Thursday 12 December 2013

Waubra wind farm: locals petition to save town's name
5 Nov 2013

A GROUP of Waubra residents say they don't want the debate about wind turbines and health to end. But they do want the name of their town left out of it. Waubra residents have collected more than 300 signatures of people within the town and the wider community, calling on the Waubra Foundation to remove the name Waubra from its title.

The Waubra Foundation describes itself as a national organisation to conduct research into health problems identified by residents living near wind turbines. The petition was sent to the Waubra Foundation last week. Karen Molloy, one of the residents who started the petition, admits she does have wind towers on her own property.

However, she says, of the 315 signatories, only 28 actually host wind farms. "We've collected over 300 signatures, including 179 from the Waubra community", she says. "The others are all people affiliated with the town, such as footballers and netballers, and people who used to live here. "Even some people who weren't for the wind towers were happy to sign. This is not about the towers, it is about the community and its reputation outside. "The towers have been here for five years. It is time to get over it". Ten residents collected signatures for the petition.

One of them was Doug Hobson, who says the focus of anti-wind farm sentiment on Waubra has tarnished the town's reputation. He says most people in the town would describe it as a great place to live but a scan of the internet would not reveal that. "Waubra is associated with wind towers. We don't mind that," he says. "With the turbines people actually take more notice of our town as they pass through.

"But when you Google 'Waubra' the first thing that comes up is something negative about our town. People would think that everyone in Waubra doesn't like wind farms, and that is not the case." Marcia and Kerryn Gallagher agree. "Even if there is a disease we're campaigning for people to stop calling it Waubra disease and start calling it a wind turbine disease," Marcia Gallagher says.

"I met some people who had come down from Queensland and they actually felt sorry for me because they thought I had some kind of disease." Kerryn Gallagher says the name Waubra Foundation is misleading. "When you look at the word 'foundation', it is a strong word that means a strong base. So when the 'foundation' says we have an illness or sickness, people take it seriously and it's wrong," she says. "We're happy if they continue with their campaign against wind power but we simply want our name back."

Margaret McDonald says most people in Waubra would know someone in the town who has experienced health issues attributed to the wind towers. She says those who organised the petition did not want to trivialise their concerns. "We empathise with the people who feel that they are unwell," she says. "This not about the debate about wind farms. The debate will go on but we have to respect each other. We want to take the name Waubra out of the debate."

Cutting energy costs with technology trials
4 Nov 2013

Telstra is working on a new way to feed solar power into its telephone exchanges, one of several initiatives underway to reduce its reliance on coal-fired electricity. The carrier's director of asset and facilities management, John Romano, told iTnews the "new solar design" is being worked on by an internal technology team with the aid of consultants.

"We've come up with a new solution on how we feed our sites with solar, and we're in the process of getting a few trials done around the country," he said. "It looks viable but we've got to test it. In three months we'll better understand if it's viable."

Some Telstra exchanges currently have the ability to run equipment on a mix of mains and solar power, but the number is partially kept low by the cost and potential benefit. "What we do is feed the site with mains power and solar, so we reduce the cost and use of mains power," Romano said. "The solar panels are cheap but putting them on some of our sites and building them large enough to actually provide any benefit costs a fair bit".

The systems also typically provide only about "four or five hours a day" of benefit to an exchange site. But Telstra sees a far bigger future for solar and other renewable energy sources, such as tri-generation, biofuel and fuel-cell technology, which it made standard for back-up supplies to mobile towers and small exchanges last week.

"Ultimately it would be fantastic if we had to use no energy from coal to keep our sites running," Romano said. "That'd be the ultimate objective, but that's never going to happen while I'm alive. [For now] it's about what can we do with some of the new technologies that will enable us to use less coal power."

Telstra has about eight trials running Australia-wide trialling various renewable energy sources to power telecommunications exchanges and equipment. Romano is more or less in the same boat as other testers in Australia — trying to find a business case to deploy technology that is at various stages of maturity.

"Some of this technology may not be viable now but it may be in three years," he said. "We're going to continue to assess [the technologies] and if they're viable we'll roll them out."

Read More…

Saudi Arabia, Emirates lead charge on Mideast solar power
1 Nov 2013

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the world's leading oil producers, are spearheading a Middle Eastern drive to develop solar power, with plans for projects requiring $1.5 billion in investment by the end of 2014.
The program, designed to free up for export increasing amounts of oil and gas being used domestically for power generation, got a major endorsement from the Arab Forum for Environment and Development Monday.

It urged Arab states to re-evaluate their relationship with oil, the economic mainstay of the Arab world since the 1950s, and phase out state energy subsidies to focus investment in developing renewable energy. "Oil and gas are important, they will continue to be important," said Najib Saab, the forum's secretary-general. "We call for more careful use of oil and gas and for more serious development of renewable energy."

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter with declared reserves of 267 billion barrels, and the neighboring Emirates, a federation of seven gulf sheikdoms with reserves of 98 billion barrels, seek to add 1,000 MWs of solar capacity over the next few years to meet fast-growing industrial and social demand. That's enough to provide electricity for 200,000 homes.

While the producers want to conserve more of their oil output for exports, particularly with prices above $100 a barrel, Arab countries that rely on imported fuel see carbon-free power as a cheaper alternative.

From Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean eastward to the gulf sultanate of Oman on the Indian Ocean, governments are turning to alternative energy, driven primarily by a lack of gas for power generation, the fall in the cost of renewable technologies and their constantly improving efficiency.

Read More…

Wal-Mart now draws more solar power than 38 US States
25 Oct 2013

In the race for commercial solar power, Wal-Mart is killing it. The company now has almost twice as much capacity as second-place Costco. A better comparison: Wal-Mart is converting more sun into energy than 38 US states.

In the beer department, Wal-Mart recently decided alcohol was good business and vowed to double sales by 2016. The result: 500 reps from the alcohol industry converged on the Sam's Club auditorium in Bentonville, Arkansas, for an "adult beverages summit" focused on Wal-Mart. "It's even selling it in garden centers", Bloomberg News's Renee Dudley wrote in August.

With solar, will Wal-Mart have the same industry-focusing presence its had with booze? If small business is the heart of the US economy, Wal-Mart is the gluteus maximus--the power muscle. The company redefines global supply chains and crunches cost reductions in just about every area it touches. More than 80 publicly traded companies rely on Wal-Mart for 10% or more of their annual revenue, according to Bloomberg data.

"When we find something that works we go big with it", the company's website proclaims.

Read More…

Waubra disease a furphy
24 Oct 2013

Waubra disease does not exist.

In my view it is a name dreamt up by the Australian Landscape Guardians group for what has always been known as wind turbine syndrome.

Others followed suit for their own ends, such as gaining publicity for the so-called Waubra Foundation. This group of people owes the community of Waubra an apology for the damage they have done to the town's reputation. More important, they owe our schoolchildren a heartfelt and public apology for the psychological pain inflicted on them when they and their parents saw full-page ads claiming Waubra disease could make them ill.

Some children panicked every time they had a cold or any other normal childhood illness. It was a cruel hoax and someone needs to be accountable. Yes, Waubra does have a wind farm, but in a community of more than 500 people only about 1.3% are vehemently opposed to it. The rest are in favour of it or don't mind either way. Life goes on as it has for more than 100 years in a great community.

We still produce award-winning potatoes, crops, wool and fat lambs. Waubra Primary School is thriving, full of happy, healthy, carefree students. Yes, local groups such as the CFA, school, kinder, sports clubs, Landcare groups and others receive financial assistance from the wind farm, but that happens any time a large company moves into a local neighbourhood.

It is not "buying" those in it. It is showing appreciation to people for allowing their company to grow and prosper there. I don't have a problem with Landscape Guardians or individuals who have complaints of ill health or depression that they attribute to the wind farm.

I do, however, have a problem with those who have never lived in Waubra who perpetrated an outrageous lie, tarnished the reputation of the community which, far from being divided and fractured, is a united one full of mutual support.

I believe Waubra is owed an apology and statements that use the name Waubra disease should be retracted. Call it what it is-wind turbine syndrome-and let Waubra be known for what is it, one of the best farming areas in the country with property prices increasing. Visit our town and our wind farm. Only then will you know the truth.

Marsha Gallagher is a Waubra resident with turbines on her property.

Monday 9 December 2013

Wave energy turbine on the way
21 Oct 2013

THE countdown to the arrival of the world's first 1MW wave energy converter off the coast of Port McDonnell is underway with Sydney-based company Oceanlinx Limited set to launch the project this week. See your ad here The converter-called greenWAVE-will be connected to the electricity grid in South Australia by the end of the year and is expected to put the South East on the world renewable energy map.

The company has released the first photographs of the groundbreaking unit's turbine, which will soon be part of the seascape off Port MacDonnell. Constructed and to be launched into the water from TechPort in Adelaide on Friday, the $7m project will be the first of its kind to be commissioned in the world.

The demonstration unit received $4m from the Federal Government in a bid to make the project ready for market. The unit-which is on track for a December completion-will be grid-connected and rigorously tested throughout 2014.

The 3000 tonne demonstration unit will be on display at TechPort before being towed to its final location a few km off the coast of Port MacDonnell. The unit has a rated capacity of 1MW, which can supply power to about 1000 homes. Oceanlinx managing director Ali Baghaei said the converter was based on the oscillating water column principle.

He said the technology was one of the wave energy sector's most tested and matured technologies. Mr Baghaei said the unit was completely environmentally friendly, sitting under its own weight on the seabed in shallow water with no anchors, mooring or attachment to the seabed. "It is expected to act as an artificial reef for sea life", Mr Baghaei said.

"It has no moving parts under the water and is designed to withstand the most aggressive sea conditions, while there is ease of access to the weather-tight powerhouse placed above the sea level, so the life management costs are kept to the minimum". He said Oceanlinx had demonstrated three test platforms in the ocean over the past 16 years. See your ad here "It was the first company to achieve the full grid connection of a test platform in Australia in 2010", Mr Baghaei said.

"With an end to end solution, its technologies are globally patented and provide versatility for application in conjunction with a wide range of areas such as offshore platforms, breakwater construction, desalination and provision of energy and water to remote locations. "As a leading technology provider in the wave energy conversion sector, Oceanlinx is in discussion with a number of international entities to develop multiple units of this technology".

Avaco hikes conversion efficiency by 30 percent in CIGS solar cells
20 Oct 2013

The company's new ALD process system can provide a solution for buffer layer optimisation in the dry process to effectively convert solar power during photovoltaic development process Avaco has developed a new concept of buffer layer deposition for photovoltaic products.

By using Avaco's atomic layer deposition (ALD) process, the energy conversion efficiency improved to approximately 30% higher than the conventional CIGS solar cell that uses CdS for the buffer layer. The new process enhanced quantum efficiency in both the short wavelength range and near infrared range.

The quantum jump in the short circuit current improvement in the VICOSC-VICOSC curve contributed to higher efficiency CIGS solar cell without affecting the open circuit voltage, Voc. What's more, Avaco has confirmed that its new buffer layer deposition technique can be applied to a wide range of CIGS absorbers regardless of the preparation methods.

"We are pleased with the latest ALD addition in our system product portfolio", says Chuck Kim, business development director of Avaco, "Expansion of our core technology further strengthens and broadens our offering of deposition process solutions enabling Avaco to continue to provide our customers with innovative and leading-edge technology solutions to address today's manufacturing challenges".

Avaco will be showcasing its products at booth #751, and/or education poster presentation at booth #4806 at Solar Power International (SPI) 2013 in Chicago.

Avaco, a publicly traded company headquartered in Daegu, South Korea, is a global supplier of thin-film processing equipment and specialises in the manufacture of sputtering (PVD) vacuum deposition equipment (in-line, cluster, and roll to roll type), ALD equipment, various BEOL equipment, and factory automation equipment such as clean stocker, clean crane, and overhead transfer system for large-scale substrates.

Avaco is known for delivering mass production manufacturing equipment that encompasses all aspects related to thin-film coating such as TCO, metal electrode, and dielectric layer.

The firm uses many target materials for its sputtering system. These include Ag, AGZO, Al, Al2O3, AlNd, AZO, CIGS, Cr, Cu, CuGa, CuIn, GZO, IGZO, In, ITO, IZO, Mo, MoTi, MoW, Ni, Se, SiO2, TiO2, ZnO and others with DC, pulsed-DC, and MF utilising a single or dual magnetron source.

Wind turbines are quieter than a heartbeat, acoustical experts find
24 Sep 2013

One complaint voiced by wind turbine opponents is that the turbines create too much noise — even noise below the range of human hearing, known as infrasound. These concerns fuel claims about "Wind Turbine Syndrome," which advocates say is a medical condition that involves mental health problems, heart disease, and vertigo.

A study by an acoustic engineering group in Australia found that that infrasound generated by wind turbines is less loud than the infrasound created by a listener's own heartbeat. It found that wind turbine infrasound does increase as wind speed increases, but this is often masked by the natural noise of wind moving through the area.

The Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants said that "those investigations conclude that infrasound levels adjacent to wind farms are below the threshold of perception and below currently accepted limits set for infrasound."

Thursday 21 November 2013

Wind turbines are quieter than a heartheat, acoustical experts find
24 Sep 2013

One complaint voiced by wind turbine opponents is that the turbines create too much noise--even noise below the range of human hearing, known as infrasound. These concerns fuel claims about "Wind Turbine Syndrome", which advocates say is a medical condition that involves mental health problems, heart disease, and vertigo.

A study by an acoustic engineering group in Australia found that that infrasound generated by wind turbines is less loud than the infrasound created by a listener's own heartheat. It found that wind turbine infrasound does increase as wind speed increases, but this is often masked by the natural noise of wind moving through the area.

The Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants said that "those investigations conclude that infrasound levels adjacent to wind farms are below the threshold of perception and below currently accepted limits set for infrasound".

Those limits are levels of infrasound that people encounter already, created by natural sources like breathing, wind, and waves, as well as mechanical sources like aircraft, traffic, and fossil fuel industry. The study noted that wind turbine noise is all relative:

Our environment has lots of infrasound already in it, the levels generated by wind farms from our point of view are quite low in comparison and they're no higher than what is already out there in the natural environment.,.. "People themselves generate infrasound through things like their own heartheat, through breathing and these levels of infrasound can be substantially higher than an external noise source."

Read More…

Michigan's new tourist attraction? Like them or not, wind turbines
20 Oct 2013

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP, MICH.--Whether they are beautiful or a blight on the landscape is beside the point.

Michigan's wind farms are here, en masse. And travelers can't miss them. With nearly 900 commercial wind turbines dotting Michigan, especially in the Thumb where the wind is strongest and most consistent, a scenic drive can turn into a jaw-dropping experience. The Thumb alone has 618 wind turbines already operating or scheduled to go into service by next year.

"I was driving down the road when the sun was coming up one morning, and the sun hit the turbines and it was beautiful", says Scott Carr of Elkton, whose tiny community has been transformed in the last five years by 32 wind turbines. "Some people don't like them, but they don't bother me".

Wind turbines began sprouting in the state in response to a 2008 Michigan law that requires at least 10% of the state's energy be provided by renewable energy sources, such as wind, by 2015. The first phase of a high-capacity, 140 mile electric transmission line called the Thumb Loop was just completed in the region. It is capable of carrying electricity linked from at least 2,800 wind turbines.

Many things have been said and written about wind turbines. All over the world, they have changed tourist landscapes, adding strong man-made vertical elements to nature's soft horizontal vistas. Some travelers see wind turbines as engineering marvels and symbols of energy independence. Some see them as evil industrial fans ruining treasured landscapes.

Some see beauty in a sunset that makes the towers shine, or charm in a scene of a small house dwarfed by a turning blade. Other see turbines as too big and harsh--which they are, compared to a cow, a sugar beet or a farmhouse. Some are so tall that Michigan residents can even see turbines erected across the water in Canada.

At first, they dotted the landscape here or there. Then, they spread. Last summer, an operator in the Ludington and Scottville area did a lively business driving busloads of tourists out to see the turbines. That success has others asking: How does Michigan make the most of their breathtaking stature and the awe that they stir inside of us?

Read More…

GE wants to power up older wind turbines
18 Oct 2013

Earlier this year, General Electric Co (GE) launched a package of technologies and services to improve output from its newer wind turbines like the 2.5 120, calling them "brilliant" at predicting and producing wind power. Now it's bringing those same capabilities to its existing turbine fleet by packaging them into a new suite called "PowerUp" to improve older wind turbines' output and profitability.

Andy Holt, general manager of GE Energy's projects and services group, explained to us how it works: GE analyzes a customer's wind turbine capacity, turbulence, weight, its current condition and age, how hard it's been run, explore the on-site wind regime, and generates a list of possible improvements. "We'll put on as much as we can to optimize and maximize their output and revenue", he said.

One of these capabilities is the company's venerable WindBoost, which essentially nudges a turbine to run a little bit harder if conditions allow for it. Vortex generators, meanwhile, can be applied on the blade to decrease separation and increase lift. Other features that can be bundled with PowerUp run the gamut from trailing-edge serrations to reduce noise, to a winter operations mode that ramps down as ice forms.

Another aspect to PowerUp borrowed from the "brilliant" turbine setup is enabling predictability and condition-based maintenance, "having machines telling us when we have issues" to eliminate unplanned downtime, Holt said.

PulsePoint software monitors set points in the turbine to gauge factors including vibration, bearing temperature, and filter pressure. Other software awakens turbines to recognize when they're falling behind other turbines nearby and alert the dispatch center to find out why, or conversely notice if a turbine in the group (or groups) could be revved up to take advantage of current conditions

These types of tweaks take a page from what GE has done for its gas turbine customers, Holt pointed out.

The company especially sees a sweetspot for PowerUp in its flagship fleet of 9,000 1.5 77 turbines running nationwide, since "the technology has moved so far since we built the earlier machine", Holt said.

For just those turbines, GE claims that PowerUp could increase a wind farm's output by up to 5% and a 20% increase in profit per turbine--even a 1% energy output increase would add another 420,000 MWh annually, according to the company. Holt walked us through how GE came up with those numbers:

  • 2.3% more output per machine: Using WindBoost to run a little harder off the gearbox
  • 0.5%: Seasonal tuning, such as changing pitch parameters from summer to winter
  • 1.2%: Winter ice operations, sensing ice formation and derating/shutting itself down
  • 1.5-2%: Vortex generators on the blades
  • 0.5-1%: Blade cord extensions with slightly larger aerodynamic areas, increasing the velocity at the top of the blade
  • 0.5-1%: Trailing-edge serrations

Of course not every customer site will apply all of those improvements, but taking an average across GE's entire fleet the company calculates a 5% improvement in output.

That's "big enough to matter", Holt said, "and it's also just the beginning". Given the relative youth of GE's fleet of turbines in the US (averaging 5 6 years) repowering of entire hubs and nacelles isn't yet a big services business, but PowerUp could fill a big need for customers who are keen to know more about their turbines' performance in wind speed regimes of between 5-7 meters per second, shy of the rated output.

"We're taking advantage of the design life in the machine that's being underutilized because of lower winds, and that's given birth to a whole upgrade business", he said.

Customers will pay for PowerUp based on "validated performance improvements" i.e, the additional power that gets produced. "We just commit to selling MWs [to customers]", Holt said. "This is a simpler way to do business with us". PowerUp also can be incorporated into existing VICOSC&M contracts.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

America’s first floating wind turbine – the future of offshore power generation?
3 Oct 2013

Sitting in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Maine, is a unique feat of technology. At first glance, this giant windmill-like object looks pretty out of place, bobbing around in the middle of the water. But in truth, the wind-lashed Atlantic is the perfect spot for it. VolturnUS 1:8 (trips off the tongue, doesn't it?!) is North America's first floating wind turbine-an innovation that's being hailed as the future of US offshore energy generation.

Designed by engineers at the University of Maine, the turbine is an impressive piece of equipment. Standing 300 feet tall, "it's almost like a 30 to 35 story building", says Habib Dagher, Director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the university, and head of the VolturnUS 1:8 project.

In addition, the diameter of the rotor is the size of one and a half football fields, while "each blade would be the wingspan of a 747 jetliner". But this doesn't even scratch the surface of what the designers ultimately have in mind...

Channeling the Atlantic's Anger into Power
Right now, the VolturnUS 1:8 turbine can only generate enough energy to power four homes. But it's merely the working prototype for a much larger project. How large? "It's one-eighth the scale of a full-size five-to six-MW turbine", says Elizabeth Viselli, Communications Manager of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

And that would produce enough wind power to power a few thousand homes. The reasoning behind putting these turbines at sea is simple... Winds are much stronger at sea than on land, with the optimum strength occurring during peak energy usage times in the late afternoon/early evening.

In fact, Dagher says, "Within 50 miles of US shores, there's enough offshore [wind] capacity to power the US four times over". And the fact that the University of Maine team has designed a floating turbine means it's significantly cheaper than a fixed installation turbine.

And as for fears that eyesore wind turbines will spoil the coastline... well, fear not. The team says the turbines will be 20 miles offshore-"beyond the horizon" and not visible from the coast. With the United States only generating 3.5% of its electric power from wind, the goal of this project is two-fold... Boost renewable energy output from wind and, according to Dagher, "bring the cost of offshore wind down by 2020, so it's competitive with other forms of electricity".

Friday 18 October 2013

Italian energy firm to accelerate wind investment
15 Oct 2013

Italian energy group ERG plans to invest in wind power in Brazil and Europe, accelerating its expansion in the sector after its recent decision to exit the refining sector.

ERG, over 60% controlled by Italy's Garrone family, completed the acquisition of wind power assets from France's GDF Suez this year to become Italy's largest wind power player and one of the top ten in Europe.

Presenting the group's strategy in Vienna on Saturday, ERG chief executive Luca Bettone said ERG planned to invest in countries and areas which had strong wind conditions and were less dependent on government subsidies, such as South America.

"This company must look to growth and, since we are now the biggest wind player in Italy, must try to move outside our national borders", Bettone said in comments that were embargoed until Monday. "There are opportunities in this country (Brazil) and we think we'll enter the market with acquisitions".

ERG has transformed itself in recent years into a renewable energy company in order to counter declining profits at its refinery business. Last week it struck a deal to sell its remaining stake in the ISAB oil refinery in Sicily to Russia's Lukoil for around 400 million euros-a sale Bettone said would yield no special dividend from the proceeds.

ERG, which is now targeting a 20% rise in core earnings next year to around 600 million euros ($813.75 million), intends to invest some 500 million euros to 2015 to focus on renewable energy.

In Europe, Bettone said, the company aimed to enter the Spanish market while strengthening its position in Bulgaria and Romania where it has wind power assets. He also confirmed that TotalErg-the joint venture between ERG and France's Total-was interested in the Italian petrol distribution network that Shell is selling. TotalErg has a market share in Italy of 12% which would rise to 18% with the Shell network.

Collector Wind Farm project recommended to go ahead
11 Oct 2013

The NSW Department of Planning released their final report on the $350 million project to the north of the ACT at the end of September, which recommended the project be approved. It has now been sent to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) for final determination.

"The Department considers that the Project is justified and in the public interest and should be approved subject to the recommended conditions of approval and the proponent's statement of commitments", the report said.

RATCH-Australia, the company proposing to build the wind farm, said it was confident its proposal met all the environmental and social requirements for approval. Project manager Anthony Yeates welcomed the PAC's pending work with the community and said he hoped for a determination within months.

"Anyone who's interested should get in touch with the PAC", project manager Anthony Yeates said. "Hopefully there will be a decision made through the remainder of this year".

Should approval be granted by the end of the year, Mr Yeates said a two-year design and construction process would likely begin by the end of 2014, with the project possibly nearing completion by the end of 2016.

The community meeting with PAC commissioners Garry West, Richard Thorp and Brian Gilligan will be held at 4pm on Tuesday, October 29 at the Collector Memorial Hall. Parties wishing to comment at the meeting must register by October 24 by calling 02 9383 2112. More information is available via the PAC website.

Wind-farm at a standstill
16 Oct 2013

PROGRESS on a wind farm at Bungulla has stunted with testing still ongoing nearly four years after it began.

In late 2009 a wind speed mast was erected in Bungulla to test the viability of a future wind farm, but the development manager in charge of the project from RES Southern Cross Australia, Annette Devison, said it was "still early days". "These investigations typically take a long time", Ms Devison said. "The mast is still there testing but there are no plans to go forward at this stage".

At this stage wind farms in the New England region haven't been affected by the Federal Governments scrapping of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, but Ms Devison said there was uneasiness in the industry at the moment.

"There is a degree of uncertainty in the industry right now", she said. "It's a reasonable comment to say [the industry] it's at a bit of a standstill. "Things aren't stopping but are cautiously moving forward".

If a wind farm project at Bungulla was to be approved it would mean the construction of a new section of line to an existing power-line and further collaboration with Tenterfield Upper Lachlan Council Upper Lachlan Council. But Ms Devison said there hadn't been any recent contact with council. "There are no ongoing discussions with the council but they would be the first port of call when a decision is made.

Bungulla property owner, Brian Chorley, indicated he was still relatively in the dark when it came to the testing being done on his property. "VICOSC don't get much feedback from RES Southern Cross", Mr Chorley said. "It's on and off-it was around Christmas the last time VICOSC spoke to someone.

Mr Chorley said he was aware of wind farms around the Glen Innes area going through "serious negotiations". "VICOSC think they are getting to the nitty gritty stuff", he said. "We'll have to wait and see-there are a lot of steps involved and government assessments".

Wind speed tests were previously done on the eastern side of Tenterfield some years ago but eventuated into nothing, and Mr Chorley said that could be the likelihood here too. "They just disappeared and this might disappear too", he said. RES Southern Cross Australia received construction approval for a project in Taralga, north of Goulburn, back in 2007.

Sixty-two turbines are set to be constructed and the Bungulla project could reach similar numbers depending on available land. Mr Chorley said he would be open to having that number of turbines on his land. "There was a timeframe at one stage but we'll just have to wait and see what negotiations bring", he said.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Gamesa signs agreement with Iberdrola to supply wind turbines for Penascal expansion project
10 Oct 2013

Gamesa Corp and Iberdrola Renewables have signed a supply agreement for the 202MW Baffin wind farm project, which is an extension to the Penascal wind power complex in Texas. Under the agreement set to begin in mid-2014, Gamesa Corp will supply, install and commission 101xG97 wind turbines of 2MW each for the project, which is likely to become operational by the end of 2014.

To be built with an estimated cost of around $400m, the under-construction project will increase the Penascal complex's total capacity to 606MW, thus becoming Iberdrola's largest renewable energy facility in the world. Located in Kenedy County, the complex is likely to generate enough electricity to power 210,000 households and curb 850,000 tons of CO₂ emissions annually.

Pending approval from the local government, the project will significantly contribute to growth of the local economy by creating up to 240 jobs during construction phase and eight fulltime operational jobs. As one of the largest wind developers, Iberdrola can use the contracted turbines at other US sites if it fails to secure approval from the local government.

The agreement represents Gamesa Corp strengthen its position as Iberdrola's main wind turbine supplier as it provided 9,000MW out of 14,000MW turbines Iberdrola installed worldwide.

Archimede Solar Energy supplies the 4th release of molten salt receiving tubes for Archimede ISCC
10 Oct 2013

Italian CSP receiver tubes manufacturer Archimede Solar Energy (ASE), has supplied the 4th release of Molten Salt receiving tubes to Archimede ISCC Plant in Sicily, Italy.

The new tubes have been installed in order to maximize the performance of the solar field, in accordance to the long term and profitable cooperation agreement between Enel Green Power-tha plant owner-and ASE. Archimede ISCC is the world's first and largest parabolic trough concentrated solar power plant operating with Molten Salt as HTF, based on technology developed by Italy's research center ENEA.

ASE claims to be the first and most experienced manufacturer of receiver tubes, stable at high temperature and suitable for Molten Salts. With thousands hours of tests and operation since 2007, the tubes have been constantly improved optimising the best optical and thermal performances and guaranteeing the required durability of the most rigorous market standards.

The company says that molten salts are considered as the preferred HTF to enable the necessary technology leap that the CSP industry is expecting. A clear sign of this trend is demonstrated from the growing number of new entrants in every segment of the value chain. This confirms the efforts that ENEL, ASE, ENEA and the Italian supply chain have taken during the last years.

In order to increase the know-how about Molten Salts and improve consistently the receiver tubes, ASE is operating since last July 2013 the first stand alone Parabolic Trough Molten Salt Test Loop (realized with the effort of Chiyoda and of other contributors) located close to the ASE manufacturing plant in Massa Martana, as previously reported here at CSP World. The test loop is confirming the excellent performances of last ASE receivers and the reliable operability of MS parabolic trough plant even in location with poor DNI resource, like the central part of Italy.

Apart from the Archimede ISCC Plant, ASE already secured the exclusivity, as receiver tubes supplier, in several Molten Salts CSP projects planned in Italy, China and Egypt for about 300 MW.

On July 2012, the Italian Minister of Economic Development and the Minister of Environment approved a new decree that regulates the renewable energy market. The new decree includes CSP as key RES Southern Cross for the Italian Renewable Energy Mix. In order to benefit from the incentive, the following two conditions have to be observed:

  • It is mandatory to use a non-polluting and no flammable heat transfer fluid, unless the solar plant is in an industrial area (this requirement allows molten salt while rejecting the most widely used thermal oils).
  • Installations must show the minimum thermal storage capacity established by the Decree

Archimede Solar Energy, a subsidiary of Angelantoni Group, is the most experienced manufacturer of receiver tubes to be used wth molten salt as heat transfer fluid. The company also produces receiver tubes for Oil and DSG-Direct Steam Generation (mainly superheated) based solar thermal power plants. ASE's current production capacity reaches 75,000 tubes per year, expandable to 140,000 receivers per year to reach an equivalent of 350MWe per year.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

IFA confirms significant wind farm uptake
9 Oct 2013

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has secured the best possible wind farm development negotiations for farmers across Ireland and it is up to the individual farmer to seek professional advice on legal, tax and proper planning.

This is according to Jer Bergin, the association's climate change and renewables spokesman, who noted a significant number of farmers across the Midlands have signed wind farm energy contracts, in the region of 1,000 farmers, within the past six months.

"We recently negotiated legal improvements for all farmers and retrospective improvements for approximately 200 farmers. These farmers are now happy. In general, farmers need to consider very carefully leasing their land to wind farm developers. A wind turbine is a permanent structure and it needs to be considered very carefully by farmers and farmer families", he said.

The IFA published its strategy document on this area, entitled Harnessing Ireland's Wind Resource for Renewable Energy Production.It sets out a useful reference for landowners/farmers. This report a guide to the financial arrangements between individual farmers and wind development companies.

The key elements include an annual payment during the period of the agreement of €1,000; minimum annual lease payments of 6000/MW or €18,000; a payment of 3% of the energy price; and green credits up to year 15, and 5% thereafter.

The agreement also sets out that there will be full compensation for any losses in terms of forestry losses, REPS, Area Aid and/or Single Farm Payment. The deal also includes consultation regarding location of access roads and a payment of €10,000 €18,000 on receipt of planning.

The document also proposes that all wind development companies establish a community fund for each wind project. The fund in question must last for the duration of the wind project and its value should be one% of the annual revenue generated by the project or €2,500 per MW, whichever is the greater, it recommends.

According to the IFA document, the current proposed development in the Midlands is projected to contribute €2.5bn in gross electricity income. "This is the same value as the total annual dairy exports and 1.5 times beef exports in 2011", it noted.

Solar power stored at Arizona plant
9 Oct 2013

PHOENIX, Oct. 9 (UPI)--Spanish energy company Abengoa said Wednesday its Solana solar plant in Arizona produced electricity without direct sunlight in its first commercial test.

The company said Wednesday the facility, about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, has an installed capacity of 280 MWs of energy and can store the sun's power for six hours via thermal energy. The facility uses concave mirrors to focus the sun's rays to power a conventional steam turbine.

Abengoa said it was able to produce electricity from the steam turbines after the sun went down for six hours using only the thermal energy storage capacity of the facility. State utility company Arizona Public Service has a 30 year agreement with Abengoa to purchase electricity from the plant. The Solana facility will have the ability to meet the annual energy needs of 70,000 households.

Abengoa said the facility is the first of its kind in the United States, which it said was a "turning point" for renewable energy in the country. The company said the plan represents a $2 billion investment. It said it received financial support through a $1.45 billion loan guarantee from the federal government.

Friday 11 October 2013

Tata Power arm to buy wind farm in Gujarat
8 Oct 2013

Tata Power, on Tuesday, said that it would acquire a 39.2 MW wind farm in Gujarat in a move that would scale up its renewable energy portfolio.

The company's 100% subsidiary, Tata Power Renewable Energy Ltd. (TPREL), has signed a share purchase agreement (SPA) with AES Corp for acquisition of the US company's 100% shareholding in AES Saurashtra Windfarms Pvt Ltd. (ASW). The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

It costs about Rs. 6 crore to set up one MW of wind power capacity. The reason behind the exit of AES from this project is not known. ASW owns and operates a 39.2 MW wind farm in Jamnagar district of Gujarat.

The project has been fully operational since January, 2012, and ASW has executed a power purchase agreement with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd, for sale of electricity at a tariff of Rs. 3.56/kW for the duration of the project.

TPREL was selected as the preferred bidder for the sale, and the acquisition is subject to certain conditions. The deal is expected to go through in a few months time, Tata Power said.

With this deal, Tata Power's wind operational generation capacity will go up to 437 MW, with wind turbine generators located across five states, including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

"Tata Power is committed to generating 20 25% of its total generation capacity from clean energy sources, and is proud to have signed this SPA. This is our second acquisition of an operating wind asset and we are constantly looking out for similar opportunities in respect of wind and solar plants", Anil Sardana, Managing Director, Tata Power, said in a statement.

Turkey's first nuclear power plant likely to be delayed
8 Oct 2013

ANKARA (Reuters)-Turkey's first nuclear power plant is likely to be delayed by at least a year, a source close to the plans said on Tuesday, as bureaucratic hurdles hamper the $20 billion project.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has been an advocate of the country's ambitious nuclear program, meant to help reduce its dependence on costly hydrocarbon imports by providing 10% of its electricity needs by 2023.

But its first planned 4,800 MW plant, being built by Russia's Rosatom, is already falling behind schedule, with the first reactor unlikely to be operational by 2019 as planned.

"Production in 2019 is not possible. 2020 is more likely", one source close to the project told Reuters, noting that a nuclear reactor on this scale would need a test period of at least six to 12 months before it could be fully operational.

The start of construction for the Mersin Akkuyu plant in southern Turkey is scheduled for mid-2015 and by 2023 all four planned reactors are meant to have started generating power, but the project has still to obtain a construction license and has been hampered by other delays over the summer.

An environmental report by Rosatom, which requires approval by Turkish authorities, had to be resubmitted to the Environment Ministry in September, months behind the planned schedule. Without approval, Atomstroyexport, the main contractor chosen by Rosatom to build the reactors, cannot launch tenders for an estimated $7.5 8.0 billion worth of subcontracts.

The source said he expected the tenders to be launched once the environmental assessment paper was approved, which he predicted would happen by the end of November.

A tender by the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) for a firm to review and assess Rosatom's reactor plans to ensure the design meets safety standards has been cancelled several times after bidders failed to meet the pre-qualification criteria.

Aaron Stein, associate fellow at the British defense and security think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, sees this as among the most serious risks to the timeline.

"It all depends on whether they can get their tender documents going and all the indications right now are that they're having extreme difficulties", he said. "Let's assume they're going to go ahead with construction in 2016, that would still be three years to build one reactor and seven years to build all four. That is really, really fast".

Turkey's power market looks to be alone in Europe in offering promising returns. Electricity consumption rose 5% to 242 billion kW hours (kW) in 2012 and energy demand growth forecasts are second only to those of China.

Turkey needs to add some 3,500 MW of installed power capacity annually to keep pace. Its second planned nuclear plant was awarded in May to a Japanese-French consortium. Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and Itochu Corporation, with France's GDF Suez, will build the 4,800 MW plant at an estimated cost of $22 billion in the Black Sea coastal city of Sinop.

Industry sources have said the first reactor at that plant is slated to come online by 2023.

Albertans losing no sleep over wind power
8 Oct 2013

Controversy that has marked Ontario's rapid growth in wind power has been largely absent in Alberta, where the industry has operated for two decades and now has the third-largest installed generation capacity of the green energy source in Canada.

Wind farm operators in the Western province have had to work to solve environmental problems, notably bat and bird deaths, which have led to operational changes at some developments.

But public complaints about facilities, which are concentrated in the breezy and sparsely populated southern part of the province best known for fossil fuel development, are almost non-existent, according to recent research into what is seen as one of the most commercially viable forms of alternative energy.

That is in sharp contrast to Ontario, where groups have been established to oppose wind power and publicize potential human-health effects of facilities near homes. Government policies there aimed at promoting green energy have led to brisk activity in wind farm construction.

"We're not seeing the same type of organized push-back in Alberta", said Tim Weis, director of renewable energy and efficiency policy for the Pembina Institute, a non-profit environmental think tank.

Some of the wind farms in Alberta, especially in the southwest, are relatively close to population centres. Public attitudes may be more accepting because many Albertans already have experience living close to conventional energy facilities, Mr. Weis said. In addition, virtually all commercial wind developments in the province are on privately owned land.

Mr. Weis contributed to a Pembina study this summer that found the Alberta Utilities Commission, the provincial regulator governing commercial-scale wind farms, has not received a single complaint related to the facilities since 2000 in 31,000 "contacts" with the public. wind farm operators reported 10 complaints. By contrast, the oil-and-gas regulator has fielded more than 200 complaints per year about fossil fuel operations affecting residents.

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Thursday 10 October 2013

JGC to Build Second Solar Power Plant in Japan for $102 Million
1 Oct 2013

JGC Corp. (1963), a Japanese constructor of industrial facilities, said it will build a 31 MW solar power station in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo, its second such project in the country.

Construction for the 10 billion yen ($102 million) plant will start in March and operations will start in January 2015, the Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture-based company said in a statement yesterday.

JGC Corp will undertake engineering, procurement, and construction work for the plant and manage it for 20 years, it said. The company signed an agreement for project financing on Sept. 27 with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Chiba Bank Ltd. (8331) and Joyo Bank Ltd., it said in the statement.

Solar power from giant mirrors flows into California's grid
24 Sep 2013

BrightSource Energy's massive solar farm in a remote corner of California delivered its first flow of power to the grid, an important step for demonstrating that the project is on the final path to become a fully operating power plant, the company said Tuesday.

BrightSource Energy achieved what is called the "first sync" with the project, Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, where for the first time the steam was sent to one of its three turbines for generating electricity and synching to the grid. Ivanpah is the first commercial power plant project in the United States for BrightSource Energy, which owns a stake in the project along with NRG Energy NRG Energy +0.77% and Google GOOG-1.42%.

The project also is one of the massive solar power projects being built in California to enable the state to meet its goal of using an increasing amount of renewable electricity. The state's mandate requires 33% of its utilities power supplies to come from renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass by 2020.

The project has a 392 MW capacity but is set to deliver 377 MWs to the Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison, It's sized to deliver enough power to about 140,000 homes per year.

Ivanpah is made up of three power generation stations. The "first sync" milestone took place at Unit 1, and the same step will be done at Unit 2 and Unit 3 soon. Unit 2 and Unit 3 are scheduled to start delivering electricity to the grid by the end of the year.

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ABB Australia to supply equipment for Perth wave energy project
19 Sep 2013

ABB Australia has won a contract from Carnegie Corporation Wave Energy for the onshore plant and process control system, which will be installed at the Perth wave energy project. ABB and Carnegie Corporation are likely to start initial onsite earthworks for the onshore plant in the near future.

To be located at Garden Island, Western Australia, the project calls for the installation and operation of four to eight submerged commercial scale Cylindrical Energy Transfer Oscillating (CETO) units with commissioning set for the first quarter of 2014.

Backed by Australian government funding through the Emerging Renewables Program, and the Western Australian State Government through the Low Emissions Energy Development fund, the project will sell its output to the Department of Defence for HMAS Stirling located on Garden Island.

Carnegie Corporation COO Greg Allen said that the company has awarded a contract to ABB for onshore plant and process control system, which is the final key element of the Perth wave energy project. "With all key elements ordered, and manufacture underway, we are making considerable progress toward the delivery of the Perth Wave Energy Project", added Allen.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Planning body dismisses anti-wind claims
10 Sep 2013

NSW Planning Assessment Commissions have given plans for the Bodangora wind farm in Dubbo, NSW, the green light. The PAC's recent tick of approval has come just a few weeks before the VCAT hearings on Victoria's Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposal which is scheduled to resume on September 27.

Both wind farm projects have caused controversy within surrounding communities but Friends of the Earth renewables spokesperson Leigh Ewbank said much of the controversy is brought about by the anti-wind farm scare campaign. "The PAC's approval of the Bodangora wind farm shows that planning authorities base their decisions on credible research, not pseudoscience claiming that wind farms harm human health", Mr Ewbank said.

Aside from approving the Bodangora wind farm PAC also dismissed health concerns brought to the attention of the commissioners by anti-wind farm campaigners.

The PAC report stated that: "NSW Health noted that the symptoms reported by residents concerned by wind farms are also reported by those living near other new developments of various kinds. Studies suggest these symptoms are suggestible, ie, if individuals are expecting to be impacted they will be more likely to report symptoms. It was also suggested that the visibility of the turbines influenced the likelihood of complaints from a neighbour".

Mr Ewbank said Friends of the Earth would hope VCAT take the ruling of the PAC into account when deciding the fate of the Cherry Tree Range proposal. "VCAT recently approved a fast food outlet in the Dandenong Ranges that mostly sells unhealthy food. It would be bizarre if they failed to approve a wind farm that produces clean and safe renewable energy", Mr Ewbank said.

He said the anti-wind farm lobby has made a concerted effort to turn the Mitchell Upper Lachlan Council community against the Cherry Tree Range wind farm proposal.

"The anti-wind farm organisers divide communities with their fear campaign and distract people from the local benefits of renewable energy", Mr Ewbank said. "The Cherry Tree Range will deliver jobs and drought-proof income for farmers and the community. It will allow the region to claim a leadership position in addressing climate change".

Based on estimates by Friends of the Earth, the Cherry Tree Range wind farm will generate up to $80,000 for a community fund each year, contribute $76,000 worth of rates each year, inject $1.2 million worth of flow on economic benefit to the economy and produce enough electricity to power 26,000 homes and prevent 150,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere each year.

Oceanlinx moves closer to wave energy go-ahead
11 Sep 2013

Oceanlinx Ltd has applied for South Australia's first generation licence using wave energy conversion technology, located offshore of Port MacDonnell, South Australia.

Oceanlinx Limited intends on installing a wave energy converter with a name plate rating of 1000kW. The unit will be connected to the 11kV distribution grid via a subsea cable, the SA Essential Services Commission says. All of the electricity generated will be sold to an energy retailer.

No fuel is used to generate the electricity. The unit is powered from air flow driving a turbine connected to an asynchronous generator. This air flow is created by the passing of waves interacting with the structure which houses the turbo-mechanical and electrical equipment.

The application will be assessed against relevant criteria specified in the Electricity Act and the Essential Services Commission Act 2002. Comments in respect of the application should be provided on or before October 7, 2013. The application has been made pursuant to Part 3 of the Electricity Act 1996 (Electricity Act).

Solar energy could help South Australia break away from oil and coal
6 Sep 2013

Wind and solar energy are gaining ground in Australia
The Australian Energy Market Operator has issued a new report concerning solar power in South Australia. The report suggests that the state could receive at least 50% of its energy from solar power within the next 10 years. Other forms of renewable energy could also help the state reach this goal. The report notes that nearly one in five homes in South Australia are equipped with rooftop photovoltaic systems.

Solar power continues to attract strong support
Solar energy has become a major focus throughout Australia. The country is currently working to distance itself from fossil fuels in order to find more economically viable forms of energy and mitigate its impact on the environment. Because the country is exposed to significant amounts of solar radiation year-round, Solar power has become one of the most popular forms of clean power. Solar energy does not encompass the country's interests in clean power, however, as wind power has also established itself as a priority.

Wind energy is also picking up momentum
The report shows that wind power already accounts for nearly 27% of the electricity in South Australia. New wind farms are scheduled to become active in the state in the coming years and these systems will contribute to the state's overall clean energy goals. The report notes that approximately 31% of the state's energy needs in the latter months of 2012 and early months of 2013 were met through wind power systems alone.

Over the next decade, wind and solar power are likely to begin reducing the need for fossil fuels in South Australia. The development of new renewable energy systems is also expected to have some impact on the state's economy. As new projects take root in the state, the need for workers spikes. New projects create new jobs, which help stimulate the local economy and provides the state with some degree of economic stability while it transitions away from conventional forms of energy.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Nuclear power’s renaissance in reverse
9 May 2013

PARIS-Last June, Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), declared that "nuclear power will make a significant and growing contribution to sustainable development in the coming decades". But, as this year's World Nuclear Industry Status Report highlights, recent trends paint a very different picture.

Duke Energy, America's largest utility, has shelved plans to build two reactors in Florida, after having spent $1 billion on the project. The decision came only three months after the company abandoned investment in two new units in North Carolina.

In fact, this year, four American utilities have decided to shut down a total of five reactors permanently-the first closures in the United States in 15 years. One of the units-Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin-was abandoned after massive investment in upgrades and a 60 year license renewal; it simply could not generate power at competitive prices. For the same reasons, Vermont Yankee, another plant with a license to operate through 2032, is now scheduled to close in 2014.

Similarly, the world's largest nuclear operator-the French state-controlled utility Electricite de France-announced its impending withdrawal from nuclear power in the US, after having sunk roughly $2 billion into aborted projects. And, in order to help offset soaring operating costs, which resulted in losses of €1.5 billion ($2 billion) last year, EDF Energy will raise electricity prices this year for its French customers by 5%, on average, and by another 5% next year.

Over the five years ending in March 2013, EDF Energy lost 85% of its share value. Likewise, the world's largest nuclear builder-the French state-controlled company AREVA-lost up to 88% of its share value between 2008 and 2012. Not surprisingly, investors have welcomed new strategic plans by both companies, as well as EDF Energy's withdrawal from the US market; the downward pressure on their share prices has eased, though for how long remains to be seen.

The nuclear power industry's decline began decades ago. But, since the March 2011 triple-meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant, the pace of the decline has accelerated significantly. Indeed, in 2012, annual nuclear generation worldwide dropped by an unprecedented 7%, exceeding the previous year's record-breaking drop of 4% and bringing total annual nuclear power generation to 12% below its historic maximum, achieved in 2006.

Read More…

Alstom signs 27MW Brazilian wind turbine deal
5 Sep 2013

BRAZIL: Alstom has signed a EUR 25 million contract with Enerplan, a subsidiary of Brazilian power company Oleoplan, to supply 27MW to a project southern Brazil. The company will supply 10 ECO 122 low wind turbines to the Pontal wind farm Viamao, Rio Grande do Sul state, and is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of 2015.

The nacelles will be manufactured at Alstom's plant in Bahia state and the towers will be produced at the company's new facility in Canoas, in Rio Grande do Sul state. Alstom is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the wind turbines for five years. Since 2010 Alstom has provided more than 2GW in wind projects in Brazil, including the supply of more than 600 ECO 122 wind turbines.

CLP Holdings says talks discontinued in China nuclear plant bid
4 Sep 2013

Talks have been discontinued for Hong Kong electricity producer CLP Group Ltd. (2) to buy a 4.8 billion ¥ ($784 million) stake in a Chinese power plant following regulatory delays after Japan's nuclear crisis.

Shareholder China General Nuclear Power Corp, told CLP Group this week that the deal wouldn't go ahead "for the time being", CLP Group said in a Hong Kong stock exchange filing yesterday. CLP Group agreed in 2011 to buy the 17% stake in the Yangjiang Nuclear Power Station in southern China's Guangdong province.

"Discussions on Yangjiang have been discontinued", CLP Group said in yesterday's statement. "There is no assurance that discussions will recommence or, if they do, that CLP Group will then be able to reach agreement".

The announcement upsets CLP Group's plans to increase spending on nuclear power even after the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear crisis prompted China to halt approval of new projects. Construction of the 6,000 MW Yangjiang plant, which was due to start operating in phases from 2013 to 2017, was delayed as the nation reviewed nuclear safety.

China General Nuclear Power said CLP Group wouldn't be able to take up the stake following the delays as well as a review of "funding needs and capital raising options", according to the CLP Group statement.

Shedding new light on the 'electron highways' of organic solar cells
2 Sep 2013

( absorbed by organic solar cells must first navigate a nanoscale gauntlet before becoming useable electricity. After hitting the light-absorbing material of the solar cell, called the photoactive layer, absorbed sunlight excites electrons, freeing them to find their way through a maze filled with twists, turns, dead-ends, and collisions. Only the free charges that successfully make it through this maze can be used in a circuit as electricity. So scientists have been looking for ways to ease the electron traffic jam in organic photovoltaics.

Now, researchers at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have developed a way to map out the degree of "traffic congestion" on the electron highways within the photoactive layer. Their new measurement and tracking technique uses optical-guided modes--a process of guiding light through precise areas in the horizontal plane of solar cells--to help scientists better understand how the materials used in the photoactive layers influence the speed and efficiency of electron travel.

"With our technique, you can now better understand how far the electrons move through the complex network of the photoactive layer", said Brookhaven physicist Matthew Eisaman, team leader on the new study published online in Advanced Energy Materials on August 25, 2013. "Previous studies revealed the material composition, but our technique illuminates how that structure impacts electron transport".

Unlike the large silicon-based solar cells you might typically see on household roofs or arrayed in large-scale installations to generate electricity, organic solar cells are more like flexible plastics. Organic cells could find widespread applications in portable power generation for commercial and military use or even in so-called "building-integrated photovoltaics", where solar cells are directly integrated into the windows, facade, or roof of a building. Their flexible forms can be made inexpensively using large-scale, roll-to-roll manufacturing. But for now these versatile materials are not as efficient as inorganic options.

Read More…

New nanomaterial increases yield of solar cells
26 Aug 2013

Researchers from the FOM Foundation, Delft University of Technology, Toyota Motor Europe and the University of California have developed a nanostructure with which they can make solar cells highly efficient. The researchers published their findings on 23 August 2013 in the online edition of Nature Communications.

Smart nanostructures can increase the yield of solar cells. An international team of researchers including physicists from the FOM Foundation, Delft University of Technology and Toyota, have now optimised the nanostructures so that the solar cell provides more electricity and loses less energy in the form of heat.

Solar cells
A conventional solar cell contains a layer of silicon. When sunlight falls on this layer, electrons in the silicon absorb the energy of the light particles (photons). Using this energy the electrons jump across a 'band gap', as a result of which they can freely move and electricity flows.

The yield of a solar cell is optimised if the photon energy is equal to the band gap of silicon. Sunlight, however, contains many photons with energies greater than the band gap. The excess energy is lost as heat, which limits the yield of a conventional solar cell.

Several years ago the researchers from Delft University of Technology, as well as other physicists, demonstrated that the excess energy could still be put to good use. In small spheres of a semiconducting material the excess energy enables extra electrons to jump across the band gap. These nanospheres, the so-called quantum dots, have a diameter of just one ten thousandth of a human hair.

If a light particle enables an electron in a quantum dot to cross the band gap, the electron moves around in the dot. That ensures that the electron collides with other electrons that subsequently jump across the band gap as well. As a result of this process a single photon can mobilise several electrons thereby multiplying the amount of current produced.

Read More…