Friday 13 August 2010

Norwegian company designs giant 10MW wind turbine
August 9, 2010

A majority of the wind farms in the United States use 2.5MW wind turbines, and recent technology has introduced even larger turbines at 5MWs. Europe, on the other hand, is racing ahead of the game with the largest wind turbine yet - 10MWs. And it may be changing the way wind turbines are designed altogether.

Europe has seen a lot of advantages to building larger wind turbines, such as avoiding environmental issues by using larger turbines in deeper waters. There is less of a risk of encountering environmental problems the further offshore the turbines are located. Europe seems to build larger turbines as the water grows deeper, as well. Another advantage to building larger turbines is the cost. The cost perMW decreases as the the size of the wind turbine increases, which is a helpful advantage when building a wind turbine that is equivalent to a 30 story building in size.

The 533 foot tall wind turbine was designed by Sway, a Norwegian turbine developer, and will have 476 foot long blades. Sway has been working on the design since 2004, but the company is not working on Europe's largest turbine alone. It is partnering with Norwegian state utility Enova and UK-based Clipper Marine to bring the 10MW monster turbine to life. The giant turbine certainly dwarfs the 2.5MW and the newer 5MW turbines being used now. In fact, it is so large that it requires a whole new offshore wind design.

The new design does not attach the wind turbine to the sea floor like smaller models. This 10MW turbine, while giant in size, will be lightweight enough to "sway" around a fixed base and float in the ocean. It also has the ability to swivel on this base to produce energy when the direction of the wind changes.

"This is pioneering stuff", he said Feargal Brennan, head of offshore, process and energy engineering at Cranfield University. "I believe 10MW turbines are right on the limit of our knowledge; they may even prove to be over the limit. We may find that they work for several years and then start to develop problems. Will 10MW turbines still be working after 10, 15, 20 years of operation?"

In an attempt to answer that question, developers will use a smaller turbine to test the fixed base design. This "smaller" turbine will be 5MWs, which is still large in terms of what is being used today. If the test proves that this new system will work for the larger 10MW wind turbine, this could be a new beginning for offshore wind power. These systems would be far enough off shore to where they would not be noticed from land, send electricity to land through cable lines at the sea floor, just like internet cables.

While Sway, Clipper Marine and Enova are on their way with this development, they're not the only ones. According to other reports. British company Wind Power Limited has recently exposed the details its new 10MW offshore wind generator, called Aerogenerator X. This unit is expected to reach completion by 2013 or 2014, and will generate enough electricity for 5,000 - 10,000 homes.

Stick-on film could mean cheaper, better solar power
6 August 2010

A stick-on photovoltaic film developed by SolOptics can improve solar panel efficiency rates by over 12%, thereby reducing the cost of solar power for the consumer. The US Department of Energy confirmed the products' effectiveness on August 2. Groundbreaking technology for improving the performance of solar panels has been developed by SolOptics, a division of Genie Lens Technology Group, a leading specialist in applied innovative optics.

SolOptics announced on August 2 that the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) confirmed that SolOptics' recently developed FUSION technology can improve the energy conversion efficiency of both new and existing photovoltaic (PV) panels by up to 12.5%.

The FUSION product is constructed using thin film polymer technology onto which microstructures are embossed; these microstructures provide increased light absorption and anti-reflective coatings. The thin film can be applied to PV cells much like a sticker, generating increased amounts of solar power even in poor weather conditions.

Increased energy conversion efficiency in PV cells would not only improve performance, but also reduce costs for the consumer. Therefore making house-mounted solar panels a more feasible and cheaper source of electricity. The film developed by SolOptics is attracting critical acclaim amongst solar technology professionals as it can be applied by householders themselves, which allows them to avoid the costly installation fees normally associated with solar technology.

SolOptics is expected to license the product to a large manufacturer, but no further details or expected retail prices could be confirmed. Research and development of products which increase PV energy conversion efficiency is a highly competitive and rapidly evolving field. In June solar panel manufacturer JA Solar announced it was collaborating with Silicon Valley startup Innovalight to develop cells which achieve higher energy efficiency rates through use of a 'silicon crystalline ink.'

Xcel hails Minnesota wind-to-battery test - Utility considers Colorado solar-storage project
August 3, 2010

Apparently, you can charge a sodium-sulfur battery with energy from the wind and then draw on that battery power to charge an electricity grid. Those, at least, are the preliminary results that Xcel Energy released Tuesday from its wind-to-battery storage project in southwest Minnesota. In other words, so far, the renewable-energy-related technology works.

The Achilles heel of renewable energy like wind and solar is that it's cyclical-stronger at different times during a 24-hour period. So, utilities like Xcel Energy are investing in finding ways to store renewable energy so that it can be used constantly, like coal-fired power. In October 2008, Xcel Energy began testing battery-storage technology to demonstrate its ability to store wind power, then draw on the battery power to supply the electricity grid when needed-its first use of the technology in the U.S, for direct wind-energy storage. "We have proved that this technology can perform the functions of storage that we were looking for to help us manage the variability of wind power on our operating system", said Frank Novachek, Xcel Energy's director of corporate planning.

Novachek said Xcel Energy executives are "greatly encouraged" by the results of the wind-to-battery storage test. Preliminary results indicate that the battery can shift wind power from off-peak generation to peak battery power availability; reduce the need to compensate for the variable nature of wind power generation; support the transmission grid system by providing voltage support; and responding instantly to real-time imbalances between electric generation and available power load.

Xcel Energy's test project has been conducted near Luverne in southwestern Minnesota, with power from the nearby 11-MW wind farm owned by Minwind Energy LLC. The wind farm charges a total of twenty 50-kW battery modules that, combined, are roughly the size of two semi-truck trailers and weigh 80 tons. The battery, which Xcel Energy purchased from Tokyo-based NGK Insulators Ltd., now enters a Phase II period of testing to determine the technology's chemical makeup and measure the economic potential of selling battery power for the electrical grid.

Novachek said the chemical testing, which will be conducted by University of Minnesota staff, will help determine the number of charging cycles the battery is capable of delivering. NGK Insulators initially told Xcel Energy executives that the battery should be capable of 5,000 cycles, which, considering usage of the battery over the last year, would mean the sodium-sulfur cell would last about 15 years.

In addition to NGK, partners in the wind-to-battery project include Chicago-based S&C Electric, the University of Minnesota, the Golden. Colo.- based National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Minneapolis-based Great Plains Institute, Minwind Energy and Arlington. Va.-based Gridpoint Inc. Novachek said that Xcel Energy is considering a solar version of the Minnesota wind-to-battery test in Colorado just south of Denver International Airport.

That test, which could begin as soon as late 2010 or early in 2011, is designed to test the variability of solar power in Colorado. "The (solar) application is different because solar output can drop drastically", said Novachek. "We've observed a solar output drop from 100% to 20% within one minute". That means that any solar battery backup system must be ready to provide a quick burst of electricity to compensate during sharp power spikes caused by such non-dramatic events as a cloud drifting in front of the sun. The utility's testing of emerging technology and energy storage devices is part of its Smart Grid strategy, which upgrades the power grid and allows easier integration of renewable energy sources.

SunPower completes largest solar power tracking system in Australia
August 4, 2010

BELMONT, Western Australia, -- SunPower Corporation, a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, today announced it has completed a 505-kW solar power installation for Horizon Power, a government-owned utility providing power to remote and regional communities and resource operations in Western Australia.

The ground-mounted SunPower T20 Tracker installation is located on two sites, Marble Bar and Nullagine in the east Pilbara region of Western Australia, and was commissioned earlier this year. It is the largest solar tracking system in Australia, and powers the world's first high penetration, hybrid solar-diesel power stations. The power stations will generate approximately 1,048MW hours of solar power per year and will produce 60% to 90% of daily electricity needs. This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program and implemented by the Office of Energy in Western Australia.

"SunPower is proud to deliver Australia's first and largest T20 tracker installation, generating clean, renewable solar power for Horizon Power," said Bob Blakiston, managing director of SunPower Australia. "We also congratulate Horizon Power for being honoured by the Western Australia Sustainable Energy Association with the Outstanding Achievement in Excellence and Innovation Award for its insight in bringing solar power to regional and remote areas of the country."

The system utilises SunPower solar panels, the most efficient solar panels on the market today, with the SunPower T20 Tracker® system. The T20 Tracker follows the sun's movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 30% over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements. Worldwide, SunPower has more than 550MWs of solar power systems installed or under contract, including more than 200MWs of operational power plants in Europe.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Emissions standards lead to power station redesign

Friday 6/8/2010 Page: 5

THE company behind a proposed Latrobe Valley coal power station has been forced into a redesign after being warned it would not meet new greenhouse gas emissions standards. Dual Gas a subsidiary of Melbourne company HRL has withdrawn its application to build a long-delayed plant at Morwell that would use new gasification technology to cut emissions from brown coal. An HRL spokeswoman said it would resubmit the plan to the Environment Protection Authority once it had been adjusted to meet the limit for new power plants set in last week's state government climate change white paper.

Premier John Brumby announced a limit of 0.8 tonnes of CO2 perMW hour of energy generated. HRL estimates its plant would have average emissions between 0.78 and 0.89 tonnes perMW hour roughly equivalent to a modern black coal power plant. It is understood it may be able to meet the new standard by adjusting its design to use less synthetic gas derived from coal and more natural gas. Environment groups have called on Mr Brumby to intervene and block the plant to show he is serious about meeting his 20% cut in emissions target this decade.

The average emissions intensity of power stations in wealthy nations is 0.45 tonnes of gas perMW hour. Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Wayne Kayler-Thomson said developing new plants was vital to ensuring a secure energy supply. "Critics of cleaner coal want to have their cake and eat it too shutting down traditional brown coal plants... that supply 80% of the state's power, as well as their cleaner coal replacements", he said.

The withdrawn HRL proposal said the plant would have emissions up to 36% lower than existing brown coal plants. It said developing the gasification technology through a Morwell demonstration plant was important to giving brown coal power a future while reducing emissions. But environment groups said the plant's annual emissions up to 4.2 million tonnes would cancel out the pollution cut achieved under a government plan to shut a quarter of the Hazelwood brown coal station by 2014.

Cam Walker from Friends of the Earth said HREs proposal was a litmus test of whether the Brumby government deserved praise for its climate change policy. "They should indicate that the time of new coal-fired power stations in Victoria is over. We have other options", he said.

A breath of fresh Eyre?

Business Spectator
Wednesday 4/8/2010 Page: 1

The federal government has made much of its promised $1 billion injection into green grids to bring the country's mostly remote renewable energy sources to the doorstep. And they have received just as much publicity from being criticised for doing too little, too slowly. It may be, though, that some particularly rich areas of renewable resources do not need so much support in direct subsidies. All they need is a change in the rules, and for those changes to be made promptly.

A study into a possible green grid on the Eyre Peninsula by Macquarie Group, legal firm Baker and McKenzie and engineering firm WorleyParsons showed that a grid linking 2000MW of wind power and delivering it to the national grid at Port Augusta could be self-funding. The study estimates a new 500kV grid suitable for up to 2000MW of wind power would cost around $613 million. But such is the strength of the wind resource in the area that the investment could be funded by the developers themselves, at an ongoing annual cost of around $50 million.

Four wind developers - Origin Energy, Pacific Hydro, Acciona Energy and Transfield Services - have expressed an interest in the proposal. This approach would require that a raft of regulatory changes currently under discussion are passes, as expected, early next year. Principal among them is a mechanism known as Scale Efficient Network Extensions (SENE) which allows costs to be recovered from generators rather than having the sole burden on financing the project placed on a developer.

That changes the nature of the game somewhat and the Eyre Peninsula proposal is being touted as a potential model for future investments to modernise the nation's energy transmission infrastructure - a grid to unlock combined solar and geothermal provinces around Mount Isa or in the Pilbara come to mind.

The green grid proposal does require an upgrade of the shared network and the grid interconnector into Victoria, which would allow South Australia to export its excess wind resources. This would be decided by an economic test, but the backers are confident that the potential of unlocking nearly $6 billion in investment and creating 5,000 full-time jobs would be a powerful argument.

A more ambitious plan could seek to unlock a further 2000MW of Eyre Peninsula wind power, but this would require a new interconnector, most likely a HVDC line, into New South Wales. The advantage of this line, however, is that it could pick up some of the geothermal resources being developed in the Cooper Basin and elsewhere in the state.

There are other attractions for a green grid in a location such as the Eyre Peninsula. Apart from being an excellent wind resource, the area is sparsely populated, meaning less risk of a confrontation with local townships and farmers. Here, Australia has an advantage over the UK, for instance, which has virtually run out of land-based options for wind power expansion and is now proposing a massive government-funded investment to unlock offshore wind resource.

It would also help ensure Australia meets its 20% renewable energy target by 2020. This is an important consideration given that delays in legislation and the slump in the price of renewable energy certificates, along with difficulties in obtaining power purchase agreements, is putting the RET target at risk.

Grid games
What could be more fun for an energy boffin than to draw up - according to his or her own preference - their ideal energy grid in 2050? The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has offered just this opportunity as part of their 2050 Pathways program, which analyses different paths to achieve the government's target of an 80% in greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 from 1990 levels.

The analysis in the 2050 Pathways work presents a framework where people can consider the scale of change required and some of the choices and trade-offs that have to be made over the next 40 years. The analysis canvasses various levels of ambition - ranging from not much, to extreme - and half a dozen different pathways, the first canvassing an equivalent level of effort across renewables, nuclear, and fossil fuel power installations, along with carbon capture and storage, as well as bioenergy.

The other pathways canvass scenarios where CCS was not an option, if no nuclear plants were built, if only limited new renewable capacity was built, if there were limited supplies of bioenergy, and if there was little change in behaviour from consumers and businesses. The reference case assumes no efforts to decarbonise, and therefore no new technologies. It is not a good result, as it would leave the country extremely vulnerable to supply shocks. Its energy security would be minimal, the DECC says.

Interestingly, the DECC notes that although the primary rationale for moving to a low-carbon pathway is not to reduce energy costs, the analysis indicates that low-carbon energy generation can actually be less expensive than conventional energy generation under high fossil fuel price scenarios, and this did not take into account any carbon price.

Boffins can use the 2050 Pathways calculator tool, which allows users to explore different combinations and rates of change in various economic sectors to reach the target, all the while making sure that energy supply meets demand. It is, admittedly, a UK model, so you won't find much here on geothermal and you will see more emphasis on nuclear. But it is fascinating to explore, and wouldn't it be interesting if Australia produced a similar document? Where is that energy white paper?

Heat on double dippers - Electricity companies make extra claims for credits

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 4/8/2010 Page: 7

ELECTRICITY companies have been caught out trying to double dip into a government household energy efficiency scheme and using unlicensed workers in home insulation works. The companies are trying to claim for energy-saving work on households despite other companies already receiving government credit for the work. And the electricity watchdog, the Essential Service Commission of South Australia, has revealed some retailers used unlicensed workers to install home insulation under the scheme.

Under the State Government's Residential Energy Efficiency Scheme, electricity companies must perform audits on up to 4000 to 5000 households a year and provide discount energy-saving works like installing efficient light globes, shower heads, insulation and draught proofing. A review of the scheme's first year of operations by ESCOSA has found it is rejecting many claims for credit because of double-dipping.

Companies are blaming homeowners for not declaring that they have already had work done and say the Government is trying to make them responsible for compliance, but this was rejected by ESCOSA yesterday. "The question is who is the person best placed to manage the risks - and the answer to that is that it is the retailer rather than the householder", an ESCOSA spokesman said.

He said the commission would continue to enforce strict licensing and safety rules under the scheme. "The commission has rejected ceiling insulation activities where... (licence conditions have not been met)... and has notified relevant licensing authorities", he said. Energy Retailers Association of Australia executive director Cameron O'Reilly said retailers with little experience in the work were now responsible for much of the operation of the scheme. "The insurance policy of the scheme seems to be that we should know all the answers and the burden is put on us maybe to protect the scheme from being seen to be not running as well as it should be", he said.

Call for more flexible rules to help old buildings turn green

Monday 2/8/2010 Page: 7

A high-tech company has called for a less draconian, more flexible approach to "greening" old buildings to encourage small business to spend money on refurbishments. Managing director of mySmart Peter Garrett said the approach taken to date in Australia only applied to buildings with lettable space and space for sale of more than 2000 m². "That's a great start and it's been a long time coming, but in the US, they have mandatory reforms but also tax incentives on energy efficiency, regardless of size", he said.

The new Australian scheme mandates disclosure of a building's energy efficiency. A valid National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) energy rating will be required. Credible energy efficiency information must be given to prospective purchasers and lessees of large commercial office space. Failure to comply will incur severe penalties. Fellow mySmart director Scott Warren said NABERS was fine, "But is based on a stick approach, as if it's the only way". "However, a good business case can be made to drive energy efficiency", he said.

Their company has developed software that helps to regulate energy use in commercial buildings. The software, linked to the property management system, can determine whether a room is occupied or not, and then turn off the lights or air conditioners, or modify air conditioning, saving energy. Mr Garrett acknowledged that their comments were self-serving in that they supported a policy that could benefit mySmart. However, the approach applied to "many areas that we are not involved in - combined heat and water generation, cogeneration plant, wind turbines, or certain light fittings".

This was how the US approached the issue. "They have a greater reach than we have". Mr Garrett said what could be done would vary from industry to industry. "Rather than the onus on big commercial buildings, make the drive more widespread", he said. "There could be tax incentives to make small companies include energy efficiency as part of their business case. Look at all sectors of a building. There could be different tax incentives depending on the technology"

Mr Warren said some smaller companies had a self-imposed drive to be energy efficient. "After the initial investment, they get the payback, which becomes a good marketing tool. It makes sense to be deemed to be sustainable", he said. Mr Garrett said it was hard to say how much total office space was below 2000 m², but "it would be substantial".

Wednesday 11 August 2010

ACCC investigation shines a light on solar marketing

The clean energy industry today said an investigation by the government's consumer watchdog will see a change for the better in the marketing for solar power systems. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said measures to protect consumer confidence in the fast-growing solar industry were crucial to its long term success. "Australia's solar PV industry is maturing fast", Mr Warren said. "It is critical that the safety, reliability and performance of solar power systems meet the customer's expectations.

"As an industry we are continuing to tighten and improve the safety and reliability of solar installations. Along with the scrutiny already being applied to the products and installers, it's appropriate that the government watchdog is scrutinising advertising claims to ensure that they are credible".

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) raised concerns of misleading or deceptive advertising by two solar panel companies operating in Queensland. The ACCC found that advertising claims by Queensland Solar Systems and State Solar Services were likely to have breached the Trade Practices Act.

The advertising claimed installing a 1.5kW system could "wipe out" household energy bills, when in reality a system of this size would not be large enough to offset more than a third of energy consumption for most homes. It also claimed that the systems were available at heavily discounted prices, even though the products had never been sold at the higher prices advertised.

Mr Warren said both companies have voluntarily agreed to remove the advertising claims. "We will continue to build a competitive and dynamic solar industry in Australia where customers know what they are getting, get what they pay for, and the solar panels are installed safely and work safely", he said.

Delabole wind farm's tall turbines power more homes
2 August 2010

Turbines on the UK's first commercial wind farm in Cornwall are being taken down and replaced with fewer, but bigger ones. There are currently 1050m (164ft) turbines at the site which supply power to about 2,700 homes. The four new turbines will be nearly twice as tall - standing at 99m (325ft) to the tip of the blade. The total combined capacity of 9.2MW will be enough to supply nearly 8,000 homes with electricity.

'Home-grown energy'
Delabole wind farm was built by the Edwards family in 1991 as a greener alternative to plans for a nuclear power station in the area. Since 2002 it has been owned and operated by Good Energy, which is investing £11.8m to re-power it. The company's founder, Juliet Davenport, said: "Delabole is a fantastic example of home-grown energy. "By increasing its capacity we can contribute to Cornwall's renewable energy targets, increase price stability for Good Energy's own electricity supply business and take an essential step towards helping the UK achieve a 100% renewable future".

Irish innovator advances solar power technology
August 1, 2010

Innovalight have created a substance which will increase efficiency in 80% of the world's solar power market. Conrad Burke is the President and CEO of Innovalight, a silicon cell manufacturer, who has created "solar ink" a substance which will hugely boost the efficiency of solar cells. Though the "solar ink" might look like nothing more than maple syrup, the potion is based on nanotechnology.

This week the company signed a technology, research and production agreement with Chinese, solar manufacturers. Yingli Solar. Earlier this month JA Solar also signed an agreement to buy inks from Innovalight for the next three years. The innovative and hugely successful company has President and CEO Conrad Burke at its head. Burke who was born in Dublin has lived in the United States for over ten years and now runs this start up success story in Sunnyvale, California. He said: "I'm very excited about how things are coming along...We're in the right place at the right time with a technology that people need".

As in every business, efficiency is key, and of course with solar cells it is exactly the same although their efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight that is converted into electricity. By adding Innovalight's ink to the silicon cells their efficiency is increase immediately by one%, which is a huge amount when it comes to solar cell manufacturing.

Paula Mints, a solar expert and director of the Energy Practice at Navigant Consulting in Palo Alto explained. He said "The twin goals of this industry are lowering manufacturing costs while you increase efficiency...Efficiency goes directly to system costs, because it takes less space to get more electricity. Anything that keeps solar moving toward higher efficiency levels is big news".

Since 2005. Innovalight have been focusing exclusively on solar power and their work is constantly evolving and improving. So far the company, with 55 staff, has filed 60 patents. Recently the company raised $18 million in the fourth round of venture financing led by EDB Investments of Singapore. Innovalight was also given a grant by the Department of Energy in 2008. The $3 million grant is being used in the quest to make solar power cost-competitive by 2015.

China wind turbine maker plans $500 million U.S. listing: report
Aug 2, 2010

(Reuters) - Mingyang Electric, one of the five biggest wind power turbine suppliers in China, plans to raise $500 million in a share sale in the United States in September, in what could be the largest such listing by a Chinese company this year, IFR reported. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse Group AG and Morgan Stanley are working on the deal.

China is the world's largest market for wind turbines, and domestic wind equipment manufacturers such as Mingyang supply 80 percent of the market. China installed more than 13GWs of wind power generating capacity last year.

Mingyang's IPO plan follows the shelving in June of a $1.17 billion Hong Kong listing by Chinese wind equipment supplier Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co Ltd. The Shenzhen-listed company pulled the offering because of fragile investor sentiment in the wake of the European sovereign debt crisis and concern about overcapacity in the sector.

Sunday 8 August 2010

Keppel, SeaFox break new depths in the offshore wind energy sector
July 30, 2010

Keppel FELS Limited's (Keppel FELS) multi-purpose self-elevating platform (MPSEP) design has been chosen by the Seafox Group (Seafox) as the basis for a new-generation, wind turbine installation vessel that can withstand harsh offshore environmental conditions all year round in water depths of 65 meters in the North Sea.

Compared with existing wind turbine installation vessels, and the majority of those being constructed, this vessel can operate in some 45% deeper waters, while reducing downtime even in extreme storm conditions, thus providing a potentially longer operational window. With a large carrying capacity of up to 12 turbines at a time, it enhances the efficiency of constructing offshore wind farms. A 75/25 joint venture (JV) company has been formed between Keppel FELS and Seafox respectively, to build and own this US$220 million vessel. Seafox has the option of acquiring Keppel's stake in the JV company.

The KFELS MPSEP, designed by Keppel's R&D arm, Offshore Technology Development, has the distinctive ability over other existing vessels to install and maintain heavy wind turbine foundations, such as the jacket and tripod types, and especially in deeper waters. In addition to being well-suited for servicing offshore wind farms, it also meets all the stringent operating regulations of the offshore oil and gas industry and can support a wide range of related activities such as accommodation, well intervention, maintenance, construction and decommissioning.

Mr. Wong Kok Seng, Executive Director of Keppel FELS, said, "The offshore wind power market holds good potential for installation and maintenance vessels that can operate over long periods in deeper waters beyond 45 meters. The KFELS MPSEP will offer significant advantages in terms of safety, operations, time and cost to operators working in these harsh environments. By overcoming the typical limitations of the existing fleet in the market, this advanced vessel will redefine the way in which offshore wind farms are installed and maintained across the world."

The KFELS MPSEP vessel is scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2012, and will be managed and operated by Workfox BV, a member of the Seafox Group. Mr Keesjan Cordia, Managing Director of Seafox Contractors BV, added, "When completed, this ground-breaking vessel named SEAFOX 5, will address and overcome critical technical and safety challenges faced in the construction and maintenance of wind farms in deeper waters, and carve a critical niche for Seafox and Keppel.

"In developing and building this high value asset, it is an imperative for us to collaborate with the most reliable and experienced offshore partner for the job. Keppel FELS's proven design and construction expertise and commitment to on-time and within-budget delivery sealed our decision to partner them."

Combining Keppel's experience as the world's foremost rig designer and builder, and Seafox's deep insights as a leading provider of self-elevating accommodation and maintenance support units in the North Sea, the KFELS MPSEP is set to provide a highly versatile and cost-efficient solution for the offshore energy industry. "We have successfully developed and commercialised many proprietary concepts for the North Sea region and other challenging frontiers by partnering our trendsetting customers in the early stages of those projects.

"This new KFELS MPSEP is an example of how we have been able to leverage and apply our market knowledge and technology expertise innovatively for a variety of offshore applications. Moreover, in working with an experienced fleet owner and operating partner such as Seafox to launch our design, we will have a good head start in developing our track record as the choice solutions provider for the emerging offshore wind power sector," Mr Wong added.

The above project is not expected to have material impact on the net tangible assets or earnings per share of Keppel Corporation Limited for the current financial year.

Offshore wind energy industry potential
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has set a target to achieve 40GWs (GW) of offshore wind in the European Union by 2020, and 150GW by 2030.

Offshore winds tend to flow at greater speeds than onshore winds, thus allowing turbines to produce more electricity. Although a good majority of existing offshore wind farms are located in water depths less than 45 meters, those coming online are expected to move further offshore and into harsher environments such as the Central North Sea, where wind speeds are higher, constant and thereby requiring more robust solutions. There is also an increasing trend towards wind turbines with larger capacities which are heavier.

The UK expects to install some 8,000 offshore wind turbines in the next decade, to achieve the Round 3 offshore wind power goal of delivering 15% of the UK's electricity needs by 2020. Of these, it is estimated that some 2,700 turbines would be required at water depths greater than 45 meters. The KFELS MPSEP vessel is among the first on order worldwide that is capable of fulfilling this water-depth requirement.

Spain nearing accord with solar producers on reducing subsidies
Jul 31, 2010

The Spanish government and solar power producers almost reached an agreement on reducing subsidies to the industry before officials suspended talks to assess savings from a clampdown on fraud, according to a memo from industry representatives at the meeting.

A draft agreement forming the basis of the talks said subsidies for plants already operating would be lowered by 5% to 15% over the next three years, compensated by extra years of payments, the memo distributed to members of the Photovoltaic Industry Association said. "This is better than the industry was fearing and probably does mean there will be continued investor confidence in Spain and most project developers will be all right", Jenny Chase, lead solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said today.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government wants to keep a lid on electric costs by paring back a 2007 law granting above-market prices for clean-energy producers. Solar price cuts would hurt plant developers including Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA and Solaria Energia y Medio Ambiente SA.

A spokesman for the Industry Ministry didn't immediately respond to calls to his cell phone for comment. Before last night's meeting concluded on the brink of an accord, he said the government would insist on deeper rate cuts. Solaria, the Madrid-based solar panel maker and plant developer, rose as much as 2.2% today in Madrid trading and was at 1.62 euros at 5:15 p.m, local time.

Leaked Document
Under the plan, operators of existing plants could opt to receive 85% of the subsidy they already get in 2011 and 2012 and 95% in 2013. The subsidies, now due to run 25 years from 2007, would be extended four years beyond the current expiration date. A second option would offer operators a smaller price cut in the first two years without the extension.

Industry representatives and officials failed to reach agreement over these terms, prompting officials to defer a final decision to give them time to quantify savings from new measures to tackle fraud in the industry approved by the government today, the memo said. "It's encouraging", association secretary Enrique Alcor said in the memo. Still, "We don't know which of the elements covered in recent days will remain in place come September".

The draft also speaks of an option where developers could escape the temporary subsidy cuts by taking a cap on the number of hours their plants can earn above-market prices. Ground-mounted systems would have a cap of 1,075 to 1,529kW hours and plants with trackers would earn 1,515 to 2,154kW hours. The Industry Ministry spokesman said yesterday the government is pressing to make that provision mandatory.

Project Incentives
Incentives for projects not yet built would be reduced 45% for those mounted to the ground and 25% for ones on roofs. Representatives of another industry group, the Photovoltaic Business Association, painted a different picture of negotiations today at a press briefing in Madrid. "We don't understand the negotiating position of the ministry. We don't know what objectives they are pursuing", association chairman Juan Laso said. "All the measures that we have proposed have been rejected".

Solar plant operators have been pressing Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian to maintain the prices set out in the 2007 law since April, when officials said they may cut the rate paid to existing plants in addition to ones yet to be built. Funds including London-based HG Capital and Denmark's AP Pensions have argued that the government was reneging on its legal obligation to maintain the subsidies for 25 years.

10 Times
Spain's 52,000 photovoltaic-panel installations earn as much as 440 euros ($573) aMW-hour, or almost 10 times the futures price for 2011 power in the wholesale market.

The premium was set at that level to spur investment in renewable forms of energy. The Spanish Banking Association estimated domestic banks have loaned 40 billion euros to renewable-energy projects. Some 600 photovoltaic plant operators may face bankruptcy if the subsidies are slashed, the Photovoltaic Industry Association has said.

Solar plants claimed more than half the 5 billion euros in renewable-power subsidies paid by homes and businesses through their bills last year, while producing 11% of Spain's emission-free electricity. Sebastian told executives last month that he planned to cut 1 billion euros from the annual subsidies. Germany has also scrapped tax breaks for solar power, and Italy is working to eliminate a minimum price set for emission-free power.

Spain will pare some of the support its solar operators receive by clamping down on operators who cheated on paperwork to qualify for the highest rates, under a Royal Decree approved today by the government. Companies that cannot prove their generators were connected to Spain's power grid before September 2008 will be forced to switch to the lower subsidy rate and repay excess earnings. About a quarter of the industry may be affected, the government estimates.

Wind turbine design could potentially generate 20 megawatts

A sycamore seed design may soon be revolutionising the wind power industry. British engineers are designing a giant wind turbine that would rotate on its axis and measure nearly 900ft from up to tip, generating up to 10MW of power.

Engineering firm Wind Power Limited is developing the Aerogenerator, along with architects at Grimshaw, academics at Cranfield University and Rolls Royce, Arup, BP, and Shell. According to those behind the design, the turbines could generate 20MW or more of power. Engineers are now looking at ways of adapting the design to make them more efficient because of the extreme weight gained after scaling up the diameter of the turbine.

The Aerogenerator has two arms coming out of its base to form a V-shape, with rigid "sails" mounted along their length. The arms act like aerofoils as the wind passes over, helping to generate lift. The first Aerogenerator could be up and running by 2013. Other firms are also trying to create a new type of wind turbine that generates up to 10MW of power. Clipper Windpower, another wind power firm, has already announced plans to build the giant Britannia wind turbines that could rise 600 feet above the North Sea.

Feargal Brennan, head of offshore engineering at Cranfield University, explains: "Upsising conventional onshore wind turbine technology to overcome cost barriers has significant challenges, not least the weight of the blades, which experience a fully reversed fatigue cycle on each rotation. As the blades turn, their weight always pulls downwards, putting a changing stress on the structure, in a cycle that repeats with every rotation - up to 20 times a minute. In order to reduce the fatigue stress, the blade sections and thicknesses are increased which further increases the blade self-weight. These issues continue throughout the device.

"Drive-train mountings must be stiff enough to support the heavier components inside the nacelle on top of the tower, otherwise the systems can become misaligned and the support structure is also exposed to extremely large dynamic thrust and bending stresses, which are amplified significantly with any increase in water depth".

Offshore power is seen as a more acceptable option for renewable energy than land-based turbines. Theo Bird of Wind Power Limited says: "Offshore is the ideal place for wind power but is also an extremely tough environment. The US wind researchers who worked on vertical axis projects have always regarded the technology as great to work with at sea because it can be big, tough and easily managed".