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Modern Energy Management wins contract for Vietnam wind farm

October 23rd, 2017

One of Vietnam’s first commercial-scale wind farms is underway with the announcement that its initial phase is to be overseen by Thai project management firm Modern Energy Management (MEM).

The 144 MW intertidal Tra Vinh project is being developed by South Korea’s Woojin Construction, special-purpose company Tra Vinh Wind Power and Netherlands-based development funding provider Climate Fund Managers.

Under the terms of a co-operation agreement signed between the project partners and MEM, the company will oversee the $130m first development phase of 48 MW. 

Vietnam has set a renewables target of 10 per cent of its power mix by 2030, but investment in the sector has been slow due to a low FiT rate, lack of transmission infrastructure and the fact that the nation’s power purchase agreement (PPA) offering for both wind and solar projects is seen as ‘unbankable’ by international investors.

MEM said it expects the Tra Vinh wind farm to be the first such project to successfully resolve these issues due to its approach which integrates the insurance, legal and project management aspects of project development and “bridges the various financial, commercial and technical siloes that can arise in the course of developing wind assets”.

The company added that it will supply a dedicated project manager to who will ensure that “the project matures as planned enabling bankability”.

Lars Lund, MEM’s director, said the Vietnamese wind market “possesses considerable investment potential for projects that focus on the fundamentals as a means of reducing costs and ensuring sufficient returns for investors”.

Vietnam currently has around 200 MW of wind power capacity installed, and around 50 projects are in the planning or construction phase.

Earlier this month, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced a grant to Vietnamese engineering firm Power Engineering Consulting Joint Stock Company 2 (PECC2) for development of a 100 MW nearshore windfarm in Vietnam’s southern region.


Deadline extended for Electrify Europe call for papers

October 20th, 2017

The Advisory Board of Electrify Europe has decided to extend its deadline for submission of outstanding papers to form the 2018 conference programme. The new deadline has been extended to 27th October, 2017.

Electrify Europe takes place in Vienna on the 19th of June, 2018. This year’s papers will come under the broad topics of:

  • Asset Management & Optimization
  • Customer Strategies, Technologies & Advanced Metering Infrastructure
  • Digitalization & Data
  • Distributed Energy Resources
  • Environmental Issues
  • Flexible Generation
  • Smart Grid & Smart Infrastructure
  • Strategies for an Electrified Europe

Electrify Europe is a new concept for the electricity industry, brought to you by two trusted power industry brands: POWER-GEN and DistribuTECH. It is where the implementation of Europe’s electricity transition will be mapped out. Electrify Europe will combine power generation and grid design/operation, along with the latest developments in digitalization, energy storage, renewable energy integration and much more.

So, whether you’re a power producer, grid integrator, technology supplier or a software developer, if you have a unique viewpoint to share, we want to hear from you. If your paper is accepted, you’ll be presenting to an influential international audience of electricity sector professionals and innovators, converging in Vienna next June to advance Europe’s electricity revolution.


Landis+Gyr and British Gas achieve ‘next generation’ UK smart meter milestone

October 20th, 2017

Landis+Gyr (LAND.SW), global provider of energy management solutions, has announced the introduction of the next generation of smart meters for electricity and gas in the UK.

Building on its longstanding presence in the UK metering market, Landis+Gyr has worked with British Gas to launch the first of a new standard in smart technology. The first of the new model UK smart meters is now installed and live in a British Gas customer's home.
These smart meters, part of Landis+Gyr’s UK smart metering family, are the first to comply with the Government’s ground breaking smart energy standard, SMETS2 ('smart metering equipment technical specifications 2’).

The first operational SMETS2 meter, installed in August at a semi-detached home in Surbiton, will be part of extensive consumer testing to inform the wider national roll-out of the meters from 2018.

SMETS2 smart meters will deliver a wide range of improvements, including:

Interoperability – these devices enable seamless switching between energy suppliers by connecting with the Data Communications Company (DCC).

High security – the new meters maintain and extend the highest standard of security for householder data.

Renewable energy support - the new meters will facilitate the connection of all types of home renewable and microgeneration technology onto the grid, supporting a cleaner, greener UK.

At a national level, the new meters are set to form the cornerstone of an improved national energy infrastructure, more flexible, reliable and efficient than ever before. The highly-detailed information they provide for the UK’s electricity network operators will help to reduce the annual cost of supporting the country’s power grid, and aid renewables integration. Critically, it will also enable the expansion of electric vehicles across the UK – a key part of UK Government’s future transport strategy and a vital step in creating a clean-energy future.

Having chosen to locate its gas and electricity smart meter R&D facilities in the UK in order to best serve the highly-advanced UK smart metering market, Landis+Gyr continues to support the UK tech industry and foster its growth. With the rapid expansion of smart meters across continental Europe, the cutting-edge functionality of its SMETS2 devices is expected to be integrated into many of the company’s solutions across Europe, exporting UK skills and expertise.

Several UK energy retailers including British Gas are beginning volume SMETS2 pilot programmes, utilizing the company’s SMETS2 solution this autumn. Landis+Gyr expects to deliver more than 20 million smart gas and electricity meters for its UK customers as part of the nationwide rollout currently underway.

Catherine O’Kelly, Industry Development Director at British Gas, said: “We’re proud to be the first energy supplier in the UK to install a SMETS2 meter in a customer’s home. It’s a really important milestone for our programme, coming hot on the heels of our four millionth smart meter installation a few months ago.” 

INFOGRAPHIC: Which country is leading the way in sustainability?

October 20th, 2017

he World Energy Council has released its Energy Trilemma Index

The tool ,produced in partnership with Oliver Wyman, ranks countries on their ability to provide sustainable energy through 3 dimensions: Energy security, Energy equity (accessibility and affordability), Environmental sustainability. 

The ranking measures overall performance in achieving a sustainable mix of policies and the balance score highlights how well a country manages the trade-offs of the Trilemma with "A" being the best.

Which country is leading the way in sustainable energy

Balancing the three goals constitutes a 'dilemma' and is the basis for a secure, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy system. 

The latest findings shows a clear trend towards Europe and North America being the most sustainable areas, with Denmark leading the way, with top marks across each three dimensions.

In fact, the Nordic countries dominate in the ranks for the world's most sustainable countries, with Finland, Norway and Sweden all in the top 10.

The least sustainable countries include Benin, Nepal and Cambodia.

Meanwhile the UK finished 11th in the rankings and neigbouring Ireland achieved 20th position.

The sole country outside of Europe to make the top ten is New Zealand in 9th postion. Other notables include the US at 14, Canada at 22, Japan at 30, Russia at 45 and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at 47.

For more information on rankings go to World Energy Council data, which shows the tallies for 125 countries.

This infographic was provided courtesy of RS Components

South Korea rows back on nuclear reactors decision

October 20th, 2017

The South Korean government has decided to construct two new nuclear power plants, despite initially stating that is programme was complete.

Prior to his election, President Moon Jae-in had vowed not to allow any new reactors. Reuters reports that when he made that pledge, five nuclear power plants were under construction, three of them near completion. Mr. Moon said that he would scrap the other two, which were both in the early stages.
Moon Jae-in
In June, Mr. Moon proposed an independent panel to study public opinion on the issue and make a recommendation. The panel worked with 471 citizens from various walks of life and conducted extensive surveys.

While the panel was at work, Mr. Moon suspended the construction of the two reactors, both inside the Gori nuclear power complex in Ulsan, in the southeast of South Korea.

On Friday, after three months of study, the panel endorsed a return to construction. Three-fifths of the panel supported the projects, while the remaining members were opposed.

The president has decided to take on board their decision and now complete the plants, despite a great deal of public opposition.

The government-controlled Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company, the country’s sole nuclear operator, has already spent $1.4bn on the construction of the last two reactors.

But the panel supported Mr. Moon’s long-term policy of weaning South Korea off nuclear energy, with 53 per cent urging that nuclear power be scaled back, while nearly 10 percent wanted it expanded. More than a third favoured maintaining current levels.

South Korea currently has 24 reactors providing one-third of its electricity needs.

Besides the five plants under construction, South Korea had planned to build six more. Mr. Moon has scrapped those plans and his government has also vowed not to extend the operation of existing reactors when they reach their life expectancy.

Mr. Moon has also promised to invest more in renewable energy sources and said he would issue no new licenses for coal power plants.

GE teams with Apple to boost digital power offering

October 19th, 2017

Apple and GE have teamed up to improve the software involved in tracking power plants' effectiveness.

The companies have come up with a tool for app developers to connect Apple’s iOS operating system more easily to Predix, the cloud-based software at the heart of GE’s effort to turn itself into a “digital industrial” company.

The Predix software connects sensor-laden industrial machines like wind turbines to data centres, so that streams of information from the machines can be analyzed to help predict failures and make the machines run more cost effectively.

GE expects the software to help generate $12bn in digital revenue by 2020, although there were delays in the process this year while system issues were being worked out.

Now, with the help of the new software built with Apple, which GE plans to release on 26 October, more information from Predix will be available to the on-the-ground managers of factories and power plants who work most closely with GE’s equipment, said Kevin Ichhpurani, executive vice-president of global ecosystem and channels at GE Digital.

For example, Ichhpurani said, a power plant manager might be debating the best time to take a generator offline for scheduled maintenance. With the Predix software, the manager can see data on the machine and could share notes and photographs from an iPad at the site of the generator and even start a video call.

“These decisions can be made at the power plant or on the factory floor, as opposed to being made at corporate,” Ichhpurani told Reuters in an interview.

As part of arrangements between the two companies, GE plans to make iPhones and iPads the standard mobile devices for its 330,000 employees and will also offer Mac desktop computers as a choice for them.

In return, Apple will help promote GE’s Predix software to Apple’s enterprise customers. Apple’s salespeople will be trained on Predix’s capabilities and will promote the software in sales situations alongside iOS devices, Susan Prescott, vice president of product market at Apple, told Reuters. 

Engie chief says further acquisitions on the way

October 19th, 2017

Isabelle Kocher, chief executive of Engie, says the company is in a strong position in its restructuring process and plans to make new acquisitions to continue its growth.

Kocher, who is driving Engie's 2016-2018 turnaround strategy that includes $17.72bn worth of asset sales and EUR22bn of investments, said any future deals would nevertheless not be on a major scale.

Kocher said Engie had completed 75 percent of its planned assets sales, and that in 18 months it had carried out targeted acquisitions worth about EUR1.3bn, which are all adapted to its turnaround strategy.

She said the group was looking for partners for its Belgian power subsidiary Electrabel.

"We will probably be able to do more, because we are ahead of all check points in our transformation plan, so it gives us latitude. Engie does not say 'no' to acquisitions", she said.

Meanwhile the French power group announced the acquisition of Fenix International, a next generation energy company, offering Solar Home Systems (SHS) in Africa. Founded in 2009, Fenix employs over 350 people and has its main activities in Uganda where it is the leading SHS player with more than 140,000 customers. Fenix recently expanded into Zambia and plans further roll-outs in other countries across Africa. Fenix will be the first SHS company to join a major worldwide energy company.

Bruno Bensasson, CEO of ENGIE Africa said, “We believe that combining the strengths of ENGIE, a global energy player and Fenix, a successful company with very strong customer focus, high-quality products and an experienced team anchored in the heart of Sub-Saharan Africa, will enable faster deployment of SHS to the large African population still lacking access to electricity.”

“Fenix will be the agile growth engine for ENGIE’s SHS business in Africa and enable us to become a leading profitable off-grid energy services company on the continent, reaching millions of customers by 2020.

“We do believe that universal access is now reachable in a foreseeable future by the combination of national grids extension, local micro-grids and solar home systems, depending on the local characteristics of the energy demand.”

Siemens to make further cuts in power division

October 19th, 2017

Job losses could be on the way at Siemens as the company reels from recent losses in its power and gas units.

An unnamed source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday, “Various scenarios are being considered,” adding details of the overhaul were still to be determined.

The company announced a 41 per cent order drop in June and 23 per cent fall in profits as the ongoing move away from coal and gas power to clean power continues.

 “In light of the dramatic changes seen across the global fossil power market, new cost-cutting measures are required in our view,” Barclays analysts said in a note.

German monthly Manager Magazin earlier cited company sources as saying that Siemens could shut or sell up to 11 of its 23 Power and Gas sites around the world, which could include plants in the eastern German cities of Erfurt and Goerlitz.

The company has so far been non-committal on whether it plans to overhaul its power business. However, the magazine stated a restructuring plan will be introduced in November.

Excluding its services business, the division has 30,000 employees worldwide, of which 12,000 are based in Germany. Siemens is due to publish fourth-quarter financial results on November 9.

Ghana to sell off gas-fired power assets

October 18th, 2017

Ghanaian state-owned power utility the Volta River Authority (VRA) is seeking private partners to help boost the efficiency of its gas- and oil-fired power plants.

Over 20 firms have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring shares in the VRA’s thermal power assets.

According to VRA chair Kweku Awotwi, who spoke with the Reuters news service, the government has not yet decided what percentage of its thermal plants it will sell.

The utility lists its total installed capacity as 2456 MW, with 1325 MW coming from thermal plants and the rest from hydropower as well as one 2.5 MW solar PV plant. Awotwi said the thermal plants are currently operating at 50-65 per cent of their capacity.

The VRA’s “management of the hydro assets is world class” but, “for whatever reason, we’ve not been able to replicate that standard for the thermal assets," he was quoted as saying. 

The gas- and oil-fired plants have contributed to extensive financial losses for the VRA.

In its notice, the government said the sale was part of its “efforts to restructure the energy sector and optimiz[e] … operational efficiency”. 

“Key among these measures is government’s consideration that separating VRA’s thermal operations from its hydro operations will improve their ability to favourably compete with other power generating companies significantly and return it to profitability.”

Meanwhile, Cephas Duse, chair of the VRA’s Senior Staff Association, said in a media briefing this week that the challenges faced by the VRA won’t be solved by selling off its assets.

In a resolution, the staff said it was not consulted on the sale and has petitioned the government to withdraw its notice or risk industrial action.

The staff said they aim to “marshal all available legitimate forces to stall the process and save VRA”.

“Whatever informed the decision to sell was not based on any proper root cause analysis of VRA’s problems and that of the entire power sector,” the staff added.

According to the workers, the sale could result in higher consumer electricity bills, layoffs and even a power crisis if private companies insist that key public institutions pay their bills on time. 



Shell makes UK electric vehicle charging debut

October 18th, 2017

The purchase of one of Europe’s largest electric vehicle charging companies is facilitating Royal Dutch Shell’s first foray into EV charging in the UK.

The EV charging service — branded as “Shell Recharge” — will initially be available at three sites in London, Surrey and Derby with seven further locations within Greater London and Reading due to open by the end of the year and more planned in 2018.
The launch follows the acquisition of NewMotion, the EV charging specialists, who already have 30,000 private home charging points and 50,000 public sites throughout Europe.

While smaller in scale than the NewMotion business, this new service provides the first Shell-branded charging points alongside petrol and diesel pumps at its own filling stations.

Istvan Kapitany, head of retail for Shell, told FT that EV charging would join an increasingly varied “mosaic of options” for drivers at its filling stations around the world, alongside biofuels, LNG, hydrogen and traditional fuels.

 EVs still account for only about 1 per cent of global car sales and an even smaller fraction of cars on the road but the market is growing rapidly. Companies like Shell are anticipating a potential drop in global oil demand as the transition to clean energy continues.

Shell has gone further than most oil and gas groups in preparing for this transition, including a big shift in its portfolio from oil to lower-carbon gas and a series of investments in the electricity supply chain as well as moves into renewable energy and electricity trading.

Rapid-charging technology will allow most EV batteries to reach at least 80 per cent-charged within 30 minutes. Shell also sees an opportunity to increase sales of high-margin food and drink from its convenience stores because of the waiting time while batteries are recharged. This, they hope, will compensate for negative impact on petrol and diesel sales.

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