Grid Parity is the point at which renewables become cost-competitive with traditional grid power--making it the Holy Grail for clean technology. With that in mind, the Green Chip team presents the Grid Parity blog... chronicling the technology advancements and policies that will get us there.
Recent history is filled with taxpayer-funded energy failures.
From the Bush Administration's FutureGen Clean Coal project (which was actually shelved during Bush's second term, only to be later revived by President Obama), to the downfall of Solyndra under the Obama Administration, we've all seen our fair share of disappearing tax dollars in the energy game.
Well today, we have another failed government energy project to share with you.
We recently learned that a government-funded project designed to convert weapons-grade plutonium into mixed oxide fuel used in nuclear reactors has cost taxpayers $7.7 billion so far – with little to show for it.
The initial cost estimate was $1.6 billion. But now, ten years behind schedule, combined with a recent life-cycle cost estimate shows a projected cost of about $22.1 billion when it's ready to open in 2019.
As if it wasn't enough that Fisker's about to go belly up, there's more bad news for Fisker.
Turns out, Fisker employees are now suing because they weren't given advanced warning about the lay offs. Believe it or not, this is a legitimate case, as a law dictates employees be given 60 days notice of coming layoffs. Interestingly, that law was passed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
In any event, check out this clip from Start Varney where attorney Mark Lanier explains the case in more detail. . .
Texas Claims Largest Energy Storage System in the World
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 - By SustainableBusiness.com
The world's largest battery storage system for wind energy is online in Texas.
Batteries that can store 36 megawatts (MW) of energy during off-peak periods are attached to a 153 MW wind farm - they can hold the electricity needed for more than 10,000 homes.
The Notrees Wind Farm and Battery Facility, part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid, will even out the power supply.
Duke Energy owns the wind farm and added the batteries with a $22 million matching grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE).
"It shook the renewable energy industry awake that storage is here and it's available," Ryan O'Keefe, vice president of business development for Xtreme Power, which designed and engineered the batteries, told Odessa American.
Now, businesses across the US are inquiring about batteries that can back up wind power, he says. The more widespread they become, the greater impact they can have on the grid.
Duke chose the Notrees wind farm for the project because it is its largest wind farm and has the most available land.
12 years ago, energy storage for renewable energy was a zero development, but now it's becoming an industry, notes Imre Gyuk, program manager for energy storage research at DOE.
"It's been operating every day since Dec. 27, and ERCOT is pleased," says O'Keefe.
Iowa will soon get another 400 miles of transmission lines to carry its growing load of wind energy.
Right now, as much as 25% of Iowa's wind energy can't be used because of congested transmissions lines.
The owners of the state's two biggest transmission systems will build the lines - Buffet's utility, MidAmerican Energy and ITC Holdings. Public hearings will be held this summer with the goal of completing them by 2017.
The lines would be "designed to optimize wind generation placement and to allow for the regional delivery of renewable generation in Iowa," says MidAmerican Energy, which recently completed 1000 megawatts of wind projects in the state.
Until now, utility Excel Energy has bought most of Texas' wind energy, but the new transmission lines will finally be able to carry power from wind plants in the western part of the state to all metropolitan areas, including Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
The Cross Texas Transmission system, expected to be finished by year end, already has grid connection contracts with Germany-based EC&R Development, UK-based RES America and Spinning Spur Two, among others.
Even so, the Texas legislature could be tough on renewable energy this year. Along with the federal production tax credit, a state incentive, Chapter 313, has been critical for the growth of the industry in Texas, and it expires next year.
Chapter 311, the Texas Economic Development Act, has been in place since 2011 and allows wind farms to temporarily pay lower property taxes.
Because of the Tea Party's strong presence in Texas, the natural gas boom and tight budgets, the tax incentive may not be renewed. Legislation has been introduced, however, to renew it until 2014.
Tesla Motors announced today that sales of its Model S vehicle exceeded the target provided in the mid-February shareholder letter. As customers who note their Model S serial number this weekend will realize, vehicle deliveries (sales) exceeded 4,750 units vs. the 4,500 unit prior outlook. As a result, Tesla is amending its Q1 guidance to full profitability, both GAAP and non-GAAP.
“I am incredibly proud of the Tesla team for their outstanding work. There have been many car startups over the past several decades, but profitability is what makes a company real. Tesla is here to stay and keep fighting for the electric car revolution,” said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO. “I would also like to thank our customers for their passionate support of the company and the car. Without them, we would not be here.”
Also being announced today is that the small battery option for the Model S will not enter production, due to lack of demand. Only four percent of customers chose the 40 kWh battery pack, which is not enough to justify production of that version. Customers are voting with their wallet that they want a car that gives them the freedom to travel long distances when needed.
The customers who ordered this option will instead receive the 60 kWh pack, but range will be software limited to 40 kWh. It will still have the improved acceleration and top speed of the bigger pack, so will be a better product than originally ordered, and can be upgraded to the range of the 60 kWh upon request by the original or a future owner.
Tesla is also revealing a small Easter egg today: all 60 kWh cars have been and will be built with Supercharger hardware included. Tesla is taking a slight cost risk that ultimately all customers will want to buy the Supercharger upgrade and receive unlimited, free long distance travel for life. Even for those that never drive long distances, this will improve the resale value of their car to people that do.
Wind power generated enough electricity to power four out of 10 UK homes last week – and that during a freezing March day and at a time when gas prices were at a seven year high.
From 9.30pm last Thursday night for the rest of the night and day, wind power generated 5 GW of electricity consistently over the 24 hour period, meeting over 10% of the country’s electricity needs.
Last week UK gas prices reached a seven-year-high after a pipeline connecting the UK and Belgium was shut down due to a technical fault.
“What this shows is that wind is a stable and reliable source of power generation on the scale we need, when we need it most,” Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of industry body RenewableUK, said. The news on gas “serves as a timely reminder of the vulnerability of supply and the price volatility of imported fossil fuels,” she added.
While the UK’s recent record is impressive it falls behind countries like Spain – in April last year Spain reached a new wind power record by producing 317 GW hours of electricity, covering 61% of the country’s electricity demand.
Meanwhile in Denmark, wind power has met nearly all of the country’s electricity needs. Copenhagen Capacity reported that wind produced 3,987 MW of power one day in March this year – just 800 MW short of Danish electricity demand.