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.