Our weekly compilation of renewable energy news and information from around the Web.
Qualified Advanced Energy Project Tax Credits
We covered the DOE’s guidance on QAEP (or Section 48C) tax credits and the application process now under way. (Refer to our white paper for details on the application process). We’re working on a free webinar on the topic on September 2, 2009.
Solar Loses Some Shine
The Wall Street Journal reported on slumping sales at a number of solar companies due to the global recession. It reported that the expiration of an incentive program in Spain also accounted for a dramatic drop-off in solar sales in that country. In 2008, the WSJ reported, “Spain accounted for more than 40% of all new solar panel installation globally, installing 2.7 gigawatts — five times the 2007 figure — out of a global total of 5.6 gigawatts. According to Spain’s photovoltaic industry association, Asif, the country’s market was worth €16.38 billion ($23.24 billion). This year, with cuts to aid and a more complicated application process, there has been no new installation in Spain.”
The slump in global sales, however, has not reduced the marketing emphasis given to solar efforts, however, in the U.S. with Baker Roofing, Inc., one of the largest roofing companies in the U.S., announcing its formation of a “green” subsidiary that will focus on roof-top gardens and roof-top solar. The company, based in Raleigh, NC, has completed a number of installations in 2009 and has a glitzy, separate website devoted to its green efforts.
When Congress returns from its Summer recess on September 8th it has alot of work to do. There are at least three bills of keen interest to the renewable energy community, including:
* The Biodiesel Tax Incentive Reform and Extension Act;
* The American Renewable Energy Act; and
* The Cleaner, Secure, Affordable Thermal Energy Act.
The Biodiesel Tax Incentive Reform and Extension Act is an attempt to circumvent the “black liquor” controversy by converting the existing blender’s tax credit into a $1/gallon ethanol producer’s credit. As previously reported, however, the bill would do nothing to extend the existing non-biodiesel alternative fuel producer’s credit that expires at the end of 2009.
The American Renewable Energy Act would require 25% of all U.S. electric production to come from renewable sources by the year 2025, while the Cleaner, Secure, Affordable Thermal Energy Act would create tax credit incentives for both residential taxpayers and business taxpayers who converted heating oil furnaces into natural gas or biomass-burning furnacts. You can follow pending legislation in the renewable energy space here.
Lowering Costs for Cellulosic Ethanol
Corn-based ethanol producers are finding the times tough. A relatively low-priced oil market has kept gasoline below $3/gallon and margins are thin. Cellulosic ethanol producers have found it hard to attract the capital needed to build production-scale plants.
A new producer in Connecticut is planning a 15 MgY plant at a production cost of less than $1 per gallon.
Connecticut-based American Energy Enterprises Inc. plans to construct a commercial-scale ethanol production facility in New Milford, Conn., and according to company chairman Christopher Brown, will use wood waste to produce ethanol at a cost of 80 to 85 cents per gallon. The plant is expected to begin production in mid-2010 and will initially produce up to 15 MMgy. Once production commences, units will be added monthly to increase capacity until the plant reaches its full capacity of 80 MMgy to 100 MMgy.
A contributing factor to the company’s low production cost is its plan to acquire feedstock at no cost or, in some cases, at a profit. Brown said that tipping fees for wood waste at landfills and wood chip companies in the region range up to $60 per ton. American Energy will offer lower fees or take the wood waste for free. “We’re in good shape with the municipalities, the local tree groomers and handlers of that material, and some of the waste companies,” he said, adding that contracts are in place to supply the plant with triple its need for feedstock for the first five years. Brown said the option to ship feedstock by rail to the facility from over 100 miles away is available, but so far, the 1 million tons of feedstock required annually can be acquired from within a 15-mile radius of the plant.
Meanwhile, another struggling cellulosic ethanol project in Pike County, Kentucky, believes its one step closer to its $200 million target to break ground on a waste-to-ethanol plant there under the guidance of Agresti Biofuels. Project sponsors are now said to be looking for private financing to fill out the needed funding.