Archive for February 2011

DOE to Expand Partnership with National Parks

Program announces new pilot programs and are seeking ideas to reduce petroleum consumption

February 25, 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities initiative today announced the expansion of the ongoing collaboration with the National Parks Service’s Climate Friendly Parks program. The goal of this new partnership is to reduce air pollution and preserve the environment and the National Parks’ natural resources. Clean Cities has been working with the National Park Service since 1999 to support the use of renewable and alternative fuels, electric drive vehicles, and other energy-saving practices to help preserve air quality and promote the use of domestic energy resources in the parks. The expansion includes additional support and pilot projects at three national parks. The focus of the partnership is to identify options that assist national parks in reducing gasoline and diesel consumption.

As part of the initiative, National Parks will work with local Clean Cities Coalitions to prepare project ideas focused on purchasing alternative fuel or advanced technology vehicles, installing alternative fueling infrastructure, and educating the public about the benefits of petroleum reduction. The Department will provide technical assistance in developing project proposals which then can be submitted to the National Parks Service for potential funding.

Pilot projects for this new initiative are underway in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Mammoth Cave National Park. With the help of the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition, Yellowstone National Park is purchasing two hybrid electric buses that run on E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline). Additionally, Grand Teton National Park is replacing several of its ranger vehicles with new hybrid vehicles. The Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition is assisting Mammoth Cave National Park in the deployment of five propane school buses, five electric utility vehicles, and two propane-capable pick-up trucks.

Clean Cities is part of the Vehicle Technologies Program within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Established in 1993, Clean Cities supports nearly 100 local coalitions that promote the use of alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles. More information on existing projects and proposing new projects can be found on the Clean Cities National Parks Initiative website. Visit the Clean Cities website for information on other exciting work that’s helping to deploy these transportation technologies.

FIT contracts for new projects

by Edward C. Gates
Posted on February 26th 2011


Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has offered the feed-in-tariff (FIT) contracts to about forty new projects which represents about 872 MW and more of the renewable power. The contracts are offered for about additional 35 solar projects with a total of 257 MW, 4 wind projects with a total of 615 MW and 1 project with a total of 500 kW. Apart from these contracts, about 5 have been offered community groups and 1 Aboriginal project has received approval.

Robert Hornung, the president of Canadian Wind Energy Association said wind energy industry is ready to support the local residents and municipal leaders, Ontario Power Authority and Ontario government to guarantee wind energy developments in the communities across Ontario will be responsible and sustainable. The projects are 300 MW wind farm will be set up by Henvey Inlet First Nation’s Nigig Power Corp and proposed 230 MW project has been set up by the Niagara Region Wind Corp. The contracts are the large scale renewable energy projects second phase which has been awarded by the FIT program of Ontario.

As per the OPA, adding all these projects together will provide about 7,000 direct and indirect jobs along with $3 billion in the private sector investment. Robert Hornung also said the wind energy’s support to the Ontario’s electricity is helping Ontario to be a leader in green energy production and also creating new jobs and economic opportunities for the local communities.

The large scale FIT applications which have been submitted by June 2010 and didn’t receive contracts will be able to get the first Economic Connection Test from the FIT program. OPA may award few more contracts for the capacity allocation except for the projects which are less than 500 kW. At present, Canada has 4,155 MW of wind energy capacity already installed and Ontario has been the leader as it has installed about 1,598 MW of wind energy capacity.

Rooftop Solar PV Takes A Major Hit In Utility’s New Petition

by Jessica Lillian on Thursday 24 February 2011

Rooftop PV is out, and ground-mounted installations are in, according to a petition that Southern California Edison (SCE) submitted this month to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). SCE is seeking major modifications to its solar PV program, which originally received CPUC approval in June 2009.

As currently structured, the program requires SCE to deploy 250 MW of utility-owned generation (UOG) and an additional 250 MW of PV to be owned and operated by independent power producers (IPPs) over a five-year period (dating from the program’s approval). Thus far, SCE says it has 26 MW of its UOG portion installed at 11 sites and an additional 22 MW under construction at five sites.

Now, the utility has requested that the CPUC grant permission to revamp the program as follows:

– reduce the UOG component to 125 MW,
– reduce the existing IPP component to 125 MW, and
– designate the remaining 250 MW as a “revised IPP” component.

Most crucially, the revised IPP component would be reassigned to a separate competitive solicitation – without the original program’s deployment restrictions. Those restrictions, imposed by the CPUC when the program was originally launched, mandated that no more than 10% – or 25 MW – of PV installations in both the UOG and IPP components be ground-mounted.

Under SCE’s proposal, the 250 MW revised IPP program would be designated for “distributed solar PV of up to 20 MW, without any limitation on ground-mounted installations.”

In addition, both the UOG and existing IPP portions of the program would enjoy somewhat loosened rules. SCE has asked the CPUC to allow ground-mounted installations of up to 50 MW, with a limit of up to 25 MW each in both the UOG and existing IPP segments.

In the years that have passed since the PV program’s debut, California’s solar market has undergone a transformation, thus necessitating these changes, SCE claims.

“SCE’s entrance into the solar PV market through implementation of the program encouraged development of solar-generated electric power by, among other things, increasing the options available for installing and operating commercial PV,” the utility writes in its petition.

In particular, SCE believes that California’s non-SCE-owned growth in rooftop PV has made this particular market segment “less critical to fill” through both its UOG and IPP channels. Meeting program obligations under a revised solicitation process – with no or relaxed limits on ground-mounted PV, depending on  the segment – would also ultimately result in lower ratepayer costs, according to the utility.

Practical implementation concerns also influenced SCE’s turn away from rooftop PV. “The economic downturn has reduced the amount of new large commercial and industrial rooftop space available for solar PV installations,” the utility points out. “Newer roofs have a greater chance of being structurally and economically suitable for coverage by solar panels.

“Moreover, the additional competition for rooftops created by the commission’s requirement to double the program from 250 MW to 500 MW has also limited the availability of existing vacant and suitable rooftop space,” SCE adds.

The utility has requested a decision from the CPUC by June 9. It remains to be seen whether the commission will validate SCE’s economic reasons for de-emphasizing rooftop PV and ramping up ground-mounted PV.

However, SCE’s trouble locating suitable rooftop space for deploying PV reflects a proven broader issue that has recently garnered attention in the solar sector. (See the October 2010 cover story of Solar Industry.)

Given SCE’s prominence in the industry (the utility says that in 2009, it purchased roughly 80% of all solar power generated in the U.S.), its rooftop PV struggles and resultant decision to pursue a new direction in PV deployment could be a leading indicator.

Photo: SCE solar power project director Mark Nelson (right) at a Redlands, Calif., rooftop PV installation with Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (center) and Mike Englhard of ProLogis, the building owner. Photo courtesy of SCE.

Colorado Republicans Kill ‘No-Brainer’ Renewable Energy Study

by Timothy B. Hurst on February 24, 2011

A bill that would have used no taxpayer money to study the economic impact of a renewable energy feed-in tariff was killed by Colorado House Republicans

In what a friend in attendance called a “no-brainer” in an email to me on Wednesday, the Colorado House Committee on Agriculture, Livestock, & Natural Resources voted to indefinitely postpone House Bill 1228, a bill that would have explored the economic impact of distributed generation of renewable energy in the state. The real “no-brainer” part of the decision is that the study would have been entirely funded by donations, gifts and grants from interested parties.

“We had real strong testimony today, but unfortunately the bill just got killed by the republicans,” wrote my friend in a hastily-penned email after Wednesday hearing. “It was a no-brainer,” he continued.

Introduced by State Senator Gail Schwartz (D-5) and Representatives Edward Vigil (D-62) and Tom Massey (R-60), the bill, officially known as HB 11-1228 (pdf), would have commission a study by an independent entity funded entirely by outside money to look at the value of distributed renewable energy generation. In particular, and what may have seeded the bill’s demise, the study would have looked at the impact of a feed-in tariff (FiT) on economic growth, cost to utilities and ratepayers, and benefits to farmers, ranchers and retirees.

A feed-in tariff requires utilities to pay a fixed, above-market rate to any party that puts electricity generated by renewable sources back on the grid, thus incentivizing distributed renewable energy generation of all shapes and sizes, and encouraging homeowners, farmers and businesses to invest in small to medium-scale renewable energy development.

But even though the bill would have cost nothing to taxpayers and its supporters steered clear of the loaded and misunderstood language of a “feed-in tariff“, preferring instead to use the alternative, “Clean Local Energy Accessible Now” (CLEAN), to describe the policy, Colorado House Republicans sided in favor of entrenched electric utility and co-op interests to put a rest to any talk of distributed generation.

Although they didn’t mount much of a public campaign opposing the measure, the state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, has come out in opposition to feed-in tariffs, by any name, in the past, as was pointed out in a recent piece at Renewable Energy World. The article cites an Xcel Energy representative at a 2009 renewable energy conference in Minneapolis as saying, “the honest truth is we earn our returns by building plants and putting them into rate base and making profits on them.” A feed-in tariff, the Xcel representative continued, “takes away that opportunity of utilities to earn on their investments.”

Whether the feed-in tariff, which was single-handedly responsible for making Germany the world’s leader in installed solar photovoltaic capacity, will ever take hold in the U.S. is still a matter of debate. Policy diffusion takes time, and there is a period of softening and learning that must occur before an idea like this can take root and gather support.  And though this state-level study was defeated yesterday, my gut tells me this won’t be the last we’ve heard about a FiT, CLEAN, or whatever you want to call it, in the state of Colorado.

Because if any state is ripe for small to medium-scale distributed renewable energy generation, it is this purple state with its vast solar, wind and biogas resources that are just waiting to be tapped.

Examing FERC Rulings on Solar Feed-in Tariffs

By Andrew Gilligan |   February 23, 2011

Solar feed-in tariffs (FIT) have served as one of the primary policy tools for increasing the deployment of solar energy in several countries. Yet a recent ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) makes the future of solar FITs in the U.S. uncertain.

A FIT is basically a subscription program where the owner of a solar system can sell their electricity at a fixed rate to utilities. The utilities are required to purchase the solar electricity at this determined rate, which is higher than the normal wholesale electricity price. FITs, highlighted in places such as Canada and Germany, have the potential to be great for solar deployment because they guarantee a certain cash flow, thus minimizing the risk for those financing solar.

However, there also drawbacks to FITs. In the U.S., the success or failure of such a policy would depend on the ability of the state legislature to determine the correct fixed rate for solar electricity that incentivizes solar without oversubsidizing it. This fixed rate contract for purchasing electricity is more dependent on government funding and consistent political will than market forces.

Regardless of whether you agree more strongly with the advantages or the disadvantages of a solar FIT, it is important to note the FERC ruling on FITs this past year and its likely consequences. On July 15th of last year, the interstate electricity regulators at FERC affirmed the fact that they had exclusive authority over wholesale electricity sales.

The ruling was necessary because the California Legislature in 2007 established a feed-in tariff program for small combined heat and power systems in the state. Some utilities protested this program under the language of the Federal Power Act.  FERC’s ruling was originally confusing, although seemed to support the belief that state legislatures are severely limited in their ability to mandate premium, fixed-price requirements.

This ruling was controversial and eventually led to a clarification by FERC in October 2010 that states do have the authority for certain FITs when they set their rates through the Public Utilities Regulatory Act (PURPA). A spokesperson explained that since utilities may be mandated to buy power from different sources of electricity, a multi-tiered approach is admissible where states can calculate the utilities’ avoided cost for each separate electricity source.

Moving forward, it is unclear whether these FERC rulings will encourage or discourage more state FITs. Renewable policy experts have noted that the FIT structure allowed under these FERC rulings does not really resemble European FITs and has limited ability to dramatically increase renewable energy generation.

One of the options for FITs that FERC explicitly allows is for a state to establish a targeted range (for example for PV systems between 10 kW and 50 kW only), and let the market set the price. This is significant because it highlights FERC’s preference towards market solutions because they have the potential to be self-correcting and continually incentivize solar cost reductions.

A market solution for solar deployment that already exists is a solar “carve out “in a state’s RPS, which creates Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs. Trading SRECs allows the market to dictate an appropriate price based on a state’s alternative compliance penalty and supply and demand factors.

The company I work for, SREC aggregator and project financing firm SolSystems, believes this is the best way forward for the U.S. market.

Many U.S. states already have solar carve outs and healthy SREC markets. In fact, a FERC spokesperson indicated that Renewable Energy Credits may be needed in addition a FIT to get to sufficient levels of renewable energy deployment. Other advocacy organizations and solar professionals are advocating a hybrid appraoch as well.

However, due to the uncertain regulatory environment around FITs, we believe that states previously considering FITs will continue to look toward SRECs as a favored policy tool.

Province announces 40 new energy projects

Ottawa February 24, 2011 2:01 PM

by the Ottawa Citizen

TORONTO — The Ontario Power Authority has approved 40 new large renewable energy projects including solar, wind and water.

The authority says the projects will create 7,000 direct and indirect jobs, including construction, operation and maintenance, and attract $3 billion in private-sector investment.

The projects represent more than 872 megawatts of renewable power. The authority says that will be enough electricity to power more than 200,000 homes or a community the size of Burlington. The authority says there are more than 180 Feed In Tariff projects under development, representing more than 2,400 megawatts of power — enough electricity each year to power more than 600,000 homes.

The Feed In Tariff, or FIT, according to the government, means Ontarians are paid a guaranteed rate over 20 years or 40 years (for water power projects) to produce renewable energy that is used to feed into the electricity grid.

Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid said at a Thursday morning news conference that the new projects would be “fully realized” within three years.

The government announced a first wave of large-scale FIT contracts last April. The authority, however is so far refusing to say which, if any, of those projects are operational.

The government’s green energy program, praised by environmentalists, is criticized by opponents as overly generous and blamed for rising electricity costs.

The 40 new clean energy projects include: 35 solar projects totalling 257 megawatts, four wind projects totalling 615 megawatts, and one 500-kilowatt water project. These new projects will result in at least 240 more wind turbines and at least one million more solar panels in Ontario.

Ontario now has more than 1,500 megawatts of wind power online generated by more than 800 wind turbines. In 2003, there were only 15 megawatts of wind power generated by 10 turbines. This is a 100-fold increase in wind power capacity, the government says. More than 3,700 small-scale solar projects are feeding electricity into Ontario’s grid.

CSP Projects Challenged in Court

By TODD WOODY (NYT)

SAN FRANCISCO — Just weeks after regulators approved the last of nine multibillion-dollar solar thermal power plants to be built in the Southern California desert, a storm of lawsuits and the resurgence of an older solar technology are clouding the future of the nascent industry.

The litigation, which seeks to block construction of five of the solar thermal projects, underscores the growing risks of building large-scale renewable energy plants in environmentally delicate areas. On Jan. 25, for instance, Solar Millennium withdrew its 16-month-old license application for a 250-megawatt solar station called Ridgecrest, citing regulators’ concerns over the project’s impact on the Mohave ground squirrel.

At peak output, the five licensed solar thermal projects being challenged would power more than two million homes, create thousands of construction jobs and help the state meet aggressive renewable energy mandates. The projects are backed by California’s biggest utilities, top state officials and the Obama administration.

But conservation, labor and American Indian groups are challenging the projects on environmental grounds. The lawsuits, coupled with a broad plunge in prices for energy from competing power sources, threaten the ability of developers to secure expiring federal loan guarantees and private financing to establish the projects. Only one developer so far, BrightSource Energy, has obtained a loan guarantee and begun construction.

Like so many of this state’s troubles, the industry’s problems are rooted in real estate.

After President George W. Bush ordered public lands to be opened to renewable energy development and California passed a law in 2006 to reduce carbon emissions, scores of developers staked lease claims on nearly a million acres of Mojave Desert land. The government-owned land offered affordable, wide-open spaces and the abundant sunshine needed by solar thermal plants, which use huge arrays of mirrors to heat liquids to create steam that drives electricity-generating turbines.

But many of the areas planned for solar development — including the five projects being challenged — are in fragile landscapes and are home to desert tortoises, bighorn sheep and other protected flora and fauna. The government sped through some of the required environmental reviews, and opponents are challenging those reviews as inadequate.

“There’s no good reason to go into these pristine wilderness areas and build huge solar farms, and less reason for the taxpayers to be subsidizing it,” said Cory J. Briggs, a lawyer representing an American Indian group that has sued the United States Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management to stop five of the solar thermal plants. “The impacts to Native American culture and the environment are extraordinary.”

The risk that the suits will succeed in blocking construction could make it more difficult for the builders to get federal loan guarantees or attract private financing.

Officials with the Loan Programs Office of the United States Energy Department did not respond to requests for comment. However, department guidelines classify litigation risk as a significant factor to be considered when qualifying renewable energy projects for a loan guarantee.

Brett Prior, a solar analyst with the GTM Research firm, said commercial lenders also viewed the suits as a negative. “In general, there are more projects chasing project finance than there are funds available, so the investment banks can be selective when deciding which projects to support,” he said. “Projects with lawsuits pending will likely move to the back of the queue.”

The conflict over the California projects has already accelerated a shakeout among competing solar technologies.

Tessera Solar announced last week that it had sold its 709-megawatt Imperial Valley solar dish project, which had become the target of two lawsuits. The buyer, AES Solar, develops power plants using photovoltaic panels like those found on residential rooftops. The move follows Tessera’s sale of its 663.5-megawatt Calico solar dish power plant in late December, a week after the company lost its longstanding contract with a utility. Calico is the subject of three lawsuits, and the project’s new owner, a New York firm called K Road Power, said it planned to abandon most of the Tessera solar dishes and instead use photovoltaic panels.

Solar panels convert sunlight directly into electricity. They are based on an older, less efficient technology, but because of intense competition from Chinese panel makers, prices are plunging. Photovoltaic projects are also not subject to extensive environmental review by state regulators, but are instead approved by local officials.

As a result, photovoltaic projects are now more attractive to utilities. For instance, since January, Southern California Edison has signed contracts with developers to build eight photovoltaic farms that will generate 1,081 megawatts of electricity. Tellingly, seven of those projects will be built on private land.

Solar leads in on-farm energy

By Dairy Herd news source   |   Updated: February 23, 2011  |

The number of solar panels, wind turbines and methane digesters on America’s farms and ranches has increased significantly over the past decade and there are now 8,569 operations producing their own renewable energy, according to the results of the 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey released today. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, this was the first-ever nationwide survey that looked at renewable energy practices on America’s farms and ranches.

“These results indicate that farmers and ranchers are increasingly adopting renewable energy practices on their operations and reaping the important economic and environmental benefits,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At USDA we are committed to natural resource conservation, prosperity and energy independence in rural America. This survey gives us a benchmark against which we can measure our future successes.”

According to the survey results, solar panels were the most prominent way to produce on-farm energy. In 2009, farmers on 7,968 operations nationwide reported using photovoltaic and thermal solar panels. The use of wind turbines was reported by farmers on 1,420 operations across 48 states. The use of methane digesters was reported by 121 operations in 29 states.

On the state level, California leads the nation with 1,956 operations producing renewable energy, accounting for nearly a quarter of all operations in the United States participating in this practice. Texas, Hawaii and Colorado were the other major states where farmers on at least 500 or more operations were producing their own renewable energy.

The survey results also show an economic upside to producing energy on the farm. Farmers in nearly every state reported savings on their utility bills. The savings were especially noticeable in New York, where utility bill savings reported by respondents topped $5,000 for 2009.

Conducted as a follow-on to the most recent Census of Agriculture, the 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey focused on three principal renewable energy systems: solar panels, wind turbines and methane digesters. The survey expanded upon the energy questions asked in the census to provide a deeper analysis of American on-farm renewable energy production practices.

Full results of the 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey are available online at http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/.

Source: USDA

Community Power Report Calls for FITs in California

Suggests Feed-in Tariff Design Best Practice

February 23, 2011

By Paul Gipe

In a new 61-page report, San Francisco Bay area activists call for developing the distributed generation of renewable energy in California through a system of feed-in tariffs.

The Bay Area’s Local Clean Energy Alliance published Community Power–Decentralized Renewable Energy in California to frame the debate about how the state can meet its renewable energy target as a new governor takes office.

During the Gubernatorial campaign, Governor Jerry Brown called for the development of 20,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity, 12,000 MW of which would be set aside for small, distributed projects.

Written by Bay Area activist Al Weinrub, Community Power considered projects from a suite of renewable technologies less than 20 MW in size.

Weinrub argues that decentralized renewable generation can be brought on line more quickly with less environmental impact than large, central station renewable energy projects, and thus, are better able to help the state meet its renewable energy targets.

Decentralized generation, Weinrub notes, also provides more local economic benefits than large central station projects.

In Germany, farmers and groups of citizen investors can own renewable generation directly without the need for “third-party” or corporate ownership as is common in the US. For example, half of all wind development in Germany is owned by farmers and cooperatives of people living in nearby communities.

Revenues from locally-owned projects go into the pockets of local residents who then use their profits to buy local goods and services and pay local taxes.

To implement Local Clean Energy Alliance’s vision of decentralized development of renewable energy, Community Power suggests two strategies: Community Choice Aggregation and Feed-in Tariffs.

Weinrub argues that policy action is needed because the state will fail to meet its renewable energy targets. He cites a 2009 California Public Utility Commission report that despite 129 contracts for more than 10,000 MW of large, central station renewable projects have been awarded, little has been built.

Based on experience in Germany, Denmark, and Spain, Weinrub describes the key features of successful feed-in tariff design. He says that a feed-in tariff program with these features is simple, stable, and importantly, fair.

A well designed feed-in tariff program, says Weinrub, allows non-taxable entities such as cities, counties, state government, cooperatives, and nonprofits, the opportunity to pursue renewable energy projects.

The report contrasts sharply with the inaptly named study by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) on Model Program Rules for Community Renewables that omits discussion of both feed-in tariffs and renewables. Despite its title, the IREC report was directed solely at solar photovoltaics, ignoring other technologies. The report also only examine its preferred mechanism, net-metering, with an emphasis on third-party ownership.

Current policy in the US requires financial acrobatics to develop renewable energy with federal tax subsidies. Many projects developed locally have to sell ownership to a third party with a sufficient business tax to use the federal credits. Instead of IREC’s approach recommending third-party ownership, the Local Clean Energy Alliance’s report encourages more local ownership through feed-in tariffs.

According to a recent report, 51% of the 43,000 MW of renewable generation in Germany in 2009 was owned by farmers and individual investors. Germany uses a sophisticated system of differentiated feed-in tariffs that enable almost anyone to develop renewable energy.

Much of the rapid growth of renewable energy in Germany has occurred during the past decade when Advanced Renewable Tariffs were first introduced.

-End-
What’s New on Feed-in Tariffs

* Community Power Report Calls for FITs in California–In a new 61-page report, San Francisco Bay area activists call for developing the distributed generation of renewable energy in California through a system of feed-in tariffs. . .
* Gainesville Installs More Renewables than Vermont’s Speed Program in 2010–The city of Gainesville, Florida installed more renewable generating capacity under its feed-in tariff program in 2010 than the state of Vermont under its SPEED program. . .
* Tables of Renewable Tariffs or Feed-In Tariffs Worldwide–Updated with revised Nova Scotia ComFIT proposed tariffs . . .
* Feed-in Tariffs Needed After Grid Parity another hard-hitting critique by Craig Morris–A few weeks ago, US solar market analyst Paula Mints published an article essentially arguing that solar is about to reach an “un-incentivized future.” Don’t hold your breath. . .
* Rocky Road for Clean Energy, Views Still Great by Anne butterfield–“This is a classic example of why you need surety in the marketplace,” said Mike Bowman, globetrotting leader of the rural clean energy group 25×25 and former Colorado State Senate candidate. “There’s no surety left in the marketplace, and a well designed feed-in tariff for distributed generation would fix all that.” . .
* CLEAN Contracts for Indian Country by Bob Gough–Also, innovative federal policies need not require any new federal spending, as renewable purchases can be rate-based, just as retail, spot market coal purchases are today. A new national report entitled: “CLEAN Contracts: Making Clean Local Energy Accessible Now” describes an innovative policy change called a “CLEAN contract,” modeled somewhat on European standard offer feed-in tariffs. It allows energy project owners to sell their electricity to utilities at a predetermined, fixed price for a predictable and extended period of time. . .
* Power by the people by Deidre Pike–Schools with solar panels could make money to fund student activities. Universities could get paid for renewable energy production. Businesses and factories might turn industrial waste into power. A plan headed to the Nevada Legislature creates a structure to pay institutions, companies and individuals for generating electricity. Advocates say the plan could create potentially a couple of thousand jobs and lure companies—folks who manufacture, say, solar panels—to the Silver State. . .
* Solar Server: Pathways Towards a 100% Renewable Electricity System–The German Advisory Council on the Environment has published a Special Report which shows how a reliable, affordable and completely renewable power supply can be achieved in Germany and in Europe. The report also makes recommendations for the further development of the German feed-in-tariff law, especially in view of promoting a cost- optimized renewable electricity portfolio by 2050. . .
* Kennedy Joins the Fray: Offers Support for Solar Feed-in Tariffs in Los Angeles–Respected environmentalist and clean-energy pioneer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. today added his voice to the chorus in support of the CLEAN LA solar proposal, which would harness rooftop solar power to create the largest program of its kind in the nation. Kennedy joined dozens of business, labor, community and environmental leaders who have signed on to the plan that was created jointly by the Los Angeles Business Council and UCLA. . .
* North German State to Double Wind Energy on Land–Conservatives Increasing New Renewables from 50% to 100% of Electricity. . . With one of the highest concentrations of wind generating capacity in Europe–if not the world–the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein plans to double the amount of wind energy it generates from wind turbines on land. . .
* Status of Feed-in Tariffs in Europe 2010–The use of feed-in tariffs (FITs) to pay for renewable generation now overwhelmingly dominates European renewable energy policy, according to the most recent meeting of the International Feed-in (tariff) Cooperation council (IFIC). . .
* Ontario FIT Price Determination Summary–How Did They Do It–Several people have asked how the province of Ontario, Canada determined the price of each individual tariff in its Feed-in Tariff program and how were stakeholders involved. . .

Feed-in Tariff is Paving the Way for Other Renewables

EICESTER, UNITED KINGDOM–(Marketwire – Feb. 23, 2011) – Solar Power Grants, the UK’s leading online resource for homeowners regarding all renewable energy grant issues, is calling for more people to investigate green technologies and join the growing number of Feed-In Tariff (FIT) customers.

The FIT is a Government scheme which allows homeowners, businesses and communities to receive payments for generating their own renewable electricity. As well as lowering their energy bills and carbon footprint, applicants have the added incentive of receiving extra cash by exporting any unused electricity to the power grid.

Since the FIT was launched in April 2010, more than 21,000 renewable installations have been registered across the UK. With such a positive response to the FIT, Solar Panel Grants believes this is now setting a platform for other renewable technologies to be promoted, like solar thermal.

A recent survey by Solar Guide, a specialist in solar installation quotes and industry related news, found people joining the FIT in the beginning of 2011 could see a relatively fast return on their investment. The company claims that people currently purchasing solar PV panels can expect to pay between £11,000 to £14,000 for a three kWp system, which could pay for itself in a minimum of eight years.