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Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

RenewableEnergyWorld.com, January 29, 2009

irena_bonn_300On January 28, 2009, the launch of a long-planned international agency to promote the interests of renewable energy took place in Bonn, Germany. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will advise industrialized and developing nations on ways of reducing their dependency on oil, coal and gas.

The new agency aims to counterbalance existing bodies like the International Energy Agency in France and the nuclear–focused IRENA in Vienna. Founder countries signing up to the agreement include Germany, Denmark, Spain and the UAE. Some 55 governments have committed to full IRENA membership, with a total of 116 countries taking part. Significant absentees from full membership were USA and UK, although both administrations are expected to send officials to observe.

Speaking at the opening event, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the potential for renewable energies is huge, and needs more help to achieve a global breakthrough. “IRENA will be the new mouthpiece for renewable energies,” he said. 

The new organization aims to facilitate the transfer of renewable technologies to developing countries and encourage the widespread adoption of renewable energy.

There is expected to be competition for the host country for IRENA with Bonn and Abu Dhabi having already thrown their hats into the ring. Abu Dhabi is pushing itself forward as a hub for renewable energy research and development with the construction of the Masdar sustainable city, the announcement last week of a seven per cent renewable energy target by 2010, and the hosting of the World Future Energy Summit. Speaking at the Summit last week, Masdar CEO Dr Sultan Al Jabar said, “Abu Dhabi will express keen interest in hosting IRENA in Masdar city”.

German Member of Parliament and long-time proponent of a body to represent the interest of renewable energy, Hermann Sheer said, “Renewable energy’s potential has been underestimated in the past. This international organization will create a level playing field and help governments develop policies tailored to their own requirements.”

Thailand Energy Minister Wannarat Charnukul, who is attending the opening ceremony, last week welcomed the launch of IRENA. “We’ve confronted some problems with solar energy development in Thailand so we need some technology transfer from IRENA,” Wannaret said.

Germany, Spain and Denmark initially campaigned for the foundation of a renewable energy organization. The preliminary framework was drawn up in Madrid in October 2008.

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MendoCoastCurrent, January 31, 2009

On January 26, 2009, Lockheed Martin and Ocean Power Technologies agreed to work together to develop a commercial-scale wave energy project off the coasts of Oregon or California.

OPT is providing their expertise in project and site development as they build the plant’s power take-off and control systems with their PowerBuoy for electricity generation.  Lockheed will build, integrate and deploy the plant as well as provide operating and maintenance services. Lockheed and OPT have already worked together on maritime projects for the U.S. government.

Spanish utility Iberdrola is using OPT’s PowerBuoy on the Spainish coast in Santoña for first phase deployment, hoping to become the first commercial-scale wave energy device in the world.  In the Spainish project, Lockheed and Ocean Power are working toward an increased cost-performance of a power-purchasing agreement from which this U.S. wave energy project may benefit.

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MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press, January 22, 2009

laventosax-largeLa Ventosa, Mexico — On January 22, 2009 Mexico inaugurated one of the world’s largest wind farm projects as the nation looks for alternative energy, in part to compensate for falling oil production.   

Mexico is trying to exploit its rich wind and solar potential after relying almost exclusively on petroleum for decades. With oil production down by 9.2% in 2008, Mexico now is turning to foreign companies, mainly Spanish, to tap its renewable riches. 

“If we don’t do something about this problem of climate change it probably could become — I’m sure it already is — one of the biggest threats to humanity,” said President Felipe Calderon at the inaugural ceremony attended by about 1,000 residents, many of whom held on to their cowboy hats on this wind-swept day.

The new, $550 million project is in a region so breezy that the main town is named La Ventosa, or “Windy.” It’s on the narrow isthmus between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, where winds blow at 15 mph to 22 mph, a near-ideal rate for turbines. Gusts have been known to topple tractor trailers.

Spanish energy company Acciona Energia says the 6,180-acre farm should generate 250 megawatts of electricity with 167 turbines, 25 of which are already operating. The rest should be on line by the end of the year, making the project the largest of its kind in Latin America.

It will produce enough energy to power a city of 500,000 people, while reducing carbon monoxide emissions by 600,000 metric tons each year, according to the company.

Esteban Morras, Acciona board member, said the project could be just the start for Mexico.

“This country has great potential for wind development and should take advantage,” he said.

The project is also a joint venture with Cemex Inc. and will provide 25% of the Mexican cement giant’s energy needs, fulfilling the company’s goal of using alternative fuels.

Mexico hopes to boost the nation’s wind energy capacity, mainly at La Ventosa, to 5,000 megawatts — about 10 times its current output. Wind energy now accounts for less than 2% of electricity production.

Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel said the government is planning a series of wind projects that by 2012 should generate 2,500 megawatts of electricity.

“The intensity of wind in various parts of the country can make our plants among the most efficient in the world,” she said.

But the project hasn’t been welcomed by local residents, who say they see few benefits and aren’t being paid enough for use of their lands.

Several hundred protesters blocked a road leading to the site, holding a banner reading “no to the project.”

The mayor of Juchitan, the municipality where La Ventosa is located, attended the ceremony but called for more benefits for the local community.

“We want to be part of a project that does not consider us just cheap labor but property owners and partners,” Mariano Santana Lopez said.

Critics argue that foreign companies build the turbines, rent the land, run the project and produce the power for companies like U.S.-owned retailer Wal-Mart.

“They promise progress and jobs, and talk about millions in investment in clean energy from the winds that blow through our region,” a leftist farm group known as the Assembly in Defense of the Land said in a statement. “But the investments will only benefit businessmen, all the technology will be imported … and the power won’t be for local inhabitants.”

The group is calling on supporters to “defend the land we inherited from our ancestors.” But so far it hasn’t been able to stop the project.

Acciona, for its part, says the construction of the project created 850 jobs.

Local residents, largely Zapotec Indians, are accustomed to foreigners’ coveting their land. The United States demanded rights to transport goods over the isthmus in the 1850s, and foreigners tried to build a railway alternative to the Panama Canal there.

 

 

 

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NANEA KALANI, Pacific Business News, January 12, 2009

217835-0-0-1Honolulu-based Sopogy announced last week that it will build a 50-megawatt system in Toledo, Spain, using its proprietary technology in partnership with a German energy financier and a Spanish project developer. The system could generate enough electricity to power 15,000 homes.

Sopogy founder and CEO Darren Kimura said the Spanish project, expected to be completed by the end of 2010 and cost about $300 million, is part of the company’s plans to expand its presence abroad as the U.S. financial market wanes.

“For about a year now, Sopogy has felt that it’s necessary to diversify and become more global,” Kimura told PBN. “Because our technology offers higher production and lower capital costs, we’re looking for sites where our technology has the best value, and the best value today lies in the European market.”

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MendoCoastCurrent, December 15, 2008

opt2Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) recently reported quarterly financials and also recent developments:

– Deployed and tested a PowerBuoy off the coast of Spain under the wave power contract with Iberdrola

– Awarded $2.0 million from the US Department of Energy in support of OPT’s wave power project in Reedsport, Oregon

– Deployed and tested a PowerBuoy for the US Navy at a site off Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on the island of Oahu

– Ocean-tested 70 miles off the coast of New Jersey an autonomous PowerBuoy developed specifically for the US Navy’s ocean data gathering program

– Awarded $3.0 million contract from the US Navy for the second phase of their ocean data gathering program

– US Congress passes bill which provides for wave power to qualify for the US production tax credit

Dr. George Taylor, OPT’s CEO, said, “We have maintained the positive momentum with which we began the 2009 fiscal year, and have made significant progress under a number of contracts during the quarter, most notably with the US Navy and Iberdrola. In September, we deployed a PB40-rated PowerBuoy in Spain under our contract with Iberdrola, one of the world’s largest renewable energy companies. OPT also tested one of its autonomous PowerBuoy systems off the coast of New Jersey in October, under contract from the US Navy in connection with the Navy’s Deep Water Active Detection System (“DWADS”) initiative. We ended the second quarter with a PowerBuoy deployment for the US Navy in Hawaii. We have also furthered our relationship with this significant partner and announced a $3.0 million contract for participation in the second phase of the US Navy’s DWADS program.”

“We expect that the US Government’s recent expansion of the production tax credit to now include wave energy will help better position OPT competitively in the alternative energy arena. We are also gratified by signs that the Obama administration in the United States is keen on leveraging renewable energy sources as commercial sources of energy for the country. The $2.0 million award we received this quarter from the Department of Energy, in support of our work in Reedsport, Oregon, is reflective of the US Government’s support for wave energy,” Dr. Taylor concluded.

More about OPT

OPT has seen strong demand for wave energy systems as evidenced by record levels of contract order backlog, currently at $8.0 million. OPT continues to make steady progress on development of the 150 kW-rated PowerBuoy (PB150), which comprises a significant portion of our current backlog. The design of the PB150 structure is on track to be completed by the end of calendar year 2008, and is expected to be ready for complete system testing in 2009. OPT continues to work actively with an independent engineering group to attain certification of the 150 kW PowerBuoy structure design.

OPT’s patent portfolio continues to grow as one new US patent was issued during the second quarter of fiscal year 2009. The Company’s technology base now includes a total of 39 issued US patents.

During the second quarter of fiscal 2009, the Company announced that it expects to benefit from the energy production tax credit provision of the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008. Production tax credit provisions which were already in place served only to benefit other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The Act will, for the first time, enable owners of wave power projects in the US to receive federal production tax credits, thereby improving the comparative economics of wave power as a renewable energy source.

OPT is involved in wave energy projects worldwide:

REEDSPORT, OREGON, US – OPT received a $2.0 million award from the US Department of Energy (DoE), in support of OPT’s wave power project in Reedsport, Oregon. The DoE grant will be used to help fund the fabrication, assembly and factory testing of the first PowerBuoy to be installed at the Reedsport site. This system will be a 150 kW-rated PB150 PowerBuoy, major portions of which will be fabricated and integrated in Oregon. OPT is working closely with interested stakeholder groups at local, county and state agency levels while also making steady progress on the overall permitting and licensing process.

SPAIN – OPT deployed and tested its first commercial PowerBuoy under contract with Iberdrola S.A., one of the world’s largest renewable energy companies, and its partners, at a site approximately three miles off the coast of Santona, Spain. The enhanced PB40 PowerBuoy, which incorporates OPT’s patented wave power technology, is the first step of what is expected to be a utility-grade OPT wave power station to be built-out in a later phase of the project.

ORKNEY ISLANDS, UK – OPT is working under a contract with the Scottish Government at the European Marine Energy Centre (“EMEC”) in the Orkney Islands, Scotland to deploy a 150 kW PowerBuoy. OPT is currently working on building the power conversion and power take-off sub-assemblies. The Company is also reviewing prospective suppliers for manufacturing of the PowerBuoy, which is on track to be ready for deployment by the end of calendar year 2009. As part of its agreement with EMEC, OPT has the right to sell power to the grid up to the 2MW berth capacity limit, at favorable marine energy prices.

CORNWALL, UK –The “Wave Hub” project developer, South West of England Regional Development Agency (“SWRDA”), recently appointed an engineering contractor to manage the construction of the “Wave Hub” marine energy test site. SWRDA has forecasted that the Wave Hub connections, cabling and grid connection infrastructure will be completed by the end of the 2010 calendar year. OPT continues to work with SWRDA and is monitoring its progress in developing the project site.

HAWAII, US – OPT deployed its PowerBuoy systems near Kaneohe Bay on the island of Oahu. The PowerBuoy was launched under OPT’s on-going program with the US Navy at a site off Marine Corps Base Hawaii and will be connected to the Oahu power grid.

US NAVY DEEP OCEAN APPLICATION – OPT tested one of its autonomous PowerBuoy systems 70 miles off the coast of New Jersey. The PowerBuoy was constructed under contract from the US Navy in connection with the Navy’s DWADS initiative, a unique program for deep ocean data gathering. The Company received a $3.0 million contract award for the second phase of the program, which is for the ocean testing of an advanced version of the autonomous PowerBuoy.

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Giles Tremlett, The Guardian UK, December 2, 2008

portugalwind1Europe’s biggest onshore wind farm plugged itself into the grid today to provide enough electricity for up to a million people in northern Portugal.

A total of 120 windmills are dotted across the highlands of the Upper Minho region of Portugal as one of western Europe’s poorer nations continues to forge its reputation as a renewables champion.

“Europe’s largest onshore wind farm is now fully operational,” a spokeswoman for France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles, which co-owns the farm, announced this morning.

The two megawatt turbines on each windmill deliver electricity to a single connection point with the electricity grid and should supply around 1% of Portugal’s total energy needs.

A second, smaller wind farm is already functioning nearby, giving a combined output of 650 gigawatt hours per year. “That is above 1% of national consumption,” said Nuno Ribeiro da Silva, head of the VentoMinho company that runs the farm.

That would provide enough energy for 300,000 homes, or most of the northern city of Viana do Castelo and its surrounding districts, he told the Publico newspaper.

Portugal’s mixture of government enthusiasm, subsidies and special tariffs has turned it into one of the focal points of renewables development in Europe over the past five years.

The world’s largest solar photovoltaic farm is being built near the southern town of Moura. The Moura solar farm, which will include a research centre, should be twice the size of any other in the world when it is fully up and running in two years time.

Portugal also recently inaugurated the world’s first commercial wave power plant in the Atlantic Ocean off Aguçadoura, using technology developed in Scotland.

The country is heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels and has set a target of obtaining 31% of energy needs from renewables by the year 2020. That is more than twice the UK target. It also uses its subsidies policy to insist that manufacturers of turbines and solar panels set up production plants.

“By 2010 we will have 5,000MW of wind energy installed, meaning we will have increased it tenfold in just five years,” economy minister Manuel Pinho said. “This is another step towards putting our country in the vanguard of what is being done with renewable energy.”

Portugal, which claims to be one of the world’s top five renewable energy countries, provides subsidies of up to 40% for new projects.

The world’s largest onshore wind farms are in the United States, with the Horse Hollow farm in Texas providing more than 700MW.

These will soon be dwarfed by proposed offshore wind farms of up to 5,000MW each.

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PETER S. GOODMAN, The New York Times, November 2, 2008

Newton, Iowa – Like his uncle, his grandfather and many of their neighbors, Arie Versendaal spent decades working at the Maytag factory here, turning coils of steel into washing machines.

When the plant closed last year, taking 1,800 jobs out of this town of 16,000 people, it seemed a familiar story of American industrial decline: another company town brought to its knees by the vagaries of global trade.

Except that Mr. Versendaal has a new factory job, at a plant here that makes blades for turbines that turn wind into electricity. Across the road, in the old Maytag factory, another company is building concrete towers to support the massive turbines. Together, the two plants are expected to employ nearly 700 people by early next year.

“Life’s not over,” Mr. Versendaal says. “For 35 years, I pounded my body to the ground. Now, I feel like I’m doing something beneficial for mankind and the United States. We’ve got to get used to depending on ourselves instead of something else, and wind is free. The wind is blowing out there for anybody to use.”

From the faded steel enclaves of Pennsylvania to the reeling auto towns of Michigan and Ohio, state and local governments are aggressively courting manufacturing companies that supply wind energy farms, solar electricity plants and factories that turn crops into diesel fuel.

This courtship has less to do with the loftiest aims of renewable energy proponents — curbing greenhouse gas emissions and lessening American dependence on foreign oil — and more to do with paychecks. In the face of rising unemployment, renewable energy has become a crucial source of good jobs, particularly for laid-off Rust Belt workers.

Amid a presidential election campaign now dominated by economic concerns, wind turbines and solar panels seem as ubiquitous in campaign advertisements as the American flag.

No one believes that renewable energy can fully replace what has been lost on the American factory floor, where people with no college education have traditionally been able to finance middle-class lives. Many at Maytag earned $20 an hour in addition to health benefits. Mr. Versendaal now earns about $13 an hour.

Still, it’s a beginning in a sector of the economy that has been marked by wrenching endings, potentially a second chance for factory workers accustomed to layoffs and diminished aspirations.

In West Branch, Iowa, a town of 2,000 people east of Iowa City, workers now assemble wind turbines in a former pump factory. In northwestern Ohio, glass factories suffering because of the downturn in the auto industry are retooling to make solar energy panels.

“The green we’re interested in is cash,” says Norman W. Johnston, who started a solar cell factory called Solar Fields in Toledo in 2003.

The market is potentially enormous. In a report last year, the Energy Department concluded that the United States could make wind energy the source of one-fifth of its electricity by 2030, up from about 2 percent today. That would require nearly $500 billion in new construction and add more than three million jobs, the report said. Much of the growth would be around the Great Lakes, the hardest-hit region in a country that has lost four million manufacturing jobs over the last decade.

Throw in solar energy along with generating power from crops, and the continued embrace of renewable energy would create as many as five million jobs by 2030, asserts Daniel M. Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, and an adviser to the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama.

The unfolding financial crisis seems likely to slow the pace of development, making investment harder to secure. But renewable energy has already gathered what analysts say is unstoppable momentum. In Texas, the oil baron T. Boone Pickens is developing what would be the largest wind farm in the world. Most states now require that a significant percentage of electricity be generated from wind, solar and biofuels, effectively giving the market a government mandate.

And many analysts expect the United States to eventually embrace some form of new regulatory system aimed at curbing global warming that would force coal-fired electricity plants to pay for the pollution they emit. That could make wind, solar and other alternative fuels competitive in terms of the cost of producing electricity.

Both presidential candidates have made expanding renewable energy a policy priority. Senator Obama, the Democratic nominee, has outlined plans to spend $150 billion over the next decade to spur private companies to invest. Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, has spoken more generally of the need for investment.

In June, more than 12,000 people and 770 exhibitors jammed a convention center in Houston for the annual American Wind Energy Association trade show. “Five years ago, we were all walking around in Birkenstocks,” says John M. Brown, managing director of a turbine manufacturer, Entegrity Wind Systems of Boulder, Colo., which had a booth on the show floor. “Now it’s all suits. You go to a seminar, and it’s getting taught by lawyers and bankers.”

So it goes in Iowa. Perched on the edge of the Great Plains — the so-called Saudi Arabia of wind — the state has rapidly become a leading manufacturing center for wind power equipment.

“We are blessed with certainly some of the best wind in the world,” says Chet Culver, Iowa’s governor.

Maytag was born in Newton more than a century ago. Even after the company swelled into a global enterprise, its headquarters remained here, in the center of the state, 35 miles east of Des Moines.

“Newton was an island,” says Ted Johnson, the president of local chapter of the United Automobile Workers, which represented the Maytaggers. “We saw autos go through hard times, other industries. But we still had meat on our barbecues.”

The end began in the summer of 2005. Whirlpool, the appliance conglomerate, swallowed up Maytag. As the word spread that local jobs were doomed — Whirlpool was consolidating three factories’ production into two — workers unloaded their memorabilia at Pappy’s Antique Mall downtown: coffee mugs, buttons, award plaques.

“If it said Maytag on it, we bought it,” says Susie Jones, the store manager. “At first, I thought the stuff had value. Then, it was out of the kindness of my heart. And now I don’t have any heart left. It don’t sell. People are mad at them. They ripped out our soul.”

When the town needed a library, a park or a community college, Maytag lent a hand. The company was Newton’s largest employer, its wages paying for tidy houses, new cars, weddings, retirement parties and funerals.

As Whirlpool made plans to shutter the factory, state and county economic development officials scrambled to attract new employers. In June 2007, the local government dispatched a team to the American Wind Energy Association show in Los Angeles. Weeks later, a company called TPI Composites arrived in Newton to have a look.

Based in Arizona, TPI makes wind turbine blades by layering strips of fiberglass into large molds, requiring a long work space. The Maytag plant was too short. So local officials showed TPI an undeveloped piece of land encircled by cornfields on the edge of town where a new plant could be built.

Although TPI was considering a site in Mexico with low labor costs, Newton had a better location. Rail lines and Interstate 80 connect it to the Great Plains, where the turbines are needed. Former Maytag employees were eager for work, and the community college was ready to teach them blade-making.

Newton won. In exchange for $6 million in tax sweeteners, TPI promised to hire 500 people by 2010. It has already hired about 225 and is on track to have a work force of 290 by mid-November.

“Getting 500 jobs in one swoop is like winning the lottery,” says Newton’s mayor, Chaz Allen. “We don’t have to just roll over and die.”

On a recent afternoon, workers inside the cavernous TPI plant gaze excitedly at a crane lifting a blade from its mold and carrying it toward a cleared area. Curved and smooth, the blade stretches as long as a wing of the largest jets. One worker hums the theme from “Jaws” as the blade slips past.

Larry Crady, a worker, takes particular pleasure in seeing the finished product overhead, a broad grin forming across his goateed face. He used to run a team that made coin-operated laundry machines at Maytag. Now he supervises a team that lays down fiberglass strips between turbine moldings. He runs his hand across the surface of the next blade for signs of unevenness.

“I like this job more than I did Maytag,” Mr. Crady says. “I feel I’m doing something to improve our country, rather than just building a washing machine.”

Ask him how long he spent at Maytag and Mr. Crady responds precisely: “23.6 years.” Which is to say, 6.4 years short of drawing a pension whose famously generous terms compelled so many to work at the Maytag plant. “That’s what everyone in Newton was waiting on,” he says. “You could get that 30 and out.”

But he is now optimistic about the decades ahead. “I feel solid,” he says. “This is going to be the future. This company is going to grow huge.”

The human resources office at TPI is overseen by Terri Rock, who used to have the same position at Maytag’s corporate headquarters, where she worked for two decades. In her last years there, her job was mostly spent ending other people’s jobs.

“There was a lot of heartache,” she says. “This is a small town, and you’d have to let people go and then see them at the grocery store with their families. It was a real tough job at the end.”

Now, Ms. Rock starts fresh careers, hiring as many as 20 people a week. She enjoys the creative spirit of a start-up. “We’re not stuck with the mentality of ‘this is how we’ve done it for the last 35 years,’ ” she says.

Maytag is gone in large part because of the calculus driving globalization: household appliances and so many other goods are now produced mostly where physical labor is cheaper, in countries like China and Mexico. But wind turbines and blades are huge and heavy. The TPI plant is in Iowa largely because of the costs of shipping such huge items from far away.

“These are American jobs that are hard to export,” says Crugar Tuttle, general manager of the TPI plant.

And these jobs are part of a build-out that is gathering force. More than $5 billion in venture capital poured into so-called clean energy technology industries last year in North America and Europe, according to Cleantech, a trade group. In North America, that represented nearly a fifth of all venture capital, up from less than 2 percent in 2000.

“Everybody involved in the wind industry is in a massive hurry to build out capacity,” Mr. Tuttle says. “It will feed into a whole local industry of people making stuff, driving trucks. Manufacturing has been in decline for decades. This is our greatest chance to turn it around. It’s the biggest ray of hope that we’ve got.”

Those rays aren’t touching everyone, though. Hundreds of former Maytag workers remain without jobs, or stuck in positions paying less than half their previous wages. Outside an old union hall, some former Maytaggers share cigarettes and commiserate about the strains of starting over.

Mr. Johnson, the former local president, is jobless. At 45, he has slipped back into a world of financial hardship that he thought he had escaped. His father was a self-employed welder. His mother worked at an overalls factory.

“I grew up in southern Iowa with nothing,” he says. “If somebody got a new car, everybody heard about it.”

When Maytag shut down, his $1,100-a-week paycheck became a $360 unemployment check. He and his wife divorced, turning what once was a two-income household into a no-income household. He sold off his truck, his dining room furniture, his Maytag refrigerator — all in an effort to pay his mortgage. Last winter, he surrendered his house to foreclosure.

Mr. Johnson has applied for more than 220 jobs, he says, from sales positions at Lowe’s to TPI. He has yet to secure an interview. His unemployment benefits ran out in May. He no longer has health insurance. He recently broke a tooth where a filling had been, but he can’t afford to have it fixed.

When his teenage daughter, who lives with him, complained of headaches, he paid $1,500 out of pocket for an M.R.I. The doctor found a cyst on her brain. And how is she doing now? Mr. Johnson freezes at the question. He is a grown man with silver hair, a black Harley-Davidson T-shirt across a barrel chest, and calloused hands that could once bring a comfortable living. He tries to compose himself, but tears burst. “I’m sorry,” he says.

He signed up for a state insurance program for low-income families so his daughter could go to a neurologist.

Although the United States is well behind Europe in manufacturing wind-power gear and solar panels, other American communities are joining Newton’s push, laying the groundwork for large-scale production.

“You have to reinvest in industrial capacity,” says Randy Udall, an energy consultant in Carbondale, Colo. “You use wind to revitalize the Rust Belt. You make steel again. You bring it home. We ought to be planting wind turbines as if they were trees.”

In West Branch, Acciona, a Spanish company, has converted the empty hydraulic pump factory into a plant that makes wind turbines. When the previous plant closed, it wiped out 130 jobs; Acciona has hired 120 people, many of them workers from the old factory.

Steve Jennings, 50, once made $14 an hour at the hydraulic pump factory. When he heard that a wind turbine plant was coming in a mere five miles from his house, he was among the first to apply for a job. Now he’s a team leader, earning nearly $20 an hour — more than he’s ever made. Ordinary line workers make $16 an hour and up.

“It seemed like manufacturing was going away,” he says. “But I think this is here to stay.”

Acciona built its first turbine in Iowa last December and is on track to make 200 this year. Next year, it plans to double production.

For now, Acciona is importing most of its metal parts from Europe. But the company is seeking American suppliers, which could help catalyze increased metalwork in the United States.

“Michigan, Ohio — that’s the Rust Belt,” says Adrian LaTrace, the plant’s general manager. “We could be purchasing these components from those states. We’ve got the attention of the folks in the auto industry. This thing has critical mass.”

In Toledo, the declining auto industry has prompted a retooling. For more than a century, the city has been dominated by glass-making, but the problems of Detroit automakers have softened demand for car windows from its plants. Toledo has lost nearly a third of its manufacturing jobs since 2000.

Now, Toledo is harnessing its glass-making skills to carve out a niche in solar power. At the center of the trend is a huge glass maker, Pilkington, which bought a Toledo company that was born in the 19th century.

Half of Pilkington’s business is in the automotive industry. In the last two years, that business is down 30% in North America. But the solar division, started two years ago, is growing at a 40 percent clip annually.

Nearby, the University of Toledo aims to play the same enabling role in solar power that Stanford played at the dawn of the Internet. It has 15 faculty members researching solar power. By licensing the technologies spawned in its labs, the university encourages its academics to start businesses.

One company started by a professor, Xunlight, is developing thin and flexible solar cells. It has 65 employees and expects to have as many as 150 by the middle of next year.

“It’s a second opportunity,” says an assembly supervisor, Matt McGilvery, one of Xunlight’s early hires. Mr. McGilvery, 50, spent a decade making steel coils for $23 an hour before he was laid off. Xunlight hired him this year. His paycheck has shrunk, he says, declining to get into particulars, but his old-fashioned skills drawing plans by hand are again in demand as Xunlight designs its manufacturing equipment from scratch, and the future seems promising.

“The hope is that two years from now everything is smoking and that envelope will slide across the table,” he says. “The money that people are dumping into this tells me it’s a huge market.”

In Newton, the tidy downtown clustered around a domed courthouse is already showing signs of new life, after the pain of Maytag’s demise.

The owner of Courtyard Floral, Diane Farver, says she saw a steep drop in sales after Maytag left, particularly around holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, when she used to run several vanloads a week to the washing machine plant. Times have changed since that decline. When TPI recently dispatched workers to a factory in China for training, the company ordered bouquets for the spouses left at home.

Across the street at NetWork Realty, the broker Dennis Combs says the housing market is starting to stabilize as Maytag jobs are replaced.

“We’ve gone from Maytag, which wasn’t upgrading their antiquated plant, to something that’s cutting-edge technology, something that every politician is screaming this country has to have,” he says.

At Uncle Nancy’s Coffee House, talk of unemployment checks and foreclosures now mixes with job leads and looming investment.

“We’re seeing hope,” says Mr. Allen, the mayor.

The town is hardly done. Kimberly M. Didier, head of the Newton Development Corporation, which helped recruit TPI, is trying to attract turbine manufacturers and providers of raw materials and parts for the wind industry.

“This is in its infancy,” she says. “Automobiles, washer-dryers and other appliances have become commodities in their retirement phase. We’re in the beginning of this. How our economy functions is changing. We built this whole thing around oil, and now we’ve got to replace that.”

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MendoCoastCurrent, September 23, 2008

optOcean Power Technologies, Inc., a New Jersey publicly-traded company deployed its first PowerBuoy with Iberdrola S.A, a Spanish renewable energy company, and its partners, at a site approximately three miles off the coast of Santoña, Spain.

As noted by Iberdrola, the deployment of OPT’s PB40 PowerBuoy is the latest milestone toward the building of the world’s first commercial utility-scale wave power generation venture to supply approximately 1.39 MW of electricity into Spain’s electricity grid. The PB40, incorporating OPT’s patented wave power technology, is the first of what is expected to be a 10-PowerBuoy wave power station to be built out in a later phase of the project, and generating enough electricity to supply up to 2,500 homes annually.

Mark R. Draper, Chief Operating Officer of OPT, said: “This deployment is of great significance to OPT and the wave power industry, demonstrating the commercial potential of our leading technology after a decade of in-ocean experience. We now look forward to the first supplies of electricity to the grid and the expansion of the wave power station.”

The project began with OPT’s development of the Santoña site, followed by OPT’s receipt of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract under which it would build and install the first PB40 PowerBuoy system, subsea power transmission cable and underwater substation and grid connection. In a subsequent agreement, OPT was also contracted for operations and maintenance (O&M) of the wave power station for up to 10 years. A special purpose company with Iberdrola as its major shareholder and OPT as a 10% shareholder has also been established for the purchase of the wave power station and the O&M services from OPT.

PowerBuoys provide a minimal visual profile due to most of their structure being submerged. They have a design life of 30 years with standard maintenance recommended every three to four years. The grid connection system for the PowerBuoys has been certified by an independent engineering firm.

The PB40 steelwork was fabricated by a local supplier in Santander, Spain, and the power take-off and control system was built at OPT’s facility in New Jersey, USA. The final integration and testing of the complete PowerBuoy was also conducted in Spain. The PowerBuoy is seven meters in diameter at the sea surface, 20 meters in length and weighs approximately 60 tonnes.

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Associated Press, September 4, 2008

Albany — New York utility regulators have given the global energy company Iberdrola the go-ahead to buy Energy East.

The 4-0 vote by New York’s Public Service Commission yesterday clears the way for the $4.6 billion deal, which includes Energy East subsidiaries Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. and New York State Electric and Gas.

Energy East also owns power companies in Maine, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, where regulators have already approved the takeover. But New York’s approval comes with a series of conditions that Iberdrola hasn’t yet accepted.

The commissioners, who have had Iberdrola’s proposal before them for more than a year, characterized their decision as a compromise that protects Energy East’s customers while not imposing conditions so onerous they’d cause Iberdrola — which is based in Spain — to nix the buyout.

“This isn’t a perfect deal, and it might not be a great deal,” commissioner Maureen Harris said before casting her vote. “In my opinion, it’s a good deal, and I’m not willing to risk having the company walk away from it.”

Iberdrola had no immediate comment except to say that it looks forward to reviewing the order to determine what steps it will take next.

Staff analysts at the PSC had argued for months against the deal because of concerns about whether it would best serve the public in terms of cost and competitiveness. They laid out a series of conditions they said the agency’s decision-making panel should impose before the deal could go through.

Yesterday’s approval addressed most of the issues staff analysts raised, though the conditions were significantly scaled back from their original recommendations.

For example, the commissioners required Iberdrola to put aside $275 million to offset future rate increases. That’s compares with the $646 million PSC staff analysts initially proposed as a condition of the sale.

PSC staff analysts also initially said Iberdrola should be required to sell its interest in wind and hydropower generating plants as a condition of the deal. That was in keeping with a state policy that power companies shouldn’t own both transmission lines and generating plants, which might give them too much control over setting prices.

Iberdrola — which has wind projects from the Pacific Northwest to Europe — strongly objected to that demand and sought help from state and federal officials, including Senator Schumer, who said he lobbied the PSC chairman, Garry Brown, to find a compromise.

The commission said yesterday that Iberdrola must sell the fossil fuel generating plants but may keep the wind energy plants as long as it commits to spending up to $200 million on wind energy development in the state. The company has publicly said it will spend $2 billion on wind energy in New York, but it hasn’t made a firm commitment.

Under the terms the PSC laid out, Iberdrola would also be required to make any future investments in wind energy using money from a non-Energy East subsidiary.

“We have argued long and hard for Iberdrola’s ability to develop wind power, and we very much urge them to accept this ruling,” Mr. Schumer said in a prepared statement after the PSC’s decision.

It’s not clear, however, if the company will go along with the conditions. A spokesman for the PSC said the agency expects to issue a written order spelling them out within a few days, and it’s up to Iberdrola to accept or reject the offer.

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EnergyBusinessReview.com, August 12, 2008

Spanish utility Iberdrola Renewables S.A. has been awarded the license to market natural gas in Portugal’s liberalized energy market by the country’s Directorate General of Energy and Geology, with support from the Portuguese Ministry of Economy and Innovation.

Pursuant to the terms of this authorization, Iberdrola will be able to import, export and market natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG), as well as buy and sell natural gas wholesale and sell it to the Portuguese retail clients.

Iberdrola hopes to become one of the operators of reference in Portugal’s gas market with the chance to take advantage of the market’s incipient liberalization, which began in July 2007.

The Spanish utility, which is already present in the areas of generation and marketing of electricity and renewable energies in Portugal, is also taking a further step in order to strengthen its presence in the country’s energy market. Iberdrola is also promoting the construction of an 850MW combined cycle power plant in the locality of Figueira da Foz and hopes to obtain the definitive award to carry out work for the 1,134MW Alto Tamega hydroelectric complex.

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Democrat & Chronicle, August 9, 2008

New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) will hold two sessions related to Iberdrola’s disputed acquisition of Energy East this month in Albany.

The proposed $4.5 billion takeover of Energy East Corp. by Iberdrola SA of Spain will come before the NY PSC on August 20 and 27, 2008, the PSC announced Friday.

Energy East is the parent of Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. and New York State Electric and Gas Corp., both headquartered in Rochester.

Iberdrola, a big international utility that specializes in wind energy development, proposed the acquisition of Energy East in June 2007. The deal has been approved by the federal government and by other states where Energy East does business.

New York’s consideration of the deal has been drawn out for months by disagreements between the PSC staff and Iberdrola. Foremost among the issues: Iberdrola’s ownership of wind farms in Energy East’s service territory, which the PSC staff opposes because control of both power generation and distribution might stifle competition and how much rate relief Iberdrola should give to RG&E and NYSEG customers.

Because of continuing disagreement, the PSC staff has recommended against approving the acquisition.

The August 20, 2008 PSC session is a regular meeting of the five-member board, while the August 27, 2008 session is a special meeting. Both will be at PSC offices in Albany.

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AFP, July 29, 2008

MADRID (AFP) — Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa Energia, a sector leader, said on Tuesday its net profits soared during the first-half at a time when record high oil prices are fueling interest in alternative energy sources.

The company posted a comparable net profit of 93 million euros ($146 million US) during the first six months, a 69% increase on a directly comparable basis to the same time last year while pro-form first-half core earnings rose 43% to 235 million euros.

The results do not take into account the activity of Gamesa’s solar energy unit Solar which it sold to US private equity firm First Reserve in February for 261 million euros and the gains made with this operation.

When extraordinary gains from this operation are taken into account, net profit hit 198 million euros, a 314 percent increase over the same time last year, it said in a statement.

Sales rose in the first-half 34% to 1.88 billion euros.

In June the company signed a 6.3-billion-euro ($9.7 billion US) contract with a subsidiary of Spanish electricity generator Iberdrola Renewables to provide turbines for the company’s wind parks in Europe, Mexico and the United States.

Gamesa employs about 3,700 people across Europe, the United States, China and the Dominican Republic.

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EuroWeekly News, July 24, 2008

The results of a study by business analysts DBK, which have just been released, show that the use of renewable energy resources is increasing rapidly here in Spain.

The energy generated from wind in 2007 rose to 13.8 Megawatts, with a projected increase to15.9 MW by the end of the year. The power generated from solar energy in 2007 totaled 623 MW, with a projection of 1,200 MW, an almost 100% increase, by the end of this year. A town of 10,000 people needs around 6.5 MW.

At the end of 2007, there were 574 wind farms in Spain and the number of solar generation installations has risen form just five at the end of the last decade to 19,000 at the end of last year, meaning the government’s objectives for power generated from the sun by 2010, have already been reached. Power generation from renewable sources formed a little over 10% of the electricity sold in Spain in 2007. Wind generated electricity sales were worth 2.100 million euros and those from solar energy came to 209 million euros – four times the amount made the previous year – and the projection for 2008 rises to 470 million euros.

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Euro2day.gr, July 17, 2008

Athens – Spain’s Iberdrola Renovables SA said it upped its holding of ordinary shares in Greece’s wind energy company C.Rokas SA to 67.95% of total share capital.

Its holding of preferred shares increased to 52.66%, according to an announcement by Rokas to the Athens Stock Exchange.

On July 1, Iberdrola launched a voluntary tender offer for all ordinary and preferred shares of Rokas, at which time it possessed 52.7% of ordinary shares and 47.32% of preferred shares.

The tender offer for ordinary shares was set at 16 euros per share and 11 euros per preferred shares.

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RedOrbit.com, July 8, 2008

Spanish clean energy firm Iberdrola Renovables and Bancaja have announced their participation in the wind energy plan for the region of Valencia, under the auspices of the regional government, in a bid to increase power generation in the province of Castellon.

Both companies suggested their proposal through a newly created company called Sistemas Energeticos de Levante, which is jointly owned by the renewable energy subsidiary of the Iberdrola Group with a 60% share, and Bancaja with a 40% share.

The project presented to the Direccion General de Energia by the joint venture company involves the installation of 304MW of power in the province of Castellon, distributed over 152 wind turbines.

In addition, Sistemas Energeticos de Levante has put forward various initiatives that would accompany the installation of the new wind turbines, such as the construction of a solar power plant in Valencia, or the commitment that at least 55% of the providers used for civil works are companies from the region.

Initiatives proposed by Iberdrola Renovables and Bancaja include the creation of an R&D program, pending agreement with the regional government of Valencia, and the adoption of corrective measures at a rural level established by the relevant environmental impact studies.

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JIM STINSON, Gannett News Service, July 2, 2008

The staff of the state Public Service Commission has again advised its five-member board to disapprove the $4.5 billion sale of Energy East Corp. to Iberdrola SA, but staffers have added a big “however” on wind farms.

In a brief filed in the long-running case, the PSC staff has offered alternatives if the five public service commissioners approve the sale, according to James Denn, PSC spokesman.

Iberdrola, the European utility giant and global leader in wind turbine farms, would be allowed to own and operate wind farms within Energy East territory, but with public benefits attached to the agreement.

The staff recommended that Iberdrola’s $2 billion proposal to invest in New York be tied to possible ratepayer rebates. The PSC staff said that to ensure the promise to build more wind farms in New York, the state could set aside $200 million of Iberdrola cash to be returned to ratepayers if the investment never happens.

The alternative proposal, known as Exception 6 in the PSC reply brief, comes after months of criticism and speculation regarding PSC’s opposition to letting Iberdrola buy Energy East.

Energy East owns Rochester Gas and Electric and New York State Electric & Gas. Iberdrola’s plans to keep and build wind farms in the service area have brought controversy but also support from public officials and environmentalists.

The PSC has disallowed distributors of electricity from owning sources of electricity.

In a June 16 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Rafael Epstein, the five-member board of the PSC was encouraged to disapprove the deal, a decision which backed up PSC staff but brought howls from such leaders as Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

“Done correctly, this merger can reduce costs and make New York a leader in providing clean, cheap wind power,” Schumer said. “The acquisition can reduce rates for customers and help to create jobs and billions of dollars of investment in upstate New York. I am glad the PSC staff has recognized this win-win-win, and hope the PSC Commissioners will quickly follow suit.”

Energy East made the offer in May 2007.

Iberdrola officials said the Madrid-based company would walk away from the bid if New York enforced the rule.

The sale of Energy East has already been approved by the federal government and every other state Energy East operates in.

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Datamonitor, June 16, 2008

Spanish utility major Iberdrola and diversified technology group Tecnalia Corporacion Tecnologica have announced an agreement to develop the Oceantec wave energy project in the Basque Country of Spain, with the goal of putting into operation a high-performance wave energy device at a competitive cost.

This initiative, which is expected to stimulate industrial development in the Basque Country, will involve a joint investment of around E4.5 million with expectations that the device will be built and pass testing in 2009.

Iberdrola will participate in Oceantec through Perseo, its equity investment company. With an annual budget of E6 million, its principal objective is to support high technology projects in renewable energy and the environment.

Perseo will analyze initiatives and companies that are planning new ways of exploiting renewable energy, and of maximizing performance and cost. It will focus among other things on marine energy, where Iberdrola is already active in developing wave energy projects in Santona, Spain, and the Orkneys, Scotland.

Perseo will seek also to identify investment opportunities for Iberdrola in biotechnology that can provide solutions in the context of new fuel sources and CO2 capture. The launch of Perseo seeks to intensify Iberdrola’s role in new technology, with the new strategic plan for 2008-10 assigning E225 million to research and innovation.

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KELLY HARRINGTON, SNL Interactive, June 18, 2008

Spanish utility Iberdrola SA will reconsider its proposed acquisition of Energy East Corp. should New York regulators “impose unacceptable” conditions on the deal, the company said.

The company’s statement comes a day after Administrative Law Judge Rafael Epstein recommended that the Public Service Commission not approve the deal. The proposal, he wrote, “does not satisfy the ‘public interest’ requirement of Public Service Law.” However, if the PSC decides to approve the deal, Epstein said it should do so with several conditions, including one for Iberdrola and its affiliates to exit the generation business in New York.

An Iberdrola spokesman June 17 said the administrative law judge has issued a recommendation and not a ruling and that the company hopes there will be a positive outcome when the full commission makes its decision.

“We hope that will be next month at the July session,” he said.

Iberdrola’s main areas of concern with the recommended decision are the provisions pertaining to the recommended level of “positive benefit adjustments,” and one that would preclude Iberdrola from owning, operating or developing renewable energy that would be interconnected with Energy East’s New York subsidies New York State Electric & Gas Corp. and Rochester Gas and Electric Corp.

Iberdrola has outlined a business plan to invest $2 billion in wind energy development in New York, some of which would be connected to those utilities’ systems, he said.

“As Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Sánchez Galán has said, Iberdrola will reconsider this transaction and seek other options in the United States if the final PSC ruling imposes unacceptable conditions on the transaction in these two key areas,” he said.

In his recommendation, Epstein said that NYSEG and RG&E customers should be credited with positive benefit adjustments of $646.4 million, including $201.6 million initially upon completion of the merger transaction. This would result in NYSEG and RG&E delivery rate reductions of $54.8 million, or 4.4%, initially, according to the recommendation.

Iberdrola in June 2007 said it would acquire Energy East, including its operations in New York, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, for about $4.5 billion. Including the assumption of debt, the transaction is valued at about $8.5 billion.

FERC and regulators from Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire have already approved the deal. New York regulators have yet to rule on the proposal. During the review process Department of Public Service staff have outlined concerns about the deal.

New York Gov. David Paterson also weighed in on the recommendation. In a June 17 statement, Paterson said the PSC is not bound to the recommended decision. The governor said he trusts that the commission will keep in mind “significant statewide and ratepayer benefits” from the deal, including Iberdrola’s plan to invest $2 billion in wind energy and its pledge to offer $200 million in ratepayer benefits.

“Although this amount is less than suggested by the administrative law judge, I hope the commission will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to ratepayer benefits,” Paterson said. “I look forward to a discussion of benefits in a broader context to capture the full range of future opportunities this acquisition can bring about. Creative solutions to address the issues surrounding utility ownership of limited wind resources can be found and defining ratepayer benefits more broadly to encompass capital investments in clean energy are among the things the commission should look at in deciding to let this important acquisition move ahead.”

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NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, International Herald Tribune, June 17, 2008

ALBANY: An administrative law judge advised state regulators on Monday to block a Spanish energy conglomerate’s bid to buy Energy East, a Maine-based utility with operations in four states, including New York, citing anticompetitive concerns.

The recommendation by the judge, Rafael Epstein, largely sided with an earlier recommendation by staff members of the Public Service Commission, which must approve the acquisition of Energy East by the conglomerate, Iberdrola. The commission’s five-member board will have the final say.

Iberdrola’s bid has the enthusiastic support of key members of the state Legislature and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, who point to the company’s plan to invest at least $2 billion in building wind power facilities in New York if it is permitted to acquire Energy East, which is the parent company of two other utilities in upstate New York and already owns wind turbine facilities. Governor David Paterson also says he supports the deal as long as Energy East’s customers are protected from unfair pricing.

But regulators say that the merger would give Iberdrola a virtual monopoly on wind power generation in the state while also providing the company with transmission and distribution lines, running afoul of state laws that prevent the generation, transmission and distribution of power by a single company.

In his decision, Epstein noted that “Iberdrola’s wind generation ownership also has engendered an unusual amount of commentary by editorial boards and public officials, uniformly opposing ownership restrictions as contrary to the state’s interests and even ‘stone-headed.”‘

But he appeared unpersuaded by Iberdrola’s promise of investment, writing that “the economic benefits of competition are no less real than an immediate infrastructure investment.”

Epstein also recommended that the board impose numerous conditions on Iberdrola, should it ultimately approve the sale. They include limits on the company’s ownership of electric generating plants in New York and rebates worth hundreds of millions of dollars to customers of the companies being acquired.

A spokesman for Iberdrola said the company was reviewing the judge’s recommendation.

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NICOLAS CONFESSORE, The New York Times, June 4, 2008

ALBANY — One of the world’s largest energy companies proposed on June 3rd to build hundreds of wind turbines in New York, significantly raising the stakes in a nine-month battle with state regulators over its intended purchase of a power company.

Executives of the company, Iberdrola S.A., of Spain, said it would invest $2 billion in wind turbines upstate if the state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in New York, approves its purchase of Energy East, which has three million customers in five states, including New York. The new turbines would more than double state energy production from wind and make New York one of the larger producers of wind power in the country.

“Iberdrola has helped many countries meet their renewable energy goals and benefit from our high-tech investments and ‘green-collar’ jobs that result from this kind of investment,” said Xabier Viteri, the chief executive of Iberdrola’s renewable energy division.

The purchase of Energy East has been approved by federal regulators and officials in other states. But in New York, where Energy East owns two utilities, Rochester Gas & Electric and New York State Electric & Gas, Iberdrola has run afoul of state rules meant to discourage what is known as vertical market power, when a single company owns power-generating plants as well as transmission and distribution lines.

In negotiations over the last several months, the commission staff has extracted several concessions out of Iberdrola, including a promise of $201 million in rate subsidies to existing Energy East customers to ensure that they do not pay more for electricity as a result of the sale.

But the commission staff is also insisting that Iberdrola agree to sell off Energy East’s existing wind turbine facilities, arguing that owning them would violate the vertical power rules.

An administrative law judge is expected to issue a recommendation on the deal within weeks, though neither the judge’s recommendations nor those of the commission staff are binding on the five-member commission itself.

James Denn, a spokesman for the commission, said the added investment would not allay the commission’s concern, adding, “On this deal, they would be able to produce, transmit, and distribute power within their region.” . Mr. Denn also noted that Iberdrola had not formally submitted the new proposal to the commission; the current plan has the company making only a binding commitment of $100 million worth of investment in the state.

The commission staff also wants Iberdrola to increase the subsidies, known as ratepayer benefits, to $644 million, as well as to agree to provisions in the merger that would insulate any New York facilities from potential financial problems at Iberdrola.

Iberdrola is one of several foreign-owned energy companies that have entered the United States market, where rising gas prices and a spate of state laws requiring more energy from renewable sources have made wind, solar and hydroelectric power increasingly attractive.

The company’s acquisition of Energy East — and the promise of clean power in an era of high demand — has drawn support from leading business and environmental groups, as well as lawmakers of both parties, though the state power producers association has filed a brief supporting the commission staff.

In a statement on Tuesday, Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the commission to allow Iberdrola to acquire Energy East without divesting its wind power holdings, while keeping careful watch on whether rates increased as a result. Mr. Schumer and some other critics believe that the rules against simultaneous production, transmission and distribution, which date back to efforts in the 1990s to break up the state’s energy market, have failed to help lower energy costs.

“The Public Service Commission ought to get out of the way when it comes to investing in renewable power, and instead concentrate on making sure consumers don’t get burned by rate hikes as a result of this merger,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement.

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MendoCoastCurrent, June 13, 2008

Iberdrola Renewables and Gamesa Energia have signed the largest turbine supply contract ever in the wind power industry representing a total capacity of 4,500 megawatts (MW), for delivery between 2010 and 2012. The investment for wind power projects to which the turbines will be assigned is approximately €6.3 billion, a figure that includes the turbines and other costs such as transport, civil works and interconnections, both those at the wind farms themselves and to the grid.

Under the terms of the agreement, Iberdola will assign the turbines to its wind power projects in Spain, the rest of Europe, the United States and Mexico. The contract covers installation and startup of the turbines, as well as operational services and maintenance during the life of the guarantee.

As a result of this important agreement, Iberdola will be able to meet its turbine supply needs during the coming years for its wind power project portfolio, which currently stands at 43,280 MW, not including projects to be incorporated from Gamesa, and thereby avoid one of the major uncertainties in this business by assuring the installation of a significant portion of its projects for the medium term. More than 70% of its requirements will thus be met up to 2012.

The dimensión of this contract, the largest turbine supply agreement ever signed, has enabled the Company to achieve optimum pricing and conditions. It follows another signed with the same company in 2006 for 2,700 MW in capacity, and those signed recently by Iberdrola with General Electric (300 MW), Mitsubishi (300 MW), Suzlon Wind Energy Corporation (700 MW) and Ecotècnia (310 MW).

Strategic Agreement to Develop Wind Farms

Iberdrola Renewables and Gamesa Energía have also signed a strategic agreement to pool their businesses in promotion, development and exploitation of wind farms in Spain and continental Europe, which will increase its potential for future development and growth. For this purpose, they are creating two joint companies, one in Spain and the other abroad, to which they will assign the businesses of promotion, development and exploitation in those territories from the closing of the agreement.

In Spain, Iberdrola will hold 77% of the new company operating there and Gamesa 23%, while in the other international company the shareholdings will be 76% and 24%, respectively.

The strategic agreement, subject to the corresponding approvals from the competition authorities, establishes that Gamesa can increase its shareholding in the Spanish company up to 32% in relation to the number of additional megawatts that correspond to new wind farms adjudicated to it after the agreement takes effect.

Iberdrola and Gamesa have agreed to not sell their stakes before 31 December 2010, and from 1 January 2011, through a mechanism of matching options, Iberdrola will have the option to buy from Gamesa Energía its shareholding in the joint companies envisaged under the agreement and Gamesa Energía can sell its stake in these companies Iberdrola.

In the event that Iberdrola decides to sell its total shareholding in any of the companies from 1 January 2011, the Company has granted Gamesa Energía a joint transmission right to third parties (tag along) and a first option right, subject to certain conditions.

At the same time, the Company will within one month buy Gamesa’s wind power projects in the United Kingdom, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, with a total capacity of 900 MW, for approximately €65 million.

This agreement reflects the two companies’ interest in jointly developing wind power projects, given their experience and know-how in the sector and the advantages of pooling their respective businesses. The complementary nature of their businesses will favour greater creation of value for shareholders of the two companies.

The goal of this agreement is to bring together the two world leaders in wind farm development and consolidate their positioning in existing markets and in those identified in the strategic alliance. Iberdrola will be able to enter new markets where established businesses exist, minimizing the risks relating to geographical diversification, maximizing value creation and achieving economies of scale.

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CRAIG RUBENS, earth2tech/GigaOM, May 19, 2008

Iberdrola Renewables, one of the largest owners and operators of renewable energy facilities in the world, announced yesterday its plans to invest $8 billion in American renewable energy by 2010. A large part of the money will go to expanding Iberdrola’s wind energy capacity, but the company also said it intends to invest elsewhere in American clean energy.

The company says it already operates 2,400 megawatts of wind turbines in the United States with plans to boost that to 3,600 megawatts by the end of the year. The company says it aims to control a 15% share of the American wind industry by 2010, and is already the world leader in installed wind capacity with over 7 gigawatts of installed capacity. Iberdrola jumped ahead of the former leader, Florida-based FPL Energy, last year with the help of an extra 1.45 gigawatts it acquired when it bought ScottishPower’s wind assets.

Iberdrola’s big move into U.S. wind is part of a growing trend of foreign firms buying into the U.S. wind boom. According to Clean Edge, Iberdrola’s North American headquarters in Randor, Penn., has plans for 22,000 megawatts of new wind power in the U.S.

With Iberdrola’s new investment, perhaps America can achieve the potential for wind to power 20% of the U.S. by 2030, an ambitious scenario proposed by the Department of Energy’s recent report.

But beyond wind, what are Iberdrola’s other clean energy intentions? The company is no stranger to solar thermal installations, with projects in Spain and Egypt, and it could become yet another big power player moving into the American southwest. The company has also started to dabble in wave energy with PowerBuoys from Ocean Power Technologies. Meanwhile, Iberdrola’s acquisition of ScottishPower gave it more hydroelectric assets, further diversifying its portfolio.

While Iberdrola says it will invest the bulk of the money in wind, it’s clear the company could make a big play in a variety of other sectors as well. Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Sanchez Galan said he sees the United States as Iberdrola’s most exciting market. And we’re sure many of the cleantech startups will be eagerly looking to form partnerships.

Thank you earth2tech for this article!

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Green Car Congress, March 10, 2008

Iberdrola Renewables has begun the testing of a wave energy pilot plant in Santoña, Cantabria, Spain which will become the first of this kind to be installed in Europe.

The company has begun on-shore testing of the operation of the internal components of the first PowerBuoys from Ocean Power Technologies (OPT). OPT’s PowerBuoy wave generation system uses the rise and fall of waves to move a piston-like structure inside the buoy column to pump hydraulic fluid that drives a generator anchored on the ocean floor. Generated power is transmitted ashore via an underwater power cable.

The tests consist of the inspection of the components, evaluation of the individual functions of each of the systems and a final resistance test, in which the units are inter-connected and the real operating conditions the buoy will have to face in the sea are simulated, at varying surge intensities.

The company will conclude the buoy testing phase this month and then deploy of the buoy out to the sea, depending on weather conditions, with the goal of going operational the first half of this year.

The installation will be located four kilometers from the coast of Santoña and will comprise 10 buoys. In a first phase a 10-meter, 40 kW buoy will be anchored to the seabed some 50 meters down. The remaining nine buoys, planned for a later phase, will have an initial capacity of 125 kW. When all 10 buoys are in operation, the electricity produced will be the approximate equivalent to the domestic consumption of some 2,500 homes.

The joint company that is developing the plant, named Iberdrola Energías Marinas de Cantabria, S.A., is owned by the Iberdrola Renewables (60%), TOTAL (10%), OPT (10%), the IDEA Institute for Energy Diversification and Savings (10%), and the Sodercan Cantabria Development Society (10%). The budget for the first phase, which includes the marine electrical infrastructure, comes to some €3 million (US$4.6 million).

In addition to the Santoña Wave Energy Project, Iberdrola is developing a wave energy plant off the Orkney islands in the north of Scotland, which will become the world’s largest by installed capacity (3 MW). This complex will comprise four floating Pelamis generators with a capacity of 750 kW each.

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PETER FAIRLEY, MIT Technology Review, February 29, 2008

Using the Sun’s Heat to Boil Water to Steam Turbines

Investors and utilities intent on building solar power plants are increasingly turning to solar thermal power, a comparatively low-tech alternative to photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight directly into electricity. This month, in the latest in a string of recent deals, Spanish solar-plant developer Abengoa Solar and Phoenix-based utility Arizona Public Service announced a 280-megawatt solar thermal project in Arizona. By contrast, the world’s largest installations of photovoltaics generate only 20 megawatts of power.

In a solar thermal plant, mirrors concentrate sunlight onto some type of fluid that is used, in turn, to boil water for a steam turbine. Over the past year, developers of solar thermal technology such as Abengoa, Ausra, and Solel Solar Systems have picked up tens of millions of dollars in financing and power contracts from major utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric and Florida Power and Light. By 2013, projects in development in just the United States and Spain promise to add just under 6,000 megawatts of solar thermal power generation to the barely 100 megawatts installed worldwide last year, says Cambridge, MA, consultancy Emerging Energy Research.

The appeal of solar thermal power is twofold. It is relatively low cost at a large scale: an economic analysis by Severin Borenstein, director of the University of California’s Energy Institute, notes that solar thermal power will become cost competitive with other forms of power generation decades before photovoltaics will, even if greenhouse-gas emissions are not taxed aggressively.

Solar thermal developers also say that their power is more valuable than that provided by wind, currently the fastest-growing form of renewable energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind power costs about 8 cents per kilowatt, while solar thermal power costs 13 to 17 cents. But power from wind farms fluctuates with every gust and lull; solar thermal plants, on the other hand, capture solar energy as heat, which is much easier to store than electricity. Utilities can dispatch this stored solar energy when they need it–whether or not the sun happens to be shining. “That’s going to be worth a lot of money,” says Terry Murphy, president and chief executive officer of SolarReserve, a Santa Monica, CA, developer of solar thermal technology. “People are coming to realize that power shifting and ‘dispatchability’ are key to the utility’s requirements to try to balance their system.”

In fact, the capacity to store energy is critical to the economics of the solar thermal plant. Without storage, a solar thermal plant would need a turbine large enough to handle peak steam production, when the sun is brightest, but which would otherwise be underutilized. Stored heat means that a plant can use a smaller, cheaper steam turbine that can be kept running steadily for more hours of the day. While adding storage would substantially increase the cost of the energy produced by a photovoltaic array or wind farm, it actually reduces the cost per kilowatt of the energy produced by solar thermal plants.

The amount of storage included in a plant–expressed as the number of hours that it can keep the turbine running full tilt–will vary according to capital costs and the needs of a given utility. “There is an optimal point that could be three hours of storage or six hours of storage, where the cents per kilowatt- hour is the lowest,” says Fred Morse, senior advisor for U.S. operations with Abengoa Solar. Morse says that the company’s 280-megawatt plant in Arizona, set to begin operation by 2011, will have six hours of storage, while other recent projects promise seven to eight.

Morse says that while the design of solar thermal power stations is rapidly diversifying, most will use essentially the same system for storing energy: tanks full of a molten salt that remains liquid at temperatures exceeding 565 °C. “It’s basically two tanks with a lot of heat exchangers, pipes, and pumps,” says Morse. For a sense of scale, consider that the 50-megawatt plants that Germany’s Solar Millennium is building in Spain near Granada will employ 28,500 tons of molten salt in twin tanks standing 14 meters high and 38.5 meters in diameter.

While molten salt is the most popular storage option, developers are experimenting widely to find the best means of collecting heat in the first place, and integrating collection and storage. Abengoa’s plant in Arizona (see below image) will use a “trough” design in which arrays of parabolic mirrors concentrate sunlight onto a glass tube carrying a commercial heat-transfer oil such as therminol. Some of the heated oil heats the molten salt in storage while the rest directly generates steam. Abengoa Solar’s vice president for technology development, Hank Price, says that the plant’s trough energy-collection design is the one most commonly used today, thanks largely to improvements in the glass tubes. Ceramic-metal absorption coatings have increased the amount of heat captured by the tubes to the point that plants using them produce 30 percent more power than the first-generation solar thermal demonstration projects of the early 1990s.

SolarReserve, in contrast, is developing systems that directly heat molten salt. Its designs call for so-called power towers in which arrays of mirrors focus sunlight onto elevated towers. The company, launched in January, is a joint venture between energy investment bank U.S. Renewables Group and aerospace firm Hamilton Sundstrand, whose subsidiary Rocketdyne built molten-salt heat receivers for a 10-megawatt power-tower demo plant that operated in the early 1990s.

SolarReserve’s Murphy says that the power-tower system should be cheaper to build than trough-collection systems, since it doesn’t require miles of glass tubing. More important, he says, it should produce higher-quality steam. That’s because it will directly heat its molten salt to about 565 °C, about 165 degrees hotter than the oils in a trough plant.

That increased thermodynamic efficiency will be key, says Murphy, when water shortages force thermal power plants in hot, dry deserts to abandon water-based cooling of their used steam. (Steam that’s passed through the turbine must be cooled and condensed so that it can be reused.) Alternative cooling techniques are more energy intensive, cutting into a plant’s overall efficiency. The hotter a plant runs, says Murphy, the lower the losses from alternative cooling schemes. “We’re going to experience 3 to 4 percent loss,” he says, “and [the trough plants] are going to be losing 7 to 8 percent.”

Abengoa’s Price agrees that power towers do, in theory, have thermodynamic advantages, which is why Abengoa has built its own 10-megawatt demo in Spain and is building a second at 20 megawatts. But Price questions whether investors will support the direct jump to 100-to-200-megawatt power-tower plants that SolarReserve envisions. “There’s a lot of technical risk in doing that,” he says. “We need to scale up in a way that’s financeable.”

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