Around the World: Renewable Energy News

Two more German solar manufacturers filed for bankruptcy, Soltecture and Sovello. 

They join what’s becoming a rather long, but anticipated list, as the industry consolidates: Q-Cells, Solar Trust, SolonSolar Millennium, Solyndra, Stirling Energy, Evergreen Solar, and SpectraWatt and Energy Conversion Devices.

In the early years, when Q-Cells, Evergreen Solar and Renewable Energy Corp were viewed as the powerhouse three, they formed Sovello as a joint venture. 

EU FiTs

In the face of job losses from Germany’s reeling solar industry, state governments voted to table cuts to the feed-in tariff (FiT) which went into effect in April. Though they probably won’t be repealed, the delay will help developers complete projects.

The same thing is happening in Italy, where regional authorities threaten to block FiT cuts unless changes are made to budget caps and the eligibility of projects, says Bloomberg New Energy Finance. They are reportedly likely to postpone the cuts until October.

Solar Projects

The largest concentrating solar photovoltaic (CPV) plant in the world and one of the first utility-scale CPV plants in the US has begun commercial operation. The 30 MW Alamosa Solar Generating plant in Colorado is built by Cogentrix Energy. The company received a $90.6 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

A controversial law that’s expected to be signed by California’s Governor would allow K Road Power’s proposed 663 MW Calico Solar plant to go forward over the objection of the local governments, which along with environmental groups, see it as an ecologically damaging project.

Under the bill, the developer can go directly to the California Energy Commission for approval.

The project faces a lawsuit by environmental groups and a Native American group which say Calico fails to meet basic environmental protection requirements and threatens imperiled wildlife. It would cover 4,000-plus-acres of vital wildlife habitat in the Mojave Desert’s Pisgah Valley.

In central China, Alex Solar plans to build a massive $1.7 billion,  1 GW solar plant that it will own, finance and operate.

And some of China’s biggest solar companies are opening offices in Japan, seeing as the next big opportunity, now that the country has a strong solar FiT.

Wind Projects

About 44 small wind farms – less than 20 MW – were built last year, in its best year ever. Community wind accounted fro 6.7% of all wind projects, up from 5.6% in 2010. It’s the fastest growing segment of the US wind industry, says the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Local residents can typically invest in community wind and are often involved in the development, says AWEA. The trade association considers projects as large as 100 MW "community wind" if local residents own at least 33%.

The Community Wind Act was introduced in the Senate last fall to provide an investment tax credit to small wind farms, which typically have higher costs.

Chile’s largest offshore wind farm, the 115 megawatt (MW) Parque Eolico El Arrayan, secured $245 million in financing.  Construction is underway and should be ready in early 2014.

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