Friday, December 23, 2011

What were the 10 most interesting renewable energy projects in 2011?

1. City of Saskatoon utility-scale wind turbine to be built at the landfill - only the third such project in the world to be built on top of municipal solid waste;

2. Deep Earth Energy Corp's 5 MW geothermal project in Southern Saskatchewan - geothermal is so underrated - it's economical, totally clean and provides base-load generation ad infinitum - with only about 9 500 MW of global geothermal generation, this 5 MW project in Saskatchewan is a big one;

3. Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration Project in Southern Saskatchewan - among the first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage facilities in the world;

4. Ridgeline Energy Services greenfill soil remediation project in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan - the facility treats soils impacted by oil and gas development for reuse;

5. Proposed Posio wind farm in Northern Finland - good to see the Finns warming up to the idea of wind energy;

6. 500 MW solar PV project in Namibia - great that Southern Africa is capitalizing on their vast solar PV potential. I've spent time in Namibia and it's a small but progressive, well-managed and beautiful country;

7. Any wind project in China - the Chinese typically do not rely on expertise from outside China and they have built and commissioned an absolutely astounding 41 800 MW of wind. To put this into perspective, the jurisdiction of Saskatchewan generates a total of about 2 600 MW from all sources (mostly coal and gas);

8. Goteborg Energi and GE 4 MW offshore wind turbine in Gothenburg harbour in Sweden - this will make a fabulous city, even better;

9. Stadtwerke München's projects aimed at generating 100% of all energy from their own renewable generation facilities sufficient to power the entire city of Munich;

10. Finavera's wind projects in the Peace River region of British Columbia - kudos to Finavera for bringing First Nations into their wind projects as real partners.

Happy holidays and all the best for 2012 - it is sure to be another big year for renewable energy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How much money was invested in renewable energy globally in 2010?

Global investment in renewable energy was $195 billion USD ($195,000,000,000.00) in 2010 and is expected to more than double to $395 billion USD ($395,000,000,000.00) in 2020. With numbers like that is seems increasing difficult to classify renewable energy as "alternative". There was not a Birkenstock in site at the last industry conference I attended...

Source of figures: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Massive growth in solar PV projected for India

Falling prices of solar PV panels, the growing costs of grid power, increasing government support, ample solar resources, and — most importantly — tremendous demand coming from a surging middle class are creating a “perfect storm” of conditions that are leading to massive growth in India’s solar power market, according to a recent report by GTM Research and Bridge to India. About six times as much capacity as the nation had at the end of 2010 — 54 MW — is expected to be installed in the nation in 2011, and another 1600 MW of capacity with signed power purchase agreements is in the pipeline, the report said. By 2016, India could be installing more than 3000 MW annually in solar PV projects. According to the report, in December, a National Solar Mission auction awarded 27 solar PV projects totalling 350 MW to large and small developers. Bids came in as low as $0.18 USD per kWh, and the average price awarded was $0.21/kWh USD, down 9 cents from a similar auction 13 months ago.

Source: Climate Change Business Journal

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TransCanada buys nine Ontario solar PV projects with combined capacity of 86 MW from Canadian Solar Inc. for $470 million CAD

Calgary, Alberta based TransCanada Corp., a major petroleum pipeline operator and power producer, has expanded its renewable energy business with a deal to buy nine solar PV projects in Ontario for $470 million CAD, the Canadian Press reported early this morning. All nine projects have 20 year power purchase agreements with the Ontario Power Authority.

“The addition of these solar projects allows us to expand and add to our diverse power generating portfolio where a third of the power we own, or have interests in, comes from alternative or renewable energy sources,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said before stock markets opened Tuesday. “Upon close of this acquisition, this low-risk investment is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings and cash flow.”

Under the agreement, each of the nine solar PV projects will be developed and built by Canadian Solar Inc. using their photovoltaic panels. Canadian Solar Inc. is one of the world’s largest solar PV module producers. TransCanada will purchase each project after it begins commercial operation and subject to certain milestones being met.

TransCanada expects the projects will come into service between late 2012 and mid-2013. TransCanada is now the largest independent power producer in Ontario.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) included in United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

One of the items negotiated on the final day of the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Durban was the inclusion of carbon capture and storage as an authorized method for offsetting carbon emissions under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism. The decision is considered as a potential door-opener for developing nations to gain access to financing for CCS projects, according to CCS experts. “The inclusion of CCS in the CDM is a milestone step in recognizing the critical role that CCS can play in reducing emissions and achieving climate change targets,” said Global CCS Institute CEO Brad Page. “It sets an important precedent for the inclusion of CCS into other financing and technology support mechanisms and establishes a benchmark for managing CCS projects in developing countries.” Page added, “this is a critical development, given that many CCS projects in coming decades will have to be in developing countries if we are to meet climate targets, yet until now there had been no ready access to capital for the development of such projects.”

Source: (in part) Climate Change Business Journal

Friday, December 16, 2011

What is the “useful life” of a wind turbine?

A critical part of any wind energy project is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which is a contract between a developer and a utility for the purchase and sale of the electricity generated by a wind turbine. The PPA generally has a term between 20 and 30 years. A PPA from an established utility is generally considered “bankable” meaning that professional advisors such as bankers, accountants and lawyers have analysed the risk and agreed to provide or structure financing for the wind project based on a “useful life” of 20 to 30 years. Lease agreements with landowners may have provisions providing for a lease of 20 to 30 years with additional 5 year options to renew. Some developers take the view that the “useful life” of a wind turbine may be indefinite if properly operated, maintained and refurbished. When drafting contracts and agreements given that most PPAs are for 25 years I use this as a guideline for the “useful life” of a wind turbine.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Land acquired for utility-scale wind farm in Northern Finland

The Finnish daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat reported last week that the Finnish municipality of Posio signed a lease agreement for a large wind farm project in Northern Finland.

Details are scant at the moment but it seems that the proposed wind farm will be located 35 kilometres from the city of Rovaniemi. According to the municipality of Posio they have acquired enough land to construct 30 to 40 utility-scale wind turbines. The total investment required is between 140 - 180 million EUR.

The municipality intends to start pre-feasibility assessments in the near future.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SaskPower budgets $5 billion CAD in Power Purchase Agreements in the next 10 years to meet demand in Saskatchewan

"SaskPower, over the next 10 years, has huge growth that is required to keep up with the economy," SaskPower CEO Robert Watson told an audience at a luncheon put on by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

Mr. Watson said the province needs to add one third to one half more power production in the next 10 years. To do that, SaskPower plans to spend $10 billion dollars on their own generation plus another $5 billion in power purchase agreements.

"We don't plan on growing this business with more employees at SaskPower," he said. "We plan on using partners."

Mr. Watson cited agreements such as a recent deal with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council to buy power from their biomass facility as a prime example of what can be done in the future.

"SaskPower cannot be the way we were in the past," Mr. Watson said, adding they are in the process of building a comprehensive aboriginal plan.

"It is a direct focus of my office to have a better relationship with the aboriginal communities in this province. We want to work with (First Nations) closer," Mr. Watson said, "particularly, projects in their territories or traditional lands."

Mr. Watson said SaskPower is looking to take a balanced approach in generating power through a number of means - coal, hydro, natural gas, wind, solar, cogeneration, biomass and possibly even nuclear.

"We are looking at the possibility of nuclear, but we are just now opening the file on that," Watson said. "It will take us three to five years to even come forward with a recommendation."

Source: (in part) The StarPhoneix, November 30, 2011 edition

Friday, December 9, 2011

Finnish energy company, Fortum entering solar PV market

The Finnish daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat reported this week that Finnish energy giant, Fortum has announced plans to enter the solar PV market.

"Solar energy technologies are evolving rapidly, and the use of solar energy in sunny countries is already cost-effective for small-scale solutions," says the company's community relations and sustainable development director Anne Brunila.

It is expected additional details will be forthcoming from Fortum in the future. Fortum may enter the manufacturing space or as a project developer. It is more likely that Fortum will enter the manufacturing space as Fortum is currently in a partnership with the Tampere University of Technology in Finland, developing high-efficiency solar cells that can achieve an efficiency of more than 40% by concentrating sunlight. In conjunction with Aalto University in Finland, Fortum is also developing new kinds of roof materials for solar thermal collectors and solar electricity panels.

Fortum's operations focus on the Nordic countries, Russia, Poland and Baltic
Rim area. In 2010, Fortum’s sales totalled EUR 6.3 billion and comparable operating profit was EUR 1.8 billion. Fortum employs approximately 10 500 people and their shares are quoted on NASDAQ OMX Helsinki.

Fortum has currently a few land-based wind power projects in the planning stage in Finland and Sweden. In Finland, there are six projects: Bergö (15 MW), Kuolavaara-Keulak-kopää (54 MW), Kalajoki (60 MW), Joukhaisselkä (60 MW), Ii (24 MW) and Loviisa (approximately 10 MW). In Sweden, Fortum is participating in two wind power projects: Blaiken and Orsa. The 250 MW Blaiken project, being planned together with the Swedish Skellefteå Kraft, is becoming one of the largest land-based wind farms in Europe. Fortum’s current wind power capacity of approximately 3 MW originates from associated companies in Finland, mainly from Tunturituuli Oy (55%). Fortum also owns a quarter of the one megawatt wind power station in Olkiluoto and 16% of Ab Öskata Vind Närpes - Öskatan Tuuli Närpiö Oy.

Fortum also owns significant hydro and nuclear assets.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

South Africa approves 28 bidders for 1416 MW renewable energy tender – 3725 MW/$12 billion USD procurement process on track

South Africa approved 28 bidders for a renewable energy tender with projects totaling 1416 megawatts. The approved bidders have until the end of June, 2012 to confirm financing, with construction to begin shortly thereafter, the Energy Department of South Africa stated.

Of the projects selected, 632 MW were for solar photovoltaic projects; 150 MW, for concentrated solar power; and 634 MW, for wind developments.

The department is holding five tenders to allocate 3725 megawatts valued around $12 billion USD over the next two years. In the first round of bidding, the department received 53 bids for a total of 2128 megawatts in projects. It selected 28 out of the 53. It now has 2209 megawatts that companies can bid for in the remaining tenders.

Vestas is involved in two of the bidding groups selected, representing 138 megawatts, as is South African solar company Momentous Energy, which will obtain some of the products from Chinese companies.

One of China's top wind turbine producers, Sinovel Wind Co., also was selected, with one of the larger bids, a person close to the matter said.

About 90% of South Africa's electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. By 2030, the country aims to lift renewable sources to 8% of the energy mix, up from less than 1% now.

In addition to development in the private sector, state-owned power company Eskom Holdings Ltd. is also raising money to develop its own wind and solar projects. Eskom last month signed a $250 million USD loan agreement with the World Bank to build 200 megawatts of their own solar and wind projects. The company also is in talks with the European Investment Bank to obtain €50 million, or about $70 million, for building solar PV projects.

The South African government on Wednesday also said it will create the South African Renewable Initiative. Working with the European Investment Bank, the government plans to raise financing internationally to be used on renewable energy projects. Germany said it intends to support the fund.

Source: (in part) Wall Street Journal – December 7, 2011 edition

Ridgeline Energy Services commissions first approved greenfill soil remediation facility in Saskatchewan

Ridgeline Energy Services Inc. announced in a company Press Release that they have commissioned a new greenfill treatment facility in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Canada. There are many such sites in the Canadian province of Alberta but the new facility in Lloydminster is the first such facility approved by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment for the management, treatment and reuse of oilfield waste. The new facility will be used to categorize, treat and reuse impacted soils for landfill cover and other uses. Ridgeline's proprietary technology utilizes biological, mechanical and chemical means to safely break down hydrocarbons into CO2 and water, enabling once contaminated soil to be reused in landfill operations or other applications.

Tony Ker, CEO of Ridgeline Energy Services, commented, "Ridgeline Greenfill Inc. was profitable in our fiscal 2011 year, its first year of commercial operation. We expect these sites will provide a consistent and growing source of revenue as further sites are constructed. Each facility will be capable of generating up to $1,200,000 [CAD] in revenue per year. "

Who says being environmentally friendly can’t be profitable?

It is expected Ridgeline and others will be constructing similar facilities in South East Saskatchewan in the Bakken in the near future.

Source: (in part) Ridgeline Energy Services Inc. Press Release

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Facts" about wind energy

I just wanted to take this opportunity to address some of the “facts” presented by the Saskatoon Wind Turbine Association in regard to the proposed wind turbine at the landfill. Many of these "facts" are common misconceptions.

$5 million of your tax dollars (local, provincial, federal) are being spent on the Saskatoon Wind Turbine.

If we look at this from the point of view of environmental remediation this is a good deal for taxpayers. The turbine is being placed on a 35 meter high pile of garbage generated from residents of the City of Saskatoon which cannot be used for much other than as a source of garbage to be blown into Montgomery. I would estimate that the costs to remediate this land for something other than a renewable energy project would be 4 or 5 times the costs of the turbine. The US agrees – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have jointly announced plans to evaluate the feasibility of siting solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal facilities on 26 Superfund sites and former landfill and mining sites citing one of the reasons being that it is much cheaper to build renewable energy projects on environmentally compromised land than remediate the land for other industrial, commercial or residential use.

Saskatchewan Resource Council classified the Saskatoon Tall Wind Turbine project as “marginal”.

I have never heard of the “Saskatchewan Resource Council” but the Saskatchewan Research Council classified the wind resource, not the project, as marginal.

The landfill location is rated as a 2 (second worst rating on a scale of 1 to 7).

The report noted that the power density at 50 meters is 202 W/m2 which puts the site in a wind power class of 2 (marginal). “Marginal” in this case means that development of a utility-scale is possible and in fact thousands of megawatts of wind energy have been built in class 2 wind resource areas. The report goes on to state that turbine output projections indicate that net capacity factors of 25% to 30%, or more, could be expected with the selection of the right turbine. Typical net capacity factors for existing wind farms range from 20% to 40%.

Saskatoon Light and Power has promised that this project will pay for itself in five years. Other installations across the world have demonstrated that this is only possible by raising your rates of electricity.

Rates for electricity are going up in any case largely based on increasing demand, aging infrastructure and climate change regulation not on expenses from investments in renewable energy generation.

The proposed wind turbine is only 780m from citizens while in Victoria, Australia wind turbines cannot be built within 5KM of a municipality. Why are they doing that and we are not?

As of August 2011 the Victorian Government was planning on putting rules in place enforcing a minimum 2 km distance between large utility-scale wind turbines and residences. This may or may not be legislated in Victoria.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Renewable energy subsidy increase can support an additional 70 000 MW of wind in China

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced this week that the Chinese government would increase the surcharge on power sales from December 1, 2011 to 0.008 yuan per kilowatt hour from 0.004 yuan per kwh.

"A doubling of the renewable energy surcharge should benefit mostly wind," said Yuanta Securities renewable energy analyst Min Li. "Assuming half of the funding is used, we estimate the doubled surcharge can support at least 70 gigawatts of wind power capacity in the near term."

The markets reacted favourably to the announcement as China's top wind turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group Co Ltd was up nearly 5% by midday trading on Thursday, while Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co Ltd and Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Co Ltd each gained more than 3%. Chinese solar companies listed in Hong Kong and New York also gained ground. Wafer and polysilicon maker GCL Poly Energy Holdings Ltd gained 8% in Hong Kong, while Solargiga Energy Holdings Ltd was up 6% and Comtec Solar Systems Group Ltd was up 6.7% against a 5.85% surge in the Hang Seng Index. U.S.-listed Chinese solar panel makers Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd, Trina Solar Ltd and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd soared more than 10% on Wednesday.

Grid feed-in tariffs for renewable energy sources including solar and wind power are higher than rates for coal-fired power, China's main electricity source. Wind power is the more established source of clean energy in China, next to hydro. With China aiming to increase the proportion of non-fossil fuels to 15% of the total energy mix by 2020, the subsidy consumers paid in their electricity bills was expected to rise, analysts said. China passed a renewable energy law in 2006, similar to a European-style FIT, requiring utilities to buy all the power generated by renewable energy projects. The regulations also allow the utility to collect additional fees when they sell the power.

The move to raise the charges had increased the certainty that development of renewable energy projects would continue in the medium term, said CIMB Research analyst Keith Li.

"This is not going to increase the premium paid to renewable energy projects, although it will double the pool of money used to support clean energy," he said.

The NDRC said revenue from the existing surcharge was not enough to cover the premium power grid operators pay for electricity bought from renewable power developers.

Source: (in part) Reuters

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Goteborg Energi and GE start construction of 4 MW offshore wind turbine in Gothenburg harbour in Sweden

Goteborg Energi and GE have started construction on the first GE 4.1-113 offshore turbine in the Gothenburg, Sweden harbour, the two companies announced at the European Wind Energy Association's (EWEA) Offshore 2011 conference in Amsterdam.

"We are delighted that after two years of planning and coordinating, everything is coming together. The wind turbine could not be placed any better: while it is located onshore, which makes it easily accessible, it is right at the water front and exposed to offshore weather conditions. For the people of Gothenburg, this project is a milestone in achieving our goal to produce more green energy for the city and the country," said Jonas Cognell, director of Renewable Electricity at Goteborg Energi.

The turbine is located in Risholmsvagen, an area located at the harbour entrance and the door to Sweden, well-situated from a logistical point of view. The nacelle, tower and blades will arrive by boat. The installation is planned to be finished by mid-December. The foundation, with a 21 meter diameter, is pile-driven into the rock. Completion of the installation and connection to the grid is planned for the end of this year.

"We are very proud to help Sweden in promoting green energy with the installation of our first 4.1-113 wind turbine in the harbour of Gothenburg," said Vincent Schellings, Offshore Product Leader for GE Energy. "The successful project is due to great teamwork with Goteborg Energi and Chalmers University as key partner. The 4.1-113 offshore turbine features one of the industry's most mature offshore direct-drive designs, and builds on our onshore experience with over 17,000 units operating globally."

Source: Business Wire Press Release dated November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NewsTalk 650 online poll shows overwhelming support for landfill wind turbine project in Saskatoon

I noticed that NewsTalk 650, a local talk radio station in Saskatoon, Canada conducted an online poll yesterday morning asking if the proposed wind turbine at the City of Saskatoon landfill should proceed. This project will be one of only a few large-scale projects in the world to reclaim a significant area of municipal solid waste to generate clean electricity from the wind. As I watched the results of the poll yesterday morning, the numbers in support were quickly increasing and were at 65% when the survey was unexpectedly pulled off the website at around noon.

Contrary to what well-known Saskatchewan political commentator John Gormley may say, those of the conservative persuasion likely to be listening to NewsTalk 650, seem to overwhelmingly support the wind turbine at the landfill. There is clearly broad non-partisan support for renewable energy in Saskatoon and the people of Saskatchewan should be wary about others telling them otherwise in order to increase the number of listeners to their radio station.

Last week Statistics Canada released a report concluding that for the first time ever, Saskatchewan passed Ontario in average weekly earnings. Instead of blindly following Ontario and politicizing renewable energy as happened in the recent Ontario provincial election, let's take a leadership role in developing our energy resources. There is broad non-partisan consensus in Saskatchewan that we should develop our energy resources, whether wind, coal, oil, natural gas or uranium. Leadership means building on consensus and doing what is best for the people of Saskatchewan - the wind turbine project at the landfill is a critical first step in taking that leadership role.

Battle of the uranium titans – Cameco drops bid for Hathor – opens door for Rio Tinto to enter the Athabasca basin in Northern Saskatchewan

Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp. has dropped its bid to take over Hathor Exploration Ltd., leaving mining giant Rio Tinto to acquire the junior mining company. Cameco and Rio Tinto had been in a bidding war for Hathor, which controls the uranium-rich Roughrider deposit in Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin, since Cameco made a hostile bid for the company in August. Both companies upped their offers for Hathor, with Rio offering $654 million, or $4.70 a share, on November 17, 2011. Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel said Rio's offer was too steep to counter.

"We've been working on this project for many months," Gitzel said. "When we went into it, we set certain parameters. We wanted to remain disciplined throughout the process ... Having to top ($4.70) would have gone outside our parameters and that is why we decided to withdraw."

The Roughrider deposit has a current resource of about 58 million pounds of uranium, but it is expected to grow through more drilling. For Rio Tinto, it will be the company's first endeavour into the Athabasca Basin.

Gitzel said Cameco is still committed to doubling its production to 40 million pounds by 2018 from 20 million pounds today.

"We still have our 'Double U' strategy, as we call it, firmly in place," Gitzel said. "We have a lot of work to do in Saskatchewan and around the world to achieve our 40-million pound production goal by 2018."

He said Cameco has a number of other projects that will help it meet its goal.

"The jewel is right here in Saskatchewan, our Cigar Lake mine, that we have been working on for many years now," Gitzel said. "We anticipate first production in mid-2013. That mine, once at full production, will produce 18 millions pounds per year. Probably next to McArthur River, which is also our project in Saskatchewan, it will be the second largest mine in the world."

The bidding war for Hathor also shows there is strong interest in the sector, he said.

"I think the interest shown by Rio, Cameco and other companies shows there is a strong future for uranium. We know that energy needs in the world continue to increase rapidly and we know that nuclear power is going to play an important role in that."

Gitzel estimates there will be 93 net new reactors in the world by 2020.

"That's to add to the 430 that exist today," he said. "Those will all need new uranium and that's why we are so aggressive with our 'Double U' strategy to double our production from 20 million pounds from where we are today to 40 million pounds so that we can supply that new demand."

Source: Star Phoneix November 29, 2011 edition, Scott Larson

Northland Power inks Master Module Supply Agreement to purchase Ontario-made solar PV panels from MEMC

Northland Power Inc. announced that it has signed a Master Module Supply Agreement with MEMC Singapore Pte. Ltd, an affiliate of MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. to purchase solar PV modules that will be manufactured in Newmarket, Ontario for its 130 MW Ontario solar portfolio. The modules will be used as part of an approximately $600 million CAD investment by Northland to build ground-mounted solar projects in Ontario, representing one of the largest investments in Ontario's solar PV sector.

Earlier this year, MEMC began manufacturing solar PV panels in Ontario for SunEdison, its solar energy subsidiary, in order to help the company meet the 60% domestic content requirements of the Ontario FIT program. In July 2011, MEMC announced the expansion of production with its manufacturing partner, Flextronics.

Northland operates over 1,000 MW of diversified generation, and is actively developing renewable and thermal projects across Canada. Northland's operating thermal power assets include, among others, the 86 MW Spy Hill peaking facility in Saskatchewan as well as 260 MW North Battleford project which is currently under construction in Saskatchewan.

Monday, November 28, 2011

US streamlines approvals for First Nations renewable energy projects

The U.S. Interior Department plans to require the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve leases for renewable energy projects on land held by American Indians unless the bureau can show why the proposals should be rejected within two months. Under the proposed rules, the bureau would have to approve leases unless it finds a “compelling reason” not to do so, the department said today in a statement. The bureau would have 60 days to evaluate industrial development and renewable-energy projects, and 30 days to consider residential leases.

The rules would apply to leases for solar projects, wind farms, commercial development and residential use on 56 million acres of American Indian lands, about the size of the state of Utah, the Interior Department said. They don’t cover leases for oil, natural gas, mining or other sub-surface development projects. “The proposed changes are the most comprehensive reforms of Indian land leasing regulations in more than 50 years,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in the statement.

The changes are intended to “streamline” the lease- approval process, which has no deadlines and can drag on for years, the Interior Department said.

Source: Bloomberg

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Canadian miners using renewable energy to cut energy costs at mines – Barrick, Rio Tinto & Teck leading the way

Mining companies use huge amounts of energy to build and operate a mine. Energy represents about 25% of production costs for mines and many mining companies are making huge long-term investments in wind, solar and other renewable energy projects to cut expenses and clean up their operations. Companies such as Barrick Gold Corp., Teck Resources Ltd. and Rio Tinto PLC have ambitious wind-farm projects under way at their mining sites that will reduce energy costs and provide the much-needed social benefit of showing the communities where they work that progress is being made to reduce their environmental footprint.

Barrick Gold Corp, the world’s largest gold miner, is pushing ahead with alternative energy projects and has just commissioned its $70 million CAD Punta Colorada wind operation, the first wind farm built by a mining company in Chile. The site has 10 turbines generating 20 MW, with capacity to expand to 18 turbines and produce 36 MW. The operation connects to a power substation that supplies energy to Chile’s national power grid. Barrick is credited for the power it contributes to the system. Barrick also has a $8.5 million CAD wind turbine in Argentina that provides up to 20% of electricity needs for its Veladero mine. The wind projects come alongside smaller solar and biodiesel projects Barrick is working on.

Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. just announced this month that it will construct a wind farm at the site of its Diavik Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories, said to be the largest wind farm at an operating mine when the turbines start up later next year. It will be the first large-scale wind farm in the Northwest Territories in Northern Canada and special technology was created to allow the wind farm to operate in –40 C temperatures on the site on East Island at Lac de Gras. Diavik, which is owned by Rio Tinto and Harry Winston Diamond Corp., said it will build four 2.3 MW turbines with a capacity of 9.2 MW. The mine currently relies on diesel fuel, and the wind farm is expected to reduce that consumption by 10%. The wind farm will cost up to $30 million CAD to build, but is expected to save the company about $5 million CAD in diesel costs each year, according to Corey McLachlan, Diavik’s superintendent of government and external relations.

Teck, Canada’s largest diversified mining company, made its first investment in wind energy last year by partnering with Suncor in the Wintering Hills development, an 88 MW wind project with 55 turbines near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. Operations are set to begin in January, 2012. Teck’s share of the energy generated represents more than 1.5 times the annual power consumption at its Cardinal River coal operations in Alberta, according to the company’s latest sustainability report. Teck will also receive carbon credits to offset emissions from the mine under the emissions offsets program in place in Alberta. Saskatchewan also has emissions offset trading legislation similar to that in Alberta which the government can bring into effect anytime. It is clear from the Teck project in Alberta, this is an important regulatory piece of the puzzle to allow miners to both cut their costs and generate clean energy to power their mines. I’m hopeful the government in Saskatchewan will understand this and implement the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Act in the near future.

According to the Government of Saskatchewan there are currently 38 operating mines in Saskatchewan, none of which have yet undertaken renewable energy projects to cut their production costs. There are another 10 large mining projects under development in the province, including the BHP Billiton Jansen project which will be the world’s largest potash mine. BHP Billiton has said informally they have plans for another 4 or 5 potash mines in the province. Claude Resources is also working on developing a large gold mine in North-East Saskatchewan near the city of Flin Flon, Manitoba. As the price of building renewable energy drops and energy costs increase, mining companies are now realizing that they can save considerable amounts of money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce their environmental footprint in local communities by building renewable generation at their mine sites. The additional generation will also be welcome by SaskPower, the provincial utility in Saskatchewan, where demand is rapidly increasing. I am not a mining executive (though that would not be a bad gig) but it seems like an obvious win-win-win situation for the mining company, local communities and the utility. Given the increasing strength of the mining industry in Saskatchewan, I am looking forward to seeing which mining company is the first to develop a renewable energy project at their mine site in the province.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

U of S leading the way in next generation solar PV cells

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada are working to develop more efficient and cheaper photovoltaic (PV) solar cells that could help solve global energy problems.

Chemistry Professor and researcher Ron Steer thinks he has found a way to turn traditionally brittle and inefficient organic cells into robust, sturdy sources of energy.

“We have proof of our principle that indicates we can make a more affordable and reliable cell, but how efficient will the cells be compared to ones that already exist, that’s the part we’re hoping to succeed with. If we can achieve even the slightest increase, even one or two per cent efficiency of these cells, it could be beneficial to everyone.”

Making the cells more efficient is a matter of converting the spectrum of light.

“Essentially, if you take blue light in the visible part of the spectrum, this works well in solar cells. If you take infrared, this does not work well. So, what we’ve discovered is a way to convert the infrared light into blue light.”

His work is taking place in the southern part of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan where more hours of sunlight are available than anywhere else on the planet. Along with parts of southern Alberta, these regions receive around 2,500 hours of bright sunshine per year, or about 1361 KwH.

The next steps in the process will be creating cells and testing the research principles. If the cells work, it could revitalize the solar PV industry and turn the sunniest place on the planet into a working grid of solar energy.

Source: University of Saskatchewan Press Release. To find out more about Professor Steer's research into organic solar cells, contact Mark Ferguson at the University of Saskatchewan at + 1 306 966 1851 or

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cameco continues battle with Rio Tinto for Hathor’s uranium deposit in Northern Saskatchewan: How far will Cameco go to keep Rio Tinto out?

Saskatoon-based Cameco is the world’s largest uranium producer and is bidding for control of junior uranium miner Hathor’s Roughrider deposit in northern Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Rio Tinto is the world’s third-largest mining company and if successful in their bid for Hathor are expected to follow other mining giants like BHP Billiton and open up shop soon in Saskatoon. The bidding war is playing out as developing nations from China to India turn to nuclear power to meet energy demands in the world’s fastest-growing economies. China has 14 reactors, 27 under construction and 51 more planned, according to the World Nuclear Association’s website. India has six under construction and 17 planned, while Russia has 10 being built and 14 more in the pipeline.

“This is like two bullies in a parking lot and guessing when they are going to stop fighting,” Barry Allan, senior mining analyst at Mackie Research, said in a telephone interview for Bloomberg. “The chances of Cameco coming back with another offer are pretty high. It’s become less about value and more about strategic significance. The world has recognized it’s very difficult to live without nuclear energy.”

After the epic failed bid by BHP Billiton bid for Saskatoon-based PotashCorp in summer 2011, Saskatchewan and the city of Saskatoon in particular, have been the parking lot of choice for mining giants to duke it out over the future of the vast natural resources in Canada. Newly appointed Cameco CEO, Tim Gitzel who, like myself, recently relocated back home to Saskatchewan after living and working in Europe for many years has his work cut out for him. My feeling is that in typical prairie fashion, Mr. Gitzel will skilfully and respectfully put together a joint bid by Cameco and Rio Tinto so that Rio Tinto can take advantage of Cameco’s experience with Saskatchewan’s geology and Cameco can prolong the profitability of its nearby mill.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Is the credit worthy test for renewable energy procurement in Ontario, worthy? Why the OPA should look to Saskatchewan for guidance

I attended the APPrO 2011, annual Canadian power conference this week in Toronto put on by the Association of Power Producers of Ontario. I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Stephen Somerville of Competitive Power Ventures entitled “Analysis of the rated criteria used for project assessment in procurement”. Mr. Somerville raised an interesting point about the Ontario procurement process versus the Saskatchewan procurement process. In Ontario, power procurement RFP’s use a credit worthy test which requires additional commitment letters and other documentation from proponents using private equity to finance the project. This has the unintended effect of discriminating against IPPs which are primarily funded through private equity. On the other hand, the current SaskPower RFP for 175 MW of wind does not include a credit worthy test which discriminates against IPPs using private equity. Mr. Somerville went on to state that the credit worthy test used in Ontario is not a good indicator of near term future performance as no one knows what the economic position of the corporate entity will be three years in the future. The SaskPower RFP for 175 MW for the most part avoids forecasting into the future to establish credit-worthiness and instead requires existing financial data. Mr. Somerville concluded that project level security should be enough – which, in some procurement processes, I would agree with. The US will qualify respondents based on demonstrated funding experience and don’t even include a specific credit worthy test in many renewable energy RFPs. Maybe it would be beneficial for the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to take a few notes from other jurisdictions like Saskatchewan in regard to the credit worthiness provisions of competitive renewable energy procurement RFPs?

Monday, November 14, 2011

US to site renewable energy projects at landfills - City of Saskatoon leading the way

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have jointly announced plans to evaluate the feasibility of siting solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal facilities on 26 Superfund sites and former landfill and mining sites. The EPA is providing $1 million USD in technical assistance to conduct the feasibility studies at the sites, according to Lura Matthews, who heads the agency’s "RE-Powering America’s Land" project. "Owners of the sites are mixed; a lot of them are municipal governments, and some are privately owned," Matthews told the audience at the PV Power Generation Mid-West & East conference in New York City during the week of November 7, 2011. The sites, which are in various stages of assessment or cleanup, do not need to be completely remediated before renewable energy development can begin on them, she added. "If they are cleaning groundwater on the site, for example, there may still be part of the site where you can put solar panels."

Saskatoon Light & Power issued an RFP on November 8, 2011 for a utility-scale 2 MW wind turbine at the municipal landfill in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada as part of the new Green Energy Park. The RFP closes December 8, 2011. The site will be only the third in the world to construct a utility scale wind turbine with a floating foundation on top of municipal solid waste - the other two projects are in Boston and Germany.

Source: (in part) Climate Change Business Bulletin

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Canada at the centre of global energy disputes

Given the increasing importance of both conventional and renewable energy, global competition is intensifying and Canada seems to be at the centre of many of the disputes unfolding.

1. Canada v. the EU - The oilsands

An EU proposal that would discourage use of oil from tar sands by classifying it as dirtier than other types of oil has angered Ottawa and could result in a case at the WTO. Canada argues that oil sands crude is no dirtier than oil from Russia and Nigeria, which would be treated more favorably under the EU's green fuel law.

2. Canada v. the US - XL pipeline

Oilsand are also at the center of an environmental decision now facing the Obama administration in the US. TransCanada Corp. hopes to build the proposed $7 billion USD Keystone XL pipeline to bring crude from oil sands in Alberta (and at some point Saskatchewan) to Texas refineries. Although technically not a dispute, its outcome would have a profound effect on US-Canada relations in the energy sector.

3. Canada v. EU and Japan - Local green energy subsidies

Both Brussels and Tokyo have challenged the domestic content requirements of the FIT program in Ontario. The EU and Japan claim such domestic content requirements are prohibited under WTO rules.

4. Canada (+ 25 other nations) v. EU - Carbon emissions permits

A European Union plan aimed at curbing carbon emissions by requiring airlines to buy pollution permits to offset greenhouse gas emissions from their planes has run into strong opposition from the United States, China, Canada and about two dozen other countries.

Friday, November 4, 2011

500 MW solar PV plant proposed in Namibia

Regular readers of this blog will now that I have followed Namibia closely noting the considerable untapped opportunities for renewable energy development in the Southern African country. and Climate Change Business Journal just reported the following:

SSI Energy Solutions (SSIES) out of Washington, D.C. has announced that they have reached an agreement with the government of Namibia to build a 500 MW solar PV power plant near the capital city of Windhoek. SSIES, which is currently seeking an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the project, is exploring the possibility of expanding the facility’s capacity to 1 gigawatt (GW) and adding wind power capacity as well. According to SSIES, the construction costs for the initial 500 MW will range from $1.6 billion USD to $2 billion USD.

I have experience working in Namibia and assisted a client to draft and execute contracts to acquire 6155 hectares of land suitable for wind or solar PV development in the country. The development opportunities in Namibia for wind or solar PV developers, solar PV EPC contractors and suppliers is clear and will be accelerated by this new 500 MW solar PV project.

Clean coal in Canada – a look at the Goldsource and ZEEP project in North-Eastern Saskatchewan

The province of Saskatchewan has some of the best wind, solar, biomass and geothermal resources in Canada but Saskatchewan also has a significant coal resource. Goldsource Mines Inc. (Goldsource) has been developing the thermal coal resources in North-Eastern Saskatchewan near the town of Hudson Bay and has a 79.1 million tonnes indicated, 34.9 million tonnes inferred and 61.1 million tonnes speculative resource. The coal is well-suited to thermal generation of electricity but the very significant greenhouse gases (GHG) generated from thermal coal has significantly limited the demand for such coal. The federal government in Canada has also restricted any new coal electrical generation facilities in the country. There are some very limited opportunities for export abroad but countries like China and India, where demand for generation is increasing significantly, are firmly focused on renewable energy generation – not coal fired thermal generation which they are also shutting down.

Challenges with monetizing the value of coal assets

Goldsource clearly has a significant coal resource in Saskatchewan but in order to monetize the asset requires a method to manage or eliminate the GHGs generated – enter Zero Emission Energy Plants Ltd. (ZEEP). ZEEP commercializes and deploys gasification technologies to use coal or biomass to generate synthetic gas which can be converted to various end products, including electricity, with minimal or zero GHG emissions. Goldsource and ZEEP have proposed an arrangement whereby Goldsource becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of ZEEP. It appears Goldsource has found a suitable dance partner.

What are Goldsource and ZEEP up to in North-East Saskatchewan?

I suspect Goldsource and ZEEP have short-term plans to develop the coal resource, mid-term plans to develop a mine and long-term plans to finance, build and operate a large-scale clean energy facility in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is a vast and largely unpopulated province and a very mining-friendly jurisdiction with clearly articulated regulations and a long history of successfully developing mining projects with developers. Goldsource and ZEEP could develop an on-site coal to liquids facility or a clean coal electrical generation facility.

What are some of the challenges Goldsource and ZEEP are facing?

1. Push-back from the public. There will be push-back from the public in developing a new coal mine in the province which will make securing the necessary provincial government permits and approvals more difficult. When Goldsource and ZEEP sit down with the provincial government, they may need to negotiate and execute an agreement whereby Goldsource and ZEEP represent and warrant that any coal extracted from the mine will not contribute to GHG emissions in Saskatchewan. Depending on the push-back from the public, Goldsource and ZEEP may have to broaden this to Canada or possibly agree to a complete limitation on any GHG emissions from the coal extracted.

2. “proven project”. To agree to such representation and warranty regarding limitation of GHGs, it will be necessary to have “proven technology” which it seems ZEEP has, but ZEEP has not yet completed development of any similar large-scale gasification plants – the first would be in Saskatchewan. Securing financing for an unproven project which will require very significant amounts of capital may be difficult.

3. Location. This part of North-Eastern Saskatchewan North of Hudson Bay until the Carrot River Valley at The Pas, Manitoba is largely pristine, undeveloped boreal forest and there will be some opposition from the public and First Nations to developing a coal mine here. In addition, the provincial government is planning a new provincial park in North-East Saskatchewan which may also pose some challenges. That being said, assuming the aforementioned challenges can be surmounted, my view is that the location is very suitable as it is near a major highway, railway and service community.

4. First Nation Participation. There does not appear to be planning for or active First Nation participation or involvement in this project which will be a very significant challenge. The Red Earth First Nation and Shoal Lake Cree Nation are both located in close proximity to this project.

5. Power Purchase Agreement. If the aim is to generate electricity, this project is contingent on getting a PPA from SaskPower (the monopoly utility in Saskatchewan).

The Goldsource/ZEEP clean coal project is certainly one of many interesting clean energy projects in Saskatchewan. I am optimistic that Goldsource and ZEEP can overcome these, and the inevitable host of other, challenges which will arise and get this project built.

Goldsource announced this morning that they will extend the closing date of the business combination of Goldsource and ZEEP to December 31, 2011.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

California adopts cap-and-trade program – $10 billion USD in market anticipated by 2016 – Pressure mounts on Saskatchewan to comply

The US state of California has formally adopted a comprehensive cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. After a hearing on October 21, 2011 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) unanimously approved the final draft of the plan as a central element of California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, a measure that mandates reductions of GHG emission the state to 1990 levels by 2020. The cap-and-trade system targets sources accounting for approximately 85% of annual GHG emissions, with electric power plants and other heavy emitters required to begin compliance in 2013 and other sources scheduled to begin compliance in 2015. California's carbon market is expected to reach $10 billion USD in value by 2016, according to CARB, which will manage the market and hire an auction host and market monitors.

The California cap-and-trade program is working closely with six other western US states and British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec through the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) to roll out a regional program. Saskatchewan is not a “partner” in the WCI but is an “observer” and has expressed some reservations (along with Alberta) regarding a cap-and-trade system. Notwithstanding, Saskatchewan has a provincial offset trading system ready to implement. The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Act has already passed third reading in the Saskatchewan provincial legislature in May 2010 and can receive Royal Assent and enter into force anytime. It is anticipated that the adoption of the wide-reaching and comprehensive California cap-and-trade program will put increasing pressure on Saskatchewan to implement an emissions trading system in the province in the near future.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Could independence for Scotland hinder the push toward renewable energy? Valuable lessons from the Canadian Province of Québec

The BBC is reporting that a recent report by Citigroup concluded that a proposed referendum on independence in Scotland would "create huge uncertainty" over investment in renewable energy in Scotland at precisely the moment when big investment decisions on renewable energy projects will need to be taken. The report takes the position that an independent Scotland would have too small a consumer base to generate the annual subsidy of 4 billion GBP, which they believe would be needed to support a hugely increased reliance on renewable energy. The Citigroup report goes on to state that "continued subsidy from consumers in England and Wales would be required, but Scotland seceding from the UK would clearly place this subsidy stream at grave risk. Renewable investors risk seeing their assets stranded in a newly independent Scotland." The Citigroup report concluded that "utilities and other investors should exercise extreme caution in committing further capital to Scotland." Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond dismissed concerns in the report and noted that much of the renewable energy produced in Scotland would be for export and would help "keep the lights on" in England.

There are many parallels between the Canadian province of Québec and Scotland: both have had or are considering referendums on independence; both are undertaking or proposing very considerable investments in renewable energy; both lack the domestic consumer base to utilize the generation; and both currently or propose to export most of the generation to a much larger neighbouring jurisdiction (Quebec to the USA and Scotland to England). In 1995, Québec had a referendum on independence which was narrowly defeated and the people of Québec voted to stay in Canada. Following the referendum, Hydro-Québec (the monopoly provincial utility in Québec) embarked on a very ambitious plan to develop renewable energy which has resulted in Hydro-Québec becoming a global leader in renewable energy providing tremendous benefits to both the province and all of Canada. Hydro-Québec is currently in the process of launching hydroelectric projects to create an additional 4,500 MW of generating capacity involving new investment of around $25 billion CAD and the creation of roughly 70,000 jobs over 10 years. Hydro-Québec is also on track to develop 4,000 MW of wind by 2015.

Clearly the decision by the people of Québec to remain an integral and important part of the larger Canadian economic market provided the foundation for the enviable position Hydro-Québec is in now. I am not sure this would have been possible in an independent Québec or if there was uncertainty regarding the political future of the province and its role in Canada.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) proposed in Saskatchewan

As the provincial election in Saskatchewan on November 7, 2011 draws near the Saskatchewan Green Party has promised in their election platform that “green MLAs will move to create a fixed feed-in tariff system to incentivize green energy growth in Saskatchewan.” Although the Saskatchewan Party was done a good job of developing renewable energy in Saskatchewan, this will inevitably put some additional pressure on the winner of the provincial election to focus on developing a policy that further promotes renewable energy in the province.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ormat wins five geothermal exploration concessions in Chile

The Chilean Committee on Geothermal Energy Analysis has recommended that Chile’s Energy Ministry award five geothermal energy exploration concessions to Ormat Technologies, Inc. Ormat will own the licenses through its Chilean subsidiary, Ormat Andina SA.

The Geothermal Committee recommended awarding Ormat Andina SA all five of the concessions it bid for, as part of a tender for 20 new areas of geothermal energy exploration. The concessions are called "Aroma", "Quinohuen", "Marimar" "San Jose II", and "Sollipulli." Ormat is required to invest in an exploration program at the concessions over the next two years. Successful exploration results will be followed by an exploitation license, which is the first step for power plant construction.
Studies indicate Chile has a large untapped geothermal energy potential and is expected to lead geothermal development in the region.

These concessions add to Ormat's diverse portfolio of interests and developments in Latin America and worldwide, which include activities as owner and operator of power plants in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Kenya and the US.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NDP stand by goal of 400 MW in 4 years and 50% from renewables by 2025 - Saskatchewan Party remain firmly committed to investing in wind

If recent comments by both parties in the ongoing provincial election campaign in Saskatchewan are any indication, wind power seems to have a very promising future in the province. Both the governing Saskatchewan Party and opposition NDP continue to state a clear commitment to wind energy development in the province but differ in their position on targets, standards, costs and technical challenges.

What the NDP are saying about their support for wind energy

As part of the ongoing election campaign, the provincial opposition NDP party leader, Dwain Lingenfelter noted that the NDP’s previously stated goal of adding 400 MW of new wind power over the next four years is as affordable as the province's other options and also easier on the environment. The new 400 MW of wind power would put the province well on the way toward having 50% of all generation in the province of Saskatchewan coming from renewable sources by 2025, which a NDP government would mandate, Lingenfelter said. "We're going to be building 400 MW in that (four year) period at any rate, and the question is what are you going to use for your source of power. What we're saying is rather than more coal or more natural gas, more fossil fuels, the next 400 MW of power will come into the grid through wind after we form government," Lingenfelter told reporters. When asked about the cost, Lingenfelter insisted the "numbers are within the budget of SaskPower." "It would be the same cost impact as the plan in place now which is mainly to do more retrofitting in coal, to get more from that area, or more natural gas," Lingenfelter said. The costs of wind and natural gas production are "very comparable over the life of the project," Lingenfelter said. Lingenfelter said the NDP, if re-elected, would look to get up to 20% of its power from wind. To achieve 50% from renewable sources, the province would boost its hydro complement and look at solar and geothermal as well as efficiency measures, he added. There are 171 MW of wind generation in Saskatchewan that was implemented under the previous NDP government. It is unclear what type of procurement process the NDP would implement and what the role of independent power producers would be.

What the Saskatchewan Party are saying about their support for wind energy

Premier Brad Wall of the governing Saskatchewan Party accused the NDP of failing to account for the above promise in its campaign platform and being mistaken on their assessment of costs. "Our cost on that, SaskPower's cost on that, is about a billion dollars. It's got to come from somewhere. It's either going to come from people's power bills - they're going to be paying more - or it comes from the budget," Wall said. "It's not accurate to say that adding the wind power would be the same as other power plans," he added. "There is an additional premium that comes with wind operationally because you need backup for when the wind's not blowing and to some extent from a capital standpoint. " Wall said. "We want to be environmentally sustainable. We're also investing in wind. But again, it has to be reasonable and affordable for Saskatchewan families." Under the Saskatchewan Party, SaskPower is currently in the process of purchasing up to 175 MW from one or more independent power producers selected through a competitive RFP process and a further 25 MW of wind power from developers with smaller-scale projects on an annual basis. The Saskatchewan Party Policy Resolutions publicly available online have set the goal of making the province of Saskatchewan “the energy heart of North America” by 2020 by assessing the potential for further development of power generation from wind, clean coal, natural gas, nuclear, biomass, coal bed methane, ethanol, solar, oil sands, co-generation, hydrogen fuel cell technology and any other power source that may be viable in Saskatchewan for provincial consumption and/or export.

This is the kind of debate I like – a debate about targets, standards, costs and technical challenges associated with renewable energy development. The question is not whether we will develop our renewable energy resources in Saskatchewan, but rather what the most appropriate way to do that is. Both the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP clearly support development of our vast renewable energy resources in Saskatchewan. From my perspective, I am optimistic that renewable energy in Saskatchewan has a promising long-term future under either a Saskatchewan Party or NDP government.

Source: (in part) The StarPhoenix, October 25, 2011 edition

Monday, October 24, 2011

Expression of Interest (EOI) for Development of a Wind Generation Facility: City of Saskatoon issues EOI for innovative utility-scale wind facility

The utility-scale wind energy generation facility will be located at the Green Energy Park in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The EOI was published in the October 22, 2011 edition of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on page D3.

The EOI follows below:

The City of Saskatoon is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from parties in respect of the above referenced project.

Scope of Work: The City of Saskatoon will be seeking proposals from wind energy developers interested in developing a wind energy generation facility at the Saskatoon Waste Management Centre (Saskatoon Landfill). The facility will consist of a single tower and turbine which should not exceed 2 megawatts (MW) in nameplate capacity. The commercial operation date (COD) for the project is March 31, 2013.

Interested developers should submit a statement to the undersigned containing the following details:
- Respondent’s mailing address and head office location;
- Name and contact information of the respondent’s primary contact person;
- Brief summary of respondent’s background, relevant experience and ability to undertake and complete such project.

EOI’s will be received up to 2:00 p.m. C.S.T., Monday October 31, 2011.

This project is partially funded by the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan through the Canada-Saskatchewan Provincial-Territorial Base Funding.

Responses shall be mailed or delivered to:

City of Saskatoon
Purchasing Services
222 Cardinal Crescent
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
S7L 6H8
Telephone: + 1 306 975 2600
Facsimile: +1 306 975 2612

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Energy in Alberta: Premier Redford shifts focus of Alberta from conventional hydrocarbons to renewables - time for Saskatchewan to follow?

On October 1, 2011 Alison Redford was elected by her Progressive Conservative (PC) party as the premier of Alberta. As part of the energy strategy Redford proposed during the PC leadership race, Redford stated that she envisions Alberta “as a global leader in sustainable hydrocarbon production and the global leader in renewable energy production.” Premier Redford also stated in her energy strategy that the proposed shift from the conventional hydrocarbon sector to renewable energy will leverage revenues generated from conventional sources “to ensure that Alberta remains a leader when the shift to renewables occurs on a large scale.” The Alberta energy strategy does not suggest (or rule out) subsidies, standard offer programs, subsidized tariff rates or feed-in-tariffs for renewable energy generation.

Premier Redford has also committed to establishing an authority to direct government involvement in renewable energy, operating in partnership with the academic and private sectors, promoting education and research initiatives and updating the Alberta Electric System Operator’s terms of reference to facilitate connection of renewables to the grid.

With British Columbia already a significant and long-standing supporter of renewable energy development and Alberta seemingly following suit, if Saskatchewan adopts a similar position on renewable energy we would have a consensus from all major hydrocarbon producing jurisdictions in Western Canada. A clear position on renewable energy is a critical pillar in a Canadian energy strategy and full credit must go to Alberta for taking the lead in the absence of Federal direction.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mining giant Rio Tinto takes on Saskatoon-based Cameco and makes a bid for uranium junior Hathor

Global mining powerhouse Rio Tinto PLC has just announced a friendly $578 million CAD bid for junior uranium company Hathor Exploration Ltd. staging a battle against Saskatoon-based uranium giant Cameco for a promising uranium property in Saskatchewan adjacent to Cameco's existing mine.

London-based Rio, the world’s second-largest mining company, said Wednesday it is offering $4.15 per share for Hathor, a 55 per cent premium to the company’s closing price on Aug. 25, the day before Cameco made a hostile bid for $3.75 per share. It’s also the first bid for a Canadian company Rio has made since it bought Montreal-based Alcan in 2007.

Hathor shares, which had been trading above Cameco’s offer price since the bid was made, jumped more than 10 per cent on Wednesday to a high of $4.47, suggesting investors expect Cameco may come in with a higher offer.

Hathor has urged its shareholders to reject the offer from Cameco, calling it “predatory” and opportunistic given depressed uranium prices in the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster earlier this year. Spot uranium prices have fallen about 25 per cent to around $53 (U.S.) per pound, followed by a drop in equities in the sector, since Japan's earthquake and ensuing nuclear crisis struck in mid-March.

Vancouver-based Hathor, whose flagship asset is the Roughrider deposit in northern Saskatchewan, said its board unanimously recommends the Rio offer instead.

“The strategic context of the Rio Tinto offer underscores the ‘best of breed’ global stature of the Roughrider uranium deposit relative to its peers of undeveloped uranium deposits around the world,” Hathor chief executive officer Mike Gunning said in a statement Wednesday. “The superior Rio Tinto offer provides fair value to Hathor shareholders over Cameco’s current hostile, unsolicited takeover offer.”

“The acquisition of Hathor provides a quality opportunity to expand the Rio Tinto presence in the Athabasca Basin which currently provides approximately 20 per cent of global uranium production,” Rio stated.

“The medium and long-term outlook for the uranium market is positive, with uranium assuming a significant role in the world’s primary energy needs,” Rio Tinto Energy chief executive Doug Ritchie stated.

Rio also said last month that it would form a joint-venture with North Atlantic Potash Inc., the Canadian subsidiary of Russia's JSC Acron, to explore for the fertilizer ingredient in nine areas of Saskatchewan.

Source: (in part) Globe & Mail

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CanWEA announces wind energy award winners at Annual Conference

At its gala Awards Banquet in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) recognized organizations and individuals who have worked tirelessly to advance the Canadian wind energy industry towards a record year of growth in 2011. The following awards were presented:

Individual Leadership Award - First awarded in 2003, to the individual who has, through their own efforts, significantly advanced the wind energy industry in Canada. Award winner: Richard Legault (President of Windev Corporation) for his dedication to the industry through his unsurpassed experience in assessing the certainty of energy yields from wind for projects in the Canadian context.

Group Leadership Award - First awarded in 2001, this award recognizes the government, corporation or non-profit organization that has contributed significantly to the advancement of wind energy in Canada. Award winner: Peace Energy Cooperative and its Directors for their ability to recognize the tremendous opportunities that exist for British Columbians in renewable energy sources.

R.J. Templin Award - First awarded in 1985, in recognition of any individual or organization who has undertaken scientific, technical, engineering or policy work that has significantly advanced the wind energy industry in Canada. Award winner: Wind Energy Institute of Canada (WEICAN), for advances made in the development of wind energy across Canada through research, testing, training, and collaboration - recipient Mr. Scott Harper.

Friend of Wind Award – Awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions made by individuals or groups in advancing awareness of the benefits of wind energy at the community level. Award winner: Jutta Splettstoesser, Kincardine farmer, mother, and tireless supporter of wind energy in Ontario communities through Friends of Wind Ontario.


Monday, October 17, 2011

SunEdison raises $300 million USD for North American solar PV projects

To support the construction costs of utility and rooftop solar PV projects throughout the United States and Canada, SunEdison, the solar energy subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc., has arranged for a three-year, $300 million USD revolving credit facility with Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc. and Rabobank. SunEdison described the arrangement as one of the largest non-recourse project financing revolving credit facilities ever issued for solar PV projects. Currently, SunEdison has more than 500 solar PV energy systems deployed throughout the United States and Canada and 330 MW of installed solar PV capacity. The company said that it is continuing to look for additional banking partners to finance its pipeline of projects.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Saskatoon City Council approves innovative wind turbine project at the landfill

City of Saskatoon Councillors approved a city administration request to seek proposals for the design and construction of an 80 metre tall wind turbine at the landfill. Three councillors - Pat Lorje, Darren Hill and Tiffany Paulsen - voted against the proposal.

With the approval, the city administration will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the $5 million CAD project. The city plans to have the turbine running by January 2013.

Saskatoon Light and Power has been studying the project's feasibility - including wind and foundation stability tests - since 2006. The wind turbine concept used by the city would have a capacity of 2 MW, which would power about 500 homes. The annual 3,000 tonne reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the equivalent of removing 600 vehicles from Saskatoon streets.

The project will be sited on an existing landfill thereby reclaiming otherwise unusable land.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trillium Power sues Ontario for $2.25 billion CAD over future lost profit for development of offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes

Trillium Power Wind Corp. (“Trillium”), which had planned to build a series of offshore wind farms in Lake Ontario is suing the Ontario provincial government for $2.25 billion CAD for alleged damages suffered as a result of Ontario cancelling all offshore wind projects in the Great Lakes earlier this year.

Trillium’s Statement of Claim was filed yesterday in Ontario Superior Court and alleges that the decision to cancel offshore wind projects was made for purely political reasons in order to appease wind-power critics. Of course this is merely a Statement of Claim and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

It is alleged that Trillium spent millions of dollars over many years planning its offshore projects, and had dutifully followed the government’s application processes, but was taken completely by surprise when Ontario said it would not consider any offshore development in the Great Lakes until more scientific studies were done.

Unlike other onshore wind projects in Ontario Trillium did not have a FIT contract (or as I understand, any contract) with the government of Ontario for any of its offshore wind projects.

In the lawsuit, Trillium alleges that the province’s decision constituted “a confiscation of property rights, without warning or substantive justification” and that as a result, Trillium had to “effectively cease its corporate operation and organization, to lay off staff and to cancel contracts with advisers.”

The Statement of Claim indicates that the majority of damages claimed are for future loss of profits, as Trillium had only spent about $5.3 million CAD in planning for its first wind farm.

Canada has 202, 080 km of coastline – by far the greatest amount of coastline in the world - Greenland has 44,087 km and Russia has 37,653 km. Canada has a wealth of prime locations for offshore wind farm projects in British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada. From the outset of this project I questioned the wisdom of building an offshore wind farm in an inland freshwater lake in the most densely populated part of Canada - other than the fact that an offshore wind farm in Lake Ontario would have afforded a great view from Trillium’s head office in downtown Toronto.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SaskPower to invest $550 million CAD to upgrade Saskatoon power station with natural gas and waste-heat conversion

The project, at the Queen Elizabeth Power Station in Saskatoon, the largest city in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, will involve the construction of three 35 MW natural gas turbines, six steam generators and a steam turbine designed to produce 95 MW of power. The project will provide an additional 200 MW of cleaner energy to the provincial grid by 2015.

“These natural gas generating units will emit half the carbon dioxide of coal-fired generators, as well as less sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury,” said Robert Watson, SaskPower President and Chief Executive Officer. “Emissions will be reduced even further because the operation will utilize waste heat to generate electricity rather than venting it to the atmosphere.”

SaskPower has stated that the private sector will play a major role in the design, construction and commissioning of the project. Those developers and suppliers involved in natural gas and waste heat generation will want to take note, as it is anticipated that SaskPower will issue a request for proposals (RFP) in the near future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Raising finance through carbon credits

Earlier this week international law firm, Shearman & Sterling LLP announced they had advised East Asia Power (Xiamen) Company Ltd., a subsidiary of Pacific Oil and Gas, on the sale of certified emission reductions to be generated under the UN Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism regime. Switzerland-based Mercuria Energy Trading SA is purchasing the credits from East Asia Power (Xiamen) Company Ltd. for an undisclosed amount. East Asia Power (Xiamen) Company Ltd. intends to generate the carbon reduction credits over a seven-year period at its less carbon-intensive Fujian Xiamen Dongbu natural gas-fired plant. Emission reduction credits certified under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism regime are freely tradable and may be used to satisfy emission reduction targets under the Protocol itself and in the European Union Emissions Trading System under certain circumstances.

It is believed that East Asia Power (Xiamen) Company Ltd. used a portion of the funds to finance the construction of the natural gas-fired plant. Such arrangements can be comparable to a joint venture in many ways and in my view, are a fairly good method of raising finance for smaller projects. I expect that other renewable energy developers will be selling their certified emission reductions in order to secure funding for their projects.

Given the delays with Saskatchewan’s carbon credit legislation, and the huge number of offsets generated by farmers from zero-till agriculture in Saskatchewan, I would have assumed that some enterprising developer, aggregator or emissions trader would have already capitalized on the idea of using the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism to generate credits in Saskatchewan for sale to European energy traders such as Mercuria.

Monday, September 26, 2011

BC Hydro’s future energy procurement practices for projects in British Columbia

In September of 2010, BC Hydro retained Merrimack Energy Group Inc. to conduct an independent review of its energy procurement practices. BC Hydro is in the process of adopting the majority of the recommendations. Both the report and BC Hydro’s response to the recommendations are available for viewing on BC Hydro’s website at

Merrimack is recommending the following:

1. Link the Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process and procurement activities, (i.e. the timing and level of need for new resources should be determined through the IRP process)
2. Make the energy procurement process more transparent for all stakeholders and First Nations
3. Implement smaller but more frequent energy procurements in the future which are linked to the IRP
4. Continue to follow the recent trend in BC Hydro’s procurements, combining or mixing procurement vehicles to match the type of overall solicitation being implemented
5. For larger procurement processes, utilize a multi-stage evaluation process
6. Develop standards for evaluating and negotiating bilateral contracts and make the standards transparent to stakeholders.
7. Consider creating an Advisory Group comprised of nonsupplier stakeholders and First Nations to advise BC Hydro on procurement activities.
8. Complete financial analysis, in collaboration with stakeholders and First Nations, to assess if more flexible contract provisions, which shift less risk to the supplier
9. In the process of integrating BC Hydro and BCTC, assess how other utilities are addressing these issues

BC Hydro has expressed agreement with the above recommendations, except #7.

BC Hydro is a crown corporation with operates 30 hydroelectric facilities and three natural gas-fueled thermal power plants and generates between 43,000 and 54,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity annually, depending on prevailing water levels. BC Hydro’s energy policies are laid out in the 2007 BC Energy Plan. Several elements and targets included in that plan were updated in the Clean Energy Act of 2010.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ormat receives approval for $310 million USD OPIC financing for geothermal project upgrade in Kenya

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has approved $310 million USD in financing for Ormat Technologies Inc. to double the generation of an existing geothermal plant in Kenya. Ormat will utilize the OPIC financing to add 52 MW to the existing 48 MW of power generation capability of the Olkaria geothermal plant located in the Rift Valley of Kenya approximately 75 kilometres northwest of Nairobi.

The loan is comprised oa refinancing tranche of up to $85 million USD to prepay the existing loan and fund transaction costs, and a construction loan tranche of up to $165 million USD to finance the construction of an additional 36MW expansion currently underway. The loan also includes a $60 million USD stand-by facility to finance an additional optional 16 MW capacity expansion, that, if exercised by Ormat, could bring the total capacity of the complex to 100 MW. According to the Ormat Press Release, the maturity dates of the construction tranche and the refinancing tranche are expected to be June 2030 and December 2030, respectively.

Sources: Ormat Press Release and Energy Business Review

Thursday, September 22, 2011

$1.5 million CAD wind turbine lawsuit filed against Suncor et al. in Ontario

The Michaud family of Thamesville, Ontario is suing Kent Breeze Corp., MacLeod Windmill Project Inc. and Suncor Energy Services Inc. for $1.5 million CAD claiming they have suffered vertigo, nausea and sleep disruption caused by the Kent Breeze wind farm. The wind farm, which began operating in May 2011, consists of eight turbines, the closest of which is 1,146 metres from the Michaud's property. Interestingly, the same largely German made turbines, seem to cause adverse health effects only to Ontarians and Germans living much closer to the turbines seem to be unaffected. To put this lawsuit into perspective it may be useful to compare Ontario to Germany, the country with the longest experience operating wind turbines:

Ontario: 550 meters
Germany: 80 meters

Number of turbines in operation
Ontario: 900
Germany: 22,000

Approximate number of years utility-scale turbines have been in operation

Ontario: 5
Germany: 25

Ontario: 1,076,395 sq. km.
Germany: 357, 022 sq. km.

Future development
Ontario: The incumbent in the current Ontario provincial election, Tim Hudak, has vowed to stop all future wind energy development in Ontario and tear up a $7 billion CAD deal to expand renewable energy manufacturing in Ontario.
Germany: just announced plans to further increase financing opportunities to quickly and efficiently promote further development of wind farms in the country.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

German utility Stadtwerke München and German developer wpd target Canada through joint venture for future renewable energy projects

Stadtwerke München has taken a 33% stake in German wind developer wpd's onshore wind projects in Europe and Canada. The deal is reported to include 70 MW of operational wind assets and a project pipeline of over 4 200 MW in 12 European countries and Canada.

Stadtwerke München (SWM) has the ambitious aim of generating 100% of all energy from their own renewable generation facilities sufficient to power the entire city of Munich, Germany which has a population of over 1 million inhabitants.

Wpd has projects in the Canadian province of Ontario and was awarded 5 contracts under the Ontario feed-in-tariff program. It is expected that with the additional financial resources of Stadtwerke München, wpd will develop projects in other Canadian provinces.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Opposition party pledges 50% renewable generation in Saskatchewan by 2025 and 400 MW of new wind power within 4 years

The provincial opposition party, the NDP, is proposing a new provincial Renewable Energy Act which will expand clean and renewable energy sources to provide 50% of Saskatchewan's electricity by 2025. The NDP have also stated they will build 400 MW of new capacity in wind power in the first four years of government. Given the outstanding and considerable renewable energy resources in Saskatchewan this is not an unrealistic goal and I commend the NDP for having the foresight to recognize this opportunity.

The proposed Renewable Energy Act will legislatively mandate the province of Saskatchewan to aggressively pursue more wind power opportunities and construct those in tandem with other sources to balance the intermittent electricity generated by wind. The Renewable Energy Act will also mandate that the province of Saskatchewan work with northern communities to develop low-impact (e.g. run-of-river) hydroelectricity projects and biomass power plants along the forest fringe that utilize forestry residues to generate energy.

Although the governing Saskatchewan Party have been less ambitious in their renewable energy targets, they have opened up new opportunities for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to design, build and own their renewable energy generation in the province and sell the electricity to SaskPower under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The Saskatchewan Party has prudently recognized that IPPs are essential to developing a competitive renewable energy market and I commend the Saskatchewan Party for having the foresight to recognize this and take action to welcome renewable energy developers into our province.

The NDP candidate for Saskatoon-Greystone and environmental advocate, Peter Prebble has excluded a role for IPPs and is proposing that the provincial monopoly utility, SaskPower, own all renewable energy generation. This prevents private developers from entering the market, restricts foreign investment in Saskatchewan and precludes the deployment of new and cheaper renewable energy technology in the province.

What Saskatchewan needs to capitalize on our abundant renewable resources is a policy which combines the NDPs ambitious (but attainable) renewable energy targets and the Saskatchewan Party’s pragmatic market-oriented approach to building and owning generation. Irrespective of the outcome of the upcoming provincial election, if the NDP and Saskatchewan Party can find some common ground regarding renewable energy we have a real opportunity to transform Saskatchewan into a renewable energy powerhouse.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vertical-axis wind turbines could further reduce the cost, size, and environmental impacts of wind farms in the future

John Dabiri of the California Institute of Technology recently published an interesting article in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy which concludes that vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) could significantly alter our approach to structuring wind farms in the future.

An abstract of the article follows below:

Modern wind farms comprised of horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs) require significant land resources to separate each wind turbine from the adjacent turbine wakes. This aerodynamic constraint limits the amount of power that can be extracted from a given wind farm footprint. The resulting inefficiency of HAWT farms is currently compensated by using taller wind turbines to access greater wind resources at high altitudes, but this solution comes at the expense of higher engineering costs and greater visual, acoustic, radar, and environmental impacts. We investigated the use of counter-rotating vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) in order to achieve higher power output per unit land area than existing wind farms consisting of HAWTs. Full-scale field tests of 10-m tall VAWTs in various counter-rotating configurations were conducted under natural wind conditions during summer 2010. Whereas modern wind farms consisting of HAWTs produce 2–3 W of power per square meter of land area, these field tests indicate that power densities an order of magnitude greater can potentially be achieved by arranging VAWTs in layouts that enable them to extract energy from adjacent wakes and from above the wind farm. Moreover, this improved performance does not requirehigher individual wind turbine efficiency, only closer wind turbine spacing and asufficient vertical flux of turbulence kinetic energy from the atmospheric surface layer. The results suggest an alternative approach to wind farming that has the potential to concurrently reduce the cost, size, and environmental impacts of wind farms.

The full version of the article is available here:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Samsung & Pattern Energy acquire 180 MW Acciona wind project in Ontario

Acciona, the developer of the Armow project in the Canadian province of Ontario has sold the project to a newly formed partnership between South Korea’s Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy Group. The price and other terms of the deal have not been released. The project is located in Kincardine township about 235 kilometres northeast of Toronto. Turbine components for the 180 MW Armow project will be procured from the new Siemens factories in Tillsonburg, Ontario and Windsor, Ontario. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2013 and the wind farm is expected to reach COD the following year.

Samsung has agreed with the provincial government of Ontario to develop up to 2500 MW of renewable energy projects in the province. Samsung has recently acquired PPAs from the Ontario Power Authority for Armow and 3 other projects in Ontario: the 270 MW South Kent Wind project under development in Chatham-Kent, the 270 MW K2 Wind project in the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh and 150 MW of wind from the Grand Renewable Energy Park, a wind and solar power project under development in Haldimand County. The terms of the PPA have not been released.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

GHG emissions offset program launch date unknown causing uncertainty in oil and gas industry in Saskatchewan

The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Act (the “Act”) passed third reading in the Saskatchewan provincial legislature in May 2010. After passing third reading a Bill can be proclaimed law and receive Royal Assent anytime thereafter - this has not yet happened in the province of Saskatchewan.

Somewhat surprisingly there seems to be little pressure from the provincial government or environmental groups to proclaim the Act law. However, business requires certainty as to government regulation and with the booming oil and gas sector in the province of Saskatchewan responsible for the majority of GHG emissions it would certainly be beneficial to all stakeholders to implement this legislation as soon as possible so that business in the province can plan accordingly.

The Act will create an emissions trading system giving regulated emitters the option to purchase emission offsets or make a carbon compliance payment into a technology fund in order to invest in solutions and research into greenhouse gas emission reduction in the province.

The full version of Bill 195 is available here:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Canadian Brookfield to merge hydro and wind assets to take on Europeans to create global renewable energy powerhouse

Canadian asset manager Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is proposing to merge its hydroelectric and wind power assets presently held by Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. to create the world's second-largest public renewable energy company. The merged entity would have a market capitalization of $6 billion USD, ranking behind Italy's ENEL GP's $10 billion USD equity value but ahead of EDP of France and Portugal's EDF Group.

The new corporation, Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners LP (“BREP”) will be headquartered in Bermuda but will run its Canadian division from Gatineau, Quebec. Brookfield has 2,000 MW of projects under development, including a wind farm in south-western Ontario and other projects in Saskatchewan.

Mr. Richard Legault, CEO of Brookfield’s power operations noted that the deal would position BREP "as one of the largest publicly listed pure-play renewable power businesses, one that is roughly 1 1/2 times the size of the fund today with almost 4,800 megawatts of capacity at 179 facilities producing 18 million megawatt hours of power per year.” Legault said the new company would "rank among the very best renewable businesses globally in terms of its quality of assets, scale of operating platform, geographic diversification, access to capital, and global reach."

The focus in the medium term will be on its core markets in Canada, the United States and Brazil. But in the longer term, it could target opportunities in Europe and Australia where Brookfield's infrastructure and real estate operations have a strong presence.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Learn more about Saskatoon’s world-class Green Energy Park

The following presentation will be held tomorrow evening in Saskatoon regarding the Green Energy Park:

Saskatoon’s Green Energy Park – Achieving a Diverse and Environmentally Sustainable Energy System Using Local Renewable Energy Supplies
Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Start Time: 7:00 pm
End Time: 8:30 pm
Event Title: Saskatoon’s Green Energy Park – Achieving a Diverse and Environmentally Sustainable Energy System Using Local Renewable Energy Supplies
Location: Cliff Wright Library (1635 McKercher Drive, Saskatoon, SK., Canada)

Description: The City of Saskatoon is developing a world-class energy park at its landfill that has potential to power over 5,000 homes using only local renewable energy supplies, and is expected to achieve an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for the city of over 115,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent. Green energy projects feature renewable power generation technologies using landfill gas, a turboexpander pressure reduction application with SaskEnergy, a tall wind turbine sited on top of the landfill, and other considerations for the future that could include utility-scale solar and heat recovery applications. Come find out more about this exciting project. Event co-sponsored by the Cliff Wright Library and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society. For more information, please contact the Saskatchewan Environmental Society at 306-665-1915.

Kevin Hudson, P. Eng. will be delivering the presentation. Kevin is one of the leading renewable energy engineers in Saskatchewan. The presentation is open to the public.

Enbridge shifts renewable energy projects to affiliate

One of Enbridge Inc.'s separately-traded sister companies recently approved a deal to buy three renewable energy projects for $1.23 billion CAD from the parent company. Under the deal, Enbridge Income Fund Holdings Inc. will buy ownership of the Ontario Wind, Sarnia Solar and Talbot Wind renewable energy projects from the Calgary oil and gas pipeline company. An Enbridge spokeswoman said the Enbridge Income Fund was created to hold assets that generate reliable and stable cash flow, for investors that pay a premium for the fund's dividend stream. Separating the renewable assets into the income fund provides a lower-cost way to fund Enbridge's investments in renewable power, she said. Enbridge Inc. will retain operational control of the projects, which generate 369 megawatts of power in total and include the world's largest operating photovoltaic solar facility in the Sarnia Solar project. The income fund currently owns Enbridge's Saskatchewan crude oil pipeline system, a 50% interest in the Canadian portion of the Alliance Canada natural gas pipeline that runs from British Columbia to Chicago, and partial interests in several smaller wind power and waste-heat generation plants in western Canada.

Friday, September 9, 2011

South Africa issues massive 3725 MW Request for Proposals (RFP) from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for wind, solar PV, biomass, biogas, landfill gas and small hydro

Selection for the projects will be by way of a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process with a pre-qualification phase.

Important details regarding the RFP follow below:

Generation Allocation

3725 MW of renewable generation will be allocated in the first round as follows:

- Onshore wind – 1850 MW;
- Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) – 200 MW;
- Solar photovoltaic (PV) – 1450 MW;
- Biomass – 12.5 MW;
- Biogas – 12.5 MW;
- Landfill gas – 25 MW;
- Small hydro – 75 MW;
- Small projects (1 MW-5 MW), using wind, solar PV, biomass or biogas technologies – 100 MW.

Price Caps

The price caps are as follows:

- Wind – $157.33 CAD/MWh;
- Solar PV – $390.29/MWh;
- CSP – $390.29/MWh;
- biomass – $146.63/MWh;
- biogas – $109.63/MWh;
- landfill gas – $82.21/MWh;
- small hydro – $141.13/MWh.

A respondent will be non-compliant and automatically rejected during the qualification phase if the price cap is exceeded.To put the wind cap into perspective for those in Saskatchewan, SaskPower is paying $96.09 CAD/MWh for wind power under the Green Options Partners Program (GOPP). Under the South African RFP, Eskom will pay nearly 40% more than SaskPower for wind generation and almost 75% more than SaskPower for solar PV.

Evaluation and RFP

Norton Rose, counsel for the South African Department of Energy (DoE) and Eskom, who structured and will likely run the procurement process have provided some details about the evaluation criteria and the RFP:

- If a respondent is successful in the pre-qualification phase, their submission will be evaluated based primarily on price and economic development.
- In regard to price, a formula will be used to calculate an "equivalent annual tariff" for the MWh price proposed.
- As to economic development, a scorecard has been formulated to which bidders are obliged to respond, thereby enabling the department to determine bidders’ commitment to economic development requirements.
- Each technology will have their own economic development matrix, but common to all are requirements for job creation, local content (with special emphasis on local manufacturing), rural community development, skills development and education, enterprise development, socio-economic development, and participation by the historically disadvantaged.
- The points allocation between price and economic development is 70/30.
- Bidders whose responses rank the highest will be appointed "Preferred Bidders" with as many being appointed as may be necessary in order to provide the maximum allocation of MW for each technology.
- In the event of selection, a Preferred Bidder will be held to compliance with the price and economic development proposals in its bid, with regular reporting to demonstrate compliance during the life of the project.
- Non-compliance will result in progressive demerits, and may eventually result in cancellation of the PPA and other agreements.
- The draft PPA, Implementation Agreement, Direct Agreement and Connection Agreements are non-negotiable, although the DoE reserves the right to revise the templates of any of these draft agreements during the course of the procurement program.
- Bidders will be required to lodge, along with their bids, a bid guarantee issued by a first class South African bank for an amount equal to R100,000.00 per MW proposed in the bid.
- There are 5 bidding "windows"- November 4, 2011; March 5, 2012; August 20, 2012; March 4, 2013; August 13, 2013.
- If the maximum allocatable MW for any particular technology has been allocated during any particular window, then the subsequent windows will not be opened for that technology.

Given the significant amount of generation allocated and the relatively high prices, it is anticipated that there will considerable interest from developers around the world. South African law firm Deneys Reitz merged with Norton Rose along with Canadian law firm Ogilvy Renault on June 1, 2011. A number of Canadian renewable energy developers formerly represented by Ogilvy Renault (now Norton Rose) are expected to participate in the South African procurement process but will likely have to seek alternate counsel in Canada given Norton Rose is already acting for the utility. I have renewable energy experience working in Namibia, bordering on South Africa and serviced by Eskom, and would be happy to discuss a possible submission further with any interested wind, solar PV/CSP, biomass, biogas, landfill gas or small hydro developers.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Finavera signs MOU with McLeod Lake Indian Band in Peace River Region of British Columbia

The MOU covers the construction and operation of 4 wind projects totalling 300 MW on First Nations land. In the MOU the McLeod Lake Indian Band has provided its acknowledgement and acceptance for the 45 MW Tumbler Ridge Wind Energy Project, 77 MW Wildmare Wind Energy Project, 117 Meikle Wind Energy Project and the 60 MW Bullmoose Wind Energy Project. The MOU establishes the processes and sharing of benefits between the developer and the McLeod Lake Indian Band. In return for their consent and support of Finavera’s wind projects in the Peace River region of British Columbia, the McLeod Lake Indian Band will benefit through training, employment, business opportunities and financial participation in the projects. The MOU Finavera has signed with the McLeod Lake Indian Band is the second of five such agreements that Finavera hopes to conclude in the Peace River Region. The Company signed an MOU with Halfway River First Nation in 2010 and is presently in discussions with three other First Nations (West Moberly First Nation, Doig River First Nation and Saulteau First Nations).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

EU joins Japan, US and files WTO complaint against Canada over Ontario renewable energy FIT

The European Union (EU) has officially requested World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations on the subsidies the province of Ontario gives to renewable-energy producers that use domestic technology. The EU’s formal request was issued on August 11, 2011 and just accepted by the WTO. The EU’s request follows on the establishment of a WTO dispute panel to hear Japan’s complaints against Canada regarding the feed-in-tariff (FIT) program. Under WTO rules, the EU and Canada must now hold talks for at least two months in a bid to resolve the dispute. If the talks fail, the EU can ask WTO judges to rule. The US is also involved in discussions regarding the same matter. Canada, the EU, Japan and the US are all major players in the green energy industry.

Under the Ontario FIT, which was created by the provincial Green Energy Act, developers are paid above-market rates for provision of renewable energy provided it is generated with a certain percentage of Ontario-made equipment. Under the Ontario FIT up to 50% of the initial costs to develop a solar-energy project must be made of up products or services from. The Ontario FIT pays as much as $0.802 CAD per kilowatt hour for PV energy electricity generated which compares to the industry average of about $0.10 – a difference of almost 8x and one of the most significant feed-in-tariff payments in the world for PV electricity. From the perspective of Ontario and Canada the Ontario FIT has been a resounding success and is in the process of being emulated in many jurisdictions across North America. The Green Energy Act aims to help Ontario meet its goal of shutting all its coal-power generators by 2014. Germany, the UK, the US and soon Japan have their own feed-in-tariff programs but the dispute focuses on the specific “Buy Ontario” provisions.

EU exports to Canada in wind power and photovoltaic (PV) power- generation equipment are “significant,” according to the European Commission, ranging from 300 million EUR ($416 million CAD) to 600 million EUR ($833 million CAD) between 2007 and 2009.

Bloomberg is reporting that Caitlin Workman, a spokeswoman for Canada’s Trade Department in Ottawa, has stated that Canada will “vigorously defend Canada’s interests during these proceedings” at the WTO.

This announcement comes at a difficult time, as the province of Ontario kicks off a provincial election campaign which pits current Liberal party premier Dalton McGuinty (who spearheaded the Ontario FIT and is a significant supporter of renewable energy) against Conservative incumbent Tim Hudak. In a move reminiscent of post-colonial African dictators of the 1950s, Hudak vowed to rip up a $7 billion CAD MOU for wind and solar power which the Ontario government signed with multinational Samsung. If elected Hudak also vowed to scrap the Ontario FIT.