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 third 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 July 2004College Sets Standard With Green Tags College of the Atlantic (COA) in Bar Harbor, Maine took a lead in buying clean electricity when it became the first college in Maine to make a 20-year commitment to purchasing 100 percent of its electricity through new wind electricity. COA signed two agreements, one is with Endless Energy Corporation (EEC) of Yarmouth, Maine; and the other with NativeEnergy of Charlotte, Vermont. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11463 Troubled Wind Farm Undergoes Dismantling Denmark-based Vestas, one the world’s major wind turbine companies, announced that every last one of their wind turbines installed offshore at their flagship Horns Reef project will be transported to nearby Ringkobing and Lem and dismantled for tests and repairs due to ongoing problems. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11512 Multicrystalline Solar Cell Efficiency Peak Scientists at Fraunhofer ISE have designed a multicrystalline photovoltaic (PV) cell that has an efficiency value of 20.3 percent, an increase of up to 5 percent for the technology that has had historically low efficiency values. Oliver Schultz, a doctoral candidate in Stefan Glunz’s group on high-efficiency silicon cells, has worked for two years to successfully develop a process that allows the problematic defects of multicrystalline silicon to be partially deactivated. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11476 Depleting Oil Reserves Push European Renewables With the growing realization that renewable energy sources can potentially compete against or even replace fossil fuels, many European countries have initiated several projects to harness and develop various renewable forms of energy. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11487 Sliver Cell Plant Online, but Fighting Diesel Tax Launching their monocrystalline Sliver cell technology at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference wasn’t enough excitement this year for the Australian company Origin Energy. Then, they opened the doors to their AUD$20 million (US $14.4 million) solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing facility for the technology in Regency Park, and plan to have their first solar panels available early in 2005. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11536 Isofoton CEO: U.S. PV Market Requires Patience At this year’s American Solar Energy Society (ASES) annual solar energy conference, “Solar 2004”, Jim Callihan, SolarAccess.com’s President and CEO, had a chance to catch up with Javier Gorbena, CEO and President of Isofoton, Spain’s largest photovoltaic cell and module manufacturer. While Isofoton initiated a slow trickle of solar PV over to the United States this year, the U.S. market is far from robust, thus deflecting sales and attention to other markets overseas. Callihan’s conversation with Gorbena offers insight into the complicated relationship between solar PV supply and competing markets throughout the world. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11520 Spanish Utility Plans for 18 Wind Farms Spain’s major utility Endesa revealed plans to build 18 wind farms in Valencia with nearly 500 MW of installed capacity for an investment of Euro 450 million (US$559.7 million). These farms form part of the renewable energy program approved by the Valencia’s regional government in 2003. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11561 Lawsuit Offers Another Reason for Renewable Energy Lawsuits could be a means to convince major power companies they need to make a real effort toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Developing renewable energy projects is chief among the possible remedial actions. The states of California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin, along with the City of New York, filed a lawsuit against the five largest global warming polluters in the United States. It is the first time state and local governments have sued private companies to require reductions in the heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions that scientists say pose serious threats to our health, economy and environment. The plaintiffs specifically cited increased use of renewable energy as a solution to greenhouse gas emissions. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11583 U.S. Senators Strive to Protect Domestic Ethanol Domestic production or import consumption is the obvious debate whenever a new product is introduced to the market. Ethanol could have a strong future as a domestically produced renewable fuel, and with government support ethanol could offer the U.S. a way to lower its dependence of foreign sources of energy. However, if the U.S. starts to rely on imported ethanol the country could miss a valuable domestic industry. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11606 Four Governors Push Congress on Renewables Governor Pataki, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Florida Governor Jeb Bush have teamed up to advance a comprehensive agenda, which includes pushing the Federal government into supporting energy tax incentives for renewable energy and alternatively fueled vehicles. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11593
Top News for August 2004UK Tidal Energy Gets ?50 Million Boost Research and development innovations for harnessing the power of the tide just might make it to market as energy producers in the United Kingdom (UK) with a government promise of ?50 million (US$ 91.4 million) in business funding from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11658 GT Solar Secures International Partnership Three times was the New Hampshire charm for W.S. Lin, the president of Tatung in Taiwan. Lin and Kedar Gupta, the CEO of GT Equipment Technologies in Merrimack, New Hampshire, closed a US$ 14 million contract to supply Tatung subsidiary Green Energy Technology (GET) with a 25 MW turn-key silicon solar wafer production line during Lin’s third visit to the Granite State. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11671 Campus Demonstrates Fuel Cell Mini-grid Fuel Cell Technologies (FCT) of Ontario is the most recent company to join with the Hydrogen Village Partnership project to provide a mini-grid power network at the Mississauga campus of the University of Toronto (UTM). A “mini-grid” is a group of residences, commercial or industrial buildings that are interconnected and serviced by multiple Distributed Generation (DG) units. These facilities may also be connected to the local utility grid. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11669 Solar Powered Water Distillation System Completed in Greece Wastewater or seawater wouldn’t normally be a first choice for something to drink, but Millennium Electric T.O.U. has completed a solar powered photovoltaic (PV) water distillation system that can take either non-potable liquid and purify it. The research and development project is almost 70 sqm in size including the PV solar collectors and distillation device. It is capable of making over 10,000 liters of pure water daily. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11661 Altamont Pass Report Encourages Wind Farm Changes Bird deaths caused by wind turbines at Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in California started a chain reaction of worries across the nation about how wind power effects bird species. After four-years of study to address the effects of wind turbines on bird mortality, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has released a report that details their findings and could be a guide to wind farms across the country. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11750 Solar Industry Secures New Leadership After a comprehensive search, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has announced new leadership including both a President of the Board of Directors and a new Executive Director. Chris O’Brien, Washington Representative for Sharp Solar USA, assumed the role of President of the SEIA Board of Directors, replacing Chet Farris, CEO of Shell Solar, who resigned from the company. Gordon Handelsman will now represent Shell Solar on the SEIA Board of Directors. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11745 Reader Forum Wrap-Up: Solar PV Shortage Three weeks ago SolarAccess.com offered our readers a chance to comment on how the U.S. PV module shortage is effecting the solar industry, individual businesses, installations and peoples’ lives and livelihoods. We heard from you — consumers, PV installers, dealers, manufacturers, and industry leaders — nearly 50 responses helped to create a well-rounded perspective of this what is clearly a significant problem to the U.S. solar industry. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11777 Offshore Wave Power Enters UK Grid Commercially viable wave farms are still a vision on the horizon, but the Ocean Power Delivery (OPD) Pelamis Wave Energy Converter (WEC) has shown the power source is more than a dream. The unit was recently installed at the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) in Scotland, and it has just completed its first week of electricity generation into the UK grid. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11805 U.S. Wind Power Market Stifled in 2004 Wind energy projects totaling more than 2,000 megawatts (MW) in capacity – enough to power more than half a million American homes – are awaiting the expected renewal of a major federal tax incentive, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said in its quarterly U.S. market outlook. New projects in the pipeline amount to more than $2 billion in business, said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher. Those businesses are ready to provide millions of dollars of badly-needed tax revenues and hundreds of skilled jobs to rural counties around the nation, once Congress renews the wind energy production tax credit (PTC). http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11775 PowerLight Undertakes 10 MW German Solar Project Germany’s feed-in tariffs for solar energy have propelled many new solar developments — none as big however, as a current project with California-based PowerLight company. In a joint venture with K&S Consulting Group, and Deutsche Structured Finance (DSF), PowerLight is a third of the way through construction of a 10 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11763
Top News for September 2004Konarka Makes Competitive Solar Acquisition Konarka is on the move. Not simply content with amassing a strong management team including noble laureates, securing growing investments and building substantial market anticipation for their photovoltaic (PV) products, the Massachusetts-based solar energy company has now increased their research assets by acquiring a major competitor in the field. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11871 UK Solar PV Funding Drying Up? The UK’s fledgling solar energy sector could be killed off because the Government is back-tracking on its funding plans, according to the environmental organization Friends of the Earth. They said two key government funding programs aimed at boosting solar energy in the UK are to be wound down earlier than planned, with little clarity as to what will follow. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11865 Australian Researchers Push Solar Hydrogen A team of Australian scientists predicts that a revolutionary new way to harness the power of the sun to extract clean and almost unlimited energy supplies from water will be a reality within seven years. Using special titanium oxide ceramics that harvest sunlight and split water to produce hydrogen fuel, the researchers say it will then be a simple engineering exercise to make an energy-harvesting device with no moving parts and emitting no greenhouse gases or pollutants. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11866 Wave Energy Project for Rhode Island Waves off the Eastern seaboard could soon be tapped for their relentless, renewable energy. Through a U.S. subsidiary, Australia-based Energetech revealed plans to launch a US$3.5 million wave energy pilot project “GreenWave Rhode Island,” which could be the first of its kind off the eastern US seaboard. The plan has officially received the financial backing of three New England states that will benefit from the project’s renewable power. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11878 The National Effects of a Renewables Standard Many U.S. States have made a commitment to requiring a certain amount of their power come from renewable energy sources and reaped the myriad benefits including a cleaner environment, a boost to their economic and job base, all the while decreasing their reliance on foreign sources of energy. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11892 BLM Looks to Ease Wind Power Permitting The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a draft of a document designed to ease the permitting of wind projects on BLM-managed lands. Called the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), it is aimed at speeding up some of the environmental reviews needed to develop a wind project on federal land. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11920 U.S. Releases Solar Photovoltaic Market Stats After uninterrupted increases for nearly two decades, shipments of PV cells and modules declined 2.5 percent in 2003 to 109,357 peak kW. Exports dropped sharply 9 percent while domestic shipments rose 7 percent. Module shipments increased 24 percent to 80,062 peak kW, but cell shipments decreased to 29,295 peak kW from 47,677 peak kW in 2002 . http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11950 U.S. Releases Solar Thermal Market Stats The solar collector market was lackluster in 2003. Total and domestic shipments of solar collectors remained close to 2002 and 2001 levels. Total sales were 11.4 million square feet, down 2 percent from 2002. Domestic shipments of 10.9 million square feet declined a similar amount from 2002 levels. The number of companies shipping solar collectors has remained steady since 2000. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11951 BP Solar to Increase Photovoltaic Production Large solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in Germany may do more than supply power to the grid, they may help to bring down the price of cell manufacturing. BP Solar opened has opened “Geiseltalsee”, a 4 MW solar PV array in Saxony Anhalt this week. It is one in a series of company developments that could expand the PV market. Over the next 18 months the company also plans to try and lower costs of the solar market through the economic strategy of increasing production. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=11949 Wind Energy Tax Credit Wins Extension Finally, the U.S. wind power industry can get back to the business of installing wind turbines. The wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) — a critical factor in financing new wind power installations — will be reinstated through 2005 as part of a major tax package (H.R. 1308) extending a number of individual and business tax provisions. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=12004