Wednesday 12 May 2010

Germany starts financing renewable energy projects
08 May, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Germany has started its financial cooperation and assistance to Pakistan in power generation through renewable energy to meet the present severe energy crisis here. "Pakistan and Germany have signed two agreements recently for producing power through solar and wind and work on these projects will start before the end of the year," Dr Michael Koch told reporters here at the National Press Club on Friday.

The German ambassador said there would be more projects in Pakistan in renewable energy as there was great potential for development of renewable energy, as Pakistan has the capacity to produce 41,722MW hydro power, 346,000MW wind power potential and 2.9 millionMW from solar system. He said Germany is currently assisting more than 40 countries worldwide in energy projects focusing on use of renewable energies, like hydro power, wind and solar energy. Germany, he said, is a largest trading partner of Pakistan through European Union and added that during 2009 trade volume of Germany with Pakistan remained at $1.8 billion although it was slightly less than $2.2 billion recorded in 2008.

The ambassador said Germany is keenly awaiting next Pakistan-European Union summit being held in Brussels in the first week of June to further promote relations with Pakistan. He said there was great willingness among members of the EU to extend more help and cooperation to Pakistan to resolve its problems. He said Germany had been a major provider of financial assistance to Pakistan in the field of education, health and energy. He said in the last meeting of Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) held in Tokyo, Germany pledged 150 million euro and assured to ensure funding to this sector.

The ambassador said Germany had also doubled annual aid to Pakistan. He said presently 1,200 Pakistani students are getting education in Germany while 100,000 individuals living and working in Germany either have Pakistani nationality or have dual nationality. Replying to another question on Pakistan-German cooperation in technical education as it was in the past, the ambassador agreed to look into the option to open technical institutions here in Pakistan with German cooperation to impart training to young people. He said the two countries have solid relations built on the basis of friendship.

Replying to a question about giving more access to Pakistan in trade in EU and especially Germany, the ambassador said that a number of qualifications need to be fulfilled for having more access to EU for Pakistani goods. Giving an example of a rule, he said the EU rules require that volume of trade should not be more than 1.0 per cent of the EU volume and in case of Pakistan it is 1.5 per cent of the total volume of EU trade that is an impediment to give more access to Pakistani trade to EU. The ambassador said Pakistan had the status of GSP with EU but it is demanding GSP plus and it is under discussion at various levels within in EU and in Pakistan to go in this direction.

The German ambassador said the trade relations between Pakistan and Germany would further flourish in future due to the Investment Protection Treaty signed by the Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani during his visit to Germany in December 2009. He said Germany fully supports Pakistan's point of view for GSP plus status in the European Union. Referring to some other problems, he said, a number of international conventions have not been signed by Pakistan while the most important thing is to fulfil standards set by EU and its member states. On the question of providing technical assistance to meet the standards of export from Pakistan, he said efforts could be made to implement this proposal.-APP

Cow Power in China: World's largest cow manure project to produce energy by using GE's Jenbacher Biogas Technology
May 5, 2010

ENBACH, Austria, May 05, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) - - Helping to alleviate China's energy shortage, GE's ecomagination-approved Jenbacher biogas engines will power the new Liaoning Huishan Cow Farm, which, once completed, will become world's largest biogas project based on cow manure.

The manure from the 250,000 cows at the Huishan farm, located in Shenyang, China, will be converted into biogas and is expected to produce 38,000MWh a year through four GE JMS420 Jenbacher gas engines. The energy generated will be sold to the state grid in China. One of the features of the project is the utilisation of fuel circulation. In addition to the use of biogas for power generation, the liquid (residual from biogas production) will be used to nourish the grass in the pasture, and the solid waste can be sold as organic fertiliser, thus the surrounding land will become a base for organic agriculture.

When the new biogas power generation project is completed, it will be the world's largest cow manure project. It will not only serve China's national economic and environmental development goals, but it also is expected to reduce about 180,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. "The disposal and treatment of biological waste represents a major challenge for the waste industry," said Mr. Xu Guangyi, vice president of Liaoning Huishan Cow Farm. "GE's efficient, durable and reliable Jenbacher biogas engines will allow us to face that challenge by maximising the use of an economical energy supply--cow manure."

Biogas offers customers several advantages. It provides an alternative disposal of dung, liquid manure and biowaste, while simultaneously harnessing them as an energy source, a substitute for conventional fuels. It also has the high potential for reduction in greenhouse gases and is highly efficient for combined on-site power and heat generation. In addition, the remaining substrate from the digester can be used as high-quality, agricultural fertiliser, characterised by neutralising the acid effect with a higher ph-value, keeping nutrients retained and nearly odourless.

"Our Jenbacher biogas engines allow us to provide customers with a cost-effective, high-output means of generating power by using waste material from agriculture as an alternative energy source while substantially and measurably reducing emissions," said Prady Iyyanki, CEO-gas engines for GE Power & Water. "We are glad to be a part of the Huishan gas energy project as China and other countries in Asia seek to harness their own diverse renewable and alternative resources to create cleaner sources of energy." The Huishan Cow Farm is scheduled to begin commercial operation in September 2010.

Japan reactor reopens after 1995 accident
Mon, May 10, 2010

TOKYO - Japan restarted a costly fast-breeder nuclear reactor Thursday for the first time since it was shut down 14 years ago because of a major accident and cover-up. After getting a final government go-ahead, workers began Thursday removing control rods from the plutonium-fired reactor in the northern fishing town of Tsuruga, said Toshihisa Sakurai, a spokesman for the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

The experimental reactor Monju, which means wisdom, uses plutonium fuel instead of conventional uranium and produces radioactive substances that can be reused as fuel. It would reach operating level Saturday and continue its test runs before entering full-fledged operation in 2013.

Monju's initial start-up in August 1995 lasted only four months. It was shut down on Dec. 8 of that year when more than a ton of volatile liquid sodium leaked from a secondary cooling system. No one was hurt and no radioactivity escaped, but Monju's operators came under fire for concealing videotape that showed extensive damage to the reactor.

The accident and cover-up created widespread public concern over the safety of nuclear power. Opponents say fast-breeder nuclear generation is too expensive and is unsafe because of the dangers associated with handling plutonium, which is highly radioactive and could be used to produce nuclear weapons. The multi-billion-dollar project, which dates back to late 1960s, is part of Japan's ambitious nuclear fuel recycling program. Japan hopes to put the fast-breeder reactor into commercial use around 2050.

The U.S., Britain, France and Germany, which were former leaders in fast-breeder projects, have all abandoned their attempts because they are not safe, are not economically viable, pose nuclear proliferation risks and failed to gain social acceptance, opponents said.

"We are deeply concerned about the grave risks involved with the restart of the Monju," Hideyuki Ban, co-director of a civil group Citi Investment Research Nuclear Information Center, said in a statement Thursday. The group demanded the reactor be closed permanently. "It is a great irony that Monju is being restarted when unprecedented international attention is being given to nuclear security."

Japan has already spent more than 900 billion yen ($9.5 billion) on the Monju reactor and would have to spend about 23 billion yen ($240 million) in annual running costs for the next several years. For local officials, Monju's resumption could mean a chance to boost the economy. In providing local consent to Monju's reopening last month, Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa asked Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Masayuki Naoshima for financial assistance and an extension of a "bullet" express train line to the city.

Japan's 55 nuclear reactors supply 35% of the country's electricity. The government wants to build about a dozen more new plants and raise output to around 40% of the national supply for the next 20 years. The nuclear energy industry in Japan has been plagued by safety violations, reactor malfunctions and accidents. The Fukui region also was the scene of Japan's deadliest-ever nuclear-plant accident, when a corroded cooling pipe - carrying boiling water and superheated steam - burst at a plant in Mihama in August, 2004, killing five workers. No radiation was released in that accident.

Energy policy needs a jump-start

Business Spectator
Tuesday 4/5/2010 Page: 1

If there is a sense of deja-vu in the clean energy industry it is because many feel they have been here before: the year 2010 is starting to bear an unsettling resemblance to 2004. That was the year the Howard government decided not to expand the extraordinary successful renewable energy target. It was a decision that brought the industry to a crashing halt, emptied factories and drove Australian and international companies back overseas in search of greener pastures. Which they readily found.

Six years later, the industry has reconvened - a host of local and international developers, manufacturers, financiers and project managers - and is ready to party like its 1999, when the impact of the initial MRET was in full swing. It is, in the words of AGL Energy CEO Michael Fraser, the potential dawn of a new era of energy investment, with billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs, and a pathway to a clean energy future.

What's more, he said. It's a global phenomenon. Even Kuwait has a 5% renewable energy target. It's inconceivable that Australia would not follow. But can Australia get its act together to properly legislate its 20% target, the last leg standing of the Rudd government's climate election package? No-one's prepared to spend much until they know for sure. Senator Penny Wong made her first appearance since her three year campaign to establish a carbon price was sequestered indefinitely by a PM possibly fearful that the issues are far too complex for a twitter election campaign. She managed to talk for 20 minutes without mentioning the ETS. Indeed, her speech might have been a compilation of Energy Minister Martin Ferguson's cleanest press releases, a succession of grant initiatives that are long on promises but so far short on delivery.

But her rhetoric was eerily similar to that in the lead-up to the CPRS debacle. The opposition is divided, the government will negotiate, but only what is fair and reasonable, it is a test of the opposition's commitment to climate change, etc, etc. But its capitulation on the CPRS means the government is not in a position of strength. In an election year it needs runs on the board, and projects to announce. The opposition might not be of a mind to help.

That would be devastating for the local clean energy industry. Little wonder than the local market is taking an each-way bet on the legislation getting passed, with the price for renewable energy certificates currently at $45, halfway between the $60 peak when the Labor government first declared its 2020 target, and the $30 nadir reached when the market suddenly realised how poorly conceived the initial legislation had been.

Other nations won't wait In the light of this uncertainty, the first day of Clean Energy Council's annual conference followed the course of most such gatherings in Australia, it marvelled at the policy initiatives and the massive progress in clean energy development elsewhere in the world, which took off in 2004 just as Australia's was shutting down, rising from around $US46 billion to $US180 billion in 2008. In 2010, after a blip caused by the GFC, it will be more than $US200 billion.

The extra incentive for nations in Europe, along with China and the US, to act with such purpose is not so much concern about climate change, as the threat to energy security, and the fears of energy poverty. In Europe, governments do not want to rely on unstable neighbours to guarantee supply, and would spend some €1.8 trillion over the next two decades.

In the US, the combination of two issues - a carbon constrained world and energy security - was creating a "sweet spot" in energy policy, according to Todd Glass, an energy specialist from the US legal firm Wilson Sonsini. Although he noted that one of the perverse outcomes of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could be the end of bipartisan support for the new clean energy bill. The carrot to buy enough Republicans had been Obama's concession on increased offshore oil drilling. That, though, is now a political hot potato.

In China, said Philip Hirschhorn, the head of Boston Consulting's sustainable development practice in the Asia Pacific, energy policy was being targeted to drive industrial policy, and to provide for a looming energy deficit. The scale of the development is enormous, and in just 5 years Chinese companies had displaced Japanese rivals and now accounted for 5 of the top 6 rankings in solar module manufacturing. "We all need to sit up and take notice," Hirschhorn said.

Monday 10 May 2010

Google wades into wind farms with $42m

Wednesday 5/5/2010 Page: 33

Google has invested $US38.8 million ($42m) in two North Dakota wind farms, the internet giant's first direct investment in utility-scale renewable energy generation. The company said in a blog post that it invested in wind farms built by NextEra Energy Resources, a unit of FPL Group. The wind turbines, made by General Electric, generate 169.5MWs of power, enough to serve more than 55,000 homes. The investment marks a departure from Google's initial approach to renewable energy, which focused on investing in early stage renewable energy companies such as BrightSource Energy, eSolar and AltaRock Energy, which are developing new solar, wind and geothermal power technologies.

Google said it was investing directly in energy projects to accelerate the deployment of the latest clean-energy technology, while providing attractive returns to Google and m ore capital for developers to build additional projects. "We're aiming to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in a way that makes good business sense, too," wrote Rick Needham, Google's green business operations manager. Google's stakes in the wind farms are in the form of "tax equity" investments, in which investors take over a project and use federal tax credits granted to the project to offset their own taxes as a return.

NextEra Energy Resources said it sold approximately $US190m of Class-B membership interests in the two wind farms, with Google's stake representing about 20% of the Class-B shares. The companies didn't immediately disclose the other investors. The projects include a AFP 120MW wind farm in Barnes County, North Dakota, called Ashtabula 2, and a 49MW wind facility called Wilton Wind 2, in Burleigh County, also in North Dakota.

The output from the facilities, which have been operating since last year, is being sold to utilities under power purchase agreements. A Google spokesman said the electricity generated by the wind farms would not be used to power any of the company's data centres. While Google's NextEra Energy Resources investment is not intended to finance any expansion at Ashtabula and Wilton,the internet giant hopes its investment will enable the energy group to invest in additional wind power projects.

The wind farms are among more than 1(),()()()M W of wind power facilities built across the US last year, according to the American Wind Energy Association. NextEra Energy Resources, which owns more than 7500MW of wind farms, is the nation's top wind power generator. It also owns nearly 12,000MW of mostly nuclear and natural-gas fired power generation.

In California, where Google is head quartered, utilities are requited to use renewable sources for a fifth of the power they sell by the end of this year, with the mandate set to expand to one-third renewables by 2020 under pending regulations. Thirty-one other states, and Washington DC, have renewable power requirements or goals, according to the US Department of Energy. In 2008, about 7% of US power supplies came from renewable sources.

3 Gigawatt Asia Solar Energy Initiative Announced
04 MAY, 2010

Energy demand is projected to nearly double in the Asia and Pacific region and the growth provides challenges on how to generate electricity while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To help overcome the challenge, Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced yesterday a solar energy initiative aiming to generate 3,000MWs of solar power over the next three years.

The Asia Solar Energy Initiative (ASEI) will identify and develop large capacity solar farm projects with the help of USD$2.25 billion in finance for the initiative, which is expected to garner an additional $6.75 billion in solar power investments over the same period. In addition to direct financing, ASEI has a target of raising $500 million from donor countries to "buy down" the substantial capital costs of investing in solar energy and will develop other innovative ways to attract private-sector investment. ADB Managing Director General Rajat Nag said that given Central Asia's growing demand for electricity and its substantial resources of desert land suitable for large scale solar farms, several countries in the region are excellent candidates for ADB support through the ASEI initiative.

ASEI will also establish and host the Solar Energy Forum, an international knowledge-sharing platform. The first conference of the Solar Energy Forum is scheduled for 5-6 July in Manila, Philippines. The ADB says it provided nearly $1.3 billion for projects with clean energy aspects, exceeding its $1 billion target for the second year in a row. Starting in 2013, this target will increase to $2 billion a year. ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

Power plan unplugged $700m geothermal bid misses grants

Hobart Mercury
Saturday 1/5/2010 Page: 5

A $700 MILLION Tasmanian renewable energy project has been shelved after failing for a second time to secure Federal Government funding. KUTh Energy's planned geothermal power stations at Fingal in the North-East and in the Midlands were believed to have the potential to supply 25% of Tasmania's electricity needs. KUTh Energy managing director David McDonald said the company would refocus its attention on other geothermal projects in Vanuatu and forget about Tasmania for now.

The company missed out on the Federal Government's first round of $150 million funding grants in November and recently discovered there was no money left in the second round of $35 million, which went to five other companies. The Federal Government has handed out grants worth nearly $290 million for geothermal exploration since 2002 but Tasmania got the smallest share - just $1.8 million, or 0.6% of the total funding. Exploration suggests Tasmania sits on a huge source of geothermal or hot-rock energy.

Mr McDonald said the Fingal and Midlands projects were ready for drilling and investors were waiting to get involved. The next step was to drill the Skin-deep holes needed for a commercial trial but the $35 million needed for that process would be almost impossible to raise through private investors alone, he said. "We do not want any government to fund the entire project, this is simply a helping hand to get things rolling." Mr McDonald said.

His company finished drilling 36 pilot holes late last year in an exploration tenement that stretches from the mouth of the Tamar River to Hobart. He said drillers struck hot granite which would be perfect for generating power. The geothermal process involves heating water deep underground and using its steam to drive turbines. "We would be able to produce 280MWs a year over a 30-year period," Mr McDonald said. "That's 25% of Tasmania's energy requirement."

The funding setback comes on top of the $400 million dollar Musselroe wind farm hanging in the balance after the scrapping of the Federal Government's push for an emissions trading scheme. Tasmanian Greens energy spokesman King Booth said governments around the world owed it to the next generation to stop squabbling over old energy technologies and ensure proper investment was made in renewable projects. Liberal alternative energy spokesman Matt Groom said talk by Premier David Bartlett to make Tasmania the hub of renewable energy in the country had amounted to nothing.