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Mixed Greens: BrightSource to build first US-China CSP plant

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US concentrated solar power developer, BrightSource Energy, will partner with a group of Chinese companies to build a commercial-scale CSP plant – the first such project under the US-China 10-year cooperation on energy and environment initiative. The California-based company signed MoUs with several state-owned companies earlier this month, including China Power Investment Corp, China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute and Huanghe Hydropower Development (a subsidiary of CPI).

The deal will see BrightSource supply the technology, while Huangue will develop, construct and operate the CSP project. Brightsource and CPI will also work on research and development of CSP technology for future cost reduction and to influence Chinese energy policy, while CREEI will produce a CSP handbook for future projects. The MoUs were signed at the US-China renewable energy industry forum in Shanghai.

BrightSource is considered the world’s premier solar thermal field technology provider, and is currently constructing one of the world’s largest solar thermal projects, the 377 MW Ivanpah project, in California.

‘No longer financially viable’: another US nuclear plant set to close

US generation company Entergy has announced the closure of a 620MW Yankee nuclear power station in Vermont because the 41-year-old plant is too expensive to run. The company said the Yankee plant, and possibly some other of its nuclear plants, could no longer compete with low gas prices. The company recently won an extension to operate the facility until 2032, but will now close it next year.

“The plant was no longer financially viable,” Entergy chairman and CEO told Bloomberg in a phone interview. Bloomberg said it is the fifth US nuclear reactor this year to announce plans to permanently close, as power prices have slumped. Reactors also face higher maintenance costs from stricter regulations following Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Analysts at UBS said although Yankee had been fully depreciated, its cost of production was probably around $50/MWh, nearly 50 per cent more than prevailing market prices. The nuclear generation is likely to be replaced by increased use of gas and hydro generation from Canada, the analysts said. Entergy said it will cost at least $US566 million to shut the plant and decommission the site.

Solar NIMBY-ism strikes in Canberra

Residents of the ACT’s Uriarra Village have protested plans to build a 10MW solar farm near the town, arguing it would ruin the vista that attracted them to live there in the first place. The Canberra Times reports that about 50 local residents attended a community meeting on Sunday, angry about the placement of the proposed 26,100-panels solar park, and the lack of warning about the major project.

Managing director of Elementus Energy, Ashleigh Antflick, whose subsidiary OneSun plans to build the solar farm, told The Canberra Times some panels would be 20 metres from a leased property’s edge. ”The first panels will be at least 20 metres inside the property,” he said. ”There will be a visual impact, a real impact and a perceived impact, and we’ll work with the [community] as efficiently as we can, and ensure they have the real facts.” Antflick said the chosen site, for which they had a 20-year sublease, was the territory’s most suitable land for a solar farm.  

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