For years, the knock on fuel cell maker Bloom Energy Corp. has been that its boxes cost more to make than they cost to buy. Not exactly the sort of dynamic that would help Bloom make it up on volume. But perhaps things are finally about to change, after 10 years and nearly $1 billion in venture capital funding. Fortune recently obtained confidential documents sent by Bloom to its "significant investors," detailing third quarter earnings and the company's broader financial position. We also have managed to learn some broader context around the numbers, and have received what is believed to be the company's first on-the-record statement about its top-line projections for 2013 (all prior requests for information had gone unanswered). For the uninitiated, Bloom was founded by K.R. Sridhar in 2001 to translate a NASA science experiment into self-generating energy boxes for commercial customers like warehouses and data centers. The idea is basically to place solid oxide fuel cells on a company's premise, which convert air and natural gas into electricity via an electrochemical process. After several field trials, it shipped its first boxes to Google (GOOG) in July 2008 and since has secured paying customers like Wal-Mart (WMT), Federal Express (FDX) and AT&T (T). It also has expanded the business model to include box rentals (where customers pay on a consumption basis, kind of energy-as-a-service), and also is rolling out advanced boxes that can operate independent of the gas grid if needed (the new module also can be added onto existing boxes). Despite the customer wins and technological advancements, however, Bloom has a reputation for burning money.
Today, GE celebrates its 20,000th wind turbine installation in conjunction with its 10-year anniversary in the wind industry. Altogether, GE's 20,000-turbine fleet has the capacity to power the cities of Hong Kong and London for an entire year. "We couldn't have achieved this milestone without our development partners," said Vic Abate, vice president of renewable energy for GE. "Together, we have advanced wind to its current status as a relevant, reliable, competitive source of energy." In the U.S. and Europe, 40 percent of new power generation installations over the last four years have been wind. GE achieved its 10,000th turbine milestone in November 2008, its 15,000th in February 2011 and in 2012 celebrates its 20,000th installation. "We congratulate GE on this impressive achievement," said Jim Shield, Invenergy's executive vice president and chief development officer. "Our longstanding association has resulted in the installation of more than 2,000 GE wind turbines at Invenergy projects across the United States. As America's largest independent wind power generation company, we look forward to a continued, successful relationship with GE in the years to come."
The American Wind Energy Association has unveiled a set of recommended practices for offshore wind facilities in the U.S. AWEA's Recommended Practices for Design, Deployment and Operation of Offshore Wind Turbines in the United States was developed with the help of the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Commercial forests are increasingly used as sites for wind farms owned by regional initiatives. However, since air turbulence above treetops can be severe, the wind turbines installed there must be high enough to avoid the turbulence caused by the trees. The latest generation of wind turbines offers hub heights of 140 metres and higher, thereby also producing higher energy yields. Yet, the success of a wind power project stands and falls by reliable cost-benefit analyses and wind power forecasting.
Lithium vanadium phosphate batteries add vanadium to the cathode of electric vehicle batteries. The result is a power source capable of producing more than six times the power of the typical lithium-ion batteries in such electric vehicles as the Chevrolet Volt or the Nissan LEAF (210 watts of power as opposed to 33 watts).
International Rescue Group installed two of OutBack Power's FLEXmax 80 charge controllers on board the Thunderbird 2. In combination with a 1.5 kilowatt array of BenQ solar panels and large bank of L16 batteries, OutBack's charge controllers make International Rescue Group's flagship boat a model for the rest of the fleet.
Our platform is focused primarily on the commercial scale market, though we have some utility scale opportunities and are evaluating the residential sector. We have the capabilities to implement rooftop, ground mounted or parking canopy systems.
CBD Energy's merger with Westinghouse Solar aligns with our strategy to create a more highly diversified business and accelerate access to growth opportunities in the renewable energy sector globally and in the US. The merger offers an ideal platform for the expansion of CBD Energy's business in the US, the world's largest market, and plans for U.S. operations built around its core strengths in design, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of commercial solar projects; energy efficiency and storage technologies; and energy services.
Governors from states with wind farms and manufacturing plants to serve the industry called on Congressional leaders for an immediate extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC) that is set to expire at year’s end. The Governors’ Wind Coalition (GWC) is seeking at least a one-year extension of the PTC. Wind farms must be put into service by Dec. 31 to qualify for the 10-year subsidy. In a letter to Congressional leadership today, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber urged Congressional leadership “…to take swift action to extend the PTC before the end of this congressional session.” Gov. Branstad (R-Ia.) is the chairman of the coalition and Gov. Kitzhaber (D-Ore.) is the vice chairman. “Thousands of jobs in the wind industry have already been impacted by the credit’s looming expiration and thousands more are at risk,” the governors wrote. “We urge you to take swift action to extend the PTC before the end of this congressional session.”
China’s $20 billion solar industry is avoiding loan defaults and mergers by taking aid from local governments, preserving jobs at money-losing companies such as LDK Solar Co., the world’s second-biggest maker of solar cells. LDK agreed last month to sell a 19.9 percent stake to a renewable-energy investor part-owned by the city of Xinyu, home to its headquarters. Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP), the world’s largest solar-panel maker, got a $32 million loan in September organized partly by Wuxi, the city where it’s based. The aid helps as the companies prepare to report combined 2012 losses of $987 million, analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg show. The moves counter efforts by the central government to engineer mergers that create a handful of larger solar companies, said Jeremy Haft, founder of BChinaB Inc., a New York-based consulting company that specializes in Chinese business practices. The country has previously pushed consolidation to strengthen industries such as steel and coal. Provincial governments mostly want solar manufacturers “to keep the lights on and not lay people off,” Haft said. “There are a lot of people unemployed” in China and local government officials don’t want to see solar factories close up, he said.
European Union regulators ramped up their investigation of the Chinese solar panel industry on Thursday by accusing the Chinese government of unfairly subsidizing manufacturers of the panels. The latest step in an increasingly acrimonious battle engulfing the clean-energy sector came a day after the United States made a final decision to impose duties on billions of dollars of solar products from China over the next five years to shield producers against lower-priced imports. It also came after the government in Beijing said Monday that it had filed a case with the World Trade Organization accusing some E.U. countries of violating free trade rules with policies that favored the purchase of solar energy equipment produced in Europe.
"To date, the Obama Administration has created and supported pro-solar policies that have been vital to the success of the industry. Solar installations and jobs have risen dramatically throughout the U.S, while costs have fallen. Today, the solar industry employs more than 119,000 Americans at 5,600 companies, mostly small businesses, across all 50 states – this is more than double the number of Americans working in solar in 2009. "Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar powering homes, businesses, and military bases has grown by 400 percent – from 1,100 megawatts in 2008 to more than 5,700 megawatts today. The Administration enacted a policy allowing solar installations for the first time on public lands and set a goal to permit 10 gigawatts of additional renewable energy projects on public lands by the end of 2012, which has been a great driver of this growth. The U.S. now has enough installed solar capacity to power nearly a million households, and 2012 will be another year of record growth for our industry. "Policy certainty is crucial to continue the growing role of solar in America's energy mix. Stable policy frameworks at the federal and state level, including maintaining and expanding commitments to renewable energy initiatives, spur and leverage private sector investments in the solar industry to meet our nation's future energy needs."
China has given the go-ahead for the wind energy counterpart of its massive Three Gorges dam, the world's largest. The 1.4 gigawatt (GW) wind farm in Inner Mongolia will be the largest in the country so far. Each of seven wind farms that comprise the project will be built by different developers - Huadian, Guodian, Huaneng, Longyuan, CPI, Beijing Jingneng New Energy and Xiehe Wind Power - at a total cost of $2.18 billion. Construction should be finished by the end of next year. As of 2011, Inner Mongolia had 17.6 GW of wind, providing 13.8% of the city of Baotou's electricity. Another 10 GW of wind is planned for the area. Baotou is the largest city in Inner Mongolia with about 2.3 million residents. The Chinese wind industry has been languishing waiting for the transmission infrastructure to connect projects already built.
A solar cell made entirely from carbon, one of the most abundant elements on earth, has been developed for the first time by a research team from Stanford University. The discovery opens the door to much cheaper energy generation capabilities in the future. The results are published in the Oct. 31 online edition of the journal ACS Nano. Stanford Professor Zhenan Bao says: "Photovoltaics will definitely be a very important source of power that we will tap into in the future," said study senior author Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University . "We have a lot of available sunlight. We've got to figure out some way to use this natural resource that is given to us." Stanford University scientists have developed the first solar cell made entirely of carbon. This new solar cell promises a cheaper alternative to the expensive, silicon-based photovoltaic solar panels available today.
The world's largest offshore wind farm produced its first electricity on Monday around 20 kilometres off the east coast of Britain, boosting the country's position as the world's top offshore wind market. The first 151 wind turbines of the London Array project generated electricity for the first time and the remaining 24 will power up by the end of the year, owners DONG Energy (50 percent), E.ON (30 percent) and Masdar (20 percent) said. Britain aims to build around 30 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity at sea by 2020 to make use of high wind speeds for electricity generation to help meet the governments legally binding emissions reduction targets. Once the London Array project is fully operational at the end of the year, Britain will have nearly 3 GW of offshore wind capacity in operation. The London Array wind farm could be expanded to 870 MW if a second phase receives required permits, the owners said.
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