Monday, October 30, 2006

Australia: Solar-powered air conditioners 'needed'

Solar-powered air-conditioners should be rolled out across Australia to dramatically cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, say a national group of architects.

Archicentre - the building advisory service of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects - is calling for the federal and state governments to immediately pursue the development and commercialisation of the emerging technology.

A national roll-out strategy is also needed, says Archicentre Victoria state manager David Hallett, to tackle the "clear and present danger" of climate change and energy constraint.

"Energy authorities have been warning for years that the explosion of power-hungry air-conditioners in Australia threatens the stability of the electrical grid during peak power demands during summer," Mr Hallett says.

"When demand is at its highest, potential solar energy supply is also at its highest. This is a natural association and should be a key strategy."


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Square D web tool helps users calculate energy savings

Users can calculate energy savings at Square D lean tools web site

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — October 18, 2006 — Schneider Electric announces a Web-based tool to assist facility managers, consulting engineers and operations managers looking for ways to reduce energy consumption without sacrificing productivity. Square D Lean Tools is an innovative collection of Web calculators that allow users to estimate potential energy savings to be gained by implementing various energy efficiency solutions. These Schneider Electric solutions allow users to optimize energy costs while enhancing a facility’s performance, reliability, safety and ease of use.

“Everyone is faced with rising energy costs and concerns for the environment. Add to that new mandates and incentives as a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and there are significant reasons to implement energy efficiency solutions to reduce energy consumption,” says Cassandra Quaintance, manager of Schneider Electric’s Energy Market Segment group. “The Square D Lean Tools site allows visitors to calculate the potential energy savings available through the adoption of Schneider Electric solutions.”

The site, , hosts step-by-step product-specific calculators. The main screen allows the user to preview the individual product features to understand how each can benefit the application. The user can then create a customized program that will calculate the potential energy savings of implementing one or more of the solutions at the facility.

“Whether a user requires Square D advanced metering systems to monitor and assess energy consumption or is looking to examine the benefits of an advanced lighting control system, Schneider Electric provides comprehensive, intelligent responses to manage energy challenges,” Quaintance says. “And now, thanks to the Lean Tools Web site, a user can get the necessary information to determine the potential ROI of such projects.”

The site currently contains five calculation tools:

1. A lighting control energy efficiency calculator that allows the user to calculate the savings that can be recouped by installing Square D lighting control. In commercial buildings, lighting often accounts for more than 30 percent of the total electrical energy consumed.

2. A transformer calculator that allows the user to calculate the savings realized by installing Square D energy efficient transformers, which provide the best combination in the industry of optimal performance and superior quality.

3. A drives calculator that determines the cost savings when using adjustable frequency drives instead of operating the AC motors with constant speed, a key factor with the rising cost of energy. Schneider Electric has provided adjustable frequency drive solutions for HVAC fan and pumping applications for more than 30 years.

4. The Square D PowerLogic calculator, a power monitoring and control system that gives users the information needed to save money on utilities and other hidden costs of operating a facility. The meters and monitors in the PowerLogic system have an average payback period of six months and an average payback of 200 percent.

5. Square D AccuSine Power Correction System (PCS), which is designed to correct for harmonics and poor displacement power factor. By entering the information in this calculator, the program defines the amount of corrective current to be provided by the AccuSine PCS to meet the objective.

Quaintance says additional calculators are planned for the Square D Lean Tools site, including building automation and control and lighting equipment selection.

“Square D Lean Tools is one more method for Schneider Electric to assist our customers in assessing their energy efficiency opportunities,” she says. “If an operations manager, for example, has ever wondered how his facility could become more energy efficient, Square D Lean Tools can provide those answers.”

Investing in clean tech

Venture capitalists smell money in eco-friendly innovations, which are expected to power the future. According to Khosla, the agricultural waste-based ethanol will cost less than conventional ethanol and petrol.

Venture capitalists — the daredevils who invest in promising start-up companies for profit — are investing heavily in cleantech companies. "In the future, clean technology will be as popular as information technology and biotechnology," prophesies Charles Jia, Professor in University of Toronto's Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry department.

Clean technologies turn conventionally environment-unfriendly practices, like creation of electricity and fuels, into green-friendly processes.

The reasons for the rising interest in clean technologies are simple. With the rising price of oil, increasing fear of global warming and skyrocketing demand for energy worldwide, entrepreneurs realise that clean technologies have up-and-coming markets. It is clearly the energy of the future, and both industries and governments are focusing on research and development of these technologies.

For instance, the conventional process of extracting oil from tar sands has an adverse impact on the environment. For every barrel of synthetic oil (bitumen), more than 80 kg of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are released into the atmosphere. Moreover, intense jets of steam are used in the extraction process and this involves burning fossil fuel.

The N-Solv process, a clean technology developed by Sustainable Development Technology Canada — an Ottawa-based Government of Canada not-for-profit organisation — uses propane, which, like steam, effectively liquefies synthetic oil and accelerates its extraction.

Last year, over $1.6 billion was invested in US-based companies that promote clean technologies — a 35 per cent increase over 2004, according to Cleantech Venture Network, an environmental research and advisory organisation based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

Profit with responsibility

Prospects in Canada seem equally promising. And Toronto-based Zerofootprint Inc appears to understand this perfectly. It works on the mandate of reducing the environmental footprints of big energy consuming businesses by encouraging clean technology innovations and practices. Zerofootprint is prompting homeowners to switch to geothermal energy for heating and cooling their houses, an environment-friendly, renewable alternative.

Geothermal systems do not depend on oil or gas and maintain favourable temperature inside houses by relying on the constant temperature of the earth.

In summer, the geothermal system takes heat from the house and emits it into the earth, while returning cool air. In winter, it does the reverse.

In August 2006, Zerofootprint decided to look for its first batch of customers in the Little Italy area of Toronto. After some word-of-mouth advertising, it organised a neighbourhood meeting.

Toronto millionaire and founder of Zerofootprint, Ron Dembo, explained the benefits of geothermal energy which included reduction in power bills. Contractors and engineers took up questions from interested residents on the practicalities of setting up such units.

"The response from residents was phenomenal," said Peter Howard, Energy and Offsets Manager at Zerofootprint. While 10 families committed themselves to setting up a geothermal system in their homes, 30 others said they would like to find out more about this system. "Our aim was to start a grassroots movement for this environment-friendly system and we started that," he said.

"The feel-good factor is definitely at work and people want to do their bit for the environment."

Not `tree huggers'

However, not all clean technology entrepreneurs lay claim to altruistic motives. In fact, they take pains to say they are not `tree huggers'. Silicon Valley's venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, for example, has been emphasising just that.

Researchers on his team are applying bioengineering to produce ethanol in an environment-friendly manner from agricultural waste. In the past, ethanol was made from corn through an energy-intensive process. According to Khosla, the agricultural waste-based ethanol will cost less than conventional ethanol and petrol.

Khosla predicts a readymade market for this clean technology and says automakers will soon be manufacturing cars that run on ethanol or a blend of ethanol and gas.

The message they give investors is: We are not opting for economic suicide by opting for clean technologies. Their goal of creating sustainable energy alternatives is consistent with making money. In company balance sheets, clean technology options do end up as being profitable for everyone.

Profit is not the only reason that makes clean technologies saleable. The icing on the cake is that clean technology helps companies capture feel-good marketing benefits.

"Companies that promote clean technology are recognised as responsible, eco-friendly employers," says Jia.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Resource Bank Announces Plan to Finance Residential Solar Systems

New Resource Bank, a newly launched bank focusing on eco-entrepreneurs and clean technology, has launched one-step financing to allow customers to more easily finance residential solar energy installations. The bank announced an alliance with SunPower Corp., which manufactures, high-efficiency solar cells and panels, at the Solar Power 2006 Conference and Expo in San Jose.

The financing program customizes home-equity lending products that provide customers with cost effective options to own solar energy solutions. Customers finance their solar installation through an easy, one-step application process, then can make monthly payments while generating their own electricity. "We're making it affordable for people to go solar. When coupled with existing rebate programs and tax credits, our attractive financing terms can bring solar energy to many more homeowners, easily and cost effectively," said Liu.

"SunPower is committed to driving down the cost of owning a solar system. Our program with New Resource Bank gives our customers the best possible tool for financing their SunPower system," said Peter Aschenbrenner, vice president of sales and marketing for SunPower. "New Resource Bank has made the process very easy for our customers, which is extremely important." New Resource Bank offers long-term financing over a 25-year-loan term, matching SunPower's long-term solar panel warranty. Loan payments are usually close to the cost of monthly electric rates today. Additionally, since solar energy is not tied to the cost of fossil fuels, a solar system investment is a smart choice to hedge against rising power costs in the short and long-term.

"This innovative approach makes it easy for consumers to participate in California's effort to promote a million solar roofs," said Bob Epstein, New Resource Bank board member and co-founder of Sybase and Environmental Entrepreneurs, which recently helped champion the passage of the California Global Warming Solutions Act.

New Resource Bank plans to roll out the program at the end of October. SunPower North America will provide customer access through its sales channels and installation partners. Typical home solar installations are $20,000 to $40,000, depending on size and direction of the roof. After rebates offered by the state of California, New Resource Bank Residential Solar Financing can provide solar ownership for as little as $100 per month for a small system, and for most home-owners the interest expense is tax-deductible, which lowers the cost even more.

Solar Direct Reports Record Sales Energized by Florida Solar Rebates

Solar Direct, a renewable energy super mall on the Internet, has announced garnering 10 new major residential solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) customers for a total of $400,000. These new contracts, in combination with continued growth in online product sales, contributed to Solar Direct’s record-breaking August revenue of $255,962, up 66 percent over last year.

“Since the start of Florida’s solar rebate program, we have seen a spike in solar PV sales,” states Dale Gulden, CEO of Solar Direct. “In our 20-year history in Florida, we have never experienced such high interest by homeowners in renewable energy products.”

Solar Direct forecasts that by the end of the year the homes it has retrofitted with solar PV will produce at least 100 KW-hours of power. Most of the new installations, sized at an average of 4.5 kW-hours, reduce the homeowner’s electrical bills by $50-$100 per month, or an average of $600 to $1,200 per year.

“Florida homeowners approach us for diverse reasons,” said Gulden, “including recent spikes in home electricity costs, long-term concern over ‘electricity inflation’ and national trends toward green building. Here in Florida, people also pursue solar as storm electricity back-up and, more recently, as a means for increasing their home appraisal value.”

Australia launches carbon cut plan

The Australian government, which has so far refused to sign the Kyoto protocol, has launched a major carbon-cutting plan with $500m to be invested in low-carbon technologies and now plans for the world's biggest solar plant.

With Australia in the grip of the worst drought for 100 years (see related story), the government has faced increased pressure on the government to introduce an alternative path to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite dismissing suggestions that the current drought could be caused by climate change, Australian prime minister John Howard has bowed under the pressure and introduced a carbon-cutting investment plan that include renewables but centres on cleaning up emissions from coal-fired power stations.

The most spectacular of the renewable energy investments will most likely be a £170m solar plant, set to become the world's biggest.

The Road to a New Energy Future: Energy Efficiency and Renewable

The New Hampshire Public Interest Research Group (NHPIRG) today unveiled the ten best opportunities to move America beyond fossil fuels and toward a cleaner, more secure energy future for America

The list is based on NHPIRG’s new report The Road to a New Energy Future, which highlights numerous technologies to reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. It is the second of two reports that reinforce the importance of an American commitment to moving toward a cleaner and more secure energy future.

"With war in the middle east, volatile gas prices, and the gathering storm of global warming, America needs a new energy future,” said Grant Scott, Environmental Associate with NHPIRG. “We cannot afford to pass up any of these golden opportunities,” continued Scott

NHPIRG’s report shows that the U.S.already has the tools to accomplish the goals of reducing U.S. dependence on oil; harnessing clean, renewable, homegrown energy; and saving energy with high performance homes, buildings and appliances.

Full report:

China Speeds Up Renewable Energy Development

Statistics show that in 2005, a total of US$38 billion was invested in renewable energy development worldwide. China topped the list with a commitment of US$6 billion, excluding spending on large hydropower projects.

China has good reason to speed up its renewables development, as the country is fairly poor in many energy resources in per capita terms. Its remaining exploitable reserves of petroleum and natural gas are merely 7.7 percent and 7.1 percent of world averages, while those of coal are 58.6 percent of the world average. At the current rate of extraction, China’s proven reserves of these resources could last 15, 30, and 80 years, respectively, compared with world averages of 45, 61, and 230 years.

Clean Energy Alliance To Expand NREL's Business Assistance Model

The National Alliance of Clean Energy Business Incubators (NACEBI), which began in 2000 by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), has become the Clean Energy Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of clean energy businesses.

The Clean Energy Alliance will take the model of the NACEBI and expand it by offering greater resources and a broader geographic reach, the association says. It plans to add 10 more incubators in 2007, as well as offer expertise, business connections and information essential to accelerating the growth of clean energy businesses nationwide, while maintaining close ties with NREL and DOE.

"We look forward to the opportunity of establishing partnerships and extending our reach to achieve our vision: education and outreach, business acceleration, technology transfer, technology development and incubation services," says Pradeep Haldar, chair of the Clean Energy Alliance.

To reach its goal, the alliance will host a variety of workshops and forums and develop assistance for refining company business plans - similar to NREL's growth forums.

China calls for barrier-free transfer of renewable energy technologies

The transfer of renewable technology could be done in accordance with commercial principles, but there should not be barriers against it, said a senior Chinese energy official at the opening session of the 2006 Great Wall Renewable Energy Forum & Exhibition that kicked off on October 24 in Beijing.

"Renewable energy technology should be distinguished from military or other cutting-edge technologies. In order to effectively alleviate problems like shortage of resources and deterioration of environment, we must apply the mature technologies of renewable energy in a wider area as soon as possible," said Wu Guihui, deputy director of Energy Bureau, the National Development & Reform Commission.

The three-day event was organized by China Renewable Energy Association, together with the Global Wind Energy Council and the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). The 1,000 some government officials, academics and industry players that gathered in Beijing International Convention Center came from more than 50 countries and regions. The participants engage themselves in thorough and insightful discussions over the healthy and speedy exploitation of renewable energies in China and around the world.

In his opening speech, ACORE chairman Michael Eckhart said he was pleased with China's commitment in making the Renewable Energy Law. He said in an upcoming similar event in Washington D.C., he would ask his government if the United States can achieve 25 percent of renewable energy in total energy supply by year 2025 and 50 percent by 2050. Eckhart urged his Chinese audience to ask the same question, because "if the US can not do this, if China can not do this, then the world does not have a sustainable future."

China's Renewable Energy Law came into force on the first day of this year. And according to the State Medium- and Long-Term Program for Renewable Energy Development, the country's renewable energy would account for 16 percent of total energy supply by year 2020.

Cleantech Q3 North American Venture Investment Tops $933 Million

Biofuels investment hits $512 million for the quarter

ANN ARBOR, MI, October 24, 2006 Cleantech Venture Network(R) researchers reported today that North American venture capital investing in the cleantech category realized its 9th consecutive quarter of growth with a record $933 million invested in Q3 2006. The energy segment led the way with $837 million, a 41% increase over the $594 million invested in Q2 2006.

The $933 million invested in all cleantech segments during Q3 2006 represented a 10.8% increase over the $843 million invested in Q2 2006 and a 120% increase over $425 million in Q3 2005. Energy investment accounted for $1.78 billion, more than tripling the $560 million invested in the first three quarters of 2005. Of the $837 million invested in energy in the third quarter, $512 million was in biofuels and $69 million in solar.

Year-to-date cleantech investments totaled $2.29 billion, double the $1.1 billion invested in the first three quarters of 2005. To date, 2006 cleantech investing has already surpassed the total of $1.6 billion for all of 2005.

Clean Energy: The Future May Be Sooner Than You Think

Los Angeles Community College (LACC) has just raised the bar, exclaims the Treehugger blog, citing the school's announcement that each of its nine campuses will soon have a big enough solar panel array to be able to completely disconnect from the power grid. Many colleges and universities have invested in alternative energy, but this may be the first time a school has endeavored to source 100 percent of its needs from clean energy.

"We believe that what today may seem futuristic can soon be commonplace," said the school's executive director of facilities planning and development.

But the move may not be that futuristic at all. Indeed, in addition to the LACC announcement, OneWorld's Carbon Countdown Megablog has recently highlighted several other initiatives--corporate and individual--to source clean energy on a relatively large scale.

Google is currently undertaking the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the United States, an endeavor that will generate enough energy to offset approximately 30% of the company's peak electricity consumption at several of the main Googleplex buildings in Mountain View, California.

Meanwhile, solar panels have been installed on the roof of General Motors' parts warehouse in Cucamonga, California. But GM doesn't own them. Another company arranged to pay for the installation and is now selling the energy--which is expected to power half the building's electricity--to GM.

And in south London, Donnachadh McCarthy's home, which hosts an array of renewable energy devices, is returning energy to the power grid. He's exported 20 percent more energy than he's imported this year.

McCarthy, GM, Google, LACC--they're all ahead of their time, but probably not by much. As projects like theirs continue to demonstrate the profitability of renewable energy generation, they'll likely become more the rule than the exception.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Schwarzenegger Likes Cleantech

At Solar Power 2006, California’s governor says green policies are good for everyone.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said Thursday that he embraces the cleantech industry “with great passion and great enthusiasm.”
“This industry is exploding,” he said at the Solar Power 2006 Conference & Expo in San Jose, California.
Mr. Schwarzenegger also introduced a new state web site to provide more information about California’s solar programs.
The web site, run by the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission, “has all the information you need to participate in the $2.8-billion incentive program that we have so everyone who wants to can go solar,” he said.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Stop wasting energy on empty rooms !

Useful link:

Invest in Alternative Energies !

The following is a short-list of alternative energy companies that form the central focus of Alternative Energy Investing ( market research. This can provide useful guidance if you wish to invest in clean energies.

Distributed Generation

Ballard Power Systems, Capstone Turbine, Distributed Energy Systems, Daystar, Energy Conversion Devices, Evergreen Solar, FuelCell Energy, Hydrogenics, Millennium Cell, Plug Power, Vestas Wind Energy, Gamesa

Clean Fuel & Combustion Technology

Catalytica Energy Systems, Fuel Tech N.V., Headwaters, Methanex Corp., Quantum Fuel Systems Tech, Syntroleum Corp, Pacific Ethanol, International Fuel Technology, IMPCO Technologies

Energy Storage

Active Power, Arotech Corp., Beacon Power Corp., C&D Tech, EnerSys, Medis Technologies, Ultralife Batteries, Valence Technology, Maxwell Technologies, Exide

Power Electronics

Artesyn Tech., Magnetek, PECO II, Power-One, SatCon Technology, UQM Technologies, Vicor Corp.

Power Quality

American Power Conversion, American Superconductor, Intermagnetics

Energy Information Technology

Itron, Badger Meter

ZigBee slashes hotel energy costs by up to 40 percent

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new ZigBee wireless environmental automation system is enabling hotels and other facilities to eliminate energy waste and slash energy costs up to 40 percent.

Invented by Riga Development, the new WiSuite™ Environmental Management System uses Ember’s ZigBee wireless networking technology to let property owners automate and control the energy efficiency of every room, without compromising the comfort of occupants. ZigBee is a global wireless industry standard designed for remote monitoring, control and sensor networks.

WiSuite yields huge savings by dramatically reducing wasteful electric and fuel consumption of HVAC systems. And since it’s wireless, WiSuite can be retrofitted easily and affordably into existing buildings.

WiSuite has proven its value to the Westmont Hospitality Group, one of the world’s largest privately held hospitality organizations. Westmont is saving energy with WiSuite in several of its Comfort Inn and Holiday Inn properties in the Toronto area, and is evaluating a nationwide roll out to its other properties. When complete, Westmont expects to save more than $2.2 million in energy costs per year. This equates to 14,678 megawatt hours of electricity — enough energy to power 2,332 households yearly — and will eliminate 12,500 metric tons of coal-generated carbon dioxide emissions, making a significant, positive environmental impact.

“Westmont chose the WiSuite solution from Riga Development for its innovative approach to energy management,” said Steve Montague, director of information technology for the Westmont Hospitality Group. “With features designed specifically for the hospitality industry and a wireless approach to communications, it was the hands down winner when compared to the competition.”

EU to raise the bar on energy efficiency

The European commission is set to tighten energy efficiency rules across Europe, according to an action plan due out on October 19.

The new action plan - 'realising the potential' - seen by this website, outlines a series of EU steps to tighten energy efficiency rules in areas such as cars, power plants and household appliances.

The paper argues that Europe continues to waste “at least 20 per cent of its energy”, and says its measures aim to cut energy use by 20 per cent by 2020.

According to EU figures, member states could save €100bn every year by pursuing energy-efficient policies.

The commission’s paper – a follow-up to its energy green paper in March – was delayed after commission president Jose Manuel Barroso reportedly rejected previous drafts for being too vague.

The paper sets out ten “priority actions” for 2007-2012 to control and reduce the EU’s energy demand at a time of high energy prices and growing dependence on producers including Russia.

The actions listed include the development of higher energy-saving requirements for household items such as televisions and light bulbs, and the strengthening of EU rules on energy-efficient building designs.

On transport – which accounts for 20 per cent of total primary energy consumption – the commission makes it clear that it will crack down on CO2 emissions from cars.

“Should it become clear that the voluntary commitments of the car industry to reach 140 g CO2/km by 2008-09 will not be honoured, the commission will not hesitate to propose legislation,” the action plan reads.

Another priority action is the improvement of efficiency in energy production – according to EU figures, transformation losses accounted for 33 per cent of the EU-25’s primary energy consumption in 2005.

By 2008, Brussels will develop minimum binding requirements on efficiency for new electricity, heating and cooling capacity under 20 MW, and “consider, if necessary, such requirements for larger production units”.

Working with the energy supply industry, the commission will also develop guidelines to raise efficiency for all plants and reduce transmission and distribution losses.

The paper also says the commission will do more on energy taxation: a 2008 green paper will “review the Energy Tax Directive” to facilitate a more targeted and coherent use of energy taxation.

In 2007, the commission will also consider the costs and benefits of using tax credits and tax breaks as incentives for companies to produce more certified energy-efficient appliances and equipment.

The commission also plans to work with banks on helping small companies get funding for energy-efficient policies.

Awareness-raising on energy efficiency is also a priority, with the organisation of a competition for the most energy-efficient school.

But the paper ends with a note of caution, emphasizing that “more than anything, political will and engagement at national, regional and local level are necessary if the objectives here are to achieved”.

Meanwhile, Brussels is working on improving its “external energy relations” by boosting relations with its major energy suppliers – starting with Russia, with Vladimir Putin’s meeting with EU leaders on October 20 set to focus on energy issues.

Google Goes Solar


With enough power for 1,000 average homes, Google's will be the largest solar electricity installation of any company in the country.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — EI Solutions, the systems integration arm of Energy Innovations Inc., will begin constructing a solar electricity system for Google's Mountain View, Calif.-based headquarters.

With a total capacity of 1.6 megawatts — enough to supply 1,000 average California homes — Google's headquarters will be the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the United States and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world, according to the search engine specialist.

The project will involve 9,212 solar panels provided by Sharp Electronics. A majority will be placed on the rooftops of some of the buildings in the "Googleplex" and parking lots. The solar energy will be used to power several of Google's Mountain View office facilities.

Google has a strong interest in solar. A startup originally funded by Google in June announced a $100 million financing package and set plans to build what the company claims as the world's largest solar-cell manufacturing facility in California.

Presently in pilot production in its Palo Alto, Calif.-based facility, the solar-cell startup — Nanosolar — has started ordering volume production equipment for use in a factory said to have a total annual cell output of 430-megawatts (MW) once fully built out, or approximately 200 million cells per year.

The company's first volume factory will be located in the San Francisco Bay area. At present, though, Google is apparently using Sharp's solar panels for its campus and not those from Nanosolar.

Red Herring: Three Huge Solar Trends

As solar industry prepares for its largest U.S. conference, three big trends are already clear.

Solar news announcements are already flowing in advance of the largest solar conference in the United States, which kicks off Monday.

More than 3,500 attendees have already registered for Solar Power 2006 in San Jose, and the Solar Energy Industries Association is expecting on-site registrations to bring that number to at least 5,000, said Noah Kaye, the association’s director of public affairs, Friday.

That compares with 1,100 attendees last year, he said. “It certainly reflects the growth in the industry and the fact that this industry is attracting more interest from more different commercial industries than every before,” he said.

Market policies have raised to California’s allure for the solar industry. The U.S. federal government created tax credits to support renewable energy, and California created the largest solar program in the country (See Schwarzenegger Signs Solar Law, California Solar Gets $2.9B).

Because of that, the conference is getting strong interest from the rest of the world, especially from Germany Taiwan, and China, Mr. Kaye said. About 30 percent of the registered attendees are coming from outside the United States, he said. “I think this reflects the growing belief that the United States is going to be playing an increasingly larger role in the global solar industry going forward,” he said

The expected attendance still places the conference below the 21st European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Dresden, Germany, which counted more than 6,500 attendees this year (see Solar Supernova, Solar: ErSol Buys Into Thin Film, Blitzstrom Buys More Thin Film , Sun Cools New Refrigerator, Solar Energy For The Poor, Clean Energy Goes To The Movies, Entering A SolarWorld, Fat Deal For Thin-Film Solar, Solar Comes Out At Night).

But Julie Blunden, vice president of external affairs at solar manufacturer SunPower, said the company sees the conference as “the unveiling of the U.S. solar industry in a new and improved form, now that we’ve got a real market.”

So it’s no wonder the announcements are streaming in. Early announcements point to three trends that conference goers can expect to see next week.

1) A focus on silicon

A worldwide shortage of solar-grade silicon, the key material that turns sunlight into electricity in most solar-power systems, is constraining market growth.

According to a report by Photon Consulting, the research and consulting arm of trade magazine Photon International, there’s worldwide demand for 5 gigawatts of solar power, but only enough silicon to supply between 2.2 and 2.4 gigawatts.

Solar manufacturers and integrators are trying to ensure they will have enough products to grow by signing long-term agreements for silicon and solar modules. On Thursday, for example, PowerLight announced it signed a five year, $150-million agreement to buy solar cells from Q-Cells, a large German solar cell manufacturer (see PowerLight Snaps Up Solar Cells).

Startups with technologies that use less silicon to produce more watts of electricity are also benefiting from the shortage.

On Tuesday, SolFocus said it signed an agreement for Moser Baer India to manufacture and distribute its concentrating solar panels in India and neighboring countries, and also said it raised an additional $7 million in funding from Moser Baer to close out its Series A round of funding. The company raised $25 million in July (see SolFocus Soaks Up $25M).

SoLFocus is Palo Alto, California-based startup that uses lenses and mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a tiny amount of germanium, which converts the sunlight into electricity more efficiently than silicon (see Concentrating the Sun).

2) More Funding

Investment in solar power is heating up even more, and roughly 300 conference attendees have registered from the financial sector, Mr. Kaye said. With big names like Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson making commitments to clean energy, it could be getting harder more money—but many investors are certainly willing to try (see Too Late To Get Into Cleantech?).

Aside from SolFocus, which Tuesday raised an additional $7 million, bringing its Series A round to $32 million, VantagePoint Venture Partners told VentureWire on Tuesday that it is hoping to raise more than $150 million for a clean technology fund.

EnerWorks, a solar thermal company, also announced Thursday that it raised $3.65 million from Chrysalix Energy and Investco Capital, and Fat Spaniel said Friday that it has raised an additional $3.5 million in Series A financing from DFJ Element and Chrysalix Energy.

Fat Spaniel provides software and web-site integration services to remotely monitor and manage distributed energy systems, and says its software transforms energy data into easy-to-understand presentations and makes them accessible from any Internet-enabled device (see CalCEF Invests In 10 Startups, Energy Startup Gets $3.5M).

The money brings Fat Spaniel’s round to $7 million. President Chris Beekhuis said Fat Spaniel will use the money to expand further into wind power, fuel cells, and variable speed drives, and also to expand into Europe and other regions. It will also expand further in the solar market, he said.

No longer Birkenstock-clad early adopters, now many of solar customers are big businesses that are asking installers for more intelligence from the get-go so they can more effectively manage their energy costs, he said.

3) Advances in supporting technologies

Aside from announcements about new cells and modules, you can expect plenty of news about all the other parts and services required to grow the solar industry. Fat Spaniel is one example. Another is Xantrex Technology, a publicly traded inverter company. Inverters convert power from DC to AC, for instance to turn energy into usable electricity.

Xantrex said Friday that it plans to unveil two new inverters at the conference.

The first, the XW Battery-Based System, is an off-grid product, meaning it can be used by homes with no connection to the electrical grid. The inverter is more efficient than competitors’, converting 93.5 percent of the AC into DC, compared with an average of about 90 percent for other off-grid inverters, said CEO John Wallace.

The off-grid inverter can convert up to 6 kilowatts of AC into DC, is intelligent enough to be able to convert power from wind, solar, hydro generators, and batteries all at once, and provides power that’s high-quality enough to be able to run delicate plasma televisions, he said.

The other product is the GT 5.0 Grid Tie Solar Inverter, a grid-connected inverter that is more reliable and “handsome” than competitors’, Mr. Wallace said. Unlike most inverters for grid-connected solar-power systems, the system continues to operate as if it were an off-grid system when there’s a power outage.

All these support technologies are essential to making solar mainstream, companies said.

“Cells are of course very important, but a lot of the cost is in installation and transportation,” Mr. Wallace said. “If you can do the installation in an hour instead of a day, you save the cost of two guys for a day. If you add a percent of efficiency in the inverter, that’s just like adding a percentage of efficiency in the whole array. There’s a multiplier effect, and we can pass that onto the customer.”

Source: Red Herring

POWERLIGHT: Record 100 Megawatts of Clean Solar Photovoltaic Power

SAN JOSE, CA, OCT. 17, 2006 – PowerLight Corporation, the world’s leading global provider of solar power systems, will achieve a record milestone this year –the deployment and successful operation of a cumulative 100 megawatts (MWs) of clean electricity– the most solar PV power deployed and generated by any single solar power system provider. Sixty megawatts of this cumulative one hundred megawatts are deployed in the U.S., with California, New Jersey and Hawaii serving as leading markets for PowerLight systems to date.

“As 2006 draws to a close, PowerLight will reach a significant milestone: the deployment of 100 megawatts of solar PV power around the world, and the generation of over 150 million kWh to date by our customers,” said Howard Wenger, executive vice president. “Widespread use of solar power is critical to achieving a sustainable, environmentally safer planet. PowerLight continues to be committed to making solar power a mainstream source of the world’s energy supply.”

Leading Wind Energy Developer Joins Forces with Prominent Vermont ... - Empire Information Services, Inc. (press release)

WATERBURY, VT -- (10/17/2006; 1213)(EIS) -- Saying New England holds tremendous opportunity for wind energy development, Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power today announced that it is teaming up with Vermont-based Vermont Environmental Research Associates (VERA) to explore potential windpark locations throughout the region.

Noble Environmental -- one of the nation's leading wind energy developers -- has several windparks totaling more than 1,000 megawatts of clean, renewable energy under development in New York and Michigan and is now conducting preliminary research to determine if there are suitable sites for windpark development in New England. VERA has more than two decades of experience with wind resource assessments and wind turbine siting work in New England and has managed the development of the Searsburg, Deerfield and Lowell projects in Vermont and the Hoosac Project in Massachusetts.

"As our nation moves to create clean and renewable energy sources, New England's excellent wind resources and commitment to the environment make it well-positioned to become a leader," said Noble Environmental's CEO Charles C. Hinckley. "VERA's knowledge of the area and reputation in the region make them a perfect partner. We look forward to working closely with them as we begin our preliminary site analysis."

"The Noble team has the experience and the resources to get good windparks built," said VERA President John Zimmerman. "One of the many ways Noble Environmental distinguishes itself from its competitors is its commitment to community relations. Noble's goal is to develop and operate windparks for the long-term and it builds windparks on a foundation of communication, transparency and trust."

Mr. Hinckley said he was encouraged by the support for wind energy in the region. "New England has a strong tradition of environmental stewardship and wind power is a natural part of that tradition," he said.

Noble's preliminary site evaluation will include an evaluation of wind resources (i.e., whether there is enough constant wind to support energy generation) and extensive dialogue with local communities to explore their attitudes toward wind energy development. If built, each windpark will create pollution-free electricity as well as hundreds of local jobs during the construction phase and numerous well-paying permanent jobs once operational.

Wind Power Project a First for Nexen - CCNMatthews (press release)

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 17, 2006) - Nexen Inc. and GW Power Corporation today took their first steps toward alternative energy production with the official opening of their $113 million Soderglen wind farm.
The 70.5 megawatt wind power project, located southwest of Fort Macleod, is a 50-50 joint venture between Nexen and GW Power, the project developer and operator.
The wind farm began producing electricity in early September and, at full capacity, will produce enough green power to provide electricity for 25,000 homes. The project consists of 47 wind towers, each with a 1.5 megawatt turbine. The wind farm will produce enough clean energy to offset 95,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.
"This is an important step for Nexen," said Charlie Fischer, Nexen's President and CEO. "It's an innovative, environmentally-conscious way to add power to the Alberta power grid and it also helps us to manage our overall corporate CO2 emissions."
"The Government of Canada places great importance on renewable energy sources, including wind," said Mr. Ted Menzies, Member of Parliament for Macleod, on behalf of the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. "These sources will be increasingly important as we pursue a sustainable, environmentally friendly energy mix in Canada."
Wind power is a relatively inexpensive, reusable, reliable and environmentally-friendly form of energy. Alberta currently generates more electricity from wind farms than any other province in Canada.
"This is a great, environmentally-sound economic project that will give Albertans a green power alternative," said Warren Holmes, Executive Chairman, GW Power Corporation.
The Government of Canada will invest more than $20 million over ten years, through the Wind Power Production Incentive program, in the Soderglen Wind Farm.
Nexen Inc. is an independent, Canadian-based global energy company, listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges under the symbol NXY. We are uniquely positioned for growth in the North Sea, deep-water Gulf of Mexico, the Athabasca oilsands of Alberta, the Middle East and offshore West Africa. We add value for shareholders through successful full-cycle oil and gas exploration and development and leadership in ethics, integrity and environmental protection.
GW Power Corporation is a private, Alberta-based company focused on the development, acquisition and management of environmentally responsible power projects in Canada.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pepco Energy Services Selected by Roanoke County Schools for Energy Conservation Project

Pepco Energy Services, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM) and a leader in energy savings performance contracting, has been chosen to provide a comprehensive energy efficiency and guaranteed savings program for the Roanoke County (Virginia) Public School System.

The 10-year contract calls for Pepco Energy Services to install high- efficiency lighting, upgrade the existing energy management control system and provide water conservation measures in 30 Roanoke County school buildings. With energy cost savings of $4.5 million, the installation phase project is expected to be completed by September 2007.

"Pepco Energy Services looks forward to providing the Roanoke County Public School System with significant energy savings as a result of the energy conservation measures we will be implementing," said John Huffman, Chief Operating Officer of Pepco Energy Services.

"Roanoke County Public Schools is committed to implementing efficiencies and exploring innovative ways to finance projects. We set up an RFP process whereby information was evaluated from all of the energy performance contractors approved by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Pepco Energy Services was selected after a very detailed process. This project is going to allow us to conserve energy and to fund capital improvements with the resulting savings," commented Dr. Martin W. Misicko, Ed. D., Director of Operations and Construction for the Roanoke County Public Schools.

"We are pleased to be assisting Roanoke County Public Schools in improving their facilities, which will help them reduce energy use and save money," added David Weiss, President of the Performance Management Group of Pepco Energy Services.

Since 1995, Pepco Energy Services has developed, implemented and financed over $500 million of energy savings performance contracts for more than 200 customers, including the single largest energy savings performance contract ever awarded by the Federal Government -- a project for the Military District of Washington which includes Fort Meade, Maryland that will produce over $200 million of energy savings.

DOE selects Sandia as National Laboratory Center for Solid-State Lighting Research and Development

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced today that Sandia National Laboratories is the new home of the National Laboratory Center for Solid-State Lighting Research and Development. He made the announcement at a news conference at Sandia's International Programs Building.

Sandia will conduct vital solid-state lighting research and coordinate related research efforts at several other national laboratories.

DOE will provide funding of $5 million for seven research projects in solid-state lighting, including $2.6 million for four Sandia projects, Bodman said. The funding comes from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

"The research will be conducted at the new nanotechnology centers at our national laboratories," Bodman said, including the just dedicated Sandia/Los Alamos Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT). "This is part of nearly $20 million we are committing this year to support research and development efforts in this rapidly emerging technology."

Source : DoE

DuPont Recognized By EPA As One Of Nation's Top Green Power Purchasers

170 Million Kilowatt Hours Purchased Equivalent to Avoiding Emissions from 23,000 Cars

WILMINGTON, Del., Oct. 9 - DuPont announced today that it has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on their national Top 25 list of the largest green power purchasers in the Green Power Partnership. DuPont is being recognized for its voluntary purchase of 170 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power. The company is purchasing renewable energy certificates for electricity generated from biomass and wind energy.

DuPont is ranked No. 7 among all purchasers nationwide. The list highlights EPA Green Power Partners that have completed the largest annual voluntary green power purchases through Sept. 22, 2006. The Top Partner list is updated quarterly and is available at

MGE Will Build And Own 30 MW In Iowa

Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) has signed an agreement to build and own 30 MW of renewable energy at a wind farm complex near Mason City, Iowa. The agreement will increase MGE's wind power portfolio by nearly four times.

The Top of Iowa Phase II wind energy project is being developed by Midwest Renewable Energy Projects LLC (MRE Projects). MGE will invest $56 million in the project, which is expected to go online in the last quarter of 2007. With this purchase, the company will power about 5% of its annual energy demand using renewable energy sources. The project will provide enough electricity to supply about 12,000 homes annually.

Source: NAW Staff

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Scientists Issue Global Warming Report

TRENTON, N.J. - Global warming could strain the Northeast's power grid, farms, forests and marine fisheries by the next century unless carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 3 percent each year, according to a report released Wednesday.

The climate in the nine states _ from New Jersey and Pennsylvania up to Maine _ could become like that of the South with longer, much hotter summers and warmer winters with less snow, the report by the Union of Concerned Scientists said.

"This has enormous implications for human health. It puts a lot of stress on the energy system. It could lead to blackouts," said Katherine Hayhoe, an associate professor of geosciences at Texas Tech University and a lead author of the two-year study.

If power plant and auto emissions of carbon dioxide _ considered the main culprit in global warming _ continue unabated, average temperatures in the Northeast could rise between 6.5 degrees and 12.5 degrees by the end of the century, she said. A shift to cleaner, renewable energy sources would cut that increase in half, she said.

The study said Boston could see its number of 90-degree-plus summer days jump from one to 40 if no changes are made. New York City could have 70.

Doug Inkley, senior science adviser at the National Wildlife Federation, said the report was done by top-tier scientists and backs up his group's research showing a warmer climate in the Northeast will push out temperature-sensitive species from sugar maple and northern pine trees to songbirds and trout.

"This report is yet another wake-up call we cannot ignore," Inkley said.

The report targeted the Northeast because it is the world's seventh-largest source of emissions, behind the U.S. as a whole and five other nations, and because the region's leaders have taken steps to reduce emissions and could spur efforts elsewhere.

Mike MacCracken of The Climate Institute, a former head of the interagency group that did climate assessments under a Clinton-era research program, called the report "a high-quality job" that gives "pretty reliable indications of the amount of change."

John R. Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at University of Alabama-Huntsville, said regional analyses he's done indicate the latest climate models can't predict well for a region, especially for rain and snow.

He said the report's recommendations _ mostly centered on replacing or upgrading buildings, cars and appliances with more energy-efficient ones _ won't have much effect on the total amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere, partly because energy demand will keep growing.

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists report:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Governor Of Texas Announces Major Energy Diversification Plan

Dallas – Gov. Rick Perry has announced a major public-private initiative to further diversify the state’s energy supply by expanding wind-generated energy.

“This is a landmark day as the State of Texas partners with private industry to make a historic investment of more than $10 billion in new wind energy infrastructure that will diversify our energy production, clean up our air and help Texas surpass our renewable energy goals,” Perry said. Private companies have agreed to the capital investments in wind energy generation while the Public Utility Commission directs the construction of additional transmission lines to capture and deliver the zero-emission power.

“I am proud of our state’s commitment to renewable energy production,” Perry said. “We are on the leading edge of developing renewable sources of energy and a more diversified energy economy which is key to keeping costs down.”

Perry, who was joined at the announcement by executives of several companies that have committed to building wind energy infrastructure, emphasized the benefits wind energy has on the environment. For every 1000 megawatts generated by new wind sources, Texas will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by six million tons over the next 20 years.

Perry also noted that the announcement bodes well for further growth of the Texas economy. “Over the past three years we have added 650,000 jobs, transformed a record budget deficit into a record budget surplus, and attracted more business expansions and relocations than any state in the nation,” Perry said.

“With this $10 billion announcement, the economic ripple will be more like a tidal wave as these companies pour millions of dollars into wages and salaries for Texas workers.”Texas has abundant wind energy, particularly in West Texas and along the gulf cost. In 2001 Texas added more wind power capacity than all other states combined, and earlier this summer Texas surpassed California as the nation’s leader in wind generation capacity.

The planned expansion of wind-generated energy builds on initiatives Perry developed in 2003 with the creation of the Texas Energy Planning Council. The council was charged with developing a long-term energy plan for the state, including exploring alternative and renewable sources of energy. The council’s report, issued in December 2004, recommended that by 2025, 10 percent of the state’s power needs come from renewable sources and that the PUC takes steps to overcome transmission obstacles that limit the development of renewable energy sources.

“This is a monumental investment that will make our air cleaner and our people healthier,” Perry said.

Source: Office of the Governor, Texas

Enerwise Global Technologies Acquires Clean Power Markets

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa., Oct. 4 - Enerwise Global Technologies (, a leader in energy and energy infrastructure products and services, today announced that the company has completed the acquisition of California-based Clean Power Markets, Inc. The deal allows Enerwise to expand its product offerings and establishes the company as a key player in the renewable energy industry.

Since its founding in 2000, Clean Power Markets, Inc. has provided the infrastructure at the wholesale level for the renewable power market to accurately track and verify green power transactions for compliance with renewable portfolio standards; green (or renewable) energy trades in regulated and deregulated electricity markets; and electricity disclosure requirements by states, regions, or green-e. These offerings complement and extend Enerwise's portfolio of energy management solutions and positions the company to provide additional products and services for a broader set of institutions in addition to commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. Under the terms of the agreement, Clean Power Markets becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enerwise.

"With the addition of Clean Power Markets' capabilities, Enerwise offers the marketplace the strongest and most comprehensive suite of renewable energy products and services available, including the administration and tracking of state and regional renewable portfolio standards," said Dean Musser, president and CEO of Enerwise. "In addition, we will benefit from Clean Power Markets' established presence in key geographic markets including New Jersey, Connecticut, and Wisconsin."

2nd biennial Summit on Emerging Technologies in Energy Efficiency

The Emerging Technology Coordinating Council, NYSERDA, and ACEEE are pleased to announce the 2nd biennial Summit on Emerging Technologies in Energy Efficiency, to be held October 26-27, 2006 at the Long Beach Hyatt, Long Beach, California. The Summit will bring together a diverse audience of policymakers, program planners and implementers, researchers, technology developers, financiers, manufacturers and end users to discuss the latest innovations in energy-efficient technologies and practices.

The Summit will highlight key policy considerations at the state and national level, explore the role of various players in advancing markets for emerging technologies, and investigate channels for financing technology development and commercialization. A number of promising technologies and practices will also be introduced.

Sessions will include:

- An opening plenary on each day featuring prominent figures from California and other areas of the country discussing the current trends in the promotion of emerging technologies and practices. Speakers will offer a high-level view of the role of emerging technologies and practices in addressing key energy-related issue, the role of private and public sector players, and the impact of their efforts to date.

- Smaller working sessions allowing participants and presenters to discuss a number of important and timely topics in greater depth. Three program tracks will cover specific technologies and practices in the building sector through 15 individual sessions. A track on policy and process concerns will include sessions on demand response, public-sector funding, and private financing of technology development. The fourth track will address tactics and strategies for promoting emerging technologies in the marketplace.


Collaboration to focus on Cellulosic Biofuels

SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 4, 2006 -- Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), headquartered in Golden, Colo., today announced a strategic research alliance to advance the development of renewable transportation fuels.

Chevron Technology Ventures LLC (CTV), a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation, and NREL have signed a five-year agreement to research and develop new production technologies for biofuels. Researchers from CTV and NREL will collaborate on projects to develop the next generation of process technologies that will convert cellulosic biomass, such as forestry and agricultural wastes, into biofuels such as ethanol and renewable diesel.

"Our goal is to further diversify the world’s energy sources in order to help meet the growth in future energy demand," said Don Paul, vice president and chief technology officer, Chevron Corporation. "Through this public-private collaboration we hope to broaden the energy mix by accelerating the development of the next generation of process technologies that will convert cellulosic biomass into biofuels. Process efficiency and suitability for industrial-scale deployment, similar to today’s transportation infrastructure systems, are key success factors."

NREL’s participation in the alliance upholds the DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the United States and to promote scientific and technological innovation in support of that mission.

"Increasing the amount of fuels we can make from America’s farms, forests and fields will greatly enhance the nation’s energy security and economy and help the environment," said Dan Arvizu, director, NREL. "Agreements such as this will help us accomplish that."

CTV also will fund research that complements DOE-sponsored work at NREL on bio-oil reforming, a process by which bio-oils derived from the decomposition of biological feedstocks are then converted into hydrogen. This research may expedite the development of a feed-flexible, distributed-reforming process for renewable hydrogen production as well as provide the hydrogen necessary in some potential biofuels conversion technologies.

"We believe that for the next generation of biofuels production to become commercially viable there must be flexibility to diversify the feedstocks, and the processes by which the biofuels are produced must also increase in efficiency and effectiveness, said Rick Zalesky, vice president, Biofuels and Hydrogen, CTV. "This research will address both of these fundamental challenges."

The alliance with NREL is the third biofuels research partnership launched by Chevron this year. Chevron recently announced research initiatives with the University of California at Davis and the Georgia Institute of Technology focusing on cellulosic biofuels enabled by advanced manufacturing technologies for distributed energy production.

Chevron is investing across the energy spectrum to develop energy sources for future generations by expanding the capabilities of today’s alternative and renewable energy technologies. Since 2000, Chevron Corporation, through its various subsidiaries, has spent more than $1.5 billion on renewable energy projects and on delivering energy efficiency solutions. Focus areas include geothermal power, biofuels, hydrogen and advanced batteries as well as application of wind and solar technologies. Chevron is the largest renewable energy producer among global oil and gas companies, producing 1,152 megawatts of renewable energy primarily from geothermal operations.

Source: Chevron Corporation

Solar Integration Company groSolar Completes Series A Funding Round

 WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt.-Today groSolar, which integrates solar energy into new and existing homes, announced that it has closed its first round of venture funding with a total of $2.25 million. The investment will be used to fund groSolar’s national marketing initiative and its expansion to new locations. Led by SJF Ventures, the financing round included three venture funds that specialize in the cleantech and renewable energy sectors, SJF Ventures, Calvert Social Investment Fund, and Allco Financial Group.

“We are delighted to have each of these venture funds join us as partners to help groSolar become the first choice for builders and homeowners who are installing efficient solar energy systems in new and existing homes and businesses,’’ said Jeffery Wolfe, groSolar CEO. “We are aggressively bringing groSolar solutions to the market, both through a preferred dealer network and through groSolar branch offices in under-served markets. Our new name, “groSolar,’’ symbolizes the mission of our company, to grow the utilization of solar energy in new and innovative ways.”’

groSolar provides clean, efficient solutions for homes and businesses, including solar electricity, solar hot water, and solar air heating. The company has the engineering capability to deliver complete systems, turn-key solutions and zero energy home designs.

According to Cleantech Venture Network LLC, more than $1.4 billion in venture capital has been invested in North American cleantech companies during the first six months of 2006. The clean energy segment was particularly strong, pulling in 70% of all cleantech VC funding for the 2nd quarter. A large portion of this was invested in early stage solar technology firms.

"We believe there is a significant investment opportunity in the deployment of both proven and emerging solar technologies,” said SJF Ventures Managing Director David Kirkpatrick. “The groSolar executive and product development team has the vision, expertise and technology partnerships to execute on this opportunity."

groSolar is a subsidiary of GRO, a national solar integration firm focused on designing, distributing and installing high quality energy systems.

Source: groSolar

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Central Ohio Solar Tour

A free tour of central Ohio homes, offices and other facilities that use solar energy will take place on October 7 & 8. The tour is divided into four tours. Shuttle service will be available on two tour routes. Participants can drive to any of the sites in the four areas. Each site will be open for a limited time. Free lunch will be offered at each of the three starting locations. Reservations are required for the shuttle tours. For shuttle reservations and other information call 1-866-473-3664, or visit

Aventine to Present At Citigroup Biofuels Conference

PEKIN, Ill., Sept. 29, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AVR), a leading producer, marketer and end to end supplier of ethanol, today announced that it will be presenting at the upcoming Citigroup Biofuels Conference -- "Ethanol on the Cob."

Ron Miller, President and CEO, and Ajay Sabherwal, Chief Financial Officer, will make a presentation at the Citigroup hosted event to be held in New York City at the Citigroup Center on Tuesday, October 3. A link to the live webcast presentation will be available on the Company's website at A replay of the presentation will be available following the live event.

Honeywell Helps Merrill Community Schools Fuel Energy Savings by Harnessing the Power of Corn

Modernization Project Will Produce the State’s First Corn-Heated School and Reduce Energy Costs for the District by 30 Percent

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 20, 2006 – Honeywell (NYSE: HON) today announced an energy savings and modernization project with Merrill Community Schools in Merrill, Mich. As part of the project, Honeywell will provide energy-efficient infrastructure upgrades, including a corn-burning boiler that will heat the district’s middle school by turning bushels of corn into usable energy — a first for Michigan schools. The project also will improve school buildings and building systems, increase occupant comfort and help the district reduce its annual energy costs by an estimated 30 percent.

Merrill Community Schools, which serves more than 800 students in Saginaw County, will fund the project with the savings generated by upgrades to its building systems. The project is made possible by an energy conservation improvement bond from the Michigan Municipal Bond Authority, which allows schools to implement performance contracts and provides the initial capital for improvement projects. Under a performance contract, improvements to school buildings are funded by the downstream energy and operating cost savings resulting from the modernization work. Honeywell guarantees the savings will pay for the upgrades over the term of the contract, so the project will not affect the district’s operating budget.

“With budgets already tight and our natural gas prices up nearly 40 percent, we needed a way to fund upgrades and reduce our energy costs without having to redirect money or turn to tax payers for assistance,” said John M. Searles, superintendent of Merrill Community Schools. “We wanted to make improvements that went beyond the bare minimum, however, and would have a lasting, positive fiscal and environmental impact. This contract allows us to be better stewards of both the environment and tax money.

The project includes energy upgrade and renovation work at the district’s three main buildings — the elementary school, middle school and high school — as well as the district’s maintenance and administration buildings. Particularly notable is the installation of the corn boiler at the middle school, which will become the first Michigan school to use this alternative fuel technology as its main source of heat. The boiler, powered by 7,200 bushels of corn each year, will decrease the district’s reliance on fossil fuels and is expected to reduce annual energy costs by $10,000 — a significant increase over the projected $2,000 the district would have saved with a new, traditional boiler.

“Corn’s availability, pricing stability and clean, emission-free burning properties made it especially appealing to us,” Searles said.

Other renewable energy work includes the addition of a waste oil heater in the maintenance building, which will help the district realize more than $2,000 in annual energy savings. The heater will run on waste oil collected from the district bus garage, further decreasing the district’s reliance on natural gas.

In addition, Honeywell will help the district lower consumption and increase savings by: installing energy-efficient lighting with occupancy sensors in all district buildings; performing boiler tune-ups to ensure optimal system performance; installing a new roof on the high school; and upgrading the current building management system to Honeywell Enterprise Buildings Integratorä (EBI), a management platform that integrates core building functions. EBI will tie district building components together, including temperature controls and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment. This integration will give the district real-time monitoring capabilities and better control, all from a single workstation.

An alarm notification system to monitor HVAC equipment also is part of the EBI installation. The system will immediately notify facility personnel of any anomalies, such as a downed boiler or a classroom that becomes too hot, allowing the district to better deal with issues as they arise for improved comfort and energy savings.

EU, Latin American & Caribbean Countries to Convene for Conference on Renewable Energy

30 Sept, 2006---The Finnish EU Presidency has invited all the EU member states, and the Latin American and Caribbean states to participate in a forum focusing on renewable sources of energy in Panama on 9-11 October. The conference is part of the Partnership Initiative announced by Finland, together with seven Central American countries, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. The Partnership Initiative aims at more and more extensive adoption of renewable sources of energy.

The themes of the Panama forum are common to both the EU and Latin America. The conference will discuss, for instance, biofuels, wind power, and emissions trading. Finnish companies involved in renewable energies participating in the forum include, for instance, ABB, Pöyry Energy and WinWind.

From the very beginning, the purpose of the Partnership Initiative was to get companies, universities, research institutions, and other private sector actors involved in the cooperation. So far, 64 partners from Finland and Central America have joined the Initiative. The forms of operation chosen for the Initiative were separate projects and different regional forums on renewable energy themes, and the conference in Panama is the eighth of its kind.

Originally, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs allocated three million euros for the financing of the Initiative for three years. Now a decision has been made to continue the financing till 2009, and raise the total granted for the Initiative to four million euros.