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India to respond to US WTO notice on domestic sourcing rules under National Solar Mission

solar energy

India has said it will respond to the United States’ notice challenging the domestic sourcing requirement in its National Solar Mission in 10 days’ time as stipulated under the rules of the World Trade Organization.

The US, on Wednesday, filed an official dispute against India at the WTO claiming that the domestic sourcing rules flouted global trade norms. It has asked for consultations with India on the matter.

“Our Mission in Geneva has been delivered a notice under Dispute Settlement Understanding that the US has sought a consultation in respect to domestic content policy of National Solar Mission. According to the laid-down procedure, India has to respond within 10 days. We have received the notice and will respond within the prescribed time period,” said Rajiv Kher, Additional Secretary, Commerce Department.

On the basis of the consultations that the US has with India, it will decide whether it wants to take the dispute further by asking for a dispute settlement panel to settle the issue.

India’s national solar program required solar energy producers to use Indian-manufactured solar cells and modules, which in fact put foreign solar products at a disadvantaged position. India has favoured its own solar products since Jan 11, 2010, when it launched national solar program. India also promises solar energy developers participating in the program that the government will buy a certain amount of solar power at a highly subsidized tariff rate, provided that they use Indian made solar equipment instead of imports.

Consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process. Under WTO rules, if the matter is not resolved through consultations within 60 days, the accuser may request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel.

The US has now placed six complaints against India at the WTO, and while India has eight against America.

IEA Report: Renewable Energy to See Huge Growth Over Next 5 Years

solar energy

Renewable energy will be even more popular over the coming years, according to a new International Energy Agency report.

Over the next five years, the report predicts a 40% increase in the generation of energy from renewable sources worldwide. If that comes to pass, then renewables would generate 1.5 times the amount of energy currently produced in the United States.

“Renewable energy is expanding rapidly as technologies mature, with deployment transitioning from support-driven markets to new and potentially more competitive segments in many countries,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said.

Of all the renewable energy sources, the IEA report predicts solar power to see some of the biggest increases. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar is the most abundant renewable energy resource worldwide.

Solar power already shows signs of unprecedented growth in the United States. The Wall Street Journal reported that twice as many solar panels will be installed this year as last year. Part of the reason for this expected growth is a decrease in the price of panels.

Solar energy is readily available regardless of location, as all 50 states have enough sunlight to generate power for between 850 to 1,200 houses, according to the Energy Department.

Additionally, the price of installing solar panels has fallen dramatically over the past two years, and this trend is expected to continue. The price of a solar panel on average dropped by about 50% over the past year, according to GTM Research.

Government tax credits help explain some of the drop, as federal incentives account now for about 30% of the price of a solar panel, according to the WSJ. In addition, some states offer additional tax credits to drive the cost down even further.

On top of it all, rising prices on fuels such as oil have renewed interest in solar power for diverse uses, including residential electricity and solar water heating. According to a Harris Interactive poll last year, more than half of respondents placed energy conservation as one of their concerns.

Solar is well positioned as an alternative to fossil fuels, as it is readily available and can provide both electricity and heat. Perhaps this is why the poll showed that more than 75% thought the benefits of solar power outweighed any potential risk.

Japan approves renewable subsidies

renewable subsidies

Japan has approved incentives for renewable energy that could unleash billions of dollars in clean-energy investment and help the world’s third-biggest economy shift away from a reliance on nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster.

Industry Minister Yukio Edano approved the introduction of feed-in tariffs (FIT), which means higher rates will be paid for renewable energy. The move could expand revenue from renewable generation and related equipment to more than $30 Bn by 2016, brokerage CLSA estimates.

The subsidies from July 1 are one of the few certainties in Japan’s energy landscape, where the government has gone back to the drawing board to write a power policy after the Fukushima radiation crisis, the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

The push for renewables is aimed at cutting reliance on not only nuclear, but pricey oil and liquefied natural gas for energy needs.

The scheme requires Japanese utilities to buy electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal at pre-set premiums for up to 20 years. Costs will be passed on to consumers through higher bills.

Utilities will pay 42 yen (53 U.S. cents) per kilowatt hour (kwh) for solar-generated electricity, double the tariff offered in Germany and more than three times that paid in China.

Wind power will be subsidized at least 23.1 yen per kwh, compared with as low as 4.87 euro cents (6 U.S. cents) in Germany.

Subsidies have spurred explosive growth in renewable energy in countries such as Germany, which has nearly tripled its output in less than a decade.

Still, Japan’s aim to accelerate investment in safer, cleaner and self-sufficient energy is starting from a low base: renewable sources apart from large hydro-electric dams account for only 1% of power supply in Japan.

Nuclear power accounted for almost 30% of Japan’s electricity supply before an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year triggered the Fukushima disaster.

About 60% came from oil, coal and gas, but that share has risen to almost 90% as safety concerns led to all of Japan’s 50 reactors being shut. The rest of Japan’s electricity comes mostly from hydro.

The government estimates capacity from renewable energy will increase to 22,000 megawatts by the end of March 2013, up from 19,500 MW now, with 2,000 MW of that from solar panels.

But Japan has huge potential to generate renewable energy from the sun, wind and geothermal, analysts say.

CLSA Asia-Pacific predicts solar capacity will jump to about 19 gigawatts by 2016 from about 5 GW or less now, while wind capacity may reach 7.6 GW in four years.

Indian Govt. Revised 2020 Renewable Energy Targets From 6 to 15%

solar energy

India’s Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy has announced the increase of the country’s 2020 renewable energy targets, from 6 to 15%.

At the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), held in Ireland’s capital, Dublin, Farooq Abdullah additionally said that an action plan has been developed, which lays the ground for 30 GW of renewable energy generation by 2017. He said that renewables already account for 12% of India’s total installed energy capacity.

In terms of solar, a target of 20 GW of grid connected and two GW of off-grid has been set, under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Solar Mission, as is already known. Currently, India is just shy of hitting an installed solar capacity of one GW.

Under India’s reverse bidding auction, which has attracted criticism, due to the low bids offered, Farooq Abdullah said that solar electricity prices have fallen from US$0.35/kWh to under $0.17/kWh in the last year. He added that approximately 1.1 million Indian households are already using solar lighting solutions.

Overall, continued the minister, wind accounts for the lion’s share of renewable energy in India, with a reported installed capacity of 17 GW. “Surplus biomass material could also potentially be used to generate about 20 GW of power,” he added.

Outlining the challenges facing the global renewable energy market – investment and technology – he said that India will need an investment of “at least” $50 billion over the next five years.

REaction 2012 – Conference on renewable energy from July 26, 2012

REaction 2012

With the cost of power generated using diesel at over Rs.50,000 crore every year for Indian industry and set to only go up, it is imperative to switch over to renewable energy sources.

Seeking to convey this message, organisers of the upcoming ‘REaction 2012,’ a two-day conference on D2R (diesel to renewable), said use of the fuel for power generation remained a major concern for almost every industry. Besides the high cost, of over Rs.15 per kWh, diesel is dirty, non-renewable and its price is dependent on the volatile Middle East.

The conference, being organised by Energy Alternatives India (EAI) here from July 26, would create awareness about the renewable alternatives and showcase how solar PV (photovoltaic), solar thermal, biomass, organic waste, fuel cells and biofuels could partially or fully replace diesel.

A shift from diesel to renewable energy was happening but required a greater push, EAI Director Narasimhan Santhanam said. The participants would include experts from Indian and global renewable energy and clean technology sectors, technology solutions providers and banks, private equity companies and venture capital firms.

Editor of Panchabuta Vineeth Vijayaraghavan said the shift from diesel was not at the desired pace more on account of the mindset than technical challenges. Indo-French Chamber of Commerce & Industry Regional Director Merlin Sarah Simon said the chamber was partnering the EAI for the event.

China to spend US$27 Bn on energy conservation and renewables

China renewables

China’s central government plans to spend US$27 Bn this year to promote energy conservation, emission reductions and renewable energy, the Ministry of Finance said.

The ministry said China plans to promote more use of energy-saving products and low or no-emission power generation such as solar and wind. It also wants to accelerate the development of renewable energy, as well as energy-saving technologies, such as electric and hybrid cars.

China is the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2), followed by the United States.

A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Thursday said China spurred a jump in global CO2 emissions to their highest ever recorded level in 2011, offsetting falls in the United States and Europe.

However, its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, or its carbon intensity, fell by 15% between 2005 and 2011, the IEA said, suggesting the world’s second-largest economy was finding less carbon-consuming ways to fuel growth.

Longer term, China is targeting cuts to its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45% compared with 2003 levels and aims to boost its use of renewable energy to 15% of overall energy consumption.

Renewable energy investments increased 5% to $260bn in 2011

renewable

A report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance said that a sluggish economy did not hamper investments in new clean energy projects as they increased 5% to $260Bn in 2011, a record high.

U.S. investments in renewable energy moved ahead of China for the first time since 2008, according to the latest data. U.S. projects saw an investment of $55.9Bn in 2011, up 33% from 2010. China’s investments increased 1% to $47.4Bn.

“The news that the US jumped back into the lead in clean energy investment last year will reassure those who worried that it was falling behind other countries,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “However before anyone in Washington celebrates too much, the US figure was achieved thanks in large part to support initiatives such as the federal loan guarantee program and a Treasury grant program which have now expired.”

In 2011, investments in solar technology increased 36% to $136.6Bn, nearly double the $74.9Bn investment in wind power, which was down 17% from 2010. Biomass and waste-to-energy investments decreased 18% to $10.8Bn, geothermal dropped from $3.2Bn to $2.8Bn, small hydro decreased 25% to $3Bn and investments in marine technology were steady at $0.3Bn.

“The performance of solar is even more remarkable when you consider that the price of photovoltaic modules fell by close to 50% during 2011, and now stands 75% lower than three years ago, in mid-2008,” Liebreich said. “The cost of PV technology has fallen, but the volume of PV sold has increased by a much greater factor as it approached competitiveness with other sources of power.”

The previous year also saw the one trillionth dollar invested globally in renewables since 2004. The largest single type of investment was the asset finance of utility-scale renewable energy projects, which increased from a revised $138.3Bn in 2010 to $145.6Bn in 2011.

Venture capital and private equity investment saw an increase of 4% in 2011 to $8.9Bn.

To read the full report, Renewable Investments 2011.

Suzlon Energy Signs MoU With AP Govt For 3,000mw Power Projec

suzlon logo

Suzlon Energy, has signed a MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government for setting up of capacities to generate about 3,000 mw of wind power till 2016. The proposal entails an investment of about Rs18,000 crore.

Under the MoU, which was signed at the recent Partnership Summit in Hyderabad, the state government will facilitate Suzlon in obtaining necessary permissions, registrations, approvals and clearances for the development of wind farms in the state.

Suzlon, in turn, will play the role of a developer and facilitate the channelisation of investments into the state from its customers investing in wind energy.

Tulsi Tanti, chairman, Suzlon Group, said, “This not only reinforces Andhra Pradesh’s position as one of India’s emerging markets in wind energy, but also illustrates their commitment to power a low-carbon economy by embracing progressive policies to power rapidly growing economy of the state.”

The agreement covers the development planned in the districts of Tallimadugula, Alankarayanipeta, Gandikota, Vajrakarur, Tirumalayapalli and other parts of Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh is a key emerging wind market in the country, with medium to low wind sites ideally suited to Suzlon’s new S9X suite of turbines.

The state government, according to sources, is keen on making use of the proposal to develop a model for setting up of renewable energy sources and focus on developing clusters of wind and solar farms.

Suzlon planning new wind project in south Australia

renewable subsidies

Wind Power ProjectWind power company Suzlon Energy is planning a USD 1.3 Bn project in regional South Australia to power 225,000 homes a year.

Suzlon Energy Australia said the USD 1.3 Bn wind farm will be built 20 kilometres South-West of Ardrossan, a small town on the East Coast of the Yorke Peninsula.

It said up to 180 turbines will generate 600 Mw of energy and deliver power to 225,000 homes in Adelaide via an undersea cable.

The project is expected to create 500 construction jobs and 50 ongoing jobs will be completed by the end of 2015, it said.

Suzlon Energy Australia Commercial Director Chris Judd said the company was approached by local landowners last year to develop the project.

“It’s basically been a landowner-developed project and this has been a dream of theirs for over seven years now, so the beauty of this project is that it does come with some seven years of homework and data, etc, behind it to help justify its economics,” he said.

Suzlon is also involved with wind farm projects at Hallett, North of Adelaide.

Premier Mike Rann said the Yorke Peninsula proposal will add to South Australia’s green credentials.

It was reported that Rann met with the company, the biggest wind turbine supplier in India and the world’s fifth-largest, during a trade trip to the South Asian nation earlier this month, where he stated that Suzlon had “really been helping us in generating wind power”.

US Approves Blythe Solar Power Project

Solar Project

The biggest solar project that plans to provide power to more than 3,00,000 homes in southern California was permitted by the US interior department.

approval for blythe solar energy project

The US$6 Bn, 1,000MW project, a joint venture of Solar Millennium AGand Ferrostaal AG, will be located on federal lands near Blythe, in the southern tip of California.

“The Blythe Solar Power Project is a major milestone in our nation’s renewable energy economy and shows that the United States intends to compete and lead in the technologies of the future,” said US interior secretary Ken Salazar.

This the 6th solar power project approved by the department in the last few weeks, which together have the potential to generate 2,800 MW of electricity, enough to power 2 million homes.

The project will consist of four concentrated solar electric generation facilities that would equal to the generation capacity of a large natural gas or coal-fired power plant.

Rows of curved mirrors up to 192m long will collect heat energy from the sun. The project will have thousands of mirrors lined up on the desert floor.

The project will be built in four units of 250MW each. The first 250MW should be up and running in 2013 and the second one in 2014.

Project’s operators expect approval from the Energy Department by the end of the year for a loan guarantee to cover 75 to 80% of the estimated US$3 Bn cost for the first units of the project.

The solar project, once fully operational, is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 1 MMTPA, which is equivalent to removing 1,45,000 cars off the highway.