Masdar Completes First Samoan Wind Farm

Somoa has its operational first wind farm. The ‘cyclone proof’ project is located on the Samoan island of Upolu. Home to nearly 75 percent of the population the wind farm will supply 1,500 MWh of power per year, delivering U.S. $475,000 in annual fuel cost savings. Ariel view of Samoa's first wind farmThe pioneering project in Samoa includes two 55 meters high turbines that can pivot at the base, and be lowered and locked in place in less than 1 hour. This collapsible design helps to avoid damage from the region’s numerous cyclones.

The Samoan Prime Minister, the Honorable Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi marked the event with an inauguration ceremony just days before the start of the United Nations’ Third Conference on Small Island Developing States, in Samoa’s capital.

“This UAE supported project, and others like it underway across the Pacific, unlock significant economic and social benefits across the region. By providing local sources of renewable energy and reducing reliance on imported fuels, the UAE is helping countries like Samoa realize its development ambitions, while also delivering valuable clean energy infrastructure,” said His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar. “Renewable energy has the potential to be a major contributor to the energy mix in developing countries, acting as a catalyst for greater socioeconomic opportunity. Today’s inauguration reinforces the UAE’s commitment to advancing and deploying renewable energy globally.”

The project was developed by Abu Dhabi-based Masdar and is the second completed under the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) $50 million Pacific Partnership Fund that is managed by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD). The UAE Pacific Partnership Fund supports the deployment of renewable energy across Pacific island One of the cyclone proof turbines in Soma's first wind farmstates and represents one of the largest-ever investments in clean energy across the region. The grant is managed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, and coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate of Energy and Climate Change. Masdar partners with each nation’s government and leads the design and implementation process.

The Prime Minister of Samoa, the Hon Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, added, “The new wind farm delivered by Masdar and funded by the ADFD is a significant step forward in Samoa’s transition to a more sustainable energy future. This has been possible thanks to the support of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates, and their commitment to advancing sustainable development. Access to renewable energy is vital to our long-term economic development, even beyond the substantial gains realized by cutting our dependence on imported fuel.”

First announced during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January 2014, the Samoan wind farm is the second project to be completed under the fund. Masdar is also currently progressing solar PV projects in Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. A 512 kWe solar PV installation in Tonga, achieving nearly 70 percent grid penetration, was the first project to be completed.

Arrayan Wind Farmed Commissioned in Santiago

The 115 MW El Arrayan Wind farm located 400 km north of Santiago on the coast of Chile has officially been commissioned. El Arrayan Wind connects to the Sistema Interconectado Central’s 220kVm transmission system and is located on approximately 15,320 acres of coastal land on a long-term lease with a single landowner. The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, together with Jean-Paul Luksic, Chairman of Antofagasta Minerals SA (AMSA) and Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy Group Inc. officially opened operations in a ceremony.

The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, said during the ceremony, “I’m very happy to be here today because this project is important for our present and future energy needs. El Arrayan is the biggest wind farm in Chile and we are pleased at what we can achieve when we use the natural resources the earth has to offer. This project is another step toward meeting our energy agenda objectives. We want to have 45% of our energy come from clean energy resources by 2025.”

El Arrayan Wind Farm -ChileAccording to the World Bank, The El Arrayan Wind facility, which completed construction in June, will generate clean, renewable power equal to the needs of approximately 200,000 Chilean homes each year. The facility is utilizing 50 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines, which Pattern Energy is also using at other wind projects in Canada and the United States.

“Through this partnership, we have combined our financial and management skills to be part of the solution to one of the major challenges facing our country and the mining industry, which is the generation of clean energy sources,” added Jean-Paul Luksic, Chairman of Antofagasta Minerals SA.

Pattern Energy operates and owns 70 percent of the El Arrayan Wind facility. AMSA owns the remaining 30 percent minority stake. The project sells approximately 70 percent of its output to Minera Los Pelambres through a long-term fixed-for-floating hedge. The facility sells its remaining output into the Chilean spot market at the prevailing market price at the time of sale. In addition to its minority interest in the facility, AMSA is the controlling party of Minera Los Pelambres.

Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy added, “We are honored to be joined at the project site by Madam President as we celebrate the opening of the country’s largest wind facility. Chile is a great market because of the President’s strong support for renewable energy policies, the country’s strong, stable economy and excellent natural wind resources, which can supply domestic energy to the country. We are also especially pleased to be here with our strong partner AMSA, which is demonstrating to the world that a global mining company can be a leader in clean, domestic energy.”

Non-Binding Renewable Target Questioned by IEA

iea-logoEurope has released it non-binding target for renewable energy at 27 percent by 2030 and in response the International Energy Agency (IEA) has raised the alarm and is asking for a clear and stable framework. According to the IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report, the absence of a binding target raises questions about how effective the overall target can be. Questions arise because member states would be able to voluntarily define their commitment to renewable energy. The report adds that the framework overseeing these commitments lacks detail.

Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said of IEA call for stable, binding targets, “The IEA report hits the nail on the head when it comes to ambitious national targets for 2030. Not only is a 27% target too low but it doesn’t oblige member states to follow through. Europe’s Heads of State need to agree in October on a binding 30% renewables target if real progress is going to be made to improve Europe’s energy security, competitiveness and climate objectives.”

The report also recognized that binding national targets and National Renewable Energy Action Plans for 2020 have been key drivers in cost reduction and the mass deployment of renewables, particularly onshore wind. However, it highlights that challenges remain for EU member states to meet their commitments.

The IEA expects installed wind capacity to reach 162.9GW by 2018 based on data for European members of the Organisation for Cooperation and Development. The new figure shows a marginal increase of 2.4GW in the forecast from last year’s report.

“It’s imperative that national governments resist making abrupt changes to support mechanisms that can blindside investors and deter financing of wind power projects,” stressed Wilkes. “Political and regulatory risk is reflected in the cost of capital and a stable framework can go a long way to eliminating these risk premiums.”

Wastes-for-Biodiesel Firm Gets Sustainability Certification

RSB-Logo1A company that turns waste materials into feedstocks for several products, including biodiesel, has earned an important sustainability certification. Switzerland-based MBP Trading SA earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) sustainability certification for their waste material collection, trading and distribution activities.

“MBP Group was built on a sustainable background, adding as much value as possible to industrial by-products. Sustainability was – and still remains – a key ingredient of our business activities and its success. We are pleased to see that our company was certified according to the RSB scheme; this constitutes an important recognition of our continuous efforts for the sustainable management and trade of industrial waste and by-products,” David Magnussen, MBP Group CEO.

“We are very pleased that MBP Group has chosen RSB certification for their sites in the UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. MBP’s commitment to feedstock traceability throughout their operations, which supply a wide range of waste material to the biofuels and bioenergy sectors, fits very well with the robust RSB approach to waste verification,” said Rolf Hogan, RSB’s Executive Secretary.

RSB certification is considered a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance, covering social, environmental, economic and operational aspects in its analysis.

Besides the Swiss headquarters, MBP Group has production/process plants and tank terminals in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the UK and Canada.

Renovagen Uses Crowdcube to Raise Funds

UK company Renovagen has used the crowd funding website Crowdcube to raise £263,000 with the support of 160 investors. The fundraising campaign was 76 per cent oversubscribed and coincides with the successful completion of a 6kW prototype version of Renovagen’s patented “Roll-Array” transportable solar power system that enables large rollable solar arrays to be conveniently and quickly deployed from small containers.

Renovagen logoRenovagen has created a transportable solar power system that they say has 10 times the power capacity of competing photovoltaic systems and can be deployed in just a few minutes. The company said this technology is of strong interest to military, disaster relief and Mining customers where the cost of energy from diesel generators in remote locations is often excessive due to the extremely high costs of transporting diesel fuel while alternative solar systems are slow and expensive to move or under-powered. Renovagen’s technology has the potential to pack 100kW arrays into 20ft ISO containers, with multiple containerised systems deployable in parallel to create multi-megawatt power plants.

“This is an extremely exciting time for Renovagen, having achieved a huge amount of progress in developing the technology this year, we finally have a 6kW system live-running and meeting all our performance expectations,” said John Hingley, Founder and CEO. “This product has huge potential for reducing carbon emissions and local pollution caused by diesel generators in remote and sensitive environments – whilst saving our customers money and even saving lives in some Disaster Relief and Military situations. We’re extremely pleased to have secured the funding to move to the next stage in our development, including pilot deployments and market launch, and would like to thank the 160 investors who supported us through Crowdcube”.

Early test results of the prototype have demonstrated power output and mechanical performance that meets design targets, according to Renovagen. The company now plans further field testing of the prototype and continued development in order to launch the product during 2015. The company intends to implement a number of pilot projects in late 2014/early 2015 in order to further proof the technology and its efficacy.

Canada Handing Out New Grants for Biomass Research

manitobaResearchers looking to turn biomass into energy will get some help from one of the Canadian provinces. Manitoba has doubled the Biomass Energy Support Program funding to $1 million, with the additional $500,000 of new funding targeted to applied research projects that will support the growth of the biomass industry.

“Manitoba’s green economy creates new opportunities for biofuel manufacturers and additional markets for producers,” said [Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron] Kostyshyn. “Research and development is needed to build capacity across the province and address any gaps in our biomass sector. Through this strategic investment, we can support even more Manitoba farms and businesses as they invest in a more sustainable future.”

The new funding will be directed to applied research projects that address gaps or identify opportunities for business and technology development in the biomass sector. The minister noted that priority will be given to projects with short turnaround times that support Manitoba’s coal-reduction strategy and that project results will be shared with producers, processors and other stakeholders.

Eligible biomass fuels include:

– Agricultural residue such as wheat and flax straw, sunflower hulls or compacted biomass-like wheat and oat pellets;
– Forestry residues such as wood chips or salvaged timber; and
– Biomass crops such as switchgrass, willow and poplar.

Researchers wanting some of the available funds need to apply by Sept. 1. More information is available at www.manitoba.ca/agriculture/innovation-and-research/biomass-energy-support-program.html.

USGC Lists Top 10 Markets for US Ethanol

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has compiled its top 10 list of potential U.S. ethanol markets for the upcoming 2014/2015 market year, starting September 1.

usgc-ethanol-mkts1

While Brazil and Canada remain the top two, the Council is assessing Japan and Korea, Latin America and Southeast Asia as potential markets for U.S. ethanol exports. In the number three spot, USGC believes Japan has the potential to import 459 million gallons of U.S. ethanol in the year ahead, which would account for 11 percent of global demand for U.S. ethanol. Seventh placed Mexico has the potential to import 236 million gallons of U.S. ethanol and the Philippines at number nine could import 90 million gallons. Those three markets combined could to represent almost 20 percent of global demand for U.S. ethanol.

Rounding out the top ten, USGC puts the United Kingdom in fourth place with nearly 305 million gallons, India and Nigeria ahead of Mexico in 5th and 6th place with 250 and 240 million gallons respectively. Australia is ranked in 8th place with 220 million gallons and the Netherlands completes the top 10 with just over 86 million.

Colombia has Potential as Distillers Grains Market

COLOMBIAExports of U.S.corn to Colombia have soared this year, thanks to bigger crops, lower prices, and a favorable free trade agreement. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) also sees great potential for increasing exports of the ethanol co-product and livestock feed distillers grains (DDGS).

“We currently see about 90,000 metric tons of distillers grains moving into Colombia,” says USGC Director of Global Strategies Kurt Shultz. “We believe the market has the potential to easily exceed 700,000 tons, so there’s a lot of upward opportunity in Colombia for increased exports of distillers grains.”

Under the free trade agreement, there are no duties on distillers grains, so the Grains Council is actively working to bring technical knowledge on how to use the product to the region. “We had some feeding trials last year with the dairy industry which should good acceptance in the dairy sector,” said Shultz. Now they are looking at doing trials in swine and poultry as well.

This will likely be a topic of discussion at the 2014 Export Exchange coming up October 20-22 in Seattle. The event, co-sponsored by USGC and the Renewable Fuels Association, brings together buyers and sellers of distillers grains in an effort to expand established export markets and develop new markets. Discounted early registration for the event is available now through September 22.

Neste’s Renewable Diesel Keeps Summer Festivals Green

Nestefestival1While summer rains this year might be keeping lawns green, a renewable diesel maker in Finland says its fuel is keeping summer festivals ecologically green. This news release from Neste Oil says its NEXBTL renewable diesel helped generate electricity at the Flow Festival in Helsinki and the Neste Oil Rally Helsinki Battle street circuit race.

NEXBTL diesel generated 45% of the electricity used at the Flow Festival and powered the machinery at the festival site. Using the fuel resulted in a 22 ton reduction in emissions, equivalent in emission terms to nearly three round-the-world flights.

“Using Neste Oil’s renewable diesel to generate electricity offered us an excellent way to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Flow’s Production Manager, Emilia Mikkola.

“NEXBTL diesel has proved itself an excellent fuel for generating electricity, as it has in other areas,” according to Kaisa Hietala, Neste Oil’s Executive Vice President, Renewable Products. “When used to power on-site generator sets, the premium quality of the fuel and its purity cut exhaust emissions and eliminate the odor associated with conventional diesel.”

This isn’t the first time Neste’s renewable diesel kept the party going during a summer event. Last year, NEXBTL diesel was used to generate electricity at the Down By The Laituri Festival in Turku and the Tall Ships Races Helsinki event.

Dutch Researchers Develop Catalyst to Get Oil from Biomass

utwenteoilResearchers in The Netherlands have developed a catalyst that helps get more energy from biomass to more closely match more conventional sources of oil-based energy. This article from the University of Twente says the new, simple catalyst improves the quality of this oil before it is even transported to the refinery and was selected as part of the follow-up technology from CATCHBIO, the national research program looking to make sure Europe acheives 20 percent of its fuel from renewable sources by 2020.

The oil in current-generation biofuel does not come from fruit or seed, such as palm or rape seed oil but, for example, from plant residues, pruning waste and wood chips. As a result, there is no longer any undesirable competition with the food supply. Converting plant residues, which take up a lot of space, into oil simplifies transport considerably and the product can go directly to a refinery. Blending with crude oil is already possible. However, the quality of this oil does not yet equal that of crude oil. It has a lower energy content per litre, is acid and still contains too much water. The catalyst developed by Prof. Leon Lefferts and Prof. Kulathuiyer Seshan’s group Catalytic Processes and Materials (MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology/Green Energy Initiative) significantly improves the quality and energy content of the oil.

This is realized by heating the oil in nitrogen to 500 degrees Celsius and by applying a simple catalyst: sodium carbonate on a layer of alumina. By using this method, the energy content of the oil can be boosted from 20 to 33-37 megajoule per kilogram, which is better than crude oil and approximates the quality of diesel. The technology, recently defended by PhD candidate Masoud Zabeti, is already being tested by KIOR in Texas, USA, on a small industrial scale, with a production of 4,500 barrels of oil per day. The quality of the oil can be improved even more by adding the material caesium, as well as sodium carbonate. “By doing so, we can, for instance, also reduce the aromatics, which are harmful when inhaled”, says Prof. Seshan.

The technology is being studied in cooperation with several other European universities and research institutes.

Albion Community Power Funds Biogas Project

Albion Community Power logoAlbion Community Power (ACP) has funded the development of a small scale landfill gas engine in Docking, Norfolk (UK). The project will be developed in conjunction with ACP’s biogas partner AlphaGen Renewables who will oversee the installation and operation of a 50kW microgeneration landfill gas engine. The project will generate power from the landfill gas resource at the site under a 20 year agreement with Norfolk County Council. The Docking projects represents the first project with AlphaGen Renewables and the first Biogas project in the ACP portfolio.

Richard Tipping, Chairman of AlphaGen Renewables said, “We are delighted to be partnering with ACP on this project, which is set to deliver strong returns. Renewables such as biogas are playing a growing role in the UK’s energy production.”

ACP undertakes projects in biogas as well as projects incorporating wind, hydro and solar energy. The company is looking to build a portfolio of similar, high yielding, landfill projects going forward.

David Gudgin, Head of at Renewables at Albion Ventures added, “Biogas is an increasingly popular area of renewable energy and we are looking forward to working with AlphaGen both on this project and others in the future.”

ACA Bio Fuel Ethanol Plant in Argentina Goes Online

The ACA Bio Cooperative Limitada (ACA Bio) dry-mill corn ethanol plant has been commissioned in Argentina. The ethanol plant is located near Villa Maria in the central province of Cordoba, Argentina. During the start-up phase, the plant met or exceeded all performance guarantees according to ICM, who designed the plant. The plant will produce both ethanol and animal feed (dried distillers grains/DDGs).

ICMlogo1Santiago Acquaroli, ACA Bio plant manager, said, “ICM fulfilled all of our expectations. They provided the engineering documents and the process equipment on time and their technical group always helped our people to complete the erection properly. During the start -up and training period, we felt very well supported. Looking back over the past two years, we can only say thank you to ICM for your help and friendship.”

The construction of the plant and equipment installation was completed in February, 2014. ICM, Inc. supplied the process equipment and components for the ethanol plant. ICM also provided on-site representation throughout the build and installation process, as well as guided ACA Bio through the startup, commissioning and training processes.

“We are thrilled to see the successful start-up and the completion of our first project in Argentina. We look forward to further developing our partnership and collaboration with ACA Bio by providing our expertise, services and process technologies to help advance their success and contribution to the advancement of the local renewable energy industry,” said Dave VanderGriend, CEO of ICM, Inc.

Julian Echazarreta, ACA deputy general manager, added, “If any company comes to Argentina trying to be successful in this type of project, it must have the spirit of full collaboration with their customer like ICM had. Many times ICM went further than the scope required and we appreciate it a lot. Since the beginning we realize that we have in ICM a dependable partner and for this reason we will continue doing business with them.”

OPA Announces FIT 3 Contracts

The Ontario Power Authority has announced the offer of 403 Commercial Rooftop Solar PV Feed-in Tariff (FIT) contracts as part of its FIT Version 3 Renewable Energy Contract announcement. Reliant First Nation Limited Partnership (RFNLP), led by Solar Income Fund Inc. and Adelaide Solar Energy Inc., received FIT 3 contract offers on 176 commercial rooftop projects totaling 38.7 MW of power. Offers on 89 percent of the applications submitted by RFNLP were awarded contracts.

Solar Income Fund logo“We are very pleased with the results detailed in the OPA’s announcement,” said Solar Income Fund Inc. President and COO Jennifer Jackson. “The success achieved here is reflective of the hard work and perseverance of the Partners involved in this project. This is a great example of the successful partnerships that Solar Income Fund continues to develop both here in Ontario and globally.”

Of the 123.5 MW of contracts the OPA was authorized to offer proponents with renewable energy applications, RFNLP represented over 31% of the total successful applications and over 45% of successful Solar Rooftop applications.

JinkoSolar Opens Solar Module Factory in Cape Town

Jinko Solar logoCape Town, South Africa is the home of JinkoSolar Holding Co.’s news solar module factory. Located at 2 Evans Avenue, Epping Industrial 1, Cape Town, the factory covers an area of 5,000 square meters and has an annual production capacity of 120MW.

The company invested nearly U.S. $7.5 million in the factory that is expected to create 250 jobs. Modeled after its state-of-the-art Chinese production facilities in China, the Cape Town factory will employ measures to ensure the highest quality PV module production process.

“We are proud to be the first foreign solar manufacturer to have built production facilities in South Africa,” said Mr. Kangping Chen, JinkoSolar’s Chief Executive Officer. “Since winning our first South African tender in 2012, JinkoSolar has become the market leader having sold over 300MW to date. The completion of this factory highlights JinkoSolar’s strong capital base and ability to diversify its global manufacturing facilities geographically.”

“The factory will also enhance JinkoSolar’s global production chain allowing it to serve customers across the region with local content,” added Chen. “We are committed to providing the highest quality products and services to our customers around the world as we work to increase shareholder value over the long-term.”

US Trade Rep Warned About Letting in Imported Biodiesel

IBBFroman1The prospect of Argentine biodiesel replacing U.S. biodiesel… while American biodiesel producers take a hit on the government’s requirement for the amount to be blended… is something not sitting well with the green fuel’s advocates in this country. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman got an earful about the issue while on a trip to Iowa, where he visited on the family farm of Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board just outside Des Moines.

During Ambassador Froman’s tour of the farm where the Kimberleys raise corn and soybeans on 4,000 acres, Kimberley discussed a concerning application made to the Environmental Protection Agency. Submitted by the trade association representing Argentine biodiesel producers, the organization is asking EPA to approve an “Alternative Renewable Biomass Tracking Requirement.” If approved, it would in effect replace the stringent feedstock recordkeeping requirements of the [Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)] regulations and allow Argentine biodiesel to qualify for the U.S. biomass-based diesel program under a more streamlined review process.

“The unfortunate fact is that if EPA approves Argentina’s application, we could be looking at 600 million gallons or more of Argentine biodiesel imported to the U.S., displacing our own domestic production,” Kimberley said. “We know this because an Argentinean tax subsidy would allow each gallon of biodiesel from Argentina to enter the United States at prices lower than biodiesel produced in the U.S.”

“Flooding the market with Argentine biodiesel in addition to this sharp cut would lead to a devastating loss of jobs currently supported by the domestic biodiesel market,” Kimberley said. “Until the proposed cuts, the RFS had been working as intended, but now we’re in the unfathomable position of also replacing imported oil with imported biodiesel. It makes no sense.”

The current RFS proposal would set biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons, about 600 million gallons… or the same amount threatened to come in from Argentina… less that what American biodiesel producers turned out last year. Kimberley said Ambassador Froman and his staff were aware of the issue and receptive to the Iowa Biodiesel Board’s point of view.