Thursday 13 December 2012

Carnegie wins EPA green light
11 Dec 2012

Fremantle-based Carnegie Corporation Energy has won the race for Australia's first environmental approval of a wave energy project, but yesterday's green light from WA's watchdog has swung the spotlight on streamlined approvals for the renewable energy sector.

The Environmental Protection Authority announced that it had approved Carnegie Corporation's $31 million, 2 MW wave energy development for the Royal Australian Navy off Garden Island, without a full public review (PER). Carnegie Corporation is backed by prominent Perth investors, including John Poynton, Tim Roberts, Dale Alcock and Tim Holmes.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel told WestBusiness any perceptions that renewable energy projects were given favourable approval treatment was misplaced, and Carnegie Corporation's plan could be managed within existing maritime planning regulations. He also said the wave-power pioneer had done a mountain of work to reassure the EPA that there would be no damage to the environment.

"Each project is assessed on a case-by-case basis on their merits", he said. "Their environmental plan needed a bit of tweaking (such as how marine trenching might be rehabilitated),,, but they did a good job of front-end loading the process and addressing all of the issues".

However, Dr Vogel said the EPA was aware of growing angst in the community about wind farm developments, as in Victoria, and it would be issuing a bulletin next year to clarify its thinking on the issue. Dr Vogel said that while it had approved wind farms in the past without full PER's, as for other renewable energy projects, they still had to meet rigorous standards.*

Sustainable Energy Association adviser Ray Wills said renewable projects should have the same, not more, rigour applied to them as other projects and said industrial developments on the Kwinana strip were not assessed for low frequency sound impacts, as for wind proposals.

Carnegie Corporation chief executive Michael Ottaviano said the company's submerged power buoys had no visual impact, an environmental footprint no different to other buoys and its project had attracted marine life to the area. Its shares closed unchanged at $0.042

*In fact there is no "growing angst" regarding windfarm developments in Victoria, there is a small group of people attempting to portray that sentiment however and it is being exploited by the Victorian government.

Feds fund four projects to simplify solar gear designs and predict power output
7 Dec 2012

The US Department of Energy said Friday it will give $29 million to four projects for reducing the costs of installing solar panels and helping utilities figure out how to manage the growing amount of solar electricity that flows into their grids.

The funding is part of an initiative called SunShot, which was launched in early 2011 to make solar electricity cheap to produce and therefore competitive against energy from coal or natural gas power plants. The goal is to cut the production costs of large-scale solar projects to $1 per watt--or about $0.06 per kW-hour-by 2020.

The department plans to dole out up to $21 million over five years to two projects that will create "plug-and-play" solar power producing equipment. The idea is to make it simpler and cheaper for homeowners to buy, install and bring online a system of solar panels, electronic equipment and wires that connect solar panels to the grid-all in one day.

The North Carolina State University ($9.1 million) will work on standardising the designs of the components and the overall solar power system for a home's rooftop. A research center in Cambridge, Mass., called Fraunhofer's Center for Sustainable Energy Systems ($11.7 million) will work on designing cabling that will make it easier for connecting the solar panels to a smart meter and the grid. Fraunhofer also will design a system to allow the solar power equipment to check itself for proper installation and to send its power generation data to the local utility.

The energy department will provide up to $8 million to two projects that will create better tools for predicting the amount, timing and location of electricity generation from solar power plants. Currently there are ways for solar power plant owners to crunch numbers to project how much electricity their power plants might generate year after year. But some of the methods aren't sophisticated or they aren't proven, particularly since the U.S, doesn't have many solar power plants that have been operating for decades.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research ($4.2 million) in Boulder, Colo., will research the impact of clouds on solar power generation and design short-term forecasting techniques. The IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center ($3.8 million) in Armonk, N.Y., will use a supercomputer to analyze various forecasting methods and figure out the best ways to predict solar power production.

Being able to forecast solar power production is crucial for maintaining the health of an electric grid. The amount of solar electricity flowing from a power plant can fluctuate, sometimes significantly, depending on the weather and other conditions. At the same time, an electric grid runs smoothly only when there is a balance of supply and demand. Making sure that a surge of solar electricity into the grid-or a big drop off of it-will not disrupt the grid and cause a blackout is a big worry for utilities and electric grid operators.

There are several ways to ensure the grid runs well. Utilities could use a type of natural gas power plants that can turn on and produce power quickly to make up for any shortfall. Using batteries or other equipment to store solar electricity and drawing on the power when needed is another way. The need to engineer energy storage equipment that could work well with solar or wind power plants has prompted many private and public investments in battery and other storage technologies.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

NextEra buys 165MW Kansas wind project
4 Dec 2012

US utility NextEra Energy Resources has completed purchase of a 165MW wind project from CPV Renewable Energy, for an undisclosed price. The Cimarron I development is located in south-west Kansas and is expected to be operational by the end of this year. Once complete, it will consist of 72 turbines supplied by German technology giant Siemens.

Power produced at the site will be sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority under terms of a 20 year deal, with a subsidiary of NRG Energy will own and operate the plant. Armando Pimentel, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources, said, 'The addition of the Cimarron Wind Energy Center is consistent with our strategy to add fully-contracted clean energy projects to our portfolio.

'In addition to generating clean, emission-free energy, this project will have a positive impact on the local economy for years to come. With continued public policy support for wind power generation, we look forward to bringing the economic and environmental benefits of wind power to other communities across the nation.'

Sean Finnerty, senior vice president of renewable development at CPV, added, 'CPV is extremely pleased to have worked with NextEra Energy Resources on this transaction; a company that is leading the way increasing the amount of clean, renewable resources available to power our electricity-intensive lives.

'With excellent wind resources, an ideal location, a 20 year contract with a blue-chip off-taker, and dedicated firm transmission, Cimarron Wind Energy Center is a prime example of the type of clean energy project CPV is proud to develop.'

Wind Power - A solution to the energy crises
2 Dec 2012

(Sri Lanka) The President while presenting the 2013 budget offered a basket of incentives for the renewable energy sector to attract both local and foreign investors to embark on this much neglected renewable energy sector that has not received the desired attention in its development drive for the last six decades.

He emphatically noted that promoting renewable energy is a key necessity to slash the heavy crude bill and the resultant foreign exchange savings would have a positive cushioning effect on the trade deficit. Hence, the granting of tax concessions through exemption of import taxes for solar, wind and bio mass power systems and other renewable energy equipment which could not be manufactured in the country backed by the slashing of corporate tax rates to concessionary 12% is viewed as a noteworthy incentive given for the development of wind farm projects in the right direction.

In this context it is heartening to note that a team of new investors who have had hands on experience in the construction of mega wind power plants in Europe are expected to meet government authorities this week, even before the dust of the second reading of the budget debate settles down in response to the budget proposals. These three experts-Micheal Huntings Ford, Peter Crone and Jens Dickmann who have been reportedly instrumental in setting up the world's largest off shore wind farms in Array and Bristol, UK, where there are generating 1,000 MW and 1.500 MW to the national grid of UK-, are expected to have a series of discussions with the Sri Lankan Government.

Undoubtedly, it is a herculean task for the government to convince them on the commercial viability of the off shore wind farm projects in Sri Lanka in the light of the tax concessions and other forms of incentives declared in the 2013 budget and secure their technical and financial support, as Sri Lanka is woefully lacking expertise and technology in this wind farm energy sector.

Read More…