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Home Solar Systems to Be an Option for Honda Customers

By DIANE CARDWELL Automakers have long resorted to incentives like zero-percent financing, rewards points and rebates to inspire customer loyalty. Now Honda is offering a different deal: inexpensive home solar power systems for customers. Through a partnership with SolarCity, a residential and commercial installer, Honda and Acura will offer their customers home solar systems at little or no upfront cost, […]

Obama Administration Approves Roadmap for Utility-Scale Solar Energy Development on Public Lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today finalized a program for spurring development of solar energy on public lands in six western states. The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah by establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those zones, and a process through which to consider additional zones and solar projects.

Today’s action builds on the Administration’s historic progress to facilitate renewable energy development. On Tuesday, with the authorization of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project site in Wyoming, Interior reached the President’s goal of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of renewable power on public lands. Since 2009, Interior has authorized 33 renewable energy projects, including 18 utility-scale solar facilities, 7 wind farms and 8 geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure. When built, these projects will provide enough electricity to power more than 3.5 million homes, and support 13,000 construction and operations jobs according to project developer estimates.

“Energy from sources like wind and solar have doubled since the President took office, and with today’s milestone, we are laying a sustainable foundation to keep expanding our nation’s domestic energy resources,” said Secretary Salazar, who signed today’s Record of Decision at an event in Las Vegas, Nevada with Senator Harry Reid. “This historic initiative provides a roadmap for landscape-level planning that will lead to faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on public lands and reflects President Obama’s commitment to grow American made energy and create jobs.”

The Solar PEIS establishes an initial set of 17 Solar Energy Zones (SEZs), totaling about 285,000 acres of public lands, that will serve as priority areas for commercial-scale solar development, with the potential for additional zones through ongoing and future regional planning processes.  If fully built out, projects in the designated areas could produce as much as 23,700 megawatts of solar energy, enough to power approximately 7 million American homes. The program also keeps the door open, on a case-by-case basis, for the possibility of carefully sited solar projects outside SEZs on about 19 million acres in “variance” areas. The program also includes a framework for regional mitigation plans, and to protect key natural and cultural resources the program excludes a little under 79 million acres that would be inappropriate for solar development based on currently available information.

“The Solar PEIS sets forth an enduring, flexible blueprint for developing utility-scale solar projects in the right way, and in the right places, on our public lands,” said David J. Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Interior. “Never before has the Interior Department worked so closely and collaboratively with the industry, conservationists and sportsmen alike to develop a sound, long-term plan for generating domestic energy from our nation’s sun-drenched public lands.”

The signing of the Record of Decision today follows the July release of the Final PEIS, a comprehensive analysis that identified locations on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands most suitable for solar energy development.  These areas are characterized by excellent solar resources, access to existing or planned transmission and relatively low conflict with biological, cultural and historic resources.

Today’s action is in line with the President’s direction to continue to expand domestic energy production, safely and responsibly. Since President Obama took office, domestic oil and gas production has increased each year, with domestic oil production at an eight-year high, natural gas production at an all-time high, and foreign oil imports now accounting for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1995.

Click here for a fact sheet on the Solar PEIS.
Click here for a list of the 17 Solar Energy Zones.
Click here for a map of the six-states (individual state maps available upon request).

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, recreational and other activities on BLM-managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends. In FY 2012, nearly $5.7 billion will be generated on lands managed by the BLM, which operates on a $1.1 billion budget. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

A Grand Experiment to Rein In Climate Change

LEGGETT, Calif. — Braced against a steep slope, Robert Hrubes cinched his measuring tape around the trunk of one tree after another, barking out diameters like an auctioneer announcing bids. “Twelve point two!” “Fourteen point one!”

Mr. Hrubes’s task, a far cry from forestry of the past, was to calculate how much carbon could be stored within the tanoak, madrone and redwood trees in that plot. Every year or so, other foresters will return to make sure the trees are still standing and doing their job.

Such audits will be crucial as California embarks on its grand experiment in reining in climate change. On Jan. 1, it will become the first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for the greenhouse gases they emit. Under the system, known as “cap and trade,” the state will set an overall ceiling on those emissions and assign allowable emission amounts for individual polluters. A portion of these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities, manufacturers and others; the remainder will be auctioned off.

Over time, the number of allowances issued by the state will be reduced, which should force a reduction in emissions.

To obtain the allowances needed to account for their emissions, companies can buy them at auction or on the carbon market. They can secure offset credits, as they are known, either by buying leftover allowances from emitters that have met their targets or by purchasing them from projects that remove carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, like the woods where Mr. Hrubes was working.

Dozens of verifiers from different fields, from chemists to accountants to foresters, will be the first line of defense in making sure the benefits are real.

Mr. Hrubes said his goal in any audit was to ensure that the forest’s owner was “being conservative whenever a judgment call has to be made” in calculating greenhouse gas reductions.

The outsize goals of California’s new law, known as A.B. 32, are to lower California’s emissions to what they were in 1990 by 2020 — a reduction of roughly 30 percent — and, more broadly, to show that the system works and can be replicated.

The risks for California are enormous. Opponents and supporters alike worry that the program could hurt the state’s fragile economy by driving out refineries, cement makers, glass factories and other businesses. Some are concerned that companies will find a way to outmaneuver the system, causing the state to fall short of its emission reduction targets.

“The worst possible thing to happen is if it fails,” said Robert N. Stavins, a Harvard economist.

Just three years ago, California’s plan was viewed as a trial run for a national carbon market that one day might tie into existing markets in Europe and elsewhere. President Obama’s first budget proposal included a cap-and-trade program to cut national greenhouse gas emissions 14 percent by 2020; the House later passed an energy andclimate bill that incorporated such a program.

But in 2010, political forces backed by the biggest emitters, oil and coal companies, blocked the plan in the Senate. In that year’s midterm elections, conservative Republicans disavowed their party’s role in creating similar programs; they continue to deride it as “cap and tax.”

California air regulators are proud of their record in leading the nation to new auto emissions standards in the 1960s and efficiency standards for appliances in the 1970s. And so the pressure is on the state’s Air Resources Board to get this right.

At first, only four means of carbon reduction will be approved for offset credits: timber management, the destruction of coolant gasescuts in methane emissions from livestock waste and tree planting projects in urban areas. Already, developers of offset projects in more than 20 states are preparing to enter the new market, which for now accepts only credits generated in the United States. Some projects send coolant gases to be destroyed at an incinerator in Arkansas; others, tied to dairies in states like Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, will capture methane from livestock waste.

Most of these projects already sell offset credits in other markets like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program covering utilities in the Northeast.

But offsets can be prone to misuse; some have generated significant private profits while producing questionable environmental benefits. The European Union’s eight-year-old carbon trading market has been tarnished by fake credits and audits that failed to meet minimum standards. California’s offsets have already been challenged in court by environmentalists who argue that offset developers will earn money for actions that they would have taken even if the program did not exist.

“If there is a loss of confidence because there is a sense that people have been cheating and the offsets are not real, that will be a problem,” said Kevin Kennedy, an economist with theWorld Resources Institute in Washington.

That is why there is such a need for qualified verifiers. This summer, four foresters from around the country gathered in a Los Angeles suburb for a $2,900 test-preparation course to master the new system in advance of a required state test.

All had experience in verification in other carbon trading systems — so much so that they offered their instructors sharp critiques on the 111 pages of rules. One even challenged the algorithms central to the forest benefit calculations.

“If they don’t get the equations right, there could be a real problem,” said Terese Walters, a forester from Oregon. She is hoping that having California credentials will lead to lucrative opportunities. Ms. Walters and Caitlin Sellers, a forester from Florida in the class, both work for Environmental Services of Jacksonville, Fla., one of the country’s largest environmental consulting firms. David Bubser, another student, is a Minnesota forester and a regional manager for the nonprofit Rainforest Alliance.

There are several basic requirements for a forest offset. Credits cannot be granted for preserving trees that were going to be left standing anyway. The change must be long-lasting: trees must be left intact for a century. And owners must hire accredited verifiers to audit their claims.

The offset marketplace is already beginning to hum as companies gear up for California’s rollout.

Independent verifiers can make $800 to $1,200 a day, according to Mr. Bubser. Scientific Certification Systems, Mr. Hrubes’s employer, which verified 4.2 million tons of carbon offsets around the world last year, added two foresters this summer, for a total of six.

Sacramento’s municipal utility recently held a conference call with potential vendors of credits to offset some of the 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually from its gas-fired power plant — possibly by buying 200,000 credits annually.

Utility officials made it clear during the call that the more measurable and reliable the offset, the more valuable it would be. The administrators of California’s program have set a floor price for allowances at $10 per metric ton of emissions during the first auction in November. Once the program gets going, the actual value of allowances will fluctuate as they are traded.

The Redwood Forest Foundation, created to promote sustainable forestry but also to keep timber jobs in Mendocino County, is considering selling offset credits. Its biggest asset is the 50,000-acre Usal Redwood Forest, where Mr. Hrubes was working, which the foundation acquired in 2007 with a $65 million bank loan. The foundation needs to pay down its debt. It reaped $19.5 million selling a conservation easement last year, but the idea of a new revenue source is alluring.

“When you need an economic return, one way is to maximize timber harvest,” said Tom Tuchmann, the group’s acting executive director. “The other way is to look at nontraditional value streams.”

But making strategic decisions about how many trees to harvest and how many to use to lock up carbon is an uncertain business. Other carbon markets have generally not done well by investors, and some brokerages have closed their carbon desks.

“There are so many people who are disappointed,” said Thaddeus Huetteman, the president of Power and Energy Analytic Resources of Atlanta. “What they are really looking for is for California to show we can create a new market of significance in the world’s ninth-largest economy.”

REC Energy Plans Bankrupcy For Norway Solar Unit

By Stephen Treloar – Aug 14, 2012 6:30 AM MT

Renewable Energy Corp. ASA (REC), a Norwegian solar company, will stop funding and file for insolvency for its only manufacturing unit in the country after halting production of silicon wafers there.

REC Wafer Norway AS’s liabilities exceeded its assets by about 1.2 billion kroner ($203 million) at the end of July, making a solvent winding-up of the unit dependent on more money from REC, the Sandvika, Norway-based group said in a statement today. The company that said in April it would close the unit expects about 400 million kroner of costs from the bankruptcy.

REC is suffering with the strength of the krone along with a slump in prices for the raw material used in solar cells. The shutdowns already have resulted in the the firing of 700 employees. Most of the remaining 600 staff at the wafer unit will lose their jobs in the second half of the year.

The bankruptcy of REC Wafer Norway won’t affect REC’s solar and silicon units, it said today. The company will continue manufacture polysilicon in the U.S., where it is able to produce at a lower cost than competitors. It also makes solar modules in Singapore.


“Although we had looked for potential savings of up to about 1 billion kroner, we believe the news is positive as REC has been somewhat vague when discussing this topic in the past,” Pareto Securities ASA said in a note to clients. The move will save REC about 800 million kroner, it said.

The wafer unit has already been removed as guarantor from REC’s bond-loan agreements and wasn’t included in a new bank loan agreement which came into effect earlier this month, REC said.

REC, whose shares have slumped 97 percent since listing six years ago, rose as much as 5.4 percent and traded 3.4 percent higher at 2.01 kroner as of 2:43 p.m. in Oslo.

European solar-component makers are under pressure from Chinese rivals that expanded capacity just as demand slowed, causing wafer and cell prices to plummet. Demand also shrank as France, Italy and Germany reduced subsidies to cap booming installations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Treloar in Oslo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christian Wienberg

Renewables Rout Ends As Asian Bidders Seek Q-Cells, A123: Energy

By Christopher Martin – Aug 17, 2012 2:04 AM MT

The slump in renewable energy shares is ending as bidders from China and South Koreasignaled interest in German solar manufacturer Q-Cells SE (QCE) and A123 Systems Inc. (AONE), a U.S. maker of batteries for electric cars.

Wanxiang Group Corp. of Hangzhou, China, confirmed it would invest as much as $465 million in A123 yesterday, two hours after Q-Cells said it’s in talks to sell assets to Seoul-basedHanwha Chemical Corp. (009830) The WilderHill New Energy Index of 96 shares has risen 8.8 percent since hitting a nine-year low on July 26.

The slump in renewable energy shares is ending as bidders from China and South Korea signaled interest in German solar manufacturer Q-Cells SE and A123 Systems Inc., a U.S. maker of batteries for electric cars. Photographer: Jeffrey Sauger/Bloomberg

“Valuations have come down so significantly in the clean energy sector that many of these companies are starting to look like they’re worth the risk,” Mark Florian, managing director at First Reserve Corp., a private equity investor that’s raised $23 billion, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in New York. “With A123 you’ve got the holy grail of energy storage. In solar you’ve got the advantages that come with scaling-up. We’re going to see more consolidation.”

With the NEX index trading at less than a quarter of its 2007 peak, investors and analysts are beginning to turn less pessimistic about the future of the industry, which is coping with excess capacity, declining margins and government subsidy cuts. There’s evidence investors are reducing short positions in Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) and Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP), the biggest wind and solar companies.

Shares Rally

The NEX index climbed 0.5 percent today, led by a 7.7 percent jump in Vestas and a 5.9 percent gain in its rival Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA.

Declining short positions, where investors borrow shares to bet on a decline in the stock’s price, suggests a floor is emerging to support clean energy shares, said Mark Bachman, an analyst at Avian Securities Inc. in Boston.

About 7.6 percent of Suntech shares were sold short on Aug. 16, half the level of November, according to data from Markit. At Vestas, the short position was 19 percent, down from 23 percent in May. For A123, the short position was 16 percent on Aug. 14, down from 23 percent in March. About 14.5 percent of the NEX index was sold short at the end of July, around the same as it’s been for the past year.

‘Risky Shorting’

“It starts to look risky shorting a stock that’s lost almost all its value,” Bachman said in an interview. “How much more of a downside is there when you’ve already become a penny stock?”

For solar panel makers, increasing competition among Chinese manufacturers along with concern about government subsidy cuts caused a 50 percent decline in prices last year and quarterly losses for most manufacturers. For wind energy, difficulty financing projects in Europe and the looming expiry of a U.S. tax credit has halted new orders. That’s made them attractive targets for those expecting a rebound.

Last week, Platinum Equity LLC bought Clipper Windpower from United Technologies Corp. (UTX) for an undisclosed sum. United Technologies purchased a 49.5 percent stake in Clipper for $206 million in December 2009 then paid $222 million for the rest a year later.

Yesterday, Q-Cells disclosed that Hanwha is in talks to buy the assets of what was five years ago the world’s biggest solar cell maker. Now insolvent, Q-Cells would help the chemicals company of South Korea’s 10th-largest industrial group build its solar business. Hanwha may buy equipment for as much as 40 million euros ($49 million) and guarantee debt owed by Q-Cells Malaysia of up to 850 million Malaysian ringgit ($272 million).

Boost for Solar

“Korean cash and German branding could help boost Hanwha Solar’s performance,” said Martin Simonek, a solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London.

The Asian move for Q-Cells follows LDK Solar Co.’s acquisition of German solar-cell and module maker Sunways AG (SWW) in April. The deal marked the first time a Chinese manufacturer bought an entity in Germany, the world’s largest solar market. Sunways had reported losses for 2011.

A month earlier, United Arab Emirates-based cell manufacturer Microsol International boughtSolon SE (SOO1), a German solar company that was in insolvency. That deal included most of its employees, global brand rights, research and development, production in Berlin and sales operations.

Solar companies have struggled with reduced government aid and competition from Suntech and its Chinese rivals, which have taken the lead in manufacturing cells. At least 12 solar companies including Solon SE of Germany and Solyndra LLC of California have filed for insolvency in the past year.

Bankrupt or Bought

Still, with solar module prices still declining and supplies outstripping demand, many manufacturers will continue to bleed cash and may go bankrupt without a suitor, said Gordon Johnson, an analyst at Axiom Capital Management in New York.

“It’s go bankrupt or get bought out, and the guys who are still short are betting on bankruptcy,” Johnson said in an interview. “If a company goes to zero then there’s no tax liability.”

A123, a maker of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, may get financing worth as much as $465 million from Wanxiang in exchange for an 80 percent stake in the company based in Waltham, Massachusetts. A123 has received a $249 million federal grant to build a factory in the U.S.

Quarterly Losses

It racked up at least 12 quarters of losses and needs help after struggling with costs from a recall of batteries. A123 shares reached as high as $25.77 after their initial offering in September 2009 and since have dropped to 46.57 cents, giving the company a market value of $74.3 million.

Clipper, along with Denmark’s Vestas and tower maker Broadwind Energy Inc. (BWEN) in the U.S., have struggled to get new orders because a tax credit that pays developers 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour expires at the end of this year. Broadwind has dropped 72 percent in the past year.

Their fortunes could change with an extension of the wind energy tax credit after the U.S. election on Nov. 6, according to Florian at First Reserve.

“The risks are high when you’re dependent on government subsidies,” Florian said. “The rewards can be too.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Martin in New York

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

White Trumps Black in Urban Cool Contest

White Trumps Black in Urban Cool Contest

A comparison of the surface temperature of a white roof at MoMa P.S. 1 in Queens with those of a black roof last June to August. The roof was coated with a white acrylic paint.
Gaffin et alA comparison of the surface temperatures of a white roof at MoMa P.S. 1 in Queens with those of a black roof last June to August. The roof was coated with a white acrylic paint.

One hundred seventy degrees Fahrenheit is the approximate temperature to which chicken should be cooked. It’s also the temperature that was recorded on some asphalt roofs in New York City last July during a heat wave that set a record for electricity use.

Because they absorb sunlight, dark roofs, dark buildings and dark streets and sidewalks make cities especially sweaty, a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect. New York City can often be up to 5 degrees hotter than surrounding areas. So one of the simplest ways to cool cities, lower electricity usage and reduce the city’s carbon footprint is to make rooftops white, ensuring that they reflect heat rather than absorb it.

In a paper published online this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters, a team of scientists from NASA and Columbia University’s Earth Institute present results from the first long-term study of the performance of white roofing material in New York City.

They monitored three rooftops in New York, each of which had a different kind of white roofing. A rooftop at the Con Edison Learning Center in Long Island City, Queens was clad in E.P.D.M., or ethylene propylene diene monomer, a type of membrane roofing; a rooftop at the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing showcased TPO, or thermoplastic polyolefin, another membrane option.

Finally, an asphaltic membrane on a rooftop at MoMA P.S. 1 in Long Island City was coated with a white acrylic paint, a strategy promoted under the city’s NYC CoolRoofs initiative, part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plan to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

The white roofs performed similarly in reducing temperatures by as much as 43 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the TPO rooftop and E.P.D.M. rooftop held up better over time, meeting standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star reflective roof programthroughout the study period. The painted roof’s reflectivity degraded more rapidly and failed to meet these standards after two years.

According to the lead author, Stuart Gaffin, an associate research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University, the acrylic paint option is an effective, inexpensive do-it-yourself option for buildings with newer roofs that don’t yet need to be replaced. The paint only costs about 50 cents per square foot, while the professional synthetic option can run anywhere from $15 to $28 per square foot.

If a roof needs to be replaced, these synthetic options won’t cost any more than traditional roofing, but some special white paint can deliver similar results in the short term, the researchers said.

“To combat climate change, there’s no question that we need to increase the earth’s albedo,” or reflectivity, Dr. Gaffin said. “Some scientists are contemplating tinkering with the earth’s atmosphere to do this, but we shouldstart with what’s easy and uncontroversial — white roofs.

“We can do it now,” he said, “and it will have an immediate effect.”

Curis copper mine

Florence eager to discuss copper mine

Council moves ahead despite firm’s delay

2 comments by Ryan Randazzo – Oct. 27, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic


The town of Florence is not letting Curis Resources Ltd. off the hook, announcing that the Town Council will address the issue of the Canadian company’s plans to mine copper in town even though the proposal was withdrawn.

Curis officials last week withdrew their request for zoning changes needed from the town to proceed with their full mine, although the company says part of the mine can be developed on state land without the town’s approval.

But the Town Council issued a press statement declaring it will take a public vote on whether to accept that withdrawal, and if the members reject the withdrawal, they can vote on whether or not to grant the zoning changes the mine needs.
“This is the direction of the entire council,” deputy town manager and spokesman Jess Knudson said. “Essentially it is a reaction to Curis pulling the application two years in a row. It’s been a pretty big deal. There are a lot of folks in town who feel strongly one way or another.”

Knudson said about 300 people showed up to one Planning and Zoning Commission meeting and about 275 to another when the mine was discussed.

At the last meeting, the commission, which advises the Town Council, rejected one of the mining company’s applications and deadlocked on another.

Curis officials said they would withdraw their application until they get the needed environmental approvals from the state and Environmental Protection Agency, which could put the town more at ease.

But Knudson said the town leaders want to address the issue, not wait.

“It is something that is very closely looked at and a highly debated topic in the community,” he said. “This is not so much a reaction to Curis as it is the council wanting to speak out on the project.”

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Nov. 7 at Florence High School. The meeting will be broadcast live online.

The officials will first vote whether to accept the withdrawal, and if they reject that, they will address the zoning changes.

If the meeting runs long, they plan to recess at 11 p.m. and reconvene the next night at the same place.

Curis plans to use a process called “in-situ” copper recovery, which involves pumping acid underground to collect copper, sucking it back to the surface and processing the copper from it.

Nearby landowners and town residents have fought the plans because they worry that pumping acid underground would pollute the area’s drinking water.

Read more:

Rosemont copper mine hits EPA roadblock

Proposed Tucson copper mine hits EPA roadblock

14 comments Jan. 21, 2012 02:01 PM
Associated Press


TUCSON — The Environmental Protection Agency says it’s not ready to recommend approval of a federal permit for a planned copper mine southeast of Tucson because of water concerns.

The EPA says the proposed Rosemont Mine could “damage the water quality and ecosystem of two key streams, Cienega Creek and Davidson Canyon” and called them “aquatic resources of national importance.”

According to the Arizona Daily Star, the federal agency also says Rosemont Copper hasn’t shown that the mine would meet all the federal guidelines needed to obtain the key permit.

EPA officials also say the mine could adversely affect seven threatened and endangered species — the Chiricahua leopard frog, Mexican spotted owl, Southwestern willow flycatcher, lesser long-nosed bat, ocelot, Gila topminnow and jaguar.

Read more:

Apple Adds Solar, Fuel Cells in Quest for Biggest Everything

Apple Inc.'s Plans for Maiden, North Carolina

Apple Inc. plans for a $1 billion dollar data center in Maiden, North Carolina. Courtesy Catawba County, North Carolina

By Tom Randall Feb 23, 2012 9:28 AM MT

Apple is the world’s biggest company by market size, the biggest buyer of semi-conductors, the biggest maker of smartphones, and, if you include iPads, the biggest maker of personal computers.

The company is about to add a few more superlatives to the list: America’s biggest producer of on-site solar and fuel-cell power.

Both energy projects are part of the ongoing construction of Apple’s 500,000 square-foot data center, in Maiden, North Carolina. The facility, Apple’s biggest, will help feed Apple’s data-hungry iCloud online storage system and SIRI voice-recognition software. It recently earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, becoming the biggest data farm in the world to earn the top environmental credential, the company reported this week.

Apple is vying with competitors like Google and Facebook to maintain cheap data storage rates while taking advantage of tax benefits by financing renewable energy projects. Demand for Apple’s data services have skyrocketed in recent years. The most recent model of iPhone, the i4S, doubled data use compared with the previous model.

The data center in Maiden will include a 100-acre, 20-megawatt solar array that supplies 42 million kilowatt-hours of energy a year. The biogas-powered fuel-cell installation will generate 5 megawatts of continuous power, adding another 40 million kWh. Combined, the output is equal to 17 percent of Apple’s worldwide energy use last year.

Facilities account for just 2 percent of the Apple’s global carbon footprint, according to the company. The rest comes from production and recycling of products, transportation, and iPhone batteries drained by people watching puppy videos.

Visit for the latest from Bloomberg News about energy, natural resources and global business.

C3, SAIC Expand Alliance on Energy Management Services By Derek Top

C3, SAIC Expand Alliance on Energy Management Services

SAIC and C3 are teaming up to deliver integrated energy solutions to commercial, industrial, and government customers in North America. Under the agreement, SAIC will sell, install, and support C3 software as part of its energy services offerings.

In tying SAIC’s portfolio of energy services with C3’s energy and emissions software, the formidable alliance will compete with the likes ofSchneider ElectricABB, and Siemens for enterprise-wide energy management and smart grid integration.

The extended relationship between SAIC and C3, which began in August 2011, will include joint development on a range of solutions include strategic energy positioning, practical energy solutions, and project integration and management.

“An effective energy strategy requires an investment in robust software to aggregate and analyze energy data. C3’s advanced energy management software platform provides an enterprise-class solution. For optimal results, highly specialized expert services to design, build, finance, and execute are a must,” said Adrian Bowles, Principal Analyst with independent advisory firm Sustainable Insights Group, in a statement.

Indeed the energy management software market can be confusing as companies navigate options to track and reduce energy use. Software packages range from a stand-alone product or a module of an operations, maintenance, sustainability, or environmental suite of solutions.

Founded by software veteran Tom Siebel, C3 came out of stealth last year after raising $45 million and enlisting an impressive roster of board members, including Condaleezza Rice. Among C3’s clients includeMazdar City, Dow Chemical and PG&E.

C3 offers a software-as-a-service (SaaS) suite with five components: C3 Energy (for energy management), C3 Sustainability (for greenhouse gas inventory), C3 Mitigation (to track energy projects and their return), C3 Incentives (a library of government and utility financial incentives), and C3 Foundation (for energy modeling, key performance indicators, security, etc.).

Earlier this week, C3 launched a Version 3 of its energy and sustainability applications adding new functionality, user interaction models, and data analytics. The software, available in the coming months, can be deployed as either a hosted or on-premise application.

Electrical transmission tower photo provided by Shutterstock