NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, April 25: THE BACKING FOR NEW ENERGY; UTILTIES STILL BUYING WIND; SOLAR MAKERS INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

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

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YESTERDAY

  • Weekend Video: Time To Bring New Energy Home
  • Weekend Video: The Return Of Big Solar
  • Weekend Video: New Ways To Get At Geothermal
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Paying Fairer Shares In The Climate Fight
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Can Improve Global Health Care
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY, April 14:

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Differences Between Energy Markets
  • TTTA Wednesday- Biden Admin To Ensure Jobs Plan Protects Equity – DOE Head
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • SoCalEdison’s Newest Plan To Mitigate Wildfires
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: New Energy Means New Jobs
  • Weekend Video: Better Communication About The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: VW Affirms Driving Is Ready To Go Electric
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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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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  • MONDAY’S STUDY AT NewEnergyNews, April 19:
  • San Diego Gas & Electric’s Industry-Leading Plan To Fight Wildfires

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, April 25: THE BACKING FOR NEW ENERGY; UTILTIES STILL BUYING WIND; SOLAR MAKERS INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

    THE BACKING FOR NEW ENERGY Clean-energy subsidies are vanishing. What should replace them?

    Brad Plumner, April 18, 2012 (Washington Post)

    "Clean tech has…benefited from billions of dollars in subsidies from Congress, through various energy and stimulus bills. As a result, many industries…have taken lengthy strides…But…[Beyond Boom & Bust from the Brookings Institution, the Breakthrough Institute, and the World Resources Institute shows that]…clean-energy subsidies are disappearing fast, as the stimulus winds down and various laws and tax credits expire. Back in 2009, clean tech got $44.3 billion in federal support. By 2014, that will have shrunk to just $11.1 billion…

    "The new report…is the first to examine in detail which policies are actually expiring and when. All told, Congress has created more than 92 different programs dealing with clean tech — everything from production tax credits for wind power to advanced manufacturing credits to loan guarantees for nuclear power…And, by 2014, 70 percent of these programs will have vanished."

    "The authors argue that letting all of these programs expire could cause the clean tech sector to ‘go bust,’ as budding energy technologies like solar, wind, and even next-generation nuclear plants are currently facing pressure from ultra-cheap natural gas and from subsidized competitors in China…[T]hat doesn’t mean all 92 of these programs should simply be extended as is. For one, that likely won’t fly politically…it’s not good policy on the merits to keep forking money over to solar and wind and geothermal producers without a real sense of larger aims…

    "[T]he report suggests that Congress should rejigger its clean-energy subsidies in several ways. First, it should focus heavily on research and development. And second, the subsidies that are geared toward deploying new technologies — the credits and policies that help wind turbines sprout up and nuclear reactors get built — should be structured so that they reward improvements in performance…[Feed-in tariffs] for wind and solar power that get smaller over time…[force] the technology to keep improving in order to stay profitable…The ultimate goal of these policies…is to push clean tech so that it can eventually stand on its own and compete with older, more established fossil fuels…"

    UTILTIES STILL BUYING WIND Two utilities take different paths to the top in wind; MidAmerican Energy is building vast wind farms. Xcel Energy has mostly purchased its wind power.

    David Shaffer, March 31, 2012 (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

    "Xcel Energy Inc… has the most wind power on its system of any U.S. electric utility…MidAmerican Energy Co…[is] the top utility in wind generation ownership…two distinct business approaches to harnessing wind power…MidAmerican owns almost all of its wind generation. Xcel…purchases much of its renewable power under long-term contracts from wind farm developers.

    "There are pros and cons to each approach, as utilities weigh whether to tie up capital in wind technology or let others take the risks…Together, Xcel and MidAmerican Energy have a 17 percent share of the nation's wind power capacity…Most utilities have gone Xcel's way…[because] the companies didn't have any experience with wind power, especially in the 1990s, and turned to companies specializing in the technology…"

    "…[But] 2011 saw a major shift. For the first time, 23 percent of new wind capacity was utility-owned last year, up from a more typical 15 percent to 18 percent…It's too early to know if that was just a blip. But…some utilities want to own wind farms so they can get a return on their investment, rather than simply passing the cost of purchased power through to customers…MidAmerican Energy Holdings…[will] own 75 percent of their wind generation -- compared with 7 percent for Xcel…

    "…[The ownership, risk-management] strategy is to take advantage of the federal production tax credit…and carefully manage wind power with the rest of the company's generation…The risk of future greenhouse gas regulation is another argument for owning, rather than purchasing, wind power…[But] wind power prices have been dropping. When Xcel faces the expiration of its first wind power purchase contracts in 2018, it's possible the utility could get a better deal on its next long-term contracts…[and] wind farms also will eventually need to be upgraded…But for a few years, after projects are paid off, wind farm owners could face only operation and maintenance costs…"

    SOLAR MAKERS INVESTING IN THE FUTURE Spending on PV Equipment to Bottom of Cycle in Q2’12; Strong Growth Forecast from 2013 – 2016; Meyer Burger, GT Advanced Technologies Gaining Due to Strong Backlog

    April 16, 2012 (Solarbuzz)

    "Equipment spending by tier 1 PV manufacturers is poised to resume in 2013 with strong double-digit annual growth rates forecast out to 2016, according to new research…[from NPD Solarbuzz]… This upturn in capacity expansion is being stimulated by the PV manufacturing shakeout, as uncompetitive production lines are either being idled, retired or removed following corporate failures…

    "PV equipment revenues (covering c-Si ingot-to-module and thin-film) for Q1’12 fell to $1.75 billion, a 10-quarter low, down 27% Q/Q and 51% Y/Y. However, the CapEx downturn is forecast to finally bottom-out during Q2’12, following six consecutive quarters of negative growth."

    "The rebound in spending will be characterized first by new order intake driven by a select group of tier 1 manufacturers. Positive Q/Q growth in new orders will emerge in 2H’12, as capacity expansion plans are revised to address market-share aspirations for 2013 and beyond. This will be reflected in PV book-to-bill ratios that will return above parity during 2H’12.

    "The severity of the cyclic spending downturn is having a dramatic impact on PV equipment suppliers in 2012. Most leading equipment suppliers are now projected to see Y/Y PV-specific revenue declines in the 60-80% range…Suppliers that already serve market segments adjacent to PV (semi, display, and LED) have experience in how to manage capital equipment spending cyclicality, so they will be best positioned to cope with the PV downturn during 2012. However, equipment suppliers that had aligned their core business activities to focus mainly on the PV industry will be particularly affected, with further workforce adjustments and negative operating margins likely…"

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