Chinese government is proposing to the European Union to fix an annual quota and a minimum price for the imports of Chinese solar products into the EU market, if the antidumping duties the EU imposed on imports of wafers, solar cells and PV modules from China will be reduced or canceled. According to Bloomberg, citing local newspaper Shanghai Securities News, Wang Sicheng, an adviser of the Chinese government, revealed that China is proposing a quota of 10 GW of solar products to be imported into the EU market annually and a minimum price of €0.50 ($0.64) per W for the solar module imports. The negotiations to solve the solar trade dispute between the EU and China started on June 21, when the EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht met China’s Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng in Beijing, China. The European Commission decided to introduce antidumping duties on Chinese solar products on June 5. The duties were introduced according to a »phased approach« starting with an 11.8% tariff for all producers for the first 2 months. The tariff will be raised for the remaining 4 months starting from August, with specific tariffs assigned to each producer: DelSolar 67.9%, JA Solar 58.7%, LDK Solar 55.9%, Trina Solar 51.5%, Suntech 48.6%, Jinzhou Yanguang Energy 38.3% and Yingli Green Energy 37.3%. On June 6, China promptly responded by launching inquiries into imports of European luxury goods, including wine. One week later, the EU filed a trade complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Chinese antidumping duties on imports of high-performance stainless steel seamless tubes from the EU. In late June, Mofcom imposed antidumping duties on imports of the chemical product toluidin when originating from the EU and few days later it announced that the expected antidumping and antisubsidy investigation on wine imports from the EU was officially opened. © PHOTON

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Categories : Anti-Dumping

by Paul Gipe

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), one of California’s major electric utilities, shut down its 1,122 MW Unit #1 at its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant last week just as the state prepared for a serious heat wave.

The news sent power prices higher on the wholesale exchange and required the state to burn more fossil fuels in thermal generation to make up for the lost power.

There are two units at the site, the second unit remained in service.

The plant’s outage couldn’t have come at a worse time both for the state and for PG&E. California’s is besieged with a severe heat wave, pushing up demand for air conditioning. Meanwhile the utility is asking for a controversial extension of its operating license for both nuclear units.

The plant may well be off an entire week, returning to service after the heat wave breaks.

Whatever happens with the plants outage, PG&E loses. If a power emergency is called, it becomes clear that nuclear is not dependable during a crisis. If no emergency is called, then it is equally clear that the reactor is not needed.

For the moment, the state is meeting its electrical needs and there have been no calls for extraordinary conservation measures.

News of the plant’s outage came to the renewables industry when French analyst, Bernard Chabot, asked California colleagues why nuclear generation had fallen so dramatically prior to the run up in demand. Chabot noted that nuclear generation had fallen by half, and thermal generation soared as the heat wave began.

Chabot had previously analyzed the nuclear industry’s performance for Renewables International in Nuclear – how big is it?

Based on experience in France during the killer heat wave of 2003, Chabot has described nuclear as “intermittent and unpredictable” for its unscheduled outages when most needed. In contrast, he notes that renewable sources of energy are “variable and predictable”. That is, generation from wind and solar resources do vary, but they vary in a predictable manner. Chabot’s assessment turns on its head the oft-repeated charge that wind and solar energy are intermittent and, hence, unreliable.

During the 2003 heat wave in Europe, several French reactors had to be taken off line because the temperature of their cooling water reached regulatory limits. Similarly, during the brutal European cold spell in early 2012, several French reactors were again out of service when most needed. France, subsequently imported electricity from neighboring countries, including Germany, to make up the difference.

The outage at PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Unit #1 during the present heat wave on the heals of the decision to permanently close two reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station by Southern California Edison is certain to re-energize opponents of nuclear power in the Golden State.

Reuters: California power prices up on heat wave, reactor shutdown

Reuters: PG&E shuts California Diablo Canyon 1 reactor

“Reliable” Nuclear Unreliable Afterall Even in France

This feed-in tariff news update is sponsored by the , and the David Blittersdorf Family Foundation in cooperation with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The views expressed are those of Paul Gipe and are not necessarily those of the sponsors.

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Upfront: Power to the people

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

by Peter Seidman

The Marin Energy Authority this month approved a plan that takes the concept of local clean-electricity generation and marries it to public power.

That’s one of the enticing goals the founders of Marin Clean Energy (MCE) envisioned: the possibility that MCE could own clean and renewable power projects within its geographical jurisdiction. Marin Clean Energy customers would own the power-generating facilities, which could assure stable rates and true green energy. Unlike investor-owned utilities such as PG&E, no shareholders would be knocking at the door demanding a chunky dividend. Revenue generated above the cost of supply could be funneled toward local green projects. That could increase the supply of clean, renewable energy and also boost the local economy.

When the board of the Marin Energy Authority voted in the first week of May to set aside a portion of revenue MCE generates and put it in a “local renewable development fund,” the move made real the dream of the founders who created Marin Clean Energy. It’s not an end-all proposition. But it’s a start that’s getting out of the blocks in a way that could and should spur increased purchase of the MCE product known as Deep Green.

The Marin Energy Authority is the joint powers agency that administers Marin Clean Energy, which was created after the state Legislature approved a plan that allows cities and counties to join and purchase power from any provider they choose in an arrangement called community aggregation.

Marin Clean Energy offers two power plans. One, Light Green, delivers electricity that is 50-percent renewable. For a relatively small added charge, customers can receive electricity that is 100-percent renewable. Currently about 2 percent of MCE’s 92,000 customers are receiving the Deep Green product. That’s about the industry average, according to Jamie Tuckey, the MCE communications director.

That’s a drop from the 8 percent of MCE customers who had signed up for the Deep Green product. But the higher percentage came earlier in the sign-up process from customers who got on board the clean-energy train early, before a big second-phase rollout. In addition, Deep Green customers could start receiving the product before a general admission procedure. That stimulated the Deep Green program early because the motivated customers generally favored the 100-percent clean portfolio. The percentage dropped when Marin Clean Energy increased its enrollment and spread out in the county in a second phase of enrolling customers.

The opt-out procedure mandated by the state legislation led to strong criticism aimed mistakenly at Marin Clean Energy. Another criticism, which remains emblazoned in the minds of staunch critics, centers on the definition of clean energy.

MCE’s Light Green energy portfolio includes about 27 percent of renewable power generation. Using renewable energy certificates brings the total to over 50 percent. The MCE Deep Green product, including renewable energy certificates, (RECs) is all renewable. The ultimate goal aims to provide 100 percent renewable to all MCE customers.

Renewable Energy Certificates are part of a nationwide  strategy to stimulate the renewable market. When a wind farm, for example, produces 1 megawatt-hour of renewable energy, it gets one renewable energy credit (REC). That’s called a bundled REC. The wind farm can sell the energy along with the one REC. The REC proves that the energy was produced from a renewable source. The RECs can be sold along with the energy or decoupled and sold separately as an unbundled REC, which can be a tradable commodity. Once they are bought and put into an agency’s renewable portfolio, the RECs are retired and can no longer be bought or sold. Marin Clean Energy renewable credit transfers are administered through a clearinghouse for renewable energy transactions and tracking called the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information system. Green-e, a recognized independent nonprofit, certifies the renewable energy certificates.

Although some clean-energy proponents view RECs as a hindrance to the proliferation of clean energy faculties, the RECs serve as a transition, albeit one that has yet to be proved in the long run. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that RECs have played an important role in stimulating clean energy across the country.

When Marin Clean Energy was in its nascent stage, critics continually charged that the dream of providing local clean power was just that, a dream. But projects like the solar project at the airport in San Rafael show that local generation is indeed possible.

The local development fund takes the concept more than a step further. “We’ve had a lot of skepticism about local projects,” says Tuckey. “It’s taken a while, but [last week] we had a three-year anniversary of supplying power to customers, and we’re excited about [the local renewable development idea].”

Marin Clean Energy Deep Green customers pay about $5 more per month for their 100-percent green energy product. In 2012, the Deep Green program yielded revenues of $103,073. The Marin Energy Authority voted to take about half that amount for the renewable development fund. The revenue from Deep Green is expected to increase as MCE rolls out its programs in Richmond, and that could mean more annual money for the fund. Marin Clean Energy will start signing up about 30,000 new customers there in July. MCE has sent opt-out notices. And as in Marin, Richmond customers who choose to sign up for the Deep Green product can join MCE before the general admission date.

The Marin Energy Authority vote authorizes taking $52,000 of 2102 Deep Green revenue and using it to pay for what are called pre-development costs for local clean power facilities. Marin Clean Energy staff has identified a number of potential sites that could accommodate solar power generation. They range in size from 250 kilowatts to 1 megawatt.

The local generation projects that currently supply power to MCE are owned and operated by third party entities. The first local facility that Marin Clean Energy would most likely add to its energy production mix will be at the Port of Richmond. Solar panels installed on the roof of a building and a carport shade structure that would house solar panels are two possible sites. The Port of Richmond project would produce 1 megawatt of power and cost between $3 million and $5 million. It could eventually expand to produce 5 megawatts. Also on the possibility list are two sites Golden Gate Transit owns in Marin.

According to a staff report, revenue from 2012 Deep Green will go toward paying $5,000 to $15,000 for environmental review, $5,000 to $15,000 for permitting, $5,000 to $15,000 for design and engineering, $500 for an “interconnection application,” and an amount to be determined for “securing site control.”

The Energy Authority can deposit money in the development fund thanks to advantageous purchasing markets for the Deep Green product. “Revenues generated by Deep Green are above what’s needed to cover the cost,” says Damon Connolly, San Rafael city councilman and chairman of the Energy Authority board. “We see the fund as a way to take a beginning step on a program that we hope will grow over time.”

Money in the development fund will cover only pre-development costs. Money for actual construction will come from a variety of sources best applied to individual projects as they emerge from the program drawing board. In most cases the Energy Authority will not own the projects initially. A better arrangement for the Energy Authority involves entering into what’s called a power purchase agreement or a municipal lease structure. Power purchase companies and lease companies can take advantage of tax benefits for which the Energy Authority doesn’t qualify. After the tax benefits accrue, usually in six to seven years, the projects could be transferred to the Energy Authority. That cost would be lower than the Energy Authority could get using traditional debt financing. To build a solar facility, the Energy Authority also could use a bank loan or revenue bond.

It’s a rather Byzantine financial process that would result in simple end result: Marin Clean Energy customers would own clean-energy facilities and receive clean energy at stable rates in the control of MCE.

The Energy Authority’s Integrated Resource Plan calls for what staff categorizes as “an ambitious target” for deploying about 14 megawatts of new distributed solar capacity by 2019. So far all the local clean power projects contemplated are solar. The Energy Authority has a goal of adding a total of 21 megawatts of solar projects by 2021. That amount of solar generation would bring the total of locally produced power, including power generated from Energy Authority-owned projects, to 7.8 percent of the total load.

The percentages could go higher. The limit depends on the number of real estate parcels and rooftops and other installation sites that can accommodate solar project development in Marin and in Richmond.

It also depends on the enthusiasm of MCE customers. “The numbers are a conservative minimum from our Integrated Resource Plan, which gives us a very conservative view of what market conditions will be like,” says Dawn Weisz, the authority’s executive officer. “We certainly will endeavor to have a much higher percentage of local renewable, subject to market conditions and subject to customer participation in our Deep Green program. The more Deep Green customers we have, the more buildout we can have.”

The plan to establish a local renewable development fund should provide an answer to critics who have said Marin Clean Energy couldn’t produce local power. Although the starting percentages aren’t huge, if Marin residents, and Richmond residents, want to increase the amount of clean power they receive, here’s the opportunity, says Connolly. All they have to do is sign up for the MCE Deep Green program and half of the Deep Green revenue goes toward local renewable projects.

In Marin, where environmental protection and judicious use of resources is an abundant philosophy (or at least it used to be) MCE now offers a concrete way to participate in a nonambiguous local clean-energy plan. In addition to stimulating local clean energy, the renewable fund also stimulates a public power paradigm in which customers own the generation facilities. And Marin Clean Energy can reap the financial benefits of owning the facilities, benefits such as depreciating a power project capital asset. And MCE can take excess revenue and plow it back into the field.

The question will be whether Marin residents and Richmond residents think the environmental benefits and advantages of publically owned facilities are worth $5 a month, a little more than a gallon of gas.

As Marin Clean Energy rolls out its energy products in Richmond, the agency is embarking on a marketing campaign using its website and also through social media. According to a staff report, “Establishing a local renewable development fund tied to the ongoing Deep Green program revenues would create a mechanism for customers to directly support [Energy Authority-owned] local renewable projects and formalize the link between the Deep Green customer base and local [Energy Authority-owned] project development.” The staff report also recognizes that creating local projects could beget more projects: “Visibility and interest in local renewable projects is likely to stimulate additional Deep Green customer enrollments and thereby provide support for even more local projects in the future.”

In addition to using the Marin Clean Energy website and social media in a marketing push, “we also might do an advertising campaign,” says Tuckey. MCE also will follow the advice of its staff and “let customers know that when they sign up for Deep Green they’re supporting the plans for local projects.”

Connolly says there’s “a real potential” to cast the renewable development program as a milestone in the life of Marin Clean energy.

Now it’s up to MCE customers in Marin and Richmond.

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Categories : CCA

Clean Energy Learns to Compete

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

LONDON — Europe used to be nirvana for companies in the clean-energy business, but in the past couple of years it has become a much tougher place. With economies anemic, electricity demand is down; and, not surprisingly, once-generous subsidies that encouraged installing swaths of solar collectors in sun-poor Germany or wind farms in relatively calm areas of France are either being reduced or look as if they could be.

But for some people and companies, the harsher environment is fostering a tough-minded approach that may be healthy for the effort in the years ahead to curb the greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.

Europe’s struggles, for instance, pushed Enel Green Power, one of the world’s largest electricity generators from renewable sources like wind and solar, to explore markets like Brazil, Chile and Mexico, that may turn out to be a lot more promising than Europe.

The bulk of Enel Green Power’s investments used to be in Europe, especially in Italy, its home, and Portugal and Spain. Now the company is mostly putting its new capital into emerging markets.

It’s a no-brainer. In many emerging economies, demand for power is surging. These countries want to harness power sources like wind or solar — if only so that they can conserve their oil and gas for exports.

Contrary to the practice in much of Europe, where subsidies are used as a lure for renewables projects, developing countries like Brazil often award contracts to build new power capacity through competitions that sometimes pit clean energy against fossil fuels like natural gas and diesel. For instance, Enel Green Power recently won wind power deals in Brazil in bake-offs that included proposals for natural gas-fired stations.

“There was a competitive approach to renewables that we liked a lot,” said Francesco Starace, the company’s chief executive.

Mr. Starace especially likes long-term deals like the ones he has worked out in Mexico with Nissan and Nestlé to build wind farms to supply factories with power. He hopes to replicate this sort of arrangement across emerging markets, including east Africa. These private, one-on-one arrangements are more sustainable, he figures.

“You don’t run the risk of a regulator or a state coming back at you and saying, ‘Guys, the good days are over, now we have to talk about reducing this and that,”’ he said.

Tom Murley, who runs two funds with more than $1 billion in renewable energy investments at HgCapital, a private equity firm based in London, takes a similar approach but closer to his home base.

His great enthusiasm at the moment is building wind farms in Sweden anchored by a large €180 million, or $235 million, array north of Stockholm called Havsnäs that opened in 2010. Mr. Murley likes Sweden because it has very windy sites that mean his wind turbines spin faster and more often than those elsewhere, producing more electricity to help pay off their construction costs.

He also likes Sweden’s low-subsidy regime, which is less tempting for a regulator to cut.

“The closer you are to the wholesale price of power, the less you are at risk,” he said. He is also investing in onshore wind projects in Ireland, where the operating environment resembles that of Sweden.

Mr. Murley avoids offshore wind, which requires huge subsidies to make economic sense. He is also veering away from solar projects at the moment for similar reasons. Spain, where he made a large earlier commitment to solar, has cut its subsidies, sharply reducing returns and leading to lawsuits from operators, including HgCapital.

The goal of the renewables business, Mr. Murley said, should be to be competitive eventually on costs with other energy sources and not to rely on subsidies. He also believes in building businesses like his clusters of Swedish wind farms that have the scale to engage a team of managers and the clout to cut better deals with suppliers. His organization tries to buy turbines and other equipment that are reliable rather than cheap and does not skimp on spending money on maintenance.

Renewable energy, he said, “should be run like any other manufacturing business; it is best to be a low-cost producer.”

Both approaches seem to be working. Enel Green Power, which is 68 percent owned by Enel, the big Italian utility, has seen returns through stock appreciation and dividend of about 26 percent over the past year. The stock price had plummeted earlier, along with that of many other renewables companies.

As a private organization, Mr. Murley’s company has returns that are harder to divine, but he says he has sold projects, including a British wind farm business, representing about one-third of the investments by his first €300 million fund for about €225 million.

And both organizations are still investing. Enel Green Power in particular plans to spend €6.1 billion over the next four years. That is good news at a time when carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached the highest levels in millions of years.

Sounding the alarm about greenhouse gases and global warming is fine, but money is required to do something about the problem. And it is not likely to be forthcoming without competitive returns.

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Energizing communities

Friday, May 3rd, 2013


Moving to renewable resources to create energy has been a major focus recently for many in government and for individuals who are concerned about the environment. The Central Coast is no exception and on April 25 the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club was awarded with the 2013 Anthony Grassroots Prize for Organizational Stewardship from the Rose Foundation for its work in enabling communities to come together and collectively purchase clean energy.

The Santa Lucia Chapter won for its efforts in implementing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), which helps local communities replace fossil-fuel energy with energy from cleaner technologies, such as solar and wind power. The prize is part of the Rose Foundation’s Earth Day Environmental Stewardship Prizes, which take place each year to honor grassroots efforts by individuals and organizations working on environment-oriented projects.

Tim Little, executive director and co-founder of the Rose Foundation, said, “The Anthony Prize is something that we give out every year. I think this is our 14th year of doing it. It recognizes an outstanding environmental stewardship activity through something done at the grassroots level, either by an individual or an organization.”

The prize included $500 toward the continued efforts of the Santa Lucia Chapter.

“We just wanted to recognize the leadership that the Santa Lucia Chapter is providing in the Central Coast, really on a whole range of environmental issues, but especially around bringing Community Choice Aggregation to the coast,” Little added.

When asked to comment on winning the prize, Santa Lucia Chapter Director Andrew Christie said, “It’s very nice to be recognized by the Rose Foundation specifically for our work on community choice. We’ve spent a lot of years convincing the cities and the county to integrate this really great tool to incentivize clean, renewable, local energy.”

While the Santa Lucia Chapter is based in San Luis Obispo, Christie said many of its members come from Northern Santa Barbara County.
Regarding the nature of his chapter’s efforts, Christie added, “We’re trying to move away from fossil fuels and make the case for the environmental and economic benefits of primarily solar, but also wind renewable power. Community choice basically lets cities and counties group together, pool their resources, and go out and purchase their own power from alternatives to their utilities.”

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Categories : CCA

By Woody Hastings

Santa Rosa, CA – The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, acting also as the Water Agency and the Sonoma Clean Power Authority, voted today to “authorize and direct staff to take all steps necessary to implement the Sonoma Clean Power program.” Climate Protection Campaign applauds the Board for moving forward decisively.

“It’s all systems go,” said Climate Protection Campaign Executive Director Ann Hancock. The Santa Rosa-based organization has worked to advance Sonoma Clean Power since 2005. Five years ago, their analysis identified Community Choice as the most powerful tool under local control for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Other actions authorized by the board include:

·      Signing a letter of intent with First Community Bank and negotiating a final loan agreement for startup funds.

·      Negotiating contracts with energy service providers.

·      Meeting with city councils to encourage them to participate.

·      Refining the Implementation Plan.

·      Hiring a marketing firm.

The board voted 4-1 to launch the program for the unincorporated portions of the county. All other action items were approved unanimously.

At the board meeting, Supervisor Susan Gorin said: “Sonoma County can lead the way. Let’s be bold. Let’s move forward and show other communities it can be done,” adding “we shop local, we play local, let’s power local!”

Last week, the provisional Sonoma Clean Power Authority staff announced that projected rates for cleaner power from Sonoma Clean Power will be competitive with PG&E’s. This news comes from the agency’s preliminary analysis of power supply bids submitted by eleven private energy service companies.

The Board cited increased renewable energy use, local economic benefits, providing choice and competition, and local control as primary reasons for creating Sonoma Clean Power. In particular, the staff report to the board found that Sonoma County residents and businesses spend $180 million each year on electricity generation, and steering some of that money toward local projects would give the region an economic boost. The report states: “By keeping the generation revenues ‘at home’ and focusing on local programs, Sonoma Clean Power will create local jobs and improve the local economy.”

“We can make great things happen with local renewable energy resources, but only if we control the means for doing so,” said Hancock. “Once Sonoma Clean Power exists, it’s game on for companies to tap local clean power opportunities.”

According to analysis of the bids received for power supply, a typical business paying $2542 per month under PG&E will pay an estimated $2462 to $2555 with Sonoma Clean Power. A typical resident paying $96.56 with PG&E will pay an estimated $94.83 to $97.58 with Sonoma Clean Power. These estimates fall well within the acceptable threshold for most consumers, according to market surveys conducted last year.

Sonoma Clean Power is an emerging not-for-profit local electricity service provider. It will, for the first time in years, offer businesses and residents of Sonoma County a choice for electricity service.

If the program is launched in early 2014, as is currently projected, electricity bill-payers in participating cities and the unincorporated portion of Sonoma County will be enrolled into the program. They can choose to stay with Sonoma Clean Power by doing nothing or choose PG&E by opting out of Sonoma Clean Power.

The next step in the process is for cities to decide whether they will give their residents a choice of power suppliers. City councils will be meeting over the next two months to consider joining Sonoma Clean Power.

 “We would like everyone in Sonoma County to have the ability to choose,” said Woody Hastings, Renewable Energy Implementation Manager for the Climate Protection Campaign. “Everyone will if their city councils vote to give them the choice.”

At the board meeting, Supervisor Shirlee Zane said, “I am a resident of Santa Rosa and I want the choice.”

Efren Carrillo, a long-time champion of the effort and member of the Board’s ad hoc committee evaluating the plan stated that “local control means emergence of local business opportunity.”

The question now goes to the eight eligible cities in the county about whether they will offer their constituents an electricity provider choice. The schedule is as follows:

May 6 – City of Sonoma

May 7 – Sebastopol

May 8 – Cloverdale

May 14 – Rohnert Park 

May 20 – Petaluma

May 21 – Santa Rosa (study session)

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Categories : CCA

Faulty LA Nuclear Plant

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
Herman K. Trabish:

Corners were cut at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) according to a report by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) on the retrofitting it did for Southern California Edison (SCE), the plant’s owner and operator.

The cut corners could transform SCE’s intended cost savings into an enormous financial burden. Yet SCE may not, according to its most recent 10-K financial filing, have learned its lesson.

The Root Cause Analysis Report for tube wear identified in the Unit 2 and Unit 3 Steam Generators of San Onofre Generating Station from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) indicates, according to a letter from Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Congressman Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), “that SCE and MHI were aware of serious problems with the design of San Onofre nuclear power plant’s replacement steam generators before they were installed, rejected enhanced safety modifications and avoided triggering a more rigorous license amendment and safety review process.”

“The MHI report appears to squarely place the cause of and responsibility for the outages at San Onofre at Edison’s feet,” according to S. David Freeman, former head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

MHI replaced the two steam generators of the 1,172-megawatt SONGS Unit Two in January 2010 and the two steam generators of the 1,178-megawatt Unit Three in January 2011. Unit Two began a scheduled outage for refueling on January 10, 2012, and was out of service when control room operators shut Unit Three down on January 31, 2012. Both units have been offline ever since.

The SONGS Unit One went on-line in January 1968, was built to last until 2004, but was decommissioned in 1992 due to wear. Unit Two went on-line in August 1983, and Unit Three in April 1984.

In the steam generators, the heat from the light water reactors turns water into the steam that drives electricity-generating turbines. Such turbines can also generate electricity with steam created by water boiled with coal, natural gas, geothermal stations or concentrating solar power stations.

To prevent faulty tubes from leaking radioactive steam, plant operators do regular inspections. If a tube is found to be severely worn, it is plugged.

Vermont nuclear watchdog group Fairewinds Associates concluded that the San Onofre reactors “plugged 3.7 times as many steam generator tubes than the combined total of the entire number of plugged replacement steam generator tubes at all the other nuclear power plants in the U.S.

The release of the MHI report came shortly after the February 26 release by Edison International (NYSE:EI) of its most recent 10-K.

SCE has mitigated the potential financial burden of the outage by passing its increased costs on to ratepayers because, it asserted in the 10-K, “the actions taken and costs incurred in connection with the San Onofre replacement steam generators and outages have been prudent.”

“MHI is contractually obligated to repair or replace defective items and to pay specified damages,” the 10-K said. But MHI has to date paid only $45 million, rejected other SCE claims, and, according to the 10-K, arbitration or litigation for further restitution may be necessary.

SONGS is insured against property damage and outage losses by Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL). SCE filed claims in October 2012 but has received no response from NEIL. “To the extent any costs are recovered under the outage policy,” the 10-K said, “SCE expects to refund those amounts to ratepayers.”

If the MHI report validates ratepayer advocates’ claims that SCE is the responsible party, the company could face crippling rate refunds. A return to operation would limit those refunds.

“Three independent firms with expertise in steam generator design and manufacturing,” EI’s 10-K reported, “agreed that it would be safe to restart Unit 2 and operate at a reduced power level (70 percent) for approximately five months, followed by a mid-cycle scheduled outage and inspection.”

The ability to restart Unit 3, the 10-K said, is not yet clear and may “be affected by the operating experience of Unit 2.”

Neither will be restarted until, Edison promised, “any necessary repairs and appropriate mitigation plans for that Unit are completed.”

But SCE’s plan for an imminent restart at 70 percent power may be another shortcut aimed at avoiding financial burden at the expense of safety, this time without MHI’s complicity. SCE “has been advised by MHI,” it acknowledged in the 10-K, “that a possible course of action would be replacement of significant portions of the steam generators, a process that could take more than five years.”

Tags: 10-k, boxer, edison international, markey, mitsubishi heavy industries, nuclear, nuclear electric insurance limited, radioactive steam, ratepayer advocates, restart, san onofre nuclear generating station, songs, southern california edison, steam generators, tubes

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Categories : Energy Storage, Policy

World passes 100 GW installed PV capacity mark

Monday, February 11th, 2013

World passes 100 GW installed PV capacity mark

11. February 2013 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends, Top News, 300 GW | By:  Max Hall

Behind the headline news from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) that the world has passed the 100 GW mark in cumulative installed photovoltaic capacity, is the ongoing story of a shift away from Europe.

A German solar photovoltaic installation.

Germany was still the world leader in photovoltaic installations in 2012.

solarhybrid AG

With between 30 and 32 GW added globally in 2012 – roughly the same figure as was added in the 2011 boom year – Europe saw just 13 GW of newly installed photovoltaic added, down from 23 GW.

The fact annual installed capacity failed to grow to any significant extent is indicative of the troubles associated with a global oversupply of polysilicon and the trade disputes between China and the U.S., and Europe, but amid the gloom, Germany was still a world leader with 7.6 GW of solar capacity added and Italy was still the world’s third largest market, with 3.3 GW.

China installed between 3.5 and 4.5 GW – EPIA expects to announce final figures in its annual report in May – to come in second behind Germany, with the U.S. fourth with 3.2 GW, Japan fifth with 2.5 GW and France sixth with 1.2 GW.

“The photovoltaic industry clearly faces challenges but the results of 2012 show there is a strong global market for our technology. Even in tough economic times and despite growing regulatory uncertainty, we have nearly managed to repeat the record year of 2011,” said EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann.

He added, “The key going forward will be to address these new market challenges and continue policies that help PV technology to grow sustainably, continuing its evolution to a mainstream electricity source.”

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Salazar resigns! What’s next for energy?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013
January 23, 2013 | By
By now, news of the impending departure of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has caused a ripple throughout the industry.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

Old news, right? Perhaps, but questions remain. Foremost, what will become of all the energy issues for which he has championed — renewable energy, oil and gas drilling, America’s energy independence?

Energy wins

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Salazar’s list of energy wins is long. He launched what has been called a “renewable energy revolution”. He prioritized offshore renewable energy development, issuing the first-ever offshore wind leases in federal waters. He advocated for a new model of conservation, which furthered the nation’s goal of energy independence. He authorized 34 solar, wind and geothermal projects on public lands for a total 10,400 MW — enough to power more than 3 million homes and oversaw solar energy development in the West. His aggressive push for the most rigorous oil and gas safety and reforms in U.S. history ultimately led to more drilling in the Gulf, paving the way to energy independence. President Obama gives Salazar much of the credit for his role in successful efforts to expand responsible development of domestic energy resources.

Even before becoming Secretary,  as a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Salazar helped lead the passage of the 2005 and 2007 Energy Policy Acts — one of the most significant and comprehensive energy bills in decades.  The 2007 Farm Bill which Salazar also helped lead included key energy provisions.

Enough said.

Salazar’s list of energy wins is long. He launched what has been called a “renewable energy revolution”.

Salazar’s successor

Obviously, no one knows for sure what will happen, but there are theories.

“In the short-term, the impact will be minimal, but only due to the uncertainty around who the administration will pick to fill his role,” said Jason Rodriguez, CEO and director of research at Zpryme.  “However, we expect his successor to be another champion of renewable energy and the advancement of the nation’s electric grid.”

Despite his positivity, Rodriguez does admit that Salazar’s successor may have an uphill battle when it comes to advancing renewable energy projects.

“His successor will not have the same momentum or mandate to push along renewable energy projects,” said Rodriguez. “Salazar had the stimulus funds on his side. So the next Secretary of Interior will have to tread carefully and strategically with the projects and proposals they wish to get behind.”

“I have had the privilege of reforming the Department of the Interior to help lead the United States in securing a new energy frontier…,” Salazar said in a statement. “I look forward to helping my successor in a seamless transition in the months ahead,” he added.

Who Salazar’s successor will be has been the subject of much speculation. The contenders range from outgoing Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and former New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer to Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, Bill Ritter, former Governor of Colorado, and Director of the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management John Berry.

“All of the potential candidates will be a great champion of renewable energy and the smart grid, but Governor Gregoire or former Governor Ritter are probably the strongest candidates when it comes to being able to execute multiple large-scale projects at a very high level,” said Rodriguez. “Their experience in running a state government will serve them well as Secretary of the Interior.”

Another milestone

Despite Salazar’s rapidly approaching retirement, the hard work hasn’t stopped.

Under Salazar’s direction, the Interior recently designated 192,100 acres of public land across Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development.

“This project is a key milestone in our work to spur smart development of solar and wind energy on public lands across the West,” Secretary Salazar said in a statement. “Arizona has huge potential when it comes to building a clean energy economy… we continue to work closely with states, local communities, tribes, industry, conservation and other groups to reduce potential resource conflicts and expedite appropriate projects that will generate jobs and investment in rural communities.”

Salazar resigns amidst rumors that Energy Secretary Stephen Chu also plans to leave, and follows the departure of the Environmental Protection Agency’s top administrator Lisa Jackson.

Read more: Salazar resigns! What’s next for energy? – FierceEnergy

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Categories : Legislative

Tell President Obama that solar is ready!

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

By Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO

Yesterday, in his inaugural address, President Obama vowed to fight climate change and called for strengthening the clean energy economy.

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.

–President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013

Today, the solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans at 5,600 companies, mostly small businesses, across all 50 states – this is more than double the number working in solar in 2009.  By nearly all measures, the solar energy industry has been one of the fastest growing industries over the last 5 years and we expect a record 2012 for installed solar capacity, despite a slow economic recovery.

We need all the people who support the industry to join us. Please take a moment and forward this email to 5 of your friends. They can join here.

The President can help lead the way to making a stronger solar industry. The new 113th U.S. Congress must also work together to make this become a reality. We need to maintain the ITC so that solar can compete on a level playing field with other energy sources. We need to streamline the permitting process and cut red tape for small businesses and homeowners. We need to defend net metering policies across the nation.

We need to tell policymakers that the solar industry is ready to lead. Heck, we’ve been ready.

We have a commitment to the generation that will build our future. Let’s make sure it’s one with a stable climate and clean, reliable energy sources.

Join us as we work to make sure this administration knows that the next four years is crucial to success of the solar industry. We need the President’s leadership to make that happen. We need Congress to work together to pass sensible policy. Most of all, we need your help us take a stand.

Tell your friends to join our advocacy list and get involved.



Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO

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Categories : Policy