Regional News

North America

Mexico’s Wind Speeds Below Average, Vaisala Says

Many regions of Mexico experienced wind speeds up to 20 percent below average throughout 2015, according to performance maps released in February by Vaisala. The Oaxacan coast, where a majority of operational wind power projects are located, saw high levels of month-to-month variability, Vaisala said.

As Mexico moves to add more wind energy capacity – as much as 10 GW over three years – insight into seasonal and year-to-year wind variability will be critical for operators, Vaisala noted.

Vaisala’s performance maps show that in northern and central Mexico, Q1 wind speeds were 5-20 percent below normal. The trend weakened in Q2 and Q3, but wind speeds remained below average. A shift in weather patterns with elevated wind speeds across much of northwestern Mexico in Q4 was consistent with the strong El Niño climate signal as well as some hurricane activity in the region, Vaisala said.

Hawaii Seeks to Protect State-Level Oversight of Geothermal Development

The Hawaii legislature is considering a bill to ensure that regulations concerning development of geothermal resources are not subject to local restrictions.

The bill would clarify that regulation of geothermal resources is exclusively reserved to the state, and would require rules regarding geothermal exploration and development be uniform throughout the state.

Supporters of the bill claim the adoption of county-level regulations can conflict with state regulation and interfere with the ability of a geothermal energy producer to safely and efficiently conduct exploration or production activities, leading to an increase in the cost of production or loss of investment in the production of additional geothermal resources. Opponents claim the state has a poor record of regulating geothermal development and local rules would protect residents.

Hawaii Senate Committees on Transportation and Energy; Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs; and Water, Land and Agriculture recommended passage of the bill.


UK Government to Review Tidal Lagoon Energy

The U.K. government on Feb. 10 said it has commissioned an independent review into the feasibility and practicability of tidal lagoon energy in the U.K.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change said in a statement that the review will begin in the spring, and that it expects the proposed developers of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project, and other industry stakeholders to take part in the review.

In a statement, Keith Clarke, chairman of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Plc, developer of the Swansea Bay project, welcomed the independent review, saying: “In parallel to the review, we have been asked by government to clarify the financial and technical viability of Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon as the pathfinder for this exciting new industry. This is particularly encouraging as it signals the strength of our offer for Swansea Bay and our future program of lagoons.”

The Swansea Bay proposal includes an energy-generating lagoon with a 320 MW installed capacity and 14 hours of generation daily.

ElectraTherm Delivers Second Biomass-fuel Generator in UK

Waste-to-heat power generation provider ElectraTherm said in February that it has shipped its Power+ generator 4400 to a chicken farm in the U.K.

Slated for a spring 2016 commissioning, the site uses a combination of biomass and combined heat and power (CHP) technology, and is the second Power+ installation in the country.

According to ElectraTherm, its generator uses organic rankine cycle (ORC) and proprietary technologies to generate power from low-temperature heat ranging from 77-122 degrees C. At this chicken farm, the operator uses woodchips to heat a 600-kW biomass boiler to 116 degrees C. The boiler heats water to run the Power+ generator, and produces clean electricity that is sold back to the utility. ElectraTherm said that the Power+ system also acts as a CHP system, and remaining heat from ElectraTherm’s condenser helps dry wood chips as part of the biomass processing.

“The addition of ORC technology is a critical component of our operations, and the benefits of the Power+ generator are proven with more than 50 machines in the field and more than 500,000 hours of operational runtime,” Mick Jones, director of distributor Woodtek Energy, said in a statement.

Africa and Middle East

Eaton to Offer AES Energy Storage Platform in Europe, Middle East, Africa

Power management company Eaton and AES Corp. subsidiary AES Energy Storage have agreed that Eaton will offer AES’ Advancion energy storage platform as part of Eaton’s grid-scale, integrated energy storage systems throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

“Together, Eaton and AES will be able to greatly impact the energy landscape in EMEA,” Cyrille Brisson, Vice President of Marketing, Eaton electrical business in EMEA, said in a statement. “By providing market-leading, innovative energy storage systems to commercial, industrial and utility customers, we will be able to mitigate the investment needed for, and the charges and emissions resulting from, peak demand infrastructure.”

Brisson added that the widespread deployment of systems enabling peak capacity, flexible generation and grid services, coupled with the easy consumption of renewables, will help a smarter grid meet environmental targets.

AES Advancion Energy Storage Array. Credit: AES.

Altitec, Obelisk Form Wind Turbine Services Joint Venture

Wind turbine blade repair provider Altitec in mid-February signed a five-year joint venture agreement with Obelisk, a provider of infrastructure services to the global renewable energy, telecommunications and power markets.

Altitec said the deal enables the two businesses to deliver a range of wind turbine blade and tower services to wind farm owners, operators and original equipment manufacturers operating in the South African market.

The South African wind energy market has grown rapidly in recent years with 15 new wind farms totaling 1,200 MW constructed in the last three years, according to Altitec.

As part of the joint venture agreement, Altitec is training new South African rope access technicians to international standards.

The range of core certified services delivered within the joint venture includes rotor-based inspections based on the principles for the monitoring of wind turbines, composite blade repairs, cleaning and monitoring of equipment and wind turbine tower corrosion protection and repair.


Australian Fringe-of-Grid Solar Project Receives Funding

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said it is providing $8.4 million for Canadian Solar and Scouller Energy to construct a 5-MW DC solar project near Normanton in Queensland, Australia, to demonstrate how integrating solar into the grid can improve energy reliability.

“Like many regional Australian communities, Normanton is on the fringe of one of our major electricity networks,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said. “Adding renewable energy generation closer to where it’s needed can provide more reliable and efficient power. This is a key ARENA investment focus for fringe-of-grid and network constrained areas.”

According to Frischknecht, the Normanton project will be a test case for network provider Ergon Energy to understand the effects on network losses. The Normanton solar project will be jointly owned by Canadian Solar and Scouller Energy.

The project is scheduled for completion in December.

Sunverge Energy, Mitsui Form Strategic Commercial Relationship in Japan

Distributed energy storage provider Sunverge Energy and Japan-based Mitsui & Co. on February 23 announced that they ha formed a strategic commercial relationship that would enable the two companies to collaborate on renewable energy initiatives in Japan.

“Japan is the second largest market for solar PV growth, which in turn is driving demand for intelligent distributed energy storage solutions,” Ken Munson, Sunverge co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Mitsui has been a pioneer in renewable energy and has made early strategic investments in energy storage, and we look forward to working with them to bring the benefits of Sunverge’s advanced technology to more utilities and energy users throughout Japan.”

According to Sunverge, it designs and manufactures intelligent energy storage systems that allow electric utilities to automatically execute demand response programs for individual customers or to meet peak energy demand for an entire community or service area by linking them into virtual power plants.

Japan was the world’s second largest market for solar PV growth for two years running, adding a record 6.9 GW of capacity in 2013 and 9.6 GW in 2014 of nominal nameplate capacity, according to the International Energy Agency.

Latin America

STI Norland Begins Construction at 247 MW Chile Solar Project

STI Norland in early February said it has begun construction activities at the 247-MW El Romero Solar PV plant in Chile.

The project is located in the III Region of Atacama and is under development by Acciona. It is expected to be connected to the power grid by mid-2017 at which time it will be the largest solar PV in Latin America and one of the 10 largest worldwide. For the project, STI Norland is supplying its STI‐F5 fixed structures, the foundations execution and the mechanical installation for JA Solar and Hareon PV modules. STI said that the project will cover about 280 hectares [691 acres] and is expected to generate around 500 GWh annually.

According to STI Norland, part of the energy for the facility will be sold into the Central Interconnected System, and part will be used to power the Google Data Processing Center in Chile.

Construction at the El Romero solar plant in Chile. Credit: STI Norland.

Enel to Use Bifacial Solar Modules for Project in Chile

Enel Green Power (EGP) plans to build a 1.7-MW solar PV project to help power the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

According to EGP, the project will be the world’s first industrial-scale solar array to combine conventional panels and bifacial smart modules that capture solar energy on both sides of the panel. The company said that the combined use of smart and bifacial panels is expected to increase generation by 5 percent to 10 percent compared to a traditional solar PV power plant of the same size.

The construction of the plant will cost about $3.4 million. The facility, which EGP expects to complete in the first half of this year, will be able to generate around 4.75 GWh per year said Enel Green power.

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