Google, Good Energies, and Marubeni Corporation Invest in Atlantic Wind Connection Backbone Transmission Project

On October 12, Google and Good Energies announced (Google blog post | Good Energies press release) that each had invested in the development stage of the Atlantic Wind Connection Backbone (AWC) Transmission Project.  The specific dollar value of the investment wasn't disclosed, but each obtained a 37.5% stake. The New York Times reported the cost of the transmission project at $5 billion and cited the CEO of Trans-Elect who said that the stakes taken by Google and Good Energies would require an investment of $200 million each in the initial phase of construction (if the companies maintained their percentages of ownership). In addition, The New York Times reported that Marubeni Corporation obtained a 15% stake in this project.

The development of this project is being by Trans-Elect, which hopes to begin construction in 2013 of the proposed 350-mile underwater backbone, which would run from New Jersey to Virginia.  When completed, it is projected to provide transmission capabilities for approximately 6,000 MW of offshore wind capacity.

"This new American super grid off the Mid-Atlantic coast will unlock an important untapped resource, creating the foundation for a new industry and jobs for thousands of American workers," said Bob Mitchell, CEO of Trans-Elect.

"We are honored to participate with our partners in this groundbreaking project. The Atlantic Wind Connection Project will enable the development of thousands of megawatts of wind energy capacity in one of the nation’s most restricted power markets. AWC will help bring stability and security to the eastern power grid while enabling the states to meet their renewable energy goals and standards by accessing an untapped large scale local renewable resource – offshore wind," said John Breckenridge, Managing Director at Good Energies. "Good Energies consistently searches for outstanding investmentopportunities that present innovative and cost-effective solutions and which we can leverageour expertise to aid in the transition to a low carbon economy."

"We are excited to make our first investment in transmission development on this gamechanging renewable energy project," added Nathan Campbell, Director at Good Energies. "We see the space as an enormous opportunity to deploy capital within our North American Infrastructure fund. Transmission backbones that enable gigawatts of renewable energy to be deployed will be critical in achieving long term public policy objectives."

Konarka Opens World’s Largest Roll-to-Roll Flexible Thin Film Solar Manufacturing Facility

Konarka

Konarka Technologies, Inc., a Lowell, Massachusetts-based developer and manufacturer of solar plastic films, recently announced that it opened the largest roll-to-roll flexible thin film solar manufacturing facility in the world.  The facility is in a 250,000 square foot building in New Bedford, Massachusetts that was previously used by Polaroid Corporation. The following video provides a brief overview of the company:

"This facility has state-of-the-art printing capabilities that are ready for full operation, with the future potential to produce over a gigawatt of flexible plastic solar modules per year," commented Howard Berke, executive chairman and co-founder of Konarka. "Our technical leadership and innovation in flexible thin film solar, along with this facility’s capabilities of producing in excess of 10 million square meters of material per year, will allow us to produce Power Plastic for indoor, portable, outdoor and building integrated applications."

"Since 2001, Konarka has taken revolutionary lab discoveries from its founding scientists to pilot production for initial customers and now to full-scale manufacturing with the near future capacity of one gigawatt per year, which could contribute to the power and electricity needs of our nation and the avoidance of CO2 emissions," said Rick Hess, president and CEO at Konarka. "As one of the original recipients of the Solar American Initiative (SAI) awards in 2007, Konarka is furthering the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) vision to reach its goal of making solar electricity from photovoltaics cost-competitive with conventional forms of electricity."

"With our nationally recognized technology expertise and resources, Massachusetts is becoming a global center for alternative and renewable energy, and Konarka is helping to solidify our commitment to a clean energy future and ongoing economic development and job growth in the Commonwealth," said, Daniel O’Connell, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development.

Scott W. Lang, Mayor of New Bedford, added, "We are excited that Konarka is bringing new jobs to help further drive the economy and interest in the city of New Bedford, and we are proud that our city is home once again to an industry leading manufacturing plant."

Konarka has obtained more than $100 million from venture capital and private equity funds thusfar, including 3i Group, Chevron, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Good Energies, Massachusetts Green Energy Fund, Mackenzie Financial, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Asenqua Ventures.  The company has also received $18 million in government agency research grants from the U.S. and Europe.

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SolarReserve Receives $140 Million in Series B Financing

SolarReserve

SolarReserve, a developer of utility scale renewable energy solar power plants, recently announced it has closed a $140 million Series B round of funding.  The financing was led by Sustainable Development Investments (SDI) (the renewable energy private equity group within Citi Alternative Investments) and Good Energies. Other investors included US Renewables Group (SolarReserve’s founding investor) along with PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (CETF), Nimes Capital, LLC and Credit Suisse.

"Our investment in SolarReserve is part of Citi’s continued commitment to address climate change," stated Citi’s R. Andrew de Pass, Managing Director and Head of SDI. "The technology backing by United Technologies Corp. and the ability of the system to store energy differentiates SolarReserve from other alternative technologies and has the ability to replace conventional fuel burning power plants."

"SolarReserve possesses the leading utility scale, solar thermal technology as well as a world class development team to bring this technology to the market," stated John Breckenridge, Managing Director for Good Energies. "This additional funding provides SolarReserve with the financial resources to aggressively pursue the expanding market for large scale solar energy projects. Good Energies is excited to bring SolarReserve financial support and access to our global renewable energy network."

SolarReserve said that it will use the funds to further its development of more than 5,000 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale power plants in locations across the globe, each ranging in size from 50MW to 300MW.  The company is developing power plants (what it calls "Solar Power Towers") that generate electricity from the sun’s heat.   The image below outlines the company’s technology and approach (click the image to download a larger version):

SolarReserve Technology

SolarReserve’s plants capture the sun’s thermal energy, store the energy in molten salt, and transform the heat into steam-driven turbines that generate electricity.  The molten salt is heated by concentrating the sun’s energy via thousands of mirrors onto a central receiver and, according to the company, is so efficient that the energy can be stored for use during times when direct sunlight is unavailable.  SolarReserve holds the exclusive worldwide license to molten salt power tower solar technology developed by the Rocketdyne division of Hamilton Sundstrand (a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.).

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