California and American West Top 2012 State Clean Energy Index

California is the top clean energy state in the United States for the third consecutive year, and the American West region continues to lead the national clean tech economy, according to a new ranking from industry analysts Clean Edge.

The 2012 State Clean Energy Index, the third-annual such analysis, aggregates various industry data into one scoring system. Overall scores are awarded on a 100-point scale based on three categories – installed technology (clean electricity, clean transportation, energy intelligence & green building), policy outlook (regulations & mandates, incentives), and invested capital (financial, human & intellectual).

#1 — California

California dominated the rankings with a 91.1 score, more than 10 points higher than the second-ranked state, even though it lost 4.2 points from 2011. The Golden State “has established itself as the world’s preeminent testing ground for clean technology of all kinds,” and led the country in nearly all aspects of market expansion, including new wind and solar, hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), and green building.

However, the state’s most notable achievement comes in attracting venture capital. California-based clean energy startups saw $9 billion in investment over the past three years, more than the combined total of all 49 other states.

#2 — Oregon

Oregon held onto its second-place rank, gaining 0.5 points for a 79.9 score. Clean Edge credits the state’s success to consumer-driven demand for clean tech products and services, the highest national participation rates for voluntary green pricing programs, the largest concentration of LEED-certified buildings, and one of the highest rates of hybrid-electric vehicles per-capita.

#3 — Massachusetts

Massachusetts jumped 4.3 points to retain its third-place rank with a score of 76.1. Clean Edge attributes the state’s strength to an existing base of energy efficiency measures, a $500-million infusion of venture capital investment in 2011, and the Boston metro region’s network of universities. The index considers this concentration of education and startups second only to Silicon Valley.

#4 — Washington State

Washington State, buoyed by a 9-point increase, jumped from sixth overall in 2010 to the fourth-ranked state in 2011 with a score of 69.0. This ranking was due to newly added wind capacity and strong hydropower output, which helped to generate more than 84 percent of all in-state electricity from low-carbon sources (up from 72 percent in 2010). In addition, the state’s focus on building out an EV charging network could make it an industry epicenter moving forward.

#5 — Colorado

Rounding out the top five was Colorado, which maintained the fifth-overall rank from 2010 with a five-point score increase to 65.1. Clean tech infrastructure continues to grow in the state, especially in green building, wind power, and solar photovoltaics. Interestingly, Colorado also checks in as the third most attractive destination for venture capital investment, thanks largely to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

National trends

Clean Edge also noted four impressive national trends:

  • Six states now generate more than 10 percent of their utility-scale electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal – twice as many as 2010.
  • Nearly two million hybrid cars are now registered in the U.S., and nearly 50,000 all-electric vehicles now ride our roads.
  • The 29 states with renewable portfolio standards (along with Washington, D.C.) now represent nearly two-thirds of the total national generating capacity.
  • Clean energy patents granted to U.S. entities exceeded the 1,000 mark for the first time in history.

Remainder of top ten

The index also highlights interesting factors that helped determine the rank of the rest of the top-ten states:

  • New York State (64.9) ranked sixth, generating more GDP dollars per kilowatt-hours consumed as a result of extensive energy efficiency measures, and the upstate region is a growing hotbed of clean energy R&D.
  • Illinois (59.8) ranked seventh, reflecting rural areas of the state’s focus on agriculture and biofuels development as well as Chicago’s leadership in green building and energy efficiency.
  • New Mexico (58.1) ranked eighth, due largely to the state’s growing importance to the solar industry and importance as a key market for PV deployment and technology development.
  • Vermont (56.5) ranked ninth on the strength of an environmentally minded population, high percentage of hybrid-EV deployment, and energy efficiency measures.
  • Minnesota (54.6) ranked tenth as a notable national leader in wind energy and biofuels. The state was one of only five in 2011 to generate 10 percent of its power needs from wind, and is among the highest national ethanol producers.

Even though national support for clean energy technology may be uncertain, state-level support remains strong and the green economy continues to grow. “The state-level scene shows a diversity that crosses political boundaries and regions,” said Ron Pernick, Clean Edge managing director. “The next decade will determine which nations, states, and cites lead in clean tech.”

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1d4mi)

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UK’s Largest Community Wind Farm Takes New Step Forward

The largest community-owned wind farm project in the UK took an important step towards becoming reality this week, after the trust working on the scheme formally lodged a planning application with Bolsover District Council.

Roseland Community Energy Trust announced that it had filed a planning application for the £19m project, which if approved will see six wind turbines erected on a 450-acre site leased from The Chatsworth Estate.

Speaking to BusinessGreen, the trust’s director John Hudson said that the group had spent three years developing the plans and engaging with the local community and remained confident that the project can secure planning approval.

“We have three factors in our favour: we have good community support for the project, the Localism Bill makes local community benefits a material factor in planning decisions, and changes to planning laws make it more likely that community-owned projects will be consented,” he said.

Hudson acknowledged there was some local opposition to the plans, but stressed that as a community-owned project Roseland had a better chance of engaging with critics and would also ensure that the financial benefits that arise from the scheme would go to the entire community, including those opposed to the project.

If the project is approved, the trust will seek to raise the £19m of capital it requires from banks and a number of green investment bodies.

Hudson said early site assessments and negotiations with potential investors and energy purchasers confirmed that the wind farm could generate annual profits of over £750,000 a year, which would then be distributed through a Local Enterprise Organisation and Community Voluntary Partners.

The groups have drawn up a plan for utilising the revenue from the wind farm, which could see them provide advisory support for local start-ups, undertake refurbishments of local buildings and facilities, install renewable energy technologies at people’s homes, provide re-training for the unemployed, and fund university places for local children.

The Trust is hoping that it can gain planning approval by the end of the year, allowing it to begin construction work and start delivering power and income before the end of 2013.

Hudson said that if successful the Trust would aim to provide a template for other community groups to follow, offering advice on how to develop successful plans and raise the capital to support community-owned projects.

The Roseland wind farm is the latest in a series of community owned projects to emerge in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the Bristol Energy Co-Operative launched a share issue  designed to raise £90,000 for two local solar projects, while a similar £200,000 issue is due to be launched by the Brighton Energy Co-operative next week.

Source = Business Green

NYC to Build Wind and Solar Farm on Old Dump Site

Who would know that an old garbage dump at Staten Island in New York City would house 20 MW of renewable power? If they succeed with their plans, “Fresh Kills landfill” will be transformed into a combined solar and wind farm that could generate enough electricity to power 6,000 average American households!

The old landfill has serviced the city for 53 years, and taken care of a whopping two billion tons of thrash, before closing early in 2011.

Fresh Kills Landfill

Soliciting Bids

NYC says it has 75 acres that are available for lease, and it is currently soliciting bids to see who’s qualified for the job. It will be interesting to see what the bids end at — the main motivator for the companies to be involved is cost-competitive electricity from solar and wind power.

The Future Looks Green

Last week, Deputy Mayor Holloway stated the following about the project:

“New York City needs energy to keep it running, and we want that power to be reliable, clean, and affordable. Renewable energy is the most sustainable kind, and under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership we’re maximizing the use of City assets to develop as much capacity as possible.”

Financial support from the government and states is exactly what we need to push renewable energy forward. This is what has made the solar power industry in Germany triumph, resulting in the country becoming the largest shareholder of the world’s PV solar cells. Even with the recent proposal of cutting subsides as much as 30%, German energy policies could make solar in America a lot more affordable.

We sure hope that NYC’s renewable energy plans go through as dreamed. This would mean a doubling of the city’s renewable power capacity, and could be the catalyst for similar projects in the future.

It sure will be interesting to see how the project develops. In the meantime, feel free to comment below with what you think about NYC’s plans.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/17YZH)