Renewables Tax Extensions up for Vote, Senate considers amendment

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal that would extend renewable energy tax incentives and restore the cash grant program that saved the industry during the depths of the recession. The proposals are included in an amendment offered by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who introduced Senate Amendment 1812, which would extend the production tax credit (PTC) for one year, until the end of 2013, as well as extend the 1603 investment tax credit, the 48(C) manufacturing tax credit, in addition to including biodiesel and other provisions. Amendment 1812 includes several provisions, including credits for biofuels and advanced manufacturing tax breaks. But the parts of most interest to renewables are a one-year extension of the PTC for wind energy and a restoration of the “cash grants in lieu of the credit” which expired at the end of last year.

Solar Panel Sales Seen Dropping First Time in Decade

Fewer solar panels will be installed this year as the first drop in more than a decade worsens a glut of the unsold devices that’s already slashed margins at the top five manufacturers, an analyst survey showed. Homes and businesses will put up 24.8 gigawatts of solar panels worldwide, according to the average of six forecasts compiled by Bloomberg News. That’s equal to the power of about 20 nuclear reactors and down 10 percent from the 27.7 gigawatts added last year. Installations have grown 61 percent a year on average since 1999, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates. The decline would be the first since Germany began offering premium rates for solar power in 2004, opening the way for mass, utility-scale installations. It will exacerbate price-cutting and a surge in inventories that last year forced Solyndra LLC into bankruptcy, prompted SunPower Corp. to seek a buyout and gutted margins at top manufacturers led by Suntech Power Holdings Co. and First Solar Inc. Read full article:

Spain Blows Away Monthly Wind Energy Record

This February, a record 21.7 percent of Spain’s electricity came from wind power. The 4,890 gigawatt-hours of electricity generated from wind made it the country’s third-largest source of energy in the month, after coal and nuclear power plants, according to Red Eléctrica de España (REE). Although Spain has poured signficant money, in the form of feed-in tariffs, into solar power development, Europe has been experiencing a severely cold winter, where wind power can thrive. By using its wind turbines instead of fossil fuels to supply electricity, Spanish electricity prices fell to €51/MWh during the first two weeks of February while in neighboring France electricity cost €105/MWh. During that time, wind provided a whopping 28.9 percent of Spain’s electricity. Read full article:

Volt production halted; 1,300 workers out of work

Facing a significant backlog of unsold inventory, General Motors will shut down production of the Chevrolet Volt for five weeks. The maker has notified 1,300 workers at the GM plant in Detroit that they will be idled from March 19 through April 23 while assembly operations are idled. But the maker insists the latest setback is not a sign of long-term problems for the plug-in hybrid, noting that Volt sales in February jumped 70 percent over the prior month. “We’re going to do what we need to the keep production in line with what the market demands,” said GM spokesperson Michelle Malcho. She noted that demand has been recovering in the wake of reports, late last year, that several Volt battery packs had caught fire following federal crash tests. Read Full Article here:

A New Generation Grid-Inverter

The high AC and DC voltages have the advantage that line losses can be reduced almost everywhere in the system. Firstly, in the inverter, which forms the part of efficiency gain, and secondly the cable losses in the PV installation, which will be significantly lowered. In addition, the installation costs for cabling and the associated costs are reduced.

Grid Parity

Grid parity happens when large scale solar can compete with, or beat wholesale pricing from coal plants, the nuclear facilities and combined cycle natural gas.

Sorting out the Subsidies

Subsidies for fossil fuel industries discourages investments in renewable projects and cleaner forms of energy.

North American Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Installations Surge in Q4'11

Region set for more than 60% growth in 2012; Downstream companies will need to adapt to changes in end-market

U.S. Goes from Net Exporter to Net Importer of Solar Products in One Year;

The United States' once-vaunted solar-industry trade surplus with China disappeared between 2010 and 2011, according to findings released today by the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM). The U.S. solar industry had an estimated $1.6 billion trade deficit with China in 2011, after enjoying an estimated $250 million to $540 million surplus in 2010. CASM's findings are based on data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), as well as a prior study by GTM Research. "This new data, drawn from official government sources, finally buries the Chinese importers' tired, shop-worn and factually incorrect talking point that the U.S. solar industry has a trade surplus with China," said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the largest U.S. manufacturer of solar cells and panels. "Chinese importers often claim that the modest U.S. trade surplus in 2010 proved that China is not threatening the U.S. solar industry and economy. But it is no longer 2010, and any trade surplus is history. Illegal dumping by massively subsidized Chinese solar producers, combined with curbed exports of polysilicon and manufacturing equipment, are decimating U.S. solar manufacturers, the supply chain and their export business." Read Full Press Release here:  

Army Kicks Off $7 Billion Alternative Energy Project

The Army issued a draft request for proposals today to purchase over a 30-year period $7 billion worth of power generated from alternative energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. Katherine Hammock, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, announced plans for the project last year to support the service's goal of having installations produce more energy than they consume. The Army Corps of Engineers' Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Ala., which is managing the procurement, said the alternative energy power generation plants will be located on or near federal property. Hammond said last year that the Army would support their development by leasing land on installations, and the draft RFP backs this up with language that says the service endorses "the procurement of large scale renewable energy generated on or near Army land."

Siemens Blindsided by China Wind Boom Plans ‘Massive' Investment

Siemens AG (SIE), the world’s largest maker of offshore wind turbines, said it underestimated the pace of growth in the Chinese wind market and will ramp up spending to catch up as local competitors increase their lead. “We’re investing massively in research and development and to make use of economies of scale in production,” Felix Ferlemann, head of Siemens’s wind-power business, said in response to e-mailed questions. “We were somewhat taken by surprise by the strong growth of the Chinese market.” China led the world in installing wind-power capacity last year. Munich-based Siemens is working to keep pace in the country, where it’s lagging behind suppliers such as Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS), while competition puts pressure on prices. Profitability at Siemens’s renewable-energy unit was wiped out last year, calling into question Chief Executive Officer Peter Loescher’s strategy of focusing more on green technologies. Read Full Article:

Aquion Energy Selects Pennsylvania for First Large-Scale Manufacturing Facility

Aquion Energy Inc., a developer and manufacturer of revolutionary sodium ion batteries and energy storage systems, today announced it has chosen Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania as the site for its first full-scale manufacturing facility. "After considering all of our options, including aggressive offers from a number of other U.S. states, we concluded that southwestern Pennsylvania is the best location for Aquion to establish its first high-volume manufacturing operation" Starting in 2012, Aquion will be leasing space within a large existing facility in East Huntingdon Township from the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania (RIDC). The build-out of the base facility and factory infrastructure will begin immediately and continue throughout 2012. Initial product manufacturing is scheduled to commence in 2013. As part of a first phase manufacturing commitment at this site, Aquion expects to create over 400 high-tech manufacturing jobs by the end of 2015. Click here for full Press Release  

Fuel Cell Benefits Drive Repeat Customers

Companies might be trying fuel cells to portray a green image, or to stay on the cutting edge of technology. They become repeat customers because the technology works and saves money over incumbent systems. As our reports show, there is a business case for fuel cells. With corporate, government, and international interest, fuel cell deployments are sure to grow even more over the next few years.

Case Study - Northwest Washington Electrical Industry Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee

The project was designed in-house by myself and engineering and structural fabrication was completed by Crystalite of Everett, WA. Installation was done by staff here at the training center - all electricians.

Improving Performance and Reducing Maintenance of CSP Systems with Copolymers

Chamelic is a spin-out company from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Leeds. Chamelic Ltd was established in February 2006 to exploit innovative chemicals discovered and developed at the Institute Particle Science and Engineering (IPSE).

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