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Cleantech News from CleanTechnica:10 Huge Lessons We’ve Learned From Solar Power Success In Germany

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica


10 Huge Lessons We’ve Learned From Solar Power Success In Germany

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 02:17 PM PST

Fox & Friends last week had the apparent bravery (or ill-conceived agenda) to mention Germany’s huge solar power success. We’ve written three articles in response to the Fox & Friends clip:

§ Fox News: Can You Get Any More Insane?

§ Fox News Fails BIG TIME On Solar Subsidies

§ Germany Has More Solar Power Because Everyone Wins

Another article that might help those who have been confused by Fox & Friends is this one (which I’ve been planning to write since September 2012). The fact of the matter is, Germany has had insane success in the solar industry arena. And there’s a lot that we can learn from the country (many other countries have already done so).

1. Feed-in tariffs (aka CLEAN Contracts in the US) can drive solar power growth like nothing else.

Well, maybe there are other things that could drive even stronger growth, but nothing else has done so to date. Germany leads the world in solar in many respects. As of the end of 2011, it had more solar power per capita than any other country, it has more solar power relative to electricity production than any country other than Italy (which has also used FiTs), and it has more solar power per GDP than any country other than the Czech Republic (which also followed Germany’s lead and implemented FiTs). Clearly, Germany and those who have followed with their own FiTs have seen more solar power growth than others. As John Farrell noted back in 2011 (still true today), FiTs have been used for the installation most solar (and wind) power in the world:

And, as noted in the first Fox News article listed at the top, Germany crushes the US (which has not implemented FiTs) in solar power capacity:

§ In 2011, Germany had over 80 times more peak solar power compared to electricity demand than the US.

§ Germany has over 57 times more solar power per capita than the “Sunshine State,” my home state of Florida.

§ Germany has over 21 times more solar power per capita than the US.

§ Germany has over 39 times more solar power relative to electricity production than the US.

§ Germany has about 24 times more solar power per GDP than the US.

2. A more mature solar power market sells solar power for a much lower price.

Solar panels are a global commodity. Their price is essentially the same all around the world. However, the “soft costs” of a solar power system can vary tremendously. As noted back in June 2012, German solar installations cost a little more than half what US solar installations cost. At that time, German systems were being installed for an average of $2.24 per watt, while US systems were being installed for an average of $4.44 per watt. Now, US systems are probably down to about $4.00 per watt, but German systems are down to about $2.00 per watt.

The good news is, people have studied this, and we have a pretty clear indication of where the costs differ.

As you can see in the charts above, big differences exist in installation labor, customer acquisition, overhead, and supply chain costs. As a market matures and becomes more competitive, those costs come down. (Note: notable solar energy champions in the US have also speculated that US solar tax credits have kept solar power systems artificially high in the US – the argument seems quite logical and comes from someone I greatly trust in this arena.)

3. More streamlined permitting works.

Because solar panels produce electricity, many jurisdictions across the US have all sorts of absurd permitting requirements that treat rooftop solar systems as if they are large-scale power plants or alien monsters that could destroy society. Permitting in the US is expensive (see the ILSR chart above) and takes forever and a day (or, more accurately, an average of two months). As one of our Australian writers noted recently, he was shocked to see the level of bureaucracy applied to simple solar power systems in the US.

Germany has rules about solar panel installations. They work really well. You can get a system installed almost immediately, and without paying for a bunch of paperwork. More or less, US jurisdictions regulating this matter should just look at what Germany’s got on the books and copy it.

4. Feed-in tariffs democratize the electric grid.

This is perhaps one of the most exciting lessons from Germany. As John Farrell noted in the title of one of the articles listed at the top of this page, “Germany has more solar power because everyone wins.” While US solar subsidies (tax credits) favor the rich and Wall Street, German solar subsidies favor the common man. Well, actually, they just favor everyone equally.

Guess what the result is. Yep, a lot more common people install solar in Germany than in the US. US solar power is primarily from large-scale solar power plants, while German solar power is primarily from rooftop solar power on residents’ homes. The “power company” in Germany is increasingly the citizenry.

5. Democratizing the grid gets residents informed and motivated about energy.

Guess what happens when you democratize the electric grid. People become more interested in energy, more informed, more motivated to save energy and get involved in the politics of energy. As someone once noted (sorry that I can’t recall the source), Germany may be the only country in the world where the taxi drivers can talk to you at length about energy policy. The same goes for energy use, the cost of energy, etc.

Democracy is built on information — on people having access to information, and people actually consuming and spreading that information. Democracies that do that less are weaker. Democracies that do that more are stronger. With energy being a critical component of life, as well as the richest industry in the world, having a citizenry that is highly informed about the intricacies of energy is a very valuable commodity.

If only there were a way to get people motivated about energy…. Oh yeah — solar policies that benefit the masses will do that!

6. The grid will not fall apart at 5% solar penetration… or 10%… or 15%… or 20%.

Early in Germany’s solar power days, critics of a solar revolution, and even many supporters, were convinced that solar penetration of the grid would be unmanageable, that solar would have to be limited to a certain percentage of the electricity supply. Initially, the idea was that 5% penetration was the max. As that approached and everyone could see that there wasn’t anything to worry about, the bar was raised to 10%, and then 15%, and then 20%.

Solar PV capacity in Germany is now equal to 50% of peak summer electricity demand:

In May 2012, solar power provided electricity for a record 30% of electricity demand:

Furthermore, studies continue to up the degree to which renewables can penetrate the grid without adding storage or creating problems. A German engineering study last year found that, “There isn’t much of a need for power storage in Germany even if it increases the share of its electricity that is generated by renewable sources by around 50%,” we reported in October. A comprehensive study released in December 2012 found that solar, wind, and storage could power the electricity grid 99.9% by 2030 cheaper than any other option.

Furthermore, decentralized solar power actually provides many benefits for the grid and society!

Of course, it decreases deadly pollution and cuts water use. However, beyond that, it also guards against fuel price volatility, decreases the risk of power outages, adds grid stability, increases grid security, and cuts the price of electricity. Let’s get into that last one in a bit more detail.

7. Solar power brings down the price of wholesale electricity.

This is a topic we’ve covered extensively before. But it’s not quick to explain, so bear with me.

Electricity suppliers get their electricity on the grid through a bidding process. The suppliers that can sell their electricity to the grid for cheapest win. Because the costs of solar and wind power plants are essentially just in the process of building them (the fuel costs are $0 and the maintenance costs are negligible), they can outbid pretty much every other source of power. As a result, 1) they win the bids when they produce electricity; 2) they drive down the price of wholesale electricity.

Because solar power is often produced when electricity demand is the greatest (and electricity is, thus, the least available and most expensive), it brings down the price of electricity even more than wind.

For more reading along these lines, see:

§ German Baseload Power Cheaper than French 12 Months Running

§ German Solar Bringing Down Price of Afternoon Electricity, Big Time! (More Charts & Facts)

§ Graph: German Wholesale Electricity Prices Down, Retail Prices Up

§ Solar PV Reducing Price of Electricity in Germany

§ Renewables Driving Electricity Prices below $0 Some Afternoons (& Cutting into Baseload Power Plants’ Market Share)

§ Negative European Power Prices Seen Sunday Through Thursday Due To Strong Wind Power Supply

§ Renewable Energy Big Pic: Part 2 (Including 19 Charts & Graphs)

§ Awesome Graphs — Today’s Solar & Wind Power Relevance in Germany

§ Lots of Solar Power May Reduce, Not Increase, Electricity Prices 

8. Even very grey places can generate a lot of solar power.

Despite what Fox solar experts might say, Germany has more grey days than you’d care to see. In fact, it has less in the way of solar resources than Alaska! And far less than most of the United States. But don’t take my word for it. Simply take a look at these solar resources maps from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory:

solar resources map NREL

9. Even once solar power capacity is equal to 50% of electricity demand, utility execs, fossil fuel execs, their buddies in government, and their buddies in the media won’t stop fighting it.

Fossil fuel companies lose revenue and profit when solar power increases. Utility companies are in a similar boat. These are some of the richest industries in the world. They aren’t going to relinquish their profit streams easily. They’re also among those spending the most money to buy friends in high government positions. And they certainly wouldn’t be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on that if it didn’t pay off. Us poor folk in the media are even easier to smooch, buy off, or simply confuse with easy-to-accept facts from those with the “facts.”

Germany may be in a better boat (democratically) than the US, but it still has rich people working to influence politicians and the media. It still has politicians working to change the laws to limit solar power’s growth. It still has reporters in major media getting the story horribly wrong, confusing millions of people along the way.

In other words, Big Coal, Fox, Senator Boehner and gang, and even reporters in outlets like the NYTimes and Washington Post won’t change their overall opinion about solar even as it grows and grows and grows, even as it becomes cheaper for homeowners in more and more places.

10. People love the sun — they love clean, solar energy — and they always will.

In poll after poll after poll, we can see that solar energy is the most popular type of energy amongst US citizens. Often, 90% or more of respondents are supportive of solar and policies to support solar. Naturally, at such a high percentage, this crosses political boundaries.

No matter how much fossil fuel fat cats, or their friends in politics and media, try to confuse the populace, most people will favor solar energy. Perhaps it’s linked to people’s natural love for the sun. Perhaps it’s linked to their understanding that solar power is better for our air, our water, and our climate. Perhaps it’s because they understand (maybe even just subconsciously) that solar power inclines itself toward more decentralized, democratic ownership. Perhaps it’s because they realize that energy from the sun is cheap, abundant, stable, and widespread. Perhaps it’s a combination of all those things.

And, no matter what anyone tells you, this support for solar doesn’t go away as solar power installations increase. Just take a tour through Germany and talk to people about it!

thomas edison clean energy

10 Huge Lessons We’ve Learned From Solar Power Success In Germany was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

More Fun With Numbers…

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 09:50 AM PST

Here’s some more fun with numbers from one of our readers that we thought was worth sharing. The topic is: “if we all drove EVs and got 100% of our EV electricity needs from wind.”

First, some key assumptions:

§ Average miles driven per US car in 2010 was 13,476.

§ EVs use roughly 0.3 kWh of electricity per mile.

§ That’s 4,043 kWh needed per year to drive 13,476 miles.

§ That works out to 11 kWh per day.

The DOE estimates that, in 2007, the number of US cars on the road was 254,400,000.

If all our cars were EVs, we would need to generate 2,798,400,000 kWh per day. Rounding up, let’s make that 2,798,500 MWh per day.

The average size of a wind turbine in the US has a power capacity of 3 MW. Using the average size, a wind turbine will produce 30.1 MWh per day (3 MW x 24 hours x 43% capacity).

To power 254.4 million EVs, we would need 92,973 3MW turbines.

At 0.25 acres per turbine, the total land required would be 23,243 acres.

For some perspective, the island of Manhattan contains 15,168 acres; Disney World covers 30,500 acres; and Washington, DC covers 43,712 acres.

Add in some losses for transmission and battery charging and the point is that we could get all the electricity needed to charge every car and light truck in the US with two Manhattans, one Disney World, or less than one Washington, DC.

More Fun With Numbers… was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Fun With Numbers…

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 09:47 AM PST

Here’s some number fun from one of our readers that we thought was worth sharing. The topic is: “how much land we would need for a massive wind program to power 40% of the US.

The footprint of a wind turbine is typically around 0.25 acres. This includes the tower foundation, roads, and support structures.

In 2010, the US used 4,143 TWh of electricity (or 11,300,000 MWh per day).

Since we’re just guessing what our future grid would look like, let’s assume we get 40% of our electricity from wind; 40% from solar; and 20% from hydro, geothermal, tidal, etc.

4,143 TWh / 365 = 4,520,000 MWh per day from wind.

The average wind turbine is around 3 MW and median capacity is now 43%.

3 x 24 hours x 0.43 = 30.1 MWh per day

4,520,000 / 30.1 = 150,166 3MW turbines.

150,166 x 0.25 = 36,040 acres required.

So, a massive wind power program would require 2.4 Manhattan Islands, 1.4 Disney Worlds, or 0.0015% of the US.

Fun With Numbers… was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

NBC News: Wind-Powered Car Travels 3,000 Miles Across Australia For $15 (Video)

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 09:18 AM PST

A lightweight car called the Wind Explorer recently traveled a whopping 3,000 miles across Australia with the assistance of wind power at a cost of only $15.

The electric vehicle was built by Evonik as a demonstration of its battery and lightweight materials technologies. The vehicle is currently on display at the company’s headquarters.

The vehicle was powered by three sources of energy: one was a portable wind turbine; the second was a kite which helped to pull the vehicle 10–15% of the time (when the wind blue in the right direction); and the third was the electricity grid (however, it only used $15 worth of electricity from the grid).

“They were able to supplement their lithium-ion battery power with kite power about 10 to 15 percent of the time,” Bill Bunting, a senior scientist with Evonik Industries in New Jersey, told NBC News.

The wind turbine weighs 70 pounds, the batteries 200 pounds, and the carbon fiber body also weighs 200 pounds.

Two average-sized people were driving the car and managing the kite, so that brings the total weight up to about 1,000 pounds.

Automakers are racing to decrease the weight of their vehicles so that they can meet new fuel efficiency standards that require an average of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2025. A general rule of thumb is a 1-MPG gain in fuel efficiency for every 100 pounds of weight lost.

This vehicle is a good demonstration of how great a role weight reduction can play in the effort to improve automobile fuel efficiency. Weight reduction can also improve safety by reducing braking distances.

Source: NBC News
Video Credit: WindExplorerChannel on Youtube

NBC News: Wind-Powered Car Travels 3,000 Miles Across Australia For $15 (Video) was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

7 Solar, Wind, Energy Efficiency, Geothermal, & EV Charts & Graphs From Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 08:41 AM PST

About a week ago, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released the Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook (a report commissioned by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy). At the press conference, Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the American Gas Association, and Ethan Zindler, Head of Policy Analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, presented on the strong growth of renewable energy, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and natural gas. They also presented on the falling costs of renewable energy and related matters.

I went ahead and got permission from BNEF to share images from the presentation because, as well all know, charts and graphs are often better for conveying a point than text. Here are what I considered the key charts and graphs (for more text about these, and for my perspective on some oddities of the press conference, check out: “Big Gas & Big Solar Are Big Friends, + More From Sustainable Energy In America 2013 Factbook Discussion“):

1. Solar PV prices have been falling fast globally (click the link for a larger chart):

2. Renewable energy growth has been strong (click the link for a larger chart):

3. LCOE has been changing quickly, but here’s the breakdown at the end of 2012 (click the link for a larger chart):

A few key notes regarding the above: this includes prices for old, existing power plants (which artificially brings down the cost of coal and nuclear); this doesn’t include subsidies, including the tremendously expensive externalities associated with coal and natural gas; as noted in the presentationsolar and wind prices are dropping so quickly that this will be quite out of date in 3–6 months.

4. Hybrid & EV sales represented 3% of US auto sales in 2012 (click the link for a larger chart):

5. US commercial building energy intensity has been dropping for years (click the link for a larger chart):

6. US utilities are spending more and more money on energy efficiency (click the link for a larger chart):

7. US energy-related CO2 emissions have dropped and primary energy consumption has dropped while GDP has risen (click the link for a larger chart):

One of our readers made the same observation in September 2012 and created these 3 charts at that time: 

For even more charts and graphs, check out:

§ BNEF’s entire slideshow

§ Renewable Energy Big Pic (53 Charts & Graphs)

Drop a note below or connect with me on your favorite social media site to chat.

7 Solar, Wind, Energy Efficiency, Geothermal, & EV Charts & Graphs From Bloomberg New Energy Finance was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

The Game Is Afoot: Coal Companies Investigated For Alleged Fraud

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 08:05 AM PST

Didn’t we just mention that the EU is burning more coal, not less? That’s partly because more American coal is streaming into the global market, as the U.S. utility industry has been pushing coal aside in favor of other domestic sources including natural gas as well as solar and wind power.

Well, therein lies a tale. According to our friends over at The Hill, the U.S. Department of the Interior has been connecting the dots, and the agency is preparing to investigate allegations that U.S. coal mining companies have been “skirting” royalty payments for their operations on public land by manipulating export sales.

DOI investigates coal royalty fraud

Coal Export Investigation

As reported by Zack Coleman of The Hill, the alarm was first raised by a series of articles by Reuters in December, which described how U.S. mining companies operating on public lands are lowballing the value of their coal and selling it to affiliated middlemen who then boost the export price. The result is lower royalty payment to the government aka you and me.

The articles caught the attention of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The result was a request for an investigation, in the form of a letter to Ken Salazar, the outgoing head of the Interior Department, from Wyden and ranking committee member Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL).

Undercutting the U.S. by Exporting Fossil Fuels

The money at stake is substantial, so even shaving a little off the top would result in millions in lost revenue. But the direct loss of revenue isn’t the only thing at stake.

By exporting or serving as an export link for fossil fuels, we in the U.S. are undermining our own efforts to manage global warming emissions, while putting our public health and natural resources at risk.

A significant amount of coal from Appalachia, for example, goes to overseas markets, while destructive mountaintop mining practices have buried miles of pristine streams in that region, and undermined both economic and public health in local communities.

Then there’s the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would convey tar sands oil from Canada down through the midwest to Gulf Coast refineries for the export market. In addition to adding a particularly “dirty” fossil fuel to the global energy mix, it  has also raised concerns over the risk of pipeline leaks or breaks.

Wyden has also previously raised the point that if the Obama Administration authorizes an increase in natural gas exports, prices in the U.S. would rise and undercut the domestic manufacturing sector. That’s on top of the environmental and public health issues raised by fracking, a natural gas drilling method that has been linked to water contamination among other local impacts.

Trouble Brewing in Wyoming

Specifically, the U.S. EPA has been investigating water contamination linked to fracking in Wyoming, and that brings us right back around to the coal royalty issue.

The coal in question is coming from coal fields in the Powder River Basin, which spans Wyoming and Montana. As The Hill notes in a previous article, there’s a push to build new export terminals for that coal in Washington State and Oregon, and that has raised serious concerns about the environmental and public health impacts of coal transportation.

 

That’s on top of the royalty issue, which could get pretty interesting. Last week, Salazar wrote back to Wyden and Murkowski to inform them that the Interior Department will undertake a full investigation of coal sales from the Powder River Basin, including a probe of the alleged affiliations between export purchasers and broker/marketers.

Salazar also promised to “aggressively pursue any company found in violation of the laws and regulations related to the valuation of Federal coal.”

We’ll keep you posted.

Image: Sherlock Holmes statue by shining.darkness

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The Game Is Afoot: Coal Companies Investigated For Alleged Fraud was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others andsubscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Renewable Energy In The EU: Solar PV Leads Gains In Output, Turnover, & Employment

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 06:34 AM PST

The European Union’s (EU) renewable energy sector continued to grow in 2011, according to the latest, revised data from EurObsev’ER. Renewable energy generated more in the way of green jobs and employment, as well as reductions in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, as installations grew considerably.

Based on more comprehensive, refined data than was used to produce previous reports, EurObserv’ER’s latest annual renewable energy barometer, “The State of Renewable Energies in Europe,” reports on the contribution renewable energy resources made to EU power generation, fuels production and consumption, employment, and turnover in 2011. It also offers readers highlights of renewable energy developments in seven EU regions.

Green Energy, Jobs, and Economic Growth in the EU

Key takeaways from EurObserv’ER’s latest report on renewable energy in the EU include:

• Renewable energy share of gross final energy consumption 2011: 13.4% vs. 12.5% in 2010
• Renewable energy share in total electricity consumption 2011: 20.6% vs. 20.0% in 2010
• Renewable energy based employment 2011: 1.19 million employed vs. 1.11 million in 2010
• Renewable energy based economic activity 2011: 137 billion euro vs. 132 billion euro in 2010

A “slight” increase in gross consumption of final energy from renewable energy sources in 2011 – to 151.5 million metric tons oil equivalent (Mtoe) vs. 148.5 Mtoe in 2010 – along with a slight decrease in total gross energy consumption (to 1,126.6 Mtoe from 1,184.6 Mtoe in 2010 – accounts for the year-to-year increase, EurObserv’ER elaborated.

The value of renewable energy economic activity across the 27 EU member states for 2011 totaled more than €137 billion, a year-to-year increase of 3%. Revenue from sales in the solar photovoltaic (PV) market segment led the way, totaling €45,924 million, followed by that in the wind power and solid biomass segments of the renewable energy market.

Turning to the latest data on employment across the 27 EU member states, EurObserv’ER found more than 1,186,000 were employed in the renewable energy sector, 3% more than 2010?s 1,148,600.

More Europeans had jobs in the EU’s solar photovoltaic (PV) market segment (311,000) than any other, according to EUObserv’ER data. Employment in the solid biomass and wind power market segments followed, with employment totaling 274,150 and 270,250, respectively.

An “exceptionally mild winter,” which restrained energy consumption for heating, and a slow-down in economic activity contributed to renewable energy’s rising share of EU energy production and use. Gross final renewable energy consumption rose by 2% (3.0 Mtoe) while total final gross energy consumption fell 4.9% (58.0 Mtoe).

EurObserv’ER’s latest calculations aren’t affected by “the important decrease of the European hydroelectricity production in 2011, since the calculations presented here are based on normalized hydroelectricity production and not on effective production,” the report authors noted. Rather, the relatively small increase in overall renewable energy production was linked to “lower consumption of wood fuel and to a relatively small increase of biofuels consumption,” they added.

Adding to EurObserv’ER’s data on renewable energy in the EU, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) recently reported that more than one offshore wind turbine was installed across the 27-member region in 2012, bringing total rated offshore wind power generation capacity to 1,165 megawatts (MW), a 33% year-to-year increase.

The following provides direct links to EurObserv’ER’s 2012 and 2011 reports on individual renewable energy across the EU region:

§ Solid Biomass Barometer (December 2012, PDF, English/French language, 16 pages, 2.1 MB)

§ Biogas Barometer (December 2012, PDF, English/French language, 14 pages, 2.0 MB)

§ Renewable Municipal Waste Barometer (December 2012, PDF, English/French language, 12 pages, 1.9 MB)

§ Biofuels Barometer (July 2012, PDF, English/French language, 21 pages, 3.6 MB)

§ Solar Thermal Barometer (June 2012, PDF, 24 pages, English/French language, 3.7 MB)

§ Solar Photovoltaic Barometer (April 2012, PDF, 24 pages, English/French language, 4.3 MB)

§ Wind Power Barometer (February 2012, PDF, English/French, 28 pages, 4.6 MB)

§ Ground Source Heat Pump Barometer (September 2011, PDF, English/French language, 20 pages, 2.6 MB)

Renewable Energy In The EU: Solar PV Leads Gains In Output, Turnover, & Employment was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

DOE, US Treasury Announce New, $150M Round Of Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 06:02 AM PST

Aiming to assure the competitiveness of US businesses in the fast-growing clean energy and clean technology markets, the US Departments of Energy (DOE) and US Treasury on February 7 announced availability of $150 million in Section 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits. Zooming in on boosting clean energy manufacturing, enhancing national energy security, and creating new jobs and business opportunities, the new incentives will also strengthen “America’s global competitiveness,” according to a DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office press release.

“Since 2009, the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program has supported innovative American manufacturers that boost our nation’s competitiveness in the global race for clean energy,” departing Energy Secretary Steven Chu was quoted as saying. “These new investments will continue that momentum, supporting the President’s commitment to American-made energy, increasing energy security, and creating jobs.”

Created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the IRS Section 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit supports investment in domestic clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing facilities by competitively awarding investment tax credits of 30%.

Some $2.3 billion of these tax credits were awarded for 183 projects nationwide during the program’s initial round. Available from February 7, this second round of $150 million in tax credits wasn’t taken up in the initial round.

The amount of domestic energy produced from renewable sources – solar, wind, geothermal energy, and others – has more than doubled in the past four years as the Obama Administration follows through on the President’s “all of the above” energy strategy.

Federal government incentives aimed at specific clean energy and energy efficiency market sectors, such as the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, have contributed significantly to boosting American manufacturing, “with 500,000 manufacturing jobs added since the beginning of 2010,” the DOE and Treasury note in the press release. “These tax credits will help continue this growth, while enhancing the country’s energy security and boosting local economic development.”

“As the economy continues to heal, the President has been clear that we have to do everything we can to boost growth and job creation today and build a more sustainable foundation for tomorrow,” Acting Secretary of the Treasury Neal S. Wolin added. “Manufacturing the clean energy products of the future in America will create good, middle-class jobs right now and help lay the groundwork for the long-term resilience of our economy.”

The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits cover a wide range of clean energy and energy efficiency projects. Included among them are renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, wind and geothermal turbines, electric grids and storage for renewable energy, fuel cells, microturbines, energy storage systems for electric or hybrid electric vehicles, and equipment for energy conservation, including lighting and smart grid technologies, according to the DOE’s Section 48C fact sheet.

Awarded on a competitive basis, the DOE will evaluate Section 48C project proposals based on commercial viability, domestic job creation, technological innovation, speed-to-project completion, and potential for reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Other factors, such as diversity of geography, technology, project size, and regional economic development will also be factored into the DOE’s evaluation.

The DOE’s complete solicitation for Section 48C clean energy manufacturing and energy efficiency project proposals – Notice 2013-12 – is available online.

DOE, US Treasury Announce New, $150M Round Of Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

Germany Has More Solar Power Because Everyone Wins

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 05:35 AM PST

Suddenly everyone knows about Germany’s solar power dominance because Fox Newsheads made an ass of themselves, suggesting that the country is a sunny, tropical paradise. Most media folks have figured out that there are some monster differences in policy (e.g. a feed-in tariff), but then latch on to the “Germans pay a lot extra” meme. Germans do, and areperfectly happy with it, but that’s still not the story.

The real reason Germany dominates in solar (and wind) is their commitment to democratizing energy.

Half of their renewable power is owned by ordinary Germans, because that wonky-sounding feed-in tariff (often known as a CLEAN Contract Program in America) makes it ridiculously simple and safe for someone to park their money in solar panels on their roof instead of making pennies in interest at the bank.

–>Update: You may also like “10 Huge Lessons We’ve Learned From Germany’s Solar Power Success.”

It also makes their “energy change” movement politically bulletproof. Germans aren’t tree-hugging wackos giving up double mochas for wind turbines — they are investing by the tens of thousand in a clean energy future that is putting money back in their pockets and creating well over 300,000 new jobs (at last count).  Their policy makes solar cost half as much to install as it does in America, where the free market’s red tape can’t compete with their “socialist” efficiency.

Fox News’ gaffe about sunshine helps others paper over the real tragedy of American energy policy. In a country founded on the concept of self-reliance (goodbye, tea imports!), we finance clean energy with tax credits that make wind and solar reliant on Wall Street instead of Main Street. We largely preclude participation by the ordinary citizen unless they give up ownership of their renewable energy system to a leasing company. We make clean energy a complicated alternative to business as usual, while the cloudy, windless Germans make the energy system of the future by making it stupid easy and financially rewarding.

I’m all for pounding the faithless fools of Fox, but let’s learn the real secret to German energy engineering and start making democratic energy in America.

Germany Has More Solar Power Because Everyone Wins was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others and subscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

1.2GW Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm Continues Moving Forward

Posted: 09 Feb 2013 05:30 AM PST

The massive 1.2GW Triton Knoll offshore wind farm being developed by RWE continues to move forward. The wind farm, to be built off the coast of Lincolnshire,  England (in the North Sea), is currently in the process of choosing where its grid connections will be, via public consultation.

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RWE has narrowed it down to three possible locations for an “intermediate electrical compound in the East Lindsey area, and four options for building an onshore electricity substation in the area to the south west of Boston.”

The public consultation will begin on February 19th.

The Planning Inspectorate finished its examination of the proposed project just last week, and a final decision on whether the project can move forward will probably be given by the Secretary of State within the next three months.

If approved, the Triton Knoll project will be huge. With a maximum capacity of up to 1.2 GW, if it were completed today, it would be the largest offshore wind farm and the second-largest onshore wind farm in the world.

The wind farm expected to result in 500 new jobs during construction. The total investment for the project is expected be somewhere around £3.6 billion.

RWE has already been forced back to the drawing board once, in 2011, “after three proposed development sites prompted concerns from some local councillors and residents about the potential impact on the Lincolnshire Wolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).”

“Our consultation will allow us to gather local knowledge and help communities to influence the proposals and have their say,” Jacob Hein, the Project Manager for Triton Knoll said.

Source: Business Green
Image Credit: Wind Power Offshore via Wikimedia Commons

1.2GW Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm Continues Moving Forward was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 others andsubscribe to our free RSS feedfollow us on Facebook or Twitter, or just visit our homepage.

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