Green

On the GreenBeat: Clean energy bill sees revival, GM partners with ABB, SolarCity teams with Telsa

A clean-energy bill sees revival on Capitol Hill. A bipartisan group of senators will propose legislation that would set a goal of 15 percent renewable energy by 2021. The bill would require utilities to start drawing from renewable energy sources starting in 2012. It’s set to be voted on after the Nov. 2 elections.

GM announced today it will be collaborating with electrical giant ABB to develop secondary uses for the Volt battery. The companies will develop a pilot program that will research potential cost-effective solutions for the battery once they have been recycled from the Volt. Potential uses include renewable energy storage, grid load management and back-up power supply. Nissan made a similar announcement last week, saying it would enter a joint venture with Sumimoto to explore uses for used Leaf batteries.

SolarCity will team with Tesla and the University of California, Berkeley, to research battery storage for the solar market using a $1.7 million grant from the California Public Utilities Commission and California Solar Initiative. The project will look into “photovoltaic storage,” in which batteries (in the case, Tesla’s) can extend the use of solar energy for users by storing excess production during the day, then releasing it after the sun goes down.  “Battery storage will be an important component in the mass adoption of PV, it will make solar electricity a more predictable energy source,” said SolarCity COO Peter Rive.

Pattern Energy wants to build a 400-mile, $1 billion transmission line – dubbed “Southern Cross” — that will allow wind energy in Texas to be exported to 10 other Southern states. West Texas is the nation’s largest producer of wind energy, but the energy is only available to users within the state. The next step: Pattern will outline the proposal in more detail in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before the end of the year.

LED lighting startup Bridgelux opened its new factory in Livermore, Calif. yesterday. The timing is significant: prices in the LED industry are dropping, and adoption of LED lights is rising thanks to increasing electricity rates, and there’s competition coming from Asia and major companies like GE and Philips, Green Tech Media notes. Bridgelux chose the stateside location because the used factory could be acquired cheaply, saving the company $20 million a year, chief executive Bill Watkins told the San Francisco Chronicle – but future factories will likely be in Asia.

Fiberight, a waste-to-biofuels company, has landed a 20-year deal with British company TMO Renewables that could be worth more than $25 million a year. Fiberight will use a TMO process that turns biomass into fuel ethanol, and will build 15 plants in the U.S. within the next five years. “Together, the companies are on track to become one of the largest producers of cellulosic ethanol in the U.S. during 2011,” Fiberight CEO Craig Stuart-Paul told Reuters.