Friday, May 28, 2010

Western Canadian cleantech companies ink deals in China and Iceland

Alter NRG Corp. based out of Calgary has signed a definitive agreement with Wuhan Kaidi Holding Investment Co., Ltd. to construct a demonstration biomass-to-energy facility in China, and it has signed a letter of intent with Wuhan Kaidi for the licensing and development of future biomass power plants serving the Chinese market. The initial facility will process 50 to 100 tons of various biomass materials per day; Alter NRG will receive approximately $1 billion Canadian (about $947,000 U.S.) in orders for plasma torches and engineering services in connection with the facility’s development. The plasma gasification technology was developed by Alter NRG’s subsidiary Westinghouse Plasma Corp. “Kaidi is a respected and leading company that is planning to do multiple projects using our technology in the future, and the initial capital investment into the small-scale facility is a critical step as the Chinese market adopts technology quickly upon successful demonstration within the country,” said Mark Montemurro, Alter NRG’s president and CEO.

Geothermal energy developer Magma Energy Corp. based out of Vancouver has signed an agreement with Iceland’s Geysir Green Energy ehf (GGE) under which Magma will acquire all of GGE’s stake in HS Orka hf, thereby increasing Magma’s stake in HS Orka to 98.53%. HS Orka currently produces 175 MW of geothermal power and 150 MW of thermal energy for district heating in Iceland, and has near-term expansion plans that would increase its power production to 405 MW by 2015. The transaction will increase Magma’s geothermal power production to 186 MW, its geothermal reserves to 193 MW, and its indicated and inferred geothermal resources to 1,161 MW. The remaining 1.5% stake in HS Orka is held by four Icelandic municipalities.

Carbon prices to average $26/ton in U.S. initially

The carbon emissions trading system to be set up under the proposed American Power Act (APA) in the United States would exchange allowances at an average price of $26 USD per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) over the period from 2013 to 2020, according to a preliminary analysis of APA by Point Carbon (Copenhagen, Denmark). APA, a discussion draft of which was introduced in the U.S. Senate on May 12, 2010 would create a hybrid system to curtail greenhouse gases in the United States, with the electric power, industrial, and commercial sectors participating in a cap-and-trade program while the transportation sector—chiefly the petroleum industry—would pay a quarterly fee pegged to market prices for allowances, Point Carbon said. The volume of allowances capped would be 2.5 billion tons of CO2e in 2013 when only the power sector is covered, increasing to approximately 4 billion tons in 2016.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mexico capitalizing on proximity to US

A Spanish wind turbine manufacturer and US wind farm developer are planning a 500 MW wind farm in Mexico to be operational by 2015.

Construction may begin in the next 12 months for the first 100 MW.

The site is c.a. 100 kilometres east of the US city of San Diego in the Baja region of Mexico.

The intent is to sell the power into the US. I anticipate that similar cross-border deals in both Mexico and Canada will come together in order to supply the huge US demand.

Friday, May 14, 2010

SaskPower pursuing 250 MW hydro project in Saskatchewan with First Nations & Brookfield

Below is an excerpt from a Government of Saskatchewan press release dated May 13, 2010:

SaskPower is working with three Saskatchewan First Nations to study the feasibility of developing a renewable energy project on the Saskatchewan River system.

The James Smith Cree Nation, Chakastaypasin Band of the Cree and the Peter Chapman Band - along with their development partners, Brookfield Renewable Power and Peter Kiewit Sons Co. - have reached an agreement with SaskPower to study the feasibility of developing a hydroelectric project that would provide approximately 250 megawatts (MW) of power to the provincial electrical grid. Known as the Pehonan Hydroelectric Project - a Cree word meaning ‘we're waiting by the creek' - the proposed location would be downstream from the forks where the South Saskatchewan River meets the North Saskatchewan River.

"Public-private partnerships provide many benefits to the people of Saskatchewan and our government is pleased with the potential of the Pehonan project," Minister responsible for SaskPower Bill Boyd said. "It allows First Nations like James Smith, Chakastaypasin and Peter Chapman to become active participants in Saskatchewan's growing economy, while leveraging the capital and expertise of development partners like Brookfield and Kiewit."

Under the terms of the agreement, new studies will take place to validate the results of previous site selection assessments. The studies will also determine the feasibility of the project from an environmental and economic perspective. This phase of the project could take up to four years.

Should the project prove to be an economical supply option, the First Nations-private developer partnership would develop the site, build the power plant and enter into a long-term power purchase agreement with SaskPower.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

50 MW run-of-river project moving forward with feasibility study

SaskPower and the Black Lake First Nation signed an agreement to carry out a feasibility study on a 50 MW run-of-river project at Elizabeth Falls near Fond du Lac, Saskatchewan which will allow for environmental and engineering studies to begin in May, 2010.

If the feasibility study indicates the project is viable, the Black Lake First Nation and SaskPower will need to negotiate the terms of a PPA.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Onkalo - Finland's ambitious nuclear waste disposal project

Having lived in Finland for almost 7 years, the nation is near and dear to my heart. I am particularly intrigued with Finland’s nuclear policy and their unwavering quest for energy independence. A new documentary film just released at the Tribeca Film Festival called “Into Eternity” by Michael Madsen highlighted the Finns resolute determination to manage their ambitious nuclear program.

The documentary chronicles a place called Onkalo (Finnish for “hidden”), on an island northwest of Helsinki, in the municipality of Eurajoki near the existing Olkiluoto nuclear facility where Finnish engineers are digging a very large tunnel. Finland has been preparing for final disposal of spent nuclear fuel for almost 25 years. When the Onkalo tunnel is complete 10 years from now, it will include 5 kilometres of access tunnels almost 500 meters down into solid bedrock. Onkalo is planned to last 20 times as long as the pyramids have so far and will include an encapsulation plant and final disposal repository.

Forward-looking legislation enacted in Finland requires nuclear waste generated in Finland to be processed, stored and finally disposed of in Finland. It is a common misconception that Finland “dumps” its nuclear waste in Russia, even though there have been numerous offers from Russian companies to store and dispose of Finnish nuclear waste. Finland intends to develop their own comprehensive energy management solution without the need to rely on any other jurisdiction, particular its Eastern neighbour.

Looking ahead to the future, under the current Finnish Nuclear Energy Act, funds for nuclear waste management are collected in advance in the price of nuclear electricity and paid into the State Nuclear Waste Management Fund to be used to cover the cost of decommissioning of nuclear plants.

The Finns have collaborated with many international organisations on this project, including Ontario Power Generation, and regularly invite researchers, scientists and others to share their experience in this ambitious project.

Finnish engineers are not precluding the possibility that the “waste” will be re-excavated in the future for further processing, but in the interim must be totally secure. Finns do not take safety lightly, and if anyone can come up with a workable solution to nuclear waste disposal, the Finns incredible drive to be self-sufficient just might be what it takes to do it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Legislative policy in Mexico could boost renewable energy development

Proposed legislation in Mexico plans to boost renewable energy generation to 35% of supply by 2024, according to a national energy policy that should be approved by the Mexican congress this year, as Mexico looks to counter its declining oil production.

This is the first articulated renewable energy policy in Mexico. The energy policy is required under the 2008 Energy Reform Bill, which includes provisions to promote and regulate the development of renewable energy in Mexico.

Mexico does not presently offer subsidies or incentives for renewable energy. However, the Mexican state power company (CFE) continues to tender wind projects to independent power producers (IPPs) in 100 MW increments which operate under power purchase agreements (PPAs) with CFE for 20 years. It is anticipated that the new energy policy will help streamline the contracting and permitting process and bring more renewable energy generation online more efficiently.

The energy policy has been reviewed by the Mexican congress. After the energy policy is returned to the energy secretariat with questions, it is expected to be approved before Q3 2010.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Google makes first direct investment of $39 million USD in North Dakota wind farm

Google, the search engine and IT giant, has invested almost $39 million USD in two wind farms in North Dakota, already built by NextEra Energy Resources, reports the New York Times.

In February, 2010 the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Google’s move into the energy market, enabling Google to sell energy, capacity and other services. It is believed that Google Energy intends to act as a power marketer by purchasing electricity and reselling it to wholesale customers.

The New York Times reported that the investment is a “tax equity investment”, allowing Google to earn a return based on the tax credits awarded by the government for renewable energy projects.