EU carbon trading could hurt European energy industry: Shell chief

April 16, 2008

Energy Daily: Plans to make business pay for carbon permits previously distributed for free in the European Union’s carbon-trading system could hurt the bloc’s energy industry, the chief executive of Shell said in an interview released Monday.

“In the past 20 years the refining industry in Europe has been very difficult,” Jeroen van der Veer, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant’s boss, told The Times in an early edition of its Tuesday paper. “But if we have additional penalties because we move away from a system of free allocations to a large extent, then in such a marginal industry that is a real problem.”

EU leaders hope to enact a plan to meet the bloc’s goal of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide — the main gas reponsible for global warming — by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. A widespread concern among Europeans, though, is the possibility of so-called carbon leakage, whereby heavy industry migrates out of Europe to cheaper, less-regulated countries, taking the pollution and the jobs with them…

Shown here: Shell’s Anacortes refinery in Puget Sound, photo by Walter Siegmund, Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license.


The big missing piece to the wind-solar puzzle is….

April 15, 2008

SolveClimateThis file is from the Open Clip Art Library, which released it explicitly into the public domain, using the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication: A massive energy storage system that can guarantee uninterrupted power delivery. Meaning: clean electricity all the time, even when the winds aren’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. And now there’s a battery unit being produced in Japan that claims it can provide just that. They’re called sodium-sulfur systems. And they offer a way to store power from the sun and wind, and then dispatch it to the grid when demand is greatest.

It’s welcome news if they can pull it off. Because without that missing piece, solar and wind will continue to play second fiddle to fossil fuels. Bloomberg has the full story on the sodium-sulfur batteries — and their Japanese maker too, NGK Insulators Ltd.

In Japan, the NAS storage units — as NGK calls them — have been a hit. They’re used at over 30 sites already, totaling 28 megawatts. But in the US they’re still an anomaly with just two customers. American Electric Company is one of them. The coal giant has been testing a 1.2 megawatt NAS system since mid-2006 but not in connection with renewables at all. And Xcel Energy is the other. It will be the first American utility to use NAS for wind energy storage beginning in October, when it starts testing a one-megawatt system in Minnesota….

First global solar index, from Melvin and Company

April 11, 2008

Solar corona photo by NASASolar Daily: MAC Indexing has announced the introduction of the MAC Global Solar Energy Index, the first index to independently track the rapidly growing solar energy sector. Dow Jones will publish the Index, which was developed and is maintained by MAC Indexes, an affiliate of Melvin and Company that specializes in clean energy equity research and index development. The MAC Global Solar Energy Index has been licensed to Claymore Advisors, LLC, which anticipates launching the first solar power exchange-traded fund (ETF) on the NYSE-Arca under the symbol “TAN” in April (

“The creation of the MAC Global Solar Energy Index recognizes the growth of the solar sector and its maturing in terms of investment depth,” said Christopher C. Melvin, Jr. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Melvin and Co. “Solar continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors within the clean-tech industry with a recent 47% annual growth rate and an expected 40% continued growth in the next few years.” A global portfolio of 25 leading solar companies with a combined market capitalization of nearly $100 billion comprise the index. The average market capitalization of the stocks in the Index is approximately $3.8 billion and the median is approximately $1.2 billion….

The Index is designed to track companies within the following business segments of the solar power industry: solar power equipment producers; suppliers of materials or services to solar equipment producers; companies that derive a significant portion of their business, measured by the methodology set forth below, from solar power system installation, integration or finance; and companies that specialize in selling electricity derived from solar power …

Deutsche Bank makes a bold statement about electric cars in the US

April 9, 2008

Old-fashioned lead-acid battery, \"Shaddack,\" Wikimedia Three Deutsche Bank analysts took a hard look at Project Better Place’s business plan for an electric-car recharging grid in Israel and Denmark, and they drew this unexpected conclusion: The electric car scheme is viable in America, too. The assumption that it would make a cost-effective investment only in tiny nations with sky-high taxes and outrageous prices at the pump is dead wrong. How do they know?

Because Deutsche Bank crunched the numbers and found this. It will cost no more than seven cents to drive one mile under the Project Better Place scheme, including battery and electricity costs. Compare that with 24 cents per mile in Europe in a gas-powered car, and 15 to 20 cents per mile in America. Hence this conclusion: From checking the Project Better Place business model, we are concluding that a pure electric car should not cost any more than a diesel- or a gasoline-powered car, and in most countries its operating costs should actually be lower….

Crystalline solar cell market grew 39 percent in 2007, says Gartner

April 7, 2008

PVTech : The crystalline silicon solar cell market had another robust year, according to figures from Gartner, Inc. The sector saw revenues increase 39 percent in 2007 compared with 2006, resulting in a 42 percent CAGR from 2004 through 2007. Ongoing demand in 2008 is expected with solar silicon consumption expected to exceed that of electronic semiconductor consumption for the first time, Gartner sai.

Crystalline silicon solar cell leaders were able to secure silicon material sufficiently for strong growth in 2007, though short supply actually hampered growth rates. Gartner noted that Q-Cells took the number one slot for the first time as Sharp and other Japanese manufacturers struggled to secure polysilicon supplies. Q-Cells now holds 17.2 percent of the market with revenues climbing 70 percent in 2007 compared to 2006…

California utility signs $3 billion solar power deal

April 4, 2008

Flag of CaliforniaMetaefficient: Pacific Gas & Electric today will announce a deal to buy as much as 900 megawatts of electricity. It will be enough to power 540,000 California homes each year, and involve the construction of five solar power plants during the next decade. The company to build the solar-thermal power plants in the Mojave Desert is BrightSource Energy.

“From what I know, this is the biggest commitment ever in the history of solar,” said John Woolard, BrightSource Energy’s chief executive officer and president. “It’s a fairly significant undertaking on both sides.”

Building all five plants in the Mojave will cost $2 billion to $3 billion, Woolard said. The project, which faces regulatory and financing hurdles, could mean 2,000 construction jobs, and employ about 1,000 workers to operate the plants….

State flag of California, “Zscout370,” Wikimedia Commons

With ambitious EU legislation, wind energy can provide huge benefits to Europe

April 2, 2008

Energy Daily: Manuel Pinho, Portugal’s Minister of Economy and Innovation, warned that if quick steps were not taken towards a better use of renewables, the EU would go from importing 55% of its energy to 66% by 2030, making the economy even more dependent on energy from third countries. He presented Portugal’s renewable energy mix, a combination of hydro and wind power, as a combination ideal for providing flexible, indigenous electricity at competitive energy prices.

“Wind has delivered the most promising results out of all renewable energy technologies so far, with 57 GW of total capacity installed in the EU by the end of 2007. In order to ensure that this trend continues, we need to have a secure and favourable EU legislative framework”, EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told delegates at the opening session of the European Wind Energy Conference (EWEC) today in Brussels. The EU Commissioner – Chairman of the EWEC 2008 Conference also emphasised the need to consider renewable energy solutions beyond 2020 and far into the future.

A swift adoption and implementation of the European Commission’s proposed Renewable Energy Directive is essential to ensure a secure, sustainable and competitive energy future in Europe, delegates heard this morning. Decision-makers at national and European level stressed the importance of a stable, flexible legislative framework. They outlined their vision for the EU legislation and how this will deliver a new generation of energy supply.