Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Wind Power For Michigan

Andrew Green Reporting:

This week, John Deere announced three new wind energy developments in Michigan. The company says that one of them will be in Lenawee County, and the other two in the Thumb region over by Lake Huron. MSU Extension's Doctor Lynn Hamilton tells us that she thinks Michigan has been doing a decent job of setting itself up for wind -- and other green -- energy projects, even if it did leave the gate a little later than some other states.

The Thumb has more turbines than any other part of the state, and Doctor Hamilton say that's partly just because plenty of wind is generated by the nearby lake. However, she also says that West Michigan hasn't heard much talk of such projects simply because developers don't think residents here would want 400-foot turbines dominating the attractive Lake Michigan shoreline:

Russ Lundberg, with the Huron County Building and Zoning office, tells us that another reason why the Thumb gets most of the wind farms is the size of land parcels there. He says that, out that way, you'll see larger plots of land owned by farmers, so it's easier for wind companies to negotiate leases. Rather than leasing land from several owners for their turbines, they only have to deal with a few. He also says that his county continues to hear of new wind energy developers who want to build in the area, and describes the county's relationship with them as cooperative, despite the concerns of some residents about noise issues.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Township adds wind energy turbines to zoning code

By Jeff Gorman
Akron Ohio News

The Richfield Township Board of Trustees voted June 17 to add a section to the zoning code for wind energy systems.

This will set up the framework for township residents to create their energy through wind turbines, but don’t expect windmills to start popping up all over the township.

“For the average homeowner, it’s not conducive to build one,” said Andrew Laudato, president of Wind Tech Solutions, a company that works with individuals and companies to install wind energy systems.

Laudato attended a public hearing before the trustees voted on the zoning addition.

Still, Richfield Township Zoning Inspector Laurie Pinney said it was a good idea to enact the wind energy regulations.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” she said. “We’ve had a number of inquiries. The reason we started talking about this is because the state government took away our control over wind turbines that generate over 5 megawatts (5 million watts).

A 5-megawatt turbine is quite large, considering the one at the Great Lakes Science Center only creates 225 kilowatts, according to the center’s website. Other Northern Ohio wind turbines include one at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea (60 feet tall) and one at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center in Peninsula (40 feet tall).

Laudato said an ideal wind turbine regularly sees winds of at least 13 mph and is 80 feet tall.

“The higher, the better,” he said. “Under those circumstances, you can get a return on your investment in less than four years.”

Laudato said federal and state grants are available through 2016 for the construction of wind energy turbines. He said those grants can sometimes cover up to 95 of the tower’s costs.

“I think the pros outweigh the negatives,” said Trustee David Wyatt. “There is the possibility of interference with TV and radar signals.”

Laudato said the federal government has a goal of using wind energy as part of its plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent by 2025.

Pinney said in the future, a wind turbine could be used to power a subdivision of six to eight homes.

“Sometimes people see in the paper that the state legislature passed a tax exemption for wind energy systems, but those are for over 5 megawatts, so it’s easy to misinterpret,” she said.

After the trustees approved the zoning amendments, Trustee Chairwoman Laurie Peters Gilmore thanked Pinney and the Zoning Commission for their work.

Also during the meeting:
• The trustees approved a modified version of the one-year contract for police services with Richfield Village. The cost is $499,653.

Richfield Village Council approved the contract two days earlier. The trustees and attorney John Slagter made some changes, including new language to specify what would happen if there were no new deal after this contract expires. Village Council would have to ratify the changes before the new contract could go into effect.

The trustees also voted 2-1 to pay the village for police services for the first half of 2010. Gilmore, who voted “no,” said she did not want to make the payment in the absence of a finalized contract.

• The trustees also voted to spend $200 to send Pinney to Columbus for training on new accounting and payroll software.

• Wyatt said the organizers of the Sweet Corn Ride, which will take place July 25, will be able to use Rising Valley Park.

“We will have water and the gate will be open,” he said. “The park is in outstanding condition and it’s waiting for more users.”

• Township Administrator Linda Bowmer said the resurfacing of Whitethorn Circle is finished, with landscaping next on the schedule for completion.

• After an executive session with Slagter, the trustees voted to authorize him to take legal action against a resident who is allegedly violating the zoning code by running a business out of his home.

The next Richfield trustees’ meeting is scheduled for July 1 at 1:30 p.m. at the township offices, located behind the fire station on West Streetsboro Road.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

99MW wind farm dedicated in South Dakota

South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds joined local community leaders and energy industry organizations to dedicate a new 66-turbine wind farm near Groton yesterday.

The Day County Wind Energy Center has been developed by NextEra Energy Resources, the largest renewable energy producer in North America.

Built in five months and operational since April, the 99-megawatt facility is generating power for the Western Area Power Administration for the next three years, after which power will be provided to the Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

The windfarm is expected to produce enough power to supply 25,000 homes with renewable electricity.

Commenting on the “impressive” project, Governor Rounds said: “South Dakota has an abundance of wind, and we hope it will continue to be harnessed far and wide in the future to make clean energy, boost local economies, provide good jobs, and add to the already excellent quality of life enjoyed by South Dakota citizens.”

Wind-energy developers win break

Wind developers won a victory Tuesday when the operators of the Midwest's largest regional electrical grid abandoned a proposal to make them pay up to 20 percent of the cost of new high-voltage transmission projects to deliver renewable energy.

The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator on Tuesday unveiled to a large group of utilities, developers, energy generators and transmission line owners its latest proposal to share the costs of expensive high-voltage lines that renewable energy advocates hope will be built to deliver wind-generated energy from the windy Plains to the eastern United States.

An initial proposal called on energy generators in the system's 13-state territory and Manitoba to shoulder up to 20 percent of the cost of such projects, with 80 percent paid by all utilities buying the power in the territory. The territory stretches from Ohio to the Dakotas and includes Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

The 20 percent share would have been carried by all energy generators in the transmission system, whether they used wind, coal or natural gas to produce their power.

But wind developers complained the share would have made their projects uneconomical compared with projects outside of the Midwest system. Wind farm developers said they would give up working in states like Minnesota, the Dakotas and Iowa and move projects to states like Kansas with more favorable cost-sharing plans.

After hearing complaints from the generators, system officials hinted last week that they might steeply reduce the generators' share.

They did just that, cutting the generators' cost share to zero by spreading out the cost across all the utilities that pull power off the grid.

The earlier proposal was a way to target the charges for large transmission projects that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to generators that benefit from the system, said Jennifer Curran, executive director of transmission infrastructure strategy for the transmission system operator.

But the 20 percent charge would have put the system at a pricing disadvantage to neighboring grids that don't impose such a charge on their generators, according to Curran. That kind of inequity at the borders where power moves back and forth outweighed the benefit of charging the generators, she said.

The proposal announced Tuesday better aligns the Midwest system with other regional grids, agreed Beth Soholt, executive director of St. Paul-based Wind on the Wires, a regional wind industry association for Minnesota.

Wind developers still will have to pay 90 percent of the cost for smaller transmission lines needed to connect to the major lines, which has been true for years, she said.

Now the wind industry wants to see what specific projects qualify for the new cost-sharing arrangement. In particular, the industry is anxious to see if a $700 million to $725 million line proposed from Brookings, S.D., to Hampton — called the Brooking Line — qualifies.  That process may take up to a year.

In the meantime, system officials expects to submit the new cost-sharing proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on July 15 for approval. It could then take up to a year to approve the new rates.

Leslie Brooks Suzukamo can be reached at 651-228-5475.

All Rights Reserved to TwinCities.com

Industry says Wyoming wind taxes tops in Rockies

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Wyoming taxes on the wind energy industry would be the highest among Rocky Mountains states if all of Wyoming's pending taxes take effect, according to a new analysis by an industry group.

The Wyoming Power Producers Coalition is releasing its study in advance of wind tax discussions scheduled for next week by the Wyoming Legislature's Joint Revenue Interim Committee.
"Wyoming has a big policy discussion that needs to take place," said David Picard, a lobbyist for the coalition. "What amount of wind energy development do they want? Because clearly our analysis shows that Wyoming is much less competitive with our surrounding states."

The wind industry lost tax battles in the past two Wyoming legislative sessions. In 2009, lawmakers allowed a sales tax exemption for renewable energy projects to expire at the end of 2011. This year, lawmakers passed a $1 per megawatt hour wind energy generation tax that takes effect in 2012.

The industry calculations accounted for Wyoming's pending sales and generation taxes.

Post a CommentThe report says a 66-turbine wind farm producing 99 megawatts and costing $247.5 million to build would pay about $37.6 million in taxes in Wyoming over 20 years. The same wind farm would pay $8.4 million in taxes in Colorado, the state with the lowest tax burden for wind, according to the study.

The upfront sales tax burden is the most troublesome for wind developers, Picard said. The model project would pay about $11.8 million at a sales tax rate of 6 percent. Picard said developers must account for sales tax as part of their project financing, rather than pay it with operating revenues over time.

"It's that significant, steep initial investment that can make and break some of these projects," he said. The comparison did not include state corporate income tax, which Wyoming doesn't impose, because of the difficulty of accounting for different corporation's expenses and tax postures, coalition officials said.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal supported the sunset of the sales tax exemption and the imposition of a wind energy generation tax. The efficiency and strength of Wyoming's wind resource would make up for most tax consequences, said Ryan Lance, Freudenthal's deputy chief of staff.

The construction of electric transmission lines to export Wyoming wind power and the cost of delivering it to markets in California are much bigger obstructions to the industry in Wyoming, Lance said.

"There's still a significant gap - even with the tax being wholly dismissed from the equation - in terms of what we can sell it for into California and what they're willing to buy it for," Lance said.

During this year's legislative session, the Power Producers Coalition used the transmission argument when urging lawmakers to reject a wind generation tax and take more time to study the state's overall tax structure for wind. The transmission bottleneck and ongoing environmental regulatory issues related to sage grouse mean Wyoming has plenty of time to sort out its tax structure, developers argued.

Rep. Rodney "Pete" Anderson, chairman of the House Revenue Committee, said he found the industry study to be revealing, particularly the impact of sales taxes. The Pine Bluffs Republican said he views the Legislature's action earlier this year to be just the starting point for hashing out Wyoming's wind tax policy.

"We're going to take testimony from all interested parties," Anderson said. "We want to get that testimony and then we'll go from there. You know when you get that many legislators together it's hard to tell where it will go."

All rights reserved to Forbes, Associated Press

Friday, June 18, 2010

Here’s a fast way for you to find out how solar panels work

What is solar power ?
Solar energy is radiant energy which is produced by the sun. Daily the sun radiates, or sends out, an enormous volume of energy. The sun radiates more energy in a single second than people have used since the beginning of time!

The energy of the Sun derives from within the sun itself. Like other stars, the sun is known as a big ball of gases––mostly hydrogen and helium atoms.

The hydrogen atoms in the sun’s core combine to create helium and generate energy in a process called nuclear fusion.

During nuclear fusion, the sun’s extremely high pressure and temperature cause hydrogen atoms to come apart and their nuclei (the central cores of the atoms) to fuse or combine. Four hydrogen nuclei fuse to become one helium atom. But the helium atom contains less mass compared to four hydrogen atoms that fused. Some matter is lost during nuclear fusion. The lost matter is emitted into space as radiant energy.

It takes countless years for the energy in the sun’s core to make its way to the solar surface, and then slightly over eight minutes to travel the 93 million miles to earth. The solar energy travels to the earth at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, the velocity of sunshine.

Only a small portion of the power radiated from the sun into space strikes our planet, one part in two billion. Yet this quantity of energy is enormous. Each day enough energy strikes the united states to supply the nation’s energy needs for one and a half years!

Where does all this energy go?
About 15 percent of the sun’s energy that hits our planet is reflected back into space. Another 30 percent is used to evaporate water, which, lifted into the atmosphere, produces rainfall. Solar energy also is absorbed by plants, the land, and the oceans. The rest could be used to supply our energy needs.

Who invented solar power ?
Folks have harnessed solar power for years and years. Since the 7th century B.C., people used simple magnifying glasses to concentrate the light of the sun into beams so hot they would cause wood to catch fire. Over 100 years ago in France, a scientist used heat from a solar collector to make steam to drive a steam engine. At first of this century, scientists and engineers began researching ways to use solar power in earnest. One important development was a remarkably efficient solar boiler introduced by Charles Greeley Abbott, an american astrophysicist, in 1936.

The solar water heater gained popularity at this time in Florida, California, and the Southwest. The industry started in the early 1920s and was in full swing just before World War II. This growth lasted prior to the mid-1950s when low-cost propane became the primary fuel for heating American homes.

The public and world governments remained largely indifferent to the possibilities of solar technology before oil shortages of the1970s. Today, people use solar technology to heat buildings and water and also to generate electricity.

How we use solar energy today ?
Solar energy is employed in a number of different ways, of course. There are two very basic forms of solar power:

* Solar thermal energy collects the sun's warmth through one of two means: in water or in an anti-freeze (glycol) mixture.

* Solar photovoltaic energy converts the sun's radiation to usable electricity.

Let us discuss the five most practical and popular methods solar power can be used:
1. Small portable solar photovoltaic systems. We see these used everywhere, from calculators to solar garden products. Portable units can be used for everything from RV appliances while single panel systems are used for traffic signs and remote monitoring stations.

2. Solar pool heating. Running water in direct circulation systems via a solar collector is a very practical solution to heat water for your pool or spa.

3. Thermal glycol energy to heat water. In this method (indirect circulation), glycol is heated by natural sunlight and the heat is then transferred to water in a hot water tank. This process of collecting the sun's energy is much more practical now than ever before. In areas as far north as Edmonton, Alberta, solar thermal to heat water is economically sound. It can pay for itself in 3 years or less.

4. Integrating solar photovoltaic energy into your home or office power. In most parts of the world, solar photovoltaics is an economically feasible way to supplement the power of your property. In Japan, photovoltaics are competitive with other kinds of power. In america, new incentive programs make this form of solar energy ever more viable in many states. An increasingly popular and practical way of integrating solar energy into the power of your home or business is through the usage of building integrated solar photovoltaics.

5. Large independent photovoltaic systems. For those who have enough sun power at your site, you could possibly go off grid. You may also integrate or hybridize your solar power system with wind power or other forms of sustainable energy to stay 'off the grid.'

How do Photovoltaic panels work ?
Silicon is mounted beneath non-reflective glass to produce photovoltaic panels. These panels collect photons from the sun, converting them into DC electric power. The power created then flows into an inverter. The inverter transforms the energy into basic voltage and AC electricity.

Solar cells are prepared with particular materials called semiconductors such as silicon, which is presently the most generally used. When light hits the Photovoltaic cell, a certain share of it is absorbed inside the semiconductor material. This means that the energy of the absorbed light is given to the semiconductor.

The power unfastens the electrons, permitting them to run freely. Pv cells also have one or more electric fields that act to compel electrons unfastened by light absorption to flow in a specific direction. This flow of electrons is a current, and by introducing metal links on the top and bottom of the -Photovoltaic cell, the current can be drawn to use it externally.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of solar technology ?
Solar Pro Arguments :
- Heating our homes with oil or propane or using electricity from power plants running with oil and coal is a reason behind climate change and climate disruption. Solar power, on the contrary, is clean and environmentally-friendly.

- Solar hot-water heaters require little maintenance, and their initial investment could be recovered within a relatively limited time.

- Solar hot-water heaters can work in almost any climate, even just in very cold ones. You just need to choose the best system for your climate: drainback, thermosyphon, batch-ICS, etc.

- Maintenance costs of solar powered systems are minimal and the warranties large.

- Financial incentives (USA, Canada, European states…) can aid in eliminating the cost of the first investment in solar technologies. The U.S. government, as an example, offers tax credits for solar systems certified by by the SRCC (Solar Rating and Certification Corporation), which amount to 30 percent of the investment (2009-2016 period).

Solar Cons Arguments:
- The initial investment in Solar Water heaters or in Solar PV Electric Systems is greater than that required by conventional electric and gas heaters systems.

- The payback period of solar PV-electric systems is high, as well as those of solar space heating or solar cooling (only the solar warm water heating payback is short or relatively short).

- Solar water heating do not support a direct in conjunction with radiators (including baseboard ones).

- Some hvac (solar space heating and the solar cooling systems) are very pricey, and rather untested technologies: solar ac isn't, till now, a really economical option.

- The efficiency of solar powered systems is rather influenced by sunlight resources. It's in colder climates, where heating or electricity needs are higher, that the efficiency is smaller.

Written by Guest Writer Barbra Young

Wal-Mart Goes Green: The World’s First Quintuple Play

Watching baseball’s first quadruple play was strange. Seeing Wal-Mart go green is stranger still.

First the baseball: The scene was a game of T-Ball, where everyone bats every inning, regardless of the number of outs.

The bases were loaded when a line drive ended up in the glove of the pitcher. While he wondered how it got there, all the runners took off without tagging up. The pitcher ran to third, then second, then first.

We kept counting the number of outs and they did not add up. First in our heads: That doesn’t make sense. Then on our hand: That’s crazy. Then our other hand: It kept adding up to four outs. It took us a while to believe what we saw right in front of us.

And now Wal-Mart, the original Black Hat, is going green. Or better said, sustainable. Let that sink in because it is true. Big time.

So much so that Treehugger.com says It “could end up being one of the biggest motivators to make truly ‘green’ products ever.”

As in history of the world.
Wal-Mart has made believers out of not just the biggest environmental organizations in the world — like the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Federation — but also Wal-Mart’s suppliers.

It started five years ago when Wal-Mart announced three goals: 1) 100 percent renewable energy; 2) Zero waste; 3) Sustainable products.

Wal-Mart stores have already gone sustainable on dozens of fronts from shipping to selling to storing to recycling. Last year, Wal-Mart saved 4.8 billion plastic shopping bags. That’s how they roll in Bentonville: Big.

Even the combined efforts of 8400 stores with two million associates doing $400 billion in sales every year was not enough: Wal-Mart figured out 90 percent of the carbon was coming from its supply chain. So it reached down to all its 100,000 vendors — and their vendors and their vendors — and told them that reducing carbon footprints — reducing energy — will save money.

Everyone knows that is what Wal-Mart is all about.

“And vendors are listening,” said Tom Rooney, CEO of SPG Solar in Novato, California, one of the largest solar installers in the country. “We are seeing renewed and intense interest in industrial- and commercial-scale solar because of Wal-Mart and Proctor and Gamble and other companies are showing their suppliers how to change their shipping, packaging, storing, selling, heating, cooling, disposing, recycling and other practices to squeeze energy out of the supply chain and save money. And solar is a big part of that.”

Not that many need much coaxing: Financial incentives for solar today are so strong that many companies are essentially getting free energy — and more — by buying a new solar array from the money they will save from lower energy bills. And having a big chunk left over.

Now on top of that, the largest companies in the world are saying solar and other renewables have to be a part of their supply chain. By some estimates, 1 in 3 dollars worldwide is associated with a company that does business with Walmart. So, if you shift Walmart and its suppliers, the global economy shifts with it, says R. Paul Herman at hipinvestor.com. Or as the New York Times puts it: “because of its size and power, Wal-Mart usually gets what it wants.” And Wal-Mart wants renewable energy.

Earlier this year, Wal-Mart sent its vendors a 15 part questionnaire to determine what their companies were doing to become more sustainable. Also leading the effort is Wal-Mart’s “Sustainabilty Index.”

Scholars from around the world are gathering at the Universities of Arizona and Arkansas to create this new measure of the energy created — and wasted — during the life cycle of a product found at Wal-Mart. It won’t be ready for at least another year.

“But that doesn’t matter,” says Rooney. “No one is fighting Wal-Mart or complaining about the reporting that this new index requires. Just the opposite: They are racing to out do each other, and surpass Wal-Mart’s expectations. Right now. Not next year.”

And why not:
In May, the world’s largest consumer product company, Proctor and Gamble, announced its own, similar, sustainability program for its vendors. Joining IBM, GE, and other corporate giants on the sustainability train.

The results are already showing up on the bottom line:

“Perhaps more than any other company, Wal-Mart has pursued this approach” said the Harvard Business Review of Wal-Mart’s new vision of sustainability. “The payoffs are already showing up: One of the Sustainable Value Networks, tasked with fleet logistics, came up with a transportation strategy that improved efficiency by 38%, saving Wal-Mart more than $200 million annually and cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 200,000 tons per year.”

Wal-Mart: Not just for beating up anymore. Or maybe we are just seeing the world’s first quintuple play.

Article by Jim Fitzpatrick, a retired civil engineer and solar enthusiast.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

EPA wants half of state’s trash kept out of landfills

The Ohio EPA wants to boost recycling rates across the state without creating additional financial demands for cash-strapped waste management districts, including the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, which is working to erase a projected $6 million budget shortfall this year.

SWACO and the other 51 solid waste districts in the state must figure out how to comply with EPA regulatory guidelines that call for boosting the state’s recycling rate to 50 percent from 40.7 percent in 2007, the last year data were available. The agency’s plan is focused on improving the effectiveness of community recycling programs, officials said.

The goals include requiring districts to get better at changing recycling behavior in their communities through marketing and outreach efforts, and developing resources such as Web sites and guides listing local recycling opportunities. The plan also sets a new goal for solid waste districts to measure the effects of their recycling and waste reduction programs on greenhouse gas emissions. There also will be a stepped-up focus on the development of technology to convert waste to energy sources such as electricity and vehicle fuels.

“It’s not optional,” said Andrew Booker, a supervisor in Ohio EPA’s Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management. “Their plans will have to demonstrate how they will meet these goals.”

The good news, Booker said, is many of the solid waste districts already meet or exceed the recycling goals in the new statewide plan. Those that don’t may be able to get there by improving the effectiveness of their recycling programs, rather than raising landfill fees and other levies to fund their compliance efforts.

SWACO Executive Director Ron Mills said the Columbus-area district has taken steps that will go a long way toward meeting or surpassing the goals. “The recommendations in that report in and of themselves will not drive up our operating costs,” he said.

SWACO has had to make a number of moves to eliminate this year’s $6 million budget shortfall, including requiring local trash haulers to dump at SWACO’s landfill in southern Franklin County instead of at private out-of-county sites, eliminating some programs, reducing staff and streamlining business operations.

Ohio EPA recognizes these are tough economic times for solid waste districts since they are financially dependent on landfill fees, Booker said. Revenue from such “tipping” fees are closely tied to economic conditions, with drops in manufacturing and fewer purchases by consumers in a recession lowering the amount of trash headed to landfills.

“Despite the financial challenges, we’ve seen positive movement on recycling from residents and businesses,” he said. “There is continuing interest by folks to do more recycling.” EPA reported that nearly 13 million tons of waste was reduced or recycled statewide in 2007.

The recycling rate in SWACO’s district – comprising Franklin and small parts of Union, Delaware, Fairfield, Licking and Pickaway counties – is nearly 30 percent, Mills said. That includes activity at the district’s 220 drop-box locations, where recycling was up 16 percent in 2009 compared with the prior year, according to SWACO.

But there appears to be plenty of work still to be done. In his State of the City address in February, Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman said the city has one of the worst recycling rates among big cities. Columbus residents recycle just 14.6 percent of their trash, according to rankings from Akron-based trade journal Waste & Recycling News.

To address that, the city will reinstate weekly yard waste collections in April, Coleman said, and he will push for a free curb-side recycling program for residents by 2012. “We plan to work with the city as they roll that out,” Mills said, noting SWACO’s drop boxes can complement Columbus’ curb-side program.

Waste to energy: As for another aspect of EPA’s new recycling plan, Mills said SWACO is ahead of the curve on converting landfill gas to energy and green fuels. SWACO has a Green Energy Center that takes methane from the landfill and converts it to compressed natural gas to power some of the district’s vehicles.

In addition, Cleveland-based Quasar Energy Group is working with Kurtz Brothers Inc. of Independence to develop a facility at the former Columbus trash-burning power plant that will divert organic waste from landfills and convert it to electricity or green fuels.

Mills said similar waste-to-energy projects have the potential to become revenue producers for SWACO.

“We’re looking at ways to adjust and enhance some of resources beyond a costly (trash) rate increase,” he said. “That’s not the answer.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Giant wind turbine blade tours America’s heartland

Energy company GE has kicked off a 28-day tour of nine states to raise awareness of renewable energy and urge people to lobby their politicians to support clean energy.

The firm started off yesterday in Aberdeen, South Dakota, offering up one of its 131-foot wind turbine blades as a petition to be signed by the public (pictured right).

It will tour states including Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Texas before wrapping up in Dallas, Texas, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2010 exhibition.

Offshore wind farm could have big impact

For the last decade, the backers of a huge wind power project off the coast of Cape Cod have navigated through stormy community meetings, hidden regulatory snags and verbal cannon blasts from the Kennedy family and a pair of Indian tribes.

Any day now, they will find out whether it was all for naught. The Obama administration, which last week signaled its intention to proceed with other offshore wind projects, is about to decide whether to deep-six the Cape Wind proposal or provide a friendly gale that could carry it to completion.
If approved, the project would most likely be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. And in either case, the ruling by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar would have implications from Long Island to Lake Erie. At least half a dozen offshore wind projects that could provide electricity for hundreds of thousands of customers have already been proposed in the shallow waters off the East Coast and the Great Lakes.
A thumbs-down on Cape Wind, some developers say, could gut America’s offshore wind industry before it ever really gets started. “It is imperative that Cape Wind gets built — we need the momentum,” said Peter Giller, chief executive of OffshoreMW, an upstart developer with ambitions to build two 700-megawatt projects off the shores of New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Although offshore wind farms are roughly twice as expensive as land-based ones, developers and advocates say offshore projects have several advantages. Sea and lake breezes are typically stronger, steadier and more reliable than wind on land. Offshore turbines can also be located close to the power-hungry populations along the coasts, eliminating the need for new overland transmission lines. And if the turbines are built far enough from shore, they do not significantly alter the view — a major objection from many local opponents.
Other nations have embraced offshore wind as a major source of renewable energy. In Europe alone, there are currently 830 offshore wind turbines connected to the power grid in nine countries, according to the European Wind Energy Association

In the United States, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has estimated that about 90,000 megawatts of electricity could be extracted from offshore winds in coastal waters less than 100 feet deep, the easiest and most cost-effective depths. Most of that potential lies in New England, the mid-Atlantic and the Great Lakes.
If the handful of American projects on the drawing board are built as planned, they would produce some 2,500 megawatts, according to the American Wind Energy Association or about as much as two midsize nuclear power plants.

But despite years of efforts, not a single offshore turbine has been built in the United States. Experts say progress has been slowed by a variety of factors, including poor economics, an uncertain regulatory framework and local opposition.

Wind energy continues to flex its growing power around the world

New wind power installations in the EU last year, which increased 23% over 2008, brought the region’s total capacity to nearly 75 GW. Global wind turbines installations in 2009 were worth about €45 billion.
Wind energy continues to flex its growing power around the world
With its vast population and seemingly limitless thirst to acquire raw resources and additional energy sources for its emerging middle class, China was the world’s biggest wind power market last year, almost doubling its installed wind farm generation capacity to 25 GW.

China’s growth in wind power was so spectacular that it represented one-third of the world’s new wind energy installed capacity in 2009 of 37.5 GW, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

Regardless of the severe global economic downturn caused by the worst recession since the 1930s, China installed 13 GW of new capacity in 2009, GWEC reported, noting the Asian nation’s wind energy industry experienced another year of more than 100% growth.

GWEC also noted that cumulative world-wide wind power capacity installed by the end of 2009 totaled nearly 158 GW – a 31% increase from the year before.

“The continued rapid growth of wind power despite the financial crisis and economic downturn is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology, which is clean, reliable and quick to install,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General.

“Wind power has become the power technology of choice to a growing number of countries around the world,” Sawyer said, adding wind energy’s continued growth can be attributed to national energy policies and because many governments promoted renewable energy development in their economic recovery plans.

In addition to China, other Asian nations– India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – helped make Asia the world’s largest wind power market last year, with more than 14 GW of new capacity.

North America and Europe, each of which installed more than 10 GW of new wind capacity, also helped drive the global wind power success story in 2009.

The US wind energy industry experienced a 39% increase in new installed capacity last year, which brought its total capacity total to 35 GW.

New wind power installations in the EU last year, which increased 23% over 2008, brought the region’s total capacity to nearly 75 GW. Global wind turbines installations in 2009 were worth about €45 billion, GWEC noted, adding about 500,000 people are now employed by the wind industry around the world.

The wind industry will also save about 204 million tonnes of CO2 every year, GWEC reported.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wind Power in America’s Future: 20% Wind Energy by 2030

In 2006, a collaborative panel explored a modeled energy scenario in which wind would provide 20 percent of our nation’s electricity by 2030. Their official 2008 report estimates impacts and discusses specific needs and outcomes in the areas of technology, manufacturing, transmission and grid integration, markets, siting strategies, and potential environmental effects….

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Our first solo turbine! This turbine is going to be located in Defiance, Ohio along US-24. The company buying the turbine is an FM radio station WOOO 95.5 FM. This turbine will be used to power the radio station and to set a good example for wind energy and WESCO. This is a perfect location of our first turbine to be established at, hopefully other companies and businesses.


BP to invest $1 billion plus in alt energy this year

LAGUNA NIGUEL, California (Reuters) - Oil major BP Plc plans to invest more than $1 billion this year on alternative energy development, the head of BP's alternative energy unit said on Tuesday.
The company launched its alternative energy division in 2005 and has said it would spend $8 billion in the sector over 10 years to 2015.
Investments are moving forward faster than the company had anticipated and BP expects to pour "a billion plus" into the alternative space this year, said BP Alternative Energy Chief Executive Katrina Landis.
"We have some really attractive investment opportunities which we are pursing," she told Reuters at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel, California.
She declined to talk about specific deals.
Landis said BP spent $1.3 billion in the alternative energy sector last year, which represented some 6 percent of the company's overall investment.
In response to whether she thought BP would grow the percentage of investment directed toward alternative energy in the future, she said the decision would depend year-to-year on the opportunities available.
"Strategically, we're committed to bringing as many kinds of energies to the market as we can," said Landis.
She also dismissed the possibility of BP's alternative energy division, and units within it, spinning out or moving ahead with an initial public offering -- an idea that was considered by the company a few years ago.
London-based BP is principally involved in four types of alternative technologies: wind power, solar power, carbon capture and storage and biofuels.
"We're absolutely holding these as core businesses," said Landis. "All four of those technology areas have the opportunity to be very sizable."

BP to invest $1 billion plus in alt energy this year

LAGUNA NIGUEL, California (Reuters) - Oil major BP Plc plans to invest more than $1 billion this year on alternative energy development, the head of BP's alternative energy unit said on Tuesday.
The company launched its alternative energy division in 2005 and has said it would spend $8 billion in the sector over 10 years to 2015.
Investments are moving forward faster than the company had anticipated and BP expects to pour "a billion plus" into the alternative space this year, said BP Alternative Energy Chief Executive Katrina Landis.
"We have some really attractive investment opportunities which we are pursing," she told Reuters at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel, California.
She declined to talk about specific deals.
Landis said BP spent $1.3 billion in the alternative energy sector last year, which represented some 6 percent of the company's overall investment.
In response to whether she thought BP would grow the percentage of investment directed toward alternative energy in the future, she said the decision would depend year-to-year on the opportunities available.
"Strategically, we're committed to bringing as many kinds of energies to the market as we can," said Landis.
She also dismissed the possibility of BP's alternative energy division, and units within it, spinning out or moving ahead with an initial public offering -- an idea that was considered by the company a few years ago.
London-based BP is principally involved in four types of alternative technologies: wind power, solar power, carbon capture and storage and biofuels.
"We're absolutely holding these as core businesses," said Landis. "All four of those technology areas have the opportunity to be very sizable."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Iowa, Texas Top in Wind Power Efforts

Iowa and Texas lead the nation in wind energy efforts, according to the annual report released Thursday from the American Wind Energy Association.
Iowa claims the title for the state with the largest percentage of electricity from wind energy. As of the end of 2009, over 14 percent of Iowa's power was from wind energy.
And while the large state of Texas may still only get a modest percentage of its power from wind energy, it actually has the most wind power capacity of any U.S. state. Texas is also home to the largest wind farm in the U.S.
AWEA, the national trade organization for the wind industry, said that as of the end of 2009 the U.S. installed over 10,000 megawatts worth of wind turbines, enough wind power capacity to provide 2.4 million homes with electricity. (Interestingly, AWEA notes alongside that statistic that three large nuclear power plants could generate the same amount of electricity.)
The increased wind capacity brings the U.S. total to 35,000 megawatts. While that may sound like a lot, it's only enough to power 9.7 million homes annually.
There were 36 U.S. states with utility-scale wind projects installed at the close of 2009. And not surprisingly, General Electric seems to have been a large supplier to those states. The AWEA report said that GE, which has been heavily investing in its wind turbine business in both Europe and the U.S., was the No. 1 seller of wind turbines in the U.S. in 2009.
A modest number of U.S. homeowners and small businesses also showed interest in personal wind energy. Small wind, which the AWEA categorizes as those turbines with a maximum capacity of 100kW, grew 15 percent in 2009 with about 20 megawatts of generating capacity installed in the U.S.
But despite increased interest in wind on land, the U.S. still has no major offshore wind capacity to speak of, according to AWEA. The organization noted that there are seven potential projects in permitting and planning stages awaiting approval from federal and state authorities, as well as regulators. 

US adds record amount of wind power in 2009 -AWEA

* More than 10,000 MW of wind turbines installed in U.S.
* Total capacity hit 35,000 MW, about 1.8 pct of power mix

NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) - Installations of wind turbine power hit a record in the United States last year despite the financial crisis that choked off funding for half the year, wind power advocates said on Thursday.

More than 10,000 megawatts of wind power capacity, or 5,700 turbines, were installed in 2009, the American Wind Energy Association said in its annual report, bringing the total capacity in the United States to 35,000 MW.

That kept the United States in the top spot globally for wind power, ahead of China and Germany, which each had about 25.8 MW of capacity. One megawatt is enough power for about 800 U.S. households.

The U.S. wind industry has grown 39 percent on average each of the last five years, and now employs about 85,000 people, many of them in states that have seen other industries close up factories in recent years, AWEA said.

"We really are one of the only bright spots out there in terms of growing the manufacturing centers," AWEA Chief Executive Denise Bode told a press conference.

Turbine makers such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS.CO) Suzlon (SUZL.BO) laid off employees in the first half of 2009 as orders slowed to a halt, but activity quickly rebounded after the federal government set rules that allowed companies to use U.S. stimulus funds to help support the industry.

"It was a critical part of the success in 2009," said Don Furman, senior vice president for development at wind energy company Iberdrola Renewables, the second largest wind owner in the country behind FPL Group's (FPL.N) NextEra Energy Resources.

The federal funds were issued through a grant system that replaced a tax credit program, allowing developers who had already built projects to be reimbursed for 30 percent of their construction costs. That helped offset funds that banks pulled out of the market when the credit crisis prompted them to halt lending.

Even with the steady industry growth, wind power generation reached only 1.8 percent of the country's total, up from 1.3 percent at the end of 2008, AWEA said. Although, AWEA said it would cross the 2 percent threshhold this year.

Leading the nation in installed capacity is Texas, with 9,405 MW, followed by Iowa, with 3,679 MW, and California with 2,723 MW.

Even as fast as the U.S. market was growing, China was catching up quickly, according to Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council, and the Asian country's energy appetite made it the largest new wind market in 2009.

Improbable Senate Alliance Could Create an American Waste Biomass Energy Industry

Freshman Democratic Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Jean Shaheen (D-NH) have been joined by Republican Senators Mike Crapo(D-ID) and Lisa Murkowski (D-K) in announcing breakthrough bipartisan support for a little-utilized form of renewable energy, with major implications for greenhouse gas reductions in the US in the American Renewable Biomass Heating Act. Their legislation would expand the use of waste biomass in high-efficiency heating systems in commercial and industrial buildings, Brighter Energy reports, by expansion of 30% tax credits to exceed the $1,500 limit, and to extend past the current expiration date of 2013.
Previously both Republicans had joined the now routine minority filibuster to prevent  extending expiring renewable energy tax credits, not once but twice, both voted no on ensuring that when fuel is defined as renewable that it not hurt the environment, and both filibustered against tax credits for renewable biomass, in particular.
As currently passed, the limited, filibuster-hurdling smaller tax credit only really helps homeowners to install a small pellet stove in a home, because the 30% tax credit maxes out at $1,500 and even that only for just the next three years.
Expanding the low incentive and the limited time-frame would have a major impact because large commercial users require larger capital investment and longer planning times. This would create a US market for innovation in commercial-scale biomass heating systems, and reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas production.
Very innovative large-scale biomass thermal technology is already widely deployed in Europe and contributing to the low EU carbon footprint, jump-started by post-Kyoto cap and trade  incentives. Currently, the UK is eyeing our vast resources of renewable waste biomass.
To qualify for the proposed tax credit, waste biomass boilers and furnaces would have to operate at a 75% efficiency level or greater while providing space heating, air conditioning, domestic hot water or industrial process heat.
Just how incredible is this unlikely alliance?  Senator Murkowski (R-AK)  is the Senator filing a suit against the EPA for limiting greenhouse gas by polluters.  Senator Shaheen (D-NH) was shortlisted as VP by Al Gore during his run for president.
But yesterday Senator Crapo (R-ID) noted correctly that “prioritizing renewable wood fuels would help reduce US dependence on foreign oil” and would “help the timber industry and rural communities” and that “a third of building energy consumption is to generate heat.”
What are the implications for climate legislation? Only two more minority votes are needed to allow the majority to pass good renewable energy legislation in spite of the unprecedented and unethical recent misuse of the filibuster. Collins and Snowe of Maine have consistently sided with Democrats on environmental legislation, but unfortunately, the two other Republican YEA voters were voted out in 2008.
This alliance replaces those two lost votes, on at least one form of renewable energy.
Sadly, waste biomass is becoming an especially abundant resource across many states because our pine forests are dying, because the pine bark beetle now survives each decade’s warmer winter, as just one result of ecosystem destabilization, due to climate change.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pennsylvania Ranks In Top 20 In Nation In Wind Energy

In many communities across the Alleghenies, coal was once king. But, in recent years, the area has seen the rapid expansion of a different kind of energy: wind.
Now, according to a new study, Pennsylvania ranks among the top 20 when it comes to the wind energy industry -- and it's growing.
Recently, North Allegheny Wind officials said they plan to build a new administrative office building in Gallitzin Township, Cambria County. Energy officials said that building -- coupled with wind farmprojects and a manufacturing facility -- is good for being a power player, but also for jobs.
When it comes to people employed by the wind industry, the Gamesa Plant in Ebensburg alone employs about 250. While some of those positions had to be saved this year with federal stimulus money, the American Wind Industry called that an investment.
On the state level, energy officials said they have good reason to grow in Pennsylvania.
"I talk every day to companies who want to match-make and move their headquarters to the U.S., and Pennsylvania is one of the main places they look because of the policies you put in place in state government there that encourage them to come there first," said Denise Bode, chief executive officer of the American Wind Energy Association.
They said the jobs are here to stay, not just building but also maintaining those turbines. But, some local residents have asked whether the region is really benefiting from wind energy.
Bode said, "Your power right now is being interchanged between all the states. This puts free energy on the grid with avoiding the cost of fossil fuels."

Thursday, April 8, 2010


3,000 Megawatts of Renewable Energy Planned for Montana

Grasslands Renewable Energy introduces 'smart grid' transmission concept aggregating diverse renewable energy at a competitive price

BOZEMAN, Mont.April 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Grasslands Renewable Energy LLC (Grasslands) today announced that it has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting regulatory approvals needed to advance its innovative Wind Spirit Project.  
Based in the wind-rich state of Montana, Grasslands has introduced the Wind Spirit Project, an integrated and green approach to harnessing, storing, and transporting clean renewable energy to consumers.  "Our goal is to create a package of renewable energy that can compete on reliability and price, not just with renewables like solar, but with non-renewables such as coal," said Carl Borgquist, President of Grasslands. "By combining the wind resources of the Northern Plains in an integrated solution, we can help fight climate change and be a leader in America's energy future."
Grasslands is developing a transmission system to access geographically diverse renewable energy from acrossMontana and the Northern Great Plains.  Through the Wind Spirit Project, renewable energy from multiple geographic areas will combine with energy storage technologies and smart grid components to create a more consistent renewable energy supply.  The energy for the Wind Spirit Project would be collected via series of 230KV AC transmission lines and transported to large markets using high voltage AC and DC transmission lines.  By combining renewable energy from different geographic areas, the Wind Spirit Project will make renewable energy more efficient and cost effective.  
"Montana can and will lead our nation in wind energy development. But until we solve our transmission constraint problems, little of this great resource will be developed. The project proposed by Grasslands Renewable Energy is an important first step in ensuring quality energy jobs for Montanans and clean energy for America," said Governor Brian Schweitzer.
Grasslands' project already has broad support from local, state and federal officials, and, if built, will create hundreds of jobs and pay millions in local and state property taxes.

AES Buys Two European Wind Power Companies

Arlington-based AES Corp.’s AES Wind Generation division had made two acquisitions expanding its wind power generation business in Europe.
The company has acquired U.K.-based wind power company Your Energy Ltd. and acquired a 51 percent stake in Polish wind developer 3E. AES did not disclose financial terms of either acquisition.
It is AES’s first project in Poland.
The two acquisitions will add 700 megawatts of wind power capacity to AES’s European projects, including projects that will get underway next year. AES will invest $400 million in the new holdings over the next five years.
AES has brought three wind projects in Europe into operation this year, in France, Scotland and Bulgaria.
AES is expanding its European footprint as demand for renewable energy there is expected to grow. Under a 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive, both the U.K. and Poland must meet 15 percent of their energy consumption through renewable energy by 2020.
AES (NYSE: AES) owns or holds stakes in power generation operations in 29 counties. It is aggressively pursuing alternative energy with both wind and solar projects domestically and abroad.
The company had $14 billion in 2009 revenue.

Wind Turbine Proponents Look to Berea Section of Fairgrounds

BEREA — Proponents of a wind turbine at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds may have their eye on Berea.
Mayor Cyril M. Kleem told the News Sun that representatives from the fair board met with him last week.
“They have shown an interest in Berea,” he said.
Middleburg Heights turned down the fair board’s request to erect a 280-foot, 600-kilowatt turbine near its main parking lot off Bagley and Eastland roads. The eastern end of the fairgrounds is in Middleburg Heights while the rest of it is on property that is within Berea. Kleem said the potential site of the turbine appeared near the original one but westerly on property that is within the city of Berea.
Phone calls and e-mails to those who met with Kleem went unanswered as of Tuesday prior to the News Sun print deadline.
Kleem said any proposal would go before the Berea Planning Commission.
The proposal to Middleburg Heights included an educational component in which local schools and universities would study renewable energy. Kleem said that also was discussed at the informal meeting.
The project received a $1 million grant in federal stimulus funds. Other funding may come from grants to cover the $2 million project.
Those questioning the project at Middleburg Heights meetings included businesses near the proposed site. One included a communications tower provider on the fair grounds. Middleburg Heights city officials also questioned the height, cost and whether the site would create a wind farm.

Offshore wind grid is the answer, study says

The solution to offshore wind energy obstacles lies in pooling all the power into one common electricity grid, according to researchers at the University of Delaware and Stony Brook University.

"We hypothesize that wind power output could be stabilized if wind generators were located in a meteorologically designed configuration and electrically connected," according to the report "Electric power from offshore wind via synoptic-scale interconnection."

Using hard data from 11 meteorological stations, the group tracked hourly how much wind blew over the last five years across a 2,500-kilometer area of the U.S. East Coast, and where it was consistently the strongest offshore. The scientists then created a theoretical wind grid based on the real-world wind behavior. It showed that had a wind grid existed over the last five years it would have neither reached full power nor reached an all-time low, but provided a steady source of electricity.

Despite seasonal shifts up and down in output from each individual offshore wind farm, the connected system allowed for a manageable stable power source, according to the results of the study.

The group concurred with the assertions that harnessing just two-thirds of the offshore wind power that potentially exists off the U.S. northeast coast could provide household electricity from Massachusetts to North Carolina, as well as electricity for lightweight vehicle fuel and building heat for those areas. But the group also agreed that offshore wind is challenging because of wind's naturally intermittent nature, and the expense of building and managing utility-scale storage for an intermittent energy source.

The group studied transmission versus utility-scale storage, and found that transmission between farms along a common grid was far more economical despite an initial cost layout to connect the Atlantic offshore wind farms with 3-gigawatt HVDC submarine cables .

The scientists' theoretical build was based on placing wind farms at strategic meteorological points, and the transmission grid being placed to optimize energy sharing and efficiency. By this criteria, both the farms and transmission lines ended up being primarily placed in federal waters. The group conceded that such a setup might not be a politically popular one.

Many proposed wind projects would each connect separately to their adjacent state's electricity grid through a submerged power transmission cable, and the individual states would have power over them in conjunction with the utilities and regulating authorities. Many wind farm developers are already looking to place their farms in federal waters in an effort to overcome local opposition and regulatory hurdles. If those wind farms were also interconnected in federal waters rather than solely connected to the adjacent state's shore, it would further shift political control away from the states.

"Today, generation of electricity is primarily a state matter, decided by state public utility commissions, whereas the Independent System Operators (ISOs) manage wholesale power markets and plan transmission. An ISO is the type of organization that might plan and operate the electric system we envision, probably with a mix of owners--private firms, existing electric utilities, and/or public power authorities," said the report.

"Because of the unique characteristics of building and operating offshore, and because our proposed Atlantic Transmission Grid would exist primarily in federal waters and bridge many jurisdictions on land, it may make sense to create a unique ISO, here dubbed the "Atlantic Independent System Operator," said the report.