NewEnergyNews: 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009/


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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.



  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And The New Energy Boom
  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And the EV Revolution

  • Weekend Video: Coming Ocean Current Collapse Could Up Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Impacts Of The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current Collapse
  • Weekend Video: More Facts On The AMOC

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 15-16:

  • Weekend Video: The Truth About China And The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Florida Insurance At The Climate Crisis Storm’s Eye
  • Weekend Video: The 9-1-1 On Rooftop Solar

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 8-9:

  • Weekend Video: Bill Nye Science Guy On The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: The Changes Causing The Crisis
  • Weekend Video: A “Massive Global Solar Boom” Now

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 1-2:

  • The Global New Energy Boom Accelerates
  • Ukraine Faces The Climate Crisis While Fighting To Survive
  • Texas Heat And Politics Of Denial
  • --------------------------


    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



    WEEKEND VIDEOS, June 17-18

  • Fixing The Power System
  • The Energy Storage Solution
  • New Energy Equity With Community Solar
  • Weekend Video: The Way Wind Can Help Win Wars
  • Weekend Video: New Support For Hydropower
  • 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




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


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

  • ---------------
  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, August 24-26:
  • Happy One-Year Birthday, Inflation Reduction Act
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 1
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 2

    Saturday, October 31, 2009

    Dirty/Too Dirty In The Dining Hall

    The unwaveringly courageous and determined anti-coal movement is out with another message aimed at the world’s college students and anybody else with a sense of humor. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube

    Wake Up Speak Up

    There probably won’t be a week that goes by between now and mid-December without a lot of news and views on the upcoming international summit on climate change in Copenhagen. Here’s an imaginatively animated message reminiscent of the triumphant, if grim, realpolitik of the Cold War: Better late than never. From Oilyboyd via YouTube

    Climate Crock Of The Week

    There’s a lot of news about the polar ice caps and global climate change these days but nobody explains the meaning and implications of the news and cuts through denialist misdirection better than Peter Sinclair. From greenman3610 via YouTube.

    Friday, October 30, 2009


    Solar Industry Takes on Coal and Oil Lobbies
    Todd Woody, October 27, 2009 (NY Times)

    "A solar industry leader smacked down the oil and coal industries…calling for renewable energy proponents to open their wallets to level the playing field in Washington."

    [Rhone Resch, CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association:] “The full promise of solar power is being restrained by the tyranny of policies that protect our competitors, subsidize wealthy polluters and disadvantage green entrepreneurs…”

    click to enlarge

    "...[Speaking at Solar Power International 2009]…the solar industry’s biggest annual get-together in the United States…[and] usually a celebration of the industry’s breakneck growth of recent years…Resch said that with the fossil fuel industry devoting tens of millions of dollars to defeat climate change legislation now before Congress, the solar industry needs to start throwing its weight around Washington."

    [Rhone Resch, CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association:] “How our country proceeds on climate change will permanently shape the market for solar…[The fossil fuel industries] are spending millions of dollars on lobbying, P.R. and advertising, and much of it is financing a deliberate effort to discredit our industry…At the end of the day in Washington, good intentions won’t stand a chance against millions of dollars and intense political pressure. We have relied on good will long enough, and if that’s the only arrow in our quiver, we will lose.”

    click to enlarge

    "…[T]he solar industry is coming off quite a successful year in Washington, winning a slew of tax breaks, incentives and loan guarantees for solar energy development…But Mr. Resch said fossil fuel industries received $72 billion in federal subsidies between 2002 and 2008 while the solar industry scored less than $1 billion…His solution: Start playing the influence game, raising big money for politicians and mobilizing constituents to pressure Congress to support the solar agenda…Mr. Resch said the new aggressiveness reflects the solar industry’s continued growth, even in a deep recession. He noted that attendance at the Solar Power International conference has doubled since 2007, with 25,000 people [attending the conference]…"

    [Rhone Resch, CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association:] “Taxpayers are forced to subsidize companies like ExxonMobil, companies that are the richest in the history of the world…In 2008, the oil industry contributed $22 million to political candidates, the utility industry $21 million…The solar industry: $138,000. We cannot compete with the entrenched energy interests unless we step up our game…We need to take a different role in our advocacy, in our relationships in Washington and our ability to influence directions that affect the outcome of our economy…”


    Smartening the power grid; The nation's energy transmission infrastructure needs major improvements, and the federal government is kick-starting the effort with $3.4 billion in grants for a so-called smart grid...
    George Bennett, October 29, 2009 (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

    "Invoking America's construction of the Interstate highway system half a century ago, President Obama… called for creation of a "clean energy superhighway" in remarks at… the largest photovoltaic solar plant in the nation.

    "The president announced $3.4 billion in federal grants for "smart grid" projects aimed at boosting the efficiency of the nation's electricity network and enabling consumers to conserve energy and cut their utility bills…Standing amid 90,500 solar panels at FPL's $152 million Next Generation Solar Energy Center [that produces 25 megawatts of power, or enough to supply about 3,000 homes] on 180 acres in DeSoto County, Obama compared improving the national power network to President Dwight Eisenhower's push for a national four-lane highway network in the 1950s…"

    click to enlarge

    "The Obama administration says the grants, which are part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package approved this year, will create or save "tens of thousands" of jobs while making the nation's electricity network more reliable and efficient and more compatible with renewable energy sources…FPL's $200 million grant will be used at least in part to install more than 2.6 million "smart meters" in homes to provide more detailed consumption information to customers and enable them to reduce energy use and cut their bills.

    "…Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change, called the nation's current power system "outdated" and "dilapidated." …The recipients of the $3.4 billion in smart-grid grants are matching the federal money with a combined $4.7 billion in private investment, Browner said. FPL is putting up $380 million to match the $200 million federal grant…"

    click to enlarge

    "The administration cited an analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute that says smart-grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent by 2030 and save more than $20 billion in energy costs…The grants will be used to pay for 18 million smart meters, administration officials said. Other consumer-focused measures include installation of more than 1 million in-home displays, 170,000 smart thermostats, and 175,000 other load control devices to enable consumers to reduce their energy use.

    "For power companies and grid operators, the grants will pay for more than 200,000 "smart transformers," 850 sensors and 700 automated substations that will provide more information and help prevent minor disturbances from cascading into major outages or blackouts."


    3TIER Expands Geographical Coverage of Most Advanced Solar Map & Dataset; State-of-the-art solar assessment now available in new regions
    Oct. 27, 2009, (3TIER, Inc.)

    "3TIER®… announced the geographical expansion of its advanced solar map and dataset, previously available for the entire Western Hemisphere, to now include Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania. The added regions now will have access to 3TIER’s state-of-the-art suite of solar assessment products that enable installers, developers, financiers, and governments to identify and fully understand their solar resources to better target investment and guide policy.

    "The new solar map and dataset include the rapidly growing solar power markets of India, Australia, and Japan…"

    The tool. (click to enlarge)

    "The geographical additions to the solar map and dataset are another important milestone in 3TIER’s REmapping the World ™ initiative, a global effort intended to accelerate the adoption and integration of renewable energy worldwide. In January 2009, the company became the first to map the world’s wind resources at a high resolution and will complete mapping of global small hydro resources in 2010…"

    The tool looks at India. (click to enlarge)

    "Wind and solar maps are available through 3TIER’s FirstLook® Prospecting tool, a Web-based service providing free access to average wind speed ranges and average annual solar irradiance estimates. The expanded solar regions will be online in early 2010, but 3TIER products based on the dataset are available now…

    "Product highlights include…GIS data layers and an application programming interface (API) that provide average annual values for Global Horizontal (GHI), Direct Normal (DNI) and Diffuse Horizontal (DIF) irradiance…10+ year time-series of all irradiance values available for any location within the dataset…Two comprehensive resource assessment products delivering the highest-level of accuracy…"


    Bright Automotive Launches Bright eSolutions, Announces U.S. Army Hybrid Vehicle Contract; Bright eSolutions Leverages Industry’s Most Experienced Plug-in Team to Help OEMs and Others Build Advanced Technology Vehicles
    October 26, 2009 (Bright Automotive, Inc.)

    "Bright Automotive, Inc. [through its newly launched] Bright eSolutions [has contracted with] the U.S. Army TACOM to conduct a demonstration project on a low-cost plug-in hybrid electric solution for non-tactical military vehicles.

    "Bright Automotive has leveraged the industry’s most experienced EV/PHEV team to develop the IDEA, a revolutionary, purpose-built, plug-in hybrid utility fleet vehicle. Bright Automotive CEO John E. Waters developed the battery pack for the General Motors EV1, while Nigel Francis, who leads eSolutions, has two decades of automotive experience…"

    The IDEA is designed for efficiency...(click to enlarge)

    "Bright eSolutions will work with TACOM to demonstrate the feasibility of Bright Automotive’s parallel hybrid technology for military non-combat use. As part of the $1.4 million contract, eSolutions will also work with the U.S. Army to demonstrate the ability of plug-in hybrid vehicles to deliver power to the grid…"

    ...and ready for duty. (click to enlarge)

    "Bright Automotive’s IDEA is the world’s first multi-purpose, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle aimed at commercial and government fleets. Bright eSolutions is building upon the successful development of the IDEA by delivering expertise to customers developing greener and more efficient hybrid electric technologies. Bright eSolutions is working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other customers worldwide to develop vehicle and component electrification and efficiency strategies.

    "Bright eSolutions will offer clients expert guidance on a variety of strategies in the field of EV/PHEV vehicle development, from EV powertrain integration and conversions, to aerodynamics and lightweighting, to battery cell engineering…[across]…Vehicle Design…Vehicle Engineering…Energy Storage…Propulsion…Conversions…[and] General Consulting…"


    Nuclear energy becomes pivotal in climate debate
    H. Josef Hebert, October 25, 2009 (AP)

    "Once vilified by environmentalists and its future dim, nuclear energy has become a pivotal bargaining chip as Senate Democrats seek Republican votes to pass climate legislation. The nuclear industry's long-standing campaign to rebrand itself as green is gaining acceptance amid the push to curtail greenhouse gases.

    "Nuclear power still faces daunting challenges, including what to do with radioactive reactor waste. Reactors also remain a tempting target for terrorists…But 104 power reactors in 31 states provide a fifth of the nation's electricity while producing essentially carbon free power and no greenhouse gas emissions."

    A huge effort and uneconomic investment to build all those nuke plants wouldn't put a dent in U.S. energy needs. (click to enlarge)

    "It's something the nuclear industry has been pushing in advertising and in lobbying on Capitol Hill for nearly a decade. But only recently has it begun to resonate…[with] a growing number of environmentalists…[and] the White House where nuclear power otherwise has received tepid support.

    "…[Any energy/climate bill’s] chances in the Senate could hinge in part on whether demands by a handful of GOP senators for measures to help build new reactors are included in the bill…A study by the industry-supported Electric Power Research Institute says 45 new reactors are needed by 2030. The Energy Information Administration puts the number…at 70 new reactors…[An] Environmental Protection Agency analysis assumes 180 new reactors by 2050 for an 80 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions."

    To build a lot of energy fast and cost effectively, build New Energy. (click to enlarge)

    "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has applications for 30 new reactors, although only a handful likely will be built over the next decade.

    "Sponsors of the climate bill are far short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster, but hope compromises could be forged to bring uncommitted centrist Democrats and some Republicans on board."

    Thursday, October 29, 2009


    SEIA President Rhone Resch Challenges Solar Industry to Unite, Fight for "Solar Bill of Rights"
    October 27, 2009 (Solar Energy Industry Association)

    The Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., keynote address at Solar Power International 2009 was the biggest moment of the week. It is deeply gratifying that one of the great leaders and environmentalists of our time GETS New Energy so clearly.

    Despite his 25 years as a (self-described) agitator and environmentalist and (by his count) 400 lawsuits against polluters, Kennedy told the audience of solar energy builders, movers and shakers, he finds his advocacy for New Energy “by far the most subversive thing I’ve ever done.”

    Kennedy has joined with New Energy’s other great champions (Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Boone Pickens, the leaders of Congress, the environmental movement and top people in the Obama administration) in planning the New Energy economy. It is subversive, he says, because it will democratize energy and shift 3.5 trillion dollars of U.S. energy resources away from Old Energy’s polluters, poisoners and spewers.

    The solution to environmental problems, Kennedy concluded, is free market capitalism. Take the subsidies for Old Energy away and let the free market work in “the interests of all humanity…[to] restore American values and make the country live up to its values…There is a bright future ahead,” Kennedy said, “and it comes from the sun.”

    It was an inspiring talk and served as a perfect explanation for why the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President and CEO Rhone Resch declared the Solar Energy Industry’s Bill of Rights in his keynote address the previous morning.

    After recounting the policy victories solar energy had won from the federal government in the last year, Resch said the industry was at a crossroads and it was time to declare itself.

    click to enlarge

    ”We declare these rights,” Resch told the solar industry professionals he leads and serves so effectively, “not on behalf of our companies, but on behalf of our customers and our country. We seek no more than the freedom to compete on equal terms and no more than the liberty for consumers to choose the energy source they think best…”

    He went on to repeat his deeper message: The fight for solar and the other New Energies to take their rightful place in the nation’s energy mix is just beginning.

    “These rights,” Resch said, “like those on which this country was founded, are a simple matter of common-sense. In fact, you might even call them ‘self-evident.’ But that doesn’t mean they’re self-evident in the halls of power, especially when our opponents are pumping as much haze into the energy debate as they are into the environment.

    "They are spending millions of dollars on lobbying, PR and advertising, and much of it is financing a deliberate effort to discredit our industry. In advertising alone, the coal industry will spend $50 million and the oil and gas industries will spend over $100 million on advertising this year…Collectively, this effort has put a target on solar’s back… And guess how much the solar industry is spending on advertising to clear the air: Zero…"

    click thru for the complete Bill of Rights text

    As if picking up on Resch's call for pushback against the enemies of New Energy, Mr. Kennedy - in making his point about New Energy's economic value - condemned the “false choice” offered by ExxonMobil, Massey Coal and others, a choice between New Energy and economic prosperity. “Good environmental policy is identical to good economic policy,” he said, and then went on to recount the words of the UK’s Lord David Putnam.

    Lord Putnam, Kennedy said, argued that the climate change deniers and fossil fools who say the New Energy economy cannot be risked are like those who tried to keep Britain from outlawing the slave trade in the early 1800s. They said it would bring economic ruin. But Parliament chose to do the moral thing. Its courage in banning slavery paid off in a wave of innovation and the British economy boomed.

    The New Energy economy, Kennedy asserted, will end the overt and implicit subsidy of spewers, keep the money lost to imported oil in the domestic economy and take energy generation out of the hands of companies who rape the land and ruin rural people to fund their Wall Street investments. He described the great wealth that has been reaped by other countries that have already shifted to New Energy like Iceland, Sweden, Brazil and Costa Rica and then pointed out that the U.S. has better New Energy resources than any of them.

    To earn the same prosperity, he said, the U.S. needs high voltage New Energy transmission and a Smart Grid to manage it. It needs efficiency policies like utility decoupling, and it needs more rooftop solar systems like the three Kennedy has on his own home and residential geothermal systems like his own.

    He also urged a shift to electric transportation, the end of fossil fuels and a New Energy economy that will turn “every home into a power plant” and “every American into an energy entrepreneur” instead of a closed energy market that subsidizes “fuels from hell.”

    click thru to see the complete Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., address

    If their opponents say they are too small, Kennedy reminded his audience, solar industry pioneers must remember there was a time when the incipient Internet was disdained as too small by IBM and the big telecommunications companies fought the policies that opened up the cell phone industry for fear there was no profit in it.

    If their opponents say New Energy can’t get built in time to serve rising demand, he reminded them, there was a time when political opponents and so-called experts told then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt the country could not ramp up its military production in time to win World War II. But FDR demanded the auto industry retool, and it was in production 6 weeks later. FDR set inconceivably demanding goals and within a year those “impossible” targets were being exceeded by can-do Americans with the know-how to meet challenges they understand must be met.

    This time, Kennedy said, the product will not be the stranded assets of a wartime economy but a New Energy infrastructure. By creating millions of jobs, eliminating oil imports and making energy a domestic product, the results will be in essence “the biggest permanent tax break in the history of the world” as well as a triumph in the economic war the nation is now in against China for control of New Energy and the 21st century economy.

    It was as if Kennedy was thinking of the point Rhone Resch had made early in his Bill of Rights presentation about how big and important solar has become in the nation’s energy mix. It is, Resch said, 13% of all new utility announcements and filings this year.

    click to enlarge

    Resch then listed many of the 19 policy victories, expected to generate 100,000 solar industry jobs, that solar advocates won for the industry in the last year, including:
    1-After an 18 month fight that went through 17 Congressional votes and 9 Senate filibusters, New Energy won when the investment tax credit was extended for 8 years, raised to 30% of the full cost of solar systems and allocated to utilities.
    2-When the economic downturn made tax credits inadequate as incentives, New Energy advocates won a provision for turning the credits into a Treasury Grant.
    3-New Energy won a better loan guarantee program.
    4-New Energy won relief from the tax penalty for subsidized renewable energy financing, clearing the way for the Vice President Biden-supervised Recovery through Retrofit program.
    5-New Energy won when the cap on the tax credit for solar water heating was removed.
    6-New Energy won $5.5 billion in appropriations to construct, repair and retrofit federal buildings.
    7-New Energy won when $16.8 billion was allocated to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
    8-New Energy won $500 million in stimulus funding to train green collar workers.
    9-New Energy won a 30% ITC for new solar manufacturing facilities.

    click to enlarge

    Resch urged his people, though, not to be satisfied. What is needed from industry professionals, he said, is the same thing Kennedy said the next day is needed from the voting public – unified and committed action “to create a policy environment where solar thrives.”

    “All we seek,” Resch said, introducing the solar Bill of Rights, “is the freedom to compete, and all consumers want is the freedom to choose their energy source. Instead, the full promise of solar power is being restrained by the tyranny of policies that protect our competitors, subsidize wealthy polluters and disadvantage green entrepreneurs…And Americans know better than anyone else in the world that there’s only one way to overcome tyranny—by declaring our rights and fighting for them with a united and determined voice.”

    Only slightly less momentous than the U.S. law, the solar energy’s bill of rights has only slightly fewer (8) points: Americans have:

    click to enlarge

    1-…The right to put solar on their homes or businesses (without obstructive zoning laws and rules).
    2-…The right to connect their solar systems to the grid with uniform national standards.
    3-…The right to Net Meter and be compensated at the very least with full retail electricity rates.
    4-…The right to a fair competitive environment instead of getting less than $1 billion in federal subsidies while fossil fuels get $72 billion.
    5-…The right to equal access to public lands (instead of almost no approved access while the oil and gas industry has access to 45 million acres).
    6-…The right to interconnect with existing transmission and build new lines.
    7-…The right to buy solar electricity from utilities (and to require their utilities to get electricity from solar energy).
    8-…The right to expect the highest ethical treatment from the solar industry.

    click to enlarge

    “…[L]et’s make today solar’s Fourth of July,” Resch said, “the day we declare our independence from policies that prevent greater use of solar energy which Americans so urgently need.”

    Resch said the solar industry must change the fact that Old Energy outspends solar energy $150 million to zero on advocacy.

    It must win a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) in the coming energy and climate bill that will require regulated utilities to obtain 25% of their power from New Energy sources by 2025.

    click to enlarge

    It must win a national cap&trade program that effectively puts a price on emissions and sends 10% of the emissions allowances, representing tens of billions of dollars, to the states to fund New Energy and Energy Efficiency.

    It must win support for high voltage New Energy transmission and expanded FERC authority to overcome regulatory bottlenecks with regional planning and innovative regional cost-and revenue sharing.

    It must obtain an expanded federal Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) authority.

    click to enlarge

    It must win a Clean Energy Deployment Administration (clean energy bank) to drive financing of New Energy projects.

    To win these things, Resch concluded, and they are all too important to compromise away, solar professionals must (1) support SEIA and the SEIA political action committee, (2) engage with the political process and (3) educate the public to the value of solar energy and the need to policy action that will make the solar Bill of Rights a reality.

    In the absence of action carried out with solar advocates’ passion and patriotism, it is possible the power of the Old Energies could doom the industry to “the tyranny of a century of policies that protects our competitors” OR the industry “can fight for a new century of policies that secure our rights.

    click to enlarge

    ”Fight, or surrender. Go big, or go home,” Resch said.

    After the Kennedy presentation and a look at the solar Bill of Rights, it’s entirely likely 25,000 solar industry attendees will do both: Go home from the biggest and most successful Solar Power International ever and get ready for a serious fight to win New Energy.

    Don’t bet against them.

    click to enlarge

    - Resch: “We stand at a crossroads — a decisive moment. The question is whether we’re going to appreciate the vital importance of the policy environment and get serious about shaping it. For our industry, everything hangs on that choice. Let me say it more directly. When it comes to engaging in the major policy battles ahead, we face a choice right here, right now. There are two alternatives—and two alone: Go big. Or go home…The possibilities of this moment are no surprise—not to us. The American people and our political leaders are appreciating more fully what you have long known: solar is here, solar is ready, and the future we have long worked to build is now…”

    click to enlarge

    - Resch: “Regardless of who you ask solar has a bright, clean and exciting future…And when was the last time that anyone described the future of the coal industry as exciting? They might try to convince you that it’s “clean,” but it’s certainly not exciting…The solar industry differs from our competitors not in status but in substance. We are an industry in ascent; they are sectors in decline. Our source is clean and limitless; theirs are toxic and scarce…We as the solar industry represent the future of clean power, the new economy and a new era of American innovation. That is the possibility of this moment…”

    click to enlarge

    - Resch: “Make no mistake: The challenges ahead of us are taller and tougher than any we have faced before. We cannot rely on the goodwill of policymakers to prevail. We must fight together, and we must fight to win…And make no mistake about this either: We know how to win. And our victories of the last year prove it…But our work is not finished, and we aspire to win far more than the policy battles of a single year. The fights ahead will surpass any we have seen so far—and so will the victories, if we work together…”


    Space-based solar power can help on energy needs
    Nick Lampson, October 22, 2009 (Houston Chronicle)

    "The United States is on a serious quest to free itself from a costly and worrisome dependence on foreign oil, and depleting supplies of domestic petroleum, coal and natural gas.

    "The country is pushing forward, thanks to some timely incentives from the federal government and state agencies, and we're turning to renewable sources of energy — which will also help protect our environment…[I]nnovative approaches under way at NASA…can help shape America's energy future, improve air quality and offset greenhouse gas emissions."

    Space based receiver-sender solar satellite. (click to enlarge)

    "October is Energy Awareness Month, and this year's theme — A Sustainable Energy Future: Putting All the Pieces Together — is especially timely…One of our greatest resources is all around us — sunlight. Each hour, the Earth receives more energy from the sun than the world's population consumes in one year. And our star promises to shine brightly for billions of years to come.

    "…NASA's wellspring of talent could help foster the creation of solar power satellites — spacecraft that circle the Earth and beam the energy they generate down to the ground for distribution as electricity…The [solar panels of the] International Space Station…generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 55 homes…While it doesn't take a rocket scientist to appreciate solar power as an environmentally friendly source of energy, it will take that level of expertise to develop a practical, economic concept to collect the sun's radiance and relay this resource to Earth."

    Earth based receiving-transmitting station. (click to enlarge)

    "Two years ago this month, [Space-Based Solar Power as an Opportunity for Strategic Security from] the National Security Space Office…characterized the prospect of a network of solar-power satellites as a grand opportunity to address the nation's environmental and economic concerns as well as energy security...Even though solar power has a long way to is making impressive strides. With a network of solar-power satellites, we could expect accelerated growth in the nation's solar-power industry to help invigorate our economy by creating high-paying jobs.

    "Since its birth in 1958, NASA has teamed with industry, academia and other federal agencies to offer the benefits from their cutting-edge research…Environmentally friendly fuel cells have powered NASA's human spacecraft since the 1960s. Now, the world's automakers are turning to fuel cells as an alternative to fossil fuels. NASA's legacy also includes work with wind turbines and biofuels…Space-based solar power, initially proposed in the late 1960s, is a concept whose time has finally come..."

    Calculating Emissions Is Problematic
    Sindya N. Bhanoo, October 22, 2009 (NY Times)

    "An accounting problem in the way some greenhouse gas emissions are calculated could critically hobble efforts to reduce them in coming years as nations move to combat global warming, scientists warn in a new report.

    "The accounting irregularity even gives the impression that clearing the world’s forests, which absorb and thereby diminish heat-trapping carbon dioxide, is good for the climate…The problem boils down to this: In emission calculations, all fuel derived from plants and other organic sources — including ethanol — is generally treated as if it has no effect on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, even though though biofuels do emit carbon dioxide when burned."

    click to enlarge

    "This might make sense if the source of the fuel were, say, a crop of corn grown on barren land specifically for use as fuel, because the crop would have absorbed carbon dioxide as it grew, offsetting what it emits when ultimately burned…But if an existing stand of forest land is cleared for fuel, its ability to absorb carbon dioxide is lost, and the net balance of the gas in the atmosphere goes up.

    "An energy and climate bill passed in June by the House of Representatives,
    the Kyoto Protocol, drafted in 1997, and the European Union’s cap-and-trade law, in which companies trade emissions allowances, all exempt emissions from biofuels, without taking the source of the fuel into account [and encouraging the destruction of forests for biomass], said Timothy D. Searchinger, the study’s lead author and a research fellow at Princeton University…In the mid-1990s the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognized that when forests were cleared or when plants were harvested for bioenergy, the resulting release of carbon dioxide should be counted either as land-use emissions or energy emissions, but not both."

    click to enlarge

    "To create an international standard [for use in the Kyoto agreement eventually ratified by 184 countries but not the U.S.] and avoid double-counting, the I.P.C.C. chose to classify these emissions in the land-use category…The protocol imposes no limits on land-use emissions in developing countries. So if a forest is cleared in Indonesia and ends up as biofuel in Europe, Asia does not count the land-use emissions and Europe does not report the tailpipe emissions.

    "The end result is that the carbon release from bioenergy use is not counted at all…[S]everal recently published articles [call] attention to the error…[U]nder current accounting methods, a commonly cited global target of limiting carbon dioxide to 450 parts per million in the atmosphere could result in a vast expansion of bioenergy crops, displacing nearly all of the world’s natural forests by 2065…"

    2 new geothermal projects planned near Fallon
    October 25, 2009 (AP via San Jose Mercury News)

    "The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has announced plans to conduct an environmental review of proposals to build at least two new geothermal plants in [Northern California]…

    "BLM officials… intend to prepare a formal environmental impact statement for the two Salt Wells Energy projects proposed by NV Energy, Oromat Technologies and the Vulcan Power Co…The separate projects could eventually result in construction of seven 30- to 60-megawatt geothermal power plants."

    There's geothermal energy is them thar hills...(click to enlarge)

    "Mark Sullivan of NV Energy said the plants would serve two needs: reliability and interconnection to existing plants…Scott Kessler of Oromat Technologies said the project will cost between $80 million to $100 million. He said the nearest neighbor to the 32-foot high facility would be 1,000 feet away…"

    Notice a trend? (click to enlarge)

    "Under questioning from Commissioner Norm Frey, Kessler said about five people live within a half mile of the plant located 10 to 15 miles southeast of Fallon…[T]he noise from the geothermal plants are no louder than [a] normal speaking voice, and the only sound individuals may hear is a low humming sound.

    "Ken Bonin of Vulcan Power said the environmental review is scheduled for the beginning of 2010. The final impact statement is scheduled to be released in December of 2010 with a record of decision coming in February 2011."

    Duke Energy and China-Based ENN Group to Build Solar Power Projects in U.S.
    October 23, 2009 (PRNewswire via Reuters)

    "… ENN and Duke Energy will concentrate on two types of solar photovoltaic designs: large "utility-scale" solar farms and commercial distributed generation solar projects. Distributed generation systems produce electricity close to where the energy is used, rather than at large, central power plants.

    "This joint development agreement builds upon a memorandum of understanding
    announced Sept. 23 at the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting at which time the companies pledged to work together to accelerate the development of low-carbon and clean energy technologies."

    From ENN (click to enlarge)

    [Jim Rogers, CEO, Duke Energy:] "China is investing heavily in clean energy and we can make greater progress in the U.S. by joining forces and working together…Duke Energy and ENN seek to not only accelerate the development of solar power in the U.S., but help achieve economies of scale and drive down the cost of renewable energy."

    {Wang Yusuo, Chair, ENN:] "ENN and Duke Energy have very complementary strengths…We are both dedicated to the development and use of low-carbon, clean energy sources to combat the climate change crisis facing all humanity."

    They have a lot of sun to work with. (click to enlarge)

    "Duke Energy Generation Services (DEGS)…will team with ENN to develop, own and operate the solar projects…[This] will expand DEGS' existing investments in renewable energy - including wind and biopower - and commercial transmission. DEGS owns and operates more than 630 megawatts (MW) of wind power projects in the U.S. and plans to add another 350 MW by the end of 2010. In the biopower market, DEGS is developing wood-waste-to-electricity power plants in the U.S. through ADAGE, the company it formed in 2008 with French-based AREVA…

    "ENN is committed to clean energy for China and the world…[Founded] 20 years ago, ENN… has more than 100 subsidiaries in over 80 cities across China and around the world, and employs more than 24,000 people…ENN Solar Energy is an international company that produces world-leading silicon thin film solar modules. It has also created an innovative system of integrated solar power stations…"

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009


    ASES/MISI analysis shows that renewable energy and energy efficiency can reduce U.S. carbon emissions 60-80%, generate millions of jobs and are revenue neutral or better
    October 21, 2009 (American Solar Energy Society)

    Tackling climate change will green the U.S. in a lot of ways.

    For those passionate about controlling greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs), star environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr., hit all the right notes in a Solar Power International 2009 keynote address that cheered the solar energy industry with its stirring examples of how solar energy fits into the “big ticket” work of cleaning the earth’s all too troubled air and water and reversing global climate change.

    But as U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who followed Begley, told the people who are pioneering the development of the most abundant New Energy on earth, the building of the New Energies will also generate jobs and revenues and grow the kind of green that banks and businessmen who disdain environmentalism and deny climate change get passionate about, the green in greenbacks.

    Estimating the Impacts of Tackling Climate Change, released by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), the original solar energy association, and Management Information Services, Inc., the respected research authority, proves Secretary Solis’ passionately expressed points exactly right about the value to the economy of building New Energy.

    Aggressive deployment of New Energy and Energy Efficiency (NE & EE), according to the report, will create a net gain, even after considering Old Energy job losses, of up to 4.5 million U.S. jobs by 2030. Coincidentally, such growth will cut GhGs enough to impact and perhaps even turn back global climate change.

    click to enlarge

    The study finds that NE & EE deployed in the needed magnitude would also be at least revenue neutral and potentially revenue positive. Implementation costs that might otherwise drive up the price of New Energy-generated electricity would be offset by energy bill reductions from lower generation expenses and efficiency-driven reductions in consumption.

    There are possible ironies to this report its authors seem to overlook. Fighting climate change, it argues in an unprecedentedly detailed analysis, will be a driver of economic growth. One possible irony to that argument is that it leaves out the fact that dealing with the worst aspects of global climate change would be a terrible drain on the economy, such a drain that discussing the economic benefits of New Energy is almost missing the point.

    Compared to the costs of the ravages of climate change, the report almost forgets to mention, any expense for New Energy and Energy Efficiency is small.

    click to enlarge

    Or perhaps the irony it that no amount of spending to build a New Energy economy could match the amount of spending and the jobs that will be needed to do the grim work of geoengineering and environmental reclamation necessary if the world lets climate change do its worst. Yet that would be a completely different kind of economic boon, the mother of all stimulus packages.

    Perhaps the ironies are the result of the report’s vital but narrow focus. A 2007 ASES report assessed the impacts of 6 major New Energies (concentrating solar power, solar photovoltaics, wind power, biomass, biofuels and geothermal energy) on climate change and concluded the New Energies could achieve by 2030 the needed offset of 1.2 billion metric tons of GhGs to head off climate change’s worst impacts. This new report, therefore, is primarily focused not on the broader frame of reference but almost entirely on jobs.

    Still, as Secretary Solis’s speech made clear, the news about the jobs that will come from a commitment to the New Energy economy is exciting. But perhaps differentiating between the climate change fight and the fight for the New Energy economy is moot.

    click to enlarge

    By September 2009, the U.S. had lost ~8 million jobs to the recession. At the same time, atmospheric GhGs were at ~390 ppm and headed beyond the perhaps (but probably not) safe level of ~450 ppm (350 ppm would be a lot better). Aggressive deployment of New Energy and implementation of Energy Efficiencies is an effective way to reverse BOTH those ugly trends and increase U.S. national security in the process.

    NE & EE are already driving economic growth. In 2006, they created 8.5+ million new jobs, generated $970 billion in revenue, $100+ billion in industry profits, and $150+ billion in increased federal, state, and local government tax revenues. In 2007, it was 9+ million jobs, $1,045 billion in revenue, and ~$160 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues. The 2007 revenues were bigger than Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil and General Motors combined.

    click to enlarge

    An aggressive effort going forward, the ASES/MIS study shows, can generate up to $4.3 trillion in U.S. revenues and create 37+ million jobs by 2030. That job total represents 1 in every 5 U.S. jobs, jobs that have to be done in place and therefore could not be outsourced, jobs that will be in every nook and cranny and corner of the U.S., in every sector and layer of the economy and involve every race, creed, color and kind of educational level of the nation.

    Yes, Old Energy jobs will be lost but there will be a NET GAIN by 2030 of 4.5 million NE & EE jobs.

    NE & EE growth will increase opportunities for accountants, engineers, computer analysts, clerks, factory workers, truck drivers, mechanics and many more kinds of workers. Coal miners can do retrofits and build wind turbines. Oil drillers can do geothermal drilling. Nuclear engineers can build solar power plants.

    click to enlarge

    Wages are expected to be, on average, higher. NE & EE are expected to drive the retrofitting of rusting manufacturing infrastructure, revitalize inner cities and reinvigorate rural communities. The need to train new workers will, indeed, already has begun to drive growth and changes in educational institutions from trade schools to University graduate programs.

    OK, so how much is it going to cost?

    The ASES/MIS paper created a deployment curve for each technology. It estimated the gigawatt-hours of electricity or gallons of cellulosic ethanol or energy saved through efficiency that would occur each year from (base year) 2005 to 2030. It also created a supply curve and an Reserach, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) curve for each technology. It used standard life-cycle cost-analysis techniques for each technology. And it subtracted the data for Old Energies and Old Energy jobs lost due to being replaced by the New Energies and New Energy jobs.

    click to enlarge

    Net costs for deployment of the different components of the New Energy economy differ significantly. Example: In 2020, EE shows net savings of $85 billion but all NE technologies except biofuels show net costs. But by 2030, EE savings fall to $16 billion while wind and biofuels start showing net savings, though the other New Energies still show net costs.

    In short, EE is a better deal through 2030 than NE but the EE gains fall over time, as the low hanging fruit gets picked. Meanwhile, NE slowly becomes a better and better buy over time as technology improves and economies of scale develop. EE jobs drop from 3.5 million in 2020 to 3.3 million in 2030. Jobs in NE grow from 900,000 in 2020 to 1.15 million in 2030.

    Jobs in EE are 80% of the total in 2020 but only 74% in 2030.

    In NE, the most 2020 jobs are in biofuels. Concentrating solar will be second, and then wind, biomass power, photovoltaics (PV) and geothermal power. By 2030, photovoltaics will supply the most jobs, followed by biofuels, biomass power, concentrating solar, geothermal power, and wind.

    click to enlarge

    The data show clearly that while costs for NE deployment and EE implementation will be high, savings assure that there will be no NET costs.

    Job distribution will be broad. The most will be in construction, state and local government, farms, and miscellaneous professional, scientific, and technical services.

    Bottom line: The politicians and policy analysts who say that making the transition President Obama wants, to a New Energy economy, will be economically costly are wrong. The transition will be one of the best things that could happen to the U.S. economy.

    Along the way, making the transition, just coincidentally, will take a giant step toward reversing global climate change.

    The alternative is a pointless exercise in resisting change in the interest of sustaining old habits that are not only destructive to this good earth but self-destructive as well.

    click to enlarge

    - Brad Collins, Executive Director, ASES: “The twin challenges of climate change and economic stagnation can be solved by the same action—broad, aggressive, sustained deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency…the solution for one is the solution for the other…For job growth the status quo is no match for innovation…Congress can help get the economy back on track with smart energy policy - reduce energy consumption in buildings by 50%; adopt an aggressive national renewable portfolio standard; commit to end dependence on foreign oil by 2025; and implement an upstream cap and auction system to manage greenhouse gases at the points where they first enter the energy economy.”

    click to enlarge

    - From the report: “The vast majority of the jobs created by the Tackling Climate Change initiative are standard jobs for accountants, engineers, computer analysts, clerks, factory workers, truck drivers, mechanics, etc. and most of the persons employed in these jobs may not even realize that they owe their livelihood to climate change mitigation…[Occupational data demonstrate that the Tackling Climate Change initiative will create a variety of high-paying jobs, many of which take advantage of manufacturing
    skills currently going unused. Most areas of the country have the existing infrastructure and skilled workers to accommodate the growth of EE&RE industries.”

    click to enlarge

    - From the report: “The ASES/MISI research summarized here finds that—even accounting for initial deployment costs and displacements—the effect on the U.S. economy of addressing climate change would be overwhelmingly positive. For example,
    these data show that the sustained, orderly, and robust development of energy efficiency
    and renewable energy (EE&RE) will generate at least 4.5 million more jobs than the effort will eliminate.”
    - From the report: “Time is of the essence, however. Efforts like these take time to ramp up, and if the United States is to achieve the ambitious climate mitigation job goals outlined here, it must introduce aggressive programs immediately. The bottom line is that addressing climate change can be good for the environment, good for the economy, and good for jobs.”


    Largest solar panel plant in US rises in Fla.
    Christine Armario, October 23, 2009 (AP)

    "…For nearly a year, construction workers and engineers…have been building the nation's largest solar panel energy plant. Testing will soon be complete, and the facility will begin directly converting sunlight into energy…The Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will power a small fraction of Florida Power & Light's 4-million plus customer base; nevertheless, at 25 megawatts, it will generate nearly twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.…President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the facility…when it officially goes online and begins producing power for the electric grid.

    "As demand grows and more states create mandates requiring a certain percentage of their energy come from renewable sources, the size of the plants is increasing. The southwest Florida facility will soon be eclipsed by larger projects announced in Nevada and California…"

    Soon to be the biggest PV solar plant in the U.S. (click to enlarge)

    "Despite its nickname, the Sunshine State hasn't been at the forefront of solar power. Less than 4 percent of Florida's energy has come from renewable sources in recent years. And unlike California and many other states, Florida lawmakers haven't agreed to setting clean energy quotas for electric companies to reach in the years ahead…California, New Jersey and Colorado have led the country in installing photovoltaic systems; now Florida is set to jump closer to the top with the nation's largest plant yet.

    "The Desoto facility and two other solar projects Florida Power & Light is spearheading will generate 110 megawatts of power, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3.5 million tons. Combined, that's the equivalent of taking 25,000 cars off the road…The investment isn't cheap: The Desoto project cost $150 million to build…But there are some economic benefits: It created 400 jobs for draftsmen, carpenters and others whose work dried up as…the recession set in…"

    First Solar will expand the El Dorado installation to 48 megawatts of PV power next year. Will Florida respond to the challenge? (click to enlarge)

    "There are two means of producing electricity from the sun: photovoltaic cells that directly convert sunlight; and thermal power, which uses mirrors to heat fluid and produce steam to run a turbine power generator…[A] one- or two-megawatt project was considered large not long ago. The size has slowly increased each year…

    "Spain and Germany have made larger per capita commitments to solar power because of aggressive government policies…And China has announced plans to pay up to 50 percent of the price of solar power systems of more than 500 megawatts…In April, Arizona-based manufacturer First Solar Inc. announced plans to build a 48-megawatt plant in Nevada, producing power for about 30,000 homes. Even that pales compared to recently announced plans for a 2 gigawatt facility in China. First Solar has initial approval to build it."

    BioPower Systems Collaborates With City of San Francisco on Wave Energy Project
    October 22, 2009 (PRNewswire via Reuters)

    "Australia's ocean energy company, BioPower Systems…entered into a collaborative agreement with the City of San Francisco to investigate the generation of wave energy from the Pacific Ocean.

    "…BioPower will work with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to assess the feasibility of a project located eight kilometres (five miles) off San Francisco's western beaches with a generating capacity of between 10MW and 100MW. The proposed Oceanside Wave Energy Project would consider installation of a wave farm using BioPower's modular wave energy system, bioWAVET."

    BioPower's unique wave energy device. (click to enlarge)

    "…Pending the results of a feasibility study, BioPower and the City of San Francisco will work together to develop the project aimed at supplying clean renewable electricity into the City's power grid by 2012."

    Biopower has a similar tidal energy device. (click to enlarge)

    "The bioWAVET system is designed to supply utility-scale grid-connected renewable energy while being out of view, and without affecting marine life. The unique system sways in tune with the forces of the ocean, and naturally streamlines when extreme conditions prevail, leading to cost-competitive lightweight designs. Multiple bioWAVET devices, each with a capacity of 1MW, would be installed as an undersea wave energy farm, with the combined power output supplied to the on-land grid via subsea cable…

    "BioPower's CEO, Dr Tim Finnigan, said the collaboration was further endorsement of the clear potential of the company's proprietary…bioWAVETM and bioSTREAMTM technologies…"

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009


    Cost of solar panels drops – but tax breaks dip too
    Tiffany Hsu, October 20, 2009 (LA Times)

    First observation at Solar Power International 2009 in Anaheim and mixing informally with the pros who are building sun: The solar industry is determined to get the word out that there has never been a better time to install solar.

    [Tracking the Sun II] from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) verifies the industry’s message. According to study authors Ryan Wiser, Galen Barbose, Carla Peterman and Naim Dargouth, the average cost of solar photovoltaic power systems in the U.S. fell over 30% between 1998 and 2008 and 4% from 2007 to 2008. A simultaneous drop in total after-tax incentives in the 2007 to 2008 period may mean out-of-pocket expenses were probably slightly higher in 2008 but new federal incentives that kicked in at the start of 2009 makes today’s rooftop solar systems for homes and businesses the best bargains they have ever been.

    The report is a thoroughly researched and documented survey of the installed cost of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) systems in the U.S. from 1998, updating the 2007 report to cover 2008. Aiming to track the installed cost of solar PV systems over time and by location, customer type, system characteristics, and components, this report gathered data from 52,000+ residential and non-residential PV systems representing 566 megawatts of solar energy generating capacity in 16 states, which is ~71% of U.S. grid-connected PV.

    The average cost of installation was $10.80 per watt in 1998 and fell to $7.50 per watt in 2008, a 3.6% per year drop.

    Thanks to an oversupply of raw materials, excess solar panel inventory on warehouse shelves and the new federal tax incentives, prices fell even more precipitously in 2009.

    click to enlarge

    There is one word that best fits the solar energy industry’s recent years: Growth.

    In the impressive growth year of 2007, the world installed 2,826 megawatts of PV. It then went out and installed 5,948 megawatts in 2008!

    The U.S. was third in the world in 2008 installations (after Spain and Germany), with an estimated investment of $2.1 billion in 335 installed megawatts. 293 megawatts were grid-connected, 88% of the market.

    click to enlarge

    Growth like that demands careful tracking The LBNL team’s report shows it is up to the task. Using 2008 dollars and Standard Test Conditions (STC) ratings for system capacities, the paper provides enough data to get statisticians aroused. The authors stipulate some lag between available data and current market conditions, but that will just keep the statisticians courting until the 2009 update.

    Though there is data from 16 states, most data came from California and New Jersey, the 2 leading PV-building states. The report includes all types of PV installations, including rack-mounted, building-integrated, tracking, non-tracking, crystalline and thin-film.

    click to enlarge

    Key findings:
    1-2007 installed cost was $7.80 per watt and 2008 installed cost dropped to $7.50 per watt, a 3.8% drop, which is just about the 10-year average (3.6%) price drop.

    2-Installed cost went up slightly (40 cents per watt) in California in 2009 because the California Solar Initiative state rebate fell as installations rose. Installed cost in New Jersey, the second most active solar installing state, went down 20 cents per watt with its still improving state rebates.

    click to enlarge

    3-The overall drop of PV’s installed cost from 2007 to 2008 was primarily attributable to falling solar module cost whereas before 2007 price declines were attributable to lower costs for inverters, other system electronics, hardware, labor, and overhead.

    4-Costs fell most for systems ≤5 kW and the least significant cost drop was for systems systems ≤100 kW.

    5- Indicative of a maturing market, the distribution of system prices in the post-2005 period was not as broad as it was between 1998 and 2005.

    click to enlarge

    6-The pattern of falling installed costs reflects increasing economies of scale. Systems ≤2 kW completed in 2008 averaged $9.20 per watt but 500-to-750 kW systems averaged $6.50 per watt, a ~30% better price for the purchase of the larger volume of watts. This is a vital improvement and bodes well for the long-dreamed-of attainment of grid parity through economies of scale.

    7-Along the same lines, 2008 module costs for systems >100 kW were 70 cents per watt less than for systems ≤10 kW but non-module costs differed by less than 10 cents per watt.

    click to enlarge

    8-Based on the fact that average 2008 installed system costs in Japan ($6.90 per watt) and Germany ($6.10 per watt) are significantly less than the U.S. cost ($7.90 per watt), U.S. prices have room to fall farther. (And are falling, as the oversupply that was already evident in Japanese and German markets is being felt here.)

    9-Variations in cost between states reinforce the idea that economies of scale are driving prices down and will continue to do so. 2008 ≤10 kW systems in Arizona were $7.30 per watt, $8.20 per watt in California and $9.90 per watt in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where there is much less PV deployment.

    10- Residential systems are less expensive than comparable commercial systems (60 cents per watt less for 5-10 kW sizes and 30 cents per watt less for 10-100 kW sizes.

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    11-New residential construction costs for standard 1-to-3 kW systems are lower (80 cents per watt) than retrofit residential costs.

    12-Building-integrated PV systems were 90 cents per watt more in 2008 than rack-mounted systems.

    13-Thin film systems, though small in number in the data, were $1.50 per watt less expensive than standard crystalline silicon systems in the 10-100 kW size and 60 cents per watt less for >100 kW sizes.

    click to enlarge

    14-Tracking capacity added 50 cents per watt to the cost of 10-100 kW systems over fixed-axis systems.

    15-State and utility incentive programs rebated from $2.10-to-$2.40 per watt, depending on system size, a ~50% decline from the 2002 peak. (Incentive programs are designed to decrease with increasing volumes so this falling rebate level is inevitable and actually good news.)

    click to enlarge

    16- The 2008 average AFTER TAX value of state and utility incentives AND state and
    Federal ITCs (excluding renewable energy certificate sales and accelerated depreciation) was $2.80 per watt for residential PV, the lowest level since before 1998. It was 30 cents per watt less than in 2007. For commercial PV, the total value was $4 per watt, not as much of a fall but still 20 cents per watt less than 2007. These trends indicate that where the incentives are most abundant, installation volumes are growing and the states that provide the incentives are cutting them back. The dramatic change in the 2009 ITC is expected to completely change these trends.

    17-The 2008 average NET INSTALLED COST (installed cost minus after-tax incentives) was $5.40 per watt for residential PV and $4.20 per watt for commercial
    PV. Both numbers were up slightly from 2007, 1% and 5%, because the fall in incentives was faster than the fall in costs. This will almost certainly be reversed in 2009 due to the new ITC.

    click to enlarge

    18-Incentives and costs range widely from state to state. The 2008 combined after-tax incentive in California was $2.50 per watt and $5.10 per watt in New York. The 2008 cost in New York was $3.50 per watt and $6.90 per watt in Vermont.

    Bottom line, based on the LBNL report: (a) Growth is accelerating, (b) policies are working, (c) economies of scale are emerging and (d) GRID PARITY is coming.

    Bottom line from the first day of Solar Power International 2009: It’s time to buy sun; tell a friend.

    click to enlarge

    - From the report’s conclusion: “The number of photovoltaic systems installed in the U.S. has been growing at a rapid pace in recent years, driven in large measure by government incentives. Given the relatively high historical cost of PV, a key goal of these policies has been to encourage cost reductions over time. Out of this goal arises the need for reliable information on the historical installed cost of PV…”

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    - From the report’s conclusion: “…[T]he installed cost of customer-sited PV systems has declined substantially since 1998, though both the pace and the source of those cost reductions have varied over time. Prior to 2005, installed cost reductions were associated primarily with a decline in nonmodule costs. Starting in 2005, however, cost reductions began to stall, as the supply-chain and delivery infrastructure struggled to keep pace with rapidly expanding demand. In 2008, installed costs resumed their downward trajectory, as module prices began to fall in response to expanded manufacturing capacity and the global financial crisis. Preliminary evidence and industry expectations suggest that module price will continue to fall through 2009.”

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    - From the report’s conclusion: “…[D]eclining installed costs, along with the narrowing of cost distributions, suggests that PV deployment policies have achieved some success in fostering competition within the industry and in spurring improvements in the cost structure and efficiency of the PV delivery infrastructure. Moreover, the fact that states with the largest PV markets also appear to have somewhat lower average costs than most states with smaller markets lends some credence to the premise that state and utility PV deployment policies can affect local costs. Yet, even lower average installed costs in Japan and Germany suggest that deeper near-term cost reductions may be possible. Indeed, further cost reductions will be necessary if the PV industry is to continue its expansion in the customer-sited market, given the desire of PV incentive programs to
    ratchet down the level of financial support offered to PV installations.”