Thursday 31 December 2009

Almost a quarter of Scotland’s electricity need met by renewables
24 December 2009

Statistics published yesterday (December 23) showed that in 2008 Scotland generated the equivalent of 22% of its electricity needs from renewables, just 9% off its 2011 target. Energy Trends, a quarterly bulletin of UK energy statistics prepared by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), also revealed that there was a 9% increase in the amount of electricity from renewables (8.900 GWh) in 2008. The wind, wave and solar element of this increased by 26%, although this was mainly attributed to wind. The Scottish Government's target is to meet 31% of electricity demand from renewables by 2011 and 50% by 2020, so a 22% figure in 2008 suggests it is on target.

In all, renewables from Scotland accounted for 42% of UK renewable output. The amount of Renewable Obligation (Scotland) eligible electricity generated in Scotland in 2008 was 11% greater than in 2007, while the amount of Renewables Obligation (RO) eligible electricity generated in Wales in 2008 was 18% more than in 2007. In England, the increase was 8% and in Northern Ireland 52%. In the UK as a whole, RO eligible electricity production increased by 11%. UK wide, hydro sources of electricity rose by 39.3% on the third quarter of 2008, while wind rose by 38.9%.

The Scottish Government said that there was now 6.5GW of renewables capacity installed, consented or under construction around Scotland. It added that its Energy Consents and Deployment Unit was currently processing 36 applications (24 onshore wind, 11 hydro and one thermal), amounting to 2.7GW. In 2009, Whitelee, Europe's largest onshore windfarm, was officially switched on and the pioneering Orkney-based Oyster wave energy generator connected to the National Grid.

Energy Minister Jim Mather said that renewables was now a vibrant energy sector that made a significant contribution to sustainable economic growth. "Scotland's energy advantage is in developing the full range of renewable energy sources to create thousands of long term jobs, reduce emissions and meet our energy needs many times over," Mr Mather said.

He added: "The rapid development of renewables is a tangible example of our fight against climate change and we are working to become an international leader in turning alternative energy technologies into the main energy technologies of the future. "We are already on track to exceed our target of 31% of electricity demand from renewables by 2011. "While we witness continued progress in electricity, we are working to boost the use of renewables in heating through our Renewable Heat Action Plan and a new grant scheme for biomass heating."

Environmental body WWF Scotland said that Scotland was showing the way in terms of renewable energy. Lang Banks, head of communications at WWF Scotland said, "2009 has been another good year for renewable energy. With almost six Gigawatts of renewables capacity installed, consented or under construction, Scotland is on course to smash its interim target of meeting 31% of electricity demand from renewables by 2011.

"Green energy has a critical role to play in helping us achieve the 42% reduction in greenhouse gases set out in the world-leading Scottish Climate Change Act. "On and offshore wind, wave, tidal power, hydro, biomass and solar are all going to be important in Scotland's future mix of clean, green energy." Mr Lang added that WWF's own analysis has found that Scotland could meet all its electricity needs by 2030 without the requirement for either nuclear or fossil fuel powered installations.

Dong rides the wind
23 December, 2009

Denmark's DONG Energy has teamed up with German company Siemens to buy half of the Lincs windfarm project in the North Sea from UK utility Centrica. DONG Energy and Siemens Project Ventures will pay 50% of the project's development costs, seen at £50 million ($80.1 million), the state-controlled utility said in a statement. "DONG Energy's and SPV's aggregated 50% share of the project represents a capital investment of approximately £375 million," it said. "Construction of the project is expected to commence in the late summer of 2010, with commissioning scheduled for 2012."

Centrica will keep the remaining stake in the project, which has a permitted capacity of up to 270 MWs (MW). In a separate statement DONG Energy said Siemens would deliver 75 3.6 MW turbines to Lincs. "DONG Energy and Siemens have agreed to further utilise and expand the off take under the supply agreement signed in March 2009." Meanwhile, DONG Energy also said it had sealed a deal to sell 25.1% of its 367 MW Walney windfarm in the Irish Sea to Scottish and Southern Energy for up to around £39 million.

Iceland wants to be independent from fossil fuel
December 26, 2009

Iceland is among the countries hardest hit by the financial crisis. While trying to recover from the crisis, it plans to move the nation to use renewable energy completely. Iceland plans to move the nation to use renewable energy completely since 80% of the nation's total energy use already stems from renewable sources which boasts the world number one in this aspect. Its unique combination of political will, a concentrated population of just 310,000 people and abundant, low-cost geothermal electricity could, in fact, lead to the first national charging network in the world.

Mitsubishi will be one of Iceland's first partners. The company's relationship to Iceland goes back to the early 1970s, when it began supplying turbines to the country's emerging geothermal industry. Two years ago, Mitsubishi came to the table to talk about bringing its i-MiEV electric car to Iceland. Examples were brought over last year, their first visit outside Japan. Iceland's financial crisis hasn't derailed the Mitsubishi agreement.

Iceland has also flirted with a hydrogen energy economy, and Shell operates a filling station for fuel-cell cars. Jon-Bjorn Skulason of Iceland New Energy said that there are now 10 hydrogen cars in the country, including eight Toyota Priuses modified to burn hydrogen and Ford Focus and Explorer fuel-cell vehicles.

But Grímsson and many other Icelanders have become skeptical about hydrogen for Iceland, largely because fuel-cell vehicles remain in short supply. Meanwhile, plug-in electric cars are scheduled to hit the world's roads in significant numbers next year. "There seems to be a slowdown in the development of hydrogen cars from the big players," Grímsson said. "We believe that electric cars may be better suited to transform our transportation fleet in a short time than hydrogen."

Northern Lights Energy (NLE), provider of infrastructure and services for Electric Vehicles (EV) in Iceland, has signed an agreement with the Reva Electric Car Company (REVA) to jointly develop the electric vehicle market in Iceland. NLE will have exclusive distribution rights for the NXR, the new model premiered by REVA at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and consequent follow-up models, such as the sports coupé NXG, which will be launched in 2011. The sales and marketing of the electric car will commence in the second half of 2010 and customer deliveries at the end of 2010.

NLE is working on developing a recharging infrastructure system for Electric Vehicles and vehicle exchange service to support the adoption of electric vehicles in Iceland. "Iceland is an island and with its advanced electric grid technology using 100% renewable energy in electricity production is a perfect location for zero emission electric vehicles" says Gisli Gislason, the Chairman of NLE. In addition to importing new EV models to Iceland, NLE is also working on developing systems to convert the current internal combustion engine (ICE) car fleet into Electric Cars.

According to a feature report from the Iceland Review, by replacing the remaining oil and gas imports for the fishing fleet and transport sector with renewable energy, Iceland could well become the first country to be 100% energy independent. While the country is still reeling in the aftermath of last fall's banking collapse, some see the economic crisis as an opportunity for change towards heightened sustainability. According to experts, by the time the economy recovers and car sales start to roll, the cost of electric cars, currently not competitive, will have fallen-paving the way for the electrification of the island's land transport, according to the report.

'We could use the opportunity now to modify the tax system to encourage a transition to using locally produced energy for transport," says Pétur Albert Haraldsson, chairperson of Framtídarorka (FTO) Sustainable Solutions-a consultancy focusing on sustainable transport-and co-founder of the Driving Sustainability conference.

The 1970s oil crises spurred discoveries and increased harnessing of geothermal energy. Though the process of transitioning from coal to geothermal energy in Reykjavík began in the 1930s, the change was accelerated in the 70s when more and more houses were connected to the district heating grid in an effort to wean dependence on expensive oil imports. The switch to geothermal also means that CO² levels today are 45% lower than they would otherwise be, said the report.

The next step towards decarbonization and energy independence for Iceland is the transition towards clean transport and electric vehicles. "One of our greatest challenges is the transition from imported fossil fuels to fuels from renewable energy for the mobile parts of our energy system," said Minister for Energy, Industry and Tourism, Katrín Júlíusdóttir recently.

Plans are well underway. Northern Lights Energy (NLE), an investment company focusing on environmentally friendly ventures, runs the 2012–New Beginning project that aims to enable the public to replace their conventional cars with electric vehicles by 2012, according to the report.

Sweden finances Tanzania's rural solar power transformation

DAR ES SALAAM, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) - - Tanzania has received over three billion Tanzanian shillings (about 2.2 million U.S, dollars)from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to implement rural solar energy project in the eastern African country, the local media reported on Friday. After the inauguration of the project, Tanzania Assistant Commissioner of Energy and Minerals Hosea Mbise said that the project was aimed to remove impediments in the development of solar energy sector in Tanzania as it is geared at ensuring that rural-based communities in Tanzania are supplied with reliable power.

Mbise named other impediments as high installation charges of the solar energy facilities as well as low level of awareness amongst the people. Limited numbers of technicians in solar energy equipment installation and low participation of the private businesses in the investment were among of the major challenges facing the sector. "This project is very important for people living in rural areas," Mbise said.

Since the project started in 2005, more than 150 businesspersons had been trained in business related to solar energy investment, while about 152 technicians had been trained on better ways of connecting solar energy and service provision after selling equipment to customers, according to Mbise. He added that more efforts were being made to ensure that the training spread all-over the country so that villagers can enjoy power service.

For his part, project consultant Jeff Michael Felten said some customers have been failing to purchase equipment needed for solar energy installation. "For instance, expenses to install solar energy in the homes starts at 200,000 shillings (about 150 dollars) and goes up depending on the needs, though after installation life span for the facility is about 20 years," he observed. Marketing Manager for Sollatek Power Control, Mrisho Ramadhani urged suppliers of solar energy equipment to refrain from doubling the prices of the items, saying the move discouraged people to opt for the service.

Indonesia province offers $1.4bn geothermal projects
Dec 23, 2009

JAKARTA, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Indonesia's West Java province is offering three geothermal projects requiring $1.4 billion of investment to be financed under a public and private partnership scheme, an official at the planning ministry said on Wednesday. The government has launched two crash programmes to increase power generation because Southeast Asia's biggest economy faces chronic power shortages after years of under investment.

The first 10,000 MW programme relies on coal-fired power plants, while nearly half of a second 10,000 MW programme, due to start next year, will come from geothermal sources. "The IFC (International Finance Corporation) may help with the feasibility studies as long as the terms are clear," said Bastary Pandji Indra, a director at the ministry in charge of projects under public-private partnership. The IFC, the private arm of multilateral lender the World Bank, could also provide further financing for investors who win tenders, Indra added.

The geothermal projects being offered are Gede Pangrango with a potential capacity of 210 MW, Sangkan Hurip with 100 MW and Papandayan with 160 MW. The government has in recent years sought to attract more investment by partnering with private firms, usually with authorities freeing up land and private firms financing most of the construction. A second director at the planning ministry, Monty Girianna, who is in charge of mineral and natural resources, said investors were likely to be interested in the projects provided locations were free of any land disputes and it was clear how much state power firm PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) would pay for the electricity.

An official at the mines and energy ministry said earlier this month that PLN would open tenders to buy the electricity from geothermal developers using a ceiling price of 9.7 U.S, cents per kW hour, more than double the 4 U.S, cents per kWh currently, in a bid to lure investors. [ID:nJAK413274] Indonesia, with hundreds of active and extinct volcanoes, has the potential to produce an estimated 27,000 MW of electricity from geothermal sources.

However, most of the potential remains largely untapped because the high cost of geothermal energy makes the price of electricity generated this way expensive. Nonetheless, local energy firms Medco Energi Internasional (MEDC.JK) and Star Energy, are looking at making new investments, while Chevron (CVX.N), the world's largest private producer of geothermal energy, has previously said it plans to double its geothermal business in Indonesia and the Philippines by 2020.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Carnegie Wave Energy signs agreement with EDF EN
December 24, 2009

Wave Energy Developer Carnegie Corporation Energy (ASX:CWE) has penned a formal CETO Collaboration and Licensing Agreement with Northern Hemisphere Development partner EDF EN. The signing of the license is the final step in the purchase process of the CETO intellectual property and global development rights by Carnegie Corporation paving the way for joint development of commercial CETO projects throughout the Northern Hemisphere and Reunion Island. Carnegie Corporation retains the right to own up to 49% of each project and each project will pay the company a license fee for the use of the CETO technology.

Carnegie Corporation's Managing Director Dr Michael Ottaviano said "I'm delighted to have completed the CETO purchase transaction and to be formally collaborating with EDF EN on developing CETO projects internationally". "We expect to have further news on international developments in the New Year." The signing of this Agreement allows the issue of the Carnegie Corporation shares to Renewable Energy and its nominees as consideration for the purchase of the CETO intellectual property and development rights and results in REH becoming a 29% shareholder in Carnegie Corporation.

SunEdison, Xcel announce solar project
December 23, 2009

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - North America's largest solar energy services provider and a Western utility are planning to install five photovoltaic solar facilities in southeastern New Mexico. SunEdison and Xcel Energy's Southwestern Public Service Company say the 50 MW project will be one of the largest in North America. The five installations will be capable of generating enough electricity to power more than 10,000 homes.

The solar arrays will be located in Lea and Eddy counties. Xcel says the project will bolster rural economies and help the company meet renewable energy standards in New Mexico. The project will be built, financed and maintained by SunEdison under a 20-year agreement with Xcel, which will then buy the power. Officials expect the project to be fully operational by the end of 2011.

Unchristmas Me Without Merriment

Christopher Nagle
December 26, 2009

I am trying to avoid Christmas. No, it is more than that. I am boycotting it. I no longer want to continue to allow myself to be dragged into a shopping festival that celebrates pointless excess spending and gormandizing. It would be nice to celebrate the Christian Christmas, but I am not a Christian, so that isn't open to me either.

Therefore, I am doing New Year. This is a day of resolutions and commitments for the coming year and actively doing something about them on day one. It is a day to re-affirm one' s values, beliefs, familial ties and friendships; to extol the virtues that make life sustainable and worth living.

Of course Christmas has traditionally been about that too, but my concern is that it is being drowned in increasingly grotesque propaganda and frenzied marketing pressure. By adopting the New Year one is at least for the time being, disconnecting from that framework and establishing other kinds of values.

The final straw for this was the Copenhagen failure. It suddenly became crystal clear that there is virtually nothing we can do to stop a generalised and worsening pattern of environmental catastrophe progressively hitting us until it puts us out of action. I can no longer fend off the fear of what is going to happen to my children and grand-children.

I think we all going to be forced to rethink the way we live our lives. I don't suggest that this will necessarily ameliorate what is coming, but it may teach us to become more resilient and frugal within ourselves and less demanding of others and the precious, wounded and now terribly fragile world we occupy.

I know this sounds unseasonably dismal and we should be sharing warm fuzzies, but I am afraid I am just not seeing much to be warmly fuzzy about. Some might say that in those circumstances, perhaps silence would be better, because of the risk of being seen as a humorless killjoy and party pooper. Well, I'll wear that. I have been putting off saying this and taking the plunge for too long. I have had Christmas in my sights for at least a decade, kept silent, went along with it and I have had enough.

So I am not wishing you or anyone else a Merry Christmas. All I can offer is a very sober and low key hope that 2010 will not be yet another year that the locusts ate. I am not holding my breath, but hope, even a poor sort of hope, is a lifebuoy to love and laughter, and a sticking point for one's courage to do what must be done in the year ahead.

And as to Father Christmas: I hope his elves go and get real jobs planting forests on the now receding snow lines of the arctic; that his reindeer get their real job back by replacing snowmobiles; and the fat slob himself gets stuck in one of his own industrial chimneys and chokes on the soot!

India confesses it helped derail Copenhagen deal

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 24/12/2009 Page: 7

INDIA has lauded the lack of carbon cuts in the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, boosting claims by rich countries that developing nations derailed the deal. On his return from Copenhagen, the Indian Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, told Parliament his mandate had been to protect India's right to fast economic growth, and listed killing off binding targets to reducing emissions as a key victory for his country. We can be satisfied that we were able to get our way on this issue [targets]," Mr Ramesh said. Later he told a news conference that a bloc of key emerging economies - Brazil, South Africa, India and China - had worked to protect the rights of the developing world.

India is one of the world's top five greenhouse gas polluters, but one of the smallest emitters per person. The Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, was reluctant to be drawn by the Indian Minister's comments, but admitted Australia had wanted more from the Copenhagen summit. "There are a lot of things that are frustrating about negotiations and obviously people have a range of different positions," Senator Wong said.

We believe the Copenhagen Accord is a step forward. It is not as big a step as we would have liked, but it is certainly better than when we went to Copenhagen." Senator Wong said under the accord, China and India had agreed for the first time to take some action to reduce emissions and be accountable for commitments. The non-binding accord contains no targets or date to end global emissions growth, and has been widely criticised by environmentalists.

Mr Ramesh's comments came after accusations from the British Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, that China had torpedoed a legally binding agreement to a 50% cut in global emissions on 1990 levels by 2050. That deal would have included an 80% cut on 1990 levels by 2050 from developed countries. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has rejected the claims, saying it amounted to the developed world shirking their responsibility to tackle climate change. But writing in The Guardian yesterday the climate change activist Mark Lynas Corporation, who was in the room during the final negotiations, said China had insisted that binding targets be stripped from the agreement.

According to Mr Lynas Corporation, China even requested the 80% target by 2050 for rich nations be taken out of the agreement. That request so angered Mr Rudd he reportedly struck his microphone, while the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, asked angrily: "Why can't we even mention our own targets?" Mr Lynas Corporation said the representatives of Brazil and South Africa were eager to sign up to the legally binding agreement on the table. A spokesman for Senator Wong told the Herald yesterday the Government's position had not changed and it would seek a higher 2050 target at the polls if there was an ambitious global agreement. Australia has committed itself to a 60% cut in emissions by 2050 on 2000 levels.

State blasts Canberra over energy policies - Projects, jobs `under threat

Thursday 24/12/2009 Page: 3

VICTORIA has attacked Canberra's policies on renewable energy, saying it is putting at risk the state's efforts to "clean up its energy generation". In a sharp rebuke to the Rudd Government, state Energy Minister Peter Batchelor said its policies had delayed investment in renewable energy projects, such as wind farms, and had undermined job creation. "We in Victoria want to move away from our overwhelming dependence on brown coal, but to do that we need to encourage investment in new wind farms," he said.

His comments came after The Age revealed that AGL Energy had serious doubts over the future of its proposed $800 million windfarm in western Victoria because of a collapse in renewable energy certificate prices. The certificates are given to energy companies for producing green power, but their value has fallen dramatically since the Federal Government awarded them to people who install solar hot water systems, even though they do not generate power. "We've seen the value of renewable energy certificates fall from over $50 in May this year to less than $35 now," Mr Batchelor said. "We are very concerned about the inability of the national renewable energy scheme to stimulate jobs and investment in Victoria."

He said he was fearful investment could be delayed for years. "So we're saying to the Federal Government, they must change the way they have structured their renewable energy scheme to put some confidence back into the renewable energy certificates and thereby bring on important investment in wind and other renewable energies."

James Purcell, Mayor of Moyne Shire - the home of the proposed 150 wind turbines in Macarthur - said the community supported the windfarm and that Macarthur was the "ideal location". "It affects very few people; it is in a large agricultural area with very few houses around it," he said. The 350-MW windfarm, with turbines 90 metres tall, was expected to be the biggest in the southern hemisphere. Cr Purcell said it would be disappointing for the shire if it were cancelled, but other renewable energy projects would continue. "I think we have got 19 wind farms on the go in the shire at the moment, plus a number of gas-fired power stations," he said. "Something like over 50% of all windfarm applications are within the shire."

A spokesman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong acknowledged that the fall in price for certificates partly reflected the higher uptake of solar water heaters as a result of state incentives and the federal stimulus package. Uncertainty over an emissions trading scheme was also putting downward pressure on the price. He said a joint federal-state review of the certificates was nearly finished. Australia's renewable energy target is to have 20% of power from renewable sources by 2020.

Winds of change - Things are greening up at the grassroots level.

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 24/12/2009 Page: 21

While climate change is debated on the world stage, local councils in South Australia are directing change. They've trained residents to drag three different rubbish bins to the kerb and it's time to move on to the next challenge: the power game. The same authority that hands out library cards and dog tags has its eye on capturing the sun and wind.

Onkaparinga City Council, which spans Adelaide's southern fringe, proposes something for everyone, from household solar panels to miniature "sun farms" and a larger commercial power plant. There are already about 1200 photovoltaic (solar panel) systems installed across the south - mostly on houses. Last week, the council agreed to investigate a scheme whereby preferred suppliers would be appointed to sell solar systems to ratepayers at a bulk-purchase rate.

The smaller sun farms would involve the installation of up to 30kW solar panel systems on public buildings or vacant land. Community members could buy a stake and receive dividends from profits. The 5mW commercial scheme planned for Lonsdale would power about 2000 homes. Onkaparinga chief executive Jeff Tate says while the council will not own and run power companies, it has the vision and ability to bring investors together. "This links in to us trying to build a new economic base in the south; we're now targeting different industry sectors," he says. "Residents and businesses of the city, if they'd like to become involved, we'd find a way for that to happen as well. "It could be a co-operative. It could be a company is formed and people become shareholders."

The green energy plans depend on the willingness of residents and business to invest, and the council now will begin to gauge interest. Solar Energy Society president Monica Oliphant says the Federal Government should provide incentives for larger renewable energy projects to encourage investment. At the individual level, householders are paid a "feed-in tariff' for any unused power they generate, which goes back into the grid. However, larger renewable power schemes do not attract the tariff. "Renewables are still quite expensive," Professor Oliphant says. "A lot of people might not want one on their roof but wouldn't mind putting a bit into a community project. "But the Government does not want to go to a feed-in tariff for larger systems because they're afraid of what it might do to electricity prices."

She also says it is important to look beyond solar energy, to wind turbines and waste gases, to allow for times and places the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine. Professor Oliphant says most local council projects are "small stuff' but Onkaparinga's proposed 5mW system is impressive and would involve more than one source of power. "That's not small-scale stuff - that's good," she says. "They're probably a leader in what they're thinking."

With scientists and politicians still divided on climate change, Professor Oliphant believes it can be tough to persuade homeowners to change the world at their own expense. Associate Professor John Boland, who works in environmental mathematics at UniSA, says local government is doing great work in a range of green directions. "To be honest, some of the best initiatives in many different areas are at the local government level," he says. "I find it quite happily surprising that they seem to be driving these projects.

"There's no feed-in tariffs for big installations like that, only for domestic dwellings, and yet they're pushing it without the best economic drivers there could be." In the Campbelltown City Council area, the State Government is working with the council on developing Lochiel Park - a green village with just 100 sustainable houses. The other two-thirds of the project is parklands. The project will serve as a model for other urban developments and help educate the public and the property development industry about sustainable housing and land development.

Professor Boland says even small projects, such as a solar panel on a council library, can be used to educate the community. Salisbury City Council's stormwater project is another standout scheme and a national and international leader. A series of wetlands created to hold and clean stormwater now is home to more than 100 bird species, including 50 migratory types that visit from as far away as Korea and Japan. Frogs, fish, yabbies and turtles all live in the waters which 20 years ago would have been allowed to run out to sea. Now, much of the water is stored in an underground aquifer for later re-use. Next year, all of Salisbury's parks and reserves will be irrigated with recycled stormwater.

Local Government Association environment and development director Michael Barry says people may be divided on climate change, so such schemes will not motivate everyone. "Everyone's got the right to their own opinion about climate change, but the things that are facts are the cost of energy, the cost of water - the shortage of water is not in dispute in SA," he says. "We'll encourage communities to respond because it's in their interests financially, even if they're not won over philosophically." Mr Barry says councils from Victor Harbor to the South-East and Eyre Peninsula are looking to the sun, wind, rain and methane to make environmental and financial savings. "We do think it's local government's job to help their communities contribute in whatever way they can on these issues," he says.