Thursday, February 03, 2011

Renewable Energy News, February 3, 2011

Renewable energy feasible, group says
A world that runs almost completely free of fossil fuels is possible without new technological development or radical lifestyle changes, a leading environmental group says.

With “reasonable” government investment, renewable energy will be economically feasible – even profitable – worldwide by 2050, including in countries that are currently deprived of power or fuel, the World Wildlife Fund said in a report released on Thursday.
More related to this story

While acknowledging there are serious challenges in achieving the all-renewable goal, the group says it is both possible and necessary if there is to be a substantial cut in greenhouse gas emissions, which experts warn could have devastating impacts on the environment.
Vermont Legislators Aim To Boost Incentives For Renewable Energy Projects
Legislative leaders are crafting a bill that would expand incentives for renewable energy projects.

The bill sets aggressive targets for clean energy development, and adds money to a fund that could help pay for the projects.

The bill broadens a program known as net metering. This allows utility customers to sell electricity back to their power companies if their home and business has its own renewable generating plant.
California Democrats launch 'green energy' bills
Flanked by solar energy business people and investors, legislative Democrats announced Wednesday that they're resurrecting a bill to require utilities to buy at least 33 percent of California's electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Legislators presented the proposal along with related measures as a pro-business effort to help create jobs.

"The budget is and remains our top priority," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

But, Steinberg added, "we must also continue to provide state and national leadership in our ongoing efforts to strengthen California's economy by supporting emerging industries, improving public education and creating jobs for Californians."

Two other measures described at the Capitol press conference would expedite permits for renewable energy projects, and create a curriculum for "green partnership academies" that use grants to provide students with skills to enter renewable-energy jobs.
Wind Projects Backed By Tax Credits, Subsidies
Most people think of big wind projects as a way to harvest the breezes that blow freely across the earth.

But sophisticated investors look at big wind quite differently. That's because besides generating electricity, the large-scale projects also involve sophisticated financial instruments that harvest a variety of tax benefits.

In the last of our series on big wind, VPR's John Dillon has this look at how the projects are financed.
DOE Promotes Energy Innovation Portal To Business Professionals
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Innovation Portal now has more than 300 business-friendly marketing summaries available to help investors and companies identify and license leading-edge energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

The Portal is an online tool that links available DOE innovations to the entrepreneurs who can successfully license and commercialize them.

By helping to move these innovations from the laboratory to the market, the Portal facilitates an integral step in supporting growing America’s clean energy industries and meeting the Administration’s clean energy goals.

“Our National Laboratories are a major driver of innovation in this country. By connecting American entrepreneurs with cutting-edge, ready-to-commercialize technologies from the National Labs, the DOE Innovation Portal is helping to grow our economy and create the next generation of American jobs,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Wyoming House committee moves wind energy tax bill
Wind energy companies would pay higher generation taxes in Wyoming in exchange for ending the state sales tax on equipment used in wind farm construction under a bill that cleared a legislative committee Wednesday.

The House Revenue Committee voted 5-3 in favor of a bill sponsored by Rep. Tim Stubson, R-Casper, Sen. Drew Perkins, R-Casper, and others. It now goes to the House floor.

The bill would triple the tax rate that goes into effect next year on new wind projects, from $1 per megawatt hour to $3 per megawatt hour. In exchange, the bill would exempt wind projects from sales tax on generators and other equipment.

Stubson said the bill would increase total state revenues slightly over the lifetime of wind projects. But he said it would also save the wind industry money because companies would no longer need to borrow to cover the upfront sales taxes on equipment.
Study: Wind could mean big money for Wyoming
Wind energy development could bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to Wyoming over the next decade, according to a federal report.

The analysis, conducted by analysts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, examines the economic impact of Wyoming wind energy development, construction of the power lines needed to transport electricity out of state, and the growth of natural gas power generation, commonly used to back up wind energy sources.

During the next decade, that development may create 47,000 jobs, pay $2.6 billion in wages and benefits and pump $5.1 billion into the state’s economy, said Eric Lantz, a research analyst with the laboratory. The study, released Tuesday, only examined one version of the next decade of wind energy and infrastructure development.
California backstops two Alberta wind projects
California’s stringent rules for renewable energy have given a kick-start to two major wind-power projects planned for Alberta.

Under California’s renewable energy credits program, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has agreed to buy all the power for 20 years from Greengate Power Corp.’s 150-megawatt Halkirk 1 project east of Stettler and the 300-megawatt Blackspring Ridge project north of Lethbridge.

The wind power will go into the Alberta electrical grid, which is linked to the western half of North America.

Edmonton’s Capital Power Corp. is a 50-50 partner in Halkirk, although it has not yet signed a formal agreement.

“This power purchase agreement with California is certainly a step forward, but there are other conditions to be meet before Capital Power signs onto Halkirk,” Capital spokesman Mike Long said.
Tennessee solar farm gets OK from U.S. Dept. of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy has cleared construction of a 5-megawatt solar array in West Tennessee, ruling that the project will have no significant impact on the surrounding environment.

Energy officials approved the solar farm near I-40 in Haywood County under the National Environmental Policy Act, the state Department of Economic and Community Development announced Tuesday.

The project is intended to bolster interest in a nearby megasite for industrial development.

"We've seen billions of dollars in capital investment in the solar industry alone in Tennessee," ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said in a statement.
Michigan utilities power up renewable energy efforts
Michigan utilities are adding to their wind and solar portfolios as they strive to meet the state's mandate to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015.

A massive wind farm under construction in Gratiot County north of Lansing is one of the most recent efforts by Detroit Edison to bolster its renewable energy portfolio. The farm, the largest wind farm in Michigan, will contain 125 wind turbines on 30,000 acres and is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

Under a 20-year, $1.1 billion agreement, Detroit Edison, a subsidiary of DTE Energy and the largest utility in Metro Detroit with 2.1 million customers, will buy 200 megawatts from the farm, enough energy to power 54,000 homes.

"Our goal is to have 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2015," said spokesman Scott Simons. "Half of that would be owned and operated by us and the other half would be purchase power."
Georgia bill offers break on energy saving
More home and business owners who buy solar panels and other energy-savers would get a tax break under a bill state Rep. Doug McKillip introduced Tuesday.

House Bill 146 would raise available clean energy tax credits from $2.5 million to $10 million per year and extend them until 2014. It would benefit employers like Power Partners, a local company that manufactures solar panels, said McKillip, R-Athens.

"It's good for jobs," he said. "It's good for the environment. It's good for the economy."
Puget Sound Energy Offering Renewable-Energy Grants to Local Schools & Select Educational Institutions
Puget Sound Energy is offering public schools and other educational institutions an opportunity to bring renewable energy into the classroom – or perhaps, onto the classroom.

This week the utility opened the grant-application period for organizations seeking to install small-scale solar arrays or wind power turbines. Schools and nonprofit institutions with a renewable-energy education focus are eligible to apply for a PSE grant, which can range from $5,000 to $20,000.

PSE’s Renewable Energy Education Program (formerly called Solar Schools) and voluntary Green Power Program have provided $394,139 in grants to fund 23 educational solar-power projects in Western Washington during the last seven years.

The programs promote understanding and acceptance of renewable-energy technologies and expand the range of options available to local educators, students, families and communities in PSE’s nine-county electric service area.
Intel the Biggest Buyer of Green Energy in the U.S., Report Says
Intel Corporation remains the top purchaser of renewable energy in the U.S., nearly doubling the amount of green energy credits it will buy in 2011 to more than 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours - the equivalent of powering 218,000 American homes - according to a new ranking by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With that increase, the California-based chipmaker - which has also built nine solar plants at its facilities in the U.S. and Israel - now gets about 88 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

The retail chain, Kohl's, which ranked second on the EPA's list of the top 50 green energy buyers, now gets 100 percent of its electricity from green sources, purchasing more than 1.4 million kilowatt-hours annually. The EPA works with more than 1,300 businesses and organizations through its Green Power Partnership to encourage the voluntary purchase of green energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, those partners are using about 19.2 billion kilowatt-hours of green energy each year. Intel's purchase of renewable energy credits is the largest green power purchase to date in the EPA's Green Power Partnership.


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