Coal investment paralysed by carbon concerns – NRG

The uncertainty surrounding potential limits on carbon dioxide emissions has caused “paralysis and indecision” in the US power industry and has severely hampered efforts to build new coal fired power stations, according to NRG Energy president and CEO David Crane.

As well as carbon emissions, he said there was uncertainty over where federal funding for integrated gasification combined-cycle projects would be made and rising construction costs.

Crane said some in the market thought there was a “de facto moratorium” on building coal fired capacity and NRG Energy was positioning itself for the possibility of regulators making emergency decisions to all for new power generation.

Crane also said the US wind industry was “overheated” but added that NRG Energy was exploring wind plants in areas where it had other projects.

US DoE seeks nuclear reprocessing expertise

The US Department of Energy has offered $60m funding for studies into nuclear fuel reprocessing studies.

The funding is for studies to support a fuel recycling nuclear reactor and a fuel-recycling centre. Recipients will provide conceptual design studies, technology roadmaps and business and communications plans. They will also perform a technology gap analysis and define how technology can be acquired to meet the programme’s needs.

The fuel recycling technologies are part of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, an international grouping carrying out research on so-called generation IV nuclear reactor designs to replace those currently in operation. The new designs are intended to be more economical and reduce proliferation risk.

ABB wins Brazilian contract

ABB has won a $40m order for four new substations to be installed in Brazil’s most populous state, Sao Paulo.

The substations will be installed in the cities of Ribeirao Preto, Sumare, Santa Cabeca and Capivara on behalf of local network operator Companhia de Transmissao de Energia Eletrica Paulista (CTEEP), which operates more than 11 000 km of transmission lines in the state.

The new substations are due to go into operation by mid-2008. As part of the contract ABB will also oversee the civil works installation and commissioning of the new substations.

New York to get more renewable energy

Twenty-one renewable energy projects are being planned for New York by the New York State Energy Research & Develop-ment Authority and New York State Public Service Commission.

The projects will receive incentives totalling $295m over ten years. The incentive translates to around $15 per MWh.

The nine new wind farms, two biomass generators and ten upgraded hydropower plants were selected by competitive tender under the renewable portfolio standard programme and together are rated at around 880 MW of capacity.

Developers are investing $1.4bn in constructing and upgrading the projects and they are due to come into operation in late 2008.

Argentina plant plans clean conversion

Some 60 MW of generating capacity is to be added to a two-unit gas fired power station in Energia Del Sur (EDS), Argentina, bringing it to 138 MW, in a project supported by the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

The new project will see heat recovered from the turbines’ exhaust gases and used to produce steam to power a steam turbine. The heat recovery steam generators for the conversion will be provided by Vogt Power International.

Canada sets CO2 reduction target for 2020

Canada has announced an overall carbon dioxide emissions reduction targets of 20 per cent compared to 2006 levels by 2020, or a reduction of some 150 Mt.

Of that target, reductions in the energy and transportation sectors would contribute 10 Mt, while a further 40 Mt would come from energy efficiency and fuel efficiency measures. Gas emissions from major industrial users would be cut by 60 Mt.

Canadian companies will be able to choose from a range of emissions abatement measures including making in-house reductions, contributing to a capped technology fund and making carbon trades under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

A trading system will be developed so regulated firms can trade reductions amongst themselves. Companies that have already reduced their carbon emissions will receive limited credit for their early action.

US Senator: tax rules discourage investment

The US tax code should be revised to encourage investment in energy and environmental projects, according to a potential candidate for the presidency.

The proposal was made by Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska. He said US rules for capital depreciation were not as favourable as in other countries, and that discouraged investments in projects such as power stations, petroleum refineries and other energy facilities.

He endorsed a study by the American Council for Capital Formation comparing US capital rules with those of Canada, Mexico and nine other countries. Hagel has not yet decided whether to join the race for the White House.

Venezuela to convert to gas

Venezuela has announced plans to convert to gas-fired units all its power stations that currently run on liquid fuels such as diesel or fuel oil.

The plan will encompass 40 per cent of its thermal generation, representing generation of more than 12 GWh annually. The remainder is already gas-fuelled.

Making the announcement, the Energy and Oil Ministry said the conversion would take place between 2009 and 2012.

The conversion will allow the country to export liquid fuels, but will mean imports of gas will increase. It is currently completing a gas pipeline that will allow it to import from Colombia.

Renewables developer calls for more US wave energy support

Renewables developer Jason Bak called on the USA to simplify permitting regulations for offshore projects to make it easier for wave and tidal schemes to be installed.

Testifying in front of a US Congress committee he said that with a “rational regulatory environment” the new industry could deliver “very large amounts of clean energy”.

Bak is CEO of Finavera Renewables, which currently has three wave energy projects under development offshore of California, Oregon and Washington. The company said it hoped to issue construction contracts for the Oregon project this summer.

Gazprom signs carbon emission reduction deal with Brazil firm

Gazprom Marketing & Trading has signed a six-year deal with Propower do Brasil for carbon emission reduction credits under the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism.

The credits will be those awarded by the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism (CDM), which allows industrialized countries to invest in emission-reducing projects in developing countries as an alternative to more costly carbon emission reductions (CER) in their own countries.

Gazprom said that its marketing and trading division has also agreed to assist Propower with financing to invest in other Brazilian CDM projects, which will generate additional CERs. Gazprom has expanded its carbon business to include direct sourcing and financing of global CDM projects to complement its carbon offering for European customers.

Wal-Mart to install in-store solar panels

Wal-Mart, the USA’s largest retailer, is to install solar photovoltaic panels on 22 of its stores in Hawaii and California. The project is intended to determine whether wider use of solar PV is viable for the company.

The solar panels, which are expected to provide 30 per cent of the power used in each of the pilot stores, will be installed and maintained by the supplier, who will provide the power to Wal-Mart under a long-term supply contract. The panel suppliers are BP Solar, SunEdison and PowerLight. The panels are expected to provide up to 20 GWh per year.

Babcock & Brown wins turbine deal

Babcock & Brown has placed an order for 118 2.4 MW turbines with Mitsubishi.

The new turbines will be delivered during 2008 and will be installed at Babcock & Brown wind projects in Southwest USA. The order is a step up in unit capacity for Babcock & Brown, which has bought 443 x 1 MW turbines from Mitsubishi for installation at its wind projects over the last 18 months.

Babcock & Brown has now arranged financing for wind farms totalling over 3000 MW.

Do it like the Swedes: PM

Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt wants to see more co-operation between Sweden and the USA on renewable energy research and development.

Reinfeldt said Sweden had proved that renewable energy strategies can work, reducing greenhouse gases by 7 per cent while expanding the economy 36 per cent. Reinfeldt reviewed US developments on solar and wind energy during a recent tour of the USA.

News Digest

Brazil: Environmental protection agency Ibama has asked for more environmental impact studies on the 6450 MW Madeira river hydroelectric project. The call is likely to delay project tenders for the complex on the Bolivian border, which comprises the 3150 MW Santo Antonio and 3300 MW Jirau projects.

Brazil: GE is to supply three LM2500+G4 gas turbine generators for use on a production platform in Brazil’s Campos Basin. The three 27.8 MW units will be manufactured in Texas and Ohio and sent to the platform at the end of March 2008.

Canada:TransCanada has come out in favour of a nuclear station in Canada’s oil-rich Alberta Province. However, the company, which part owns the Bruce nuclear plant in Ontario, said any plant would be more likely to help meet Alberta’s electricity demand, rather than supplying the steam required to extract oil from shale in the province.

Peru: US power company PSEG is looking for a buyer for its Peruvian generating company Electroandes, the company said. PSEG said it had unsolicited interest in the company and it could be sold by year-end.

USA: Alternate Energy Holdings said it would begin the permitting process later this year that would enable it to build a nuclear station in Idaho. The company has acquired a site near Bruneau and said it intended it to house a 1600 MW nuclear station.

USA: Dominion has awarded a contract to GE for “long lead time” nuclear components for an ESBWR nuclear plant. Dominion has already applied for a site permit to build the ESBWR at its North Anna site in Virginia and a decision is expected later this year.

USA: Foster Wheeler is to provide construction management services for a 400 MW pulverised coal generating station at Salt River, Arizona. The $75m contract follows an earlier contract to supply the project’s boiler. Startup is due in 2009.

USA: Invenergy Wind has doubled its order for 1.5 MW wind turbines from GE. The two companies will now install turbines totalling 1200 MW in Canada/USA during 2008.

USA:The US Department of Energy is set to use its powers to force states between New York and Washington and in the southwest to accept new transmission lines. It has named two so-called “national interest transmission corridors” that would allow it to set routes for the much-needed new connections.

USA: Wave power developer Oceanlinx has announced plans for an energy project a kilometre offshore of Oregon. It would initially install ten devices to generate up to 15 MW but said the site could be scaled up to 100 MW capacity.

USA: Babcock & Wilcox has won a contract to supply and install flue gas desulphurisation equipment at two 550 MW supercritical coal fired plants in West Virginia. The FGD units will be installed at Allegheny Energy’s Fort Martin station as part of a $550m upgrade. B&W is already installing FGD at three units at Allegheny Energy’s Hatfield’s Ferry station.

USA: Black & Veatch is to supply flue gas desulphurization equipment for the four coal-fired generating plants at Plant Crist. The four units, owned by Gulf Power, together generate 970 MW. The FGD plant will be installed by late 2009.

USA: Chevron Energy Solutions is to supply a renewable energy system for use at a sewage treatment works at the City of Rialto. The plant will be a 900 kW fuel cell power plant, fuelled by methane gas produced from the organic materials in the wastewater. The plant should lower greenhouse gas emissions by around 5 Mt per year.

USA:Entergy has emerged from bankruptcy protection 20 month after it filed for protection following hurricane Katrina in September 2005. The hurricane had shattered its electricity supply and gas distribution systems. A reorganisation plan should mean employees keep their jobs and creditors are paid in full.

USA: Mitsubishi Power Systems is to supply 166 2.4 MW wind turbines to Edison Mission Group, to be installed in 2008/9. Mitsubishi has previously supplied wind turbines to Edison for a 120 MW project in operation in New Mexico and an 80 MW project planned for installation in Texas.

USA: Siemens has completed commissioning of the largest FACTs installation in North America. The static volt ampere reactive compensation system was handed over to customer Southern California Edison after just 13 months of implementing and commissioning.

USA: The Shaw Group has won an engineering, procurement and construction contract for a 600 MW power station, awarded by American Electric Power’s Southwestern Electric Power. The contract is for the John W Turk plant.

USA: TXU’s power generation business will be known as Luminant Energy in future. The name switch is a consequence of its $45bn buyout agreement with private equity firms. The delivery business will be known as Oncor Electric Delivery while the retail unit will retain the name TXU Energy.

USA: UPC Solar Management has signed a preferred supplier agreement with Solar Integrated Technologies, which makes building integrated photovoltaic roofing systems. The two companies will work together on building integrated solar in the USA.