Briefly Noted … Other Renewable Energies

Japan to introduce green certificates; Ofgem to cut fossil fuel levy in Scotland; Illinois offers $4 million in grants.

– The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry will introduce a certificate system obliging power companies to generate energy from solar, wind and other renewable sources. The government plans to expand new energy generation to three times the current level, or the equivalent of 19.1 million kilo-litres of crude oil, in order to cut carbon emissions by 2010. – The British energy regulator Ofgem will cut the fossil fuel levy in Scotland because new measures are to be introduced to help fund renewable energy. The fossil fuel levy, which supports green energy schemes, will fall to 0.6 percent in April 2002 from the current 1.2 percent, saving Scottish electricity consumers US$18 million a year. The Scottish government wants green power projects to issue renewable obligation certificates which would be auctioned and the funds distributed back to green power facilities. Suppliers will need to buy the green certificates if their renewables output does not match levels set by the government under the Renewables Obligation. This requires energy suppliers to buy 3 percent of electricity from green power schemes next year, rising to 10 percent by 2010. – A government report says Scotland has the potential to generate three-quarters of the United Kingdom’s total electricity through renewable energy resources. The Scottish Executive study shows that wind, wave and tide power could generate 60 gigawatts of electricity, or the equivalent of 75 percent of capacity in the U.K. – The Illinois Department of Commerce & Community Affairs is accepting applications for US$4 million in rebates and grants for projects that increase the use of innovative energy technologies in the state. Applications will be accepted until the end of January, and customers of utilities or co-operatives that are assessed by the Renewable Energy Resources Trust fund, may be awarded funding for solar and wind energy installations, dedicated crops grown for energy production, organic waste biomass, and hydropower that does not involve new construction or significant expansion of hydro dams. – An ethical energy fund with an initial offering of Euro 160 million has been incorporated by Matrix Asset Management Ltd, with a primary target of investing in regenerative energy projects such as wind, solar, biomass and hydropower. The Veritas Fund incorporates standards of socially responsible investing as well as the values and morals defined by the Roman Catholic church. Matrix is in cooperation with P&T Technology AG, a German company that specializes in turnkey energy projects and is the primary candidate to receive funding for identified windfarms. – The World Bank has agreed to two loans of US$100 million to support the Bujagali Hydropower Project in Uganda, where less than 3 percent of the residents have access to grid electricity. Located on the Victoria Nile River, the Bujagali project consists of a 200 MW run-of-river hydro station that will facilitate an economic transformation in Uganda. The World Bank says there is no evidence of corruption involving the Bujagali project. – Cree leader Ted Moses, has denied that a tentative deal reached this fall with the province of Quebec for a Cdn$3.8 billion hydroelectric project has any significant opposition from native peoples in Canada. An agreement-in-principle with the provincial government means the Cree may receive $3.5 billion over 50 years and greater economic control of their communities, in return for which Cree elders promised to drop $3.6 billion in environmental lawsuits and accepted $3.8 billion in hydro installations along the Eastmain and Rupert rivers. – The South Pacific country of Samoa will increase its hydro generation capacity and expand electricity distribution through a US$6 million loan approved by the Asian Development Bank. The project will expand the Afulilo hydropower facility, increasing the reservoir’s storage volume by 50 percent to 15 million cubic meters, and install a third 2 MW generator in Ta’elefaga power station, construct a 7.1 km gravity diversion canal and upgrade the transmission grids. – Russia has commissioned a 7 MW geothermal facility in Kamchatka. A second turbine will be completed by next spring to raise output to 50 MWh, which will supply one-quarter of the electricity in the Kamchatka region. The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development granted US$100 million for construction. – There has been a delay in a capital increase planned for Energia Hidroelectrica de Navarra of Spain, which would make it the world’s largest renewable energy group with a value of Euro 3.3 billion. Iberdrola SA says it postponed the capital hike “due to a conflict in the timetable.” EHN is owned 37 percent by Iberdrola, 38 percent by Sociedad de Desarrollo de Navarra SA, 15 percent by Cementos Portland SA and 10 percent by savings bank Caja Navarra. – New Zealand’s hydro storage levels have moved above the national average for the first time since last January, but generators warn that it is too early to say if a power crisis next year has been averted. The country generates two thirds of its power from hydro dams with low storage capacity. – A utility advertising campaign to allow customers to select electricity from wind, water, coal or nuclear generation has been temporarily halted by a Hamburg court. E.ON AG’s ‘Mix-it’ campaign was stopped by a court injunction after the Hamburg energy company Hansestrom claimed the advertising was misleading because E.ON cannot actually separate the different sources. The message of E.ON’s national campaign, promoted by celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, was that customers could choose ‘green’ sources for their supply and the campaign was designed to enable E.ON to see which source of energy is popular with customers and how much they are prepared to pay for renewable energy. The company will meet with Hansestrom to reach an out-of-court settlement. – Energy Developments Ltd of Australia has finalized a long-term deal to sell 23 MW of power from two new landfill gas projects in the U.S. EDL says electricity from the facilities in Lowellville and Oberlin, Ohio, will be purchased by wholesale electricity supplier American Municipal of Ohio under a long-term power purchase agreement, in a move that will bring EDL’s waste to energy capacity in the U.S. to 30 MW. – Large consumers of electricity among Brazilian companies are preparing for future increases in the cost of power by competing in auctions for hydro plants and by investing in co-generation projects. Votarantim has nine new generation projects planned and already generates half of its consumption. BHP Billiton sees the energy issue as the major impediment to increased aluminum production and, with Alcan Brasil, is investing in generation. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is distributing US$260 million in loan and grant funds for 24 states to boost bioenergy production, expand rural business ventures and improve community development. Agriculture secretary Ann Veneman says the Bush administration “strongly supports renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel as important parts of the nation’s energy plan.” – Britain’s energy regulator Ofgem is setting up new guidelines to help consumers who wish to buy green power. The guidelines will define what constitutes green energy and explain what consumers should expect from a green tariff. Ofgem says they will give customers the confidence that a green tariff actually contributes positively to the environment. Several suppliers currently offer green power, but the number is expected to rise quickly once the government’s Renewables Obligation comes into effect next year, requiring utilities to supply at least 3 percent in green power. – Australia’s sugar state, Queensland, is pushing ahead with solar and ethanol sources. The state government is switching its 7,500 vehicles to a blend of ethanol produced from sugar cane waste, and is installing solar panels to air condition 21 schools within six months, and possibly one hundred in the next five years. Power generated by the PV panels during school vacations will be fed into the grid. – The helical water turbine developed by Alexander Gorlov of Northeastern University, has earned a prestigious award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineering for the former Russian who was expelled from the Soviet Union in the 1970’s. The turbine looks like a horizontal egg-beater and uses high efficiency conversion of kinetic energy from tidal, current or slow moving water flows of all kinds. – The South African utility Eskom has bought a 51 percent stake in Zambia’s Lusemfwa Hydro Power as part of its bid to expand activities in Africa and the Middle East. The Zambian company operates two hydroelectric power stations in central Zambia, with a combined capacity of 36 MW, which will be refurbished. – Russia has started the first power unit of the Mutnovskaya geothermal power plant in Kamchatka, located on a slope of the Mutnovskiy volcano. The US$166 million plant’s current capacity of 25 MW will double with a second unit, and save the cost for coal and fuel oil supplies. The cost will be aided by a credit from the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development. – Spain’s recent power cuts were caused by an unfortunate combination of a sharp rise in demand, cold weather conditions, an obsolete distribution and transportation network and a lack of rain during the autumn. Utility sources say 10,000 MW were out of service at hydroelectric plants in December, and another 2,000 MW at windfarms and 4,000 MW at thermal plants. – A five-year initiative will promote renewable energy in poor rural communities in Chile. The project will provide electricity to 10,000 homes and pave the way for electrification of 100,000 homes with renewable energy by 2020. The UNDP Global Environment Facility will grant US$6 million and another $26 million will come from the Chilean government, private sector and local communities. – Construction has started on the largest biomass combined heat and power plant in the United States, which will generate 25 MW of electricity and 300,000 pounds an hour of steam for heating and cooling in downtown St Paul, Minnesota. The US$55 million plant is being built by Saint Paul Cogeneration LLC, a joint venture of Trigen Energy, Cinergy Solutions and Market Street Energy. Purchase agreements have been reached for the electricity, and the thermal energy will be distributed to new buildings such as the Science Museum of Minnesota.


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