Clean Tech Week in Review: 10 Headline News Stories

Google made a big news splash this past week that it’s partnering with private equity firm KKR and investing $94 million in four solar power projects owned by Sharp near Sacramento with a total capacity of 88 megawatts (MW), but there was plenty more happening in the clean tech/renewable energy space this week. Following are highlights and links to ten other headline news stories…

1. In addition to for NextEra Energy’s 300-MW Sonaran Solar Energy Project and Iberdrola Renewables’ 186-MW Tule Wind Project, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar also laid out the next steps toward developing the Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Transmission Line, vital infrastructure for development of offshore wind power along the US East Coast. The opened a public comment period regarding Atlantic Grid Holdings’ request for a right-of-way grant to build a that would carry electricity produced by wind turbines off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

2. A global solar industry shake-out continues, as Solar Millennium became the second German solar power company to open insolvency proceedings in German court, . Solar Millennium has a US solar power project pipeline with capacity totaling some 2,250-MW.

In August, it announced its US joint venture, Solar Trust of America, was switching from developing these projects with concentrated solar power (CSP) troughs to solar PV modules. In an effort to stave off looming insolvency, it announced it was trying to sell all of these assets, but couldn’t do so quickly enough. Negotiations and due diligence related to a proposed sale to are progressing nonetheless, according to a Forbes follow-up.

3. After 40 years, BP is shutting down its BP Solar business, “saying it ‘can’t make any money’ from selling panels at a time when it continues to spend $20bn annually on oil and gas developments,” . The oil and gas giant’s oft-touted slogan, “Moving Beyond Petroleum,” seems little more than that. BP’s also shut down the London headquarters of BP Alternative Energy, and has all but done so when it comes to carbon capture and storage, another clean tech alternative that’s been highly touted by the oil and gas industry but come to little as yet.

4. BP Solar may be getting out, but other prominent businesspeople and investors are getting in. Warren Buffet-led Berkshire Hathaway’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings in NRG Energy’s $1.8 billion, 290 MW solar PV project in Yuma County, Arizona. First Solar, which originally owned the project, is using its thin-film Cd-Te solar panels in building the project. Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to purchase all the electricity produced as per a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA). Agua Caliente is expected to produce enough clean, renewable electricity for 225,000 homes and is due to come online in 2014.

5. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that Natcore Technology has been granted an exclusive patent license agreement to develop a line of black silicon products. Natcore and NREL have also entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to develop commercial prototypes based on NREL’s black silicon inventions and patents.

NREL researchers demonstrated the , which have been “chemically etched to appear black,” better absorb solar energy. Inexpensive and requiring only one step to produce, the black silicon solar wafers reduce the amount of sunlight lost to reflection to less than 2%, according to NREL.

6. New Jersey solar power project developer closed on its most recent financing for a portfolio of projects in New Jersey. A US Bancorp subsidiary is providing long-term renewable energy tax credit equity financing “for multiple distributed generation, net-metered solar projects, the first two of which total approximately 7 MW,” according to a KDC news release.

On Dec. 13, KDC

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