QUICK NEWS, 1-31: WIND BEATING NAT GAS IN TEXAS; CHINA HCPV DEMO GOES LIVE; SO. DAKOTA WIND GOES WEST; MONEY IN TRANSMISSION
WIND BEATING NAT GAS IN TEXAS
Why Texas Is Using More Coal, Wind and Less Gas
Kate Galbraith, January 25, 2011 (Texas Tribune)
"…[L]ast year, nearly 8 percent of the power on [Texas]'s electric grid was generated by wind. That's more than three times the national average. And because Texas recently added several coal-generating units, coal plants — for the first time in recent memory — produced more power than any other electricity source. Nuclear power's contribution held about steady, at 13 percent of generation.
"The big loser was natural gas. While natural gas is abundant in Texas, less polluting than coal and substantially cheaper than it was jut a few years ago, it is also easily replaced by the wind. The percentage of power on the grid generated from natural gas dropped from 42 percent in 2009 to 38 percent in 2010; coal, at 39.5 percent, slightly edged it out. Since at least 1990, natural gas has generated more electricity than coal in Texas…Hot weather and the recovering economy caused Texans to use more power overall…"
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"Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Texas figures centers on the relationship between natural gas and wind power…Texas has nearly three times as much wind capacity in place as the next-closest state…The recent growth (from 6.2 percent of the Texas grid's generation in 2009 to 7.8 percent last year) came despite well-documented transmission-line constraints in West Texas, home to the vast majority of the state's wind capacity. There, some wind turbines sometimes get shut down even when the wind is blowing, because there is not enough room on the wires …
"Much of the new wind has come from a different part of Texas — along the Gulf coast in the south…The state has planned $5 billion worth of other transmission lines to remedy the congestion in West Texas…Wind goes onto the grid before natural gas because the "fuel" of the wind is free, unlike that of natural gas plants — so it costs nothing to add more wind to the grid, when the wind is available. Gas units are also relatively easy to turn on and off — making it a good complement to the vagaries of wind power…"
Volatility, a problem. (click to enlarge)
"The long-term drop in the share of natural gas on the Texas grid — as recently as 2002, gas accounted for 46 percent — contrasts to the rest of the country. Nationally, reliance on gas has increased (from 18 percent in 2002 to 23 percent in 2009), while the share of coal generation has dropped, from 50 percent in 2002 to 45 percent in 2009. The reasons for this difference are rooted in history: Decades ago, Texas depended nearly entirely on natural gas for its electricity while many other states built coal plants…Texas did not begin building coal plants until the 1970s and 1980s…so while some of natural gas plants here may be older and closer to retirement, Texas' coal generators are newer and sturdier…
"Natural gas could regain some of its share…Electricity use on the Texas grid at peak hours — meaning hot summer afternoons — is projected to increase by 37 percent by 2030…Coal plants, which are under fire from environmentalists unless they put in expensive new technologies to capture and bury carbon dioxide, may be tough to build…Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst…has proposed phasing out old coal plants and replacing them with gas-fired generation. Tom "Smitty" Smith, the Texas head of the environmental advocacy group Public Citizen, said he endorsed this idea…Meanwhile, wind will continue to grow. Smitherman noted that the state-planned $5 billion transmission line build-out, which is proceeding, should nearly double the wind-energy capacity…"
CHINA HCPV DEMO GOES LIVE
Cyrium Technologies Deploys its QDEC High Efficiency Solar Cells; Cells Installed in Modules Designed and Manufactured by Suntrix Ltd.
January 26, 2011 (Cyrium Technologies)
"Cyrium Technologies, Inc., a leading developer and supplier of concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) cells…announced the grand opening of a 200 KW HCPV (high concentrating photovoltaic) power station owned and operated by Qingdao HG Solar Energy Co., Ltd. The HCPV systems at the facility are powered by Cyrium’s QDEC high efficiency triple junction CPV cells installed in modules manufactured by Suntrix Co., Ltd. and mounted on tracking systems designed by Suntrix and produced by Qingdao HG Solar Energy Co. Ltd…
"Collaboration on this demonstration project began several months ago…[It] highlights the opportunity that exists in China for HCPV systems. Construction of the power station started in November 2010 and was completed this month, clearly demonstrating the ease and speed with which HCPV systems can be deployed for utility scale solar energy projects."
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"Cyrium’s portion of the project received support from Environment Canada’s Asia Pacific Partners (APP) program, as part of the Canadian government’s effort to bring Canadian and China based companies together to foster cross-border collaboration on cleantech projects…"
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"HCPV is considered to the 3rd generation of PV technology making use of low cost, light-concentrating optical systems and group III-V semiconductor materials for the solar cell. The photo-electric conversion efficiency is 2 times more than Si (silicon) technology and requires significantly less land area than other technologies…
"…[HCPV] also has the highest possibility of reducing the power generation cost to the level of using coal, which is of considerable importance in China. The completion of this 200KWp project is a signature event in moving China towards greater deployment and application of HCPV systems to meet its rapidly growing energy needs."
SO. DAKOTA WIND GOES WEST
Western SD First Wind Farm
Austin Hoffman, Janaury 24, 2011 (Keloland Television)
"As energy prices climb higher, more people are looking for green, renewable sources…Renewable Solutions, a Minnesota-based company, is looking at building the first large-scale wind farm, in western South Dakota. The $100 million project would span 9,000 acres and turn up power for an area that can use it.
"Right now it's seemingly endless open prairie, but could soon be home to 27 wind turbines as they crank out 50-megawatts of power. Tom Davis is one of two landowners who have lease agreements for the towers…The main thing Davis is worried about is how his livestock will take to the large spinning windmills. But from what he's seen elsewhere…[he expects] livestock would graze right around them [unbothered]…"
"…Renewable Solutions, the company spearheading the project…[plans] to use local contractors for much of the ground work which would create around 30 jobs…[The project will] create two to five full-time, post-construction jobs. And much of the tax revenue from the turbines would go to local schools.
"The project isn't 100-percent finalized…[N]egotiations over finding a buyer for the power [continue]…[C]onstruction will be next."
MONEY IN TRANSMISSION
2010 Value Proposition Reveals $1.3B-$1.6B in Annual Benefits; 10-Year Regional Benefits Estimated from $11.2B-$14.6B
January 25, 2011 (Midwest Independent System Operator)
"…[The Midwest ISO 2010 Value Proposition] reflects the quantitative and qualitative benefits the regional transmission organization provides to the region through its grid reliability and efficiency measures. The study identifies between $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion in annual benefits to the region. Over the next 10 years, the Midwest ISO estimates the region could receive between $11.2 billion and $14.6 billion in benefits on a net present value basis…"
"The analysis shows realized annual benefits ranging from $650 million to $875 million from the Midwest ISO’s greater grid reliability and efficiency measures. In addition, the study identifies benefits of between $600 million and $760 million from reduced generation investment. The generation investment benefit will be realized as load grows or current generating infrastructure retires due to age or environmental restrictions.
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"Like prior Value Proposition studies, the Midwest ISO’s analysis included input from all interested stakeholders in an open and transparent process. The 2010 study measured 10 value drivers in which the Midwest ISO’s members and their customers are benefiting…[including] Improved reliability…Market commitment and dispatch - Dispatch of energy, Unloaded capacity, Regulation, Spinning Reserves…Wind integration …Generation investment deferral…[and] Demand response (dynamic pricing and direct control interruptibles)…"
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"New in 2010 was the addition of Wind Integration as a quantitative benefit. Midwest ISO’s regional planning enabled more economic placement of wind, resulting in annual economic benefits between $34 million and $42 million. The regional transmission organization’s Regional Generation Outlet Study (RGOS) shows that a combination of wind placed in states with renewable portfolio standards and regional areas enable a significant reduction in the cost of generation compared with only building the wind generation locally. This area of benefits will grow as the region continues to build wind turbines to meet state renewable portfolio requirements.
"In addition to the quantitative benefits, the Midwest ISO also demonstrated significant qualitative benefits that wholesale market participants receive from the Midwest ISO including…Price and informational transparency…Planning coordination…Regulatory compliance…[and] Seams management…"