Friday 20 August 2010

Scottish firm BiFab wins £4m contract to build prototype tidal energy turbine
16 August 2010

A Scottish company has won the contract to build one of the world's most advanced tidal energy turbines. The contract could kickstart a marine energy manufacturing boom in Britain because project developer ScottishPower wants hundreds more turbines to be built in the next few years, creating the prospect of thousands of jobs for Scotland.

Fife-based BiFab (Burntisland Fabrications), which traditionally has manufactured equipment for the North Sea oil and gas industry, will today be named as winner of the £4m series of contracts. It will build ScottishPower's first full-scale working prototype device, which the company claims is the world's most advanced. The design will be used for the 10MW tidal energy project, the largest in the UK and potentially in the world, in the Sound of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland.

This month ScottishPower submitted a planning application for the project in the fast-moving channel between the islands of Islay and Jura. It intends to tender contracts in two years' time for manufacture of the project's 10 1mw turbines.

ScottishPower has also recently been given a licence by the Crown Estate to develop a 95MW project in the Pentland Firth, which separates the Orkney Islands from Caithness, in the north of Scotland. Manufacturing costs are expected to fall as techniques are refined and contracts for both these projects are likely to be worth more than £100m. The prototype turbine, which will be built by BiFab in Stornoway, on Lewis, has been developed by Hammerfest Strøm, a joint venture between ScottishPower, Norwegian energy group Statoil and other energy companies.

Thousands more of the tidal energy turbines could be manufactured in the next decade and beyond for use in Scotland. According to a government report, the fast-moving currents of the Pentland Firth could eventually generate up to 4GW of electricity, more than enough to supply Glasgow and Edinburgh. More than 7% of the world's tidal energy resource is also thought to be in Scottish waters. The Scottish government has a target of generating 2GW (2,000MW) of electricity from tidal and wave energy by 2020.

Welcoming the announcement, Keith Anderson, director of ScottishPower renewables, said it was delighted that Hammerfest Strøm was building the first HS1000 turbine in Scotland. "We know that the company looked internationally to find the right levels of expertise to deliver this contract, so it is a major boost to Scotland's renewable energy industry and to the wider economy to see this new technology going into construction in Stornoway. With our projects in Islay and the Pentland Firth also being developed, we hope that the announcement today is just the beginning of what could be a major stream of new opportunities for the renewables and manufacturing industries in Scotland."

BiFab will use its new facility in Arnish, on Lewis, to build the 22 metre tall steel structure of the turbine, including its foundation and legs. Another Scottish company will be announced today as the winner of the bid to manufacture the nacelle, which supports the turbine generator. This company will also assemble the device, which weighs 1,100 tonnes.

Politicians in Edinburgh and London, as well as UK-based energy companies, are determined to reap the economic benefits of marine energy. In the 1980s and 1990s, Britain missed the opportunity to become a major manufacturing base for the wind power industry, even though it has some of the best conditions in the world. Denmark, thanks to grants and other forms of early government support, is now a world leader in the industry. Only a handful of small wind industry manufacturers exist in Britain, which imports the vast majority of the wind turbines it uses from countries including Denmark and Germany. Experts say that wave and tidal energy technologies are at a similar stage of development as the wind industry 20 or 30 years ago.

Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, wants to make sure that Scotland becomes a world leader for manufacturing marine energy devices and the services and supporting industries that go with it. As North Sea oil and gas production dwindles, the companies that service offshore rigs and platforms, many of which are already in Scotland, are keen to adapt their expertise to the offshore renewable industry. Salmond welcomed the news today. "Awarding £4 million of contracts to Scotland is a massive vote of confidence in the talent, expertise and infrastructure we have to support the development of a clean, green renewables future," he said.

ScottishPower plans to have its Sound of Islay project operational in 2013. It will provide enough electricity for Islay's 3,500 inhabitants for 23 hours a day and export power to the mainland. ScottishPower has signed a contract with Diageo, the drinks group, to provide power from the project to eight distilleries and maltings on Islay, including the makers of the Laphroaig and Lagavulin whiskies. This year, in Britain's first marine energy licensing round, the Crown Estate gave 10 licences for companies to develop projects around Orkney and the Pentland Firth, including to ScottishPower.

Most marine energy developers are still carrying out more tests to make sure their devices can stand up to the harsh operating environment. The economics of large-scale marine energy projects are still sketchy, as few exist, and UK developers are entitled to large subsidies. For tidal projects, these are worth one and a half times those earned by offshore wind farms, and two and a half times for wave farm projects.

WindPower's permanent magnet generator wind turbines

US wind turbine gearboxes re-builder WindPower Innovations Inc, has revealed a permanent magnet direct drive wind turbine solution. "It's a smart technology that can sense variable load demands and automatically adjust power output. By eliminating gearbox maintenance and most importantly, failure, all of our nearly 100 permanent magnet solutions provide increased up-time with 75% less upkeep and repair", Ian Griffiths, the company's Chief Technical Officer (CTO) states.

The permanent magnet generator wind turbine solutions were developed as a key component in WindPower Innovations' overall mission to provide unique and efficient ways for the wind industry. The system, is able to produce a constant 60 HZ alternating current (AC) power over a wider band of operation when compared to traditional generators, which have only one or two power synchronisation peaks that can produce the 60HZ AC required by the grid. "Additionally, all of our Permanent Magnet Generators are certified for low noise, addressing one of the biggest environmental objections facing the wind industry today", Griffiths added.

Solar power used to purify bore water
Aug 16, 2010

Researchers are using solar technology to purify bore water in a north-west Queensland town, Dajarra, south of Mount Isa, has had issues with the quality and taste of its bore water for several years. Researchers from the University of Queensland have set up solar panels on the roof of the community hall to see if it will purify the water. Spokesman Dr Lance Newey says the team is trialing the technology, and hopes to use it on other buildings in the town. "Essentially you flow the bore water into solar panels which capture sunlight, which heats the water", he said. "Then this particular technology separates out the very heavy chemical water from that water which is more purified as it undergoes a heating process".

Thursday 19 August 2010

Techno meets eco at the Jetsons
August 15, 2010

THE modern family living in the NSW home of the future has halved its energy consumption.

Clare Joyce, Michael Adams and their daughter Ava, 4, have a home in the Olympic suburb of Newington fitted out with the most efficient heating, air conditioning and domestic appliances, some of them not yet on sale. The technology in use will become familiar with more widely available broadband speeds, although the house has an ADSL+ line with a theoretical speed of 12Mbps. In the first two weeks they consumed 205kW hours of electricity - less than 15kW/h a day.

When they lived in Annandale, in a semi-detached terrace with wooden floors, high ceilings and long corridors, they had to huddle around an electric heater and their electricity consumption was more than twice as high. The saving comes despite cool weather and Clare running a clothes drier. The family is living rent-free after winning a competition to be guinea pigs for EnergyAustralia and Sydney Water. The house generates all its own power using a ceramic fuel-cell, solar panels and new battery storage technology. Other features include a solar pergola roof. LED chandelier, a kitchen floor made from old tyres and chairs made from recycled car batteries.

But not everything is completely perfect for the family nicknamed The Jetsons. Clare, a video services director for a communications agency said: ''The cooker doesn't make guaranteed good cakes... In my defence I have never made a cake before.'' There are other minor issues: the recycled glass splashback in the kitchen is tricky to clean; dirt, hair and bits of dropped food cling to the recycled rubber floor and it's not easy to sweep; the LED TV is slow to activate because of the equipment that ensures it is not on standby.

Michael, a freelance writer and author, said: ''The shower heads are huge but our goal here is to reduce our water use so we only stay under for four minutes.'' Smart sockets monitor the energy consumption of all devices and relay data to a central portal. The family can log in from any computer or an iPhone to check everything is turned off. They will get an electric car to replace their Honda Jazz. Many family items are in storage during the trial. ''It will be interesting to see which [appliances] we want to keep,'' Michael said.

Solar power plant plans move ahead in California
August 13, 2010

After a long drought, large-scale solar power is getting closer to returning to the U.S, desert.

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday gave the green light to power purchase agreements which two utilities have with solar power project developers, a key step toward beginning actual construction. The approvals in California follow a flurry of activity at the Bureau of Land Management, which created a fast-track review process for solar projects on federal land. Both agencies' reviews are required for permitting the projects which, if finalised and financed, would result in a dramatic increase in solar power on the California grid.

On Friday, the BLM issued its final environmental impact statement for the Chevron Energy Solutions Lucerne Valley Solar Project in the California desert, a necessary step before final permitting approval. That project would bring 1,000MWs of generating capacity online in California, enough to supply hundreds of thousands of homes. Earlier this week, the BLM issued final environmental impact studies for two other large projects proposed for public lands in California--the Ivanpa Solar project developed by BrightSource Energy and Calico Solar project developed by Tessera Solar.

In all, there are nine projects in California in the fast-track program which, if completed, would bring over 4,500MWs worth of generating capacity onto the grid, according to a tally compiled by Environment & Energy News. The nine projects would cover more than 41,000 acres of BLM land and provide enough power for 3.8 million homes, according to federal estimates.

Demand for these large-scale desert solar projects is driven by a California mandate that requires utilities to get 20% of their electricity from renewable energy by the end of the year. The technologies behind these projects vary. The 392-MW Ivanpah project, which technology provider BrightSource Energy expects to start construction on this fall, uses a field of mirrors focused on a tower which heats a liquid to make steam that drives a turbine.

The Calico Solar project in California's San Bernardino County feature giant parabolic dishes which use the sun's heat to drive an attached Stirling Engine to generate electricity. Meanwhile, other project developers plan to use arrays of flat photovoltaic panels which can be quicker to deploy than solar thermal systems.

But even though these large solar projects promise a jump in clean energy on the grid, they have faced opposition over the potential environmental impact and water use. BrightSource Energy, for example, scaled back its original project plan for the Ivanpah project to reduce the impact on habitat for endangered tortoises. Tessera Solar plans to use waste water to wash solar panels, according to Environment & Energy News.

Financing for these projects, which can cost hundreds of millions or billions of dollars to construct, is not assured. Banks are wary of putting money into relatively new technology, such as some solar thermal systems. At the same time, project developers are rushing to finalise permitting before the end of this year because there's a risk that federal tax grant for renewable energy projects will not be renewed next year.

Wind turbine factory to create 300 jobs
Aug 10 2010

Siemens Canada will set up a factory employing up to 300 people in Ontario to build blades for wind turbines. The plant's location hasn't been set, but it's likely to be somewhere between Hamilton and Windsor. Siemens senior vice president Bill Smith said in an interview. The company is looking both at existing facilities and greenfield locations and "we've got it down to a short list", Smith said. Siemens will be supplying the blades for a massive wind and solar power development led by Samsung C&T Corporation, with its partner Pattern Energy.

Samsung and the Korea Electric Power Co, have made a deal with the province - in return for $437 million in subsidies over 25 years - that requires them to build a total of four plants in Ontario to make wind and solar generating equipment. The province has predicted its clean energy program will create 50,000 jobs, and Energy Minister Brad Duguid said the blade factory is a "major milestone". The steel towers that support the blades will also be made in Ontario. Smith said.

The wind farms where the turbines will be installed will qualify for the province's "feed-in tariff" rates, paying on-shore wind farms 13.5 cents akW hour for power. (Market prices have averaged about 4 cents akW hour since Jan. 1, although the price was in the 12-cent range Tuesday because of high demand.) Wherever it is finally located, the new plant will need "tens of acres" to be able to make, store and ship blades up to 55 metres long. Smith said. That rules out downtown locations.

The big blades are destined for turbines that can generate 2.3MWs of power. That's triple the power generated by the turbine at Exhibition Place. While Samsung will be the key customer for the new plant at the outset, requiring 300 or more blades, "it's not exclusive to Samsung", Smith said. "It would supply blades or turbines to whoever wanted to install them" Smith said he hopes to make a decision on the location by the end of September. He expects the plant to be up and running by late next year, ready to supply blades for the 2012 construction season. He wouldn't go into financial details such as the price of the blades.

Indian power generation from wind and solar energy
12 Aug 2010

Dr Farooq Abdullah ministry of new & renewable energy informed the Lok Sabha that through the Centre for Wind Energy Technology has taken up a wind resource assessment program to assess wind power potential in the country including Uttarakhand. As a result of this exercise, 233 wind potential locations have been identified so far. Regarding solar power, the daily average solar radiation varies from 4 to 7kWh per m² depending upon the location in the country. However, no specific assessment study has been done for hilly regions so far.

The cost of electricity per unit from solar power is quite high as compared to conventional sources. As per the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, the tariff for 2010-11 for Solar Photovoltaics Power Projects is INR 17.91 per unit and that for solar thermal projects is INR 15.31 per unit. The cost of generation of electricity from wind power projects varies from INR 2.75 to INR 3.50 per unit depending upon site, capital cost, debt equity ratio, and interest rate etc.

Government is promoting commercial grid connected wind power projects through private sector investment in wind potential states by providing fiscal incentives, loan from Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency and other financial institutions. Technical support including detailed wind resource assessment to identify further potential sites is provided by the Centre for Wind Energy Technology of Chennai. This apart, preferential tariff is being provided to increase wind power investment in the potential States. Government has recently announced a generation based incentive under which INR 0.50 per unit generated from wind power projects is provided to the projects which do not avail accelerated depreciation benefit.

The Government has recently announced Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission which provides a policy framework to support promotion and development of grid connected solar power projects and also off grid solar applications across the country including hilly regions.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Geothermal's pressure test

Business Spectator
Thursday 12/8/2010 Page: 1

GeoDynamics has spent an estimated $300 million over the past decade on the development of its cutting edge hot dry rocks geothermal technology in the Cooper Basin. Some time in the next month or so it might find out if it has all been worth it. It may seem overly dramatic to label the fracturing tests that will be undertaken at a single well over the next few weeks as a "make or break" for the company. But that is the way it is being viewed by GeoDynamics and its backers. Success will deliver the key to an estimated 6,500MW of clean, base-load power that could be brought to the grid over the next 10 to 15 years; failure will cause the company to undergo a major rethink of its ambitions.

The rest of the geothermal industry also has a lot at stake on what unfolds nearly 5 kms beneath the surface at the Jolokia 1. A good result will bring much needed investor confidence, a disappointing or inconclusive result may have the opposite effect. And proponents of other technologies will be looking on with interest, too. None more so, perhaps than nuclear, which has a weaker case to argue in Australia if geothermal looks likely to deliver on its promise.

Next week, GeoDynamics is scheduled to begin a "hydraulic fracture stimulation program" at the Jolokia well near Innamincka. Water will be injected to a depth of 4.9kms with the aim of finding natural faults in the super-heated granite and opening these up to create a flow of high pressure hot water which can then be exploited to drive a turbine on the surface via a heat exchanger.

It is not the first time such fracture stimulations have been carried out, but no one has done this at the same depth, temperature (280C) and under such extreme pressure (9,000 PSI). It's cutting edge stuff and the team at GeoDynamics (many of them ex-oil drillers) are clearly excited. Last week they got their first photos of the deep fractures (sent before the specially created imaging tool melted). No one seems to have sat down since and there is every confidence that this will be a "make" rather than a "break" for the company.

Jolokia is located nearly 10kms from the company's previously successful fracturing activities at Habanero. If that success can be repeated at Jolokia, the company argues that this will demonstrate its ability to create heat exchangers at will across its tenement areas - unlocking up to 6,500MW of geothermal resources in the GeoDynamics tenements and opening up a new energy province in central Australia.

That would lead to a flurry of activity. The company would return to Habanero to drill two more wells and commission the 1MW pilot plant that was delayed by the blow-out in the Habanero 3 well last year. If the pilot plant is successful, the company can then move to make an investment decision on its proposed 25MW commercial demonstration plant, for which it has federal government support to the tune of $90 million, and gain the confidence to tap the market for funds to pay for an expanded drilling program.

The commercial plant would probably not be up and running till around 2015. In the meantime, GeoDynamics' partner in the Innamincka "Deeps" project. Origin Energy, will lead its own drilling campaign to see if it can unlock energy from the Innamincka "Shallows" - geothermal heat lying in sedimentary acquifers which are considered easier to exploit. The partners believe there might be around 100MW-200MW of "shallow" resources in the immediate area. Exploiting these would provide early revenue and be a complimentary energy play to the larger project. But without the longer-term value of the "Deeps" it is uncertain if this shallow reserve could be economically exploited.

Failure at Jolokia, however, will be a devastating blow. GeoDynamics is by far the best funded of Australia's growing brigade of geothermal aspirants, with a cash balance of around $70 million, but it needs to tap the market for more money within the next six months to continue its ambitious program.

Other companies need money too. The industry - be it pursuing the deep hot dry rock reservoirs or the shallow sedimentary aquifers - would prefer not to find itself in a position where its future may be influenced by the success or failure of a single well, but because funding has been so hard to come by from government and the investment community, that is exactly where it finds itself.

How to be fully renewable in 10 years

Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 13/8/2010 Page: 4

AUSTRALIA could switch completely to renewable energy within a decade by building a dozen vast, new solar power stations and about 6500 wind turbines, according to a major new study. The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan a collaboration between University of Melbourne's Energy Research Institute, the environment group Beyond Zero Emissions and engineers Sinclair Knight Merz, puts the cost at $37 billion in private funding and public investment every year for the next decade.

The price tag may make it sound like a pipe dream but the scheme earned the endorsement of the federal Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull who added his support at a forum at Sydney Town Hall last night. "The work they have done is important", Mr Turnbull said. "It provides the most comprehensive technical blueprint yet for what our engineers, our scientists, can begin to do tomorrow". Mr Turnbull contrasted the Coalition's "direct action" plan with Labor's policy, which he claimed would lead to longer delays in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. "I believe our long-term global goal is to very substantially reduce our emissions, a goal that will require almost all of our stationary energy to be produced from zero or near zero emission sources", Mr Turnbull said. "This report demonstrates we could already be technologically ready to do that".

The plan has also been endorsed by Australia's former chief scientist Robin Batterham, and a senior official at the International Energy Agency's renewable energy division, Cedric Philibert. However, the National Generators Forum, which represents power station owners, and the office of the federal Energy Minister. Martin Ferguson, were decidedly lukewarm about the plan when asked about the findings last month. Under the plan, 60% of the nation's electricity would be sourced from 12 huge solar thermal power plants, which use Australian developed technology to store heat in molten salt, allowing them to operate for long periods when there is no sunshine.

The remaining 40% of the power grid would be filled by about 6500 wind turbines at 23 large-scale wind farms dotted mainly around the coast. The plan would generate 325TW hours of electricity a year, meeting the nation's entire power demands in the year 2020, if a comprehensive energy efficiency plan is also factored in. Any shortfalls could be made up by biomass energy generation, using a portion of the stubble from the nation's wheat fields. To properly harness all the renewable energy, the report calls for the unification of Australia's three separate electricity grids and some new transmission lines to link the new power stations to capital cities, at a total cost of $92 billion.

If the cost of completely transforming the energy sector was passed directly on to households, it would add 30% to the average utility bill. Matthew Wright, the chief executive of the Beyond Zero Emissions group, claimed the report was more realistic than Australia's continued dependence on foreign oil supplies and fluctuating fuel prices. "The fact is, from an energy perspective, we are in big trouble", said Mr Wright when he briefed staff from the NSW Department of Climate Change, Environment and Water on the plan yesterday. "If you're going to secure Australia's energy future, then you're going to do that with risk free renewable energy that has no fuel costs".

Money to be saved in cutting greenhouse emissions, business told

Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 13/8/2010 Page: 4

BUSINESS leaders say Australia and New Zealand could cut emissions by at least 15% each and save money at the same time. A communique from the Australia - New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference suggests measures taken across power, transport, building, industry, forestry and agriculture sectors could lower emissions and benefit business.

As well, a reduction of government bureaucracy, improving supply contracts so industry could generate electricity to feed into the grid, accelerated green depreciation for buildings and broader energy efficiency measures agreed to by business and government would make substantial cuts to the greenhouse gas emissions of both countries.

Jon Jutsen, executive director of the consultants Energetics, said energy efficiency measures across the economy would save business money. "The Australian economy is only about 10% efficient", he said. "This means that 90% of the energy in the fuel we dig up is lost in the supply chain and end uses".

Gary Taylor, chairman of the not for profit Climate Change and Business Centre, said a carbon price was essential, coupled with sector specific measures to combat climate change. "Australia can learn from New Zealand's experience implementing a price on carbon and New Zealand can benefit from Australia's experience with complementary measures", Mr Taylor said. "The urgent need for strong leadership by business and government and closer collaboration between them was a strong theme of the conference.

Businesses have opportunities to improve profitably through acting on energy productivity. While a price on carbon will increase the justification for action, government policy changes are required to maximise carbon mitigation". A poll of conference delegates showed the most popular measure for reducing emissions was energy efficiency (29% of respondents). Almost twice as many wanted a cap-and-trade scheme of pricing carbon as opposed to a carbon tax but either would need to be introduced alongside further regulation and funding assistance.

Human error put turbines in spin $100,000 to fix wind damage

Hobart Mercury
Friday 13/8/2010 Page: 4

HUMAN error has been blamed for the failure of two wind turbines on top of the Marine Board building on Wednesday. Building owner Robert Rockefeller said a contractor had failed to reset the braking mechanisms on the turbines after routine maintenance work on the roof of the building. The damage was significant and it would cost about $100.000 to get the turbines back to full working order. The alternative energy advocate said he had no concerns with the quality of the turbines and insisted he would use turbines on other projects in the city. "We have made the right choice", he said.

The two turbines are expected to be running again in about six weeks. Supplies were being air-freighted from overseas yesterday. Mr Rockefeller said the turbines were actually designed to collapse as they did and he insisted they were perfectly safe despite concerns from witnesses on Wednesday. "The wind turbines are fitted with a braking mechanism to ensure they do not spin out of control in windy conditions", he said. "If this fails they are designed to fold in on themselves. "While I am happy the failsafe mechanism worked, it is disappointing that despite induction processes being undertaken... human error has been found to be the cause of the problem".

Rob Manson, director of I Want Energy, the company that installed the turbines, said yesterday it was not his company that did the roof maintenance that led to the fault. He said he was confident further measures would be put in place to ensure contractors unfamiliar with the system were fully aware of the occupational health and safety requirements of the turbines. Roy Ormerod, general manager of Workplace Standards Tasmania, confirmed yesterday the failure had been caused by human error. "We have had two inspectors out on site this morning", he said. "They spoke to a technician and the problem appears to be human error".

Mr Ormerod said Workplace Standards would require stronger assurances the problem would not happen again before the two turbines were back in operation. "We would require a full engineer's report and what steps will be taken in the future so that this does not happen again", he said. Hobart Lord Mayor Rob Valentine said the concerns about wind turbines in this instance should focus on public safety. "It is up to Workplace Standards to decide if there is an issue", he said. Hobart City Council alderman Marti Zucco said yesterday all turbines should be shut down until someone was willing to take full ownership of the problem. "It is quite obvious there is a safety issue", Ald Zucco said. "Who is responsible if someone is injured or killed?"

Tuesday 17 August 2010

South-west wind farm the biggest

Friday 13/8/2010 Page: 11

THE largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere will be built in south-western Victoria, with backers claiming it will generate enough power to run more than 220,000 homes. Energy company AGL Energy announced that the 140-turbine wind farm would be built on three properties near Macarthur under a $1 billion deal with New Zealand power generator Meridian Energy. The project had been on hold since December, when AGL Energy managing director Michael Fraser warned that the renewable energy industry was on the brink of collapse due to a lack of investor certainty.

It was re-ignited in June after the Senate passed the federal government's revamped renewable energy legislation, requiring that roughly 18% of power will come from large scale clean power plants by 2020. Mr Fraser said the Macarthur farm was the largest and most ambitious renewable energy project in Australia since the Snowy Hydro Scheme. "I think in time this project will really be seen as a landmark project for the transformation to a clean energy future", he said at the project's launch in Melbourne yesterday.

AGL Energy said the wind farm would have a capacity of 420MWs, reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 1.7 million tonnes and create up to 400 jobs during construction. About 30 people would be employed to run it once it is completed in 2013. The announcement came as the Victorian Parliament debated a climate change bill that would set a target of reducing the state's emissions by 20% this decade and give the Environment Protection Authority the power to apply greenhouse gas limits to business.

The bill passed the lower house without a vote. The opposition reserved its decision on whether to support the legislation in the Legislative Council, but the bill is expected to pass with the support of the Greens. Opposition environment spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge said the Coalition supported parts of the bill, including setting a target, but was concerned about the EPA powers, the opposition and government clashed over the Macarthur wind farm despite both claiming to support it. Premier John Brumby said it was a "historic occasion for the state".

Both Mr Brumby and AGL Energy said the wind farm would not have been built in Victoria under the Coalition's policy, which would not allow turbines within two kilometres of homes without the owners' approval. Mr Fraser said: "We think that is a bad policy. It would see many, many wind farms in Victoria stillborn and people like ourselves would redirect our investment dollars to other states".

But Coalition planning spokesman Matthew Guy dismissed Mr Fraser's claim as bizarre. He said the Macarthur farm had community support, including from the opposition. Denis Napthine, the Coalition member for the seat of South West Coast, which includes Macarthur, said the government should ensure the wind towers were built by Portland manufacturer Keppel Prince. The construction contract was won by Dutch company Vestas.

Renewables boom a silver lining as the storm clouds clear
12 Aug 2010

The wild storms which lashed Victoria and South Australia over the last 24 hours helped deliver near-record levels of renewable energy and hydro. The winds, which reached up to 95km per hour, at their peak delivered more than 1,230MWs of electricity - comparable to the giant Hazelwood coal-fired power station. Over the past two days the National Electricity Market Management Company (in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania) averaged more than 1000MW coming from wind turbines, the same as a medium sized coal-fired power station. This electricity was generated by around 1,000 wind turbines located across the south east of Australia.

Initial estimates suggest the amount of rain that fell in hydro dams would be enough to power around 20,000 households for the next year. The Chief Executive of the Clean Energy Council, Mr Matthew Warren, said the impressive generation numbers showed the renewable silver lining to the dark clouds of the last couple of days. "wind turbines were spinning in overdrive overnight", Mr Warren said. "Wild weather isn't all bad news. The beauty of renewable energy is it taps in to the natural forces of weather extremes". The CEC, the leading body representing Australia's clean energy sector, is an independent, not-for-profit organisation representing more than 350 member companies operating in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Siemens wins one billion dollar wind power orders
Thu, 12 Aug 2010

BERLIN -- Germany's Siemens said Tuesday it has won two orders in the United States and Canada to supply wind turbines that experts said were worth around 800 million euros (1.1 billion dollars). Siemens will supply wind turbines capable of producing 600MWs of electricity, enough for 240,000 households, in Ontario. It will also provide 98 turbines for an Oklahoma wind farm, enough for 227MWs. Market prices for land-based wind turbines are around one million euros perMW, meaning the orders are worth around 800 million euros for Siemens, industry specialists said. "North America is a very important market for wind power", said Rene Umlauft, head of Siemens' Renewable Energy division.

Monday 16 August 2010

Is solar power cheaper than nuclear power?
August 9, 2010

One of the issues associated with shifting from using fossil fuels to alternative energy sources is the cost. While adherents of alternative energy tout its benefits, many are skeptical, pointing out that such alternatives are just too expensive. Advocates of nuclear power point out that it is less polluting (if you don't count storage of spent fuel) than fossil fuels, and that it costs less than alternatives like solar power.

A new study out of Duke University, though, casts doubt on the idea that nuclear power is cheaper than solar power. Using information from North Carolina, the study shows that solar power may be more cost efficient than nuclear power. With costs dropping on the production of photovoltaic cells, and with solar cells becoming increasingly efficient, it appears that -- in North Carolina at least -- solar installations offer a viable alternative to nuclear power, which is the source for about 20% of the electricity in the US

The Energy Collective reports that some of the issues not addressed in the Duke study. Issues that may further support the idea that solar power could become a viable, cheap form of power in the not so distant future. Two factors not stressed in the study bolster the case for solar even more:
  1. North Carolina is not a "sun-rich" state. The savings found in North Carolina are likely to be even greater for states with more sunshine-Arizona, southern California, Colorado, New Mexico, west Texas, Nevada and Utah.
  2. The data include only PV-generated electricity, without factoring in what is likely the most encouraging development in solar technology: concentrating solar power (CSP). CSP promises utility scale production and solar thermal storage, making electrical generation practical for at least six hours after sunset.

Power costs are generally measured in cents per kilowatt hour - the cost of the electricity needed to illuminate a 1,000 watt light bulb (for example) for one hour. When the cost of a kilowatt hour of solar power fell to 16 cents earlier this year, it "crossed over" the trend-line associated with nuclear power.

Of course, fossil fuels still represent about 70% of the electricity production in the US, and there is probably still some way to go before solar power (and other alternatives) reach a level of cost efficiency that would result in more widespread use. But perhaps this study offers encouragement -- and justification -- for using resources for further development of solar power technology.

Enel Green Power adds 24 MW wind farm in France
Aug 9, 2010

MILAN Aug 9 (Reuters) - Italy's biggest renewable energy company. Enel Green Power, has started operating a new wind farm with a 24MW capacity in France, boosting its total wind power generation capacity there to 92MW, it said on Monday. Enel Green Power, the renewable energy arm of Europe's most indebted utility Enel, is getting ready for an initial public offering of its shares in October. The new wind farm in north-eastern France will produce more than 50 millionkW hours of electricity a year, which is enough to meet annual energy needs of about 15,000 households. Enel Green Power said in a statement.

The energy produced by the farm's 12 wind turbines will take the place of the emission of 40,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. With the new wind farm. Enel Green Power's total installed wind capacity in France reaches 92MW, with an annual output of over 200 millionkWh, while other wind power plants with 64MW are currently under construction, it said. Enel Green Power generates energy from water, sun, wind and other renewable energy sources and has a total installed capacity of more than 5,700MW.

Tough decisions on nuclear power

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 12/8/2010 Page: 7

THE German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has made combating climate change one of her priorities.

But she is having difficulty finding consensus even within her own government on a new energy policy, especially on the most contentious issue: the future of nuclear plants. Governments around the globe are seeking cleaner ways to generate power and trying to reduce their dependence on foreign oil and natural gas at the same time. And most countries are deciding they cannot do without nuclear power, at least in the immediate future. But in Germany, citizens are less sure about whether nuclear power should be part of the solution to combat climate change.

With electricity demand expected to grow only slowly, opponents argue that keeping the country's 17 nuclear power plants going would detract from the effort to develop other renewable sources of energy. Indeed, the cabinet agreed this month to an action plan to have energy from solar, wind and other renewable sources represent 20% of energy consumption by 2020, up from 10% now. Supporters argue that nuclear power, which provides 11% of Germany's electricity, is a reliable and relatively inexpensive part of the energy mix that should not be abandoned.

The changed economic landscape is also influencing the difficult balancing act as the government struggles to draft its new energy policy, which is to be presented next month. Some German leaders want Dr Merkel to reclaim the global initiative for Europe by setting even more ambitious goals on renewable energy. But others caution against making demands that could endanger the economic recovery that has just taken hold in Germany - led by export-driven, energy intensive heavy industries. "Merkel wants to demonstrate that she still is committed to reducing greenhouse gases", said Claudia Kemfert, at the economic research institute DIW in Berlin. "But no matter which energy sector she looks at, she is confronted by powerful lobbies".

In 2002, the previous government, led by a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens, passed a law requiring that all German nuclear power stations be closed by 2022 and not be replaced. Dr Merkel did not dare question that law during her first term, when she shared power with the Social Democrats. The more business-friendly Free Democrats, her coalition partners since October, have a different approach. The party leader, Guido Westerwelle, has said he wants the life of the power plants to be prolonged. He even supported the coal industry provided production was "cleaner, modern and more efficient". Dr Merkel and her Christian Democrats have yet to take a firm position but are generally considered sympathetic to extending the life of the nuclear plants.

Green horizons for contaminated lands

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 12/8/2010 Page: 7

THOUSANDS of hectares of farmland in California's San Joaquin Valley have been removed from agricultural production, largely because the once-fertile land is contaminated by salt from years of irrigation. But large swathes of the dry fields could have a valuable new use in their future - making electricity. Farmers and officials at Westlands Water District, a public agency that supplies water to farms in the valley, have agreed to provide land for what would be one of the world's largest solar power complexes, to be built on 12,140 hectares.

At peak output, the proposed Westlands Solar Park would generate as much electricity as several big nuclear power plants. And unlike some renewable energy projects blocked by objections that they would hurt the landscape, this one has the support of environmentalists. The San Joaquin initiative is in the vanguard of anew approach to locating renewable energy projects: putting them on polluted or previously used land. The Westlands project has won the backing of groups that have opposed building big solar projects. Landowners and regulators are on board, too.

"It's about as perfect a place as you're going to find in the state of California for a solar project like this", said Carl Zichella, who until last month was the Sierra Club's Western renewable programs director. "There's virtually zero wildlife impact here because the land has been farmed continuously for such along time and you have proximity to transmission, infrastructure and markets".

Recycling contaminated or otherwise disturbed land into green energy projects could help avoid disputes when developers seek to build sprawling arrays of solar collectors and wind turbines in more pristine areas, where they can affect wildlife and water supplies. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, for instance, are evaluating a dozen landfills and toxic waste sites for wind farms or solar power plants.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Tassie embracing turbine revolution

Sunday Tasmanian
Sunday 8/8/2010 Page: 12

WIND turbines like those that newly grace Hobart's Marine Board building are set to become the latest backyard status symbol as more and more Tasmanians seek to generate their own power.

Rising electricity costs, the chance of more price rises with a carbon reduction scheme and talk of more generous rebates for producing power mean the turbines are becoming a common sight in suburban yards and on rural lots. And they're likely to become a more common sight in the city too, after a surge of inquiries from building owners. Rob Manson, a director of I Want Energy, which installed the turbines on the Hobart building, said already about 100 homes in Tasmania were using smaller versions of the vertical-axis turbines to meet their power needs.

Ranging from a discreet 1.2kW system that looks like a series of heat-extractor vents to a 12kW system that could power several homes. Mr Manson said interest had been high. "If you want to power the average-sized house, a 5kW horizontal-axis or a 3.2kW vertical-axis turbine will replace 100% of your energy needs", he said. "People are really greening up, particularly people in retirement or who are heading towards retirement because they can see they're facing rising energy costs. "The benefits are that there's less strain on the grid, we import less coal-fired power from Victoria and we export more green power over Basslink".

The units are almost silent, unlike their horizontal-axis counterparts, so can be mounted closer to homes. Mr Manson said his generally well-heeled customers supplemented their wind turbines with solar panels to ensure a steady supply of power, whether the wind blew or the sun shone. Talk that the Government could soon increase the price paid to home-owners for electricity they generate was also fanning demand, he said.

Mr Manson said his next goal was to make the turbines in Tasmania. "I'm not here looking to line my own pockets. We're looking to start an industry", he said. "We believe we can make these turbines in Tasmania. We have all the fabrication skills here, being an island of renowned ship builders. "Every school in Australia has $50,000 available as a Federal Government grant. If we signed up 100 schools, we would kick-start the industry right here in Hobart. "It's a huge opportunity".