Mixed Greens: Gas joins coal generation in holding pattern

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NSW’s 1GW Dalton peaking gas project put on ice. Plus news on Geodynamics; Saudi Arabia & Maldives renewables; green roofs & walls; and EU efficiency.

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The 1,000MW Dalton gas project in southern NSW has become the latest fossil plant to fall victim to the rapidly changing demand profile in the Australian electricity market, with AGL Energy announcing on Friday that the project had been put on hold until further notice. The Dalton power station was planned as a peaking plant, and would have been by far the largest gas-fired peaker in AGL’s portfolio. But it in a brief statement, AGL Energy said “the economic viability of this project had been under review for several months because of market conditions.”

It did not say so, but this would include the changes in demand that has forced the market operator to recast its predictions for the next decade, and conclude that no extra generation plant was needed in NSW for at least the next 9 years. The demand profile is being impacted by the reduction in manufacturing capacity, consumer responses to higher electricity prices, energy efficiency measures, and the rise in solar PV. The market operator estimates that nearly one third of the more than 400MW of solar PV in the NSW market meets peak demand. The announcement follows the announced closure or mothballing of nearly 3,000MW of coal-fired capacity in Australia this year as a result of changing demand patterns.

Geodynamics blows steam at Habanero

Geothermal aspirant Geodynamics says it has flowed steam at its Habanero 4 well as part of a clean up program that is underway in preparation for crucial flow testing and stimulation programs in November. The testing program will be crucial for the go-ahead of a program that will link the Habanero 4 well with the Hanabero 1 well, and trials of a 1MW pilot plant at Innamincka. Producing steam is crucial to drive the turbine. The company said it is encouraged by the early results.

In other news…

The world’s biggest oil producing nation, Saudi Arabia, has revealed plans to become 100 per cent powered by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy. The Guardian reported on Friday that Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, one of the state’s top spokesmen, told the Global Economic Symposium in Brazil that he hoped the kingdom might be powered entirely by low-carbon energy within his lifetime – he is 67 – but that it was likely to take longer.

In the Maldives, the local Energy Authority has announced the launch of a $138 million renewable energy project that is expected to generate 26MW of electricity for the archipelago. CleanTechnica reports that the project, developed under the Sustainable Renewable Energy Project (SREP) of the Climate Investment Fund, would be funded by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and German and Japanese Banks, and is expected to be completed within five years. 16MW of the 26MW of generated electricity will be supplied to the capital, Male, which constitutes 30 per cent of the Maldives’ total population.

New research has suggested that the market for green roofs and walls – or building-integrated vegetation – will surge to $7.7 billion by 2017. CleanTechnica reports that a report from Lux Research predicts installations of green roofs will rise 70 per cent by, to 204 million square meters, by 2017, while the cultivation of green walls will grow to a $680 million market, “using $200 million worth of materials such as self-supporting polyurethane foam growth media.”

Big Brother will soon be watching French power use, with a bill adopted by the lower house this month – and described by the Opposition as “Orwellian” – would set power prices for homes based on wages, age and climateBloomberg reports that French utilities Electricite de France and GDF Suez will use the data to reward consumers who cut power and natural gas usage and penalise those whom regulators decide are wasteful.

In the UK, households undertaking energy efficiency improvements set to be eligible for discounts of up to £1,000 from a new £205 million fund designed to accelerate take up of the new Green Deal scheme. BusinessGreen reports that people installing eligible new boilers could receive up to £270, which those implementing a range of insulation measures would be awarded bewteen to £100-£650. A wide range of other energy efficiency technologies will also be eligible for payments.

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