experience in optimizing its asset base in four power generation types — wind, hydroelectric, thermal and solar. Boralex ensures sustained growth by leveraging the expertise and diversification developed over the past 25 years. Boralex's shares and convertible debentures are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbols BLX and BLX.DB.A, respectively.
Solar giant ZNShine to list on China's NASDAQ
ZNShine PV-Tech Co., LTD, the global photovoltaic (PV) solutions supplier, recently listed its initial public offering on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ), known as China's NASDAQ the board for small-to-medium-sized innovative companies in China. After its successful IPO, ZNShine is the No. 1 solar PV company on NEEQ.
With fast financial growth that records a 13.81% profit increase for the first half year of 2016, the company aims to lead the industry by specifically focusing on high-performance quality and premium customer service. Its world-leading automatic production lines by far are able to generate average annual output of 2MWsolar panels per headcount. ZNShine has expanded its sales network from its European markets to Americas and Asia-pacific region such as Japan and other Southeast Asian countries.
Apart from scaling up, the company has been exploring new opportunities of solar PV application in various industries. One example is its innovation in agriculture production. By integrating the traditional ways of agriculture production with PV power generation. ZNShine realized a new mode of power generation on the greenhouse with high efficient planting underneath. This enables a full utilization of the limited land resources to largely improve the overall productivity even with reduced capex. According to the company, such projects have been successfully adopted in a number of countries including China, Japan and etc.
Board Chairman of ZNShine Mr. Wang Guifen pointed out, "There are a lot of benefits that these projects could bring. Not only will the environment be improved in the long-term, they are also to offer job opportunities to the local people. For example, the project in Shanxi is likely to cut 3 million tons of carbon dioxide emission in 25 years and provide over 300 jobs."
Wang said, "IPO definitely opens a chapter for the company. With more financial support, ZNShine will continue to expand and deepen the PV market, and bring more renewable energy to the world."
Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery Market Growing at 20.5% CAGR to 2020
The global lithium iron phosphate battery market 2016-2020 report says a large portion of its consumption is attributed to China and the reason for this high demand is the significant increase in the usage of battery-operated vehicles in China. The growth in the usage of lithium iron phosphate batteries is due to the expected long-term developments in the EV and HEV sectors to reduce carbon emissions and support alternative fuel sources. Also, China accounts for nearly 40% of the global lithium iron phosphate battery market. The country has nearly 95% of the rare earth lithium metals that could increase the lithium iron phosphate production in the coming years. The increased demand from China is expected to be the major prevailing trend in the global lithium iron phosphate battery market during the forecast period.
The analysts forecast global lithium iron phosphate battery market to grow at a CAGR of 20.5% during the period 2016-2020. According to the lithium iron phosphate battery market report, strong focus on renewable power generation will be a key driver for market growth. The growing population and the depletion of fossil fuel reserves have raised concerns about and focus on renewable power generation. Also, the integration of renewable energy resources with power grid networks has increased worldwide. In micro grids and hybrid power systems, LFP batteries are used as a backup. For instance, San Nicolas Island wind-diesel micro grid in the US uses a 1,000-kWh LFP battery for backup.
The strong focus on renewable power generation has boosted the adoption of lithium iron phosphate batteries across the globe. Wind and solar power are the two widely used energy sources for renewable power generation. Because of its intermittent nature, the generated power is stored in the battery for later use. During 2015, the APAC region accounted for around 58% of the overall market revenue to become the dominant shareholder in the global lithium iron phosphate battery market. The thriving EV, HEV, and consumer electronics sectors in the region is expected fuel further growth of the market in this region during the forecast period.
Accounting for a total market share of about 62%, the EVs, and HEVs segment dominated the lithium iron phosphate battery market during 2015. EV manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for unconventional energy storage systems that offer increased vehicle efficiency and performance. Due to their high energy density and long cycle time, lithium iron phosphate batteries come as the most preferred choice of alternative energy storage systems.
The following companies are the key players in the global lithium iron phosphate battery market: A123 Systems, BYD, Electrical Vehicle Power System Technology, Hi Power, and OptimumNano Energy. Other prominent vendors in the market are: GAIA, K2Energy¸ LiFeBATT, Phostech, Pihsiang Energy Technology, Pulead Technology Industry, and Victory Battery Technology.
Information provided by sandlerresearch.org
SolarCity Raises $305 Million in Latest Cash Equity Financing
SolarCity Corp. (Nasdaq: SCTY) today announced that it raised $305 million in its second cash equity transaction. A private investment fund affiliated with Quantum Strategic Partners Ltd. and advised by Soros Fund Management LLC provided the equity investment in a portfolio of residential, commercial and industrial solar projects. The transaction also included a fully amortizing, 18-year loan that was syndicated to five high-quality institutional investors.
By placing the equity investor and lender group separately, SolarCity was able to achieve a pre-tax, weighted average cost of capital for the transaction of 7.4%, a significant improvement over its first cash equity transaction. The transaction and terms demonstrate the exceptional quality of SolarCity's distributed solar assets.
The syndication of a long-dated, fully-amortizing loan is believed to represent a 'first of its kind' for distributed solar assets, creating another valuable financing tool for SolarCity. The loan was rated investment grade by a leading credit rating agency, and the financing is non-recourse to SolarCity. Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as the sole syndication and structuring agent for the transaction.
SolarCity monetizes its underlying cash flows in cash equity transactions, but retains ownership of the assets and continues to service the customers. SolarCity held $5.2 billion in solar energy system assets on its balance sheet at the end of its most recently reported quarter on June 30. Those assets are contracted to create $3.1 billion in future payments on a net present value (NPV) basis1, and SolarCity expects to continue to execute additional transactions in the future with high quality investors to monetize its contracted cashflows.
The portfolio of projects in the transaction announced today collectively represents 230 megawatts of solar generation capacity spread across 15 states. The vast majority of the installations were completed in 2015 and 2016.
Canadian Solar Closes GBP36.4 Million Solar Project
Canadian Solar Inc. (the "Company" or "Canadian Solar") (NASDAQ: CSIQ), one of the world's largest solar power companies, today announced that it has closed a £36.4 million (US$52 million) project financing facility with BayernLB to refinance a portfolio of four solar power plants, totaling 40.2 megawatts in the UK. This financing facility with BayernLB is non-recourse project finance, with a term of 17 years.
"We are delighted to complete this project financing facility with BayernLB," said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar. "This facility underscores Canadian Solar's strength as a global tier-1 player that has broad support from international financial institutions. We look forward to continuing our partnership with BayernLB to support the sustainable growth of our global project business."
About Canadian Solar
Founded in 2001 in Canada, Canadian Solar is one of the world's largest and foremost solar power companies. As a leading manufacturer of solar photovoltaic modules and a provider of solar energy solutions, Canadian Solar has a geographically diversified pipeline of utility-scale power projects. In the past 14 years, Canadian Solar has successfully deployed over 14 GW of premium quality modules in over 90 countries around the world. Furthermore, Canadian Solar is one of the most bankable companies in the solar industry, having been publically listed on NASDAQ since 2006.
This week , at ExxonMobil's Annual General Meeting, shareholders will vote on what could prove to be the beginning of a sea change in how big oil companies look at energy. As You Sow filed an innovative shareholder proposal with both Exxon and Chevron encouraging these companies to report their reserves – their primary assets – not just in the traditional "barrels of oil equivalent," but in an energy-neutral metric that applies to all energy resources, including renewables such as solar, wind, and geothermal.
"We have to get beyond a barrel-based standard," said Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow. "Replacing every barrel of oil with another barrel of oil doesn't make business sense in a carbon-constrained economy that's moving away from fossil fuels." Fugere explained that oil is not the best investment opportunity, and that shareholders want oil companies to envision a future that is quite different than their past.
For the first time in decades, Exxon did not replace its oil reserves this year. Shortly after the announcement, its credit was downgraded for the first time since the 1930s. Oil majors will benefit by diversifying their business to hedge against a host of changes to energy markets, including crushing competition from national oil companies like Saudi Aramco, pressure to decarbonize due to climate change, and the skyrocketing costs of pursuing new oil resources. As You Sow's Carbon Asset Transition resolution creates a path for oil and gas companies to diversify their asset base and facilitate their transition from oil and gas companies into diversified energy companies.
As noted by Andrew Behar, As You Sow's Chief Executive Officer, "It would be making a statement if Big Oil was to become Big Energy."
"Even oil companies can change—they must change. This shareholder resolution will help Exxon and Chevron decouple their financial performance from how much oil they can produce. It's time for oil companies to think outside the barrel," Fugere said.
Renewables Investment Surges In Developing Nations
Investment in renewables in the developing world was up 19% in 2015; ahead of developed nations (down 8%) states a report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016 states investment globally last year (USD $266 billion) was also double that invested in coal and gas fired power stations ( estimated $130 billion).
The developing world’s impressive tally was primarily spurred on by China; which boosted its investment by 17% to $102.9 billion, or 36% of the world total. In terms of percentage based increases, South Africa led the way with $4.5 billion, up 329%.
India, South Africa, Mexico and Chile all joined the list of the top 10 investing countries in 2015.
134GW of renewables excluding large hydro were commissioned globally last year, equivalent to an estimated 53.6% of all power generation capacity completed. This is the first time renewables have represented a majority.
The amount of wind and solar power generating capacity added last year came to 118GW, a big jump from the next highest annual figure, 2014’s 94GW.
All this occurred in a year where prices of fossil fuel commodities – oil, coal and gas – nose-dived. Over the last 12 years, the total amount committed to renewable energy has reached $2.3 trillion.
“So far, the drivers of investment in renewables, including climate change policies and improving cost-competitiveness, have been more than sufficient to enable renewables to keep growing their share of world electricity generation at the expense of carbon-emitting sources,” states the report.
The average global levelised cost of energy (LCOE) for crystalline-silicon PV has plummeted from $315 per MWh in Q3 2009 to $122 in late 2015, a drop of 61%; reflecting deflation in prices for solar panels, balance-of-plant costs and installation expenses.
A predicted 16 gigawatts of solar will be installed in the U.S. in 2016 – representing year-over-year growth of a staggering 119%.
That’s a lot of solar panels – equivalent to around 61,538,461 based on a 260 watt module.
The 16GW prediction has been made by GTM Research in the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report 2015 Year in Review, which has been published in conjunction with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
As we reported previously, 7,286MW of solar PV was installed in the USA last year, which was the largest annual total ever and 17% above 2014.
Utility-scale installations will lead the charge in 2016, accounting for 74 percent of capacity additions for the year. However, esidential and commercial markets will also see significant growth and the nation is on the brink of 1 millionth solar installation.
It’s good news all round – more clean power, more investment, more jobs – a lot more jobs.
“Because of the strong demand for solar energy nationwide, and smart public policies like the ITC and NEM, hundreds of thousands of well-paying solar jobs will be added in the next few years benefiting both America’s economy and the environment,” said SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch.
The ITC is the Investment Tax Credit program; providing a 30 percent credit for wind, solar and energy storage systems installed at eligible residential and commercial properties. The credit level was due to drop from the beginning of this year, but was extended late last year and will stay at 30% through 2020 before tapering off.
Peering past 2016, the market is expected to shrink in 2017 comparatively speaking, but will still be a very respectable 10GW. Residential/ non-residential PV markets are both expected to achieve year-over-year growth. In 2018, solar is expected to resume year-over-year growth across all market segments.
“..between 2018 and 2020, the extension of the ITC will reboot market growth for utility PV and support continued growth in distributed solar as a growing number of states reach grid parity,” said GTM Research Senior Analyst Cory Honeyman.
By 2021, GTM Research expects the U.S. solar market to breeze past a cumulative total of 100 GW of solar PV, with an annual installation rate of 20 GW or more.
There may not be a more misunderstood commodity than Lithium. While the average investor likely knows that lithium is used in batteries, that's where the knowledge ends. Most people don't realize the extent of lithium's importance to the world. Furthermore, even fewer understand the dynamics of the lithium market.
Consequently, ignoring lithium is a dangerous idea for a shrewd investor. Goldman Sachs has called lithium "the new gasoline" which is surely a term not thrown about loosely by one of the world's largest investment banks. After all, oil has been the most important commodity in the world for over a century. Could lithium be next?
The lithium industry is extensive. Lithium is used in everything from glass and ceramics to grease and polymers. It's even used in medicine to treat bipolar disorder. Yet, the real growth potential for lithium is in batteries. While batteries already make up 40% of the market for lithium, that number could grow to 65% over the next ten years. We're not just talking about laptop batteries here either. The most important growth areas are in transportation (electric vehicle batteries) and renewable energy (grid storage). Importantly, the growth in these areas will have a large impact on demand because the type of lithium batteries used in electric vehicles and grid storage use much more lithium than those used in our laptop computers and mobile phones – pounds versus ounces.
According to Credit Suisse, demand for lithium could outstrip supply in 2020 by 25%. At that point, the world is expected to need over 380,000 tons of lithium (reported as lithium carbonate equivalent or "LCE"). Considering the demand number was in the neighborhood of 190,000 tons in 2014, that's an eye-popping 100% growth in demand over a six-year period. Much of that growth will come from batteries.
Why the huge increase in lithium batteries? As we mentioned earlier, electric vehicles and grid storage are the most prominent reasons. With electric vehicles, we're in the midst of something of a revolution versus fossil fuel powered vehicles. Even with the price of oil dropping like a lead weight, many countries are focused on cutting carbon emissions and using clean energy as a matter of policy, regardless of oil price. Electric cars have already taken the market by storm and with companies like Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Volkswagen, and others either producing electric cars or in the process of developing them. That doesn't even include tech giants such as Apple and Google entering the fray, which could reshape the automotive industry even further. Citi Research projects the global lithium battery market to be $40 billion by 2020. That's a 10-year growth rate of more than 250%.
Then there's grid energy storage. One of the main issues with renewable forms of energy is the problem of timing. The sun doesn't shine at night. The wind doesn't always blow. As such, fossil fuel energy generation is currently needed to fill the gap, especially in times of high demand. However, a robust yet affordable storage solution can change the entire dynamic. This trend could conceivably alter the entire energy infrastructure in the US and elsewhere. Green Tech Media estimates grid storage capacity in the US will be over 800 Megawatts by 2019. While that is a substantial increase from roughly 220 MW in 2015, installed capacity already more than tripled between 2014 and 2015.
Lithium battery technology is only getting better. Because of the spectacular energy density afforded by the lightweight metal, there is nothing likely on the near-term horizon as a substitute for lithium-powered batteries in terms of economic feasibility. In other words, lithium is essential, and will only continue to grow in importance for the foreseeable future.
PSP Investments to acquire 1.4GW hydroelectric assets in New England
The Public Sector Pension Investment Board ("PSP Investments"), one of Canada's largest pension investment managers, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire from ENGIE Group (EPA: ENGI) a New England portfolio of hydroelectric assets totaling 1.4GW for an enterprise value of US$1.2 billion. PSP Investments intends to maximize the potential benefits of combining its ownership in these premier assets with the operational expertise of its existing hydroelectric power platform, H2O Power LP ("H2O Power").
"PSP Investments is extremely pleased with the acquisition of these significant hydroelectric facilities which form an important component of the Eastern U.S. energy market," said Guthrie Stewart, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Private Investments at PSP Investments. "The purchased assets are an excellent fit with PSP Investments' long-term investment horizon and its strategy to leverage industry-specialized platforms, such as H2O Power," Mr. Stewart added.
The assets to be acquired are core operational merchant hydroelectric facilities located primarily on the Connecticut River in Massachusetts and the Housatonic River in Connecticut. They constitute the 2nd largest privately-owned hydroelectric portfolio within the well-developed and functional ISO New-England (ISO-NE) power market. They include the 1,168MW Northfield Mountain pumped-storage facility as well as 12 conventional hydroelectric facilities, the three largest of which represent an aggregate generation capacity of 134MW. The portfolio generates Renewable Energy Credits.
Majority-owned by PSP Investments, H2O Power currently owns and operates 10 hydroelectric generating stations located in Canada and the United States, representing 170MW of power generation capacity.
The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.
Germany's RWE Invests
in Orange County Clean Tech Firm, KnGrid
KnGrid, a leader in the effort to make it easy for consumers to shift from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy starting with the electric car and RWE New Ventures LLC, Californian daughter of German Utility RWE, announced plans to further strengthen their co-operation.
Smart Grid Meets the Smart Car:
When Californians drive across the German countryside, they're struck by the amount of wind and solar they see. In fact, Germany is actually ahead of California on that measure. Germans that drive through California are impressed by the number of plug-in electric vehicles on the road.
On both fronts, however, California has established very ambitious goals: 50% of its electric power from renewable sources, primarily wind and solar, and in 2013 Governor Brown signed an executive order to support 1.5 million zero emission vehicles by 2025. Revolution-scale adoption of electric vehicles is the goal and California Governor Jerry Brown has pushed for an obvious early win: use the big electric loads from these vehicles to smooth out the variable output from wind and solar.
During his visit to California this week RWE's CEO Peter Terium spoke to reporters, "I am really excited. Today our common effort to promote the energy turnaround in California and beyond starting with the electric car reaches a new level. KnGrid has the market position and the greenfield for automakers. RWE has a mature expertise in smart grids and eMobility technology. If we can combine the best of these two worlds we see Germany and California leading on parallel paths to build the energy system for the future."
RWE started working on intelligence in the electric vehicle and the charging station in 2008 by pioneering and creating a global open open interoperability standard called ISO 15118.
Hans-Martin Hellebrand, Manager at RWE New Ventures LLC based in Silicon Valley said "This is a great day for us. We've worked with KnGrid for quite some time now on our demonstration project at UC San Diego and have built a great working relationship, which now provides the basis for further developments."
Steve Davis, KnGrid's CEO and Founder, added that "given the recent decisions by the California Public Utilities Commission to approve SDG&E's pilot Vehicle Grid Integration Application, the time to move is now. RWE gives us best-of-breed technology and the resources needed to do big things here."
The two companies are currently developing a cloud-based 'brain' (called a 'Demand Clearinghouse' or DCH) for utilities to use to send grid conditions and pricing signals to connected electric vehicles anywhere in California. This DCH is the first of its kind in the world and represents a key signal to automakers. This cooperation supports automaker plans to implement the global ISO 15118 communications standard for smart charging in North America. Automakers from Korea to Germany are now implementing the standard and preparing production rollouts. "With the ISO 15118 standard in place, things get really simple for the consumer" Davis said. "When they want to charge their car, no matter where they are, they just pull up, plug in and walk away. The vehicle knows what they need and tells a cloud-based settlement engine where to bill them. It's seamless."
"People sometimes ask me what I do for a living," Davis laughs. "Its not the best cocktail party conversation, but I gauge the quality of our technology by my experience with my wife. She now knows how to 'smart charge' our electric car because with this technology, she just plugs it in. She really doesn't want to know how it works, but she cares a LOT about sustainability and the environment. With this technology, people like her can know that they're doing something real to make our world a cleaner place and still have a 'plug and play' experience. It's 'Internet of Things' at its best."
Are we starting to write the obituary for fossil fuels?
Renewable, energy efficient and flexible electricity sources are being adopted by policy makers and investors across the globe. A University of Exeter energy policy expert is suggesting that this is sign of optimism in the battle against climate change.
In a journal article published in Nature Energy, Professor Catherine Mitchell from the University's Energy Policy Group argues that investment in renewable electricity now outstrips that in fossil fuels, and that increasing numbers of policies to improve the efficiency of energy use and to make energy systems more flexible are pointing to a global momentum in the adoption of sustainable energy systems.
"While the world is still dependent on fossil fuels, because energy systems have long lives, it has got to the point where more than half of global electricity system investment is in renewables rather than fossil fuels investment. It is a sign that globally we have moved our public policy discourse and investor preferences from the old 'dirty' energy system to a clean one," she said.
The adoption of renewable electricity by a few countries like Denmark and Germany in the 1990s, has led to improved understanding of energy system operation and a fall in prices which has had a knock on effect. A few countries, like the UK, remain dominated by conventional energy systems but most are supporting the move to sustainable energy systems.
"They are just trying to act as good global neighbours and have realised that meeting their climate change reduction commitments is no longer as expensive as they thought, and it helps, rather than makes worse, the security of their energy systems, " added Professor Mitchell, who us based at the University's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
While the changing discourse is welcome, Professor Mitchell stresses that the challenge of climate change has not yet been met and that policy statements need to be backed up with firm action: "The recent United Nations meeting on climate change in Paris and its agreements has led to strong support for individual country's sustainable energy policies. However, these statements need to be backed up with appropriate governance -- policies, institutions, incentives and energy system rules -- to make sure they are implemented and are successful."
Momentum is increasing towards a flexible electricity system based on renewables by Catherine Mitchell is published in Nature Energy.
Businesses and Investors Pioneering the Green Economy highlight Multi-Trillion Dollar Opportunity
Corporate leaders, government ministers and international development banks leading the transition to a green economy will highlight the multi-trillion dollar business opportunities in responding to climate change at the Sustainable Innovation Forum, the largest business-focussed event held during the COP21 Paris Climate Summit.
More than 750 delegates from countries all over the world will debate how businesses, financiers, cities and states, can work together to invest hundreds of billions a year in transforming energy, transport, cities and agriculture to meet global climate change targets.
The two-day event at the Stade de France, organised by Climate Action and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), aims to accelerate the development of a low-carbon, green economy by showcasing innovative technology solutions, sharing pioneering thinking, and building cross-sector partnerships.
The Sustainable Innovation Forum will be opened by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UNEP, and Dr Hakima El Haite, Minister of Energy, Mining, Water and the Environment of Morocco, which will host the 2016 COP21 UN Climate Summit in Marrakech.
More than 80 world class speakers will take part in the two-day programme involving multinational business leaders, entrepreneurs, government ministers from five continents, top executives from international development banks, and thought leaders from NGOs and think tanks.
Achim Steiner said: “As momentum for a sustainable future grows, we are already seeing the enormous opportunities for business of an inclusive green economy. We need look no further than the power sector, where last year half of all new infrastructure investments – some $270 billion – were in renewables. The market for low-carbon technologies and innovations is not some future concept. It is thriving today, and offers huge potential for those who would capitalise on it.”
Wind & Solar Costs Down - Coal, Gas & Nuclear UP
Onshore wind energy now fully competitive against gas and coal in some parts of the world, while solar power is closing in says Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
BNEF’s Levelised Cost of Electricity Update for the second half of this year states the cost of onshore wind and solar photovoltaics have dropped again this year, while costs have gone up for gas-fired and coal-fired electricity generation.
The global average levelised cost of electricity* (LCOE) for onshore wind dropped to USD$82 per megawatt-hour in the second half of 2015, while for crystalline silicon PV, i.e. solar panels, the cost fell to USD $122.
This has been attributed to not only cheaper technology, but also lower financing costs.
Meanwhile, the LCOE for coal-fired powered generation increased from $66 per MWh in the first half to $75 in H2 in the Americas, from $68 to $73 in Asia-Pacific, and from $82 to $105 in Europe.
The LCOE for combined-cycle gas turbine generation jumped from $76 to $82 in the Americas in the second half, from $85 to $93 in Asia-Pacific and from $103 to $118 in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa).
Onshore wind is now fully cost-competitive with gas-fired and coal-fired generation in the UK and Germany once carbon costs are factored in.
BNEF says coal and gas have become more expensive due to lower utilisation rates, and in the case of Europe, a higher carbon price assumption.
But what about so-called “cheap” nuclear power? BNEF says nuclear energy in the Americas and Europe rose to $261 per megawatt-hour and in the Middle East and Africa region, $158 per MWh.
The impact of the wind and solar power revolution has taken many by surprise, including Bloomberg New Energy Finance it seems.
“.. onshore wind and solar PV are both now much more competitive against the established generation technologies than would have seemed possible only five or 10 years ago,” said Luke Mills, analyst, energy economics at BNEF.
A recently released report from the International Energy Agency says renewables are expected to be the largest source of net additions to power generation capacity globally out to 2020; with wind power the major contributor, followed by solar PV.
Map Shows New York’s
Untapped Solar Power Potential
Pictures don't lie, this could be the new "Gold Rush." Or should we say "Green Rush?"
The launch of a new solar mapping website from Boston start-up, Mapdwell, shows New York City has the potential to host over 11 GW of solar panel capacity in ‘high-yield’ rooftop projects.
The solar map provides a bird’s-eye view all five boroughs of the city, enabling homeowners and businesses to assess how much electricity can be produced on their rooftops, the financial payoff of going solar and how much their carbon footprint can be reduced.
Called Solar System, the online map was created by a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), key members of which went on to found the spin-off company Mapdwell. Since successfully mapping all 17,000 rooftops in Cambridge, Mass. in 2013, Mapdwell have created highly detailed solar maps of nine U.S. cities. Solar System NYC is the company’s latest – and largest – city launch.
The New York Project identifies more than one million buildings suitable for solar installation; which, if carried out, would generate more than 13 million megawatt-hours (MW/h) each year in solar electricity.
“This is over $40 billion in local business that could provide enough clean, renewable energy to over 1.2 million American homes while offsetting carbon emissions equivalent to planting 185 million trees”, explained Eduardo Berlin, CEO at Mapdwell. “Market conditions today include lowered hardware costs, tax credits, and incentive programs that make New York a hot solar market.”
Solar System works by building an electricity yield map that calculates the amount of photovoltaic energy that can be generated from roofs over a typical year in a specified area – Brooklyn, for instance. Rooftops are then colour-coded by solar potential: excellent, good, poor, and no solar at all.
While most solar maps assume all roofs are flat, the Mapdwell system takes into account pitched rooftops with shady areas and provides hourly solar radiation and temperature fluctuation updates over a full year.
Finally, an online financial model adds up state and federal tax credits and incentives for PV installations.
Mapdwell’s Solar System was featured in Wired Magazine’s “Most Amazing, Beautiful and Viral Maps of 2013”, and was recognised at this year’s SUSTANIA100 awards as one of 100 leading sustainability innovations from around the world.
Keep An Eye Out For
Solid-State Lithium-Ion Batteries,
Could Make For A Wise Investment
Solid state Lithium-ion batteries offer a safer method of energy storage, but solid state electrolyte use has been limited by the poor conductive nature of such materials – perhaps that’s about to change.
A group of researchers have developed a new approach to solid-state electrolytes that would not only be safer, but improve energy density and enable Lithium-ion batteries to perform in lower temperatures.
You wouldn’t dream of hitting a lithium-ion battery with a hammer (we hope you wouldn’t anyway), but professor of materials science and engineering Gerbrand Ceder says the team’s approach will be a real game-changer.
“All of the fires you’ve seen, with Boeing, Tesla, and others, they are all electrolyte fires,” stated the Professor. “The lithium itself is not flammable in the state it’s in in these batteries. [With a solid electrolyte] there’s no safety problem — you could throw it against the wall, drive a nail through it — there’s nothing there to burn.”
As we mentioned yesterday, while fires are rare in Lithium-ion batteries, they can and do happen. Worse still, Li-ion batteries experiencing thermal runaway have been known to result in explosions. It’s this volatility that means it’s not a great idea to leave your cell phone charging overnight.
The team’s initial research has indicated superionic lithium-ion conductors; compounds of lithium, germanium, phosphorus, and sulfur, are up to the task of creating solid state electrolyte and with further investigation, even more effective materials may be identified.
Solid-state electrolyte will also allow for a 20 to 30 percent improvement in power density – enabling a significant boost in capacity to everything from cell phones to home battery storage units.
The research is part of an alliance between MIT and the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology. The work to date has been reported in the journal Nature Materials.
Last year, researchers at Sakti3, a spinout of the University of Michigan, claimed to have developed a solid state electrolyte lithium-ion battery that could double energy density for 20% of the cost. Details of the materials and construction of such a battery have not yet been released.
The race to develop a commercially viable solid state Lithium-ion battery continues – and for the winner who brings such a product to market first, it could mean billions of dollars.
Solar Investment To Surpass Coal In India
Deutsche Bank has painted a sunny picture for solar in India, stating annual investments in the clean power technology could surpass investment in coal by 2019.
In its India 2020: Utilities & Renewables report, the Bank has raised its solar power forecast for India by 240%; to 34GW by 2020.
“This is on the back of strong commissioning (4.5GW), even stronger pipeline – under construction (~5.1GW), and new projects (~15 GW),” says the report.
By 2020, renewables could account for 20% of the nation’s power generation capacity – and the electricity will be cheaper than coal.
With regard to India’s goal of adding 100GW solar power capacity by 2022 (40GW rooftop installations, 60GW large-scale), Deutsche Bank feels that while it is technically feasible, a comprehensive strategy is still needed to achieve it.
India had installed ~4.5GW of solar capacity by June this year will likely add 3 – 5GW annually.
“It is expected to continue to grow at a healthy pace, but may still not be sufficient to achieve the 100GW target by 2022,” says the Bank.
If India is somehow able to meet the 100GW target, the nation will be among the largest renewable energy producers globally, outpacing several developed countries.
India is not short on sunlight – it’s bathed in solar radiation levels of 5-7KWh/m2 and has an estimated installed solar potential of 748,990MW.
For consumers, based on recent bids for solar and coal, tariff parity has already almost arrived. For commercial consumers, solar power without capital subsidies is already competitive or cheaper than grid electricity in states including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
The nation has attracted a great deal of attention from international developers, who will invest USD $35bn+ in renewable energy in the country.
SunEdison’s president and chief executive officer, Ahmad Chatila, said last month India is a core market for the company. Among its many projects in the country, SunEdison signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government of Karnataka in January to develop 5GW of wind and solar over the next five years.
New York State Pushing to be # 1 For Solar & Wind
A new funding proposal supporting large-scale renewables such as solar and wind power could see New York State become a national leader in clean energy employment – and result in a big drop not only in carbon emissions, but also electricity prices.
In a submission of strategies for guiding the Empire State towards its climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has proposed a commitment of USD $1.5 billion over 10 years for the expansion of large scale renewable energy technologies.
Such an investment represents a small fraction of the tens of billions New Yorkers spend on conventional energy sources annually according to NYSERDA, and would come with the benefit of stimulating the state economy, eliminating pollution and creating thousands of new jobs.
“The new strategies and commitment will enable New York to make meaningful progress towards the State’s clean energy goals at the lowest possible cost, while setting large scale renewables on a path to a subsidy-free market and providing opportunities for customers to more easily procure clean power on their own,” the submission states.
The proposal forms part of New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) program, a plan for building a smarter, cleaner energy system. Under the scheme’s NY-Sun initiative, 3,000 MW of solar power capacity will be added by 2023 and a fleet of 40,000 electric cars will hit the road by 2018, serviced by up to 3,000 EV charging stations.
NYSERDA oversees New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which has so far enabled the development of nearly 1,900 MW of renewable energy in the state since 2004.
But as President Obama’s EPA-led Clean Power Plan begins rolling out across the U.S. and seismic advancements in technology change the landscape for large-scale wind and solar energy, a fresh strategy was required, according to NYSERDA president and CEO, John B. Rhodes.
“Large scale renewables continue to play a critical role in advancing New York’s clean energy goals and its economy,” he said. “While building upon the success achieved to date, the State is developing strategies to engage greater private sector involvement to continue the growth of renewable energy that will protect the environment and stimulate economic development.”
The $1.5 billion proposal responded to input from local industry and market feedback. NYSERDA has recommended a number of policies, frameworks and financing structures to support large scale renewables and has submitted them for public comment.
Wind turbines will soon dot the English Channel after an agreement between energy giant E.ON and the UK Green Investment Bank to build the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, 13 kilometres off the Sussex coast. Comprising 116 3.45 MW turbines, the project will have the capacity to generate 400 MW of electricity and deliver 1,300 gigawatt hours (GW/h) of renewable energy to the mainland each year, enough to power 300,000 British households.
Until it is commissioned in 2017, construction of the Rampion site is expected to provide 300 jobs with a further 65 full-time maintenance and supervising positions upon completion.
Once operational, the 116 Vestas-supplied turbines will avoid 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, equivalent to removing 75,000 cars from the road.
The €1.9 billion (US $2.07 bn) wind project will receive funds from the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB). GIB has acquired a €263 million (US $286.64 million) stake from developer E.ON, which has committed to building and operating all aspects of the Rampion Wind Farm; including foundations, cabling and an offshore substation to transmit energy to the national grid.
“This is an important milestone for what is a strategically important project for the UK,” said Tony Cocker, UK Chief Executive at E.ON.
“At around £1.3 billion this investment by E.ON and our partners at the UK Green Investment Bank could be one of the biggest capital projects confirmed in Britain this year and we are proud of the leading role we are continuing to take in helping transform the UK’s energy infrastructure.”
The UK GIB controls a £3.8 billion (US $4.14 bn) fund designed to transition Britain into a greener economy and help the country achieve its climate goals. The investment in the Rampion project marks the Bank’s seventh investment in the UK’s offshore wind power sector, investments that will ultimately build over 2,500 MW of renewable energy capacity.
“This huge investment is a vote of confidence in the UK, creating local jobs, bringing business opportunities and providing clean, home-grown energy,” said Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP.
“The UK is the best place in the world to invest in offshore wind, thanks to the certainty the Government is able to provide to attract private finance in partnership with the Green Investment Bank.”
Wind Power Will Blow Past Iowa’s Emissions Targets
A new study has found wind power alone will put the U.S. state of Iowa on track to blow past carbon reduction targets set by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) sweeping Clean Power Plan.
The nationwide edict establishes state-specific goals that would cut 2005 carbon levels from America’s power plants by 30 per cent by 2030.
According to a report released by the Iowa Wind Energy Association (IWEA), wind power in the state is expanding rapidly, and is easily the lowest cost option for meeting the state’s modest 16 per cent carbon reduction goal by 2030.
With an installed capacity of 5,600 MW of wind – accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the MW of wind – accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the Hawkeye State’s total electricity generation – Iowa is expected reach the halfway mark of its 2030 target by the end of next year.
The IWEA puts Iowa’s total untapped wind capacity at a staggering 570,000 MW and says the state needs to add just 74 MW of new wind to meet its EPA obligations. More than 6000 people are employed in Iowa’s $10 billion wind energy sector, and new wind totaling 635 MW/year came online over the years 2008 to 2015, the highest percentage of electricity by wind in the USA.
The study found this vast wind resource has the potential to transform the Iowan economy into a clean energy powerhouse and exporter of wind sourced electricity to neighbouring states to comply with their Clean Power Plan targets.
Property values for land hosting wind turbines soared through 2013 to $2.6 billion and landowners receive more than $16 million each year in lease payments from developers.
Key findings included Iowa meeting a more stringent greenhouse reduction target of 30 per cent instead of 16 per cent by adding just 210 MW/year of wind out to 2030.
Neighbouring Midwestern states – Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin – could meet 25 per cent of their EPA goals with wind exported from Iowa alone by building 17,000 MW (around 1100 MW per year) of capacity by 2030. This would offer a CO2 reduction of 30,000,000 tons by 2030, nearly 40 per cent of emissions from Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin combined.
Iowa’s Wind Potential For Addressing 111(d) Goals can be viewed in full here (PDF).
Global Renewables Investment
Increased 17% In 2014
After two years of declines, global investments in renewable energy bounced back strongly last year according to UNEP’s 9th annual Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report.
Prepared by the Frankfurt School, the report states renewables investment registered a 17% increase to USD $270 Billion in 2014.
China led the way with a record $83.3 billion, up 39% from 2013. In second place was the USA with $38.3 billion and Japan was third with $35.7 billion.
Developing nations shone in terms of percentage growth, with $131.3 billion in investments – up 36% on 2013 and greatly closing the gap with developed countries.
Combined, wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power generated an estimated 9.1% of world electricity generation in 2014, compared to 8.5% in 2013.
Solar power saw its second highest investment year ever, increasing 29% to $149.6 billion and 46GW of solar PV was installed – a record. Wind investment increased 11% to a record $99.5 billion and 49GW of wind capacity was added – also a record.
Last year’s 95GW of wind and solar photovoltaic power capacity installation compares to 74GW in 2013, 79GW in 2012 and 70GW in 2011.
Renewable energy technologies excluding large hydro constituted 48% of the net power capacity added globally last year, the third year in a row in which this figure has been above 40% and the first time non-hydro renewables have reached 100GW of installations.
The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report (Key Findings) was commissioned by UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economic (DTIE) in cooperation with Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance and produced in collaboration with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The project will have a total generating capacity of 2.4GW, enough to meet the needs of around two million British households. Once built, it is expected to be one of the UK’s largest sources of electricity, supplying 8 terawatt-hours of green energy per year – or 2.5 per cent of the nation’s energy requirements.
Covering a 500-square kilometre area off the UK coast, Dogger Bank Creyke Beck will consist of 400 fixed-foundation turbines split into two separate wind farms (Creyke Beck A and B), each with a capacity of 1.2GW.
Located in relatively shallow waters 130km east of the established Creyke Beck substation near Cottingham, Yorkshire, the project could be the beginning of a much larger proposed wind development, the Dogger Bank zone, which comprises six sites with an estimated total capacity of up to 7.2GW.
According to the Crown Estate, which owns the rights to the UK seabed and manages offshore wind farm development, the sheer scale of the Dogger Bank Creyke Beck project means it can be built at significantly lower costs, and creates a powerful opportunity for economic growth.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey gave the go-ahead the plans and said the approval of large-scale renewable energy projects was of direct benefit to the UK economy.
“Making the most of Britain’s home grown energy is creating jobs and businesses in the UK, getting the best deal for consumers and reducing our reliance on foreign imports,” he said. “Wind power is vital to this plan, with £14.5 billion (AU$28.5 billion) invested since 2010 into an industry which supports 35,400 jobs.”
Forewind, the international consortium behind Dogger Bank Creyke Beck, spent £60 million (US$92 million) on surveying the vast wind farm site, with the majority of funds going to UK contractors.
Forewind General Manager, Tarald Gjerde, said the project could create up to 4750 new direct and indirect full time jobs on the east coast and generate £1.5 billion (US$2.3 billion) for the British economy.
“Achieving consent for what is currently the world’s largest offshore wind project in development is a major achievement for Forewind and will help confirm the UK’s position as the world leader in the industry,” Mr Gjerde said. “It is testament to the stellar efforts made by the outstanding Forewind team, and to the invaluable support given by a wide range of expert consultants and specialist suppliers.”
Google And Apple
Announce New Renewable Energy Purchases
The two technology giants have announced new major wind and solar power initiatives in the last 24 hours.
Google announced the signing of a long-term agreement to purchase wind energy to offset the electrical consumption of its North Bayshore headquarters.
The power purchase agreement involves the Altamont Pass Wind Farm. One of the earliest wind farms in the United States, the facility is currently being upgraded; with many of the smaller wind turbines being replaced with larger, quieter and more bird-friendly units.
“Once the installation is complete, and the 370 legacy turbines are replaced, it will take just 24 new ones to generate as much power as our campus uses in a year,” said David Radcliffe, VP, Real Estate and Workplace Services at Google.
While Google has made significant inroads in terms of clean power purchase agreements for its data centers, this agreement is the first of its kind in relation to its offices.
Google also recently announced it had partnered with Norwegian power company Scatec Solar to construct the largest solar farm in Utah.
Apple also created a major stir yesterday when it announced it was committing USD $848 million for electricity from the upcoming California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County, California. Apple’s slice of the facility will be 130 MW capacity and it will receive electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).
Apple has set a goal of powering all its corporate offices, retail stores and data centres entirely by renewable energy. By the end of 2013, it had already switched 86 per cent of its corporate campuses and 100 per cent of its data centres to renewables and last year more than 120 US retail stores were powered by renewable energy.
Construction of the California Flats Solar Project starts in the middle of this year and is expected be completed by the end of 2016. Apple’s share of the output will be enough to power Apple’s new California campus, all its offices and the 52 stores it has in the state, plus its data center in Newark.
Commenting on the latest initiative, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly said the company entered into the agreement “because it’s right to do.”
Global Divestment Day(s) On February 13/14
The fossil fuel divestment movement has rapidly grown over the last couple of years – and this year will see a special event dedicated to raising awareness.
By December last year, 181 institutions and local governments around the world plus thousands of individuals collectively representing over USD $50 billion in assets had pledged to divest from fossil fuels.
Just last week, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund announced it had divested from a total of 22 companies, potentially totaling billions of dollars in assets. It’s a fitting move considering the Fund’s coffers have been filled with money from oil and gas; so much money in fact that every Norwegian is in theory a millionaire. Some say it’s a shame successive Australian Governments haven’t taken a leaf out of Norway’s books.
Global Divestment Day events will urge individuals and organizations to dump stocks, bonds, or investment funds as a clear signal to the fossil fuel industry for its culpability in the climate crisis.
Superannuation funds are a major point of concern, with over half of the world’s superannuation invested in high carbon industries. An option for American workers is choosing a fossil fuel free superannuation fund; such as the recently launched Future Super.
“The fossil fuel industry has our political process in shackles with its financial might,” says Go Fossil Free; the co-ordinating website of Global Divestment Day.
“Through divestment, we are directly challenging the social license of these corporations who have become rogue entities seeking profits at the expense of people and planet.”
Solar A Better Investment Than The Stock Market
In 46 of America’s 50 largest cities, a fully financed average sized solar power system is a better investment than the stock market.
The first part of the Going Solar in America report (PDF), released last week by N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, states rooftop solar is already cheaper than power company rates in 42 of the 50 cities – and the number will only increase as solar prices continue to fall.
It’s estimated 9.1 million American households live in a city where solar electricity costs less than power from the mains grid under an outright purchase scenario. Nearly 21 million single-family homeowners also do if low cost financing is available.
For example, in New York, San Diego, Boston, Washington DC, D/FW Metroplex, the Bay Area, Fresno and Colorado Springs, a 100% financed (5% interest) solar power system will provide electricity at 7+ ¢/kWh (USD) less than mains supplied power.
American households also have another option that has become increasingly popular – renting/leasing a system. It’s estimated more than 65% of residential solar installations in the USA are solar lease products.
That solar is such a good investment isn’t news to many Americans who have made the switch and are now saving big on power bills.
As is becoming increasingly the case in the USA, a good place to invest some cash may be right above our heads – in the potential of rooftop real estate.
Google Growing it's Investments in Renewables
Google and Norwegian power company Scatec Solar have partnered to construct the largest solar farm in Utah.
Yahoo Finance reports Google, Scatec and Prudential Capital Group announced an investment of USD $188 million to build the 80 MW facility in Iron County, Utah. Google is the tax equity investor in the deal.
The Utah Red Hills Renewable Energy Park is expected to generate approximately 210 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to power around 18,500 homes. Electricity generated at the solar farm will be exported to the grid under a twenty-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with PacifiCorp’s Rocky Mountain Power.
Scatec says it will deploy approximately 325,000 solar panels on a single-axis tracking system for the project and the facility will interconnect to an existing transmission line.
“When complete, the Red Hills solar plant will be Scatec Solar’s largest developed and constructed project in North America,” says CEO Raymond Carlsen.
Figures from Scatec Solar indicate the company has 219MW of solar capacity currently operational throughout the world, a project backlog of 214MW and a pipeline of 680MW.
Electricity produced by Scatec constructed projects was an estimated 73,736 MWh in the third quarter last year.
The Utah Red Hills Renewable Energy Park is Google’s 18th renewable energy investment.
In September last year, Google announced it would be providing USD $145 million in equity financing for SunEdison, Inc.’s (NYSE: SUNE) Regulus solar plant
Other Google-backed projects include.
Mount Signal Solar project
Makani Airborne Wind Turbine
Alta Wind Energy Center
a solar farm in Germany
Atlantic Wind Connection
a 114 megawatt wind farm in Iowa
a USD$280 million fund to finance residential solar power installations.
$75 million in Clean Power Finance
Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon
Two wind farms in North Dakota
$94 million in a portfolio of four solar farms in California
Jasper Power Project
Google has so far made agreements to fund over $1.5 billion in renewable energy projects and states total nameplate capacity of all it renewable energy project investments is over 2.5 GW. Combined, the projects are expected to generate over 6 billion kWh annually
“We’re helping create a clean energy future that’s better for our business and the environment,” says the company.
The giant of search is currently using renewable energy to power 35% of its operations and is continuing to look for ways to increase its use of clean energy.
PNM’s Continue to INVEST in
Renewable Energy Push
New Mexico's largest electricity provider has just significantly increased it's investments in its renewables portfolio - with more to come.
PNM serves more than 500,000 residential and business customers in New Mexico. As of the beginning of January, the company is purchasing the entire output of the 102-megawatt Red Mesa Wind Energy Center, located about 80 kilometres west of Albuquerque.
Constructed and operated by NextEra Energy Resources, the wind farm consists of 64 1.6-megawatt GE turbines that generate enough electricity to supply the needs of 29,000 average households.
It’s not PNM’s first effort in sourcing renewable energy – the company has been somewhat of a pioneer on that front. Since 2003, PNM has purchased all the output of the New Mexico Wind Energy Center; a wind farm of 136 turbines with a collective capacity of 200 megawatts.
PNM’s pursuit of renewables won’t end with the Red Mesa project.
“By 2016, each year PNM’s wind, solar and geothermal resources will produce the energy used by 150,000 average residential customers, save approximately 382 million gallons of water at power plants and reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 201,000 cars off the road,” says the company.
PNM began incorporating utility-scale solar in 2011, when it added 22 megawatts of capacity.
For 2015, PNM is planning to have four new solar farms with a total capacity of 40 megawatts constructed. By the end of this year, it expects to have 67 MW of solar power capacity in operation. The company has also set a goal of 107 MW of solar in operation across 15 sites by the end of 2016.
And it doesn’t end there. PNM says new capacity will also be required in 2017 when two of the four coal-fired units at San Juan Generating Station are expected to be close – and solar will help bridge the gap.
“PNM analysis consistently showed that out of thousands of potential choices the most cost-effective and least carbon-intensive replacement mix includes natural gas, nuclear and 40 megawatts of new solar. This is the first time PNM’s analysis has identified solar as a cost-effective resource without respect to renewable portfolio requirements.”
According to DSIRE, a database of renewables incentives run by North Caroline State University, investor-owned utilities in New Mexico are required to generate 20% of total retail sales from renewable energy resources by 2020. From this year through to 2019, 15% of total retail sales must come from renewables.
PNM has also been a leader in utility scale battery energy storage. It says its Prosperity Energy Storage Project is one of the largest combinations of grid connected battery storage and photovoltaics in the nation.
a Smart New Year's Resolution
This past November while we were covering the 2014 ISSP Conference in Denver, Colorado we heard numerous leaders speak about the tremendous business opportunities that exists as we head towards a more sustainable society. We recently came across an article by Lisa Woll is CEO of US SIF, the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment where she writes about the potential that exists in this $7 trillion market and things we should keep in mind. So take a look at what Lisa has to say, and hopefully you'll make a resolution to invest sustainably for 2015, and for many years to come.
Are your clients interested in sustainable, responsible and impact investing strategies?
There is a good chance they are, or will be in the near future, based on recent survey results in the US SIF Foundation's Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends 2014. The survey reveals that nearly 18% of professionally managed assets in the United States are held by individuals, institutions or money managers who consider environmental, social and governance issues in selecting their portfolios, or who file shareholder resolutions on these issues at publicly traded companies.
There is a good chance they are, or will be in the near future, based on recent survey results in the US SIF Foundation's Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends 2014. The survey reveals that nearly 18% of professionally managed assets in the United States are held by individuals, institutions or money managers who consider environmental, social and governance issues in selecting their portfolios, or who file shareholder resolutions on these issues at publicly traded companies.
Through these practices, they seek to achieve long-term competitive financial returns and positive social impact. The assets engaged in these strategies have grown impressively in the past two years, increasing 76% to $6.57 trillion and comprising more than one out of every six dollars under professional management in the U.S.
This nearly $7 trillion market cuts across an array of asset classes, including public equities and fixed income as well as in community development finance and in alternative investments. For example, private equity and other alternative investments considering environmental, social and governance criteria have grown 70% to $224 billion in 2014 from $132 billion two years ago. Community banks, credit unions and loan funds serving low and moderate income communities are also key areas where responsible investors have placed assets.
Climate change is the most significant environmental factor that money managers consider — the assets assessed through a climate lens have doubled since 2012. Although the international and domestic policy environment for climate action has been uncertain, investors have used their financial power to allocate capital to clean energy producers and to businesses with low carbon strategies. “Green bonds” or “climate bonds” have also proliferated in recent years to meet the increasing demand for climate-friendly investment options. Additionally, some investors, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Stanford University, announced plans in 2014 to divest from a fossil fuel or all fossil fuels.
Human rights issues, such as restrictions on investing in companies in Sudan, and a range of governance issues, such as executive pay, have been included in the decision making of sustainable investors. A relatively new focus are policies restricting investments in weapons manufacturers, following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Gender-lens investment is emerging as firms create products that focus on companies that help women advance and on organizations that assist women and their families living in poverty or in under-served communities.
There is no sign that interest in sustainable investing strategies will subside. The leading reasons cited by money managers for why they offered SRI products was client demand. In fact, as millennials accumulate wealth through inheritances or career advancement, they are likely to seek financial advisers that are familiar with the sustainable investing space and investment options that match their values.
A survey of high net worth millennials by U.S. Trust: Bank of America Private Wealth Management, for example, found that 69% believe that the social, environmental and political impact of investing is somewhat or extremely important, and that 31% have reviewed their investment portfolio for such impacts.
A robust ecosystem exists for investors committed to addressing serious issues, from the retail investor who contributes to a mutual fund that selects companies with strong environmental profiles to accredited investors aiming to assist low income communities through a range of investment strategies. In this environment, financial advisers gain when they can provide counsel and resources that address the environmental, social and governance concerns of current and potential clients.
Advisers can also use the year end charitable giving process to discuss sustainable and impact investing with their clients.
As 2014 draws to a close, many individuals and institutions such as foundations are in the process of allocating their charitable and philanthropic dollars to support issues like clean water, human rights and diversity. Yet most of them will leave their investment assets out of this “impact” equation, providing them with one less strategy through which to advance important issues.
By educating themselves and keeping abreast of these trends and areas of client concern, advisers engaged in responsible investment can both attract new clients and strengthen existing client relationships. If you have yet to explore this space, perhaps an additional new year's resolution is in order. MORE
US Solar Capacity Reached 17.5GW In Q3
The USA installed 1,354 megawatts of solar PV in Q3 2014, up 41 percent on the same period last year.
“Every three minutes of every single day, the U.S. solar industry is flipping the switch on another completed solar project, benefiting both our economy and the environment,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO.
SEIA estimates solar installations will reach 6.5 GW this year, up 36% over 2013 and more than triple the market size of just three years ago.
The nation’s home solar sector is booming. More than 300 MW of residential PV was activated during Q3 and over half of that was brought online on-line without any state incentive. Q3 residential solar power installations were up 13% over Q2 2014 and up 58% over Q3 2013.
Third-party-owned (TPO) residential PV systems continue to drive anywhere from 67% (New York) to 92% (New Jersey) of residential installations in state markets where solar leasing and PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) options are available.
The model used for the report indicates weighted national residential system costs at USD $3.60/Wdc in Q3, representing a 3.8% decrease quarter-over-quarter.
“By the end of this year there will be more than 600,000 homes outfitted with solar, and we see no signs of a slowdown next year,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research. “By 2017, we expect the residential sector to be the largest in the U.S. solar market.”
The US utility-scale market is also thriving; with 825 MW installed in Q3 2014, up from 540 MW in Q3 last year.
At the end of Q3, 578,000 individual solar installations were operating in the USA. 36% of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. to the end of September 2014 came from solar.
Solar PV capacity had reached 16.1 gigawatts (GW) by the close of the third quarter, with another 1.4 GW of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity.
According to a new report from the Environment America Research Policy Institute, solar capacity is growing so fast in the United States that the nation could potentially generate 10 per cent of its electricity with solar power by 2030.
In the past three years, solar electricity – defined as distributed PV, rooftop and utility-scale PV and CSP systems – in the U.S. increased by 77 per cent. Over half of this growth occurred in the first half of 2014.
Even if this pace were curbed to just 22 per cent growth year on year, researchers found America would be on track to produce 10 per cent of its energy from solar in under two decades.
Solar is currently the fastest growing industry in the U.S., adding 143,000 jobs in 2013 and attracting $15 billion in private and public investment.
As solar technology improves and installation costs continue to fall, the report estimates the USA could produce 100 times more electricity than it consumes using solar and install solar energy systems on 35 million commercial and residential rooftops.
“We can get to 10 per cent solar by 2030 if we just keep our foot on the accelerator,” said Rob Sargent, Energy Program Director for Environment America and co-author of the report. “That’s a small fraction of what’s possible, but it will make a big difference in the quality of our lives and our children’s future.”
Reaching the 10 per cent goal would deliver half the emissions savings required under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Act and result in a reduction in America’s carbon pollution by 280 million metric tons in 2030 – the equivalent of taking 59 million cars off the road.
“When it comes to solar energy, the sky’s the limit,” said Sargent. “Getting to 10 per cent solar is the just the first step to a future powered entirely by pollution-free energy.”
SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE: SUNE) has announced a joint venture agreement with JIC Capital that will result in the development of up to 1 GW of utility-scale solar PV projects in China over the next 3 years.
The joint venture will involve coordinating nonrecourse financing for the solar farms and SunEdison may directly or indirectly purchase the facilities at fair market value.
“This historic joint venture is a great step forward for SunEdison,” said Ahmad Chatila, President and CEO of SunEdison. “It is a great honor to partner with a leader like JIC Capital, and we are committed to harnessing our world leading technology and deployment capabilities to deliver clean, cost effective solar energy to the people of China.”
Construction is expected to start early next year.
Operation and maintenance of the solar power stations will be handled by the SunEdison Renewable Operation Center (ROC).
SunEdison’s ROC recently passed an important milestone – 3 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity globally. ROC operations are managed from Belmont (California), Chennai (India) and Madrid (Spain).
SunEdison Global Services uses high-tech monitoring hardware and software tools to remotely detect issues in system performance and to determine appropriate action. While many issues can be resolved remotely, 190 technicians located on 6 continents are available to travel to facilities to provide on-site expertise.
“We take the responsibility of ensuring plant performance and revenue management very seriously and are honored that so many customers choose to work with us,” said Mark McLanahan, president, Global Services, SunEdison.
In other recent SunEdison news, President and CEO Ahmad Chatila has received the Global New Energy Business Leader award from the China Institute of Energy Economics and China Energy News.
Mr. Chatila transformed SunEdison from a semiconductor manufacturer to a global leader in the solar sector.
“I’m honored to receive this award on behalf of all of the employees of SunEdison,” said Mr. Chatila. “It is their dedication and innovation that has created our success and that inspires me every day.”
Withdraw a Total of $50bn From Fossil Fuels
Peter O’Neill, head of the Rockefeller family and great-great-grandson of John D Rockefeller, along with Neva Rockefeller Goodwin and Stephen B Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, made a landmark announcement that we hope sets an example for others to follow.
The heirs to the fabled Rockefeller oil fortune withdrew their funds from fossil fuel investments last Monday (9/22/14), lending a symbolic boost to a $50bn divestment campaign ahead of a United Nations summit on climate change.
The former vice-president, Al Gore, presented divestment commitments to world leaders, making the case that investments in oil and coal have an uncertain future.
With Monday’s announcement, more than 800 global investors – including foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers, religious groups, healthcare organisations, cities and universities – have pledged to withdraw a total of $50bn from fossil fuel investments over the next five years.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund controls about $860m in assets, said Beth Dorsey, the chief executive of the Wallace Global Fund and the Divest-Invest movement, which has led the divestment campaign. About 7% are invested in fossil fuels.
But the Rockefellers’ decision to cut their ties with oil lends the divestment campaign huge symbolic importance because of their family history. The divestment move also helps bring a campaign launched by scrappy activists on college campuses into the financial mainstream.
But for oil, there may not have been a Rockefeller fortune. John and William Rockefeller were the co-founders of the Standard Oil Company, which at the time operated the world’s biggest refineries, and overtime spawned Exxon, Amoco and Chevron.
Now, after a year of deliberations, the descendants of those original Rockefellers had decided the time had come to move away from oil.
“John D Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, moved America out of whale oil and into petroleum,” Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, said in a statement. “We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy.”
In addition to the Rockefellers, the World Council of Churches, which represents some 590 million people in 150 countries – also pulled its investments from fossil fuels on Monday. The move represented a turning point for a movement which began by demanding that universities purge their financial holdings of ties to the fossil fuel industry.
About 30 cities have also chosen to divest, including Santa Monica and Seattle.
“When you have the Rockefellers and the World Council of Churches and institutions with global reach coming together and divesting, then this movement which began just three short years ago has really reached a significant turning point,” Dorsey said.
In that time, supporters such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu have framed divestment from fossil fuels as a moral imperative – like the anti-apartheid movement of a generation ago.
“Climate change is the human rights challenge of our time. We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow, for there will be no tomorrow,” Tutu said in a video address.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund over the years has been a big supporter of environmental causes, including to campaign groups opposed to fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline, which made for an awkward fit at times with its continued investment in oil and gas. The family plans to first divest from tar sands commitments.
A number of universities have also started to cut their ties with fossil fuel – with Stanford University dropping coal holdings from its $18bn endowment.
But divestment remains a hard sell. The University of California system said last week it would continue to hold on to fossil fuels. Harvard University has also resisted pressure from faculty and students to divest – although Yale has said it will look into whether renewable energy offers a better bet in the long run.
“In the last great divestment campaign, Harvard said no before it said yes. I think it’s just a matter of time,” Dorsey said. “Unlike with the anti-apartheid movement, this is not just an ethical issue. There is a powerful financial reason as well.”
$5 Billion For Energy In Africa
The World Bank Group has committed $5 billion for energy projects in six African countries as part of US President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative.
The six beneficiary countries - Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania - will receive support in the way of direct financing, investment guarantees and advisory services. "We think that the U.S. Power Africa initiative will play an extremely important role in achieving the goal of providing electricity for Africa," said World Bank Group President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim.
"The U.S. Government and the World Bank Group are working now on specific tasks and milestones which could help to achieve one quarter of Power Africa's goal of generating 10,000 megawatts of new power in Sub Saharan Africa."
Africa has some of the world’s most significant hydropower, geothermal, wind and solar potential, as well as oil and natural gas reserves; yet 600 million Africans have no access to electricity - one in three people. The lack of reliable electricity also impacts on 10 million small and medium-sized businesses.
In addition to building the plants to take advantage of these resources, regional cooperation is required to build the electricity transmission network
"We are working with African leaders and their development partners to create power pools in Africa’s East, West, Central, and Southern sub-regions," said the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop
"Those countries with abundant geothermal, gas, hydro, solar, and wind resources can feed their excess power supply into a common pool, while neighboring states with less energy and generation capacity can benefit from this integrated approach to delivering electricity to their people".
Solar power is already making a positive impact in Africa. For example, in Mauritania, solar now provides 30 percent of the capital city's (Nouakchott's) needs; a level that should reach 50% in the next few years. A 30-MW wind farm is also in the pipeline that will bring Mauritania's renewable energy share to 45% of the country's total energy demand; including hydro.
Even on a micro scale, solar is changing lives in Africa; with millions benefiting from affordable solar lights.
Earlier this year, the European Commission announced 16 energy projects that will receive more than AUD $139 million in funding to help bring clean power to rural Africa.
Well, Mr. Olson, keep leading the way so that the dinosaurs may be forced to follow.
Samsung Becoming The "Go-To" Company For Energy Storage
When most people hear Samsung, they think televisions. Well, you might want to start to rethink that your idea of Samsung to include "energy storage products."
South Korea's Samsung SDI is to supply 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of its lithium batteries to a solar farm project in Japan.
According to an item on GlobalPost, The facility will be constructed early next year by Japan's Edison Power in Kagoshima Prefecture. Samsung's batteries will be provided at a cost of USD $971 per kilowatt-hour capacity.
In other recent news from Samsung SDI, the company recently announced its partnership with BMW Group to supply lithium batteries will be expanded. Samsung SDI will supply the BMW Group with battery cells for the BMW i3, BMW i8 and other hybrid models.
The BMW i8 was launched in June and demand for the vehicle is already significantly higher than the planned production volume for the ramp-up phase. The i8 is being marketed as a sports car with the fuel consumption and emission values of a compact car.
Samsung SDI's energy storage business has been growing in leaps and bounds in recent years. The company manufactures lithium ion batteries for everything from hand-held power tools to notebook computers and electric cars, plus energy storage systems for residential right through to utility applications.
Samsung also sees continued growth for their SDI All-In-One, a home energy storage system combining a solar/battery inverter and a lithium-ion battery offering 3.6 kilowatt hours capacity.
Samsung SDI All In One and AUO's recently launched PowerLegato range, offering capacity of up to 7.2 kilowatt hours, mark the arrival of more affordable quality home energy storage solutions for the residential marketplace.
Home energy storage is in the early stages of a boom elsewhere, particularly Germany; where uptake is expected to grow from 6,000 units last year to an estimated 100,000 units in 2018.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) expects USD $7.7 trillion to be invested in new electricity generation capacity by 2030, with 66% of that amount going towards renewable technologies.
The 2030 Market Outlook, BNEF’s long term view of the power sector to 2030, predicts out of the $5.1 trillion to be spent on renewables, Asia-Pacific will account for $2.5 trillion.
"The period to 2030 is going to see spectacular growth in solar in this region, with nearly 800 gigawatts of rooftop and utility-scale PV added," says Milo Sjardin, BNEF’s head of Asia Pacific.
"This will be driven by economics, not subsidies, as our analysis suggests that solar will be fully competitive with other power sources by 2020."
Of the 1,733GW of renewables added by that year in the Asia-Pacific region, 46% is expected to be solar PV and 29% wind. PV will be split almost equally between rooftop and utility-scale capacity. To achieve this level, PV will require $63bn of investment annually and wind $39bn a year on average – 7% and 11% more than their 2013 investments respectively says BNEF.
"By 2030 we anticipate that 47% of installed power capacity and 33% of electricity generated will be from renewable sources."
In addition to the Asia-Pacific's renewables splurge, the Americas will invest $816 billion, Europe $967 billion and the Middle East and Africa will invest another $818 billion.
BNEF expects wind energy and solar power solar to increase their combined share of global generation to 16 percent in 2030 - a big jump from the 3 percent last year.
Published annually, the Market Outlook sources the expertise of over 65 technology and country-level experts from 11 Bloomberg New Energy Finance offices worldwide and takes nine months to complete.
A new design of wind turbine that its makers claim has practically no resistance and is whisper quiet, the Liam F1 borrows from nature.
Created by Netherlands company, the Archimedes, the Liam F1 was officially launched today at the RDM Campus in Rotterdam.
Drawing on the form of the Nautilus shell and the mathematics of ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer Archimedes, the company says the turbine will generate on average 1180 to 1500 kWh of electricity annually at an average wind-speed of 5m/s (18 kilometres per hour). It has a cut-in wind speed of 2m/s (7.2 kilometres per hour).
The unit, which measures 1.50 meters in length x 1.50 meters in width x 2.00 meters in height, weighs 75 kilograms and can be mounted on a rooftop.
The Archimedes' team appears supremely confident in their creation; which they say is the result of ten years of research and development.
"This compact wind turbine, with a diameter of only five feet, will cause a revolution in the world of generating electrical power and resistance theories," states the company.
"An additional environmental advantage to the customer: the Liam F1 is virtually silent, easily fits on the roof of a house just as solar panels but does not have the disadvantages of conventional wind turbines."
A press release from the company states because of its screw-design, the Liam will automatically position itself optimally, "just like a pennant" and will therefore produce maximum energy yield.
The Archimedes says it has already sold 7,000 turbines in 14 countries prior to the official launch and is now developing smaller units that can be used in applications such as boating.
Cost of the turbine is (estimated) $5,900.
Archimedes is company a company to be on the look out for when trying to add to your investment portfolio of clean energy.
SkyLock, A Solar Powered Security System For Bikes
The SkyLock intelligent bike locking system is creating a huge amount of buzz with bike owners around the world.
With bicycles these days sometimes worth thousands of dollars; theft is becoming an increasing problem. In the USA, approximately 1.5 million bikes are reported stolen each year.
All sorts of locking systems are available, but SkyLock is a system with some very interesting differences.
Through Bluetooth technology, Skylock offers 'keyless entry' by connecting to a bike owner's phone. Skylock senses the owner's approach and automatically unlocks - or it can be unlocked by tapping a button on the lock's phone app.
Skylock contains a lithium battery that is recharged by small solar cells embedded in the lock barrel casing. The makers state an hour of sunlight will provide enough power for a week. In the unlikely event of the battery going flat, the device can be unlocked by entering a combination on the capacitive touch buttons.
The battery has an expected life of around 6 years with normal use. If the lock is stored where there is no sunlight and assuming the battery is fully charged; it will take around 250 days to fully discharge
Skylock also has some other novel features. Through the use of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth; it can notify the owner if their bike is disturbed. It can even notify preferred contacts if the owner is involved in an accident. If there isn't an open Wi-Fi network available, an "electronic leash" can be created with Bluetooth.
The device can also be used for creating bike-sharing programs. Users can arrange to loan their bike to anyone in a trusted network or the Skylock community while keeping track of it via the app.
The price of the device is currently USD $159; which compares favourably with other high-end locking devices. Pre-ordering is available; but SkyLocks won't be shipped until early next year.
While some might think wind turbines are 'utterly offensive' and a 'blight on the landscape', the USA is scaling up its wind power forays.
The US Department of Energy has announced the deployment of three new offshore wind facilities.
The three projects, located in federal and state waters off the coast of New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia will each receive $47 million in government assistance and will operate as test sites for the latest in innovative, grid-connected wind energy systems.
The projects are part of the Obama Administration’s National Offshore Wind Strategy, which aims to develop a sustainable, profitable wind power industry through public-private partnerships.
"Offshore wind offers a large, untapped energy resource for the United States that can create thousands of manufacturing, construction and supply chain jobs across the country and drive billions of dollars in local economic investment,"said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. "The Energy Department is working with public and private partners to harness this untapped resource in a sustainable and economic manner."
All three of the selected projects will use the latest in direct-drive (DD) wind turbine technology from different turbine manufacturers. Direct-drive turbines contain fewer moving parts than their standard-gear cousins and are therefore easier and cheaper to build and maintain. They are massive, with each turbine blade running the length of a football field.
Two of the projects; Fishermen’s Energy, approximately seven-kilometres off the coast of Atlantic City, NJ; and Dominion Virginia Power, around 60-km off the coast of Virginia Beach, are located in shallow water and will be anchored to the seabed using a newly patented "twisted jacket foundation", where three "legs" are twisted around a central column.
According to the DoE. these structures are easier to install than traditional foundations, helping drive down the cost of energy from offshore wind.
In the deep waters of the U.S. West Coast - where more than 60-percent of America’s offshore wind resources are located - Oregon’s Principle Power will use the pioneering WindFloat semi-submersible floating foundation; designed to operate in waters over 300-metres in depth.
GE wind turbine supports Europe's EDF EN
GE has signed a framework agreement with EDF to provide support services for the converters in the French company’s wind farms across Europe.
The deal will allow EDF Energies Nouvelles subsidiary EDF EN Services to decrease turbine downtime and maximise energy production at sites as staff “acquire the skills necessary to maintain and troubleshoot converters with support from GE engineers,” the US giant said in a statement.
The services offered by GE under the framework agreement include remote service with hotline support, a short departure guarantee for on-site repairs, strategic spare parts and obsolescence management, single contract/single entry point, personnel training (including levels and certification) and contract management. The agreement currently involves several wind farms in Europe. “Wind turbine converters are complex pieces of technology that are critical to the efficient transmission of energy produced to the grid and maintaining them has traditionally been very costly,” said services commercial leader for the GE Power Conversion business John Chatwin.
“Our aim is to provide customers with the tools and information they need to reduce their operation costs by empowering them to undertake fault remediation internally.”
The service contract will enable the staff of EDF EN Services, EDF Energies Nouvelles' unit dedicated to the operation and maintenance in Europe, to buy the skills necessary to maintain and troubleshoot converters with support from GE engineers over the phone — or on-site for complex problems.
Google Buying Solar Powered Drone Maker
It seems Google is acquiring Titan Aerospace, "Lock, stock and barrel."
The news is generating a great deal of buzz today; particularly given it was rumoured Facebook would be the company to invest in or acquire Titan Aerospace.
Both Facebook and Google have projects relating to extending Internet access to billions of people around the world without connectivity - and both involve solar power. Facebook is part of the Internet.org initiative and Google has Project Loon, which uses balloons decked out with transmission equipment and solar panels.
According to Titan Aerospace CEO Vern Raburn, the acquisition process has been very rapid.
"Google’s buying Titan, lock stock and barrel. We’ll have access to resources we haven’t had before. We’ll grow the airplane, and with Google, we’re dealing with a company that understands risk, engineering, and it’s consistent with things."
The Wall Street Journal reports Google says Titan will work closely with its Project Loon.
WSJ states according to a source, after the talks between Facebook and Titan Aerospace were disclosed; Titan was approached by Google, which said it could "beat whatever price Facebook was offering".
Titan Aerospace's web site no longer showcases its solar powered drone technology, but previously one of the flagship craft the company was promoting was the Solara 50, which is designed to stay aloft for up to 5 years and is capable of carrying a 32kg payload. A single Solara platform is able to provide transmission coverage of over 17,800 square kilometres.
As for Facebook, the company acquired rival drone-maker Ascenta instead. The UK company was involved with the development of the Zephyr, which became the world’s longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft.
In late March, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announced further details of the work Facebook's Connectivity Lab is undertaking with regard to building "drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone."
Asian Solar Inverter Companies Gaining Global Market Share
The inverter supplier top 10 is seeing a rapidly increasing Asian presence.
According to a new analysis from IHS Technology, the number of Asian companies in the top doubled last year, with four from China and Japan.
IHS says the Chinese and Japanese markets combined represented 35 percent of global PV inverter revenue in 2013; growing substantially from just 12 percent in 2011.
Global PV Inverter Supplier Rankings 2013
1. SMA 2. ABB (including Power-One) 3. Omron 4. TMEIC 5. Sungrow 6. Advanced Energy 7. Tabuchi 8. Schneider Electric 9. Enphase Energy 10. Kaco
China-based inverter manufacturer Sungrow shipped over 2 gigawatts of inverters in the final quarter last year; most of which were used in China's domestic market. Sungrow solar inverters are also making their presence felt in Australia; particularly in home solar power installations.
Japanese suppliers Omron, TMEIC and Tabuchi also appeared in the top 10 for 2013; boosted by the rapid uptake of solar power in Japan where installations are estimated to have grown nearly threefold in the last year and representing 17 percent of global demand.
IHS states while local markets for each of the major four Asian suppliers in the top 10 has seen them achieve substantial share in global market revenues, "all have minimal sales outside of their home markets."
Among the industry giants, IHS says Power-One remained the second largest supplier in 2013 and further closed the gap between itself and the global leader, SMA.
"Its acquisition by ABB now also gives it significant financial strength, vast existing international operations and a highly bankable brand name, which will place it well for future success," said Sam Wilkinson, solar research manager at IHS.
SunEdison has inked a deal with S.Korea's Shinsung Solar Energy
US solar giant SunEdison has inked a deal with South Korea's Shinsung Solar Energy, which will supply 660 MW (megawatts) of high efficiency solar cells.
"We've strategically selected partners in multiple geographies to ensure we are utilizing high performance, cost effective solar cells while complying with regional sourcing requirements," said David Ranhoff, President Solar Materials, SunEdison.
"This agreement with Shinsung is another step forward in our ongoing efforts to strengthen our asset-light supply chain while delivering maximum performance and value to our customers."
The solar cells will be made by Shinsung with silicon wafers supplied by SunEdison.
It's again been a busy few weeks for SunEdison.
In other recent news, the company announced a major milestone had been reached - it had shipped over 1 gigawatt of its Silvantis Solar PV modules, making the company one of the top 5 solar module manufacturers in the world.
The company also announced it had sold a majority stake in the SundEdison developed 50MW San Andres project in Chile; the largest merchant solar power plant in Latin America and one of the largest facilities of its type in the world. The solar farm was sold to a group of investors, including EverStream Energy Capital Management LLC and Claro y Asociados.
Last week, the company said it had also sold a portfolio of projects to its yieldco, using a $250 million facility secured from Goldman Sachs. A "yieldco" is a relatively new way to finance renewable energy projects and issue dividends to investors.
Also last week, SunEdison announced a series of transactions expected to accompany its initial public offering (IPO) of the company's semiconductor division, SunEdison Semiconductor Limited (SSL)
Headquartered in Belmont, California, SunEdison has manufacturing plants and 39 offices located throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The company now has close to 2 gigawatts of solar capacity under its management
Nevada Betting Big on The Green Economy
Few things could be less sustainable than an entertainment mecca in the middle of a desert. But there's more to Nevada than the Vegas Strip, and investors in the Silver State are finding better ways of wagering their money than in slot machines.
On Thursday, leaders from both major parties joined forces to tout Nevada's clean technology sector. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) held a press conference to laud the $5.5 billion that has been invested in the industry in the state since 2010.
The figure was calculated by the Clean Energy Project, a Las Vegas–based advocacy group for the renewables sector. The group credits state tax breaks for growing clean energy investment. From its new report:
Due to Nevada’s vast solar, wind, geothermal and biomass resources, the state has excelled at meeting demand in and out of its borders leading to significant clean energy capital investments. As of 2014, Nevada has 480 MW of clean energy developed or being developed to meet its energy demand and 985 MW of clean energy exported to other states.
The cumulative capital investments for both in-state and out-of-state clean energy projects, including transmission lines to move the clean electrons, total $5.5 billion since 2010. Nevada’s Investment of $500 million in tax abatements has attracted $5.5 billion of capital investment in clean energy projects to the state.
World's Largest National Wealth Fund to invest in Renewable Energy
The Government of Norway is to mandate the country’s sovereign fund, the largest in the world, to invest in renewable energy.
The landmark decision was announced by the nation’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg this morning.
“We are thrilled that Norway is stepping forward to lead on renewable energy,” says Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF-Norway. “If done at scale, this will have global impact and redefine how we use money consistent with commitments to limit climate change.
“We have long advocated that the fund invest up to five percent in infrastructure for renewable energy. This will require a change in the guidelines for the fund, similar to the mandate to investing in property that was granted in 2010.
“The pension fund is the largest state investor in the world. A solid renewable energy mandate will send a tremendously powerful signal and set the standard for other international investors.”
Prime Minister Solberg promised that the Government would create a renewable energy investment mandate with the same management requirements as other investments in the fund.
Full details of the investment mandate will be delivered on April 4th by Norway’s Finance Minister
“The mandate should allow for direct investment in renewable infrastructure where a large scale of capital is urgently needed,” says WWF financial analyst, Lars Erik Mangset. “We will be looking to see if the government award a mandate to allow up to 5% of the fund to be invested into renewable energy infrastructure and exactly how they extended the fund to invest in real estate.”
WWF is running a global campaign, Seize Your Power, calling on financial institutions including major sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and multilateral development banks to significantly increase their funding of renewable energy and cut funding to fossil fuels as a key means of tackling climate change.
Det Skjer!, as the campaign is called in Norway, has seen WWF-Norway leading a coalition of thirteen organisations pushing for the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund (Government Pension Fund Global) to invest directly in infrastructure, including renewable energy. A significant push has also been made on the need to divest from highly polluting fossil fuels such as coal and tar-sands.
WWF and partners called for an investment in renewable energy infrastructure last September, which was responded to by the Prime Minister, saying the Government would “consider” such a move.
In the past twelve months, the World Bank, European Investment Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have all committed to virtually end coal investments. Norwegian private pension fund provider Storebrand has also divested from 29 coal and tar sands companies in the past year because of their obvious carbon exposure.
"It is rare that one government alone can bend the curve on climate change. Norway, through its sovereign wealth fund, can,” says Samantha Smith, Leader, WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Initiative. “WWF now looks to Norway's leaders to commit to renewable energy investment at a scale that will make a global difference. This will be their legacy, and we are watching."
Wind Turbine Tower Marketto Reach 19.6 Billion by 2020
New research shows wind power continues to be the global renewable energy source of choice, with the wind turbine towers market expected to increase from $12.1 billion in 2013 to $19.3 billion by 2020, an annual growth rate of 6.9 percent.
According to a new report from research and consulting firm GlobalData, worldwide wind power cumulative capacity is expected to more than double over the next six years from 322.5 Gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to 688 GW in 2020 as nations confront rising fossil fuel prices and increasing environmental concerns.
China installed the most wind turbine towers in 2013, dominating the global market share with 47.4 percent. The USA came in second with 7.5 percent, followed by India and Canada shares of 6.5 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.
A January 9 report from GlobalData showed that in 2012, China and the US installed 23,261 and 20,182 wind turbine rotor blades respectively and together contributed to more than 65% of global installations.
China is forecast to remain the world’s leading consumer of wind turbine technology, and now produces approximately 25 percent of the wind turbine rotor blades.
"The growth of the wind turbine towers market is directly related to that of the wind energy industry, which is heavily influenced by favourable government policy, rising environmental concerns, increasing demand for power, and the uncertain supply and prices of energy from conventional sources," said Harshavardhan Reddy Nagatham, GlobalData’s Analyst covering Alternative Energy.
But the report, Wind Turbine Towers, Update 2014 – Global Market Size, Average Price, Competitive Landscape and Key Country Analysis to 2020, warns more needs to be done to improve aged energy grid infrastructures to enable wind sector growth in the medium term.
Nagatham said: "The existing grid infrastructure is very poor and urgent modifications need to be made in order to accommodate the specific characteristics of wind power. Its upgrade also requires a substantial amount of investment in terms of financial resources and time."
New Report from the Clean Energy States Alliance Details Potential Markets for Renewable Energy Generators
Montpelier, VT — The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) released a new report titled Potential RPS Markets for Renewable Energy Generators. The report, written by Ed Holt of Ed Holt & Associates, provides information regarding where a renewable energy generator in a particular state or Canadian province can possibly sell its renewable energy certificates in order to meet the demand created by a renewable portfolio standard (RPS).
The report, which was made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Energy Foundation and is a product of CESA’s State-Federal RPS Collaborative, contains data that has never been previously compiled for the entire country. A user-friendly component has been added to this report in the form of an interactive online map, where users can select a state or province and see a list of potential RPS markets.
“This will be a valuable resource for project developers, state RPS administrators, and other people interested in renewable energy markets,” noted CESA Executive Director Warren Leon.
The full report and the interactive map are available for free on CESA’s website:
Alternative Energy Financing By Mike Sokoll, Founding Member, REI
When I first got started financing alternative energy projects in 2006 I found that commercial projects were getting funded through investor/equity sources of capital. The last two to three years I’ve seen a shift to debtor financing. This article will help you prepare to approach lenders and provide steps to protect yourself.
Let me give you one major warning.
When approaching a debt funder you can expect the following questions; 1. why are you doing the project, 2. what or how does the project enhance your present business and 3. can you afford the payment on the full amount of the project. Understand the impact of the tax benefits and incentives. Regardless of the size of the project: My warning; beware of products sold with tax benefits as the main part of the payback. Would you accept tax benefits for payment in your present business?
How will a project get funded?
Before approaching the debt funder answer the three questions above. Alternative energy products are seen as equipment or systems by lenders. To the funding source it all sounds the same; the system makes electricity, hot water, chilled water, bio-fuel or some other energy that you can logically use in your business. Lenders will normally want to see a full financial package for the project unless it is under $150k, generally. They want to see if you can meet the 4 word phrase, “present ability to pay,” it’s generally not more than that. To protect yourself and the lender from the energy system underperforming you can buy insurance, but that is not going to override the 4 word phrase. These insurance products can protect you and the lender, because you won’t want to pay if the system is under performing. Lenders don’t care if it’s not working because that will not be part of the terms of the loan or lease.
Projects that involve both debt and equity are generally large utility size deals, multi-megawatts, municipal or county deals. The new developer needs at least 10% of their own equity in the deal so as not to lose control, meaning the equity people will want 60% to 90% of a deal if you only have the property, vendors and money along with your very professional Business Plan. If you have 10% or more of real cash or land ownership then you may get equity funders to listen. Do not offer “sweat equity” and no cash. No one will listen or they will try to steal your project.
If you are doing a project at your existing business.
Hire an energy consultant with a track record and references. A consultant will serve as your advocate and be central to integrating a new energy system into your existing operation. The energy consultant will help you determine the best type of systems for you to consider and then screen the companies who will present to you. He or she should know which metrics to use when evaluating a system that’s best suited for your needs.
Treat this like you’re getting a new business, because you are, the energy business.
When considering an investment in an alternative energy system do your research. Talk to vendors, other users of the technology, professional advisors and government energy officials. If you end up installing the technology you’ll have a system that generates revenues and has operating costs. Kind of like a business.
Mike Sokoll is a representative of AllState Capital. Allstate provides traditional debt financing and a variety of leasing products for the alternative energy and other fields. He is also a founding member and current Director of RENEW Energy Initiative (www.reiteam.org,) an education driven energy association serving southeastern New England.
A Bet on the Environment and Our Future
Just after his sophomore year at Yale in 2002, Billy Parish stood before a rapidly retreating glacier in India that feeds the Ganges River, convinced that he had come face to face with climate change and that he had to do something about it.
It did not take long. Back in the United States, he started a youth coalition that, within a few years, had mobilized thousands of people with similar environmental concerns. He never made it to his junior year at Yale.
In the years since, Mr. Parish has come to another conclusion: that capitalism is a powerful force that can be harnessed to combat global warming. Now 31, he is well into making that his next mission, building an online solar energy investment platform that could turn ordinary Americans into mini-financiers.
Called Mosaic, the company functions like a virtual renewable energy bank, soliciting investments for solar projects and making loans to be paid back, typically, over about 10 years. Mosaic collects a fee on every loan. It is similar to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, a Web site that matches creative ventures with financial supporters. In the case of Mosaic, with a minimum of $25, investors can earn a return.
“Our goal is to build the No. 1 investment platform for clean energy,” Mr. Parish said. Mosaic, he added, allows investors “to not just be passive consumers but to be creators, to be owners, to collaborate to make things happen.”
The company is still in its infancy. About 2,000 clients in 44 states have put in more than $4 million in project financing since it began soliciting money in January, and it is open nationwide to accredited investors — a category that includes certain institutions and high-net-worth individuals — and, so far, to the general public in New York and California.
Whether Mosaic can execute its vision is an open question. But it is poised to grow, with deals in the works that would allow investors to use money from retirement accounts like 401(k)’s and I.R.A.’s.
That, along with new financial regulations that permit broader marketing of investment projects, promises to vastly expand the potential sources of money for solar projects as well as other types of renewable energy the company plans to develop.
Although it is among the first crowdfunding platforms to focus on energy, Mosaic borrowed inspiration from earlier online ventures that gave consumers more direct access to products and services. Financing clean-tech projects and start-up companies is ripe for such an approach, adherents say, because only a small coterie of investors has been able to participate, making financing harder to obtain and more expensive. “All these platforms are called marketplaces because they bring populations together, whether it be males and females on Match.com or banks and borrowers on Lending Tree,” said Judd Hollas, the founder of EquityNet, which allows direct investment in start-up companies as a sort of venture capital platform for the masses. “It was logical to assume that the same thing could happen and should happen in private equity.”
Mosaic’s approach is seen by many as bringing together small-scale solar projects, which are by nature decentralized, and a younger generation that is comfortable with technology.
“At a time of social networking and the peer-to-peer experiences of media, of music making, of all these industries, capturing that capability — that distributed, decentralized phenomenon — and applying it to financing an energy source that is also built around a distributed architecture is a very big play,” said Danny Kennedy, a founder of the solar development company Sungevity and a member of Mosaic’s board. “That’s why the crowd makes sense. This is a distributed future.”
At the same time, many Americans have been showing an increasing interest in aligning their money with their social or political leanings, especially younger investors. Almost half of millennial-generation investors worth more than $1 million screen their investments for social values as well as value, according to a recent survey by the Spectrem Group, an investor research organization. “If I had a mutual fund sitting alongside an investment through Mosaic,” said Stan Hazelroth, a former executive director of the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, “even if it was maybe a notch lower return, I’d still take the Mosaic investment because I’m such a firm believer in the future of renewable energy.”
The seeds of Mr. Parish’s evolution toward combining environmental issues with profit were planted early. A child of two liberal-leaning lawyers who fell in love working on a securitization deal — his father specialized in financing for electric utilities — he grew up comfortably in Manhattan, near Central Park and the Museum of Natural History.
During high school, he spent a semester at the Mountain School in Vermont, where his concern for “what was happening on a planetary scale” crystallized; at Yale, he designed his own major in sustainable economic development, and then took a leave that became permanent to build the Energy Action Coalition, which describes itself as “a coalition of 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups.” “Young people had been at the forefront of every major social movement in history, and almost nothing was happening with young people and climate change at that point,” he said. By 21, he was managing a $5 million budget and a staff of 80 in the United States and Canada. MORE
AXION Sells ECOTRAX Rail Ties to Major Australian Rail Line. Imagine The Potential.
ou think you've seen everything when it comes to railway technologies? Well think again. What an ingenious idea of using recycled plastic when it comes to the old deteriorating wood that we currently see on railways. ReNewable Now started to think about the business potential that this could bring if railways from all over the world started to convert over to these recycled plastic rail ties. May be worth looking a bit deeper.
AXION International Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: AXIH), a leader in recycled plastic and plastic composite technologies used to produce ECOTRAX® rail ties and STRUXURE® building products, today announced that it has received a $170,000 purchase order from a major rail line in Australia for its ECOTRAX® 100% recycled plastic rail ties. The rail line plans to install ECOTRAX® in turnout applications in New South Wales for the spot replacement of wood. ECOTRAX® ties will be inserted to replace wood ties, on an as needed basis, as the wood reaches the end of its useful life due to factors including rot and insect damage. This sale follows a favorable initial trail order and in-track testing.
“We are pleased to announce yet another major victory for our ECOTRAX® rail ties. There are several reasons why Australia is a potentially huge market for our products. Most importantly, high quality wood is becoming increasingly difficult and costly to find and maintain in Australia. Secondly, traditional wood preservatives used in the U.S. are not used in Australia thus making the wood more susceptible to rot and insect attack. Our 100% recycled plastic ECOTRAX® ties are resistant to these elements. ECOTRAX® rail ties not only provide strength and durability, they also offer a cost-effective and time efficient solution for our customers. We have demonstrated that market adoption of ECOTRAX® continues to grow domestically and internationally,” stated AXION President and CEO Steve Silverman.
ECOTRAX® composite rail ties are made from AXION's patented, 100%-recycled plastic formulation. Because they are inert, ECOTRAX® rail ties will not rot or absorb moisture, and they are impervious to insect infestation. Setting the industry standard for composite rail ties, ECOTRAX® rail ties meet and exceed all American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association specifications and are continuously tested at third-party laboratories and in track. ECOTRAX® rail ties feature long life cycles and excel in the harshest conditions, making them a cost-effective choice in road crossings, switches and turnouts, open-deck bridges, and freight line track. From Australia to New York, ECOTRAX® rail ties are the tested, proven, and superior choice for railroads around the world. For more information about ECOTRAX® rail ties, click here to learn more.
About AXION International Holdings, Inc.
AXION (OTCQB: AXIH) is a green technology company, transforming waste plastics into structural building materials. Using 100%-recycled consumer and industrial plastics, AXION develops, markets and sells its recycled structural composite products through its ECOTRAX® composite rail tie and STRUXURE® building material lines. From the railroading industry to the military to global engineering firms, AXION delivers tested, proven and superior green solutions to infrastructure needs around the world. www.AXIH.com
This release contains "forward-looking statements" for purposes of the Securities and Exchange Commission's "safe harbor" provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and Rule 3b-6 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause AXION’s actual results to differ materially from those currently anticipated, including the availability of materials at favorable pricing, sufficient manufacturing capability and the risk factors identified in AXION’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Renewable Energy is Young Generation's Top Investment Choice
A nationwide survey has found that renewable energy is the British public’s top investment choice after property but is the number one alternative for 18 to 24-year-olds.
The findings show the country’s investment preferences reflect fast growing public support for clean power.
The 'Great British Money Survey' was carried out by One Poll to gather insight into the spending and investment habits of 2,000 people across the United Kingdom. It was commissioned by Abundance Generation, the FCA regulated crowd funding platform.
When asked about their preferred investment areas, 43% chose property; 33% renewable energy; 23% traditional energy (oil, coal, gas); 19% manufacturing; 15% consumer goods; 14% hospitality; 12% transport and 3% 'other'.
The survey also showed that Briton’s place most importance on financial return, risk, transparency, environmental and ethical impact when deciding their investments.
Other key findings are that: *Renewable energy is the top investment choice for 18 to 24 year olds, over property.
*75% would be unhappy if their money was invested in companies that damage the environment or are otherwise unethical
*22% are happy with their money being invested in companies that damage the environment or are otherwise unethical
*71% want to know where their money is being invested
*72% named risk and 75% financial return as of high importance when investing
*55% of people view renewable energy as medium to low risk
*26% view renewable energy as high to very high risk, with 19% unsure
*68% of people would find an investment in renewables at 8% return attractive
*Despite investment risk being considered of high importance, 82% either haven’t heard of or don’t understand the meaning of the 'Carbon Bubble'.
Bruce Davis, co-founder and joint managing director of Abundance Generation, said, "These results are really quite ground breaking. We’re now not only seeing majority public support for renewable energy, but people actively wanting to put their money in it too. Britain is a nation in love with property, so it’s no wonder this is at number one, but to see renewables favored above old energy is a great vote of confidence in the sector."
"We know that from the rapid take up of crowd funded renewables investors are actively looking for inflation beating returns. People would much rather get them through investing in the real economy in assets that they can see, trust and believe in."
Windy Conditions Helps Germany's Renewable Energy Output and Helps Cut Europe's Energy Prices
Day-ahead electricity prices in Continental Europe fell sharply in October, with windy conditions boosting renewable energy output, according to monthly data just released by leading global energy information provider, Platts.
The Platts Continental Power (CONTI) Index fell 10.2% in October to €44.44 per megawatt hour (/MWh) compared to the September rate of €49.49/MWh. Year-over-year the index is down 11.4%.
"German near-term power prices turned bearish in October and into November as strong wind output displaced conventional generation," said Andreas Franke, Platts editor. "German wind output in October was 47% higher than a year ago, while the country's solar panels generated 5.5% more electricity than in October 2012."
Oversupply is not confined to Germany. Despite a slow return to service following maintenance of a number of nuclear reactors in France, the French day-ahead power price in October was down 6% compared to September. Even the "island" system of the U.K. saw the most recent monthly average power prices dip 1% on September.
"October 28's St. Jude's Day storm and high winds saw the lowest U.K. day-ahead price for the month at £45.45/MWh," Franke said. "Since then, rising nuclear output into November has kept a lid on U.K. prices."
Meanwhile, U.K. natural gas prices bucked a recent upward trend and fell in October from September, as mild temperatures capped demand and strong pipeline gas flows from Norway kept the system well supplied.
The day-ahead contract averaged 65.10 pence/therm (p/th) during October, compared to 65.70 p/th in September – a near 1% decline. In 2012 the price rose by 6.34% to 64.35 p/th month-over-month.
"After a late surge, U.K. gas storage levels reached 98.21% of capacity late October," Franke said. "Daily U.K. gas demand in October averaged about 190 million cubic meters, up 23% month-over-month, but down 12% year-over-year."
At Continental Europe's most liquid natural gas trading hub, the Dutch TTF, the average price of day-ahead gas in October was €25.87/MWh, down 2.3% on September and 3% year-over-year. Warmer-than-average temperatures combined with strong Norwegian gas flows to guide prices lower.
Huge Windfall for oil Industry Could Dampen Biofuels
Americans United for Change reports stock values for four of the Big Five oil companies surged following the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft rule that would roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard. Brad Woodhouse – American United for Change President – says Big Oil’s win on the draft rule for the RFS led to an instant windfall for oil companies. In fact – the group says the Big Five oil companies reaped a combined 23-billion dollar windfall and the value of their outstanding shares increased by an average of more than two-percent in a single day. According to Americans United for Change – that increase was about four-times better than the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 over the same period between the closing bell the day before the announcement and the opening bell on the next day of trading after the announcement. Woodhouse says consumers, American farmers and are troops are left holding the bag. He says Big Oil hit the jackpot – while we risk a huge slowdown in the development of next generation biofuels that are our best hope for reducing the nation’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil.
“Big Oil’s big win on the draft rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard led to an instant windfall for oil companies while consumers, American farmers and our troops are left holding the bag,” said Brad Woodhouse, President of Americans United for Change. “Big Oil hit the jackpot, but we are risking a huge slowdown in the development of next generation biofuels that are our best hope for reducing America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”
The Big Five oil companies reaped a combined $23 billion windfall, and the value of their outstanding shares increased by an average of more than 2 percent in a single day. This increase was about four times better than the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 over the same period between the closing bell the day before the announcement (November 14) and the opening bell on the next day of trading after the announcement (November 18).
Meanwhile, an independent index of ethanol and biofuel stocks has fallen by more than 6 percent following the release of the draft rule. According to Americans United for Change, this is a very bad sign for the future of American leadership in clean, renewable biofuel, but it is a predictable market response to the draft proposal. If Big Oil gets its way, the steady rise in American biofuel use will be reversed next year, with less biofuel used in 2014 than in 2013.
Even though wholesale prices of ethanol are 60-80 cents cheaper than wholesale gasoline prices, Big Oil, said Americans United for Change, continues to falsely claim that the RFS requirement to use more of the inexpensive, clean, American made ethanol raises gasoline prices. Contrary to their argument, however, the announcement hasn’t brought any relief to American consumers at the gas pump – gas prices are actually slightly higher than before the announcement. The only winners are the oil companies who just reaped $23 billion while putting a choke hold on their only potential competition.
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy)
Figtree Financing, a leading provider of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, issued its third bond on October 22, 2013. This issue comes just over 3 months after having funded improvements to 7 California properties in a prior bond issue. The latest bond, with a value of $478,100, includes 4 projects in the cities of Chico, Bakersfield, and Palm Springs, bringing the total value of commercial PACE projects financed by Figtree to over $2 million.
This bond funded solar and cool roof improvements to two retail shopping facilities, a commercial warehouse, and a hotel. Ryan Ahearn, VP of Marketing for Figtree Financing, highlighted that “this bond issue is proof that we are seeing increased demand for commercial PACE financing from a variety of property types and that Figtree is now able to fund projects much more quickly than in the past.”
PACE’s unique financing enables a variety of improvements, particularly those that have a long useful life and benefit from a long-term amortization like solar, HVAC and cool roofing. “The solar project utilizing PACE financing in Chico is worth an estimated $140,000 to the property owner with no money down. Over time, the annual energy savings are projected to exceed the amount of the PACE payment,” stated Paul Sullivan, Sales Manager for Alternative Energy Systems, the contractor for this project. “Energy savings, rebates, and tax incentives also help to make solar projects cash flow and net present value positive from the onset. We expect to see a growing number of projects financed with Figtree PACE in the coming year,” added Sullivan.
Adoption of solar technology is accelerating via PACE financing; 39% of the projects financed via commercial PACE include solar and the remaining 61% are energy efficiency improvements such as HVAC and cool roofing according to PACENow.org. “For every $1 million spent on solar and energy efficiency an estimated 20 jobs are created according to construction industry multipliers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. With over $43 million in projects financed via Commercial PACE nationwide, an estimated 860 jobs have been created around the country, and this is just the beginning” added David Gabrielson, Executive Director of PACENow.org.
“The County of Butte adopted the program in March 2013 with the City of Chico, City of Oroville, and Town of Paradise following in June. This program is an excellent economic development tool, supporting local businesses, property owners, and contractors. We are pleased already to be experiencing the benefits of Figtree PACE with the recently funded project in Chico.” said Jennifer Macarthy, Economic and Community Development Manager of the County of Butte.
Figtree is utilizing its statewide network of assessment districts created by the California Enterprise Development Authority to issue its multi-jurisdictional bonds. The program structure makes adoption of Figtree PACE efficient and easy for additional local government agencies that want to make energy improvement financing available to local property owners. The geographic footprint of the Figtree PACE program, as measured by commercial property value, has grown 401% in the last 12 months. Figtree PACE is quickly becoming the kind of economic engine that local governments envisioned for PACE financing when enabling legislation was passed in 2008. Figtree is now active in 46 cities and counties in California and has recently been adopted by the Cities of Hermosa Beach, Anaheim, and Rolling Hills.
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is a new form of financing that provides property owners with up-front capital to improve their properties with energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades based on property values – up to 20% of a property’s assessed value. Figtree PACE financing is available for commercial, industrial, office, retail, multi-family properties of five or more units and limited residential in some areas. PACE requires no money down and provides for attractive financing that doesn’t impact a property owner’s credit score or capacity to borrow for other business needs.
Investors Achieve Strong Results on Climate Change, Supply Chains, Water Risks During 2013 Proxy Season
Investors achieved noteworthy victories during this year’s shareholder proxy season, with a near record 110 shareholder resolutions filed with 94 U.S. companies on corporate sustainability challenges such as climate change, supply chain issues and water-related risks.
Shareholders achieved numerous successes within the energy sector, as described in a previous press release issued two weeks ago. Among resolutions filed with other major U.S. manufacturers, consumer brands and service providers, many investors requested board oversight of corporate sustainability issues and comprehensive disclosure via sustainability reports. Overall, investors withdrew more than 40 of the 110 resolutions after the companies responded affirmatively to their specific requests.
Highlights of the 2013 proxy season include:
Dunkin Brands, Kroger and Starbucks agreed to source 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect workers, rainforests and species.
Home improvement giant Lowe’s as well as oil and gas companies Denbury Resources and Range Resources, and also United Parcel Service (UPS) committed to board oversight of environmental and social matters.
Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, EMC, Gap, Kohls, Nike, Texas Instruments, Target and Xerox agreed to encourage or require sustainability reporting by their suppliers.
Coach Inc, Ralph Lauren, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and nine other companies agreed to issue comprehensive sustainability reports.
Stryker, a large medical equipment manufacturer, agreed to set greenhouse gas reduction goals
“Investors are ever more mindful of escalating environmental and social risks and want answers on how companies are dealing with them,” said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, which helped coordinate the shareholder filings. “This year’s proxy results showed strong progress on wide-ranging sustainability challenges such as water availability risks, supply chain vulnerabilities and greenhouse gas emissions.”
Filers of the resolutions include some of the nation’s largest public pension funds, such as the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York State and New York City Comptrollers’ Offices; socially responsible investors such as Calvert Investments, Trillium Asset Management and Walden Asset Management; and religious, labor and other institutional investors, who collectively manage more than $500 billion in assets.
A recent analysis by Ernst & Young shows that environmental and social shareholder proposals account for about 40 percent of all resolutions filed with U.S. companies. Just three years ago, environmental and social resolutions made up only 30 percent of proposals.
During the 2013 season, Ceres-tracked resolutions achieved results in several key areas:
Responsible Sourcing: Palm Oil and GHGs
In 2013, investors continued to focus attention on a rapidly growing source of greenhouse gas emissions - palm oil - that is used in about 50 percent of all packaged food products in supermarkets today. Oil palm trees are cultivated primarily on plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as other countries with tropical forests, by clear-cutting and burning carbon-storing rainforest and peat lands. According to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), palm oil accounted for 65 percent of produced and traded vegetable oils globally by 2006. As this statistic continues to rise, palm oil cultivation results in significant emissions of greenhouse gases and endangers rare species such as orangutans.
After filing a shareholder resolution, the New York State Comptroller’s Office successfully negotiated a commitment by Dunkin Brands to source 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil for its products. In addition, Kroger (among the top five largest grocery chains in the U.S) committed to purchase 100 percent of palm oil from suppliers certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) by 2015, for use in company-owned brands. Starbuck’s made a similar commitment earlier this year. These resolutions were filed separately by the New York State Comptroller’s Office, the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Aberdeen SD, and Green Century Capital Management.
Sustainable Supply Chains
Against the backdrop of a disastrous fire and building collapse in Bangladesh, which claimed the lives of more than 1,200 workers, New York City Comptroller John C. Liu’s Office moved The Gap, Nike, and Target to commit to make their supply chain more sustainable by working with key suppliers to issue sustainability reports, including worker safety issues. Technology giants EMC and Texas Instruments made similar commitments in response to resolutions by Liu’s office. Kohl’s also made a commitment on this topic to the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA), as did Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy and Xerox in response to resolutions filed by the New York State Comptroller’s Office.
“We’re encouraged that more companies agreed to increase the sustainability and transparency of their suppliers as we expanded our efforts beyond the technology sector to include major retailers,” Comptroller John C. Liu said. “The risk they face from suppliers’ human and worker rights abuses was made clear by the tragedies in Bangladesh. More needs to be done, particularly in Bangladesh, but sustainability reporting is an important component.” Corporate Sustainability Reporting
Companies in numerous sectors agreed to issue comprehensive sustainability reports in response to resolutions tracked by Ceres (lead filers are listed in parenthesis): Cameron International (Calvert), Coach, Inc. (Unitarian Universalist Association), Coherent (Walden Asset Management), Cousins Properties Incorporated (Laborer’s International Union North America), Lifepoint Hospitals (Calvert), Molycorp (Mercy Investment Services), Ralph Lauren (New York State Comptroller’s Office), SL Green (NY City Comptroller’s Office), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Trillium Asset Management), Kimco Realty (NYC), Roper Industries (Presbyterian Church USA), Wabtec (Walden). In addition to company-wide reviews of policies, governance structures, and goals related to ESG performance, several of these resolutions request information on how companies are mitigating the risks of water scarcity and/or water pollution.
A record-breaking 67 percent of shareholders voted for a sustainability report request filed by the Presbyterian Church USA with CF Industries, a major fertilizer manufacturer. This industry suffered a recent calamity when a nitrogen fertilizer plant exploded in Texas in April, killing at least 15 people and causing as much as $100 million in damage to a small town. CF itself made news in June when an explosion killed one person and injured others at its fertilizer plant in Louisiana.
Board Oversight of Environmental and Social Matters
Calvert Investments secured agreements for board oversight of environmental and social matters from Lowe’s, Denbury Resources, Range Resources, and United Parcel Service (UPS).
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals
Walden withdrew its shareholder resolution from Stryker after an agreement by the company to gather data on its greenhouse gas emissions and begin setting goals to reduce them. “We believe it is critical for all companies to be able to measure and manage their Greenhouse Gas emissions by setting specific reduction goals and a clear plan to meet them,” said Timothy Smith, Senior Vice President and Director of Environmental Social and Governance Shareowner Engagement at Walden Asset Management.
Climate change is an environmental topic that nearly everyone is familiar with, but it isn't the only environmental concern. On the other side of the coin, everything that relates to the environment isn't always full of bad news. In fact, heightened awareness of environmental concerns has fostered a wave of technological innovation, given birth to a variety of new businesses and transformed many aspects of the way business is done. It has also changed the way many of us live. With nearly every one of those changes comes opportunity, and for equity investors, there are several easy ways to invest in these opportunities.
Mutual Funds Mutual funds provide an easy way to go "green." From socially responsible funds that include green companies in their portfolios to funds that exclusively focus on green companies, there are many possibilities to consider. Some funds focus on large cap companies, while others stick with small caps.
Investment strategies also run the gamut, with some fund managers investing in firms that engage in the best environmental practices for their respective industries, which can include business that you wouldn't necessarily expect, such as oil companies and large computer manufacturers. While these companies may not fit your definition of green, they may be the best of the bunch when compared to their peers.
Of course, plenty of managers focus on the green space, investing in companies that are actively seeking to reduce their impact on the environment by reducing their carbon footprints, engaging in environmentally friendly business practices, or creating the tools and technologies that represent the cutting edge in terms of efforts to combat global warming and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Simply check out the funds' stated philosophies and strategies, choose the fund that supports your beliefs and you've got an entire green portfolio ready and waiting.
Exchange-Traded Funds Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) provide another way to go green. Unlike mutual funds, in which actively managed portfolios provide an opportunity for investment managers to implement their best ideas and change the portfolio as necessary, ETFs are passively managed investments that often track benchmark indexes. In the green space, there are ETFs that track indexes related to producing green and renewable energy, the transition from old to new technologies, nuclear power, technological innovation and more. Numerous choices are currently available and more are in the works.
While not generally offering the depth and variety of pure-play opportunities, large caps can still provide some access to eco-friendly efforts. Many large power companies use wind and water to produce at least a portion of their energy and numerous corporations and conglomerates engage in the design, manufacture and production of materials that are used in power generation, pollution control and other aspects of a variety of green businesses.
Evaluating Green Investments There are no set green criteria that identify suitable investment opportunities, although mutual funds are an easy place to start looking because "green" mutual funds often label themselves accordingly. They also provide information about their screening methodologies, which enables investors to determine whether they agree with those standards. A quick online search for the terms "green mutual fund" and "socially responsible mutual fund" will certainly get you started in the right direction.
Beyond the investment realm, there are other ways to conduct research and other methods by which to judge corporate behavior. A variety of organizations track corporate behavior and produce reports, which investors can use as they see fit. For example, the Climate Counts organization judges companies across a variety of industries and scores them based on 22 characteristics. Firms are then rated as either "stuck," "starting" or "striding" in their efforts to address climate change. These ratings are a simplistic method to identify companies that might be worth a closer look and to steer clear of those with the worst environmental practices.
Another easy way to take a closer look at a company that you are considering is to conduct a company-specific search. Once again, the internet is a great tool. Just type in the company name and add the words "environmental record" in the search bar. Try it with Exxon Mobil and then with Ben and Jerry's to get a better feel for the type of results that you can expect and the differences between them.
The Bottom Line Regardless of the investment vehicles that you choose or the screening methodology that catches your fancy, do not forget to keep one eye on the bottom line. Engaging in environmentally sound practices may be a more expensive method of doing business than the standard methodology, which can hurt a company's profitability. Your heart is in the right place if you prefer to invest your money with firms that support your beliefs, just make sure your investments are in companies that are doing good, for both the environment and your portfolio.
Adaptation Finance in Developing Countries
The climate is changing and human beings will need to change with it. People will have to adapt to floods, droughts, disease, increasingly severe weather events and disrupted water and food supplies. But some of those facing these threats have limited capacity to respond. International finance to help vulnerable nations adapt to climate change is therefore hugely important.
Who accesses these funds and how they access them are already hotly contested issues. At the heart of this debate are differing views over the status of adaptation. Should it be considered aid or reparations for past wrongs? More prosaically, can adaptation actually work, or will it fall prey to the types of problems that have hindered development aid and international attempts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions?
At global climate-change negotiations in Copenhagen last year, it was agreed that developed nations would provide US$30 billion (201 billion yuan) in new funding for developing nations between 2010 and 2012, and the money would be split between helping people adapt to climate change and financing projects to alleviate its effects. A further US$100 billion (666 billion yuan) would be found from public and private sources between 2012 and 2020, and the most vulnerable nations given priority access to funds for adaptation.
However, implementing these promises has proved difficult. For a start, developing nations have expressed concerns that these funds are not going to be “new and additional” as promised, and that money may be counted as both adaptation finance and development aid. In November, a high-level panel assembled by United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon will issue recommendations on how to find new money. Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, who co-chaired a panel advising the UN on the issue, said in October that it is “challenging but feasible, achievable to raise the $100 billion”, further noting that “carbon pricing” in the developed world would need to be part of the solution.
Another fault-line is emerging over definitions of vulnerability. The Copenhagen Accord states that “funding for adaptation will be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing states and Africa.” But exactly who qualifies remains a point of contention. Pakistan, for example, beset by terrible floods that may have been exacerbated by climate change, is requesting access to adaptation funds. Pakistan does not fit the definition but, facing huge shortfalls in aid to flood-hit regions, is seeking to contest and expand it.
Linda Siegele, a lawyer at the UK-based Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) noted that this is a “difficult and divisive issue right now among developing nations. There is a huge fear that there is a limited pie and that everyone wants a piece of it. I don’t think that’s a realistic picture. There has to be some priority setting.”
Negotiations over how the money would be disbursed also stalled at Copenhagen [PDF]. Existing multilateral entities like the World Bank seemed well placed to channel funds. Some donor nations were also keen to provide funds directly on a bilateral basis. But many developing nations rejected these ideas, arguing that institutions like the World Bank had a bad track record in providing finance to developing nations, in part because these institutions were controlled and administered by developed nations. Bilateral funding would also lead to uneven outcomes, with some nations favoured while others missed out, they said.
The key point here is that adaptation finance is not aid. Existing processes were designed to provide grants and loans from developed nations. Sven Harmeling, an expert on climate change adaptation at German NGO Germanwatch, notes that “developing countries are entitled to receive adaptation funds because of the harm done by (developed country) greenhouse-gas emissions.” As such they have a moral case that they should have a say over how money is provided and spent. Funding for adaptation is not granted but owed.
An existing United Nations institution – the Adaptation Fund – might be part of the solution to this impasse. The fund uses an approach known as “direct access”, where a developing country can nominate a national institution to receive resources. This institution is then responsible for overseeing and reporting on how the funds are used. This gives recipient countries a larger say in how the funds are spent. More practically, Harmeling notes “an international fund alone cannot decide on hundreds or thousands of projects. It wouldn’t know the local situations, while national entities are better placed to evaluate projects.”
Developing nations can still access funds through accredited multilateral institutions, including the World Bank, if they choose. Ultimately it is likely that the innovative financial architecture provided by the adaptation fund will play a role, but it will almost certainly be alongside traditional multilateral institutions like the World Bank and bilateral finance.
The Adaptation Fund draws money from a 2% levy on the Clean Development Mechanism along with direct donations, ranging from a 45 million euro contribution (US$63 million) from Spain to a 100 euro (US$140) donation from European schoolchildren. In June, projects from Nicaragua, Pakistan, Senegal and the Solomon Islands received funding for adaptation projects to combat sea-level rise, deal with droughts and floods and reduce risks associated with glacial-lake outbursts.
The project in the Solomon Islands illustrates just how much planning and work adaptation involves. Improving the resilience of the country’s infrastructure in the face of climate threats includes everything from the construction of new sea-walls in order to keep out rising seas to improving the design of the airport to better cope with huge storms and facilitate subsequent relief efforts. Money is also needed to complete “community vulnerability and adaptation assessments”, which cover tricky issues including relocation of peoples and land rights. For the country to adapt successfully, land and property will need to be provided for internally displaced people. Developing legal frameworks and strengthening governance structures that facilitate this process and prevent disputes is therefore a crucial part of adapting to climate change in the Solomon Islands.
Strong local institutions and legal structures are also crucial to donor nations. Where institutions are weak, the possibility of corruption increases. There is a risk that efforts to finance adaptation will be undermined by failed projects and misappropriation of funds. Harmeling believes donor nations should have realistic expectations: “It is not likely that 100% of adaptation projects will be 100% successful. But this is a chance to show that developing countries are able to work through a structure with more overall responsibility.”
To minimise the risk of failure, he suggests that “it is important not to scale up too fast. Experience from development programmes shows that some caution and trial and error is required to implement projects. Adaptation has to be done carefully.”
It makes sense that time is spent putting in place structures and institutions to distribute money and agree a fair definition of who should get first access. This may mean that not all of the fast-start finance pledged for adaptation will be spent by 2012. But it is surely better to have positive examples to learn from than to rush blindly to spend set quantities of money ahead of artificial deadlines. As the climate changes, adaptation is only going to become more important. It is vital that mistakes are minimized at the start of a process that may be centuries long.