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Fortnightly Magazine - July 2010

Kiewit chooses Alstom equipment for Dominion and Northland Power plants; Abengoa Solar reaches 143 MW with thermal plant startup; S&C Electric to engineer Tessera Solar project; Canada and Hitachi cooperate on carbon sequestration; Black & Veatch to manage PSE&G smart-grid project; AEP selects OPower for customer engagement; SRP picks Elster for AMI rollout; Oncor installs millionth smart meter; plus contract and technology announcements from ABB, Arcadian Networks, Beacon Power, Catalyst Renewables, eMeter, Itron, Open Systems International, Siemens, SunEdison, Tesla Motors and more...

Generation

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), released its third-annual Top Ten Utility Solar Rankings. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) topped the list of utilities with the most solar megawatts added to the grid for the second straight year with 85.2 MW, but new additions to the list and overall growth in solar integration by utilities defined 2009, according to the report. The top 10 utilities’ solar MW added to the grid grew from 169 MW in 2008 to 279 MW in 2009, a growth of 66 percent in a year when electricity demand as a whole declined as the result of the economic downturn. These 10 utilities represented 80 percent of the survey total. The results of SEPA’s research suggest that this growth was sparked in part by a drop in price for photovoltaic modules and systems worldwide. Joining the top 10 this year (see Figure 1) are Florida Power & Light Company at number 4 (29.5 MW, not ranked in 2008); Arizona’s Salt River Project at number 8 (5.8 MW, ranked 25th in 2008); and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power at number 10 (4.889 MW, ranked 12th in 2008).

Abengoa Solar began commercial operation of Solnova 3, a new parabolic trough technology plant located at the Solúcar Complex in Seville, Spain. Abengoa Solar says the plant integrates some new technology enhancements to the ASTRØ parabolic trough collector, with construction and alignment processes intended to improve precision. This plant has the same features as its predecessor, Solnova 1, which began operating commercially at the beginning of May. Abengoa Solar says that with the additions, it has placed 143 MW of generating capacity into commercial operation, with another 350 MW under construction and several thousand under consideration.

Kiewit Corp. chose Alstom equipment to add 100 MW of steam-generated power to a new natural-gas-fired combined-cycle power plant being built in Saskatchewan. The equipment will be used in a new base-load power plant developed and owned by Northland Power of Toronto. The contract includes the supply of a steam tail (i.e., a 100-MW steam turbine, a generator and a heat recovery steam generator, or HRSG) and Alstom’s Alspa 6 turbine control system. The steam tail will bring the plant’s total power output to 285 MW. All power produced by the plant will be sold under a PPA to SaskPower. Construction is expected to begin in July 2010 with commercial operations in 2013. Kiewit also chose Alstom to provide air quality control systems to meet stringent Massachusetts clean air regulations for Dominion Resources’ Brayton Point Station in Somerset, Mass., which Dominion purchased in 2005. Under the terms of the $35 million contract, Alstom will supply a dry flue gas desulphurization system including NID reactors, fabric filters, mixer-hydrators, day silos, inlet and outlet plenums, support steel, and access platforms for unit 3 at the facility. Brayton Point is New England’s largest fossil-fueled generating facility with an output of 1,568 MW.

GeoGlobal Energy LLC (GGE), has become the largest investor in the first stand-alone, high-temperature flash technology geothermal power project to be developed in 20 years in California’s Imperial Valley, one of the largest geothermal resources in the world. The Hudson Ranch project will produce 49 MW of base-load power after its expected completion in two years. The entire electric output will be sold under a 30-year power purchase agreement with the Salt River Project. GGE is investing $90 million for construction of the $400 million Hudson Ranch project. With this equity, GGE also is becoming a 20-percent investor in Energy-Source, a renewable energy development company founded by Catalyst Renewables and Hannon Armstrong. GGE has a $225 million capital commitment from its sponsor, Mighty River Power, a New Zealand utility with 400 MW of geothermal in development and operation. GGE expects to develop between 500 and 1,000 MW of geothermal capacity in select markets, including the United States, Chile and Germany.

S&C Electric Co. was awarded a contract to perform engineering services for one of the largest solar plants in the world, Calico Solar. The plant, located near Barstow, Calif., is being developed by Tessera Solar and engineering, procurement and construction firm Mortenson Construction. It will use the Stirling Energy Systems (SES) SunCatcher solar dish to provide 850 MW of power. S&C’s services will include power flow modeling of the SunCatcher system; stability, short circuit coordination, and dynamic simulation studies; and design of the collector system. S&C also has revised dynamic modeling of the SunCatcher, integrating control system improvements by SES, the manufacturer of the SunCatcher, into the electrical system model.

SunEdison, the solar energy development division of MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. agreed with First Reserve Corp. to establish a joint venture that could provide for the acquisition of up to $1.5 billion in current and future SunEdison solar photovoltaic energy projects. SunEdison has more than 350 solar electric power plants constructed and under management. First Reserve is a private equity and energy infrastructure investor with $20 billion under management. SunEdison and First Reserve say this joint venture will be one of the largest world-wide energy infrastructure enterprises focused on the long-term ownership of solar photovoltaic generation assets.

Efficiency & Conservation

The Government of Saskatchewan, Canada and Hitachi Ltd. signed a joint declaration to work together and share information for developing energy and environmental technologies, including carbon capture and storage (CCS) for thermal power plants, renewable energy and smart-grid technologies. The agreement is Saskatchewan’s first such agreement with an energy company in the energy and environmental technologies field and aims to strengthen existing efforts to commercialize low-carbon energy technologies. Additionally, it’s expected to enhance energy security, while assisting in protection of the environment and natural resources. A primary focus of the agreement is to commercialize low-carbon energy technologies that involve CCS. Saskatchewan is home to the world’s largest monitored CCS demonstration project.

Ash Improvement Technology (AIT), a start up based in the New York City area, closed on Series A financing from a group of private investors aimed at taking on the 130 million tons per year of coal ash produced in the United States. Proposed coal ash regulations are under consideration and EPA estimates the incremental clean-up costs at $600 million to $1.5 billion a year, but industry insiders say it could cost as much as $12 billion. AIT’s approach transforms waste ash into a cement substitute, using sorbents applied on site at coal-fired power plants. The residue collected in the power plant’s existing collection systems can be sold immediately for beneficial use without further treatment. That results in less coal ash being landfilled, and also includes a reduction in CO2 emissions. According to AIT, each ton of treated ash used in lieu of cement saves nearly 0.85 tons of CO2 emissions. AIT’s infusion of funds will be applied toward making the process available commercially during the second half of 2010.

Storage and EVs

President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corp. Akio Toyoda, and Co-Founder and CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk announced a partnership between the companies to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles (EV), parts, and production system and engineering support. Toyota agreed to purchase $50 million of Tesla’s common stock, issued in a private placement to close immediately subsequent to the closing of Tesla’s currently planned initial public offering. Tesla acquired the NUMMI plant in Fremont—formerly used to produce Corolla and Tacoma vehicles—and plans to begin production of its second-generation vehicle, the Model S EV luxury sedan, in 2012.

Metering

AEP Ohio, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, selected OPower to deploy its customer engagement platform as the customer-facing solution for smart-grid deployment. Beginning late summer, OPOWER will help the utility provide 70,000 smart-metered homes with contextualized in-home energy data and energy-efficiency advice and tips through mailed paper reports and an online energy management portal. The OPower platform is an advanced customer engagement (ACE) solution that delivers individualized energy usage information through all available channels: the mail, Web, phone, in-home displays as well as mobile devices. The cross-channel approach is designed to enable all customers to engage with their energy data and save on their bills, irrespective of income or access to technology.

Oncor installed its 1 millionth smart meter in its Smart Texas project, marking a milestone in the progress of Oncor’s smart-meter transformation since the project began in 2008. By 2012, Oncor expects to complete the upgrade of more than 3 million meters throughout its service area. The 1 millionth smart meter was installed in Waco. The utility estimates that if all customers in its service area adjusted their electricity usage because of readily available consumption information, Oncor’s customers could potentially save a total of up to $250 million annually and minimize the need for up to a dozen new power plants over the next decade.

Salt River Project (SRP) announced it will utilize its DOE smart-grid investment grant award to double its deployment of Elster EnergyAxis advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Since 2003, SRP has deployed approximately 500,000 Elster REX residential and ALPHA commercial and industrial smart meters and used the data provided by EnergyAxis to support customer service, and cost and environmental savings. SRP estimates the EnergyAxis solution has enabled it to remotely address more than 748,000 customer orders, save more than 249,000 in labor hours, avoid more than 1.3 million driving miles and conserve 135,000 gallons of fuel. SRP is in the process of ordering an additional 500,000 EnergyAxis smart meters for delivery over the next three years, at a rate of approximately 14,000 smart meters a month. This will bring SRP’s total number of EnergyAxis endpoints to approximately 1 million. SRP will use Elster’s EnergyICT meter data management system to process the information.

Wabash Valley Power Association, a generation and transmission cooperative based in Indianapolis, selected Siemens Energy and eMeter to implement eMeter’s EnergyIP software platform and meter data management application. The system is expected to provide meter-to-cash and demand response functions across multiple customer information and advanced metering systems.

Smart Grid & TD

Tres Amigas chose Viridity Energy to design, build and operate the power trading platform for the Tres Amigas SuperStation. Viridity Energy will provide the network and commercial operations necessary for the sale and delivery of Tres Amigas’s transmission services, associated electric energy transfers, and other ancillary products and services. The SuperStation is designed to be a renewable energy market hub and balancing authority, helping to ensure the efficient and reliable flow of power from multiple renewable generation sources in all three power regions to customers across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) selected Black & Veatch to provide program management and integration services for the utility’s grid-modernization program. Black & Veatch will implement PSE&G’s automated loop scheme, deploying smart reclosers with digital logic and communication functionality, designed to significantly improve the reliability of the electric grid. The program also provides communication infrastructure for future smart-grid functions.

Manitoba Hydro of Winnipeg, Manitoba, chose Open Systems International to supply a new natural gas supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and pipeline management system to manage the more than 1,741 km of natural gas transmission pipelines and over 7,105 km of distribution pipelines within the province of Manitoba.