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DOI kick-starts East Coast offshore wind energy development

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offshore-wind-power

The Department of the Interior last week issued five “exploratory leases” for offshore wind energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf off of New Jersey and Delaware.

The leases are the first of this type issued by the Federal Government, which is why they are called exploratory, and not breaking wind perhaps. They were developed under an interim policy from the department and authorize data gathering activities, allowing for the construction of meteorological towers on the Outer Continental Shelf from six to 18 miles offshore to collect site-specific data on wind speed, intensity, and direction.

“New Jersey’s Outer Continental Shelf is a resource that holds a great promise for our energy independence and should be considered a haven for the clean, renewable and environmentally friendly energy that wind power provides,” said New Jersey Governor Dave Corzine. “This is a major step for the state in meeting its goal of 1000 megawatts by 2013 and 3000 megawatts by 2020,” He said.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued the exploratory leases to Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy, LLC; Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey, LLC; Deepwater Wind, LLC; and Bluewater Wind Delaware, LLC.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

June 29, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Italy plans big investments in renewable energy

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italy_mainIndustrial Info Resources is reporting that Italy’s Observatory of Renewable Energy will invest nearly $60 billion between 2009 and 2020 in the country’s renewable energy sector.

Italy has set a target for the direct use of renewable fuels such as biofuels, wind and solar at 17 percent by 2020. That compares to only 5.2 percent in 2005.

It has a long way to go because it has the highest dependence on energy imports among the G8 group of nations: About 86 percent of its energy needs are met through imports.

The country traditionally has relied on hydroelectric power from dams located in the Alps, but in recent years the power generated from these sources has been equaled or surpassed by power imports from other countries. Natural gas supplies in Italy have declined, last year contributing 12 percent of the country’s total power demand, with its oil fields making up 7 percent of total demand.

Italy has the potential for several promising sources of renewable energy, notably geothermal–in which Italy is already a leader within Europe–hydroelectric, wind, solar and biomass, IIR says.

The Observatory says that wind will be the biggest winner in terms of investments, with an estimated 43 percent of investments being directed to windfarms. The Italian oil companies association, Unione Petrolifera, forecasts that wind farms could be capable of generating up to 20.5 terawatt-hours of power by 2020. Unione Petrolifera also forecasts that geothermal power, generated using steam produced from hot rocks located several kilometers underground, will reach around 7.5 TWh by 2020.

Last year, biomass-fed plants supplied almost 4 TWh of electricity. This sector is expected to receive 23 percent of the total forecast investment of $58 billion, which could supplying up to 11 TWh of power by 2020. Of the remaining renewable sources of energy, the Observatory estimates that photovoltaic and thermodynamic energy supplies will receive around 17 percent of the total investment, while hydroelectricity schemes will get 12 percent of the total investment, according to the IIR report.

Plans also are underway to add to Italy’s solar power generation. Enel SpA, based in Rome, plans to have a new solar thermal plant with a capacity of 5 MW in operation by the end of the year.

In January, Netherlands-based Econcern NV announced plans to build a 42-MW solar power plant in Puglia, located in southern Italy. The project, named Project Trullo, is expected to add 15 percent to Italy’s currently installed solar power generation capacity of 280 MW. Econcern anticipates that Italy’s installed capacity for solar power generation will grow to as much as 5,000 MW by 2020.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

June 12, 2009 at 12:22 pm

News and views: Biofuels and wind

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biofuel2First- and second-gen biofuels get White House boost

It looks like the Governors’ Biofuel Coalition got what it was looking for from President Obama – an endorsement of biofuels development, support for the continued viability of the existing ethanol industry and an invite to partner with members of the administration on energy independence.

In a letter late last month to the coalition leadership, Obama asked the Coalition to join him in implementing his Presidential Biofuels Directive, which was issued earlier in May.

The directive outlined the President’s vision for biofuels development and his expectations for key cabinet and administration officials to lead the Administration’s biofuels initiatives. The President noted that the Coalition’s February 2009 recommendations helped form key points of the directive, and led to the President’s request for the Coalition to work with “members of my cabinet to implement the directive.”

Biofuels are the “primary near term option for insulating consumers against future oil prove shocks and for lowering the transportation sector’s carbon footprint,” the president writes.

In the letter Obama says he is committed to the rapid development of “an array of emerging cellulosic technologies so that tomorrow’s biofuels will be produced from sustainable biomass feedstocks and waste materials rather than corn.”

He continues: “This transition will be successful only if the first-generation biofuels industry remains viable in the near-term, and if we remove long-standing artificial barriers to market expansion necessary for large volumes of of advanced renewable fuels to find a place in America’s transportation fuels system.”

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Written by William DiBenedetto

June 2, 2009 at 10:16 am

Sun, wind, moon — okay just sun and wind

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abnegoa-ps20powertower

Solar towers in Spain

Some good news about solar – in Europe. Abengoa Solar began commercial operation of the huge PS20 solar power tower located at the Solucar Platform, near Seville.

It is the world’s largest solar power tower, with a generating capacity of 20 megawatts; it will produce enough solar energy to supply 10,000 homes.

During a three-day production and operational testing period last week, the PS20 surpassed the predicted power output, further validating the high potential of power tower technology, the company said in a statement.

“Generating more power during production testing than the design output is indeed a significant milestone,” said Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar.

The world’s second power tower plant in commercial use, PS20 features a number of technological improvements over PS10, Abengoa’s and the world’s first commercial power tower.

The power capacity of the PS20 is double that of the earlier power tower, and Abengoa Solar has put in a higher-efficiency receiver, improvements in the control and operational systems, and a better thermal energy storage system.

PS20 consists of a solar field made up of 1,255 mirrored heliostats. Each heliostat, with a surface area of 1,291 square feet, reflects the solar radiation it receives onto the receiver, located on the top of a 531 feet-high tower.

The concentrated heat produces steam, which is converted into electricity generation by a turbine.

Abengoa Solar says operation of PS20 will avoid the emission of approximately 12,000 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that a fossil fuel-burning power plant would have produced.

The Solucar platform generates 300 megawatts from a variety of solar sources – 50 MW from tower technology, 250 MW from troughs, 1.2 MW produced by photovoltaic technology, and 80 MW from Stirling dish technology.

Located in Sanlucar la Mayor, the platform will have 300 MW of installed capacity when it is completed in 2013. At that point the company says it is expected to produce enough energy to supply 153,000 households, and will prevent the emission of 185,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

During the lifespan of the platform, the company says, it will reduce an estimated four million tons of carbon emissions.

The platform covers a land area of 800 hectares and will create 300 permanent jobs for a total investment of 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion).

Besides the Solucar Platform, Abengoa Solar is building commercial solar power plants in Spain, Algeria, Morocco and the United States.

Abengoa’s U.S. headquarters in Lakewood, CO last October was awarded two research and development projects in the field of concentrating solar power that total more than $14 million by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Under the first award, Abengoa aims to develop technology that will reduce the cost of thermal energy storage for parabolic trough-based concentrating solar power systems by 20 to 25 percent. Three other Energy Department contracts awarded to Abengoa in December 2007 are focused on developing more efficient parabolic trough technology. Under the second 2008 contract Abengoa will investigate new technologies for integrating thermal energy storage with power tower systems.

SunPower, Vestas raise funds

SunPower Corp.  (Nasdaq: SPWRA; SPWRB), the provider of solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, has completed a successful public share offer that will raise more than $417 million.solar-panels

On Thursday the San Jose company said underwriters of its public offerings exercised overallotment options to purchase an additional 1.35 million shares of class A common stock and $30.0 million aggregate principal amount of 4.75% senior convertible debentures due 2014.

The options were granted in connection with the company’s previously announced public offerings of 9,000,000 shares of class A common stock at $22.00 per share and $200 million aggregate principal amount of senior convertible debentures.

Including the exercise of the overallotment options, the aggregate net proceeds of the offerings are expected to be approximately $417.6 million, after deducting the underwriters’ discounts, commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by the company.

SunPower says intends to use the net proceeds for “general corporate purposes,” including working capital and capital expenditures. From time to time, it will “evaluate potential acquisitions and strategic transactions of business, technologies, or products, and may use a portion of the net proceeds for such acquisitions or transactions. Currently, however, the company does not have any agreements with respect to any such material acquisitions or strategic transactions.”

The senior convertible debentures will bear interest at a rate of 4.75% per year, payable on April 15 and October 15 of each year, beginning on October 15, 2009. The debentures will mature on April 15, 2014.

Closing of the public offerings of shares and debentures, including the exercise of the overallotment options, is expected to occur on May 4, 2009.

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. are serving as joint book-running managers for the offerings. Lazard Capital Markets, Barclays Capital Inc., Piper Jaffray & Co., Wachovia Capital Markets, LLC, and SL Hare Capital, Inc. are serving as co-managers.

Vestas Wind Systems, meanwhile said its private offer of 18.5 million shares was fully subscribed in less than one day. It will raise about $1 billion for the company.cleantech2

The shares were offered April 28 to institutional and professional investors in Denmark and to international investors. The offer represents about 10% of the company’s share capital. Payment and settlement will take place on May 4, Vestas said.

While that was occurring the wind-turbine manufacturer said it would slash 1,900 jobs, mainly in the UK and in Denmark – about 9% of its workforce – due to “market oversupply.” The layoff announcement also came as the company reported a net profit of 56m euros ($73 million) for the first three months of 2009, up from 33m euros for the same period last year.

Written by William DiBenedetto

May 1, 2009 at 9:55 am

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