Renewable Energy Memo

January 25, 2010

MiaSole to Build Solar Manufacturing Plant in Georgia

Filed under: CleanTech investing,solar — Tags: , — Jonathan B. Wilson @ 8:46 am

MiaSole, a manufacturer of Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) thin-film solar panels, is said to be planning to  build a 500,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Griffin, Ga. 

Santa Clara, Calif.-based MiaSolé will initially employ about 250 at the plant but would probably ramp up to nearly 1,000 employees.  The 500,000-square-foot plant could be one of the largest solar factories in the United States,

While Georgia is hardly a hot spot for the solar industry, the MiaSolé deal helps prove the state can compete for such investment. The company is said to have considered at least a dozen states for the plant.  While Georgia is often a target destination for corporations looking for corporate relocations Georgia has not yet taken advantage of opportunities to attract players in the solar and renewable energy fields.

January 13, 2010

eSolar Shines in China

Filed under: solar — Tags: , , , — Jonathan B. Wilson @ 7:29 am

A southern California start-up founded by Bill Gross (the founder of Idealab) is the first company of its size to land a major solar deal in China. 

Bill Gross’ eSolar recently announced that it had inked a deal with China Shandong Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing Co.  to build a 2,000 MW solar thermal farm in China.  (Unlike photovoltaic solar, thermal solar uses mirrors to collect sun that heats water, generating steam for electrical power). 

In an interview in 2009 eSolar’s founder said that he expected to be able to install solar thermal farms at a cost per watt between $2.50 and $3.00.  Once operational, solar thermal farms should be able to produce electrical power at a cost of roughly $0.10 per kWh, a rate that is attractive compared to other types of electrical generation.

The company values the deal at nearly $5 billion, so it if moves forward, eSolar will find itself in the small but happy club of renewable energy companies that are generating meaningful profits.

November 23, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: November 23, 2009

Our weekly compendium of renewable energy news and information from around the Web.

Trony Solar IPO

Chinese PV manufacturer Trony Solar is looking to raise $241 million in its planned initial public offering.  J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse are said to be the lead underwriters in the offering. 

Atlanta Foodservice Runs on Biodiesel

The Atlanta division of U.S. Foodservice is now running on biodiesel.   The Atlanta division’s 185 tractors began using biodiesel fuel early in November following the first 7,500-gallon delivery of B5. In addition to using biodiesel blends in the tractors, the fuel will power the four-cylinder, Thermo King Engines in its 210 refrigerated trailers.

Atlanta joins the U.S. Foodservice division in Plymouth, Minn., which uses B5, and the Streator, Ill., division which uses B11 in all but the winter months. The Minnesota facility has used biodiesel blends for years, the company stated, starting with B3 and switching to the state-mandated B5. “The division has had no performance or engine longevity issues,” a company spokesman said. U.S. Foodservice Minnesota is exploring a switch to B10 ahead of a state-mandate increase that takes effect in 2012.

U.S. Foodservice-Atlanta is active with and has a leadership role in several local, regional and state efforts to promote and protect the environment including the Georgia DNR Project, Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia and the Atlanta Zero Waste Zone.

Danish Ethanol

Inbicon unveiled a 1.4 MGY cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant in Denmark, using wheatstraw as its initial feedstock.  Inbicon has been working in partnership with Danish governmental energy authorities and the unveiling was timed to coincide with the climate change conference in Copenhagen

Portable Solar

The BBC ran a lengthy article on applications for portable solar power.  Portable solar can be an efficient solution for devices that would ordinarily run on batteries or that would require new powers lines to connect to the grid, including street lights and signs. 

Push for Extension of Biofuel Tax Credit

The National Biodiesel Board voiced its support for two bills pending in Congress that would extend the biofuel tax credit program that expires at the end of 2009.  (H.R. 4070 and S.B. 1589).  During visits with lawmakers, biodiesel industry leaders expressed strong support for S. 1589, the Biodiesel Tax Incentive Reform and Extension of Act, introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), and H.R. 4070, companion legislation introduced yesterday by Representatives Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and John Shimkus (R-IL). This legislation would reform the biodiesel tax incentive by changing the current blenders excise tax credit to a production excise tax credit. This will improve administration of the incentive, eliminate potential abuses and improve tax compliance. The proposals would also extend the biodiesel tax incentive for five years, providing the certainty entrepreneurs need to create jobs and expand the use of biodiesel.

Comings Events in Renewable Energy

The Renewable Fuels Association is hosting its 15th Annual  Ethanol Conference in Orland, Fla. on  February 15-17, 2010.  Panels will cover the indirect land use charges debate and the path forward for commercialization of biofuels.  Registration before January 22 will get members a discounted entrace for $550 ($750 for non-members).

Registration is still open for the Canadian Biofuels Summit to be held in Vancouver, BC November 30 to December 2, 2009.

50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy

Ballots are due today for the Biofuels Digest “50 Hottest Companies” competition. 

Write to Us!

We’d love to hear from if you have an idea for a story or would simply like your renewable energy company covered.  Write to us at “editor at renewableenergymemo dot com”.

October 19, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: October 19, 2009

Filed under: Around the Web,Biofuels — Tags: , , , , — Jonathan B. Wilson @ 6:52 am

Our weekly compilation of renewable energy news and information from around the Web.

American Bar Association Renewable Energy Committee

The Public Utility Section of the American Bar Association announced the formation of a new renewable energy committee that will pull together lawyers to study the renewable energy industry.  The ABA’s Public Utility Section is one of the oldest in the ABA and includes among its members the in-house attorneys and outside counsel for many of the country’s major electric utilities.

Coskata Opens for Business

Coskata unveiled its new nearly-commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Madison, Pa. this past week.  According to the company:

We are proud that we have successfully scaled our technology to this significant level,” said Bill Roe, president and CEO of Coskata. “This facility is demonstrating that our efficient, affordable and flexible conversion technology is ready for commercialization. The next step is to build full-scale facilities and begin licensing our technology to project developers, project financiers and strategic partners.”

Unlike other technologies and facilities that may rely on one primary source of feedstock, Coskata’s flex ethanol facility will be producing ethanol from numerous feedstocks, including wood biomass, agricultural waste, sustainable energy crops, and construction waste. This flexible approach at the Madison facility is enabled by Westinghouse Plasma Corporation (WPC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Alter NRG, and their plasma gasification technology. The feedstock flexible nature of the Coskata approach also allows for true geographic flexibility, meaning facilities can be built anywhere a feedstock can be sourced or delivered. 

Coskata’s technology, as demonstrated through Project Lighthouse, will be able to reduce greenhouse gasses by as much as 96% over conventional gasoline, while using less than half the water that it takes to get a gallon of gasoline. In addition, the company’s ability to produce non grain-based ethanol that is as much as 7 times as energy positive as the fossil fuel used in the process, addresses many concerns related to traditional processes, including energy efficiency and the use of grain. 

“The integrated biorefinery – utilizing Westinghouse Plasma Gasification on the front end and Coskata’s syngas-to-biofuels conversion process on the back end – serves as an excellent example of two leading companies working together to deliver a viable process to the biofuel market,” said Mark Montemurro, President and CEO of Alter NRG. “We’re excited to be delivering the feedstock flexibility to Coskata’s efficient and affordable process.” 

The facility is a demonstration of “minimum scale engineering”, an industry standard term which means it is the smallest size that will still allow the company to scale directly to 50 million and 100 million gallon Coskata facilities. Some of the ethanol that is being produced at the facility has been delivered to the General Motors Milford Proving Grounds for early testing, as well as to another major strategic partner.

“We invested in Coskata so that we could enable the rapid deployment of commercially viable and environmentally sustainable ethanol globally,” said Bob Babik, GM Vehicle Emissions Director. “We’re proud to say that we have already accepted some of Coskata’s ethanol at our Milford facility.”  

Globally, General Motors has produced more than 5 million flex-fuel vehicles to date. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 3.5 million GM flex-fuel cars and trucks on the road. For the 2010 model year, 17 E85-capable flex-fuel vehicles from the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC brands.

GM claims to be on track to make more than half of its vehicle production flex-fuel capable by 2012.

New Biomass Facility in South Georgia

 Wiregrass Power announced that it would break ground in 2010 on a $100 million biomass facility in Valdosta in southern Georgia.  The plant will process wood waste and wastewater sludge that is currently being deposited in a landfill. 

 Momentum for Biofuels

 We covered the increasing number of biofuels projects in the works, wondering aloud whether biofuels were gaining momentum.

 Environmental Issues Slow Big Solar Projects

 The LA Times covered the problem of delays at large solar projects in California due to environmental permitting delays. 

 The development of solar-power facilities in the desert has been a top priority of the Obama administration as it seeks to ease the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and curb global warming. In addition, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has urged that the state meet one-third of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020.

Companies are racing to finalize their permits and break ground by the end of next year, which would qualify them to obtain some of the $15 billion in federal stimulus funds designated for renewable energy projects. At stake is the creation of 48,000 jobs and more than 5,300 megawatts of new energy, enough to power almost 1.8 million homes, according to federal land managers.

But the presence of sensitive habitat, rare plants and imperiled creatures such as desert tortoises, bighorn sheep and flat-tailed horned lizards threatens to stall or derail some of the projects closest to securing permits.

 The article describes the utter chaos that ensues when multiple state and federal agencies are empowered to review and approve (or not) plans to locate energy facilities.  While the Obama administration has clearly made the installation of additional solar capacity a priority, other state and federal agencies will deny permission over any perceived environmental risk.  The end result is to increase the cost of initiating new facilities, to decrease the number of new facilities and ultimately to drive up the cost of power itself.

August 31, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: August 31, 2009

Our weekly compilation of renewable energy news and information from around the Web.

Sixteen Days and Counting

Interested taxpayers have sixteen days to submit their preliminary applications for Section 48C tax credits for qualified advanced energy projects.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated approximately $2.3 billion in tax credits for qualified advanced energy projects, defined to include projects that are intended to manufactured advanced energy property.    (Refer to our white paper for details on the application process or register for our free webinar on the topic on September 2, 2009).

Although the preliminary application is only two pages long and permits a summary of the project in no more than 300 words, the formal application (due October 16, 2009) is quite lengthy.  The formal application requires a “project information memorandum” of not more than 30 pages (12 point font, single-spaced) excluding appendices.

One of the more challenging aspects of the formal applicable is the requirement that the applicant calculate the “attributable annual manufacturing capacity” (or “AAMC”) to the proposed QAEP.  The theory behind this calcualtion is that each project be rated to determine how much “bang for the buck” society will receive for the dollars of tax credit extended.  So, to make this rating possible, DOE wants to know the dollar value of energy to be produced by the devices produced by the QAEP so that it can compare that value (the AAMC) against the dollars of tax credits for which the applicant is seeking certification.  In theory, the DOE will be able to rank all of the applicant projects by AAMC per dollar of tax credit, giving priority to those projects producing the highest quantity of value per dollar of tax credit.

That’s a great theory but the quantity and variety of variables that contribute to the calculation of AAMC are extreme and there is relatively little time in which to complete the process.  In addition, because no one has ever done this before, there will likely be great variation in the methods and data employed by applicants to justify their respective projects. 

Under the DOE’s guidance, released on August 15, 2009, the DOE will take the applications submitted by October 16th and produce a ranking of qualifying projects to the Treasury by December 16, 2009.  That’s only 60 days to review, validate and prioritize what could be hundreds or even thousands of projects.  (In its OMB estimate of the hours of paperwork required the DOE estimated that it would receive 1,000 complete applications). 

Project developers need to be actively engaged with their accountants, lawyers and advisors if the hope to participate in this initial round of applications for Section 48C credits.

The California Reverse-Auction Proposal

California is proposing to implement a reverse-auction process to determine the price investor-owned utilities will pay for new solar projects in that state.  The proposal is believed to be the first of its kind and has the merit of implementing a market process to determine price while simultaneously acting to stimulate new investment in a renewable sector.

Xtreme Power Plans Plant in Michigan

Texas-based Xtreme Power is planning to convert a deserted Ford Motor Company plant in Wixom, Michigan into a manufacturing facility for its energy-storage systems. 

Xtreme Power says it will build a manufacturing plant for its power-storage systems in Wixom, Michigan, northwest of Detroit, with the help of a state incentives package estimated to be worth more than $200 million.  Michigan officials say Xtreme might hire as many as 2,500 workers between late 2011 and 2014 and generate another 10,000 supplier-related jobs in the area.

Xtreme Power, which employs about 90 people, makes battery-based energy storage systems for power utilities, wind farms and large manufacturing companies.  Its systems, which rely on lead-acid batteries, recharge overnight, creating energy that can be used during the day, when demand for power is higher.

Clairvoyant Energy of Santa Barbara, California, also will receive incentives to use part of the Wixom plant to produce solar panels. Overall, the companies could invest up to $725 million in the project and create 4,300 direct jobs.  “The Wixom project has the potential to make Michigan a national destination for renewable energy products,” said a spokeswoman for Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

PECO Proposal to Buy Solar RECs Approved

The Pennsylvania Public Service Commission approved a proposal by PECO Energy Co. to begin purchasing renewable energy certificates from developers of solar power facilities. 

The ruling allows the Philadelphia utility to begin buying alternative-energy credits to comply with a law that forces utilities to derive a gradually increasing portion of their power from renewable-energy sources.

PUC chairman James H. Cawley commended Peco “for taking the initiative to kick-start the process.” The state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act requires electrical utilities to buy 18 percent of their power from alternative-energy sources by 2020.

The market for solar alternative-energy credits has been “very thin and very illiquid” because the laws requiring utilities to buy solar power are only starting to kick in, according to Mike Freeman, senior originator of Exelon Generation Co. L.L.C., the wholesale power arm of Peco’s parent company, Exelon Corp.

Peco’s planned purchase of 80,000 credits over 10 years – each credit represents one megawatt-hour of power, or about as much as a residential customer would consume in a summer – should provide a strong signal to solar builders about the value of their projects, which will assist long-term financing.

First Michigan Biomass-Powered Gasification Plant

Biomass Magazine reported on what is believed to be the first biomass-powered gasification plant in the State of Michigan. 

The report indicated that Heat Transfer International has nearly completed the installation of a gassification plant in Howard City, Michigan, that will become the state’s first gasification plant and the world’s first hot air turbine powered by biomass, according to Pat Dickinson, a business developer for HTI.

The plant will convert turkey litter at Sietsema Farm Feeds into a syngas that will be used to provide the heat and electricity needed to produce turkey feed.

HTI is a designer and manufacturer of SALT retorts, which Dickinson explained are starved-air/low-temperature biomass gasification systems. “We have a technology that converts biomass, through a thermal process, into synthesis gas,” he said. “The syngas is sent to a chamber where it is combusted—much like natural gas or propane—and is then used to make heat, which can be converted into steam, power or hot water; any commodity that is desired.”

Dickinson said unique aspect of the soon-to-be commissioned system at Sietsema Farm is that the air turbine will produce power from poultry litter without the use of steam or an internal combustion engine. “We don’t have to worry about trying to clean the gas to run it through a reciprocating engine,” he said. “The heat we produce off the gasification process is sent through our patented high-temperature ceramic heat exchanger technology, which sends clean, hot air to the turbine. So many times people are looking for—especially for smaller power systems—a half megawatt or a megawatt of power. If they want to make power, they have to make high-pressure steam and use a steam turbine. We don’t have to go through that process, or have a high-pressure boiler to make power.”

August 29, 2009

California to Reverse-Auction Solar Power

Filed under: Energy Blog — Tags: — Jonathan B. Wilson @ 2:46 pm

In a first-of-its-kind move, the California Public Service Commission is proposing to require its investor-owned utilities to hold reverse auctions to determine the price they will pay for power from newly-developed solar generators between 1 and 20 MW.  (NY Times coverage

Rather than have the PSC stipulate rates for solar power, the staff proposal, filed on Thursday, would require a series of auctions among the investor-owned utilities to determine the rate they would pay until such time as 1,000 MW of power had been installed.

According to Adam Browning, the executive director of Vote Solar, a San Francisco advocacy group, the reverse auction proposal fills a big hole in California’s renewable energy program – photovoltaic projects that generate between one and 20 megawatts and can be built quickly and plugged into the existing transmission grid.

“With this program I think you’ll see a lot of photovoltaic systems on otherwise unusable land, like railroad rights-of-way or wastewater plants that have lots of roof space,” said Mr. Browning. “One other advantage of this type of policy is that it guarantees that only the people who make good business decisions are going to get these contracts.”

Developers were generally positive towards the proposal. “Such an approach is very likely to spur a large volume of PV projects in the state,” wrote Arno Harris, the chief executive of Recurrent Energy, a San Francisco-based solar developer, in an e-mail message.

An additional advantage to the proposal is that it would begin to develop data on the rates paid for solar power — data that is not available today because most large solar projects negotiate confidential power purchase agreements. 

“One of the things this is likely to do is create some real valid data about the cost structure of distributed power plants,” said Julie Blunden, vice president for public policy at SunPower.

Others expressed concern that the auction process might favor large developers or large projects to the detriment of smaller projects.

While the proposal remains to be implemented, it is a novel and creative way of solving the problem of introducing government stimulus without undercutting the competitive market.  As the NY Times piece notes, the Spanish solar market crashed last year when solar capacity hit the ceiling allocated by the government for incentives.  Once the incentives were gone, the value of solar fell to the floor.  A similar problem exists in any government-backed incentives program that artificially inflates the value of a particular good.

California’s auction proposal encourages solar development but allows the market to set the price, thereby eliminating the risk of artificially inflating the price.

August 24, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: August 24, 2009

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.

Pending Legislation

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.

August 21, 2009

Is Renewable Energy Safer?

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”) today released a report claiming that renewable energy is safer than ‘conventional’ power generation and that switching to renewable power generation could save up to 1,300 lives each year.

The OSHA report said that renewable energies should improve the health of the 700,000 U.S. workers in the energy sector, citing researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin.  Their research is published in the August 19 issue of JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. Steven Sumner, M.D. and Peter Layde, M.D., professor of population health and co-director of the Injury Research Center at the college, examined occupational health risks to workers in renewable energy industries compared to those in fossil fuel industries.

They pointed out the risk of workplace injury and death among energy workers is a hidden cost (or “externality”) of energy production.  Externalities of energy production include problems ranging from damage to the general environment to adverse health effects caused by pollution, injuries, and fatalties. Sumner and Layde concluded that wind and solar energy appear to lessen injury risks because the energy extraction phase is minimized or eliminated in wind or solar energy production. Biomass, comprised of biofuels, organic waste, and wood derived fuels, currently accounts for more than half of U.S. energy renewable consumption and does not appear to offer a significant safety benefit to U.S. workers relative to fossil fuels, they found.

“The energy sector remains one of the most dangerous industries for U.S. workers. A transition to renewable energy generation utilizing sources such as wind and solar could potentially eliminate 1,300 worker deaths over the coming decade,” Sumner said.

July 27, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: July 27, 2009

Filed under: Around the Web — Tags: , , , — Editor @ 6:39 am

Our weekly compilation of renewable energy news covers the globe:

Hydrogen in the UK

Researchers at the University of Leeds are working on a method of generating hydrogen from municipal solid waste.  Hydrogen is a valued feedstock because its combustion produces no emissions (only water). Primary researcher Dr Valerie Dupont explains that his process uses a catalytic reactor to mix a hydrocarbon-based fueld with plant or waste resources.  The combination is mixed with steam to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which are then separated.

Wind in Texas

Baryonyx claims to be building the largest offshore wind farm in the U.S.  The Texas General Land Office says that it awarded the contract to Baryonyx to use Texas state lands to develop the wind farms, providing electric power for Texas schools, prisons and other public offices.  Much seems uncertain about the project, however, as Baryonyx’s CEO, Douwe Fransens, was quoted in the Dallas Morning News to say that he “had no estimate” as to how many turbines would be involved in the project but that construction “could begin in two or three years.”

Feed in Tariffs in Arizona

Brian Coppa writes on some ongoing work by the Natioanl Renewable Energy Laboratory on the adoption of feed-in tariffs.  He explains:

“A feed-in tariff is a revenue-neutral way of making the installation of renewable energy at the residential, commercial or utility level more appealing. The electricity that is generated is bought by the utility at above market prices. In some instances, the retail price of electricity purchased from this power source might be 40¢/kWh, which is not competitive with a conventional fossil fuel plant at 10¢/kWh; so the difference is distributed to all of the customers of the utility. For example, if $100,000 worth of green power is bought in a year by a utility that has 1,000,000 customers, then each of those customers will have 10¢ added on to their bill annually.”

The most recent of the NREL studies, released in June, concluded that, “The success of FIT (feed-in-tariff) policies around the world, notably in Europe, suggests that they will continue to grow in importance in the United States, as evidence mounts that they provide an effective framework for the promotion of RE development and job creation.” 

RECS in Ohio

Dayton Power & Light in Dayton, Ohio, issued a request for proposals for the sale of renewable energy certificates (or RECs) that would satisfy the requirements of Ohio Amended Substitute Senate Bill 221

Canadians Invest in Iceland

Magma Energy Corp., a publicly-traded company in Canada, announced that it would invest $40 million in HS Orka, a privately-held company in Iceland that develops geothermal power.  Analysts said that the investment was intended, in part, to act as a hedge against the possible implementation of a cap and trade system. 

Solar Power in Africa

The NY Times reported on an effort by the Desertec Industrial Initiative to bring together a consortium of investors to develop a massive solar power system in the sun-baked deserts of North Africa.  Desertec is financing in part by a number of German companies, including Siemens and Munich Re.  Desertec’s ambitious plan calls for a network of solar, hydropower and other renewable resources to be developed through North Africa and the Mediterranean region.

Biomass Critics in Massachusetts

The Boston Globe carried a piece on critics of biomass in New England.  It describes local community groups and some environmentalists voicing concerns that growth in biomass will spark the need (forgive the pun) for expanded logging. 

Geothermal in Australia

The Australian Academy of Science has posted a fascinating background piece on geothermal opportunities in Australia.  The white paper describes the geologic features of Australia that make geothermal promising and how geothermal power could become a significant part of Australia’s baseload production capacity.

Wind in Antarctica

Professor Matthew Traum describes how a new research site in Antarctica is being powered by wind energy.  He describes how turbines from Proven Energy are being used in a land where the wind can reach 200 mph to power the Princess Elisabeth research station. 

Next Week

Want to get your story in “Renewable Energy Around the Web?”  Send me your links and any background information via email to “Editor” “at” “” and I’ll do my best.

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