Pickens calls off massive wind farm in Texas, cites grid problems

US energy baron T. Boone Pickens has announced that plans for the world’s largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle have been scrapped.

Pickens had already ordered the 687 giant turbines, which stand 122m tall.

Pickens’s company Mesa Power ordered the turbines from GE Energy – a $2bn investment – a little more than a year ago. Pickens said he has leases on about 80 900 hectares in the state of Texas that were planned for the project, adding that he is also looking for smaller wind projects to participate in and is looking at potential sites in the midwestern United States, as well as Canada.

In Texas, the problem lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system, Pickens said in an interview. The tycoon had hoped to build his own transmission lines but said there were technical problems.

Pickens has spent $60m criss-crossing the United States and buying advertising in an effort to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil. “It doesn’t mean that wind is dead,” said the Texan oilman, who runs the Dallas-based energy investment fund BP Capital, “It just means we got a little bit too quick off the blocks.”

Joint agreement signed between World Energy Research and Blue Energy Canada

World Energy Research and Blue Energy Canada have signed a joint agreement in which World Energy Research will finance the development of Blue Energy Canada’s first 200 MW commercial tidal power project, at a cost of $500m.

“After exhaustive research, World Energy Research found several companies capable of producing small amounts of energy, but none on the scale of Blue Energy’s Davis tidal turbine, which was developed specifically to harness tidal power on a large-scale,” said Chad Willis, managing director of World Energy Research.

‘The Blue Energy vertical-axis turbine represents two decades of Canadian research and development, which generates an inexpensive, non-exhaustible source of environmentally safe electricity to power the world’s energy needs,’ says Blue Energy Canada’s CEO, Martin J. Burger.

Contract development begins for proposed Comanche Peak expansion

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Limited (MHI) and Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Company LLC (CP Nuclear Power) have announced their intention to negotiate the engineering and procurement contracts, as well as a preliminary construction plan necessary for the proposed expansion of the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) detailing plans to finalize an overall engineering and procurement agreement for the project, and have begun discussions.

Also joining in the MoU are Luminant and Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems Inc (MNES). CP Nuclear Power is a joint venture of Luminant and MHI, which will own and oversee development and construction of the proposed new units.

The proposed expansion would use the US-APWR (Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor) – MHI’s unit capable of producing 1700 MW.

DOE takes another step forward on FutureGen project

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Record of Decision to move forward with FutureGen, the US’ first commercial-scale, fully integrated, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project.

When operational, the facility will use integrated gasification combined-cycle technology with CCS into a deep saline geologic formation.

Over the next eight to ten months, the FutureGen Alliance will complete a preliminary design, refine cost estimates, develop a funding plan, and expand the sponsorship group.

Ontario suspends plans for two nuclear reactors

Ontario recently announced it is suspending plans to build two new nuclear reactors, citing concerns about vendor Atomic Energy Canada Limited’s (AECL) viability and pricing.

The provincial government said AECL’s bid to build the two new nuclear power plants at its Darlington station, 69 km east of Toronto by 2018, was the only one to meet its terms and objectives. France’s Areva and Westinghouse Electric had also bid on the project in February.

But, in the end, none of the proposals presented ‘suitable’ long-term energy costs for the province, Ontario Energy Minister George Smitherman said. He added: “Uncertainty regarding the company’s future prevented Ontario from continuing with the procurement at this time.”

Chilea invalidates permit for AES’ coal power plant

The Supreme Court of Chile has invalidated an environmental permit granted by the Chilean regulatory authorities for the Campiche power plant – a 270 MW coal plant located in Ventanas.

Construction on the project, owned by AES Gener and due to be online in the second half of 2011, will resume when a solution has been implemented that complies with all applicable laws.

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Chile: State-owned copper company Codelco Norte is to build a $700m wind farm outside Calama, northern Chile. The project’s 125 wind turbines will generate 250 MW.

Mexico: Gamesa has entered into an agreement with Turbo Power Baja Energy for the supply of five G87-2.0 MW wind turbines for the Rumorosa wind farm, in the state of Baja California.

Panama: Panama Central Electrica, has entered into a MoU with Generadora Hidroelectrica Santa Maria, for the development of a 25 MW hydroelectric plant in Veraguas, Panama. The intention is to commence construction late 2010.

USA: The Maryland Public Service Commission have issued a key approval for a proposed 1600 MW nuclear plant at Calvert Cliffs, southern Maryland. The project follows a comprehensive, 18-month review, including multiple public hearings.

USA: The country has officially joined the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), increasing the countries in the organization to 136. The US participation is an important element of the Obama Administration’s effort to support clean energy technologies and the development of the low-carbon economies needed to address climate change.

USA: The US DOE is to conduct what it says is the world’s first large-scale project to design, build, and test a warm gas cleanup system to remove multiple contaminants from coal-derived syngas. The DOE teamed up with Research Triangle Institute International to demonstrate the 50 MW system at Tampa Electric Company’s IGCC power plant.

USA: Spain’s Iberdrola Renovables says it hopes to secure $400–$500m in US government aid in order to develop new wind projects in the US. They plan to start up and bring on stream around 850 MW of wind energy in 2009.

USA: Southern California Edison has issued a Request for Offers (RFO) for new power contracts to independent generators and marketers. The RFO seeks agreements of up to and including 45 months. Contracts should include dispatchable tolling agreements, non-dispatchable qualifying facilities resources, financial call options, and resource-adequacy capacity products.