Moving towards a cleaner and more sustainable environment doesn't mean losing jobs or shutting down manufacturing- ReNewable Now believes just the opposite. We believe that this is going to be a shift in economic power, in other words OPPORTUNITY. Going Green is not a fad, it is a reality, and for those businesses and companies who cannot see into the future, who aren't willing to embrace change, they will go the way of the dinosaurs, and rightfully so.  Here at ReNewable Business, we celebrate those businesses and companies who are leading the way because they are inspiring all of us, and setting the examples for others to follow.

Every week we will showcase a business, company, person or issue on the business side of green that is getting us excited.   You will also get interesting opinions, commentary, and advice from those who are helping to grow a sustainable green economy.


Schneider Electric and Duke Energy Renewables Agree to Deliver Two Advanced Microgrids


Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, and Duke Energy Renewables announced an agreement earlier this year to deploy two advanced microgrids to serve the Montgomery County, Maryland, Public Safety Headquarters (PSHQ) and Correctional Facility.

Critical public safety facilities require 24/7 access to power to ensure operational integrity. Through this innovative public-private partnership, Montgomery County will build two advanced microgrids, including power system upgrades and advanced controls. The microgrids will help ensure more reliable and efficient power, and improve resiliency for Montgomery County following major storms and other natural disasters.

Improvements include upgrades in infrastructure at PSHQ and Montgomery County Correctional Facility, as well as clean on-site power generation through a solar energy system and natural gas generators that enable uninterrupted public services during emergencies. Often called "island mode operation," this functionality allows facilities to intentionally, or automatically, separate from the electric grid and continue to operate at, or near, normal capacity for extended periods during power outages.

"I am pleased we are making significant strides in several of our key priorities—sustainability, safety and security," said County Executive Isiah Leggett. "Microgrids and other upgrades to critical facilities improve the County's resiliency, so we can keep residents safe and provide needed services even in the event of prolonged power outages."

By funding and developing both microgrids through Schneider Electric's innovative Microgrid-as-a-Service (MaaS) business model, Montgomery County can complete construction without any up-front costs to the County. A special power purchase agreement helps pay for the microgrids through lower cost, clean energy generation.

"The way we finance these types of resiliency projects is a national model for other local governments and the private sector," said Department of General Services Director David Dise. "Rather than buying the microgrid system outright, the County partners with a private entity that owns, operates and maintains the system. The County then purchases the electricity and heat generated. This model allows us to further modernize and improve the capabilities of our facilities at low or no cost while also reducing our environmental impact."

Schneider Electric will play a comprehensive role in designing and implementing this solution, including: microgrid protection control and optimization, electrical equipment, distributed energy resource (DER) management, electrical design services, cybersecurity and network design. Duke Energy Renewables will own both advanced microgrids, and its affiliate, REC Solar, will build the solar system. Schneider Electric will also assist Duke Energy Renewables in the operation of the microgrids.

"It's more important than ever to meet customers' evolving needs through solutions that are creative, affordable and dependable," said Rob Caldwell, president, Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology. "With more than 100 years of utility experience and an established renewables business, we bring the expertise in generating cleaner energy that will serve to increase the security and sustainability for these county facilities."

Implementing new distributed energy resources at the PSHQ and Correctional Facility campuses will help reduce greenhouse gases and the County's dependence on fossil fuels. The microgrids will produce approximately 3.3 million kilowatt hours of solar energy each year, equivalent to powering about 400 average homes each year. The systems also will include 7.4 million kilowatt hours of combined heat and power each year, which saves energy by using waste heat from on-site power generation to heat and cool the buildings. Combined, the on-site power generation at these two facilities is anticipated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,629 metric tons each year, as much as taking 767 cars off the road. The advanced microgrids include technologies to enable predictive management and optimization of energy usage during grid connected and island modes.

"By deploying advanced microgrids, Montgomery County is directing its energy future. This underscores our approach to innovate at every level of our offer, both in the technology and the financial structure," said Phillip Barton, Director of Schneider Electric Microgrid Competency Center. "Using the Schneider Electric Microgrid-as-a-Service offer removes the up-front cost hurdles for Montgomery County, while increasing resiliency, efficiency and sustainability."

The Montgomery County PSHQ houses central County Police and County Fire and Rescue Services functions, the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS), and the 1st District Police Station.

The Montgomery County Correctional Facility (MCCF), located in Boyds, Maryland, is responsible for the custody and care of about 1,000 inmates.

The two advanced microgrids will become fully operational in 2018.



Photo Credit:  FORD Inc.

This week, Ford detailed seven of the 13 new global electrified vehicles it plans to introduce in the next five years, including hybrid versions of the iconic F-150 pickup and Mustang in the U.S., a plug-in hybrid Transit Custom van in Europe and a fully electric SUV with an expected range of at least 300 miles for customers globally.

The automaker also announced plans to invest $700 million to expand its Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan into a factory that will build high-tech autonomous and electric vehicles along with the Mustang and Lincoln Continental. The expansion will create 700 direct new jobs.

The moves are part of a $4.5 billion investment in electrified vehicles by 2020, offering customers greater fuel efficiency, capability and power across Ford’s global vehicle lineup. The plans are part of the company’s expansion to be an auto and a mobility company, including leading in electrified and autonomous vehicles and providing new mobility solutions.

“As more and more consumers around the world become interested in electrified vehicles, Ford is committed to being a leader in providing consumers with a broad range of electrified vehicles, services and solutions that make people’s lives better,” said Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO. “Our investments and expanding lineup reflect our view that global offerings of electrified vehicles will exceed gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 15 years.”

Ford is focusing its EV plan on its areas of strength – electrifying its most popular, high-volume commercial vehicles, trucks, SUVs and performance vehicles to make them even more capable, productive and fun to drive.

The seven global electrified vehicles announced today include:

  • An all-new fully electric small SUV, coming by 2020, engineered to deliver an estimated range of at least 300 miles, to be built at the Flat Rock plant and sold in North America, Europe and Asia

  • A high-volume autonomous vehicle designed for commercial ride hailing or ride sharing, starting in North America. The hybrid vehicle will debut in 2021 and will be built at the Flat Rock plant

  • A hybrid version of the best-selling F-150 pickup available by 2020 and sold in North America and the Middle East. The F-150 Hybrid, built at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant, will offer powerful towing and payload capacity and operate as a mobile generator

  • A hybrid version of the iconic Mustang that will deliver V8 power and even more low-end torque. The Mustang Hybrid, built at the Flat Rock Plant, debuts in 2020 and will be available in the North America to start

  • A Transit Custom plug-in hybrid available in 2019 in Europe engineered to help reduce operating costs in even the most congested streets

  • Two new, pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicles. One of the two new hybrid police vehicles will be built in Chicago, and both will be upfitted with their police gear at Ford’s dedicated police vehicle modification center in Chicago

In addition, Ford announces that its global utility lineup will be the company’s first hybrids powered by EcoBoost® rather than naturally aspirated engines, furthering improving performance and fuel economy.

The company also plans to be as aggressive in developing global electrified vehicles services and solutions. These include EV fleet management, route planning and telematics solutions.

Building the Future

To support the new era of vehicles, Ford is adding 700 direct new U.S. jobs and investing $700 million during the next four years, creating the new Manufacturing Innovation Center at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant. Employees there will build the all-new small utility vehicle with extended battery range as well as the fully autonomous vehicle for ride-hailing or ride-sharing – along with the iconic Mustang and Lincoln Continental.

“I am thrilled that we have been able to secure additional UAW-Ford jobs for American workers,” said Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president, National Ford Department. “The men and women of Flat Rock Assembly have shown a great commitment to manufacturing quality products, and we look forward to their continued success with a new generation of high-tech vehicles.”

This incremental investment in Flat Rock Assembly Plant comes from $1.6 billion the company previously had planned to invest in a new plant in Mexico.

Ford today announced it is cancelling plans for the new plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It also announced that, to improve company profitability and ensure the financial as well as commercial success of this vehicle, the next-generation Focus will be built at an existing plant in Hermosillo, Mexico. This will make way for two new iconic products at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, where Focus is manufactured today – safeguarding approximately 3,500 U.S. jobs.

Unique ElectrificationTechnology

Building on two decades of experience, Ford is applying lessons learned to deliver patented technology, software and services to appeal to truck customers, SUV owners, performance enthusiasts, high-volume commercial fleets and everyone in between.

“Ford’s global EV strategy is to build on our strengths,” said Raj Nair, executive vice president, Product Development, and chief technical officer. “While some others seem to be focused on marketing claims and numbers, we’re focused on providing customers even more of what they love about their Ford vehicles. This means more capability for trucks, more productivity for commercial vehicles and more performance for sports cars – plus improved fuel economy.”

This year, Ford begins testing its new generation of EV technology. In Europe, Ford will put the Transit Custom plug-in hybrid on the road later this year, along with a new set of mobility services, telematics and connectivity solutions.

In addition, in New York and several major U.S. cities, Ford is testing a fleet of 20 Transit Connect hybrid taxi and van prototypes in some of the world’s most demanding traffic conditions.

These Transit Connects build on the success of the world’s first hybrid taxi – the Ford Escape Hybrid – which also was the world’s first hybrid SUV and the first North American-built hybrid. Many Escape Hybrid taxis are still on the road, moving passengers for more than 350,000 miles each and still using their original batteries.

Today, Ford is America’s top-selling plug-in hybrid brand and second in overall U.S. electrified vehicle sales.

New Services

Applying approximately two decades of leadership in EVs and commercial vehicles, Ford also is working on a suite of services to make EVs even easier to live with.

“Innovative services can be as important to customers as the electrified vehicles themselves,” said Hau Thai-Tang, group vice president of Purchasing and Ford’s EV champion. “We are investing in solutions to help private customers as well as commercial fleet owners seamlessly incorporate these new vehicles and technologies into their lives.”

Ford already has a memorandum of understanding with several other automakers in Europe to create an ultra-fast charging network projected to be significantly faster than the most powerful charging system deployed today. An initial target of about 400 sites in Europe is planned. By 2020, consumers should have access to thousands of high-powered charging points.

Ford also is piloting wireless technology on company EVs in the U.S. and Europe that make recharging as easy as pulling into a parking spot so drivers never forget to recharge. Wireless recharging extends electric-only range for short distance commuters, even during quick stops. FordPass® also can help consumers reserve charging times.

eNow Raises $2.36 Million in Series A Funding

eNow, a leader in renewable energy solutions for the commercial trucking, RV and marine industries, today announced it has closed on $2.36 million in Series A funding, bringing the total amount raised to date to $5.3 million. Demand for eNow's solar solutions for transportation vehicles has increased over the last year, which has spurred increased interest and support from investors.

The funding involves twenty private investors and two angel funds, Tamiami Angel Fund and Slater Technology Fund. The investment funds will be used to accelerate the adoption of eNow's products and services, including additions to its financial, sales and technical teams. In addition, Bud Stoddard, formerly with the Tamiami Angel Fund and now a venture partner with the Adrenaline Fund, will join eNow's Board of Directors.

"We are honored by the interest of the investment community in our solutions," said Jeff Flath, CEO and Founder of eNow. "Our company's solutions address both environmental and practical concerns. This 'Planet and Profit' approach translates into less carbon emissions, great fuel savings and a way to deal with increased anti-idling regulations. We look forward to translating this buy-in from the investment community into even greater success in 2017."

As the market leader in designing, developing and manufacturing solar-based power systems for the commercial trucking, RV, and Marine industries, eNow's solutions are known for their durability, superior power, low cost and quick return on investment. Over the past several years, eNow has made great progress within the transportation industry, including partnerships with industry leaders such as Dometic Group, Mitsubishi Fuso, Freightliner, Navistar, IdleAir and Vanner. The eNow solar solution is sold through OEMs and Aftermarket Dealers.  

"With this Series A round of financing, eNow can further deploy resources to expand its market share through its exciting lineup of products," said Board Member Bud Stoddard. "eNow has the ability to transform the transportation industry with its advanced energy management systems."

 Totem unveils design for the future of smart power

Totem, the world's first energy solution to reimagine and redesign smart utility, today announced its groundbreaking platform for modern companies and communities. The Totem platform combines solar energy and energy storage, WiFi and 4G communications, electric vehicle charging, and smart lighting into a single, powerful product that weaves these capabilities directly into the built environment. The first Totem model is slated for release in Summer 2017.

"Totem believes design can fundamentally change the world. We're on a mission to realize the full potential of energy's transformation by providing communities and corporations with intelligent, experiential and engaging structures - something that delivers powerful functionality and tells an easily understood story about clean energy and the next generation of critical services," said Brian Lakamp, CEO and founder of Totem Power. "We are building technology for the cities of tomorrow."

Totem: A Dynamic Smart City Platform

Energy, communications and transportation need to undergo radical transformations to support the emerging needs of truly smart, clean cities. Totem provides the foundation for reshaping smart utility in an integrated, visually-stunning product designed for the living spaces of communities, instead of relegating it to only rooftops and garages.

Distributed Solar + Storage

Distributed renewable energy generation and storage are essential elements for bringing clean cities to reality. With Totem's scalable model, the grid will be able to shatter the limits for solar and wind that the current network imposes. Totem's breakthrough product is designed for placement in locations such as city streets, schools, corporate campuses and retail settings.

Advanced Communications

Advanced communications further establish Totem as the foundation for smart cities. Totem provides a reliable hub for Wi-Fi and 4G cellular services that support increasingly connected lifestyles. Moreover, Totem is designed with an eye toward the future of energy networks enabled by connectivity. By unifying energy and communications, Totem is positioned to be an integral component of smart cities and the emerging, dynamic energy networks that power them.

Electric Vehicle Charging (EV)

As EVs and autonomous vehicles proliferate, cities are presented with new considerations and the need for a more flexible and distributed model to support new mass transportation fleets. EV charging in the Totem platform lays the groundwork for the fundamental shift in transportation infrastructure that has already begun.

Emergency Resilience

Totem's platform also plays a pivotal role in emergency preparedness and resilience. With onboard generation and storage, Totem's energy foundation is self-sustaining and capable of maintaining critical services. Most importantly, communications powered by Totem will continue to operate in the event of grid failure.

The Power of Totem

Totem stands as a symbol for the limitless possibilities of smart cities by simultaneously tackling key aspects of infrastructure modernization. The platform presents an integral tool for companies and communities seeking to bring sustainability and smart utility front and center in operations and interactions with the public. It is a critical entry point for communities that want to enable cleaner and more capable lifestyles.

"By 2020, the construction industry has the potential to comprise over $10 trillion, including the largest number of green projects in our history. Despite vast regional distinctions, we all share the desire for smarter and better designed energy solutions." said Jeffrey Kenoff a Director at Kohn Pedersen Fox. "Totem is one of the first to unite design, infrastructure, and community in a single as well as exquisite platform. It's hard to imagine a major project or public space that it would not transform."

What is the future of the business side of GREEN?

 Photo credit :  Alex Hanson 

The world woke up.

The winds of change have, in many ways, surprisingly swept through the US.  What does that mean, then, to the business side of green?  Do we stop migrating away from fossil fuel to clean energy?  Do we stop being efficient?  Do we stop inventing around the goals of doing more with less?  
Do we cease balancing the economy and environment?

Not a chance.

In fact we double down on our efforts and investments.  We make the economics work on a global scale.  Nothing turns back the tides of change when success is washing over us.  Sure, there will be less support in Washington.  President-elect Trump could use Ex-order to scale back many of President Obama's sustainable initiatives.  Tax credits could get lost;  tax levies, like a carbon fee, perhaps don't see the light of day.  More hurdles could go up, and up quickly.

But, a transforming  world, a historic industrial revolution speeding through energy into digital horizons is not a local, regional, even national event.  Washington plays a limited role in pushing green. Fifty innovative states are setting their own paths to building a smarter world, regardless of what comes our of our capital city. Our intellect, passion, unseen collaboration to build a cleaner, brighter future does not need or wait for a presidential approval. Our mission is to bring financial value to every industry, every country, every single person.  This is not a political battle--this is humanity battle.  One very much worth fighting and winning.  One that rises above the ashes of our own, at times, self-destruction.  

We welcome Mr. Trump to the stage.  We encourage him to hire great people capable of making really good energy, waste, food, industrial production decisions.  Our hope is the new Congress will be equally balanced and caring for future generations.  America is poised for remarkable success.  America is regaining control over its energy future.  America is witnessing a consumer shift that will help encourage and make great companies dedicated to the triple-bottom line win.  And the world, thanks to the Paris agreement and other bonds, will journey with this great country on a road full of promise and unlimited potential.

Be part of the solution and not just part of the problem.  As we just witnessed, your voice matters.  Don't fall back.  Don't get discouraged.  The worst, most acrimonious presidential election is, thank God, over.  Now let's get back to work.  Let's piece together the foundations of smart growth.  Momentum is on side.  Don't give it up.  With your help, it only gets better from here.

Green City Growers Honored as

Best Business for Environment


Green City Growers (GCG), the premier urban farming company in the northeast, was honored by B the Change Media as Best for the Environment at the Best for the World Celebration & Awards Ceremony at the University of California Berkeley, demonstrating the impact that mission-driven for-profit businesses hold in addressing urgent social and environmental issues.

B Corporations are evaluated annually through the B Impact Assessment, which measures a company's impact on the environment, as well as its workers, community, and customers. The Best for the Environment honor acknowledges that GCG's products and services are designed, in part, to address the negative environmental effects of conventional agriculture.

"The companies we are honoring as the best for the world represent the cutting edge of a global movement using business as a force for good. We are inspired by them, and feel deeply honored to join them in this historic and ground-breaking celebration," said Bryan Welch, CEO of B the Change Media.

"This award represents a significant milestone for GCG. We are humbled by this international recognition alongside such an impressive array of more than 1,800 B Corps," says Jessie Banhazl, CEO and Founder of GCG. "As we continue our dramatic growth, we are excited to prove the impact social mission-driven companies hold in enabling traditional businesses to respond to consumer demand for environmentally responsible and sustainable practices."

Green City Growers: Green City Growers (GCG) is the Northeast's premier urban farming business, specializing in the installation and maintenance of raised bed gardens, rooftop farms and indoor growing systems. GCG transforms unused space into thriving urban farms, providing immediate access to nutritious produce while revitalizing city landscapes and inspiring self-sufficiency through garden education programs. GCG's clients include Whole Foods Market, Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, athenahealth, Boston Properties, and Fenway Farms at Fenway Park. Green City Growers was founded in 2008.

Smart Beer, New York's First Organic Beer Company, Continues To Expand


Smart Beer, New York's first organic beer company, has just expanded distribution to New Jersey, bringing premium organic beers brewed with herbal ingredients for a pure, clean, crisp, refreshing taste to discerning drinkers of the Garden State.

Smart Beer is an innovative new brand with a focus on active lifestyle and health-conscious positioning. Headquartered in New Paltz, in the heart of the Hudson Valley, the company crafts beers with pure, certified organic ingredients, yielding a refreshing taste for consumers who want to enjoy a beer they can feel good about drinking. Smart Beer's great brews and core values have made them a fast favorite among consumers, prompting a rapid expansion to stores and bars in all boroughs of New York City and beyond, including Mets' Citi Field and citywide Whole Foods locations.

Smart Beer founder Gabriel Heymann, a certified yoga instructor and former touring musician, devised the brand as a means to bridge the gap between his health-conscious, active lifestyle and his social world. States Heymann: "We shouldn't have to sacrifice well-being in order to celebrate life's moments, and that's what Smart Beer is about." The brand released its first flagship brew, an Organic Golden Ale, in October and it immediately resonated with consumers looking for a craft beer made from sustainable ingredients and a brand that supports social and environmental values. The Golden Ale was joined by a bold and refreshing Organic IPA this past May.

Smart Beer conjoins the values of the craft beer and the organic, non-GMO product movements that are gaining worldwide momentum, providing a high-quality, authentic beer made with pure, domestically grown ingredients. For a health-focused and socially-conscious generation, it provides a great option for balancing celebration with healthy, active lifestyles.

Pioneering The Next Wave of Smart Cities


We've heard the term "Smart Cities," but what exactly is a smart city? The Smart Cities Project defines a city as 'smart' when "Investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure, fuel, sustainable economic development, and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory action and engagement." An online article at back in June 2014, went on to say that "Smart Cities are a 1.5 trillion dollar market opportunity."

Recently, ReNewable Now's podcast, the Business Side of Green, was very fortunate to have two extraordinary gentlemen from Schneider Electric join us as guests who share what the future may hold.

Gordon Falconer sits in Singapore;  Jason Dodier in WashingtonJason Dodier DC, fresh from his move from Paris.  Yet, these two guests easily come together, and did so today with us, to push urban centers to their next level of smart technology and growth.  Helped, certainly, by the power and influence of their company, Schneider Electric, both bring immense passion to their jobs and missions of smart growth.

Gordon FalconerFalconer is Schneider's most seasoned Smart City expert; an early pioneer who can trace his first efforts back 30 years around real estate development.  Falconer has traveled the world.  He is a former director for Cisco, another power house on urban innovation.  His system of development, based on global data showing over 50% of today's population lives in cities, is premised on the 3 p's of good strategy for growth--policies, programs and projects that soon follow.

We know the world is riding a wave of urbanization, industrialization and digitization. That is a major confluence of economic waves.  How do you best harness that power and energy to build smart cities?  Are cites dumb today?  Do they have the money for projects?  What exactly do these changes mean to those of us living within their borders? Listen in as we explore these concepts.

Wind Power To Add Billions To Illinois’ State Revenue


A new economic impact study has found that wind power provided an employment boom and is set to add billions in revenue for the state of Illinois’ coffers.

The study, released by Illinois State University’s (ISU) Centre for Renewable Energy, reveals that Illinois’ 25 largest wind farms supported over 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs and will contribute USD $6.4 billion toward local economies over the 25-year life of the projects.

Each year these wind farms support 869 permanent jobs with 226 direct jobs in rural Illinois. The state reaps $30.4 million in annual property taxes for local communities, and landowners who lease their properties to wind developers earn a total of $13.86 million in extra income.

According to a Department of Energy Wind Vision Report, wind capacity in Illinois has expanded rapidly; rising from 50 MW in 2003 to nearly 4,000 MW in 2016 – thanks largely to positive state and federal policies supporting the sector.

The study points out once such policy was the passage of the Illinois Power Agency Act in 2007 that included a Renewable Portfolio Standard of 25 percent by 2025, of which 75 percent of the renewable energy must come from wind.

Texas dominates the leaderboard for installed wind capacity in the U.S. with a total of 17,711 MW. Illinois (3,842) currently ranks fifth, behind Iowa (6,364 MW), California (5,662 MW), and Oklahoma (5,453 MW).

But while Illinois may lag behind its neighbours right now, it is projected to become the second-largest wind-generating state in the USA after Texas by 2050. This is due to a large extent to the ever-growing demand for energy from the Eastern United States. Illinois is situated in an ideal geographical position to supply low-cost wind power than other states further west.

If the projections contained in the report are borne out, Illinois could potentially see a five times increase in capacity from 2020 to 2030 and then a doubling of capacity from 2030 to 2050.

Centre director and study author David Loomis said the report would give future policymakers food for thought.

“Wind energy has played an increasingly important part in the state’s energy mix resulting in numerous economic development benefits,” he said. “Decision-makers need to be well-informed about these benefits so that they consider all of the factors when deciding on future wind projects.”

The full report can be viewed here.


China could go big on wind power,

if it adjusts its grid operations

China has an opportunity to massively increase its use of wind power -- if it properly integrates wind into its existing power system, according to a newly published MIT study.

The study forecasts that wind power could provide 26 percent of China's projected electricity demand by 2030, up from 3 percent in 2015. Such a change would be a substantial gain in the global transition to renewable energy, since China produces the most total greenhouse gas emissions of any country in the world.

But the projection comes with a catch. China should not necessarily build more wind power in its windiest areas, the study finds. Instead, it should build more wind turbines in areas where they can be more easily integrated into the operations of its existing electricity grid.

"Wind that is built in distant, resource-rich areas benefits from more favorable physical properties but suffers from existing constraints on the operation of the power system," states Valerie Karplus, an assistant professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, director of the Tsinghua-MIT China Energy and Climate Project, and a member of the MIT Energy Initiative. Those constraints include greater transmission costs and the cost of "curtailment," when available wind power is not used.

The paper, "Integrating wind into China's coal-heavy electricity system," is appearing in Nature Energy. In addition to Karplus, the authors are Michael R. Davidson, a graduate student in MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society; Da Zhang, a postdoc in MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change; and Weiming Xei and Xiliang Zhang of Tsinghua University. Karplus and Zhang are the corresponding authors of the paper, and lead an MIT-Tsinghua collaboration focused on managing energy and climate change in China.

Co-existing with coal

While China has invested heavily in renewable energy sources in recent years, more investment in the sector will be needed if the country is to meet its pledge of having 20 percent of its energy consumption come from non-fossil fuel sources by the year 2030, as part of the Paris climate agreement of 2015.

While several previous studies have evaluated China's wind-energy potential based on the country's natural environment, the MIT study is the first to study how wind energy could expand, based on simulations of China's power system operations.

When operational constraints are considered, the MIT team found, China may only be able to use 10 percent of the physical potential for wind power cited in their analysis and other studies. Nevertheless, even harnessing that 10 percent would be enough for wind power to provide the study's estimated 26 percent of electricity by 2030.

A key challenge the study identifies is integrating wind power into a system that has traditionally been geared toward consumption of coal. Wind power, being intermittent, currently requires flexibility in the operation of the electricity system to ensure wind can be used when it is available.

That, in turn, requires flexibility in the delivery of electricity from coal-fired power plants, which accounted for over 70 percent of electricity generated in China in 2015. However, China has regulations determining high minimum output levels for many coal-powered electricity plants, to ensure the profitability of those plants. Reducing these requirements and creating more flexible generation schedules for coal would create more space for wind power.

"Renewable energy plays a central role in China's efforts to address climate change and local air quality," Da Zhang explains. "China plans to substantially increase the amount of wind electricity capacity in the future, but its utilization -- and ultimately its contribution to these environmental goals -- depends on whether or not integration challenges can be solved."

New policies possible?

As the researchers see it, new policies can help create the conditions for increased use of wind power -- but may be difficult to implement. As Davidson notes, "establishing regulatory structures and policy incentives to capture these benefits will be difficult in China because of legacy institutions."

And as Karplus adds, current regulations have been designed to ensure profitability for power producers, rather than making them compete to lower costs. "Existing policies prioritize sharing benefits equally among participants rather than facing strict price competition," she says. "As electricity demand growth has slowed in recent years, the limited size of the pie means sharper conflicts between wind and coal."

To be sure, as Karplus notes, government planners in China have been experimenting with using energy markets that do not rely strictly on the system that uses a quota for coal power, but encourages competition for long-term contracts to deliver coal-based electricity, while creating additional markets for flexible operation.

Such market mechanisms could prove beneficial to renewable energy sources, principally wind and solar power. As Karplus concludes: "Our work shows the value of continuing these reforms, including introducing markets and relaxing the administrative constraints ... for China's ability to utilize its present and future wind capacity to the fullest."

Story Source:

The above post is provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The original item was written by Peter Dizikes


$2.99 per Watt Solar Breaks the $3.00 Threshold

Stellar Solar, one of California's leading commercial and residential solar installers since 1998 is now offering residential solar at $2.99 per watt, their first move of several that will cut the cost of going solar by up to 30% in most cases and enable more homeowners than ever to power their homes by the sun.


Kent Harle, CEO of Stellar Solar and the driving force behind the move, had this to say about the price reduction:

"This is not a loss leader or some scam to lure people in – such as the fictitious rebates or cash-back offers that are so prevalent in our industry.  This is our new way of doing business.  We have streamlined our processes and product offerings and worked hard to over the past 12 months to increase our margins, which now gives us the ability to lower our prices.  Our new model will allow us to maintain our fast growth, gain market share, and increase profits through volume. For the Solar Industry to thrive we need to expand beyond the early adaptors – only a small percentage of San Diego homeowners have installed solar.  To do so we need to continue to drive down costs while increasing the reliability and the professionalism of our installations."

He added, "Henry Ford drove the retail price of the Model T down to $389 in a time when most automobiles cost on average over $1,000 and in return was rewarded with nearly 50% market share against nearly 1800 other car manufacturers in the US. The solar industry is in a similar scenario. We grew nearly 100% last year but realized that to continue that growth we need solar to be within reach of a higher percentage of homeowners. In addition to lower pricing, we offer 30-day installation to speed up the process. We have also made internal improvements in all areas to handle the volume that's been created as a result of this move. From marketing, to sales, design, permitting and installation, we are fully equipped as a company to grow another 100% this year and are well on our way."


Pedaling Towards Sustainability with Recyle -A - Bike

Photo: Community engagement with a workshop on bicycle repair

As we continue to celebrate and profile sustainability and sports, we visited a small business in Providence, Rhode Island that is showing how the sport of bicycling can turn into a positive model of community engagement that touches the three pillars of sustainability.

This past Saturday, RNN stopped in at Recycle-A-Bike and had a first hand look at a business that was started back in 2011, that balances community education, recycling/refurbishing, and a business model that is not only green friendly, but is truly socially responsible. The first thing we noticed on our arrival was the friendly engagement of the staff. We came unannounced with three bikes to donate and were greeted by Gregory Sankey, shop manager who, with a smile, helped us to unload the bikes and review their condition as they brought them into their workshop. As we entered the shop we noticed workshops happening where people from the community were getting hands-on training on how to re-build and maintain bikes by both professional mechanics and volunteers. One volunteer that we chatted with was James Bentsen, a retiree who once work in the telephone industry and now finds reward by giving back, he explained that being able to provide the help is not only something that gives to the student, but also provides him with a sense of accomplishment knowing that he’s making a difference. Bentsen also goes beyond just volunteering with the workshops but also provides guidance as he sits on their Board of Directors.

Recycle-A-Bike’s vision goes like this, “Valuable connections are made in our community shop among bicycle riders. By learning and sharing bike maintenance knowledge, people learn to believe in themselves and their community. Our programs make the simple technology of these pedal powered machines available to all with the help of the volunteer staff and general skill sharing.

Mobility on a bicycle is an expression of our freedom and equality! We encourage members of the public to participate in cycling as part of a healthy and active lifestyle – not just as a recreational activity, but also as a viable mode of transportation.”

From our perspective, this is a great small business model that truly reflects the difference made through authentic connections back into the community when engaging the principals of sustainability. Recycle-A-Bike is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and raises money through donations, educational classes, and the resale of recycled bikes. If you would like to learn more, or find out how to donate a bike, or make a donation just visit Recycle-A-Bike.

Wind Developer Signs MOU with HVDC Transmission Project to Develop up to 600 MW of New Wind Generation in Upstate New York


HVDC transmission developer Empire State Connector Corp. ("ESC" or the "Company") today announced that the Company has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Invenergy who is developing a portfolio of up to 600 MW of new Upstate New York wind energy generation projects that the ESC could deliver to downstate electricity customers. These wind generation projects represent approximately $1.2 billion of new economic development activity in Upstate New York for a total of $2.7 billion when combined with the $1.5 billion estimated construction cost of the ESC.

The MOU confirms Invenergy's intention to deliver competitively-priced renewable wind generation to customers in New York City on the Empire State Connector transmission project, which could be an important step in implementation of the 50% by 2030 Clean Energy Standard under consideration by the New York State Public Service Commission. The MOU is yet another important step towards the commercial viability of the Empire State Connector project and the economic value of upstate New York renewable energy.

Invenergy, North America's largest independent renewable power generation company, is a US-based company with industry leading experience building wind energy facilities. Invenergy and its affiliated companies have developed more than 13,700 MW of projects that are in operation, in construction, or under contract, including wind, solar and natural gas-fueled power generation projects and energy storage facilities in the U.S. Over 7,650 MW of these MW are wind generation located at 68 wind farms across the United States, Canada and Europe.

ESC is developing a 1,000 MW HVDC transmission project known as the Empire State Connector that will allow upstate generators to physically deliver energy and capacity directly into New York City via two submarine cables buried in the Erie Canal and the Hudson River. The underwater route will have minimal environmental impact and no visual impact. The innovative route will slice through existing transmission congestion that has plagued New York for years.  

"There exists strong interest in our proprietary transmission project as evidenced by this MOU," said John Douglas, CEO of ESC. "Once our formal solicitation is completed this summer, we look forward to entering into binding service agreements with generators like Invenergy interested to capitalize on our proprietary low impact route. Our private sector solution will help New York State fund other important priorities like education and housing."

"Invenergy is always looking for innovative ways to solve the energy challenges that face our customers and our communities. The ESC represents that opportunity with an experienced team who have a proven track record," said James J. Murphy, Vice President, Business Development at Invenergy. "Upstate New York represents a viable and affordable solution for New York to achieve its Clean Energy Standard to become 50 percent renewable by 2030. Invenergy looks forward to making New York's Clean Energy Standard a reality."

Solar Powering Local Food Production

The distance from field to fork can add significantly to the carbon footprint of food. This US company is addressing the food miles issue and using solar power to help its efforts.

Gotham Greens is leading the way in urban agriculture and opened the first commercial scale rooftop greenhouse in the United States in 2011.

Today, it operates nearly 15,800 square metres of urban rooftop greenhouses across four sites in New York City and Chicago; all of which incorporate solar energy systems.

Its original Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NYC site boasts nearly 14,000 square metres of greenhouse space and produces  around 4.5 tonnes of leafy greens a year. Electricity consumption is offset by a 60kW array of solar panels.

Gotham Greens’ second rooftop greenhouse, also in Brooklyn, covers around 1,850 square metres and grows more than 9 tonnes of produce annually. This site features a 157kW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant and a 325kW solar PV system located in the parking lot.

The third site; in Hollis, Queens, New York City, is bigger again – around 5,500 square metres. It produces more than 5 million heads of fresh leafy greens each year.

The most recently opened facility is in Pullman, Chicago; on the roof of a factory. At nearly 7,000 square metres, it’s the world’s largest and most productive rooftop farm. In addition to solar panels, wind turbines also help provide clean electricity for its operations. As with its other facilities, power not generated on-site is supplied through green electricity sourced from a utility.

This facility is expected to grow approximately 453 tonnes of produce a year. For Pullman residents, it means ultra-fresh (if somewhat more expensive) produce. Items are often available in local stores and farmers’ markets harvested and packaged on the same day.

A portion of the Pullman facility’s output is donated to Chicago’s Food Depository, a nonprofit food distribution and training center.

Gotham Greens says its irrigation methods use 20 times less land and 10 times less water than convention agriculture, as well as eliminating the need for pesticide use there’s zero fertilizer runoff.

There’s another big bonus accompanying these projects – jobs. Gotham Greens has made a point of establishing facilities in areas suffering under high unemployment levels.

GMO Safety Testing Market Worth

1.99 Billion USD by 2020

Photo by: Lindsay Eyink

The report "Genetically Modified Food Safety Testing Market by Trait (Stacked, Herbicide Tolerance, Insect Resistance), Technology (Polymerase Chain Reaction, Immunoassay), Crop & Processed Food Tested, & by Region - Global Trend & Forecast to 2020," explains that the GM Food Safety Testing Market is projected to reach a value of USD 1.99 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 7.9% from 2015 to 2020.

The stacked trait segment is projected to be the fastest-growing market during the period 2015-2020

Stacked traits are a combination of more than one transgene in a single crop. Biofortified crops which are modified for the production of high nutritional content, HT with IR and disease-resistant traits are popular examples of stacked traits. The increased investments and growth in the R&D activities are responsible for the growth of this market.

Soy, corn, and bakery & confectionery products are largely tested for GMO in the food safety testing market

Among the crops and processed foods tested for GMO, crops accounted for the largest market share in 2014, dominated by corn and soy. The bakery & confectionery items are largely tested for GMO testing which include baking flours, breads, cakes, muffins, and other confectionery & baked goods. The market in breakfast cereals & snacks among processed foods is projected to grow at the highest CAGR due to the presence of a large amount of cereal grains and corn flakes. Food additives such as lecithin, vitamin E (tocopherol), and proteins from GM soybean are also largely tested for GMOs.

North America and EU regions to dominate the GM Food Safety Testing Market in 2015

The European region was the largest market for GM testing for safety in 2014. Countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the U.K, and other EU countries are major importers of soy, corn, canola, and other crops and processed foods. The countries in EU are stringent in GMO regulations which in turn results in vigorous testing of GMO for safety. North America is the major exporter of soy, corn & canola to the world which requires the conduction of tests for GMO labeling according to the importing country mandates. Brazil and Argentina are also the active countries for GM food testing for safety. Asia-Pacific countries are at the growth stage in this market. China is the major country followed by Japan, Korea, and Rest of Asia-Pacific.

This report includes a study of marketing and development strategies, along with the product portfolio of leading companies. It includes the profiles of leading companies such SGS S.A. (Switzerland), Intertek Group plc (U.K.), Eurofins Scientific SE (Luxembourg), Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (U.S.) Silliker, Inc. (U.S.), Romer Labs Division Holding GmbH (Austria), EMSL Analytical Inc. (U.S.), Genetic ID NA, Inc. (U.S.), OMIC USA Inc. (U.S.), and IFP (Institut fur Produktqualitat GmbH) (Germany).

In terms of insights, this research report has focused on various levels of analyses industry analysis, market share analysis of top players, and company profiles, which together comprise and discuss the basic views on the competitive landscape, emerging & high-growth segments of the global GM Food Safety Testing Market, high-growth regions, countries, and their respective regulatory policies, government initiatives, drivers, restraints, and opportunities.

U.S. Electricity Generators

Face Further Revenue Loss


Already feeling the pinch of lower demand due in part to solar power uptake and energy efficiency, conventional U.S. electricity generators could be facing an additional USD $2 billion loss of revenue starting in a few years.

According to an article on Bloomberg , grid managers serving the eastern U.S. plan to reduce

expenditure on electricity purchases from conventional generators by approximately 1,400 megawatts – enough to fully power 780,000 households – starting in 2019.

The Bloomberg news item draws on a report by power industry consultant ICF International Inc.

In 2015, revenue from electricity sales in the U.S. fell 1.3 percent to $388.1 billion and almost 18,000 megawatts of conventional generation was retired.  However, 7,286MW of solar PV was installed across the nation last year – the largest annual total ever.

A predicted 16 gigawatts of capacity – around 61.5 million solar panels –  will be installed in the U.S. this year; representing year-over-year growth of 119%.

By 2021, the U.S. solar market may eclipse a cumulative total of 100 GW, with an annual installation rate of 20 GW or more. While a significant chunk of this activity will be focused on utility-scale, residential PV will certainly continue to make its presence felt.

If the grids decide to factor in power from rooftop solar power systems in the future, it would constitute “a double punch on the conventional power plants,” says George Katsigiannakis, a principal at ICF.

Mr. Katsigiannakis also cautioned that too much reliance on solar may result in an unstable grid – a point of view that some may argue against; particularly with the energy storage revolution moving along at a fairly rapid clip.

And on that topic, in January ICF  also flagged that it was time for utilities to get cracking on addressing the impacts of energy storage.

“The critical question is no longer whether storage on the distribution and customer side of the grid is going to fulfill its promise,” states a white paper from the firm.

“Rather, our industry needs to begin to shift the debate away from the potential and focus on the longer view questions of ownership and placement of the systems.”

That white paper, Utilities and Storage: Will Optimizing on Resiliency Pull Storage Back from the Edge of the Grid?, can be downloaded here.

The writing on the wall regarding losses mounting for conventional electricity generators has been visible for some time. Last year, a report by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) said customer load defection could erode utility annual energy sales in north-east USA by as much as ~10–20% in 2020, jumping to as much as ~50–60% by 2030.

Cannabis $100B by 2029! But is it truly GREEN?

The emerging cannabis industry has attracted the attention of leading venture capital and investment banking firms, including Ackrell Capital, whose principals have been involved in domestic and international transactions totaling more than $50 billion. With numbers like this there is no question this is becoming an industry, and what ever side of the moral debate you fall on regarding the legalization of marijuana it would be naive not to consider how this industry is going to be managed, and regulated.

Our question, and we pose this to our audience. “Can the cannabis industry become a model for advancing sustainable practices, from the environment, socially, and those working in it, economically?”

One company that we’re reviewing is Chalice Farms, which growing quickly.

Chalice Farms, LLC of Portland, Oregon has emerged as a leading enterprise from the multitude of cannabis businesses in America.

In late 2014 Chalice Farms closed a first-round $10M equity funding, which set a new benchmark within the industry. And now Chalice Farms is projecting a ten-fold increase in its year over year revenue growth, and is on track for $10M in revenue for 2016.

Unique in the cannabis industry, Chalice's fully-integrated business model encompasses proprietary and leading brand-name products, lower production costs, standardization, quality-control and distribution, while leveraging the affordability of labor in Oregon.

Chalice Farms products have already found favor with consumers having captured the coveted DOPE Magazine 'People's Choice Award' and a handful of other awards at that annual event, as well as capturing two first places in the annual Oregon Medical Marijuana Cup.

In developing the 'Top100' report, Ackrell Capital assessed named companies by numerous metrics, including but not limited to, momentum, brand equity and recognition, funding, management team and business plan.

"We were excited and honored when we heard from a Portland-based VC that Chalice Farms was listed on Ackrell's Top 100," said William E. Simpson III, Founder and President of Chalice Farms.

Renewable Now has reached out to Chalice Farms and have invited them to join us on Peter Arpin’s Business Side of Green radio show to get a sense if they are embracing sustainability in their business model and if so how. We are also reaching out to the Emerald Grower's Association is a Northern California collective that advances policies for a sustainable cannabis industry to learn more about their organization and how they are advocating for this industry.

Innovative Solar Financing for Nonprofits


More than 80,000 nonprofits and houses of worship have a new path to reduce utility bills using PACE financing with third-party ownership.

Has your place of worship considered embracing clean energy? Well here is a success story that may inspire you to consider the road to clean energy.

Figtree Financing recently funded a PACE-financed prepaid Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for a large San Diego church solar project that will serve as the model to generate millions of dollars in savings for nonprofits and houses of worship across California. Figtree is an emerging leader in offering innovative solar financing that lets nonprofits monetize tax credits and depreciation that they cannot utilize.   

A prepaid PPA financed through the PACE program is a new product enabled by California Assembly Bill 1883 that Figtree helped get legislated. Using this option, the California church's 292 kW installation will save an estimated $2 million over the life of the system. Much of this savings is attributable to this new financing that enables nonprofits to save up to 30 percent of system costs by having Figtree bring in a third-party owner that can take advantage of tax credits combined with the simple underwriting criteria of Figtree's PACE program.

"Every dollar that a mission-based nonprofit saves on utility costs by going solar is a dollar that can be used to further advance the organization's goals of helping the local community.  This is just one of the reasons we are thrilled to introduce this option for nonprofits and houses of worship throughout California," said Mahesh Shah, CEO, Figtree Financing. "This low-cost method of saving on monthly utility bills also provides a path to ownership through innovative solar financing. We are experiencing growing interest in commercial PACE and are moving the industry in new directions."

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 80,000 nonprofits and houses of worship in California alone. Since nonprofits typically cannot monetize tax credits, they can potentially benefit from this new financing. Small businesses, Real Estate Investment Trusts, and private schools and universities are also eligible for PACE-financed prepaid PPAs. Figtree can finance projects as small as $100,000 up to $10 million through this program. It also includes third-party responsibility for providing solar production guarantees and managing the operations and maintenance of the system throughout the life of the prepaid PPA.

Want to own your own solar powered business?


Innovative Solar Systems, LLC has just announced that the company has a portfolio of "Shovel Ready" solar farm projects for immediate sale that total 250MW's. These projects range in size from 5MW all the way up to 50MW and are located in South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama. ISS continues to be a leader in the design and development of Utility Scale Solar Farms here in the United States and currently has a revolving pipeline of approximately 5 Gigawatts (GW) of projects in early stage development phases for the next 12 to 24 months. ISS CEO and spokesman John E. Green stated that the company is also very excited to be developing one of the largest projects to ever be built in the U.S., a project that will be 750MW in capacity and located in the Western U.S.

Investors are seeing huge returns on solar farm projects now that the all-in build costs have come down considerably over the last year. The advent of single axis trackers have also enabled investors to gain about a 25% increase in energy harvest on these projects which also adds greatly to IRR's states ISS. Innovative Solar Systems, LLC is currently seeking groups of potential investors that want to be involved with financing early stage development of the ISS pipeline for 25%-50% returns as well as supplying bridge capital and late stage financing since the larger profits in solar farm projects are typically derived from financing the projects to full commissioning at which time the project is then usually sold for full retail to investment groups like Berkshire, Black Stone, Black Rock and the like.

What's also nice is that ISS is helping to grow the Green Economy as they continue to grow and those who may be interested in a job may want to reach out to them.

Innovative Solar Systems, LLC is expanding like mad and will be filling three new key positions this week, while still searching for more seasoned veterans to add to the ISS Team with experience the in the areas of Finance, ITC Deal Structure, Project Sales and Business Development. ISS offers some of the best salaries and profit share plans in the industry. For more information on the companies projects for sale, investment options with ISS or to submit a resume please contact the company directly at (828)-215-9064.

World's First Solar Powered Smart  Fabric


ThermalTech introduced its patented solar powered smart fabric.  Made from stainless steel yarn, the ThermalTech fabric is lightweight and gathers energy from the sun or artificial light to keep the body warm even after the sun has set.  Providing warmth without the bulk found in traditional outerwear apparel, the ThermalTech fabric allows for a lighter and more fashionable look, even when in the cold outdoors.
ThermalTech's technology takes a proactive approach to warmth. Whereas most coats and jackets are designed to recycle body heat and slowly warm a person up, the ThermalTech fabric soaks up energy from indoor and outdoor light to bring warmth to the wearer within minutes. The fabric's technology generates up to 10°C/18°F of heat gathered from the sun or artificial light in just two minutes, even when it's cold outside.
The first use of this fabric will be a jacket available in three different styles for both men and women for use in a variety of outdoor activities - Street is fashion inspired, offered in dark blue and green; Explorer is designed for casual, every day use and comes in light blue and red and Extreme is intended for outdoor sports and consumers have the choice of black or gray.

The Extreme and Explorer styles are perfect for staying warm in any outdoor setting or situation; from snowboarding to commuting to work in the winter.  People hitting the slopes will be able to say goodbye to two to three pounds of weight and bulk without sacrificing warmth. The Street jacket allows even the most discerning fashionista to keep warm without compromising their style.

"We believe that by introducing this solar-absorbing fabric into the apparel marketplace, the next generation of outerwear will provide the consumer with even more of an optimal temperature & fit," said Carlos Cortes, CEO of ThermalTech.  "This will allow everyone from the snowboarder to the fashionista to be warmer in colder climates."

The ultra-thin stainless steel mesh fabric threads are strong yet lightweight and breathable, lending to extended lifetime use while reducing the weight typically found in heat-storing materials added to most outerwear. The fabric is easily embedded in any clothing style, from jackets to pants and is machine washable.

"We are very excited to bring this technology to market," said Fatima Rocha, Co-founder of ThermalTech.  "Our goal is to help people stay warm in any environment without having to sacrifice fashion and comfort."

Enormous blades could lead to more

offshore energy in US


Todd Griffith shows a cross-section of a 50-meter blade, which is part of the pathway to the 200-meter exascale turbines being planned under a DOE ARPA-E-funded program. The huge turbines could be the basis for 50-megawatt offshore wind energy installations in the years ahead.

A new design for gigantic blades longer than two football fields could help bring offshore 50-megawatt (MW) wind turbines to the United States and the world.

Sandia National Laboratories' research on the extreme-scale Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) is funded by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program. The challenge: Design a low-cost offshore 50-MW turbine requiring a rotor blade more than 650 feet (200 meters) long, two and a half times longer than any existing wind blade.

The team is led by the University of Virginia and includes Sandia and researchers from the University of Illinois, the University of Colorado, the Colorado School of Mines and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Corporate advisory partners include Dominion Resources, General Electric Co., Siemens AG and Vestas Wind Systems.

"Exascale turbines take advantage of economies of scale," said Todd Griffith, lead blade designer on the project and technical lead for Sandia's Offshore Wind Energy Program.

Sandia's previous work on 13-MW systems uses 100-meter blades (328 feet) on which the initial SUMR designs are based. While a 50-MW horizontal wind turbine is well beyond the size of any current design, studies show that load alignment can dramatically reduce peak stresses and fatigue on the rotor blades. This reduces costs and allows construction of blades big enough for a 50-MW system.

Most current U.S. wind turbines produce power in the 1- to 2-MW range, with blades about 165 feet (50 meters) long, while the largest commercially available turbine is rated at 8 MW with blades 262 feet (80 meters) long.

"The U.S. has great offshore wind energy potential, but offshore installations are expensive, so larger turbines are needed to capture that energy at an affordable cost," Griffith said.

Barriers remain before designers can scale up to a 50-MW turbine -- more than six times the power output of the largest current turbines.

"Conventional upwind blades are expensive to manufacture, deploy and maintain beyond 10-15 MW. They must be stiff, to avoid fatigue and eliminate the risk of tower strikes in strong gusts. Those stiff blades are heavy, and their mass, which is directly related to cost, becomes even more problematic at the extreme scale due to gravity loads and other changes," Griffith said.

He said the new blades could be more easily and cost-effectively manufactured in segments, avoiding the unprecedented-scale equipment needed for transport and assembly of blades built as single units.

The exascale turbines would be sited downwind, unlike conventional turbines that are configured with the rotor blades upwind of the tower.

SUMR's load-alignment is bio-inspired by the way palm trees move in storms. The lightweight, segmented trunk approximates a series of cylindrical shells that bend in the wind while retaining segment stiffness. This alignment radically reduces the mass required for blade stiffening by reducing the forces on the blades using the palm-tree inspired load-alignment approach.

Segmented turbine blades have a significant advantage in parts of the world at risk for severe storms, such as hurricanes, where offshore turbines must withstand tremendous wind speeds over 200 mph. The blades align themselves to reduce cantilever forces on the blade through a trunnion hinge near the hub that responds to changes in wind speed.

"At dangerous wind speeds, the blades are stowed and aligned with the wind direction, reducing the risk of damage. At lower wind speeds, the blades spread out more to maximize energy production." Griffith said.

Moving toward exascale turbines could be an important way to meet DOE's goal of providing 20 percent of the nation's energy from wind by 2030, as detailed in its recent Wind Vision Report.

As Electric Car Use Grows in Japan, So Does The Business of Solar Recharging Stations


More than 740,000 electric cars were on the road across the world by early 2015*2, with the U.S., Japan and China among the top markets — and the U.S. leading the world with more than 11,000 recharging stations*3. In Japan, the government is aiming to increase the ratio of EVs and PHVs to 15-20% by 2020*4 and is promoting the expansion of charging facilities for next-generation vehicles. In conjunction with this project, Kyotango City is adding recharging stations at multiple convenient public sites for tourists and residents who rent or own EVs and PHVs.

Kyocera’s solar recharging stations provide an ideal configuration for independent power production to help with emergency situations as well as daily electric vehicle charging. The two stations for this project, installed by Ostem Co., Ltd., each include a 3.2kW Kyocera solar power generating system, standard charger, 30kW Nichicon quick charger and 7.2kW Nichicon battery storage system. In addition, the stations are equipped with LED lighting and disaster control boxes which include an emergency power strip, radio, flashlight and work gloves.

During normal operation, electricity generated by solar modules assists the commercial grid in powering the standard charger, and is also sent to the storage system for LED lighting at night. In times of disaster, the solar-generated electricity saved in the storage system powers the disaster control box in addition to powering LEDs at night. By operating off-grid during disasters, the stations will enable the community to charge devices such as mobile phones during power outages.

Has America Fallen Behind on
Offshore Wind Power?


University of Delaware faculty from the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), the College of Engineering and the Alfred Lerner School of Business and Economics say that the U.S. has fallen behind in offshore wind power.

The UD professors, who are all affiliated with UD's Center for Carbon Free Power Integration (CCPI), reported their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Titled "The Time Has Come for Offshore Wind Power in the U.S.," the paper asserts that while offshore wind turbines have been successfully deployed in Europe since 1991, the U.S. is further from commercial-scale offshore wind deployment today than it was in 2005.

"As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, it is disheartening to see that while land-based wind and solar have reached new heights, U.S. offshore wind has remained a missed opportunity," says the paper's lead author, Jeremy Firestone, who is a professor in CEOE's School of Marine Science and Policy and directs CCPI.

Collectively, Firestone and his UD colleagues have decades of experience in offshore wind power research, teaching and policy advice.

Firestone contends that regulatory, tax and finance policy and planning changes, as well as a refocused research effort, are required to advance U.S. offshore wind development.

Offshore wind development, he says, is currently predicated on a model originally developed for offshore oil. But while offshore oil can be sold to refineries throughout the U.S. and its price is influenced by global markets, electricity from renewable energy such as offshore wind is tied to local markets and is part of a regional grid system.

"Electricity markets are different than oil and gas, it's like trying to put a square peg in a round hole," says Firestone.

Tax policy and financial incentives, including long-term tax credits for implementation, he continues, are important with projects like offshore wind, which are very capital intensive, as are loan guarantees.

Offshore wind power has tremendous potential to help the U.S. reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. By displacing coal and natural gas, offshore wind will reduce health costs and contribute to improved air quality and reduced climatic impacts.

Other motivations for offshore wind development include creating local manufacturing and other jobs, reducing common air pollutants, providing energy security and price stability, and improving U.S. economic competitiveness.

To help overcome current barriers to offshore wind implementation, the UD professors also advocate that research focus on impediments specific to the U.S.

"Given that research dollars are limited, it is important to target those funds to areas that will result the greatest value-added to the United States," Firestone says.

For example, the United States experiences more extreme wind and wave loading due to hurricanes and northeasters, as well as icing in the Great Lakes areas, creating U.S. specific research opportunities.

Similarly, research aimed at better understanding the wind regime specific to the Atlantic Ocean's Mid-Atlantic Bight -- how windy it is and where -- will provide important information about how much power can be generated in different segments of the ocean, which in turn affects prices that people would have to pay.

Social and cultural concerns of coastal residents also can impede offshore wind power development progress.

"Individuals often have deep and meaningful experiences with the ocean and long-standing ties to coastal communities, and as a result, may be resistant to changes to the coastal landscape. Attention also should be devoted to research that seeks to understand these social and cultural barriers to change," Firestone notes.

Story Source: by University of Delaware

American Wind Power Capacity Tops 70GW


Enough wind turbine capacity is now installed in the USA and Puerto Rico to supply more than 19 million typical American homes with clean, cheap electricity.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the 70GW installed capacity mark was achieved in November.

“This American wind power success story just gets better. There’s now enough wind power installed to meet the equivalent of total electricity demand in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the AWEA.

“Wind energy is the biggest, fastest and cheapest way we can cut carbon pollution here in the U.S., and as wind power grows, so will savings for American families and businesses all across the country.”

Like the solar industry, the USA’s wind energy sector is in particularly good spirits at the moment after an extension of the ITC, which is a 30 percent tax credit for eligible wind, solar and energy storage projects. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) was also extended.

There are now 50,000 operating wind turbines at more than 980 utility-scale wind farms across 40 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. The cost of wind-generated electricity in the USA has fallen by two-thirds in six years.

More than 13,250 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity is currently under construction, with another 4,100 MW of projects in advanced stages of development.

The U.S. has still only developed a tiny proportion of its wind energy potential. Land-based wind energy resources alone stack up to more than 10,000,000 megawatts – enough to power the entire country 10 times over. With offshore wind energy potential added in, wind power could generate enough electricity to power the country 13 times over.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s recent Wind Vision report, wind energy is set to double from nearly five percent of U.S. electricity currently to 10 percent by 2020, and then double again to 20 percent by 2030. If that target is realised, 380,000 jobs may be created in the process.

AWEA is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry, with 1,000 member companies.

Corvette Going Solar


GM’s Corvette production is about to get a tad greener with a little help from solar power.

The company announced earlier this week it will soon make a start on the installation of an 850-kilowatt solar array at Bowling Green Assembly in Kentucky, home of the Chevrolet Corvette.

The system will generate approximately 1.2 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually, enough to produce about 850 Corvette vehicles.

The Corvette is somewhat of an iconic vehicle; often referenced in popular culture. Since it was introduced in 1953,  the Corvette has been mentioned in many songs; including tunes from The Beach Boys, Tom Waits, John Mellencamp, Rod Stewart, Grateful Dead and of course Prince (although used very, very metaphorically in the latter).

Leveraging this musical popularity, a Corvette billboard campaign in 2002 used the slogan “they don’t write songs about Volvos.”

While it may not be as green as a Chevrolet Volt, the Corvette reportedly achieves an estimated 29 mpg highway rating (around 7.8 litres per 100 kms); the most efficient sports car on the market according to the company.

GM is getting into solar in a big way. Soon it will have added another 2 megawatts of solar panels to its facilities and with all this in place, the company will have a US-based solar capacity of 11.4 megawatts and 48 megawatts globally at 22 facilities.

As mentioned yesterday,  GM is now the USA’s top ranking automotive company in terms of solar uptake according to the  Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA’s) Solar Means Business report. GM ranked at no.21 nationally (with 6.7MW at the time the stats were compiled); ahead of Toyota ranked equal 25th.

GM was also a founding buyer in the Business Renewables Center, a Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) initiative that aims to add another 60 gigawatts of wind and solar power throughout the USA by 2025.

According to a 2014 document, GM has also committed to having 500,000 vehicles on the road in the U.S.  with some form of electrification by 2017 and will double the number of U.S. models that can achieve an EPA-estimated 40 mpg (highway) or better by the same year. The company says it will reduce energy and carbon intensity from its facilities by 20 percent by 2020.

Heineken: Brewing A Sustainable Future


The Göss brewery, whose origins date back to the 11th century, when beer was already brewed in the monastery that still stands adjacent to the brewery, played host to a milestone event on the journey to becoming the first CO2-neutral brewery in HEINEKEN. Already one of the most efficient breweries when it comes to water usage and energy consumption, the team in Göss have set themselves an ambition to develop sustainable solutions even where they don’t currently exist.

Gösser is brewed with only natural ingredients, all sourced from within Austria. The environment is therefore particularly important, to ensure sustainable supply for the future. Recognising that the brewery itself has an important role to play in making sure its operations have a minimum impact on its environment, the team led by Brew Master Andreas Werner continue to look for new solutions. They drive efficiencies, introduce new technologies and make the entire production process future-proof wherever they can. Looking for ways to drastically reduce the brewery’s reliance on fossil fuels used for heating water, the team has worked with several scientific partners for a number of years to develop the leading CO2-neutral brewery in Europe. An important milestone on this journey was celebrated on 18 September with the official start-up of the new solar plant, at a ceremony attended by representatives from the Austrian ministry of Innovation, the Monta University of Leoben - the most important technical university of Austria - and many other guests.

The solar plant occupies an area of around 1,500 m² and will generate part of the heat required for the brewing process in the brew house. Around 40% of the brewery's heat requirement was already met from waste heat discharged from a neighbouring saw mill, and 90% of the waste heat generated in the brewing process is used to heat water.

"We are aware of the huge responsibility we bear for the environment, society, customers, consumers and employees. Beer is a natural product. It is made of raw materials which depend on a healthy environment. Therefore, in addition to our commitment to employees and society, we also set great store by environmental protection and mitigation of climate change," said Markus Liebl, CEO of Brau Union Österreich (BUÖ).

The expertise in brewing beer without fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) which the Göss brewery has developed with this project is also being put to use in Brau Union Österreich’s other breweries. But even beyond our own breweries, the team is keen to enable as many beer brewers as possible to reduce their environmental impact. They have compiled an industry guide incorporating the key findings and results are also presented at conferences such as that of the Federation of Austrian Master Brewers and Brewery Technicians. After all, the more beer that is produced by using fuels without any CO2 -emissions, the better for the environment of the future. 

Domestic Offshore Wind Industry Potential, 21 Projects Planned in U.S. Waters

The Energy Department released a new report showing strong progress for the U.S. offshore wind market—including the start of construction of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm, one of 21 projects totaling 15,650 megawatts (MW) in the planning and development pipeline. Of these 21 U.S. projects, 13 projects totaling nearly 6,000 MW—enough to power 1.8 million homes—are in the more advanced stages of development, while 12 projects with more than 3,300 MW planned have announced a commercial operation date by 2020. With 80% of the nation’s electricity demand coming from coastal states, offshore wind could play a crucial role in meeting our energy needs.

American developer DEEPWATER WIND —leveraging 25 years of European technical knowledge, as well as U.S. manufacturing and installation expertise—began construction of the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island this spring. The 30-MW project is expected to be operational by fall 2016. In addition to Rhode Island, offshore wind projects in eight other states are also in the advanced stages of development.

The 2014-2015 U.S. Offshore Wind Technologies Market Report finds that offshore wind projects continue to trend farther from shore and into increasingly deeper waters. Continuing to increase in size, the average offshore wind turbine installed in 2014 had a 377-foot-diameter rotor on a 279-foot-tall tower. The average capacity of offshore wind turbines installed in 2014 was 3.4 MW (compared with 1.9 MW for land-based turbines). Last year also marked the first deployment of an 8-MW prototype, and a number of turbines rated between 6 MW and 8 MW have been ordered for pending projects. By siting projects farther from shore where they can access stronger, more consistent winds, combined with technology improvements and larger turbines, developers have increased their turbines’ capacity factors, meaning each wind turbine can generate more energy.

The study’s authors expect this year to become a record year for global offshore wind deployments, with 3,996 MW of capacity on track to begin operations. In the first half of 2015, the industry commissioned 1,190 MW of this capacity, bringing the total current installed capacity to 8,990 MW worldwide.

Apple's Chinese Solar Project


Apple has announced the completion of a major solar project and its intentions to have more constructed.

Apple stated construction on 40 megawatts of solar PV in the Sichuan Province of China is now complete and will produce up to 80 million kilowatt-hours per year of clean energy. This is more than the total amount of electricity consumed by Apple’s China offices and retail stores; making the company’s operations in the country carbon-neutral.

Apple also announced plans to build more than 200 megawatts of solar projects in the northern, eastern and southern grid regions of China; which will begin to offset the energy used in Apple’s supply chain.

he company will also be driving its manufacturing partners to go solar; aiming for installations of more than 2 gigawatts of new clean energy in the years ahead.

One of the manufacturing partners in the initiative is Foxconn,  which will construct 400 megawatts of solar by 2018. Foxconn has pledged to generate as much clean electricity as its Zhengzhou factory uses in the final production of iPhone.

Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and the time for action is now,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The transition to a new green economy requires innovation, ambition and purpose. We believe passionately in leaving the world better than we found it and hope that many other suppliers, partners and other companies join us in this important effort.”

In addition to its efforts in China, Apple says 100 percent of its operations the USA and 100 percent of its data centers are powered by renewable energy, and more than 87 percent of its worldwide operations.

More than 80 percent of electricity used in Apple’s co-located data facilities is matched with renewable energy generated within the same state in the case of the USA, or within the same country for those elsewhere.

Next year will see the completion of Apple’s 130MW solar project in Monterey County, California. The solar farm will generate enough electricity to power Apple Campus 2, all its other California offices, all 52 retail stores in the state and its data center in Newark.

Small Solar Lights, BIG Business and Growing


More than 13 million verified off-grid solar lights have been sold in developing countries, representing a new market now worth USD $300 million each year.

A new report to be released later this month will state just in Africa alone, 35 million rural dwellers have benefited from affordable solar lights.

The global market for solar lighting is huge as more than 1 billion people live without access to basic electricity services. These people mainly rely on dangerous, polluting and expensive kerosene lamps for lighting – often spending a significant proportion of household income on the fossil fuel. More than USD $30 billion is spent on kerosene each year.

These lamps are not only expensive to run – they are deadly. Hundreds of thousands of people are killed each year through fires started by the lamps and the toxic fumes lead to many more deaths cause by respiratory disease. It’s estimated the burning of kerosene lamps leads to the death of 1.5 million people every year.

Simple solar powered lights have a massive positive impact; providing increased security, better health and education outcomes and enabling enhanced productivity.

The potential to improve lives is phenomenal. Yet we’ve only just begun to address the enormous demand from households for affordable electrical services,” says Koen Peters, Executive Director of the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA).

GOGLA is an independent, not-for-profit association created to promote lighting solutions that benefit society and businesses in developing and emerging markets.

Findings from the report will be discussed at the 4th International Off-Grid Lighting Conference and Exhibition, to be held in Dubai from the 26th to the 29th of October. Professor Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, microfinance pioneer and founder of Grameen Bank and Grameen Shakti is keynote speaker at the event.

2015 is the UNESCO International Year of Light.

“.. the UN has recognized the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health,” states the organisation’s International Year of Light web site.

Many solar LED products and projects have been made available in the past few years with developing nations primarily in mind.

Walmart Increasing Wind Power


The world’s largest retailer has just taken a major step towards its goal of obtaining 100 per cent of its energy from renewable sources after signing an agreement to buy more than half the power generated by a Texas wind farm.

The company will purchase wind power produced by Pattern Energy’s recently completed 200 MW Logan Gap Wind Facility; located in Comanche County. The 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Pattern represents nearly 20 per cent of Walmart’s U.S. renewable energy goals.

Walmart has a goal to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, and sourcing from wind energy projects — like the Logan’s Gap Wind Facility — is a core component in the mix,” said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart.

The energy we’ll procure from this facility represents nearly one-fifth of the U.S. portion of our goal to source seven billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy by 2020. That’s a significant leap forward on our renewable energy journey.

That journey has seen Walmart become one of the USA’s largest investors in clean energy projects, particularly wind and solar power. The company was ranked third in this year’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Top 50 Green Power Partnership for renewable energy usage.

Walmart announced late last year SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE:SUNE) would be one of two firms to install up to 400 new solar power systems at Walmart sites across the USA.

Pattern’s Logan Gap wind facility will sell 75 percent of its energy to Walmart and an unnamed financial institution, with Walmart taking a 58 percent share. Consisting of 87 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines and with a total capacity of 200 MW, Logan’s Gap Wind will create enough clean energy to power 50,000 Texas homes.

We are pleased to be working with one of the leading corporations in the world as it acquires renewable energy and lowers its carbon footprint,” said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy. “We are increasingly partnering with America’s leading companies as they recognize that wind power, which continues to decline in cost, is both good for the environment and good for business.

LG Chem 2MWh

Battery Storage System Commissioned


LG Chem, one of the world’ s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturers, has supplied a 1 megawatt/2 megawatt-hour energy storage system for a solar power station in Cedartown, Georgia, USA.

A Southern Company and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) initiative, the project is evaluating the impacts of the energy storage system (ESS) in relation to load smoothing, peak shaving and voltage support. Associated research will also identify and bridge the gaps between current storage offerings and the foreseen potential of these systems.

The successful commissioning of this project is another example of LG Chem’s capability to collaborate in order to execute and deliver energy storage solutions for the market,” says the company.

Another recently announced EPRI project involving advanced battery systems is under way in Fontana, California. The net-zero energy home project will use batteries supplied by SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE: SUNE); developed in partnership with LG Chem.

Founded in 1947 originally as a cosmetics manufacturer, LG Chem began producing lithium-ion batteries in 1999.

Last year the company was selected as the supplier of lithium ion batteries for a 20MWh solar + storage project; which features a 20MWh battery system – a capacity equivalent to the daily electricity consumption of 4,000 households.

LG Chem is a quiet achiever in the energy storage sector. While its self-branded battery systems may not have the public awareness associated with products such as the heavily promoted Tesla Powerwall yet; LG Chem battery energy storage systems are expected to play a significant role in U.S. home battery revolution.

LG Chem’s lithium-ion batteries are often used by other manufacturers; for example in SMA’s Sunny Boy Smart Energy product, part of the Sunny Home Manager Flexible Storage System.

USA Reaches 20GW Installed Solar PV Capacity


The United States surpassed 20 gigawatts of operational solar photovoltaic capacity during the second quarter of this year and the residential sector broke another installation record.

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Q2 2015 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report says the USA installed 1,393 megawatts solar PV during Q2.

Residential solar had another record-breaking quarter, with 473 megawatts installed – 70 percent growth year-over-year and 6% over Q1 2015. 10 states installed more than 10 MW capacity in the second quarter of this year.

729 MW of utility-scale solar PV was made operational in the second quarter and 5GW is currently under construction. Q2 was the 9th consecutive quarter where the utility-scale PV sector added at least half a gigawatt capacity. The contracted utility PV pipeline currently sits at 16.6 GW.

The utility PV market continues to be the bedrock driver of new installation growth. And in the second half of this year through 2016, growth will reach new heights as a higher share of what comes online stems from projects procured purely based on centralized solar’s cost competitiveness,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research.

However, it wasn’t champagne all round. The non-residential sector continued to struggle – Q2 installed capacity was down 20% from Q1 2015 and down 33% from Q2 2014.

During the first half of this year, the US installed 2.7 GW of  solar panels, representing 40% of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the nation. 21 states can now boast than 100 MW of solar PV capacity.

At over 20 GW of installed solar electric capacity, we now have enough solar in the U.S. to power 4.6 million homes, reducing harmful carbon emissions by more than 25 million metric tons a year,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO.

Mr. Resch stated more 150,000 American solar jobs have been created since the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) incentive was launched in 2006.

By any measurement, that’s a success for both our economy and environment,” said Mr. Resch.

GTM and SEIA forecast solar PV installations will hit 7.7 GW in 2015, up 24 percent; with the most rapid growth to be seen in the residential market. With the end of the ITC next year, even more activity is expected in 2016, with the U.S. solar PV market expected to add 18 GW between July this year and December next year.

Smaller, Lighter Solar Inverters


SolarEdge Technologies, Inc. says its new HD-Wave inverter represents one of the most significant advances in solar technology in the past two decades.

The company states its HD-Wave technology reduces the size of the inverter’s magnetic components dramatically through the use of advanced digital processing. A reduction in the number of cooling components required has also been achieved. Among the design improvements are thin film capacitors and standard silicon switches.

HD-Wave will provide improved reliability and efficiency of 99%+ says SolarEdge; supplying more solar electricity at a lower cost.

A side-by-side comparison provided by the company shows the new HD-Wave inverter to be less than 50% the weight and volume of an equivalent string inverter.

Continued technological progress is required to make solar energy more competitive with fossil fuels,” said Guy Sella, CEO and Chairman of SolarEdge, “and inverters are the key component for accelerating the adoption of solar technology. We believe that our new HD-Wave technology is a significant milestone in the development of solar and further positions SolarEdge as a leader in a thriving industry.

Lior Handelsman, VP Marketing and Product Strategy of SolarEdge, says HD-Wave is akin to the transition from large glass tube TVs to flat-screens.

HD-Wave technology will be available from December this year – whether this includes the Australian market is unknown at this point. The company states it will officially unveil the first inverter powered by HD-Wave at Solar Power International in Anaheim, California; which is taking place September 14-17.

One of SolarEdge’s previous innovations is the Power Optimizer, which won the company the prestigious Intersolar 2012 Innovation Award.

In May this year, the company announced SolarEdge inverters will be upgradeable to be compatible with Powerwall – Telsa’s home battery energy storage product.

Interest in the development of smaller inverters was cranked up in 2014 after Google offered a million dollars for the best design of a solar inverter around the size of a notebook computer. Up to 18 finalists will be chosen to have their inverters tested next month. The winner of Google’s Little Box Challenge competition will be announced and the inverter unveiled in January next year.

$1 Billion In Clean Power Loan Guarantees


The U.S. Department of Energy has announced over one billion dollars (USD) in loan guarantees to fund the expansion of distributed clean energy systems in America, including $24 million for 11 specialised projects aimed at creating a new class of concentrated solar panel.

The funding will come from the DoE’s Loans Programs Office (LPO) as part of President Barack Obama’s new Clean Power Plan, which mandates U.S. States cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The LPO was established to help emerging distributed energy technologies such as rooftop photovoltaic (PV) energy systems, wind power plants and energy storage overcome market barriers to investment. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says the new funding will help accelerate the growth of America’s clean economy.

The announcements made today will help spur innovative clean energy technologies that will be central to the president’s Clean Power Plan and combat climate change,” said Secretary Moniz. “The Clean Power Plan is a tremendous opportunity for American businesses to be global leaders in solar and distributed energy technologies.

A specialised program called MOSAIC (Micro-scale Optimized Solar-cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration) will award 11 teams across America $24 million to develop innovations in solar technology to create a new class of highly efficient “flat-plate” rooftop solar panel.

MOSAIC solar panels use thousands of tiny lenses to concentrate light onto an array of PV cells to achieve higher solar-to-electricity conversion. Known as micro-scale concentrated PV, these small rooftop CPV systems produce far more energy than conventional solar modules according to the DoE.

This micro-CPV approach addresses the constraints of conventional CPV, which, while highly efficient, has not been widely adopted due to its high cost, large size, and expensive solar tracking systems. Project teams will address these limitations by developing innovative materials, micro-scale manufacturing techniques, panel architectures, and tracking schemes.

Solutions include a solar panel with built-in sun-tracking, such as Panasonic Boston Lab’s system – an array of lenses shifts according to the sun’s movements across the sky, ensuring the panel’s PV cells are always absorbing sunlight.

Another is California Institute of Technology’s new CPV panel for regions of low direct sunlight, which incorporates a luminescent solar concentrator sheet fabricated with quantum dots that enhances energy output by converting the high energy spectrum into light suitable for special wide bandgap micro PV cells sandwiched under the sheet. Additional low bandgap cells convert the remaining low-energy into electricity.

Germany Unveils Offshore Power Converter


ABB has announced the installation of DolWin beta, the world’s most powerful offshore converter station capable of supplying 1,000,000 homes with wind-sourced electricity.

Located in the North Sea 45 kilometers off the German coast, the 320-kilovolt converter station has a 916 megawatts power transmission capacity.

Part of the DolWin2 project, the converter station will connect offshore wind farms in the North Sea’s DolWin cluster with the German mains electricity grid. DolWin beta will convert the electricity generated by the offshore wind farms from alternating current (AC) into high-voltage direct current (HVDC).

HVDC is superior to AC for long-distance bulk power transmission for a number of reasons; for example, vast amounts of electricity can be transmitted over very long distances with low electrical losses.   It is the technology of choice for integrating renewable energy sources such offshore wind, desert solar or mountain-based hydropower.

The complete platform including substructure weighs around 23,000 tons and is approximately 100 meters long, 70 meters wide and 100 meters high.

After being shipped to its final location, the structure was anchored using a self-installing gravity-based structure (GBS) concept. The platform was slowly ballasted down to the seabed by filling the six columns of the structure with water and in the weeks ahead, the water will be replaced with gravel.

“Putting such a huge platform in place is one of the most delicate operations in the delivery of an offshore power link, requiring intensive pre-planning and cooperation between the stakeholders involved and we are pleased that this important project landmark has gone smoothly,” said Claudio Facchin, President, ABB Power Systems division.

DolWin2 is part of Germany’s “Energiewende” (Energy Transition), which forecasts more than 6.5 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 15 GW by 2030. Energiewende has been viewed favorably by the nation’s citizens. In October 2014, a survey found that 92 percent of the German public approve of the transition.

ABB says it has won around 100 HVDC projects since it pioneered the technology more than 60 years ago. These projects represent a total installed capacity of more than 120,000 MW – approximately half the world’s installed capacity.

The ABB Group of companies operates in approximately 100 countries and employs about 140,000 people. In Australia, ABB is probably best known for its solar inverters, a popular choice in local commercial and residential solar power installations.

The $2.2 Billion Deal

SunEdison To Acquire Vivint Solar

SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE: SUNE) and TerraForm Power (NASDAQ: TERP) have announced an agreement for the acquisition of Vivint Solar for USD $2.2 billion.

SunEdison has also entered into a definitive purchase agreement with a subsidiary of  its yieldco, TerraForm Power, which will acquire Vivint Solar’s rooftop solar portfolio consisting of the 523 megawatts PV capacity expected to be installed by the end of this year.

Additionally, TerraForm Power will acquire future completed residential and small commercial projects from SunEdison’s expanded residential and small commercial (RSC) business unit.

SunEdison’s existing RSC development business and the Vivint Solar team will be merged.

The rooftop solar portfolio is expected to add a growing, high-quality, long-term contracted and geographically diverse asset base to the SunEdison family of companies, strengthening one of the largest and highest-growth global renewable power platforms in the world,” says part of a SunEdison statement regarding the deal.

One of the USA’s leading providers of distributed solar solutions, Vivint Solar owns, installs, and maintains solar panels on its customers’ homes. Customers invest little to no money up-front; instead just paying for the electricity that the panels produce at a cheaper rate  than mains grid supplied power.

SunEdison’s acquisition of Vivint Solar is a logical next step in the transformation of our platform after the successful execution of our First Wind acquisition in January 2015,” said Ahmad Chatila, SunEdison chief executive officer and TerraForm Power chairman. ” As of the fourth quarter of 2015, our organic growth and recent acquisitions will put SunEdison on track to deploy more than 1 gigawatt per quarter.”

Under the merger agreement, which is subject to the usual approvals, Vivint Solar stockholders will receive USD $16.50 per share, consisting of $9.89 per share in cash, $3.31 per share in SunEdison stock, and $3.30 per share in SunEdison convertible notes.

SunEdison also announced revised 2016 annual guidance of 4,200 MW to 4,500 MW, a 50 percent jump from its previous forecast of 2,800 MW to 3,000 MW.

July has been another busy month for the world’s largest renewable energy developer and its yieldco. Also yesterday, SunEdison announced its wholly owned subsidiary, TerraForm Global, Inc., intends to commence an initial public offering of its Class A common stock today.

Last week, SunEdison and Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) inked a joint venture to finance and deliver 50 megawatts of energy storage for Southern California Edison (SCE).

Earlier in July, SunEdison stated TerraForm Power had signed an agreement to acquire net ownership of 930 megawatts of wind farms from Invenergy Wind LLC in a deal worth more that USD $2 billion.

Also this month, SunEdison announced the signing of an MoU with Gamesa for the development of up to 1 gigawatt of wind farms and the company also commenced construction of the 185MW Bingham Wind project in Maine, USA.

SunEdison/TerraForm Power Announce

$2 Billion Wind Acquisition

Another day, another major acquisition –  SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE: SUNE) has announced its yield, TerraForm Power (NASDAQ: TERP), has signed an agreement to acquire net ownership of 930 megawatts of wind farms from Invenergy Wind LLC.

The portfolio consists of seven contracted wind farms located in the United States and Canada with a weighted average remaining contract life of 19 years.

TerraForm Power continues to transform the energy landscape with our acquisition of Invenergy’s wind power portfolio,” said Carlos Domenech, TerraForm Power’s CEO.

The company intends acquiring net ownership of 460 MW of the wind farms from Invenergy with the remaining 470 MW to be acquired by a new warehouse facility, similar to that recently created by SunEdison for the acquisition of Atlantic Power’s wind assets.

TerraForm Power’s acquisition of the Invenergy wind plants leverages the power of SunEdison’s platform which was enhanced with our acquisition of First Wind in January of 2015,” said Ahmad Chatila, SunEdison CEO and TerraForm Power chairman.

Invenergy, the largest independent wind owner in the United States with approximately 6.6 gigawatts operating capacity and another 2.5 GW under construction or contract, will retain a 9.9 percent stake in the U.S. assets and will continue to provide some operation and maintenance services for the acquired facilities.

Clean power is driving our energy future, and this transaction will enable us to further invest in our industry-leading development pipeline and bring significantly more clean energy to market in the years ahead,” said Michael Polsky, Invenergy founder, president and CEO.

SunEdison says this acquisition won’t be the end of its dealings with Invenergy and sees significant opportunities for future collaboration and growth.

This deal is the third major wind power announcement from SunEdison and TerraForm Power this month – and we’re only two weeks into July. Last week, SunEdison and Gamesa announced the signing of an MoU for up to 1 gigawatt of wind farms to be developed around the world by 2018. Earlier last week, the company said it had commenced construction of the 185MW Bingham Wind project in Maine, USA.

SunEdison and Gamesa Partner

On 1GW Wind Venture

SunEdison (NYSE: SUNE) and Gamesa have announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that will see up to 1 gigawatt of wind farms developed around the world by 2018.

In what will be a 50/50 ownership venture, Gamesa will supply wind turbines, operations and maintenance, plus possibly engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services. Ownership will be shared during development and SunEdison will acquire the projects once they are completed. SunEdison will then place the plants on the call rights list of its yieldco, TerraForm Power.

SunEdison says it will also purchase additional wind turbines from Gamesa, the number of which will be determined by development volume targets met.

By partnering with Gamesa, one of the world’s leading wind technology and development companies, we’re particularly well positioned to capture the opportunity in India and Mexico, two regions where we already have a strong solar presence,” said Paul Gaynor, SunEdison executive vice president of the Americas and EMEA.

Gamesa says the partnership falls under its new Technology Development Programme; part of its 2015 – 2017 Business Plan. Under the Plan, the company projects 3,500-3,800 MW in 2017. It expects sales this year to be close to 3,100 MW.

The combination of both companies’ strengths would also unlock synergies and maximise project returns,” said Xabier Etxeberria, Gamesa’s chief executive officer.

A definitive agreement between the two companies is expected to be signed by the end this year.

Gamesa knows a thing or two about wind power. More than 31,200 MW of its turbines have been installed in 51 countries since it began production in 1994. Gamesa has also developed a number of wind farms itself – more than 6,400 MW globally.

It’s been another huge week for SunEdison; one that has seen it further confirm its standing as the world’s largest renewable energy developer.

The company had commenced construction of the 185MW Bingham Wind project in Maine, USA. On Wednesday the company inaugurated its 50MW Dammakhedi solar farm in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Earlier in the week, SunEdison announced completion of the acquisition of Atlantic Power’s 521-megawatt portfolio of operating wind farms.

Canada Breezes Past 10GW Wind Power Milestone

Canada has celebrated Global Wind Day by announcing it has become the 7th nation in the world to surpass 10,000 MW of installed wind power; enough to provide energy for over three million homes.

According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), the milestone was achieved after the June 10 commissioning of Ontario’s 270 MW K2 Wind Farm. 

More wind energy has been installed in Canada over the past five years than any other source of generation, including coal and gas. Three record years of investment growth in the sector has seen capacity increase by an average of 1,300 MW, or 24 per cent, each year. CanWEA president Robert Hornung believes 2015 is on track to break new records for new wind installations.

“Meeting the 10,000 MW milestone confirms that Canada is a global leader in wind energy development,” Hornung says. “Wind energy’s cost competitiveness, coupled with the fact that it produces no greenhouse gas emissions, means it is well positioned to continue its rapid growth as a mainstream contributor to Canada’s electricity supply.”

With wind farms providing power in every Canadian province, from Ontario to the Yukon, wind energy now contributes nearly five per cent of the country’s electricity needs, the equivalent of three million households.

CanWEA has calculated the benefit of wind power not just for the environment, but for Canada’s employment figures. It states that every 100 MW of new wind creates over 1,000 person-years of work during the construction phase of projects and 350 person-years of long-term work for operational and maintenance staff. Additionally, every megawatt of new wind added to capacity represents an investment of around $2 million.

“Wind energy is meeting Canada’s demand for new electricity in a clean, reliable and cost-competitive way,” says Hornung. “As concerns about global climate change grow, wind energy will also need to play a critical role in Canada’s transition to a more flexible and decentralized low carbon electricity system.”

Global Wind Day falls on the 15th June every year. An internationally coordinated action between the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the Global Wind Energy Council and national bodies, the day explores how wind power can reshape the world’s energy mix and help combat climate change.

US Residential Solar Installs Set New Record

1,306 MW of solar PV were installed in the USA during the first quarter of this year, the sixth consecutive quarter where the 1GW mark was exceeded.

According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Q1 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, residential solar was a standout performer; growing 76% compared to the first quarter of last year at 437 megawatts.

66,440 solar power systems were commissioned in Q1 2015. All told, there were close to 700,000 systems across the USA by the end of March.

“Q1 2015 provided a clear glimpse into the future role that the residential sector will play as a primary driver of not only solar market growth, but the overall electricity generation mix,” said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research.

Mr. Kann said GTM expects more than three million residential solar installations over the next five years.

Home solar power is still expensive in the USA compared to Australia, but prices are rapidly dropping. The average cost for a residential solar system in the U.S. is now 10 percent lower than this time last year.

The non-residential market installed 225 MW in the first quarter  and the utility segment installed 644 MW; the latter representing 49 percent of new PV capacity brought on-line during Q1.

GTM Research and SEIA forecast  7.9 GW of solar capacity in 2015, up 27 percent over 2014. The report notes 25 project developers, (including the world’s largest renewable energy developer, SunEdison), with pipelines in development of 100 MW or greater.

“Solar continues to be the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “By 2016, the U.S. will be generating enough clean solar energy to power 8 million homes.”

More solar than natural gas power generation came online during the first quarter and solar made up over half of all new electricity generation assets commissioned.

More of the Q1 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report .

IKEA Commits More Big Bucks

For Wind And Solar Power

Furnishing and homewares giant IKEA recently announced a further AUD $1.46 billion investment in renewable energy and assisting communities most impacted by climate change.

Of that figure, EUR 600 million (approximately AUD $874 million) will go towards renewables.

“Climate change is one of the world’s biggest challenges and we need bold commitments and action to find a solution,” said Peter Agnefjäll, President and CEO, IKEA Group.

“That’s why we are going all in to transform our business, to ensure that it is fit for the future and we can have a positive impact. This includes going 100% for renewable energy, by investing in wind and solar, and converting all our lighting products to affordable LED bulbs, helping many millions of households to live a more sustainable life at home.”

Approximately EUR500 million will spent on wind energy and around EUR 100 million will be invested in solar power.

Last year, the company generated renewable energy equivalent to 42% of its total consumption and says it is on track to be running on 100% renewables by 2020.

IKEA has installed over 700,000 solar panels to date, including REC Peak Energy solar modules, at some of its stores. IKEA has also started dabbling in wind power. Last year, the company purchased a 98-MW wind farm in Illinois and a 165-MW Texas wind facility.

Not including this latest commitment, IKEA Group has invested EUR 1.5 billion (approximately AUD $2.18 billion) in wind energy and solar power since 2009 and the company has already committed to own and operate 314 offsite wind turbines.

In addition to its own efforts internally, IKEA has also been pushing its suppliers to green up through its Suppliers Go Renewable project. The company says last year it achieved a 19% increase in energy efficiency and an 11% reduction in carbon emissions associated with its tier 1 home furnishing suppliers compared with FY12.

“We made great progress in FY14, but we’ve got a lot more to do,” said Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group in the company’s 2014 Sustainability Report. “We have a huge opportunity to make a positive difference for people and the planet, and when we all work together, there is no limit to what we can achieve.” MORE

Renewable Energy Employed 7.7 Million In 2014

The number of people employed in the renewable energy industry globally had grown by 18% last year according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

IRENA says more than 7.7 million people worldwide are now employed by the renewable energy sector.

Where once Europe and the USA dominated, the landscape has rapidly changed.  

In 2014, the solar PV sector accounted for 2.5 million jobs, two-thirds of which were in China.

The European Union and the United States represents 25 per cent of global renewable energy jobs currently, compared to 31 per cent in 2012.

However, the USA, ranked no.3, has still seen strong employment growth; with wind jobs increasing by nearly half and solar employment jumping by 22%. The US solar industry employed more than 173,000 people last year. While still very much dominated by male workers, the US renewable sector has also seen significant growth in the number of women working in the industry – growing from 26,700 to 37,500 last year.

Globally, wind power crossed the 1 million employed mark, with 1,027,000 jobs.

In the coming years, renewable energy employment growth will depend on the return to a strong investment trajectory, as well as on continued technological development and cost reductions,” states the report.

“Stable and predictable policies will be essential to support job creation.”

… and the lack of the latter is something Australian renewables sector has become all too familiar with thanks to the 15 month-plus battle over the nation’s Renewable Energy Target; an issue that may finally be soon put to rest and unlock investment – and jobs.

While not included in IRENA’s report, the renewables sector in Australia employed approximately 12,500 people in full time positions in 2013/14 – a drop of 15% since peaking at 14,890 in 2011/12.

This year, IRENA also conducted its first-ever global estimate of large hydropower employment and counted 1.5 million direct jobs in the sector.

IRENA’s Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2015 can be viewed in full here (PDF).

SunEdison Scores Major

South African Solar Project

Among a number of significant achievements  over the last week, SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE: SUNE), has been awarded an 86 megawatt solar photovoltaic project in South Africa.

The Droogfontein 2 solar PV facility will be situated 20 kilometres south of Kimberly in the Northern Cape Province and will produce enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 45,000 South African homes.

SunEdison says the project represents 20% of total solar capacity allocated to preferred bidders in the fourth round of South Africa’s Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Program.

”South Africa is one of the most attractive solar markets in the world, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Energy in future rounds of the Renewable Energy IPP procurement program, which is expected to deliver an incremental 6.3 gigawatts of projects,” said Enrique Collado, SunEdison General Manager for Africa.

Mr. Collado also stated SunEdison is committed to local communities where it operates in the nation.

“Through enterprise development, skills creation, and local procurement, we’re making sure that local people directly benefit from our projects,” he said.

Eskom will buy the solar electricity under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). State-owned Eskom generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and around 45% of the electricity consumed in the entire African continent.

SunEdison entered the South African market four years ago. To date, the company has developed and installed 130 MW of utility scale and commercial solar power around the nation. The addition of the Droogfontein 2 project makes SunEdison one of the leading solar providers in South Africa.

South Africa has been in the grip of an energy drought for some time, a hangover of the attempted privatisation of Eskom in the late 1990’s that saw requests for financial resources to build new stations being denied. However, from the ashes a solar and wind powered phoenix is rising that will play a crucial role in the nation’s much cleaner and more robust energy future.

In other recent SunEdison news, the company recently announced the interconnection of the 17.8 megawatt Solar Spirit and 17.9 MW DC Bruining solar power plants  in Ontario. Combined, the facilities will output enough energy for 4,000 Canadian households. Electricity generated will be provided to Canada’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) through a 20-year feed-in-tariff agreement.

SunEdison says it has now installed more than 250MW utility-scale and commercial solar capacity in Canada.

Also  recently, SunEdison acquired LightWing, a comprehensive solar platform solution for utilities and retail energy providers.

The company also announced the rolling out of a power purchase agreement (PPA) product for residential solar across seven US states and a deal with Evolve Solar – one of the USA’s largest residential solar resellers – to exclusively sell SunEdison solar products.

Lastly, but certainly not least, SunEdison announced last night it had acquired 757 MW of operating wind, solar and hydropower projects, and also secured 1,918 MW of Third Party Right of First Offer (ROFO) Projects.

SolarEdge Announces Tesla Powerwall Collaboration

Current owners of SolarEdge inverters will be pleased to learn their inverters will be upgradeable to be compatible with Powerwall – Telsa’s home battery energy storage product.

Yesterday, SolarEdge formally announced its collaboration with Tesla to develop a new Powerwall-compatible inverter; plus support for upgrading existing SolarEdge systems to work with the storage solution in a grid-connect scenario.

“Like SolarEdge, Tesla recognizes the need and opportunity to develop innovative solutions designed to lower the cost of solar energy and make clean, renewable energy more feasible for customers around the world,” said Lior Handelsman, Marketing and Product VP of SolarEdge.  

The new inverter will enable outdoor installation and will include remote monitoring and troubleshooting in order to keep operations and maintenance costs low says SolarEdge.

It’s understood the upgrade for current inverters and new SolarEdge inverter will be available later this year.

“Tesla’s collaboration with SolarEdge unites leading organizations in two rapidly-growing Industries – solar energy and energy storage – to bring homeowners a more cost-effective and integrated energy generation, storage, and consumption solution,” said JB Straubel, Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer.

Since commencing commercial shipments in 2010, SolarEdge has shipped approximately 1.3 gigawatts of its DC optimized inverter systems to more than 70 countries. The SolarEdge range of products includes power optimizers, a web portal for panel-level optimization and monitoring as well as PV inverters designed to work with its power optimizers. To date, more 5,000,000 power optimizers and 200,000 SolarEdge inverters have been shipped worldwide.

The Tesla Powerwall has been called a “utility killer” by some as it will enable households and businesses to further reduce their electricity bills and reduce reliance on mains grid power – or abandon the grid altogether. Whether it is a ‘utility killer’ or not, Powerwall heralds a new age of more affordable energy storage systems; making solar power systems an even more attractive investment.

EPIA Calls For Solar Anti-Dumping Tax Removal

The president of Europe’s leading solar industry group has called for the removal of anti-dumping taxes imposed on imports of solar products made in China, saying the countervailing duties have led to job losses and negative growth in the European solar market.

European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) president Oliver Schaefer made the comments this week at an international conference in Shanghai.

“EPIA is a strong supporter of free and fair trade and we would like to see trade relations between Europe and China, on solar modules and cells, return to normal undistorted, fair trade as soon as possible, when the duties and respective price undertaking expire in 2015.”

In December 2013, Europe applied countervailing duties in the form of a Minimum Import Price (MIP) and strict quotas on crystalline silicon modules and cells originating in or consigned from China. With the restrictions due to expire in December 2015, the EPIA is urging regulators to abandon the measures, which it believes is responsible for a slowdown in solar installations across the continent.

According to International Energy Agency figures released in March, Europe’s solar market fell by 30 per cent in 2014, achieving just seven gigawatts of around 40 GW installed worldwide. The EPIA estimates a solar workforce of 265,000 – the majority in the installation sector – has been halved since 2011.

The EPIA says a free market for solar would reflect the true cost of global solar products, increase innovation and development of technology and allow for much greater economies of scale in the European market, resulting in cheaper solar power for customers.

“The Board has agreed this position, as we believe that a return to a level playing field will help solar power in Europe to grow, and support the European electricity market in achieving its challenging emission reduction goals. Consumers will also be able to buy quality products manufactured at scale, at the best possible prices,” said Schaefer.

In addition to having a mission of shaping the regulatory environment to promote the growing market opportunity for solar in Europe, EPIA was also a founding Member of PV CYCLE; which offers dedicated compliance and waste management services for solar products.

New Solar Panel Efficiency Record

Trina Solar announced last week its State Key Laboratory of PV Science and Technology of China has set a new world record for high efficiency p-type multi-crystalline silicon solar panels.

Trina says its test Honey Plus multi-crystalline silicon module attained a new module efficiency record of 19.14% with an aperture area of 1.515 m2.

The results were confirmed by the National Center of Supervision and Inspection on Solar Photovoltaic Product Quality (CPVT) in Wuxi, China.

The 60-cell panel features advanced technologies including back surface passivation, local back surface field and half-cell module technologies. Trina says the half-cell module technology is not currently part of the Honey Plus products, but will be incorporated at a later date.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a multi-crystalline Silicon PV module reaches an efficiency higher than 19%. It demonstrates that multi-crystalline Silicon PV modules can reach an efficiency level that was reserved to the most efficient solar cells before, such as mono-crystalline IBC or heterojunction cells,” said Dr. Pierre Verlinden, Vice-President and Chief Scientist of Trina Solar.

"This milestone achievement is the result of a very close collaboration among our silicon crystallization, solar cell and module scientists. We believe that innovation is playing the very essential role to Trina’s sustainable growth and long-term success. Our focus remains on developing innovative and cutting-edge solar power products and technologies to strengthen our leadership in the PV industry.”

In other recent news, the company announced the signing of an agreement with Toyo Engineering Corporation to supply approximately 116 MW of Trina Solar panels for use in Japan’s largest solar power project –  a 231-megawatt facility to be built in Setouchi City, Okayama Prefecture.

Approximately 446,000 Trina Solar TSM-260PC05A modules will be used in the project, which will be situated on 1,210 acres of city land on the former Kinkai salt field.

The project is expected to commence commercial operations in the second quarter of 2019.

Trina Solar says Japan is a key market for the company and that solar will play a crucial role in the growing diversification of the country’s energy mix.

Trina Solar panels are also popular choice in Australia, where they are often used in residential solar power system installations.

Corporate Wind And Solar PPA’s

‘The Next Big Thing’

Corporate wind and solar power purchase agreements (PPA’s) are growing in leaps and bounds according to Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), but not as fast as they could be. The issue is primarily one of awareness.

A solar PPA is a long term contract to purchase electricity generated by a solar panel system; either installed at a company’s premises or off-site. The same sort of arrangement applies to wind power. In some cases PPA’s require zero up-front capital outlay.

Solar and wind at a commercial or utility scale under a power purchase agreement is now the cheapest source of power in some markets – and they can provide long-term security. “Competitive power prices can be locked in for 20 years or more,” says Lily Donge, a principal with RMI’s electricity practice and leader of the Business Renewables Center.

However, less than two dozen Fortune 500 companies have signed off-site PPAs to date.

The pace of uptake is something that RMI’s recently launched
Business Renewables Center (BRC) has its sights set on changing. The BRC is a collaborative platform aimed at accelerating corporate renewable energy procurement and aims to add another 60 gigawatts of off-site wind and solar power throughout the USA by 2025.

While 60 gigawatts may sound like a huge amount, it’s certainly achievable.

” For many large corporations, 100 MW of wind capacity represents about one quarter to one half of the power they require. If 600 companies purchased 100 MW of capacity each, the market would double,” says RMI.

So, if the clean power these companies can source is so economical, where’s the stampede?

Many companies are simply not aware of the potential benefits it seems. Additionally the complexity of large-scale, off-site renewable transactions, high transaction costs, and a lack of necessary information and tools are creating barriers.

This is where the BRC comes in.

The BRC’s founding corporate buyers include  Bloomberg, eBay, GM, HP, Kaiser Permanente and represent more than $500 billion in revenue and 25,000 GWh of electricity consumption annually. These companies are not only leading by example, but are willing to share the expertise they have gained by pioneering these transactions.

The trailblazing will make the path smoother for those that follow and additionally, all will benefit from economies of scale and emergent solutions as the market accelerates.

For smaller companies,  where the system is to be installed at the company’s premises, the benefits of solar power purchase agreements are already easier to obtain.

Global Wind Capacity Surged In 2014

Wind power installations worldwide increased by 42 per cent in 2014 and wind is set to become a significant global source of reliable renewable energy according to a sweeping analysis by Navigant Research.

The World Wind Energy Market Update 2015 report is Navigant Research’s 20th annual market update. It covers changes in the wind energy sector during the last three years and provides a five-year forecast out to 2019. It shows last year 51.2 GW of wind power was added globally, an increase of 42 per cent year over year, with installed wind capacity reaching a total of 372 GW.

After what it called a dismal 2013, when global wind energy additions actually fell by 20 per cent; pro-renewable policies in China, Germany and the USA helped fuel a “remarkable comeback” in the sector in 2014.

Growth in countries such as Brazil, Canada, France and Turkey also laid a strong foundation for expansion in the five-year forecast.

“The wind power industry achieved a record year of installations in 2014, setting the stage for steady growth in the coming years,” said Jesse Broehl, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “The industry’s development is being bolstered by key established markets and increasingly supported by new and diversified global markets.”

The surging wind sector meant several of the market’s major suppliers jumped up the rankings of the top 15 wind turbine manufacturers. Ranked by installed megawatts, Vestas, maker of world’s highest capacity V112-3.075 MW turbine, maintained top position in both onshore and offshore capacity thanks to widespread global sales. Siemens leapt to second on the ladder, climbing two spots on the back of Germany’s rapidly expanding offshore wind power market.

The report notes that Siemens could have overtaken Vestas as the highest seller of turbines globally in 2014 had all Germany’s planned offshore wind projects been completed on time.

It wasn’t all beer and skittles for the sector. Navigant notes for Spanish wind farm developers, 2014 was a rough year. In early 2014, the Spanish government reformed the electricity market by discontinuing the feed-in tariff (FIT) program entirely for all wind for all wind farms from that point on. For wind developer Acciona, ranked No. 5 in 2013, it added 98 MW in 2014, but was forced to sell off 150 MW. It ended the year less net wind capacity in 2014 than in 2013.

 Think Out Off The Box , Be Solar Innovative

Your roof is your future, according to solar energy enthusiasts. While digging out the coal and sticking it under a boiler is the stone-age answer to energy use, equally-simple and much cheaper materials need to be used, just to compete with that early and very polluting idea. Everybody knows that the sun’s energy is free, so why can’t we have almost free technology?

We are talking about the most abundant and regular energy resource we have. If solar voltaic cells are considered, they are tough, easily placed and useable even in low light conditions. To find the most efficient and cheap semiconductors has been the scientists’ problem so far. Also the silicon substrate used tends to be the cheaper polycrystalline, now producing up to 25% efficiency. Extra cost from a thin film of cadmium salts has caused extra concern, but these coats could be replaced soon, if in cheaper, organic solar cells can be developed such as this example we reported from Canada. This type of solar cell is this year achieving 83% of the world market. Most are made in the Far East, especially China.

Installation of solar panels is cheapest in Germany, relying on former Federal subsidies. The country has always been a world leader for solar panel development, .but falling costs have lost them the market leadership for now, although several such nations have re-invested in the Chinese solar cell industry. Compensating the German loss is yet another development at Stanford University, US, this month in the journal Angewandte Chemie. Molybdenum Phosphosulfide: An Active, Acid-Stable, Earth-Abundant Catalyst for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction† tells the story of how to sidetrack the solar panel and actually STORE solar energy by making cheap hydrogen in sunlight, then reconverting it into water. The key to this is Thomas Jaramillo and Jakob Kibsgaard’s replacement of the most expensive catalyst known (platinum) with simple molybdenum phosphosulfide.

The natural attraction of the first available storage facility for solar power is probably the major news here. While solar panels will continue to improve in more or less the same shape as at present, this new technological advance makes big business more and more likely to invest in attractive renewable energy options.

comments powered by Disqus

Space Solar Power Systems , 

Opening For Business?

The next big business opportunity could be space delivered solar and companies are already gearing up.


If/when beaming solar power from space becomes reality, it will be in part due to the pioneering efforts of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and a Japanese space agency.

We first covered what was then called the solar power satellite (SPS) or Powersat concept in 2008. Also in 2008, Former NASA executive and physicist John Mankins captured solar energy from a mountain top in Maui and beamed it nearly 150 kilometres to the main island of Hawaii. In that experiment, 20 watts was transmitted and most of it was lost in the process.

Then in 2009, Mitsubishi Electric Corp announced it had joined a multi-billion dollar Japanese project to construct a gigantic solar farm in space within three decades.

Early last year, the U.S. Navy began tinkering with the idea of beaming electricity from space using a massive array of solar panels assembled in orbit by a team of robots.

Another arm of Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), has also been seriously looking into related concepts and recently conducted ground demonstration testing of wireless power transmission.

Initial testing has been promising. MHI states they were able to transmit 10 kilowatts via microwave over a distance of 500 meters; where it illuminated LED lights.

The development and testing occurred through  an agreement with Japan Space Systems under what’s called the “2012 Solar Power Wireless Transmission Technology Development Project.”

Mitsubishi says the successful test results clearly demonstrate proof-of-concept and is a precursor to applying the technology in numerous terrestrial fields; such as the transmission of power from offshore wind turbines or even powering electric vehicles.

The applications also extend from terrestrial to out of this world. MHI envisions a geostationary satellite decked out with solar panels positioned 36,000 kilometers above the earth; with the power generated transmitted to earth by microwave/laser

“The SSPS is highly anticipated to become a mainstay energy source that will simultaneously solve both environmental and energy issues,” says Mitsubishi.

An in-depth look at space based solar power generation, published last year, can be viewed here. The article was written by Susumu Sasaki, who has spent much of his 41-year career at Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) researching space-based solar power systems.

While SSPS is a very interesting prospect, it’s not without its potential problems – and there are still plenty of rooftops here on Planet Earth waiting to have solar panels installed on them.

Congrats to DEEPWATER WIND! USA 1st Offshore Windfarm Powers aHead

U.S. wind energy developer Deepwater Wind has announced it will build America’s first offshore wind farm, after securing more than USD$290 million in financing from major investors such as French fund Societe Generale and Ohio-based Keybank.

Construction of turbines, nacelles and platforms for the Deepwater Wind Block Island farm, a 30-megawatt facility just three miles off the coast of Rhode Island, is already underway; with the company expecting to have “steel in the water” by July. The project is expected to be completed and providing power to homes and businesses in the fourth quarter 2016.

Deepwater Wind’s financial coup means it can now lay claim to construction of America’s first offshore wind farm, after the much-touted 130-turbine Cape Wind offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound, announced in 2011 by Energy Management Inc. (EMI), was embroiled in protracted legal battles over power purchasing agreements in 2014.

But with the U.S. Energy Department last year issuing a USD$150 million loan guarantee to develop the Cape Wind site, it seems that project is destined to proceed with the backing of government. Until then, Deepwater Wind is celebrating its position as the nation’s first offshore wind developer.

“We’re ecstatic to reach financial close and thrilled to be partners with Societe Generale and KeyBank for this groundbreaking clean energy project,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski.

Deepwater contracted Danish turbine manufacturer Alstom to provide five Haliade 150 6 MW offshore wind turbines for the project before finance was even arranged, and the supplier says all 15 blades are complete and ready for shipment from its Denmark factory.

Louisiana steel company, Gulf Island Fabrication, Inc., began fabrication work last month on the wind farm’s five steel jacket foundations. A Rhode-Island based specialist dive company will begin work on foundation structures at Quonset, RI soon. These works are scheduled to be completed in several months.

“We are on the cusp of bringing offshore wind from theory to reality in the U.S. We’re incredibly proud of our position at the forefront of the U.S. offshore wind industry,” Grybowski said. “We’ve brought together some of the best American and European expertise to build an outstanding project and finance team. We’re poised to launch a new American clean-tech industry, and it all starts here with our work on the Block Island Wind Farm.”

SunEdison Announces 22MW

LA Solar Power Development Deal

SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE: SUNE) has announced an agreement with a Los Angeles-based solar company to develop, build and operate 22 megawatts of distributed rooftop solar capacity.

Part of the Beacon Bundled Solar contract the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) awarded to SunEdison in July last year, SunEdison struck the deal with local company Permacity.

SunEdison will supply financing, SunEdison solar panels, procurement and engineering expertise while PermaCity will manage the construction of the projects.

“The City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have presented the local community with a fantastic opportunity to earn extra income by utilizing their roof space,” said Rafael Dobrzynski, SVP – General Manager Commercial & Industrial Distributed Generation at SunEdison. “The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power program supports the use of local developers and we are proud to be working with PermaCity on this project.”

In addition to generating a significant amount of electricity, the program will give property owners additional income through the leasing of their rooftops or other benefits. Owners will receive an annual lease payments, or roof repairs, their own solar power system, or energy efficiency upgrades and building control systems.

Systems will be installed using  PermaCity’s non-penetrating racking system, SolarStrap. The mounting system is in use at a recently completed 5.1 MW installation for fashion retailer Forever 21. SolarStrap was literally ” baked” into the building’s new roofing and supports 15,512 modules. That system is currently the largest single-rooftop solar panel array in Los Angeles County and the third-largest in California.

As well as this 22 megawatt project, the Beacon Bundled Solar contract requires SunEdison to develop 88 megawatts of utility-scale solar power at the Beacon site in Kern County, which will be completed next year. Combined, these projects will  generate 700 jobs and assist Los Angeles attain its goal of sourcing 25% of the city’s energy needs from clean energy by 2016 and 33% by 2020.

ABB And SMA Announce

Solar Inverter Supply Deals

Two of the world’s giants of solar inverter manufacturing have announced significant supply deals in the USA and South America.

SMA was selected by commercial solar developer SoCore Energy to supply 17.5 MW of Sunny Tripower TL-US three-phase, transformerless inverters for 44 PV projects.

SMA says the 730+ inverters have already been delivered and will be used by high profile cinema, shipping and retail chains in the USA across six states. The solar panel systems will have an average capacity of 410kW and all projects will be operational shortly.

We are excited that the Sunny Tripower, the world’s best-selling three-phase inverter, was selected for this significant commercial-scale order,” said Henry Dziuba, president and general manager of SMA America . “The Sunny Tripower provides unparalleled performance across all U.S. geographies, making it the ideal choice for these nationwide projects.”

The SMA Sunny Tripower boasts peak efficiency of more than 98 percent and features shade management with OptiTrac Global Peak, plus active temperature management with OptiCool.

SMA has been developing and distributing high-quality solar inverters for more than 30 years. 35 gigawatts of projects featuring SMA inverters have been installed globally.

Also this week, ABB announced the company is supplying solar inverters to a 70 MW project in South America; which will be the second-largest PV park of its kind in the entire region.

45 of its ULTRA central inverters will be used at the facility; selected for their modular nature, robustness and ability to perform in harsh desert environments. The ABB ULTRA is the largest inverter in the company’s product portfolio. It consists of three models with capacities of 700, 1050 and 1400 kW.

“We are proud to be leading the way for the growth of renewables, and solar in particular, in South America as well as supporting the region in its goal of reducing the use of fossil fuels,” said Paolo Casini, head of Marketing for ABB’s Solar product group.

ABB is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar inverters and also has a long history in the electricity transmission sector.

173,000+ Working In US Solar Industry

The US solar industry added more than 31,000 jobs in 2014 – growing at a rate of 21.8% since November 2013.

The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2014 states the industry is adding workers at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy and the installation sector is already larger than coal mining.

“The solar sector has grown an extraordinary 86 percent in the last four years, adding approximately 81,000 jobs. Our Census findings show that one out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. over the past 12 months was created by the solar industry – nearly 1.3% of all jobs,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the report was proof of the industry’s importance to the US economy.

“Not only is solar helping to power more and more homes, businesses, schools and government buildings, but it’s also helping to power the U.S. economy in a very significant way – and, frankly, we’re just scratching the surface of our enormous potential.”

While the USA’s workforce is growing, it’s also becoming more efficient. In 2012, it took around 19.5 workers per installed megawatt. Last year that number dropped to 15.5.

59.6% of installers in the USA work primarily on residential solar panel systems and 23.6% on small to medium commercial solar arrays up to 200kW

Jobs growth looks set to continue for the next couple of years, with employers expecting to add another 36,000 jobs in the USA this year.

One of Rhode Island's major solar employers is CED (Clean Energy Directors), which also recently finished two installs on two well know schools in the sate of Rhode Island, Meeting Street School, and Providence, .

“CED is a Rhode Island company that employs talented men and women not only from Rhode Island, by across the U.S.,” said Julian Dash, Chief Executive Officer of CED .  “As  renewable energy company that is based in Rhode Island, I’m very proud to be doing our part for an industry that is creating thousands of high quality American jobs, but also is making our communities cleaner, and more sustainable.”

The USA has an estimated 20.2 gigawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to  power nearly 4 million homes. Another 20 GW is forecast to be installed in 2015 and 2016

“Solar power is a key component of our all-of-the-above approach to American energy, creating good-paying American jobs that support our growing clean energy economy,” said US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

“This diverse and vibrant workforce is vital to achieving the President’s goal of doubling electricity generation from renewable sources yet again by 2020.”

World's Largest  Airport Solar Project

The second phase expansion of the IND Solar Farm at Indianapolis International Airport (IND) is now fully operational.

Comprising 32,100 solar panels on trackers, this phase will produce more than 15.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power more than 1,410 average American households.

IND Solar Farm is not only the largest solar power project in Indianapolis currently, it’s claimed to be the largest project in the world at an airport to date.

Phase 1 of IND Solar Farm, a 12 MW project consisting of more than 44,000 solar panels,  was completed in October last year.

The two projects combined are expected to generate more than 31.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually,

The IND Solar Farm is a symbol of sustainability and new economic development for Central Indiana,” said Michael Wells, president of the IAA board of directors. “Not only has it become a part of the IND landscape – it now also helps drive significant revenue for the economy that once was just unused land.”

Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL) is purchasing the power produced by the solar farm through a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA). Electricity is exported to the mains grid via existing surface transmission lines that connect the airport terminal to the IPL substation west of the airport.

The project has been constructed in a partnership between Telamon Corporation, Johnson Melloh Solutions, Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA), the City of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL) and General Energy Solutions (GES). The partners worked with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure glare would not cause issues for the air traffic control tower or approaching aircraft.

Mario Rodriguez, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, said the solar project played a significant role in the facility being named one of America’s greenest.

In 2011, Indianapolis International Airport was the first airport to win Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for an entire terminal campus. IAA also has various environmental management, conservation management, and wildlife management programs in place.

In 2013, Indianapolis International Airport served about 7.2 million domestic and international passengers and it’s the USA’s the nation’s eighth largest cargo facility.

Project Overview:

      • 162 acre solar farm

      • Phase I commissioned in October 2013

      • Phase II commissioned in December 2014

      • 17.5 megawatt AC (22.2 megawatt DC) solar photovoltaic (PV) system

      • Produces 31.7 million kilowatt hours per year, enough to power 3,210 homes

      • Largest solar power project in Indianapolis to date

      • Largest solar power project in the world at an airport to date

IFC Funds Latin America’s Largest Wind Farm

The International Finance Corporation has announced it will contribute $300 million to fund the final stages of Panama’s Penonome wind power plant, Central America’s largest wind farm, a year after the project was launched in Rio de Janeiro by former US president Bill Clinton.

At 215 MW, the Penonome plant will consist of 86 turbines and generate 448 GWh of clean electricity per year, roughly the equivalent of five per cent of Panama’s total energy demand. The project is expected to eliminate over 400,000 tons of carbon emissions and save near 900,000 barrels of oil per year.

Panama’s rapid economic and population growth has outstripped investment in energy infrastructure, resulting in a heavy reliance – more than a third of annual demand – on imported fossil fuels and unpredictable sources of hydropower.

The IFC says the addition of 215 MW of clean wind power will complement Panama’s hydro based generation since wind resources happen to be significantly stronger during the dry season when hydro production is at its lowest.

“Phase II and III of Penonome will add much-needed electricity generation capacity to support Panama’s sustainable development,” said Gabriel Goldschmidt, IFC Head for Infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean. “The project is aligned with IFC’s strategy to support initiatives that help Central American countries transition to a cleaner and more efficient energy matrix.”

Project developer and majority shareholder InterEnergy announced in April it had partnered with local company UEP to build Penonome as part of an investment commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Latin America meeting last December in Rio de Janeiro.

“Latin America’s economy is growing every year, requiring the region to increase its installed power capacity,” Mr. Clinton said in Rio. “InterEnergy is a pioneer in power generation and renewable energy, and their incredible progress on their CGI Commitment is driving sustainable development in the region by both decreasing carbon emissions and lowering the price of power for consumers.”

California Heading For 500,000 Clean Energy Jobs

California’s booming clean energy industry currently employs nearly 450,000 people and is tipped to reach the half million mark within a year, according to a first-of-its-kind survey of America’s advanced energy sector.

The current number is more than the film, TV, radio, semiconductors and aerospace industries.

The survey, released by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, found that 431,000 Californians (2.4 per cent of the state’s workforce) are involved in servicing advanced energy technologies, such as solar and wind power, electric vehicles and energy efficiency.

Advanced energy jobs grew five per cent in the past year – more than double the overall state job growth rate – and based on employer hiring plans is on track to grow 17 per cent in the coming year

Ambitious climate goals and a pro-active approach to supporting a zero-carbon future had contributed to situation says Kish Rajan, Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

“The AEE Institute’s report is further proof that California’s economy is thriving – not in spite of our climate change goals but because of them. California is the national leader in the advanced energy economy and that leadership is contributing to significant job growth across multiple sectors in every region of the state.”

While the past year had seen a spike in the growth of jobs in the solar energy sector, with 73,000 people working full or part time in the industry, up 16 per cent from 2013, building energy efficiency is by far California’s biggest clean energy employer. More than 300,000 people are employed in ensuring the state’s strict energy conservation and efficiency codes are met.

“Making California more energy efficient saves money for businesses and households and protects the environment,” said California State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. “It is also an important contributor to jobs and the economy – truly a win-win for the state of California.”

The majority of advanced energy employment is concentrated in Southern California, with a high concentration of workers (3.8 per cent of all jobs) centred inland around large-scale renewable energy projects such as the 350 megawatt Soda Mountain Solar Project and 615 MW San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm.

State politicians welcomed the survey as proof that supporting renewables is also good for business.

“With double the job growth rate of the state and three times that of the nation, advanced energy is a major player in job creation in California,” said California Senate President Kevin de León. “This survey demonstrates that policy supporting advanced energy is not just good for California’s environment but is also good for jobs and our economy.”

The full California Advanced Energy Survey report can be downloaded here.

Vanadium Flow Battery Technology

being Tested by U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy has announced it will deploy Imergy Power Systems’  vanadium-based flow battery technology for a new Smart Microgrid project designed to optimize the storage and consumption of solar energy at military bases, college campuses and other institutions. 

The system will be rolled out at the Navy’s Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE) Facility in Port Hueneme, California, and  used to demonstrate the effectiveness of energy storage on regulating the often uneven flow of solar power into a power grid.

The project will  incorporate releasing bursts of stored power at times of high demand to reduce consumer electricity bills; timed load shifting and management and the smoothing of troughs and peaks in solar energy generation. It will also involve an off-grid islanding application that will show how well an off-grid photovoltaic (PV) solar system with combined battery storage can provide energy for users deployed at remote or mission-critical facilities.

Three Imergy Energy Storage Power (ESP) 30 vanadium flow batteries will be incorporated into the system. Each has a capacity of up to 50 kilowatts and stores up to 200 kilowatt-hours. These batteries can be built for cost below $300 per kilowatt-hour storage, well below the industry benchmark of $500.

The company says this efficiency is possible due to its proprietary process for recycling the rare and expensive element vanadium used in its flow battery systems from secondary sources such as mining slag, oil field sludge and fly ash. This process lowers vanadium cost by 40 per cent relative to Imergy’s competitors.

“Other manufacturers of vanadium flow batteries build their devices with virgin vanadium extracted from mining. It must then be processed to a 99% plus level of purity. Imergy’s flow batteries from low-grade vanadium will also be capable of storing more energy per kilogram than conventional vanadium flow batteries by more than twice,” the company states.

In this type of battery, the chemical interaction of two liquids “flowing” next to each other produces electricity. The ESP30 is Imergy’s flagship storage solution, boasting an unlimited shelf life and the ability to operate in conditions above 55 degrees Celsius.

As the U.S. military transitions away from expensive and burdensome oil-based fuel supply – the Navy currently generates 12 per cent of its energy from renewable sources  – transportable battery systems for solar and wind energy will play a larger part in operations at home and abroad, according to Imergy Power Systems CEO Bill Watkins.

“For military personnel, energy security can mean the difference between life and death. This Smart Grid project will pave the way for more secure energy solutions at mission critical military and other facilities.”

Siemens’ Wind Farm Life Cycle Assessments  

German wind energy company Siemens has published detailed performance data covering CO2 savings and payback times for both geared and direct drive wind turbines in offshore and onshore projects.

The four new Environmental Product Declaration brochures are based on Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) of four defined Siemens wind power projects: two offshore wind plants with 80 wind turbines, and two onshore wind projects with 20 wind turbines.

According to the company, LCAs are a cradle-to-grave tool for calculating the energy payback time of a power generation system – the amount of time a plant must operate to produce as much energy as it consumes. They also provide data on the environmental savings of large-scale wind power systems over their lifetime.

“Environmental product declarations provide customers, developers and authorities the requested transparency on the environmental performance of our products and they help us to further develop our portfolio, thereby ensuring competitiveness,” said Siemens Wind Power and Renewables chief executive Markus Tacke.

An onshore wind farm featuring 20 Siemens SWT-3.2-113 wind turbines shows an energy payback time of 4.5 months. During its entire life-cycle it will produce 57 times more energy than it consumes and just four grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt/hour (g/kWh) of electricity generated, compared to 865 g/kWh for a fossil fuel powered plant. This return includes all manufacturing, installation, operations, maintenance and dismantling of the wind farm over an estimated 25-year life cycle.

Even greater savings are found in examination of an offshore wind project with 80 Siemens D6 wind turbines. Over a 20 year lifetime, these projects generate 53 million megawatt hours and save 45 million tons of CO2, which is equal to the amount of CO2 absorbed by a forest with an area of 1,286 square kilometres over 25 years. The Environmental Product Declaration brochure states this figure corresponds to a CO2 emission of only seven g/kWh compared to the 865 g/kWh found with average global fossil power production.

Walmart Selects SunEdison For Solar Expansion

The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, has announced SunEdison to be one of two firms to install up to 400 new solar power systems at Walmart facilities across the USA.

The project works towards Walmart’s ultimate goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy and a 2020 target of sourcing or producing seven billion kWh of renewable energy.

SunEdison has had a lengthy association with the retailer.

“SunEdison is one of Walmart’s earliest solar providers with projects dating back to 2007,” said Katherine Jennrich, senior manager of energy services at Walmart.

So far, Walmart has installed approximately 260 solar projects in the United States, with a collective capacity of 105 MW. According the  Solar Energy Industries Association,  the company has the most installed commercial solar capacity in the U.S.

“These projects bring us closer to fulfilling our commitment to double the number of on-site solar energy projects in U.S. stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers – thereby reducing our energy expenses and generating clean energy in local communities,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy at Walmart

Walmart says it has more than 335 renewable energy projects globally supplying 2.2 billion kilowatt hours of clean electricity each year; approximately 24.2% of the firm’s power needs.

Energy efficiency is another area Walmart is seeking to improve in. “By Dec. 31, 2020, we have committed to reducing the energy per square foot intensity required to power our buildings around the world by 20% (compared to our 2010 baseline of stores),” states the company’s corporate
web site.

The announcement of the solar project was the second high-profile deal to come to fruition for SunEdison (NYSE: SUNE) in the USA last week. Last Tuesday, SunEdison and TerraForm Power, Inc. (NASDAQ: TERP) announced the signing of a USD $2.4 billion agreement to acquire First Wind, one of the leading developers and operators of wind farms in the USA.

Solar Road A Reality in The Netherlands

While it’s not particularly long,  the world’s first solar roadway is now in use in Krommenie, The Netherlands.

The 70 metre stretch of bicycle path is comprised of SolaRoad – prefabricated concrete modules 2.5 by 3.5 metres featuring a translucent top layer of tempered glass around 1 cm thick with standard silicon solar cells beneath.

An additional 30 metres of SolaRoad is to be installed and the project will then be continuously monitored. Data gathered will be used to refine the SolaRoad product.

It’s expected the 100 metre installation will generate as much electricity as is used by 2-3 average households. Electricity generated will be exported to the mains grid.

That level of output is far less than what could be achieved with equivalent rooftop solar panels or traditional solar farms and the SolaRoad product appears to be rather pricey – so why bother?

The Netherlands is a tiny area compared to United States – just 41,543 square kilometers compared to United States’ 9,857,000 square kilometres; so space is at a premium.

The organisation behind the SolaRoad concept, TNO, points out if all suitable roofs in the Netherlands had solar panels, they could only supply approximately 25% of the Dutch electricity demand.

” The approximately 140,000 km of roads in the Netherlands cover a total area of about 400-500 km2, which is significantly larger than the total (suitable) roof surface area,” says TNO. ” With the integration of solar cells in road infrastructure, a great potential has come into existence, creating a complementary market for solar panels.”

TNO says a return on investment is feasible within a life span of 20 years and is aiming for a payback period of 15 years or less.

SolaRoad is being developed in partnership with the Province of Noord-Holland, Imtech and Ooms Civiel. The Krommenie installation will be officially opened on November 12th 2014.

Clean Energy Growing in Rhode Island

Recently ReNewable Now was invited to cover and participate in a
 panel discussion that focused on the economic outlook for renewable energy within the state of Rhode Island. The event took place in the city of Providence and was organized by BlumShapiro, an accounting, tax, and business consulting firm based in New England with offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The panel included some very well known local experts when it comes to the business of sustainability. Representing the State of Rhode Island was Chris Kearns, Chief of Program Development for the RI Office of Energy Resources who spoke about programs the state is implementing to create a more conducive environment for renewables. From the management and development side of renewable energy, Julian Dash founder of Clean Economy
Development, and formerly the Director of Renewable Energy for the RI Economic Development Corporation spoke about how to begin the process of engaging in a renewable energy project. From Deepwater Wind the CEO is Jeff Grybowski, who was on hand and spoke about the immensity of his project, the very first offshore wind farm in the United States. Jeff spoke about the complexities of moving such a project forward; everything from safety to a properly trained work force that will see this two year project employing hundreds, if not thousands. We have to mention that it was a bit eye opening when Jeff shared with the audience that Deepwater Wind has paid $15 million in regulatory costs and permits, just to get approval. Rounding off the panel was ReNewable Now's very own Peter Arpin who shared with the audience the excellent return Arpin Group has had with its investment into solar, and their continued investment in the renewable energy business itself.

As the discussion evolved it became evident that the trend towards sustainability is quickly speeding up, as Julian Dash referenced, "It's no longer a political issue, where five years ago people would have said the numbers weren't there, today the costs have come down so much that those same peoples’ opinions have evolved where politics isn't an issue." This trend was also reflected in a number of people we spoke with that were in the audience who indicated that they have either already begun installing some form of renewable energy into their business, or were actually taking the first steps in learning how to proceed.

For ReNewable Now we wanted to know a bit more about why
 BlumShapiro has taken an interest in renewable energy and what was their motivation behind organizing the conference? We also wanted to know what the firm was doing to establish itself, and its expertise as it relates to the future growth of clean energy? So we were fortunate enough to catch up with Greg Cabral, Managing Partner of BlumShapiro, who spent some time chatting with Peter Arpin about the how the firm is embracing the business side of green.

Audubon Society of RI
Names  Arpin  Sustainable Business of The Year

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island, founded in 1897, is one of the country's oldest nature and wildlife non-profit organizations that focuses on preservation. With 17,000 members and supporters, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island is dedicated to education, land conservation, and advocacy.

On October 19, at their annual meeting that took place in Providence, the  Audubon Society of Rhode Island took some time to recognize the outstanding achievements of a number of individuals and organizations for their efforts and their achievements. One person and company that was recognized was ReNewable Now's very own Peter Arpin, and the Arpin Group, as the "2014 Audubon Society of Rhode Island Sustainable Company of The Year." This award recognizes everything Arpin has been doing when it comes to sustainability, from creating a positive work environment, their community outreach, to education and investment when it comes to sustainability. The totality of Arpin's efforts were reflected by Eugenia Marks, Senior Director of Policy, who said, "So how many ways could you count that a moving company could be an environmental leader?" Eugenia went on to describe the many initiatives and really help to reinforce the importance of corporate social responsibility

Peter Arpin was more than gracious in accepting the award, and he referenced two common traits that both the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, and Arpin Group have in common, and they were; "perseverance and resilience." "With Arpin being founded in 1900, and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island in 1897 both organization have shown true sustainability, in the good times and the bad times, and both have been able to change to meet today's goals."

Los Angeles Sustainability, and ReNewable Now

The Sustainability Business Council of Los Angeles has invited ReNewable Now to participate in their upcoming series, "Sustainable Success Stories." This very special series is in cooperation with UCLA Sustainability, and is taking place on the UCLA campus on Wednesday, October 15th.

What makes this event so special is that it's bringing together some extraordinary leaders in sustainability. From education to the business world, this diverse panel will inspire everyone. From one of the world's best known brands when it comes to eco-friendly products, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks CEO, Earth Friendly Products.  From the corporate world, Sustainability Director, Randy Britt of PARSONS, a $3 billion company that makes corporate social responsibility (CSR), and sustainability a major component to their success.  Representing the world of education is UCLA's Chief Sustainability Officer,  Nurit Katz, who gives us some unique insight to how the university is making the grade when it comes to sustainability. And moderating this prestigious panel is none other than ReNewable Now's very own, Peter Arpin who will bring all these stories together and showcasing  how this panel's experience can benefit all of us.

While in Los Angeles, ReNewable Now has a number of one

-on-one interviews scheduled, interviews that will inspire, inform, and help us all build upon our efforts inpositive growth. Joining us willbe Molly Lavik director of the Sustainable Business Council of Los Angeles who we hope to learn the secrets of organizing great sustainable events. And from the the City of Los Angeles itself we are meeting up with Matt Petersen, the very first appointed Sustainability Director to the City of Los Angeles. We hope to learn form Matt how Los Angeles has gained the reputation as being one of the countries leaders when it comes to sustainability, and what impact his office has made on this great city of LA.

So for all our followers on the West Coast, if you would like to come out and visit the ReNewable Now team while we're there, then join us for a great evening of Sustainable Success Stories on Wednesday evening, October 15th, and click here for more information.

$8 Billion Wind Power/Cavern

Battery Project Proposed

A US $8-billion green energy initiative would see wind power generated electricity in Wyoming consumed in Los Angeles and also involve ‘cavern battery’ energy storage.

The project involves the construction of one of the nation’s largest wind farms in Wyoming, one of the world’s biggest energy storage facilities in Utah, and an 850 kilometre electric transmission line connecting the two sites.

Four companies are involved with the proposal – Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand and Duke-American Transmission

“This project would be the 21st century’s Hoover Dam – a landmark of the clean energy revolution,” said Jeff Meyer, managing partner of Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy.

A 2,100 megawatt wind farm would be situated near Chugwater, Wyoming; taking advantage of the region’s significant wind resources.

The $1.5-billion compressed air energy storage system at a site near Delta, Utah, 130 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, will consist of four vertical caverns carved from an underground salt formation at the site

Each cavern would be 1,160,990 cubic metres in volume and combined could store the energy equivalent of 60,000 megawatt-hours of electricity.

Surplus electricity from the wind farm will be used to compress and inject high-pressure air into the caverns for storage. The high-pressure compressed air, combined with a small amount of natural gas, would power eight generators to produce electricity. The concept is sometimes referred to as a ‘cavern battery‘.

“Linking the wind farm to the energy storage facility would enable the wind farm to function largely like a traditional coal, nuclear or natural gas power plant – capable of reliably delivering large amounts of electricity whenever needed, based on customer demand,” says Duke Energy.

The company states the proposed project has the potential to generate more than twice the amount of electricity produced by the Hoover hydroelectric dam in Nevada – 9.2 million megawatt-hours per year vs. 3.9 million megawatt-hours; enough to serve an estimated 1.2 million L.A.-area homes.

The four companies will formally submit their proposal to the Southern California Public Power Authority by early 2015.

Block Island Gets GREEN LIGHT on Wind

On Friday, Developer Deepwater Wind got the green light from from the feds to build the 30MW Block Island Wind Farm, a demonstration project in state waters off the coast of Rhode Island.

Approval by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the lead federal permitting agency, means the project can now move beyond initial stages of construction.

“Today marks a pivotal moment not just for Block Island but also for the start of a new American industry we’re proud to be leading from here in the Ocean State,” says Deepwater Wind chief executive Jeffrey Grybowski.

The developer expects to begin construction offshore in summer 2015 and have the facility in commercial operation in 2016.Deepwater says the project is on track to become the first US offshore wind farm.

Deepwater is in a race with Energy Management Inc.’s 468MW Cape Wind project, sited off the coast of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, to see which gets a turbine in the water first.

Block Island is eligible to receive the federal business energy investment tax credit (ITC), which covers 30% of a project’s initial capital cost, Grybowski told Recharge earlier this year. He pegs the cost "north of $250m."

Deepwater has equity financing in place from owner, hedge fund DE Shaw. A bank process to raise project debt financing is being formalized with strong participation by European financial institutions, according to Grybowski.

Deepwater has elected Alstom as the project’s turbine supplier, opting for five Haliade 150-6MW machines. Alstom has already delivered the blades, which are in storage in Denmark.

The developer expects the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in the coming weeks to approve its application for a right-of-way in federal waters for a subsea transmission cable.

Rhode Island utility regulators in April approved National Grid US’ purchase of transmission facilities that will link the project with the mainland electric grid.

National Grid will build, own and operate the 20-mile (32.1km), 34.5kV submarine electric cable and associated terrestrial infrastructure including a new substation and switchyard.

The project will also cover electricity needs of Block Island, where distribution is through a municipal utility. National Grid has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Deepwater that pays 24.4 cents per kWh in the first year, with a 3.5% annual increase after then.

New Study Finds Price of Wind Energy in US at an All-Time Low; Competitiveness of Wind Has Improved

Wind energy pricing is at an all-time low, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged just $25/MWh for projects negotiating contracts in 2013, spurring demand for wind energy.

“Wind energy prices—particularly in the central United States— are at an all-time low, with utilities selecting wind as the low cost option,” Berkeley Lab Staff Scientist Ryan Wiser said. “This is especially notable because, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects have increasingly been built in lower wind speed areas.”

Key findings from the U.S. Department of Energy’s latest “Wind Technologies Market Report” include:

• Wind is a credible source of new generation in the United States.  Though wind power additions slowed in 2013, with just 1.1 gigawatts (GW) added, wind power has comprised 33% of all new U.S. electric capacity additions since 2007. Wind power currently contributes more than 4% of the nation’s electricity supply, more than 12% of total electricity generation in nine states, and more than 25% in two states.

• Turbine scaling is boosting wind project performance.   Since 1998-99, the average nameplate capacity of wind turbines installed in the United States has increased by 162% (to 1.87 MW in 2013), the average turbine hub height has increased by 45% (to 80 meters), and the average rotor diameter has increased by 103% (to 97 meters).  This substantial scaling has enabled wind project developers to economically build projects in lower wind-speed sites, and is driving capacity factors higher for projects located in given wind resource regimes. Moreover, turbines originally designed for lower wind speeds are now regularly employed in higher wind speed sites, further boosting expected capacity factors.

• Low wind turbine pricing continues to push down installed project costs.  Wind turbine prices have fallen 20 to 40% from their highs back in 2008, and these declines are pushing project-level costs down.  Based on the small sample of 2013 wind projects, installed costs averaged $1,630/kW last year, down more than $600/kW from the apparent peak in 2009 and 2010.  Among a larger sample of projects currently under construction, average costs are $1,750/kW.

• Wind energy prices have reached all-time lows, improving the relative competitiveness of wind. Lower wind turbine prices and installed project costs, along with improvements in expected capacity factors, are enabling aggressive wind power pricing.  After topping out at nearly $70/MWh in 2009, the average levelized long-term price from wind power sales agreements signed in 2013 fell to around $25/MWh.  This level is lower than the previous lows set back in the 2000-2005 period, which is notable given that wind projects have increasingly been sited in lower wind-speed areas.  Wind energy prices are generally lowest in the central portion of the country. The continued decline in average wind prices, along with a bit of a rebound in wholesale power prices, put wind back at the bottom of the range of nationwide wholesale power prices in 2013.  Wind energy contracts executed in 2013 also compare very favorably to a range of projections of the fuel costs of gas-fired generation extending out through 2040.

• The manufacturing supply chain has experienced substantial growing pains in recent years, but a growing percentage of the equipment used in U.S. wind projects has been sourced domestically since 2006-2007. The profitability of turbine suppliers rebounded in 2013, after a number of years in decline. Five of the 10 turbine suppliers with the largest share of the U.S. market have one or more manufacturing facilities in the United States. Nonetheless, more domestic wind manufacturing facilities closed in 2013 than opened. Additionally, the entire wind energy sector employed 50,500 full-time workers in the United States at the end of 2013, a deep reduction from the 80,700 jobs reported for 2012.Despite these challenges,trade data show that a decreasing percentage of the equipment used in wind projects has been imported, when focusing on selected trade categories. When presented as a fraction of total equipment-related wind turbine costs, the combined import share of selected wind equipment tracked by trade codes (i.e., blades, towers, generators, gearboxes, and wind-powered generating sets) is estimated to have declined from nearly 80% in 2006–2007 to approximately 30% in 2012-2013; the overall import fraction is higher when considering equipment not tracked in wind-specific trade codes. Domestic content has increased and is high for blades, towers, and nacelle assembly; domestic content is considerably lower for much of the equipment internal to the nacelle.

• Looking ahead, projections are for solid growth in 2014 and 2015, with uncertain prospects in 2016 and beyond.  The availability of federal incentives for wind projects that began construction at the end of 2013 has helped restart the domestic market, with significant new builds anticipated in 2014 and 2015. However, as noted by Mark Bolinger, Research Scientist at Berkeley Lab, “Projections for 2016 and beyond are much less certain. Despite the attractive price of wind energy, federal policy uncertainty—in concert with continued low natural gas prices and modest electricity demand growth — may put a damper on medium-term market growth.”

Sustainable Pizza Box Business
Launched in Boston

America’s love for pizza knows no bounds. 93 percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month. Out of total five billion pizzas consumed worldwide each year, the US alone consumes three billion. Across the US, around 70,000 pizzerias are in operation, and the average pizzeria uses 55 pizza boxes per day. That translates to about 1.4 billion pizza boxes used in the country each year.

GreenBox, the multi-functional, environment-friendly pizza box by Ecovention, LLC, offers a revolutionary eco-conscious pizza packaging solution. Green Box breaks into plates and a storage unit for leftovers, and is made of 100 percent recyclable material. It has been dubbed “the pizza box of the 21st century” by Fox News.

Ecovention has announced that Upper Crust Pizzeria, an award-winning pizza restaurant chain in Boston, MA, will be carrying GreenBox pizza boxes. As of July 1, 2014, Upper Crust is already using the GreenBox in all of their greater Boston area locations.

GreenBox offers a complete redesign of the industry-standard pizza box. The top of the box breaks down into four plates, while the bottom easily folds into a convenient storage container for the leftovers. This imaginative green packaging solution eliminates the need for disposable plates, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil, and presents an innovative eco-friendly answer to the waste generated by the pizza industry.

Operations Manager for the Upper Crust Pizzeria, Shawn Shenefield, said that the company provides a pizza box that not only reduces its environmental footprint, but also adds convenience to the lives of its customers. Co-Founder of Ecovention, LLC, Jennifer Wright, said that her company is proud to have a presence in such a major Boston staple, which paves the way for the expansion of the GreenBox product up the East Coast.


The Windy City is about to get windier. And hopefully, less reliant on fossil fuels.  IKEA recently announced their purchase of Hoopeston Wind, a wind farm of 49 wind turbines near Hoopeston in Vermilion County, two hours south of Chicago.  The purchase is the first wind power investment IKEA has made in the USA and their largest renewable energy project ever.  And, it will put them off the power grid in the US. This is huge news.

Hoopeston Wind Farm will be operational in 2015 and is part of their larger strategy to offset the company’s energy needs by 2020. The investment coincides with their plans for growth in the US, opening two new stores in 2014 and partnering with a US-based supplier.  Apex Clean Energy, a renewable energy company based in Virginia will lead the project.  They know the business and hold a portfolio of over $10 billion in solar and wind energy.

Apex President Mark Goodwin said, “Wind energy has been the fastest growing source of new energy generation in the US, and the potential is only beginning to be tapped. This project with IKEA US is an opportunity for Apex to work with a new type of investor and partner to expand wind energy development in this country.”

Hoopeston Wind Farm is expected to generate up to 380 GWh of renewable energy each year. What does this mean in real numbers? The energy produced by the turbines is equivalent to the energy used by 70 IKEA stores.  In fact, this wind farm will produce 1.5 times the amount of energy needed by IKEA’s operations in the USA. This includes 38 of their mammoth stores, five distribution centers, two service centers and one factory.  Opening two, new stores this year will hardly put a dent in the excess. So what will they do with the surplus energy?

Offset? IKEA plans to sell the wind power on the open, energy market and recover their costs.

“We are committed to renewable energy and to running our business in a way that minimizes our carbon emissions, not only because of the environmental impact, but also because it makes good financial sense,” said Rob Olson, Chief Financial Officer of IKEA.

It makes more than ‘good’ financial sense for the company. It makes other companies who aren’t pursuing renewable energy options look like ancient, fossil fuel using dinosaurs. IKEA is moving full force off the grid. They will soon hold the number two spot for the largest solar owner and user in the US. The Hoopeston Wind Farm will completely offset their US operations and put them off the grid.

“It’s about taking care of the environment and living within our means,” Olson told the Chicago Tribune. “We invest in our own renewable energy sources so that we can control our exposure to fluctuating electricity costs and continue providing great value to our customers,” he said.

Well, Mr. Olson, keep leading the way so that the dinosaurs may be forced to follow.

IMF's Take On How To Tax Fuels

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommends taxing fuels according to the environmental and health damage they cause - but not in a way to generally add to the financial burden of taxpayers.
A new book from the IMF: Getting Energy Prices Right: From Principle to Practice, provides guidance for countries including United States on how to go about determining the harmful side effects of energy use and putting a price on that damage that can be reflected in the cost of those fuels.
One of the major points in the document is that coal use is pervasively undercharged, not only for carbon emissions but also the health effects caused by air pollution.
Average world coal prices in 2010 worked out to around USD $5 per gigajoule; plus whatever minimal taxes existed at that time. The IMF has suggested a tax of around USD $3.30 per gigajoule to factor in the damage coal causes.
With this sort of tax in place, renewable energy would become an even more attractive proposition. Illustrating the rapid effect of increased pricing on fuels locally, it's been revealed coal use for power generation in Western Australia has jumped and accounted for nearly half of all electricity produced last year. The reason - an increase in the price of gas. If the cost of coal increased, then wind and solar power would experience a boost.
Such a tax applied in United States would also result in an reduction of air pollution related deaths, and diseases .
In launching the report, Managing Director of the IMF's Center for Global Development, Christine Lagarde,
explained why the IMF is concerned about the environment.
"The reason is simple: a degraded environment leads to a degraded economy. Environmental damage has macroeconomic implications, and implications for the design and impact of fiscal policy."
The IMF is recommended smarter taxes rather than higher ones overall.
"This means re-calibrating tax systems to achieve fiscal objectives more efficiently, most obviously by using the proceeds to lower other burdensome taxes," said Ms. Lagarde; who also invoked Nelson Mandela when acknowledging the scale of such a task by stating, "It always seems impossible until it's done".
Chapter 1 of Getting Energy Prices Right: From
Principle to Practice can be downloaded here .

A Shining Future For US Rooftop Solar

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has forecast that of the estimated 83 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity additions in the nation between now and 2040, nearly half are expected to be photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Of that figure, 60 percent of all  PV installs will be rooftop solar.
"Solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy today - and, as this report bears out, it will continue to be for years and years to come," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Industries Association (SEIA).
"The continued, rapid deployment of solar nationwide will create thousands of new American jobs, pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy and help to significantly reduce pollution."
However, Mr. Resch warned against complacency.
"But this progress could be jeopardized if smart public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), net energy metering (NEM) and renewable portfolio standards (RPS), come under renewed attack by entrenched fossil fuel interests."
According to the EIA report, from 2006 through 2012, annual average electricity generation capacity additions in the USA were 19 GW, with 42% being renewables (primarily wind) and 45% representing gas-fired technologies.
Of the 83GW renewables capacity to be installed by 2040, 28 GW will be wind; 60% of which will occur by 2015 as developers race to take advantage of production tax credits. EIA projects that wind power capacity will increase by 8.6% in 2014 and 13.9% in 2015. Electricity generation from wind is projected to contribute 4.5% of total electricity generation in 2015.
While wind power in the USA certainly hasn't had its day; it appears it's now solar's time to shine - and not just on rooftops. EIA expects utility-scale solar capacity will have increased by 88% from the end of 2013 to the end of 2015; with approximately 70% of this new capacity installed in California.

Renewables SMASH
Conventional Energy Sources!

New figures show U.S. installations of solar and wind power smashed conventional energy sources including coal and oil during the month of May, according to the nation’s top energy regulator.
An energy infrastructure report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reveals utility-scale solar and wind power added 359MW of new energy capacity during May, or 88 percent of total capacity; while coal, oil and nuclear stalled entirely, adding exactly zero percent.
But while renewables were the winner in May, natural gas remains the biggest contributor so far this year. Natural gas trumped all other sources of energy combined, adding 49 percent of total capacity, or 1,437MW for a combined total of 3,136MW of new energy infrastructure.
Solar power trailed gas for on-year figures, adding 907MW, or 29 percent (Note: the FERC report does not include capacity from rooftop solar energy systems; only utility-scale plants are accounted for). Wind energy contributed 678MW (22 percent).
Although natural gas dominates the American energy landscape, just one new project came online in May, while a glut of renewable energy projects became operational.
They include:
Macho Springs LLC’s 48.5 MW Macho Springs Energy solar project in Luna County, NM is online. The power generated is sold to El Paso Electric Company under long-term contract.
Western Massachusetts Electric Co’s 4 MW Indian Orchard Solar Facility project in Hampden County, MA is online.
Prairie Breeze Wind Energy LLC’s 201 MW Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Farm in Antelope, Boone, and Madison Counties, NE is online. The power generated is sold to Omaha Public Power District under long-term contract.

Offshore Wind Turbine Foundation
Could Save Millions

A new 'suction bucket' foundation for anchoring offshore wind turbines to the seabed has the potential to reduce set-up costs of offshore wind energy by up to £1 billion ($US 1.7 billion) over the next decade.
The Carbon Trust's Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) – a joint-industry research and development collaborative between some of the UK’s largest wind energy companies – will in coming months host a £6.5 million industry trial of the innovative bucket foundation, which was developed by Denmark’s Universal Foundation.
The foundation's unique design removes the need for heavy pile-driven installation, which can cause environmental damage through sonic vibrations and disruption of the ocean floor. Instead, the all-in-one unit screws itself into the seabed and silt and water fill the bucket, creating suction that can anchor the platform in almost any medium.
The suction operation can also be reversed, allowing complete removal of the foundation for re-use and redeployment to other locations.
The suction bucket anchoring system is one of four novel low-cost wind turbine foundation designs shortlisted following an international Carbon Trust competition that sought new ways to lower the capital costs of installing offshore wind power.
According to the Carbon Trust’s Jan Matthiesen, designs like the suction bucket foundation could save developers up to one billion pounds and drive down the cost of energy from offshore wind farms by 10 percent over the next decade.
"The 'suction bucket' foundation is a really great innovation for the industry as you can install it faster and at lower costs than conventional steel foundations. That is good for developers and for consumers as it means it brings down the cost of offshore wind energy. This trial is critical as it will determine the extent to which it can be applied for future offshore wind projects," he said.
Universal Foundation will work with several North Sea wind energy companies, Statoil, Statkraft, EON and DONG Energy, along with a Danish university, to install and trial the suction bucket foundation at three planned wind farm sites in the OWA area.
"This is an important industry project, demonstrating cost reduction through industry collaboration and partnering," said Jan-Fredrik Stadaas, Technology Manager for Offshore Wind in Statoil. "We hope to see results from this project benefit the whole offshore wind industry, especially in the UK market."

Want to Drive On A Solar ROADWAY? 

Solar Roadways - a company with the goal of turning asphalt roads, and parking lots into solar power systems.
Solar Roadways is a modular paving system of solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks (250,000 pounds). These Solar Road Panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds... literally any surface under the sun. They pay for themselves primarily through the generation of electricity, which can power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots. A nationwide system could produce more clean renewable energy than a country uses as a whole .

They have many other features as well, including: heating elements to stay snow/ice free, LEDs to make road lines and signage, and attached Cable Corridor to store and treat stormwater and provide a "home" for power and data cables. EVs will be able to charge with energy from the sun (instead of fossil fuels) from parking lots and driveways and after a roadway system is in place, mutual induction technology will allow for charging while driving.

Back in 2009, Solar Roadways received a grant  from the USA's Federal Highway Administration. In 2010, the company won the GE Ecomagination Challenge. Solar Roadways was awarded a follow-up 2-year Phase II $750,000 SBIR contract by the Federal Highway Administration beginning in 2011.
Since that time, the company has built a small phase-2 prototype.

To this point, the company has consisted of husband and wife team Julie and Scott Brusaw plus a few volunteers and an advisory board.
Solar Roadways is now ready for the next step - to hire an initial team of engineers to optimise the product and streamline processes so that Solar Roadways can move from prototype to production.

If the company's ultimate goal is realized, they believe the Solar Roadways concept could power the entire USA.

Renewable Energy Employs 6.5 Million 

A  new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows approximately 6.5 million people were employed in the renewable energy industry globally last year; substantially up from 5.7 million in 2012.


"With 6.5 million people directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy, the sector is proving that it is no longer a niche, it has become a significant employer worldwide," said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.


Of the 6.5 million, 2,273,000 were employed in the solar PV sector; the numbers spurred on by demand in China and Japan. The Chinese PV value chain is estimated by IRENA to have employed 1.6 million people last year.


Wind employment remained relatively stable at 800,000 jobs.


The biggest employers in the renewables industry last year were China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany, Spain and Bangladesh respectively.


"In general, manufacturing employment has shifted towards Asia as the share of Europe and the United States in global module production declined from 43% in 2007 to 14% in 2012. In the same year, China accounted for 64% of global production, Japan for 5%, and other Asian countries (such as Malaysia and South Korea) for 16% (Mehta, 2013)," states the report.


While the employment outlook for renewables looks bright on a global scale, IRENA warns education and training are critical enablers and skill shortages are already creating bottlenecks for deployment in some countries.


With regard to solar, the biggest skill gaps are solar power and solar thermal system installers and maintainers, plus building inspectors. The wind power sector is lacking project developers, service technicians, data analysts and electrical, computer, mechanical and construction engineers


IRENA's Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2014 (May 2014) can be downloaded here (PDF). IRENA works on behalf of the renewables sector to promote the acceleration of renewable energy uptake worldwide

CO2 Reduction
Increases GDP by $17.2 Billion and
Creates 611,000  New Jobs?

Energy Efficiency Would Allow EPA to Set More Aggressive CO2 Reduction Targets, Increasing GDP by $17.2 Billion and Creating 611,000 New Jobs, While Providing States More Flexibility to Manage their Energy Resources.

Washington, D.C.—A
new study by ACEEE outlines how energy efficiency could be used in an upcoming standard by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce CO2 levels with no net cost to the economy. The standard, currently under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget and likely to be released in early June, would set a CO2 emissions limit for existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

The study shows how the Environmental Protection Agency could use four common energy efficiency policies to set a carbon pollution standard that reduces emissions to 26% below 2012 levels. In 2030, these policies would save 600 million tons of
greenhouse gas emissions, save over 925 million MWh of electricity, reduce electricity demand by 25%, and avoid the need for 494 power plants.

ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel“If the Environmental Protection Agency is looking for a way to cheaply cut carbon pollution and boost the economy while giving states the freedom to use their energy resources, energy efficiency is the answer,” said ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel.

Furthermore, adoption of these policies would significantly boost the economy, increasing the national gross domestic product by $17.2 billion and creating 611,000 new jobs across the country in 2030. This number includes people employed in jobs directly related to energy efficiency like home contractors and construction, and people like small business owners and their employees who benefit as money saved is spent back into the local economy.

“Energy efficiency is a proven economic driver that can help states already committed to reducing their energy waste, leveraging American ingenuity to create jobs while cleaning up the air,” said Richard Caperton, director of national policy and partnerships at Opower.

Compliance with a new CO2 standard for existing power plants will ultimately fall to the states. Including energy efficiency in the standard as a way to meet the CO2 reduction targets will allow states more flexibility as they find ways to manage their energy portfolios.

The good news is that the energy efficiency technologies included in the plan have already been tested and are ready to be deployed. The vast majority of states already take advantage of some end-use energy efficiency programs and policies, and all states have vast untapped reserves of this resource.

The four policies included in the plan are: setting a state energy savings target of 1.5% per year, implementing updated national model building codes, constructing economically attractive combined heat and power facilities, and adopting standards for five appliances.

Since the 1970s, energy efficiency has been a major contributor to the U.S. energy landscape. Previous research by ACEEE found that economy-wide improvements in energy efficiency contributed to a more than a 50% reduction in U.S. energy use relative to what it would have been if pre-1973 trends continued. Economy-wide improvements in energy efficiency, along with structural changes in our economy, supplied more energy than domestic coal, natural gas, and oil combined.

recent report by ACEEE also found that energy efficiency is the lowest-cost electricity resource for utilities. Programs aimed at helping customers save energy cost utilities only about three cents per kilowatt hour, while generating the same amount of electricity from burning coal or natural gas can cost two to three times more.

“Energy efficiency is the ultimate resource: clean, reliable, and cheap,” said the new study’s lead author, Sara Hayes. “The Environmental Protection Agency has the opportunity to improve our air quality and our economy in one fell swoop.”

THE BRITISH Are Getting FREE Solar

Solar photovoltaic cells (PVs) are developing efficiency fast and there is no more advancing area than the optimisation of usage with suitable software. One company that uses its software with a subsidiary of Macquarie is the UK's PassivSystems. Irradiance-adjusted data from rooftops has helped develop the software, with the future suggesting a large subscription base of users, all contributing more data.

Subscribers are tied to a 5-10 year contract. The "free solar PV" roll-out targets up to 25,000 homes' rooftops. The software monitoring platform adjusts to irradiance and also captures data and faults so that the maximum yield is available at all times. Free solar panels for residential premises will be available for 1500 houses per month, depending on the installers.

Zero carbon homes in Italy are the inspiration behind PassivSystems various technologies. While Macquarie are rolling out up to 25,000 PV installations on private and social housing in the UK, PassivSystems are further enhancing their software to match the specific housing types. Nottingham and Bournemouth are likely to be among the first to appreciate the extra efficiency of the software analytics. The result will be additional document management, asset tracking workflow, audit and management software in 2014.

Individual homeowners can take advantage of a platform holding the software in . 21 million UK households have internet connections, in addition to cell-phone use (mobiles.) so the vast majority of the population will have access to a free system, paid for by the supplier!

Good news indeed. The follow-up of massive solar installations will hopefully leave Britain with a solar capacity greater than the tremendous wind and tidal power uptake to date. The short-term winners are the end-users in their house, with no costs and free daytime electricity. We have no way of making the sun shine at night yet, but you never know.

Income from excess FIT , fed into the National Grid and subsidised by the UK government will be inflation-proofed seems to go to the companies owning the equipment. The founder of PassivSystems is Colin Calder who is capable of putting it all in a nutshell with "The way in which organisations monitor their solar PV systems can make the difference between an investment fully realised and an investment exposed to unnecessary risk. The rooftop PV systems managed on the PassivPro platform will provide consumers with green sustainable energy and help to reduce their energy bills."

SolarAid Reaches Major Solar Light Milestone

SolarAid, an international charity that provides access to affordable solar lighting in developing nations, has reached an impressive milestone - one million lights.
We first wrote about SolarAid in 2009, shortly after the organisation was established. By late 2010 it was selling around 2,000 lights per month.
Steve Andrews [center]

Under the leadership of CEO Steve Andrews, who joined SolarAid that year, sales skyrocketed to around 65,000 lights per month. Around 60% of the near-million solar light tally has been sold in just the last 12 months.
 Mr. Andrews, who will be leaving SolarAid shortly, is ending his tenure on a high note.
"I am incredibly proud of the team that is achieving this spectacular growth; we are on track now for an Africa free of kerosene lanterns by 2020, our ultimate mission. Building the SunnyMoney operation has been a truly great adventure."

Key to the great success, SunnyMoney works with local entrepreneurs to help them build a successful business from selling solar lights - locals selling to locals through social enterprise.
The payback time of a solar light through savings on expensive, polluting fuel such as kerosene is around 12 weeks for a basic study light. The current generation of lights last for at least five years.
Even at the low cost, some are unable to afford the lights - so SolarAid also offers a program where donors can sponsor lights for families.
SolarAid was named among the winners of the 2013 International Ashden Awards and was also the winner of a £500,000 Google Global Impact Award last year.
The organization has set a goal of distributing another million solar lights in the next 12 months.
More than half a billion Africans have no access to electricity; relying mainly on kerosene for lighting. "These brutal lamps emit noxious black smoke and burn up to 20% of the household income - locking millions into poverty," says SolarAid.

Scotland Becomes One of the World's Wealthiest Nations with Renewable Energy   

Scotland’s control over a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and marine energy has helped it become one of the world’s wealthiest nations, according to new analysis released today.

The new figures from the Scottish Government show that Scotland with its broad base of economic strengths would be ranked as the 14th wealthiest nation per head within the OECD, the grouping of the world’s richest countries.

The updated research shows that including North Sea output, Scotland’s GDP per capita in 2012 was 11 per cent above that of the UK which is ranked 18th out of the 34 OECD countries. Both Scotland and the UK maintain their rankings compared to updated international comparisons for 2011.

The rankings are dominated by small independent countries with 7 of the top ten nations in the OECD in 2012 having populations of less than 10 million people.

The research complements work by the Financial Times, which ranked Scotland as the 19th wealthiest nation in the world, compared to the UK in 23rd place and comes after ratings agency Standard and Poor’s confirmed an independent Scotland would qualify for its "highest economic assessment".

Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney
confirmed the figures in a speech to Edinburgh University on the economic opportunities of independence.

He said: “There is no doubt that Scotland can more than afford to be a successful independent nation. With our vast natural resources, skilled work force and broad-based industrial strengths, Scotland performs strongly against international competitors.

"This analysis shows that an independent Scotland would be the 14th wealthiest nation per head within the OECD compared to that of the UK, which is ranked 18th, and with the powers of independence we would be able to harness that wealth for the benefit of people in Scotland.

Seven of the top 10 countries in the OECD have populations of less than 10 million people, demonstrating what can be achieved by small independent countries with the powers to manage their own economies.

Scotland has five of the world’s top 200 universities, a booming food and drink industry worth over £13bn a year, a huge market for tourism, 25% of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal energy and growing potential in areas like life science, low carbon manufacturing and in our rural and island economies."

2013: A Record
Year For Solar In The USA

More solar has been installed in the USA in the last 18 months than in the three decades years prior.
According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association's (SEIA) Solar Market Insight Year in Review 2013, solar panel installations increased 41 percent in 2013 over 2012 to reach 4,751 megawatts (MW). Additionally, 410 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) was made operational.
By the end of last year, more than 440,000 solar power systems were operating in the U.S.; totaling over 12,000 MW of PV and 918 MW of CSP. The market value of all PV installations completed last year has been estimated at $13.7 billion.
"2013 offered the U.S. solar market the first real glimpse of its path toward mainstream status," said Shayle Kann, Senior Vice President at GTM Research.
Solar power, the most rapidly growing source of renewable energy in America, is now generating enough electricity to power more than 2.2 million homes.
The final quarter of last year was the biggest quarter ever for PV installations in the USA;   with 2,106 MW of capacity brought online, up 60 percent over the next best quarter (Q4 2012).
The 2013 top 10 solar states based on the amount of capacity installed last year:

  • California - 2745.8MW
  • Arizona - 700.7MW
  • North Carolina - 335.4MW
  • Massachusetts - 237.2MW
  • New Jersey - 235.6MW
  • Hawaii - 15-.6MW
  • Georgia - 90.9MW
  • Texas - 75.2MW
  • New York - 69.4MW
  • Colorado - 55.9MW
Solar represented 29% of all new electricity generation capacity in 2013, making it the second-largest source of new generating capacity behind natural gas.
GTM Research forecasts 26 percent PV installation growth in 2014, with installations reaching nearly 6 GW. The sector to grow most rapidly will be the residential market.

Further detail from the U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2013 report can be viewed here.

SunEdison Enters UK Solar Market
With 56MW Portfolio

US-based SunEdison has burst on to the UK renewables scene after a financing agreement with Deutsche Bank.
The debt financing agreement is in relation to four large scale solar projects currently under construction in Swindon, Wiltshire, North Devon and on the Essex/Suffolk border.
The projects have a collective capacity of 56 megawatts and are expected to be fully operational by the end of next month.
Upon completion, the solar power projects will be sold to Foresight Solar Energy Fund Ltd., but SunEdison will continue to manage the facilities. Power generated by the solar farms will be purchased by SmartestEnergy.
"We view the United Kingdom as a high-growth market for solar and for our company, we are looking forward to supporting economic growth for the United Kingdom through solar projects that create jobs and support the local economy while delivering predictably priced energy," said Jose Perez, SunEdison's President of EMEA and Latin America.
In other SunEdison news, the company recently announced it had commenced full-time operations at its 18 MW Tirunelveli solar power plant in Tamil Nadu, India.
The project allows businesses to purchase part of the Tirunelveli Solar Park and lock in electricity pricing for 25 years. SunEdison says investors can typically expect payback of their equity investment as a tax credit within the first year.
"The Tirunelveli Solar Park is a tremendous growth opportunity for our company because it allows us to reach a new customer base of businesses," said Pashupathy Gopalan, President, SunEdison, Asia Pacific, GCC and South Africa. "We've developed this model to make solar a hassle-free investment for businesses."
It's been a busy month for the company - SunEdison also recently announced completion of a 16.4 megawatt solar farm located on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona and a feasibility study for the construction of an estimated $6.4 billion, 3 GW solar PV manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia.

Dual-Use Farms - Installing Solar Over Crops

ReNewable Now is always on the look-out for innovative ideas when it comes to the business side of green, and when we heard about the report out of India that farmers could leverage they crop fields into a dual source of income we had to share it with you. We love this and if you know of any farms here in the U.S. that is doing it please let us know and we will follow-up with them for a first-hand report. Enjoy the article.

It's been suggested that installing solar arrays over crops would not only generate significant amounts of power, but could benefit crops as well.
In a paper by researchers from Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute and Medha College of Engineering, India; the authors state solar panels installed in a chessboard-type pattern 5 metres above crops would still allow sufficient sunlight through and help to reduce UV-A and UV-B radiation when it is at its strongest.
"It is expected that this reduction in sunlight near noon time may help the plant to grow more and give better yield."

The trick to this is in the spacing - based on computer modelling, the researchers have settled on 7.6 m or 11.4 m as the optimum space between panels.
"Thus it is a win-win situation for both the farmer and the power industry developer. The power generated from his land can be used by the farmer on priority. Excess energy from his land can be connected to the main power grid or to the micro grid such that his village is also benefited."
The concept has been geared primarily towards farmers in India, where blackouts and electricity shortages are generally widespread; but the authors state it could be applied elsewhere.
The full paper, titled Solar Energy Generation Using Agriculture Cultivated Lands, can be viewed here (PDF).
While installing panels over crops may perhaps not be viable for all farms; many U.S. farming operations also have extensive shedding. This is often prime rooftop real estate for solar panels. Land within a holding not suited to cropping or grazing can also be utilized for solar electricity production; allowing farmers to slash their power costs and in some cases, creating an extra revenue stream by exporting surplus power generated to the mains grid.
With abundant sunlight in most parts of the United States and commercial scale solar power offering a rapid payback period, solar can be a wise low-maintenance investment for those making a living from the land.

SunEdison, Saudi Arabia Considering $6.4 billion Solar PV Plante

SunEdison, the company that started right from a supermarket roof top in Providence, RI is now now helping to turn one of the world's oil producing capitals into a sustainable kingdom. Pretty impressive when you think that a company like SunEdison humble begiinngs began in the smallest State in the U.S.  And for those of us here at ReNewable Now we hope this story inspires other businesses to see the possibilities that could be right in your own community. Nothing is impossible.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is positioning itself as a future solar energy powerhouse, with industry heavyweight SunEdison announcing it will join with local agencies in a feasibility study for the construction of an estimated $6.4 billion, 3 GW solar PV (photovoltaic) manufacturing plant at Wa'ad Al Shammal.
The announcement follows successful preliminary talks in 2013 between SunEdison and KSA’s National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP), a government agency designed to foster growth in five specific industries, including solar energy.
The Government of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Saudi Arabian Investment Company (Sanabil Investments) have both committed to the proposed project.
The plant would use SunEdison's proprietary high pressure silane fluidized bed reactor (HP-FBR) polysilicon and continuous Czochralski (CCz) crystal ingot technology to produce solar wafers, cells and panels for domestic use and to further develop the Kingdom’s solar export market.
"We anticipate substantial growth of solar PV within the Kingdom and the region. This project will support that growth, and the growth aspirations of SunEdison and our Saudi partners," said Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison.
“The combination of SunEdison technology, and the Kingdom's world-class manufacturing and energy sector expertise will enable us to capitalize on substantial growth in the Kingdom and the region, and maximize the value of solar PV projects supported by this venture.”
The proposed plant has strong government support, with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals and the Saudi Electrical Company (SEC) pledging to provide natural gas and other energy needs should construction begin; which could occur in 2017.
Eng. Azzam Shalabi, President of NICDP said, “This project will be capable of building a complete industrial eco-system that is sustainable and able to compete on a global level by utilizing pioneering technology developed by SunEdison to produce high purity polysilicon, and high-efficiency, low-cost mono-crystalline ingots, in addition to benefiting from economies of scale given the size and vertically integrated nature of the complex.”

US Solar Employment Growing at 10 Times the National Average

When it comes to job creation, it appears that the U.S. economy has undergone radical change over the past couple of decades as the full extent of neoconservative economic, trade and tax policies, along with rapid technological change, have been more fully realized.

Historically wide and growing disparities in wealth and income in developed and developing countries alike was a focal point of discussion for the world’s super-wealthy at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, while the need to create more and better jobs and economic opportunities for all Americans was the theme of President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address Tuesday evening.

The potential to spur sustainable, well-paying job growth — as well as lasting environmental and social benefits — has been one of the principal reasons the president has espoused policies and legislation that promote and foster development of renewable energy and clean technology. Though policies, legislation and regulations aimed at fostering "green" job growth have been criticized, refuted, opposed and undermined, the latest report from the Solar Foundation reveals that the U.S. solar energy sector continues to create jobs at a much higher rate than the economy overall.

56 new U.S. solar jobs a day — for over a year

Nearly 24,000 Americans got jobs in the U.S. solar industry in 2013, bringing the total number of U.S. solar industry jobs to 142,698 as of November 2013, according to the Solar Foundation’s, "National Solar Jobs Census 2013."

"Employment in the U.S. solar industry has been rising at a nearly 20 percent rate since 2012, 10 times faster than that for average national employment, according to the Solar Foundation’s report. The U.S. solar energy sector added an average 56 new employees a day between September 2012 and November 2013, surpassing forecasts."

Biofuels Patents Surge,
Small Players Drive Solar Lead

The Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) recently released its Third Quarter 2013 Results. Researched and published by the Heslin Rothenberg law firm, CEPGI is a quarterly report on clean energy patents granted in the United States.

CEPGI has been tracking green patent trends by technology sector, assignee, and geography since 2002. Until very recently, fuel cell patents were the perennial leader. But as of the last report for Q2 2013, solar patents took the lead.

Though dropping by 21 in the third quarter, solar patents held the lead, with 225 granted patents in Q3. Fuel cell patents were in second place (195), with wind in third place with 146. According to the report, wind patents were down 5 from the second quarter and dropped 24 compared to the same period in 2012.

Hybrid-electric vehicle patents were in fourth place, with 108, up 14 from the last quarter and representing a large year-on-year jump of 27 patents. The largest surge was in biofuels/biomass patents, which finished with its highest ever quarterly total of 64. This was a 17-patent increase from the second quarter and a jump of 25 from Q3 2012.

The top green patent assignee in the third quarter was General Motors, with 40 patents, with Hyundai coming in second (31) and Toyota and Samsung tied for third place (27). Mitsubishi and GE were next with 25 and 21 patents, respectively, both primarily relating to wind. Rounding out the top ten were Honda, Ford, Nissan, and Kia.

The report notes that cross-referencing the assignee list with the technologies indicates that small entities are more active than large corporations in solar patenting:

[D]espite there being more Solar patents granted in the third quarter than the other technologies, among the top ten clean energy patent grantees, Fuel Cells and Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patents vastly outperformed Solar with Fuel Cells topping Solar by over eight times, at 107 to 13, suggesting that the large patent grantees are not driving the explosion in Solar patents, and instead smaller patent grantees are driving this trend.

CEPGI also breaks out patent grants by country/state of the assignee. Japan was the leader, with 151 patents granted, with California a distant second place with 70. Korea was in third place with 69 patents, followed by Michigan (61), Germany (55), New York (34), and Taiwan 31. Other states and countries with significant numbers of clean energy patents included Massachusetts (18), Texas (16), Denmark (15), Spain (14), and China (13).

Wind Turbine Blade Manufacturer Hiring at Whirlwind Rate

The economies of Grand Forks, N.D., and Little Rock, Ark. are being swept up in a green bonanza.

LM Wind Power, a global manufacturer of blades for wind turbines, says it doubled its U.S. workforce to 700 in August - up from 350 in April. And it says the boom will continue: It expects to employ some 1,200 people in the U.S. next year - most of them based at its factories in North Dakota and Arkansas.

In a press release, the company credited the extension late last year of the Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit with the growth of its workforce:

    "We are pleased to see that the market is improving again following a period of low activity due to uncertainty around the PTC," said LM Wind Power's Head of US Operations, Bill Burga Jr. "With the political framework in place, our customers are winning more business again and we are ready to serve their demand for highly efficient quality blades for the US market, adding hundreds of extra jobs. Now it is crucial that the politicians remain committed to securing a stable economic framework to enable continued industry growth and increased US employment."

By some estimates, the wind energy sector now employs about 80,000 Americans. And the decision by LM Wind Power to boost its American operations (it has factories in 14 locations all over the world) follows an encouraging trend that we told you about in August — as wind energy expands in the U.S., more of the production associated with that expansion is occurring right here in America.


Calvert Green