Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2014 a record production year for the world's CANDU reactors

I saw this information posted by Morgan Brown of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.
Data definitions move around from source to source, with different treatments of unit capacity and output. Brown has a preference for gross output and original gross capacity, which are not the metrics commonly seen by non-technical observers.

The conclusion, based on 2014 performance data for 19 operating CANDUs in Canada, and 12 international units, is a record for production from CANada Deuterium Uranium reactors (CANDU).

Here's how Ontario got down to 7 Mt CO2e in 2014 (see pg 8) from 154 TWh of generation.
2014 CANDU performance 
Only net output data is available from Bruce Power, so it was converted to gross power by an estimated net:gross conversion ration of 94.3%. All data below is gross TWhe, and the capacity factors are based on as-built capacity. 
An earlier graphic from Morgan Brown (data to 2013)
2014 saw an increase in the total output from Canadian power reactors, to the second-highest annual production of 104.6 TWhe, from 18 reactors operating in Ontario and one in New Brunswick. 
The 12 CANDUs at Bruce B, Darlington and Pickering B produced 70.54 TWhe in 2014, equivalent to a capacity factor (based on the original non-derated ratings) of 84.2%, down from the record high of 74.06 TWhe in 2012 (88.2%). These 12 reactors have been in operation together since June 1993, when the last Darlington unit was declared commercial. To Dec 31 2014 they are an average of 27.3 years old (21.5 to 31.6 years in commercial service); Bruce 5 is the top ranked CANDU for total commercial output, at 193.7 TWhe in its 28.7 year life. The total Ont generation was 99.52 TWhe, up from 95.79 TWhe in 2013. This is the highest ever Ontario generation (99.29 TWhe was the previous record, set in 1994).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

sunset on solar?

"Guidance for Q1, coupled with past performance indicates the Company may have entered a death spiral."
I don't want to be an alarmist, but I don't mind being a non-conformist and it's hard not to notice stories on producers of solar panels coming in clumps, so...

Yingli Solar Drops A Bombshell | Seeking Alpha | May 17, 2015:
...given the size of Yingli's debt, the Company is likely to spend all of 2015 in whittling down its debt to more manageable levels. Due to this reason, we find it unlikely that the Company can keep up with its peer group in terms of cost reductions, sales growth or project build out.
Also, more significantly, the Company will be unable to invest in new off-China manufacturing capacity to avoid U.S. tariffs. With JinkoSolar, Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL), and JA Solar (NASDAQ:JASO) set to embark on new tariff-free capacity, we believe that there is a high chance that the Company will be routed from the U.S. market in the second half of the year.
All of these developments look grimmer now in the context of the 20-F filing...
Given, the weak situation that the Company is already in, Yingli, in its current form, seems to have entered a death spiral. The Company may survive for the benefits of debt holders and controlling shareholders, but the most common stockholders and ADS holders will likely be wiped out soon.
In December Forbes showed Yingli as the #2 solar equipment maker in the world.
These things happens in competitive industries, but Yingli's is not the only solar valuation story in the news lately.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The weak in Climate Change Policy:part too provincial

The previous post looked at emissions news from Canada's federal government - but most of my original data work, and writing, is on my province of Ontario which is making all sorts of announcements and rash moves lately.
The commentary around actions related to climate change is often ridiculous -in places not noted for being so.

Mark Jaccard is on the Globe and Mail site misinforming the Premier-elect of Alberta in A note for Rachel Notley: A carbon tax is not political suicide:
The carbon tax would work best if complemented by a second policy that requires the Alberta electricity sector to reduce its emissions by 80 per cent over the next decade, in line with what Ontario achieved from 2004 to 2014. Focused on coal-fired power plants, this regulation would be slightly more stringent (but less complicated) than the one President Barack Obama is implementing in the United States. In one decade, Alberta’s coal-fired power plants would have to retrofit to capture carbon emissions, like Saskatchewan’s Boundary Dam power plant, or shift to wind and other renewables backed by natural gas, as Ontario did. Thanks to the falling costs of wind and natural gas, the effect on electricity prices would be negligible over the decade.
Jaccard should know better, by now.
The star of Ontario's coal phase-out is nuclear.

  • In 2000, according to Ontario generation in Canada's National Inventory (NIR) reporting, the province generated 40.8 terawatt-hour (TWh) with coal (the province's peak coal year); for 2014 the system operator (IESO) had it at 0.1 TWh (40.7 TWh down)
  • Natural gas generation was 10.2 TWh (NIR) and the IESO had it up to 14.8 TWh in 2014 (4.6 TWh up)
  • "Other Renewables" were just 1.22 TWh in 2000 (NIR) - in 2014 (IESO) 7.1 TWh (5.9 TWh up)
  • Nuclear 59.4 in 2000 (NIR), 94.9 TWh in 2014 (35.5 TWh up).

Coal down 40.7, nuclear up 35.5.
This isn't a hard association for an honest man to make.

The weak in Climate Change policy: part 1

With the Canadian government releasing new targets for emissions I feel compelled to write on emissions reductions - or at least on the politics of pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Government of Canada announces 2030 emissions target:
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced today that Canada plans to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
This is a fair and ambitious target that is in line with other major industrialized countries and reflects our national circumstances, including Canada's position as a world leader in clean electricity generation.   - continue reading
It's an announcement that targets (but doesn't commit to) a level of reduction other countries target (but don't commit to). To put the Canadian target in perspective:
Graphic from Canada's GHG Inventory 1990-2002 Report - the year KP ratified by Parliament
  • Kyoto commitment was 6% below 1990 levels (now reported as 613 mega-tonnes CO2 equivalent - MtCO2e), or ~576 MtCO2e during the period 2008 to 2012.
  • Canada didn't do that, but did withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol (KP) before the end of 2012 - avoiding penalties.
  • Canada's sort-of Copenhagen Accord target (not commitment) in 2009 was 17% below 2005 levels (749 MtCO2e) by 2020 - which would now be about 622 MTCO2e but at the time would have been 607 MTCO2e, the difference being a rise of 2005 emissions between reporting in 2009 and reporting in 2015.
  • 30% below the currently reported 2005 level (the new target for 2030) is 524 MtCO2e.
Seems silly to believe the targets - or the measurements.

But it's not silly to search for the political messaging in targets - and measurements.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tesla product announcement powers disconnected dreams

I've been reading a lot about last week's product announcement from Tesla's Elon Musk; batteries.
As the week progressed I increasingly felt a dark side to the excitement, related to an issue I've written on discretely in the past, which I'll include here less discretely after citing articles I feel notable following Tesla's announcement.

image from uncrate
from Brad Plumer in Vox, Elon Musk wants to revolutionize our energy system — with batteries:
Most people think of Tesla as a company that builds flashy — and expensive — luxury electric cars.
But now Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has even bigger plans than vehicles. He wants to make batteries a core part of Tesla's business, with the not-so-modest goal of transforming the world's electricity system.
There's a certain logic to this idea: Tesla is already making batteries for its electric cars. But batteries could potentially have broader applications, too. They could help homes and utilities make better use of solar power, charging up when the sun's out and saving power for when it's needed later. They could help supply electricity to areas far from the grid. They could bolster the grid against outages. And so on.
This isn't a brand-new type of battery. Rather, it's an effort to make home battery systems more widely popular. "The issue with existing batteries is that they suck," Musk said. "They are expensive, unreliable, and bad in every way." Tesla wants to change that by nudging down battery prices — making use of its new $5 billion GigaFactory in Nevada — and integrating them with existing solar-power systems.

It's an audacious plan, and it raises some hard questions: Why would anyone buy these expensive batteries?                 -[emphasis added]
There's a dream of independence coupled with an Apple-like brand promising the future.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Canada eyes more nuclear cooperation with S. Korea

"Korea would be an ideal market in which to use recycled uranium in its Candu fleet..."
The statement is particularly noteworthy as it comes from Ontario MPP Reza Moridi, Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, during a just completed trade mission to South Korea.

(Yonhap Interview) Canada eyes more nuclear cooperation with S. Korea: minister:
SEOUL, May 3 (Yonhap) - Canada wants to step up cooperation with South Korea in the nuclear energy industry as a bilateral free trade deal and Seoul's revised nuclear agreement with the United States provide more room for advanced projects, a senior Canadian official said Sunday.
Reza Moridi, head of Ontario's Ministry of Research and Innovation, said South Korea has made "landmark technological achievements" since importing four Candu reactors from Canada four decades ago and is getting ready to team up with Canadian partners to tap into the global market.
Korea has played a strong role in the development of nuclear science and technology. I am encouraging Korea and the Ontario Candu energy sector to work together in terms of new reactors and services, as well as various other nuclear technologies in the world," Moridi said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.
Minister Moridi's focus on the promise of recycled uranium is one I share, although the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCI) official news release following the trade mission describes collaboration flourishing in many areas, with South Korea, China and India.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Selling Hydro One and rate hike threats for Ontario

The government of Ontario recently announced it would try to sell off it's public transmission company, Hydro One. The rumours became fact as a Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets released its final report on this topic, which was quickly accepted verbally and is formally now recognized in the Ontario's 2015 Budget.

One of the concerns with the government's plans to sell off part of Hydro One is the impact on rates. I tend to think the pressure on rates will be slightly up, only initially, for Hydro One distribution customers, but actually downward for customers of Ontario's other local distribution companies. That will require some work to explain in a separate post, but I'll note the existing cost concerns with a list as I had been collecting stories on rate impacts prior to the announced plan to sell of 60% of the transmission and distribution assets:

Rates in Ontario are going up, and up.

Onto the debt.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ecomodermism: One new manifesto, one less blog

Earlier this month I read "A Farewell Post" from Keith Kloor regarding his Collide-a-Scape blog. Kloor and Brad Plumer are two writers that I enjoy because they feed biggish concepts succinctly but in a way that is digestible. Events the same week made this section of the farewell post notable:
...there are some ideas (or at least a term–eco-modernism) that germinated at my blog which I elaborated on elsewhere at Discover and atSlate several years ago, and which seems to have now been picked up on.
It's notable because the same week that was written a collective released An Ecomodernist Manifesto.

Reportedly Frank Lloyd Wright's Manifesto for his apprentices
Just by the gravitas of words, manifesto seems the opposite of blog;
The Communist Manifesto was the only other manifesto that came to mind upon seeing this one. Through googling I found many; Lulemon's is currently one of the more popular ones.

I'm inclined to support the Manifesto as it's signed by many people I've read or listened to: Barry Brook (who has written on it at his Brave New Climate blog), Stewart Brand, David Keith, Ted Nordhaus, Roger Pielke, Jr., Michael Shellenberger, and Robert Stone - as well as people I should get better acquainted with including Rachel Pritzker, Joyashree Roy, Christopher Foreman, Ruth Defries and John Asafu-Adjaye. Additionally, I'm "eco", having added a lot of insulation to my home and planted dozens and dozens of trees,and I exist right now, which is surely modern. Ecomodernism sounds like it might be me.

An Ecomodernist Manifesto is quite readable. I'll boil it down to 3 points:
  • people will continue to move to cities
  • affluence requires power and sustainable affluence require power that is "cheap, clean, dense, and abundant"
  • biodiversity, and related wild nature, are desirable and worthy of encouraging

Saturday, April 25, 2015

OEB panel notes gaming opportunities for traders and growing data deficiencies

The Market Surveillance Panel (the Panel) of the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) recently issued it's report for the period from November 2013 to April 2014. Having ripped into the the Panel for what I saw as poor and petty portions of its previous report, I thought I should comment on this one as it is a return to higher quality.

Perhaps the most important section of the new report notes the data deficiencies clouding all analysis on Ontario's electricity sector.
Market Surveillance Panel: April 2015 Monitoring Report on the IESO-Administered Electricity Markets for the period from November 2013 – April 2014
3.1 Data on Embedded Generation, Embedded Consumption, and Behind-the-Meter GenerationSeveral shifts in the electricity industry in Ontario have highlighted to the Panel that data in certain important categories is not readily available. The lack of data has made tracking changes to certain aspects of the market—and assessing outcomes in the market—more difficult. The Panel has identified three main categories of unavailable data that affect the accuracy of metrics that are important to understand several aspects of the industry. These categories are embedded generation, Embedded Class A consumption, and behind-the-meter generation. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Negotiations slow on Bruce Power contracts: issues with Ontario's nuclear refurbishment scheduling

Shawn McCarthy wrote a column on slow-moving negotiations regarding the refurbishment of Ontario's nuclear reactors, primarily those operated by Bruce Power. In the week since it was written it inspired 0 comments - and here I am expanding on the topic!

Ontario news these days is on the sale of Hydro One and budgets and cap-and-trade, all of which I'll likely get to at some point, but most of those stories are simply about sleight of hand to hide debt, and grabbing funding for a favoured constituency from unfavoured ones.

The operation of Ontario's nuclear reactors is, in contrast, not simply a flavour-of-the-day story.

Negotiations delay TransCanada’s Bruce Power nuclear reactor updates | Globe and Mail
Bruce Power and the Ontario government are mired in negotiations for a $15-billion deal to refurbish six nuclear reactors, delaying the planned project past a self-imposed deadline and posing new questions about the province’s future energy mix.
The Liberal government insists it remains committed to refurbishing Ontario’s aging nuclear fleet. However, both sides have signalled they are concerned about potential cost over-runs, and Bruce and its shareholders worry about the province’s schedule, which would require the company to take units off-line before the end of their commercial life.
"TransCanada also wants to squeeze as much cash from the existing reactors as possible before having to invest in upgrading them" is the easy way to keep the article newspaper length, but a closer look might point the interest to OPG's Darlington, and question if they operate their reactors to maximize value as Bruce Power does.