Wednesday 18 April 2012

Cape Wind picks contractors for wind farm
April 12, 2012

BOSTON, April 12 (UPI) Cape Wind has selected a joint venture team of Flatiron Construction Corp., Cal Dive International, Inc, and Cashman Equipment Corp, as its construction contractor to build a wind power facility off Massachusetts' Nantucket Island. The offshore renewable energy project stirred fierce community debate, partly because of expected impact on the scenic beauty of an area visible from Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and because of fears of prices of the electricity generated at the wind farm. Construction of the wind turbines is due to begin next year.

Cape Wind President Jim Gordon said the project would "create hundreds of jobs in the region". Boston company Cashman Equipment Corp, was picked as it is one of the leading providers of floating marine equipment in the United States and provides floating marine equipment worldwide, Cape Wind said. Flatiron Construction Corp, operates from Colorado and Cal Dive International, Inc., an offshore energy marine construction and manned diving firm, has headquarters in Houston.

Cape Wind will reduce wholesale electric prices for the New England region by $7.2 billion over 25 years, a report by Charles River Associates economic consulting firm said. The report explained that ISO New England, the electric grid operator, first dispatches electric generating units with the lowest cost fuel. Since Cape Wind's fuel, wind, is zero cost, the report states that Cape Wind will displace higher priced and polluting fossil fueled units resulting in average savings of $286 million per year in New England. "This report makes it clear that Cape Wind will save electric consumers billions of dollars through price suppression while also creating jobs and helping promote cleaner air and greater energy independence", Cape Wind's communications director Mark Rodgers said.

The Charles River Associates' updated report was commissioned by Cape Wind and released last month. The original report was published in 2010. The increase in price suppression in the report update was attributed primarily to an increase in power plant retirements and a larger price difference between natural gas and fuel oil. Price suppression in wholesale electric markets occurring as a result of wind power projects has been documented in Europe and in several U.S, power markets, the report said.

Despite supporting research, controversy over the Cape Wind project continues, especially over price projections for the wind farm's electricity generation. Cape Wind is already contracting to sell part of the electricity that it won't supply to National Grid. Last month, utility company NStar agreed to purchase 27.5% of Cape Wind's energy. Supporters for the renewable energy project say higher costs may be balanced by gains made by the project's environmental credentials. "These numbers don't even take into account the added economic and societal value of avoided greenhouse gas emissions", Sue Reid, director of the Conservation Law Foundation told The Boston Globe, citing recent controversy over electricity prices.

Sinovel agrees to supply $1 billion Agaoglu wind farm in Turkey
Apr 11, 2012

Sinovel Co. agreed to supply equipment to a $1 billion Turkish wind farm developed by Agaoglu Group as China's biggest wind turbine maker boosts orders overseas. Sinovel will supply parts including wind turbine towers and generators for the 600 MW project, according to a statement from Agaoglu, an Istanbul-based company with interests in construction, tourism and energy. Terms were not disclosed.

Chinese companies including Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co, plan to expand abroad to combat a slowing home market after a tighter government approval process for new projects raised competition. Goldwind Science & Technology Co, China's second-largest turbine-maker, bought two wind farms in Montana this year and will supply projects in Chile. Sinovel signed a pact to work with Greece's Public Power Corp, on wind last year.

Sinovel, based in Beijing, "looked positively" on an invitation to base part of the production in Turkey, according to the statement published on the company's website yesterday. The project's investment value is $1 billion, the company said. Turkey, which seeks to generate 30% of its power from renewable sources by 2023, needs to develop clean energy at a faster pace, Agaoglu Chairman Ali Agaoglu said in the statement.

The nation, which is seeking to curb emissions while reducing dependence on energy imports, installed 470 MWs of wind power last year, according to European Wind Energy Association data. It had 1,799 MWs of wind in total at the end of 2011, according to the Brussels-based industry group. Agaoglu Group targets power capacity of at least 1,000 MWs by 2015 and holds licenses for as much as 700 MWs of wind, Agaoglu said early March. The company was in the "final stages" of talks with eight energy and private-equity investors to sell 147 MWs of wind plants, he said at the time.

NSW Government undermines election promise on renewable energy
12 Apr 2012

Calls by the NSW Government to abondon Australia's 20% Renewable Energy Target (RET) undermine a key state election commitment as well as putting billions of dollars of renewable energy investment at risk, the Clean Energy Council said today. Clean Energy Council acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the timing of NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher's comments this morning was strange, given IPART's price determination today showed renewable energy such as wind and solar would contribute nothing to the projected NSW power hikes for the coming year.

"Page 3 of today's IPART report clearly states that 'green schemes' such as wind and solar are not responsible for any increase in electricity prices for the next financial year, Mr Thornton said. "This is a case of short term politics trumping important long-term change that will benefit everyone, and it's a knee jerk reaction that is bad for investment and bad for jobs. You can't just turn major policies on and off like a light switch", he said.

Mr Thornton said removing the RET would seriously impact the viability of billions of dollars of projects that have already been built, and undermine the massive future opportunity for jobs and investment from clean energy in NSW into the future. "It's a worrying sign that the NSW Government would seek the removal of one of Australia's most significant energy policies without considering the impact this would have on investors who have put billions of dollars into clean energy projects in NSW. The RET is scheduled to run until 2030 and these projects would face collapse if it was removed", he said.

"Mr Hartcher says he remains committed to growing renewable energy at least cost to consumers. The policy that does this is the Renewable Energy Target, which was introduced by the Howard Government in 2001 and expanded with the support of both major parties in 2009. "It is hard to see how the NSW Government could meet its election commitment on delivering 20% of the state's electricity from renewable energy without this policy. "This is a policy that will deliver more than 30,000 jobs and $20 billion in investment. Companies have already invested more than $700 million in NSW wind farms alone under the Renewable Energy Target".

Monday 16 April 2012

US grabs lead over China in clean energy race
12 Apr 2012,

WASHINGTON (AFP)-The United States has regained the lead in the clean energy race, investing $48 billion last year to surpass China, which held the world's top spending spot since 2009, said a study Wednesday. The US surge in private investment was a 42% increase over 2010 and saw Washington maintain its lead worldwide in both venture capital and research and development cash, said the Pew Research Center Charitable Trusts annual report on clean energy.

However, the US boom was largely driven by expiring tax incentives, highlighting "a persistent phenomenon in which the country fails to deploy into the marketplace the clean energy innovations it creates in the laboratory", it said. China, which fell to second, invested $45.5 billion last year, a one% increase over 2010, but maintained its global lead in wind power investment and in solar manufacturing, said the report.

Experts say a key difference between the United States and China is in how they attract investment--China by having solid green energy policies that reassure investors and the United States by offering tax breaks for investment. "China has been able to fuel its growth by having very consistent and long-term policies in place that really tell investors there is an opportunity for them to make a profit", said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew Research Center's Clean Energy Program.

"The United States has no renewable energy target but they have decided to try and incentivize clean energy investment through a variety of tax incentives, tax credits, tax subsidies, loan guarantees", she told AFP.

Read More…

Australians embrace solar to tackle rising power bills
11 Apr 2012

Regional and lower-income Australians are leading the charge towards solar power as a way to address rising power bills, according to new data. Australia's top solar postcode at the end of 2011 was Dubbo in NSW, where more than a quarter of houses (28%) have now installed solar power. Close on its heels was Caloundra in Queensland, where more than 27% of homes have now gone solar. Clean Energy Council acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton said although the top solar postcode was in NSW, it was Queensland and South Australia that dominated the top 20 postcodes across the country.

"As well as being the sunshine state, the Queensland Government's solar scheme is the most generous in the country, while homeowners in South Australia rushed to install solar power systems in 2011 before the government reduced its support program", Mr Thornton said. The official data comes from the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator*, a statutory authority established by the Federal Government. It shows that while inner-city suburbs often have some of the lowest rates of solar installation, those in regional areas and lower-income suburbs, retirement belts and some coastal regions have embraced solar in the highest numbers.

Mr Thornton said this suggested those most exposed to rising power bills were more likely to invest in a solar system. "With the price of panels now about a third what it was just three years ago, many people see solar power as a way to save on their energy bills as well as do something for the environment", he said. "We now have more than half a million solar power systems in Australia, but really we are just in the early stages of tapping in to the power of this technology. solar panels are fast becoming the Hills Hoist of the 21st Century". For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981.

The top 20 solar postcodes nationally** are as follows:
12830  Dubbo, NSW28.0%
24511  Caloundra QLD 27.3%
35211  Victor Harbor, McCracken, Hindmarsh Valley, SA25.9%
46208  Pinjarra, Oakley, Ravenswood, WA24.7%
55214  Currency Creek, Goolwa, Hindmarsh Island, SA24.7%
65173  Aldinga, Port Willunga, Silver Sands, SA24.1%
74280  Jimboomba, North & South Maclean, QLD23.9%
86069  Ellenbrook, Brigadoon, The Vines, WA23.8%
95158  Hallett Cove, Sheidow Park, SA23.6%
104208  Ormeau, Jacobs Well, QLD23.2%
114505  Burpengary, Burpengary East, QLD22.2%
124507  Bribie Island, QLD21.7%
132477  Alstonville, Rous, Meerschaum Vale, NSW21.2%
144165  Victoria Point, Redland Bay, Mt Cotton, QLD21.0%
154116  Calamvale, Drewvale, QLD21.0%
165169  Seaford, Moana  SA20.7%
175095  Mawson Lakes, Pooraka, SA20.5%
185251  Mount Barker, Bugle Ranges, SA20.5%
194133  Chambers Flat, Waterford, QLD20.2%
202486  Banora Point, Tweed Heads South, Bilambil, NSW20.0%

* The Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator was amalgamated into the Clean Energy Regulator on 2 April, 2012.
** Includes all suburbs or towns within the postcode.

UK clean energy pioneer to lead Clean Energy Council
11 Apr 2012

UK clean energy pioneer David Green is to lead the Clean Energy Council as its new Chief Executive Officer. Clean Energy Council Board Chairman Michael Fraser said Mr Green had been at the forefront of clean energy policy in the UK for more than two decades. "As Australia moves towards a clean energy future, the Clean Energy Council-under David's leadership-will play a significant role in working with governments and industry to develop the policy and practice that enables Australia to emerge as a key player in this field", Mr Fraser said.

Mr Green said it was an honour to be invited to lead the Clean Energy Council and to work with its experienced and talented team to deliver a vision for a sustainable energy future for Australia. "I have long admired the innovative ideas that Australian policy-makers and industry-in particular the membership of the CEC-have developed on energy efficiency and renewable energy, a number of which have positioned Australia as a leader, an innovator and an inspiration to the rest of the world", Mr Green said.

"As Australia and its international partners seek solutions to the challenges of securing clean, affordable energy, I look forward to the CEC growing as an effective advocate of the policies and action needed to secure a cleaner energy future". David Green worked as the founding Chief Executive of the UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy (UKBCSE) from 2001 to the start of this year, and is an Executive Director of the International Business Council for Sustainable Energy, whose members include the Clean Energy Council.

He has worked with the UK government on clean energy policy, energy efficiency and strategies for low-income households. As a regular visitor to Australia, he has advised various parts of the Victorian Government, as well as the US Department of Energy, the New Zealand Government and key institutions of the European Union. "I plan to develop a fresh vision for the organisation that builds on its work with the CEC's growing membership of more than 600 energy efficiency and clean energy businesses, ensuring clean energy is at the heart of policies for a secure, sustainable energy future for Australia", Mr Green said.