Thursday 30 May 2013

Kewaunee nuclear power plant shutdown cost is nearly $1 billion
20 Apr 2013

When the Kewaunee Power Station stops generating electricity next month, a new chapter in its life will open-one that could last until the 2070s and cost nearly $1 billion.

The plant operators will begin the process of decommissioning the nuclear power plant, an endeavor that aims to restore the site along Lake Michigan to what it looked like in the 1960s, before the facility was built. Kewaunee owner Dominion Resources Inc, has announced it will shut the plant on May 7, a move that is expected to result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The reactor is closing because the Wisconsin utilities that had purchased its electricity declined to continue buying it, citing the low price of natural gas. Dominion put the power plant up for sale in 2011, but no buyer emerged. So in a few short weeks, the mission of those who work at Kewaunee will change from generating power to cleaning up the power plant site.

"We've got 60 years to turn it back to a 'greenfield' site", said Mark Kanz, spokesman for Dominion. "At some point it basically has to look like the farm fields in the 1960s, before any construction started here".

As part of the decommissioning, all buildings on the 900 acre site east of Green Bay will be torn down and low-level radioactive waste will be shipped out of state. What could remain on site for generations, however, are the concrete casks of spent nuclear fuel-the high-level radioactive waste that is changed out every 18 months when a reactor refuels.

The federal government is responsible for the cleanup of the spent fuel, with the Department of Energy accessing a separate decommissioning fund paid for by Wisconsin ratepayers for the cost of placing spent fuel in storage and a possible move to a long-term disposal site.

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Top-rated weather services get wind turbines up and running faster
18 Apr 2013

Wind farms rely on the weather around the clock, for better or for worse. Windy days help turbines pump clean power across the grid, while quiet days require other forms of electricity to keep reliable power flowing.

But, how weather impacts wind farm construction is considered less often. Towering turbines and wide-open locations mean crews must be certain about weather conditions before bringing in equipment or scaling structures. To ensure the safety of crews, efficient project budgets and reasonable customer expectations, a weather forecasting service is an essential, indispensable tool during construction and subsequent maintenance.

Relying on generic, publicly available weather forecasting is risky to crews and is not cost-effective for operations. Instead, location-specific, customizable weather forecasting and alerts that display conditions in real-time will give construction crews the information they need to complete work and communicate project expectations or delays to the customer. Users of Schneider Electric's MxVision WeatherSentry Online, for example, find its real-time lightning displays and detections are critical for determining when to continue construction and when to leave the area. When using another tool that doesn't display lightning until long after it has happened, crews have less certainty about whether to continue working, which can cost time and money.

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Nanowires boost efficiency of solar cells
19 Apr 2013

ZnO quantum dots could translates fabrication of large-area films making solar panels Solar cells made from quantum dots could be low-cost, flexible, and easy to make. But the efficiency with which they convert light into electricity remains too low for practical use. Capitalising on this, researchers' at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have combined nanowires with quantum dot solar cells.

The cell's efficiency increases the cells' efficiency by 35%. Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals that absorb different wavelengths of light depending on their size. Solar cells made from different-sized crystals should absorb light over a much wider range of colours than silicon devices.

What's more, because quantum dots are made in solution, they could be easily printed or painted onto flexible surfaces. Scientists have calculated that quantum dots could be used to make thin-film solar cells that could convert light to electricity with 15% efficiency, the same as commercial silicon devices.

The best-performing quantum dot solar cells consist of a lead sulphide quantum dot layer butted up against a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide layer. The quantum dots absorb light, and electrons created in the process travel to the metal oxide layer to reach the electrical circuit.

The problem is that the quantum dot layer has to be thick enough to absorb light efficiently, but thin enough for the electrons to quickly traverse it. The MIT researchers, led by electrical engineering and computer science professor Vladimir Bulovic, overcame that trade off by replacing the flat ZnO layer with an array of vertical zinc oxide nanowires.

Nanowires penetrate the quantum dot layer, providing conductive paths for the electrons to follow out to the electrical circuit, says Joel Jean, a graduate student in Bulovic's group. The researchers published their results in the journal Advanced Materials.

The researchers start with glass substrates that are coated with indium tin oxide transparent electrodes. They deposit a ZnO layer on top and float the entire susbtrate upside down in an aqueous solution of zinc precursors.

An array of aligned nanowires grows downwards from the ZnO layer. After about an hour, the researchers rinse the substrates. Finally, they deposit PbS quantum dots, which fill up the space between the nanowires, and top it off with a gold electrode.

The nanowires boost the output current of the devices by 50% and the efficiency by 35% over planar ZnO devices. The overall light-to-electricity conversion efficiency of the new devices is 4.9%, among the highest reported for ZnO-based quantum dot solar cells, Jean says.

The researchers believe the efficiency could be further enhanced by using thicker light-absorbing layers and longer nanowires, as well as by controlling the spacing between nanowires to better accommodate quantum dots.

The idea of using ZnO nanowires to increase efficiency in quantum dot solar cells is not new, but this is the first significant implementation of the concept, says Matthew Beard, a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "The observed efficiency boost is promising and significant", he says. "The efficiencies for these types of solar cells are increasing rapidly and this work demonstrates that the improvements in efficiency will continue".

A key advantage of the nanowire-quantum dot cells, says Jean, is that they could be made on large areas. "One of the main benefits of quantum dots is that they're grown in and deposited from solution", he adds.

"This translates to fabrication of large-area films, which is necessary for making solar panels. Zinc oxide nanowires are also grown in an aqueous solution process. Scalability should be one of the primary practical advantages of this type of solar cell".

Portugal provides 70% of electricity using renewable energy
19 Apr 2013

Figures from Portugal's electricity network operator indicate that 70% of all electricity consumed in the country during the first quarter of this year was derived from renewable energy sources, leading to a marked decline in the usage of conventional fossil fuels for power generation purposes.

The record-breaking levels of renewable energy usage were heavily abetted by favourable weather conditions, expediting generation by hydroelectric power facilities and wind turbines and bringing about declines in electricity consumption by Portuguese citizens.

Hydro was the biggest power provider throughout the quarter, supplying 37% of all electricity consumed in Portugal for a staggering 312% year-on-year increase.

Wind power came in second, supplying 27% of total electricity and achieving a record-breaking generation level for Portugal. wind turbine power generation levels increased 60% year-on-year and were 37% greater than average.

In stark contrast to the prominence of hydroelectric power and wind in Portugal's energy portfolio, however, solar power makes only a negligible contribution to nationwide power generation. While figures on solar power generation for the first quarter of 2013 are not yet available, in 2012 photovoltaics only supplied 0.7% of total energy demand, equivalent to 225.5 MWs.

The frugal energy consumption habits of the Portuguese no doubt also contributed to the increased prominence of renewables. While a warm winter and fewer working days contributed to a marked decline in energy usage of 2.3% during the first quarter, power consumption in Portugal has fallen steadily over the past several years and currently stands at 2006 levels.

The increased usage of renewable energy has conversely led to a sharp decline in the consumption of conventional fossil fuels, which the small Iberian nation can only import. Portugal used 29% less coal and 44% less gas for electricity generation in the first quarter compared to 2012 figures.

Portugal has undertaken concerted efforts to transition toward renewable energy sources since the middle of last decade, in order to reduce the country's reliance on imported fossil fuels as well as harness its rich climate resources as a peninsular nation state.

In 2011, Portugal even managed to use renewable energy sources to provide for all the country's power needs for a period of several hours. The March quarter of 2013 marks the first occasion, however, that the country has managed to supply so much of its energy needs from renewable sources over such a protracted time frame.

US wind energy grows 28% and installs 45,100 turbines for a breakthrough
17 Apr 2013

According to the latest report from the American Wind Energy Association, wind power in the United States had grown 28% during 2012 and it now accounts for 42% of all new US electricity-generating capacity. Setting a new installation record of 6,600 wind turbines erected during 2012, leaving the country with 45,100 wind turbines, enough to power 15.2 million homes in a country with nearly 320 million people, the country has confirmed its status as a mainstream energy source.

"We had an incredibly productive year in 2012, it really showed what this industry can do and the impact we can have with a continued national commitment to renewable energy. We're doing what Americans overwhelmingly say they want: making cleaner, renewable energy, and creating good jobs in U.S, factories", said Rob Gramlich, CEO of AWEA, according to press release.

Wind energy contributed to over 80,000 jobs in the US. In 2012, the wind industry has actually helped donate to the rise in the entire US economy. Wind power provided green energy, helped to appease drought conditions in the country by saving over 35 billion gallons of fresh water (120 gallons for every American) that would have otherwise gone to generating energy. Moreover, it avoids over 4% of CO₂ emissions in the power sector annually.

Meridian Energy receives consent for Hurunui Wind Farm
18 Apr 2013

The New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) congratulates Meridian Energy on receiving consent for its proposed Hurunui Wind Farm in North Canterbury. The project was approved by the Environment Court earlier this week.

"It is evident from the decision that the Court has given careful consideration to the full range of issues raised by the community. It is a reasonable decision for both the community and the developer", says Eric Pyle, Chief Executive of NZWEA. The Court approved 31 of the 33 proposed wind turbines.

"The project is a valuable addition to Meridian Energy's pipeline of projects. Hurunui is a solid option for new generation, even given the uncertainty in the electricity market and flat electricity demand", said Mr Pyle. "The project is located in a region where there are transmission constraints and limited local generation. Wind is one of the lowest cost options for new generation in NZ. And if the forecasts related to the reducing cost of wind power hold true, the wind could undercut existing thermal generation within a few years".

Globally, wind is one of the leading sources of new electricity generation. A report released yesterday by the Global Wind Energy Council shows that 44.8 GWs of new wind generation was installed around the world in 2012. This is more than four times New Zealand's total generation capacity. Steve Saywer, GWEC's Secretary General recently commented that wind is now competitive in an increasing number of markets, despite fossil fuel subsidies which last year amounted to an incentive to emit CO₂ of about $110 per tonne.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

David Suzuki: Health effects from wind power unfounded
16 Apr 2013

For a study published in the American Psychological Association's Health Psychology journal, researchers from New Zealand's University of Auckland showed readily available anti-wind-power film footage to 27 people. Another 27 were shown interviews with experts who said infrasound, such as that created by wind turbines, can't directly cause negative health effects. Subjects were then told they would be exposed to two 10 minute periods of infrasound, but were actually only exposed to one.

After both real and "sham" exposure, people in the first group were far more likely to report negative symptoms than those in the second. In fact, subjects in the second group reported "no symptomatic changes" after either exposure. According to the researchers, "Results suggest psychological expectations could explain the link between wind turbine exposure and health complaints".

Another study, which has yet to be published, shows people living near wind-power installations report more health problems during anti-wind campaigns. Researchers from Australia's Sydney University found only 120 complaints from people living within five km of the country's 49 wind farms between 1993 and 2012. But 68% were from people living near five wind farms targeted by anti-wind farm groups, and 82% occurred after 2009, when wind-energy opponents started highlighting health scares in their campaigns

The power of suggestion can be extremely effective, especially when it comes to human health. Unfortunately, in the case of wind power, this can delay or even stop wind-power installations that are a necessary part of the shift from polluting fossil fuels to clean energy, as has happened recently in Canada.

In fact, science shows that wind power does not negatively affect human health in any significant way. An independent panel convened by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection reviewed the available research and released a report last year. It found no scientific evidence to support most claims about "Wind Turbine Syndrome", infrasound effects and harm blamed on wind power such as pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease and headache/migraine.

At worst, there is some evidence that wind installations may cause annoyance and sleep disruption. But most of the resulting minor effects can be overcome by regulations governing how close windmills are to residences. In Ontario, the required setback is 550 metres. At this distance, audible sound from windmills is normally below 40 decibels, which is about what you'd find in most bedrooms and living rooms.

On the other hand, we know that using fossil fuels for energy has profound effects on human health--and on the economy. The Canadian Medical Association reports that in 2008 air pollution in Canada was responsible for 21,000 premature deaths, 92,000 emergency room visits and 620,000 visits to a doctor's office. And a new study by the Pembina Institute found that "health impact costs associated with burning coal for electricity in Alberta are close to $300 million annually".

According to Pembina researchers, "Coal plants are a major source of toxic air contaminants, including mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, and particulate matter. The study shows that in Alberta each year this pollution contributes to over 4,000 asthma episodes, over 700 emergency visits for respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, and around 80 hospital admissions, with chronic exposures resulting in nearly 100 premature deaths".

Factor these costs into the equation, and coal and other fossil fuels don't seem like the bargain they're purported to be--especially considering the sector is subsidized by about $1.9 trillion a year worldwide, according to the International Monetary Fund. With the costs of renewable energy coming down, and the technology improving, more and more research shows that switching from fossil fuels to clean energy is feasible.

When it comes to wind power, we have to be careful to ensure that impacts on the environment and on animals such as birds and bats are minimized, and we should continue to study possible effects on health. But we must also be wary of false arguments against it.

Brazil's wind-power generating capacity soars
17 Apr 2013

Sao Paulo, April 17 (IANS/EFE) Brazil's wind-power generating capacity soared 73% in 2012 to 2.5 GW, thanks to the commencement of operations at 40 new wind farms, the Brazilian Wind Energy Association said. Wind farms provided electricity to about 7.5 million people, or a population larger than that of Rio de Janeiro, the industry group said in a report.

Wind-power investment totaled 3.5 billion reais (about $1.77 billion) last year, with 15,000 direct and indirect jobs being created, the association said. Average monthly power production reached 556 MW in 2012, with peak output of 771 MW registered in October, marking a new record, the trade group said. Installed wind generation capacity is expected to grow around 141% this year to 6 GW, the association said.

Investment in Brazil's wind power industry is projected to total about $10 billion between 2013 and 2017, the trade group said. Brazil avoided emitting 1.2 million tonnes of CO₂, the gas believed to cause global warming, last year, thanks to the wind farms, the association said. The South American country's new wind farms use more powerful turbines and towers that are up to 100 meters tall, the trade group said.

Japan puts nuclear energy on hold, embraces solar power
16 Apr 2013

Two years after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011, Japan has scaled back it's nuclear power and is seeking to diversify it's energy mix, with solar power showing the strongest growth.

Supporters of Japan's nuclear industry claim it would be unwise to give up the advantages of nuclear power because of a single accident. However, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe knows that restarting the country's nuclear power plants will be highly unpopular, says Professor Dr Stefan Lippert, World Review expert on economics.

"Japan will pursue a highly diversified energy policy", he says. "In particular it will focus on reducing the costs of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and increasing the share of renewables". "In 2012, Japan added approximately 2.5 GW of solar power capacity to the 4.8 GW already installed", he says.

The Japanese government continues to favour wind over solar power, but the market shows a strong preference for solar, at least as long as the very high feed-in tariffs-in international terms-are kept in place. However, Shinzo Abe refuses to rule out the prospect of re-starting the shut-down reactors and building new nuclear power plants in the future, although he has not provided a timeline for this. "The final decision on Japan's long-term energy strategy will not be made before the 2020s", says Dr Lippert.

Silex opens Australia's largest CPV plant
15 Apr 2013

Silex Systems has commenced operation of Australia's largest concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power station in Victoria's north-west.

The Mildura development, run by Silex subsidiary Solar Systems, will have a capacity of 1.5 MWs when fully operational-enough to power up to 500 average sized homes. A power purchase agreement for power off-take onto the local Mildura grid was signed with Diamond Energy in December last year.

"The commencement of operations at our Mildura Demonstration Facility is a significant milestone in the commercialisation of Solar Systems' unique 'Dense Array' CPV technology", Silex CEO Dr Michael Goldsworthy said.

"The first array consisting of 10 dish systems has been successfully commissioned and is operational, with the remaining three arrays of 30 dishes to be brought online progressively over the next few weeks".

The planning phase for the next stage, the 100MW Mildura Solar Power Station Project, remains on track, the company said, with construction commencement expected late in 2014. This timeline is reliant on the successful operation of the demonstration facility and finalisation of funding arrangements.

Wind investment could hedge rising power prices: Vestas
15 Apr 2013

Increasing wind investment in Australia so renewable energy accounts for at least 20% of the country's energy mix would help hedge against rising power prices, according to the chief of the world's biggest wind power company.

Ditlev Engel, chief executive officer of Denmark-based Vestas Wind Systems, said utilities had been taking on wind power to hedge the unpredictability of gas prices because the cost of the wind was easier to predict and guarantee.

"I think you see a lot of utilities saying well it's a good idea to have 20%, 30% of our portfolio in wind", Mr Engel said. Speaking to Business Spectator's KGB, Mr Engel said the fundamentals of the wind power sector were strong despite price falls since the global financial crisis.

In the wake of the global financial crisis, the price on the emissions trading scheme in Europe plunged from €30 to €4 and gas prices in the US fell from $US12 to $US3. Other factors contributing to a "perfect storm" engulfing the wind sector included stagnant economic growth and the absence of public dialogue on the impact of renewables in the face of eurozone woes.

But energy security was an issue for governments and they should avoid depending on gas for fuel, particularly given the difficulty and cost of transporting it, he said. "If you take the shale gas in the US, it costs about $3 to $4 dollars in the US and the landed cost in Asia is about $12, $13", he said.

"I can tell you at $12, $13 wind is by far more competitive. We just have to remember that a lot of infrastructure investment has to go in there in order to exploit the gas as well".

Meanwhile, when the huge investment in wind power, particularly in storage and batteries, paid off it "could break the very important price barrier for renewables" and reduce Australia's dependency on other countries.

"The most risky thing you can do I think in any business is to say we are here today, disregard technology development and say that we're going to be here in 10 years from now", he said.

Somaliland gets wind in its sails for revamping power sector
15 Apr 2013

In 2009, Hassan Ahmed Hussein brought an industrial bread-making machine from abroad to install in his hotel in downtown Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. Hassan's idea was part business, part self-interest. Wholewheat bread is not available in Somaliland, and he envisioned selling it to small-scale vendors.

He baked bread for four months before coming to the unfortunate conclusion that the machine wasn't cost effective. Electricity in Somaliland is too expensive. While the rest of the world pays an average $0.15-$0.30 per kW hour, Hargeisa's residents pay $1 per kW.

He abandoned the bakery and, in 2009, bought a diesel generator, poles, wires and transformers to start his own power company, Iftin, which rapidly gained nearly 2,000 customers in a catchment area of 10,000 residents. He has since merged his power stations with the city's largest provider, KAAH, and now serves more than 4,500 people on the same grid.

Hassan is not the only local power provider. There is little government support for power generation (pdf), and many of Hargeisa's wealthy residents import diesel generators to power homes and businesses. The independent providers depend on the price of diesel and Middle East exporters.

When Somalia collapsed in 1991, wires, poles and generators in Hargeisa were taken over by the emerging Somaliland government. The new government had no money to invest in the power grid, so independent providers began to appear. As a result, a system whereby neighbours pay neighbours for electricity has gone unchecked.

Somaliland rates are high due to a disjointed network of independent providers that have their own grid and use unreliable, dilapidated equipment. Somaliland's minister of energy, Hussein Abdi Dualeh, says the city loses nearly 40% of its electricity due to technical problems and antiquated materials.

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Wind farm opening sparks call for planning rethink
15 Apr 2013

The Victorian Wind Alliance is using the opening of the Macarthur wind farm to urge the State Government to revisit its wind farm planning laws. Premier Denis Napthine opened the 140 turbine wind farm in south-west Victoria on Friday. Last year, the Government introduced new laws which gave power to households to veto turbines within two km of their homes. The alliance's Andrew Bray says now is the right time for Dr Napthine to personally review those laws.

"The wind farm planning laws are really under some pressure now because the Premier himself was glowing in his praise for the wind farm and he spoke very openly of the benefits for the regional economy there, for Portland where they built the towers and the port handled all the cargo for it and also the local district around Macarthur", he said. The Premier says the rules strike the right balance and has ruled out any changes.

ADB to loan $85 million for three solar power plants in Thailand
15 Apr 2013

The Asian Development Bank will lend $85 million to Solarco, a unit of Thailand's second-biggest private power producer, for three solar plants. The 57 MWs of projects will be developed at three main sites in Nakhonpathom and Suphanburi provinces in central Thailand, ADB said in an April 12 statement on its website.

A $52 million loan has been approved for Solarco, a unit of Electricity Generating (EGCO2 Public Co. An additional $33 million will be given to Solarco through the ADB Clean Technology Fund. Electricity Generating plans to raise its installed capacity of renewable energy to more than 300 MWs by 2015 from 9.9 MWs of biomass and 64 MWs of solar capacity currently, according to the statement.

THE Desert Kingdom; desalination from oil power to solar power?
15 Apr 2013

Saudi Arabia finds itself in an interesting economic cleft stick. While blessed with oil that it can currently sell at around $104 per barrel on the world market, it is compelled to burn a sizable proportion of that potential income to produce desalinated water. Cost of production of water fluctuates, but a fair guess is between 40 and 90¢ a barrel, depending on fuel price.

To produce water, the Kingdom uses approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil a day across its 30 or so desalination plants to meet the demand for domestic and industrial water. Little of this water--if any is used for agriculture. The water for agriculture--some 85 to 90% of the total water use in the Kingdom--comes from non-replaceable resources, underground aquifers that are drying out rapidly. For every 100 liters per annum withdrawn, only one liter or less finds itself back into the aquifer.

The government has wisely decided that food security, once an unquestionable shibboleth of policy, is no longer worth the use of resources and has taken up the idea of virtual water. This refers to the hidden flow of water if food or other commodities are traded from one place to another.

Virtual water is best defined as "the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured at the place where the product was actually produced". It refers to the sum of the water use in the various steps of the production chain. It is 'virtual' for when the product arrives at its destination, the water is no longer contained in it, and was used only to produce it. An example of the saving of such imports is wheat, which takes 1,600 tons of water on average to produce one ton of grain.

It has resolved that the Kingdom will rely entirely on imports for food by 2016. Starting in 2008, the government has been reducing wheat purchases from local farmers by 12.5% a year and plans eventually to withdraw all agricultural subsidies to these farmers. Having addressed the issue of water supply and use and effectively engaged the biggest user of water, agriculture, positively, desalination for the balance of life in the Kingdom remains a huge challenge on several levels.

A major issue, the use of expensive oil that could produce income for making water, has spawned a slew of projects based on solar power for water production. The Kingdom might, and probably is, considering nuclear power as another option, but this introduces the political aspect of the importation of nuclear fuels and technology to the region, which is already under the baleful gaze of the West.

Happily, Saudi Arabia is one of the sunniest places on earth, averaging between 200 and 300 hours per month. Solar power therefore is an environmentally friendly, infinitely renewable (well, for the next seven billion years or so and the earth will have dried out and life gone in 3.5 billion) and very available alternative. Moreover it is harmless, both politically and environmentally.

The Kingdom seems to have opted so far for the expensive option of photovoltaic cell electricity generation to run the new solar desalination plants rather than the simpler, longer lasting and lower maintenance Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) alternative. Commercially viable CSP plants are already in operation in California, France and Spain--all with lower sunshine hours--and are feeding electricity into the grid.

The government is tackling the building of desalination capacity actively and has allocated $6.4 billion for water and sanitation projects in 2013.

Saline Water Conversion Corp. SWCC, (which supplies 50% of the municipal water in the Kingdom and produces 18% of the global total) for example plans to build the world's largest water desalination plant in Rabigh and will have the ability to pump 600,000 cubic meters of desalinated water per day. The conventionally fueled plant should be completed by 2018. State-owned National Water Co, plans to spend $66 billion on plants and upgrades over the next 10 years.

In October 2012, Abdul Rahman Al-Ibrahim, governor of SWCC announced plans to establish three new solar-powered desalination plants in Haqel, Dhuba and Farasan in addition to the one under construction in Khafji.

The Khafji solar desalination project will be the first large-scale solar-powered seawater reverse-osmosis (SWRO) plant in the world. It was due for completion at the end of 2012 and designed with a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters of water per day for the 100,000 customers.

The Khafji desal plant is the first step in King Abdullah City for Science and Technology's solar power program to reduce desalination costs. Phase two of the project is the construction of a new plant to produce 300,000 cubic meters of water per day is planned by 2015, and phase three will involve Haqel, Dhuba and Farasan by 2018.

The Kingdom is not alone in the search for a clean, effective and cheap means of producing water. The UN classifies around 700 million people in 43 countries as suffering from water scarcity today. By 2025 the figure is forecast to rise to 1.8 billion.

With the global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050 and the US secretary of state openly discussing the threat of water shortages leading to wars, the production of desalinated water has never been more important.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Premier Denis Napthine unveils a massive wind farm in state's southwest
12 Apr 2013

PREMIER Denis Napthine has signalled there will be more wind turbines in Victoria's southwest.

Speaking at the launch of the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere in Macarthur, near Hamilton, Dr Napthine said the turbines were "magnificent"-and said Victoria's southwest was the perfect place for renewable energy production.

"I am very proud and will, at every opportunity, advocate that southwest Victoria is not only the home of renewable energy, but we've only just started in terms of the potential for renewable energy in this area", he said.

"I think they (the turbines) are absolutely fantastic", Dr Napthine said. "They're not right in every place, but in places like this-the wide open plains-I think they are really valuable in terms of their energy production. "I think they are majestic and I actually love them".

The 140 turbine Macarthur wind farm, a joint project between AGL Energy and partner Meridian Energy, took 2 1/2 years to build and cost $1 billion. The turbines have the capacity to power more than 220,000 average Victorian homes and abate more than 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.

Dr Napthine, the local MP, said he wanted to see more renewable energy projects as soon as possible. "There is already significant government support for work being done on wave energy, tidal power, geothermal energy, in this region. "And I believe those opportunities should be pursued at every opportunity", he said.

AGL Energy managing director and CEO Michael Fraser said the Macarthur project not only delivered clean, renewable energy but generated significant economic benefits for the region during development and construction.

But the project has faced opposition from anti-wind protesters who say the turbines cause health problems. A crowd of protesters gathered at the gate as industry leaders and dignitaries arrived yesterday, angry about the 420 MW project. Dr Napthine said he would meet anti-wind protesters to discuss their concerns.

Wind to win as exports drive gas prices higher
11 Apr 2013

Australia's $63 billion of projects to export liquefied natural gas from the east coast are set to push up domestic prices, opening the way for record investment at home in competing energy sources to produce power.

Prices are forecast to double this decade closer to levels customers in Asia will pay for Australian LNG after companies including BG Group and Santos open terminals to ship gas that could have been supplied to the local market. That will help drive the $33 billion of wind-and solar power projects developers plan to build through 2020 in Australia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

"With high, LNG-driven domestic gas prices, renewable energy is the cheapest source of new electricity generation", according to Kobad Bhavnagri, a Sydney-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "It is quite conceivable that we could leapfrog straight from coal to renewables to reduce emissions as carbon prices rise".

Electricity can be supplied from a new wind farm in Australia at a cost of as little as $80 per MW when a price on carbon emissions is included, compared with $143 a MW from a new coal-fired power plant or $116 a MW from a new station powered by gas, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report said in February.

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Sarah Laurie: doctoring the truth about wind power
10 Apr 2013

Sarah Laurie* is CEO and primary spokesperson for the Waubra Foundation, an anti-wind power campaigning group based a long way from Waubra with tight links to Australia's fossil fuels industry and well-off people fighting proposed wind farms near their rural idylls. Formerly a GP, Ms. Laurie has been non-practicing and de-registered longer than she was practicing, but has taken up anti-wind lobbying to fill the void. Due to her active spreading of disinformation, she's up for the Australian Skeptics Society's annual Bent Spoon award for 2013.

On March 20th, Ms. Laurie appeared as a guest of Bill Padley on Let's Talk on Talk Radio Europe (full transcript at the end of this article). Let's see if her interview provides any clues on why she might get that Bent Spoon.

For those unfamiliar with this Talk Radio Europe, it was founded to provide the sounds of home to people from England with vacation and retirement properties on the coasts of Spain. Other guests of this particular program have included well-known present and past climate change denialists including James Delingpole and Bjorn Lomborg and some lesser knowns including Johnny Ball (episode title: Beware the global warming fascist). Oddly, Lord Christopher Monckton is missing, perhaps because he keeps touring other parts of the world with swastikas.

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Windfarm cash to fill community 'sails'
10 Apr 2013

With less than a week until the $50,000 Clements Gap Sustainable Communities Fund closes, Pacific Hydro is urging groups not to leave their applications to the last minute.

"Applications must be received by Tuesday", said the wind farm company's general manager Lane Crockett. Groups and organisations operating in Clement's Gap, Mundoora, Port Broughton, Wandearah, Redhill and Crystal Brook are eligible for funding.

"If your group or organisation is working on socially and environmentally sustainable projects that need funding, we encourage you to apply", Mr Crockett said.

The Fund Allocation Panel is comprised of four community members, four Pacific Hydro staff and a representative from both Barunga West and Port Pirie councils.

Applications are accepted in five areas: sport and recreation, health and safety, art and culture, education and the environment. Visit or phone Chloe on (03) 8621 6428.

Hydro Tasmania signs on for $1.6bn plan
10 Apr 2013

Hydro Tasmania and Chinese energy company Shenhua have today signed a strategic cooperation agreement in Beijing that the companies say could lead to $1.6 billion in wind power investment.

"This strategic agreement builds upon the excellent relationship that has developed between Hydro Tasmania and Shenhua over the past few years, with respect to Australian wind farm development", Hydro Tasmania chairman, Dr David Crean, said.

"This follows on from the Roaring 40s joint venture involving Shenhua subsidiary Guohua and Hydro Tasmania from 2007 to 2009 where several wind farms were jointly constructed and managed in China".

In February this year Shenhua acquired a 75% stake in the Musselroe wind farm, a project due for completion by Hydro Tasmania in July 2013. Prior to that Shenhua bought a 75% stake in the Woolnorth wind farms (Bluff Point and Studland Bay) in 2011.

Hydro Tasmania CEO Roy Adair said the strategic cooperation agreement will guide the two businesses as they work on plans to develop, build and operate a further 700 MW of wind farms in Australia by 2020, with a total estimated investment of $1.6 billion.

"The company is one of the world's largest wind developers and brings a wealth of expertise in the renewable energy sector and a strong interest in working with us on other renewable energy projects", he said.