Solar and Wind Living, February 1, 2013

Solar and Wind Living News

February is upon us. This year is starting to look good for the US economy; the housing market is starting to recover which should help home owners invest in clean energy.

In this issue we have a White House blog piece out that boasts great gains in wind energy. The Department announced two days ago no less than seven data-driven projects to unearth new opportunities for reducing costs and accelerating solar energy deployment in the United States. Atlantic States are again introducing offshore wind initiatives that if successful will proof fruitful for the companies that manufacture turbines and for the consumers of electricity. Turbines, the gift that keeps on giving.

All over the world clean energy is taking hold, Germany and Japan have turned off their nuclear switches and you guessed it, nothing bad happened, in fact Germany is thriving on clean energy. China needs to make a big change in the way they power their country if they are going to curb the release of harmful gases as seen on TV lately, citizens having to wear gas masks just to go to the store, their wildlife must be suffering. They will eventually pay for the damage in health care. But China is slowly moving in the right direction, the Chinese government has been reported to be giving large incentives to EV buyers, larger than the U.S. Even Warren Buffet is getting in the EV bandwagon buying a stake in Chinese Automaker BYD.

So things are getting very interesting indeed. As you read through the stories that follow, please leave your comments to help guide us in the future. Tell us what it is you want us to write about and what features it is you’d like to see on this site.

Solar and Wind Living has grown to 10,000 users from all over the world and better yet when we combine it with The Solar and Wind Expo database the list will grow to more than 20,000 users, amazing.

Last but not least, we have implemented a store in the site to help pay for our work, we felt that this was a little different to just asking for donations. Purchase something and help the cause. Read on and enjoy!

George Lopez
Executive Director

A Record Year for the American Wind Industry
by Heather Zichal, White House blog

Since taking office, President Obama has been focused on building an energy economy in the United States that is cleaner as well as more efficient and secure. As part of that effort, the Administration has taken historic action over the past few years to support the development and deployment of renewable energy that will create new jobs and jumpstart new industries in America. And we are making significant progress towards those goals.

Today, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has released its Fourth Quarter Market Report for 2012, which highlights a number of exciting milestones.

The American wind industry had its best year ever in 2012, with more than 13,000 MW installed. In the fourth quarter alone, more than 8,000 MW were deployed – an all-time record for the industry and twice as much wind as the previous record set in the fourth quarter 2009.

Thanks to this growth, the wind industry was able to achieve another milestone in 2012: achieving 60 GW of cumulative wind capacity in the United States. To put it another way, the United States today has more than 45,000 wind turbines that provide enough electricity to power 14.7 million homes – roughly equivalent to the number of homes in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined.

To underscore how quickly wind power is taking root in America, consider this: it took 25 years to reach 10 GW, which occurred in 2006. But it only took four years to grow from 20 GW (2008) to 60GW (2012). And last year – for the first time ever – wind power provided the largest share of new electric capacity (42%) in the United States. Of course, more wind also means less carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. With 60 GW installed, it’s like taking 17.5 million cars off the road. Read more…

Warren Buffet Buys Electric Car Company
By Marc Gunther, CNNMoney

(Fortune Magazine) -- Warren Buffett is famous for his rules of investing: When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is usually the reputation of the business that remains intact. You should invest in a business that even a fool can run, because someday a fool will. And perhaps most famously, Never invest in a business you cannot understand.

So when Buffett's friend and longtime partner in Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB), Charlie Munger, suggested early last year that they invest in BYD, an obscure Chinese battery, mobile phone, and electric car company, one might have predicted Buffett would cite rule No. 3 above. He is, after all, a man who shunned the booming U.S. tech industry during the 1990s.

But Buffett, who is 78, was intrigued by Munger's description of the entrepreneur behind BYD, a man named Wang Chuan-Fu, whom he had met through a mutual friend. "This guy," Munger tells Fortune, "is a combination of Thomas Edison and Jack Welch - something like Edison in solving technical problems, and something like Welch in getting done what he needs to do. I have never seen anything like it." Read more…

U.S. Resets Expectations For EV Sales, Not All Bad News
Reuters, published on Newsday

WASHINGTON/DETROIT - The U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday eased off President Barack Obama’s stated goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015, and laid out what experts called a more realistic strategy of promoting advanced-drive vehicles and lowering their cost over the next nine years.

Since Obama announced the goal in his 2011 State of the Unionspeech, auto analysts and executives have doubted American consumers would buy a million electric vehicles by 2015.

"Whether we meet that goal in 2015 or 2016, that’s less important than that we’re on the right path to get many millions of these vehicles on the road," an Energy Department official said, in advance of remarks by Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a speech at the Washington D.C. auto show. Read more…

DOE Announces Projects to Harness Power of Big Data
DOE News feed

WASHINGTON – As part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, the Department today announced seven data-driven projects to unearth new opportunities for reducing costs and accelerating solar energy deployment in the United States. These projects – located in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas – will result in viable methods for dramatically transforming the operations of solar researchers, manufacturers, developers, installers, and policymakers, and speed the commercialization and deployment of affordable, clean solar energy.

“Through powerful analytical tools developed by our nation’s top universities and national labs, we can gain unparalleled insight into solar deployment that will help lower the cost of solar power and create new businesses and jobs,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Projects like these will help accelerate technological and financing innovations – making it easier for American families and businesses to access clean, affordable energy.”

The Energy Department will invest about $9 million across the seven projects announced today. These efforts will help scientists, project developers, installers and communities work together to discover previously unexplored ways to improve solar cell efficiency, reduce costs and streamline installation processes.

Harnessing Real-World Data to Solve Industry Challenges

As part of the investment announced today, the Energy Department will provide $7 million to research teams led by Sandia National Laboratories, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Yale University and the University of Texas – Austin. These teams will partner with public and private financial institutions, utilities and state agencies to apply statistical and computational tools to industry problem-solving and lead regional pilot projects across the country to test the impact and scalability of their innovations.

For example, Yale University researchers will partner with SmartPower’s New England Solar Challenge to design and implement innovative strategies that can increase the effectiveness of community-led bulk solar purchase programs. The team from the University of Texas – Austin will work with complex datasets from six Texas utilities to better understand customer needs and identify opportunities to streamline installation and interconnection. Similarly, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, will lead another project with Clean Power Finance to develop a computational model to analyze data from a network of U.S. solar installers and help identify new types of community- and regional-scale strategies that drive down financing and deployment costs. 

Charting Market Evolution and Technology Innovation

Additionally, the Energy Department is investing $2 million across three projects led by the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and SRI International to analyze decades’ of scientific publications, patents and cost and production data. Through these projects, researchers will be able to obtain a complete picture on the U.S. solar industry and discover methods to accelerate technological breakthroughs and remove roadblocks to greater cost reduction.

Based in Menlo Park, California, SRI International will develop advanced software that reads and analyzes thousands of scientific publications and patents to discover new ways to speed solar energy technology innovation and commercialization. Meanwhile, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  and the University of North Carolina – Charlotte will apply computational tools to patent, cost and production data to speed up solar technology cost reductions and better forecast future cost reductions for new energy technologies.

The seven projects announced today will provide new insights that could dramatically accelerate the commercialization of affordable, reliable clean energy technologies. Find the full list of projects HERE.

The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. Inspired by President Kennedy's “Moon Shot” program that put the first man on the moon, the SunShot Initiative has created new momentum for the solar industry by highlighting the need for American competitiveness in the clean energy race. For more information, visit www.energy.gov/sunshot.