Microgrid for UConn Campus; Northeast Offshore Wind Farms Qualify for Tax Credits; Tesla Motors Debuts China Website

Independent Microgrid for UConn’s Depot Campus Begins

Development has begun for a proposed $2.1 million independent microgrid energy system for the UConn Depot Campus in Storrs, which is planned to commence operation in the fall of 2014, UConn Today reported. This effort, once realized, would enable the University to offer “reliable, uninterrupted power” to a group of Depot Campus buildings should an electric grid power outage occur. The UConn Board of Trustees recently approved the budget for the energy system, the result of a partnership between the state and federal governments, UConn, and industry partners. Included is $725,000 in contingency and project oversight costs that UConn could fund if needed.  The intended microgrid also would power any staging areas for first-responders and related personnel in the event of major emergencies, accidents or disasters. The microgrid is one of nine projects funded by $18 million available from the state as part of phase one of a three-part program, which the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection is overseeing. Among some other critical facilities due to benefit from the microgrid are the Kennedy Building and the Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2). Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations also would receive power.

Two Wind Farm Efforts in Northeast Vie for Expiring Tax Credits

Two wind farms proposals for the Northeast coast of the U.S. — Cape Wind, the $2.6 billion wind farm planned for the Massachusetts coast, and Deepwater Wind LLC, a renewable-energy developer known for proposals to build wind farms off the U.S. Atlantic Coast — both expect to qualify for a federal tax credit that expires at the end of this year, Bloomberg reported in two separate articles. Renewable-energy projects must commence construction, or spend at least 5 percent of the anticipated budget, before Jan. 1 to earn the credit, which reimburses developers as much as 30 percent of costs, according to Bloomberg. Cape Wind has started construction, meeting the investment tax credit requirement, Markus Tacke, CEO of Siemens Energy’s wind power division, told Bloomberg. The 12-year-old 468-megawatt Cape Wind proposed for Nantucket Sound could be the first wind farm built offshore in the U.S. The investment tax credit would be worth $780 million for Cape Wind, Bloomberg reported. The project does face five lawsuits, however, although it has both state and federal permits and has agreements to sell most of its power to National Grid Plc and Northeast Utilities’ Nstar unit, Bloomberg noted. $200 million has been pledged to fund Cape Wind by Danish pension fund PensionDanmark in June. Meanwhile, Deepwater Wind LLC, a renewable-energy developer working on wind projects off the U.S. Atlantic Coast, including the $300 million Block Island Wind Farm, has spent more than a 5 percent threshold on the 30-megawatt project off the Rhode Island coast, CEO Jeff Grybowski told Bloomberg in another report. That qualifies it for the investment tax credit. Deepwater won a July auction to develop offshore wind farms off Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Bloomberg reported. Hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co. has provided some funding, Bloomberg reported. 

Tesla Motors Debuts China Website To Boost Pre-sales of Its Electric Cars

Tesla Motors – which last month unrolled a Beijing-based showroom – has now enlarged its online presence in China by debuting a Chinese-language website, Tousule.cn, to consolidate and reinvigorate its ongoing efforts to pre-sell its Model S and X electric cars (the first is slated for early 2014 distribution), TechCrunch (TC) reported. Previously, its chief presence in China was a brand page on a microblogging platform and a company GM’s personal Weibo account. The China Daily reported that the Model S is priced between $146,000 and $200,000, including import taxes, compared with the U.S. market (where it sells for $71,000 to $120,000) and Europe ($98,000 to $162,000). However, Tousule.cn will offer incentives to offset the premium, TC reported. Tesla focuses on affluent, environmentally conscious early adopters. A key selling point include is its vehicles’ safety record. In addition, Mainland China’s key urban regions, Shanghai and Beijing, face major air-quality issues, which could provide Tesla with a boost over its competitors. Its chief obstacles, TC noted are erecting a charging infrastructure and competing with Chinese electric-car manufacturers, such as BYD and Kandi, which are fed government subsidies. CEO Elon Musk called China a “wild card” and noted he anticipates demand for 10,000 units a year from Europe, then at least 5,000 in Asia, TC reported.



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