Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finnish wind power capacity to continue to increase significantly in 2012

“Now it is almost certain that a number of the sites have already started construction," says the Finnish Wind Energy Association Executive Director Anni Mikkonen.

Last year, wind power development projects fell short of targets set because of the wind power production subsidy forms and regulation changes.

The Finnish Ministry of Labour and the Economy has set up a working group to further identify the factors that hinder the production of wind power in Finland.

Overall wind power capacity will rise to nearly 300 megawatts in Finland in 2012, while 7 projects are already under construction and the park “Tervolan” will be completed shortly.

Tervola Varevaaran is the area where many of Finland's first inland wind farms are located.S-Group and the energy company St1 who own the wind energy company, TuuliWatti announced a multi-million EUR investment in wind farms in Finland last week.
A 30 MW project is expected to reach COD in Finland shortly.

Source: Helsingin Sanomat – January 31, 2012 (E&O excepted due to my poor Finnish translation – sorry)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

RES awarded BOP contract for Halkirk wind project in Alberta

Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc. (RES Canada) has been chosen by Edmonton-based Capital Power LP as the balance-of-plant (BOP) construction contractor for the 150 MW Halkirk wind project currently under construction in central Alberta.

The project is located near the town of Halkirk, 122 km east of the city of Red Deer, and will comprise 83 V90 1.8 MW Vestas wind turbines. Once completed, the wind farm will have the potential to power approximately 50,000 Alberta homes, according to RES Canada.

The Halkirk project is expected to reach COD in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Biomass cogeneration project at pulp mill in Saskatchewan aiming for COD in May 2012

The CEO of SaskPower, the utility purchasing the excess generation and the general manager of P.A. Pulp, the generator, have announced that the two companies intend to have the biomass cogeneration power facility at a pulp mill in Northern Saskatchewan delivering electricity to the grid by late May 2012. Details have not yet been released regarding the generation capacity of the biomass cogeneration plant.

Dale Paterson of P.A. Pulp, said that when negotiating the contract for the recent sale of the pulp mill, part of the agreement was that the mill would provide “green energy” to SaskPower’s grid. “We’re working to generate green energy by (some time in) May,” said Paterson. “We started in September and we‘re about halfway there now. $5 million dollars has been spent on the project (so far) and another $5 million will be spent (in the coming months),” Paterson added. Paterson explained that the pulp mill’s biomass boiler and a turbine will be producing the power generated at the mill. About 21 people who were previously employed by the mill are being hired to provide maintenance on the cogeneration project, Paterson said. The power will be used to operate the mill itself and the excess power will be sold to SaskPower. As well, producing energy is integral to getting the mill ready to produce dissolved pulp in about a year and a half (the third quarter of 2013), as the energy produced on-site will provide much-needed heat for construction crews undertaking the work, explained the mill’s general manager. “We’re very happy to be working cooperatively with SaskPower to have this (project) operational (by May),” Paterson said.

In speaking with Robert Watson, the CEO of SaskPower, Mr. Watson reiterated that the corporation signed an agreement with Paper Excellence (the company that purchased the mill) regarding the co-generation project. “We’ve had meetings with them regarding the timeline and the technical issues involved,” stated Watson. In terms of the technical issues, Watson explained that the distribution of the power must be fine tuned—meaning, the excess energy generated by P.A. Pulp can’t just be pumped onto the grid heedlessly - rather, it needs to be “balanced” or specific areas would be affected and blackouts could occur. “We’re going to accommodate them when they are ready,” said Watson, in reference to the mill’s plan to be producing power by late May. “We have told our employees that we will be accepting power generated at (P.A. Pulp) onto our grid. We need the power, so we are willing to take it (once the mill is able to generate it), said Watson. Watson said that utilizing cogenerated power projects, such as the one with P.A. Pulp, is a cost-effective means of obtaining power. When asked if the Crown corporation had other cooperative projects underway in the province, Watson said there were a few, such as one at Potash Corp’s Cory Potash mine, east of Saskatoon.

It is expected that other mining companies planning to build mines in Saskatchewan such as BHP Billiton, Vale and K & S are also considering onsite cogeneration facilities at their mine sites.

Source: (in part) Prince Albert Herald, January 18, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Canadian developer, Windstream Energy Ltd. selects German manufacturer, Siemens to provide turbines for 300 MW offshore wind project in Ontario

Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc., the development corporation for the Wolfe Island Shoals Offshore wind project in the Canadian province of Ontario has signed a binding agreement with Siemens Canada Limited, to supply up to 130 turbines for its 300 MW offshore wind project on Lake Ontario. The turbine blades will be manufactured at Siemens’ plant located in Tillsonburg, Ontario. Windstream holds the only offshore wind power Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) contract in Ontario, which was awarded by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) in May 2010. The project is planned to be located from 5 to 16 kilometers off the southwest shore of Wolfe Island, in eastern Lake Ontario. By selecting Siemens, Windstream has guaranteed that the Wolfe Island Shoals project will provide more than 50 percent Ontario content. It will create more than 1,900 jobs for the first five years of development, and 175 jobs after construction. “We are very pleased to have entered into a contract for turbines with Siemens Canada. With Siemens’ 140 years of experience in the energy sector, and a global network of highly-skilled employees, we are confident that we have chosen the right supplier”, said Ian Baines, President of Windstream Energy. “Siemens is the world’s leading supplier of offshore wind turbines with over 2 000 MW installed globally offshore. We are planning to use their experience to develop the first offshore wind project in Canada.” he continued. “We are pleased to enter this agreement with Windstream for the Wolfe Island Shoals offshore wind farm and look forward to contributing to the development of Canada´s first offshore wind project,” said Bill Smith, Senior Vice President of Siemens Canada.

Source: (in part) Windstream Energy Inc. Press Release dated January 4, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Saskatchewan to follow Ontario's lead with wind turbine setbacks

Dr. Moira McKinnon, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says that the province will soon see guidelines from Health Canada for how far wind turbines should be from homes.

The national guidelines, which have been circulated in draft form, will closely match those in place in Ontario, where the provincial government spells out a minimum distance of 550 metres, and could stop a patchwork of municipal guidelines from evolving.

Saskatchewan will defer to the federal guidelines, a move that likely won't quell a growing number of anti-wind activists who are calling for more stringent homegrown regulations as the province expands wind power.

"At this stage, they're looking very similar to Ontario," said Dr. McKinnon, Saskatchewan' chief medical health officer. "There will only be minor discrepancies (to Ontario's regulations)."

The issue of wind turbine setbacks has been central to the debate over the 120-metre wind turbine project planned for the Saskatoon landfill. The project was planned to be 780 metres away from the closest residence, a distance McKinnon called "perfectly acceptable" under the standards.

Most Saskatchewan municipalities don't have bylaws in place so wind companies have been negotiating directly with land owners on land lease agreements. The province has advised municipalities to use the Ontario regulations as a guideline, McKinnon said. The Health Canada guidelines will deal with noise and shadow flicker, and will account for the power of the turbine, the size of the blade and the geography of where the wind development is planned, she said.

When the landfill wind turbine report is tabled next Monday at city council, Coun. Pat Lorje says she will call for a moratorium on new wind energy projects in Saskatoon until the province has a standard setback distance in place. Lorje is calling for setback distances of up to two kilometres.

Dr. David Colby, medical health officer in Chatham-Kent, Ont., and a professor of medicine at the University of Western Ontario, said health concerns have been overblown by opponents. There is scientific consensus that setback distances in place in Ontario, some of the most stringent in the world, are more than sufficient. Countless studies and literature reviews have shown there are no direct adverse health effects, though the turbines can be annoying, he said.

"What it all comes down to is basically turbines don't generate enough acoustic energy to adversely effect human tissue," Colby said. "You can't get away from that. The idea that inaudible sound can make you sick is not supported by the scientific community."

McKinnon says the guidelines will be re-evaluated if new evidence comes to light.

"If the public is feeling there are effects we need to look into that," McKinnon said. "There has been an extensive consultation process for these guidelines, but the work doesn't stop in terms of continually examining the evidence."

Setting stringent regulations in law instead of industry guidelines is unnecessary, McKinnon said. The province is set to add 175 megawatts of wind power from one or more independent producers who submitted bids last year and 25 megawatts from smaller-scale projects. Under the plans, wind power would make up 8.5 per cent of SaskPower's total generating capacity.

"The way forward is a partnership with industry," McKinnon said. "The industry is generally willing to comply with guidelines rather than regulations, which involve a lot of taxpayer money."


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Finnish turbine manufacturer WinWinD awarded tender for 50 MW wind park in Northern Finland

WinWinD announced earlier this week that they have won a tender for purchasing project rights of the Myllykangas Wind Park near Kuivaniemi, north of Oulu in Northern Finland. The agreement was signed with Metsähallitus, a state enterprise that administers more than 12 million hectares of state-owned land in Finland.

Competitive procurement processes for a license to develop a wind farm on crown land are rare in Canada. It is quite an innovative model in Finland to have the state act as the initial developer of a project, identify the most suitable site, define the size and parameters of the project and then tender the right to build the project to the highest bidder. This responsibility usually falls to utilities in Canada.

The new wind park will be significant by Finnish standards where wind parks are just now gaining wider approval from Finnish citizens. The nameplate capacity of the Myllykangas Wind Park will be 50 MW, with a maximum of 19 wind turbines located in the area. The total investment in the park is approximately 90 million EUR.

WinWinD will design and build the Myllykangas wind park and aims to start electricity production in the first quarter of 2013.

"The project will have a positive impact on the employment and entrepreneurial activity of the area. The wind turbines for the park will be manufactured in our factory in Hamina, Finland, and the delivery, construction works and servicing will be taken care of by WinWinD’s personnel in Northern Finland together with local entrepreneurs. This way we can maximize local benefits", notes Aarne Luukko, Vice President, Business Development (Finland) of WinWinD.

Source: (in part) WinWinD Press Release dated January 10, 2011

Nipawin Biomass Cellulose Ethanol project overview

Developer: Nipawin Biomass Ethanol New Generation Co‐operative Ltd. (“Nipawin Biomass”)

Location: Town of Nipawin in North-East Saskatchewan, Canada

Type of facility: Biomass cellulose ethanol plant

Strategic Partners:

1. Saskatchewan Research Council (“SRC”)
2. Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc.
3. Shore Gold Inc.

Feedstock: The facility will process non‐merchantable waste timber and local farm fibre (flax/straw) into ethanol. The facility will require approximately 200,000 oven dried metric tonnes of cellulosic fibre per year, approximately two‐thirds of which would come from forest residue supplied by Shore Gold Inc. and the remainder from farmers in the local area. Shore Gold Inc., a mining company developing a nearby diamond mine have entered into an MOU with Nipawin Biomass to deliver the excess trees to the facility to be converted to ethanol. First Nations people and businesses will be involved in the clearing, removal and transportation of the waste wood.

Pre-feasibility Study complete? Yes.

Proposed capacity: 75 million litres/year

Estimated capital budget: $30-50 million CAD

Proprietary technology: Nipawin Biomass and SRC have jointly developed a proprietary conversion technology which will process synthesis gas from waste wood and farm fibre, such as flax fibre or straw, into ethanol and other alcohols.

Why this project is important: The facility will be among the first in the world to convert cellulose into ethanol. The catalytic conversion process developed by Nipawin Biomass and SRC is being integrated into California-based Fulcrum Energy Inc.’s proprietary process for converting municipal solid waste into ethanol. Fulcrum is on track to complete their first plant in 2013 in Nevada and will become one of the first companies to commercially produce ethanol from municipal solid waste.

Current status of project: Nipawin Biomass and SRC signed an agreement in fall 2011 to help complete the cellulosic ethanol plant. The agreement outlines the next series of development requirements for engineering support to advance the design for the Nipawin Biomass cellulose ethanol facility. SRC is currently undertaking this work and a report is expected in 2012.

Next steps: Once Fulcum completes their first plant in Nevada, Nipawin Biomass aims to follow closely behind Fulcrum and to be ready to begin construction of their facility in Saskatchewan within a few months of completion of the Nevada facility.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How fast does the wind speed need to be to build a utility-scale wind farm?

The industry-accepted guideline is currently between 6-6.5 metres/second to generate enough electricity to finance and build a large (i.e. 50 MW +) utility-scale wind farm. By way of example, a wind speed of 6.45 metres/second, which is classified as class 3 or “marginal” in most cases would be sufficient. Of course this depends on many other factors, the most common being the price at which the electricity if purchased and the type of wind turbine utilized. If a utility (and ultimately consumers) are will to pay a slightly higher price for clean energy, utility-scale wind farms can be feasible at 5.5 metres/second. Wind speeds are generally higher in off-shore and in coastal areas but the cost of construction is significantly higher. More efficient wind turbines capable of generating more electricity from lower wind speeds are being developed continually and the amount of electricity capable of being generated from lower wind speeds has been continually increasing over the past few years.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Top 10 Business Issues with Legal Implications in 2012

Canadian national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) has compiled a list of their top 10 business issues with legal complications. BLG is anticipating that both domestic and foreign investors will face challenges and meet opportunities doing business in Canada. From the evolving class action lawsuit to changing Aboriginal consultation requirements and a harder hitting tax man, BLG predicts the issues likely to impact the corporate landscape and dominate headlines in 2012.

1. Keeping the spark alive -- Ensuring foreign investors keep coming back for more

Canada's North was an alluring target for international development companies in 2011 and in fact in October, Fortune magazine ranked Canada No. 1 in its annual look at the Best Countries for Business. Significant investment in the natural resource sector represented a boon for the Canadian economy but our international partners faced Canada's Aboriginal consultation requirements and environmental regulations. What can foreign investors and Canadian natural resource companies do to mitigate red tape and keep these vital projects on the move? This is particularly relevant for wind developers working on projects which may require aboriginal consultation.

2. Financial institutions and the economic recession -- It ain't over 'til it's over

Canada weathered the global recession better than other industrialized countries thanks to our banking system. Not one of our banks required a bailout, our economy grew 3.1 per cent in 2010, and we saw more foreign investors seeking Canadian capital and wanting to do deals. Sounds like we're in the clear! On the contrary. Some say low interest rates, banks spreads, insurer liabilities and pension plan funding could create challenges for Canadian banks and insurers in 2012. How will banks and big businesses cope?

3. We can't predict what the plaintiff class action bar will do next, but at least we can prepare for it

Class action lawsuits kept companies busy in 2011 as this type of lawsuit continued to develop and spring up from every angle. Some companies had incredible success, others were engaged in lengthy trials and others faced certification hearings. From securities to privacy to product liability, it appears that class actions will continue to attract corporate attention in the coming year. Development south of the border may limit the scope of the class action in the United States, but companies operating in Canada will want to follow a series of decisions to be released in Canada in the next 12 months to understand the risk facing their organizations.

4. You can't run or hide -- why you must turn and face the tax man in 2012

After cutting taxes in many countries to boost economies, governments around the world are doing what they can to recover revenues lost during the recession. Canada is no exception and businesses are seeing more frequent and aggressive tax audits. While Canada Revenue Agency has been actively pursuing audits on high net worth individuals for more than a year, companies will now face even greater scrutiny. From grading on non-compliance to assessments of reporting functions, Canadian businesses will feel the heat of the tax man in 2012.

5. Privacy in public forums -- will we ever recover?

It seems like a lifetime ago that we dialed up the Internet, sat through the beeps and whirs and patiently waited for pages to load. What did people do before the Internet and the World Wide Web? For one thing, they maintained their privacy. 2011 brought the launch of facial recognition for Facebook users in the U.S., high-profile cases of defamation liability via Twitter, and job loss for some Vancouver rioters whose photos appeared online. With the terrain changing so rapidly, how will web users protect their privacy in 2012? What will be the effect of: anti-spam legislation, new advertising guidelines for online tracking and evolving rules surrounding Internet/social media defamation?

6. What the frack?

While large-scale commercial production of shale gas has not yet been achieved in Canada, many companies are now exploring for and developing shale gas resources in Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec, and New Brunswick. But fracking -- the use of highly pressurized fluid to fracture rock and release gas and oil from shale fields -- is increasingly controversial. However, in the U.S. alone, fracking is responsible for increasing recoverable resources by 600 trillion cubic feet of gas and seven billion barrels of oil that would not otherwise be accessible. What changes to regulation and legislation are expected in response to community concerns? What direction is Canada going with respect to greater oversight and required consultation?

7. One for the history books: Social media mobilizes civil rights

Around the globe, 2011 will be a year to remember in terms of civil rights activists and political regime protesters using social media to build engagement and mobilize crowds. In fact, Time magazine even named "The Protester" as 2011's Person of the Year. What have we learned from these movements and what can businesses do to protect themselves should a protest movement take place at their front door?

8. Saying sorry without fear of litigation? Apology legislation becomes more prevalent

Thanks to apology legislation, businesses in Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are more likely to come out of a crisis on top. Not only does this legislation allow businesses to express empathy for those affected by a situation, but there is growing evidence that apology laws actually reduce the number of lawsuits and the time required to settle them.

9. Overseas growth sounds attractive. But what about the tax authorities?

International trade and overseas expansion have never been more attainable for Canadian businesses. With continued scrutiny of transfer pricing arrangements, however, businesses must be prepared to meet the reporting and filing requirements of the relevant tax authorities. At the same time, growing businesses should be aware of the expanded exchange-of-information tax treaties and how these multi-jurisdictional relationships can contribute to profitable growth.

10. Canada's green economy: Set to stay the course?

When it comes to the business of renewable energy, Canada is considered a land of opportunity. Favourable pricing and incentive programs have attracted international attention and foreign investment. But in 2011, the provincial government faced much criticism over the Ontario Green Energy Act, the FIT program and renewable energy prices in general. The Green Energy Act will remain under the microscope in 2012 as investors, consumers and governments examine the value of this program and the unconventional process of enacting it. How will this impact Canada's role in the global renewable energy space, the opportunities presented to Canadian and international companies, and the Canadian economy?

Source: (in part) Jan 04, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE and BLG) Press Release

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Norwegian developer Scatec to build 75 MW solar PV project in South Africa

In the first round of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program, global solar PV developer Scatec Solar (based out of Oslo, Norway) has been selected as the preferred bidder on a 75 MW solar PV project in Kalkbult.

“Our experienced team has for the past two years been actively developing project opportunities in this promising market, and we will build on our extensive knowledge base from successfully completed projects all over the world when we now devote ourselves to pioneer South Africa’s renewable energy industry by constructing the first of a series of utility scale solar parks in the country,” said Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solar.

Construction of the project is scheduled to begin in July 2012, and commercial operation is expected to commence by August 2013.

Source: Scatec Press Release