Saturday, December 29, 2012

New policies to PV industry focus on the market mechanism

China enacted policies to promote the development of the photovoltaic (PV) industry, which recently, calls for reigning in and organizing production.

Five policies were confirmed in the meeting, deciding to focus on market mechanisms. The first policy is to use market mechanisms to accelerate the improvement of industry structure and technology.

The second policy is to regulate the order of industry development, to coordinate the PV industry and power network design.

The third policy is to speed the development of the domestic PV market.

The fourth policy is a provision to support industry development. For example, to provide subsidies for PV power consumption.

The fifth policy is to strengthen the influence of market mechanisms and forbidding protectionism in local governments.

Han Qiming, an analyst with the PV industry, says that in the detailed policies, the state initiated differentiation in price-setting for different places, and the policy, may result in higher grid prices since the demand, thermal electricity prices and fiscal revenues are all higher than those in the West. While the West has more abundant thermal power and fewer power demands, the demand for PV electricity may be much lower.

According to the state's suggestion, the polisilicon, cell and module projects will be restricted. Equipment firms may focus more on the downstream section, for example, the construction of power stations. This may be good news for some major companies, for example YingliGreen Energy Co., JinkoSolar Holding Co., JA Solar Co., and HareonSolar Co., as they have entered into this phase.

The industry is paying close attention to the subsidies for distributed solar system and for renewable energy. And the profits for downstream power station construction are also promising, said Han. He added that installed capacity in Twelfth Five-Year plan may reach 30 GW, much higher than the previous planned goal 21 GW.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

ODU engineers helping to design future of solar power

A solar tracking system is installed on the roof of Kaufman Hall, Old Dominion University's engineering building, on Dec. 20, 2012. Energy-producing solar panels will be bolted onto the frame, and the motorized system will tilt the panels to track the sun for maximum efficiency.

In a lab at Old Dominion University, students and professors are helping design the future of electric power.

As the world burns the fossil fuels that produce most of today's electricity, there is a growing movement toward renewable energy sources such as the sun - clean, widely accessible and inexhaustible.

The week before Christmas, Marsillac, an associate professor of engineering at ODU, watched with barely contained excitement as a crane picked up a large stainless steel assembly and placed it gingerly onto the roof of Kaufman Hall, ODU's engineering building.

It's a solar tracking system. Over the next few weeks, 24 energy-producing photovoltaic solar panels will be bolted onto the frame. The motorized system is capable of tilting the panels to any angle, allowing them to follow the sun over the course of the day for maximum efficiency.

The solar array will include three types of panels. Inside the building, Marsillac's research team will test each type to determine which produces the most electricity.

In addition, the researchers are testing new materials to develop the next generation of cheaper, more efficient panels.

It's all made possible by more than $2 million in federal grants from the Department of Energy and the Defense Department.

Dominion Virginia Power, the state's largest electric utility, has kicked in $50,000.

Down the road, ODU hopes to be one of as many as 50 sites around the state in a pilot solar-generation program planned by Dominion. Given the OK by state regulators in November, Dominion plans to erect solar arrays capable of generating 30 megawatts of electricity - enough to power 6,000 homes.

Marsillac said he's convinced that as the solar industry grows, it will become economically competitive with traditional sources of electricity.

"The price goes down as you scale up," he said. "The price of panels has gone down by a factor of three in the past 10 years. That's huge.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wind power industry in West pushes to extend expiring federal tax credit

As Congress struggles to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff” of tax-and-budget policy, there’s one expiring tax law that isn’t getting much press: The federal tax credit that subsidizes wind power production.

Wind power advocates and leading politicians in the West say this credit, which expires in a week, should be extended to preserve thousands of jobs and a growing, clean-energy industry.

But others say it’s time to let this subsidy die, for it’s skewing electricity markets, hurting other power producers, and not delivering on its promise of jobs.

“They go build a wind farm, they’re there for three to six months,” says Bob Winger, a union boilermaker from Billings and vocal critic of wind power subsidies. “Coal mines and coal-fired power plants are jobs day-in, day-out. … Who are all of these people (in wind) that they say are employed?”

According to figures compiled by the state and the wind power industry, wind projects in Montana have created about 1,300 construction jobs the past seven years — but only 86 permanent jobs.

Montana coal mines, whose product is burned to produce power, employ about 1,100 people, and coal-fired power plants here employ at least another 400.

The wind power production tax credit pays project owners $22 for every megawatt hour (mwh) of electricity they produce.

In the Pacific Northwest right now, spot-market prices for electricity are averaging $25 per mwh. So, while sellers of other types of power get $25 per mwh, a wind-power plant will get $47 per mwh, with the subsidy.

On rare occasions this year, during “off-peak” hours of low consumption, wholesale electricity prices have actually fallen below zero on the spot market, with wind-power producers paying suppliers to buy their power so projects can continue to collect the subsidy.

They might pay the “buyer” $5 per mwh to accept the power, but they still make $17 per mwh because of the subsidy.

Wind power advocates say this “negative pricing” is a rarity, and that the subsidy is justified because it levels the playing field for wind, in the face of long-standing tax breaks and favorable public policy for the production of oil, gas and coal.

“Everybody gets energy subsidies,” says Van Jamison, a vice president of Gaelectric, an Irish firm developing wind farms in central Montana. “We have a long history of government choosing winners and losers over a long period of time.”

Jamison and others note that hydraulic fracturing techniques and horizontal drilling that have led to a boom in oil and natural gas production are beneficiaries of generous tax breaks.

Wind industry officials say the $22-per-mwh production-tax credit is vital for the industry, and without it, scores of projects will founder and thousands of jobs will be lost.

Winger doesn’t doubt the wind industry needs the tax credit to flourish. He just questions whether it’s worth it, and says the money is not going into the pockets of very many workers, because wind plants produce few long-term, steady jobs.

The wind power industry says it has invested nearly $1.4 billion in Montana the past decade. It acknowledges that much of that money buys wind turbine and tower components, some of which are manufactured overseas.

In addition to spending on turbines and labor, wind projects also make land-lease payments to landowners and pay property taxes. Together, those total about $7 million a year in Montana, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Coal mines in Montana paid about $60 million in severance taxes, gross proceeds taxes and property taxes last year, and another $90 million in royalties to government and private parties. Coal-fired power plants also paid millions of dollars in property taxes.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Way clear for surge in wind power Save

THE battle over large-scale wind farms might switch from the national level to the states, particularly NSW, after a federal authority recommended leaving the overall industry target unchanged.

The Climate Change Authority on Wednesday called for the mandatory renewable energy target to be left at 41,000 gigawatt-hours a year by 2020, prompting advocates to predict a surge in clean energy investments.

Victoria earlier this year prompted the wind industry to all but stall in that state after it barred wind turbines from being built within two kilometres of a house without written consent.

Now that the authority had given approval for these settings, as much as $18 billion of investment in the industry was up for grabs between now and the end of the decade, the Clean Energy Council predicted.

"Victoria has tightened up very greatly the opportunities for wind farm development," the Infigen Energy managing director, Miles George, said.

To meet the renewable energy target, the industry would need to build 1000 megawatts of wind capacity each year until 2020, or about half of the present installed capacity.

Data from energy services provider ROAM Consulting suggested the combination of proximity to markets and promising wind resources could see NSW's wind generating capacity soar 15-fold by 2020, leap-frogging South Australia and Victoria to be easily the biggest supplier.

The O'Farrell government was due to finalise guidelines on wind farms early next year, which might determine how much of the investment headed to NSW.

It was understood the government had been considering rule changes with the results of independent noise audits on two Infigen wind farms - Woodlawn and Capital - and one owned by Origin Energy that gave the suppliers a tick of approval.

"To have the audits done and have them confirm that we comply was obviously pleasing … and completely as expected," Mr George said.

While the wind energy industry celebrated the authority's recommendations, the solar sector was disappointed.

The authority called for the size of solar photovoltaic panels deemed to be "small-scale" cut from 100 kilowatt capacity to as low as 10 kilowatts to prevent a blowout in costs for the scheme.

Small-scale generators were paid their renewable certificates up-front while large-scale generators were paid over five years.

Solar panel installer Mark Group chief executive, Rob Grant, said the industry would lobby to have the government reject the change, which hammered the cash-flow benefit for the owners of small buildings and other potential installers.
See your ad here

''This effectively strikes out more than 90 per cent of the available commercial market,'' Mr Grant said. "The sweet spot for commercial installations is 50-70 kilowatts."

Mark Group had planned to triple its staff of 150 in 2013, based on the potential demand spurt from commercial users. "If this [revision] happens, there's very little chance we'll expand."

The shift was the result of fierce lobbying by fossil-fuel generators and the coal industry, he said.

''They know [the commercial sector] is the next significant growth area for solar,'' he said. ''It's also some of their most prized customers because they use large amounts of power.''

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wind Farm Impact on Jurassic Coast to be Examined, Firm Pledges

The developer behind a planned offshore wind farm on the south coast of England says it will look to see how it can "mitigate" the concerns of campaigners.
Questions have been raised about the impact on the view and cultural significance of its location.
It will be off a stretch of coastline known as the Jurassic Coast.
Navitus Bay Development has revised its plans - the farm will be smaller and further out - but local MP Richard Drax said they were still not sufficient.
The coastline is one of just eight in the world to be awarded World Heritage Site (WHS) status by Unesco, and concerns have been raised over whether the title would be revoked if the wind farm goes ahead.
The site currently attracts 16m tourists a year to the area, according to its official website.
The 95 mile (152km) long Jurassic Coast gets its name because some 175 million years of geology are visible in its rocks.
218 turbines
In an interview with the BBC, Navitus Bay Development director Mike Unsworth said "regular discussions" had taken place with the local WHS steering group about maintaining the coastline's status.
"The feedback we've had is that the designation is for its natural geology," he said.
"They've said it's unlikely that [the WHS] designation will be impacted by the development. But what they have also said is the setting of the WHS - in terms of how you view it or what you view from - is a concern to them. We continue to look at how we can mitigate that."
Following various criticisms, the developers now propose that the wind farm, known as Navitus Bay, should only have 218 turbines no more than 200m (600ft) high.
The firm's original plans were for 335 turbines up to 210m high.
Mr Unsworth said the site would now also be 3km (1.8 miles) further away from Bournemouth than previously planned, in order to minimise its visual impact.
The new proposals will be put back out to public consultation in 2013.
'Too close'
Mr Drax, Conservative MP for south Dorset, said there were still problems with the revised plans.
"The key problem, I think... is the fact it's so close to the coastline," he said.
"The recommendation from the EU is about 23km (14 miles). This will now be about 14km (9 miles) - it's just too close. Despite the fact there will be less of them we are still going to see these vast structures off one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world."
But Mr Unsworth said: "What I said to Richard [Drax] was, come to the next round of consultations, have a look at the new photo montages, take a view at that point and then provide us with fresh feedback."
Meanwhile, the Corporation of Trinity House, which looks after sea farers, had advised that the farm could affect a popular navigational channel.
The navigational channel is by a lighthouse called Hurst Point which is used by local boats and fishermen, said Trinity House.
In response, Mr Unsworth said: "We have moved the northern boundary further south which provided greater navigational safety for recreational sea users."
The Navitus Bay project is a partnership between energy firms Eneco Wind (UK) and EDF.
The construction of the wind farm could create 1,000 jobs and bring £100m to the local economy, the developers claim.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nuclear Power on Top of European Energy Agenda

“It is difficult to envisage Europe phasing out nuclear power from its energy mix, despite the antagonistic stance of countries like Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Belgium where there are likely to be embargoes on further nuclear power development,” noted Frost & Sullivan Energy & Power Supplies Research Analyst, Neha Vikash. “Nuclear power will play an active role in Europe’s energy generation and in meeting the region’s environmental goals.”

The number of nuclear new build projects, despite Fukushima, is still higher now than across the last two decades – although Asia is leading in numbers, the US has approved its first new build since 1970. France, Finland, the United Kingdom and Sweden have all reaffirmed their commitment to nuclear power. In Central and Eastern Europe, Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic are also planning to push ahead with new units, following increased safety assessments.

“While there will be shutdowns, member states like the United Kingdom and Finland will push through better safety standards and support new nuclear build over the next four to five years,” remarked Vikash. “Apart from new builds, these states will also concentrate on increasing the share of electricity generation from renewables and decreasing their dependence on fossil fuels.”

Nuclear energy will remain a prime candidate as Europe mulls its decarbonising options. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) could potentially reduce the dependence on coal and gas. However, this technology is still at a nascent stage with few demonstration projects having been implemented.

Renewables represent the best foreseeable option, but are cost-intensive. Moreover, it is not possible for renewables to compensate for the large-scale energy production currently supported by nuclear sources, until the next decade.

“Dependence on foreign imports, especially gas from Russia, is politically fraught,” concluded Vikash. “Therefore, nuclear energy will be among the few alternatives Europe is left with to meet its energy needs while staying on course to meet its climate change goals.”

If you are interested in receiving a complimentary brochure of this study, please send an e-mail with your contact details to Chiara Carella, Corporate Communications, at

European Nuclear Power Sector is part of the Energy & Power Growth Partnership Service programme, which also includes research in the following markets: European Wind Energy Markets, Global Prospects for Coal-Fired Power Generation and European Solar Power Markets. All research included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Test turbine at UMaine could be a glimpse

Test turbine at UMaine could be a glimpse into Maine’s offshore wind energy future

The man at the helm of Maine’s push to put 170 floating wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine by 2030 likens that effort to NASA’s space program.

Using that analogy, the wind turbine standing behind the University of Maine’s Offshore Wind Laboratory at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center’s could be compared to Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite launched into space.

That turbine, a one-eighth scale version of the turbines that would be used in the future offshore wind farm, will be floating in the Gulf of Maine next year, likely between April and August.

“We’re here at the beginning of an exciting era that could create a whole new industry in our state,” center Director Habib Dagher said Friday, standing under a 112-foot turbine blade that has been undergoing stress testing at the Offshore Wind Lab in recent months.

The turbine going into the water off Monhegan Island next year will be used to test control systems and sensors that would be used on the full-scale version.

“It basically will be able to sense the environment around it,” Dagher said.

Based on wind speed and direction, the turbine automatically turns and adjusts the angle of its blades to attain the most efficient use of the wind or avoid its full force if it grows too strong. The full-scale versions would be able to do the same thing.

A floating base for the turbine is in the works. Next year, the turbine parts will be taken to Cianbro in Brewer, where the pieces will be assembled and the floating turbine will be towed upright down the Penobscot River to its test site in the Gulf of Maine. Once in place, it will be hooked up to the power grid with an undersea cable, becoming the first grid-connected offshore turbine in the country.

The turbine design is called VolturnUS, a combination of the words volt, turn and U.S., a name that happens to be shared by Volturnus, the Roman god of the east wind.

After testing with the prototype is completed, a pair of 6-megawatt turbines will be installed by 2017 at a site called Aqua Ventus I. By 2020, that would grow to a larger-scale commercial wind farm with 80 turbines in a 4- by 8-mile space 20 miles offshore, over the horizon and neither visible nor audible from shore. By 2030, the goal is to have a full-scale wind farm of around 170 turbines operational and bringing 5 gigawatts of wind energy to Maine’s shore.

“It’s a crawl before you walk, walk before you run approach,” Dagher said.

Some offshore wind energy efforts in Europe, which has been involved in offshore wind since 1991, have struggled, resulting in lofty price tags and high energy costs. Turbines at other offshore wind farms need to have their bases driven into the seafloor, an expensive process. If a turbine needs work, it can be towed back to shore, where repairs will be less costly.

The more cost-effective floating wind farm approach should help keep electricity prices down to about 10 cents per kilowatt hour by 2020, which is competitive with other means of electricity production, Dagher said. Prior to that, the energy will be expensive by comparison.

To put the size of the turbine in perspective: The world’s largest commercial airliner, the Airbus A380 with its 260-foot wingspan, could rest on one blade of the turbine. The diameter of the blades’ rotation will be 500 feet and the distance from water level to the hub at the top of the tower will be about 300, Dagher said.

The Gulf of Maine has some of the strongest, most persistent winds on the East Coast. Every second, 600,000 pounds of wind will travel through the turbine — the equivalent of 264 Toyota Camrys driving through per second — according to Dagher.

Monday, December 3, 2012

C'tee moves renewable energy from wind to solar

Not only will this decision facilitate the state's achievements of its renewable energy production targets for 2015 and 2020, it will also provide room for development of solar facilities in Judea and Samaria, according to Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau.

The decision to shift the 300 megawatts was one portion of a proposal issued by Landau in early November regarding the country’s 2015 renewable energy targets. Originally planning to hold the meeting on November 13, the ministers postponed the session due to a request from the Finance Ministry, which went on to file an appeal on the committee’s decision on Sunday.

“The resolution approved today is an important step for the supporters of renewable energy in the state,” Landau said. “The drastic decline in solar tariffs will enable Israeli citizens to enjoy cleaner and cheaper electricity and come closer to meeting the 10 percent production target for electricity from renewable energy by 2020.”

In addition to approving the 300- megawatt move, the committee also authorized Landau’s proposal to promote the installation of solar facilities in West Bank settlements, according to the Energy and Water Ministry.

“This is a reasonable and balanced decision that will advance the adherence to government targets for the years 2015 and 2020, and will do justice for the entrepreneurs in Judea and Samaria who suffer from a continuing injustice and damage to a basic human right,” Landau said.

According to the ministry’s estimates, the country is now set to meet 92% of its original renewable energy targets for 2015, which the government formulated in a 2009 decision.

By adding more solar to the energy mix, the ministry expressed hopes that Israel will have a realistic chance of achieving the 10% renewable goal for the year 2020.

The committee on Sunday also authorized a number of other measures, such as a the advancement of Israel’s biogas facilities and the transfer of Environmental Protection Ministry funds for that purpose. The committee likewise approved plans to push the Defense Ministry to approve more wind energy turbines, as the office’s refusal to do so has thus far impeded much of the industry’s development. A third issue agreed upon at the meeting was the need to establish power facilities that can enable people to monitor power in the homes, through a “net meter,” by the year 2013, according to the Energy and Water Ministry.

“This is a historic decision that will change the face of the modern energy sector in Israel and will replace polluting electricity production with green energy,” Eitan Parnass, head of the Renewable Energy Association of Israel said.

In response, the Finance Ministry said that the transfer of 300 megawatts from wind to solar would cost the economy an additional NIS 130 million. Because the resolution was approved by the committee, Steinitz intends to appeal the decision, in order prevent an increase in electricity rates to the consumer, according to the ministry.

While praising the decisions of the committee, Parnass slammed Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for continually attempting to “block the [renewable] industry” in Israel in favor of natural gas production. He called for an official parliamentary inquiry into the subject during the beginning of the next Knesset.

Not everyone in the renewable energy field is happy with Landau’s move to shuffle the wind and solar energy quotas. In particular, wind energy professionals have expressed deep dissatisfaction in the decision, accusing the government of burying the wind industry in favor of the sun.

The 300 megawatts eliminated constitute more than a third of the quota currently allocated to wind energy development, and many entrepreneurs have signed binding financial agreements in the field, wrote Gadi Hareli, CEO of the Israeli Wind Energy Association, in a letter to the committee prior to the decision.