Friday, March 30, 2012

IPCC releases full report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ("IPCC") released their Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation ("SREX") earlier this week.
“The main message from the report is that we know enough to make good decisions about managing the risks of climate-related disasters. Sometimes we take advantage of this knowledge, but many times we do not,” said Chris Field, Co-Chair of IPCC’s Working Group II, which together with Working Group I produced the report. “The challenge for the future has one dimension focused on improving the knowledge base and one on empowering good decisions, even for those situations where there is lots of uncertainty,” he said.

Some important conclusions delivered by the SREX include:
  • Medium confidence in an observed increase in the length or number of warm spells or heat waves in many regions of the globe;
  • Likely increase in frequency of heavy precipitation events or increase in proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls over many areas of the globe, in particular in the high latitudes and tropical regions, and in winter in the northern mid-latitudes; and
  • Medium confidence in projected increase in duration and intensity of droughts in some regions of the world, including southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil, and southern Africa.
The full 592 page SREX report is available here:

Source: IPCC Press Release

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Denmark aims to get 50% of all electricity from wind power

Denmark aims to supply 35% of its total energy from renewables by 2020 and 100% by 2050.

The Danish government has stepped up its green energy and carbon reduction targets for 2020, hailing the plan as the "broadest, greenest, and most long-term energy agreement" it has ever reached.

Danish minister for climate, energy and building, Martin Lidegaard, confirmed on Friday that parliament had agreed a new set of goals designed to wean the country off oil and gas.

The deal aims to see Denmark cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and decrease energy consumption by more than 12% compared to 2006.

It also aims to supply 35% of its total energy from renewables, with half of its electricity delivered by wind farms. The agreement also covers advances in renewable heat, smart grids, and biogas among other green technologies.

"Denmark will once again be the global leader in the transition to green energy," said Lidegaard. "This will prepare us for a future with increasing prices for oil and coal. Moreover, it will create some of the jobs that we need so desperately, now and in the coming years."

The agreement will help Denmark achieve its goal of supplying 100% of its energy from renewables by 2050, including electricity, heating, industry and transport.

Lidegaard added that the commitments would prevent consumer energy bills from soaring, by reducing the country's dependence on the volatile price of fossil fuels.

The commitment could also provide a boost to efforts across the European Union to increase its carbon emissions reduction target to 30% from the current 20%.

Earlier in March, Poland was the only state to vote against the shift, arguing the EU should wait for other countries to take similar measures first.

Source: The Guardian

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hitachi and SaskPower Announce Partnership to invest $60 million CAD on Test Facility for CO2 Capture Technology in Saskatchewan

Hitachi and SaskPower will jointly construct a Carbon Capture Test Facility ("CCTF") which will be a part of SaskPower’s larger “Clean Coal Project”, which is a comprehensive initiative to select and apply emerging carbon capture technologies to coal fired power plants to manage their emission of greenhouse gases. The CCTF will allow international developers to fully evaluate performance of their systems to capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired thermal power plants.

Hitachi will provide equipment to capture CO2 which will be installed at SaskPower’s 298 MW Shand Power Station, located near the city of Estevan in South-East Saskatchewan. SaskPower and Hitachi will jointly invest $60 million CAD to cover the cost of the project. SaskPower will be the owner/operator of the project. Construction will begin in late 2012 or early 2013, with a scheduled completion date of summer 2014. Hitachi will supply their skilled process development team, as well as core process equipment from their Saskatoon manufacturing facility.

While the demand for electric power is increasing in Canada, power companies are being required to implement countermeasures against global warming, including measures to suppress CO2 emissions, and to reinforce these initiatives, Canada is currently promoting the development of CCS (Carbon Capture & Storage) technology and the implementation of demonstration projects as a national strategy. SaskPower, in line with this initiative, is currently constructing a world leading, large CO2 capture and storage demonstration project at the Boundary Dam Power Station. Hitachi was selected to supply the steam turbine and generator for this carbon capture and storage demonstration project and will build the crucial system that is needed to efficiently supply the steam required for the CO2 capture and storage equipment.

Hitachi began researching and developing technology to capture CO2 in the 1990s and since then, the company has conducted demonstration projects using its own research equipment as well as domestic and overseas pilot facilities. SaskPower’s experience in integrating CCS into commercial projects combined with Hitachi’s expertise in Carbon Capture Technology will contribute to a comprehensive evaluation and demonstration of the equipment’s overall reliability, economic feasibility, and the necessary properties to scale-up to a large, commercial-scale facility. Hitachi will produce and supply its CO2 capture solvent (H3-1) and the main equipment for the facility. Babcock-Hitachi K.K. (President: Tetsuro Wakino) and Hitachi Canadian Industries Ltd. (President and CEO : Tom Kishchuk) located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan will be in charge of production and supply.

Hitachi is also deepening its collaboration with the province of Saskatchewan through exchange activities sponsored by the Japan Coal Energy Center and the Coal Division of the Natural Resources and Fuel Department of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and will further endeavor to contribute to this mission.

The CCTF demonstration project will capture 120 tons/day of CO2 through a chemical scrubbing capture process.

Source: Hitachi and SaskPower Press Releases

Friday, March 23, 2012

Two-year Feed-in-Tariff Review Released by Government of Ontario

The Government of Ontario released their two-year review of the Feed-In-Tariff ("FIT") Program, which included the following recommendations:
  1. the reduction of prices - for solar projects by more than 20% and for wind projects by approximately 15% (see new price table below);
  2. the creation of a point system to prioritize FIT Applications which have demonstrated community or Aboriginal participation and municipal support; and
  3. reserving 10% of the remaining capacity for projects for those projects which have significant local or Aboriginal participation.

Image copyright Government of Ontario

The full text of the Report, which makes for some very interesting reading, is available here:

In the Report, I found this map of feed-in-tariffs globally particularly interesting:

Image copyright Government of Ontario

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ontario ERT decision limits laypersons from testifying about health effects allegedly caused from wind turbines: Case commentary on Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group Inc. v. Director, Ministry of Environment

In Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group Inc. v. Director, Ministry of Environment (Case No. 11-208) the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal ("ERT") limited the ability of laypersons to testify about health effects allegedly caused by proximity to wind turbines without providing medical records or expert opinions to substantiate their testimony.

The Director of the Ontario Ministry of Environment (the "Director") was seeking disclosure of all medical records from doctors and other qualified health practitioners as to the adverse health effects from wind turbines, or in the alternative, a prohibition of the layperson from testifying as to the alleged adverse health effects from wind turbines.

Medical Records

The ERT noted the following in regard to disclosure of medical records to determine if there are adverse health effects from wind turbines:
"Lay witnesses are only permitted to give testimony with respect to facts as they observe them and are not permitted to express opinions on medical diagnoses or the causes of diseases. The usual way of presenting such evidence is through qualified medical experts who are familiar with the medical histories of the individuals and knowledgeable about the etiology of the diseases those individuals suffer from. To this extent, complete medical records of the Appellant's proposed witnesses would appear to be highly relevant to the Appellant's case."
 Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group Inc. did not manage to submit a single medical record to support the alleged claim that wind turbines cause adverse health effects. The ERT comments on this:
"It seems difficult to believe that not one set of medical records has been obtained, or could have been obtained, by this point. Counsel for the Appellant has not provided information about specific requests it has made and the particular obstacles or delays it has faced; rather there is only a series of general claims about the length of time it usually takes to get medical records."
Devaluation of Property & Noise

For those wind opponents planning to raise similar unfounded allegations regarding devaluation of property and noise due to wind turbines, the ERT stated:
"Similar considerations apply to real estate records, noise assessments and all other relevant documents."
Adjournments and Delays

Often wind opponents will attempt to draw out the document disclosure process and try to obtain additional time and adjournments to collect medical records (mainly because they do not exist). The ERT also provided some guidance in this regard:
"...a lengthy adjournment to gather complete medical records for each witness is not appropriate. The Appellant knew of the time constraints on REA appeals when it filed its Notice of Appeal. More than two months later, it has provided no explanation for its inability to obtain a single medical record for any of the witnesses it proposes to call."
Summary of Evidence
The ERT also opined on a what constitutes a proper summary of evidence. The Appellant had summarized their evidence by stating that "18 individuals live in close proximity to an industrial wind turbine and have suffered serious health effects." The ERT rejected this summary and stated:
"It is not sufficient at this point, on the eve of the Hearing, to say only, for each of approximately 18 individuals, that he or she 'lives in close proximity to an industrial wind turbine' project and has suffered 'serious health effects.' Specific, relevant facts, such as the location where each individual lives in relation to a turbine project, information about each wind turbine project, measured noise levels at each location, and the specific symptoms and particular medical conditions suffered by each individual, must be stated in the summary of evidence."

Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group Inc. v. Director, Ministry of Environment is a solid Canadian precedent which addresses those wind opponents who are claiming adverse health effects from wind turbines but have no medical evidence to support their claim. Unfortunately there are many such claims clogging the courts and administrative tribunals across Canada. This decision is clear that it is not adequate to simply include testimony of laypersons who claim to suffer health effects from living near wind turbines - medical evidence is required. As most of us know, no such medical evidence exists and claims of adverse health effects from wind turbines have been entirely unsubstantiated by medical evidence.

The full text of the decision is here:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Finavera Tumbler Ridge Wind Project in Peace River Region of British Columbia Moves Forward

The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office has completed its review of Vancouver-based Finavera Wind Energy's proposed 47 MW Tumbler Ridge Wind Energy Project in the Peace River region of North-Eastern British Columbia and referred the application to the province's environment and energy ministers for a decision.

Finavera Wind Energy President and COO Peter Leighton stated that, “The Tumbler Ridge application is the result of several years of environmental studies, First Nations and community consultation, and detailed analysis of potential impacts. The review process with the Environmental Assessment Office is now complete and we look forward to a positive decision from the provincial government. Finavera is confident the project can be built with minimal environmental impacts and would deliver clean, renewable electricity to British Columbians. An Environmental Assessment Certificate, combined with a long term power purchase agreement with BC Hydro that is already in place, would allow the project to move forward towards construction in late 2012.”

Monday, March 19, 2012

SaskPower CEO, Robert Watson on the future of renewable energy in Saskatchewan

SaskPower CEO, Robert Watson commenting on the furture of renewable energy in Saskatchewan and the new 177 MW Chaplin Wind Energy Project to be developed by Algonquin Power:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Obama Attacks Renewable Energy Critics

In a speech earlier today in Washington, US President Barack Obama ridiculed critics of renewable energy sources, calling them "naysayers" and comparing them to the "flat-earthers of yesteryear". Obama went on to state that "a lot of the folks who are running for a certain office who shall go unnamed, they've been talking down new sources of energy, They dismiss wind power. They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. They were against raising fuel standards. I guess they like gas-guzzlers." Obama's recent statements seem to indicate increased funding for renewable energy projects in the US if he gets in for a second term.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Nations Renewable Energy Projects in Canada - Expert Counsel Critical to Success

The land-claim controversy in Caledonia, Ont., is just one of the cases to which aboriginal law expert Thomas Molloy has applied his expertise. - The land-claim controversy in Caledonia, Ont., is just one of the cases to which aboriginal law expert Thomas Molloy has applied his expertise. | Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
The key to success of your renewable energy project on First Nations land or in partnership with First Nations is expert counsel.

Here is an excerpt from today's issue of the Canadian national daily newspaper, the Globe and Mail:

Aboriginal law expert Thomas Molloy moves to Miller Thomson

With tensions between native bands and resource companies showing few signs of going away, Miller Thomson LLP has hired one of Canada’s pre-eminent experts in aboriginal law.

The firm has added to its Saskatoon office Thomas Molloy, a lawyer with 40 years experience in native land claims, acting for the federal government in the 1999 creation of Nunavut.

He was instrumental in the landmark Nsiga’a treaty in British Columbia, and acts for the Ontario government in the land-claim controversy in Caledonia, Ont. He has also acted for resource companies and utilities in their dealings with first nations.

Mr. Molloy said he left his old firm, MacPherson Leslie and Tyerman LLP, for Miller Thomson because of the national platform his new firm offers.

Despite recent headlines about confrontations with mining firms over land rights in Ontario, he said progress is being made. It’s just more difficult to see, since crises, blockades and legal battles usually hog the attention.

“It’s easier to get a story when there’s a demonstration … going on,” Mr. Molloy said. “When progress is being made, not much is reported, because people are just working. It’s sort of business as usual.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thanks to all who made the District Energy Seminar in Stockholm, Sweden a Great Success

Many thanks to Ambassador H.E. Mr. Kenneth Macartney, Inga-Lill Olsson and all the staff at the Canadian Embassy in Stockhom for putting on a great district energy event in Stockholm.

Special thanks to the many Swedish participants in the district energy industry which made this event a great success. I look forward to hearing from you regarding your proposed and current district energy projects in Canada.

Thanks also to Mary-Ellen Richardson, President of the District Energy Association of Canada and Ted Sheldon of the British Columbia Ministry of Environment.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gamesa makes first Canadian sale - Algonquin to purchase projects from Gamesa

Gamesa Technology Corporation ("Gamesa") of Spain will supply five of its G97, 2 MW turbines to Saturn Power's Gesner Wind Farm, located near the northern shore of Lake Erie between Chatham-Kent and London in the Canadian province of Ontario. The turbines will be installed by mid-2012. "This is a new milestone for Gamesa. The Canadian wind market offers abundant opportunities, and Gamesa has the advanced technology products to bring this clean energy to market in a cost-effective way to benefit local consumers," says vice president of sales for North America, David Takash.

Last week Gamesa agreed to sell four U.S. wind projects to Canadian electricity provider Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. for almost $900 million USD. The wind projects are located in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Texas and Illinois and will have 240 Gamesa-made turbines with a total generating capacity of 480 megawatts. The transaction between Gamesa and Algonquin will need regulatory approval from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which may take about 45 days. Additionally, both companies reached an agreement to develop future wind projects in the U.S. and Canada. Gamesa will operate and maintain the projects for a term of 20 years.

Friday, March 9, 2012

District Heating Project in Saskatoon?

Could SaskPower, Saskatoon Light & Power and the City of Saskatoon work together to build the first large-scale thermal district heating project in the province of Saskatchewan?

Queen Elizabeth Power Station

The Queen Elizabeth II Generation Facility (QEII) is owned by SaskPower, the provincial utility in Saskatchewan. An overview of the QEII follows below:
  • Originally named the South Saskatchewan River Generating Station; renamed and officially commissioned in 1959 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
  • Natural gas-fired station located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Three original units with a combined generating capacity of 218-net MW
  • Of the original three units, two units had a combined generating capacity of 123-net MW
  • The third original unit had a generating capacity of 95-net MW and was commissioned in 1971
  • Six 25-MW combustion gas turbines, along with systems to produce additional electricity from waste heat, were commissioned in June 2002; the combined-cycle technology adds 150 MW of supply and reduces our greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equal to emissions from 30,000 cars!
  • Three natural gas turbines were added in 2010. Each one provides 36-net MW for a total of 108-net MW
  • Total generating capacity 430-net MW
The QEII is just on the edge of the City of Saskatoon boundary.

Saskatoon Light & Power controls the distribution grid in the City of Saskatoon in the city's original 1958 boundaries which includes the energy-intensive downtown core. It would seem that a district heating project in the Northern part of the downtown core may be feasible.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

District Energy Seminar in Copenhagen a Success

Many thanks to Ambassador Peter Lundy, Suzanne Steensen and all the staff at the Canadian Embassy in Denmark for putting on a great district energy event.

And special thanks to the many Danish participants in the district energy industry which made this event a great success. I look forward to hearing from you regarding your proposed and current district energy projects in Canada.

Friday, March 2, 2012

S & P green lights Algonquin Power's 177 MW Chaplin Wind Project in Saskatchewan: Chaplin Project has "no merchant risk"

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services announced that its ratings on Algonquin Power Co. ("APCo") are unaffected by the company's announcement of the 177 MW Chaplin Wind Project in Saskatchewan. The project has no merchant risk, as APCo will sell all energy production under a 25 year power purchase agreement with SaskPower, which is wholly owned by the Province of Saskatchewan. In 2011 Standard & Poor's upgraded Saskatchewan's credit rating to the highest level possible. For the first time in Saskatchewan's history, the credit rating is at the AAA level.

Algonquin's target construction completion for the Chaplin project is December 2016 with an estimated capital cost of $355 million CAD. It is assumed that Algonquin will finance the Chaplin Project with about 50% equity and 50% debt, consistent with its long term target capital structure. Based on this, Standard & Poor's continues to believe that parent Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. will achieve target ratios of adjusted funds from operations-to debt of 15%-20%, with about 40%-50% of its consolidated cash flows supported by regulated cash flows from its other subsidiary, Liberty Utilities Co.

Standard & Poor's has confirmed what Algonquin and other developers have known for some time - Saskatchewan is ideally suited for utility-scale wind projects having one of the best onshore wind regimes in Canada, a stable and well-developed regulatory system and a utility controlled by the province with the highest credit rating possible. With the addition of the 177 MW Chaplin Project to the Saskatchewan grid in 2016, wind will make up 8.5% of the generation mix in Saskatchewan. However, given Saskatchewan's voracious demand for electricity due to the increase in large mining projects in the province it is expected that new gas-fired baseload generation will bring this figure down closer to 5% post 2016.

Source: (in part) Reuters and S & P release

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Talvivaara receives approval to recover uranium for Cameco

The Finnish government announced today that Talvivaara Mining Company Plc has received approval to recover uranium from their existing nickel mine in Sotkamo, Finland. Talvivaara is building a separate uranium extraction circuit at the Sotkamo mine to facilitate recovery. The uranium extraction circuit still requires approval from the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). The operation also requires approval from the Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI) for Northern Finland.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Cameco has executed two agreements with Talvivaara. Under the first agreement with Talvivaara, Cameco will provide an up-front investment, to a maximum of $60 million USD to cover the construction cost of the uranium extraction circuit. Cameco’s capital contribution will be repaid through the initial deliveries of uranium concentrates under the first agreement. Once the capital is repaid, Cameco will purchase the uranium concentrates produced at Sotkamo through a second agreement that ends on December 31, 2027. The second agreement will provide Talvivaara payments for the uranium, based on a formula that references market prices at the time of delivery.

Cameco has and will continue to provide technical assistance to Talvivaara in the design, construction, commissioning and operation of the uranium extraction circuit to be constructed at the Sotkamo operation.

Source: Helsingin Sanomat - with thanks again to my wife, Minna-Riitta for the translation