Details on California’s new renewable energy development auction system, the Army tests solar power shades, and Casio debuts a new solar powered watch.
California to Auction Renewable Projects rather than Feed-In Tariff System
California regulators have negotiated a new proposal called the Renewable Auction mechanism that will require developers to bid on a chance to build projects. Three large state utilities will hold biannual auctions to select the lowest bids on projects up to 20-MW each. The California Public Utilities Commission is set to review the RAM plan next Thursday. Previously, the state ran under a feed-in tariff program that was improved in 2007. The program was designed to help the utilities meet their goal of 20 percent renewable sources generating electricity by the end of the year. Feed-in tariffs are fixed prices that utilities must pay in a long-term contract. This idea has worked for many European nations and Canada. However, California’s program does not allow for price negotiations and regulators have set the prices on the cost of producing electricity from combined-cycle natural gas power plants. The cost of building and operating renewable projects is much higher. The new auction plan could help push projects forward that would save consumers money and builders would save costs to promote economic efficiency.
Army Tests Solar-Powered Shades and Tents
The Navy is not the only branch of the armed forces testing renewable energy. While ships experiment with algae-based fuels, the Army is testing an array of portable solar-powered shades and tents designed to permit units to deploy electrical power. The generated power can be used to charge batteries, computers and other electronics. Products will use flexible photovoltaics to generate power, reducing the need for generators and fuel. Three different types are under scrutiny including the Power Shade, TEMPER Fly and QUADrant. Each is capable of generating various amounts of power with the TEMPER Fly generating 800-W, the QUADrant capable of 200-W and the Power Shades up to 3-KW.
Casio Debuts New Solar-Powered Watch
Casio is famous for its watches and especially renowned for its solar-powered creations. Now, the company has added to its collection of solar-powered watches with a new watch in its G-Shock series. The watch has a solar panel behind its face and it needs only 6.2-W of renewable power to provide 860,000 watch movements. The company displayed the new item at Eco Product 2010 and the story was reported first by Akihabara News.
Company to Power Holiday Tree Lot using Renewable Energy
Stellar Solar is going to power Christmas tree lots in Del Mar, Carlsbad and San Diego. It will be the first time a holiday lot is going to powered by renewable energy. Stellar Solar will use its Mobile Solar Station to generate the energy necessary for the lot’s perimeter and the electric chain saws that will trim the customers’ trees. The Mobile Solar Station will power the fluorescent lamps that surround the lot.
Thailand’s Feed-In Tariff
While California tries alternatives, Thailand has adopted a feed-in tariff program of its own. Currently, 850-MW of generation has been commercialized as a result of the small power program introduced in 2006. Most of that power is from biomass and only a fraction comes from solar power, an industry that continues to grow in the country. Thailand’s Very Small Power Producer program uses a feed-in tariff system in which the final payment is composed of the wholesale cost of generation plus several “adders.” The “adder” is a bonus for reducing diesel-fired generation. There is another bonus for projects that compensate for fossil-fuel price fluctuations. Currently, contracts are increasing; to promote diversity, the Thai government is sponsoring loans for companies to use in the program.
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