Emerging Nations Hit Record Clean Energy Investments

According to the new report Climatescope, developing nations have surpassed the world’s wealthiest countries in securing more renewable energy investments. Climatescope is a clean energy country competitiveness index, interactive report and online tool supported by the U.S., U.K. and Inter-American Development Bank Group. The report unveils a portrait of clean energy activity in 55 emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America Climatescope2015and the Caribbean. The group includes major developing nations China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as dozens of others. Energy solutions reviewed included solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, biomass, and other zero-carbon emitting technologies (excluding large hydro).

The news came shortly before a round of UN-organized climate negotiations kicked off in Paris prior to the start of COP21. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which released the report, says these talks often focus on the question of how much capital wealthier countries should make available to lesser developed countries to address the climate challenge.

Climatescope’s key findings include:

  • For the first time ever, over half of all new annual investment into clean energy power generating projects globally went toward projects in emerging markets, rather than toward wealthier countries.
  • New investment in renewables soared in 2014 in the 55 Climatescope countries assessed to hit a record annual high of $126bn – up $35.5bn, or 39%, from 2013 levels.
  • The results were substantially bolstered by the remarkable growth in China, which added 35GW of new renewable power generating capacity all on its own – more than the 2014 clean energy build in the US, UK, and France combined.
  • Meanwhile, “South-South” investment (funds deployed in Climatescope nations from banks or other financial institutions based in those countries) surged to $79bn in 2014 from $53bn the year prior.
  • Continuing declines in clean energy costs appear to be driving growth. Costs associated with solar photovoltaic power have ticked down 15% year-on-year globally. Solar is particularly competitive in emerging markets which often suffer from very high power prices from fossil generation while also enjoying very sunny conditions.
  • A total of 50.4 gigawatts (GW) of new clean capacity was built in Climatescope countries, marking a 21% uptick from the prior year. In another first, renewables capacity deployed in emerging markets topped that in wealthier Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations.
  • On a percentage basis, clean energy capacity is growing twice as quickly in Climatescope nations compared to OECD ones.

The report found that progress was achieved during 2014 despite a number of countries in the survey seeing economic growth rates slow. Average gross domestic product growth across Climatescope nations slipped to 5.7 percent in 2014 from 6.4 percent in 2013 with the slow-down most apparent in major nations, Brazil, South Africa, and China. Despite the pullback, these three countries attracted a total of $103bn in new clean energy investment in 2014.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Iberdrola Renewables announced it has resumed full construction of the El Cabo Wind Farm in Torrance County, New Mexico. The 298 MW project will feature up to 149 wind turbines and is slated for commercial operation in the second half of 2017. The on-site construction effort will now ramp back up, including civil and road work on the combined 56,000 acre project area comprised of private and state trust land managed by the New Mexico State Land Office.
  • The Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is hosting a webinar, “Advanced Energy Year in Review: Everything You Need to Know About Advanced Energy Policy in 2015,” on Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 1 pm ET. Robert Keough, AEE’s VP of Communications, will lead a virtual panel of advanced energy experts on key policy developments from around the country. The panel will share their insight on EPA’s Clean Power Plan, New York REV, net metering, FERC 745, RPS/EERS battles in the states, and California’s SB 350.
  • As part of Masdar’s Innovation Week activities, Masdar, BP and Masdar Institute launched The Catalyst, the region’s first technology startup accelerator focused on sustainability and clean tech. The Catalyst, which is supported by $5 million in funding from BP, will help startups accelerate their business through funding, training and mentorship.
  • Enerkem Inc., a waste-to-biofuels and chemicals producer, has been selected by the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Institut national de la propriété industrielle to take part in Solutions COP21, a major public event featuring innovative solutions put forward by some sixty companies from around the world to fight climate change. The Solutions COP21 exhibition will be held from December 4 to 11 at the Grand Palais in Paris, at the same time as the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.

Canada Commits to Greater Wind Energy Use

The Alberta government has made a commitment to use renewable energy to replace two-thirds of the electricity currently produced by coal-fired electricity generation. As part of this plan, the government has indicated that wind energy will be the primary source of this new energy mix. The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) applauded the news.

Photo Credit: Canadian Wind Energy Association

Photo Credit: Canadian Wind Energy Association

Wind energy is one of the most cost-competitive ways to generate new electricity in Alberta and Alberta is wise to draw on its tremendous wind energy resources to help replace coal-fired electricity in the province,” said CanWEA President Robert Hornung. “Wind energy can also ensure that greenhouse gas emission reductions in electricity generation are sustainable and long-term and can contribute to the creation of a low carbon electricity grid that can ultimately help reduce emissions in other sectors of the economy.”

CanWEA cites that while the new renewable energy targets are ambitious, they are achievable without negatively affecting the electricity grid. Today, wind energy supplies 4 percent of power needs but the organization says more than 10 countries and U.S. states have already seen wind energy contribute more than 15 percent and they believe Alberta’s ability will be no different.

“Alberta has said it will use an auction process to bring new renewable energy on-line and such competitive processes have been used successfully in many Canadian jurisdictions,” said Hornung. “Experience has shown that these processes are intensively competitive and ensure that ratepayers receive the lowest cost power.”

CanWEA looks forward to working with the Government of Alberta and key stakeholders on the detailed design and implementation of policy measures that will facilitate the deployment of high quality and cost-competitive new wind energy projects in the province.

Hornung added, “Alberta’s decision to move away from coal-fired electricity generation and dramatically increase its use of renewable energy reflects a trend happening in countries all over the world. More renewable energy in Alberta will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, clean the air, and produce significant new investment and jobs – particularly in rural areas of the province.”

GRID Alternatives Helps Bring Solar to Families in Need

Mitsubishi Electric Green Team volunteers, students from CSULB Disabled Student Services and GRID Alternatives project leader pose in front of a newly installed 3.24kW solar system in Los Angeles. (Photo: Business Wire)

Mitsubishi Electric Green Team volunteers, students from CSULB Disabled Student Services and GRID Alternatives project leader pose in front of a newly installed 3.24kW solar system in Los Angeles. (Photo: Business Wire)

When we think of Thanksgiving and helping those in need, many people take action to help provide food. Yet this holiday, thanks to GRID Alternatives, employees from Mitsubishi Electric and California State University Long Beach’s Disabled Student Services, two low-income families now have access to affordable, clean energy. The group installed solar electric systems with the PV modules donated by Mitsubishi Electric US.

While Mitsubishi Electric US donated 6kW of Diamond Premium high performance monocrystalline PV modules bundled with inverters donated by SolarEdge and racking donated by Orion Solar Racking, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation provided financial support for the installations with a grant to GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles. The solar package is bundled as the Diamond Kit as provides a simpler way for residential homeowners to install solar energy and save money. The grant provides hands-on training and education in renewable energy for the student volunteers, most of whom are interested in pursuing careers in the solar industry.

At the second installation, volunteers installed a 2.7kW solar system. (Photo: Business Wire)

At the second installation, volunteers installed a 2.7kW solar system. (Photo: Business Wire)

“We are pleased to extend our reach this year to two families in need,” said Gina Heng, vice president and general manager of Mitsubishi Electric U.S., Inc.’s Photovoltaic Division. “We appreciate the generosity of SolarEdge and Orion Solar Racking, and the leadership of GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles, for making these installations possible.”

The photovoltaic systems were installed in the homes of Edward Wong, a CSULB alumnus, and his family, of Los Angeles, and Zelmira Medina of East Los Angeles. “As a CSULB graduate, it was great to connect with these student volunteers from my alma mater,” said Mr. Wong. “On behalf of my family, I also want to thank all the companies for giving us the gift of solar energy for our new home.”

Kevin Webb, director of the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, added, “GRID Alternatives gave us the opportunity to further our mission to help youth with disabilities maximize their potential and participation in society. I’m impressed by the students’ interest in solar technology. We’re proud to continue our support of GRID Alternatives not only to help these students get practical experience in their chosen careers, but also to assist them to serve their community.”

Rubio Commits to Supporting RFS

At a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa this week, presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio committed to supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) through 2022. According to America’s Renewable Future (ARF), this is the most in-depth answer Sen. Rubio has given on the subject saying, “Whether you like it or not, it isn’t fair to yank away something in the middle of it, after people have invested in it based on an existing government program. So, what I have argued is since it is already in place until 2022, let it stay in place until 2022 to respect the investment that people have made.”

ARF Co-Chair Rep. Annette Sweeney, said of his remarks, “Sen. Rubio’s comments show that he has spent time learning about this issue and we’re glad to see that he understands that the government needs to keep a promise to the Main Street investments made with the RFS. We’re also thankful that he is committed to supporting the law through 2022 and certainly hope to hear more from him on the topic.”

Rubio recently received a “needs work” rating from ARF on its midterm report card. The comments from senator come following the airing of ARF’s digital ads calling on the senator to stand up for Iowa farmers and support the RFS.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Simply Voting Inc. has announced that it has chosen clean, pollution-free energy for its Canadian facilities through Bullfrog Power. Bullfrog’s green electricity comes from a blend of wind and low-impact hydro power sourced from new Canadian renewable energy facilities.
  • Harvest Power, Inc. has announced that it has received investor commitment for $20 million in new funding that will propel the company into its five-year growth plan. In addition, Christian G. Kasper has been appointed Harvest’s CEO, replacing Kathleen Ligocki who has recently accepted a CEO role at another company. Harvest Power creates a more sustainable future by helping communities across North America better manage and beneficially re-use their organic waste through the production of renewable energy, soils, mulches and natural fertilizers.
  • EDF Renewable Energy (EDF RE) has closed on the transaction to sell a 50 percent interest in the 194 MW Spinning Spur 3 Wind Project to a fund managed by BlackRock’s Infrastructure Investment Group. This transaction is the third of five signed agreements between BlackRock and EDF Renewable Energy to close. The remaining projects, Roosevelt (250 MW) and Milo (49.65 MW) wind projects, will close upon completion of construction and tax-equity financing.
  • Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) has announced that it has successfully acquired an 8% stake in TransAlta Renewables, Inc., an Alberta-based clean power generation company, for the purchase price of CAD $200 million from TransAlta Corporation. In doing so, AIMCo becomes the second largest shareholder in TransAlta Renewables. The transaction is expected to close on November 26, 2015.

Pilot Hill Wind Project Goes Online

The Pilot Hill Wind Project, a 175 MW wind farm located in Illinois, has begun commercial operations. The EDF Renewable Energy project was made possible through Microsoft Corporation’s commitment to purchase the power under a 20-year purchase power agreement. Pilot Hill will provide 100 percent of the energy needs of Microsoft’s data center.


Pilot Hill Wind Project in Illinois generating 175 MW.

EDF Renewable Energy is proud to partner with Microsoft to power its Illinois data center with 100% renewable energy, through the Pilot Hill Wind Project,” said Ryan Pfaff, executive vice president of EDF Renewable Energy. “Corporate America is increasingly turning to renewable energy to power its business operations, based both on consumer preferences and because renewable energy simply makes good business sense from a cost standpoint. Technology companies like Microsoft have been leading the way in this regard, and many other industries are beginning to follow suit.”

Located 60 miles southwest of Chicago in Kankakee and Iroquois counties, Pilot Hill commenced construction of its 103 General Electric (GE) wind turbines in September 2014. The facility will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 60,000 homes, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft, added, “Microsoft is excited to see renewable energy from Pilot Hill coming on line. We are strong supporters of green power, and projects like Pilot Hill are one way we are meeting our commitment to powering our data centers and operations with renewable energy.”

EDF Renewable Services will provide balance-of-plant operations and maintenance for the facility including 24/7 remote monitoring from its NERC compliant Operations Control Center (OCC).

Odor Wins Ethanol Racing Championship

Osceola, Iowa-based John Oder has taken the top spot in the Kearney Raceway Pro Class Points Championship driving his 1971 Dodge Challenger. Trailing by 60 points late in the event, Oder took the last two rounds to earn his second consecutive championship. Odor won six races in the 2015 season including his final three, and this year was his first competing with Ignite Fuel, a 90 percent ethanol and 10 percent gasoline racing blend.

John_Oder_KRP_Racer2“I remember thinking ‘Wow! I can’t believe I pulled this off,’” Oder said. “I didn’t think I had a chance of winning the championship again, but the car ran on the ‘number’ all weekend. It finally sank in the following week when I had time to think about the accomplishments and work I did figuring out the new fuel, carburetor and car setup.”

Odor made the change to Ignite Fuel when he was approached by Grady Koch, local farmer and Kearney Raceway Park investor.

“I wanted to supply a consistent ethanol-blended fuel for our racers and I needed a driver willing to give it a try,” Koch said. “Bringing in Ignite high performance racing fuel was a great decision for our track. We get a high quality, high octane blend of ethanol every time.”

Although Oder burns about 30 percent more fuel the economics still work in his favor. The race fuel he used previously cost more than $7.70 per gallon. Ignite Fuel has a 114 octane rating and is about $4 per gallon – about a 50 percent savings.

“I would recommend it to my fellow racers to improve horsepower, torque and consistency,” Oder said. “Ethanol fuel doesn’t corrode like straight methanol, so I was able to use all the same fuel system components.”

Koch is in negotiations now to bring Ignite Fuel to Nebraska circle tracks including Junction Motor Speedway in McCool and I-80 Speedway in Greenwood.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Genomatica and Braskem announced they have been successfully producing butadiene at lab scale since June 2015, using their direct, bio-based process. The companies are jointly developing a commercial process for the on-purpose production of butadiene made from renewable feedstocks, as announced in December 2013.
  • The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC), a program of West Virginia University, won three MarCom Awards in the 2015 international awards competition – one platinum, one gold, and one honorable mention. MarCom Awards is an international creative competition that recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communication professionals.
  • U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced $125 million across 41 cutting-edge energy technologies awarded by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). These new projects are funded under ARPA-E’s OPEN 2015 program and come in advance of the COP21 U.N. Climate Negotiations in Paris next week. The announcement was made at D.C. technology incubator 1776 at an event that focused on leveraging America’s top innovators to find technological solutions to combat climate change, enhance security and solve pressing energy challenges around the globe.
  • According to a new report from GTM Research and SoliChamba Consulting, Megawatt-Scale PV O&M and Asset Management 2015-2020: Services, Markets and Competitors, the global market for utility-scale PV operations and maintenance will reach 390 gigawatts by 2020, almost triple the estimated 133 gigawatts by the end of 2015.

Growth Energy Intros ‘Bachelor’ Chris Soules RFS Ad

During a press call this morning, Growth Energy launched a week-long TV ad campaign featuring Iowa Farmer Chris Soules of “The Bachelor” and “Dancing with the Stars” fame. The ad focuses on the economic benefits of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in rural America. The spot hits airwaves just days before the Obama Administration is due to announce its final rule on the RFS. The ad is airing in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana.

“I’m proud to be a part of something that protects something important to my family farm operation as well as thousands of others,” said Soules about why he became involved in efforts around promoting the positive benefits of the RFS. “I’ve been able to see first-hand the benefits of renewable fuels and how they affect my family’s enterprise and other families who haven’t even been involved in farming by providing jobs in clean energy that helps our country diversify our energy resources.”

Soules noted that in light of the recent events in Paris, it re-emphases the need for the U.S. to become energy independent with a diversified energy portfolio.

Soules was joined on the call by Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy who noted that the RFS is a great American success story.

“We know our opposition is out there saying anything and doing anything in every possible way to keep the administration from rolling out an implementation of the volumetric standards of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 that are beneficial to this great nation,” said Buis.

The RFS proposal, as it currently stands, contains volumes that are below the legislative mandate. Biofuel supporters have been working to get the volumes back on track and moving forward as the law intended. Buis also noted that many eyes are on Paris for COP21 to see how countries, including America, identify strategies to reduce carbon emissions. Buis said the RFS has been a successful policy in doing just this.

Listen to the full press call here: Growth Energy-Chris Soules Ad Press Call