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Monthly Archives: April 2017

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San Diego water board looking into pumped storage hydro

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The San Diego County Water Authority board of directors on Thursday authorized the Water Authority, in conjunction with the city of San Diego, to begin seeking detailed proposals for a potential energy storage facility at San Vicente Reservoir.

The project could help ease pressure on power grids by producing locally generated renewable energy on demand, and also lessen upward pressure on water rates by providing a new source of revenue.

In January, the Water Authority and the city reached out to electric utilities, developers, investors and energy off-takers—other entities wishing to purchase the services that this project would provide—through a request for letters of interest to measure outside interest in participating in the potential San Vicente Energy Storage Facility. The project, which would provide up to 500 MW of renewable energy and increase the region’s electric grid stability during peak times for energy use, garnered significant interest through the advertised request.

The Water Authority received responses to the request from 18 qualified parties. These included five full-service entities that would finance, design, permit, build, and operate the potential project and secure an off-taker for the produced energy.

Other respondents included two developers, five off-takers, and six other parties interested in constructing the project, providing equipment for the project, or serving as a consultant for engineering, procurement, and construction services.

“We wanted to find out if there really is a broad desire among potential stakeholders to see a project like this in our region, and now we know there is,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s board of directors. “We’re now going to gather more details about how it could come together for the benefit of ratepayers.”

The interest letters received also helped the Water Authority and the city of San Diego identify preferred partnership models that minimize risk to the agencies. These potential partnerships include a lease model – in which the Water Authority and city of San Diego would receive a share of revenue for use of their water and land assets – and a limited partnership option.

Discussions with the qualified respondents substantiated major findings from feasibility studies of the potential project that began in late 2013, including:

·      The potential project would be a valuable resource. Located in an energy load center, the project would help stabilize the energy transmission grid operated by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

·      The project size is appropriate. A 500 MW project with 5 to 8 hours of energy storage would help investor-owned utilities meet a state mandate to procure 50 percent of their energy from renewable energy sources by 2030.

·      Infrastructure exists to support the project. Existing resources the project could capitalize on include the San Vicente Dam and Reservoir and a nearby high-voltage transmission line.

The potential project would consist of an interconnection and pumping system between the existing San Vicente Reservoir and a new, smaller reservoir located uphill. The system would be used during off-peak energy-use periods to pump water uphill to the new upper reservoir, creating in it a bank of stored hydroelectric energy. That energy would be released to the lower reservoir by gravity at times when other renewable energy supplies, such as solar, are unavailable and when energy demand and electricity costs are higher.

In addition to adding renewable energy to the region, energy storage could support electrical grid operations that are essential to integrating large new supplies of other renewable electricity into the California and Western power grids – notably solar, but also wind. It also makes it easier to quickly ramp up or down energy generation as needed.

The Water Authority already operates an energy storage facility at Lake Hodges, which in 2011 began its operations of pumping water to Olivenhain Reservoir and generating up to 40 megawatts of electricity on demand for the region through downhill releases. The agency’s San Vicente Dam Raise Project – completed in 2014 through a partnership with the city of San Diego – provided additional opportunity for energy storage because it created approximately 100,000 acre-feet of new regional carryover storage water supplies and 52,000 acre-feet of new emergency storage capacity. (This increase in water storage also increased the hydroelectric energy potential at the reservoir site.) The Water Authority owns the additional storage capacity created by the dam raise and completed filling its carryover storage capacity in summer 2016.

The request for proposals will solicit more specific information from potential project partners. It will require respondents – if not already a full-service team – to partner with other entities to provide a full-service team. Any interested parties can respond, including entities that did not previously respond to the request for letters of interest. The Water Authority expects to advertise the request for proposals by this summer, and evaluate received proposals by the end of this year.

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Pacifico Energy starts building 257.7 MW solar power plant

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Tokyo-based Pacifico Energy started construction on its largest solar power generation plant, the 257.7 MW (DC) Sakuto Mega Solar Power Plant in Mimasaka, Okayama, Japan.

The plant will be constructed on land in Mimasaka City, Okayama Prefecture that was previously the proposed site of the Sakuto St.Valentine Resort and the former site of the Peninsula Golf Club’s Yunogo Course—nearly 1,000 acres.

Operations are expected to start in September 2019, representing a 30-month construction period.

Once commissioned, the plant will generate about 290 million kWh of electricity annually, representing an annual reduction of about 200,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Chugoku Electric Power Co. will purchase all electricity generated by the plant.

Pacifico Energy has already completed construction of two other solar power plants in Okayama (in Kumenan and Mimasaka), which are both now in commercial operation, so the Sakuto Mega Solar Power Plant will be the third project for Pacifico Energy in Okayama.

Leveraging know-how and experience gained through developing, constructing, and operating utility scale solar power plants all over the world, we shall continue constructing power plants that contribute to the development of regional communities in an environmentally friendly way.

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Kyocera, partners break ground on 92 MW solar power plant in Japan

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Kyocera Corp., K.K. GAIA POWER, Kyudenko Corp. and Tokyo Century Corp. that Kanoya Osaki Solar Hills, a solar power operating company jointly established by the four companies, has launched construction of a 92 MW solar power plant.

Located on a site stretching across Kanoya City and Osaki Town in Kagoshima Prefecture, the project will become one of the largest solar power installations in the Kyushu region of Japan spanning across about 494 acres, making it almost the same size as the country Monaco. A ceremony was held on April 27 to commemorate the plant’s groundbreaking.

Project planning began in January 2014, as the local community expressed interest in repurposing land that was designated for a golf course more than 30 years ago but subsequently abandoned.

The site plan will accommodate 340,740 Kyocera solar modules and is expected to generate roughly 99,230 MWh annually — enough electricity to power about 33,370 typical households, offsetting roughly 52,940 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Under the agreement, Kanoya Osaki Solar Hills will operate the business, and a consortium established by Kyudenko and Gaia Power is undertaking the design, construction and maintenance of the solar installation.

Kyocera is supplying its high-efficiency solar modules and Tokyo Century is responsible for the finance arrangement. About $315 million in investment is planned for the project, with a goal to begin operations in January 2020.

The massive installation is expected to contribute to the local community through job creation and increase of tax revenues in Kanoya City and Osaki Town. In addition to obtaining forestland development permission, a year-long environmental impact assessment has been completed for the large-scale project. Furthermore, the plant will feature an environmentally friendly design by minimizing land development.

The companies will continually work with Kagoshima Prefecture, Kanoya City, Osaki Town and other members of the community to complete construction, and they remain committed to promoting renewable energy as well as contributing to environmental protection and the creation of a sustainable society.

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GE to deliver more efficient gas engines to German market

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As Germany transitions to greater energy efficiency through its Energy Transition plan, it looks to increase the use of natural gas to enable renewable energy and reduce emissions.

Helping to promote energy security in Europe, GE’s Distributed Power worked with pilot customer Stadtwerke Rosenheim to develop a modification and upgrade for its Jenbacher J920 FleXtra gas engine that increases the power output of the engine by nearly 10 percent—an increase from 9.5 MW to 10.38 MW for the 50-hertz unit.

The power boost of more than 0.8 MW electrical output has increased the number of European homes that can be served with power from 18,500 homes to more than 20,000, and this additional output comes from the existing engine, which has been upgraded. The modified and upgraded pilot engine already contributed reliably to the power and heat supply of the city of Rosenheim last winter.

GE’s Jenbacher 50-hertz J920 FleXtra gas engine breaks the 10 MW threshold. Illustrated by the example of a 100 MW power plant where it can now meet the net power output with one less engine.

The natural gas-fired Jenbacher J920 FleXtra combined heat and power system (CHP) provides electricity and thermal power (hot water) for local residents and industrial customers with a lower carbon footprint compared to conventional power plants, supporting Germany’s effort to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40 percent by 2020.

Also, the Jenbacher J920 FleXtra gas engine’s short startup time increases Stadtwerke Rosenheim’s operational flexibility to overcome the challenges of intermittency associated with adding more wind, solar and other renewable energy supplies.

“European customers are searching for cost-effective solutions to cover their energy demands, and regulations require high total energy efficiency and low emissions. Using a Jenbacher J920 FleXtra gas engine for CHP applications and reaching a total energy efficiency of 90 percent and more is a very attractive option for municipality customers, as it can provide an environment-friendly, reliable and economical solution to meeting the region’s energy demand,” said Niall Prendiville, general manager, J920 FleXtra product line for GE’s Distributed Power. “GE and Stadtwerke Rosenheim share more than a decade of gas engine innovation, which made the company an excellent associate to work with to develop this modification and upgrade that will help it provide more flexible power and heat to its business and residential customers.”

The modification and upgrade is part of the planned evolution of the Jenbacher J920 FleXtra gas engine. Two-stage turbo charging with higher boost pressure is the enabler for such upgrades and increasing power output. The Jenbacher J920 FleXtra gas engine is now a 10.38-MW engine manufactured in the company’s Jenbach, Austria, facility. The new 10.38-MW offering is for 50-hertz applications, while the 9.34-MW offering is for 60-hertz applications.

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South African court strikes down Russian nuclear power deal

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African court has ruled that the government plans to increase the country’s reliance on nuclear power with help from Russia and other countries are unlawful.

The ruling Wednesday by the Western Cape High Court followed arguments by non-governmental groups that the public had not been sufficiently consulted about the plans and that South Africa could not afford more nuclear facilities.

Critics have been concerned that the nuclear deals could be vulnerable to graft at a time when President Jacob Zuma faces calls to resign because of scandals and the recent dismissal of a finance minister who was seen as a bulwark against corruption.

South Africa currently has two nuclear reactors that generate about 5 percent of the country’s electricity.

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Clark joins JLM Energy as chief operating officer

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Renewable energy firm JLM Energy announced Friday it has hired Erin Clark as chief operating officer. At JLM, Clark will focus on scaling operations for rapid growth. As COO, he will oversee a broad set of responsibilities ranging from sales and marketing, to finance and product development.

“Erin is a 15-year veteran of the solar and construction industries,” said, Farid Dibachi, JLM Energy’s CEO and co-founder. “We are counting on his insights as we deliver a superior customer experience with our new Phazr MicroStorage. This product suite includes our home energy ecosystem, which continually optimizes energy use and provides homeowners with choice and control over the traditional utility model.”

Clark said, “JLM’s MicroStorage technology is poised to bring energy storage into the main stream with its plug and play design and affordable price point. Our products enable every contractor nationwide to get into the storage business. For consumers who want choice and control, JLM will be the household name.

Clark most recently served as president of nationwide roofing and solar contracting company. During his tenure, he doubled the revenue of this company over a four-year period to more than $400 million. Prior to that role, Erin was vice president of operations at RGS where he ran this public company’s expansive business across a broad geographic region. In addition to being a solar contractor, Erin is also a licensed general contractor.

“I am thrilled to have Erin at JLM. His experience, industry knowledge and business acumen is exactly what JLM needs at this hyper-growth stage,” said Dibachi.

JLM Energy is an energy technology company. JLM has created a fully-integrated software platform and energy technology bundle that optimizes energy use and maximizes savings for customers. The bundle includes solar, energy storage, monitoring devices, algorithms and load controllers that are all unified a single software platform.

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Dominion's Project Plant It!® Grows in New States to Cultivate Learning

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– Now in 11th year, program branches out to four states in western U.S.

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Maryland may host the nation's largest offshore wind farm

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland Public Service Commission is considering two proposals for offshore turbines off the coast of Ocean City, giving Maryland the potential to host the nation’s largest offshore wind farm.

The companies — US Wind and Deepwater Wind — plan to build wind turbines off the coast, using wind to generate clean energy. The turbines are connected to transmission lines that travel underground, carrying the energy to substations to be stored, distributed and used.

The approval of just one farm would put Maryland on the map with the largest, but the commission could potentially approve both proposals as long as both projects would not exceed an established price and fee increase for ratepayers, according to the Maryland Public Service Commission’s Communications Director Tori Leonard.

Maryland is required to produce a certain amount of renewable energy through its renewable energy portfolio standard. If Maryland is not able to produce that amount within the state, they can purchase energy credits known as ORECs from out-of-state vendors, and vice versa. An OREC, or Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit, is a way of bundling and selling the clean electricity produced by wind farms.

Maryland’s current standard has a specific carve-out for offshore wind energy of up to 2.5 percent per year. Until an offshore wind project is approved and running, the 2.5 percent of renewable energy is being fulfilled by other fuels, like solar or geothermal energy.

The cost of the credits is capped, so a residential ratepayer would not pay more than $1.50 per month more, and a non-residential rate payer, like a small business owner, would not pay more than 1.5 percent more per month.

“For less than a cup of coffee (per month for homeowners), we can produce cleaner energy,” said Liz Burdock, executive director of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, calling the decision a no-brainer.

If the commission approves both projects, the estimated non-residential rate would increase per bill by 1.39 percent, with US Wind’s totaling 0.96 percent and Deepwater Wind’s totaling 0.43 percent. The estimated monthly residential rate would increase by $1.44, with US Wind’s being $0.99 per month and $0.45 per month, according to a March 21 report from Levitan and Associates, a contractor that provides documents and analysis on the offshore wind projects.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, signed into law the Offshore Wind Act of 2013. This law set the parameters for wind farms in Maryland, clarifying where they could be located, requiring the commission’s approval, and authorizing the state to provide and purchase energy credits from these wind farms.

The Democrat-controlled legislature overrode Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the 2016 Clean Energy Jobs Act during the 2017 General Assembly session. Under the law, which the governor argued passed along too many additional costs to ratepayers, the state’s requirement for renewable-energy sourced electricity increased from 20 percent by the year 2022 to 25 percent by the year 2020.

Those who support Maryland offshore wind believe the farms will produce clean air, bring jobs to the state, and put Maryland on the map for clean energy.

Opponents are concerned about the costs, and how the visual impact of the turbines would affect tourism and the possible negative affect it could have on the community.

Delegate Robbyn Lewis, D-Baltimore, told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service she believes a wind farm could help Maryland reach its renewable energy goal. “Given the fact that the state of Maryland has made commitments to expand renewable energy, this is a perfect time to do it,” Lewis said.

Lewis said while she does not have any comment on which proposal she prefers, it would be a disappointment if the commission did not approve either project.

“I hope the Public Service Commission decides to go forward with this,” Lewis said earlier this month. “I look forward to the possibility of creating more jobs, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and having clean air.”

On Nov. 22, the Public Service Commission announced it was considering the two offshore wind farm proposals, one by US Wind Inc., a subsidiary of Toto Holding SpA, and the other by Skipjack Offshore Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Deepwater Wind Holdings, LLC.

The US Wind project occupies a Maryland leasing area, while the Deepwater Wind farm is projected to be built in a Delaware leasing area. Both projects will bring clean energy to Maryland.

Clint Plummer, vice president of development for Deepwater Wind, said he believes his company’s project would benefit Maryland in a manageable way, with a strategy to develop the project in different phases.

“We’re the most experienced developer and we’ve proposed a smaller project with an aggressive price,” Plummer said, comparing his company’s proposal to the competing US Wind project.

Deepwater Wind’s Skipjack project would consist of 15 wind turbines about 19.5 miles off the coast, Plummer said. “It will be a 120 megawatt project, which is enough to power about 35,000 houses in the state of Maryland,” Plummer said.

The Skipjack project is planned to be built 26 miles away from the Ocean City Pier, according to Plummer, minimizing visualization. It is expected to be completed by 2022, according to the company’s website.

The US Wind farm proposal includes 187 turbines, which would create up to 750 megawatts of power, enough to power 500,000 homes in Maryland, according to Paul Rich, the director of project development for US Wind.

The company expects to have the project built by 2020, Rich told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. US Wind anticipates its project would create hundreds of engineering, construction and operating jobs.

There are reportedly about 2 million households in the state, according to the U.S. Census. Maryland gets its energy from coal, hydroelectricity, natural gas, nuclear, solar and wind.

While the US Wind project is closer to shore, expected to be built 12 to 17 miles off the coast, there are reports from Europe that the view attracts tourists, according to Rich. “They’ll be seen, although minuscule. I think the upshot is that there are people who want to see them; people see them as a bright side of the future,” Rich said.

Rich said they have reached out to the Public Service Commission to discuss the potential for the US Wind project to be moved five miles further from the coast to address visual concerns. If this happened, the current layout for the farm would change. Rich confirmed this move is not definite, but is a discussion he hopes to engage in.

Lars Thaaning, the co-CEO of Vineyard Wind, a company under Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners that has managed and invested in European offshore wind farms, spoke at an April 20 Business Network for Offshore Wind Conference about the differences between building in Europe versus building in Maryland.

Thaaning said the industry in the United States is still new and developing while the industry in Europe has been established. America needs more infrastructure investment, according to Thaaning. “There will not be a long-term market (for offshore wind in America) if we do not establish a supply chain,” Thaaning said.

The Public Service Commission held two public hearings — March 25 in Berlin, Maryland, and March 30 in Annapolis — where legislators and constituents testified on the proposals.

Don Murphy, a Catonsville, Maryland, resident who said he plans to retire in Ocean City, testified against the wind farm proposals at the hearing in Berlin.

Murphy said the project proposals made him feel outraged, horrified and speechless.

“The decisions you make could have an adverse impact on Maryland’s greatest economic engine, Ocean City,” Murphy said. The sight of the wind turbines could impact tourism in Ocean City, according to Murphy.

Murphy proposed that Maryland hold off building these wind farms until the industry is more established, with the fear that they would make headway on the project and regret doing so without proper research.

“It’s said that the early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese,” Murphy said. “Why rush into this venture when you can wait long enough to just (receive) the benefits?”

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan acknowledged Murphy’s concerns during his testimony. “I am concerned about our community and about, as I said, 26,000 property owners and over 8 million visitors that come to Ocean City every year,” Meehan said. Meehan reiterated Murphy’s point that the commission shouldn’t rush into a decision.

“I believe we should more forward, but we only have one chance to get this right,” Murphy said. “.We ought to make sure that we’re not asking questions later that we didn’t have the answers to in the beginning. I can assure you, once this starts, there will be questions.”

Multiple people who gave testimony in Annapolis addressed the concerns from those opposed for aesthetic reasons. One man testifying asked those in the room to raise their hands if they found turbines aesthetically beautiful, to which many people responded in favor.

James McGarry, the Maryland and D.C. policy director for Chesapeake Climate Action Network, urged the Public Service Commission to take action and be the leader for offshore wind. “Maryland is one of the most vulnerable (states) in the country from climate change with sea level rises,” McGarry said.

“Maryland can be a central hub,” he said, during his March 30 testimony.

Morgan Folger, an environment and health fellow for Environment Maryland, testified March 30 that she believed the United States as a whole was behind the curve when it comes to wind energy and that Maryland should take the steps to expand the industry in the country.

“We all breathe the same air and we all drink the same water,” Folger said. “We’re all equally impacted by the pollution.”

Leonard confirmed the last date for the commission to decide to approve one or both projects is May 17.

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Emera set to install submarine power transmission cables

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The first of two massive submarine power transmission cables arrived in Atlantic Canada aboard the cable-laying ship the Skagerrak.

Integral to Emera’s Maritime Link Project, these cables each measure 105 miles and weigh 6,062 tons – combined, the two cables weigh more than the Eiffel Tower. The first cable was manufactured in Halden, Norway, while the second cable, which is expected to arrive in mid-May, was manufactured in Futtsu, Japan.

The arrival of the Skagerrak, operated by the cable supplier Nexans, marks the start of the submarine cable installation process.

Over the next few weeks members of Nexans’ highly specialized crew will prepare for the installation of the first electrical connection across the Cabot Strait between Nova Scotia and the island of Newfoundland.

Throughout the various stages of the manufacturing process and transport of each cable, members of Emera Newfoundland & Labrador’s Marine Team have been monitoring and inspecting the progression to maintain quality assurance.

“Throughout the manufacturing process, the successful testing phase and the transportation of cables, the team’s commitment continues to be the driving force of our success to date. This brings us another step closer to the completion of the Maritime Link Project later this year.”

Nexans used two facilities for cable manufacturing, allowing both cables to be produced at the same time. The cable manufactured in Futtsu, Japan, was spooled onto a giant barge in early April, and then loaded onto a heavy lift vessel (HLV) for the long journey to the Cabot Strait to await installation.

The HLV carrying the second submarine cable from Japan will take about six weeks to travel to the port in Sydney, NS. It will travel across the Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal and then up the Eastern Seaboard. Expected to arrive in mid-May, it will be loaded onboard the Skagerrak once the first cable is installed. Installation of both submarine cables is expected to be completed by late summer.

Maritime Link Project is part of a larger strategy to address the growing demand for more renewable energy in the region. It will enable the transmission of clean, renewable and reliable electricity from Newfoundland and Labrador to Nova Scotia.

The Maritime Link is a 500 MW high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission project bringing clean renewable energy from the Lower Churchill project at Muskrat Falls to Nova Scotia. The Project will include two 170 km subsea cables across the Cabot Strait, with almost 50 km of overland transmission in Nova Scotia and more than 300 km of overland transmission on the island of Newfoundland.

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