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JULY 19, 2010
Vol. 2, Issue 04 A publication of Site Selection

  • In a battle for the ages staged by the EPA, 14 buildings are competing to reduce their energy use the most. The biggest loser wins in Green Agendas Meet Reality TV.


  • The environment ministers of Germany, the United Kingdom and France, in an open letter released last week, explain why Europe needs to aim even higher in carbon emissions reduction by 2020.


The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, has formally announced its backing for a $22.2-million, 6-MW solar farm in Nakhonratchasima, Thailand, that purports to be the largest in Southeast Asia. IFC will invest up to US$7.1 million in Solar Power Company Limited (SPC) and its first four solar farm projects in Thailand. SPC has another 33 approved licenses for 6-MW solar farms which it also plans to develop as SPVs, subsequent to the successful operation of this first project, known as Korat. The project is expected to go into operation in the second quarter 2010 and the next three projects to be developed are expected to start construction by July 2010. Both SP(KR1) and the subsequent solar farms will be developed under Thailand's Very Small Power Project ("VSPP") program, which supports independent generators smaller than 10MW to sell power to the Provincial Electricity Authority, one of two government owned distribution companies. The power purchase agreement term for such projects is initially for five years with automatic renewal every five years.

Korat (pictured) is in the Don Chomphu sub-district of the Non Sung district located in the Nakhonratchasima province in Thailand. The total site area available is 13.5 hectares (33.4 acres) "and is suitable for a PV installation with high solar irradiation and easy access to transmission lines," says the IFC. "The site has access to a main road. The sites for the subsequent projects in SPC's development pipeline are yet to be defined but are all expected to be in rural areas of central Thailand."

When the Korat project announced financial support from Kasikornbank in January 2010, it was identified as the largest multi-megawatt commercial solar farm project in Southeast Asia.

What is it about solar-powered airplanes and the clean, clear air of the Alps? Certainly the combination worked for Solar Impulse, resulting in its thrilling overnight flight earlier this month. That plane was created by some 100 team members located in Dübendorf and Lausanne, Switzerland. But it's not the only solar-powered airplane project in the region.

The flight reminded us of a talk given at the International Association of Science Parks conference last summer by a representative of Savoie Technolac, a technology park in the French Alps that's an hour's drive from Lyon, Grenoble and Geneva. The park, which served for 50 years as a military helicopter base, today is known for its solar energy business incubation program and cluster of solar companies, and is home to Lisa Airplanes, which aims to make its own round-the-world flight with its Hy-Bird hybrid aircraft powered by both solar energy and hydrogen via a fuel cell. (For the industrial background on fuel cells in flight, see our 2009 profile of BASF's work in New Jersey, supporting a test aircraft developed by German partners based in Stuttgart and Zweibrucken.)

Lisa's solar components are supplied by Chinese firm Trina Solar, which earlier this year established its EU headquarters in Zurich.

The Economist weighs in on reality vs. fantasy when it comes to green building and energy conservation goals in still-booming Asian cities.

We've cited him before, and we're citing him again: At, Dr. Frank Clemente, a professor at Penn State University, delivers weekly insights worth your perusal time, including his latest sobering views on wind energy and shale gas.

Ports get the lion's share of attention from wind turbine makers looking to ship their oversized components. But not all the important movement takes place on the water. Witness last week's meeting of the Ohio Rail Development Commission, which featured a vote on supporting a portion of the $5.5-million investment needed for a wind turbine components transload facility in Kenton, Ohio, located equidistant from the inland Northwest Ohio towns of Findlay, Marion and Lima. The 40-acre (16-hectare) parcel for the project was purchased recently by American Rail Center, based in Walbridge, Ohio. The State of Ohio is offering a $3.2-million loan to the company and to Hardin County in support of the project. According to the Findlay Courier, the project was originally destined for nearby Dunkirk, Ohio, but construction of a new connecting road was prohibitively expensive.

The fanciful "Cree Shimmer Wall" adorns the new Raleigh Convention Center. DOE grant recipient Cree, the homegrown company that helped sponsor the public art work and manufactured the 56 LEDs that light its 79,464 square aluminum pixels, recently announced a plan to add 575 employees to its nearby Durham campus by 2012.
Photo courtesy of Cree

Site Selection's annual global infrastructure report in September will feature a close look at what kinds of transportation projects figure the most among the 19,502 receiving Recovery Act funding. In the meantime, the DOE continues to dole out Recovery cash, last week directing $92 million to 43 projects through its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program. The new recipients "focus on accelerating innovation in green technology while increasing America's competitiveness in grid scale energy storage, power electronics and building efficiency," said the DOE. The projects are based in 18 states, with 36 percent led by universities, 33 percent by small businesses, 24 percent by large businesses, 5 percent by national labs, and 2 percent by non-profits. Private-sector organizations involved in the projects include Infinia in Washington state; Cree in Durham, N.C.; General Electric Research, DuPont, United Technologies and Boeing, among others.

How does the DOE do in saving energy on its own premises? An early July article from the New York Times analyzes DOE's own report on the subject .

Provo, Utah-based Raser Technologies and Hyundai Heavy Industries announced on June 30 an MOU for the joint development of renewable energy and electric vehicles. The agreement sets into play the first two projects that are intended to lead to a broader long-term relationship to develop renewable energy in the western U.S. utilizing Raser's resource portfolio and HHI's renewable energy equipment manufacturing capabilities. The agreement also sets forth the first phase of commercial production of electric fleet vehicles utilizing HHI's high tech engineering and manufacturing capability and Raser's powertrain technology. The proposed solar power project will be built at Raser's Thermo site in southern Utah, enabling the demonstration of a new zero-emissions blended renewable development by Raser that incorporates solar, wind and geothermal energy produced near existing transmission lines. The first three extended-range electric vehicles will be used by Pacific Gas Electric Co.

A new solar power project from Raser and Hyundai Heavy Industries will be sited at this existing Raser geothermal power operation in southern Utah.
Photo courtesy of Raser Technologies

Among the many reports echoing across the vast landscape of the recent BIO conference in Chicago is this new report from the World Economic Forum about industrial biorefineries. Among its highlights, the biofuels market is projected to more than triple by 2020, and the demand for biomass for heat and power is expected to more than double.

As companies strive to find the balance point between green-minded growth opportunities and green-minded regulatory restrictions, a New York Times article describes Dow Chemical's partially contrarian view of Waxman-Markey.

Meanwhile, strictly by coincidence, Dow Corning on the same day announced its new construction industry Web page, designed in part to showcase how silicone can contribute to sustainable buildings and the LEED credits they seek to earn.

Want more? Make sure to visit the Energy Report Archive.

"Energy Matters" is compiled, written and edited by Adam Bruns.

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