Renewable Energy

  1. Tata, Origin and Supraco jointly win geothermal contract – Recharge News

  2. Iberdrola Wins 258 MW Contract for 9 Brazilian Wind Farms – RenewableEnergyWorld

  3. JDSU Enters The CPV Market – SolarFeeds

  4. Exelon takes Advantage of 2010 Wind Energy Downturn to Acquire Deere Wind Assets on the Cheap

  5. Is Polysilicon and Wafer Supply Tightness the Reason for New Long Term Contracts being Signed by Downstream

  6. Giant Chinese State Owned Utilities expectedly Win most of Solar Projects with Loss Making Bids

Energy Efficiency and Smart Grid

  1. Green Industry in India – Solar Energy runs into Debt Hurdle even as Government plans Smart Meter Rollout

  2. Cisco and Itron team up to build “definitive” smart grid platform – BusinessGreen

Energy Storage

  1. Japan joins EU and USA in raising concerns over Chinese Muscle Flexing of its Monopoly on Rare Earth Minerals

Climate Change

  1. Facebook Responds to Greenpeace’s Coal Criticism – GigaOm

Government Policy

  1. Koch brothers jump into Prop 23 fight – Grist

  2. After CSI,California shows Green Leadership again with an innovative Feed in Tariff-Reverse Auction Subsidy Scheme

Moser Baer Does not have a Great Track Record

Blackstone Group has made a $300 million investment in Moser Baer Projects which is a private unlisted subsidiary of Moser Baer.Note Moser Baer is one of the biggest optical disk players in the world and has been constantly churning out losses in the last 2-3 years.It made a huge bet on Solar Energy in 2008 investing haphazardly into all sorts of technology and different parts of the Supply China.Can’t say the venture proved to much of a success as it continues to bleed red ink.Its was one of the earliest customers of Applied Materials SunFab Amorphous Silicon Thin Film Equipment.That Division has been closed and Moser Baer’s investment has been written off as well.It also invested in a small polysilicon producer which also closed down.With the Chinese module makers giving even the top US and European companies a run of the money,Moser Baer has found it difficult to compete on the world stage.It has been given a new lease of life by India’s ambitious Solar Energy Mission.The domestic content requirement will give some breathing space to Moser Baer’s Solar Division.

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Moser Baer  started a new Electricity Power Development company with ambitious  plans.It is investing in setting up 4000 MW of coal plants and 1000 MW of assorted Hydro and Solar Plants.This company also does consultancy and coal mining according to its website.Now Blackstone has decided to gamble on India’s Power Deficit Story by investing $300 million for an undisclosed stake in the company.With investment plans of $6.5 billion and parent company sinking under loads of debt,Moser Baer Projects desperately needed equity which has been provided by Blackstone.Its previous track record in Solar and Optical Media does not inspire a lot of confidence.But India’s 8-9% Growth Rate is like a Rising Tide which will lift all sorts of Boats.Blackstone is perhaps gambling more on that rather than on Moser Baer.

Blackstone to invest $300 mn in Moser Baer Projects – LiveMint

US private equity firm Blackstone Group has agreed to invest $300 million, or Rs1,350 crore, in unlisted energy firm Moser Baer Projects Pvt Ltd, the two companies said on Wednesday. Blackstone will pick up a “significant minority stake” in Moser Baer Projects, Blackstone India chief Akhil Gupta told a news conference.

Last month, Blackstone had agreed to invest $59 million for a 12.5% stake in power producer Monnet Power Company Ltd, a wholly owned unit of India’s Monnet Ispat & Energy.

Moser Baer Projects needs to spend Rs30,000 crore to build 5000 mw power plants, comprising 4000 mw of thermal, 500 mw of hydel and 500 mw of solar, by 2016, chief financial officer Sushil Bhagat said.

France has very low percentage of its energy mix being generated by non-nuclear Green Energy forms as most of its power is derived from Nuclear Energy.The low cost of abudant nuclear power has made France relatively immune from the Energy Insecurity faced by the rest of Europe.While Germany and Spain have installed large amounts of solar and wind energy,France remains a laggard in this respect.Unlike the other EU heavyweights,it has few companies in the field of Green Energy due to lack of a vigourous domestic market.

France to offer Euro 1.35 Billion for Green Industry over next 5 years

France has decided to offer Euro 1.35 Billion in loans and grants for development of Green Technology over the next 5 year.190 million Euros will be offered in 2010 with 290 million Euros each over the next 4 years.This plan will invite applications from companies who can help France achieve its Green Roadmap.”Demonstrateurs energies renouvelables et chimie verte” as the program is known is copied from similar programs being implemented in the rest of Europe and the USA.Earlier France had passed two major environmental laws Grenelle 1 and 2 to help in climate change mitigation.

France Opens 1.35 Billion-Euro Renewable Energy Funding Plan – Bloomberg

The French government has opened a program aimed at giving 1.35 billion euros ($1.75 billion) in financial support to the renewable energy and biofuel-chemistry technologies by 2014.The Environment and Energy Management Agency’s program is the first of several sustainable development-related plans set out in the country’s future investments bill passed in March. It was detailed on Aug. 8 in France’s official bulletin of new regulations, a spokeswoman for the agency said by e-mail.

The renewables program, known as demonstrateurs energies renouvelables et chimie verte, will allocate 450 million euros in subsidies and 900 million euros in loans. Funds will go to industries including solar, marine, geothermal, carbon capture and “green chemistry” for biofuels, the spokeswoman said.

Applied Materials has finally shut down its SunFab Thin Film division after continuous losses in the last couple of years.The Solar Thin Film Technology has seen a torrid few quarters as falling polysilicon prices have destroyed many of the thin film business models.Even companies with big pockets like Masdar have given up on their thin film ambitions.Solyndra the CIGs media posterboy was also forced to call off its IPO as it continues to make losses with costs too high.Crystalline silicon technology has seen its price crash by more than 50% in the last 2 years as raw material polysilicon prices fell from a high of $400/kg to $50/kg .Thin film companies which had built their plants in the days of severe polysilicon shortage suddenly found the environment completely changed.

AMAT had won huge orders for SunFab turnkey line in 2008

Before the Global Financial Crisis and the crash of the solar market,Applied Material’s had won huge Gigawatt scale orders for its turnkey Sunfab a-Si equipment.AMAT won customers like Moser Baer,Signet Solar,Q-Cells,Suntech etc.It looked like Applied Materials was going to be a solar equipment leader just like it was the biggest semiconductor equipment company.However things soured for Applied Material customers as one by one they wrote off their investment.Q-Cells ,Suntech and Signet have officially and unoffically given up their amorphous Silicon plans.Other smaller customers also will have no choice but to shut down their AMAT fitted plants as well.

SunFab had a difficult last few quarters

Applied Materials had already shifted its workers and technology research to China this year after firing many workers in the United States.With little hopes of making its SunFab equipment economically feasible,AMAT took the right decision to euthanize its Thin Film Technology line.AMAT still has a big crystalline silicon equipment division which makes wire saws and deposition equipment.It will look to focus on c-Si technology and LED Lighting .The shutting down of the thin film line will lead to a ~$425 million charge off besides layoffs for 500 workers.Amorphous Silicon has been facing tough times with Sharp the only player showing reasonable traction in this space.However its cost and efficiency are not known.

Applied Materials Announces Restructuring of Energy and Environmental Solutions Segment – Applied Materials

Applied Materials, Inc. (Nasdaq:AMAT) today announced plans to restructure its Energy and Environmental Solutions (EES) segment to put a primary emphasis on opportunities in crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar and advanced energy, including light emitting diode (LED) technology. Upon completion of the restructuring plan, annual operating expenses are expected to decrease by at least $100 million on an annualized basis. The restructuring plan is intended to make EES a profitable segment in fiscal year 2011.

As part of the restructuring, Applied will discontinue sales to new customers of its SunFab™ fully-integrated lines for manufacturing thin film solar panels and will offer individual tools for sale to thin film solar manufacturers, including chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and physical vapor deposition (PVD) equipment. R&D efforts to improve thin film panel efficiency and high-productivity deposition will continue. The company will support existing SunFab customers with services, upgrades and capacity increases through its Applied Global Services segment. Applied’s solar R&D center in Xi’an, China will concentrate on advancing its c-Si solar and other technologies.

The cost of implementing the EES restructuring plan is expected to be in the range of approximately $375 million to $425 million, or $0.18 to $0.21 per share, which will be reported as cost of products sold and restructuring and asset impairments in the company’s consolidated statements of operations for the third quarter of fiscal 2010. As part of the total pre-tax cost, Applied anticipates that it will record: (i) inventory charges of up to $240 million; (ii) equipment and intangible assets impairment charges of up to $95 million; (iii) employee severance of up to $50 million; and (iv) other obligations of up to $40 million. This action is expected to impact between 400 to 500 positions globally. A number of affected employees may transfer to other groups or functions within the company. Cash expenditures related to these charges are expected to be no more than $80 million. In addition to the charges under the EES plan, the company will record a favorable adjustment of approximately $20 million to the restructuring plan previously announced on November 11, 2009 due to changes in business requirements.

Green Energy has increasingly become mainstream rather than a niche category supported by some environmental activists and hippies.This is proved by the fact that almost half of the Energy Capacity installed in 2009 in the developed world came from Renewable Energy Sources.According to a REN21 report, Europe and US saw more Renewable Energy installations in 2009 than Fossil Fuel Energy Installations.China was not far behind installing a huge 14 GW of Wind Capacity accounting for almost 1/3rd of the total 38 GW of Wind Capacity installed in 2009.According to the REN report a total of 80 GW of Renewable Energy Capacity was installed in 2009 out of the 160 GW of total worldwide newly installed capacity.Solar saw the sharpest  growth at 53% while Wind was not far behind at 32% growth.The massive growth in Green Energy despite the Global Financial Crisis and the failure of the Copenhagen failure,shows the huge momentum behind Clean Energy

Reasons behind Clean Energy Growth

The main reasons behind this huge growth can be listed as follows

  1. The decreasing costs of Renewable Energy and increasing costs of Fossil Fuels.While Hydro power and Wind power are near to the grid costs of electricity,other forms like Solar Energy are also fast reaching Grid Parity
  2. The opposition towards Dirty Energy Plants like Coal and Oil has made it difficult to get environment clearances for these projects even in developing countries like India
  3. Support for Green amongst the European nations has made this region as the prime driver.The 20% Renewable Energy Target by 2020 is forcing power utilities to build Clean Energy Plants.
  4. Energy Security is also playing an important role as Europe faces erratic Gas Supply from Russia and USA faces volatile Middle East Oil Supply

Despite the failure of a global agreement on Climate Change,most government are increasingly adopting renewable energy targets which range from 5-30% of their energy generation.Support for Clean Energy through government stimulus programs has played a vital role during 2009 when private capital sources dried up.Even poor and developing countries in Asia are realizing the importance of Renewable Energy and Asia should soon surpass Europe as the centre of Clean Energy growth.

Global Renewable Capacity Continues to Grow in 2009, Fueled by Policy and Ongoing Investment – REN21

The year 2009 was unprecedented in the history of renewable energy, despite the headwinds posed by the global financial crisis, lower oil prices, and slow progress with climate policy. Indeed, as other economic sectors declined around the world, existing renewable capacity continued to grow at rates close to those in previous years, including grid-connected solar PV (53 %), wind power (32 %), solar hot water/heating (21 %), geothermal power (4 %), and hydropower (3 %). Annual production of ethanol and biodiesel increased 10 % and 9 %, respectively, despite layoffs and ethanol plant closures in the United States and Brazil.

European Power Utilities are increasingly looking towards private capital in order to fund their renewable energy projects.The European Union has a target of generating 20% of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2020.With most of the European countries facing budgetary and fiscal problems,Electricity utilities in Europe need to look for other sources of fund in order to meet the EU targets.Renewable Energy Generation based on Solar and Wind Energy typically requires large upfront capital costs with low operations and maintenance costs.This is unlike fossil fuel and hydro based power plants which require less capital upfront but more fuel and operations cost in the latter years.The ambitious offshore wind projects off the United Kingdom and the Desertec project in North Africa will require massive amounts of funding.

Italy utility Enel is proposing to IPO its renewable unit this year in order to lower its massive Euro 51 billion debt burden and raise capital for further renewable energy projects.Note Italy has one of the highest electricity rates in the world due to a lack of oil and mineral resources and imports most of its power.German utility E.ON is looking to partner with Abu Dhabi renewable energy arm Masdar to build more renewable energy projects.Note Masdar already has a solar thin film plant in Germany though it is facing problems.E.ON is going to invest a massive $10 billion in Green Energy projects over the next 5 years.

E.ON Says Utilities Need Financial Partners for Wind, Solar – Bloomberg

E.ON AG, Germany’s largest power company, and European competitors need financial support from investors and partners to reach their renewable energy targets, said Frank Mastiaux, who heads the company’s renewable division.E.ON may expand cooperation with Masdar, the $22 billion clean technology venture set up by Abu Dhabi, Mastiaux said yesterday in an interview in Duesseldorf, Germany. E.ON aims to increase the power it generates from renewable sources to 36 percent in 2030 from 13 percent in 2008.The German utility is investing 8 billion euros ($10 billion) in the five years through 2012 on wind parks and to a lesser degree on solar energy and biogas projects. Expanding at a faster pace is “technically feasible” and E.ON is assessing the price of carbon and other factors to determine how much it spends on renewable energy in the coming years, Mastiaux said.

Enel May Beat 2010 Earnings Target, Picks October for Green IPO – Businessweek

Enel also plans a 4 billion-euro initial public offering of its Green Power division, which manages wind, solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal power producers in 17 countries, to help repay debt.

The Italian government’s plans to cut subsidies for renewable-energy producers won’t affect Enel’s Green Power unit, two-thirds of which operates without state support, and won’t sway the IPO, Conti told reporters in Moscow today. The unit already has “solid cash flows” and can float “successfully even in the turbulent times that we are in now,” he said.