Saturday 10 August 2013

Green energy helps reduce power bills, study finds
25 Jun 2013

Wind farms, hydroelectric power and other renewable energy sources will actually cut household electricity bills, not push up bills as detractors have claimed, a new study suggests.

Research commissioned by wind farm owner Meridian Energy found the national renewable energy target-which requires electricity generators to provide at least 20% of power from clean sources by 2020 will ultimately force down wholesale power prices.

It found the renewable energy legislation would save Victorian households about $35 a year if the carbon price stayed, and $50 if it were abolished. South Australia-which already gets more than 20% of power from renewables-would save as much as $56 a year.

It is a different story in NSW and Queensland, where renewable energy has less impact on wholesale prices. Households in the northern states would pay up to $27 more because of the legislation. The study found that nationally, households would be in front, saving as much as $12 a year-assuming the carbon price survived.

Meridian Energy EnergyAustralia chief executive Ben Burge said the study, which was commissioned from consultants Sinclair Merz Knight, challenged claims that renewable energy was driving up power bills. "The [target] has been mischaracterised as a direct tax on consumers", said Mr Burge, who is also the chief executive of retailer Powershop. "What this research proves is that wind is not the culprit. Wind reduces pressure on households".

Work starts on Gullen Range windfarm
21 Jun 2013

Construction has begun on a wind farm in the region's south. More than 80 turbines will be built as part of Goldwin's Gullen Range project, which was approved in 2009. The Upper Lachlan Council has now negotiated contracts with the company for the upgrading and reconstruction of several roads and a bridge in the region.

The Mayor John Shaw, says a lot of the roadworks have already started. "The wind farm itself is up and going already, they've done a lot of the preparation work", he said. "VICOSC think all of the pads are down for the wind towers and they're actually starting to deliver them. "It was just a matter of getting agreement on the roads and how they're going to be used and times and those sorts of things, just a traffic management plan".

Councillor Shaw says a lot of the roadwork is almost complete. "There has been some changes, there's been some upgrades to some of the roads", he said. "There was some work done in Crookwell itself, because the turbines themselves go from Goulburn on the main road through to Crookwell and to get them from going through the town of Crookwell, they had to do some road works to upgrade it".

Vestas receives 51-megawatt turbine order for Swedish wind farm
21 Jun 2013

Vestas Wind Systems A/VICOSC (VWS), Europe's biggest wind-turbine maker, agreed to provide 51 MWs of systems for a power plant at a Swedish paper mill. The wind farm in Varsvik, Sweden, about 100 km (60 miles) north of Stockholm, is owned by the pulp and paper supplier Holmen AB (HOLMB) and the French bank Natixis, according to a statement today from Aarhus, Denmark-based Vestas Wind Systems. The 17 x 3-MW turbines may be installed beginning in the second quarter of next year, according to the statement.

Innovative inspection method for photovoltaic systems
20 Jun 2013

Scientists at the Institute of Photovoltaic at the University of Stuttgart have developed an innovative method, enabling damage to the photovoltaic modules to be revealed quickly, above all for the first time also independent of lighting conditions with the help of luminescence images.

The Stuttgart Solar Centre, a working group from the Institute of Photovoltaic at the University of Stuttgart and the Steinbeis Centre for Photovoltaic, integrated together with HighFinesse GmbH the daylight luminescence method into the measurement system DaySy. This enables the luminescence to also be measured for the first time during the day.

A solar cell generates power from light and vice versa light from power. However, the solar cell only shines in places in which it is intact. This electrical luminescence is, however, not visible to the human eye. In the image of a camera optimised for the solar cell luminescence, the dark places reveal where there are defects.

Before new photovoltaic modules leave the factory, they are checked for defects as standard practice. However, damage could already occur on the transport route in the form of micro cracks and cell breakages. Incorrect assembly adds other defects. This damage generally only becomes noticeable after several years in the form of reduced output. Exchanging badly damaged modules is advisable since they could have a disproportionate impact on the performance of the system.

Up to now defective PV modules were able to be ascertained either by means of a thermal imaging camera; however, this could only be done from a solar irradiation exceeding 700 W/m², or by means of electrical luminance. The latter procedure was, however, only successful in the evening or at night since during the day the solar irradiation superimposes the considerably weaker luminescence of the systems.

The daylight luminescence method DaySy not only functions irrespective of daylight; it can also clearly classify the type of damage through the combination of electrical luminescence and photo luminescence measurements. After a short measurement time of approx. 30 seconds per module, DaySy ascertains the most frequent defects occurring with photovoltaic systems: broken cell connectors, (micro-) cracks, inactive cell surfaces, losses through series resistances, bad weak light conditions as well as potential-induced degradation (PID).

Thursday 8 August 2013

Climate change could affect power plant operations & nuclear capacity according to DOE Report

Power Engineering

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says climate change and the resulting rising temperatures can potentially affect water levels and temperatures at power plants and affect demand on the power grid.

The report was released as part of the President's Climate Action Plan and states that every corner of the United States will be affected by increased temperatures. Increased temperatures and drought conditions can affect cooling water temperatures that are required for coal-fired and gas-fired power plants as reported by Power Engineering. Approximately 60 percent of the nation's thermal power plants that require water for cooling are located in areas that have been hard hit by drought conditions.

Temperatures have increased 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century. In hotter weather, customers use more electricity to cool their housing and businesses. A study by the DOE Argonne National Laboratory found that peak demand during hot weather could require the power output of 100 additional power plants.

Another example cited in the report is reduced water available for hydropower. In 2012, the Sierra Nevada Mountains experienced a lighter snowpack than normal. As a result, California had an eight percent drop in hydropower capacity. Lower levels in Lake Mead resulted in a 23 percent drop in the power generation at the Hoover Dam.

The DOE report says nuclear stations will shut down more often due to water temperatures, citing the shutdown in August 2012 at the Millstone Nuclear Power Station Shutdown due to warmer temperatures in Long Island Sound.

The report comes one week after President Obama, describing climate change as a threat to future generations, called for action to address the problem "before it's too late". The President said his goal is to cut heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants.

An interactive map of the potential impacts on the U.S, energy supply can be found on the website.

Tata Power, Geodynamics commission 1 MW geothermal plant in Australia
20 Jun 2013

NEW DELHI: Strengthening its overseas footprint, Tata Power along with GeoDynamics have commissioned a 1 MW geothermal plant in Australia. Tata Power has a minority stake in Australia-based GeoDynamics, a leading player in Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) technology. In a statement, Tata Power said it has successfully commissioned 1 MW geothermal pilot plant in Australia.

"The commissioning of the 1 MW geothermal pilot plant is a significant milestone for the project and with this we plan to strengthen our footprint in the international markets", Tata Power Managing Director Anil Sardana said.

He noted that the company aims to have 20-25% of generation portfolio from clean energy. GeoDynamics has geothermal exploration interests in three Australian states including the license for exploring 2,000 km² of area in the Cooper Basin. According to the statement, GeoDynamics' tenements in the Cooper Basin contain the hottest granites on earth and are estimated to provide a thermal resource equivalent of 50 billion barrels of oil.

Besides Australia, Tata Power is implementing a 250 MW geothermal project in Indonesia in partnership with Origin Energy energy and PT Supraco. Geothermal energy is the natural heat found within the earth and in EGS technology, heat is extracted from granites located at a depth of a more than 4,000 metres. "EGS technology can potentially enable the setting up of base load power plants that are based on naturally heat and thereby making them a clean energy source for the future", the statement said.

One in 10 people in Germany producing solar power, lobby says
19 Jun 2013

About one in 10 people living in Germany are producing solar power, the German Solar Industry Association said. A total of 8.5 million people live in buildings that use solar systems to generate electricity or heat, the group said today in an e-mailed statement, citing figures it compiled. The units will prevent the production of about 24 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions this year, it said.

After Fukushima, Japan beginning to see the light in solar energy
18 Jun 2013

Across Japan, technology companies and private investors are racing to install devices that until recently they had little interest in: solar panels. Massive solar parks are popping up as part of a rapid build-up that one developer likened to an "explosion".

The boom was sparked by a little-noted government policy, implemented nearly a year ago, that guaranteed generous payments to anybody selling renewable energy, including solar power. Because of that policy, known as a feed-in tariff, investors and analysts say Japan has become one of the world's fastest-growing users of solar power. This year alone, Japan is forecasted to install solar panels with the capacity of five to seven modern nuclear reactors.

Before the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, Japan had all but neglected renewable energy, instead emphasising atomic power. But the accident at Fukushima forced the shuttering of the country's 50 operable reactors, only two of which have been restarted. The remaining shutdowns could prove temporary, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledging restarts of reactors that have been deemed safe. A majority of Japanese, though, remain opposed to atomic energy, and analysts say the solar takeoff highlights Japan's appetite for other options.

There is a downside to the rush for renewables: they are several times pricier than nuclear power or fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. The rising use of solar power means energy bills will spike, potentially complicating Abe's plan to jump-start Japan's long-foundering economy.

Most consumers, so far, think that sacrifice is worthwhile, and they say nuclear power has hidden cleanup and compensation costs that only emerge after an accident. fossil fuels, meanwhile, release greenhouse gasses and must be imported. People here tended to support clean energy projects even before the nuclear disaster, but now there is "more interest in natural energy", said Moriaki Yoshikawa, the head of an environmental NGO, Eco Plan Fukui, which has helped build five solar plants in a region of Japan that hosts four nuclear plants.

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Masdar launches wind farm in Seychelles
17 Jun 2013

Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) have launched a 6 MW, eight-turbine wind farm in the Republic of Seychelles which will deliver clean energy to more than 2,100 homes.

The Port Victoria Wind Farm accounts for 8% of Mahe Island's energy capacity-the main island of Seychelles-which is home to 90% of the country's population.

The clean energy generated by this project-the first renewable energy project in the Seychelles-will displace 5,500 tons of CO₂ annually, power more than 2,100 homes and save 1.6 million litres of fuel per year. The project was developed by Masdar and funded by ADFD.

Seychelles currently relies on expensive diesel generators to meet its electricity demand. With fuel accounting for 25% of the country's total net imports, the tourist nation is committed to diversifying its energy mix and reducing its reliance on fuel imports.

Being an island country, with limited options to produce electricity, wind power generation presents a viable solution to meet a national target of 15% energy from renewable sources by 2030. "Access to sustainable, clean sources of energy is vital to our long-term economic development", said James Michel, president of the Republic of Seychelles.

"The addition of wind power is a major step toward meeting our clean energy targets and reducing our dependency on imported sources of power. We look forward to further opportunities to assess our wind power potential and continue to diversify our energy mix.

"We are grateful to the UAE support for funding, developing and delivering this wind power project", remarked President Michel. "The Masdar wind farm will help us meet our rising demand for energy and also liberates budget to invest in economic and social growth opportunities", he added.

With the price of renewable energy technologies falling, wind and solar power are becoming economically viable solutions to improve energy security and access. Renewable energy is also a clean and sustainable alternative, which helps developing nations insulate themselves from volatile fuel prices.

"The Seychelles wind project is an example of how access to energy can serve as a pathway for economic development and social opportunity", said stated Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE minister of state and CEO of Masdar.

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Monday 5 August 2013

Green light for Waterloo wind farm expansion
17 Jun 2013

A six-turbine expansion to the wind farm at Waterloo in the Clare Valley has been approved. The Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council's development assessment panel met on Friday to make a decision on EnergyAustralia's proposal. The council had earlier endorsed an infrastructure agreement for the project. Meanwhile, about 100 people have attended a hearing on Yorke Peninsula to explain how a wind farm in the region would affect them.

The South Australian Government's select committee met concerned residents and stakeholders in Ardrossan on Friday afternoon. Evidence included figures about the negative environmental impact of construction, versus the positive impact from the final product. Committee chairman David Ridgway says the meeting was the first one held outside of the metropolitan area.

He says local residents were most concerned about the site of the wind farm. "Just raising concerns about the location", he said. "VICOSC think that's the biggest issue that was raised by most of the groups, was that this is in a very good, highly productive farming area and that maybe this development is not compatible with that type of agriculture.

"VICOSC don't think anybody was against wind farms at all but it was more just the location was the main point of argument. "It's the first hearing we've had outside of the city, so it was important to get out and let the local groups make submissions and some quite interesting evidence was given".

Liberal links to anti-wind farm fight multiply
14 Jun 2013

A leaked email has revealed the deep involvement of the wife of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's business tsar, Maurice Newman, and a blue-chip corporate consulting firm in a "Convoy of No Confidence"-aping anti-wind farm rally set down for Parliament House on Tuesday.

The email, obtained by Crikey, was sent by Jeanette Newman last month to Linda Pahl, the wife of Sydney-based Bluegrass Consulting's Rodd Pahl. The email was headed "THE NIGHTMARE COMES TRUE", and in it Jeanette Newman, who likens her struggle to that of US whistleblower Erin Brockovich, issued a rousing call to arms:

"It is imperative that as many people as possible attend. A poor attendance will be taken by politicians and the wind industry that we are conceding defeat. Whilst not true, that will be the perception and it will be shamelessly used against us to undermine our credibility".

Both the Pahls and the Newmans own property in the vicinity of proposed wind farms near the rural NSW squattocracy centres of Crookwell and Collector. A separate email chain, also obtained by Crikey, shows the Pahls' involvement in a "Friends of Collector" group set up to fight wind developments near their estate.

Bluegrass Consulting "lobbies governments through targeted, high level contact and grassroots campaigns". Rodd Pahl was previously managing director of public affairs for the local arm of global firm Burson-Marsteller. That outfit's storied history includes crisis management for Union Carbide after the Bhopal disaster.

Yesterday, The Guardian Australia reported that Maurice Newman, who will head the Coalition's Business Advisory Council in the event of a Coalition victory on September 14, vowed he would agitate to scrap the bipartisan Renewable Energy Target (RET), which mandates 20% of renewable energy by 2020. Newman is a former chairman of the ABC and the Australian Securities Exchange. He is a climate change sceptic and is a long-time supporter of anti-wind farm campaigns. In April, Newman hosted a meeting of anti-wind farm group the Crookwell District Landscape Guardians, where he warned the Coalition might not bend to his demands.

An anonymous website, Stop These, registered to a Texan web domain rental operation, has recently cropped up to plug the rally, which will likely be attended by anti-abortion Senator John Madigan, climate change sceptic and soon-to-be-former Senator Ron Boswell, soon-to-be-former Liberal MP Alby Schultz, Liberal Senator Chris Back and Hughes MP Craig Kelly, who told federal Parliament in 2011 that drinking chardonnay was one answer to global warming. Shock jock Alan Jones will serve as master of ceremonies.

The involvement of well-heeled upper crusters in the wind farm debate is widespread. Well-placed sources have confirmed the family of BRW Rich Lister and Flight Centre co-founder Bill James has been involved in a fight over a proposed wind farm on the Bass Strait cheese hub of King Island.

James, alongside fellow founders Graham Turner and Geoff Harris, reaped $620 million from their stake in the listed quasi-monopolist after its stock price soared to over $30 in the eight months to February. According to BRW, James is worth $405 million.

Last month, Crikey revealed that blue-chip Sydney PR firm Wells Haslem--whose directors had previously assisted the Exclusive Brethren, James Hardie, Scientology and Lord Christopher Monckton--had been paid tens of thousands of dollars by the No Tas Wind Farm Group. Last Friday, the ABC reported James, who is not commenting publicly on the issue, had helped fund the expensive advice.

LNP ‘lying’ over solar power cost
15 Jun 2013

DON'T blame solar, blame electricity infrastructure for the dramatic surge in your power bill, a leading Sunshine Coast solar company says. Infinity Solar has hit back at the State Government's claims solar power and green schemes are to blame for the upcoming 22.6% electricity price rise.

Director Chris Thomson blamed infrastructure and network costs as the main culprit, saying it added $127 a year to the average Queenslanders power bill. "Queensland's power grid is operating on inadequate infrastructure and is suffering from a lack of spending over previous years, meaning updating the network is going to cost Queenslanders money", Mr Thomson said.

"Solar power is an easy scapegoat for the government, when in fact the government-funded feed-in tariff is only adding $32 to an average household bill. "Network costs, on the other hand, account for almost half of a standard power bill (48.2%), with upcoming price increases hitting Queenslanders with hundreds of dollars extra on their power bills.

"Energex spent $900 million last financial year on the network and Ergon Energy spent $300 million. The solar feed-in tariff only cost $50 million, so it is completely misleading of the government to blame solar power. "People also need to keep in mind that solar power is not just a financial issue, but is a necessary tool in helping reduce Australia's carbon emissions and increase environmental sustainability".

Infinity's Sunshine Coast shop manager Ashley Pitman said Caloundra had had "one of the highest uptakes (of solar) in Australia". He said while solar did contribute to the increase in the electricity price it was only "between 2.5% and 7%". "It has become a cost, but we have to look at the benefits it's had in keeping cost down", he said.

Nelja opens biggest Lithuania wind farm for 27,000 homes
13 Jun 2013

Nelja Energia AS, an Estonian renewable-energy developer, opened the biggest wind farm in Lithuania, which will generate enough power for 27,000 homes. The 57.4 million-€ ($76.5 million) Ciuteliai plant has 17 turbines with 39.1 MWs of capacity, according to a statement on Nelja Energia's website. The facility north of Silute is 19 km (11 miles) from the Baltic Sea coast.

Nelja Energia supplied equity and won a 41 million-€ loan from Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEBA) and Pohjola Bank Plc (POH1S) to finance the plant, Tadas Navickas, managing director of 4energia UAB, the company's Lithuanian unit, said by e-mail.

Nelja Energia, based in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, is planning about 170 MWs of wind, mostly in Latvia and Lithuania, where installed capacity may double to 500 MWs by 2015, the Baltic nation's wind-energy association said in November. Wind-power expansion will help Lithuania curb its reliance on Russian electricity imports and counter a shortfall caused by closing nuclear capacity, according to the industry group.

Vic wind farm breakthrough, with pioneering share structure

Wind farm-breakthrough-with-pioneering-share-structure
12 June 2013

A small 5 turbine wind farm project with an innovative share ownership model has become the first wind power project in the state of Victoria to receive council approval in recent years.

The application for the Coonooer Bridge wind farm-with five turbines of up to 150 metres tall to be built near the town of the same name, north-west of Bendigo-was approved by the Buloke Shire Council on Wednesday night. It is a notable project for several reasons. It is the first wind farm proposal to gain approval from a council in the state since former Premier Ted Baillieu introduced restrictive planning policies in 2011.

And the project-located between the towns of Charlton and St Arnaud, about 90km northwest of Bendigo-is also the first in Australia to find a way to combine corporate and community ownership, and the first renewable energy project in the country with an ownership structure that includes the local farming community in this way.

In all, 30 owners of property sited within 3km of the planned wind farm have been offered shares, including one family with turbines on their land. All have taken up the offer, despite the concerns about wind power of some. Windlab Systems, a spin-off from the CSIRO which has developed an expertise in identifying strong wind resource areas, retains the majority stake.

"We wanted to create a fair and open relationship with all landholders around the site, not just the landowners who would lease land for turbines", says Luke Osborne, director of Coonooer Bridge wind farm Pty Ltd, who spent 12 months putting the agreement together.

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