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jpak's Journal
jpak's Journal
May 23, 2012

First Wind satisfied with electricity output in 2011, spokesman says (Maine)


Maine’s four First Wind industrial wind sites generated about 27 to 37 percent of their capacity in 2011 — and thereby performed within wind industry standards for projects of their size, a company spokesman said Saturday


According to the figures Lamontagne released, the 57-megawatt Stetson I facility generated about 154,000 megawatts in 2011, or about 421 megawatts per 24-hour day. First Wind’s Mars Hill site generated about 127,500 megawatts of electricity, or an average of 349 megawatts per day. The Stetson II site produced 59,700 megawatts.

Full-year figures for the largest single First Wind site in Maine, the 60-megawatt Rollins Mountain project on ridgelines in Burlington, Lee, Lincoln and Winn, are not yet available. The project came online in July 2011. It generated 59,000 megawatts, the First Wind report states.


According to First Wind estimates, the four projects powered roughly the equivalent of 64,000 Maine homes and helped prevent the creation or burning of close to a million tons of pollutants and oil in 2011. Those estimates are based on U.S. Department of Energy data and standards, Lamontagne said.

May 6, 2012

Estimated cost of Florida's Levy County Nuclear project now $19-24 billion



If approved in its entirety, Progress Energy's total 2013 NCRC charge would be $5.09 on a 1,000-kilowatt-hour (kWh) residential bill beginning with January 2013 billing (compared to $2.86 in 2012). As a result of the previously announced, FPSC-approved rate settlement agreement between Progress Energy and consumer advocates, the portion of the NCRC charge related to the Levy County nuclear project will increase to $3.45 on a 1,000-kWh residential bill in 2013 (compared to the 2012 rate of $2.67) and will remain fixed through 2017. In addition, the utility has requested to adjust the Crystal River Nuclear Plant upgrade-related portion of the NCRC charge to $1.64 on a 1,000-kWh residential bill in 2013 (compared to $0.19 in 2012).

The Crystal River Nuclear Plant has been safely shut down since a delamination – or separation – was discovered within the wall of the plant's containment building during a scheduled maintenance outage in the fall of 2009. The company and outside experts are conducting a thorough and systematic engineering analysis and review and are assessing options to repair the containment building and return the plant to service in 2014.

Also included in the utility's filing are updates to the Levy County nuclear project schedule and cost. Due to lower-than-projected customer demand, the lingering economic slowdown, uncertainty regarding potential carbon regulation and current, low natural gas prices, the company is shifting the in-service date for the first Levy unit to 2024, with the second unit following 18 months later. The revised schedule is consistent with the approach the utility publicly discussed after announcing the recent rate settlement agreement. Although the scope and overnight cost for the Levy County nuclear project – including land acquisition, related transmission work and other required investments – remain essentially unchanged, the shift in schedule will increase escalation and carrying costs and raise the total estimated project cost to between $19 and $24 billion.

On April 27, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project. Based on its comprehensive review, the NRC has determined that there are no environmental impacts that would prevent the agency from issuing the combined operating license for the construction and operation of the proposed reactors. This is an important milestone for the project.

May 6, 2012

Wind a Winner in Developing Nations


Researchers at a Swiss science and technology university testing out which is the most cost-effective renewable energy source in developing countries have made a surprising discovery.

The team calculated the cost of generating a tenth of the electricity demand for each of six countries using either wind turbines or photovoltaic cells. The countries were: Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Nicaragua and Thailand.

Although the six countries selected in the research by ETH Zurich were all in hot climates, researchers found that wind rather than solar power represented the best value for money.

In Kenya and Nicaragua, the results were even more counterintuitive. In both those countries they found that because of the current high oil price, producing electricity with wind power was cheaper in real terms than the present energy model, which relies mainly on electricity generated from fossil fuels.

May 6, 2012

Renewables Driving Electricity Prices below $0 Some Afternoons & Cutting into Baseload Power Plants


Renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind have been outstripping the electricity supply of traditional baseload (coal, nuclear, and some natural gas) power plants during daytime, especially afternoons, in some renewable-leading countries of late. One reason for this is: electricity demand tends to increase during the sunniest (the hottest) hours, and solar power plants generate more electricity when it is sunnier, which is right on cue.

Not perfectly, but solar power production tends to follow electricity demand. This is especially true in the warmer temperatures, since air conditioners (which consume a lot of electricity) are turned up to compensate for the hot afternoon weather.

Importantly, as solar power plants outstrip the power production of baseload power plants, electricity is sold for a lower price than baseload power on the spot market. On April 1 of this year, not even that hot of a day, the price of electricity on the European Electricity Index (ELIX) actually dropped to -0.01.

<more - and a table of data too>
May 6, 2012

NZ Windfarms triples third-quarter revenue


BUSINESSDESK: NZ Windfarms third-quarter revenue tripled, reflecting the completion of its 97-turbine Te Rere Hau wind farm and higher electricity prices offset by lower electricity output caused by a wind speed drop.

Revenue from electricity sales jumped to $2.5 million in the three months ended March 31, from $749,000 in the same quarter last year, the company said.

The wind farm, located near Palmerston North, was completed in July last year.

Its performance “is strongly influenced by wind conditions and electricity prices which are both subject to natural variability and are beyond NZ Windfarm's control”, it said.

May 6, 2012

The end of the line for Minnesota's coal plants?


Sherburne County Generating Station, better known as Sherco, is a power-producing workhorse.

But even good workhorses head to the glue factory eventually.

The 2,400 megawatt coal-fired plant in Becker, 45 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, has generated the bulk of Xcel Energy's electricity for Minnesota for more than three decades.

In the next year, Xcel will have to decide what to do about Sherco as it takes what regional vice president Laura McCarten calls "a deep dive analysis" of its power needs. As part of the analysis required of all regulated utilities by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Minneapolis-based Xcel will look at all its alternatives for the next 20 years, making decisions on which plants it will upgrade and keep and which it may retire or replace in the coming years.

May 6, 2012

Rising electricity prices have little to do with renewable energy (Ontario)


While spring in Ontario has yet to bring much rain, there’s been no shortage of mudslinging over rising electricity prices. But there’s more to it than critics of renewable energy would you have you believe: new data helps to clarify how prices are linked more to nuclear power than clean energy programs.

To start with, electricity prices are going to go up no matter what source of energy we choose to use. Half of the provincial electricity system’s generating capacity — including almost every nuclear reactor — needs to be replaced or rebuilt within the next 10 years and you simply cannot build power plants in 2012 at 1980s prices.

While it’s the only province so far to be phasing out coal, price increases are by no means exclusive to Ontario. In coal-powered Alberta, energy prices are forecast to rise by 50 per cent between 2010 and 2016. Between 2002 and 2010, rates in Nova Scotia rose by 37 per cent. In Saskatchewan they rose by 36 per cent. And B.C. Hydro forecasts a rate increase of 32 per cent between 2011 and 2014.

What seems to be unique to Ontario is the fear that renewable energy is the sole cause of the increase. Although Ontario’s ambitious clean energy development targets are being met by establishing contracts with renewable energy generators in the form of feed-in tariffs (FIT), the province has similar long-term contracts with both nuclear- and gas-powered plants.

May 6, 2012

Lake's freezing and thawing shows warming trend


NEWCOMB, N.Y. — Wolf Lake in the Adirondack High Peaks region is considered a "heritage lake," one of the most pristine freshwater bodies in the northeastern United States.

It remains as it was when European settlers arrived in North America. As part of a private preserve bordering the state-owned 300-square-mile High Peaks Wilderness Area, it has escaped pollution and the ravages of invasive plants and animals. It's one of a dwindling number of lakes with heritage brook trout and calcium-rich soils buffering its water from fish-killing acid rain.

But there's no shelter from climate change, and Wolf Lake's pristine days may be numbered. A new study shows the length of time the lake is covered with ice each winter has declined by three weeks since 1975, indicating a change that may alter the lake's ecology and harm cold-water species such as trout.

"Lake ice is a better indicator of climate than weather stations, which require instruments and people to read them and are thus prone to errors," said ecologist Colin Beier, lead author of the study published online this week by the international journal Climatic Change. "Lake ice doesn't lie. The process of ice formation and lake closure and opening is a straightforward physical process, and people have kept records of it for decades."

May 6, 2012

Changes in climate will alter Maine, speaker says


FARMINGTON - Maine is going to look a lot different in 100 years if climate changes continue on the same trajectory.

Lake's freezing and thawing shows warming trend
Moose may all but disappear from the forests, replaced by migrations of white-tail deer.

The forests probably will be taken over by trees found today as far south as Maryland, rather than the red spruce that make Maine's woods unique.

Even black-capped chickadees, the state bird, may start to head farther north for cooler climes.

May 4, 2012

Utilities boost investments in offshore wind power


LONDON (MarketWatch) — Electricity to power European televisions and toasters will increasingly come from energy generated at sea as utility companies shore up offshore wind-energy capacity amid rising fossil-fuel prices and political pressure.

Over the past three years, yearly installed capacity from offshore wind turbines has more than doubled in Europe to 866 megawatts in 2011, exceeding growth rates for its onshore counterpart, according to the European Wind Energy Association, or EWEA.

New onshore installations rose only 10% in the same period. Further, in 2011, new installed capacity at sea accounted for 10% of the total new installations in the European Union, up from 5% in 2008.

“In the North Sea alone we have a potential to economically exploit the offshore resources to cover seven times Europe’s total energy consumption,” said Christian Kjaer, chief executive at European Wind Energy Association. “We wouldn’t have to import fuel if we can tap into that.”


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