Wednesday 15 September 2010

Home takes the pain out of power bills

Canberra Times
Friday 10/9/2010 Page: 9

The Conservation Council wants to put 1000 solar systems on ACT residential roofs next year. Project SunShine is a new solar power campaign, launched today, which is offering discounts ranging from $150 for a 1.61kWh system up to $3000 for a 9.61kWh system. The offer is being made possible through renewable energy credits from the Federal Government and can be traded at purchase to effectively reduce the overall cost of a solar system to the purchaser.

The ACT has the nation's highest carbon footprint and the second-highest number of sunshine hours of all major Australian cities. The council hopes Project SunShine will reduce the ACT's emissions rates by 40% by 2020. ACT region executive director John Hibberd said the project had no upfront costs and the cost of installation would be paid off over seven years with the ACT Government's gross feed-in tariff, which guarantees that energy contributors receive a minimum of 45.7c perkW.

Mr Hibberd said everyone in Canberra had to be responsible for reducing the ACT's carbon footprint. Canberra resident Nicholas Mayo built his sustainable home to reduce his carbon footprint. "We did it for the environmental thing, and to reduce our carbon emissions", he said. "Cost wasn't an issue for us".

Mr Mayo designed and built his home using Thepassive solar principles, so it requires no heating in winter and is cool and comfortable in summer. The solar panels are built into the roof, making them perfect for high wind areas and pleasing to the eye. The system is designed to generate more electrical energy than a house uses, allowing owners to sell unused energy back to the electrical companies. "We only use 50% of what we make", Mr Mayo said.

Tours of the home are available by appointment, and Mr Mayo provides sustainability advice and project coordination. The council is encouraging buyers to shop around and select a supplier that offers the best warranty for all aspects of installation. The campaign is part of Sustainable House Day on Sunday and exhibits some of Australia's best sustainable homes. The day is an opportunity for the public to find out directly from sustainable-home owners about reducing waste around the home, saving water, and natural home heating and cooling, among other initiatives.

Carbon cuts leave China factories in chaos - Beijing orders blackouts to hit target

Thursday 9/9/2010 Page: 13

AN ABRUPT command from Beijing to follow through with "iron-fisted" energy and carbon emission cuts has thrown China's industrial heartlands into chaos. Steel factories across the country are slashing production implying a rocky outlook for key Australian commodities such as iron ore while smaller Chinese plants have been arbitrarily plunged into darkness. "We had no water to flush the toilet, we couldn't use the fridge and of course production stopped", said an office manager at Wanxing wire mesh factory in Anping, Hebei province.

He said he had struggled through 10 days of randomly imposed blackouts some as long as 22 hours and the water supply and electrical appliances had just come back on. "We often didn't hear the power cut notices, partly because we couldn't watch TV", he said. This energy-efficiency drive reflects Beijing's last-minute lunge to make good on a pledge to reduce energy use per unit of economic output by 20% over the five years ending this December.

More than a quarter of that improvement has to be achieved in the last months of this year, after earlier energy efficiency gains were blown by Beijing's successful economic stimulus program. Chinese advisers say achieving the widely publicised energy target is seen as crucial for maintaining the government's policy credibility, as well as China's longer-term pledge to reduce the intensity of carbon emissions by 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020.

But Pan Jialma, a climate change policy expert who directly advised the Politburo earlier this year, told The Age that this was not an efficient way to achieve the goal of energy efficiency. "The 20% target is compulsory, so the central government mandated the provincial governments to have their energy cuts, and the provincial governments passed this requirement to county level governments, and local government officials have no choice but to implement", said Professor Pan, who heads the Urban Development and Environment Centre at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "It's crazy", he said, referring to the absence of any flexibility or adjustments for local conditions.

Attention in China is now shifting to the next five-year plan, the contents of which are being furiously debated behind closed doors before being presented to next month's annual meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee. Last month a senior Ministry of Finance official floated the possibility of a carbon tax. "I haven't heard anything about a carbon emissions tax", Joshua Chen, chief financial office of China's biggest energy consumer. Chaim, told The Age in an interview. "But there will be strict carbon emissions quotas for new projects".

He added that the controls for new aluminium plants would be "very strict". Professor Pan told The Age that future targets needed to be achieved "democratically", rather than arbitrarily, via the market. He said everybody should be given a base level of electricity, with heavy users having the option of paying a "penalty" price for usage above their quotas. He said neither the mechanism nor targets had yet been set, but a carbon tax was unlikely.

India's Tata Power Plans to Spend $15 Billion, Increase Capacity Eightfold
Sep 8, 2010

Tata Power Co., the generating unit of India's biggest industrial group, plans to spend 700 billion rupees ($15 billion) to increase capacity more than eightfold as faster economic growth boosts demand for electricity. The utility plans to generate 25,000MWs by 2017. Chairman Ratan Tata Power told shareholders at the annual general meeting in Mumbai today. A 4,000-MW, coal-based plant in Gujarat state is 60% complete and the 1,050MW Maithon project in Jharkhand state is 85% ready, he said.

"It looks to be too ambitious a plan", said D.K. Aggarwal, chairman of SMC Wealth Management Services Ltd, in New Delhi. "Tying up such funds may be a concern because it will require a lot of debt in only a short span of seven years". Private companies are competing with state-owned NTPC Ltd, to set up power plants as India seeks to add electricity generating capacity to help reduce blackouts in Asia's second fastest growing economy. Billionaire Anil Ambani's Reliance Power Ltd, plans to build projects totalling 33,780MWs.

Tata Power shares gained 0.3% to 1,274.05 rupees in Mumbai trading. The stock has declined 8% this year compared with 7% increase in the benchmark Sensitive Index of the Bombay Stock Exchange. Tata Power had 3,104MWs of generation capacity as of March 31, according to a presentation made to analysts in March. The utility plans to expand its wind and hydro power capacity and is exploring opportunities in geothermal energy.

Nuclear Plants
The company based in Mumbai wants to participate in building nuclear power plants in India. Tata Power said. Private participation in nuclear generation appears unlikely in the next five to seven years. Tata Power said in the presentation to analysts. India's upper house of parliament approved a bill on nuclear accidents Aug. 30 with tougher provisions for making suppliers accountable for defective equipment and capping damages payable by plant operators. The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill gives reactor operators the right to seek damages from companies providing defective or sub-standard technology.

Tata Power plans to set up solar facilities with a capacity of 300MWs by 2013, the company said July 7. This is part of India's plan to increase the nation's grid-connected solar capacity to 1,000MWs by 2013 and 20,000MWs by 2022 from 10MWs currently.

Wind Power
The company has 200MWs of operating wind-power capacity in Gujarat. Maharashtra and Karnataka states and has placed an order for 150MWs of additional capacity to be set up in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, according to an Aug. 12 statement. India's economy grew at the fastest pace in 2 1/2 years in the three months ended June 30, increasing demand for power. Utilities in the country added 3,368MWs of electricity generating capacity in the four months to July 31, missing the target of 7,302MWs for the period, according to the Central Electricity Authority's website.

India seeks to add 78,700MWs of electricity-generating capacity in the five years ending March 2012 and another 100,000MWs in the following five years to help reduce blackouts. "There is a big gap in power and whoever fills that gap first benefits", said Alex Mathews, head of research at Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services Ltd. The country's generation capacity was 163,670MWs as of July 31, according to the website of the Central Electricity Authority.

Mundra Capacity
The $4.2 billion Mundra plant in Gujarat is one of the ultra mega power projects, each of 4,000MW capacity, that the government wants built to help reduce the shortage of electricity in the country. The company expects 1,600MWs from Mundra to be added by March 2012 and 2,400MWs a year later, taking the utility's total capacity to 8,242MWs, according to the presentation to analysts.

Reliance Power plans, which has generation assets of 1,000MWs, plans to add more than 3,000MWs by March 2012 and is building a total of 33,780MWs. Chief Executive Officer Jayarama Chalasani said Dec. 29, without giving a completion date. The company's projects include three plants of 4,000MWs each. NTPC. India's biggest power producer, currently has 32,194MWs of capacity, including plants in joint ventures, and is targeting generation of 75,000MWs by March 2017.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Somerset councils call EDF nuclear plans 'unacceptable'
7 September 2010

Two Somerset councils have called the latest plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point "unacceptable" and "completely inadequate". West Somerset District Council and Somerset County Council have both criticised a lack of detail in EDF Energy's proposals. They have highlighted the "poor" worker transport and accommodation plans. EDF Energy said the criticism was "quite unfair" but accepted there was more work to do to flesh out the plans. The two councils are considering their responses to the second round of consultation which ends on 4 October.

'Purchasing consent'
West Somerset leader Tim Taylor said: "We are very unhappy about the way EDF Energy has consulted local communities and responded to government guidelines. "EDF Energy are consulting on their terms and we the councils are trying to defend our local communities on our terms and it's very difficult to make the two meet". He said more research needed to be done on the impact of taking local skilled workers out of their normal jobs for the site's construction and the effect the power station would have on tourism and the housing market.

Mr Taylor added that the energy company had not taken into consideration the local viewpoint, saying EDF Energy had proposed the bare minimum to build and operate two nuclear reactors. But David Eccles from EDF Energy said: "I don't think 10,000 pages is a minimum amount of detail". He added: "I know there's more to do, particularly on the accommodation and transport strategy, but I think we have made a huge contribution to the debate and we've got an awful lot of information out there in which people can provide a response". He said the energy company did not need to build affordable housing to be able to build power stations and that EDF Energy must be careful not to be seen to be "purchasing consent".

China sailing ahead in offshore wind power
Sept. 8, 2010

Chinese energy companies are expected to submit bids Friday for four offshore wind power projects with a total installed capacity of 1,000MWs, representing a combined investment of $3.06 billion, China Daily reports. The proposed projects follow on the heels of the 102-MW, $337 million Donghai Bridge Wind Farm. China's first major offshore initiative, which began transmitting power to the national grid in July. The project consists of 34 turbines, each with a 3-MW capacity.

While China recently overtook Germany as the second largest wind power developer after the United States, offshore offers a huge potential. "China has the largest wind resources in the world, and three-quarters of them are offshore", Barbara Finamore, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Beijing office, told Scientific American. China has an estimated offshore wind power potential of more than 750GWs, far greater than the country's land-based wind potential of 253GWs. "Construction of offshore wind power projects will be one focus of China's wind power industry in the future. As the country boasts rich offshore wind power resources. China has great potential in this field", Shi Lishan, deputy director of the new energy department under the National Energy Administration told China Daily.

Most of China's proposed farms would be intertidal -- in which the base of the turbine is covered at high tide and uncovered at low tide -- as is Donghai Bridge Wind Farm in the East China Sea near Shanghai. Proposed offshore wind farms in Europe, by contrast, are planned mostly in deep water, about 164 feet deep. While Donghai's capacity is now equivalent to just 1% of Shanghai's total power production of about 18,200MWs, it is expected to eventually generate 267 millionkW-hours of electricity annually, enough to power 200,000 households in the city. The New York Times reports.

Donghai's completion was expedited with funds from the Chinese Communist Party, news reports say, so that it could be ready in time for 2010 Shanghai World Expo. By contrast, the first offshore wind farm in the United States. Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts received approval from the Obama administration in April, after nearly a decade-long permitting path. The project still faces potential regulatory and judicial obstacles.

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, prior to announcing the creation in June of the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium, said it takes 7 to 9 years for an offshore wind project in the United States to obtain approval. "What the U.S, doesn't realise", said Peggy Liu, founder and chairwoman of the Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy, is that China "is going from manufacturing hub to the clean-tech laboratory of the world", the Times said.

UK wind power hits record generation output
Sep 7, 2010

(Reuters) - Britain's wind farms hit record power output levels on Monday and at peak period was generating the same amount of electricity as almost four nuclear power stations, according to energy network operator National Grid. National Grid said 1,860MWs was being generated briefly on Monday night at 1930 GMT, mostly from Scotland, which accounted for 4.7% of total generation. A single nuclear power station in Britain generates around 500MWs. "And over the 24 hours on Monday... wind generated 5% of all electricity", National Grid said on Tuesday. "National Grid also believes that if embedded wind generation is taken into account, about 10% of Britain's power was generated by wind yesterday".

National Grid data showed gas-fired power stations accounts for around half of all electricity generation currently, with coal around a 32%, nuclear around 15% and wind dropping from Monday evening highs to 2.2%. Electricity from wind generation is also forecast to fall further, to less than half of Monday's peaks at 800MWs on Tuesday night and less than a quarter at under 300MWs on Wednesday night. Britain's wind power generation is still below other European countries such as Spain, which supplied half its domestic demand during a windy New Year period in January.

Kenya Plans to produce 3,000 megawatts of cleaner electricity by 2018
Sep 8, 2010

Kenya, east Africa's biggest economy, plans to produce 3,000MWs of electricity from green sources over the next eight years, according to a statement in the Nairobi-based Daily Nation newspaper. Most of the electricity will be generated from geothermal and wind projects. Edward Njoroge, Managing Director of Kenya Electricity Generating Co., the nation's biggest electricity producer, said today in the statement. KenGen, as it is known, will inaugurate a 5.1MW wind power project in Ngong, 18 kilometers (11 miles) north of the capital Nairobi. Njoroge said, "We embarked on this project in 2007 after the signing of a commercial agreement between KenGen and TPF-Econoler SA of Belgium for a grid connected wind farm", he said.

In July 2009 KenGen said construction of the first phase, with a capacity of 5.1MWs powered by six turbines, was financed with a 10 million-euro loan from Belgium. KenGen plans to increase its wind power capacity in Ngong to 25.5MWs by the end of 2012, he said. Sourcing of companies to be awarded two separate contracts of 6.8MWs and 13.6MWs is underway, he added. The 6.8MWs project will be funded using a loan from Belgium while the 13.6MWs project will be financed through a 20 million-euro loan from Spain, Njoroge said.

Monday 13 September 2010

Germany to keep reactors going

Canberra Times
Tuesday 7/9/2010 Page: 7

Germany is to extend the life of its nuclear reactors by 12 years on average after marathon talks on the controversial issue that will shape the energy policy of Europe's top economy. The decision yesterday followed 12 hours of talks between senior politicians. It means some of the country's 17 nuclear plants will now be operational until the 2030s. Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said the lives of older plants will be extended by eight years and those of newer ones by 14 years. Nuclear utilities would have to pay part of their extra profits boosted by the extension to develop renewable energy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schroeder had decided to mothball the reactors by about 2020. But Ms Merkel wanted to postpone the shutdown as part of a new "energy concept" for cabinet consideration on September 28. Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said, "We have together found a way to take Germany forward". But Greenpeace, other environmental groups and Germany's Green Party criticised the decision. Greenpeace accused the Chancellor of yielding to the powerful nuclear power lobby, a charge echoed by an increasingly confident opposition.

And Austria's Environment Minister Niki Berlakovich termed it a "hard blow for the... development of renewable energy. "The future of energy supplies lies indisputably in renewable energy", he said. "In any case, nuclear power will not answer the problems related to climate or be a solution to reducing carbon emissions". Ms Merkel called the extension a "bridge" until renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power could produce more of Germany's power as it sought to reduce dependence on coal.

A debate has raged in the country and in government over how long to extend the life of the reactors and what price to exact from the energy industry, which stands to benefit from the move. Support for Ms Merkel's coalition has tumbled in recent opinion polls and surveys suggested most Germans opposed the idea of postponing the date that the country goes nuclear-free. The Chancellor, a former environment minister, earlier hinted she preferred an extension of 10-15 years, calling it "technically reasonable"

But not everyone in her squabbling coalition agreed. A government-commissioned report last month ended inconclusively, but did outline how high were the stakes. It said without nuclear power Germany could forget about its target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% in 2050 from 1990 levels. Another item in the mix is the debate over how to make energy companies such as RATE. Vattenfall and E.ON pay for the extension of their plants and ensure a greater contribution to Germany's energy output from renewable sources.

As part of an 80 billion euros ($A112.5 billion) austerity program for the period 2011 to 2014, the Government wanted to tap energy Runs in exchange for keeping their plants open longer. But the utility companies are putting all their considerable lobbying powers into resisting such a levy and the nuclear tax was not in the austerity package the cabinet approved on Wednesday. Ms Merkel has a tricky challenge on her hands, as she needs to ensure any draft law would not be subject to approval in the Bundesrat upper house, where she lost her majority earlier this year.

Severn green energy project loses government funding - Government pulls plug on funds for 10-mile tidal barrage
5 September 2010

The government will this month sound the death knell for the world's largest tidal energy project – to be built across the Severn estuary between Somerset and south Wales – when it rules out public funding for the controversial £20bn plan. The announcement will please some environmentalists, who were worried about the impact on bird life in the estuary, but others say such spending cuts will make a mockery of David Cameron's pledge to be the "greenest government ever". The private sector is unlikely to back the 10-mile tidal barrage, which would be able to provide 5% of the UK's electricity, without government money.

In a report to be published this month, ministers will recommend that further feasibility studies be carried out for one of four much smaller projects, which would cost about £3bn. But they will give no guarantee that the selected option will go ahead. "It will make pretty depressing reading," said one source who has seen the report.

It is understood that a consortium is trying to raise finance for the project, which would also create direct road and rail links across the estuary and a 1.5km lake. But a spokesman for the Severn Tidal Power Group (STPG), a consortium made up of Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and Taylor Woodrow, admitted it was unlikely that developers would foot the estimated £250m cost of getting a project to the planning stage because of the risk it would be refused.

MPs will table a cross-party motion this week calling on the government to pay a £60m grant promised before the election that is vital for the UK's hopes of becoming a major wind turbine manufacturing centre. The money would go to a selected port to allow it to upgrade its infrastructure – raising bridges, for example, to allow giant turbines to be transported and shipped for installation off the UK coast. Siemens and General Electric are planning to build several turbine factories in the UK, and these plans are conditional on the port upgrade going ahead, as are possible plans by Mitsubishi to build its own facility. Trade body RenewableUK estimates that the port upgrade would create a total of 50,000 jobs.

Doug Parr of Greenpeace said: "Without the right leadership and investment, this will not be the greenest government ever. And there's no way we'll see a sustainable low-carbon economy without the necessary support for our renewable industry. Other clean energy projects must not face the same axe as the Severn barrage."

Undamaged turbines set to go again

Hobart Mercury
Wednesday 8/9/2010 Page: 14

THE two undamaged wind turbines on the Marine Board building are expected to be spinning again by early next week. Two of the four turbines were still to be repaired after they failed in early August, causing $100,000 worth of damage. Eight clays after the failure Workplace Standards Tasmania ordered the two undamaged turbines to be shut down until it was satisfied they were safe.

Bruce Lipscombe, I Want Energy director of engineering, said his workers had been on the building rooftop yesterday doing some final structural tests before submitting reports to Workplace Standards. "We are hoping to have everything finalised by the end of this week or early next week", Mr Liscombe said. "We are just signing off on some metallurgy tests that are being done... to make sure all the welds and joins are fine. "They appear visually to be, but we are X-raying and ultrasounding them anyway just to make sure".

He said the reports had been conducted by independent companies. "We have been engaged to repair the turbines, but we engage other companies to give us independent reports", he said. Mr Liscombe said parts for the damaged turbines were still on the way from overseas. He said turbines for the ANZ Building would still be installed, as planned, at the end of this month.

Workplace Standards Tasmania general manager Roy Ormerod said he had been waiting on the results of the tests. "I have been a little surprised because I thought the two undamaged ones would be back up and running pretty quickly", he said. "But obviously they are making sure everything is all right and we are happy with that because we do not want a repeat of what happened last time".