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Renewable Briefing: Cape Wind, Bloom Boxes, NRG

Here is a briefing on the latest news in renewable power – plus an update on nuclear.

Cape Wind, the 468 MW wind farm planned for Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts, has received the country’s first-ever construction and operation plan (COP) approval for an offshore wind project. Construction on the project could begin this year, Windpower Monthly reports.

The COP approval follows permits from the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a lease from the Department of the Interior. In November the project also received regulatory approval for a 15-year power purchase agreement with National Grid, for half the wind farm’s output.

But the project does not yet have a buyer for the second half of its capacity, presenting a financial hurdle. And several lawsuits and appeals against Cape Wind remain.

“Today’s announcement was nothing more than the same political posturing from the Obama and Patrick Administrations that we have seen for years, a blatant attempt to declare victory in a battle that is far from over,” Audra Parker, the president and CEO of opposition group the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, said.

Bloom Energy, the supplier of Bloom Box fuel cells to companies including Google, eBay, Staples, FedEx and Coca-Cola, has said that it will quadruple the size of its Silicon Valley factory. Bloom Boxes cost $700,000 to $800,000 and provide 100 kW of energy while taking up an area the size of a parking space, Reuters said.

Finally, NRG Energy and Toshiba are canceling plans for two nuclear reactors in Texas, the New York Times reports. Doubts arose after the partial meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan last month.

NRG said the South Texas Project 3 and 4 reactors were considered for the chopping block even before the Japanese nuclear crisis, because of Texas’s electricity surplus and low natural gas prices. But analysts said the Japanese situation may have been the project’s undoing.

The company said it is writing off investments of $331 million.

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