Global Renewable Energy Investments Growing

Despite global struggles with the economy, investments in renewable energy technologies have continued to grow in 2011. New investments in renewable power and fuels (excluding large hydropower and solar hot water) reached $257 billion, and increase $37 billion from 2010. This according to research conducted by the WorldWatch Institute’s Climate and Energy program. In addition, during 2011, investments in renewable energy were $40 billion greater than in fossil fuel based technologies.

In 2011:

  • Total renewable energy investment in industrial countries accounted for 65 percent of global investment. This is an increase of 21 percent to $168 billion in total.
  • The 35 percent of global new investment that went to developing countries increased 10 percent to $89 billion. Of this total, China, India and Brazil accounted for $71 billion.
  • “Financial new investment” in renewable energy installations in industrial countries outpaced investments in developing world. In 2010 investments in this category in developing countries surpassed those in industrial countries.
  • Driven by a 50 percent reduction in price from 2010 to 2011, $147.4 billion was invested in solar compared with $83.8 for wind projects and $10.6 billion for biomass and waste-to-energy.
  • Biofuels attracted the fourth highest total investment with $6.8 billion, followed by $5.8 billion for small hydro and $2.9 billion for geothermal installations. Continue reading

Clean Currents Hosts Wind Powered Baltimore Week

Clean Currents, based in Maryland, is hosting Wind Powered Baltimore Week October 15 – 21, 2012 to celebrate Baltimore’s growing community of businesses, non-profits, and homes powered by wind. During the week there will be a series of events and promotions and the official kick-off of the Green Neighborhood Challenge will take place, a program that gives community groups an opportunity to raise funds for green projects while increasing support for clean energy.

There are over 35 businesses who are powered by wind, as well as a number of community groups participating in Wind Powered Baltimore Week. Events range from a B2B networking mixer to benefit Baltimore Green Works to Not Your Mom’s Ice Cream Social spoken word slam with Taharka Brothers.

“Since our Baltimore office opened, we have been welcomed by businesses and residents eager to reduce their environmental impact,” said Gary Skulnik, President and co-founder of Clean Currents, a retail electricity supplier that focuses exclusively on green electricity. “We’re hosting Wind Powered Baltimore Week to celebrate the impressive community of non-profits, triple bottom line businesses, and community leaders that embrace renewable energy and sustainability.”

Darius Wilmore of Taharka Brothers added, “Businesses have a big impact on consumer behavior, and we hope that by setting an example as an environmentally responsible business, we can inspire our customers to be environmentally responsible as well. Wind Powered Baltimore Week is a great way to encourage the entire Baltimore community to be more environmentally responsible and join the wind power movement.”

For complete list of activities, visit www.windpoweredbmore.com.

New Option to Lower Wind Farm Maintenance Costs

With concern over the loss of the Production Tax Credit (PTC), many wind farms are looking for ways to improve efficiency. Mass Megawatts Wind Power says it’s new wind augmentation system allows customers to avoid excessive maintenance issues related to mechanical equipment not having several years of an operational history.

The aftermarket accessory, according to the company, utilizes a less complicated and inexpensive wind-focusing technique to increase the wind velocity directed at the turbine by an average of 70 percent. This results in a three-fold increase in the electrical power generated by the turbine.

The augmentation system eliminates the need for turbine structures to exceed a height of 80 feet to realize adequate wind velocity, says Mass Megawatts Wind Power. This reduces material and installation costs while expediting zoning approval in many locations. Additionally, the augmenter technology makes it possible for turbines to operate profitably in lower wind-speed locations.

The company also says that using horizontal or propeller type turbine blades, the cost per rated kilowatt is projected to be less than $1,000 and anticipated to approach $600 in mass production. This compares very favorably with traditional wind power systems that realize a cost of $1,500 to $2,000 per rated kilowatt.

Bloomberg U.S. Awarded WindMade Label

The first news organization in the world, Bloomberg, has been awarded the WindMade certification label for its U.S. operations. WindMade is a global consumer label that identifies companies that use wind energy and other renewables that are certified by UN Global Compact and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). To be considered, a company must obtain at least 25 percent of its electricity from wind power. Bloomberg obtains 58 percent of its electricity from wind power and 25 percent from biomass energy.

“Not only does the label demonstrate our commitment to renewable energy, it provides consumers with the choice to favor companies and products using wind power,” said Curtis Ravenel, Bloomberg’s Global Head of Sustainability. “As both a Founding Partner and the Official Data Provider for WindMade, receiving the WindMade Certification for our operations was the logical next step for us to show our commitment to this very important standard.”

Henrik Kuffner, CEO of WindMade, added, “We are delighted for Bloomberg. By committing to renewable energy and using the WindMade label, Bloomberg has set a great example that will inspire companies and consumers all over the world.”

ContourGlobal to Build Largest Wind Farm in Peru

Countour Global Latam S.A. will be constructing two wind farms in Peru that the company acquired from Energia Eolica S.A. (“EESA”). The wind farms, Cupisnique and Talara, were under development by EESA and when complete, will have an installed capacity of 114 megawatts and be the first large scale wind farms built and operational in the Peru. They will also be the largest wind farms in operation in South America outside of Brazil.

Cupisnique is located in the province of Capasmayo in La Libertad region about 1,095 km from Lima, the nation’s capital. The Cupisnique wind farm will use 45 x 1.8 MW Vestas V-100 wind turbine generators. Talara is located in the province of Talara in the Piura region about 670 km from Lima. The Talara wind farm will use 17 x 1.8 MW Vestas V-100 wind turbine generators.  Both wind farms will also construct a new substation and transmission line to connect with the Peruvian national grid.

“We are very excited to be the first power company to enter the wind generation market in Peru,” said Joseph C. Brandt, ContourGlobal’s president and chief executive officer. “Cupisnique and Talara bring us into the dynamic and fast growing Peruvian economy whose continued impressive growth requires an increasing supply of reliable and low cost electricity. These two projects tap into Peru’s vast renewable resource potential and complement our regional generation and renewable footprint in Brazil and Colombia.”

Vestas Corporation has been contracted to provide engineering, procurement and construction of the wind farm. When completed, the electricity generated will be sold under Peru’s RER program.

Virginia Tech to Explore Wind & Solar in India

A new Virginia Tech research center is set to open in Tamil Nadu in southeast India with the hope of refining and adapting windmills and solar panels for use in rural India households. With more than a billion people worldwide living in rural communities in extreme poverty, how energy production proceeds will have global impact. Windmills are being designed to work in areas of low and variable wind speed and the solar panels are being designed to work well in low-light conditions.

“The goal is to improve life for 400 million Indians not connected to the grid,” said Guru Ghosh, vice president for international affairs. “There are still some refinements to be made on this amazing technology developed at Virginia Tech. We’re aiming for the point where the solar panels and small windmills can be mass produced, tested in India’s rural communities, and then be deployed to create low-cost, renewable energy worldwide.”

Two years ago Virginia Tech announced an agreement with private-sector partner MARG Swarnabhoomi to establish the Virginia Tech, India campus. MARG Swarnabhoomi has committed $1.8 million for laboratory build-out, which will equal or exceed facilities at the Blacksburg-based Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems, directed by Shashank Priya of the College of Engineering. Virginia Tech is underwriting staff and operations with an initial outlay of $350,000.

Virginia Tech hopes that the technology can help to solve some of the world’s most pressing energy problems. The research center is called VT, India Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science Innovation Center and is currently recruiting graduate students to work on the project.

Renewable Energy in the Debate

Increasing America’s energy independence came up quickly in the presidential debate last night and it showed some similarities and some clear differences between the candidates.

“I think it’s important for us to develop new sources of energy here in America,” President Obama said in his opening remarks. Governor Romney followed up by putting energy first in his five part plan to help the economy. “One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs,” he said.

President Obama noted that he and Romney agree on the need to boost American energy production and that domestic oil and natural gas production have increased in recent years. “But I also believe that we’ve got to look at the energy sources of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments,” the president said. Romney stressed the need for more oil and natural gas development on government land and support for clean coal. “I like coal,” said Romney.

When the issue of corporate taxes came up, Obama charged that the oil industry gets too many tax breaks. “The oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare,” said Obama. “Now, does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra money, when they’re making money every time you go to the pump?”

Romney countered that Obama has given “green energy” projects more tax breaks that oil. “Now, I like green energy as well,” said Romney. “You put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1. I had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right? So this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.”

Those comments scored no points for Romney with the Truman National Security Project. “Mitt Romney’s energy plan ignores the advice of our military leaders and doubles down on oil – even as we send a billion dollars a day overseas for it,” said Truman Project spokesman David Solimini. “Thankfully, today we import less oil than we have in 20 years and we’re investing in manufacturing jobs on things like wind turbines.”

Undecided Voters Favor Clean Air & Energy

According to a poll of undecided voters in eight swing states including Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the favored candidates for president and Congress are ones that support clean air and clean energy policies over candidates who don’t. The survey was conducted by the Public Policy Polling (PPP) on behalf of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Action Fund.

In this eight-state poll, the 22,412 voters side with President Barack Obama’s position as a candidate who “supports EPA standards to reduce dangerous carbon pollution” over the position of Republican challenger Mitt Romney, presented as a candidate who “says that these limits would be bad for business and EPA should not limit carbon pollution,” by a roughly 2-1 margin (54 percent versus 27 percent). Among all likely voters in the eight states, the margin on the same question is still wide, at 57 percent to 32 percent.

The poll shows that 50 percent of likely voters would vote today for Barack Obama, 44 percent for Mitt Romney and 6 percent undecided. Yet when the undecided voters were pressed to make a choice, 20 percent would vote for Obama, 32 percent would vote for Mitt Romney, and another 49 percent still were unable to decide.

“Mitt Romney is running behind in battleground states and he’ll need to win over most of the remaining undecided voters to win,” said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling. “But his stances on environment and energy issues could hurt his ability to do that.  Continue reading

EU Surpasses 100 Gigawatts of Wind Power

Wind power in the European Union (EU) has surpassed 100 gigawatts according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). This is enough electricity generated per year to meet the total needs of 57 million households. The installation of wind power is accelerating: it took 20 years to install the first 10 gigawatts; 13 years to add another 90 gigawatts.

“It would require burning 72 million tonnes of coal annually in coal fired power plants to match Europe’s annual wind energy production,” said Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA. “Loading that amount of coal on trains would require 750,000 wagons with a combined length of 11,500 kilometres – the distance from Brussels to Buenos Aires, Argentina.”

Kjaer continued, “Despite only utilising a tiny fraction of Europe’s vast domestic wind energy resources, wind power is having a substantial impact on Europe’s energy security and environment, and benefits us hugely in creating green jobs and technology exports.”

Recent wind turbine installations contributing to the 100 GW milestone include:

  • Anholt offshore wind farm, 400 MW developed by DONG off the coast of Denmark;
  • Linowo, 48 MW developed by EDF Energies Nouvelles Polska in Poland;
  • Ausumgaard, 12 MW developed by a private landowner in Denmark (west Jutland); and
  • Akoumia, 7.2 MW developed by Greek power company PPCR on the island of Crete.

A few other stats: 100 gigawatts of wind power can produce the same amount of electricity over a year as 62 coal power plants, 39 nuclear power plants or 52 gas power plants. To produce the same amount of electricity it would requiring the mining, transporting and burning of 72 million tonnes of coal, at a cost of € 4,983 million, and emit 219.5 Mt of CO2, or would requiring extracting, transporting and burning 42.4 million cubic meters of gas, at a cost of € 7,537 million, and emit 97.8 Mt of CO2.

Texas A&M Showcases Vertical Axis Wind Turbines

Three 20-kilowatt vertical axis wind turbines are now generating energy for Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. The turbine trio is the largest vertical axis wind turbine installation of its kind in the United States as well as the largest of their kind. The main campus also installed a 4-kilowatt wind turbine that can be horizontally lowered and opened for education and research.

When the entire wind energy network is complete, there will be 11 wind turbines with a combined capacity of 92 kilowatts. The 20-kilowatt wind turbines are 75 feet tall, while the 4-kilowatt turbines stand at 40 feet.

“The wind turbine project is an exciting opportunity to show how the University is emerging as a leader in renewable energy,” said President Flavius Killebrew. “This initiative will not only provide students and faculty with excellent learning and research opportunities, but will open doors for future generations who want to pursue this green technology.” The turbines have real-time data collection for faculty and students in engineering to analyze on a network.

The initiative was funded by a $955,000 Distributed Renewable Energy Technology Stimulus Grant from the State Energy Conservation Office and the U.S. Department of Energy. The University then matched $265,000 in funds, for a total of $1.2 million for the project.

The wind turbines were distributed by 3eWerks, manufactured by Urban Green Energy and installed by Nouveau Construction and Technology Services.

According to Dr. L.D. Chen, associate dean of Engineering and Computing Sciences and director of the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences added that with the increase in community wind power technology and projects, the small wind turbines are an excellent laboratory for faculty and students.