AWEA: Wind capacity surpasses 50 GW as developers race against PTC expiration

The U.S. wind industry reached a milestone during the third quarter, surpassing 50 GW of total installed generation capacity, according to a new American Wind Energy Association report. The industry installed 1,832.7 MW during the quarter, bringing total wind power capacity installations to 51,630 MW. Wind capacity additions in 2012 have totaled 4,728 MW so far, AWEA said in its third-quarter market report. At least 40 electric utilities own or have contracted wind from projects currently online through the third quarter, the association said. The third quarter saw a 52% increase in installed capacity over the year-ago quarter. Twenty-seven wind projects were installed in 15 states during the quarter. The wind industry installed 40% more capacity during the first three quarters of 2012 than the same period in 2011, primarily due to developers racing against the clock to complete projects before the production tax credit, or PTC, expires. The PTC provides wind plants that are in service by Dec. 31 with a tax credit for the first 10 years of electricity production from utility-scale turbines. "This is what a successful policy looks like when it's working, but whether wind will continue to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy now depends on whether Congress acts to extend the production tax credit by the end of the year," AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in an Oct. 18 statement.

Germany's Siemens to give up solar energy business

Siemens AG announced plans to give up its loss-making solar business and concentrate its renewable energy business on wind and hydroelectric power. The German industrial conglomerate, whose products range from trains to turbines, said Monday it's in talks with possible buyers, but offered no details. It said the move is part of a wider effort to increase its productivity and efficiency. The solar power industry has been hit by falling subsidies, weaker sales and increasingly stiff price competition, especially by Chinese manufacturers. Siemens said that "due to the changed framework conditions, lower growth and strong price pressure in the solar markets, the company's expectations for its solar energy activities have not been met." Several German solar manufacturers, including Q-Cells SE and Solar Millennium AG, have filed for insolvency over the past year. Another German company in the solar market, SMA AG, announced last week that it will slash up to 1,000 jobs — about a fifth of its global workforce — amid falling revenues and a possible annual loss in 2013 due to the growing price pressures.

Electricity generation from biomass continues to boom worldwide

The energetic use of solid biomass such as wood will increase to a larger extent than ever before in the years to come. At present, more than 2,200 biomass power plants are operational throughout the world. They have a total capacity of about 32,000 megawatts (MW). In Europe alone, there are more than 1,100 active biomass power plants. Another 130 coal power plants co-incinerate biomass. Over the past five years, about 150 biomass power plants went operational per year worldwide, each one with an average capacity of 11 MW, which is more than ever before. However, this growth will once more accelerate in the future: by 2016, 165 plants with an average capacity of more than 15 MW will be commissioned per year. Investments in new construction and maintenance of biomass power plants will increase from currently 10 to more than 14 billion euros annually. The trend for developing biomass follows the trend for developing renewable energies. More and more countries introduce feed-in tariffs for electricity from biomass. The increasing prices for fossil energy sources, the fact that many countries aim at increasing the use of domestic raw materials and the introduction of CO2 certificates for fossil fuels in Europe have over the past years improved the competitiveness of electricity generation from biomass.

180 Solar Panel Manufacturers Could Disappear by 2015

GTM Research says many PV solar panel makers will go under or be acquired soon. The global marketplace is simply over-saturated, the company’s report states, so dramatic changes are coming. The difference in PV supply and demand could be 35 GW a year.   About 88 companies are predicted to shutter PV factories, mainly in the United States, Europe, and Canada. The cost of solar panels and their manufacture has dropped so much it is simply too costly to produce them competitively in certain parts of the world. The number of companies affected by the fast-changing market conditions is huge, and very sad for the demise of their once promising ventures. “Manufacturing costs for firms in Europe, the U.S. and Japan are currently over 80 cents per watt. The cost for their Chinese competitors is between 58 cents and 68 cents per watt. The writing is on the wall: these companies will either take what they can get via acquisition or they will bow out,” said the report’s author, Shyam Mehta, Senior Analyst at GTM.  

Car battery maker A123 files for bankruptcy

Battery maker A123 Systems, a one-time darling of the U.S. electric car industry and recipient of millions in government funding, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday. The filing highlights the controversy over federal subsidies for "green energy" companies that has been a part of the 2012 presidential campaign.   A123 has $144 million in debt and missed a $2.7 million interest payment on Oct. 15. In 2009, A123 received $249 million in federal funding for advanced battery technology manufacturing at two sites in Michigan -- Romulus and Brownstown. The funding was part of $2.4 billion in stimulus funds designed to jump start advanced vehicle manufacturing in the United States.

AWEA recommends practices for US offshore wind facilities

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) with support from the US Energy Department and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has developed a set of recommended practices for using existing standards to plan, design, construct and operate offshore wind facilities in compliance with federal and state regulations. The recommended practices drawn up by AWEA’s Standards Development Board cite four levels of existing standards: international, American National Standards, classification society such as DNV, Germanischer Lloyd and The American Bureau of Shipping standards, and commercial standards and guidelines, These standards address five critical areas: structural reliability; manufacturing, qualification testing, installation, and construction; safety of equipment; operation and inspection, and decommissioning. The 63-page Recommended Practices for Design, Deployment, and Operation of Offshore Wind Turbines in the United States was unveiled at AWEA’s offshore windpower conference here.  

Real World PV Solar System - Part 2

AltEnergyMag had a residential PV system installed and is monitoring the process as well as the performance. This is part 2 of a series of articles we will publish along the way in order to demonstrate and explain a real world project for our readers to follow and learn from.

Connecting the Sun

Europe's electricity demand is increasing. In the context of Europe's decarbonisation goals, this power will have to come from more variable Renewable Energy Sources. As European policymakers consider their options for invesments in new and more efficient grid infrastructure, they should take into account the benefits that PV is already producing and, more importantly, plan for the greater benefits it is capable of producing in the future.

The National Integration Dataset

The dataset is designed to provide realistic energy production profiles based on wind variability, both for the existing fleet as well as large expansions thereof. One of the main concerns with wind energy is that it is variable, with energy produced only when and where the wind blows.

Fuel Cell Technology for the Future

Compared to other mechanisms that convert chemical energy into electricity, the fuel cell, specifically the solid oxide or ceramic fuel cell, is the most efficient.

Optimism Sets Tone at Solar Power International 2012

With the solar energy industry reporting that the second quarter of 2012 was the second largest quarter in history, there was "tremendous enthusiasm and vitality running through the entire solar industry value chain," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA.

Off-Grid - Spice Village Resort, India - Case Study

TeamSustain designed a 65kW battery-based PV system for Spice Village. The system was designed to support the full load of the resort after implementing the energy efficiency measures identified in the energy audit. With the new PV system, the resort will generate enough solar electricity to meet 100% of its power needs.

Money: A New (Decentralized) Shade of Green

Green Banks are essentially clean energy finance banks formed at the federal or state level that operate as public-private financing institutions with the power to raise capital to support clean energy projects through loans and loan guarantees.

From Contaminated to Productive

There are hundreds of thousands of contaminated sites across the country, and every solar or wind project that rises from an industrial wasteland is one that won't be built on unspoiled land, and it is unlikely that there would be public opposition to renewable energy projects on blighted land.

Solar Power Industry Booming -- Except in the Sunshine State

In just three months this year enough solar PV was installed nationwide to power 150,000 homes, while no new coal or nuclear plants came on line.

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