Tuesday 19 June 2012

Renewable Energy Systems may buy shares in offshore wind parks

15 Jun 2012

Renewable Energy Systems Ltd., a U.K, clean-power developer, may buy stakes in offshore wind projects as European governments seek to attract investment into the industry to curb carbon emissions and secure supply. "Our participation in investment in offshore projects in the future is an interesting area strategically that we'll look to get into", Chris Morgan, chief executive officer of the company's RES Southern Cross Offshore unit, said in an interview in London.

European countries are seeking to boost offshore wind even as they struggle to finance power-generating turbines, which cost about 3 million pounds ($4.7 million) a MW to build. The U.K, plans to lure pension and insurance money, after Danish and Dutch retirement funds took stakes in wind parks. RES Southern Cross Offshore offers development, engineering, construction and project management services for wind farms at sea, as well as project operations and maintenance, Morgan said. "In due course we'd very much like to be an investor in projects", he said, with the company taking minority stakes in ventures.

The RES Southern Cross unit has won the rights to develop a 500 MW offshore wind park off the coast of Brittany with Iberdrola SA and its other developments include working with U.K, utility Centrica Plc (CNA) on a 4.2 GW project in the Irish Sea. The industry has potential beyond the balance sheets of utilities and will need other investors, Morgan said. The U.K, plans 18 GWs of capacity by 2020 and Germany 10 GWs. France began a 6 GW program rolled out in the next decade.

RES Southern Cross, based in Hertfordshire, England, is also interested in developing offshore wind in the US, which currently hasn't any turbines at sea, Morgan said. The company has delivered more than 6.5 GWs of wind power in the UK, Ireland, France and Scandinavia and owns 750 MWs of onshore generation.

Vestas grabs wind turbines order for Putian Hanjiang Baihe wind park

12 Jun 2012

Vestas Wind Systems has received another order consisting of 24 units of the V90 2.0 MW turbine from China's largest developer, Long¥. This order from Long¥ follows a previous order for the Qiulu wind park earlier this year, and is solid proof of confidence in Vestas Wind Systems' V90 2.0 MW turbine's performance in the coastal areas with complex wind conditions. The turbines will be installed in the Hanjiang Baihe wind park in Putian County, Fujian Province.

The Baihe wind park is located in the south Asian tropical maritime climatic area, 12 km from the coast with an annual average wind speed of only 7 m/s at 80 metres height, but with occasional strong winds. Vestas Wind Systems' V90 2.0 MW turbines are not only able to deliver a high output under low wind conditions, but are able to withstand the strong winds and are therefore the preferred choice for the customer. Vestas Wind Systems has repeatedly verified the business case which was eventually presented to the customer by conducting thorough wind resource analyses several times in order to substantiate the performance and reliability of the V90 2.0 MW turbine.

Vestas Wind Systems China President Jens Tommerup says, "Vestas Wind Systems started to develop projects together with Long¥ in 2004 and we have since then further developed our offerings. Given our strong track record with the V80 2.0 MW turbines, we are pleased to have won the second Long¥ project using our V90 turbines, which are specifically equipped with a yaw backup system that enhances the protection of the turbines during typhoons. Upon completion of this project, our installed base with Long¥, China's most experienced developer, will have reached almost 330 MW in Fujian province".

The order includes supply of wind turbines, installation supervision and commissioning, a Vestas Wind Systems Online(R) SCADA system and a 3 year service and maintenance agreement.

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$257 billion invested in renewable energy in 2011

12 Jun 2012

Global investment in renewable energy reached a record of $257 billion last year, with solar attracting more than half the total spending, according to a UN report released Monday. Investment in solar power surged to $147 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 52% thanks to strong demand for rooftop photovoltaic installations in Germany, Italy, China and Britain.

Large-scale solar thermal installations in Spain and the United States also contributed to growth during a fiercely competitive year for the solar industry. Several large American and German manufacturers fell victim to price pressure from Chinese rivals that helped to halve the cost of photovoltaic modules in 2011. The report's authors said the demise of companies such as Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, Solar Millenium and Solon AG was a sign that the solar industry is maturing. "In 1903, the United States had over 500 car companies, most of which quickly fell by the wayside even as the automobile sector grew into an industrial juggernaut", the report said. "Today, the renewable energy sector is experiencing similar growing pains as the sector consolidates".

China was responsible for almost a fifth of the total investment volume, spending $52 billion on renewable energy last year. The United States was close behind with investments of $51 billion, as developers sought to benefit from government incentive programs before they expired. Germany, Italy and India rounded out the top five. Wind power investment slipped 12% to $84 billion due to uncertainty about energy policy in Europe and fewer new installations in China, according to the report.

Overall investment in renewable energy grew 17%, a slowdown from the 37% increase seen in 2010. Still, the head of the UN Environment Program claimed the latest figures were an indication that renewable energy is drawing level with fossil fuels in some markets. "These trends are real, they are substantive and they are transformative", Achim Steiner told reporters in a conference call.

The UN is hoping that countries will use an environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next week to commit to further investments in renewable energy, which covered just 16.7% of global energy consumption in 2010. Of this share, modern technologies such as solar and wind accounted for just 8.2%, less than the 8.5% contributed by biomass.

By comparison, more than 80% of electricity consumed worldwide still comes from fossil fuels that are blamed for a rise in carbon in the atmosphere. The UN report claims that solar panels installed in Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Australia can now compete with the retail cost of electricity in those countries, even as government feed-in subsidies are lowered. It noted that developing countries were also exploring the use of renewable energy other than hydroelectric, which has long been a popular source in poor countries.

Nations in East Africa are seeking to take advantage of the abundant geothermal capacity in the Rift Valley region. Kenya aims to meet half of its electricity needs with geothermal power by 2018. Djibouti, Eritrea, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are also exploring geothermal use.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Survey reveals overwhelming community support for wind farms

12 Jun 2012

COMMUNITY surveys by the Clean Energy Council show more than three-quarters of respondents support continued development of wind farms. Two-thirds of the 1200 people surveyed across Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales believed a farmer's right to generate income from their land was more important than a resident's right to a view without wind turbines.

More than 7 out of 10 said farmers should be able to do what they wanted with their land. A total of 41% said it was unlikely wind farms would create health problems for people living nearby and 18% said it was very unlikely. In another question response, 83% predicted health concerns would turn out to be nothing to worry about. The results were released by the lobby group as community debate continues about alleged health effects on people living near wind farms and environmental impacts, with the latest protests centred around a proposed 233 turbine wind farm near Penshurst.

According to the Clean Energy Council, which represents renewable energy companies, 25% of interviewees were from south-west Victoria, with much of the region's polling done around Macarthur and Port Fairy districts. A quarter of the participants were from Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, while the rest lived near wind farms zones. Results also showed 77% of respondents felt local communities and land owners should be able to make their own decisions about hosting wind farms, without interference from state politicians, and 49% felt some objectors were motivated by jealousy after missing out on income for hosting wind farm towers.

The council's policy director Russell Marsh said survey results showed how anti-wind farm activists were out of step with most of the community. "They don't mention the thousands of local people that have been employed by wind power", he said. "They don't mention the hundreds of farmers for whom wind turbines have been the difference between staying on the land and selling up.

"And they certainly don't mention the tens of millions of dollars that have been pumped into regional communities, helping sustain those areas missed by the mining boom". Mr Marsh said the Australian wind industry was committed to being as transparent and supportive as possible towards communities and appreciate concerns. "There are obviously real issues that will continue be debated", he said. "As with any new infrastructure there will always be some people who respond to wind farms with anger or anxiety".

Turbines arrive for Bull Hill wind site; advocates say wind farms great for state’s economy

12 Jun 2012

SEARSPORT, Maine--Workers unloading wind turbine components Tuesday morning at the Mack Point industrial port looked like busy ants as they toiled near the giant cylinders that will become the towers for the Bull Hill Wind Project in Hancock County. The $76 million project, developed by First Wind and expected to be completed in November, will include 19 turbines built on about 100 acres in Township 16 MD near Eastbrook. It should generate 34 MWs of power, or enough electricity for 18,000 homes.

And it's a good example of the way that wind projects add to the local and statewide economies, according to proud officials from First Wind, general contractor Reed & Reed and Sprague Energy, which runs the terminal. "We can't stress enough the economic benefits of these projects", Pat DeFilipp of Reed & Reed said at a wind-buffeted press conference on the bulk dock. "We'll spend 150,000 work hours on this project. That's several million dollars worth of payroll".

Behind him, the tower components that came from Denmark were gently raised off the cargo ship and then lowered onto flathed trucks. They'll be stored at Mack Point until the 165 foot-long turbine blades from Colorado are shipped to Maine by rail. Then, when the parts are all together, they will make the trek across Waldo and Hancock counties to the Bull Hill site for assembly. Members of the Land Use Regulation Commission unanimously voted in October--with one abstention--to give the green light for Maine's largest wind power company to build the rural Hancock County wind farm. It will be First Wind's fifth project in Maine.

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Solar win for AGL is loss for Moree

11 Jun 2012

THE federal government has switched its support for large-scale solar power away from a Spanish-backed venture, deciding to grant $130 million to rival AGL Energy venture. The Australian Financial Review reported Resources Minister Martin Ferguson announced the grant to AGL Energy and partner FirstSolar on Saturday in the revised tender for the government's $1.5 billion Solar Flagships Program. The partners are planning to build a $450 million,159 MW solar photovoltaic project at two NSW sites in Broken Hill and Nyngan. The decision means the future is highly uncertain for the $923 million solar project at Moree in northern NSW, which was to receive $306 million of federal funding.

Mr Ferguson reopened the grant tender in February after the Moree venture, led by Spain's Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and Pacific Hydro, missed a deadline. FRV resubmitted its bid, as did the three other shortlisted projects, by AGL Energy, TRUEnergy and an Infigen Energy Suntech Power consortium. But Mr Ferguson said the AGL Energy project "had the highest level of merit" in terms of value for money, low risk and commercial viability, which is assured by AGL Energy's binding contract to buy the power. The revised grant means Canberra has slashed its spending in this round of the Solar Flagship program. Mr Ferguson said the sharp drop in the cost of solar cells meant taxpayers' money could be spread further.