Friday, December 30, 2011

What Free Market? Subsidies Have Always Been a Big Part of Energy Industry, New Report Shows

America’s support for energy innovation has helped drive U.S. growth for more than 200 years, yet government support for new energy sources is much lower today than it has been at any other point in U.S. history according to a new report analyzing U.S. energy incentives.
Every great expansion of the U.S. economy can be linked with the discovery of a new energy source. In every single case, the government, often at both the federal and state levels, heavily subsidized that new energy source according to the report, “What Would Jefferson Do? The Historical Role of Federal Subsidies in Shaping America’s Energy Future,” authored by Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner, DBL Investors and Ben Healey, a Yale University graduate student.

“All new energy industries – timber, coal, oil and gas, nuclear – have received substantial government support at a pivotal time in their early growth, creating millions of jobs and significant economic growth,” said Nancy Pfund. “Subsidies for these ‘traditional’ energy sources were many, many times what we are spending today on renewables.”

During the early years of what would become the U.S. oil and gas industries, federal subsidies for producers averaged half a percent of the federal budget. By contrast, the current support for renewables is barely a fifth that size, just one tenth of one percent of federal spending.

Among the report’s key findings:
• Energy industries have enjoyed a century of federal support. From 1918-2009, the oil and gas industry received $446.96 billion (adjusted for inflation) in cumulative energy subsidies. Renewable energy sources received $5.93 billion (adjusted for inflation) for a much shorter period from 1994-2009.
• Average annual support for the oil and gas industry has been $4.86 billion (1918-2009), compared to $3.50 billion for nuclear (1947-1999) and $0.37 billion (1994-2009) for renewable energy.
• There is a striking divergence in early federal incentives. For example, federal support for the nuclear industry overwhelms other subsidies as a percentage of federal budget, but equally striking is the support for oil and gas which was at least 25% higher than renewables, and in the most extreme years 10x as great.

“The take away from this history lesson is that government support has been and should continue to be an essential component in the growth of emerging energy sources, enabling U.S. technology innovation, job creation and economic expansion.” said Pfund.

 read on

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

You heard America loses money on the Solar Industry?

I figured in the past, that the Solyndra mess leads to people thinking that the whole Solar Industry "sucks the money out of the taxpayers pocket". The opposite is the truth. After all, the Industry doesn't just consist out of the assembled panels. When looking at polysilicon production, equipment for manufacturing lines, power electronics, solar hot water tanks, and any number of other domestically-produced products, the U.S. actually offers a good-sized contribution to the global market.

Read the whole article here

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

U.S. Solar Industry Posts Best Quarter Ever

Judging by the headlines, the American solar industry is going through some rocky times. The Solyndra bankruptcy, the solar trade complaint filed against China and the pending expiration of a wildly popular grant program continue to provided fodder for an increasingly politicized discussion.

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

Friday, December 23, 2011

great CUNY Project: NYC Solar Map

The New York City Solar Map is a tool that all New Yorkers can use to learn about the potential for solar on their buildings and across the city. It also provides practical information and steps for installing solar.

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

New York Trying to Create New Solar Rebate Market

New York solar energy advocates are pushing for the adoption of a new bill that would create a solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market. If enacted, the New York Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act would launch an SREC market starting in 2013.

An SREC represents the environmental attributes from a solar facility and is generated each time a certified and registered solar power system produces one thousand killowatt-hours (KWh) of energy. For every 1000 killowatt-hours of electricity produced by an eligible solar facility, one SREC is awarded which can then be sold on an SREC specific market, typically to utility companies that are required to purchase SRECs in order to comply with renewable portfolio standards (where state utilities are required to purchase or generate a percentage of their electricity from renewable energy resources). Depending on the size of the solar system, the typical residential solar system can produce one SREC every two months.

While there are a number of excellent New York solar rebates to help interested residents go solar, the state is trying to ramp up its solar production, particularly in light of the fact that its neighbor, New Jersey, currently ranks second in the nation in total installed solar capacity, while New York is only seventh. In terms of total solar capacity, New York is likely to pass the 100 megawatt mark this year, compared to New Jersey’s installed base of 500 megawatt. The thinking is, if New Jersey can be a solar mecca, why can’t New York. And the difference appears to be the SRECs.

The New York Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act contains numerous provisions that are similar to New Jersey and have helped make New Jersey solar a powerhouse in the U.S. Specifically, the bill provides for the unbundling of SRECs (power and SREC can be sold separately) and two-year banking (SREC can be sold in the year it was generated or in the following two years – provides consumer/generator economic flexibility).

New York, however, is making some notable differences to make the creation of their SREC market unique. The first requires utilities to offer some SREC contracts for as long as 15 years, as opposed to how it is in New Jersey where contracts generally run no longer than three to four years. The goal is to make solar projects more financially attractive as utilities are required to purchase SRECs for up to 15 years.

The other unique provisions require that 20% of New York SRECs be sourced from solar systems that are smaller than 50 kilowatts, which would help prevent large utility-scale solar systems from dominating the SREC market. In essence, the bill would guarantee that residential solar markets will be able to participate in the market.

Currently missing from the bill is a non-compliance penalty. In New Jersey, for utilities that do not hit their renewable energy targets, there is a penalty of $675 per missing megawatt. If the price of an SREC were to rise above the $675 compliance payment, no SRECs would be purchased, therefore creating a price ceiling. The cost of penalties there cannot be passed to ratepayers, while the costs of purchasing SRECs can be, giving utilities an additional incentive to purchase the credits.

While there is substantial support for the bill right now, it is going to take some additional revisions and soothing to bring all of the necessary parties, including the unions, into agreement. The next step is a review of the bill by the Governor’s office in January and a cost-benefit analysis of establishing the SREC market in New York.

If New York does succeed in adopting an SREC market, it could truly allow solar power in New York to dominate.


What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

may I simply call this headline 'lol'?

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Installations of photovoltaic solar panels increased by 69% during the first half of 2011

The recent spike in bad news focused on the Solyndra debacle is obscuring the positive long-term trend for solar energy. Installations of photovoltaic solar panels increased by 69% during the first half of 2011, compared with the same time period for 2010, says the U.S. Solar Market Insight quarterly report. In the second half of 2011, growth is expected to continue with 1,750 megawatts installed for the whole year. “The U.S. markets are expanding and heading toward becoming the largest in the world, and our goal is certainly to surpass Germany and Italy and some of those markets that are larger than us today. The resilience and the core stability of this market is remarkable given the economic conditions that exist today,” said Rhone Resch, from the Solar Energy Institute of America.

more here

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Google invested more than USD 880 million in 2011... clean energy projects. Wow, someone is comitted. That is one amazing number, hope to hear more news like this in the future...

Details here

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

3D - soon on a roof near you...

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say that replacing flat solar panels with three-dimensional structures could make photovoltaic systems as much as 20 times more effective. 
It makes sense to me...trap the light and you have more profit out of it...
find the short article here

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Schwarzenegger: Debate over bankrupt solar maker Solyndra loan ‘narrow minded’

It's never a good thing to loose a million...or even 500. Does this make Solar Technology a thing to avoid? I'd rather say no, it is the future, even if mistakes were made. Read the opinion of America's greenest Politician so far in an article in the Washington Post here

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

German Village Produces 321% More Energy Than It Needs

German Village Wildpoldsried produces 321 percent more energy than it needs – and it’s generating 4.0 million Euro (US $5.7 million) in annual revenue by selling it back to the national grid. 

the full article here

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

Monday, December 12, 2011

IKEA going 75% green

IKEA, the Swedish home furnishings retailer, last week announced that it will install solar energy panels on ten additional U.S. branches, covering its entire presence in the Southern part of the country. Pending governmental permits, installation is scheduled to begin this winter, with completion expected in the summer of 2012.
IKEA already has 12 U.S. solar energy systems operational with 11 more underway. With 10 more solar powered sites, the company’s solar presence will increase to 75% of its U.S. locations and a total solar generating capacity of approximately 26.8 MW.
article here

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

real quick...

check this out! amazing design, must read message!

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"There's no other way. There's no Plan B for the planet"

 True that. Maybe the rising awareness leads to new solutions. Read the Reuters article "U.S. denies delaying global climate deal" here

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

The ten greenest companies

Climate Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing "consumers and companies together in the fight against global climate change," has released their latest corporate rankings. In general, the scores show improvement. Average scores have increased by 54 percent since 2007 and by 10 percent since 2010, according to a press release.
read more about this Huffington Post article here

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How big is it really?

Since I am still very enthusiastic about the potential of Solar Systems to electrify the planet the green way, I am asking myself: how big is it really? With China and India on the rise, and the US potentially becoming the world leader in Solar installations in 2013, which other regions out there would profit from going solar asap? Many countries in Europe showed us how it is done (also read my earlier blog post in Feed-In-Tariffs)

Well, take a look at Africa for example to find more countries, or lets say a whole continent, that couldn't get enough independent energy systems, if possible by tomorrow.

According to information provided by the Organization for One World of Solidarity (OEW), only 26% of the population located south of the Sahara Desert has direct access to electricity – making the region one of the least electrified in the world. And furthermore, the number of Africans who still have to live without access to electrical energy is on the rise.

This situation will not change without outside help. The reason is obvious: expanding the overland network is not a lucrative endeavour for energy providers. There are long distances to cover before all the villages ‘in the bush’ can be reached and, as far as the distribution companies are concerned, the installation costs for electricity networks would be far greater than whatever the rural households would be able to pay.

Without electricity, it is not possible to create added value in the local environment, which is in turn the basic prerequisite for any type of sustainable development. After all, energy supply plays a key role, not only in the economy, but also in virtually every area of day-to-day life – regardless of whether in private households, schools, the skilled trades or hospitals.

Since my wife is founder of a non profit organisation that cares for children in Senegal whose life is affected by lepracy (ASB Foundation), we were planning to go there in 2012 and see what we can do to improve our efforts.

I am really motivated to find out whether my contacts to the industry can help to supply some households with energy. Any advice, help, support highly appreciated!
I am thinking about small off grid plants, maybe financed by local microcredits, installed by local inhabitants or electricians. Way to go if this vision shall became reality. Lotta potential!

What do you think? Looking forward to read your comments.