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May 30, 2011

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March 16, 2010

New Legislation for Offshore Wind Tax Credits

Filed under: CleanTech investing,wind — Tags: , , , , — Jonathan B. Wilson @ 6:04 am

Two bills have recently been introduced in the Senate that would expand or extend tax credit programs for offshore wind projects.

Senate Bill 3062 sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del) would extend existing tax credits for offshore wind projects until January 1, 2020.

The Deepwater Offshore Wind Incentive Act (S. 3064 sponsored by Senators Carper and and Susan Collins (R-Maine)  would offer tax credits to “deepwater offshore” wind projects.  Some project developers believe that deepwater projects may be able to circumvent some of the environmental and NIMBY resistance tocloser-in offshore wind projects. 

S. 3064 would increase the Section 45 production tax credit for “deepwater offshore” wind projects to 3.04 cents per kWh, with an inflation adjustment for years after 2010.  The bill would also extend the placed in service date for qualifying projects to 2030 for Section 48 investment tax credit purposes. 

The bill defines “deepwater offshore” projects as any project that is located in water with a depth of 60 meters or more (regardless of whether the project is in the internal or territorial waters of the U.S.) 

Both bills have been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

January 9, 2010

NREL Publishes Primer on Community Wind Projects

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory at Berkeley has published a new paper on the application of federal incentives on community wind projects.  (Revealing the Hidden Value that the Federal Investment Tax Credit and the Treasury Cash Grant Provide to Community Wind Projects). 

The paper provides a helpful summary of the investment tax credit, the Treasury cash grant program and ways those incentives can be monetized and harnessed for locally-owned wind power projects.  Perhaps more importantly, though, the paper points out how the recession of 2008-09 may turn out to have been a blessing in disguise for community-owned wind projects.

Wind power grew dramatically during the middle 2000s, but most of these projects were investor-owned.  For-profit developers’ demands for turbines and qualified engineers often resulted in a shortage in those resources for more cash-strapped developers.  The downturn impacted many of these projects and resulted in an excess of supply over demand, allowing community-owned projects to begin to take up the slack.

The expansion of the investment tax credit and the availability of the Treasury cash grant have made it possible for community-based projects to get started with less upfront capital than in the past.

December 21, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: December 21, 2009

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

Renewable Energy in Scotland

A report from the Scottish National Heritage organization claims that Scotland is on target to exceeds its renewable energy goals and could achieve 300% of its goals by 2020 if pending programs are approved.  The report claims that 2,834 MW of renewable power is operational and another 3,739 MW of power has been approved with another 19,500 MW in the planning stages.  The combined output is more than three times the 8 GW need to meet Scotland’s 2020 target of 50% of electricity from renewables. 

Utilities Building Long Distance Transmission Lines

The California PUC gave its final approval for Southern California Edison to construct the last 173 miles of its 250-mile Tehachapi transmission project in Kern County.  The line is expected to transmit as much as 4,500 megawatts of electricity produced from wind, enough power for nearly 3 million homes.

The capital cost of high-capacity long distance transmission is often seen as a barrier to the development of renewable energy production because the cost can be so high and the time to delivery can take years.

In a related development, LS Power announced that it would build the LaSalle Transmission Project (“LaSalle”), a new 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission project connecting Illinois and Indiana. The project is intended to facilitate renewable energy development within the region.

LaSalle is expected to be an approximately 160-mile transmission line to connect three existing 345-kV substations operated by the PJM Regional Transmission Operator. These three substations are the Pontiac-Midpoint substation near Pontiac, Illinois; the Reynolds substation near Reynolds, Indiana; and the Dumont substation near North Liberty, Indiana. New substations may also be constructed along the transmission line to serve as points where additional wind could interconnect to the transmission system.

“LaSalle will be routed through some of the most promising areas in Illinois and Indiana for wind development – areas that currently have limited access to the high-voltage transmission system,” stated Sharon K. Segner, Director – Project Development with LS Power. “LaSalle will provide both a means for wind generation to connect to the transmission system and an outlet for the wind generation to be delivered to load.”

The project is being developed by Central Transmission, LLC, a new transmission company and member of the LS Power Group. The LS Power Group has active transmission development across the country representing over 1,000 miles of transmission planned to help deliver renewable resources to load. This includes Great Basin Transmission, a new transmission company in Idaho and Nevada developing a “shovel ready” 500+ mile 500-kV transmission line; and Cross Texas Transmission, a new transmission company in Texas developing over 200 miles of double circuit 345 kV as part of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone Transmission Plan.

Renewable Energy Committee Studies State Incentives

The Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association’s Public Utility Section is conducting a study of state-level incentives for renewable energy.  The Committee’s Fall 2009 Report outlined the key federal incentives and for its Spring 2010 Report the Committee will dig deeper into the incentives available at the state level.  Created by the Public Utility Section in 2009, the Renewable Energy Committee has nearly 100 members and brings together legal practicioners to study developments in the sector.

New Landfill Methane Plant in North Carolina

Methane Power announced the opening of a new landfill gas-to-energy plant in Durham, NC, the state’s fourth largest city.  Electricity generated by the Durham landfill energy plant is being sold to Duke Energy Carolinas under a power purchase agreement.

Methane Power Inc., the project developer, said the energy plant is powered by three of GE’s containerized JGC 320 Jenbacher landfill gas engines. GE’s Jenbacher landfill gas engines are generating 3.17 megawatts of renewable electricity for the regional grid by using the landfill’s methane gas, which is created by the decomposition of municipal solid waste. The facility is generating enough energy to support about 1,800 North Carolina homes.

North Carolina is one of 27 states with a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires utilities to produce a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources, including biogas. North Carolina’s RPS requires that by 2021, utilities must meet 12.5 percent of customers’ energy needs through energy efficiency savings or renewable energy production.

Copenhagen’s Effect on Renewable Energy

Will the recently-announced climate change deal at Copenhagen have an effect on the market for renewable power?  The popular investing blog, SeekingAlpha, things so.  SeekingAlpha writes:

“The result from Copenhagen boosted the renewable energy outlook; India’s Suzlon sees wind turbines shortfall in 2010 and in the coming years. The $53B wind turbine market means the current global capacity cannot meet the demand.”

“The wind energy market is heating up in China as well. Ealier this year General Electric set a joint venture with A-Power Energy Generation with an annual 2GW capacity in 2010. According to the CEO, GE sees China as leading the green energy trend already, and this will continue if the U.S. does not come up with a green energy policy. A-Power Energy Generation announced Wednesday that the company has signed a definitive agreement with US-REG and Cielo wind for a Texas 600MW wind farm project. ”

“Before this announcement, some investors were still skeptical. What makes this project golden is that A-Power has agreed to deliver wind turbines beginning in March 2010. In other words, revenue on wind turbines will starts to flow in Q1 of 2010. Of course, the company has already realized revenue from Chinese wind farms in Q4 2009, however this marks the first revenue in-flow from a Mega wind farm project that A-Power has signed. The company has many huge alternative energy projects from various countries and is ramping up its turbine projects quickly through a Joint venture with General Electric.”

On the other hand, most environmental activists have viewed Copenhagen as a bust, so any boost for renewables is likely less than would have been the result if world leaders had adopted a wider-reaching or more robust agreement. 

In that same vein, on the first tradng day after the Copenhagen announcement, the price of carbon trading permits in Europe fell, reflecting the decreased likelihood of restrictions on carbon emissions.  Bloomberg reported that the “nations attending the two-week Copenhagen summit that ended at the weekend agreed to voluntary, rather than binding, targets to reduce emissions. The accord isn’t enough to boost demand for permits, said Trevor Sikorski, an emissions analyst at Barclays Capital in London.”

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”.

September 1, 2009

Duke Energy Plans Ninth Wind Farm in Wyoming

Filed under: CleanTech investing,wind — Tags: , — admin @ 3:27 pm

According to the Wall Street Journal, Duke Energy is planning its ninth wind farm in the U.S. and its fourth in Wyoming.

The latest project, dubbed “Top of the World,” is a 200 MW project on 17,000 acres of private and public land Duke Energy holds under long-term lease.  Duke is expecting the project to be in service beore 2011.   The project will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 50,000 to 60,000 homes each year.  

PacifiCorp, which operates as Rocky Mountain Power in Wyoming, will purchase the electricity generated by the project and the associated renewable energy credits as part of a 20-year power purchase agreement. PacifiCorp will get the same from a nearby project from Duke Energy, which is one-half the size of Top of the World.

“We’ve always believed Duke Energy could become a major player in the wind power industry if we adhered to our strategy for organic as well as opportunistic growth,” said Wouter van Kempen, president of Duke Energy Generation Services (DEGS), a business unit of Duke Energy that owns and develops renewable energy assets. “Including Top of the World – which will be our second-largest renewable energy facility – we’ll have committed to four new wind projects totaling more than 360 megawatts this year alone.”

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 30, 2009

Sumitomo Enters U.S. Wind Market

Filed under: wind — Tags: , , , , — Editor @ 11:59 am

Sumitomo recently entered the U.S. wind market by purchasing a 42.5% stake in a wind farm in Stanton, TX. 

Sumitomo purchased the stake from an  American International Group Inc. (AIG). General Electric Co. (GE) holds another 42.5%, with the remaining 15% owned by Invenergy LLC, the fifth-largest wind power company in the U.S.

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” “renewableenergymemo.com” and I’ll do my best.

July 23, 2009

Massachusetts Awards $2 Million to Wind Projects

Filed under: wind — Tags: , , , — admin @ 6:57 am

The State of Massachusetts has awarded $2 million to nine wind energy projects around the state.  (Forbes).

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