Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
China’s offshore oil and gas company CNOOC agreed in early April to buy 3.6 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year until 2030. The Australian LNG energy project is operated by BG Group. Though the precise value for the deal is confidential, Australian officials confirmed estimates its worth about AU$80 billion (S$103 billion) — the country’s biggest single company-to-company contract ever.
The latest CNOOC deal now makes China the world leader of investments in clean energy. For 2009, China spent $35 billion, double what the U.S. did at $18.6 billion ranking second. China plans to spend even more in the year ahead, ramping up projects in renewable energy, including wind power and solar PV manufacturing, clean water and non-renewable energy sources, such as natural gas and oil. In total more than $162 billion was invested in clean energy worldwide, reports the Pew Research Center Trust.
Monday, April 5th, 2010
MP2 Capital is a San Francisco firm that develops, finances and invests in distributed generation and small-scale utility solar projects throughout North America, selling the electricity produced by its projects to commercial, government and utility customers under power purchase agreements and feed-in tariffs.
Its latest project is a 445-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array in Winsted, Connecticut. MP2 Capital has entered into a power purchase agreement to sell all of the electricity generated to the Regional School District No. 7 for 20 years under a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.
The system, which sits atop multiple rooftops of the school district, was built by groSolar and is composed of 1,937 photovoltaic panels from Canadian Solar. It is expected to produce approximately 492,000 kilowatt hours of clean solar electricity and save the school district $26,000 in energy costs during the first year of operation. Over the term of the agreement, the system is expected to produce approximately 9,380,000 kilowatt-hours to offset the school’s energy use.
Brad Bauer, co-founder and managing director of MP2 Capital, talked with CleanTechies about the project. (more…)
Friday, April 2nd, 2010
Government subsidies that helped fuel Europe’s most successful solar markets continue to be slashed, raising concerns that the region’s burgeoning renewable sector will be unable to compete with China and the U.S., according to a report on Greenwire.
Germany, the world’s largest market for solar power, will cut the price paid for electricity from roof-mounted panels by 16 percent and electricity from larger solar power stations by 15 percent.
Analysts say the government simply underestimated how quickly the renewable sector would grow. From 2000 to 2008, the production of photovoltaic energy in Germany rose from 32 million kilowatt hours to 4.4 billion kilowatt hours. Government subsidies in Germany now cost nearly €1.5 billion annually. (more…)
Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
Venture capital investment in clean technology reached $1.9 billion in the first quarter, climbing 83 percent from last year, according to a report by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte.
Startups in North America raised the greatest share among 180 companies around the world, a three-year peak for the area with $1.5 billion, or 81 percent of all investments. That’s a 79 percent rise from the 2009 fourth quarter slump, described as a “blip” by Cleantech Group President Sheeraz Haji.
The transportation sector led the way with a record $704 million, notably $350 million for electric car battery and infrastructure firm Better Place
, followed by significant investments in electric car and hybrid technologies. Fisker Automotive brought in $140 million, followed by $30 million for Coda Automotive, also based in California. Groupe Gruau of France reaped $23 million.
Friday, March 26th, 2010
Solar power is supposed to be clean and green, but what happens to the dirty ingredients involved to make and dispose of solar equipment?
Two years since the Washington Post first reported that a maker of polysilicon for solar panels was dumping toxic waste into Chinese soil, a U.S. nonprofit has ranked the “green” aspects of 25 photovoltaic module makers. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition launched the Solar Scorecard (PDF) on Tuesday.
Installations of solar modules rose by 42 percent in 2009, according to SolarBuzz. If this growth continues, rooftop modules that wear out within two to three decades threaten to add toxic bulk to landfills, just as yesterday’s computer monitors and cell phones have created unwieldly piles of consumer electronics waste.
Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
“2010 will be a day of reckoning for solar projects that have been announced,” said Mark McLanahan, CEO at Renewable Ventures, a Fotowatio company.
Five hundred bankers and solar executives speculated about the promise and pitfalls of implementing solar power projects at the 2010 Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego last week.
Permitting the Biggest Challenge
Permit approval and securing financing dominated the two-and-a-half day meeting as the greatest obstacles to completing projects. A panel of venture capitalists agreed that in all cases, developing solar projects and technology consistently takes longer than expected.
According to Sven Strohband, partner with MDV-Mohr Davidow Ventures, this is because “materials science is hard, but not as hard as biology: We are trying to do something truly new, and solar investments require a lot of capital to go to market.” (more…)
Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Thanks to a new TXU Energy and SolarCity partnership residents of Dallas, Texas will soon have the option to lease a photovoltaic solar array to offset high-energy cost. Similar programs are in place around the world, but in Texas where sprawling suburbs are common and air conditioning in the summer means sky rocketing fuel costs the potential savings for consumers could be astronomical.
After tax incentives the average owner of a three to four bedroom house can expect to pay 35 dollars a month in energy costs. $35 is a far cry from the $26,000 it could cost to buy the same solar system outright.
As the owners of the solar arrays SolarCity will be responsible for all maintenance.
Friday, March 19th, 2010
During the 2010 Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego, a large crowd learned that Chinese companies have cash and interest in the US solar energy market, yet partnerships require patience and low risk.
To explore the opportunities, R. Thomas Hoffmann, Partner with Ballard Spahr, led a panel with three experts on Chinese solar investing. They were:
- Jimmy Chuang, is with GCL Solar, the largest polysilicon producer in Asia and the largest solar developer in China. GCL has access to $4.5 billion.
- K. Scott Son, Vice President of Project Finance at Suntech, the largest producer of silicon PV in the world (nearly $2 billion in revenue in 2008).
- Sha Wang, Principal at Cybernaut Investment, a family company with US and Chinese roots and a $500 million solar investment fund.
Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
California recently approved the decision of a state-wide solar heating program consisting of almost $360 million financial incentives and market development funding by 2018. This initiative will soon be followed by rest of the country that lagged behind the world in installing solar thermal systems.
Global statistics show that the solar thermal industry is taking large steps in fulfilling heating and cooling demand in the world. Most of the countries around the world have adopted incentive programs for both solar water heating and space heating. Whereas in some countries, solar thermal systems have been widely utilized for so many years even without incentives.
The most important decision criteria for a household to install a solar thermal system is basically the payback times of their investment. The main driving factors of the investment payback time are the total cost of the systems and the cost of alternatives heating systems. (more…)
Monday, March 15th, 2010
The harnessing of solar energy is expanding on every front as concerns about climate change and energy security escalate, as government incentives for harnessing solar energy expand, and as these costs decline while those of fossil fuels rise. One solar technology that is really beginning to take off is the use of solar thermal collectors to convert sunlight into heat that can be used to warm both water and space.
China, for example, is now home to 27 million rooftop solar water heaters. With nearly 4,000 Chinese companies manufacturing these devices, this relatively simple low-cost technology has leapfrogged into villages that do not yet have electricity. For as little as $200, villagers can have a rooftop solar collector installed and take their first hot shower.
This technology is sweeping China like wildfire, already approaching market saturation in some communities. Beijing plans to boost the current 114 million square meters of rooftop solar collectors for heating water to 300 million by 2020. (more…)