- 4.4 GW Of New Solar Power Infrastructure Expected To Be Announced In India In 2013
- Oil Subsidies & Natural Gas Subsidies — Subsidies For The Big Boys (Not For Society)
- NREL’s Geothermal JEDI: Less Intimidating Than That Other JEDI
- Intel And Wal-Mart Lead EPA’s Green Power Partnership List
- It Takes A Village: Collaboration Key To Austin Success
- Rooftop Solar Changing South Australia’s Energy Market
- Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal & Gas In Australia, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Finds
- SolarWorld To Supply PV Systems For Group Buying Program
Posted: 07 Feb 2013 06:49 PM PST
Over 4.4 GW of new solar infrastructure is likely to be announced in India this year, according to the consultant group Bridge to India. But only about 1.1 GW is expected to turned on by the year’s end.
The group is anticipating the “announcement of 1.6 GW of new solar capacity under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM) along with an additional 2.8 GW of projects under five state solar programs,” PV-Magazine writes.
The states Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are likely to be announcing the largest solar additions, with 1 GW of new solar power capacity each. Punjab will then be next with 500 MW, then Uttar Pradesh with 200 MW, and Rajasthan with 100 MW.
“But Bridge to India says of those announcements, it expects only 350 MW to come to fruition in the calendar year – 200 MW in Andhra Pradesh, which allows 12 months for commissioned projects to come online and 150 MW in Tamil Nadu, which permits a delay of only 10 months.”
The remaining projects are expected to then be developed in 2014.
Of course, 350 MW is far less than 1.1 GW. In addition to the above, Bridge to india is expecting 290 MW from the NSM by the end of March, and another 30 MW from that by the end of the year; 100 MW from Madhya Pradesh; 40 MW from Karnataka; and about 200 MW from power distribution companies in order to hit their renewable power purchase obligations.
India has been growing its solar power capacity significantly in recent years. Just from August 2011 to July 2012, India grew its solar power capacity from 2.5 MW of grid-connected photovoltaics to over 1,000 MW. And in June 2012, the Indian state of Gujarat connected its new 600-MW solar power park to the grid, considered the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant (though, technically, it’s a collection of separate solar parks).
Image Credit: India Solar via Wikimedia Commons
4.4 GW Of New Solar Power Infrastructure Expected To Be Announced In India In 2013 was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others andsubscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 07 Feb 2013 05:18 PM PST
Following up on my post earlier today on the subsidies given to coal, here’s a post covering oil and natural gas subsidies a bit.
Just as with coal, oil and natural gas cause a tremendous amount of pollution, which surely lands them sizable subsidies in the form of uncorrected externalities (read the post linked above if you’re unfamiliar with externalities). Unlike with coal, I’m unaware of any comprehensive studies that attempt to quantify all the health and environmental costs of oil or natural gas. If you are aware of any, feel free to drop them in the comments. (Or you’re a researcher in this field, that on that project!)
However, for now, there are plenty of documented effects and calculations to get the point across. Let’s start with natural gas.
Natural Gas Externalities
As Environment America writes, natural gas fracking has left “a trail of contaminated water, polluted air, and marred landscapes in its wake.” Here are some of the specific natural gas fracking costs and other findings that Environment America then mentions:
§ “The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recently warned that workers may be at elevated risk of contracting the lung disease silicosis from inhalation of silica dust at fracking sites. Silicosis is one of a family of dust-induced occupational ailments that imposed $50 million medical care costs in the United States in 2007.”
§ “Residents living near fracking sites have long suffered from a range of health problems, including headaches, eye irritation, respiratory problems and nausea – potentially imposing economic costs ranging from health care costs to workplace absenteeism and reduced productivity.”
§ “Fracking and associated activities also produce pollution that contributes to the formation of ozone smog and particulate soot. Air pollution from gas drilling in Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale region imposed estimated public health costs of more than $10 million in 2008.”
§ “The clearance of forest land in Pennsylvania for fracking is projected to lead to increased delivery of nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, which already suffers from a vast nutrient-generated dead zone. The cost of reducing the same amount of pollution as could be generated by fracking would be approximately $1.5 million to $4 million per year.”
§ “Gas operations in Wyoming have fragmented key habitat for mule deer and pronghorn, which are important draws for the state’s $340 million hunting and wildlife watching industries. The mule deer population in one area undergoing extensive gas extraction dropped by 56 percent between 2001 and 2010.”
§ “Fracking also produces methane pollution that contributes to global warming. Emissions of methane during well completion from each uncontrolled fracking well impose approximately $130,000 in social costs related to global warming.”
§ “The truck traffic needed to deliver water to a single fracking well causes as much damage to local roads as nearly 3.5 million car trips. The state of Texas has approved $40 million in funding for road repairs in the Barnett Shale region, while Pennsylvania estimated in 2010 that $265 million would be needed to repair damaged roads in the Marcellus Shale region.”
§ “The need for vast amounts of water for fracking is driving demand for new water infrastructure in arid regions of the country. Texas’ official State Water Plan calls for the expenditure of $400 million on projects to support the mining sector over the next 50 years, with fracking projected to account for 42 percent of mining water use by 2020.”
§ “Fracking can also pollute drinking water sources for major municipal systems, increasing water treatment costs. If fracking were to degrade the New York City watershed with sediment or other pollution, construction of a filtration plant would cost approximately $6 billion.”
§ “The oil and gas industry has left thousands of orphaned wells from previous fossil fuel booms. Taxpayers may wind up on the hook for the considerable expense of plugging and reclaiming orphaned wells – Cabot Oil & Gas claims to have spent $730,000 per well to cap three shale gas wells in Pennsylvania.”
§ “Fracking brings with it increased demands for public services. A 2011 survey of eight Pennsylvania counties found that 911 calls had increased in seven of them, with the number of calls increasing in one county by 49 percent over three years.”
§ “A 2008 study found that Western counties that have relied on fossil fuel extraction are doing worse economically compared with peer communities and are less well-prepared for growth in the future.”
§ “Fracking can affect the value of nearby homes. A 2010 study in Texas concluded that houses valued at more than $250,000 and within 1,000 feet of a well site saw their values decrease by 3 to 14 percent.”
§ “Fracking has several negative impacts on farms, including the loss of livestock due to exposure to spills of fracking wastewater, increased difficulty in obtaining water supplies for farming, and potential conflicts with organic agriculture. In Pennsylvania, the five counties with the heaviest Marcellus Shale drilling activity saw an 18.5 percent reduction in milk production between 2007 and 2010.”
Quite simply, most of the costs will forever rest on the backs of citizens. Environment America adds:
§ “Existing legal rules are inadequate to protect the public from the costs imposed by fracking. Current bonding requirements fail to assure that sufficient funds will be available for the proper closure and reclamation of well sites, and do nothing at all to ensure that money is available to fix other environmental problems or compensate victims. Further, weak bonding requirements fail to provide an adequate incentive for drillers to take steps to prevent pollution before it occurs.”
§ “Current law also does little to protect against impacts that emerge over a long period of time, have diffuse impacts over a wide area, or affect health in ways that are difficult to prove with the high standard of certainty required in legal proceedings.”
Regarding the issue of global warming emissions, James Coan of the Center for Energy Studies at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, writes:
Those are all subsidies. Society subsidizes the natural gas industry in those various ways. If you ignore that when discussing energy subsidies, you get an automatic fail.
Of course, most of those points above also apply to oil. However, oil has been documented as having several additional health and environmental effects that cost us a large amount more. Additionally, there are tremendous military costs to protecting oil supplies and keeping shipping lanes open.
Here are some numbers and facts regarding the oil–health connection or other matters:
Here are some additional notes from the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Again, these are subsidies. These are large, societal subsidies. With these alone incorporated into the price of oil, I’m positive that electric cars powered by wind and solar power would already be very widespread.
Other Oil & Gas Subsidies
Of course, there are also direct subsidies to oil and gas. According to a study conducted by DBL Investors, annual averages based on historical subsidies have put oil and gas at $4.86 billion a year compared to $0.37 billion a year for renewables (in other words, oil and gas have received over 13 times more government money).
Furthermore, simply looking at “the first 15 years” of energy subsidies for each source, oil and gas received about 5 times what renewables got, relatively to the country’s federal budget. Here’s a look at how much each got as a percentage of the federal budget during their first 15 years:
Even during the Great Depression, oil and gas subsidies were greater than renewable energy subsidies at a comparable time:
And subsidies continue today for these excessively mature industries. Herman Trabish of Greentech Media writes:
“The oil and gas industries have Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), [DBL Investors Managing Partner Nancy Pfund] said, two low-capital-cost ways of financing infrastructure now rapidly expanding in the financial services world. Neither is available to renewables investors, Pfund said, and both cost less than the tax equity funds derived from solar’s Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and wind’s Production Tax Credit (PTC).”
Referencing the DBL Investors study mentioned above (from where the bar charts came) and expounding on the matter, Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, writes:
Scott Sklar, President of The Stella Group, Ltd & Adjunct Professor at GWU, adds notes on those above tax breaks and more (edits made for formatting):
Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council, makes another good point about parity in direct subsidies:
Additionally, while the US government is helping to make solar and wind power cheaper through various subsidies, it has already done the same with oil and gas. Drilling methods hugely beneficial to the natural gas and oil industries were largely developed by the US government. “The U.S. government has also played a huge role in subsidizing natural gas infrastructure and technology,” Pfund noted. “The combustion turbine was developed for aircraft and heavily subsidized. It was later reapplied to the gas sector.” Furthermore, the method of hydraulic fracturing that has resulted in the shale gas and oil boom was largely a result of government research and funding.
Today, subsidies for oil and gas are essentially money thrown into the bank accounts of the world’s richest. Oil and gas companies are making record profits in the billions of dollars. Meanwhile, the price of oil continues its long rise, and the price of natural gas is projected to start rising soon.
To the contrary, subsidies for renewables have resulted in tremendous price drops for solar panels and wind turbines. And, with the prices coming down enough to compete with entrenched energy options, installation numbers have boomed. Here’s one more chart from the DBL Investors study documenting this fact:
Why throw away money on billionaires when you can use it to spur on a clean energy revolution that will benefit society?
Getting back to the tax breaks for one last quote, Oceana Campaign Director Matt Dundas nails the crux of the matter with this extended comment:
Should we mention subsidies when discussing the price drops of solar and wind power? Sure. But contrary to what many confused commentators seem to think, that simply puts renewable energy on an even more attractive level.
Oil Subsidies & Natural Gas Subsidies — Subsidies For The Big Boys (Not For Society) was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others andsubscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 07 Feb 2013 07:00 AM PST
This article was originally published on NREL’s Renewable Energy Project Finance site:
For most people, the word “JEDI” conjures up images of distant galaxies, epic light-saber battles, fuzzy Ewoks, and fatherly plot twists. For us here at NREL, however, JEDI is more likely associated with a series of models rather than a series of movies. But just like any dedicated movie franchise fan, we are bursting with excitement over the recent release of the newest model in the series—JEDI for geothermal development.
JEDI Training — Episode I
JEDI is short for the Jobs and Economic Development Impacts model . Each of the various JEDI models estimates the gross economic impacts of constructing and operating renewable energy or fossil fuel power plants (note: be sure to see the description of JEDI’s limitations below). The models are user-friendly and customizable to experts and non-experts alike to reveal the magnitude of economic and job impacts flowing from development of energy generation projects. The results of the JEDI model include three categories of economic impacts, which are shown in Figure 1. According to the user manual for JEDI geothermal, these effects are classified in one of three ways :
§ “Project development and onsite labor impacts: The onsite or immediate effects created by an expenditure.
§ Supply chain impacts: The increase in economic activity that occurs when contractors, vendors, or manufacturers receive payment for goods or services and are able to pay others who support their business.
§ Induced impacts: The effects driven by reinvestment and spending of earnings by direct and indirect beneficiaries” .
The combined impact of these three categories (i.e., project development and onsite labor, supply chain, and induced) results in the total estimated economic effect from an expenditure . Each of these JEDI geothermal results are provided in both dollars of economic output as well as full-time equivalent (FTE) job positions and earnings supported .
Of course, it is important to also emphasize that the JEDI models have a number of limitations to consider when interpreting modeling results. They include but are not limited to: JEDI results are estimates, not precise forecasts; results reflect gross impacts, not net impacts; and results are based on approximations of the relationship between an industry expenditure and its associated economic output .
JEDI Geothermal — Episode II
The newest JEDI—JEDI geothermal—was just released publicly and allows users to estimate project costs and direct economic impacts for both hydrothermal and Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) power generation projects. It follows similar models for solar, wind, biomass, marine, coal, and natural gas electricity generation. Each of the JEDI models contains some common input requirements such as capacity factor, nameplate capacity, capital costs, and annual operations and maintenance costs.
JEDI geothermal also contains several unique attributes not included in other versions of the model. For example, there are several input fields to account for the drilling costs necessary for geothermal development. These are big-ticket items and include exploration costs, well and material costs, and reservoir stimulation for EGS. Depending on the degree of expertise of the user, the JEDI geothermal model can be set up to run using either a simple module or a module with more detailed level of input parameters. In both cases, the model is populated with default parameters to assist the user .
JEDI Modeling Analysis — Episode III
To validate and demonstrate the JEDI geothermal model, NREL compared the announced jobs from two real-world geothermal projects to the FTE estimates using a JEDI geothermal analysis. These actual geothermal projects are the Blue Mountain geothermal project in Nevada and the Neal Hot Springs project in Oregon. Developers of these projects participated in the Department of Energy’s 1705 Loan Guarantee program and as part of the application were required to report their estimates of permanent and construction jobs associated with the project.
Table 1 shows the announced jobs for these two projects and the corresponding modeling results from project development and onsite labor impacts from a JEDI geothermal analysis. In each case, the JEDI geothermal analysis provides a reasonable estimate of the permanent and construction jobs supported from development of the geothermal electricity plant.
In addition to estimates of jobs supported, the JEDI geothermal model also provides estimates for economic output for a modeled project. As shown in Table 2, the Blue Mountain project is estimated to provide over $104 million in economic output during the construction phase and a further $6 million in annual output during the operational phase.
It’s a Wrap
Fortunately, mastery of the JEDI geothermal model does not require exceedingly awesome telekinetic abilities, persuasive mind tricks, or a high midi-chlorian count—a wealth of supporting resources including a JEDI geothermal user guide, case studies, and supporting documentation is available at: http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/jedi/about_jedi_geothermal.html.
 “JEDI: Jobs and Economic Development Impact Model.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Factsheet, NREL/FS-500-46865. December 2009. Accessed September 19, 2012: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/46865.pdf.
 Johnson, C.; Augustine, C.; Goldberg, M. “Jobs and Economic Impact (JEDI) Model Geothermal User Reference Guide.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL Report No. TP-6A20-55781. September 2012. Accessed December 13 2012: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/55781.pdf.
 “Limitations of JEDI Models.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Accessed September 2012:http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/jedi/limitations.html.
NREL’s Geothermal JEDI: Less Intimidating Than That Other JEDI was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 07 Feb 2013 05:30 AM PST
If you use a personal computer, chances are you’ve used an Intel product. However, you might not know that the chip you used to surf the Internet was most likely made with 100% green power.
Intel is the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer based on revenue, but they’re also the biggest consumer of green power in America, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s(EPA) annual Green Power Partnership list.
EPA’s Green Power Partnership works with businesses, government, and higher education entities on a voluntary basis to encourage the use of green power. Intel dominates the most recent list, leading both the National Top 50 list of annual green power usage and 100% Green Power Users, both by kilowatt-hour (kWh).
The EPA broadly defines green energy as the renewable energy resources and technologies providing the highest environmental benefits. Usage figures are based on annualized contract amounts and only include power from US-based power resources. EPA allows partners to include any combination of renewable energy certificates, on-site generation, and green power products from utilities.
Intel Inside, Green Outside
According to EPA, Intel purchases more than 3.1 billion annual kWh of renewable energy certificates from wind, solar, geothermal, low-impact hydropower, and biomass. The company has also installed nearly 7 megawatts of on-site installed solar power.
Cumulatively, Intel’s actions have the annual equivalent environmental impact of removing more than 455,000 passenger cars from the road or avoiding the amount of electricity needed to power 327,000 average American homes.
Intel has held the top spot on EPA’s ranking since 2008, and the amount of green power it has consumed has risen exponentially per year. In 2011, the company purchased 2.5 billion kWh of green power, up from 1.4 billion in 2010.
Wal-Mart Leads In On-Site Green Power
While Intel may use the most kWh of green power, EPA’s list has a completely different leaderboard when filtered by total on-site generated green power.
Wal-Mart tops the list of annual on-site green power usage with 174,835,668 kwh, more than twice the amount of its closest competitor, representing 1% of the company’s total electricity use. The company uses a combination of biogas, solar, and wind power, and purchased more than 576 million kWh of green power over the entire year. It’s also worth noting Wal-Mart ranked fifth overall on the National Top 50 list.
Government entities also shone in the On-Site Generation list, with nine entities in the top 20, led by the US Air Force’s 36,988,080 kWh of on-site power. Seven West Coast municipal governments placed in the top 20, led by San Francisco’s 31,821,946 of on-site power.
Cumulatively, the Top 20 On-Site list generated more than 570 million kWh of on-site green power, equivalent to the annual electricity use of more than 60,000 average American homes.
Government, Corporations, Higher Education Go Green
Looking beyond individual organizations, the sheer scope of EPA’s Green Power Partnership is hard to ignore. More than 1,400 organizations voluntarily purchase more than 24 billion kWh of green power annually, the combined purchases of the Top 50 list equal more than 17 billion kWh annually, and dozens of partners meet 100% or more of their US organization-wide electricity demand with green power.
Corporations make up more than half the Top 50 list with 28 partners, and 77 overall participants among Fortune 500 companies. However, federal, state, and local governments place 15 entities in the top 50, and college and universities comprise the remaining 7 entries.
All in all, the wide range of participants in EPA’s Green Power Partnership underscore the benefits that renewable energy can have for budgets and social responsibility.
There’s much more to be discovered in EPA’s sortable database, with additional lists for the Top 20 Retail, Top 10 Federal Government, Top 20 College & University, Fortune 500 Partners, Top 20 Local Government, Top 20 Tech & Telecom, and Top 20 K-12 Schools.
Intel And Wal-Mart Lead EPA’s Green Power Partnership List was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 07 Feb 2013 05:29 AM PST
If you’re writing about the falling cost of solar or solar selling for cheaper than coal power or grid electricity, I’m sure you will quickly receive comments from “logical” and “fair-minded” people regarding one popular topic — subsidies. Unfortunately, their logic will probably be upside down.
Energy subsidies have been around for about as long as government and energy have been around. And, quite bluntly, fossil fuel subsidies dwarf anything solar power (or wind power) have ever received. If you want some details, read on.
To start with, let’s take a look at what is probably the largest and yet most overlooked type of subsidy: externalities. I don’t recall if I had learned about externalities in college or if I first learned about them in graduate school. So, to catch anyone up who hasn’t yet heard of them, I’ll just write a quick primer here (click the link above for more info):
True Price Of Coal
As should be obvious by now, fossil fuels come with a hefty bag of externalities. A Harvard Medical School study, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences and authored by the late Dr. Paul Epstein, found that the extra health and environmental costs of burning coal in the US costs the country up to $500 billion a year, or 9 to 27 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity.
Ideally, the government would step in and correct that “market failure” (a basic economics term) by adding 9 to 27 cents onto the price of coal. As International Monetary Fund (IMF) analyst Thomas Helbling notes: “Externalities are among the main reasons governments intervene in the economic sphere.”
Coal, at 10-14 cents per kWh for a new power plant, is already having a difficult time competing with cheaper wind, solar, and natural gas power plants. If 9-27 cents per kWh were added onto it’s price, no one would even consider building a new plant. Furthermore, old coal plants would be shut down like they were dispelling the plague (and they might as well be doing so). Frankly, this should have happened a long time ago, and if net societal interest were what more congresspeople actually cared about, this would have happened a long time ago. Some legislators do fight for this, but there are enough connected to, bought by, or confused by the rich coal industry that societal progress on this front is largely obstructed.
Other Coal Subsidies
There are many, many other ways in which coal is subsidized. Public land giveaways, tax credits, subsidized railroads — there are a lot of ways our government subsidizes coal. I highly recommend the following links for more details on these matter:
The pollution externalities are really enough in themselves to price coal out of the market. But if someone doesn’t want to acknowledge the fact that externalities are a societal subsidy, there’s plenty more in the links above with which to play.
This article was triggered in response to comments on our “First Solar Is Selling Solar Power For Cheaper Than Coal Power” article, so I’ve focused on coal subsidies. For a lot of detail on natural gas subsidies and oil subsidies, check out:
Energy Subsidy Nonsense — Energy Subsidy Narrow-mindedness Gets Old was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 07 Feb 2013 02:30 AM PST
By Jose Beceiro, Director of Clean Energy Initiatives, Austin Chamber of Commerce
As one of the first smart-grid-powered communities, a revolutionary technology incubator, and the host of a conference promoting clean energy investment; Austin, TX has proven itself a leader in the clean technology sector, and the region is poised to continue making significant strides in building a strong clean energy industry in 2013. Through economic development efforts by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, and public and private investments, Austin has established itself as an impressive center for clean technology headquarters, R&D, and manufacturing operations, with over 200 existing clean technology companies that employ 20,000 people.
Expansion of the clean technology industry continues to be successful through execution of the existing strategy of merging the energy economy with other areas of Austin’s technology expertise in software, computers, and semi-conductors to assist in producing new, innovative clean tech companies that prove-out and deploy their technologies at a far-reaching scale.
In 2012, Austin was named one of the top 10 best performing metros in the U.S. Metro Clean Tech Index and hosted the 2nd annual SXSW Eco conference, which grew to 2,500 attendees and included the SXSW Eco Startup Showcase that offered early stage startups the opportunity to present their business plans to venture capital and angel investors. To accommodate the growing interest and participation in SXSW Eco, the conference will be moving to the Austin Convention Center for its 3rd annual conference in October 2013.
As many very well know, the University of Texas is a powerful driver for Austin’s clean technology industry, as a number of its research programs focus on advanced battery research, energy-efficiency technology and smart grid technology, and solar and wind technologies. These programs consistently produce new innovations and initiatives powering Austin as a driver for the future of clean energy. With help from initiatives like the University’s Clean Energy Incubator, a clean energy startup resource provider, entrepreneurs are migrating to Austin, taking these technologies out of the university labs and spinning them out into new startup companies.
Clean energy in Austin has become a well-oiled engine fueled by companies that design some of the most innovative clean technologies in the region, including:
§ HelioVolt: Designer and manufacturer of thin film solar modules combining high–efficiency with low–cost manufacturing and outstanding energy production.
§ Illumintex: Developer of LED lighting technology for the general lighting market, including residential and commercial uses.
§ Joule Unlimited: Producer of alternative energy technologies.
§ Xtreme Power: Designer, engineer, manufacturer, and operator of integrated energy storage and power management systems.
§ Cielo Wind Power: Provider of complete solutions in the renewable energy sector.
§ SunPower: Supplier of residential, commercial and power plant solar solutions.
§ Renewable Energy Systems: Designer and installer of renewable energy systems using solar, wind, and hybrid systems.
Businesses are not the only contributors to the region’s clean energy engine. Ranked as one of the top green utilities in the nation for its Green Choice renewable power program for seven consecutive years, Austin’s municipal utility, Austin Energy, is considered to be one of the nation’s most progressive and greenest electric utilities by NREL. This progressive nature has propelled Austin Energy’s solar incentive programs to become the largest in the State of Texas with 40 megawatts of solar installed, 50 solar companies, and over 600 people employed.
Clean energy in Austin is a community effort primarily seen via one of the first smart grid communities and test models for advanced technology, the Pecan Street, Inc.’s smart grid demonstration project. This literal and figurative community effort is the product of the collaboration between Austin Energy and Austin municipal entities to develop a smart grid–powered community and business model for utilities. The goal of this model being to seamlessly integrate distributed solar and wind power, energy storage, and electric vehicles into homes and communities of the future.
In 2013, Pecan Street will launch the Pike Powers Commercialization Lab, a facility that will house early-stage clean tech companies. The lab will provide access to high-cost equipment and allow them to cross into commercialization that would be out of reach financially without this capital. Pecan Street’s revolutionary 2012 accomplishments included collaborations with major corporations to test some of the most essential day-to-day consumer products powered purely by clean energy. These 2012 partnerships included:
§ A Collaboration with GM to test how the Chevy Volt interacts with homes and renewable energy systems in the Mueller Development;
§ Expansion of its smart grid demonstration to 600 area homes.
Austin sees the potential for clean energy to become one of the main drivers for the United States’ economic future. This potential for clean energy to become an economic driver coupled with the country’s tremendous energy challenges places Austin, TX in a unique position to lead the charge in identifying new technologies, make energy use more efficient, while providing new power and new solutions that are sustainable; all while creating an incredible amount of job growth in the state of Texas.
It Takes A Village: Collaboration Key To Austin Success was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed,follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 07 Feb 2013 02:00 AM PST
This article was originally published on RenewEconomy:
Rooftop solar continues to have a dramatic impact on the energy market in South Australia – the Australian state with the highest penetration of rooftop solar.
As these graphs provided by Melbourne Energy Institute’s Mike Sandiford illustrate, the proliferation of solar PV is not just having an impact on overall demand in the state, it is also shaving and reshaping the peak demand curves.
The impact of solar PV in South Australia was recognised by a special study by the Australian Energy Market Operator last August. As we reported then, South Australia had some 267MW of rooftop solar as at June 30, representing one in five households. AEMO said rooftop solar was accounting for 2.4 per cent of overall demand, and more than one-third of the PV systems were operating at the time of peak demand at any one time.
These graphs deliver a further illustration of their impact, as they illustrate what happened in the latest months of December and January, traditionally the period of hottest temperatures and highest demand. (If the graphs are not easy to read we suggest you click on them to see them better).
The ones immediately below show the average demand curves in South Australia over the last five years. The pink line shows 2012/13. As Sandiford points out, midday demand in SA this summer is down 15 per cent on where it was five years ago, even though night-time demand is up, confirming the impact of solar PV.
“Overall, total demand is down about 3 per cent over the same interval,” Sandiford says. “I am betting all the pundits would have been expecting it to rise more than 10 per cent over that interval.” This accords with the AEMO estimates.
The following graphs, below, show the peak demand for the summer months. As AEMO noted last year, the peak demand times in the state are usually around 3pm and 4pm. The pink line shows that solar PV has been able to reduce those peaks, to the extent that the peak has now shifted to a smaller peak around 5pm, reducing the need for costly infrastructure and expensive gas peakers.
This is despite the increasing use of air conditioning, which is reflected on the graph on the right, showing that overall demand has increased around 5pm to 6pm compared to previous years.
As Sandiford notes from these latest graphs: The profile is becoming both more skewed to peak in the very late afternoon, but topping out at lower levels than one might have expected from non daylight hour demand.” He estimates that solar PV has shaved between 5 and 10 per cent off the peaks in South Australia.
There are now smaller peaks in the morning and the evening, which might suit gas-fired generators, but not coal generators. In any case, the shift has probably removed the need for around 150MW of peaking power plant. As UBS noted last week, the impending surge in battery storage will reduce the morning and evening peaks too.
As Sandiford has noted previously, and as UBS concluded in the case of Europe, the proliferation of solar PV is having a dramatic impact on the economics of existing generators. In fact, it is causing a revolution in the energy market – and this is without the impact of wind, which in South Australia has already exceed 20 per cent of supply.
In South Australia, the state’s only two coal-fired generators have been put in mothballs, with the Playford plant closed indefinitely, and the Northern plant opening only during the months of highest demand. These latest graphs may question whether that was worthwhile.
But what would happen in the future? Sandiford has extrapolated the deployment of solar PV in the last five years and assumed that would continue over the next five. The results are amazing – the blue line is the key, it basically turns the midday peak into an off-peak period, taking a massive chunk in revenue from the generators who rely on spikes in demand, and the accompanying pricing spikes, to break even.
Given this impact, one would wonder what that does to the plan by utilities to introduce time-of-use pricing to encourage a shift in demand from the peaks to other times of the day. It would seem that the peak has already been shifted.
Rooftop Solar Changing South Australia’s Energy Market was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed,follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 07 Feb 2013 01:30 AM PST
This article was originally published on RenewEconomy (image added):
A new analysis from research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance has concluded that electricity from unsubsidised renewable energy is already cheaper than electricity from new-build coal and gas-fired power stations in Australia.
The modeling from the BNEF team in Sydney found that new wind farms could supply electricity at a cost of $80/MWh –compared with $143/MWh for new build coal, and $116/MWh for new build gas-fired generation.
These figures include the cost of carbon emissions, but BNEF said even without a carbon price, wind energy remained 14 per cent cheaper than new coal and 18 per cent cheaper than new gas.
“The perception that fossil fuels are cheap and renewables are expensive is now out of date”, said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“The fact that wind power is now cheaper than coal and gas in a country with some of the world’s best fossil fuel resources shows that clean energy is a game changer which promises to turn the economics of power systems on its head,” he said.
But before people, such as the conservative parties, reach for the smelling salts and wonder why renewables need support mechanisms such as the renewable energy target, BNEF said this was because new build renewables had to compete with existing plant, and the large scale RET was essential to enable the construction of new wind and solar farms.
The study also found that Australia’s largest banks and found that lenders are unlikely to finance new coal without a substantial risk premium due to the reputational damage of emissions-intensive investments – if they are to finance coal at all.
It said new gas-fired generation is expensive as the massive expansion of Australia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export market forces local prices upwards. The carbon price adds further costs to new coal- and gas-fired plant and is forecast to increase substantially over the lifetime of a new facility.
BNEF’s analysts also conclude that by 2020, large-scale solar PV will also be cheaper than coal and gas, when carbon prices are factored in. In fact, it could be sooner than that, as we reported yesterday, companies such as Racth Australia, which owns coal, gas and wind projects, said the cost of new build solar PV was already around $120-$150/MWh and falling. The solar thermal industry predicts their technologies to fall to $120/MWh by 2020 at the latest.
The Bloomberg analysis said the Australian economy is likely to be powered extensively by renewable energy in future and that investment in new fossil-fuel power generation may be limited.
“It is very unlikely that new coal-fired power stations will be built in Australia. They are just too expensive now, compared to renewables”, said Kobad Bhavnagri, head of clean energy research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia.
“Even baseload gas may struggle to compete with renewables. Australia is unlikely to require new baseload capacity until after 2020, and by this time wind and large-scale PV should be significantly cheaper than burning expensive, export-priced gas.
“By 2020-30 we will be finding new and innovative ways to deal with the intermittency of wind and solar, so it is quite conceivable that we could leapfrog straight from coal to renewables to reduce emissions as carbon prices rise.” he added.
Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal & Gas In Australia, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Finds was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.
Posted: 07 Feb 2013 01:00 AM PST
Group-buying programs for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and systems have caught on fast in the US. With a glut of solar panels still overhanging the market, state and municipal governments (as well as local communities) are benefiting from the discount prices being made available via group-buying programs. At the same time, they are generating high-volume sales for manufacturers, and projects for installers.
Companies such as Clean Power Finance are helping residents organize community solar power projects. The Obama Administration’s green government initiative, meanwhile, is spurring green economic growth across the vast government sector in the form of energy efficiency improvements and installations of solar and other renewable energy systems. The driving force in helping public and private sector organizations create local, community group-buying programs nationwide — the Obama Administration’s Rooftop Solar Challenge, carried out by the Deptartment of Energy (DOE) as part of the broader SunShot Initiative — resulted in the Salt Lake City-Wasatch group-buying program garnering savings of some 40% on the installed cost of home solar PV systems for those who participated.
Municipal and state governments have also gotten into the act. SolarWorld on January 31 announced that it will offer solar PV panels and systems to Helping Governments across the Country Buy (HGACBuy), “a 35 year-old group-purchasing program to offer renewable energy products and services to US state and municipal government agencies.”
Group Purchasing Helping State, Municipal Governments and Public Sectors Go Solar
Originating as a cooperative purchasing program of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, HGACBuy has grown to include 6,106 local and state government agencies and non-profit organizations in 47 states. Included are city and county governments, municipal and cooperative utilities, community colleges, universities, school districts, transportation agencies, port authorities, and fire protection districts.
SolarWorld joins a group of only three other solar energy providers approved by HGACBuy. The largest manufacturer of solar PV panels in the US for the past 35 years, Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas earned “the highest score in HGCABuy’s evaluation of responses to its competitive solicitation for its high-quality, American-made solar panels, complete solar systems, and engineering and construction services.”
“HGACBuy just made it easier and faster for state, county and municipal governments to go solar,” Solar World Americas’ president Kevin Kilkelly commented. “In being selected for the HGACBuy program, SolarWorld has been pre-qualified and evaluated in a stringent, competitive and public bid process. We stand ready to rapidly deploy our American-made solar panels, balance-of-systems components and technical services to government agencies from coast to coast.”
HGCABuy enhances and streamlines the government agency purchasing process for products and services of a highly technical nature; employing public, competitive bidding in doing so. HGACBuy members last year purchased more than $123 million of goods and services through HGACBuy’s radio communication equipment contract, and another $120 million of goods and services apparatus contract.
SolarWorld To Supply PV Systems For Group Buying Program was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feed, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.