Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Google PowerMeter: If you can measure it, you can improve it !

Google engineers have developed a software tool called Google PowerMeter, which will show consumers their home energy information almost in real time, right on their computer. Google PowerMeter is not yet available to the public since it's being tested out with Googlers first.
Studies showed that access to home energy information results in savings between 5-15% on monthly electricity bills. It may not sound like much, but if half of America's households cut their energy demand by 10 percent, it would be the equivalent of taking eight million cars off the road.

Chevron commits 20 M$ to energy efficiency in Qatar

Chevron Corporation announced plans to commit $20 million over five years to form a partnership with the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) in Doha and establish a center of excellence in renewable power and energy efficiency.

The partnership with QSTP will create The Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency, which intends to focus on developing technologies in lighting and cooling that work effectively in the Middle East climate. The center, expected to open in late 2009, also anticipates conducting research in the development and application of renewable power, such as solar, and developing and training Qatari engineers, scientists and students to build expertise and capabilities within the country.

“Chevron believes that energy efficiency and conservation are the most immediate and cost-effective sources of new energy, and we are proud to work in partnership with Qatar to help achieve environmentally responsible development and economic diversification – two important elements of Qatar’s National Vision,” said Chevron Vice Chairman Peter Robertson. “By bringing Chevron’s global expertise in energy efficiency and renewable power to this premier center for research, learning and entrepreneurship, we can identify specific energy technologies that work well in the region’s desert climate and develop capabilities within the country that ultimately will benefit Qatar and the entire region.”

Said H.E., Qatar’s Deputy Premier & Minister of Energy and Industry, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah: "I am very pleased to welcome Chevron’s Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency to QSTP in Qatar, and we look forward to a long partnership with Chevron. Establishment of this Center greatly enhances our ability to utilize Chevron’s expertise and leadership in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in the future, and for training Qatari engineers and scientists."

Dr. Tidu Maini, executive chairman of QSTP, added: “Finding smarter ways of using energy is no less important in Qatar than in the rest of the world. By taking a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to energy research, Chevron’s QSTP center will help position Qatar at the forefront of environmental technologies globally.”

The Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency will be supported by expertise in energy efficiency and renewable energy drawn from Chevron’s technology companies, including Chevron Energy Solutions (CES), which has developed hundreds of projects involving energy efficiency and renewable power facilities for education, government and business customers across the United States. CES markets both energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies such as high-efficiency lighting, cooling, fuel cells, biomass and solar. Chevron recently endowed the Chevron Chair in Energy Efficiency at the Energy Efficiency Center at the University of California, Davis. The center is focused on developing new energy efficiency technology that can be commercialized globally.

Navajo Wind Energy Secures Additional 200 MW Project Site in China

Navajo Wind Energy Corp. (formerly Caliber Energy Inc.) announced that it has secured a new 200 MW wind site located in Xinjiang, China. This site is situated on 6,200 acres and is in an area with proven, high-energy wind speeds. Previous testing indicates a mean average annual wind speed in excess of 11 meters per second or over 25 miles per hour, capable of generating net operating capacity factors in excess of 50 percent.

The Xinjiang Project is the second announcement of many new acquisitions that Navajo Wind Energy is currently developing as part of the previously announced "China Initiative."

China's rapidly growing demand for renewable energy and the scarcity of viable wind farm sites to create the available supply, positions Navajo Wind Energy uniquely in this competitive market place through the utilization of the Company’s expertise and industry contacts.

Barry Doyle, CEO states, "There was tremendous competition from the largest players in the investment banking and energy industries to acquire this exact piece of property. Navajo Wind's access to proprietary information dating back to the 1990s allowed the Company to seize this opportunity several weeks before our competition. We are extremely proud of this accomplishment."

Navajo Wind Energy is currently conducting environmental studies to complete the permitting process.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Studies Show Renewable Energy Taking Off, but Federal Policies Needed to Keep Momentum, Science Group Says

Two recent reports documenting the rapid growth of renewable energy development in the United States show that state renewable electricity standards and federal tax incentives are effective policies. New federal initiatives, however, are necessary to ensure continued expansion, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
On Tuesday, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced that more wind power was installed in the United States in 2008 than ever before. The more than 8,300 megawatts (MW) of wind energy capacity—enough to provide power to more than 2 million average homes—installed last year was more than a 50 percent jump from 2007. Meanwhile the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) released a report last week that found renewable energy, excluding conventional hydroelectric power, represented the largest new capacity growth in 2007 for the first time. More than 8,600 MW of capacity was installed.
"If you build the right policies, clean energy will come," said Alan Nogee, Clean Energy Program director at UCS. "Renewable energy—led by wind—is finally exploding here in the United States, but there's still a long way to go. This growth shows that President Obama's economic recovery goal of doubling renewable energy use in the next two years is achievable."
The EIA study noted that 2007 was the fourth year in a row that renewable energy's portion of total power generation increased, but non-hydro renewables still only accounted for 2.5 percent of total electricity generation that year. And, although the United States became the world's largest wind power producer in 2008, continued growth of the renewable energy industry—and tens of thousands of jobs—are dependent on enactment of the clean energy provisions of President Obama's economic recovery package, Nogee said.
Today the House will vote on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which would quadruple investment in energy efficiency for buildings and appliances and boost research and development funding for renewable energy sources by 225 percent, according to the Center for American Progress. A new Renewable Energy Loan Guarantee program would provide $8 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy projects.
"Congress can either choose to promote job expansion in the wind industry, which currently employs more than 80,000, or stand by as tens of thousands in the industry lose their jobs due to the credit crunch and the expiration of the wind energy tax credit at the end of this year," Nogee said. He called on Congress to pass a multiyear extension of the tax credit and restructure it to account for the recession, allowing companies to use it even if they have no tax liabilities.
As early as mid-February, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee may begin hearings on a federal renewable electricity standard, which would require utilities to obtain a specific percentage of their power from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and biomass, by a certain date. This type of standard, which 28 states and the District of Columbia already have adopted, has helped create a market in which renewable energy projects have thrived.
Nogee urged Congress to pass a national standard requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025, a target that President Obama supported during his campaign. "State standards have helped renewable energy break records in installed capacity," Nogee said, "but we need a federal standard to help the economy recover quickly and transform the nation's energy system over the long run."
In addition to fostering clean energy development, renewable electricity standards help stabilize and even lower energy bills for consumers, according to a number of studies. A national standard also would generate well-paying local jobs and help fight global warming, according to UCS analyses, other independent studies, and government reports.
"Renewable energy is a bright spot in our woefully dreary economic picture," said Nogee. "Now's the time to stoke the development, not snuff it out. Congress knows how to do it – more tax incentives and a strong national renewable electricity standard."

US wind energy grows by record 8,300 MW in 2008

The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing 8,358 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity (enough to serve over 2 million homes), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today, even as it warned of an uncertain outlook for 2009 due to the continuing financial crisis.
The massive growth in 2008 swelled the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50% and channeled an investment of some $17 billion into the economy, positioning wind power as one of the leading sources of new power generation in the country today along with natural gas, AWEA added. At year’s end, however, financing for new projects and orders for turbine components slowed to a trickle and layoffs began to hit the wind turbine manufacturing sector.
“Our numbers are both exciting and sobering,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “The U.S. wind energy industry’s performance in 2008 confirms that wind is an economic and job creation dynamo, ready to deliver on the President’s call to double renewable energy production in three years. At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development. We are already seeing layoffs in the area where wind’s promise is greatest for our economy: the wind power manufacturing sector. Quick action in the stimulus bill is vital to restore the industry’s momentum and create jobs as we help make our country more secure and leave a more stable climate for our children.”
The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally last year, according to initial estimates, and will avoid nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking over 7 million cars off of the road.
The amount that the industry brought online in the 4th quarter alone – 4,112 MW - exceeds annual additions for every year except 2007. In all, wind energy generating capacity in the U.S. now stands at 25,170 MW, producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of close to 7 million households and strengthening our national energy supply with a clean, inexhaustible, homegrown source of energy.
Iowa, with 2,790 MW installed, surpassed California (2,517 MW) in wind power generating capacity. The top five states in terms of capacity installed are now:
-Texas, with 7,116 MW
-Iowa, with 2,790 MW
-California, with 2,517 MW
-Minnesota, with 1,752 MW
-Washington, with 1,375 MW
Oregon moved into the club of states with more than 1,000 MW installed, which now counts seven states: Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon.
About 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry today, up from 50,000 a year ago, and hold jobs in areas as varied as turbine component manufacturing, construction and installation of wind turbines, wind turbine operations and maintenance, legal and marketing services, and more. About 8,000 of these jobs are construction jobs, and a significant number of those will be lost in 2009 if financing for the pipeline of new projects is not quickly restored.
Wind power’s recent growth has also accelerated job creation in manufacturing, where the share of domestically manufactured wind turbine components has grown from under 30% in 2005 to about 50% in 2008. Wind turbine and turbine component manufacturers announced, added or expanded 70 new facilities in the past two years, including over 55 in 2008 alone. Those new manufacturing facilities created 13,000 new direct jobs in 2008. However, because of the recent slowdown in orders, wind turbine and turbine component manufacturers in different parts of the country are beginning to announce layoffs.
“The hope is that provisions such as those included in the House stimulus bill to restore the effectiveness of the tax incentives for renewable energy will quickly become law and provide the capital needed to continue to build projects,” said Bode. “Because wind projects can be built quickly, positive legislation from Congress will have immediate and visible effects. Looking forward, it will also be important for the new Administration and Congress to put in place long-term, supportive renewable energy policies to make the new clean energy economy a reality.”
State-by state installation information is available at www.awea.org/projects. For more on the policies that are needed see http://www.newwindagenda.org/.