Friday 2 July 2010

Europe to switch on Saharan solar power by 2015
Jun 27, 2010

There are probably easier ways to meet Europe's thirst for clean energy than importing it from vast solar farms in the Sahara. But it is very tempting. According to the European commission's Institute for Energy, it would require the capture of just 0.3% of the light falling on the Sahara and Middle Eastern deserts (an area around the size of Wales) to meet all of Europe's energy needs.

Several groups have come up with plans to harness the sun in Africa to make electricity, which could then be exported to Europe, or use it to turn desert into forests by using the power to desalinate sea water. And how far is this from a reality? In a recent interview, European energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger said that Europe will be importing hundreds of megawatts of solar-generated electricity from north Africa within five years. The EU is committed to sourcing 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Most advanced in the planning is the German-led Desertec Foundation Industrial Initiative, which aims to provide 15% of Europe's electricity by 2050 or earlier, via power lines stretching across the desert and the Mediterranean. Its $400bn plan is supported by some of Germany's biggest companies, including Siemens, E.ON and Deutsche Bank.

And there is a precedent. Nine EU governments - including the UK - are already planning to build an advanced high-voltage, direct current network within the next decade. Europe's first electricity grid dedicated to renewable power took a step forward earlier this year when nine countries began to formalise plans to link their clean energy projects around the North Sea. These could join up the wind-lashed north coast of Scotland with Germany's vast array of solar panels and Norway's hydro-electric dams.

As well as providing more power, a transnational renewable electricity grid would help sort out the intermittencies associated with natural energy sources. With such a grid, electricity can be supplied across the continent from wherever the wind is blowing, the sun is shining or the waves are crashing.

China to Shut Down 10 Million Kilowatts of Small Power Units, Daily Says
Jun 27, 2010

China will shut down small thermal power units totaling 10 millionkWs (10,000MW) in capacity this year, said Nanfang Daily, citing unnamed officials at the National Energy Administration. The closure is part of a government plan to improve fuel efficiency, according to the report. China has closed small thermal power units with a combined capacity of 64.17 millionkWs since 2006, it said, without saying whether the plants were fired by coal or oil. The world's second-biggest fuel user cut its energy use per unit of gross domestic product by 14.38% between 2006 and 2009, and plans to reduce consumption by 20 percent in the five years to 2010.

Solar project looks for bright partner

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 29/6/2010 Page: 41

GEOTHERMAL company Petratherm is seeking joint venture partners for its solar thermal project, Heliotherm. The South Australian-based company announced yesterday that the project had proceeded to the second round for the Australian Solar Institute's $93 million grant program. Heliotherm is 100% owned by Petratherm, which has entered an exclusive agreement with the University of Adelaide to develop and commercialise the technology.

Using gas, geothermal and solar technologies, the project aims to cut the cost of solar thermal technology by up to 40%. Petratherm managing director Terry Kallis said he was confident of securing a $5 million grant from the ASI to help advance the project. "We are very excited about this because it is really a solar thermal project, not a geothermal project, and it is something that can be applied quite widely," Mr Kallis said.

The $5 million would be used towards setting up a laboratory at the university's Thebarton campus to test the project technology. Mr Kallis said Heliotherm would have the exclusive licence to commercialise the intellectual property of the project, making it an attractive joint venture proposition for energy retailers. "As part of developing the Heliotherm technology, we will be looking at two key players in addition to the university and ourselves," he said.

"One of them will be a technology partner, someone who has worked in solar technology, and the second is we are happy to talk to energy companies that may want to joint venture into our exciting development. There will be many projects it (the technology) can be applied to, not just our project, and at the end of the day unless we have a larger partner it makes it difficult to fund."

"For the energy joint venture partner, it also gives them a hedge against other alternative technologies that they have to have as part of their RET (renewable energy target) obligations." He said the $5 million grant it is seeking and a $1.5 million grant it has already secured would need to be matched in cash or kind by both Petratherm and the university. Meanwhile, Petratherm has welcomed changes to the RET scheme passed by the Senate last Thursday. Mr Kallis said the changes would provide greater investment certainty for the renewable energy sector.

New state wind farm step closer

Hobart Mercury
Saturday 26/6/2010 Page: 13

TASMANIA'S biggest wind farm has moved a step closer to construction with US power company NP Power starting the public consultation phase of its $500 million proposal. The Cattle Hill wind farm, near Lake Echo in the central highlands, will be the first privately owned wind farm in the state. It will generate enough electricity to power 60.000 homes through 100 turbines, which will feed power into the Tasmanian grid through Waddamana power station. The NP Power proposal comes as Tasmania watches other private investments stall or slip away.

Gunns Limited's proposed pulp mill is still not financed, development on the Musselroe wind farm has stalled and canal developments like Walker Corporation's Ralphs Bay proposal are out of favour and off the drawing board. The Tasmanian public has 42 days to comment on the proposal. "We expect the public consultation process to bring out some issues, but are confident they're either concerns that we've already mitigated or something we can take care of fairly quickly." NP Power's Shane Bartel said yesterday.

TCCI chief executive Robert Wallace said the US power company's investment was welcome and needed. "We certainly encourage private investment in this state, particularly in the area of renewable energy," Mr Wallace said yesterday. NP Power hopes to get Tasmanian Government approval for its Central Highlands development by the end of the year. The wind farm, which will boast 125-metre high turbines, will take between 18 months and two years to build and up to 75 workers will be on site during construction.

The wind farm will then operate automatically with a staff of 10. NP Power said it recognised the wind farm's impact on the endangered Wedge-Tailed Eagle and other birds was a major concern. There are three known nests within the proposed wind farm area. One is active. No turbines will be placed within a 1km radius of any nests.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Wind farm go-ahead as energy laws pass

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 25/6/2010 Page: 76

AGL Energy plans to fast-track its Macarthur wind farm project in southwestern Victoria, following changes to the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme approved by the Senate. The Government's changes provided greater investment certainty for the renewable industry, AGL Energy said yesterday. The RET is designed to ensure 20% of Australia's electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2020.

The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill has split the RET into two parts from January 1 next year. A Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) covers projects such as wind farms, commercial solar and geothermal. A Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) provides a set level of support for small-scale technologies such as solar panels and solar hot-water systems.

"The Renewable Energy Target enhancements passed by the Parliament will provide a clear benefit to large-scale renewable energy projects and households wanting to play their part in tackling climate change," Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said the reforms would unlock more than $20 billion in investment in major generation projects, while creating a stable growth path for householdscale technologies. The Bill passed the Senate on Wednesday night and now returns to the Lower House.

AGL Energy managing director Michael Fraser said it would give industry the certainty to make long-term investment decisions such as the Macarthur wind farm. "With our joint venture partner Meridian Energy, AGL Energy plans to fast track the final approvals for the development of the Macarthur wind farm which, when completed, will be one of the largest in the southern hemisphere," he said. The Macarthur wind farm will have a generating capacity of 450MW, enough to power about 250,000 households.

As well as splitting the target into large and small systems, several amendments were passed. A mechanism was introduced so that if a glut of renewable energy certificates are created from small sources in the next six months, targets can be tweaked in the short term to retain demand and therefore investment certainty. The Climate Change Minister will be given independent advice on pricing of renewable energy certificates from small-scale sources. The Government will consult on regulations about the effect of changes in solar panel costs.

The Opposition successfully moved an amendment so that only small electric heat pumps - of less than 425 litres - can attract certificates. The Greens failed to stop certificates being issued for power generated from burning native forest timber with Greens Leader Bob Brown accusing Senator Wong of supporting forest destruction. Senator Wong said only genuine waste from sustainable forestry operations would be eligible.

Two firms win energy funding

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 26/6/2010 Page: 51

A SOLAR facade and thermographic survey will help two Adelaide companies cut the city's greenhouse gas emissions. Tamrae Pty Ltd andMWQ Properties Pty Ltd have been awarded a share of $270,000 in the State Government's $2 million Building Innovation Fund. Tamrae will reduce its building's energy consumption by 25% by creating a frontage carrying solar panels and translucent PV cells to generate power.MWQ Properties will use a thermographic survey to determine where heat is escaping from its building to development strategies to improve efficiency.

Electricians angry over solar rules

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 24/6/2010 Page: 8

ELECTRICIANS have waded into a stoush with an industry group, the Clean Energy Council, over who has the right to control the installation of solar panels. Changes the federal government has made to the solar installer accreditation process mean the responsibility for checking the safety of solar panels has passed from the Clean Energy Council to state energy regulators.

But electricians must still pay the council $660, rising to $880 after 18 months, for permission to install the panels. The council maintains it plays a vital role in policing the safety of the scheme. But the Electrical Trades Union accused the group of making money for nothing and entangling electricians in red tape. "The council represents no one and largely comprises academics and consultants who simply seek to attain a revenue stream from the take-up of new technology," said the assistant national secretary, John Ingrain.

"This kind of ticket clipping is a brake on economic activity and, more significantly, acts to retard greenhouse gas abatement via the take-up of new technology." The council's policy director, Russell Marsh, said in a statement the fee covered administration and inspection costs and helped fund a consumer handbook. On Monday the government said it had tightened the guidelines for installing solar panels.

Energy disclosure in new law

Canberra Times
Wednesday 23/6/2010 Page: 17

Office block owners will have to disclose their building's energy efficiency to buyers or lessees under draft laws passed by the lower house yesterday. The Government is trying to get owners of big commercial office buildings to release energy efficiency ratings before selling or leasing them. The legislation, if passed by the Senate, would apply to buildings of 2000sgm or more, as well as head tenants intending to sub-lease space.

Junior Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the changes were the first step to transforming the market into a truly energy efficient sector. But he conceded such radical change was bound to cause some concern and promised stakeholders would get a voice in working out how to implement and improve the scheme. The Government would provide appropriate transitional arrangements in the meantime,

Mr Combet said. Under the changes, interested parties could demand a full building energy efficiency certificate, which follows similar schemes in the European Union and the United States. Energy efficiency was one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said. The Opposition did not oppose the Building Energy Efficiency Disclose Bill 2010, although former environment minister and Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull noted it was not a solution "in and of itself'. It must be part of a bigger move to improve energy efficiency across the board, he told Parliament.

Alaska utility says wind farm power cheaper

FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- The Golden Valley Electric Association says a wind farm near Healy could prevent increases in customer rates because it would likely produce cheaper power than wholesale prices the utility pays. The proposed $93 million Eva Creek wind farm would be the largest in the state and could produce power for a full cent less than Golden Valley's current wholesale price, which is about 10.6 cents perkW-hour. Kate Lamal, a vice president for the utility, said Tuesday during a presentation on plans for the wind farm that it should be able to deliver 9MWs of power.

Lamal also said years of data on wind patterns are strong enough to secure loans and a $2 million renewable-energy grant from the state has paid for studies of road access, bird migration patterns and integration with Golden Valley's existing energy portfolio. She said the utility plans to solicit bids to present to the board of directors this fall. Approval would let engineering advance this winter, road and foundation construction begin next summer, and turbine installation follow in 2012.

Joe Blanchard, a Borough Assembly member, said after the presentation that he supports the Eva Creek project while still considering himself among those who feel the state will fail to meet the Legislature's green energy goals without investing in a large hydroelectric dam. In April, the Legislature chose to set a target that Alaska will get 50% of its electricity from renewable and alternative sources within 15 years. "But I think this is a good start," Blanchard said. Kat Keith, an applied wind diesel specialist at the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, said interest in wind power in Alaska is growing. The state hosts 19 wind projects; that number could grow to 25 or more in 2011, she said.

Pickens: Americans ready for 10-year energy plan

DALLAS -- Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens said Americans are ready for the challenge if President Barack Obama will commit to a 10-year plan to reduce U.S, dependence on foreign oil. Pickens said Tuesday he believes the U.S, has enough natural gas reserves to "replace dirty foreign oil." Speaking at the Sustainable Innovation Summit in Dallas, Pickens reiterated his belief that wind and solar power also are keys to energy independence. The Texas oilman said nothing has happened in the two years since Obama pledged to implement a 10-year plan for exploring alternative energy sources.

Pickens also criticised the U.S, for being behind China in trying to solve energy problems. "America has never had a plan," Pickens said. "They have a plan to solve their problem, we don't." Pickens said the money that would be saved by using the alternative energy he proposes would far outweigh any initial costs. His plan includes creating new jobs from expanding on the wind and solar power industry, providing incentives for homeowners and commercial building owners to upgrade their insulation and other energy saving options and to use the country's natural gas reserves to replace imported oil as fuel until another more viable option is available.

Pickens does not think using natural gas reserves is a permanent solution. He said it is a bridge to help buy the U.S, time to further develop alternative strategies for fuel. "We can save two and a half million barrels of fuel a day by changing 18-wheelers to natural gas," Pickens said. Switching to natural gas would also help the U.S, keep more of the $350 to $430 billion spent on imported oil every year, Pickens said. In January, Pickens bought about 300 wind turbines -- less than half of what he planned to order to build the world's largest wind farm in Texas. The wind farm initially called for 687 turbines.

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Deal reached on renewable energy scheme

Wednesday 23/6/2010 Page: 5

Projects such as wind farms and solar power plants are set for a boost after the federal government, the Coalition and Greens struck a deal to fix Australia's renewable energy scheme. Flaws in the original design of the target - meant to ensure 20% renewable energy production by 2020 - favoured small-scale technology such as rooftop solar panels, putting billions of dollars in investment in large-scale clean projects at risk. This resulted in changes that ensure 18% of Australia's energy will come from largescale renewables by 2020.

Household products such as rooftop solar panels will be left uncapped under the target, meaning Australia could potentially exceed the 20% target. But under a deal reached yesterday, reviews will be put in place that could mean households will get less money from the government to install solar panels in an attempt to limit the amount of renewable energy generated by small-scale renewables under the target.

Those reviews include potentially lowering the fixed price of renewable energy credits generated by solar panels and hot water systems - currently $40 - and giving households less credits than currently offered for their renewable energy generation. The changes to household compensation will not come in immediately and were made because of fears the rocketing uptake of household renewables would again crash the price of certificates for large-scale projects and impose extra costs on big business.

The changes to the renewable energy target is expected to pass the Senate today, with a number of additional amendments from the opposition and Greens also up for voting. The renewable energy deal comes as environment group Beyond Zero Emissions and University of Melbourne's Energy Institute released joint research showing Australia could generate all of its electricity through renewables by 2020. Under the 100% renewable energy plan, Australia would be powered by 60% base-load solar thermal plants with storage capacity and 40% wind power. Hydro and biomass electricity would be used as backup. It is estimated the plan would cost $37 billion a year in public and private funding.

Kenya Starts Generation at New 35-Megawatt Geothermal Plant
June 22, 2010

June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya Electricity Generating Co., the country's largest power producer, started producing power today at a 35MW geothermal power plant. KenGen, as the state-owned company is known, will add a further 350MWs of geothermal capacity by 2013, Managing Director Eddy Njoroge said in an e-mailed statement. "Our increased investment in geothermal power production is also in line with KenGen's business strategy of reducing reliance on hydro power which is dependent on weather patterns, and to pursue green energy sources which are safe to the environment," Njoroge said.

The new plant at Olkaria, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Nairobi, was co-financed by the European Investment Bank, which provided $40.8 million, the International Development Association and the French Development Agency. The three financiers have already pledged to provide funding for construction of another 280MW power project in Olkaria.

Vietnam plans 8 nuclear power plants by 2030
June 22, 2010

Vietnam has announced plans to build eight nuclear power plants by 2030 as the Southeast Asian country strives to meet rising energy demand. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved eight nuclear facilities, each with at least four reactors, to be built in central Vietnam with the total output of 15,000MWs to 16,000MWs over the next two decades, the government said on its Web site Wednesday. The plan calls for "safe and efficient exploitation of nuclear power plants" and a gradual increase in Vietnamese companies participating in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the plants.

The government said nuclear power would become one of the country's major energy sources by 2030. Currently, hydro power contributes more than a third of the country's energy output. In November, Vietnam's National Assembly approved the construction of two nuclear power plants in the central province of Ninh Thuan. Last year, Vietnam signed a deal with Russia under which a Russian firm will help build the first plant. Construction is to start in 2014 and be completed in 2020.

Construction of the two plants with the total capacity of 4,000MWs is expected to cost $11 billion. Vietnam's demand for power is expected to grow by 16% a year until 2015, according to government projections, and the country's booming economy has made it difficult for supply to keep pace with demand.

New funding wave for Edinburgh energy firm
21 June 2010

An Edinburgh-based firm which is seeking to build the world's first commercial wave farm has raised £6m in its latest round of fundraising. Aquamarine Power said the money would facilitate the next phase of development of a new wave energy device, known as Oyster. Oyster 1 has been undergoing sea trials at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney since last November. Aquamarine plans to deploy its new Oyster 2 device next summer.

The company, which is seeking a total of £50m of investment, said the latest round of funding had brought the total raised so far in equity to £30m. Aquamarine has won the rights to develop the Brough Head wave farm off the coast of Scotland, which at 200MW could provide enough energy for about 190,000 homes. It plans to develop up to 1,000MW of marine energy sites by 2020 in partnership with utility SSE Renewables.

'More powerful'
Martin McAdam, chief executive of Aquamarine Power, said: "The additional fundraising enables us to progress to the next phase - the manufacture and installation of Oyster 2 - and we will announce the award of these contracts shortly." The Oyster wave energyed generator is a hinged flap connected to the sea-bed, with each wave moving the flap to drive a hydraulic piston, delivering high-pressure water to an onshore turbine.

It is designed for use in water close to the shore, and up to 12 metres in depth. The company said Oyster 2 would deliver 250% more power than the original device, with only a 50% increase in footprint. "Aquamarine Power has made substantial progress over the last 12 months," Mr McAdam said. "Our current Oyster device has performed well during sea trials surviving the harshest winter seas off the coast of Orkney and the data we have gathered from it has enabled us to design a much more powerful Oyster 2."

10 states, U.S. sign pact on wind energy
June 20, 2010

While plans for offshore drilling are on ice, the governors of 10 states - including Virginia and North Carolina - and US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a deal to create an Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium. The group intends to promote the development of wind resources on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf -- a first step toward broader coordination among the Atlantic states and federal agencies. Salazar also announced Tuesday a new Virginia-based regional renewable energy office to coordinate and speed up the development of renewable energy resources on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, including wind and solar.

"It's imperative that we develop all of our domestic energy sources including wind, solar, biomass, nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement. "Our deepwater port, relatively shallow offshore waters, and offshore wind speeds give us the ability to move quickly to harness wind power and bring it to market."

While McDonnell includes wind as one of the energy sources he wants to pursue off Virginia's coast, the administration was pushing hard to drill for oil and natural gas offshore. Virginia was first in line on the East Coast to begin offshore oil exploration, but the Obama administration halted those plans following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The governor has said that he wants to see a faster permit process for approval of wind power applications and attention to the costs associated. Both are among the consortium's considerations in its quest to create regional strategies and recommendations to facilitate the development of offshore wind resources. The group will also review investment and infrastructure, data and science, and the regulatory and permitting process. Funding for any activities will be subject to funds and staff available, according to the memorandum, but participants will "pursue sufficient resources" to ensure the objectives of the agreement are achieved.

Salazar said several wind power projects have been proposed for the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, positioning the region to tap into the potential of wind power and any jobs that it creates. "Renewable energy resources hold great economic promise," Salazar said. "By one estimate, if our nation fully pursues its potential for wind power on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20% of our electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million jobs in the process."

Participants are expected within 30 days to develop the action plan setting forth priorities, initial goals and specific recommendations. The governors of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire also signed the memorandum of understanding.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Solar, wind, power may meet 2020 energy use

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 22/6/2010 Page: 8

A MASSIVE introduction of solar thermal power plants and wind farms would allow Australia to generate all its energy needs from renewable technologies by 2020, research shows. The report, to be announced today by the retiring Liberal Victorian senator Judith Troeth, the Greens senator Christine Milne and the Independent Nick Xenophon, finds a 100% renewable plan by 2020 would cost $37 billion a year, in public and private money - or 3% of Gross Domestic Product.

The report is the result of a research collaboration between an environment group, Beyond Zero Emissions, and University of Melbourne's Energy Research Institute, with input from engineering firm Sinclair Knight Merz. Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan analyses the best technical approach to reach 100% renewable energy production by 2020. Beyond Zero Emissions director, Matthew Wright, said yesterday the report only included commercially proven technologies, and therefore did not consider geothermal or wave power.

Under the plan 60% of energy would come from base load solar thermal plants built at 12 sites. The other 40% would be generated by wind energy, with 8000 sixMW turbines at 23 sites. Where wind and solar thermal does not meet demand during peak times, the report recommends hydro and biomass technologies be used as a backup. The plan generates 325TW hours of electricity a year, up from the current generation of 228TW hours, to meet energy growth projections to 2020. It is based on the assumption that energy use will halve by 2020 through energy-efficiency measures. A $92 billion upgrade of the energy grid to help connect renewable projects to the grid and better regulate peak demand would also be needed.

The proposed grid upgrade includes linking the country's three energy grids to form one national grid. Senator Troeth - one of two Liberal Senators who crossed the floor to support the government's now-shelved emissions trading scheme - said it was necessary to explore all parts of the "renewable energy jigsaw." "It [the report] looks at the future sources of renewable energy we will have to embrace one of these days," she said. Senator Troeth also said the government's decision to put the emissions trading scheme off until at least 2013 was "depressing" and she called for a "reasonable" trading scheme to be established immediately.

GE Energy bets big on Kenya’s promising wind power sector
June 21 2010

Kenya could soon tap more into its huge wind energy potential if ongoing feasibility studies turn out successful. All then seems set fair for a multimillion dollar infrastructure spending spree in wind energy in the region. These prospects are already attracting some of the world's most powerful corporations as the renewal energy sector gets more prominence globally.

Among the firms involved in the studies is General Electric, a leading global player in the energy infrastructure sector. Country chief executive George Ndegwa said the firm was evaluating proposals from developers, collecting data and formulating projects. "Kenya boasts of good regimes and the best areas to site a wind power plant include Malindi, Lamu, Marsabit, Isiolo, Ngong and parts of the Rift Valley," Mr Ndegwa said.

Statistics from the Kenya Power and Lighting Company indicate that wind energy constitutes about 20% of the 1699MWs additional power that Kenya is working towards injecting into the national grid, over the next five years. The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is the largest of the three wind power plants that are expected to roar into life in the next two years, churning out 365MWs of electricity. Already, studies on Lake Turkana have been completed and the process of finalising a financing mechanism has begun, to pave the way for the construction of the first phase of the project.

The chairman of the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project Carlo van Wageningen said Kenya has unique wind resources. "The amount of energy that can be generated from one turbine is double what can be produced from a similar turbine in Europe," said Mr van Wageningen. The agreed upon tariffs between the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project and KPLC for the power that will be generated is 43% cheaper than the current average cost of power mix from other generators. The other wind power projects are a 15MW plant by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) in Ngong and a 50MW plant by Aeolus in Kinangop.

Recently, Gitson Energy, which had not been factored into earlier projections for future energy generation, announced it had secured funding for a 300MW project But despite the interest in wind power, experts say that like other forms of renewable energy, it is not necessarily more economical and cheaper to generate than hydropower that is widely used in East Africa. "But in the long term unit cost will become cheap," said Mr Ndegwa. The high cost of initial capital goes into preliminary studies, installations and regular maintenance of the wind power plants.

In order to gauge possible energy yields, measurements of wind speeds, turbulence and humidity levels are collected over periods of up to three years, at heights of over 40 metres. The General Electric Energy boss said that while the Meteorological Department collects data on the wind, it is not sufficient to assess the potential and make an investment decision since it is confined to the low heights of its masts between 10 and 20 metres, hence the need for further studies. Other considerations that are made before setting up wind plants are proximity to settlements -- since the noise levels could disturb people if situated near residential areas -- and its impact on migratory birds, which could be killed by the blades of the wind mills.

Among the government strategies in place to encourage investment in the sector are reviewing feed in tariffs defined in stable currencies such as the US dollar, and establishing transmission lines. Mr Ndegwa said this will attract international investors since risks are minimised. Apart from South Africa, only Kenya has a feed in tariffs for the various forms of renewable energy projects. The reviewed tariffs offer 12 US cents for every unit of electricity from windmills of up to 50MWs. The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd has also announced plans to construct a transmission line stretching from Marsabit through Lake Turkana, Suswa to Isinya.

Wong lifts the bar for installers

Courier Mail
Tuesday 22/6/2010 Page: 12

COMPANIES wanting to install solar panels will face tougher safety regulations after concerns about shoddy installations in Queensland. Amid concerns substandard operators were flooding the industry on the back of government subsidies, The Courier-Mail raised a series of issues regarding solar photovoltaic panels on June 2. Yesterday Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Minister Penny Wong released a range of tougher safety and compliance requirements for installers benefiting from government rebates.

To receive rebates installers must now:
  • Comply with state and territory regulations for siting panels - including mountings and connections.
  • Be both Clean Energy Council accredited and licensed electricians, except for some remote, non-grid connections.
  • Document how they met the requirements.

ETS delay prelude to Shell dispute

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Monday 21/6/2010 Page: 18

Royal Dutch Shell's refusal to commit to specific measures to minimise greenhouse gas emissions has put its bid to secure environmental approval for its Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) project off WA into jeopardy. The office of Environment Minister Peter Garrett was due to place a ruling on the $5.7 billion project by April 30, although that has been extended until this Friday amid difficulty between Shell and the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Australia's emissions trading scheme lies at the core of the issue, casting uncertainty over the regulatory framework that will be in place to offset the emissions when LNG production begins at Prelude in six years.