Renewable Energy – 2004 in Review: April – June

2004 was a banner year for renewable energy! PV production capacity reached the 1GW mark; Global Wind Power continued to blow at hurricane strength — even with a downturn in the U.S. market; Bioenergy gained critical momentum powered largely by biodiesel; Ocean Energy moved from a few ripples to serious swells in Europe and the U.S.; Clean Energy purchases became synonymous with sustainable business practices; and lots more…whew! Today, read the second in a four part series presenting our choices of 2004’s top news. As always, please add your comments and opinion to our interactive Reader Comments at the close of this review. What was your top story?

Top News for April 2004
GE Energy Completes Acquisition of AstroPower Just two years after scooping up Enron Wind, Industrial heavyweight GE Energy is now officially in the solar energy business after completing its acquisition of most of the U.S. business assets of the beleaguered AstroPower solar company. Solargenix Brings Solar Thermal to Chicago It’s all about Chicago this week. Even though wind power are the buzzwords of the city since the industry’s major global conference just came to a close, a major solar energy development deal has just been inked with the city. On the heels of landing a contract for construction of the first commercial solar thermal power plant since 1990, Solargenix Energy secured an important contract for a high-capacity manufacturing facility for their solar thermal collectors. Gamesa Inaugurates First U.S. Wind Farm In another example of just how global the wind power industy has become, Spain’s major utitily Gamesa Energia has inaugurated its first wind farm in the United States. The wind farm sited in Lee County, Illinois was constructed in record time by Gamesa’s U.S. subsidiary Mendota Hills LLC. The Solargenix ‘Patent on the Sun’ Standing before television news cameras on the factory floor of Solargenix Energy in Chicago during a Tuesday, March 30 news conference, entertainer Art Linkletter proclaimed the start of a new era in energy production. The reason: the highly efficient solar collectors invented by Roland Winston, a Senior Scientist in the Enrico Fermi Institute. Maryland Passes Aggressive RPS Bill The Maryland General Assembly gave final approval Monday night to landmark legislation that will bring significant amounts of renewable energy — like wind and geothermal power — into the state’s electricity grid beginning just two years from now. Dish Stirling Solar Thermal Enters Production Dish Stirling solar power plants. They inspire awe and wonder to those who have seen the experimental solar thermal units. Looking like massive, twisted satellite dishes on steroids, concocted by quixotic, mad-scientists — the power plants aren’t designed to capture man-made frequencies, but the sun’s powerful and omnipresent solar energy instead. Connecticut Commits to Renewable Energy Through an Executive Order, Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland announced that 20 percent of the state governments’ total electricity needs will come from clean, renewable energy by the year 2010. The shift to clean power is the most significant commitment to zero-polluting energy by any state in New England and among the most aggressive in the nation. SEIA’s Glenn Hamer Moves to First Solar In a letter to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Board, Executive Director Glenn Hamer announced his resignation as SEIA’s Executive Director, pending the selection of a qualified replacement. Hamer announced he will Join Phoenix, Arizona-based First Solar, manufacturers of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, and begin serving in a senior executive role on May 1, of this year. Schwarzenegger Unveils ‘Hydrogen Highways’ Plan Just in time for Earth Day, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took the first major step toward fulfilling his campaign promise of revamping California’s highways into “Hydrogen Highways,” – allowing for the first state-wide infrastructure to support hydrogen fuel for transportation.
Top News for May 2004
Solar PV Celebrates 50 Year Anniversary Fifty years ago this week, the world enjoyed its first glimpse of solar electric power. On April 25, 1954, two Oregonians helped invent the solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) cell and created a revolution in the renewable energy field. Daryl Chapin and Gerald Pearson graduated from Willamette University in Salem and went on to work at Bell Telephone Labs in New Jersey. Pearson was born in Salem in 1905. Los Angeles Proposes Major Wind Farm With some of the worst air quality in the county, and vastly increasing demands for electricity, the city of Los Angeles is a perfect candidate for a large-scale boost of clean, renewable energy. A new city proposal for construction of a 120 MW wind farm would be the largest municipally-owned wind project, and could be just the ticket to alleviate the city’s growing energy and air quality concerns. ‘Solar Homes’ Bill Passes Senate Committee If a new bill makes its way through the California legislature unscathed, developers building more than 25 homes at a time could be required to install a certain amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) power on some of the homes. During his successful bid for the governor’s seat, Arnold Schwarzenegger indicated his support for similar measures, adding a little more weight to the bill’s chance of success. Green Buildings Earn Prestigious Acclaim The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) selected 10 examples of architectural and “green” design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. The winners combined such approaches as daylighting, solar power, ground-source heat pumps, and energy efficiency to earn their place on the list. Renewables Legislation Fails a Second Time Crushing the hopes of Colorado renewable energy supporters, the state’s Senate voted 16-19 against a Renewable Portolio Standard, in its late-evening vote last Tuesday. This kills a legislated measure that would have required state electric utilities to source a small percentage of their electric power from renewable energy resources. The bill enjoyed active backing from a wide range of stakeholder communities, including agriculture, environmentalists, public interest advocates, Xcel Energy and Aquila, and many other people hoping to spur job growth, and a cleaner environment though renewable energy. No Breeze for Wind Power in 2004 In its first quarterly market outlook report for 2004, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) forecast that new installations during the year will be less than 500 MW, compared with a near-record 1,687 MW of new capacity in 2003. If the PTC extension is delayed past the Congressional summer recess, the number will likely be much lower, because wind plant developers need a few months of lead time to arrange for the purchase of equipment, obtain permits, and arrange for financing and construction. Senate Victory for Renewable Energy Tax Credit An extension of the wind industry’s coveted tax credit, including its expansion to solar energy, cleared a major hurdle toward becoming law this week with the successful passage in the U.S. Senate of S. 1637, the so-called Corporate Tax Bill. In addition, solar energy also gained a 15% residential tax credit. San Francisco Calls for 360 MW Renewables The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation to use the state’s “Community Choice” law to switch San Francisco residents and businesses to a new power supplier for electricity service – and to finance a network of renewable energy and energy conservation projects that aim to dramatically reduce dependency on natural gas and nuclear power plants. U.S. Mission to UN Set to Go Green With Solar Project The U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva is set to become the first United States diplomatic building with a building-integrated solar electric (BIPV) system. Over the coming months, the U.S. Mission’s facade and roof will be fitted with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. The electricity generated by the 118 kW PV system will provide power for the Mission while any surplus generation will be fed into Geneva’s electric power grid. Kick-Start for UK Wave and Tidal Power Wind power is getting all the attention in the UK since the government has firmly supported it, but a less obvious form of renewable energy is speeding towards commercialization and hoping to garner the same support, so crucial to success. Solar Homes Bill Passes California Senate The California State Senate passed a bill that will require builders of new housing developments to install solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems on a percentage of new homes beginning in 2006. Such a requirement will help make the solar energy systems cost effective and help address anticipated energy shortages while preventing air pollution.
Top News for June 2004
Solar Power Cleans Up Wastewater Operation The Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District, (LGVSD) which serves residents of Northern Marin County, recently completed an 81-kilowatt solar power system that provides power to its reclamation pump station. Renewable Energy Targets Derailed in Europe With the World Renewable Energy Conference taking place in Bonn, Germany in less than a week, the European Union evaluated their member states’ progress toward meeting EU renewable energy goals — and they’re not very happy with the results. Record Year for UK Wind Power Capacity As hundreds of delegates gathered in Aberdeen for one of the UK’s largest renewables events, the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) released new data showing that the UK wind industry is on course to deliver a record year of new generating capacity in 2004. Spanish Developer Gains US Wind Foothold There may not be much new project action these days in the US wind power sector but it hasn’t kept companies from investing in the growing industry. Most recently, the Spain-based EHN has taken an investment-interest in the Blue Canyon Wind Power Project, located in Oklahoma. The wind farm, already in operation, consists of 45 Neg Micon 1.65 MW turbines, with a total capacity of 74.25 MW. Race is on for First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Competition for the first offshore wind farm in the United States is heating up with the The Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) recently announced portfolio of new energy projects. Part of this diversity of generation LIPA is seeking would be realized through an offshore wind farm reaching as much as 140 MW capacity. This could be the first offshore wind farm development in the United States. Renewables 2004 Conference Opens in Germany One hundred and fifty-four countries represented by over 3000 participants opened the four-day Renewables 2004 conference called by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. The conference convened at the former German parliament on the Rhine River. The expected 250 media representatives ballooned into more than 700 as energy became a top story during the last few weeks. Tipping the Renewable Energy Balance Clean energy technologies are a solution to the complex of fossil fuel problems, and they are also a $1.9 trillion opportunity by 2020. But only if public policy makers provide the right framework for private financial decisions. German Commitment Contrasts Mild U.S. Efforts German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder declared energy efficiency and renewables the “best response we can give to rising energy prices — rational not just populist,” bringing cheers from participants at the Renewables 2004 conference on the third day. New York Judge Rules Favorably on New York RPS In a big victory for renewable energy in a State already known for being progressively supportive of renewable energy, a New York Administrative Law Judge ruled favorably on the renewable energy requirement announced by Governor George Pataki to generate 25% of New York’s electricity from renewable sources by 2013, up from about 18%. Mad Cow Concern Prompts Renewable Energy Plan Clean, renewable energy: Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Hydropower, Biofuels, and Cattle. Cattle? According to the goals of a recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program, the destruction of cattle “parts” and even whole cows could become the next frontier in renewable energy projects. RWE Schott Solar Project for Coast Guard Facility After a successful run with their solar-powered navigation buoys, the U.S. Coast Guard brought ashore the same renewable energy technology to power their training center in Petaluma California. Maine Approves 50 MW Wind Power Plant The State of Maine’s first wind power project, and one of the largest wind facilities in the NorthEeast, second only to the 64.5-megawatt Waymart Wind Farm in Pennsylvania, has secured the necessary approval to push forward construction. New York Lures Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing Company California might not be the only solar energy Mecca in the U.S. anymore. A recent entry into the field of solar photovoltaic manufacturing has chosen to relocate across the country from California to New York, a state which has joined California in aggressively pushing for more use of renewable energy, not only as a source for clean, diversified electrical generation, but as an economic job engine too. Australian Renewable Energy Suffers Government Letdown Looks like a downturn for renewable energy in the land down under. Not only did the Australian federal government’s recent decision not to extend mandatory targets for renewable energy production unanimously disappoint supporters of renewable energy, but the inaction has already led to the cancellation of a major wind turbine blade manufacturing plant.
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Renewable Energy World's content team members help deliver the most comprehensive news coverage of the renewable energy industries. Based in the U.S., the UK, and South Africa, the team is comprised of editors from Clarion Energy's myriad of publications that cover the global energy industry.

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