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US military sets aside 16m acres for renewables projects

The US Department of Defense is to use 16m acres of its land for renewable energy generation to power military installations.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to encourage the development of renewable projects on public land previously set aside for defense-related purposes.

“We are making millions of acres of public lands and offshore areas available that have the greatest potential for utility-scale solar and wind projects,” said Salazar.

Of the 16m acres targeted for renewable projects, about 13m acres are in the west of the US and are high in wind, solar and geothermal resources, while offshore wind is abundant around installations on Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Hawaii coasts.

Panetta said: “Renewable energy projects built on these lands will provide reliable, local sources of power for military installations, allow for a continued energy supply if the commercial power grid gets disrupted and will help lower utility costs.”

The US Army, Navy and Air Force have each committed to deploy 1 GW of renewable energy on or near its installations by 2025.


US Ex-Im Bank in $32m Brazilian loan

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorised a $32m loan guarantee to a Brazilian wind power company that plans to buy turbine blades from an American manufacturer.

Brazilian wind turbine manufacturer Wind Power Energia, a subsidiary of Argentina’s Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmonais based in Sao Paulo, is building a 211 MW wind farm in the Brazilian state of Ceara and a 180 MW wind farm in the state of Bahia.

It will use the bank loan to buy turbine blades for both projects from Arkansas-based LM Wind Power Blades.


Deal signed for Bolivian hydro plant

Hydrochina Corp is to conduct a feasibility study for the construction of a hydroelectric plant under a memorandum of understanding signed with the Bolivian government.

The 400 MW plant is being proposed for the eastern province of Santa Cruz. The memorandum was signed by Hydrocarbons and Energy Minister Juan Jose Sosa and Hydrochina Corp representatives in the presence of Chinese Ambassador to Bolivia Li Dong, the ministry said in a statement.


Waste fears see regulator halt US nuclear reactor licensing

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is to stop issuing final licenses for nuclear power plants until it addresses the concerns over its nuclear waste policy, which were raised by a recent federal appeals court decision.

The NRC’s decision could affect up to 19 final reactor licensing decisions ” nine construction and operating licenses, eight license renewals, one operating license, and one early site permit.

In June, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out the NRC rule that permitted licensing and re-licensing of nuclear reactors based on the suppositions that, firstly, the NRC will find a way to dispose of spent reactor fuel to be generated by reactors at some time in the future when it becomes “necessary”, and secondly, in the mean time, spent fuel can be stored safely at reactor sites.

The court noted that after decades of failure to site a repository, the NRC “has no long-term plan other than hoping for a geologic repository”.


Latin America sees wind farm progress

A 90 MW, $210m wind complex comprising three wind farms has started operations in the state of Bahia in Brazil.

The three farms ” Macaubas, Novo Horizonte and Seabra ” all have capacity of 30 MW and are operated by Desenvix Energias Renovaveis.

Equipment was provided by Alstom and construction carried out by Brazilian firm Engevix Engenharia.

Meanwhile in Mexico, eight 2.75 MW turbines supplied by GE are to provide the power for public lighting in Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leàƒ³n.

The turbines are on a wind farm being built by Mexican hydroelectric company Comexhidro.


Nuclear developer Shaw Group sold to CB&I for $3bn

Shaw Group, the company at the forefront in developing America’s next generation of nuclear power plants, has been bought out by Texas engineering group CB&I in a deal worth $3bn.

Shaw is building two nuclear power plants ” the first to be licensed in the US since 1978 ” in South Carolina in co-operation with Westinghouse.

It is also developing a further nuclear plant in Georgia and building four nuclear units in China with Westinghouse.

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Brazil: Californian technology provider Silver Spring Networks has been picked by energy company CPFL Energia to deliver a Smart Grid networking project in Brazil. The project will be rolled out across the states of Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Paranàƒ¡ and Minas Gerais.

Canada: Candu Energy has signed a deal with China National Nuclear Corp’s subsidiary companies, Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Co, China North Nuclear Fuel Corp and Nuclear Power Institute of China, to continue cooperation in the development of recycled uranium and thorium as alternative fuels for new Candu reactors.

Canada: Bruce Power has said that Unit 1 of its Bruce A nuclear power plant in Ontario is in the final stages of commissioning and testing. The 750 MW Unit 1 is on track to achieve commercial operation in the third quarter of 2012.

Chile: Energy group Enersis is to go ahead with a planned capital increase of up to $8bn while the company’s parent, Spain’s Endesa, will back the deal with up to $4.86bn in assets.

Peru: Peru plans to auction off concessions to build two gas pipelines, according to Mines and Energy Minister Jorge Merino.

Uruguay: APR Energy bridged an urgent power shortfall for a customer in Uruguay with a 100 MW temporary power solution. It provided the supplementary power to an existing site 40km northwest of Montevideo.

US: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the US has approved a new permit by rule for combined heat and power systems that is expected to reduce regulatory delays and eliminate certain equipment costs, ultimately encouraging its greater development.

US: Wal-Mart Stores has installed more than 150 US solar projects this year. Having just opened its 100th solar powered store in San Diego, the company expects to have as much as 90 MW of capacity by the end of the year.

US: The 177 MW Cape Fear plant in North Carolina and 316 MW Robinson Unit 1 plant in South Carolina have been scheduled for early retirement by Duke Energy subsidiary, Progress Energy for 1st October of this year.

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