Thursday, April 13, 2006

Spain leads E&Y renewable energy ranking

Spain, the USA and Germany are the most attractive countries to invest in renewable energies, attracting the bulk of capital investment, according to Ernst & Young which points to a wind power "boom" in India.

The UK is dropping from third to fourth place "as industry concern grows over grid and planning issues" in an index dominated by wind power, says the consultants Ernst & Young in their quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices. The index sees Italy making the biggest move in the table, jumping to 6th position "on the back of increased forward certainty surrounding its high tariff", while Germany consolidates its position in 3rd place.

E&Y highlights a growing focus on emerging markets with a "wind power development boom" in India, which now appears fifth in the ranking. E&Y says this is reflected in the high valuation awarded to turbine manufacturer Suzlon which has a strong presence in the Asian markets".
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Pieblags will be travelling to New Delhi on Thursday (6 April) to inaugurate the first India-EU joint industrial energy conference. The agenda focuses on renewable energies, energy efficiency and clean coal technologies with discussions including mutual market access for European and Indian firms in six "niche sectors" in the energy domain. Two working groups on renewables and coal met on 22 and 23 March as part of an India-EU Energy Panel to prepare for the conference.

Ernst & Young: Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices (Winter 2006)

Ireland: Fine Gael unveils €500m renewable energy plan

A €500m plan to generate 33% of all electricity from renewable sources by 2025 was today unveiled by Fine Gael.

Party leader Enda Kenny revealed incentives for motorists to use bio-fuel produced from renewable energy crops and plans to provide capital for bio-fuel producers. The Energy for the Future policy document will radically transform Ireland’s approach to renewable energy, he claimed.

It involves input from the party’s environment, transport, energy and agriculture spokespersons and approaches the need to secure long-term energy requirements. “It’s time for Ireland to get serious about renewable energy,” said Mr Kenny.

“In the absence of any co-ordinated strategy from the Government in this vital area it is timely that Fine Gael is publishing this policy.”

Mr Kenny said the proposals are being published in light of the major economic challenge that is posed by the international energy crisis facing us. “Rising oil prices, global instability and a general acceptance that oil reserves will grow less and less dependable should act as a wake up call for those who think we can continue as we are and not risk major economic problems in the decades that lie ahead.”

Recommendations in the plan include removal of all excise duty on bio fuel produced from renewable energy crops, grants to encourage householders to convert to renewable energy for home heating and creating a market for biofuels by legislating that all motor fuels must include a blend from renewable sources.

All public transport vehicles and public service vehicles would also convert to forms of bio fuel. The recommendations will cost €488m up to the year 2010, moving Ireland into what Fine Gael said would be a world-leading one on sustainable energy technology.

Mr Kenny said he hoped the policy would kick-start a national conscience regarding the environment. He said economists warn the days of €100 per barrel of oil may not be too far away. “This is not sensible and it is not sustainable,” he said. “We have to recognise the fact, and seek to change it, that Ireland’s consumption of renewable energy is extremely low. “The Fine Gael plan for alternative energy outlines how we will begin to tackle the problem of our over-dependence on imported, unclean energy and ensure that we can reach that ambitious target of 33% of our energy being generated from renewable sources.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

2006 already a record year for Canada's wind energy industry

260 MW of new installed capacity only the beginning.

Canada's wind energy industry has already broken its annual growth record in 2006 and is set to shatter it before the year is out. As of April 2006, Canada had installed 260 MW of new wind energy capacity, breaking the existing record of 239 MW established in 2005. An additional 250 MW of new wind energy capacity is expected to be installed in Canada before the end of 2006. Canada currently has 943 MW of installed wind energy capacity, enough to power more than 285,000 homes.

"With Canada's installed wind energy capacity expected to grow by more than 70% this year, it is clear that growth in Canada's wind energy production is rapid and accelerating", says Robert Hornung, President of the Canadian Wind Energy Association. "A solid foundation is being built in 2006 that puts Canada's wind energy industry on track to meeting and exceeding current provincial government objectives that seek a minimum of 8,500 MW of wind energy to be in place in Canada by 2015."

Projects already installed this year include the Kettles Hill Wind Farm in Alberta, the Centennial Wind Power Facility in Saskatchewan, the St. Leon Wind Farm in Manitoba, and the Kingsbridge and Melancthon Wind Power Projects in Ontario. These projects represent a total investment of $503 million and provide a number of local economic benefits in the form of lease income to landowners, tax revenues to municipal governments, and new investment and jobs in rural communities across Canada. There are also significant environmental benefits.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

GreenFuel Receives $6.8M from Polaris

GreenFuel Technologies Corporation, the leading developer of algae bioreactor systems that convert CO2 in smokestack gases into clean, renewable biofuels, announced that it has closed a $6.835 million Series B-1 Preferred round of funding with Polaris Venture Partners, headquartered in Waltham, MA. The announcement was made at the Power-Gen Renewable Energy & Fuels Conference in Las Vegas. The new funding is a follow-on to $11 million in Series B funding secured in August 2005 from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Access Private Equity.

Polaris Venture Partners will be represented on GreenFuel's Board of Directors by Dr. Robert M. ("Bob") Metcalfe, a General Partner in Polaris' Waltham office. A world-renown pioneer in information technology, Dr. Metcalfe helped build the Internet and invented Ethernet -- the local-area networking (LAN) standard on which he shares four patents. Dr. Metcalfe was also founder of 3Com Corporation and Publisher/CEO of IDG's InfoWorld Publishing Company. In March 2005, Dr. Metcalfe received the National Medal of Technology from President Bush.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Wind power replacing coal produced electricity in MPCA

Wind power — clean, renewable and beneficial to Minnesota’s economy — is replacing some of the coal-produced electricity that keeps the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s office warm and lit.Since December, the agency has drawn fourteen percent of its electricity from wind power instead of coal, the same amount that MPCA’s 100 staff members have chosen to use in their homes. The main goal is to reduce carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. Minnesota homes and businesses can convert some or all of their electricity to wind, called “green power,” by contacting local electricity providers. Currently wind power costs an additional $1.50 to $14 a month, depending on the percent of energy that’s converted. The MPCA recommends making up the difference by turning down the thermostat and adding insulation. More details are available at

UK: Home power plan 'disappointment'

There has been a lukewarm reaction to the UK government's strategy on microgeneration, launched on Wednesday. The strategy aims to create conditions under which household or community generation of electricity becomes "a realistic alternative".

While some industry figures have welcomed the strategy, others say it is short on concrete action and funding. They say it will keep the UK behind countries such as Germany and Japan in uptake of these technologies.

The government believes technologies which work on the scale of households, small businesses and communities can help bridge Britain's coming energy gap while reducing carbon emissions. This is definitively not the dynamic new drive for low carbon home generation we were promised
Matthew Spencer, Regen SW

"Microgeneration has a role to play in delivering sustainable, secure, affordable heat and electricity through competitive markets," writes energy minister Malcolm Wicks in a foreword to the strategy document.
Launched in the same week as the government's review of its climate change policy, the strategy declares that microgeneration can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from buildings, which make up nearly half the UK total, by about 15% by 2050.

Mixed reviews
The chief executive of the Micropower Council, Dave Sowden, found much in the strategy to welcome. "Following last week's announcement of £50m extra funding for microgeneration [in the budget], the government is to be congratulated for this strategy which contains many of what we believe to be the necessary measures for consumers, through adoption of microgeneration, to become a substantial part of the solution to the UK's numerous energy policy challenges," he said.

Other observers were less convinced. "A large number of the 'actions' in the strategy are not actions at all, if by that we mean proposed concrete steps to deliver real policy changes," said Seb Berry, head of microrenewables at the Renewable Energy Association. "A large number are contingent on further research and review - eg 'DTI will undertake further research and analysis', 'DTI will investigate', and 'Defra will look carefully at'," he said.

The strategy's "Actions" include:
- researching consumer behaviour in regard to investing in micropower
- investigating the feasibility of a communications scheme to spread awareness
- working with the electricity industry to ensure wiring regulations do not bar microgeneration equipment
- boosting installation in schools

The strategy comments on the successes achieved by the German and Japanese governments, which have each issued grants for more than 200,000 solar photovoltaic installations.
In Sweden, it says, policies have led to 10% of houses installing heat pumps, devices which extract and concentrate heat from the ground.

"What the strategy doesn't do is spell out what policy mechanisms were used, or more importantly why they are felt inappropriate for the UK," said Mr Berry. The UK can muster a total of 82,000 micropower installations, of which 78,000 are solar hot water heaters.

'Great disappointment'
Some observers have criticised the strategy for not tackling planning regulations, which mean micropower schemes can be blocked by objections over noise and other issues. A further criticism centres on the lack of firm measures to reform the grid distribution system so it can accept feeds from a large number of tiny generators.

Matthew Spencer, chief executive of Regen SW, the renewable energy agency for the southwest of England, described the strategy as "a great disappointment". "Fourteen of the 24 actions in this document are no more than commitments to further studies," he said. "This is definitively not the dynamic new drive for low-carbon home generation we were promised." Within a few months the DTI is expected to launch its review of overall energy policy.

The microgeneration industry, as well as advocating tougher action on greenhouse gas emissions than the government announced in its climate change review, will be hoping it contains more concrete measures to stimulate carbon-free generation of heat and power.