Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hydro Quebec told former Liberal government before election to shut down costly Gentilly II project

I winced at the adjectives, such as 'costly', in this article, but the gist of it is fair.
For perspective on the decision, I suggest an article from the summer of 2010, "As Quebec bathes in electricity, money goes down the drain."
As the graphic I've included in this post indicates, two years later the price decline continues for exports. Quebec continues to pay the advanced Bécancour cogeneration electricity plant to remain idle (and it is expected to do so for years to come).

Hydro Quebec told former Liberal government before election to shut down costly Gentilly II project - The Globe and Mail:
Graph created for previous post
The report also noted that when the decision was announced to refurbish Gentilly II in 2008 the cost of producing electricity made it feasible. But since then the market price of producing electricity has plummeted with the sharp increase in shale-gas production in the United States.
It had been estimated that Gentilly II, once refitted, could produce electricity costing between 7 cents and 8 cents a kilowatt hour. At the time the average price for electricity on the open market was 9 cents a kilowatt hour. But cheaper electricity using shale-gas production plunged prices to 4 cents a kilowatt hour. What was once considered a viable project in 2008 became totally unfeasible in 2012.
The entire article can be read at The Globe and Mail:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Germany moves to shift electricity costs to taxpayers from ratepayers

Faced with an election this fall, and a series of losses in elections at lower levels of government, the Merkel government looks set to freeze the renewables surcharge.
There's an argument that cost will be controlled, as opposed to taxpayers making up a shortfall, but if they could control costs, I suggest they would have done so previously

Rösler Calls for EEG Reform Before Elections, Altmaier Proposes Amendment to Limit Electricity Prices « German Energy Blog:
Mr Altmaier has repeatedly said he wanted a broad consensus for an EEG reform, hence a fundamental reform was not likely to take place before the federal election. Mr Rösler on the other hand called for an EEG reform before the election. In a press release issued by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) today, Mr Rösler reiterated his demand, saying the government had to put a stop to the spiraling costs. Without going into further detail he demanded a fundamental reform of the EEG.
Today Mr Altmaier proposed an amendment of the EEG to be enacted by August this year, i.e. before the election, to limit electricity prices by limiting the EEG related costs.
His proposal consists of the following aspects:
  • To ensure the predictability, reliability and affordability of the EEG related electricity price costs, the EEG surcharge shall be limited and mandated by law;
  • For 2013 and 2014 the EEG surcharge shall amount to 5.28 ct/kWh, and the increase in the following years shall be limited to 2.5% per year;
The entire article can be read on the German Energy Blog

The primary drivers of the current annual $20 billion Euro EEG charge is 5-6% of generation coming from solar, and the 8% from wind.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Priority grid access, at least…"

The one thing Germany looks like it may keep from it's feed-in tariff program is probably the first thing that should have gone - in my opinion.

"Priority grid access, at least…" - 100% renewable - Renewables International:
The German renewables community is increasingly concerned about whether priority grid access for renewables will come under the hammer. Up to now, the focus has been on the level of feed-in tariffs. At a reception held by German renewables organization BEE in Berlin, German Environmental Minister Altmaier seemed to indicate a commitment to priority grid access, though a number of subsequent comments revealed a willingness to compromise.
"I believe we will want to stick by priority grid access," Minister Altmaier stated at the reception. But when the crowd broke into 30 seconds of applause at the announcement, the minister made no attempt to shout over the noise as he continued, "at least…"
Read the entire article at Renewables International:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wind Turbines Less Productive than Expected

Having looked at the ability of Ontario's system operator to forecast near-term wind productivity in my previous post, I put some data together to show a similar inability to forecast "Capability at Winter Peak".
The IESO presents the anticipated "capability" during peak demand in it's 18-Month Outlooks, as part of it's resource adequacy assessment: for this winter it noted 507MW (of 1511MW capacity), while their summer assessment noted a forecast capability of 202MW (of 1511)

The data shows this is wrong.

Ontario Wind Forecasting Weak During Cold Spell

Ontario's cold spell this week inspired me to check on how the Ontario's wind forecasting was performing.
It isn't good.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) runs a central forecasting system.
Ratepayers, not generators, fund it.  I tested the performance by tracking the hours of forecasting, and actuals, for hour 19 over the past 4 days

Data, and chart, are contained in google spreadsheet here

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lomborg on US President's "fear-mongering exaggeration" and Mitigating Climate Change

Bjorn Lomborg: Climate-Change Misdirection -
In the long run, the world needs to cut carbon dioxide because it causes global warming. But if the main effort to cut emissions is through subsidies for chic renewables like wind and solar power, virtually no good will be achieved—at very high cost. The cost of climate policies just for the European Union—intended to reduce emissions by 2020 to 20% below 1990 levels—are estimated at about $250 billion annually. And the benefits, when estimated using a standard climate model, will reduce temperature only by an immeasurable one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit by the end of the century.
Even in 2035, with the most optimistic scenario, the International Energy Agency estimates that just 2.4% of the world's energy will come from wind and only 1% from solar. As is the case today, almost 80% will still come from fossil fuels. As long as green energy is more expensive than fossil fuels, growing consumer markets like those in China and India will continue to use them, despite what well-meaning but broke Westerners try to do
Read the entire article at

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Monthly Capacity Factor of Wind Turbines in Ontario

Ontario's IESO shares data on Generator Output and Capability in Ontario.  Unfortunately, the IESO files corrupt the integrity of the data by not showing the full capability of projects that have not achieved commercial operation.
Stripping out the data for sites not yet in commercial operation is necessary to compare the performance of wind turbines since the IESO tracking begins in 2006.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cheap Canadian Imports contribute to historic low New York electricity prices

A report out of New York state notes 2012 had the lowest electricity price in years - and then speculates on the reasons of low 2012 pricing, and the cause of high rates today.

New York’s electricity prices reach historic lows - The Buzz: Business news - Capital Region business, industry news - - Albany NY:
The average price of wholesale electricity in New York state last year was the lowest recorded since the advent of a competitive power market 12 years ago.
The New York Independent System Operator, a nonprofit collaborative that runs the state’s wholesale electricity markets, says the average price per megawatt hour of electricity in the state was $43.23 last year, more than $5 lower than the previous low set in 2009.
Interestingly, wholesale prices in the Capital Region and all the way down to New York City and Long Island reached $150 per megawatt hour on Wednesday, which is unusual. It is possible that a problem with a transmission line could have caused the spike. The high pricing later spread all the way to the Finger Lakes.
Continue reading at The Buzz: Business news

The answer to today's high rates is in overall demand in a number of connected markets - as I was reminded by the comments attached to a post on my Cold Air blog.  Most significantly, Quebec is setting consumption/demand records today.

Controversial BrightSource Solar Thermal Project Looks Dead

News that a power purchase agreement has been terminated on another solar thermal project in California

BrightSource and SoCal Edison terminate solar power deal| Renewablesbiz
Jan 22 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - George Avalos Contra Costa TimesBrightSource Energy and Southern California Edison have terminated a power purchase agreement for a solar thermal power plant near the Mojave Desert city of Blythe, according to a state regulatory filing.
"All proceedings are suspended," the state Energy Commission said in a regulatory filing, adding that this was "pursuant to the applicant's request."
The solar energy company and the utility, based in the Southern California city of Rosemead, said they mutually terminated their contract. The termination involves the Rio Mesa 2 project in the desert.
Oakland-based BrightSource also asked the state agency to suspect permitting activities for its adjacent Rio Mesa 1 solar complex.
The major current project for BrightSource is a large solar plant in the Mojave Desert near the Ivanpah settlement. That solar complex is under construction.
The entire article may be read at Renewablesbiz

Brightsource may sound familiar, as it has a high profile supporter in Robert F Kennedy Junior.  Over 3 years ago the New York Times noted environmentalists challenging Brightsource's Mojave Solar Proposal.  In that interview characterized opponents as "...putting the democratic process and sound scientific judgement on hold to jeopardize the energy future of our country."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Historical peak: Hydro-Québec asks for the public's cooperation to reduce power consumption

Historical peak: Hydro-Québec asks for the public's cooperation to reduce power consumption | Press releases | Newsroom:
Hydro-Québec is anticipating record power consumption due to the extremely cold weather conditions prevailing now and forecast for the next few days. System demand is expected to reach a historical peak of 39,000 MW, exceeding the 37,717-MW peak recorded on January 24, 2011

All of its production facilities are in operation. However, in order to give the utility greater operating margin, Hydro-Québec is asking for cooperation from the public to reduce power consumption during peak periods. 
Continue Reading the Press releases

While Hydro-Quebec may have all "production" facilities in operation, it also chose to shut it's lone nuclear reactor in December, following an election last year.
It also pays to keep a private (Transcanada) combined-cycle gas turbine generation station idle.

Monday, January 21, 2013

"We no longer need feed-in tariffs"

Renewable International kicks off a series of comments by "top solar executives; I've grabbed 3 fragments from comments by the first 3 executives.

"We no longer need feed-in tariffs" - News - Renewables International:

  • "...we believe we are well prepared as the market changes towards direct consumption."
  • " solar arrays will increasingly become important, such as in China, India, and Thailand. In these countries, the goal is to provide sufficient amounts of affordable energy. Photovoltaics will speed up power connections for millions of people who currently do without."
  • "In a year and a half, we will be talking about completely different solar markets. The focus will then mainly be on direct consumption and power trading."

Continue Reading at Renewables International:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Belgium plans artificial island to store wind power

I don't understand why solutions like this wouldn't be arguments for more baseload plants instead of being associated with renewables.
This is a nice twist on pumped storage - pumping out during excess production, and flowing water in when production is required.

Belgium plans artificial island to store wind power | Reuters:
BRUSSELS, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Belgium is planning to build a doughnut-shaped island in the North Sea that will store wind energy by pumping water out of a hollow in the middle, as it looks for ways to lessen its reliance on nuclear power.
One of the biggest problems with electricity is that it is difficult to store and the issue is exaggerated in the case of renewable energy from wind or sun because it is intermittent depending on the weather.
"We have a lot of energy from the wind mills and sometimes it just gets lost because there isn't enough demand for the electricity," said a spokeswoman for Belgium's North Sea minister Johan Vande Lanotte.
"This is a great solution," she said, adding she thought it could be the first of its kind.
Excess energy would be used to pump water out of the centre of the island, and then the water would be let back in through turbines Publish Postwhen demand outpaces supply.
The full article can be read at Reuters:

I am disappointed the Belgians would build a donut shaped structure - instead of putting effort into designing turbine feeds arrayed as a waffle.

Paving a path to intelligent energy use

It's not resurrecting Powermeter, but Google is contributing to addressing the issues that made Powermeter struggle for acceptance.
Smart electricity sysems need a focus on open markets, open standards and a range of pricing options including real-time pricing

Paving a path to intelligent energy use - Google Green Blog:
The challenge is that the rules governing electricity distribution were written for last century’s grid. That’s why is giving a $2.65M grant to the Energy Foundation to support policy reforms that will lead to more intelligent energy use. The effort will focus on three fundamental areas:
  • Smarter electricity rates that encourage consumers to be more efficient, shift their electricity use to times when it’s cheaper and produce their own on-site energy; 
  • Access to electricity markets for consumers and other businesses so they can be compensated for cutting energy use at key times; and 
  • Open data policies that give customers access to their own energy data, which they can use or share with third parties they select, promoting better energy management tools and services.
Read the full article at Google Green Blog

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bad Data: A Government Story. The Wind Example

A little change of direction for this Cold Air Currents blog
A lot of this blog was citing articles of interest, particularly in the energy field.  After a couple of years of curiousity, I'm finding less articles of interest - so I'll try to post some more entries with pieces developed writing original content for my Cold Air Blog

The press dutifully reported recent figures for 2012 presented by Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).  I was struck by the fact that some of the figures are wrong (postscript here)... and then, less so, by the fact nobody much cared.

I shouldn't have been surprised by the second instance because I've encountered evidence that data integrity hasn't been a huge issue at a number of levels.  One early source I found for historical data on Ontario's electricity sector was The National Inventory Reports filed under the Kyoto protocol.  The past turns out to be extremely pliable under reporting - even in a relatively simply thing like MWh generated.

Statistics Canada would later make it's CANSIM database available online - providing a wealth of data.  CANSIM Table 127-0002 has many fields, but I've chose to look at the monthly data for "Total all classes of electricity producer" for "wind power turbine."

I've graphed monthly figures from that table, along with 12-month running totals, to corresponding data derived from the IESO's hourly wind generator output .csv file.

The CANSIM data reports about half the wind output reported by the IESO.

Neither figure reflects the actual the wind generator output that Ontario will pay for.  Many smaller industrial wind projects are not in the IESO reporting - but the projects hold contracts which presumably are tallied and paid on a regular basis.  

All solar projects currently producing electricity in Ontario are also unreported by the IESO - only CANSIM provides any figures on solar productivity (they are about 50% of my estimates).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial

The massive open online course is being modified in order to educate high school entrants to San Jose University so that they are prepared for university.
Maybe working with the programs at a high school level would be the suggestion from a different governor 

A plan to offer an array of online college classes at a California state university could, if the students are successful, open the door to teaching hundreds of thousands of California students at a lower cost via the Internet.
Udacity, a Silicon Valley start-up that creates online college classes, will announce a deal on Tuesday with San Jose State University for a series of remedial and introductory courses.
Because the courses are intended to involve the classroom instructor, it could also help to blunt professors’ unease with the online classes.
The state university’s deal with Udacity is also the first time that professors at a university have collaborated with a provider of a MOOC — massive open online course — to create for-credit courses with students watching videos and taking interactive quizzes, and receiving support from online mentors.
California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial -

No Capacity Value, no capacity payment, and no ability to set price

It takes a certain audience to appreciate this, but it seems they just cant' figure out how to bid into capacity markets with generation that has no/little capacity value.
It also seems that generation with no capacity value is treated as a price taker, instead of bidding into the New England market with below-cost prices.

New England Wind Forum: ISO New England Updates:
The New England Power Pool (NEPOOL) FCM Redesign Working Group worked all year to reach consensus on a framework for the re-design of the FCM following an almost complete lack of support for the proposed ISO-NE compliance filing at the Markets Committee in November 2011. In April 2011, FERC issued an order in the New England FCM re-design proceedings, Docket ER10-787, rejecting the two-tiered pricing proposal from ISO-NE in 2010. FERC instead called for ISO-NE to implement a form of buyer-side market power mitigation similar to those in place in PJM and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). Under a minimum price rule, policy-driven renewables, including wind generators, would be seen as "out-of-market" and prohibited from offering in the auctions below a price deemed "competitive" by ISO, a price expected to be above market clearing prices. Proposals to provide renewables with an exemption from this rule, allowing new renewable capacity to continue to have the option to offer in the auctions as price takers, have so far failed to garner sufficient support for adoption. Without such an exemption, it is unlikely that any new renewable resources (including those that cleared for the first time in FCA 6 or FCA 7) will clear in the forward capacity auctions and reap any capacity market revenues.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why Natural Gas Will Stay Cheap in 2013

A Bloomberg Businessweek article indicates the US Department of Energy is forecasting a comeback for coal in electricity generation, along with a decline in the market share of natural gas-fired generation.

Why Natural Gas Will Stay Cheap in 2013 - Businessweek:
“Coal has become more competitive against natural gas,” says Lucas Pipes, an analyst at Brean Murray, Carret & Co. Coal prices have gotten so cheap that if natural gas rises to just $3.40 this year, Pipes estimates that would cause 50 million tons of coal demand to come on the market as utilities fire up their coal plants.
The Department of Energy is forecasting that coal will account for 39 percent of all electricity generated in 2013, up from 37.6 percent last year. Meanwhile, natural gas’s continued run of increasing its share of the electricity market may be over. The DOE predicts that natural gas will lose ground this year and next, falling from 30.3 percent of all electricity generated in 2012, to 27.9 percent in 2013, and 27.5 percent in 2014.
Read the entire article at Businessweek:

Nuclear energy and climate change: Environmentalists debate how to stop global warming

Slate's Keith Kloor explores nuclear energy as an option to slow global warming; a topic likely to be popular this week as Oliver Stone's Pandora's Promise is set to premier at Sundance.

James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist, is one of the most impassioned and trusted voices on global warming. People listen closely to what he says about how drastically the climate is changing.
But when Hansen suggests what to do about it, many of those same people tune him out. Some even roll their eyes. What message is he peddling that few seemingly want to hear? It’s twofold: No. 1, solar and wind power cannot meet the world’s voracious demand for energy, especially given the projected needs of emerging economies like India and China, and No. 2, nuclear power is our best hope to get off of fossil fuels, which are primarily responsible for the heat-trapping gases cooking the planet.
Many in the environmental community say that renewable energy is a viable solution to the climate problem. So do numerous energy wonks, including two researchers who penned a 2009 cover story in Scientific American asserting that “wind, water, and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy” by 2030. Hansen calls claims like this the equivalent of “believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”
He’s not the only environmental luminary who is bullish on nuclear power. Last year, Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, echoed Hansen’s argument. A number of other champions of nuclear power have stepped forward in recent years, from Australian climate scientist Barry Brook to American writer Gwyneth Cravens,author of Power to Save the World: The Truth about Nuclear Energy. A breakaway group in the traditionally no-nukes environmental movement has also begun advocating passionately for nuclear power. That story is the subject of a new documentary that is premiering this month at the Sundance Festival.
Continue Reading at Slate Magazine:

Carbon vs. Energy Intensity

The data in this post be Maximilian Auffhammer surprised me

Carbon vs. Energy Intensity | Energy Economics Exchange

To frame my thinking, I went back to the famed Kaya identity, which underlies much of the IPCC’s approach to modeling emissions scenarios. It decomposes emissions as follows:

CO2 = Population * (GDP/Population) * (Energy/GDP) * (CO2/Energy)

The general thinking is that higher population and higher per capita income lead to higher emissions (as there is no solid evidence of a Kuznets curve for CO2, where per capita emissions start dropping at higher incomes). What I like about The Kaya identity over Holdren and Ehrlich’s IPAT identitiy, is that it decomposes the T slightly further into the energy intensity of GDP and the carbon intensity of energy at the national level. While this is of course obvious to most people working on this problem, I think it is worth pointing out that in this framework lower CO2 emissions come from two sources:
  • a less energy intensive economy
  • less carbon intensive energy consumption
...The left panel displays the trajectory of energy consumption divided by real GDP for the US (solid line) and China (dashed line). What we see for both countries is a relatively steady drop in the energy intensity (2% p.a for the US and 4% for the PRC). The right panel displays total CO2 emissions divided by energy consumption. For the US we note a 0.3% p.a. drop in carbon intensity. For China, we observe a 1.1% p.a. increase in the carbon intensity of energy.

Read the entire blog entry at Energy Institute at HAAS Energy Economics Exchange

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Beijing Air Pollution Off the Charts

Beijing Air Pollution Off the Charts -
BEIJING — One Friday more than two years ago, an air-quality monitoring device atop the United States Embassy in Beijing recorded data so horrifying that someone in the embassy called the level of pollution “Crazy Bad” in an infamous Twitter post. That day the Air Quality Index, which uses standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, had crept above 500, which was supposed to be the top of the scale.
So what phrase is appropriate to describe Saturday’s jaw-dropping reading of 755 at 8 p.m., when all of Beijing looked like an airport smokers’ lounge?
Continue Reading at

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Prosecutor as bully

This was an excrutiatingly painful thing for me to read, but I concur with all those calling for it to be reblogged; it is an important thing to read.

Prosecutor as Bully - reblogged from Lessig Blog, v2:
(Some will say this is not the time. I disagree. This is the time when every mixed emotion needs to find voice.)
Since his arresting the early morning of January 11, 2011 — two years to the day before Aaron Swartz ended his life — I have known more about the events that began this spiral than I have wanted to know. Aaron consulted me as a friend and lawyer that morning. He shared with me what went down and why, and I worked with him to get help. When my obligations to Harvard created a conflict that made it impossible for me to continue as a lawyer, I continued as a friend. Not a good enough friend, no doubt, but nothing was going to draw that friendship into doubt.
The billions of snippets of sadness and bewilderment spinning across the Net confirm who this amazing boy was to all of us. But as I’ve read these aches, there’s one strain I wish we could resist: Please don’t pathologize this storyNo doubt it is a certain crazy that brings a person as loved as Aaron was loved (and he was surrounded in NY by people who loved him) to do what Aaron did. It angers me that he did what he did. But if we’re going to learn from this, we can’t let slide what brought him here.First, of course, Aaron brought Aaron here. As I said when I wrote about the case(when obligations required I say something publicly), if what the government alleged was true — and I say “if” because I am not revealing what Aaron said to me then — then what he did was wrong. And if not legally wrong, then at least morally wrong. The causes that Aaron fought for are my causes too. But as much as I respect those who disagree with me about this, these means are not mine. But all this shows is that if the government proved its case, some punishment was appropriate. So what was that appropriate punishment? Was Aaron a terrorist? Or a cracker trying to profit from stolen goods? Or was this something completely different?Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.Here is where we need a better sense of justice, and shame. For the outrageousness in this story is not just Aaron. It is also the absurdity of the prosecutor’s behavior. From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The “property” Aaron had “stolen,” we were told, was worth “millions of dollars” — with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime. But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash ofACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.Aaron had literally done nothing in his life “to make money.” He was fortunate Reddit turned out as it did, but from his work building the RSS standard, to his work architecting Creative Commons, to his work liberating public records, to his work building a free public library, to his work supporting Change Congress/FixCongressFirst/Rootstrikers, and then Demand Progress, Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good. He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think? That person is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call bullying. I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you.For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.” In that world, the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge.  And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it.Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame.One word, and endless tears. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

China: Innovative Gas-cooled reactor Under construction

A couple of articles demonstrate China's construction of nuclear projects is picking up in intensity.

China Starts $481 Million Nuclear Power Project, Xinhua Says - Bloomberg:
China started construction of a 3 billion yuan ($481 million) nuclear power reactor last month, the Xinhua News Agency reported today, citing the Chinese energy company in charge of the project."
The reactor, which is being built at Shidao Bay in the eastern province of Shandong, will start generating power by the end of 2017 and will have capacity of 200 megawatts, Xinhua said, quoting the operator of the plant, Huaneng Shandong Shidao Bay Nuclear Power Co..
China’s State Council approved a nuclear power safety plan and a development schedule for the industry in October, effectively lifting a ban on new projects in place since an earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in Japan in 2011.
Continue Reading at Bloomberg

Friday, January 4, 2013

Battle Over Wind Subsidy Leaves Industry Bruised

The latest victory of the American Wind Energy Association, securing enormous debt-driven subsidies for another year, may be somewhat hollow in the end.
Another large American utility looks set to follow Exelon in blowing away from AWEA.

Battle Over Wind Subsidy Leaves Industry Bruised
Xcel Energy, which is among the top 10 biggest utilities in the country and had the largest wind capacity of any utility in 2011, is reviewing its membership in American Wind Energy Association largely because of how the trade group handled the tax credit debate. A final decision from the company is expected soon about what, if anything, it plans to do.
"We are in the process of reviewing our relationship with AWEA,” Xcel lobbyist John O’Donnell told NJ. “It's our concern that they continue to represent the interests of developers to the exclusion of customers."
O’Donnell is referring to both individual households and businesses whose electricity bills from utilities are affected by the production tax credit either directly or indirectly. O’Donnell doesn’t think extending the PTC, which is a tax credit that goes to wind-energy developers, benefits customers paying electricity bills or the utilities buying wind from renewable-energy generators. He went so far to say that because Congress extended the PTC without any additional policies to benefit customers, the Minnesota-based Xcel may not buy more wind.
"As the largest provider of wind to customers by far, we feel this action doesn’t do nearly enough for customers, and throws into immediate question any further plans we have to buy more wind on their behalf,” O’Donnell said.
Read the entire article at the National Journal site:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Europe’s dirty secret: The Coal renaissance

The Economist opines that Europe's dirty secret is the growing market share of coal-fired generation.
It's one of a number of dirty secrets; another is much of Europe's reductions in targets based on 1990 emissions came before the reduction targets were set (late in 1997); another that much of the reduction in emissions really came from exporting the manufacturing emissions offshore; and yet another would seem to be exposed in the conclusion to the article in the Economist.
Apparently European energy policies are driving European energy investment out of Europe.

Europe’s dirty secret: The unwelcome renaissance | The Economist:
Faced with such uncertainties, businesses are doing what you would expect: going elsewhere. Jesse Scott, the head of environment policy at EURELECTRIC, an association of electricity producers, asked European energy utilities which also have an international portfolio where they were expecting to invest over the next few years; 85% replied “outside Europe”.
If policies work as intended, electricity from renewables will gradually take a larger share of overall generation, and Europe will end up with a much greener form of energy. But at the moment, EU energy policy is boosting usage of the most polluting fuel, increasing carbon emissions, damaging the creditworthiness of utilities and diverting investment into energy projects elsewhere. The EU’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, likes to claim that in energy and emissions Europe is “leading by example”. Uh-oh.
Europe’s dirty secret: The unwelcome renaissance | The Economist:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

India, Russia to embark on $45 bln nuclear energy roadmap

Reports that Russia has an agreement to construct at least one nuclear reactor a year in India until 2030.

India, Russia to embark on $45 bln nuclear energy roadmap | Russia & India Report:
This can be the mother of all Indo-Russian joint projects and collaborations and this also explains why Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a stand-alone visit to India on December 24, albeit only for 15 hours.
India and Russia agreed to an ambitious roadmap for deepening their cooperation in civilian nuclear energy and construct together 16 to 18 nuclear energy plants in India of 1000 MW each. At today’s prices, the latest nuclear energy roadmap, whose broad contours are yet to be shaped up, could be worth a whopping $45 billion, sources told RIR.
Kudankulam nuclear plants Unit 1 and 2 have cost India slightly above one billion dollars apiece. For the third and fourth units, the Russians have already conveyed to the Indians that the prices would double in the wake of Indian government invoking new nuclear liability regime. Therefore, the proposed “16 to 18” nuclear power plants would be costing about $ 2.5 billion apiece and hence the figure of $45 billion, considering one takes the figure of 18 proposed plants.
India, Russia to embark on $45 bln nuclear energy roadmap | Russia & India Report: