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Published on February 6th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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Clean Links: Solar, Wind, EV, & Policy News



Other than our 60+ stories from the past week, here are a few more noteworthy ones worth a look or two:

Solar Energy

1. MidAmerican Renewables, LLC Completes Acquisition of 550-MegawattAC Topaz Solar Farm from First Solar (solar farm in video above)

MidAmerican Renewables, LLC, a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, announced it has completed its acquisition of the Topaz Solar Farm from First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR). The 550-megawatt photovoltaic power plant being built in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., will have the capacity to generate enough renewable energy to power approximately 160,000 average California homes….

The Topaz project will be built, operated and maintained by First Solar. Construction began in December 2011 and is expected to be complete by early 2015. The project will create approximately 400 construction jobs and 15 ongoing operations and maintenance jobs.

Note: we wrote about this project in December.

2. Solar Thermal Creating Jobs in Colorado

Colorado has the highest solar thermal resources in the U.S. and could create 24,000 jobs, generating $1 billion in annual state revenue by 2050. Solar Thermal Alliance of Colorado is responsible for the goal. The recent organization was created by an umbrella of organizations in the state, including Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA), Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES), Colorado Environmental Coalition and other organizations.

The group held a meeting on January 24 and [it] was attended by State Reps. Max Tyler and Randy Fischer, both Democrats, to announce its goals and the Colorado Solar Thermal Roadmap, which will help the state internationally lead in the solar thermal field. Solar thermal technologies can heat and cool homes and produce electricity, depleting the reliance on traditional fossil fuels.

3. NanoMarkets Forecasts Rapid Sales Growth for CIGS Solar Panels Through Rest of Decade

In its newly released report, “CIGS Photovoltaics Markets-2012,” industry analyst firm NanoMarkets forecasts revenues from CIGS panels will reach $4.4 billion (USD) by 2017.  And while the recent announcement of a 150 MW solar farm supports the notion that CIGS technology is finally ready for prime time, NanoMarkets says that CIGS manufacturers will have to adopt new strategies to protect themselves from falling solar panel prices.

Additional details about the report are available at http://nanomarkets.net/market_reports/report/cigs_photovoltaics_markets_2012

Also see Andrew’s post: Lux Ranks Thin-Film CIGS Solar PV Manufacturers in Light of Forecast Growth Surge

4. Real Goods Solar Continues to Spread Clean Energy, Launches Third Annual Free Home Solar Sweepstakes

Real Goods Solar reaffirmed its commitment to make solar power affordable and accessible, by giving homeowners the opportunity to win their own 4kW home solar electric system valued up to $25,000 in the 2012 Free Home Solar Sweepstakes.

Qualifying homeowners can enter to win and see official rules at http://www.RealGoodsSolar.com/Sweepstakes or call 888.56.SOLAR.

5. VTA Installs Solar Power Systems at Its Three Bus Yards

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), in partnership with SunPower Corp., Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and Wells Fargo, installed solar parking canopy systems, totaling 2.1 megawatts (MW), at its three bus maintenance divisions. Using a Power Purchase Agreement to finance the systems, it is anticipated that VTA will save $2.7 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years.

“VTA will be saving taxpayer money on energy costs while investing in a future that will benefit us all,” said Santa Clara CountySupervisor and VTA Chair Ken Yeager. ”VTA is already combating global warming through the promotion of mass transit and congestion management. Now, we are reducing greenhouse gases through our operations, too.”

6. Clean Power Finance Expands Residential Solar Financing Products to New Markets

Clean Power Finance, the online marketplace for residential solar financing and sales software, today announced the availability of its residential solar finance products in the states of Colorado, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Initially only available in California, the solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) Clean Power Finance manages and markets are now accessible to qualified solar sales and installation customers in other states to brand and market as their own financing solutions to homeowners.

“We are committed to growing the residential solar market and believe that making competitive financing products available to companies selling solar is crucial to industry growth this year and beyond,” said Robert Prigge, SVP of worldwide sales for Clean Power Finance. “Solar PPAs and leases have emerged as the driving force behind residential solar sales. Our expansion into new markets underscores demand by solar companies for our finance products, which they can brand and market to homeowners.”

Clean Power Finance entered the residential solar financing market in California in April 2011. Since then, the company has expanded rapidly, and now facilitates as much as $1 million in residential solar project financings per day.

7. BrightSource Energy’s Power Tower Technology Selected by Sasol for South African Solar Power Plant Design

BrightSource Energy, Inc., a leading solar thermal technology company, [has] announced that Sasol has selected BrightSource’s power tower solar thermal technology following a worldwide review of solar technologies. Under the agreement, BrightSource and its partner Alstom, global leader in power generation equipment, will conduct a comprehensive front-end engineering and design (FEED) study for the South Africa market.

The FEED study is a critical step in the design and deployment of a solar thermal power plant. Sasol will use the information from the study to determine how best to deploy BrightSource’s technology in the markets it serves.

8. Solapoint Selects Alpha-Omega Solar Simulator

Alpha-Omega Power Technologies, LLC, a leading provider of concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar simulators and test systems, announced the purchase of its GEN2 Solar Simulator by Solapoint Corp.

Solapoint, Taiwan is one of the first companies dedicated to the business of III-V solar cells for terrestrial applications. It specializes in custom foundry services by providing post-epi processing including fabrication and test of cells to its customers using customer-consigned epi wafers.

“Solapoint pays attention to every detail of the process and is dedicated to providing exceptional quality,” per Ray Cravey, President of Alpha-Omega, “and their philosophy of “plan-do-check-act” matches well with the capability of the GEN2 to thoroughly check their devices are meeting the highest industry standards.”

The Alpha-Omega Test System supports Solapoint in providing a wide range of test and measurement capabilities to match their custom foundry services. With the ability to 100% test wafers or cells in excess of 1000x suns they can meet the most stringent quality control requirements of nearly any HCPV manufacturer today.

Wind Energy

vestas china wind turbine

1. Vestas China Receives 48.6-MW Wind Turbine Order 

Vestas China has received its very first V100 turbine order from Datang Hubei Renewable Energy (Datang Renewable). The introduction of the newest addition to the 2 MW platform in China took place in early 2011. The order represents not only an important step further into the low wind regime in China, but also a step into the new geographical market of the Hubei province.

The 27 units of V100-1.8 MW turbines with a total capacity of 48.6 MW will be installed in the Long Ganhu wind farm in the Hubei province, a low-wind site with an average wind speed at 5 m/s. Compared to other wind power plants in China, the Long Ganhu site is situated close to one of the intensively energy consuming areas of Hubei province. Thus, this answers the call from the National Government of pursuing the development of “distributed” wind power in China. The successful application of Vestas’ V100 at this wind site will set an example for distributed wind power at low-wind sites in other provinces, and the open-up in the Hubei province will bring new business opportunities for Vestas.

2. New Tool Could Prevent Wind Farm Bat Deaths

From devastating outbreaks of white nose syndrome to large numbers of bat deaths caused by collision and  dramatic changes in air pressure, the health of bat populations has emerged as a major issue for wind farm developers and operators. And while a range of solutions including specialized radar systemsand purple wind turbines have been proposed and tested, there has been a gap in research and technology that helps predict the movements of migratory bats.

But now, researchers at the US Forest Service have developed a new technology and predictive tool designed to help wind farm operators reduce impacts on migratory bats while maximizing energy production.  The interactive tool, created by ecologist Ted Weller and statistician Jim Baldwin from the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, allows users to predict the probability of bat presence (See a demonstration of the interactive tool at the Wolfram Demonstrations Project website).

3. Samsung joins renewables jobs surge with plans for Scottish wind turbine plant

Engineering giant Samsung has become the latest global manufacturer to announce plans for a British wind turbine plant, confirming … that it is to open a new facility in Fife that is expected to create more than 500 new jobs.

The £100m investment was announced at the Scottish Offshore Wind and Supply Chain Conference in Aberdeen and will see the company develop its new 7MW offshore wind turbine at the Energy Park at Methil near Fife.

4. Second Phase of Norwegian Wind Farm Underway

The first phase was completed in February 2011, and financing for the second phase is expected to be completed in mid-February for Høg Jæren EnergiPark, which will eventually have a capacity of 73.6 megawatts.

The second phase of the project is, however, relatively modest at 13.8 megawatts and only involves six additional turbines, which Siemens will be providing. The project’s second phase reached a documentary close on January 25, and over the next few weeks financing is expected to be settled. The second phase is expected to cost 30 million euros, putting the cost for both phases at around 170 million.

5. Is Wind Power the Most Under-Exploited Energy Opportunity in the Southern US?

The U.S. has nearly 45,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity.

There is a total installed capacity of 29 megawatts in the southern block of states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

There is a reason the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is holding its 2012 conference in Atlanta, Georgia this year, according to Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) Renewable Energy Manager Simon Mahan. The combination of newly identified, as-yet-unexploited resources, new technologies that make exploiting them economically feasible and a growing demand for electricity make the region a new frontier for developers.

6. Gamesa’s orders for the new G97-2.0 MW turbine total 356 MW in the second half of 2011, its inaugural year

Gamesa, a global technology leader in wind energy, secured contracts to supply 356 MW of its new G97-2.0 MW turbine in deals signed in the second half of 2011, the year of the global launch of this new turbine.

Europe, specifically Spain, accounted for the largest share of orders: 40% of the total, or 71 units of the G97-2.0 MW turbine amounting to 142 MW of capacity.

China accounted for 28% of orders, with a total of 100 MW, followed closely by the United States, which generated orders for 94 MW (26.4% of the total) in this period. Meanwhile, customers in India ordered 10 MW (2.8%) matching orders from Canada. The Canadian deal marks Gamesa’s first contract in the country.  

Transportation

1. Singapore Police Department Orders 12 T3 Electric Stand-up Vehicles

T3 Motion, Inc. ”has been awarded the contract from Singapore Police Department for twelve T3 Electric Stand-up Vehicles. The vehicles will be used by the Singapore Police Department for Changi Airport patrol initiatives.”

“As the seventh busiest international terminal in the world, this Changi Airport deployment is in line with our global branding strategy, increasing sales and raising global awareness of our company,” stated Ki Nam, T3 Motion CEO.

Over 3,000 T3 Series vehicles are now in use in over 30 countries.

2. Micro-Hybrids to Grow Nearly Eight Times Over by 2017, Report Finds

“Micro-hybrids will grow nearly eight-fold to 39 million vehicles in 2017 and create a $6.9 billion market for energy storage devices as the fuel-saving alternative technology finds ready adoption, driven by stricter emission standards, according to a Lux Research report titled, ‘Every Last Drop: Micro- And Mild Hybrids Drive a Huge Market for Fuel-Efficient Vehicles.’” the company notes.

Here’s more:

Micro-hybrids, which use a small battery to provide varying degrees of efficiency-boosting features, will dominate the automotive market, gaining 42% of the overall light-duty vehicle market. Simultaneously, the mild hybrids — superior to micro-hybrids but not as efficient as pure hybrids — will rise from near-zero to 1.5 million vehicles in 2017, accounting for 1.6% of the auto market.

“Micro-hybrids will take over the automotive market, while mild hybrids will leverage the excessive build-out of Li-ion capacity to grow,” said Kevin See, Lux Research Analyst and lead author of the report. “Micro-hybrids and, to a lesser extent, mild hybrids, provide a cost-effective solution to fuel savings to bridge the gap to more disruptive technologies like alternative fuels, plug-in vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles.”

To estimate adoption rates for micro-hybrids and mild hybrids, Lux researchers factored in the adoption of other fuel-saving technologies and modeled cost impact variations, besides estimating the costs of battery replacement and maintenance for these alternative vehicles. Among their conclusions:

  • Europe will lead with China and the U.S. in tow. Europe will continue its leadership in the micro-hybrid market, growing over three-fold to 12.6 million units in the next five years. China will see explosive 81% annual growth to reach 8.9 million units in 2017 and the U.S. will zoom from miniscule levels today to over 8 million in 2017.
  • Medium micro-hybrids dominate. A low price premium, fuel savings of up to 10% and a relatively easier manufacturing process will propel medium micro-hybrids to the top of the alternative auto market over the next five years. These vehicles will grow at 36% CAGR to 22.2 million vehicles in 2017, driven largely by the European market and automakers like Volkswagen.
  • AGM battery technology will grow nine-fold. Absorbed glass mat (AGM), lead-acid batteries will dominate the market for storage of micro-hybrids, growing at 46% annually to nearly $4 billion in 2017. In mild hybrids, Li-ion will carve out a niche, growing from near-zero to nearly $570 million in 2017, capturing a 47% market share among plug-in vehicles.

The report, titled “Every Last Drop: Micro- And Mild Hybrids Drive a Huge Market for Fuel-Efficient Vehicles,” is part of the Lux Research Electric Vehicles Intelligence service.

3. Judge rules Honda overstated hybrid fuel economy

A judge in California awarded $9,867 to a woman who sued Honda in small claims court, with the complaint that her Civic Hybrid did not achieve the fuel economy advertised by Honda.

Policy & Politics

1. Republicans Step Up Attacks on Obama’s Green Agenda

US Republicans are deploying a $100m election spending machine to savage Barack Obama’s green agenda, with Karl Rove’s political action committee releasing a new advert attacking the administration for funding a collapsed solar panel company.

The latest ad buy this week raises Republican spending on adverts attacking Obama’s support for Solyndra to more than $9m (£5.7m), with the election still nine months away.

Note: Check out our tag on Solyndra for more on the out-of-proportion freaking out and conspiracy theories about that story. 

2. Climate Change Policy: Oil’s Tipping Point Has Passed

Stop wrangling over global warming and instead reduce fossil-fuel use for the sake of the global economy.

That’s the message from two scientists, one from the University of Washington and one from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who say in the current issue of the journal Nature (Jan. 26) that the economic pain of a flattening oil supply will trump the environment as a reason to curb the use of fossil fuels.

“Given our fossil-fuel dependent economies, this is more urgent and has a shorter time frame than global climate change,” says James W. Murray, UW professor of oceanography, who wrote the Nature commentary with David King, director of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

3. Spanish Moratorium on Renewable Power

Spain has a unique way of financing its feed-in tariffs. Whereas most countries pass on the full cost as a surcharge to the retail rate (often with exemptions for energy-intensive industry), part of Spain’s feed-in tariffs is funded via tax money as part of the governmental budget. Now, the Spanish government, which has been working to change this type of financing for several years, says the budget has been used up. Effective immediately and for an indeterminate period, generators of renewable electricity that are newly installed are no longer eligible for feed-in tariffs – the Decree applies for solar, wind, and biomass.

Spain’s Fundacion Renovables (Renewables Foundation) has brought together “more than 40 institutions” in a petition against the moratorium presented in Madrid on January 31. The APPA, which represents producers of renewable power, says the moratorium will shut down the entire sector, destroying a growing corporate network in the process.

4. Ministers ‘misled MPs over need for nuclear power stations’

Ministers misled parliament over the need to build a new fleet of nuclear power stations, distorting evidence and presenting to MPs a false summary of the analysis they had commissioned, a group of MPs and experts alleged in a report published on Tuesday (PDF).

If MPs had been presented with an accurate picture of the evidence for and against new reactors, the government’s plans might have been challenged, according to the report. Both the previous Labour government and the current coalition overstated the evidence that new nuclear power was needed, it also alleged.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



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