Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Outgoing Cameco CEO slams Germany

It is a rare occasion when the boss of a multi-billion-dollar mining company like Saskatoon-based Cameco gives a tongue lashing to a government, but retiring Cameco CEO Jerry Grandey used part of his swansong earnings call to do just that. To Germany, no less. Criticising what he called a kneejerk reaction to the Japanese nuclear disaster in March, Grandey, the 30-year uranium mining veteran did not mince his words.

“So far the strident voices that oppose nuclear power have had limited effect on shaping public opinion and government policy," he said on a conference call to discuss the group's first quarter results. "The notable exception, of course, is Germany, where weak political leadership has made an illogical and emotional decision to close a number of older nuclear facilities."

He went on to highlight how many of Germany’s neighbours, including France, the Czech Republic and Poland, had decided to continue with their nuclear plans, as had India and China, albeit with a “pause” to apply lessons from the Fukushima-Daichi tragedy.

“The world of energy supply is not such a simple place,” Grandey said, pointing to the rapid urbanisation of countries like China, where energy demand is soaring – requiring a six-fold increase in power generation by 2020.

And while coal, oil and gas previously offered obvious sources of energy, the choice was not so cut-and-dried in a world that needs to cut its carbon-dioxide emissions. All told, Grandey expects the Japanese natural disasters will reduce the net gain in nuclear reactors by 2020 by just 10, and will reduce growth in uranium demand by just 4% a year.

“Very little has changed in the way we see the world,” he affirmed.

Grandey said that both public opinion and government policy had not been nearly as severely affected as by the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl nuclear disasters.

“Following these events, there were few leaders in science, academia or government who spoke in favour of nuclear power, or even dared to suggest it had a future in the global energy mix,” he said. “So far, the strident voices that oppose nuclear power have had limited effect on shaping public opinion and government policy.”

Saskatoon-based Cameco, the biggest uranium producer globally, on Friday posted net earnings $91 million CAD for the first three months of 2011, a 36% drop on the same period the previous year. This was mainly because of weaker performance in its fuel services and electricity businesses, while higher uranium prices offset a 23% production fall. Meanwhile, Cameco marketing and business development VP Ken Seitz said he expected long-term contract prices for the nuclear fuel would hold current levels of around $70/lb. Spot prices fell from over $60/lb before the Japanese disaster to $55,25 this week, in low trading volumes.

“We expect that the spread [between spot and term prices] will narrow. One’s going to move,” commented Seitz, suggesting that it might be spot prices. “Spot price volatility, absolutely, but we think that the term price will hold.”

Cameco gave up 0.5% on Friday in Toronto to trade at $27.52 CAD per share. Grandey retires at the end of the month to be replaced by Tim Gitzel.

Source: Cameco Earnings Call and Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly

Monday, May 30, 2011

India announces market-based trading schemes to encourage renewable energy

The Renewable Energy Certificate (RECs) and Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) schemes are India's most recent move to promote clean energy.

Renewable Energy Certificates

- The program which was launched in February 2011 allows clean energy producers to trade in Renewable Energy Certificates (REC).
- RECs can be bought by companies to meet statutory obligations to purchase a minimum level of renewable energy. One REC represents one megawatt-hour of energy generated from renewable sources, such as wind, solar or biomass, and remains valid for a year.
- A renewable energy producer will have two mutually exclusive options to sell electricity - either sell at a preferential tariff, or at normal rates and use the sale of RECs to help recoup investment costs.
- RECs are meant to be traded in power exchanges in two categories - solar and non-solar. Most of the traded projects under the scheme relate to wind power, although more solar power plants are expected to come on line because of government incentives.
- The price band for solar certificates has been fixed at $264-$374 USD per MW/h, and the band for wind and biomass certificates ranges from $33-$86 USD per unit.
- Major participants include Reliance Energy Trading Ltd, Tata Power, Manikaran Power, Shree Cement and Knowledge Infrastructure Systems Private Ltd.
- In the absence of a National Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), RECs operate within rules crafted by states. Out of 28 states, only 21 states have such obligations, which varies from 2% to 14% of green power.

Perform, Achieve and Trade

- PAT is a market-based mechanism aimed at improving energy efficiency levels in large polluting industries in eight sectors: aluminium, cement, chlor-alkali, fertiliser, iron and steel, pulp and paper, textiles and thermal power.
- About 563 polluting units come under the eight categories, accounting for about 54 percent of the country's energy consumption.
- Identified firms would have to achieve their energy consumption target by 2014 when trading is set to begin after a three-year roll-out period.
- The tradeable energy saving certificates are called Escerts and these are based on a target reduction from the baseline. The number of Escerts issued depends upon the amount of energy saved during a target year.
- The state-run Bureau of Energy Efficiency is setting up the overall framework for the scheme and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) will work as an implementation and monitoring agency.
- The programme, originally supposed to be launched in April 2011, has been delayed as the government and industry negotiate targets for firms.

This is an important global milestone for greenhouse gas emissions trading due to the size of the Indian market. Estimates put the market size for RECs at $1.2 USD billion and PAT market at $16 USD billion in India.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finavera signs interconnection agreements with BC Hydro for 77 MW Wildmare and 47 MW Tumbler Ridge wind energy projects

Finavera and BC Hydro have signed a Standard Generator Interconnection Agreement ("SGIA") for the Tumbler Ridge Wind Energy Project and an Early Engineering and Procurement Agreement ("EEPA") for the Wildmare Wind Energy Project in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

The Standard Generator Interconnection Agreement signed for the Tumbler Ridge Wind Energy Project is the most critical document in the overall process for interconnecting wind power generation to the British Columbia transmission system. The SGIA identifies the responsibilities of both Finavera and BC Hydro and the detailed steps required to interconnect the Tumbler Ridge Wind Energy Project to the BC Hydro Transmission System. The Agreement also confirms the Commercial Operation Date of November, 2012 for the wind farm is achievable. In connection with the signing of the SGIA, Finavera has provided a $500,000.00 CAD Letter of Credit to BC Hydro as security.

For the Wildmare Wind Energy Project, the Company has signed an Early Engineering and Procurement Agreement with BC Hydro. The agreement allows BC Hydro to commence certain permitting, engineering and procurement activities in a timely manner in advance of a full SGIA being executed. The EEPA also assists Finavera in achieving the November, 2013 Commercial Operation Date for the Wildmare Wind Energy Project in advance of entering a full SGIA. The draft of the SGIA for the Project is currently under negotiation, and it is currently anticipated Finavera will enter into the final SGIA in summer of 2011. In connection with the signing of the EEPA, Finavera has provided a $1,000,000.00 CAD Letter of Credit to BC Hydro as security.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

SaskPower announces winners of wind projects at ice rinks

As part of the Self-generated Electricity Demonstration Project for Municipal Ice Rinks SaskPower will be erecting four 50 kilowatt (kW) Seaforth AOC 15/50 wind turbines with a hub height of 30 meters at each of four municipal ice rink sites in the Saskatchewan towns of Central Butte, Eatonia, Shaunavon and Strasbourg. The four communities were among 79 who submitted proposals to take part in the project.

The four turbines will cost $2 million CAD. Capital costs for the demonstration project will be funded by SaskPower including purchase, installation and maintenance costs of the turbine for up to five years. After 5 years all costs will be the responsibility of the municipality including maintenance costs estimated to be $2,500 CAD per year plus travel. Local businesses will be sourced for transport, installation and maintenance during the turbine construction and operation phases.

The wind resources in Saskatchewan are usually at their greatest during the late fall and winter months, when the demand for rink operations are highest. Through grid correlation of wind power, rinks could benefit from self-generated electricity during the operating season, or other high-use times, and receive credit for excess power during periods of reduced demand and the off-season (net metering).

Friday, May 20, 2011

Public information meeting for Tall Wind Turbine Project at Saskatoon landfill

The public is invited to attend a public information meeting on June 7, 2011 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to receive an update about plans for the proposed Tall Wind Turbine project at the Saskatoon landfill. Preliminary results from feasibility studies will be presented at the public information meeting on June 7, 2011 in Saskatoon. The project is proposed as part of a Green Energy Park at the City of Saskatoon landfill that would also include a proposed Landfill Gas and Turboexpander (in conjunction with SaskEnergy) Power Generation facilities. Attendees will be provided with information and hand-outs, and will hear a presentation on this initiative. Following the presentation, attendees will be invited to ask questions and/or provide comments through a facilitated question and answer session with an open microphone.

This is a very valuable and important project for the City of Saskatoon and people of Saskatchewan and I would encourage all interested parties to attend to express your support for this exciting project.

Additional information is available here:


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gamesa gets $2 Billion USD order for 2000 MWs of wind projects in India

Gamesa Wind Turbines Pvt., the Indian unit of Spain's Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA Tuesday received an order valued at $2 billion USD from the local unit of Caparo Energy Ltd. to build 2000 MW of wind power projects in India.

The first phase of the project of about 150 MW will be commissioned by 2012 and the final phase is expected to be completed by 2016.

Global wind energy majors such as Gamesa and Suzlon have turned to fast-growing economies where rising energy requirement is fueling investments in renewables. In India, high fuel prices and the nuclear crisis in Japan earlier this year have reignited interest in renewable energy sources.

"This order underlines the acceptance of wind energy as a viable and profitable solution to meet the increasing appetite among corporates for reducing their carbon footprint and meeting energy needs through sustainable energy sources," said Ramesh Kymal, chairman and managing director of Gamesa in India.

India had wind power capacity of more than 13000 MW as of March 31, 2010, according to the country's renewable energy ministry. India is the world's fifth-largest wind energy producer.

The Global Wind Energy Council, an industry body, expects that by 2020 the South Asian country would have total wind power capacity of at least 46000 MW and up to 65000 MW.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Brookfield Renewable selects Vestas to provide 102 MW in California

Toronto-based renewable energy developer, Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. has executed an agreement with Vestas to supply turbines with a total generating capacity of 102MW for Brookfield’s 102 MW wind energy project in Tehachapi, Kern County, California, USA.

Under the agreement, Vestas will deliver and commission 34 units of the V90-3MW turbine. Brookfield and Vestas also entered into a two year service and maintenance agreement.

The turbines are expected to be delivered in the second half of this year, with commissioning in late 2011.

Brookfield Renewable Power COO of US operations Kim Osmars said that completion of this wind energy project will bring Brookfield's North American wind portfolio to more than 600MW of installed capacity by the end of this year.

Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. in partnership with three First Nations (James Smith Cree Nation, Chakastaypasin Band of the Cree Nation and Cumberland 100A First Nation/Peter Chapman Band) are developing the 250 MW Pehonan run-of-river project in Saskatchewan.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sprott Power Corp. to sell British Columbia hydro projects to unnamed buyer

Canadian renewable energy project-operator Sprott Power Corp. says it has signed a non-binding letter of intent to sell its northwestern British Columbia hydro projects. The company didn't name the buyer or the selling price.

The sale would include the 30 megawatt Anyox Creek Hydroelectric Project and other nearby hydro projects.

"Our counterparty is prepared to invest the time and efforts going forward to successfully develop (Anyox Creek)," said Jeff Jenner, president and CEO of Sprott Power, in a statement.

The sale is expected to close by June 30.

Sprott's assets currently include 28 wind turbines in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Sprott Power Corp. currently has a near-term project under development in Saskatchewan with the provincial utility, SaskPower.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BHP Billiton relocating business unit from Vancouver to Saskatoon

BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company is relocating their Diamonds and Specialty Products business to Saskatoon over the coming months. The move will see 30 additional jobs added to the downtown Saskatoon office, where 69 people currently work. The business unit will manage the construction and operation of the Jansen potash mine, east of Saskatoon, which when operational will be the world’s largest potash mine. The Saskatoon business unit will also operate the Ekati Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories.

A recent Conference Board of Canada Report forecasts that Saskatoon will lead economic growth in Canada in 2011. Saskatoon’s economy is expected to expand at 4.1% - significantly outpacing its nearest competitor, Calgary which is set to grow at 3.4% followed by Regina at 3.1%.

What does this mean for renewable energy developers in Saskatchewan?

Developers who are currently in the SaskPower RFP process for 175 MW should consider establishing a presence in Saskatchewan. The winner (or potentially winners if split into two 87.5 MW projects) of the RFP and their subcontractors will undoubtedly face problems recruiting qualified individuals to undertake the necessary work to construct the wind projects. Competition is already fierce for engineers and construction tradespersons in Saskatchewan and companies like BHP Billiton have significantly more financial resources than renewable energy developers to retain contractors for mining projects. The financial clout of mining companies in paying top dollar for contractors, consultants and equipment will also affect those renewable energy developers who win the SaskPower 50 MW annual lottery - the Green Options Partners Program.

The rapid expansion of the mining sector in Saskatchewan will continue to put significant demands on generation in the province and it is expected that in the future renewable energy will experience strong growth to fill part of the increasing demand from mining.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wisconsin Bill to designate Wuskwatim hydro project in Northern Manitoba as a "renewable resource"

Electricity from Manitoba Hydro's Wuskwatim generating station would be designated as a "renewable resource" under a Wisconsin Bill, making it eligible to export power to the state.

The 200 MW Wuskwatim project is pioneering as it is being developed as an equity partnership between Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and Manitoba Hydro. This is the first time Manitoba Hydro has entered into an equity partnership with a First Nations community on a generating station project of this size. If successful, it is expected that the Wuskwatim project will be a model for other First Nations renewable energy projects in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The Wuskwatim project is scheduled for completion in 2012 at a cost of $1.3 billion CAD.

The new law in Wisconsin will designate large hydroelectric dams, including the Wuskwatim project in Manitoba, as a renewable energy source to help US power utilities meet newly introduced green-power mandates.

The Bill, expected to be passed in June 2011 would make Manitoba Hydro's new Wuskwatim dam the first in the province eligible for a "renewable resource" designation and opens the door for the Crown corporation to sell even more surplus power to Wisconsin.

Manitoba's power-export deal with Wisconsin, first announced in 2008, is worth $2 billion CAD to the province. Manitoba Hydro is working on a similar export deal with Minnesota that is worth almost $3 billion CAD.

Since 2000 Manitoba Hydro had export sales totalling $5.5 billion CAD. If the Wisconsin and Minnesota deals close and Wuskwatim is successfully commissioned with First Nations equity participation, Manitoba Hydro will have secured their position in North America as a true hydroelectric superpower.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Conergy launches solar PV module manufacturing in Canada

Hamburg, Germany based Conergy Group is launching its Conergy ON solar photovoltaic (PV) modules in the Canadian market and has entered a manufacturing agreement in the Canadian province of Ontario to ensure the solar modules are compliant with Ontario feed-in tariff requirements. Conergy Canada's head office is located in Edmonton, Alberta with a Western office in Calgary, Alberta.

Conergy has entered a two-year framework agreement with an undisclosed manufacturing partner in Ontario.

The Ontario solar PV market is expected to double in 2011.

“It is crucial to Conergy, that we can guarantee our customers a dependable volume of Conergy ON modules. The Conergy modules offer long-term performance and yield. They meet the strict Canadian funding guidelines for 2011. The results are obvious: With Conergy ON, we offer our customers the highest possible investment security with excellent return,” says Jared Donald, Head of Conergy Canada.

Andreas Wilsdorf, Chief Sales Officer, adds: “The solar market in Ontario is both challenging and promising. With a product and services portfolio, perfectly tuned to the local market, Conergy continues to strengthen its local position. Our involvement in the region does not stop at the Canadian border. In the USA, we also rely on proximity to our customer base – specifically with our new mounting systems factory in Sacramento, California. With our strong involvement in North America, our growth rate will increase in this important market.”

The full Press Release is here: http://www.conergy.ca/DesktopDefault.aspx/tabid-1368/2014_read-12170/

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nova Scotia Power hits 20% generation from renewables - more planned

Nova Scotia Power says it hit a milestone in electrical generation from wind energy last month.

The private utility, owned by Emera says wind turbine facilities in the province of Nova Scotia generated 250 megawatts of electricity on April 24, 2011 surpassing the previous mark of 235 megawatts set 10 days earlier.

The record represented 20 per cent of the province's electricity generated at midnight on that Sunday.

The earlier peak for wind generation happened at 8 a.m. on a Thursday and Nova Scotia Power says that also accounted for 20 per cent of the electricity generated at that time.

The province has proposed a legislative amendment requiring that 40 per cent of the province's energy needs come from renewable resources by 2020.

The company has said it has plans to increase the number of wind farm projects in the province and to take on more power from independent producers through feed-in tariffs in order to meet provincial targets.

There are more than 100 wind turbines operating in the province of Nova Scotia.

Source: The Canadian Press

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3074 MW Lower Churchill hydro project likely to proceed given results of Canadian election

Last night the ruling centre-right Conservative party obtained a majority in the Canadian parliament while the centre-left NDP party surprised most Canadians and received a sufficient number of seats to make the NDP the number two party in Canada and the official opposition party.

During the campaign, NDP Leader Jack Layton stated that the NDP would back a loan guarantee for the first phase of the $6.2 billion CAD proposed 3074 MW Lower Churchill hydro project. The NDP also stated they would invest $375 million CAD in the Maritime Transmission Link project through the PPP Canada fund ($300 million CAD) and the Green Infrastructure Program ($75 million CAD).

During the campaign the Conservative government announced that if re-elected they will provide financial support for major clean energy infrastructure projects that have regional or national significance across Canada. “Our Government has a strong record of supporting clean energy projects in every region of the country,” Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party Stephen Harper said. “As part of our low-tax plan for jobs and growth, we will consider financial support to projects that are of national or regional importance, have economic and financial merit and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We will do this in a way that is equitable across every region of Canada.” Prime Minister Harper noted that, with these criteria in mind, the Conservative Government will provide a loan guarantee or whatever other financial support is required to build the Lower Churchill hydro project in Newfoundland.

The governing Conservative party seems to prefer an approach which evaluates Federal government funding for clean energy projects on a case-by-case basis and the NDP seem to prefer a detailed national funding plan. In either case, both the governing party and the official opposition clearly and unequivocally support clean energy development in Canada which bodes very well for the future of proposed clean energy projects in Canada.