Bioenergy, Hydropower, Wind Power

News Roundup

Issue 2 and Volume 11.

A roundup up of renewable energy news from around the world.

US, China lead on wind

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has confirmed earlier estimates that more than 20 GW of wind power was installed in 2007, led by the US, China and Spain. 

This is an increase of 31% compared with the 2006 market, and represents an overall increase in global installed capacity, now at 94,112 MW, of about 27%.

The top five countries in terms of installed capacity are Germany at 22.3 GW, the US with 16.8 GW, Spain at 15.1 GW, India with 8 GW and China at 6.1 GW. In terms of economic value, the global wind market in 2007 was worth about €25 billion in new generating equipment, GWEC says.

In terms of new installations, the US leads the pack, reporting a record 5244 MW installed in 2007, more than double the 2006 figure and accounting for about 30% of the country’s new power-producing capacity in 2007. Overall US wind power generating capacity grew 45% in 2007, with total installed capacity now standing at 16.8 GW. The US is expected to overtake Germany as the leader on wind energy by the end of 2009.

China added 3449 MW of capacity this year, representing market growth of 156% over 2006, and now ranks fifth with over 6 GW installed at the end of 2007. Based on current growth rates, the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA) forecasts a capacity of around 50 GW by 2015.

‘The growing wind power market in China has also encouraged domestic production of wind turbines, and we now have more than 40 domestic companies involved in manufacturing. In 2007, domestic products accounted for 56% of the annual market, compared to 41% in 2006,’ said Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association. ‘This percentage is expected to increase substantially in the future. Total domestic manufacturing capacity is now about 5000 MW, and is expected to reach 10-12 GW by 2010,’ predicts GWEC President Arthouros Zervos.

GWEC says that the big surprise in the European market was Spain, with 3515 MW of new capacity installed in 2007, earning it second place globally after the US. Total installed Spanish wind energy capacity now stands at over 15 GW.

Across Europe some 8662 MW was installed last year and total capacity reached 57,135 MW, producing 119 TWh in an average wind year.

While Europe remains the leading market for wind energy, new installations represented just 43% of the global total, down from nearly 75% in 2004. For the first time in decades, more than 50% of the annual wind market was outside Europe, and this trend is likely to continue into the future. The Council also noted that the Middle East/north Africa region increased installations by 42%, reaching 534 MW in 2007 with additions in Egypt, Morocco, Iran and Tunisia.

Suzlon announces blade retrofit programme

India’s Suzlon Energy Ltd has announced a retrofit programme to resolve blade cracking issues discovered during operations of some of its turbines in the US.

The retrofit programme involves the structural strengthening of 1251 blades on its S88 2.1 MW turbines, Suzlon says.

Of the 417 sets of blades affected, 930 blades are already installed while the remaining blades are in transit or inventory.

‘This programme is a proactive measure to safeguard the interest of all our stakeholders [and] is designed to minimize impact for our customers and Suzlon,’ said Andre Horbach, Chief Executive of the company.

The retrofit will be carried out by maintaining a rolling stock of temporary replacement blades, and will be completed over a period of six months. ‘We expect no impact on the order and execution pipeline, Horbach said.

The total cost of the retrofit programme is estimated at US $25 million.

Schott and ersol join in micromorph thin-film

ersol Thin Film GmbH and Schott Solar GmbH, have forged a co-operative agreement under which they will jointly develop micromorphous technology for thin-film solar cells.

The two companies will be combining research and development resources with the aim of achieving faster product maturity. As part of the alliance development staff are to be exchanged between the two sites.

Both ersol and Schott have already begun the market launch of amorphous thin-film technology in the 1.4 m2 Gen 5 format, and, if the technology development is successful, existing deposition plants for amorphous production can be converted to the manufacture of microcrystalline cells. The alliance aims to become one of the first companies to market this new technology in Europe.

In contrast to the simple amorphous version, the micromorphous thin-film module has a double-layer structure consisting of an amorphous and a microcrystalline silicon film. The arrangement results in improved efficiency. ‘We believe this so-called micromorphous tandem cell can achieve up to 50% increase in module efficiency in comparison to amorphous technology,’ explains Dr. Christian Koitzsch, Managing Director Technology of ersol Thin Film.

The ersol thin-film manufacturing site, part of the new alliance with Schott.

npower and MCT plan commercial tidal

UK utility company npower and Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines (MCT) have announced a partnership to develop a commercial-scale tidal stream project, off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales.

A newly created development company, SeaGen Wales, would execute the plans for a 10.5 MW tidal farm scheme consisting of seven 1.5 MW turbines.

The location benefits from favourable tidal conditions and natural shelter, together with good port facilities at Holyhead nearby, proximity to the National Grid and good transport links and access.

Development of the site will start with a full assessment of the environment and tidal resources, followed by preparation of an outline scheme. Studies are about to get started and will last throughout 2008, with a consent application likely to be submitted in mid-2009.

The tidal farm could be commissioned as early as 2011 or 2012, a statement says.

Managing Director of npower renewables, Paul Cowling, said: ‘We are convinced by the results of MCT’s work to date, that this is a technology with the potential to make a valuable contribution.’

The developments come as a new report from the UK’s Renewables Advisory Board provides an assessment of progress in the development of wave and tidal stream power.

Amongst its findings is the conclusion that, whilst the long-term goal is attractive and long-term prospects remain promising, progress has been slower than hoped.

Iberdrola renewables arm in profits slump

The renewables arm of Spanish utility company Iberdrola has announced its full year 2007 results, recording a 38% profits slump over 2006 figures.

Although still bringing in a net profit of €117.5 million, and a modest 1.3% increase in gross profit to €564 million, Iberdrola Renovables said its results were adversely affected by a fall in wholesale prices in Spain and by lower wind power output during the fourth quarter in the country. Wind energy in Spain contributed 59.8% of total EBITDA.

The prospects for this fiscal year are positive, because wholesale prices in the Spanish market have shown an upward trend in January 2008, exceeding those of last year by 16.5%, the company says.

The company also has 1373 MW of new renewables capacity under construction and recently acquired rights over a 1600 MW portfolio of wind projects in Romania.

A contract with Eolica Dobrogea (Schweiz) AG, a company belonging to the Swiss engineering group NEK and the Romanian company Rokura, will see Iberdrola acquire a portfolio of approximately 50 wind projects, located in the Dobrogea region in eastern Romania.

These projects include approximately 800 wind farm installation sites, which are in various phases of development. The first farms are expected to start operating in 2009.

Under the terms of the agreement, Eolica will be responsible for developing the projects, including planning and obtaining construction permits. Once the promotion phase is completed, the wind farms will be built and operated by Iberdrola Renewables. The price may be €200-300 million, depending on the sites eventually acquired.

The transaction reinforces Iberdrola’s presence in Eastern Europe, where it already has projects in Poland, Hungary, and Estonia.

vestas re-launches offshore turbines

Following the market withdrawal of its V90, 3.0 MW offshore wind turbine in early 2007 due to problems with the machine’s gearbox, Denmark’s Vestas has decided to re-launch the machine,

The company said that during the summer and autumn of 2007, the cause of the problems with the gearbox was mapped and resolved, adding that the gearbox is now being taken through the last steps of the company’s quality assurance procedure.

The company said its decision to release the V90-3.0 MW offshore wind turbine for sale effective from 1 May 2008 was based on the positive results from the tests completed so far.

Finn Strøm Madsen, President of Vestas Technology R&D, said ‘The V90-3.0 MW offshore turbine with the new gearbox solution has now been thoroughly tested at our advanced testing facilities in Århus, Denmark. We still need to carry out a few more tests, but we are convinced that the turbine will also pass these.’ He added that company expects to start delivering the machines in 2009.

In related news, Vestas has received an order for 33 units of the onshore version of the machine for installation in Canada. The order has been received from an affiliate of Suez Renewable Energy NA, the renewable energy division of Houston, Texas-based Suez Energy North America, Inc.

The order comprises supply and commissioning of the wind turbines and a three-year service and maintenance agreement. Vestas will start delivery of the turbines mid-2009 and expects to complete commissioning in the second half of the year.

joint plans for EDF and EDF Energies Nouvelles

Electricité de France (EdF) and its 50% subsidiary EDF Energies Nouvelles have formally agreed to a development partnership focusing on the decentralized and renewable energies market.

The companies plan to create a new 50-50 joint venture called EDF Energies Nouvelles Réparties (EDF ENR) which will consist of certain business activities and shareholdings related to decentralized renewable energies and energy control.

EDF ENR will also encompass the group’s business activities in equipment manufacturing, such as solar water heaters, photovoltaic modules, heat pumps and wood-fired heating equipment.

Delay and cost overrun for REC silicon plans

A project review by REC Silicon and its contracting partner Fluor Corp has revealed that the cost estimate for the engineering, procurement and construction of a new granulated polysilicon plant in Moses Lake, Washington, will have to be increased by close to 20% from the US$660 million earlier stated, to close to $800 million.

Mechanical completion of the plant will most likely be delayed by approximately two months and commercial production is now scheduled to start late fourth quarter 2008, REC said in an announcement.

The Moses Lake project, based on proprietary FBR technology, has a design production capacity of 6500 tonnes of granular polysilicon and 9000 tonnes of silane gas. Fluor Corp was chosen as EPC and Management Assistant contractor.

Delays in equipment deliveries have been the prime contributor to the expected cost increase and project schedule extension and as a result, REC is unlikely to meet its production target of approximately 8000 tonnes of polysilicon in 2008. REC’s current best estimate for the production of granulated polysilicon is now approximately 400 tonnes from the site this year, leaving an expected overall production of polysilicon at 7000 tonnes in 2008.

The lower availability of polysilicon could possibly also affect production in REC Wafer and REC Solar towards the end of 2008, the company said.

Gøran Bye, Executive Vice President of REC Silicon, said ‘The global market for engineering, construction, equipment, and installation is very tight, and the related consequences have been underestimated.’

GE inks turbine deals

GE Energy has secured its second contract for more than $1 billion in recent months with Invenergy Wind LLC to provide wind turbines for new projects.

Under the agreement GE will supply Invenergy with 750 MW of wind turbines for North American projects to be constructed in 2010.

In January, GE announced a similar agreement of more than $1 billion to provide wind turbines to Invenergy for US and European projects to be built in 2009. These agreements are among the largest commitments for wind turbines to be delivered in a single year in the history of the global wind industry.

Recent weeks have also seen Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Americas Inc. sign agreements exceeding $700 million to receive GE Energy 1.5 MW wind turbines for projects in 2009 and 2010.

GE Energy will supply RES with nearly 500 MW of new capacity, and will provide commissioning and operations services as well as maintenance support.

‘As these agreements demonstrate, the demand for wind energy continues to grow at a record pace,’ said Victor Abate, VP of renewables for GE Energy.

Konarka tests inkjet printed solar cells

Massachusetts-based Konarka Technologies, Inc. has conducted its first-ever demonstration of manufacturing solar cells using inkjet printing technology.

The company says the demonstration confirmed that it can process organic solar cells with printing technologies with little or no loss compared to more typical ‘clean room’ semiconductor technologies such as spin coating.

The most popular printing tool for organic electronics, inkjet printing could become a smart tool to manufacturer solar cells with multiple colours and patterns for lower power requirement products, like indoor or sensor applications. Inkjet printing is considered very promising because the polymer devices can be fabricated easily due to their compatibility with various substrates.

‘Demonstrating the use of inkjet printing technology as a fabrication tool for highly efficient solar cells and sensors with small area requirements is a major milestone,’ said Rick Hess, President and Chief Executive at Konarka.

Wind goes vertical

A new research and development project to study the commercial application of vertical axis wind turbines has been forged between Wind Energy Corp and US retail group H-E-B.

Wind Energy’s vertical axis machine will be tested at H-E-B’s Retail Support Centre in Weslaco, Texas. Beginning in March, the partnership is to include an 18-24 month observation and analysis period of the wind power opportunities available at the site.

Wind Energy’s turbine is an advanced composite, vertical axis design that has a solid ‘sail’ design. The turbine performs over a wide range of wind speeds and will have a peak capacity of 25-50 kW, the company says.

Xcel in battery project

US utility group Xcel Energy has announced that it will begin testing an energy storage technology based on batteries. It will be one of the first projects to use the technology in the United States for direct wind energy storage.

Xcel will begin testing a 1 MW system to demonstrate the technology.

The 50 kW battery modules will be assembled in a 20 unit array and will be roughly the size of two articulated lorry trailers weighing 80 tonnes. They will be able to store about 7.2 MWh.

‘Energy storage is key to expanding the use of renewable energy,’ said Dick Kelly, Xcel Energy Chairman, President and CEO, who added: ‘This technology has the potential to reduce the impact caused by the variability and limited predictability of wind energy generation.’

Plans for 280 MW CSP

Abengoa Solar has signed a 30-year power purchase contract with Arizona Public Service Co. (APS), for the output from a 280 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) project.

The plant, scheduled to go into operation by 2011, will be located 112 km southwest of Phoenix in the Arizona desert.

Under the terms of the deal Abengoa Solar will sell the electricity produced by the Solana plant to APS for a total revenue of around $4 billion.

The plant will employ a proprietary Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) trough technology.

Finavera wave permit

A Preliminary Permit has been issued to Finavera Renewables Inc for its proposed 100 MW wave project in Humboldt County, California.

The permit was granted by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and is valid for three years. It allows Finavera to conduct various studies, including analyses of oceanographic conditions, commercial and recreational activities, and other impacts potentially associated with the planned project.

The company recently signed a long-term power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric for a 2 MW project in California and FERC issued the first ever operating license for a wave energy project in the United States to Finavera Renewables for the Makah Bay Wave Pilot Project in Washington State.

‘This Preliminary Permit from FERC is a significant milestone that allows us to move forward on advanced planning for the project, and we look forward to working closely with the local community to ensure a successful project,’ said Jason Bak, Chief Executive of Finavera Renewables.

Taiwan in cellulosic alcohol project

A government-run lab in Taiwan has started work on a project to produce cellulose alcohol from rice straw with the aim of expanding the sources of raw materials for biofuel, government sources have reported.

Researchers on the project have completed testing a prototype system and expect to establish a pilot plant with a daily alcohol output of 200 litres by late 2009.

According to project director Wang Chia-pao, rice straw is mainly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, while xylose and glucose, both ingredients for alcohol, can be extracted from cellulose and hemicellulose.

‘Our refining techniques can turn xylose and glucose into alcohol with 99.5% purity, which is suitable for gasohol production,’ Wand said. adding: ‘However the production cost is still far higher than the acceptable range.’

Nanosieve saves energy in biofuel production

Researchers at ECN, the University of Twente and the University of Amsterdam have developed a new type of membrane which makes it a promising energy-efficient alternative for existing separation techniques.

The ‘molecular sieve’ is tolerant of high temperatures and is capable of ‘dehydrating’ biofuels up to temperatures of 150oC. Existing ceramic and polymer membranes fail at approximately 100oC because they cannot withstand the combination of high temperatures and water. The new type of membrane is a hybrid material, which combines features of both ceramic and polymeric membranes.

The major advantage of membrane technology is the lower amount of energy required to separate fluids, compared to the currently used distillation process.

Moser Baer plans 600 MW of thin-film PV

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Moser Baer India Ltd has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to secure the supply of critical equipment for a 565 MW phased expansion of its thin-film PV module manufacturing capacity.

The plans will see PV Technologies India Ltd increase its capacity from the curremt 40 MW annually to over 600 MW by 2010.

Ravi Khanna, the company’s Chief Executive said: ‘We see an increasingly significant role for thin-film technologies in meeting peaking power requirements and now aim to be a significant player in this arena.’

Eire supporting offshore

Irish Energy Minister Eamon Ryan has announced a modification to the country’s renewable energy feed-in tariff scheme (Refit) to support the development of offshore wind.

The Refit scheme, administered by the Minister’s department, provides a guaranteed price for electricity produced by new plants for 15 years. Under the latest change, offshore wind-power projects are to be supported at a price of €140/MWh.

‘The support price is in line with what other countries are offering and without it we would not be able to attract any investment into Ireland. Now, investors can be confident when they invest in offshore wind,’ commented Ryan.

He added that the department is working on a proposal with colleagues from Scotland and Northern Ireland on the feasibility of building new sub-sea transmission links along the Irish Sea that could be part of a new extended European off-shore grid connecting wind farms from other jurisdictions so that electricity will be produced on a consistent and predictable basis.

Airtricity, now owned by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), welcomed the decision with Paul Dowling, Airtricity Chief Executive saying: ‘We estimate that Ireland needs 4000 MW of offshore wind to meet the current gap in emission targets of approximately 6 million tonnes. To develop this will cost in the region of €13-15 billion, therefore a support mechanism competitive with other EU nations is essential.’

The development followed the release of a recent study which concluded that Ireland can be world leader in renewable energy.

Commenting on the All-Island Grid Study Ryan said, ‘Above and beyond our current target of 33% by 2020, the Grid Study tells us that it is feasible to generate 42% of our electricity from renewable sources by that date. This will be one of the highest levels of renewable electricity in the world.’

Sharp hits 2 gw of solar

Japan’s Sharp became the first company to reach 2 GW in global cumulative solar cell production volume at the end of 2007, the company claims.

It is estimated that the current global cumulative solar cell production volume is 8 GW.

The company’s 2007 cell production came in at 363 MW.

Kyocera solar to Tunisia

Japan’s Kyocera Corp is to supply and install its solar power generating systems to some 500 houses in Tunisia under a Japanese government loan programme through Itochu Corp.

This will be the first case in which so-called yen loans, a form of official development assistance (ODA), will be applied to the delivery and installation of photovoltaic power systems.

Starting in April, Kyocera will install its systems in villages that do not currently have electricity in the three Tunisian governorates of Kef, Siliana and Beja.

Biodiesel energy balance

According to new research conducted at the University of Idaho with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the energy balance of biodiesel is 3.5-to-1.

Previous assessments of a decade ago had suggested that for every unit of fossil energy needed to produce the fuel over its life cycle, the return was 3.2 units of energy.

Both the 2007 study and its predecessor in 1998 are based on biodiesel production from soybeans, which is responsible for more than 80% of biodiesel production, according to US Census data.

‘The bottom line is that the energy balance of biodiesel has definitely improved in the last decade,’ says University of Idaho Department Head of Biological and Agricultural Engineering Jon Van Gerpen, adding: ‘The increase in soybean yields and a decrease in herbicide use greatly contributed to the increased energy balance.

Vulcan Power unveils geothermal power plan

A preliminary plan for transmission system upgrades to deliver 1 GW of geothermal power to Los Angeles and Las Vegas has been unveiled by Vulcan Power Co.

The company’s ‘G3 Power Plan’ will see the energy supplied from massive steam zones located in northwest Nevada.

According to research cited by Vulcan, 2.5 GW of potential geothermal energy exists in northern Nevada. There is already about 240 MW of geothermal capacity online in Nevada, which is evenly split between Nevada and California utility buyers Sierra Pacific Resources and Southern California Edison Co.

Seven companies with advanced sites have been selected to supply utilities with about 500 MW of geothermal, with over half utilizing these grid upgrades.

‘G3 Plan transmission economics are very compelling,’ said Vulcan board member Richard Rodgers, who added ‘Geothermal is a bargain for California, particularly when compared to new gas fired power. The first 1000 MW of new geothermal could justify building about $4 billion worth of grid upgrades and doubling that output justifies $8 billion in upgrades.’

First coffee for Essent

A consignment of 3200 tonnes of coffee bean husks has been delivered to Essent’s Amer power plant in Geertruidenberg, Holland, marking the first time that coffee husks have been used to generate renewable electricity.

Development organisation Solidaridad and energy company Essent are to use pressed coffee husks from Brazil is the start of a new, sustainable form of biomass. The coffee husks are a residual product from coffee growing and are suitable for replacing coal or other fossil fuels. Agricultural residues also have the advantage that they do not compete with food provision and do not require any extra land usage.

In seven years time the project could grow to 250,000 tonnes of coffee husks, Essent says.

Maui waves for energy

Australian company Oceanlinx Limited has announced plans to provide electricity to Maui Electric Company from Hawaii’s first wave energy project.

The project will provide up to 2.7 MW of energy from two or three floating platforms located around 1 km to the north of Pauwela Point on the northeast coast of Maui.

The project will include three wave platforms and could be operational by the end of 2009. The cost, to be absorbed by Oceanlinx and its investors, is estimated at $20 million.

Oceanlinx has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Renewable Hawaii, Inc., an unregulated subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Company, for possible passive investment in the project.

‘The Oceanlinx technology is an ideal fit for Maui, with its excellent wave climate, and we hope to be able to continue working with Hawaii on wave energy projects in the future,’ said David Weaver, Executive Chairman and CEO of Oceanlinx.

CPV for Emcore

Emcore Corp has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the supply of 200-700 MW of solar power systems in the southwestern US.

Emcore will supply and install turnkey concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems developed at its Albuquerque, New Mexico, facility.

The project developer, SunPeak Solar, is securing land and grid access throughout 2008 and project construction is expected to begin in early 2009.

Strongest green driver is economic, says study

A new study by consultancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers states that the strongest driver for technology organizations to implement ‘green’ initiatives is economic.

According to the study: ‘Technology Executive Connections: Going Green: Sustainable Growth Strategies,’ although public awareness and support for global environmentalism is increasing, altruism is just one of many motivating factors behind the green movement In a survey conducted by the firm, 40% of technology executives claim the green movement creates significant market opportunities for their companies, as evidenced by a noticeable increase in customer demand for green products and services. Additionally, 60% of respondents cite energy savings as one of the most important factors in the decision-making process.

According to the survey, 61% of executives feel it is very important or important that their companies take steps to reduce their environmental impact. As organizations continue to evaluate their own business practices, they are paying closer attention to the actions of their partners and suppliers as well.

Nearly one in five executives claim their companies practice environmentally preferred purchasing. Within the next two years, this figure will rise to over half, PWC says.

Technology organizations are also taking steps to safeguard themselves from stringent government legislation and regulations in the future by proactively imposing their own green-oriented controls, auditing internal green practices, appointing senior executives to oversee green programmes, and creating a clearer linkage between green initiatives and performance. Technology manufacturers are also taking aggressive steps to expand their portfolio of green products and services by pursuing energy efficiency, implementing designs that reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous materials, using recycled or recyclable materials, building products that last longer, and creating packaging that meets or exceeds global environmental standards.

‘The growing demand for environmental products and services could translate into one of the biggest new markets in recent memory,’ said Bill Cobourn, Global & U.S. Technology Leader and Partner, Pricewaterhouse Coopers. ‘Technology companies can exploit this opportunity to drive growth, but they must ensure their green initiatives are in line with their business strategy. The pendulum swing towards green technology is unleashing a creative disruption within the global technology market. The pressure is on for companies to respond quickly, make the most of new opportunities and manage their own environmental risk,’ he added.

Wärtsilä brewing up CHP

Major international brewing group Scottish and Newcastle (S&N) has awarded two contracts to Wärtsilä for the supply and installation of two biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plants (CHP).

The contracts are for CHP plants to be located on the premises of the company’s UK breweries in Manchester and Tadcaster.

The Wärtsilä BioPower plants will be the first power plants in the world to produce heat and power using spent grain, a by-product of the brewing process, as fuel.

The CHP plants will each produce 7.4 MWth and 3.1 MWe and will burn a mixture of spent grain and wood chips from local sources. The facilities are due to start operations in the first and second quarters of 2009.

REpower and RWE Innogy in new framework deal

Germany’s RWE Innogy and REpower Systems Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the negotiation of framework agreements with a volume of up to 1900 MW of wind turbines.

Under the terms of the MoU, some 250 offshore wind turbines of the 5-6 MW 5M/6M type series and approximately 200 further onshore wind turbines of 2 MW should be manufactured and delivered by REpower within a 4-6 years, beginning on 1 January 2010.

In related news RWE Innogy and RWE Energy Nederland have jointly submitted proposals to the Dutch authorities to build at least two major offshore wind farms in the Netherlands with a combined capacity of 2 GW.

The wind farms are at two locations. The first is called Tromp, where 1150 MW of capacity is proposed 64 km off the coast of Ijmuiden in a water depth of approximately 26 metres, which would not be visible from shore. The full details of the second location will be announced at a later date. The first licenses to be granted within the next two to three years.

Wave plans for swedish utility Vattenfall …

A cooperation agreement covering the development of wave power technology has been signed by Swedish utility company Vattenfall AB and Wavebob Ltd of Ireland.

Under the terms of the agreement the two companies will collaborate on bringing prototype wave power devices to readiness for full-scale commercial wave power farms and will see Wavebob’s technology further developed and scaled up to commercial size.

There is also a common understanding between the two companies to broaden and deepen the cooperation to include studies regarding site selection methodology and development of a large demonstration project of 250 MW.

Lars Strömberg, Vice President R&D at Vattenfall commented: ‘Wave power is now mature to be demonstrated at commercial size.’ He added: ‘I am convinced that we will see the first European large-scale commercial wave power plants in operation in 10-15 years from now.’

Both parties welcome further partners to join the project.

… as second CETO deployed Renewable Energy Holdings plc (REH) has deployed a second CETO II Wave Energy prototype off the CETO test site, at Fremantle in Western Australia.

The development follows the deployment of the first CETO II prototype unit in January 2008 and a third unit will be deployed shortly.

The performance monitoring and design development is scheduled to be completed by mid-April 2008, in advance of the deployment of a full-scale CETO III unit test, which will complete the CETO development programme by 2009.

Following the agreement of the terms of a collaboration agreement with EDF Energies Nouvelles SA, announced in January 2008, the two companies are actively reviewing sites and planning for the roll-out of offshore wave power projects in the Northern Hemisphere, commencing 2009.

… aND Iberdrola begins

Iberdrola Renewables, meanwhile, has begun testing a wave energy pilot plant in Santoña, Cantabria.

The company has begun on-shore testing of the operation of the internal components of the first buoy, manufactured in the United States and named Power Take Off (PTO).

The PTO units are installed in a sealed cylindrical compartment 20 metres long.

The PTO units capture wave energy and process this for storage before it is evacuated under optimum conditions, Iberdrola Renewables says.

The testing phase will conclude this month when the buoy will be deployed at sea, depending on weather conditions, with the goal of going operational the first half of this year.

The installation will be located 4 km from the coast of Santoña and will comprise 10 buoys together with a navigation beacon. In the first phase a 10 metre-long 40 kW buoy will be anchored to the seabed some 50 metres down. The remaining nine buoys, planned for a later phase, will have a combined initial capacity of 125 kW.

The joint company developing the plant, named Iberdrola Energías Marinas de Cantabria, S.A., is 60% owned by Iberdrola, with Total, OPT, the IDEA Institute for Energy Diversification and Savings, and the Sodercan Cantabria Development Society holding 10% each.

Horizon buys more wind

Energias de Portugal S.A. (EDP) subsidiary Horizon Wind Energy, LLC has purchased six wind projects with a total capacity of 1050 MW from Hydra Energy, LLC, an early stage developer.

The six projects are located in the US states of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

‘This was a very attractive deal for Horizon and we enjoyed working with Hydra Wind to bring it to fruition. It proved to be a win/win for both parties involved,’ said Antonio Martins da Costa, Chief Executive of Horizon.

PHOENIX planning PV

Bürgerservice GmbH has reached an agreement with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Phoenix Solar AG, for the development of ground-mounted PV plants of 1-10 MW.

Under the terms of the agreement, Bürgerservice will develop solar projects for the subsidiary Phoenix Solar Energy Investments in the region of Trier, Rhineland Palatinate/Saarland in Germany.

Phoenix will be the general contractor for the planning and construction of the plant and there are plans for Bürgerservice to take over part of the module assembly work as well as the excavation and digging operations as sub-contractor to Phoenix.

Once the plants have become operational, Phoenix Solar will ensure the maintenance and remote monitoring of the plants while Bürgerservice will take care of the property and provide local technical support.

The alliance will last the next two years and Phoenix plans to build the power plants during 2008 and 2009 before selling them as turn-key plants to German and foreign investors. The projects are expected to cost around €100 million.

Bush sets out support for renewables at wirec 2008 – and nuclear

US President George W. Bush told a key international audience about his support for renewable energy, calling on Congress to support a US$2 billion international clean energy fund to bring renewable energy technology to those in the developing world.

Speaking at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC 2008) in Washington DC he said: ‘There ought to be an international fund, a clean technology fund from the wealthy nations to help poorer nations clean up their environments.’ Bush added that he is going to call on other wealthy nations to contribute to this fund.

Bush began by outlining the two-fold US strategy to ‘get off oil’ focused on automobile use and electric power. A key part of this strategy will be the increasing use of biofuels in transport, with Bush singling out biodiesels as the most promising, while developing cellulosic ethanol technologies.

The President also said he believes nuclear energy has a role to play in improving national energy security of supply and curbing carbon dioxide emissions. Nuclear construction projects will be supported by $18.5 billion in loan guarantees provided by the government. This compares with $10 billion of Congress-backed funding for renewable energy expansion in the United States said Bush.

Nonetheless, alongside nuclear the strategy is based upon wind power and solar technologies, Bush said.

More than 2800 delegates from 119 countries attended the event where government officials and energy experts discussed ways to develop renewables. Countries, sub-national authorities, private-sector and non-government organizations made more than 100 pledges of concrete ways to meet enhanced energy goals.

Pledges include, for example, commitments by governments and companies such as Australia, which has committed to deliver 20% of electricity supply from renewables by 2020.

WIREC 2008 is the third global ministerial meeting on renewable energy. The first was 2004 in Bonn, Germany and was followed in 2005 in Beijing, China. Representatives from 54 countries attended the Bonn conference, which produced a declaration containing shared political goals for renewables.

End of polysilicon shortages predicted in 2008

Although the last few years have see the solar PV market facing a significant challenge due to shortages and allocations of polysilicon, consulting company Frost & Sullivan believes that 2008 will bring a turnaround.

According to the company’s latest forecasts, the global solar photovoltaic market earned revenues of $6.49 billion in 2005 and should reach more than $16 billion in 2012 as polysilicon supply catches up with demand.

The four largest polysilicon producers are expected to add more than 17,000 tonnes of capacity in 2008, a more than 50% increase over their current capacities. Recent silicon supply deals announced include:

  • Qingdao DTK Industries Co., Ltd., has signed a multi-year polysilicon supply agreement with SunPower Corp. starting in 2010 and continuing through 2016 sufficient to manufacture more than 3 GW of solar cells.

  • Deutsche Solar AG has concluded a new contract with DC Chemical Co. Ltd. for the supply of 600 MW of solar silicon.

  • Motech Industries Inc., has signed two polysilicon purchase agreements with DC Chemical. In the first agreement, DC Chemical has agreed to supply polysilicon to Motech in 2008, and under the second agreement, DC Chemical will supply polysilicon to Motech over a 7-year period from 2009 to 2015. The two agreements have the total contract amount of US$186 million.

  • A second polysilicon supply agreement with DC Chemical Co., Ltd. will see Evergreen Solar, Inc. receive deliveries beginning in early 2009 and continuing through 2015.

In Brief

Tokyo Electron (TEL) and Sharp Corp have entered into a joint PV production venture which is expected to result in the development of high-productivity plasma CVD systems for use in thin-film silicon PV cell production. The first shipments are currently planned for 2009.

The Belgian municipalities of Hannuit, Sint Truiden, Landen, Lincent, Gingelom and Hélécine have forged an alliance with utility Electrabel to build the largest onshore wind farm in Belgium. The municipalities and Electrabel are to invest jointly in the project, which will comprise 20 turbines of 2-3 MW each, representing a total of 40 to 50 MW. The turbines will enter operation gradually from 2010 onwards.

California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to identify partners for a potential project to demonstrate technologies that could cost-effectively produce significant quantities of biomethane that could be injected into PG&E’s gas transmission system and delivered for high-value uses, such as despatchable power generation.

Applied Materials, Inc. has acquired Baccini S.p.A., a supplier of automated metallization and test systems for manufacturing crystalline silicon PV cells.

Under the terms of the agreement, Applied paid a225 million in cash for all of the outstanding shares of Baccini.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) is to establish a joint venture company with gearbox manufacturer Ishibashi Manufacturing Co., Ltd. to manufacture and sell gearboxes for wind turbine generators. Plans call for the JV to build a new plant and launch production in 2010 adjacent to Ishibashi’s main plant in Nogata City, Fukuoka Prefecture, in western Japan to manufacture gearboxes for the MHI’s 2.4 MW models.

Hamlin Energy Solutions, is installing the largest building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) laminate rooftop power plant in the southeast US at its sheet metal fabrication plant in Benson, North Carolina in the US. The 104 kW system covers 24,000 square feet.

The juwi group has commissioned another section of the Waldpolenz solar PV park, which now has more than 12.7 MW of capacity. Located in Brandis, east of Leipzig, in Germany, the juwi group is building the 40 MW solar park – based on thin-film technology – which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2009.

Andritz VA TECH HYDRO is to supply its StrafloMatrix mini-hydroplant technology to a development for Italian Consorzio Canale Industriale Giulio Camuzzoni.

The 1.23 MW, five turbine, plant will be installed in a former shiplock on the Chievo Dam on the Adige river north of Verona, Italy. Start-up is scheduled to take place in June 2009.

A 390 kW solar power system has been installed at the Sam’s Club store in Chino, California, marking the first of seven Wal-Mart facilities in the state to receive solar power systems. Orders from SunPower totalling 4.6 MW form part of the Wal-Mart plan for approximately 22 of its stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centres in Hawaii and California.

The EUFER joint venture between Italy’s Enel and Spanish utility group Unión Fenosa has begun operations at the 30 MW Casa wind farm in Spain. The facility, in the provinces of Vilalba and Guitiriz, has 13 wind turbines of 2.3 MW each and is connected to the transmission grid by a 66 kV line stretching 23.5 km.

Millinet Solar, a South Korean solar cells manufacturer, has begun operations at the country’s largest solar cell production line. The 30 MW plant located in Daegu, the fourth largest city in South Korea, will produce approximately 10 million solar cells per year. The complete process and equipment technology was supplied by the German company Schmid Group.

Spanish developers Acciona Energy have officially opened two new wind parks in Catalonia, delivering 90 MW of capacity. The 49.5 MW Serra del Tallat project is located in the municipalities of Vallbona de Les Monges (L’Urgell, Lleida) and Passanant i Beltall (Conca de Barberá, Tarragona). It has 33 turbines and cost €61.4 million.

The 40.5 MW Sierra de Vilobí facility is situated in Tarrés and Fulleda (Les Garrigues, Lleida). It is equipped with 27 wind turbines costing €49.5 million.

The two facilities collectively consist of 60 Acciona Windpower 1.5 MW turbines.

Endesa has signed an agreement with the J. García Carrión Group to install 770kWp of photovoltaic solar panels at its premises in Jumilla, in Murcia.

Four other projects are currently being studied which could go ahead subject to legislation and their technical viability.

Releasing its preliminary results for the 2007 financial year Q-Cells AG says it is the world’s largest solar cells manufacturer with 389.2 MWp of annual production capacity. Compared with the previous year’s 253.1 MWp, this corresponds to production growth of 54%.

Dutch utility company Nuon has launched an energy transition fund that will focus on projects that support either the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources or more efficient energy consumption. The investment fund will start out at €40 million.