What will the new year bring? A good starting point is reviewing the top news of the more than 2,000 postings published on SolarAccess.com last year. This is the second installment of our 2003 Renewable Energy News Review compiling the most relevant stories of the year.
As you reflect upon these important stories in the growing field of renewable energy, let us know if you agree. In 2004, we will strive to bring you the latest, most complete renewable energy news every day from around the world.
Best wishes for the holiday season,
The SolarAccess.com Staff
May 2003 Top News…
New Jersey Task Force Calls for Doubling RPS – 5/2/2003
The Renewable Energy Task Force – created by New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey in January to make recommendations on promoting the use and development of Renewable Energy in New Jersey – presented its final report to the governor earlier this week.
Is it time to consider Production-Based Solar Incentives? – 5/5/2003
The subject of government incentives for the solar industry can be controversial. There is debate on the need for and the form of incentives. On one hand, the industry does not wish to depend on unpredictable public policy. On the other hand, government support for the electricity industry has been a fact of its entire existence.
Aussie Wind Farm Wins Federal Approval – 5/6/2003
Australia’s Pacific Hydro Ltd. has been granted the approval from the federal government for the development of the company’s wind farm at Portland, in Victoria. The 180 MW Portland Wind Energy Project would comprise of 120 wind turbines at four sites around Portland and would be Australia’s largest Renewable Energy project.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Test Facility Opens in Hawaii – 5/7/2003
A state-of-the-art facility to test hydrogen fuel cells has officially opened for research. The Hawaii Fuel Cell Test Facility is a joint project coordinated by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), with partners UTC Fuel Cells, the Office of Naval Research and Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO).
U.S. Wind Industry to Grow More Than 25 Percent – 5/12/2003
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported that the U.S. wind energy industry is on track to install 1,100-1,400 MW of new capacity this year, despite the power generation industry’s generally poor outlook. The growth that is underway across the country is expected to boost U.S. installed wind power capacity from current levels of close to 4,700 MW to approximately 6,000 MW (enough to serve 1.5 million homes).
RPS Hangs in the Senate Balance – 5/14/2003
The U.S. Senate soon will consider an amendment to the Energy Bill, which would require 10 percent of the energy generated in the United States to come from renewable sources like wind, solar and bio-mass, and Sen. Peter Fitzgerald’s (R- Ill.) vote is crucial, said the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC).
Solar Company Acquired – 5/15/2003
Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. has entered into agreements with N.V. Bekaert S.A. and an affiliate (Bekaert) whereby ECD has acquired all of Bekaert’s interests in the photovoltaic joint ventures United Solar Systems Corp. and Bekaert ECD Solar Systems LLC (Uni- Solar) established in April 2000 by ECD and Bekaert to manufacture, market and sell photovoltaic products and systems.
Australia’s Solar Rebate Program Extended – 5/16/2003
Australia’s solar PV industry has a brighter future following funding in a recent budget to extend the successful Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP) for two years.
First U.S. Ocean Energy Power Purchase – 5/16/2003
In what is the first example of a U.S. public utility securing a power purchase agreement with an ocean energy company, Clallam County PUD finalized an agreement to purchase electricity generated by an offshore wave energy pilot plant, to be developed by Mercer Island, Washington-based AquaEnergy Group, Ltd.
WindPower 2003 Opens with Record Numbers – 5/20/2003
The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) international tradeshow WINDPOWER 2003 kicked off this week with almost double the number of participants from last year.
Everything is Bigger in Texas – 5/21/2003
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and if there’s one way to sum up the direction that wind technology is taking – it’s getting big. Really big.
Cape Wind’s Data Tower Fully Operational – 5/23/2003
After almost a year of engineering and construction, Cape Wind’s Scientific Data Monitoring Tower on Horseshoe Shoal is fully operational.
Solar Power in the Real World – 5/27/2003
Let’s start with some facts. Over the last 15 years or so, solar photovoltaic (PV) power installations have been growing at a respectable rate of 25 to 30 percent per year worldwide. But, the global growth statistics mask a compelling domestic growth trend.
AstroPower CEO, CFO Resign – 5/27/2003
With a stock price below US$3.00 and amidst threats that the stock will be delisted from the NASDAQ exchange for failure to release an earnings statement, AstroPower President and CEO Allen M. Barnett, and CFO Thomas J. Stiner resigned as officers of the company on Friday, May 23, 2003.
June 2003 Top News…
Taking PV into the Mainstream: The Appliance Approach – 6/2/2003
RE Insider 6-2-03 – Photovoltaic (PV) sales have grown spectacularly over the last five years with annual growth rates exceeding 30 percent. The maintenance of these high growth rates over the next decade can only be achieved by PV truly entering the mainstream.
GE Puts Corporate Might into Wind Industry – 6/2/2003
Since entering the global wind energy industry in May 2002, GE Wind Energy has received more than US$2 billion in orders and commitments, the company reported at Windpower 2003, the annual conference of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Acquisition Aims to Tap Distributed Gen. Market – 6/3/2003
Proton Energy Systems, Inc. a manufacturer of hydrogen generators and regenerative fuel cell systems, has acquired Northern Power Systems, Inc., which specializes in the design, manufacture, and installation of integrated on-site power systems for stationary commercial and industrial applications.
Stanford Study Reveals New Wind Economics – 6/4/2003
In the first study to clock winds at the hub height of newer turbines (262 feet versus 164 feet for older turbines), Stanford researchers found that 24 percent of U.S. wind monitoring sites experience gusts fast enough to generate power as cheaply as coal or natural gas plants. Co-authors Cristina L. Archer and Mark Z. Jacobson report their findings in the May 13 online issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres).
Minnesota Passes Renewable Energy Legislation – 6/4/2003
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed legislation that firms up the state’s commitment to renewable energy and helps ensures the future for low-cost energy in Minnesota. The bill covers both issues pertaining to the Prairie Island Nuclear Facility and conversely helps create an improved legislative atmosphere for Minnesota’s Renewable Energy industry.
Massachusetts Launches $30 M Push for Clean Energy – 6/6/2003
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) Executive Director Mitchell Adams unveiled the most comprehensive proposal in Massachusetts history to increase the supply of electricity from clean, renewable sources such as wind power and solar energy. The new $30 million Massachusetts Green Power Partnership (MGPP) will enable green power buyers and sellers to establish long-term contracts to support the development of new clean energy projects.
Governor’s Solar Stance Brightens Industry Expectations – 6/6/2003
Governor James McGreevey has created some ripples throughout the solar energy industry as he recently became the first Governor in New Jersey to announce initiatives to spur the growth of solar energy.
Hawaii Reaches Solar Thermal Milestone – 6/12/2003
When the Kuo Family of Makiki installed a solar water heater in their home, they got more than an efficient, inexpensive source of hot water. The Kuo’s have been honored by HECO for installing the 20,000th residential solar water heater under the program.
University Study Questions Ethanol – 6/18/2003
In a study likely to ruffle some biofuel industry feathers, a new report released by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, concludes using ethanol as a gasoline additive will do more harm than good to the environment.
First Wind Turbines for the Irish Sea – 6/19/2003
GE Wind Energy and Irish renewable energy company Airtricity, plan to develop a 25 MW wind farm in the Irish Sea to provide power for Ireland’s electric grid. The project, to be located about 10 kilometers off the coast of Arklow, Ireland, will feature seven of GE Wind Energy’s new, 3.6 MW wind turbines. This will be the first offshore application of these turbines and the first offshore wind project with turbines above 3 MW rated capacity.
Los Angeles Shakes Up Solar PV Program – 6/19/2003
The Los Angeles Department Board of Water (LADWP) and Power Commissioners approved a substantial solar funding plan which both increases funding for the program but also calls for a temporary pause in new application submissions until the existing solar customer commitments can be fulfilled. The plan, approved unanimously by the board, offers a long-term solution to meet increasing requests by customers eager to participate in one of the largest solar electric system installation programs in the nation.
Illinois Passes Biomass Legislation – 6/20/2003
In an effort to boost the use of Illinois grown corn and soybeans as renewable energy sources, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed legislation that extends the state sales tax exemption on ethanol, creates a new tax credit for biodiesel fuels and sets up a new grant program to encourage construction of renewable fuel production and research and development facilities.
A Few Basics About Hydrogen – 6/23/2003
This is the first of a two-part series of Amory B. Lovins’s Hydrogen Primer. This article is a highly condensed version of “Twenty Hydrogen Myths,” a detailed paper from Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) which aims to address current hydrogen power myths. The full article will be available on www.rmi.org later in June 2003.
Despite Hurdles, Renewables March On – 6/24/2003
Austin, Texas is once again the venue of choice for another gathering of renewable energy companies and advocates as the American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) 32nd national solar energy conference, SOLAR 2003 kicked off at the downtown convention center.
Solar Energy Conference Shines with Ingenuity – 6/25/2003
The solar energy field has always been infused with a heightened level of creativity and innovation, and the 32nd American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) national conference in Austin, Texas didn’t disappoint.
A Few Basics About Hydrogen – Part 2 – 6/30/2003
Editor’s note – This is the second of a two-part series of Amory B. Lovins’s Hydrogen Primer. This article is a highly condensed version of “Twenty Hydrogen Myths,” a detailed paper from Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) which aims to address current hydrogen power myths. The full white paper is now available at www.rmi.org
July 2003 Top News…
San Diego Flips the Solar Power Switch – 7/1/2003
San Diego’s second solar photovoltaic (PV) on site electric generation system has been installed at the Ridgehaven “Green” Building. The structure’s new solar array features a solar electric rooftop and carport system, which generates approximately 53 kW daily and is enough energy to power more than 70 homes during the day.
Can AstroPower Restate and Redeem? – 7/7/2003
RE Insider, July 7, 2003 – AstroPower Inc. has created significant angst within the renewable energy sector and the investment community. Their delay in reporting Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form 10-K for 2002 and, subsequently, SEC Form 10-Q for 1st Quarter, 2003 has blown open the door for speculative conclusions of impropriety and/or failed technologies.
Canadian Wind Power Project Completed – 7/7/2003
Vision Quest Windelectric and ENMAX Corporation have completed their CAD$100 million McBride Lake Wind Farm. The 114-wind turbine, 75 MW, electricity generating facility is located near Fort Macleod, Alberta.
Ontario Sets Green Power Standard – 7/7/2003
The Ernie Eves government is introducing a Green Power Standard, which would require Ontario’s electricity system to secure an additional one percent of its current electricity needs from renewable sources in each of eight years, starting in 2006. The government has also committed to purchasing 20 percent of the electricity used in government buildings from renewable sources.
Seeing Green Elephants – 7/14/2003
A recent New York Times article focused on the advice that prominent GOP advisor Frank Luntz is providing to Republicans – that they need to close the gap with Democrats on the environment. This is good news for renewables. When an issue is in the province or mainly in the province of one party, it tends to be ignored by one party and taken for granted by the other. A renewables “bidding war” between the two parties is a much preferable position.
UK Unveils Major Wind Power Expansion – 7/15/2003
Offshore windfarms with the potential to power every one in six UK households were given the green light for development by the country’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). These proposals for the next generation of offshore windfarms would provide up to six gigawatts (GW) of new energy generation by 2010, enough to power 15 percent of all households in the country.
Renewable Energy Enters Boom Period – 7/18/2003
Undeterred by a lagging world economy, the use of renewable energy has experienced an unprecedented surge in growth over the past few years and is paving the way for a dramatic transformation of global energy markets in the next decade, according to researchers at the Worldwatch Institute.
Students, Activists Win Clean Energy Campaign – 7/21/2003
The University of California Board of Regents voted unanimously last week in favor of a clean energy and green building policy. The vote follows a yearlong “UC Go Solar!” campaign run by students across the state and Greenpeace. The campaign called for the Regents to adopt a comprehensive Clean Energy and Green Building policy to make UC a national leader in environmental stewardship.
Scientists Say Bush Ignores Renewable Energy – 7/21/2003
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently criticized the Bush administration for stacking its summit on natural gas prices with representatives from the fossil fuel industry and ignoring wind, solar and other renewable energy sources as an important solution to the natural gas crisis. According to the UCS, not a single renewable energy industry representative, analyst or advocate was invited to speak at the Department of Energy/National Petroleum Council Natural Gas Summit.
Solar Racecar Winner Sets New Record – 7/24/2003
The University of Missouri – Rolla won a highly competitive 2003 American Solar Challenge today, crossing the finish line at 11:39 a.m. using only the energy of the sun. The team set a record for U.S. solar car racing by completing 2,300 miles in 51 hours, 47 minutes, and 39 seconds, beating the 2001 American Solar Challenge record by more than 4 hours.
AstroPower Delisted, Stock Plummets – 7/24/2003
In an unfortunate new chapter of AstroPower’s tumultuous story, the solar module manufacturer announced that it has received notice from a Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel indicating that the company’s common stock will be delisted from the Nasdaq National Market effective with the open of business on Friday, July 25, 2003.
State Budget Eviscerates Clean Energy Program – 7/28/2003
When Governor Doyle signed the state budget last Friday, he authorized transferring US$47 million from a ratepayer-funded conservation and clean energy program into general revenues, according to Renew Wisconsin. This program, called Focus on Energy, is designed to assist Wisconsin households and businesses in reducing their consumption of electricity, thereby forestalling the need for new power stations and transmission lines.
Federal Appeals Court Rules in Ethanol Case – 7/30/2003
A federal appeals court recently ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Clean Air Act when it rejected the state of California’s request to sell gasoline without an ethanol additive. With a ban on MTBE looming, California sought a waiver from the Clean Air Act requirement that reformulated gasoline contain an oxygenate.
August 2003 Top News…
Wind Energy Dodges Legislative Bullet – 8/1/2003
Wind energy project developers, both on and offshore, were given a jolt recently when Sen. Edward Kennedy (D. Mass) revealed plans to back an amendment to the Senate Energy Bill which would have granted project veto power to local officials and state governors with regards to projects on federal lands and waters.
Energy Bill Back to the Future 2002 – 8/1/2003
In a bizarre twist to the wrangling over the Senate’s version of the Energy Bill the Senate voted to pass the 2002 Energy bill rather than move forward with the latest version of the 2003 Bill.
Senator Injects Ethanol in Ads to Win Votes – 8/5/2003
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) recently aired election ads focusing on his crusade to expand ethanol use and production. Daschle brought ethanol into the forefront of his campaign to boost the support of his constituents, as the senator campaigns for a fourth term next year.
Geothermal Site Near Sonny Bono Park – 8/7/2003
CE Obsidian Energy is proposing to build a geothermal power project near the southern end of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, within the known geothermal resource area of the Salton Sea. The project site is an 80-acre portion of a 160-acre parcel owned by the applicant in an unincorporated area of Imperial County, approximately six miles north of Calipatria, California.
AstroPower Cuts Jobs to Reduce Costs – 8/8/2003
AstroPower has reduced its workforce by over 10 percent through a layoff of approximately 55 employees. This brings AstroPower’s current number of employees to approximately 500.
Irish Wind Power Churns Storm of Controversy – 8/11/2003
The turbulent mixture of wind power and politics in Ireland has generated conflict between the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) and the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), with the Government of Ireland stuck somewhere in the middle.
Renewable Solutions Are Out of This World – 8/12/2003
The European Space Agency (ESA) believes orbiting satellites can provide a wide variety of data that can help with many aspects of the building and management of renewable energy plants. The ESA maintains that outer space technology can enable the world’s population to more effectively harness the free and endless energy resources, of the Sun, wind and water.
Canada Commits Funding for Ethanol, Efficiency – 8/14/2003
The Government of Canada announced the details of the investment of CAD$1 billion (US$725 billion) towards the implementation of the Climate Change Plan for Canada. This investment is part of the Budget 2003 allocation and builds on the CAD$1.7 billion (US$1.23 billion) the Government of Canada has invested in climate change over the past five years. Of that total, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has committed CAD$100 million (US$72.52 million) to encourage construction of new ethanol plants and to encourage development of cellulose-based ethanol.
Power Outage Unfortunate but Predictable – 8/15/2003
In the wake of crippling power outages in the Eastern United States, officials with the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an energy think tank, called on U.S. energy policy makers to fundamentally change how the United States designs its electricity system to make it more reliable and more resilient.
Austrian Inverter Co. Opens U.S. Division – 8/18/2003
Fronius International, the Austria-based electronics company, is making further inroads into the American market with the recent announcement of staffing for the company’s U.S. solar electronics operations to be located in Santa Barbara, California.
Blackout Highlights Solar Energy Potential – 8/18/2003
Officials don’t yet know the exact cause of the August 14 U.S./Canadian power outage, but it was an obvious demonstration of both countries’ vulnerability to loss of power. It’s also known that the area was under an extreme heat wave and even at 4 PM, the solar energy resource was nearly ideal, according to Segue consulting, which specializes in renewable energy.
Electric Grid Reliability: Extremes Drive Agenda – 8/25/2003
As power outages grab the headlines, energy has become a front page story again, as always happens when energy supplies are disrupted. But two sets of extremes seem to drive the policy and market agenda.
GE Wind’s 3.6 MW Turbine Heads Offshore – 8/25/2003
GE Wind Energy and Airtricity report that construction is under way for the Arklow Bank offshore wind park, Ireland’s first offshore wind power project, and is expected to be completed by the end of October. Located about 10 kilometers off the coast of Arklow, Ireland, the project’s seven GE 3.6 MW machines will be the world’s first commercial application of offshore wind turbines over three MW in size, said developers.