Other key stories below: GE Invests in Spanish Solar Plant with Storage
Solarworld AG is preparing an anti-dumping suit against Chinese firms operating in the EU, following a $1 billion action the German company launched in the US earlier this month.
The move reflects mounting concern in Europe and America about subsidised Chinese firms flooding the market with solar PV panels at artificially low cost.
Solarworld AG argues that China’s $30 billion of subsidies to its solar power companies violates global trade rules and constitute an unfair form of retailing below cost price or “dumping.”
“We have dumping files in the European Photovoltaics market as well as in the US market and this is a case, of course, for the European Union,” Milan Nitzschke, a Solarworld AG spokesman told EurActiv by telephone from Bonn.
“Our Chinese competitors are going to Greece and telling people: ‘You can buy our products and solar modules and we are here with the Chinese bank of construction and they will give you the money for that,’” Nitzschke explained.
“This is unfair competition. It is state money or loans borrowed for projects in Europe with the condition that the customers have to buy Chinese products.”
The firm is still investigating several remedial courses of action in Europe to counter a perceived long-term strategy of forcing competitors out of business, and then fixing retail prices for Chinese firms from a monopoly position.
The Interior Department on Wednesday announced it has granted BP its first deepwater drilling permit since last year’s oil spill.
The permit awarded by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is for an exploratory well in the Keathley Canyon map area, located about 246 miles south of Lafayette, La.
The granting of the permit is the latest sign that the British oil giant is climbing back from the political abyss. The embattled company’s political action committee is almost on pace to match what it donated at the federal level during the 2008 presidential election cycle. Between March and August, BP’s PAC made more than $50,000 in federal-level campaign contributions, ranking it among the cycle’s more generous donors.
Interior last week approved BP’s Gulf of Mexico exploration plan; the permitted well was one of those included in that plan.
“BP has met all of the enhanced safety requirements that we have implemented and applied consistently over the past year,” BSEE Director Michael Bromwich said in a statement. “In addition, BP has adhered to voluntary standards that go beyond the agency’s regulatory requirements.”
The well would be in waters 6,034 feet deep, which is deeper than the company’s doomed 5,000-foot Macondo well that ruptured and sparked a fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and led to the biggest spill in U.S. maritime history.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) blasted the decision to issue the permit before BP paid fines stemming from last year’s spill. “The fact that BP is getting a permit to drill without yet paying a single cent in fines is a disappointment, and does not serve as an effective lesson of deterrence for oil and gas companies,” Markey, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.
After a years-long delay, an Earth-observing satellite blasted into space early Friday on a dual mission to improve weather forecasts and monitor climate change.
A Delta 2 rocket carrying the NASA satellite lifted off shortly before 3 a.m. from the central California coast. The satellite was boosted into an orbit 500 miles above Earth about an hour after launch.
NASA invited a small group of Twitter followers to watch the pre-dawn launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The satellite joins a fleet already circling the planet, collecting information about the atmosphere, oceans and land. The latest — about the size of a small SUV — is more advanced. It carries four new instruments capable of making more precise observations.
Tim Dunn, a launch director for NASA, said in streaming commentary on the agency’s website that the flight “went terrific” and there “is a lot of celebration in control room right now.”
The administrator of the $20 billion fund set up by BP to compensate individuals and businesses hurt by last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill said Thursday new rules are being formulated to make payouts more generous for hard-hit shrimpers.
Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg told a House Committee on Natural Resources hearing he hopes to announce the rules within two weeks.
He agreed with concerns from shrimpers that the length and extent of damage they have suffered because of the April 2010 disaster has been more significant than first thought.
“I think we’ve got to do better for the shrimpers,” Feinberg said.
Feinberg remains under fire for the slow pace of payments and for denying many claims. Eighteen months after the spill, the fund has paid $5.5 billion to 213,408 claimants. More than 300,000 other claimants have been denied compensation. Feinberg agreed in July to a Justice Department audit. He said at the hearing the audit hasn’t started. A Justice spokesman said in a statement the agency is receiving input from officials along the Gulf and the audit is expected to start before the end of the year.
GE Energy Financial Services announced today it and German fund KGAL are jointly investing EUR111.1 million in a 50-megawatt parabolic trough concentrated solar power plant using molten salt energy storage in Torre de Miguel Sesmero, Badajoz, Spain.
The GE unit and KGAL agreed to invest structured equity in Extresol II, developed by Spain-based ACS, Europe’s largest developer, builder and operator of solar thermal power plants. Additional financial details were not disclosed. ACS has built more than EUR2 billion worth of concentrated solar power facilities with molten salt storage in Spain. An ACS subsidiary, Cobra, finished construction of Extresol II in Dec. 2010 and provides operations and maintenance services to the plant.
“This transaction complements our growing European renewables portfolio and brings with it a different technology — concentrated solar power with salt storage — working with strong local partners,” said Andrew Marsden, a managing director and European leader at GE Energy Financial Services. “Such investments also support ecomagination, GE’s business strategy to create value for customers by solving energy, efficiency and water challenges.”
The World Bank on Thursday approved $250 million in funding for South African power utility Eskom to develop a wind and solar plant as part of a push to boost sources of clean energy.
The World Bank said the funding through its Clean Technology Fund will finance a 100-megawatt solar power plant in Upington in the Northern Cape province and a 100-megawatt wind power project at Sere, north of Cape Town.
“The loan will help Eskom to implement two of the largest renewable energy projects ever attempted on the African continent,” the bank said in a statement.
Eskom, a major supplier of energy to South Africa and neighboring countries, is keen to reduce its carbon footprint.
The state-owned utility is spending billions of dollars to build and upgrade existing coal-fired power plants to meet immediate energy needs, and wants to diversify the energy mix toward cleaner sources of energy.
Jerry Brown started talking about solar power in the 1970s, when he was California’s governor for the first time. He was lampooned for it, but the vision gradually became attractive in a state that is naturally sunny and, especially along the coastline, cares about the environment. So in 2006, under a Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, California set a goal to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. This year Mr Brown, governor once again, signed the last bits of that goal into law. And this month the state’s air-quality regulators unanimously voted to adopt its most controversial but crucial component: a cap-and-trade system.
More complex and less elegant (but politically easier) than a simple carbon tax, a cap-and-trade system limits the emissions of dirty industries and puts a price on their remaining pollution so that market forces, in theory, provide an incentive for reductions. In California’s case, starting in 2013 the government will “cap” the amount of gases (such as carbon dioxide) that industry may emit, and gradually lower that cap. It will also issue permits to companies for their carbon allowance. Firms that reduce their emissions faster than the cap decreases may sell (“trade”) their permits and make money. Firms that pollute beyond their quota must buy credits.