23 November 2014, Sunday

NUCLEAR & RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE NEWS

Utility-scale Solar PV Plant

Has reformed energy sector to boost investments

Utility-scale Solar PV Plant

Utility-scale Solar PV Plant

In Brief

Uganda has been ranked 10th out of the 55 countries in world and third among African nations in this year’s Climatescope assessment of countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean on their potential to attract investment for clean energy companies and projects. Uganda has introduced several reforms in the electricity sector that have boosted investments.

According to the report, Uganda performed best, achieving 75% low-carbon on Value Chain Parameter III. The report notes that Uganda’s non-large hydropower sector attracted US$307 million from 2006-2013, though annual investment ranged from US$135 million in 2008 to zero last year. In Africa, Kenya and South Africa are the only two countries ahead of Uganda in the Climatescope index.

Uganda has a liberalised power sector, but its electrification rate remains modest at 14%. The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is working to connect over 500,000 new customers to the main or independent grids, or to solar photovoltaic (PV) systems over 2013-2022, the report notes. The REA recently launched a donor-funded project, the Global Energy Transfer for Feed-in-Tariff (GET-FIT) programme.

Under GET FIT, Uganda aims to implement about 20 small renewable projects a year, through an existing FIT mechanism, as well as grant funding for solar PV projects. The first two rounds of the programme have seen the licensing of close to 10 projects to supply over 100 MWe. Uganda is spearheading electricity reforms in Africa and has attracted considerable international interest. Donors such as Norway, the EU, the UK’s DFID, Germany and the World Bank have committed US$70 million as guarantees to subsidise the cost of the resulting power.

Uganda currently has an installed electricity capacity of 890 MWe, but only 493 MWe are available, due to restrictions on water release, wear and tear of some power dams and the least cost merit dispatch policy, which favours the use of cheap hydropower over expensive thermal power. Uganda needs to generate 42,000 MWe of electricity from all hydro, petroleum and gas sources, geothermal and nuclear power, to become an upper-middle income country, according the nation’s Vision 2040 master plan.

Acquires assets of First Wind

In BriefWindmills_D1-D4_(Thornton_Bank)

SunEdison, the St. Louis-based solar power company, said 17 November that it would acquire First Wind, one of the largest wind power developers in the US, for US$2.4 billion. The acquisition of Boston-based First Wind will make SunEdison the leading diversified renewable energy (RE) plant developer in the world. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2015.

Two buyers are sharing out the assets of First Wind, which is owned by two private-equity firms. TerraForm is taking the wind farms that are in operation, for a price of US$862 million, while Sun Edison is taking the portfolio of development projects for US$1bn, and committing up to US$510 million for an earn-out.

TerraForm Power is an indirect subsidiary of SunEdison, which owns and operates renewable projects acquired from SunEdison. It is a Yieldco – a new type of investment vehicle launched in 2013 – that has become increasingly popular for renewable power developers. It offers a stable return from diversified lower-risk high-quality assets that are producing electricity, sold on long-term contracts. Yieldco companies like TerraForm Power are similar to Master Ltd Partnerships (MLPs), but do not possess assets that qualify for pass-through tax treatment. Like MLPs, Yieldco companies are designed to appeal to investors seeking stable and growing dividend income from a diversified portfolio.

The US wind energy market is in the middle of an investment boom because of the rush of projects that were launched by the end of last year to meet the deadline for receiving a production tax credit that expired on 31 December, 2013. However, uncertainty of political support for reinstating the contract has led to RE developers increasingly looking for growth to markets in emerging economies.

PMs Abbott and Modi

Administrative arrangements to be finalised soon

PMs Abbott and Modi

PMs Abbott and Modi

In Brief

The trial shipment of uranium to India is expected to start next year, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi discussed the supply of Australian uranium for India’s nuclear power plants (NPPs). It follows their signing of a safeguards agreement in New Delhi in October, overturning a long-standing ban on uranium exports to the subcontinent.

In Depth

Renewable Energy (photo: epSos.de)

Fort Hood launches renewable energy project

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Will help US army to secure energy supply for installations

Renewable Energy (photo: epSos.de)

Renewable Energy (photo: epSos.de)

In Brief

The Defense Logistics Agency, Energy, in coordination with the Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI) and Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works (DPW) is leading the effort to procure clean, secure and affordable energy. Fort Hood, as part of this initiative, is implementing a large-scale renewable energy (RE) project that will save money and leverage sun and wind power for the post’s energy needs.

The OEI looks across all Army installations and energy markets for renewable sector opportunities and also serves as the central management office for collaboration with Army installations to develop and execute renewable projects of 10 MWe or larger capacity, leveraging private financing. Two years ago, it entered into a partnership with the DPW to have solar as a part of Army’s energy strategy to provide installations with a predictable and reliable electricity supply.

On 6 November, representatives of the energy industry and officials from DPW, DLA Energy and OEI met to explore opportunities to build a solar photovoltaic (PV) facility at West Fort Hood. The Army has launched a request for proposal (RFP) to outline Fort Hood’s requirement for an on-post large-scale solar and off-post wind turbine facility.

The Army will lease 265 acres at Fort Hood to a developer to build an onsite 40 MWe solar PV facility, which will be financed, owned and operated by a third-party developer from the private sector. The Army will purchase the energy that is produced from the onsite solar PV facility along with offsite renewable wind energy for a price at or below projected utility rates.

This project will save the Army more than US$50 million in energy costs over the next 30 years, while also increasing its energy security, making the posts less reliant on grid power. A letter of intent to award the project is expected to be announced in 2015. A groundbreaking at the installation is scheduled to take place in 2016, and the facility will be operational by 2017.

Hinkley Point NPP

EDF holds 50% while China will get 30%to 40% stakes

Hinkley Point NPP

Hinkley Point NPP

In Brief

A leading Saudi Arabian utility, Saudi Electric, is vying to buy a minority stake in Hinkley Point C, the US$26 billion nuclear power project in Somerset that is expected to begin generating power in 2023, Sky News said. The Saudi company is among a few prospective investors in discussions about investing billions of dollars into the vast nuclear power project.

A deal has yet to be finalised with EDF, but talks with Saudi Electric are understood to have been ongoing for some time. Sources said that Saudi Electric could own between 10% and 15% of the venture if the talks are successful, but added that the ultimate size of any stake acquired would depend upon the relative holdings of other shareholders.

EDF, the French group spearheading the project, and one of the UK’s biggest residential energy suppliers, will own up to 50% of Hinkley Point, with Areva, a French nuclear company, holding 10% of the shares. Two state-owned Chinese groups, China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), will collectively hold 30% to 40% of the equity.

The 3300 MWe Hinkley plant, having two Areva-designed 1650 MWe European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs), is expected to supply 7% of the UK’s electricity needs. The project was cleared by the European Commission last month of a possible violation of state-aid rules. The commission warned, however, that the total cost could exceed US$38 billion, against a US$26 billion as estimated by EDF.

Under the 35-year agreement with the British government, EDF is guaranteed to receive a ‘strike price’ of US$152 per MWh for Hinkley Point C, which is nearly twice the current wholesale market price of power. But the agreement has a clause for the government to recoup any unexpectedly high returns from the operation of the plant, or from substantial savings on the cost of constructing it.

Narendra Modi, India's PM

Urges collective R&D efforts at G20 meet

Narendra Modi, India's PM

Narendra Modi, India’s PM

In Brief

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 16 November proposed to G20 nations that a global virtual centre be set up for clean energy research and development (R&D). Modi also pushed for rapid expansion of renewable energy (RE) in rural areas and urged for collective R&D efforts and collaboration and ensure dissemination of research to all countries.

Modi suggested setting up a global virtual centre for clean energy R&D, with adequate public funding, which will provide finance to collaborative projects in diverse sources of clean energy, smart grids, and energy efficiency. Modi said India and the US have built an excellent virtual centre on a bilateral basis, with matching public and private funding

“We can select a team of outstanding experts to evaluate and judge research projects. The results should be available to all countries,” it said. “We should also discuss innovative funding models to ensure rapid expansion of renewable energy in a decentralised manner in rural areas.” “In countries like India, there are vast opportunities for those wishing to invest in clean coal technology, since our dependence will not reduce very soon,” Modi added.

“Nuclear energy can still be a safe, reliable and clean source of energy. It will be an important part of India’s energy mix. Further, energy efficiency is the best source of clean energy,” Modi said, adding that building energy efficiency in areas such as buildings, household appliances and industrial goods in receiving considerable attention in India.

“G20 can be effective in promoting an integrated natural gas market, ensuring freer trade in gas and ensuring that the markets operate more efficiently. Increased access to affordable, assured and clean energy supply for all should be the group’s primary goal. Let us make an ambitious and innovative effort to make renewable, especially solar energy, competitive with conventional energy,” Modi added.

Utility-scale Solar PV Plant

To be UK’s most advanced and largest utility-scale solar PV plant

Utility-scale Solar PV Plant

Utility-scale Solar PV Plant

In Brief

First Solar and Belectric have announced a plan to develop a new 46 MWe utility-scale solar power plant, in Oxfordshire, Southern England. When commissioned, the facility will generate 45 million kWh of clean electricity per year, sufficient to power around 14,000 homes or approximately 25% of the estimated 55,400 households in the city of Oxford, UK.

This is the fourth project to be built in the UK under a First Solar and Belectric joint venture (JV), announced in 2013. The JV has already executed solar projects in Wiltshire and East Anglia and is expecting to reach a total capacity of 80 MWe across the country. The farms will generate almost 80 million kWh of clean energy per year, while cutting down some 35,000 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year.

The Oxfordshire solar PV plant will be UK’s largest and most technologically advanced solar energy facility, incorporating the latest innovations from both companies. The facility will use over 483,000 First Solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, while Belectric will provide balance of system. The project will comply with stringent environmental standards and will support biodiversity initiatives. The land on which the solar farm is to be constructed will be available for grazing by sheep.

First Solar and Belectric have been collaborating in the clean energy sector for more than a decade. In 2013, they constructed Europe’s largest thin film PV power plant in Templin, Germany. By bringing together advanced sector leading capabilities and technologies, the two groups have established a JV to realise selected utility-scale PV projects in Europe, North Africa and the US.

Remotely-located Solar Source (Photo: RSteen)

Plans to incentivise renewable industry

Remotely-located Solar Source (Photo: RSteen)

Remotely-located Solar Source (Photo: RSteen)

In Brief

The Federal Government of Nigeria plans to install 7.2 GWe of renewable energy (RE) out of a 40 GWe target of new capacity to be added by 2020. In case the plan is implemented successfully, Nigeria could reach 18% share of energy from renewable sources, including large hydro, solar and wind power plants. The plan was unveiled by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on 14 November in Lagos.

The NERC believes the country has a large solar energy potential that is not being significantly exploited. The plan includes effectively harnessing solar power resources and integrating them with other energy infrastructure. It also aims to promote the use of efficient solar energy conversion technologies, such as the use of PV and concentrated solar panels (CSP) for power generation.

The document says that access to electricity in rural area will reduce the rural-urban drift and enhance the development of rural economies. Grid supplies are usually the cheapest option in areas with high-load densities, as well as in areas near the grid. However, a number of challenges stand in the way of grid-connected solar-generated electricity supply.

The Commission says connecting small, isolated villages to a grid can be expensive because of the high costs or transmission lines, poles, transformers and other infrastructure. Solar photovoltaic (PV) power comes in relatively small size, and is best connected to low voltage lines, whereas Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trader buys power only at transmission voltage, the NERC said.

In order to incentivise solar energy, NERC plans to implement a feed-in tariff (FIT), guaranteed market, priority grid connection and off-take, a simplified licensing and permit process, subsidised tariff rates and facilitated land acquisition and site access. Furthermore, some tax and import duty exemptions, alongside with investment tax credits would help installation of the planned renewable facilities.

A NPP

Needs right incentives for growth

Limerick NPP

A NPP

In Brief

Global nuclear power generation is projected to increase by 60% by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2014 report. In terms of total electricity from nuclear sources, capacity will increase from 392 GWe in 2013 to 624 GWe in 2040. New reactors are expected to add 380 GWe, while retirements of old plants will subtract 148 GWe.

On the other hand, the costs of decommissioning ageing nuclear plants in developed economies will increase. Closure of nearly 50% the current operating reactors by 2040 will cost over US$100 billion. Out of the 434 nuclear reactors operational in 2013, close to 200 units will be closed by 2040. Of these, most plants to be closed by 2040 would be from Europe, the US, Russia and Japan, the IEA said.

The WEO 2014 also forecasts that most of the increase in nuclear generation until 2040 will be concentrated heavily in just four countries – China, India, Korea and Russia. China,with more than 100 GWe, accounts for 45%, while the other three collectively make up a further 30%. Asia will lead the way in constructing nuclear power plants (NPPs) while the EU will see a significant decline in nuclear generating capacity, the report said. It also noted that 7200 GWe of new generation capacity will be required to meet the growing power demand and replace current plants, compared to 5683 GWe in 2012.

Nuclear power is one of the few options available at scale to reduce CO2 emissions while providing or displacing other forms of baseload generation, the IEA said. Nuclear power has helped reduce around 56 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions since 1971. Nuclear’s share in the global power generation has, however, increased by just 1 point to 12%.

Growth in nuclear energy would require the right incentives, the agency said. The IEA says correct price signals are required to ensure timely investments in new thermal power capacity, which is necessary, alongside investment in renewables, to maintain the reliability of electricity supply. This will require reforms to market design or electricity pricing in some cases. The report stated that public concern about nuclear safety must be first addressed.

Will help India’s entry to the NSG

euro_logoIn Brief

In what could be landmark in realising its nuclear energy ambitions, India is engaged in talks with the EU to sign a civil nuclear cooperation agreement. The agreement, between India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the joint research centre of the EU, is expected to be signed by next year. It will focus mostly on the areas of atomic research and energy.

The EU’s ambassador to India, Joao Cravinho, told PTI at the sidelines of an event last week that talks between the two sides are on, and that the agreement should be signed next year. There were concerns raised by a few countries about signing an agreement because India is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but there is a consensus on this now, he said.

India and the EU have been cooperating on various aspects, such as the environment, sustainable development, renewable energy and clean technology. Considering the influence the EU has in the global nuclear body, the nuclear cooperation deal would provide a major boost to India’s efforts in getting entry to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

After the landmark Indo-US nuclear deal, India has signed nuclear deals with Argentina, Canada, France, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, South Korea, and the UK. It also signed a civil nuclear agreement with Australia in September, paving way to import uranium for its reactors. The technology transfer in different areas related to the nuclear sector, especially in the health sector, would benefit India, sources said.

Kawasaki City

Demonstration project will be set up in Kawasaki Port

Kawasaki City

Kawasaki City

In Brief

Toshiba Corporation 13 November announced that it has agreed with Kawasaki City to collaborate on demonstrating an independent energy supply system utilising renewable energy (RE) and hydrogen. This system will be set up in the Kawasaki Marien, Higashi-Ogishima-Naka Park in the Kawasaki Port, a designated emergency evacuation area. The experiment will be conducted from April next year until the end of 2020.

The independent energy supply system combines photovoltaic (PV) installations, a storage battery, hydrogen-producing water electrolysis equipment, hydrogen and water tanks, and fuel cells. Electricity generated from the PV installations will be used to electrolyze water and produce hydrogen, which will then be stored in hydrogen tank and used in the fuel cells to provide electricity and hot water.

Since the system can operate on only sunlight and water, it will be able to independently provide electricity and hot water in times of emergency, even when lifelines are cut. It will also be possible to transport the system to disaster-hit areas on trailers. In the event of disaster, the installed system will be able to provide an estimated 300 evacuees with electricity and hot water for about one week.

Under the agreement, Kawasaki City will supply the demonstration test environment, and Toshiba is responsible for the design, manufacture and maintenance of the equipment. The results obtained will be jointly used by Kawasaki City and Toshiba. Meanwhile, Toshiba will continue to advance the development of residential fuel cells and hydrogen-related technology, such as hydrogen generators.

Kawasaki City and Toshiba signed cooperation agreements in October 2013 to work toward the setting-up of a “Smart Community.” Using Toshiba’s Smart Community Center next to Kawasaki Station as a base of operations, the two parties have so far promoted measures that include energy management for buildings around the station area, commercial revitalisation and electric bus operation.

Biomass Power Plant

Developing economies to lead the growth

Biomass Power Plant

Biomass Power Plant

In Brief

Brazil will surpass the US as the world’s top market for bioenergy, research firm GlobalData reported. The US remains the world’s top global bioenergy producer as of now, but Brazil is expected to increase its countrywide bioenergy installed capacity from 11.51 GWe in 2013 to an estimated 17.1 GWe by 2018, to become the world’s leading market.

Bioenergy, also called biomass power, is the use of any organic material to generate electricity. The US has long been the global leader, but the report suggests outdated energy infrastructure and a bloated existing capacity, which has saturated the electricity market will lead to Americans being overtaken in four years’ time.

Brazil’s emerging renewables market is being driven by aggressive government policies that have made it necessary for local utility service providers to procure at least 2 GWe of installed biomass capacity through auctions annually, for 10 years from 2007. GlobalData added it estimates Brazil will up its installed renewable energy (RE) capacity to 25.22 GWe by 2025.

Biomass energy accounts for 10.2% of global primary energy consumption, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. According to its most recent survey in 2011, bioenergy provided 5.7% of total US renewable electricity, which is greater than the contribution of solar power but still less than wind or hydropower.

Emerging nations are expanding renewable power capacities at nearly twice the rate of developed countries. A survey of 55 countries, including China, Brazil and South Africa, found combined renewables capacity grew by 143% from 2008 to 2013, representing a total of 142 GWe. However, developed nations, by comparison, saw renewables grow by 84% to 213 GWe.

Solar Film Wndow

Produce power 50 times more than conventional photovoltaic

Solar Film Wndow

Solar Film Wndow

In Brief

Solar window coatings developer New Energy Technologies is developing first-of-a-kind solar window coatings touching an important technical milestone towards commercially marketable products. The innovation has crossed a number of technical hurdles in order to improve the performance for both the power production and the aesthetics of see-through organic PV, said John Conklin, President and CEO.

The Columbia-based company’s electricity generating coatings now produce power 50-times greater than conventional photovoltaic (PV) solar modules and greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits of over 10-times greater CO2 offsets over conventional PV solar modules when modeled for installation on tall towers. The coatings generate electricity on see-through glass, enhancing the performance of today’s insulated commercial windows compared with conventional PV that cannot generate electricity on window glass in this way.

New Energy also claims that the coatings are capable of producing power from natural and artificial light sources in direct, shaded, diffused, and reflected light conditions, unlike conventional solar PV which requires direct sunlight and suffers reduced performance in cloudy weather or in shaded areas. The coatings are also able to produce electricity from artificial light typically found in offices, hotels, and other buildings. The product is also available in a range of attractive colour choices.

The coatings, manufactured using mostly polymers, can be dissolved into liquid form and applied to a variety of surfaces. Conventional PV solar uses complex materials that cannot be easily dissolved into a low-cost liquid form for manufacturing. The coatings can be produced for high-speed and high-volume manufacturing processes, such as roll-to-roll (R2R) or large area sheet-to-sheet (S2S) equipment.

Offshore Wind Turbines

389 MWe wind farm built using advanced construction methods

In Brief

Offshore Wind Turbines

Offshore Wind Turbines

Iberdrola USA, the second-largest wind producer in the US, has announced that its sister company, ScottishPower Renewables, in conjunction with Dong Energy of Denmark has opened the consortium’s first offshore wind farm. The 389 MWe facility is located in the Irish Sea West of Duddon Sands, approximately 20 km off the seaport of Barrow-in-Furness in North West England.

The US$2.6 billion project was inaugurated on 30 October at a ceremony hosted by Ed Davey, the UK Secretary for Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC); Ignacio Galan, Iberdrola chairman; and Samuel Leupold, DONG Energy EVP for wind power. Pioneering technology for the project in Irish Sea could help reduce costs of future offshore wind projects worldwide.

The Irish wind project was completed more than two months ahead of schedule, mainly due to a new US$80 million, custom-designed offshore wind terminal built at Belfast Harbor. The project employed advanced construction methods, employing up to 300 workers for around-the-clock delivery of turbine and foundation components to the farm. In addition, the combination of two state-of-the-art installation vessels working in tandem, and the support of the fabrication facilities at Belfast, Northern Ireland, made this one of the most efficient offshore projects ever delivered in the UK.

The 389 MWe project has 108 Siemens turbines of 3.6 MWe output, connected through a 200 km network of undersea cable in a 64 km2 patch of the Irish Sea. Energy generated by the project connects to an offshore substation that boosts the voltage, and then routes it through two export cables to the onshore substation at Heysham, where it enters the UK national grid. The wind farm has enough capacity to meet the electricity demands of approximately 280,000 homes.

Wave energy generator (Photo: Peter Church)

Has 500 GWe potential by 2050

Wave energy generator (Photo: Peter Church)

Wave energy generator (Photo: Peter Church)

In Brief

The Australian Maritime College in Launceston, University of Tasmania and a West Australian company, Bombora Wave Power has joined forces to test the commercial viability of a wave energy convertor. The team of researchers is testing equipment designed to capture an infinite supply of clean energy generated by waves.

In Depth

Renewable Energy

TVA supports renewable energy growth

Friday, 14 November 2014

To add 130 MWe capacity in 2015

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

In Brief

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), as part of its long-term energy strategy and its commitment to low-cost and clean energy, will offer a total of 130 MWe of renewable energy (RE) capacity in 2015 through a variety of power purchase agreements (PPA) for home, business, industrial and wholesale installations. This will raise the total amount of renewables TVA has in its portfolio since 2011 to more than 500 MWe.

The renewables capacity addition by TVA is in consonance with the 2011 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which calls for building capacity with the most cost-effective and reliable programmes, said officials. TVA is updating the IRP in consultation with customers and other stakeholders. This revised IRP, which will serve as TVA’s energy roadmap for the future, is expected to be completed in late 2015.

Patty West, director of TVA’s Renewable Energy Solutions, said that TVA recognises the changes occurring in the RE marketplace as popularity grows and generating costs decline. TVA must continue to work with all stakeholders to determine the true value of RE and balance that value with what is best for the nine million energy consumers in the Tennessee Valley, added West.

Commitment to RE remains a key component of TVA’s mission, because, in addition to creating industries and more jobs, it contributes to a cleaner environment for the Valley. TVA currently has 217 MWe of operating or committed solar power projects under contract at more than 2000 locations across the region. TVA’s RE portfolio also includes 1542 MWe from wind and 64 MWe from biomass projects.

Wind Farm

Greenhouse gas emissions cut by 15%

Wind Farm

Wind Farm

In Brief

The US General Services Administration (GSA) recently announced that it is on schedule to achieve the Obama Administration’s 2020 renewable energy (RE) goals, after awarding a competitive power supply contract to purchase 140 MWe of wind-generated electricity from the Walnut Ridge Farm currently in development in northwest Illinois, according to a GSA news release.

The ten-year power supply contract is the largest wind energy purchase from a single source in federal government contracting history, according to federal government agency GSA, responsible for procuring the goods and services including energy. It will add over 500 GWh of carbon-free electricity per year to the PJM power grid and also gives a big boost to the Obama administration’s efforts to promote clean energy resource development and its use among Native American communities.

In the Presidential Memorandum on 5 February 2013, President Barack Obama set a goal for the federal government agencies to get 20% of the electricity they use annually from renewable resources by 2020. Federal agencies, as of December 2013, had cut annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over 15%, by 7.8 million tonnes. The purchase of 140 MWe of wind power from Walnut Ridge will reduce additional 0.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.

The GSA has estimated that it needs to procure 500 to 550 GWe of renewable power per year in order to achieve the federal government’s 2020 RE goal. The GSA meets this annual requirement with the award of the 10-year power supply contract with MG2 Tribal Energy and its Walnut Creek wind farm. The wind power supply contract will also help the federal government achieve the RE and GHG emissions reduction goals set out in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Executive Orders.

PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organisation (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia. Those states include all or most of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, parts of Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Candu NPP, Qinshan Phase III

Canada, China enter nuclear energy cooperation

Thursday, 13 November 2014

To build Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR)

Candu NPP, Qinshan Phase III

Candu NPP, Qinshan Phase III

In Brief

Natural Resources Canada and the China National Energy Administration 8 November signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to advance collaboration between the two countries in the field of civilian nuclear energy including development of advanced fuel reactors and exports to third markets. Candu Energy welcomed the Canada-China collaboration in the field of nuclear energy.

The same day, Candu, a division of SNC-Lavalin, signed a framework JV agreement with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to build Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR) projects in China and develop global market opportunities. A Chinese expert panel review on AFCR technology earlier this week made a positive recommendation to pursue the development of AFCR to utilise its various advantages.

The framework JV was signed in Beijing in the presence of Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, and Li Keqiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China. At a potential cost of US$5.5 billion to US$7 billion each, the Chinese reactors would generate substantial revenues for Candu and both Canada and China stand to benefit enormously from the creation of high-skilled jobs, services and advanced manufacturing opportunities in nuclear energy sector.

China operates 22 nuclear power reactors, including two Candu 6 reactors at Qinshan that have been in commercial operation for more than a decade. The country has 26 reactors under construction and hopes to have 300 reactors in service by 2040. Each AFCR can use the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from four Light Water Reactors (LWRs) creating a large potential market, Candu said, 10 November.

However, the first reactor would likely not be in service for 8 to 10 years, but would require years of initial design and development. Testing in China and Canada has confirmed the Candu reactors will burn both spent uranium and thorium, a more widely abundant radioactive material. The new AFCR technology using recycled uranium opens huge opportunities in markets such as Britain, France, Japan and Russia, where thousands of tonnes of SNF are in storage.

Bushehr NPP (IAEA)

Plans to build eight more nuclear reactors

Bushehr NPP (IAEA)

Bushehr NPP (IAEA)

In Brief

Russia and Iran signed a series of agreements in Moscow on 11 November to build two nuclear reactors, and announced plans for a total of nine units in Iran. Russia will also produce nuclear fuel for Iranian nuclear power plants (NPPs) during the whole service life of the eight new power units. Spent nuclear fuel (SNF) will be also returned to Russia for reprocessing and storage.

The contracts include construction of the second line of Bushehr nuclear plants, envisages the construction of two reactors with a possible expansion to four power units, all to be built by Russian firms. The two countries plan in the agreements to build four more nuclear power units at other sites that are yet to be determined.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi has left for Moscow to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Director General of Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation Rosatom, Sergey Kiriyenko, Iranian news agency ISNA said on 11 November.

Construction of the two reactors will be financed by Iran, said Kiriyenko. No value for the contract was disclosed. Another agreement foresees eventually expanding the number of Russian-built reactors to nine. In addition to the contract for the two VVER type Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR) at Bushehr NPP under Phase II of the project, another two could be built at the site, taking the total there to five.

According to a media report, the MoU envisions cooperation in building two new units with the capacity of 1000 MWe, and two desalination systems at the platform of Bushehr NPP. In March 2014, AEOI and Rosatom reached a principled agreement on the construction of two new units. The construction of new NPPs is planned to start by March 2015. Iran has said it wants to produce 20,000 MWe of electricity from nuclear power, which would necessitate building twenty 1000 MWe reactors.

Renewable Energy

Labor opposes reduction in target

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

In Brief

Negotiations between the Australian government and opposition on changing Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) broke down with both the sides blaming each other for any damage to the renewable energy industry. The government wants to reduce the target, which now requires 20% of Australia’s energy to come from renewables by 2020.

With Labor refusing to continue discussions on how to adjust the target, the Abbott Government has to negotiate with the Senate crossbench, including the Palmer United Party, which has so far opposed any reduction. Hopes of a bipartisan agreement on a RET have been lost after Labor said it was clear it was never going to reach a compromise with the government on reducing the target.

The Labor Party opposes the reduction in RET and has abandoned negotiations, saying the Coalition is creating uncertainty that threatens job creation and the renewable energy (RE) industry. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says, unlike the coalition, Labor has committed to keeping the RET intact and that would benefit both workers and the economy.

Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, said that the opposition has deliberately created confusion with the RET after pledging to come to the talks with goodwill. He added that the government will continue to have discussions with the crossbenchers and see if a position can be arrived at, but the reality is that, without a bipartisan position from Labor, the renewables industry will be a loser.

Labor’s decision follows a report from the Climate Council showing new investment into renewables has dropped by 70%. The report says, in the past five years, most countries around the world accelerated action on climate change, with China and the US two of the global leaders. But Australia, once a crucial player in global climate action, has slowed down its efforts.

Global Warming (Image: Jackl)

China plans 800-1000 GWe clean energy capacity by 2030

Global Warming (Image: Jackl)

Global Warming (Image: Jackl)

In Brief

In a historic climate change deal, US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping announced their respective climate targets 10 November on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing. The world’s two largest economies are also to expand their cooperation in developing clean energy technologies, including nuclear power.

In Depth

Limerick NPP

Currently, 17 renewal applications under review

Limerick NPP

Limerick NPP

In Brief

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has resumed license renewals after a two-year suspension, bringing the number of nuclear power plants (NPP) with 20-year extensions to 74. The NRC resumed the process on 20 October, extending the license of Pennsylvania’s Limerick NPP Units 1 and 2 by 20 years to 2044 and 2049, respectively, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report on 29 October.

Currently, there are 100 operating nuclear reactors in the US, accounting for 20% of total electricity generation. Presently, 17 renewal applications are under NRC review, including Indian Point Unit 2, north of New York City.  The reactor continues to operate beyond the September 2013 expiry of its 40-year license term, since it is the only reactor to have entered the timely renewal process.  The NRC expects to receive applications from seven more units from 2015-2018.

The assessment of environmental impacts of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) storage beyond a reactors’ licensed operational life (waste confidence), is among the NRC’s key license renewal criteria.  In June 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the NRC’s 2010 revision of the Waste Confidence Rule and directed it to conduct additional analysis taking into account the possibility that a permanent waste repository might never be built.

Subsequently, in August 2012, the NRC suspended licensing decisions pending the framing of a new rule incorporating a supporting environmental impact statement. On 26 August, the NRC resumed its licensing decisions with the approval of a final rule on SNF storage, renaming “Waste Confidence” as “Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel,” which took effect on 20 October.

The NRC has authority to issue initial operating licenses for a 40-year period and renewals for a 20-year period. NPP owners decide whether or not to apply for license renewals based on economics and ability to meet NRC regulations. A process called “timely renewal” allows operation of a reactor pending license renewal upon submission of an application at least five years before the expiration date.

Solar Water Pump

ABB eyes India’s renewable energy sector

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Sees large growth in demand for solar water pumps

Solar Water Pump

Solar Water Pump

In Brief

Power and automations solutions company ABB says the Indian renewable energy (RE) sector offers major market opportunities for its range of products and integrated solutions. Several states in the country are facing power deficits and seeking to bridge those deficits by setting up new power projects and installing solar photovoltaic (PV) units, both grid-connected and off-grid.

Madhav Vemuri, Country Services Manager, ABB India, said that demand for solar water pumps is growing in states that are seeking to empower farmers to energise pump sets in remote locations. Various solutions developed by ABB, such as pump drives and panels that help manage these pumps, enable farmers to even manage them remotely using mobile applications.

The use of solar-powered pump sets is being encouraged by the central and several state governments, as they would be able to provide water where there is no power line, and also in places where there are inadequate supplies. The Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governments are especially encouraging setting up solar pumps that are more economical than the remotely located pump sets using diesel generation.

ABB is a key player in the renewables segment working with various developers in the solar, wind and hydro power sector. Their products include inverter systems, electrical balancing of plants, and local networks. ABB is working with several large companies in India to improve energy efficiencies through automation.

Energy from Nature (photo: epSos.de)

Renewable sector facing uncertainties

Energy from Nature (photo: epSos.de)

Energy from Nature (photo: epSos.de)

In Brief

Investment into renewable energy (RE) projects in Australia has dropped by 70% in the last year, according to a new report by Climate Council – a climate change body. The report noted that foreign investors are moving to other countries that are shifting to a renewables energy future because Australia’s government has no clear RE policy.

The report, entitled Lagging Behind: Australia and the Global Response to Climate Change, said Australia has gone from “leader to laggard” in renewable projects and was losing out on valuable business. Tim Flannery, one of the report’s authors, said most countries around the world had accelerated action on climate change in the last five years because the consequences had become more and more clear.

The future of Australia’s renewables industry remains highly uncertain, the report concluded, because of a lack of clear federal government clean energy policy. Consequently, investment in the renewable power sector in 2014 has dropped by 70% compared with the previous year. It said too much of the political debate had “ignored growing scientific, investment and international realities.”

Another new report by the Climate Institute says that Australia will need to raise its carbon emission reduction target to 40% by 2025. The report calls on Australia’s government to announce an independent, transparent process for setting the post 2020 carbon emission reduction targets. The government has said it will discuss a post-2020 target early next year.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is under pressure to cut the country’s emissions much further than the government had planned, after the EU set a new target of 40% by 2030. The EU said the agreement, which includes a 27% RE target by 2030, should set a new global standard. Abbott’s government is likely to come under more pressure this weekend at the G20 summit, which is being held in Brisbane.

Popwer from the Sun

Indian renewable market worth US$100 billion

Popwer from the Sun

Popwer from the Sun

In Brief

Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister for Coal, Power, and Renewable Energy last week announced that that the government would push for an unprecedented US$100 billion investment in the renewable energy (RE) sector over the next few years. With this plan, he also announced a seemingly impossible solar energy capacity addition targets for the next five years.

The minister said that the government has increased the solar power capacity addition target to 100 GWe by 2019 compared to the previous 22 GWe installed capacity target by 2022 under the National Solar Mission. However, this new target is extremely ambitious, and seems virtually impossible to achieve, say industry experts in the know of the pace of solar energy development.

India also revised its target to double installed wind power capacity to 40 GWe by 2019, which would be part of the National Wind Energy Mission expected to be launched soon. Wind energy companies across the country will benefit from two important financial incentives that are now available to project developers. The government is planning to open up the offshore wind energy sector and also promote states with relatively lower wind energy resources as new markets.

The Indian government is taking serious initiatives to get significant foreign investment into the renewables sector and the power sector as a whole. India also plans to hold an international renewable energy summit in February 2014. The government hopes to secure investment worth billions of dollars from international companies during the summit.