April 15 News: Clean tech investments top $1 billion; Duke builds largest storage system at wind farm

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"April 15 News: Clean tech investments top $1 billion; Duke builds largest storage system at wind farm"

Clean tech investments top $1 billion

Clean technology investments top $1 billion, according to the latest MoneyTree report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

The Clean Technology sector, which crosses traditional MoneyTree industries and comprises alternative energy, pollution and recycling, power supplies and conservation, saw a 26 percent increase in dollars over the fourth quarter to $1 billion.

The report attributes the increase being driven by several large rounds, including five of the top 10 deals.

Last year’s report showed an 87 percent increase to clean tech. This quarter also marks the fourth time in history that Clean Technology investing exceeded one billion dollars.

With gasoline costs on the rise and the emphasis from governments to create alternative energy solutions, it’s no wonder that the clean tech sector has a boost in investment.

Renewable Energy Investment Drops 34% to Lowest in Two Years

New investment in renewable energy dropped to the lowest in two years in the first quarter, weighed down by low natural gas prices in the U.S. and subsidy cuts in Europe, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Money flowing into the industry through asset finance, share sales, venture capital and private equity fell more than a third to $31.1 billion in the first three months of the year from a record $47.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, the London-based researcher said today in a statement.

Countries including Germany and Spain have announced reductions in the guaranteed prices that they pay for electricity from renewable sources while in the U.K. the government is reviewing the rates. Gas in the U.S. in September fell to its lowest price since 2002 amid a glut in production.

“The first quarter saw a bit of a hangover from the hectic investment activity seen in the final months of last year as financiers rushed to close deals to meet their internal targets or to catch feed-in tariffs due to expire in countries such as Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic,” New Energy Finance Chief Executive Officer Michael Liebreich said.

The first quarter’s investment in wind farms, solar parks and other means of renewable power is the lowest amount since the $20.5 billion spent in the first quarter of 2009, according to New Energy Finance.

Duke Builds Largest Storage System With Xtreme at Wind Farm

Duke Energy Corp. (DUK), a U.S. utility that operates 986 megawatts of wind-energy capacity, selected Xtreme Power Inc. to design and install the world’s largest power-storage system linked to a wind farm.

The 36-megawatt storage system is expected to cost $44 million and will go into operation in the third quarter of 2012, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke said in an e-mailed statement.

The system will retain power generated when demand is low and can be tapped when electricity consumption is highest or the wind is not blowing. It will make the 153-megawatt Notrees wind farm in west Texas a more reliable source of energy, according to Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables.

Storage technology will “help our wind projects, and potentially down the road solar projects, interact with the grid, making sure that any of the potential negatives from an intermittent wind resource or a peak solar resource can be managed,” Wolf said in an interview.

Xtreme Power manufactures dry-cell battery systems for use with wind farms and solar projects, which cannot consistently deliver electricity.

Carlos Coe, the Kyle, Texas-based company’s CEO, said storage is beginning to catch on with renewable energy developers. The Notrees project will be the largest storage system in use with a wind project, and more are in the pipeline.

More Projects Planned

“We have a few projects of this size awaiting to be announced later this year or into next year that are related to either renewable integration on a large-scale or renewable integration under challenging transmission and distribution circumstances,” he said in an interview.

Obama, Entering the Budget Fray, Warns Against Clean Energy Cuts

President Obama braced for months of tense budget negotiations yesterday by warning Republicans that clean energy funding and other “win the future” priorities will be defended during a summerlong assault on national spending.

His address comes at the headwaters of an economic debate that will likely consume Congress until October, when the 2012 budget is supposed to be in place. Before then, lawmakers will negotiate a contentious measure to raise the national debt limit, with visions of rising red ink and an American default to China acting as a backdrop.

Obama entered the debate yesterday by releasing an economic outline calling on Congress to enact “tough cuts” in next year’s budget. Those reductions and other measures would set the country on a course toward shrinking the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years, Obama said.

His speech at George Washington University provided an alternative to the Republican budget plan released last week by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose effort Obama described as “deeply pessimistic” for proposing a 70 percent cut to clean energy programs, its overhaul to Medicare and reductions to other public programs.

California tosses out solar power plant lawsuit

California’s supreme court refused to consider a lawsuit filed by an influential environmental group seeking to delay construction of a solar plant because it might harm rare plant and animal species.

The state supreme court said it would not review the Sierra Club’s complaint against the Calico Solar Project — one of a string of lawsuits accusing solar power plant projects across the largest U.S. state of harming the environment.

The court offered no explanation. In its complaint, America’s oldest environmental organization argued to the courts that the California Energy Commission had approved the Calico project improperly, failing to take into account potential harm to native flora and fauna.

The commission cheered the ruling, while the Sierra Club said it would wait and see before taking further action. Complicating things, the project had recently changed hands — from original developer NTR’s Tessera Solar to K Road Sun, an arm of a New York-based investment firm.

David Graham-Caso, a spokesman for the environmental group, said the new developers may use different technology that might alter projections of how the giant project could impact the natural habitats of species like the desert tortoise and big-horned sheep. He said the group would keep a close eye on the project’s evolution under new management.

Climate Change Heads to the Supreme Court

Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court hears American Electric Power v. Connecticut, a case that asks whether America’s climate change policy can be designed and managed by the federal courts. The answer should be a resounding no.

Hoping to force congressional action that would severely restrict greenhouse gas emissions, a series of lawsuits alleging “public nuisance” has been brought by various states, interest groups and activists. They claim that electric utilities and other large emitters of carbon dioxide have injured them by causing or contributing to global warming.

The case now before the Supreme Court was originally thrown out by ….

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14 Responses to April 15 News: Clean tech investments top $1 billion; Duke builds largest storage system at wind farm

  1. MarkF says:

    going backwards:

    Pioneer Press

    “Stressing a future need for reliable, affordable power, the Minnesota Senate voted Thursday to lift 4-year-old restrictions on new coal-fired power plants.

    The 42-18 decision would strike a portion of the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 that imposes conditions on new coal plants or on importing electricity from such plants outside the state.

    When the act was approved and signed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty, it was hailed as a path to cleaner, homegrown energy generation. But the chief sponsor of the Senate bill, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said provisions dealing with carbon-dioxide emission limits on plants such as coal have become obstacles to economic growth.”

    right now, neighbour North Dakota is fighting (for the third year in a row) record flooding.

    continue to burn coal = annual flooding.

    therefore

    flooding = economic growth.

    If Minnesota is to prosper, she said businesses and residents must be able to count on the steady, cost-competitive electricity that coal provides.

  2. paulm says:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/04/15/prairie-flooding.html

    Officials worked feverishly Friday to stay on top of some of the worst flood conditions that parts of the Prairies have seen in more than 150 years.
    Experts think the Red River’s water level will be the higher than it was in 2009, which was the second-highest water level on the Red since 1852. It was only

  3. Tom Gray says:

    For the American Wind Energy Association’s take on wind power and energy storage, see http://www.awea.org/learnabout/publications/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=4129 (pdf) – Regards, Tom Gray, Wind Energy Communications Consultant

  4. Mike says:

    Climate and pollution progress at last!

    The Tennessee Valley Authority has agreed to shutter 18 coal-fired boilers in a bid to rein in air pollution

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=one-percent-us-coal-plants-closed-avoid-pollution

    Also this:

    Industry Challenges Study that Natural Gas ‘Fracking’ Adds Excessively to Greenhouse Effect

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=industry-challenges-study-natural-gas-excessively-adds-greenhouse-effect

    I have no idea who is right.

  5. Prokaryotes says:

    Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms kill nine in OK, AR; more severe weather today http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1781

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    Germany’s leaders agree to swift transition to renewable energy

    Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and the heads of Germany’s states agree that the nation should swiftly transition from nuclear to renewables. But the timetable and costs of a nuclear-free future remain uncertain. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,14993443,00.html

  7. Prokaryotes says:

    BREAKING NEWS!

    Scientists Find Link Between Global Warming and Earthquakes

    scientists have for the first time released a study that indicates that man made changes to our climate are also quite probably effecting the movement of tectonic plates around the globe as well. The implications of their research are far ranging as well as frightening:

    “We are showing for the first time that the opposite also is true, that the pattern of climate is then able to affect back in a feedback mechanism the motion of tectonic plates.”

    What few foresaw however, was that changes to our surface climate would impact the movement of the large crustal plates that cause the continents to drift and that form mountain ranges and cause earthquakes. http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/560158/scientists_find_link_between_global_warming_and_earthquakes/

    This the ultimate wake up call for the human species! Hello is there anybody out there to size control of this developing situation?

    We have to stop fossil combustion and start sucking carbon dioxide back from the air, in order to survive as a species!

  8. David B. Benson says:

    Unfortunately the article about the Xtreme battery fails to give its capacity (MWh) just its delivery rate (MW).

  9. Leland Palmer says:

    Regardless of what Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal says, CO2 emissions are a classic public nuisance, and the Supreme Court would be fully justified in issuing a ruling, making fossil fuel corporations liable for greenhouse gas emissions.

    The following facts justify not only civil damages, but also punitive damages, and perhaps even criminal penalties for the largest, most intransigent, and most deceptive entities like Koch and ExxonMobil.

    The total cumulative heating of the earth system from the greenhouse gas side effect of burning a ton of fossil fuels is equal to the heat of combustion of one hundred thousand tons of fossil fuel. It’s this one hundred thousand times heat multiplier effect that justifies a ruling that CO2 emissions are a public nuisance. If the methane hydrates of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf destabilize and send the earth into runaway global warming, the multiplier effect could be millions of times the heat of combustion. So the side effects could outweigh the benefit…by millions of times.

    Climate Progress- Caldeira analysis shows 100,000 times multiplier factor for greenhouse heating vs. heat of combustion

    Yes, of course the Supreme Court should step in- the future of the world is at stake, Congress is intimidated or bought off, and our President is hamstrung by Republican opposition and a deceptive corporate news and entertainment media.

    The founders of our system of government foresaw the need for a third independent and supposedly incorruptible branch of government. We need the Supreme Court now, more than ever.

    Chances are, we will not see an independent Supreme Court. Chances are, we will see more Koch influence. Sotomayor has recused herself, while Thomas and Scalia attend secretive meetings with investors organized by the Koch Brothers:

    Huffington Post Scalia and Thomas attend Koch sponsored event

    Reports that two Supreme Court Justices have attended seminars sponsored by the energy giant and conservative bankroller Koch Industries has sparked a mild debate over judicial ethics.

    On Tuesday evening, the New York Times reported that an upcoming meeting in Palm Springs of “a secretive network of Republican donors” that was being organized by Koch Industries, “the longtime underwriter of libertarian causes.” Buried in the third to last graph was a note that previous guests at such meetings included Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, two of the more conservative members of the bench.

    Will we get the ruling that the world and the general population need?

    No, not likely.

  10. Ziyu says:

    The first article seems to contradict the second article. The first says clean tech investment rose to $1 billion and another says it fell to $31 billion. Can someone explain this?

    [JR: First one is just VC, second is "asset finance, share sales, venture capital and private equity."]

  11. paulm says:

    Germany’s leaders agree to swift transition to renewable energy

    They are getting it. There really is no debate. The reality is we have to switch to renewables. Like now.
    Just like Churchill show all back then that there was only one option. Now we only have one option.
    What we need is a leader to make it so.

  12. Brad Pierce says:

    According to http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/04/algal-fuels-could-cut-oil-imports-17-percent/ ,

    The researchers, who detail their findings in Water Resources Research, analyzed currently available data to determine how much algae can be grown in open, outdoor ponds of fresh water — as is typical — using current tech.

    ….

    Using that model, they say 21 billion gallons of algal oil could be produced domestically. That’s equivalent to 17 percent of the petroleum the United States imported for transportation fuel in 2008.

  13. Vic says:

    The Coala bear.

    “As carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, koalas are going to find that their food gets less nutritious and more toxic.
    Plants use a protein called rubisco to collect carbon dioxide. With more and more carbon dioxide availble, those protein levels are expected to drop.”

    “So that means the nutrient concentration is going to go down in the leaves but at the same time, the toxin concentration is going to go up. We’ve done experiments where we do push up the CO2 concentrations and what happens is the carbon-based defences like tannins increase in concentration and both of these things are bad for koalas.”

    “For about 8 days the temperatures were well and truly above thirty five degrees centigrade and the radiant heat from the ground was just horrific…almost every koala was on the ground, at the base of the tree, just exhausted. We came across a koala and we misted it…and the poor little thing just stuck its claws into the back of my hand to make sure that I wouldn’t take the water away.
    So we think the heatwave killed about a quarter of the Koalas in Gunnedah in a couple of weeks.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3191750.htm