In October-December 2011, Climate Change Business Journal solicited the climate change industry and the environmental industry via email, website and word-of-mouth for nominations for the third annual CCBJ Business Achievement Awards. Nominations were accepted in 200-word essays in both specific or unspecified categories. Final awards were determined by a committee of CCBJ staff and CCBJ editorial advisory board members. Award nominations were open to any firm or organization in the climate change industry, and companies were permitted to submit their own nominations.
The 2011 CCBJ Business Achievement Awards will be presented to recipients in attendance at a special ceremony at Environmental Industry Summit X at the Hotel del Corondo in San Diego, Calif. on the evening of March 14, 2012. The Environmental Industry Summit is an annual three-day event (March 14-16) hosted by Environmental Business International, the publisher of CCBJ and Environmental Business Journal. Congratulations to the 2011 award winners. 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 ? Siemens (Munich) is ranked by CCBJ as the world’s largest climate change industry (CCI) firm by revenues, with between $20 billion and $30 billion of FY 2010 sales attributable to products and services that reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as wind turbines, highly efficient gas turbines, light rail systems, energy-efficient equipment and services and adaptive traffic management systems. All of these products and services are grouped under Siemens Environmental Portfolio (which also includes some non-GHG mitigation technology), and for the year ending September 30, 2011, Siemens reported that its Environmental Portfolio revenues grew to ¢ã29.9 billion, 8% growth over the prior year, a remarkable achievement in the continuing global recession. Siemens also reported that its FY 2011 Environmental Portfolio revenues were 20% above the target the company originally set when it was launched in 2008.
In addition to revenues, Siemens’ environmental products and services have also resulted in 317 million metric tons of accumulated annual CO2-equivalent reductions for its customers, in the company’s reckoning, a figure that Siemens compares to the total emissions Berlin, Delhi, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, New York and Tokyo. Siemens Environmental Portfolio’s products and solutions meet one of three criteria-energy efficiency, renewable energy and environmental technologies-and fall into eight categories: renewable energy, fossil power generation, power transmission and distribution, industry solutions, water, building technologies, mobility and healthcare.
Gold Medal ? SolarCity (Foster City, Calif.) for geographic diversification and sales growth with its SolarLease and SolarPPA business, which serves residential and small business customers who want solar power systems on their homes and businesses but don’t want to (or can’t) finance the large upfront capital costs to own their own PV system. While privately held SolarCity doesn’t disclose revenues, it claims to have added 1,200 employees since 2007 and served more than 15,000 individual customers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. Large customers include WalMart, Intel, eBay and the Federal government.
In February 2011, Google and SolarCity announced a $280 million fund to finance residential PV systems. And in November 2011, SolarCity and Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced a financing agreement for SolarStrong, SolarCity’s five-year, $1 billion initiative to build approximately 300 MW of solar power capacity for privatized U.S. military housing communities across the country. The deal was greatly aided by SolarCity’s $344 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Silver Medal ? Echelon (San Jose) has achieved a credible claim to being, in the company’s words, the world’s leading open-standard energy control networking company. Echelon technologies connect more than 35 million homes, 300,000 buildings and 100 million devices to the smart grid, and help customers save 20% or more on their energy usage, according to the company. After booking modest 6% growth in 2010, Echelon’s revenues have grown by 63% in the nine months ending September 30, 2011, driven mostly by sales to utilities, which rose by $41.1 million, or 128% year-on-year for the nine-month period. Echelon has a fast-growing international business, with major projects in Europe, Russia, Japan, Brazil and China. In December 2011, the company was honored with an Export Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
By targeting high-growth regions with its energy control networking systems, subsystems and components, Echelon is further establishing its presence as a global force in the smart grid industry, according to the company. It achieved significant milestones in 2011, including the approval of its smart meters in Brazil, a new partnership with Holley Metering to serve the smart grid market in China by connecting 300 million homes and businesses, and an important street lighting win in Oslo, Norway.
Bronze Medal ? Molycorp (Greenwood Village, Colo.), the only U.S-based producer of rare earth materials that is fully integrated across the mine-to-magnets supply chain, has achieved extraordinary sales growth since its August 2010 IPO. The company booked revenues of $263.9 million for the nine months ending September 30, 2011, while its revenues were just $13.5 million through the same period in 2010. Much of the revenue is attributed to increased rare earth oxide (REO) production at its existing Mountain Pass facility, as well as increased prices for rare earths. Molycorp also made two acquisitions in April 2011 that have added to its annual revenue: Molycorp Silmet (formerly AS Silmet), which produces high-purity REOs and rare metals in Estonia, and Molycorp Tolleson (formerly Santoku America, Inc.), an Arizona facility that produces high-purity rare earth metals and alloys, including Neodymium-Iron-Boron (NdFeB) alloy and Samarium-Cobalt (SmCo) alloy used to manufacture highly prized permanent rare earth magnets.
Molycorp, whose rare earth materials are critical to clean energy technologies such as wind and hydro power turbines, batteries and motors for electric vehicles, fuel cells, and compact fluorescent and LED lighting, is modernizing and expanding its Mountain Pass, Calif., rare earth mine, mill and manufacturing facilities. The first phase of the $895 million project will enable Molycorp to produce REOs at an annual rate of 19,050 metric tons by the end of third quarter of 2012, according to the company. Molycorp is also linking its rare earth material supply chain to key end use technologies. The company formed a joint venture with Japan’s Daido Steel and Mitsubishi to manufacture NdFeB magnets and invested $20 million in Boulder Wind Power, a development company pioneering new, highly efficient wind turbine technology.
Business Achievement: Finance
Gold Medal ? Google (Mountain View, Calif.) quietly ended in November 2011 its quest to develop renewable energy technology that would generate power more cheaply than coal. That announcement on google’s green blog came as no surprise to observers who had noted the company was shifting investment from its main coal-beating champions—enhanced geothermal power and the brayton engine technology for concentrating solar power (CSP)—to investments in traditional renewable energy projects.
Google’s investments in clean energy projects totaled $915 million by the end of 2011, according to the company, after its December announcement of a $94 million investment in a portfolio of four solar PV projects being built by Recurrent Energy near Sacramento. Earlier in 2011 the search engine giant, whose revenues rose 31% to $27.3 billion in the nine months ending September 30, had invested $168 million in BrightSource Energy’s 392 MW Ivanpah CSP project, $100 million in the massive 845 MW Shepherds Flat wind farm under development in Oregon by Caithness Energy and an undisclosed share in a $280 million fund established with SolarCity to finance residential PV systems. Google is also driving the renewable energy market with its own clean power purchases, including the PPA announced in April with NextEra Energy Resources for 100.8 MW of capacity from NextEra’s Minco II Wind Energy Center under development in Oklahoma’s Grady and Caddo counties.
It took guts to paint such a prominent target on the back of coal power, the number-one source of greenhouse gases in the world. Google was a pioneer in focusing so much on the Brayton engine design for CSP, but it was by no means alone in being optimistic—overly so, as it turned out—about the near-term potential for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technology. EGS made headlines in 2007-2008 because of an MIT report projecting that 100,000 MW of capacity could come online as EGS technology opened up vast new geothermal resources. Google deserves credit for taking such a bold risk-and for being willing to acknowledge that the challenge of “tak[ing] this [technology] research to the next level” was beyond the company’s capabilities.
Silver Medal ? Renewable Funding (Oakland, Calif.) for quickly recovering from the nearly mortal blow delivered by Federal morgage agencies in July 2010 to the company’s breakthrough idea for renewable energy and energy efficiency in the residential sector-property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing-and pushing ahead to help federal, state and local governments deploy similar models to ignite energy efficiency investment in the commercial building sector.
In January, 2011, Renewable Funding was selected to provide technology and finance administration services for Energy Upgrade California, a public-private collaboration to integrate state, local, and utility retrofit programs and services and provide a common platform for consumers, contractors, and program managers. As part of the program, the company is administering a loan loss reserve fund aimed at attracting private-sector lenders to the County of Los Angeles’ Energy Upgrade California Program; in August it issued an RFP for lenders.
In October 2011, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced the GreenFinanceSF-Commercial program aimed at using PACE financing to support investments by commercial building owners in energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation. Renewable Funding is also one of the six financing partners stepping up to pledge at least $50 million to the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge.
Consulting & Engineering: Climate Change Practice
Gold Medal ? WSP Environment & Energy (WSP) for achieving a position as one of the world’s leading advisors on sustainability and climate change issues. WSP’s specialist Sustainability & Energy practice employs more than 150 professionals, drawing on expertise from WSP’s approximately 9,000 professional staff worldwide. In North America alone, WSP’s Sustainability & Energy practice grew revenues by 30% in 2011 and is strongly positioned to maintain this growth trajectory in 2012 and beyond, according to the company.
Through 2011, the firm has provided greenhouse gas management support to seven of 11 companies named to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s S&P 500 Carbon Performance Leadership Index, including Bank of America and Cisco Systems.
In 2011, WSP clients achieved an average score of 86, while the average score for S&P 500 companies was 62. Bank of America described WSP’s support as “critical” in helping the company articulate its commitments and achievements and ensure that its approach and methodology was appropriate. The bank had a score of 97 for 2011.
While many of the details of client assignments are not disclosed publicly, WSP has worked with the above listed companies and others to develop their sustainability visions and strategies, design principles and standards, product and service innovations, customer engagement, impact assessment and external relations initiatives. Its GHG advisory work includes scope 1, 2 and 3 inventories, development of corporate GHG reduction goals, strategies and projects.
For one major corporation, WSP has recently performed a climate change risk assessment and adaptation plan for a strategic location in the United Kingdom. The work was focused on climate change impacts for 2020, 2050 and 2080 time horizons and involved: a review of regional climate information and location specific climate scenarios; an evaluation of operations likely to be impacted over the three time horizons; a set of recommendations to address the residual climate change risks; and a climate change action plan which defines responsibilities and a monitoring program for implementation.
Silver Medal ? Parsons Brinckerhoff (New York) for its work developing and implementing projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and incorporate climate change adaptation strategies in planning and transportation, and for its consulting engineering services in renewable energy and compressed air energy storage.
In 2010 and 2011, the firm worked with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to motivate and support state DOTs to respond to climate change. Parsons Brinckerhoff assisted in developing AASHTO’s climate change website (climatechange.transportation.org), conducted national webinars, oversaw a weekly climate change news brief and ran one-day workshops on climate change for DOTs in seven states and the District of Columbia.
Parsons Brinckerhoff was contracted by the Strategic Highway Research Program to research and advise on how GHG emissions can be integrated into highway planning; the firm identified cost-effective strategies and produced a practitioners’ handbook. On the policy front, Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Cindy Burbank worked for the Center for Climate and Energy Strategies (the renamed Pew climate change group) to develop legislative policy recommendations for GHG reductions from transportation.
In the planning realm, Parsons Brinckerhoff partnered with the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations in 2011 to raise awareness of climate change among MPOs and assist MPO staff to identify strategies, tools and best practices. Also in 2011, the firm completed a climate change mitigation and adaptation policy plan for the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission.
Parsons Brinckerhoff has also been in the forefront of research and advice on climate adaptation for transportation. In 2011, the firm’s work for the National Academy of Sciences, Federal Highway Administration, Maryland State Highway Administration and other clients focused on understanding the implications of climate change at the organizational and project levels and helping develop guidance for incorporating adaptation strategies to ensure transportation network resiliency in the face of climate uncertainties.
In renewable energy, Parsons Brinckerhoff works with a variety of clients on conventional hydropower development and relicensing and technology assessments for tidal power. In energy storage, the firm is in the early phases of design for NYSEG, an Iberdrola subsidiary, on a 150 MW advanced compressed air energy storage demonstration plant funded with $29.3 million in Recovery Act funds. The professional services division of Balfour Beatty, Parsons Brinckerhof had revenues of $2.5 billion in 2010.
Consulting & Engineering: Renewable Energy Practice
Gold Medal ? Ecology & Environment for achieving revenue growth of 37% in 2011 from its U.S. renewable energy practice, which includes feasibility studies, conceptual design and project siting, environmental assessment, permitting and construction monitoring.
E&E doubled solar revenues generated from its utility-scale practice group, helping clients permit and build approximately 3,800 MW of PV projects across eight states. It completed a third-party EIS for the Bureau of Land Management on the Lucerne Valley Solar Project, as well as an EA and permitting for the California Valley Solar Ranch Project, which will be the largest solar PV project in California and one of the largest in the world.
E&E has cumulatively been engaged in more than 380 wind power projects, and in 2011 it developed all biological data to permit a very large 134-turbine, 201 MW project in Kansas. The firm’s geothermal business grew by 155%, with contracts in Imperial County and the June release of the DEIS for the West Chocolate Mountain Renewable Energy Evaluation Area.
E&E also earned revenues from renewable energy projects in Brazil, Chile and Peru. E & E do Brasil completed over a dozen transmission line projects related to hydroelectric power in 2011, including socioeconomic studies for IE Madeira’s Coletora Porto Velho-to-Araraquara 600-kV project, in which wo 2,375-km transmission lines will cross five states to interconnect the ER Madeira hydroelectric complex with the National Grid System.
Professional Services: Climate Change Practice
Gold Medal ? Climate Focus (Amsterdam) for its climate change policy consulting and advisory work for companies, governments, NGOs and multilateral funding agencies like the World Bank. With a staff of just over 20 economists, engineers, attorneys and other professionals, Climate Focus has achieved a position as a leading source of independent expertise and advice on international and national climate policy, project design and finance.
Among Climate Focus’ 2011 accomplishments: winning an assignment (with Gaia Carbon Finance and Triodos Facet) from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to support the development of carbon finance in Turkey; publishing a handbook on CDM Programme of Activities (which allows carbon credits to be generated by multiple projects under one managing entity) in Spanish; held an international webinar on the potential for small-scale renewables in rural electrification; authored or co-authored reports on climate change and agriculture, adaptation funding, design of nationally appropriate mitigation actions, the future of joint implementation projects in Europe, and other critical topics.
The firm has particular expertise in the development of policies to shape what could be an enormously important use of carbon finance in developing countries: REDD+, which stands for reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation, combined with broader sustainability goals.
Climate Focus was the lead consultant to the Verified Carbon Standard in developing a methodology framework for REDD projects, which passed audits by SQS and the Rainforest Alliance in December 2010. And in 2011, Climate Focus staff led or co-led REDD methodology training workshops in South Africa, Mexico, Thailand, Panama and internationally through webinars.
Technology Merit: Climate Change Adaptation
CLIMsystems (Hamilton, New Zealand) for achieving a leading position in the climate change risk and adaptation assessment industry. Evidence of the firm’s accomplishment in this regard can be seen in the extensive citation of models generated with the company’s SimCLIM software in the October 2011 guidance document on sea level rise issued by the IPCC’s Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impacts and Climate Analysis.
CLIMsystems has taken technology developed in a university environment and made it commercially available for governments, academics, multilateral lending agencies and consulting & engineering firms such as CLIMsystems’ affiliates and partners CH2M HILL and Stratus Consulting. In 2011, the SimCLIM modeling system was used in coastal assessments in the Philippines and Alexandria, Va. CLIMsystems has also assisted with building capacity for the UNFCCC reporting for Second National Communications in Vanuatu, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Nauru, and Eritrea. The company has also completed projects in China through the Asia Pacific Network, and Vietnam’s Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology, and Environment has adopted the SimCLIM software system.
Formal software linkages with other software providers were created with the Decision Support Systems for Agrotechnology Transfer and the new eWater product range developed in Australia. CLIMsystems is also the primary developer of GENIES (Global Environment and National Information Evaluation System) for urban impact analysis for five multilateral development banks.
With a scientific advisory panel of Nobel laureates and leading climate scientists, and partners supporting software developments, CLIMsystems is positioned to maintain leadership in understanding and translating climate science risk into decisions and action for climate resilience.
Technology Merit: Wind Power
Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (Boston) for developing the first large wind turbine blade testing facility in the United States. The Wind Technology Testing Center (WTTC) Large Blade Testing Facility seeks to improve U.S. competitiveness in the wind turbine manufacturing industry by offering convenient and cost-effective testing and certification to international standards-such as IEC, GL and DNV-for wind turbine blades up to 90 meters in length. The CEC says the facility will allow large and small blade companies to test new and innovative products, methods or components without having to wait years to get into an overseas facility.
The $40 million facility, funded by a Recovery Act grant, charges approximately $500,000 for a battery of tests and certification, ranging from fatigue testing to lightning protection. As of December 2011, three manufacturers had commissioned tests of four blades since the facility opened in May. The WTTC building itself deploys a number of energy-efficient features, including recovering heat from the hydraulic system for space heating.
Project Merit: Energy Efficiency & Demand Response
Comverge (Norcross, Ga.) for winning a bid to develop Africa’s first electric utility demand response program, a 16-month pilot with South Africa’s Eskom to create and co-manage an open market for DR. Comverge will aggregate 500 MW of load, including at least 100 MW of capacity to be brought to market by new domestic curtailment service providers that Comverge will recruit, train and certify.
According to Pike Research, the Eskom program will provide “improved grid reliability, balance supply and demand, and ultimately address the nation’s power supply [constraints], which is currently under strain with peak demand of around 37,000 MW.” Pike projects this win driving revenue growth for Comverge in 2012 and helping it gain an edge in a new market over competitors such as EnerNOC and Oracle, which Pike suspects also bid on the deal.
If successful, the pilot could launch a “growing international DR business, which is one of Comverge’s key strategic goals for 2012 and beyond,” wrote Pike’s Marianne Hedin, noting that March 2011, the company established its first international subsidiary. Pike estimates the global DR services market will grow at an average 37% annually through 2016, with growth in emerging markets of between 42% and 50% in that period.
Michaels Engineering (La Crosse, Wis.) whose Michaels Energy division has targeted convenience stores with energy management and efficiency measures that typically achieve energy savings of 15% to 20% at costs of less than $.08/kWh and $0.80 per therm of natural gas, according to the firm. Michaels uses its own proprietary set of standardized measures which the firm says goes deeper than the prescriptive and direct-install programs that utilities offer but is still affordable and easy to implement by contractors. Michaels built its measures list after auditing convenience stores in the Midwest.
C-stores are small, typically between 3,500 and 5,000 square feet, but with lots of refrigeration, coffee makers and hot-food dispensers that are very energy dense, consuming between 90 and 210 kWh per square foot annually, according to Michaels.
Michaels is also targeting community banks and another class of trade that it hasn’t disclosed yet. In an industry where intellectual property is difficult to develop, Michaels wishes to hold its list of measures proprietary, but told CCBJ that it focuses on O&M and includes installing electrically commutated evaporator fan motors and LED case lighting.
With about 145,000 convenience stores operating in the United States (according to the National Association of Convenience Stores), Michaels Energy is targeting an enormous market that hasn’t received a lot of attention from the energy management and efficiency industry.
Project Merit: Solar Power
SunPower (San Jose), which won a CCBJ bronze award in 2010 for revenue growth, deserves similar honors for 2011, as its revenue grew by 36% to $1.75 billion for the nine months ending Sept. 30, 2011. But CCBJ is singling the company out for its achievements as a developer and builder of large PV projects. That business grew dramatically in 2011, driving SunPower’s Utility and Power Project segment to $872.9 million for the nine-month period, 67% growth year-on-year. The company booked revenues (under percentage-of-completion accounting method) for a 20 MW project in Ontario and three U.S. plants totaling 60 MW, according to SunPower’s Q3 report.
In June 2011 SunPower and client Glimcher Realty Trust (Columbus, OH), a real estate investment trust, completed what they say is the largest rooftop PV system in North America. The 4.8 MW facility at the Jersey Gardens shopping mall in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was designed and built by SunPower using its T5 Solar Roof Tile technology. Glimcher has entered into a power purchase agreement to sell the electric power to Clean Focus Corp. Gerdling Edlen’s renewable energy and financing subsidiary Gerdling Edlen Sustainable Solutions.
Another 2011 milestone for SunPower was the completion of permitting for its 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch, which upon completion will be the largest solar PV project in California, according to the company. CVSR is unique in that it incorporates a 14,000-acre conservation program to be managed in perpetuity for special status species-an unprecedented benefit from a utility-scale project, according to SunPower’s principal environmental consultant, Ecology & Environment.
Southern California Edison (Rosemead, Calif.) for dramatically increasing the solar-generated electricity it uses in its vast service territory of about 50,000 miles that stretches from the eastern Sierra to Orange County and incorporates about 14 million people.
SCE is not the largest utility buyer of solar-generated power in the United States-that honor goes to Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which was recognized by CCBJ in 2009 for its renewable portfolio development. But SCE is a close second, with its solar procurement and customer-owned generation growing rapidly. By the end of 2010, SCE had signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) for about 1,600 MW of PV projects.
In 2011, the utility (which had revenues of $8.06 billion for the nine months ending Sept. 30, 2011) signed some mammoth solar PPAs, including one for 711 MW with SunPower and one for 250 MW with First Solar. SCE is committed to procuring 500 MW of PV-generated power under its Solar Photovoltaics Program (which will include 125 MW of utility-owned generation), and PV projects will likely be a major component of energy SCE procures under the new (commission-mandated) renewable auction mechanism. In terms of customer-owned PV capacity, SCE has approximately 350 MW of projects underway or installed on its grid, with a 2016 goal of 805 MW under the California Solar Initiative (CSI).
SCE also achieved at least two important solar energy milestones in 2011. In December, the utility and its partners, industrial real estate owner Prologis and consumer packaged goods manufacturer Kimberly-Clark (Kleenex, Scott, Huggies), completed a 4.9 MW PV array, one of the largest in the United States, on Kimberly-Clark’s Redlands distribution center. Prologis managed construction while SCE is the investor and owner.
In November, SCE broke new ground in utility procurement of concentrating solar power (CSP), striking a deal with Brightsource Energy to compensate the developer for the added value of a SolarPLUS molten salt storage system that will allow the facility to provide baseload and even peaking power when it comes online in 2016 or 2017. As detailed in CCBJ’s April/May 2011 solar energy edition, deployment of storage is seen as critically important to the future of CSP, which is suffering due to the rapid price decreases in PV modules. While Brightsource and other CSP developers still have to prove that storage can deliver flexible power at reasonable prices, SCE’s contract can be seen as a signal of the utility’s confidence that Brightsource, at least, will achieve this goal.
JinkoSolar, (Shanghai), Premier Power (El Dorado Hills, Calif) and Dependable Companies (Los Angeles) for what may be the largest solar PV system installed on an industrial high-rise building anywhere in the world. The 1.2 MW rooftop PV array uses 5,292 JinkoSolar modules to cover approximately 300,000 square feet of The Dependable Companies’-a logistics service company providing trucking, warehousing, freight forwarding and air freight-headquarters in East Los Angeles.
While larger multi-MW rooftop PV arrays are becoming more common, this project is arguably unique from the perspective of the five-story industrial building’s height-110 feet. To ensure the system stands up to the significantly higher wind loads than a typical low-elevation PV system would endure, a hybrid racking system with ballast attached at strategic high-wind points was used, as well as a hinge-and-lock feature that allows each module to be lifted up for maintenance access. Premier Power was the EPC Contractor; Clenergy (Palm Desert, Calif.) manufactured the racking system; Current Electric (Orange, Calif.) was the electrical contractor; and Tecta America (Rosemont, Ill.) was the roofing contractor.
New Jersey American Water (Voorhees, NJ) for developing a 112 kW PV power plant in a uniquely challenging location: the surface of a reservoir that freezes and thaws regularly in winter months. A subsidiary of American Water Works Co., a water supply and wastewater treatment company with revenues of $2.04 billion for the nine months ending Sept. 30, 2011, New Jersey American Water is “extremely confident” that the $1.35 million system will survive in a freeze-thaw environment and believes that the system will be the first in the world to successfully do so. “Limited floating solar photovoltaic systems have been installed in warm-weather climates,” said American Water’s Denise Venuti. “These systems, however, have previously not been able to survive freeze/thaw weather cycles.”
EPC contractor ENERACTIVE Solutions used a specialized docking and polystyrene float system manufactured by Poralu Marine and a “creative” anchoring system manufactured by Seaflex to ensure the system withstands severe weather conditions. The cost for modules and construction was $880,000; design/build and construction management came to $297,000, and New Jersey American Water spent $173,000 in labor, overhead and other costs.
The floating array was chosen in large part because the 1920s vintage water treatment plant to which it supplies electricity was surrounded by protected lands where a ground-mounted array wouldn’t have been permitted. American Water is evaluating the array’s performance and its potential for a wider deployment on other reservoirs.
CH2M HILL (Englewood, Colo.) for supporting the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Communities program to accelerate the adoption of solar energy in 25 U.S. cities. CH2M HILL developed a web-based Solar Mapping tool that allows a city’s residents to assess the precise solar potential of each building in a neighborhood, rooftop by rooftop, through a combination of aerial imagery and advanced 3-D modeling, providing a proven method of jump-starting the conversion to solar energy.
In 2011, CH2M HILL completed and released the PV Cost Convergence Model and the PV Economic Development Report for Solar America. The cost model forecasts when solar energy costs may become competitive with existing grid electricity rates in each of the 25 Solar America Cities, and the economic development report is designed to help cities develop their strategies for increasing local solar energy generation capacity as well as recruiting and retaining PV manufacturing companies and suppliers.
Project Merit: Wind Power
RWE Innogy (Essen, Germany) for its enormous offshore wind power development program. Building on experience from its existing 60 MW and 90 MW wind farms offshore from the United Kingdom, RWE Innogy is building offshore wind plants in Europe with capacity of 1,000 MW and expects to obtain permits for an additional 5 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2014, according to the company.
With significantly higher capacity factors than onshore facilities, offshore wind is expected to constitute most of the growth of European wind power capacity over the next decade, But building offshore wind plants is significantly more expensive, complex and difficult. RWE Innogy’s 325 MW Thornton Bank wind farm has been underway since 2009, with completion expected in 2013.
That project represented a milestone in the European wind power market, which is largely balance sheet funded by the energy companies building them. RWE Innogy says Thornton Bank is the largest project financed offshore wind so far, with eight private European banks, the European Investment Bank and German and Danish export credit agencies providing around €900 million.
To develop the engineering and construction capacity needed for its offshore wind development plans, RWE Innogy announced in January 2011 a five-year €50 million partnership with Linnhoff Offshore AG and NSB (both in Buxtehude, Germany). Linhoff will support RWE with port logistics and coordination of activities by sea and air, while NSB will help supervise construction of two installation vessels that RWE Innogy describes as the largest of their kind in the world.
China Longyuan Power, China’s largest developer of wind power capacity, achieved a stunning 52% annual growth in installed capacity, exceeding 6.9 GW by June 2011, according to the company’s mid-year report. While installed capacity figures for the end of the year weren’t available, the company reported that it had received approval for 39 new projects totalling 2 GW. It also reported commissioning the first 99 MW of the 150 MW Jiangsu Rudong pilot offshore wind farm, the nation’s largest.
China Longyuan Power is also branching out into other renewable energy technologies. A December 2011 news release reported that the Company had commissioned three PV projects with combined capacity of 58 MW. And in November, it agreed to buy from its parent company, China Guodian Corp, wind energy and biomass assets worth 1.51 billion yuan ($238.2 million)
In 2011, China Longyuan also made its first leap into the global wind energy market, taking an equity stake in Ontario-based Farm Owned Power’s 100 MW wind farm under construction in Shelburne, Ontario.
Project Merit: Climate Change Adaptation
AECOM Technology Corp. (Los Angeles) for developing an economic cost benefit framework to analyze major climate change adaptation investment decisions for infrastructure networks and coastal settlements. The company says its framework bridges the gap between climate science and effective decision-making in an uncertain environment to assist governments and private-sector entities with planning for impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, higher temperatures, drought and rainfall induced flooding. AECOM successfully applied this framework in Australia to the Melbourne Commuter Rail Network, Sydney and Melbourne coastal regions, and for managing water supply and demand in Victoria.
The AECOM team used multiple modeling inputs, ranging from projected climatic changes and cost impacts of weather events, to costs and benefits of adaptation options. Using a comprehensive economic model, costs and benefits of each option were assessed against other options and the cost of inaction. The outputs provided optimized cost and timing of when or whether to implement adaptation options such as early warning systems, planning controls or structures including flood barriers or other protection devices or systems.
AECOM’s decision making approach is flexible and applicable to all facets of infrastructure, including settlements, transport (roads, rail, bridges), utilities (water, power, telecommunications) and maritime (ports, offshore, subsurface structures), according to the company. Decisionmakers can overlay specific asset requirements within this model to develop highly specialized results detailed information about timing, scale, costs and benefits of adaptation options to achieve greatest value for the community, asset owners and investors. AECOM conducted over 100 climate change related projects in 2011.
In a specific adaptation assignment, AECOM worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Bay Conservation and Development Commission and California Department of Transportation to assess climate change vulnerabilities and risks in Alameda County, part of the San Francisco Bay Area. This pilot project, testing the Federal Highways Administration conceptual risk assessment model, has produced a detailed vulnerability analysis of sea level rise impacts on transportation infrastructure. Detailed mapping was done for six inundation scenarios by mid- and end-of-century, including high tide, high tide plus a 100 year storm, and high tide plus 100 year storm and wind wave effects.
Project Merit: Renewable Energy Development
3Degrees (San Francisco) for providing developers of wind, solar and other renewable energy projects secure revenue streams through the purchase of long-term contracts for renewable energy certificates (RECs). In 2011, 3Degrees won “best trading firm” from the readers of Environmental Finance, top U.S. REC dealer by Energy Risk and green power supplier of the year from the U.S. Department of Energy.
In the REC market, 3Degrees is a wholesaler and retailer, not a broker; The firm takes title to RECs and carbon offsets and markets them using a wide variety of sales contracts to both compliance and voluntary buyers. 3Degrees, which has about 50 employees, doesn’t disclose its revenues or volume of RECs purchased, but a spokesperson told CCBJ that the firm makes “hundreds” of purchase commitments annually with renewable generators.
3Degrees also runs voluntary green power programs, and in November 2011 the firm announced its engagement by the Maine Public Utility Commission to launch a new, voluntary statewide green power program. The firm also announced that it had won a competitive bidding process to be a green power supplier to the CTCleanEnergyOptions program in Connecticut, was selected by Seattle City Light to manage customer outreach for the utility’s Green Up offering and had renewed a green power contract with Puget Sound Energy. “With these new and renewed contracts, 3Degrees and its utility partners will offer green power options to over 7.7 million residential and commercial utility customers in seven states, [48% growth in customers since 2010],” stated 3Degrees in a news release.
Clean Energy Collective (Carbondale, Colo.) for its pioneering work developing a new business model for community solar, which can make solar PV ownership available to an enormous customer base of individuals and institutions whose premises or financial circumstances won’t accommodate a traditional PV array. By sharing ownership of large PV arrays (and potentially wind turbines), community solar can also bring down the costs of residential solar PV sharply by obtaining the benefits of scale only available to a large commercial or utility-scale project.
Working with its first utility partner, Holy Cross Energy, CEC developed a solution to the challenge that had confronted earlier attempts to develop shared-ownership models for PV: how to pay for long-term O&M and administer on-bill credits. CEC created a third-party escrow account-to which 5% of energy sales are dedicated-for O&M like those used by local governments to fund long-term maintenance of roads and bridges. For on-bill crediting, CEC developed proprietary software called RemoteMeter which integrated with utility billing systems.The Institute for Self Reliance called CEC’s model “pioneering,” and in November 2011, the Department of Energy named CEC the “Innovative Green Power Program of the Year.”
CEC’s first two projects with Holy Cross have nearly 1 MW installed and an additional 2.5 MW approved for development. The firm is “actively building” another 1.6 MW of capacity in three other utility territories and is in some stage of development of 33 MW, according to the company’s website. CEC recently partnered with San Miguel Power Association, a western Colorado rural electric co-op, to launch its first utility-branded program.
AECOM Technology Corp. (Los Angeles) for providing comprehensive permitting for the City of Palmdale’s proposed Palmdale Hybrid Power Plant which will thermally integrate 570 MW of clean-burning natural-gas combined-cycle technology with 50 MW of solar parabolic trough mirrors. AECOM’s permitting work culminated in California Energy Commission authorization in August 2011 and issuance by the EPA in October 2011 of the first Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit to address new GHG control requirements. Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Pacific Southwest regional administrator commented, ” Palmdale’s use of solar technology is a model for new electric power plants across the nation. This hybrid design proves that plants can provide energy while having less impact on the environment,” according to text provided by AECOM.
AECOM supported Inland Energy and the City of Palmdale through the lengthy federal-state regulatory process, performing baseline natural resource surveys and impact assessments, assisting with evidentiary hearings and stakeholder workshops and obtaining the permits.
CH2M HILL (Englewood, Colo.) for developing new concepts of integrated conventional and renewable energy facilities in Colorado and Nevada. CH2M HILL’s IDC Architects is developing a vision for the 640-acre Niobrara Energy Park in Weld County, Colo. Located above the Niobrara oil play, the developer, Harrison Resource Corp., hopes to eventually attract wind, solar and natural gas generators. While no actual development projects have been announced, Harrison completed zoning in March 2011 for 45 different energy land uses, including cloud computing data centers, a 50 MW PV plant, a 200 MW gas-fired power plant and other renewable power and energy storage technologies. Located in northeast Colorado between Fort Collins and Cheyenne, Wy., the facility has existing 230 kv transmission lines, natural gas pipelines, rail and fiber optic lines.
CH2M HILL’s IDC Architects is also designing the Star Peak Energy Center, which targets development of geothermal, solar and wind power and utility-scale energy storage on 10,000 acres of land about 110 miles north of Reno, Nev. The developer, natural gas exploration and production outfit Presco, hopes to lure occupants such as data centers attracted by the potential of being powered by onsite carbon-neutral geothermal. Other targeted users are manufacturers such as photovoltaic solar panels, algal biofuel production and universities or research laboratories with ongoing renewable energy programs. An option IDC assessed for making the project more energy efficient is the use of waste heat from one process to support other processes on the site.
Project Merit: Energy Storage
AES (Arlington, VA.) whose AES Energy Storage subsidiary has a solid early lead in the emerging business of using advanced batteries to provide energy and grid services to electric utilities. Formed in 2007 when the grid-scale energy storage business was little more than a gleam in the eyes of energy engineers and investors, AES Energy Storage had commissioned more than 76 MW of lithium-ion battery energy storage systems by the end of 2011.
AES Energy Storage’s first projects were four pilots of between 1 MW and 2 MW that were commissioned in 2008. Projects commissioned since have been in the 8 MW to 32 MW range, targeted primarily to providing operating reserves with high power, short duration storage of 15 to 20 minutes. By the end of the year, the company was bidding on much larger projects including 100 MW/400 MWh for El Paso Electric and 400 MW/1600 MWh for the Long Island Power Authority.
By taking aim at projects of that size, AES underscores its assessment that a single large-capacity energy storage system can provide multiple values to electric utilities and load-serving entities-peak energy; reserve capacity, frequency regulation and other ancillary services; load-following; congestion management; T&D deferral and others-and receive appropriate compensation for this bundle of services in a single power purchase agreement (PPA).
AES Energy Storage is also pioneering grid electricity storage in northern Chile, where grid operators in the electrically isolated region have dealt with reliability challenges by requiring generators to hold back spinning reserve capacity, for which they’re compensated but typically at rates below energy prices. AES’ Chilean subsidiary Gener, which already operated fossil, hydro and biomass units, obtained government approval for first a 12 MW and then a 20 MW storage facility. Now, Gener’s generation plants in Northern Chile can use all their capacity for energy sales, while its battery systems provide spinning reserves revenues. AES Energy Storage calls this service “capacity release for generators.”
Xtreme Power (Kyle, Texas) for going live with its 15 MW/10 MWh battery energy storage system in March 2011 at First Wind’s 30 MW Kahuku Wind Project on Oahu, the first large-scale integration of wind power and storage in the United States and perhaps globally.
Xtreme’s Dynamic Power Resource (DPR), a dry cell battery system that incorporates proprietary formulas of copper, lead, tellurium and other alloys, smoothes the wind farm’s power output by charging or discharging up to 1 MW per minute, according to the company.
Xtreme was also selected by Duke Energy to install a 36 MW/24 MWh battery system at Duke’s 153 MW wind farm in Notrees, Texas. Energy storage is seen as a key enabling technology for greater integration of variable generation resources such as solar and wind power, as well as providing other benefits such as non-polluting frequency regulation and relieving transmission and distribution constraints.
Eagle Crest Energy (Santa Monica, Calif.) for sheer perserverance and patience in pursuit of a good idea: using abandoned quarries in Riverside County to build the 1300 MW Eagle Mountain pumped storage hydropower (PSH) facility. First investigated in the early 1990s by Eagle Crest
principals, the Eagle Mountain PSH project went through preliminary design in 2004 and was formally proposed to FERC in 2006. It is now considered by PSH industry observers to be the second furthest along in the FERC permitting queue behind Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s 400 MW Iowa Hill PSH project on the Upper American River.
As a closed-loop system that is not connected to any natural water bodies, Eagle Mountain will have a lighter impact on habitat and natural resources than open-loop PSH systems. But given its use of 2,200 acres of federal and private land, the project went through extensive analysis to identify and manage impacts on wildlife habitat, recreation, aesthetics and the aquifer that will be tapped to supply the system’s stock of working water.
Eagle Crest Energy is devoted solely to this project. While the outfit expects to receive its permit in the first half of 2012, it will need some firm energy deals before obtaining the necessary project financing. The basic components of value of the proposed PSH system are power capacity and arbitraging peak and offpeak prices. It would also facilitate integration of variable wind and solar power in Southern California by providing frequency regulation and load following services.
Project Merit: Carbon Capture & Storage
Saskpower (Regina, Sask.), Saskatchewan’s publicly owned electricity generation, transmission and distribution utility (C$1.75 billion in 2010 revenues), for breaking ground on what is slated to become the world’s first carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility integrated with a coal power plant.
In April 2011, the provincial government approved construction of the Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration Project. The C$1.24 billion project, expected to be completed in 2014, will capture about 1 million tonnes of CO2 annually from a new 110 MWunit at the 824 MW Boundary Dam Power Station, one of three of the company’s coal power plants that constitute roughly 50% of its generating capacity of 3,513 MW. SNC Lavalin has been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the capture portion of the project, with Stantec serving as owner’s engineer for the power island. In December 2011, a 70-foot long, 500,000-pound aqueous amine-based CO2 stripper designed by SNC Lavalin and CanSolv Technologies arrived at the site (delivered on a flatbed trailer with 224 tires, noted the Estevan Mercury). In early January 2012 a 650-ton crane was lifting it into place.
CCS may not be popular (of more than 800 people responding to a CBC survey on Saskatchewan’s GHG mitigation strategies, only 3% endorsed the technology over nuclear, renewables and conservation), scientists and policy experts, including authors of reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, consider CCS absolutely essential to mitigating emissions from coal power. Only with early deployment of demonstration projects like Saskpower’s Boundary Dam III will CCS reach a trajectory to contribute meaningfully to global GHG mitigation by mid-century.
NGO Activist Award
The Climate Action Reserve (Los Angeles) for building integrity and value in the North American voluntary carbon market and creating offset protocols that will become the foundation for the offset portion of California’s mandatory carbon trading market in 2013. By the end of 2011, CAR had issued more than 19.9 million Climate Reserve Tons-a huge increase over 2010, when its cumulative total was 10.3 million CRTs. Other 2011 accomplishments include adopting a rice cultivation project protocol and publishing a draft Mexico forestry protocol (which could pave the way for adoption, already signaled by California’s Air Resource Board, of California-Mexico forest offset trading).
A nonprofit with a staff of 24 and FY2010 revenues of $4.6 million, CAR was established in 2001 by the California Legislature (as the California Climate Action Registry) and soon gained a reputation for rigorous standards and “compliance-grade” protocols, especially after the passage of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006.
With other state and regional climate initiatives emerging, and federal legislation looking likely, CCAR collaborated with state, provincial and tribal governments to help create the North American GHG emissions registry, The Climate Registry. In 2008, CCAR changed its name to the Climate Action Reserve, and the original emissions inventory reporting became a program under the Reserve.