Elon Musk (Tesla) we love you!

Dear readers,

I am not so naive I think this announcement is as philanthropic as it first seems. Tesla are constructing the worlds biggest battery factory and open-sourcing their patents allows other manufacturers to develop EVs using their designs which would lead to orders for Tesla batteries.

However, by and large everyone is a winner with this patent release and I cant but smile at his reasons for doing so, a very big smile!

We love you Elon Musk!

Richard Kingston

All Our Patent Are Belong To You

By Elon Musk, CEO
TAGS: CUSTOMERS / MODEL S /

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.

At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

Elon Musk, Tesla

Spanish island to be fully powered by wind, water. Is this a map for Aran?

Wind turbines are pictured near the upper reservoir of the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File Wind turbines are pictured near the upper reservoir of the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

The smallest and least known of Spain’s Canary Islands, El Hierro, is making a splash by becoming the first island in the world fully energy self-sufficient through combined water and wind power.

A wind farm opening at the end of June will turn into electricity the gusts that rake the steep cliffs and green mountains of the volcanic island off the Atlantic coast of Africa.

Its five turbines installed at the northeastern tip of El Hierro near the capital Valverde will have a total output of 11.5 megawatts — more than enough power to meet the demand of the island’s roughly 10,000 residents and its energy-hungry water desalination plants.

Although other islands around the world are powered by solar or wind energy, experts say El Hierro is the first to secure a constant supply of electricity by combining wind and water power and with no connection to any outside electricity network.

The lower reservoir and hydropower station at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File The lower reservoir and hydropower station at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Surplus power from the wind turbines will be used to pump fresh water from a reservoir near the harbour to a larger one at volcanic crater located about 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level.

When there is little or no wind, the water will be channelled down to the lower reservoir through turbines to generate electricity in turn.

“This system guarantees us a supply of electricity,” said the director of the Gorona del Viento wind power plant, Juan Manuel Quintero who is supervising final tests before the plant starts functioning in a few weeks.

The plant will account for 50 percent of the island’s electricity demand when it is officially inaugurated at the end of June, a figure that will rise to 100 percent over the following months.

The scheme will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 18,700 tonnes per year and eliminate the island’s annual consumption of 40,000 barrels of oil.

Emplyees work in the pump room at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File Emplyees work in the pump room at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

El Hierro will maintain its fuel oil power station as a back up, just in case.

- ‘World pioneer’ -

The island is cited as a pioneering project by IRENA, the international organisation for renewable energy, and other experts such as Alain Gioda, a climate historian at France IRD science research institute.

“The true novelty of El Hierro is that technicians have managed, without being connected to any national network, to guarantee a stable production of electricity, that comes 100 percent from renewable energy, overcoming the intermittent nature of the wind,” he said.

El Hierro’s wind power plant has sparked interest from other islands seeking to follow its example.

A Turbogenerator set (L) and a lubrication (blue) at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File A Turbogenerator set (L) and a lubrication (blue) at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Officials from Aruba, Hawaii, Samso in Denmark, Oki in Japan, and Indonesia have all shown interest.

“It is a project which is considered at the world level as a pioneer and it is one of the most important in the production of renewable energy,” said the president of island’s local council, Alpidio Armas.

“El Hierro can be a sort of laboratory,” he added, providing an example to other islands around the world which are home to around 600 million people.

El Hierro, the westernmost of Spain’s Canary Islands, has also been invited to present its project at several international conferences, including in Malta and South Korea.

- Electric vehicles -

A recharging point for electric vehicles at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

Desiree Martin/AFP/File A recharging point for electric vehicles at the Gorona power station on El Hierro island on March 28, 2014

El Hierro wants to extend its environmental credentials even further by ensuring that by 2020 all of its 6,000 vehicles are run on electricity thanks to an agreement with the Renault-Nissan alliance.

The wind power plant cost 80 million euros ($110 million) to build.

The island authorities own 60 percent of the plant, with 30 percent held by Spanish energy company Endesa — a subsidiary of Italian group Enel — and 10 percent by a local technology institute.

“We wanted to be the owners of the majority of the plant. That means that the profits as well as the possible losses, that is the destiny of Gorona del Viento, is the responsibility of the residents of the island,” said Armas.

Revenues from the plant will boost the island’s budget by about one to three million euros per year, he said.

“These are revenues that can go to the local residents, to subsidise water prices, infrastructure, social policies,” he said.

El Hierro, designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve with 60 percent of its territory of 278 square kilometres (107 square miles) protected to preserve its natural diversity, also hopes its green energy drive will draw visitors interested in nature and science.

“We cannot turn down the benefits that tourism brings, but we don’t want mass tourism,” said Armas.

ABB Announces Power-One Inverter Rebranding Amidst Apparent Stop-Shipment

 

 

KRE’s supplier of inverters has changed branding; nothing different under the lid though!Abb=Powerone

Power technology group ABB made a $1 billion solar commitment with its purchase of the number-two solar PV inverter manufacturer Power-One in April 2013. Last week, the Swiss company announced that it finalized the integration, and all Power-One components will now display ABB branding. However in the same week, RenewableEnergyWorld.com caught wind of a supposed global stop-ship on all Power-One Trio string inverters.

According to Paulo Casini, vice president of marketing, ABB has gradually shifted procedures to fully take on the Power-One brand. This year-long acquisition process was done to satisfy customers and abate market confusion. The Power-One technology will remain exactly the same, said Casini.

“We wanted to make sure the customer base knows nothing is changing in terms of the [quality] of the product…and make sure there was no misunderstanding,” explained Casini. “We allowed enough time…to change the brand, but we also have evidence that the product did not change and will still be Power-One without creating concern or distress in market.”

However, according to an ABB customer, a 60-day global stop shipment on all Power-One Trio (1000-V DC) inverters due to a “hardware-based manufacturing flaw” was implemented early last week, at exactly the same time as the rebranding announcement.

When asked about the halted shipment, Casini said that ABB “had to take care of something,” but it has “nothing to do with the ABB acquisition.” ABB has stopped shipment to ensure “the quality of the product is at an excellent level of standard to ensure that customers are not affected by any technical issues.”

“The issue has been fixed,” according to Casini, but he would not elaborate on the specific issue or whether the stop-shipment is still in effect. When ABB was asked for further information, it repeatedly refused to comment.

Casini stressed that rebranding is simply the last step in the Power-One transition process, and “ABB is in the solar market to stay…[it is] looking at solar as a key market for growing and success moving forward.”

Green Paper on Energy Policy- Deadline for consultation is 31 July!

This is important- policies are changing- have a voice!

KRE will be shouting loudly for you. Richard

Image courtesy of Richard Kingston Photography archives

Image courtesy of Richard Kingston Photography archives

Dublin, 12 May 2014

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources today launched the Energy Policy Green Paper for Ireland marking the beginning of a ten week public consultation on the future shape of Ireland’s energy policy.

The Minister’s speech at the launch can be found www.dcenr.gov.ie/greenpaperspeech and the Green Paper Consultation can be accessed www.dcenr.gov.ie/greenpaper.

Ireland faces significant inter-related challenges in relation to climate change, energy sustainability, security, and competitiveness. These can be addressed by transforming Ireland’s economy from one based on a predominantly imported fossil fuel to a more indigenous low carbon economy centred on energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart networks.

The Government is determined to ensure that the needs of the citizens of Ireland are also at the core of this necessary transition. Energy infrastructure must benefit society as a whole and everybody should be able to afford to adequately heat and light their home. Giving consumers more control over their energy choices by providing them with options through efficiency programmes and promoting real and active competition will empower consumers to make decisions that can benefit them.

Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte T.D., today urged members of the public to engage in the public consultation process on our future energy policy before the deadline of 31st July 2014 saying:

Any discussion on energy takes place within a complicated framework of competing and interconnected energy priorities but also across all sectors of the economy. It is timely to take stock and question the reasoning behind our energy policy approaches. The Energy Policy Green Paper recognises the complexity of the energy landscape and the importance of pursuing policies beyond competitiveness, sustainability and security of supply that recognise the significance of energy policy’s contribution to promoting economic recovery”.

The Minister added

A progressive energy agenda is needed. We are embarking on a new avenue of ending our energy island isolation, reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels and strengthening our leadership position in niche areas of energy technology expertise. It is therefore timely to take stock and question the reasoning behind our energy policy approaches, ensuring that we proceed on an evidence-based approach, in order to set a fresh example for meaningful energy policy discussion and on-going dialogue in shaping a new policy framework for the years to come.

ENDS

Additional Information

The Energy Policy Green Paper identifies a range of issues that need to be addressed to meet existing and future challenges. The Paper identifies the following six priority areas for discussion:

Priority 1: Empowering Energy Citizens

Priority 2: Markets, Regulation and Prices

Priority 3: Planning and Implementing Essential Energy Infrastructure

Priority 4: Ensuring a Balanced and Secure Energy Mix

Priority 5: Putting the Energy System on a Sustainable Pathway

Priority 6: Driving Economic Opportunity

There will be a full public consultation process as well as a targeted stakeholder consultation on each of the priority areas. All submissions received will be considered and policy options developed with a view to the publication of a new Energy Policy White Paper. The public consultation process, along with the relevant stakeholder engagement, will contribute significantly to the development of the Energy White Paper.

Submissions, in electronic form, may be made to the following dedicated mailbox:

GreenPaper@dcenr.gov.ie

Tesla’s Battery Plant Boosted as Panasonic Signs Letter of Intent

Elon Musk’s plans for a battery plant so big it will cut the cost of lithium-ion cells for Tesla Motors Inc. electric cars by 30 percent are advancing as Panasonic Corp. signed a letter of intent to join the project.

Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer and main shareholder, disclosed Panasonic’s growing interest in his “gigafactory” battery plant yesterday in a conference call to discuss first- quarter earnings. The Osaka, Japan-based electronics maker, Tesla’s main supplier of battery cells, expressed hesitancy in March about investing in the factory.

“We’re actually quite comfortable that we’re heading toward a final agreement sometime later this year,” JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technology officer, said on the call. Groundbreaking on one of at least two possible factory sites may happen as early as next month, Musk said.

Musk has pinned his growth ambitions for Tesla to the new plant, which the company estimates will cost as much as $5 billion to build and eventually employ 6,500 people. The Palo Alto, California-based company has said it will both cut electric vehicle costs with cheaper batteries and produce power storage devices for homes and buildings with solar panels to curb electricity use from the grid.

Tesla has said Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas are possible factory sites and that it will break ground in at least two states. California is being looked at as another option, though its selection is “improbable,” Musk said. While Panasonic will be the only cell supplier at the factory, Tesla may buy cells from other suppliers, Musk said, without elaborating.

Quarterly Results

Chieko Gyobu, a spokeswoman at Panasonic, confirmed the letter of intent by e-mail.

“We are talking to Tesla about joining the gigafactory,” Gyobu said. “We’ll discuss details going forward.”

Tesla fell after the close of regular Nasdaq trading when the company reported first-quarter Model S sales growth that was below top-of-the-range analyst estimates. The shares declined 7.6 percent to $186 at 7:59 p.m. New York time.

Quarterly deliveries rose to 6,457 cars from about 4,900 a year earlier. While that exceeded the average of seven analyst estimates, it was less than the highest estimate of as much as 6,600. Tesla said tight battery supply restrained growth and will continue through the current quarter.

The delivery result “beat, but not by as much as people expected them to beat,” said Andrea James, an equity analyst at Dougherty & Co., who rates Tesla a buy. “Overall these look like good results.”

Expansion Drive

Excluding some items, Tesla earned 12 cents a share in the quarter, the company said in a statement. That matched the adjusted profit that the company reported a year earlier and exceeded the 7 cents-a-share profit average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

On a GAAP basis, Tesla lost 40 cents a share and said its net loss was $49.8 million.

The youngest publicly held U.S. carmaker has been expanding since its first profit a year ago sent the stock soaring. Tesla shares rose fourfold last year and are up 34 percent this year through yesterday. The company started selling cars in Europe last year and in China last month. Sales in Asia weren’t reflected in the first-quarter results.

Yesterday’s share-price drop may reflect the “overall market weighting and expectations of a bigger delivery number next quarter,” said Ben Kallo, an equity analyst with Robert W. Baird, who rates Tesla outperform. “Operating expenses continue to increase, but that’s to be expected for such rapid growth.”

Tight Supplies

Tesla said in February that tight supplies of batteries and China-bound shipments of Model S, priced from $71,000 in the U.S., would hold quarterly deliveries to 6,400 vehicles. Battery-cell supply will constrain production through the first half before easing in the third quarter, Musk said.

The company said it will be marginally profitable on a non- GAAP basis in the second quarter, even as research and development costs rise 30 percent from the first quarter.

While the company said it had no revenue in the quarter from California zero-emission vehicle credit sales, it generated $12 million from selling credits related to U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations.

Tesla also had a charge in the first quarter of $2 million to retrofit Model S battery packs with titanium shields for extra safety in the event of a crash. Tesla forecast a “slightly” negative cash flow for the year.

The company is now making 700 Model S cars a week at its factory in Fremont, California, near San Francisco. By the end of the year, Tesla expects to assemble 1,000 vehicles a week.

Plant Modifications

The Fremont plant will be idled for about 10 days in July for a planned retooling intended to boost assembly speed, Musk said. Even with that temporary shutdown, Model S deliveries will reach at least 35,000 this year, he said.

In the second quarter, Tesla said production will probably rise 13 percent to 19 percent from the first three months of the year, with deliveries increasing to about 7,500. The company forecasts being marginally profitable on an adjusted basis for the April-to-June period. Adjusted gross margin may increase slightly from the first quarter’s 25.4 percent.

Deliveries of Model S cars with right-hand drive begin in the U.K. in June, with Hong Kong and Japan to follow, the company said. Tesla said it wants to expand its business in China as fast as possible, including the installation of a large supercharger network.

Design prototypes of Tesla’s Model X crossover-utility vehicle may be ready in the fourth quarter, the carmaker said.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg

Run-of-River Hydropower Market Worth €1 Billion in 10 Years, Says Dutch Expert

Kingston Renewable Energy image, river,

Tocardo International BV, a Dutch maker of turbines that generate power from water, said the market for installing its devices in rivers may be worth as much as 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in 10 years’ time.

“The advantages of river-turbine projects are you don’t need to build infrastructure, they’re easy to install and maintain and they can be easily connected to the local grid,” Hans van Breugel, general director of the Den Oever, Netherlands-based company, said in an e-mail. “Within a year you can start installing these projects, whereas hydropower projects can take 12 to 15 years.” The market is worth “several tens of millions” of euros now, he said.

Tocardo plans to exploit the growing market for clean electricity as countries worldwide strive to curb polluting greenhouse gas emissions, boost energy security and meet renewable-energy targets. Harnessing power from water is more predictable than sun and wind energy.

Tocardo is currently selling turbines to Asian customers and expects its next markets to be in South America, particularly Chile, Brazil and Argentina, he said. It’s currently looking for potential project sites and is working to establish partnerships with local developers that can help with permitting and financing, Van Breugel said.

“We need to find the right project developer and partners,” he said. “Partners with credibility, engineering and technical expertise, and who have a good standing in the community.” Tocardo already has agreements in place with Repsol SA and Climex BV, a unit of Rabobank Group.

The company, which has a testing facility in the Netherlands, has already supplied turbines for a river project in Nepal. Its facilities are typically 500 kilowatts to 1 megawatt and the technology already is cost-competitive with fossil fuels, Van Breugel said. Other targets for its technology include North America, Asia and the Himalayas.

Cpoyright 2014 Bloomberg

Mapping the World One Small Hydropower Plant at a Time

 

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Centre on Small Hydro Power (ICSHP) announced last month that they have launched a new web-based knowledge-sharing portal on small hydropower. The purpose of the portal is to hopefully make it easier for developers, policymakers and other interested stakeholders to access data about the vast potential of small hydropower.

According to the organizations, there are currently 75 gigawatts (GW) of installed small hydropower capacity worldwide compared to a 173-GW potential meaning that more than 50 percent of the world’s potential small hydropower capacity is still untapped.

In addition to offering insight into the world’s small hydropower installed capacity, the database, which can be found here- (http://www.smallhydroworld.org/) contains 20 regional overviews and 149 country-level reports. For example it shows that North America has already tapped 86 percent of its potential capacity for small hydro whereas regions such as Central and Eastern Asia have developed less than four and twenty percent, respectively.

“Small hydropower is one of the most suitable energy solutions for fostering inclusive and sustainable industrial development,” said Diego Masera, head of UNIDO’s Renewable and Rural Energy Unit, in a statement.

In the forward to the 2013 World Small Hydropower Development Report (WSHPDR), Chen Lei, Chinese Minister of Water Resources and Honorary Chairman of the International Network of Small Hydropower, writes that developing countries who possess vast small hydro potential but little technological know-how will benefit from the Small Hydropower World website. “Blessed with huge hydro potentials yet hindered by low level of development, developing countries still face a huge gap in terms of hydropower technology and equipment manufacturing,” he wrote.  Publishing frequent and factual information on small hydropower, he explained, “promote[s] modern concepts, updated technologies and latest approaches and experiences about small hydropower, in order to create opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation, while highlighting it as a green and clean renewable energy to serve world development.”

To that end, UNIDO and ICSHP are collaborating with national institutions to facilitate continuous monitoring and collection of small hydropower data and are actively reaching out to potential partners to provide up-to-date information. The changes will be reflected regularly on the website.

 

Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Hydropower 2014 Outlook: Hydro Industry To Expand Its Global Reach

Hydropower is all set to continue its resurgence given the trends in investment across the world.

by David Appleyard

LONDON — For decades large-scale hydropower developments have been viewed as something of a pariah within the renewable energy sector. Indeed, despite an acknowledged contribution to sustainable energy development — hydropower’s global kWh contribution dwarfs all other renewable technologies — it has largely been excluded from considerations that benefit other forms of renewable power generation and has weathered widespread criticism over projects deemed unsustainable.

All that is changing though, and today the prospects for large-scale hydropower development look better than they have for decades. According to the latest figures available from the International Hydropower Association (IHA), some 30 GW of new hydropower capacity were commissioned in 2012, including about 2 GW of pumped storage. Naturally this scale of development has been accompanied with significant investment in all regions, notably South America, Asia and Africa.

On the back of these figures the IHA identifies three clear trends that are expected to see both investment and development growth for the hydropower sector in the coming years.

Top of the list is the continued drive for regional development where the increasing demand for secure supplies of both power and water places hydropower in the sweet spot for international collaboration designed to manage water and develop power systems across national boundaries. As a result, hydropower is both supporting and benefiting from a general trend of building transmission lines between countries and the pooling of power across borders.

An example comes from Central America and its Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC) project connecting the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama with an 1800-km transmission line. The region has significant hydropower potential but large scale investment and development has been hampered by the small size of the individual local markets. With an investment of US$405 million, funded primarily by loans from the Inter-American Development Bank, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration and Corporación Andina de Fomento, the SIEPAC development opens up opportunities to trade both regionally and into the large markets of neighbouring Columbia and Mexico.

The 300-MW interconnector was fully commissioned mid-2013 and has accompanied a wave of hydropower development. For instance statistics provided by Panama’s Empresa de Transmision Electrica S.A. show the country’s installed hydro capacity grew by more than 13 percent in 2012, some 282 MW of additional power. The increase, in the context of Panama’s 2.43 GW of total installed capacity, is attributed to a number of new run-of-river hydropower projects that came online or received upgrades.

Included in that figure are the 5.35-MW El Fraile, 25.8-MW Gualaca, 33.8-MW Lorena, 56.8-MW Bajo de Mina, 88.2-MW Baitun, 13.1-MW Hidropiedra and 58.7-MW Prudencia projects.

Another regional example, though on a significantly larger scale, comes from the 2375-km Rio Madeira transmission project in Brazil. Claimed as the longest power transmission lines in the world, it is connecting 6,450 MW of hydropower projects in Porto Velho region of the Amazon — the Santo Antônio and Jirau Dams on the Madeira River — to the large heavily populated cities of the south. Due for final completion this year, this 7,100-MW, 600 kV HVDC line began commercial operations in the middle of 2013 and in the December, Alstom won a contract to supply additional generation equipment to Santo Antonio, bringing the entire plant to 3,568 MW. This new part of the project will be concluded in December 2016, Alstom says.

The Rio Madeira transmission project is the longest power transmission line in the world.  Credit: ABB.

New Investment in Hydro

A second key trend identified by the IHA is the increasingly global nature of hydropower investment. Examples come from South Korea’s investment in Pakistan.

In 2012, according to Pakistan’s Board of Investment, the 147-MW run-of-river Patrnid Hydropower Project was set as an Independent Power Producer (IPP) development. Backed by Korea’s K-Water and Star Hydro Power Limited (SHPL), 25 percent of the US $400 million cost of the development on the river Kunhar will come from them, while 75 percent will be financed by banks, including Export Import Bank of Korea, Asian Development Bank, International Finance Corporation and Islamic Development Bank.

Following this deal a consortium of Korean companies — again including K-Water but this time with Korean Midland Power and Posco Engineering and Construction — signed memorandums of understanding for US $3 billion worth of deals for two hydropower plants on the Indus in the Kohistan-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district of Pakistan: the 665-MW Lower Pallas Valley and the 496-MW Spat Gah plants.

Africa is also benefitting from this type of trans-national infrastructure investment. In the country’s largest private sector investment to date, 2012 saw the commissioning of Uganda’s 250-MW Bujagali hydro station, which meant electricity production exceeded demand for the first time.

Subsequently, in mid-2013, the country signed a deal with China’s Sino-Hydro Group Ltd for the construction of the $1.65 billion Karuna hydropower project on the White Nile. This 600-MW installation is backed by Chinese credit worth a reported 15 percent of the total cost.

In September 2013 Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, launched construction of Karuma, which is due for completion in 2018.

The U.S. is also reportedly getting in on the action, considering financing some of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s $12 billion Inga 3 hydropower project. According to an interview with Bloomberg, Rajiv Shah, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, reportedly said, the U.S. may add the project to a $7 billion U.S. government energy program known as Power Africa.

Along with these types of trans-national investment deals supporting large-scale development opportunities that were previously out of reach, private sector investment is also seeing growth.

This development has often been accompanied by renewable energy support policies.

Future Trends

With interest and investment in hydro picking up, investment in technology research and development has followed suit. Of particular note is the increased investment in tidal and marine kinetic technologies, environmentally benign and fish friendly architecture and pumped storage.

IHA estimates that some 516 MW of tidal and ocean hydropower was installed by the end of 2012, with a pipeline of at least 3 GW in the longer term.  

Variable speed pumped storage turbines have also been a particular focus in light of their role in supporting variable output renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar.

For instance a paper published recently by Stanford University researchers examined the cost effectiveness of energy storage systems, finding that pumped-storage hydropower offers not only one of the highest ratios in terms of “Energy Stored on Invested” of any storage system examined, but also provides a number of ancillary benefits that make it an attractive means of capturing excess energy.

This agreeable operational profile has already seen a number of pumped storage installations being upgraded to variable speed, such as the 485-MW Le Cheylas plant in France, and there remain further opportunities in Europe and elsewhere.

It’s certainly wrong to suggest that hydropower development presents nothing but opportunity, realising its incredible global potential means surmounting some major challenges. Nonetheless, these broad trends suggest that, sustainably developed, hydropower’s innate opportunities for clean energy and water management, grid stability and storage mean that its recent period of significant growth will continue into 2014 and beyond.

This article is part of Renewable Energy World January/February Annual

Germany proposes reduction in FIT, from €0.17 to €0.12 /kWh

kWh meter

MUNICH — German Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel is scheduled to propose renewable energy reform on Wednesday. In an effort to reduce government spending and slow the increase in energy costs, Gabriel proposes to cut subsides for renewable sources from €0.17 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to €0.12 per kWh by 2015, according to several reports.

For onshore wind in particular, Gabriel intends to reduce pay for operators by 10-20 percent by 2015 to 0.09/kWh, and he also intends to reduce the expansion to about 2,500 megawatts a year, according to an Economy Ministry document prepared for a Jan. 22-23 meeting of Merkel’s coalition. Developers would get the current subsidies if their units are authorized before Jan. 22 and enter operation this year, it said.

Gabriel wants green energy reform to take effect Aug. 1, according to Spiegel, though he told ARD that electricity prices won’t decline.

General Electric Co. favors these reforms to Germany’s energy policy, saying the reduced renewable energy subsidies will make the market more efficient.

Germany needs to focus energy spending on research and development rather than subsidies, Stephan Reimelt, GE’s head of energy in Germany, said in a telephone interview today. The company today sealed a 100 million-euro ($136 million) contract from Vattenfall SE to supply a gas turbine to a plant in Berlin.

“The direct market requirements for renewable energy is very important, and that is something that we see spelled out very clearly and that we support,” Reimelt said. “Germany should focus on innovation rather than subsidies and building. There is 230 million euros of R&D budget for this space and 20 billion euros of subsidies for renewables.”

The proposed cuts come as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third-term government intends to cut the cost of her plan to shutter Germany’s nuclear plants and move Europe’s biggest economy toward renewables. She said one of her top priorities is to modernize the system of clean-energy aid after rising wind and solar costs sent consumer power bills soaring.

“The more renewables you bring into the grid, you have to take the fossil power out of the grid,” Reimelt said. “And so the projects and the operating power in gas turbines are heavily decreasing and being reduced to situations where most of these projects are not competitive any more. If you plan a project based on 8,000 operating hours rather than 1,000, you can imagine there is a fundamental difference.”

The president of BWE (Bundesverbandes WindEnergie), Sylvia Pilarsky-Grosch, called the proposed reform counterproductive to a successful continuation of the energy turnaround in Germany.

“Germany is the energy change in a very good way…The acceptance by the people is enormous, the demand for 100 percent renewable power is growing. To successfully continue on the path…we need a courageous policy,” said Pilarsky-Grosch in a statement. “The proposals of the Minister of Energy are going in the wrong direction. The energy revolution is liable to be thwarted.”

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg

UK Publishes New Renewables Strike Prices

 

LONDON — The UK government has today published subsidies for renewable energy generation from next year. Strike prices are the minimum sum the government will pay power companies for electricity they generate and form part of the Electricity Market Reform, a package of measures designed to stimulate up to £110bn of investment in low carbon energy.

Draft strike prices for renewables were published in June, but today’s figures are different – and lower – for some forms of generation.

Support for offshore wind stays at £155/MWh for next year and 2015/16, dropping to £150 in 2016/17 and £140 from 2017/18 onwards.

Onshore wind, however, is being cut by £5/MWh from June’s figure of £100 to £95, and will fall again to £90 from 2017/18.

Other key strike prices published today include £155 MW/h for advanced conversion technologies (with or without CHP); £125 for dedicated biomass (with CHP); £105 for biomass conversion; £145 for geothermal; £120 for large scale solar; and £305 for both wave and tidal projects.

The difference between onshore and offshore wind reflects the maturity of the technology and investment so far for the former, and the need to drive further funding incentives into the latter. The UK also has far greater offshore potential than onshore, with some politicians believing that onshore has reached saturation point.

In July, Prime Minister David Cameron opened London Array, the biggest offshore wind farm in the world, which is off the east coast of England, and in August the second biggest was opened by Energy Minister Michael Fallon.

However, last month, RWE withdrew plans to go ahead and build the Atlantic Array wind farm off the southwest coast of England, citing “market conditions.” which was taken to mean uncertainty over the government’s level of renewable support.

The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government will hope that today’s strike prices for offshore will prevent a repeat of the shelving of a major project.

The government’s deputy finance minister Danny Alexander told the BBC this morning that the strike prices “will unlock a big wave of investment, particularly in offshore renewables, where we think that with the very positive plans we’re setting out today we can get about 10 gigawatts or more of capacity in offshore wind between now and 2020”.

He said the subsidies for onshore wind and solar has been reduced from the June figure’s “because we think that’s the best way to get value for money”.

Greenpeace policy director Doug Parr said that “given the increasing affordability of renewable energy sources, it’s right ministers should now put emphasis on helping drive down the cost of offshore wind so that the UK can reap the rewards of new turbine factories and thousands of new jobs”.

And Caroline Lucas, Green party MP, said: “Renewables now are showing that they can wash their own face – they can stand on their own two feet.”

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of trade group the Renewable Energy Association, said that “today is a good news day for renewable electricity”.

“The real reason that support for solar and onshore wind will go down is that they are leading the race for cost-competitiveness with fossil fuels. Government policy is working and bringing down costs. The important thing is that decisions are evidence-based, not purely political, and we need to see the methodology to assess that.”

And she added “the real test for Electricity market reform is in the policy design – not just the headline support levels. There is more work to be done to ensure that EMR works for independent generators as well as the big utilities. Independent generators help drive competition and innovation, and can also help communities invest in their own local energy projects.”

 

Renewable Energy World article