Here are some of the items I have missed the last couple of weeks that are of some significance.
Abengoa S.A. the $3 billion Spanish based energy company, best known to The Energy Blog readers for its efforts in ethanol and cellulosic ethanol has formed Solucar Power, Inc., a new U.S. subsidiary that will handle market development in solar energy using concentrating solar power (CSP) (Their techology is usually referred to as themal solar which concentrates solar energy onto a fluid. CSP is usually defined as a technology that concentrates solar energy onto a PV cell ) technologies. Abengoa will initially focus on parabolic trough technology. Solucar Power has purchased Industrial Solar Technology (IST) Corporation's assets and technology in solar troughs. IST, based in Denver, Colorado, has 20 years' experience in CSP with IST systems delivering hot water, air conditioning, district heat, steam and potable water from a desalination unit, but not electricity generation. Abengoa recently completed an 11 MW central receiver plant in Spain and has started construction of a 20 MW plant.
According to this press release, Katabatic Power Corp., a privately held wind energy developer, announced a joint venture with Deutsche Bank AG to develop a 3,000 MW wind farm, the world's largest, located in Northwest British Columbia (BC). Under the terms of the joint venture, Katabatic will develop the first 700 MW of the full 3,000 MW Banks Island wind resource over the next two years, with construction to commence in early 2009.
Chinese based Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd., one of the world's top 10 manufacturers of PV cells, announced that the commercial adoption of its latest 18% "semiconductor finger" conversion-efficiency technology is on schedule and that the performance of this technology has exceeded the company's expectations with respect to lower-grade and poor quality silicon wafers.The semiconductor finger technology, was co-developed and owned with the University of New South Wales in Australia. Heavily doped semiconductor strips are built into the PV cell surface that more efficiently collects the generated electrical charge without requiring the surface dead layer found in conventional screen printed cells.
According to the Detroit News Honda has decided to develop another designated hybrid, essentially replacing the Insight, a low-cost model priced below the Honda Civic hybrid (which starts, like the Prius, at less than $23,000). It said it expected to start selling the car in 2009 and expected to sell 200,000 a year, including 100,000 in North America.
Via Clean Break, The Cleantech Venture Network has released its year-end investment figures for the sector. The year 2006 saw $2.9 billion (U.S.) invested, a 78 per cent increase over the previous year. The fourth quarter saw $613 million invested, down from Q3's $933 million but still 22 per cent higher on a year-over-year basis.
Monday a new Cargill subsidiary Emerald Renewable Energy LLC announced plans to develop four 100 million-gallon-per-year ethanol plants in the Midwestern United States. The newly formed company is considering several potential sites in the Cornbelt. Before the announcement, Cargill owned or planned new plants with a total annual capacity of 230 million gallons. In a related AP article, analyst Kevin Monroe of Thomas Weisel Partners was quoted as saying "With the potential for a near doubling of ethanol capacity from the current 5.4 billion gallon per year levels over the next 18 months, coupled with a potential smaller estimate than our original estimate of ethanol demand due to a lack of discretionary blending, we believe the potential for an oversupply situation in the second half of 2007 is significant."
More construction has been announced to meet the demand created by silicon PV cell manufacturers. Hoku Materials, a division of Hoku Scientific Inc., plans to build a $220 million polysilicon production plant in Pocatello, Idaho. Hoku expects the plant to be operational in late 2008 with a payroll of 200 employees.
Greenfuel Technologies Corporation, a leader in the development of algae bioreactor technology for recycling CO2 in flue gases into clean, renewable biofuels, announced that it has signed a strategic alliance agreement with IGV, a private industrial research institute headquartered in Pottsdam, Germany. IGV is a pioneer in micro-algae research and production with more than 80 commercial technology deployments worldwide.
Beacon Power Corporation (NASDAQ: BCON), announced that the California Independent System Operator (California ISO), a not-for-profit organization that manages the flow of electricity along California's open-market wholesale power grid, has certified Beacon Power's flywheel technology for use as a frequency regulation resource in the state. The Cal ISO said that a 100-kilowatt flywheel test unit at a research site in San Ramon, California, proved successful in responding to real-time and test power data. "The next step is to install at least a one-megawatt, or preferably a 10-megawatt, commercial facility with two-way communications with the ISO with full integration into our markets, operations, and settlement systems," said Cal ISO grid operations director Jim McIntosh
BP Alternative Energy announced the acquisition of Orion Energy, LLC., increasing its renewable capacity and position in the wind industry. the BP subsidiary based in Texas will increase its North American wind portfolio and gain the opportunity to develop almost 100 projects with a total potential generating capacity of about 15,000 megawatts.
China BAK Battery, Inc. (Nasdaq: CBAK), announced plans on Jan. 10 to construct a new facility that will focus on product development and manufacture of an advanced lithium ion battery cell product line. According to BAK the new battery cells will provide higher energy density and power, longer life cycle and shorter charge times as compared to other types of lithium- based batteries. Bak has a manufacturing agreement with A123 to produce some of its smaller batteries.