SPECIAL DEPARTMENT: Solar/Wind Energy News

April 1, 2007
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We've got the details on some of the latest projects in these growing segments of the renewable energy market.

AWEA Forecasts Wind Power Growth

Wind power generating capacity increased by 27% in 2006 and is expected to increase an additional 26% in 2007, according to a recent American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) market forecast. Wind's growth reflects the nation's increasing demand for clean and safe domestic energy, and continues to attract both private and public sources of capital.

"iPods, flat screen televisions and other highly sought technologies are creating a demand for electricity that is beginning to eclipse our current supply. Wind is a proven, cost-effective source of energy that also alleviates global warming and enhances our nation's energy security," said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher.

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 2454 MW of new generating capacity in 2006, an investment of approximately $4 billion, billing wind as one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country (second only to natural gas) for the second consecutive year. New wind farms boosted cumulative U.S. installed wind energy capacity by 27% to 11,603 MW, well above the 10,000 MW milestone reached in August 2006. One megawatt of wind power produces enough electricity to serve 250 to 300 homes on average each day.

Wind energy facilities currently installed in the U.S. will produce an estimated 31 billion kilowatt-hours annually, or enough electricity to serve 2.9 million American homes. Additional details, including a state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects, is available at www.awea.org.

Kyocera and H&H Solar Deliver PV Installation

Kyocera Solar, Inc. recently announced the completion of a 44.4 kW solar electric system atop Urban Ecology Center (UEC), a neighborhood-based, non-profit community center located in historic Riverside Park, Milwaukee, Wis. The system is the largest solar electric installation in the state of Wisconsin to date. Originally installed in 2004 by H&H Solar Energy Services, the system started out as a 48-module array. With the addition of 208 modules, the completed system now consists of 256 Kyocera KC-175 GT modules, 16 SMA Sunny Boy 2500U inverters and a Unirac Solar mount structure attached to the standing seam roof.

Over the modules' 25-year warranty, the system will produce 55,000 kWh each year. The Center as a whole uses 140,000 kWh each year, offsetting about 40% of the building's total energy use. Solar output from the system will help prevent 106,860 lbs of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually. For additional information, visit www.kyocerasolar.com, www. www.h-hgroup.com or www.urbanecologycenter.org.

PPG, Devold to Form Joint Venture

PPG Industries and Devold AMT AS have signed a letter of intent to form a 50-50 joint venture to manufacture glass-fiber reinforcement fabrics for the North American wind energy turbine market. Multi-axial and unidirectional fabrics are major components in windmill blades, and they are also used in the manufacture of a variety of marine, construction and consumer products.

The new company, to be called PPG-Devold, leverages PPG's infrastructure and position in the U.S. market and Devold's investment in stitched reinforcement technology and customer relationships. The joint venture will include construction of stitched reinforcement fiber glass production lines at PPG's wholly-owned fiber glass plant in Shelby, N.C., and will create an unspecified number of jobs at the plant. For more information, visit www.ppg.com.

Fiberstars Receives Funding for Solar R&D

Fiberstars, Inc., a global leader in fiber optic lighting, recently announced its receipt of $240,000 in funding through the Very High Efficiency Solar Concentrator Consortium (VHESC). Fiberstars was selected to join the consortium in 2006; this new installment will fund the company's contributions through the next stage of the project. Fiberstars' EFO(r) optical solutions currently provide high-quality lighting solutions for large retailers, grocery stores and hotels, and the company is investigating ways the patented fiber optic technology can be applied to deliver direct sunlight to solar cells.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) established the VHESC program to demonstrate at least 50% efficiency in a photovoltaic (PV) device. The Consortium is led by the University of Delaware and includes top solar teams in industry and academia. Fiberstars has been working with this group of universities and corporations, including the University of Rochester, BP Solar and DuPont, to develop materials, processes and optics to speed the solar industry's development of higher-efficiency solar cells.

The VHESC assumes the ambitious goal of more than doubling the efficiency of the most efficient solar cell from 24.7% to 50% by 2010. The consortium is exploring new processes for fabricating novel structures for advanced high-efficiency PV solar power sources. Building on the advances made with new high-performance crystalline silicon solar cell platforms, the group is researching other innovative technologies that can further boost efficiency levels. For more information, visit www.fiberstars.com or www.darpa.mil.

GE to Supply 300 Wind Turbines for New York State Projects

GE Energy will supply 300 of its 1.5-MW wind turbines to Noble Environmental Power for 2007 and 2008 projects that will increase New York State's wind power capacity by 450 MW. Based in Essex, Conn., Noble Environmental Power is a leader in the wind industry and has projects under active development in New York and Michigan. The company will use the new GE turbines for the second phases of the Bliss Windpark, located in Wyoming County in western New York, and the Clinton Windpark, located in Clinton County in northern New York.

"New York State has been very aggressive in striving toward energy independence," said Victor Abate, vice president-renewables for GE Energy. "The state has set a goal to produce 25% of its energy from renewable sources, including wind, by the year 2013. More than 60 counties, towns and villages in New York have adopted renewable energy goals."

GE also recently announced that it has surpassed 5000 installations for its 1.5-MW wind turbine, one of the most widely used machines in the global wind power industry. "This technology has been proven in nearly every wind regime, terrain or climate worldwide," said Abate. For additional information, visit www.ge.com/energy or www.noblepower.com.

BP Plans Construction of Five U.S. Wind Projects in 2007

BP Alternative Energy North America Inc. recently announced that it expects to begin construction on five wind power generation projects in the U.S. in 2007. Located in four states (California, Colorado, North Dakota and Texas), the projects are expected to deliver a combined generation capacity of 550 MW. When complete, the projects will exceed the company's previously announced target to build 450 MW by the end of 2008.

BP's U.S. wind portfolio includes the opportunity to develop almost 100 projects with a potential total generating capacity of some 15,000 MW. These projects are the result of several agreements and acquisitions the company made in 2006. In July, BP announced a strategic alliance with Clipper Windpower to supply up to 4250 MW of wind turbines over the next five years. Later in the year, BP acquired two U.S. wind development companies, Greenlight Energy Inc. and Orion Energy LLC.

"Today's announcement marks an important step in delivering BP's commitment to producing low- and zero-carbon electricity," said Robert Lukefahr, president of BP Alternative Energy North America. "Our 2007 build program surpasses our target, and does so a year ahead of schedule. It is a testament to the caliber of people working in our business and the opportunities in the U.S. wind sector." Additional information is available at www.bp.com.

Boeing Spectrolab Solar Cell Surpasses 40% Efficiency

Boeing recently announced that Spectrolab, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary, has achieved a new world record in terrestrial concentrator solar cell efficiency. Using concentrated sunlight, Spectrolab demonstrated the ability of a photovoltaic cell to convert 40.7% of the sun's energy into electricity. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., verified the milestone.

"This solar cell performance is the highest efficiency level any photovoltaic device has ever achieved," said David Lillington, Ph.D., president of Spectrolab. "The terrestrial cell we have developed uses the same technology base as our space-based cells. So, once qualified, they can be manufactured in very high volumes with minimal impact to production flow."

Development of the high-efficiency concentrator cell technology was funded by the NREL's High Performance Photovoltaics program and Spectrolab. For additional information, visit www.spectrolab.com or www.nrel.gov.

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