In green technology developments this week, the United States moved ahead with an offshore wind project, a Japanese solar manufacturer announced plans to build a project pipeline in North America, and the island of Dominica chose home-grown geothermal energy for domestic distribution and exports to the Caribbean region.
Plans for an offshore wind farm in U.S. waters took another step forward this week, as Dominion Virginia Power bid $1.6 million to provisionally win the lease for 112,800 acres of federal land off the coast of Virginia. The Wind Energy Area secured by Dominion is located about 23.5 nautical miles off the Virginia Beach coast—beyond the sight lines of the mainland—and has the potential to support 2,000 megawatts (MW) of wind generation, or enough energy to power more than 700,000 homes.
The utility outbid Apex (News - Alert) Virginia Offshore Wind in a six-round auction held by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM). Dominion expects the first turbine to be installed within about 10 years, pending project approval by state regulators. The company will then be able to operate the wind farm for 33 years, paying annual rent of nearly $339,000 and an operating fee when it begins to produce power from the site.
The BOEM also has several other projects in various stages of development in the waters off the states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina and New York. In July, the department awarded a 165,000-acre tract 10.5 miles south of the Rhode Island coast to Deepwater Wind New England, which submitted a winning bid of $3.8 million.
Last April, solar producer Kyocera (News - Alert) Corporation announced its results for fiscal year 2012—revealing a substantial increase in the company’s annual sales. While the upsurge in sales revenues certainly is partly attributable to the booming Japanese PV market – driven by that nation’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) – Kyocera has announced plans to build up both its domestic and international project pipelines, with special emphasis on U.S. development, in order to support further growth during 2013.
The company expects its Japan-market shipments of industrial solar modules to grow 250 percent in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2014 (FY2014), compared to FY2013. Amid this continuing strong demand, the company plans to ship more than one gigawatt (GW) of solar modules worldwide in FY2014—an increase of 25 percent from 800MW in FY2013. In the United States in May, Kyocera provided 25 MW in modules for a 127 MW PV installation at the Arlington Valley Solar Energy II (AV Solar II) utility-scale plant in southwest Arizona.
Now, the U.S. division of the company, Kyocera Solar, Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., has announced its intention to work directly and/or with partners to develop PV projects in America by providing project development and management, design and engineering, PV equipment and, in select cases, direct investment.
Finally, Dominica, a tiny and pristine island nation in the Caribbean Sea, is planning to reach zero-carbon status on its own steam—literally. The youngest land formation in the Lesser Antilles, Dominica still is being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity, as evidenced by one of its major attractions—the world's second-largest hot spring, Boiling Lake (smaller only than Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand). A hot spring is produced by the emergence of groundwater from the Earth's crust—and it is that naturally produced geothermal heat and steam that the island wants to harness.
Local officials are hoping that geothermal energy is the answer to mounting climate change concerns and an ambitious commitment to become carbon ‘negative’ by 2020, according to a report just released by the Thomson Reuters (News - Alert) Foundation. What’s more, aside from environmental concerns, fossil fuel independence also has become increasingly important to the island’s population of 70,000, because Dominica remains highly dependent on imported oil and residents pay the highest electricity prices in the Eastern Caribbean.
The geothermal initiative will comprise the construction of a small power plant for domestic consumption and of a bigger facility, capable of generating up to 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity, for export to the neighboring French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told Parliament in July that his government already had invested $ 11.2 million in test drilling —which confirmed that the Roseau Valley, home to the Boiling Lake, would provide a geothermal resource of “excellent quality,” sufficient to generate more than 120 MW of power. Now, the Dominica government plans to spend an additional $13.3 million to develop geothermal power in the valley.
Vince Henderson, chairman of the government’s geothermal negotiating team and the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told Thomson Reuters, “This project will not only bring us energy security and independence, but geothermal energy will reduce our contribution to climate change and demonstrate leadership in switching from over-reliance on expensive, dirty, fossil fuel generation.”