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  • In Coda Looks for Columbus Conclusion, a California electric car maker wants to employ as many as 1,000 workers at a battery plant in Ohio. All it needs is that DOE loan.

  • Sun Tracking Tools glides across the surface of several resources that could aid your risk and cost analysis in the siting of solar power plants. (Math skills not included.)

  • Rather than fight nuclear energy projects, communities now welcome them, if their economic development benefits are well articulated. Scott Carlberg articulates them well in Nuclear Energy Gets a Callback.


Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., has begun construction of a state-of-the-art, advanced lithium-ion battery plant in Cacia, Portugal to support the rollout of electric vehicles from the Renault-Nissan Alliance in Europe. The battery plant is being built on a 30,450-sq.-m. plot of land belonging to the Renault CACIA gearbox assembly plant, following an investment of €156 million (US$213 million). The facility will start operations in December 2012 and will have a total capacity of 50,000 units a year. About 200 jobs are expected to be created by the new plant.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced on Feb. 17 the offer of a conditional commitment to SoloPower, Inc. for a $197-million loan guarantee to support the retrofit of an existing building and installation of additional equipment to operate a thin-film solar cell and module manufacturing facility in Wilsonville, Ore., located in Clackamas County just south of Portland.

The company announced Jan. 13 that the project's initial phase would consist of a 75-MW line that will create 170 new jobs. Upon completion, the facility is expected to have nameplate capacity of 300MW, employ approximately 500 people, and have a total investment of approximately $340 Million. That same day, the Small Scale Energy Loan Program (SELP) Advisory Committee recommended approval to the Oregon Department of Energy for a $20-million loan to SoloPower, which has also applied for a Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) of $20 million from the State of Oregon.

"Over the past year, SoloPower has considered several alternative sites. Oregon is an exceptional location for our long-term growth," said SoloPower CEO Tim Harris. "SoloPower greatly appreciates the partnerships it has formed with the State of Oregon, the Oregon Department of Energy, Clackamas County and the City of Wilsonville. Oregon's business friendly environment, excellent support programs, and highly skilled work force made locating our new manufacturing facility in Oregon an easy decision."

SoloPower received its first DOE support in 2007, in the form of a start-up grant of between $2 million and $3 million. In January 2008 it relocated to a new 109,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in south San Jose and began to ramp up its 20MW+ manufacturing plant.

Texas and the EPA already are at loggerheads over air quality permitting authority. A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit established in March of 2002 by former EPA enforcement attorneys, won't help. It shows that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants in the U.S. rose 5.56 percent in 2010 over the year before, the biggest annual increase since the EPA began tracking emissions in 1995. The report is based on data from the EPA's Clean Air Markets Web site, which tallies emission reports from electric generators. The 10 states with the most CO2 pollution identified in the report are, in order, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri. The report says nearly 4.5 gigawatts of new coal-fired electric generation came online in 2010, about half of that in Texas. But power companies have also announced plans to retire almost 12 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity within the next few years, including the announcement last month that Xcel would close nearly 900 megawatts of coal-fired capacity at four different power stations in Colorado.

The report also tracks substantial state-by-state decreases in sulfur dioxide emissions over the past decade.

On a sunnier note, EPA has updated each of its National Top Partner lists highlighting some of America's largest green power purchasers. EPA updates its Top Partner Lists quarterly at

Arizona Public Service says Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station it operates and partially owns contributes $1.8 billion annually to the Arizona economy, according to an economic impact study released in January. Based on 2009 data, the study prepared by Phoenix-based consulting firm Applied Economics quantifies the direct activity of the plant itself as well as economic multipliers created by local supplier purchases and by employee spending. The economic impact figure does not include the economic benefit of Palo Verde's carbon-free electricity or the plant's revenue benefits as the state's largest taxpayer.

"As Palo Verde safely and efficiently generates electricity for the long term, it will continue to create economic benefit to the state of Arizona," said APS Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Randy Edington. "With the recent completion of a long-term water contract with five Valley cities, recent replacement of major components in all three units, and the plant's relicensing efforts, we are taking steps to ensure this significant economic impact continues through at least the middle of this century."

More than 11,000 solar panels are being deployed onto GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare's Regional Distribution Center rooftop in York, Pa., generating enough electricity to meet the annual energy needs of the nearly 500,000-sq.-ft. building.

Looking to emulate GSK? Then you might be interested in the new KH Solar Limited Partnership, a joint venture between Canadian firms Helios Energy and Kruger Energy, a subsidiary of Kruger Inc., that will develop large-scale rooftop solar energy systems on commercial and industrial buildings in North America. "The partnership will focus on developing and transferring ownership of systems to Kruger Energy, who will operate the systems pursuant to long-term leases with building owners," said the companies. "The systems will be installed on commercial and industrial rooftops using a ballasted mounting technology that does not penetrate the building roof membrane. The partnership may also develop rooftop solar energy systems for building owners interested in system ownership." The JV offers a rooftop evaluator to building occupiers considering solar.

CB Richard Ellis and McGraw-Hill have released a report entitled "Do Green Buildings Make Dollars and Sense? Study 2.0," available via a 27-minute podcast and an associated presentation. The data comes at the same time as President Obama's announcement of the "Better Buildings Initiative," a program championed by NAIOP, among others.

A group of 20 companies and associations, among them Acciona, EON Climate & Renewables, GE Energy, Siemens, Vattenfall and Vestas, have called for a single EU market for electricity by 2015. The declaration came earlier this month, near the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Single European Act on Feb. 17, 1986. "European legislation has guaranteed some choice of electricity provider, but only 5 percent of Europe's electricity is traded across borders," said a release from the European Wind Energy Association, one of the declaration's supporters. "An interconnected system of roads, railways, shipping and air routes throughout Europe is a precondition for maintaining Europe's four freedoms, created by the Single European Act 25 years ago: the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. Europe needs a fifth freedom - the free movement of electricity across borders - and effective competition and an interconnected electricity grid are key to establishing it."

According to the Wisconsin Technology Council, California-based W Solar Group, Inc. will receive up to $28 million in Enterprise Zone tax credits from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce to establish a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin, and locate its corporate headquarters and R&D facilities in Dane County. The company expects to create about 620 jobs between its headquarters, R&D and manufacturing facilities. The project represents a capital investment of over $300 million.

A late January research report from on the biofuels market in India is now available from the U.S. Commercial Service arm of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. So is another report on the Canadian market for renewable energy equipment.

Rendering of planned solar module assembly plant in Kadan, Czech Republic (top) & photo of newly completed solar module assembly plant in Tianjin, China (bottom)
Photo courtesy of Business Wire

Japan's Kyocera Corp. announced in January that it is increasing its solar module production capacity with the start of construction of its second plant in Kadan, Czech Republic, and the completion of an expanded assembly plant in Tianjin, China.

The new Czech facility is set to be completed in fall 2011 and will have an annual capacity of 360-megawatts (MW), combining with the existing Czech plant for a total of 560MW per year - the largest solar module assembly site in the Kyocera Group. In 2003, the company's original Tianjin solar module plant was the first solar module production facility to be established by a Japanese company in China. Operations from the existing plant will be gradually transferred to the new, expanded plant by spring of this year. Once the facility is fully operational, it will have an annual production capacity of 360MW - approximately 3.5 times more than the site's current capacity.

The new plants in Europe and Asia combine with the company's other existing module assembly plants in Japan, Mexico and the U.S. to help meet Kyocera's annual production target of 1-gigawatt (GW) by FY2013 (ending March 31, 2013).

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

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

Vol.3 , Issue 02

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