Thursday, April 28, 2011

Paper Excellence likely to get biomass power purchase agreement (PPA) in Saskatchewan

This week forestry giant Paper Excellence, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s Sinar Mas, closed the deal with Domtar and the Saskatchewan provincial government to purchase the shuttered Prince Albert, Saskatchewan pulp mill.

A term of the agreement is that the SaskPower provides Paper Excellence with a power purchase agreement (PPA) for purchase of the surplus electricity to be produced from a biomass generator located at the mill.

$1.24 billion CAD carbon capture project approved in Saskatchewan

SaskPower will refurbish the coal-burning Boundary Dam Power Station with new equipment to extract one million tons of CO2 annually. Some of the captured gas will be pumped into aging oil wells to help increase production.

When complete the aging unit of the Boundary Dam Power Station near the city of Estevan will be one of the first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage facilities in the world.

Saskatchewan needs carbon capture to work on a large scale as the province is one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita of any jurisdiction in the world.

Construction is to begin immediately and the unit should be working by 2014, with the capacity to produce 110 megawatts of power.

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., Hitachi and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA)’s Cansolv division will contribute engineering and equipment for the project in Saskatchewan.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Canadian patent for renewable energy storage in heavy oil formations issued

Chicago-based PyroPhase Inc. was recently issued a Canadian patent for a method to store variable wind and solar PV power as heat in heavy oil formations, including oil sands and oil shale. This method can use variable and off-peak power because it stores radio-frequency energy as heat in heavy oil formations. It converts this resource to fuel for refineries in amounts 5 times the electric energy input.

Because this method uses power whenever it is available, and is instantly interruptible, it stabilizes the electric grid. It compensates for fluctuations in wind and solar power input and also in users demand. This reduces the need for spinning reserves, i.e. power plants that run all the time to meet sudden load changes, and thus waste fuel.

PyroPhase has noted on their website that they have plans to scale up and commercialize this technology and note that a 10,000 barrel/day plant could be built in 4 years at a cost in the order of $100 million USD, including $5 million USD for pilot development and $20 million USD to scale up to commercial module size.

Given that Saskatchewan has some of the most consistently high wind speeds in North America, the best solar PV potential in Canada, is already a global leader in carbon capture technology and has well-developed heavy oil extraction and refining industry, it would seem the obvious choice to pilot such technology.

First waste-to-energy plant in the Baltics secures funding

Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), the common international financial institution of the eight Nordic and Baltic countries and Finland’s Fortum have concluded a new loan agreement totalling 70 million EUR for building a waste-to-energy heat and power plant in the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda. Fortum’s new combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Klaipeda will be the first waste-to-energy plant in the Baltic countries. The plant will be fuelled by municipal solid waste, non-hazardous industrial waste and biomass. Its future output capacity is planned at approximately 60 MW of district heat and 20 MW of electricity.

The district heat produced at the plant will replace natural gas-based heat production capacity. Switching to combined heat and power production will increase the efficiency of the energy production and decrease the greenhouse gas emissions in the region. The plant will also help reduce the disposal of waste in the local landfill.

The CHP plant is being built by UAB Fortum Klaipeda, owned by Fortum and the local energy company Klaipedos Energija. The plant is expected to commence operations during the first quarter of 2013.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Innergex acquires Canadian solar PV project from Enfinity for $11.1 million CAD

Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. (TSX:INE) announced that they have entered into a share purchase agreement with Enfinity NV (“Enfinity”), to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of the entity owning the rights to develop Enfinity’s 27 MW Stardale Solar PV project, located in Ontario, Canada. The consideration to be paid to Enfinity under the share purchase agreement is approximately $11.1 million CAD.

Construction of the Stardale project began in November 2010, and is expected to be completed by February 2012. The Stardale project is being developed on two parcels of land totalling 300 acres, located in East-Hawkesbury, in the Russell County of Ontario. The Stardale Project consists of a ground-mounted PV array system, which is to include a total of approximately 144,060 SolarWorld SW 230 polycrystalline PV
modules and 54 inverters, for a total installed capacity of 27 MWAC (33.2 MWDC).

The consideration payable pursuant to the share purchase agreement will be paid upon the project achieving certain milestones. The first payment in an amount of $1.5 million CAD will be paid at closing. The second payment for an amount equal to 50% of the remaining consideration will be payable upon the receipt by the Stardale Project of an executed long-term financing offer from financial institutions having terms and conditions not less favourable than certain thresholds established by the parties. The third payment (25% of the remaining consideration) will be payable at financial closing of that same financing and the last payment (25% of the remaining consideration) will be payable upon final completion of the Stardale Project.

Total development costs are expected to be approximately $140 million CAD. Innergex is a leading North American renewable energy developer based out of Longueuil, Qu├ębec and Enfinity is a global solar PV developer based out of Waregem, Belgium.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pattern Energy and Samsung Renewable Energy acquire wind projects from Suncor Energy and Northland Power

Pattern Energy Group LP (Pattern) and Samsung Renewable Energy (Samsung), a subsidiary of Samsung C&T Corporation today announced that they have jointly acquired land from the Fargo Wind Project from Suncor Energy and a nearby wind development project from Northland Power in Ontario. The two development projects will be included in the larger South Kent Wind Farm, a 270 megawatt (MW) wind project located in the Regional Municipality of Chatham-Kent, which Pattern and Samsung are developing this year.

Pattern Energy’s major stakeholder is Riverstone Holdings, a New York-based private-equity firm. Pattern currently has 520 MW of wind energy in operation in the U.S. and in southern Manitoba, Canada.

"Pattern and Samsung will be able to accelerate the development of these projects by combining them with our nearby South Kent Wind Farm and its transmission connection," said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern.

"Together with Pattern, we are making major progress on our goal to bring new sources of wind energy to Ontario," said Cheol-Woo Lee, Senior Executive Vice President of Samsung. "In addition to closing on these projects we are closing on thousands of acres in southwestern Ontario and the Bruce region for the development of more than 500 MW of wind power, which will use Ontario-made wind turbine components and towers from new Ontario factories in Tillsonburg (blades) and in Windsor (towers)."

South Korean, Samsung is an emerging global leader in renewable energy with projects in Canada, the United States, Costa Rica, Korea, France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

More renewable energy projects sought in Philippines

Following on my recent post regarding development opportunities in Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia and the Philippines, proponents of renewable energy in the Philippines today reiterated calls to aggressively increase power capacity from renewable energy sources.

Peregrino Fernandez of the Renewable Energy Developers' Caucus expressed serious concern over skyrocketing electricity rates due to continually rising oil prices and stated that "the rising cost of fossil fuel must be addressed by new paradigms and framework. Unless a carbon-free solution is introduced to our energy situation, we are merely applying a band-aid solution to our dependency on fossil fuels," said Fernandez, who is also president of the Montalban Methane Power Corporation.

Meanwhile, Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. chairman Ramon Abaya underscored the need for renewable energy projects in the Philippines due to a lack of adequate local fuel reserves and stated that "government must look at an aggressive renewable energy option to address the Mindanao brownouts fast," he said.

Tetchie Capellan, president of the Philippine Solar Power Alliance, pointed out that the Department of Energy recently received several applications for solar PV power service contracts.

As of this week, according to Capellan, there are some 43 solar PV applications totalling 230 MW. Some of these projects are located in Mindanao and may be deployed within the year. "They [solar projects] are viable solutions to the expected energy crunch in Mindanao this year," Capellan said.

Joe Natividad, Sunwest Water and Electric Co. president and co-convenor of the RE Caucus, likewise urged the government to spur the development of the emerging renewable energy industry by reviewing the installation targets of major projects.

The department's indicative installation target for renewable energy is 830 MW (biomass, 250 MW, solar PV, 100 MW, wind, 220 MW, ocean, 10 MW and hydro at 250 MW) —which is 40 percent lower than the industry demand in the Philippines.

Developers, on the other hand, propose an installation target of 1.5 GW (442 MW for biomass, 420 MW for solar, 340 MW for wind, 30 MW for ocean and hydro at 250 MW).

Source: GMA News

Friday, April 15, 2011

EU catching up with Finland 21 years later and proposing carbon tax

The European Commission has issued a proposal to augment the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) with a system of carbon taxes on fuels and heating oil tied to greenhouse gas emissions. Under the EC proposal, the new tax regime would consist primarily of two components: a flat-rate carbon tax beginning at €20 per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), rising in concert with EU carbon prices; and a component based on a fuel’s energy density rather than its volume, thereby rewarding efficiency. Under the new regime, ethanol and other energy sources regarded as renewable would be exempt from the carbon tax. It is anticipated the UK may oppose or veto the new carbon tax.

Finland was far ahead of the rest of the world and implemented a carbon tax already back in 1990 and was the first country to do so. Having worked in Finland for a number of years I can't say I heard much, if any, industry opposition to the carbon tax. After more than 20 years of the carbon tax, industry has clearly adapted. Has the carbon tax been a success in Finland? It is hard to say given Finland's decision to invest heavily in nuclear energy. Maybe part of the investment in nuclear was a response to the carbon tax? The carbon tax does seem to clearly have benefited the Finnish biomass and bioenergy industry, which is now a global leader in manufacturing, development and in utilizing biomass for energy. Almost 30% of the total primary energy consumption in Finland is met by bioenergy. That compares with 3% in Canada.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wind power in Japan post-tsunami

Shortly after the catastrophic earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan, I spoke with a friend in Tokyo, who thankfully was relatively unscathed, very much like the wind turbines in Japan which survived the earthquake and tsunami and are currently being utilized to boost power output to make up for energy shortages throughout the country. According to Yoshinori Ueda, leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association, not a single member of the organization reported damage to its wind turbines during the earthquake and tsunami. Incredibly, my friend in Tokyo, who also works at one of the largest wind farm developers in Japan, had already heard that all of their wind turbines in Japan had survived the earthquake and tsunami.

Some wind turbines stopped temporarily due to an overall grid failure. However, most turbines remained fully operational, including Kamisu, a semi-offshore wind farm located approximately 300 kilometres from the epicenter of the earthquake.

That incredible stability led to publicly-traded, Japan Wind Development Co.'s share price gaining nearly 20% after the earthquake and tsunami. The market was clearly impressed by the technology in the face of such a destructive force of nature.

I anticipate that as a result of the proven stability of the Japanese wind farms and the continuing problems at Fukushima, in addition to Japan, wind farm development will likely increase in relatively wealthy but earthquake-prone countries such as Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia and the Philippines.

There is already talk about a feed-in-tariff in Japan and a number of developers have built and are working on projects in Mexico. Progressive developers seeking new opportunities will want to start acquiring sites for development in Turkey, Indonesia and the Philippines to get ahead of their competitors and capitalize on procurement processes in the future.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Carbon management and emissions trading

Having just arrived back from the Canadian Institute Carbon Management seminar in Vancouver, it seems clear that there is great uncertainty in Canada and around the world in regard to emissions trading. As many people know The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Act (the "Act") has passed all three readings in the provincial legislature and is set to receive Royal Assent and enter into force into Saskatchewan shortly. The Act in Saskatchewan will provide for an emissions trading system that roughly follows that in place in Alberta with a similar technology fund, auditing requirements and will import established Alberta protocols. Mining, oil, gas and independent power projects in Saskatchewan are moving forward with their development plans quickly and we are anticipating an increase in the number of large emitters in the future. Given Saskatchewan has nearly 40% of all the cultivated farmland in Canada, there are also opportunities for generation of zero-till offsets in Saskatchewan and potential trade with Alberta.

To my amazement, the emissions trading system in Saskatchewan was not even mentioned by speakers at the Carbon Management seminar and when the matter was raised there seemed to be little familiarity of the proposed Saskatchewan program. One has to wonder if we cannot even share information within Western Canada regarding emissions trading systems what chance the UN Climate Change talks have of accomplishing much in Durban, South Africa this fall? Given the obvious lack of leadership in Canada and at the federal level in the US, many are hopeful California will lead the way but that remains to be seen.

What does this mean for our emissions trading system in Saskatchewan? Like Alberta, we are going to have to go it alone with little or no support from the federal government, Ontario, Quebec or British Columbia. Alberta has been a good neighbour and has agreed to share information and best practices with Saskatchewan, which is certainly appreciated. Saskatchewan is also is taking steps to ensure that we remain basically harmonized with Alberta but can still join the Western Climate Initiative if an opportunity to materializes.

One thing that is certain however, is that drafting and executing the necessary agreements and managing the contracting process will be a challenge for Saskatchewan lawyers both in-house and in private practice who work with the provincial government, aggregators, landowners, mining, oil and gas companies and large emitters such as SaskPower, but it is a challenge I am looking forward to.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Landfill wind turbines receive approval in UK

Waste Recycling Group (WRG), one of the UK’s largest waste and resource management services companies, received approval to site two wind turbines at its closed Carnaby Landfill site.

The Carnaby Wind Energy Project will see the development of two turbines, each capable of generating up to 3MW of renewable electricity, which together are enough to power more than 2,500 homes. WRG anticipates that construction will commence early in 2012, and that the site will become operational by Summer 2012. The planning application followed a rigorous environmental assessment of the site and months of consultation with the local community.

WRG has six other landfill wind farms planned for development.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Vestas wins 150 MW supply contract in Brazil

Vestas Wind Systems A/S just received an order from Energisa S.A., a unit of Brazilian power provider Energisa Group, to provide 75 units of its 2 MW turbines for installation at five wind farms under development in the Rio Grande Norte area of Brazil. The five projects consist of the following: Ventos de Sao Miguelm, Renascenca I, Renascenca II, Renascenca III, and Renascenca IV. The contract includes the delivery, transportation, installation, and commissioning of the turbines, along with the provision of the VestasOnline supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and a five-year service and maintenance agreement. Deliveries of the turbines are scheduled to begin during the first quarter of 2012, and the projects are expected to be operational by December 2012.

Canada's power grid needs $294 billion CAD investment in coming years

In a report entitled Canada’s Electricity Infrastructure: Building a Case for Investment just released by the Conference Board of Canada, Canada’s power grid will need an annual investment of approximately $15 billion CAD for the next 20 years ($300 000 000 000 Canadian dollars) in order to service old infrastructure and boost power generation from renewable sources like wind, solar and biomass energy.

According to the report, the largest portion of the recommended investment — $195.7 billion CAD — is required for power generation, with another $62.3 billion CAD required to improve the distribution system and $35.8 billion CAD for transmission.

The necessary investments in generation identified in the report include building new plants with renewable energy sources as well as refurbishing, repowering or retiring existing stations.

The report forecasts a continued reliance on both public and private investment in Canada's electrical grid, without recommending specific arrangements.

The full report can be downloaded here: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Shear Wind completes 62.1 MW Glen Dhu wind project in Nova Scotia

Shear Wind Inc. ("Shear Wind") (TSX VENTURE:SWX) announced this morning that the Glen Dhu 62.1 MW wind facility in Nova Scotia (the "Glen Dhu Wind Farm"), has been completed and all turbines have been erected and commissioned. The Glen Dhu Wind Farm is the largest wind energy project in the province of Nova Scotia.

Shear Wind has an aggressive development strategy to advance projects in other provinces and has developed a pipeline of projects which it is awaiting the opportunity to construct. In addition to the Glen Dhu Wind Farm in Nova Scotia, Shear Wind is targeting three other near-term opportunities in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Founded in 2005, Shear Wind is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia and is engaged in the exploration and development of renewable wind energy properties in Canada. Shear Wind is focused on building a strong company based on a secure and sustainable supply of clean wind energy. Shear Wind is committed to building shareholder value governed by environmental stewardship. Inveravante Inversiones Universales, S.L., an international corporation based in Spain, indirectly owns 62% of Shear Wind on a fully-diluted basis and 49% of Glen Dhu Wind Energy Limited Partnership through Genera Avante Holdings Canada Inc., following its investment in Shear Wind in November 2009.

Source: Shear Wind Press Release