Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kaiser joins Google, Apple in buying clean energy

Large wind turbines spin at an Altamont wind farm off Dyer Road near Livermore, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 7, 2015. Google and Kaiser have signed agreements
Large wind turbines spin at an Altamont wind farm off Dyer Road near Livermore, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 7, 2015. Google and Kaiser have signed agreements to buy power from NextEra Energy's Golden Hills Project. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLAND -- Google and Apple are not the only big companies harnessing California's sunshine and wind to power their workplaces. Health care giant Kaiser Permanente will announce Wednesday that it has signed deals to buy electricity from a new wind farm to be built at the Altamont Pass, a vast solar plant in Southern California, and more than 100 smaller rooftop solar arrays to be installed at its hospitals, parking garages and medical offices, all of which will reduce its carbon emissions by 30 percent. "Our primary motivation is that climate change is also a health issue," said Rame Hemstreet, Kaiser's chief energy officer. "The health impacts are already being experienced by our communities, our members." The 48-turbine wind farm, just east of Livermore, is the same project Google revealed it was buying energy from last week.

Kaiser and Google have inked 20-year power purchase agreements with Florida-based NextEra Energy, which will use the money to remove more than 700 old wind turbines from its Altamont property this year and replace them with more efficient machines. The companies will each get about 43 megawatts of power from the new wind farm, known as Golden Hills.

Kaiser also has signed a separate deal with NextEra for 110 megawatts from the Blythe solar energy plant in the Riverside County desert. NextEra is building the solar project and selling off its power in phases, not far from where Kaiser's first medical clinic was founded seven decades ago to treat workers digging the Colorado River Aqueduct.

The Altamont wind farm and Riverside solar plant are the first off-site power buys for Kaiser, the Oakland-based managed health care network that runs nearly 40 hospitals and hundreds of clinics around the country.

Kaiser also has signed a third deal with NRG Energy, based in Texas and New Jersey, to install rooftop and ground-mounted solar arrays to as many as 170 of its hospitals and other real estate in California. Many of its Bay Area hospitals are likely to benefit from the deal, which will add about 70 megawatts statewide. All of the deals are being signed ahead of the expiration next year of government tax incentives for renewable energy projects.

Kaiser's news follows two big Silicon Valley clean energy disclosures last week: Google's Altamont wind deal and Apple's $848 million deal to buy power from a solar farm to be constructed in Monterey County.

While the tech companies need electricity to power their data centers and corporate campuses, Hemstreet said hospitals are even bigger consumers of energy. The health industry was responsible for about 8 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions last year, he said.

Along with their environmental benefits, wind and solar are increasingly cheap and stable sources of energy that might protect Kaiser from future volatility in the fossil fuel markets.

Hemstreet declined to say how much Kaiser is paying but said it was "very competitive pricing for us."

"We're confident over the course of 20 years, the projects will be, at worst, cost neutral and are likely to save us money and lock in prices, creating certainty," Hemstreet said.

Kaiser's clean energy deals

Kaiser Permanente is announcing three separate deals Wednesday to power its California hospitals and clinics with renewable energy:

1. A 20-year agreement with NextEra energy for 43 megawatts from the Golden Hills wind farm at the Altamont Pass. Kaiser will be getting 50 percent of the power from 48 new turbines that will replace more than 700 old machines at the Alameda County property just east of Livermore. Google is buying the other half of the project.
2. A 20-year agreement with NextEra Energy for 110 megawatts from the Blythe solar energy plant in Riverside County.
3. An agreement with NRG Energy, based in Texas and New Jersey, to install rooftop and ground-mounted solar arrays at as many as 170 of Kaiser's hospitals and medical offices in California. The installations will provide up to 70 megawatts by 2016.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Apple's Next Big Thing..... The Apple Car?

By Kirill Klip

CNET adds gas to the fire with its report on Apple Car. We have more evidence from the ground in silicon valley in the report from Business Insider. This development will bee too big to hide and I expect more information coming out in the nearest future. If Boston-Power and Foxconn can produce Electric Cars, why can't Apple? It will change our Lithium industry landscape overnight. Apple's brand power will sell the idea of electric iCar as no one else.

Electric iCar Is For Real? "Proof is here: Apple Is Building an Electric Vehicle."

 "It looks like these rumours are much more substantial this time and Apple clearly is engaged in at least hiring the profiled engineers to build an electric car. This development will be the groundbreaking catalyst for our Lithium Industry, in case if it is confirmed by Apple. Read more."

And now FT:

Apple hiring automotive experts to work in secret research lab

“Three months ago I would have said it was CarPlay,” said one person who has worked closely with Apple for many years, referring to Apple’s infotainment system. “Today I think it’s a car.” FT.

Business Insider:

"Bryan Chaffin, cofounder of Apple site The Mac Observer, says he is "certain" Apple is working on a car after talking to sources.
Chaffin was following up on our report from Monday. An Apple employee told us the company was working on something in "vehicle development" that would "give Tesla a run for its money."Chaffin reported the following:
What I learned is that Apple has been looking for—and acquiring—the kind of people from Tesla with expertise that is most suited to cars. So much so that I went from being a doubter to a believer almost instantly.
From another source who travels in more rarified circles than yours truly, I also learned that a lot of people at the top in Silicon Valley consider it a given that Apple is working on a car. This is circumstantial, at best, but if you're going to crowd-source wisdom, you could do a lot worse than polling the C-suite.
I should add that when I asked one of my sources flat out to put a percentage chance on Apple working on an actual car—rather than some kind of car-related technology—I was told, "80 percent."
When coupled with everything I've learned since, I'm personally closer to 100 percent. Business Insider."

International Lithium Presentation February 2015. from Kirill Klip
EV Base:

"Is apple working on an electric car in their ‘super secret lab’?
Recently, Bloomberg did an excellent article about the hiring wars between Tesla and Apple. Over the last months, Tesla has recruited some of Apples finest engineers, and Apple seeks revenge.
Unconfirmed rumours from apple employees state that The project “will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money.”. This undisclosed employee didn’t give any other information about the project, but Business Insider noted that many of the Tesla employees that Apple hired have experience in robotics, manufacturing and mechanics.
Well, it looks like Apple is not so secretive about their ambitions anymore. From their jobs site we can easily learn that – yes – Apple is recruiting new staff with an automotive background. Foremost, and contrary to the quite clear job descriptions Apple normally has, these jobs have the following header:
Imagine what you could do here at Apple. You could help create the next generation of the world’s most finest devices. Great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring passion and dedication to your career, and there’s no telling what you could accomplish.
So if you want to join Apples iCar project, you may want to apply for either one of these
In many of the job descriptions qualifications are asked that are demanding expertise in the automotive industry. Have your go with it and find the jobs here"

Is Electric iCar Finally Coming From Apple?

 There are a lot of rumours flying around the silicon valley about the potential development of Apple iCar again. GM Bolt and Tesla Model III are prepping the mass market for electric cars with 200 miles range EV around $30k price tag. Foxconn - the manufacture of Apple iPhones and iPads is investing hundreds of millions into EV building facilities in China now. Apple will be in a very good company. It is the real chance the change the world, make it the better place and bring out another revolutionary product, Steve Jobs has dreamt about. Read more."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Attention Farmers USDA Announces $280 Million Available For Solar Energy

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Tuesday that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. These efforts help farmers, ranchers and other small business owners save money on their energy bills, reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, support America’s clean energy economy, and cut carbon pollution. The resources announced today are made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill.
“Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” Vilsack said. “The funding we are making available will help farmers, ranchers, business owners, tribal organizations and other entities incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations. Doing so can help a business reduce energy use and costs while improving its bottom line. While saving producers money and creating jobs, these investments reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon pollution as well.”
USDA is making more than $280 million available to eligible applicants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) . Application deadlines vary by project type and the type of assistance requested. Details on how to apply are on page 78029 of the December 29, 2014 Federal Register  or are available by contacting state Rural Development offices .
USDA is offering grants for up to 25 percent of total project costs and loan guarantees for up to 75 percent of total project costs for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. The REAP application window has been expanded. USDA will now accept and review loan and grant applications year-round.
Eligible renewable energy projects must incorporate commercially available technology. This includes renewable energy from wind, solar, ocean, small hydropower, hydrogen, geothermal and renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters). The maximum grant amount is $500,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.
Energy efficiency improvement projects eligible for REAP funding include lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, fans, automated controls and insulation upgrades that reduce energy consumption. The maximum grant amount is $250,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.
USDA is offering a second type of grant to support organizations that help farmers, ranchers and small businesses conduct energy audits and operate renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include: units of state, tribal or local governments; colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning; rural electric cooperatives and public power entities, and conservation and development districts. The maximum grant is $100,000. Applications for these particular grants have been available since December 29 of last year and are due February 12.
The REAP program was created in the 2002 Farm Bill. Because of the success of the program, Congress reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill with guaranteed funding of no less than $50 million in annual funding for the duration of the 5 year bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million for more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide. This includes $361 million in REAP grants and loans for more than 2,900 renewable energy systems. When fully operational, these systems are expected to generate more than 6 billion kilowatt hours annually – enough to power more than 5.5 million homes for a year.
In 2013, owners of the Ideal Dairy restaurant in Richfield, Utah, used REAP funding to install 80 solar modules and two 10-kilowatt inverters, which convert energy from solar panels to electricity. The owners have saved, on average, $400 per month. These savings have helped them preserve their restaurant and livelihood.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users.

Apple's Going 100% Solar At New Headquarters And All California Stores


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the company’s plans to build a 130-megawatt solar farm to power its stores and facilities located in California. Speaking at a technology conference hosted by Goldman Sachs, Cook said Apple will work with First Solar to build the $850-million plant, which will be sited on 1,300 acres in the interior of central California’s Monterey County. Apple’s two campuses in Cupertino, several hours’ drive north of the plant, as well as a data center and the state’s 52 Apple stores will all get power from the development, according to Cook.
The announcement is the second major solar commitment made by Apple so far this month. Earlier in February, Apple announced it was building a massive solar-powered global data command center in neighboring Arizona. The planned investment of $2 billion will include a 70-megawatt solar farm to power the facility.
Apple currently has three solar farms; two in North Carolina and one in Nevada. In 2013, Apple began using 100 percent renewable energy to power its data centers, a goal not yet achieved by Amazon, Google and Facebook.
“We know at Apple that climate change is real,” Cook said on Tuesday. “Our view is that the time for talk is past and the time for action is now.”
Cook also said that the California solar project, which is the company’s biggest solar deal to-date, will lead to major savings for Apple, though he stressed that the company is doing it because “it’s right to do.”
Apple’s California solar farm, called the First Solar California Flats Solar Project, is the largest solar procurement deal by a company that’s not a utility. It is also the first wholesale commercial and industrial power-purchase (PPA) agreement for First Solar, which signed a 25-year PPA with Pacific Gas and Electric.
“Over time, the renewable energy from California Flats will provide cost savings over alternative sources of energy as well as substantially lower environmental impact,” said Joe Kishkill, Chief Commercial Officer for First Solar, in a statement. “Apple is leading the way in addressing climate change by showing how large companies can serve their operations with 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”
Shares of Arizona-based First Solar, a leading photovoltaic company with over 10 gigawatts installed globally, surged nearly five percent after the news of the Apple deal.
In 2013 Apple hired Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA from 2009 to 2013, as vice president of environmental initiatives. Last summer, Apple released its 2014 Environmental Responsibility Report. The report states that the company’s carbon footprint from energy use dropped by nearly a third from fiscal year 2011 to 2013, even as energy consumption increased 44 percent. According to the report, carbon emissions from the company’s manufacturing partners — often located oversees in countries like China — remain the largest portion of Apple’s carbon footprint, an area the company is “committed to addressing.”

The fact that much of Apple’s emissions come from partners overseas underscores a difficult truth for the company: that beyond Apple’s headquarters in renewable-energy friendly California exists the globalized economy that the company depends on for sourcing, manufacturing, shipping, selling, and using their products. This environment is not easily controlled. Apple can set a leading example by building solar farms, but when it comes to the companies that Apple relies on for supply chain purposes like Foxconn and Pegatron, change is harder to enforce.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Huge California Solar Power PV Plant Goes Online, DOE Says Told You So

on February 09, 2015 at 3:15 PMjewel solar 15U.S. Department of the Interior Sec. Sally Jewell at Desert Sunlight. Photo credit: Tami A. Heilemann.

Desert Sunlight is online and the U.S. Department of Energy has dropped the mic.
The world-record-tying 550-megawatt photovoltaic solar plant in Southern California,formally dedicated on Monday, is the last of the big PV plants supported through the DOE’s loan guarantee program, the one that Republicans love to malign but which keeps showingsolid results.
Not only did the LPO back the country’s first five 100-MW-plus PV plants, but in doing so the program opened the door to a wave of utility-scale PV projects that didn’t require similar public support, the DOE said in a report issued Monday [PDF].

“The initial investments made by LPO built a market that subsequently financed an additional 17 PV projects larger than 100 MW in the United States – all financed without DOE loan guarantee,” the DOE said.
danko doe solar
Source: DOE
Whether it was worth the public investment or not might be debatable, and there are those who fear the impact of these big plants on a fragile desert environment. But there’s no doubting that the loan program accomplished exactly what it was intended to do when it was enacted under President George W. Bush and then pursued with vigor under President Barack Obama.
The DOE acknowledged that the 30 percent solar Investment Tax Credit, extended in 2008 through 2016, had set the stage for the building boom. California’s renewable portfolio standard was driving interest in utility-scale solar, as well – three of the DOE’s Big Five are in California and the other two, in Arizona, send power to Golden State utilities.
It also didn’t hurt when the 2009 stimulus temporarily transformed the ITC into a cash grant, a direct payment to developers once their project was up and running.
Add it all up and, the DOE said, “By 2009, the pipeline for utility-scale PV solar projects had reached more than 6,000 MW in announced projects, including several greater than 100 MW capacity. Project sponsors were prepared to invest equity and had signed long-term agreements with electric utilities to purchase the power, but could not get commercial lenders to provide all of the loans necessary to fully finance construction of the projects.”
Enter the loan program, and watch the building boom unfold. From 22 MW of utility-solar in 2008, “In total, over 8,100 MW of utility-scale PV solar (has) been installed in the United States through the first three quarters of 2014,” the DOE said.
Along the way, the stuff has gotten cheaper. Way cheaper.
“Between 2008 and 2014, the cost of power purchase agreements (PPAs) – effectively the price a utility pays a solar power plant for its energy – for utility-scale PV solar projects has decreased by more than 60%,” the DOE said. “In the first half of 2014, PPA prices ranged between $50 and $70 per megawatt-hour, down from 2008 averages of nearly $175.”
Still, for all the DOE’s bow-taking, there is one unanswered question: What might happen to big solar if the Investment Tax Credit drops from 30 percent to 10 percent come 2017, as the law now holds? The trade group Solar Energy Industries Association is pushing hard to prevent that, suggesting that the decrease would severely crimp growth.
But that view isn’t universal, even among solar advocates. Last month, solar entrepreneur Jigar Shah told Breaking Energy that solar has come far enough that simply changing the ITC to allow programs under construction before the end of 2016 to qualify – and doing that soon, to avoid uncertainty – will be enough to keep the market rolling for years to come.