Nature Conservancy Looks to Bird Friendly Wind

The Nature Conservancy has installed the first phase of a bird friendly wind power project. The project is taking place in Palmyra, a national wildlife refuge located in Hawaii, where more than a million nesting seabirds call home. With low wind speeds, traditional wind turbines would have low output, plus, says the Conservancy, conventional wind turbines pose a risk of bird strikes. Thus, the group selected INVELOX, a funnel-based wind power technology developed by SheerWind.

Nature Conservancy/ U.S. Fish Wildlife's Palmyra Atoll by A. Purves (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

Nature Conservancy/ U.S. Fish Wildlife's Palmyra Atoll by A. Purves (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

The custom system is designed to mirror an hourglass laying on its side. Extending 83 feet horizontally with a big wind scoop at one end, an exhaust on the other, a Venturi section in the middle increases wind speed potentially three to six times. Nets over the intake and enclosed blades keep it bird friendly. The first phase of the installation includes a single turbine inside the Venturi, allowing for two additional to be installed.

The first phase of the INVELOX project is successfully charging batteries at night, says The Nature Conservancy, and on cloudy days to supplement the photovoltaic system also installed on Palmyra.

INVELOX on Palmyra Atoll by Cindy Coker (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

INVELOX on Palmyra Atoll by Cindy Coker (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

“With a goal to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, SheerWind’s INVELOX was the only viable solution for the multiple restrictions including height, wind speeds, and of course bird populations. This solution works and helped bring the goal to reduce fossil fuel use a reality,” said The Nature Conservancy’s David Sellers, who is the driving force behind the design solution and details of the INVELOX installation.

Palmyra Atoll is located 1,000 miles south of Hawaii in the vast equatorial Pacific, and hosts spectacular coral reef and tropical island ecosystems, but is a challenge for humans to inhabit. There are no commercial flights to this remote outpost, which is co-owned and managed as a scientific research station and national wildlife refuge by The Nature Conservancy and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Until the recent installation of wind and solar, Palmyra was run on diesel fuel generators. These installations reduced its dependence on fossil fuels by 95 percent according to The Nature Conservancy.

“We are grateful for David Sellers and The Nature Conservancy’s commitment to installing the first commercial system in an extremely challenging location. We are pleased we were able to contribute to this important achievement and hope this is an example to be duplicated globally,” added Dr. Daryoush Allaei, founder and CTO of SheerWind.

U.S. Senate Votes to Extend Federal Tax Credits

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has voted 23-3 to extend over 50 tax policies through 2016, including the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that helps to encourage the development of more renewable energy projects including wind. To qualify for the credits, construction of a product must begin while the tax programs are in place.

The credits has expired at the start of this year, and according to Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the action threw “the future of American wind energy into doubt once projects currently under construction are completed”.

© Hongtao926 | Dreamstime.com - Wind Turbines Photo

© Hongtao926 | Dreamstime.com – Wind Turbines Photo

“This is a big step in the right direction,” said Kiernan. “We applaud the committee’s vote because it recognizes that the vast majority of American voters support these policies and want them continued. We urge the full Senate and the House of Representatives to follow the Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan lead, and quickly pass this tax extenders package, which will continue to grow American jobs and heavy manufacturing, and support rural economic growth.”

Kiernan said the federal PTC and ITC are predominant drivers of new wind farm development, and have helped lower the cost of American wind power by more than half over the last five years, while making the U.S. number one in the world in wind energy production.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in the hearing regularly acknowledged the strong sense of bipartisan support for renewing the tax extenders package. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Dan Coats (R-IN), and Rob Portman (R-OH) withdrew amendments opposing the PTC, while Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO) made the senators aware of the tremendous amounts of economic benefits and jobs wind power has created in Colorado. Continue reading

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1The UK will remain the leading offshore wind power market globally by 2025, with its installed capacity increasing from 4.5 Gigawatts (GW) in 2014 to 23.2 GW by the end of the forecast period, representing an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 30.5%, says research and consulting firm GlobalData. The company’s latest report states that the UK accounted for a significant 51.3% share of global offshore capacity in 2014. Denmark and Germany followed, with respective shares of 14.5% and 11.9%.
  • Samsung Renewable Energy, Connor, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure and Six Nations of the Grand River have announced the completion of construction of the 100 MW Grand Renewable Solar Project, the largest operating solar energy project of its kind in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Construction of the project began in September 2013 and was completed on schedule by a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian Solar Inc.
  • IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Industrial Development Corporation of Zambia to explore development of two 50 MW solar PV independent power projects in Zambia through the Scaling Solar program. The projects would be Zambia’s first utility scale PV projects, providing competitively priced, clean power that would reduce Zambia’s dependence on hydro resources and diversify the country’s energy supply mix.
  • Geostellar, an online solar energy marketplace, has announced it has patented an invention for programmatically placing solar panels on rooftops or tracts of land in a 3D virtual world and simulating production over a typical meteorological year based on shading, slope and orientation. The invention forms the basis for Geostellar’s instant Solar Profile, which describes the economic benefits of solar energy for each individual home based on its unique attributes.

Mid-Year Renewable Energy Check-Up

Heading in to the second half of 2015, renewable energy accounted for nearly 70 percent of new electrical generation for the firs six months as reported by the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects. The report finds wind accounts for more than half (50.64%) of the 1,969 MW of new installed capacity. Solar accounted for 549 MW, bimomass with 128 MW, geothermal with 45 MW and hydropower with 21 MW. The rest of the new capacity was added using natural gas (1,173 MW).

© Metalmaster | Dreamstime.com - Solar Panels Photo

© Metalmaster | Dreamstime.com – Solar Panels Photo

FERC reported no new capacity for the year-to-date from oil or nuclear power and just 3 MW from one unit of coal. Thus, as calculated by the SUN DAY Campaign, new capacity from renewable energy sources during the first half of 2015 is 904 times greater than that from coal and more than double that from natural gas. For June alone, wind (320 MW), biomass (95 MW), and solar (62 MW) provided 97 percent of new capacity with natural gas providing the balance (15 MW).

Renewable energy sources now account for 17.27 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water – 8.61 percent, wind – 5.84 percent, biomass – 1.40 percent, solar – 1.08 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.34 percent (for comparison, renewables were 16.28 percent of capacity in June 2014 and 15.81% in June 2013).

Renewable electrical capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.20%) and oil (3.87%) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power alone has now surpassed that of oil. On the other hand, sources the SUN DAY Campaign, generating capacity from coal has declined from 28.96 percent in mid-2013 to 26.83 percent today.

“With Congress now debating whether to extend the federal tax incentives for renewable energy sources, it is reasonable to ask whether the American public has gotten a good return on these investments to date,” noted Ken Bossong, executive eirector of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The latest FERC data confirms that the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’.”

Corn Growers: Build it and They Will Come

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has announced an additional $500,000 investment in Prime the Pump, a program that is expanding midlevel ethanol fueling infrastructure. The latest funds brings NCGA’s annual commitment in the program to $2 million. The organizations overseeing the E15-Blender-Pump-in-Cresco-IowaPrime the Pump program will use the monies as matching funds to secure grants under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USFA) Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership. The USDA has allocated $100 million in grants.

“The nation’s corn farmers have shown their commitment to domestically produced, clean burning ethanol repeatedly over the last 30 years and, when needed, have put their money where their mouth is,” said Chip Bowling, president of NCGA and a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “Consumers should have fuel options that include cleaner burning ethanol and this investment will allow us to continue to move forward toward that important goal.”

Prime the Pump is aimed at retailers with high volumes and multiple locations. Retailers have to commit to a five-year marketing program, E15 must be offered at all dispensers under the canopy, signage on the street must include E15 and retailers must agree to actively promote the fuel.

“Big Oil and others opposed to ethanol keep setting up road blocks, so we need to work all the more to ensure domestic renewable ethanol moves forward,” added Bowling. “Family corn farmers are faced with the lowest corn prices in more than a decade and increased ethanol utilization is an efficient way to turn that around and help the U.S. economy and environment at the same time.”

Media Communication Tips for BioEnergy

I had the opportunity to facilitate a lively discussion on effective stakeholder messaging during the BioEnergy 2105 conference. “Reaching Your Stakeholders: Effectively Engaging and Educating Key Audiences,” discussed success stories, best practices and lessons learned that have helped to improve public perception of bioenergy at all levels. The panel featured: Melissa Savage, Senior Program Director with the National Association of State Energy Officials; Aaron Wells, Communications Consultant for Fuels America; Wendy Rosen, Leader, Global Public Affairs for DuPont Industrial Biosciences; and Emily York, Vice President of Communications for Abengoa.

BioEnergy 2015 communication panaelists. From left to right: Melissa Savage, Senior Program Director with the National Association of State Energy Officials; Joanna Schroeder, Editor, DomesticFuel.com;Wendy Rosen, Leader, Global Public Affairs for DuPont Industrial Biosciences; Aaron Wells, Communications Consultant for Fuels America; and Emily York, Vice President of Communications for Abengoa.

BioEnergy 2015 communication panaelists. From left to right: Melissa Savage, Senior Program Director with the National Association of State Energy Officials; Joanna Schroeder, Editor, DomesticFuel.com;Wendy Rosen, Leader, Global Public Affairs for DuPont Industrial Biosciences; Aaron Wells, Communications Consultant for Fuels America; and Emily York, Vice President of Communications for Abengoa.

The discussion kicked off with acknowledging that perception is reality and the industry needs to change its perception a bit. One way to do this is to tell the story the right way. Oftentimes, however, public relations professionals don’t provide enough information for journalists to make a valid assessment of the story. Rather, a company needs to package all they want to say. The hook is critical because this will entice a reporter to want to tell the story or a person seeking information what to hear the story. Once you have a journalist hooked, tell the story through the lens of one person, an engineer or farmer, for example. Include visuals – photography, videos and infographics. Also, be mindful of using too much jargon – this is a story killer.

As a journalist, I appreciate the advice of the panelists in telling the story. I receive dozens of press releases each day and some are so horribly written that I delete them even though I know there is probably a good story hidden somewhere in the jargon. On days there is too much news, the stories I focus on have not only a good story but also visuals to accompany that story (and no, a logo is not the visual us reporters are looking for). Another good piece of advice, pitching a few strategic stories is better than flooding the market. If you send me an email or release every day, I’m going to start ignoring you and ultimately miss a great story.

Some other helpful advice from the panelists: Continue reading

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Renewable Edge has reached a milestone by installing its 1000th Integrated Wireless Solar Payphone Power Supply System Kit to New York City payphones. The patent pending technology replaces the utility grid power connection previously needed to operate New York City payphones with a solar powered battery system powering wireless routers that communicate with existing cell towers. The Solar Kit system turns the payphones into coin operated cell phones without any dependence on utility power lines.
  • MMA Energy Capital has entered into a joint venture with affiliates of Fundamental Advisors, LP, a leading alternative asset manager, that will provide capital for the development and construction of solar power projects located throughout the United States. The joint venture will operate under the name Solar Construction Lending, LLC and will be administered by MMA Energy Capital.
  • DEINOVE has unveiled a bio-based muconic acid production program. This promising proof of concept has been completed for the effective production of muconic acid by Deinococcus bacteria from a variety of renewable sugar sources. The market size and their growth outlook, combined with an unmet demand for bio-based solutions, have led Deinove to structure and initiate a specific R&D program focused on this versatile molecule with a large number of applications, notably in plastics, textile fibers and food.
  • With a growing need to design and implement effective O&M strategies across Europe’s offshore wind projects Wind Energy Update spoke with 235 of Europe’s leading O&M executives to find out exactly what’s going on in the world of offshore wind O&M. The results provide you with the following: Where farm owners are allocating budget or procuring new suppliers for a view of new business opportunities; How much time farm owners are allocating to different industry challenges for an understanding of where your services could be used; A view of how farm owners are trying to get greater transparency from their OEMs and where the OEMs are spending their budgets when in charge for a fuller understanding of daily O&M activities; and Which O&M model owners will use once their current contract comes to an end.

Canadian Solar Connects 3 Japanese Solar Projects

Canadian Solar has grid connected three solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants in Japan with a total of approximately 5.2 MWp.

Canadian Solar logoThe 2.2 MWp Tsukuba Stones Solar Power Plant was connected to the grid on June 26, 2015. Powered by 8,448 Canadian Solar CS6P-260P modules, it will generate approximately 2,474 MWh of clean, emission-less solar electricity every year and the electricity generated from this project will be purchased by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Ltd. under a 20 year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of JPY40.00 ($0.33) per kWh.

The 2.0 MWp Tomigaoka Solar Power Plant was connected to the grid on June 29, 2015.  Powered by 7,920 Canadian Solar CS6P-255P modules, it will generate approximately 2,415 MWh of clean, emission-less solar electricity every year and the electricity generated from the project will be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. under a 20 year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of JPY36.00 ($0.30) per kWh.

The 1.0 MWp Isa City Solar Power Plant was connected to the grid on June 9, 2015. Powered by 3,654 Canadian Solar CS6P-255P modules, it will generate approximately 1,175 MWh of clean, emission-less solar electricity every year and the electricity generated from the project will also be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. under a 20 year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of JPY40.00 ($0.30) per kWh.

“We are very pleased to announce the successful completion and grid connection of these three projects, which well demonstrates the execution ability of our local project development and EPC teams in Japan,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar Inc., “We are well on track to complete more projects in the quarters ahead in this important market that is expected to make an important contribution to our planned YieldCo.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Abengoa has announced that it has closed, together with its partner the Israeli global infrastructure group Shikun & Binui, the non-recourse project financing for Ashalim. The total investment of the project will be approximately USD 1 billion. The 110 MW Solar Thermal Electricity (STE) plant Ashalim will be able to store energy in order to produce electricity whenever required after sunset. It will be the largest solar plant in Israel and it will feature parabolic trough technology with a 4.5 hour thermal energy storage system using molten salts.
  • TerraForm Global Operating, LLC, intends to offer, in a private transaction, up to $800 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2022. The offering is subject to market conditions and other factors. TeraForm intends to use the net proceeds of the offering, in whole or in part, to fund renewable energy projects that includes the financing or refinancing of, or investments in, equipment and systems which generate or facilitate the generation of energy from renewable sources, such as solar, wind and hydroelectric energy.
  • SunEdison will acquire Vivint Solar for approximately $2.2 billion. In connection with SunEdison’s proposed acquisition of Vivint Solar, SunEdison has entered into a definitive purchase agreement with a subsidiary of TerraForm Power which, concurrently with the completion of SunEdison’s acquisition of Vivint Solar, will acquire Vivint Solar’s rooftop solar portfolio, consisting of 523 MW expected to be installed by year-end 2015, for $922 million in cash.
  • Nor-Cal Controls is releasing a new product which will increase efficiency and reduce costs to wind project owners and operators. The “WindTalker-1000” is an innovative smart relay device designed to allow any existing sensor to integrate seamlessly into an existing wind turbine control platform, no matter the age, type or communication characteristics of the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Nor-Cal Controls partnered with Lufft, manufacturer of the VENTUS ultrasonic wind sensor, to provide a state of the art, turnkey wind sensor replacement solution resistant to the elements as well as time.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Alliance BioEnergy Plus, Inc. has announced that Charles Sills has been formally elected to its Board of Directors by unanimous vote.
  • The total onshore wind installed capacity in Serbia will rise from 102.5 MW in 2015 to an estimated 522 MW by 2025, boosted by several new projects and the government’s new Energy Law, which came into effect in January 2015, says research and consulting firm GlobalData. “Serbia Wind Market: Unblocking Opportunities in the Electricity Generation Mix,” states that while this increase will occur at an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 48%, Serbia will reach approximately 250 MW of onshore installed capacity by 2020: only half of its 500 MW capacity cap for wind energy by that year.
  • Trina Solar Limited has announced that it has signed an agreement to supply 51 MW of its Dual Glass Modules to Yunnan Electric Power Design Institute and the EPC provider for the agricultural PV power plant project located in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province in China. The plant will be used to power equipment in tea plantations, and will be the first of its kind within China. The agricultural PV project has the capacity of 100 MW totally.
  • The Dutch Postcode Lottery has announced 25 nominees for its ninth annual Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, the sustainable business plan competition that aims to promote a low carbon economy and a greener environment. This year’s challenge attracted 271 sustainability-focused entrants from 56 countries, with the selected nominees from England, Germany, Kenya, Netherlands, Nigeria, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United States.