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jpak

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China, Inc. Locked In on World Solar, Wind Manufacturing Domination

http://cleantechnica.com/2012/05/03/china-inc-locked-in-on-world-solar-wind-manufacturing-domination/

The collapse of the USSR and the “liberalization” of formerly closed, socialist economies opened up the path to globalization, which, proponents wanted us to believe, would transcend longstanding political and economic differences and pave the way to a global, free market economy based on fair trade. Well, it hasn’t exactly turned out that way.

It’s abundantly clear, though much less often or openly discussed, just how wide the gap is and differences are between countries with economies based largely on free, open market principles and driven by private sector businesses and capital allocation and those where centralized government planning determines how much and where investment capital will be allocated and how much of what should be produced. Nowhere is this more publicly in evidence than in the recent trade disputes between the US and China regarding the manufacturing and export of silicon solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, panels and wind turbine towers from China to the US.

A Subsidy is a Subsidy is a Subsidy…Not

Now, the US government has been subsidizing the US solar and wind power markets and industries, and these incentives have been a critical driver of rapid growth in terms of “green” job creation as well as economic activity in both emerging renewable energy sectors. Not only are US subsidies dwarfed by those of China, they are fundamentally different in nature and in their results, however.

US state renewable energy/power standards (RPS) and state feed-in tariffs that require a certain amount of electricity be generated from renewable energy resources have been key to rapidly growing clean energy development in the US. So have federal investment and production tax credits and accelerated depreciation schedules.

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Wind’s $168 Billion North Sea Boom Lures Oil Industry

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-30/wind-s-168-billion-north-sea-boom-lures-oil-industry-energy

Oil service companies led by Technip SA (TEC) and Subsea 7 SA (SUBC) for the first time are working with wind energy developers in the North Sea’s 14 billion-euro ($19 billion) a year market.

The offshore engineers plan to exploit the similarities between building undersea oil installations and constructing offshore wind farms and have both established renewable energy units. Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) also offers expertise to wind developers in the North Sea, where fossil fuels first discovered in 1966 are being depleted as clean energy demand rises.

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The move into renewable energy comes after Britain’s oil and gas production has shrunk more than half since peaking in 1999 at about 4.5 million barrels of gas and oil equivalent a day to about 2.2 million barrels now, according to the Oil & Gas U.K. industry group. Production from Britain’s continental shelf has fallen about 6.2 percent annually in the past 23 years.

Drawing on offshore energy expertise and government mandates to raise the amount of power derived from clean energy, countries around the North Sea led by Britain plan to have 35.5 gigawatts of offshore wind projects by 2020 from 2.9 gigawatts today, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The total cost of the increase will be 127 billion euros and the facilities would provide 3.2 percent of the European Union’s electricity demand.

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The Transition is here...

yup

Wind power fuels renewable-energy revolution in rural Alaska

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/wind-power-fuels-renewable-energy-revolution-rural-alaska

Alaska's alternative energy revolution will take a new twist this summer when 15 turbines spin to life over a trio of Southwest Alaska villages, in one of the most notable wind projects ever to reach the Bush.

Like so much heavy equipment in Southwest Alaska, the turbines are old-school hand-me-downs imported from the Lower 48 -- in this case, the California desert. They seem small and stodgy by today's standards, resembling Kansas farm ornaments with four-legged bases and lattice-work sides. But at 12-stories tall, they'll tower over tiny Kwigillingok, Kongiganak and Tuntutuliak, home to about 1,200 residents total.

They're a perfect fit for the small communities, experts said. And refurbished though they are, the turbines are part of a decidedly high-tech project that includes online meters residents can use to monitor electric use from home computers and electric heaters that automatically fire up when extra wind blows.

People are ready for relief from high costs in the Yup'ik villages near the Kuskokwim River mouth, where the diesel fuel that provides power and heat is barged up the coast at great expense, said William Igkurak, longtime manager of the local power company.

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Study Questions Natural Gas's Environmental Benefits

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303815404577334013970875438.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

WASHINGTON—As U.S. lawmakers promote natural gas as a way to reduce air pollution, a scientific study published this week questions the benefits of the fuel when used to power vehicles and generate electricity.

The study authors said methane leaks from the production and transportation of natural gas should be studied in greater detail before the U.S. adopts any major policy shifts.

The study, co-written by scientists at several universities and the environmental group Environmental Defense Fund, wades into an increasingly murky area of energy research. In it, scientists said the production of natural gas results in methane leaking into the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change and limits the environmental benefits of natural gas. Methane, the primary component in natural gas, is more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas but decomposes more quickly in the atmosphere.

The research comes at a time when President Obama and other U.S. lawmakers are hailing natural gas as a fuel of the future, capable of replacing coal in power plants and gasoline in cars. That is because it is thought to be better for the environment and is produced in abundance in the U.S.

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Va. study makes economic case for renewable energy

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-04/D9UCLJKG0.htm

Pursuing a portfolio of renewable power sources such as solar, biomass and wind power to satisfy Virginia's energy appetite through 2035 would create tens of thousands more jobs than relying on either coal or natural gas, a George Mason University study concludes.

The study released Wednesday was prepared for Virginia Conservation Network, a coalition of environmental groups and proponents of renewable energy sources over fossil fuels.

George Mason's Center For Regional Analysis based the study on the 2010 Virginia Energy Plan, which projected a need for an additional 19,448 megawatts of demand over the next 25 years. Half of that demand can be met through biomass, solar and wind, offshore and onshore, the study concludes.

Nathan Lott, executive director of the Conservation Network, said the study illustrates that renewable energy can be competitive with fossil fuels. "This is important for regulators and utilities that must plan today for a safe, reliable electricity system 20 and 30 years into the future," he said.

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Warmer climate having global ocean effect (surface salinity changes)

http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2012/04/27/Warmer-climate-having-global-ocean-effect/UPI-37131335557893/?spt=hs&or=sn

BERKELEY, Calif., April 27 (UPI) -- Ocean salinity is being affected by global warming, and current models underestimate the change to the globe's water cycle, an Australian scientist says.

The water cycle -- the worldwide phenomenon of rainwater falling to the surface, evaporating back into the air and falling again as rain -- is changing, with the wetter parts of the world getting wetter and the drier parts drier, researchers report in Science magazine.

This is confirmed by the fact that saltier parts of the ocean are getting saltier and the fresher parts are getting fresher, they said.

"Salinity shifts in the ocean confirm climate and the global water cycle have changed," said Paul Durack of the University of Tasmania, who is now a post-doctoral fellow at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California.

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Maine may harness power of tides

http://www.delawareonline.com/viewart/20120426/BUSINESS/204260308/Maine-may-harness-power-of-tides?odyssey=tab%7Cmostpopular%7Ctext%7CBUSINESS

PORTLAND, Maine -- Maine regulators have put three utilities on the path to distribute electricity harnessed from tides at the nation's eastern tip, a key milestone in a bid to turn the natural rise and fall of ocean levels into power.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission set terms for a contract that would be in place for 20 years. The regulators also directed the three utilities to negotiate with Ocean Renewable Power Co. to put electricity onto the grid this summer, the first long-term power purchase agreements for tidal energy in the United States.

"It's a landmark in the commercialization of tidal energy in the U.S.," said Chris Sauer, president and CEO of the Portland-based company.

Ocean Renewable intends to install its first underwater turbine unit this summer on Cobscook Bay under a demonstration project.

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Areva Solar Builds Giant Solar Farm In India

http://www.forbes.com/sites/uciliawang/2012/04/25/areva-solar-builds-giant-solar-farm-in-india/

In a northwestern corner of India, rows of steel and glass are rising from the ground to form what will be one of the largest solar power plants in Asia. The 250-megawatt project is the first in India for Silicon Valley-based Areva Solar, which is benefiting from an aggressive plan by the Indian government to boost solar energy generation to help reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Areva engineers solar power plants that use flat mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto water-filled tubes to produce steam, which is then piped to run a turbine to generate electricity. This process is called concentrating solar thermal technology, and it’s being used in different configurations to build solar farms in the United States, particularly in states such as California and Arizona.

The company will complete the project in two phases, with the first 125 megawatts to come online in May 2013, said Jayesh Goyal, the company’s global vice president of sales. The second phase will start delivering power in late 2014 or early 2015.

“India is a market with a high electricity demand and a favorable regime for renewable energy,” Goyal said.

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Arizona solar project reaches 100MW mark

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2012/04/26/Arizona-solar-project-reaches-100MW-mark/UPI-77551335440824/

YUMA, Ariz., April 26 (UPI) -- Set to become the world's largest photovoltaic power plant, the Aqua Caliente project in Arizona reached the 100-megawatt milestone, companies said.

Executives from NRG Energy Inc., MidAmerican Solar and First Solar Inc., met with Arizona representatives to commemorate delivering the first 100 megawatts to the grid from the 290 MW Aqua Caliente solar project.

"Agua Caliente will provide a positive impact on the environment and create jobs," said Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar. "Projects such as Agua Caliente will play a central role in our nation's long-term electric energy supply and in our national transition to cleaner energy sources."

Utility company Pacific Gas and Electric has a 25-year purchase agreement for the project's entire capacity. When completed in 2014, it will be the largest PV power plant in the world, offsetting roughly 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide during the next 25 years.

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Solar Program in India Drives Prices to Impressive Lows

http://www.infozine.com/news/stories/op/storiesView/sid/51606/

Washington, D.C. - infoZine - India’s ambitious national solar program has catalyzed rapid growth in the solar market, driving prices for solar energy to impressive lows and demonstrating how government policy can stimulate clean energy markets, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

In only two years, competitive bidding under India’s National Solar Mission drove prices for grid-connected solar energy to nearly the price of electricity from fossil fuels, at Rs. 7.49/kWh ($0.15/kWh). During that same period, cumulative installed solar capacity in India surged from 17.8 MW to over 500 MW, as discussed in “Laying the Foundation for a Bright Future: Assessing Progress Under Phase 1 of India’s National Solar Mission.”

“As the world’s second-fastest growing economy, India has sparked a powerful solar market in only two years,” said Anjali Jaiswal, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s India Initiative. “While the National Solar Mission still faces significant hurdles, India has already made important strides to attract new domestic and international players into the market, and lower the price of solar energy faster than most anticipated.”

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