South Korea says a decision to install smart meters in half the country’s households by 2016 could cut electricity consumption equivalent to the cost of one nuclear power plant, Bloomberg reports. “We want to make the utility industry intelligent and efficient,” said Choi Kyu Chong, director of the Smart Grid & Electricity Market Division of Knowledge Economy Ministry. The government will invest $1.3 billion into the smart meters program run by the state-run utility Korea Electric Power, and Kepco says the smart meters will smooth demand fluctuations by encouraging more people to shift consumption to off-peak hours when it’s cheapest to generate electricity.
If South Korea meets its 2016 target to install the meters at half its households, it will be second in Asia only to China, which plans to install them at 80% of households by 2016. Italy already has these meters in all houses, while in the US, they are installed in about half of all households. The meters are part of the Smart Grid project designed to help reduce energy consumption by 3 percent and cut electricity consumption by 10 per cent by 2030. In 2030, when the project is completed, it will lead to the reduction of 230 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and 47 trillion won of energy imports, according to government estimates.
Wasabi’s African play
Dual-listed (ASX/AIM), Melbourne-based clean tech outfit Wasabi Energy has bought a 25 per cent stake in South African carbon asset and engineering firm AAP Carbon Holdings – which builds plants that harvest furnace off-gases to produce electricity, among other clean energy projects, and generates carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This latest move into the South African market – last year Wasabi announced a deal with ArcelorMittal South Africa to build, own and operate two waste heat-to-electricity Kalina Cycle power plants at the Vanderbijl park Steel Plant; the plants will generate electricity from the waste heat, and sell it back to the steelmaker under a long-term power purchase agreement – appears to be strategic, with Wasabi saying in an annoucement on Monday that the country had several energy intensive industries and that power prices there were set to go up by 16 per cent this year.
“There is strong demand for energy efficiency projects such as those offered by AAP and Wasabi,” the company said, pointing out that against the current economic backdrop, there was an immediate opportunity to increase the power output and energy efficiency of the AAP plants through integrating a Kalina Cycle power plant. Wasabi claims that its patented Kalina Cycle power generation technology is the most efficient process for turning low temperature heat into electricity, and that, with applications in the industrial ‘waste’ heat and geothermal sectors, it could add 20 per cent to the worlds power generation capacity with no carbon emissions.
First Solar’s northern exposure
Two separate announcements on three different solar projects across America and Canada were issued by First Solar on Monday: one being the completion of NextEra Energy Resources’ acquisition of two First Solar PV projects, totaling 40 MW, in Ontario, Canada; the second on the agreement between First Solar and NRG Energy for the former to construct NRG’s 26MW Avra Valley solar project near Tucson, Arizona.
The Canadian projects, located in St Clair, were designed, developed and constructed by First Solar using its advanced thin film PV modules, and began commercial operation last month. They are owned and operated by NextEra’s Canadian subsidiary, NextEra Energy Canada, and generate enough energy to power about 6,440 homes – they are also expected to help avoid nearly 45,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year. The electricity is being sold to the Ontario Power Authority via long-term contracts under its Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP).
In the US, electricity from the Avra Valley solar project will be sold to Tucson Electric Power under a 20-year PPA. The Tucson venture will also utilise First Solar’s advanced thin-film PV technology, which will be mounted on the company’s single-axis tracker system, allowing for maximum solar exposure through the day, to extend the peak energy production period and provide more electricity in the afternoon, when demand is greatest. Construction on the project, expected to commence this month, will create an estimated 200 jobs, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.