QUICK NEWS, December 8: BUFFET BUYS BIG SUN; ARNOLD BACKS U.S. NEW ENERGY; YERGIN PREDICTS EU WILL LEAD NEW ENERGY
BUFFET BUYS BIG SUN
Buffett Gets High Rates, U.S. Incentive in $2 Billion Solar Bet
Christopher Martin (w/Marc Roca, Noah Buhayar, Will Wade and Dan Kraut), December 7, 2011 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
"Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which agreed to buy [the $2 billion 550-megawatt Topaz solar farm from First Solar Inc.] in California may have picked the right time to invest in the industry.
"The 550-megawatt Topaz project will qualify for a federal incentive because it began construction last month, and will sell power under a long-term [power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric] that was completed before prices for solar panels fell 44 percent in the last year…"
"Topaz, which will use First Solar panels, may be the last large solar farm to qualify for the U.S. Treasury Department incentive program, which is set to end this year. It will likely sell power at a higher price than projects that are seeking utility contracts now…First Solar projects that are currently being built will sell power for 14 cents to 16 cents a kilowatt-hour…By 2014…its solar farms [will likely] sell power at 10 cents to 12 cents a kilowatt-hour…
"Prices for power sold under these long-term contracts are coming down, and the expected expiration Decenber 31 of the Treasury Department 1603 program, which offers cash grants equal to about 30 percent of renewable energy projects’ development costs] may further erode profit margins for large projects…First Solar received $3.1 billion in federal loan guarantees for three other solar projects that it later sold…The billionaire’s endorsement may also help First Solar sell other solar farms, even if they have power-purchase deals with lower rates…"
ARNOLD BACKS U.S. NEW ENERGY
An unfair fight for renewable energies
Arnold Schwarzenegger, December 4, 2011 (Washington Post)
"…[I]t is absurd that our federal government spends tens of billions of dollars annually subsidizing the oil industry, which pulls diminishing resources from underground, while the industry focused above ground on wind, solar and other renewable energies is derided in Washington.
"Federal support for development of new energy sources is lower today than at any other point in U.S. history, and our government is forcing the ¬clean-energy sector into a competitive disadvantage. To bring true competition to the energy market, ensure our national security and create jobs here rather than in China or elsewhere, we must level the playing field for renewable energies…[W]e should not demonize fossil fuels…[But] support for energy innovation has always helped drive America’s growth."
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"Renewable energies, however, have not been treated the same way. When the oil, gas and nuclear industries were forming, federal support for those energies totaled as much as 1 percent of federal spending. Subsidies available to the renewables industry today are just one-tenth of 1 percent…[T]he conversation in Congress shouldn’t be about attacking green energy or cutting all oil subsidies…[It] should be about leveling the playing field so that renewables are bound by the same rules as fossil fuels. We must make it a national priority to clear the red tape and bureaucracy that puts renewables at a disadvantage…
"Imagine what the renewables industry would look like if the federal government leveled the playing field and showed the same dedication we have in California. Our green sector is the brightest spot in California’s economy, having grown 10 times faster than any other business sector since 2005. Today, one in every four jobs in the U.S. solar industry is in California. One-third of U.S. clean-tech venture capital flows into our state. Nurturing the green-tech sector was the right thing for me to do as governor, and it is the right thing for the federal government to do…"
YERGIN PREDICTS EU WILL LEAD NEW ENERGY
EU to lead race for renewables
December 5, 2011 (UPI)
"While the outlook for the United States is uncertain, European countries are set to lead the development of renewable energy [according to Pulitzer Prize-winning energy analyst Daniel Yergin]…The European Union has established ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and expanding renewable energy use by 2020 [Yergin said]…Europe is leading the way in new renewable energy technology."
[Yergin:] "Europe, particularly Germany, will be a laboratory for offshore wind…It's the next frontier for renewable power."
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"The United States is rich in alternative resources like shale natural gas…[and this] is expected to shake up the energy mix in one of the world's top consumers of conventional fossil fuels.
"Though the United States doesn't have firm national laws regarding renewable energy, some states do and lawmakers are focusing on a national renewable agenda…Nevertheless, with the U.S. economy slowly moving out of recession, the focus on renewable energy should wan, said Yergin…"