Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why Silicon Valley will never become Green Energy Valley

Why Silicon Valley will never become Green Energy Valley:

Another article following the withdrawal of Google from the development of renewable energy
"Silicon Valley’s defenders continue pretending that an exclusively private venture capitalist risk-taking model in green energy can deliver clean, reasonable priced and secure energy. The storyline is “trust us – give us more money and time”. This investment model, exactly the same which has produced the most intense and dangerous global economic and financial crisis since 1945, is basically an elitist flight from reality, featuring a clique of influential and rich business players who “sincerely believe” they deserve huge government subsidies – while proclaiming their proud support of private venture capitalism. All too often, investor and government cash flowing to such ventures is frittered away on elitist pet themes, with little or no regulation, oversight or obligation to perform."

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Moore's Law is NOT Applicable to Solar Panels

The American Spectator: Paul Krugman Flunks Moore's Law, By William Tucker

"Moore's Law is about information, not energy. The reason computer chips have gotten smaller and smaller is that we keep using less and less energy to store the same amount of information. Think of each logic gate as a light bulb that can be turned on and off to represent a "1" or a "0." The original computers used vacuum tubes that consumed lots of electricity. Now we use transistors printed on microscopic circuit boards that require only the faintest electrical current. We may eventually get down to the level of individual electrons, but the point is that all this is accomplished by using smaller and smaller energy differentials to represent the ones and zeroes.When you go looking for energy, however, you can't do that. You can't go down, down, down into the microcosm using less and less energy to produce more and more energy or even the same amount of energy. Energy is energy. You're stuck with what's available.With solar energy this is all very easy to calculate. The average amount of solar energy falling on a square meter of earth is 400 watts. It will never be any different. With present technology, we can convert 25 percent of this to electricity. This means powering a 100-watt light bulb on a space the size a card table. If we could raise this conversion to 35 percent -- a 40 percent increase -- it would be a technological marvel. That's a lot different than doubling every two years."

Et Tu Canute?

Kyoto protocol may suffer fate of Julius Caesar at Durban climate talks | John Vidal | Environment |

"If Canada – once Kyoto's friend, now its undisguised enemy – were to withdraw it would probably be a death blow to the only international treaty that obliges by law rich countries to reduce emissions. The world can just about live with the US outside the treaty but to have Canada formally outside too, really signals the rich countries' diplomatic flight from the treaty that the world signed up to only 15 years ago. Japan and Russia are set against the treaty, leaving the EU as the only rich grouping of countries which is hedging its bets.

It all reminds me of the assassination of Caesar in Julius Caesar. In the play, Caesar's friends and colleagues hide their weapons before ritually stabbing him together, thus sharing the responsibility for his death. The US may be the country that has plotted the end of the treaty but Canada now has the dagger in its hand."

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Did Ontario Energy Minster Bentley's statement Send Market Prices Crashing?

Statement from Ontario Minister of Energy Chris Bentley:

Within 16 hours of this statement from the Minister, the Hourly Ontario Energy Price (HOEP) had crashed  below $0, and we were paying over $100/MWh to any takers of our generation.
We are limited in our ability to export by interties, partially because of the Six Nations holdup of additional transmission - Bentley may not be aware of this - but in the previous cabinet he had dual roles as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Attorney General, so there's a possibility he might have heard something about it.
Or he may have devoted himself to a pet project fixing up Attawapiskat.   
I dunno.
I do know nuclear units 6 and 7 at Bruce B were once again dumping power (they are guaranteed a floor price regardless), and the reason is not hard to spot.
The reason for the price crash is also not hard to spot.  It isn't the Minister's statement - it's the deeply flawed policies the Minister is braying about.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Writer Fred Pearce Calls for Nuclear Power

Nuclear power? Yes please!: A former opponent calls on Chris Huhne to embrace the energy source that's cheap AND good for the environment | Mail Online:  by Fred Pearce

The truth is that our energy industry is in a mess. Ever since privatisation, the utilities have been mired in short-term thinking and have failed to invest. The big power stations built by the old Central Electricity Generating Board are reaching the end of their lives.Unless Huhne does something to replace them, he will be remembered as the Minister who left us huddled over candles as well as forking out for a green tax.
Hopefully, Chancellor George Osborne will kick-start that process on Tuesday by announcing plans to accelerate infrastructure building as a recession-busting measure.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

IESO Release New 18-Month Outlook

Ontario's Independent Electric System Opertor (IESO) has released an 18-Month Outlook, to May 2013.
The headline summary is we will have adequate supply.
That hasn't been the issue for years though.

French study: Electricity liberalisation has failed to deliver benefits to households

French study: Electricity liberalisation has failed to deliver benefits to households:
"A new study by the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI) shows that the liberalisation of electricity markets in the EU 'has not had a major effect on prices'. It also shows that opening up and connecting markets does not necessarily lead to a more efficient system. "
I'd expect there to be some substance to claims the goals of market 'liberalisation' was to benefit consumers.

This study indicates there may be no substance to the claims.

The author also has an interesting, and I think correct, view of smart metering:

"The smart meter can be developed for those who have an intermittent use of electricity, such as those who have an electric car and who can decide when to charge it up again. At the end of the day, all these systems imply that we replace consumption with an investment, which is a possibility that not everyone has. That will be the case for a third of small consumers at most, according to studies on the subject. Those who don’t have access to it (e.g. people who don’t have the internet, elderly people etc.) are not mentioned in official speeches."

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bruce soon firing on all eight - Owen Sound Sun Times - Ontario, CA

Bruce soon firing on all eight - Owen Sound Sun Times - Ontario, CA:

This article from Owen Sound answers some questions, such as regarding the transmission (I think this says no way will Hydro One be able to move the output of all 8 reactors):
"Hawthorne said he is optimistic the new Bruce to Milton transmission line, which is needed to carry all the power Bruce will be able to generate, will be ready "when we need it."

"The construction work is going very well. I'm assured by Hydro One people that is the case . . . There's two things. One is there's a contractual, if you like, element which says we should not assume it's going to be there before the end of 2012 from a contractual point of view. But that's not the programatic date that they're working to. Really Hydro One have to speak for themselves, but I'm working on the basis that the transmission will be there when we need it and I've got every reason to believe that's the case," he said.

A Hydro One spokeswoman could not confirm the transmission capacity would be ready that soon. Nancy Shaddick said she could only say the projects is "on schedule to meet its service date of December 2012."

So far 486 of the 727 towers along the route have been completed and 219 towers have power lines attached, she said."

The article raise new questions to. While the two reactors were being refurbished, so to were units in Point Lepreau, New Brunswick, and Wolsong 1 in South Korea, both of which were operational until the refurbishment project began with. Mr. Hawthorne seems, to me, to be giving notice that such refurbishments is not in his plans for the remaining unit at Bruce:

Hawthorne said he doubts Bruce Power will undertake such a massive project again, despite the provincial government's long-term energy plan which "assumes all of the units at the Bruce site will be refurbished when it is necessary to do so . . . (Units) 1 and 2 were very unique because they'd been shut down for more than a decade before I got here so they needed a different approach whereas the other units are all operating today so it would be more a phased replacement of life-limiting components," he said.
He might mean they have more affordable methods of accomplishing the same thing with minimal interruption of output.  If so, why are OPG building a mock-up structure at Darlington to practice refurbishments?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bruce Begins Fueling of 2nd Refurbished Unit

Bruce Power begins loading fuel in Unit 1 | Bruce Power:
“Following the successful completion of fuel load in Unit 2, just a few months ago, we are pleased to be now moving forward with fuel load in Unit 1,” said Duncan Hawthorne, President and CEO. “Fuel load in Unit 1 is another significant milestone as we move into the final stages of returning these units to service in 2012.”
Hey, Hydro One ... how's that transmission line progressing?

The only references to the project, in the recent quarterly report, was that it existed and; "On September 14, 2011, the Niagara Escarpment Commission issued our Development Permit ..., allowing us to immediately proceed with necessary work ..."


Friday, November 18, 2011

Ontario Power Generation Posts 3rd Quarter Loss

Ontario Power Generation posts third-quarter loss - The Globe and Mail:

I don't often reference comments I make on articles, but the figures I looked up to comment on this story fell into place much more neatly than I anticipated.

I don't believe the 'nuclear funds' should be included in OPG's reporting, so the headline number isn't a big deal to me. My concern has generally been the plundering of public assets for distribution based on dubious political goals.

I wrote about the structure of the heist here.

OPG's statement on 3rd quarter results is here.

OPG is not allowed to build solar or wind - only private companies are.
Public OPG produced, in the first 3 quarters:
36.6TWh @ $55/MWh with nuclear
14.5TWh @ $35/MWh with regulated hydro
10.3TWh @ $33/MWh with unregulated hydro
 3.1TWH @ $35/MWh with thermal (coal)
The average price to Ontario consumers over that period was about $71/MWh - meaning OPG was paid about $1.3 billion less for their production than it was sold for.
The difference funds a couple of things. Over $300 million will go into programs to reduce consumption, and some will go into funds writing off the coal plants, but mostly is distributed to private generators.
At 2.5 TWh, end of Sept YTD, that would include over $300 million to the wind companies.
There aren't good figures on the solar, but likely about 250MW of capacity probably puts the figure up to around $125 million.
A big chunk also would go to pay the owners of contracted natural gas capacity, which were lured to a market only by guarantees of Net Revenue Requirements (because as wind and solar capacity grows there was an expectation - probably incorrect - the plants would operate infrequently). Estimates put those contract prices averaging over 10 cents/kWh -- so $30/MWh above the market price on 17.4TWh would be around $525 million going to those producers.
The sum of OPA's demand reduction funding, wind, solar, and the capacity payments for gas (which are not unconnected to wind and solar policies) do equate closely to the value drained out of OPG's production, which is primarily hydro and nuclear.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tim Hudak addresses Association of Power Producers of Ontario | Ontario PC Party

Tim Hudak addresses Association of Power Producers of Ontario | Ontario PC Party:

According to the Ministry of Energy, electricity prices in this province will double over the next two decades, while the U.S. Energy Information Agency actually projects electricity prices in the United States to decrease over the same time period.
You tell me, if you were an entrepreneur looking to start a business, where would you choose?

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Transmission System Operator Gives Notice On Offshore Wind Farms

Tennet Warns Chancellory and Federal Ministries of Difficulties for Offshore Grid Connection « German Energy Blog:
"TenneT TSO GmbH informed that offshore grid connections in the North Sea are no longer desirable and possible at the current rate and in the current form.

Tennet explained its move with a lack of personnel, material and financial resources of all parties involved, i.e. suppliers and Tennet.

The company was in the process of connecting nine wind farms in the North Sea and would carry on with these projects as planned. However, awarding further direct current connection projects was not possible under the existing framework conditions and at the current rate and form. "

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Spin Room: Ontarians DON'T Continue to Benefit from Electricity Exports

Ontarians Continue to Benefit from Electricity Exports: is the release from the government.

Ontario's electricity market generated over $23 million in October by exporting electricity to other states and provinces, bringing total net export revenues to nearly $248 million this year.
This revenue helps Ontario:

  • Keep costs down for families
  • Build and maintain a clean, reliable and modern electricity system
I've done some quick graphing of estimates based on 12-month moving averages from IESO publicly available data.  The first shows the estimated cost, per MWh, of exported electricity (at the Hourly Ontario Energy Price - HOEP), compared to the cost  in Ontario (the HOEP plus the Global Adjustment).
This might benefit families  ... if they live in Michigan.

'via Blog this'
-spreadsheet here

Saturday, November 12, 2011

German Council of Economic Experts Criticism of Germany's Energy Policy

The first section of the annual report from the 'five wise men' of the German economy is now available in English.  Comments specifically geared to energy policy begin on page 13 of the German Council of Economic Experts – Annual Report 2011/12.

I highly recommend reading the full section if you have an interests in economics and energy policy, so I hesitated to pick out a particular section for reference, but ...
The main problem of the Renewable Energies Act is thus the costs associated with its (apparent) success. It has proved to be very effective in fostering extra capacity, but is at the same time extremely inefficient. In particular, the 20-year guaranteed minimum remuneration period at the prices valid at the time of constructing the renewables plant means that the renewables structure currently in place will continue to involve very high payment obligations for a lengthy period. Hence it would be impossible to lower the costs of the Renewable Energies Act in the foreseeable future even if the promotion of newly installed plant were to be ended immediately. This is because an immediate stop to the renewables expansion programme would merely reduce the volume of promotion over time only in so far as a plant that has been producing electricity for 20 years reaches the end of the promotion entitlement term. In this way additional costs had already been incurred by the year 2010 vis-à-vis expected future electricity prices amounting to a present value of over 80 billion euro.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thomas Walkom Notes The Privatization of Ontario Power

This article appeared initially in The Toronto Star. The topic is one I've noted on my morecoldair blog frequently. It was interesting The Toronto Star, via the Atkinson Principle a publication designed to support Liberal traditions would print it. The Star should explain their support of the government's energy policies in the context of upholding the Atkinson Principles - now that they have printed an acknowledgement public assets are subsidizing private wealth.

Also noteworthy is how frequently, and where, the article is being republished.

McGuinty's stealthy privatization of public power - Power Engineering:
"Ontario is quietly privatizing its electricity system. Unlike former Tory premier Mike Harris, Dalton McGuinty is not advertising this fact. But slowly and inexorably, his Liberal government is squeezing out public power.
The evidence is in the figures. When McGuinty became premier in 2003, about 72 per cent of the province's electricity was produced by Ontario Power Generation, the Crown corporation once known as Ontario Hydro.
By 2010, that figure had dropped to 62 per cent."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, November 10, 2011

German Academic Group Criticizes Energy Policy - Calls to replace Feed-in Tariffs

German Council of Economic Experts Critical of Energy Policy and Current Promotion of Renewables « German Energy Blog:
"Yesterday the German Council of Economic Experts (GCEE) submitted its Annual Economic Report 2011/2012 to Chancellor Angela Merkel. The report also deals extensively with German energy policy. GCEE criticises the German reversal of its energy policy following the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima and the costly promotion policy for renewable energy. It calls for a radical rethinking and a European approach for the expansion of the share of renewable energy instead of a a go-it-alone national approach."

It proposes to replace the German system of fixed feed-in tariffs pursuant to the EEG by green electricity certificates. To be able to exploit specific locational advantages for renewable energies in Europe, the system should be harmonized throughout Europe in the medium term, the council says, calling for a harmonisation of promotion rates in Germany across all technologies as a first step.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ontario's CANDUs can be more flexible than natural gas-fired generation and hydro generation

The following entry is written by Donald Jones.  The piece is particularly timely as it comes during a week when KMPG released their estimated costs on low carbon electricity generation possibilities, showing the lowest cost option as 70% nuclear. 

There is a widely held belief that commercial nuclear-electric plants are only capable of baseload operation when in fact they can be more flexible than a natural gas-fired generating station. This belief has led the Ontario government to restrict nuclear generation to 50 percent of total demand, in its Long-Term Energy Plan, to avoid more surplus baseload generation (SBG). It may also have provided some of the rationale for the expansion of wind/gas generation. In France nuclear meets nearly 80 percent of the electricity demand so the output of nuclear units has to be changed throughout the day to match the load on the grid, load-following. In Ontario the nuclear units operate baseload but units at Bruce B can be held at reduced output overnight when demand on the grid is low, load-cycling.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

KPMG Report shows Lowest Cost Low-Carbon Energy Mix as 70% Nuclear

KPMG Global Energy Institute's “New nuclear – an economic perspective” concludes that in a market not required to generate low carbon, “the cost of electricity would be approximately £70/MWh”

A “high nuclear” scenario (approximately 70%), supported by abated gas and coal (i.e. through the use of CCS) would increase this cost to £75/MWh.

A third scenario, in which the percentage of nuclear power is reduced to 32%, replacing the difference with alternative low-carbon sources, of which 22% is off-shore wind, increases this price to £100/MWh.

However, recognising that CCS may not be viable and replacing this component with alternative sources, principally off-shore wind (40%), increases the electricity cost further to £110/MWh.
Finally, in a scenario where CCS is considered a viable alternative and is used to reduce the nuclear component to zero (off-shore wind remaining at 40%), the electricity cost rises to £120/MWh.

Monday, November 7, 2011

KPMG Reports Scrapping Wind, For Nuclear, would save each person in the UK £550

Scrapping wind farms in favour of nuclear and gas will save each of us £550 | Mail Online:
"Shelving expensive wind farms in favour of cheaper nuclear and gas-fired power stations would save every Briton almost £550, it is claimed.
Government plans to cut pollution by a third by 2020 rely heavily on wind power and will cost £108billion to implement, an accountancy firm has calculated.
But shifting the emphasis away from turbines and towards nuclear and gas-fired power stations would slash the bill by £34billion, according to KPMG.
This equates to around £550 for every person in the country."
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PwC Reports a Rise in Carbon Intensity for 2010

For the first time we have made no improvement in our rate of decarbonisation. We have in fact increased the carbon intensity of growth. The economic recovery, where it has occurred, has been dirty. Even where there has been growth in OECD countries during the global financial crisis, it has not been decoupled from carbon. The rapid growth of high carbon intensive emerging economies in this period, has also pushed up the average carbon intensity of the global economy.

In sum, the 2011 PwC Low Carbon Economy Index shows that the G20 economies have moved from travelling too slowly in the right direction, to travelling in the wrong direction. The annual percentage reduction now required is 4.8% per year, a figure in excess of what has been proven to be historically sustainable. The results call into question the current likelihood of our global decarbonisation ever happening rapidly enough to avoid 2 degrees of global warming. But 2011 has thrown up a second challenge as well. The events of the Arab Spring have shown the social, economic and political necessity of delivering not just low carbon growth, but growth that delivers on the basic needs, including power, of the billions at the bottom of the pyramid

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UK Considers a Fast Breeder Reactor to deal with waste

New life for old idea that could dissolve our nuclear waste - Green Living - Environment - The Independent:

"The NDA has asked General Electric to come up with a detailed proposal, including costings, of how to licence and build a nuclear fast reactor on the Sellafield site to burn the plutonium stockpile without the need to first convert it to Mox fuel."
Fast breeder reactors promise to close the nuclear fuel cycle, by using the 'waste' of traditional reactors as fuel.

Writer Mark Lynas has a brief explanation of the importance of dealing with the waste issue.

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Nuclear Power Is Our Gateway To A Prosperous Future

The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : Nuclear power is our gateway to a prosperous future:

This is written by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a former President of India.
There is a distinct and categorical correlation between the energy consumption and income of a nation — each reinforcing the other. Look around you: every step into progress comes with an addition of demand for energy — cars, ships and aircraft to move, hospitals to give quality healthcare, education, as it follows the model of e-connectivity, production of more and better goods, irrigation for better farming. In fact, every element of our lives is increasingly going to become energy-intensive — that is a necessary prerequisite for development.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Reasons for Pessimism in Future Climate Talks

BBC News - Climate summit set for rows on flying, cash and history:

An interesting article (with charts) illustrating the stark issues with climate talk. To begin with, it's being noted more frequently that CO2 in the atmosphere is a cumulative problem, and much of the existing carbon was put there by rich nations. So some other nations will negotiate with a starting point of reductions in those rich nations being unsatisfactory - they say we rich countries should become carbon sinks.

... technical analysis for a group of developing countries says Western nations have a duty to absorb CO2 over the coming decades.
Clouding all issues remains the Kyoto accord. Japan seems to have firmly entered the camp declaring Kyoto a dead issue, joining Russia and Canada (signatories).  Can there be doubt this is due to their desire to increase emissions through increased use of coal and gas in electricity generation, as plans for nuclear expansions were scuttled by Fukushima?
"Japan is particularly concerned about losing economic competitiveness given that its main economic rivals are not covered by any internationally binding targets.

"The world's number one emitter (China) has no obligations under Kyoto, the number two emitter (US) is not a party and the number three emitter (India) has no obligations,"

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Engineers Question Scottish Energy Policy

Scottish Energy 2020? Institution of Mechanical Engineers (.pdf)

An interesting overview of emissions issues related to energy - and the limited role of electricity in the total energy consumption of one, representative, location.
What these findings illustrate is that the term ‘Energy’ is often confused with ‘Electricity', a mistake often made in the media and in Government communications. Electricity is actually projected to be the smallest component of Scotland’s energy demand (heat and transport energy being greater).
Any 21st century energy policy must be sustainable. To guide the development of sustainable energy policy, the Institution created the ‘Energy Hierarchy’, a simple tool stating that energy policy must start with energy demand reduction, and then proceed with improving energy efficiency before considering different types of energy supply...
Only when the first two tiers of the Hierarchy have been fulfilled, should more effective ways of supplying energy be considered. Current Scottish energy policy fails in this regard by promoting supply-side technologies before first dealing with demand-side issues.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Feed-In Tariff Prices For Solar Plummet

Feed-In Tariff (FiT) programs were cut in the UK last week - from the equivalent of about 70 Canadian cents to 34 cents/kWh.
The recent FiT review in Germany cut their rates 15%, putting solar subsidies there between 18 and 24 Euro cents/kWh, or the equivalent of 25-34 Canadian cents/kWh.

Solar subsidies to be cut by half | Environment | The Guardian:
"The plummeting costs of solar mean we've got no option but to act so that we stay within budget and not threaten the whole viability of the Fits scheme," said Barker. "Although I fully realise that adjusting to the new lower tariffs will be a big challenge for many firms, it won't come as a surprise to many in the solar industry who've themselves acknowledged the big fall in costs and the big increase in their rate of return over the past year."

The department of energy and climate change admitted its expectations had been far too low, with three times as much solar installed as it had projected, with over 100,000 installations so far.

The cut will almost double the payback period for householders, meaning someone installing £10-12,000 solar panels will only be in credit after 18 years rather than 10. The rate will be reduced from 43.3p per kWh of solar electricity to just 21p, cutting returns from around 7% to 4%."

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

US NRC Certifies Advanced Boiling Water Reactor design

NRC Certifies Amended ABWR Design :: POWER Magazine:
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Tuesday certified an amended version of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), the third-generation reactor design offered separately by GE-Hitachi and Toshiba, which has been chosen for new nuclear builds at the South Texas Project (STP) site. The NRC’s decision means that nuclear developers in the U.S. can use the reactor..."
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