Saturday 3 April 2010

Japan plans nuclear power expansion
31 March 2010

Proposal for eight new reactors and nuclear fuel reprocessing faces public opposition.

Like most countries that embraced nuclear power decades ago, Japan has soured on the technology in recent years. But prompted by worries about climate and energy security, the country's industry ministry last week placed a big bet on a rapid expansion of its nuclear power capability. When the draft energy plan is finalized and signed by the Japanese cabinet in June, it will stand as a roadmap for the country's new government, which campaigned on a platform of reducing carbon emissions by 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 - a promise that is unpopular with the business community. But despite the government's nuclear ambitions, individual reactors will still need approval from local authorities, which is far from certain.

Japan relies on imports for more than 80% of its total energy needs; the plan aims to reduce that figure to just 30% by 2030. "With the balance of energy demand changing dramatically we really have to think about energy security," says Ken Sasaji, director of the ministry's energy planning office. Japan already has 54 reactors with a total generating capacity of 49 GWs, accounting for about a quarter of its electricity supplies (see 'Japan's energy mix'). But following a series of accidents between 1997 and 2007, growing public resistance meant that only five reactors were built in the past decade. The new plan proposes building eight reactors by 2020 to supply an additional 11.4 GWs of electricity.

To ensure that those reactors have fuel, Japan forged a nuclear-energy deal in March with Kazakhstan, which holds the world's second-largest uranium reserves and mines about 20% of the world's uranium ore, making it the world's biggest producer. Japan has promised to supply nuclear-energy technology to Kazakhstan in return for a stable supply of uranium. And last week, Itochu, a Tokyo-based trading company backed by the government, bought a 15% stake in Kalahari Minerals, headquartered in London, which is developing a large uranium mine in Namibia. The mine is expected to begin producing more than 5,000 tonnes of uranium per year in 2013 - roughly 10% of the total uranium mined around the world in 2008.

Japan is also counting on its nuclear recycling programme, which recently started after years of failed efforts to convince local residents of its necessity and safety (see Nature 440, 138; 2006). In December 2009, a reactor on the southern island of Kyushu started burning mixed oxide fuel, made by mixing uranium with plutonium from spent fuel. And in February, the Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission gave its approval for a restart of the Monju fast-breeder test reactor in Tsuruga, which will use some of the neutrons generated during the fission process to turn non-fissile uranium isotopes into plutonium that can be extracted from the spent fuel.

There are also plans to squeeze extra energy from the country's existing reactors, some of which are around 40 years old. At a 19 March meeting of the US–Japan Nuclear Energy Steering Committee in Washington DC, the partners agreed to collaborate on studies aimed at extending the life of old reactors. But the Japanese government will face a struggle to secure public acceptance of its nuclear ambitions, which are open for public comment until 7 April. Confidence in nuclear power was shaken in 2007 when a magnitude-6.8 earthquake caused a shutdown of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata after radioactive cooling water leaked into the sea (see Nature 448, 392–393; 2007).

And fresh objections are being raised about Monju. After decades of experimentation, most countries with significant nuclear capabilities have given up on fast-breeder technology, partly because of safety concerns. Monju itself has been closed since 1995 when leaking coolant damaged the plant, and a cover-up attempt damaged the plant's reputation. With safety and earthquake-resistance tests completed in February, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which runs Monju, now only needs the local Fukui government to sign on.

On 11 March, however, 29 scientists opposed to restarting Monju released a letter on the Citi Investment Researchzens' Nuclear Information Center website claiming that checks of key pipes have been inadequate and that the current reactor set-up does not serve as a useful prototype for future fast-breeder reactors. The group argues that because Monju's construction costs were five times greater than a conventional reactor, a full-scale plant would have to be very different from the Monju protoype to be commercially viable.

Japan's situation contrasts with that of its neighbour, China, where more than 20 reactors are under construction and face little public opposition. China aims to reach at least 70 GWs of nuclear power by 2020. For Japan, eight new reactors over the next decade will be a struggle, says Takuyuki Kawauchi of the industry ministry's nuclear-energy policy division. "We can't just start putting reactors wherever we want," he says. "We have to get the understanding of the local residents, and that takes time."

USA and Vietnam agree to nuclear cooperation
31 March 2010

The USA has signed with Vietnam for increased cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Meanwhile, it has moved closer to opening nuclear trade with India with an agreement on nuclear fuel reprocessing. America's memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Vietnam was signed in Hanoi yesterday by Le Dinh Tien, Vietnam's deputy minister of science and technology, and Michael Michalak, US Ambassador to the country. In a statement, the US Department of State said, "This MoU will open the door for increased cooperation in such areas as the development of human resources and safety and security infrastructure, access to reliable sources of nuclear fuel, and the management of radioactive waste and used fuel."

It added, "Vietnam has demonstrated its commitment to the responsible expansion of nuclear power through careful steps taken in cooperation with the United States, among other international partners, towards the development of the robust nuclear infrastructure needed to oversee the deployment of its first nuclear power plants over the coming decades."

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Michalak commented: "Pursuant to the MoU, the United States and Vietnam will continue our current efforts to develop the regulatory and physical infrastructure needed for a safe and secure Vietnamese civilian nuclear power sector. This MoU will facilitate our two nations cooperating in areas such as requirements for power reactor and fuel service arrangements, including the establishment of a reliable source of nuclear fuel for future Vietnamese civilian nuclear reactors, allowing Vietnam to rely upon international markets for nuclear fuel services." He noted that the signing of the MoU is "the culmination of many months of detailed negotiations, building on several years of ongoing cooperation."

Michalak added, "I anticipate that our signatures on the MoU will serve as a stepping stone towards negotiation of a legally binding government-to-government Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy Agreement, known as a Section 123 Agreement, which would allow even broader and deeper nuclear cooperation between our two countries and would facilitate the participation of the US companies in the Vietnamese nuclear sector." Tien noted that Vietnam is "willing to cooperate with international partners in the field on the basis of respect to national independence, sovereignty and mutual benefits."

The USA and Vietnam have signed several agreements to boost nuclear cooperation over the past few years, including a 2007 agreement between the US Department of Energy's (DoE's) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) for cooperation and information exchange on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. A similar agreement was signed in 2008 between the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (Varans). The DoE and NRC have also provided technical assistance to Vietnamese drafters of the new Atomic Energy Law passed in June 2008.

In addition to the USA, Vietnam has signed nuclear cooperation and assistance agreements with countries including Japan, France, China, South Korea and Canada. The Vietnamese government approved a nuclear power development plan in 2007, aiming for a 2000 MWe nuclear power plant to be online by 2020, and a general law on nuclear energy was passed in mid 2008. The plan calls for two reactors with a combined capacity of 2000 MWe to be constructed from 2014 at Phuoc Dinh in the southern Ninh Thuan province and come into operation from about 2020, followed by another 2000 MWe at Vinh Hai in the Ninh Hai district.

Inquiry call into waste from Anglesey nuclear power
30 March 2010

A call for a public inquiry into how to deal with waste from a planned Anglesey nuclear power station has been backed by the Welsh Assembly Government. Proposals for a new reactor at Wylfa are welcomed by local politicians like AM Ieuan Wyn Jones and MP Albert Owen, but condemned by environmentalists. However, the assembly cabinet has been, and remains, generally opposed to nuclear power. But an assembly government spokesperson said it would engage with the project. She said this would ensure maximum local and regional benefit from the building and operating of the new power station.

The decision on Wylfa will be a matter for the UK government and the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) planning process. The assembly government spokesperson said: "We have a way to go in justifying to the public what must be done in dealing with future nuclear waste. "We therefore support the call for a public inquiry on dealing with the waste arising from new nuclear build on the grounds of concern over the safety and security of its management."

It also remained of the view that exploiting potential for renewable energy "reduces the need for other, more hazardous, forms of low carbon energy and obviates the need for new nuclear power stations in Wales." Mr Jones, who is also Plaid Cymru leader, and deputy first minister and the economy and transport minister, said it would be "essential" that local businesses benefit from contracts on the site and supply chain opportunities. He said these would need to "built into" any planning consents. Mr Jones added: "Given the job losses that we have had on the island during the last 18 months this economic boost would be very welcome."

Waste concern
However, his view is in contrast to the position taken by his party, and a Plaid spokesman said: "Plaid remains opposed to nuclear power." But the Plaid spokesman added that the party "understands" that Mr Jones, the prospective general election candidate, Dylan Rees, and party members on the island have to "give full consideration to the needs of its communities and economy" when taking a view on any developments. Albert Owen MP said the announcement by Horizon Power Nuclear Power that Anglesey was its "number one site" for a new station was "a vote of confidence" in the island's community and workforce.

He said: "It is also a vote of confidence in the UK government's energy policy on new nuclear and its vision in developing a low carbon future. "Getting to this point did not happen by accident, but by design; through strong campaigning." Mr Owen added: "Safety is, of course, top of the agenda, as is the economic impact with the new skills and thousands of new jobs such a development would bring, in creating apprenticeships, jobs for life in construction and generating jobs through the supply chain.

"Being the number one site means additional benefits. For example, a stimulator can be based on the island and used as a model for other locations and become a centre of excellence for the industry". Gordon James, director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, condemned the scheme and Mr Jones's support for it. He said it would be a "dangerous distraction", diverting political attention and scarce resources from better solutions.

He said no-one had yet "convincingly addressed the massive problems of hazardous waste, terrorism and nuclear proliferation" and said that "allowing this nuclear power station to go ahead would seriously undermine democracy in Wales". "This decision would be imposed upon us by the unelected and unaccountable Planning Infrastructure Commission (IPC), against the wishes of the Welsh Assembly Government. "We find it incredible that Ieuan Wyn Jones can support this."

Legal threat
Greenpeace said the nuclear industry could not change the fact that nuclear power is "eye-wateringly expensive" and that there's "no solution to dealing with nuclear waste". "These are very real problems to which the nuclear industry has no answers," he said. Friends of the Earth warned the UK government it was likely to take legal action against what it calls "the seriously flawed IPC process." Conservatives said the development would "of course be welcome news" for the local economy, but "we should not pretend it will provide a quick fix to the current economic difficulties facing the island.

A Tory spokesperson said: "An earlier decision by the UK government on new nuclear power stations might also have saved jobs at Anglesey Aluminium which relied on the plant for power." Welsh Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Mike German said his party opposed nuclear power and believed "the massive investment required would be better spent on creating jobs that will deliver low carbon energy quickly, safely, cheaply and reliably for the area and Wales".

Mr German said: "We've seen a lack of ambition from this government in pushing for cleaner forms of energy production that can provide jobs for people in the area. "Nuclear power is not the answer to Wales' energy needs as there are plenty of unseen costs - the cost to people's health and the environment - which cannot be paid for." He said: "We've seen a lack of ambition from this government in pushing for cleaner forms of energy production that can provide jobs for people in the area."

Thursday 1 April 2010

Ohio plugs wind power on Lake Erie
March 29, 2010

Ohio officials outlined plans Monday to put Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, at the forefront of offshore wind power development. Gov. Ted Strickland and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown joined industry and education leaders to detail tax-cut and regulatory measures to jump-start wind power development on Lake Erie. The lake's comparatively shallow depth is seen as an advantage when erecting towers to produce wind power. Strickland said his proposal to eliminate the tangible personal property tax on wind and solar generation equipment would make Ohio competitive in developing wind power.

The measure, now before state lawmakers, would cover wind and solar facilities where ground is broken this year and energy is being produced by 2012. Last week regulators approved the state's first large-scale wind farms, all in western Ohio: two farms in Hardin County and an operation in Champaign County. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer. Under Ohio's alternative energy plan, 25% of electricity sold in the state must be generated from alternative energy sources by 2025.

Brown said legislation he is backing in Congress would expand federal tax incentives for offshore wind development. The measure will provide a guide for federal agencies coordinating the development of the industry, he said. Ohio already leads the nation in the number of clean-energy jobs funded by the federal economic stimulus package, Brown said at a news conference at the Great Lakes Science Center, which has a 150-foot tall wind turbine tower. He urged people to look beyond the upfront cost of developing wind power and other clean-energy sources, saying it could create jobs in the U.S, energy industry and Americans already are spending money to buy overseas oil.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 57% of the petroleum used in the U.S, in 2008 was imported, with 45% of imports coming from the western hemisphere, 22% from Africa, 21% from the Persian Gulf and the remainder from other sources. "As we develop this industry, instead of importing wind turbines from China and other places, we're going to be doing the development in this country," Brown said. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, working with the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., released a request Monday seeking proposals from developers for an initial wind-power project off Cleveland. The goal is to reduce startup costs for developers and make wind power attractive.

Pakistan in ‘civil nuclear deal’ with China
March 30, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has entered a civil nuclear deal with China for the establishment of two nuclear power projects of 640 MWs in Chashma, Daily Times has learnt. The breakthrough deal – under which Pakistan would be provided a loan, technology and installation facilities – was finalised ahead of the latest round of the Pak-US strategic dialogue, as the federal cabinet granted financial approval at a meeting on March 24. Sources privy to the deal said the federal cabinet had approved an inter-government framework agreement on the financing of 'Chashma Nuclear Power Project 3' and 'Chashma Nuclear Power Project 4' with China. The sources said under the agreement, China would provide 82% of the total $1.912 billion financing to Pakistan as a 20-year soft loan, with an eight-year grace period.

In a bid to guarantee financing for the two plants, the inter-government framework agreement requires both countries to enter three loan agreements. Under the first loan agreement, Pakistan would be provided $104 million with an annual interest rate of 1%, management fee of 0.2% and a commitment fee of 0.2%. Under the second preferential buyer credit agreement, Pakistan would get $1 billion with an annual interest rate of 2%, a management fee of 0.2% and a commitment fee of 0.2% – while the third buyers credit agreement would provide Pakistan $474 million with an annual interest rate of 6%, a management fee of 0.75%, a commitment fee of 0.5% and an insurance rate of 7%.

However, according to the inter-government framework agreement, the annual composite interest rate would not exceed three% in any case. The sources said that frequent visits by President Asif Ali Zardar and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani helped secure the deal. They said the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) had already approved the two projects. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission would be the executing agency for the establishment of the two plants – which would be completed in eight years. The sources said each 320-MW unit would contain a nuclear steam supply system, a turbine-generator set and the associated auxiliary equipment and installations.

U.S., India reach agreement on nuclear fuel reprocessing
March 30, 2010

NEW DELHI - - India and the United States announced Monday the successful conclusion of negotiations granting rights to India to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, a new step toward opening nuclear commerce between the two countries, potentially worth billions of dollars. The accord is part of the historic civilian nuclear-energy agreement that ended more than three decades of nuclear isolation for India by facilitating its access to nuclear fuel and technology, even though it has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The agreement, negotiated for more than nine months, lays out conditions to safeguard against the diversion of American nuclear fuel into India's weapons program, but critics warned that the accord would create new dangers of spreading nuclear materials.

The U.S. State Department and India's Department of Atomic Energy released a short statement announcing the deal. Timothy J. Roemer, U.S, ambassador to India, said it was "part of the great, win-win narrative of the U.S.-India global partnership." Last year's agreement raised hopes of new business deals for U.S, companies, but so far those have not been fulfilled. Although the nuclear deal was signed in 2008, and two sites have been identified by India for U.S, reactors, no American company has signed contracts. India has yet to pass a controversial nuclear-liability law and give a letter of assurance on nonproliferation, a licensing requirement that governs all commercial nuclear exports. Meanwhile, India has signed deals with state-owned French and Russian nuclear companies.

Monday's announcement comes just two weeks before the Obama administration is scheduled to host an international summit on nuclear security. Sources in the Indian and American nuclear power industries said India has secured significant concessions in the reprocessing accord. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details have not been made public. One element is that the reprocessing will not be monitored by the United States directly, but by the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, according to a source in the U.S. nuclear industry. "Indians did not want direct American oversight with an American flag on them. It is a symbolic, sovereignty issue for Indians," said the source, who is familiar with the negotiations.

The United States follows this model only with Europe and Japan. "India is now in a special circle. This is a big deal," said Ted Jones, director of policy advocacy at the U.S.-India Business Council. Another thorny issue that slowed negotiations was that India insisted on having more than one reprocessing plant, saying it was risky to transport fuel from one place to another through densely populated regions. American negotiators initially resisted, but the Indian argument prevailed, said an official in India's state-run nuclear power company.

Many nonproliferation advocates have expressed concern about how India would handle the plutonium that would be extracted from imported spent fuel, which can be used to make nuclear bombs. "At a time when nuclear terrorism and proliferation concerns are only increasing, the United States should be doing everything it can to stop existing reprocessing, not facilitate more," said Edwin Lyman, an expert on nuclear proliferation at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

He said it remains unclear what would be done with the plutonium produced by an Indian reprocessing plant. Although India has a breeder reactor capable of using plutonium as fuel, India has refused to put that reactor under the supervision of the IAEA. India has pledged not to use the plutonium for its weapons program, although it diverted civilian nuclear fuel to build its first nuclear weapons three decades ago.

The pact will go into effect unless Congress passes a resolution of disapproval. "We've debated and voted on this twice," said Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. He said Congress would not do so again. But, he added, he was disappointed that India has not adopted measures to limit U.S. nuclear companies' liability. "We were hoping the Indians would be doing a lot better on that score," he said.

Wednesday 31 March 2010

Out-of-pocket green home auditors plan legal action

Canberra Times
Tuesday 30/3/2010 Page: 2

The Rudd Government could face a class action lawsuit from home sustainability assessors left financially out of pocket by the suspension of its flawed Green Loans scheme. A campaign website has been set tip by a group of assessors, with a Western Australian lawyer enlisted to lead the bid to take legal action against the federal environment department. So far, 180 people who incurred debts as a result of the scheme's training, insurance, registration and equipment costs have signed up to take part in a class action.

Fieldforce, the biggest business operating under the loans program, is also seeking compensation, claiming changes to the scheme have put 500 jobs at risk. The loans component of the program was axed last month. The Government also announced the number of assessors would be capped at 5000, with each assessor able to conduct only five home audits a week. Australian Greens deputy leader Christine Milne said thousands of people had been plunged into debt after paying more than $3000 to train as green home auditors under the scheme.

"We have received hundreds of heart-breaking entails and letters from people who are in terrible financial trouble as a result of the Green Loans scheme," Senator Milne said. "We have letters from people who invested savings, borrowed money from their parents or mortgaged their house to train as home assessors. They are utterly crushed."

The $175 million loans program is part of the same energy efficiency package as the Government's $2.7 billion home insulation scheme, which was dumped last month after being linked to four deaths and more than 100 house fires. Both schemes were part of the Rudd Government's $42 billion economic stimulus package. The Green Loans program aimed to cut energy and water use by training and paying assessors to conduct free home audits. The assessors advised householders on applying for interest-free loans to finance changes such as installing solar panels, grey water systems and rainwater tanks.

Following questions raised by Senator Milne and Simon Birmingham during a Senate estimates, the program is being investigated by the Auditor-General and a Senate environment committee inquiry. Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has also called for "a frank assessment of the program". Australian utility and business services group, UXG is seeking compensation for assessors working under its subsidiary, Fieldforce Services. The company's finance director Mark Hubbard told business media yesterday Fieldforce had been in discussions with the Government "for some time" regarding compensation.

The company has suggested to the Government it could take over running a revamped Green Loans program. "One form of compensation could be its delivering the program entirely," Mr Hubbard said. During the recent Senate estimates hearing it was revealed Fieldforce's call centre had preferential direct email access to the federal Environment Department to book home assessments, while other companies said they spent up to three hours on the telephone trying to book audits. They claimed the preferential arrangement allowed Fieldforce to secure up to 30% of audits.

Siemens to build UK wind turbine plant
29 March 2010

The government will receive another boost to its green manufacturing momentum this week when Siemens of Germany announces plans to create hundreds of jobs in Britain and invest more than £75m in a new wind turbine plant. The move comes despite claims made today by the EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, that the UK tax system is still stacked against manufacturing and needs a shake-up if the economy is to become less geared towards financial services. The Siemens factory has particular significance because it shows Britain can beat off competition from Denmark and Germany to house a plant capable of making a new generation of extra-large blades.

The facility will demonstrate, too, that Britain can be at the centre of the German manufacturer's worldwide wind ambitions, because Siemens already has a wind power training centre in Newcastle upon Tyne and a global centre for offshore grid connections in Manchester. It is also sponsoring significant research work into renewables at Sheffield and Keele universities. Siemens declined to comment ahead of an announcement but well placed sources said that a deal had been struck at the highest possible level of government for the company to locate a facility in Britain, probably on the east coast of England.

The decision comes after months of talks – including meetings at 10 Downing Street with the Siemens president, Peter Löscher – and is believed to have been finalised as a result of an important change in the budget last week, which brought public grants for ports to build green manufacturing hubs around them. The Siemens facility is expected to create 700 direct jobs and perhaps as many as 1,500 more in the supply chain. The plans will be announced only days after GE, the American conglomerate, announced a similar initiative in Britain, with investment of £100m, creating 2,000 jobs. Mitsubishi of Japan and Clipper Windpower of the US have also announced schemes to make bigger and better blades that could bring down the cost of producing wind offshore.

Big utilities such as E.ON and RWE have won acreage under the Round Three (R3) licensing scheme to develop wind farms many miles off the coast of Britain. But some have warned that the economics remain fragile, given the deep water levels and other factors involved, unless development costs can be driven down. Alistair Darling announced £60m worth of grants in the budget to develop onshore manufacturing around dock areas, as well as a plan to create a green investment bank that would be capable of taking equity stakes in R3 schemes.

Some of these financial incentives seem to have been enough to persuade Siemens to build in Britain, going some way towards repairing the damage done by Vestas' decision to close the UK's only functioning wind turbine factory last summer in the Isle of Wight. There has also been dismay that 90% of the supply contracts for Britain's biggest offshore wind farm, the London Array, went abroad, many of them to Siemens in Germany and Denmark. The British wind power industry has estimated that eventually 70,000 green-collar jobs could be created on the back of more than £100bn of private sector investment needed under R3 proposals.

But the report out today from the EEF, entitled "Tax reform for a balanced economy", says that for UK manufacturing to succeed in the future, a range of reforms to the system of investment allowances will be needed. The engineering sector also wants a cut in corporation tax, an increase in VAT and a return of the top rate of income tax to 40p.

The EEF warns that failure to tackle the tax system will stop the economy from being rebalanced away from the City and encourage companies to move overseas. "While there have been some helpful changes to the tax regime in recent years, we still lack a coherent tax system that encourages manufacturers to invest and sends the signal that they should be doing it here," the EEF's director of policy, Steve Radley, said. "The next government must think and act differently. In particular, it can achieve much larger benefits from any new measures if its approach is more predictable and transparent."

Overview of onshore and offshore wind power
March 28, 2010

Potential for Wind
Professor Mark Jacobson from Stanford University recently shared that the potential energy from all wind over land in high-wind areas outside Antarctica is between 70 and 170 TW. To put this in perspective, currently the entire world energy demand is around 13TW and it is predicted that we will be at 17TW by 2030. Of course a lot of the potential is in off-shore wind as most of the prime land in the developed world has been used up.

In their recent report, Credit Suisse concluded that "Wind energy is the second most economical power generation source… However we note its limitation not only as an intermittent source, but the high probability that on peak energy use days (for example, when it is very hot or very cold), wind resource tends to be lower than usual. In addition, transmission investment would be required because wind resources tend to be far from where the electricity is needed."

On-shore Wind
To-date we have an installed a little more than 100 GWs of on-shore wind capacity from a total potential of 1,000GW. For comparison, in 2007 the total electrical generation capacity in the U.K, was 80GW (based on latest IEA data). It is generally accepted that on-shore wind can compete with traditional generation sources, without subsidy, in areas where wind speeds are high enough. However, subsidies in the form of feed-in tariffs have clearly helped increase adoption in many industrialized regions.

Some of the potential problems with on-shore wind is that most of the prime real estate has been used up. Moreover, like most RE projects, the implementation of these sources are capital intensive – requiring substantial up-front investments which makes ROI vulnerable to interest rates. In the current climate, financing projects at a cost that makes economic sense will be challenging absent policy support via subsidies and incentives.

Furthermore, as most of these wind-farms are far from consumers, the cost to connect to the grid should also be factored in. Longer term, blade and turbine supply may challenge the supply chain. Innovation is also required to reduce exposure to volatile commodities (steel/copper) that go into the manufacturing of these systems. When looking at on-shore wind, it is interesting to consider the footprint of various RE generation sources to meet consumption. The following maps shows the footprint of RE sources if we were to power 100% of on-road vehicles and 50% of all US Energy from Wind.

Offshore Wind
As mentioned, a lot of prime land based locations have been exhausted, so the next place to look for wind is off-shore. Wind is stronger and a lot more consistent off-shore which makes it the natural next fit for wind-power. However, it does have some logistical and design challenges such as the high cost of running sub-sea cables to connect to the grid along with the harsh environmental conditions that can exasperate wear and tear on the equipment.

As discussed at the World Economic Forum, significant work by Siemens, Vestas REpower and others have resolved many of the reliability issues by strengthening and improving components and insulating internal mechanisms from salt laden sea air. This has come at a cost though with considerable compromises made on weight and upfront costs.

Just as the oil and gas industry had to master deep water operations to build and maintain off-shore oil and gas platforms, the off-shore wind industry faces similar challenges which will have an impact on the cost to operate and maintain such systems. This reality in effect further increases the upfront capital expenses needed to get such projects going (ROI will be interest rate sensitive) with the potential risk of higher costs during project maturation related to maintenance and repair activities.

Experts at Davos concluded that in the foreseeable future, off-shore turbines will have lower profit margins than onshore turbines, and as long as onshore development continues to be healthy, turbine manufacturers will focus on producing onshore turbines, which may lead to potential bottlenecks for offshore turbine projects.

With this background information, it is important for US Investors to recognize that state tax and financial incentives, as well as state renewable portfolio standards (RPS MetOcean), will have an important effect on this resource. Furthermore, as larger and more efficient turbines erode the grid parity cost premium for wind-power, federal tax incentives and other subsidies will increase new wind installations.

Of the various policy drivers, it appears that State RPS MetOcean may be the most effective driver for this technology in the United States. Of course, each state must direct policy and incentives to address constraints such as the wind resource locations and quality of such locations, cost of traditional generation sources, electricity growth projections, the willingness of power utilities to integrate wind into their network, permitting and siting of wind farm locations, and the rules that govern the transmission system.

Largest First Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant In Spain

The Spanish system integrator, Assyce Fotovoltaica, is constructing the largest FirstSolar free-field solar power plant in Extremadura, with a capacity of more than 26 MW. The power plant with a land area of 69 hectares should be completed by the end of the year and will generate more than 42 million kW-hours of electricity per year.

"The area offers very good conditions for photovoltaics," explains Luis Garrido, managing director of Assyce Fotovoltaica. "Due to the high level of solar radiation in the south of Spain, we can expect a very good yield of electricity." The electricity yield will also benefit from the implementation of a new transformer technology. "In contrast to traditional power plants, electricity loss is considerably reduced," says Luis Garrido. Assyce is also implementing in this project the worldwide established inverter system technology from market-leader SMA Technology AG, based in Kassel, Germany. 36 transformer stations will be built up on the 69-hectare site.

With more than 337,000 modules capturing solar radiation, Assyce Fotovoltaica, currently the only FirstSolar system integrator in Spain, is putting its trust in FirstSolar's thin film technology which has already proven its worth in many other solar power plants. "The modules are very effective and durable and they are perfect for use in hot climate regions," explains Luis Garrido. The FirstSolar modules offer a high level of operating reliability for the project. Assyce Fotovoltaica has been working together with FirstSolar with excellent success for years. Basically this partnership makes the realisation of this remarkable large-scale project possible.

The construction of the free-field solar power plant began at the end of January. The whole power plant should be completed by the end of the year at the latest. With the eco-friendly solar electricity over 30 tonnes of CO2 could be saved every year and the electricity yield is enough to energize more than 14,000 four-person households for a whole year. "We are making an important contribution to the climate protection and to the expansion of renewable energy resources," explains Luis Garrido. "Power from the sun always has a future and will remain an important pillar of renewable energy."

Due to the limitation of 200 MWs per year for new free-field solar power plants (since the end of 2008), Assyce is particularly excited about being able to construct a power plant with a dimension of 10% of the total annual volume together with FirstSolar. Assyce Fotovoltaica is one of the pioneers in the Spanish free-field solar power plant market. The company, based in Padul (Granada), has already constructed more than 12 solar power plants all over Spain over the last few years.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Smart Grids To Overhaul Power Sector

Monday 29/3/2010 Page: 26

JUST as mobile phones allowed the long-standing business models of the telecommunications industry to be broken, so it seems that the emergence of electric car networks and smart grids will turn the multi-trillion-dollar car and energy industries on their head. No longer will these industries be dominated by the old carmakers, petroleum groups and centralised utilities. Indeed, they seem destined to follow the path of AT&T and Telstra broken up, downsized and desperately defending a declining traditional business while trying to match wits and expertise with innovative and fast-moving competitors.

How exactly this plays out in energy markets is exercising the thoughts of strategists everywhere, fascinated and animated by the potential incursions of Google, which now has a generator's licence in the US, and the likes of India's mobile phone group Airvoice, which is involved in a joint venture to build $50 billion worth of large-scale solar and wind capacity. One of the principal technologies that will allow these dramatic changes is the development of the smart grid, essentially an energy network that allows communication, monitoring, control and two-way sales. GE's Bob Gilligan, who heads the company's push into digital energy, describes it as an "energy internet".

But how will smart grids affect the average consumer, apart from rendering the electricity bill as impenetrable as the mobile phone bill? Gilligan says it could reduce the size of the bills, lead to the purchase of more efficient appliances and prioritise their use at different times of the day. Portugal is now one of the most advanced renewable nations in the world, producing 44% of its energy needs from renewables on one day last year, and recently lifting its annual target to 31% by 2020.

Logica's Jose Antunes, who led the technology side of Portuguese utility EDP's Invogrid Project, says one of the most interesting developments has been the emergence of the "prosumer", home owners equipped with solar panels and wind turbines who are now using the smart grid to sell energy back into the network for five times the price it would cost them to buy. So far, there are 100,000 such prosumers, and the monthly online "auction" of new positions has to be closed down within an hour.

"Consumers are able to reshape their behaviour in way which allows them to save, reduce consumption at peak time, and allows utilities to better manager their networks," Antunes says. "If you can do that in such a way which means you no longer have to build a $1bn peaking plant, then you can start to understand the benefits of smart grids."

GE's Gilligan says smart grids will be essential as the world moves towards electric vehicles and electric car networks, which will probably be charged in off-grid hours and could conceivably sell energy back into the grid to cope with peak demands. Gilligan says smart grids and smarter usage will allow the current power generating sources in the US to support the transition of cars to EV. This suggests the businesses that dominate the energy industry of the future may not be the biggest power providers, but those with the smartest software. "We are seeing a massive business change affecting a very large set of infrastructure businesses," Gilligan says.

China in the lead on green energy spend

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 27/3/2010 Page: 84

CHINA has taken the lead in investments in clean energy - spending nearly double what the US did last year - as it ramps up projects in renewable and traditional energy, a report out yesterday says. China's investment and financing for clean energy rose to $US34.6 billion last year, out of $162 billion invested globally, the report by the non-profit Pew Research Center Charitable Trusts says. US spending ranked second, at $18.6 billion, with European nations also recording strong growth. The report comes as China is clinching energy and resource-related deals meant to help ensure access to the commodities needed to keep its fast-growing economy booming.

Its offshore oil and gas company, CNOOC, this week agreed to buy 3.6 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas a year, for 20 years, from an Australian energy project operated by BG Group. The deal is estimated it at $80 billion. The US leads on installed renewable energy, with 52.2 GWs of wind, small hydro-electric, biomass and waste generating capacity, the report says. China quickly is closing the gap, as a doubling in wind energy capacity alone boosted its own installed renewable energy capacity to 49.7 GWs last year.

Giant aims to tap solar scheme

Monday 29/3/2010 Page: 24

A solar energy giant backed by Google, Chevron, Morgan Stanley and BP has emerged as a major contender in the federal government's $1.5 billion solar power scheme. BrightSource Energy Australian representative Andrew Dyer confirmed the company wanted to build a large-scale solar thermal plant through the commonwealth grant program. The Australian reported earlier this month that Spanish solar giant Cobra Energy was also a contender and planned building a $1bn plant at Mildura in northwest Victoria, or in Queensland.

Mr Dyer said BrightSource Energy hoped to construct a tower-style plant in either Queensland or west of the Great Dividing Range in NSW, northern South Australia, or the Geraldton area of Western Australia. BrightSource Energy has had a 6MW demonstration plant running for two years in Israel's Negev Desert. The company is using that technology as a basis for the three-tower 400MW Ivanpah plant to be constructed in California's Mojave Desert. The US government underwrote the capital investment for Ivanpah in a $1.4bn loan guarantee believed to be the first of its kind for a solar energy project in the US.

The Australian plant would use the basic tower design from Ivanpah, but with two towers about 160m high, capable of generating 250MW. The company has formed a consortium that includes Abigroup, WorleyParsons and Bilfinger Berger to help construct the plant. "We consider Australia our No 2 market outside the US." Mr Dyer said. "It's the strength of the solar resource, the government commitment to renewable energy, the legal system and the companies you can work with here."

BrightSource Energy would not disclose its budget for the plant, but industry sources put the typical cost of solar thermal projects at about $5 per watt, or $1.25bn for the 250MW plant planned under the solar flagships program. Under the program, the commonwealth pays one-third of the capital cost and the winning bidder pays the rest for successful projects. The fund is expected to select bids for one solar thermal plant (which uses steam to generate power) and one photovoltaic plant (which directly generates electricity). A shortlist is expected to be released next month.

BrightSource Energy's forerunner, Luz, developed a 384MW network of plants in California but sold them to a power company when a new state government removed property tax breaks. The nucleus of the Luz team, including chairman Arnold Goldman, then formed BrightSource Energy with the addition of investment from venture capitalist Vantage Point, Google and the firms mentioned above, and the investment arm of the world's largest privately held US company, food and energy conglomerate Cargill. Mr Dyer said the tower design minimised losses and heated steam to a higher temperature than the trough plants used by many rivals, meaning efficient off-the-shelf steam turbines could be used for generation.

Along with Cobra, BrightSource Energy is expected to be joined by Spanish solar companies Abengoa and Acciona Energy in the bidding to build the solar thermal plant. Acciona Energy has a local presence in Australia with wind and water projects and has a 64MW solar facility in Nevada. Abengoa has 100MW of generation in Spain and a large project planned in the US. BrightSource Energy sees its advantage being the use of the tower technology and the endorsement the loan guarantee has provided for its Ivanpah plant. "You need good technology, a good balance sheet and good management," Mr Dyer said.

The proposed BrightSource Energy plant will not use a storage medium to offer night-time generation as ACS-Cobra plans to do but will use gas to continue selling power into profitable markets when the sun goes down. Cobra, a division of Spanish industrial giant ACS, is expected to use the same trough technology employed in its large plants in Spain. This system, using banks of parabolic mirrors, has the advantage of proven long-term reliability. Several other bidders are also thought to be offering a trough plant, although Abengoa has a tower plant running in Spain.

BrightSource Energy said the tower design had up to 50% thermal efficiency versus the 40% of a trough and had less "parasitic" losses as there was no need to pump fluid through long banks of troughs. The tower technology is designed to reflect solar energy to the tip of the tower by adjusting the angle of the banks of flat mirrors. The steam is generated directly, without a fluid medium.

Qld wants speedy six-star transition

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Friday 26/3/2010 Page: 60

The Council of Australian Governments requires all states and territories are required to implement six-star energy efficiency requirements by May 2011, but the Queensland government wants to introduce the standards from May 1, 2010. The executive director of the Housing Industry Association criticised the surprise announcement, and said builders cannot adjust plans in just five weeks. However the executive director of the Residential Development Council says most major developers have already made the switch.

Monday 29 March 2010

Nuclear not the cheapest path for Australia: OECD
March 27, 2010

NUCLEAR power will be the Western world's cheapest option for electricity in an age of significant carbon charges, but Australia will be one of the few exceptions, a global study has found. In a stunning conclusion, the study by the OECD and the International Energy Agency found that even with a carbon charge of $US30 ($A33) a tonne, it ill be cheaper for Australian generators to burn black coal and send the emissions into the atmosphere than to turn to gas or other low-emission alternatives.

And even on the optimistic assumption that carbon can be captured and stored for $US17.50 to $US25 a tonne, it will be cheaper, it found, for generators in most of Australia to keep sending carbon up the chimney than to adopt carbon capture and storage. The study, Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2010, compares the long-term cost of new state-of-the-art generators using different power sources in different countries - assuming a price of $US30 a tonne for carbon emissions. In general, the plants are expected to be commissioned by 2015, although carbon capture and storage technologies are assumed to come later.

The study was carried out by the Paris-based IEA and its cousin, the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency, using data supplied by governments - or, in Australia's case, the Energy Supply Association of Australia. It essentially asks the question: which technology will be best for a carbon-constrained age? Not surprisingly, it concludes that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, with the best choice varying from one region to another. But three strong conclusions stand out:
  • For the Western world in general, including the success stories of Asia, nuclear power will be the cheapest source of electricity in a world of carbon pricing. This is particularly true for Japan and Korea - Australia's two biggest customers for coal in 2008-09.
  • For Australia and the United States, geothermal energy offers the cheapest source of future electricity, at least at the power station gate, but that could be a long way from the transmission lines and the consumers.
  • In most countries, including Australia, gas is generally not competitive as a source of base-load power - assuming interest rates remain low. But if financing costs were to double from the assumed discount rate of 5 per cent, the flexibility and low capital cost of gas-fired power would see it replace nuclear as the best choice.
  • 'Renewable energy is generally not competitive, other than large hydro projects in the few countries where they are still possible, and biogas and wind in the US. While solar energy costs are expected to fall sharply over the next decade, the study warns that it could be 20 years before solar is a financially attractive option.

For Australian investors, the real head-turning stuff could be the projections of energy costs in Japan and Korea - on 2008-09 data, our two biggest customers for coal. If these figures are right, it's not new coal loaders we'll be needing, but new conveyor belts for the drums of uranium oxide. In Japan, the study estimates, assuming a 5 per cent discount rate, a new nuclear plant would produce electricity at a cost of $US49.71 a MW hour. Power from a new coal plant would cost $US88.08, with gas more expensive still.

In Korea, the gap would be even wider, with nuclear costing $US29.05 a MW hour and coal $US65.80. The study attributes this to Korea's low construction costs and its experience in building nuclear stations. It would be a different story in China, which is assumed not to have carbon pricing. Its massive hydro schemes supply the world's cheapest power, with coal and nuclear more or less equal in cost. No nuclear power options were costed in Australia, since none have been proposed. Without them, Australia stands to lose its cheap energy advantage, as even Japanese nuclear energy would be cheaper than any of our coal options.

There were also surprising conclusions for Victoria, with the study estimating that brown coal with carbon capture and storage would be a cheaper source of power than gas. But if the discount rate for projects is raised towards 10 per cent, gas or dirty brown coal would be the best options in Victoria, and dirty black coal or geothermal in the rest of Australia.

Germans put sunny Australia in the shade
March 26, 2010

Germany may be a cloudy country - but it has 50 times as much solar power as sunny Australia. An international study on clean energy conducted by the Pew Center has found Australia is far from leading the way. Australia is considered a good fit for solar panels because it is sunny, has long daylight hours and plenty of space for panels. But it ranks 15th on the world solar scale, with fewer solar panels than countries such as Germany, South Korea, Mexico and South Africa. Experts blame a lack of government incentives for Australia's solar slump of the past 15 years.

The study found Australia was doing better on wind power, and came in at 14th overall in clean energy investment last year, spending US$1 billion. That's less than Turkey, Mexico and Canada. Of the money spent on clean energy by the G20 - the world's richest countries - Australia accounted for less than one per cent. China is leading the world on clean energy, spending the most and now rivalling the US in installed capacity. "With clean energy investments up more than 50 per cent in 2009, China took the lead among G20 nations for the first time," the report found. Pew Research Center, a respected US-based research organisation, found investment in clean energy surged 230 per cent in the last five years, with US$162 billion spent last year alone.

Australia recently introduced a target to have 20 per cent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, although the scheme ran into trouble and is being fixed. Plans to introduce an emissions trading scheme, which would put a price on carbon pollution and favour clean energy, are on hold after the Senate blocked it. John Connor, chief executive of the Climate Institute Australia, said Australia was "slipping behind.., dangerously" on clean energy. "There is no getting around the need to have clear directions for limiting and pricing climate pollution as well as additional policies to better improve our woeful energy wastefulness," he said.

Laser Guidance Adds Power to Wind Turbines
March 25, 2010

The wind industry may soon be dependent on a different kind of environmental awareness that has more to do with lasers than ecology. A new laser system that can be mounted on wind turbines allows them to prepare for the wind rushing toward their blades. The lasers act like sonar for the wind, bouncing off microscopically small particulates and back to a fiber optic detector. That data is fed to an on-board processor that generates a three-dimensional view of the wind speed and direction. Subtle adjustments in the turbine blade's angle to the window allows it to capture more energy and protect itself in case of strong gusts.

The startup company that developed the Vindicator system, Catch the Wind, recently deployed a wind unit on a Nebraska Public Power District turbine. It increased the production of the unit by more than 10%, according to the company's white paper. If those numbers held across the nations' 35 GWs of installed wind capacity, the LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors could add more than 3.5 GWs of wind capacity without adding a single additional turbine. "This is what they call disruptive technology," said William Fetzer, vice president of business development for Catch the Wind. "There are roughly 80,000 to 90,000 wind turbines out in the world, and they don't have this technology."

Wind farms are only as good as their data. There have been revolutions in assessing wind resources over long time-scales, but the short-term gustiness of the wind has remained a problem. Current wind turbines rely on wind-measuring instruments known as anemometers that are mounted to the back of the turbine's gear-housing unit, called a nacelle. The data from the wind is fed to a computer that optimizes the blades' configuration to capture the most energy from the wind.

In many cases, cup anemometers, which took their current form in the 1930s, are still used. They work well enough, but have to be positioned behind the blades, which subjects them to turbulence. And, importantly, they can only tell you how fast the wind was blowing after it passed. That doesn't help you with a freak gust of wind or any of the odd behavior that renewable energy developers have caught the wind exhibiting.

Fort Felker, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's National Wind Technology Center, said he saw great potential in LIDAR and similar sound-wave-based systems generally. "Once you have a detailed knowledge of the coming wind, there are a lot of opportunities," said Felker told While he estimates the amount of energy that could be captured is below Catch the Wind's 10%, he said the systems could really help reduce the wear-and-tear on machines caused by strong winds hitting improperly positioned blades. "Researchers have already demonstrated that substantial reduction of loads is certainly possible," Felker said.

LIDAR, despite first being demonstrated for wind measurement in the 1970s, has been slow to catch on. The systems have been too expensive. "Widespread deployment of the technique has so far been hampered by the expense and complexity of LIDAR systems," a 2005 NREL research report found. "However, the recent development of LIDAR systems based on optical fiber and components from the telecommunications industry promises large improvements in cost, compactness, and reliability so that it becomes viable to consider the deployment of such systems on large wind turbines."

Now, even the most venerable R&D testing group in the world, the Danish National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy's Risøe wind outfit, is working on a turbine-mounted LIDAR system, though they only claim a 5% increase in electricity production. Catch the Wind grew out of a small-business grant that the company's predecessor, Optical Air Data Systems, received from the U.S, military. They developed a LIDAR system for helicopters working in the dusty Iraq and Afghanistan terrain. The company developed their rugged and relatively lightweight LIDAR systems by marrying aerospace knowledge with emerging telecommunications tech like better fiber optic cables and laser diodes.

Still, Catch the Wind may have a tough road ahead. The energy industry is notoriously risk averse. Besides, wind electricity in many places is already cheaper than wholesale electricity prices. Erin Edholm, a representative for National Wind, a wind-farm developer that's put in more than 4,000 MWs of turbines, said that the company's wind resource assessment team "has not used [LIDAR] or considered using it to date." But that doesn't dim the hopes of Catch the Wind's Fetzer for the company's ultimate success. "When you do disruptive technologies, it takes time," Fetzer said. "People don't believe that things are as bad as they are until they can see what we can do."

It helps that they don't need the wind turbine manufacturers to incorporate their technology to jump start their business. They've got what's known as a "bolt-on" solution, meaning it can be attached to existing turbines. They don't need manufacturers to incorporate their product to sell it to wind farms. Still, some wind farmers may worry that the warranties they have on their turbines would be voided by adding a LIDAR system. Fetzer said Catch the Wind is working out the warranty issues. General Electric, which is the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the United States, is not using or developing LIDAR specifically, either. Catch the Wind did recently sell one of their machines to a large, unnamed turbine manufacturer.

Though Catch the Wind is not discussing pricing for their products, Fetzer maintains that their customers will make their money back in the three-to-five year range that he says wind developers are looking for. The 2005 NREL report calculated a preliminary cost for a generic LIDAR system of less than $95,000, once production was up and running. The development of controls for capturing the most energy from the wind has been a constant theme in wind energy research. But it's not always the company that develops the technology that reaps the rewards from its commercialization. Wind turbines in the 1980s struggled mightily to convert the wind's gusty capriciousness into steady rotary power.

At the time, the turbine's rotor had to turn at a constant rate. Researchers realized that their machines could operate over a larger range of speeds if the rotor could speed up or slow down in response to the wind, but they would need power electronics to translate the power into electricity suitable for the grid. A multimillion dollar R&D program launched by U.S. Windpower and the Electric Power Research Institute to commercialize a variable-speed rotor resulted in a mostly defective turbine design that helped push U.S. Windpower out of business. The variable-speed rotor went on to become a standard part of wind turbine designs.

Catch the Wind obviously is hoping not to suffer the same fate. They are exploring a variety of business models including sharing the revenue from the extra power they say their systems can generate. If they don't generate any more electricity, the wind turbine owner doesn't pay anything. If they do, Catch the Wind gets half the take. "It's a good value proposition," Fetzer concluded.

Synergy signs on for Collgar wind power

Thursday 25/3/2010 Page: 24

PLANS for another massive wind farm in Australia received a major boost yesterday when West Australian energy retailer Synergy Energy signed a 15-year contract worth an estimated $1.5 billion to purchase power from the proposed Collgar wind farm. Construction of the $750 million, 206 MW wind farm in the wheatbelt which would produce more electricity than the combined output of Western Australia's two biggest existing wind farms, at Emu Downs and Albany could start in May.

In Victoria, an even bigger wind farm, to produce 365MW, is under consideration. West Australian Energy Minister Peter Collier said the WA farm was assured and should be operating by August next year. Its production would lift total renewable energy generation in the main electricity grid from 5% to almost 9%. Synergy Energy manager of power procurement Trevor Harvey said the deal was the biggest renewable energy contract in the company's history. "There's no doubt renewable energy does have additional costs associated with it. It is more expensive than non-renewable energy but it benefits the environment and this is a good market price in our view," Mr Harvey said.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Wind in key SA project's sails

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 25/3/2010 Page: 58

THE owner of the proposed 450MW wind-farm project at Woakwine in South Australia will use proceeds from the sale of its overseas assets to fast-track its key Australian projects. The group flagged the sale of its US, French and German assets last year. In an investor presentation earlier this week, however, it said the "processes are in the final binding bid phase". "If appropriate, (Infigen Energy) will utilise proceeds to accelerate development pipeline in Australia," the presentation said. Infigen Energy is Australia's largest owner of wind farms by total capacity. Most are in its two SA projects at WoakWine and Lincoln Gap (177MW).

Infigen Energy's development manager Frank Boland last month said landowner agreements were in place for its Woakwine project, which stretches from Cape Jaffa to Beachport in the South-East of the state. "The Development Application and grid connection are also both significantly well progressed," he said. Infigen Energy spokesperson Rosalie Duff yesterday refused to say which projects would be fast-tracked. "It's (Woakwine) is clearly a key project but we haven't given any timeline on any projects," she said. Infigen Energy has interests in 41 wind farms with a capacity of approximately 2246 MW.

World Bank Invests $400 Million in Indonesian Geothermal Energy
23 March 2010

The World Bank has announced $400 million in funding to help double Indonesia's geothermal energy capacity. It says the investment is an effort to assist developing countries produce clean energy and reduce carbon emissions. Indonesia, with its numerous volcanoes and hot springs, has some of the largest geothermal energy reserves in the world. Geothermal energy is produced from heat stored below the Earth's surface. Indonesian officials estimate the country has about 28,000 MWs of geothermal capacity, the equivalent of about 12 billion barrels of oil.

Clean, reliable but more expensive
The World Bank says it will invest $400 million in co-financing to develop Indonesia's geothermal energy. The World Bank's Tim Brown says the money will help Indonesia reduce the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% in the coming decade. "In this case Indonesia's power sector is growing in coal, right, moving to coal away from oil in the last, say 10 years. And geothermal is an untapped resource but geothermal is riskier than coal, it's more expensive than coal. And so this funding allows Indonesia to make the decision to promote geothermal without incurring as much of the extra costs," he said.

He says while geothermal energy is clean and reliable, it can cost between up to $40 million just to find the right location. "You have to drill holes to find it. And the hole itself costs several million dollars and you might have to drill like five holes or 10 holes before you get the confirmed amount of steam you need to build a power generation plant around it," said Brown. The World Bank says currently only 65% of Indonesians have access to electricity. It estimates this funding will help bring electricity to 90% of the population by 2020.

Greenhouse gases come from a variety of sources, among them burning carbon fuels such as oil and coal. Climate scientists say the gases contribute to climate change. The Indonesia project is part of a $40-billion World Bank initiative to develop low-carbon growth projects worldwide. The bank also funds projects in Colombia, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Mexico and several other countries to increase mass transportation, and solar and wind power. Environmental groups support the geothermal energy projects but are concerned that the World Bank also may fund some more traditional energy projects, such as a coal-fired plant in South Africa. They are pressing the World Bank to fund only clean energy projects.

Iberian spot power hit by nuclear, wind forecast
Mar 23, 2010

MADRID, March 23 (Reuters) - Iberian spot power posted its largest fall in a month on Tuesday, driven by a rise in cheaper electricity from wind parks and a nuclear power plant coming back on line. The 1,000 MW Vandellos II nuclear power station was reconnected to the grid on Monday night and by Tuesday morning was running at about 40% of capacity.

National grid operator REE predicted wind power in Spain - - which accounts for 85% of the Iberian market - - would rise to 6,800 MW on Wednesday from 3,500 MW on Tuesday morning. Dealers said the fall of 9.45 euros per MW-hour in the day-ahead "pool" price fixed by the Omel exchange was bigger than many had expected, and saw little or no additional downside for Wednesday. This was the largest one-day fall since a 16.25 euro/MWh drop on Feb. 26.

Along the curve, prices fell early but recovered to trade little changed by late morning. "The market is awaiting direction after the sharp fall in the pool," a trader said. Calendar-year 2011 was quoted at 39.80/40.30 euros/MWh in over-the-counter dealing, compared to trades settled at 40.05 late on Monday. All eight of Spain's nuclear power stations were operating and generating 6,746 MW between them, or the equivalent of 18.3% of domestic demand, data from REE and the CSN watchdog showed.