Sustainable Energy News Summaries - June 15, 2008
Below please find summaries of sustainable energy news stories from the past week. The news stories address developments in renewable energy and energy efficiency particularly as they present solutions to climate change, rising energy costs, expanding energy imports, and nuclear power. You may find some of these stories of use to you in your own work.
This compilation was prepared by the SUN DAY Campaign which publishes a longer, daily compliation of such stories. If you are interested in becoming a member of the SUN DAY Campaign, please see the information attached.
The news stories summarized below do not necessarily reflect the views of either the SUN DAY Campaign or the Sustainable Energy Network.
1.) Poll Reports 94% of Americans Say It's Important for the U.S. to Develop and Use Solar Energy:
Solar Energy Industries Association, June 10, 2008
A vast majority of Americans, across all political parties, overwhelmingly support development and funding of solar energy. These findings were reported today in the SCHOTT Solar Barometer, a nationally representative survey conducted by the independent polling firm, Kelton Research.
- 98% of Independents, 97% of Democrats, and 91% of Republicans support development of solar.
- 74% of Independents, 72% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans favor extension of Federal tax credits for renewable technologies.
- 77% of Americans feel Federal government should make solar power development a national priority
2.) As Energy Costs Soar, US Looks to Solar:
Reuters, June 9, 2008
After decades on the fringe, solar power is closing in on America's mainstream as surging fossil fuel prices and mounting concern over climate change spur states, businesses and homeowners into a quickening embrace with alternative energy. Solar's high costs have kept the resource out of reach for many residences and businesses. But not for long, industry analysts and scientists say. The tipping point at which the world's cleanest, most renewable resource is cost-competitive with other sources of energy on electricity grids could happen within two to five years in some US regions and countries if the price of fossil fuels continues to rise at its current pace, they add.
3.) Duke Energy Launches Solar Power Generation Plan:
SolarBuzz.com, June 9, 2008
Duke Energy Carolinas is proposing a $100 million plan to install electricity generating solar panels at up to 850 North Carolina sites including homes, schools, stores and factories. Last Friday, the company filed an application with the North Carolina Utilities Commission asking for approval to implement this solar distributed generation program. If the program is approved by regulators, Duke Energy Carolinas would spend two years installing approximately 20 megawatts of distributed solar generation on rooftops of customer businesses and homes or on ground sites within the company's North Carolina service area.
4.) Brighter Future for Solar Panels - Silicon Shortage Eases; New Factories Could End a Production Logjam But Consumers May Not See Prices Drop Before 2010:
Christian Science Monitor, by Ben Arnoldy, June 5, 2008
The silicon shortage may be coming to an end thanks to new factories coming online. If true, the price for solar panel modules could start falling by as much as a third by 2010. Global demand for solar panels is growing at about 50 percent per annum but the polysilicon supply for solar will grow by 80 percent for each of the next couple of years. But most panelmakers are locked into long-term contracts with polysilicon suppliers. Most purchases aren’t happening on the spot market, where polysilicon prices have dropped from a high of roughly $475 a kilogram to around $400 today. So analysts expect a lag time before large, established panelmakers can pass along savings.
5.) Delmarva Power Aims to Meet Delaware’s Clean Energy Goals - Utility Signs a Third Long-Term Agreement for Low Cost Wind Power:
BusinessWire, June 9, 2008
Delmarva Power and Arlington, Virginia-based energy supplier AES Corporation have signed a long-term contract under which Delmarva Power would purchase up to 70 megawatts of land-based wind power to help meet its renewable energy goals in Delaware. This latest contract, combined with earlier signed contracts with Annapolis, Md.-based Synergics Wind Energy, is part of a larger portfolio of wind energy designed to meet Delaware’s clean energy goals for 20 percent of the utility’s energy supply to come from renewable sources by 2019.
6.) Wisconsin Power and Light Company To Expand Wind Generation:
RenewableEnergyWorld.com, June 10, 2008
Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation has filed a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for the Bent Tree Wind Farm, a proposed wind farm in Freeborn County, Minnesota. The project has the potential to produce up to 400 megawatts (MW) of energy. WPL's CPCN application seeks PSCW approval to develop approximately 200 MW of wind power on the site beginning in 2009. A decision regarding the development of the wind farm's additional 200 MW has not yet been made.
7.) Idaho Power Turns to Wind, Geothermal, and Gas to Meet Needs of Customers:
Idaho Statesman, June 8, 2008
Idaho Power Co. is embarking on an ambitious program to build new transmission lines, natural gas power plants, and wind and geothermal facilities to meet growing demand. The company has aggressively sought contracts with wind power generators and could have 360 megawatts of wind power capacity by 2009. That would be about 12 percent of Idaho Power's power supply, and the company also has plans to add 45.5 megawatts of geothermal power by 2011.
8.) Clear Skies Solar to Develop $44 Million Solar Farm in Cantil, California
34 Acres of Purchased Land Will House 8MW Solar Photovoltaic Farm:
Centre Daily times, June 10, 2008
Clear Skies Solar, Inc., (a leading provider of turnkey solar electricity installations and renewable energy solutions), announced today the purchase of 34 acres of land in Cantil, California -- the future site of a $44 million 8MW solar farm. The 34-acre farm will produce electricity that will be sold under a legal contract known as a Power Purchase Agreement, between Clear Skies Solar and the local utility company. Under this contract, the electricity produced at the farm will be sold for 20 years to the utility company at approximately $0.12 per kWh escalating at approximately 1% per annum.
9.) San Francisco Board of Supervisors Passes Solar Incentive Plan:
SolarBuzz.com, June 11, 2008
A ten-year solar incentive program passed out of the Board of Supervisors yesterday and now just needs approval of the Mayor to pass in to law. The Solar Energy Incentive Program is expected to be operational in the coming weeks with an initial budget of $3 million which is planned to result in 1.5 MW of solar. The program will is intended to reduce the cost to install solar panels on residential and commercial properties. A one-year pilot program would budget $1.5 million to buildings owned and operated by nonprofit organizations and low-income single and multifamily residential applicants. The program will fund solar incentives ranging from $3,000-$6,000 for residents, up to $10,000 for businesses that install solar and up to $30,000 for non-profit affordable housing.
10.) Arizona's Largest Biomass Plant Now Providing Electricity to Thousands of Customers:
Associated Press, June 10, 2008
Arizona's second and largest biomass plant began providing electricity to 9,000 homes on Tuesday. The 24-megawatt plant about 130 miles northeast of Phoenix in Snowflake is generating electricity with material from forest-thinning efforts in the White Mountains and with unusable, recycled paper fibers from a nearby paper mill.
11.) North Dakota's Biggest Wind Farm Gets Regulatory Green Light:
Energy Prospects, June 10, 2008
Construction of a 200-MW development with some 133 wind turbines spread over 77 square miles just east of North Dakota's Lake Ashtabula has received regulatory approval. When operational by year-end, it will be the state's largest wind farm. The $350-million project includes $15 million for a 9.5-mile high-voltage transmission line to transmit power to locales east of Lake Ashtabula in Barnes County in the southeastern part of the state. The remaining $335 million will be devoted to building the wind farm.
12.) Looking to Tap into the Power of Hot Springs:
Colorado Springs Gazettte, by R. Scott Rappold, June 1, 2008
For the first time since the energy crisis of the 1970s, geothermal electricity production is getting a serious look in Colorado, and Mt. Princeton Geothermal LLC hopes to build the first plant, near the hot springs. Because of its geology, Colorado has some of the greatest potential in the nation for geothermal energy, and the Mount Princeton project has the support of the Governor's Energy Office. It could generate 10 megawatts or more, enough to power about 5,000 homes.
13.) New York Power Authority Announces Pivotal Step to Provide Clean Renewable Power For Rebuilt World Trade Center:
New York Power Authority, June 11, 2008
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) today announced that it has reached an agreement that will make the redeveloped World Trade Center the site of one of the largest fuel cell installations in the world. The agreement, valued at $10.6 million, was reached with UTC Power of South Windsor, Conn., for equipment purchases to provide heat and power for the new towers. The fuel cells, totaling 4.8 megawatts (mw) of generating capacity, will provide an on-site supplement to the renewable power and other clean energy the rebuilt World Trade Center will receive via power lines from off-site sources. Together with design measures to minimize energy use, the “green” power arrangements will make the Freedom Tower and three other towers that are part of the Trade Center a model for environmentally friendly energy and for energy efficiency.
14.) Toyota Doubles the Range of its Fuel Cell Vehicle:
EERE Network News, June 11, 2008
Toyota Motor Corporation has developed a new version of its fuel cell hydrogen vehicle (FCHV) that can travel about 515 miles on a single refueling. The extended range of the vehicle makes it much more practical for use in the United States. Even in places like California, which is developing a "Hydrogen Highway" of fueling stations, the refueling opportunities remain few and far between. However, the Toyota FCHV-adv should be able to make it from the company's fuel station in Torrance to its demonstration site in Davis, a distance of about 400 miles.
15.) Reviving Nuclear Is No Solution for Energy or Climate Crisis, Lovins Says:
Energy Prospects, by Jude Noland, June 10, 2008
New nuclear power will reduce and retard climate solutions because it provides about two to 11 times less solution per dollar [spent] -- tens of times slower than if we spent the same money and time on micropower and efficiency, Amory Lovins told reporters during a June 4 conference call announcing the report's findings. Micropower -- which includes on-site electricity generation, usually through cogeneration and recovery of waste heat, and distributed renewables -- already out-produces nuclear power worldwide and is growing more quickly. RMI's new report, "The Nuclear Illusion" can be found at: http://www.rmi.org/images/PDFs/Energy/E08-01_AmbioNuclIlusion.pdf
16.) Fact Sheet - Gas Prices and Oil Consumption Would Increase Without Biofuels:
U.S. Department of Energy, June 11, 2008
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that gasoline prices would be between 20 cents to 35 cents per gallon higher without ethanol, a first-generation biofuel. For a typical household, that means saving about $150 to $300 per year. For the U.S. overall, this saves gas expenditures of $28 billion to $49 billion based on annual gasoline consumption of roughly 140 billion gallons. Without biofuels, DOE estimates that the United States would have to use 7.2 billion more gallons of gasoline in 2008 in order to maintain current levels of travel (a 5 percent increase). DOE scientists found that corn ethanol from the U.S. reduced greenhouse gas emission 19 percent compared with gasoline, when the full “life cycle” of the fuel is considered – from growing it to producing the fuel and burning it. DOE scientists estimate that 13 million tons of greenhouse gases were avoided in 2007 due to biofuels production and use.
17.) PG&E Contracts Solar Thermal-Biomass Hybrid Power:
Reuters, June 12, 2008
California utility PG&E Corp said on Wednesday it has contracted with a renewable energy unit of Portuguese conglomerate Martifer for 106.8 megawatts (MW) of solar thermal-biofuel hybrid power. Two projects, which will provide enough power for nearly 75,000 homes in northern and central California, combine solar thermal technology with steam turbines powered by gas produced by local agricultural waste and livestock manure. Martifer's hybrid technology attempts to solve the problem of solar intermediancy by using biomass gas to allow the solar thermal plants to keep running even when the sun is not shining. The projects are expected to begin operations in 2011.
18.) New Merrill Lynch Report Confirms Overall Benefit of Domestic Ethanol for the Family Budget - Estimated Savings of More than $500 a Year:
Renewable Fuels Association, June 12, 2008
According to a new analysis by Merrill Lynch Commodity Strategist Francisco Blanch, “retail gasoline prices would be $21/bbl higher, on average, without the incremental biofuel supply.” This translates to a $526 a year savings on gasoline for the average family. Blanch also calculates that U.S. ethanol production has increased corn prices by just 21% since 2004. Because a very small portion of the price of corn is passed through to retail food items, this means ethanol has increased household spending on retail food items by just $15 per year. According to a wide range of experts, skyrocketing oil prices, increased global demand for meat and grains from China and elsewhere, commodity speculators, the declining value of the dollar and droughts and bad weather account for approximately 80 percent of corn costs.
19.) Hydropower - America's Leading Renewable Energy Resource Has Bright Future:
National Hydropower Association, June 13, 2008
A recent report by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) found 90,000 MW of untapped generation potential from hydropower and new waterpower technologies across the United States. This could produce enough energy to serve the needs of 22 cities the size of Washington, DC. For conventional hydropower, opportunities include capacity gains and efficiency improvements at existing facilities, new small hydropower projects, and new facilities installed on existing non-powered dams. Currently pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are license applications for 430 megawatts of conventional hydropower capacity and 900 megawatts of pumped storage capacity. Another 448 megawatts of conventional hydropower and 2,783 megawatts of pumped storage are before the Commission in the pre-filing stage, before a license application is submitted.
20.) Toyota Promises Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle by 2010:
Associated Press, by Yuri Kageyama, June 11, 2008
Toyota is introducing a plug-in hybrid with next-generation lithium-ion batteries in Japan, the U.S. and Europe by 2010, under a widespread strategy to be green outlined Wednesday. The ecological gas-electric vehicles, which can be recharged from a home electrical outlet, will target leasing customers, Toyota Motor Corp. said. Such plug-in hybrids can run longer as an electric vehicle than regular hybrids, and are cleaner.
21.) Pacific Gas & Electric Investing Billions to Support Plug-In Cars:
Reuters, June 13, 2008
Peter Darbee, the chief executive of California utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co, said on Wednesday that his company is investing billions of dollars in developing the infrastructure necessary to support plug-in hybrid vehicle technology. Darbee stressed the importance of incentive pricing and a "smart electric grid" that would allow and encourage customers to charge their vehicles during off-peak hours, increasing the stability of the system. Vehicle to grid technology, which would allow cars to communicate with the utility in order to pick the most cost-effective time to charge, is still 10 to 20 years away, he said. This technology would also allow the power supply to be reversed, giving a vehicle the capability to provide power to a home.
22.) In Tennessee, New Nuclear Plants Get More Expensive:
Chattanooga Times Free Press, by Dave Flessner, June 11, 2008
At a cost of more than $6.2 billion when it was completed in 1996, TVA’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant is both the newest and most expensive nuclear reactor ever built in the United States. But rising costs for everything from cement to steel are threatening to shatter that cost record for the next generation of nuclear power plants. Despite streamlined licensing requirements and more advanced engineering and design, the latest projected costs for some of the next generation of nuclear reactors are double some initial estimates made five years ago. Other utilities are projecting even higher costs to develop and finance similar reactors. Moody’s Investors Service estimated last year that the cost of a new 1,000-megawatt reactor even smaller than what TVA wants to build at Bellefonte will cost between $5 billion and $6 billion. Florida Power & Light estimates the cost of adding new units at Turkey Point nuclear plant could range from $6.5 billion up to $12 billion per reactor, according to a March filing with Florida regulators.
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