South Australian Government to Be Powered by Solar, Wind

South Australian Government to Be Powered by Solar, Wind

New electricity retailer SIMEC ZEN Energy has won the contract to supply the South Australian Government until at least 2020. Under the contract, SIMEC ZEN Energy will supply more than 80 percent of the government’s electricity needs in 2018. This will escalate to 100 percent in 2019 when it will be backed by local renewable energy projects.

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Bids Are in for Massachusetts Offshore Wind Procurement; Storage Included

Bids Are in for Massachusetts Offshore Wind Procurement; Storage Included

Offshore wind power proposals were due today in response to a request for proposals (RFP) by three utilities in Massachusetts. Companies submitting their bids presented options that could help give their projects a boost in the selection process, including scalable transmission and energy storage project components.

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Tariff Decision Looms Large for Sale of SolarWorld

Tariff Decision Looms Large for Sale of SolarWorld


SolarWorld Americas Inc., one of two U.S. solar manufacturers asking President Donald Trump for tariffs on imported panels, says the move could revive a struggling industry. It may also boost the company’s value ahead of a potential sale.

The manufacturer, owned by bankrupt German panel maker SolarWorld AG, has already invited more than a dozen suitors to submit non-binding offers for the company. But final bids aren’t due until after Trump decides whether to levy tariffs, according to a spokesman for SolarWorld AG’s German insolvency administrator.

The push to find a buyer for SolarWorld Americas is the latest wrinkle in a months-long drive for tariffs that’s drawn opposition from most of the U.S. solar industry. SolarWorld and bankrupt Georgia panel maker Suniva Inc. say they desperately need protection from the flood of cheap imports from Asia. Critics argue tariffs would bail out two foreign-owned companies and their creditors at the expense of the U.S. solar industry, which has boomed thanks largely due to low-cost panels.

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“Reviving manufacturing in the U.S. may be part of their plan, but this is probably just an effort to salvage money,” said Jenny Chase, a Zurich-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The U.S. International Trade Commission recommended in October that Trump impose tariffs of as much as 35 percent on imported panels. The president has until Jan. 26 to decide. 

“Maybe we have a chance to recoup some of the company’s real value,” SolarWorld Americas Chief Executive Officer Juergen Stein said in an interview.

The effort to find a buyer for Hillsboro, Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas is being overseen by Horst Piepenburg, a court-appointed lawyer administering the German parent company’s insolvency proceedings. Macquarie Capital is leading the sales effort. More than 100 potential investors were initially approached, and 15 were invited to submit non-binding offers, Thomas Schulz, Piepenburg’s spokesman, said in an email. Bidders, however, asked that the deadline for final bids be pushed back until the scope and duration of any tariffs become clear.

“The first step: clarity from the Trump Administration,” Schulz said in a phone interview.

Waiting Game

Waiting for the White House to act can only help SolarWorld, Arash Roshan Zamir, Hamburg-based analyst at Warburg Research GmbH, said in a phone interview.

“If they wait a couple more days, they get a tariff of at least 30 percent. And if they’re lucky, maybe much more,” Zamir said. “Either way, the value of the company goes up.”

SolarWorld AG’s creditors include Centerbridge Partners LP, a New York-based investment firm, Schulz said. A spokesman for Centerbridge, which has about $14 billion in credit and distressed assets under management, declined to comment.

Jobs, Tariffs

Suniva filed the trade case in April, and SolarWorld Americas joined as a co-petitioner in May shortly after its parent declared insolvency. Rooftop installers and solar-farm developers that employ 85 percent of the industry’s 260,000 workers have largely opposed the push for tariffs. Higher panels prices, they warn, would cost thousands of jobs.

Suniva, which is majority owned by China-based Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd., has also been mulling buyout offers.

The 35 percent tariffs recommended by the trade commission are less than what SolarWorld and Suniva sought. Nonetheless, developers say duties will hurt.

“The trade laws that they’re actually using will cause more damage to American jobs than they’re claiming to protect,” said Matthew McGovern, chief executive officer of Santa Monica, California-based Cypress Creek Renewables LLC, a developer that was approached this year about buying SolarWorld Americas. “Under no other political dynamic or environment could this have worked.”

©2017 Bloomberg News

— With assistance by Luca Casiraghi, Karin Matussek, Sarah Syed, Laura J Keller, and Chris Martin

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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UK Green Bank Continues on Path of Waste-to-Energy Investment

UK Green Bank Continues on Path of Waste-to-Energy Investment

green investment

After targeting waste-to-energy in September for its first investment since its purchase by the Macquarie Group this year, the Green Investment Group (GIG) now is entering a partnership to develop, fund and own new waste-to-energy projects in the U.K. and Ireland.

GIG this week said that it sealed a new partnership with Covanta Holding Corp. with a US$161 million investment in a 50 percent stake in Covanta’s new Dublin waste-to-energy facility. The project is expected to be operational early next year.

The green bank in September arranged a US$51.6 million debt facility for Wheelabrator Technologies’ stake in Ferrybridge Multifuel 2 (FM2) — a new, large-scale merchant waste-to-energy facility near Knottingley in West Yorkshire, U.K.

The partnership has identified six projects of interest in the U.K., according to GIG.

GIG said that it has invested more than US$1.3 billion in waste and bioenergy facilities, ranging from small-scale anaerobic digestion plants to large-scale waste-to-energy plants that are expected to divert hundreds of thousands of metric tons of residual waste from landfills every year.

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Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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New Geothermal Plant in Nevada Will Help Power Los Angeles

New Geothermal Plant in Nevada Will Help Power Los Angeles


The first new geothermal plant in a group of projects that will feed power to the Los Angeles basin now is online.

Ormat Technologies this week said that it has placed the 24 MW Tungsten Mountain geothermal power plant into commercial operation. The plant is part of a portfolio power purchase agreement Ormat signed earlier this year with the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA), which will sell the entire output of the portfolio to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). Under the agreement, SCPPA will purchase 150 MW of power generated by a portfolio of Ormat’s new and existing geothermal power plants.

Reiko Kerr, senior assistant general manager for LADWP, said in a statement that the geothermal power will help the utility “transition away from coal power while maintaining a reliable power supply for Los Angeles.”

The new project brings Ormat’s total operating portfolio to 800 MW, according to Ormat CEO Isaac Angel.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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Finance Institutions Are Making a Massive Investment in Solar

Finance Institutions Are Making a Massive Investment in Solar


The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently put its stamp on a series of financing deals that will boost solar development in India and Peru, and support new solar technology advancements.

EIB’s activities this month are but a sample of the work by financial institutions to support solar growth around the world. Other organizations, such as development banks, also are making funds available through loans and grants, in a large-scale banking movement that is helping countries realize their environmental goals.

World Bank this month stepped up its environmental investment goals in a big way with the news that it will no longer finance upstream oil and gas activities after next year. Will this be the way of institutional energy investments in the future? It’s a strong sign from one of the biggest lenders in the world.

EIB Plus Solar

Oxford Photovoltaics Germany GmbH, a subsidiary of Oxford PV, yesterday said that it received $US17.8 million in financing from EIB to support commercialization of its perovskite on silicon tandem solar cell technology.

“I am delighted to sign the contract with Oxford PV today. The company has demonstrated the necessary parameters in efficiency and stability on its perovskite photovoltaic technology, to engage commercially with major industry players and play a key role in enhancing solar energy supply in the future,” Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the EIB responsible for Germany, said in a statement.

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EIB also put in place US$350 million in financing to support solar projects in India and Peru.

The investment bank joined YES BANK, a private sector bank in India, in a US$400 million initiative, pledging US$200 million for solar projects already identified in the states of Rajasthan, Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

“India and the European Union are committed to the Paris Agreement and tackling climate change,” Andrew McDowell, European Investment Bank Vice President, said in a statement. “This new $US400 million initiative demonstrates the shared vision and commitment of both the European Investment Bank and YES BANK to increasing renewable energy power generation across India.”

In Peru, EIB will provide US$150 million in financing to Enel Group subsidiary Enel Green Power Peru for two renewable energy generation plants, including a new solar power plant being built in the Moquegua region, close to the Chilean border.

In a statement, EIB Vice President Roman Escolano touted the bank’s efforts to support projects that help combat climate change, both inside and outside the EU.

“In fact,” he said, “we are dedicating more resources to this goal than any other multilateral financial institution in the world.”

Check Out More Solar Finance News from 2017

Is This Funding the Boost Solar Needs in Afghanistan?

Egypt Draws $1.8B To Develop 1.4 Gigawatts of Solar Capacity

Canadian Solar Raises $20M for Projects in Brazil

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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Workshops Aim to Train Architects, Engineers on Solar Basics

Workshops Aim to Train Architects, Engineers on Solar Basics


While training opportunities abound for installers, a series of workshops in three southern U.S. cities aims to bring architects and other design professionals up to speed on solar.

The course was developed by the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP), the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and national solar energy experts, in partnership with professional architectural and HVAC organizations. A session will be held in Versailles, Kentucky on Jan. 31.

A third session in Nashville is expected to take place in January.

The three cities are among 20-plus regions throughout the nation partaking in training funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, started in 2011 with a goal of supporting solar adoption.

Program supporters said that architects and engineers — as key professionals on a design team — are poised to influence their clients in including solar energy on both new and remodeled buildings. However, many designers lack experience with solar, and are not accustomed to proposing the technology to decision makers.

“Costs for solar installation have come down rapidly, but costs related to permitting, designing, insurance, finance and appraisal have not moved,” said BCAP president Maureen Guttman. “Designers are our sales team in spreading the word about energy costs. We’re providing advanced information to architects and engineers so their comfort level with the technology increases, and, ideally, the cost (of solar) is reduced. The more you know, the less fear there is.”

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A Powerful Opportunity

Michael Goldschmidt, a licensed architect and a professor at the University of Missouri, is one of the trainers for the Versailles and Nashville sessions. The single-day, eight-hour workshop includes design considerations for PV, how to speak to clients about the technology’s advantages, and where to find information on financial incentives.

Tennessee and Kentucky may be in coal country, but program proponents believe both of those areas are ready to embrace solar.

“These states are looking into the future saying let’s start this green power revolution now,” said Goldschmidt. “The solar industry is about to boom in the region because of a trainable workforce, and people are interested in becoming installers and suppliers for the technology.”

Building owners unsure about solar should be of aware of available financial incentives as well, Goldschmidt said. A solar power purchase agreement, or PPA, allows a host customer to pay for generated electricity at a fixed rate typically lower than the local utility’s retail rate.

While Kentucky does not have a solar access law, the state does allow for solar easements guaranteeing access to the sun for homeowners who installed solar power systems. In addition, residents and business owners participating in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Green Power Providers program are paid a retail rate for every kWh generated by solar, wind, biomass or hydropower systems rated at 50 kW or less.

On the Ground Floor

Arming design professionals with fundamental knowledge about solar makes it easier to introduce the concept at a project’s ground floor, as it’s less expensive to incorporate PV into initial blueprints than retrofitting an already existing building, noted Dan Lepinski, a Texas-based engineer who will serve as a trainer for the Birmingham group.

“You’re talking a 10 percent savings compared to implementing after the fact,” said Lepinski. “Doing it at the architectural stage can offset a building’s energy foot print. You can implement it into the infrastructure so it’s easier to connect.”

Lepinski, a professional solar consultant since the early 1970s, said PV as a cost-competitive environmental boon is gaining traction among property managers previously skeptical about the technology’s benefits.

“More people are saying they want to work in a clean structure built without toxins,” he said. “With solar and other measures, building owners will take additional steps to make their project energy efficient. One building doesn’t seem like much, but if you get enough raindrops, it becomes a flood.”

Lepinski says an army of knowledgeable trainees can help mainstream the slowly evolving innovation.

“I can’t teach (my students) in one day all they need to know, but they’ll take away a basic understanding of solar, how to install it, and how it impacts the operation of a building,” Lepinski said. “I can teach them how to learn about solar.”

Program officials will follow up in three months to test their students’ knowledge and see if they’ve incorporated PV into any projects. Solar power hit the one million installation milestone nationally in 2016, a figure that PV backers would like to see doubled within 12 months.

“Our students increasing their business revenue and differentiating themselves in the marketplace is the benefit we’re trying to convey,” said Guttman of BCAP. “Don’t just go find a solar installer, have it thoughtfully installed into the project you’re working on.”

This article was originally published by Southeast Energy News under a Creative Commons Attribution/No Derivatives license.

Lead image credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Public Domain

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Humidity may prove breaking point for some areas as temperatures rise, says study

Humidity may prove breaking point for some areas as temperatures rise, says study

Climate scientists say that killer heat waves will become increasingly prevalent in many regions as climate warms. However, most projections leave out a major factor that could worsen things: humidity, which can greatly magnify the effects of heat alone. Now, a new global study projects that in coming decades the effects of high humidity in many areas will dramatically increase.

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