QUICK NEWS, 3-17: W/NUKE MELTDOWN, A TURN TO NEW ENERGY; U.S. WIND PARTS EXPORTER GROWS; WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SOLAR DISH; GE DEBUTS BIG WIND FOR OCEAN
W/NUKE MELTDOWN, A TURN TO NEW ENERGY
Fears of nuclear power send solar stock prices through the roof
Amanda H. Miller, March 16, 2011 (Clean Energy Authority)
"While the markets in general were down…solar and renewable energy stocks surged to recent highs as news of nuclear woes in Japan circulated.
"Solarworld AG (OTC US) was up almost 15 percent…SunPower (SPWRA) was up nearly 10 percent…First Solar (FSLR) was up 5.6 percent…and LDK Solar (LDK) was up 7.7 percent…These steep increases were particularly striking given the dramatic drops seen in the world stock markets in general."
"U.S. Stocks dropped about 6 percent…[and] opened…down another 2.3 percent…The Dow Jones Industrial Index had dropped 1.7 percent…on top of an 18 percent decline in the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which saw the biggest drop since the financial crisis of 1987…[following the] March 11 earthquake…and tsunami…As the world’s third-largest economy, Japan’s economic woes could dramatically impact the world. Some analysts speculate this might lead to an international sell-off of stocks."
"But analysts like Adam Krop, vice president of equity research at Ardour Capital Investments, believe one reason the solar and renewable energy stocks are not only being spared by the sell-off but are actually thriving is that the industry will be in demand as fears surrounding the vulnerable state of Japan’s nuclear power plants grow.
"Japan is currently fighting meltdowns at several of its nuclear power plants…While the world looks on and hopes for the people of Japan, the nuclear issues there have forced some hard conversations about the world’s energy future…[and] governments [move] away from nuclear…toward renewables…"
U.S. WIND PARTS EXPORTER GROWS
American Superconductor buying Switch Engineering for $265 mil
Tom Tiernan, 14 March 2011 (Platts)
"American Superconductor is buying The Switch Engineering, which makes electrical control systems for wind turbines, for Eur190 million, (US$265 million)…
"Switch Engineering, headquartered in Finland, also represents a market opportunity topping $1 billion with its portfolio of permanent magnet generators, which American Superconductor said are a new class of generators being used in an increasing number of geared and direct-drive wind turbines…Switch offers permanent magnet generators of up to 6 MW already being used by several companies in Europe, Asia and the US…"
"…[A]pproved by the boards of both companies…American Superconductor expects to finance the deal with about $186 million in cash and the remainder in stock…[T]he deal is expected to be immediately accretive and support the company's growth of power control equipment and systems to support wind turbine manufacturers in China, Europe, Korea and the US.
"The combination 'will create a global wind power powerhouse,' that is expected to serve China's three largest wind turbine manufacturers -- Sinovel, Goldwind and Dongfang -- in various capacities, said Greg Yurek, founder and CEO of American Superconductor…"
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SOLAR DISH
What happened to Tessera Solar's projects? Just what was the reason behind the rapid-fire sale of Tessera Solar's two major CSP projects?
Jason Deign, 4 March 2011 (CSP Today)
"… In July 2010, Stirling Energy Systems (SES), a division of Irish renewable energy conglomerate NTR, picked up the CSP Today Best Commercialized Technological Innovation Award for its SunCatcher dish Stirling technology…[for] the 1.5 MW Maricopa plant in Arizona, built by another NTR business, Tessera Solar, and…the developer’s next two projects: Calico, scheduled to deliver 850 MW, and Imperial Valley, with 709 MW.
"Neither will now be completed by Tessera Solar. In December the Calico Solar Project was sold to K Road Power, which subsequently announced it would switch the development to PV, and AES Solar, another PV developer, bought Imperial Valley last month. So what went wrong?"
SunCatcher (click to enlarge)
"The official line is that Tessera Solar and SES had a run of bad luck with the markets…[but] it is also not inconceivable Tessera Solar may have made a couple of critical misjudgements…
"…Imperial Valley was issued an injunction at the request of the Quechan Indian tribe, which had sued the US Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management for insufficient consultation during the permitting process…[raising] questions over Tessera Solar’s choice of location for the project…[T]he company must have been aware its project location could be a sensitive issue…"
Probably SunCatcher's biggest problem is that there are more proven solar power plant technologies. (click to enlarge)
"And then there is the matter of the technology…[T]he Resources Agency of California…[described] a lack of information regarding the long-term performance…[and uncertainty] regarding reliability…This may have been a factor in SES’s failure to attract funding…Dish Stirling…[hasn’t] been deployed to scale…[and is] more in competition with PV, which is getting cheaper and is perfectly bankable…The fact that Calico and Imperial Valley are now both being developed as PV sites would seem to lend some weight to this argument…
"…But even that might not be the full story…One [anonymous] industry figure…[suggested] an existing investor [decided to divest holdings at below-market price] because of concerns over the technology…"
GE DEBUTS BIG WIND FOR OCEAN
GE Introduces 4.1-113 Offshore Turbine; New Design Delivers 5% More Energy Per Unit…50% Reduction in Installation Time…
March 14, 2011 (Business Wire)
"GE…introduced its 4.1-113 wind turbine, a four-megawatt (MW) class machine that is optimized for offshore use and is designed to bring a new level of reliability to the offshore wind industry. GE has signed a contract to supply a 4.1-113 wind turbine, along with associated services, to Göteborg Energi for installation in the Gothenburg, Sweden harbor in the second half of 2011…This project is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency through its technology program…
"With fewer moving parts, the direct-drive technology provides a simple, reliable design with built-in redundancy and partial operation for major components, all focused on keeping turbines operating reliably at sea. The direct-drive technology eliminates costly gearbox parts, lowering operating expenses, and also relies on an innovative modular approach to maximize in-situ repair and reduce the need for large repair vessels. The 4.1-113 blade design is optimized to maximize energy capture."
click to enlarge
"The 4.1-113 design builds on the evolution of the 3.5 MW direct-drive design, the industry’s most proven offshore direct-drive turbine, and benefits from GE’s experience of more than 16,000 units installed onshore. The base design has been operating since 2005 on a coastal site in Norway in a harsh environment with high wind speed and high turbulence…
"…The equivalent of 50 years of lessons learned is built into the 4.1-113 design, making it the most mature direct-drive design for offshore applications as well as demonstrating levels of reliability on par with GE’s onshore fleet…This project in Gothenburg harbor is part of GE’s offshore footprint European strategy, representing a 340 million Euro investment in its offshore business…"