In October-December 2010, Climate Change Business Journal solicited its contacts via e-mail, website and word-of-mouth for nominations for the CCBJ Business Achievement Awards. Nominations were accepted in 200-word essays in either specific or unspecified categories. Categories may have been adjusted depending on the volume of nominations or the number of worthy recipients. Final awards were determined by a committee of CCBJ staff and CCBJ editorial advisory board members.
The 2010 CCBJ awards will be presented at a special ceremony at Environmental Industry Summit IX in Coronado, California, during the evening of March 9, 2011. The Environmental Industry Summit is an annual three-day event hosted by CCBJ publisher Environmental Business International. Congratulations to all of the 2010 winners, and CCBJ encourages all interested companies to participate next year.
Disclaimer: company audits were not conducted to verify information or claims submitted with nominations.
Business Achievement: Growth
Gold Medal ? EnerNOC, Inc. (Boston), the leading U.S. demand response company for growth of 57% through the first three quarters of 2010 to revenues of $257 million, up from $164 million in the same nine months in 2009. In Q3 2010 EnerNOC passed a significant milestone of 5,000 megawatts under management sooner than expected and increased its network to over 5,100 megawatts under management across over 3,500 customers and 8,200 sites as of September 30, 2010. EnerNOC describes its value proposition as unlocking the full value of energy management for utility and commercial, institutional, and industrial customers by reducing real-time demand for electricity, increasing energy efficiency, improving energy supply transparency in competitive markets, and mitigating emissions. Trademarked applications include DemandSMART in demand response, SiteSMART in energy efficiency, SupplySMART in energy price and risk management, and CarbonSMART in enterprise carbon management. EnerNOC’s Network Operations Center (NOC) continuously supports these applications across its thousands of customer sites throughout the world.
Silver Medal ? Ameresco (Framingham, Mass.) for achieving 49% revenue growth for the nine months that ended Sept. 30, 2010. One of the leading U.S. energy service companies (ESCOs), Ameresco went public in July 2010, raising about $60 million gross proceeds (shareholders sold an additional $27 million worth of shares). While the opening price of $10 per share was less than the company hoped for, its share price by year-end was in the $15 range. Ameresco’s Q1-Q3 revenues grew from $295 million in 2009 to $439 million in 2010 while the U.S. economy was sluggish, and energy efficiency and renewable energy segments were flat. Ameresco’s growth was primarily organic with only one acquisition in 2010, Quantum Engineering and Development, for $6.2 million. Like other ESCOs, Ameresco earns a large portion of its revenues through performance contracts in which ESCOs and third-party lenders fund the design and installation of energy efficiency equipment then get paid based on energy cost savings, which are often guaranteed in the contract. Ameresco has been one of the leaders in expanding this model to develop renewable energy projects (for which it receives revenue from energy sales) including landfill and digester gas, biomass, geothermal and solar projects. By Q3 2010, Ameresco’s nine-month revenue from renewable energy (including a PV sales and integration division) more than doubled from $54 million in 2009 to $115 million in 2010. Ameresco ended Q3 with a backlog of $593 million.
Silver Medal ? Comverge, Inc. (Norcross, Ga.), another demand response leader for growth of 42% to $82 million in revenues through the first three quarters of 2010. Comverge describes itself as leading provider of intelligent energy management solutions for residential and commercial and industrial customers. Third quarter revenues grew 56% to $52 million compared to $33 million in 2009 (excluding revenues from its residential Virtual Peaking Capacity contracts, which are deferred and recognized in the fourth quarter). Comverge has more than 500 utility and 2,100 commercial customers, as well as five million deployed residential devices, and more than 3,500 megawatts under management.
Silver Medal ? Itron (Liberty Lake, Wash.) for growth of 36% through three quarters of 2010, putting it in pace to hit $2.3 billion in revenues in 2010. Itron is the global leader in smart meters with 85 million units shipped in North America and a 46% share. Itron delivers end-to-end smart grid and smart distribution solutions to 8,000 electric, gas and water utilities with product offerings including electricity, gas, water and heat meters; network communication technology; collection systems and related software applications; and professional services.
Bronze Medal ? Sunpower (San Jose) for achieving 31% revenue growth for the nine months ending Oct. 3, 2010, an increase that caps five years (2005 to 2009) during which SunPower’s revenues grew by 1836%, said Deloitte, which ranked the company number seven in the clean technology segment of its Fast 500 2010 rankings. A vertically integrated solar PV manufacturer and installer with revenues expected to be $2.2 billion in 2010, SunPower boasts “the highest conversion efficiency… of all the global solar cells available for the mass market.” SunPower is a dominant vendor to U.S. utilities, a customer segment that has become more active since the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 allowed investor-owned utilities to qualify for the 30% PV investment tax credit. Either SunPower or First Solar have “been involved in every one of the 11 largest operating projects in the country,” noted GreentechMedia. According to SunPower, 44% of its 2010 revenues were generated by deals with utility and power plant customers, 56% from residential and commercial customers. SunPower will likely face increasing competition for the utility segment-as many as 55 project developers have signed at least one utility PPA, according to GreentechMedia. Global PV players will increasingly target U.S. utilities as European markets reach saturation. For its part, SunPower has been expanding aggressively in overseas markets, most recently with the March 2010 $282 million acquisition of European PV project developer SunRay. While German sales declined in 2010, Italy was a booming market for SunPower in the third quarter, representing 38% of global revenues, up from 30% in 2009.
Bronze Medal ? Powerit Solutions (Seattle) for achieving 30% revenue growth in 2010 and 28% growth in employment, adding to Powerit’s 1,810% growth over the prior five years in energy management systems. Powerit is a leader in advancing the OpenADR (automated demand response) standard developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Powerit is also one of the first providers to offer a Smart DRAS (demand response automation server) client in a commercial product. One client, Calif.-based Mission Produce, cut its annual electricity usage by 24%, reduced its monthly energy bill by up to 33%, and made 500 kW controlled load shed available for demand response supply, according to Powerit. In May 2009, Powerit closed a $6 million Series B funding round from Siemens Venture Capital and global steel company ArcelorMittal’s Clean Technology Fund.
Honorable Mention ? LPB Energy Management (Dallas) for 2010 market penetration and revenue growth for its utility invoice processing business, through which LPB helps corporate and government clients identify and take action on energy efficiency and cost-saving opportunities. The number of client utility invoices processed by LPB increased by 102% for the 12 months ending September 30, 2010, driving revenue growth of 91%, according to company data reported to CCBJ. The firm acquired “large, national clients who either previously processed utility invoices in-house or through another third-party outsourced provider,” according to the company. New and existing clients are enjoying enhancements in LPB’s “capabilities to measure, manage, and benchmark utility cost and consumption.” Although LPB does not disclose revenues, CCBJ estimates its revenues for these 12 months at $30 million. The company employs 140 people.
Business Achievement: Finance
Gold Medal ? Cannon Power (San Diego) for closing the sale of a 20-year, $547 million pre-paid power purchase agreement (PPA) with Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA), which sold tax-exempt bonds to buy the power on behalf of two of its 12 member agencies: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the City of Glendale. The PPA represents over approximately 70% of the expected annual production from Cannon Power’s 262 MW Wind Flats wind project in Goldendale, Wash. SCPPA obtained a discounted power price for the pre-paid block of power, and the agency will buy the balance of the wind farm’s output at a formula-based price. SCPPA also received an option to purchase the project after five years.
The project, an expansion of an existing wind farm called Windy Point, also received $220 million in ARRA stimulus funding; it is slated to enter commercial operation in 2011. “This uniquely structured transaction is a true win-win for both parties,” Cannon President Gary Hardke said in a statement. “It combined SCPPA’s low-cost, tax exempt bond financing with the federal stimulus grant program to produce a very attractive long-term cost of renewable power.” Cannon Power Group has developed wind energy projects in the U.S., India, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Croatia. In addition to Windy Point/Wind Flats, Cannon Power’s other major project in development is the 1,000 MW Aubanel wind project in Baja California.
Silver Medal ? Tesla Motors (Palo Alto, Calif.) for a year of financial accomplishments that included in January finalizing its loan guarantee agreement with U.S. DOE for up to $465 million, its $226 million IPO in July, an approximately $60 million deal with Toyota to develop a powertrain system for an electric version of the RAV4, and receiving a $30 million investment from long-time battery technology collaborator Panasonic in November. Tesla also completed the $42 million purchase of the former New United Motors Manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif. where it will make its mass-market Model S.
Tesla’s IPO was the first by an American automaker since Ford went public in 1956. After closing its first day at $24 per share, Tesla’s stock has been on a wild ride but ended the year around $28 per share. While its financing merits award, some analysts are skeptical about Tesla’s long-term prospects. In late December 2010, Capstone Investments analyst Carter Driscoll warned that “premium cost and range anxiety” would limit adoption of EVs in general, and that Tesla is further handicapped by the high sales price ($110,000 less $7,500 in tax credits) of its Roadster model. He also questioned whether the firm can hold onto its edge in battery technology. “Their battery packs are among the best and lowest cost in the industry [but] we are skeptical Tesla can drive the next leg of growth as they must convince OEMs to utilize their powertrain technology as well as battery packs.”
Tesla has made no secret that it will lose a lot more money before it makes a profit, noting in its Q3 report that operating costs will “increase significantly in future periods as we, among other things, design, develop and manufacture our planned Model S and electric powertrain components, build and equip new manufacturing facilities to produce the Model S and electric powertrain components, open new Tesla stores with maintenance and repair capabilities, incur costs for warranty repairs or product recalls, if any, increase our sales and marketing activities, and increase our general and administrative functions to support our growing operations.” All of the above underscores that the automobiles business is one of the toughest around, and Tesla deserves credit at least for getting this far.
Bronze Medal ? Better Place (Palo Alto, Calif.), a provider of electric vehicle services, for raising $350 million in a Series B funding round led by HSBC, valuing Better Place at $1.25 billion. New investors in the round were Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Lazard Asset Management, and returning investors include Israel Corp., VantagePoint Venture Partners, Ofer Hi-Tech Holdings, Morgan Stanley Principal Investments, and Maniv Energy Capital. Better Place is developing an electric car network in which customers will be able to lease batteries for a monthly fee and be able to charge their batteries at home for free or swap out batteries at designated locations. The company says it’s on track to launch two test projects in Israel and Denmark in 2011. Better Place’s first major round of private financing was in October 2007 when it raised $200 million.
Consulting & Engineering: Climate Change Practice
Gold Medal ? AECOM (Los Angeles) for achieving a leading position as an advocate and consultant for climate change mitigation and adaptation for private clients in a range of industries as well as governments and institutions. Earning $6.55 billion in revenues for the year ending September 30, 2010-a year-on-year increase of 7%-the architectural and engineering firm has bulked up its climate change expertise significantly over the last several years through acquisition. Among the acquired firms that added to AECOM’s climate change practice: Design and planning firm EDAW (2005), which had 1,200 employees and $120 million in revenues; Earth Tech (2008), an engineering and construction firm with $1.3 billion in revenues and 7,000 employees; A&E firm Ellerbe Becket (2009) with 450 employees; and Spanish A&E firm INOCSA (2010) with 550 employees.
According to data provided to CCBJ, AECOM’s climate change practice has executed more than 150 projects including studies and models for adaptation and plans and strategies for mitigation. In Australia and New Zealand, AECOM has prepared 70 adaptation plans for municipalities, utilities and businesses, and is now working with the Asia Development Bank on climate change studies for Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam. In the U.S., AECOM has prepared climate action plans for 30 local governments, universities and private clients. In transportation, AECOM is a leading advocate for and designer of bus rapid transit systems that can increase ridership capacity at a fraction of the cost of rail systems. AECOM is also completing energy and water masterplans for 31 U.S. federal facilities focusing on reducing carbon emissions as well as costs, and it has conducted a nationwide riverine flood study for FEMA (AECOM is recognized separately for this work under Consulting & Engineering: Climate Change Adaptation). AECOM’s new book Climate Design is a collaboration between its own experts and academics to explore design and planning strategies for the climate change era.
Silver Medal ? ERM (London) for its large and growing sustainability and climate change practice, which today accounts for roughly 10% of its $607 million in revenues for the year ending March 31, 2010. Privately held ERM-founded in 1987 by the merger of U.S. and U.K. firms and now headquartered in the United Kingdom-has a global climate change and sustainability practice led by 30 senior staff with more than 225 professionals in 39 countries working on GHG measurement, management and mitigation, according to John Curtis, Global Climate Change Practice Leader. With a PhD-level “knowledge leader” and a global “carbon school,” ERM is rapidly expanding its in-house climate change expertise.
Clients range from consumer packaged goods and retail giants like PepsiCo and Tesco to the oil and gas sector which represents more than 30% of ERM’s overall revenues. “We are helping many of our oil and gas clients prepare for the extensive GHG reporting requirements under the recently promulgated Subpart W to EPA’s Mandatory Reporting Rule,” Curtis told CCBJ. “We have several large programs underway to assess applicability, evaluate and fill compliance gaps, and develop the programs, tools and systems needed for managing the important data and details related to rule compliance.” Many U.S. clients in unregulated sectors contract with ERM for lifecycle analyses to drive product innovation, eco-design and performance improvement, according to Curtis.
Although ERM’s revenues declined in the recession-from $695 million in the year ending March 31, 2009 to $607 million for the same period in 2010-the firm sees growth “re-emerging in many geographies and sectors, and issues of regulation, reputation and risk, as well as long-term resource needs, will continue to drive spending in our market,” according to a July 2010 operational report. North America is its largest geographic segment, followed by Europe/Middle East/Africa. Asia Pacific is where the company is growing fastest overall and in terms of energy and climate change work.
Bronze Medal ? Environ (Arlington, Va.) for outstanding consulting work around GHG management and mitigation with clients as diverse as Coca Cola Enterprises, The Home Depot, United Airlines, Kiewit, the City of Los Angeles and consortia of air quality regulators. In October 2010, Environ was named by the Carbon Disclosure Project as one of five Silver consultancy partners-to work with CDP to encourage high quality disclosure of climate change related data from global corporations in the United States.
According to North American Practice Leader for Carbon and Energy Lisa Grice, Environ’s domain expertise in oil and gas, food and beverages, marine ports and other sectors has enabled the firm to bring a strategic perspective to clients, integrating GHG management with client’s broader goals for growth and profitability. Environ has a large global energy efficiency business, its largest market being Europe where carbon policies have created a strong demand for energy audits and advice to reduce both costs and carbon emissions. “In the United States, sustainability strategy is gaining momentum with a focus on environmental optimization for business efficiency or customer expectations driving lifecycle assessments for a variety of products ranging from stuffed toys to printing inks,” said Grice. Lifecycle assessments for biofuel producers has been a significant market segment, driven by GHG goals in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. Environ has also assessed GHG emissions associated with land use, producing a methodology manual with the California Association of Air Pollution Control Officers, Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, and National Association of Clean Air Agencies released in August 2010.
Consulting & Engineering: Renewable Energy Practice
CH2M HILL (Englewood, Colo.) for its role as a consultant, owner’s engineer and engineering procurement & construction (EPC) contractor for renewable power generation projects and solar PV manufacturing plants. CH2M HILL is one of the most broadly capable firms in the consulting segment of the wind power industry, performing tasks ranging from upfront analyses of environmental issues and securing permits through wind farm design and engineering, including representing developers in the EPC process as owner’s engineer. In 2010, the company successfully obtained permits for the 800 MW Alta Oak Creek Mojave Wind Energy Project in California; the firm also performed due diligence for a 50MW geothermal plant in California and prepared a cost estimate for a 30 MW flashed steam geothermal plant in Utah.
CH2M HILL is active in both PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) thermal projects. Company representatives told CCBJ that in 2010, it worked for developers in Australia, Canada, Middle East/North Africa and the United States as consulting engineer or EPC contractor on projects totaling 1.2 GW. While most clients are confidential at this stage, it’s publicly known that the firm is the engineer of CSP developer Brightsource’s Ivanpah heliostat assembly building. In the first weeks of 2011, the company won an engineering contract for a 250MW CSP project in Egypt.
CH2M HILL also works on PV manufacturing facilities. In November 2010, REC Group (Sandvika, Norway) celebrated the opening of a 740 MW integrated wafer, cell and module manufacturing plant in Tuas, Singapore, designed and engineered by CH2M HILL’s Industrial and Advanced Technology business group. The largest single investment ever made by REC (which had $633 million in Q3 2010 revenues), according to Solar PV Management Magazine, the $1.93 billion project is the largest cleantech investment ever made in Singapore and one of the world’s largest manufacturing plants of its type. CH2M HILL also provided engineering and design services to PV manufacturing plants representing about 2 GW of capacity, including projects in Malaysia, China, the Middle East and United States. The firm is also assisting PV manufacturers with the complex process of seeking loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy. Employee-owned CH2M HILL had $6.3 billion in revenues in 2009 and a staff of 23,500.
Renewables Portfolio Development
Nextera Energy Resources (Juno Beach, Fla.) for its leadership role in owning and developing utility-scale wind and solar power in North America. With more than 8,200 MW of existing wind power capacity in the United States and Canada, the company, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, produces roughly 20% of wind-generated electricity in the United States. Nextera Energy Resources is also co-owner and operator of the largest concentrating solar power generating plant in the world, the 310 MW SEGS facilities in California’s Mojave desert. In 2010, the company added more than 700 MW of renewable energy to its portfolio.
Nextera is also a major fossil and nuclear power producer, with about 6,700 MW of natural gas generation capacity, 800 MW of oil-fired plants and more than 2,500 MW of nuclear power capacity. Nextera Energy Resources also owns 22 hydropower generating units in Maine with a total of 360 MW of capacity.
For future growth of its generation portfolio, Nextera intends to focus most of its resources on solar and wind. “NextEra Energy Resources plans to add approximately 3,500 mw to 5,000 mw of new wind generation and approximately 400 mw to 600 mw of new solar generation in 2010 through 2014,” states its Q3 2010 report, noting that renewable portfolio standards in 31 states require electricity providers to secure renewable power for between 10% and 25% of their usage (higher in California) by 2025.
Technology Merit: Solar Power
Amonix (Seal Beach, Calif.) for sprinting toward the front of the pack of firms seeking to develop and market concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems that use lenses to concentrate sunlight on high-efficiency PV cells to produce greater power output per square meter than conventional PV modules. In August, 2010, project developer Cogentrix announced a 20-year power purchase agreement with Xcel subsidiary Arizona Public Service for a 30 MW CPV project in Alamosa, Colo., using Amonix’s equipment. If it meets the developers’ target for commercial operation in 2012, Alamosa will be the largest CPV installation in the world.
“Currently the largest one in operation in the U.S. is a 1MW CPV project just completed by SolFocus” in 2010], wrote Ucilia Wang on GigaOm.com. SolFocus is also building a 10 MW CPV project in Spain, according to Wang. Amonix had previous deals to supply its CPV systems to an “undisclosed developer for two projects [totaling 14 MW to supply] Tucson Electric Power under power purchase agreements,” according to Wang. Then, in November 2010, Southern California Edison signed PPA contracts for 28.5 MW of Amonix CPV capacity at four sites in California that are expected to come online in 2013 and 2014.
Amonix, founded in 1989, also celebrated some financing milestones in 2010. In April it received $129.4 million in a Series B financing round from Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, Adams Street Partners, Angeleno Group, PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund, Vedanta Capital, New Silk Route, The Westly Group and prior investor MissionPoint Capital Partners. Amonix also received $9.5 million in ARRA stimulus funding under the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program to create a new manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas, which broke ground in October, and a future facility planned in Arizona.
SolarEdge (Hod Hasharon, Israel) for achieving prominence in an emerging segment of PV system components that maximizes output when one or more modules in a PV array-or cells in a module-underperform due to shading, inherent mismatches or premature degradation. According to an August 2009 Scientific American article by editor George Musser, power loss is multiplied with typical PV array configurations because inverters cannot optimize each module individually but need to select identical current to flow through all modules in the underperforming string.
Musser highlighted SolarEdge’s technology to optimize the output of modules and arrays when a segment is compromised. National Semiconductor and other companies also market PV optimization gear, but SolarEdge’s PowerBox solution has received significant industry notice, including a ranking in the top 10 energy companies (along with FirstSolar, PG&E and Nextera) for 2010 by tech magazine Fast Company. A comparison analysis of six vendors’ optimization systems by the German edition of Photon Magazine called SolarEdge’s system “mature, provid[ing] additional yield and … one of the less expensive solutions,” according to an excerpt provided by SolarEdge. “The PowerBox monitors the performance of each module for fault detection and remote troubleshooting over the Internet, and provides unique safety mechanisms that cut off voltage and current during installation and fire-fighting,” according to SolarEdge, which says it has 30 pending patent applications and has shipped over 250,000 units in over 25 countries in 2010.
Cogenra (Mountain View, Calif.) for commercializing, at least on a limited basis, a solar energy system that makes use of both solar thermal and photovoltaic energy. The Khosla Ventures-funded startup installed its first large system in November 2010 at the Sonoma Wine Company in Graton, Calif., a contract winery that bottles more than 4 million cases a year. The winery installed 15 of Cogenra’s SunBase arrays, which collectively produce 272 kW of electricity and solar hot water.
Calling its technology solar cogeneration (some in this emerging segment call it hybrid PV/thermal or PV/T), Cogenra says it improves system energy production by up to five times over PV-only systems. A story in MIT’s Technology Review, describes the Cogenra system as consisting of 3 x 10 meter parabolic dishes that concentrate sunlight onto PV cells. “Heat is collected with a mixture of glycol and water that flows through an aluminum pipe behind the solar cells” then fed to a heat exchanger and hot water storage tank. “Similar hybrid solar systems have failed in the past because the solar cells have overheated. Cogenra uses sensors to monitor the temperature of its solar cells and an automated control system to draw fluid away more quickly if they need cooling down,” according to Technology Review, which noted that Cogenra hasn’t released cost figures and that the winery installation will serve as an important test site for Cogenra’s technology and PV/T in general.
Technology Merit: Energy Storage
Ice Energy (Windsor, Colo.) for developing and commercializing an elegant energy storage system that can mitigate summer peak demands for cooling that strain electricity grids and increase GHG emissions by requiring the use of inefficient gas-fired peakers. Designed to work with refrigerant-based direct expansion AC systems common to small and medium-sized commercial buildings, the firm’s Ice Bear system freezes 450 gallons of water at night, when demand is low and electricity is cheaper. During peak demand periods, usually from noon to 6 pm, “the Ice Bear unit replaces the energy intensive compressor of the building’s air conditioning unit,” according to Ice Energy’s website. According to VentureBeat.com, “Ice Energy initially started out marketing its product to big-box retailers like Target [then] shifted its strategy to utilities, signing deals with Austin Energy, Toronto Hydro and several Southern California utilities that will install 50 megawatts’ worth of the storage systems.” In 2010, Ice Energy achieved a number of financing and marketing milestones, including raising $24 million in third round financing from TIAA-CREF, Good Energies and others.
Technology Merit: Light Rail Manufacturing
The Mobility Division of Siemens Industry for manufacturing zero-emission products and using sustainable practices at its light rail vehicles facility in Sacramento – the only permanent light rail manufacturing plant on US soil. The plant recently added 200 full-time jobs and intends to hire another 250 people, following a $26 million expansion in 2009. Up to 80% of the facility’s energy needs are met with a two megawatt solar power system. VOC waste was reduced by more than 50% while production increased by more than 200% in the last three years. In addition, over 80% of all the non-food/wet waste materials from the entire Sacramento plant are sent for sorting and recycling.
Project Merit: Solar Power
SunRun (San Francisco) for some 7,000 residential systems installed-a huge customer base considering the start-up had fewer than 100 customers in early 2008 when CCBJ first covered SunRun. The company was just starting to deploy the solar-as-a-service model-in which a homeowner buys PV-generated electricity through a power purchase agreement while SunRun retains ownership-that had been so successful for commercial PV integrators such as Sun Edison. SunRun had made deals with three California PV installers; now it has 30 in seven states and recently firmed a $100 million tax-equity financing deal PG&E subsidiary Pacific Energy Capital to install more than 3,500 new rooftop residential solar systems in Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
A key to SunRun’s business model is effectively monetizing the 30% investment tax credit, renewable energy credits and other income streams flowing from its PV systems. According to a December 2010 story on Xconomy.com by Wade Roush, SunRun succeeded in doing its first tax credit deal- $20 million with U.S. Bancorp-in the early days of the Great Recession because of “the innovative way the company sliced and diced the tax credits, depreciation, local subsidies, and 20-year power contracts.”
SunRun also assures performance by monitoring its PV systems remotely and dispatching maintenance contractors when needed to clean or repair units. To ease the sales cycle, it created an online pricing engine “that takes into account everything from local tax laws to the pitch of the homeowner’s roof and spits out a price quote on the fly,” wrote Roush, noting that consumers have a range of options for how much to pay down versus monthly. “Between January and October , the pricing engine generated 168,000 proposals.” SunRun has raised $85 million in venture funding from Foundation Capital, Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital. Along with the rest of the solar industry, SunRun rejoiced when Congress extended the grant-in-lieu-of investment tax credit in December. “The program’s continuation will enable it to build 36,000 more residential solar installations than it could have otherwise,” wrote Roush.
AECOM (Los Angeles) and its client Solar Millennium (Erlangen, Germany) for obtaining in Q3 2010 final approvals from the U.S. Department of the Interior and California Energy Commission to construct about 1,500 of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity in the California and Nevada deserts. The larger of the two, the nearly 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Plant, will be the largest CSP project in the world. Using parabolic trough technology, the plant will consist of four 242 MW solar-thermal power units plants, the first two units of which broke ground in early 2011. Investor-owned utility Southern California Edison has signed a power purchase agreement with Solar Millennium for this first phase of Blythe.
The nearby Palen Solar Power Project will produce an additional 500 MW. AECOM supported Solar Millennium throughout the two-year federal and state regulatory approval process for both projects, performing baseline environmental, biological, cultural resources and impact assessments; groundwater surveys; conceptual engineering; civil design; and drainage analysis; and assisting with evidentiary hearings and stakeholder workshops, according to information submitted by AECOM.
CSP plants convert solar radiation into heat energy. In a parabolic trough plant like the ones being developed by Solar Millennium, trough-shaped mirrors concentrate the radiation onto a pipe “in the focal line of the collector,” explained the company in a news release. “Its absorption heats a fluid heat medium in the pipe, generating steam in the power block through a heat exchanger. As in conventional power plants, the steam powers a turbine to generate electricity. By integrating thermal storage, electricity can be supplied on demand, even after sunset.” Solar Millennium LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Solar Trust of America LLC, the American joint venture between Solar Millennium (70 percent) and Ferrostaal (30 percent).
Kaiser Permanente (Oakland) for launching a solar PV initiative that will see PV arrays at 15 Kaiser Permanente buildings in 2011. The total program with Recurrent Energy will include 15 MW of PV capacity, which Kaiser believes will qualify as “one of the largest sustainable energy programs in U.S. health care.” Panels will go up at medical centers in Vallejo, Santa Clara, Fontana, San Diego and other cities, producing an average of 10 percent of site power demand, according to Kaiser. The firm has set an ambitious goal of generating 25 percent of energy on site by 2020, and last year invested $2.4 million to install window film and new lights that alone should save more than $1.2 million annually in energy costs. The not-for-profit healthcare provider serves 8.6 million members and had operating revenue of $42.1 billion in 2009, according to company data.
Nexamp (North Andover, Mass.) for winning the competition to build what the company described as Massachusetts’ largest ever public solar contract: $20 million to build 4.1 MW of PV capacity at 12 water and wastewater treatment plants in the state. Funded with federal stimulus dollars, the project is on schedule to be completed by mid-2011. Also in 2010, Nexamp and the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce were awarded a first-of-its-kind contract to provide renewable energy and energy efficiency advisory services to 26 member businesses. Because of these and other projects, including the state’s largest roof-mounted solar project (1 MW for National Grid) and a 100 kW installation at Wire Belt in Londonderry, NH, Nexamp added 28 employees in 2010.
Project Merit: Green Building
Arcadis (Amsterdam) and its U.S. planning, design and engineering subsidiary RTKL for designing and engineering eBay’s $287 million Topaz data center in South Jordan, Utah. Opening in May 2010, the facility received a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council in November. According to Arcadis, the data center, which processes roughly $2,000 in transactions every second for eBay.com and Paypal.com, is 50 percent less expensive to operate than the average eBay data center and 30 percent more efficient than the most efficient data center in the eBay portfolio. Key green and energy-efficient features include: cooling with a water-side economizer system supported by a 400,000 gallon rainwater cistern; using outside air to cool the data center for more than half the year; 400V power distribution, eliminating an entire level of transformers and saving 2% in power costs; in-row cooling units for close-coupled cooling; and a hot air containment system to isolate the hot and cold air within the server area.
Project Merit: Adaptation
AECOM (Los Angeles) for leading a nationwide investigation of the impact of climate change on the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and providing improved coastal flood plain mapping. AECOM performed the innovative analyses evaluating the financial impact of climate change on the NFIP, which is a government-run insurance program administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The project addressed riverine and coastal flood response to climate change, with projections at 20-year intervals through 2100, according to information from AECOM. Riverine analyses were based on modeled projections of climate factors from global models and multiple emissions scenarios. Results and existing regression models for stream discharges at over 2300 U.S. gage sites were used to establish generalized relationships incorporating climate indicators. Coastal analyses accounted for changes in storm frequencies and intensities, as well as sea level rise. All analyses used a Monte Carlo framework to capture median forecasts and measures of uncertainty. The change estimates for flood elevations and hazard areas were integrated with demographic and insurance data to determine the financial implications. Study results are intended as national estimates relevant to the overall health of the NFIP in the face of climate change. However, regional variations suggested priority areas meriting more detailed study when better climate information becomes available, according to AECOM.
Project Merit: Renewable Development
EMPSi (San Francisco) for developing the Restoration Design Energy Plan for the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and cooperating state agencies in Arizona. This $1.4 million multi-year contract will help Arizona achieve its goal of sourcing 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. The plan will be a roadmap for renewable energy development on federal lands in Arizona with a focus on areas that are already disturbed or that have few environmental constraints. The aim is to foster environmentally responsible projects and allow permitting to proceed efficiently by allocating specific sites for renewable energy. The BLM manages 12.2 million acres of land in Arizona but the planning area includes the entire state.
The project will identify disturbed or previously utilized lands in Arizona that, after remediation or site preparation, may be suitable for renewable energy development or generation. BLM Arizona and members of the public have identified 59 potential sites on federal, state, municipal, and private lands including gravel pits, mine sites, landfills, isolated parcels that have been disturbed and abandoned unauthorized airstrips. EMPSi is examining these lands for potential reclamation and use for energy generation. Funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the draft plan will be released in 2011.
Project Merit: Wind Power
Cape Wind Associates (Boston) for nearing what looks like the finish line of an epic 10-year effort to build a 468 MW wind power project in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After hotly contested local and state and permitting battles were concluded in 2009, Cape Wind won approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior in April. In January 2011, Cape Wind completed its federal permitting process with final approvals from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In November 2010, the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Utilities approved Cape Wind’s first power purchase agreement, authorizing National Grid to purchase half the project’s output for $187/MWh for 15 years, with a 3.5% annual escalation clause, a contract the DPU estimated at between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion NPV. At CCBJ’s deadline, Cape Wind was seeking project finance to build what would become the first offshore wind farm in North America.
Project Merit: Landfill Gas
Republic Services (Phoenix) for investment in landfill gas to energy (LFGE) projects to produce electricity, pipeline gas and compressed natural gas for the company’s growing fleet of natural gas refuse vehicles. In its largest 2010 project, the waste management and environmental services firm ($6.1 billion revenues for nine months ending Sept. 30, 2010) contracted with Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to build a high-BTU LFGE plant at Republic’s Sauk Trail Hills Landfill site in Canton, Mich. At full capacity, the facility is expected to produce the equivalent of 6 million diesel gallon equivalents annually. Fourteen smaller projects at California landfills will produce compressed or liquefied natural gas to fuel Republic’s refuse vehicles.
Republic added 247 new natural gas vehicles (NGVs)-20 percent of its 2010 new truck orders-bringing its nationwide NGV fleet to 500, according to the company. CNG fueling stations are being constructed to support this fleet upgrade at Gardena, Sun Valley and Chula Vista, Calif., and Bellevue, Wash. Republic and Mack Trucks are also working together to test diesel garbage trucks equipped with selective catalytic reduction and the first American-built diesel hybrid garbage truck.
In a separate project, NV Energy and CC Landfill Energy LLC entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement for the sale of energy produced from an 11 MW LFGE power generation project to be located at Republic Services’ Apex Regional Landfill north of Las Vegas.
Product Introduction Award
General Motors and Nissan deserve credit for being first with broad commercial launches of electric cars in late 2010. According to The Detroit News, General Motors sold between 250 and 350 Chevrolet Volts in December 2010, while Nissan and its Leaf recorded sales of 10 delivered units in its first month in December. While still just a drop in the bucket of auto sales, waiting lists for both are more than full, with several thousands of buyers reportedly waiting for their electric vehicle. In the United States, Chevrolet Volt has a starting price of $41,000, or $33,500 net of the federal income tax credit. In addition, General Motors is offering financing options and will lease the Volt for as low as $350 for 36 months and a down payment of $2,500. The Nissan Leaf is less expensive with a purchase price of as low as $25,300 after the federal tax credit, with additional rebates from states including $5,000 tax rebate in California, a $5,000 tax credit in Georgia, a $1,500 tax credit in Oregon and others. While 2010 was a year of commercial introduction for electric cars, 2011 will be a legitimate test of consumer uptake and infrastructure development for charging, service and maintenance.
NGO Activist Award
Gold Standard Foundation (Cambridge, Mass.) for achieving market leadership as a certifier of high-quality carbon offsets. To date, there are over 500 projects in the Gold Standard pipeline, according to the foundation which was founded in 2003 by the Worldwide Fund for Nature and other NGOs in response to criticism of the Clean Development Mechanism. To qualify for the Gold Standard seal, project developers must use renewable energy or energy efficiency technologies, meet strict additionality standards and show they’re positively impacting the local community. These are valued by carbon buyers who have rewarded Gold Standard projects with price premiums. According to 2009 market data in Ecosystem Marketplace’s 2010 carbon markets report, Gold Standard offsets fetched the second highest price premium among voluntary offset certification regimes behind Greenhouse Gas Friendly, a pre-compliance certification regime established by the Australian government.