Renewable Energy News Bites

Wind Energy

The Obama administration has decided not to allow a Chinese company to acquire four US-based wind farms because they are all near or within restricted air space at a naval training facility in Oregon.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, chaired by the Treasury Department, has the authority to review foreign investments in the US as a matter of national security. The committee recommended the investment be denied.

Obama ordered Ralls to remove all property and installations from its sites within two weeks and divest all its interests in the wind-farm project within 90 days, reports Bloomberg.

Ralls is suing, claiming the order violates its constitutional rights – although it’s owned by two executives of Sany Group – China’s largest machinery manufacturer, it is incorporated in Delaware. "The project poses no national security threat whatsoever, and the President’s order offers no explanation otherwise," Tim Xia, counsel for Ralls, told The Hill. "The President’s order is without justification, as scores of other wind turbines already operate in the area where Ralls’s project is located.

Meanwhile, the first large-scale South Korean-owed wind farm in the US opened in Oklahoma. The Novus wind farm will be run by Korea South-East Power Co. (KOSEP), a division of the state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp.

The 40-turbine farm consists of turbines made by DeWind Co., a U.S. affiliate of South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.

Solar News

US: Semprius, which makes concentratingr solar PV modules, is opening its first production facility in North Carolina, with plans to hire 250 people over the next few years. 

The company boasts solar conversion rates of 33.9% using solar cells the size of a pencil dot!

SoloPower is also opening its first manufacturing plant – in Oregon. It makes a lightweight, flexible CIGS solar panel that’s designed specifically for commercial and industrial roofs that can’t bear the weight of traditionally heavy glass solar panels. The company says its panels are also inexpensive to install.

The opening of the factory is one of the benchmarks it has to meet to tap a $197 million loan guarantee from the now notorious Department of Energy program. 

Thailand: The biggest solar plant in Southeast Asia has opened in Thailand, the 44 MW "Sunny Bangchak" plant.

It uses Suntech’s solar panels, was built by Solartron, and is owned by Bangchak Public Petroleum. It’s about 40 kilometers from Bangkok.

Thailand’s target is to get 20% of its electricity from renewables by 2022. This project should reduce the need for 40,000 tons of coal imports a year.

China: China is moving forward on its commitment to have 21 GW of solar installed by 2015, by requiring every province to detail by mid-October how they will increase the amount of solar they use by then.

"Filtering that national target down to the provincial level is important, as it is the only way solar farm operators will actually get their projects built and connected to the grid," Charles Yonts, a solar analyst with brokerage CLSA, told Reuters.

It will also further prop up its struggling solar manufacturers, such as Suntech, which just got a bridge loan.

After 2015, the government plans to accelerate solar development much more when it begins carbon trading. It’s aiminng for 50 GW of solar in 2020 – that’s mind-numbing considering the country has just 3.6 GW now.

China’s Hanergy is buying California-based thin-film company Miasole for a mere $30 million. The company raised $55 million earlier this year, and $400-$500 million over its short life. The company ran out of money developing its CIGS solar process, but couldn’t find more investments.

Hanergy is involved in solar manufacturing and installation, and wind and hydro in China. It also purchased Q-Cells thin-film subsidiary Solibro, which gives it a presence in Europe. 

Japan: As part of its overall corporate restructuring to attempt to return to profitability, Sharp Corp is closing three solar manufacturing plants in Japan and will no longer produce or make solar components/ panels for the US and European markets. It’s also selling solar developer Recurrent Energy. The company long led the solar industry as the largest panel manufacturer. 

The company plans to cut over 10,000 jobs – about 18% of its workforce, reports Bloomberg. 

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