Participate in “Shout Out for Solar” Day

Shout Out for Solar Day” is taking place on Friday, January 16, 2015 on Facebook, Twitter and other social media venues. The event coincides with the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) 41st anniversary as well as the release of The Solar Foundation’s “National Solar Jobs Census” report on Thursday, January 15.

“With the U.S. solar energy industry coming off a record-shattering year, next week’s ‘Shout Out For Solar’ Day is the perfect time for Americans to voice their support for increased development of solar resources nationwide,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “In a short period of time, solar has become a true American success story, benefiting both National Shout out for Solar Daythe U.S. economy and our environment, and we need to be shouting that news from every rooftop.”

According to estimates, the U.S. now has more than 20 GW of installed solar capacity, enough to effectively power nearly 4 million America homes – or every single home in a state the size of Massachusetts or New Jersey – with another 20 GW in the pipeline for 2015-16. SEIA says the growth is being spurred, in part, by the affordability of solar. According to SEIA/GTM Research, national blended average system prices have dropped 53 percent since 2010.

“By any measurement, these policies [net metering] are paying huge dividends for both the economy and environment,” Resch continued. “Yet despite all of the progress we’ve made, solar faces an uncertain future in Washington and in some state capitals. It’s more important than ever for the voices of our supporters to be heard.”

Anyone can participate in the event. Pictures can be uploaded to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #GoSolar. Supporters can download and print signs for their pictures here. SEIA is also hosting a Thunderclap, which will send out coordinated Tweets and Facebook posts from hundreds of supporters on January 16.

World’s First Wood-to-Biodiesel Plant Running

UPMlogoThe world’s first biorefinery to turn wood into renewable diesel has opened in Finland. UPM says its Lappeenranta biorefinery is now in commercial production, turning out about 30 million gallons of the green fuel a year.

“Lappeenranta Biorefinery is the first significant investment in a new and innovative production facility in Finland during the ongoing transformation of the forest industry. It is also a focal part in the implementation of our company’s Biofore transformation strategy,” saysHeikki Vappula, Executive Vice President, UPM Biorefining.

“The production process works as planned and the high quality end product, UPM BioVerno diesel, fulfils customer specifications. The start-up phase of the biorefinery began in early autumn, and it has included customary new process and production related challenges. The biorefinery is first of its kind in the world. We are now happy to move forward from start-up phase and be able to concentrate on regular production process”, says Petri Kukkonen, Head of UPM Biofuels business.

A lot of the feedstock, a residue of wood pulp production, is produced at UPM’s own pulp mills in Finland. UPM says its BioVerno renewable diesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80 per cent compared to traditional diesel.

New Biodiesel Plant Owner Wants to Re-Open It

glb-logoSpeculation over the new owner of the Great Lakes Biodiesel plant in Welland, Ontario, Canada is over, as Luxembourg-based Heridge SARL has been announced as the winner of a bidding process. And the Welland Tribune reports the new owner is vowing to re-open the $50 million refinery.

“The big message that came out is that they’re not buying this operation in order to take it apart and sell it. They’re not interesting in scrapping it,” [Welland Mayor Frank] Campion said. “They want to make it work. They have money invested in it and they will invest more money in it.”

In early October, the plant went into receivership as a result of court action by Heridge, which said in court it was only repaid half of a $20-million loan used to get the Welland plant off the ground in 2012.

According to court documents and a former employee, Great Lakes Biodiesel was unable to become financially viable largely because it couldn’t secure $65 million in federal funding it was expected to get through Natural Resource Canada.

The new owners are saying that federal funding will be critical in order for them to make the plant successful.

SunEdison & Omnigrid Bring Solar to India

SunEdison and Omnigrid Micropower Company Pvt. Ltd. have signed a framework agreement to develop 5,000 rural projects, representing 250 megawatts (MW) of electricity, throughout India over the next three to five years. Nearly 400 million people in India have no access to electricity. For those who do, the options are fossil fuel-based and expensive. To bring more reliable power to the country, SunEdison and Omnigrid will build upon the 36 kW micro power plants OMC Power has already put in place with the goal of bringing affordable renewable electricity to 10 million people.

“There are approximately 1.5 billion people that do not have access to electricity and another 1.5 billion people that don’t have reliable, 24/7 electricity. What is most exciting about this partnership is that SunEdison is embarking on its purpose of transforming lives in a very big way,” said Ahmad Chatila, President and Chief Executive Officer of SunEdison. “Solar solar electricity in Indiaelectricity costs have come down dramatically and continue to come down, thus making it a better choice than conventional fossil sources. We don’t have to make a false choice between cost and clean power any more. While a 1 gigawatt (GW) coal power plant can take 3 to 4 years to be developed and constructed, and a nuclear power plant of similar capacity can take 5 to 10 years, a solar photovoltaic power plant can be developed and built in less than a year and can compete on costs.”

SunEdison and OMC Power say they have developed a ready-to-scale solution that will provide reliable electricity for many poor communities. The companies explains their partnership leverages the expertise of each company, including technical know-how, local and telecom knowledge from OMC and project development and financing expertise from SunEdison. SunEdison and OMC have an offering that can help telecommunication organizations meet their regulatory requirements and provide energy to local communities while still going off-grid.

The co-founders of OMC Power, Anil Raj and Rohit Chandra, added, “Our Renewable Energy Services Company model is a proven and commercially viable approach which provides an immediate and substantial improvement in the quality of life in energy-deprived areas, while stimulating economic growth and prosperity. Our agreement with SunEdison is a huge step forward both for our company and for the people of rural India.”

Algae.Tec to Expand Biodiesel Ops into China

algaeteclogoAustralia-based Algae.Tec will bring its algae-biodiesel technology into China. This story from Proactive Investors says Algae.Tec will issue a $500,000 convertible bond to China Finance Strategies Investment Holdings (CFS), with another $5 million in conditional options to come.

CFS has extensive relationships in China with its key executives having completed over 250 fundraising and advisory transactions in Greater China Region and invested in over 20 projects involving around US$1.5 billion.

Both companies will jointly explore commercial scale opportunities for Algae.Tec’s technology across Greater China incorporating the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Algae.Tec expects its algae based renewable fuel and carbon capture technology to play a meaningful role in contributing to the Strategic Targets China has set for itself.

The potential for biodiesel projects could be helped by a recent U.S.-China agreement on greenhouse gas emission targets.

Bidding Ends on Ontario Biodiesel Plant

glb-logoAfter about a month on the auction block, the bidding period has ended for an Ontario, Canada biodiesel plant. But this article from the Welland (ON) Tribune says it will take a few days to see who gets the $50-million Great Lakes Biodiesel refinery.

In early October, the plant went into receivership as a result of court action by Luxembourg-based investment company Heridge SARL, which said in court it was only repaid half of a $20-million loan used to get GLB’s Welland plant off the ground.

In November, all of the assets of Great Lakes Biodiesel, including the Welland refinery and offices in Toronto, as well as other associated companies, were put up for sale in an open auction.

That bidding closed at 10 a.m. Wednesday, but Heridge SARL was the only bidder that could be confirmed. It submitted an initial offer that would have had to be beaten in order for the company to lose the sale.

A manager at GLB’s Welland facility said Wednesday he wasn’t authorized to speak about the plant or the bidding and directed all calls to KPMG. An official with KMPG, which is handling the GLB receivership proceedings, said he had been advised not to speak with the media.

City officials would only say they have a meeting scheduled this coming Monday with Heridge officials.

Whoever wins the bid will get a biodiesel ready to get back on line practically immediately.

Enel Green Power Starts Geothermal Plant

The Bagnore 4 geothermal power plant located in the municipalities of Santa Fiora and Arcidosso, near Grosseto, in the Italian region of Tuscany is online and grid connected. The project was completed by Enel Green Power and has an installed capacity of 40 MW and will generate up to 310 million kWh per year. Bagnore 4 joins the 20 MW Bagnore 3 plant and is composed of two 20 MW turbines.

Enel Green Power logoThe construction of the new plant involved a total investment of around 120 million euros, partly financed with funds from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The project is in line with the growth targets set out in Enel Green Power’s 2014-2018 business plan, which calls for around 600 million euros of investment in geothermal power in Tuscany.

The company says its new plant was designed to meet the highest international standards and to employ the most environmentally friendly technology available. Bagnore 4 also features a sophisticated monitoring and remote diagnostics system to ensure high reliability and efficiency.

Geothermal Energy Outlook 2015

According to the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), the U.S. and global geothermal markets are expected to grow in 2015. The U.S. market may grow slowly while state and federal policies are adjusted, but with continued pressure to address climate change and a growing recognition of the important values of geothermal power to grid reliability, that is expected to improve. However, global markets are expected to see stronger growth with continued expansion while U.S. is expected to make forward progress.

The forecast for geothermal energy growth comes on the heels of a strong 2014. GEA reports that the world market reached upwards of 12.7 GW of operational geothermal power in 24 countries, reflecting about 700 MW of combined added growth. By Geothermal Energy Plantcomparison, the global industry added about 600 MW in 2013. As of the end of 2014, there are also 11.7 GW of capacity additions in development and 1.8 GW of power under construction in 80 countries.

The World Bank is aiding in global growth through its focus on early risk mitigation. In tandem to this work, governments continue to develop and adopt policies to meet electricity demand. GEA forecasts the forward-moving trajectory will continue for at least another decade and globally, geothermal energy production should reach at least 20 GW by 2024.

2014 highlights include:

  • This year emerging economies in East Africa, Central America, and the South Pacific experienced the fastest growth, and each of these regions had some notable developments:
  • In the East Africa region, a new 280-MW addition at the Olkaria field in Kenya now has the world’s largest flash plant, and Kenya added 300 MW of capacity overall. In Ethiopia, a partnership between the government and the World Bank expects to expand electricity access where it is most needed by adding four million more people to the grid in the next five years. Geothermal would be the second largest source of power supply in East Africa by 2040.
  • In Central America, Costa Rica received a $550 million loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency toward planned capacity of three geothermal plants each totaling 55 MW. El Salvador reached the milestone of producing 25% of its electricity from geothermal energy with an aim to achieve 40% in the near future.
  • In the South Pacific, Indonesia is leading in developing capacity and could surpass the U.S in installed capacity in the future. Financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency with equipment from Ormat, construction began in Indonesia on what will be the largest geothermal plant ever built, the 330MW Sarulla project. In the Philippines, the Energy department announced plans to increase installed capacity of geothermal power to 3.3 GW by 2030.

The 2015 geothermal outlook will be discussed in more detail, including the roles global companies and governments will play during the State of the Geothermal Industry Briefing taking place Tuesday, February 24, 2015 Washington, DC.

 

 

Solar Tariff Ups Solar Costs, Hurts Consumers

A final decision has been made by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding solar tariffs on solar parts assembled in China using components from a third country. The decision created a Separate Rates Group that will be subject to an AD tariff of 52.13 percent and a CVD tariff of 38.72 percent. For example, Yingli will be subject to a combined AD/CVD rate of 29.18 percent.

CASE-logo“We are deeply disappointed in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to accept such a broadly defined scope for this ruling, and to levy harsh, protectionist tariffs,” said Robert Petrina, managing director of Yingli Green Energy Americas. “It’s well known that our customers, partners, and other stakeholders represent the majority of the solar industry and U.S. jobs. We will continue our vigorous defense on their behalf with the hope that national efforts to increase solar power’s cost-competiveness are not derailed further.”

According to the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) this ruling will not only increase the cost of solar imports but will also adversely affect U.S. solar manufacturers. For example, following the announcement Hemlock Semiconductor announced it will close down its plant in Clarksville, Tennessee where the company produced silicon for solar panels. The company cited the ruling as a factor in its decision to close down U.S. production. CASE also says the decision will affect Georgia-based Suniva company.

“Imposing unilateral tariffs on all solar modules assembled in China, including those with solar cells produced in the U.S., Taiwan or any third country, will undercut the growth of American solar jobs and hurt our domestic solar industry,” said Jigar Shah, CASE president.

“Suniva, based in Norcross, Georgia, is America’s leading solar manufacturer. But the Department of Commerce’s decision to broaden the scope of the case may put American companies like Suniva in the bizarre position of paying severe import duties on a product (PV cells) they manufactured in America when those cells are assembled into modules in China,” continued Jigar. “More drastically, Hemlock Semiconductor announced that it plans to close its Clarksville, Tennessee manufacturing plant due to ‘ongoing challenges presented by global trade disputes.’ Over $1.2 billion of investment and 50 jobs will be lost, in addition to the 400 jobs already lost to layoffs in 2013 as a result of the initial 2012 tariffs.”

Jigar said that due to the global threat of climate change and the need to reduce carbon emission, it makes no sense to impose tariffs on solar imports. He urges the U.S and Chinese governments to negotiate free and fair trade in the global solar industry.

ET Solar Collaborates on Israel Project

ET Solutions AG (subsidiary of ET Solar) has been selected to provide services for a 40 MWp PV power plant in Israel. The solar project is located in Kibbutz Ketura, approximately 45 km north of Eilat, and will be built in a desert land of 600,000 square meters. This new solar power facility is expected to generate over 70,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy per year.

ET Solar logoOther project partners include G-Systems and Elmor. Arava Power and EDF Energies Nouvelles Israel jointly own the solar farm.

ET Solar is providing project management, electrical design and plant layout, purchasing, quality control, construction supervision and commissioning services. In addition, the company will also serve as the maintenance service provider, and Arava Power will offer the operation services.

“This project is our largest solar power plant in the Middle East up to now, it is also an important demonstration of our comprehensive solar energy solutions to effectively deliver clean, affordable and reliable solar energy in local market,” said Dennis She, president and CEO of ET Solar. “We are delighted to extend and deepen our collaboration with EDF-EN and Arava Power, to make this utility-scale project a reality after completing a 7.8 MWp solar power plant in Israel early this year.”