Thursday 19 January 2012

Power to the people: FNQ to India
18 Jan 2012

A PILOT project electrifying remote villages in India is tipped to expand into a multi-million dollar deal involving a Cairns electrical engineer. Grant Behrendorff, a director of Evolve Energy in Cairns, was a member of the team which developed and built a high quality model for electrifying remote Indian villages using solar power. The Bushlight India project, managed by Alice Springs based engineering firm CAT Projects, has received the highest accolade in the engineering profession in Australia, the Engineers Australia Sir William Hudson Engineering Excellence award.

The project was a $2 million Australian Government funded initiative. The model, based on more than 10 years of experience working in remote Aboriginal communities in Australia, was unique in India for its service philosophy of providing an agreed, assured amount of energy available all day and all night to all consumers. Mr Behrendorff was engaged by CAT Projects to develop and lead the Bushlight India project and was project director for the two year project. He is also an independent director on CAT Projects's board.

He said the project had led to CAT applying for funding from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to expand the solar power systems to other parts of India. "We've got quite a good chance of obtaining the funding", Mr Behrendorff said. He said the aim was to electrify 1000 villages in India but they might have to lower their sights and gradually build up over the next few years. Mr Behrendorff said he hoped initial funding might be approved in the next six months with an estimate of up to $20 million as the project developed.

He said the Bushlight India project was able to successfully develop and demonstrate an approach to rural electrification that had the potential to benefit millions of people, both in India and developing countries around the world. An important outcome of the project was the construction and commissioning of two centralised solar power stations in remote villages in the states of West Bengal and Orissa of about 100 houses and a further 15 small shops and community buildings for about 500 people.

Suzlon plans 3,000 MW wind power projects in A.P.
17 Jan 2012

Suzlon Energy, a leading wind turbine manufacturer, will develop wind power projects totalling 3,000 MW in Andhra Pradesh over the next four years, involving potential investment of up to Rs.18,000 crore.

The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the State Government as a part of the CII's Partnership Summit that concluded here on Friday in the presence of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy. As part of the MoU, the State Government would facilitate Suzlon Energy obtain necessary permissions, registrations, approvals and clearances for the development of the wind farms.

According to Suzlon Energy Group Chairman Tulasi Tanti, the MoU covered development of wind farms with development planned in Tallimadugula, Alankarayanipeta, Gandikota, Vajrakarur, Tirumalayapalli and other places. Andhra Pradesh was a key emerging market for wind power with medium to low wind sites suited to Suzlon Energy's new suite of turbines, he said.

Geothermal projects may make it in 2012
17 Jan 2012

DELAYED geothermal projects could make it across the line this year as two SA-focused companies move further toward producing power, the industry association says. Geothermal company GeoDynamics plans to drill its Habanero-4 well in the first financial quarter, taking it toward producing power to Innamincka. Australian Geothermal Energy Association chief executive Susan Jeanes said "this is the year the industry can prove itself"'.

She said the GeoDynamics project, that suffered a major setback with a well blowout at Habanero 3 well in 2009, would also work toward fracturing rocks to achieve circulation of super hot water for its 1 MW plant. SA geothermal company Petratherm has drilled a deep well at its Paralana project north of the Flinders Ranges and completed a successful fracture. This year it could manage to drill the second well needed to produce energy, but the company lost one of its joint venture partners, TRUEnergy, last year. Beach Energy remains a JV partner and operator of the project.

Ms Jeanes was upbeat about the industry saying if the drilling work was successful this year it could help lead the whole sector forward. "We expect, that given (GeoDynamics) successfully proved the concept with Habanero one and three that they will be successful with Habanero one and four because they are drilling into the same geological structure", she said. "That success at Innamincka will provide a huge boost of confidence in the sector, then the sector hopes that will be followed by a successful well at Paralana".

Petratherm managing director Terry Kallis said plans to begin drilling on a second deep well in the Paralana project were still on track for later this year despite TRUEnergy's exit. "We haven't changed our plans, we're still on track to look to drill later this year", Mr Kallis said. "There are a range of options that we will look for in terms of funding it (markets, government grants or joint venture partners)", he said. Research institutions had also banded together nationally, including University of Adelaide, to collaborate on research that could help geothermal companies de-risk exploration and project work.

"These institutions have the capabilities to support the development of geothermal projects, they have all banded together through a memorandum of understanding and are investigating options for significant funding support", Ms Jeanes said. "That can help take the risk out of identifying resources that can support commercially viable projects, if they can understand more about the resource, then that can help dramatically reduce exploration costs and also make sure areas aren't drilled where it's not a commercially viable resource".

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Global investment in clean energy hits record levels
14 Jan 2012

DESPITE the turbulence in the global economy, the world invested a record $251 billion in clean energy last year, with the US streaking ahead of China in green spending and boosting confidence among climate action advocates. New figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance showed the US spent $54 billion on clean energy, retaking the No. 1 spot it lost to China in 2009 and defying assumptions that the world's largest economy is flagging on greenhouse gas reductions. Australia also hit a record, spending $4.7 billion on clean energy in 2011, a jump of 11% on the previous year, mostly from increases in rooftop solar.

''Despite financial crisis, and even though carbon pricing schemes haven't developed quite the way they were expected to,.. investment keeps growing, which reflects the world view of many major economists that clean energy is going to be the major industrial driver of economic growth this century,'' said Kobad Bhavnagri, Bloomberg New Energy Finance's lead clean energy analyst in Australia.

He said Australia's investment was on track to rise to $6.8 billion next year and $45 billion by 2020, meeting the target of renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal making up 20% of energy supply. The indications of a rise in global investment in clean energy follows the pact by major greenhouse-emitting countries in Durban last month on a road map that would lead to a global climate change deal by 2015.

Erwin Jackson, deputy CEO of the Climate Institute, said: ''There are all these myths of the world not acting on climate change. All you have to do is follow the money.'' A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the government's clean energy package was meant to ensure Australia ''does not miss out on the benefits of clean energy investments''.

''US President Barack Obama has committed to a Clean Energy Standard, which will double the share of clean energy sources in the electricity supply mix to 80% by 2035, and individual states across the US are also taking action,.. US investment in renewable energy grew 33% to $55.9 billion in 2011. This level of investment is likely to grow as California introduces its own emissions trading scheme.'' Coalition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt said Australia would reach its target of 20% renewable energy even without the carbon tax.

''With the carbon tax, we will still only achieve 20% renewable energy by 2020 but, along the way, the ALP will impose over $100 billion of additional taxes on electricity, gas and groceries.''

Child leukaemia doubles near French nuclear plants-study
11 Jan 2012

Jan 11 (Reuters)-The incidence of leukaemia is twice as high in children living close to French nuclear power plants as in those living elsewhere in the country, a study by French health and nuclear safety experts has found. But the study, to be published soon in the International Journal of Cancer, fell short of establishing a causal link between the higher incidence of leukaemia, a type of blood cancer, and living near nuclear power plants. France has used nuclear power for three decades and is the most nuclear-reliant country in the world, with 75% of its electricity produced by 58 reactors.

The study, conducted by the French health research body INSERM, found that between 2002 and 2007, 14 children under the age of 15 living in a 5-km radius of France's 19 nuclear power plants had been diagnosed with leukaemia. This is double the rate of the rest of the country, where a total of 2,753 cases were diagnosed in the same period. "This is a result which has been checked thoroughly and which is statistically significant", said Dominique Laurier, head of the epidemiology research laboratory at France's nuclear safety research body (IRSN).

INSERM has carried out similar research with the IRSN since 1990, but has never before found a higher incidence of leukaemia in children living near nuclear power plants. "But we are working on numbers which are very small and results have to be analysed with a lot of care", said Laurier, one of the authors of the study. Laurier said the findings indicated no difference in risk between sites located by the sea or by rivers, nor according to the power capacity of the plant. The IRSN said it recommended a more thorough study of the causes of the leukaemia cases found near nuclear power stations and hoped to set up international research collaboration.

"It's a rare disease and working on a bigger scale would allow more stable results", said Laurier. A 35-year British study published last year found no evidence that young children living near nuclear power plants had an increased risk of developing leukaemia. The research, conducted by scientists on the Committee of the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE), found only 20 cases of childhood leukaemia within 5 km (3.1 miles) of nuclear power stations between 1969 and 2004.

The scientists said the rate was virtually the same as in areas where there were no nuclear plants. Studies have been conducted around the world into possible links between the risk of childhood blood cancers and living near nuclear plants. A study on Germany, published in 2007, did find a significantly increased risk, but the COMARE team said these findings were probably influenced by an unexplained leukaemia cluster near a nuclear plant in Krummel, north Germany, that lasted from 1990 to 2005. Excluding Krummel, evidence for an increased leukaemia risk among young children living close to German nuclear power plants was "extremely weak", it said.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Wind Power closes NY Hydrogen fuel loop
11 Jan 2012

Hempstead, N.Y., launched the first hydrogen fueling station on Long Island more than two years ago, but it turns out that was just an initial step toward sustainably powering fuel-cell vehicles in its fleet. Now Hempstead has added a 100 kW ( kW) capacity wind turbine to the mix, giving it the ability to create hydrogen fuel without sucking power from the grid.

According to the US Department of Energy (DOE)-which funded the $615,000, 121-foot-tall turbine through a Recovery Act grant-Hempstead had been using about 200,000 kW-hours of grid electricity, most of which comes from fossil fuel sources, to run an electrolyzer to generate hydrogen for the fuel station. In its assessment of the project, the DOE said the turbine should be able to generate enough electricity to replace that grid-purchased power. And that possibility had the town's political leadership waxing poetic.

"The answer to clean and renewable energy is 'blowin' in the wind,'" town Supervisor Kate Murray said in a statement. "This wind turbine is creating renewable energy, saving money, conserving natural resources and building an environmentally responsible legacy for our children and our children's children".

Hempstead calls itself a town, but it's no small burg; it has a population around 750,000. And it has green ambitions that are every bit as large. The wind-to-hydrogen system is just one part of a larger Clean Energy Project at Point Lookout, 35 miles southeast of Midtown Manhattan. There's also a shellfish nursery powered by a 2.4 kW wind turbine and two 5- kW solar arrays; a 10- kW solar array on the roof of the Administration Building; and a zero-energy solar home built by the New York Institute of Technology.

The fuel station itself has several elements, as well, providing pure hydrogen, compressed natural gas (CNG) or a blend of hydrogen and compressed natural gas (HCNG). Toyota has provided two fuel-cell hybrid vehicles valued at around $100,000 for use by the town. The blended hydrogen/compressed natural gas fuels a new shuttle bus that's used for a senior program, and a Ford E450 shuttle bus, supplied by CNG company Clean Vehicle Solutions, has been "upfitted to run on natural gas and calibrated to run on the HCNG fuel", according to the town.

All that, and Hempstead isn't done: The town received a total of $4.6 million in grants from the DOE, and has further renewable energy plans unfolding, with the money financing the construction of a "60K (we assume they mean kW) solar field, two solar trackers, a solar-powered carport and a geothermal energy project that will address heating and cooling needs at the town's Conservation and Waterways facility".

And while Hempstead seems to be doing just fine on the clean energy front already, it could be in for more support from the state. According to the state's League of Conservation Voters, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent State of the State speech put new emphasis on clean energy and the environment.

"For too long, New York has sat idly by as its sustainability challenges mounted", Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement. "Governor Cuomo made a serious commitment to caring for our natural resources, rebuilding vital infrastructure and transitioning to a clean-energy future".

The league said it was particularly heartened by the governor's vow to facilitate the growth of wind power through a new "Energy Highway" that will connect wind farms with population centers, and his commitment to double the amount of solar power capacity in New York by the end of the year and quadrupling it by 2013 through the NY-Sun Program.

Gamesa opens wind power blade-manufacturing factory in India
11 Jan 2012

Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA (GAM), Europe's second-largest wind turbine maker, opened a turbine blade-manufacturing plant in India as part of a plan to boost production in the wind power market. The company, with about 30 factories worldwide, started production at Vadodara in the western state of Gujarat after an investment of 25 million euros ($32 million), it said today in a statement. The facility, which created 157 jobs, will primarily supply India's northern states.

The factory is part of a 60 million-euro investment plan announced by Zamudio, Spain-based Gamesa in March to strengthen its manufacturing base in India to tap rising demand in the country's wind market. India now accounts for 20% of the MWs it sells around the world after almost tripling in a year, it said. Gamesa has been manufacturing in India since early 2010, when it opened a facility to assemble nacelles. Last year, it opened a wind tower factory in a joint venture and plans to start another nacelle plant in Tamil Nadu.

France eyes gateway to wind energy market
11 Jan 2012

  • France to run first offshore wind farms from 2015
  • Bidding consortiums have handed offers to regulator CRE
  • First phase for 3 GW, to double to 6 GW by 2020
  • Project seen as opportunity to create new French industry

PARIS, Jan 11 (Reuters)-Three consortiums of mainly French groups are bidding to build France's first offshore wind parks in a massive project to lessen the country's reliance on nuclear power and establish it as a leading player in the booming market for wind power. GDF Suez, EDF Energy unit EDF Energies Nouvelles and Spain's Iberdrola are eyeing slices of five wind parks with as many as 600 turbines and 3 GWs ( GW) of capacity in a 10 billion-euro ($12.8 billion) first phase off the Normandy and Brittany coasts. At stake is the chance to develop French clout and expertise and close the gap with other European countries as demand soars for offshore wind farms in Europe. The industry could also take off in emerging markets such as China.

France's contribution to offshore wind power is limited to Areva Wind's 5 MW ( MW) M5000 turbines being used in the North Sea. French engineering company Alstom hopes to launch a rival 6 MW turbine-know as the Haliade-in 2014. Alstom is part of the group led by EDF Energies Nouvelles, which is betting on the Haliade turbine, which with a diameter of 153 metres-roughly half the height of the Eiffel tower-is the world's largest offshore wind turbine. "When you look at the European market, there is space for many more than two new French turbines", said Philippe Kavafyan, vice president of Areva Wind in France, a unit of French nuclear group Areva.

France has lagged behind in developing a market for solar power as well as onshore wind turbines, compared with countries like Germany, Spain or Denmark. Even with its new offshore wind project it has a lot of catching up to do, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) report published in November. The report showed that total installed offshore wind capacity in Europe in 2020 would be 40 GW, compared with less than 3 GW at the end of 2010. Britain already has current and planned projects for 47 GW with Germany on 31 GW. The EWEA estimates that between 2021 and 2030, the offshore market for wind turbines annually could grow from 7.8 GW to 13.7 GW in 2030.

New Player
France launched the tender last July under plans to meet 23% of energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. A second phase, for which the tender opens in April before French presidential elections, would double capacity to 6 GW by 2020 and lift total investment to 20 billion euros. "Obtaimng a critical mass to develop abroad is hard when there's no domestic market", EDF Energies Nouvelles Chief Executive David Corchia said. France's goal of doubling capacity by 2020 would lay the basis for the industry to grow, Corchia said.

But the euro zone crisis could raise questions about the timing of such investments. Areva Wind's Kavafyan said that whereas typically in the past loans would be shouldered by groups of around 10 banks, that figure had risen to 25-30. "There is still a lot of appetite despite the economic situation", Corchia said, adding that many banks had expressed interest in projects due to start construction in 2016-18.

French Jobs
EDF Energies is bidding for four out of five parks in the first phase in a consortium with Denmark's DONG Energy, a leading developer of offshore wind parks. Areva Wind is eyeing all five as part of one consortium led by Spain's largest power utility, Iberdrola, and another led by French utility GDF Suez. GDF will make four bids, including one with German engineering group Siemens. Areva and Alstom said they plan to build factories creating thousands of jobs if they win two or three of the five offers, and ultimately hope they can export to the UK, the biggest offshore wind market,

PricewaterhouseCoopers analyst Alexis Chauffert-Yvart said the European market for offshore wind power could reach 40 GW by 2020, up from an estimated 3 GW in 2010. "If France misses this boat, it would have an impact on the possibilities of taking part in the development of marine renewable energy technologies, which is an important market", he said. "So this is an important phase". ($1 = 0.7826 euros)