Monday, August 31, 2009

Heliatek reaches 6% efficiency for organic solar cells

Heliatek GmbH (Dresden/Ulm) develops organic solar cells consisting of so called “small molecules” - organic dyes which are synthesized from hydrocarbons. Those solar cells are characterized by low cost, short energy payback time and inexhaustible availability of raw materials.

In excess of low expenses, the customer’s benefits are highly flexible and light-weight modules (0.5 kg/m²), since the future product is going to be manufactured on foil substrates in a continuous vacuum coating process.

Recently, Fraunhofer ISE certified a power conversion efficiency of 6.07 % for a tandem solar cell using Heliatek’s proprietary tandem cell technology. The cell with an active area of 2 cm² already possesses many of the essential characteristics of a large solar module. It was developed by Heliatek in cooperation with the Institute of Applied Photo Physics (IAPP) of the Technical University of Dresden based on results of the projects “Innoprofile” and “OPEG”, both sponsored by BMBF. The result represents an important milestone on Heliatek’s way to production of organic solar cells. In medium-term, it is planned to increase the conversation efficiency to 10%.

As a next step on the way to mass production, Heliatek will cooperate with Fraunhofer IPMS in Dresden, having many years of experience with technological issues of organic electronics.

Their Center for Organic Materials and Electronic Devices Dresden (COMEDD) is the leading centre for production technologies of OLEDs, devices which are very similar to Heliatek’s solar technology as far as production is concerned. To consolidate forces, the company founded in 2006 runs several joint research projects with the Fraunhofer IPMS.

LDK Solar Partners with Suqian City for 300 MW of PV Projects

LDK Solar Co., Ltd, a leading manufacturer of multicrystalline solar wafers,today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Suqian City of Jiangsu Province for the development of PV power projects. According to the agreement, LDK Solar will develop PV power projects in buildings, plants and integration systems, totaling up to 300 MW by 2015. The terms, including financing, design and specific location of each of the projects, will require a feasibility study as well as final approval from relevant governmental departments prior to initiation.

"Suqian City has unique advantages in developing PV projects, with average annual sunshine of up to 3,000 hours as well as strong support from the government for growing the solar energy industry," stated Xu Huiming, Vice Mayor of Suqian City. "Suqian City has become a leading area for the development of the solar PV industry and we hope that our partnership with LDK Solar will further increase our solar resources and promote the expansion of the local solar industry."

"We are very excited to partner with Suqian City and to support the development of its local economy and Chinese solar industry," stated Xiaofeng Peng, Chairman and CEO of LDK Solar. "We are encouraged by the continued support from our government for PV projects and pleased with the enthusiasm for this partnership demonstrated by Suqian City."

The PV application market has been rapidly developing in China this year and the Chinese government is supporting the establishment of the domestic PV market through the use of governmental financial subsidies.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Turning sewage from Kenyan prisons into biogas

This article is one in a series featuring finalists from World Challenge 09 - a global competition seeking to identify and reward projects and businesses which bring economic, social and environmental benefits to local communities through grassroots solutions.

World Challenge 09 finalist - Kenya Biogas
Kenya Biogas Project was created to promote an environmentally friendly way of tapping biogas as a clean source of energy. Its objective is to replace wood with human waste in the production of biogas in Kenyan prisons, reducing the negative environmental impact from using firewood as cooking fuel. The project looks to create a model for producing biogas that demonstrates human waste, not just animal waste, can be used as the raw material. The gas is then used in the prison kitchen and to fuel water boilers.

What are the benefits to the community and environment?
Substitution of firewood with biogas as fuel in the prison reduces deforestation. This benefits the community in the long-term by increasing the amount of rainfall and helping to reduce drought, which in turn helps to improve food security. Food security translates to improved health, which helps to improve economic prosperity in the community. Water used to transport the prisoners' waste to the biogas plant is recycled and can be reused for agricultural purposes. Recycled water is better for agriculture since it has nutrients required by crops.

How has the project changed people lives?
Use of biogas in prison kitchens has helped to improve the health of prisoners involved in cooking by mitigating the harmful effects of inhaling firewood smoke. The prison’s biogas plant can be used to treat diseases that pose high health risks to the community. The project has helped curb diseases such as cholera that were rampant in Meru Prison and its environs as a result of contaminated water. It has also shown the community that there is an alternative to firewood that is cheaper in the long term.

World Challenge '09 - who will get your vote?
It's up to the public to decide who wins this year's World Challenge competition. Online voting opens on 28 September and runs to 13 November. BBC World News is broadcasting six 30-minute programmes profiling each of the 12 World Challenge 09 finalists throughout October and November.

Find out more
World Challenge website and online voting:
Kenya Biogas Project:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Xantrex solar inverter & PV Box in largest Canadian solar installation

This is the first installation of the Xantrex and Schneider Electric one megawatt (MW) PV Box Solar Power Conversion Substation – a complete solar power solution that includes two Xantrex GT500 inverters, system monitoring, security detection, and lighting in an integrated solution.

The units were selected by EDF EN Canada, an EDF Energies Nouvelles Company, for use in its 23.4 MW Arnprior Solar Project scheduled to start operating in December 2009. The Project is being developed as two installations under the Government of Ontario’s Standard Offer Program, which was formed to help replace coal-fired power generation.

"We are excited to be part of the largest Canadian solar installation to be completed this year,” says Ted Campbell, President and CEO of Xantrex Technology Inc. “The PV Box designed and built by Xantrex and Schneider is another industry first and we are pleased to offer our global customers a comprehensive electrical solution which dramatically reduces solar plant installation costs. By reducing installation costs via turn-key PV substations, we are doing our part to make solar energy more affordable and a better alternative to other forms of power generation."

EDF EN Canada’s President and CEO Tristan Grimbert adds, "This project is a great advancement in Ontario's long-term commitment to solar power energy. Installing the Xantrex/Schneider PV Box means a lower installation cost and reduced installation time for the project. We are confident that the PV Box combined with EDF EN’s expertise in project design, development and management will result in a successful installation."

Greenest Universities: Greenopia Ranking

Universities aren't shy about touting their green initiatives, and for good reason. When making a decision about what college to attend, as well as who to work for after they've graduated, most Millenials will opt for the greener choice. But a few well-publicized green initiatives don't make a college more environmentally-friendly than the next; Yale has gotten tons of press about its planet-friendly practices, but it was beaten out by fellow Ivy Harvard, in Greenopia's recently-released environmental rating of 100 of the largest universities in the United States.

At the top of the list, receiving 4 out of a possible 4 leafs were the University of Washington (for 4 LEED buildings and 25% of food served in cafeterias being locally-grown, as well as a comprehensive composting program) and the University of California at Santa Barbara. UCSB got top marks for having 6 LEED-certified buildings (with 20! more on the way) and a recycling rate of 62%

Rounding out the top 10 greenest schools were the University of Oregon, the University of California at Davis, Colorado State, Stanford, Harvard, Penn State, the University of California at San Diego, and Duke.“Rating the environmental performance of a university is a daunting task”, said Doug Mazeffa, Greenopia’s Research Director. “There are many different criteria that must be considered before any conclusions can be drawn.”

Data was collected from the university itself or from other credible sources pertaining to the green building design, waste program, food selection, campus vehicle fleet, water conservation measures, climate performance, renewable energy usage, and the overall environmental transparency of the school.“It was fascinating to see the variability in the environmental performance of each university”, said Gay Browne, CEO of Greenopia. “Some schools have made a tremendous effort, while others really have yet to make any significant changes to their policies.”

Click here to see the full rankings and all the Universitys' rankings.
by Starre Vartan, Greenopia Editor

Friday, August 14, 2009

Biofuels market to triple from $76 billion to $240 billion by 2020

In a positive outlook for the biodiesel industry, Pike Research, a new cleantech analysis firm headquartered in Boulder, Colo., has predicted robust growth over the long-term for the global renewables market. “The study started out as an assessment of technologies in the biofuels industries, but then it grew into a more of a market analysis,” said Robert McDonald, author of the report.

Growth on the supply side was linked to game changing technologies related to biofuels processing. “In the biofuels world, feedstock is king and any technology that provides additional feedstock is a game changer to me,” McDonald told Biodiesel Magazine. “I think the technology developed by Clayton McNeff [of Ever Cat Fuels in Isanti, Minn.] for making biodiesel from trap grease is one of the developments that is very exciting.”

Recycled greases, however, do not have the same potential that algae or jatropha holds for the biodiesel industry over the long term, the Pike Report said. “They’re planting a lot of jatropha right now, but it will take four to five years to mature, so we’re looking at 2013-2014 before it starts to make an impact,” McDonald said.

Making algae oil for biodiesel production is still a long way off as well and sometimes seems unrealistic despite the intense amount of attention it has received from oil companies, government and the press. It’s still five years out from being commercially viable, a timetable that causes skepticism from critics. “There will be several 18 month cycles before we start seeing biodiesel made from algae [at the commercial scale],” McDonald said. “But there have been too may breakthroughs and too much investment, so it will happen.”

In terms of methodology used to distinguish viable new technologies from the hype associated with renewables, McDonald said he looked for corroboration. For instance, Aurora Biofuels in Florida announced it had found a way to harvest algae oil using the same methods as waste-water treatment plants. Then a few weeks later the research arm of the Australian government made a similar announcement. “That’s what we are looking for,” McDonald said. “When legitimate organizations make similar discoveries independently that seem to corroborate each other, I think it gives credence to the commercial development and growth of the technology.”

While biodiesel growth on the supply side is seen as related to feedstock expansion from new processing capabilities, demand acceleration is linked to government mandates, McDonald said. “Most of the major regional markets already have mandates for use and I think we will see more issued in the near future.”

The Pike Report said that the biofuels market has the potential to triple within the next decade.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ARIES Biodiesel System Successfully Demonstrated

A collaborative effort by the U.S. Navy, Biodiesel Industries, Inc. and Aerojet successfully demonstrated methods to produce cleaner and more reliable sources of renewable fuels for military use. The system, named ARIES (Automated Real-time, Remote, Integrated Energy System), is a highly automated, portable biodiesel production unit that can be controlled from a remote location. These features ensure reliable process control and optimal production yields in a system that can be readily and widely deployed.

ARIES is the culmination of more than six years of research, development, demonstration and validation by the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center (NFESC) and Biodiesel Industries. The addition of Aerojet’s expertise in integrated system design, fluidic management and control systems development, coupled with decades of experience in chemical formulation processes has allowed the partnership to make extraordinary strides in the last 12 months.

“Aerojet and the Navy are the perfect partners for this endeavor,” explained Russell Teall, president and founder of Biodiesel Industries. “For the past 15 years we have been developing proprietary technology for modular multi-feedstock biodiesel production. Combining NFESC’s specialization in energy and environmental systems with Aerojet’s history of advanced systems controls, enabled the implementation and first public demonstration of Biodiesel Industries’ ARIES platform. We are excited to see this technology emerge as the result of the Navy’s long-term commitment to utilize renewable fuels. As the world’s largest consumer of diesel fuel, the implications for the Navy and the DoD are clear: energy self-sufficiency is not only a matter of national security, but also provides tremendous environmental and economic benefits.”

A key issue with biofuel production has been the ability to access inexpensive feedstocks that do not compete with agricultural land use or the production of food. The ability to use locally available non-food feedstocks for biodiesel requires a flexible production process and technical expertise and control not easily associated with small- scale facilities. However, with ARIES, one data and process control center has the potential to remotely operate hundreds of scalable facilities integrated with next-generation feedstock cultivation, producing millions of gallons of biofuel per year.

“Biodiesel Industries’ years of advanced work with jatropha, algae and other biofuel feedstocks are critically important to the ARIES platform. In the coming months, we expect to announce several new developments with our proprietary methods of feedstock cultivation that make the ARIES system an ideal solution for the Navy with significant implications in the commercial sector as well,” according to JJ Rothgery, Chairman of the Board of Biodiesel Industries.

“Aerojet is excited to be a part of this visionary team and looks forward to contributing to our nation’s goal of energy independence,” said Scott Neish, president of Aerojet. “As Aerojet expands the energy management capabilities we developed from decades of work in aerospace and defense into new markets, collaborating with Biodiesel Industries is a perfect fit. This collaboration has allowed us to leverage our experience with the pioneers of this field, significantly enhancing the production of biofuels as we know it today.”

ARIES incorporates Aerojet’s systems control technologies to provide real-time sensing and management of key chemistry and processing parameters. These technologies, coupled with Biodiesel Industries’ 10-year production database, allow automation of the entire process, resulting in enhanced yields, reliable quality control and personnel safety assurance. Remote sensing also enables monitoring and operation from a single data and process control center for biodiesel production facilities in numerous locations around the world.

Following the recent successful demonstration of ARIES for the U.S. Navy, additional capabilities are now being installed and the unit will be moved to the National Environmental Test Site at Naval Base Ventura County, in Port Hueneme, Calif. There, the ARIES system will undergo further demonstration and validation leading to integration with more complex systems.

Monday, August 10, 2009

3rd Renewable Energy India 2009 Expo

Starting today, the 3rd Renewable Energy India 2009 is a global platform to showcase the potential of power generation using renewable resources. The expo, adorning 3-day long concurrent conference sessions, is intended to be a forum to nurture business contacts, imbibe latest technological trends and prepare for the exponential growth of this sector in India.
August 10-13 2009, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, India

Thursday, August 06, 2009

PECO: $650 M smart grid plan, to save customers $1,5 Bn

PECO Announces Plans For Advanced Smart Grid; $650 million plan could save customers $1.5 billion, create about 4,300 ‘job years’ and reduce energy use to help the environment

In one of the largest investments in company history, PECO today announced ambitious plans to install more than 1.6 million residential and commercial smart meters, deploy advanced communications networks, and utilize the latest in digital smart grid technology. The $650 million plans, to be filed this month with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), could save customers about $1.5 billion during the life of the project, improve service and benefit the environment. Additional information can be found at

The company’s plans include building an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), providing smart meters for 600,000 customers by 2012 and all 1.6 million customers in 10 years, and upgrading the company’s electric transmission and distribution system with the ability to identify and correct certain system problems before they impact customers.

The first plan, filed today with the DOE, seeks $200 million in matching funds through the federal stimulus grant program. Included in the submission are letters of support from nearly 100 organizations including: members of Congress; city, county and state officials; chambers of commerce; and vendors. A stimulus grant would allow for a faster, wider smart meter and smart grid deployment.

“PECO is making long-term investments in critical infrastructure that will deliver significant benefits to our customers, the communities we serve, and the environment,” said Denis O’Brien, PECO president and CEO. “Our smart meters and smart grid will make a meaningful difference to our customers through reduced energy costs and enhanced operational performance, and they also will position our region to attract new energy-related businesses and jobs.”

“We imagine a day coming soon in which customers can get real-time information about how they use energy and energy costs. They will be able to remotely control appliances, save money and help the environment. We envision a more modern, highly reliable energy delivery system that will not only keep the lights on, but better accommodate electric vehicles, energy storage facilities, and renewable energy,” O’Brien said.

ConEdison launches smart grid pilot in NY

Will Test Solar Energy, Smart Meters, Plug-In Car Technology

Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. announced that it is launching a $6 million smart grid pilot program in northwest Queens that will test how various technologies support efforts to modernize the electric grid. It will provide customers with more information about their energy usage, and help customers use energy more efficiently and save on their electricity bills.

Smart grids integrate information and communication technology into electricity generation, delivery, and consumption, making systems cleaner, safer, more reliable and efficient. Con Edison’s 18-month demonstration project combines cutting edge technology with existing innovations that allow, for example, the utility to test and evaluate the company’s response to customer use and power interruptions.

“New York City will be a model showing how smart grid technologies can work together in dense urban areas,” said Kevin Burke, Chairman and CEO of Con Edison. “Smart grids will change the way we manage the grid, and can change the way customers manage their energy usage. Our vision is to identify grid innovations that can be reliable and cost effective, and provide increased flexibility for customers in the ways they make energy choices.”

One of the innovations involves a distributed generation project with the City University of New York to study how solar energy can be integrated into the New York City electric grid. The solar energy will be obtained from a 100kW photovoltaic system on the roof of LaGuardia Community College.

“With this ‘smart grid’ agreement, CUNY is partnering with Con Edison to create a roadmap for New York and an example for the nation as we move toward energy independence,” said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “The University’s faculty and researchers will continue to work closely with Con Edison to identify new solar and renewable energy opportunities.”

Con Edison’s comprehensive, urban city smart grid pilot will take place within the company’s Long Island City network, an 8.3 square-mile-area, which has a customer density mixture representative of other areas in the company’s system. The network entirely or partly includes the neighborhoods of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside. The location of the smart grid pilot also gives Con Edison greater flexibility by housing necessary equipment on its own property.

Approximately 1,500 customers will receive smart meters, the main component of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Other AMI features include automatic outage notification, remote meter reading, remote reconnection and the ability to communicate energy usage information via other smart building technology to web portals or in-home displays. The web portals and in-home displays can show energy usage by appliance and nearly 300 eligible customers will test this technology.

The demonstration program also tests the integration of:

* intelligent underground systems that can monitor, isolate and correct distribution problems to improve reliability;

* a commercial customer’s energy generator and renewable energy resources, such as solar energy, into the grid; and

* plug-in electric vehicles and their charging stations.

The research and development project is the company’s first step in an effort to expand smart grid technology throughout New York City and Westchester County. Con Edison will continue working with the state Public Service Commission, other stakeholders, and industry groups to grow and expand smart grid technology across the system.

By the end of this month, Con Edison will file proposals with the U.S. Department of Energy for stimulus funds to help finance approximately $375 million in smart grid projects. Stimulus grants, if secured, will broaden the scope of the company’s smart grid efforts. Some of these projects include the addition of more than 40,000 smart meters, more intelligent underground and overhead systems, and a sophisticated command and control network that will serve as the “brain” of an enhanced Con Edison smart grid.

Also, the utility has worked closely with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the non-profit organization that recently delivered a smart grid interoperability roadmap report to the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, which will oversee development and implementation of national advanced grid standards.

“We are working with Con Edison on the Queens smart grid project to demonstrate the concept of interoperability that will be critical for widespread deployment of smart grid,” said Arshad Mansoor, vice president of Power Delivery and Utilization at EPRI.

“This is another example of Con Edison working with our community to make an innovative national energy movement a reality here in our backyard,” said Gayle Baron, president of the Long Island City Business Development Corporation. “We're pleased the Long Island City area has been chosen to be one of a small number of communities around the nation to be included in a comprehensive smart grid project.”

“Queens looks forward to hosting new technologies that will serve as the foundation for a New York City smart grid,” said Al Pennisi, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. "We will work closely with Con Edison to stay abreast of innovations that will have a positive impact on our business community, helping them to manage their energy costs or pursue green alternatives.”

Con Edison’s smart grid pilot project was developed after five years of research and development. Smart grid technology is part of the company’s EnergyNY plan (, a blueprint that balances energy-efficiency initiatives with infrastructure investments to meet the region’s increasing need for energy.

eSolar unveils first US solar thermal power plant

Company's Breakthrough Technology Enables New Blueprint for Solar Thermal Deployment

Lancaster, Calif. – August 5, 2009 – With 24,000 mirrors glimmering under the Antelope Valley summer sun, eSolar, a leading provider of modular, scalable solar thermal power technology, today unveiled its 5-megawatt (MW) Sierra SunTower solar power plant. The full-scale power plant, the only power tower of its kind in the U.S., produces electricity for Southern California Edison (SCE) and can power more than 4,000 homes in California's Antelope Valley.

The eSolar technology resolves many of the problems that have held back large scale solar in the past including cost, speed of deployment and proximity to existing transmission lines. eSolar uses advanced software algorithms to precisely focus thousands of mirrors on a single point to efficiently harvest the sun's energy and achieve economies of scale with a smaller footprint than anyone else in the business.

"Today, we unveil a new blueprint for solar energy — one that leverages Moore's law rather than more steel," said Bill Gross, CEO of eSolar. "Sierra is just the beginning. Soon eSolar technology will be deployed worldwide to provide clean, affordable energy to hundreds of thousands of homes."

Constructed in less than one year, eSolar's Sierra SunTower power plant marks the first of several developments in the Antelope Valley region using eSolar technology. Over the course of construction, this project created 300 jobs.

"With today's historic plant opening, eSolar is proving that California's energy and environmental leadership are advancing carbon-free, cost-effective energy that can be used around the world," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "Through measures such as AB 32 and the California Solar Initiative, I have worked to create an environment that allows companies such as eSolar to thrive in our state — creating green jobs, boosting our economy and preparing us for the energy demands of the future."

eSolar received the support and cooperation of the City of Lancaster throughout the construction process. "The City of Lancaster is proud to be home to the nation's newest solar power tower plant. This plant and eSolar's progressive growth plans throughout the Antelope Valley are the crown jewels in our ongoing effort to truly become the Alternative Energy Capital of the World," said R. Rex Parris, Mayor of Lancaster.

eSolar develops its California projects on parcels of previously disturbed private lands, avoiding many of the permitting and environmental pitfalls of development on pristine desert lands. Located in northern Lancaster, Sierra SunTower is built on private land designated for heavy industrial use. The decision to site projects solely on private land is unique within the utility-scale solar industry, and the distinction has garnered support from local environmental advocates.

"eSolar demonstrates that pristine wildlands do not have to be sacrificed in order to keep the lights on with clean energy," remarked David Myers, Executive Director of the Wildlands Conservancy. "eSolar's efforts to reduce its impact on the surrounding environment demonstrates a level of foresight we hope to see from other solar developers in the future."

Sierra SunTower was fully financed and developed by eSolar, proving the rapid deployment, pre-fabricated method eSolar patented and pioneered. Building on Sierra's success, eSolar will deploy many more plants around the country and around the world. In February, eSolar announced an agreement with NRG Energy, Inc. to develop three plants in California and New Mexico that will generate up to 465 megawatts of electricity using eSolar technology. Additionally, in March, eSolar licensed its technology to India-based ACME Group for approximately 1 gigawatt of eSolar solar thermal capacity.

"Today we take an important step to a new dawn of power generation," said David Crane, President and CEO of NRG Energy. "With eSolar demonstrating the commercial viability of solar thermal power on a large scale, and with NRG planning to implement the technology at scale across the Southwest, we will begin to harness the sun to power our lives."

Streaming live at 10 am PST and on demand immediately following the event:

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

DOE: $327 Million new funding for science & energy security research

U.S Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that more than $327 million in new funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will go toward scientific research, instrumentation, and laboratory infrastructure projects. Ten of DOE’s national laboratories in six states will be receiving funds, along with researchers at institutions of higher learning across the nation.

“These new initiatives will help to create new jobs while allowing the U.S. to maintain its scientific leadership and economic competitiveness ,” said Secretary Steven Chu. “The projects provide vital funding and new tools for research aimed at strengthening America’s energy security and tackling some of science’s toughest challenges.”

Of the $327 million in Recovery Act funding announced today, $107.5 million is slated to go to universities, nonprofit organizations, and private firms, generally on a competitive, peer-reviewed basis. The remaining $220 million will go to U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories for a range of research, instrumentation, and infrastructure projects, including $164.7 million for projects already allocated as follows:

- Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; Batavia, IL—$60.2 million, including $52.7 million for research on next-generation particle accelerator technologies; and $7.5 for neutrino research in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory.

- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Berkeley, CA—$ 37.8 million, including $13.1 million to upgrade equipment at the DOE Joint Genome Institute; $11 million for fusion energy research; $8.8 million for equipment improvements at the Advanced Light Source; $4 million for new instrumentation at the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute, one of three DOE Bioenergy Research Centers; and $875,000 for mathematical analysis related to the development of Smart Grid technology.

- SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; Stanford, CA—$21.8 million, including $20 million for an experimental end station at the Linac Coherent Light Source to study high energy density plasmas; and $1.8 million for improvements at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource.

- Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; Princeton, NJ—$13.8 million, including $8.8 million for a variety of initiatives in fusion energy research and $5 million for infrastructure improvements at the laboratory.

- Brookhaven National Laboratory; Upton, NY—$9.5 million, including $3 million for improvements at the National Synchrotron Light Source; and $6.5 million for neutrino research.

- Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Oak Ridge, TN—$8.7 million, including $5.4 million for equipment at the DOE BioEnergy Science Center, a DOE Bioenergy Research Center; $3.2 million to seed development of computerized knowledgebase to integrate masses of data flowing from DOE-supported genomics and systems biology research; and $180,000 for fusion energy research.

- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Richland, WA—$5.7 million, including $4.9 million for integrated assessment modeling for climate; and $867,000 for mathematical analysis related to the development of Smart Grid.

- Argonne National Laboratory; Argonne, IL—$5.6 million for improvements at the Advanced Photon Source.

- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Livermore, CA—$810,000 for fusion energy research.

- Sandia National Laboratories; Sandia, NM, and Sandia, CA—$800,000, including $688,000 for mathematical analysis related to the development of Smart Grid; and $75,000 for fusion energy research.

In March Secretary Chu announced $1.2 billion in DOE Office of Science Recovery Act projects. In July, DOE announced a new Office of Science Early Career Research Program to be funded with $85 million in Recovery Act funds. With this third and final round of projects, the Obama Administration has now approved projects covering the full $1.6 billion that the DOE Office of Science received from Congress under the Recovery Act.

Walmart goes solar with SunEdison

Walmart Puerto Rico and SunEdison, North America's largest solar energy services provider, today announced plans to deploy rooftop solar systems on five Walmart PR stores with the potential for 23 stores over five years. The project will be the largest renewable energy project ever developed on the island. Given traditional energy rates, the systems will provide Walmart long-term predictably priced solar-generated energy.

Under a solar power services agreement with Walmart, SunEdison will finance, own, build and operate the photovoltaic solar energy systems, which deliver long-term, low-risk returns to project financiers. Construction on the first 895kW rooftop system at Walmart Supercenter Caguas is scheduled to begin before the end of 2009.

Each solar power-generating system installed may vary, but across the Puerto Rico sites, on average a system can provide 25 to 35 percent of the power for the store or club on which it is installed. Throughout the duration of a 15 year contract, the zero-emission systems are projected to produce 90 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity.

Renzo Casillo, president & CEO of Walmart Puerto Rico added that, "we are transforming every aspect of our operation, and that includes energy consumption. Today, our new Walmart stores are 21 percent more energy-efficient than our original 2005 stores. Through the implementation of energy-saving strategies and the installation of energy-efficient equipments, last year we achieved an 8.7 percent reduction in energy consumption compared to the previous year. With this solar energy project we'll continue to broaden our efforts towards our main objective and commitment of being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy".

SunEdison COO Carlos Domenech said, "We commend Walmart's aggressive leadership in renewable energy as a model for all industries. Our collaboration in Puerto Rico will provide a long-term financial return on Walmart's investment in energy. The project also brings the solar industry to Puerto Rico with well-paying jobs for the island on top of the reduction of greenhouse gases to improve the environment."

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Renewable Energy Certificates - Ethics and Vintages

The following white paper is available in pdf format at

Renewable Energy Certificate Background

According to the World Resources Institute, Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are:

“Tradable instruments which can be used to meet voluntary renewable energy targets as well as to meet compliance requirements for renewable energy policies. A REC is a certificate that indicates the generation of one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity from an eligible source of renewable power. Each REC denotes the underlying generation source, location of generation, and year of generation (a.k.a. “vintage”).“

World Resources Institute (WRI) The Bottom Line on Renewable Energy Certificates – November 2008

Many LEED Rating Systems currently encourage the purchase of RECs as a compliance path under the “Green Power” or “On-site & Off-site Renewable Energy” credit. The intent and requirements for this credit reads as follows:

“Encourage the development and use of grid-source, renewable energy technologies on anet zero pollution basis.”

“The owner and project team have the option of purchasing Green-e accredited TradableRenewable Certificates (RECs). In this case, the team purchases a quantity of RECs equal to [a percentage] of the predicted annual electrical consumption over a two year period (which is equivalent to [double the percentage] of predicted annual electrical consumption if all of the RECs are purchased at one time).”

USGBC LEED for New Construction Version 2.2 – pages 227-231

According to the above quote from the USGBC, RECs must cover electricity consumption over a two year period. However, purchasing single year vintage RECs for double the annual electricity consumption is not equivalent to a two year contract, and does not meet Green-e Energy standards described in the next section.

The USGBC requires the Renewable Energy Certificates to conform to the standards of Green-e Energy, a leader in Renewable Energy standards as described below:

“Green-e Energy is the nation's leading voluntary certification program for renewable energy. For over a decade, Green-e Energy has been certifying renewable energy that meets environmental and consumer protection standards that it developed in conjunction with leading environmental, energy and policy organizations.”

Green-e Energy Website

Renewable Energy Certificate Vintages

Carbon Solutions Group believes that REC purchases used for LEED projects should be based on the concept of vintages. The importance of vintage based purchases is supported by World Resources Institute as stated previously, and by Green-e Energy as follows:

“The vintage of a REC is the date that the electric generation associated with the REC was measured by the system operator or utility meter at the generator site.”

Green-e Glossary -

“Section III B – Vintage Requirements – A Green-e Energy Certified product [i.e. REC] may include only renewables that are generated in the calendar year in which the product is sold, the first three months of the following calendar year, or the last six months of the prior calendar year.”

Green-e National Standards Version 1.6 – 12/5/2008 – Page 6

According to other Green Power procurement programs including the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership, EPACT 2005 and Executive Order 13423:

“RECs purchased for a given contract year must meet REC “vintage” requirements, i.e., the energy they represent must be generated during the same defined contract year. They may also be generated six (6) months immediately preceding each contract year of the period of performance, or three (3) months immediately following each contract year of performance. This is consistent with recommended practice for the EPA Green Power Partnerships.”

Renewable Energy Requirement Guidance for EPACT 2005 and Executive Order 13423

Federally funded buildings must comply with the above statement regarding REC vintages. In other words, the REC volumes and vintages for any contract must match the corresponding years and quantities within the contract. The intent is to match the REC vintage and quantities with the consumption dates as closely as possible, mimicking the way a utility provides green power. For example, a two year contract from 2010-2012 must contain the appropriate percentage of REC vintages from each of the years in the contract.

Based on Green-e Energy requirements that a certified product must be generated and sold for use in the same calendar year (or six months prior and three months after), a purchase of single year vintage RECs for a multi-year claim can only be Green-e Energy certifiable for the first contract year. For example, a two year contract from 2010-2012 cannot be Green-e Energy certifiable beyond the first year (2010-2011) if the total electricity consumption for the two year contract is provided by vintage 2010 RECs. Therefore, we believe any purchase without regard for correct sourcing of vintages does not fulfill the United States Green Building Council’s (USBGC) requirements for a two year purchase agreement that meets Green-e Energy National standards.

Furthermore, through the alternate LEED Green Power compliance path, all utility green power procurement programs are required to source appropriate vintages in a Green-e Energy eligible “bundled” (Electricity with RECs) delivery method. Again, the intent is to match REC vintage with the dates of consumption as closely as possible, replicating the way green power (the actual electrons) is generated and consumed.

Purchasing RECs to Build the Renewable Energy Market

Green-e Energy and the USGBC have expressed concern over confusion in the REC market stemming from low cost RECs sourced without regard for vintages:

"In Green-e discussions with the LEED Energy & Atmosphere Technical Advisory Group (EA TAG) it came up that there is concern from the USGBC about the value of very inexpensive RECs. Certain members of the EA TAG feel that an inexpensive REC does very little to build new generation or change the market.”

Green-e Energy Update email – June 3, 2009

By making vintage based REC investments, the LEED program can play a vital role in building and sustaining a market that incentivizes renewable energy capacity on our nation’s grid. RECs will most likely be a more valuable commodity in the future with the relative certainty of a Federal Renewable Energy Standard requiring a percentage of electricity generation to come from renewable sources, and by sourcing correct vintages, the problem of “very inexpensive RECs” will be stabilized by the market for future RECs.

The intent of the USGBC in the Green Power Point is to “encourage the development and use of grid-source, renewable energy technologies on a net zero pollution basis.” We believe that a long term (2 years or more) contract with a renewable energy generator creates a guaranteed future revenue stream more likely to incentivize renewable energy generation than a short term contract. By sourcing RECs that match actual electricity consumption, the REC provider is able to negotiate long term contracts for RECs with renewable energy producers, such as a pulp mill in Georgia or a biofuel plant in Alabama.

These long term contracts provide renewable energy producers with something more valuable than a dollar in their pocket - it affords them long term investment planning certainty for their business. Without attention and support for vintages, these generators cannot have the certainty that a dollar today is anything more than stewardship fad.


Renewable Energy Certificates play an important role in supporting renewable energy production in the United States. The LEED market has the potential to incentivize the industry further, and the best way to support an emerging industry is a long term contract that aligns the years of generation with the years of consumption.

Based on Green-e Energy requirements, an up-front purchase of single year vintage RECs for a multi-year claim can only be Green-e Energy eligible for the first contract year. Therefore, we believe any purchase without regard for correct sourcing of vintages does not fulfill the USGBC’s requirements for a two year Green-e Energy certifiable contract.

Furthermore, by supporting clean renewable energy in a more economically sustainable manner, long term REC contracts based on vintages could remedy the stigma held by some building professionals that RECs are simply a way to “purchase cheap LEED points”.

The voluntary LEED market has the potential to advance a number of environmental initiatives completely independent of Federal or State regulation. To extend its influence further outside of the built environment, the USGBC should continue to maximize the potential of these emerging environmental markets by incentivizing building professionals to invest in environmental assets associated with the building industry.

Furthermore, we believe that mandating the correct sourcing of REC vintages for all eligible LEED projects will have the greatest impact on the USGBC’s Green Power Point credit intent - “to encourage the development and use of grid-source, renewable energy technologies on a net zero pollution basis.”

Carbon Solutions Group Background

Carbon Solutions Group is an environmental asset management, trading and development firm founded in 2006. Carbon Solutions Group is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and has offices in San Francisco; and Lima, Peru. Our staff consists of financial traders, business/policy analysts, and environmental consultants. These diverse backgrounds enable Carbon Solutions Group to deliver well-rounded solutions within our specific core competencies of environmental asset valuation, trading, and risk management.

Carbon Solutions Group has been in the voluntary Renewable Energy Certificate market since early 2007. Our primary focus is working with LEED clients to obtain Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for their green building projects. Since 2007, the voluntary market has fluctuated widely in price and quantity of RECs. Concurrently, Carbon Solutions Group has remained steadfast in its stance on Renewable Energy Certificates, especially regarding ethics and vintages.


Chicago Climate Futures Exchange -

EPA’s Green Power Partnership: Partnership Requirements - April 2009

Green-e Energy National Standard Version 1.6 - Modified 12/5/2008

Guide to Purchasing Green Power - EPA, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the World Resources Institute, and the Center for Resource Solutions - September 2004

Renewable Energy Requirement Guidance for EPACT 2005 and Executive Order 13423 - January 28, 2008

United States Green Building Council

World Resources Institute: Bottom Line on Renewable Energy Certificates - November 2008

Power Assure receives funding for Data Centers energy efficiency

Delivers Software as a Service that Reduces Data Center Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions by 50%

Power Assure™, Inc, a developer of power management solutions for data centers, announced it has completed its Series A round of funding, raising $2.5 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and individual investors. The company also announced its new executive team and members of the Board of Directors. Power Assure's software solution is unique among competitive offerings in that it goes beyond simple power monitoring of data centers to actively manage server capacity to match application load.

Power Assure develops and delivers business automation software that reduces energy use and carbon emissions by an average of 50% in commercial, corporate, and government data centers. Unlike other offerings that are rule or time-based, Power Assure dynamically manages server capacity based on a sophisticated calculation engine's processing of extensive real-time data. The company has developed patent-pending algorithms for calculating the optimum number of servers required at any time to maintain Service Level Agreements while shutting down excess capacity. Leveraging its business automation platform, Power Assure automates a customer's own procedures for the turning off and bringing up of servers, ensuring smooth transitions and no downtime. The company has completed initial installations for revenue, and the platform is undergoing further trials at a number of customer sites.

“Data center power consumption is the prime pain point for data center operators, representing over $10 billion in annual energy expenditures in the US alone and growing at over 12% per year,” said Josh Raffaelli of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. “The industry's energy intensity and corresponding carbon footprint in a quickly shifting regulatory environment makes data center energy efficiency mission critical. We are very impressed with Power Assure's innovative software platform and the savings the company's solution is producing.”

Monday, August 03, 2009

Borrego Solar Systems Launches Power Purchase Agreement Program

New Integrated Solar Financing Option to Help Schools, Companies and Government Organizations Finance Solar Projects

Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., a leading designer and installer of grid-tied solar electric power systems, today introduced a new financing option for schools, companies and government organizations interested in adopting clean, renewable solar energy. Borrego’s new power-purchase agreement (PPA) program gives its customers a new, simple way to finance a solar project without having to assume the up-front costs of the project or work with a third-party financier.

With $30 million backing from a PPA fund launched by Walsin Lihwa, a current investor, Borrego is well positioned to develop and finance more than $100 million solar projects over the next 12 months. The PPA program is also the first commercial PPA of its kind designed to finance school and commercial solar projects in Massachusetts. Borrego has already received interest in the program from early customers in Massachusetts, New Jersey and California.

“Borrego Solar has long been a leader in commercial scale solar systems, bringing significant expertise, quality of service and optimum system performance to its customers,” said Yu-Lon Chiao, Chairman of Walsin Lihwa. “As a result of this deal Walsin Lihwa has committed to supporting Borrego Solar in its mission to become the leading provider of commercial scale solar electric solutions in North America. We are excited about the market potential for Borrego’s integrated solar energy services.”

“We continue to see significant demand for grid-tied solar systems, but a common concern for many customers is the lack of financing available to design, install and maintain the system,” said Mike Hall, CEO of Borrego Solar. “And though the PPA is not a new concept, some customers don’t want the hassle of finding a third-party financing option or the restriction of having to deploy the technology chosen by the PPA provider. By choosing a Borrego PPA, customers deal with one company for system financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance. As a result of this program Borrego is now able to offer our customers a “one stop shop” for all solar energy services - all without the technology lock-in of other programs.”

Borrego finished 2008 with $58 million in revenue and more than $90 million in contracts, having completed some of the country’s largest projects for schools, companies and government agencies. By offering a commercial PPA, the company expects to increase the size and scope of projects it designs, builds and manages.

Bosch expands into solar modules with aleo solar

· Bosch signs agreements to purchase 39.43 percent of aleo solar AG
· Takeover offer made to all outstanding shareholders of aleo solar AG to purchase shares for 9.00 euros per share in cash
· aleo solar AG manufactures and sells solar modules

Stuttgart – Bosch and the Eriksen Group, including related parties and other investors, have signed agreements relating to the purchase of 39.43 percent of the shares in aleo solar AG, in Prenzlau and Oldenburg, Germany. The purchase price for this stock amounts to 46 million euros, equivalent to a price of 9.00 euros per aleo share. In addition, Bosch plans to make all outstanding aleo shareholders a voluntary public takeover offer, in which Bosch will also make all aleo shareholders a cash offer of 9.00 euros per share. The offer is thus 43 percent above the weighted average Xetra® price of the aleo share over the past three months. The entire transaction is conditional on Bosch holding at least 75 percent of aleo shares following the conclusion of the public offer. It is also subject to approval by the antitrust authorities.

aleo is an established brand name in the solar module market. It manufactures these modules on the basis of in-sourced mono- and polycrystalline solar cells. The modules are sold via a wide network of specialized dealers and installers to end-customers in Germany and other important European markets. In 2008, the company generated sales of roughly 360 million euros, and employed some 800 associates. This acquisition will give Bosch broad access to the market. In 2008, the technology and services company already acquired a solar cell manufacturer when it took over ersol Solar Energy AG in Erfurt, Germany. The administrative offices of aleo are located at its sales center in Oldenburg, Germany. Its manufacturing facilities are located in Prenzlau, Germany, and near Barcelona, Spain.

In addition, Bosch intends to acquire from the Eriksen Group and related investors more than 60 percent of the shares in Johanna Solar Technology GmbH, Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany, in which aleo also holds a roughly 17 percent stake. Johanna started developing solar modules based on thin-film CIGS cells in 2006, going into production at the end of 2008. These thin-film modules are marketed by aleo. Johanna employs 125 associates.

“With this acquisition, we are boosting our position in photovoltaics and renewable energies. Together with the management and associates of aleo and Johanna, and in combination with the team at our subsidiary ersol, we see good opportunities to expand significantly in this promising field,” said Dr. Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the Bosch board of management with responsibility for the Solar Energy division.

Apart from photovoltaics, the Bosch Group offers many other systems for exploiting renewable energies. Bosch Rexroth supplies gear and drive technology for wind turbines, as well as hydraulic actuators for solar thermal power stations, and develops drive concepts for the still young area of marine power generation. Bosch Thermotechnology is one of the leading suppliers of electric heat pumps and of solar collectors for hot-water generation.

For further information on the planned public takeover, see

Sunday, August 02, 2009

US Wind energy industry installs 1,200 MW in Q2

Manufacturing slowdown seen; industry calls for strong near-term renewable energy targets to keep US in worldwide lead

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,210 megawatts (MW) of new power generating capacity in the second quarter, bringing the total added this year to just over 4,000 MW – an amount larger than the 2,900 MW added in the first six months of 2008, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today in its second quarter (Q2) market report.

While the number of completed wind farm installations was solid, AWEA said it is seeing a reduced number of orders and lower level of activity in manufacturing of wind turbines and their components, a development it termed troubling in view of the fact that the U.S. industry was previously on track for much larger growth and the global wind power industry is continuing to expand.

“The numbers are in, and while they show the industry has been swimming upstream, adding some 4,000 MW over the past six months, the fact is that we could be delivering so much more,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Our challenge now is to seize the historic opportunity before us to unleash this entrepreneurial force and build up an entire new industry here in the U.S. that will create jobs, avoid carbon, and strengthen our energy security. To achieve that, Congress and the Administration must pass a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) with strong early targets.”

During the second quarter, the U.S. wind energy industry completed a total of 1,210 MW in 10 states, enough to power the equivalent of about 350,000 homes. These new installations nudge total U.S. wind power generating capacity to 29,440 MW, according to the report. The U.S. wind power generating fleet now offsets an average of 54 million tons of carbon annually, reducing carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2% or the equivalent of taking 9 million cars off the road.

The state posting the fastest growth in the 2nd quarter was Missouri, where wind power installations expanded by 90%.

“Missourians know that in order for us to grow our state’s economy and create the jobs of the twenty-first century, we must embrace new technology and advances like the ones presented to us through renewable wind energy,” said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. “So I’m proud that the American Wind Energy Association’s quarterly report shows no state has capitalized on these growth opportunities more aggressively over the last three months than Missouri has. But that isn’t enough. Missouri will continue to look for ways to enhance our energy supply and independence by using common-sense and cost effective expansions of clean, renewable wind power.”

Pennsylvania and South Dakota ranked second and third in terms of growth rate in the second quarter, expanding by 28% and 21% respectively.