Friday, October 30, 2009

Vestas Wind Systems Projects Doubling of Revenues by 2015

Vestas Wind Systems, a Danish-based manufacturer of wind turbines with a large presence in Colorado, recently announced that it expects to double its earned revenues by 2015. Ditlev Engel, Vestas' chief executive, noted that despite the current economic downturn the firm was poised for substantial growth in the next six years.

One example of the confidence Vestas sees in the future of wind energy is its investment of $1 billion in a Colorado manufacturing facility, Mr. Engel said according to the Financial Times ("Vestas Looks to Double Revenues," Oct. 27, 2009).

Particularly strong growth markets in the near future will be in the European Union, he said. In addition, Vestas expects strong demand growth in China, India, and Japan. In the longer term, Vestas expects major growth in the U.S. market.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 28 Vestas announced an order from a Mexican company for 51 2.0 megawatt (MW) wind turbines for the Oaxaca I project to be located in the city of Santo Domingo de Ingenio. The order includes supply, installation, and commissioning of the 51 wind turbines as well as a 10-year service contract. When completed Oaxaca I will be Vestas' largest wind farm in Central and Latin America. Mexico has a wind capacity of more than 5 gigawatts, but a cumulative installed capacity of only 332 MW. Mexico's goal is to achieve 1,500 MW of installed capacity by 2012.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Energy Law Prof. KK DuVivier Authors Op-Ed Commentary About The Need to Protect Solar Access in Denver's City Code

Prof. KK DuVivier, who teaches energy law and mining law at DU, makes a compelling case in an op-ed commentary published yesterday in The Denver Post ("Retain Solar Access in Code," Oct. 28, 2009) that the city zoning code, which is poised to be updated soon, must take into account solar access protections.

Prof. DuVivier wrote, "The proposed code is ambitious and visionary and could move Denver forward in many ways. But we must also move forward, and not back, with solar access. Only then can Denver be proud of its legacy as a model to the nation for sustainability."

She noted that despite the fact that Denver has on average 300 days a year of sunshine and is in an ideal location for solar power, a "solar bulk plane" protection was removed from the zoning code in 2003. Bearing in mind the need for more secure sources of energy and current incentive programs, "Everyone has a stake in keeping these solar panels protected from 'shade pollution,'" she wrote.

Prof. DuVivier is no stranger to energy-related issues. Before becoming a lawyer, she worked as a geologist in the uranium mining business so she understands all aspects of the often complicated area of energy policy. Students who come to DU benefit from professors like KK DuVivier who understand the past and are looking to the future. Check her op-ed out. I think you will agree.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Denver Chosen as Site for Major Solar Installation

German-based firm SMA Solar Technology AG, the worldwide market leader for photovoltaic converters, announced plans this week for a major new installation to be located in Denver.

The U.S. production facility in Denver will be the largest U.S. production operation for solar inverters, which are a key component in all solar power plants. It is expected to begin operation in 2010.

Pierre-Pascal Urbon, the company's chief financial officer, said, "We see a huge market coming in the U.S.," the Denver Post reported ("City Lands Solar Plant," Oct. 27, 2009). Similarly, Gunther Cramer, CEO of the company, said, "In the medium term, we expect the U.S. market to become the largest solar market globally. With the new production in Denver, SMA will be able to reduce transportation and interim storage costs as well as currency exchange risks."

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who has set ambitious green energy targets for the city, said, "This move helps solidify Colorado's place as a global leader in renewable energy under Gov. Bill Ritter."

The Denver facility will be SMA's first facility outside Germany.

In 2008, the SMA Group, of which SMA Solar Technology is a part, had sales of more than $1 billion. It is headquartered near Kassel in Germany.

This announcement is yet another example of how Colorado is becoming the center of the new energy economy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Wall Street Journal Identifies Five Energy-Related Technologies "That Could Change Everything"

The Oct. 19, 2009, issue of The Wall Street Journal included a special report titled, "Five Technologies That Could Change Everything." Editor Lawrence Rout described these as "five areas where scientists and engineers are looking for breakthroughs that may--just possibly--help get us out of the [energy] bind we're in."

According to the Journal, the five technologies are:
  • Space-based solar energy
  • Advanced car batteries
  • Renewable-energy storage
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Next-generation biofuels
Each technology is described and a short assessment provided.

The special report also included an interesting story about windpower. Of particular interest to me was the fact that the state of Iowa has the second highest amount of installed wind capacity in the U.S. Future expansion in Iowa, however, will require more transmission capacity. The state of Colorado ranks 8th in the nation in installed capacity. Texas ranks first in installed capacity.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Prof. Rock Pring Speaks to Chinese Environmental Law Judges; Scheduled to Speak in China Again in November

Prof. Rock Pring, an internationally known DU law professor in the environmental law and natural resources program, recently has been busy with projects that have taken him to China.

In late September, Prof. Pring and his wife and research partner Kitty, spoke to a conference of Chinese environmental law judges in Guiyang in southwest China. The event was sponsored by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative Program in China and Wuhun University.

According to Prof. Pring, "We co-presented the keynote session on our study 'Specialized Environmental Courts and Tribunals (ECTs): A Global Study' and participated in other sessions including 'Remedies in Environmental Cases.'" Held at China's Olympic Training Center for Water Sports on Hongfeng (Red Maple) Lake, the conference was attended by over 40 judges, government officials, and academics.

Looking ahead, Prof. Pring has been invited to present the results of the ECT study at the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Academy of Environmental Law Annual Symposium at Wuhan University on Nov. 2. The week-long conference of environmental law professors from around the world also includes a trip to study the controversial Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest electricity-generating plant of any kind. Stay tuned for more information from Prof. Pring on this topic.

To view a mid-April video in which the Prings talk about their ground-breaking ECTs study, click here.