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Mixed Greens: Big solar to replace Fukushima nuclear

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Toshiba Corp has announced that it will begin building solar plants with a total generating capacity of 100MW on its northeastern coastline – the region that last year was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami, which then triggered a nuclear disaster – making it the biggest solar project in Japan. Reuters reports that the Japanese electronics conglomerate will spend around ¥30 billion ($379.6 million) to build several large-scale solar plants in Minami Soma – located around 25km from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. The project supercedes the earlier plans of Kyocera Corp, heavy machinery maker IHI Corp and Mizuho Corporate Bank, to launch a 70MW plant in southern Japan.

Toshiba said Wednesday it would start building the plants this year and aimed to kick off operations in 2014. Residents of Minami Soma, which is, were forced to flee their homes last year after a part of the city was deemed a no-gone zone by the government in the wake of the world’s worst atomic disaster in 25 years. The company’s announcement follows the Japanese government’s approval on Tuesday of generous new renewables incentives via feed-in tariffs, which is expected to unleash billions of dollars in clean energy investment.

Commodore EVs join fleet

The government car fleet service COMCAR today became the first in Australia to trial a locally-made and designed, fully-electric Holden Commodore. The ‘zero-emissions’ EV was developed by Melbourne-based consortium EV Engineering – a joint venture between Air International, Bosch, Continental, Futuris, GE, and electric car infrastructure provider Better Place, purpose-built to develop a proof-of-concept, large Australian EV and demonstrate its technical viability and attractiveness to customers. The car is designed with battery switching capability – with the future rollout of Better Place’s Battery Switch Stations – where EV drivers “can switch their empty battery for a full one in less time than it takes to fill up with petrol” – in mind.

“A two-week trial around the clock will help COMCAR determine the suitability of electric cars for its 146-car fleet and how these vehicles meet government environmental objectives,” Special Minister of State Gary Gray said. “EV Engineering is building seven proof-of-concept electric Holden Commodores with the assistance of a $3.5 million grant from the Australian government’s New Car Plan for Greener Future. We’re delighted to be part of this project and to have the chance to trial one of these innovative cars.”

COMCAR will evaluate the vehicle across a range of measures including energy efficiency, Green Vehicle Guide rating, passenger comfort, practicality and luggage capacity. CEO of EV Engineering, Ian McCleave said the trial provided an opportunity to showcase the electric Commodore in a prestigious, demanding vehicle fleet. The greater project is designed to demonstrate technical viability and customer attractiveness for a large electric car, as well as developing electric vehicle engineering skills and components within the Australian automotive industry.

TRUenergy lines up wind farm sale

TRUenergy, the Australian arm of Hong Kong-listed power generator CLP Holdings, has hired ANZ to sell its Waterloo wind farm in South Australia. The sale of the 37-turbine wind farm, located 30km from the town of Clare in South Australia, could fetch up to $300 million. It has a generating capacity of 111 megawatts and supplies 49,000 homes. TRUenergy took full control of the Waterloo wind farm last year following the break-up of its Roaring 40s joint venture with Hydro Tasmania. The sale is not expected to affect thelong-term offtake agreement bewtween Waterloo and TRUenergy. Roaring 40s was established in 2005 to develop renewable energy projects in Australia and overseas, especially in China. Hydro sold its share of Roaring 40s’ Chinese and Indian portfolio to CLP in April 2009 to concentrate on Australia.  

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