NewEnergyNews: 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HAWAII'S UTILITIES PLAN FOR 67% RENEWABLES BY 2030
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: CAN WARREN BUFFETT'S PACIFICORP BRING THE NORTHWEST'S RENEWABLE RICHES TO MARKET?
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: A UTILITY IN THE MAKING: THE MUNICIPALIZATION OF BOULDER, COLORADO
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT NATIONAL HIGH VOLTAGE TRANSMISSION SYSTEM?
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: THE STATE OF THE U.S. WIND INDUSTRY (AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR UTILITIES)
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SACRAMENTO'S PUBLIC UTILITY IS GETTING IN THE RESIDENTIAL SOLAR BUSINESS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HAS APS INVENTED A ROOFTOP SOLAR BUSINESS MODEL FOR UTILITIES?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: THE GRID NEEDS INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM OPERATORS
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SHOULD UTILITIES VALUE SOLAR?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: IS PUERTO RICO THE NEW POSTER CHILD FOR THE UTILITY DEATH SPIRAL?
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Reindeer Stresses
  • Weekend Video: Pink Fracking
  • Weekend Video: Fighting Duke For Solar
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: FOR A GREEN APPLE

    A Clean Energy Road Map for Apple; How Apple Can Meet its Coal-free Goal

    July 2012 (Greenpeace)

    Executive Summary

    Apple has recently made several important announcements about the electricity behind its “iCloud”, significantly increasing its ambition for the amount of clean energy powering its data centres by saying they would be “100% Renewable,” including a doubling of the amount of solar power attached to its North Carolina facility. Apple’s chief financial officer, Peter Oppenheimer, said that Apple will set a new bar for the sector by making all three of Apple’s current data centres “coal free” by 2013.

    This new ambition to be “coal free” is welcome news for the 125 million current iCloud users2, and represents a significant improvement in Apple’s energy choices. However, many details and questions remain about how Apple will achieve its 100% renewable goal from the public dialogue Greenpeace International has had with the company. Two of Apple’s three current data centres operate in regions that are 50-60% coal powered, and will require significant new investment or a clear decision by Apple to buy electricity from cleaner sources in order to be considered coal free. Such changes for the electricity supply chain for Apple’s data centre in North Carolina in particular are not likely to occur overnight.

    The following analysis updates our evaluation of Apple to account for its recent clean energy announcements, and outlines the additional steps Apple should take to fulfill its laudable ambition to set a new bar with a “coal-free” and 100% renewably-powered iCloud.

    Greenpeace International is rescoring Apple now because of its recent ambitious and public commitments to clean energy. In a subsequent report in 2012, Greenpeace International will also re-evaluate Microsoft and Amazon in light of any action – or inaction – those companies have taken to clean up the energy sources powering their cloud services. Energy scores in the Company Scorecard have been updated from the April release of the “How Clean is Your Cloud?” report to reflect data from the latest 2012 EPA information on state energy mixes.3 We have not updated the letter grades or key sustainability criteria for companies other than Apple.

    In summary, Apple’s customers should watch to see if Apple takes the following steps that would indicate if it is truly on the path to meet its ambitious goals. Apple should:

    • Choose a renewable-powered local utility for its Oregon data centre, not buy renewable energy credits from coal-powered Pacific Power.

    • Use renewable electricity from onsite generation to directly power its North Carolina facility, and use grid power solely for backup, rather than selling its renewable electricity to Duke Energy.

    • Secure a sustainable source of biogas to directly power its fuel cells for North Carolina.

    • Retire renewable energy credits from electricity generated onsite in North Carolina.

    • Invest directly in new renewable energy generation in North Carolina rather than buying renewable credits to “green” Duke Energy’s dirty electricity.

    • Demand Duke Energy eliminate its mountaintop coal removal operations from Apple’s electricity supply chain, and demand that Duke invest in new renewable energy generation capacity, not retrofitting and extending the lifetime of dirty coal plants.

    • Adopt a data centre siting policy that prioritises access to renewable energy for any future iCloud data centres.

    Ultimately, if Apple wants to get serious about its commitment to a coal-free iCloud, the most important thing it can do is to use its buying leverage with Duke Energy and other utilities to push for cleaner electricity options. Currently, Duke Energy’s investment plans call for continued reliance on coal and nuclear power, with less than 4% of the electricity it generates in North Carolina coming from renewable energy by 2030. Apple has the ability to bend that trajectory toward cleaner sources of power.

    Just as Apple has been widely asked to actively engage with other aspects of its supply chain to push for fairer labour standards, Apple must do the same with its electricity supply chain. As a large and rapidly growing energy user, Apple cannot be a sustainability leader if it remains a passive recipient of the electricity it is provided from dirty utilities. To show true leadership, the company has to be willing to use its influence to change the electricity ecosystem outside the walls of its data centres as well…

    Clean energy advocacy champion

    Ultimately, if Apple is serious about its commitment to a coal-free iCloud, the most important thing the company can do is to use its buying leverage with Duke to push for cleaner energy options. Currently, Duke’s investment plans call for continued reliance on coal and nuclear power, with less than 4% of the electricity coming from renewable energy in North Carolina by 2030.24 If Duke made the right investments today, North Carolina could be on a pathway to be 100% renewable and coal-free by 2030.

    Apple should start by explicitly asking Duke to cease burning coal from mountaintop removal mining, the most destructive form of coal mining for ecosystems and communities in Appalachia. Pressuring Duke to phase out mountaintop removal mining, decrease its dependence on coal, and significantly increase renewable electricity in North Carolina is the long-term solution for Apple to achieve its ambitious “coal free” goal at its Maiden data centre. That would be good not only for Apple, but for the citizens of North Carolina, and particularly for communities in North Carolina and Appalachia suffering from the impacts of coal mining and burning.

    Growing a green iCloud over the long term

    Apple has made important strides in its embrace of clean energy for the iCloud in recent weeks. To demonstrate it is committed in the long term to building a truly renewable iCloud, Apple needs to adopt a corporate policy that shows a commitment to renewable energy for the iCloud as it continues its surging growth. Two principle ways Apple could demonstrate such a commitment are to:

    (1) Adopt a siting policy that expresses a preference to build data centres where the grid is already clean, as Facebook has done.25 A siting policy would be a clear indication of lasting renewable leadership and would send a clear signal to the marketplace that the cloud should be powered by renewable energy.

    (2) Set a steadily increasing renewable energy goal – one that does not rely on the use of RECs – for Apple’s data centre infrastructure as it continues to grow. While RECs allow Apple to quickly pay for the right to claim its iCloud is renewable powered, the reality on the ground will continue to reflect that the iCloud is increasing demand for dirty energy, particularly in North Carolina where nearby plants are powered by mountaintop removal coal.

    Greenpeace will continue to work with Apple and Apple’s customers until the company develops a commitment that all of its current and future data centres move toward clean energy, not coal. While Apple has made impressive recent strides in investing in on-site renewable energy, it still has a lot of work to do to make good on this commitment. If it does that, and develops a policy that promises the same for its future growth, Greenpeace – and, more importantly, Apple’s customers – will recognise the company for becoming a leader in the new clean energy economy.

    QUICK NEWS, July 31: U.S. LEVIES WIND TOWER TARIFF ON CHINA, VIETNAM; FEDS SPEED SOLAR PERMITS; PHEV GO, EV NO

    U.S. LEVIES WIND TOWER TARIFF ON CHINA, VIETNAM Commerce Preliminarily Finds Dumping of Imports of Utility Scale Wind Towers from the People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

    July 27, 2012 (International Trade Administration)

    “…[T]he Department of Commerce (Commerce) announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of utility scale wind towers from the People’s Republic of China (China) and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnam)…[D]umping occurs when a foreign company sells a product in the United States at less than fair value.

    “…Commerce preliminarily determined…[in] the China investigation… Chengxi Shipyard Co., Ltd. and Titan Wind Energy (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. received preliminary dumping margins of 30.93 percent and 20.85 percent…Three other exporters qualified for a separate rate of 26.25 percent. All other Chinese producers/exporters received a preliminary dumping margin of 72.69 percent…In the Vietnam investigation, mandatory respondent, CS Wind Corporation and CS Wind Vietnam Co. Ltd….received a preliminary dumping margin of 52.67 percent. All other Vietnamese producers/exporters received a preliminary dumping margin of 59.91 percent."

    “…Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to require a cash deposit based on these preliminary rates…[For investigations] filed on or after November 2, 2011, Commerce requires importers to post cash deposits rather than bonds to cover estimated duties. [Commerce is currently scheduled to make its final determination for China and Vietnam in December 2012…[T]he U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will make its final injury determinations in the China and Vietnam investigations in February 2013]…

    “…The petitioner for these investigations is the Wind Tower Trade Coalition. The Wind Tower Trade Coalition is comprised of the following member companies: Broadwind Towers, Inc. (Manitowoc, WI); DMI Industries (Fargo, ND); Katana Summit LLC (Columbus, NE); and Trinity Structural Towers, Inc. (Dallas, TX)… The merchandise covered by these investigations is utility scale wind towers which are the steel towers that support the nacelle…”

    FEDS SPEED SOLAR PERMITS Obama solar energy plan aims to speed up permitting process

    Joe Nelson, July 28, 2012 (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

    “The Obama Administration has released a sweeping environmental plan for solar energy projects in California's Mojave Desert and five other western states that aims to expedite the permitting process while protecting sensitive lands and endangered wildlife…The Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement…marks what the Departments of Interior and Energy are calling a ‘historic milestone’ in the nation's effort to accelerate renewable energy projects. It is the first-ever roadmap for large-scale solar energy development on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah…

    “The plan establishes 17 solar energy zones on 285,000 acres across the six states…Each zone was selected due to their minimal impact on the environment, which translates into a streamlining of the permitting process…Targeted areas for solar development are characterized by excellent solar resources, good energy transmission potential, and relatively low conflict with biological, cultural and historic resources…[T]he blueprint also allows for utility-scale solar development on approximately 19 million acres in [peripheral] areas…”

    “…[T]he environmental impact statement…Outlines a process for industry, the public and other interested stakeholders to propose new or expanded solar energy zones…Includes strong incentives for development within the designated solar energy zones including faster and easier permitting, improved mitigation strategies and economic incentives…

    “…Sets a clear process that allows for development of well-sited projects…Protects natural and cultural resources by excluding 78 million acres…Identifies best practices features for solar energy development…[and establishes] a framework for regional mitigation plans.”

    PHEV GO, EV NO Plug-in hybrid sales soar; all-electric cars stay in low gear; Analysts say electric cars' limited range and higher prices, as well as the lack of a widespread public charging infrastructure, have hurt the appeal of the vehicles. But sales of plug-in hybrids — vehicles that can travel miles on battery power before a traditional gasoline engine kicks in — are soaring.

    Jerry Hirsch, July 27, 2012 (LA Times via Seattle Times)

    “…Sales of what are considered "pure" electric cars — they run off just a battery — have risen to slightly over 4,100 during the first six months of this year, up just 6 percent [234 cars] from the same period a year earlier…even though Ford, BMW, Honda and Mitsubishi all have joined pioneer Nissan in offering electric vehicles. Analysts say electric cars' limited range and higher prices, as well as the lack of a widespread public charging infrastructure, have hurt…

    “But sales of plug-in hybrids — vehicles that can travel some miles on battery power before a traditional gasoline engine kicks in — are soaring…[A] resurgent Chevrolet Volt and Toyota's introduction of a plug-in version of its popular Prius [sent] sales of such vehicles…[up] 381 percent to more than 13,000 in the first half of this year...”

    “…Ford announced…its first plug-in hybrid — the C-Max Energi small crossover, which comes out later this year…will be able to travel about 20 miles on electricity alone but could go an additional 530 miles with the help of its gasoline engine…[Ford] plans to charge $33,745…

    “General Motors has sold 8,817 Chevrolet Volts in the first half of this year, a 221 percent increase. That includes 1,760 sold in June. Volt sales have been helped by the car's recent qualification for California's rebate and carpool-lane permits. About 28 percent of its sales last month were in California…Toyota has sold 4,374 [of a 2012 forecast 15,000 Prius plug-in sales] through June, about 60 percent in California…Nissan sold only 3,148 all-electric Leafs in this year's first half, down 18.8 percent from a year earlier…”

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE OFFICIAL U.S. ENERGY PICTURE, UPDATED

    EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2012 UPDATE

    July 2012 (Energy Information Administration/U.S. Department of Energy)

    Updated Annual Energy Outlook 2012 Reference case (June 2012)

    The Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012) Reference case included as part of this complete report, released in June 2012, was updated from the Reference case released as part of the AEO2012 Early Release Overview in January 2012. The Reference case was updated to incorporate modeling changes and reflect new legislation or regulation that was not available when the Early Release Overview version of the Reference case was published. Major changes made in the Reference include:

    • The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) issued by the EPA in December 2011 was incorporated.

    • The long-term macroeconomic projection was revised, based on the November 2011 long-term projection from IHS Global Insights, Inc.

    • The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which was included in the Early Release Reference case, was kept in the final Reference case. In December 2011, a District Court delayed the rule from going into effect while in litigation.

    • The California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) was removed from the final Reference case, given the Federal court ruling in December 2011 that found some aspects of it to be unconstitutional.

    • Historical data and equations for the transportation sector were revised to reflect revised data from NHTSA and FHWA.

    • A new cement model was incorporated in the industrial sector.

    • Photovoltaic capacity estimates for recent historical years (2009 and 2010) were updated to line up more closely with Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) reports.

    • Gulf of Mexico production data were revised downward to reflect data reported by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management more closely.

    • Data in the electricity model were revised to reflect 2009 electric utility financial data (electric utility plant in service, operations and maintenance costs, etc.) and refine the breakdown of associated costs between the generation, transmission, and distribution components.

    • Higher capital costs for fabric filters were adopted in the analysis of MATS, based on EPA data.

    • Reservoir-level oil data were updated to improve the API gravity and sulfur content data elements.

    • The assumed volume of natural gas used at export liquefaction facilities was revised. Future analyses using the AEO2012 Reference case will start from the version of the Reference case released with this complete report.

    Executive Summary

    The projections in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012) focus on the factors that shape the U.S. energy system over the long term. Under the assumption that current laws and regulations remain unchanged throughout the projections, the AEO2012 Reference case provides the basis for examination and discussion of energy production, consumption, technology, and market trends and the direction they may take in the future. It also serves as a starting point for analysis of potential changes in energy policies. But AEO2012 is not limited to the Reference case. It also includes 29 alternative cases (see Appendix E, Table E1), which explore important areas of uncertainty for markets, technologies, and policies in the U.S. energy economy. Many of the implications of the alternative cases are discussed in the “Issues in focus” section of this report.

    Key results highlighted in AEO2012 include continued modest growth in demand for energy over the next 25 years and increased domestic crude oil and natural gas production, largely driven by rising production from tight oil and shale resources. As a result, U.S. reliance on imported oil is reduced; domestic production of natural gas exceeds consumption, allowing for net exports; a growing share of U.S. electric power generation is met with natural gas and renewables; and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remain below their 2005 level from 2010 to 2035, even in the absence of new Federal policies designed to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

    The rate of growth in energy use slows over the projection period, reflecting moderate population growth, an extended economic recovery, and increasing energy efficiency in end-use applications

    Overall U.S. energy consumption grows at an average annual rate of 0.3 percent from 2010 through 2035 in the AEO2012 Reference case. The U.S. does not return to the levels of energy demand growth experienced in the 20 years prior to the 2008-2009 recession, because of more moderate projected economic growth and population growth, coupled with increasing levels of energy efficiency. For some end uses, current Federal and State energy requirements and incentives play a continuing role in requiring more efficient technologies. Projected energy demand for transportation grows at an annual rate of 0.1 percent from 2010 through 2035 in the Reference case, and electricity demand grows by 0.7 percent per year, primarily as a result of rising energy consumption in the buildings sector. Energy consumption per capita declines by an average of 0.6 percent per year from 2010 to 2035 (Figure 1). The energy intensity of the U.S. economy, measured as primary energy use in British thermal units (Btu) per dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005 dollars, declines by an average of 2.1 percent per year from 2010 to 2035. New Federal and State policies could lead to further reductions in energy consumption. The potential impact of technology change and the proposed vehicle fuel efficiency standards on energy consumption are discussed in “Issues in focus.”

    Domestic crude oil production increases

    Domestic crude oil production has increased over the past few years, reversing a decline that began in 1986. U.S. crude oil production increased from 5.0 million barrels per day in 2008 to 5.5 million barrels per day in 2010. Over the next 10 years, continued development of tight oil, in combination with the ongoing development of offshore resources in the Gulf of Mexico, pushes domestic crude oil production higher. Because the technology advances that have provided for recent increases in supply are still in the early stages of development, future U.S. crude oil production could vary significantly, depending on the outcomes of key uncertainties related to well placement and recovery rates. Those uncertainties are highlighted in this Annual Energy Outlook’s “Issues in focus” section, which includes an article examining impacts of uncertainty about current estimates of the crude oil and natural gas resources. The AEO2012 projections considering variations in these variables show total U.S. crude oil production in 2035 ranging from 5.5 million barrels per day to 7.8 million barrels per day, and projections for U.S. tight oil production from eight selected plays in 2035 ranging from 0.7 million barrels per day to 2.8 million barrels per day (Figure 2).

    With modest economic growth, increased efficiency, growing domestic production, and continued adoption of nonpetroleum liquids, net imports of petroleum and other liquids make up a smaller share of total U.S. energy consumption

    U.S. dependence on imported petroleum and other liquids declines in the AEO2012 Reference case, primarily as a result of rising energy prices; growth in domestic crude oil production to more than 1 million barrels per day above 2010 levels in 2020; an increase of 1.2 million barrels per day crude oil equivalent from 2010 to 2035 in the use of biofuels, much of which is produced domestically; and slower growth of energy consumption in the transportation sector as a result of existing corporate average fuel economy standards. Proposed fuel economy standards covering vehicle model years (MY) 2017 through 2025 that are not included in the Reference case would further reduce projected need for liquid imports.

    Although U.S. consumption of petroleum and other liquid fuels continues to grow through 2035 in the Reference case, the reliance on imports of petroleum and other liquids as a share of total consumption declines. Total U.S. consumption of petroleum and other liquids, including both fossil fuels and biofuels, rises from 19.2 million barrels per day in 2010 to 19.9 million barrels per day in 2035 in the Reference case. The net import share of domestic consumption, which reached 60 percent in 2005 and 2006 before falling to 49 percent in 2010, continues falling in the Reference case to 36 percent in 2035 (Figure 3). Proposed light-duty vehicles (LDV) fuel economy standards covering vehicle MY 2017 through 2025, which are not included in the Reference case, could further reduce demand for petroleum and other liquids and the need for imports, and increased supplies from U.S. tight oil deposits could also significantly decrease the need for imports, as discussed in more detail in “Issues in focus.”

    Natural gas production increases throughout the projection period, allowing the United States to transition from a net importer to a net exporter of natural gas

    Much of the growth in natural gas production in the AEO2012 Reference case results from the application of recent technological advances and continued drilling in shale plays with high concentrations of natural gas liquids and crude oil, which have a higher value than dry natural gas in energy equivalent terms. Shale gas production increases in the Reference case from 5.0 trillion cubic feet per year in 2010 (23 percent of total U.S. dry gas production) to 13.6 trillion cubic feet per year in 2035 (49 percent of total U.S. dry gas production). As with tight oil, when looking forward to 2035, there are unresolved uncertainties surrounding the technological advances that have made shale gas production a reality. The potential impact of those uncertainties results in a range of outcomes for U.S. shale gas production from 9.7 to 20.5 trillion cubic feet per year when looking forward to 2035.

    As a result of the projected growth in production, U.S. natural gas production exceeds consumption early in the next decade in the Reference case (Figure 4). The outlook reflects increased use of liquefied natural gas in markets outside North America, strong growth in domestic natural gas production, reduced pipeline imports and increased pipeline exports, and relatively low natural gas prices in the United States.

    Power generation from renewables and natural gas continues to increase

    In the Reference case, the natural gas share of electric power generation increases from 24 percent in 2010 to 28 percent in 2035, while the renewables share grows from 10 percent to 15 percent. In contrast, the share of generation from coal-fired power plants declines. The historical reliance on coal-fired power plants in the U.S. electric power sector has begun to wane in recent years.

    Over the next 25 years, the share of electricity generation from coal falls to 38 percent, well below the 48-percent share seen as recently as 2008, due to slow growth in electricity demand, increased competition from natural gas and renewable generation, and the need to comply with new environmental regulations. Although the current trend toward increased use of natural gas and renewables appears fairly robust, there is uncertainty about the factors influencing the fuel mix for electricity generation. AEO2012 includes several cases examining the impacts on coal-fired plant generation and retirements resulting from different paths for electricity demand growth, coal and natural gas prices, and compliance with upcoming environmental rules.

    While the Reference case projects 49 gigawatts of coal-fired generation retirements over the 2011 to 2035 period, nearly all of which occurs over the next 5 years, the range for cumulative retirements of coal-fired power plants over the projection period varies considerably across the alternative cases (Figure 5), from a low of 34 gigawatts (11 percent of the coal-fired generator fleet) to a high of 70 gigawatts (22 percent of the fleet). The high end of the range is based on much lower natural gas prices than those assumed in the Reference case; the lower end of the range is based on stronger economic growth, leading to stronger growth in electricity demand and higher natural gas prices.

    Other alternative cases, with varying assumptions about coal prices and the length of the period over which environmental compliance costs will be recovered, but no assumption of new policies to limit GHG emissions from existing plants, also yield cumulative retirements within a range of 34 to 70 gigawatts. Retirements of coal-fired capacity exceed the high end of the range (70 gigawatts) when a significant GHG policy is assumed (for further description of the cases and results, see “Issues in focus”).

    Total energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide in the United States remain below their 2005 level through 2035

    Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions grow slowly in the AEO2012 Reference case, due to a combination of modest economic growth, growing use of renewable technologies and fuels, efficiency improvements, slow growth in electricity demand, and increased use of natural gas, which is less carbon-intensive than other fossil fuels. In the Reference case, which assumes no explicit Federal regulations to limit GHG emissions beyond vehicle GHG standards (although State programs and renewable portfolio standards are included), energy-related CO2 emissions grow by just over 2 percent from 2010 to 2035, to a total of 5,758 million metric tons in 2035 (Figure 6). CO2 emissions in 2020 in the Reference case are more than 9 percent below the 2005 level of 5,996 million metric tons, and they still are below the 2005 level at the end of the projection period. Emissions per capita fall by an average of 1.0 percent per year from 2005 to 2035.

    Projections for CO2 emissions are sensitive to such economic and regulatory factors due to the pervasiveness of fossil fuel use in the economy. These linkages result in a range of potential GHG emissions scenarios. In the AEO2012 Low and High Economic Growth cases, projections for total primary energy consumption in 2035 are, respectively, 100.0 quadrillion Btu (6.4 percent below the Reference case) and 114.4 quadrillion Btu (7.0 percent above the Reference case), and projections for energy-related CO2 emissions in 2035 are 5,356 million metric tons (7.0 percent below the Reference case) and 6,117 million metric tons (6.2 percent above the Reference case).

    QUICK NEWS, July 30: A TRILLION $$$ FOR NEW ENERGY; GE SUFFERS FROM GOP BLOCK ON WIND INCENTIVE; HOW A COAL BURNER CAN CLEAN UP

    A TRILLION $$$ FOR NEW ENERGY How To Tap A Trillion Dollars For Renewable Energy Investment

    Jigar Shah, July 23, 2012 (Forbes)

    “Since the late 1970s the U.S. has avoided creating a comprehensive energy policy. Instead, we have…[p]ermanent tax credits for the fossil fuel industry and temporary credits and subsidies for the renewable energy industry…[T]the Production Tax Credit for wind energy…is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless it is renewed for another two-year run…[Solar’s] 30% investment tax credit sunsets at the end of 2016…It has helped jumpstart a $300 billion solar market…President Obama has proposed eliminating eight permanent oil subsidies that the Cato Institute’s Jerry Taylor estimates will save $43 billion over 10 years.

    “…[P]ublic support drives the vagaries…[S]ince the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan in March 2011, support for building more nuclear power plants declined to 42% from 61% in 2008… 76% of Americans support regulating carbon dioxide…[and] two-thirds believe the U.S. should pursue policies to reduce its carbon footprint…[But] without a comprehensive energy plan, plus uncertainty about energy tax credits and subsidies, what signals are we sending to investors? [Yet] in 2010-2011…more renewable energy was installed than new natural gas generators…”

    “Renewable energy is taking off because it is delivering low risk, stable returns…This year renewable energy investment exceeded $40 billion in the United States and $260 billion globally. But we can’t reach our goals of oil independence, renewable electricity, local job creation, and reduced health care expenses caused by fossil fuels unless we can mobilize investors at $1 trillion scale.”

    “The money exists on the sidelines today and politicians should be looking to deliver a stable comprehensive energy plan to tap into these investment dollars. We cannot have an “all of the above” approach to energy without a clear plan…[A plan can lead to] deployment of the hundreds of dormant technologies that we have invented since the 1970s that can be scaled up quickly…[by] unlocking capital flows for good, solid, measured and controlled-risk investments into infrastructure…A comprehensive plan would provide comfort to investors looking to make long-term investments…[Without it], $1 trillion of investment dollars sit[s] on the sidelines, making no impact.”

    GE SUFFERS FROM GOP BLOCK ON WIND INCENTIVE GE blames drop in wind turbine sales on tax uncertainty

    Zack Colman, July 20, 2012 (The Hill)

    “General Electric, the nation's largest producer of wind turbines, is blaming a drop in orders on the uncertainty surrounding a wind-production tax credit.

    “GE’s wind sales fell 37 percent from the second quarter of 2011 to the same quarter in 2012…[GE] attributed most of the decrease in sales to the tax credit's uncertain future.”

    “A slew of smaller wind firms have announced layoffs in recent months, with most listing the wind tax credit as a driving factor...The Obama administration has blamed Congress for layoffs in the wind industry and urged the renewal of the tax credit, which pays wind power generators 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour

    “Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney favors phasing out the wind credit, a stance that has drawn the ire of wind advocates in Iowa, the state with the second-most wind generating capacity.”

    HOW A COAL BURNER CAN CLEAN UP Greenpeace Report Shows a Cheaper, Cleaner Pathway for Duke Energy

    July 25, 2012 (EcoWatch)

    “…[Greenpeace’s] Charting the Correction Course: A Clean Energy Pathway for Duke Energy…details how Duke Energy can save their customers $108 billion over 20 years by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

    “…Under Duke’s current plan, the majority of energy generated in North and South Carolina over the next 20 years will be sourced from 70-year-old coal plants and risky nuclear plants…Duke will [also] be expanding its natural gas fleet, thereby doubling the company’s exposure to volatile natural gas prices. At the same time Duke Energy will quadruple electricity rates in the Carolinas within ten years, and increase them by nearly 20-fold by 2032…to pay for the company’s proposed construction.”

    “The Greenpeace plan highlights specific changes Duke Energy can make to benefit ratepayers, the environment and investors…Duke could source 33 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and efficiency resources while saving ratepayers 57 percent on their bills over the next 20 years…[That] would also reduce long-term debt for the company by 75 percent when compared to Duke’s current plans…

    “If Duke took the suggested steps it would reduce its global warming pollution by 29 percent, acid rain pollution by 61 percent and smog-causing pollution by 47 percent. This includes 141 million tons of carbon dioxide, nearly 143,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and more than 114,000 tons of nitrogen oxides.”

    Saturday, July 28, 2012

    Breakaway Glacier

    The evidence continues to accrue. From AlJazeeraEnglish via YouTube

    Wanda Is Worried

    The Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid EV is reportedly selling as fast as GM is manufacturing it even though all-electric vehicles haven’t yet captured consumers’ confidence. But Wanda knows there is something a lot more serious to be anxious about than battery range. From wwfcanada via YouTube

    Homegrown Wind

    This is why an editorial recently accused Tea Party members in Congress who are blocking wind’s vital incentive of being unpatriotic. And, BTW, wind can do for any nation’s energy sector what it can do for U.S. domestic energy. From AmericanWindEnergy via YouTube

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    INDIA BUYS SUN FROM OHIO

    First Solar to benefit from $57.3M Export-Import Bank loan

    Patrick O’Grady, July 21, 2012 (Phoenix Business Journal)

    “First Solar Inc…[has made] panel sales to two Indian companies that received $57.3 million in loans from the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    “The loans, announced this week to Solar Field Energy Two Private Ltd. and Mahindra Surya Prakash Private Ltd., are to help build three solar systems in India. Panels for the two solar projects will be made in Tempe-based First Solar’s (Nasdaq: FSLR) facility in Perrysburg, Ohio…First Solar has several projects in India and received about 8 percent of its 2011 revenue from the country…”

    “Solar Field Energy Two, based in Mumbai and owned by Kiran Energy Solar Private Power Ltd., was given $23 million for a 20-megawatt project. Mahindra, owned as a subsidiary of Kiran Energy and Mahindra Holding Ltd., was given $34.3 million to build a 20-megawatt system and a 10-megawatt system.

    “India currently is expanding its solar market, looking to add 20,000 megawatts by 2020. First Solar sees India as a developing market to which it can reach out. In May, the company established an operating group there and appointed Sujoy Ghosh to head the office…”

    WORLD WIND’S DOWNS AND UPS

    1H/2012 Global Wind Turbine Orders: Weak 1H/12 but potential for recovery from 2013

    July 2012 (Make Consulting)

    “…[A global order intake for 1H/2012 by] MAKE Consulting…[notes] that wind turbine order intake (MW)…fell by 30% YoY, principally due to weakness in core markets in Asia Pacific and Europe, in particular China, India, UK and Germany (offshore). Regulatory uncertainty, subsidy cuts and grid connectivity issues all contributed to the weakness and offset good growth in new emerging markets.

    “The Americas held up well driven by the U.S. where developers…[are squeezing] in projects before the PTC expires at the end of 2012 and high order activity in several Latin American markets.”

    “Weak orders in 1H/2012 support MAKE’s view that 2013 will be a weaker year for installations (-5% vs 2011)…

    “…[O]rder flow could improve in 2013 and beyond…[O]ver 11GW of wind power capacity [is] already outlined through framework agreements…[and] an additional 18GW [is] possible through conditional orders, providing scope for a recovery, if conditional orders convert to firm ones…”

    HOW TO SOLVE THE CHINA/TAIWAN SUN OVERSUPPLY

    PV Technology Roadmap and Buying Cycle Essential to Rendering Legacy Capacity as Obsolete; Focus on technical innovation from 2013 will create new revenue opportunities for PV capital equipment supply chain

    July 16, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “A technology roadmap for the PV industry is set to emerge during 2013, bringing the PV industry into alignment with adjacent technology sectors…[It will lead a] new technology buying cycle, which will be driven collectively by top-tier c-Si manufacturers in China and Taiwan…[The until now] lack of synergy has been a factor preventing cell efficiencies from reaching the 20% level. During 2011, only 15% of cells produced by tier 1 manufacturers were rated at 18% or higher…[Through] a new PV technology roadmap, 75% of tier 1 c-Si capacity will fall into this high-efficiency category by the end of 2015…

    “…[A current manufacturing shakeout] is likely to reduce the number of cell and thin-film manufacturers from almost 400 in 2011 to less than 100 by 2016, with the top 20 manufacturers contributing over 60% of cells produced for module shipments. Within the thin-film segment, only 13 manufacturers are projected to have production output exceeding 100 MW by 2016…The shakeout along the value-chain will be accompanied by a re-ordering of preferred tool providers…New order intake across the entire PV equipment supply-chain remains at a 5-year low, as the industry continues to digest the full effects of strong capacity over-investment in 2010 and 2011. This weak environment is forecast to continue during 2012 and 1H’13…”

    “Leading tier 1 c-Si manufacturers are motivated to implement new technologies in order to increase average cell efficiencies above the levels that can be achieved from idled and mothballed capacity of tier 2 and 3 competitors. This will effectively consign a considerable quantity of uncompetitive capacity as obsolete and remove its impact on the PV industry supply/demand balance…[T]o prevent a secondary equipment market from emerging, PV equipment suppliers need to act quickly to cannibalize the multi-GW of un-installed tools purchased during the over-spending in 2010 and 2011. The new PV technology roadmap will greatly assist equipment suppliers in achieving this goal in 2013.

    “With new equipment suppliers expected to enter the PV supply chain, the competition for specific tool segments will increase. Until now, c-Si cell deposition tools have commanded the highest ASPs and offered the greatest served addressable market for c-Si PV equipment suppliers…[T]he market for c-Si PECVD tools reached $880 million in 2011. However, with PV thin-film deposition equipment an unattractive segment to target in the near term, a greater number of tool suppliers are likely to contest c-Si deposition equipment revenues from 2014 onwards…”

    SPAIN'S WIND IN FRANCE, GERMANY, CHINA

    Gamesa Sells Wind Farms To European Private Equity Group; Signs Turbine Supply Agreement

    25 July 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “Gamesa says it has reached an agreement to sell three wind farms in France and one in Germany to KGAL GmbH & Co. a German capital asset manager.

    “…[T]he Quatre Vallees I and Quatre Vallees II [soon to start construction] wind farms , with a capacity of 12 MW and 20 MW respectively, are each located in…northeastern France. The Souvigne wind farm, with a nameplate capacity of 8 MW, is located in…western France. They are all equipped with the G90X-2.0 MW wind turbine…”

    “…[T] he 16 MW German Sarow wind farm, located in northeastern Germany, is under construction, and will also be equipped with the G90X-2.0 MW turbine.

    “…Gamesa has [also] signed a deal to supply 24 of its G87-2.0 MW Class S wind turbines to Chinese company Huadian Group [by August 31] for a wind farm in Liyushan, Fujian Province, China…[Gamesa has made design improvements in] the G87-2.0 MW Class S wind turbine…[for near] Class I condition sites, increasing energy production by more than 8%...”

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    LOBBYING TURNS ATTENTION FROM CLIMATE TO ENERGY

    Focus Shifts from Climate to Energy

    Laurie Bennett, july 5, 2012 (First Street Research Group)

    “…[C]limate change no longer leads the list of Americans’ environmental worries…Only 18 percent of the respondents named it as their biggest concern, compared to 33 percent in 2007…Congress has shown a similar lack of concern, with little agreement on legislation addressing climate change or global warming…”

    “…[A] proposal to limit greenhouse gases died in the Senate in 2010…The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, formed by Nancy Pelosi in 2007, ceased to exist after Republicans gained the House majority…The aim of many energy and environmental measures introduced in the 112th Congress is to expand domestic production and reduce regulation. The major lobbying groups are energy companies and utilities…”

    WIND INCENTIVE OPPONENTS CALLED UNPATRIOTIC

    Will the Tea Party Destroy an American Industry to Weaken President Obama?

    Carl Pope, July 15, (Huffington Post)

    “…Brazil this year is importing hundreds of wind turbine blades on freighters from Duluth. Great Plains demand for wind power had grown so much that LM Wind Power had built a turbine blade factory in Grand Forks, N.D., and Duluth was exporting not only taconite, but turbine blades.. Now the Grand Forks blades have found an export market -- yet another proof that manufacturing follows markets, and that if the U.S. keeps building demand for energy innovation products, we can buils a mighty manufacturing economy behind those markets.”

    “…[B]usiness and civil leaders…believe that the U.S. has the technological innovation, work force, and resources (including cheap natural gas) to regain our leadership -- if we can get policy right…But…politics is getting ready to reverse the Duluth success story…Wind energy has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy, even during the Recession. One of the key financing tools for wind developers, the Production Tax Credit, expires at the end of the 2012. (Equivalent financial mechanisms for coal, oil and gas, of course, do not expire -- they got theirs first.) And in spite of bi-partisan support from members of Congress from wind leadership states like Colorado, the Tea Party Republican Leadership seems determined to let the PTC expire to hurt Obama's re-election chances.

    “As a result factories are shutting down, thousands of workers are being laid off, and the market dynamic that brought wind manufacturing to Grand Forks is unraveling…Thoughtful representatives and senators have tried everything…[T]he Production Tax Credit is widely supported…[It] has the support of Texas business leaders, an oil company (BP), and governors all over the country -- but nothing has swayed the determination of the Tea Party…[E]nvironmental organizations including the Sierra Club, American Wind Energy Association and The Pew Charitable Trusts are asking Americans to contact their elected officials and encourage them to renew the wind energy PTC and protect tens of thousands of green jobs…[E]conomists warn that extending the credit after the election, which seems to be the plan of many Republican leaders, will be too late for the factories and jobs.”

    “This behavior is unprecedented -- and unpatriotic. Business, workers and communities -- and our environment -- are being needlessly and severely harmed, simply to make a political point. No Congress in my lifetime has acted this way, however badly a president's opponents loathed him. Voters should not forgive members of Congress who hurt the country to help their electoral chances -- and do so intentionally. But voter accountability for politicians won't save the jobs and livelihoods that are going down all over America this summer in the wind supply chain…”

    SOLAR WINDOWS

    Solar Power Generating Windows

    July 22, 2012 (Planetsave)

    “Researchers from UCLA have developed a new transparent solar cell that is a significant step towards giving the windows in homes and other buildings the ability to generate electricity while still being transparent…The research team…[created a photoactive polymer solar cell (PSC) that absorbs infrared light instead of visible light and is nearly 70% transparent to the human eye]…”

    “…[Researchers also used a breakthrough] transparent conductor made of a mixture of silver nanowire and titanium dioxide nanoparticles…[It] allows the solar cells to be fabricated economically by solution processing. With this combination, [the PSC device can reach a] 4% power-conversion efficiency…A number of researchers and companies have been working on solar windows over the years. It will be interesting to see who comes out with the first commercial product.”

    MOST EFFICIENT STATES

    ACEEE Study: States That Spend on Energy-Efficiency May Be Good Bets; Although spending on energy-efficiency programs is uneven across the nation, an ACEEE study shows an overall upward trajectory over the past 30 years, and such spending may help to lure companies to those states with EERS in place.

    July 2012 (Area Development Online)

    “The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently conducted a study on electric utility energy-efficiency activity in the United States from the 1970s to date: Three Decades and Counting: A Historical Review and Current Assessment of Electric Utility Energy-Efficiency Activity in the States. …[I]n response to the energy crisis of the 1970s, electric utility companies developed energy-efficiency programs that emphasized energy conservation…

    “…These programs grew rapidly in the 1980s, at which time utilities instituted a practice known as demand-side management (DSM)…Spending on such programs reached nearly $2 billion by 1993. However, with the deregulation of the utility industry in the mid-1990s, funding for utility energy-efficiency programs fell to just $900 million by 1998…[But] states began to establish new funding mechanisms…with spending on such programs increasing to $1.1 billion by 2000…16 states accounted for 86 percent of total U.S. spending on energy-efficiency programs…[F]unding only reached $1.45 billion by 2004, with 20 states then accounting for 88 percent…”

    “From the mid-2000s on, however, funding on such programs grew rapidly, increasing from $1.6 billion in 2006 to $4.6 billion by 2010…driven by “energy efficiency resource standards” (EERS), which are measurable, long-term energy-savings targets…The EERS specify the percentage of future electricity needs that must be met using energy-efficiency measures, typically equal to a specific percentage of the projected load…25 states have EERS in place…

    “In many of these states, EERS are included in or complement a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) or a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)… Some states have a separate EERS and RPS, while other states combine the mechanisms by allowing energy efficiency to meet part or all of an RPS. Taken together, these standards are an important factor when companies are considering where to expand or relocate…[though the combination] could have unintended consequences…”

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE CLOUD COULD BE GREEN

    How Clean is Your Cloud?

    April 2012 (Greenpeace)

    Executive Summary

    Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo – these global brands and a host of other IT companies are rapidly and fundamentally transforming the way in which we work, communicate, watch movies or TV, listen to music, and share pictures through “the cloud.” The growth and scale of investment in the cloud is truly mind-blowing, with estimates of a 50-fold increase in the amount of digital information by 2020 and nearly half a trillion in investment in the coming year, all to create and feed our desire for ubiquitous access to infinite information from our computers, phones and other mobile devices, instantly.

    The engine that drives the cloud is the data center. Data centers are the factories of the 21st century information age, containing thousands of computers that store and manage our rapidly growing collection of data for consumption at a moment’s notice. These cloud data centers, many of which can be seen from space, consume a tremendous amount of electricity; some consume the equivalent of nearly 180,000 homes. Unfortunately, despite the tremendous innovation they contain and the clean energy potential they possess, most IT companies are rapidly expanding without considering how their choice of energy could impact society.

    Given the energy-intensive nature of maintaining the cloud, access to significant amounts of electricity is a key factor in decisions about where to build these data centers. Since electricity plays a critical role in the cost structure of companies that use the cloud, there have been dramatic strides made in improving the energy efficiency design of the facilities and the thousands of computers that go inside. However, despite significant improvements in efficiency, the exponential growth in cloud computing far outstrips these energy savings. Companies must look not only at how efficiently they are consuming electricity, but also the sources of electricity that they are choosing.

    This year’s report provides an updated and expanded look at the energy choices some of the largest and fastest growing IT companies are making as the race to build the cloud creates a new era of technology. These energy choices are completely invisible to consumers as we continue to rely more and more on our online world, but in places where the cloud touches the ground, these investments are having a very significant and rapidly growing impact in the offline world.

    Instead of linking their IT innovation to equally innovative clean sources of electricity, many IT companies are simply choosing to attach their modern information factories to some of the dirtiest sources of electricity, supplied by some of the dirtiest utilities on the planet. These utilities, unlike the IT companies, are not known for their innovation.

    Because of the tendency within the IT sector to cluster in the same geographic locations, these investments are driving significant new demand for both coal and nuclear power in many regions of the world – and in rapidly growing economies like India, they are driving demand for diesel from large onsite generators. If IT companies continue to rely on dirty sources of energy to power the cloud, the cloud itself will begin to have a measurable negative impact on our environment and communities.

    However, we do see a growing realization and commitment from within several leading IT companies to realign their rapid growth with access to renewable sources of electricity at scale to power their online platforms. For these companies, we see these commitments significantly shaping decisions on where they build their data centers.

    Companies such as Google are also making significant clean energy investments and signing long-term contracts for renewable energy to power their existing facilities. Even more significantly, many IT companies are recognizing that their influence and market power give them the opportunity and responsibility to demand clean energy investments and policy conditions to drive utilities and government officials to make better choices. IT companies can drive the electricity supply on the grid we all use to ever increasing amounts of renewable energy while phasing out the dirtiest and most dangerous sources.

    With this year’s update, we have expanded our analysis to examine a total of 14 global IT companies who are leading the sector’s move to the cloud, and also taken a closer look at the key places around the globe where significant concentrations of data centers are being built. We explore the challenges and opportunities for IT companies to play a constructive role in driving renewable energy deployment.

    Key findings of this year’s report:

    1. Three of the largest IT companies building their business around the cloud – Amazon, Apple and Microsoft – are all rapidly expanding without adequate regard to source of electricity, and rely heavily on dirty energy to power their clouds.

    2. Yahoo and Google both continue to lead the sector in prioritizing access to renewable energy in their cloud expansion, and both have become more active in supporting policies to drive greater renewable energy investment.

    3. Facebook, one of the largest online destinations with over 800 million users around the world, has now committed to power its platform with renewable energy. Facebook took the first major step in that direction with the construction of its latest data center in Sweden, which can be fully powered by renewable energy.

    4. A growing concentration of data center investments in key locations is having a significant impact on energy demand and how the electricity grid is managed; if such concentrated expansion is allowed to continue, this will make it increasingly difficult to shift these investments and the surrounding community away from dirty sources of electricity.

    5. Akamai, responsible for carrying a tremendous amount of internet traffic, is the first IT company to begin reporting its carbon intensity under the new Carbon Utilization Effectiveness (CUE) standard. There has been a notable absence of reporting under CUE by other companies.

    6. There have been increasing attempts by some companies to portray the cloud as inherently “green,” despite a continued lack of transparency and very poor metrics for measuring performance or actual environmental impact.

    7. There are increasing positive signs of collaboration and open source sharing of best practices in both hardware and software design among IT leaders to help accelerate improvement and deployment of energy efficient IT design

    8. There have been increasing signs that more IT companies are beginning to take a proactive approach in ensuring their energy demand can be met with available renewable sources of electricity, and will increasingly play a role in shaping our energy future.

    QUICK NEWS, July 25: OFFSHORE WIND CAN BE PEAK POWER; SOLAR’S TAX CREDIT PAYS 10% PROFIT; NEW HAMPSHIRE WIND BOOM

    OFFSHORE WIND CAN BE PEAK POWER Lesson from heatwave: Offshore project would pump lots of electricity during summer peaks, says Deepwater

    20 July 2012 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    “Record-high temperatures along the East Coast in recent weeks have spurred conversation about the availability of electric capacity during peak usage…Deepwater Wind this week released data showing that its planned Deepwater Wind Energy Center (DWEC), a 900-MW offshore wind farm that would be located 20 miles off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, would reach maximum output on the hottest days of summer in the Northeast, just when electric grids most need the energy.

    “During the first heat wave of the season, in late June, temperatures and the electric demand on Long Island surged. For example, on June 21, a new high for the date was set on Long Island as the temperature peaked at 95 degrees in the late afternoon. Electric demand followed that temperature rise. Likewise, demand for electricity in New England also soared during the heat wave…Data modeled by Deepwater Wind’s meteorological experts, AWS Truepower, show that DWEC would have been operating near its maximum output during the afternoons of both June 20 and June 21, when the heat wave was at its peak.”

    “…While [Deepwater Wind’s] wind farm is projected to produce at an average of approximately 45 percent capacity over the course of a full year, it would have been producing much more, in the range of 65-90 percent capacity, during most of the hottest hours of the heat wave…Another Northeast developer, Cape Wind, has pointed to similar data from its wind measurement instruments during heat waves.

    “Deepwater Wind has proposed to sell power from DWEC to the Long Island Power Authority via a new transmission system connecting Long Island and southeastern New England. The developer also intends to market power from DWEC to Massachusetts and Rhode Island…”

    SOLAR’S TAX CREDIT PAYS 10% PROFIT Study: Solar Investment Tax Credit Pays For Itself, Delivers 10% Return

    20 July 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The solar investment tax credit (ITC) can deliver a 10% internal rate of return to taxpayers on the U.S. government's initial investment, according to [Paid In Full; An Analysis of the Return to the Federal Taxpayer for Internal Revenue Code Section 48 Solar Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC)] published by the U.S. Partnership for Renewable Finance (PREF), a program of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE).

    “The study examined the cashflows generated by tax revenues on solar leases and power purchase agreements and found that a $10,500 tax credit for a residential system can provide a $22,882 nominal benefit to the government in those scenarios over the life of the solar asset, and a $300,000 commercial solar credit can create a $677,627 nominal benefit in a similar time period…”

    “SolarCity, a member of PREF, created the models for the study based on industry data and consulted with tax and advisory firm KPMG on the application of current income tax law and evaluation methodology for federal government incentives…"

    [Lyndon Rive, CEO, SolarCity:] "Everyone understands that solar power leads to cleaner air and greater independence from fossil fuel…Far fewer people realize that solar incentives can pay for themselves. Solar power has become a political football in this election year, but the investment tax credit has been one of the most beneficial, bipartisan energy policies of this or any other generation."

    NEW HAMPSHIRE WIND BOOM Advocates voice optimism for NH's wind power potential

    Gerry Miles, July 15, 2012 (New Hampshire Union Leader)

    “New Hampshire has the potential to have its wind industry grow fivefold during 2012, according to the American Wind Energy Association…State wind production is currently 26 megawatts, with projects that will produce an additional 147 megawatts under construction…[and the use of] renewable energies in the state is growing…

    “The Lempster Wind Power Project’s 12 turbines produce enough energy (up to 24 megawatts) to power 10,000 homes and offset the carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 5,700 cars annually. Each turbine tower stands 256 feet tall, supporting a 139-foot turbine blade, making the total height 395 feet when the blade is vertical to the ground. Lempster is owned by the Iberdrola Renewables company…Public Service of New Hampshire buys all of Lempster’s power, which is then resold to the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative.

    NH

    “Granite Reliable Power Windpark in Coos County was purchased by Brookfield Renewable Energy in February 2011…Brookfield hopes to boost its wind portfolio to have an installed capacity of more than 600 megawatts by the end of 2012. Granite Reliable has a stated output of 99 megawatts…The Antrim wind farm is still in the permitting process [and is expected to break ground about 2014]…One of the state’s first wind farms, Loranger Power Generation in Berlin, was commissioned in 2006. It is capable of producing about 1.35 megawatts of power…The power generated at Loranger comes from three turbines and is returned to the state’s power grid by Public Service of New Hampshire.

    “About 12 percent of the state’s power is derived from renewable energy resources…[T]he majority of the state’s electricity is produced by fossil fuel (47 percent) and nuclear power (41 percent)…The first wind turbines in the United States were installed on land at the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, dedicated on April 24, 1981…Each tower, built by US Windpower, stood 60 feet tall and used a three-blade fiberglass propeller 20 feet wide to generate power. The project failed, and the company declared bankruptcy in 1996.”

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: SUN AT MIDSUMMER

    Solar Funding and M&A Q2 2012 Report; Funding and merger & acquisition activity for the solar sector

    July 2012 (Mercom Capital LLC)

    Introduction

    Venture capital (VC) funding in the solar sector was slighly up in Q2 2012 with $376 million in 32 deals compared to $329 million in 34 deals in Q1 2012. With news of solar companies downsizing or going out of business seemingly every day, continued steady VC funding is good news. That said, the average VC deal size has been consistently dropping since 2010 with large VC deals becoming rare.

    CIGS and solar lease companies continue to be popular with investors. Top VC deals in Q2 included CIGS company Nanosolar with $70 million and solar lease company SunRun with $60 million. At the end of the first half of 2012, solar downstream companies are slightly ahead in VC funding with $251 million compared to $239 million raised by CIGS companies.

    Since 2011, most solar VC investments have gone to thin film companies with $835 million, and with panel prices falling more than 60 percent over the same period, solar downstream companies have been an attractive play. In this quarter we are finally seeing VC investments catch up, with downstream receiving the most funding. Balance-of-system (BOS) companies also represent a significant opportunity for investment, innovation and cost reduction. With the fall in PV prices, BOS is now the largest slice of the solar system pie, but VC investments in BOS have been surprisingly low.

    A total of 60 VC and Private Equity (PE) investors participated in 32 deals in Q2, with Crosslink Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) VC/PE arm participating in multiple deals.

    There were 14 M&A transactions in Q2 2012 totaling $325 million, with only six disclosing transaction amounts. In comparison, Q1 2012 saw 14 M&A transactions totaling almost $5 billion, although $4.7 billion of that was the Solutia acquisition. This quarter, most of the M&A activity were small strategic transactions with a few of them being acquisitions of business divisions for synergistic reasons. Some of the acquisitions were for “sick” companies getting rid of non-strategic businesses and assets. The largest disclosed transaction was the $276 million acquisition of Chinese mono and polycrystalline ingot maker Zhejiang Topoint Photovoltaic by Chinese firm Guangxi Beisheng Pharmaceutical. M&A activity in Q2 2012 involved eight manufacturers, five solar downstream companies and one thin film company.

    2011-12 Solar Funding and M&A

    There were 13 new cleantech and solar-focused investment funds announced this quarter, commiting a total of $3.2 billion.

    We also tracked 13 bankruptcies and insolvencies in Q2, and seven of the 13 were thin film companies. There were 16 companies that announced restructuring and downsizing in this quarter.

    Some major bankruptcy announcements included Q-Cells, Abound Solar, Solar Trust of America and Konarka Technologies among others.

    VC Funding by Technology

    Downstream companies have been the most favored among VC investors in 2012, receiving $251 million in funding so far in 17 deals, followed by thin film companies with $239 million in 11 deals. With solar manufacturing in trouble from overcapacity and price pressures, there is a natural shift toward downstream companies. The solar lease model especially continues to be attractive, led by SolarCity’s $81 million raise in Q1 and SunRun’s $60 million raise this quarter.

    The steep fall in module prices have put BOS companies in focus for sometime now as markets look for cost reductions and improved efficiencies. However, VC funding in solar continues to lag when it comes to BOS companies relative to their importance in the solar systems cost structure…

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