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 last installment of our 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 October 2004Schwarzenegger Signs Bill to Save Solar Funding by Jesse Broehl, Editor, RenewableEnergyAccess.com California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation this week to keep funds flowing to the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) renewable energy rebate program. The stopgap bill, AB 135 authored by Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes (D-Fresno) and Assemblyman John Campbell (R-Irvine), gives the CEC permission to spend US$60 million, to be collected between 2007 and 2012, for solar system rebates for homes and businesses in either new construction or retrofits on existing facilities. The commission would otherwise not have access to the money until 2007, leaving a two-year gap in rebates. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=12043 Five MW of Wind Power is Next “Big” Thing Assembly for a 120-meter (394-feet) high wind tower and turbine isn’t a fast moving process. Germany’s REpower has worked since April of this year on their 5M wind turbine, and recently installed the 120 ton rotor to complete the essential assembly work on the largest wind turbine ever produced to date. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=16774 Australia’s Largest Wind Farm Opened The second stage of the largest wind farm now operating in Australia was officially opened on the far north-west coast of Tasmania by Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, Bryan Green. Hydro Tasmania Chairman Peter Rae said the completion of Stage two of the Woolnorth wind farm brought it to the halfway stage with the total output of the project now 64 MW. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=12033 GE Energy Tapped for 990 MW of Wind Power GE Energy was recently selected by wind project developers Cartier Wind Energy and Northland Power to build eight wind farms across Canada that will total 990 MW of potential energy production for Hydro-Quebec, which commissioned the projects. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=16673 Renewable Energy is Necessary Power in India Renewable energy options are more than just a choice for the affluent or “green” thinking people of India. For years now, remote villages have relied on wood stoves and diesel generators to provide heat and electricity. Efforts to increase the use of energy through solar, wind and biomass sources in remote areas have put the nation at the forefront of renewable power use, but the government has only recently proposed a renewable energy standard for the nation. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=16945 National Security Think Tanks Call for Shift from Oil Until now, the alternative fuel message has largely been the territory of environmentalists. Now, a coalition of national security/policy think tanks is coming together to promote a shift away from oil, as the best guarantor of global security, prosperity and freedom. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=12041 Post-Fossil Fuel Preparation with Renewable Energy Maps can offer more information than where two streets intersect. Authors Woodrow W. Clark II and Ted K. Bradshaw have designed a “road map” that could help countries across the world learn how to diversify their power sources if the energy economy moves beyond fossil fuels. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=16902 JOBS Bill Offers Mixed Results for Renewable Energy by Jesse Broehl, Editor, RenewableEnergyAccess.com After nearly a year of legislative bantering and competing lobbyist input, the U.S. Congress passed the FSC-ETI, or JOBS bill, worth an estimated US$140 billion to U.S. businesses. It includes a number of measures that will boost some forms of renewable energy while doing little for others. The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=17038 Wind Energy Gains Corporate Strength with Siemens Wind energy is a popular choice for large corporations beginning to flex their business muscles in the renewable energy arena. GE Energy did so a few years ago by scooping up Enron’s wind division. Now Siemens Power Generation has acquired Danish wind energy company Bonus Energy, making it the industrial giant’s first energy step into the promising wind power industry. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=17273 World Sales of Solar Cells Jump 32 Percent Special to RenewableEnergyAccess.com from the Earth Policy Institute by Viviana Jimenez, Earth Policy Institute World production of solar cells soared to 742 MW in 2003, a jump of 32 percent in just one year. With solar cell production growing by 27 percent annually over the past five years, cumulative world production now stands at 3,145 MW, enough to meet the electricity needs of more than a million homes. This extraordinary growth is driven to some degree by improvements in materials and technology, but primarily by market introduction programs and government incentives. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=17579
Top News for November 2004China Endorses 300 MW Ocean Energy Project Thanks to China’s insatiable appetite for energy and their increasing determination to add renewable energy to the mix, the ocean waters off the coast of China are on their way to gaining a large-scale ocean energy project. The Chinese government signed an agreement with UK-based Tidal Electric for a renewable energy tidal power project near the mouth of the Yalu river. At 300 MW, the project would be the largest tidal power project in the world, according to the developers, topping the capacity of the 240 MW French tidal power plant in LaRance. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=17685 2005 Expected to be Record Year for U.S. Wind Power With the extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit in September, capacity installations in 2005 look likely to beat all previous records, AWEA said in its quarterly U.S. market outlook. The previous high for new wind power capacity installations in one year was 1,696 MW in 2001. Most industry participants agree that 2005 will be a better year, with some predicting installations to exceed 2,500 MW. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=17652 Preliminary Study Tackles Wind Power, Bat Issues by Lara Skinner, Reporter, RenewableEnergyAccess Bat carcasses aren’t the standard quarry for hunting dogs. But Luna, a Chocolate Labrador retriever owned by Ed Arnett of the organization Bat Conservation International (BCI), had a good six weeks during the summer to practice her bat searching skills. She was one of two dogs, and many people, to work on the first study for the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC) at the 66 MW Mountaineer wind power production farm on Backbone Ridge near Thomas, West Virginia. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=18542 Pivotal Cape Wind Farm Report Looks Favorable 17 Federal and State Agency Report reveals energy, environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind farm The proposed 420 MW offshore wind farm proposal from the Massachusetts-based Cape Wind Associates has undergone nearly three years of intense research to determine its potential effects on the area. During that time, the proposal has been met with both sincere anticipation from renewable energy proponents and fierce, organized opposition. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=18511 A Rebirth for Concentrating Solar Power Systems Regional, Five-Year Agreement Would Deploy 1000 MW of Concentrating Solar Power Systems Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants are on their way to a major rebirth with the recent announcement of funding and support from the U.S. Department of Energy. The regional-five year agreement will couple the most commercially efficient solar technology with some of the country’s most significant solar energy resources, the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, Texas and Colorado. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=17840 Where Solar Energy Stands After the Election Election Analysis by Jesse Broehl, Editor, RenewableEnergyAccess.com While there are certainly some renewable energy proponents disappointed that President George W. Bush was elected to another term, his re-election, and particularly the Congressional elections, are likely to bode well for the solar energy industry throughout the next four years. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=18198 ACORE Establishes In-Roads for Chinese Developments Due to its vastly expanding economy, China will be home to many of the world’s new energy projects in the coming years. And not just traditional technologies either. China has made clear their commitment to diversify their energy production with renewables as well. With this in mind, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) completed a week of meetings with officials in Beijing to open new paths for US-China cooperation and trade in renewable energy. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=18540 German Solar PV Firm Increases to 320 MW Q-Cells, one of the largest producers of solar cells in Europe, announced they would boost their current manufacturing from 170 MW a year to a total of 320 MW, putting them in-line to be one of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) producers in the world, and the largest manufacturer in Europe. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=18541 Pennsylvania Passes State-Wide Clean Energy Bill by Jesse Broehl, Editor, RenewableEnergyAccess.com Pennsylvania’s legislature approved SB1030, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act. Under the bill, 18 percent of Pennsylvania’s energy will come from alternative sources by the year 2020. This brings to 16, the number of states that now have renewable portfolio standard (RPS) legislation that requires a certain amount of power generated by the utilities to be derived from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and others. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=19071 Renewable Energy Takes a Back Seat to Hydrogen by Jesse Broehl, Editor, RenewableEnergyAccess.com Move over solar, wind power, geothermal and other renewable energy technologies — it’s all about hydrogen these days. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently selected a host of recipients from across the country for over US$75 million in research and development funding for the President’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush pronounced his vision that, “the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.” http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=18953
Top News for December 2004China’s Renewable Energy Development Strategy China aims to establish a 12 percent target for renewables in 2020 By Li Junfeng, Song Yanqin and Hu Xiulian, Center for Renewable Energy Development, Energy Research Institute, article courtesy of the EETIC — China is at a critical stage in its renewable energy (RE) development. The country is experiencing a rapid increase in energy demand and serious environmental pollution, and there is a growing awareness that RE can play an important role in meeting energy demand, enhancing energy security, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and, as a result, contributing to sustainable development. The Government is currently proposing to increase the contribution of renewables from the current level of less than 1 percent to around 12 percent by 2020. It will only meet these targets if appropriate policies and mechanisms are put in place and implemented. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=19483 Evergreen Solar Pushes the Micron Barrier String ribbon doesn’t seem to adequately describe a silicon wafer that is less than 150 microns thick, that’s approximately the thickness of three human hairs. But Evergreen Solar has managed to improve their string ribbon technology for silicon wafers, and the company now has the potential to produce their product with a thickness of less than 150 microns. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=19657 National Security to Lead Renewable Energy Deployment U.S. Energy Independence Goals Propel Renewable Energy to Next Phase by Jesse Broehl, Editor, RenewableEnergyAccess.com If one actionable priority could be distilled from the chorus of support expressed for renewables at last week’s conference of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), it’s that the time has come to shift the nation’s priorities from an era of research and development to one of major deployment. And the one mantra rising above the conference chatter that might create enough political muscle to kick-off that shift can be summed up in two words: National Security. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=19841 Bringing Solar Hope to Africa USAID Awards Grant for Rural Electrification in Impoverished African Communities In this era of expansive first world solar electric projects spurred by feed-in tariffs, rebates or other incentives, it’s easy to forget where some of the most important solar work is taking place. In places like sub-Saharan Africa, solar photovoltaic (PV) projects can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=19818 Commission Recommends National Energy Policy Energy security for the United States is an issue that is split between the need to diversify the country’s energy resources and the reality that the nation’s infrastructure is built around fossil fuel consumption. Two years ago the independent National Commission on Energy Policy was formed to research and review the energy needs of the U.S., and their findings were released in the consensus strategy “Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America’s Energy Challenges.” http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=19722 ACORE Calls for Phase II of Renewable Energy For the past 30 years, research and development in the U.S. has honed and perfected renewable energy technologies, making them more efficient, and cost-effective. Now, the time has come to shift from a focus on research and development, to a focus on deployment. That was the resounding message presented at the American Council On Renewable Energy’s (ACORE) conference in the nation’s capital. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=19764 Kyocera Opens New PV Manufacturing Facility With as much as 80 percent of the solar photovoltaic (PV) market located in California, the recent siting of a PV manufacturing facility is designed, at least partially, to focus on that booming market. Kyocera Solar held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially inaugurate its new solar photovoltaic (PV) assembly operations at the existing Kyocera Mexicana, maquiladora plant in the Tijuana Industrial Park. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=19839 Key Energy Report Scant on Renewables Renewable Energy Industry Reacts to Report by National Commission on Energy Policy by Jesse Broehl, Editor, RenewableEnergyAccess.com Last week, the independent National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP) released their key findings from over two years of research aimed at identifying and seeking solutions to U.S. energy needs. Their consensus may have pleased some major players in the energy game but has left most in the renewable energy community disappointed. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=20157 Solar PV Production Increases to Meet 2005 Demand by Lara Skinner, Reporter RenewableEnergyAccess.com Demand for solar photovoltaics (PV) are on the rise in the United States and Europe, and manufacturers are stepping up production to meet whatever 2005 could bring. Sharp Solar is one of the most recent companies to announce an annual production increase from 315 MW to 400 MW at its Katsuragi Plant in Nara Prefecture. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=20124 Offshore Wind Farms Have to Wait in New Jersey Coastal communities are familiar with the possibility of wind turbines appearing on the horizon as the wind energy industry gets stronger in America. Acting Governor of New Jersey Richard Codey has decided to approach the possibility with caution, however. http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=20320