April 21, 2011

IEA Roadmap Concludes Biofuels Can Provide 27% of Transportation Fuel by 2050

By 2050, biofuels could provide 27% of total transport fuel and contribute in particular to the replacement of diesel, kerosene and jet fuel, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.

Lighter Winds Help in Battle Against Texas Wildfires

Firefighters from 34 states received some help from the weather on Wednesday as lighter winds helped slow the spread of the wildfires burning across Texas, but the respite was not expected to last.

Is Solar Worth It? New Study Says Yes, With Incentives

Home buyers will pay for solar, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley Lab says, but the incentives are important to make it economical.

Examining home sales from 2001 to 2009 in California, researchers at the lab found that home buyers will pay approximately a $5.50 a watt premium for homes with a solar system. That corresponds to around $17,000 for a 3.1 kilowatt solar system, the report stated. (Feast on the full report and the Hedonic Model Reports here.)

The net costs of these systems, after federal and state incentives, came to around $5 a watt. Homeowners, of course, also enjoyed the benefit of power from their panels. Solar, thus, provides a net benefit to homeowners as long as the incentives are factored in. The price for solar continues to plummet too. Attorney and reader Jason Jungreis just wrote in to say he got solar put on his roof for $3.80 a watt, including federal, state and San Francisco incentives.

The study helps bolster an argument made for years by solar installers and realtors. Namely, that solar adds to a  home's price. The study examined 72,000 homes sales and approximately 2,000 of the homes had PV systems. The premiums ranged from $3.9 to $6.4 per watt.

Strangely, the premiums for solar on new homes was lower than the premium fetched for new solar systems on existing homes. Solar systems on new homes only fetched around a premium of around $2.3 to $2.6 per watt. The premiums on systems for existing homes came to $6.7 to $7 a watt. Maybe it was the fact that solar was a standard, and hence less exciting, feature on older homes. Maybe it made the new homes more interesting.

Approximately 2.1 gigawatts of solar have been installed nationwide. Last year alone, 880 megawatts went online in the U.S., stated the report, citing data from SEIA and GTM Research, up from 435 megawatts in 2009. 30 percent of the 2010 total were put on residences. California has 100,000 PV systems and 90 percent are on homes.

Solar Module Price Could Drop 20 percent in 2011

Solar module prices could fall as much as 20 percent this year due to an excess of supply in the market, the chief executive of solar project developer Recurrent Energy said on Wednesday.

Could the California Aqueduct Turn Into a Solar Farm?

Companies that make floating solar panels dream of covering the California Aqueduct with power-generating arrays. But the operator of the canal is throwing cold water on the idea.

Mixed Signals for Q1 Greentech Investment

What to make of the mixed messages coming from the greentech investment figures out of the first quarter of 2011? Depending on your point of view, the first three months either signal a record-setting expansion for the industry or retrenchment in the face of economic and political headwinds.

NYC Mayor to Announce Solar Plants at Landfills

Mayor Bloomberg is scheduled to appear in Harlem on Thursday to announce dozens of new environmental initiatives, including plans to build solar power plants on capped landfills.

Fracking Firm Battles to Woo English Villagers

Cuadrilla Resources has arrived in northern England to exploit the gas reserves, but it must win over the worried locals who have seen controversial US shale gas documentary, Gasland.

Melting Sea Ice Leaves Arctic Vulnerable to Erosion

Most of the storms at the edges of the Arctic Ocean occur in the autumn. If the warming climate keeps coastal waters ice-free after summer ends, these storms can dig deep into the permafrost, according to a report issued this week by the International Arctic Science Committee.

April 20, 2011

NRG Drops Plan for Texas Reactors

NRG Energy said it will drop its plans to build two nuclear reactors in Texas. The announcement is the most tangible evidence, to date, of fallout in the U.S. from the nuclear accident in Japan.

Italy Shelves Nuclear Plans after Japan Quake

Italy's government proposed on Tuesday to shelve indefinitely its nuclear plans following radiation leaks at Japan's nuclear plant.

IAEA Chief Defends Nuclear Energy

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says that accident and the Japanese nuclear crisis do not undermine the value of nuclear power.

Second Day of Violent Protests over India Atomic Plant

Mobs attacked a hospital and blocked a highway in western India on Tuesday in a second day of violent protests against a planned nuclear power plant, after a protester was shot dead a day earlier.

3,200 Gulf Wells Unplugged, Unprotected

More than 3,200 active oil and gas wells lie abandoned beneath the Gulf of Mexico, with no cement plugging to help prevent leaks that could threaten the same waters fouled by the BP spill.

Justices Skeptical on Role of Courts in Setting Emissions Standards

A lawsuit by six states and New York City to force power companies to reduce GHG emissions was met with seemingly unanimous skepticism from the justices during arguments at the Supreme Court.

Study Tracks Widening Partisan Divide on Climate

A new study, which tracks and then interprets a decade worth of Gallup polling, finds a steep drop in the number of self-identified Republicans who believe global warming has already begun.

States, Utilities Ask EPA to Boost Regional Cap-And-Trade Plans

Three states, as well as a dozen power companies and advocacy groups, have joined forces to persuade U.S. EPA to let states meet new federal climate change rules by crafting their own programs.

Environmentalists Still Face Uphill Battle on Gulf Coast

In the conservative Gulf Coast region, heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry, environmental activists have had difficulty gaining momentum.

Wildlife Shows Resilience One Year after Gulf Oil Spill

Fears that Gulf of Mexico wildlife could be devastated by the BP oil spill have, so far, proved unfounded. But life is definitely harder for the many species that call the Gulf home.

Pa. Wants to End Gas Drilling Wastewater Discharge

Pennsylvania on Tuesday asked the state's natural gas industry to halt disposing of millions of gallons of contaminated drilling wastewater through treatment plants that discharge into rivers and streams.


SunPower Power Plant Approval Survives Appeals

A major SunPower solar plant will move forward as planned in California after San Luis Obispo County officials on Tuesday rejected appeals that sought to overturn the project's approval.

Google, Japanese Invest $500 Million in Wind Farm

Google and the subsidiaries of two Japanese companies are investing $500 million in a wind farm being built in the northwestern state of Oregon.

Solar Trust of America Nabs $2.1 Bln Loan for Solar Thermal Plant

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $2.1 billion loan guarantee to Solar Trust of America for a solar thermal power plant near Blythe, Calif. that will generate 1,000 megawatts of power.

Government Using Score Cards to Track Federal Agencies' Greening Efforts

Using a scoring system modeled on a traffic light, the Obama administration on Tuesday unveiled a new way to track how the government's largest agencies and departments are scaling back their use of electricity, water and fuel.

Investors Urge Swift Security Fix for "Limping" Emissions Trading Platform

Investors have urged the EU to remedy a prolonged "bad limp" in the spot trade element of the bloc's emissions trading system, three months after a high-profile cyber attack resulted in millions of credits being stolen.

Plans for Tough European Rules on Oil Spills Come Under Attack

European plans to crack down hard on oil companies with a series of measures to prevent a spill in EU waters like that of BP's Gulf of Mexico disaster, are under attack from the UK and other national governments, the Guardian has learned.

Solar Companies Take Legal Action over UK Feed-In Tariff Cuts

Solar power companies in the UK are taking the government to court over last-minute changes to subsidies that they say are destroying their business.

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