Thursday 30 August 2012

Report warns of India nuclear power safety
23 Aug 2012

NEW DELHI, Aug. 23 (UPI)--An Indian government auditing agency criticized India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board for not being truly autonomous and for its lack of a radiation safety policy. India's Comptroller and Auditor General, in a report released Wednesday, warned that a Fukushima or Chernobyl-like disaster could occur in India if the government doesn't address nuclear safety, NDTV reports.

While AERB is responsible for supervising safety issues for the plants, it doesn't have power to make rules, enforce compliance or impose penalty in cases of nuclear safety oversight, the report states. No legislative framework is in place for decommissioning of nuclear power plants, says CAG. Furthermore, AERB doesn't have a mandate other than the prescribing of codes, guides and safety manuals on decommissioning.

The report says that in the 13 years since AERB's safety manual was issued, "none of the nuclear power plants in the country, including those operating for 30 years, and those which had been shut down, had any decommissioning plan". India's 20 nuclear plants have an installed capacity of 4,780 MWs. The government aims to generate 20,000 MWs of power from nuclear power by 2020. But proposed construction sites have faced fierce opposition from locals and activists.

The auditing agency also said that AERB had no radiation safety policy in place. "At the policy level, AERB has not yet prepared a radiation safety policy even after three decades of its existence. Standard setting is an essential part of the functions of a regulatory authority", the report said. AERB Secretary R. Bhattacharya told the publication Livemint that "there's no document that says 'Radiation Safety Policy,' but we have detailed codes and guides on managing ionising and non-ionising radiation". "It's at the core of what we do", Bhattacharya said.

Independent experts say changes are necessary at AERB. "The formation of AERB has never been an open, transparent process", Livemint quoted M.P. Ram Mohan, a fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute and a nuclear policy researcher, as saying. "Also, a law to manage hazardous nuclear waste has been in draft discussions for years now. Hopefully, CAG's report could trigger some action".

NTPC, the country's largest power producer, separately announced this week that it has put on hold its plans to set up nuclear power projects jointly with Nuclear Power Corporation of India, reports The Hindu newspaper. An unnamed NTPC official in The Hindu report said around 40 engineers from NPCIL's Mumbai office who were being trained to build nuclear plants have been relocated to NTPC's thermal power plants.

Electricity prices spark welcome political collaboration

Clean Energy Council
23 Aug 2012

Today's inquiry into Australia's rising electricity prices is welcome news for both consumers and the clean energy industry, according to the Clean Energy Council. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive David Green said rising electricity prices could only be addressed through political collaboration and a genuine will to address the issue in good faith for the benefit of all consumers.

"The news that all sides of politics will work together on this issue is extremely welcome. There is no silver bullet solution to rising power bills, but the kinds of steps that we have seen in Parliament today are very much in the right direction", Mr Green said.

The Australian Parliament also passed the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Bill today and a progress report was released on the National Energy Savings Initiative-a policy designed to help consumers save on their bills through and reduce peak electricity demand.

Mr Green said energy efficiency was one of the most effective policy solutions that governments could introduce to both reduce emissions and protect consumers from rising electricity bills.

"Although all sides of politics recognise the value of using energy more efficiently, the devil is well and truly in the detail. Brokering a coordinated national solution to energy efficiency across jurisdictions remains a substantial challenge, but it was extremely heartening to see bipartisan support for today's Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Bill in the Parliament", he said.

Mr Green said a smarter energy system was required which empowered consumers to make more efficient use of the power we all need to use. "The inquiry is a great opportunity for the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors to drive real change in the market, removing the barriers in the national framework to their ongoing development".

Wave energy facility operational
22 Aug 2012

(US) NEWPORT — One of the first public wave energy testing systems in the United States began operation this week off the Oregon coast near Newport. It will allow private industry and academic researchers to test new technology. The Ocean Sentinel is a $1.5 million device developed by the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, or NNMREC, at Oregon State University.

OSU described it as "a major step forward for the future of wave energy" and said it should do its first testing within days — a "WetNZ" device developed by private industry.

The mobile wave energy test device will be used by many companies and academic researchers in the quest to develop wave energy technology, measure and understand the wave resource, and study the energy output and other important issues, OSU said.

"The Ocean Sentinel will provide a standardized, accurate system to compare various wave energy technologies, including systems that may be better for one type of wave situation or another," said Sean Moran, ocean test facilities manager with NNMREC.

"We have to find out more about which technologies work best, in what conditions, and what environmental impacts there may be," Moran said. "We're not assuming anything. We're first trying to answer the question, 'Is this a good idea or not?' And if some technology doesn't work as well, we want to find that out quickly, and cheaply, and the Ocean Sentinel will help us do that."

Experts say that, unlike some alternative energy forms such as wind power, it's probable that no one technology will dominate the wave energy field.

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Polymer-based organic solar cells set world record in efficiency
22 Aug 2012

We can preach about the environmental benefits of solar power all we want, but until it costs the same as fossil fuels, we're not going to see energy companies tearing up oil fields to erect solar farms.

The good news is that the quest for cheaper solar power just took a giant leap forward: Chinese researchers set a new world record in power conversion efficiency for polymer-based organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells. The 9.31% efficiency was certified by the Newport Technology & Application Center's Photovoltaic Lab in Long Beach, Calif.

Unlike traditional, rigid solar cells, organic solar cells are made from flexible polymer. Instead of bulky wires, polymer solar cells use organic electronics, a branch of electronics that deals with conductive organic polymers or small organic molecules. As a result, OPV is lightweight, has a better performance in low light and is easier to manufacture, making it a potentially cost-effective renewable energy technology on par with current conventional energy technologies. Organic solar cells do not require exotic and toxic materials, so the final solar cell is nontoxic, an important factor for end-of-lifetime disposal or recycling.

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Monday 27 August 2012

BOC to fuel Scotland s first fleet of hydrogen buses

BOC, the industrial gases and clean energy business, is to provide the refuelling technology for Scotland s first fleet of hydrogen-powered buses. The project, which includes funding from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, the Technology Strategy Board and the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, aims to have 10 buses operating on the streets of Aberdeen by 2014.

Launching the programme at Aberdeen s Marischal Hall, Scotland s First Minister Alex Salmond said, Hydrogen buses will produce zero local emissions. Aberdeen is already Europe s offshore energy capital and this exciting new project can help position it as a leading city for low carbon technology and green transport. With a strong group of project partners, this initiative will boost Scotland s profile as a key hydrogen technology hub and a world-leading investment location for pioneering low carbon energy and transport systems.

Aberdeen City Council leader Barney Crockett commented: This funding is a vital contribution to Aberdeen City Council and its partners work to introduce a fleet of hydrogen buses to the area. I believe this initiative will stimulate further innovative hydrogen technology projects and attract even more high-level investment to this city. It is a crucial step towards Aberdeen becoming a world-leading, smart hydrogen city.

For BOC, a member of The Linde Group, the project represents another stage in establishing hydrogen power as a viable transport option in the UK. Nick Rolf, BOC Innovation Manager for Hydrogen Systems, noted: This will be the UK s largest demonstration of hydrogen fuel-cell buses and cements Aberdeen s position as a pioneer in the field of low carbon mobility. The project will also provide a template for the production of hydrogen from renewable sources on a scale that is unmatched elsewhere in the UK.

The hydrogen-powered buses will be operated on First and Stagecoach bus routes in the city by early 2014 and refuelled at Scotland s first commercial-scale hydrogen refuelling station, which will be owned and operated by BOC. The design of this state-of-the-art station will also allow the refuelling of hydrogen-powered passenger cars as they become available in the future.

A novel aspect of this project is that the hydrogen will be produced by electrolysis. A 1MWe electrolyser provided by BOC will split ordinary water into hydrogen and oxygen. Scottish & Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD) will work with BOC to harness the electricity from a nearby wind farm to power the electrolyser which will also operate in a grid balancing capacity. The hydrogen produced will be stored for use with the bus fleet but can be converted back to electricity to supplement mains supplies at times of peak demand.

Wind turns corner for green, ethical investors
21 Aug 2012

ETHICAL INVESTMENT-two words that you might imagine have gone somewhat out of fashion in these financially fatigued days. Not, it appears, when it comes to Northern Ireland, where the opportunity to "earn a return on an ethical investment" has inspired a new wave of investors to take a chance on a pioneering green energy venture.

Drumlin Wind Energy Co-operative-which hopes to raise up to £3.4 million to build the North's first community wind farm co-op-says it has been pleasantly surprised by the response to its public share offering.

The Drumlin Wind Energy Co-op launched its offering in Belfast in June and it has attracted more than £562,755 of investment so far-which its directors say has "exceeded expectations". The co-op wants to build and operate five 250kW single wind turbines in locations including Pomeroy, Kells, Larne and Ballyclare. Drumlin Wind was set up by Energy4All-a not-for-profit organisation in the UK owned by the community co-operatives it creates.

Energy4All emerged in the mid-1980s following the arrival in the UK of a Swedish company that successfully exported the Swedish concept of community ownership of wind farms. This led to the creation of the UK's first community wind farm co-op-Baywind in Cumbria-which now has more than 1,300 members and is proud to boast "profits".

Baywind created Energy4All to help other UK communities create locally owned wind farm ventures; today it administers a total of seven additional co-ops which have attracted more than £15 million of investment.

Drumlin Wind, which has a board of local directors, needs to raise minimum capital of £1.5 million to enable it to install two wind turbines in the North. If it fails to raise the minimum amount, everyone who has invested to date will get their money back.

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Asia eyes green energy in Australia
21 Aug 2012

Renewable energy currently comprises around 9% of Australia's energy generation against the Australian Government's renewable energy target of reaching 20% generation by 2020.

With a carbon pricing scheme in place since July, along with several well funded federal and state government financing schemes, the shift to renewable energy has become one of the main themes in the Australian energy industry.

In addition to connecting renewable power to the national grid, there are a range of mining and infrastructure projects around the country which have started planning to use standalone and dedicated renewable sources, from wind to solar and even tidal power.

Wind ventures
With such a solid focus on increasing renewable output, the sector has attracted strong interest from international investors and energy companies. In keeping with the trend elsewhere in the economy, mainland Chinese companies have been prominent, particularly in wind, which is currently the most developed of the renewable sectors in Australia.

Investors from other Asian countries have been active as well, and their interest has spanned not only wind but also geothermal and bioenergy.

Perhaps the first of these forays was the Roaring 40s wind power joint venture, formed in 2005 by Hong Kong CLP Group and state-owned Hydro Tasmania. That venture was unwound last year with the assets being split between the partners, but in its six-year history, Roaring 40s was a major pioneer of wind farm development both in Australia and overseas, with projects in India, Hong Kong and mainland China.

In Australia, those wind projects were centred in South Australia-an early adopter with wind now comprising more than 30% of the state's energy mix-and in Hydro Tasmania's home state. In the break-up of the Roaring 40s joint venture, Hydro Tasmania took the Tasmanian projects while CLP Group emerged with the two South Australian wind farms.

Those assets were subsequently transferred to CLP Group's Australian subsidiary TRUEnergy, which is considering selling one of the wind farms, the 111MW (MW) Waterloo project. ANZ Bank was recently hired to advise on that sale.

TRUEnergy retains a 50% interest in the smaller 66MW Cathedral Rocks project, in partnership with Spanish company ACCIONA Energy. It also has plans for a large 180MW solar farm in Victoria, a plan which has received backing from Ted Baillieu, the current Premier of Victoria.

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