Thursday 18 February 2010

Hydro spend under fire

Hobart Mercury
Monday 15/2/2010 Page: 5

FINANCIAL help from Hydro Tasmania has allowed a wind farm in South Australia to go ahead while a similar project here has stalled. It has been revealed Hydro Tasmania underwrote Roaring 40s Waterloo windfarm in South Australia with joint venture partner TRUEnergy. Meanwhile, the Musselroe wind farm in Tasmania's far northeast has stalled indefinitely because of financing problems. Workers have not been told when, or if, construction will resume.

Liberal energy spokesman Peter Gutwein questioned the priorities of the state's energy generator. "The Government must explain why a Roaring 40s wind farm project in SA was able to be underwritten by Tasmanian GBE Hydro yet the Musselroe wind farm, worth more than $400 million, and a key northern project with hundreds of jobs attached to it, has still been unable to achieve financial close," Mr Gutwein said.

Hydro Tasmania purchased renewable energy certificates (RECs) and hedged electricity prices for the Waterloo project for 10 years to get it off the ground. Since then the market for RECs has dropped, making investment in wind energy uneconomic. Energy Minister David Llewellyn said he would not interfere with the dealings of a private company. He believed the Musselroe project would still be built.

Zero emissions possible - at $40bn a year Climate group sets 10-year target

Monday 15/2/2010 Page: 6

AUSTRALIA could move to 100% renewable energy within a decade if it spent heavily on cutting edge solar thermal and wind technology, according to an analysis released as part of a community bid to redirect the flailing climate policy debate. The shift would require the annual investment of up to $40 billion - roughly 3.5% of national GDP - with the largest chunk going towards solar thermal power plants that used molten-salt heat storage to allow power generation to continue without sunlight. The plan by advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions was outlined at the launch of the Transition Decade, or T10, a grassroots campaign hoping to garner support for dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Pitched as a response to the failure to introduce national and state policies to substantially reduce emissions, T10 won support yesterday from the City of Melbourne, the Australian Greens and Victorian Governor David de Kretser. Launching the campaign, Professor de Kretser said Australia had a responsibility to act. "If every person in the world generated greenhouse gas emissions per person equivalent to those of each Australian today, the levels would quickly exceed those predicted to cause very dangerous global warming," he told more than 1000 people at the Melbourne Town Hall. "The consequences for planet Earth.., would be disastrous."

Under the Beyond Zero Emissions model, concentrated solar thermal plants at 12 sites across the country would meet 60% of national energy demands. They would be supplemented by wind and photovoltaic solar panels, with existing hydroelectricity and biomass from burning crop remains as back-up. Beyond Zero Emissions spokesman Mark Ogge said developments overseas had shown the claims that renewable energy could not provide baseload power had no basis. Spain plans to install enough concentrated solar thermal in the next three years to power half of Victoria, with capacity six times greater than this in development.

Mr Ogge conceded the estimated investment was huge, but said it should not seen as just a cost. "All these power plants pay themselves off over their lifetime," he said. "When you finish we've got a brand new renewable energy system that is going to last 50 years at least and have no fuel costs." Greens climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne said the government and opposition were too invested in "business-as-usual" politics to support the change needed to combat climate change.

Prince Minister Kevin Rudd said the government was continuing to negotiate with all parties in a bid to have the scheme passed. He again alluded to a possible double dissolution if the bill was defeated. "Whenever the next election is held, and whatever form that election takes, both emissions trading and action on climate change will be front and centre," Mr Rudd told Network Ten's Meet the Press.

Power plants will generate 2000 jobs

Weekend Australian
Saturday 13/2/2010 Page: 5

THOUSANDS of engineering and construction jobs may be generated in western Victoria this decade as the Portland-Warrnambool district becomes a new eastern seaboard hub for power supply and a key contributor to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Energy says an energy revolution is under way in the state. It estimates that demand growth will require 6000MW of new power plants by 2030, with the requirement going up to 12,000MW if the four existing brown coal-fired generators in the Latrobe Valley have to be replaced to meet greenhouse requirements.

VECCI chief executive Wayne Kayler-Thomson says the capital cost of new power stations will lie between $18 billion and $36bn. He also predicts that up to $10bn will be spent on transmission networks to move electricity from generators to the market and another $5bn m ay be required to upgrade natural gas supply capacity. While the political focus over the next few years will be on the fate of the Latrobe Valley coal burning plants in eastern Victoria - which currently meet 85% of the state's power needs most development attention will be on the other side of the state.

Three gas-fired developments are proposed in southwest Victoria. Origin Energy has begun building a $640 million peaking power plant, with a capacity of 550MW, near Mortlake and says it will consider doubling its size. The first phase is due to be commissioned next summer and the project overall could cost $1.5bn. The critical need for peaking capacity in Victoria was highlighted in January's heatwave when demand soared to more than 8000MW compared with a normal day-today requirement of 5700MW.

Santos is pursuing feasibility studies on an $800 million gasfired baseload power station at Orford and says it will consider extending the development to 1500MW in three stages. AGL Energy is weighing up building a 500MW gas peaking plant near Koroit and says it could be extended to 850MW. These developments can provide more than 2000 construction j obs, the firms say. Meanwhile the renewable energy industry sees southwest Victoria as a major wind energy hub for eastern Australia. Fortythree projects are under construction, in planning stages or mooted for the area. If all are built, they will add more than 4000MW to Victoria's generation capacity and cost more than $7bn.

State Energy Minister Peter Batehelor says $2bn in renewable investment is under way to build 1836MW of wind generation, creating more than 2000 construction jobs. However, wind investment is stalled nationally because of industry concerns about the federal government's renewable energy target, the RET's new provisions to support solar heaters and hot water pumps having caused a large slump in the value of the underpinning generation certificates.

AGL Energy, which is planning the biggest development, an $850m windfarm at Macarthur near Portland, able to provide enough energy to power Geelong, has said it will not proceed until the RET problems are resolved. Two other new generation technologies may be available in western Victoria. The federal government has contributed $66.4m to an ocean energy demonstration project off Portland and the state government is supporting geothermal exploration in the area. Both, if commercially viable, could provide zero emission baseload power.

Energy project tackles storage

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 13/2/2010 Page: 80

A US company plans to dig underground caverns that it hopes to fill with compressed air, to generate electricity by turning a turbine. This could solve one of the most vexing problems facing the cleanenergy industry - how to store power. Under a barren patch of Utah desert, a private equity group is bankrolling the project to hollow out a series of energy storage vaults from a massive salt deposit a mile (1.6km) underground. It promises to make a repository for storing energy and, in effect, creating a giant subterranean battery.

Energy storage is catching on as a way to make wind and solar energy more useful. The lack of storage is one of the things holding back clean energy, say scientists for Sandia National Laboratories' energy systems group in Albuquerque. The only commercial scale, compressed-air power plants are in McIntosh, Alabama, and Bremen, Germany. Other projects are under development in Norton, Ohio, and Ankeny, Iowa.

A new wire twist on silicon solar cells

Feb 14, 2010

CHICAGO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S, researchers have devised a way to make flexible solar cells with silicon wires that use just 1% of the material needed to make conventional solar cells. The eventual hope is to make thin, light solar cells that could be incorporated into clothing, for instance but the immediate benefit is cheaper and easier-to-install solar panels, the researchers said.

The new material, reported on Sunday in Nature Materials, uses conventional silicon configured into micron-sized wires (a micron is one-millionth of a meter) instead of brittle wafers and encases them in a flexible polymer that can be rolled or bent. "The idea is it would be lower cost and easier to work with by being more flexible than conventional silicon solar cells," Michael Kelzenberg of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who worked on the study, said in a telephone interview. solar cells, which convert solar energy into electricity, are in high demand because of higher oil prices and concerns over climate change.

Many companies, including Japanese consumer electronics maker Sharp Corp and Germany's Q-Cells SE, are making thin-film solar cells using organic materials such as polymers, but they typically are less efficient at converting solar energy into electricity than conventional cells using silicon. The study is among the latest to combine the flexibility of the new organic or carbon-containing films with the high efficiency of silicon, which is heavy and stiff.

Kelzenberg said the material uses about 1/100th as much silicon per cell area as a silicon wafer. "It is potentially a route to bypass many of the costs associated with producing solar cells," he said. He said a big problem with working with silicon wafers is they are fragile. More testing is needed but Kelzenberg said the material would be about 15% to 20% efficient, about the same level as solar cells used on roofs to heat homes.

A similar effort is under way in the lab of John Rogers, a professor of materials science at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Campaign, who is working on ways to make inorganic materials more flexible. While many companies are investing in organic solar cells - - basically materials like plastic that contain carbon - - Rogers said these materials have relatively low performance, less long-term reliability and an unproven cost structure. "We like the inorganics - - trying to adapt them and use them in non-standard ways," Rogers said in a telephone interview.

Last year, his team reported on a new manufacturing process that creates thin arrays of solar cells that are flexible enough to be rolled around a pencil and transparent enough to be used to tint windows on buildings or cars. "We can make them stretch like a rubber band or bendable like a sheet of plastic," he said. He is founder of a start-up semiconductor company called Semprius Inc in Durham, North Carolina, that last month announced a joint effort with Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) to develop large systems for utility-scale power generation. "The same technology they are using to make these rigid utility-scale modules could be used for flexible devices as well," he said. Rogers said that the company has funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA.

The Australian connection at Amity university
14 Feb 2010

'Amity Indo-Australian Commerce Science and Technology Foundation', the launch of which was recently announced at the Amity campus, Noida, will work in the areas of commerce, science and technology and thereby, attempt to bring credit to both the countries. Amity Institute of Renewable and Alternative Energy organised a two day Indo-Australian Solar Energy Workshop from February 09-10, 2010 at Amity University Campus, Noida. Supported by Department of Science and Technology, Delhi, the workshop witnessed speakers and delegates from IITs of Chennai, Kanpur, Guwahati and Mumbai. The workshop was inaugurated by Lachan Strahan, deputy high commissioner, Australia.

In his inaugural address Ashok K Chauhan, founder president, Amity Universe promised that the projects developed out of the discussions and deliberations during the two day workshop would be commercially utilised. Chauhan formally announced the launch of the Amity Indo-Australian commerce, science and technology foundation.

Strahan said: "Challenge before us, as a planet and as a race is to find a living which is in harmony with the planet. I agree that IT has opened up wonderful new ways of communication but there is no substitute for coming together and meeting each other face to face. It's been two months that Copenhagen Conference took place where the world community grappled with the challenge of climate change. We all acknowledge that it was a difficult conference and agreement to so many issues was not reached."

Talking about the solution towards the problem, Strahan added, "We also know that technology must be a part of the solution to climate change; we must find ways of developing cleaner sources of energy. solar energy must be a part of that solution.The two Governments-Indian and Australian have recognized the fundamental importance of solar energy. India has its own solar energy mission; it has sets its ambitious targets for solar energy generation.

Australian Government has set its own renewable energy targets ie 20% by 2020. This conference will strengthen the expanding relationship between India and Australia" Most of the speakers pointed out on common thing and important fact that India and Australia are blessed with abundant sun, which should be utilised to the fullest extent.

Prahlada, chief controller, DRDO said: "Both the countries have abundant sun to play with. Normally, DRDO deals with missiles, aircrafts, torpedoes etc but off late, we have started looking at solar energy for various reasons, for example, we do develop unmanned air vehicles but now we are talking about solar energyed unmanned air vehicles which can keep roaring for days and days. The need of the hour is low cost, low weight solar batteries made of plastic or polymer. DRDO is encouraging institutes and students to carry on research in this area and in next ten years lot of opportunities exist for this in Solar Energy sector."

V K Jain, director, Amity Institute of Renewable and Alternative Energy while apprising the gathering about the proceedings of the workshop, said: "India is blessed with 300 sunny days in a year, which means over 5, 000 trillion kWs of solar energy in a year but the cost of solar energy needs to be reduced to make it a viable source of energy". The topics discussed during the workshop were - "High Efficiency Flexible Solar Cells", "Dye Sensitized Solar Cells", " Solar Thermal Systems", " Phase Change Thermal Storage for Solar Application" and the like.

Amity's Turkish Connection
The President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, visited the campus in Noida, and addressed a cross section of people, including, students, faculty members of Amity and dignitaries from Corporate and educational sector. The University conferred a doctorate degree on the President. Ashok K Chauhan, founder president, Amity University and Atul Chauhan, chancellor, Amity University, honored the President of Turkey with a Doctorate Degree in Philosophy along with a citation.

Expressing his gratitude on being conferred with the degree, Turkish President, said: "it gives me profound pleasure to be in Amity University and address the students. I have special interest in the centers of higher education, they are the future of our world and are means to reach lasting peace, security and prosperity."

Kia introduces concept hybrid vehicle that utilizes solar energy
February 12, 2010

Kia is entering the world of green energy with one of its newest plug-in hybrid concept vehicles, which features a range of 746 miles and utilizes solar energy for some of its smaller functions. The Kia Ray, which was debuted Thursday at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show, is one of Kia Motors America's first forays into hybrid vehicles that will offer an array of green technologies designed to reduce its carbon footprint compared to more conventional vehicles.

In addition to its plug-in capabilities that can boost the 153-horsepower engine's fuel economy to 202 miles-per-gallon, the car also features solar cells that are located in the vehicle's glass on its roof. When the car is parked, the cells generate a small charge of solar energy to operate cooling fans to reduce the vehicle's interior temperature.

"It is important to imagine what people will want in the future from a green perspective early in the design process, because people want to reduce their carbon footprint without driving carbon copies," said Peter Schreyer, chief design officer, Kia Motors Corporation. Nano-laminate films and other cooling materials on the vehicle's windows are also designed to reduce heat in the interior, which in turn will reduce the use of air conditioning and the release of greenhouse gases.

Monday 15 February 2010

Sweden to build world's biggest wave power plant
12 February 2010

Swedish energy company Seabased Industry and Finnish power giant Fortum got one step closer to build the world's biggest wave power plant on the Swedish west coast as the Swedish Energy Agency approved an 14-million-euro investment grant. The planned full-scale wave power project is to be located near Smögen in the municipality of Sotenäs, southwest Sweden. Up to 500 units are to be interconnected in the plant and installed power will be approximately 10 MW. The plant will be the biggest of its kind in the world, the Swedish company said in a statement.

"The demonstration plant gives us, or the first time in full scale, the possibility to show that wave power can became a reliable and commercially interesting energy source", Billy Johansson, chief executive officer of Seabased Industry. The agency will contribute 14 million euro (139 million kronor) of the total investment of approximately 25 million euro. The Swedish Energy Agency has been instructed by the Government to support and stimulate the development of commercially viable renewable energy production through investment support.

Wave and tidal technologies get £12m boost
11th February 2010

The Government-backed Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has announced that £12 million will be up for grabs this year to help innovative businesses develop the wave and tidal power technologies of the future. The announcement comes just as SeaGen, the prototype tidal power energy turbine designed and deployed by Marine Current Turbines Ltd (MCT) has become the first tidal power current or wave energy system in the world to exceed 1,000 hours of operation. MCT said yesterday that the 1,000 hour milestone means that the company is well on the way deploying the UK's first tidal power farm within the next two years. The funding from TSB is designed to further exploit the potential of marine energy and comes in the form of two competitions.

Competitive with other renewable energy solutions
TSB chief executive Iain Gray, explained why the funding is needed: "To fully realise the marine energy potential in the UK, there are a number of technological challenges that must still be tackled, ranging from proving which technological solutions will most successfully harness marine energy, to reducing the cost of the energy produced to make the technology competitive with other renewable energy solutions." The first competition, which opens in March with applications due in by April 29, offers a total of £9 million, split between two strands.

The first of these is designed to support the enhancement of existing devices. This would cover improving the reliability and power capture of full-scale devices; the development of second generation existing devices that improve survivability and performance and reduce the cost of energy; and applied research and experimental development for devices that are quarter size or larger. The second strand will support 'novel concept devices' that have already undergone desk-based evaluation and where there is evidence to indicate that the concept has long term commercial prospects.

TSB competition not limited to wave and tidal devices
A spokesperson for the TSB confirmed that the competition is not limited solely to wave and tidal power stream device manufacturers, but is likely to include collaborations designed to develop the supply chain and skills necessary for the future deployment of these technologies. So a wide range of businesses could be eligible for a share of the funding – from those that develop materials and coatings or cables and undersea equipment to utility companies and environmental impact specialists. Of the £9 million available, £2 million is being provided by the South West Regional Development Agency. To qualify for this money, at least one partner involved in the project must be based in South West England.

Strong consideration to proposals that will us Wave Hub
"Strong consideration" will also be given to proposals that include innovative use of the consented area of seabed at the Wave Hub site in Cornwall. This is the South West RDA's £42 million flagship marine renewables project designed to create a grid-connected 'socket' on the seabed, to which arrays of wave energy conversion devices can be connected and tested.

"We are delighted to be investing in this new competition with the Technology Strategy Board. It will accelerate the pace of marine renewables development in the UK, and complement the significant investment the South West RDA is making in the sector through our investments in Wave Hub and marine energy research," said Stephen Peacock, the South West RDA's executive director of enterprise and innovation. The second TSB competition, due to open in September with a deadline for applications of October 21, is aimed at getting pre-commercial full scale devices installed and operating in the sea and is specifically aimed at businesses that are already working towards full scale deployment of their technology.

SeaGen developer could be eligible for funding
Companies like MCT, which got a share of the Carbon Trust's Marine Renewable Proving Fund (MRPF) announced earlier this month, are eligible for the competitions, but their applications must be designed to complement, not replicate, developments for which they have won MRPF support. MCT's 1.2 MW SeaGen tidal power current turbine, situated in n Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough, claims to be the largest MW scale grid-connected marine renewable energy system in the world and has achieved a capacity factor of 66 per cent, delivering 800 MW hours into the National Grid so far.

The company, is now preparing SeaGen for more intensive operation and hopes to gain consent for continuous '24/7' operation before the summer. "SeaGen is operating as it was designed to do. Crucially, the operational experience and data that we are gaining every day is hugely valuable as we work towards deploying the UK's first tidal power farm within the next two years," said Martin Wright, managing director of MCT. "SeaGen is a commercial scale prototype and already we are incorporating into the design of the next machines subtle changes to improve maintainability and reliability which are vital for commercial generation."

Solar research goes thermal - Researchers have proposed ideas to produce liquid fuels and heat.

From solar energyed vehicles to solar gasifiers, students and faculty at the University of Minnesota have participated in more than a dozen research projects as part of an effort to develop new methods of using solar energy as a renewable resource. But more recently, researchers have proposed ideas that utilize solar thermal processes to produce liquid fuels and heat.

With several projects funded by the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment and the U.S. Department of Energy, professors and graduate students are collaborating to conduct research that has the potential to assist in making the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, said mechanical engineering professor Jane Davidson. Davidson serves as the principal investigator for a large number of the research projects.

Currently, solar energy can be acquired through towers, satellite-like dishes and parabolic troughs - large structures that use reflective material like mirrors to absorb solar energy. Several research groups have also been focusing on thermal solar processes to produce energy sources. One group of graduate students, accompanied by professors, are researching ways to collect solar energy, said Luke Venstrom, a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Mechanical engineering graduate student Brandon Hathaway's area of focus uses solar energy to heat and convert cellulosic biofuel feedstock, like prairie grass, to energy in a gasification process. According to Hathaway, solar energy reduces the amount of feedstock combusted in the process and, in effect, provides a higher quantity of energy that can be used to produce liquid fuels such as synthetic gasoline. Since last summer, University professor Andreas Stein has been working on developing a solar thermal process that involves converting carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, which could then form liquid fuels such as methanol.

Stein said that because of its stability rate, high temperatures are required to break down carbon dioxide. However, in order to retain the materials used, researchers are attempting to use a metal oxide that will allow the carbon dioxide to be converted at a lower temperature while simultaneously using solar energy. Stein stressed that the efficiency of solar thermal processes is "much higher" than solar electric processes.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Report blasts Abbott climate plan - Policy would cost twice as much

Wednesday 10/2/2010 Page: 13

THE Coalition's climate change policy would cost taxpayers more than twice as much as the government's emissions trading scheme, an analysis has found. A report by carbon market analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance said the government's scheme would cost the budget $1.5 billion over the first four years - less than the $3.4 billion of the emissions reduction fund proposed by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. It said the Coalitions claim that the government scheme would cost $40.6 billion was based on a "strange logic" that confused its market value with its cost to taxpayers. The opposition needed "to come up with something better and get the numbers right", it said.

It said Mr Abbott's proposal - allowing businesses and farmers to apply to have the government pay for their greenhouse gas emissions cuts from a fund eventually worth $1 billion a year - failed on three fronts: it was not the cheapest way to cut emissions, could not accurately limit national emissions and was a short-term option only. The government's scheme "has limitations", but was considered more cost effective because it was a market-based system with penalties to force businesses to find the cheapest cuts. "It is not our place to take sides in politics, but we do question the willingness of taxpayers to fund the entire cost of reducing emissions under [the opposition's proposals]," the report said.

The criticisms of the opposition plan echo those of former leader Malcolm Turnbull, who has vowed to cross the floor to vote for the government's scheme. But the analysis does not cover the Coalitions main attack on the government scheme - that it is a "great big tax on everything" that will be felt through increased food and electricity bills. The government says 92% of households will be at least partially compensated.

The opposition plan has been backed by energy company TRUEnergy, which runs the Yallourn brown coal-fired power station. TRUEnergy managing director Richard Mclndoe said it supported emissions trading, but not the scheme proposed by the government and not before a substantial global climate deal. He said the opposition's "direct-action" policy could lead to coal-fired power stations closing within a decade if the owners' successfully applied to the emissions fund.

Clean energy group the Alternative Technology Association criticised the Coalition plan as a potential killer of large-scale renewable energy. The opposition proposal includes an additional $1000 rebate for rooftop solar panels and solar hot water systems. But the association's Damien Moyse said incentives for household solar systems connected to the government's renewable energy target were already stopping large-scale wind and solar projects from going ahead. He said the Coalition proposal would exacerbate the problem and "put the final nail in the renewable energy industry's coffin'.

Australia not living up to solar potential
Feb. 9, 2010

SYDNEY, Feb. 9 (UPI) - - Australia missed the opportunity to become a pioneer in solar energy, experts say. Australia Solar Energy Society Chairman John Grimes says government decisions to keep Australia locked into coal-fired power killed its early potential to build a leading solar industry, according to an article in the Brisbane Courier-Mail. As early as 1974, a summary of global solar research recognized Australia for the University of Queensland's research, notably its study on large-scale solar electricity generation. "Our golden opportunity was in the '70s," Grimes told the newspaper. "We led all solar fields but we squandered it."

Grimes said Australia is posed to remain the "sleeping Goliath" of solar energy unless the government "wakes up." He said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government, by its actions, indicates it aims to keep Australia locked into using coal and gas for the vast bulk of electricity and to protect its coal and gas exports at the expense of new clean energy Grimes said Energy Minister Martin Ferguson is clearly no fan of solar and is focused on supporting coal by pushing unproven "clean coal" technology.

Coal-fired power stations, known for high carbon dioxide emissions, now generate about 80% of Australia's electricity. Australia surpasses the United States as the world's biggest per capita carbon emitter. In May Australia announced its $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program, which includes four solar thermal and solar photovoltaic installations totaling 1,000 MWs in a single location. The program also allocated several billion to clean coal projects. While the clean coal funding is in the final stages of being allocated, the government has only started the first stage of the process for the solar program.

But the Solar Flagship program "is shaping up to be a failure," Matthew Wright, executive director of clean-energy lobby group Beyond Zero Emissions, said in a news release. Its guidelines are skewed to favor 1980s-style daytime-only solar plants rather than the newer standard of "base load" solar thermal storage plants now being built in Europe and the United States, said Wright. "Australia has one of the best solar resources in the world. We have some of the best researchers, too. Yet the Rudd government remains in thrall to the coal lobby, investing in dead-end fantasies like clean coal while other countries develop their solar thermal expertise and manufacturing," said Wright.

Grimes of the Australia Solar Energy Society noted the country's solar sector has experienced wave after wave of a boom approach characterized by an administration giving support, only to be followed by an administration that would pull funding. He pointed to Germany's "strategic decision" to move into solar, creating 148,000 jobs in the sector and pivoting itself to one of the world's largest solar equipment manufacturers. And Spain's "coherent policy approach" means it now has the largest solar energy generation capacity in the world, Grimes said. Its government is supporting solar thermal power with a serious feed-in tariff for large-scale plants. "We (Australia) should do the same," he said.

German coalition agrees to delay solar cuts
Feb 9, 2010

BERLIN, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Germany's ruling coalition has agreed to delay cuts in solar energy incentives by two months, parliamentary officials said on Tuesday, easing pressure on solar companies so they will have more time to sell components. Support for new rooftop solar installations will be cut by 16% from June 1, said Hans-Peter Friedrich, parliamentary group leader for the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). The original plan was to introduce the cuts on April 1.

Solar stocks around the globe gained on the news, with shares of Q-Cells, SolarWorld, FirstSolar, SunTech, SMA Solar and Yingli up 1.8 to 4.4%. "It would certainly be positive for the sector if that was the case. The sector would be able to benefit from stronger growth in April, May and June - - a strong seasonal time for installations in Germany," said Ardour Capital analyst Adam Krop. "It's positive, but still the most important thing is that it's yet another proposal," Krop added.

Critics of the cuts, including members of Germany's ruling parties, have said they could harm the expansion of photovoltaic technology in the world's largest solar market. About half of the world's solar electricity is produced in Germany. The CSU is one of three parties in Merkel's centre-right coalition with the CDU and the Free Democrats, and had called for a delay in the cut to solar incentives. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to pass a law without CSU support.

Jesse Pichel, solar analyst at PiperJaffray, said a delay to the cuts could add modestly to his forecasts for solar makers' profits, but said the reductions could still prompt Germany's manufacturers to seek to put up barriers to imports. "We think the German companies are going to be hard pressed to compete under the cost structure required," he said in an email.

Solar Fits
The so-called feed-in tariffs - - prices utilities are obliged to pay to generators of renewable energy - - are the sector's lifeline as long as grid-parity, the point at which renewables cost the same as fossil fuel-based power, has not been reached. Global solar stocks plunged in January when it emerged that the German government was planning to make additional cuts to the feed-in tariffs, arguing the industry is overly subsidised and needed to become competitive much faster.

Friedrich said the coalition still wanted to cut the feed-in tariff for open field solar systems by 15% from July 1. The coalition needs to agree final details on solar cuts, in particular on how to reduce subsidies for larger farm land installations, before sending the bill through parliament.

Arava Power Will Invest $535 Million in 15 Israeli Solar Fields
February 08, 2010

Arava Power Co., an Israeli solar company, said it signed agreements to invest 2 billion shekels ($535 million) to build 15 solar fields in Israel. The fields will produce a total of 100 MWs of solar energy using photovoltaic technology, the company, based in Eilat near the country's southern tip, said in a press release yesterday. Siemens AG, Europe's largest engineering company, said on Aug. 28 it invested $15 million for a 40% stake in Arava Power, which runs a solar energy plant at Kibbutz Ketura north of Eilat. Munich-based Siemens on Oct. 15 said it agreed to buy Israeli solar thermal power company Solel Solar Systems Solar Systems for about $418 million.