Energy Industry

August 12, 2013

California still leads the nation in wind power generation

California still leads the nation in wind power generation, but the rest of the country is catching up with wind farms for energy, according to reports released by the U.S. Department of Energy.

According to a report in the Sacramento Business Journal, the nation’s wind power capacity rose above 60 gigawatts in 2012, which is enough to power 15 million homes. In 2012 California installed 1,656 megawatts of new wind power capacity bringing the to more than 5,540 megawatts. California generates about 7 percent of its electricity from wind farms.

California led the nation in development of wind farms for 20 years and it wasn’t until 1994 that the first utility wind farm outside of California opened in southern Minnesota at a time when California had 53 wind farms statewide.

The Department of Energy report estimated that the wind power industry now employs more than 80,000 American workers in engineering and construction and that 72 percent of the wind turbine equipment installed in the U.S. in 2012 was manufactured in the U.S. The full report can be found at at this link:

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January 11, 2010

California company signs huge deal for solar power plants in China

Pasadena-based eSolar Inc. has signed a deal with a Chinese electric equipment manufacturer to build solar thermal power plants throughout China.  The agreement between eSolar and China Shandong Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing Co. calls for eSolar to provide the technology and information to build solar farms with a capacity totaling 2,000 megawatts over the next decade.  The first plant will have a 92 megawatts capacity and will be built in 2010 in the Mongolian desert in northern Chinanorthern China at the Yulin Alternative Energy Park.  Plans are for the solar thermal power plants to be co-located with biomass facilities, the companies said in a press release.

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October 6, 2009

Apple leaves U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Apple Inc. has quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because the group has been too critical of proposed steps to cut pollution. This seems like a good move. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents many of the really huge Corporations in the U.S., but has never shown any real interest in small business concerns, or in the rest of our society for that matter. As reported in San Francisco Business Times:

The Cupertino computer and popular electronics business is just one of several businesses, including Nike Inc. and PG&E Corp., that have criticized the chamber’s stance. Nike resigned from the chamber’s board of directors but stayed as a member of the group. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce criticized proposed “cap-and-trade” legislation passed by the House of Representatives and due to come before the Senate. Apple’s vice president of worldwide government affairs, Catherine Novelli, sent a letter to Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the chamber, in which she said, “We would prefer that the Chamber take a more progressive stance on this critical issue.”

Filed under Business Associations, Energy Industry, Environment and Climate, Opinion by

September 5, 2009

Chevron to work with USAID on Angola’s economic development

Chevron Corp. will work with USAID and another group to support economic development in Angola. The San Ramon-based oil giant will work with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Cooperative League of the United States of America (CLUSA) on this project. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton witnessed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the project in Angola’s capital, Luanda. The partnership is intended to support financial, educational, technical and training services to improve the viability of small and medium scale farmers in the southern African state. According to Chevron spokesman Scott Walker, the MOU is an extension to the $56 million Angola Partnership Initiative, created in 2002. The new MOU focuses on agricultural initiatives to increase yield and market share for small to medium scale farmers. Chevron didn’t disclose how much funding it will provide for the program, but itsoil interests in Angola include the Tombua-Landana Project, which is projected to achieve peak production of 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day as of 2011. Read the full story here.

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February 12, 2009

Worlds Largest Solar Deal?

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that a recent agreement between BrightSource Energy – developer of seven large solar plants planned for the California desert, and Southern California Edison may be the “world’s largest solar deal”:

Solar power’s explosive growth in California may have been stunted by the credit crisis and the recession, but the boom isn’t over yet.  In what could be the world’s largest solar deal to date, BrightSource Energy of Oakland announced Wednesday that it will sell Southern California Edison 1,300 megawatts of electricity from seven large solar plants planned for the California desert. That’s enough juice to light 845,000 homes, and it easily eclipses other recent deals signed by utilities here and abroad that are trying to expand their use of renewable power.  “It’s a significant statement by Southern California Edison in their commitment to renewable energy and BrightSource’s technology,” said John Woolard, BrightSource’s chief executive officer. “America and California have long called for clean renewable energy, and we look forward to working with Southern California Edison to meet this need.”  Full story here

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January 20, 2009

Stanford announces $100 million energy institute

Stanford University has received $100 million to create a new energy institute where scholars can study everything from solar cells to energy markets and economics, according to a report in Mercury News:

The institute will expand Stanford’s role in energy research and national energy policy. It will consolidate Stanford’s existing energy-focused efforts onto one site — and allow the hiring of new faculty, support additional graduate students and offer seed money for major research projects
The donations came from three alumni who said they were motivated by the desire to protect the environment from greenhouse gases, improve energy efficiency and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.  Oil and gas executive Jay Precourt donated $50 million to create what will be called the Precourt Institute for Energy. Farallon Capital Management partner Thomas Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, gave $40 million to create a new research center within that institute, the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy. The final $10 million came from other donors.

“These generous gifts will help us overcome the enormous challenges that we are facing in energy research,” Stanford President John Hennessy said at a Monday news conference. “It will create an independent institute for researchers on campus and around the world.” The new institute will be directed Lynn Orr, professor of energy resources engineering and director of Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project. He plans to pull together 136 faculty members in 21 departments to create interdisciplinary projects. Other recent gifts from alumni include a $75 million pledge in 2007 by Jerry Yang, co-founder and a director of the Internet search engine Yahoo and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki. Of that, $50 million was used to build the Environment and Energy Building, which will house the new Precourt Institute for Energy. In 2006, Stanford University trustee Ward Woods and his wife, Priscilla, committed $30 million for what is now named the Woods Institute for the Environment. The energy institute will work in tandem with Woods’ environmental researchers; the two are in the same building.

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November 24, 2008

California announces electric car network partnership

California and Bay Area Officials have announced plans for a $1 billion network of electric car recharging stations for the San Francisco Bay area highways with a goal of greatly expand the number of electric vehicles on the road. A private company – Palo Alto-based “Better Place” along with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed announced the deal, which sets out to install charging stations in homes, businesses, parking lots and government buildings by 2012. The company said it will also build mechanized battery swapping centers where robots will remove and replace the batteries in cars that are compatible with the system. These stations will allow electric car drivers to travel longer distances without recharging.

The initiative would make the Bay Area the first region in the U.S. to create an electric car network.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday supported the deal, which the company hopes to someday take statewide. “This type of public-private partnership is exactly what I envisioned when we created the first-ever low carbon fuel standard and when the state enacted the zero emissions vehicle program,” Schwarzenegger said in statement. “This partnership is proof that by working together, we can achieve our goals of creating a healthier planet while boosting our economy at the same time.”

The company also unveiled a prototype electric Nissan Rogue SUV, the second prototype developed
under Better Place’s partnership with automakers. Better Place has already struck similar deals with Israel, Denmark and Australia to create electric vehicle infrastructure in those countries.

“We put in the infrastructure, and the big carmakers make the electric cars for us,” said Joe Paluska, the company’s head of policy and communications. “This is an opportunity for California to apply its strength in technology and innovation to Michigan’s manufacturing might,” he said. “We now
need a strong national policy set by the new administration to help the U.S. revive its auto industry and it’s economy.” Until now, the knock on most electric vehicles is that they were prohibitively
expensive because the batteries cost $10,000 or more. Paluska said the new prototype vehicles solve that problem — the replaceable batteries in the prototype cars would be owned by the company, not the consumer. Better Place would charge drivers a subscription fee to use its recharging facilities.

As their part of the deal, the mayors vowed to help streamline local permitting and regulations to hasten the installation of hookups in the region, and to provide incentives for local businesses to install charging outlets for employees. “Our goal is to make the Bay Area — and eventually California — the electric-vehicle capital of the world,” Newsom said.

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August 14, 2008

Chevron will sell 2,000 Texaco stations in Brazil

San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. will sell 2,000 Texaco gas stations and some related businesses in Brazil for about $730 million. As reported in San Francisco Business Times:

Chevron agreed to sell the businesses to Ultrapar Participações S.A., based in São Paulo. The deal requires separating out Chevron’s lubricant and oil exploration businesses, which aren’t included in the deal. The separation will take until early 2009, according to Ultrapar. Pedro Wongtschowski is CEO of Ultrapar. The company will pay the price, which is subject to a working capital adjustment, out of its cash reserves.

Ultrapar is licensing the Texaco brand name for up to five years, during which time it will phase in the use of its own Ipiranga brand name. In this deal it will also get some equity in terminal operations. Texaco is the No. 4 fuel brand in Brazil by sales volume, with sales of about 120,000 barrels per day.

Filed under Brazil, Energy Industry, Mergers and Acquisitions by

March 10, 2008

Chevron launches new gas project in Australia

As reported in the International Herold Tribune, Chevron Chevron Corp. has announced plans to develop a liquefied natural gas export venture based on its Wheatstone field off northwestern Australia. The facility will be built on the northwest coast of mainland Australia, the company said, ruling out a location on Barrow Island, the nearby site of Chevron’s Gorgon LNG venture with Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Exxon Mobil Corp. There is still uncertainty as to when Chevron and its partners will approve Gorgon, which would be Australia’s biggest resource development, the Tribune reported, and there have been been persistent speculation of dissent among the joint venture partners as costs on that project continue to rise. Wheatstone, in contrast, is much smaller, with Chevron planning to tap an estimated 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. A Chevron team of roughly 100 people will conduct further appraisal drilling on both Wheatstone and the adjacent Iago field this year, along with design studies and site evaluation.

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February 25, 2008

Texas passes California in wind power

According to the New York Times Texas surpassed California as the top wind farm state in 2006. In January alone, new wind farms representing $700 million of investment went into operation in Texas, supplying power sufficient for 100,000 homes:

Texas, once the oil capital of North America, is rapidly turning into the capital of wind power. After breakneck growth the last three years, Texas has reached the point that more than 3 percent of its electricity, enough to supply power to one million homes, comes from wind turbines.

Texans are even turning tapped-out oil fields into wind farms, and no less an oilman than Boone Pickens is getting into alternative energy. “I have the same feelings about wind,” Mr. Pickens said in an interview, “as I had about the best oil field I ever found.” He is planning to build the biggest wind farm in the world, a $10 billion behemoth that could power a small city by itself….

Much of the boom in the United States is being driven by foreign power companies with experience developing wind projects, including Iberdrola of Spain, Energias de Portugal and Windkraft Nord of Germany. Foreign companies own two-thirds of the wind projects under construction in Texas.

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February 11, 2008

BTAnnounces Solar Energy System for California Headquarters

Press release: HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, will join BT today to announce the ground-breaking of a renewable energy initiative at BT’s office complex in Southern California. Next month, BT will begin construction of a solar photovoltaic system for its North American corporate headquarters site in the City of El Segundo (Los Angeles County). Once the system is fully operational by late summer, BT expects to reduce carbon emissions by 642,000 pounds (more than 290 metric tons) annually as well as decrease its overall power costs for the site in future years. HRH Prince Andrew, the United Kingdom’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, commented, “British companies continue to demonstrate their interest and investment in the United States and in solutions to help reduce the impact of climate change.” He continued, “I commend BT for its leadership in producing significant renewable energy solutions in the UK. With this solar project, BT extends its environmental consciousness to its operations in the U.S.”

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December 14, 2007

Ausra to mass-produce solar thermal collectors

Ausra, the Palo Alto-based solar thermal company that just last month announced plans to build a 177-megawatt solar installation in California, is now in the process of launching a new business arm, mass producing its own flat-mirrored solar collectors. As reported in VentureBeat, it’s begun construction on a Las Vegas facility that it says will churn out enough solar collectors each year to produce 700 megawatts of energy. Ausra plans to have the 130,000 square foot plant completed as early as April 2008

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October 3, 2007

Sempra Wins $172M in dispute with Argentine gas companies

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, D.C., has awarded Sempra Energy $172 million according to a report in the San Diego Business Journal. The award was to settle a 2002 dispute involving the company’s 43 percent ownership in two Argentine natural gas holding companies. “We hope that the government of Argentina will honor its legal obligations as we seek immediate enforcement of the award,” said Javade Chaudhri, executive vice president and general counsel for Sempra. Sempra had the interest in Sodigas Pampeana and Sodigas Sur. In a statement, Sempra says the dispute involved its efforts to recover the utilities’ diminution in value that occurred as a result of measures taken by the Argentine government in 2002.

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September 13, 2007

California Biodiesel industry starts trade group

Biodiesel industry leaders have created the California Biodiesel Alliance, a new not-for-profit trade association to promote increased use and production of high quality, renewable biodiesel fuel in California, according to a report in Central Valley Business Times. The founding members of the group is are biodiesel feedstock suppliers, producers, fuel marketers and distributors, technology providers, fuel retailers, consumers, and advocates. “We’re inviting industry and members of the public to join us in unleashing the power of the biodiesel market here in California,” says Alliance Chairman Eric Bowen of Tellurian Biodiesel.

Filed under Agriculture and Food, Business Associations, Energy Industry by

June 7, 2007

Tioga Energy gets $10M to offer more solar power

Tioga Energy, a Sunnyvale, Calif. company that wants to makes solar power financing easier for mid-sized businesses, has raised $10 million in a first round of venture financing, according to BlogForward.  

It is just the latest of several players entering the hot solar market to make it easier for companies to buy solar power. Chief executive Paul Detering says the market is so robust that new players focusing on a niche should have no problem attracting customers. Tioga’s niche is solar installations of 50 to 500 kilowatts — which are mid-sized projects. Tioga seeks to partner with solar installation companies. Leading the investments were venture capital groups NGEN Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Rockport Capital, DFJ Frontier and Kirlan Ventures.  Competitors include SunEdison, which focuses on larger installations, MMA Renewable Ventures and Recurrent Energy

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June 1, 2007

California Clean Energy Fund to host conference

Press release:

The California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) announced today it will host a full-day conference designed to assess California’s progress in turning clean energy policy initiatives and technology breakthroughs into market realities. Titled “The New Economy of New Energy — California’s Path to a Clean Energy Future,” the conference will take place on Monday, June 18, and consist of sessions comprised of policy, technology and finance experts providing progress reports and detailing specific ways in which public policy and the private market are both working and struggling to bring clean technologies to scale. Keynoting the event will be Dan Reicher, Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives at, and Elon Musk, Chairman of Tesla Motors and Solar City and founder of PayPal. “Because we are on the cutting edge of all aspects of clean energy development, with the eyes of the world upon us, it is key that California’s policy makers, technology innovators and financial backers come together to take a serious look at the progress we are making in reaching our aggressive goals,” said Michael R. Peevey, CalCEF Chairman and California Public Utilities Commission President. “Just as important is taking a hard look at the tough road still ahead and engaging in a frank discussion that tackles the challenges we face. In critically assessing both our progress to date and the road ahead, CalCEF can help ensure that California remains the bellwether in this burgeoning and extremely important market.”

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May 25, 2007

Nation’s largest farm-based solar plant opens in Central Valley

Paramount Farms Inc. of Los Angeles, known for its massive production and marketing of pistachios and almonds, has a new crop today – the Central Valley’s sunlight.  According to a report in Central Valley Business Times, it has switched on what it calls the largest farm-based solar power plant in the nation.  The 1.1 megawatt, $7.5 million solar energy plant is near Lost Hills in western Kern County.  It’s expected to supply about 15 percent of the energy that the company’s nut processing facility uses each year.  “Paramount Farms … is committed to a balanced green strategy, one that utilizes clean energy to reduce costs and improve efficiency,” says Dave Szeflin, vice president of operations for Paramount Farms.  The plant was built and installed by SolarCraft Services Inc. of Novato.  According to Chris Bunas, vice president of SolarCraft, the 1.1 megawatt plant is expected to generate enough clean electricity each day to power about 300 average homes, cutting nearly 2,600 tons of harmful greenhouse gases annually.  Paramount Farms, a unit of privately held Roll International Corp., grows pistachios on 30,000 acres — the largest in the Western Hemisphere and is California’s largest almond grower, with more than 40,000 acres of permanent almond orchards.

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May 16, 2007

California sues Bush administration over fuel standards

“Monday California sued the Bush administration for “illegally adopting ‘dangerously misguided’ gas mileage rules. In a lawsuit backed by 11 states, the suit alleges that the Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new mileage standards violate federal law by ignoring both the environment environmental impact on oil use and the country’s growing dependence on imported oil. “After years of neglect, it is unconscionable to increase vehicle mileage standards by only one mile per gallon,” said California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. outside the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case was argued Monday. “We are asking the court to reject this dangerously misguided policy that exacerbates global warming and enriches foreign sponsors of terrorism.” “

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BP to Supply California Wal-Marts with Solar Power system

“BP Solar today announced it won a bid to develop 4.3 megawatts of solar energy systems for seven Wal-Mart Stores in California. Under the agreement, BP Solar will sell all of the energy produced by the solar modules as well as operate and maintain the systems. No upfront capital investment will be needed by Wal-Mart, a benefit BP Solar offers to its commercial customers under its solar services agreement. In addition, Wal-Mart will benefit from receiving all of the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the energy output of the systems. According to Lee Edwards, BP Solar CEO, ‘Momentum is building in the domestic and global marketplace and BP Solar is building market share through capital investment not only in manufacturing capacity but in innovative customer offers. This project will prove that solar electric systems are economical and environmentally friendly from a business perspective by increasing energy security and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. By working together, companies like BP and Wal-Mart help make solar more affordable for everyone.’”

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May 1, 2007

Silicon Valley Startup to Build World’s Largest Photovoltaic Solar Power Plant in Canada

“A solar power plant in the Great White North? Thin-film solar startup OptiSolar has signed a deal to build a 40-megawatt photovoltaic power station about 180 miles west of Toronto. The project, to be rolled out in 10-megawatt stages, will be – for the moment – the world’s largest PV power plant. Canada isn’t exactly known for its sunny skies but it does offer something solar power companies won’t find south of the border: a premium price for green electricity. The Ontario government will pay OptiSolar 42 (Canadian) cents a kilowatt hour – nearly 10 times the standard rate. In this case, Ontario signed a 20-year contract at that rate with OptiSolar’s Canadian subsidiary.”

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