AMERICAS

US coal station mandated to install pollution controls

A federal appeals court has ruled that the owners of the San Juan Generating Station, a huge coal fired power plant in New Mexico, US must continue with plans to install strong pollution controls.

Several Californian cities purchase electricity from the plant.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency ruled last year that the plant was required to install strong “selective catalytic reduction”, or SCR, equipment to cut its yearly output of 16 000 tonnes of ozone, fine particulate matter and other pollutants in order to meet federal standards.

The plant’s owner, energy company PNM, is appealing the EPA ruling, and the company and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez had motioned to delay the implementation of those controls until the appeal is decided.

But the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the motion in a ruling that ran to only a couple of sentences.

The ruling came on the heels of a Sierra Club report that found that at the same time PNM was fighting the more costly pollution controls, it had dramatically increased its rates and its profits, while not meeting state energy-efficiency and renewables targets.

Wartsila in O&M deal for biggest plant yetC

Wartsila has signed an operation & maintenance agreement for the new 380 MW Suape II power plant in Brazil.

The plant is the biggest ever built by Finland’s Wartsila and is equipped with 17 of the company’s 20-cylinder, 46F engines. It was inaugurated at the end of last year.

The three-year O&M deal is with domestic power firm Energética Suape II and a Wartsila team will be permanently on site to operate and maintain the facility, which is an intermediate-load plant designed to feed electricity to the national grid when fluctuations in the supply of hydropower create a need for compensatory capacity.

Iberdrola finishes 304 MW wind farm

Spanish utility Iberdrola has completed the construction of the 304 MW Blue Creek wind farm located in the Van Wert and Paulding Counties of Ohio.

The wind farm employs 152 units of Gamesa G90 turbines which each have a capacity of 2 MW.

Iberdrola signed a power purchase agreement with US company FirstEnergy Solutions in Feburary last year for 100 MW of the total output of the Blue Creek project over the next 20 years.

Apple set to build biggest US solar farm to run data centre

Apple has revealed ambitious plans to build America’s largest solar panel farm.

The firm hopes to use renewable energy to power a vast new data centre in North Carolina using the 100 acre array of panels.

The Maiden data centre helps power Apple’s online operations, including the iTunes store that delivers music and apps to the firm’s users.

“Our goal is to run the Maiden facility with high percentage renewable energy mix, and we have major projects under way to achieve this ࢀ” including building the nation’s largest end user-owned solar array and building the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the United States,” Apple said.

When completed, the 100-acre, 20 MW facility will supply 42 million kWh of clean, renewable energy annually. However, Apple’s site is still dwarfed by the world’s largest array, Golmud Solar Park in China, which produces 200 MW of power.

The solar array was revealed as part of a raft of green announcements in Apple’s 2012 facilties report.

The London Evening Standard also reports that the company also revealed a host of other energy saving moves, including LED lighting to illuminate signs at Apple Stores around the world, and a solar thermal water heater in the cafeteria of its Cork facility in Ireland.

Dominion plans $1bn gas plant

US power company Dominion Resources is proposing to spend $1bn to build a natural-gas powered power plant in South-Central Virginia.

The Virginia based power company said it plans to seek State Corporation Commission approval for the plant, planned for Brunswick County, later this year.

The proposed plant, with an estimated capacity of more than 1.3 GW, is targeted for completion in summer 2016 and is expected to produce enough electricity to power more than 325 000 homes.

The output would replace electricity from two coal fired units that are likely to be retired by 2016.

CPFL pays $620m for Brazilian wind farm quartet

Brazil’s largest non-government electricity generation and distribution utilities, CPFL, is to buy Bons Ventos Geradora de Energia, a Brazilian wind-power company, for $620m.

Bons Ventos owns four wind farms which have a licensed capacity of 157.5 MW.

The wind farms are located in Brazil’s northeastern coast state of Ceara and have contracts with Eletrobras, Brazil’s state-controlled electricity utility holding company, to supply power for 20 years.

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Argentina: Energy demand in Argentina hit a new record when it reached 396.4 GWh in February. The previous record was 390.4 GWh, which was reached on 21 January.

Brazil: The Ministry of Mines and Energy has approved testing of units 1 and 2 at the Victor Baptista Adami small-scale hydroelectric power plant. Each unit has a capacity of 12.5 MW.

Brazil: GE plans to build a $35m wind turbine assembly plant in Brazil.

The plant is due to be built during the next 6 to 12 months. GE has secured about one-fifth of the supply contracts for Brazilian wind projects.

Canada: Algonquin Power has announced a 25 year power purchase agreement with SaskPower for a 177 MW wind farm. The $355m project will be in Chaplin, Saskatchewan, and is due to be completed by 2016.

Canada: Mustus Energy is to work with Lockheed Martin to build a 41.5 MW biomass power plant in Alberta, Canada. The project, which is due to start this Spring and be completed by 2013, will provide enough energy to power over 30 000 Canadian homes.

Chile: The Chilean government wants to add 8000 MW of electricity to the national grid by 2020, while guaranteeing “clean, secure and viable energy” supply. President Sebastian Pinera said without clean electricity “Chile will not become a developed country”.

Mexico: Mexican wind power capacity is set to rise from 569 MW to about 2000 MW by the end of this year. By 2014 the generation “will be over 2500 MW”, said Leopoldo Rodràƒ­guez, president of the Mexican Association of Wind Energy. Investment in Mexico’s wind power sector currently stands at $2bn.

US: First Solar Inc is to build a 26 MW solar power plant for power producer NRG Energy Inc in Arizona. The plant, the Avra Valley solar project, will be built by First Solar and use the US company’s thin film panels mounted on a tracker that tilts the panels to follow the sun’s arc.

US: Tri-State has entered into a 20 year power purchase agreement to buy electricity from the 67 MW Colorado Highlands wind project. The facility will be developed by Colorado Highlands Wind, which is jointly owned by Alliance Power and GE Energy Financial Services.

US: National Grid in the US is proposing a $44m project to pilot smart grid technology with 15000 customers in the town of Worcester, Massachusetts. The project would aim to help customers take greater control of how they use energy, improve energy efficiency and increase electric system reliability. National Grid will install 5000 smart meters ahead of the pilot, in partnership with an as yet unnamed smart meter supplier.

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