Non-hydro renewables accounted for more than one third of the power generation in South Australia in the March quarter, according to data released by EnergyQuest, and helped push the price of wholesale electricity down considerably.
As the table below illustrates, wind energy accounted for 31 per cent of electricity generation, and solar PV added 3.5 per cent. South Australia leads other states by a considerable margin on both measures. Wind has now cemented its place above coal in the state. But Australia’s total renewable generation, including hydro, amounted to just 9.4 per cent.
Victoria is notable for its reliance on 93.4 per cent coal-fired generation, Queensland for its absence of wind generation, and NSW for a paltry contribution from wind of 0.9 per cent. Overall demand on the eastern states grid fell by 1,689GWh, reflected in lower coal-fired generation (down 598GWh) and lower hydro generation (down 578GWh). This and the growth of wind and solar helped reduce average wholesale electricity prices by between 30-60 per cent in most states, even though retail electricity prices rose.
US oil major Chevron is looking at using solar power to generate the steam needed to pump heavy crude from an oilfield located on land straddling Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Hashim al-Rifaai, chairman and managing director of Kuwait Gulf Oil Co., told reporters in Abu Dhabi today that the energy giant is considering starting a pilot solar plant at the end of 2013, which would use energy from the sun to heat water to create steam, which would then be injected underground to make the heavy oil liquid enough to flow. The solar plant would be used in conjunction with natural gas, which would be used to power the so-called steam-flood development at the Wafra field in the Neutral Zone, which Saudi Arabia and Kuwait share. Kuwait Gulf is responsible for managing Kuwait’s share, while Chevron operates Saudi Arabia’s interest.
Bloomberg reports that Chevron is assessing the use of solar energy as it seeks to free up much-needed natural gas. Kuwait buys the fuel in liquid form at international prices while Saudi Arabia burns crude in its power stations, due to a lack of local supply of gas to generate electricity. The company expects to come to a final investment decision on steam injection in the Wafra field sometime next year, with the aim of producing as much as 600,000 barrels a day of heavy oil from 2017. Saudi Arabia, the largest OPEC member, says it’s pumping more than 10 million barrels of oil, the highest in more than three decades. Kuwait’s output was 2.7 million barrels last month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Good EV Karma
Luxury EV-maker Fisker Automotive says its recently released Karma hybrid plug-in sedans have generated revenue of more than $US100 million in the first four months of this year. The California-based company said in a statement on Tuesday that it has delivered 1,000 Karmas, priced from $US103,000, in the US and Europe since December. “We are encouraged by solid demand for the Karma,” Fisker CEO Tom LaSorda said. “Pending completion of investment sourcing, we are poised to press ahead with further market expansion and development of our higher volume model, the Fisker Atlantic.”
The Karma – which got an early, and enviable, image boost by Canadian teen pop star Justin Bieber, whose now chrome-plated Karma was given to him as an 18th birthday present, live on US TV – is able to travel 80km on lithium-ion batteries before a petrol engine kicks in. The company, founded by designer Henrik Fisker, has had to solve problems with its battery pack, says Bloomberg, and work to regain access to a low-cost federal loan to build its second model, Atlantic, at an idled plant in Wilmington, Delaware. Fisker’s access to the funds, awarded in 2009, was cut off last year after it fell behind on delivering the Karma.