U.S. Renewable Market

While the renewable market remains steady, droughts in the U.S. mid-west could put pressure on ethanol and bio-diesel. California voted overwhelmingly to extend the Cap and Trade program through 2030, which should help market sentiment. California provides unparalleled support for the renewable fuels industry and offers a stark contrast to the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle Obama era climate policies. The LCFS credit was unfazed by the agreement and remains to trade in the $73 to $76 range.

Climate Change

Source: NASA

Parties Re-entering RIN Market

Obligated parties appear to be re-entering the market on a consistent basis again.  This is the likely driver behind the strong move in ethanol RINs (Renewable Identification Number).  There seems to be a feeling that achieving the mandate without drawing down the RIN bank is going to keep the ethanol market pretty tight. E17’s gained crested over the 80 cents mark. They have not been this high since January 3rd, 2017.  The market feels biodiesel production is in an okay spot relative to ethanol.  B17 RINs continue to hang out in the 110 to 112 range.  The move higher in ethanol RINs further narrowed the B17/E17 spread to 31 cents.

Crop Ratings Continue to Suffer due to Drought Conditions

In the latest week, 40% of the corn crop has entered is in the silking stage. This is up 21 points from last week but trails both the 5-year average of 47% and last year’s pace of 53%. Crop conditions edged lower over the past week. 64% of the crop is considered to be in good to excellent condition, 25% is rated as fair, and 11% as poor to very poor.  Current readings are down 1 point in the good to excellent category and a point worse in the poor to very poor category. Last year conditions were 76% good to excellent, 19% fair, and 5% poor to very poor.  Tennessee, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania are seeing the best crop conditions, while South Dakota and North Dakota are seeing some of the worst. 38% of the South Dakota corn crop is rated poor to very poor. This could put upward pressure on corn and ethanol.

Soybean blooming has reached 52%, up 18 points from last week and 1 point ahead of the 5-yr average. 16% of the soybean crop is setting pods, 3 points better than the 5-year average. Soybean crop conditions continue to decline. 61% of the crop is rated as good to excellent, 28% as fair, and 11% poor to very poor.  Week over week, ratings dropped 1 point in the good to excellent category, while adding a point in the fair category. Tennessee and Louisiana are showing crops with the best conditions, more than 80% rated good to excellent. South Dakota is only at 34%. South Dakota is facing horrible weather conditions. 93% of the state is abnormally dry, according to the US Drought Monitor, and 11% of the state is facing extreme drought conditions. Currently, only 29% of the South Dakota soybean crop is rated in good to excellent condition, while 33% is considered poor to very poor. This could put pressure on bio-diesel.


Abengoa declines over debt issues

The Spanish power giant Abengoa faces imminent bankruptcy proceedings, after another Spanish company failed to inject equity into the debt laden Abengoa. Note unlike SunEdison, Abengoa’s demise has been slow and painful with the company’s debt load increasing and its revenues not keeping up with the increasing interest payments. GeStamp was supposed to buy an equity stake in the company, infusing crucial cash into Abengoa’s balance sheet. Abengoa is one the largest RE companies in the world with interest in biofuels, solar thermal, solar PV as well as conventional power plants throughout the world. It has more than 24000 employees with power plants located in India as well. However, this Spanish company now seems to be in the death throes with more than $20 billion in overall debt. With massive risk aversion towards energy debt with the oil and gas price crash, it looks unlikely that the company can recover. However, there are still 4 months that the company can come up with a deal with creditors.

Like SunEdison, Abengoa had listed a RE yieldco Abengoa yieldco in USA earlier. Like the rest of this investment class Abengoa Yield also saw its stock price cratering, creating a further accounting loss of more than $200 million for its parent. This also hurt the company. The company’s stock price saw a fall of more than 50% after GeStamp said that it would not infuse money into the company. The company’s bond which were already trading at a significant discount saw a further hit.

Like SunEdison, Abengoa is both a major developer and contractor of solar power plants in the world. The company was the leading international contractor in transmission and distribution for the eighth consecutive year and the top international contractor for solar energy for the fourth consecutive year in 2014.

abengoa

The USA government will also see some significant losses as it was a guarantor of Abengoa’s Palen solar thermal project that got built 5 years ago, when USA gave $25 billion in loan guarantees to numerous renewable energy projects throughout USA.

Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell, Total and others are being alleged to have suppressed information related to climate change and funding studies and researches, which debunked global warming and climate change. These giant organizations make hundreds of billions of dollars in profits every year through oil and gas sales. Their massive empires would come under threat, if climate change due to humans was found to be true. These companies used their massive power to thwart the fight against climate change, endangering the entire human race. It is a known fact that these companies have been advertising for years to make climate change look like a conspiracy theory, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Carbon emissions have pretty much reached the point of no return and scientists are predicting that the world temperature will increase by more than 2%, even if the recent INDCs are implemented. For years, these companies have lobbied the governments not to do more about global warming, despite it being one of the biggest threats to mankind. The Koch brothers who owe their wealth to the oil and gas industry have been at the forefront of making global warming look like a nutcase theory. But with global public opinion becoming stronger against climate change, these companies are now facing investigations from the NY public prosecutor’s office for not acting against the research.

Also read the list of Oil & Gas Companies in India.

Due to their massive energy R&D, these companies have been leaders in alternative energy in the past. The main advances in geothermal and solar energy were made by companies like Chevron and BP. But these companies never put their money into these technologies, as it would threaten their bread and butter oil and gas business. They have also never put in serious money into green technologies like biofuels. Now these companies will be investigated to check whether they never acted on their findings on climate change. The CEOs of these companies would have suppressed the findings for business as usual, even through the whole human race faces an existential crisis. It has been known for years the oil and gas transnationals care two hoots about climate change and they have used their money power to silence the warnings about climate change. But with problems now growing acute, things cannot be pushed under the carpet anymore. Its time these companies face comeuppance for their past misdeeds.

List of Institutes/ Agencies under MNRE

MNRE has six different institutes to manage six different aspects of renewable energy – solar, wind, bioenergy and hydropower. These six institutes under MNRE to promote renewable energy in India are:

1) Solar Energy Center

Established in 1982, SEC is a body under MNRE to develop solar energy and its related technology in India. Its functions include various aspects right from the utilization of solar energy as a resource to the successful implementation of solar energy into various technologies and applications. It also provides training in the solar energy field and testing, standardization, performance evaluation, monitoring and data evaluation.

Read on GWI Pros and Cons of Solar Energy.

2) C-WET

C-WET or center for wind energy technology was established in Chennai for wind power development.

Read on GWI Pros and Cons of Wind Power

3) SSS NIRE

Sardar Swaran Singh National Institute of Renewable Energy is established in Kapurthala Punjab to monitor the Biomass energy in the country. The institute undergoes various research and development, training, testing and standardization of bioenergy in India. The main objective of SSS NIRE is to test the feasibility and usability of biofuels, bioenergy and synthetic fuels in different forms (solid, liquid and gaseous) to be used for transportation and different portable and stationary applications.

Read on GWI Advantages of Biomass Energy.

4) AHEC

Alternate Hydro Energy Center  was formed in 1982 in Roorkee and deals with the promotion of Small Hydropower projects. It also deals with the feasibility of developing such small hydropower projects in conjunction with the other renewable energy sources like solar, wind and biomass. The main function includes the designing and and execution of small hydro projects and it also provides additional services like technical support, consultancy services and refurbishment of old projects.

Read on GWI Uses of Hydropower Energy.

5) IREDA

The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency is a non banking financial institution formed for providing term loans for renewable energy projects in India.

6) SECI

Solar Energy Corporation of India is a non-profit making Company registered under Companies Act India 1956. It has its office in New Delhi and functions to promote solar energy in India. The current projects of SECI includes implementation of JNNSM phase II policies and projects, to oversee solar thermal installations and run pilot power plants, implementation of grid connected Solar Roof-Top scheme and solar power plants and related research and development.

source: MNRE

Policies for Renewable Energy Trading

Twelve of the most notable types of policies that have promoted renewable energy worldwide are given below:

1. U.S. Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) of 1978

PURPA required utilities to purchase power from small renewable generators and co generators – otherwise known as independent power producers (IPPs) – through long-term (10-year) contracts, at prices approximating the avoided costs to the utilities. These avoided costs represented the marginal costs to the utilities of building new generation facilities, which could be avoided by purchasing power from the IPPs instead.

2. Electricity Feed-in Laws

The electricity feed-in laws in Germany and similar policies in other European countries in the 1990s, set a fixed price for utility purchases of renewable energy. For example, in Germany starting 1991, renewable energy producers could sell their power to utilities at 90% of the retail market price. The utilities were obligated to purchase the power. The law changed in 2000, when pricing became based on fixed norms unique to each technology, which in turn were based upon estimates of power production costs and expectations of declines in those costs over time. Other countries in Europe with renewable electricity feed-in laws include Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

3. Competitively bid Renewable Resource Obligations

The United Kingdom tried competitive bidding for renewable energy resource obligations during the 1990s under its Non-Fossil-Fuel Obligation (NFFO) policy. Under the NFFO, power producers bid on providing a fixed quantity of renewable power, with the lowest- price bidder winning the contact. With each successive bidding round (there were four total), bidders reduced prices relative to the last round. The UK abandoned the NFFO approach after the fourth round of bidding in 1997. Other countries with similar competitively-bid renewable resource mechanisms have included Ireland, France, and Australia.

Read on GWI Advantages & Disadvantages of Renewable Energy.

4. Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS)

An RPS requires that a minimum percentage of generation sold or capacity installed be provided by renewable energy. Obligated utilities must ensure that the target is met, either from their own generation, power purchases from other producers, or direct sales from third-parties to the utility‘s customers. Typically, RPS obligations are placed on the final retailers of power. At least twelve U.S. states have enacted an RPS, ranging from 1% to 30% of electricity generation. In Europe, the Netherlands has been a leader among RPS initiatives. Dutch utilities have adopted an RPS voluntarily, based on targets of 5% of electricity generation by 2010, increasing to 17% by 2020. Other countries with RPS-type regulatory requirements include Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Denmark, France, Japan, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

5. Renewable Energy (Green) Certificates

Renewable energy (green) certificates are emerging as a way for utilities and customers to trade renewable energy production and/or consumption credits in order to meet obligations under RPS and similar policies. Standardized certificates provide evidence of renewable energy production, and are coupled with institutions and rules for trading that separate out renewable energy attributes from the associated physical energy. This enables a paper market for renewable energy to be created independent of actual electricity sales and flows. Green certificate trading is gaining ground in the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, and the United States. Europe embarked upon a test phase of an EU-wide renewable energy certificate trading system during 2001 and 2002.

6. Cost Reduction Policies

A number of policies are designed to provide incentives for voluntary investments in renewable energy by reducing the costs of such investments. These policies can be characterized into five broad categories. Policies can:
i) Reduce capital costs up front (via subsidies and rebates)
ii) Reduce capital costs after purchase (via tax relief)
iii) Offset costs through a stream of payments based on power production (via production tax credits)
iv) Provide concessionary loans and other financial assistance
v) Reduce capital and installation costs through economies of bulk procurement.

Many examples of these policies exist in individual U.S. states, several countries in Europe, India, and Thailand.

7. Public Benefit Funds

In the United States, public funds for renewable energy development are raised through a system benefits charge, which is a per-kWh levy on electric power consumption. Similar levies exist in some European countries for fossil-fuel-based generation. The funds collected in this manner serve a variety of purposes, such as subsidizing the cost difference between renewable and traditional generating facilities, reducing the cost of loans for renewable facilities, providing energy efficiency services, funding public energy education, providing low-income energy assistance, and supporting research and development.

8. Market Infrastructure Policies

A variety of market-facilitation policies are used to build and maintain renewable energy market infrastructure – the capabilities, institutions and rules which underlie a market – including design standards, sitting and permitting requirements, equipment standards, and contractor education and licensing. Policies may also require that market participants have local on-the ground presence (or joint-venture type requirements).

9. Net Metering

Net metering allows a two-way flow of electricity between the distribution grid and customers with self-generation. When consumption exceeds self-generation, the meter runs forward, and when self-generation exceeds consumption, the meter runs backward. The customer pays only for the net amount of electricity used in each billing period, and is sometimes allowed to carryover net electricity generated from month to month. Net metering in effect allows customers to receive retail prices for their self-generation. At least 38 U.S. states now have net metering laws. Net metering is also common in parts of Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and allowed by at least one utility in the UK. Thailand is one of the few developing countries to have enacted net metering laws.

Also read about List of Top Renewable Energy/Green/CleanTech Companies in India which are Publicly listed on GWI.

10. Transport Biofuels Policies

Biofuels mandates and tax policies in Brazil, the United States, and Europe have accelerating development of biofuels. Biofuels mandates require a certain percentage of all liquid transport fuels be derived from renewable resources. Tax policies may provide tax credits or exemptions for production or purchase of biofuels. Brazil has long mandated blending of ethanol with all vehicle fuels sold in the country, as well as the availability of pure ethanol fuels at service stations. India has recently mandated blending in some states. The United States has several policies, such as a federal ethanol tax credit and an Iowa mandate that government vehicles use ethanol-blended fuel. Many European countries utilize small amounts of biodiesel blended with conventional diesel, and some, like France and Italy, also provide tax incentives. Germany provides tax exemptions for pure biodiesel.

11. Emissions Trading Policies

Policies to reduce power plant emissions, including NOx, SOx, and CO2, have the potential to affect renewable energy development. Many emissions-reduction policies create allowances for certain emissions (representing the right to emit a certain amount of that pollutant). Credits made available to renewable energy generators can offset these allowed emissions and can be sold by renewable energy producers at market value to other electricity generators who must comply with emissions limits.

12. Renewable Energy Targets

Several countries have adopted or are proposing national renewable energy targets. The European Union collectively has adopted a target of 22% of total electricity generation from renewables by 2010, with individual member states having individual targets above or below that amount. Japan has adopted a target of 3% of total primary energy by 2010. Recent legislative proposals in the United States would require 10% of electricity generation from renewables by 2020. China and India are the first developing countries to propose renewable energy targets. India has proposed that by 2012, 10% of annual additions to power generation would be from renewable energy; China has a similar goal of 5% by 2010. Other countries with existing or proposed targets are Australia, Brazil, Malaysia, and Thailand. In addition, a group of countries from around the world placed increased attention on renewable energy targets at the U.N. World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002.

Solar and Clean energy is the need of the hour. These are energy efficient and eco-friendly ways that help greatly in energy conservation and are also cost effective. Hence the importance of quick and intelligent availability of Industry News. These websites provide timely reporting and analysis of useful data, which help the Industry executives, professionals and investors at large. Listed below are few of my favorite Solar and Clean Energy websites:

1) AltEnergyStocks provides original research on alternative energy, renewable energy and clean technology companies. The website is categorized into Wind, Solar, Geothermal, Biofuel, Energy Efficiency, Smart grid, efficient Vehicles, alternative Transport, Cleantech news, Mutual Funds and ETFs. This website provides useful information to investors who are looking to invest in alternative energy and cleantech stocks.

2) Cleanedge Was founded in 2000, and provides research and advisory services in the clean-tech sector. It provides data, expert analysis, and comprehensive insights in the U.S. clean-energy marketplace. Its Cleanwatch is free e-newsletter about clean tech.

3) CleanTechnicaWas founded in 2008, is a clean news website covering Clean power, Transport, Energy efficiency, Economy. This website emphasizes on solar power, wind power, energy efficiency, and clean cars.

4) Earthtechling – is an online publication focusing on cleantech and green technology and the recent news in these sectors. It focuses primarily on Green building  and transportation, renewable energy and green living. It was started in 2009 and has its base in Portland, Oregon. Nino Marchetti is the founder of Earthtechling. The exciting part about this green website is that it has a separate section for Green products and lifestyle, which features new inventions and product description of any new green launch in he market and gives an insight about how to live Green.

5) GreenchipStocks Started in 2004, Greenchipstocks has helped investors in providing information on Solar and other Renewable enrgy sectors. This website provides news and timely reports on everything from solar, wind, and geothermal to natural gas, electric cars, and smart grid technologies.

6) Greentech Media is a news and research website which provides timely research and analysis on emerging green and clean technologies. Greetech Media was founded in 2007. It also provides customized research and consulting services in the field of Solar, Smart Grid, enterprise energy solutions, wind energy, biofuels, batteries and storage, finance and VC, and policy throughout these sectors. GTM also provides a platform for industry professionals and companies to come together by conducting various events & conferences.

7) IMS Research – Founded in 1989, IMS Research is the leading provider of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry. It provides very good information on PV and Smart Grid Market Research. They have offices in Europe, the US, China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

8) Lux Populi – is the Lux Research analyst blog. Lux Research was founded in 2004 as a spin-off of venture capital firm Lux Capital. Lux Research is an independent research and advisory firm providing strategic advice and ongoing intelligence for emerging technologies. The chief technology areas covered are Solar components and systems, Smart grid and grid storage, Electric vehicles, Alternative fuels, Energy electronics.

9) PV-Tech is a very good comprehensive website providing news on solar PV supply chain globally. PV tech mainly deals with solar cells, modules, thin films and utility-scale power plants. In addition to news and in depth timely analysis, PV Tech also provides Product reviews, Project analysis of various solar products and projects globally. It also provides a synopsis of the upcoming global solar events to be held around the globe. The thing I personally like about the website is that PV Tech gives a country wise tariff chart for Rooftop, ground based and BIPV modules.

10) Renewable Energy Focus This website is categorized into Bioenergy, energy efficiency, energy infrastructure and storage, geothermal, green building, photovoltaics, hydropower, wind power, tidal energy, Solar heating and electricity.

11) Renewable Energy WorldStarted by a group of Renewable energy professionals in 1998, RE world today is one of the largest green websites covering Renewable Energy News, products and technology overview. This website also showcases the renewable energy events calendar. It has different sections dealing with Green Companies, products, which is very convenient for customers looking for information. The Renewable Energy White Papers are easily accessible, downloadable documents which are available to anyone in need.

12) SolarBuzz Provides news and comprehensive reports on the Solar Industry since 2001. In addition to the aforesaid, it also provides consulting services, analyst services and data services to its clients. It was acquired by the NPD Group, the world’s leading global provider of retail market research, in March 2010.

13) Solarplaza – was founded in 2004 and is engaged in organizing solar PV conferences and solar PV trade missions. It also runs a free daily solar industry newsletter SUN. It engages in connecting manufacturers and investors with solar PV developers and strategic consultancy.

Government Websites

1) American Solar Energy SocietyEstablished in 1954 and is a nonprofit organization. It focuses on solar energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable technologies in the U.S. and also publishes the SOLAR TODAY magazine.

2) Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) – is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), Inc. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). It is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

3) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) – invests in clean energy technologies. It focuses on energy efficiency – home, building, vehicles and manufacturing; renewable energy – solar, wind, biomass, water and geothermal; and its funding & research.

4) National Renewable Energy Laboratories – Has more than 35 years of experience in energy efficiency and renewable energy. NREL is the national laboratory of the US department of Energy, office of energy efficiency and renewable energy operated by the Alliance of Sustainable energy, LLC. Its divisions focuses on Photovoltaics, wind, biomass, renewable electricity and US renewable energy technical potentials.

5) Solar Energy Industries Association – is the national trade association in the U.S. It is engaged in providing U.S. and international policy, research and polls, business and financing trends, and more. It features news, events and jobs on the website.