Our weekly compilation of renewable energy news and information from around the Web.
Renewable Energy in Scotland
A report from the Scottish National Heritage organization claims that Scotland is on target to exceeds its renewable energy goals and could achieve 300% of its goals by 2020 if pending programs are approved. The report claims that 2,834 MW of renewable power is operational and another 3,739 MW of power has been approved with another 19,500 MW in the planning stages. The combined output is more than three times the 8 GW need to meet Scotland’s 2020 target of 50% of electricity from renewables.
Utilities Building Long Distance Transmission Lines
The California PUC gave its final approval for Southern California Edison to construct the last 173 miles of its 250-mile Tehachapi transmission project in Kern County. The line is expected to transmit as much as 4,500 megawatts of electricity produced from wind, enough power for nearly 3 million homes.
The capital cost of high-capacity long distance transmission is often seen as a barrier to the development of renewable energy production because the cost can be so high and the time to delivery can take years.
In a related development, LS Power announced that it would build the LaSalle Transmission Project (“LaSalle”), a new 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission project connecting Illinois and Indiana. The project is intended to facilitate renewable energy development within the region.
LaSalle is expected to be an approximately 160-mile transmission line to connect three existing 345-kV substations operated by the PJM Regional Transmission Operator. These three substations are the Pontiac-Midpoint substation near Pontiac, Illinois; the Reynolds substation near Reynolds, Indiana; and the Dumont substation near North Liberty, Indiana. New substations may also be constructed along the transmission line to serve as points where additional wind could interconnect to the transmission system.
“LaSalle will be routed through some of the most promising areas in Illinois and Indiana for wind development – areas that currently have limited access to the high-voltage transmission system,” stated Sharon K. Segner, Director – Project Development with LS Power. “LaSalle will provide both a means for wind generation to connect to the transmission system and an outlet for the wind generation to be delivered to load.”
The project is being developed by Central Transmission, LLC, a new transmission company and member of the LS Power Group. The LS Power Group has active transmission development across the country representing over 1,000 miles of transmission planned to help deliver renewable resources to load. This includes Great Basin Transmission, a new transmission company in Idaho and Nevada developing a “shovel ready” 500+ mile 500-kV transmission line; and Cross Texas Transmission, a new transmission company in Texas developing over 200 miles of double circuit 345 kV as part of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone Transmission Plan.
Renewable Energy Committee Studies State Incentives
The Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association’s Public Utility Section is conducting a study of state-level incentives for renewable energy. The Committee’s Fall 2009 Report outlined the key federal incentives and for its Spring 2010 Report the Committee will dig deeper into the incentives available at the state level. Created by the Public Utility Section in 2009, the Renewable Energy Committee has nearly 100 members and brings together legal practicioners to study developments in the sector.
New Landfill Methane Plant in North Carolina
Methane Power announced the opening of a new landfill gas-to-energy plant in Durham, NC, the state’s fourth largest city. Electricity generated by the Durham landfill energy plant is being sold to Duke Energy Carolinas under a power purchase agreement.
Methane Power Inc., the project developer, said the energy plant is powered by three of GE’s containerized JGC 320 Jenbacher landfill gas engines. GE’s Jenbacher landfill gas engines are generating 3.17 megawatts of renewable electricity for the regional grid by using the landfill’s methane gas, which is created by the decomposition of municipal solid waste. The facility is generating enough energy to support about 1,800 North Carolina homes.
North Carolina is one of 27 states with a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires utilities to produce a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources, including biogas. North Carolina’s RPS requires that by 2021, utilities must meet 12.5 percent of customers’ energy needs through energy efficiency savings or renewable energy production.
Copenhagen’s Effect on Renewable Energy
Will the recently-announced climate change deal at Copenhagen have an effect on the market for renewable power? The popular investing blog, SeekingAlpha, things so. SeekingAlpha writes:
“The result from Copenhagen boosted the renewable energy outlook; India’s Suzlon sees wind turbines shortfall in 2010 and in the coming years. The $53B wind turbine market means the current global capacity cannot meet the demand.”
“The wind energy market is heating up in China as well. Ealier this year General Electric set a joint venture with A-Power Energy Generation with an annual 2GW capacity in 2010. According to the CEO, GE sees China as leading the green energy trend already, and this will continue if the U.S. does not come up with a green energy policy. A-Power Energy Generation announced Wednesday that the company has signed a definitive agreement with US-REG and Cielo wind for a Texas 600MW wind farm project. ”
“Before this announcement, some investors were still skeptical. What makes this project golden is that A-Power has agreed to deliver wind turbines beginning in March 2010. In other words, revenue on wind turbines will starts to flow in Q1 of 2010. Of course, the company has already realized revenue from Chinese wind farms in Q4 2009, however this marks the first revenue in-flow from a Mega wind farm project that A-Power has signed. The company has many huge alternative energy projects from various countries and is ramping up its turbine projects quickly through a Joint venture with General Electric.”
On the other hand, most environmental activists have viewed Copenhagen as a bust, so any boost for renewables is likely less than would have been the result if world leaders had adopted a wider-reaching or more robust agreement.
In that same vein, on the first tradng day after the Copenhagen announcement, the price of carbon trading permits in Europe fell, reflecting the decreased likelihood of restrictions on carbon emissions. Bloomberg reported that the “nations attending the two-week Copenhagen summit that ended at the weekend agreed to voluntary, rather than binding, targets to reduce emissions. The accord isn’t enough to boost demand for permits, said Trevor Sikorski, an emissions analyst at Barclays Capital in London.”